Interview with Opus
Conducted by Robert Williams
Dead By Wednesday has been touring North America alongside NWOBHM legends Raven in a bill they’ve described as “old school meets new school”. The four piece have been touring in support of their new album Ellefson Music Productions debut “Darkest of Angels” an album chock full of guest vocal appearances including John Arch of Fates Warning and Erik AK of Flotsam and Jetsam to name a few. We recently checked in with drummer Opus who took time out of his busy touring schedule to fill us in on life from the road…
How are you doing today Opus?
A little tired but I’m ok. Thanks for asking.
Dead By Wednesday is currently out on the road with NWOBHM legends Raven on quite an extensive tour. So far you have traveled through a hurricane and lost your bassist for a few nights. Fill us in on how this road trip has been for Dead By Wednesday so far?
The road is treating us well. Obviously there’s always some ups and downs and there will always be! But for the most part it’s been an amazing experience. The Raven dudes are some of the most amazingly humble and funny people that we’ve ever met. Some of the stories they tell are almost surreal. From being on a bus with Cliff Burton to funny stories about Slayer, etc. It’s pretty rad to be blown off the stage every night by guys who are double our age! Love those dudes though!
As far as the bass player situation… Basically our bassist Mike’s mom was ill & he’s an only child. We had a couple days off and we believe that family should always come first so we told him to fly home to see what’s up. He played the first week of the run and then the hurricane hit. His flight was cancelled until a few days later then intended so we got stuck without a bassist for a couple dates due to Hurricane Harvey, he’s back now finally and all is well.
In the mean time, we were lucky enough to meet an awesome person and musician named Mike Canales of Project Terror from San Antonio, Texas one night while playing with them and he stepped up to the plate, learned our stuff in one night and went for it. He did a solid job and we can’t thank him enough! What a great dude.
Anyway, as far as the hurricane, we literally had to drive through it to play the three shows we had booked in Texas and it was unbelievably scary. No joke, I feared for my life on a few different occasions while driving. We just made it out by the skin of our teeth. At one point we were literally just driving in the center of the road where the highest part was and both sides of the road looked like a lake. Houses and trees were almost covered. We had to drive way North to go up and around Houston and even the outskirts were very bad. We even had to drive on the opposite side of the road for miles with out knowing what was coming since the right side of the road was completely flooded. Our hearts go out to all the people & families suffering through that tragedy.
Sounds scary. Glad you all were able to make it outta here in one piece. Give our readers a little history about the band. I know you had a previous singer who hit a few road bumps and with a never say die attitude you were able to recruit some very special guest vocalists for your EMP label debut “Darkest of Angels”…
Oh yeah! Well the band has a very long history and has been through many different line ups and metamorphosis but we are stronger then ever and back on track now. Basically how it all went down before catching the eye of Thom Hazaërt and David Ellefson of Megadeth was our former singer unfortunately fell on to some personal tough times and was missing sold out shows while on the road then got into some legal trouble so it was time for us to move on.
So in the mean time we had an entire kick ass album written and recorded and we didn’t haven’t a vocalist, so we decided to do something a little different and make a guest vocalist album that was sort of a concept album about addiction.
We called upon a lot of our singer friends from our area or bands we’ve known and toured with. The people who came to our aid and stepped up to the plate were more than willing but also more than what we expected.
I mean, John Arch of Fates Warning, Eric AK of Flotsam & Jetsam, Brian Fair of Shadows Fall, Carley Coma of Candiria and the list goes on, made our EMP release “Darkest of Angels” very special.
The band started off as more of a punk/hardcore crossover band in the early stages and slowly morphed into a straight heavy metal band which is what I love best. I’m an old school metal head but I love all different styles of music. Our first album came out in 2006 on Jamey Jasta of Hatebreed’s Stillborn Records, our second on Chris Poland’s Eclipse records, and so on and so forth until now… It’s been a stepping stone experience along the way.
How we found our new power house of a singer is a pretty awesome story as well. I answered a Craigslist ad and most of the people sucked, I stumbled across this one dude Rob Roy who sent me some of his demos and they sounded pretty fucking awesome. He could sing very well but also had a scream similar to Phil Anselmo. So I got onto a phone conversation with him and it went terrible. We decided not to work together at that point so I was back to square one.
All the while, we were piecing together our current guest vocalist album. Then since touring on Shadows Fall’s last tour, I asked the guys in Shadows Fall if they knew anyone worthy out there and it just so happens that Jon D (who is now in Anthrax) and Matt B (who is now in Act of Defiance) saw this dude rock out some Pantera at a local karaoke from the area they’re all from in MA and actually thought he rocked and was thinking about doing a side project with him. Well when I asked them if they knew anyone good, they actually referred me to some dude named Rob. Come to find out that it was the same guy I just spoke with. So at that point, we were like well this is the second time we were in contact, maybe it’s fate so let’s give it a shot. And since then it’s been amazing! We work well together and write some killer tunes!
For someone who made the transition from Jamey Jasta’s label to Dave Ellefson’s label; tell me about how it’s been working with EMP so far? Are they helping you get the word out about the band?
Yeah man, I can’t say enough about both labels but EMP has treated us very well. We were one of the first bands to get picked up by them when they first started so we received some awesome love and respect. They’re the reason why we connected with the legendary Raven and they helped promote our last album with some great promo and radio work. Good solid pro people! I’m happy to be a part of the EMP team. Since then I’ve helped scout some bands, for example I’ve helped connect the new band A Killer’s Confession to EMP which features Mushroomhead’s ex-singer Waylon Reavis. It’s really a great family!
A lot of the metal heads who turn out to see Raven live are pushing fifty plus. Has it been hard performing this more modern, commercial style of metalcore for an audience who might be unfamiliar or uninterested with this style? Have fans generally been receptive or has it really taken a lot to win over some of these crowds?
I think we are simply just a heavy metal band. First of all, we don’t really consider ourselves metalcore, somehow if you scream and sing all of a sudden people consider you metalcore. We have elements of old school thrash in some of our music as well as funk and punk even but we love all styles of music.
I think anyone with an open mind would see that. We want to be a band that can appeal to all walks of life… not just death heads or this or that. It’s actually been very fun, yes some of the die hard metal elitist’s are just not interested but it actually has been working to both of our advantages.
There’s been shows where we had a bunch of people who did not know who Raven was at all and ended up loving them. So our opinion is even if we take ten to twenty percent of their audience and they end up becoming fans then we are doing something right. We don’t expect to turn everyone on every night but we knew what we were getting into from the get go. The idea was to pair up an old school metal band with a new school metal band to try and bridge the gaps. We were actually hand picked by John Gallagher of Raven himself through EMP label group which is an honor in itself. I think if you play from your heart and people see that, they will respect you for it no matter what you do!
Do you feel like the band has grown closer, tighter after this monster stateside trek or are you looking forward to getting some quiet time when this all wraps up?
The band always gets tighter and closer every run & we learn more and more as well every time too. If anything this band is the perfect example of perseverance that there is. Through using fill ins, blizzards, hurricanes, etc. we always prevail and we don’t stop!
Of course, I always look forward to some down time after a tour but only because I miss the hell out of my little boy Orion who is turning four in October that’s probably the biggest obstacle with touring is missing my boy. Besides that, it’s like being with family out here especially now with our new family Raven!
Have you guys had the chance to start writing a follow up album to “Darkest of Angels”? If so, how would you describe the musical direction of the new material?
Absolutely! We have already written a bunch of stuff and recorded a few with our producer Nicky Bellmore from Toxic Holocaust. They are pretty slamming! I would say half brutality & half melodic. Basically just following the blue print where our last album “Darkest of Angels” left off. We plan on trying to have a new full length done by early to mid 2018!
Who handles the lyric writing in DBW? What do you think inspires their lyrics?
Well, on the guest vocalist album each individual singer co-wrote the songs with us meaning the melodies & lyrics but now that we have our full time singer Rob Roy… he pretty much handles all the lyrics now and it depends on what the song is but a lot of the topics have been about his disdain and disgust with where humanity is heading right now but also there’s some songs that are more personal to him like about his recently deceased Uncle or broken relationships, whatever his mood is at the time. Sometimes we contribute as well but mostly just with the music writing and arrangements.
Tell me about how you originally got into heavy metal music… Was there a particular band that inspired you to play the drums? Was there a definitive moment in time you can remember deciding this is what you wanted to do when you grew up?
Hell yeah! I used to hit pots and pans outside my grandparents house putting on a show for everyone who drove by but when I was a kid I saw and heard KISS for the first time through my older brother. It scared and amazed me all in one. I was instantly hooked and after studying them, I quickly knew exactly what I wanted to do with my life.
After my parents told me “No way”, I ended up finding a piece of crap orange sparkly drum set at a tag sale down the street from my house for $35. I used my own paper route money for it but had to borrow $10 from my brother to make it happen. Once I got it, I bothered the shit out of my neighbors and literally banged on it night and day until I taught myself how to play drums. I played along to “Shout At the Devil” by Crue amongst others and eventually later down the line I took some basic lessons just to make sure I learned what I was doing wrong and corrected it. I’m still learning to this day. In fact, some of my mentors as of late are Mike Heller (being on the road with him, he has shown me some techniques) and of course my homey Jason Bittner (who I’ve teched for sometimes). I feel that a good musician should always want to learn more from others always.
Anyway, funny story about KISS though… years later when I was mid teenager and already playing out in clubs because I booked my first show at age thirteen and never stopped, I ended up opening for Peter Criss’ solo band “Criss” right after he was thrown out of the band. We had a ton of people there for us and had a great show… Unfortunately, when I went to meet him and get my drum head signed, he was a complete dick to me and said “No”. I was pretty bummed and it escalated fast. I told him that he sucked for crushing my dreams which started a fight between his Brooklyn, NY crew and our CT metal crew back stage. I don’t even know why he was like that but he looked tired and fucked up so maybe it was just that. It sucks when someone you look up to treats you that way.
Anyway, some of the drummers I really look up to who have molded who I am today as a drummer is Dave Lombardo, Vinnie Paul, Buddy Rich, Stewart Copeland, Alex Van Halen, John Bonham, Lars Ulrich, Bill Ward, and a few others.
Talk to me about your plans once this tour wraps up, are you going to plan another trek in support of “Darkest of Angels” or shift your focus back to the studio? How do you foresee Dead By Wednesday spending the remainder of 2017?
Well as of now we have a possible European tour happening in February of 2018 but yes, we absolutely will be shifting gears to writing and recording and finishing our next album for sure!
So most of the end of 2017 will be writing, recording and maybe some weekend gigs here and there but mostly in our Northeast / New England area unless of course we get a touring offer we cannot refuse, I guess you never know but as of now just the Euro run early next year and a lot of writing!
Thank you for taking the time to talk metal, Opus. Any last words for your fans reading at home before we wrap this up?
No brother, Thank You! Without people like you there is no Dead By Wednesday! Anyway, we just want to say that we cherish each and every person that supports us and has been for a while. For anymore info or updates on the band, they can go to any of our social media pages: