Band leader/original member Dave Harvey – Millennial Reign
Interviewed by: Anders Sandvall
Thanks to Emil Westerdahl at Ulterium Records for setting up the interview
Thanks to Ulterium Records for the promo pictures of the band.
The third album by Millennial Reign was released in 2018 and is titled THE GREAT DIVIDE. It ought to appeal to fans of power metal. The band has been featured on Metal Rules before but there have been a lot of changes to the line up since then, and because they have a new album out I thought it was a good time to catch up with them. Band leader/original member Dave Harvey and I hooked up and had a chat about the new album, what led up to the member changes, and what the band has planned for the near future. Enjoy…
Hi Dave, how are you doing today? Ready to take on the interview?
A: I’m doing very well, thanks. Sure, let’s do it.
What did fans and media think of the 2015’s CARRY THE FIRE?
A: All the reviews I saw on it were good. Also, there was great reception by the fans at shows and on social media. Looking back, there are a few things I would have done differently but it did decently, I believe.
Do you think you gained new fans with that album?
A: Yes, without question. It was quite a bit different from the first studio project I released so it targeted a new audience.
The band supported Stryper on their To Hell With The Devil 30th anniversary Tour, how was that? Did Stryper fans enjoy your music?
A: Yes, that was a great experience. Our music seems to go over very well with their audience. We’ve even done a few shows with Stryper since that tour.
You also opened for the legendary Joe Lynn Turner in Dallas on a charity show for Families to Fallen Dallas police officers, how was that? Are you and the band involved in any other charity work?
A: Joe Lynn Turner was fantastic live. He hasn’t lost a thing even at the age he’s reached. We haven’t been approached for any other charity shows so nothing since that one. Being that we are based in DFW, that show was definitely one we wanted to do. That tragic episode was very close to us and we wanted to help the families any way possible.
Did you tour anything outside America on the previous album?
A: No, nothing was offered outside the US on that album. We were a completely new band so it was understandable.
How was it to perform together with Delain and Hammerfall?
A: We’ve opened for Hammerfall twice now and it’s always a good experience. Hammerfall is great live and their audience receive us very well.
Would you have like to have toured more on the last album?
A: I’m sure it would have helped sales and gotten our name out more if we could have. Athough, the style we play isn’t huge in the US. There are a few local club venues but those don’t really help with the bigger picture. We mainly focus our efforts on supporting larger acts that come through Dallas on their tours. We’ve built much more of a fan base and sold more band merch at those shows than we ever would playing local clubs.
Has Europe shown any interest?
A: We would love to come to Europe. It’s where our target audience is but we haven’t received any offers yet. Hopefully with the release of our next album, that will happen.
Why did former members Wayne Stokely, James Guest, and Daniel Almagro leave the band?
A: Wayne and Daniel both played in a local band here in the DFW area which was their first priority. They decided to focus more on that so it didn’t really leave time for MR. James has his own commercial roofing business. He was spending an extreme amount of time each week traveling to and from jobs so it just became impossible to devote the time needed to write and record, much less doing shows.
Was it hard to find new members to replace them?
A: Actually, it happened very quickly. I had discussed in prior years putting bands together with both Steve and Neil so they were the first guys I contacted. They were both interested so the rest is history.
Have new drummer Steve Nichols, singer Travis Wills, and bass player Neil Bertrand been part in any other bands/projects before Millennial Reign?
A: Steve was the drummer for Solitude Aeturnus. Neil played in a band with a local shredder called When Angels Die, and Travis sings for a local band called Infidel Rising.
How did fans take the news of their departure, and what do they think of the newcomers? I mean it can be tricky to change lead singer…
A: I haven’t received any negative comments whatsoever. In fact, most of everything I’ve seen or heard personally has been that the band is much better for the change. I know the latest album is much better than the first in my opinion.
I know that Wills sings in Infidel Rising, in which both Almago and Stokely are members. Is that band active today and are there any hard feelings in between you and the former members now?
A: No hard feelings at all. We still talk and see each other every now and then. Infidel has retooled and still playing local clubs every month or two. Travis and Wayne are the only original members still in the band.
Guitarist Jason Donnelly also quit the band, are you going to continue making music with only one guitar player now or are there plans on taking in a second one?
A: When we first regrouped, the plan was to find another guitarist. After playing our first show with Hammerfall we decided it really wasn’t needed. Any harmonies with guitar are done on keys now.
When we last spoke you said that line up was a solid one, still almost everyone left, what are your feelings regarding the line up of today?
A: Today’s line up is much better and more solid. The first line up, MR was a secondary project for them. Both Steve and Neil are committed to MR and it’s a priority.
New album THE GREAT DIVIDE
When did you work on material to the new album?
A: I was writing material for it not long after CARRY THE FIRE was released. I try not to waste a lot of time before starting new songs.
How involved have the rest of the band been in the songwriting process?
A: I normally write the basic structure of the song and then we work things out at a rehearsal. Everyone adds their ideas and writes their personal parts.
Why has it taken you so long to follow up CARRY THE FIRE from 2015? What have you and the band been up to in between the releases?
A: After the first guys decided to bow out, it set things back a little on the new material. Steve and Neil had to learn the older material to keep our commitments with Hammerfall and Theocracy before starting to work on the new material.
With thought of the new members’ arrival, do you think the band have developed anything music-wise?
A: The musicians that came in are on a higher level so it’s a much tighter band now. The first show we did with Hammerfall, we were told it definitely sounded much more powerful than before by fans that were there. These guys were definitely an improvement.
If you read online about the band it’s said that your lyrical themes are Christianity, is the band Christian?
A: We are all believers, yes. We play with most any band in our basic genre but our lyrics definitely reflect our faith.
Why did you name the album THE GREAT DIVIDE? Does the title mean anything special to you?
A: Honestly, it just seemed the best song title to go with, as it gave the best mental picture. “Break The Tide” was also considered but THE GREAT DIVIDE just seemed more suitable.
The well-known Jan Yrlund created the cover art, are you happy with his work? Does it reflect the essence of the album?
A: We are absolutely happy with it. Jan did an awesome job capturing the feel of the title. We get compliments on the artwork all the time. We definitely want him to do the next album as well.
Was he given free hands to create a cover?
A: Yes, he was. I think Ulterium may have had some input but the concept was completely his.
Could you tell the readers a bit about the video to “Break the Tide” that was released in April this year?
A: It was filmed here in the DFW area at a local film studio. The videographer was Jeff Hamm who we also used for a song on CARRY THE FIRE. We think he did very good work is a pleasure to work with. The video was filmed in about a 10 hour session. We were tired after a long day of filming but we think it turned out quite well.
Break The Tide [OFFICIAL MUSIC VIDEO]
Was it fun to shoot the video? Any plans on shooting videos to any of the other songs on the album?
A: Yes, we enjoyed shooting it. When you are working with people who are professional and make it interesting. If we do any other song videos it’ll most likely be from live footage. We’re too deep into the next album to spend that much money on TGD again.
Were there any left over songs you didn’t use on the final edition of the album?
A: Yes, actually there were two songs left over. We just didn’t feel they fit the rest of the album direction. They’re both good, usable songs so I may end up using them on another project sometime.
Last time we spoke, you said that you loved to work together with Guest, how is it today, who do you write material with?
A: Travis and I worked together mostly on TGD. He lives a couple houses over from me so it made things much easier. We could actually get in the same room as we were writing to make any needed adjustments.
The album clocks in at about 50 minutes which is pretty long. Was it your intention of making a long album this time and give fans a lot of music for their money?
A: I can’t say it was intentional, I just wrote what comes natural. My main influences were bands like Iron Maiden and Queensryche so writing more epic length songs just happens.
The info sheet regarding the band writes that THE GREAT DIVIDE is a really strong US power metal album, do you agree with that?
A: I think it’s much stronger than CARRY THE FIRE. As with any new band, I was searching for my niche when writing that album. I think TGD came much closer to the sound I wanted. The songs I’m writing now, I feel are even better than TGD… hopefully everyone will agree.
I can also read that fans of Queensryche, Crimson Glory, Stryper and your label mates Theocracy are going to enjoy the music of Millennial Reign, is that correct? Do you think you have huge similarities with above mention band music-wise?
A: I think that fans of those bands will like our music as well. I don’t think we actually sound like any of them. Although, I’m sure you can hear the influences of those bands in the music.
What are the biggest differences between this new album and the previous one?
A: My first thought would be the song writing is better on TGD. Also, I’ve learned a lot about production since recording CARRY THE FIRE so that stands out as well. The upcoming album should be even better.
How would you like to describe what kind of music the band play?
A: I’d just call it traditional power metal. I’ve been told by several people there in Europe that we sound like a European band. I consider that a compliment since Euro Metal is basically about 99% of what I listen to.
Last time you said the band had the Maiden duel guitar harmony and that the old singer had vocal similarities with the Queensryche singer, what do you think about that today?
A: I think we’ve secured more of our own sound on TGD. There’s always still room for improvement but I think the music has moved in the right direction.
What do media and fans think of THE GREAT DIVIDE? Do you care about what critics write about your work?
A: I think every band wants good reviews but to be honest, it’s all subjective. Just because a reviewer doesn’t like a band’s music doesn’t make it bad. The reviews have always been good for the most part but I didn’t think the fans care about that. They just know if they like it or not.
Till The End [OFFICIAL AUDIO]
Are there any differences in how the band is portrayed by the press in the US and Europe?
A: We’ve had much more press from Europe than the US. There are a few media outlets here that have covered us but we aren’t what’s US mainstream. I can’t say there’s been much difference in the two continents other than that.
Studio and production
Where was THE GREAT DIVIDE recorded and who produced it?
A: I did all the recording in my own small studio. Mix and master was done by Ty Sims at the Revovery Room Studio. He’s done a lot of work for several well known bands and musicians. I know he produced the latest House of Lords album.
Ty Sims did the mix and mastering. Were any of the band members part of that process?
A: A couple of us were there for the very final mix just to help with levels. Nothing really major.
When did you begin to record the album and how long did it take to get it done?
A: I think we started recording around the end of September 2017 and finished the mix in November. It wasn’t too long.
Label and management
You still signed to the Swedish Ulterium Records, are you happy with the work the label have put into the band so far?
A: Yes, very much. They have been extremely helpful with everything. We definitely couldn’t have accomplished as much without them on both releases. We’re looking forward to our next release as well.
Are you happy with the numbers the previous album sold in?
A: I’m sure it could have been better but as I said before, that album was a production learning process for me. If I’d known then what I know now it could have been a better album all around.
How did the label take the news of that three members was going to leave the band?
A: They were completely understanding. They know as well as anyone that things happen and people decide to leave.
With UR being a smaller label, do you feel the band’s got the support needed to reach success?
A: Yes, we do. We realize it’s limited because of size but but we’ve accomplished most of what we set out to do with their help.
Do you see any problems or difficulties in the fact that the band lives in the US and the label is situated across the Atlantic in Sweden?
A: Not at all. Granted, I would like to be closer but it hasn’t created any problems other than the post office losing our very first shipment of CDs and vinyl LOL. We’ve had everything thing shipped to another member ever since then because it’s a normal thing from my local post office.
Besides CD, the album is also released on vinyl, but why did you chose to released THE GREAT DIVIDE in only 300 vinyl copies?
A: That is actually the decision of the label. Vinyl is much more expensive to produce so I completely understand the reason.
Is it available for download or at Spotify or iTunes?
A: Yes, both albums are at all the normal music outlets.
What do you think of the fact that bands today aren’t selling that many copies of physical albums any more and rely more and more on side-business like writing biographies or creating their own alcohol brand?
A: I can understand that from bands who rely completely on music to make their living. It’s a business so you’re always looking fo other ways to be prosperous. All members of MR hold down full time jobs so the music is all we focus on.
Is that anything you could consider doing?
A: Probably not. It’s really not necessary and I can’t say I’ve had an interesting enough career that anyone would buy a book about LOL.
And what are your thoughts on bands charging huge amount from fans for meet and greet?
A: That’s really a tricky question. I can understand the music business isn’t what it used to be so they have to come with ways to make more money. But some of these bands charge really excessive amounts. In my opinion that’s taking advantage of your fans and a bit lacking in respect.
Last time you didn’t work with any management, what’s the status today?
A: Still no management, I have been handling everything. We would be interested in a good manager or booking agent but nothing has really surfaced.
Any plans on re-record the self titled debut album soon? I know you were thinking about it last time we spoke..
A: Nothing definite but it’s still on my mind. I’d like to re-record CARRY THE FIRE as well. My production experience has reached the level where I know I could make a major improvement on them.
Past present and future
You come from Arlington Texas, do all of the members live there today?
A: Not from Arlington but from around the metroplex area. DFW is extremely huge and includes many separate cities. Steve lives in Plano and Neil is in Frisco.
The band performed together with Apocalyptic and Scrap Iron earlier this year, how was that?
A: Those are good bands and we always enjoy playing with them. The guys are all great musicians as well.
You also performed at the Exodo Fest Festival in Mexico, what other bands performed there and what kind of festival was it?
A: The only other band I was really familiar with was Norma Jean. Most all the other bands were from Mexico or Puerto Rico. Exodo Fest is in it’s 17th year now I believe. It’s a long running Christian Metal fest that has all metal sub genres. It was a lot of fun.
Do you have any tour plans booked for next year?
A: Nothing as of yet. We have a couple international support slots that have yet to be confirmed. Our main focus right now is on material for the upcoming album.
Would you have liked to tour more than you have done so far?
A: Yes, I think every band wants to tour but jobs and funds for touring are always the major hurdle. Touring small club venues are really not worth the trouble here. The support for lesser known bands has all but dried up in the US.
Have you begun work on material for the next album yet?
A: Yes, we have. We are more than halfway finished writing the music. I took a few months after the latest release and then started writing again in late September.
When do you think the next Millennial Reign album is available in stores?
A: That’s hard to say. I’m working to have the album finished this summer but sometimes circumstances change. Hopefully we can release late this year or early next year.
Do you consider Millennial Reign as a band or a project today?
A: It’s definitely a band now but it started as an 80s metal recording project. CARRY THE FIRE began as another recording project but we built it into a band after recording the album.
The band got a really nice website, who runs it? Do many fans buy stuff from your webstore?
A: I built and run the site. I get a few orders every so often but most of our band sales happen at shows. Since we support a lot of national and international acts, we sell a high amount of merch at those shows.
What’s the most common question you get from fans?
A: Probably “when is the next show?” As I said earlier, we don’t play local club venues so our shows can be anywhere from two weeks to 3 months apart. Sometimes we are contacted by the venue to support a national act or we attempt to book it ourselves. It’s really pointless to play club venues anymore because the local music support just isn’t what it used to be.
Last time you said the bands biggest fanbase was located in Brazil and Greece, is it still so?
A: I think we’ve built a little bigger following here in the US than before. Playing the bigger shows puts us in front of a lot more people so it definitely helps to build our fan base.
Are you happy with the things Millennial Reign have achieved so far?
A: Yes, absolutely. Of course I want to expand on that as we go but I don’t think what we’ve achieved is too bad so far. Europe is my biggest goal right now.
Could you give the readers three reasons why they should buy THE GREAT DIVIDE?
A: If you’re a fan of traditional power metal you will probably like it. The lyrics are positive and uplifting. The production is good and make listening enjoyable.
What would you like to say to the ones who haven’t heard the bands music yet?
A: Give it a listen… you’ve got nothing to lose and everything to gain.
Finally, do you have any words of wisdom to share with fans and readers?
A: It’s never too late and you’re never too old to pursue your dream. Never give up. Better late in life than not at all.
Thanks a lot for another round with me and metal-rules.com. I wish you and the band all the best in the future, take care!
A: No problem, thank you as well. Hope to make it to Europe and meet everyone in person soon!
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