Vis Mystica’s Connor McCray talks about how Star Wars can inspire a power metal album
Vis Mystica is a very interesting power metal band from Pennsylvania. Listening to this group is like finding an oasis in the middle of the driest desert. Although one of its main characteristics is that its music is based on the Star Wars universe, it is fair to say that its music shines by itself and it is not for less, since its influences are not found in its local scene, not even in its country. Meet another power metal band that from the depths of the American underground scene makes the flame of power metal shine with a very special glow. Connor McCray (Guitar, Bass, Orchestration) talks to Metal-Rules.com about what’s to come.
Tell me, how was your first approach to Star Wars?
I watched the original trilogy as a young kid and have always loved it, honestly. As I got older and started playing more of the games and reading the comics I gravitated more towards those.
Are you a fan of all the movies or just the first trilogy?
Oh, I definitely enjoy certain parts of all of the films but the original trilogy is unquestionably my favorite.
Did you like that Disney bought the rights to continue squeezing the franchise?
Honestly, it doesn’t bother me much as long as they continue to do a good job with the TV shows; I’d love to see them incorporate Knights of the Old Republic in but I doubt that’ll ever happen.
There is a huge wave of critics who do not consider Star Wars a science fiction story, but a mixture of samurai and political intrigue with laser weapons, what do you think about it?
I mean the beauty of any medium of literature or cinema is the different interpretations of it but I personally have never viewed it that way.
Star Wars is a very rich and wide universe, why do you think it has been so little exploited in power metal?
That is an excellent question… Honestly, I’d say it’s because it didn’t have as much of a well known literary background as something like Lord of the Rings, which makes extensive songwriting very difficult. For me, all of my influence comes from the comics and games, at least for the time being.
Tell me about the band, how did you get together to make a power metal band?
So I’ve been toying around with the idea of a Power Metal band since I joined my first band in 2015; a Death Metal band called Bravura. Devin (Dewyer, vocals) and I had met on and off for the past four years or so but only after I joined the band Dredneks with him last year did I really discover how good of a singer he was! Honestly, nowadays we do most things together, musical or otherwise.
Where did the name of the band come from, didn’t you think of using something closer to George Lucas’s universe?
So I actually came up with the name from lyrics I had heard in a pair of Rhapsody of Fire songs; being that this was a band with a Star Wars tinge to it I decided that Latin for the name “Mystic Force” seemed fitting. I didn’t want it to be too derivative from any of the films, in case we ever decide to expand our horizons in the future.
Does power metal abound in your hometown or local scene?
Not at all! Our respective hometowns have a combined population of about 10,000 and not many people listen to genres other than Country. That being said, there’s a togetherness between a lot of US Power Metal bands simply because there aren’t very many of us!
I’ve just heard Lux Et Veritas. You achieved an amazing sound! What were your musical influences to compose something like that?
Thank you so much! Well first and foremost my primary influence as a musician and songwriter is Luca Turilli; I’m sure anyone who is familiar with his work in Rhapsody can hear that in our music. Apart from that, I take heavy influences from bands like Blind Guardian, Angra, Queen, Iron Maiden in addition to the wonderful composer Jeremy Soule.
How was your compositional process in the whole album, how did you work together?
So being that we’re spread out by a fair distance I will initially write the basic ideas on guitar and put together a simple MIDI drum best and write everything down in Guitar Pro. After that when I go to record the rough drafts I’ll begin adding vocal patterns, orchestral arrangements from my MIDI keyboard, etc… After everything is finished I email the stems off to everyone else to finish their own individual parts.
How was the approach to have the voice of David Michael Moote?
I’ve been a huge an of Dave and his band Operus since I first heard them in 2017 or so and I’ve really dreamed of having him on a song for a long time. Eventually, I just messaged him out of the blue and he was very enthusiastic to come on board. You can hear in the song why I wanted him; he is a true world class singer but he’s also an awesome dude along with the rest of his band.
I read your tracklist and the collaboration of Jonas Heidgert from Dragonland is striking! How did you manage to contact him? Do you know what he’s up to now? Because it is almost 10 years since his last album with Draongland!
Same as Dave, actually! Jonas and I are friends on Facebook so I just messaged him out of the blue one night when I’d had enough to drink and he really enjoyed what I sent him! He’s an awesome guy too and a lot of fun to chat with; I won’t divulge too much insider info but he’s got some exciting new music coming!
Correct me if I’m wrong, but your debut album, Celestial Wisdom, will only have six songs and one of them will be a cover, right? Why will you release an album with only six songs?
So this is simply an EP, rather than a full-length album. I have many songs composed for a full length but unfortunately, it’s an extremely expensive process and takes plenty of time to get everything ready. I’m hoping with the release of the EP we can recoup enough money to finish the rest of the full length.
How many songs do you have saved?
There are probably 10-15 additional songs on the backburner that I have ready to go for future albums but above all else, I wanted to challenge myself to see if I could make music in a timely manner; these songs were all composed in a 6 month period or so this year.
In which formats will your album be released and how can it be purchased?
We’re going to be doing a limited run of CDs that will be available on all major outlets worldwide, thanks to a deal I can’t divulge much info about! Apart from that, you’ll be able to find us at every major streaming outlet.
Do you have a video clip or lyric video planned soon to continue spreading the album?
I’m hoping to do a lyric video sometime soon, yes! Like anything else though it’s a very expensive process.
What will follow after this release, will you work on new songs?
Absolutely! I almost never take time off from playing guitar, being that it’s my day job as a teacher. I’m already composing several new songs.
Thank you very much for your time! Any final words for readers?
Stay safe and continue to visit Metal Rules, everyone! I hope you all enjoy what we’re doing and thank you for your support.