First question, how are you located in Canada, a country with a good history in the Metal Scene, could you give a summary of Underground Music currently in Canada?
CASEY:The underground metal scene in Canada, specifically Calgary, is vast and diverse almost to the point of over saturation. It takes a special group of people to truly stand out. Before the Covid-19 lockdown, there were Friday nights where you could start at an all ages noise core/doom show at local hot dog restaurant, Tubby Dog, and then head over to the 80's metal cover show a few blocks down at Morgans. Once you're done there, there would likely be a hard core show happening at Vern's, or a full-on melodic death metal show at Dicken's. It gets a little frustrating as a performer trying to draw crowds, but as a fan it is a literal smorgasbord of riffs.
AMANDA:We're often thought of as the 'rednecks' of Canada, or 'cowboy country' here in Calgary, and throughout the province of Alberta. While that is partly true, we have just as many, if not more musicians and artists who are the complete opposite of that kind of stereotype. Calgary's music and metal scene is a vast and thriving one that has been going strong for decades, and very close-knit. Many of us are in multiple bands or have been in bands in the past that have since evolved or swapped out musicians, or have stepped in as temporary session players to fill in for a series of gigs when there was a need.
It really feels like Family, and like families, we span across cities and provinces and we have been building alliances over time, with tours, festivals and so many shows (the good, pre-covid days!) We support and promote each other and it's a really positive community, for the most part. There's a lot of collaboration and connection and we're proud of the community that we've built. I'm really hoping we can get back to that LIVE LIFE with each other soon, because we really miss it. But it's also been great to see the creative innovation that's come out of this time (bands doing play-through videos and streaming live) and looking forward to hearing what everyone has been working on, cuz there's A LOT!
GUY: Calgary is oozing with talent. There is no shortage of amazing bands filled with world class musicians. It’s a supportive community and shows are always a great night out, whether you’re playing or watching.
I can hear that the band explores in its debut album "Oracle" a lot of melodies and musical variation, how much time does the band usually spend writing and elaborating each song in this album?
ROSS:I had the songs on “Oracle” ready shortly after “Session 3 – Serpent King” was released – I think it was early 2018. Everyone learned their parts and we started playing the new songs live which was great because it allowed the songs to evolve and become more cohesive. Once we were ready to record, there wasn’t any major rewriting, just tweaking parts and doing small refinements.
I think all songwriters have moments of flow and moments of struggle and I’m no different. “Eternal”, for example, was really quick with all the parts coming together in a couple of days. Compare that to “Vision” where I was writing and rewriting parts over the span of weeks. I actually had the mellow guitar ending right in the middle of the song initially but I thought it was a little too predictable so I shifted it to the end.
AMANDA: Ross is a writing machine! Though his songs were already laid out for us to just step in and play, I really appreciate that he has always been open to each of us to add our own musical flair, which has developed naturally over time in rehearsal, performances, and solidified in the recording process. “Oracle” and “Heiress” were the last two songs that really came together over about a week or two during recording, since we hadn’t really played them live before the Covid lockdown.
GUY: Ross is always writing banging riffs and showing them to me. For Oracle we had a few sessions with just the two of us where we fleshed out his ideas for two guitars, arranging parts etc. Oracle was much more of a collaborative effort than the previous releases, but Ross usually has a good picture of where he wants the music to go.
Amanda Bourdon's contribution to Bass, Vocals, is quite remarkable. Can we expect more in the future album?
ROSS:Absolutely! It’s awesome knowing we have her voice in the band because it’s such a contrast to my growls/yells. It allows us to use vocals in a dynamic way that opens up ideas and concepts that my voice wouldn’t be able to do. I actually made a decision that I wasn’t going to do any clean signing on “Oracle” because I wanted Amanda’s voice to own the cleans – she has such a strong, beautiful voice!
AMANDA:Thanks so much!! (Aww, thanks Ross :) This was actually my first metal recording playing bass, and it was a challenge. It was quite an honour to sing some leads, and harmonies are just fun for me. I love the music and I love my bandmates, so I’d be thrilled to continue in any way that serves the band!
GUY:Amanda is hugely gifted in music (playing keyboards and singing in another great prog metal band from Calgary called Caveat). When Ross mentioned that he wanted Amanda to own the clean vocals on Oracle, we all agreed that it was a perfect idea. As the broad genre of metal expands, there is more and more room for expression besides the heavy stuff, and we had the opportunity to explore these other moods thanks to Amanda's talents. Her voice and bass playing is part of the Greybeard identity, so there will be more of her artistic contributions to come.
Your lyrics have very curious themes, could you explain what inspired you to build the lyrics?
ROSS:“Oracle” is a concept album so all the songs connect to each other and tell a story. It’s pure fantasy with a hero, a young girl who can see the past and future, and a villain, who betrays his village to save himself. All of the songs lead to the climax, Vengeance with the epilogue being Heiress of the Night.
Are you planning a Tour, Video-clip to this album?
ROSS: No tour plans at this point, I’m not too keen on travelling at this point but maybe once Covid-19 is under control. We’re working on some play-through videos… stay tuned.
AMANDA: I would love a chance to tour and expand our audience. Play-through videos are a new thing for us, so figuring it out is another fun challenge.
GUY:We would love to be touring Canada, Europe and South America but the pandemic has halted plans. We are working on bringing our band experience to our fanbase through social media at the moment.
What has been the band’s best and worst moment so far in quarantine life?
ROSS: Not being able to jam gets me pretty bummed out sometimes. It would have been nice to do a release show but what can you do… The best moment was finishing the album while in lockdown: I did a WhatsApp call with Casey and Amanda (they live together) when she was finishing the final vocal parts for “Heiress of the Night”. It was cool to be able to collaborate and finish the album even while Covid lockdowns were in full effect.
AMANDA: I second that, Ross. I miss jamming and playing shows and seeing all of our friends, meeting new ones… Having more time to record and finally finishing the album was a definite highlight. Hearing the final product and the positive feedback from its release has been a treat! I’m very proud of what we’ve done.
GUY:Not being able to play shows has been heartbreaking. We were really hitting our stride by the end of 2019, and were hoping to have a big show to launch the album by now. My bandmates brought a new level of excellence to the record and I can't wait to show it off.
What are the future plans of the band?
ROSS: Nothing planned at this point really, other than try to promote this album. It’s hard to plan with Covid hanging over everything. I do have a bunch of song ideas that I want to start refining. We were also chatting about what cover songs we want to try, and we may take a run at “Symptom of the Universe” by Black Sabbath just because it’s one of the best metal guitar riffs ever!! \m/
AMANDA: Once again, Ross nailed it. I’m excited to hear those song ideas! I just wanna get better at my craft and get out there if there are any venues left to play once this Covid madness is behind us.
GUY: Ross has already shown me enough fantastic new song ideas for an entire new album, but our focus is to bring Oracle to new and existing audiences.