n the eve of the great COVID-19 pandemic, the Salt Lake City-based gothcore band A LOST ASYLUM released their self-titled debut album via PAVEMENT ENTERTAINMENT. This isn't the most ideal time to go big with your debut release but front woman HOLLY WATSON and the band, GIL MENCHACA (guitars), DANTE LONG (guitars), JUSTIN BELL (drums) and JAMES ROAKE (bass), are committed pros and have been even before the founding of the band back in 2016. In the past four years A LOST ASYLUM has built up a loyal fanbase by steadily and stealthily touring the West Coast and if the the band's hard hitting, riff-driven brand of gothcore is to be believed, there is a grit and a resilience to this band that will not be denied. ROCKWIRED had a chance to speak with A LOST ASYLUM's front woman HOLLY WATSON over the phone. Here is how the interview went.
A LOST ASYLUM's self-titled debut album is out now and the band has been signed ot PAVEMENT ENTERTAINMENT. Now that all of the work that went into making the album is behind you, how do you feel about the finished work?
I am so happy with it. I'm very proud of it. I'm happy with the way that it worked out and I love how people are receiving it. The reception to it has been a lot better than I thought that it would be. I think it has exceeded all of our expectations.
Were there any reactions to the album that surprised you or that you didn't see coming?
Just everyone's overall love for the album. I really had no idea how the whole thing was going to be received just becasue our sound is so different. It's hardcore with a female vocalist so I didn't know whow well it was going to go over. In general that album has been received really well and that alone has been surprising.
CHECK OUT THE MUSIC VIDEO FOR SAFE iN PiECES!!!
I understand you guys worked with TRISTAN ANDERSON on the production for this album. Describe working with him.
TRISTAN is a really, really good producer. He was able to hear stuff that we were missing. Sometimes you need someone from an outside perspective to look in on your music because you get so involved in it that you don't see certain things. TRISTAN was able to get me personally to perform a lot better on the album. He just kept pushing me. He would say, "No, that didn't sound right! I need you to do it again! You need to put a little more heart into it!" There are all of these little dynamics that he could hear that I couldn't hear. His input really made a huge difference in the end and I was really glad to have him on our side.
How long did it take ot put this album together?
It took about two to three months in the studio for us to complete it. Post-production took about three months.
And I've got to say you guys did a wonderful job for the music video for SAFE IN PIECES. Who did you guys work with in putting it together?
We worked with a company called BRAVE PRODUCTIONS. Her name is BRECKAN and she runs it. She also did another music video for us for the song GHOST OF US. She's also done all of our band pictures. We have a really good rapport with her and she is just a consumate professional.
Describe the music scene that you are surrounded by in Salt Lake City. Is it supportive? Is it indifferent?
For certain genres it's really good around here. We have a really good heavy metal scene and alot of alternative indie music is really popular here. We kind of fall on the lighter side of metal and we have our diehard fans around here but we're not so well received here. We kind of have to venture out of state a lot to do shows. We get received a lot better outside of our immediate location.
What places have received you better?
A couple years ago we went on tour through Colorado and we were well received there. We've played through California and Arizona. All of those places seem to receive us a lot better than here in Salt Lake City. That's not to say that what we've got here is bad. It's just that there aren't a lot of people here who like our type of music.
Bring me back to the beginning of A LOST ASYLUM. How did it all get started?
Myself, JUSTIN, JAMES and GIL were all in a different band together and then GIL left to do his own thing and me and JUSTIN wnted to do different sound because the sound that we had in our previous band wasn't really the sound that we wanted. So we decided to do a side project. So we got GIL back and we brought JAMES in and then we actually had a different drummer then and JUSTIN was on the bass. So we got together and started messing around. We had some members going in and out. JUSTIN switched to the drums and finally after we were able to get our lineup together we were able to start pursuing the sound that we wanted. Over time our other band kind of fell to the wayside and fell apart. Eventually this band became our main focus.
How was this previous band of your's different from A LOST ASYLUM?
We weren't as hard and heavy. There was a lighter feel to that band but we couldn't quite get the sound that we wanted with the members that we had in that band. Bringing GIL in and kind of giving him the reigns as far as structuring the music was what changed things for us. He writes a lot of the music on guitar and then he'll bring it to everyone and ask what everyone thinks. That is kind of how we go about shaping our sound as a band and GIL plays a huge part when it comes to the sound of this band.
What was your own musical experience before your previous band?
For me, growing up I was in choir for about twelve years or so through school and at church. I also took some private musical lessons. I dabbled with a couple of instruments like piano, violin, trumpet and guitar. I was in a band in high school for a little while but it was high school band so once we all got out of high school we all went our own separate ways. For a while after that I wasn't in a band and then I ended up meeting up with JUSTIN and we started that first band and now I'm with A LOST ASYLUM.
What music inspired you to go on the musical path that you have taken?
I really like metalcore and emo music so I still listen to MY CHEMICAL ROMANCE and ALKALINE TRIO. I was really into UNDER OATH and ALEXIS ON FIRE. Those are the kinds of bands that have shaped my musical preferences today. It all kind of evolved from there.
Talk about the other members of the band and what it is that each of them brings to the table that makes this thing work.
JAMES is on bass. He was originally the guitar player but when our bass player quit JAMES ended up filling that role. He's still learning but he has come leaps and bounds as far as that goes and he is really able to take instruction which is really good. He's willing to try anything and he is really flexible. DANTE is the rhythm guitar player but on this album he did the unclean vocals and the screaming. He is a really good rhythm guitar player. He can listen to a song one time through and know how to play it. It is insane. He has an amazing ear and all of the power behind his vocals is also incredible. GIL is the main songwriter in this band and he can really shred on the guitar which is really nice. JUSTIN is on drums. When we first started this band we had a different drummer and we had some issues with him so JUSTIN decided to move over to playing drums. He's only been playing drums for about four years now so he has really stepped it up and taken a ton of time to sit and learn how to play the drums. And then there's me. I'm the one who writes all of the lyrics for the songs. I even write DANTE's parts as well and then just screams what I write. So that's my contribution.
It sounds like everyone steps it up in this band?
Yes. Everyone stays in their lane which is nice and everyone brings something unique to the table. They each bring their own style which ultimately shapes the music in the end.
And since I'm speaking to the lyricist, what inspired this set of songs on the album?
For the songs on this album I kind of delved into a lot of things that I have dealt with in my own life and personal experiences. The song MISERY is about losing someone that I was really close to so I wrote the lyrics about them. WHORE NO MORE is a song about being sick of the job that you are currently in and being sick of working for the man. I was sick of my job and just sick of the daily grind so I wrote that song to get all of those feelings out. Songwriting just helps me to work out the stress that comes with life. I just take things that I've dealt with in my past or that I'm currently dealing with and then I like writing songs about them.
I can imagine that the coronavirus has put a damper on things for the band at the moment.
It has. We were supposed to play a show last night and I woke up with a sore throat so I went to the doctor. They didn't test me for it but they suggested that I don't perform. Even if I didn't have the coronavirus, if I sang at this show I would've run the risk of catching laryngitis. So we ended up canceling that show. We were also supposed to have a show this Friday and that got pushed back to June. So we haven't been on a stage in a while just because we had been doing the whole album thing and I was looking forward to getting onstage again but it looks like that is going to be on hold for a little bit.
With this album, what is the big idea? What would you like for a listener to come away with after they have heard it?
If just one song makes a person feel better about their day or they feel that someone else understands what they are going through, then that would be great. Sometimes that is all you need, to have someone understand what you are going through and that can lift your spirits and make you feel better. So if I can help someone at least get through five minutes of their day then it is all worth it for me.
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