e have to admire the creative gumption of ELANTRIS. The Lisbon, Ohio-based band, formerly known as BLACKTHORNE, boast a sound that is described as 'symphonic' metal powered by the high octane vocal perofrmances of front man THOMAS ULLOM and front woman LINDSAY VICTORIA KETCHUM. Giving the band it's symphonic flourish is keyboardist MARK LIBER, who put down the guitar when the band band changed it's name and got lost in the endless sounds and textures that were available to him through the keys. Yes, these guys got a whole lot more ambitious with their heavy metal, but according to MARK LIBER finding the audience proved challenging until the band did what ever band does to survive in these lean musical times - hit the road. At the time of this interview, ELANTRIS was on the road, performing their ambitious musical set before audiences who like their metal to be more theatrical and sonically nuanced. This live set is largely informed by the reformed/retooled band's debut album THIS SACRIFICE. The self-produced catalog of epic heavy metal mastery isn't for casual listening. This opus is a musical journey worthy of HOMER featuring such standout performances as CAPTIVATE and SEAS OF TORMENT.http://www.elantris-music.com
ROCKWIRED had a chance to speak with keyboardist MARK LIBER of ELANTRIS regarding the band's latest album THIS SACRIFICE, the impact of the the live set that they are currently touring and plans for a future release. Here is how the interview went.
ELANTRIS' album THIS SACRIFICE has been out there for more than a year now. After all of this time, how do you feel about the album as a whole?
We're happy with it. It's been getting a great repsonse and since we've been on the road, more people have been hearing it. It's getting a good response from everybody. We've really progressed as a band as we wrote the album and that's still going to continue. Our next work is going to be even better. I hope it is. I'm happy with what we've come up with on the first try.
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And who helped you guys behind the recording console for this album?
It was all of us in the band that put this album together. We worked with STUDIO 8 in Akron, Ohio which is about an hour away from where most of us live. We did everything there. It took us about three days to record everything.
And talk about the music scene that you guys are surrounded by in Lison, Ohio. Is it supportive to the kind of music that you do?
It's really not. We are a heavy metal band with a keyboard element to it and in our local scene, you don't see a keyboard ever. You definitely don't hear anything with symphonic elements in our local scene. If we play a show in Lisbon and we get 25 people to show up, then we are having a great night. The music that is really prevalant in our area is country, rap and pop. Because of that, it was important for us to hit the road and get in front of people who want to hear our kind of music. We started hitting the demographic we wanted as opposed to playing for people who don't get us. It's been an uphill battle.
And bring me back to the begining of ELANTRIS. How did all of this get started?
It was three years ago, when we started playng this style of music. We got together and decided that this was the direction that we wanted to go in. It was the four of us, myself , the drummer, the bassist and the vocalist. We had been in a band since 2003 playing more tradiitonal metal. I was playing guitar back then. Three years ago, I picked up the keyboards for this project. We were a band that was doing local shows but when we evolved past doing stright ahead metal and doing the sound that we're doing now, it was something we felt a lot more comfortable about. We became more excited about making music. This new approach was more in line with our musical influences. We just never thought that we'd be going in this direction. It was like "What the heck! Let's just do this?" and from there, we added lead guitarist GARRETT CHETOCK. LINDSAY VICTORIA KETCHUM is our female vocalist. She's never been in a band before . She did a lot of theater and stuff like that, but she came in and blew us all away. We haven't looked back since.
And have there been any responses to the band and it's music that have surprised you or that you didn't see coming?
We've received an overwhelming amount of compliments after every show. There is always a line of people at our merch table who want to shake our hands and want us to sign autographs. We're from a small town in Ohio and we're being asked to sign autographs and take pictures? People want us to buy our music? It's an incredible feeling, everytime it happens.
Explain the songwriting process within this band. How do you guys go about it?
It starts out instrumentally. We jam it out and see what feels right. I'll work on the the framework of the song on keyboard. Once we have the framework, it informs the lyrics. In the past, we would do the music and then come up with the lyrics later. These days, we are coming up with the music and the lyrics at the same time and that has made it bettter for us. I come up with the framework and present it to the band and as a band we hammer out the details. This band definitely has a "jammy" feel to it. You don't know what to expect next and that is what I like. I don't want people ot expect the next turn and go "Oh, that was different!"
And talk about the other members of the band. Tell me who they are and what it is that you feel each ofthem brings to the table that makes this thing work.
THOMAS ULLOM is our male vocalist. He is passionate about everything he does and it shows in his vocals. Especially when he is on stage. LINDSAY puts a lot of emotion into the music and you can hear it the most on the song CAPTIVATE. It's very personal to her and it translates very well. The bass player JOHN DOBOSH comes in and adds little nuances that you might not hear on the first couple of listens but when you catch it, it's like "Oh man! That's cool!" He adds these little nuggets to the music and it's wonderful. GARRETT is the lead guitar player. He grew up playing blues and not so much metal. You can hear that blues element in our music. It's a unique element. ERIK LIBER is the drummer and he adds a different vibe tot he band with his progressive background. You can hear a heavy influence like MIKE PORTNOY of DREAM THEATER in his playing. As for myself, I'm not as technical as most people. Becuase of that, I'm able to go outside of the bounds and not go by the book as much. I'm not interested in repeating the same script over and over again. I just do what feels right at the time. If it sounds good, it is good.
What was it that got you into music making specifically?
Personally, I got into music by listening to DREAM THEATER. I loved their take on music They knew how to make music an emotional journey instead of just being a series of songs. Listening to their music felt like I was on an adventure and I loved that. I love to create something like that. That was what got me started writing music.
What songs from THIS SACRIFICE have you the most excited to get people to hear and why?
I would have to say that CAPTIVATE is my number one choice. People have reacted the strongest to that one and that goes back to the passion that LINDSAY and THOMAS have whenever they perform it. It plays very well. It draws people in and you can really feel it. SEAS OF TORMENT is another one. We call is out pirate song. It's got a very pirate-y vibe to it and it's a lot of fun. We get a lot of enjoyment out of that song. It takes you on a little bit of a journey. It's upbeat at the begining and then gets very heavy at the end. There is an element of everything that we do in that one song. Everyone loves it live.
Are there any plans for a music video for any of the songs? The music sounds as if it would lend itself well to some sort of visual interpretation.
We've filmed a music video for CAPTIVATE and at the moment, we're working on the editing for it. We will be releasing it soon. We thought were going ot have it out by August but that ended up not working out. We wanted to work on the editing some more and not release something that we weren't happy with. We've gone back to the drawing board with the msuic video and hopefull we will have it out in a couple of weeks.
When the tour wraps up, what is next for ELANTRIS musically?
On this tour that we're on now, we are playing two new songs onthe set that aren't on this current album. One of them is in the bag and ready to go for the next album. I've got a couple of more that we're working on so it won't be long before we release something else.
BRiAN LUSH (FOUNDER, EDiTOR-iN-CHiEF)
CONTACT BRiAN LUSH AT: firstname.lastname@example.org