Interview with Sin (bass) and Matthew (vocals)
Interview conducted by Sargon the Terrible
Date online: April 18, 2005
Icarus Witch are a new band from Pittsburgh, PA, who wanted to play heavy metal the real way – as if the 90's had never fucking happened. And they are so good so soon, they might make you believe it. With their debut EP "Roses On White Lace" (headed up by the Alice Cooper song of the same name) making major waves in the underground, this is a band on the way to great things. I was lucky enough to catch some words with them on the way up.
Sargon: How did you end up being selected to join such luminaries as Dio, Maiden, and Iced Earth for the Alice Cooper tribute?
Sin (Bass): Fortunately Brian Perera, the owner of our label Magick Records, is very supportive and dedicated to breaking us. He also owns Deadline Music and has worked with many of the masters over the years including Motorhead, Quiet Riot, Venom, Cinderella, Paul Di'Anno, George Lynch, Night Ranger, Saxon and so many more. The man knows everyone in Hollywood and has really taken us under his wing. We got a real positive response in the press for our inclusion on a similar tribute to Black Sabbath called evil lives which also had guests from Motley Crue, Dokken, Racer X, Primal Fear, Jag Panzer & others. We were fortunate to be invited to participate on this one as well, and thought we could use some star power of our own, so we invited Michael Romeo, one of the best modern guitar players in the world, to lay down a tasty solo. He just set that track on fire!
Sargon: Does the name Icarus Witch have a special meaning to you, or is it just cool?
Sin: It's just cool. Haha. Seriously, to me, it is a powerful phrase that creates a feeling of how we sound and what we're about. It's our "Abbara Cadabbara." The mythology of Icarus is something that's held my fascination since hearing Maiden's "Flight Of Icarus" and Yngwie's "Icarus' Dream Suite." In that sense, it's both a word that might invoke images of metal's classic era in some people's mind or a very intense, classic Greek myth to others. The word "Witch" holds its own power. I've been a practicing pagan for most of my life and am not the type to shy away from being called a Witch myself. I owe my successes in life to the craft and pay respect to in whenever possible.
Sargon: How did the band come together? You knew I was going to ask.
Matthew (Bizilia, Vocals): I was working with a guitarist that happened to know Sin, and after we got together a few times he asked me if I was interested in the project. I was into the whole fantasy theme, dark, mystical image already so I was thrilled to be a part of it.
Sin: Yeah, when I went to his studio for the first time and looked through his CD collection and saw Awaken The Guardian, The Last In Line, Don't Break The Oath, Marching Out & Long Live Rock And Roll…I knew we were in business. That was the exact headspace I was coming from, trying to tap into that current of exciting early metal without coming off as a novelty act or parody. To me it seems there has been a void in that style for too long and the main goal was to write & create music that we as fans of that style would actually go out and buy.
After a few trials & misfires we finally found the right guitarist for the long haul. I saw Steve on the shred site, Guitar 9, which gave a great review of his playing, saying that the only thing he needed was to be a part of a metal band with a solid vocalist & production. Hmm? Steve emailed me. We jammed a few times and got along really well, which is as important as playing well together. Our mutual Malmsteen worship was the first bond!
Sargon: The production on the EP is really excellent, how long did you take to record and how hard was it to get it right?
Sin: What was it, about 3 weeks off & on? All the credit for that goes to our producer Eric Klinger. He's just got a great ear, a voracious appetite for studio technology and a lot of patience. I think at first he was a bit hesitant to crack the whip, but we made it clear that we wanted his criticism. Before too long, it became apparent that we were on to something very special and it went from a simple demo session to becoming a full fledged mini CD production. Technically it wasn't that hard but there were some emotional casualties along the way. We went in as a friendly 5 piece and came out as a trio! Haha. But everything happens for a reason and we've since rebuilt the engine and are staying true to the initial vision.
Sargon: Please tell me you have a full album coming soon, the EP is so cool I can hardly stand it.
Matthew: We are happy to say that we are going into the studio in late May to do a full-length record which will probably be released around Halloween. I'm very exited. I'm sure that if you liked the EP, you will love the full-length.
Sargon: I know there are some good bands from your neck of the woods, is there a good scene in Pennsylvania these days?
Sin: Good bands, yes. Good scene? No, not yet. Just within our own city we have bands like Order Of Nine, Dofka, Penance, Aftershok, Sinning Is Our Savior…some serious, players, with record deals and history. But what I don't see enough of is cross-promotion or even communication between the artists to build a cohesive scene. We plan to reach out to other talented performers in our region and create a united front. A little competition is healthy, but there isn't really a need for that here. It's not like there are so many metal bands fighting for the same ring. When bands work together and promote shows or records together it brings more attention to everyone and is the only way to build a scene that will rival our neighbors in Cleveland or Philly. Those towns get far more shows than Pittsburgh. We do have a great store here called Brave New World that specializes in metal and has a stage for bands set up all the time. Also, The Exchange has been promoting metal a lot & Eide's still has a huge metal selection. These places & a few others are doing their part. You're seeing a lot more "Heavy Metal" sections in the stores. Last week I heard Dee Snider's "House Of Hair" show added to our local radio programming & there are a few indie stations like WPTS that play us, so if anything, I'd say the scene is on the rise but it will take a lot of work and cooperation. It can't go anywhere but up from here. I'm optimistic.
Sargon: Why do you think so much of the US metal scene sucks? We have some outstanding bands (Twisted Tower Dire, Cage, Seasons Of The Wolf, and now Icarus Witch) but we have so much crap pretending to be metal. What do you think causes that?
Sin: Twisted Tower Dire! Great band on our label! I saw those guys play Wacken in Germany & they owned the stage. Part of the reason much of the US metal scene is weaker, in my opinion, is that the mainstream American "metal" fans of the past 10 years seem to be more worried about acting tough, starting pits, starting fights, talking trash in their lyrics…a real macho trip. European metal bands tend to have more pride in their heritage and sing about classic, literary & fantasy topics. It seems like a lot of the U.S. scene just got super trendy in the '90s. People became embarrassed to be metal heads because it wasn't hip. So rather than stand up for it, a lot of people just went along with the crowds and music became more violent, dismal and testosterone drenched. Our music is not happy or peppy like Euro power metal. It's darker & more sinister but overall, we would be more in line with some of the glam & sleaze bands of the early '80s like Shout-era Crue or W.A.S.P. than we would with the tough guy rock of today. Rather than complain about the state of metal, we just decided to be more positive & proactive by creating a solution. Creating something to counteract the Nu Metal noise pollution that saturates the airwaves of commercial hard rock. There is hope for the U.S., it's getting better here. Today's kids are smarter than some give them credit for. I think there is a wave of young American, true metal heads that are surging toward the shore and that you will see our scene increase in power over the next few years. A large percentage of our fans are 15-18 and just know they like good metal regardless of what their baggy pants classmates say.
Sargon: Every underground band has live horror stories: crappy venues, insane bands, drunken fans – tell us a good one.
Sin: All bands are insane. You have to be to try and make a life out of this. Our best stories have yet to come.
Sargon: "Roses On White Lace" is getting a lot of good press and quite a bit of attention, are you surprised by the good reception, or did you know you had a winner?
Sin: We're very pleased. I think we created an EP that we are very happy with overall but I honestly didn't know what to expect from the press. Everyone thinks their own band is great but you never know the reality until you put your art out their for the world to judge. The reviews have been encouraging but even more intense are the email letters of support that we get from fans who have actually bought the CD. Our main goal was simply to create the kind of classic metal record that we miss hearing. Something that could hold its own in a collection with our Maiden, Dio, Malmsteen, Rainbow, Mercyful Fate, Fates Warning & Savatage records.
Sargon: Do you prefer the web or print press for getting the word out about Icarus Witch?
Sin: I've always been a fan of printed magazines since I was a kid reading Hit Parader & Circus. A few years ago I got to write for some metal magazines and that was a big honor as well. I still go out and buy magazines every week. But it wasn't until the Icarus Witch campaign got into full swing that I realized the true power & immediacy of web 'zines. We've sold over 600 Cds from our web site in the month before it hit stores, and the majority of this buzz was from great, dedicated metal 'zines all over the world. Next the print reviews will come to reinforce this, so I think there will always be a place for both.
Sargon: What is up next for the band?
Sin: As Matthew mentioned, recording the full length in May, then all of this energy goes to preparing our live show. We hope to be touring by the fall,
Sargon: Anything else you'd like to say?
Sin: Thanks to Metal Crypt and its readers for keeping the scene alive. Visit icaruswitch.com and leave us some feedback. See you on the road…So Mote It Be!
Matthew: Yeah, I'd like to say thanks to every one who bought the EP, and all the people that hit our website, And a very special thanks to all the girls that have been sending pictures. Thank you very much!
|Other information about Icarus Witch on this site|
|Review: Songs For The Lost|
|Review: Roses On White Lace|
|Review: Capture the Magic|
|Review: Songs For The Lost|
|Review: Draw Down The Moon|
|Review: Goodbye Cruel World|
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