Interview with Geoff Waye (guitars) Amanda Gosse (vocals), and Keith Jackman (bass)
Interview conducted by Christopher Foley
Date online: July 17, 2017
Category VI are a relatively fresh heavy/power metal outfit hailing from Canada. They've just unveiled their sophomore opus War Is Hell through Killer Metal Records, and today we're chatting with members Geoff Waye (guitars) Amanda Gosse (vocals), and Keith Jackman (bass), who've kindly taken the time to speak with The Metal Crypt.
Chris: I guess firstly would be to congratulate you all on releasing a cracking album, and we'll take it straight from there. Could you tell us about the recording of War Is Hell and how it all came together?
Geoff: Thanks dude! The recording of the album began in about January 2016 with the drums. Then between approximately February and June 2016 we recorded the rest, and the album was mixed in late summer/fall 2016. It took longer than we planned for many reasons, most outside of our control, but we were not going to settle for a rushed end product. In late 2016, it was time for mastering and we ended up sampling about three different places before choosing what both we and our recording engineer thought was best. The album and artwork were then delivered to Killer Metal Records in January 2017 and here we are and the album is released on June 30, 2017. It's been a long road but we're all happy and proud of the album.
Chris: Were there any particular challenges you had to overcome in the process?
Geoff: For me the main challenge, beyond the normal things like paying for everything ourselves, was more internal. As in, having patience. I would've preferred if this album was out a year ago, so having patience with the process was a challenge I personally had to deal with. ha!
Amanda: Well right now, we are in the process of getting a new drummer up to speed! :) But after that, definitely have plans to doing more shows, a proper CD release party, new music videos and hopefully plan a mini tour! We are optimistic and look forward to whatever comes our way, we would certainly love to do a festival or play somewhere different and get our music out there more to new people and build new friendships with bands and fans from different parts of the world!
Keith: Seven of the eight songs on the album were played live extensively with "Out of time" being finished just before we started recording. It's not always the case that the way something is played live translates well to a recording when your aim is precision. In some cases, my parts in songs changed quite a bit which was fun to nail.
Chris: The overall mix, and tones sound great, is this something you paid particular attention to, or maybe an extension of the band's live sound?
Geoff: We consider ourselves to primarily be classic heavy metal, with nods to power and thrash metal, and we were aiming for a classic heavy metal album sound. We didn't want to go for the modern sound with everything too loud, clicky sounding drums, etc. The guy we recorded with, Rick Hollett, understood what we were hoping to attain and I think we came pretty darn close. It's not far removed from our live sound, only it's clearer and better, of course, as it comes from a more controlled environment.
Chris: If the information available to me is correct, this is your first outing on Killer Metal Records, how did you come to be in touch with the label?
Geoff: When we were writing material for our second album, we sent our Fireborn songs and links to videos to a number of smaller indie metal labels to see if there was any interest in what we were doing. A few were interested, but it was Killer Metal Records that came back with a solid offer so we had some discussions and accepted their offer. Jens from KMR has been easy to deal with and supportive.
Chris: I've actually enjoyed a few Killer Metal Records releases in the past, are there any of your label mates which you enjoy?
Geoff: I've heard material from a few of our label mates over the past number of years. Ones that come to my mind that I've enjoyed include: Dragon's Kiss, Dragonsclaw, Maxxxwell Carlisle and fellow Canadians, The Order of Chaos. I'm always listening to heavy metal so I'm sure I'd enjoy many of the other bands on the label as well. It's more a matter of their being just not enough time to hear everything.
Chris: Okay, so war and its reactions recur as a theme throughout the new record, would you class this as a concept piece? Or is it more a unified collection, what was some of the inspiration behind this album, are these mere topics of interest or personally derived?
Amanda: My dream would be to do an entire concept album like Iron Maiden did in the past. Bring on the 11-minute "Rime of the Ancient Mariner" epics! In all seriousness, I find that all our albums are quite "concept album" based in that we tend to carry similar themes from our first album to this one. One of the heavy hitter themes here is obviously the theme of War, whether that be inner war (such as mental illness and PTSD; a topic dear to my heart) or war from our Newfoundland and Canadian history, our title track War is Hell is about Beaumont Hamel. To answer your question, I don't consider this a full-on concept album, but rather an album that carries very specific and important topics on our sleeves.
Chris: My favorite tracks at present is the tight combo of "Mirror" and "Full Metal Jacket", do you hold any particular favorites, maybe some transfer exceptionally well into the live environment?
Amanda: Those are awesome choices Chris! You know, the more I listen to the record, the more certain songs start to resonate with me each time. My biggest favorite is definitely the opening track "Strike of the Axe" I feel this song personifies our influences of new wave British heavy metal. Classic eighties metal and even thrash. I am equally proud of my "vokills" on this one, the longer and higher the notes, the better. ;) I am super proud of all the songs of course, but my faves are "Strike of the Axe", "War Is Hell" and "Full Metal Jacket", as I feel these tracks capture how we've grown in our music over the last few years, you can see the strength in the musicianship and an evolution which I believe we are super proud of!
Keith: It's "Strike of the Axe" for me. If I had to pick only one song to play live or have someone listen to in order to explain what Category VI is right now, it's that one.
Geoff: Similarly, I would pick "Strike of the Axe" because I really enjoy the chugging/thrashy riffing.
Chris: And on the subject of live, how are things looking on that front at present?
Geoff: Well, we are located on an island, it's a large island, but with a small population there isn't a tour circuit for metal bands here. We can only play live in about three bars in the downtown of our city, St. John's. We'd like to play in other areas of our province, and we've asked and researched and have yet to learn of a single venue outside of St. John's that books any original metal acts (if anyone reading knows of one - let us know!). We'd like to play elsewhere in the province and hope we can. We're also hoping to play elsewhere in Canada, perhaps a small regional tour would be doable and is something we are discussing.
Chris: Moving from the present, let's hear some plans for the future.
Amanda: (as mentioned earlier) Well right now, we are in the process of getting a new drummer up to speed! :) But after that, definitely have plans to doing more shows, a proper CD release party, new music videos and hopefully plan a mini tour! We are optimistic and look forward to whatever comes our way, we would certainly love to do a festival or play somewhere different and get our music out there more to new people and build new friendships with bands and fans from different parts of the world!
Chris: Okay, while we're looking along the timeline, how do you feel about Fireborn now that it's nearly four-year-old. Did you feel it performed to expectation?
Amanda: Absolutely! You know, for a little band on a small island in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean (lol) I am blown away at how well Fireborn did critically around the world. There is really something special about translating awesome reviews from Mexico, Brazil and Germany and then reading at how much they loved it! It truly never gets old to me to hear people's amazing feedback; and just knowing that we are reaching more people every day all over the globe is quite exciting. I am super proud of the songwriting and music on Fireborn, we worked so hard to come into the broader metal scene with something hard hitting and I think we did just that. I also think it was an excellent starting point to catapult us into writing War is Hell and I am happy with our progression and hard work!
Keith: I was a fan of the band before I joined. The songs from Fireborn blew me away. There was diversity in style across the record, in my opinion, and an additional guitar player making the vibe of the band quite different from now. When I came on board there was one guitar and me to fill all the musical space, which is great fun for a bass player. The album itself has held up very well and some of the favourites of the people that come to see us are from it. Over time we've kept three of the eight in our set list simply because it's those three that most closely resemble the strengths we have today.
Chris: Tell me more about the history of Category VI
Amanda: It's an interesting story lol to summarize; I was in another metal band which will remain nameless :) back in 2008/2009. Coincidentally, my band at the time actually played with the original version of Category VI one night in our hometown. I was a fan already, but as I watched them play I got a small pang of "I could get up there and sing the shit out of these songs" ha-ha Their original singer was lovely, but her singing is much softer than my loud ol' voice box. When you have influences like Dio, Dickinson and Halford, it's hard to be a quiet singer as that is my niche ha-ha. So after our show, Category VI found out that the singer had to leave! A few days after, I left my band because I didn't feel respected and was never invited to be a part of the writing process. So the stars aligned! I slyly messaged Geoff and was like, "um hey dude, saw you don't have a singer", Geoff says "yeah can you keep an eye out" I slyly say "well actually, I kind of left my band" ha-ha so that was basically it, and I never get tired of telling people that story, as it is kind of magical :) We have been together kicking ass ever since!
Chris: It's great when these things come together, and I think that's most of the serious business taken care of, so, let's blow off some steam. Any band(s) you would love to share the stage with?
Geoff: Of course, if we were given the chance to open for any of our heroes we'd be quite happy. I don't daydream about it though, I focus more so on our own music and when we play it doesn't matter who it's with, I'm just happy to be given the opportunity to present our music to someone.
Amanda: Most of my heroes are dead, sadly! I would have loved nothing more to grace the stage with Dio or Freddie Mercury, as they are my biggest influences. I would LOVE to share a stage with Iron Maiden or Judas priest, these are the bands that set my soul on fire, one can dream/
Chris: What albums have you been enjoying lately? Any cool newer bands you would care to rave about? It's a great time for heavy metal.
Geoff: Lately I've been listening to Vintersorg, Borknagar, Kreator, Testament, Overkill, Iced Earth, and as always, Gamma Ray. I still get excited for the classic heavy metal albums. But I also buy brand new releases from the classic metal bands that formed in the 70s, 80s and 90s. How one defines what is a "newer band" depends on your perspective. For me, I've been into metal since I was a kid in the 80s. So newer to me can be anything outside of that classic era....or I could be strict about it and pick bands who didn't release their debut album until say sometime after 2000 which makes it tougher. Some newer bands that I enjoy include: Orden Ogan, Sabaton, Powerwolf, Wolf, Tyr, Ambush, Striker, Skullfist, and many more I'm forgetting for sure.
Amanda: I am a HUGE fan of Huntress and Jill Janus. That woman is such an inspiration to me, especially in this second album. She shares a similar vocal style, but she really inspired me to not hold back my brute force in my vocals this time around. Like me she suffers from mental illness and uses writing as fuel for fantastic song writing. I am generally a huge classic metal fan, but am always open-minded in trying new things. All the same, I am equally as happy blasting WASP, Dio, Maiden, Helloween and Black Sabbath and stay in my happy bubble now and then ha-ha
Keith: I'd probably be considered an outlier in that most of what I actively listen to was released before Napster existed. There are many great new bands that I enjoy but for active listening, I tend to go to the source. Classic Black Sabbath, Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, Metallica and Megadeth. I don't think my playing has been influenced by much after 1988.
Chris: Okay, desert island. You can pick three books, movies, foods, and video games, and since it's a music site, five albums. Shoot.
Amanda: Movies: Shoot dude this is hard!!! Probably American Psycho, Full Metal Jacket and ANY True Crime doc on Serial killers ;) I know, I am full of sunshine.
Books: Anything by Stephen King, the Stand or "IT" perhaps.
Foods: Chinese food is a must, Anything spicy like stir-fry is grand and ICED COFFEE as I am 99% made up of it har har
Music: 1. Iron Maiden - Powerslave 2. Black Sabbath - The Mob Rules 3. Black Sabbath - Heaven and Hell 4. Judas Priest - Stained Class 5. WASP - The Last Command
Geoff: Books: The Hobbit, a book on what's safe to eat on this desert island, and for the 3rd book, something about how I can easily grow food on the island. haha!
Movies: Lord of the rings (trilogy), Star Trek II, hmmm....
Foods: An endless supply of fresh strawberries, veggie burgers, and pizza haha.
Video games: not required...I'd rather have my guitar than access to video games.
Five albums: Judas Priest - Stained Class, Slayer - Reign in Blood, Motley Crue - Shout at the Devil, Metallica - Master of Puppets, Borknagar - Winter Thrice.
Keith: For books: I'm into Biography Scott Ian, Dave Mustaine and Slash. All very entertaining and thought-provoking.
Movies Hellraiser: Nightmare on Elm Street and Alien. Guess which genre I like?
Food: This is tougher as I'll literally try anything once and twice if I don't like it. Steak, Sushi and Poutine if I have to pick.
Video games: At present Doom, Uncharted and Far Cry 4.
Albums Black Sabbath - Sabbath Bloody Sabbath, Judas Priest - Screaming for Vengeance, Iron Maiden - Powerslave, Metallica - Master of Puppets and Megadeth - Rust in Peace.
Chris: Any funny or peculiar tales from playing live? Or jamming in the studio?
Amanda: We don't have that much time, do we? Ha-ha I had blood spit on me while playing live once, I always find I am a target for weird crap. Thankfully it was Halloween and the blood was fake...I hope :)
Keith: I've been playing live for 25+ years. Some of the stuff that might seem odd to people has become quite normal for me. Any group dynamic heavily lubricated with alcohol and/or substance of choice is going to be fertile ground for otherwise nutty behavior. I've been fallen upon, vomited on (unintentionally, the band was good that night), had all manner of things thrown, enjoyed the strangest of interpretive dances and seen ultra-violence and ultra-kindness sometimes all in the same night all from stage right.
Chris: Rounding things out, is there anything you'd like to say to the readers at The Metal Crypt?
Amanda: We would just like to thank everyone for reading and hopefully you guys will check out our new album, War Is Hell, available online at iTunes and most online music stores as well as through the band! Come follow Category VI on Facebook for more updates on what we are doing next! You can also visit and contact the band for booking opportunities through our band page or visiting our website at www.categoryvi.com Thanks so much for the support everyone and hope you enjoy the new album, special thanks to Chris for having us be a part of the interview! Stay METAL \m/
Chris: I'd like to thank you for your time today, and wish you all the best with War Is Hell. Keep flying the flag for true metal!
Geoff: Thanks to you Chris for taking the time to talk to us and for the great reviews you've given to our two releases. Also thanks to Michel and to The Metal Crypt for their unending devotion to the glory of heavy metal. :)
|Other information about Category VI on this site|
|Review: War is Hell|
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