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Interview

Assassins Talks New Album "War Of Aggression"

The Detroit metalcore newcomers in Assassins just released their debut full-length album "War Of Aggression" and marked the occasion by hitting the road with Carnifex for the "Die Without Hope" tour.

Front man Todd Jansen took some time out from the U.S. trek to check in with Metalunderground and discuss the band's origins, signing to eOne Music, and what the band will be up to now that the album is out and the tour is coming to an end.

xFiruath: You guys are out on the road with Carnifex right now. How has the tour been so far?

Todd: The tour has been awesome! Its an honor to tour with the Carnifex guys, as well as everyone else on the tour. I would say my favorite show this tour has been Seattle. The fans there just go absolutely insane, which always makes for a great show, and great people to meet and talk to after we play.

xFiruath: How long have you been with eOne / Good Fight and how did you get hooked up with the label?

Todd: We officially signed with eOne / Good Fight in July of 2013, and we couldn’t be happier. The way we got involved with them is our management team (Outerloop. Mike Mowery and Dirk Zeiser) have established a relationship with Carl (Severson, Good FIght) in the past, and I believe after some conversation amongst them, Carl became interested in signing our band, and well here we are now haha.

xFiruath: Tell me about your newly released album “War of Aggression.”

Todd: “War Of Aggression” is a hard hitting, catchy, raw, melodic, metalcore album. Sorry if that sounds cocky at all, because that's not my personality. I am very proud of the work that Eyal Levi (producer) and I put into the album, and am very excited with how it turned out. I think it has a little bit of everything for the average fan of metalcore music. It has its fast parts, its slow parts, the simple breakdowns, the progressive technical riffs, along with a symphonic twist on some parts as well as catchy choruses and some interesting vocals and lyrics. I want people to listen to this album and take something away from it. Whether its a lyric, or the way the felt listening to a certain riff or chorus, I think “War Of Aggression” has a little something for everyone.

xFiruath: Where did you record the tracks?

Todd: We recorded the album at Audio Hammer Studios in Sanford, Florida with Eyal Levi. The process was actually very cool. I started writing most of the pre-production from home on my laptop with a few basic software programs. Then once we got to the studio, Eyal and I would listen to it and decide how we could make the songs better. Maybe switching parts around here and there, or just changing little riffs or drum fills to really make a part stand out. Once we established that, we would work on drum production and from there begin tracking guitar and bass. Next came vocals and to top it off we added some symphonic parts to songs to really brighten a part up, or make it catchy and stand out. Again, I’m very happy with all of the work my team, and his team put into this album, and couldn’t be happier with the end result.

xFiruath: Who handled the artwork and what's going on with it?

Todd: The artwork was an idea that myself and the rest of the band kind of came up with. We have a tattooer friend from home (Rob Sebastian) and we roughly told him what we wanted and he came up with the original design of the “logo” if you will, that you will see on our flyers for shows or tours or something like that. From there we had it modified into a more simple design that was more along the lines of the traditional tattoo style, by an artist named Mike Ski. Myself and the rest of the band are all somewhat heavily tattooed and we are all a fan of the style. The idea of it being traditional styled, to us, represents the beginning and foundation of American tattooing, and since this is our first album it represents the beginning and foundation of our careers. The eyeball in the middle represents the eye from our EP artwork “The Awakening,” which began our message as a band of waking people up into what life is and what life could be. We decided to keep the eye because we continue to promote this message in “War Of Aggression.”

xFiruath: What sort of lyrical themes does the album deal with?

Todd: The themes on the album are thought provoking self motivational lyrics. I try to use my own experiences as a person, and the mistakes I make in everyday life to learn from them, and help others as well. I Also have some lyrical content on my opinions of our country, and as much as I am patriotic, and have love for my country, I don’t think some of the people who are in charge of it are doing their jobs to protect, us, the people. You might also hear some of my thoughts on religion as well.

xFiruath: With the album out now and the tour nearing its end, what's up on the horizon for Assassins?

Todd: We have a lot of exciting stuff coming up in the near future! Unfortunately I can’t tell you about it just yet. I will say keep your eye out for some cool stuff we will be doing, and you can look forward to a new music video, and a ton of more touring from us.

xFiruath: Can you give me a brief history of Assassins?

Todd: I started the band in 2009 with our old bass player. From there I met Steve through my best friend Andy who had toured with Steve’s old band in the past. And then from there members came and went, always meeting someone to fill the position through other local friends or bands. We have all known each other for years from all playing in different bands amongst the scene in the metro Detroit area. We then met our current drummer Vic, when we did a small tour with his old band back in 2012. Now we have our final line up which I believe is our strongest lineup yet, and can’t wait to see what cool things with music we can accomplish as a team.

xFiruath: What's going down in the Detroit metal scene lately?

Todd: The Detroit scene in general is very interesting to say the least haha. Most “local” shows if you will, never really have a set genre attached to them. You’ll have metal bands playing with southern rock bands, and indie bands playing with pop punk bands, and stuff like that. What I think is cool is that all of the musicians in the area are all very versatile, and everyone has a mutual respect for each other. I’ve seen people come from hardcore bands, and then go off and start a punk band or an indie band or something completely different. You can always expect something new from the Detroit scene. I would keep an eye out for bands like Misfortunate Sons, Sycamore, Hollow Earth, Wilson, and The Hounds Below.

xFiruath: What's happening in metal that you are looking forward to in 2014?

Well since we are on the Die Without Hope tour currently, I am excited for my new friends in Carnifex on their release. We are also on tour with I Declare War right now, and they have a new album coming out in April, so I am stoked to hear that album, since I’ve gotten to hear a couple of the new songs live on the tour. I’m really into the new Architects album “Lost Forever Lost Together” as well. Other than that I’m stoked to see what Assassins can accomplish this year in the world of metal! I cant wait to meet new fans on tour and get our music out there to the world!

xFiruath's avatar

Ty Arthur is a freelance writer who writes for both entertainment and technical instruction sites. An avid fan of many different forms of metal, he has been involved in reviewing music for several years and is currently a contributing editor for Metalunderground.com

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