"some music was meant to stay underground..."


Interview With J. William Heitmann of Ninetail

There's only a handful of unsigned metal acts going in America today that I think truly have earned a chance at being signed to a respectable label that can really bring them to the masses as they so justly deserve and have outright earned with their diehard tenacity and composure in the clinch and without flinching to make the first choice, NINETAIL out of York, Pennsylvania is one of them. They have been putting their money where there mouths are at every single venue they've stepped into here in 2006 in support of their debut LP "The Process Of Conversion" and even when they haven't played up to their full potential on a night, the first guy in the room that will admit it is this gentleman right here, J. William Heitmann. This interview is an honor for me and every single one of you that are looking to start up a band or are in the midst of the process, need to take notes from who I plainly see as metalunderground's classiest act going and a true talent who is only starting to find his big stride as a great metal vocalist.

Rocket: Let me start this thing off with a congratulatory handshake of metal brotherhood, dude. Ninetail has simply owned the underground scene this year, along with other great names like My Ruin, Lofat and Deliver Us From Evil. Looking back on all that's gone down here in 2006, what ranks at the top as the biggest moment for you and the band?

J: First off, thanks for the props. We’ve been working our asses off, so that compliment is much appreciated.
To be honest bro, our biggest moment in ’06 is gonna be when we take the stage on Dec. 16th and ’06 is over for Ninetail. It was a huge year for us. There was a lot of adversity, a lot of headaches, and a lot at stake. We made it through 2 member changes without canceling or postponing a show, and you’ve seen our schedule….its been busy. That says a lot about the guys we brought in too. For me, staying together, and still being the force that we’ve been this year is our crowning achievement. That tells me a lot about the guys I’m surrounded by. And people wonder why we destroy every venue we walk into. We are venting our frustration on you people!

Rocket: Haha. Where are you from originally, brother?

J: I’m originally from Syracuse, NY. Home to the late Hellfest, and my beloved Orangemen.

Rocket: Right on. So when did you first start singing and did you take any vocal lessons?

J: I’ve been singing since I could open my mouth, dude. There wasn’t any problem that couldn’t be solved by singing a sick ass song. There are different songs for different problems, you know? I’ve been in a band of some sort since I was 14. That’s pretty much the extent of my vocal lessons. I’d like to take REAL lessons. I’m sure it’ll happen eventually.

Rocket: Who are some of your biggest vocal influences? Past or present.

J: I think Pantera is the sickest band to ever grace a stage, so you know Mr. Anselmo is on that list. He’s a brilliant metal singer. Layne Staley, Max Cavalera, Tim Williams, and Corey Taylor round out my top five influences. I could keep goin’ with that list.

Rocket: I hear a lot of Burton C Bell of Fear Factory in your approach too. Big ups to Mr. Bell! Now I just interviewed your drummer, Max Melton. He says you guys are in full swing of writing material for the next album. He says it's going to bury your debut album 'The Process Of Conversion'. Can you tell us from a vocal standpoint what you plan to do to elevate your game?

J: I think just maturing in the writing process with my guys is going to elevate us all. We banged out the first album in six months with two shows under our belts. We’re going into the next album in full swing. We’re like conditioned athletes, man. Our playing is there. Nobody has to get their “chops” back, you know? There’s definitely a confidence factor too. Coming from two shows and six months of practice, my game wasn’t where it is now going into the first album. I don’t want to put too much pressure on ourselves though. We wrote a great first record. Let’s everyone pick that one up first!

Rocket: The lyrics on "Process" are so cool, man. I really enjoy a great sounding metal album that also has depth in the words its spitting out at the same time, you know? Is there a general way you go about becoming inspired to write lyrics?

J: Thanks, bro, that means a lot. The lyrics on “Process” are very important and real to me. Honestly, you wanna know how I become inspired? All you have to do is take a look around you, man. This is a truly fucked up world. It’s not hard to draw anger out of thin air in this day and age. Turn on CNN. That’ll piss you off. We’re gonna have to take our country back someday,man. Wanna be on my side?

Rocket: Looking at what you guys accomplished this year, with all the great 'established' metal bands you shared the stage with, what exactly are you looking to do in 2007 that hasn't been done so far with Ninetail? Is it pretty much getting the record deal finally? Or do you target other great acts to play with as your goal and just filling as many clubs up?

J: For Ninetail at this point, I don’t think it’s WHO we play with necessarily, but WHERE we play. Believe me, I’m not saying I don’t want to share the stage with a sick national band in a full club, but we have to stretch our boundaries and be heard by more ears.

Rocket: Very cool thing to hear you say, man.

J: I think a record deal could happen in the future, but really, it’s up to us to go and get it. I think we still have a lot of work to do. They don’t just hand those things out anymore. You gotta pay your dues. We’re gettin’ there man.

Rocket: Yeah, I totally agree. So many bands that even have established players in their lineup think they are owed that and the fact of the goddamn matter is they are not. There's a sea of competition out there now more than ever in metal with its popularity back on the rise. You have to work your ass off. Period. Let the chip's fall were they may. Now as far as unsigned acts, who are some of the other bands on your scene that have impressed you this year?

J: Thanks for asking that question because we really have a good scene goin on here in PA with a ton of hidden talent. Our boys in From Dissension have really turned it up a notch in the last year. Our boys from Scranton, Spitcan, are always nasty as fuck. Scars of Hatred, Primal Embrace, Stuck in Kaos, Shined, Black Baccara, The Divining, Horsecop, Tapered Mind, Se7en Heads, and Anthrophobia everytime, just to name a few.

Rocket: I like to have fun with the next one of course. Tell me what the funniest moment has been for you while performing on the stage. I want to hear about one of them Spinal Tap moments. They happen all the time, don't they?

J: It was a balls hot night in Philly, and we were playing at a joint called Whiskey Dix. It’s the type of place where you can walk by and see exactly what’s going on inside, and vice versa. Next door at the infamous Electric Factory, The Strokes were playing a sold out show for a shit load of confused kids. It just so happened that the Strokes show let out during our set. I’ll put it to you this way….all of the make-up clad boys got a tongue lashing from my drunk ass. I showered them with profanities and politically incorrect comments. It was pretty intense. And VERY funny. One of my finer moments.

Rocket: Haha. Hell yeah, man. I wouldn't expect it any other way from you, dude. Metal UP! It's been a great a year for metal in 2006. What one album released among them all stands out as your numero uno choice?

J: Wow, that’s a tough one because you’re right….it has been an unbelievable year for metal. But you asked for numero uno. Unearth III:”In the Eyes of Fire” kicked my ass. “Sacrament” from L.O.G. is a close second though.

Rocket: How does a fan go about becoming a Ninetail street teamer exactly? And do you guys send out cool band merchandise to the ones who kick the most ass?

J: We’re currently setting up details about that, so keep an eye on ninetail.org for “The Converted” (that’s the name of our street team) if anyone out there is interested. Basically it’ll be your run of the mill street team “You hook us up, we’ll hook you up” deal….You flyer the shit out of your town and bring twenty kids to a show, you get in for free. Stuff like that. I’m sure we’ll work free Ninetail shwag into those deals too. There’s only one prerequisite: You must be able to kick ASS!

Rocket: Does Ninetail have any scheduled shows between now and 2007?

J: The only one left in ’06 is the one I mentioned before on December 16th at the Tourist Inn in Hellam, PA. Believe it or not, that is where we played our very first show back in ’05. We haven’t been back since so I’m hoping there’ll be a hungry crowd waiting there for us. I want to end ’06 in total destruction. We’ve already got six shows on our ’07 schedule, so we’re not going anywhere.

Rocket: Well, I'm out of questions, though I could shoot the metal breeze with a cool cat like you all day long for sure. Thanks so much for taking this time out with me. I wish you and Ninetail nothing but the best in 2007. Please give a shout out to your biggest supporters.

J: Man, the pleasure was all on this side of the interview. My personal shout outs are going first, to my ladies, Kristi, Cecilia and Laila for keeping me grounded and honest. I love you guys! Level Nine Entertainment for countless hours of hard work and dedication, especially Greg and Haley Bowman. My band members for exceeding every expectation I had for them. My friends and family for buying tickets and being there when it really matters. The Metal Twins for promoting the fuck out of this band for nothing else but the love of Heavy Metal. Those girls rule. YOU, and everyone at the Metalunderground. Frank Phobia and Josh Rosenblatt for being mentors in this fucked world of the music biz. ALL of the sick bands we’ve played with. Yuengling Lager, Jagermeister, Mary Jane, and Old Grandad. And last but not least, THE FANS. We’re nothing without all of your support. You’re our lifeblood.

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3 Comments on "Interview With J. William Heitmann of Ninetail"

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1. patrick writes:

Ninetail = Heavy f***ing metal.

# Dec 21, 2006 @ 7:54 PM ET | IP Logged Reveal posts originating from the same IP address
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2. Man of the Year writes:

Ninetail f***ing rules.

# Dec 22, 2006 @ 12:05 AM ET | IP Logged Reveal posts originating from the same IP address
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3. The Metal Twins writes:

What a kick a$$ interview!! Ninetail never fails to make the hair rise on my arms, can't wait to rock the f*** out with them on friday!!! GET THESE GUYS A RECORD DEAL!!!!!
S & M

# Jan 1, 2007 @ 7:58 PM ET | IP Logged Reveal posts originating from the same IP address

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