Living For The Metal: John Sheldon Of Ekotren
Cape Coral, Florida has spawned the radio friendly hardcore/metal outfit called Ekotren. Formed in 2000, the lineup consists of Guitarist Keith Finnell, Bassist Sean Fiene, DJ/Keyboardist Steve Chin, Eric Pottle on drums and standout Vocalist John Sheldon. They seem poised to make a serious run up the ladder in the music busness and appear to take what they do very seriously for such a young group of individuals. I had some time recently to ask John Sheldon some questions that I felt would help their audience get to know them a bit better.
Rocket: Thanks for taking the time out with me, bro. I wanted to ask you which metal singers past or present do you study the most for vocal techniques?
John: Phil Anselmo, Kurt Cobain, Chad Grey, Layne Stanley to just name a few. I am influenced by singers who write lyrics with meaning and that actually make you think.Rocket: Very cool list. How did you originally join up with the band?
John: Jamming in a hot ass garage back in middle school is where it all began about six years ago. I had no idea what I was doing. I had never sung before. But had always wanted too. I had the classic want to be a rock star dream. I originally was in the band playing bass. I sucked at that so I tried rhythm guitar, and found I was also no good at that, so I started singing. It's what I always wanted to do in the first place. Everything happened for a reason I guess.
Rocket: That's some kind of determination and will you have, bro. I commend you for sticking with your heart on this, because you are certainly a gifted vocalist. Ekotren will soon be releasing its debut EP "The Tables Have Turned" here in 2006. Where and with whom did you do the recording?
John: We are currently finishing up recording at Yates Studios in Fort Myers, Florida. With help from a few people. We started with 4 tracks for the EP, but we then decided to go back in and do some more, so now we should have a total of seven in the EP, and we are pretty exited about that.Rocket: It sounds like a plan to me. When is the release date?
John: We keep trying to come up with a date. We are shooting for April 28th. It's hard to get in the studio, play shows and have a day job. But its going pretty smooth.
Rocket: I see you guys are still un-signed. Have you been getting any offers from labels?
John: No offers at the moment. But we are hoping the new EP will takes care of that. Ourselves and management decided it was best to wait till we had some quality shit down and know what the people actually think of it before getting to that point.Rocket: I know this band has been developing quite a following on the local Cape Coral, Florida music scene. What has been the response so far on MySpace?
John: The MySpace response has been pretty awesome. People seem to be really digging the new songs that we just finished recording. We recently shot a video for our song "The Light" and lauched a new website, so with all this going on the response has been amazing! And I would like to thank everyone for there positive responses and the few for the negative ones. Any response is good to us.Rocket: What is the song Death Blanket about? Besides the obvious. I mean, looking at the lyrics myself I can see it talks about suicide. What's this all about? Having lost friends and family members to this chicken shit way out, I'm usually turned off by anyone that promotes this way of thinking. But it seems like you cats are trying to eactually educate kids to not kill themselves, to keep their heads up and move on from their life adversity. Am I right or am I wrong here?
John: Yeah, you're right. We try to write songs that make people think. And then they can come up with their own meaning to the song. We basically write about things we experience or feel, and we hope that people take it and really make it their own. I mean, we are not trying to preach. We are just telling our story and our thoughts.Rocket: What is your definition of heavy metal music?
John: My definition of heavy metal is heavy ass music with meaning. Whenever I hear a metal band for the first time, I always try to find their lyrics to see what they are all about. Anybody can get on the mic and growl or scream. In my opinion, to write good lyrics is what it's all about, so that's kinda what it means to me in a nutshell.Rocket: You say the late great Layne Staley is one of your biggest vocal influences. Why?
John: Alice in Chains was one of the first bands I ever got into.They were a huge influence on me and my writing. I really like his lyrics and the way he arranged them . Not to mention the fact that he and Jerry Cantrell were one of the best pairs of harmonizers I've ever heard. I still havent heard anything that compares.Rocket: I can see that the young teenager girls really are digging on Ekotren on the space. Are you getting a mix of girls and guys out at the local shows or is it more chicks? Which isn't a bad thing by the way. Haha.
John: Honestly in the local scene it's been more guys than girls. I guess we are just not pretty enough? Haha. Guys around here are more for metal I guess. But on MySpace, on the other hand, it's been pretty much 70% girls! And, hey, who can complain about that?Rocket: You won't hear anything out of my mouth on it, little bro. Haha. So if this band does get signed once the EP drops do you have more than enough strong material for the full length? Or are you still writing at this point for that big picture scenario?
John: We are constantly writing songs in between shows..we have been together for a while know and we pretty much practice and write everyday, so I think we will have more than enough material if the time comes.Rocket: Who is managing Ekotren? And are you happy with how that's been going so far?
John: The Edge Factory has been managing us for about 6 months. I have nothing to say but positive things about them. Eddie is the man.They aren't in it for the money. It's all about the music and that's hard to find anywhere.Rocket: Do you and the rest of the band take time to answer fan mail on MySpace or is that something you don't really care about?
John: We answer our mail just about as soon as we get it. We try our hardest anyway. Like alot of others here, MySpace.Rocket: --Is like crack cocaine? Haha.
John: It has become a drug! We really cant go without it! So yeah, we are constantly checking and promoting. The fans definitely come first.Rocket: That is awesome to hear, John. I spend so much time verbally slapping down bands wit the attitude, that come at me to work with them. Check the attitude at the door in this business, man u know? This game is all about being their for your fans. Tell me, what is the worst thing you've had happen so far while performing on stage to this point. I imagine you've got a funny story like the rest of us that have performed vocals live in public before.
John: We played a show at this place in Fort Myers called Gotham Hall. The show was going awesome. People were going crazy and about a minute into our last song the power in the whole building went out. And it never came back on...pretty unforgettable...haha.Rocket:What are some of the show venues Ekotren will be playing here in the immediate future?
John: Ridgeport Pub, Gumwrapers, The Haven, Dukes, Rockefellas, and many more to come.Rocket: Sounds like you guys are ready to turn the metal loose for certain. Go ahead and give a shout out to any of your biggest supporters.
John: Well, we want to thank all the people involved in this project; The Edge Factory has been great! Yates Studios has been awesome to us! Also to all of those who help us spread the word like: The Metal Den, Karen Elliot of(Elliott Booking),All the guys at 99x, Vince from The Pit, Fushumeng, Lost in Progress, Whisper Dying and anyone who is a fan of what we do.
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