Taking It To The Extreme With John Paul Of Orcus
Underground metal has a new sensation in its midst and it comes in the form of Glendale, California's progressive black metal act, Orcus. This group freshly mixes in extreme metal influences ranging from Opeth, Cradle of Filth, Devil Driver to Amon Amarth. They are a band, beyond its mutant-like musicianship and songwriting prowess, that has been truly blessed with one of the stronger vocal talents in black metal that I've ever heard in the affable John Paul Fernandes. He and I shared some discussion recently, traversing further down that chilling road of musical darkness that is Orcus.
Rocket: When did you first start singing black metal vocals? It seems like it comes very effortless to you. And I must add you have one of the more chilling voices I've ever heard. It truly sounds like you're a tortured ghost calling back from the dead.
JP: Hahaha, well maybe I am a tortured ghost calling back from the dead. Finding my own style of vocals was a long hard journey. I started singing like this a few years ago when I first discovered black metal. It takes a lot of work and discipline. I've had some great influences such as Shagrath of Dimmu Borgir and Mikael Akerfeldt of Opeth, so I've definitely had the best vocalists to look up to. But in the end, you gotta see what fits you best. In the beginning, this kind of singing really irritated my throat, but I got used to it and I have found many different techniques to help protect my throat while still producing skull crushing vocals. My advice to people trying to develop this same skill would be to keep pushing it. Learn how to breathe right, and practice as much as you can until you cant speak anymore.Rocket: Who are some of your biggest metal vocal influences?
JP: My biggest influence would have to be Mikael Akerfeldt from Opeth. I'm also greatly influenced by what Mikael did with Bloodbath as well. He's an insane vocalist and never ceases to amaze me with what he can do. Also, Shagrath from Dimmu Borgir is a huge influence to my higher screeching vocals. Another one of my favorites is the great Angela Gossow of Arch Enemy. A woman who can growl like that deserves the Nobel Prize.Rocket: You also play rhythm guitar. How long have you been playing guitar?
JP: I've been playing guitar for about 7 years now.Rocket: When did Orcus originally form?
JP: Andrew, Hayg and I started playing together in winter of 2002/2003, but we were a totally different band back then and we were called Black Rose. About a year after we took a huge turn and started playing black metal and when Chris and Karo joined the band. We became known as 'Orcus'. Since then we've grown into the monstrosity we are today.Rocket: So were you born and raised in La Crescenta?
JP: Yes, I was born and raised in La Crescenta, but I moved nearby to Glendale a while back.Rocket: What is the song Birth about?
JP: Obviously, Birth is about the anti-christ. We know that's a pretty cliche thing to write about these days, but at the same time, we wanted the song to have a clear message that we could preach which could be understood by all people. It's really about taking sides with chaos. We're trying to fuel the anger people feel towards structure. It's as simple as that.Rocket: I understand that Orcus just finished recording an entire album with Skull Seven Productions and Poison Carousel Productions
JP: Working on the album at Skull Seven and Poison Carousel Productions was an honor and a joy. I had a great time recording this album. The process was very long, but working with these great people made it a really genuine experience. In the album you can expect the same skull crushing, ball busting, brain blowing, face melting black metal that you see at our shows but with some added twists. We're proud of this album and we hope that all of our fans will be just as impressed by it as we are. It will be released within the next month, and we're naming it "Birth," after one of our heavier tracks.Rocket: Orcus has a big show coming up May 23rd at The Whisky A Go Go. You are opening for the legendary death metal band Obituary. How excited are you about this gig?
JP: I can't describe how excited I am to be playing that show. I mean, were gonna be playing with one of the most important bands in American death metal. They've been around since the beginning and they are definitely one of the greater innovators of today's metal. Its gonna be an honor sharing the stage with fuckin' Obituary. It's gonna be insane.Rocket: Will Orcus be playing material from the new album?
JP: You can bet your ass we are. We are currently working on the second album, which just might be a concept album but all ideas are still up in the air. I personally LOVE this new shit we're writing, even though it's fuckin' hard to play and sing to. We're really developing a professional writing style where all band members and all influences are taken into account. So far, the end product really fuckin' reveals that, and we hope our fans will feel the same way.Rocket: Orcus has developed quite a following on MySpace. Do you answer any of the fan mail yourself?
JP: The Orcus MySpace has grown so much. Every time I check it I'm surprised at how many people are actually listening to our music and commenting on it. Fan mail is answered by anyone who has signed on to the myspace that day, so yeah, I do answer the mail we get sometimes. I wanna thank all of the fans for their support, their great compliments and especially for coming out to shows. Where the hell would we be without you guys?Rocket: Great point, bro. Too many in this business forget that. What is the funniest thing that's ever happened to you on the stage?
JP: At one of the first shows we played with Black Rose, we were still getting used to the stage and where everyone would stand and me and Karo would tend to stand too close to eachother. So during the show I was headbanging and my hair got stuck in his basss tuning pegs so I had to stop playing and get my hair untangled. That sucked major donkey balls. But it was garsh derned hilarious.Rocket: I can just picture that one. Now that's Spinal Tap for yah. Hahaha! What were your top three favorite metal albums from last year?
JP: I've gotta put Opeth's Ghost Reveries as my number one favorite. Second would definitely have to be Doomsday Machine by Arch Enemy. The third will have to be This Godless Endeavor from Nevermore. Their guitarist Jeff Loomis just never stops amazing me.Rocket: Has Orcus been getting any recent offers from record labels?
JP: Not quite yet. We're hoping that the release of the album might bring some attention to us. Also, when it comes out we plan on sending the album to labels all over the place, like Metal Blade, Nuclear Blast, Century Media etc. I cant imagine how insane it would be to get signed to a label who's signed some of the major bands we idolize.Rocket: Go ahead and give a shoutout to your biggest supporters?
JP: Oh man. this gonna take a long time. First of all, I wanna give a shout out to my parents who have supported us every step of the way and come to every single show we've had. Of course, I must thank THE JUJ because she IS the soul of Orcus. I wanna thank my bosses, Saro Kerkonian and Vicken Simonian, the champions of the legal world!! Also, everyone at the law office I work at, Coreen (and fuckin Jae and fuckin Calleen and fuckin Ray), Ana, Lisa, Tamar (fuckin Oliver), Joe, Jaquie, Shawna, and Victoria, you guys fucking RULE!! I want to thank all of my friends who come out to see us, thank you guys so fucking much!!!!! Last but really really not the least, I want to thank the fucking fans, without you guys we'd still be in my god damn garage, thank you guys for the support. We promise to never let you guys down.
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