Interview With Eternity Black's Ryan McKnight
Former HELSTAR guitarists, Robert Trevino and Larry Barragan, have formed a new metal beast entitled ETERNITY BLACK out of the very proud and legendary underground metal scene of Houston, Texas. These two clearly made an impact with their former band and are now sitting on top of a literal powder keg with the new one. I even venture out to say that they are at the helm of one of the baddest, meanest-sounding unsigned acts in the world. They will not bow down to the corpororate metal way-of-thinking as they move forward, ushering in the truest form of heavy music one can handle. I am really impressed by not only the guitars and percussion going on, but they have got one incredible vocalist in Ryan McKnight, who I shared some Q&A with recently. Getcha pull!
Rocket: Thanks for taking time on this with me. Let me first ask; are you a native of Houston, Texas?
Ryan: Born and raised. I have lived here my whole life, except for the college time in Austin. When I got done with college I moved back to town and started working for a living.
Rocket: I want to tell you that of all the thousands of bands I have scouted this year... hearing one 'off key' voice after the next, you are one of the most talented vocalists in the underground, bro. When did you first start singing?
Ryan: First off, thank you very much. What I am doing with Eternity Black is really something new when I talk about how long I have been singing. I was in choir in high school and had a couple little bands with friends from school. I also had one band in college that was just for the heck of it. I had a cover band that really got me started singing out and in front of people in 2001. After that band fell apart in 2003, one of the guitarists and I moved to another cover band and have now built that into an all original band, Wide Open Throttle. After I was doing that for awhile I joined up with the Eternity Black guys and have been singing with both since.
Rocket: Did you ever take any formal lessons?
Ryan: I was in choir for four years and learned a lot through that. When I got into my first cover band I started taking private lessons and learned a lot about my stance and my breathing. That is really the key to it all. I know it sounds like common sense but when you start singing harder and harder or if you are trying sing all night, like I would for a cover band, you really need to be drawing your breath from the correct place. I am also in the process of learning the Melissa Cross methods as far as extreme vocals. I have read a lot of good articles from other vocalists using her DVD and warm up techniques to help you sustain more powerful vocals as well as keeping your voice for the next shows.
Rocket: So how exactly did you join up with Eternity Black? Are you a founding band member?
Ryan: No, I am not a founding member. I met Russell Deleon (drummer) through work and he told me all about the Helstar days and Marzi and different things he had done and then he mentioned that they (Rob, Larry and Russell) were together again and looking for a singer. They were playing with a guy named Jesse Tijerina on bass and wanted to get back into the scene with a new metal band. I met Rob and Larry at a show in Houston one night and they said what they were looking for and we talked for a while and I told them I would think about it and get back with them. Then about a month later, I met with Russell again and got a CD with three songs they had been working on. They already had lyrics to one and a half of them so I learned the one, finished the second one and wrote lyrics to a third. I called Russ and said I was ready and I went and tried out with them. After a couple rehearsals they called and offered me the position.
Rocket: How does the songwriting work for this band? Are you writing the lyrics like most vocalists do?
Ryan: When I first joined they had about four songs done and I just came in and wrote lyrics to what they had and we did a little rearranging here and there but that was about it. Since then it has been a real team effort to put all the songs together. Larry or Rob will come up with a riff or maybe even a couple different riffs they have been working on and bring them to the rehearsal room, at which point we start combining them every way we can think of and start building a song structure. I always have lyrics I have written or have been thinking about and as we start arranging it I can see what works with what I have. Then once we start getting a structure we can really start to analyze the song and see if where we are heading works. Russell will be working on parts or trying to follow something the guys have come up with. Our new bassist Carlos has added another avenue for creativity since he comes in with just as many good ideas and has a good ear for direction on all the songs. In the end we have all had a part in every aspect of the song which is cool for us, it is not one person having all the pressure to come up with something, plus it gives all of our songs their own unique aspects. They all have the Eternity Black sound but you do not get bored hearing the same progression or song structure. You never know where we are going to go next.
Rocket: Are you guys working on new material?
Ryan: We have written a few new ones and played them at our last shows. We also have a few that are in the works right now and are hoping to finish them before our next show. We have had to hold off on rehearsals for a few weeks since the guys are busy with Helstar during August but we will be back in the saddle end of this month and everyone should just watch out.
Rocket: Tell me who are some of the other upcoming metal acts on the Texas underground scene that you are impressed by?
Ryan: Houston is really growing with so many great bands that it is hard to limit yourself to any one in particular. Six Minute Century is one in particular since I just saw them again live this weekend. Azraels Bane, Outworld, Meyvn are a few others that have impressed me. There has been a resurgence of some old school bands out of Texas, Rigor Mortis, Rotting Corpse, Gammacide that has helped bring back some good fast old schools thrash. Broken Teeth is another good one out of Austin fronted by Jason McMaster of Dangerous Toys.
Rocket: So what's been your favorite metal album for 2006 so far?
Ryan: I really am impressed with the Rebel Meets Rebel album.
Rocket: Oh, hell yeah. I totally agree, brother. I think Darrell, Rex, D.A..C and Vinnie have danced circles around even Slayer's over-hyped new stuff with this one. Getcha Pull!
Ryan: I would have to say that has been my favorite because of the span of music influences it can touch. I am also really impressed with Dragonforce right now. I do not have the album yet but I have heard a few songs on Hard Attack, Sirius Radio, and I can not believe how fast the guitars are.
Rocket: Those cats are making a name for themselves, no doubt. Now, I like to have fun with this next one, tell me what's the funniest thing that's ever happened to you on stage?
Ryan: I normally use a wireless microphone, but last year I broke it at a show and had to send it off to get fixed so I had to go back to using a wired mic. At two different shows, one with Eternity Black and one with Wide Open Throttle, I went to put my hand up to pump up the crowd and was standing on the mic cord and it ripped the mic right out of my hand, making a huge thump as the mic hit the stage. The other great one which is always good for a laugh is when I am drinking a beer on stage and I try to either drink from the mic or talk or sing into the beer. That always gets a good laugh from the ones that see it. I think the best was when Eternity Black was playing about a year ago and we were doing our own cover of Fucking Hostile, I jumped into the crowd on Robs solo and went and jumped up on the bar. I stood up to start singing the next verse and stuck my head in a fan at full speed. I did not miss a lick and finished the song and that was the end of the set. Thank god, I instantly developed a huge knot on my forehead and had people the rest of the night coming up to me saying how cool it was that the fan hit me square in the head but I did not even miss a beat.
Rocket: And that's why they call it Rock N Roll! Haha. Now, I know some that don't, but are you one of the types that actually answers your MySpace fan mail?
Ryan: I will always answer anyone on MySpace. I want more fan mail then I know what to do with. I always like to hear what people think, good or bad. If people are taking time out to send me something because of our music and what we are doing then I owe it to them to acknowledge what they send and that I appreciate their time.
Rocket: Right on. What are some of the upcoming Eternity Black shows we need to be aware of?
Ryan: September 30th we will be playing at Jakes Bar in Houston and November 2nd we will be playing the Lonestar Rally in Galveston. For more information on both shows you can go to our website www.eternityblack.com and our MySpace www.myspace.com/eternityblack.
Rocket: Well, brother man. I had a killer time getting this done. And I see nothing but killer things to come for this band. Give a shout out to your biggest supporters.
Ryan: There are a lot that have helped me along with all this. Nicole, MOM, Jason, Judd, all of Wide Open Throttle, James, Rob, Russ, Larry, Carlos you have all been awesome while I have been trying to get where I have wanted to go with my singing. All the people that have heard or seen Eternity Black have been nothing but supportive and hopefully we can get this thing rolling so fast that nothing will be able to stop us. Keep your eyes open because you do not want to miss Eternity Black when it comes through your town.
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