Interview with Don Belch of Ninetail
York, Pennsylvania's NINETAIL has stuck with the same headline on their MySpace music profile all along: "Fuck you, come and get us!". And I can't help but see that this daring attitude they've put out there among the swirling ocean of thousands of competing metal bands - to indeed be that thorn in everyones side - is now what's truly started to reflect itself in their recorded music and live shows, performances that have included them sharing the stage with some of the biggest names in the business like MUSHROOMHEAD, DEVILDRIVER and SOULFLY. Back in 2004 the early version of Ninetail hooked up with the two driving guitar forces behind SPINEBELT, Don Belch and Chris Evans. Its been a match made in heavy metal hell since. I am really pleased to be able to get some Q&A done with lead guitarist, Belch.
Rocket: So are you originally from York, Pennsylvania, brother?
Don: I was born in Luzerne County (Northeast PA), but moved to York, PA when I was just two years old - and have lived in York ever since.
Rocket: When did you first start playing electric guitar?
Don: I began playing guitar when I was eleven years old, and currently teach guitar for a living at Campbell's Music in Dallastown, PA.
Rocket: Who are some of your biggest playing influences? Past or present.
Don: Most notable among my influences are Alex Scholnik & James Murphy. Bands that have influenced me include American Head Charge, Slipknot, Fear Factory, Pantera, Segovia, Bleed the Sky, Cradle of Filth & Nothingface.
Rocket: What kind of guitars are you playing live and in the studio?
Don: I currently play Fernandes guitars, but have recently been endorsed by Osira. Both Chris Evan and I will soon be playing signature Osira models.
Rocket: Congrats to both of you on that. And it's about damn time someone stepped up to you two. Ha! What kind of amp rig?
Don: My head is a Peavy 5150, and my cabinet is also a Peavy.
Rocket: Let's talk about the new album Ninetail is working on. Who is producing and engineering it and where is it being recorded?
Don: We are currently in the early stages of writing, so it's a little early to know exactly which direction we will take. I like everything to come together right from the start - from the music to the artwork, and every little detail in between. The next chapter of the Ninetail saga will most likely be engineered by Mike Radka at Akdar Studios in Bernville, PA (the same guy who engineered "The Process of Conversion.")
Rocket: Is there a title yet?
Don: Not yet - since we're still in the early stages of writing, we have yet to decide what theme we'd like to go with.
Rocket: Compared to the mayhem you guys unleashed with "The Process Of Conversion" from last year, what can we expect with this next collection of songs? Please tell me there's not going to be any ballads involved. Haha. Let's leave that stuff to Zakk Wylde and Evanescence!
Don: Definitely no ballads - we're shooting for an even crazier and more insane sound, without sacrificing our groove. We've really grown a lot as a band since the release of "Process," so we have a lot to prove to ourselves - that we can and will out do ourselves with the next release.
Rocket: That's great to hear. Everyone knows that I like to have fun with this next one. What's the funniest thing that's ever happened to you while performing on the stage?
Don: I got a woody when we played with Soulfly & Mushroomhead – ha, ha! The funniest moment was probably at the Mushroomhead show, when I jumped off the drum riser and nailed our keyboardist in the back of the head with my guitar.
Rocket: Last year was truly one unholy year for metal, wasn't it? A ton of great albums got dropped on our ever loving metalheads from Maiden, Lamb Of God and Cannibal Corpse to name only a few. What was your personal favorite?
Don: I can’t really pick a favorite – DevilDriver (Fury of Our Maker’s Hand – Special Edition), Lamb of God (Sacrament), Unearth (III: In the Eyes of Fire), All That Remains (The Fall of Ideals).
Rocket: Now it's no secret that Ninetail is after a solid record deal in 2007. Who isn't, right? But I really think you guys are pretty much at the top of the heap right now and deserve that more than most. Who are a few of the labels that have your interest and why?
Don: There’s a bunch of different labels that have peaked our interest, but we refuse to sign a record deal just for the sake of signing a record deal – would like to make sure that the label has our best interests in mind. We recently kicked ass at the Crocodile Rock in Allentown, PA in support of Silent Civilian – and were asked to headline the 2nd Annual Industry Expose at Croc Rock on Friday, February 16th, where we’ll be showcasing for Sony, Epic, Roadrunner & more!
Rocket: I firmly believe you guys holding out like this is going to pay off in the long run for all your efforts. How has the street team effort in 2007 been going for this band? And is that something that you'd like to see get improved upon? What would you like to see fans doing in that area for this hard working metal band?
Don: Our street team is currently being organized and will hopefully be in full effect shortly. Appropriately dubbed, “The Converted,” the street team will consist mostly of true Ninetail fans – those who have been supporting the band all along by purchasing tickets and making road trips to see us perform. As we continue to generate interest in other parts of the country, members of “The Converted” will receive free tix and lots of unique promo materials.
Rocket: Very cool. What are some of the upcoming shows for Ninetail that we need to watch out for?
Don: The most important show on the schedule is probably the 2nd Annual Industry Expose that I already mentioned, which will take place on Friday, February 16th at the Crocodile Rock in Allentown, PA. In addition, we were recently invited to jam on the Project Independent stage at Milwaukee Metalfest XIX, which is scheduled to take place on May 11th and 12th.
Rocket: Listen, thanks so much for taking the time out on this with me. I wish you and the band much continued success here in 2007. Please give a shout out to your biggest supporters.
Don: Thanks to Greg and Haley Bowman at Level Nine Entertainment, and to all of the local and regional bands with which we’ve shared the stage: From Dissension, Scars of Hatred, Anthrophobia, Primal Embrace, Spit Can, Spinebelt, Stuck in Kaos – just to name a few. Thanks also to the Metal Twins from Killadelphia, PA –
Rocket: -Aren't those two just amazing? And now they're kicking ass in this Maxim magazing model search even. They are on their way to the semi-finals.
Don: They never fail to show their love and support for Ninetail!
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