Interview with Marc Halverson of Proven
Portland, Oregon's PROVEN is a hardcore metal band to sit up and really watchout for. The band is on a literal shooting star ride through the system on their way to worldwide recogniton, all in a matter of literal moments it seems since I first discovered them several months back on MySpace. The band is comprised of vocalist, Marc Halverson, Randy Ross on guitars/vocals, Sam Boggess on guitars, Josh Dixon on drums and Keith Fitzgerald on bass. I actually fell head over heals in love with their straight ahead, non-over produced hardcore sound when I first heard their demo tracks, but then obviously when I noticed they were being mentored along very closely by Billy Graziadei of Biohazard fame, I'm not going to lie, that really caught my fascination. I am very pleased to bring this new exclusive Q&A session to all of you that I've conducted with Proven's vocalist, Marc Halverson.
Rocket: Marc, thanks for taking the moment out of your busy schedule to rock this interview out with me, brother. Let me get the ball rolling with a formal icebreaker... or should I say Rocket's 'textbook' opener? Haha. Are you a native of Oregon?
Marc: I was born in Bellevue, Washington, and shortly there after moved to Westfield, New Jersey, where I lived until I was 4 years old. Then, we moved to Portland, Oregon, where I have lived ever since. Portland is a great city to live in.
Rocket: When did you first start singing?
Marc: I have been into metal for years but I did not start singing until the summer of 2005. Randy (vocals/guitars) and I decided to start writing music, so we went down to Guitar Center, picked up a mic, and that is how Proven came to be.
Rocket: Simple as lighting up a fatty! I love it! Did you ever take any vocal lessons along the way? Or are you self-taught/trained?
Marc: I did not have any prior or formal vocal training before we started Proven. I began taking vocal lessons from Sarah, a local voice teacher here in Portland in the Spring of '06. She taught me the basics involved with singing, rhythm, breathing, sound, range and how to strengthen and not strain my vocal chords so that I do not lose my voice when we're playing shows. Also, our manager/consultant Billy Grazaidei, has give me some pointers and made a cd for me to use and practice before I sing. I have a lot to learn and a long ways to go vocally. But, like any muscle in your body, the more you practice and work it out, the stronger and better it gets.
Rocket: Who are a few of your biggest vocal influences?
Marc: First off, I have to thank my brother Brett for introducing me to the world of metal!
Rocket: Stop the interview. Wait! Doug Gibson, turn up the lights here in the metalunderground.com studio of abyss! (Rocket stands) Okay, let's all go ahead right this very moment stand together now... and yell out real loud: "Thanks, Brett... for introducing Marc to the world of heavy metal!!!!"
Marc: Haha. I grew up on old school rap...
Rocket: (Rocket falls to the floor clutching his heart) I think someone just shot me!
Marc: Haha. But...
Rocket: (No longer playing the death feign, Rocket climbs back to his feet) There's a 'but'!
Marc: In 1992, my brother sat me down and handed me Pantera's "Vulgar Display of Power"...
Rocket: Can we please crank the music speakers up in the world of metalunderground.com's abyss just this once.. and dammit, we wanna hear 'Walk'! (Suddenly the explosive strains of Dimebag's thunderous monster chunk riff kicks in!) Let's get them horns up, people and let's do the mosh!!! Hell yeah!!!
Marc: Haha... and he said to me, "Brother, this is Pantera and it is all you need to know!" He was very right about that and it opened me to an entire undergound of brutal music. Phil Anselmo (Pantera, Down, Superjoint Ritual) is my favorite and greatest metal vocalist, period!
Rocket: Can I just start crying like a little baby right now! I need a bib!
Marc: Also... of course, Billy Graziadei and Evan Seinfeld of Biohazard are the masters of alternating vocals and their sound is just raw and brutal and does not sound like anyone else! One my favorite vocalists is Chris Volz (Flaw, Five Bolt Main). He has an uncanny ability to transition from brutal screams to a calm and peaceful tone that only a few can do. Other vocalists that have impacted me are Burton C. Bell (Fear Factory), Rob Flynn (Machine Head), Max Cavalera (Sepultura, Soulfly), Dave Peters (Throwdown), Jamey Jasta (Hatebreed) and Rey Oropeza (Downset).
Rocket: Dude, now we're talking some real, honest to God heavy metal! Let's talk about Proven more in-depth and how the band got started. Take us briefly into those details.
Marc: In 2004, my friend Dan told me to come over to check out one of his good friends play the guitar. He told me that is friend was pretty good. I came over and watched this guy plug in and absolutely tear the house down! I told him, "Pretty good? This guy is phenomenal!" That is how I first met Randy Ross (guitars/vocals). In the summer of 2005, we went up the Sounds of the Undergroud in Seattle, Washington, and made a pact to start writing music when we got back to Portland. After returning home and a few days of heavy drinking and jamming, with had "From Within" and "Ambush" written. In late August of 2005, Sam Boggess (guitars) took one lesson from Randy and after the jam session, Randy brought him into the fold. Shortly, John Gagne (drums) who had played with Randy in a previous band came aboard and we were known as "From Within". John left the band in December 2005 to move back to the east coast and be closer to his family. At that time, we continued to write songs and decided on a name change for the better, which is how we came to be "Proven". In February 2006, we flew over to New Jersey to record our debut EP "Proven" at Underground Sound Studios in South Amboy. It was recorded and mixed by Billy Graziadei (Biohazard, Suicide Cit) and Mike Turner (Vulture). We came out with a solid and heavy hitting EP and returned to Porltand. Josh Dixon (drums) and Keith Fitzgerald (bass) joined the fold in the Spring of '06 and we have been moving forward ever since.
Rocket: Anyone who follows my work here and of course at The Metal Den on MySpace and TMD.com on the web knows you guys are hard at work with the legendary Billy Graziadei of Biohazard on your debut full-length. Can you please give us insight as to how damn nerve wracking that's got to be in the studio having to get shit right with him standing behind nearby! Honestly, I would shit a brick! Haha.
Marc: First, Billy Graziadei is a "true professional" in every sense of the word!
Rocket: You know, brother. He looks like this intense pit bull who can rip yer face off if he needed to but with that tender underlying quality that he really takes himself and the people around dead seriously and respects those that respect themselves.
Marc: He is completely focused and determined to do things right in the studio.
Rocket: That is so cool to hear. You always get let down with the guys you look up to at some point, know what I mean? You hear the most random stuff when you actualy work in the music business like we both do about that stuff. Like 'so and so' wouldn't allow you to look him in the eyeballs, JLO kinda stuff. Haha. Or, this one: "He didn't do anything to help anyone but flex the Rolex on his sleeve!" Haha. This is so cool to hear. So please take us all back to when you guys actually hooked it up to get the ball rolling on recording Proven's debut.
Marc: Billy flew into Portland on a late Thursday night on February 8th, 2007. We were up bright and early the next morning in the studio to begin recording our new album. Billy spent several hours making sure everything was exactly precise and the way he and all of us wanted it to sound. We spent 3 days (Friday-Sunday) averaging 17-18 hours but we got the album done! Personally, I have known Billy for 8 years and he has always been a class act and a true friend, so I am very comfortable around him.
Rocket: Hold up. Are you telling me that you guys finished recording the entire full-length collection of songs in three days? That's got to be a record. I haven't ever heard of that. I mean, you hear the stories about some of the great 60's rock acts that worked quickly... with like Phil Spector holding a gun to their heads! Hahaha. But that's incredible! He must have been like a Marine Drill Instructor!
Marc: He does make you work very hard and he is completely focused the whole entire time he is in the studio but he makes it fun and rewarding at the same time.
Rocket: What the hell? I would imagine a cup of water is enough to do the trick, right? Haha. Oh, man. I'm serious this is radical stuff. I bet every major metal label exec reading this has fallen out of their leather chairs while trying to balance their costs for last months mishaps and overspendings!!! Hahaha! When exactly is the album due to be released to the public?
Marc: Currently, Billy is mixing our new album "Truth Reign Supreme" back at Underground Sound Studios in South Amboy, New Jersey. He is putting the finishing touches on it before we have it sent out to be mastered. We are anticipating a late Spring or early Summer 2007 release.
Rocket: That is a wicked title, man. Compared to your early demo work, which absolutely shows so much unspeakable potential... how is the debut album being approached? Are we going to get more of the 'heavy' from you guys or are you trying to get played on mainstream radio with these songs... much like say a Saliva. Don't take offense... I'm just grabbing names here. Haha.
Marc: "Truth Reign Supreme" is stronger, heavier and more progressive than our debut EP. We have grown a lot musically and as a band over the last year and it shows on the new material. We are definitely not going mainstream on the new album but it will definitely appeal to a wider audience while still staying true to our metal and hardcore roots. We exceeded all expectations on "Truth Reign Supreme" and we cannot wait to release it!
Rocket: Not to put you on the spot, brother. But what Biohazard album and song over the years are your personal favorites. If everyone wants to know mine... haha... as I'm sure you do... I prefer Uncivilization from 2001.. and 'Sellout'.
Marc: I could go on for days about Biohazard and the impact they have had on me personally and musically. Their music is real and absolutley powerful! My favorite Biohazard album is "Urban Discipline" and my favorite songs are "Punishment" and "Shades of Grey". They introduced true breakdowns to the hardcore and metal world! I dig all of their albums and "Sellout" is a great song as well; I love the riff!
Rocket: I really do love just about every single track they cut too, Marc. For some reason I'm on that later stuff kick right now from them. What the hell is the metal scene like in Oregon? Ha! I'm not trying to be disrespectful, please understand. I work all the major hot spots of the country doing my work... and you guys are really the first solid act I have scouted from these parts. Are there any other killer metal bands we should know about that impress you from your local scene?
Marc: The metal scene here in Portland is still heavily influenced by the "Nu-Metal" sound.
Rocket: (Sound FX of fake vomiting) Ex-cuse me... I need to relieve my-self...
Marc: Haha. A lot of bands do their own thing but still sit along the lines of the "Nu-Metal" explosion from 1999-2003. But, there are some solid bands here in Portland that bring the brutal metal and hardcore like Era of Tragedy, Across The Sun, Apocalypse Head, It Prevails and Lahar from Seattle,Washington.
Rocket: Everyone knows what a great year '06 was for heavy metal, in all areas... from progressive to hardcore.. to the real extreme stuff I am mainly into. What one album was your personal favorite out of them all?
Marc: Albums that stood out to me were Heaven Shall Burn "Deaf To Our Prayers", Unearth "III: In The Eyes of Fire", Caliban "Undying Darkness", Hatebreed "Supremacy" and Bury Your Dead "Beauty and the Breakdown". Also, the new Machine Head "The Blackening", which comes out March 27, 2007, is incredbile. I just saw Machine Head last week here in Portland with Lamb of God and Trivium, and they absolutely destroyed the place! They are definitely still in a league of their own.
Rocket: It's funny how everyone I have asked that question to over the past ninety days plus now always comes back with Lamb, man. That's a true testimony to what they did achieve. As much as I crack the whip on them. Sorry, Tyson of Downspell. I call out to Randy's wicked step-child at this point, cause I know he's reading this interview like everything I else I do. Haha. What are some of the upcoming shows for Proven that we need to watchout for?
Marc: We're playing a big show on March 17th, St. Patricks Day in Vancouver, Washington, at the 15th Street Pub with several bands. Also, we're playing our first show at the EL Corazon in Seattle, Washington, March 31st with both local bands from Portland and Seattle. We cannot wait to release "Truth Reign Supreme" and we cannot wait to hit the road and tour this summer! Please, visit us on www.provenmetal.com and www.myspace.com/provenmetal for all upcoming news, music, shows and merch!
Rocket: Listen, this was a blast. Thanks very much for taking the time on this with me. Go ahead and give a shoutout to your biggest supporters.
Marc: We want to thank all of our families, friends and most of all, our fans! Much respect to Bela, Marlies, Enigma, Edgar, Separation of Sanity, Biohazard, Pantera and last but definitely not least, Billy Graziadei. And last but not least... to Rocket.
Rocket: Whew, Marc. I was almost going to have to start swinging from over here! Hahaha. Thanks, bro! It's all honor to be representing for the true metalers of the world.
Marc: Thanks for supporting and promoting Proven. We appreciate your hard work and we look forward to continue working with you. "Rocket" is the man! Peace!!
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