Interview with Travis Neal of The Bereaved
The past year or two have been anything but smooth for Swedish melodeath-metallers The Bereaved. Their old label, Black Lotus, dissolved, leaving them unsigned without a label to release the follow-up to 2004's "Darkened Silhouette." On top of that, the band went through a number of line-up changes. However, 2008 seems to smile on the group as The Bereaved solidify the line-up with new recruits prepared to unleash their upcoming album, "Daylight Deception," due out this fall via Vic Records. Joining the rank is their new American vocalist, Travis Neal, who took some time to answer a few questions.
darkstar: How have the guys of the Bereaved been treating you so far?
Travis: The band has been amazing. I could not ask for a better group of guys to work with. They took me in and made me part of their family. We instantly clicked from the start.
darkstar: How did you hear about the Bereaved in the first place?
Travis: I found The Bereaved by accident. I dig the band Blinded Colony and I heard they had got a new singer [Denny Axelsson]. I really was curious about what he sounded like. I was looking at his past bands so I could hear his vocal style. I came across The Bereaved on Myspace and saw they were still looking for a singer and I loved their music. I just took a shot in the dark by asking them if I could audition. I never thought they would take it seriously considering I live on the other side of the world. I received a song to audition with after I sent them some past material that I had done. The audition went extremely well and here I am fronting the band. For me, it’s like a dream. I just said, "You only live once," and just went for it!
darkstar: Where in the U.S. are you from?
Travis: I'm from San Diego, California. Was born and raised.
darkstar: What are the challenges of working with a band from Sweden?
Travis: In my opinion, obviously, the distance, but with emails and home studios these days it really makes it easier. Another concern of mine was the adaptation. I was a little worried about how the Swedish crowd was going to take to an American singer and would it hurt the band for having an American singer and not keeping it all Swedish. But the show's response was more then welcoming and the people that are in that country are incredible people. Very kind and not egotistic at all. Real down to earth and down home hospitality.
darkstar: How do you find time to balance the two bands you have going on, especially with one of them situated in another continent?
Travis: Well, it is easier now, I guess. Right now, The Bereaved has a little down time until this record drops, so it gives us all time to focus on our other projects and bands. My other band is located in Los Angeles so it's not too far of a travel to get things done. When the record drop then I will be super busy with The Bereaved once again…
darkstar: What do you do when you are not making music?
Travis: Well, I have a 6-year-old son whom I love to spend time with. He's my world! Unfortunately, I still have to work so I go to work 5 days a week to pay the bills. Also, I'm a HUGE MotoGP fan and I have a sport bike that I love to ride on the road and the track. So I guess that covers it.
darkstar: What do you think you contribute to the Bereaved's overall sound?
Travis: I would say that, me stepping into this band added a little bit not much though because they had an amazing sound before I came along. I guess I would say that I'm a real versatile vocalist. I try not to just do one thing with my voice. I try to keep my music open with no boundaries. I don't want to just fall into one style of music.
darkstar: What made you become a singer? How long have you been a singer for?
Travis: I've been doing music since I was 16. I started playing the bass and vocals kind of just came along because my band did not have a singer. So I started taking on the vocal spot as well as playing the bass. Then, we just found a bass player. I've always been into music since I was a little kid. I would always rock out with my sister. She introduced me to Metallica, Iron Maiden, WASP, OZZY and stuff like that. I think she played a big part in why I do what I do today. I guess you could say she was the push that made me move and now I'm still moving and she's one of my biggest supporters.
darkstar: How do you do the death metal vocals without killing your vocal cords?
Travis: It's kind of weird. For a long time I would listen to bands like Slipknot and Mudvayne and Pantera and say, "How the hell do those guys throw down like that?" And in 2001, I got an audition for a band with Greg Christian (Testament) and Jon Dette (ex-Slayer/Testament) and I really wanted the job. I basically tried to re-invent myself as a singer and I developed my vocal style. I push from my gut and dirty it from my throat. So you are screaming full volume but it’s not destroying your voice so you are still able to do all the clean vocals as well. I told you it was kind of weird. A little hard to explain too.
darkstar: How has Justin Timberlake influenced your vocal styles?
Travis: HAHAHA.. Well, I guess I would not say he influences me in my music. I just think he's an incredible performer and has an amazing voice as well as a hell of a song writer. The people that are going to read this are probably saying, "That fag, he listens to Justin Timberlake!!" But that's what I mean by keeping a open mind and versatility in the music I listen to. If you don't, you’ll always stay in the box and never grow as a musician.
darkstar: Why was the new album name changed from "Reborn Rebuild Reconstruct" to "Daylight Deception"?
Travis: The original title to the record was called "Reborn Rebuild Reconstruct." But that was something that Denny came up with. He's not in the band anymore so we all felt we wanted to give it a fresh start again. "Daylight Deception" is something I came up with when I was there. I was going to name a song that but I told the guys and we all thought it would be a great name for the record.
darkstar: What is the meaning behind the title "Daylight Deception"?
Travis: I would like to keep it open for the listener to decide their own meaning to the title. I really like it when a fan takes the lyrics to a song or a title and creates their own meaning and how it pertains to their life.
darkstar: What's it like working with Dan Swanö?
Travis: Working with Dan was amazing!!! I have a been a HUGE fan of his since Unorthodox (Edge of Sanity) came out and to work with him was a dream come true. The guy is amazing! He had me do some guest vocals for him on something he was working on called "Obliterhate." So that was amazing as well to be able to be on a record with him. Hopefully, one day we could work on a record again. It’s pretty cool that someone that is one of your biggest influences becomes a great friend too. We still talk all the time.
darkstar: How would you compare the new album to the last one?
Travis: This record is different from that last because the band has broke new personal ground with this release. The last record was great but really straight forward. This new one touches a lot of different styles of music, so it's really cool for the band and myself. We kind of all really pushed each other on this one and it shows.
darkstar: Is there a release date set for the new album?
Travis: Well, we were set to have a summer release but there were some complications. The record label has set us for a fall release. No exact date but in fall. Not really what we were looking for because we are really excited to put this record out and we don't want to wait. But no worries, good things come to those who wait.
darkstar: Is the video for "Alter the Image" out yet?
Travis: The video is done and it is in its final stages of editing. The guys that shot the video for us are a really busy unit so it's been taking a while to release. I have seen the final but there just needed to be a few more edits before we release it. Keeping the fingers crossed that it will be done by the end of the month.
darkstar: Will North America see the Bereaved on tour in the near future?
Travis: If it's up to me, Hell yes!!! I'm searching for a US distro deal right now. We have US distribution through VIC but I would like a bigger US distro deal. We are also scouting US sponsorships that will help with tour support. So I guess it's safe to say that the US will definitely see us here very soon!
darkstar: How long did it take Tobhias Ljung (drums) to grow his beard?
Travis: HAHA good question! I think he said he has been growing it for 5 ½ years and he's cut it 7 times. I asked why he cut it and he told me that if he didn't it would be down to.. uhhh .. You know…
darkstar: Any last words to the readers of MetalUnderground.com?
Travis: Thanx to all of you who read this and support us! We can't tell you how much it means to us. BIG thanx to MetalUnderground.com for keeping the buzz on great bands and keeping everybody informed!! Other than that, keep you ears open for the record cause it’s going to melt your face!!!! Check us out at www.myspace.com/thebereavedswe. Myself and Mikeal run the page so feel free to hit us up and go check out of music there!! Much love to you all!!!
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