Interview With Stabbingback
Band Photo: Stabbingback (?)
Seattle based metal band Stabbingback have taken an interesting approach to their music, choosing to exclusively release dual albums, one strictly heavy metal and a companion that is more acoustic rock oriented. The band was just recently signed to C2M2 Records and released their debut albums "Redeemer" and "Absolution." They answered some questions with me just before playing some of their lighter set at a cafe in Great Falls, Montana.
xFiruath: Having played in bands in both Montana and Seattle, how are the scenes different and what do you like or dislike about both of them?
Gage: Major differences across the board. Here in Great Falls there’s only like two gigs, mind you we’re talking about only our genre, metal was the only thing I was doing here. We played often at only two clubs. Playing a cover band was a strong way to do it but the biggest problem was if you had original material, you couldn’t play there maybe more than once every two months. It kind of limited your ability. The good news is that they appreciate you. They are willing to pay you a little bit for being there, so that was cool. Being in the big city, it’s the exact opposite. You know supply and demand is really what the question has to do with. Here, supply and demand works for the band, you know. Unfortunately there isn’t nearly enough demand, but you do have a limited supply of good bands to choose from, so you kind of have that working for you, which is why they are willing to pay for a good band. Big city, no. Anyone of these guys can tell you over there it’s a dog eat dog world. You don’t get crap for playing gigs over there. You’d be lucky if you get in the door.
Ben: You’ve got to work really hard.
Gage: You may only have a huge supply and not nearly enough demand. So if you charge, they’ll let you go and get somebody who will do it for free. Which in turn actually hurts all the bands, so it’s really difficult to stand out. There are a lot of good guys, a lot of great bands, but they just don’t get noticed because they are among a barrage of other great bands. With so many less bands here you don’t have nearly as much competition. But if you want to stand out you’ve got to make sure you have something to show. It isn’t going to be one of those things where if other there, people will just walk into the bar and hang out and if they like what they hear they’ll check it out. Here, when they go into a bar, they are there, they are going to listen to you, so if they like what they hear, fantastic, but if they don’t you just killed your reputation. Here reputation is what it’s all about.
xFiruath: How long have you all been musicians and what made you want to start playing music?
Jay: I’ve been playing for about 20 years now. I started playing an acoustic guitar and I was pretty interested so my brother taught me to play a few songs and I just went from there.
Paul: Yeah about the same, 20 years playing guitar. Started out just doing metal, that was my main interest. I’ve been doing it off and on ever since then.
Ben: 17 years I’ve been playing and did some studying as well, most of what got me into it was playing pots and pans mostly. Started out playing pots and pans and drove my parents nuts, played the dashboard a lot. So then I got a drum kit, went from there, went to school and studied, moved to Seattle.
Gage: I’ve been playing real close to about 20 years, I think about 19 ½ or something like that. That’s guitar as well as a few other instruments. When I was younger my mom was in a country band as a bassist, which is pretty interesting because I hate country. So she really realized how helpful music was for her, for school and everything else, so she went ahead and enrolled me in all kinds of music stuff when I was younger, got me in classes and everything, and they were just trying to find something I really like. I did piano for awhile, tried the cello. The school I was in wanted me to do trombone, so I did that for awhile, which I regret. Among those things I ended up picking up guitar, which was kind of frowned upon in my house at first because it was like “Well, you should be focusing on piano.” Until they realized that was the only thing I cared about, was playing the guitar. They gave me classical lessons and sent me to a private tutor, showed me a bunch of classical stuff. At the time I was listening to Megadeth so I ended up taking a Megadeth album to my classical class with this guy and said “I’d like to learn this song.” We’d only been playing acoustic, so he took the rest of the week tabbing out Megadeth in acoustic, and that’s really where it started. Then I got all excited about the electric side of things.
xFiruath: So you’ve decided to do dual releases with the heavy album and the more softer rock style. What lead you to do that instead of just incorporating the more mellow aspects into a heavy album?
Gage: it was the plan from the beginning. We decided we were going to deal with the band in a business method to begin with. Right off the back we made a lot of decisions that bands will eventually be faced with. We wanted to know the answers before we took the test. No band in the history of music has ever released two albums, two different genres, as a debut, ever. How many things in music have never been done? Really, I mean it’s pretty hard to find. So when it occurred to us that that was the case, all of us are huge fans of metal but also we’re pretty large fans of more acoustic materials. Everybody here loves Alice In Chains, we all dig a lot of different styles of music overall. Incorporating all of our personal interests into the music was pretty easy, but when it came down to deciding on two different genres, it was like “You know what, we really can’t combine this with that. We really need to make sure they are separate.” That’s how the whole thing started. You can play acoustic shows just about anywhere, metal shows are a pretty specific venue. When you put them together you can tell a bigger story behind the music and really getting into the lyrics. It works to our advantage, we have a lot to say and we have a pretty good way to tell.
xFiruath: Speaking of lyrics, what is the focus of your lyrics and where do you draw your inspiration from?
Paul: Lots of life experiences.
Gage: Yeah, a lot of personal stuff. When you hear the lyrics it’s very obvious there is a lot of stuff that’s very personal. A lot of stuff you don’t talk about a lot, and we wanted to make sure there was a voice for that. They are about a lot of inner turmoil for individuals and society in general.
xFiruath: You guys just got signed to C2M2 not too long ago, how’s that working out so far?
Gage: It’s interesting.
Ben: It’s working out
Gage: Business is business. Trying to keep the perspective on the music while dealing with the business side is never fun, but it’s got to be done. Luckily we have a label that helps us to do that.
xFiruath: Tell me about “Redeemer” and “Absolution”, what are they all about and what was the recording process like?
(When I mention the recording process the whole band has some uneasy laughter.)
Jay: How many times did I record the bass tracks for Redeemer?
Gage: We did some tests on Redeemer, recording about three times, just different types of recording. We spent almost an entire year and a half just testing different recording techniques. You know because every band is always trying to save a buck, we were no different. Trying to figure out how we could do this. We ended up hiring an engineer named Erin, located in Oregon now, but at the time he was in Seattle. He’s great, does good work. We also ended up speaking with Tom Faffle who agreed to master the albums, which was by no means free, but definitely worth it. Guy knows what he’s doing. I mean as far as, just the recording process, dude I could tell you stories that are just insane. Ben recorded the entire album’s worth of drums in six hours.
Ben: The first time.
Gage: The first time, in an apartment building, and the cops kept getting called on him. So he knew he had about a three hour window before that problem happened again, so he just played it through as fast as he could. Considering the restraints, it came out great, but in the end we realized we knew it could be done better. That was across the board, everybody was always in a rush so we just decided we would do it again. We started in on it again, but because our schedules are so insane we decided we would work on it on our own, record on our own by ourselves instead of as a group. We would then put it together piece by piece and work it out that way. It’s not like we were trying to record the whole thing all at once, we just all wanted to be there for the process. We realized with schedules it was so difficult to do that, I mean we’re talking two to three weeks just before we could all even get together. Pretty difficult.
Ben: We were waiting just to even get the right room to have the right sound. We finally found a good enough room that had the sound we needed.
xFiruath: Not very good acoustics in an apartment building I’d imagine.
Gage: Oh it worked, it did the job but it was tough. That was even with the help of C2M2 and that was kind of one of the reasons we decided to hook up with them in the end. They really gave us a lot of helping hands in the beginning and it was very obvious were our loyalty should have been going.
xFiruath: What do you think is the best show you’ve ever played or do you have any crazy show stories?
Paul: I kind of like that Maggy O’Toole show.
Jay: St. Patty’s day in an Irish pub.
Paul: Yeah there were tables and chairs and bodies being thrown everywhere.
Gage: Showbox is a great venue, we checked that out a few times and realized it was pretty awesome
Ben: Really good crowd there, great sound system.
xFiruath: When you aren’t playing music what album do you listen to most often and what do you like about it?
Jay: We’ve been writing so all I’ve been listening to personally is our own stuff.
Gage: We’ve been trying to tighten things up and get everything ready.
Ben: We’ve begun the writing process for the next set of albums.
Gage: We’re working pretty hard on the new material now because now that these are done we want to make sure the material doesn’t stop, that it’s a continuous process. We’ve got a few songs done now, a couple which we will be playing tomorrow night at the Loading Zone.
xFiruath: Do you have a title for that yet, or still too premature for that?
Gage: No, we don’t want to touch the album titles until we have emotion behind the album done, and that comes with the writing process.
xFiruath: What do you guys think is the most bizarre or silly thing that has happened in the history of metal?
Gage: David Lee Roth. Everything he does.
Jay: I’d probably say Gwar. The big phallus coming out on stage shooting goo all over the crowd. That’s pretty bizarre.
xFiruath: On your dream tour, where would you go and who would you tour with?
Ben: I don’t know about you guys but I’d tour with Lamb of God.
Paul: We’d go anywhere, Amsterdam would be great.
Gage: I’ve always wanted to play Madison Square.
xFiruath: Where do you see Stabbingback going from here?
Gage: Hopefully forward and up, that’s kind of the goal.
xFiruath: That’s all my questions, so any parting words for the fans?
Gage: A true music lover will always listen to music, not hear it, so listen to what we have to say and hopefully we are all on the same page.
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