Interview with Chosen Guitarist Paul Shields
After releasing a number of EPs and touring regularly in their homeland of Ireland, guitarist Paul Shields, bassist Matt Gaynor and drummer David McCann, collectively known as Chosen, found themselves in need of a singer. In the search, the band relocated to Vancouver, Canada, where they recruited John Matter. After a Canadian tour this spring, the band will return to their native land to record their debut album at Komodo Studios with their new vocalist.
On the eve of the band's Chuck Shuldiner (of Death fame) tribute gig at the Cobalt, Paul took some time to answer a few questions. Here is how it went down:
darkstar: Whereabouts in Ireland are you from?
Paul: I am from a coastal town called Balbriggan which is located in the Dublin region.
darkstar: Why did you choose Vancouver of all places to relocate? Was it a whole group decision?
Paul: It was a group decision; we had exhausted all our possibilities in trying to find a vocalist in Ireland. The Irish metal scene is small, so we decided that a complete relocation was needed in order to find the best voice for the band. We looked at a few different places. Vancouver appealed to us the most because of its location; the deal was sealed with people like Gene Hoglan and Devin Townsend using Vancouver as their stomping ground.
darkstar: Is Vancouver all that you imagined it to be?
Paul: Pretty much. We have really enjoyed our time here, and coming to Vancouver certainly proved to be the right move to make. Plus the scenery here is spectacular!
darkstar: Can you tell us a brief history of the band, like how you met each other and started playing music together?
Paul: Myself and David McCann (drummer) have been in previous bands together. We set out to start an original band and to ensure that we would take the time and effort in finding the perfect members. We met Matt Gaynor (bass) in a rehearsal room a few years later.
The meeting of John Matter was different because John was living in Canada while I was in Ireland. Matt flew out to Canada and happened to be the first to meet John, whom he spoke very highly of. John recorded vocals over an instrumental track that we sent him, and after hearing the track all of us knew we had found our vocalist. David and I arrived in Vancouver in May 2008 and that was the first time I met John in person.
darkstar: How is John Matter fitting in with the band?
Paul: John has fit in perfectly, he is such a versatile vocalist and dedicated band member. We have received a lot of positive comments from our fans here and from different parts of the globe since he joined the band.
darkstar: What happened to the guitarist who was on the "Fragment (Piece I, II, and III)" EPs?
Paul: When we were recording Piece III the guitarist had a lot going on outside of the band. In order to progress and move forward with Chosen, we felt it was best to go our separate ways. There is no bad blood or anything, we’re still good friends.
darkstar: Did you organize the Chuck Schuldiner tribute gig yourselves?
Paul: Yes, we are all big fans of Death and we wanted to do a tribute to Chuck Schuldiner, and to make it memorable for both us and the people who come out to see it. Rather than pick a handful of covers from each Death album we decided we would learn the album ‘Symbolic’ in its entirety.
darkstar: Have you ever played with Mecha Messiah before?
Paul: No, this will be our first gig together.
darkstar: How would you describe your sound to someone who has never heard your music before?
Paul: I don’t like to pigeonhole music, so when somebody asks me what we sound like, I simply say we’re a metal band. To be honest, there’s far too many sub-genres of metal music.
darkstar: Who are your biggest influences?
Paul: We all have different influences which helps keep our music fresh. My influences change all the time and I’m constantly listening to new music. Right now I’m really enjoying the latest Cynic album ‘Traced In Air’ and Akercocke’s ‘Words That Go Unspoken’. But having said that my influences can come from anything in life, not just from music.
darkstar: Who or what inspired you to pick up the instrument you play now? How long have you been playing for?
Paul: I started listening to Guns ‘N’ Roses and Queen at the ripe age of 7! So I have always been interested in guitar orientated music. However it was not until I heard Megadeth’s ‘Holy Wars.. The Punishment Due’ when I was 12 that I realized my one goal in life was to be able to play that song on the guitar! Ha Ha
darkstar: What is the deal with Waking Dreams Music? Is it an actual record label?
Paul: Waking Dreams is simply the label name we put on our music. The way we see it, we do everything ourselves; hiring a publicist, booking tours, financing everything the band does, effectively we’re doing what any record label does, just on a smaller scale.
darkstar: Why do you plan to record your album in Ireland, rather than in Vancouver?
Paul: We are associated with a recording studio in Northern Ireland called Komodo Studios; having recorded there in the past with producer Alwyn Walker we found it to be a great experience. He really knows how to get the best out of us and what sound and direction we want to take. Choosing a studio to record your debut album is a tough decision, but after our previous experience we knew that when the time comes it will be with Alwyn in Komodo. And that time will be July 2009.
darkstar: What can we expect from the new album?
Paul: You can expect a lot of diverse new material. Over the years we have been constantly improving our musicianship and song-writing skills, and this debut album will represent the very best we have to offer as a metal band.
darkstar: Where can fans purchase your albums?
Paul: When the album is released it will be available through all the usual online sources, CD Baby, Itunes etc. It will also be available through our Website and Myspace.
darkstar: Do you guys have day jobs when you're not playing? If so, what do you do?
Paul: We all have the same monotonous day jobs as the next guy. But without them it would be hard for us to finance playing the type of independent music we do. Johnny has the coolest job out of the four of us; he is a chef, and a damn good one at that too!
darkstar: Do you have any plans to tour outside of Canada after the new album is finished?
Paul: We are relocating back to Ireland this summer after our Canadian Tour. To tie in with the release of our debut album we will be touring throughout mainland Europe, the UK and Ireland.
darkstar: How is the Canadian music scene compared to that of Ireland ?
Paul: Pretty similar, however I have noticed that there are a lot more grindcore bands here in Canada than in Ireland. Death Metal is very popular in Ireland.
darkstar: Who is your favourite Vancouver band (metal or not)? Least favourite?
Paul: Abriosis would be my favourite Vancouver band, and my least favourite? Hmmm, every time I’ve gone to a show that we are not playing, I end up really drunk, so I am never in the right mindset to make such a judgement!
darkstar: Do you think the Juno Awards should include a metal category?
Paul: No, I don’t think that having metal in the Juno awards would help metal music at all.
darkstar: Any last words you would like to say to the readers of MetalUnderground?
Paul: Yes, we are touring around Canada in April and May 2009 before we relocate back to Ireland to record our Album, check out the dates on www.chosen.ie & www.myspace.com/chosenmetal come down to a show and check us out. And thank you for reading.
Check out Chosen tomorrow night (April 3rd) as they perform Death's "Symbolic" album at the Cobalt in Vancouver, BC, along with Mecha Messiah.
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