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An Interview with Omega Crom's Johnny Ketlo

Photo of Omega Crom

Band Photo: Omega Crom (?)

There may be just one show to go on the Summer Shred Tour, but Omega Crom doesn't plan on slowing down. If anything, this year's hyperactive tour schedule is a sign of things to come for the metal act, at least if vocalist/guitarist Johnny Ketlo gets his wish.

“Once we get this cross-Canada tour done, we're going to turn our attention to getting down to LA and back. We've got our passports, but the visa is the hardest one. Setting up the shows. We're just hoping to generate more buzz, more publicity, and then feed off of that to hopefully slingshot us into the United States.”

The Summer Shred Tour was the second trip across the vast Canadian highway system for Vancouver, B.C. band, and the second in support of their full-length debut album “Blood, Steel & Fire.”

“And it's the exact same tour as last time,” Ketlo reveals. “Five weeks, to Montreal and back again. One of the key discrepancies is we played Montreal twice this time, and we traveled a little bit further, from Montreal to Sherbrooke, Que.”

Pamela Porosky: How's the (Summer Shred) tour going overall?

Johnny Ketlo: Right now the tour is going great. It's going really good. We've had a great response from the fans, and a lot of support from the pubs and promoters.

Porosky: Where was your favourite stop so far?

Ketlo: Canmore, Alta. was definitely a highlight. It was probably the best night. The place sold out, the Canmore Hotel, and there was a lineup down the block. And there was a huge party after. And, of course, Metal Monday at Filthy McNasty's in Edmonton, Alta. was great as well.

Porosky: Have the repeat performances helped?

Ketlo: Oh yeah, you bet. Everything is better this time than it was before. It's definitely been helping.

Porosky: People know who you are now?

Ketlo: Exactly. We're starting to build our name.

Porosky: What is your favourite thing about touring?

Ketlo: My favourite thing about touring is definitely the shows, the playing, and meeting the other bands and the fans. It's just all around good times right there.

Porosky: And the least?

Ketlo: My least favourite thing is... I don't know. The mosquitoes in Edmonton, maybe. It was so muggy there too. It was kind of hellish, so, yeah, I guess that would be kind of the one downfall.

Porosky: What makes it all worth it?

Ketlo: Well, the fact that we're striving to slay the crowd now – just joking! No, we're building ourselves towards a career doing music we love and having fun, so that's what keeps it going. We want to do this for a living and there's only one way to do that and that's to pay our dues, so that's what it's all about right now.

Porosky: You guys all live together when you're not on the road, don't you?

Ketlo: Yeah, that's right. We've got the Omega Crom stronghold down in Vancouver. We all live there and we rehearse there. It's a studio and house. It's totally cost-effective, especially when it comes to jamming and preparing for the studio.

Porosky: Have you been working on new material?

Ketlo: We have so many new songs, we're really trying to get into the studio to put them down for another album. We don't want to just do one album and then, you know, that was it, we want to do more. We've pretty much got a new album written. Living together really helps with that kind of stuff.

Porosky: That's cool, cause it took a while to get "Blood, Steel & Fire" out there.

Ketlo: Yeah, it took a long time to get that one going. Oh, my God, that is a tale to be told. If you check out OmegaCrom.com, you go in the bio there and have a read about that. It took such a long time. But we're hoping because the album, the first one, is done, that will be the catalyst to make the next one easier to do. We're more prepared, we know what we're up against, we know what we have to face for cost and everything. We're more experienced on the road. We're ready to do what it takes and we're learning a lot.

Porosky: Does living together help the overall chemistry of the band too?

Ketlo: You betcha. And the chemistry is so important in the jam space. And with the lineup being what it is right now, it's awesome.

Porosky: How do you decide whose turn it is to clean the bathroom?

Ketlo: Well, I actually have my own bathroom, and the other guys have their own bathrooms, so they clean their own. For us it's more about the dishes and the kitchen because we share the kitchen, but if we want to have a sane existence, we have to clean up our own messes. I'm fairly responsible when it comes to that kind of thing. Some of the other guys... not so much (laughs).

Porosky: For some bands, touring is a way to get away from the day to day. What's your excuse?

Ketlo: I'm a positive guy. I keep everything on the stiff upper lip, you know, but some people get a little stressed out and I notice that when we get on the road it actually helps to distract because you are getting away from the every day, and you are doing what you want to be doing with your life, so it is a good thing.

Porosky: How do you break the tension?

Ketlo: We get along so well that even if there is some friction we know that nothing is taken to heart.

Porosky: And in general?

Ketlo: There's many different ways to deal with stress, especially when you're on the road, and we all have our own vices.

Porosky: Is that the PG version?

Ketlo: Yeah, that's PG version on how to deal with stress on the road!

Porosky: Does shredding things up with new music help?

Ketlo: Oh yeah, for sure. Actually, we've got this new song called “Blood Red Moon.” It's a really great tune; we're totally loving it, and it's had a great response from everyone that's heard it. It's a brand spanking new song. And it's cool, too, because I dreamt the chorus up. Sometimes I dream music, right, so I keep a guitar and a notepad and a pen beside my bed, and I woke up and wrote this down and it turned out to be the chorus of our new song and it's actually pretty kick ass. I'm so happy about it.

Porosky: So what exactly were you dreaming about?

Ketlo: I just dreamed of a chord progression with some lyrics and then the melody, so I got up and wrote down the lyrics and I kind of composed the melody notation so that i would know how it sounded, and then I waited and finally found a use for it and it was the chorus of this song.

Porosky: Do you do that a lot or do you have other approaches to song writing as well?

Ketlo: That kind of stuff happens from time to time, but generally, you're just playing your guitar, you've got riffs, and maybe you just made it up and you match it up with a riff you wrote eight years ago and they go together like they were meant to be, or you've got some lyrics and that goes into some riff you were kicking around, or one guy shows up with a riff and the other guy writes another one to compliment it right away, so... it's a definite process. It's always different; it's always changing. I guess the main thing is to not force it. Let it be natural.

Porosky: What was the main difference in how you approached writing the new material, as opposed to that on "Blood, Steel & Fire?"

Ketlo: I guess because we're more focused and more mature. We're finding our sound, we're figuring out who we are as a band and it's direction. And having "Blood, Steel & Fire" under the belt we can kind of step back away from it after all these years and look and see what we've done. I was really happy with that. It's not a totally different thing, but it's definitely more focused.

Porosky: When do you think we might get to hear some of these new tunes on CD or mp3?

Ketlo: I'm not sure, but I'm hoping by springtime next year, in 2011. I've applied through Factor Canada for a grant and if I did my proposal properly, which is the second one I've done. The first one got rejected because I'm not a great proposal writer – I won't lie to you – but I did it up again and if they let us go we'll get into the studio by October; but, if they reject this one, I'll have to do another and re-apply in October. You have to be good at the paperwork and all the bureaucratic stuff. It's not just about looking cool and rocking out and drinking beer anymore. You've got to be able to manage and do some business as well.

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