An Interview With Steve Amarantos of Mechina
Steve Amarantos is one of the hardest working men in the Chicago underground. Between gigs and recording with both Apocrypha and Mechina, Steve manages to do what few musicians are capable of. Having not only managed to open for some of the biggest names in the underground metal scene but also joining an established Chicago underground staple, Steve Amarantos has become one of the most recognized names in the Chicago metal scene. Metal Underground was able to reach Steve online to ask him about his current projects and what's new to come.
Matt Dasher: What was it like to join an established underground Chicago band like Mechina?
Steve Amarantos: I got to say man it was pretty cool. At the very end of 2009 Apocrypha was re-recording our song “Neverwhere” with Joe (the guitarist/programmer/producer of Mechina) and at the end of the session he was telling me about how they were having trouble with there bassist and that he was maybe just going to have the band play as a 3 piece, and at that time they were in the process of recording the new album “Conqueror.” I looked at him and joking said, "Hey if you need a bassist I can help ya out." He kind of looked at me and was like, “Yeah, OK dude. You're a lead guitarist and vocalist in Apocrypha what do you know about Bass.” Little did he know when Apocrypha formed back in 2003 I was the bassist! So fast forward like 3 weeks and I got a call from Joe saying, "Hey dude do you think you could play bass for us? Were you even serious?" I said ya I would help out all I could and I played bass on “Conqueror” and then now on the new single “Andromeda,” while still going really strong with Apocrypha.
Matt: Does anybody confuse your band Apocrypha with the thrash band from the 80s?
Steve: Haha! All the time people will send us stuff saying, "Look at you guys from the 80's!" I just laugh at it because I think that it is really funny that of all the names in the world we picked one that was the same as the Apocrypha from the 80's, which we sound nothing like. But the funniest thing about it all is that our named before we changed it to Apocrypha in 2007 was Havoc and we got sick of it cause we were like, "OK, if we were a thrash band from the 80's it would be prefect!" And then we go and pick a name that was actually from the 80's. I think people just bring it up more to joke about with us cause they know how different we are from the band from the 80's.
Matt: Are there any more plans for local shows this year with either Apocrypha or Mechina?
Steve: Apocrypha is always playing live! It is what we love to do and we feel that we can put on a really strong live performance, and we want to share that with as many people as possible. As of right now I think we have 9 shows booked through the beginning of September and there will be many more to come. The best way to see where our shows are located is at www.reverbnation.com/apocryphaband. I mean we just a couple weeks ago opened for Holy Grail at the Subterranean in Chicago which was a blast. As for Mechina since we just finished the new single and released it we are hoping to be playing shows by the end of summer. It is a lot more involved playing live with Mechina than Apocrypha because with Mechina there is the backing track with all the orchestra and other sound affects so it is definitely more of a challenge to get everything set up but like I mentioned we are hoping for later in the summer to start playing live again.
Matt: Has either band you're in gotten any offers for record deals?
Steve: With Apocrypha nothing has come as of yet. We have gotten some interest with booking and production companies and we still in the process of working out some of the deals and once we do have a set company we will definitely be telling everyone but our goal besides making music and playing live is to get singed! With Mechina I have not heard of anything. I don't deal with any of the business in that band because Joe knows I have Apocrypha to manage and write for, but if something did come up I would know and as of now nothing has come up.
Matt: Are there any plans for a full-length Apocrypha release?
Steve: Yes there is. We will be releasing our new album titled, “In The Shadow of Reality” sometime in July. This will be our second full length album and we are so excited for people to hear it because it will be nothing what people are expecting! We have already released the first single off of the album titled, “From Ashes” which we have gotten nothing but great feedback from. We released it to the world for free! Anyone can go onto our Reverbnation site, www.reverbnation.com/apocryphaband, and download the song. We are really happy with how that one song turned out and we can't wait for people to hear all the songs that will be on the album! It is really going to be cool because we are releasing the album in a couple different ways, and with each different way people will get extra tracks so we are super excited for it all!
Matt: I'm currently loving the new Mechina album and it honestly sounds like an album that was produced professionally. Who did the production and maxing on it?
Steve: Joe Tiberi from Mechina has his own studio, Apothica Studios in Batavia, IL, where the album was recorded and mastered. It is also where the new Apocrypha album is being recorded. Joe is great because he knows what he is doing since he records his own band and has been doing it for a good amount of time now he really knows how to capture a bands best sound. He will sit there and say "Nope that wasn't good enough! Do it again." Or he will just delete something because he caught a mistake and doesn't want the player to continue not doing there best. When we were recording the single From Ashes, I was having a really hard time recording my first solo at the end of the song because it is a very neo-classical progression and I am sweep picking the progression that I am playing and Joe stuck by and never gave up or said write another solo, he kept saying you can do it, and if it wasn't working we would move onto another part in the song to get my mind off of it. Its no wonder that all the bands that record with him come out of the studio having such an amazing and professional sounding record. This is no basement studio at all.
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