"some music was meant to stay underground..."

Interview

Butch Balich Of Argus Discusses "Boldly Stride The Doomed"

Bursting on the scene with a mindset to wreak havoc, Pennsylvania's Argus has strived to make everyone hear its brand of metal. Argus has just released a second full-length entitled "Boldly Stride the Doomed" on the Italian label Cruz del Sur, and has some dates scheduled to make ears bleed live. I caught up with vocalist Butch Balich to discuss the new album, touring, and the quality of recorded music today.

Buick McKane: How are you doing today?

Butch Balich: I’m good. How’s your day going?

Buick: Pretty good. Your latest album “Boldly Stride the Doomed” was just released. How are your fans liking it?

Butch: So far, it seems like everyone really likes it. I mean, we’re pretty psyched about it. I think we’ve only seen one cat online who said the first one was better. But you always know there’s going to be a few people like that who like the first one. So far, so good. It seems like everyone likes it. It came out earlier in Europe, and it just came out in the states a week and a half ago, or something like that. So, so far, so good. I’ve been really psyched about the reviews we’ve been getting online too. So it’s always good.

Buick: Great. And what did that one person like about the first one more? Is it very different musically?

Butch: I don’t think it’s terribly different. I think the songwriting is better, overall. I still really like the first one. But when we wrote this one…it’s more cohesive. We wrote a lot more as a band on this one. The first one, a lot of the songs were written by one person, then we kind of just touched them up at practice; where as people brought in either the majority of a song or a riff and we built them together. I don’t even remember what he liked more about the first one. I think a couple of the comments actually [said] they like the production better, it was a little bit more raw sounding. Not that this one is slick or anything like that, but I think some people liked the first one because it’s a little bit more raw and this one is built up a little bit more.

Buick: Some people like the way low-fi demos sound just because they think it’s more organic, but that’s not necessarily a better sound.

Butch: Yeah. I have friends who are not necessarily metal fans, but they’re into low-fi kind of music, so there’s always someone that likes more stuff that’s “real.” Like you said, sounds like shit as opposed to something that sounds like, “Wow, you put some money and time into this in the studio.”

Buick: People think that if it sounds like shit, the people are more genuine.

Butch: Yeah, like it’s more underground or something like that.

Buick: Yeah. It’s all music though.

Butch: Yeah. I like stuff across the spectrum; real raw sounding stuff to the super-slick stuff.

Buick: Exactly. Well the label that put it out is Cruz del Sur in Italy. How did yall hook up with an Italian label?

Butch: I actually contacted Enrico at the label before the first album even came out, and at the time the problem was that he liked the demo, but I don’t think he loved the demo, but he liked it. But one of the things that he and I talked about the time was that we were a brand new band, no one knew who we were, they like to work with bands that are already getting known because it makes the label’s job a little bit easier ; if it’s not as tough to sell, they don’t have to put… I mean, if you’re juggling bands, you don’t want to spend all your resources trying to get a band that no one knows about to get them known. But I kept in touch with them a little bit off and on, and Tom Phillip from While Heaven Wept and I, those guys having been on Cruz del Sur, were kind of in their ear for the last year and a half about Argus. So we kind of tagged teamed him. We recorded a three-song demo that we got to Enrico through Tom, and Enrico loved it so that’s how we ended up getting on the label.

Buick: Why did you want to be on that label originally?

Butch: First of all, some of the bands that are on it. Twisted Tower Dire and Slough Feg; we all love Slough Feg. And Enrico’s reputation kind of precedes him about being very honest to deal with and the label, it’s a good little label for putting out quality stuff. It’s one of those labels that I think the people that know bands on the label will buy stuff from the label or because the label is putting it out. So that was one of the reasons. Also, when we first started out, not that I don’t think the states is a good market because I know people over here love metal, but I think the stuff we do would also appeal to the European market. I thought it would be cool to be on a European label and that they maybe had connections to the scene. Not that we were unhappy with Shadow Kingdom, with what he did with the first record. But it was time to move on, and be able to get ourselves exposed more in Europe, and have someone behind us who was going to put the money into advertising and press. I mean, I didn’t do any of this for the first record. I did a couple of interviews online that I set up myself. So it’s really cool to have, you know, a guy who really believes in the band and pushes it the way that he is.

Buick: Right, and if you get on a European label, you probably have a better chance at getting on European festivals.

Butch: We’re hoping to make a dent over there. We just got the Hammer of Doom Festival. So we’re hoping between that and the record releasing, we get a lot more opportunites. Of course, we want to play as much as we can over here too. Unfortunately [it’s hard] with some of the restrictions we have with work and family, but we’ll do what we can.

Buick: What are your touring plans for this album?

Butch: We don’t really have any touring plans because with my job, I have a job at the University of Pittsburgh and I’m into serious work right now. I have four kids, Andy our bass player has two daughters, Jay has got a son. So when everyone has jobs it’s kind of tough, we’re in these positions where it’s tough to do a tour. I think the most we can get away with would be a couple weeks, and if we could get the time from work and family and out of family obligations, it comes down to who the hell is going to pay for it. And we’re not exactly at the point yet where we have a promoter putting money behind us. This last tour we did was all on us. Our plan is to do…we’re playing The Day of the Doomed Fest in Kenosha, Wisconsin, in June. We play on the 18th in Toledo. Then we’re talking about doing something in the fall, like a three-day weekend kind of thing. It think we’re talking about Cleveland, Rochester, then going up to Toronto. So we’ll probably do weekend warrior stuff when we can. We live in eastern Pennsylvania, so I was trying to get something set up on our hometown, but everytime I get dates from them, it doesn’t work out for us for whatever reason. We want to go up to the Northeast this year maybe. I’d love to get down south and go out west as well, but there’s only so much we can do trying to scrap together money for airfare to make stuff work. With how big the U.S. is, it’s tough. We’re going to do what we can within our restraints, but hopefully in 2012, things will open up for opportunities. We’ll see what happens.

Buick: Is there anything else you would like to say?

Butch: I appreciate you taking the time to do the interview for the site and I hope people check out the record, and like it, and like what they hear. And come see us sometime. I hope people dig what we’re doing and check out the band.

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Emily is an avid supporter of the New Orleans scene, often filming shows and conducting interviews with local bands to help promote their music. She also runs her own site dedicated to the New Orleans scene, Crescent City Chaos.

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