Adavant's Andy The Cunning Tells All About New Album "Tale Untold"
Arizona isn't usually the first place thought of when discussing epic folk metal bands, but Adavänt defies the geographical odds with a huge symphonic sound and classic folk storytelling. The band dropped its first official full-length album "Tale Untold" (reviewed here) last year and is in the process of working on a follow-up.
Adavänt's Andy the Cunning checked in with Metalunderground.com to explain the recording process for the soaring album of characters on a fantastic journey, and to discuss how the band came together in an area not well known for this particular style. The full interview is available below, in which Andy talks about getting the album to sound like it had a full orchestra and choir with such a small cast, as well as the band's new RPG inspired single "A Random Encounter."
xFiruath: Let’s start with some history. How long has Adavänt been in existence and how did the band come together?
Andy: Adavänt formed in November, 2007. I was introduced to my guitarist, Justin the Fierce, through a mutual friend. We both had previous metal projects that we had been committed to: his more in the genre of thrash and mine more aligned with symphonic metal. Over the course of a few weeks and several dozen cases of beer, we began piecing together the material that would eventually become Adavänt, incorporating our respective styles, and throwing a strong folky element in there for good measure. It was a novel idea, especially on the Arizona scene, to make a band with a sound like this. Luckily, that fact eventually worked out to our advantage.
xFiruath: How would you describe the sound of Adavänt to a potential new fan?
Andy: We’ve been described as many things, mainly because we have a diverse sound- which is intuitive because we’re story-tellers. Any epic story worth listening to is going to have a lot of changing themes and moods, ups and downs, triumph intermingled with tragedy, and so on. Through the course of our music, we write to reflect these themes. When you turn on a given Adavänt song, it becomes immediately apparent what the characters are experiencing, much like when listening to the score of a movie. It’s quite theatrical in that sense, and often includes narration, ambient sound effects, and other such elements to get the listener to paint a picture in their minds. As far as how to describe it? Some of the more amusing descriptions I’ve heard from fans over the years include “epic adventure metal,” “epic folk metal,” “the score of Lord of the Rings plus electric guitar,” and “Flogging Molly with balls.” Hehheh, I guess if any of these ramshackle descriptions sound appealing to a potential fan, they should give us a listen.
xFiruath: “Tale Untold” seems to tell a very specific story. What’s going on thematically in the album?
Andy: The album is told from the perspective of a scholar who happens upon an old tome, long lost to history. It tells the story of a forgotten hero, whose life drastically shaped the destiny of the world around him. The sequence of events is set around the story of a war that, while well-known factually to the subsequent generations of the people of these lands, has historically been told without the identities of the heroes who led the forces to victory. Their names and faces have all been long forgotten. But through the scholar, the listener follows the untold story of a young man who, through his adversity and hardship, comes forward to lead the united peoples of the land against the tyrannical Republic that has long suppressed them.
…oh and then there’s the secret track, which is about a giant fucking barrel rolling down a hill and smashing people.
xFiruath: Where did you record the album and how was the recording process?
Andy: The album was recorded almost entirely in the comfort of our own home. Most of the band mates lived together at the time, and we had a practice space set up with some nifty acoustics. Our incredibly talented recording engineer, Mr. Dylan “lil’ Dill” Ross, is a veritable musical chameleon when it comes to adapting to different recording situations, so we were able to get quality sound without the expense of multi-million dollar studios. With the advances in recording technology and versatility of equipment, the recording scene is becoming a friendlier place for underground music these days. The recording process itself was a blast. So many late drunken nights of recording and mixing. We have a 7-part studio journal on Youtube which documents the ridiculousness, and reveals the band for the drunken fools that we are. I remember you guys at Metalunderground featured one of those videos a few months back.
xFiruath: It seems like there was a rather large cast involved with the album all the various vocals and instruments used. Who all was involved in the recording of the album and how do you reproduce the songs in a live setting?
Andy: It’s all done by members of the band. The only non-band member that makes a regular appearance on the album is our narrator, Takvor Hill - an accomplished actor in the Phoenix area. Any part requiring group vocals, we just invited a bunch of fans and friends over to drink and crowd around a microphone. Other than that, it’s all us, which makes it easy to reproduce in a live setting. We’ve even been known to have Takvor narrate for us in live settings, when his schedule allows. Most of the instrument sounds come from a Roland Fantom keyboard (who should sponsor me, because I proudly use their gear in the studio and on stage because they make the greatest keyboards of all time), with a nice blend of acoustic and distorted sounds from the rest of the ensemble. We’re an eclectic bunch of musicians. If that fact is reflected in the music and makes us seem to be more than a six piece, then we’ll take it as a compliment.
xFiruath: Tell me a bit about your new single “A Random Encounter” – what prompted that track?
Andy: “A Random Encounter” is our tribute to the classic RPG video games of yore, as well as to the electronic gaming community at large, I suppose. It casts the members of the band as fellow party member characters in an old school role playing game. While adventuring on a quest at an early stage of the game, through some glitch of programming code or something, we encounter a huge end-game monster that immensely out-levels us. Rather than run away, we decide to stay and face the monster, and the song is the epic chronicling of the battle that ensues. There’s definitely a comic element to the song, since in the lyrics we are constantly acknowledging our awareness that we are characters in a role playing game, but overall it’s a high-tempo blast of epicness with a warm undertone of nostalgia. As fitting as the song is for our sound, it didn’t fit onto our previous album or our album currently under development, so we decided to release it as a free single. It’s currently streaming on Youtube, so go check it out.
xFiruath: Now that the album is out, what’s on the horizon for Adavänt?
Andy: In addition to having some awesome shows booked in the upcoming months with the likes of Turisas, Arkona, Huntress and others, we are already plugging away at material for our second album. Whereas “Tale Untold” took on the feeling of a retelling of history, the new album will be more like campfire stories and folklore set in the same world. We’ll be unveiling some new material live in the next few months.
xFiruath: What are your thoughts on the current state of the folk metal world and what bands do you personally listen to?
Folk metal is truly a wondrous genre. It promotes the ideals of brotherhood, kinship, overcoming adversity, and celebrating triumph. All of these concepts transcend time and location, and everyone can relate to them on some level. It’s a genre that allows you to feel serious and intense one minute, and fun and light-hearted the next, without compromising its consistency and meaning. I think that the genre as being a solely euro-centric phenomenon is a misconception. And as we have seen time and time again on our local scene, the more people hear of it, the more excited they are to hear more. Over the years of opening up for the big name folk metal acts, we’ve established friendships with the members of Alestorm, Eluveitie, and Blackguard to name a few, and have always found common ground in our musical goals. That’s the beauty of the genre, I guess. My band mates and I are huge fans of bands like Ensiferum, Finntroll, Blackguard, Turisas, Alestorm, Korpiklaani, Eluveitie, Arkona, Sabaton, Powerglove, and Epica. Incidentally, we’ve had the privilege of playing and fraternizing with all of the aforementioned bands over the years, and they’re all great folks.
xFiruath: What’s going on in your local metal scene these days?
Our shows. Come see them. Also, check out Mosh Pit Army. They put on the best metal shows in the area, hands down!
xFiruath: Anything else you’d like to discuss?
Andy: Just want to send a big epic hails to our fans, the great musicians that we’ve had the pleasure of playing with over the years, and the people that made the production of the first album possible.
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