Wednesday, October 31, 2018

interview: William Wallace

The independent band William Wallace (U.S.) is impressive from the first listen to the 2018 debut album How Gods Are Made, an enthusiastic sound that seems to put together a multi-genre approach within the framework of thrashing, progressive music that features guitars and melodies prominently. This publication presented the band with some questions about the album, and the band’s history, and they were generous and professional with their answers and took it upon themselves to give an informative interview.
Greetings, William Wallace. Where is the base of operations for the band? It seems like you all might be in California. If so, can you tell us about how things are for your band in the local scenes? The world has many ideas about California: Hollywood, earthquakes, Lakers, rock music, beaches, so on and so forth. How are things for you there?
Jordan: Greetings, Metal Bulletin Zine. You are correct. The band is out of California. Modesto and Riverbank to be exact. Modesto has over 200k people, and Riverbank is just under 25k. The metal scene has improved a lot over the years, and we are proud to be part of the metal community. The metal scene here has always been tight knit, lots of support from everyone involved. Everyone knows each other, and always has positive things to say. It isn’t out of the norm to play a show and see members of other bands that just wanted to come out and support his fellow musicians.
Brandon: Yeah, the local music scene may not be the biggest in the state, but it has always supported its local artists. Especially now as William Wallace makes their return to the stage.
Aaron: California is just where I happen to live. I was born here. My friends and family are here. Don’t make it to Hollywood that often, and I haven’t felt an earthquake in a long time. But I can get to the beach within a couple of hours. Same with the mountains, so I like it.
What is the real life like for William Wallace metal music in California?!
Jordan: I think we are fortunate to be in California. People get so involved here. A ton of great metal acts have originated and thrived here. It’s very inspiring. Some of them as close as an hour away. We are 6 hours north of L.A. and 2 hours east of San Francisco, and that is great for playing shows to cities with over a million people in them at one time.
Joel: I like California. I think we have some problems politically, but I won’t get into that. I think the only negative is the population of this state is massive. I sometimes wonder if we lived in a smaller state that maybe we would be easily discovered, instead of having to compete with all the great musicians and bands here. But other than that, it’s great here.
Metal bands have names like Zombie, Zombie Killer, Zombie Killer Apocalypse, Zombie Killer Apocalypse Cult. Is one of you named William Wallace? Please tell us about the name of the band and how it came about?
Jordan: That would be cool if one of us was named William Wallace! (laughs) We were hanging out one day and began throwing names around. There was something about William Wallace that stood out. Something we all agreed was different from the typical metal band name and decided this was the name we would go forward with.
Joel: Without turning this into a history lesson, William Wallace was a Scottish rebel that fought in the first war of Scottish Independence, against King Edward I. William Wallace made a name for himself, but you would most commonly know him from the Mel Gibson movie, Braveheart. For me personally, the band name is more of that attitude, or way of life. I won’t be a slave to what some people feel metal MUST be. I don’t wear black every day, have tattoos, long hair, piercings, or anything that is a stereotype when it comes to metal music. I won’t follow the common layout for what a metal band is “supposed” to be.
When did William Wallace actually begin? How long have you all been playing music? Do you remember what inspired you to pick up an instrument?
Joel: William Wallace started with my brother Jordan and me. We had been writing and playing music for years, but we finally reached out so some friends and were able to form a band. In April of 2009 we officially became William Wallace and started playing shows. I was inspired to play music first by my father. He had always been playing acoustic guitar and singing to me since I was a baby. I always loved the sound of his fingers sliding across those strings. After that it was guitarists like Joe Satriani, Steve Vai, Yngwie Malmsteen, Jason Becker, Marty Friedman and many more. Now that I think about it, my step-brother started playing guitar around 13 or 14. I remember thinking that I could be better than he was. So, I quietly and quickly learned as much stuff on my own until I felt I was better (laughs).
Jordan: I have been playing guitar for around 14 years. I was inspired by my family and favorite bands. I grew up watching my pops and big brother Joel play. I was quickly drawn to it and have been hooked ever since. Joel was my mentor when it came to learning guitar. He showed me a lot of bands during those early years that were pivotal in finding my own playing style. Megadeth, Metallica, Dream Theater, Trivium, and Iron Maiden just to name a few, but the list goes on and on.
Brandon: Playing music was just a way of life for me as a child. I took to vocals when I was 13 after my first local hardcore show. I was amazed by the way the vocalists were able to share their lyrics with their vocal dynamics. As a young writer it seemed like the best way to share my own lyrics.
Josh: When I was 8 my dad bought a drum set to learn how to play as a hobby. I started messing with them and he got lessons for both of us for a month. I didn't like the lessons, but I kept playing on my own. I started practicing more seriously when I got into my first band, Silo, at age 13 for a talent show. I picked up a guitar around this time as well. Then I was in a band named Chaos AD for a couple years with an older friend who got me into metal. I was hooked on playing thrash metal from then on and got into a band with Aaron Wheeler named Descend at age 16. Descend played all over the central valley and the Bay Area for a while, and versions of it jammed for at least 12 years. We played with some awesome bands during that time, including Forbidden, Dragonlord, Skinlab, HMP, Rebel's Mother, Kranial Damage, Better Left Unsaid, Makeshift Grey, The Venting Machine, and Stigmurder. After Descend I joined Decimate the Opposition and even got Aaron to jam in it as well for a short while. After two versions of DTO playing some kick ass shows over a few years, we disbanded on good terms and we all joined other projects later. And that's what got me to William Wallace, dragging Aaron out of "retirement" to play with me again. The kit I play is still made up of parts from my dad's original kit. I have a need to play metal. I always feel better and more positive after every jam session, as I am naturally negative, pessimistic, and misanthropic. I really believe jamming in metal bands and writing music has kept me healthy, physically and mentally, over the years. Some play music in hopes of making money or getting famous, but I play purely for the music and self-fulfillment. I could give a f*** about what people want to hear, and I always try to play music I enjoy listening to or at the very least, enjoy playing. A funny note; Aaron has played every combination of guitar, bass, and lead vocals in bands we've been in together. Just bass, just guitar, vocals and bass, lead vocals and guitar, just lead vocals, etc.
Aaron: I’ve had a guitar since I was in junior high. I didn’t try to be in a band until freshman year of high school. We learned part of Metallica’s “Unforgiven” and that was the end of it. After that some other friends and I started a band called Proficy (prophecy spelled wrong on purpose because the logo made a symmetrical symbol). We did all of two songs and had a few riffs we jammed on. After that I was in Descend. That was the first serious band I was in. Many songs were created, many shows were played, and all of it was f****** bad ass. Egos and other unfortunate things broke that apart. I played a little with Decimate the Opposition but couldn’t get into it. Now I’m playing with William Wallace and I’m really liking the music again. Musically I range from traditional stuff like Metallica and Megadeth to heavier bands like Amon Amarth and Slayer. A couple songs here and there from newer bands but not much. I’ve always loved music and being a part of a band. Creating with friends is an awesome experience.
Who are the members of the band now in 2018 and who is answering this interview? Is this the same personnel that recorded your album How Gods Are Made?
Brandon: The lineup has The Brothers Soto (Joel & Jordan) on guitars and vocals, Josh Ruloph on drums, Aaron Wheeler on bass and vocals, and me as the front man. I am the most recent addition to the band. I have been the frontman for 3 months. We are all here answering the questions together. No. Josh, Aaron and I did not work on the album. That was all Joel and Jordan’s work. Though I was not part of the creation of How Gods Are Made, I can say I am happy to be part of the live performance of the album and look forward to creating future William Wallace album.
Jordan: When we recorded the album, William Wallace was just Joel and me.
Joel: Yeah, Jordan and I wrote everything and have had it on ice for a while. When it came time to record we did all the guitars, bass, and vocals. We had a close friend, Erick Rodríguez do the drums for us, and he also provided the narration. Another close friend, Bret Morgan, offered up his home recording studio. Along with recording and mixing the album, he stepped in and provided lows and high vocals.
Jordan: Yes, Brett and Erick were instrumental in the making of this album. Without them, it would’ve taken a hell of a lot longer for How Gods Are Made to come out or get made at all. We couldn’t have done this without them, and we are eternally grateful.
William Wallace is new to me, and probably new to most people reading this interview. In your own words, now that you have completed the album, what emotions would you say that your music embodies? People are looking to connect with music in some way. What type of connection do you think that people may find in your music?
Joel: I’m hoping the music comes off as having a wide range of emotions. If you follow along with the story by reading the lyrics, you can better understand what is going on and what our Hero is thinking. He’s really going on this epic journey and things are going his way one minute, then the next he’s in the heat of battle, and it’s up and down for him. We really tried to show that in our music.
Jordan: Exactly. In Chapter IV: Ashes of the Tyrant, our Hero and his men are in a battle with the Tyrant and his forces. Joel had this vision of the fight happening and swords clashing everywhere so brought some broadswords into the studio and recorded the sounds of the blades striking each other. When you listen to that song you hear all these swords clashing and we want that to convey onto the listener the fact that this is the heat of battle, everyone is going all out, and everything is on the line.
Joel: Yeah, that was a fun day. As far as what type of connection people find, I really want everyone to come away from the story having been entertained. I think of the album as an audio book told through music. You have narration, songs bleeding into the next, and I want everyone to come away wishing it never ended. Like a good book you’re reading. If it’s good, you just don’t want it to end. Once it has, you don’t know what to do next. Having the lyrics are going to be a very important part as a listener. If you don’t have them, of course you can enjoy the music and flow of things. But if you want the full effect we are aiming for, you must have the story. Everyone that gets a physical copy will have the lyric booklet. If you get How Gods Are Made digitally, you won’t. We are urging everyone that purchases HGAM digitally to reach out to us. Email us, send us a message on Facebook or Twitter and request a copy of the lyrics. We will send a PDF copy of the lyric booklet to everyone that gets a copy and wants to follow the story.
Jordan: We would like to have the lyrics on some online sites for everyone to get also, so we are working on that.
How long did you work on the album? Is it your debut? I have been impressed with the skills in the instrumentation, the guitar work, the ambition that you show in making an album with a bit of an epic or concept vibe. Have you been cooking up this album for several years?
Joel: Thank you very much. I’m glad you enjoyed it. Yes, this is our debut. We worked on this album for a good number of years. Jordan and I were finally able to get everything recorded and produced the way we wanted. I had the story concept in my head for over a decade now, but never sat down to write it all out. I finally finished it up and we got to recording and had a blast along the way.
Jordan: You can say we’ve been cooking it up for years. The music has been written for a while, and like Joel said before, we just needed the story written out and to get the vocal patterns done. We were only guitarists before, we always had a front man to sing. When we decided we just had to record the album with just the two of us, we stepped up and got the singing done. That was a whole different beast, since we never had the duty of putting lyrics to music. Once we went into the vocal booth it surprisingly came easily. The songs were ripe for vocal parts, and everything fell into place.
There is variety in the vocal styles used. How many people do vocals?
Joel: I would say there is variety for sure. Jordan did fry vocals and cleans. I did clean vocals, but mine are higher where Jordan has more bass in his voice. Brett did lows and highs. So that’s 5 different vocal styles?
Brandon: When we perform live, I handle all the highs, lows and frys. Jordan and Joel both do their clean vocals, and Aaron steps up to do backing vocals as well as lead the charge with highs on a chapter or two.
There is growling and singing, some death metal vibes, some metalcore feels, some progressive elements and plenty of thrashing riffs. Did you use acoustic guitars on the album, too? (like on Chapter V: Solace in Sadness).
Jordan: Yes, we did. We have three chapters that are acoustic only instrumentals and were written solely by Joel. That recording process was tedious, but we’re very pleased with the outcome. I did my share of lead guitar work on those chapters and I am pleasantly surprised with how well they turned out. Overall, we had a lot of fun recording, and I’m looking forward to getting back in the studio for the next album.
Joel: The music in these acoustic chapters go well with the flow of the story. In Chapter II: Calm Before the Storm, our Hero is sailing into a massive sea storm, and it’s still calm weather, and he is calm of mind. But in the next chapter that changes very quickly. Then on Chapter V: Solace in Sadness, he is finally able to grieve over the loss of his wife, son, villagers and men. These are all calm parts of the story where the Hero is given a moment to breathe and reflect. But it never lasts long. Since these are intended to be calm parts of the story, it didn’t make sense to me to have distorted guitars and shredding guitar solos to convey that emotion.
Would you mind giving us insight into your thinking about the composition of your music? How did you envision that the album was going to sound?
Joel: For composition, Jordan and I arranged everything the way we felt flowed the best. Nothing was forced or planned out. We would come up with a riff and work off that. A lot of the parts were just asking to be written since they felt so good together. I really didn’t have any idea how it would sound on the album. I knew how the parts sounded when we played the songs live and knew there was potential for them to sound crisper, and cleaner than at practice or live. I also had no idea about the vocals and how those would sound. I knew I wanted to harmonize some parts and sing some parts, but when Jordan and Brett would record their vocals, I wouldn’t listen. I wanted to be surprised by their first pass through. They blew me away with the stuff they created. Really awesome vocal parts I was not expecting. When I finally was listening to the finished project, it was better than I imagined. I am very happy with the way it turned out, and really hope people enjoy the journey we take them on.
What is the concept story and who wrote it? Is it inspired by a movie or a book?
Joel: I had thought up the story a long time ago, but never put it to paper. Just never had the time. I talked about it with Jordan and he wrote some lyrics for our old demo we recorded. Once we decided to make the album, I finally wrote everything down. The reason the songs are called chapters is because they are literally that. Each song is a chapter from the overall story. I think of it as an audio book with guitar solos (laughs). I believe I was inspired by all sorts of things; movies, comics, mythology. I used to watch older movies with my dad, stuff like Sinbad, Jason and the Argonauts, Clash of the Titans. I was always interested in Gods and mythology, and that comes through in How Gods Are Made.
Jordan: Without giving too much away, the story is about a nameless Hero that is returning home from battle. He and his men just want to get home, get back to regular life. As they approach, they see the smoldering ash of their families, homes and crops. The Hero knows the evil Tyrant from across the sea is the monster who did this. Even though there is a massive sea storm in the way, the Hero and his men set sail straight into it. Along the way they battle sea creatures rising from the depths, the Tyrant, a battle with the Octobeast, and possibly a trip to the underworld? *wink* The title really tells it all. How Gods Are Made. The Gods from mythology aren’t really made. They’re born that way or have always been that way. But how is a God made?
Brandon: Get yourself a copy of the album and find out!
When is the album available and how can people hear it and get it?
Joel: The album officially released on Oct. 26th. You can purchase it digitally from iTunes, Amazon, Google Play Music and other online sites. If you prefer a physical copy, you can email us @ and tell us you want a physical copy. We can get shipping info and use PayPal to carry out that transaction. Of course, we will have copies available at all shows we are booked on. As far as hearing it, we have released a single on YouTube and SoundCloud and are planning on releasing one or two more as the year progresses.
What type of merchandise do you have?
Brandon: Right now, we have the album and shirts. We are in the process of getting more shirts designed and made, so be on the lookout for those. If you want to support the music, buy the album, listen to it and share it with everyone you know that enjoys metal. Word of mouth is just as good as advertising, maybe better. We already are working towards the next album, and the success of How Gods Are Made will propel us to create better recordings on the upcoming one.

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