Tuesday, December 17, 2019

interview: Iron Kingdom

Classic-style heavy metal band Iron Kingdom finished its two-month tour in Everett, Washington State on December 1, 2019. The new album is called On the Hunt. If you have not heard the band yet, check out this interview and listen to the album by checking the link below. Guitarist/vocalist Chris Osterman answers the questions.
In 2019 Iron Kingdom returned with a new album since 2015’s Ride for Glory. The band is based in the smaller town of Surrey, British Columbia, Canada, right? So where did y’all go to record the new album?
The band was originally based out of Surrey, but now we’re all spread out across Vancouver and other nearby municipalities. We still rehearse in Surrey and we actually turned our jam space into a recording studio for the new album On the Hunt. It was all written and recorded at the studio/jam space.
Have you always done the recording yourselves?
On previous albums we hired a trusted friend and engineer, Andy Boldt to handle engineering and even some co-producing of the albums, however, for this new album, we decided we wanted to try something different and do it ourselves. Even though it added a lot more stress and work, it also allowed us to do whatever we felt necessary to make the best album we could with the music we had written. I personally engineered the album, and Megan (guitars) helped to co-produce it with me. We called Andy to come by a couple times to make sure we were on the right track, he gave a few pointers and went on his way, it was great having him still be a part of it, even if it was much smaller this time.
People say that Iron Kingdom sounds like the New Wave of British Heavy Metal from 1979-1981. Is that weird?! Did you know those obscure bands that recorded only demos? If you were stuck on an island, and you had to choose ten albums, would you not choose the pioneers like Scorpions, as opposed to Jaguar or White Spirit?
I don’t think it’s weird, there’s been a resurgence of popularity amongst the NWOBHM acts over the last decade or so, and you have to keep in mind acts like Iron Maiden or Saxon, for example, are part of the NWOBHM and they are quite well known. We grew up with more of the obvious choices for metal as you say, Rush, Scorpions, Judas Priest, Deep Purple, etc... however, we all knew some obscure bands when we were young, you need to remember this is what we worshipped as kids and still do to this day. There are of course some bands we only heard of recently, but the internet is a great place to learn about bands and we certainly looked for them. You have to realize, loving the classics, we wanted to make music like they did, when people say that we sound similar it is an absolute honour, we could hardly ask for a greater compliment!
Only Leighton (bass) and Chris (guitars; lead vocals) remain from the early days. You have Megan the new guitarist, and drummer Chris Sonea joined in 2018, correct? What was their involvement on the album?
Megan recorded her own lead and rhythm guitar tracks, now although she did not sing the harmonies on the album, she was very involved in helping me find the correct notes in the studio. She helped co-produce the album and even though she has a great voice, we felt it would sound more complimentary to use my voice to harmonize with my vocals. It’s a stylistic choice for the album, but it’s not meant to take away anything from her, it’s absolutely wicked having Megan sing with me live, as we have so many more options and the songs sound very full. The album was mostly written and after we found Chris and Megan, and we recorded it with them. We wanted them to be a part of the new release and to have something of their own, otherwise, it just feels like you’re in a cover band, and that’s not nearly as fun as playing your own tunes.
Did you use Chris’ actual drum work on the album?
Those are real drums, my man, yes, there are some effects here and there, you need to enhance things with EQs and compression and what not, but yes those are his drums, we recorded him and edited together the best takes and here we are! He was absolutely fantastic to work with in the studio.
Your previous album is from 2015. What types of practical problems prevented you from making an album more quickly?
The time between 2015 and 2019 was a bit odd for the band. 2015 and 2016 were filled with touring, Amanda (our original drummer) had left the band and we found a drummer who we thought would be recording the next album, but when the tours finished he decided this wasn’t for him any longer and so he quit the band, Kenny followed. At the beginning of 2017 all that remained was Leighton and me. There was a level of uncertainty, we were definitely scared it might be the end for Iron Kingdom, but we thought it best to be productive in the ways that we still could. So we put up ads for new musicians and we worked away on things we never had time for, we rebuilt our website and we started researching microphones and recording techniques to build the studio that we ended up using for On the Hunt and finally in 2018 we found Chris Sonea and Megan Merrick and things kicked into high gear once again, we wrote and recorded the new album, and hit the road immediately after its release. I think the new album proves we’re not done yet!
The new song “Road Warriors” (and video) is all about touring and the road. Has this tour been worth the troubles of going on the road to rock with the fans?
We often profit from our tours, and this current tour was no exception to that. It’s a lot of work, it’s a lot of time, but it’s our only way to pay off studio time, merchandise costs, and all the other things that go into the making and releasing of music to the world. On top of it all, we get to perform for the people who listen to our music and we get to show them what we do in a live setting, it’s a hugely humbling experience and I wouldn’t trade it for the world!
Didn’t you have some serious transportation problems on this tour? Have you had anything as scary as the 2015 accident when the van rolled over three times?
Yea, I mean traveling that much, something was bound to happen, basically, it comes down to that the bus starter was busted. The problem is there were too many possible other factors that it was never clear what the problem was, and because we were in the middle of New Mexico with no real automotive stores nearby we were essentially at the mercy of a small mechanics shop. They rebuilt the starter, but it only lasted a day or so before we had to take it out again and fix it, and then eventually replace the entire starter at a later date. It happens, it really sucks, but it happens.
In regards to your second question, no we haven’t had anything that horrible happen again, the aftermath of that accident was that we had to purchase a new touring vehicle and we had to replace a few pieces of equipment, thankfully no one was hospitalized, the worst physical damage that happened was Amanda (our previous drummer) had some soft tissue damage and she needed to go through physiotherapy a few times to help strengthen those areas. Thankfully between the Kickstarter campaign we made to raise funds and whatever help we got from the insurance company we were able to cover most of our expenses. We performed the rest of the Canadian dates on that tour missing only Calgary which was supposed to be on the night that we crashed, we had no options as they wouldn’t pull our gear out of the trailer until the next day, and currently had no vehicle.
Are fans understanding what you all go through, all the problems, just so that you can rock with the people in places far away from your beloved Surrey, Canada?
Many of our fans are aware, and many offer a place to stay with showers, or food, they buy merchandise and come out to shows. It means a lot to us, and it certainly helps, all we can say is keep spreading the word, keep sharing our music, it gets easier the more people that attend the concerts and support the music, but we still have a long way to go before things are sustainable, so we still need all the support we can get. We’re very blessed to have such kind and generous fans and we hope we’re giving them music that means something special to them, in the end, we just want people to enjoy our art and to make our mark on music.
Chris and Megan are a couple. How did you guys meet and are you still a couple?? Have you had loud arguments on the road about where to stop to eat and the like?
We met at a metal festival in Vancouver named Hyperspace, Iron Kingdom was headlining one of the nights and Megan was in attendance, she came by to say hi, and I invited her out for some beers the next day, I liked her personality and we had a lot in common so we ended up hanging out quite a bit after that! Yes, we’re still together, we do get frustrated sometimes, but what couples don’t from time to time? Yes, being in a band adds extra stress, but we both wanted to be in a band anyways and now we get to pursue it together, I think we work quite well together, she’s great at putting me in my place, so hopefully, I’ll learn something from it too, haha!
Iron Kingdom in 2011 was on Canada’s Got Talent. But didn’t the band form in 2011?! How did you make it on the show and how was the experience?
Yea, we just re-formed the band in 2011 into Iron Kingdom, we had been playing for years previous to that, but had wanted a fresh start. Canada’s Got Talent was pretty simple actually, we applied, they liked our act and put us on the show, we performed the song “Legions of Metal” on a stage to 2500 people, and it was aired on TV to another million across the country. We were given all yes from the judges, they loved the show, and claimed we could be a voice to help bring back 80s metal. It ended there, they didn’t want to pay to send us to Toronto and so we never did a second performance, it was fun to do at the time, mostly we just wanted some exposure, and we got that. I guess it was a little nerve-racking, but mostly just fun to be honest.
Chris’ grandmother died some years ago and the album Gates of Eternity has some songs about that. Did her death grandmother give you some new perspective on life and death, God and heaven?
Well, I certainly think there’ something to an afterlife, I wouldn’t go as far as saying I’m religious, and most definitely not practicing any religion, however, I do believe in some form of the spirit world. “Gates of Eternity” asks a lot of questions, it gets people thinking, and on top of it writing a few songs from my personal experiences of what happened to my grandma (along with my sister Amanda’s experiences) was a positive outlet for me and Amanda, so ya those songs really came from the heart.
Are some of you agnostics, atheists, etc.? Do you all feel comfortable to talk about such things?
Yea, we’ve discussed it a few times, I think most of us are pretty similar in that we don’t believe in religion so to speak but we would consider some idea of an afterlife or spirit world. Nothing uncomfortable to discuss the topic as long as people are being open about it, everyone’s allowed their own personal opinion as no one truly knows the answer.
Iron Kingdom is classic-style heavy metal with high singing, big riffs and solos. Iron Kingdom does not have the backing of a corporation funding your tours and albums. Why is it important to support the DIY traditional heavy metal of Iron Kingdom in 2019?
Well, it’s important to support the music you enjoy, if you like what we do then please buy the albums, get a shirt, tell your friends, spread the word and share the tunes, without a label we have to do exponentially more work than other bands that are signed, but we also gain the rewards whenever they do come. We do this for us, and unless a label is willing to see the value that we see in it we will remain DIY as it’s worked so far. A label that works with us as a partner is the kind we want, not a corporation that sees us as a way to profit. We want to make a difference with our music, we want it to mean something and each person’s life it touches means the world to us. We also need to make something to cover our expenses, and maybe one day be able to live on the music, but until that time or until a label decides we’re worth the extra negotiation we will continue as we always have.
Please give the information to support your band.
Absolutely, you can find us at:
iron-kingdom.com facebook.com/ironkingdom iron-kingdom.bandcamp.com and many other sites including Instagram, twitter, itunes, amazon, spotify, and the list goes on and on. Go find us, say hi, and play it loud!! We’re just going to keep on keeping it steel!
Thank you for responding to this interview!
Thanks for helping us spread the word of Iron Kingdom! Rock on, man!
Chris Osterman
Iron Kingdom - Road Warriors (OFFICIAL MUSIC VIDEO)

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