Power Metal Madness: An Interview with ShadowStrike
I got the chance recently to sit down with ShadowStrike and chat with them before last night’s show at BB Kings opening for Angra and Gothic Knights. The dudes were nervous, but endlessly talented, unleashing poignant power metal that reaches deep into the soul. Chatting with them about their triumphant music was eye opening and gave me a glimpse into the world of a truly exciting young band!
So how are you guys?
Matt (M): Pretty good.
Sean (S): It’s pretty surreal to be here!
How did this even come together?
M: I’m friends with the guitar player from Gothic Knights and I saw they were playing and I messaged him and he gave me some info and we worked out a deal with BB Kings and now we’re here.
It’s unreal right?
M: Especially with Angra since we’ve been listening to them forever.
Talk to me about ShadowStrike because I know nothing about you…
M: We play European style power metal with symphonic elements in there and we listen to a lot of Japanese power metal and we have elements from that too. We also have symphonics, Disney music and some chiptune type stuff. It’s fun.
How does the composition process for something like that work?
S: It’s a hodgepodge. It’s a lot of bits and pieces coming together. I’ll come up with an idea and bring it to Matt and then he’ll hammer out the details.
M: It depends on the songs too. Sometimes one person will just write one whole thing.
S: Rarely is it a get together and write kind of thing.
M: Everyone in the band can write. Sometimes someone in the band will write part of a song and then send it to someone and we’ll work together and figure it out.
So there’s no creative nucleus?
M: Well I did a lot of the earlier stuff and still do stuff. I might do the most but the past few things we’ve been doing have been more collaborative and Ryan just joined us on keys and that’s been helpful. We always had a keyboardist but he was doing more backing stuff, but Ryan plays lead type stuff. We changed some of the solo sections over to him just to change the sound up for us.
How long has it been that you’ve been doing this live?
Jon, Sean and I have been playing together since 2005-2006. This band we started getting serious with since 2010-2011. We had a demo come out in 2012 and just had an EP come out last year. We’ve been doing underground metal festivals here and there and trying to get as many good live shows in as possible.
So this is kind of like a childhood dream come true for you?
S: I mean there is no candy and unicorns but this is awesome. Angra is like right there; it’s like what the fuck!
M: We’re just trying to take everything in and not crap our pants!
How are you planning on doing that?
S: We’re still figuring that out. We’ll tell you when we know.
So you guys are all pretty young…
M: We’re all in our mid twenties… Ryan and Scott are both only 22.
What’s the plan forward?
M: We’re trying to make this into a career. It’s very calculated.
S: We try not to overextend. It’s a pain in the ass to ask friends “Hey come see our show again!” It’s not like we churn stuff out so it’s similar setlists a lot of the time.
M: I try to book shows further apart. This music isn’t really big in America but the fanbase is very hardcore. I try to get on shows where I know those fans will be there. I think they’ll enjoy us because there’s a different style of it from what the average American power metal band is playing. We get compared to Cellador a lot because we have that similar fast paced sound.
You said you wanted to make a career out of this but is that even feasible in 2015?
M: The industry is in a transitional period. It’s not clear what’s going to happen with the industry and everyone knows it, but no one is saying anything about it. Obviously they’re not making money off record sales and labels don’t know what to do about that. I always thought that maybe it will end up more like Japan where bands start releasing singles instead of full albums, and that’s how bands will make their money. I think people will be more likely to buy a two dollar single than a fifteen dollar album. I think that there will be more studio efforts out there and smaller tours. It’s getting tough. A lot of it is just coming out of pocket. There’s the business side and the fun art side and the business allows you to do the art.
Are you guys predominantly writing singles then?
M: We’re actually writing an album right now. We’re going to try to release it independently and shop it to labels. We just want to take it as it goes. Right now independent bands can still release stuff and get money from it. As soon as you get signed to a label people are more likely to torrent the music. I think that independent bands will have an easier time especially because of the camaraderie in power metal. It tends to be a little more popular too.
S: Everybody loves a melody!
I want you to finish this sentence for me, “I’ve never told this story before and probably shouldn’t but…”
M: I like tea!
What do you love so much about music?
S: I personally listen to music for cathartic release. Even though I’m in ShadowStrike I don’t listen to a lot of power metal. I don’t find that it happens that much in power metal that you have moments that build and climax. I love moments like that. Power metal does that well with choruses!
M: I like it just because it’s been with me my whole life. Both my parents are music teachers so I grew up learning instruments at a really young age. To me it’s just fun. There was a time I wanted to go to school for music but that’s kind of like making it into work. It takes out the fun. I enjoy composing music and playing it for people, and if they enjoy it that’s awesome! I don’t listen to a lot of music – I listen to a lot of different kinds but not a lot on a daily basis. I enjoy making it!
Go give ShadowStrike a like on Facebook and tell ’em “HEY”.