Always, Forever

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So far this year one of my very favorite albums has been the debut album from Ligeia, Your Ghost as a Gift. And while most roll their eyes at the very mention of metalcore, the Ken Susi produced effort does everything right. So when given a chance to see the Massachuset’s youngsters on their current tour with From A Second Story Window, Dead to Fall and Ed Gein, I made the trip to the Creepy Crawl in downtown St. Louis to brave my first ‘metalcore’ show and interview with the bright eyed and youthful group of kids in their tour bus…

First thing I want to know, what does Ligeia mean? What is it from? Keith Holuk (vocalist):it’s a story, from the author Edgar Allen Poe, a short story. It’s kind of like a dramatic tragedy, overly romanticized language and vocabulary. Basically, the girl’s name is Ligeia, and the narrator is like obsessed with her and she has a dying public disease and he morns her death for the rest of the story.  
An Edgar Allen Poe story? I’ve not heard of that.
Keith: Yeah, it’s not one of his more famous read stories. Yeah, we just basically stuck with it. Overly romanticized, dramatic’
What made you pick that over something that say, doesn’t involve hope, angels…or dies?
Keith: On a logical sense, we had a big show coming up with Shadows Fall about two years ago. We didn’t have a band name yet, and um, basically and it was just one of those names like ‘How about Ligeia?’ and everyone was like yeah, you know, that’s alright.
Anyone else have the name as far as you guys know? I know there’s an Eyes of Ligeia.
Keith: Yeah ‘ there is a metal band from Norway or something.
Ryan Ober (guitar): Actually, one of the bands that we’re on tour with, that plays under us’their name used to be Ligeia. (laughs)
I couldn’t get a real sense from the lyrics but I got the impression you guys might be Christian band, am I right or wrong?
Keith: I’m the only one that is like, kind of a practicing Christian’
That makes sense’and you write the lyrics so that’s probably why I thought that.
Keith: We are by no means a Christian band or a God hating band.People hear Jesus in the lyrics of one song and assume it’s about religion.
Sure, that’s the assumption I made.
Keith: Honestly, a lot of the lyrics aren’t really necessarily very appropriate even in like a religious band. I just’in the song ‘Household Stereotypes’, I do say ‘Jesus’, but it’s an analogy and it’s just to create imagery. It’s not necessarily’
Because I thought about mentioning it in my review and it was like, no’I’m not sure I want to. And that’s good, because when I review a Christian metal band, the fans jump all over it, automatically.
Keith: Really?

 Yeah, like Christians shouldn’t play metal, blah, blah, blah. I really don’t care ‘ I love the Showdown and I love some of the other Christian metal core bands, so I don’t have a big deal with it. So, what are the lyrics about mainly?
Keith: Um, I mean just’you know, a lot of the record was a lot of venting’it’s just about hard times, you know’real life experiences, relationships, and um’you know basically when we did the record, and we wrote the record, we had no idea it was ever gonna, you know ‘ get picked up by Ferret [Music], or anything like that, so I just basically said things I wanted to say, you know, and it was a chance for me to just speak my mind, and you know ‘ and be as honest as I could be’ it was a place for me, you know, to do that. And luckily, you know, got picked up by Ferret
  
Yeah ‘ you did. That’s a good label for you guys
Keith: Yeah, we’re so stoked. Yeah, it’s reality. Life to me is just all about how you deal with problems. Cause no matter what, no matter every day you always get faced with problem. It’s just how you deal with it, you know? Life is never perfect. The record, Your Ghost is a Gift, is one way I kind of dealt with my own problems. It’s just a positive, overall’
Explain the title, and the cover and the symbolism behind the person handing the person the gift or whatever’what that means. Whose idea was the cover?
Keith: None of us. That was the label that did that. We OK’d it, kind of. They brought something up and we were like, yeah ‘ like, that’ll work.
Chris, You are the guitarist’now I recognize you from the ‘Beyond a Doubt’ video. I see a lot of Ken Susi in your guitar work and stage presence.. Is that safe to say being as he produced the record?
Chris Keane (guitarist): I don’t think I’m anywhere near as good as he is, but I mean’.Well, I don’t know. I actually bought a pair of pants that weren’t girl pants. Maybe that’s it?
I told my friend that I’m with, I said I’m used to a death metal show, and I was trying’she’d never been to a metal show at all…she wanted to come for the experience. I said it’s going to be a little different from the usual shows I go to. I said, there’s going to be a lot of girl pants and tight t-shirts. So, I’ve seen a few of them out in the lot already.
Chris: Not a lot of long hair tonight.
Nope, no. So, I’m interested to see how the Ninja mosh pit goes. (laughter) What do you guys think about that? Are they fucking idiots or are you just like ‘Fuck it? It the kids doing their thing’have at it’?
Keith: To be honest, the honored just that kids want to like us. That they are that excited to you know, to hear you break down your song and they want to move around. If they look like idiots, that’s their own problem. But, I’m happy that they’re into, you know?. I’d rather see that than people like this that are just staring at you with a blank face.
Ryan: The Ninja pit’s a little better than the bro pit.
What’s that?
Ryan: You know, where guys are just like pushing each other. A Disturbed type of mosh pit.. Lot’s of sweaty, big dudes’back and forth. Rubbing each other and hugging each other.
Keith: It’s so cool. You see those kids appreciate what you’re doing and having a good time.
Yeah, it was weird at Sounds of the Underground where you have kind of a clash or bands’you’ve got High on Fire, and Devin Townsend, then you’ve got Throwdown. I mean, you could see a, literally, a clash between these two styles of people going at it’it was kind of crazy.
Keith: Same thing at New England Metalfest.
Oh, I bet. Is this the biggest tour you’ve been on? You guys are a young band’like, what? Just two years old? Is this your biggest tour?
Keith; Yeah ‘ this one and the last tour was with August Burns Red, Ringworm, Demiricous, and oh ‘ we toured with Ion Dissonance.
What kind of bills do you prefer being on? Metal core or hard core bills? Or, do you find yourself always on hard core bills cause of what you play?
Matthew Bennett (bassist): It’s always different. I mean, yeah ‘ I like the both of them, but I like to play the hard core shows where like, kids are still into us even though we’re not straight up hard core. You know what I mean? But, we like playing metal shows as well.
Who would you really like to go on tour with?
Matthew: I’d love to tour with Killswitch, because I think we’d do really well on that tour. We’d sell a lot of records, a lot of merchandise.
Keith: Not just because like [unintelligible] they’re just great people in general. They’re just like awesome.
What do you think of In Flames getting on Ferrett? That’s a pretty big pick up for them
(The entire band agrees loudly and indiscernibly)
Was there any other labels in the mix? Or, did Ferret offer you a deal, you said?
Keith: We almost went with Prosthetic Records.
That’s a good label there. You guys would have been a good fit there, too
Ryan: We almost went with it but, just like ‘ our, personally, with me, I don’t think that our style’doesn’t fit in with their label. We’d be better on Ferret. It’s more like an abstract kind of stuff.
When you look at signing with a label, do you look at the roster and see who you match up with, who they promote, that kind of thing, or is it’they’re giving us the most recording money or the best studio or anything like that?
Ryan: I think’I don’t look at it that way, I think that all the bands on that label are amazing and we just fit well. As opposed to, like I was saying, Prosthetic, it’s just really, really metal, you know what I mean? We need more like a melodic sense and all that stuff, so ‘ I think that it was just a great choice for us, to go with Ferret. It’s just a great label, in general and the people that work there are great and like we just fit in. They are more in tune with their artists, I think. Where Prosthetic has really good distribution and all that, but Ferret is more like hands-on, like personal basis with their artists. That’s the way it seems. Although, we’ve never been fond of Prosthetic.
Obviously, you guys are metal core. What do you guys thing of this genre of pigeon holing where there has to be a certain style, their noise core, their metal core, their grind core, hard core, death core now is being used around fans like Despised Icon and that kind of stuff. What do you guys think of that? And, ultimately, are you bothered by the fact that you had ‘metal core’ tag put on you? Let’s be honest ‘ a lot of people are like ‘metal core’ is being drilled into the ground
Ryan: I don’t think our CD is really a metal core CD. Just cause like, when I think metal core I think Dead to Fall, Unearth, stuff like that’that just has like, the metal parts and then breakdowns and stuff. Our CD has a lot of diversity’there are metal core parts, but like there’s just so much diversity in our album. There’s some grind core parts. There are metal core parts, but like, there’s just so much diversity in our album, you know like, there’s like everything. It’s just a big combination of everything.
When you write for your next album, is that something you’re gonna try and veer away from or keep doing what you’re doing? Cause, I know a lot of bands that I’ve talked to are like, you know what? We don’t want to be metal core anymore so we’re gonna change things up a little bit. We’re gonna add more grind, we’re gonna not have the [something] production, we’re gonna have [something] production.
Ryan: I think instead of metal core parts, there’s gonna be more death metal. If it’s gonna be metal parts, it gonna be more death metal. When you’re writing, do you go’well, I don’t know anything about song writing, I’ll be honest with you. Do you sit and go, OK’here, we need more death metal, we need a clean break here, we need’.It’s just basically’we might write a melodic..
Chris: He’ll write a bunch of stuff and show me and I’ll be like’and visa versa. I’ll show him and he’ll show me. And, I’ll be like, I like that ‘ I don’t like that.
Do you base it around his vocals at all or does he write his vocals based around’cause he has a pretty distinct, clean voice that’s used, you know, a good amount of the album ‘ did you write the songs for that?Ryan: Me and Chris will piece things together and then he’ll kind of give the thumbs up or the thumbs down.
Chris:Yeah, then come up with the riffs and like, we’ll see what works and see what doesn’t.
Do you point to a part in the song and OK, this is going to be a clean part?
Keith: Yeah, you hear a part and you’re just like ‘ you’ve slammed it and it’s an awesome riff and just go with it’just try to write a melody to it or try to write, like a rhythm.
You guys are a young band. I guess in today’s metal core climate, it’s not unusual for a band to get signed so quick. You look at the old ‘90’s death metals, they had to do tape training and demos. You think the internet and technology available to bands like you, to be able to produce something decent has helped get bands like yourselves get labels quicker? Do you think there’s less, I don’t mean to put you guys down, there’s less hard work into getting a label deal now than there was 10 years ago?
Chris: There’s like 8 million bands in the US’.cause every night we’re on tour, there’s two or three local bands that aren’t signed’like every night. You go to every state, or every city, every night’and there’s those bands that are like trying to do it and it’s like, a lot of them, like ‘ not to put those people down, but it’ll never happened to them. They can bust their ass and bust their ass.
You guys have signed, it’s not like you’ve signed to fucking BFE records out of Egypt. I mean, you’re on a pretty predominate record.
Chris: No bullshit. You’ve got it give up a lot, I mean’you’ve got to’I don’t know’you’ve got to work hard. I honestly think that if, like, ‘I think that we do have a great band and we have a great sound and everything and it helped us out with getting signed and I also think that, like, just having people help us with that’.you know what I mean’help us to do what we’re doing now’you know what I mean’like, if it wasn’t for a few people, like we probably wouldn’t be sitting in this van talking to you right now.
Ryan: Important people even noticed that we have a no bullshit approach ‘ that we wanted to go to the top. And we’re not a band who is just like ‘we just want to get signed and just, you know’whatever’. Even though we’re signed, we do so much stuff on our own. Without even, you know what I mean? We don’t sit around and wait for our label to go ‘OK, you’re going to go out on this tour’. We go out and we’re like, alright’we’ve got to be touring and we’ve got to do this and you know.
I played the shit out of the album, particularly “The Blackout”, and Heart Attack ‘ I love those songs. How does Keith sound live? Is he as good as he is on the record? I’ve heard some bands, they get out of the studio and get on stage and their clean vocals sound like hell.
Keith: I do like, a lot, a lot of screaming, so like ‘ it’s hard to do balancing just cause I scream so much, like, with not much of a let up. And I try to be as energetic as I can. If I were to just stand there and sing, like, I could nail it’I’m really confident about that. Trying to have an energetic stage presence and everything’just trying to get kids to mosh and get into it, but you know’ I mean, for not being trained, I’m OK. But being a musician is all about getting better, and you know ‘ practicing’you know…and advancing yourself.
Have you done any writing for the next record or are you just kind of letting this one float in and get some tours ‘ get your name out there a little bit?
Ryan: I don’t know ‘ we’ve got a couple riffs that we’ve’nothing too crazy.
You guys are from the East Coast. That’s a hotbed for this kind of music, wouldn’t you say? I mean, that’s Killswitch, and all that stuff is from over there. Do you think that helps or hinders you guys? People go ‘Aaah! Another New England metal band? or like ‘Cool! Another New England metal band!’
Keith: I think that people go, WOW! This band is from their area. You know what I mean?
Ryan: Yeah, especially if they’re respected.
When you looked for a producer again, did you get Ken Susi because people are going to go ‘cool ‘ Ken Susi’ produced that record?
Ryan: He did our first demo.
Oh ‘ OK. So he was involved with you guys way before you even sighed to Ferret. I mentioned this before, you guys are a young band, right? How old are you guys roughly? You seem dedicated for such an group of youn’uns.Keith’ I’m 23’We are all between 20 and 24. We just came out but we’re not going to stop. We’ve had a no bullshit attitude from the beginning’that’s how we got here this fast and we want to keep going.
Not going to turn into rock stars? Do you think this scene needs more of that? Do you think it’s full of rock stars? Not make a living off this’I don’t know many bands that do.
Keith: We try ‘ we try our hardest. We try our best. Ryan: Yeah ‘ I just want to live comfortably to be honest. I just want to be able to pay my cell phone bill, eat, buy some clothes’I’ll be happy at that point. Not starving
Any parting messages for the readers, to use a fucking cheap cliché?.
Keith: Yeah ‘ buy the CD!
Ryan: The first week it was it 1500 or something like that. Which, to me is like’to the world is nothing, but to me is everything, you know what I mean? 1500 people liked us enough to buy it-that’s cool.
[Ligeia]

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