Combine the dark, ambient sounds of thrash and death metal with an unapologetic, in-your-face-attitude and you’ll get the fundamental dynamics of heavy metal band, Methedras. From worldwide competitions to international tours with renowned metal heavyweights like Dismember and The Haunted, this Italian band has dominated the European metal scene since their debut in 1996. Now with the release of their 4th album, System Subversion, and their signing to American label, Pavement Music, Methedras is ready to share their unique blend of thrash and death metal on wider scale. In an exclusive interview, Music Existence spoke with Methedras’s frontman, Andrea Bochi, to discuss the band’s origins, the evolution of their sound, their recent release, and breaking into the American market.
ME: Let’s take it back to 1996, the start of Methedras. What is the story behind the band’s origins? How did you all meet? When did you all decided to become a band?
Andrea: Well, thinking back to 1996 it’s a long run and actually the band has drastically changed. I’m the only original member. At the very beginning, we were all classmates or just neighbors who shared the same passion: heavy metal music. One day, my best friend, Massi, Methedras’s first guitar player ’96 – ’06, came up to me asking if I wanted to start a band project mixing bay-area thrash metal with modern North European death metal. I replied, “Wow, yeah. why not?” but I offered my presence only for the vocals. He said he already had a drummer and another guitar player on board, so they were missing a bass player and a singer to complete the lineup. I remember asking what a bass guitar was, and he replied, “It’s a guitar with less strings.” In the end, I decided to take up both bass guitar and vocals, and for more than a year, Methedras’s first lineup had me singing and playing bass, Massi playing rhythm guitar, Paolo as second guitar player and Mauro behind the drums.
ME: What is the story behind the band’s name and how does it reflect the band as a whole?
Andrea: The band’s name means “fiery, force and loneliness.” It was taken from “The Lord of the Rings” series by J. J. R. Tolkien years before it became a movie trilogy. It’s the name of the last peak of a mountain chain in the northern territory. We liked it because of its meaning and the sharp sound of its pronunciation.
ME: Methedras describes itself as a “Thrash-Death Killing Machine” with “a classical Bay Area thrash metal attitude” and a “typical death metal style.” How does each member’s own unique style and personality contribute to the hardcore flare that is Methedras?
Andrea: Exactly as you said: just contributing to the whole sound as a sum of different personalities each with its own proper vision of the Methedras music and style. Most of the time, a new songwriting session starts with a new guitar riff then the drummer brings his input until the sound develops into the prototype of the track. This process can last for days or months until the band members are satisfied with the sound and then we refine it with bass lines and vocals, so I think I’ve explained more or less the creation process of new stuff within the Methedras universe. Of course, things could always change by the time the song is recorded and chosen to become part of a new album.
ME: Speaking of style, Methedras’ image is like a mixture of shock-rock and slasher horror film. What inspires the band’s the image?
Andrea: Well for years we’ve been thinking about a shocking music video to impress the masses. We know nowadays a music video can really help to spread your music; it directly delivers to people the concepts behind a song itself. We always have had a distorted, horrified, devilish image as you can see from our album covers or by reading some lyrics. We’ve never done a modern music video, so with System Subversion we decided it was the right time to have a great impressive production behind the first single’s video. The lead single is the album’s opener, “Subversion.” It’s full of groovy parts, fast riffs, hammer-drumming and bass distortion. We wanted something very scary, with all the band members as actors in a short psycho-horror movie related to concepts of madness, impotence, aggression and detention. The clip was filmed in a real abandoned sanitarium near Milan, which gives the final touch to the decadent and abandoned shape to the movie. The job was done by a filmmaker, one of the best in Italy, Salvatore Perrone. His suggestions were on pretty much the whole story board and along with the makeup, dressing, lights and other accessories artists and providers who followed the band for the whole two-days filming directly on the location all made a difference for sure.
ME: Your style of metal is so enjoyable because of your unique mixture of death metal and thrash metal. You’ve incorporated the riffs and clear-cut vocals of thrash while maintaining the rhythm and low growls of death. It’s a pretty interesting mashup, so how did this love child of sub-genres come to be? Was this a sound Methedras has always strived for, or did it come to be as the band matured throughout the years?
Andrea: Methedras has always strived for this kind of mashup of thrash and death metal. From the beginning, we’ve always tried to combine our main interests into this sort of derived crossover. The problem was for the first years, we weren’t able to effectively offer a well-done and balanced mix of these sub-genres. It took us almost a decade to set up our own style, so even though the band was formed back in 1996, our first album, Recursive, was released in 2004.
ME: In 2004, Methedras rose to fame when they won 2nd place in the Wacken Open Air international competition. While your seasoned fans might know this, can you explain to potential new fans what the Wacken Open Air competition is? How were you invited? Have you ever played crowds of that level before? How did things change for the band after the competition?
Andrea: Metal Battle competition is an international worldwide contest held by the Wacken Open Air brand and organizers. I think it’s a great possibility for unreleased bands to get exposure because W.O.A is the biggest and most renowned metal open-air competition in the entire world. It acts as an important vehicle of spreading a group’s image at the topmost levels. Each participating country has to run a national leg of the contest made of pre-selection online and live heats with media and music biz judges in order to elect a national winning band. That band will then fight for the international prize against all the other winning bands coming from the various countries. So long story to short, in 2004, we won that contest in Italy right after the self-release of our first album. We were sent to Wacken in North Germany to compete with the other countries, and we received second place. Before that event, we never played in front of so many people. I remember the crowd was huge and I got scared. I felt like shitting my pants and my legs were shaking, so I grabbed a beer, downed it and jumped on stage without watching the audience until after the first song was finished. After the competition, the band gained bigger international exposure, and as a side prize, we were given the opportunity to record another album, so in 2006 we released our second album, The Worst Within.
ME: Methedras has toured throughout Europe with a number of bands. During your eighteen-year career, what has been one of the band’s most memorable moments? When did Methedras feel as if they’d made it?
Andrea: The first memorable moment was our participation in the 2004 Metal Battle contest and relative show at W.O.A. Other great times were our first tours throughout Europe, supporting bands like Dismember (R.I.P.) and Destruction. We felt like we made it, you know, being with your preferred bands, touring together for weeks, sharing the same stage each night. It’s something you dream about as you became a pro-musician, delivering your energy to the crowd in front of you and living for the feedback received. It’s not easy to describe if you’re not a musician used to stepping on stage and performing in front of an audience. Every time you have to come back home and face reality, the fact the tour is over and you need to get a normal, keeping those memorable memories within you forever and being aware you’ve grown as musician and that your band name has been spread around, feels nice.
ME: Recently your long-time guitarist, Eros Mozzi, left the band for personal reasons. Long-time fans of the band must be feeling the loss pretty hard. What should fans expect with this change of line up? What will this mean for the sound of Methedras?
Andrea: Recently both long-time guitar player Eros and original vocalist, Caudio, left the band due to the impossibilities of continuing to follow the band on tour. Both of them have become fathers; they have to maintain their ordinary jobs in order to support their families. Considering metal music does not give a proper payroll, they decided, not without great difficulties and sufferings, to let the band go ahead without them. I think this is true love toward something you contributed to and sustained since the beginning, and I respect them for their choice. Fan-related, I don’t think these changes will affect Methedras’s music and style, as we have already found extraordinary musicians who replaced Eros and Caudio. The new guitar player has been with us for a year as session man and he demonstrated his professional touch during our last European tour supporting Hirax and Bonded By Blood. We decided to offer him a place in the band about when Eros told us about his decision and he accepted. Regarding the new singer, I feel it’s a bigger change to overcome as vocals are personal and it’s not possible to copy someone else’s style. I was very afraid about this lineup change. I felt it would be a long process to find the right new singer. Then one night I remembered an incredibly cute and aggressive young girl I met on the stage of a venue in Rome, with her strong, screamy-growly style and totally controlled vocals, nice stage presence, very gorgeous shape with her blonde-green hair and beautiful smile. I started to think, ‘Hey, come on. Why not?? If we have to change vocals then let’s do it drastically and in a completely different way.’ I know this could be a harsh solution and a risk for the band image and old-time fans, considering our eighteen-year career, but I’m more positive and confident rather than unsure or pessimist about this new step into the band future.
ME: Your 4th album, System Subversion, promises that same hardcore shock fans have grown to love. What inspired the lyrics and sound of this recent release? How is this record different from your pervious releases? Do you usually try to incorporate different themes into your records and if so, what is the overall theme of System Subversion?
Andrea: Seth Anton Siro, a great visionary artist who created other awesome and disturbed covers for such bands like Exodus, Moonspell, Rotting Christ and Septic Flesh, created the artwork for the new album. I personally love his evil-inspired and morbid visions! The lyrics have always been written by our ex-singer Claudio, who put his personal—and often distorted—perceptions of the real world around us, focusing on the worst aspects of it like corruption, betrayal, anger, addictions, humiliation, commonly spiritual poverty of human beings. For the sound, we wanted something sensibly different from our previous releases, I mean in terms of sharper guitars, groovier and distorted bass presence, cleaner vocals and kind of an electronic background barely audible to emphasis to the whole sound of the album. The purpose was to gain an upper level within the thrash-death scene that’s heading in a more modern sound. The overall theme of System Subversion is a simply the concept of RESET. It’s intended to be the stop and reload of the entire worldwide economic, politic and social system, and society itself so we can stop living like slaves obliged to produce without regard to our quality and the planet’s resources.
ME: Recent reviews are unanimous that Methedras is what death and thrash metal has been missing. What do you think sets you apart from other bands and how do you maintain your originality eighteen years into the game?
Andrea: This is what we’re really proud of. For our entire existence as a band, we’ve always tried to reach and set new standards in the music scene we love, so hearing these kind words means a lot to us. We’re not different from many other bands. Fans have just believed in us since the very beginning, and despite those who would have preferably seen Methedras out of the game forever, we always continued straight forward on our way and tried to become better each year. We never wanted to lose our flare for energy and control, so we added different spices and ingredients each able in order to not get stuck in our own self-limits and barriers.
ME: What are Methedras’ members like when they aren’t on stage? What do you typically like to do during your down time?
Andrea: We’re normal people with traditional lives made of families, jobs, hobbies and friends. Martina, the new female singer, and I are in the music business also working as promoters, bookers, producers, tour managers and venue co-owners. The other members, like our drummer, Daniele G, and our new guitar player, Daniele C, have many other side projects and official bands who they play with. But most of us are close friends even off stage. I believe a band must be like a family, with a close and lasting relationship, which can help a lot to establish that mandatory and incomparable synergy that makes the difference when we are on stage in front of a crowd. You have to be really united in order to be trusted, not just appear to be compact and strong
ME: Methedras has been together nearly two decades, building a huge following in Europe along the way. Now that you’ve signed with Pavement Music and have broken into the American market, do you feel as if this is a new beginning for the band? How do you plan to give your newer fans something fresh while still maintaining that raw edge that more seasoned fans have grown accustomed to? What is next for the band and what do you hope to achieve with Pavement Music?
Andrea: With Pavement, we hope to break into the American market, and we hope this gives the band new possibilities to develop! We believe, despite the economic crisis, the US market is still the most important and open market in the world, so getting some exposure and attention within this area would definitely mean a lot to us. I’d like to arrange a tour in the USA one day, it would be a dream to come true, but at the moment we will continue step-by-step, setting smaller goals we can surely achieve. We will finish this tour with Evil Invaders, prepare for our upcoming European tour with Overkill and Sanctuary in March, and continue to promote our latest album. After that, who knows. First, we need to understand and decrypt any feedback about the new album and lineup change. After that, we’ll be able to set our next steps and maybe start composing new songs for a future release!
Methedras 2015 Killfest Tour
- 03/04 – Braunschweig, Germany @ Meiers Music Hall
- 03/05 – Leipzig, Germany @ Hell Raiser
- 03/06 – Memmingen, Germany @ Kaminwerk
- 03/07 – Worgl, Austria @ Komma VZ
- 03/08 – Vienna, Austria @ Szene
- 03/09 – Belgrade, Serbia @ Dom Omladine
- 03/10 – Ljubljana, Slovenia @Kini Siska
- 03/11 – Zagreb, Croatia @ Tvornica
- 03/13 – Budapest, Hungary @ Club 202
- 03/14 – Katowice, Poland @ Mega Club
- 03/15 – Gdansk, Poland @ B90
- 03/17 – Zwolle, Netherlands @ Hedon
- 03/18 – Metz, France @ Les Trinitaires
- 06/05 – Brazana, Italy @ The Rocker
- 07/18 – Pohori, Czech Republic @ Aggressive Metal Fest
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