Because every day another band records another song. Because 83% of those songs are unlistenable and you can’t be bothered to sift through the dreck. Because metal is about not giving a shit and waking your own personal storm. Because music is universal, expression is boundless, and even indie labels (whatever that means these days) don’t know everything, Decibel brings you Throw Me a Frickin’ Label Hack.
This summer, a new Oklahoman sextet smeared their punked-up melodeath into the shape of a six-song, sub-23-minute EP. Lost Empires’ blend of spacious riffing, hardcore sneer, and florid keyboard accents subtly recall Year of Our Lord’s similarly colorful meanderings on the band’s debut recording, Death and Evil Beasts. At this moment, they are out touring the States, so head on over to their Facebook or Bandcamp pages to find out if they’re coming through your area. And while you’re there, get a listen to (honestly, the stronger) half of the EP. But first, find out what Lost Empires are all about by reading guitarist Brad Blanco’s thoughts on the band’s origins, personality, distaste for female circumcision.
Who are Lost Empires, and how did the band come together?
Lost Empires are from Norman, Oklahoma and consist of Brandon Davis on vocals, Ryan Kilby on lead guitar, Brad Blanco on rhythm guitar, Luke Enterline on bass guitar, Abe Hartley on keyboards, and Jeremy Hodson on drums. LE started during the winter of 2010-2011. Our bassist Luke had approached me saying he had found a guitarist and they wanted to start playing some metal. So Luke, Kilby and I got it going, but Luke founded the band. Funny story: I was unloading my gear to jam with them for the first time and I could hear Kilby shredding from outside the house, so I knew it was going to be good!! Then we got Abe and Jeremy on board, and finally Brandon stepped up to complete the band doing vocals.
How did the EP come about? Are these songs that have been around a while, or were they written specifically with a release in mind?
We were talking about what we wanted to do for a release, full length or EP. As most folks know, recording costs a lot of money, so to get the best bang for our buck we decided on an EP. Hopefully that way the EP would get some folks attention and we could hit the road sooner. Basically we wanted to start playing shows as soon as we could so we needed a release to support; [an] EP just made sense as the first release.
What was the recording process like for these tracks?
We started by doing pre-production at our practice space to a click track, then once we got the songs down the way we liked them we took our riffs to Watershed Studios in Enid, Oklahoma. Our good friend Barry Johnston was our engineer while our drummer Jeremy was his assistant throughout the tracking. Once everything was edited, the songs were sent to punk legend Stephen Egerton at Armstrong Studios in Tulsa, Oklahoma to be mixed and mastered. We wrote a few little things in the studio, but the majority of the EP was already written when we went in to track.
Can you give a track-by-track commentary on what you think/feel about these songs, where they come from and how they turned out?
“Black Sails”: Kilby wrote this song, he had it I think before we started jamming as a band. I like this song because it has a kind of deep rich riffing to it. Not super technical or fast, but just solid riffs with some cool guitar harmonies at the end.
“Life Lessons”: Another Kilby banger, I helped him with some riffs that finished the song out. This songs starts out in an epic build up which I personally think is one of the best embodiments of what LE sounds like. When we were finishing this song, it was like we took all the best parts of all the different genres of metal out there and cherry picked what we liked the best and wrote a song. That’s what we’re trying to do with LE, reinvent the wheel. Take all the classic, quality and passionate traits from metal that we love and turn that into our own blend of metal.
“Machete”: Jeremy, our drummer, wrote this song. He has such an original style to the way he writes music, drums or guitar and it really shows on this track. This song is also very fun to play live. Machete has our strongest lyrical theme to it also, the lyrics point to the massive suffering caused around the world by forced female circumcision. If you don’t know anything about this you should read up on it because it is especially heinous and demands global attention.
“Power Goat”: I wrote this song and it is really fun to play live! We needed a “power” song, something that came off super full and saturated live and with thrashy verses, it just rips to play. It is essentially a punk song dipped in drop C tuning.
“Tower or Flies”: This was the first LE song to come to fruition. Once we started jamming, I was messing around with these riffs and we kept working it until we had this speed demon of a song with this full swanky middle part and a ripping guitar solo near the end. Definitely my favorite song to play live, hands down.
“Unkindness of Ravens”: This one was a collaboration between Jeremy and I. This is one of those songs like “Life Lessons,” where we tried to take all the good stuff that we liked from metal and turn that into a new song. It starts out with this pretty piano part, then blasts into a sort of melodic death riff, then it just turns into a LE song. I remember this song being especially difficult to record for some reason.
That artwork is freaking cool. This is not a question. Just a fact. Respond if you want.
Yes it is, thank you. Our dear and talented friend John “Pino” Hart did this for us. I’ve always been amazed with John’s work and he is insanely talented. You can check out some of his work at http://pinoretread77.deviantart.com/
What music/art/etc. is having an impact on Lost Empires right now?
Right now a bunch of the dudes are in Austin at Fun Fun Fun Fest and I know they will be catching Kvelertak’s set. This band is from Norway and kicks so much ass. We’ve been listening to a lot of that (Kverlertak) and the new Propagandhi and The Sword just came out so those are high in the rotation also. We really have quite an eclectic taste in music as far as our individual tastes are concerned. I like a lot of old country, some of the guys hate it. In my opinion a good song is a good song, and that transcends genres.
What is non-musical life like for LE members?
Non musical life for LE consists of doing a bunch of crap we hate. (Just kidding, work!) I make maps for an oil and gas land broker and wait tables on the weekend; Kilby works at a call center; Luke is a pharmacist tech; Jeremy does land surveying; Abe is a bartender; and Brandon does something creepy at a hospital. We serve our time, pay our bills and get together twice a week to write. We go out and drink, hang with our friends and family, check out bands at shows and Thunder the fuck up for Thunder basketball!!!
What are you looking forward to with the band?
I really would like to travel and meet as many people as possible. I love the dudes I write with and I’m looking forward to hitting the road and spreading the good word. Essentially, traveling and playing as many shows as possible is what we want to do. Buy us a beer when you see us and let’s talk basketball!