AOM: Greetings Wings Denied! Thanks for forking the time to do this interview with Axis of Metal. To begin, can you guys shed some light on the band’s foundation? What was the initial spark that led to the call to duty?
Alec: I lived with one of the few metalheads on campus named Lee. Lee had met Paul who had said they “Aeviternity” at the time needed a drummer. So, Lee told me about them and eventually I tried out. I don’t really know what they saw in me because I’m a pretty bad drummer, but they added me to the lineup. After a little while we picked up Luka through me. Then after our summer tour Paul decided that he didn’t want to do this seriously so he left the band and we found Beau who is now playing guitars for us!
Luka: I met Alec about 2 years ago; we were on a same bus going to see a Darkest Hour/Human Abstract show. He randomly approached me as there aren’t many metalheads in our university and he assumed I was going to the concert because back in the day I had a big Mohawk. I decided I liked the weird kid who seemed like he was on speed/cocaine most of the time. I ran into him again at a hardcore concert at our university, we started talking about music and we established he was a drummer and I was a singer. Forward a year later, we are living in rooms across from each other and he comes up to me and tells me he has a band with few new kids and I should try as a singer. Once I heard Zach’s and Paul’s songwriting, I was on board. Although this kind of music isn’t my cup of tea and I thought Zach was an absolute fucking weirdo when I met him, I grew to love him and I think he’s a brilliant musician and therefore I decided to join the band.
Zach: I like playing music. Especially live. I started playing guitar around 6.5 years ago, and I’ve always been in bands or writing music. The first song I ever actually learned all the way through by another artist was Unholy Confessions by Avenged Sevenfold and that was after I’d been playing for 3 years. So, when I moved to Washington DC for college, I wanted to start a band right away. Paul, our original rhythm guitarist was my roommate, and the two of us started making music almost immediately, which became Wings Denied.
Beau: Thanks for interviewing us! As far as the start of the band goes, I’m pretty sure it was basically just Zach met Paul and formed a band. Beyond that I’m not quite sure; I was in high school in Atlanta when it happened.
Luka: Dude, so much crazy shit. I don’t even know where to start. Losing our keys in North Carolina and being stuck in Boone for hours. I seriously thought we are going to end up being there for a whole week because we lost the car keys and we couldn’t make it home and all of us had classes to attend the next day. I was freaking the fuck out and my friend who owns the car needed it too. Then it turned out Zach is a boss and he broke in to the car using some weird ass method of using a shoe lace. Then we search the car inside out for the keys. We don’t find them; we call a locksmith to see what he can do. Meanwhile our touring bassist departs only to call us later that he found his keys in his bag AFTER we told him to check if they are in his bag. Needless to say, I wanted to murder him.
I’ll never forget the HOURS of driving and the INDUSTRIAL amounts of farts I had to inhale. The day before out summer tour started, me, Alec and Paul decided to stop at Kings Dominion and since I’ve never been on a roller coaster before I was excited as fuck. At first I was screaming like a little girl and by the end of the day, Paul and Alec had to drag me out of there because I kept wanting more and they were on a verge of passing out hahaha.
Also, the faces of the people in some random ass bumblefuck Virginia town- size 100 inhabitants- when we decided to stop and eat there. We all smell like shit, Zach has tattoos, Beau and me pierced faces and poor teenage waitress at the Mexican Restaurant had no idea what the hell just happened to her. We kept messing around with her and Zach didn’t have his contacts at the time and couldn’t see anything and made her lead him to the bathroom. He’ll tell you the story. Also we started a chip fight and made a huge mess. I was laughing so hard on our way back my abs hurt for two days. Oh also, Alec’s bitching about being uncomfortable is pretty epic as well.
Alec: Zach’s first shotgun story is my favorite. This was our first tour when we stopped over in DC playing with The Isosceles Project and Zach had never shot-gunned a beer. Scott and Brandon demonstrated how to do it and it was Zach’s turn. Luka, who owned the house we were in asked us two things don’t make too much noise outside, and don’t puke off the balcony. Zach takes his shotgun and I walk away. About three seconds after all you hear is the sound of Zach regurgitating all of the beer that he had drank. I’ve never seen Luka so mad.
Zach: Well, our big tour in June was pretty awesome, especially for me, since the band that we shared the stage with every night, The Isosceles Project, were literally the band that made me decide that I wanted to start playing music when I heard them for the first time. So that in itself was a memorable experience. We had a really fun, yet strange time; playing in a pizza parlour one night, and a satanic bar a few days later. Though I think the best experience for me was on the first night, we played in my hometown of Raleigh, North Carolina, and had over a hundred people at the show, definitely a great way to start off the tour.
The tour was a result of connections that Zach has through his previous band Acrasia as well as connections he has made on the Internet. He handles the majority of the booking that we do. He knew Eric from The Isosceles Project and they took us on a leg of their tour. The other stuff either comes from us getting asked to play a show, or Zach pestering bookers until they put us on a show. Funnily enough, we get more support when touring then from the “local” scene. As a matter of fact, we’ve never played a DC show. But on tour it varies. We had 150 people come out to see us and then we had literally 3. It all depends on the night and sometimes you get lucky and sometimes you don’t. Often we’d play with bands that would happen to have very narrow-minded audiences and they wouldn’t expect a band like us to come on. Other times, like when we opened for Stolen Babies, we’d have like 10 dudes in the audience who adore and support our music. So tour is a rollercoaster and that’s why I love every bit of it! My favorite show by far was the house show in Boone where the basement exploded after I pushed some guy in the audience and moshing took off. Morning after, after some 12 beers (same morning we lost those keys), my body ached in places I didn’t know it could and I was just trashed, had bruises everywhere but memories were made and I made a lot of friends- and fans- that night.
AOM: Awake, being the band’s debut EP consists of 3 hard-hitting songs and was 100% band-funded. What were the reasons leading to this decision? Also, were there any difficulties encountered during the process?
Well we had little time and little to no money. Since Paul (our old guitarist) is into Audio tech and our friend Adam who also had equipment and knowledge to do it, we decided it was the best way possible. Vocals were done by Adam while everything else was done by Paul- in our university dorms! There was bunch of difficulties as the year was ending, I was about to leave the country, everyone was going home so we literally did that in a week and it was super stressful with exams and everything but fuck it, it was worth it! The only major issues is we didn’t have time to perfect the EP as much as we wanted to, being pretty anal about our music sound due to the fact that Zach is worse than Kubrick when it comes to perfectionism regarding takes. However, we are very proud of the final product and I think people like it.
AOM: With the wide spectrum of influences that Wings Denied covers, was it hard to incorporate them into the band’s music? Adding on, was there a mutual appreciation of music amongst the band members?
Luka: I get my freedoms to do pretty much whatever I want. We all have different preferences in the band- Alec listens daily to djentmania while Zach is your typical proggy pretentious bastard. Beau and I meet here and there but my point is that our musical influences very and is very different. I mainly grew up on classic rock and metal, and I love hardcore and punk. I enjoy weird stuff in general, ranging from free style jazz to stuff like Dillinger, Converge and Sun O))). When it comes to vocals I incorporate whatever I’ve picked up on my way to being a vocalist. Everything my vocal coach thought me from classical to jazz singing to shouting that I picked up from Have Heart records. I don’t really try to copy anyone and, may I be pretentious here, I often get told I have a very unique style. Therefore I manage to incorporate many things into the songs I do with Wings Denied. There is a mutual appreciation because we are all musicians and we all respect good music. I think Zach and I understand each other the most because we both listen to weird shit and although we might not always agree that we like something, we always agree is something is worth respecting- musically wise.
Alec: I just like to tell people that we are a bad Periphery cover band.
Zach: Honestly, it’s always rather funny to me that we play the music that we do, because we come from such different backgrounds. I know personally, I’m really into bands like Between the Buried and Me, Unexpect, and Pain of Salvation- definitely metal, but way more focused on progressiveness. But if I put BTBAM on in the car, Alec will fight to turn it off. And if Alec puts on Periphery, Luka will do the same. All four of us have bands like that. I think that because we come from such differences, it makes our music very unique since we’re all appealing to different things. When I first wrote Vultures, for example, I had no idea what Luka would do lyrically, especially from the verses that had so much going on in them. But when it all comes together, we end up with something that we’re all very happy with.
Beau: There’s a mutual love for prog metal amongst the bands. After that, everyone brings their own flavor to their style. Luka brings the whole post-hardcore kind of singing into the band, Alec brings more of a metalcore vibe to the band, Zach listens to a lot of BTBAM which really shines through, and I try to bring in more of an old school hardcore/alt rock kind of thing.
AOM: Carrying on from the previous question, how was the recording process like for Wings Denied? Do you guys prefer to work things out in the studio, together as a band? Or was there a different approach altogether?
Luka: When I write my stuff, I like to be left alone, in the darkness of my room or somewhere else. Some lyrics were written in the early morning in NC, just before we embarked on our tour, I’d wake up around 3am and lock myself into a car and sing away over there. Recording process, as I mentioned took place in our dorms and it was very stressful. We have a lot to learn in that area.
Alec: I generally say that something sounds pretty good….and Zach will say, dude you suck and then we’ll do it again to get it right. In terms of new songs Zach will send me a gp5 file with drums written in, and I will take his ideas and elaborate on them to get a feel that he likes with a groove that I like. I generally like working with everyone, when there are more opinions generally it yields a better result.
Zach: Generally, every song starts out as a shell by me. I’ll write something (both guitar parts, bass, and drums), and tab it all out in Guitar Pro. Then, I’ll give it to the band, and we’ll tear it to shreds, generally cutting out sections, writing ones, making things shorter or longer, or scrapping things altogether. Then, once we’ve got a full instrumental thing that we’re happy with, we give it to Luka, and he does his magic. That being said, our music is always evolving. When we were recording Vultures for example, the entire clean section after my solo was originally written as something completely different. That was literally composed right as we were tracking it.
AOM: Well, I must say I was very impressed with the high caliber of production. Awake was mixed and mastered very professionally. I know that the production duties were all covered by Paul, one of the band’s guitarists. How did this decision come about? And were you guys satisfied with the final results?
Zach: I know that I was. I think when you’re composing or recording anything, you’ll listen back and hear tiny little details that make you go “fuck, I should’ve done that better.” But honestly, for the amount of time, and calibre of equipment that we had, I think Paul did a fantastic job. He’s a very talented producer, and he really made us focus on being perfect. I recorded my parts of the first riff in Clockwork 159 times. No joke. We wanted it to be THAT perfect.
Alec: I know there were some things that I would have rather have done for this recording, especially for Maiden because I’ve since re-written the main intro drum groove for a better flow. However, this is the first time where I actually enjoy listening to the finalized product of a band that I’m in. Therefore, I can say I’m very satisfied.
Well, we can’t give away specifics yet, but here’s our tentative plan. We want to release another EP sometime soon, which we’re anticipating starting recording on in November. We’re hoping it’ll be a split, but there are logistical things that need to be worked out. Before then, we’re just trying to play as many shows as we can locally, to try to build up a following. Depending on when that EP gets out (we’re thinking January?), and how it’s received, I would personally like to do a full-length to release next summer or fall. We’ve actually got about 14 songs written, but we only actually want to release the ones that we’re most in love with, and we think best encompass the sound we want to create. So hopefully by that time, we’ll have the absolute perfect track list. We want an album with absolutely no filler, nothing out of place. We want that album where every single person has a different favourite song, because they’re all so damn good. And if it takes a little while to get there, we’re fine with that. In the meantime though, I can say that the songs we’re planning on putting on the next EP are some of our favourites. They include both our heaviest, and our most technical (seven finger tapping solos, anyone?), and some of Luka’s best lyrical work yet. So keep a watch out!
AOM: Finally, I would like to extend my gratitude once again to Wings Denied for taking the time to do this interview with Axis of Metal, all the best for the band’s future endeavors! Are there any last words for the fans? The space below is all yours!
It is so weird for us to have “fans”. We really are a bunch of nerdy kids at school who love to make music. We looked at our facebook and saw that we had 1,054 likes and it was sort of surreal to us. There are people all over the world that listen to our music and that is an unbelievable thing. If you ever read this please come say hi to us at a show and just talk music with us because we really love it. We’d also like to give a shoutout to the plethora of awesome bands that we’ve had the honour of sharing stages with, and if you’re not familiar with any of the following names, you should check them out: As Oceans, Dying as Goodmen, Dreaming in Color, Escher, The Isosceles Project, Aether Realm, and Hephystus. All our brothers in music. Lastly we’d like to give a shoutout to Joseph Ciantar who is currently our biggest fan!
About the Author
This is what I feel about my favourite genre in metal:
Black Metal is a timeless piece of magic(k)al art that is not limited by boundaries. Be it musical or aesthetics wise, it contains an honest and raw essence that is capable of not only satisfying the most abrasive of listening ears, but also an elevation to a higher state of transcendence. For years, the sphere of what we considered Black Metal has since expanded. It is mainly because of the myriads of influences that have been brought into the genre itself. Moreover, the influx of experimentations has rendered traditional Black Metal characteristics invalid. This is another trait that attracted me, for one, artists could then create their own art which allow the categorisation of Black Metal to be a certain state of emotional and feelings, rather than that of musical qualities. However, it is still mostly a personal experience to undergo. For the most part, it is different for everyone and I definitely respect that. Listening to Black Metal for me is like opening the floodgates to an ever-flowing source of energies where they are being channelled and manifested in the form of music which we are able to comprehend. Through passion and dedication, one will be able to realise the true potential of the magick that is in work. With that set into stone, the occurrence of change as we know it will be bestowed upon the listeners themselves where they will bask in all the glory and rewards. It is like an endless quest on the path towards spirituality.
Axis of Metal is me showing my appreciation to the music that has been keeping me alive. I also have a personal blog -Thelightoftheinvictus.tumblr.com which I write reviews for during my free time. I am always open to views, discussions and criticism. So, shoot me an email if you would like to talk :)