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Interviews: Darkening Skies


On this new occasion, we have had the opportunity to interview the Thrash Metal band, Darkening Skies from the USA. Check out the interview and follow the band on their FACEBOOK PAGE.

1.Where did you get the idea for the band name, you planned it or came out just like that? 

Shaun: It wasn’t clever, or anything. It’s an allusion to the Blood Moon Philosophy from the Book of Revelation, “...and the sun became black as sackcloth, and the moon became as blood." But in the moment I was just driving through a thunderstorm on the way to class, and I looked up in the sky and thought, most days just feel like a gathering storm to me. And, if it’s not a storm you’re standing in, then you must be standing in the eye and waiting for it to hit again. It sounded like a good name to go with. Germ and I met up to talk shop, and decided to roll with it. Good decisions happen over beer and peanuts!

2.Why did you want to play this genre? 

Shaun: The music is fun. The toms, the screams, the riffs, everything...it’s exciting to listen to. It’s better than coffee, first thing in the morning. Metal is the final frontier; there are no rules. You can do anything. There are only 80 billion subgenres of heavy music; you can say you play blackened symphonic death grind, and you will find somebody out there who will go “Really?” and want to hear what you’ve got. Germ actually got me more into thrash and death; before that I was very power metal-ish and into mostly NWOBHM. And in turn I introduced him to more proggy stuff like Nightwish, Mastodon, and Opeth. And I’m constantly trying different approaches. We might not sound like how we sound now, forever, but if I could only play one genre for the rest of my life, I’m probably in the right place. There are so many different things I want to try to create right now, it’s hard to imagine playing anything else for a while.

3. Did you know each other before the band was formed? 

Shaun: Nope. Craigslist ad for a drummer let to a jam session in Feb 2014, which led to the rest! For all intents and purposes, one of us could have just been some homicidal psychopath posting something, but fortunately for us we were (and are) mostly sane.

4. Each band member favourite band? 

Shaun: My favorite band has always been my favorite band at the time, until I got inspired by something new that came along later. I can’t nail it down to just one, but I’m going to have to nail down my unholy trilogy at Iron Maiden, Death, and Alice in Chains. They in no way sound anything alike, but if you cherry-picked bits and pieces, you’d get everything I’d ever want to play, create, or listen to. For Germ, it’s got to be Pantera, the big 4 of thras, anything with Gene Hoglan... Gwar too, he loves Gwar!

5. Who or what inspires you to write songs? 

Shaun: For a long time I was afraid of writing anything of my own. I picked up a guitar for the first time when I was 14, and played for over a year just strumming with my thumb because I was too klutzy to hold onto a guitar pick; it would always fall out of my hand while I tried to play. I tried to learn just playing covers of my favorite radio rock tunes. It wasn’t until I heard “Hallowed Be Thy Name” by Maiden that I really sat down and said, ‘I want to create something like that.’ Sometimes I get the worst writer’s block. I’ll go for months without writing a single riff. I just go back then and revisit some of the old bits and pieces I recorded or wrote down at some point that never became anything, and try to dust them off and raise them from the dead.

6. Where was your last gig? 

Shaun: 9/22/18, MJ’s Pub, in Martinsburg, West Virginia. The owner, Wayne Miller, was so cool to all of the bands, and made sure we each got a few bucks for coming out, no matter how many people actually showed up. They also served the best damn cheeseburger I’ve ever eaten at 2 in the morning! It’s been a long time since we played out. I relocated across the country, and then COVID happened, so now we do the internet and studio band thing. But it’d be great to hit the road and play for a live audience again, at some point, once all this is over.

7. Where would you like to act? 

Shaun: If we ever hit the stage again, it’d be great to play at House of Blues, or something like that. Or open for any of our metal idols.

8. Whom would you like to feature with? 

Shaun: Oh man... so, any situation where another artist we appreciate enjoys our music and wants to hit the road and stage together. Any band that we get along with, on and off stage.

9. Whom not? 

Shaun: I don’t think anyone, anywhere, wants to work with, or for, someone with an attitude or lack of respect. I’m nobody’s doormat or punching bag, so if I run into someone who’s a bully or sexual predator or something, that’s a no go. Life is too short to deal with shit from other people who don’t know how or care about how to treat others.

10. Any of you has ever suffered from stage fright? Any tip for beginners on how to beat that? 

Shaun: Absolutely. I’ve had really bad social anxiety, since childhood. I’ll still freak out internally if I hit a bad note or something, playing in front of anybody. I would advise young people starting out who want to perform to just put together a set list of their material and play it start to finish, as often as they can. Stand up when you play, put a blacklight or strobe light on in the background of a dark bedroom to mimic a dark stage, have your pedal board in front of you ready to go, same with your mic stand. If you put yourself in that real-world scenario a few dozen times before you hit the stage, you will be fine. And then once you get on stage, remind yourself that it’s heavy metal, you’re playing songs nobody’s heard before, and if you screw up, nobody will be able to tell anyway. Just make sure your guitar is in tune. Germ’s never really seemed nervous. He cites preparation, practice, and think through what you would do if a certain incident happens to you. People in the crowd can heckle you, think about the crap people shout at bands sometimes and think what would I do if someone yells that at me, cause it’s possible.

11. What bands have inspired you the most? 

Shaun: I am inspired by people who become successful, and remain humble about it. I’m inspired by Rick Allen and Toni Iommi, who both suffered amputations and were able to continue their musical careers. Ludwig Von Beethoven inspires me, because he was completely deaf by the time he was 44 or so, but never stopped creating music. I can personally relate to that, on some level, since I lost part of my hearing in my left ear from childhood.

12. What's the weirdest thing a fan has ever asked you for? 

Shaun: I had a chick come up to me at a Meshuggah show at the Fillmore, in Silver Spring, MD, grab a fist full of my Meshuggah shirt, and declare her innermost desire to possess my shirt...but I don’t think she had any idea who I was, in the context of the band. I also suspect she was suffering from some degree of severe alcohol poisoning that night. She never did get the shirt, and I hope she made it home ok.

13. What do you think of your fans? 

Shaun: I appreciate anybody that has any appreciation for something I put out there.

14. What do you think of our site?

Shaun: I love what you guys are doing. Profiling new bands, promoting Bandcamp releases, album reviews...what you are doing matters. Bands and their music remain unknown and unappreciated unless someone spreads the word first, so thank you for that.

15. Something add?

Shaun: Thank you so much for the opportunity to speak with you and connect with your audience. We really appreciate the interest, and look forward to hearing what everyone thinks of Jump Off the Bridge...And Live!!! on 3/19/21! Please support local bands! Live or on the internet, just support them! Support local media, like this! We, all of us, are the lifeblood of music and the scene now! We can’t get out to see live shows because of the pandemic and if we don’t go to shows, if we don’t get the music, if we don’t buy the merch, the music we love will die on the vine! Do what you can to support the scene, even if the scene is virtual!

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