Battlecross – Crushing With WillSunday, 14th July 2013
Dead Rhetoric: You have an active social media presence as well as a solid team of people behind you between Fayz Media Group for management, Metal Blade Records, and a great booking agency. Where have you succeeded when other acts at your stature maybe don’t quite make it to the next level? Do you think it’s just as important to have strategy sessions and pre-plan items as it is to actually go out and do the work?
Asta: The first question… let’s see. I think the first thing is getting people familiar with our name. That has a lot to do with marketing and promotions, which is why you need to have a good team behind you who know what they are doing. That is building your audience, building your brand and getting people familiar with what you do. Doing interviews, keeping up to date with social media, being accessible to the fans is extremely important.
For staying relevant and branding – one thing that we may do differently is when you are branding a band, when it comes time for them to actually see you in the flesh at a show and maybe you do well, that adds to their impression. We are providing a good product which is our album – we are providing a great show, and we are keeping in touch with our fans. Those three things are a good recipe for some kind of success. That’s the basic outline of that. As far as pre-planning things, a lot of it is from my perspective is very one on one. Most of what I plan has to do with the music and the preparation for a show, our merchandise- that is what I am mostly in tune with along with the fans.
Dead Rhetoric: How do you handle the balance between personal and professional life with the band? Especially given the recent loss of bassist’s Don Slater’s fiancé, do you know how to give each other the right amount of support and space?
Asta: Yeah, we are all grown-ups, we support each other. I really don’t know how to answer it. We are a unit, and we all have our own things going on. I recently got married late last year and everything is going well with that. We take care of our business, we don’t let other things get in the way of us keeping our eye on the ball. The band is our lives, and it’s not that everything else comes second, but it is more of its own thing. Being in this band and doing what we are doing is what we’ve all wanted to do. We want to go big or not do it at all.
Dead Rhetoric: What’s married life like for you as a recent newlywed? Is she as well as her family supportive of your metal endeavors?
Asta: Totally. Trisha and I met early on when the band first started getting serious in 2007 and she has always been very supportive of me and the band. She has a vested interest herself for us to be successful and me to be successful with it. I couldn’t have asked for a better companion. Everyone in the band and her are all friends.
Dead Rhetoric: You will be a part of the incredible summer Rock Star Mayhem tour with Machine Head, Children Of Bodom, Rob Zombie, Five Finger Death Punch, Amon Amarth, Behemoth, and Mastadon among others. What can the fans expect from Battlecross in terms of a live set, and who are you most looking forward to checking out on a regular basis?
Asta: Fans can expect a short set – 25 minutes, which is our sweet-spot set. Hopefully leaving fans wanting more. We are going to put the pedal to the metal and go all out. As far as the bands I’m most looking forward to seeing, probably Mastadon, because I haven’t seen them live and they are phenomenal musicians. I’m also looking forward to meeting Huntress, because we are sharing a bus with them this summer. Everyone seems fun online from that band so far. It will also be nice to reunite with Five Finger Death Punch again, as we did the tour with them last year.
Dead Rhetoric: Name the album(s) you wore out as a teenager committed to metal and what guitarist(s) do you believe help shape your philosophy and technique?
Asta: Metallica – James Hetfield, totally! I listened to Master of Puppets and the Black album constantly. Every night, every day- that was my thing. And after that it was Pantera – Vulgar Display of Power, Cowboys From Hell, and Far Beyond Driven, wore all of those out. Then I went into Testament – The Gathering. My friends that inspired me to pick up a guitar and play, they were into Metallica so that feel a lot of people connect with, that’s honestly how it started. Their material is so classic, some people may listen to it so much they get a little burned out on it, but when you come back to it that material is so awesome, you can’t help but crank it.
Dead Rhetoric: Did you take any lessons growing up or were you pretty much self-taught and learned by ear on the guitar?
Asta: Well, both. Early on because I didn’t know what the hell I was doing I got lessons from a friend. Then I took lessons from a music shop for a year. I got the basics down, and I took a music theory class in high school which was also a lot of fun. I really want to emphasize that once you get the feel for playing guitar, I believe it is very important to play by ear and play by feel. And learn as much as you can besides playing the songs. From my perspective, once you start delving into the theory and so many things it helps you in a way to arm you with what to play like a vocabulary- but it can also limit you from coming up with your own thing. Listening to what you play, record it, and understanding how the riff and the song feels- is so important because adding the dynamics and your own feel is what makes it special. If you go by the scales and theory, you are doing something that has already been done. Do what is fun for you, but to any aspiring guitarists, be sure to do what you want.
Dead Rhetoric: Tell us about the video shoot you recently completed for the first single “Never Coming Back.” Who directed it and can you tell us a little bit about the concept? You had massive success with two million views and counting on YouTube for “Push Pull Destroy”- does this prove the visual medium is as important to metal fans as it was during the Headbangers’ Ball heyday?
Asta: The video for “Never Coming Back” is directed by the same guy who did “Push Pull Destroy.” The approach that we took to this video is less of an epic picture and more of a focus on the band, the instruments, and body language / performance feel. As far as having the visual connection, absolutely. It is a way for you to remember things, along with all your senses. I think video helps build a stronger image. Is it as important as it was? I don’t know- but I think the art of the music video is still alive and strong, there seems to be more out than ever, it’s easier to make now than it was in the past.
Dead Rhetoric: What type of activities do you like to pursue in your downtime away from music to unwind?
Asta: I like fixing stuff, tinkering with things, building things. That’s my alternate release. I work on things.
Dead Rhetoric: How do you envision the next 12-18 months for Battlecross? Have you already tried to get the songwriting machine rolling a little bit for the third album? Are you the type of band that can record bits and pieces while you have soundchecks or downtime on the road, or do you need that rehearsal time carved out at home to do this?
Asta: The way it has been in the past, we sit down individually on our own time or in rehearsal we will jam out. The best stuff comes out spontaneously, or if it’s working on a long time. We don’t settle, if it doesn’t kick ass we keep working on it. We sometimes work things out at rehearsal, hit record and then rework things from that. As far as the bare knuckle beginnings of writing, it always starts with guitars. We have never really sat down at rehearsal and wrote a song in a day. I don’t know if we will ever do that. It is a process. As far as touring, we want to go everywhere and anywhere. I can tell you nothing is in stone overseas but there are some opportunities out there. I don’t know if it is official yet but we are going out with Hatebreed in the fall with Acacia Strain and Shadows Fall. We are also going to be playing the Gwar Barbeque on August 17th in Virginia with Municipal Waste, COC, and a few others. We want to be very busy.
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