Let Us Prey – Attention Deficit Disorder MetalThursday, 30th July 2020
Fueling the desire to throw a host of influences from thrash and melodic death to extreme, industrial, and even traditional lines, Let Us Prey comes bursting through the scene at a time when US metal needs that next new, exciting thing to latch onto. Gaining the opportunity to perform across New England on bills with diverse acts like Leaves’ Eyes, Omnium Gatherum, and Nervosa among others, the musicians behind this Boston-area band have decades of experience not only as players, but also as faithful followers and consumers within heavy metal. Their debut full-length Virtues of the Vicious is a dark melodic and powerful record that may make many think of Fear Factory and Nevermore one minute, then Judas Priest, Soilwork, or Testament the next.
We reached out to vocalist Marc Lopes, who was happy to bring us up to speed on the four-year gap between releases, why M-Theory Audio is the perfect label for the band, the productivity of the band during this downtime from touring/shows, and also strong opinions on Marc’s mental health journey and what works best for him to keep things stable.
Dead Rhetoric: Virtues of the Vicious is the debut full-length album for Let Us Prey – four years removed from your debut The Saint of Killers EP. Outside of the time trying to find a label to put this out which you have with M-Theory Audio, can you bring us up to speed on the delays between records, and do you feel in the end it made for a stronger final product with the wait?
Marc Lopes: The wait was really just a matter of finding the right people to put the album out. And also because of me being in the Ross the Boss band. Those are really the only reasons. I did two records in that time with Ross, four world tours, and that’s really the only reason why this took so long to get out. I’m glad because we are with M-Theory and they are really cool. Working with Marco has been a blessing because he really understands what we are doing, and one of the few people willing to take the chance that isn’t something that is considered the norm in metal right now. He’s firmly behind what we are doing, and going to be doing.
I would have loved to put this out a long time ago, but as they say, things happen.
Dead Rhetoric: What made M-Theory Audio the obvious best fit for Let Us Prey – especially considering the ever-evolving, changing nature of record labels and how the music industry works in 2020?
Lopes: He didn’t try to rape us blind! (laughs). That’s a huge bonus, not wanting everything but the kitchen sink from the band. Really, you know what it is? The creative freedom. They didn’t dictate anything. They loved everything the way it was. I mean, how can you go wrong there? It wasn’t a matter of we like this but we need you to change this. He thought this was cool, let’s put it out. The only thing I had was singles… what do you want to do about the singles, because I’m too close to it. That was the only thing that we might have taken direction on – and even that they were like ‘well, what do you want to do?’. I love them all, so it was hard for me to pick.
They are very artist friendly. In the position we are in, it just made the most sense for the time. We really needed to get this thing out, and this was the obvious choice for us to go with.
Dead Rhetoric: Yourself and Jon Morency are the songwriters and performers for the most part in the studio for Let Us Prey – and you fill the lineup out accordingly for live performances. Do you ever foresee a possibility of both aspects coming together down the line – or are you content with the separation because of the smoothness of the relationship you and Jon have and direction you want to take the band in?
Lopes: This question is coming up a lot lately. To be honest with you, anything is possible. It would be kind of cool to get in a room with a bunch of people and create, but unfortunately because of scheduling, location, and stuff like that I don’t foresee it being different for a while. As it is right now, we have the whole next record already written. It was done in the same process as we did this one, I’m not one to say if it’s not broke, don’t fix it. For the time being, nothing is going to change, and we are going to do it the same way we have before, and have a great bunch of guest musicians on the next one. And we can get some pretty cool surprises on the guest vocals as well. Why not? (laughs)
Dead Rhetoric: Do you believe your decades of experience in a multitude of bands allows Let Us Prey to develop a multi-faceted style and outlook that can also gain appeal with listeners of different heavy genres?
Lopes: I think so. I’ve come to a point where… Jon is less influenced by the business end of it, or as involved as I have been. He’s unscathed, or jaded as much as I can be because of the things I’ve experienced. For me, I’ve got the attitude that I don’t care what people think anymore, because I’m doing it… Let Us Prey I do because I love what we do, I love so many different facets of music, we wanted to do what we wanted to do. We are doing things because they sound great.
We wrote this whole new record in lockdown, and it’s weird because we had twenty songs sitting around, waiting for the next record. When this lockdown happened, we started writing again, and these are way better than the last bunch of songs we had. That’s why we are going with these new songs.
Dead Rhetoric: Also having a prominent role now as the vocalist of Ross the Boss, do you believe that you’ve been able to establish more of a foothold in the scene for Let Us Prey, even if the styles are quite different?
Lopes: I guess maybe, a little bit. That can work two ways. Because of the Ross the Boss style is totally different than what Let Us Prey is, for the most part a lot of people have been digging it. There are some people that aren’t going to like my approach to Let Us Prey anyways. It can work either way. It helps in the business aspect because I’ve met so many awesome people, so for me to go to Joe Schmo, this is my band and they are already into Ross the Boss aspect of stuff, they are more apt to check it out. It helps getting my foot in the door to get Let Us Prey onto Liquid Metal, which is huge for us right now – I’m doing the Dimebash because I was in Ross the Boss.
Dead Rhetoric: Has it also helped you and Jon to have a few songwriting credits on the Ross the Boss albums?
Lopes: It’s interesting, yeah. But a lot of people don’t know that those (songs) are from Jon and I. They do now, but a lot of people didn’t know that two of the singles off the new record are ours. It’s interesting, but now they can hear it. It’s still Ross stuff, we wrote it with that specific style in mind. We are honored that Ross let us do that, it’s opened us up as writers.
Dead Rhetoric: Where do you see the state of heavy metal on a domestic and global level currently? What aspects do you enjoy, and where do you think there need to be major changes or pivots to make things even stronger coming out of this pandemic that we are dealing with?
Lopes: Metal is always stronger overseas than it is in the United States. It’s hard to say what the future is going to bring. The problem in the United States is your only headliners are Slipknot still, and Five Finger Death Punch. When you go overseas, you have Helloween headlining festivals, Sabaton, different types of stuff going on and there’s more of a variety going on over there than there is over here. That’s what is killing the market here, it’s very narrow. You are seeing… there’s not a lot of, I was talking about it the other day. On Fridays I try to check out a lot of new releases, and there’s so many bands but not a lot of innovation going on. There was a time when you couldn’t hear a band playing in Serbia or Bulgaria that you had to come up with your own thing, because you were locked away from the rest of the world. Now where we are so able to check out a band from those countries, we are more apt to be less creative, there’s so much accessibility.
Dead Rhetoric: Do you believe as a result a lot of these outside the box countries come up with more fresh, innovative takes than the European and North American acts?
Lopes: I do, I do. I’m starting to see some of that definitely. It’s hard to find stuff that’s different now. Iron Maiden, Kreator, they still put out these great records because they were the ones who created that style to begin with, so it works. When Iron Maiden comes out with a new record, people are going to love it. It’s not new, but it’s Iron Maiden. They aren’t reinventing the wheel, but they do what they do. The new Testament, the new Overkill, etc. – these bands invented the spoke in the wheel. One of my favorite bands of all time is Fear Factory. When they came out, who sounded like them? That’s what I’m talking about. Same thing with Children of Bodom, In Flames, we grew up in an era where you heard Dio, you heard Maiden, you heard Overkill, they all had an identifying factor. You have all these metalcore bands or death metal bands, black metal bands, they all sound the same. There are tons of great, great players – but there’s hardly anything that is identifying differences.
We are spawning a generation of YouTubers. I can play 300 BPM – that’s cool but you aren’t Cozy Powell? Where are the Cozy Powell’s of the world? The Dave Lombardo’s? In today’s scene, Dave is slow- but when you hear him now, you know him. Where are the Eddie Van Halen’s? The Dio’s, the Rob Halford’s? There are so many great players, but no identities to these players.
I’ve been getting into this artist that is not metal, Poppy. I’m blown away. Why? Because she has an identity. And it’s weird, but it works. You know what I’m saying? I know that’s not really metal… but what made Marilyn Manson cool? He took Alice Cooper and brought it to the next place. We are never going to be all original anymore, because everything has probably already been done. There isn’t anything wrong with taking some influences and making them your own.
We are taking influences… Jon and I came up with a term that describes perfectly what we do. We are ADD metal (laughs). We are like, oh my God look at this! And that’s what we do. That’s our personalities, and we have no shame in it. If it feels right, it’s cool. We are happy and proud of what we’ve done, and we are happy people are starting to get into it. There is so much going on, that people have to listen to it ten times to figure out all that we are doing. That’s awesome because it made you listen to it ten times. I go back and listen to Rage for Order, and I’m still blown away by some of the stuff I listen to on headphones. That’s the kind of record I miss.
Dead Rhetoric: You’ve documented on social media the work you’ve done to overcome depression and work hard on your mental health. What have been some of the tools you use either at home or on the road to keep as mentally sharp as you can beyond the physical workouts that you do?
Lopes: Medication (laughs). It’s weird, because I didn’t take meds for a long time. Ten or twelve years ago when I first approached my mental health issues, the medications that I was on did more damage than good. The drinking didn’t help, and I don’t recommend anyone with health issues drink because that’s the worst thing you can do – and don’t do drugs because that isn’t going to help either. That’s how I got into the fitness part, and that helped for a long time. But as time went on, that wasn’t good enough – so about two years ago, I kept getting into the dark place. That evil demon thing, that dark friend of mine kept weighing down on me and kept peaking over my shoulder more than I wanted. I had to get some help. I can’t seem to get ahold of it on my own.
Keeping busy was my way of coping with it- building sheds and playing with this band, cover bands, doing this – all those things weren’t working anymore. One day I picked up the phone, called my shrink and knew I needed to come in, and figure this out. After some trial and errors of things, we found something that works for me – it may not work for everybody else, but it worked for me. Find what works for you – if it works, go with it, and if it doesn’t keep trying whatever you can to make something work for you. I tell everybody there is a solution to every problem, you just have to be willing to work with it. You have to remember to be willing to want it to work. There is no miracle drug that exists. There is no such thing. Its mental too – the meds help me. I feel like they do, and I keep doing what I do. Do I still have bad days? Absolutely. But they are far and few between.
This pandemic/ lockdown was a great testament to that. Some of those days weren’t easy, but I made it through. My recommendation for people is to keep trying to work through it, and don’t give up. That’s all you can do.
Dead Rhetoric: What advice would you give the current generation of metal musicians to think about that maybe you wish you had received as you were going through the trials and tribulations in the scene?
Lopes: Do as much as you can to hone your craft. Don’t party your life away! (laughs). Discipline, even more discipline. We went through the 90’s, which was a terrible era for metal as far as trying to maneuver through things. If you are in metal now, you are in a pretty good place. There are a lot more resources now than I had growing up – so my recommendation is use every resource you can to your advantage. I wish I had the technology we have now with the video and the audio, all these things we can do on our own. If I had that ten or twenty years ago – I would have been so happy. We just did a new video, I had a day to do it. I wouldn’t have been able to do that in the past, but I have all that technology available now. Take advantage of the tools you have now – but don’t let the tools run you.
Dead Rhetoric: Considering the downtime, has work already begun on the second Let Us Prey album – as I understand it may be a full-on concept record this go around? What subject matter will you tackle this time?
Lopes: (laughs). It’s going to be heavy artificial intelligence based. I’m very fascinated by that. I don’t want to give it away, it’s going to tackle the issue of humanity is the virus of this Earth. I believe that AI is the next evolution of mankind. I firmly believe the human mind has gotten to the point where it can’t go anymore, without help. Because of our society and our government, it’s subdued our potential, so the people that have developed these intelligent machines. Look at the computer, these machines can do what the human mind can only fathom. We invented this computer to help us do things that we can’t do as fast, but computers are starting to outdo humans one thousand-fold. There are experimentations of augmentation of computers with humans, and that’s going to be explored more. It’s not an original concept, I know that bands like Scar Symmetry and Fear Factory have talked about this, but mine will be more of a story about the aiding and abetting of helping AI achieve that. What if a human actually helped AI achieve its goal? Because that human believes the humans don’t deserve the world.
Dead Rhetoric: What would surprise us to learn about Marc Lopes the person away from how you are when you are focused on music and live performances?
Lopes: I love movies. I love pizza. You know what a lot of people would be surprised at, because they see me playing I’m so animated and with the crowd? I don’t really like to be around people. I don’t like being in big crowds. I like being in the middle of the woods, by myself. I don’t like cities and being around a lot of people. I have a hard time being around people, especially now more than ever. You may find that to be strange when I am on stage and love to work with the crowd. It’s different. When I am playing and in the audience, that’s part of it and I feel one with them because it’s part of the music. But when I am outside of that, I feel very alienated from it all. I’m not going to be mean to anybody, but I tend to avoid people.
It’s interesting, I wasn’t like that when I used to party. I was Mr. Social, but I think that was a fake escape. Once I started to get in tune with myself as a person, I found I was happier was being in tune with nature. When I tackled my mental health and my depression, and explore myself as a person, I would go up in the middle of nowhere in Maine and just be by myself, explore. I had a van and sleep in the back of the van, go to the beach and sleep. Find waterfalls and weird shit like that. I could tune in to things that matter to me.
Dead Rhetoric: What’s on the agenda for you with Ross the Boss, Let Us Prey, and any other endeavors over the next twelve to eighteen months?
Lopes: As far as Ross the Boss goes, we have a tour planned with Burning Witches in the fall – whether that happens or not, we shall see. But it depends on the travel bans to Europe, it could get pushed back to 2021. We already have a bunch of tours and festivals booked. We didn’t get to tour on the new record, so we are probably going to do that for the next two years. The record was very well-received. As far as Let Us Prey goes, we are not going to be able to do anything live for this record so we are just going to focus on going into the studio at the end of September and start tracking the new record, and have that out by next summer. And hopefully go on tour after that.
As far as other things, I have more stuff going on. I have been asked to do some stuff for some pretty well-known bands with well-known players. We’ll see what happens on that. I have been focused more on making money, doing the shed thing while I can – there is a demand for it, and nobody is making money in music right now.