Perennial Quest – The Circuits Twist AgainSaturday, 5th December 2020
Elevating an uplifting brand of power metal to heroic heights, Perennial Quest as a sextet deliver impressive songs filled to the brim with soaring vocal melodies and equally energetic tempos, plus those twin and triple axe harmonies that are over the top in shred mold. Their latest self-titled EP pushes four more tracks that most US acts wouldn’t dare try, injecting feelings of Dragonforce but in a more palatable manner, often injecting surprising twists of a slower, restrained quality. We reached out to guitarist Andrew Matarazzo and he was happy to bring us up to speed on this latest release. We also talked about the songwriting duties, artwork, reaching out for mixing/mastering assistance from fellow musicians and producers in the scene, thoughts on New England power metal, and more video game talk.
Dead Rhetoric: Your latest EP is self-titled – coming out three years after your previous Warriors Through Endless Time demo. Where do you see the major differences between the two recordings as far as production, performance, songwriting, and tones? Did you feel more confident going into this set of material with what you wanted to achieve for Perennial Quest?
Andrew Matarazzo: Yes, definitely felt more confident this time around. We had a lot more practice within the current lineup, a lot more in tune with each other than before. I think we learned a lot from the first time that we went in to record- that was really the first time for me that I went in and tried to record professionally. So there were a lot of mistakes on the last one that we didn’t try to repeat this time around. We just knew a little bit more about what we were doing and grew to know each other better as musicians, and songwriters. Everything came around easier.
Very little stress came around to making this, at least on my end.
Dead Rhetoric: When it comes to the songwriting, how does the process work? As a sextet you all have ideas, how do you make things gel together?
Matarazzo: Everyone has their own ideas, but we are pretty good at working together as a team. Usually for myself, I’ll have the bulk of a song. I’ll start off with a couple of random riffs, and I like to map out my songs. With these riffs, I bet the song could use a long intro or a really cool clean section. We use each other to our advantage, as I know I’m not great at writing the clean sections, I’ll let (guitarists) Davy (Allen) or Sam (Jewell) know that’s what I’m going for and it’s up to them to help out with stuff like that while I come up with the verse riffs or lead sections. They tend to do the same as well.
Dead Rhetoric: When it comes to the lead sections, are their specific angles each player is better accustomed to handling?
Matarazzo: To be honest, not really. I’ll know which parts that I want to play over. I give Sam and Davy their parts at random. It’s cool, if I were to always give them a spot that I thought they could bust out super easy, I think it would be less creative. It forces everyone almost out of their comfort zones at times. Although for example if Sam writes a song, he’s a little more specific than me. He usually knows which spot needs to go to (which player), whereas I am more random.
Dead Rhetoric: You reached out to Paladin guitarist Alex Parra for mixing and seasoned producer Jens Bogren at Fascination Street Studios for the mastering – where do you think their skills helped to make the final product that much stronger, considering all of the power metal sounds and intricacies as a six-piece that you put into this material?
Matarazzo: I met Alex at the ProgPower festival last year. At one point in the past Paladin had emailed us about opening a show for them, and when I met them at ProgPower I brought that up. Later on he sent me a message about Perennial Quest going in to record something new, he offered to mix it and we listened to what he had on his website as we are big fans of his band. We just went straight ahead working with him, and he was awesome.
As for Jens, it was a total shot in the dark. I’m a big Dragonforce fan, you can tell in our music. I sent a random email to him, to see if he would be interested. I originally asked him to mix, this was before Alex got in touch with us, someone in the studio answered back to say yes, but it would take him so long that we decided we would maybe try that when we are making a full-length. He said he was available for mastering at any point in time. We just thought it would be super awesome to have someone like that work on our songs. Man did he do awesome, all of this came out great.
Dead Rhetoric: All Things Rotten handled the futuristic cover art – can you let us know a little bit about the concept, as I’d imagine it ties in with many of the lyrical themes for this EP?
Matarazzo: The concept was something that we came up with on the spot. We were all texting each other in our group chat, and the whole thing came together in one night. There are little things in there that reference some of the songs – the robot on it references “Twisted Circuits”, there are meant to be these pillars that the creatures are running towards, and that’s a reference to “Beyond the Light”. I think (singer) Tony (DiBiase) could explain that a little better. “The Immortal Sons” is about aliens, so you have the alien planets in the sky. I think there is a reference to “Nightmare Horizon” on there too, but I can’t remember.
From my own perspective, there are some bands where I’ve seen their art and it’s what drew me in. I think visuals are still important, even if they are not as in your face as they were in the past. If something is visually creative and catches people’s eyes, I think they want to check out the band a little more than if there wasn’t.
Dead Rhetoric: It’s evident throughout the EP that Dragonforce is a heavy inspiration for the band. How do you feel about the evolution of the group through their discography and member changes – and where do you believe Perennial Quest is able to separate themselves a little bit from being mere clones of that international act?
Matarazzo: When we first started they were my absolute inspiration for this band. I had an epiphany one day while listening to Valley of the Damned that absolutely this is what I wanted to play. I contacted everyone I wanted to work with on the new project and got it going. The earlier songs of mine, they were total Dragonforce… I don’t want to say ripoffs, but we wore that influence on our sleeve. I’m trying to move a little past that now, expanding my comfort zone a little more as a writer. Davy and Sam have that influence too, but its not as much as mine. The more they start incorporating their ideas, the more we are going to move further away from that sound and find ourselves.
Dead Rhetoric: What do you see as some of the current challenges that the band faces in trying to make more of a footprint in the international scene?
Matarazzo: I guess it’s tough not being able to play live at the moment. There were some really cool things we were lining up for this year, we were going to be opening up for some pretty good shows and inch our way out of being just a local band a little bit. We were going to do a small tour. It’s weird right now, we have to start to think more outside the box outside of playing gigs. I still want to do some of the more typical things, sending the EP out to labels to see what happens. The biggest challenge is what can we do now that we can’t really be out there. We are coming up with some ideas, but nothing too solid yet.
Dead Rhetoric: You mentioned in our last talk your passion for 80’s and 90’s video games. What are some of your favorite go-to’s as far as systems and video games, and do you find you’ve been delving more into this hobby given the stay home/stay safe pandemic that rules current times?
Matarazzo: Oh yeah. I’ve been getting more into my video game hobby than I ever have. I made it a point this year to play every single game in the Resident Evil series, and I’m close to finishing this. When we last spoke I was heavily into retro-gaming, and into playing the Mega Man series, but now I have the time to buy and play the newer consoles I’ve played more modern games. I just went through The Last of Us series and that was very fun.
Dead Rhetoric: Do you find a correlation between video games and heavy metal as far as audiences?
Matarazzo: For some bands. There is stuff from gaming soundtracks and themes from games that inspired us. Since we’ve been talking about Dragonforce, they are inspired by games and reference a lot of games in their music. While we haven’t written anything directly about games, for example “Twisted Circuits” I wrote a lot of those riffs after playing Mega Man for a week, and I had that style stuck in my head. Some of the parts totally do, and that’s pretty awesome to me.
Dead Rhetoric: The New England metal scene is quite diverse – and there is also a healthy interest in power metal, considering the work of acts like Thunderforge, Adamantis, Goldenhall, Forevers Fallen Grace, Armory, and Ravage among others. What are your thoughts on the community, the fans, the bands – and do you believe there is great support with the promoters/venues?
Matarazzo: With the local power metal bands, there is a lot of great support between each other. Especially between us and Adamantis for example. We’ve played together so many times, and I actually just got their new album in the mail yesterday. Bands like Goldenhall, Thunderforge, Iron Will – they are all pretty cool.
Most promoters have been pretty cool towards us, and pretty cool towards the power metal bands. It’s not as prevalent as thrash bands or death metal bands would be. I see the power metal scene making its own footing here.
Dead Rhetoric: What has heavy metal meant to you personally – and can you think of any specific moments in your life where the music helped you pull through a tough or dark time in your life and make things better and more positive for you?
Matarazzo: Yeah, definitely. Metal is my most favorite thing in life. During times when I was just figuring out who I am and all that typical stuff growing up, instead of turning to trouble I turned to Dragonforce, Judas Priest, Anthrax, bands like that. Its music and mainly heavy metal for sure. I listen to more of the uplifting bands because it’s just so inspiring, it makes me happy.
Dead Rhetoric: What is your favorite concert memory of any concert that you’ve taken in personally?
Matarazzo: Let me think. One of the times I saw Dragonforce, I went to a before show backstage thing. I got to play their guitars and hang out with them. And that was very cool.
Dead Rhetoric: What is something that you’ve changed your mind or outlook about over the past five years?
Matarazzo: Just becoming a more open person in general. Not as secluded or just into my own hobbies. Especially with music, becoming more open to things than just metal and becoming a better songwriter rather than just making riffs that sound like Anthrax or Dragonforce. I want to grow to be a more open person to all and any things.
Dead Rhetoric: What are some common mistakes that you see other bands make that maybe you wish you had learned as well to think about?
Matarazzo: I don’t know. Just in general, when we were first starting, I wish we had more guidance on how to do things. There has been shows we’ve played that outside of our performance, things weren’t going well. The third show we played we did with some really shady promoter, and we didn’t get paid, the guitars were all turned off, it was terrible. It would be nice if we could have been wiser to the people we worked with and the people we talked to. You have to go through that, and I’m sure we still will. It’s all trial and error.
Dead Rhetoric: When it comes to the Perennial Quest lineup, are you still seeking out a permanent keyboardist or is that an area you work on a case by case basis when it comes to the live performance?
Matarazzo: We definitely want to find a permanent keyboardist. Now that we have this EP release out of the way, it’s one of our bigger focuses. Honestly, it’s so hard to find somebody around here. When we were looking for someone two years ago, I was posting the ads everywhere I could daily for months. We gave up, and I don’t think we would ever do keyboard backing tracks. I’m hell bent on getting a real member. I feel like I wouldn’t have as much fun on stage if I was playing to any kind of backing track. Sometimes we tease each other on stage if there’s a mistake, it makes things more spontaneous. It’s little things that make it so much better than being 100% perfect all the time.
Dead Rhetoric: How do you see the next twelve months shaping up for Perennial Quest as far as promotion for the EP? Any videos, special playthroughs, streaming live shows, cover songs, etc. in the pipeline?
Matarazzo: We are working on the idea of a cover song ourselves, and make a parody video for it. We started recording that, and I hope we pull through with it. We are going to do some lyric videos, and I’d like to do a real music video if we can. We have the time, it’s about pulling together the resources to make it happen. We are hoping to do a playthrough video, funny enough of one of the songs off the earlier demo. There is some new stuff we would like to show off.
We will work on recording new music a lot sooner than the break between the first demo and this EP. Probably early next year. The next thing will definitely be a full-length. I feel confident we can do a full-length album. Maybe we can get picked up from a label from this EP – if not, we will be good enough to do it on our own. We have a good grip of how we are in the studio, the sounds we want.