Xanthochroid – A Journey through EtymosMonday, 14th August 2017
Dead Rhetoric: You do a lot of the work for Xanthochroid DIY, does that help to alleviate expenses so that you can focus more in one area of spending money, like say, getting Jens Bogren to do the mastering?
Meador: That definitely helps us to keep our resources focused on the things we can’t do ourselves. Luckily, Matthew [Earl] our drummer/producer/engineer is a partner in a company called Hexany Audio. He’s the lead composer – they do a lot of video game music. Leading up to that, he was just always kind of a prodigy when it came to producing and recording. Nowadays, he has been honing his compositional skills. He and I worked really closely on the orchestrations, but it was his discipline that he’s been learning that really took it to the next level. To be to the point where, if we did perform live, it would be something where we could play with a live orchestra and it would sound more or less like what we have on the album.
We are lucky in that sense, but it’s only because of Matthew’s hard work that we are able to do that much of it ourselves. When it comes to mastering, we go with Jens, because that’s a process where you kind of want someone else’s ears on it. We’ve been working on it for years and years. So it’s a little bit by choice, and a little bit by neurosis where we just have to do everything ourselves [laughs]. We want to be the guys that wrote this and wrote that. We kind of torture ourselves but it makes it all worthwhile in the end.
Dead Rhetoric: Looking back, how much of an impact did the cover of Wintersun’s “Land of Snow and Sorrow” end up having for the band?
Meador: That was, I would say, immeasurable. We don’t know exactly, but it seems…I’m just spit-balling, but probably 50% of the people who come to be fans came from seeing that video. That was huge for us. I think it had no negative impact either. No one was going around saying, “Xanthochroid’s music sucks, and their only good things was their covers.” It was good all around. We love Wintersun to begin with. It was our honor to be able to do that song. It hit YouTube and the Internet at a time where things were really different. Music was still going viral, and it doesn’t seem to be that way anymore. We are really grateful for that, and all the people who helped us share it and get it out there.
Fun fact: my wife, who was not even my girlfriend at the time, was instrumental in getting that shared. She messaged it to Teemu [Mäntysaari] and he showed it to the guys on the bus. So I just owed it to her to marry her after that [laughs]. It was a combination of so many things – we are so grateful to our fans, and all the people who found us and gave our music a chance. I would say that’s a great promotional idea for any band out there. Anybody who is starting a band, probably has influences that they admire. What better way to honor that than by doing a cover? Most of the time, it can be received very positively.
Dead Rhetoric: On record, Xanthochroid is quite serious but outside of that, humor does seem to drive the band – ie: Facebook posts, or specifically the Dimmu Borgir April Fool’s joke a few years back. How much does that humor and fun vibe push the band forward?
Meador: I think a lot of that comes from us still calling ourselves a black metal band, in some sense of the word. Being attracted to that music, and you are kind of obligated to be a part of that world: the church-burning, corpse-paint, nihilistic, Satanist world and everything. I think to most of us in the band, none of that ever made sense. We were musicians, and we loved the music: the sound of it and the feeling it creates in you. We always thought all that stuff associated with it was pretty superficial and kind of like a marketing tactic.
So coming into the world of metal, where a lot of people take that really seriously, and a lot of people think it’s a bit annoying…to put it politely. We like to take a humorous approach to it, just to take the edge off. A lot of times, being in a band, things don’t work out the way you hoped. You try to put your music out there and it goes nowhere. Instead of taking it really seriously, or being like, “Argh, why aren’t people listening to the music that I put so much work into,” we thought “Well, maybe we should stop working our asses off on this super serious music and make a stupid video?” Dimmu [Borgir] was always a band where they have a serious message, but at the same time, their lyrics are riddled with nonsensical English – big words for the sake of big words. We always took their music, although we loved it, with a grain of salt because we always felt that the message was lost on us because the language was so misused. We thought we could put out something like that, and have a blast doing it…so that’s what we did [laughs].
Dead Rhetoric: Talk about the band’s participation in the BlizzCon talent show. How did you get involved with that?
Meador: We live in Orange County, California…I don’t anymore but that’s where I grew up. That’s where the company Blizzard is based – Irvine, California. So especially among Matthew’s circle of people…his girlfriend is an artist, she’s still studying right now, but she’s still planning as far as I know, to work at Blizzard. We actually have a lot of friends and acquaintances who work there. Matthew, being in the video game music world, it’s just always been a big point of interest for us. We felt like things tie in a bit – they have their own universes that they’ve created. You look into the lore of World of Warcraft and it’s very deep and engaging. We thought it was a world that works with our music and with our artistic vision as well.
The Blizzcon Talent Contest – I’d say that’s probably the coolest thing we’ve ever done. We were actually on our tour in 2013, we did a west coast tour. They announced that they were doing a talent contest, and it was the first type that they had done something like that. They always had costume contests, but this was open to all disciplines of art. We were like, “We should totally do this!” We took some music from the game – I wrote a lyrical story based around the area that the music actually plays in the game: the Argent Crusader’s Ground. We put it out there, we shot a video behind where Matthew used to live and put it up in a day. It did really well, and we got to go perform at the convention. It was broadcast on TV and we played in front of like 20,000 people! I’m sitting there playing in front of 20,000 people on the accordion, which I could barely play [laughs]. I play piano, but I played in front of that many people on accordion…what the hell [laughs]? That was just so much fun.
It’s such a good memory. It was thrown together so quick; I regret that we didn’t have the other band members in on it. We just didn’t think it was going to go as far as it did. We thought there would be thousands of entries. We ended up being a big fish in a small pond so to speak. So a little bit of luck, and we’d always been fans of what Blizzard does…Matthew more than I. I’ve never played online games or anything, but I respect what they do.
Dead Rhetoric: We touched upon this before, but there’s not really any plans for the band to do much touring – it’s more about studio albums and going from there?
Meador: Not being in the cool kids club of being on a label, even a mid-level label, the offers we get for touring just come from other independent bands. That’s still an idea we are entertaining, but I’m 100% focused on this release, for the time being. I believe that the album is going to strike a chord with a lot of people. The uniqueness of it, the depth of it, and the story finally being presented in its entirety. I’m excited for who the album is going to reach, and what sort of opportunities it will open to us.
As for touring, it’s merely a logistical problem for us right now, since we are on opposite sides of the country. Beyond that, Matthew, like I said, is a partner in his company. It’s not like he’s a partner in an accounting firm – he’s a partner in a video game music company. Literally his days are filled with writing music. Stepping away from that – we’d all love to play a European festival circuit, or do a US tour…but at the same time, and myself included, our lives are already music. Ultimately, it would have to work out financially. We can’t be one of those bands who is taking an advance from the label just so we can pay it back. We are in a bit of a different situation, and we are all getting older. It’s still something I want to do; I just want to see what sort of opportunities this album may open up for us.
Dead Rhetoric: Both albums are coming out this year – anything else going on down the road for the band?
Meador: One of these days, Epic Dragon, our Estonian alter-egos that are basically a rip-off of combining Children of Bodom, Norther, Dragonforce, and a little Nightwish, who are another English misusing, melodic death metal band with a power metal element, are going to release an album. It’s going to take the world by storm [laughs].
But as far as beyond this release, once both are out we will be looking into doing vinyl. That may be more of a crowdfunding undertaking, and we’ll see what else we can tie into that. I’d like to see where the album goes critically, and what kind of attention we get. For a long time now, I’ve planned to do a fully acoustic Xanthochroid album that would basically take place in different parts of the world of Ethymos. Developing the different peoples and cultures in the world – a collection of folk songs travelling the world. That’s something that’s also on the horizon.
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