Xenophile – Accelerate the Initiative Part IIWednesday, 12th October 2016
Read Part I HERE.
Dead Rhetoric: How would you describe the band’s live show? Is it a challenge for Ron to handle the high pitched, melodic vocals over the top of all the progressive riffing and drop on a dime time changes?
Pavlik: I’ve seen the amount of practice that goes into singing over those riffs, and that’s a lot of dedication. Especially since he brings just so much energy to the stage, I love playing with him. We all get nice and sweaty, even for just a half an hour set. Except, of course, Anthony. Sometimes Anthony gets criticized for his stage presence, as he doesn’t move around as much as Ron or Leart, but we’ve all come to love it as a motif. It’s almost scarier, seeing him remain stoic, his fingers gliding over his bass, almost emotionless. I actually think it’s a really unique delivery, and it’s genuine.
Iglesias: Our live show is exactly that. We try to bring as much energy and power to the stage as possible and we want to bring the songs you hear on the album to life with as much clarity and quality as possible. I personally like a lot of movement on the stage and that’s why you can see me head banging a lot, jumping around a lot, and moving around a lot. Leart is always headbanging or coming in to do a harmonized lead thing with me and I love the way Anthony is so stoic on stage. It’s just such a contrast from what people expect and it’s almost scary. Matt can always be relied on to beat the shit out of his drums and just give the sound of the band so much life and energy. I really love playing with all of them and feel so lucky that I get to. I also enjoy interacting with the crowd, trying to get them to engage with us. I want to give the audience exactly what I would expect a band to give to me if I was in their position and to show them as much respect as possible. As for the vocals, initially it was a challenge but like anything else the more you practice the easier it becomes and before I knew it I really didn’t have to think about it anymore. It still presents a challenge when learning new material but the songs always fall into place.
Dead Rhetoric: To my ears, some of the bands that come to mind when taking in Xenophile include Annihilator, Coroner, Forbidden, Hades, Heathen, and Toxik among others. What initially attracted the band to performing in a style that was going to be a little more musically challenging and demanding – and are you prepared for the uphill climb it will take to gain an audience because of its ‘niche’ appeal versus a more straightforward thrash or metal act?
Pavlik: The appeal of thrash to me has always been that you can do so much within that genre and still be true to your sound. We all love the classic straightforward thrash bands (Exodus, Overkill, Slayer) and like to use that as a base for the sound. But before I ever got into metal I became a huge fan of prog-rock (Rush, King Crimson, ELP, etc), so I naturally just incorporate that into my playing and writing. The thrash moniker allows us to include some influences from the jazzier Cynic and Atheist to the super technical Watchtower and Toxik and even the insanely heavy thrashers like Kreator and early Sepultura. While some would say that’s an extremely niche demographic, I would say it actually works in our favor, as it allows more people who are just fans of metal or heavy music in general to appreciate aspects of our sound. I think we’d fit on the bill with the straightforward thrash bands, the prog rockers, and the death metal bands. We play technical music but we’re not slaves to that style.
Leart Begolli: What attracts us to more demanding styles first and foremost is the musicianship. We enjoy bands with musicians who are masters of their instrument especially because those bands evolve from album to album. It’s simply more enjoyable for us as fans and musicians ourselves.
With that said, I feel the uphill climb comes with the territory of being a more progressive or technical band of any genre of music. The payoff for us, I hope, will be in the long run. Our favorite bands with ‘niche’ audiences have some of the most dedicated fans. Bands like Dream Theater, Opeth, and Rush, in addition to the bands you mentioned. At the end of the day it comes down to how good the songs are. For us the challenge is finding a way to write music that is technically demanding but still keeps the song as a whole memorable and enjoyable. That’s where I find the value in more straight-forward music; because the focus could be on meaningful lyrics or creating a certain sound or atmosphere rather than musical precision taking center stage.
Dead Rhetoric: Some of the members of Xenophile also have other band endeavors that they participate in (Ron with Paralysis and Matt with Psilocybe) – how do you balance out that workload with Xenophile, and do you believe these outside creative outlets improve the overall songwriting for Xenophile?
Pavlik: Ask Leart about his Kung Fu and Anthony about his jazz. For me, I am currently working with Psilocybe until they find a permanent drummer, and being in that band has given me more of an appreciation for punk in all its varieties. If Xenophile uses thrash as a base to include other influences, then Psilocybe uses punk as a base to incorporate thrash, ska and reggae, death metal, grindcore, even some prog. Overall, it just makes me want to include more genres into Xenophile, and maybe write some angrier music with more of an attitude.
Iglesias: It’s actually very manageable working with both bands. Obviously Xenophile is my priority and we have our set practice days and by now I’m familiar with our songs so well that working with Paralysis does not interfere. I meet with Paralysis at least once a month to go over the songs and otherwise rehearse them on my own, and they are very flexible about it. Paralysis is very different in a lot of ways despite our two bands having similar origins in Thrash, however, working with them has been very interesting as far as getting insight on another band’s writing process and how they view what a song should sound like which I’m sure in some ways I take back with me when approaching Xenophile’s song writing. It’s always good to experience another band’s perspective when it comes to the creative process and I also get along with all of those guys really well which makes it worth it sticking around. I know Matt also makes it work with his commitments to Psilocybe and Anthony with the various jazz gigs he plays in the area.
Dead Rhetoric: You’ve been gaining some solid interest overseas for your work – how does this make you feel, and where do you see the major differences between your acceptance either locally or across the United States versus overseas support?
Pavlik: Honestly, we weren’t expecting the support from Europe and South America to happen almost at all, let alone so quickly. Most of our US orders have been from people we know who support us, which we obviously love and appreciate, but we would actually get people with no real connection to us buying our CDs which is just mind boggling. The European crowd seems to really like us, I’d love to get over there and play for them. It just seems like metal is more accepted in general outside the US, whereas here you have to find people who really go out of their way for the music if you want support.
Begolli: The overseas interest in our band comes as a wonderful surprise! European interest is especially exciting because so many of our favorite bands and musicians come from Europe, so to have that support is huge for us. One of our goals is definitely to play overseas and, on the same note, play more of the U.S.
So far, our band has been received well whether live or online through our album. We haven’t seen any major differences but again I feel that’s because we haven’t seen enough of the U.S.
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