Infected Rain – Vehicles for EmotionThursday, 8th February 2024
Continuing to change and evolve with each album, Infected Rain sit as one of the more prominent bands of the current modern metal scene. But it’s not something that happened over night. Working independently over the course of three album, and now with three albums for Napalm Records under their belt, they continue to showcase that hard work is one of the pillars of their gradual rise through the scene. Time, their newest album, is a reflection of that feeling – capturing the strongest parts of their sound and pulling in new ones to enhance themselves. We spoke once more with vocalist Lena Scissorhands, who give us the details about the new album, the line-up changes, music as vehicles for emotion, and inclusivity in the metal scene, amid other topics.
Dead Rhetoric: How do you feel about the current Infected Rain line-up? How do you think it impacts the group’s cohesion?
Lena Scissorhands: Inside the band, it worked for the best so far. We feel very balanced and we feel very energized for this ‘new chapter,’ and it’s so obvious in every single member of the band. Also, I feel like having four members on the stage, we like it even more. We have played almost 100 shows together this year with our new bassist [Alice Lane]. We had two very long tours – one in the US and one in Europe and it definitely showed a lot.
We were very nervous at first to go on tour, because we were nervous to have certain questions asked towards the band, having certain issues that we would have to work around having a new person. It’s always like that. It doesn’t matter how good you are as a musician, or how experienced you are as a musician, working with a new musician is always challenging. It could be easier with some than others – it doesn’t make them a better or worse person, it’s just how we perceive certain things. Working with new people is always hard, especially when you were together for so long. So we were very nervous, but we like it. We like the new arrangement – how it feels, how it’s working for us, how it looks, we like it all.
Dead Rhetoric: Many bands as they continue to grow start to be less willing to change. It seems the opposite with Infected Rain. What keeps you hungry as a band?
Scissorhands: What helps out the most is not putting the band into any boxes. It helps a lot because it doesn’t restrain you from trying new things. When I say that, I say it with a lot of kindness and respect to those who do follow certain rules when it comes to the style or their genre of music that they want to stay in. I believe that Infected Rain has proven, throughout the years and starting with our first album, that we are not afraid to have songs that are extremely emotional, not metal at all – fully electronic, or introducing rapping or ethnic atmospheres/singing. We want to be free.
We want to be free when we compose, we want to feel free when we deliver an image of the band. For example we had a band pic where we were all in white, which is not very metal [laughs]. We have had many contradictions like that, because I feel like we are far away from the times when there were such strict rules about only listening to certain types of music. If anyone found out you liked pop music, you’d be a traitor. I totally remember those times. I was a big fan of the band Nirvana, and I also liked No Doubt and Garbage. People would be like, “Wait! That’s completely different! How dare you mix it up?” It’s childish. I think that artists in any art, should always experiment with different things. You can have your preferred and your beloved style or genre, absolutely, but for example, my tattoo artist is a great painter. He prefers oil painting, but he does a lot of different styles of drawings and paintings.
So what I am trying to say is, we never put ourselves in any boxes. It’s been like that since the start, so right now, where we are with the band now, it’s not even something we do on purpose.
Dead Rhetoric: How much inclusivity do you see in the metal scene nowadays – in terms of fans who listen to more than just metal all the time?
Scissorhands: I do notice both [types of fans], but with time, and depending on the country we are in, I do see more open-minders. I absolutely love it. We also like to go on tour and mix it up with bands that are completely different types of metal. For example, our upcoming European tour is with bands that are not even close to our genre but have their own niches – Dragonforce and Amaranthe. It’s different, but at the same time, it’s still alternative and still metal.
I think even more should happen. I think pop musicians should be mixed in with metal musicians at festivals. It shouldn’t feel like a certain day is more about ‘lighter’ music, or whatever you want to call it, with no disrespect to any other genre, because I like to say that there is beauty in every single genre. There are bands that can touch you, even in music that you never thought you would ever listen to. I think it’s more and more common to have that.
Dead Rhetoric: I agree. If you only go out with similar bands, you are playing to just your audience. If you go out with different bands, you can potentially get yourself in front of other fans.
Scissorhands: Exactly! There are also many people that are on the other side of the coin, who listen to chill music and they might go to a concert with their friends, and they don’t really like metal. They might discover something that they like after hearing it. My mom is like that. She loves shows, she loves performances of any kind. She doesn’t listen to metal music. But she has a lot of fun, and we perform nearby, she enjoys every single band there. Of course, you can think ‘oh it’s your mom, she came to see you,’ but she really, genuinely is checking out everyone else as well. I’ve seen that many times, and it should be vice versa. For metalheads to listen to other genres that are different.
Dead Rhetoric: Are there places that you aren’t willing to go as a band or do you feel like most things are on the table, within reason of course?
Scissorhands: No, not at all. Play around and feel free. I don’t think there should be any limitations when it comes to sound. Get into everything and try it out. If it feels right, it belongs there.
Dead Rhetoric: What stands out to you about Time, as your newest album?
Scissorhands: Definitely the change in line-up, it stands out a lot. Even though Alice joined us while we were already recording the album, she didn’t have any part of the composition of it, she did record five songs when she joined. But the feeling in the band, everything that was happening at the time, it brings me back. Also, I feel like I like to look at this album as it’s own little recap of everything we have done before and what we are now, thanks to what we have been through and what we have given to people already. It’s almost like a recap of the five albums and one EP that we were able to give to people over the years. So literally time – our time, in the music as well as human beings in this project.
Dead Rhetoric: Infected Rain has had to really work and showcase yourselves to make it in front of a larger audience and be more successful. What are you most proud of in coming as far as you have?
Scissorhands: All the achievements that we were able to have. And when I say that, every single show is an achievement. Even if no one new discovers you, you’ve proved to the listeners that are there for you why they are still there for you. So that’s a very important achievement. Musicians have to keep doing that, in order to remind their fans and listeners why they are there, and why they need you, in a way, emotionally. Music is so connected to your emotions. It’s literally the best designed vehicle for emotion.
So of course, we have had very big milestones that made a difference in our career, but honestly they would never happen if we didn’t do every single small show before that and played in front of small audiences. Some artists, in some genres, can skip those steps and become really big, really fast out of nowhere, but that’s rare. It also doesn’t teach you much. I mean, good for you, but there is some sort of learning and growing by doing the smaller steps. This morning, I saw a drawing online of two people. One side had the person going up normal steps and the other they went up big blocks. But the destination was the same, so which one would you choose? I would still choose the small steps and go little by little, enjoying every bit of it.
I was taught, since I was small, since I was very passionate about sports, and I was pretty good at it too so there was the satisfaction it was giving me. I was told by trainers and even my mom, that it’s not about the goal or winning, its about having fun during the process. Having fun during the training, the exercises, because I would often be very disappointed and down, because some things don’t come very easily. I was always the shortest and smallest out of everyone, and I thought it was a disadvantage. I learned that wasn’t necessarily true, but I was a child then and didn’t know that. So enjoy the process. It can be painful, it can be annoying and long, but eventually you will be happy you went through it so that you know better.
Dead Rhetoric: So what sports were you playing growing up?
Scissorhands: I tried different things, I was into gymnastics a lot. In fact, I was kicked out because of my height. My trainer actually told me not to come to the finals, and that no matter how good I was, I wasn’t going to pass because I was too short. I don’t remember the name of the gymnastics event, but all the girls were much taller than me. So I tried a different type of gymnastics where you dance with different things [rhythmic gymnastics] – there was music as well.
The first stuff I did was more like pull ups and flips, and then the second one was more like dancing on a mat – still doing more flips but it was more feminine. Which I liked, but I wasn’t as passionate about it at the time, so I didn’t end up doing it much. I got a taste of it but I didn’t stick around with it long. I played basketball for a little while and I was the shortest. I did it because my teacher insisted, since I was really good at sports. I liked it – I had fun, but i felt I had a lot of disadvantages. Then I did Tae Kwon Do and I was the only girl. So I’ve done a few things.
Dead Rhetoric: Jumping back a little what you said before, which I totally agree with, why do you feel that music is the best vehicle for your emotions?
Scissorhands: In my case specifically, I feel like music really saved me and taught me a lot. As a teenager I was very passionate about music and listening a lot – trying to dissect all the lyrics and figure out what people were trying to say. I was very passionate about that, even though I did not speak the language as well. At the time, the only way you could translate it was with an actual dictionary and looking up words. You couldn’t just copy/paste lyrics like now where they will give you a translation. Because of this passion, I started writing ideas down and poems, which slowly led to me understanding how people feel when they compose. I like that process.
I think music can be the soundtrack of our life. Depending on what we are going through we surround ourselves with a certain kind of music. Sometimes it’s not even on purpose. We listen to a certain type of music when we are sad, or go to the gym, or we cook, or shower. Then it becomes a reminder of our path. I often have songs that I come across that I hear and think, “Oh my god, I remember going to school listening to this,” and it was such a long walk from home to school – I would often be able to listen to the whole album on the way. It’s almost like an epiphany in some way and I love that sensation.
Dead Rhetoric: What do you feel you learn from other bands when you go out on tour?
Scissorhands: We learn a lot. I don’t want it to sound wrong or like I’m bragging, but I feel like because of the life I have been through: the quality of my life and my upbringing, I would always pay attention to things: how people move, how they carry themselves, what they say, when and how they say things. I learned a lot! It’s almost like a survival mode I had as a child, because of many disadvantages I had growing up. I learned to harvest whatever I can.
It helped me a lot in the career I chose before becoming a musician. I would always learn from my colleagues as a hair and makeup artist, and it helps a lot as a musician to go to shows and see things I should do or not do. Or seeing things and thinking – that happened to me a while back and I did not handle it as well as this artist now. Or just looking at the presence of someone – he/she keeps people so entertained, or I should try this or that next time.
But that doesn’t mean I am getting influenced or copying someone. We have to look around, otherwise we would be blind. Why would I make the same mistake I just saw someone else make? We still do it, but on the other side, why wouldn’t I learn from something beautiful I just saw. It doesn’t have to be done in the same exact way, but I try to keep notes: in my head or written down in a notebook or my phone. We have to learn this way – there’s no books or school on how to be a musician or how to do certain jobs. You just figure it out. Even if you go to school to be a doctor, they will take you certain things, but there’s so much more they won’t teach you that you have to figure it out. How do you do that? Either from making your own mistakes, or from learning from others that you around you.
Dead Rhetoric: I agree, and there’s a difference between learning something and copying something. You are taking advantage of your surroundings and adapting from them.
Scissorhands: Absolutely, I’ve learned from other musicians because I hadn’t been in a band before and they were. I asked questions and learned from them. I’ve asked people in the music industry questions, and sometimes people won’t share but some people share without care – they want you to succeed, they want you to do your best in the industry.
Dead Rhetoric: Sticking with the emotional piece, talk about the importance of emotions and catharsis in a live show.
Scissorhands: It’s a big deal with me, for sure. Everything I write about is about either things I have gone through or things am going through, or trying to still figure out. It might be about people that are around me, or situations or beliefs. So I chose that because I feel it’s the more raw me and the most real me that I can ever offer to people. I’m going to write about what I know, and what I know about emotions is what I am going to write about.
So some emotions get to me, and some shows more than others. We are often vulnerable emotionally, and sometimes you think something doesn’t bother you, but then another day you aren’t as emotionally strong and maybe something else disrupted your emotional equilibrium, that same thing that didn’t bother you a few days ago, now you can barely sing it. I was rehearsing for the upcoming festivals and the cruise, and I had to take a moment and cry and do some breathing exercises because some songs are still very heavy for me.
Dead Rhetoric: When you put yourself into the music like that, I can imagine you are having to revisit those old emotions – I can’t imagine doing that in front of potentially hundreds to thousands of people.
Scissorhands: I’ve had moments where I lose focus or cry on stage. I have been doing better, because I do these vocal and breathing exercises and it’s helped, because I am embracing that this is how I cure myself. I look at it as my therapy and my best medicine that I could ever have.
Dead Rhetoric: What are your plans for 2024?
Scissorhands: There’s a lot of exciting news. We will start with 70,000 Tons of Metal which we will perform on twice. It’s very exciting but I’m also nervous too because I’ve never been on a boat cruise before. A few weeks after that, we are starting the European tour with Dragonforce and Amaranthe. Then its time to prepare for summer festivals, and hopefully a really nice tour in autumn…maybe even two. We are trying to see if we can make it work. But we have a lot of shows coming up, the new album comes out in February, and a lot of music videos after that. There’s a lot going on!