Lords of the Trident – Shadows, Swords, and War CriesTuesday, 11th September 2018
Dead Rhetoric: You also run the Mad with Power festival which recently took place. Discuss the concept, how you feel things went, and what you hope to achieve with this festival?
VonWrathenstein: Mad with Power Festival is our yearly festival in Madison, Wisconsin. It’s a celebration of anything power metal, thrash metal, stoner metal – any sort of metal with clean vocals for the most part is what we gravitate towards. Not to say that we aren’t fans of melodic death or anything like that, but this is more of a festival towards these sub-genres of metal. It’s only our second year doing this fest, and it was a great success. We were about 30 tickets away from completely selling out- we had something like 120 more people this year than last, and this year was an incredible success in terms of the strength of the bands. I had people come up to me and say they had never been to a festival with no filler bands – every single band could have been their own headliner of their own festival- and that made me smile.
The way that we started this festival. We have had some rocky starts with some of the bigger heavy metal festivals around the country. Ones in say Chicago and say Atlanta. We have been booked and then the booking agent would call us a couple of months in advance and sort of pull the rug out from under us, and they would book another band that would pay more and buy out the spot, things like that. That’s happened to us 3-4 times in the last couple of years. Dealing with promoters that run festivals that would say one thing and promise you something, and then take that promise away. This festival was built out of spite, okay fine- you don’t want to book us, and we will just make our own heavy metal festival and grow it to be bigger than yours and we will take all your people essentially. We are trying to make this as big as we can and make it as curated as we can. I like to hand select these bands – and they can rely on that filter if you will. It’s been really successful.
Next year we are looking at bringing it into a bigger venue, and we will add in more arcade games and more pinball games. That’s one of the things that separates us from all the other festivals out there- we have an equal focus on the live music and the entertainment purpose as far as lining the place with arcade games, pinball games. We draw on heavy metal people and arcade/pinball nerds like myself. There is a lot of crossover between the two populations and I think we are hitting that sweet spot where they have fun no matter what.
Dead Rhetoric: Have you noticed when it comes to the arcade and pinball games there seems to be a resurgence for a lot of music groups – now with Iron Maiden and Metallica getting their own pinball games?
VonWrathenstein: Yes, I think it’s awesome. There is a big surge right now- and this is from going to a few bigger arcade conferences over the years. There is a surge in indie arcade games, indie cabinets, and indie pins. There are diehard pinball heads that can make these amazing games – there is overlap in heavy metal with these people. An Iron Maiden pinball game makes perfect sense – and 90% of the people that I run into at arcade conventions love Iron Maiden or love heavy metal. It’s a match made in heaven in general.
Recently we had the opportunity and this is a really great honor for us to be included in a PC game called Coffee Crisis. I met the creators at one of these conventions, they had heard of us and they loved our music. They asked if they could add us in as NPC’s in their game – and I said absolutely. I think there is more opportunities out there for bands to get involved with gaming in general- especially with all the indie titles that are coming out nowadays, a renaissance of these independent gaming manufacturers and software designers. It’s a really good time for a band now who really loves video games to be alive, there’s a high likelihood if you make those connections and forge those friendships that you can be included in some pinball game or video game somewhere.
Dead Rhetoric: How would you describe your metal scene in Wisconsin and the Mid-West in general- do you feel you have proper support from the clubs, fans, promoters, and other bands in your area?
VonWrathenstein: In Madison for sure. This is not to toot my own horn. I don’t like to brag about my achievements, but we are the de facto metal band here. We get a lot of direct support from the venues, from the owners, from the music community here. A lot of people in Madison know who we are- in the general Mid-West too from say a five-hour drive radius, we do pretty good for a draw. Going back 8-10 years, there was a prevalence of sub-par death metal bands. There were a lot when we were starting to play- there was no band out there playing in our genre live in our area. Or there was one for every state. Whereas the death metal bands, you couldn’t trip over without finding one. We ended up playing with a lot of death metal acts at the very beginning of our resurgence. It was very interesting. Some of the death metal bands loved us, some of them hated our guts. Because they were super serious about everything.
Nowadays, in terms of the metal scene as a whole, we have a lot of death metal bands here, and I think people are starting to branch out into more traditional thrash, progressive is big now, jazzy djent is going on as well. Bands in terms of support from clubs and stuff like that, it’s very difficult to run a music venue and it’s still difficult to make any money performing live. Bands have to be really mindful of how they approach things- and see it from both the perspective of the club owner as well as themselves. Gone are the days where you could just book a band and there would be 200 people in a room just sitting around. That doesn’t happen as much anymore – there are new and better tools to get people out to live performances and get them away from hanging out and watching Netflix all night to get them out in the clubs again. There are very few bands who take advantage of that- when we perform we tend to do well, we tend to prioritize certain shows and events and I think that planning shows and the people who run the clubs know we aren’t a band who shows up and puts minimal effort into things.
Dead Rhetoric: Where did your fascination in Japanese toilets begin?
VonWrathenstein: (laughs). Oh my God! I’ve been over to Japan many times. The one thing that always stuck out to me about Japan in general – no matter where you went, and this held true when we were hiking up into the mountains, or these nature trails that were rugged and very few people traversed- you were greeted with the most technologically advanced toilets that mankind had ever seen! And the first time I tried one of these, it was so weird and foreign. The first time you get squirted in the butt with water, that’s an experience, man! (laughs). It’s making these noises, it’s whirring, there’s an air dryer and a butt massager, it’s just so crazy. I got carried away with the idea of everyone having these toilets in their house. The heated seat alone- in Wisconsin, the winters get kind of cold, and there’s nothing like waking up at two in the morning and sitting down on a frigid toilet seat to ruin the rest of your night.
When we got a permanent place to live, one of the first luxuries I said I would buy would be a Japanese toilet and be a beacon for Japanese toilet market in the US. And I am doing that, one band at a time, where they go home and say, ‘man – I hate pooping at home- I wish I was back at Fang’s house’ (laughs).
Dead Rhetoric: What’s on the horizon for Lords of the Trident over the rest of 2018 into 2019?
VonWrathenstein: I’m doing this as we speak- we are working on two more music videos. In total, the album will have six music videos that will be released. Our next music video is one that was shot in 360 degrees, and fully VR compatible. This will be meant to be watched inside of virtual reality. We finished editing that, we have another music video that will be completely CGI for the song “Tormentor”. Because there is no practical way to make a giant spaceship that destroys planets and mines asteroids other than through computer graphics. We should have all six music videos released by November or so. Maybe a little earlier than that.
We are working on a little mini-tour in the south with A Sound of Thunder, its going to be around Martin Luther King Day weekend in early 2019. A little bit before and after – 17th through the 19th. The big plans for 2019 is we are working on a Japanese tour, this will be the Japanese toilet tour (laughs). If that doesn’t work out, we are going to do a Euro-tour, trying to focus on Germany as well as playing a few festivals.
And basically just planning on doing our regular US tours. A lot of bands will do a big, massive tour after an album to go one-two months and hit a lot of locations. We’ve tried that before, and I’ll be honest with you, they don’t really work all that well for bands just because nobody is going out to see live music on Sunday, Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday- it’s mostly Thursday-Saturday. We’ve switched to going once a month picking a direction and do three to four shows in a span of a long weekend. What that allows us to do is rotate directions – go north, northwest, south, etc. Every six to eight months we hit the same venues but more people are coming out and expanding outward. And then we will have to write some more music after that.
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