Now You Know: Defy The TideSaturday, 21st May 2016
Location: Pittsburgh, PA/ Ohio Valley
Style: Melodic power metal with hints of metalcore
Personnel: Carly Simon-Warneke (vocals); Jesse Scott (guitars); Matt Friede (guitars); Greg Fristick (bass); Luke Tenley (drums)
Latest Release: In The Shadows I Shine, 2016 (Self-Released)
A popular refrain heard lately in social media postings decries the lack of new talent in the metal realm. To that this scribe says: action speaks louder than words, and if you are willing to seek you shall find more than enough high quality offerings. Popping up on the discover channels of Bandcamp, Defy the Tide are a quintet who in two short years have pulled together quite an addictive brand of melodic power metal through their two self-released EP’s: heavy and crunchier than their European counterparts, while also reaching back into a lot of classic elements that made this music special in the 1980’s.
After taking in copious amounts of the recently-released In The Shadows I Shine, it was mandatory to give the band more of a deeper look into their inner workings and goals – so enjoy this talk from multiple members of the group, and do yourself a favor if you love power metal to take in their material or live shows when you can.
Dead Rhetoric: Tell me about the formation of the band in May 2014 – as it seems that most of you already have seasoning with other bands through the years. How did those initial rehearsal sessions go – and did you know stylistically where you wanted to go or did things grow organically?
Carly Simon-Warneke: It’s rather serendipitous how we all started jamming. Things fell together pretty quickly after Greg and I started to throw around the idea of getting a band together. We used to be co-workers and we had both performed with bands in the past, but we had never played together. We decided it was time to start jamming again, and I got in touch with Jeremy Wright of Resistance 13. He put me in touch with their ex-drummer, Luke, and not long after put me in touch with Jesse, whom he had known for a long time. Jesse knew Matt; they had been jamming together for a while and had been looking for a project. So it was just a chain reaction, and we had a full band at our first practice session. As far as writing goes and how we began with that process, we all sort of had our own ideas on what the direction of the music should be, but I feel like we all approached it very open-mindedly.
For most of us, it was our first time meeting the others. Matt and Jesse had a lot of unused material that we tinkered around with and tweaked to all of our liking. We messed around with a lot of new stuff. Someone would play something catchy and we would just build on it with improvisation and then go back and refine everything. It was and still is an organic process for us, and we’re very fortunate that things have come together so quickly. We had some really strong chemistry with each other right out of the gate, and it’s been growing since Day 1.
Dead Rhetoric: Your first self-titled EP came out in that same summer – relatively quick for a new band I must say. How do you feel about the release at this point, as I can definitely hear some of the ‘metalcore’ leanings you talk about especially in the extreme male vocal parts (who does those in the group?), yet you possess a reverence and respect for classic traditional/power metal as well? Did any particular challenges/stories take place during the writing and recording sessions?
Luke Tenley: Considering the time frame, I would say it’s a solid effort. We had only been playing together for three or four months when we went into the studio to record the first EP. For some of us, it was actually our first time in a professional studio, and we had three days to record, mix, and master three songs. There was a bit of pressure to get everything right in such a short time, but we handled it. The screaming vocals and the keyboard parts on the first EP were done by Troy Carte. He and I used to be in a band together several years ago called Tormented. He was brought in to the mix about a month after we started jamming because we wanted to try out the option of having a keyboardist, and the screaming got added in here and there from both Troy and Carly.
We were still finding ourselves musically, and it was an option we explored because it was available to us. We’ve since parted ways, and our music has gone in a little different direction. There are still places in our new material where a good scream would fit right in, but it also works great if Carly sings a big note there. It’s a matter of choice really. If a scream feels like it’s the only option when we’re writing a song, I’m sure we’ll find a way to do it. Our writing has just taken us in a different direction from where we started.
Dead Rhetoric: The latest EP In the Shadows I Shine seems to veer even deeper into the power metal realm – do you think having another year or so together has made everything even more focused and cohesive, knowing each other’s strengths and skill sets for better songwriting and overall performances?
Jesse Scott: I think it goes without saying that the more you jam together and the better you know each other, the better the end result is going to be. Leading up to the recording of In the Shadows I Shine, we were all spending a great deal of time together. We were jamming two or three days a week as a full band, and we were hanging out with each other even outside of rehearsals and shows. We’ve all become incredibly close since recording the first EP, and we’ve grown together as musicians and as friends. It definitely adds something special to the mix, I think.
In regards to the new EP veering deeper into the power metal realm, I think that’s a hard question for any of us to answer. We all have vastly different influences, even within just overall “Heavy Metal”. Greg is an old school guy; Matt and I listen to a lot of European stuff; Luke likes hard rock and some metalcore; Carly is pretty much all over the place with musical taste. From the new EP, “Redemption” certainly has a lot of power metal influence in the guitars and vocals, but I think there’s a good deal of metalcore in both “Upon the Looking Glass” and “Leilah’s Salvation”. I think it’s hard to pin us down in one genre, and it’s never really been our goal as a band to write one specific style. We try to let everyone’s tastes and influences get into the mix, and we see where it goes.
Dead Rhetoric: How important of an asset is it to have a powerhouse vocalist like Carly Simon-Warneke fronting the group – as she opens up a lot of horizons through her melodies and multi-octave range?
Matt Friede: In all honesty, Carly makes Defy the Tide what it is. If we were doing these same songs with a different vocalist — male or female, clean or screaming — we would not be the same band. Nothing would be the same. Some of the riffs Jesse and I write are pretty complex; the parts are layered or harmonized or echoing each other. We’ve always kind of pushed ourselves to our limits when it comes to that, and half the time we can’t even think of how a vocal melody would fit into the mix with everything else that’s going on, but Carly always finds a way to pull it off. She really has a knack for finding a vocal pattern that both stands apart from and compliments the more complex guitar riffs we write. It’s a great asset for us as a band, and it would be very difficult to find that quality in another vocalist who would fit with us as well as she does. We all really click together and I would not want to replace any of us, but Carly is certainly the glue of the band.
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