Now You Know: EpicenterWednesday, 31st December 2014
Location: Pelham, NH
Style: Thrash… appreciating all facets of the old guard and the new breed.
Personnel: Zak King (lead vocals, drums); Ryan Burke (guitar); Jared Towne (guitar); Steve Foley (bass)
Latest release: Grab the Reins, 2014 (Self Released)
Hailing from the Live Free or Die state, Epicenter has been a local staple for quite some time, especially if you enjoy the thrash genre. I’ve been fortunate to catch this act in various local clubs as well as opening for some major shows through the years, and every time they leave the audience drenched in sweat through their steady, versatile riffing, quick hitting tempo changes and overall dedication to the cause.
Answering these questions as a collective, Epicenter are the type of band that certainly have paid attention to the trademarks of old in terms of speed and energy, but also acknowledge and incorporate some modern and technical aspects that help them appeal to the current generation of metal heads. So bone up on this information and then seek out their full length record Grab the Reins, as it is a thrashing effort sure to make you sweat out any stress or frustration in your life.
Dead Rhetoric: Tell us about the origins of Epicenter: how and when did the band form, what do you remember about the early days and did you know straight away what type of metal you wanted to play or did things evolve as you jammed out on covers and moved to original material?
Epicenter: We were sort of the classic middle/high school band. A few of us had lunch together and got to talking about music and what we like to play and it slowly took shape from there. We were heading in a very different direction when we first formed. We were pretty into power metal at the time and so our name was sort of an “Epic” pun. It was even spelled “Epik Senter” back in middle school, which is probably the most embarrassing name ever. We realized pretty quickly that we had no interest in being a power metal band. Thrash is where it’s at.
Dead Rhetoric: Your debut album Grab the Reins just hit the streets, and you worked with members of Lich King as far as artwork and recording between vocalist Tom Martin and drummer Brian Westbrook. How were the songwriting and recording sessions for this, were there any special stories or highlights that you remember?
Epicenter: I [Ryan] usually come up with a few riffs that go together to form the skeleton of a song. I’ll show the rest of the guys at practice and together we sort of whittle away at it until it has a solid flow of energy; it’s a pretty organic process. We’ve never really been a band to write things out on a program ahead of time or anything like that, though we’re experimenting with that a little bit for the next batch of songs. We want to keep the sound fresh and new so we’re open to new techniques.
Dead Rhetoric: Your style has elements of old school thrash for certain, along with additional modern elements without really leaning too modern, if you know what I mean. How do you maintain this see-saw balance between the old and new – is it something you are conscious of?
Epicenter: It’s something we’re very conscious of! We listen to boat loads of thrash, but we all listen to a pretty staggering array of other genres, metal or otherwise. We’re huge fans of the groovy metal out there as well and we love the idea of incorporating those ideas in with the classic thrash formula. We typically just write what we think sounds cool which ends up being a pretty even blend between different sounds.
Dead Rhetoric: You’ve played some great opening slots locally performing with Overkill, Testament, Flotsam & Jetsam, Anciients, Exmortus, and others – as well as a lot of great local shows. Describe Epicenter in terms of your live performance, and what you hope audiences get out of your shows?
Epicenter: We have sort of a strange line-up in the sense that Zach (our drummer) is also our lead singer, so we kick the energy up as high as possible to keep the show entertaining. We like to climb on things and bring lights to shows that probably don’t need such extravagant stage gear, but its super fun to us so we do it anyways. The name of the game is intensity and stage presence. If people just wanted to hear our songs they could buy the album; they come to see a show and that’s what we give them!
Dead Rhetoric: Being big fans of the thrash genre, what are 5 albums from all eras that you as a band can agree on that help fuel your own original music?
Epicenter: Havok – Time Is Up
Metallica – Master of Puppets
Megadeth – Rust in Peace
Pantera – Everything they’ve ever released
Gojira – From Mars to Sirius
Dead Rhetoric: What are your thoughts on the current state of the metal scene worldwide? And what types of goals do you set for Epicenter in the short term and long term as far as seeking out a record deal, management, etc.?
Epicenter: The metal scene is both low-key and totally booming at the same time. I feel that right now, metal is just beneath the surface of mainstream attention which means that it has some pretty impressive weight to throw around but it rarely gets stale and commercialized. That’s a pretty sweet spot to be in, in my opinion.
So far as record deals and managers are concerned, we’re pretty much handling everything ourselves for the time being. We’d obviously love to get signed to a label but we don’t want to rush into anything just to say that we have a record contract. We’re keeping our eyes peeled for options that really fit us.
Dead Rhetoric: How would you describe the personalities of each of the band members, and what do you think each member contributes to make Epicenter the unique group that you are?
Epicenter: We all have our own strengths and weaknesses when it comes to keeping the wheels turning. Zach is usually always looking for ways to kick us up to the next level of professionalism and efficiency in any way he can. That sort of thing really helps to keep the band tight and focused, especially when it comes to things like keeping track of merchandise orders and organizing studio time. Jared is essentially regarded as the most reliable one. He’s super dependable and together, which is incredibly important for keeping everything in check as a band on the move. Jared is also a hardcore gear head. He’s responsible for a lot of the choices that go into our tone and sound in general, and he’s always coming up with new ways to beef us up sonically. Steve is pretty new to the band but he’s super enthusiastic about the whole thing, which is fantastic. He’s already a pretty major player in the song-writing process and he’s very involved in the planning of our stage show. I [Ryan] do a lot of the writing and with keeping track of public relations and booking. I usually contact the promoters, bands, booking agents, etc. and organize meeting times, scheduling, and things of that nature. I also run our social media activity, for the most part. Together we’re a pretty well-rounded group, I’d say.