Now You Know: GravitonSaturday, 2nd July 2016
Formation: March 2015
Location: Townsend, MA
Style: All about thrash, old and new.
Personnel: Taylor Scott (vocals); Cam Tidman (guitar); Yoav Ruiz-Feingold (bass); Anthony Medaglia (drums)
Latest Release: Fundamental Violence, 2016 (Self-Released)
Full on aggression, a whirlwind vocally and musically, best describes this northcentral Massachusetts thrash band. Two members of which- Cam Tidman and Anthony Medaglia – had previous ties to another Now You Know favorite, Seven Spires. Graviton though is all about packaging their kinetic energy outward through instrumentation and vocals that blow the hair back and channel massive angst or frustration into a sweaty concoction that leaves listeners breathless and dripping in exhaustion – smiling all the way.
Fortunate to grab the thoughts of three-fourths of the members for this feature, prepare to learn and experience more from these gentlemen in the coming months and years – as they aim to please audiences near and far.
Dead Rhetoric: Please tell the readers about the origins of Graviton – Did you know right from the start the type of direction you wanted the band to go in?
Anthony Medaglia: Cam, Taylor and I started jamming together around late March/April of last year. It was nearing the end of my time in school which was coinciding with the end of thinking of myself as a free agent as it were. Throughout my college years I had bounced around several projects and thought my career path would turn out similarly as a lot of colleagues had as well. That all changed in the early months of 2015 and I felt that really buckling down and committing fully to one project as I had with Cam and mine’s old thrash band Zero Point. I was also starting to get back in touch with an anger I had not felt in a long time so it was a natural progression back into thrash and all the many forms of extreme music to find an outlet for that aggression again. Cam and I had a pivotal jam together around February of last year, which rekindled our love of playing thrash together and reminded us of how great it was to play music that actually meant something to us, and that we could connect with more authentically. With the passion fully back we just needed to fill out the band and it was pretty incredible luck that Taylor had been showing an intense interest to Cam to jam with us. I remember the first time we jammed I was initially unconvinced but it was at the subsequent jam after that when Taylor sang “Ocean Planet” with us that I finally realized that he was something really special and absolutely needed to be in the band. In addition, our chemistry was insanely strong so we were able to accomplish a lot in those first few months to get a set ready by June.
Dead Rhetoric: Your debut EP Fundamental Violence came out recently – what can you tell us about the songwriting and recording process? Were there any particular surprises, challenges, or obstacles that took place?
Medaglia: Well you could say the songwriting process had actually started several years ago because “NGC 1277” and “Fundamental Violence” were already written when we started Graviton. Those songs were actually from a failed project we tried to get going called Hadean; which probably worked out for the best since there’s that progressive metal band around now of the same name. “NGC” was basically left untouched arrangement and riff wise but the entire melody for “Fundamental Violence” needed to be written and a few other tweaks were added over the course of incorporating it into this project. “Kill The Master” and “Thieves of Knowledge” were the first songs we all wrote together, both of which were insanely difficult to learn initially. If there’s one constant in our writing process, it’s always to be pushing ourselves to just beyond our perceived limitations so it forces us to constantly improve so we can play our own songs haha.
One surprising thing was that the actual recording process for Fundamental Violence was incredibly smooth. No matter what, our projects are always plagued by technical issues, some more obscure than others; but this time everything just fell into place and the whole tracking process took something like 3 weeks to finish. It has to be noted that every single guitar part is at least quad tracked and in some parts we added even more for effect, the same goes for vocals. At the very end of “NGC” there’s an unholy amount of guitar and vocal tracks happening, upwards of 16 individual tracks each for both guitar and vocals. It was a lot of work but a lot of fun and extremely rewarding on playback.
Cameron Tidman: As far as the song writing process goes I generally just start by writing riffs. Once I feel that I have enough solid riffs to put together a full song Anthony, Taylor and I will get together and figure out a structure that makes sense. After that I will usually send Taylor rough recordings of the riffs so he can start coming up with vocal ideas. Anthony and Taylor write most of the lyrics and I contribute some as well. The recording process for the Fundamental Violence EP took place in my and Anthony basements, with Anthony engineering everything. Drums were done at Ant’s place and guitars, bass and vocals were done at my place. I played all of the guitars and bass, Taylor did all of the vocals and Ant played all of the drums and programmed any synth parts as well as mixed and mastered the whole thing.
Taylor Scott: I had a great time recording these songs, a lot of emotion went into the songwriting and recording of this EP. It was a challenge between the three of us really. Once I heard how precise Cam and Anthony’s tracks were, I knew I had to put everything I had to truly create a masterful piece. We were also giving each other a lot of great inspiration through the songwriting process, it was amazing how much we evolved in such a short 10 months. Also, we had a bass player last summer shredding with us named Frank Taylor, he had some really great ideas for “Kill the Master” and “Thieves of Knowledge”.
Dead Rhetoric: Would you say the band draws inspiration not only from the classic thrash movement but also the newer breed of bands – and is it difficult to generate fresh riffs given the 30 year plus history of thrash?
Medaglia: Absolutely, you cannot play the type of music we do and not have direct inspirations from that golden era of thrash, by the same token you also cannot achieve our sound without an awareness and love for modern heavy music. Therein lies the key to finding fresh sounds; if you’re locked into one sound or one era of music, then that’s the only sound you will achieve. It’s only once you start blending all these sounds and ideas together that you stumble upon something new that can be uniquely yours. I think it’s essential that you constantly expose yourself to new music, and that new music doesn’t necessarily have to be modern, which I think a lot of newer bands should more often consider. There are great lessons and inspiration to be found in the music of Elvis and Little Richard for instance, I’ve been very into them recently. Having a strong knowledge of rock and subsequently metal history is critical to forging fresh ideas. How can you know where else to go if you don’t know where you’ve been?
Tidman: The band certainly draws inspiration from the classic thrash bands, they paved the way for what we do and their importance is impossible to ignore. The first stuff we jammed when the band formed were Metallica and Megadeth songs. Within the metal realm our influences come from much more than thrash, genres such as death metal, black metal as well as stoner, doom and sludge metal have all made a mark on our sound. But we all also draw influences and inspiration from a very wide range of music. I know I can speak for Ant and myself when I say that Rush has had a huge influence on how we play and our approach to song writing. I’m also a huge Ramones fan which has had a certain amount of influence on me. The newer breed of bands have also had a major impact on us. Bands like High On Fire, Mastodon, Lamb of God, Gojira, Revocation and Warbringer as well as many others have all inspired and influenced us. It can definitely be difficult sometimes to come up original sounding material, but that’s where I think having such a vast array of influences is very helpful. I channel all of my influences through my thrash sensibilities and that usually works for me.
Scott: The band draws a lot of inspiration from a lot of sources. We all grew up with early thrash and classic rock roots, we have many distinguishing sources that we portray when we play our own music. I can say that I draw from more of a modern level of metal vocals and singing. Bands like Pantera, Goatwhore, Gojira, Warbringer and Lamb of God are bands I look to vocally that help me practice certain skills, in not only the screaming aspect but the endurance and monotonous tones some of these singers execute. Also I want to bring a different style to thrash and leave my own imprint to blacken the style that we already have.
Dead Rhetoric: How would you describe Graviton live in comparison to the studio? And please tell us about some of your favorite shows to date – as I would imagine opening for Warbringer and Enforcer recently boosted the profile of the band?
Medaglia: On recording we try to capture as much of our live energy as much as possible. Our sound calls for more production than just capturing 4 guys playing in a room together however, so we’re not afraid to add as many layers and certain production techniques as is necessary to achieve the sounds that we’re going for. We don’t take it the point however where we can’t replicate what we’ve recorded live, that is absolutely essential to us. If you have significant portions of your arrangement being played in a backing track to make the song functional then what’s the point of even playing live? We take a very Rush approach in that sense, all auxiliary sounds that you’ll hear at a Graviton show are triggered live with my sound module; and the important thing is that the songs will still sound fierce even if we have to forgo them to make the show run smoother. A Graviton set though is all about energy and intensity; volume, precision, note density, and showmanship is all done at maximum capacity every show. We strive to make it feel like sensory bombardment for the duration of our set so that you come away feeling like you’re not quite sure what you’ve just witnessed but it was undoubtedly a fantastic ride.
As far as favorite individual shows are concerned I’d have to say it’s a toss-up between that Warbringer show and playing the New England Metal and Hardcore Festival. The Warbringer show was our first high-profile gig playing with a legendary band that was extremely influential to us, not to mention the crowd was insane and everything that day had just gone so smoothly. Playing NEMHF though was especially sweet since we won our way onto it alongside our great friends Epicenter. I’ve wanted to play NEMHF since I first got into metal and I’ve always held it as this sort of unattainable goal only reserved for the very best metal bands. So to be able to play that show within our first year of activity was something I had never even considered, so that was a real dream come true.
Tidman: Graviton live is a full on loud, fast, tight high energy metal show. We actually made a conscious effort to make our sound on record as close to our live sound as possible, so we didn’t do anything in the studio that we can’t pull off live and recorded the songs pretty much exactly the way we play them live. We used the same gear we use live and used all real performances by the band members. One of my favorite performances was definitely the Metallica cover show we did for Halloween. It was a lot of fun to pay tribute to a band that essentially made what we do possible. Another favorite show of mine was our most recent show opening up for Warbringer, I’ve been a fan of Warbringer since I was in high school so sharing a stage with them was a huge honor. It was also a big crowd and people seemed to really be into what we were doing. I would say that playing with Warbringer has definitely boosted our profile as a band.
Scott: I find playing live just like band practice. We give it all we have and leave nothing in our pockets. When we’re up on that stage, it doesn’t matter if there’s two people sleeping in the audience, we have incredible energy and connect with the crowd very well. We want our live shows to have as much energy as possible while keeping the audience on their toes and forever banging their headed. Our first show is one of my fondest memories. I think opening up for Warbringer at the Palladium was easily one of the most memorable nights of my life. Just talking to John Kevill blew my mind, such a genuine guy and an amazing frontman.
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