Xenophile- Accelerate the Initiative Part I

Tuesday, 11th October 2016

Dead Rhetoric: It also seems like the lyrics are as well thought out and constructed as the music. Which comes first the development of a Xenophile arrangement – the music or the words/melodies? Also, where does the band gain a lot of the lyrical content/influences from- a mixture of real world content plus history/fantasy stories, or other areas?

Pavlik: Thank you, first of all. The music comes first, usually in the form of ‘let’s write a straight-forward thrashy song’ or ‘let’s make something inspired by Cynic’. Then we throw around ideas for songs until we find a topic that fits the sound. Sometimes we’ll all sit together and write lyrics, combining ideas scribbled on a notebook whilst camping at a table in a diner, or we’ll write them at home and present them at practice. Either way, it’s a very democratic process.

Lyrically, I think we don’t like to repeat ourselves, but we absolutely get influence from history
(“Forgotten Holocaust”, “Systematic Enslavement of Consciousness”). I enjoy writing about fantasy, religion, and just angry, fun subjects. I leave the super serious/ philosophical, cryptic lyrics to the other guys. For example, the last idea I had for a song’s subject matter was Aku from Samurai Jack, so a little bit of that Anthrax style appreciation for geek culture finds it way in there.

Iglesias: I feel like most of the time, the music comes first but there have been plenty of situations where the lyrics and music had already co-existed just not yet been applied to one another. If I’ve ever written lyrics, I usually just write without a particular song in mind and then later if they’re needed, we’ve tried to apply them to a song. Most of the lyrics were a collaborative effort though. I remember early on, Leart, Matt and I and even past members such as Dane, Derrick and Roy would sit down and work on lyrics. Anthony prefers to sit out on writing lyrics however and likes to focus more on the instrumentation. As I mentioned earlier, Roy contributed all the lyrics to “In the Ruins,” and there are numerous lyrical contributions from Marc all over the album. Sometimes it’s also a matter of who’s on a roll with lyrics as well. Leart might go home and write lyrics and bring them into rehearsal and if we all like them, then we will use them. But most of the time I feel that it has been collaborative. We’ll usually agree on a subject and go from there. Sometimes I’ll write a stanza and then Matt will have one and then Leart and before you know it, we have a whole mess of lyrics. Then if we are working on a particular song that doesn’t have lyrics, we’ll try them out there and that’s a lot of fun to me because you get to play around a lot with vocal rhythm and rhyme schemes or taking certain words out and it just comes together really well.

The subject for a song really can vary too. “Scorching the Skies” for example is pure fantasy as far as content goes and that was mainly Leart’s choice. He had the concept for an ostracized man to transform into a dragon and take vengeance and it doesn’t get any more metal than that so of course we went with it. He composed most of the lyrics for it as well and cites Dio as huge inspiration for it so it really goes to show you that anyone of us can be inspired by a certain subject and go with it and receive contributions from the other members as well. In terms of specific themes though, we really don’t focus on one area. We have drawn a lot from fantasy because I think there is a certain fun in storytelling and taking inspiration from myths and legends but we’ve also written a lot on subjects like anger, history, reality, injustice, loss, death, life, war and some religious subjects as well.

Dead Rhetoric: Drummer Matt Pavlik recently returned to the band (he recorded the drum tracks with the band on the album before departing) to replace Marc Pappalardo, who had to step down to the issues relating to his family’s health. What exactly took place for Matt to first leave and then come back- did you always remain good friends even in the interim?

Pavlik: This was hard for everyone. I left partially because the band seemed to be stagnating while waiting for the release of the album (playing the same venues to the same crowd over and over), and I was in a tough financial situation wherein I was clinging to a crappy job in fast food. Eventually my playing suffered from working 60+ hours a week, and I fell into the trap that regular jobs set up for you. While I was away, however, I remained in very close contact with everyone, and I know the word “manager” was thrown around a bit, though I never wanted that. My financial situation changed, and I just wanted to help out my friends, which I did by finding the artist for the album and new logo, actually ordering the CD’s and arranging the 2 music videos, most of which I funded out of pocket. Even when I thought I had to do something else for the rest of my life, I never stopped believing in Xenophile or wanting to see it succeed.

Iglesias: Matt remained very close with the band during the interim between his leaving and returning. He was actually very helpful in helping to get the necessary materials together in order to get Systematic Enslavement out as well as even being on the lookout for some good show opportunities for us as well be it with his other band Psilocybe or just in general. Matt initially left due to a situation with his then current job in which he was a manager and they were requiring a great deal of his time so he felt it necessary to leave leading of course to Marc’s return. Not much later Matt’s situation improved but Marc was a full committed member. After about a year with us, Marc found that a lot issues dealing with his family taking up a great deal of his time and had talked to us many times about the situation as it was affecting him and his playing he felt. We all sat down to have a discussion about it which finally ended in the decision for Marc to leave. For me personally, it was a very difficult moment given the fact that I had been playing in bands with Marc basically from when I was 14 and I wanted to see him overcome these struggles. The decision in the end was made in what was the best interest of the band.

Dead Rhetoric: You shot a performance video for “Suffer Unto Tyranny” at Dingbatz nightclub. What can you tell us about that shoot, as it seems like you were able to get quite a maniacal response from the audience patrons capturing the energy of the band… was it as fun and crazy as it looked from the stage?

Iglesias: The video shoot for “Suffer Unto Tyranny” was an awesome experience. I was so thankful for everyone who got involved in that. The way it worked was, we contacted as many people as we could who would be available for a couple hours that day to do the shoot. I know it seemed like a legitimate live performance but we actually did it in several takes to get as many good shots as possible. When we did break into the song though, everyone who stopped by really brought their best energy and took cues from the director, Eric DiCarlo, very well. Eric really did an amazing job and shot it in such high quality. He gave us so many options of different shots to take from it and edit into a complete video. He was amazingly professional. Dingbatz was also very awesome to rent out the space to us for the shoot as well. It really made me feel great and I’m sure I speak for the other guys as well, to see how much people cared enough and liked our music enough to come out and be a part of that process and to lend us their time and energy be it moshing, headbanging, pumping their fists in the air or just screaming and yelling. It was very humbling

Pavlik: Well most of the people in the audience were our friends, and the video’s director Eric DiCarlo really knows how to get a response out of people. I was in the audience for that shoot, and it was one of the most exhausting things I’ve ever done. I go to shows and mosh all the time but it was just constant. It was crazy fun though, and I think Eric did an amazing job.

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