Recently I had the pleasure of interviewing traditional heavy metal act Sinister Realm. I would like to thank the fine folks at Shadow Kingdom Records for making this possible. If you have not had a chance to read my review of their new album then please see the link at the bottom of this interview.
Andy-Introduce yourself for everyone. Whose who in Sinister Realm?
John Gaffney- My name's John Gaffney, I'm the founder of Sinister Realm, I play bass and write all the music and lyrics. Alex Kristof is our vocalist John Kantner is our guitarist whose been with us since our first CD and Chris Metzger on drums and John Risko on guitar came on board shortly after we recorded our first CD.
Andy-Could you tell us how the band was formed?
John Gaffney-I formed the band in late 2008 with drummer Darin McCloskey. We used to play in a band together called Pale Divine. When I left the band Darin asked me if I wanted to record some of the songs that I had brought down to Pale Divine but never used. As we started working on stuff we realised the stuff was sounding really good and that we should get a proper singer. I found Alex who was singing in a local metal cover band. The three of us recorded a 4 song demo and got a good response on some forums and a few labels showed interest in what we were doing. We added our guitar players and recorded a full length in 2009. Now we have just released our second album "The Crystal Eye".
Andy-That is one sweet ass name. Where did it come from?
John Gaffney-Well...anyone out there in a band knows how hard it is to come up with a band name as it seems every name in the English language has been used already. I really wanted a name that screamed classic 80's metal and had a dark vibe to it. I was reading a magazine that was talking about 80s metal bands and it said that they would often sing about dragons, castles and sinister realm's, I immediately thought it was a cool name and ran to my computer to check to see if anyone else had used it, to my surprise no one had so I claimed it as our own.
Andy-I hear a lot of Dio in your music. Who else was an influence?
John Gaffney-Classic early 80's metal bands like Judas Priest, Ozzy (first 5 albums), Black Sabbath, Savatage and I also like doom metal especially Candlemass.
Chris Metzger-I have been influenced by many bands. I carry over my influences from KISS, Iron Maiden and Judas Priest into Sinister Realm.
Alex Kristof-Dio changed my life! I'm honored that people are hearing the impact Dio's voice has had on me.
John Risko- Personally, my first rock influence was Ace Frehley (KISS Alive!), then Judas Priest...Tipton and Downing & the whole band had a big impact on me.
Andy-What is the metal scene like in Pennsylvania?
John Gaffney-I think it's pretty good actually, especially in our town there are a number of places for original bands to play and there are people who seem to like classic metal here. Of course it's a bit more money in being in a cover band but it's probably like that everywhere.
Chris Metzger-The metal scene is growing back to what it was. More people are starting support metal bands, but not just fans from the 70's and 80's. Fans in their 20's are also starting to come to shows.
John Risko- Alive and well...hell yeah!
Andy-How has the fan response been to the new album guys?
John Gaffney-So far it's been really great! people seem to like it.
Chris Metzger-So far, so good. You can see the progress the band has made and it shows in the second album. And from what I have heard, everyone who has listened to it would agree.
John Risko- Just about every comment I've gotten about it has called it a "step up" from the 1st one, whether it's in terms of the songs/songwriting, the playing and performances or even the "overall" sound of it.
John Gaffney- Right now were playing a lot in our area but one of our long term goals is to do some small tours and go over to Europe.
John Risko- I love the road!!! bring it on \m/
Andy-Black Sabbath with Ozzy or Dio?
John Gaffney- Impossible for me to answer as I love them both equally but with Sinister Realm I would say Dio era is more of an influence.
John Risko- Depends on my mood, both are excellent eras for the band.
Andy-Judas Priest or Iron Maiden?
John Gaffney- Another impossible question..haha..but if you force me to answer I think I would say Maiden.
John Risko- Judas Priest got to me first so...Priest.
Andy-Any favorite young bands?
John Gaffney- There's a progressive metal band from our area that I really like called Necromance, their guitar player Jeff Teets is amazing.
John Risko-Avenged Sevenfold, Black Veil Brides, Buried At Dawn (local), Silhouette Lies (local).
Andy-What would a dream tour be like for Sinister Realm?
John Gaffney- I'd love to tour with Candlemass all over Europe and Scandinavia.
Chris Metzger-Touring with Kiss or Judas Priest
John Risko-Hmmm....big clubs/arenas? Playing with "big" name bands? Personally, just getting OUT THERE playing and bringing the music live to people who appreciate it....meeting new bands and cool people....that's livin' the dream, right there.
Andy-The new album shows growth and quite a bit of maturity. And yet it still sounds like Sinister Realm. How would you describe your sound to those who have never heard the band?
John Gaffney- I always describe us as a traditional metal band in the style of Priest, Maiden, Sabbath, Dio and Ozzy with some doom influences from Candlemass.
Chris Metzger-I think we sound like a melodic Judas Priest. The music has the heaviness and drive, but the vocals have more harmonies and hooks. John Gaffney is an incredible song-writer.
Andy-What does the future hold for Sinister Realm?
John Gaffney- Hopefully getting our music out to as many people as possible, keep growing and keep playing live, hopefully with a trip to Europe in our near future.
Chris Metzger-Things can only get better. We are all professionals and take this band very seriously. The sky is the limit.
Alex Kristof-Hopefully Sinister Realm becoming a house hold name, the future is Sinister Realm.
John Risko-More touring I hope and a 3rd CD.
Andy-Thanks for the time. Any last words? The stage is all yours.
John Gaffney- Thanks for the interview, please buy our CD and look for us on the road..and Long Live Heavy Metal!!
Chris Metzger-Thanks to Alex and John x 3 for bringing into the Sinister Realm world! Metal Forever!!
Alex Kristof-Thank you so much for supporting Sinister Realm. Thank you to our great friends and fans all over the world, we love you.
John Risko- Looking forward to the ShoD XI festival and meeting up with friends we made on our Midwest tour....and hearing some new bands, awesome music, and meeting a shit-ton of cool people!!! The road RULES!!!! \m/
(Review of Sinister Realm's latest album The Crystal Eye)