Interview with To The Pain
Andy-We've got to start with the name. How did that come about? Who takes credit for that one?
Steve-Actually for the first time being in a band, choosing the name came pretty quick and easy. Mark came up with the name. We all kind of just looked at each other and said "done!" Its great because it has so many meanings. I mean there is the obvious Princess Bride reference, and it fits our style of music pretty well in my opinion. Props also to Johnny Intagliata for designing our logo.
Andy-You guys originally came up with the concept of the band when you were still teenagers right?
Steve-Johnny (editor's note: vocalist John Intagliata) and I were in a band when we were around 16-17 years old called Distorted Image. We played some local clubs, and schools. The only song so far that we took from that era was the song Silent Horror. I say "so far" because a few of the older riffs from that band are getting revitalized in some new material. Distorted Image broke up in the middle of recording our debut...so it was nice to get to jam again with Johnny, and lay down some of the old stuff.
Andy-From the sounds of it I was in high school around the same time as you guys (I graduated in 1992). I've always maintained that the music from that era was some of the best and that (creatively speaking) heavy metal and thrash peaked then. What's your thought on that time period?
Steve-I graduated in 1989, so I definitely get what you are saying. I loved the thrash from that era, but also liked the hair metal stuff. Being a guitar player, although the hair bands were cheesy, a lot of them had killer guitar players. But I also had a lot of friends who loved the thrash stuff. So I kinda liked both. Yes, I did catch hell for it! As for that era...well the metal thing was really just beginning when I was a teenager. Megadeth, Slayer, Testament, Overkill, that other "M" band, they were all just starting to find their ways, and put out some of their most classic albums. I remember hearing Kill Em All, and thinking, I don't know if I love this, but its definitely new and interesting. The band that really got me into thrash was Testament. I "got" them. Then I started listening to the other bands. I loved Skolnick's guitar playing. He is an amazing player, and a really nice guy too!
|To The Pain's Steve Shaver|
Steve-As I said, Testament was definitely a big influence on me because of Skolnick. I also love Megadeth, Overkill, King Diamond, Slayer, Kreator, I like Anthrax a lot with Joey Belladonna, they kind of lost me with John Bush. I loved Metallica's Ride the Lightning. After that I was kind of done with them. I know...Master of Puppets! I just never liked Lars' drumming. It drove me crazy.
Andy-Lyrically To The Pain covers a lot of ground. Who is the chief songwriter for the To The Pain and is the band as socially and politically conscious as the lyrics might imply?
Steve-I wrote all the music, except the middle section of Fuel Injected Nightmare. Johnny and I wrote all the lyrics. My original idea was for the whole album to be very political. I wrote out about 7 song titles, and just put them aside, all political. When I was ready to start writing some lyrics, the first song I actually wrote lyrically was Burn With Me. I had the Burn idea in the chorus stuck in my head.. That kinda was my experimental song to see if I wanted to keep writing more. I was pretty happy with how it turned out, and I went to my list of political titles, and decided I would write "A Good Revolution" and Johnny would write "For The People, Buy The People". I wouldn't say I am politically conscious. I just really hate the government and feel they have failed "The People" miserably. Its disgusting the way they work, and Johnny and I decided to rant on it. Silent Horror was about being buried alive...which was pretty cool for a 16-17 year old kid to write about. I think Johnny wrote that on vacation with his family back in the day. Fuel Injected Nightmare was all Johnny, and about his love of cars. City of Flames I wrote the lyrics to about 10 years ago. Johnny tweaked them a bit. The Smell of Sulfur/Rise of the Demons Johnny actually had a lot of lyrics for. It was kind of a long stream of consciousness thing. I arranged the lyrics on that one. The music to For The People was actually slated for those lyrics. But I read Johnny's lyrics, and thought we needed something slow, and Sabbathy. I think that was the one song he and I really hit the nail on the head. It came out better than I possibly could have imagined. Joey Lodes from Maelstrom laid down an awesome guitar solo on that one too. People who don't know who Maelstrom is should check them out on FB. Joey is one of the best guitar players around.
Andy-Introduce the band for us please. How did you find the missing pieces?
Steve-The band is myself on lead guitar, Johnny Intagliata on vocals, Jimmy Klimatas on drums, Jeremy Lustig on bass, and Mark Trojanoski on guitar as well. Originally this was just going to be a recording project for Johnny and I. But we thought the songs were pretty cool and decided to form a band. We were friends with Jimmy from high school, and he really is a driving force in this band. I don't know if this actually all gets to where it is without him. He is 110% all the time, and his enthusiasm is contagious. Mark and I played together in another band. He is a fun guy to be in a band with, he was an easy choice. Jeremy was someone I wasn't sure if he would be into the band. He is a lot younger than us, and of course has different influences. But I asked him one day to come jam, and here we are now! The key with all the band members was that we keep it fun, keep the drama to a minimum, and just have a good time. Plus they have to put up with me being a control freak. LOL
Andy-This question ties in with the last one. Is New York's heavy metal scene still kicking? Are their other local bands playing straight-up heavy metal like To The Pain does?
Steve-There are some amazing metal bands on Long Island. There are also some amazing metal fans on Long Island. The problem with the scene is the cover/tribute bands rule the roost. So the places to play are getting less and less. But you have bands like Cold Steel, Maelstrom, Plague Legion, and others still throwing it down. I am hoping with us getting going, Cold Steel returning from a long hiatus, Maelstrom releasing an album soon, as well as Plague Legion releasing their debut soon, that the 4 of us can wreak some havoc and help Long Island build its scene back up. Its been tough, but gratifying as well.
Andy-For a self-release album the production is spot-on. Can you tell us a little about the process you used when creating your debut-album?
Steve-Thank you very much Andy. It was definitely a labor of love doing the production on this! I had been dabbling in the digital PC recording realm for a few years. I wasn't sure if I was a good enough engineer yet to take this on. The good thing was that Johnny and I demoed a lot of the songs, so I was able to learn and make mistakes. We started recording it at my house on Sunday November 18th...and it took about 5 and 1/2 months to complete. I did about 95% of the engineering. Mark recorded his guitars at his place, and then I put it all together at my studio. Part of the problem of why it took us so long, is that there just was never a lot of time. With families and work and other responsibilities, it was hard to do. Bands spend more time on their drums than we did on the whole album! Jimmy recorded the drums to all 7 songs in 6 hours. that is blazing fast. I recorded my rhythm guitars in about 3 hours. It was a very hurry up and wait kind of deal. Mark and I mixed the album, and our friend Wayne Silver at the Ice Plant studio did a phenomenal job with the mastering.
Andy-How has the response been so far from fans and critics?
Steve-The response from the fans has been really great. Everyone has been super positive about the songs. Even our friends that aren't big metal fans dig some of the material. That to me says that we did a pretty good job of writing heavy catchy songs. Critics have been kind...so far! LOL
Andy-Has To The Pain generated any record label interest?
Steve-We have not heard from any labels. I don't know how interested we would be with signing with a label. There is so much out there you can do yourself, and we have a great PR company (Clawhammer PR) working with us. Never say never, but it would have to be a cool deal for us to sign with a label.
Andy-Are there plans to tour behind this album?
Steve-I think mainly our shows will be in the NY area. We would like to branch out and do a road trip here and there...but with families and jobs, its hard to get all that together. We would have to put together a good package of bands, so we don't just go somewhere and play to 11 people.
Andy-In an ideal world let's say that you had the opportunity to pick and choose who went out on the road with you. If you could then who would you love to tour with?
Steve-I would love to tour with Cold Steel, Maelstrom, and a Connecticut band Awaken. It would be a good mix of metal styles, you would get a lot of killer shredding, and I think all the bands would push each other to really be great.
Andy-Where can fans find out more about To The Pain?
Steve-You can check us out on Facebook at www.facebook.com/tothepainny and on ReverbNation at www.reverbnation.com/tothepain
Andy-Any closing thoughts or things you'd like to share about To The Pain that we didn't cover?
Steve-I just want to thank you for the interview, and definitely thank you for the kind words about our album. We really do appreciate it. I also want to thank the Painiacs, our fans, for coming down and kicking ass with us. Please check us out on Facebook, throw us some comments, let us know what you think about the album, good or bad. One last thing, please please please support live local bands. I know its hard to go out all the time and support local bands, but we really do this because we love making music, and it means the world to all of us when people come down, leave their troubles at the door, and have fun for a while with us. Thanks again for the interview Andy!