Friday, August 09, 2013

Interview with Serpent Crown's guitarist/vocalist Dara Santhai

Serpent Crown's Dara Santhai and Dave Dinsmore.
Recently I had the pleasure of talking with Serpent Crown's lead vocalist/guitarist Dara Santhai. If you haven't had a chance yet to read my review of their new self-titled release then be sure to check it out at the link below this interview.

 Andy- First things first I just want to thank you for taking the time to answer a few questions for us. Could you tell us how it was that you and drummer Will Carroll first met up and how Serpent Crown first got off the ground?  

Dara-We were friends for a number or years and had a lot of similarities in our visions about music and what we enjoyed musically so I thought it would be a good match.  Will is definitely a musician who is very oriented towards song structure even though he likes a lot of extreme metal, and I felt that would be a good precedent for the band.  I wanted to do a project that was riff driven with the foundation of technical double bass drumming, and Will had the skills to pull it off.

Andy-Serpent Crown was not your first group correct?

Dara-No I had two others, Ravana, my first band ever.  Started it two years after I first learned to play guitar. Than Santhai. I'm kinda embarrassed that that band was named after me but none of my bandmates seemed to like or be able to pronounce the other name ideas I came up with.   

Andy-Have you always had an interest in heavy metal?

Dara-I started getting into metal when I was in middle school.  At first it was mostly more mainstream stuff like the Scorpions and Van Halen, but one of my friends introduced me to thrash.  The first "extreme" metal albums I listened to were Show No Mercy by Slayer and Beneath the Remains by Sepultura.  I think I felt a little scared when I first heard them but then I was sold, and things went on from there.

Andy-You were born in Manila correct? Did you spend time there as a child or did you move here to the States early on?

Dara-I was born in Manila, my grandfather had a business there.  I grew up traveling and lived in 7 different countries by the time I was twelve, and my dad did NOT work for the Military.  I moved to the USA when I as around 17, and it was major culture shock for me, I had a hard time figuring stuff out at first. I was pretty much a foreigner except that I spoke English.  

Andy-Besides playing in heavy metal bands you've got a background in the fine arts. I would assume that plays into your day job correct?

Dara-Unfortunately I don't do anything artistic for my day job right now.  For a while I was making some money doing commissioned artwork, and prop fabrication, but that got too stressful for me.  Now I only do artwork for my band.

Andy-In fronting Serpent Crown you've got such a forceful delivery. Did you ever have vocal lessons or is that just how you roll when a mic is placed in front of you? 

Dara-I did a lot of singing growing up.  One of my first singing role was when I was six years old. I was cast  because I could scream the loudest.  I was supposed to be this farmer's wife who was screaming because these birds ate our crops, and I had to yell, "Oh dear our crops have disappeared, whatever shall we do?"    Obviously I enjoyed screaming at an early age.  I did a lot of musical theater as a kid and I was cast in a lot of solo roles not because I have exceptional vocal skill, I was still pretty good, but  I could sing in tune and most importantly I could project.  I also had no fear and LOVED being on stage.

Andy-Your self-titled EP covers a lot of ground from hardcore to Bay Area thrash. What are some of your favorites bands?

Dara-My favorite bay area bands right now are High on Fire, Black Cobra, Exodus, Necrot, Pale Chalice.

Andy-On the EP you've got bassist Dave Dinsmore, formerly of Bl'ast, LAB, Che, and Unida, as well as Will Carroll of Old Grandad, Cutthroats 9, Scarecrow, Vicious Rumors, and Machine Head (not to mention being the touring drummer for the Bay Area's own Death Angel!). Between the three of you that's one killer line-up! Was there ever a moment during the recording of this EP where you stepped back and thought about all you've achieved?  

Dara-Well, it's been such a hard long road getting our album released I never really looked at it that way. Sorry if that sounds bad.  It's been very hard simply to get our material out there, and then to have the opportunity get up on  stage to perform, which is what makes me most happy. BUT I am glad to have had the experience with working with talented top notch musicians, I've learned so much from all of them!!

Andy-Now, while Will Carroll did play on the EP (doing a bang-up job in the process!) he sadly had to bow out of future live shows due to his commitments as the touring drummer for Death Angel. Upcoming Serpent Cr
own shows will feature Mike Jochimsen (Apocryphon) on the drums correct?

Dara-Yes, Mike's been doing a great job.

Andy-Are the upcoming shows limited to the West Coast or is there any plans to travel East? 

Dara-So far we only have west coast dates but I am planning to go East.

Andy-So far who are some of the bands you've shared the stage with?

Dara-The Accused, Black Cobra, Holy Grail, Witch Mountain. Insanity, 16, Jucifer, Slough Feg, Grayceon, Totimoshi, Lord Dying, Black Tusk, Zoroaster and Dark Castle.

Andy-Wow, that's a pretty cool list there (especially The Accused who I absolutely love!). Are there any bands you'd like to play with if you were given the chance?

Dara-So many,  I don't even want to say.

Andy-I can understand that. So, besides touring behind this EP what does the future have in store for Serpent Crown?

Dara-We just need to solidify some lineup stuff before we embark on our next tour, but I've been working on new songs so by the time it comes to do a new recording we'll have a bunch material and can actually produce a full length this time.

Andy-There's no doubt that your fans will be clamoring for a full-length release! For now though where can people pick up a copy of your self-titled EP?

Dara-They can purchase it here:

Or just come out to one of our shows.

Andy-Is there anything else you'd like to add before we wrap things up? I always like to give the artists and bands the last word.

Dara-Just stoked that more people have been checking out the album and there is some interest in what we're unleashing upon the world.

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