Avalon Steel are an up-and-coming Heavy Metal band from America who play old-school Heavy Metal in the vein of Judas Priest, Van Halen, Diamond Head and early Metallica. I had a nice chat with their guitar player, Sean, who formed the band with his brother a couple of years ago.
Hey Sean, lets kick this interview off, how are you doing today?
I'm alright, it's been a long weekend. Unfortunately, my day is nearing it's end for me. It's just after 9 pm here.
Time to kick back until bed time, eh? Well lets get into it.
Tell me and the readers about Avalon Steel, who’s in the band, what style you play and how you got started.
Well, I, Sean, play guitar; my brother, Nick, plays the drums; the other Nick, plays guitar; and Zac does the vocals. So far I've written alot of the material, although Zac has his own material he's written as well.
I'd say we're a traditional heavy metal band, with some doom and thrash influences. Kinda like Judas Priest meets '82 Metallica or something. Very NWOBHM styled shit.
The band has been something that's developed over the past few years. It started off as just my brother and I, then we found a singer and bassist. That lineup lasted maybe less than a year. Found new singer, bassist, and another guitarist and it's been nearly the same since then ('cept bass). It's all about sticking to your guns and being patient. We're all high school kids, not many of our age like the same type of music so we have to hold on to what we have.
Interesting mix of styles there, mate. What bands would you say have influenced your musical style? What do you listen to on a day-to-day basis?
Personally, my influences are stuff like Van Halen (Eddie is my idol), Diamond Head, Slayer, Megadeth, Priest, Sabbath, Maiden... the usual shit, ya know? I try to have some songs that show off my interests.
I have a very eclectic taste. I'll go from rockabilly stuff like Stray Cats to something like Morbid Angel. I listen to metal a lot though, old USPM, trad, thrash, etc. I really love blues, the Mississippi Delta and the later boogie when they electrified everything. Celtic music is another thing, the old folk music and whatnot. I've attempted to pick up the bagpipes, my brother has gotten farther on me on those things though! I try to be open minded, but I usually maintain the "old schoolness" as I'm not too big on a lot of modern bands. So, in a nut shell... I listen to alot of different shit during the week. Music ADD, man!
Wide variety of interests and taste, that's what I like to hear!
Where are you guys from, what’s the music scene like there? Are there any up and coming local bands my readers and I should know about?
We're based in Charlotte, North Carolina in the "Good ol' " (Ha.) USA. The scene ... well lemme tell ya, it sucks for us. On one side you got these indie hipsters with there ukes and scarves, another with screamo kids and pig squeals, and then a lot of cover bands. The scene really goes up and down all the time. About a few times a year we'll geta good band to come and play, like Overkill and their ilk. The rest of the time? Meh. Punk does pretty decent however, The Milestone was a regular host to bands like Antiseen and Black Flag back in their heyday.
The metal scene is kinda tiny, but it thrives. Old metalheads come outta the woods when a bigger band comes to town.
Although, there's a few bands that I would think the metalhead crowd would enjoy. Final Curse is probably the most prominent thrash band around these parts, Pantera meets Exodus with a good dash of Slayer. Perpetual Nightmare is a pretty good death metal band, these guys play loads and they're about my age! And for the old school, breakneck speed thrashers, Nemesis. They're all about the evil and fast shit. Another band that has yet to grace the stage, Sleepless, they're thrash as well, but more in the '85 vein. Kickass shit.
Overall, a lot of these bands, including mine are all friends. If one of us has a show, most of the members of these bands will be at that show. We've got a small, close-knit scene. Everyone knows everyone.
Sounds like you guys have a pretty cool scene going on there, however small it may be.
Now, from what I understand, Avalon Steel has been working towards putting out their debut demo, what can you tell me about this upcoming release?
We've been on this a long time now. We've got a couple of tracks down, we've just gotta go back in and finish those off and add a few more. It's taking very long for us to finish due to everyone's schedule.The engineer/producer/recording guy is the father of a really good friend of mine, he's a hard guy to get free time with, but he's doing this for free so I'm not complaining. The guy has some good software, Sony Vegas, so it's not gonna sound like your old tape deck mics. It'll be "legit".
I'm hoping to get at least 5 tracks on this baby, some fast, some slow, a good variety. We'll probably end up streaming the thing on the internet, it's the best way to get stuff out there besides shows. I hate that it's taking forever it seems that we've been having an "upcoming demo" for a long time now, but we just have to wait. No need to rush, ya know? I don't want sloppy.
It sounds like you guys are really putting your hearts into this and taking your time to perfect it for yourselves.
Out of curiosity, have any members of Avalon Steel been involved in other musical endeavors? If so, what are/were they?
Yeah, this band is my life.
My other guitarist, Nick, was in a music program called Streetwise RockShop (formerly known as School of Rock until Pete Green came along). It's basically where people (ranging from kids to teens) can get outta playing in the bedroom and in a band. It's a neat little thing, we've played with them a few times. We've gotten a lot of members from that program, too. Teehee.
The rest of us? Eh, nothing stuck to really mention it haha.
I'd personally like to start a rockabilly band as a side project, or at least just a plain rock n roll band. But, Avalon Steel is my main focus.
It's great to hear you speak with such passion and enthusiasm about your band! I can really see that you have a real love for what you are doing.
Before we wrap this interview up, I was wondering if you have any memorable and/or funny stories and experiences from your musical career so far that you would like to share?
I remember this garage show we played back some time last year, I think we were invited to play some songs for the party... a NASCAR weekend party. The neighborhood was ironically really uppity looking, the nice houses and green lawns, so a squad of young metalheads didn't exactly fit in.
Anyways, we start playing, they're watching and I can see that we're all thinking "Do they like this shit?" We were playing stuff like Slayer and priest and whatnot. We only had about 40 min of material, it was a brand new band with a new lineup there was no time for learning a lot of songs. So it was kinda like "Quick, jam on something!" Nick starts a drum solo to fill in some time, and he's giving me some nods as he's trying to tell me soemthing, he was playing the Hot for Teacher intro. So, I come in and jam in the riffs on the song, noodle around for a solo and just totally BS'd the song. On the flipside, all the rednecks in the crowd were stoked, one of the guys ran up to his house and came back wearing a Joe Dirt mullet and screaming on the top of his lungs.
So it turned out to be a short, but good show. I didn't think we'd have a starting fanbase from NASCAR fans...
And another one… We were out at a gig, hanging around the back. We start walking around the back so we can get to the front. There was this old black guy at the corner of the building, at first I thought he was just standing there watering something.... and then I realize he's no gardener.. and that wasn't water. The fucking dude was taking a piss right in front of us! Didn't even bother to turn to face the wall or even go to a nearby bush. We turn the corner and everyone bursted out laughing. Old black man with his dick in his hand...
Some other stories we have are more like Spinal Tap issues, management getting mad at us and not lettings us play, or the fact that some just won't reach the light of day!
Great story, you guys should market yourselves as NASCAR metal!
What’s next for Avalon Steel other than the aforementioned soon to be released demo? Any shows, tours, or anything else we should know about?
Haha! Every redneck would listen.
We've got one small show next month. Hopefully more shows in the next few months, I'd love to try to tour around this summer, at least around the state or region. Depends on funding, we're musicians.
I'm working on designs on shirts (I do my own artwork), a change up from our older and simpler design. It's gonna be on a baseball 3/4 inch sleeve shirt. Pretty rad shit. And maybe some patches in the near feature... I'm thinking logo and biker style. But that's probably as far as it'll go, no Avalon Steel'd undies or coffee mugs. We're not KISS.
We're currently looking for a bass player as well. But we might just kidnap a scenie kid and force a metal inquistion.
I'm looking forward to get these gears turning.
Damn, I wanted a pair of undies and a beer mug! Haha.
Now to finish off, I want to thank you for doing this interview, I really appreciate it and hope you enjoyed this as much as I did. I am really looking forward to hearing (and reviewing!) Avalon Steels’ demo.
I’m gonna let you have the last word here, is there anything you would like to say to my readers out there in internet land?
Haha, maybe when we're bigger.
Don't be dicks! No, haha.
We're not wanting to be the next Metallica, we're not about reinventing the wheel, leave that to the sweater wearing proggy guys, we're just doing what we love.
If you're in a band, get to it and rock the fuck out! If you not, find one... or if you're just a listener, support those bands! AC/DC wasn't kidding, it's a long way to the top if ya wanna rock n roll. Blood, sweat, and lots o' beers goes into this. But it's worth it when you're out on stage and showing off the hard work you've put into it.