Destructive landscapes: an interview with John Gaffney of Sinister Realm

JG of Sinister Realm by Maria J Photography

Driven by an open creative passion and equally potent craft, World of Evil the recently released new album from US metallers Sinister Realm, emerged as one of the most refreshingly striking heavy metal genre releases of the year. Thrusting the listener into a world of muscular anthemic temptation and fiery melodic enterprise, the impressive confrontation from the Allentown, Pennsylvania quartet takes the bar for modern classically sculpted heavy metal up a few more levels. World of Evil certainly ignited a fire inside of The RR so we jumped at the chance to find out more about Sinister Realm and their Shadow Kingdom Records released album, as well as inspirations musically and lyrically, with the kind assistance of band founder and bass player John Gaffney.

Hi John and thank you for taking time out to chat with us here.

Thank you for the interview and for reviewing our CD!

Firstly could you give us some background to the members of Sinister Realm and what was the spark which brought the band to life?

Our singer Alex and drummer Chris used to be in a local original alternative metal band called Type 14.  John Risko and John Kanter are local guitar heroes that have played in a bunch of metal cover bands; Risko at the moment is playing in a metal tribute band with James Rivera from Hellstar.  I use to play in a doom band called Pale Divine.

The spark that brought the band to life was just a desire to make music influenced by the bands that really inspired us when we first discovered metal, like early Ozzy, Dio era Sabbath and Dio solo, Maiden, Priest, 1980-1984 classic metal basically.

How did the band founders originally meet?

Our original drummer Darin McCloskey and I use to play in the doom band Pale Divine.  I played with them for a few years and played bass on the “Cemetery Earth” album.   I landed up leaving due to some logistical issues and Darin called me up and suggested we work on some original ideas I had brought down to Pale Divine but never got to use.

What are the biggest inspirations to band and your personal musical creativity?

Classic early 80s metal like Judas Priest, Iron Maiden, Ozzy, Dio solo and with Sabbath, Mercyful Fate and Candlemass.  Personally, outside of music I’m influenced by the bands mentioned above as well as 70s horror movies, art and photography.

Traditional 80’s metal seeds and cores your sound and intent, do you feel there is still a wide expanse for the genre to explore without losing its original identity or is more about improving and revitalising existing scenarios within the scene for new and established bands?

I think there is still plenty of room for people to interpret traditional metal in their own way and add some of their own stamp on it.  With Sinister Realm we realise that we are not really inventing anything  per say but just putting our own spin on it.  We are not reinventing the wheel, we’re just blowing the dust off it a little and giving it our own spin.

I believe the band runs alongside real life for you all, does that bring the biggest obstacles to try and overcome, or is it a grounding for Sinister Realm by Maria J PhotographySinister Realm which helps keeps the adventure fresh?

Sometimes real life can be very inspiring and depressing all at the same time.  Even though our lyrics seem to have a lot of fantasy style subject matters, often the inspiration comes from real life experiences or observations I’ve made on the sometimes really messed up human race we belong to.  I enjoy fantasy imagery so often I cloak the meanings inside the lyrics so they can be interpreted however the listeners want.  Whenever I need some inspiration and need to keep things fresh, taking a look around at the world usually does the trick.

How easy is it to merge the live aspect and passion of the band into everyday life, especially one like yourselves which predominantly drives and works most of its own promotion?

The business end of the things can certainly wear you down, we have a lot of support from our record company Shadow Kingdom Records but we don’t have a manager or booking agent so we have to do a lot of that ourselves.  Playing live and getting an immediate reaction from people can be very inspiring so that along with the emails we receive from fans is what keeps us going.

You have just released your third album World of Evil, a release which for us is “a world of muscular anthemic temptation and fiery melodic enterprise” offering a riotous fun and passion fuelled enterprise which arguably has been lacking in the majority of recent heavy metal releases. I am not expecting you to disagree, ha-ha, but what were your hopes for the album and its effect on fans whilst writing and recording it?

With everything that we do we always hope that it will be received well but  when I’m writing the songs I try not to think about what other people would like, I try to just make sure it’s something that I like and in my gut feel is good.  We always try to make the best record we can at that time.  As for the effect on the fans, I hope that the music means something to them and bring a smile to their face and maybe a raised fist in the air.

How would you say your music and craft has evolved over the three albums to this point?

I’ve gotten better in the song writing and lyric department and the band has gotten better at playing together and bringing the songs to life.  Just like anything else in life, the more you do it the better you get at it.   I think in general the band has gotten better at bringing our vision to life.

Did you approach the writing and recording of the album any differently to your previous releases?

Not really but I always strive to get better and move forward.  With “World of Evil” I wanted the lyrics to get better and explore some different themes and I wanted to add some more epic moments like the songs “Ghost of Nevermore” and “Four Black Witches”.  As for the recording, we did it the same way as the first two albums; get the tracks down as quick as possible so we can spend as much time as we can on the mixing end.

392798_10151531206200851_1286640089_nThe album and song titles seem bred from the shadows and less savoury aspects of this earth and its inhabitants. This is the main inspiration for your ideas and songs generally as you touched on earlier?

Yeah I would say so; you don’t have to look very far to see evil in our world.

How does the song writing work within the band, and is there plenty of room for band interpretation and progression of songs and ideas or is it a more singular approach that you all run with?

I write all the music and lyrics then I demo everything out for the other guys, they take a listen and add their own personality onto the songs.  We bang them around in rehearsals until we feel comfortable with it and usually try to play the songs out live a few times as the final test.

Do you enter the studio with songs generally ‘finished’ or do you all like to stretch them further once in that environment?

Everything is completely worked out and basically finished before we get to the studio.  Unfortunately we don’t have the budget to leave anything to chance.  The only things that get added at the last moment in the studio tend to be keyboard overdubs and effects and things like that.  Sometimes I might get inspired in the studio and add an extra vocal harmony or something but for the most part everything is worked out in advance.

Some bands like to write songs and introduce and test their appeal live before recording and others the other way round. What is the usual routine for songs with Sinister Realm?

Well, like I mentioned above, we start with a demo, work it out in the practice room and then take it to the stage for the final adjustments.   In my opinion, playing live is how you really learn songs and make them your own, that’s why we always try to play new songs out live because you really learn them that way and they will sometimes take on a new life when you play them in front of a live audience.

Was there anything which emerged whilst bringing World of Evil to life which you intend to explore further in future releases?

The epic nature of songs like “Ghosts of Nevermore” and “Four Black Witches”; that is a direction I would like to continue in and explore more on the next record.

It is probably fair to say that you guys are more established in the US than in Europe, do you feel like us that World of Evil has the sr2ammunition to remedy that?

I hope so; I would like the record to reach as many places as possible.  Traditional metal is really strong in Europe so I would of course love it for us to make a strong mark there.

What comes next for Sinister Realm once the mighty World of Evil has stopped lighting up the world?

Playing live and some touring to support the new album.  We also have an EP that we plan to release ourselves early next year then we will start working on the next record.  I would like the next one to be out rather quickly, maybe late next year.  Kind of like in the old days when bands were releasing albums once a year, I would like to be able to do that.

Once again big thanks for talking with us, anything else you would like to share with the readers?

Thanks a lot for the interview and for supporting Sinister Realm and heavy metal.  Get the album at any of the Amazon stores, Shadow Kingdom Records or your preferred online metal distributor.  For more info on the band go to www.sinisterrealm.net

Thanks and long live heavy metal!!

 

Check out the review of World of Evil @ https://ringmasterreviewintroduces.wordpress.com/2013/08/06/sinister-realm-world-of-evil/

Questions Pete RingMaster

The RingMaster Review 17/09/2013

 

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

Listen to the best independent music and artists on The RingMaster Review Radio Show and The Bone Orchard from

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