Greetings over there. First, allow me to thank you very much for taking your time to answer this interview. I deeply appreciate this. Could you, please, introduce yourself to our readers?
Hello, this is Charlie Monroy, guitarist of Rhadamanthys.
Your band, Rhadamanthys, is a fresh air in the metal scene, in my modest view, of course. I’ve read many positive opinions about your music. Well, I’d like to know a bit more about the band’s history, how and why did you start Rhadamanthys. What were the main problems that you had to overcome in order to found and keep this band alive?
Thank you, Markus.
Well, I’ve had several musical projects in the past, and when departing those projects I would lose tons of my material. I was tired of that, so I wanted to create something myself from beginning to end. My previous ideas were heavily diluted, and I wanted to hand-pick everyone involved in order to avoid that.
Chris Farmerie and I had been close friends for a long time and left our previous bands around the same time, so we decided to work together with the condition I would compose all music and lyrics for it. We had already worked on a Death tribute band before, so we knew we worked well together.
I listen to a lot of different musical styles and wanted to create something that could fall under the category of extreme metal, but with various elements of all the other music I like. Classical music, film scores, videogame music, and trance are some of the styles I borrowed elements from for the CD.
You cite Andy LaRocque as one of your influences. He is one of my favorite musicians as well, I don’t know how, but when you hear a guitar in a song, you know that it’s Andy playing; he has a signature and creates amazing riffs. Asking you to cite influences would be a waste of time for you and your fans, I’m sure, but I’d like to know how the musicians influenced you, in what ways they have influenced you. And, obviously, you can name them and how they’ve “helped” you to craft your art.
I grew up listening to Shrapnel Records musicians; Cacophony, Jason Becker, Marty Friedman, Tony MacAlpine, etc. Those guys are incredibly talented and creative, but the reason I liked them so much was because they always had a good balance between speed and melody.
There is a sea of incredibly fast and technically proficient guitarists out there, but if you fail to translate an emotion behind your music for the sake of sounding fast, the song is inevitably going to be boring.
When you listen to some music out there you pretty much know what the next note is going to be, and that was never the case with these guys, that element of surprise and the abrupt tempo changes was something I tried to adapt to the songs as well I could, but I’m clearly nowhere near their technical or creative level.
The first time I listened to Andy LaRocque was on Individual Thought Patterns and it completely blew my mind, to me his solos create a very suspenseful atmosphere that enhances the overall feeling of the song. I always enjoyed how he would emphasize a few slow notes by harmonizing with a secondary tone with much heavier effects in the background. I attempted to do something similar on a lot of the solos in the CD.
As far as rhythm guitars goes, Diabolical Masquerade is easily my biggest influence. Same principle, but applied differently.
You post some interesting facts about Midnight Skies and this, in my humble opinion, makes us enjoy it even more. Please, tell us how was the creating and the recording process, any other fun stories that happened when you were composing and how did you feel, if you can put it in words, when you saw that it became real, you managed to create an album.
The composition was entirely done in layers. I composed all the guitar tracks and at that point Chris and I started looking for a drummer. All we had to work on to set the bar were two songs programmed by Eric Blais, an old friend of ours who was a drummer.
The people we found couldn’t play at the same level, so after a year of looking for the right person we happened to hear about Ex-Arsis drummer Darren Cesca and hired him on the spot. I mean, the guy is a machine.
Once the drums were added my initial plan of adding very basic keyboard tracks went immediately out the window, hearing the songs with drums triggered new ideas that required a lot of orchestration and luckily Dj Blodgett was up for the job and was patient enough to work with me for months on it. I had worked with him on a previous project and we were really good friends since so working on keys was pretty fun.
The next step was the vocalist, we tried out a few people, all good in this case, but some sounded too much like black metal and some too Soilworky.
Jeff DeMarco actually found us and he had the right tone we were looking for. He understood the music and what we were going for from the very beginning, not to mention that he became my sensei throughout the entire mixing/mastering process since he had already released two albums with Excrecor and Solium Fatalis and had worked with Fredrik Nordström on both of those, so he had a ton of experience I lacked on the matter.
Everything else was added by chance, even the ending of “Children” was added because Dj copy/pasted the drums we were programming wrong, and then we decided to keep it. I could go on and on about all the lucky accidents we had, but there are simply too many to list.
In addition to the previous question, and you might have talked about this already, but, who knows, you might detail a bit more this subject, what are the main inspirations for you to compose music? Why do you feel “compelled”, for the lack of a better word, to create music? What’s the driving force behind you that drives you to create music?
I have a favorite band every year or so, a band that I listen to nonstop every single day for a few months until I discover a new favorite band. I’m currently on a Persefone, Omnium Gatherum cycle, and two years ago it was Tracedawn and Wintersun.
I could sit down and play guitar with the intent to compose a riff for endless hours and not be able to come up with anything exciting, that’s usually the case. Listening to new music triggers new ideas, so in a way ideas just hit me out of nowhere and sometimes I’m lucky enough to have my guitar nearby. So to answer your question, the only thing that’s ever kept me playing and composing is constantly listening to new music.
For those interested in the technical part, especially producing, please, share with us some of the choices that Rhadamanthys usually makes when it comes to producing and mastering an album? Midnight Skies was “conceived” at Finnvox Studios and Hansen Studios. How was the whole experience?
Guitars and bass were meant to be re-amped and I knew the type of sound I wanted and the engineers required for it, but my budget was limited. I wanted a mix where you could hear every single note clearly and finding an engineer who could do that turned out to be quite a challenge.
I hired a few engineers in Europe who worked on progressive metal bands, but those engineers were very difficult to work with and wanted to add and sometimes change tracks without consulting me, some even refused to change the songs back. The overall result was also far from what I wanted, so the whole process was incredibly frustrating at that point.
At the end and I opted to go to my number one options who were Mikko Karmila and Mika Jussila from Finnvox and Jacob Hansen.
I was meant to mix with Hansen in June, but Amaranthe came in the studio and I was pushed back to late August, and Mikko, who I had been trying to contact for months, became available that same week, so the decision was easy after that.
Mastering was initially meant to be done by Mika Jussila, but I wanted Jacob to be involved at some point and knew he could do the master without delays, so I opted to work with both studios instead.
Working with them was day and night from my previous experiences. I mean, I used their mixes as examples for other engineers for what I wanted to hear, so having the actual people who made the sound I like possible work on my music required zero adjustments. It was great working with them since I’ve always admired their work so much.
The best advice I can give is go to the source of the sound you want, settling and making others adjust to a sound that is not theirs is only going to give you unnecessary headaches.
I am aware that it’s quite early to ask this, but, I believe you might be already thinking about future releases…. Midnight Skies was highly praised, and deservedly, I should add, so, are you feeling any sort of pressure when it comes to creating and releasing a new record? Are you the kind of musician that worries about the opinion of the critics and, in some sort of way, of the fans?
I would love to work on another CD, but producing something at the same level would require the financial backing of a record label, that’s not the case at the moment, and self-releasing another CD would be extremely difficult.
The response, although limited, has been very positive and we’re very thankful for it. We receive emails regularly from listeners telling us how much they enjoy the album and their words of support meant a whole lot to us. If that was not the case, I’m sure any negative opinions would have zero impact on us coming up with new material any sooner or composing any differently.
This is another question that is quite common in interviews, but I’d like to ask you anyways. The US metal scene has always been creative and important, with classic bands that have influenced generations, but, lately, especially when it comes to Black Metal, I think that the American bands have improved immensely, both in quality and quantity. How do you feel, overall, about the metal scene in your country? And do you have any explanation about this phenomenon? I should ask you firstly if you agree with my opinion, hehe, do you?
Um, not entirely, haha! It’s all perspective I guess. The US seems to have bands that are more “brutal”, for lack of a better word, and Europe has far more melodic and technical bands, so for my personal taste I do like the European metal scene better. A lot of people disagree with me on that matter, but like I said, it’s all about personal taste.
Funny thing is when I’m in Europe they seem to love American bands way more than the European ones, and American audiences seem to love European bands a whole lot as well, so I think both scenes feed off each other equally.
I always ask this usual question that is: what do you personally enjoy doing when not studying, working or creating/ playing music. Are you the party till die guy or do you prefer relaxing at home, watching a movie or drinking something? Any favorite movies or TV shows, book series, artists, hobbies that you’d like to share with us?
I’m more of a stay at home type of guy, but I do like to travel and try to leave the country at least twice a year. So I may be incredibly Howard Hughesy and not go out at all for months, and suddenly head to the airport and stay overseas for a month or two.
Other than that I like psychological thrillers when it comes to movies, and comedy shows and documentaries are in always in heavy rotation at home.
Another question that I always try to add is from a Seinfeld situation and this one is my favorite… simply to have some fun in the interview… This one is my favorite and the one I ask more often: in the episode “The Contest” the four friends bet who can go the longest without masturbating and be granted the title “Master of Your Domain”, the person that would be able to control the “urges”. If you all decided to bet the same thing, who do you think would be the “master of your domain” and why?
Seeing how I am the only active band member at the moment I kind of won that one by default, haha!
(Interviewer note: fuck me! I completely forgot while doing this interview that the other musicians were session members, argh!)
What do you believe that the future holds for Rhadamanthys? And what do you wish that will happen in the future with the band?
No idea what’s going to happen to Rhadamanthys, but I do hope to make more albums. It’s just too early to speculate. I would like to find more listeners and have the existing album distributed at a larger scale, of course.
And we have reached the end of this interview. I hope you have enjoyed it and so the readers. My main goal was for all of us to get to know a little bit more about Rhadamanthys and I truly hope I’ve managed to do that. Well, thank you very much once again and all the best in your present and future plans. Do you have any last words for our readers?
Definitely enjoyed the interview. Thanks so much to you and your readers!
October 4, 2014