I recently interviewed both the bands pictured above, Warsynium and Dangur.
Ian Nelson: So I get the sense that you guys started out at the Rock On band camp. Did the band actually start at Rock On or was it a separate project altogether? What was the lineup back then when you started?
Anders Olson: Yes, we formed in 2006 at band camp. Nate (Calebaugh) and Joe (Haryanto) came up to me and said, “Hey, dude, do you wanna start a shred-metal band?” Without hesitation I was like, hell yeah, this could be cool. I recruited Zack (Orcutt) and former bassist Dillon Ethier from the band I was in at the time and we had a full outfit. We wrote and recorded “Krakatoa” at our first practice and decided it was meant to be. We quit our other bands and made Warsynium official. However, Dillon went to college and we went through two more bassists before finding Nik (Viola).
IN: How many of you attended Rock On? How many sessions did you guys attend and what was the biggest lessons you learned from the workshops? Any particularly fond memories? What was your set like at the end-of-session concert?
AO: I think we all attended Rock On at some point. Most of us went for at least 2 or 3 years. I believe the most important lesson learned was that, as a musician, you need to find bandmates that you really click with – fellow musicians with similar goals and interests that you respect and respect you back. Some of our best memories were in the cafeteria goofing around, and during the end-of-session concerts. But honestly the whole time we were there was just amazing. Playing music and hanging out with friends all day for two weeks made for an unforgettable experience. For the concert at the end of the week, we were actually in different bands. Zack and I were in one band while Nate and Joe were in another. But we liked each other’s playing styles and wanted to start something new.
IN: Why power metal? What is it about massive solos, flowing locks and the whole dark vibe that got you all hooked?
AO: For us, power metal was something so epic and extreme, that it inspired us create something of our own. It was the giants of the classical era, such as Vivaldi and Paganini, that made us want to shred as well. Bands like Hammerfall, Queensryche and Dragonforce were the staples of our musical diet at the time. At the same time, however, we recognized a certain cheesiness about the genre. We didn’t want to follow a trend or go along the same beaten path. Thrash has always been a big part of our sound and we tried to incorporate it more with each song we wrote. We called it Power-thrash. If you listen to our debut album, Warsynium I, you will notice how the music progresses from the more straightforward power-metal first half, to the darker, more progressive, and thrashier second half.
IN: I recall Devan Gardner joining you guys at a show at the ITAM to sing “Crazy Train” before I was aware of him being in the band. When did the inclusion of Devan in the band become official? What unique characteristics does he bring to the band that weren’t there before?
AO: Yeah we had Devan jump in multiple times to sing along to “Crazy Train,” the first time being at the PNA in Adams in a spur of the moment kind of deal. That was a long time ago, but Devan was officially included in the band in late 2008. We released him to the public in our interview with the Berkshire Eagle in March ’09 and he performed his first official show with us soon after. Devan gives us the versatility of a stand alone frontman. He can run around and pump up the crowd while Nate and Joe shred their brains out. He has a great voice and can hit those glass-shattering falsetto notes, as well the vicious Pantera-style screams. Zack and Joe continue to do lead and backing vocals, which adds some pleasant harmony to the mix. Also, with our riffs becoming much more technical, Zack deserved a break from all the singing, allowing him to focus more on guitar.
IN: I’m sure I could venture some guesses as to what your major influences are, but what bands or musicians have driven you guys to make the music that you make?
AO: Our list of influences is innumerable. But a big part of it started with your classics: Iron Maiden, Metallica, Megadeth etc. We each take inspiration from different individual musicians as well. It seems each of us is always into something a little different, but we share our interests and accept our diversity as a gift. Some of the stuff we’re listening to now: Between the Buried and Me, Fear Before, Opeth, Isis, Pelican, I Wrestled a Bear Once, Speak of the Horse and When I Came Back From Death.
IN: What’s the hardest part about being a metal band? I’m sure there are countless other metal bands trying to do exactly what you’re doing. What makes Warsynium stand out?
AO: For our second album, we’ve been writing much more experimental, technical, and progressive music. So far we have yet to encounter a band doing anything close. By incorporating jazz, fusion, and a variety of other unconventional styles into our music, we’ve begun to craft a new and unique sound. The hardest part isn’t the writing or playing – that’s the best part. The hard part is treating the band like a business. We have to manage ourselves and work our asses off to promote and get our music heard. We want nothing more than to get our music to the masses.
Ian Nelson: So you’re all from Holyoke and I’ve seen you play at UMass D.I.Y. shows a few times and it’s always rad. Whats’ the scuzzy metal/punk scene like in Holyoke if there is one at all?
Nick: In Holyoke all of our group of friends make/record music all of the time. We’re jam fiends. There’s not much of a scene specifically in Holyoke, but I guess you could say that about a good portion of areas of Western Mass. Bands that end up playing shows with each other on a regular basis usually are pretty dispersed.
IN: When did you four get together and start Dangur? How’d you all meet up? Where does the name “Dangur” come from?
Nick: Dangur started in 2005 while I was playing bass in a hardcore band called The Blackbelt Club with Pete (singer of Dangur) on drums. Me, Andrew (drums) and Pete all went to Holyoke High and formed friendships through seeing each other at school and punk shows at the Flywheel mainly. We’ve all become super close. Before Dangur, during Blackbelt Club, I was also playing bass in a band called Ricin with Keenan (guitar player in Dangur). That band was starting to break up and Keenan and I had been jamming together since middle school and he’s quite the talent so we really wanted to start another band together so we did and that was Dangur. I asked Andrew and Pete and they agreed. The name Dangur doesn’t mean anything at all. It’s a horrible name, and yes there is a story behind it, but a lame one. That’s what we went with. It was at first The FVK (Fearless Vampire Killers), but we soon found out that was taken.
IN: What’s your guys’ favorite records that helped to inform Dangur’s sound?
Nick: Well it’s funny… We started out as a hardcore band wanting to sound like local legends Sick And Tired and we were heavily into the Bad Brains. But all four of us heard Annihilation Time II one fine day and iId say that album definitively changed the course of our band, if it weren’t already obvious to anyone. We wanted TO BE Annihilation Time II. Deep Purple‘s In Rock, Black Flag‘s My War, Boris‘s Pink and Dinosaur Jr.‘s Your Living All Over Me are all records that all four of us draw alot of influence from in this band. I liked that question.
IN: How’d you guys hook up with Former Thieves for the week of shows youre playing? Have you ever gone out and toured before?
Nick: Two Summers ago I tagged along with my best friend Dan Kozuch’s hardcore band Casket on their first tour. They hooked up with these dudes from Iowa called Despiration. Great guys, great band. We all partied and became friends over the course of the tour. I recently found out that 2 of the kids from Despiration had formed a new band called Former Thieves and got wind of them coming around here this summer for a tour. So I called em up and we started helping each other book shows for us for the week, and between both bands it’s come together pretty smoothly. We’re super psyched it’s our very first tour! We’ve only played outside of Western Mass in Albany, NY and parts of Connecticut so this is going to be awesome for us.
IN: Releasing anything else this Summer/Fall? What are your plans for the Fall school semester? More shows? More 7″s?
Nick: I’ve been discussing putting out another 7″ with Dan Barker from Shock To The System records about putting out another release. He’s psyched to do another album so sometime this Winter or Spring you may see another 7″. We’re calling it Cosmic Garage. It will most likely be a 4-song record. We’ve also been talking to Nick Chechile from the band Overman, who has a doom, solo project called Sunless. We’ve been discussing possibly recording and producing our own split to be put out on vinyl. That may take some time, but it’s something we definitely want to pursue. This semester I’ll be booking more shows with D.I.Y. UMass and inevitably Dangur will find its way onto a bill or two. We’re pumped on life.