Antithesis - Interview


Not blessed, or merciful
Apr 11, 2001
Sarf Lundin, Innit
Ultimate Metal: You're heading back into the studio in September to record album no. 2 - will you be producing this one yourselves, as you did with the last one?

James Lewis: As it stands right now, yes. We are going to use a different studio for a change of scenery this time. Nothing against the last studio, they were great. We just wanted to try another high quality studio in our area. We are fortunate enough to have 2 to choose from.

Ultimate Metal: How do you approach it? Do you all go in and work on one song at a time, or does Paul go in, lay down the drum tracks for all the songs, then you do the bass, etc?

James: Well, we usually play live as a whole group (sans vocals) just to get the drum tracks down. Then, once the drums are done we sit down with our headphones individually and record our respective instruments. This time we will do the drum tracks live, but as a three piece (the second guitar will sit out so only one rhythm guitar will be in the rough mix. All the harmonies will be added in later. Usually, after Paul gets drums done, then I do my bass lines, then axes, vocals, and finally guitar harmonies and vocal harmonies.

Ultimate Metal: How many tracks do you have ready for it so far? And how do you think it'll compare to the first disc - can fans expect much of the same style of material?

James: So far we have 7 songs. We have 3-4 others in the works, but I doubt all of them will be on this disc. We want to have 50-60 minutes of music, many of the LONG CDs I have get boring, so we don't want to fall into that trap. As for comparing to the first CD, I'd have to say we are heading in a more progressive direction, allowing more breathing room for Ty to sing. We are not getting all crazy or mellow, (actually heavier, faster, and more technical) but have made a conscious effort to keep vocals in mind when we are writing. Something that is very hard for me to do. Sean and Paul are much better at vocal "consciousness", I suppose because they can sing and I cannot. I am also hoping to allow more room for counterpoints where I (bass) do more things underneath the guitars instead of doing what the guitars are.

Ultimate Metal: The last album had the songs credited as 'written by Antithesis' - are you all writing together again this time round? Is that how you usually work?

James: Yes and yes. Last album was actaully about 80-90% me and Sean. This time around it is a more complete effort with everyone contributing. Sean and I are not really into taking the credit, we are a band who works together to write so we did the credits as you read them, songs by Antithesis. Everyone has say in the arrangements and each person plays their own instrument, meaning Sean doesn't write my bass lines and I don't tell Paul what drum parts to do. We say things like, "I'm hearing the drums doing this or the bass doing that..." and we do it. This is how we approach our writing. Now that Tall Paul is back in the band, he and Sean are doing a lot of work together. They are really a gifted duo when it comes to writing; Antithesis is lucky to have them.

Ultimate Metal: Even though the first album sounds great, is there anything you learned from the recording of that disc that will carry over to this one? Anything you are looking to do differently, or...?

James: Sure. We are going to spend more time getting the drum sound/mix to be better. There are some spots where the toms and bass drums are not as clear as we would have liked. Also, I particularly, am going to work with some different bass sounds (chorus, flange, light [very] distortion). We are going to have more vocal harmonies this time as well as some different guitar harmonies. We learned a lot from the first recording. This time we are going to be more prepared with the material prior to hitting the studio, knowing EXACTLY what we want to do and what we expect to hear.

Ultimate Metal: Have you played any of the new material live yet?

James: Yes. We have done Consequence and Deceiver Within live and to great reception I might add. I'm pushing the guys to have Politicide, Mad Poet, and Times of Trial ready by the festivals in July for the set.

Ultimate Metal: If you all didn't thank God first on the liner notes of 'Antithesis', I would never have figured you guys were Christians from just the lyrics. Do you aim to try and put out a Christian message in your lyrics, or more of a "here's what we think, make up your own mind" approach?

James: Ty's lyrical approach is as you have it is, think about it and make your own conclusions. We are looking to provide the listerners with a more positive message and promote the Antithesis to the hate, violence, and general ugliness other metal bands continue to promote. Paulie (drummer) and I are helping more with lyrics for some songs this CD and he and I are slightly more direct Christian lyric oriented, but still not praise type lyrics. We all write to get the listeners to think and decide on their own what the songs mean to them.

Ultimate Metal: Do you take a Christian approach with all your songs (or use Christian themes), or do you try and cover other issues in your lyrics?

James: We try to cover anything that is within the moral and ethical realm which often ends up having Christian themes. Netherworld is neither per se, it is basically a nightmare. But generally we try to keep things positive with a message and provoking some thought by the listener. A couple songs I have written for this CD are more direct Christian themes but I don't know if they will be on this disc or the next, have to wait and see.

Ultimate Metal: What influences are you drawing from for this album, lyrically and musically?

James: Hmmmmm...tough question. Lyrically, mostly issues we (the collective we) are facing in today's times both personal and as a society. Musically, we are not really drawing from any specific influences. We have been together awhile now as a band and are really beginning to gel when it comes to writing songs so I'd have to say we are influencing each other. I can't say we heard the new Symphony X and decided that is what we would try to write songs like. Does that make sense? I hope so. We are just being Antithesis and the songs will come out accordingly.

Ultimate Metal: What's the live situation like in Cleveland? Is there a good metal crowd there?

James: The scene is OK. We have been drawing well here, but then again we only do a couple shows. I think we have played twice in Cleveland since January. A lot of the bands all sound the same and they all play 3-4 times a month locally so the scene is flooded with the same "sound" leaving us to stay home and not go and check things out. The crowds we have experienced have been very into the music and I know the Dio show sold out as did Dream Theater and Queensryche. Metal is alive and well for the most part here. I just wish bands would get a long better, but that's competition and politics for you. It's the same everywhere I suppose.

Ultimate Metal: What advice would you give to any bands out there hoping to produce their own music, and doing their own thing independant of a record label? I'd imagine it's a hard slog?

James: Extremely hard! Practice, work hard, and promote your band like crazy! I've spent hundreds of hours on-line, passsing out flyers, networking, sending letters, etc. One has to be committed to be successful. Also, don't get fixated on signing a deal, not that this shouldn't be a goal, but not the only goal. Example, we are not signed yet but have spoken with several labels and had postive feedback which is cool, but at the same time we have been having great shows and receiving excellent reviews worldwide. This to us is a good thing to focus on, press and getting our name out, EXPOSURE!!!!. The labels will come if the product is good, believe it. So to ensure this event, make sure the product is the best it can be and always, above anything else, be professional when dealing with everyone you come in contact with, because a class act is far more attractive than a flaky one. Also, there are hundreds of bands out there in every town who all have the same desire as your band, to make it in the music business. Make sure your band has something to offer that the others do not (quality of music, stage presence, etc.) because if you don't, your band will fade into the background amongst all the other band who are just like you. Never give up! This is a hard thing not to do. We have had 30-40 refusals from labels, booking agents, etc. Keep plugging away, keep practicing, and above all remain a team with your bandmates. No one person in a band is more important than another and everyone is replacable, remeber this! No egos allowed! Band prosper as a team but will die if one or two members think themselves better than the other members. Remain modest and let your music speak for you.

Ultimate Metal: And, finally, what plans does Antithesis have for the next 12 months?

James: Well, if plans equate to goals than Antithesis has many. We are hoping to be signed by the end of the year, get some regular airplay both on college and commercial radio, play 4-6 gigs a month out of town in our region, hook up with some cool National acts who come through town, play in South America and Europe, get on some of the larger music festivals (i.e. Cornerstone, Bobfest, Alive, Wacken, Dynamo, MIlwaukee Metal Fest, etc.) and play Sonshine and Lifest again. And finally, be in the studio next summer/fall for our third release.
Good band. Opened for them in their hometown once and they mean it when they say that they are well received at home. Wish I could say the same for my band!