It certainly doesn’t seem that it will end soon, the stream of new US bands heavily influenced by the NWOBHM. In many cases we are talking about musicians with a background from other genres of metal who now wants to try their luck at replicating or creating something similar to the wave that washed through Great Britain more than thirty years ago. From Los Angeles comes Blade Killer, a new quartet with clear ambitions to expand to a quintet by adding a drummer to the lineup as soon as possible. The band has just put out their first self titled EP through Stormspell Records and Kelsey Wilson (bass) and Carlos Gutierrez (vocals) were kind enough to give us a little insight into what the band is about.
How did you all get together? I know Jay and Jonathan was in a band together before, was Blade Killer perhaps formed by the two of them?
Kelsey: – Blade Killer was formed by Carlos and our past drummer Andrew Gomez. It started out as an idea to start up a heavy metal band, and to find members that were passionate about this music as well, it then grew pretty quickly from there. Searching for a guitarist they found Jay, and on bass, Kelsey. After composing some material, at the time Carlos was our second guitarist, a few months later we began the search to fill in that spot of a second guitarist, so Carlos could focus on vocals, that is when Jon came into the picture.
The band was formed as late as in 2012. Since then, things must have happened quite fast? Many bands spend more time before they are ready to release a professional product, why did you choose not to dwell too long?
Kelsey: – After forming we pretty much put most of our efforts towards writing music, getting a solid sound and recording. It took us a bit to get the whole social media thing going, we wanted to wait until we had some music to post up, after we did we got a pretty good feedback from friends and fans about our music. Big shout out to our friend Allen of Bird Cage Studios for helping us record and getting our name out there. We didn’t dwell on it too long because we had no reason to.
As far as I know, Armory, the previous band of Jay and Jonathan was a thrash band, and Carlos also plays in Fueled By Fire who for sure is a thrash metal band. Is Blade Killer a result of the fact that you want to do something different musically?
Carlos: – Well I’ve always loved traditional heavy metal, and Fueled By Fire started out trying to sound traditional, but we just got more aggressive as we went on. So I’ve had the idea of doing this project for a while. It was about the right time to get it going and do something a little different. I love playing thrash and Fueled By Fire is my main band, but my love for traditional Heavy Metal will always be at the top.
There are a lot of bands, both in the US as well as in Europe playing this type of music at the moment. What do you feel Blade Killer brings to the table that distances the band from the other acts?
Carlos: – I don’t know, we really don’t focus on doing something different than others. I mean this music has been around for ages, We just try and do it our way, the Blade Killer way. If whatever we put out brings something new and different then that’s fuckin great! But if we don’t, oh well, as long as we like it and are happy, we stand by it.
How much time and resources are you willing to invest in the band? Do you have a specific goal for Blade Killer, or are you more relaxed, without any big ambitions?
Carlos: – It kind of makes it hard to put full time in this band, since I have Fueled By Fire. The others have more focus on it. But we definitely want to take it places and have goals of doing some touring and playing festivals in the future. We do see it happening pretty soon!
Do you see a possible conflict in the fact that Carlos also is involved in Fueled By Fire? I mean, the rest of the members might want to invest more time in the band than he can afford. A pretty common situation for bands with members involved in more than one act.
Kelsey: – I don’t see that there will be much of a conflict. When starting the band we all knew and understood that Carlos’s main band was Fueled by Fire. Making as much time as we can for practice is important to all of us, we all manage to keep time for Blade Killer, including Carlos.
Apart from the songs on the EP, do you have more material ready? Will the next step be a full length release? Will the four songs from the EP be rerecorded, or will you go for completely new and unreleased material only?
Carlos: – We do have other material already, but not a full lengths worth, yet. But we have a couple in the works. We haven’t really thought if we’re gonna re-record all or a couple of songs, or just do all new material. But yes, the next plan is to do a full length, I’m sure whatever we decide to throw on there, will be fuckin heavy anyways!
I really like the four songs on the EP, but for a full album, a bit more diversity would be nice. Do you see diversity as something that is important when you perform this kind of music, and how will you eventually take care of it on a full length album?
Carlos: – Diversity is good, I’m sure it will have some slight diversity. But were trying to keep it as classic as possible. To me, it does matter, a band can’t put out the same thing over and over. So I’m sure you’ll hear some stuff we don’t do on previous stuff here and there, we might even do some sort of ballad.
How did you end up cooperating with Iordan and Stormspell Records? Were you supposed to do the physical release by yourselves until Stormspell stepped in?
Carlos: – We actually were planning to release it DIY, but Mike Mendyk from Swords and Chains Records contacted us about releasing a tape with him. Something came up to where he couldn’t do it. He helped us out and shared our music with Danny McKane from Stormspell and he dug it! So they decided to release it together. So actually Stormspell and Swords and Chains are releasing the EP. Cheers to those guys! Also we plan on releasing it on vinyl as well. Keep a look out for that!
Stormspell is marketing your EP as “NWOBHM from Los Angeles”. I would be surprised however if sounding as much like the NWOBHM as you can was your main target? Would you say you are more inspired by NWOBHM than for instance US metal?
Carlos: – Hahaha, thats all good with us! I mean NWOBHM is way more of an influence on us than U.S. Metal for sure. So we do lean towards that sound a lot more than any. To me a lot of those old school NWOBHM bands have a lot more feeling and passion in their music than the US bands, and a lot more catchy tunes as well. We do love us some U.S. metal though.
It seems you are searching for a drummer at the moment. Has this proven more difficult than you expected?
Carlos: – Yes we’ve been in search for a while now. We’ve only tried a few people out, but no luck yet. The hardest thing is finding someone that can be creative behind the kit. Simple, but creative, someone with experience, Someone that has the passion and feel for this music, someone that knows his shit.
As we have already covered, Carlos is the drummer in Fueled By Fire. Have the possibility of letting him take care of both vocals and drums been discussed, or is it too difficult to combine the two? Also, who plays drums on the album?
Carlos: – Yes they have brought this up to me a few times. But it’s just too difficult for me to handle. I would rather focus all my efforts on making the vocals sound best possible. There’s nothing I dislike more than a great sounding band musically with shitty vocals. I feel if I do both, my vocals are gonna be shitty not hitting the right notes at times, out of breath from playing and just too much bullshit. So I’d rather have someone play instead! But all the drum tracks on the E.P. are recorded by me.
Kelsey: – It wasn’t that doing a more complex album cover wasn’t important to us, it is a four track EP and our first release, we just wanted to get something that looked professional and basically just focused on our music. On our next release, which will most likely be a full length, we will be taking the album art much more into consideration.
You seem to be quite active posting your music on the internet, both via Facebook as well as Soundcloud. How has the internet helped you in spreading the name and your music?
Kelsey: – Well the internet makes our job a little easier, it has helped us by spreading our music pretty much all over the world while we are right here in L.A. We might as well post up our songs for everyone to hear because someone is usually bound to post it online anyways! Using social media is a huge way to gain fans and keep them informed about everything they need know about Blade Killer and things to come in the future. We’ve gotten a really amazing response from people about our music, big shout out to all those patient fans that have been waiting for the release of the EP, we appreciate your support!
I haven’t read the lyrics, but listening to a song like “Raise Your Fist”, you don’t seem to be afraid to use typical metal clichés. How important are the lyrics, and what function do they have in Blade Killer?
Kelsey: – Well on that track, “Raise Your Fist”, it was actually a good friend of ours Janice Espinoza that wrote those lyrics. The lyrics in our songs are always important to us, you need strong lyrics to speak your purpose and what you stand for. You can write great music but if your lyrics fall flat and don’t engage people then you don’t have well rounded material. Janice being a heavy metal enthusiast like us, we wouldn’t have used her lyrics if they weren’t anything we could relate to, huge thanks to her for contributing to our songs.
So what does Blade Killer stand for?
Kelsey: – You need solid lyrics to get across whatever point you’re trying to make or whatever story you are trying to tell, you want the listener engaged in your music and to have the lyrics as strong as your music is important. I guess Blade Killer stands for doing what you love, life is exponentially short you might as well have a good time and do what you love to do, and for us that is playing heavy metal!