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Interview von: arne mit Mike, am: 19.03.2010 ]

Die aus Virginia stammenden ARSIS haben einen weiten Weg hinter sich gebracht. Vor Jahren debütierte das Quartett mit rabiaten-wüsten Klängen zwischen Death und Thrash auf dem Underground-Kultlabel Willowtip. Mit dem dritten Album wechselte die Band vor zwei Jahren zu Nuclear Blast, um mit einem deutlich generelleren und stärkeren Sound zu überraschen. Doch „We Are The Nightmare“ ist nur eine Zwischenetappe gewesen. Erst mit „Starve For The Devil” gelingt ARSIS die Transformation hin zu einer ernst zu nehmenden, inspirierten Brutalo-Kapelle, die Härte und Eingängigkeit glänzend ausbalanciert und ein Album veröffentlicht, das wirkliche Relevanz besitzt.


Musicscan: Arsis has always seemed to me to be an underdog band over here in Europe. How do you feel about it? Did this situation change for the better since your cooperation with Nuclear Blast started?

Arsis: Our first two full-length albums were released in Europe in 2005 and 2007 by Earache Records and Candlelight Records respectively. However, we did not have the adequate booking connections to actually tour in Europe until Arsis signed with Nuclear Blast. Since then, the band has done two full European tours - the most recent one being with Behemoth, Devildriver, and Scar Symmetry. It was an incredible tour. The reaction for us was amazing, and I'm sure things will only continue to get better in terms of Arsis' exposure overseas as time goes on.

Musicscan: You guys have been around for some time now. What is behind band's longevity? What fuels the fire and keeps you guys interested in the music you create?

Arsis: Jim (Malone) is certainly the driving force behind Arsis. He and I recorded what would become the first Arsis songs back in 2000/2001, and I stayed with the band until late 2006/early 2007. I took a hiatus from Arsis for over two years in order to complete my training as a medical imaging technologist. During that time, Jim kept the band going and I'm glad he did. Once my schooling was complete, I was able to re-join the band. Music is huge part of my life and always has been. I'm very inspired by the bands that I'm a fan of. Even though my priorities have changed over the years, I will always enjoy playing music with Jim and am very happy to be a part of Arsis again.

Musicscan: Right now, the harder metal scene seems to go even more extreme than ever before. Bands are pushing the boundaries as far as complexity, technical approach and extreme arrangements are concerned. What are your thoughts on this development?

Arsis: I'm not a fan of overly technical music at all. To me, a lot of newer bands have missed the boat when it comes to knowing how to write memorable metal songs. The "look at me" approach to songwriting has definitely become the norm, and it sounds like the members of many newer bands are competing with each other for attention. A band is about working together to create a song, and the greater good of the song should come before your instrument and ego.

Musicscan: Arsis' sound is pretty unique for everyone who ever got in contact with you guys: Is it important to you to create something original every time or would a "simple" heavy metal song do the trick for you if it feels right?

Arsis: Jim and myself have always been huge 80's metal fans. We've mainly tried to combine the melody and soul of classic 80's metal with certain elements from the more extreme bands we like, such as Death and Emperor. We have no problem simplifying things a bit if it will benefit the song.

Musicscan: It seems that your sound is continually changing, while it stays the same for the core. How do you make sure to progress on what you are doing to keep yourself and the listeners interested?

Arsis: Jim has a very unique style of playing and writing songs. I take the approach of "What would I like to hear the drummer play if I wasn't the drummer in this band?" Keeping myself entertained and writing drum parts that compliment the songs are my only goals.

Musicscan: How important is the technical side of music to Arsis?

Arsis: We try to balance good metal songwriting with a certain degree of technical proficiency. As for my personal taste, Death and Control Denied are the only technical bands that I've ever been a really big fan of. Probably because Chuck (Schuldiner) really knew how to combine excellent songwriting with technicality. Other than that, I mainly listen to thrash, punk, hardcore, and 80's metal. As long as a song or band is good, I could care less how technical it is.

Musicscan: What sort of musical evolution has Arsis gone through over the years of existence from your perspective? Did your view on music change somehow?

Arsis: When we recorded our first two demos, we basically just played what came from the heart. We weren't signed and were just doing it for fun. Once we got a record deal with Willowtip in 2003, I think we gained a certain motivation to take things to the next level, and that's how songs like "The Face of My Innocence" and "A Diamond for Disease" came about. With United in Regret, we had a more thrashy approach with some slightly more dissonant guitar melodies, etc. I wasn't in the band during We Are the Nightmare, but as a listener I can still hear Jim's 80's metal influence come through, and Darren's drumming style obviously gave the band a very technical sound on that album. With Starve for the Devil, I feel that we have come full-circle. There was a very similar vibe working on the new songs as when we recorded our very first demos, and that's a good thing in my opinion.

Musicscan: Your releases cover a lot of bases musically, beside the fact its extreme and complex of course, but there's something for everyone within the "heavy-underground". What's behind writing in this way?

Arsis: I think it probably just has to do with the fact that we have many musical influences. In addition to metal, Jim is very into goth rock and synth music, and I'm a huge fan of hardcore and punk.

Musicscan: What are you looking for in a song, and how do you know that a song is finished?

Arsis: We just look for something that pleases us musically. As far as knowing when a song is finished, most of the arrangements are completed by Jim. All I have to do is come up with drum parts that work with his riffs, etc.

Musicscan: What I feel about Starve For The Devil is a more coherent and in "one-style" sound. How do you feel about it? Did you guys do something differently by choice that you hadn't done previously to keep things progressing?

Arsis: It's my favorite Arsis album by far. It's a great balance. We have songs that are very typical of Arsis in terms of speed and craziness, such as "Closer to Cold", "Sable Rising", and "A March for the Sick." But we also have songs like "Beyond Forlorn" and "Forced to Rock", which are pretty much straight-up 80's metal tunes. This album is the result of us doing exactly what we want, without trying to appeal to any specific expectations or guidelines.

Musicscan: A last question: What makes the band special to you? How would you describe the essence of Arsis?

Arsis: Arsis started out as two friends jamming music together. The band has obviously grown so much since we started this thing, and we have achieved things that I never thought we would ever achieve. However, I still see this project as friends just having fun and rocking out.

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