Retooled and ready for 2015, vocalist Shannon Low avoided a full breakup only to find his band, The Order of Elijah, signed with a label and writing some of the best songs the band has written. HM writer Ben Rickaby meets with Low about the band’s last two months, how he developed his unique vocal delivery and why Metal Gear Solid is important.
You guys have had a pretty busy year this year. What all has happened?
This year, we hit the ground running. We started out having been in the studio all through the winter, trying to get down most of the tracks for this album. Our agency, Sights Set North Agency, told us Luxor Records was interested, but they wanted (us) to get the tracks to them so we had to finish that up.
We got it to them, and they hit us up, sent us some contracts. We liked it, so we signed to Luxor Records and they immediately wanted three more songs for the album. So we had to go right back to the drawing board. We have about four or five extra tracks now, which I’m really excited about. We were kind of rushed to write them, but a few of the songs, I think, are some of the best on the album now. We’re actually in and out of the studio tracking right now, here in our hometown (Joplin, Missouri). Then, when we get done, they’re going to send it over there to be mixed and mastered in Detroit at the Luxor studio.
We almost had a big lineup change, but the only difference in our lineup is our bassist, and he’s really great. We love having him with us. Other than that, we’ve been preparing for this tour. We just played with For Today in January in Springfield and that was a sold out show.
That must have been awesome.
Yeah, it was really cool, and it was cool to meet (For Today vocalist) Mattie Montgomery. We’re about to play an unorthodox show for us. We’re going to be playing with Dance Gavin Dance on Sunday, and it’s pretty much sold out, too. We’re definitely going to be the heaviest band on that one, but I still think it’ll be a great show. Then, we leave on our tour in three weeks or so. As soon as we signed to Luxor, Sights Set North hooked up a two-and-a-half week tour.
So how are things going for your second record? Anything different or better this time around?
I’m really excited because I feel like Luxor Records is a lot more professional. It’s really the most professional company we’ve ever worked with. Just within the first week of being with them, I could tell this was going to be an interesting year for us.
The first album was a compilation of songs we had written as a local band over the course of three or four years. Some of those songs we had been tweaking and changing and doing stuff to off and on for years. When we sat down to write this album, it was a lot more formulated. I could definitely tell we had matured as musicians, just knowing how to work with each other. Before, our songwriting process was all over the place. Now it’s a lot more focused and a lot more matured in the process and the formula and the sound itself. At first we were worried about the rush of having to write a lot of songs. I think, personally, I work better under pressure, so whenever some says, “Oh, yeah, take all the time you need,” then I do just that and it’ll get done when I’m really good and inspired. We sat down before we even wrote the songs and we came up with a generalized direction we wanted to take with the music. There are going to be a lot of things some people are going to like about this newer sound and there’ll be some people who will be saying stuff like, “Where are all the samples?” and things like that we used to do.
We live walking around blindfolded, thinking we have all the answers, and it’s dangerous.
Yeah, you guys made me laugh when you used the exclamation sound from Metal Gear Solid on one of your songs.
That was one of the coolest samples we had because I knew when we put it in there there wouldn’t be very many people who knew what that is. But for the people that did know, they would immediately recognize it from Metal Gear Solid.
Yeah they’d immediately shout, “SNAAKE!’
(Laughs) Yeah, dude. People would do that all the time in comments on Facebook.
So there won’t be as many samples and goofy things like that this time around?
Yeah, there won’t be as many. Last time, we had a bit of a go-around with copyright issues. The laws are this way and that way. We didn’t get in any trouble, but our record label at the time was worried about the songs. He actually hit me up and was wondering if I could take out every sample and just leave the music. I said, No way, man, I just can’t do that. We didn’t really use that big of samples anyway.
This time around, we still used a lot of our roots, but we’re all listening to different music these days than what we were listening to back then.
I think everyone is going to like a lot of the bass work we’ve got going on. Our new bassist does some slap parts, and we’ve never had anything like that. We have some parts where we go into big, staggered breakdowns, and he’ll just be pumping it and keeping it driving the whole time. He’s really good at it.
What themes are you guys going to be hitting this time with the new record?
The album’s called War at Heart. This past year, I went through a real crappy divorce, and it beat me up. I went into some depression and confusion. So as I sat down to write the album, people were really particular about saying stuff like, “Don’t lose your heart” and “You gotta make sure it’s all about Christ.” Whenever you’re going through something like that, some people get closer (to God) and some may not. I still struggle with it, and that’s what I wrote about. I wrote about natural things: people struggling with their own faith, people struggling with their own lives, stuff about life experiences. I wrote a song about my daughter, telling her how I’ll always be there to protect her — and somehow keep that brutal (laughs).
There’s a song called “Tyler Durden,” and before I wrote it, I was focused on a bunch of Tyler Durden quotes from Fight Club, which was me thinking about all the things we think we know and have been taught all our lives. We live walking around blindfolded, thinking we have all the answers, and it’s dangerous.
You don’t want to live in a bubble.
Yeah, and that’s what that song is about. People get in their bubbles and they don’t want to know what’s outside of that. If they stick their head out, then it’s the devil, anything you didn’t understand or something you didn’t know. People don’t have the humility to step back and think, Wow, I didn’t know that.
It’s important — especially as an artist but as humans in general — we explore and try to think more for ourselves than what society has taught us to do.
You have a very unique vocal style. What influences brought you to that?
I listen to a lot of hip-hop. A lot of my faster stuff comes from listening to a ton of Machine Gun Kelly and a lot of Yelawolf and stuff like that. I mention in one of my songs I listened, when I wrote it, to Eminem. I also like the way Emmure delivers their lyrics. I think that this album is going to show a lot more of that.
It’s definitely a cool sound.
We asked the fans what kinds of stuff they wanted to hear on the new album, and I don’t know how many how many comments we had of people saying we want fast vocals.
I get compared to Fronzak from Attila off and on. I can see a difference in our style, but the average listener — especially someone who’s not a musician — they hear something fast and immediately make the (Attila) connection since he’s the only guy doing it. I was personally listening to fast vocals back in the Mudvayne days, like the L.D. 50 album with Chad Gray. He was doing fast vocals in metal. He was screaming long before this genre even blew up.
With this album I learned how I wanted to deliver that style a little bit better rather than just be a repetitive beat. I throw it in spurts. I mix it in as more of a way to try and make art out of it than like, All right, let’s put a fast here.
You don’t just want to throw in a vocal break down.
(Laughs) Yeah, right! “This is the spot.” There’s definitely a lot more of that on this album. I’ve got one song where I don’t do that at all, which is the song about my daughter. But the rest of the album delivers more of that aggressive type of lyrical rhythm. I started doing that back when Rottweiler Records wanted us to do a few more extra songs, like Luxor, and that was when I developed that. Machine Gun Kelly and Yelawolf had a lot of influence because, just by listening to that stuff, I’ve learned to blend my syllables better. Even when I do a song — like “New Line of Defense” off the last album — you can tell it’s a tongue twister. Being able to do it faster and make it flow better means it sounds better. I’ve started to learn the dos and the don’ts so when I sit down to write it, the lyrics sound better.
Who are you guys taking out with you on your upcoming tour?
They’re another band on the label called Forsake the Fallen. I think they’re out of Michigan. They’re a really good band.
Is there anybody that you’d really want to tour with?
I really like touring with bands on the same label. I really like having that family entity thing going on.
I wouldn’t mind touring with It Lies Within; Chris plays with them and he’s our representative for the agency. I really like that guy.
As far as aspirations of anyone I’d like to tour with, only big name bands come to mind. I’d really like to tour with The Browning. I really dig The Browning. You can quote me on that. Hopefully one day we’ll be able to get to (do that). I’m a big fan of Parkway Drive. Them or Upon a Burning Body or even Fit For a King.
We’re appreciative to be able to be out on the road. We love playing shows and getting out to connect with the fans and get to know some of the bands from while we’re out. I always thought it was cool to meet bands if they hung out at the merch table, getting to meet them after shows. We try to hang out with fans and try to connect with as many people as we can and try not to act like we’re rock stars or anything.
Any big plans for the summer and the rest of the year?
We don’t have any major plans just yet. We’re going to kick this album out. That is the number one priority right now: Get that done. As soon as we get that out of the way and we get a release date, we’ll build up to the album release, maybe put out a new song every day for a few days up until the release date. Then we’ll do a major tour for the album whenever the album hits and try to get out to the west coast. Until then, we’ll be on short tours and just stay on the road hyping the new album until it hits.
The Order of Elijah was posted on March 9, 2015 for HM Magazine and authored by Ben Rickaby.