As promised (and delivered much too late, because we’re such slackers), here is the raw Q&A interview for the recent feature article on one of Solid State’s latest signings, The Ascendicate.
What is the short history of the band?
Chris Wheat (drums): We got together as The Ascendicate a year or so ago. All of us had been in a few other bands in North Carolina, Missouri, and Tennessee before. We recorded our first CD with Travis Wyrick and then things started taking off.
How did you get involved with Solid State?
Chris: Our producer sent them a few tracks from our recording. It got into the hands of Jimmy Ryan and Ryan Clark and then they flew out to see us to make sure we didn’t suck live.
What’s it like working w/Ryan Clark? What surprised you? What have you learned?
Ryan Helm (guitar): I was surprised at how eager he was to work with us. Also, the first night that he came down to watch us play, I was thinking to myself, ‘Holy crap! This guy has seen and played with some of the best bands out there and now we’ve got to show him what we are made of.’ I was pretty jittery about it, but after we sat and talked for a few minutes I was so at ease, and so was the rest of the band. He’s just a down-to-earth kind of guy.
Chris: Ryan Clark is a big teddy bear, who likes his back scratched now and then … but no, he is super efficient and reliable, and also very laid-back and professional at the same time.
How would you describe your sound?
Ryan: (sighs) Oh man, I dread this question! (laughs) I never really know how to answer this one. You could say that we are metal-core, I guess. There is definitely hardcore, metal, and a decent amount of screaming, but there is a lot of singing as well. We also have some acoustical things going on at times, same time it just seems to have this driven sound going on the whole time … and a nice little ballad as well. The thing about our music is that it is very inspirational, but I think we put a new spin on things, but it’s not like we reinvented the wheel.
Eric Marlowe (vocals): Our sound is such a mixture of so many things. It may be easy for some to say, “There’s not enough this,” or “There’s too much of that,” but we really hope people can accept this record for what it brings to the table. We love so many different types of music and we like to think that all the different influences will help us bring something fresh to metal.
What are some special moments on your CD?
Ryan: For me, “Burden” is a very personal and emotional song. Long and short of the story is that I was going through a very nasty spiritual battle about a year and a half ago. I know it’s a very touchy subject in most churches, but I was dealing with a heavy demonic presence that just would not go away, and it was starting to effect every thing and relationship that I had, especially my marriage, and eventually led to heavy alcohol abuse. I prayed, and fasted for months and finally the burden lifted, but when the battle was done it was so foreign to me, because for the first time it felt like I had nothing to fight, no great war to win, metaphorically speaking. As weird as it may seem, I was going through what felt like a separation anxiety with my pain. Today, I am finely free of that burden in my life, but every time we play that song live, man, I just get this rush of excitement, and it fuels me that much more to be a man that can be a good example, and to never fall back into that place that I use to be in spiritually and emotionally.
Chris: It makes me feel all warm and fuzzy when I hear people singing along and then see them diving into a big ol’ pit. I also like it when people yell, “Play some Skynyrd!”
What should any young metal band about to sign to Solid State Records know or do? Why?
CHRIS: Be patient and play a lot of shows. It also helps to practice your dance moves.
RYAN: Wow. Talk about a loaded question. I’ll have to get back to you on that one when the record comes out. haha
What would you include on a short list of “Metal Essentials” ?
RYAN: DO NOT STAND STILL ON STAGE! I can’t tell you how many times I see these great bands just stand there and expect the crowd to be all into it when they themselves aren’t. You gotta have personality, man.
CHRIS: You gotta bring something original too. Kids have heard it all, and everybody is quick to say, “They sound like so and so, or they are just hardcore” or whatever. To really be doing something, you gotta make it hard for people to describe you.
How does The Ascendicate fuse art and faith? How much of that is calculated? …or not? Why?
CHRIS: We all try to live our faith at full volume. A lot of the lyrics deal with some deep stuff, but when you meet us in person we are just a bunch of goofy dudes who like to cut up and smack each other around. Because we love God and love each other, we hope people see that and want to know more.
Ryan: Honestly, man we just do what we love to do, and that’s show the love of Jesus, and rip there faces off with our blend of metal, and we have quite the good time doing it.
What are the main themes or concepts you’d like to convey to listeners of your music?
RYAN: As corny as it may sound, our main concept has always been the only thing that really matters in life, and that is Love.
Anything else you’d like to add?
CHRIS: Buy our cd on February 10 and Ryan will be your best friend.