Badger- I understand you have (to the best of my knowledge) toured with two bands across North America. tell me a little about your background and how you got into playing the keyboard for metal?
Until two years ago when I switched over to tattooing full-time (I co-own a tattoo shop now in Webster, MA), I was a self-employed, full-time working musician. I’m classically trained, hold a Ph.D. in music composition, and have played keyboards since I was a child. I’m also a vocalist, and have an operatic background. I’ve done pretty much any type of musical gig you can imagine – that’s what a working musician has to do to keep food on the table! In addition, I have a background with music production, and spent a number of years working as a recording engineer; I still do quite a bit of freelance work in this respect. I’ve been a metalhead my entire life – I grew up obsessed with Dio, Judas Priest, Ozzy, Sabbath and all the classics. However, I never really thought about PLAYING metal until about 9 or 10 years ago, when I was in my late 20s and had gotten a “good job” as a community college professor. I was unhappy with my job and bored with classical music culture in general, and it was like a switch just flipped and I said to myself, “This is not my life. Let’s finally do this.” Many of my classical music friends thought I was having an early midlife crisis when I suddenly decided I was done playing church organ and switched over to playing in a few metal “tribute bands.” (Tribute bands are huge in Southern California, where I was living at the time.) I decidedly had the working musician mentality at first – a gig had to pay reasonably well for me to be able to consider it, and hence why I ended up in a Dio tribute, along with other acts. Through those gigs, I started meeting people more involved with the underground SoCal metal scene, made some connections, and shortly one thing led to another with me starting to work with original bands.
One band I’ve toured with is Helsott, a pagan metal band from Southern California. I met them when they opened for one of the tribute bands I was fronting, back in San Diego. When I moved to Massachusetts in 2011, they asked me to produce some orchestral arrangements and sing operatic style vocals for their first EP. I ended up doing the arrangements for that, the first full-length, and did the Paganfest America tour with them in 2013 playing keys and singing live as part of the band. While today I really can’t tour as much as they need to, I still do session work for them and remain heavily involved with the band
Badger-How did you and Sevenday Curse come together?
Scott and I connected through a mutual friend, Chris Farmerie – he books the Metal Thursday series at Ralph’s in Worcester. Chris is a very close friend, and we recently played together in an Enslaved tribute for the Halloween Covers Weekend at Ralph’s. We were spending a lot of time together commuting to Boston for rehearsals, and one day he said that he had a friend who was looking for a keyboard player for a band. I said I was interested, since I haven’t played much with any New England bands and I was looking to jump back in after a bit of a layoff (I had to take a break from metal due to two other projects the past two years – one was the production in Europe of a musical that I wrote, and the other was an attempted transcontinental run for charity).
I did a Skype session with Scott last summer and we hit it off; I met the other guys a couple of months ago and we all felt like it was a good connection. So, now, I’m learning the live set and working hard on recording material for the new album. It’s been a blast so far.
Badger-Were you familiar with Sevenday Curse before joining the band? Maybe heard them before or saw them?
No, honestly, I hadn’t known their music beforehand. I hate admitting that publicly! The reasons? One, I lived in Southern California for fifteen years, and only moved here in 2011 – the scene out west is very different than it is here in New England, so I’m definitely more familiar with Los Angeles and San Diego bands. Two, during the time when After the Storm was released, I was working on my Ph.D., and I wasn’t doing much other than working four jobs while trying to go to school full-time, so I wasn’t hitting shows or anything…that was a really crazy time, so I’ve got a few years of a hole in my metal knowledge that coincides with when the band was active back then. I’m glad I know their music now!
Badger- Do you have a plan on when we will be able to see you perform live with Sevenday Curse for the first time?
I believe the plan is to have my first show with them at Hothfest in January. I’m looking forward to it!
Badger- How does it feel to be a part of a band that for many believe (including myself) were one of the band’s who created a unique sound/ sub genre of metal?
It’s an honor – I feel extremely fortunate to be involved. So far, the guys have welcomed me both as a band member and collaborator, and that has been very much appreciated! It feels great to be in a creative space with production on the new album…I think it’s going to be epic.