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Shawn Drover Act Of Defiance - Interview
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SHAWN DROVER

ACT OF DEFIANCE


Graveyard

When news broke that two of Megadeth's longtime members, Shawn Drover and Chris Broderick had left the band, a lot of fans were curious as to what they would get up to musically. Those questions were raised even further when it was announced that both had teamed up to form a band called Act Of Defiance and their debut album "Birth And The Burial" is the result and ultimately the answer to everyones questions. What surprised some however was how heavy and aggressive the music was so we spoke to drummer Shawn Drover about how the band first formed and the idea behind what they wanted to do with it musically.

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Andrew: The first thing we should talk about is your band Act Of Defiance and the first album that just came out. I heard the album and it's an absolute blistering, thrash kind of an album, great stuff! You must be very happy with how the songs have turned out.

Shawn: Yeah thanks for saying that! Yeah it was intended to be as you say, just like that. An uncompromising 100% heavy metal record. From the get-go, Chris (Broderick, guitarist) and I pretty much [had] that as the mission, we said, 'You write 5 songs, I'll write 5 songs and as long as it's metal, that's all we care about. And that was the only blue print we really had but apparently we have a lot of aggression in us [laughs]. To hear the final outcome of the record, it's a pretty aggressive record and I'm really glad that it turned out that way.

Andrew: Was the idea behind the band initially coming out of the fact that you and Chris had left Megadeth or was it something that came around while you were still in Megadeth?

Andrew: I made the decision to leave that band after being in the band for 10 years and the band took a year off which I really didn't want to do myself but it turned out to be a blessing in disguise because I started to think about where I was in my musical career [and] ultimately what I wanted to do musically speaking. I was in a band called Eidolon for many years with my brother (Glen Drover) and I wrote most of the music for that band which was quite heavy as well, not quite as heavy as Act Of Defiance but still pretty heavy stuff. But I really started to really miss writing music, writing my own music and expressing my own thoughts and ideas the way I wanted to. And after thinking about it for a while, I made the decision to leave that band and pursue my own thing. And when I confided in Chris about it to let him know what my intentions were, he was thinking the same thing. So we said, 'Well if we're going to do this, why don't we form a band together'. Because he was thinking the same thing, he wanted to write heavier music, he wanted to write music with no parameters or if he wanted to write a progressive metal song or a thrash metal song or whatever it was, he wanted to be able to express himself freely. So we made the decision to team up and again, what you hear is the end result of that which is Act Of Defiance.

Andrew: Obviously you have worked with Chris for a number of years in Megadeth but how was it working with Chris on this project? Because as you were saying, you had more say in how the songs were and in the writing process so how was it with him?

Shawn: Well we wrote the songs separately. I wrote 5 songs at home, Chris wrote 5 songs where he writes them in L.A. and of course we would exchange ideas and thoughts. I would come up with something in demo form and say, 'Hey what do you think about this?' and he would say, 'Oh that's great', and he would do the same, send me stuff and 'What do you think of this riff'. 'Oh yeah that's great'. Aside from giving little comments here and there about the direction of an idea, we were really left to our own devices in terms of what we wanted to write. I mean I could of easily written 5 death metal tunes or 5 complete thrash metal tunes and be happy with that but I didn't want to be stuck in one genre of metal. So many people now want to put you in this little sub-genre box, 'This band is a black metal band, this band is a thrash band', or whatever. If you listen to the record, some songs like the title track "Birth And The Burial" is almost more of an old school metal sensibility to it whereas something that I wrote called "Thy Lord Belial" is pure thrash and that's exactly how I intended it to be. So I wanted to do different things stylistically but at the end of the day like I said previously, we wanted to make sure that every song was total metal and that's exactly what this record is.

Andrew: Yeah exactly and I think you are right in saying that it is a diverse metal record and not just a thrash record. There is some very thrashy kind of stuff on there but there's also melody and heavy stuff and a lot of diversity on there which I think a lot of fans are starting to pick up on. Are you surprised by some of the reactions from people who say this is a very heavy record compared to what you were doing with Megadeth?

Shawn: Not to be boastful but we knew as time was going on that as we were writing these songs, you have a sense that, or at least I do when you're part of something that is really good...Now of course that is subjective. I mean you can turn around and say, 'This record sucks' and I can look at you and say, 'No this record is amazing'. It's all a matter of opinion but my opinion was when we were writing this and as I was hearing things and when Henry (Derek, vocals) joined the band and started to help with lyrics and vocal melodies and when we started hearing things, I knew that this was going to be a really good record, I could feel it for whatever reason. It was so liberating for me to express my ideas the way I wanted to express more of my ideas. I wrote half the record so for me that was very freeing and very liberating musically speaking to be able to do that. But again, these are just 10 heavy metal songs, we didn't have an approach other than writing metal, we didn't say it had to sound like this or it had to sound like this band because that's what's cool. We didn't give a shit about any of that stuff and it's the same thing I have done for 30 years now. I go into my music room, shut the door, play guitar and when I come up with a riff that I like, I record them. It's as simple as that. And after a while you compile 40, 50, 60 riffs and you start to put the pieces of the musical puzzle together. That riff fits with that riff and all of a sudden you got half a song, it's really not that difficult. The song writing process for me has never been very difficult, I've always been inspired and when inspiration hits me, sometimes you just wake up and have those days where you have a thought in your head of some kind of riff or something and it happens to me a lot and if I'm home, I'll run upstairs and record it. Even if I can't get the thought that I have in my head onto my guitar necessarily, I have the idea and I'll remember what I was looking for and I can find it later.




Andrew: And how was it working with the other guys, Henry and Matt (Bachand, bass)? Have you guys worked with them before or was it the first time you had done anything with them?

Shawn: I've known Matt for 15 years. When Shadows Fall did their first tour, they were supporting King Diamond at the time and my brother Glen was in King Diamond. So I met all those guys and did that whole summer tour with King Diamond so I got to know all those guys and of course Matt was a great guy and still is of course a great guy and a great musician. He was a happy coincidence where Shadows Fall was stopping and he was looking for a gig and we were looking for a bass player so I knew he was a bass player as well as a guitar player so I just hit him up and said, 'Hey this is what we're doing with Chris and I and Henry. Would you be interested?' And he jumped right in. Henry was different, we found Henry on youtube as many bands do nowadays, people recommend and you hear little things like, 'Check out this guy and check out that guy', and so we would. Come to find out that Henry is a very diverse singer, he has maybe 6 or 7 different vocal styles. He can sing melodically very well and he can also scream his head off which is exactly what we wanted, we wanted to have somebody who is not just a one dimensional singer where he can only sing melodically or he can only scream. We wanted somebody who had the characteristics and the stuff inbetween that as well so it's worked out very well with Henry and I think he's very creative so we're glad to have those guys on board.

Andrew: What have you got planned as far as touring? Obviously you will be taking the band on the road and playing these songs?

Shawn: Yeah we're starting a tour on October 22nd in Las Vegas, we're playing with a band, our label mates called Allegaeon who are a great young band as well. We're planning on hitting it pretty hard in the States and Canada once October starts, we're hoping to get pretty close to December and into December before we take a Christmas break and start right up again in early 2016 and hit every place on the planet that we can go. We really want to tour hard for this record and get out there as much as possible.

Andrew: Yeah definitely and also be looking forward to playing these songs. For setlists, will you be playing any other songs from all the other bands you guys have been a part of or will it strictly be an Act Of Defiance setlist only?

Shawn: I think it's better off to just stay current, to play what you have done in the past I think would kind of only be a bit of a parody in a sense because you don't have the members of that band. I would rather play an old cover tune if I had to instead of reverting back to what we've done in our previous bands. You don't want to rely on what you have done in the past because then people perceive you as such. They say, 'Oh they played on the record, it's OK but they are still playing those old tunes by that other band'. I don't want to go down that road, I would rather ask Chris do a 15 minute guitar solo and make the fans happy who might want to see that kind of thing instead of playing works from our previous bands. We want to stay current and focused on what we're doing now certainly.




Andrew: I wanted to go into your history a little bit and how you got into drums in the first place. And one of the things that I've noticed with you is I know that you're a left hander so you play the drums opposite to what drummers usually play so how did you get into drums in the first place and was it difficult to learn how to play drums in the way that you play it?

Shawn: My brother Glen and my older brother Brian and my father were all guitar players. My older brother was teaching Glen to play [which] I think Glen was 9 or 10 at the time and I was 13 and I wanted to play music too but I gravitated towards drums more. Of course I play both, I've been playing guitar for over 30 years as well. I just had a more rhythmic sensibility in me and the drums as well as the guitar fascinated me so I figured, you know what? If I play drums, I can be in a band with my brother, it would make sense because there's a guitar player and a drummer so I chose drums. But honestly the reason why, I started off being just a fan of rock music. This was in the late 70's when I was a big Queen fan and my brother was into Deep Purple and Black Sabbath. My brother brought home a record from Rush called "All The World's A stage" which was their first live record and I think this was in 1978 when I was 12 and he put that on and I could not believe a human being could play like that. As a 12 year old kid, I had never heard the drums played like that before so I freaked out instantly and that was kind of the light switch that went off and said, 'OK now you need to be a musician'. And that's kinda what catapulted me into becoming a musician, was that record and to this day and many years later, Rush is still my favorite all time rock band. They were really the catalyst for me changing from being a music lover and a music fan to wanting to, and ultimately becoming a professional musician. Learning to play, once I started playing, there was no reference point. There was no youtube back then, we didn't have instructional drum videos or none of that stuff. I got on my buddy's drumkit and started playing left handed and it didn't seem wierd to me at all, of course I didn't know any better. The drum setup was setup the same way as a right handed player would play it except my ride cymbal was on the left side. It's the only difference between myself playing and a right handed drummer playing would be the position of the Ride cymbal, everything else is the same.

Andrew: Has that always been the same through-out your career or have you changed things here and there as far as your setup is concerned?

Shawn: Yeah I mean I've always played left handed but yeah my kit has expanded and changed a little bit over the years but not a whole lot. Once I started playing double bass drums, I was probably 14 or 15 at that point and it's been the same way ever since. So not a whole lot has changed to be honest, a lot of cymbals, a lot of drums, that's just how I like to do it.

Andrew: OK cool. Well as you said you are taking this on the road so hopefully you can get down to Australia as well as we would love to see Act Of Defiance do a show here.

Shawn. Oh yeah certainly we want to get back down there and play Australia. It's a great country, I've been there many times and I just love the fans of metal there and just a beautiful country to visit as well. We're making the effort to get down there in 2016 for sure.

Andrew: Yeah we would love to see it. As I said, the album is sounding fantastic so thanks for your time today, it's been an absolute pleasure!

Shawn: I appreciate it man!


ACT OF DEFIANCE / ALLEGAEON 2015 NORTH AMERICAN TOUR DATES:

Oct 22 - Count's Vamp'd - Las Vegas, NV
Oct 23 - Club Red - Mesa, AZ
Oct 24 - Brick By Brick - San Diego, CA
Oct 25 - Glass House - Pomona, CA
Oct 28 - Area 51 Salt - Lake City, UT
Oct 30 - Marquis Theater - Denver, CO
Oct 31 - Aftershock - Kansas City, KS
Nov 01 - Fubar - Saint Louis, MO
Nov 03 - Vintage Villians - Danville, IL
Nov 04 - Double Door - Chicago, IL
Nov 05 - Token Lounge - Decatur, IL
Nov 06 - The Foundry - Lakewood, OH
Nov 08 - Montage - Rochester, NY
Nov 09 - Mod Club - Toronto, Canada
Nov 11 - Petit Campus - Montreal Metro Area, Canada
Nov 13 - Saint Vitus - Brooklyn, NY
Nov 14 - WATERFRONT TAVERN - Holyoke, MA
Nov 15 - Providence Metal Fest - Providence, RI


Tickets and tour details can be found HERE.
Pickup a copy of the album at Nervegas.com.au.


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Interview by Andrew "Schizodeluxe" Massie on September 2nd 2015