Melbourne symphonic/folk/death metal band, Stormtide will release their debut album, Wrath Of An Empire on August 1st, an intricately woven, nine part epic tale of ruin, heroism and dark deeds centred around the adventures of the Warrior, the Prince and the Magician. We spoke to keyboardist Reuben Stone about the new album, a little history of the band and their upcoming shows.
Andrew: Your new album just dropped “Wrath Of An Empire” which is pretty cool stuff. I guess you consider yourselves to be folk metal or melodic death metal or somewhere along those lines?
Reuben: Yeah it’s kind of hard to pigeonhole us, we’ve been called a world of different things. One person calls us a Children Of Bodom ripoff [laughs], we’re not really sure where that is coming from.
Reuben: I would say we’re just fantasy metal, that’s the best way I would describe because we take influences from so many different genres of metal and beyond, we can’t really say, ‘Yeah we’re folk metal’ because then we have some sort of weird djent thing going on sometimes and that sort of stuff.
Andrew: So what do you consider to be your biggest influence musically? What style do you think you lean more towards?
Reuben: Biggest influence for me personally would be the band Equilibrium and they call themselves epic metal, and they’re very folky as well and our guitarist’s biggest influence is Insomnium. So you combine those two things, what do you get?
Andrew: “Wrath Of An Empire” is a bit of a concept album from what I understand right?
Andrew: What is the concept? Is it a bit of a fantasy story I guess?
Reuben: Yes very high fantasy, swords, scorcerers, dragons, that sort of stuff.
Andrew: And you had a couple of releases before, this is the first full length but you had an EP before right?
Reuben: Yeah I think it would of been a few years ago now. We released an EP called “A Skalds Tale” and that was our first foray into trying to create something.
Andrew: So this album how long did it take to write and record?
Reuben: I would say it took about 2 years to write the songs and another year of just refining and recording.
Andrew: Was it a difficult process to go through? 2 years sounds like it was a bit of a long process.
Reuben: Yeah it was. It was a fun one, I wouldn’t say at any point it was gruelling, it was a lot of fun to do. But yeah it wasn’t easy, it was a lot of long nights.
Andrew: Was the story always going to be there? Was the concept there from the beginning or was it something that came along as you were writing?
Reuben: It was there from the beginning. I came up with the concept first and then we actually based the album on that concept.
Andrew: So what was the inspiration for the story then?
Reuben: I play a lot of old school computer, RPG games, Dungeons & Dragons and that sort of stuff. So we just took all the stuff that we knew from literature and video games and just threw it all together and see what came out.
Andrew: OK so you actually sat down and story boarded something I guess?
Reuben: Yeah absolutely. For each song, I guess you could say would be one chapter of the overall novel.
Andrew: Now you guys have a bunch of shows coming up, which ones will you be playing off the album?
Reuben: So for the next show that we have which is supporting Anna Murphy, ex-Eluveitie, we will obviously playing a shorter set because she’s the main focus. So we’re playing entirely new songs from the album, just not all of them but then for all of our album launch shows we’re playing the whole album from start to finish in full.
Andrew: I did want to ask you about Anna Murphy, I know the band Eluveitie was just here recently. Did you guys open for them at all?
Reuben: Yeah we did, we were their Melbourne support.
Andrew: OK cool, how was it?
Reuben: Oh it was great! They’re really nice people, the crowd was crying for an encore which was just crazy. We didn’t give them one because we didn’t know what songs to play them at that point in time but it was a really great show!
Andrew: It was kind of surprising to hear that Anna Murphy and a few of the other members decided to leave the band. Did that sort of thing come up when you had the chance to hang out with the band at all?
Reuben: Not really, I couldn’t pick up on any sort of tension or anything. They were doing their own thing but the other member was a session member, he was running around with us and that sort of thing.
Andrew: And Anna is coming back to do a solo tour which I guess musically she’s a little different to what Eluveitie does I suppose.
Reuben: Yeah very much so. I would say it’s leaning more towards hard rock I guess.
Andrew: Yeah I haven’t heard much of her solo stuff so I can’t really comment on that but I guess it’s a little more traditional than what Eluveitie does.
Reuben: It’s damn cool though, we’re so privileged to get the chance to play with her and those calibre of people so I’m very excited!
Andrew: Yeah she has such a great voice and such a talent on the Hurdy-Gurdy as well. How many guys are in your band and what instruments are involved? Do you have any traditional instruments like that at all?
Reuben: Oh no. So we have 6 members, 2 guitarists, 1 bassist, 1 vocalist, 1 drummer and myself on keyboard and I do all the orchestral stuff.
Andrew: So it’s almost classical influenced in some ways then.
Reuben: Yeah I approach it from a classical sort of concept, the other guys not so much.
Andrew: OK cool. Just getting back to the tour, which is the first of your headlining tour?
Reuben: The first show which was just announced 10 minutes ago [August 15th] is in Geelong on September 2nd.
Andrew: Oh right! And you guys are based in Melbourne right?
Reuben: That’s true yep.
Andrew: We have a band that we are managing right now that will be supporting you guys at the Valve Bar in Sydney on September 10th, how far into the tour is that show?
Reuben: That’s the second show.
Andrew: OK so the first show is in Geelong, second is in Sydney, what do you have after that?
Reuben: Nothing that’s been announced thus far, we are still crossing the t’s and getting all the support bands in order. But we are headlining a festival on October 22nd in Melbourne.
Andrew: What festival is that one?
Reuben: It’s called Metal To My Ears, October 22nd and we’re headlining that with some really awesome bands as well.
Andrew: So the Geelong show, who is opening for you guys on that one?
Reuben: The bands that are playing with us are Aeonian and they’re pretty fresh, just really awesome atmospheric, dark sort of band. We have Naberus and then our main support is Myridian and they’re just incredible so looking forward to that too.
Andrew: Yeah and the Sydney show has a hell of a lineup too with bands coming from various places. You’ve obviously done some shows in Sydney before?
Reuben: Yeah we’ve played a couple of shows there, we’re proud to get back, it’s certainly one of our favorite places to play.
Andrew: I know because they are quite close to each other that Melbourne and Sydney have a lot of similarities but are there any differences in the crowds over there between the two cities?
Reuben: Definitely. I would say in Melbourne there is a lot more people that go to black metal and death metal sort of gigs, there’s just not really any folky, fun stuff down that way, only a couple of bands. Whereas in Sydney I find a lot more of those ‘happier’ bands.
Andrew: Oh right so they embrace a lot more of the upbeat kind of stuff then.
Reuben: Yeah must be all the sun you get up there rather than us where it’s dark and gloomy down here maybe [laughs].
Andrew: [laughs] Admittedly in Perth we don’t have a lot of those kind of bands, the biggest one we have that is sort of along those lines is Claim Of Throne which you may or may not have heard of?
Reuben: Yeah we actually played a show with them down in Geelong.
Andrew: Oh right ok! You’ve never been to this side of the country before have you?
Reuben: No we’re definitely aiming too. We have our good friends Wrath Of Fenrir who are over there as well.
Andrew: Yes they also opened for Eluveitie as well.
Reuben: And they are awesome dudes!
Andrew: That kind of music is something that I came late too after I discovered bands like Finntroll and Korpiklaani. How did you get into this style of music and what made you decide to be in a band?
Reuben: Funny story actually! I would of probably been around 15-16 I think or maybe a little older than that and I heard the song “Wooden Pints” by Korpiklaani and I loved it and I went up to my Mum and went, ‘Mum, Mum, Mum listen to this! This is great!’ and she’s like, ‘I don’t really…’No listen to it!’ and she went, ‘Oh that’s very nice’. So that’s my first time I experienced folk metal so that’s what got me into that.
Andrew: Yeah it’s weird how it’s that one band that makes it click. For me it was definitely Korpiklaani that got me into this folk metal stuff, I saw their show a few years ago and was blown away by how great and so much energy they had on stage, it was amazing stuff.
Reuben: They’re like a gateway drug for folk metal.
Andrew: Yeah and also Finntroll who are one of the most well known bands in this style of music, certainly the most mainstream I guess.
Reuben: Yeah we had the pleasure of opening for them in what would of been a year or 2 ago now and again, they were just incredible to watch live.
Andrew: It must be pretty cool to be hanging with these bands and opening for them. Has there been one particular one that has stood out for you that you think has been a highlight so far?
Reuben: Yes definitely. It’s not the biggest, I’d say it’s one of the smallest international supports we’ve got but we actually opened for the band Gloryhammer.
Andrew: I’m not too familiar with them I think?
Reuben: It’s Chris Bowes from Alestorm, the keytarist/vocalist, it’s his other band. We played this tiny show at the Barwon Club which is my local pub and it was not big, there was only 40 people there but it was the funnest show we ever played.
Andrew: What made it so special and so much fun? Was it just the vibe in the place or something?
Reuben: Just the vibe. Afterwards my guitarist pushed some pavlova into his face and it was an absolute party on a Sunday night, the venue was kicking us out because we wouldn’t leave.
Andrew: [laughs] Sunday night is a strange one! How is the music scene in Sydney and Melbourne at the moment? You hear stories about venues closing down and stuff like that, are crowds still showing up to gigs over there?
Reuben: The music scene is only ever as strong as the people who actually go to the shows I think. So with that in mind, I think the music scene is pretty good. I think there’s too much options now for people so they only see 40 people at a show but you consider how many shows are actually happening every week, you get a pretty consistent fanbase there.
Andrew: Do you think if there were more closures of venues and there were only a few select venues that there would be bigger crowds then?
Reuben: Quite possibly but I would never want that to happen. Live music is really important and there needs to be a few really big ones for the international bands and a few mid-tier ones, a lot of live music venues otherwise you get 400 capacity ones that charge too much cover fee.
Andrew: Yeah that’s true. What’s the best venue to play at in Melbourne?
Reuben: That’s a good question! My personal favorite to play at would probably be the Hi-Fi, I think for me personally that’s the best one to play on. A nice big stage, the sound system is amazing but in terms of your local, the Tote. That’s the one to go if you’re not an international support band.
Andrew: Yeah I hear the Tote is really good, I also like the Bendigo Hotel across the road, that’s a really good venue as well.
Reuben: Yeah that’s where we are doing the festival in October.
Andrew: Oh right cool! Well congratulations on the new album, it’s fantastic to see you finally got your full length album out and hopefully the shows you got coming up will go over really well and also hope to see you over in Perth some time.
Reuben: We’re very keen to go to Perth, it’s just a matter of figuring out how to get there and where we play and all that sort of stuff.
Andrew: Yeah definitely. We will be seeing you in Sydney on 10th September anyway so will definitely say hi and have a few beers. Thanks for your time today, really appreciated.
Reuben: That’s alright, my pleasure mate.
STORMTIDE AUSTRALIAN TOUR 2016:
August 27th – The Evelyn Hotel, Melbourne [supporting Anna Murphy]
September 2nd – The Barwon Club, Geelong
September 10th – The Valve Bar, Sydney
September 17th – The Basement, Canberra
October 22nd – Bendigo Hotel, Melbourne [Metal To My Ears Festival] November 26th – TBA, Brisbane
More info on Stormtide and the tour can be found on their official Facebook Page.