Thursday, May 15, 2008

ON A PALE HORSE Interview - Vipers on the loose!

I remember a day back in ’05 when I was sitting around, chewing the metal fat (damn, sounds good!) with the Peacedogman. I was singing the praises (as I always do) of Chicago metal merchants Bible Of The Devil & the Pooch guy was heard to say, “Man, talking about some killer straight-ahead metal, you oughta check out these guys from Iowa, ON A PALE HORSE!” Now, knowing Ray like I do (one of my personalities, you see), I wasn’t surprised to know that he went rushing out to grab the band’s 2 discs and place them in heavy rotation. For you see, they crushed living ass and Ray is totally liable to repeatedly play music that pillages. ON A PALE HORSE don’t fuck around. They deliver a killer brand of raw metal, not utterly removed from some ‘80’s gods like Pantera & Iron Maiden, laced with a Southern shot of Jack & augmented by some early day Seattle sounds. So, stop horsing around and read on for an education on OAPH with singer, Aaron Peltz.

RAY - ON A PALE HORSE…It struck me as a very cool, interesting name right from the first time I heard it. Then again, I enjoy watching ants crawl across the sidewalk, so…. Seriously, I believe it’s the name of a novel, is that correct? Fave book of somebody or did you just like the sound of it? Didn’t METAL CHURCH originally call one of the songs from “The Dark” something like “To Ride A Pale Horse” and then change it when the album came out? Doesn’t Ray ever shut up?!?!

AARON - On A Pale Horse was a song title from the band that morphed into OAPH and yes it was influenced from the Piers Anthony book of the same name. Nothing really other than it sounded cool. A lot of bands nowadays like to put a preposition at the start of their name, but I can safely say we didn’t do that to follow a trend since we’ve been together for 7 years. When I joined the band in ’04 I though it was an unusual name too. I’m not sure about the METAL CHURCH song, but I really dig me some, especially the first record.

RAY - I believe I’m correct in that one of the guitarists in OAPH was in SLIPKNOT early on? How did he come to leaving those Iowa down-tuned masked guys and what led to the formation of ON A PALE HORSE? You can feel free to go back as far as you want in the history of all this. I’ve always been a fan of history. I’ve also always been a fan of the Oakland Raiders, but then again, that’s my problem.

AARON - Yeah, Josh was in SLIPKNOT up to the end of the recording of there first record with Roadrunner and quit for personal reasons. The band was started though by guitarist Jerry and original bassist Jeremy Easley after they wanted a musical direction change from there previous band. They were really heavy and all of us came from a lot heavier bands, some border line death metal. The crazy thing was we wanted to do something like Down, Acid Bath, COC, Clutch, Kyuss, etc., but were unaware of how big that genre really is in the underground. I mean besides like Acid Bath and Jerry’s hero Wino we had no idea of the scope of the scene we were trying to enter. Around our hometown of Des Moines nobody was doing what we were doing, it was a bunch of nu-metal bands. When we started getting reviews back for the first record we were hearing references to ATP, Floodgate, and some other more indie bands and we were like “What! Who are they?!” Did some research and we understood what people were saying. That kinda made us do a 90 degree turn and think about how to stay within the genre, but be our own band and not be pidgeon-holed as copies of those bands. I mean, those are some very influential bands, but there can be only one Clutch, one COC, one Down, one Wino, etc..

RAY - So they’re sitting there thinking “Ok, when’s it coming? Where’s he going to hit us with the old ‘influences’ question?” The answer, my friends is: Now. What got you all bitten by the bug of playing music? What kinds of stuff did you dig from the old days? Anything happening these days float your individual or collective boats? I know this is sometimes one of those “pat” questions that dickhead interviewers always ask, but in your case, I am actually curious. With your stuff, I hear a lot of very heavy stuff, aggression and all that, yet there’s an underlying kinda bluesy, Southern-sorta feel that crops up in some of the intros, guitar parts, etc. It’s something I really dig as it puts me in mind at times of the later COC stuff, and DOWN for that matter. At the same time, I get a sense of melody from you guys, amid the heavy riffing, that hints at the songwriting skills of a band like Thin Lizzy.

AARON - We are just a culmination of all the various types of rock and metal that we liked growing up and were influenced by. From Slayer and Metallica to the Sabbathy type bands we are fans of. The simplicity and loudness of Motorhead to the structure and catchiness of Kiss. At the end of the day we want a song that you can hum along to, but yet not be mainstream. 3 of us are huge Slayer fans and I am one of those fans that yell “FUCKIN SLAYER” before the concert. Any concert for that matter. Like I said before this genre was new to most of us. My influences are steeped in underground thrash like Exodus (keep in mind I am an eighties guy so these bands were all underground back then for our young readers), Venom, Coroner, Kreator, Sepultura. I am also hugely influenced by Iron Maiden which is my favorite band of all time and was my first concert. The grunge movement was a also a big influence on me just for the fact that I was exposed to Soundgarden. I can’t deny the fact that Pantera and Down had an influence on us. COC also, I remember COC back in their hardcore days and was stunned when I heard “Blind” the first time. We also are big fans of GNR and AC/DC.

RAY - I was originally turned on to you guys by Mark from He’s an astute sort of guy. I remember I’d been talking to him about the new (at that time) BIBLE OF THE DEVIL disc, “Brutality Majesty Eternity” and, quoth he: “Man, you think that’s good, you oughta check out ON A PALE HORSE!” I found a copy of your self-titled 2005 opus and, by God, he was right! I also secured a copy of ‘04’s “Black Is Not The Darkest Colour.” Now, holding in my grimy hands a copy of your brand-new “A Generation Of Vipers,” I’m curious…is there any other OAPH material or have I secured it all?

AARON - Nope, that’s the small catalogue.

RAY - What do you see as the growth pattern between the 3 records? To me, the new one is easily the best, song and sound-wise. I like the fact that you guys are able to put so much into songs that are basically 3-4 minutes long. They seem longer in a sense (and no, not because I’ve done acid!) because there is a lot of cool riffing going on, yet they remain catchy because they’re concise. Obviously, the exception, time-wise is “Release The Smoke,” coming in at just over 7 minutes. Any commentary on any of this or am I just spending too much time with my stopwatch? Do you think we’ll ever see another track the length of “The Darkest Colour” on the first record?

AARON - I think the biggest thing that has helped us grow during each record was working with Warren Riker and also not being shy about using all of our influences. As far as the song lengths, if we get a chance to do more records I could see us doing another real long track like “The Darkest Colour”. “Release the Smoke” from the new one was going to be around 10 minutes and we decided to cut it back. To us it really only works for certain songs with the right vibe. I mean I can’t imagine listening to 6 minutes of “Sound the Alarm” it would just be too much.

RAY - Quick, a “Red Light Challenge!” What is the most common sight in rural section of Iowa? Idyllic families admiring fall foliage? Tough, frightening men playing violent heavy metal music in a shed while they skin something that looks relatively inhuman? College football coaches having illicit sex with polecats on school property? Or…is it something else altogether?

AARON - Probably big families getting together in a park or something like that, drinking beer and barbequing.

RAY - Lyrically, there seems to be more going on with you guys than let’s go party, screw some chicks, smoke some dope, all that. Not that I’m condemning anyone who’s done any of those things (as I myself never have, of course…ahem!). A couple tracks like “Soma Sema” and the aforementioned “Release The Smoke” seem to have a sort of philosophical, spiritual tone to them. Is this right?

AARON - First off, I have never considered myself a lyricist and when it comes to songwriting I prefer the guitar over the pen anyday. Of course ya gots to have the words. My biggest thing with content is not being fake and not telling stories that haven’t done or been a witness to. “Release the Smoke” is about going into a Native American sweat lodge and receiving visions. Jerry actually wrote that one since he’s native and I was really stoked with how it turned out. “Soma Sema” means “the body is a tomb” in latin and it’s about overcoming the fear of death and once you do that everything becomes clear.

RAY - Do you think that one philosopher (can’t place his name) who said that if you were born with a ping pong ball on your nose, you’d never notice it was right?

AARON - Not all because we’re conditioned by what we have seen since birth. Unless the ball was in your ass.

RAY - While we’re on a lyrical trip, could you take a couple more songs and give us a sort of thumbnail sketch on what they’re dealing with? Some of my readers can actually read, so they dig this stuff!

AARON - Sure. “The Legend of John Doe” is a song about the invisibility of the common man. Without the blue collar worker our societies wheels would fall off. “Ready to Burn” is about recognizing those internal scars that haunt you unless you can come to terms with it.

RAY - How did you hook up with Corporate Punishment Records? Does it look like they’re going to be able to get your disc into more people’s hands via retail stores, etc.? I haven’t seen it anywhere around here, but that may not mean anything because Baltimore generally sucks.

AARON - We were hooked up with CPR by our friend Chris Hamilton and right now I couldn’t even tell what stores or cities the disc is at. We’ve had sightings here of course and as far out as the east coast. I really hope we can get the record available in most stores, but it is on itunes.

RAY - How about touring? Have you done much outside your general area? Is Corporate Punishment going to get any bucks behind you to help out with this? What about the Baltimore area? We are having a dearth of real rock around here and it’s making me anxious. Do something before I do something crazy in my rawk-starved frenzy!

AARON - We’re on our own as far as touring and it’s going to mostly Midwest for now. Hopefully in the late summer we can get something together for a little trek out to the coasts and to the south.

RAY - Do you guys wear hearing protection onstage? Remember, even acoustic earplugs don’t guard against sexually-transmitted diseases!
AARON - I personally hate wearing earplugs, but know I should. I don’t think any of us wear them.

RAY - In this day and age, even the CD seems to be turning into a thing of the past. With downloads, mp3’s, etc. do you see a day when there will be virtually no physical medium for recorded music? What are your thoughts on all this, vinyl, discs, the internet, etc. with regard to a band like yourselves?

AARON - Digital downloading has really changed the music business. Back in the day if you were interested in a band you had to search it out and buy the whole damn thing even if it ended up sucking. I have tons of vinyl from thrash bands that are horrid, but the fun was in the risk. You’d see a cool album cover and be like “This is gonna be bad ass!” and then it would be terrible. Now everyone can preview your music and only buy one song. That’s a HUGE thing for the unsigned or indie band. The obstacle we have is trying to promote ourselves so people even know we have a record available and it has to be done on the internet which makes us have to sell over the internet. That brings us back to the selling of one song at a time…There’s really no escaping it. The bands just have to learn to adapt. Unfortunately bigger artists are now giving there material away for free which affects the smaller artist.

RAY - What do you see as the future of ON A PALE HORSE? Can you picture the day when you’ll make a 3 record concept album about something like “Nostradamus?”

AARON - Man, I would love to do something like “Mindcrime”. I loved what Voivod did with their records.

RAY - Ok, fun time! Go back through the annals (hey, that’s not a cuss word…get your mind out of the gutter!) of ON A PALE HORSE. Tell us all a story of something that has happened in the history of the band that is uproariously funny, completely disgusting, disturbingly weird or just plain entertaining…spare nothing, don’t hold back!

AARON - Last November we were headed up to Green Bay for a show after a night at a haunted house. No shit! The night before we had a show in Rockford and we stayed at a promoters old Victorian era house that was converted into a massage school. There were doors opening and shutting upstairs, things flying around the room. It was crazy. The next day we headed up to GB and as I was falling asleep the engine shutdown and smoke was filling up the van. We all got out and noticed fire dripping underneath the van. We didn’t have a fire extinguisher so we mad scrambled to get the trailer unhitched and save our equipment. 2 minutes later the van was engulfed.

RAY - Any final thoughts for the RAYSREALM readers

AARON - Thanks for the support from the people that have been following us and if you haven’t give us a chance and go check us out!

There ya go, RAYSREALM readers! You want your metal loud, heavy and loaded up with great songs and a deep, soulful vibe go no further than ON A PALE HORSE. “A Generation Of Vipers” rules!


Mark said...

Wow, another great interview Ray. Seems like their new label is really standing on their throat, nobody can get any copies! Glad you got ahold of one - great job!

raysrealm said...

Thanks man! I got my copy thru Amazon. Review coming shortly, so stay tuned for that.