Interview with Tim Roth
February 14, 2007

Enslain Magazine Issue #9

Early in the month of February, only days after Phil, the state’s groundhog, predicted an early spring, a Canadian cold front by the name of Into Eternity passed through Philadelphia, disrupting the region’s mildest winter in decades.  Standing outside of a church basement in anticipation, the line-up of under-dressed fans could appreciate the desperation of “Surrounded by Night” or, certainly, “Timeless Winter,” with a wholly different understanding.  Yet the ravenous cold was not to deter the masses who would have gladly given their shirts to experience what was about to occur.  I was among them, and for those bitter cold moments we were all the same.

Pre-order Issue #9!  This 10-page interview featured with photos!

Not very long back, I was among those who would have stayed home rather than battle the cold and the long drive for such a band.  Like many other extreme metal fans, I hadn’t quite connected with Into Eternity’s sound, being perhaps too conceptually progressive to easily grasp.  Similarly to record labels, my need to catalog this band in some pigeon-hole failed, and the ultra-high power-esque vocals of “Buried in Oblivion” were too much to handle.  I even recall how much it irritated me, similar to my first reactions to Nevermore, and probably even Iron Maiden when I was much younger. ‘There’s really something to this, but I can’t listen to these vocals’ I thought.  Even after several attempts, it just wasn’t happening.

Shortly after this exposure, Into Eternity had the challenge of opening for Amorphis, coincidentally my favorite artists of all time.  They were inevitably predisposed to failure in my eyes, and it didn’t help that they had been moved from the main stage at the Trocadero in Philly, to the upstairs Balcony Bar, a slap-in-the-face stage for shows that fail to draw.  Regrettably, I didn’t even allow them the opportunity to disappoint or impress.  Their next opportunity to win me over was unusually not long after, as the opening act for Hammerfall and Edguy.  Not being much of a power metal enthusiast, I expected little from the night, but just left my mind open to each of the performances.  By this point, several of their songs had already managed to lodge themselves firmly into my brainwaves, and the recognition factor elevated my acceptance of their live show.  I found myself feeling the excitement of the songs and sharing in the vocalist’s enthusiasm, watching with undisrupted interest as he connected with and fed off of the crowd, singing to them with album-like clarity and strength.  And this was just supplementary to the ultra impressive solos and sweeps that were effortlessly blazing across the guitars, almost as impressive in sight as in sound.  By the time they reached ‘Beginning of the End’ I realized that they had unexpectedly gained a lifelong fan.  Though I had come out to see Hammerfall, the rest of the night paled in comparison to this opening band from Saskatchewan.

Although then new vocalist Stu Block’s interpretation of the vocals really drew me in, I realized it wasn’t the previous singer who caused me not to immediately love this band, as upon further spins, “Buried in Oblivion” had quickly become one of the most important and perfect releases in my collection.  There was some other mental barrier that required cracking, and once that process had begun, there was no stopping it from infecting and spreading hastily.  Quite fortunately, several more tours since then made their way through, with my new addiction as support, and, in fact, they became almost unavoidable, as it seemed they were on the flyer for every metal tour that came around.

I was overwhelmingly enthusiastic for the guys when I learned that they’d been accepted on Gigantour’s second annual line-up in 2006.  I thought of what a great opportunity it would be for them to win over fans the way they did with me, and though I almost didn’t want to share, simultaneously I wanted the entire world to feel the same rush of power that surged when I listened to their songs.  And I knew that after all their efforts, they deserved the recognition.  While essentially everyone else in Canada was sitting in their igloos eating whale blubber, Into Eternity had been silently plotting their take-over, knowing precisely what sounds would transcend our comprehension and invigorate our senses.

So what is it exactly about this band that’s worth all of this exorbitant praise?  Into Eternity are not the first to fuse elements of seemingly every metal genre into one final product, but they are, perhaps, the first to do so in such a cohesive and meaningful way.  Blending the awe-inspiring talent and precision of progressive metal scales with the heavy substance of death/black riffs, they lead the songs into a melodic chorus that begs you to sing along.  They provide just enough song structure to feel and embrace, while subtly yet grandiosely interweaving complex leads and solos long displaced from modern metal.  Then there are the nostalgic Iron Maiden influenced guitar harmonies, which many bands have tried and failed to properly incorporate, but these guys execute with excellence.  The vocal capabilities the band offers are enviable, growling throughout the abrasive moments and seamlessly switching to three-part vocal harmonies during the emotionally critical segments, pulling at every heartstring and not releasing.  The potent lyrics heighten every feeling and their desperation becomes mutual, especially because of their powerful delivery and repetition.  Each song has a powerful identity, including post-ballad songs like “Surrounded by Night” and the epic duality of “Buried in Oblivion” and “Black Sea of Agony”, adding a heavier touch of Dream Theater to an already classic repertoire.

Gigantour was my first opportunity to see them after gaining full appreciation of their musical offerings, and I came early and enthusiastic.  My enthusiasm melted slowly, sitting in assigned seats 20 rows from the stage with very few fans scattered throughout the arena, making the connection to the band’s energy quite difficult to simulate.  Only three songs later of screaming word for word back at them from fifty feet away, and I realized it was over, and the experience was so unsatisfying that I couldn’t accept it.  The next day I planned my road trip to Pittsburgh, the first time in over five years that I had decided a show was worth the 650 mile round trip.  Even more importantly, it was a headlining Gigantour off-date, a rare opportunity to see them play an extended and perhaps more theatrical set.  Though somewhat disastrous in attendance, lacking a suitable PA or lighting system, and being on a ridiculous little stage at the Lawrenceville Moose, as always, they gave it their everything, and I found it to be an hour of absolute euphoria, where I would have done anything to have frozen time.  Even with the unforeseen departure of their second guitar player which had happened days prior, and without a replacement, I only remember being swept up in their powerful songs and contagious energy, and nothing else existed.

If I wasn’t already a fangirl by this point, coming home from Pittsburgh with an advance of “The Scattering of Ashes” didn’t help matters.  Challenged with following-up one of the most complete and fulfilling records in modern metal, “Scattering” takes hold forcefully after the dramatic, anticipation-brewing “Novus Inceptum”, and the clearly Nevermore-inspired beginning to “Severe Emotional Distress.” The leads are as swift and creative as ever, and the choruses even more memorable.  Once again, the guitar work showcases the technique of deliberately sculpted theories, not random accidental riffs.  Tim Roth’s writing reminds that the guitar is both an artful expression and a tool of musical concept, while yet, in all its flash, it never sounds boastful or superfluous.  Song structure is central to the winning formula, and each verse is defined and dynamically builds to a climactic release, which powerfully invites the listener to adhere.  There’s not a moment on the disc where they fail to capture my complete attention, and each song is indispensable.

The vocalist transition was smooth and virtually inconspicuous, having had two years to adjust to his live vocals, and featuring similar range and phrasings on the new record.  The Rob Halford-type falsettos are a new dimension that Stu is able to add to the mixture, and this impressive technique, carefully not overdone, is combined with the pleasing vocal harmonies and harsh death growls that have made this band so remarkable.  Stu’s range and capabilities are astounding, and are showcased nicely on his IE debut.  The record also marks Troy Bleich’s first recording, and there’s no question he’s added musicianship to this band.  The bass lines are just right, just solid enough to back the exhilarating leads, and creative enough to add their own life to the project.  And the drumming on their releases has always impressed me.  While necessarily taking a backseat, they subtly add excitement and drama to the ride.  Listening for them, you’ll hear that the high-energy lines and fills are a lot of what accentuates the effectiveness of the razor sharp guitars.

Several months of anticipation later, we’re brought to that cold basement of the First Unitarian Church in Philadelphia, where I approach Tim, warming up on his guitar prior to the show, and ask for an interview.  Not halting for a moment the blistering fast scales and arpeggios on the high end of the fret board, he looks and responds to me as though his fingers were individually animated entities, still blazing across the guitar with enviable ease.  I watch distractedly in awe and respect.

As I had expected, their performance that night was intense.  Offering a set list of select tracks from their latest two releases, including previously unperformed songs from “Scattering of Ashes”, their 40 minutes started, ended, and maintained an exhilarating high throughout.  It was unfathomable how quickly the night was over, with my spirits in such longing for more.  The truth is, Into Eternity are the perfect live band in every regard.  Their shows are powerful not only because of dynamically crafted music and stunning musicianship, or their unbelievable unity and precision, but also because they have more stage presence than most of their peers.  The reason that’s so important is not for some sort of cheesy image or trendy concept, but because of the shared energy that they create and absorb.  With smaller crowds they do more of the creating: making eye contact, inciting action, and getting in everyone’s faces; while the more enthusiastic audiences boost their performances in the most captivating and inspiring way.  You can see their pleasure, the satisfaction it gives them witnessing that the music they fashioned has such an impact on strangers, but after a show you no longer feel like a stranger, because you were part of that moment, part of that song; you were why it was written, why it was performed.  Why else would there be a demand for groups of musicians to travel from town to town in broken down vans to play on stages when you could just as easily listen to the CD at your convenience?  The energy is so evident, so beyond reason.  You stop feeling silly banging your fists and singing along because Stu has enough silly in him for a whole venue.  The audience’s chanting often resounds louder than the band’s, and you’re left facing an entire room of would-be singers rivaling the three-microphone scream of “SPIRALING… INTO… DEPRESSION!!!”  This is it.  They’ve got it.

And that is why, after returning from the Baltimore show the next day to see them once more, I booked a flight to New Orleans to have yet another opportunity to experience this magically powerful event.  While it may seem extreme, expensive, excessive, or just plain fucked up, to me it was perfectly sensible, and I followed my impulse.  It was also my first trip to the state, and being in the French Quarter a week before Mardi Gras was a worthy experience in its own right.  What happened that night at the club, however, I would have never expected.  Explain to me how it was that I was the only fan present at their show in the musical city of New Orleans, yet I had to fly thousands of miles just to get there!  Granted, there were problems with the tour’s promotion, but this was inexcusable.  The room was not empty, yet the twenty square feet nearest the stage was.  And yet, knowing that they weren’t even to be paid for their show that night, they performed to myself and the 12 people standing along the bar with the ferocity and charisma that they always exhibit, as if even one fan was worth giving it their all, and by the end of the set they managed to convert much of the lazy crowd.

Clear shot of the whole stage in New Orleans

Having managed to narrowly escape 10 tornados that night in New Orleans, and leaving 6 feet of snow in their wake back north, they were on to Texas; and, having experienced another unexplainably unsatisfying show (despite having been honored with my own personal Tim Roth guitar solo, which was awesome!), I flew out yet again.  Although the Houston show had much improved attendance, and was greatly more exciting, it marked a rough day for the band, who’d had over a thousand dollars of necessary equipment stolen the night before in San Antonio.  I couldn’t help but to feel their heartbreak, after they had already taken so many financial hits on the tour.  It seemed to me that a band this talented and with so much to offer shouldn’t have to face such a resistant path to deliver their musical offerings to the otherwise deprived masses.

After the show, Into Eternity, Destruction, and crew, were gracious enough to allow me to accompany them on the road for a night, which presented a rare opportunity for me to inspect their inner workings, and the individual personalities that make this band what it is.  Take Troy, for example, who saw a fan in an Into Eternity shirt standing in the bitter cold outside the club in Philly, waiting for doors to open, and Troy offered up his own hoodie to him for warmth.  And even after three years of heavy touring, Troy is one of the only professional musicians that I know of who actually listens to all of the fan-submitted demos he receives, analyzing, and giving them a chance.  His respect for their musicianship seems to reflect the struggles he undertook to arrive where he has, and his genuine interest in all things musical and otherwise is inspiring.  Brand new drummer Steve Bolognese, who modestly claims to routinely practice at home on his drums an exhausting eight hours a day, shared his concern that touring wasn’t giving him enough opportunity to rehearse and improve his already impressive technique.  And equally new rhythm guitarist Justin Bender, while being one of the most easy-going guys I recall meeting, still has that fire in his eyes.  Even by the end of the tour, he seemed so caught up in living the moment, and his fresh enthusiasm was contagious. 

Then there’s Stu, their entertainingly charismatic front man, who is no less of one when not in front of fans.  His passion for music, particularly the melodic Viking-style, is so evident as he puts in his Wintersun CD and sings along in dramatic fashion, acting out every forceful note with exaggerated bodily emphasis, as if the whole world was his stage.  While most touring bands tire of listening to metal after a show, this cannot be said about Into Eternity, a band who is so true to their passions.  I don’t think there’s anyone in the band I didn’t catch air-drumming to something that was playing, while Stu seems to prefer his air-guitar.  Even Tim, the band’s allegorical “father” who has been doing this forever, still seems to get excited when talking about his musical influences, his band, and his successes.  Though sometimes visibly worm from the ongoing trials and all the hard work it’s taken to get the band where it is today, his passion for metal is still blaringly obvious.

It’s rare to witness a band so in-the-moment, and yet down-to-earth.  I honestly can’t think of a group of guys I’d wish more success for, but these guys don’t need my personal requests to the fates.  They’ve already got every ingredient they could need, and I’m ready to sit back and watch them explode into the stratosphere, as Dave Mustaine has already prophesized.  It’s sort of unusual that I have such a sense of pride supporting this band; I totally turn uber-fan at their shows, and I feel proud wearing their merch whenever possible.  Like awaiting the baby giant’s inevitable growth spurt, I feel drawn to protect and nurture and support their every effort, and share my passion with anyone willing to listen.

Whether you’re more a fan of the live experience, or the surround sound in your home or car, Into Eternity fails to disappoint.  On stage they deliver powerful vocal assaults and anthemic sing-alongs atop a variety of pit-inducing and soul-defining moments, and their flashy instrumentation and character are at the same level as the arena bands that have come before them.  On disc they have a mechanical precision and fullness of sound that’s perfect for battering your steering wheel while speeding down highways or absorbing and appreciating every intricacy while closing your eyes in musical tranquility.  Their appeal transcends genres and pre-conceived notions, and they’ve breathed new life into a stagnating scene, inspiring bands of all levels to strive for something more.  What more can you ask for?  These guys have it.

 


Enslain:  So, this interview was gonna start off completely differently, because I planned on asking like how you guys started getting successful and stuff like that, and then I saw some of the last several shows, and all the shit that you’re going through, and now I think it’s turning a different page.

Tim: (sighs) OK. Normally… this isn’t a normal tour, normally we have like fans and it’s like crazy, it’s just that the shows you’ve seen us on are like, it kinda puts a bad light on the band.

Enslain: So the shows I didn’t see were different?

Tim: Yeah, oh fuck yeah, oh for sure, they were killer, yeah, a lot of the shows were killer, like you should have seen Brooklyn, and the west coast, it just depends on the market, a place like New Orleans is something like, we’ve never actually even played in the French Quarter in our lives, but the problem with this tour, it’s a killer tour, we love playing with Destruction, but there was another band on here, Sadus, of course, and since they dropped out, most of the promoters aren’t advertising our band so some of our fans know about this, but a lot of our fans e-mailed me and said they’re waiting for The Haunted tour, because we’re doing another tour like two weeks right after this, and in nicer venues, and with 5 times the amount of people, so…

Enslain: Why wouldn’t they just go to both if they’re fans?

Tim: (sighs again) If they’re real fans they should… and a lot of fans didn’t want to come because we weren’t listed on the websites, and people would e-mail me and I would e-mail them back and say yes, we are on this.  I got, even, in Orlando, I got e-mails from these fans saying that ‘we’re not coming tonight because you guys should have cleared it up with the promoter that you are playing because we went on the website and you’re not on there’ and I said, dude, our equipment is on stage, our tour bus is here, we are playing tonight, and they never came.  Fans don’t want to drive and get burnt, you know, if you have to drive like an hour, they don’t want to do it if they’re not certain if you’re on the bill.

Enslain:  Well I understand it from the fan’s perspective, but why would the promoters fail to promote a show that they’re supposed to be making money from?  If you don’t get paid, the booking agent doesn’t get paid, and the promoters don’t get paid….

Tim:  Exactly.  Exactly.  Well, that lies in with the problem with promoters and like, that’s why a few of these shows we haven’t gotten paid, because at the end of the night the promoters have like $1200 and it’s not nearly enough for the package, but if they would have promoted it… We were just on MTV last week, and we sold 10,000 over the past 9 weeks, our band is actually a big band, and we just got off an arena tour, and for them not to promote is ludicrous, I think.  But that’s their own problem, that’s just bad business.  Tonight here (in Houston) there were actually posters with our names, it’s the first venue we’ve come to where it said Into Eternity with Destruction, but that’s the risk you take when you jump in on an already planned tour, and a band drops out.  I talked to Schmier from Destruction, he said the last tour they did in the U.S. they jumped in for Nuclear Assault and the same thing happened to them, every venue it said Nuclear Assault is here, not Destruction, and they got screwed too.

Enslain:  But that would still account for fans coming out, maybe they thought Sadus was playing, or maybe fans were here for Destruction, but where are people?

Tim: I don’t know!  That’s a good question.  Yeah, metal is a tough sell these days.

Enslain:  But you guys have your own fan base, who go to your website, and know when you’re coming to these venues, and with all the touring that you’ve done…

Tim: I know, some fans need to be force-fed, and need to be told and reassured.  We have a lot of kids, also, in our fan base, and some of these shows were over 21 shows, and I know on our MySpace, all of our fans are usually 14 to like, 21 maybe, we have a really young fan base, like a ton of our fans are young on that MySpace, so if you do any drinking shows, it’s gonna be tough for a band like us.  But anyways, this is still a cool tour, for me.

Enslain:  So how many good stories do you have from this tour?  I want you to tell the story about the stripper you guys saw in New Orleans!

Tim: (laughing) Well we had like a half hour to go on before we went on stage, and we’ve never been in the French Quarter, and our merch girl is telling us there’s like strip clubs and shit, and she says there’s also these things called live sex shows, and I was like, ‘What? Are you kidding me?’ that’s unheard of in the U.S., in Amsterdam I know they have that, but, so we went for a walk and we went into this live sex show and there was no cover, so me and Justin walk into the club and there was this older Brittney Spears, who was quite, wrinkly and… she was totally loaded, kneeling down, eating a piece of pizza instead of stripping, and there was country music playing…

Enslain:  She was on stage?

Tim:  Yeah!  She was on stage, kneeling, eating the pizza as she’s squatting, just like panties on, and she looked down at me and Justin and said (in trailer-park voice) ‘What, never seen a stripper eat pizza before?’ and we’re like, ‘uh actually, no’… and then before she even would go on she said ‘get me a Coke’, so the waitress came and got her a Coke, and she finished her pizza and then lazily went around the pole, never took anything off in 3 songs, and we walked out and went walking back to the venue.  So we never saw anything, and we paid $15 for our two drinks, and we never saw anything.  (laughs).  So we learnt a good lesson that if it’s too good to be true, then maybe it is.

Enslain:  Any other stories?

Tim:  Oh, tons of stories, I don’t know, just this whole tour has been a story, just from not getting paid, to playing venues where if you plug in a light the breaker hits, and, you know, playing the basement of a church, I never thought you could ever have a show in the basement of a church, especially not a Destruction / Into Eternity show, and with song titles that Destruction has, I can’t believe we were allowed to… like ‘Nailed to the Cross’; ‘The Antichrist’… and we’re playing in the basement of a church, with no lights, so our light guy just flicked the light switch on an off on stage, because that’s the best that we had, but so you just gotta play and just laugh it off and wait for the next tour.

Enslain:  Is this the worst tour situation you’ve had?

Tim:  It was the best in that we’re not traveling in a van, and we’re in a nice fuckin’ 45-foot tour bus, and we all have bunks, and there’s crew there, and I don’t even plug in my pedals at night, the crew does it.  So it’s been cushy that way, and hanging out with Destruction every night is awesome, because I grew up on that band, and I grew up on thrash metal, and thrash metal is what started this band.  I loved Bay Area thrash metal and German thrash growing up.

Enslain:  I don’t hear a lot of thrash metal in Into Eternity.

Tim:  Our riffs, if you listen to our thrashier riffs, it’s based off of somewhat thrash, but we’re a hybrid band of course.  If we do thrash metal it’s only for a split second.  Anything that we do, is like four bars, and we’re into the next part.  Next part is black metal, then we go into Iron Maiden singing, and then harmonies, then solo, maybe one thrash riff, then back into whatever, so… Yeah, you won’t hear it, but that’s how I learned to play was thrash metal, like Forbidden, and old Megadeth and Metallica.

Enslain: So you guys have definitely done your part in touring and promoting your albums and being out there, so what more is it going to take for you guys to be a headliner?

Tim:  Um, it’s gonna take more, like we just finally got on MTV after being a band for 10 years, we just got our first video on MTV like two weeks ago, so now we’re doing another video in LA and we’re going to get on MTV with that as well.  As soon as you get on the MTV market, and start getting a bit of that crowd, and start building a bigger fan base, then I think we’ll headline.  But in the time being, I want to keep doing direct support.

Enslain:  Are you guys psyched about being on tour pretty much constantly?

Tim:  Psyched?  Um, it’s just kinda what we have to do.  I like sitting at home on my couch and chilling out, but touring is a part of it, and the only way for our band, like before we never had any MTV or video exposure, so the only way to hear our band besides like satellite radio and stuff is to tour, unless people check out our MySpace or Google us, so we’re kinda trying to do it the old Metallica way, and just tour, tour, tour, and now it’s paying off where we’re selling albums, and now the label’s willing to make videos for us, and then you get big tours like Gigantour just doing arenas, but it’s been like 10 years, so…

Enslain:  At what point in the existence of the band did you realize that you were probably going to be successful, that you’d be signed, that you’d be on tours, that you’d be everywhere you wanted to be?

Tim:  Well I always thought it was going to happen, but for me I never gave up, I always knew, for some reason, I mean every band probably thinks that, but when I was writing songs and practicing my guitar even in my basement before Into Eternity, I always thought the stuff that I was writing was kind of different, even though I guess it’s not that different, but our band kind of has a different sound, I mean with like the clean and the death vocals which is so cliché now, it was kind of new back in like ‘95-‘96 when we were forming Into Eternity.  I thought that if I liked the songs enough, and if I wrote good enough songs, then there’s gotta be other people like me that like this kinda stuff, and at first it was just years of total bullshit, and it still is, but at least now, you know, we’re finally on a tour bus and we’re getting decent tours, but I mean it’s been 11 years since I formed the band.  I thought it was going to happen when I was like 22, and now I’m 31, so it took a lot longer than I expected.  Some bands get breaks, but our band never got a break, we’ve never gotten a break in our life, so we just tour and do the best we can.

Enslain:  But you did get a break, you got Gigantour, and that was a big deal, wasn’t it?

Tim:  I mean, yeah, Gigantour was amazing, but we would have never gotten Gigantour if we wouldn’t have done like 160 shows the year before, because they need a band that’s got at least a bit of drawing power and sells a bit of albums.  There’s a criteria, you have to sell a certain amount, besides a few of the opening bands, to get on Gigantour, so if we wouldn’t have put in all that hard work, we wouldn’t have got on the Gigantour.  So it was a break in a sense, but in another sense, we put in our time, in a way we kind of deserved it more than it was a break, but obviously it was a break because we know Shawn Drover and Glenn who play in Megadeth.  At the end of the day it was Dave Mustaine’s choice.  Shawn said send your stuff to management, we need other opening bands on Gigantour, so we sent it, and management loved it, but they said you’re not getting on this tour if Dave doesn’t like it, so they sent Dave Mustaine our MySpace, and they sent him a few albums, and they said if Dave doesn’t like the death vocals, which he’s not a big fan of death metal, or doesn’t like your band, like you’re not getting on, it doesn’t matter if you have friends in Megadeth.  And Dave listened to it and he liked it, so we got on.  So really we have to thank Dave Mustaine and thank Shawn for even telling us about it, and then thank ourselves for putting in a lot of touring before that.

Enslain:  Did a lot of your fans come out to those shows knowing you were only gonna play three songs?

Tim:  Our fans all came out to the shows, but some fans missed us, and a lot of fans were pissed because some nights we could only play three songs, and some nights we could only do four songs, like 20 minutes was max, but we’re not gonna complain, I mean, if you’re doing arenas, and you give our extreme band 20 minutes, I mean I’m not gonna say, oh, we want more.  We’re happy to be in an arena, and to have full crew take care of us, and full catering, like three meals a day, it was amazing.

Enslain:  Breakfast?  Holy shit!

Tim:  Yeah, breakfast!  Breakfast started at 7 and it went to 11, and I mean this isn’t just like cereal, like they had cereal, sausage, eggs, like everything you could possibly eat, muffins, orange juice, coffee, pop, milk, water, anything, I’m talking serious, full spread, so what we would do, we were so full from lunch and dinner we would just skip breakfast, and then after in the evenings if we were still hungry we would just go for pie dates, and Stu and me would grab a piece of pie, because they would just have desserts out at night, like while Lamb of God or someone was playing, so me and Stu would just sit there, eat pie, and just look at each other like, we’re playing arenas, and just totally taken care of, it was amazing.  And now we’re back to small clubs, but we’re in a tour bus, so that kinda makes it cool for us for this tour, that’s what’s different about this tour.

Enslain:  Do you think you won over a lot of fans on Gigantour?

Tim:  Yeah, definitely, we got a ton of e-mails and stuff about that, and usually during the first few songs people were just kinda standing there, but by the end of the set when we do our train wreck ending and solo and lift up our guitars, by the time we did that we had everyone with their hands in the air, so we always won people over.  There wasn’t one night where we did the train wreck, lifted our hands in the air and there was no response.  There was always a response every night.

Enslain:  How do you feel about the selection of bands you’ve been touring with?  Doesn’t it seem a bit mismatched at times?

Tim:  Yeah, well we did that on purpose.   We’re the only band on the record label that can tour with a death metal band like Hate Eternal, go out with Nevermore and Opeth and we fit on that bill, do power metal tours, we’re trying to hit every market in metal, now this is our first thrash metal tour, we did Naglfar in Europe, a black metal tour.  We’ve done every type of tour so far besides like a hardcore tour, that’s the only thing we haven’t done yet.

Enslain:  I don’t know if that would work.

Tim:  I don’t know if it would work.  But it might!  3 Inches of Blood go over on hardcore tours.  So I’d like to open up for like a Killswitch Engage and play for like the hardcore kids, next.  That’s the only thing that we haven’t done, we’ve covered every genre.  And I don’t know if there’s been any bands that have really done that.   That I know of.

Enslain:  So when are you guys gonna start wearing corpse paint?

Tim:  Never! (laughing).  We have no image, our band.  We just play.

Enslain:  Not so much an image, but you have a definite stage presence, what a lot of bands are missing.

Tim:  A stage presence, yeah.  We’re more about like playing our instruments, not about, like okay, we can only play three chords, we have to dress up and we have to have this crazy show and lights, and we’re not about that, I think our songs are strong enough, and we play, and we’re ripping leads, it’s enough to catch people’s attention without wearing like Kiss boots and spikes.

Stu Block - performing in dramatic fashion

Enslain:  One of the things I love most about Stu is that when I take pictures, you can look at them and almost tell what he was singing at that moment, you can see the vocal technique he was using at any point in time.

Tim:  Oh yeah yeah, Stu’s like a real front man.  They don’t have front mans anymore.  What happened to like the Dickinson and the Halford, that’s a thing of the past, and I think it’s cool that we have Stu trying to do that kind of role again.  That’s what I grew up on, bands had like a cool front man.  Yeah, it’s killer.  Everyone in the band is doing really good.

Enslain:  Do Stu’s stage antics ever catch you off-guard?

Tim:  Yeah, sometimes they do, today he was doing this arm movement, and I actually had to duck, because he didn’t know that I was beside him, so I ducked, and he swung his arm and just missed me, so we always try and keep eye contact on stage, like tonight I had to jump on the monitors and stuff, we just kind of ad lib on stage these days, just trying to have a good time.  I mean we could all just stand there and play, or just stand there and head bang, and that would be cool, but I want to try and do something, have a little bit of a show, and that will come when we’re all comfortable with the songs and our instruments, you know like the new guys and stuff.  The more comfortable they get with our songs, then we’ll be able to start doing more on stage too.  But when you’re always thinking about what you’re playing, it’s kind of tough on the new guys.  For me, I can go anywhere, solo, nothing affects me because I know exactly what I’m doing, but they have a harder time, of course.  But they’ll get it.  They’re doing a really good job on this tour.  I threw them into the fire, you know.  It’s like, let’s get on stage, here’s the set, and be awesome on stage, try and headbang, for them it’s a lot of pressure, but they’re coming through.

Enslain:  How much time did they have before this tour?

Tim:  Almost no time, they had like a few weeks, a couple weeks.  Because Steve lives in Boston, so he couldn’t come down and practice or anything, so he only had like two weeks.  And Justin just learned the songs on his own, he would come over to my house and we would work on the songs, which is fine.  Like him and me playing our songs to my computer is one thing, but getting on stage in front of crowds, and sounds aren’t working, there’s no monitors, fans are screaming in your face, it’s a totally different vibe, so he got thrown into the fire big time.  But he’s doing good.

Enslain:  So the biggest problem that fans seem to have with the new album is that, there’s not enough parts to the vocal harmonies?

Tim:  Oh yeah, not enough…

Enslain:  So what, three’s not enough?

Tim:  I don’t know what more people want.  I don’t hear many bands doing like two-part harmonies, and then into death/black vocals and then Stu doing high falsettos and then over sweeping solos, doing black metal riffs, I mean… I don’t know that many bands that do it, but, if people have a problem with it, then there’s different bands to listen to.  We have our fan base that likes us, they’re like complete diehards, so they love the band a hundred percent, so those are the fans that we’re playing for.

Enslain:  When you guys record the stuff, do all three of you sing the parts, like you do live?

Tim:  It’s separate, in the studio this last time me and Stu did the vocals.  Stu did a ton of vocals actually, like even if I came up with parts like death vocals, and I have the patterns, I wrote the lyrics down, I got Stu to sing them, because he’s gonna be the front man, and I want to take it easy live.  So writing is one thing, but performing is another thing.  If I write something, I write it with my phrasing and stuff, but I give it to Stu and he puts his own twist on it.  So Stu’s the front man of the band, and that’s how I want to keep it, you need like that thin front man with the long hair and screaming, I think that’s cool to have in a band, so we want to keep it like this, and I’ll just back him on the choruses and stuff, and the odd death vocal whenever I have to.

Enslain:  So you write all the lyrics?

Tim:  I’ve written the lyrics, Stu wrote all of “Timeless Winter”.

Enslain:  Yeah, he said that was his baby.

Tim:  Yup, that was his baby.  And even vocals, I came up with the music and stuff, and I sent it to Stu, he was living in Vancouver at the time, and now he lives with me, I built a basement suite in my house, so he lives in my house, so that was like one of the first songs, 'cause I had a lot of vocals written already for the album by the time he came back and moved to Regina.  But “Timeless Winter” was a song that wasn’t done yet, so I said here’s all the music, and he wrote all the lyrics and made up all the vocal melodies for the whole song, and now we’re shooting a video for it, so yeah he did killer.  So on the new album, I think we’ll make it more even, because he’s an awesome writer, it’s just at the time he lived in a different city and we had to get this album done so I just started writing lyrics.  I phrased a lot of stuff, but Stu did too, no question.  Without Stu this album wouldn’t be what it is.

Enslain:  How about the music writing?

Tim:  I was the only guitar player on the album so I wrote the music.  Troy wrote two riffs on the album, and I wrote all the music.  We didn’t have another guitar player, and it’s not like our singer can write riffs, or our drummer can’t write riffs, and Troy can write a few riffs, so it was up to me.

Enslain:  But they write their own parts?

Tim:  Yeah, like I’ll show Troy the riff, and I’ll say OK, now try and think of like some cool bass line to accent it, so they’ll write something underneath it, so it’s still a team effort, but someone’s gotta come up with the actual idea for a song, and then that’s what I do, I’m like at home always writing riffs.

Enslain:  Do you think that’s going to change on the next albums, more of a combined…

Tim:  No.  That’s how it’s always been on all four of our albums, and the guys agree with it.  They’re like, we’ve sold all these albums with you writing, there’s no reason to change it.  But of course I want everyone’s input.  The only thing I would change is to have Stu write more lyrics, and he totally will the next album.

Enslain:  You seem pretty comfortable about the line-up you have right now, pretty secure…

Tim:  Yeah, it’s killer, oh yeah, everyone’s super cool.

Enslain:  But haven’t you felt that way about every line-up you’ve had, and then somebody just mysteriously leaves?

Tim:  Oh yeah, you know what, my last line-up, it was totally cool too, everyone was into it, but then by the last few tours, everyone was like, I’m done, like everyone was burnt out, and what I could have done personally is to say okay, that’s it, let’s stop on just four tours or five tours, let’s just do that, and let the band be cool, go back to their jobs, and have a life again, and then I could have kept the line-up, but in 2005 I was like, in my mind it was like it’s do or die, let’s just fucking do this, I’ve been waiting my whole life to finally break into the U.S., we’re getting every tour we wanted, Opeth, Nevermore, Stratovarius, Hammerfall, like Hate Eternal, Amorphis, we’re doing Mexico, we’re going to Europe, so I was like, no matter what, we’re fucking doing all these shows, so if you’re with us, cool, and if you’re not…  At the end of the tour with Nevermore and Opeth in 2005, that was the last time we talked to two of the members, they were gone, they were done.  And it’s not a bad thing on them, I understand, we were in a van on that tour sleeping at truck stops, but if I could have explained to them, just wait, 2006 we’ll do an album, then we’ll do arenas in 2006, like imagine telling them that.  But for them they have to have the faith, but they were just done by then.

Enslain:  But even then once you had the arena tour you still managed to lose someone mid-tour.

Tim:  Colin… Well we just had a friend, which was a friend from back home, and he was single before we went on tour, and what happened was a month before we went out he met this chick, he was 30 at the time, and he met this 21 year old chick, who was like pretty good looking and stuff, and he was going off to me about how this was like his last chance, and she says she doesn’t want him going off on the road, but he said he’s doing it, and even though there’s a ton of chicks out there.  So now they’re getting married, and he left the tour, he’s getting like a real job, and he’s done music.  So that tour was enough for him to decide he wants a normal life, and whatever, like, is that wrong?  I mean, for him that’s the right decision, for me that’s not the right decision.  But at the end of the day, fans see that, I’m the one that gets laughed at, you know, fans laugh at me, oh, see Tim’s so hard to work with, that’s why that’s happening.  But, I mean you can see, we just hang out, there’s no drama, we’re all easy-going guys.

Enslain:  Yeah, it seems to be the popular consensus that you’re so demanding and hard to work with.

Tim:  Yeah, it’s not that I’m demanding, it’s just I know what I want to do, I want to do these tours, I want to build the band, and if you can come along with me and stick it out, then let’s fucking do it, and if you can’t, then we’re going to get someone else.  It kinda sucks, but it’s fucking business you know.  I wish we had a line-up that was… me of all people, I wish I had my guys for like, well now I do, Troy’s been in the band for three years, Stu’s been in the band two and a half years, if it was so bad, they would have left.  The bottom line is it all comes down on me, if anything bad happens, or if these tours bomb, or members leave, it’s gonna come down on me and I just accept it.  I have thick skin, trust me.  Nothing that anyone can say is going to discourage me, I don’t give a fuck.  I’m here to do this for me and for the band, and if the band sticks it out, we’re going to fucking do something, I know it.  And if we don’t then, whatever, at least we had a shot, at least we did, you know, four albums, and got to do arenas, and got to be in a tour bus, and there’s nothing bigger than arenas, at least we’ve done it, once.  But there’s more that we have to do, we have to get on MTV and sell more albums, and get a big fan base and start headlining tours, and do like full headlining theatre tours, and there’s so much more that we have to do, and I’m not ready to quit yet.

Enslain: So coming from Canada, do you guys have a different outlook on the scene, and shows, you know, you couldn’t possibly have had a lot of bands come through…

Tim:  No, not through our town, no, we didn’t have many bands to look up to, like the only bands that came through, back when I was a kid, was like, Megadeth came through back in 1990, Megadeth and Testament, that’s when I decided, this is what I have to do, totally blew me away.  That’s why like when we got on Gigantour, it was like, I saw them in 1990 when I was a kid, so like 16 years later to be on an arena tour with Dave Mustaine, and Dave Mustaine coming up to us saying that your band is awesome, and, he said we’re going to blow up to the next stratosphere, our band, because he’s like spiritual and stuff.  So for a kid to be at that show and then 16 years later to be on the road with Megadeth at arenas for me was like, the highlight of our career.  But yeah, it was tough, of course, being from Canada, because we never had bands come through, like Sacrifice would come through and I would be like blown away as a kid, but other than that not many bands came through.  So I guess that’s kind of why our style was like, I decided early on that we were going to have everything in our band, and I didn’t know that like you weren’t allowed to like be a hybrid band, because labels want to know exactly what you are, and that’s why we couldn’t get signed at first, because we were a hybrid band, and labels don’t know how to market you, and if they can’t market you, they can’t sell your albums.  So, I was a stupid Canadian, and I didn’t know any different, so I said, well we’re not changing our sound, this is what we’re doing, and then eventually we got signed.  But I mean I could have easily said okay, we’ll just be a death metal band, no singing, or just be a power metal band, okay, we won’t do any death vocals.  And we could have done that, and we could have gotten signed, and to big labels too, and this was back in like ’97.  We could have been signed then, we could have started our career then, and we would have been way farther now, but I didn’t want to… fuck, I wanted to have clean vocals, death vocals, have shredding, have black metal riffs, like heavy riffing, traditional riffing, I wanted to have everything in one band, but no label would accept it.  But now, luckily, we’re doing okay on Century Media, they understand totally what we’re doing.

Enslain:  Do you feel like you guys have gained rank in the Century Media family, do you think they’re treating you like one of the bigger bands?

Tim:  Now they are, oh yeah, yeah, now they’ve given us a second video on an album that just came out in October.  For us that means that like, they definitely are supporting, yeah, for sure.  They paid for all of our album; they got Andy Sneap to mix it.  And now they’re giving us tour support for like the tours and stuff.  Our first tour in the U.S. we were getting paid $25 a night, some nights we’re getting paid $50 a night, sometimes our booking agent took half, we’re getting $25 a night.  So we could have easily quit then, but I don’t know, I have like this gut feeling, I always just try to trust my instinct, even when I’m writing a song, like, okay, that’s cool, or...  I just try to trust my own judgment, and we just kept going.  And then we lose members, and we could have quit, but I’m like, no we gotta keep going, so that’s kinda just what we’ve done.

Enslain:  What advice would you give to bands that are just starting out?

Tim:  Don’t do it!  (mutual laughter).  I mean, don’t do it unless, like I mean for our band, we were sleeping in our vans, I would sleep straight up, sitting in our van in a chair, like not even laying vertical, and in like a truck stop in the middle of Florida, and then I would sleep for a few hours, wake up, because you can’t sleep in a van, and then I would try to get us to the next city, and I would be doing the driving, and then we’d be getting sick, and people don’t see that side of it, like it’s hard to fucking tour and try and make money, but you know, good luck to anyone that wants to try, everyone’s free to try, it’s just if you make it or not.

Enslain:  In the end is it worth it?  Like, asking you right now, has everything you’ve been through to get here been worth it?

Tim:  Um, almost, we’re not quite there yet for me, I’m not quite satisfied yet, no.

Enslain:  But at the same time, what else would you be doing with yourself?  Can you see yourself doing something else?  Do you do something else?

Tim - the guitar phenom

Tim:  No.  I have a business at home, but I never went to university, and I totally could have, I knew right from when I was, god, maybe 14, I realized that I’m only doing music, and I basically ruined my life doing that, and I had to quit, you know, trying to keep relationships and stuff, and girls, and trying to please your parents, and trying to have enough money for bills.  The way you’re supposed to live your life is you’re supposed to go through high school, go to university, meet a chick, get married, have two kids, buy a house, blah blah blah, and that’s your life, done.  And I totally know that’s how it’s supposed to work, but for me, I can’t get the music out of my head, so I have to do this.  If I could, if I could just sit at home and not think about music, and not write music, fuck it would be killer, I’d just work for a living, and I could go on with my life, but I can’t.  There’s something, and it sounds fucked up, but when you’re a song-writer, it’s always there, no matter what, the music’s always in your mind, and you have to get it out.

Enslain:  Do you sometimes feel like you’ve committed too much already to just back out?

Tim:  Yeah, well yeah, it’s been 11 years.  Other members have backed out and for them it’s no problem, it’s like they do a tour, oh this isn’t what I like, this isn’t what I dreamed of, I’m done, I’m going to go back to a job, and for them that’s okay, but for me, I’m signed to like a record deal, and I write this music so I have to keep going.

Enslain:  Is that the reason that a lot of members have left?

Tim:  Yeah, I mean nobody likes touring in a van, making no money.  Like now of course it’s better, you know now we’re in a tour bus, finally, but who wants to stick it out 10 years, ‘trust me in 10 years, we’ll be in a bus and we’ll be doing arenas’, you know, how do you convince members that that’s going to happen, when I don’t even know in m own mind if it was going to happen.  Eventually it did, we ended up doing arenas, and now we’re on a tour bus and stuff, but in ’95, I mean we were slugging it out, I would have never guessed, you know.  It’s tough, and I don’t blame anyone for leaving.  People think being in a band is so cool, and it is, but it’s also hard work, and at the end of the day you have to go back home and pay your bills, and go back to your job I guess.  It’s tough, but I’m not complaining, this is what I chose to do, and I can’t blame anyone but myself, you know.  It’s still fun for me.

Enslain:  How do you guys survive off of this?  Even for a band at your level, it doesn’t seem like it’s a lucrative kind of venture.

Tim:  Yeah, we’ll make like whatever, maybe $1500 per tour right now or something, enough to pay our bills and have a little bit of extra spending money, but that runs out quick, if you don’t have another tour, you have to go back to your job.  So if you’re not touring every single month then you have to go back to work.  But in 2005 I worked 2 months out of the entire year, I was doing the band thing 10 months out of the year, so we’re getting very close to not having to work anymore.

Enslain:  So what goals do you have remaining for Into Eternity?

Tim:  I want to open up some day for like Dream Theater, Iron Maiden, and do like arenas, or even open up for like Trivium, and hit that kind of crowd.  And then of course some day we want to headline, I’d like to headline like nice House of Blues, and nice venues, not like arenas or anything, just nice theaters, like Opeth, they’ll sell out like a theater, like 900 or a thousand people, and it’s a sold out show, and it’s just comfortable, it’s a nice setting.  That would be a goal of mine to headline nice theaters, I think that would be killer.

-- Lady Enslain

Enslain Magazine