A Talk With NICK KELLY & MIKE BLEVINS
METAL TO INFINITY
I’m very pleased with your presence here on my own
Metal To Infinity webzine. Hell yeah, give support to the US Metal scene is what
i like brother! You guys are pretty busy making great US Metal for more than a
decade now. First there was visionary, followed by Division. Why have you
changed the bandname and how
did the idea of starting up these bands emerge?
(Kelly, singer): Hey, thanks a ton for the interest. We’ve been doing this in a number of forms for a long time,
with each of us in different projects and every odd thing you can think of.
For the actual Division history, though, you have to ask Mike.
He’s the last of the founding members from the Visionary days.
Mike (Blevins, guitar): Thanks for the interest – it’s nice to know someone remembers our old stuff! Matt Crooks (the other founding member, who left last year) and I had known each other for a while, and he called me up in the spring of ’93 because he knew I wasn’t in a band and he was looking for another guitarist for the project he was working on. We were both looking to do something that wasn’t “cool” at the time – since Grunge was all the rage in U.S.
So we thought we might be able to work together. I went out and
jammed with them, and something clicked, and after picking up original vocalist
Scott Stewart, Visionary was born. We changed our name to Division in ’95
after the Visionary that is now Reading Zero contacted us to say they had a
record deal, and would we change our name. Of course, they ended up changing
their name, too, courtesy of the band from Utah.
the singer in the band. Did you play in other bands before?
Actually, Division is the first band I’ve been in where all I do is
sing. I’ve played bass and guitar
in a ton of bands. I was playing
crappy biker bars when I was 17, so this has been a long time coming for me.
I really enjoy being the front man, though, even through all the jokes
about being pretty that I get from the musicians in the band.
It’s so much fun to just jump around and make sure that people know we
enjoy what we do. I think everyone
in this band just lives for the live shows.
you a true fascinated Metal musician and what about the sources of inspiration?
Our new guitarist Dave calls me a “walking thrash dictionary”. I definitely
grew up playing metal – I can still play Maiden songs from the first four
albums on command – and I’d say my major influences were Maiden, Metallica,
Queensryche, Forbidden, Testament, Thin Lizzy, and Schenker-era UFO. As a
musician I listen to – and draw inspiration from - a lot of things, from
classical to jazz to pop and even some country, since my wife’s a country
I always like to describe it this way.
Think of metal as home. I
love to travel, but I always come back home.
So I’ll go listen to anything from reggae to rap to country to soul,
but I always come back to metal. I
think it helps us stay away from any tired formulas but we never forget the real
foundation of what our music is.
went through a lot of line-up changes through the years. Some of them left the
ranks. Why did they took the decision of leaving the band?
Oh, boy. This is going to be
Man, lots of different reasons. Metal was really "uncool" in the U.S.
until about 2001 or so, so we’ve had some rough times, and it’s not like the
band’s paying the bills. There were some personality clashes, and a lot of
just moving on to other things. I feel like every change has made us stronger in
some way, and that the lineup we currently have, with five guys moving in the
same direction, is the best yet.
replace the leaving guys, how difficult was that Nick?
We’ve been fortunate to do a lot of shows with a lot of talented people,
and in the U.S. scene, you never really lose touch with people. When we needed new members, a lot of times people contacted
us and we didn’t do a lot of looking. Sometimes,
it really is a challenge to find someone with the right talent level and the
right attitude. A lot of times
switching members really changes the sound of the band.
I know I’m nothing like Scott (Stewart) was as a singer, so the band
has to consider how different it will sound, too.
Lost" was Division’s self-released debut album and i’m truly proud to
have that album in my collection! Your own vision about the final results of
that album would be great to know, brother. What kinda Metal maniacs should be
very pleased with an album like this?
I like most of the songs still to this day. The production was actually pretty
good, but I wish we’d actually had it mastered before we released it, as it
would sound much better. Even though that one is more “traditional” than
what we’d do later on, there’s still a lot of the seeds of what Division
sounds like today in that one.
new album entitled "Ascension To Eternity" came out three years later
through Siegen Records. Also, this album shines very bright in my CD collection.
My opinion: awesome album, even better than previous one...what’s your opinion,
I followed Division for a long time
before I joined the band. I loved
the shows I saw on the tour promoting Ascension.
I think the band was really clicking at the time, and that the song
writing had come a long way. After
I joined, we had a chance to cover and re-visit a lot of the material off of
that disc, and it’s fun to go back and do those songs.
I really like the future of this band though, and the things we’re
writing now, better than anything Division has done in the past.
I definitely think our writing got a lot more consistent, and there’s a few
songs on there that I think are simply magical, especially the last three "new" songs ("Eraser", "Veiled", and "Remembrance"). We
struggled a lot with things during the writing process, but I like the results.
far, which album do you prefer? Why?
"Ascension", definitely. Of the first two, it’s a much more cohesive
"Division" album. "Paradise" has some really good songs on
it, but our identity isn’t there yet.
we had to wait for quite a few years until a new Division album saw the light of
day. Why did it take so long to release your third album "Trinity"?
It was really a mess. We had the entire thing written by the spring of 2000, and
recorded with Brian Thomas, our drummer at the time, and original vocalist Scott
Stewart. While we were waiting on our label at the time to shop it for licensing
outside the U.S., Brian left, and then Scott left. So we got E.J. Ripple (the
drummer from the "Ascension" CD) back, and found Nick, and completely
re-recorded the disc, with a couple of the weaker songs omitted. Our contract
was sold to Metal Ages while that version was being shopped, and so it finally
came out in 2004, after having been done for three years. So the songs were
basically 5-6 years old when the disc came out.
Yeah, that CD was really done multiple times, and label issues and band
changes. So it was a miracle that
it saw the light of day, in some ways.
that album is the one i haven’t found so far, unfortunately. I’ll keep on
searching but please tell me what to expect...same style as before i guess, i
mean fantastic US Metal!
Well, my vocals are completely different from Scott’s, so be ready for
that when you hit play. The song
writing is really in line with Ascension, though I think a little more creative
in terms of vision. There are a few
solos that I will never get tired of hearing no matter how many times we play
them. It was a real challenge for
me to become a singer and I’m very proud of Trinity and what it represents
from us at that time.
The writing is definitely another step up. There’s things I would change about
"Ascension", as far as the songwriting goes. There’s nothing I’d
change about "Trinity" – those songs were as good as we could make
self-release followed by an album through Siegen Records and finally Metal Ages
did the third one. An explanation please.
Well, let’s just say that things haven’t gone so well with labels. We had a
difference of opinion about how Siegen marketed “Ascension”, and then we
signed a deal with Progressive Arts Music, and that contract eventually got sold
to MetalAges when PAM’s owner decided to concentrate on a different form of
music. Of course, MetalAges has now folded, too, so who knows where the next one
is a band that appears on several tribute and compilation albums, right.
What’s your personal cover song ever made Nick?
When we cover a song, we always try to stay true to the original and
still adapt it to our sound. I’d
say the thing that really makes a cover cool to me is when you’re singing it
and every person in the crowd is screaming it back at you.
We did a show with Black Label Society where we played Creeping Death by
Metallica and every fist was in the air and every one was shouting with us.
It was awesome!
My favorite of all of them we’ve done is “Rainbow In The Dark” on the
“Awaken the Demon” tribute from Dwell. We ended up doing a lot of tributes
just to keep the name out there between discs, since they haven’t exactly come
the nowadays situation in the Division camp? Some new songs are ready to unleash
and new blood entered the ranks...spread the word if you like.
This is the best lineup we’ve had in this band. James and Ron are growing
together nicely as a rhythm section, Dave fit right in on guitar, and of course
Nick gets to finally do his own thing. Everything’s clicking, the live show is
back to the intensity I like, and "Hunt", the demo song that circulating now
is probably the best song we’ve ever written. All the new songs are at least
This is the first time I’ve had a chance to write the lyrics and start
from scratch with the guys in the writing process.
There’s a lot of blood and dying on the new stuff so far, including
some fun shots I take at people. The
first single, Hunt, is up on our MySpace site:
There’s also a few other songs up there for people to check out.
If you like vampires and the chicks that like vampires, Hunt is a fun
Mayhem 3 will happen on 25 – 26 August 2006? Division on the same bill with
greats like Omen, Jag Panzer, Hirax, Helstar, October 31, Raven, Imagika and
lots of other breathtaking Metal acts! This must be the fest of the year,
We’ve played with a lot of big names in the past, hell, even in the
last year or so. I have to say
playing with Raven was an amazing experience.
They are very gracious and absolutely cool.
I can’t wait for MM3, it’s going to be crazy.
It’s certainly one of the good ones, for sure. John’s done a great
job with getting the lineup together, and we’re very happy to be playing it.
It’ll be nice to see some of the guys – like Jag Panzer and Raven – that
we haven’t seen for a while, too, and to hang with out friends from Imagika. I
know it’s going to be a good time, and a great show.
make some promotion, just go for it man...here’s your time and space.
I think the first thing is that we just have to say a huge "thank
you" to everyone who’s been following us and supporting us all these
years. It’s a very fun ride and
we love the people who come along on it with us.
Other than that, hit our sites and stay tuned for the new songs, and come
to Minnesota! www.division-usa.com
Thanks to everyone that’s bought a CD, a shirt, a ‘zine with a review or
interview, and has stayed with us through the years. We’re here to stay, and
the best is yet to come!
playing Metal music, what keeps you busy actually?
With the U.S. scene the way it is, we all have other jobs to help pay the
bills. We also never lose sight of
our families and time with them is important.
The band keeps us very busy though.
Even with no shows, we’re still together several nights a week,
drinking, rehearsing, drinking and doing promotion, drinking, going to see
Mike: I don’t think Nick mentioned drinking, but we’ve been doing that, too.
i look forward to hear the new songs and wish you all the best of luck with
Divison and other things in life. Speak some final words to end this intie if
you like Nick. Thanx a ton by the grace of US Metal!!!
Thanks a ton and long live MTI!
Mike: Thanks indeed, and keep it heavy!
OFFICIAL DIVISION HOMEPAGE
TO MTI HOMEPAGE