Interview KATAGORY V

A Talk With DUSTIN MITCHELL


METAL TO INFINITY

Hey Dustin, how are you brother? 

I’m great Stefan!

 

First of all, congratulations with the release of Katagory 5’s new album entitled "The Rising Anger" which is a US Metal highlight to me! But we’ll talk about that later on, OK. I can’t imagine True Metal maniacs unfamiliar with a band like yours. If it’s so, shame on them but please give a short briefing history of how it all started. 

Thank you for the congratulations my friend, we’re glad it’s finally out now!  This is our 3rd album, and it wouldn’t surprise us much right now that not many metal fans know who we are, because the new album has only been out for two months, and the media is just starting to catch on to it. So hopefully with this new album, and with the right promotional push, Katagory V will no longer be unknown.  

We’ve been lurking around in the underground for almost seven years, and in that time released two other albums, our first being “Present Day”, and our second called “A New Breed of Rebellion”. It all started when me and Curtis meet at a local club here where we live. Both of us we’re in other bands, but shortly after hanging out one night at my old apartment, drinking beers and listing to old metal albums, we decided to start quit our other bands or projects and form what was to become Katagory V. It wasn’t anything serious at first, but after a while, we decided to give it a shot. The rest after that is history of course…. 

CURTIS MORRELL(G)MARC HANSON(G)

LYNN ALLERS(V)

DUSTIN MITCHELL(B) MATT SUITER(D)

 

Most of the original members played in other bands before. Can you name a few and what about the 2006 line-up? Any changes to announce? 

Me and Matt (drums) came from an instrumental band called Vivid Image, and were also in a Slayer/Sepultura-style thrash band called Supremacy before that. Curtis and Ryan, our other guitarist that was on our first album, came from an old-school metal band called Arbitrator, and Lynn (vocals) was in many bands, but the most notable one was called Tanis. 

Since then, we have lost two guitar players, but found Marc  and got him to step up to the challenge shortly after the 2nd album was released. He’s been with us for almost two years now, and has contributed a lot to the song writing of the last album, so he’s definitely not the new guy anymore! (Laughs) 

 

How were the auditions sessions back then? Easy to find the right musicians? A good musician must be loaded with...? 

It was hell Stefan, HELL! (laughing!) 

When we lost Ryan, we tried out several guys, most were average at best but, there were a few that really stood out. We picked Trevor (Asire) and he was with us for a little over a year, and played some of the larger shows when we went out. What most people don’t know, is that he didn’t play on the “…Rebellion” album, he came into the band just after those recording sessions. He was in long enough to get on the CD as a member of the band. After he was gone, we thought about trying out more guitarists, at least Curtis wanted to, but I wanted to get Marc in the band since I’ve known him for years and knew he was an excellent guitarist, and would fit perfectly. I personally didn’t want to go through the entire try out’s again.    

A good musician must be loaded with METAL! (laughs) It must run through their veins to be in this band! Seriously, they have to be well accomplished at their instrument, have good sense for writing songs, dedicated to the band like it’s an extended family, and be open to many styles of metal as well.  

It is always very difficult to find the right musician, especially where we are from, because we do not live in a really large city. Most musicians here have to big of egos or know everything about everything, and want to be the “boss” or the “leader” of their own band. They don’t look at a band as an opportunity or investment. Katagory V is a democratic band to an extent, and everyone in the band does this because they love it and also because it’s a challenge. Other musicians here are to busy trying to keep up with the trends, and don’t play from the heart. A lot of them do it for the wrong reasons.   

  

But finally the band was ready, loaded with ambitions / burning passions and lots of energy levels to go for it and making great Metal music in the future. First album "Present Day"...was it a fully independent release? A few words about the style and the reactions from outside press / Metal maniacs? 

“Present Day” was indepedantly released, and we only pressed about 1,000 copies ourselves. I did all the promotion for that album, and it was a huge learning experience, it is NOT something I’d like to relearn anytime soon! (laughs) 

I believe it was late fall of 2000 when we shopped it around to nearly every metal lable that existed back then, from here in the U.S to overseas. Lance at Nightmare Records was impressed with it and distributed it for us. At that time, no record lable would even acknowledge our existence except for Nightmare Records, and one other lable in Germany. However, the media and the press went nuts over that album, it seems to be hailed as a “classic” due to the production and style even though it was recorded in 2000. It sounds like a classic U.S. metal album that came out in the 80’s.    

Many think we did it on purpose, but we didn’t, we just didn’t have money to make it sound better! (laughs) That album got a lot of attention in Germany and around the region there, and most of our sales went that way as well. We have been told by fans that they play “Evil Princess” over the P.A. speakers between bands at Bang Your Head every Year…. So, we’ve been wondering… when are they going to get the band that wrote it to play LIVE at the festival! (Laughs loudly!)  

 

Sharing the stage with greats like Omen, Seven Witches, Meliah Rage, Nasty savage, Anvil...how was that? 

It was amazing, these are bands that we grew up listening to, and are the bands we drove our parent’s nuts playing at full volume! Most of us were pimple-faced grade school kids at the time when these bands were breaking out, and we have fond memories of meeting these bands, hanging out, drinking, and sharing the same stage as them. It is always an honour for us to get opportunities to be close to some of our favourite bands. A huge honour…. 

 

Three years after "Present Day", record label Metal Ages offered the band a deal. They approached you themselves because of the positive reactions of your debut album I guess?  

Actually, yes and  no… me and the lable manager have were, and still are, long time friends. There was only one other lable, in Germany, that was interested, but most other labels turned heir nose to it. Metal Ages Records was one that wanted to take it. I don’t blame the other labels, it was a hard album to swallow. Many wanted it to sound like “Band A” or “band B” on their roster or to go back into the studio and record more songs that sounded like one or two other songs on the album they really liked, so the whole album would have the same feel and sound.

Not to mention, these other labels wouldn’t give any advance money for us to go back and change or do what they wanted in order to get a deal! It was , “hey, If you go back and write more songs like this, or make the album sound like that, we’ll sign you!”,  That was ridicules to us! Time is money, and we didn’t have either! Not to mention, we write for ourselves first, no one else. Those out there that like our music, are the people that are true metal fans, and understand us, they can get into our heads and will be with us for a long time.  

 

So, the new album "A New Breed of Rebellion" was on its way to release. To me a fantastic album, actually a superb combination of Progressive and US Metal! I’ve never heard "Present Day" so can you give me the difference between both works? Which one do you prefer and why? 

“Present Day” sounds like old Jag Panzer, Sanctuary and early Fates Warning. It is very much a straight-ahead sounding U.S. metal album. Fans of that style will want to hunt for it because it is now out of print. Even some of our own band members don’t have a copy of it! It is a very raw sounding album, but still good quality. There are some really great songs on it, and it has some classic tracks on it... 

“A New Breed of Rebellion” is a much more razor-sharp album. It is much more technical, thin in sound and leans more towards the style of bands like Watchtower, Zero Hour or Psychotic Waltz. This was not intentional; it was just how the recording came out when we wrote it. There are still many parts that sound like the early style of metal, but it is a much colder, darker album that our first one. 

I can’t really say which one I prefer over another, both albums have qualities that the other does not. But both album sound very different from each other, that’s for sure.   

 

Fans had to wait a bit longer than expected. What was the reason for the delay actually? 

Oh wow, I have to tell you Stefan, that was total and utter chaos, I’ll never forget that time… it was a very dark time for our band. 

It had a lot to do with having too high of expectations from both the record lable and on our parts, and promises that were made in vane. When Metal Ages Records got it, they wanted to have it remixed. In the end, we didn’t even bother, we just submitted the rough mixes, and they thought it sounded much better that way. I actually have to agree now, because the 1st few mixes were terrible. We know many people who have uneasy feelings about how “A New Breed of Rebellion” sounds, but it’s not as bad as most would think. It’s a great album, and has some of our best songs on it. It could have sounded a lot worse, trust me. 

It took nearly 6 months after we finished recording it, to have it mixed, remixed, and then remixed again… and finally saying “Fuck everything!!!” and sending the demo mixes as a last resort. At that point it was held up in mastering for another 3-4 months, and then it sat in the production plant for another month. We had finished recording and mixing the album in April of 2003 and it didn’t come out until January 2004. No album should ever take that long due to red tape, pride, ego’s and all that shit. That album should have been out in August at the latest.

It was very frustrating, bad enough that our band almost broke up a few times over it. We played the Classic Metal Festival and the Progpower USA showcase in 2003, and had no new album to support those shows, it was a total waste. Because we had no product to sell, Almost everyone that was at these shows hardly even remember who we are, even today. Very disappointing… 

 

Second album was definitely reminiscent of Fates Warning (with Ray Alder) and that’s absolutely no reason to complain you know. Is Fates Warning one of your mainly inspiration sources? 

A majority of us are definitely Fates Warning fans, but they are only one band out of hundreds that we love. I don’t know why that comparison comes up so often with that album, we don’t hear it as much as others, but it seems a lot of people do. But that is perfectly okay, we don’t mind being compared to the fore-fathers of the genre, especially one of the best bands out there. We just don’t want to be known as a “clone” band, and I know we are not, because we do things in our music that Fates Warning doesn’t do, hasn’t even tried yet or wouldn’t do.  

 

Each Katagory 5 album has nice looking artwork! Who’s the man behind these great works? 

The first album was done by a guy Chris Maggio. Who lives in our hometown. The other two albums were created by Rainer Kalwitz. Rainer actually contacted us after the first album was out, and asked if we wanted to use his talents. We knew his work with Raddaka, Shadow Gallery, Tad Morose, and other bands, so we we’re like, “Sure!”. He has become a good friend of the band since then, and that is also how he came to create the album cover for the 3rd album.   

 

Two albums were launched successfully and distribution duties were in hands of big boss of the Nightmare Records camp, Mr Lance King. A real knight in Metal services and awesome musician too. All the bands he played with so far...thumbs up to the man!! How did you come in touch with him? 

We met him when we sent him a 4 song demo of what was going to be “Present Day”. We’ve worked with him ever since that time in one form or another, and it has always been a very good experience. He knows metal; he knows what our band is about and what we are trying to do, while many other labels didn’t at the time. You could actually say he has been one of the few who has been with us since the beginning.

 

After doing the distribution for two previously released albums, Nightmare Records offered Katagory 5 even a record deal to create a new album entitled "The Rising Anger". The friendship between Lance and the band seems growing stronger and stronger, right? 

Oh yeah, absolutely! We’ve seemed to have taken more baby steps than we would have liked in the 6 year relationship, but it seems that our time is right, and Lance was willing to back us up for this album and give it the Nightmare Records stamp of approval! At this time, I’d say things are turning out better that expected from both perspectives. He has been, and still is, very critically constructive and supportive about our music, in fact there was a time where even he had doubts about the new album because our band is such a wild-card,  unpredictable with how we do things, we don’t follow a formula in writing songs or how we want to sound when recording an album. But at the end of the day, it all comes together and I think we are all happy with the result and its win-win for everyone. Hopefully we can keep going this direction. 

 

The new album is finally unleashed taking the world by storm and surprise for sure! Mark from Silent Planet Promotions has sent me a copy and I’m truly grateful for that. First time hearing the new Katagory 5 album, I was impressed with the results, I seriously was! I could still hear those incredible Fates Warning influences here and there, but this time more and more typical, pure US Power Metal vibes in the vein of Helstar, Steel Prophet, Vicious Rumors,...and that’s awesome to me! You guys all probably satisfied with such great album. 

We are, yes. We worked really hard on this one, and wanted to make sure that we got it right this time. Any metal fan out there that likes classic metal, power metal, progressive metal, thrash and even hard rock, will find a lot to like about this album. It might take most people more than a few spins to catch on, because we don’t stick to one sound or style from song to song. If someone only hears one or two songs and makes a decision based on that, they are missing out on what Katagory V is all about. We honestly wouldn’t write music and put it out there if we didn’t like it ourselves, or feel it wasn’t competitive enough, we are our own worse critics, and we are also fans quality heavy metal. The fact that Nightmare Records is behind us on this album, should say a lot about what we are and the quality that is presented in what we do.   

 

More power, sometimes the guitar riffs are nearly Thrash Metal minded! An explanation please. 

Some of us, especially me and Matt, really wanted our thrash influence to show on this one. We were always big fans of the Bay Area thrashers like Testament or Forbidden, and even some of the other bands in the U.S. like Forced Entry, Atrophy, Intruder and Helstar. We wanted that aggression to come out in the music more, because it seems many of the younger metal fans, especially metal-core bands, are catching onto it. But unlike them, we were THERE when thrash was around! Most of these kids and bands were still in diapers when thrash metal was taking the world by storm, so we wanted to let those colours show on this album, and even more so on other albums to come. We may be old-school, but we can thrash it up with the best of them, if not better!   

 

Katagory just released their best album so far to me and belongs on top of my favourite US Metal list of 2006. I’m definitely not the only one who’s extremely satisfied with "The Rising Anger". How is the response so far Dustin? 

Thank you for saying that, you are too kind! It always means a lot to us to hear someone that appreciates what we’ve done and what we are doing now.  

So far we have not seen too many responses, as many of those in the media are still filtering through it now, but as far as we can tell, a majority of the feedback we’ve been getting is very, very positive, much like yours. Honestly, this is the album we should have done six years ago… as long as we have people like You Stephan, and other fans of our music, we’ll always try to put out quality metal. It is metal fans like you that help keep us going; otherwise we’d call it a day and go home.  We don’t ever take these things for granted; it means the world to us. 

 

A song of the album "Risk and Sacrifice" is downloadable on your website as video clip at: www.katagory5.com What about the progress of making the clip? 

It was a strange situation really, but it just kind of happened, you know? There was a camera, a camera man, and our friend Troy asking us, “Do you guys want a music video?”, so we thought it would be cool, why not.

It was a lot of fun, and it’s definitely not a professionally shot video at all, but it shows Katagory V fans what we are like outside of listening to our CD’s. It turned out better than we thought, and it was worth doing. Especially considering the song that was made into the music video! 

 

The title "The Rising Anger", what’s the story behind this Dustin? 

The title of the album, much like the song, is about our feelings as a band, after the last few years of being pushed to the floor, ignored, and swept to the side by critics and the music industry, especially in our own market. This album, we wanted to make everyone aware that, “Hey! This is our THIRD album; we are not going way that easily! We are going to rise up from the ashes!”. The album has a different concept to each song.  Some songs on the album are from the bands point of view and some are from a metal fans point of view, and there are some that are about real life situations that many of us go through all the time.  

The lyrics on this album are an integral part to it, and I don’t know how many people out there still read lyrics, but if they do, they will find this album to hit close to home for them, whether they are a true metal fan, a musician, or both.  

 

What’s your favourite song of the album and why? 

You would ask that, wouldn’t you! (laughs)

It’s very hard for me to choose… umm…. I like pretty much all of them the same but for very different reasons. Some songs are favourites lyrically or some are musically, it’s really hard to choose just one. 

 

Now the entire K5 crew will be hit the roads to promote the album I guess. Any chance to see you guys here in Belgium? 

I certainly hope so…. We’d love to come out your way and play live. We have been wanting to do it for a very long time now. We are just waiting for the invitation from someone, be it a promoter, or band, a club, whatever… we’d do it!

Realistically, I don’t think you’ll see us anywhere in Europe this year, but hopefully next year sometime… we are crossing our fingers. 

 

Cross my fingers too and hope to see you someday on the European Metal fields! One last question: What are the plans for the future? 

To continue writing for the next Katagory V album, which is ¾ complete as of right now, and then on to recording it in early 2007, and then to hopefully make it over to Europe one way or another… be it a festival or a tour, we don’t care how, we just want to play for our fans over there!  

We’ll just keep going, as long as we have fans out there like you to support us on our rebellious crusade of true metal! 

 

It is a great honour for me to have a band like Katagory 5 featuring on my website! Hold on to you faith in Metal music and here’s your chance to speak some final words if you like...thx again by the grace of US Metal! 

Thanks again for this opportunity Stefan! You rule!

We hope that anyone reading this, will take the time to check us out, and hopefully pick up the new album and help spread the word about Katagory V...Cheers!!!

KATAGORY V HOMEPAGE

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