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28/08/2007 – Interview with OVERLOADED

Detroit, USA, Hard Rock/Heavy Metal band OVERLOADED (official website) very recently released their second album (or debut if you consider "Hail The Kingdom" an EP), "Regeneration". You can check out the review of the newest album at this location. Since "Hail The Kingdom" and "Hellfire", the band has been gigging like hell and acquiring a bigger fanbase. Joining competitions to open for bands like GODSMACK was a good opportunity for them to have even more exposure and spread the word about honest Hard Rock / Heavy Metal, like it was made by the masters and not falling for trends. The new release, "Regeneration", is a continuation of the band's desire to keep this music alive, even without the help from labels.

As a result of this release I sent a couple of questions to the band to know more about this album, the band itself, why they aren't signed to a label and more things along those lines. Guitarist Erik answered most, but when needed vocalist Chris and drummer Lorenzo added their replies.

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"Regeneration" has been out since a couple of days/weeks and it's a continuation of what you did on "Hail The Kingdom" and "Hellfire". This time however, the Hard Rock aspect is more present, whereas on the previous releases the music was a mix of Hard Rock and Heavy Metal. Do you prefer it this way (more Hard Rock) or will you continue to mix both next times?

ERiK: I think both OVERLOADED releases are Hard Rock by today's standards. In America today, 'Metal' really means 'Death Metal'. A classic album like "Kill 'em All" by METALLICA was considered Metal at the time. Sure, it's metal compared to FOG HAT, but in the current American Market, it's a rock album. Metal by itself has no soul. Metal that is inspired by rock which is inspired by blues has soul. This describes OVERLOADED's metal which I call Hard Rock.

Overloaded - RegenerationHow satisfied are you with the overall result? Did everything go as planned? I find it quite a good record and a worthy follow-up to "Hail The Kingdom", except for the new version of "Feeling Overloaded", where the hi-hat is the biggest problem. It's too loud.

ERiK: I have read many reviews that site the original version of "Feeling Overloaded" superior. This baffles me. The guitars sound better, the vocals are better, the backing vocals are better. As for the high-hat, drummer Lorenzo plays an unorthodoxed drum set with 3 high hats. This can cause bleed in all the mics. On this recording session it is very possible that the high hats could not be turned down in the mix due to bleed. Personally, the drum mix does not bother me. I think it is perfect.

I find the 2nd version of "Feeling Overloaded" far superior to the demo version we first released. The only thing I would do differently is I wanted to speed the new version up like we play it live. Our drummer Lorenzo would not accept this, and it's recorded the original tempo which is much slower than the live version.

Like before you went to the Midwest Studios. Is this because of geographical, financial or "we had a good time back then" reasons? Or a mix of the three?

ERiK: Midwest is run by Darren Trentacost and Tim Hicks. These guys know our music and can capture the sound. Geographically, I wish it was closer, but it's only an hour away so it is not that far. Yes, we had great success on the past two recordings there, so we stick with what works. Financially, they are far more reasonable than the other studios in town and much better quality. On a side note, they have recorded live in the studio sessions with JET, KEANE, FUEL, and DEFAULT to name a few big boys that have stopped by.

Overloaded - Erik KluiberFor the mastering you stayed with Midwest. Why not go back to Morrisound?

ERiK: Funny you ask. I spent a lot of money mastering with Morrisound. I sent the product to them a month or so before our deadline. They were in the process of a move which caused delays. When I got the first mix, I made the mistake of sending the cd SOILWORK's "Stabbing the Drama" as a reference. I love "Stabbing the Drama" by SOILWORK, I think the production is flawless. However, SOILWORK is a completely different band than OVERLOADED. When we got the masters, Morrisound added some sub-lows in the cd to match SOILWORK. The sub-lows did not compliment OVERLOADED so I asked them to re-master, this time with out the modern sub-lows.

Engineer Jim Morris completed the 2nd masters right as the deadline was upon us. I waited anxiously for the master. A day went by, another day went by. Finally the deadline came and I had no choice but to use the master from Midwest. I had to mail the cd by 10 am. At 3 pm that day, the new masters came in. Some loser stoner intern had his thumb up his ass and waited a few days to overnight us the masters. Thanks kid, it's called overnight delivery because I want it the next day you jackass! Fortunately, the Midwest master sounds great. In hindsight, I should have saved my money (I finance all the band's projects) and stuck with the local master.

Are any of you (incl. Chris) trained musicians?

ERiK: I attended the Atlanta Institute of Music for a year. This helped my playing especially by being exposed to southern guitar players (who I consider the best because they are the most soulful players).

Chris: Erik is the only one in the band that has any formal musical training, I myself just studied and imitated the vocal technique and melodic structures of Layne Staley, Chris Cornell, Ronnie James Dio, James Hetfield, Klaus Meine, Kurt Kobain, THE BEATLES, Elvis and Garth Brooks.

Chris, have you ever had vocal problems, leading to the postponing/cancelling of several gigs? And how do you keep your voice in shape?

Chris: I have only had to cancel 1 weekend of gigs due to illness. I unfortunately was unaware of the severity of my cold symptoms that weekend until I went to go sing in front of a busy rock club that Friday night. Instead of signature OVERLOADED high octane vocal tones, I could only manage a sandpapery Godsmack tone for about 4 songs or so. I was then obviously out of commission for Saturday nights gig as well...sick as a damn dog!

I now keep my voice in shape by doing OVERLOADED practices and gigs, as well as performing in an acoustic act. I have a healthy singing regiment of 20+ nights a month and it's the only way to maintain excellence, singing as demanding a style as Overloaded calls for.

OVERLOADED is still a 'free' band. Have you already been in talks with labels and what are the main reasons for not having a deal yet? I mean, do you prefer to wait a little longer or haven't you gotten an interesting offer yet? Or are you simply mistrustful? ;-)

ERiK: Record Labels??? Ha, do they still exist (j/k)? We have had no contact or interest from labels. The current trend in American metal is Death Metal/Metalcore and we do not fit that mold. I would love to be signed and doing this for real. I can see the label's profits sky rocketing and I could tell them, "this is what people want to hear, not a bunch of screaming teenage faggot bullshit."

What subjects have you used for the songs on "Regeneration"? I think girls/relationship/... is one of them. Or did you also use more 'world' stuff? Also, there's one song of which the lyrics (or flow of the story) bothers me: "Why Don't You Love Me Anymore?" It's a bit contradictory towards the end. Or did I misread/-understand/-interpret?

Chris: On "Regeneration" I wrote lyrics about the 9/11, and JFK conspiracies, made a mockery of people who ruin their lives following their sexual intuitions, gave praise to our fans and other rockers who put realistic values above warped 'American' values, and gave a psycho-analyization of my brother in arms Erik Kluiber. I also had fun writing "Flashy Girl" a story about a girl raped during her youth who takes her revenge later in life upon men by having them fall in love with her...only to shortly leave them heartbroken, faithless and worthless.

In "Why Don't You Love Me Anymore?" the misleading lyrics at the end refer to the endless excuses made by your typical American chick whose main agenda is to spend her time with anyone and everyone who will pay her attention. Guys always buy into the values of worthless American sluts, only to find out that they have spent all of their time and money on a mindless, hollow cheater...who's only real goal in life is to own a thousand dollar purse.

Michael took care again of the cover art. Do you want to keep as much as possible in the band or is it just convenient to have a member who does such things (e.g. artwork, producing, ...)?

ERiK: Michael is convenient and cost effective. He does a good job at graphic design. We are very proud of the artwork for both "Regeneration" and "Hail the Kingdom".

Comparing the cover art of "Hail The Kingdom" and "Regeneration", there are two similarities: both are in a tunnel and have computer screens (destroyed on the new release). What's the link here or why are these two elements important (tunnel, computer monitors)?

ERiK: It was a concept developed by Chris Gillen. On "Hail the Kingdom", the monitors represent the music industry elites (writers, radio, labels, etc). As you can see, they are blocking the path. The elites consider themselves the gate keepers of our journey. They can either help out and allow us to pass, or they will try and shut us down. Between the cds, the story goes that the elites tell us we are not relevant in today's culture and refuse to allow us to move any further.

Instead giving in to their demands by trying to fit in (play metalcore/emo/garage rock) and 'be cool', OVERLOADED replies with physical violence and destroy their blockade. On "Regeneration", we have smashed through their barricade and march onward with out their help or blessing.

Overloaded bandLet's talk sales: "Hail The Kingdom" and "Hellfire" did well, no?, reading that they're sold out.

ERiK: 250 first print "Hail the Kingdom"s sold out. 1000 2nd print "Hail the Kingdom"s sold out. 300 1st print "Hellfire"s Sold out, 200 2nd print "Hellfire"s sold out. 300 first print "Overloaded"s (reprint combo of the 2 eps) sold out. Decent numbers for an unsigned DIY band out of Detroit. We owe it all to live shows and the positive response from webzines like Thoughts of Metal and magazines like Heavy in Germany.

"Regeneration" is again available via and iTunes. How do you feel about buying mp3s instead of the full package (CD, case, booklet)?

ERiK: Money is money. When I buy a cd, I want the real deal, but that's me. Kids nowadays don't give a shit. They listen to music on their virus infested computers with 35 dollar speakers. Whatever, gimme the money you fuck. I'll tell you first hand the 'love of music' won't buy you a cup of coffee. This ain't highschool.

I do wish the government would send commando units and murder the punks that host the illegal downloading sites. They're destroying a billion dollar industry. That's what armies and murder are about, protecting the money. Well, fucking protect it! Without illegal downloading, the music industry will flourish again. As long as internet music 'fans' can download for free, why buy a legal download? It takes less time to download illegally than to buy the same thing for free.

How influential is MySpace for your success? And what are the good and less good sides of such a community website?

ERiK: Myspace is ok. It is a great networking tool. It's a great way to communicate with people around the world. Myspace 'fans' are flakey at best. I would not consider them real fans of the band. A real fan buys the cd and attends shows. Those are the people that matter.

You've already played gigs with bigger names, incl. GODSMACK. How was this as an experience? And what do those particular bands think of you/the band/the music?

ERiK: GODSMACK was amazing. We were told when to show up, when to sound check, and what time to gather to be onstage. It was up to us to prove whether or not Overloaded is professional and deserved to be on that stage. In the mean time, we had a small room to chill out in, warm up our fingers, and get our heads together. The catering was nice, I'll tell ya that!

The show was sold out at a 5,000 capacity theater in Detroit called the Fox Theater. We delivered. It means a lot to be an unsigned unknown band and hold your own for 40 minutes in theater like that. After the set, we got to meet GODSMACK. They were really down to earth and cool guys. I read Sully's book and GODSMACK knows the struggle it takes to get somewhere in this business. Their drummer Shannon called us good old school metal, which I appreciated.

Now anyway, the second night OVERLOADED was more comfortable onstage. You understand the line into the arena was like 1 mile long and I'm walking through to it to get to the fucking stage 30 minutes before. No one knows who I am. Next thing you know, 4 distant suns are embalming the stage with light. You walk out onstage, and when you lift your arm and scream, every person in front of you screams! You can not fit the crowd into your vision with a look in a particular direction. The sound is a monolith of Imperial Walkers. The stage shakes, the lights shift. The crew knew some of our material the second night and gave us a rock and roll light show. It is like walking a dreamscape. You look at every guy in the band. They look different. We're all on our separate trips, but everyone is linked by the music.

Next thing you know, It's over. The buzz wears off over an hour. In the mean time, every step you take doesn't feel gravitated by the earth. Then, you consume as much booze as you can and wake up the next day. Back to reality.

Are there any collaborations you'd like to do in the future? (producer, guest musician, tour support, ...)

ERiK: Producers: I don't think we need one - guest musician: no, tour support: like us supporting someone on tour? I'd love to. Someone call me and get us on a long never ending tour!

Speaking of touring: I guess it will take a while before you'll cross the Atlantic and play in Europe, right? Or did you already have talks with bands for a potential support slot or gig organizers?

ERiK: We have no offers to play Europe at this time. Love to - costs a lot to get overseas ya know. We have sold a lot of cds to Europe through . I'm hoping to meet someone who can make touring a Europe a reality. I'll take a boat across the ocean if I have to.

Overloaded - LorenzoHow important are reviews and fans' comments (in the form of advice) for the songwriting and/or recording process of the next album(s)? Do you keep certain things in mind or is it all just a nice read?

ERiK: I read every one of them. I don't consciously change my song writing due to reviews. I suppose they may take effect subliminally. If a song is reviewed highly, there is a better chance of it making the set list at a show. I do appreciate that people take the time to do a serious review. It's interesting to read different interpretations of our work from around the world.

How much is left for yourselves, incl. hobbies?

ERiK: All of my energies are directed towards the band in some way. I did manage to go on a canoe trip once this summer. I spend most of my free time at live rock clubs. I'm embarrassed to admit that I also spend a lot of time watching television.

Lorenzo, you're endorsed by Avetto drums. Are they a small company or quite known in the States? How would you compare them with Pearl, Tama, Mapex, DW, Sonor, Yamaha, Premier, ...?

Lorenzo: Well first off it's Ayotte not Avetto. (Oops, I must have misread that then. My bad. - Tim) Yes, they are known here in the states. Though, they are a company from British Columbia, Canada. I would compare them by saying they are 10 times better drums than those you listed.

How do songs get born? Does it start with Erik and John or is everyone involved? Do you all come up with ideas and rough stuff, after which all is thrown in a jar, so to speak, so you can start making a puzzle when you come together?

ERiK: For "Regeneration", I came up with 95% of the guitar riffs. As for the songwriting process itself, I come up with a riff to start the song. If Chris likes it he starts singing a melody. If Lorenzo likes the melody on top of the riff, he starts playing drums. From there, the whole band works on the arrangement together. With a few exceptions, most songs are written within a week. The lyrics take longer. Chris writes all the lyrics and vocal melodies.

Erik, you added a 'promotional' DVD with "Regeneration". It shows the band live, incl. the power failures ;-) and a short moment where Chris does most of the talking. Is this just a pretaste of a real DVD (soon? in the future?) and why not add more 'band-talking' time, giving more insight in the band and whatever more?

ERiK: Yes, we are working on a full length dvd. We have a decent amount of live footage. We are working on including some interviews, a tour of our rehearsal space, our gear, and anything else that adds to the entertainment value of the finished product. I hope to release the dvd in early 2008.

Something different: what was the last CD/LP you bought?

ERiK: BEATALLICA - Sgt. Hetfield's Motor Breath Pub Band, SWASHBUCKLE - Crewed by the Damned, THE CASUALTIES - On the Front Line

And the last question: which are your favourite releases for 2007 and which are you still looking forward to? With this, I'll leave you to do more pleasant things and I'd like to thank you whole-heartedly for the replies. All the best and 'till next time.

ERiK: I look forward to the upcoming AVENGED SEVENFOLD cd due out in October.

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