Steel Prophet - Interview
Even though Steel Prophet have been around for almost 20 years, it seems like they are one of the well-kept secrets of US metal scene. Formed by guitarist Steve Kachinsky under the name Hard Prophet, they became one of the leading power bands in the world. Their talent and devotion to metal music was rewarded with a Nuclear Blast contract, under which their carrier took off to another level. Although I didn’t receive their new "Book Of The Dead" album in time for the interview I had a chance to talk to Steve about the history of the band and the future plans of Steel Prophet as well as get his opinion on general metal scene related questions. Here’s what he had to say...
Well I guess we will be talking about a pretty good album... most reviews I’ve read for "Book of the Dead" were very positive...
Yeah, so far it’s been very good. It was on album of the month in Rock Hard from Germany and couple of few other top magazines over there. It seems like people like it so far.
What’s your gut feeling about this album?
My gut feeling is that it’s a good album but fans that liked our previous album might not like this one as much.
And why is that?
It’s a little different. It’s not following this same formula or anything like that and it’s got a little bit more variety. I mean it depends on your point of view, either you think that metal fans like variety and embrace different things or you think they always want this same thing in which case they might not like it as much.
Tell me about the "When Six Was Nine" lyrical concept?
It’s a little hard to describe, man. It’s got to do with schizophrenic people. They think they can affect the world around them just by their thoughts and the song just explores that idea.
From the research I did it seems that people have problems understanding the idea behind "Oleander".
Yeah, we wanted to have a song with just pure melody. Rick, our singer sings a four-part harmony and there is no instrumental backup for it. The melody is very simple it’s almost like "Marry Had A Little Lamb" or something like that and it’s the last song to close out the album just after the song "Anger Seething" which is very aggressive, heavy and angry sounding song. It makes a good contrast when people hear that really sweet almost child like melody line after that.
I noticed that you guys don’t like the power metal label on your band. How would you describe your style then?
Well, I guess Steel Prophet incorporates a lot of elements mostly from a traditional heavy metal like Judas Priest, Iron Maiden and Black Sabbath but we also have elements from thrash like from Metallica, from death metal we use some blast bits like Napalm Death or stuff like that. It’s a kind of a wide variety adding in to it. What people call power metal nowadays it’s more like a Helloween influenced bands. Originally, the term "power metal" first came out it was a term that Metallica used to describe its album "Ride The Lightning". When asked what would you call you music they said we will call it a "power metal" because it so powerful. If you want call our music a power metal because it’s powerful, it’s fine. I think we have more in common with Metallica than with more what people call it nowadays.
Do constant comparisons to Iron Maiden bother you?
Not too much. I think if you listen to our albums close there are a lot of differences and you’ll notice a lot of elements that we do and Iron Maiden doesn’t do. Any band that has harmony guitars and has king of galloping feel to it sounds like Iron Maiden, and we definitely have a lot in common with them. And you know, Iron Maiden is a great band, so it’s not so bad being compared to one of the greatest bands that ever existed.
Have you ever thought of playing a different style?
Oh yeah sure. I like different kinds of music and I do play other kinds of music for my own enjoyment and amusement but I wouldn’t play that kind of music and call it Steel Prophet music. Steel Prophet has to remain heavy metal and if I want to play other types of music I can get together with friends on jam sessions. I don’t need to force it down underneath people’s throat and call it a Steel Prophet.
For almost 20 years you have stayed in a power-heavy whatever you call it style. Does your longevity surprise you? Was it worth it?
Well first of all I think that the bio that you are reading it from is a little wrong. I would say the band is closer to 13 years old than 20 years old unless you count the years from the time I made up the name when I was in school. As for as longevity goes I’m pretty happy that we stuck with it this long and play the kind of music that we like.
On the other hand, have you ever thought of ending Steel Prophet?
Yeah, I thought about it sometimes. Sometimes when things go bad you think maybe it’s time to throw in the towel but you know, bad things are always going to happen and there's no point in stopping the band because you have some setbacks.
What’s your opinion on the huge amount of new power metal bands popping up in recent years? Do you listen to any of them?
Yeah, it’s like with any scene or style, there is a cream of the crop and a lot of imitators. Like in power metal scene I think the band Edguy is really great and couple more that I can’t think of the top of my head but there are also hundreds of bands that just are copying each other and don’t sound too original to me.
I understand that Nuclear Blast had a great deal of influence on how "Dark Hallucinations" turned out, asking for a Hammerfall sound. Do you feel that you were pushed into a direction other than where you wanted to go with "Book of the Dead"?
When we did "Dark Hallucinations" they didn’t like the sound quality of it and they didn’t like the production and they wanted us to remix it. Also when they’ve heard the album they said, "What is this, we don’t understand, where are the catchy songs?" So they told us "You must write catchy songs" and I said, "What is a catchy song" and they go "I don’t know, just catchy" and than I said, "OK, We’ll write some of those". Then we did the album and they go again "Where are the catchy songs?" and I said, "I don’t know, you didn’t tell us what a catchy song is, how do we know? It’s catchy to us."
Are you satisfied with anything NB has done so far?
Yeah, I think they’ve done a good job, especially in Europe they are like the biggest independent metal label and with the smallest bands they do a promotion that’s better than what other labels can do for a band. Here in US they just joined with Century Media and I think that’s really going to help the label out over here and I think that’s going to benefit us too.
How long are you going to still make music, release albums, and play live shows?
I think, definitely for at least another two years or so. I mean I can’t see anything changing within the course of two years unless somebody dies. And then, as long as things are going pretty good I can see us going on for a quite long time. I like that kind of music and I don’t think I’ll run out of ideas any time soon and we could very easily play for another 10 years or so.
What are the tours plans for this year?
Nothing is booked yet but we are trying to set some plans for Europe and US pretty soon.
Somehow there are not too many Steel Prophet interviews in metal magazines or on metal webzines. Is this a bad promotion or you guys don’t like doing them?
I don’t know. We don’t have any problems with doing them. I’ll do an interview with anybody at anytime just to promote us as much as possible. I guess it depends, like in Europe there are so many interviews that happen. Rick (Mythiasin - vocals) just got back from Europe where he did 100 interviews in four days. In US there is just less interest in the band because this kind of heavy metal is not so popular anymore. So we do as much as we can but is hard to say why.
How much of the promotion do you do yourself after promotional blitz dies down and after the end of a possible tour?
Mostly it would be like in a form of fanzines coming in, doing e-mail interviews answering fans questions. Almost every week somebody asks for an e-mail interview and of course we are going to promote the new album with the live shows too.
What do you do outside of Steel Prophet?
Nothing, it’s my only job.
Book Of The Dead
Into The Void (Hallucinogenic Conception)
The Goddess Principle
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