One of the more brutally sounding metal bands to come out of Jersey in recent years are my buds from Ashes Of Your Enemy. These guys have had quite a history and they’ve made some name for themselves throughout the years. Ashes Of Your Enemy formed in 2005 by former members of Mudbox and Judge Drain. They realized they all shared the same vision when it came to music. The quartet got down to business right away, working with producer Max Illidge, singer of the metal band 40 Below Summer, at his Illegitimate Studios to record their first four-song EP together.
In 2006, the EP created such a buzz for Ashes Of Your Enemy that they caught the attention of a Phoenix-based record label called Crash Music, and at the very end of 2006, Ashes signed with the label that geared itself towards the underground metal scene. They would release their debut CD in 2007, The Undying, with Illidge producing once again. The boys would shoot a video for their first single off of The Undying called “Surrender,” which was produced by Frankie Nasso (who is known for his work with Mudvayne and Hatebreed). After the release of The Undying, Ashes Of Your Enemy embarked on their very first national tour alongside fellow headbangers, Hell Within.
Ashes Of Your Enemy parted ways with Crash Music in 2008 and headed back into the studio to record a new Independent EP, which would feature the single “Embodiment Of Rage.” It helped win them the opportunity to perform at the annual Music As A Weapon Tour at the IZOD Center in 2009. This high-profiled tour allowed them to share the stage with the likes of Disturbed, Killswitch Engage, Chimaira, Lacuna Coil, and Bury Your Dead.
The band released their most recent EP, Anthem, in 2010. The six-song masterpiece, which features the songs “Black Out The Sun” and “Heartless Divine,” was recorded and produced by singer/guitarist Kevin Schormann and the disc really highlights the evolution of Ashes Of Your Enemy. The group loved this CD so much that they decided to re-record, remix, and re-release it here in 2012 with a couple new tracks.
On Aug. 15, Ashes Of Your Enemy will be opening for the mighty Fear Factory at the Starland Ballroom. Schormann and guitarist Rob “Shottie” Shotwell called me from their rehearsal spot, which they share with bassist Joey Craparotta and drummer Matt Goida, to explain their excitement on the upcoming show and their future. Here’s what we chatted about:
The first time that I saw you guys live, you were a five-piece. What happened?
Kevin Schormann: We were a five-piece, but after going through two guitar players, we just felt it was best to keep it as a four-piece, being that I sing, but I’m also a guitarist, so I figured that I would just bring that into the mix, and ever since then it’s been working out great as a four-piece.
Was it hard for you to adapt to singing and playing guitar?
KS: You know what? Because I’ve been playing guitar for a long time and I’ve been a singer, it wasn’t hard to adapt to it. I think the hardest thing to get used to was all the gear on stage because I just went from a singer with a mic to having a guitar, so the amount of things that can actually go wrong increased. So, I think that was the one thing that was a challenge.
Which do you prefer?
KS: I prefer singing and playing. I’ve always been a fan of Robb Flynn from Machine Head and James Hetfield from Metallica. I just love that whole frontman with a guitar deal.
Rob Shotwell: Let me chime in here and let you know that Kevin writes a lot of the material, even before he was the singer and guitar player for us. So, it was probably less of a transition for him because he’s always been singing and playing. He just wasn’t doing it live. It wasn’t too bad for him to pick up the guitar and play because he’s already got the songs in his head for the most part, so it was a natural transition because we became a four-piece, and at that point, we were like, “That’s it! We don’t need anybody else!”
KS: It always felt like there was a fifth wheel as a five-piece. It never felt solid, but as a four-piece, it’s a lot tighter.
Now, with Anthem, did you write all of the stuff on there or was it more of a collaboration?
KS: It was a mixture of both. Sometimes I would come in with a song written or sometimes I’ll come in with a part and we’ll work on it as a band or someone else will come in with an idea and we’ll work on it and make a song out of it. So, it’s a mixture of both.
You guys recorded and produced Anthem on your own. How was it dealing with that process for the first time?
RS: For Anthem, we decided that we were going to do things on our own, so Kevin purchased a large studio setup converting every square foot of his apartment into a home recording studio. So, we produced, we wrote, we recorded, we did everything ourselves on this EP, and we think it sounds better than anything we’ve ever put out before.
Why are you choosing to re-release Anthem?
KS: Well, actually, we want to add two new songs to it, and the original Anthem has two songs that were originally recorded at another studio, while the other four songs were recorded at my studio, Immortal Sound Studios, so we want to re-release Anthem without the songs we recorded at the other studio, and add the two new songs. So, everything sounds more linear as far as recording and sound goes. Plus it never hurts to re-release something!
Are you going to market the CD differently this time around?
RS: We’re actually in the process right now of doing a new music video for “Anthem,” which we have not yet done any music videos for anything off of Anthem, which is kind of strange considering I shoot videos almost every month. This time around we’re going to shoot some live videos for the songs off of the album. For instance, we just shot some live footage at Dingbatz in Clifton, NJ, during Darkness Fest, and we’ll be filming some live footage at our upcoming gig at the Starland Ballroom in Sayreville, NJ, when we open for Fear Factory. That one will be a big six camera shoot. The album speaks for itself. It’s fast, it’s raw, but we want to show people the live show because we’re a live band.
What happened with your record label, Crash Music?
KS: Basically, they gave us a small budget to do an album, and right before we went out on the tour to promote the CD, they pulled our tour support. We just felt that they didn’t market the album. They put it out there, the distribution was great, but nobody knew about it. Nobody knew that it was in stores, nobody knew about it. We were paying out of our own pocket to go on the tour in a Winnebago and to pay for half-page ads in The Aquarian to try to get people to buy the record. We just figured there was no point to sign on with them for another year or two if it didn’t work out the first time. So, we decided to go back into the studio and that’s when we recorded “Embodiment Of Rage” and “Cancer Society,” which we put out as a two-song demo. We kept gigging around and we wrote all this new material and that’s when we decided to just do it ourselves and let’s kill. And that’s what we decided when we came out with Anthem.
What’s in store for Ashes Of Your Enemy moving forward?
RS: Well, there’s the re-release of our EP called Anthem, a couple of new music videos on the horizon, we just recorded two new songs, which we said earlier will be on the re-release and we’ll push on the radio, and the show with Fear Factory will be the biggest show for the month of August anywhere because they haven’t played in Jersey for three years. If I don’t break my neck at that show, then I didn’t put my 110 percent in. Oh, yeah, and we have new Ashes Of Your Enemy t-shirts that we’ll be unveiling at the Fear Factory show.
Since I know that you guys have run into lots of moshing and stage diving at your shows, what are your thoughts regarding the newly freed Lamb Of God singer, Randy Blythe?
KS: I saw the video and I thought it was blown way out of proportion, and they tried to make some sort of example out of him. It was total bullshit. If you watch the video, the guy was on stage and he kept jumping up there, and all Randy was doing, the security guards as well, they just pushed him off the stage back into the pit. People get pushed off stage all the time when they jump on stage or they dive right off. It just so happens that I guess Randy had his hand on him and the guy fell back into the pit, cracked his head, and died 10 days later, which is a horrible thing, but they shouldn’t have pinned it on Randy Blythe. You have to look at it like this, too—artists, for the most part, don’t like people jumping on stage anymore ever since what happened to “Dimebag” Darrell, but we’re happy that Randy is free.
Ashes Of Your Enemy will be at the Starland Ballroom on Aug. 15. To purchase the re-release of Anthem, or for more details on the show, go to ashesofyourenemy.com.