Silver Talon: Becoming A Demon

  Bryce Vanhoosen is a founding member of Silver Talon the Portland, Ore. band that was formed out of the ashes of Spellcaster last year. I got to learn about Bryce’s entrance into music. Silver Talon recorded their mini album, Becoming A Demon, with Zach Ohren who they worked with for “Night Hides The World.” Bryce was able to get former Nevermore guitarist Jeff Loomis to contribute a guitar solo to the band’s cover of “Battle Angels.” We finished things up by looking back on some crazy times from a few years back with Spellcaster.

Bryce, can you give me an introduction of yourself?                                                                      

  I was about 15 and I started out with bass because I thought the guitar would be way too hard. I played bass exclusively for the first year. Fifteen is a bit of an older age to get started with an instrument. When I was growing up my family never had a lot of money. Music equipment is expensive, especially when you go to the local music store and they are trying to sell you some pro-grade instrument for $500 that you can play a small club with. My parents were like, “Oh, that’s crazy.” There was a couple of years of me just bothering them. Finally, they gave in and I got my first bass. Shortly after that I started borrowing guitars from friends of mine that they had lying around.

  When I first started out, I was in a few punk bands. I am from Oregon City, which is a suburb outside of Portland. I was jamming with people in high school. We would hang out in friend’s barns and play. There wasn’t that much that came out of that. There weren’t that many places in Oregon City to play, and I played Portland a few times. We primarily played at the Paris Theater which has a history of going back and forth with being a porn theater and a venue. I eventually started a Mercyful Fate/King Diamond cover band with Cory (Boyd) from Spellcaster. Spellcaster had a shakedown with the lineup at the time. I found my way into playing with those guys. That morphed into Silver Talon and here I am.

How did you guys in Silver Talon form? Can you tell me about your lineup now?

  In the lineup it’s me and Sebastian on guitars. There is Wyatt Howell who is our vocalist now from Sanctifyre. There is Colin Vranizan on drums. Gabe Franco was in the band and got us off the ground, but is now focusing on his project Idle Hands who are on EisanWald with Uada. Gabe recorded the bass parts for our ep Becoming a Demon. He’s out of the band now. Noah Hadnutt was in Sanctifyre, and now BloodStar and is doing bass for us at the moment. He was a stand in live bass player for Visigoth for quite a few years.

Moving forward from Spellcaster to Silver Talon, how do you feel like the type of music you want to make has changed?

  Moving forward from Spellcaster I guess we weren’t making as cool riffs as I wanted. It was always like here’s the cool guitar melody; you play the chords. About 70 percent of the music went forward from that way. I wanted to include more riffy elements and hooks as far as instrumentation goes. I’m a big fan of Savatage and that was the main inspiration. Listen to songs like “Hall of the Mountain King,” or “Call of the Night.” You can’t argue with those riffs. They are so badass. I wanted to focus a bit more on that with Silver Talon.

  I wanted to have the opportunity to throw in some guitar pyrotechnics and interesting non-standard song arrangements taking influence from King Diamond’s Them album. Three out of five of the original songs on this mini album that we just released were being jammed as Spellcaster. That would have been the next album from Spellcaster. It would have been a bit of a departure from “Night Hides The World,” but we would have made it work. Once we split from the Spellcaster moniker, it was my own little baby.

Can you tell me what was going on when you wrote your first two released demos, “Devil Machine” and “Warrior’s End”?

  It was a vastly different process between those two songs. When we wrote “Devil’s Machine” we were still jamming as Spellcaster for album No. 4. I am sure it would have been a much different song than we ended up with. The song was pretty much finished. We parted ways with our vocalist Tyler Loney. We put out “Devil Machine” as our casting call for as many different vocalists as we could find. We got a bunch of submissions and picked Wyatt. From there we fleshed out the vocals into the studio and rerecorded them.

  With “Warrior’s End,” that was a song we jammed as Spellcaster, so me, Gabe, and Colin jammed that back in 2015, during the writing process for “Night Hides The World.” We pretty much finished it. The rest of the guys in Spellcaster thought it was a little too busy and hard to sing over. That shows some of the riff to melody sort of dichotomy that I was trying to fight against.  It stayed as a garage band file for years until I found it again in late 2017 and brought that back to the table. Gabe and Wyatt worked on a vocal melody for that one. We went into the studio and released it as our second demo.

What kinds of things did you say to Zach Ohren during the recording sessions, and what he was looking for from your band?

  We have a good rapport with Zach from recording “Night Hides The World.” He kind of knew what we were going for and what we wanted. There are a lot of modern new wave of traditional heavy metal bands out there that try to make it seem like their album was recorded in the ‘70s or ‘80s. We tried to give it a modern production so we fit in with the bands of today. We started with drums first. There were no triggers on the drums, they were pretty natural. I like how Zach is straightforward and able to coax the best performance out of you. He’s very blunt and straight to the point. He is not afraid to tell you something sucked or was shit when he thinks he can get a better take out of you. It can be grating to some people, but for me it makes me do my best.

I really dug “Speed of the Night” for the complex song writing and awesome use of arpeggios, how did this song come together?

  I was listening to a lot of Symphony X and Testament and it came out of that. I knew I wanted to write an intro with a lot of arpeggio sequences to go through like a real classical chord progression. Then I took a lesson with this kid that plays 8 string guitar. He was like 17 at the time and real prodigy. His name is Sims Cashin. He showed me some different arpeggio voicings and how to make them sound a little different by substituting one note. I went through with what I had and it sounded a bit more dramatic. There was a lot of time listening to “Electric Crown” by Testament. We took the idea of playing four chords and moving those around to different spots.

How did you get Jeff Loomis to do a guitar solo on “Battle Angels”?

  I just asked him and he was surprisingly into it. I met him at a Fifth Angel show a few years ago in Seattle. He was standing outside chilling out. I was like, “Holy shit!” I said, “I have to get a picture with this guy.” I was with my wife and said, “Hey, can you take a picture of me and Jeff Loomis?” She was like, “Yeah, you totally should.” She was encouraging me. I was like, “Hey man, you mind If I get a picture with you.” He was like, “Yeah, of course.” He said I looked familiar. To my surprise he says, “You live in Portland and play a Jackson V right?” Holy shit! Jeff Loomis has seen me on Instagram and is familiar with my playing.

We hung out and shot the shit a little bit. We kept in contact via social media. One day we would do a Sanctuary cover and I thought it would be really cool if I could get Jeff to lay down a solo on that. Nevermore used to cover that back in the ‘90s so he’s familiar with it. I felt it would be a cool tribute to Warrel (Dane) after his passing. It was a good way to show our influence and bring everything together.

Can you remember a crazy adventure you guys got into as Spellcaster?

  The most interesting and craziest night was when we were coming back from a short tour to the Bay. We were coming back up and stopped in Arcadia, Calif. We thought it would be cool to get a room at a small hotel that had a hot tub in it. We wanted to live out our most ridiculous Motley Crue fantasies so you had five guys chilling in a hot tub. We had a lot of champagne and a ton of booze. We got completely black out drunk. Apparently, I started acting like a really big asshole, Gabe our bass player was not having it. We were breaking shit. He was upset because it was on somebody’s credit card. Somebody was going to have to pay for that… Gabe was pissed off and was yelling at me.

  I then go out and grab a trash can in the hall in my skivvies. I filled it up with ice and come back in and said something like, “Gabe you need to chill out,” and I dumped the ice on him. He then tackled me. I think that was the most pissed off Gabe had ever been at me. I don’t remember what happened but I think I won that confrontation. He just curled up in his sleeping bag and went to sleep. When we woke up there was broken glass and blood everywhere.

Final Words?

  Thanks for the interview. I really appreciate it. Check out Silver Talon’s debut Becoming A Demon, and we are on tour from Nov. 4 to Dec. 1.


Catch Silver Talon in New York City on Nov. 18 at St. Vitus, and in Philadelphia on Nov. 20 at No Quarter.