The more you dig into the Canadian metal scene, the more gems you find, and Into Eternity is definitely a shiny one. Formed in the late 90's and since changed a little more members than the average band does, Into Eternity bring a fusion of death metal and heavy/progressive metal to the metalhead's table. Most recently, the band released its fourth full-length "The Scattering Of Ashes", an album which featured new vocalist Stu Block and got the fine tuning of Andy Sneap. I caught up with Tim Roth, the only remaining founding member in the band today, for some Q&A about the band, their latest album and the summer tours to come
Hi, it's a pleasure to interview a band I like so much, so first of all how are you doing and what have you been up to lately?
Interview with: Into Eternity guitarist and founding member Tim Roth
Thanks a lot for the support. We are just getting ready for the Dream Theater Tour that starts in the USA on July 24/07. I have been getting things done and practicing my guitar everyday. We'll start rehearsals in a week, when our new drummer Steve flies into Canada from Boston, where he lives.
Tell us about how Into Eternity started... how you chose the name, your first gig... when did you feel the lineup is solid enough to record?
I formed the band in 1996. I chose the name Into Eternity after the song that was on the first album. A death metal name wouldn't fit us, so I chose something that would make us sound a bit more progressive.
Our first gig was October 1996 in the basement of a house. In December 1996 we played a local club here in town. After getting the lineup right, we practiced for a year and a half and recorded our first album in early 1998.
Your music can be described are a mixture of death metal and progressive/heavy metal - I've even read somewhere a phase which went something like "the conjoining link between Death and Dream Theater" - First of all, do you agree with this description? And second, how would you define your music?
That description is close, but we have more in common with the band Death I think because we are so aggressive on the last couple albums. We stole our progressive sound from Dream Theater. I loved their clean vocals and solo interludes.
Our heavy sound is based from thrash and death metal. Progressive Death metal is what I would call us I guess. We have a lot of clean vocals though, so we are a hybrid metal band and that in itself makes us Progressive Metal.
Where do you start when you write new material, from the mellower side or the heavier side?
I usually start with writing a chorus. For that I will pick up my acoustic and create it using that. For all the heavy riffs, I plug into an amp with distortion and I create the fast, heavy stuff. Either one could come first though. It's just whatever mood I'm in at the time.
What was the process of making your latest album "The Scattering Of Ashes" like? Any highlights or low points worth mentioning?
I started writing for the album in December 2005. It took 4 months to write the songs and then we headed right into the studio. It was a tough time because I was the only guitar player at the time, so I couldn't bounce ideas off of myself. I did learn that I can write while under pressure. I think the last album is our very best!
I read somewhere that your personal tragedies had an effect on some of the lyrics in "Buried In Oblivion" - What are the lyrics on "The Scattering Of Ashes" about? Where did you get the inspiration to writing them from?
For this last album Stu our singer helped me with the lyrics. I always hate writing lyrics, so it was great to have a helping hand.
The inspiration just comes from living life. If we have a bad day or whatever, then it's always good to come home and write down some words on a piece of paper. It's not a concept album, but most of the lyrics deal with depression and the dark sides of life.
Into Eternity has both clean heavy/prog metal vocals and harsh death metal grunts and growls - how do you decide which part of the lyrics goes in which style?
The first thing we do is the music. After that, we start humming melodies over riffs to see what feels good to us. It's all done by feel.
We can tell what riffs will work for clean vocals and which riffs would be better for death vocals.
Jim Austin, your drummer, left the band for about a year and a half and returned to record your latest album "The Scattering Of Ashes" – why did he leave in the first place and how did you all feel about it? How did he rejoin the band?
He left in the first place because he got an amazing job here in our hometown. That means he can't tour anymore. He only has 3 weeks a year vacation and we tour 8 months out of the year!
He is a good friend of the band still. He did the "Scattering…" album and the Gigantour with Megadeth.
We now have a drummer named Steve Bolognese. He is from Boston in the USA. The band is all Canadian with a USA drummer now.
Continueing on that topic - Jim is known for his virtuoso drum work and I was wondering if you could tell us what they feed Canadian drummers such as Jim and those of Cryptopsy, Kataklysm or Quo Vadis with that makes them so good?
That is true, I guess. Finding a drummer is the hardest thing to do. There are some amazing drummers that come out of Canada and Jim is one of them for sure!
Why did vocalist Chris Krall and guitarist Rod Doherty leave the band in 2005? And why did Scott Krall, one of the founding members also leave?
Back in the day we weren't making a lot of money, so touring can really break up a band. Things are much better now and this lineup is solid.
How was your current lead vocalist, Stu Block, selected to be the "new" vocalist?
I saw Stu's old band come through town. They did a cover of "Painkiller" by Judas Priest. I thought he had a really great range to his voice. Stu actually contacted us in 2004 while we were touring in Europe. In January 2005 he came to our hometown and tried out. Then we headed on the road with him for 9 months! Now he is a real road dog!
You went through several crucial lineup changes - do you think the current lineup is the best so far? Would you consider rejoining past members in the same way it happened with Jim?
I'd like to leave the past behind. I think this is a great lineup for the band. Everyone is killer and we are sounding tight as a live act.
Into Eternity's music is quite technical, how do you keep in shape to be able to play all the songs? How often do you practice/rehearse?
I practice my guitar everyday and the rest of the guys do the same. When we are all together, then we jam 5 days a week and really try to keep tight as players.
Something you'd like to do as a band and haven't done yet?
Maybe one day we'll put out a live DVD. Also, it would be cool to put out a covers only album at some point. Those things would be fun for the fans I think.
As a Canadian band, what do you think about the way Canada is presented and made fun of on TV and movies (like Southpark and such)?
I think it's all done in good fun. I really enjoy Southpark actually!
You've toured the US, Canada and Europe - which crowd do you like better, your homeland's or the foreign one?
I think we get the best response these days from the USA. That is probably because that is where we tour the most. We have really built up a good fan base there.
What is currently coming out of your stereos and annoying the neighbors?
Iron Maiden - A Matter Of Life And Death
King Diamond - Give Me Your Soul...Please
Twisted Into Form - To Awaken The Dreamer
Symphony X - Paradise Lost
Dream Theater - Systematic Chaos
Megadeth - United Abominations
Cynic - Focus
If you were given a chance to bring back to life and work with one musician which one would it have been?
I would bring back Randy Rhodes, Chuck from Death and Dimebag. I bet we could come up with some killer music.
What do you like doing when you're off your band duties?
We usually practice our instruments, go to movies or play video games.
I have some relatives in Canada and I was thinking about visiting someday - What places would you recommend to go to?
Canada has many great places. I would tell you to go see the mountains west of Calgary Alberta into British Columbia. It is really amazing there. Check out the towns Jasper or Baniff.
Plans for the near future?
We are heading out on the Dream Theater Tour for 5 weeks and then head out with Edguy in September/October 2007.
And finally, the ultimate question - Lager, Ale or Stout?
I prefer a light lager. I don't like dark beers at all!
Thanks for doing the interview, hope you had as much fun answering my questions as I had writing them, best regards and I hope you'll consider coming for a show here in Israel someday too.