Interviewed by Chris Martin (Senior Staff Writer) Myglobalmind Webzine
MGM: So my first question is- what are some of your influences in life, as far as music is concerned?
Matt Marinelli: Well, it started with Van Halen, that was the first kinda, that’s what got me into guitar. And then I started going more into like the 80’s, like Dokken and Winger and Queensryche and White Lion and all those guys. And then my dad actually showed me Stratovarius, Kamelot, and Gamma Ray, and I was like man this is the 80’s but like modern. And I remember when I first started listening to Evergrey, and Evergrey, to me, is like my #1 thing, so this tour was perfect for us. So it would be, for me it would be Evergrey, Nocturnal Rites, Kamelot, this band called Seventh Wonder, which blew me away. And even bands like Scar Symmetry, Soilwork, Amorphis, and all those bands like…I’m such a big metal fan in general that I have such a huge catalog that I love, but Evergrey, for me, was the best of everything because they were heavy, but they’re very melodic which is something that, for Borealis is very important to me where I wanna be. I like catchy, melodic so Evergrey I would say would be our #1.
MGM: I can tell. There’s definitely a huge Evergrey influence in there.
MM: There is. And sometimes we don’t mean to be in some aspects so Evergrey, but I think it is an easy thing because my voice is lower, similar to Evergrey. We do that…sections where it’ almost like a breakdown where it’s chugging, and to me that’s like the Evergrey sound. And I even told Tom that it’s like they’ve almost created a genre where they’ve taken the Power Metal scene and turned it into this heavy kinda like chugging thing, but with the lower vocals. And I think it’s easy for people to compare us to them because of that aspect.
MGM: You see, I think it’s interesting you bring that up because you know you fall into the Power Metal world, and just like Evergrey, but it’s totally different than most of your stereotypical Power Metal bands.
MM: It is! And I think it’s because we don’t really have a fantasy element, we don’t sing about the dragon and wizard kind of thing, which is great, I love all those, even like the fantasy element I love, but for us we kind of like more of the real topics I guess you can say, and Evergrey is very dark. Their concept, darker than we are, even though we’ve been considered kind of like the dark melodic metal, it’s tough to portray that because when we’re on stage we have so much fun that we can’t (laughing) give that dark element because we’re so happy and just so pumped to be playing in general.
MGM: When I talked to the guys in Evergrey earlier I told them it’s like the music is dark, the lyrics are kind of dark, but there’s always a sense of hope, and it’s more of a positive sound than it is negative. And I got the same vibe off of you guys too, listening to your music.
MM: And that’s what we, we’re definitely trying to do that. We, not that we like dark, but it’s interesting for us. The elements, let’s say with our new album Purgatory, it is a concept album and it’s just something interesting about that dark, not necessarily emo in that genre I guess but…I guess it’s hard to explain. It’s just one of those things when I see Evergrey it kind of like (makes “hunh” sound) it gives you like that shiver where it’s dark and it’s, but it’s not emo. It’s not like…it’s hard to explain. That’s what I, we’ve always been very interested in that. And for Purgatory that’s kinda where the concept album is very dark, and that’s kind of the idea of what we were trying to come across with.
MGM: So it pretty much was a conscious decision to steer away from the fantasy type Power Metal stuff?
MM: Yeah, I think…I love it, I love the sound of it, but for me as a writer I just, I can’t relate to it and it just, I think if we did the fantasy element it would be very forced, and we don’t wanna do that. But again, we love it, I listen to it, and I’m a big fan of it, but for us I think it would be embarrassing for us to do that style. (Laughing)
MGM: I also think that sometimes you can be fans of things that you don’t necessarily wanna play.
MM: Oh exactly! Like I’m a fan of so many different styles of guitar players and genres that don’t necessarily relate to what we’re doing, but just from a personal enjoyment I love doing it. I think where Borealis is a little different is because we are from Canada and the North American scene we have influences we don’t normally listen to, but just because we’ve been exposed to it so many times we just give that off and a perfect example is Nickelback. We don’t listen to Nickelback, but people have said you kind of have that sound…
MGM: Actually, the band I think, the band that I think you sound more like is if Lillian Axe played metal. Are you familiar with Lillian Axe?
MGM: I think that you’ve got kind of a similar Lillian Axe groove going for you, but you’re just heavier than they are. They’re one of the most underrated bands ever been around from back in the day, they were so talented and never really made it anywhere. It’s nice to hear that kind of sound going on with what you got going on.
MM: Yeah, and I think a lot of that is because I was, and still am, such a big fan of that 80’s sound and, but also the modern metal, but it’s always gonna come out, like there’s so many riffs I’ll play that are very 80’s.
MGM: The new album is fantastic. How was it making that?
MM: Thank you so much. It was different for us, and I think that’s why there was such a long delay. We had elements of…well I guess the biggest difference was that our drummer, he did all the engineering and producing, which is excellent for us. But when it comes to a timeframe it’s, sometimes it’s harder because normally, with Fall From Grace, we booked a studio, we had this much time, we had to get it done. With Shawn Dower, our drummer doing it we didn’t have that end date so like we could go in the studio and write, and that was different because with Fall From Grace we had everything written, we rehearsed it, we knew every song perfectly, but with Purgatory we wrote as we were in the studio, which was a whole different thing for us. And that’s why when people ask what’s the song that you think is your favorite I would always say “My Peace” because that was the song that we were like, this is the sound we want. And that was for us, once “My Peace” was written it kind of progressed from there.
MGM: So is that how you think you’ll approach recording the next album? Is that, is that, I guess is that the best way so far for making an album for Borealis?
MM: Yes…yes and no. The only difference is it’s not going to be as long as what Fall From Grace to Purgatory was. We’re already writing for the new album because we really didn’t like having that many years doing nothing. It was hard for us, we were kind of like…I don’t know it was just, we didn’t want to be that forgotten band that’s really easy, especially in this genre to be that, like if you don’t do anything in four years there’s a million other bands (laughing) that are gonna do something so we don’t wanna do that again so that’s why we’re immediately starting to write the new album and the new one will be a lot sooner than the five years, four years that we took.
MGM: I was doing a little research about Borealis and apparently when you first started you were going with a female vocalist that was more operatic?
MM: Yeah we had a Nightwish vibe to it because we’re really big fans of Nighwish at the time and it just didn’t work out. Really, that was the only thing, and the only reason why I started singing was we had a show with a band called Sonata Arctica and at the time we didn’t have a singer we had this show booked, and we’re like OK we need a singer really bad. And we had all these auditions and it just wasn’t working out and I was like OK I’ll sing, I’ll sing for the show just so we can do it and continue. So I started to sing for the show, we had a good reaction. It was nothing that I initially wanted to do, sing, but the reaction was so well we said OK let’s stick with it.
(Briefly interrupted to do a tour photo)
MGM: Alright, so we left where we were talking about the female in the band. And that you decided to start singing. Did you know- I assume you knew you could sing?
MM: Not metal. When I was real young, the keyboard player he actually played drums and we kinda did like a little band thing and I was the singer, but I would sing like punk kind of music so metal for sure I was never, I never thought I could ever do. I always had influences like, as I started getting into the style of music, I love like Russell Allen, Jorn Lande, Tom Englund, and even Tommy Karevik from Seventh Wonder, I just had, I loved the sound of their voice and I loved that lower register so from that point on I was like OK, if I’m gonna sing, that’s the style I wanna sing like. I wasn’t trying to copy it, that was the influence I had.
MGM: I can definitely hear that in your voice…
MM: Which to me is a compliment. I just love that lower register.
MGM: Actually, it’s funny you mentioned Jorn. Years ago when he was briefly with Yngwie Malmsteen they played on the big stage in there (indicating Tremont Music Hall where Borealis had just performed earlier that evening.)
MGM: I didn’t know who the hell he was, but when he opened his mouth and started singing, I was just like what the hell, who is this guy?
MM: He’s like a lion! To me he kind of has that look but like, but when he, he’ll always start off with like that run, his vocal run, and, I don’t know…
MGM: I knew it wasn’t going to last though because while he was trying to talk and stuff Yngwie would start noodling and shit you could tell he was getting very mad.
MM: Yeah, I think they did one tour.
MGM: And that was probably about a month.
MM: Yeah, I don’t even think it was the full tour (both of us laughing)
MGM: Yeah, but it was an amazing performance. And I can definitely hear the influence in your voice too.
MM: And it is an influence too. I don’t think I have the skill as what they have. I’m still pretty new vocally, but those are definitely influences that I have.
MGM: When you veered away from the female singer, other than just you had to have a singer were you afraid of being pigeonholed into the whole Nightwish, Epica sort of thing?
MM: Yeah, we never really wanted…our thing is we don’t wanna be a copy of something. And I think especially in the melodic metal style it’s easy to get put in a category of some other band because there’s always, Nightwish operatic, if you’re doing an operatic style you’re immediately categorized as “Nightwish.” And I think because my vocal range I just don’t have a high vocal range, it immediately took us into the Evergrey style even though we had our influences of Nocturnal Rites, even this band called Twilightning, I think they’ve stopped, but Twilightning, and the heavier bands like Soilwork, Scar Symmetry, Eluveitie and even like the folk style music, like we love that, but I think with even the style of my vocal range we immediately get put into the Evergrey, which I am perfectly fine with (Laughs)
MGM: Hey, if you’re gonna be lumped into a category…
MM: No, I, when you have a band that’s your favorite band and they categorize you as that it’s similar to that style I find it’s a compliment and to me, to be honest, there’s not a lot of bands like Evergrey. I don’t think, I could be wrong, but I feel it’s not like an overdone thing.
MGM: No, it is not. They’re very unique.
MM: It’s extremely unique. I think if we had elements of Evergrey, it’s not a bad thing.
MGM: Right. My last question is, as a new band. And you’re pretty much getting started even though you’ve been out for ten years, in the grand scheme of things it’s pretty new.
MM: Oh no, we’re definitely new.
MGM: Are there any suggestions you could make to other bands to kind of try to avoid, they should be trying to do?
MM: I think, like for us, we’re all kind of going into it in our 30’s now and I think the most important step is to continue. I think it’s really easy, especially with life in general, you start a family, you, I’m getting married in October, it’s easy to say OK, you know what, I’m not gonna do that anymore. I want something that’s more secure, and for us all the members have full time jobs and for us this is a vacation. We get to tour…
MGM: And I don’t think a lot of fans pick up on that too, this is vacation time from a real job.
MM: It’s true and I think, and even before we started doing this I was kind of stuck in that illusion. I’d read these magazines and I’d think oh man this band is huge and I’m reading it in this magazine and in reality they all have jobs, they all have other things going on and I learned that real quick because, with this album especially they put us in a lot of magazines and a lot of things we’re kind of that, to someone that doesn’t really understand the industry they think wow they’re well off, they’re very successful and in reality it’s like it’s awesome that we’re in a magazine, like to me it’s ideal, it’s what I’ve always wanted, but money and everything, you still have to have a job. It’s a tough industry, and we don’t regret it, even doing something like this (indicating Tremont again) is phenomenal for us. I just mark everything down as an experience to tour, to play festivals, and get to hang out with bands that I’ve always looked up to, like to me that’s an experience and no money in the world can match that. So I work at the level I do even if it’s on vacation time (laughs.) We love it and we’re gonna continue to do it.