Interview by: Chris Martin
Pictures sourced from: Everthrone Facebook Page
Everthrone, based in South Carolina, was formed in 2005. The band describes their style of music as: “The marriage of forward-thinking heavy metal arrangements and synth-pop…” they make this unusual combination of styles work. Recently we had an opportunity to speak with their vocalist, Russell Plyler.
MGM: Since this will be the first time many of our readers will be hearing about your band, how did Everthrone come into existence?
Russell Plyler: 4 out of the 5 members of Everthrone were in a previous band called Merzah, and Everthrone emerged from our decision to move forward in a different direction.
MGM: Prior to the first album, Evil Tongues, was the blueprint already in place for the style of music the band would play and if so what brought about the sound? If not, what kind of music did the band begin with and why the change?
RP: About a quarter of Evil Tongues was written while we were still under the Merzah moniker, and the difference between the sound of Merzah and the sound of Evil Tongues was one of the reasons we decided to rename and rebrand the band. Merzah began many years ago as a very heavy band, much more technical than Everthrone, and with very little clean vocals. Through member changes, and basically growing up, the sound and style changed.
MGM: Evil Tongues, in comparison to the new album The Dawning, is heavier. While writing and recording that album what went into its creation? Reflecting back, how do you feel that album holds up now?
RP: As opposed to The Dawning, which was written in a four month span, Evil Tongues was written kind of piecemeal over about a year and a half time. During the writing of the first album, we were still unsure whether we wanted to remain as Merzah, or rebrand and kind of start over. I feel that Evil Tongues shows the evolution between Merzah and Everthrone, as evidenced by a comparison of Merzah’s last release, Saturn Deaming of Mercury, and the newest release by Everthrone. I think Evil Tongues can hold its own somewhat, at the very least it showcases the emergence of our songwriting techniques that we would continue to add to on The Dawning.
MGM: The new album The Dawning is a fairly drastic change in direction in a lot of respects. Gone are the growls and more extreme vocals that were interspersed on the first one. What prompted using the clean vocals exclusively this time around?
RP: Most of the reasoning for not including extreme vocals this go round was because we felt that the music really didn’t need it. The Dawning is much more symphonic, the most classically influenced that we have written to date, and as such we felt that all clean vocals were a much more expressive way to build on the sound. The decision was both subconscious and conscious; the music didn’t need it, and we also felt that we would be open to a wider audience. So far, that deduction has panned out.
MGM: You have a very strong, distinct, and powerful vocal ability that truly sets you apart from most singers out there today. How and when did you discover your talent? Have you had any vocal training? If so, where were you trained?
RP: I began singing in church where my mother was the choir director. I joined the chorus in school in 5th grade, and continued throughout high school, while also taking vocal lessons through the choir department at Winthrop University in Rock Hill. I took part in 2 all state choirs in high school. I have also had classical training in piano, guitar, and bass. I have almost quite literally lived music since I was around 12, and I don’t plan on changing that any time soon.
MGM: The Dawning is a conceptual piece. How did the idea come about? What is the basic story/running theme of the album? Was it a challenge writing it?
RP: The Dawning begins with a song about the lone survivor of a shipwreck, who throughout his musings comes to terms with his own death. The album ends with a continuation of the story, where the survivor awakes to daylight and hopes for a chance to survive, eventually drifting to land. The rest of the songs on the album are stand alone songs, but can also tie in to the themes from those two songs. Whether the song be about dealing with the death of a loved one, or feeling alive from revived and renewed consciousness, the entirety of the album mainly deals the idea of hope, and how hope should never be too far away. The biggest challenge while writing lyrics for this album was keeping things relateable. In the past, Merzah especially, my writing style was more stream of consciousness, where I could go back, get a feel for what I was trying to say, extrapolate from that some kind of meaning, and add to it. Since the inception of Everthrone, I have put forth more effort to write lyrics that others can also find meaning to, and either draw their own conclusions, or follow mine.
MGM: The Dawning was my favorite album last year. Why did Everhtrone steer away from being as heavy as the band was on the previous album, leaning more towards a darker more progressive sound? Or was it just how the album organically came to life? Who produced the album, where was it recorded, and how was that experience compared to working on Evil Tongues?
RP: Most of the difference in sound and style came naturally. The biggest difference between the writing of the two albums was that Chris Carland moved from bass to keyboards. Before, even in Merzah, Chris and (guitarist) Nevin would split writing of the keyboard parts, while still maintaining their own instruments. Chris moving exclusively to keyboards opened us up to many more possibilities, and The Dawning was most influenced by that change. We traveled to Cleveland OH and recorded our latest with Don Debiase Jr. at The Standby Studio. He produced the album, along with us throwing our two cents in, of course. Evil Tongues was recorded with Jaime King at The Basement Studio. With Jaime, we recorded in chunks, due to schedules and finances, and as a result we weren’t as involved with the process as with Don. In Cleveland, we literally slept across the hall from the studio, and put in eight full (12-16 hour) days. We were all present for each other, and the experience was that much better for it.
MGM: Prior to the CD release the band put out a couple of videos. The first one was for the song “Consciousness.” Why was that song picked as the first single/video? How was it working and making the video?
RP: “Consciousness” was chosen as the first single solely on marketability. The song itself is quite radio friendly, it is the correct length for a single, and the subject matter, although metaphorical, is easy to follow. We shot the video at my old house in McConnells, in the middle of nowhere, and actual production was as easy as it can be. Joey Kirkman shot the video, and he is a pro. Any and all questions we had going into it were easily worked out by him, and the shoot itself was simple. We had two actors, both friends of ours, Jason Griffith and Shelby Prevatt, who took their roles seriously, and as such lended the video a stark and realistic vibe. Will Moss did all the editing and did a fantastic job, he totally got what we were going for.
MGM: The second video was for the very emotional and powerful track “Loss.” The subject matter hits close to home for everyone dealing with the loss of a loved one. What’s the story behind the song? The video is drastically different from the first one. What was it like making that one?
RP: Whenever the guys write songs, they demo everything out and send me the files. Once I acclimate myself a little, I get a feel for what the song should mean and begin writing from there. Honestly, when this song was sent to me, I had no idea what to do with it for a while. Then my grandmother passed away, and this song seemed like a fitting tribute to her. I could celebrate her memory while also getting out some of the feeling I had. Once it was finished, I felt like we had something special, and we wanted to do something completely different for the video. Jimmy Pruett, who also did our last Everthrone photoshoot, shot the video. We shot it in Daniel’s (bass) uncle’s personal library. As with “Consciousness”, we wanted a certain artistic vibe to go with the song, and Jimmy nailed it.
MGM: Everthrone are one of those rare bands that, when I listen to your music, I get chills and moved emotionally by it. Having seen you live several times I get the feeling that most of your fans feel that way, too. What do you think it is about your music that creates such a devoted fanbase? What is it about Everthrone that sets you apart from other bands in the same genre?
RP: I think the biggest thing that sets us apart from other similar bands is our relateability. Not just as musicians or songwriters, but as people. One of our biggest things is to be real with others, not just “some guys in a band”. Our music itself is emotional, that is the point for us. The art we create is about feeling. We don’t set out to write a song and have some “awesome riff” or some “wicked scream” anymore. Its all about the entire package, which includes our live presentation, and it is always full of feeling.
MGM: Who is the primary songwriter(s)? Is it a group effort or does the writing fall primarily to certain members?
RP: While it is a group effort in the long run, Chris (keyboards) and Nevin (guitar) wrote the majority of The Dawning. They flesh out songs individually, then they usually get together and work on things together. After that, the rest of the instrumentation is added by Jeremy (drums) and Daniel (bass), and the songs are demoed out. At that point, it comes to me, where I write lyrics and vocal melodies and harmonies. After that, the song is esentially finished, unless we decide to make changes, whether they be subtle or drastic. For example, we scrapped an entire song for The Dawning, the closer we got to recording, the more the song didn’t seem to fit with the album.
MGM: In honor of the release of The Dawning late last year, you did a big CD release show at the now closed Tremont Music Hall in Charlotte, NC. At this show you performed the whole album in its entirety. Was that an idea the band had always had? How daunting was it to perform it in that way?
RP: We have always wanted to do a longer show, and had never until that point had the opportunity to do anything like it. We figured it would be something exciting to do, not just for us, but also for the fans who already had the album. It was a little nerve racking, simply because a few of the songs had never been performed live outside of rehearsals, namely “Loss” and “Crimson Gold”.
MGM: How has the reception been for The Dawning?
RP: So far reception has been decent, the people who like it, REALLY like it, which is awesome. The one thing I want to do is have our name and branding in front of more people.
MGM: What is next up for Everthrone?
RP: We are already looking forward to writing and recording another album. The actual writing process won’t begin for some months, and the recording is at least a year away. Until then, we want to focus on playing as many shows as possible, and also growing our brand to as many outlets as possible.
MGM: Any final thoughts?
RP: Everthrone can be reached on Facebook, Twitter, and Youtube, and our music can be streamed via Spotify or Pandora. Our official merch store is everthroneusa.bigcartel.com. Thank you for the interview, and thank you all for reading!