Interview: Feast Eternal
By: Dale Huffman
Hi Guys! I hope all is well in Michigan?
(Matt) Hey whats up? Michigan is OK. Weather is starting to warm up, and that always a good thing after such a brutal winter.
I see you guys are back. Is there any change with the line up? What has Feast Eternal been up to the last 6 years?
(TJ) Well we never really went anywhere honestly. After we released With Fire we tried to get out as often as we could to promote it. Unfortunately we only managed to get a few live shows out of that album including Cornerstone in 2008. We are very family oriented guys and that can take priority over the band at times. Still we try to keep moving forward, even if its at a snails pace sometimes! As for the line up…Aaron Byrnes is now with the band on lead and rhythm guitar. We had to part ways with John Greenman again because he had other things he wanted to devote his time to and didn’t have space for Feast Eternal. We wish Johnny all the best!
You said Aaron Byrnes is the new guitarist. Was he in the band Mercy Rule? If so, I think they could have made it big if they could have found the right label.
(TJ) Aaron Byrnes is with the band now, and we are totally stoked to have him in the fold. he is a fantastic dude, and we’re totally blessed to know him. Its been something of an adjustment for Matt and myself, as we’ve spent a lot of years building a kind of specific, family dynamic with each other. Aaron, being the new guy, is of course, new to all our jokes and nonsense. So he must think we’re totally nuts sometimes!! but, working with him has created a totally different dynamic in the creative process of the band, and totally for the better! Its taken a little adjusting on some levels. When you spend years and years working things out a certain way creatively you tend to get used to those habits. but its been a great experience overall, and i believe the new material reflects that! Aaron was in Mercy Rule (not the punk band). As for anything else related to that ill have to turn the Q and A over to him…..
(Aaron) Yes, that is me, I was in Mercy Rule. Thank you for the sentiment, I would like to think something like that could have happened. Realistically at the time I was just hoping to sell enough CD’s (15-30,000) to do a rag tag tour of the U.S. once, or twice. Oh well, we were young and stupid (21-22 years old). Going with the first record company that calls you before your demo is even done….not a good plan. We had been together since we were 14 & 15 years old! We had worked so hard for so many years building a great live show, and a local following. That one decision killed moral, and killed the band within a year. We had some good ideas for songs, some talented members, and a good local following . With a good record company (one with a plan for production, studio, engineer, and most importantly to a band of kids our age, A PRODUCER! That along with, good distribution, and good promo plan) I think it may have been possible. Looking back though, it would have been short lived anyways, thanks to America’s thirst for the Next Big Thing… Yeow!….. Kurt Cobain, and playing out of tune!
(Matt) Aaron brings an exciting and new flavor to the music we create. He does things differently at times but we are adjusting accordingly. I’m sure we drove him nuts wanting updates and doing tweaking too but he just smiled and pulled it off. It’s always hard to teach an old dog new tricks, but I think it’s an excellent fit and makes the process interesting. He’s a very hard worker both inside and outside Feast Eternal, and it really shows too in the quality of this release. He spent so much time on the album (some of it on vacation over the winter). I can remember him telling me when he got back that he spent so much time with us “under the palm trees” on vacation that he needed a vacation from us when he got back. LOL. He’s an excellent addition to Feast Eternal and I think we will go places we have never been with him adding his flavor and attitude to the music. Simply amazing really!
I see Feast is back doing some recording. Could you tell us a little about the new release that is coming out in the next few months?
(TJ) Yes, finally!!! We are preparing to release an EP of four all new songs. These new tracks are some of the strongest pieces we’ve done to date. We are all pretty blown away by how they’ve all turned out. Hopefully our fellow metal heads will be as excited about them as we have been!! Seriously though….this new material has really shown itself to be a true step up for the band. The production and overall intensity of the material has really grown from where we’ve been previously. We are all really happy with it, and are looking forward to following up this mini CD with a full length release.
(Aaron) Well, this is the first Feast project with me in the band. Ted is a true Metal Monster. He literally just plugs in and starts chunkin’ out some of the coolest riffs around! I think his growling is as good as they get! Matt brings in the beats, objectivity, arrangement, and strong visionary focus. Together this is a truly powerful combination, and the guts of the Feast Eternal sound. After playing with these guys for about a year, I was so inspired by the stuff they were coming up with, that I felt that my job was to fill in the missing piece of the puzzle – production! Due to my bad experiences in M.R. I understand how important, and how hard it is to get good production. In the immediate years to following M.R. (early 90’s), I learned how to do some production, and engineering myself, going on the premiss “If you want it done right, do it yourself!” After M.R. I was also in another band with my friend, Luke Petty, called Jigsaw Jungle. We built our own recording studio. I learned quite a bit from some local studio guys, and applied it to a couple of mildly successful local releases in the early 90’s. So now, years later, with that experience, It had become my humble mission to bring to light what I felt Feast Eternal’s music deserved. I invested in equipment, started reading a lot of manuals, and watching a lot of tutorials on YouTube. The guys gave it all to me, and strongly encouraged me to add my flavor to the music. That it wasn’t about them, but about us! Pretty cool, ay? It’s been a real blast doing this project, and here we are, months later – “Forward Through Blood”. The first release and what I hope will be one of many more to come, involving Ted, Matt, and myself.
I know you guys got burned on the last label you where on with your album “With Fire” release. Are you going to be looking for a new label?
(Matt) It was pretty frustrating for me. I was the go between for the guys and the label so it’s a different kind of stress. OGR met all the beginning requirements for us and did do a little promotion for us, but when we started getting emails from people who OGR wasn’t paying….well….that’s pretty bad. You know….the support mechanism that keeps a label going if you take care of business right and treat them properly. Don’t need to get into too many specifics but I realize a lot of people were angry with the way customers were treated as well. We are sorry for that. After a while it became apparent that things were not well and didn’t venture for another release with them even though it was in the contract. But at the end of the day….God’s still on the throne and all is forgiven. As far as another label is concerned….we shall see. If the fit is right and everything is on the up and up, I would be happy to! Not going to let a previous encounter with a label deter us from another because nobody is the same. If the good Lord provides….!
(TJ) Open Grave Records was the first ” record label” Feast Eternal ever signed with…officially anyways. At first, it was a fair deal. We got paid for use of our previous material and promised more cash etc for our next record. Honestly, they meant well, but they were very new, and really over reached with what they were trying to accomplish. Instead of seeking out and signing just a few top notch bands, they kinda just went hog wild and bit off huge chunks that they couldn’t chew. We got most of what we were promised, one way or the other, but in the end they folded and we moved on. As for looking for another label, that depends on what they have to offer us and what they want in return. Most labels want bands to tour, and that’s something we just cant really do. We can get out and play some shows, which we plan on trying to do as soon as we can, but to go out for 3 months just isn’t feasible for us. If there is an label out there that wants to work with us, and can offer us the right kind of environment for our band then we would certainly be open to talk, but as for our up coming release, we will be doing it all ourselves.
What’s next after the new EP comes out for Feast Eternal?
(TJ) Just more writing, and keeping on keeping on. We will be working together for as long as the lord allows, as as long as we can stand to be in the same room with each other!! Hahahahaha!!! Seriously though, we are planning a follow up full length album and some live dates. We just have to plan things out a little bit at a time.
(Matt) Writing and continued growth. We may do things a little differently as far as the process this time because of the way Aaron does things. Need to shift and not let those things stifle creativity. TJ is an awesome guitar player and writes some killer stuff and we have TONS of material down on tape. Aaron has an excellent flair for aiming the song to a desired outcome and with our combined powers of being malicious detail oriented guys….its gonna be fun! Hope to play some shows too!
Feast Eternal has been around for 20 years, yet you’ve remained an underground band. How did you manage to hang on that long?
(TJ) Friendship. Family. Faith. Common goals. It hasn’t always been the easiest of roads for us, but we’ve managed. There have been a lot of personal upheavals in our lives over the years, and its put us off track many times. Through it all we have always managed to come back to it with a desire to bang out some killer death metal, to just try and do the best we can. There’s really no easy answer, we’ve just done it is all. As to the underground……well, that’s were all the best metal happens anyways! A greater notoriety is always cool on some levels, but whatever happens is OK. We will make the best metal we can, and hopefully someone somewhere likes it.
Let’s turn our attention to 20 years as a Christian Metal band. What changes have you seen in the Christian Metal scene in the past 20 years; Good or bad?
(TJ) There have been a lot of changes in the scene, tons of things that are so different now from back in the day. One of the most notable things is that the mainstream churches don’t really pay any attention to rock music anymore..ha ha ha!! They are so busy with their devil sticks chasing greater demons that we get left alone by them. Some might say its a more passive acceptance of the art form as a whole. Perhaps, but I’m not sure that’s all of it. some of it is, but not all. A lot of things have remained the same. Too many bands that are following instead of leading. Too many coming into the whole christian scene jumping on worn out bandwagons. It gets tiresome really. Too much preaching to the choir. Back when we started, there was no internet or online presence of anything so you really had to set a high mark for your band to get noticed. To get out and tour and just pound out material. Now everything is everywhere all the time. So much crap, but tons of great stuff as well. The hard part is sifting through junk to get to the gems. These guys coming up today, they need to be out there dominating the scene, creating music that stands out or stands above the rest, owning the conversation and creating stuff that’s as good, if not better than any of the so called “secular” bands. That in its self is a term we tend to stay away from anymore. Music is music. Do you think that back in Christs time ,when some group of minstrels would come to play music at a tax collectors house, Christ would stop them and say, ” is this secular music your playing?” All talents are a gift from God, and to say anything otherwise would be tantamount to heresy. Yes of course those things can be corrupted, and used to do horrible things, but the talent is still a blessing and a gift. a mans choices do not render the work of God void. So any band, whether or not they are bringing the message of faith and salvation through faith in Jesus Christ, or they are spreading a message of zombie apocalypse, the skills and talents are still from God. I realize too that some groups out there are just so over the top offensive to Christianity that most faithful would be loathe to listen to them. We get that totally, but it doesn’t change the fact that the ability for these folks to belt out some absolutely spectacular music is no doing of wickedness. To be fair, Feast Eternal isn’t re-inventing any wheels with the music we make, but we are trying our best to tread our own path, and to make killer death metal that really sets the bar instead of riding behind it! When we started, we tried to conform to this whole “band as a ministry” thing, but we realized early on that the formula was all wrong for us. We are not preachers, or evangelical pastors, trying to convey some lofty sermons. We are just men; a bunch of fallen, sinful dudes that love metal, and love Jesus Christ, and just want to express that through our music. We will never hold back from telling anyone and everyone about our faith.
(Matt) Some good, some bad. You really have to define what kind of metal? We enjoy a lot of different music styles, but stick close to home. Bands come and go, wheels are not re-invented, nothing is groundbreaking. I miss the days with early Mortification, Vengeance, Crimson Thorn and Believer. Things were not tired and everything was refreshing in the scene. I think it’s important to know the scene your trying to be a part of instead of shutting it out because it may not be of God. We must know the enemy and the tools the enemy uses and that’s important to be viable in an ever changing secular scene. Terms come and go. “Unblack” just needs to go, as well as “White Metal”. Those terms are an attempt to sanitize the music style to make it more acceptable. I just think we need to be careful not to sanitize labels and terms to such a point that the secular realm just laughs and doesn’t take us serious. Make them fall in love with our Metal by being cutting edge and not behind the times, sit with them and minister to them on a personal basis not being high and lofty, and let God soften hearts and do His job. We just need to show up…..the rest is in His very capable hands!
Thank you very much for your time,. Any final words?
(Matt) Thanks for the interview, God bless and we hope you enjoy “Forward Through Blood”
1st Corinthians 13