(Photo credit: Fearless Records)
(Interview answered by Justin deBlieck)
You wrote “Enjoy Your Slay” after polling fans to ask if they’d prefer a song based off of The Shining or Psycho. I love that kind of fan inclusion! Not only that, but the song features vocals from the grandson of Stanley Kubrick, Sam Kubrick. Which again is just so above and beyond what most bands are doing. Did you have any inspiration for that kind of creativity and ambition or has that always been part of your vision?
We’ve always felt that INK fans deserve a better version of what they’ve been given previously. After “The Predator Becomes The Prey” was released we found ourselves comfortably fitting in so to speak. I feel that every band at some point has a moment of self-reflection and asks “what are we doing differently? How do we stand out? What makes us special?” I worry that too many bands only go so far when trying to answer those questions.
For us, finding a new way to swell into a chorus, how many breakdowns we can fit in a song, or how frighteningly low we can get our screams to sound just wasn’t cutting it. We started to think more long term. How do we do this forever? The answer for us was in the overall package. We thought, what if we could re-tell a familiar story from a new perspective? What if we could capture the emotional states of the characters and put it to music with a bed of orchestral elements that place the listener in the environment intended by the original story? Our overall vision has always been captivating listeners and drawing them into an experience that they can call their own. Now that we’ve connected the dots with our concept, music, lyrics, art, image, video, and design, we feel like we’re onto something that we can truly call our own.
In the spirit of the nostalgia of this being the last Warped Tour, can you tell me about something music related or otherwise from your youth that has meant a lot to you, and had an impact on who you became?
It may sound cliche but the first concert I ever went to started a fire in me that’s been burning ever since. I remember showing up to the local bar/venue/s**thole to see Thursday’s headliner in support of “Full Collapse”. I’ve never experienced anything like it. To this day I can’t say I’ve ever relived that same unique feeling. It screamed “you have to do what they do. No matter what it takes. This is you’re calling”. That concert lived on through me for years to come.
You’ve toured a lot with Chelsea Grin and Every Time I Die—what’s something in the live performance space you think you’ve learned from them?
Both incredible bands. I’ve toured with Chelsea Grin during all their lineup changes from being a 6 piece to a 5 piece to a 4 piece with a new vocalist. I’ll say that this band, regardless of their personnel at any given time, has provided their fans with the same immense heaviness, technicality, and energy since day 1. Always striving for perfection, they nail it every time.
ETID, being a band that formed an hour from my home, was a band I had listened too for quite a while. I joined bands when I was younger who had been heavily influenced by them. Again, another band dedicated to delivering 110% every time. I saw them when I was in high school and after a decade or more and handfuls of tours with them, they still present themselves as the exact same band. It’s truly inspiring.
A lot of emerging artists struggle with consistent and compelling social media content. What advice do you have for the artist who has a small fan base, but knows how important social media is, and just can’t think of what content to post that frequently, how to interact, or how to make it interesting?
The biggest challenge in social media I feel isn’t in the content at first. It’s having the audience. You can post all the right content but if you’re not reaching and expanding your audience it can be discouraging to the user. I’ve found that relying completely on social media to gain more followers just won’t cut it. For artists, you need to have a real life presence as well as a social one. Fans want to meet you, see you at shows, tell you how much they enjoy your craft, etc. Also building relationships with others who have more successful social media metrics. We see so often accounts sharing posts or updates from other accounts. Help others build their brand and vice versa. It’s like the old days when we use to trade shows to expand to other cities. You have to be ambitious and willing to put in the time with the right people and the right content.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received, in life or related to your music career?
Don’t wait for opportunities to present themselves, prepare for everything and anything, be ready to strike when the iron is hot, always have a backup and showing your appreciation is more important than saying it.
Did you or did you have a mentor? How did that influence your growth as an artist?
I’ve had various mentors throughout my stages in life. I had a teacher in school that had the patience and understanding of no other. He taught me that there’s a right and wrong way to do things. He showed me that the fastest way isn’t always the best way. He taught me about ambition.
Another important mentor in my life was my father. He showed me how to care for others. He shared his experiences with me that shaped me into someone who can always be counted on. He knew to stop me when I was heading in the wrong direction and calmly explain what was ahead. He taught me insight and preparation. Little did I know that these were life skills that would help me rise above every hardship we’ve had on the road as young and experienced touring musicians.
What can fans expect to see coming from Ice Nine Kills this year?
This is going to be a very exciting year. We have what we feel is our most cohesive album yet, a series of concept videos connecting an arching theme, expansion of our touring circuits, and more. As we grow in our jointed career as musicians in INK we also have personal ventures of our own that we intend to share with the people who have supported us over the past decade. It’s going to be big year!
Through the art of intricate songwriting and elaborate storytelling, Boston MA’s Ice Nine Kills have the ability to engage and captivate listeners, winning over a fanatical legion of followers across the nation. Seamlessly weaving aggressive post-hardcore with soaring melodies, the ferocious four-piece utilizes multi-textured guitar hooks, a dual vocal attack, complex orchestral arrangements and a pummeling rhythm section, which grabs the listener by the throat and refuses to let go. The drive and dedication of Ice Nine Kills has made a lasting impression on fans both sonically and through their explosive live show, creating a kinetic energy through each performance. Armed with a new collection of songs, Ice Nine Kills stand poised for their biggest chapter yet.