Ain’t No Rusty Cage: Interview with Deadiron

Deadiron has been emerging over the past couple years to be one of the most lovable and brutal acts to hit Cleveland in recent times.  You’ll find their stickers throughout Lakewood and East Cleveland, on bike racks, telephone poles, and occasional store windows.  After seeing them play a basement show over Halloween a couple years ago, I’ve been following these Viking metal gods from afar, and rooting them on to further success.  They were kind enough to answer (with gusto!) some questions for us.

Who is Deadiron?
-Alex Van Ness – Frontman and Lead Vocalist. A founding member of Deadiron and former member of Cleveland’s punk band, the Brazen Rogues. Alex is a very high energy performer who blends melodic singing with hardcore delivery. His lyrical topics focus around relatable issues from his own urban life experiences here in Cleveland.
-Tyler J. Harvey – Lead Guitarist and Backing Vocalist. Ty’s musical mastery is never more apparent than in his melodic lead lines and memorable guitar solos. The youngest member of Deadiron, Tyler is as purist in his classic metal tastes as he is educated about all styles of guitar and music, having graduated Case with a music degree and attended workshops at Berklee.
-Sunny Kolattukudy – Rhythm Guitar, Backing Vocalist, and Management. In addition to being a major player in the song writing process, Sunny organizes the band as a business. Having left medical school to pursue a career in music with Deadiron, Sunny brings a professional level of drive and a detail-oriented mindset to the band.
-J Bennett – Bassist and Backing Vocalist. A veteran of the northeast Ohio music scene, J has played in acts such as Von Isley and Subtle End. J’s energetic performance and playstyle was the perfect fit in Deadiron, and vocally he adds harmonies to Alex’s lines. J’s background in theatre is also a wonderful asset and makes him an excellent stage manager for the band.
-Thomas P. Walling – Percussion. Tom is as precise as a machine but also is one of the most creative band members. His intricate and varied rhythms are the foundation of Deadiron. Tom Walling is also a major contributor to Deadiron’s writing process and lyrical direction.

How did you get together to form Deadiron? What’s the shady, intriguing band history?
Deadiron began as a side project by Sunny and Alex, while things were winding down with the Brazen Rogues and Sunny was still in medical school. There were a few member changes in the earliest days including one time Deadiron bass player, Clarke Buchanan, who is now a major art designer for the band. Drummer Mark Rheaume was also in the band during those formative years. The core structure of many of the songs on “Out of the Rust and Ruin” were written during that time, though you’d barely recognize some of them. It was nearly four years into Deadiron’s existence that the pair met lead guitarist, Tyler, and the band started really picking up momentum (we also started hugging a lot more after this point). Shortly thereafter, Deadiron went on to record their self-titled EP with producer Dave Piatek. Recording with Dave Piatek was a sometimes uncomfortable learning process for the band, but immensely valuable for development. Alex, Sunny, and Tyler set out to get the most capable roster of professional musicians together to record the full length album. Thomas P. Walling was referred to the band by a mutual friend and became the drummer of Deadiron after merely a brief interview. Bassist J. Bennett came into the fold and Alex set down his bass to become dedicated to vocals and fronting the band. With the final lineup in place, Deadiron went on to compete in the national heavy metal contest, Project Independent, for unsigned artists and won second place in the nation among 360 bands (many of whom had been around much longer, with larger fanbases). Encouraged by the gathering buzz and momentum, the band returned to Dave Piatek to record the full length album, “Out of the Rust and Ruin,” which is to be released March 10th. Deadiron is currently in the process of filming a music video for the album’s first single, “On the Line” which will also be premiered on March 10th.

How long have you been playing (individually and together?)
Though Deadiron was formed in 2007 we consider September of 2010 our official start date, when Tyler joined. Most of us have been playing music at some level all of our lives.

Tell us about the upcoming album – are there any specific songs you particularly want to talk about? What is the inspiration for the title? Is there a theme for the whole album?
The album title, the band name, and much of our musical content on “Out of the Rust and Ruin” was inspired by the post-industrial wasteland that Cleveland, like many cities in the Midwest, has become. Instrumentally, the album blends European melodic death metal, classic New Wave of British Heavy Metal, and American hardcore punk. The first single from the album is a song entitled “On The Line,” which expresses the struggle of the individual to overcome the hardships of the industrial and financial collapse; the daily grind that we all must suffer to survive. “Underdog” is about overcoming the most oppressive odds, something to which all Clevelanders can surely relate. “Under the Midnight Stars,” is a melodic tune of wanderlust and escape. Other noteworthy songs are “Unite,” which is our anthem for social convergence and the defense of our home. “Turk’s Song” outlines a rite of passage for one young soldier and “Revelation” is a lyrical spit-in-the-face to those who betray and lie to their friends and loved ones. Many of the songs on Out of the Rust and Ruin have related but different lyrical themes, and we feel that this gives the album a cohesive quality not found on most debut albums. Ultimately we believe that people and places that are broken are not lost – and the most valuable treasures can be found out of the rust and ruin.

What are some of your favorite show moments? Are there any venues you particularly love playing?
The best show moments are not about us! They are about the synergy that happens when the crowd is feeling your music and for that time, we share the same moment and create something powerful, something greater than ourselves. Hope and elation. All stages are the same. If we’re playing for ten thousand people, or one kid, we play our hearts out. As far as venues are concerned, we’ve developed some great relationships with Peabody’s and Now That’s Class. We also love the Grog Shop and hope to do more shows there in the future.
What are some obstacles you’ve encountered in Cleveland’s music scene? How do you feel about the current state of the scene?
Often the biggest problem that bands and venues both suffer from is a lack of attendance at shows, which hurts the bottom line for everyone. Furthermore, the city’s unjust 8% admission tax on venues and events is another obstacle to making shows accessible to more people. In the struggle to keep turnout high, venues and promoters often insist on a presale system to guarantee turnout, which can frustrate bands. A large portion of the burden is placed on the bands to self-promote, which can take time away from developing the music and live show itself. Fortunately when quality bands support each other and share their fanbase with each other, this makes things easier.

Do you think the music community could use any improvement? How do you think we could form a stronger community? Do you feel other artists are competitive, or cooperative?

We, as musicians, are in a really great place right now; Cleveland’s metal scene is beginning to pull together. Deadiron and our good friends in the Approach and the Execution are organizing a new alliance among metal musicians called Metal United, where musicians can learn from each other as well as guest speakers from national acts. Planning is in the works for Metal United’s first annual festival! The scene is built on quality bands that support each other and we’re excited to bring something to the table. We’d like to see more bands involved in Metal United. Bands that play well with others, in all senses, have a lot to gain by joining us.

As far as fans and supporters are concerned, the best thing you can do to support your community is share your love for music with others and bring your friends to shows to meet others. Supporting local music isn’t tedious or boring – it should be fun!

What activities do you guys enjoy in your free time?
Don’t ask that or you’ll get an honest answer! We all eat, sleep and breathe Deadiron! But seriously, it depends on which guy. We’re all pretty nerdy guys at heart. Common threads are personal fitness and weight lifting, martial arts, and of course music. Hobbies include RPG gaming, video games, painting, writing, and other creative arts. Some of the guys have families and secondary careers as well.

What are your favorite bands, local and non-local?
Our influences include In Flames, Iron Maiden, Blood for Blood, Metallica, Slayer, Megadeth, Opeth, Tyr, Killswitch Engage, Sepultura, Black Sabbath, Type O Negative, At the Gates, Wisdom in Chains, and Ozzy.
Locally, we are really excited about Forged in Flame and The Approach and the Execution.

What do you think the future holds for Deadiron?
We’re planning to tour nationally and promote “Out of the Rust and Ruin” heavily in 2012 while we begin writing our second full length album. We’ve actually written two of the songs from the next album already! There is no limit to where this band can go. We aim to make an impact on people around the world within the next three to four years.

Interview by Samantha Baine


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