Interview with Earl Maneein from Resolution15; Playing Bowery Ballroom tonight (3/16) @resolution15
New York City 4-piece Resolution15 play thrash inspired hardcore metal with a violin… THAT is frickin’ awesome! Seriously… Check THIS SHIT out! If you like metal and can’t get into that, I don’t know if there’s any hope for you, but I digress…
With a million aspiring bands doing everything they can to stand out in a vastly overpopulated market, Resolution15 just blew the doors off of imitators by innovating in the best possible way. Their sound is crushing, their attack is monstrous, and by giving the audience something new and exciting to watch from the floor, I really hope these guys are welcomed onto the mainstream metal circuit with open arms. So down!
I got in touch with Earl Maneein prior to their 3/16 performance at Bowery Ballroom in NYC to talk about their unique approach to metal, how they’ve been received by the metal community thus far, and what they’ve got planned for this year of our lord, 2013.
G- Hi there and thank you very much for taking the time to speak with Live High Five! If you could, please introduce the members in the group… Who is everyone, what do they play, and where does everyone come from?
EM- Hey! Thanks for interviewing us! So there’s me on seven string electric violin, Kenny Grohowski on drums, Nick Serr on vocals, and Mike Bendy on bass. Nick, Mike, and I are from New York, I’m from Queens, Nick is from Carle Place, and Mike’s from Brooklyn. Kenny comes from sexy, sexy, sexy Miami. I think he should play shows all in messianic white with a big oscillating fan blowing behind him, while covering a tune like “Si Tu Supieras” or some shit but he always strikes down the idea.
G- How long has Resolution15 been a project and when did you first get started? Do you remember the moment that you really felt the group “click?”
EM- I started the band in 2007, right after I got out of graduate school. I knew Kenny from various freelance gigs in the city, and we both were on tour together with a crossover classical group and bonded over our shared love of Metal. I was already experimenting with proto-Res15 songs with my violin and computer, stuff that’ll never see the light of day, because it’s me attempting to do the vocal duties. But I showed the tunes to Kenny, and he agreed to join. We found Nick shortly after through a mutual friend, and that was another piece of the puzzle. There were two other guys that Kenny and I knew in the freelance scene that aren’t playing in the band anymore, but everything basically clicked that very first rehearsal we had. We knew we had something going on right from there.
G- Now, you’ve replaced guitars with violins, which is fucking awesome, and still maintain a sound that is as crushing as anything a typical axe-man would use. Can you tell us about your set up and how you’re able make this work?
EM- Sure! My violin is a custom 7-string made by John Jordan who is based out in Northern California. The pickup is a StringAmp made by Michael Edinger in Holland. My tuning is actually standard violin tuning (in fifths), from highest to lowest E-A-D-G-C-F-Bb. I use a CodaBow Joule, which is a slightly different design of bow from a standard classical bow and is designed to draw better notes From there, I use a Dunlop Wah, a Boss Digital Delay, a Empress Parametric EQ, and a Pigtronix Keymaster to A/B/Y my two rigs, which are a Mesa Boogie Dual Rectifier through Warwick 4×15 and 1×10 bass cabs and a Framus Cobra through a VHT guitar cab.
G- You are currently supporting of your latest release, SVAHA. Is this your debut performance of the new material? If not, how has the reception been to the new songs, and have you noticed any fan favorites off of the record?
EM- We had our debut performance of the new material at Webster Hall at the very end of last year and it was fucking amazing. It was really a great mix of all sorts of different people, which is what we love. I have to admit that I laughed pretty hard when I saw the pit erupt with all the hardcore kids swinging for the fences (and picking up ALL the change) while the people who are clearly classical or jazz musicians hastily stepped out of the circle looking more than a little frightened. I really enjoy the fact that we seem to be attracting all kinds of people to our shows. Our attitude is inclusive, not exclusive. Everyone is welcome. We all had a great time, and it seemed our fans did too. The favorites seem to be “The Current”, “Overdriven Maxim Mvt. 2”, and “Yama”. At least, that’s what people keep yelling at us.
G- Additionally, SVAHA was crowd-funded via Kickstarter… How was your experience using crowd-funding to make your album, and how awesome was it when you finally reached your goal?
EM- To be honest, I was nervous nearing the end, when we were still a few thousand dollars short. The whole thing is really dramatic and exciting, but I definitely lost a few lives sweating it out. The Kickstarter thing is really interesting, in that we saw it as a brutally honest assessment of where we stood as a band. Like, if we actually couldn’t raise the $10,000, then our thought was we should seriously think about throwing in the towel, because clearly not enough people give a shit about what we’re doing, and we’d basically be pissing into the wind. However, we totally made our goal and even came in at a little extra, which we took as a nice confirmation of the things we’re doing. The promo video we shot for the Kickstarter was probably the most important thing we did, as it helped strangers understand why they should care about what we do.
G- To get back to the jams, tell us a bit about what is your writing process like, and who in the band typically comes up new music? Do you have a primary songwriter, or do you write music more organically through jamming during rehearsals?
EM- Kenny and I are the primary songwriters, and Nick contributes lyrically to about a little more than half of the songs. The process usually starts with Kenny or I writing things out in either Finale or Logic using standard Western notation, since everyone in the band can read (although over the course of this band, I had to become really adept at reading bass clef on the extended violin, which I wasn’t so fast at before, because a standard violin uses treble clef primarily, and even though I’m trained fairly extensively on the piano as well and can identify notes rather quickly, there was a learning curve in terms of where things lay on the 7 string.) The songs are almost finished by the time it leaves the hard drive of the primary writer, with the other members simply learning the parts. Very occasionally there’s collaboration between us (Yama, for example is a product of myself, Kenny, and our ex-violinist Joel) but usually one person writes. I think it’s more of a lifestyle situation that prevents us from collaborating more often. I have a wife and kid at home, as well as a day job being a classical musician, and the other guys have similar double lives. We barely have time to learn the tunes as is, so typically “jamming” doesn’t really happen because we’re on deadlines for other things.
G- What should your fans, both old and new, expect of the performances when you guys hit the road? What should some of the first time listeners expect to see when you take the stage?
EM- We’re gonna blow your fucking mind. We’re gonna tear this motherfucker down. That’s all I can really say.
G- Do you have a favorite song you have ever written? If you could only give 1 song to someone who’d never heard of you before, to try and make a new fan, what song would you give them and why?
EM- Well, the band has gone through some stylistic changes, and we’ve grown so much over the years we’ve been doing this, but one song has managed to make it through the cut every time we’ve found ourselves sidelining old songs to fit in the new ones that we write. That song is “The Insurgency”, which appeared on our first self-titled, and we still play for most shows we do. I think it’s a succinct (ok, maybe not so succinct since it’s 8 minutes long but anyway) statement of who we are as a band, and you can get a pretty good idea about how we feel about things by listening to that one song.
G- Are there any bands or artists that you hope to share a bill with in the future? If you could put together your dream lineup to tour with, what 3 artists would you like to share the stage with and why?
EM- Gojira. Lamb of God. Suicidal Tendencies. Metallica. Meshuggah. Cro Mags. Agnostic Front. Madball. Deftones.The Empire Shall Fall. The Cure. There are so many, I can’t really think of them all. But that was just off the top of my head. If I were to try to put together a dream lineup, I think I would actually want three seemingly very different artists to tour together, artists that had shared commonality that wasn’t immediately obvious. I’d like to put on a show with maybe us, The Hilliard Ensemble, and Steel Pulse. And then see if we could do collaborative stuff that involved members of all three groups. I think that would be amazing, but seeing as I’ve never met anyone from either of those two groups and don’t know what they’re like, I can’t say with certainty that we would all create amazing stuff. But I’d hope that we would.
G- What is the craziest or most memorable show that you have played to date? Where was it and what was it like?
EM- Resolution15 shows are always really fucking exciting, but they’ve so far been “normal” as far as things you tell your grandkids or something. However, years ago, before I started Resolution15, I played this club called “The Gothic Bar” in Staten Island when I was in a jam band. (Don’t ask.) Really fucking weird. As soon as we got there and started unloading our equipment, some dude crawls into our trailer and sits down. We tried to get him out, and he just kept on shouting “EL DIABLO!!!! EL DIABLO!!!! EL DIABLO!!!!” at us over and over. Finally we get him out of our trailer (not too gently, unfortunately) and load in. The bar is this (I guess obviously) gothic styled bar trying its hardest to look like a medieval castle except with TVs all around the place showing random weird hardcore porn and violence and the bartender goes, “You guys are early, the college crowd doesn’t come in here until 3AM.” We’re looking around and trying to figure out where exactly there was a college anywhere within the vicinity of that bar, because all we saw in the immediately surrounding area was industrial wasteland. Anyway, this completely frightening looking witch that vaguely resembled a human female comes up to our drummer and goes “OOOH, I WANT SUMMA DIS!!!” and goes right for the jewels. After being gently ignored/refused by him, she just screamed over and over, “HE MUS BE GAY! HE DON’ WAN’ DIS, HE MUS BE GAY!!!!!” while touching herself as if no one else was in the room. Or maybe she was trying to reenact what was playing on the TVs. Anyway, we started our set around midnight. Believe it or not, at 3AM, the bar fills up. I don’t understand how or what happened, but all of a sudden the bar was packed. They definitely didn’t look like college kids, but we felt it was better to not ask too many questions. Anyway, at around 3:30, the cops come in, and bust the whole place. They let us leave though, after checking our ID, but we were real glad to be out of there.
G- Lastly, what advice can you give some of the young, up and coming bands everywhere who want to make it in music, on the road, and as a professional musician?
EM- You know, when I told my violin teacher that I was going to college to major in violin performance, he laughed in my face and said “What are you, stupid?” It’s not easy, and if you want to be a musician because you think it beats having a day job, I’d be just like my teacher. I’d laugh in your face and say, “Do yourself a favor, and go get a day job. You’ll make more money, and you can have your spare time to do your hobbies.” This is really something a person does when they’re driven to do it, and can’t do anything else. And I would say, really figure out why you’re doing what you’re doing. I think some people try for “success” without really asking themselves what that means.
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