Adōn Fanion is a virtuoso. The Arizona based vocalist, guitarist, and violinist has spent the last few years writing and performing groundbreaking music with his band, Ghost Ship Octavius (featuring former God Forbid and Nevermore members). Having started with the band at the tender age of 17, Fanion was instrumental in shaping the sound of Ghost Ship Octavius’ self-titled debut album in 2015, a sound that put the band on its own path, splintering the progressive genre in a new direction. In the wake of the band’s 2018 release, Delirium, Fanion took some time to talk with us about the record, touring plans, and life on the road.
Tell us about the origin of Ghost Ship Octavius.
The band started about maybe 5 and a half years ago. Originally with Chris Amott, Van Williams, and Matt Wicklund. I joined after the three of them were already doing their thing. Essentially the three of them put together the band under the name Armageddon. The Name Ghost Ship Octavius came after deciding that it was going to go in a different direction, and after doing a lot of research. It is based off of the legend of the Octavius which tried to find a passage through the Barents sea. The ship was lost for 13 years and found with everyone on board frozen in place and perfectly preserved. So we decided to use that as the name and the imagery. Chris Amott left the band and the three of us continued to write music.
What influences have come into play with writing of Delirium?
We all listened to a lot of music that is very out there. We have different musical tastes. I’ve been digging, in the last few years, a lot of Leprous, they are really cool. A lot of progressive music in general. I can’t speak as much for the other guys but, we really pull influences from all over the place. We kind of put them together into the melting pot.
What are the differences between the debut and Delirium?
I would say, as opposed to the first album, this album we went a little bit more outside the box. And we had a little bit more competence in what it’s going to be, what it’s going to sound like as far as developing our sound. I feel like for most bands the sound starts to happen, starts to solidify, more second album more so even the third album. I’m confident by the third album we’ll probably have found our sound to some degree. We definitely found it more on this album for sure.
You are carving your own groove in metal that is new and is exciting for a lot of people.
I hope so, I hope it’s exciting for them.
Did you find any challenges making Delirium as the follow up to your groundbreaking first effort?
Definitely challenges. One, the album was over a year late, which we didn’t anticipate or want. Nonetheless things kind of happen that way sometimes. It was challenging recording things in different places again. Van recorded all the drums in his home in his basement. So that was one of them for sure. I was challenged in that I was working a lot at the time too, and because of the delays that happened in recording, things didn’t line up when I took time off verses when I went back to having, at the time, a career position which drained me of my time. So I got really strict about managing time, and managing those things. But at the same time, it was a lot more fun. Even though it was more challenging, I thought it was more fun from a creative stand point. For instance, getting to venture into more progressive territory on some of the songs. This one song that is in an odd time signature, there are some sections that are a little more outside the box. I got to play violin on the record which was fun, I got to play bass on the record which was also fun. And I had a lot more control over the vocal recording too. There were a lot of vocals that I recorded myself, and layered everything on myself, and just did it all myself because of the delays that were happening at the time. So it was more challenging but in a way those challenges led to more liberties in some sense.
You spoke about recording the record from different places does that go for the writing process as well?
Yes, a lot of the songs were from different times, different places. Matt started some of them, I started some of them. Matt contributed some tracks for the record from Bulgaria when he was there. I contributed some from Seattle, and of course Van is contributing from New York. So really from all over the place, but we brought everything together and made it work. We tried to talk about it with each other as much as possible to figure out what works and what doesn’t work.
On the first album you had guest appearances, including Jeff Loomis (Nevermore, Arch Enemy, Conquering Dystopia), Per Nilsson (Scar Symmetry), Mattias “IA” Eklundh (Freak Kitchen, Freak Guitar), Rusty Cooley (Outworld, Day of Reckoning), and Chris Caffery (Savatage, Trans-Siberian Orchestra). You did not have any guest appearances on Delirium, who would you have as a guest either live or in the studio, if you had your pick of anybody living or dead?
Yeah, the first record we had a lot of guests, but this one we didn’t have any. We didn’t have any guests on Delirium because we wanted to keep it just ourselves, just do it ourselves. I think what I would love to have as a guest solo is a really good string player. Someone like an Itzhak Perlman, someone who could really captivate you with their violin playing and really work that into the arrangements. I played violin on some parts and I’m just learning and figuring things out. It’s a really difficult instrument, so to have someone of that caliber appear on a record and contribute to some of the arrangement would probably really make certain sections come to life. I think that would be awesome.
Any touring plans?
Tour plans are still in the works, hopefully we will have more info for you soon. The lineup is literally just the three of us.
For touring who may join Ghost Ship Octavius onstage on bass and keys?
The last time we toured we had Charlie Honig play with us which was great. He held down all the bass parts, he’s a really good, all around, bandmate to have. A really reliable and trustworthy guy, a really good musician and player too. So he could hold his own, but also help hold the band together when we need it. So I think he would probably be our first choice if we were to go hit the road again. Unless it was overseas. If it were overseas we might have to see if we know anyone overseas. But I can’t say for sure.
Tell us about your lyrical influences.
I read a lot, and I read different things. Sometimes fiction, mostly non fiction. When I do read fiction, I really prefer old school like Hp Lovecraft. Sort of cryptic horror stuff. I like Edgar Allen Poe. I like reading things that are a little bit more Verbose, I suppose. Some of that tends to show. I don’t ever lift lyrics or try to lift lyrics directly from other singers or lyricists. I think most of where the writing comes from is probably directly a result of what’s been read and what I’ve absorbed through reading. Aside from fiction, it’s a lot of non fiction scientific literature, research journals and things like that.
Are you a fan of film. And if so, what is your favorite genre and film?
I would say horror.
I have to say in terms of directing what stands out to me at this time. I like to rewatch is The Revenant. Entirely From a directing standpoint it’s really captivating. I also enjoy pretty much every film that Guillermo del Toro is involved in, either producing or directing. I think his approach is really creative and interesting.
So when you are on the road, how do you like to stay in shape through the rigors of touring?
Generally when I get into a town I’ll try to find a place to run before a show, a short run, like a half an hour or something. Maybe do some push ups, I use exercise bands. I try to avoid the most shittiest thing at the gas station, If it’s a choice between the donut and a bag of chips, I guess I’ll take the bag of chips. But nonetheless that stuff does catch up, it’s inevitable right? You can only eat gas station food for so long and then the corndogs, they start to become you. The hardest part is really sleep, and that’s the one I really haven’t figured out yet, because our last tour we really didn’t have a comfortable situation for sleep. In my case I stayed up for many, many days in a row, to a point where I got pretty delirious and I started seeing things. I started twitching a lot. I developed some kind of tremors that took probably two to three months to go away. I think that was entirely from the sleep deprivation, so thats the biggest thing. So I try to do all of those things and keep in shape that way as much as I can physically.