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A conversation with Witherfall’s Joseph Michael & Jake Dreyer on wine, food, new album update, and more wine

Posted by on May 20, 2020

 

Witherfall have officially sold out of their Tempest Red Blend Wine. However, it’s still not too late to pre-order for next year’s batch, which is already set for a May 17th, 2021 arrival. For those who received the bottle or just curious to know the process that went into this, we caught up with vocalist Joseph Michael and guitarist Jake Dreyer as they shared what food would pair well with the red blend wine, what caused the shipment delay, and revealed when we will (hopefully) see a new Witherfall album.  

 

When did you guys decide on having a signature wine?

Joseph: We were approached a few times by some smaller breweries about having our own beer and though it made sense, from a business perspective, we’re just not big beer guys, so Jake and I talked about finding a winery to do some sort of Witherfall product and I just happened to be at this place, Charlie & Echo, near San Diego at the heavy metal swap meet. The heavy metal swap meet takes place in a parking lot outside of this place and I got drunk with the owner and I liked his wine. He told me a little bit about it, that it’s all organic, no additive, it’s all him and his little laboratory in the back, creating different blends and whatnot and I just hit them up. I was like, “Well, we’ve been looking for a winery that do a signature. Would you be interested? We’d help out with prep and we’d design the labels and all that.” He sent me a couple of samples and at least I think Jake and I were drinking the samples while we were working on the last song for this new record, but anyway we said yes, we love the wine, and here we are. We now have our own signature Tempus red blend.

 

What food do you guys recommend that would pair well with the Tempest Red Blend?

Jake: Oh man, you shouldn’t have asked that question. We’ll be here all night. We happen to be huge foodies, so with this one, so this is a blend actually, so this would probably go pretty well with definitely a nice rare steak, pretty simple. You wouldn’t want to have anything on top of it. Maybe a nice red wine sauce or something like that would probably go well with it, but I tend to like my steaks just pretty bare bone, so definitely a steak with it would be my first choice or some sort of, just something kind of meaty with it. Even probably, actually, with trying the wine, a nice salmon too, something kind of smoky.

Joseph: Yeah, we had some cheeses when we had that thing. We had some goat cheese and some five year aged Gouda that went really well with it.

Jake: Yeah, you want some of that crystallization in there would be really nice with it, and actually one of my favorite cheeses of all time is called a Drunken Goat, which is a goat cheese that’s been aged in a red wine barrel. This is a metal zine, right, not food?

 

 

Ha.  I have more metal questions coming in, don’t worry.

Jake: Oh, no. I was like, yeah, we could go on food all day.

 

So cheese for the vegetarians and steak for the meat eaters and nothing for the vegans. Got it.

Jake: The vegans. Yeah, just drink the whole thing and you’ll be fine. Drink the whole thing, get drunk, and then have a piece of salmon.

Joseph: That’s a different Century Media band.

Jake: You happen to be vegan? Are you vegan?

 

I’m a vegetarian.

Jake: You’re vegetarian? Oh, well the cheese would go good with it. Some hummus too. We definitely enjoy hummus with it.

Joseph: Yeah. Sure.

With Charlie & Echo, I feel that they’ve been on top of things, especially with the new shipping delay.

Joseph: Oh, yes.

 

Did they inform you about it?

Joseph: Yeah. Well, it’s not really his fault. It’s actually the company that makes the labels is in Ohio and they had some issues servicing, so I actually have to get the labels from them on the 1st and make sure everything is good and then I’m going to drive over there and we’re going to actually hand label and number each bottle of wine before it goes out.

 

That sounds tiring, but awesome.

Joseph: That’s what we do.

Jake: Ha. That’s what it takes to get done.

 

 

Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, a lot of release dates in music has been pushed back and I was curious, because I know all three of your projects Witherfall, Sanctuary, Iced Earth have been working on new music, has there been any delays on all three?

Jake: Well with Witherfall, we actually just wrapped up drum tracking on the beginning of this month of April and Joseph and I were supposed to fly out to Indiana to do master tracking on our parts and Anthony Crawford, our bassist was going to join us out there as well, but of course due to the current state of the world, flights got canceled. Everything had to be pushed back, so we are currently still on track though. We will have the record delivered to the label in time for a November release for the Witherfall record, that is unless something… everything’s kind of up in the air. It’s just the new normal as they were saying. But at this current time that is the plan, we haven’t been pushed back yet, so far for Witherfall. As for Iced Earth, I can’t speak for that project. That stuff’s still being written and everything like that. That’s for Jon (Schaffer), but for Witherfall we are still on track to have a record out by November. Our goal is to have a record every year. We want to try to bring back that old seventies approach.

 

Any updates for Sanctuary?

Joseph: Yeah, we were still writing and it’s a little bit harder to get together because of this whole thing in Seattle. It’s kind of at the epicenter for a minute and, yeah, so it’s put a wet towel over some of our ambitions, but we’re still chugging along. I mean we quarantined ourselves, Jake and I, in the studio in LA for a week working on drum parts for the new record so we’re still getting work done.

 

And this is probably a tricky question, so there’s been a lot of predictions and guesses as to when tours, concerts and festivals are going to happen again, and I know you guys have ProgPower in September. It’s still being promoted as happening but, I was curious, do you guys have a plan B in case things get postponed?

Jake: Well, that’s, again, that’s not really up to us at all as far as if it goes on and if it doesn’t, they just canceled, from what I saw today, Eric Garcetti, the mayor of LA, has canceled everything up until 2021 for any sort of concerts, but you know, Motley Crue and Guns N’ Roses are still playing, apparently . So we’ll see about that. It’s really up to that. I just saw something about this Facebook Live thing people are doing, I don’t know. That stuff, if I want to see a show that’s on my screen, it just kills the whole vibe of a live music show. I guess it’s cool that bands are getting and doing it, but I recently saw today, I think, Facebook’s trying to like do something where people are having to pay for that and I’d rather see Metallica in Moscow ‘91 for free on YouTube than do something like that. It just totally kills this whole thing, so the idea of shows, you just can’t make that digital, and I wouldn’t even want it to be digital. That just seems blasphemous to me.

Joseph: Yeah. It’s like you’re going to this nice restaurant, and you know it’s going to be awhile before you get there, and then you sit there and eat fucking corn curls or some stupid shit and ruin your appetite. Just wait.

Jake: Yeah, I agree. When this does finally get over I think, and not to say appetite and after what you were just talking about, but I think that the hunger is going to be there for live shows and it’s going to be really cool because I noticed too that there, after being on tour and seeing some shows, sometimes you’d go to venues and certain areas and you’d see on a roster, or something like that, that there were three or four metal shows at this place and so everybody’s kind of worn out by that. It used to be kind of cool when you would be able to go to a show and when a metal band played there maybe once a month so you’d have all the excitement. People weren’t so saturated by it. I think it could be kind of a cool blessing when this finally does blow all over and they find a vaccine, or whatever they want to do with to try to open up this stuff, that there’s going to be people who are going to be rabid for it and we’re going to probably see some cool energy in the crowd from this, because people have just been hunkered down and they’re going to want to get out there and experience that again. At least that’s what I’m hoping for. Hopefully it’s not going to be like, “Oh, I love live shows now from my couch,” and then we’re all fucked.

Joseph: Right. And they don’t sound good. I think you’re honestly degrading your brand doing these things.

Jake: I agree. Yeah.

 

I think people are experimenting since a lot of money has been lost. My next question was going to be about livestream concerts, web series, and live Q and A’s. Would you guys consider doing live podcasts in the future if this pandemic continues?

Joseph: Yeah. Unrelated to metal? Sure. Yeah. I’d talk about things.

Jake: Yeah, like a food podcast would be great.

Joseph: Yeah. Our wine could sponsor it, see. It would be perfect.

Jake: Yeah, it’d maybe just be us hammered by the end of it repeating the same shit over and over again, but if people want to tune in for that, by all means.

 

Speaking of new normals, what do you think the industry is going to look like once this pandemic ends?

Jake: I, yeah, I know concerts will come back because you just can’t get that feeling back again. From just going to a live show, having that excitement buildup and everything, that’s going to be there. Now, festivals, I think that we’re going to see a lot of festivals go under. That’s my prediction. Not the big ones. Not Wacken, not Hellfest. I know they were canceled, not Download. Those are the mega festivals, but some of those twenty-thousand, thirty-thousand festivals that you find a lot over in Europe for sure, those might be struggling during this time because there’s a lot of that stuff too, advances are paid beforehand, bands are paid way before the summer even starts because they have to get all the flights booked, all of the crew rehearsals, all that stuff, and so there’s already an upfront cost and so that’s lost when they cancel these things. So I would say on the live aspect, we might see a lot less festivals.

 

It’s a realistic viewpoint. 

Jake: Yeah. I mean, as far as labels go, I’m not sure if it’s going to really affect record sales. Some people are without money, so that could. I just saw one band that got on the billboard chart and with a lot less record sales than they had on their previous record, and that’s kind of common nowadays, but they were pretty far up there. I don’t know how that’s going to work, if a lot of labels are going to be able to survive through it, I just know that everybody’s hurting and we also work with a lot of session guys.

Joseph: Yeah.

Jake: So, guys that are out…we work with a lot of jazz musicians that, basically, their bread and butter is going out and playing these shows weekly and you can’t go out there and do anything. So these guys are really hurting because they rely 100% on live music, recording and with the way the laws are now that those guys are in deep shit, pretty much.

Joseph: Yeah, as if musicians weren’t already…

Jake: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Joseph: … economically stressed.

 

To put things on a positive note, is there anything else that you guys want to say or add about the wine or the things to look forward to?

Jake: If you’re not feeling so positive, drink more of our wine, and you might feel positive.

Joseph: Yeah, it’s hard to tell people positive stuff when maybe their fucking relative just passed away in a hospital somewhere.

Jake: We’re not really positive people for that.

Joseph: Nope.

Jake: We’re not.

 

What about some hopeful Witherfall plans?

Jake: Hopefully a new record in November, otherwise I’m going to be way more on that train of not being positive.

Joseph: Yeah.

Jake: So we could look forward to that. Of course, the red wine’s out there. There’s three other pieces of material we have. We have Nocturnes and Requiems that came out in 2017, A Prelude to Sorrow in ’18, Vintage in ’19, and then hopefully this new record in 2020, so that’s all we can kind of say. And then hopefully ProgPower goes on. 

Joseph: We have another next April.

Jake: Yeah, that’s right, in Canada. So, yeah, but at the moment, it’s not even just this industry too. Going back to more to food stuff, restaurants. I’m a huge restaurant fan so I’m constantly reading blogs on that and they’re doing the same thing. It’s day by day waking up and wondering if they’re… And a restaurant’s more of that totally is a day by day business on what you’re making, so everyone’s in the same boat. So listen to more music and drink red wine, Tempest Red Blend by Witherfall. Please buy our product.

 

I bought two bottles.

Jake: Oh, you did?

 

I did.

Jake: Oh, thank you.

 

You’re welcome.

Oh, you’re amazing. Thank you so much.

 

 

Thank you guys and try to stay positive, drink more wine. I’m looking forward to the new album, hopefully I will get to listen to it in November.

Jake: Thank you. Thank you so much.

Joseph: Thank you.

 

 

Witherfall recently participated in Metal Insider’s Home Quarantine feature, and you can check out their responses here

 

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