At the beginning of last year, Metal Insider spotlighted a band called Ancients for our “Unsigned & Streamed” column. We like the band’s brand of heavy, aggressive music. We weren’t the only ones. Later that year, the band signed with Season of Mist, changed their name by adding an extra “i,” and released their debut album, Heart of Oak. Having never played the United States before, they suddenly found themselves on the road with the Death to All tour and opening for the likes of Lamb of God. While their tour with Sepultura wound up being canceled at the eleventh hour, that gave vocalist Kenny Cook and guitarist Chris Dyck an opportunity to chat with us about what’s happened in the past two years.
What made you decide to ultimately go with Season Of Mist?
Chris Dyck: It’s one of my favorite labels. A very artistic label, a very wide spectrum of artists from black metal and death metal. They keep it real creative and they keep it kind of dark, and I really like that. I remember buying CDs from Season Of Mist when they first started out, and [I was] like, ‘Season Of Mist, that sounds cool to me.’ And they really liked the record and they gave us an offer in a timely fashion. There were another couple of labels that were interested, and they did not do that, and on the recommendation of a lot of people we had talked to, they said it was a good label for us. And we also didn’t want to be the baby band on a massive label. We just felt it was a good fit for us and it seemed really fair and like I said, timely. Getting a deal that quick meant a lot, like they were actually interested.
So you gave them the record, and it was already done and ready to be released, right?
CD: Yeah we had it recorded. We recorded it, actually, in February of 2012 and we were holding on to it for a while, so everything except for the mastering was finished. I think we dealt with the artwork and stuff once we signed the deal with them, but we pretty much gave them a finished product.
So that made it probably a little easier for anyone that was going to sign you?
CD: Yeah it wasn’t like they’d listen to our *[back catalog]* and were like, “Oh, well maybe they’d make a good record.” They were like, “Oh, this band has no *[back catalog]*, this record’s good. Let’s put it out.” I guess they saw some potential in us obviously, or something. I sent it to [Season of Mist owner, Berberian] Michael via Facebook, and he was like “hey, this is really good, it’s maybe not quite what we’re looking for,” but then our manager sent it to another guy, Gordon, at the Season Of Mist office in Philly, here, and it was right up his alley. So those two talked, and between our lawyer and our manager, they both agreed that it was the move for us to make, and we’re sure glad we did it too, because they treat us really good.
So the album is almost two years old at this point in time. How far are you along in making new material and when would the next record potentially come out?
Kenny Cook: Well we have a full song that’s pretty much almost completed, it’s like a ten to twelve minute song. We have a whole bunch of ideas. But we’ve been really busy since the record came out this year, just touring and personal things. We haven’t had a chance to get together and start arranging all of our ideas. But we have a lot of new material that’s ready to be worked out and arranged. And we’re doing the Europe thing in the spring, going over for Roadburn, and potentially we’re looking at doing a cross-Canada tour of some sort. Either headline or not, we’re not quite sure yet. But, I know we definitely want to start working on the new record by no later than the end of next summer and hopefully have it released around the same time. Probably, I would speculate around 2015, early.
CD: Yeah, we’re not done. I mean, we could be done touring for this record, but the collective agreement between everybody involved in our band is that we still think that we have a bit more touring to do for this record. We’ve got the momentum now, and it’s time to hit the gas pedal and keep it going. It only came out in April, so the fact that we recorded it quite a ways before it came out is irrelevant. Because when it came out, when everybody else heard it, it’s only been like six months or something. So we still have at least another tour to do in the States and Canada and then Europe before we think about booking any studio time. [Then when we] get back, we’re going to have a few months of downtime where nobody’s got a heck of a lot of stuff going on, so we’re going to get a chance to get into the rehearsal space and write some stuff.
That being said, how’s the band changed musically since you recorded the first album?
Kenny: I don’t think we’ve really changed at all. Our overall concept behind what we do is just writing music that gets us stoked and something that we’re personally happy with. We always adopt new things that we like to listen to, and that could probably come out in our music at some times, but it’s just overall, just playing the same kind of thing and incorporating as much as is possible to do and still be tasteful. I don’t think much will change, it’ll kind of be the same vibe.
Chris: I think we know what we’re up to now. We kind of know what we’re capable of. So the only thing I see changing is maybe the heavy parts or the fast parts might be heavier, they might be faster because we’re capable of that. And the more mellow, beautiful parts might be more so because we know what the vibe of our band is now and we know what we’re capable of as a group of people. I don’t think it’s going to be too drastic of a change, but we’ll definitely try and keep it new, otherwise what are we doing here?
You’ve done a lot of touring since you signed with Season Of Mist. Had you done much U.S. touring before?
CD: None at all. We were in a band, me and Boon and Kenny were in a band together, Spread Eagle, for the better part of the 2000’s, and we just did some Western Canada stuff. It wasn’t like “touring” touring. So no, Death To All was our first tour as Anciients, and it was basically our first legit, real tour period, individually as well. So the fact that we, for this record, toured Death To All, Lamb Of God, and now Tesseract, Scale The Summit, and we were potentially supposed to do Sepultura, it’s pretty nuts you know?
Absolutely. Are there any major differences between Canadian crowds and American ones?
KC: It’s hard to say different cities are different. I don’t know we get a lot of good feedback from Canada because we’re from there but everyone seems to be digging it for the most part, ya know, people seem to be quite similar from my point of view.
CD: I think the difference is partly like in the states we have to win over crowds that don’t necessarily know who we are. In Canada it’s a smaller community, people know who we are and they’re there to see us. And we sell a lot more merchandise also in Canada. People have been waiting for us to come back, like we did a bunch of western Canada stuff before the record came out, but since the record’s come out, we haven’t done a heck of a lot so when we just went to Calgary and Edmonton on this Scale the Summit/Tesseract thing, we cleaned up on merch because people hadn’t been able to get our stuff, and we hadn’t been through town.
Since the album was released, you’ve played on tours that just about any band would kill to be on.
KC: We thought it’d be the other way around, we thought we’d be starting out opening for bands just slightly above our level, and making no money and playing for 30 people. But even the Death to All shows being on a crappy show, there were 300 people there and on a good one there were 1000. On the Lamb of God, it was, the scale of it was insane. There were nights there was close to 3000 people and a crappy show was maybe 1500.
Was it intimidating or did you have any kind of problems adjusting to playing in front of crowds like that?
KC: The Death to All tour was a little bit surreal for us for the first, I’d say, week or so. It was our first time being out and playing with such a huge name. We were all a touch nervous, but it was definitely a good learning experience on the death tour. We kinda, ya know got thrown to the sharks.
CD: Our old band in Vancouver, we were kind of the top party rock, kind of Motorhead-y punk band from town, we got to play with a lot of bigger bands that would tour through, so playing in front of people wasn’t new to us, but, but playing to a U.S. crowd at the LA house of blues while Michael, the owner of our label, was there from France and just happened to be in town and had come to see us, ya know – Chuck Billy from Testament’s in the audience? Yeah, it was a little stressful for the first couple. But now that we’ve done the Lamb of God tour, it doesn’t matter if it’s 20 people or 20,000.