On August 24th, the New Jersey progressive metal outfit Etherius’ new instrumental EP Thread of Life will arrive (pre-order here). The group was formed back in 2017 by guitarist Jay Tarantino after his experience as a touring rhythm guitarist for Angel Vivaldi. The group also consists of members Zaki Ali (drums), Chris Targia (bass) and John Kiernan (second guitarist). Etherius has a unique instrumental style that unites progressive, neoclassical and classic thrash elements together to form such emotional melodies. We recently spoke to Tarantino about the project, the new EP, plans for the future and more. Read the discussion below:
What inspired you to form Etherius?
Having spent the last 9+ years playing in Angel Vivaldi’s live band, traveling all over the world and doing tours with people that I admire, I finally decided it was time for me to step out on my own and see what I could do as a bandleader. Angel is one of the hardest working guys I’ve ever worked with and that work ethic rubbed off on me in a huge way. I had a lot of song ideas and riffs. I felt that Etherius should be the next logical step in my career.
For those who are unfamiliar, can you explain a little bit about the project?
Sure. After coming home from the “Operation Domination” tour with Angel Vivaldi and Gus G. in the Fall of 2016, my original intention was to release a solo album with my name on it. I started writing songs soon after. Our drummer, Zaki, and I bumped into each other at the NAMM show in January of 2017 and the talk of working on a project together came up. Zaki and I have known each other from the NJ metal scene for years and we always respected each other’s musical ability. When the other guys came on board, I realized that it needed to be a band because everyone had such great riffs that they brought in. The music for “Thread of Life” was all written by me, but everyone helped out with the arranging of the music.
Overall, has your experience with Angel Vivaldi influenced you to expand your musical endeavours?
Definitely. Being able to competently play Angel’s music has been one of the most challenging things I’ve ever had to do as a guitar player. It’s made me a better songwriter as well. Touring with him showed me that there is an audience for instrumental music. He’s always encouraged me to push myself and to start my own project.
There are a lot of elements in the EP Thread of Life, you hear progressive, neoclassical, to some thrash elements and there’s very little criticism to say about it. Do you think this has anything to do with your choice of writing the album – IE together in a studio vs. back/forth email and dropbox exchanges?
“Thread of Life” was already written when I put the band together. But we rehearsed the songs a lot and worked on the arrangements as a group. The elements you’re referring to have more to do with the varied influences that inspire me personally. I don’t want our music to appeal to only other guitar players or musicians. I want people who know nothing about music to find something in Etherius that catches their attention.
What made you decide on being an instrumental band?
It’s hard to find amazing vocalists that not only can sing, but have the personality to mesh well in a band. I like the challenge to trying to use the guitar to express the kinds of emotions that vocal melodies and lyrics convey.
What was the experience like creating the music video for “The Inevitable End?”
It was great! The video was directed by Eric DiCarlo of Squareup Studios. Eric has great vision and professionalism. That made the whole process quite easy. We spent about 5 hours on it. It was mostly just trying to get camera shots from every possible angle as well as capture us headbanging and moving to the music. I’m real happy with the final result.
Where do you see Etherius say five years from now?
I have big plans for Etherius. We’re already writing the next album. I eventually want to tour the world. I want us to be a force in the instrumental guitar genre. I’m an ambitious guy, so it’s going to be a lot of work. But I’m ready for the challenge.
Do you have any future touring plans you can reveal to us?
No touring plans at the moment. Our main goal right now is to build up our audience so that there is a demand for us to tour. When the time is right, it will happen.
If you could, what type of film would you like to see your music in?
I would love to see our music used in a “300” or “Gladiator” type of movie. Any movie with epic battle scenes would be perfect for Etherius.