Los Angeles dark progressive metallers Witherfall have released their new EP Vintage on March 22nd via Century Media Records (order here). Earlier this year, the group had their first US performance, which was held at the Regent Theater in Los Angeles during Ensiferum and Septicflesh’s North American trek. To celebrate the band’s upcoming European tour with Sonata Arctica, the band have teamed up with us here at Metal Insider to share exclusive video footage, “Sessions of Sorrow Episode 8,” taken from their LA performance.
Watch the clip below:
We recently spoke to vocalist Joseph Michael and guitarist Jake Dreyer on their new EP, Tom Petty, wine, biopics, plans for this year, and more.
As much as I enjoyed the new EP, Vintage, especially that it focuses around my personal favorite song from Prelude to Sorrow, can you explain why you released this not too long after the full-length album?
Joseph: We had just been confirmed for Sonata Arctica and the Acoustic Adventures tour, so our head rep over at Century Media, Phillip, thought it would be a cool idea to have an acoustic EP that we could promote alongside that tour.
Jake: There were a few songs that we had done on Nocturnes and Requiems and Prelude to Sorrow, and once we got the tour they thought it would be a really good idea to re-record a couple songs in a different setting, and just release it as another product.
I did enjoy the cover songs of both Tom Petty (“I Won’t Back Down”) and especially the Helloween cover (“A Tale That Wasn’t Right”) that one was pretty much epic. Joe’s vocals blew me away, as always. Can you explain your decision behind covering these two songs?
Joseph: Well we didn’t think about it too much.
Jake: Yeah, we did the Tom Petty one, Joseph and I were working on pre-production for the song “Shadows” on Prelude, and it was one night after a lot of bottles of wine, of course and…
Jake: We were always messing around with “I Won’t Back Down,” just kind of the original arrangement that Petty did and we are huge Tom Petty fans, they’re like lets make this minor and kinda flip the harmonic arrangement a little, just making it sad as we could make it.
Joseph: Yeah we’re big Type O Negative fans and we always loved how they would take a darker, more ambient spin on it, like classic songs, that was kind of act in it. As far as the Helloween song, it was almost like a dare from our drummer at the time (Steve Bolognese?), he was like do you think we can do it? You can pull it off? Yeah, let’s do it! Let’s make the keyboards even more epic too and make it bigger and more modern.
How did you guys react when Tom Petty passed away?
Joseph: Jake, you were at his last show?
Jake: Yeah. I was lucky enough that I went to his last show at the Hollywood Bowl out here in Hollywood. I saw the last performance of his and I’m a huge Tom Petty fan. I used to listen to that when I was a kid, if you grew up in America you would hear Tom Petty all the time so it kind of follows you around. But I was more just shocked because I literally saw his last show.
That must have been an unforgettable moment to at least see his final show.
Jake: It was, yeah.
Do you guys have any plans touring in the states?
Jake: Yeah we are looking at stuff right now for the Fall. We’ve been talking with a certain agency and we’re just looking at right now about options we can do for a Fall or Winter tour.
Joseph: We just signed with new management so we’re trying to get a new team in place. Especially for the U.S, we haven’t really done too much here.
Gotcha. Yeah, I know you guys barely tour in the States but you’ve went to Japan, so it’s…
Jake: Yeah, it’s funny.
Joseph: Yeah, it’s not like we’re trying to avoid the States either. It’s just that we’ve got to take the right opportunity, making the right chess moves.
Jake: The one show we played, with Ensiferum, was pretty cool.
Jake: In LA, probably our only US show, I think.
That was from January, I believe.
Now between Iced Earth and now, Sanctuary, how do you guys balance your time between all projects?
Joseph: It’s pretty much, with those bands stuff is booked out. I know stuff is booked out years in advance. It’s pretty much a good nine months where stuff gets booked out. So you just kind of work around it not like (Jon) Schaffer of Lenny (Rutledge) are calling us up saying ‘hey, we’re gonna play the local bar this Friday, what are you doing?’ So all that stuff is planned out so far ahead of time you just gotta kinda work around it.
More so, keeping things organized?
Joseph: Absolutely. For musicians that’s rare but you know Jake and I aren’t your normal musicians.
Jake: My organization skills of my house though definitely need some…
Jake: Some help.
And this question is going to sound a little it funny, I’m not sure if you guys remember, but you had a blow up doll appear at your show during 70000TONS OF METAL last year, and I wanted to ask if you could share a funny or wacky story that you’ve experienced while on the road?
Joseph: Wacky? *laughs* the stories we can share from in the road.
From blow up dolls, to whatever else you see while performing? *laughs*
Joseph: Oh Man I’m trying to think of some funny stuff that happened on the last run.
Jake: I mean Jesus, I don’t know if it’s funny but on that 70K show we did spread our drummer’s (Adam Sagan) ashes. I don’t think we mentioned that doll was actually looking on as we spread Adam’s ashes.
Jake: Funny? Didn’t we have a mosh pit at the acoustic show?
Joseph: Yeah there was something like that.
Jake: It was weird, on this acoustic tour that we just got off, you’re so used to looking out and people would be standing, you’re used to that for an acoustic show-
Joseph: Almost, I’d say a good 75% of the shows were seated on the tour. It’s wild, we were playing some really cool venues too. There was one in Italy that really sticks out, a real concert hall. But we did see some moshing. We were like, ‘the hell’s going on here?’ Majority of the stuff that’s funny happens off the stage ’cause you’re just sitting around for 23 hours and 15 minutes with nothing else to do.
Jake: Yeah. A lot of it makes it onto our unorthodox music videos or promo videos
Joseph: I mean Jake likes to do puppetry, that’s all I’m going to say. *laughs* You can take that however you want.
From sex dolls to puppets, that’s interesting.
Jake: They go hand in hand too.
Joseph: Yeah, literally.
How is it booking a show in Japan compared to the United States?
Jake: Well, we don’t know. Hah
Joseph: Yeah that was with… that was York that booked that.
Jake: Then we had Mia who was this tour manager we had… It’s just way difficult because of the language barrier, of course. We had Mia who speaks Japanese and she was able to get across what we wanted in a polite way, it’s a big thing over there. And able to do it in a way that helps us out. It made stuff come a lot quicker, but had we not have her it probably would have been a nightmare.
Joseph: We also had Sony music pick us up so they had a bunch of interpreters as well for like press and things like that.
Jake: Yeah that stuff was easy, that was good. But it’s just a language barrier,a little bit of a cultural barrier too but you just gotta know that going in.
Joseph: Did you say cultural burial? *laughs* Is that a Freudian slip?
For fun, what’s you take on biopics such as Mötley Crüe’s The Dirt, Bohemian Rhapsody to Lords of Chaos?
Joseph: I’ve seen two out of three of those. Seen Lords of Chaos and I’ve seen the Queen movie. I saw the Queen movie when I was alone, drunk on Thanksgiving. I’ve seen it twice actually. It wasn’t bad I liked it. Lords of Chaos… it was entertaining. But I haven’t seen the third yet, we need to check that one out. I mean, they’re entertaining. I love Queen so… if I just hear Queen’s music, I’m happy.
Got ya, I honestly thought you guys wouldn’t have seen Lords of Chaos as I expected to you to watch The Dirt.
Joseph: Yeah, actually they did a Premiere out here in LA, and a friend of mine had asked if I wanted to go to it and… so I just went and checked it out, and I don’t know how much of that changed from that premiere but *laughs* it was actually interesting, we actually almost went down to the… all the black metal guys are gonna fucking slay me right now, because I don’t remember the name of the record store.
Joseph: And we were hanging out in Norway for a couple days before we kicked off the last tour, we were trying to make our way down to that record store because I guess you can actually go to it, it’s almost like now an amusement park.
Jake: The real reason why they’d be pissed off at us is because we were going to create a meme and have our bass player (Anthony Crawford) stand in front of the door and have it say ‘True black metal’
Joseph: Actually, he wants to get a shirt that says that, wear it on stage.
He should do that.
Joseph: He should, Anthony’s the man. I need to check out The Dirt though, I hear mixed reviews on it
Jake: It was good, I saw it.
Joseph: Oh, you saw it?
It was good, would have been better as a series but, it was pretty good.
Jake: Yeah possibly, yeah
You guys seem to be huge wine drinkers, you also had a limited edition on Red Wine Vinyl edition. I was curious, what wine do you drink, and have you considered making a Witherfall branded wine?
Jake: We would love to do that.
Joseph: Yeah, That’d be cool. But we have other merch we gotta do at the moment.
Jake: We were selling some signed wine bottles from wine we drank during, A Prelude to Sorrow three month excursion.
Joseph: But what type of wine, we’re usually red wine drinkers, so like Pinot Noir…
Jake: We like the old world stuff though, too.
Joseph: Like Sandy Bass Grapes, you know. Things like that.
Joseph: Definitely old world.
Jake: I like California new world, though. I like the California wineries, If it’s done right, you know.
Joseph: Yeah, no additives. We’re snobs. *laughs*
Jake: Also if you’re on tour, any wine is good wine *laughs* Whatever they’ve got backstage, we’ll take.
So, just the dry nasty house wine, whatever will do?
Jake: *laughs* yeah.
Joseph: Usually there’s 50 fucking beer bottles, Jake has to go over and trade them all for red wine.
Jake: Yeah. I gotta barter.
Joseph: It’s gonna make it into a song.
Is there anything else you guys want to say, or add? Or any plans that’s coming up this year that fans should expect?
Joseph: Yeah actually we just found out that Bruno Valverde, the drummer from Angra is going to be playing Keep It True Fest with us in Germany.
Jake: Yeah, we’re gonna be doing that. That should be cool and keep a lookout for the fall of 2019. That’s the next tour right there. A trip, the U.S. tour.
I hope to see you guys. Try to get a show out in New York.
Jake: Oh yeah we’ll definitely be out there.
Joseph: We’ll be in New York with Sanctuary coming up in July, if you wanna come out.
I will definitely keep that in mind.
Witherfall Tour Dates w/ Sonata Arctica
05/13 Oslo, Norway @ Parkteatret
05/14 Stockholm, Sweden @ Södra Teatern
05/15 Malmo, Sweden @ Palladium
05/16 Hamburg, Germany @ Fabrik
05/17 Eindhoven, Netherlands @ Effenaar
05/19 London, United Kingdom @ Islington Assembly Hall
05/20 Haarlem, Netherlands @ Patronaat
05/21 Aschaffenburg, Germany @ Colos-Saal
05/22 Paris, France @ Le Trabendo
05/23 Lyon, France @ Ninkasi Kao
05/24 Mailand, Italy @ Teatro Dal Verme
05/26 Pratteln, Switzerland @ Z7
05/27 Nurnberg, Germany @ Hirsch
05/28 Prag, Czech Republic @ Roxy
05/29 Stuttgart, Germany @ Im Wizemann (Club)
05/30 Bochum, Germany @ Christuskirche
04/26-27 – Baden-Wurttemberg, Germany – ‘Electric set’ @ Keep It True XXII
w/ Candlemass, Satan, Agent Steel, Midnight & many others
Additionally, this summer, Joseph Michael will be touring with Sanctuary for a North American Tour as the group will play 1988’s debut Refuge Denied in full. Check out the dates below: