IDOL THRONE Interview

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IDOL THRONE have recently released an album that has made a great impression in metal community, even greater than their debut ''The Sibylline Age''. The sophomore album is called ''A Clarion Call'' and it is destined to establish their name as an emerging and dynamic power in the worlwide heavy metal scene.  Forgotten Scroll feels great pleasure to welcome Jason Schultz, who is one of the two IDOL THRONE's guitarists and an excellent songwriter.

Greetings and welcome to Forgotten Scroll. First of all, congratulations on your sophomore magnificent album ‘’A Clarion Call’’. I ‘d like to wish you all the best. Would you like to introduce the line-up of the band for our readers? Did you have any line-up changes so far?

Thanks for the kind words about our album! We are all extremely proud of how the record came out, and we are extremely happy with how it has been received by the worldwide metal community. The band consists of me, Jason Schultz, on lead and rhythm guitar and backing vocals, Martin Bowman on lead and rhythm guitar, keyboards, and backing vocals, Jake Quintanilla on lead vocals, and Aaron Grove on drums and percussion. Our long-time friend Kyle Ludovice recently joined the band on bass guitar after our previous bassist Trevor Kuta, who played on “A Clarion Call”, left earlier this year. We have had a few bassists in the band at this point, but the rest of the lineup as remained stable since the formation of the band in 2018.

You are a new name, but you’ve made quite an impression with your two albums so far. People describe you, as an excellent blend of Bay Area Thrash Metal and Power Metal. Do you agree? What is the style of heavy metal you are playing and which bands you consider as influences?

Martin and I formed the band around those styles, and our desire to write melodic and heavy guitar driven music. We also both have roots in, and take influence from, progressive metal and neoclassical shred guitar, and we wanted to incorporate elements of that sound into the overall style of the band. We felt like on “A Clarion Call” we were able to move closer to the ultimate sound that we want to achieve for the band, where all those various elements are in a good proportion and keep the music dynamic and interesting to play and listen to. A few huge influences on us include Symphony X, Heathen, Fates Warning, Angra, Forbidden, and 90’s Dream Theater just to name a few.

What was the procedure you followed regarding your intricate songwriting? Do you write all the members together, with each one offering music ideas or is there a main composer?

Typically, Martin and I will generate ideas and then get together and work on developing an arrangement of the song before we bring it to the rest of the guys. Occasionally, Martin will bring in a complete song, or I will bring in a complete song, but most Idol Throne songs are a collaboration between the two of us. We then move to a fine-tuning phase with Aaron and Jake to develop drum feels and vocal patterns etc. Recently, Jake has started contributing music, which is cool to see, and we welcome everyone’s ideas, and it gives us a wealth of material to choose from and keeps things diverse and fresh.

Who writes the lyrics and with what subjects do you like to deal with lyrically?

Our singer Jake, Martin, and I all write lyrics for the band. Usually, we try to divvy up songs equally to not put that burden on one member, as that can be difficult when the onus is on one person to write 8 to 10 sets of lyrics. We also collaborate from time to time on the same song, a good example being the title track on our last record “The Sibylline Age” where each of us wrote a section as part of a longer concept, and “System Simulacrum” from the new record where Jake and I wrote the lyrics together. Song concepts tend to be fictional and tell stories from horror inflected tales to sci fi, battles, you name it! We are huge fans of storytelling in music, and concepts in general so we have a lot of fun coming up with song titles and ideas for what to write about.

Can you elaborate a little bit on the songs? What are they about and what are the themes on each one?

The song “Ecliptykon” is written to be from another perspective of the apocalyptic event that transpired in the song “The Sibylline Age” from the album of the same name. It is a character witnessing the fall of man and the Earth basically coming apart at the seams. There are a few lyrical and musical call backs that were fun and intentional for fans who look for that sort of thing. “Covenant of the Immortal” is about a character trapped in a manor under a witch’s curse, and his attempt to break the spell. “King Among Jackals” is the tale of a banished king coming to reclaim his throne from a usurper. “Petrified” presents a character who is haunted by dreams and visions that leave him unable to function normally and drive him mad.

Side B starts with “The Last Voyage”, which retells the folly of the search for El Dorado and the idea of a “city of gold” that drove many travelers and explorers to ruin or worse. The title track “A Clarion Call” is about the feeling of wanderlust, and the need and drive some have to constantly be in motion searching for “something” out there. “System Simulacrum” is about a protagonist realizing that he is in a computer simulation, and then subsequently working to undermine and crash the system. It is the 2nd part in a “horror trilogy” that we are working on, with “Raven’s Blade” from our first album the 2nd part. Finally. “Falconer’s Cry” is an instrumental, but thematically that song is supposed to be the soundtrack to a character trying to find his way home in a vicious snowstorm.

‘’A Clarion Call’’ is showing an expansion and growth in your sound, in comparison to your debut album. Two years’ time is not such a long period of time, but the development is obvious. How did you achieve this accomplishment?

We had a period of intense writing and creativity in early 2022 while we were waiting for the final mixes of “The Sibylline Age” to come back. Martin and I wrote quite a few songs in that 2–3-month period and several of them found their way onto what would become “A Clarion Call”. I think the growth came from several factors, with a big one being the comfort level that we had working together at that point, and knowing each other’s strengths etc. Another element that helped us to grow between records was really doing some soul searching and proclaiming to ourselves that we are going to write what we want to write, without worrying too much about fitting into a sound or genre within the metal hierarchy. Once we collectively committed to that mindset, the creative well seems to know no bounds, and we look forward to more ambitious material and sounds to come.

The cover artwork of ‘’ A Clarion Call’’ is really beautiful and distinct. Mark Erskine is a very talented and prolific artist. Why did you choose him and this specific artwork? Do you think that artwork is important?

Absolutely, and we put a lot of thought and effort into the development of the art and presentation of the album. We worked with Mark previously on “The Sibylline Age”, and we felt that his work and how he developed our concept was just a perfect representation of that record and what we were trying to achieve. We knew that we wanted to do something more vibrant that would stand out in its own way, and really be a strong embedment of the sound of the record and Mark once again delivered! Artwork to us is just as important to the overall vision of the release as the music is, and we hold it in the same regard. In that sense, Mark has been a great collaborator and has helped us achieve that part of our vision.

Some bands have used AI (Artificial Intelligence) images for artwork. What are your thoughts on the matter?

I believe that there are many talented flesh and blood artists out there who are eager to collaborate and who will do great work for a reasonable price. One only needs to go Instagram or any of the other various social media sites to find great artists with unique styles, and for this reason I cannot get behind using AI for album artwork. It just seems lazy to me, and the collaborative aspect of working  with a great visual artist is very rewarding for me in its own right. that’s before even factoring in ethical issues with how AI databases uses and source artist’s intellectual property. As long as Idol Throne, and I, continue to create music, we will always employ flesh and blood artists for our covers.

There are many new bands and so many new releases. Do you think that is a good thing to happen or maybe it’s too much for the metal fans? How difficult is for a new band to stand out and become known?

There is a ton of variety in the scene now, and in a way it has made the world smaller while also making it bigger in a sense. With that said, it is a bit of a double-edged sword because although it is easier than ever to put music out and to potentially find fans and an audience around the world, the density of releases makes it harder for individual releases to get much of a chance in a very crowded market. It really isn’t feasible to do this type of music as a career, so those of us who play it really love it and are in it for the music 100 percent.

What is the feedback you are getting about the band and the new album so far? Are you satisfied?

So far the feedback to the record has been extremely positive, and it seems like fans and music writers alike are onboard with some of the stylistic choices and changes that we have made. We are very proud and satisfied of the record, and we are ready to take the lessons that we learned through its production with us onto the next project, which will see us go in even more directions yet. So far we have been able to maintain our core sound while expanding what we do in interesting ways, and this challenge will keep us hungry within that creative space we occupy.

US Metal was and still is absolutely cherished by many metal fans worldwide. Do you thing that US Metal is strong today? Is it getting any stronger as time goes by?

I think so. There are many regional styles and sounds in the US, and it seems like more and more Euro style festivals popping up around the country. There are also many older bands that were around when it all started, and who are still out there playing so it is inspiring to have the opportunity to play with our heroes when they come through, or to travel to play a cool fest, etc. I think metal has always been around and always remains strong in the underground, but I do feel that we are in a period of increasing interaction with the mainstream, and hopefully that visibility and sense of activity is here to stay.

Many bands find it difficult or struggle a lot, in order to combine everyday jobs or member schedules in order to perform live in different areas or cities. Have you performed many live shows in the last 2 years or done some touring to promote the band? How easy or difficult is that nowadays?

We all have day jobs in Idol Throne, and those day jobs help to support band activities because we don’t have to stress about monetizing the band, and instead can focus on the music. With that said, it does limit our live activities in the sense that we can’t go out on the road for a month at a time, but we would work to make a smaller scale tour or a one-off festival appearance work. We also have traveled extensively within about 5 hours drive of where we are from in the US, which allows us to hit many cities in the Midwest US, which has also helped to grow our bubble. It is all a part of it though, and as stated previously it would be impossible to survive only on the band’s earnings alone, so we do our best to be smart about scheduling shows and taking the best opportunities that we can.

What are your plans for the future?

We have several shows coming up starting in August that will take us around the Midwest US, and then we are hitting the studio to work on a smaller release, an EP or split, that we are looking to hopefully release next year. Beyond that we will try to hit the studio sometime in late 2025 to start working on the 3rd record as we have about 75 percent of the next album written at this point. We hope to get the opportunity to play some festivals in the US or abroad, and we welcome any opportunities that come our way!

Would you like to send a message to the Hellenic (Greek) metal fans, who now get to know you?

Thanks to everyone for the continued support of the band and for checking out our new record “A Clarion Call”! Please find us on social media and keep up with us, and we are just getting started and intend to be busy the next few years! We hope to have the opportunity to play for you soon!

Thank you for your time and your kindness answering to all the questions. I really appreciate it. All the best!!

Thank you for the opportunity and all the best!

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Check our review on ”A Clarion Call” here.