Saturday, 30 August 2014

INTERVIEW WITH JOHNNY KETLO FROM OMEGA CROM


This is the interview with Omega Crom vocalist Johnny Ketlo, via Metal Revelation.

You can find the complete review of the album Beyond Control here


Hello guys and thanks in advance for taking the time.

Why did you choose Omega Crom for the band's name?
Hello everyone. That name was chosen because there was about 6 other bands called Crom (lol). After being threatened with a lawsuit from one of the Croms we decided to have a competition in which the winner is awarded a case of beer if they come up with a name that we all like. After many submissions of everything from FleshStorm to Ragnarok we were still undecided, nothing was clicking. Finally, it was a girl named Shawnee who said why don’t you just call the band Omega Crom. Omega being the ‘Final and Eternal’ and Crom being the ‘Slayer of Giants’. When she put it like that there really was no other choice.


The style of the band mixes heavy power metal and thrash, and even death metal; which genre do you enjoy the most?
I enjoy thrash metal the most but these preferences are always changing in the moment. If you go on tour and listen to nothing but metal for weeks sometimes you just want to kick back to a little country or classical music. For me music isn’t about genres it is about how it makes you feel in the moment. Power Metal is so epic and thrash so tough, death is so hard hitting, it is easy to take steps toward incorporating all of these elements and more. Combining them seamlessly and so they compliment each other is a challenge.


The vocal parts are excellent, mixing the clean high pitched operistic technique and the genuine sharp harsh style of the thrash and death metal,
how easy is for you to change that kinds of vocal techniques live on stage?
Thank you. At the beginning it was much more difficult but as the experience roles in and the technique is practiced over and over it becomes smoother. One actually gives you a break from the other. Of course a person should be careful not to step on the vocal chords too hard while doing these things and let the mic do the work for you. Studio and live are definitely two different animals but I don’t even notice the live transition anymore. It is more about how you feel in your heart when you do it. It is exciting to get to that thrashy death vocal part and you get to step into the different shoes. When I was a child I would pretend to be max Cavelera or go to bed and listen to Queen or Halford and pretend that it was me singing. So again it comes back to being in the moment, knowing what you feel and being able to make the audience feel that too.


Your first album was released under Reversed Records but this album is made independently, 
Even though the production sounds good, How do you value the process of recording the album?

Actually both albums were made independently, we only went with that label on the first one because we were told it would be in our best interests. Later on shit got sour with that so it was time to get away from the bullshit, as we are literally beyond control of bullshit haha. Anyway yes, we value the process greatly, almost reverently. Like anything the vibes must be good in the jam space, in the studio, in the production room. We had to do some major house cleaning to get back to that place where it is all about making music and memories with your friends and fans and we did that. It was a grat feeling. I would listen to Dio everyday on the way to the studio to get into state. When Dio sings about something that shit is real for you, you believe it, when he says ‘shame on the night’ it’s like, fuck yeah shame on the night man, I don’t know what that means but I am living it. In the studio there was laughter, there was creation, and sharing and helping, it was a beautiful experience with Stu McKillop and Curtis Buckoll. They helped make the album that I had in my mind, like passing a mental kidney stone, and they helped us enjoy the process immensly. Syl on bass and Colin on drums and Celine on guest vox was so amazing, solid and supportive professional people all around. Friends would come in and hang with us which was not allowed on the previous record so straight up the vibes were amazing and it all contributed to the overall tone of the album.


How long did it take to finish Beyond Control?
I had been writing the songs for years, kicking around in my head. It was frustrating because it was like telling people hey man I have a cool song idea but you can’t show them what is in your mind. The music was tracked over a period of five weeks. Somethings were done the night before like the intro solo to Land of Never Was I wrote the night before I tracked. Somethings were done on the spot like the vocals to the chorus of Power Soul I came up with on the spot when previously nothing else had worked. After the tracking it took a while to coordinate artwork and such things but the tracking was an amazing experience, The art was done by a friend named Warren who made miniature models and then photographed them, so what you see is actually a 3d photo of some miniature models. Warren is good and works as a tattoo artist out of Kelowna BC. He has done work on movies such as Underworld making real life looking werewolves for epic creature effects  in which they had to chop the things face in half and stuff like that. He makes it look so gross and real. Celine is also a great graphic designer and put in a lot of time making the layout work. Having Syl and Colin by my side as the rock steady rhythm section was also a major contribution. These guys are seasoned pros from the same school of rock and metal as myself. They cool in all situations and totally pro. Overall it took a couple of years to create, maybe more, maybe less depending on how you look at it. For me it has been a long time in the coming.


What did you enjoy the most when recording the album?

Playing a Gibson Les Paul custom through an Eddie Van Halen 5150 rig. The tone was stellar.

The main theme of the band is about Conan the Barbarian, is there a possibility that the theme could change in the future?
Hmm, that is half true. That is definitely the theme in some trax in others not so much so yea I would say that that could change or become even more the case depending on which way the wind blows that day. For instance, When I was a kid I read a lot of  Savage Sword of Conan comics and was right into Robert E Howard Conan novels. In one comic Conan is running from a group of soldiers and to escape them he must cross a border into a haunted land where they would not follow. While running through the mists and the night he encounters a pack of werewolves lead by a majestic she wolf who is taken by his primal nature and he becomes a wolf and runs with her in the night. At the end of the story he has to make a choice between staying with the pack or going back to the land of men. I believe the title of the story was Blood Red Moon. After all these years though I am not sure but I told myself at that time I was going to write a song one day with that title. 

Land of Never Was definitely, is a great metaphor for insanity and wrestling with the ups and down of the roller coaster ride which is life. So many people come and gone through the years, you love em all in their own special way and sometimes the drama is a bit much to have to handle.

Chaos Theory to me a philosophical piece. Also dealing with some deep metaphorical issues and ideas that everyone has to experience and can most likely relate to easily. All in a poetic form so it is better in a way to leave the meaning general and open. So that it means something more deep and personal to each individual that hears it and can identify with in some way. I wouldn’t dare say too much or espouse on what it means to me too deeply as to not ruin it for others who may take it differently, so that it is more personal to them in the end.

Power Soul, the name says it all. I was toying with ideas of what to call the song. I was standing in line at the movies to go see a flick called Avatar and the name just came to me. Later as I watched the movie I realised it was kind of about an essence of life a kin to the soul of the earth which as we all know is far beyond any control, and that’s the way it should be.

So at the end of the day we could go more Conan or less depending 



Which bands are the main influences of the band?
AC/DC, old Metallica, Megadeth, Pantera, Sepultura, Slayer, Priest, Maiden, Bach, Beethoven, Augustin Barrios, Ozzy, G,n,R, Edguy, Blind Guardian, Skid Row, Dio, Cacaphony, Vinnie Moore, Impelliterri, Jason Becker, and more recently Manowar.


Is Omega Crom preparing a national tour?

We are however money is a huge factor and it is hard for us to get overseas because of that, right now we are focusing on getting the music out through the web.

How is the international heavy metal scene reacting to your new album so far?
So far there has been nothing but positive feedback. For which we are very happy and thankful


Canada is bringing lots of true metal bands, how do you feel when bands like Skull Fist or Striker are becoming big names
in the international heavy metal scene?
I am stoked. Canada has a lot of amazing bands and it is great to see.


Are you preparing an upcoming video clip of any of the tracks in the new album?
We have some plans in the works. As I said money is an obstacle for us but we are stubborn and we will make it happen sooner or later come hell or high water


Celine made a great job on the vocals in Beyond Control, how do you value this collaboration?
 
I value this very highly. She was my roommate and taught me so much about singing. I was going through a terrible phase in my life and when I moved in with her, I would wake up every morning to her doing the dishes and singing Priest or Blind Guardian, and that healed my heart. We would always sing to each other and she was a natural with an amazing ear and would always coach me through the rough patches. When we were tracking she was hanging out and I was like get in the booth and do this and she would and it made it sooo awesome. I was always blown away by female male metal vox like Phantom Opera Ghost off of Iced Earths Horror Show and such things so it was a beautiful opportunity to have something like that of our own, especially with such a great friend and musician as Celine is.


Any European Tour in the future? which bands would you like to play with on your tour?
Europe Tour is a lifelong dream for us and we take steps toward that all the time. What bands are on my wish list. I’d say see the previous list about our influences. However, there are some local friends bands from Canada that we absolutely love to tour with and I will name the two I hold in super high regard. The Order of Chaos and West of Hell. But yes of course we would love to tour with Some huge kick ass bands of our heroes as well haha.



Which is your favourite country for a concert?
So far I can only imagine, us being the poor ass country boys that we are we are living in a small fishbowl and have only toured on this continent. I would like to tour Europe, Mexico, Brazil, Japan. No favourites really because I just don’t know yet. 


How was the last tour of the band? Tell me how do you remember your favourite concert?
The last tour was awesome, so many friends , fans and great memories.

 My favourite concert had to be Pantera reinventing the steel tour. There was so much energy and when they played I’ll cast a Shadow the entire floor of Pacific Coliseum became a mosh pit. It was incredible.



Special moments over this twelve years of Omega crom?
Opening for Stratovarius in Vancouver. Playing with ZimmersHole when we first started out in 2002 as young punks. Having the privilege of sharing the stage with Stu Block and being a small part of that story. That guy sacrificed so much and worked his ass off for everything he has achieved. When we were starting out we had tix to Iced Earth and the show got cancelled. Now he is in Iced Earth. Small world. My true blue friends like Colin, Syl, and Celine. Everyone that has come through the OC camp. Very thankful for all of these things. And much, much more to come in the future. 


The sound of this new album is much better than your previews jobs, after four years of your first full length, do you think
this is the right moment to start releasing material more often, like every one or two years per album?
Yes I think that would be great. It has always been the goal. Keeping this band moving forward has been very hard and it is getting easier now after 12 years of slugging it out in the trenches, broken bruised and bloody, but we always rise again and make progress happen kicking and screaming.

The feeling is really epic and even more with themes about Conan the Barbarian, what feelings do you like your fans
to feel when they listen to this album?

The same feeling you had when you saw your first drum or guitar solo. The same feeling you got when you first heard Master of Puppets or Metal Militia. Highs and lows. Epic and humble. A rollercoaster ride where you get to stand on the brink and feel in your heart what the composer felt in that moment when it was created.


To finalise, could you send a message to your fans?
Sure. Hey fans, you guys fucking rock and we love each and everyone of you whether the hot groupie or totally insane headbanger. Thanks for the support and we will see you out there someday as we break free from these chains and keep on flying together into the metal dream


Thank you so much again for your time and also thanks to Metal Revelation for making possible this interview!
You are welcome and thank you very much. Cheers!