I first found out about SCYTHIA when the new album …Of Conquest showed up in my inbox. My initial reaction was “Uhhh…ok. Who is this?” But as I read about the music I knew I had to hear it. And after loving the album I knew I had to interview someone from this outstanding band. This Canadian four-piece is poised to invade our shores very soon. So, without further ado, here is my interview with singer/guitarist David Khan:
Amps: Tell me about SCYTHIA the band and …Of Conquest. When Natalie at Adrenaline PR sent it to me and I fired it up, I was blown away!
David: (Laughs) that was our intention. This is our fourth release, third full-length and as you can see we’re not like your typical metal band. And we like to just take things in a bombastic direction and run with it. We’re fun-loving people who just love to have a good time and our creative minds enjoy fantasy so why not run with it in an unabashed way? And the best way to do that is add some orchestration and make things interesting. Now that was all fine and dandy but I don’t think it came across all that well, especially when songs were slow to build up to heavy parts. This album we said, “Let’s keep all that but deliver it in a package that’s non-stop high-energy metal” A lot of bands have tried this and been successful with it. One that comes to mind is BLIND GUARDIAN. It’s a very European sound and we took a lot of influences from that combined with American Metal. We’re all huge fans of DREAM THEATER and SYMPHONY X as well as classic metal bands from L.A. that we grew up on. SAVATAGE is a huge one for me; old school metal with elements of symphonic metal. This album was the result of us playing with our influences.
Amps: The buzz on you guys is growing by the day, by the hour. How does it feel?
David: It feels great. It’s a real eye-opener, that’s for sure. And the growing buzz is due in no small part to the fine people over at Adrenaline PR. We spent 2013 really honing in on the best content we could come up with: writing, music videos, imagery, artwork, all that stuff. We’ve really been trying to get high quality because you know what? The big guys do it, and I think we know the right people that can make this happen. So let’s just ACT like the big guys even if we’re not on a huge label. And that attitude combined with this killer PR team, that’s the way to build your band up. The interesting thing about being taken on by them was basically Maria saying, “Ok. I’ll check out your band and if I like it we can work together.” It really had a personal touch, not a million questions about what we’ve done in the past or our EPK. “What do you sound like and what direction are you heading?”
Amps: Tell me about what goes into SCYTHIA writing and recordings?
David: Well, that’s a good question. We always start with a concept. We’re not just writing riffs and seeing where it’s going. Because we all grew up on vintage metal, and I remember as a kid it was all about the journey of the album. METALLICA’S …And Justice for All album; I remember how it flowed when I first heard it at eleven years old. Or BLACK SABBATH Paranoid. Listen to that record, it has all the peaks and valleys and instrumentals with a beautiful flow to it. And we decided to do that only with a central theme or concept, this one being an Age of Discovery-era journey into the unknown. Once we had that developed we started writing songs, and each one for us has to have a particular mood, flavor, or theme about it. As you can tell there’s a lot of different emotions. People hear “Bear Claw Tavern” and they think we’re a party band but that song was capturing the mood of a tavern before heading away to sea. And “Into the Storm” is one we tried to make as chaotic as possible, like waves pounding the sides of a ship.
Amps: It’s so great to hear you say that because I think the sequencing of a record is SO important! “Path Through the Labyrinth” is my favorite but you have to go through the other cool songs to get there, you know?
David: Yeah, well of course you have to have the huge long epic. That’s the climax of the record, there. That encompasses it all. We really tried to avoid having it be your typical epic by having that classic rock riff towards the end and then exiting with an acoustic outro. Then “Departure” is one last kick of metal before going home.
Amps: What is the SCYTHIA experience live, for the uninitiated?
David: Live is usually where we really excel. And the problem in the past is the records never did justice to what we sound like live. Live we’re in battle armor and face paint. I probably have a little less energy but I still put it out there, singing, playing guitar, jumping around and trying to keep the crowd engaged. Our live performances are generally very high-energy. We have a very nice merch display with all kinds of cool stuff like mugs and drinking horns and fantasy type of trinkets. We try to create our world inside the venue and nowadays we seem to be succeeding more than not in getting people involved and making them have a good time.
Amps: With that in mind, when can we expect a U.S. run with a stop here in Texas?
David: Texas, wow. I really want to come down there this spring when we’re on the west coast but unfortunately there are a few reasons why we aren’t heading further east. This is our first time coming to the States. We want to play it safe and really start to build up a fan base first. We know bands that have never played the U.S. before and they go on this huge tour and it’s just not well-attended because no one knows who they are. So we want to start with these cities on the west coast, let them get to know SCYTHIA, and then come back on a much more extensive tour that goes around the country. Ultimately the U.S. market is a very important one. Canada doesn’t have enough fans to really build and sustain a band since it’s one tenth the size of you guys. And I’m sure there are some well-intentioned metalheads here in Canada, it’s just we don’t have enough people to really build a band’s career.
Amps: Here in Texas we are rabid! And we’ll take good care of you guys.
David: You know, it’s that personal touch that we really love. People message us all the time asking, “How can we hang out? How can we get to know each other?” And usually they’re in some other country and it’s not possible just yet but that’s the next step. We look forward to getting down to Texas, meeting you, shaking your hand and rockin’ out!
Amps: Obviously this is good drinking music, but it’s got a story and keeps us engaged. How did we come upon this formula?
David: I think there are two things in play here: One is that there’s a huge history of east coast Canadian songs of that type that are really close to the old Celtic songs and they always tell a story about going away or going sailing and usually drinking’s involved. The other is having written a lot of songs, now when we go to write one it’s really easy to work with the different parts. There’s always obstacles when coming up with songs, so to tie in something like storytelling in your standard song structure, that just came with experience.
Amps: What would like to say to all your SCYTHIA fans out there?
David: I just want to say keep rocking our tracks and make sure you guys check out our back catalog. Please don’t hesitate to contact us on Facebook, at our e-mail addresses and we’ll do our best to get in touch with you and come play in your home city and meet you.
David Khan is one cool dude. Be sure to check out SCYTHIA’S new album …Of Conquest because it’s available everywhere as I write this. You have no excuses, but you DO have your orders. So go!!