Less than two years since their formation BLACK CROWN INITIATE are one of the most talked about bands in metal right now. There’s a reason for that. Anyone who’s heard their independently released Song of the Crippled Bull EP or saw them live this year on The Metal Alliance Tour like I did knows exactly why. The band can play a crushing style of death metal with surgical precision. The Wreckage of Stars, their full-length debut for eOne Music will be available everywhere on September 30, and I had a chance to interview Guitarist/clean vocalist/lyricist Andy Thomas about everything BCI has been up to. Take a look:
Amps: With members from Pennsylvania and Delaware, how did BLACK CROWN INITIATE come to form?
Andy: It was a long process. Rik (Stelzpflug, guitar) and I played in bands about ten years ago. Nick (Nick Shaw, bass) and I have played together since after I stopped playing with Rik. James (Dorton, vocals) played in a band with me and Nick. Then, Nick and I joined a band with James and Jesse (Beahler, drums). After I quit that band, they replaced me with Rik. Nick and I started BLACK CROWN INITIATE and soon after James and Jesse joined. Logically, we scouted Rik, as he is the most musically compatible guitarist I’ve ever played with. We have the same preferences and songwriting styles.
Amps: BCI has a very unique and distinct sound. When do you think everything clicked, you guys looked at each other and realized you had found “it”, your sound?
Andy: Our “sound” is something that I hope will continue to evolve for years to come. What we have found is a band full of dedicated and competent individuals that can always be trusted to do their jobs, and that has liberated us in many ways, including allowing us freedom to expand in any way we wish.
Andy: We honestly did not. The core writers of this band are me, Rik, and Nick. Between us, we never run out of ideas and we don’t have egos when it comes to writing. We all trust each other and believe in each other immensely. Because of that, we let the album flow and it was incredibly fun to write.
Amps: With that in mind, what is the writing process like for BCI?
Andy: Rik, Nick, and I get in a room and start discussing and illustrating our individual ideas. From there, it runs through the process of development between the three of us. We then present the compositions to Jesse and he adds his drums, which always make the songs even better than we thought they would be. I handle the lyrics, and then we are set to rehearse and record.
Amps: I caught you live on Metal Alliance here in Dallas, and I have to say I was stopped dead in my tracks by how great you guys play live. Are you seeing similar crowd reactions everywhere now?
Andy: We definitely observe a solid, dedicated fan base growing, and it makes us so happy. We love the fact that our music has an effect on the lives of listeners. It is an emotionally powerful thing to look out and see people singing your words, for example.
Amps: A lot has happened for this band in a relatively short amount of time. Have you stopped at all and just tried to wrap your head around everything going on?
Andy: We honestly haven’t had time, at least I haven’t. Right now is the time to keep plugging away and building. I do believe that when I have the time to reflect, I’ll probably be incredibly happy and grateful.
Amps: What are the tour plans after this run with RIVERS OF NIHIL? I hope you’ll come back to Dallas and see us soon!
Andy: We are home for about ten days, then we go out on a short run with UNEARTH, DARKEST HOUR, CARNIFEX, ORIGIN, and I THE BREATHER. We have some other things coming up, but nothing ready to announce yet. We love Texas and hope to party there soon. I plan to drink tons of Lone Star!
Amps: What do you like to listen to away from the band?
Andy: I listen to anything and everything. The list would be way too long to type. Right now, I’m jamming some SOILWORK. I’ve admired them for like fifteen years. They write great songs.
Amps: What album are you most looking forward to in 2014? And what’s impressed you most among those already released this year?
Andy: I really love the new MASTODON, OPETH, and CONTORTIONIST albums. I look forward to a new FACELESS album very much, and I also look forward to all the new things I’ll discover.
Amps: What would you like to say to all the BLACK CROWN INITIATE fans out there?
Andy: Thank you. Your support means more than words can express. We started this band without a clue where it would take us or even a solid lineup. We hope to drink beer with all of you! See you soon!
If you haven’t heard BLACK CROWN INITIATE by now, you need to remedy that situation quickly. Be sure to check HERE for tour dates and ALSO, make sure to pick up The Wreckage of Stars on September 30. You’ll be very glad you did!
LIVE PHOTO: DANA ZUK PHOTOGRAPHY