Argus has been gathering quite a bit of hype in the past year from publications like Decibel and Metalsucks for good reason-Their latest album “Boldly Stride the Doom” is an awesome cross between NWOBHM bands such as Iron Maiden and Sabbath. If you haven’t heard these guys yet, what are you waiting for? Read the interview below and then check out “Boldly Stride the Doom” as soon as you can.
I wanted to first congratulate you on the good response you’ve had to the album- I noticed you were given good reviews on both Decibel and Metalsucks! Have you noticed any increase in album sales or gig offers as a result of the positive exposure?
Jason: To tell you the truth, I don’t think any one of us is too in tune with flow of album sales. We’ve definitely noticed the positive response and I’m sure it helps in the long run but there are just so many channels to get music these days (some more traceable than others) that it’s difficult to tell anymore. I wish we had a way to find out how many people have the record in their collection, illegally or not, just to know.
Butch: I definitely noticed much more of an all around awareness of who Argus is but I wouldn’t say sales have been affected much. I think we sold more quickly – the album isn’t a year old yet and has done somewhat better than the debut. I definitely noticed a HUGE spike in the number of places on the net you could obtain the album for “free” though LOL
I noticed on your website each of you list your influences, all of you seem to listen to a varied bunch of music-how did you end up coming up with your current sound?
Jason: The sound we have now is definitely a change over time most likely due to band members coming and going. The original conception for this band was not at all what Argus sounds like now, and Erik and Kevin can probably speak more to this, but I know it was a looser style of heavy rock. I believe that I was a big reason for the shift, I am into writing tighter, more prog influenced metal and I write a lot of the riffs. I’m all about pushing things a little further and trying to meld different styles together to make songs that we’ll all like and I think all of us are on the same page right now. So, when we work on new music, everyone is contributing pieces here and there to create the finished product.
Butch: I think it came about organically – we don’t stray too far from our combined influences which are pretty varied themselves but all like big riffs, harmony guitars, an epic feeling at times and wanting to not just settle for 2 chord chugs but rather think progressively when we write yet not execute the way a prog band would.
Kevin: There was an evolution of our sound as we started as more of a fun project as opposed to a band. As we started to get more serious, we began honing in on a sound. It was really the addition of Butch that helped us focus and develop the “Argus sound.” With our varied interests, we certainly could play any style, but this is what makes sense and what we have to say musically.
You guys are frequently described in the press as a “doom” band. Do you feel it’s an apt description? I personally hear a lot of NWOBHM and Dio era Black Sabbath in their. Butch sounds to me like a cross between Bruce Dickinson and Ronnie James Dio then like the standard Doom singer. Also by the sounds of the live recordings you have on your website you sound like you’re having a lot of fun, not something many doom bands want to admit to.
Jason: First off, Butch is going to be all smiles when he reads that he’s being compared to Dickinson/Dio, but you’re right, he’s a great singer. As far as the “Doom” genre, I don’t really believe we’re a straight fit for that spot but I also think that everyone who knows our music knows that as well. There are such a variety of styles going into Argus’ music that we sort of fit all over the place which is a good place to be in my mind. Fans of traditional metal, doom metal, and just heavy metal in general will find something they can relate to, and our sound is consistent enough across the songs. And yes, we have fun playing, it’s each one of ours favorite thing to do and we appreciate every time we’re able to be out there in front of some people doing it.
Butch: We are not a doom band per se. We just like to say we play honest to goodness for real HEAVY METAL that happens to have doomy undertones at times. We hate to be pigeonholed as strictly doom or strictly true metal or retro metal, what have you. We just let the music talk and feel we can fit on bills with many types of bands.
Kevin: I hate genres and classifications, particularly when people focus more on that than on the substance of the music. We definitely have elements of doom metal, and are actively involved with many of the bands in the doom scene. But I think it’s difficult for anyone to put us under any one umbrella. I love that. Reviewers seem to hate it. Haha!
Do you guys play a lot of shows? What are your current tour plans, if any?
Jason: We don’t play a lot, we’re all very busy with our personal lives and try to limit what we commit to playing to some degree. We like to do gigs where there is some good exposure potential and we like to do a few gigs here and there with bands passing through Pittsburgh, and we have a lot of great bands we’re friends with so when we can all get together and play it’s always a good time. We have a few gig’s booked on the horizon, they’re listed on our home page at argusmetal.com and we’re hopefully planning some more European dates this Fall in addition to Dublin Doom Days.
Butch: We play when we can but like to pick our spots due to our work and home lives. This doesn’t pay the bills so we have to approach it as a hobby, a very serious hobby, but a hobby nonetheless. We’ll be performing in Milwaukee, Wisconsin at Days of the Doomed the weekend of June 15-16, the Warriors of Metal Fest in Ohio the weekend of June 29-30, then in New York City with Twisted Tower Dire and Todesponden in mid-late July and then the Autumn brings Dublin Doom Days and hopefully a string of dates in Europe to coincide. I’m also psyched about playing with Dream Death on April 21 here in Pittsburgh.
What stands out for you as the best song on Boldly Stride the Doomed?
Jason: That’s a tough question for someone in the band, I’d like to rephrase the question to read “What stands out as your favorite song…” I can’t say that there’s a “best” song, they’re all of similar caliber to me, so my favorite to play is probably Durendal, it’s got upbeat rhythms, lots of guitar solos and harmonies and some big, heavy slower riffs as well. All the songs have their own feel though so I might give you an entirely different answer on a different day.
Butch: Yeah geez…uhmmm… I think “Wolves of Dusk”, “Durendal”…. my favorite vocal performance is probably on “42-7-29”.
Kevin: This changes for me, sometimes daily. I can honestly say that each song has been my favorite at one point or another. I love playing “Wolves” and “Pieces” live. Actually I like playing all of them live. Sorry for the non-answer.
What’s the plan for another album? Will you be returning to the studio soon or not for some time yet?
Jason: We have almost all the material for our next album written and we have plans to be in the studio in May to record it. I’ll be setting up a studio blog page and doing regular posts with video, photos, some clips etc… when we’re in the studio, watch for news of that on our website.
Butch: These guys are putting me to shame – I’m buried by great riffs and have barely begun the process on the melodies and lyrics. This is usually about the time I am set to freak out about writer’s block and then once i get going it all comes in a rush. The third album will be entitled “BEYOND THE MARTYRS”. Hoping for an Autumn release.
How do you guys feel about services like Rdio and Spotify? Saviors of the industry or rip off to the artist?
Jason: I wouldn’t call them either of those things, I’d just say they’re a natural evolution of the digital age, as long as people are listening to music it’s a good thing. They’re good exposure tools but people who really like a band or album will probably want to own it and there are more honest people than not in the grand scheme of things. But I’d rather have people listening to Argus, however they got the music, than not at all.
Butch: I’d rather have folks hearing Argus than not so its ok by me. I use Spotify a lot to try to hear albums I never got a chance to or to seek out new bands. I just can’t afford to buy every release without hearing it first so Spotify, CD Baby, Reverbnation, Bandcamp all help me prioritize what I am gonna spend my cash on. Hopefully folks that listen to us on those sorts of services or grab out music on blog or torrent sites will like what they hear and consider buying the next album or come see us live or buy a shirt etc…. Technology is here to stay so better to work with it than against it.
Kevin: I personally love Spotify – I’ve been able to find some older out-of-print stuff on there. I think for bands it is a great tool to get your music out there. Anything that spreads our music to as many people as possible is ok by me.
Are you guys able to make any semblance of a living off of Argus? Do you foresee this occurring if it isn’t already?
Jason: I never figured on making a living off this band (or any band), I play because I love writing and performing music. I’m sure that relying upon it monetarily would change the feel of the process and also create some extra level of accountability around the music. As it goes now, we write music that we like and while there certainly is a part of that process that considers whether our fans will appreciate it, there isn’t any obligation, and making it absolutely necessary for people to like it because our financial stability personally depends upon it would be a different story.
Kevin: It’s not in the cards. We all work full-time jobs and have families of some sort. I think we all would like to be able to do more with Argus, but we’re happy at our level of success. Hell, this band is WAY bigger than I ever thought it would be when Erik, Mike, and I started jamming to riffs all those years ago. I have no intentions of hanging up my sticks, but if the band ended tomorrow, I would be more than happy with where we’ve been.
Butch: Hell no. I try not to focus on it too much because I’d make myself crazy if I did. Timing is everything. With families and jobs there’s no way we can make this our living. Were we all in our 20s with no kids we’d likely be living out of a winnebago touring nonstop because I do think the band is that good that we could make a run at some semblance of success beyond critical and artistic success. But at the end of the day, making ourselves happy and having fun and enjoying playing in a band together is what counts.
Any advice for anyone who is starting out in the music industry?
Kevin: I think the biggest thing is play what’s in your heart and don’t have expectations of making this a career. If you can’t have fun, then there’s no point in doing it.
Butch: Don’t do it unless you’re having fun first. Create for yourself first, not for the labels, radio or even the fans. Be true to who you are because ultimately that is what this art is all about.
Have you been able to meet any musical heroes as a result of your increased exposure? Who was it and what happened?
Kevin: We played a show at the 31st Street Pub in Pittsburgh with Crucifist, featuring none other than Dan Lilker on bass (alongside members of Orodruin). I grew up on Anthrax, Nuclear Assault, and S.O.D., so that was definitely a surreal moment walking in and seeing him sitting at the bar. He’s also a very cool guy. In addition, we’ve certainly played with some bands I looked up to like Trouble and Candlemass.
Any memorable shows that stand out in particular for you?
Jason: We’ve played quite a few great shows but my most recent stand-out is surely Hammer of Doom in Germany. It was a great experience playing for that crowd and I look forward to being back over there again someday soon.
Kevin: The Hammer of Doom festival in Germany was definitely the pinnacle so far. The crowd response was amazing, and the lineup was great. I love playing the various festivals in the U.S. as well as it gives us a chance to hang out with friends we’ve made and check out some great bands.
Judas Priest or Iron Maiden and why?
Jason: Iron Maiden all the way for me, they’re one of my favorite bands. I can’t really tell you why that is, it’s mostly their approach and feel to the type of metal they play that appeals to me, it’s a very different thing from Judas Priest.
Kevin: Iron Maiden. Growing up I was always really into them. I love the guitars, the songwriting, the vocals (all 3 vocalists are cool by me). I was never a huge Priest fan for some reason.
Sabbath or Zeppelin and why?
Kevin: Now you’re getting tough! On the one hand, Bonham is my all-time favorite drummer. I love the finesse, the groove. I love their tunes despite the fact that they stole half of them! But Sabbath is incredible, too. The heaviness, the atmosphere. I can’t choose, so I’m saying a tie.
Jason: I’m kind of with Kevin on this one, Sabbath is my first thought but then I think of all the great Zeppelin songs and the style Jimmy Page has in those songs. For me it’s a mix in that I really love the creativity and airiness of Zeppelin but I just as much dig the heavy, unique-for-its-time vibe that Sabbath has. Both bands and be pretty dark at times, and I love dark music.
Top 5 favorite albums of all time of whatever genre.
Jason: (1) Megadeth – Rust in Peace (2) Guns n Roses – Appetite for Destruction (3) Dream Theater – Images & Words (4) Peter Green’s Fleetwood Mac – Live at The Boston Tea Party (5) Iron Maiden – Seventh Son of a Seventh Son
Kevin: (1) Pink Floyd – Dark Side of the Moon; (2) Metallica – Master of Puppets; (3) Anthrax – Among the Living; (4) Megadeth – Rust in Peace; (5) Guns N Roses – Appetite for Destruction
Erik: 5. Boston – Boston; 4. Iron Maiden – Piece of Mind/Number of the Beast toss up; 3. Emperor – Anthems to the Welkin at Dusk; 2. Slough Feg – Down Among The Deadmen; 1. Ween – Chocolate and Cheese