Metal Shop: Edge of Paradise.
No, we are not talking about your high school elective. We are talking about piercing vocals and soaring guitar riffs hovering above a churning sea of power chords all subject to an insistent rhythm. Meet four young fabricators – Dave Bates, Margarita Monet, Nick Ericson and John Chominsky – who have come together to produce quality heavy metal songs for your appreciation. Together they form the band, Edge of Paradise.
I&S: From the interviews so far, it seems that Dave Bates has been the driving force behind the band’s initial formation and provided the seed material for the first album. What was his initial concept for the band versus what it has become once the membership was finalized?
Yes, Dave actually started writing instrumentals and had Tony Franklin along with Gregg Bissonette as a rhythms section. When Dave was introduced to Robin McCauley, they reworked the instrumental songs for Robin to sing. They had the band Bleed for a few years, until Robin was asked to joint Survivor on tour. That’s when I met Dave and when we were hired to work on a project for a producer in LA. Dave and I worked great together, so it only seemed right to start a band together.
When we formed Edge of Paradise, we thought of it as a brand new project. The only concept we had was that we wanted to create our own sound, build something unique and then take it to the top. We wanted to put something out right away to build the band from so it made sense to rework Dave’s unreleased songs and start developing our sound from there. Our debut CD Mask was a good introduction – but the new CD Perfect Shade of Black really defines us a band.
I&S: We ask authors this question and it may be difficult to answer from your artist’s viewpoint, but “Who is your audience?” Who do you think of when writing your songs?
You know, now with the new CD, we don’t really think about catering to a certain audience, we just try to write the best songs we can, and have them come from a very honest and sincere place. As a result I think we have a very broad audience. Yes, we are geared toward the rock and metal crowd, but even our heaviest songs are very melodic and are accessible to someone who doesn’t listen to metal. I’ve had a lot of people that never listened to heavy music message the band saying that they really relate to the songs and have our Perfect Shade Of Black EP on replay! And that’s our goal with the upcoming CD – to create the best songs we can and introduce our own sound to the people.
I&S: On the flip side, it may be that artists create works to satisfy their own tastes then hope that others are drawn to those works for reasons singular to themselves. You want to practice your art and at the same time receive compensation which will allow you to continue. How do you balance the two?
I think that’s a trap that some people fall into…either trying to copy what’s trending at the moment or try to make something so different that it’s even foreign to them. We just focus on the song and let it write itself. If something doesn’t feel right, we start over. It’s hard to explain, but so far with the new songs, it’s been working for us. We’ve only received positive responses with an increase in people coming on board.
I think Dave and I have a great balance. I come from a classical background, so some of the melodies are influenced by that, and Dave is rooted in hard rock and metal, but he is such a well-rounded musician that you can hear all kind of influences in his playing. At the end of the day it’s all about the song and what the song needs. I think that’s the only way to do it…to really create something good that we believe in and people will jump on. Chasing trends might get you some sort of instant success, but it won’t be long-lived because it would be nothing new or authentic.
I&S: If you were to cite one particular talent in which each of you excels, what would those be? As individuals, what are the strengths you bring to the group?
Well besides music, Dave is great at talking. John (who plays drums) is great at being a nice guy. Nick (who plays bass) is good with the girls and tattoos (you should see his work on his own leg of a 3-eyed fish for good fun – https://twitter.com/EdgeofParadise1/status/438239053184389121/photo/1). I’m good at keeping us all in line.
But on a serious note, everyone brings a lot to the table to complete the puzzle. Dave handles a lot of the business relations. I handle the visual aspect of the band and online presence. John is a problem solver (and always has a solution). Nick is very handy (so if anything breaks down on tour, we can rely on him!) We all support each other and if we ever run into an obstacle we just solve it and move on. We always get things done and that’s very rare to come by – to have four people working hard together, dedicated to one goal! We are very lucky to have the line-up that we do. We are all great friends so that makes the process easier and a lot of fun.
I&S: For Ms. Monet – Your voice training undoubtedly covered a wide range of styles. What accommodations must you make as a vocalist in order to sing in a metal band? Can the vocals be considered as acting as another (albeit unusual) guitar in the mix? Is this stressful as a vocalist?
I did take some vocal lessons and did musical theater. I learned a lot of techniques but my main thing was classical piano – I never thought of myself as a singer. This kind of happened by chance, but I think the best things in life arrive spontaneously.)
When we were recording Mask I was learning a lot about my voice and what it was capable of… it was surprising and difficult at times…and it took a lot of hard work to find my unique voice. What I found most helpful was to follow the emotion of the song and let my voice do whatever needed to be done for the song…which has worked for me so far. Correct breathing is key when singing – especially hitting really high/powerful notes without passing out. I credit this to one of my theater classes at NYU. We did so many breathing exercises that I think my lungs were ready for a metal band. Overall, singing for me isn’t stressful at all. I actually love to see what I can do with my voice, it is part of the fun!
I&S: Now that you have been together for a while and the initial stock of arrangements has been used, how have the four of you shaped the music to be presented in your next album(s)? Or is Dave still the focal point for this duty?
Dave and I started writing right after we released the first CD. We knew that we still needed to find our sound. Some of the songs we had already written and recorded included band members who had left the group. Dave and I write well together even though we sometimes argue. But each song is different, some songs come really easy and some take more developing. Sometimes Dave comes up with a riff and I get ideas for melodies and lyrics and we arrange it from there…or sometimes I have the song on the piano and Dave puts guitars on it and it grows from there…we kind of feed off each other. When we bring the new songs into rehearsal, the other guys in the band are very helpful. John gives great ideas for a groove and Nick has great lyric suggestions. So far it’s been working out great! We have developed a great system that works for us.
I&S: You have established yourself as a metal band. How are you doing in establishing your metal brand? Have you sought advice from others for this aspect of your career? If so, what have they been telling you?
We are working on it every day. At first it was difficult and we made a lot of mistakes. One thing we knew is that our music had to stand on its own and separate us from the rest, so all of our energy went into developing our sound and becoming a great live band. This is what will give our band and our brand longevity.
We also focus on the image of the band. We constantly work on creating more material whether that be new songs, video, new artwork or merchandise; it’s all vital to building a world that people will want to be a part of.
We are very lucky to work with a great publicist, Chipster PR. He has been with us from the beginning and has been guiding us and helping us grow the band tremendously. We are very fortunate to have a great team of people that we work with and who are part of building our world:
Michael Wagener – who is vital to the sound of the band;
Kevin Estrada – our photographer who is responsible for our image;
Ioannis from Dangerous Age Art – who created very unique art for Perfect Shade Of Black EP;
Val Rassi – who has filmed two music videos for us already;
Skateboard Marketing – that works to bring our music to radio;
…and all our supporters from metal sites, magazines and radio stations. Without our team it would be very hard to build this. Our goal is to be a worldwide band and with this team of people on our side, we’ve been moving along with some speed!
I&S: If any one of you were to come into the studio one day and tell the others you had a great idea for a new song, how would your bandmates react? How would you proceed?
Everyone is open to each other’s ideas – you never know where a good song is going to come from. We all get along really well too, so the chemistry as a band is great. All of our music benefits from the collective input of the group.
I&S: From first thoughts to final album cut, what kind of production schedule have you set for yourselves? Do you plan to stay label independent?
When we recorded the first song that Dave and I wrote (In A Dream), everything was very difficult. We didn’t even think about completing a second CD at the time. We were focused on finding our sound and the quality of the recording (compared to all the other big bands out there). So In A Dream was it for us; it kind of set the pattern for the other songs to come – especially because that’s when we started working with Michael Wagener. We never dreamed we could approach someone as legendary as Michael given that we were such a new band. We didn’t want to rush anything so we didn’t set a production schedule. We just recorded the songs as they came and sent them to Michael Wagener to mix. The next thing we released was our single Break Away. We put out the lyric video on YouTube and it got over 100,000 views in the first week. That kick-started the growth of the band. We started to play a lot of shows and toured the West Coast (including Hawaii). Following our East Coast tour, we went to Nashville to Michael Wagener’s studio to record two more songs. That was an incredible experience, so we knew we had to finish recording the CD with Michael.
Part of our spontaneous approach to schedule is because we are independent. But after we are done with the CD (in Aprii), we are definitely looking to partner up with the right label then tour as much as possible!
I&S: Tell us about any upcoming events, promotions, etc. you’d like our readers and followers to know about.
We just finished filming a video for Rise For The Fallen, our newest song that will be included on the upcoming full length release of the Perfect Shade Of Black CD. We are also hard at work completing that release and will head back to Nashville in April to finish the songs at Michael Wagener’s studio.
We have a few select shows that we will be playing as well: March 29th we are playing a benefit mud run for Breast Cancer in Santa Paula, CA. We are also playing at Paladino’s in Reseda on April 11th for “Rockers Against Trafficking” (http://www.rockersagainsttrafficking.org/). These are a couple of really good causes and we are happy to be a part.
We also wish to express our thanks to the awesome company that endorses us – NUME ( high end hair styling tools and hair care products). I swear by their products. If anyone has any hair requests, come to our Facebook page for NUME promotions, discounts and giveaways and visit theuir website, http://www.numeproducts.com
For more info:
Keep up with us on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/EdgeOfParadiseBand
Visit our website: http://www.edgeofparadiseband.com/
And follow us on twitter : @edgeofparadise1!
I&S:: The band’s website is rich with information as well as samples of their work. We urge to stop by. This group is poised to be one of the hot bands for 2014 and beyond. We at Image and Style Magazine look forward to their future release and continued success.