A Q&A with Misery Lane
US trio on the rock-metal razor’s edge…
What’s the title of your latest release, and what does it mean to you?
The latest is not titled but because the album art features a red balloon it has been called the Red Balloon album much like Metallica’s Black Album or more simply Red Balloon. There is a song on the album titled ‘Red Balloon’ and it comes from a poem I wrote for my wife. She’s a huge horror nerd and loves Pennywise the Clown so I thought since Pennywise can absorb the knowledge and emotions of his victims what if he wanted to fall in love and instead of flowers he gave one red balloon. The song, and poem, are from the perspective of Pennywise talking to someone he wants. Obviously because of trademarking and such we couldn’t use the actual name or reference the movies and book directly. But I thought the red balloon was a nice homage to the base material.
What was the hardest part about putting this release together, and why?
The hardest part about this album was picking songs that went well together while keeping with our goal of non-genre specific metal music. I write all the music for all the instruments along with the vocals. I then send it out to the band to make changes or sign off on what I’ve done and then we move it over to the mixing and mastering phase. Because I am continually writing it can be difficult sometimes to pick and choose from my own songs.
Who produced the release?
On our first album, we paid someone to do a few of the tracks and realistically it was more of a waste of time and money for little return. We bought the hardware and software to record and mix our own music, so we have a lot more freedom with the music and making changes. We aren’t forced to produce something because we are paying by the hour like if we rented a studio. I think that freedom allows more of us to come through than if we had it produced professionally. Now I’m sure there are things that I don’t know because I mix and master everything but for a guy with no formal training before this band, I do alright.
What do you want the listener to take away from listening to your music?
I hope that one or more of the songs on the album the listener can relate to and enjoy. Songs like ‘Liar’, ‘Wake Up’ and ‘Won’t Change My Life’ are pretty true to the title and easy to identify with. The songs they can’t directly connect to I just hope they enjoy the music and pass it on to their friends.
How does a track normally come together? Can you tell us something about the process?
To me, music is emotion in words. So whatever I am feeling that day I pour it into my guitar, and she translates it into sound that I can then use as the foundation of the song. Without a strong foundation, everything crumbles. From there I usually add some sort of accent instrument and a basic drum track then send it to the guys to see what they think. They add their critiques, and we chip away at the proverbial block of marble until we have our “David”. Lyrics are usually done last, to be honest, but some songs like ‘Red Balloon’ and ‘The Other Man’, I had the lyrics long before I had the music.
What band/artists have influenced you the most since you started this project, and why?
I don’t limit myself to music or genres, so everything is an influence for me. I started in early thrash metal bands and moved over to blues. I’ve played in country bands and cover bands and all that helps me shape the music into what you hear today. Some of my favourite bands musically are Killswitch Engage, Bullet for My Valentine, All That Remains, Slipknot, etc. I love bands that have dual guitars and can sing and scream in the song.
What countries would you like to tour? Are there any standout venues you’d like to play in?
Europe or the Far East each have a great metal scene so anyplace that would have us in either would be phenomenal. I don’t really have a standout venue because we have played shows at huge venues that got us very little traction and smaller town/city spots that have gained us tremendous traction. At this point I just feel like if it’s the right crowd then the venue is a mute point, although there are some spots in Michigan that do a great job at giving local bands a shot like the Music Factory in Battle Creek, The Music Box in Jackson, The Token Lounge in Westland, I could go on and on.
If you could pick one track for our readers to listen to in order to get a taste of your music, what would you pick, and why?
I may be biased because it has a special meaning to me but ‘Red Balloon’. It starts like a rock ballad but by the end, it’s blowing your face off. It’s like Wanted Dead or Alive with a mosh pit.
What ambitions do you have for the band/your career?
Realistically I just want to play music people love and to do so if I am able. I would love to do this for a living. Not necessarily be a huge star but make enough money to pay the bills doing something I love would be like not working at all. Now if a record label wants to throw us a deal, I wouldn’t be opposed to that either lol.
Finally, as you leave the stage, what are your parting words?
Nietzsche said, “Life without music would be a mistake.” I couldn’t agree more.