Lazarus Casket serves up death metal with a melodic twist. Hailing from Long Beach, CA, this five piece band is working their way through the local metal scene in hopes of securing a spot for the October’s Knotfest. Preparing for the upcoming battle of the bands, Lazarus Casket is putting in the time to hone their live performance for both fans and the battle judges. By the Barricade was on hand for the Lazarus Casket show August 10 at the Slidebar in Fullerton, CA and caught up with a few of the guys before their set. The interview that follows sheds light on the driving force behind the band and what it takes to achieve their goals.
Included in this interview:
- Jason Tyler – vocals
- Aaron Miller – guitars
- Tyrell Williamson – drums
Also in Lazarus Casket:
- Gabriel Martinez – guitars
- David Johnson – bass
By the Barricade: What inspired you to be a musician and specifically what drew you to this genre?
Tyrell Williamson: My dad is a bass player and he was my influence to get into music. As for metal, I fell into metal in my high school years and I have kept going since.
Aaron Miller: All the 80’s metal and how everything has progressed and how death metal is still keeping the melodies and the heaviness. It’s just in my blood.
Jason Tyler: I’d have to say that I just grew up listening to 8 track and vinyl from my parents. Some of the bands are still around. I found my stepdad’s Led Zepplin The Song Remains the Same soundtrack on cassette. I used to listen to that on my way to the San Diego Zoo so I was pretty young. I think that had a definite influence into metal. From there, when I was growing up I got into Guns N Roses and that turned into Pantera, Metallica, Slayer and back then the actual death metal used to make me laugh because it was so over the top. Now it just kind of grew on me, bands like Cannibal Corpse. Then I started listening to scream-type stuff like bands like Killswitch Engage or Caliban or Heaven Shall Burn bands from Germany that somehow sing in English but speak German but it was very screamy. I thought, “Wait a second, I could probably do that,” because I can’t sing clean that well. We have other band members take over. I can do it in the studio, but repeating it live perfectly, I need work on that still. But the growls and screams I’ve gotten down over the years. Some of those bands just made me want to do it. Once I actually jammed for the first time with some friends of mine in my first few projects, I learned this was a great release and it’s something that I love to do even just practicing together and rehearsing for shows. I really like playing shows in front of people. Once you play in front of a decent crowd, it’s definitely something different. It’s really cool, it’s a good feeling especially when people are understanding and getting into your art and your message and your lyrics. It means a lot to us.
By the Barricade: How did this particular line up of Lazarus Casket come about?
Aaron Miller: We have two original members, me and David (Johnson) the bassist. We started it and have gone through singers but it has always stayed true. We have always worked with Jason through his promoting company and played shows with him, we have collaborated on covers with him, and he has come on stage. We have always been a tight little family and Whitey our drummer has been there from the start. The first time we met him, he was in his girlfriend’s little apartment that was right next to our jam space and he was trying to keep quiet while he was listening to his metal and heard us jamming and he came over and that is how he eventually slid in on drums.
Jason Tyler: I was born in Long Beach and I relocated there after Jr. College and I was going to Cal State Fullerton and met these guys. I saw them open for Droid at DiPiazza’s in Long Beach. That is the first show I remember seeing these guys. I remembered Aaron the long blonde haired guitar player.
Aaron Miller: At that time I was the bass player.
By the Barricade: Your sound has been describes in a variety of ways. How would you describe Lazarus Casket in five words or less?
Jason Tyler: I like to say melodic death metal.
Tyrell Williamson: I’d say the same we have a different sound.
Aaron Miller: We still have the heavy punch but we have breakdowns, it’s not strictly death metal. We have a lot of groove we get that little groove part from Pantera because they always kept that true.
Jason Tyler: I think we all meld all of our influences into a ball and that is Lazarus Casket. We all listen to stuff from country, Johnny Cash, Led Zepplin to the Beatles to, extreme death metal.
Tyrell WIlliamson: I listen to Jazz and death metal.
Jason Tyler: I listen to punk rock.
Aaron Miller: Our other guitarist, Gabriel (Martinez) is into house and industrial, gothic and everything meshes within the five fingertips that we have.
By the Barricade: You released your self-titled EP this spring. You said recently that the experience exceeded your expectations in terms of translating your live show into a recording. What did you do or what do you think contributed to that successful translation?
Jason Tyler: That is an easy answer because we worked with Mark Haggblad at Dead Hero Studios in Costa Mesa. The team of people that he had us come under and work with on guitar solos, drums, my vocals, making the lyrics fit the songs and not trying to say too much and keeping things to the clip track. The production and ideas, some of the stuff I did was on the fly in the studio. One of my favorite songs, “Engraved”, I actually wrote right there on the spot and it is one of the catchiest songs on the record.
Aaron Miller: One thing we’ve learned is that we have always had a busy writing band. Our music has always been busy, busy and we have learned that less is more, way more. That is where the power is, that gets people’s heads moving. The people we have worked with have helped
Jason Tyler: We had the recording all tightened up so then we had to go back into the rehearsal room to make sure that we sounded like the album before we started playing again. We took about 3 or 4 months to do that. Our show improved drastically from last year until April.
Aaron Miller: We didn’t want to be one of those bands where you have heard the album and got that disappointment. Not because they can’t do it but it is just not there. The tempo is slower and we worked really hard on that.
By the Barricade: There are not a lot of mainstream radio stations in Southern California playing metal, what keeps the music going and how do you get new fans?
Aaron Miller: Playing live.
Jason Tyler: Yes, playing shows also Sirus XM Liquid Metal is a great avenue for new metal. It is something that we need to look into; getting airplay on there.
Aaron Miller: We will be on Pandora soon so that will introduce us to a lot more fans. We already got approved for it so they will have our station very soon.
Jason Tyler: We are on iTunes. As soon as we got the album out we made it available for purchase on iTunes and obviously we do have copies of the EP here tonight and at all of our shows. We push and we have gotten on some podcasts and online radio stuff. If we have a budget for advertising, there is print. Mostly it is DIY journalists that have liked us and given us some exposure. It’s amazing and makes us feel like we are not the only ones that are excited about the way the album came out.
By the Barricade: Is there a pretty good community within the metal bands?
Aaron Miller: The metal scene is pretty strong with networking.
Jason Tyler: There are certain bands that we always network with and talk to. We try to play shows with them whether it’s in our hometown or not. The key is to play outside of your hometown with band that is good and that have a following. That puts us in front of a new crowd and we do that same favor for those bands. We’ll bring them into our hometown where we draw well and let them play right before us and they are going to play in front of a lot of people. We have done that and we get the favor returned. We get invited to play in Lake Arrowhead with GrimWolf all the time, but we haven’t been able to schedule that yet. But we are going to do that Brent! Brent (Wisdom) is awesome we are going to shoot a music video with him someday. He has a great company up there.
Jason Tyler: It wouldn’t be cool or fun if it was main stream.
Tyrell Williamson: I like the underground.
By the Barricade: You are in the battle for Knotfest. What would playing at Knotfest mean to you?
Tyrell Williamson: Amazing!
Aaron Miller: It is with all of the bands that you have grown up with and we have all head banged and gone into the mosh pits for. Sharing the stage would be amazing.
Tyrell Williamson: Especially playing with Slipknot!
Jason Tyler: There are 3 days of that festival. Friday is the VIP only pre-party with Suicide Silence, The Black Dahlia Murder, Butcher Babies and more. That would be cool in its own right. Saturday and Sunday Slipknot plays both days. Saturday is more of the thrash metal bands, Anthrax is playing. Sunday Devil Driver is playing. That is one of our favorites.
Aaron Miller: It’s all the kids too. It’s a big thing to play in front of the kids; that is where the money and the excitement will keep coming. It’s the kids in the scene. That is who we will be playing for.
Jason Tyler: It’s true and it’s hard to find an all ages venue to play at if you are not huge. It’s expensive for an all ages place without the sale of alcohol which they rely on to keep their doors open. There are not many options in southern California to play in an all ages spot. That is what is cool about an all ages festival is that you get to play for all of those kids. The people who come through when the doors open, they are not out there tailgating because they aren’t supposed to be drinking yet.
By the Barricade: This just may be me being stupid, but is this the first Knotfest?
Jason Tyler: It’s the first one in Southern California. The first one was in Japan I believe, last year and this might be the second or the third. They might have done one in Iowa, their hometown or the Chicago area. This year is in Devore, CA which is cool. I only know because I follow Slipknot pretty closely and keep an eye on them. Great guys! I actually got to go on the Mayhem Festival two summers ago working for the record label. I got to follow Slipknot and Slayer and that band puts on a great, perfect performance every single night. I’ve seen the singer pass out from being hot and dehydrated and playing on their festival would mean a lot to all of us. Not just for Slipknot but for all the other bands they chose to be on it. They handpicked 70 bands that are all amazing and half of those at least we all like or look up to. It’s a cool thing. As soon as I saw it announced and saw the chance to play it by doing one show and doing a good job that became something we are focusing on. Whatever tricks we can pull out of our sleeve to make the performance different, we are going to do it.
By the Barricade: Do you think it will attract the same crowd as the Mayhem Festival?
Jason Tyler: Yes and no.
Tyrell Williamson: I think it will bring a big crowd because of all of the bands they have.
Jason Tyler: There was Ozzfest and Mayhem Fest and Summer Slaughter and now there is Knotfest in California and I think it is an accumulation of all of that came before. It’s everything put together and it will be huge.
By the Barricade: Besides Slipknot what band or bands do you hope to play with in the near future?
Aaron Miller: DevilDriver
Jason Tyler: I want to play with Dez and DevilDriver once.
Tyrell Williamson: I want to play with Dahlia.
Jason Tyler: That would be cool too. I would say anything we have on our shelf at home.
Aaron Miller: Soilwork would be a milestone.
JasonTyler: There is a bucket list and you just check them off as you go. We’ve played some good shows and we are fortunate that Long Beach has promoters that believe in us. Tonight we are playing at the Slidebar in Fullerton with Exmortus who are blowing up right now. They have been touring very hard this past year and now we are excited about playing tonight.
By the Barricade: Besides winning the battle for Knotfest, what is your next goal?
Aaron Miller: A full length record which will be in the works toward the New Year. We already have pre-production going on 10 songs and possibly more.
Jason Tyler: We are all excited about the new material because when we went in to record the EP we rerecorded four older songs and two newer songs. We actually had three but there is one that didn’t make the cut. The new stuff was collaborative with all five current members. That is the key to the new stuff.
Aaron Miller: We have been playing those songs for a while and wanted to give them justice on this EP you can hear them and we got that justice, our mind is at ease and it is all new fresh. We will be doing a new record, setting up some tours, a lot coming in the New Year. It is exciting.
By the Barricade: What can fans do to support the scene?
Tyrell Williamson: Come to the shows. That is where all the energy and the fun is. If you are just sitting at home listening to your record, that is all you are going to hear.
Aaron Miller: Buy CDs. Buy music.
Jason Tyler: By the music directly from the bands at the shows. Buy the t-shirts, come out and support whenever you can. We invite our friends to a lot of the shows and sometimes they make it.
By the Barricade: Is there anything else you want to tell readers of By the Barricade?
Aaron Miller: Check out Lazarus Casket. Support your local metal scene
Jason Tyler: You can search for us on Facebook, on ReverbNation, and on iTunes. Come see us.
Tyrell Williamson: Message us, we answer our own messages.
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