KYLE THOMAS (Alabama TP) – Got sick of seeing what was being done to heavy metal
Kyle Thomas er ganske fersk i Alabama Thunderpussy; han joinet bandet for et drøyt år siden og har visstnok ikke gjort intervjuer for ATP tidligere. Likevel tok det kun 2 dager fra vi tok kontakt med Relapse til hans svar lå i mailboksen vår. Kyle anbefaler alle ekstreme vokalister å ta vare på stemmen sin og skolere stemmen sin slik at skader på stemmebåndene ikke blir resultatet.
ET – When did you start doing extreme vocals (What year and at what age)?
KYLE – I first started to sing heavy metal back in the mid 80's, but it was more traditional than extreme. It was not until we formed what eventually became Exhorder in the spring of 1986 that I really cut loose on screaming hardcore-and-metal hybrid vocals. I had just turned 16.
ET – What made you start to do extreme vocals?
KYLE – I got sick of seeing what was being done to heavy metal. Bon Jovi in particular made me fed up for good with sissy boy looks in hard rock. I could not believe people were calling that tripe heavy metal just because they had long hair. There was a long period that went by that I would not even listen to my favourite metal bands anymore because they were getting
"prettier". Mix that with being an awkward, angry young man in a repressed Catholic world and eventually you get Slaughter in the Vatican.
ET – Can you describe the technique or the techniques you are using?
KYLE – I started out just belting out my rage, but eventually I joined the chorus in high school and learned proper breathing and how to maintain my vocal chords. I avoid cold water onstage like the plague, but will have a cold beer. Go figure. When I was young I worried too much and "over cared" for my voice, and it sometimes made things worse. If you are sensible and confident at the same time you learn your limitations. I would recommend vocal lessons to anyone regardless of style.
ET – Has your technique changed during your career?
KYLE – Damn right. I am a much better singer as a man in my late thirties than I ever was before. However, I can still get down and dirty and thrash it up when I choose to. My biggest change would probably be that I gave up smoking completely. That may or may not count as technique but it makes a world of difference in how I apply technique.
ET – Have you ever hurt yourself by using a "wrong technique"?
KYLE – Probably, I would say in the early days I most likely did. That just comes from taking a chance to find out if you can even pull it off.
ET – Is there something you do on a regular basis to keep your voice in shape? Any routines?
KYLE – Not really. I used to, but I find if I'm going on tour it's a good idea to at least get a couple of good sessions in before you get to the real deal. It's like building an imaginary callus on the vocal cords. I tend to do my best when I worry the least and just get out there and do what I've got to do.
ET – Do you think it can be dangerous to do extreme vocals?
KYLE – That's a possibility. I guess there's a chance of screaming or growling yourself an aneurysm, but there's also a chance that if you ride in a car you could get killed or maimed in an accident or choke on some awesome food. I'll take my chances on the food every time. You've gotta live at some point.
ET – What is most important for you – to make cool sounds and interesting rhythms, or to have a clear diction/pronunciation?
KYLE – That's kind of comparing apples to oranges. Obviously the Dios and Halfords and Gillans are in a league of their own, but I must say that it is really a challenge to a growler to sound different. I've heard so many that are a dime a dozen, but when you can hear a singer growl or scream and put a name on it immediately, that's bad ass. I probably emphasize more on clarity and pushing my range, but I'll never turn my back on what got me this far-pissed off ranting vocals.
ET – Do you think that extreme vocals can be made into a science, like "this is how it works for everyone, to make this sound you have to do this etc"? Or is it more intuitive and individual how to do it?
KYLE – I don't think in any facet of life you can place a perfect formula on such an imperfect being as the human. I may never growl quite the way someone else does, and someone may never scream quite the way I do. Variety rules.
ET – Do you have any advice to people who wants to start doing extreme vocals?
KYLE – Yeah- stay in school and get a real job. Seriously, if you're going to do it, challenge yourself to NOT sound like anyone else. Find SOMETHING that separates you.
ET – Mention three extreme vocalists whose style you admire, and explain your choice. What specifically do you like about the styles of those three? Also mention three vocalists (not necessarily extreme vocalists) which you have been influence by, and explain in which way you have been influenced by each of them
KYLE – Okay, I'm assuming that this means current versus old school influences. Current singers, I have to go with my New Orleans cohort Ben Falgoust of Soilent Green/ Goatwhore. The dude sounds like a frigging alligator. Scary! He was always really different from what I was doing, and I respected the absolute shit out of that. Karyn Crisis goes from angel to demon in 0.6 seconds, which is amazing to watch live. Devin Townsend is awesome too; a brilliant musician.
As far as old schoolers that influenced me, I'll give three of three different backgrounds that really molded me throughout the years. If it wasn't for Mike Dean of Corrosion of Conformity and what he did on Animosity, there would not be the Exhorder that the world knows. I flipped on that record. Metal punk as opposed to punk metal. Roger Miret of Agnostic Front was definitely influential on my speed vocals. Above all, though, I admire Ian Gillan of Deep Purple and Black Sabbath. Truly the man that has pushed me to test my upper range and just a kick ass writer as well. The harmonies he does are insane. The true king.
ET – Who do you want to challenge in this series? (Who should be the next extreme vocalist to answer these questions?) Give a brief explanation for your choice.
KYLE – By virtue of the fact that I've only met this guy once or twice and we'll be touring this summer together, I'd be curious to see what John Tardy of Obituary has to say to these questions. He is one of the guys I had in mind when I said some growler types you know right off the bat. He was killer on Slowly We Rot. Helped shape death metal for sure.