ANNIHILATOR – Solo Bonanza
En liten time før kveldens Annihilator konsert setter jeg meg ned med vokalist og gitarist Dave Padden for å ta en prat om bandets siste slipp. Bandet har vært kjent for å bytte medlemmer oftere enn de bytter strenger på sine instrumenter, så Padden med sine 7 år og 4 album på skuldrene er for en Annihilator veteran og regne. Deres siste selvtitulerte album viser ett Annihilator som for første gang på mange år er på høyden med sine mest legendariske slipp, mye takket være Padden’s formidable utvikling på vokalfronten.
Congratulation on your latest album. As far as the Annihilator albums you have participated on goes, this has got to be the best one, by far.
Padden: Thanks, I would say that it is my favorite Annihilator album. I’d say it’s the first one of mine I like actually. Really? No, I like "Schizo Deluxe" too, but… I feel like a different singer on this one. Much stronger.
The vocals have clearly improved on your latest album. Have you worked particularly with your singing this time around, or do you think that your time with the band have matured you into a more integrated part of the Annihilator package?
Padden: I think part of it is experience. But another part is that when we were doing "Metal", I had a really hard time doing it, it seemed like a really hard record to make for some reason. I just wasn’t right when we were making it. It took way longer than it should have, I had throat problems, and I didn’t have any proper warm up to speak of. While doing that, a friend if Jeff’s showed me some warm up exercises which helped a lot for me. At that time I was also learning to play and sing at the same time, so there was definitely a lot of practicing. After we did "Metal" I checked out a Melissa Cross DVD. She teaches a lot of big name metal bands singers, and that changed a lot for me. After I got a proper warm up routine my singing was sent through the roof. I used it on the Trivium tour, on the Iced Earth tour, and my singing just got better and better. At the time when we were doing "Live at the Masters of Rock" I was as ready to record an album as ever, and that’s what we did.
As for the latest album, the riffing and solos is more vital and fresher sounding than in a long while, still, it was the melodies that really got me hooked. Was the composing of melodies given special attention to this time around?
Padden: Yes and No. A lot of the times what happen is…
Waters: HEY THERE!!! (A playful voice shouts from outside the backstage area door.)
Padden: Hey, what are you doing, jerk… (Smiles)
Padden: That’s Waters for you, he he. Anyway… What usually happens is Jeff writes all of the music first, and then he wrote most of the lyrics on this record, I wrote two songs. This record was planned much more, we structured the lyrics to the guitars so I could easier play and sing them at the same time. As opposed to some of our earlier stuff which I just can’t play and sing at the same time. But after three albums together I and Jeff pretty much know what each other like, so it’s much easier to bounce ideas off each other. On this record Jeff knew that I was feeling more ready to rock, so he pretty much let go of the leach and let me try out whatever I wanted to do.
So how has the reception been for the latest album?
Padden: Great, I haven’t heard a single bad review.
Is there any difference between your reception in Europe and USA?
Padden: Yes. Europe has always been a stronger market for us. I think it is because our fans there are more dedicated. But it’s hard to say since we haven’t had much push in North America from record labels. It’s really hard to predict the fans reaction in North America since we haven’t played there for so long. Annihilator is definitely more popular in Europe, Germany in particular.
As for the opening track "The Trend", it’s got a long intro and a lot of riffs going on. Some might consider it an odd choice for an opener as an in-your-face starter is usually an Annihilator trademark. Why was this track chosen to open the album?
Padden: I don’t know. But I think Jeff wanted to have a song with an intro feel to it. But instead of placing an acoustic thing we used a lot of kick ass solos instead.
The song in itself is filled with enough solos and riffs for any other metal band to create the better half of an album. Is this how productive Annihilator feels these days?
Padden: I don’t think any particular thought was put into that. Jeff didn’t even know that the album contained as many as 66 solos until one of the guys from the label, who had counted them, pointed it out. That was how it came to be a promotional sticker, because Jeff felt that people have to know that there are 66 solos on this album.
The production is really tight as well. What can you tell me about the recording process?
Padden: We had a lot more time to work on it this time around. Usually it has been a rush to put out an album every year, but since we were between labels at the time, we had a lot of time while sorting out labeling crap. So we had a lot of time to send different samples of production back and forth. It was cool as I really value production myself. A lot of the music I listen to has really high production value, newer stuff that is, and I am very particular about that sort of thing. So Jeff wanted to get some of that newer production values on the album while maintaining the Annihilator sound at the same time. As he sent me mixes, I compared them to stuff I was listening too and said more of this and this, less of that and that. It was cool.
So what was the music you listened to?
Padden: All kinds of stuff, like Gojira, Periphery, Devin Townsend, Porcupine Tree, Between The Buried And Me, Soilwork, Textures. I like my big, tight productions.
Now for the artwork. The classic Annihilator logo has been abandoned for a freshly carved forehead. Why was this decision made?
Padden: It was not done on purpose. Jeff had the basic idea for the cover from a dream that he had, for the face itself. He had a dream about this girl. So he gave the idea to the guy who has done our last three record covers, and said that he had this idea for a kind of Linda Blair, Exorcist thing. The cover you see is the first thing he sent back, so the logo carved in the forehead was done by the artist. So we was like, were will we put the logo, and he was like, well… it is already there…so you don’t need to if you don’t want, and it ended up looking really cool.
So the classic logo isn’t abandoned then?
Padden: Oh no. I’m sure it will appear again.
Is the cover artwork conveying something to the audience or is it more a personal thing?
Padden: I don’t know. I could say a number of things, but you know, it’s like one of those things. Like the song "Alison Hell". We always have to play that song. It’s like the ghost of Alice is haunting Annihilator, you know, we cannot get rid of her. Also, the album has a meaner outlook which fit our tougher approach on this album musically.
Is there any correlation between cover artwork and lyrical content?
Padden: Not so much. We tend to write about a lot of different things, but mostly personal experiences or stuff that have caught our attention recently. There is no specific theme to Annihilators music, as far as lyrical content goes.
Any words for our readers and your fans in Norway?
Padden: As far as Norwegian fans goes, thanks for listening to something other than black metal, and coming to our shows. Hopefully we can steal some audience away from Dimmu Borgir (who played the same evening at Sentrum Scene).