TRAVELER, who are now rounded out by vocalist Jean-Pierre Abboud (also of Gatekeeper), second guitarist Toryin «Junior» Schadlich, bassist Dave Arnold (ex-Striker) and drummer Chad Vallier, are releasing their breathtaking debut album. We talk with founding member Matt Ries about it. One of the most amazing heavy metal debut albums of the last 10 years, at least.
Hi Matt, your demo from last year rised high expectations about your debut, did you feel any pressure about it?
I think there was a healthy bit of pressure. But it was important not to let it get to our heads too much. We’re all in it for the love of the music. Of course, it’s always a little disappointing when a band can’t deliver a solid full length. But given what little expectations I had out of all of this. I would’ve been happy just knowing the demo did so well. Seems like people like the full length. So, I’ll drink to that!
Traveler was formed in 2017 but I think there were several changes in the lineup during 2018, how did it affect the composition of your debut album?
There technically wasn’t any line up changes so far haha. It started out just myself and JP doing everything. And getting my friend Jan Loncik to do session drums. Jan wasn’t interested in a new project. So after the demo was released, I was able to put together the full line up that you see today. All the songs were written by myself. So it didn’t have much of an effect on anything, really. I’m just excited to be jamming with such amazing musicians!
All clear now. Traveler is a Canadian band, a country that is living a big blast in terms of Metal and especially heavy metal bands, names as Striker, Cauldron, Gatekeeper, Cromlech, etc. It seems you are destined to join that Vip Club…
Haha, I wasn’t aware there was such a prestigious club! But I see what you’re sayin’. It’s nice to get recognition for our efforts. It’s still early in the game for us though. There’s no signs of slowing down at all. But I’d feel more established after a few albums under our belt. So we’ll see what the future holds!
For those who has not listened to any song of yours I think legendary Omen’s sound would be a clue of what you are able to offer
I guess that’s a fair comparison. There’s no shortage of love for Omen in the Traveler camp. At the same time, I never had them in mind as an influence in our sound. But it’s cool to hear what kind of comparisons people come up with. No complaints about being tossed into the USPM category.
The album is released on February 22 via Gates of Hell Records, satisfied with the signing?
Hell yeah! The GOH crew has treated us so well. Far beyond what I could have expected. They have a genuine love for the music. And that’s what matters most. I’ve seen the way some labels treat bands. It can be pretty awful. So we’re thankful to be a part of GOH. I can see a long lasting future with them.
Time to talk in detail about your debut. First of all, Jean-Pierre Abboud really makes the diffenrence with other bands, in my opinion. Moreoever, I think his personality as vocalist grows year by year and album by album, what do you think?
For sure! I’ve been following his stuff since the Borrowed Time days. That’s how I knew he would be the right man for the job. He does an amazing job in Gatekeeper. But it’s nice to hear him with this style of music behind him as well. His voice definitely matured over the years. And his dedication is amazing. He’ll be in it for the long haul.
Jean-Pierre also shares vocal duties with comrades Gatekeeper, so the question arises easy: will he be able to combine his activity in both bands?
Oh yeah. I don’t think there will be any issues there. I’ve been friends with the boys in ‘Keeper for a long time. We have nothing but respect for each other. And we certainly wouldn’t try to prevent each other from doing anything. So far, we’ve been able to schedule everything accordingly. And again, JP’s insane dedication makes this a lot easier for all of us.
Correct me if I’m wrong Matt, but I think Jean-Pierre lives in the US, not in Canada, it seems that would make even more difficult to coordinate efforts in both bands. Change of residence is in the air? Or maybe the band might relocate in the US…?
It can be challenging. But really, as long as everyone shows up prepared, we have no problems. Just gives us that much more of a push to treat this professionally. So far, there’s been no need to change residences. JP did try to move to Vancouver at one point. But getting the proper work visas in order is easier said than done. But we make it work! Where there’s a will, there’s a way.
I know well about the visa issue in Canada by some friends and its really hellish. Classic heavy metal all the way is what we are gonna find in your debut, right?
I believe so! Listen for yourself. It’s up to the listener to decide.
The album comprises three songs from the band’s debut demo, along with five brand-new compositions, although they make a compact pack. Any variation in the old songs recorded in the demo?
Given the great response from the demo recordings. I didn’t want to change too much. Why fix what isn’t broken? The differences you’ll hear are trading solos with Toryin. And properly recorded drums haha. The drums on the demo were played on an electric kit! Also, I think JP’s vocal delivery is much stronger on these new recordings.
I would say guitars sound as they should in a heavy metal band, no surprises are good in this case
I guess there’s a formula to be had. But if you’re playing cookie cutter, or more or less «stock» riffing. That can get a little boring. And more so boring to actually play. I see nothing wrong with a few surprises here and there. Should be able to play freely. It’s all about feel.
This leaves another question: in terms of composition tasks who has more weight or defines more the style of the band?
Before I formed the band I had all the songs written by myself. So I suppose that would be me haha. But I’d rather not keep it that way. It’s way more fun to bounce ideas off everyone else in the band. And I want everyone to contribute their own styles. That’ll come in time.
Sure. Big choruses is another strong point in your songs
I guess it’s always a little more fun when the choruses stand out. Something you can sing along to. Again, that’s also sticking to that classic formula. Doesn’t always have to be that way.
Any favorite in the album?
That’s a tough one! Fallen Heroes might stand out a little more. But I like all of them.
Me too hahaha. With a so brilliant debut upon the desk, expectations only can grow for your sophomore album. Working on it already, any songs in the drawer or time for a break?
I have about 5 new songs I’ve been working on for the next album. So the ball is rolling smoothly! I think what we are mostly focused on at the moment is making sure we put on a killer live performance. No time for a break!
Yeahhhh. Gatekeeper is embarking on a tour through Europe in some weeks from now, would happen the same with Traveler?
I can see some sort of a tour in our future for sure. I think that’s more of a goal for next year. We do have festivals and other dates lined up for this year. This year will be a nice ice breaker into the live setting.
Congratulations for your great album, Matt, if you wish to add something…
Thank you! Hope to see everyone raising their fists at Keep It True and Legions Of Metal. Lot’s more good shit in the works. And thank you everyone for all your support! FEEL THE REIGN OF STARBREAKER!!!