I’m with Ray LeGrand of Oblivion Myth today. They are a Power Metal band from the States and just this would make this an intriguing conversation! Without further ado…
Lady Obscure: Hey guys. For those who have never experienced Oblivion Myth, how would you describe your sound?
Ray LeGrand: I consider us “American Power Metal”. I make the geographic distinction because European Power Metal tends to have more complex vocal arrangements and be more keyboard oriented, whereas the American Power Metal bands tend to borrow more heavily from thrash. Therefore, the Oblivion Myth sound is more akin to Iced Earth than to Avantasia, for example. Although we do love that European sound and would like to bridge the gap a little more as our sound develops further.
LO: Do you have any recordings available for people to hear?
RLG: Yeah, sure. Our first full length CD, “Between Light and Shadow” was released in 2008 and featured what we would refer to as ‘Oblivion Myth Nashville – Mach I’ lineup. The band is the brainchild of founding member and guitarist Keith Smith and has existed in Florida and Illinois before landing in The Music City (Nashville, TN – USA). The CD featured drummer Patrick Nickell, guitarist Chris Selby, bassist Patrick ‘Doc’ White along with Smith and saw former Fatal Opera front man (which featured Megadeth’s Gar Samuelson on drums) Andy Freeman holding down both vocal duties and keyboards.[lightbox group= title= link=”http://www.ladyobscure.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/04/FRONT_cover-and-back-of-cover-for.jpg”][/lightbox]
LO: Nice… so you guys have a tie to The Big 4?
RLG:Yup and we don’t mind mentioning it!
LO: So, if you are the current vocalist, the lineup has obviously changed at some point. Tell us a little about the current lineup.
RLG: OK, well, the core of the band over the last few years has been Selby, Nickell and of course, Keith Smith. When Andy exited the band, the lineup really seemed to become quite volatile and saw people come and go quite frequently in both the vocal and bass slots. I officially took over the job of vocalist in May of 2010 and the band wound up doing shows as a four piece, with no bassist most of the time for the two years that followed.
We also recorded a number of tracks with that lineup, but at this point have only released “War Child” and the song, “Between Light and Shadow” which was written after the album with the same name.
In 2011, longtime drummer Patrick Nickell left the band to pursue a career in medicine and a few months after that, guitarist Chris Selby left to try his hand at other styles of heavy music. Although Selby did return to the band in 2012, he has since departed again.
LO: Does this have anything to do with the legal troubles we saw in the news?
RLG: Chris has been in and out of the lineup at least three times. His current absence falls on the heels of his recent legal woes and we really don’t want to say much more than that out of respect. We actually haven’t heard from Chris since this whole thing happened, except for when he made arrangements to pick up his rig. So, that’s only one interaction in the last four months. We can tell you that he has been out on bond and that two of the three charges are now behind him. We sincerely hope and pray that things will go well for him when he goes before a Grand Jury. No matter what, he’s our brother.
But, getting back to your initial question; after Nickell vacated the drum throne, we picked up Bob Schultz through a connection we had at Nashville’s famous “Sound Kitchen”. As I like to put it, Patrick was the quintessential Power Metal drummer, where Bob has a lot more Prog tendencies in his playing. He uses the blast beat a little more sparingly than Patrick did, but tends to add a lot more nuance with his hands. Things are on great terms with Patrick and he even filled in for Schultzy when he broke his hand a few months back. And it’s great to see the mutual respect that has developed between these two!
Holding down the bottom end is Randy ‘Cowboy’ Stepp. I gave him that nickname because he is (I think full blood) Iroquois. He loves it because he said no one ever let him be the cowboy growing up! Stepp is actually a guitar player, but wanted to play bass with us. While his turquoise jewelry and feathers tend to be a bit flashy, his playing is not. It’s just straight forward, in the pocket bass and that’s just what we wanted; a nice solid foundation. Plus, he’s a genuinely great guy… Bob is too of course!
LO: So are you getting any help from a label in putting your music out there?
RLG: Unfortunately, no. And this is a tough one for us, because being an American based Power Metal band we wind up interacting with US based labels who really don’t see the draw for our genre. Yet, more than half of our fan base is overseas. So we wind up doing a lot of digital distribution online and self-promoting. While we are wary of the baggage that a label can bring, we would love to enter into a relationship that could help us market and distribute overseas where the majority of our fans are. But of course we are waiting for a label who really believes in us and gets what we do. On the interim, we just roll up our sleeves and do it ourselves!
LO: So you seem pretty committed to the Power Metal genre. How is that working out for you?
RLG: Ha ha! Yeah… You know it’s funny. I, myself, didn’t really embrace the power metal label at first. Honestly, I grew up on Maiden, Malmsteen and Helloween and had heard the terms, “Neo-Classical” and “Prog-Metal” but really wasn’t aware of “Power Metal” until I joined OM. Keith has always been a huge Dream Theater and Symphony X fan.
RLG: And Patrick was really into bands like Demons and Wizards or Blind Guardian and I started to get drawn in to those sounds. Selby was more of a 90’s guy and loved the Smashing Pumpkins and some other bands I just totally rejected. Having come through the 80s let’s just say that the “Emerald Clan of Misery” as I refer to it, had left a really bad taste in my mouth!
Anyway, after really digging into the Power Metal scene I simply cannot see Oblivion Myth in any other light. As I said, we definitely bear less of a resemblance to our European counterparts; having such a deep love for bands like Overkill, Testament and Megadeth as influences. So, here in the States, I think it tends to make us less sought out on the front side. But, once people actually see us – especially those who came up with the same influences as we have – they seem to really dig it! And yes, I have actually billed us as “Beauty and The Beasts” with us being the “Little Girly Band” playing alongside three or four Death/Black-Metal bands and most of the time, the difference pulls people in and we get comments like, “Wow, I thought you guys were totally gonna suck, but you freakin’ rocked!”. It makes me laugh every time that happens!
LO: Ha ha “Beauty and The Beasts” … “Little Girly Band” Those remarks cracked me up Ray! So, you seem to be truly happy with your sound now?
RLG: Well that’s just the thing. I feel like the legacy that OM Nashville Mach-I set before us is a solid foundation and Bob, Randy and I try to honor what that lineup did. But, when you change the ingredients you wind up baking a different cake! Long story short, yes. All four of us are absolutely in love with the sound. It may seem odd to hear, but Oblivion Myth is pretty much our favorite band! We do what we love and love what we do! This lineup is still very much in it’s early stages and the writing we have been doing has a little different feel to it. And yet, it is clearly OM music!
As far as our recorded sound though, no. We have worked with some really great people who have done fine work, but we just don’t feel like we have ever captured our sound in the studio. Maybe we need to follow the KISS model and just do a live record (laughs)!
LO: But the fans are receiving you well?
RLG: That’s the beauty of it. The more we play and the more we push the music out online, the bigger the response! Yes, Keith actually launched the band ten years ago and re-launched it in Nashville about six years ago, but ever since the “War Child” single dropped back in 2011 things really seemed to have picked up. I took over social media shortly after I came in and at the time we had about 1,000 fans across all social media platforms. As of this writing we have connected with over 11,500 people and growth just continues to accelerate!
[lightbox group= title= link=”http://www.ladyobscure.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/04/20130215_BandPhoto_TheRutledge.png”][/lightbox]LO: Sounds like momentum is on your side! What are you doing to keep things moving?
RLG: We have been working hard to pickup regional dates in order to broaden our reach here in America. We are also trying to connect with bands that are a bit higher on the food chain in order to connect with their audiences. We have had successful shows in recent months with Adema and Theocracy, who we will be sharing a stage with again on May 18th at “Flames of Fire” in Elizabethtown, KY. We will also be a part of the Warriors of Metal Open Air family in Ohio again in late June, which features three days worth of killer music including the likes of Meliah Rage, Flotsam and Jetsam as well as Swedish Power Metallers Axenstar, who we will be doing a short multi-state run with after WOMFest.
We are also seeing an increase of quality opportunities coming in and hope to be able to announce even more shows as these are confirmed. Of course fans should watch our OFFICIAL Facebook page (Facebook.com/OblivionMythFanpage) as well as Reverbnation and Twitter for announcements in addition to OblivionMyth.com
LO: Nice website by the way. And I see you just won an award?
RLG: Thanks and yeah! We were honored to win the “People’s Choice Metal Band” category at this year’s Music City Mayhem Awards show. The event is put on by local promoter Bonnie Neves of Dungeon Promotions and is in it’s third year. OM has had nominations in several categories, but People’s Choice is the one that we really wanted, so it was a thrill and great validation to have our name called!
LO: Speaking of the band name… how did you come up with Oblivion Myth?
RLG: Well, Keith would have to give you the full story, but the long and the short of it is that he and other various members of the band through different iterations have been men of strong Christian faith. We have never been a “Christian Band” at least in part because not all members have subscribed to the same principals. But the current lineup could definitely be called “Christians in a band” (laughs). So the name is really explained well in our subtext which says, “Eternity is Real. Oblivion is just a Myth”.
And before you ask, No. We don’t sing “Kum By Yah” or anything remotely close to that! Keith has been the primary lyricist and I tend to write similarly, so our faith definitely leaks out into our music. But we also have themes that cover space exploration, pulling yourself up by the bootstraps and traditional power metal fodder like the song Knightserrant which speaks of swearing allegiance to the queen and killing the king!
And even when it comes to more spiritual themes, we tend to speak about darkness in order to show it for what we see it as. And yet, we don’t necessarily try to mind-wrestle people into believing as we do. Instead we would rather encourage people to seek the truth and come to grips with their own beliefs, even encouraging them to remove the proverbial books from the shelf and then carefully consider what to keep, what to throw out and what to get in order to fill the gaps that were created. I believe that God gives us the gift of faith, so I don’t have to feel the pressure of “convincing” people. I just speak my mind and let others make up their own – albeit with my words in the mix.
LO: So, what’s more important to you? Catering to the audience or music for its own sake?
RLG: Considering that we see ourselves as part of the audience the two are really one in the same for us. We love our music and have learned not to “try to be” anything other than who we are. People see though that, so when you can just be comfortable with who you are and create what comes natural to you it tends to connect with people who have the same mindset. Grant it, you might have to work to find those people, but when you do there is an inherent connection that is just undeniable!
LO: Well, thanks for this lovely chat Ray. I will sure be on the lookout for your future material!
RLG: Yeah, this has been a blast. Check back with us in a bit and we’ll tell you what we’ve found around the next bend!
So, want to read and see more about these guys? Here are their Website, Twitter, YouTube, MySpace (and here), Instagram, ReverbNation and FaceBook!
Finally below is the song , Ray was telling us about.
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