Bio: Haniel Adhar: Hello lady Obscure. Thanks for setting up this interview. Markradonn was something that actually begun in 1997. I just didn’t know it was “Markradonn” at the time. I started writing a lot of lyrics about my personal experiences, dreams, visions, feelings, thoughts, etc… a lot dealing with mental illness, suicide, spirituality, and so on… I was also taking guitar lessons with Joey Lodes (Maelstrom from NY).
When my band at the time broke up (I was doing just vocals), I decided that I wanted to do something much more extravagant and more experimental, but in NY I couldn’t find the musicians. So I kinda put it on ice, and just kept writing songs and working on my guitar playing for about 10 years.
Fast forward to 2010: I was in Florida, my father had just passed away from a brutal fight with Cancer, and at his funeral I looked at him and thought to myself “I have a lot that I need to do before it’s my turn…”. So I started working with some musicians, and I found Matt who started to incorporate French Horn into my stuff. Then I met Tim Carter through an ad in Sam Ash, and he started jamming out the drums. Jon Katz came in and jammed out on Timpani one day and we were all like WHOA. This is amazing. We then added timpani to the first demo song “Final Dying Breath”, and then we went on from there. Late in 2012, Chris (Trumpet) and Matt backed out and I recruited Nick Weaver and Beka West to finish the brass ensemble parts, and Nick took over the few fretless bass parts that we needed to do. He’s actually a great bassist but we really needed someone to take over the French Horn, which we run through an effects processor and call it the “Demon Horn”.
Dennis was brought in to play bass, but then we started working on some hand percussion parts, which resulted in the song “Cathartic Spiritual Purgation”, which surprisingly is one of our more popular songs from the EP. It was just an instrumental we threw together in about an hour, and we figured it would sound good on the EP.
Genre: I don’t really understand the question [of genre], but I will try to answer as best as I can. I personally am not very big on the whole “genre/subgenre” thing. I think the sub classification of metal to the point of micromanaging corrupts the entire style of music. It reduces bands to pigeon-holed categories, and if a band doesn’t fit into such a category, then they are considered “bad”. This is a huge problem in metal, because this mentality curbs innovation and creativity, which is why the past decade you’ve been hearing a lot of “me-too” bands, what I call “clone-core” bands, and the “post” prefix on what seems to be every single new band that comes out lately. It drives me crazy; either it’s fucking metal or it fucking isn’t.
As far as what “genre” we may fit into…who knows. It is death metal. With Horns and Timpani and a bunch of other instruments. I don’t know how else to classify it…
Ideas about the album: This is a good question, and I am glad you asked it. I think there was much that we did well, especially in how we arranged the songs with the brass and timpani, how the drums came out, and how the vocal tone and sound were very close to what I imagined. We also figured out a pretty good process of creating the material and the various layers. Using Cubase to create a tempo map has been really helpful. I am pleased with the energy in the songs and how they sound “raw” and old school. Internal Hate Unbounded is the song that I think came out the best overall.
As far as what I think we can improve upon, well, there are a few things. First, I’d use different ideas on mic’ing the guitar cabs, to get a more aggressive sound. Next, I would only use the horn mute for the French Horn, and not for the trumpet or trombone. See, on Frenzied Winter Sorrow, we used a special “mute” that is inserted in the bell of the horn, kinda like a “guitar pickup” but for a horn. We then ran it through a processor with effects. It sounded cool with the French horn, but the trumpet lacked its natural, rich tone, and the trombone didn’t have the same definition. We only did that with one song though, so the songs in the future will not be done that way.
I also would re-skin the toms, because the tone of the toms isn’t exactly where it needed to be on the EP. I just ran out of money at that point. I actually got screwed out of nearly $1500 in dealing with 4 or 5 engineers/studios who just did crap work, which resulted in me taking on the entire production myself. In the future, I will be more focused on working with better people, which is definitely something that can be improved on from this production.
Reception: It’s been outstanding, actually. There have been a lot of really good reviews, mostly 9/10 and one 8/10 (I think). A few reviewers really had no idea what the hell we were doing. One guy thought we had some kind of “hurdy gurdy” being played, because he didn’t pay attention to linear notes. He didn’t give us a very promising review, which kind of came across as disjointed and nonsensical. One other guy thought we used keyboards. But other than those two, we have had some really amazing and detailed reviews from the metal media, and I am very encouraged by the response.
Some people when they see “symphonic” they are expecting us to sound like Epica or even this band Hollenthon, and that could not be further from the truth. We are probably more “barbaric” and visceral than those sorts of bands, at least right now. So, I am considering just dropping the whole “symphonic” title because there is an expectation as far as what that means, and we do not meet that expectation.
And it seems that everyone that has heard us has a different way of classifying us; some call us symphonic metal, another guy said progressive black metal; Destiny, our PR Girl, calls us “The Avant Garde”; I mean, we seem to get a different “genre” classification from everyone we talk to.
The fan response has been extraordinary as well. We have raised some money on our funding page, and the fans have been very dedicated and supportive. They want to hear more, that’s for sure.
Preference; live or studio:
Next step; live or studio: Yes, we are working right now on getting ready for live gigs in 2014. Getting the brass section set up is the hard part, and getting the timpani available for a show is even harder. We are probably going to play the first few gigs with just the conventional instruments.
Yeah, we are also working on the completion of CEREMONIAL ABNEGATION PART 1: EXCORIATION OF THE FLESH. We are tweaking and remastering 4/5 EP songs, and adding around 35 minutes of new music, that will expand further on the ideas we used on the EP songs. The EP was just sort of a preview, and the album will be much more in depth both musically and lyrically.
We are expecting the album to come out early in 2014, followed by the next one in late 2014/early 2015.
Future plans: Well, I see 4 albums being released in the next few years. The future looks great because we have so much material that we have on tap. We have a lot of ideas and things we can experiment with, so as long as I am still breathing, Markradonn will have a future. With a little bit of fan support, we can certainly bring a lot to the table.
Tours: One word: Finances. If we can raise the capital for extensive tours, then we are all for it.
Lyrics, themes and concepts: I’ll try to keep this brief, because there is a lot to this answer. The lyrics are a story-arc about a person who is so consumed with his own hatred for life and all of existence that he performs a ritual to not only end his life, but to erase himself from all of existence. The first album, which the EP songs are a “sampler” of deal with the events leading up to this ritual, what I call the “Ceremonial Abnegation”, the details of his ritual suicide, his final few seconds, and his last dying breath and final thought. It is my attempt to understand more about what leads someone to commit suicide (especially ritual suicide), what sort of thoughts and feelings the person may have, and what could happen after the deed is done.
So, a lot of the first album deals with mental illness, psychosis, and self-hatred, but you may also see some hints of regret and sorrow. Actually, the lyrics to “Frenzied Winter Sorrow” are in part about extreme seasonal depression that evolves into madness, which I based off of my own experiences with seasonal depression. It became so debilitating that some years all I want to do is sleep. Much of the lyrical content deals with my own personal experiences, nightmares, ideas, or visions that I have had while in the midst of an episode of depression (seasonal or otherwise).
While the first album is ambitious, and difficult, the second album is even more difficult to pull off. Who knows if we will be able to achieve what we are looking to do, but all we can do is put forth our best efforts and hope it turns out for the best. The second album is kind of a “link” between the 1st and 3rd albums. It doesn’t necessarily happen “after” the character dies, but it provides a “spiritual and philosophical” foundation to the entire story-arc. It will also be a double-CD, so we will be exploring different musical and lyrical concepts on each one.
The 3rd album picks up were the first album leaves off, and gets into what happens to the character after he dies…
It is difficult to answer the rest of the question, because I really don’t know how the elements evolved, other than they pretty much followed my own personal evolution. The stuff just kind of writes itself, and I just go with it, and get some feedback from the rest of the guys.
Composers: I write all of the music, overall. I work out the structures and rhythms with Tim then bring them to Jon, and he and I create a tempo and drum map in Cubase, then we lay down the drums, arrange the horns, and so on…
I also write all of the lyrics, and these lyrics go as far back as 1996.
Inspirations: I personally am very into old school early 90’s Florida and Swedish Death metal. Bands like Death, Cynic, Monstrosity, Obituary, Disincarnate, Nocturnus, At The Gates, Sacrilege, Dismember, Desultory, Dark Tranquility, early In Flames, etc…The bands that really gave me the ideas for using different instruments would be Master’s Hammer (Timpani), Believer, My Dying Bride (they used a French horn on As The Flower Withers that just blew my mind…). Plus, I really love the 60’s and 70’s progressive rock like ELP and YES.
From a vocal standpoint, my main influences would be guys like Tomas Lindberg, Martin Van Drunen, Tim Williams (VOD), Scot Ruth from Ripping Corpse, and very early Nick Holmes. I tend to feel more comfortable with the mid-range/higher pitched type of vocals, but on the EP and the album out of necessity I drop down a little more.
But, the real big influences are not metal at all. I love soundtracks and old school Nintendo scores. Soundtrack composers like Basil Polidouris, James Horner, Christopher Young, Allan Silvestri, Bernard Hermann, Jerry Goldsmith, etc…and early 20th century composers like Gustav Holst and Igor Stravinsky, all were profoundly influential in putting together the ideas of this project. Right now, the biggest influence on the brass section is the “Brass Band of Central Florida”, which Jon plays in. That band is just HUGE sounding…
I am also really inspired by John Zorn and a lot of jazz fusion. I know Tim is really into Dethcore and really groovey heavy metal, while Allen is into black metal and Dio; Dennis is into a wide variety of classic rock and metal, as well as world music. Beka is into death metal and all kinds of classical composers; Nick is a big Dream Theater and Kamelot fan. And Jon Loves Rush.
Preference; cater to the audience or music for its own sake: Well, this is a very good question. There is a fine line that is drawn between playing music for the self and playing music for the other. A lot of artists cross that line for commercial success and fame and glory and all that. But I don’t respect those people. I feel like they are selling their musical souls to the proverbial devil and are bastardizing the true nature of music, which is self-expression. They focus on creating entertainment, and not artistic expression.
Markradonn isn’t about that. It is about creating music that challenges us as musicians but also confronts the listener on a deeper or more aggressive level. It is death metal, yeah, but a re-definition of “death metal” in some respects. The multiple song concepts challenge the listener to pay attention to the whole as opposed to just individual songs. We are living in an age right now where the attention span of the average person is akin to that of a gnat, and we want to challenge that and create content that forces people to pay closer attention for a longer period of time. Like I said, I believe music is about expression. So, we are working on expressing something that we feel is meaningful, and we are simply searching for other people who will find what we are doing to be meaningful as well. But we will never, ever dumb ourselves down to cater to the lowest common denominator and to just expand the fanbase. That’s not why we are doing this. At the end of the day, I still have to look at myself in the mirror and ask myself “did you accomplish what you set out to do?” If I start watering things down just to appeal to a wider audience, then I have to answer to myself and my integrity.
Greatest Accomplishment: Well, my greatest accomplishment so far has been just getting the EP done and released. The amount of tragedy that we had to deal with going back to just 2011 has been awful. We had serious obstacles that almost sank this band before it ever got started.
We had 4 people close to the band die, one of them murdered (my neighbor who was a huge supporter) and another a suicide; and at the time of this writing, our PR Girl, Destiny, is in the IHU recovering from a Kidney Transplant; in July a transformer blew up right outside my house, and I nearly got electrocuted, and then later on that day, the Blue Rhino Propane plant about 1 mile or so from my house blew up. Much of my city had to be evacuated. Jon’s car spontaneously blew up in his driveway, destroying all of his mallets in 2012. I had 6 computer, lap top, and hard drive failures, and I had to rebuild my master computer…twice; 4 engineers screw me out of money, and on top of that, 2 major lineup changes that delayed the EP and album releases by at least a year, as well as one of our band mates getting cancer and has to take a break for a few months to get better. The list goes on and on of the crap we had to deal with; crap that probably could have destroyed this band and project. With all of this stuff happening, I was still able to get the EP out there, and I also finished my PhD to boot. So, regardless as to who may think what, I am pretty darn proud of this EP and what all of us, not just myself, had to overcome to get this CD out for people to hear. A 17 year wait that DEFINITELY was not a walk in the park down the stretch, I can tell ya that much…
Other than that, overcoming my own physical issues in dealing with my arthritis in my hands has been my most important, and laborious accomplishment. At 20 years old, 6 months after I started guitar lessons, I was diagnosed with arthritis and some kind of degenerative joint disease. It was not an easy mountain to climb, but I was able to find some solutions, make some adjustments, and figure out a way to play guitar without too many limitations, except for maybe being able to bend notes, certain types of chord shapes, and stuff like that.
Anything else? Markradonn is completely funded by myself and Allen, and with some help from awesome and generous fans and supporters. For this kind of project to thrive, we need funding and financing to take it to the next level. We are also trying to maintain our musical integrity, and we are trying to avoid the “corporate entanglements” that tend to come from dealing with certain kinds of record labels. So, if you like what you read and are interested in checking us out, please head on down to our funding page and make a donation, and we’ll send you a CD and some other cool stuff. We need a little bit of help from the fans who want to hear something new and different, but not overproduced or “assembly line metal band – sounding”.
Here is the funding page. Thank you for your support! And thanks to Lady Obscure for all of your support as well!