Tom McKay Interview

LOMMCan you give a little biographical and historical info; who is involved in the band, and how did you guys meet up? 
Tom McKay: So, in the long, long ago of… 1997 (so long ago), I was born in Burlington, Ontario. I grew up with my siblings listening to all kinds of music, predominantly classic rock like “The Beach Boys”, and “Bon Jovi”. Not long after my dad remarried, my new step-mom introduced me to the world of classic heavy metal. All of a sudden, Skid Row, Metallica and Guns N’ Roses were on my radar. To be honest, the road to the metal that I’m into now wasn’t that far ahead by this point. By the time I was half-way through high school is when my tastes began to mold, having been exposed to heavier bands like Three Days Grace and Avenged Sevenfold (not super heavy, but compared to Bon Jovi they were the heaviest I’ve gone) and now there was no turning back. Slowly, but surely, I began to go deeper into the murky waters of metal to discover the disturbing creatures found within. Soon, death metal, thrash metal, progressive, symphonic, blackened, you name it! I was thirsty for the blood of these creatures, and sinking my teeth into the sounds made me realize what I was missing out on… uhh, where was I? I somehow got off track and started using diving metaphors that somehow makes me sound more like a vampire than a musician. Anyways, I was in a band for a little bit back in high school that did literally nothing and it wasn’t fueling my newfound drive to create music and so eventually went solo. I’ve always found myself being creative, but this newfound love of songwriting made me feel like a creative hole has been filled. Since then, I’ve experimented with my craft, learned some discipline in the artform and am now unleashing my own creations upon the world… thanks to the internet (no blood is actually being spilt amongst the carnage).

LOMM: Pandemic has taken an emotional toll on everyone yet the arts have been hit especially hard. The musicians are vulnerable to financial upheaval. How have you guys have been holding up?
Tom McKay: I’ve been continuing to write music in my spare time, there are musical projects I’m working on at the moment that have been in the works since before the pandemic, so those haven’t gone away. I’ve also been keeping up with my hobby as the creator/host of “Metal Robot Reviews” on YouTube as much as possible and working on voiceovers as a side-gig.

LOMM: On the other hand you seem to have had a productive time. Is that right?
Tom McKay: Correct, like I mentioned above, I’ve been extra productive now that the bulk of my “work hours” have been at home as a freelance voiceover artist.

LOMM: Modern sounds are my thing J How about you? What does your genre means to you, why did you choose this genre?
Tom McKay: I’ve always had a fondness for the modern sound but also old school aesthetics. Nowadays I can’t listen to an album without noticing how time-aligned the drums are and am just like “Dude, you’re not a solo artist, you have a drummer, use them!” while also realizing that I’ve fallen into that pit myself from time to time. But that’s the thing about metal, it’s a genre that has no real boundaries and no real rules. It means a lot to me as a creator, because I don’t HAVE to stick to any particular style if I don’t want to, I’m free to experiment and try new things and see how they work out.

LOMMHow did the initial musical and thematic elements evolve?
Tom McKay: When you listen to a lot of styles of music, they all start to form a ball. For me, as a music critic, I’ve listened to a lot of music over the past 4 years of doing my show. So whenever I get an idea, it’s usually something I haven’t really considered. While I’m still yet to do anything with most of the ideas I’ve written down, they will come.

LOMM: Are you happy with your product? I mean, what aspects of it do you think you guys nailed, and what parts do you think you could improve upon?
Tom McKay: For me, there’s no such thing as perfection. Because I know, years later, I’m going to look back on some of my best work and go “That was shit! How did I think that was a good idea?” But that’s the beauty of music evolution, the overall scope is always shifting. However, if there was one thing I could definitely improve on, it’s my clean vocals. My last song features a clean vocalist rather than me singing it for a good reason. While I’m capable of hitting the notes I want (when I can write them in my range), the timbre is my biggest weakness. I have the voice for radio, not the voice of an angel. Maybe one day.

LOMMHow has the overall reception been?
Tom McKay: I know my first single “Reign of Fire” was mixed, and for a good reason, it was written originally years ago and was just meant to be the theme song for “Metal Robot Reviews”, so not a lot of thought was put into an actual song. I don’t know, maybe there might be a rewrite if I decide to re-release it as part of an EP or an album. Not sure yet. But my second single “Hung by the Wings of Fate” was way better received. This one was written more recently with many of the writing tricks I’ve learned along the way. If I keep improving, who knows how my future projects will do.

LOMM: What do you see for your future? How is it looking?
Tom McKay: My future is looking like a YouTube guy who’s making music, producing voiceovers and has no free time, so honestly could be worse 😛

LOMM: Could you tell us about the lyrics / themes /concepts you focus on or plan to focus on? How did the ideas come about, and how do they influence the writing process? Who is writing the lyrics?
Tom McKay: So, song ideas can just pop up. I’m a guy with ADHD who doesn’t take the meds for it, which means that my brain is running a million miles a second. So, every once in a while, ideas start popping up. It’s in these moments where I go “Yeah I can probably write about that”, which is how the lyrics of “Reign of Fire” were made. Others are inspired by real world events. “Hung by the Wings of Fate” was written as my response to the COVID-19 protestors back in April/May who wanted haircuts and didn’t want to wear masks. And given a nasty break-up a couple years ago, and the death of people I’m close to, I have other projects I have in store for the future.

LOMMWhat bands do you draw your inspiration from?
Tom McKay: The majority of my inspiration comes from the progressive metal side (Opeth, Dream Theater), the symphonic metal side (Epica, Nightwish) and the music I grew up with (Avenged Sevenfold, Metallica). A combination of all those is the best way to describe the sound I’ve been secretly creating and have already put out.

LOMMWhat’s more important to you? Catering to the audience or music for its own sake?
Tom McKay: I don’t make music for other people, because at that point I can way to easily detach myself from the artform and just make it for vanity. That being said, whenever I put something out, I take notice of the praise and criticism to better myself every single time.

LOMM: Anything else you think your fans should know?
Tom McKay: If you weren’t already aware, aside from making music, I also am the creator/host of a YouTube music review show “Metal Robot Reviews”, which tackles metal music from all over the metal community. I also have a podcast where I talk about all things metal, and everything in between, and (usually) host a separate show (tied to MRR) called “A Very Metal Week”, which is a comedy news show about the previous stories in metal from that week.

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