As you may have seen me mention in a recent post, Loud Noises turned a year old about two weeks ago now. If you've followed the blog for any length of time, you may also have seen me mention that I've got some things in the works, simmering away in the background, that I couldn't yet unveil to the world. But none of those things has ever really amount to much more than continued simmerings. Until now.
I'm not really a serious enough music journalist -- and frankly I'm not
really bold enough a person -- to call someone up on the phone and
conduct a competent interview with them. Or Skype them for an interview,
or whatever the modern equivalent is. But e-mail... E-mail I can do.
With that in mind, today I'm very excited to be able to present to you
the first of what will hopefully be a series of e-mail Q & A's with
some very cool people from some very cool bands. I've cleverly decided
to call this series Twenty Questions, as the number of questions I've
settled upon is twenty (like the classic game, guy!). Some of these
questions will be (if the gods allow it) deep, thought-provoking, and
above all interesting questions about the bands, their music, and the
industry. Some of these questions will also be silly.
But I swear to you here and now: there will be twenty of them. And
serious or not, they'll all be the kind of stuff I'm interested in
knowing about my favourite bands, so it's fingers crossed that maybe
something will end up being interesting to some of you as well.
First up to the plate and onto the memorial photo wall of dudes cool
enough to actually answer my questions is the singer from Guelph's
progtacular Mandroid Echostar. But I should really let him introduce
himself, so with further ado, here's the first installment of Loud
Noises Twenty Questions. Enjoy.
LN: OK solider, we’ll start with your name, rank and serial number (ie:
for readers who don’t know, who are you, where are you from, and from
which band do you hail?)
MC: I am Michael Ciccia and I do the vocals for Mandroid Echostar and we are from Guelph Ontario, Canada
- LN: Right off the bat, I feel I have to ask, what’s the story behind the name Mandroid Echostar?
Hahaha yeah, we get that one a lot! I wish I had this crazy story that
was extremely funny and meant a lot more then it did. But the truth is,
when our bass player (Adam Richards) was in highschool he was not a big
fan of going to calss. So him and his buddies would skip school and go
off to some place they called "The Bunny Trail". I have no idea what the
hell it is myself. But anyway, as they partook in recreational
activities they decided they should write about their adventures and did
not want to use their real names. So a friend of his actually came up
with the name Mandroid Echostar for himself and Adam fell in love with
him and told him that he was going to name his band that one day. And he
did. Not overly exciting lol.
- LN: Michael, forgive
me if you get this all the time, but has anyone ever told you that you
kinda looks like Claudio Sanchez from Coheed and Cambria? (And at times
kinda sound a little bit like him? Not a negative comparison though!
Claudio is badass, and you’re not too shabby yourself.)
Well... let's put it this way. You are not the first person to say that
TODAY! hahaha I have been getting that comparison ever since Second
Stage Turbine Blade came out. It is actually how I first heard about
Coheed. People just kept telling me I looked like this guy, so I
eventually had to check them out. And they are amazing, so I became a
fan. I mean, a handsome darker dude, with big curly hair that has a
higher register voice, I get it hahaha. There are worse people to be
compared too. I take it as a HUGE compliment. Claudio is an incredible
musician and really handsome. Did I mention that? hahaha
LN: So far, you’ve done a guitar playthrough video from “The Kingdom
and the Crown”. How did that come about? Any plans for more
MC: I mean the real simple answer is that
people just love videos. You can put out as many songs and pictures and
facebook posts as you want, but nothing gets attention like a video. We
saw this increasingly rising trend with the playthroughs being so damn
popular and we jumped on the train. People who love guitar and music,
love to analyze parts and playing style and it gets them involved with
your music. It also springs up people doing their own covers of your
songs, which is an awesome thing to see. We will be doing some more
playthroughs in the near future, but we have some other stuff to finish
- LN: What was your experience like on last
September’s “Hello? Yes, This Is Prog” tour with Intervals and Ever
Forthright? How did you get involved with the aforementioned sweet-ass
MC: That tour was AMAZING!!! For 3 bands that had
played a combined 8 shows (I believe) before that toured happened, it
was crazy to see all the kids that came out. The tour basically happened
because Intervals made a FB post about possibly doing a tour and who
they should go out with. Matt, our drummer was friends with Aaaron
Marshall of Intervals and had a bunch of mutual friends so he messaged
him about possibly planning a tour together. Aarron was already in talks
with Ever Forthright, so we all combined forces, booked the tour
ourselves and had the best 2 weeks ever. Those 2 bands are some of the
most genuine nice people in the entire world and absolutely mind blowing
musicians. We all learned so much and became such good friends. We all
still talk on a regular basis. Who knows maybe we will all hook up and
do another tour one day.
- LN: Any plans on the horizon for more touring? Eastern Ontario (*cough* Kingston *cough*) would love to have you back...
Absolutely!!! Touring is always in the plans. We really just love to
play live, it is why we do all this. For the upcoming months we are just
planning our album roll out and playing some festivals around Ontario.
We are hoping to do some more touring in the early fall. We have not
played Kingston yet, so we will do our best to get out that way just for
you hahaha! If we could just quit our jobs and live in a van all year
round, we would. But we like to eat and have somewhere to sleep. Those
are both really awesome things hahaha.
- LN: Speaking of Ontario, what’s the metal/heavy music scene like right now in your neck of the woods?
Right now it is awesome! There are so many amazing and different bands
coming out from our area. Bands like Wakeless, Arkham Awaits and our
buddies from London in Anu Beginning. Very different in styles but
incredibly wicked and talented. The scene really dropped off for a while
here. I have been doing this for many years and I saw it at its peak
and saw it pretty much at rock bottom. We have a production company
called GAIN Music that kind of took over the scene the last few years
and brought the heavy music scene back to life. Them along with
musiclives.ca have breathed new life into Metal in the 519 and it is an
absolute awesome thing to be a part of.
- LN: Have you
had any interest from any labels? Is that something you’re interested
in/looking for, or are you content to stay indie and continue
distributing your stuff online via means like Bandcamp?
We have had a few nibbles but nothing overly serious. When I was
younger I would have said "Yes, label! I want to be signed ASAP, it is
the only way to do this". But as time goes on and social media and the
internet just make everything so easily available to do yourself, I am
pretty content right now doing it ourselves. That is not to say I would
not like to have label support and be signed. Because I do! It just has
to be the right label that fits us and with the right deal where we can
still be who we are. I guess what all this easy exposure from the
internet gives bands is the option to be a little more selective when
choosing who or when to sign. Which in my opinion is a great thing.
LN: While we’re kinda sorta on the subject of Bandcamp, I got your
first EP via your Bandcamp page. Can you divulge any hints about
possible distribution methods for your next release?
We will still likely be using bandcamp this time around. We are also
looking into using itunes and setting up an online merch store with
ManageMerchUSA so people can get t shirts and physical copies if they so
choose to do so. We will also have lots of copies at any of our shows
and we may also be doing a run of vinyl for something different. We are
pretty stoked on all of it!
- LN: You’re in the midst
of recording the aforementioned next release. What kind of sound can we
expect when it comes out? More of the same Mandroidy goodness? Something
completely different? Somewhere in the middle?
can absolutely expect some of the same feel from our first EP. A couple
of the songs were partially written the same time our EP came out, so
the writing style is very similar. But you are also going to find a lot
of different vibes on some of the songs as well. Everyone had a bigger
hand in writing this batch of songs and it makes for a very interesting
blend of all of our tastes. There is some of the heaviest stuff we have
written on this album and there is also some of the poppiest stuff we
have written as well. We are all super pleased with how it has turned
out so far and even more excited for people to finally hear it!
LN: On the topic of your next release, can you give us any “bigger
picture” type details, like whether or not it’ll be a full length album,
or if you’ve got any themes/concepts in mind? (Basically I’m interested
in hearing just about anything you have to say about your next release.
Can you tell?)
MC: Well, the next release will be 6
songs with an intro track. It will be pushing the 30 minute mark which
would technically make it a full-length, but we are not calling it that.
We are calling it a long EP hahaha. We wanted to do a full length, but
time and money are a major factor when putting out new music. We really
wanted to get some new stuff out there and we figured putting out 10
songs independently within a year or so was alright. As for themes and
or concepts, you will just have to wait for that, we can’t give away all
of our secrets!
- LN: I wouldn’t use this word to
describe you guys (at all) but I’m still curious about your opinion:
what do you think of the term “djent”? What about the sound/subgenre
it’s describing? Has djent run its course?
be very honest with you, all of these genres, subgenres and any other
way people try to categorize music confuse the hell out of me! I have
always lived by the motto “good tunes are good tunes”. If you like it,
listen to it. It shouldn’t matter what the hell people want to call the
genre. As for “djent” specifically, it is HUGE right now, and I don’t
think it is going anywhere for a while. We listen to a bunch of bands
that are lumped into that category and we love them. There is always a
time and place for music. Sometimes you want to hear the heaviest brown
note of a breakdown, and other times you want to hear some sweet sweet
melody and clean vocals. That’s why music is amazing, there is always
something for everybody and whatever mood you are in.
- LN: OK, time for a few fun ones:
Star Wars or Star Trek? Why?-
MC: As a band I will say Star Wars. Our guitar player James has an
entire half sleeve dedicated to Star Wars and everyone just loves the
movies. It is a fairly common topic of discussion at band practice.
LN: Metallica or Slayer? Pour quoi?
MC: Maaaaan, this is a tough one because I don’t particularly love
either of these bands. I am a late “Metal” bloomer. I jumped on the
train later in life. I have a few albums from both bands and I do really
like a lot of their stuff. But for a quick answer I will say Slayer
simply because after seeing Metallica’s documentary the dudes in Slayer
seem way cooler to hang out with hahaha.
- LN: Favourite android? Or perhaps favourite mandroid?
MC: Iphone for sure. I love that damn thing. I am on it constantly with
band updates and emails and such. I have to charge it like 3 times a
day. I would be lost without it. My life is in there. As for my
favourite Mandroid, I can’t say I will hurt some peoples feelings
- LN: If you could make everyone stop what they’re doing and listen to one song right this minute, what song would it be?
This good sir is one hell of a tough question. There are so many songs
that I love for different reasons. Picking one that incorporates
everything I love is hard. I will say Dirty Diana by Michael Jackson
because every time I hear it I can’t help but get into it. I love that
song. It is so dirty and powerful. So go listen to it!
- LN: If you could ask any member of any band any question, who would it be and what would you ask?
MC: I would ask Claudio Sanchez what shampoo and conditioner he uses.
It is hard to find another guy with my hair that I can talk products
with. His hair always seems so full and light, I am very interested!
- LN: Dream Tour: who would you guys open for, or who would open for you?
MC: Easy question! I would call it the Canadian Bacon Extravaganza (or
something to that effect). We would open the show, then Today I Caught
the Plague would be after us, Protest the Hero after them and the night
would finish with RUSH!!!!!! Super Canadian, super progressive and the
fact that I love those 3 bands to death doesn’t hurt either! Lol I need
to make this happen before RUSH retires!
- LN: Almost done. What have you been listening to lately?
MC: I work at a record store, so I get a lot of music cheap. I listen
to all kinds of things and buy stuff based on their album art sometimes.
As for the 3 CD’s in my car right now it is the new Paramore, new
Fallout Boy and the album Close the Distance by Go Radio. I am in a bit
of a pop music kick at the moment. I love that shit! Actually I listen
to a lot of pop all the time. haha
- LN: Last one! What’s your favourite metal album of all time?
City of Evil by Avenged Sevenfold! That CD basically changed my life. I
always loved heavy music, but I did not love all of the screaming. I
need some vocal melodies and hooks to really keep my attention. I love
some screaming too, but I need a blend of both to really get into it. So
When I heard this album I was blown away. It was heavy, it was catchy,
it had shredding guitars and just about everything else I wanted to hear
in an album. I listen to that CD all the time even to this day. I have
seen them live 4 or 5 times and I will go anytime they come around. Some
of their later stuff has not been so hot, but they will always have a
place with me no matter what because of City of Evil!
Bam! There you go. Big, big shout out/thank you to Mike from Mandroid
for being, as I said, a guy whose coolness is great enough that it can't
possibly be diminished by answering a handful of my stupid questions. I
hope he had half as good a time answering my questions as I did reading
his answers. And I hope the whole thing has been at least mildly
entertaining for you to read, since I hope to make this a semi-regular
series. Be sure to check out Mandroid Echostar on Facebook, Bandcamp, and Youtube, and stay tuned for their upcoming long EP.
A few of my reactions to Mike's responses, before we go:
any story that results in the name "Mandroid Echostar" is interesting
for that reason - doesn't have to be an epic story to end up with that
name entering the world.
- now THAT is one badass tour line-up. Canadian Bacon indeed!
- very interesting answer with City of Evil,
and actually one I can kinda relate to. I was into a lot of
emo/screamo/core bands back in the day (and still am into some of them,
even if only nostalgically) but Avenged Sevenfold was one of the bands
that really started getting me into the heavier, more straight-up metal
side of things, particularly with their Sounding the Seventh Trumpet and Waking the Fallen albums.
Aaaaand that about wraps it up for this first round of Twenty
Questions. Do you know of a band you think would deign to answer my
silly questions? Perhaps you or someone you know is in a band, you're
thinking "Hey! I have answers to those questions! Let my voice be
heard!" Well, to that I say, put your money where your handparts are and
start typing. Leave a message in the comments below with band
suggestions, question suggestions, or really anything else. Later