Well howdy, stranger. Beginning to wonder if, after six months or so of radio silence, I'd ever be back with another Twenty Questions interview? Oh ye of little faith...
Yes, it's true, it has once again been far too long, but I am indeed back with another twenty of my inane questions for another one of heavy music's up and coming bands. Today we're going to learn a little more about some pretty complex, pretty progressive instrumental metal from Matt Shaheen and Martin Andres, guitarists from Pomegranate Tiger. Take a look.
- LN: OK, I’m going to start as I always do, by asking you to identify yourself and the band you play for.
Matt: Pomegranate Tiger
Martin: I play lead guitars and write music for Pomegranate Tiger.
- LN: Normally I ask about a band’s name, but I’ve read before that yours comes from the work of Salvador Dali. Are you fans of Dali’s work? What’s your favourite piece?
Martin: Yes we are all huge Dali fans! There are a few…Obviously “Dream caused by the flight of a bee around a pomegranate a second before awakening.” Another is one titled “The Ship”, and other untitled paintings. for example the female figure with a head of flowers.
- LN: Your musical style is... varied, to say the least – but in the best possible way. What or who would you say are some of your strongest influences?
Matt: BTBAM, Animals As Leaders, Meshuggah, Dream Theater, Opeth, Periphery, Gojira
Martin: Chopin, John Williams, Roland Dyens, pretty much all of Matt’s answers…This list can be never ending really since we don’t particularly draw influence from a select few artists.
- LN: Matt and Martin, in your playthrough videos it looks like you play a mixture of 6-, 7-, and 8-string guitars, splitting the lead and rhythm duties up between the guitars with the “conventional” number of strings and those with the extras. Is this a conscious decision you make when composing, or is this separation just something that happens?
Matt: When we started the band Martin only had a 6 string guitar and I played a 7. As we wrote we just kind of kept that going since I favoured that extended range instruments. Currently I’m playing 8 string guitars more often than not.
Martin: I grew up playing a classical 6 sting guitar and have just stuck with it to this day. The extended ranged guitars never really interested me. Call me traditional but I think there is always more to work on even without having extra strings. Using a 6 string for myself, and having Matt play 7 and 8 strings is a very conscious decision that is used for composing. Most of the riffs in PT are composed on a 6 string, and then later arranged to have a 7 or 8 string guitar support the 6 string.
- LN: You guys are from Windsor, Ontario, which isn’t really that far from me in the grand scheme of things (other end of the province) but then I don’t really get out much. So I’m curious: what’s the metal/heavy music scene like right now in your neck of the woods?
Martin: I live in Los Angeles now so to be honest, I’m not too sure what the last year or 2 has looked like for metal in Windsor. Southern Ontario definitely has some amazing talent as far as prog and metal goes. Windsor itself has never seemed to be a breeding ground for metal bands breaking through in my opinion.
- LN: A while back I heard talk that you guys, along with friends of the blog Mandroid Echostar, were opening for Protest the Hero on a few Canadian dates this summer, but I haven’t seen your name attached to that mini-tour since. Is that line-up just wishful thinking on my part?
Matt: That’s definitely actually happening. We’ll be on a mini Ontario tour with them from August 5th -10th
Martin: definitely not just wishful thinking. We will be there!
- LN: Speaking of touring (or at least hypothetical touring), do you guys have any shows on the horizon, or plans for any shows?
Matt: We do but you’ll just have to wait to find out.
Martin: Yes! Lots of plans for the upcoming future, but nothing confirmed just yet.
- LN: You’ve got a pretty awesome debut album under you belt. What’s next for you guys? Is album number 2 in the works?
Matt: Very much so, we’ve started pre production on it and looking for a possible release later on this year hopefully.
Martin: Album number 2 is in the works. The next album is already written, just starting to demos and pre-production!
- 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?
Matt: We are happy with our current situation and are more of a DIY kinda team, not to say that outside help is not welcome we just sometimes have a hard time letting go of the responsibilities.
Martin: We have had interest from labels but truthfully don’t want anything to do with them at the moment. We love the full control we have over our ship and we’d like to keep it that way. Unless there is a some sort of huge benefit from being with a label that we can’t accomplish ourselves I don’t see the point of being on one.
- LN: While I'm on the subject of labels and the ‘industry’ part of the music industry, what is your take on the success of crowdfunding campaigns like that of Protest the Hero for Volition? Is this something you would consider doing?
Martin: I think crowd funding is a great idea depending on the bands intentions, and how much they are willing to give back to their fans. I think it’s amazing that bands can eliminate the middle man being the labels and successfully fund themselves to go out on tour and make music for everyone’s enjoyment. Protest The Hero’s crowd funding campaign for Volition should be an inspiration to all upcoming metal bands that would like to see their own fans, and their own band become a win-win situation. Yes we would consider crowd funding.
- LN: Time for a few rapid fire questions, starting with: Rush or Dream Theater?
Matt: Dream Theater
Martin: Dream Theater
- LN: Coke or Pepsi?
Matt: I hate Pop
Martin: don’t drink pop.
- LN: Star Wars or Star Trek?
Matt: Star Wars
Martin: Haven’t seen either.
- LN: Game of Thrones or The Walking Dead?
Matt: Breaking Bad. BITCH!
Martin: Haven’t seen either.
- LN: Tiger vs. octopus: who wins?
- LN: If you could make everyone stop what they’re doing and listen to one song right this minute, what song would it be?
Matt: World wide Bohemian Rhapsody karaoke!
Martin: Chopin: Preludes, Op. 28: No. 3 in G major Vivace
- LN: If you could ask any member of any band any question, who would it be and what would you ask?
Martin: Hey Petrucci, Burrito’s or taco’s?
- LN: Dream Tour: who would you guys open for, or who would open for you?
Matt: Meshuggah, Animals As Leaders, BTBAM, Periphery
Martin: I want to open for Queen.
- LN: Almost done. What have you been listening to lately?
Matt: Animals As Leaders - The Joy of Motion
Martin: Chopin, The Beatles and Queen
- LN: Last one! What’s your favourite metal album of all time?
Matt: BTBAM - Colors
Martin: Slipknot - selftitled
As usual, before departing I offer my reactions to Matt and Martin's answers, more for my own gratification than because any of you are dying to know:
- I know metal is generally speaking a genre very much influenced by classical music, but it's interesting to see a modern band so visibly and unabashedly into stuff like Chopin. It definitely shows in the band's sound.
-Matt and Martin get to share the honour of making my day, because Pomegranate Tiger, Mandroid Echostar, and Protest the Hero is one hell of a lineup. Can't wait for the Kingston show on August 10th, keep your eyes peeled for a follow-up pit report.
- Also can't wait for a second PT album. I can only imagine what's in store for the follow-up to something like Entities.
- I find it interesting that even bandmates can be divided on the age-old question of who would win a fight between a tiger and an octopus.
- Lastly, both Matt and Martin's choices for favourite metal album of all time are on point. I've always been more of an Iowa fan myself, but you can't argue the importance and impact of the self-titled from Slipknot. And Colors, well, Colors is just a phenomenal record.
And that'll about do it for this one. Big thanks to Matt and Martin, whose work you should check out via Facebook or Bandcamp if prog, instrumental, or technical metal happens to be your thing. If you've got a few minutes you could have your face melted off today.
Oh, and I promise it won't be so long between interviews next time. I've already got some ideas that I'm sure you'll dig. Until then, stay tuned.