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ScreamKing's Joe Lawson: "Honor, loyalty, heroic courage, compassion. These are forgotten values in our society today"

Interview with Joe Lawson from ScreamKing
by Lior "Steinmetal" Stein at 08 August 2021, 7:34 PM

The image of the warrior, that hero that fights for the right, the courageous individual that never fears the challenge, that is willing to do whatever it takes in order to protect his loved ones. Are there any heroes left nowadays? Are these people only a played part in an 80s movie or is it possible that there is a hero in everyone, only waiting to burst out and not as a warrior figure. ScreamKing's latest album, “Thee Indomitable Spirit”, shares the true nature of a sacrifice, against the odds and so on. Steinmetal had a pleasure to talk with Joe Lawson, also of Dragonlore, about his continued project that has only been active in the shadows

Hello Joe, it is great to have you once again for a conversation on Metal Temple online Magazine, and this time around with one of your side projects, ScreamKing. How have you been doing?

I’m great, thanks for having me once again.

To think that last time we chatted was right before hell broke loose around the world with the Covid-19 pandemic. And here we are, with things still a bit unsettled, not really knowing if we are getting back to a new normal or rather going backwards. How do you feel about this last year and half? What are your thoughts?

Boy, that is a loaded question. I try to find the silver lining in hard times, so for me I guess I just think about the extra time I got to spend with my family and the people I love. I was able to complete the recording of the new ScreamKing album “Thee Indomitable Spirit” as well as writing and doing pre-production for a new Dragonlore album. You must stay positive and find a way to adapt the best you can.

After my knowledge of Dragonlore, and thanks to your introduction, I came to know ScreamKing and its new, and third album, “Thee Indomitable Spirit”. Frankly, I remember a press release earlier on, from a recent PR that did service to you guys, that the album was supposed to be released near the end of 2019. Was that the initial plan? Why the shift in release date?

Yes, originally, we had hoped to release the album in 2019. We had enough material to do that, but we were in such a good place writing that we wanted to keep writing songs and pick the best from the pile. We ended up writing 18 songs total and narrowed it down to 14 for the release. Also, I was working on the Dragonlore album in 2019 and Rafael had a studio project he was involved in throughout that year.

With the album being straightforward, and we will get to the musical part shortly, “Thee Indomitable Spirit” appears to be focused on heroism, at least the most part of it. In your view, is that the right direction here? If so, how do you feel that the warrior’s path is set through the record?

Yes, in my view nothing could be righteous than the path of the Warrior. I’ve always wanted to write a Warrior based themed album and I’m very happy with how it turned out. Each song tells its own unique story, it's not a concept record but rather a general theme of the album.

That same heroism is also portrayed quite nicely on the album’s artwork, with the Samurai made as a symbol. In the opening song you also mention one of my childhood’s video game hero’s Shinobi. How does the Samurai symbolize what the album’s stands for in general? 

Thank-you, for me the Samurai symbolizes a life of dedication, compassion, loyalty, honor, and service to your people. This is the true path of the Warrior. As for the Shinobi no mono this is what Ninja were called before the 1950’s.

Other than maintaining that heroic imagery, unravels tales about other individuals throughout history, and I might also add myths. How do you find such brutal and rendered evil natured persons such as Caligula and Lady Bathory in connection to the Samurai warrior? Is there that fine line?

Good and evil both exist and are a part of our very own nature and both make for great Metal songs. As far as some of the other songs, they tell their own story and are not connected in theme, but we felt they were great songs and should be included on the record.

“Thee Indomitable Spirit” can be addressed as one of those many albums that shares a form of escapism from the daily troubles, letting the listener sink into a different universe. Nonetheless, is there a message that this album conveys that has a shred of relation to our present, our daily lives?

Yes, I am glad you asked this question: Honor, loyalty, heroic courage, compassion. These are forgotten values in our society today. We should be reminded of them from the spirits of the Warriors past.

A little bit different from the epic in proportion that is Dragonlore, ScreamKing, considering “Thee Indomitable Spirit”, is about ferocity, headstrong, charging ahead, blasting the airwaves with ounces of power. It is a return to the US Metal of the 80s, yet with a modernized sound. I must ask you; how would you say that your form of storytelling fits the rough nature of “Thee Indomitable Spirit”?

I write from my own heart so what you see, hear and experience with that is a doorway to my soul.

ScreamKing, as the band’s name suggests, is no less than a screaming fest. Honestly, I haven’t listened to the previous two albums but “Thee Indomitable Spirit” is a joint venture of some of the classic, high pitching, banshees. You connected the dots well and brought in amazing guests. How do you view the selection of guest vocalists into the album’s fold?

I am very pleased with all the contributions made on the album from all the guests. It was an honor to work with such amazing talented singers and guitarists.

Were the chosen vocalists involved in the songwriting process of the album, providing ideas, writing lyrics, or even being involved in the vocal melodies?

No, Rafael and I wrote all of the lyrics and melodies. The vocalists put their own spin on it though, which made it even cooler. As for the guest guitarists they did their own thing completely and it turned out amazing.

With you as the band’s vocalist, how do you find your vocal pattern as part of this screaming fest? What was your vision in regard to how you fit yourself in?

With most songs I have a rough idea in mind and Rafael, and I work together to form an idea and turn into a song. Some of the songs Rafael had the idea and wrote the music and lyrics to also.

Other than vocalists, you also worked with two exceptional guitarists as guests on the record. With demonstrations of such creative soloing efforts, how would you say that it impacted the featured songs?

I love what Rusty and Joe did, they both are at the top of my list as amazing guitarists. It really pushed the songs to a climactic point and helped make them even more intense pieces of music.

Even though we talked about ScreamKing as a return to the good old days of US Metal, I would like to know your perspective regarding what makes it different from these early days? What makes “Thee Indomitable Spirit” unique?

Well, many things have changed since the good old days. One thing is doing albums in your own studio and the ability to send tracks to people around the world back and forth which is pretty cool. As for what makes Thee Indomitable Spirit unique is our approach in the way that we wrote it, I don’t think there has been too many albums similar to it at all. Also of course I feel that we have our own style, sound, thumbprint if you will when we write and record a piece of music. This is our third album now so we have a chemistry that is unique to whatever we do.

Even though you are a seasoned songwriter, how would you say that working on “Thee Indomitable Spirit” continued your development as a songwriter? What lessons from your past releases did you implement within the new record?
I think that every time you do this you grow, learn and mature. Which is the way that it should be.
From a writing standpoint we tried to keep it interesting but still include catchy riffs, grooves, chorus lines, etc…. from a production standpoint we took more time with the mix and even mastered it ourselves.

It is said that there are going to be 3 upcoming videos to support the album. Now, since a lyric video is one of the methods, we are going to put that one aside. What can you tell about the actual videos to be made? What is your strategy, a script, or perhaps graphic visualizers?

Well as of the time of this interview we have one lyric video out for “Caligula” and one band video out for “Reign of Hellfire”. We are working on the third now for “Thee Indomitable Spirit” which will feature guest appearances in the video from Ronny Munroe and Harry Conklin.

What can you share about the production phase of the album, and its engineering stages? Any moments of the experience that you care to mention?

It was a very long and drawn-out experience to be honest, but well worth it in the end.

With ScreamKing being also a live act, what are your plans going forward to support “Thee Indomitable Spirit”? Are you waiting for 2022 or there is a chance that the band will being a stage conquest this year?

Well, we were hoping to get out and play some shows this summer, but now it looks like more lockdowns will limit or squash that until a later time.

Joe, many thanks for introducing me to the band and to your great efforts on this interview. Thank you for a good record, I wish you all the best.

Thank-you my friend, my pleasure and it was a great interview!!!


 



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