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Spellbook's Nate Tyson: "These weren't just cartoon super heroes; these were real people! I was hooked. My attraction to mystique in music began there. What did they look like under the face paint? Was Gene Simmons tongue real?"

Interview with Nate Tyson from Spellbook
by Lior "Steinmetal" Stein at 29 August 2020, 9:43 PM

A new kind of face, can't' take away the heart of the music. Whether there was an evolutionary process within the music, it is off the radar, better noticed, even though it lurks and it is there. Spellbook, once called Witch Hazel, made a move in order to stay away from a name that became quite a commonality within other bands. Therefore, it was the only logical for them to come up with a new moniker. With the release of their debut "Magick & Mischief", carrying the torch of the 70s, Steinmetal talked to Nate Tyson of the band, regarding the new record, the new image, perception of their music and the scene around them, and more…

Greetings Nate, it is wonderful to have you for this interview for Metal Temple online Magazine, how are things going on your end sir?

Greetings Metal Temple! I am doing well. Thank you for having me!

I am sure that it is quite a troubled time due to the pandemic in the US of A, it appears that this second wave is stronger than the previous one, yet, and perhaps a little weird, people actually got used to it. How do you see this Covid-19 phenomenon from your end of the table?

Well, we want everything to go back to "normal" like everyone else which is why early on when the pandemic hit we decided we wouldn't be doing any live shows for the remainder of 2020. It just doesn't seem like the responsible thing to do at this time. We want everyone to be safe and responsible so we can go back to playing shows again. Instead we are focusing on promoting the release of our new album "Magick & Mischief" out Sep. 25th via Cruz Del Sur Music and writing new material for our follow up full length album!

I really had no idea that the fate of Witch Hazel changed in the last couple of years, it was quite surprising to see a new name, logo, image in overall. What happened with this decision that it appears that none were ready for? Why was it the right time to make such a change in an already known brand?

We had been thinking about changing the name for years. There are simply too many bands with that name and it got to the point where the name was holding us back. When Cruz Del Sur Music picked us up we figured it was now or never to pull the trigger on the name change to Spellbook (An old Witch Hazel song from our debut album). We are still the same band, same style, same vision, same direction, same dream…just under a different name.

By picking the name Spellbook, you virtually continued the mystery that has been engulfing the band’s material, yet now you even escalated your efforts into new horizons and your debut album under the new moniker, “Magick & Mischief” is proof to that. What do you find so attractive in mystery and enigmatic features that is so compelling to you personally?

My introduction to music was via my mother's Kiss records when I wasn't yet old enough to stand. I stared in awe at the cover of "Destroyer" thinking it was merely a cartoon. As I continued to flip through my parents' collection I was shocked when I came across Kiss Alive. These weren't just cartoon super heroes; these were real people! I was hooked. My attraction to mystique in music began there. What did they look like under the face paint? Was Gene Simmons tongue real? This led to my fascination with The Misfits and later the macabre tales coming out of the Norwegian Black Metal scene. It's kind of like a horror movie. The monster is always scarier when you can't see it.

In your opinion, in relation to the concepts and philosophies displayed on “Magick & Mischief”, what can be related to our everyday life, our very own reality?

We do cross between the horror/fantasy realm and into our everyday reality from time to time. Most obvious on the album are "Black Shadow" which is about the struggles of living a blue collar 9 to 5 life, something we very much relate to in this band. Also, "Not Long For This World" was written when I was in a very low point in my life and the lyrics mirror the depression I was dealing with at the time.

But I think a song like our single "Amulet" can have multiple meanings. You can take the lyrics at their surface value but if you look deeper you can find the metaphor for what you need the song to mean for you.

Now the artwork is a total mouth opener, looks like an old horror movie poster, and it is hard not to look at it. What was the initial vision behind it? It would sure look good on a t-shirt I’d say

The album cover was done by the amazing Chad Keith. We discovered Chad through the work he had done for the Say You Love Satan Podcast (an 80's Horror podcast). The concept was we wanted every song on the album to be visually represented on the cover in some way shape or form. We are beyond pleased with what Chad came up for us!

Within the mists of “Magick & Mischief” you nearly turned every stone within the late to early 80s of what is rendered proto-Heavy Metal, along with featuring aspects of vintage musical progression. Even though any form of progress may as well be natural, there is always a twist to it. As Spellbook, how would you describe the musical, and musicianship, journey surrounding this “Magick & Mischief”?

Well the band was formed out of our love of 70's rock n roll. So the only "rule" we have, if you want to call it that, is the music should somehow fit within that era…kind of. On "Magick & Mischief" we go all over the place! From theatrical / progressive / conceptual epics that would feel right at home on an early 70's Alice Cooper record to dipping our toe in the NWOBHM realm to straight forward in your face Rock N Roll!

Which elements within that wave of vintage adventures of the late 70s and early 80s do you find addictive that you wanted to continue and even go wilder as Spellbook?

I think it's just what we grew up on. There is a nostalgia factor for sure. We just love 60's, 70's and early 80's films, music and art in general.

Going even more into the heart of vintage progression than before has its perks of course, with 70s Rock getting back into recognition in both the Rock and Metal scenes. However, the modernized kind of Metal, and MTV2 kind of Rock, are still more dominant. In light of that, people are looking for that boundary breaker. What do you think that Spellbook brings to the table with “Magick & Mischief” that is uncanny, special and could grab any listener that gives a chance?

The songwriting. A well written song will translate to anyone despite the genre it is in. I think a song like "Amulet" has the potential to be a crossover hit to not just occult rockers and metal heads but also to a vaster audience.

As a songwriter, with the experience that led you forward on the early moniker of Witch Hazel, how did you find yourself implementing everything that went through on this record? How would you say that you developed as a songwriter while this album was written?

Since day one, even in the Witch Hazel days, we have been a collaborative band. Sometimes our bass player Seibert will present a riff to us and we collectively write the rest of the song around it in the same room, such is the case for songs like "Ominous Skies" and "Not Long For This World". Other times our guitar player Andy or myself will present a fully written and composed song, such is the case for "Black Shadow" and "Amulet". With this album we didn't stray from our normal "formula". That being, "The best songs win" mentality. The amount of creativity in this band is seemingly endless.

Some view this as a challenge, but it would be interesting to know. How did you find the right edge when integrating the music with the lyrics? There are quite state of mind shifts throughout the album, and even within each of the songs in particular.

I tend to come up with a title or phrase first. Something that stands out to me. I then craft the lyrics around the title. "What would a song called Wands To The Sky be about?" And let my imagination go from there. In other cases, our guitar player Andy Craven wrote the lyrics to the songs "Black Shadow" and "Dead Detectives". When I hear the music to "Not Long For This World", I don't think, "Ok, this one is obviously going to be about how happy I am and how lovely the world is." I tap into that dark place and try to be as genuine as I possibly can.

The main riff of “Motorcade” hammered me mercilessly, such a strong effect that I couldn’t just leave it. However, this song developed quite nicely into a hazy kind of freewheel burning kind of tune. What was the inspiration behind this tune? Mainly a race to the death kind of thing?

As we were writing the music for Motorcade, I believe our guitar player Andy just shouted out "This is some Road Warriors shit! Real Motorcade stuff!". That's all I needed to hear. I envisioned a post-apocalyptic Mad Max inspired world and wrote the lyrics to visually fit said world.

Certainly one of the most astonishing songs that I heard in a while, “Dead Detectives”. It was as if reading a novel, or a short mystery story, and enjoying the quiet time on a wintery night. What are the hardships that you are trying to reflect within this song? What can you tell about the inner doubts of the hero, why deem him as a failure that dies? What can you tell about the song’s arrangements and musical features?

"Dead Detectives" started out with Seibert's bass line. Very quickly we decided we were going to throw everything we had at this one. In 2015 we released a 28-minute vampire concept song called "Nocturnity". We took this same theatrical approach with "Dead Detectives". Clocking in around 11 minutes instead of 28 minutes. We knew right away we wanted to lean into the black and white noir vibe. I eventually realized the lyrics were too big of an undertaking for me. I couldn't grasp what the story was we were trying to tell. So I handed the lyric duty over to our guitarist and published author Andy Craven who currently has 4 works of fiction under his belt. He crafted the story beats and wrote the lyrics accordingly.

It was described as a crowd pleaser, yet I can’t totally agree. “Amulet” is a spectacular song, however, for a catchy break, it shares a formula that isn’t that common for single tunes. What is your take on this gem that may as well be one of the album’s crown jewels?

"Amulet" almost made it on our last album "Otherworldly" but didn't quite make the deadline. We began to incorporate it into our live set after the release of "Otherworldly". By only the second time playing "Amulet" in public the crowd was already singing the chorus back to us. We were astonished. This song felt different. After every live set people would ask, "Which album is that "Amulet" song on?", we would reply "We haven't recorded it yet." "Amulet" is also the song that caught the ear of Pale Divine's Darin McCloskey which eventually led to our signing with Cruz Del Sur Music. So finally this song lives on the "Magick & Mischief" album and we are very pleased with how it turned out.

Looking forward into the coming future, it would appear that this pandemic is here to stay for just a little while. How are you guys planning to promote the album that is not within the veils of the media? Any ideas that came to mind to explore the current options online?

Well live shows are out of the question obviously so that leaves us with mainly interviews like this and spreading the word ourselves through social media. At this time, we have already released 2 singles from the album, "Wands To The Sky" and "Amulet", we plan on releasing another video down the line and possibly a "making of mini documentary" at some point

Given the option that you were able to perform again, any plans that ran across your mind for live shows?

Before the pandemic there were talks of a U.S. tour and a Germany tour. We would love to finally make it overseas where we think this kind of music will be very appreciated. So we hope we can make these plans happen as soon as safely possible. In the meantime, we will be promoting the new album "Magick & Mischief" available for pre order now at spellbookband.bandcamp.com and through Cruz Del Sur Music and also working on new material for our next album!

Nate, it has been a pleasure. You left me with a mysterious album, and I like it. Better not solve everything, the most important thing is that the music remains and it is high level. Cheers.

Thank you very much! Cheers my friend! Nate


 



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