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Traveler’s Matt Ries: “From a fan perspective, it's a bit of a bummer to wait too long for a new album. Sometimes it's worth the wait. Sometimes not. I'd rather just keep it going.”

Interview with Matt Ries from Traveler
by Lior "Steinmetal" Stein at 20 May 2020, 11:14 PM

Sometimes it doesn’t worth the wait, just fire it and expect it to hit. There is no time for second thoughts, just keep at it. When the mojo is there and the foundation already formed, the stage is set to release yet another promise to the midnight air. The speeding bullet of Traveler, from Canada, pierced the skin once again with an impressive outcome, only a year after the self-titled debut was bred to life. Titled “Termination Shock”, classic Metal on speeds has something to be proud of. Steinmetal had a chat with Matt Ries, founder and main songwriter, about the fast coming up with a new album, influences, musical progress, expectations and more…

Greetings Matt, it is a great to have you for this interview for Metal Temple online Magazine. Covid-19 or not, Traveler have been running hot in their efforts, are you a little tired and weary? Is there no stopping you and your ultimate songwriting brainstorming?

Thanks for having me bud! I think it's nice to have a bit of breathing room now that the second album is released. But it didn't take long before I got antsy about writing more. So that's what I'm doing now.

Talking about Covid-19, what can you share regarding the impact of the pandemic in Canada? I know that slowly things are starting to return to a sort of routine, a wicked form of normality that it might be a while to get used to. What is your take on how this pandemic has been maintained, or treated, by the authorities in the country?

I can't imagine dealing with the fear and stress surrounding those red zones. We are very fortunate to live where we are. Because in comparison, it's not so bad. I think the fact that we aren't terribly over populated helps a lot. But from what I can tell, the way they are handling it over here seems to be working. I'll have to be honest and say I haven't been following it as close as others. I'm just doing what I'm told and waiting it out.

I am sure that it hasn’t been easy not being able to perform live with Traveler, especially while still supporting the self-titled debut album. How have you guys been coping with the fact that the live scene is at a halt? Have you been doing anything in order to maintain your band’s promotion in any sort of form?

Planning never stops. And neither does the creative process. The silver lining in all of this is it gives us all a lot more time to focus on writing. And I can't spill the beans yet BUT we have some killer plans for next year if everything is safe by then!

I could easily argue that the title for your brand new album, “Termination Shock”, is actually to shock Metalheads of how fast you are by coming out with a new album only a little more than a year from your debut. What was the rush? Wasn’t it planned to support the album and keep it slowly and steady with writing a new album? Have you felt some sort of pressure?

It's kinda funny. We really didn't have to rush this one. I had a lot of ideas that didn't make it to the first album. So when it came time to buckle down and start putting together “Termination Shock”, it really didn't take that long to all come together. And this time I had a lot more help from the band. All our rolls fell into place and we just banged it out. It was a lot of fun. I also felt that it was a good idea to keep the momentum going. From a fan perspective, it's a bit of a bummer to wait too long for a new album. Sometimes it's worth the wait. Sometimes not. I'd rather just keep it going.

Most of the stories that I hear about bands’ songwriting mainly tell that there has been planning, nearly knowing what is next to come and how the upcoming release is to be shaped up. However, with you personally, you decided to go into the lion’s den with even a pocket knife. You just kept going, wrote material and let it out without any expectation or looking back. Is that what is called being natural in your view? Wouldn’t you say that it is some sort of a gamble other than straight from the heart?

Well I can promise that everything we write comes straight from the heart. I would never blindly put something out there for the sake of filling the void. We have to all be completely happy with it. And that's exactly how we went about it. It's a bit of a mind game to try to live up to the hype. I just chose to ignore that frame of mind and have fun with it. That's what it's about, isn't it?

After “Traveler”, since the process of composing “Termination Shock”, including recording and studio work was rather short, was the songwriting process alright in motion, did you already have something to work with? Please indulge myself and readers regarding this rather rapid and busy time period

“Shaded Mirror”, “After The Future” and “Termination Shock” were songs I was working on during the first album. So I had a good foundation to start building from when we started piecing this one together. “STK” was gifted to us by JP Fortin of Deaf Dealer. And Dave wrote a song for the album. So really with all these contributions, you can see how it would come together so quickly. We're all stoked on how it turned out.

In its form of music, “Termination Shock” appears to walk and talk rather the same as the debut, yet there is an intensity level that was absent earlier on. Furthermore, there is a somewhat measure of complexity within the tunes, which seemed to me highly influenced by late 80s Iron Maiden efforts. What is your take on the band’s rapid musical progress on this album?

80's speed and thrash are still branded into my head. So I guess it didn't take too long for it to come out in some way, haha. Maiden and Priest are near and dear. But the classic fast shit has gotta make an appearance every so often. Sort of having our cake and eating it too. I think “Deepspace” makes up for some of the slower sections on the album.

Looking forward into the future, would we possibly see any continuation to the progression within the efforts of Traveler, perhaps even in the borders of 80s Fates Warning?

Hard to say, man. We just want to play what we think sounds good. Whatever we feel at the time, we can ooze it out in whatever way fits. Maybe one of us will start watching too many Harry Potter movies and we'll go full blown wizard rock. Who knows! But I think we'll stick to what we're good at.

Theme oriented, or lyricism, what would you say is the primary message coming out of “Termination Shock” that could be relevant to our nowadays ordinary, even in the present, lives? How do you find yourself related to Dave Arnold’s written words?

I've always been drawn more towards lyrics that have a deeper meaning. Or at least something you can relate to. The fun fantasy stuff is cool too. which is why we go off the rails with theme's like Starbreaker and Termination Shock. But primarily I like to write from personal experiences or emotions. I wouldn't say I'm much of a poet, but I always think something people can relate to will have a lasting effect. The songs I love most are the ones that hit home.

Coming into the songs, “STK” might be the closest that you guys reached to the classic Iron Maiden years, simply brilliant melodies, awesome solos and a great drive. What does the title STK say? What is your appreciation of this song?

Well this is the song JP Fortin gifted to us. It's a song that never made it to a Deaf Dealer album. So it's an absolute honor to try to carry the torch of one of our all time favorite bands. Our JP wrote the lyrics for it. The title stands for “Suck The Knife”. A play on words for drugs.

If there is something that I am thankful for is the sheer Speed Metal sensation running along in the last two songs, “Deepspace” and “Terra Exodus”. You outdid yourself by recapturing the essence of the proto-Thrash Metal style of the mid-80s that earlier in my days took me out of balance. While writing such haunting rhythms and beating tempos, what did you feel? From where did you get those blasting energies to lash out?

“Deepspace” was the one I wrote last. I had that beginning riff in my head for a while before trying it out. That's probably the song that came together the quickest, honestly. And after taking a look at how the rest of the songs were shaping up, the album was missing that one thing to really kick you in the ass. So I made it a mission to get nutty with that one. As far as “Terra Exodus” goes. That was all Dave Arnold and JP. Dave wrote that one some time ago and it was perfect for this album. If I'm being honest here, it's my favorite one!

Let’s be honest, the classic Metal scene, which I mean by the gods of Metal that we grew up on, aren’t getting any younger, and any day now, they might just retire, never to return to action. And not even for a reunion. Therefore I ask you, does this term Metal gods still count? Will there be replacements to these icons of the past?

I think it would be hard to not forever look back on the glory days of metal. Those guys invented and shaped it to everything we love today. So to me, it doesn't get much better than that. But it doesn't mean the new guys won't have their chance. I have no idea who will last and who will fade away. That's for time to decide.

Other than the pandemic, what would you say are the main challenges for Traveler this coming year? Where do you see yourself let’s say in 2021? What are your expectations?

Well we are all ready to hit the stage again. So we're gonna have to just accept that this may not happen for a while. So the challenge is keeping ourselves from going insane, haha. But we do have a lot of cool plans for early 2021. I can't say what it is yet. We also don't know if it will happen due to this virus thing. It's a waiting game for everyone right now. But we haven't stopped writing. So you can at least count on that.

With the manner of haste of coming out with “Termination Shock”, is there a new album in the works? I believe that you have time now for another brainstorming right?

Yep! As mentioned. We're working on that right now. We will take our time with this one, I think. I have some ideas I want to workshop and I really want to pay more attention to detail this time around. There's always room for improvement. So that's what we are striving for.

Matt, I wish to thank you for this interview, certainly you uplifted my spirit with an iconic performance and sheer old school motivation. Thank you!!

Thanks for having me buddy! And thank you for all your support. Metal Temple RULES.



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