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Yesterday's Saints

Interview with Yesterday's Saints from Yesterday's Saints
by Dave “That Metal Guy” Campbell at 21 February 2015, 5:46 PM

Yesterday’s Saints is a unique heavy metal band based out of Washington, DC. Formed in 2010, the band released their first demo album in 2011. Since then, they have been busy working on this new concept album called “Generation of Vipers.” David had an indepth discussion with the entire band about the obvious religious themes on the new album, and how the band has shaped their unique sound.

When did all of you meet, and how did the band come together?

Albert Born - Witt and I had been in a band together prior to Yesterday’s Saints. In 2010 and after leaving the other band we both got together for a few beers and decided to get together and jam.  Immediately we were writing and enjoying what we were writing. We needed a bass player and a singer. Witt had a friend who played bass. I knew Matt. Witt and I invited them out and after a few weeks we had a band. We’ve had a couple of bass players before John bring him aboard with us. I wish we could have found him sooner.

John Batease - Around the Spring of 2013 Witt messaged me on Facebook. I didn’t respond right away but then Matt called and sent the first YS EP and some newer tracks the band was working on. I listened to them and really dug it. I learned some of the songs and came out for a jam and everything clicked. Within weeks we were playing a huge Paganfest show in Baltimore. From then on I became part of the writing process of the new album which was very exciting for me.

Please take me through the thoughts and ideas that led to forming this concept album? What is it that you want the listener to come away with after listening and digesting the lyrics?

Matt Rice - In 2005/2006 I had an idea to do a concept album about Cain and Able, with the end goal indicating that half of humanity was of Cain’s lineage and we are all inherently bred in with evil.  I wrote out the storyboard and it didn’t seem to have enough to keep it interesting. Fast forward six years and we \[YS] started writing the music to “The Divine Tragedy” the ideas started to point back to my old concept idea from there concept Generation of Vipers fell in to place in about a day.

I want the listeners to see this as something that is a whole of parts. This is an album, an opera, a story; not just individuals songs. Something that provides an alternate point of view on the “history” that they’ve been fed, then think for themselves, and hopefully realize that this “history” is actually fiction written by man. Underscoring this is the first song chronologically in the story, “Origen Adamantius”, the name of a second / third century Greek theologian. He is the brainchild behind many of the current theories or concepts of the modern church.

Religion in general is often a theme of heavy metal music, particularly in the ideas of struggling to understand it, deciding if Heaven, Hell and God are  real, and why bad things happen to good people. Can you tell me how your life experiences up to date played a role in these religious themes on the album?

Matt - My biggest influence was being raised and educated Catholic. When I was about 14 I learned that the reason behind Catholics being ordered by the Pope to eat fish on Fridays was solely to boost the Italian economy. At the time Italy’s economy was in the dumps and who’s primary export was fisheries. Enter the Pope with his cape to write Cannon Law to save the day. It all made sense from there. The Church is a business. I started to question and research everything. Things and people like Origen Adamantius, Constantine, Horus, Satanism and Paganism. They’re all intertwined for the benefit of The Church. I mean shit, what’s with Easter? Did Jesus have a pet rabbit? No. It’s a celebration of the Equinox. So over the years of finding things like this I came to the conclusion that none of it really mattered and that it was of man and not truly divine. So writing a story about Satan from his point of view, or influence, and indicating how necessary he is for all religion and politics, the world, to survive seemed appropriate.

Your band is relatively new in the metal scene. Please tell me what your vision is for shaping your sound. How are songs composed and which members are involved in songwriting?

Albert - We don’t set out to be purposefully different, however our sound comes out as being a bit more melodic death / thrash than a lot of other bands in the U.S. right now.  At the same time we are careful not to do something that has already been done a thousand times. I always try to challenge myself, so with that regards comes some of the technical and speed aspects of our music. I like to create a bit of a roller coaster ride with songwriting. Different styles, tempos, time changes but still be able to glue it all together so it makes sense. Typically the writing process is Witt, John and I will come up with the music together in our rehearsal studio. One of us will have an idea or two usually and we flush it out together until it sounds cool.  Matt will then take it and will add his thoughts and ideas on the arrangement along with the daunting task of writing lyrics and vocal melodies that go along. Many times we will slightly, or majorly, restructure the song so that vocals will flow better with the music. We’ve turned songs upside down, thrown them in the trash and resurrected parts from others to form new songs too. Sometimes we totally hate something and then all of the sudden with a slight twist it becomes amazing. Patience with each other and listening to everyone’s ideas is very important.

Witt Black - The riffing and solos usually come from staying up late and practicing a lot, listening to other styles, feeling the emotion of the music. I try not to dwell on a particular idea that just isn’t working out. Forcing creativity slows down the writing process; I like to keep things flowing and move on if the idea isn’t working.

John - I like to think that we are influenced by many styles.  We are able to interest a wide variety of fans. I love death metal, so certainly that impacts my ideas and style but I’m not limited to it. I love tapping and intricate riffing. We all contribute to each song, however Witt and Albert usually come up with song structures and then Matt and I will add to it.

I mean this next comment as fully a compliment as possible. I really hear a lot of complexities in your sound that remind me of what is missing in a lot of American metal. Particularly I am speaking about the hotbed of metal coming out of the Nordic countries. What bands do you all cite as some of your primary influences? What are current bands that you like to listen to, and do you find that any new music helps shape your sound?

Matt - I listen a lot of different styles and genres of music. While writing lyrics and melodies for Generation of Vipers I was listening to Lamb of God, Behemoth, 80’s hair metal, and a lot of pop. Pop to help train my brain to write hooks for choruses.

Witt - I listen to a lot of Swedish death metal. Including Scar Symmetry and some not so Swedish bands like Gojira and Battlecross is a new favorite. Solo guitarist projects too specifically Jeff Loomis and Andy James.

John - I would say a big influence for me as a bass player is Atheist, Death; especially when bass player Steve DiGiorgio was in the band, At the Gates; Slaughter the Soul in particular, Blood Red Throne and Soreption.

Albert - That’s a tough one. Currently, I think a big influence on me would be George Kollias and of course Dave Lombardo from Slayer.  Deicide and Obituary were kind of my gateway to heavier and darker music. Vital Remains, in particular the song Dechristianize - wow, that song is brilliant! Swedish metal like Soilwork and Entombed, especially Clandestine and Left Hand Path.

I think a lot of fans like to get to know band members on a personal level. Can you tell me what kinds of hobbies and interests the band has? What do you think you all would be doing if you weren’t involved in music?

Matt - I love looking at cars and recently picked up an older used Jaguar that I just love, hanging out with my rescue dogs, playing guitar, cooking, enjoying wine and craft beer and, enjoying and discovering artistic music. If I wasn’t in a band I’m sure I’d be doing something else in entertainment, entrepreneurship, or teaching history.

Witt - I would probably be doing a lot of camping and traveling. I really enjoy the outdoors. I like to cook and experiment a lot with different recipes as well.

John - I would love to have my own brewery. I’m brewing my own beer at home all the time. Cars, imports or domestics, it doesn’t matter. I’m usually modifying any car that I currently have. I’m on a tuner kick right now, no not a bass tuner either - haha.

Albert- I’m vegan I’ve learned to cook quite well and really enjoy it when I have the time. I’d like to get back into muscle cars - I used to own a modified 4 speed manual 1971 Chevelle SS. It had so much raw power it was insane! Someday I’ll have another one! I think it would be pretty hard for me to not be involved with music, but if I wasn’t I would probably be an aerospace engineer.

Please tell me about your dream tour. Where would you like to play most and what bands would you like to play with live?

Matt - Ozzy Osbourne in 1981 with Randy Rhoads.

Witt - I would love to tour Europe and Scandinavia.  I think it would be great to tour with In Flames and Scar Symmetry. It would also be great to hop on a tour with our friends in Battlecross.

John - Wacken Open Air for sure, I’d like to play with Cryptopsy, Blood Red Throne, Soreption, Cannibal Corpse, even Slayer.

Albert - Dream tour, probably over in Europe with some of the festivals.  I wouldn’t mind going down to Latin or South America as well.  Not a lot of bands travel down there and the fans are intense.

I really think you hit a home run here with this new album. It is complex, varied but fully accessible and enjoyable. Where can fans pick up the new album? What are your immediate plans in terms of touring?

Matt - Right now people can get the album at: Google Play, Amazon Mp3, iTunes, and a number of other online outlets. As far as touring we are currently working on some March touring dates through Northeast and Mid-Atlantic U.S. We hope to have that announced as soon as we lock in the dates with our agent.

Thank you kindly for the interview gentlemen and I wish you all the best!


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Edited 26 March 2023

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