Gigantic Underdogs: The Rebirth of Into Eternity

Posted November 2, 2006 in
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Chances are if you went to go see the Gingantour featuring Megadeth, Lamb of God, Opeth, Arch Enemy, Overkill, Sanctity and The Smashup in September, you weren’t there to see second stage act Into Eternity. And unfortunately if you were there for them, or you just plain had some interest in seeing them you got the shaft. Their set was three songs and plagued with sound problems, as was the case for most every band on the tour that night. Hailing from Canada, Into Eternity just released their third album, The Scattering of Ashes. In a way, the album marks a new beginning for the band as well as a possible end of an era. The new being the entrance of long-time fan turned vocalist Stu Block. The end well is up in the air original drummer Jim Austin may be leaving the band to focus on his family a tough decision regardless. This trek does mark the first time the skilled drummer has been able to tour with the band ever. Into Eternity is one of those bands that are able to defy a distinct categorization. Think progressive metal yet with a hell of a lot of extreme metal tendencies. The newest effort flawlessly displays what the band is known for but in a better-produced realm. Guitars are sharper, the vocal range has diversified from clean and growled vocals to black metal shrills and classic metal howling, and don’t forget an all-around tight drum sound. Catching up with the new excited blood Stu had a lot to say in this slightly delayed interview that took place a few weeks after the actual show in Salt Lake, about his place in the band and just how things have gotten to where they are now.


Into Eternity (courtesy of myspace.com/intoeternity)

SLUG: Do you guys normally only get to play three songs or did you just get screwed at the show?
Into Eternity: Not really, basically with all the opening bands we get 15 to 20 minutes if it is one stage we usually get 15. If it is two we usually get 20 minutes. It depends on how on scheduled they are, that is how that works basically. But whatever. We are stoked to be there it is all good.

SLUG: Yeah, that was kind of a bummer. You guys and Overkill were basically the whole reason I went to the show.
IE: Yeah, a lot of people were kind of let down with the length of the set. But really we are just caught with our hands tied behind our back. We can’t go over or else Mr. Mustaine will get a bit mad and we don’t want to do that because he has given us a good opportunity.

SLUG: Yeah and your sound quality, well pretty much every band there got hosed. I was up front doing pictures and obviously it doesn’t sound good up there anyway. So I went back to my seat because I was just up there for the first song and I was like I want to actually hear what it sounds like and it was still kind of muddy.
IE: Yeah, Salt Lake City was kind of a weird gig. The PA cracked out during Megadeth’s set because somebody threw a beer on the board and a whole bunch of shit like that. I guess they just rolled with the punches.

SLUG: Yeah I got a nice picture of Dave Mustaine flipping me off.
IE: (laughs) Perfect.

SLUG: Going back to the beginning, how did Into Eternity get together as a band?
IE: Well Tim Roth formed the band with Jim Austin back in 1995 or something like that. They put out a record and the line-ups have changed due to the fact because some people’s hearts weren’t into it or they couldn’t tour. Basically Jim and Tim are the longest lasting members of this band. And now Jim has made the choice, it is all positive stuff he’s got a wife, a kid a white picket fence he has got a great job. We are super stoked for his life we definitely wanted to give him a shot at this Gigantour. He jumped at the opportunity to go out on the tour, who wouldn’t, he has been there since day one. But we are going to be having a new guy coming out to handle the drums. Basically this band just formed because they really liked the Bay Area thrash stuff and loved prog metal and they just kind of combined the two. A lot of record labels wouldn’t touch the band because they thought that they couldn’t find their sound, they said you either have to be death metal or power metal. The band basically said we are not going to conform to that. Sure enough it was accepted after a few years and Steve Joe over at Century Media had been playing the record Dead or Dreaming which was actually the original name of the band released on DVS records. They went to Europe got signed with Century Media Europe and then came back got signed with Century Media North America, put two other albums out and the rest is history. It did take a while for the people in the industry to realize this is something as opposed to just keeping it as one genre of music it is definitely a hybrid band and it is great that Century Media took a chance on a band like ours.

SLUG: The records since I heard about the band have been getting really good reviews. I like pretty much everything you have put out.
IE: I think people are looking for something a little different. Looking for something that keeps their mind going and keeps their interest level peaked. A lot of metal heads don’t have a very long attention span. I mean I speak for myself.

SLUG: Which makes me wonder how Opeth has been so successful because their songs are so damn long.
IE: Exactly I think that is where the whole change is happening. People want more than just straight up death metal or power metal. People are starting to accept the clean signing with the death metal singing. When the people have spoken bands like us will get a little more opportunity. I love the direction that it is going.

SLUG: Back to Jim he is just doing this tour right? Because it was such a huge opportunity to tour with Megadeth.
IE: Before I was in the band I was a super big fan of the band and it was often when Jim came on board we were all really super stoked. He is such a great guy really laid back and easy going. We are all really laid back Canadians that is our whole persona that we aren’t uptight. Of course Megadeth was the best opportunity for him and he wanted to go out on a high note.

SLUG: So are you saying he is not going to tour with the band or record with the band again?
IE: He will be associated with the band but he won’t be touring here on in. In regards to writing drum parts we will have to see it is kind of up in the air we don’t know. We will take it one day at a time. Jim has expressed to us that any time we need some drum parts he will be there for us.

SLUG: Touring with a family I couldn’t imagine. I have a daughter and I couldn’t imagine going on the road and leaving her.
IE: It is tough it takes a toll on your psyche and your physical being. Touring is definitely not for every body. It is a tough road you have to deal with a lot of stuff. Being a family man is manhood and it something you have to do.

SLUG: So what exactly is your position in the band?
IE: I do death vocals to black metal vocals to falsetto vocals clean, baritone. I’m a hybrid singer; I’ve coupled black metal and death metal with my power metal. I’ve been honing the skill for the past ten years. On the new record I did about 95 percent of the vocals.

SLUG: To sing your praises I think that was a good addition I think the vocals on the new record are the best they’ve sounded just the variations. I love the high pitched screams because that just makes it all that much more metal.
IE: Wow, I really appreciate that. I think diversity is definitely something we went into this record trying to achieve. Because this band is already diverse so we were thinking how can we make it more diverse? I’ve always been a high vocalist I’ve always sang along to Judas Priest, Maiden and Queensryche and of course Rush. I love the high notes; I love Ripper Owens I’ve been working on that stuff. So I just try to bring ripping power metal vocals meets clean mid range vocals meets black metal and death metal vocals. I think the falsettos on this album definitely set us apart from anyone else. We are trying to be as original as possible. I mean you are taking certain other elements from other bands around you but you try to make it your own. That is what we try to achieve with this record and any other forthcoming record.

SLUG: As far as influences in reviews and other press I’ve seen about the band I’ve heard comparisons to Dream Theater going death metal. And I think that is totally not even right on because what you do is different and I don’t think you guy’s wanker off as much as they do.
IE: I’m not going to lie to you we are definitely Dream Theater fans but we are prog metal fans. We wanted to encompass that aspect into the music because it brings it up to a more technical level. There is a lot of prog metal fans out there but these people are very open minded and they have to be to listen to our stuff. Dream Theater we definitely did take a little bit of that but also Bay Area thrash meets traditional power metal meets neo-classical.

SLUG: I think being a Canadian band or an American band that stigma actually kind of helps because you don’t get pigeonholed. Like if you are Swedish or Norwegian people expect you to sound like that style. But if you are Canadian or American you can do whatever the hell you want.
IE: Exactly. In regards to the creation of the music the sky is the limit to us. We are not shunned because of that. I’m not going to lie to you I was not worried but really interested to see what people thought of my vocals especially my high falsetto stuff and I was really blown away on how well it was embraced by the fans and the press, again because we are separating ourselves. And we are not doing it terribly, we are doing it good, we are not throwing some falsettos just for the shit of it we are doing it with class.

SLUG: You obviously change up your voice a lot. How do you have to train yourself to go from each change?
IE: I look at it this way, I’ve had some to little formal training I’m mostly self-taught. I basically have honed the skill on how to tour and keep both vocals with smooth transitioning. When I am doing my death vocals, I’ve never seen this video The Zen of Screaming, on the tour Angela Gossow (of Arch Enemy) came up to me and asked if I had seen the video because you scream a lot like that and I said no. She said well wow you are encompassing that aspect. What it does is it encompasses is being able to do your death metal and black metal vocals with diaphragm mode so you are using your diaphragm not your throat and using the microphone to your advantage. Once you are in diaphragm mode it is really easy to switch up to the clean style because you are already in the mode and you’re not wrecking your vocal, you’re not scraping your voice or whatever. So for me as soon as I discovered my diaphragm I knew that the sky was the limit. I don’t get off stage with a blown out voice after an hour or so, I’m just getting warmed up I feel as though my voice is better after the show then before sometimes I think I’m even a bit of a freak I don’t know how it works. I just make sure I warm up and I’m not wrenching my voice and using my throat to use death vocals.

SLUG: As far as touring and being on the Gigantour I consider you guys kind of underdog because people going into that are Megadeth fans or Lamb of God fans, even in the Salt Lake Show I noticed that a lot of people left after Lamb of God, I was like, why?!
IE: Yeah I know, it is funny how that works. I feel with this tour every fan that comes out to this tour is a fan of one or two bands on the bill because it’s an onslaught bill. They are all bands that have big fan bases. So you do see the crowd switch up a bit. It is very apparent on this tour Lamb of God is a big draw but it depends on the city you go to. I watch the show every night and I see the crowd thin out a little after Lamb of God but all in all people are definitely showing their respect for Megadeth. If you are still rocking out in your mid-40’s trying to put on this amazing tour you have to show respect for that, he has (Mustaine) been there since day one. I think that is what people see is him out there doing what he loves no matter how much drama or bull shit he’s been through in his life.

SLUG: You can give him a lot of credit for taking out bands that are a little bit risky and not big money drawers like Metallica obviously with the whole Linkin Park deal. It’s a different machine.
IE: It is a risk, I think he is taking a good risk. He knows what he is getting himself into. It is not like he hasn’t done his research though and he knows all bands on this bill will perform and will live up to his expectations.

SLUG: At the Salt Lake City show there was the FYE booth with the fan signings how has that been?
IE: Every day 20 minutes after our set we do an autograph session meet the fans. Besides playing the show I love doing the signings because I get to meet all these die hard metal fans that live for metal they are really appreciative of the fact that we are out there shaking their hands and signing stuff. I’ve had fans come up to me and show me their scars of self mutilation that they’ve dealt with in their lives and it really hits home and I’m happy that we bring forth music that matters to people. That is one of the main things for our band is we want to talk about real issues.

SLUG: I definitely get the most out of music like that because everybody has gone through their own crap. I personally have plenty of scars. I think the concept of people actually getting to meet the band to a lot of fans that is a big deal. I get kind of spoiled because I get to do it a lot. But I remember before that actually getting an autograph sometimes can make the whole concert.
IE: The bottom line without those fans we would exist and be on the Gigantour. Without the fans we are nothing I think that goes to show that people if they are a fan of Into Eternity they are a fan for life.

SLUG: You just came on board for the new record, how did you hook up with Into Eternity, you said you fan, how did they discover you?
IE: Yeah I knew of them ever since Dead or Dreaming. Back home I had a band that was a hybrid band slightly more traditional kind of fantasy stuff, you know dragons, wizards and Viking folklore.

SLUG: I saw you sporting the nice gauntlet on stage there.
IE: That will always be a part of me. Basically I was on tour, I used to go across Canada a lot with my band Omega Crumb basically we were playing a Canadian show at the Gas Light and Tim through word of mouth found out about this band with a high singer. We did a cover of Judas Priest’s Painkiller. He came to the show and enjoyed it. Even at that point he wasn’t thinking of me being in the band because they already had a singer. I think roughly eight months after that he was in Turkey and we had exchanged e-mails and he started venting about singer problems, and I said to let me know what is going on. When he got back we talked about me possibly trying out to be in the band. So eventually that happened. I already knew all the songs and the harmonies and came in and nailed eleven songs straight up and he basically shook my hand right there and said if you want the gig you can have it and I didn’t even have to think twice about that. The rest is history.

Whether you are into progressive metal, black/death metal or even power metal Into Eternity has something to offer for every realm of ones taste. There is no question the band got a break by being offered a spot on the Gigantour for 2006. But as grateful and gracious as any band can be despite the short set time Into Eternity and Stu the new vocalist go out every night with something to prove to the metal masses and owning the goods of a great band they deliver more than any band should have to.