Winterhearth began back in 2008 when Andrew Marsh and Robbie Butler were still high school students living in Bonavista. The two musicians shared a huge passion for fast, extreme Heavy Metal music and wanted to show the world that Newfoundland isn’t just Folk and Irish traditional music. It took nearly four years before they found a steady drummer when they met Michael Small originally from Wild Cove. The three immediately began perfecting the songs that Andrew and Robbie had been working so hard and wanting to show the world. Within 3 months the band played their first show on Valentine’s Day 2013. Within two months after the band started playing, they recorded the on the floor demo “Beyond The Frosted Graves” which brought up some positive attention on the Newfoundland Metal scene. Soon after that the band recorded with producer and Privateers guitarist Ward Pike and recorded the “Speak No Evil” EP. After a year of non stop shows and planning a full-length tour the Winterhearth train came to a halting stop. Michael Small discovered he had a blood clot in his arm and was expected to take 6 months to recover. This was a giant blow to the band and their efforts, but all agreed to soldier on and find a replacement for the short term and hope to have Mike return at some point. A friend of the band recommended a guy named Zack Keating. Zack had a huge passion for Black Metal music so he fit in with the band perfectly. When it was time for Mike to return he had some personal matters to take care of and he had to leave permanently. Now with a new drummer the band recorded their debut full-length album “Curse The Summer”. They took their time to make a raw production album but still with impressive riffs that had a similar flare to the likes of Megadeth and Dissection. When “Curse The Summer” was released it sold well beyond the band’s expectations making them titans in the Newfoundland Metal scene. Yet again some internal issues began to brew in the band as schedules kept conflicting with shows and with Zack’s personal life and schedule. After several attempts Zack was unable to fulfill his commitments, they took a chance and called upon Mike to re-enter the band. He agreed and with only a day and a half preparation the band worked hard and nailed it. The band right now is currently working on their second full-length album which Andrew describes as Gothenburg sound meets Black Metal. 2013 moving Forward to present day Metal on Loud magazine had the opportunity to Chat with Andrew and to dig a little deeper into what is WINTERHEARTH.
Being from Newfoundland myself it's a pleasure to speak with you guys and get to know and familiarize myself with the Newfoundland Metal Scene and Black Metal as a whole in Eastern Canada. With that being said let's begin. First of all I really dig the name Winterhearth, how did you guys come up with this name and is there any hidden meaning behind it?
Thanks! To create a band name this day and age that’s original and unique sounding is easier said than done. Especially a name that’s one word. You can give the credit to Robbie on that one. I was driving him home from practice one night. It was literally the night before our first ever show and we we’re stuck for a band name. All of a sudden on the drive home a snow storm just randomly started and Robbie says “How about… Winterhearth?”. I immediately thought that sounded great for an Extreme Metal act, especially a act from Newfoundland. When it comes to meanings now everyone interprets things different but for me, I can safely say the band would agree it’s a combination of the cold desolate nature of Black Metal meets the fire intensity of Death Metal.
Can you tell us a little bit about yourselves? Been listening to your album "Curse the Summer" and I just love the sound and the rawness of this album, very intense and extreme but very melodic and deep. Who is behind the creativity of the band and music and musical direction?
I’m glad you enjoyed Curse The Summer in both the song structures as well as production! Well I’m the guitarist and lead vocalist of the band. Bonavista born and raised like yourself as we both discovered! Been playing guitar since I was about 10 or 11 years old. I started getting into Metal at the same time my father bought my first guitar. I was huge into the classics like Metallica, Megadeth, Iron Maiden, Motorhead and Black Sabbath. As I gotten older I began to dig deeper into Thrash and NWOBHM and that’s when I began to discover Diamond Head, Testament, Kreator, Venom and Raven to name a few. As I kept getting older into my teens I got a thirst for the extreme side of music so I began to really indulge in the likes of Mayhem, Carcass, Dissection, Immortal, Deicide, Morbid Angel, just an endless list of amazing Extreme Metal artists. Robbie is also Bonavista born and raised and like myself another person who has a passion for Extreme Metal! Robbie is easily in the top 3 of best bass players I’ve ever seen around. When he plays it’s like the souls of Cliff Burton, Geddy Lee and Alex Webster all form to create this super bassist. Robbie is huge into Iron Maiden, Pantera, Death, Maximum The Hormone and Rush. Also a super fun person to be around. Mike is the final piece of our evil trio. To me he’s the philosopher of the band by far and has a lot of passion for what he’s interested in whether it’s music or anything that he finds interesting. Also likes to pay attention to politics and what’s happening in the world as you should. People tell me after shows that Mike is a mad scientist behind the kit. Mike has a lot of industrial and goth influences like Sisters of Mercy, Ministry and Marilyn Manson. Now don’t let all our Metal influences fool you! We enjoy listening to every form of music. Keeps the creativity more active in your brain.
Is it a collective effort or individual assignment? Who does most of the writing for Winterhearth? very intelligent and very well written I might add.
As a whole the band is a collaborative effort. Now I mainly start the songs and new ideas and I bring in either a skeleton or a few riffs and we all jam to them and restructure, add our own two cents into it and keep everyone happy. It’s a bit of both really. I personally like to handle the business and the logistics side of a band. Mike is really into the artistic side of the business we’ll say. Like he’s great for creating imagery ideas for our products as well as he usually does our set list structure so we know who’s doing what in a show. When should I do a guitar solo between songs, where the faster ones and slower ones should be, that kind of stuff. Now Robbie is really good at keeping us grounded cause me and Mike like to get carried away with ideas. Robbie is also not afraid to say something is stupid or that’s not how it should be and I be damned he never fails. He’s also a wizard at graphic art so he helps with finalizing images before they go to print on shirts and other merch. Why thank you very much! As I mentioned prior I usually begin on the ideas and I’ll write a first draft or maybe even just a few riffs. I’ll record a ghost track and send to the guys to see what they think. What they like what they don’t like and by the end of it all it becomes a three way split.
From your experience how is the Black Metal Scene in Newfoundland and Music in General?
Well music in general they’re tons and I mean tons of bands in Newfoundland. From Irish Traditional which what the tourists see, to experimental music like my buddy Navigator Black and everything in between! Now when it comes to Black Metal, it’s not as small as one would think and it’s very dedicated. You have one man projects like Bone Alley and Vorbkt. You also have the band Nightbreed who are very true to the style and Dark Era who has streaks of Black Metal influence in them. The scene also has tons of Punk/Hardcore acts as well as Modern Metal acts like Rivals, Brainer and Ashes To Ammo. Honestly there are so many bands it’s unreal to name them all and I feel bad for anyone I missed cause they’re all equally amazing and insane to listen to and experience live.
How are you guys received there and the rest of the world?
We are doing excellent for when it comes to rest of the world for an unsigned band from our cold Atlantic island. We have a lot of support from South America as well as Europe and we also have tons of support and likes from countries like Algeria and India which is beyond flattering. With that being said we’re still a young band that’s growing in our own country.
When can we expect to have the pleasure of your new album? Will it differ from the previous recordings or will it stay with the winning formula you guys currently are using?
Right now we’re in guitar track stage. Drums are complete. My goal is to have it out in July/August. It could be as late as mid fall which I highly don’t see happening at all. The process is a lot different because, well to shed some light the new album has fourteen songs and a lot of these songs we haven’t debuted yet on stage so having the practicing of rehearsals and countless shows isn’t there for your takes to go extremely fast. Glad to see someone considers my songwriting a winning formula!!! Well the second album to me is say the Melodic Death Metal acts of Sweden colliding with your Black Metal from Norway. You could say it’s altered a little. Like, at times you might think we changed but we still have that same style of anger and aggression. We don’t want to always fully repeat ourselves 100% but we won’t ever fully 180 on our fans either and say start making pop commercial music ha ha! Aside from what I mentioned earlier for the riff styles and structures my influences really come from guys like Dave Mustaine, Jeff Waters and Mille Petrozza. My goal no matter what is to write a song and by the end of it you will remember it all and want to listen to it a hundred times over. I can also safely say the guys in the band don’t ever want to seem like one trick ponies either.
Can you tell us about touring in Newfoundland and what has that experience been like?
With Newfoundland. It’s honestly not really financially smart to go extensively into touring. I mean, we always play in St. John’s cause it’s a massive lump of the population there. Not to mention a lot of the smaller areas now, people are either moved away working and it’s a retirement home for many so the success rate for anything that isn’t Jigs and Reels or Country is super slim. Now some of the bigger communities you might have some luck with but I mean, book a show well enough in advance and they’ll probably make the drive to see you anyways.
Are you guys planning on spreading your wings across the rest of Canada and maybe the World in the future?
We want to spread our wings across the whole globe. We want to play to as many extreme maniacs as possible and not limit ourselves to one geographical market.
Where can your current fans and new fans find you in the meantime?
Right now our current and upcoming fans can find us on our Facebook page (www.facebook.com/winterhearthmetal) . I’m currently looking into setting up a digital market for our music, as well as a domain of our own. I’m willing to bet our music is posted by people on Youtube so you can check us out there as well, you can also contact our Facebook page and see if anything in particular is in stock and arrange payment and shipping.
Black Metal is a growing Genre and is Huge in Norwegian Countries and Europe as well but is gaining speed in North America and the rest of the World respectively. Where do you guys fit into this growing process? and where do you see yourselves 5 years from now? What impact would you like to make on the music scene and the World in general?
In the growing process we’re trying to get some touring across the country organized. Finding the right people to try and help us. We are also shopping around press kits from Curse The Summer to record labels to see if anyone will bite. Five years from now I hope to see Winterhearth as a non stop machine and be touring and meeting as many new people as possible.
It has been fantastic and fun interviewing you guys and there are many more questions I would love to ask. Maybe we can do a follow up in the future after the release of your new album. Any last words for your fans and our readers?
I would love to do a follow up in the future once album two is released! It was a pleasure being interviewed for METAL ON LOUD as well! Well it’s very simple the kind of impact I want to make. I want to make people happy and turn their horrible days into great days by hearing our music. I also want to educate people, not in a preaching sense but just the opposite of “insert typical pop song lyrics”.Be patient with us writing the new album we want to create something that will destroy everyone’s minds! Also keep all the negative people away from you. Nobody needs people in their life telling them what they can’t achieve because I believe anything is possible no matter who you are and where you’re from. It’s been a blast guys!!!