Angels on the Battlefield has a mission to deliver asource of focus, confidence, and inspiration to anyone looking for guidance,through audio and visual artistic means.
~Angels on the Battlefield~
I love when a band shares a mission statement like this. Music is so much more than noise, and AOTB states this clearly. I had the opportunity to be introduced to JD of AOTB by Thomas Bellezza, who is the lead of Altayon and experience another awesome conversation with a talented artist. We are also lucky enough to be given permission to feature a brand-new single by AOTB. I hope you enjoy it! -Tabatha
So awesome to get to talk to you, JD! So, Angels on the Battlefield is primarily instrumental?
Yes, that’s correct.
I’ve seen the memes, or whatever they are called, where people are saying instrumental is the original root of metal. I really enjoy it, and I think it makes it to where we can concentrate on the music, so I am excited to talk to you about it.
Well, thank you!
In Flames is my personal favorite band of all time (mine too!) and my favorite isn’t even one of their harder songs. The fact that you guys align musically with that particular band is really cool.
Yeah, I love In Flames. I would have to say that In Flames and Killswitch Engage are my two biggest influences. Come Clarity, specifically, from In Flames is definitely my favorite by them.
And it’s an excellent album; it covers a vast…you can just see everything that they are capable of on that particular album. That’s my personal opinion of course.
I think that album stands out for me at least, because it definitely is very well-rounded. It shows the melodic death metal that is traditional to them and then where there are more American death metal influences. That album just goes up and down. It’s just really good.
I agree; it’s really an amazing album and they are a great band. I am really excited that we get to talk with you about what’s going on with Angels on the Battlefield this month. I think we need to have more unsigned, underground bands, and share your talents with them.
-We began chatting about Unearth, which is another band that AOTB sees as influential, as well as Animals as Leaders and The Faceless. -
You don’t really hear about The Faceless very often, so it’s cool that you mention them. Have you met them?
They are a cool band; I have not had the chance to meet them actually. They live out here in L.A, we just haven’t crossed paths yet. I heard about them a couple of years ago, introduced to them by their first album. I thought it was really cool, real thrashy and in your face, real proggy. Then they came out with Autotheism and from beginning to end I was like that’s it, this is perfection.
I don’t think they can get much better than that; but, I am sure they will and then we will be I see the flaws now (laughs)
That is probably the best, just my favorite album intro ever.
It really is pretty damn good.
So, you mention Killswitch Engage. They are really amazing too. You don’t usually hear a heavier group mention KSE, but many don’t realize that they have some heavy stuff in their repertoire.
Their album, Alive or Just Breathing, is one of my favorite albums. It actually made me want to pursue music for the rest of my life. (really?!) Yeah, I love that album. A couple of years ago they did the 10th anniversary tour where they played the whole album through, I was so happy to go to that. It was a magical moment.
That is awesome. It isn’t often that I have heard an artist be able to pinpoint exactly who or what was their inspiration to begin playing. I find it interesting that it was Killswitch that drove you to that, but you went in a completely different direction. Do you know why that is?
It's really interesting. When I first started, I was 14; when I heard the Primus cover with Ozzy. That song got me to pick up the guitar. Killswitch made me want to play music for the rest of my life and then I discovered In Flames and with them it was like, that is what I need to be doing. It was just a combination of those things and experience that led me here.
The rest is history, huh?
Definitely. Later on, I started to get into proggy stuff. Between the Buried and Me is one of my favorite bands.
I saw them on your list as well. I like them as well; they are one of those I have to be in the mood for if that makes sense.
They can be a little intense sometimes. (yeah)
Do you think that the different bands that led you to music also inspire you sound in some way, other than In Flames obviously?
Oh, totally. I feel like all the big bands that I listen to, I try to take as many notes from them as possible. With In Flames, the thing that I picked up is where the guitar picks up the voice and helps to create their melody. There’s the hook, but it’s the guitar doing it. With KSE, you have the dual-rhythm. Then there is all the weird proggy stuff, and I am going to write and go from there.
So I see that you are #42 on Reverbnation, how does that make you feel?
It feels pretty good. Number 42 over a few hundred or a few thousand, so it definitely feels pretty good.
Obviously you’re out in Los Angeles. I bet the weather is great there, we have rain coming down like crazy here.
You know, I am not gonna lie, I am originally from Long Island. That’s how I know Tom. Yeah, it gets kinda boring having constant sunshine. (bullshit flag thrown!) You know what, it’s so weird, I am used to have seasons to judge the passage of time. Out here, I’ve been out here about 2 and a half years, sometimes it feels like six months. I’m like, oh remember that thing that happened last week only to hear JD that was last year.
HAHA, poor guy. No winter, no fall….
I miss the snow as crazy as it sounds. I love driving it and it never bothered me to shovel.
You New York men. Crazy. You can keep that snow. I’m from North Carolina and let me tell you the worst thing in the world is a summer cold. Yuck Another thing that I wanted to tell you is that there is a quote in your introductory video. It just blew me away. What I got out of it is that as long as you are open minded and you progress you can do anything. So, I would really love to know what your message really is because I believe it to be more than music.
The overall message is that you can do and be whatever it is that you want. As long as you set your mind to it and have the confidence you can do whatever it is that you want to do. Too many people get down on themselves and don’t realize that they can make their own opportunities and reach their goals. Have the confidence to put yourself out there. That’s basically the message of the whole project.
I really want to know how you put everything together because while you play the guitar, it is definitely more than that. I want to know maybe your process, or why you write certain songs, like “beauty in a bodybag,” where did that come from?
Um, that one, I started writing that back on Long Island with an old band. Each song is inspired by something different, it can come from anywhere really. That one was actually in the middle of being written when the band broke up. The lead that given this song a working title, but wanted to make sure that I could keep the name. I ended up writing a story for it, so it’s ready for a music video that will eventually get done.
I am looking forward to that. For me, my interpretation is a man or a woman who is locked inside themselves and can’t seem to get out because they aren’t able to break free of their outside influences. Let’s talk about your new single, what’s going on with that?
I am going to be releasing a new single at the end of the month. I am really excited about it. I wrote this song a couple of years ago, and I love this song. I think it’s fun. I’ve finished recording and going to release that guy.
What’s it called?
Oh, it’s called “Leap of Faith.”
I like that!
So what inspired the name?
I was just writing and was kinda..I was just, I guess to boost myself. To tell myself to follow my dreams. To do the things that I had mentioned in my mission statement. So I sat down, wrote, and that’s what came out.
That is awesome.
I wrote that song just before I moved out here.
So it really speaks to your journey; you started in New York and now you’re out there in California. Will there be a video, or is it just a single?
That one will be a single. The next song that will be released will have videos. The goal is to release everything as a single so that the story can marinate with people. I like the single idea; it’s a nice way to introduce yourself.
So when you’re in the studio, what is your process? Do you write then record?
I’ll sit and I’ll write all the music, then record. It’s different when you are playing it, so after I listen to it if I want to make changes I can go back and do that. You can listen more. You can focus better when you’re outside the studio listening to it.
So you’re able to self-critique.
Yeah, then in the studio do the fine tuning.
That makes sense.
Your partners when you’re doing the music, how do you choose them?
It’s mostly people that I have met along the way. It’s cool, because I get to have a bunch of different views on what I have been writing. It keeps things fresh and interesting.
Which is smart in today’s industry, so that you don’t get lost in the shuffle.
I think the best way is to be able to separate yourself, don’t try to be formulaic; be true to youself. It’s like with Metallica. They get a lot of flak over changing their sound. I like Load and Re-Load, I’ll go on record with that. I think that if they had tried to keep in line with Master of Puppets or Ride the Lightening, they would have burnt themselves out.
I am going to completely agree with you on that, I happen to like both of those albums myself (high five!) and the major reason that I like them is because I think when they did those albums they were being true to themselves and who they were at that point in time. They were progressing as artists, rather than feeding the frenzy.
What’s cool with that is that the overall message of the band stayed the same. You can go to a Metallica concert and hear and variety. There’s so much out there, and its art. Why would you want to keep doing the same things over and over again?
It can be repetitive. Either way, you are always going to find people who don’t like it. People seem to think that music is only about making money, but it’s not just about the money. If art isn’t able to be expressed it can be robotic and no one wants that.
You said you were on tour as a roadie, but are you going to be touring yourself?
Not at the moment, it’s all recording for Angels on the Battlefield for now.
Do you practice a lot?
I make sure that I practice every day.
So when you’re writing is there a ritual of sorts for you?
I feel better at the end of the day with my writing; it just flows better for me then I think.
So what do you do for a living, if I can ask?
I just do this full-time.
That is awesome. It’s really cool, not many get to do what they love fulltime.
I’m not gonna lie; if it wasn’t for Thomas I wouldn’t have had the guidance, the knowledge to make sure that I can do that.
Haha. So is he your consultant?
Yes, yes he is my consultant. I think everyone should have a Tom, just saying.
Do you hear that Tom? A shameless plug there just for you.
Bbrproductions.com, check it out.
-We went on to chat about our dear mutual friend, Thomas, whom many know as Telmorn Altayon. He is also an actor, comedian, and personal consultant for actors and artists like JD. –
So what have you learned about the big show next year for Altayon defeating cancer; I know you’re a part of that line-up?
It’s good stuff. I just it’s going to be an acoustic show a year from now in New York City. I am pretty excited about it. I feel like you don’t need to be plugged in for it to be metal. You have bands like, Opeth, who have albums that are borderline prog-rock, but it’s still metal because of what they wrote and how they performed it. (I swear JD has seen the list of artists in this issue…)
I just love music in general.
I do too. I told my kids that that the only reason that I haven’t gone clinically insane is because I have my music and coffee.
You know what’s funny? I have pictures of myself drinking coffee all over the place but before I moved out here, I hated coffee.
Really?! (of course in my mind, if you don’t like coffee, we can’t be friends, J )
The thing to do out here for a casual meeting is to get coffee. Apparently people look at you funny if you order tea in a coffee shop. I discovered that there is actually good coffee.
-The revving of my 1964 Mustang interrupts and we are onto another tangent about being car lovers. It’s a clock, by the way J-
I love old cars…since we are talking about cars and music. Metal to me is the muscle car. The long-standing, hold-their-own, kick-your-ass car. That’s metal.
The discussion: Apparently the Mustang is metal-core like KSE. Symphonic metal can be likened to a Cadillac. Death metal is the Ford Roadster. We also decided that El Caminos are just fun for a family picnic.
I’ve taken up a lot of your time, so I just have two more questions for you. If you could tour with and perform with three bands, who would they be?
Hmmm…I think it would be cool to actually share the stage with Nekrogoblikon, so that would be one. In Flames, and Killswitch Engage. It’s definitely really spread out.
Is there anything you would like to say to our readers?
Stay confident; everyone makes mistakes and those are the best things. Have the courage to go out and do what you want. Think about it, be smart about it, and get out there and do it.
Thank you so much for your time, JD and I can’t wait to speak with you again soon!
Tabatha Spears Woodruff