Act of Defiance, ‘The Talisman’ – Exclusive Song Premiere + Interview
Act of Defiance are ramping up to the release of their new album, Old Scars, New Wounds, which is due this Friday (Sept. 29) and is available to pre-order here. But before the album drops, they've teamed up with Loudwire for the exclusive premiere of their song "The Talisman."
The track opens with some acoustic guitar play before increasing the heaviness and intensity, with vocalist Henry Derek powering through the vocals and Chris Broderick getting in some nifty solo work. Providing the driving rhythm section are drummer Shawn Drover (who, along with Broderick, is a former member of Megadeth) and bassist Matt Bachand (founding guitarist of Shadows Fall).
Broderick tells us of the song, "Matt [Bachand] wrote 'The Talisman,' the music for it, and it was actually even a little bit slower than it is now. We kind of listened to it and thought, the tempo should come up just a little bit so we worked on that and then the acoustic entrance originally was an electric guitar idea that Matt had and then I took it and kind of ran with it and kind of made it my own a little bit and put it on acoustic because I thought it sounded more intimate. It does suit the lyrics in terms of content better I think."
He continues, "To me the song overall is great. Matt did a great job adding the slow, doomy vibe to the song and Henry's vocals and lyrics that he wrote supports that. I do love it for that reason because it isn't just on 11 the whole time. It seems like so many bands, and songs, even when we write, it seems like you get this feeling like we have to be on 11 the whole time. But this song rails against that idea, and that's why I love it so much."
We also had a chance to chat with Broderick about the new album, as the guitarist hit on some key tracks, discussed the band's growing chemistry and he also spoke about employing some fresh guitar techniques for this set. Check out our chat about Act of Defiance's Old Scars, New Wounds album below:
I know this is the first album you guys have done as a four piece together. Was it any less stressful this time around having all four of you all on the same page and doing this all together?
It's interesting. We thought it would be extremely less stressful, just because we knew the stresses that were created last time by just really wanting to try and get a CD out as soon as possible. So we were trying to prepare as early as possible for the outcome of this CD. We were thinking along those lines, but no matter what, I've come to this conclusion that when you're writing you always feel under the gun.
It's one of those things where things start piling up, and you've always had all of these considerations that kind of develop as your writing. But, ultimately, I would say it was a huge difference in the idea that both Matt [Bachand] and Henry [Derek] could contribute on this CD and that we could do it as a band and not really just have Shawn [Drover] and I trying to get the ball rolling with all of the writing and forming the band and trying to look for label support. All of those things that were going on with Birth and the Burial.
Obviously you had quite a bit of time to tour on the last LP to get to know these guys. Did any of the writing start on that tour or once you were off everyone settled into their own thing?
A little bit of writing was happening during the tour but not nearly as much as you may think. A couple of ideas were found, I think, while we were touring but for the most part the conception of the songs happen much the same way as they did in Birth and the Burial. So Old Scars, New Wounds had these songs kind of born out of each individual. So I wrote a certain amount of songs, Matt wrote songs, Sean wrote songs - Henry wrote songs and we put them all together and then that's when we start collectively working on them, whether it was the song format or the vocal line as far as its melodic line whether it should sound heavy or clean, whatever was appropriate for the song in that sense. And that's where it got much more collaborative.
I believe you were talking about learning some new guitar techniques or approaches. Can you talk about what you wanted to do solo wise and fitting some of the stuff you wanted to do into these songs?
So, really early on before any of the songs were written I thought about all of these different techniques I wanted to make sure I utilize on the CD -- things such as utilizing more of my two handed tapping, utilizing some of my finger picking like classical guitar finger picking but in my solo area and not just where you would traditionally find it. I wanted to use the tremolo bar more in creative ways and do things that add diversity to your sound. So I kind of in the back of my head really wanted to make sure I utilized some of those things, but the funny thing was is, I think as I mentioned earlier as we were writing the CD it was all catching up and felt stressful. So by the time I was working on my solos and leads, I just wanted to see what it is that I want to come out of this, and I had totally forgot about the idea of putting those techniques on and just was listening to the rhythm and trying to imagine what type of material I wanted to hear. The great thing was is that it really suited a lot of those technical ideas. So when I imagine what I wanted out of a solo, it really supported some of those tracks so they happened in a very natural way. I was super happy with that, because I didn't expect that happen at all.
Matt had obviously played guitars with Shadows Fall and he switched to bass for this band. Do you guys compare notes at all on the guitar parts, or is it strictly guitar is your thing and he's now moved on to bass?
A little bit of both, actually, because when Matt writes he's writing on the guitar. So I get to see how Matt intends to play the instrument and his sensibilities and how he likes to structure songs and stuff like that just through his writing. But at the moment that he hands it off to me, then it becomes mine to work with and to kind of add my sensibilities to.
"MIA" -- Mis-Information Age, is a very timely track. If you want to talk a little bit about the origins of that song, both lyric wise and what you did musically?
Lyrically, I actually wrote the lyrics on that song and obviously it is based on the current state of the Internet. It was just really baffling to me to see how much information people were getting that they found was credible to support their views and yet had no sourcing and no real foundation. Well who is the source and how credible are they? Nobody was seeming to do that one way or another. I thought it was real odd, because people are becoming so polarized based on these concepts and yet the foundation for their belief -- there is none. They don't have a concept. So the lyric is just basically, make sure that you search out the source and make sure that even if it's contrary to what you believe that you know the truth behind it. Because on the Internet these days, people aren't telling you the truth, they're telling you what they want you to believe. They're telling you propaganda and you've got to be weary of that.
Absolutely. It's mind-blowing to me what we grew up with as news and how it's presented to us this day, on the Internet or otherwise. It's just kind of a weird situation because there always seems to be some sort of agenda to who's putting it out there.
Yeah, to me there are a few wrong, horrible things behind it and one is that, that you're getting fed a lot of propaganda to try and sway your ideas behind something that may not be true. The second is, you get things that certain news outlets want to portray on certain stories. For them, a lot of times the bottom line can be about just getting you to watch because that's advertising dollars for them. So everything is sensational and hyperbolic in my mind when everything is the latest, greatest, breaking news. There never used to be that. It used to be just much more factual. I think we need to get back to that state.
"Overexposure," I know Henry contributes on that one. Let's talk about the base of where that song comes from.
Sure, it is a song that Henry wrote and we got together on it really early on and he had shown me how he'd play it on guitar. I worked that out and then worked with him on the arrangement, writing a few transitions and breakdown parts, stuff like that. We got the song from pretty early on. He pretty much had the lyric. The lyrics themselves are about not selling out and just holding your ground, your beliefs and your artistry. That's basically it. The name is somewhat self-explanatory but the song says it really well.
Also wanted to hit on "Conspiracy of the Gods," as well. The title of the album comes from a piece in that song. How did that song come about and let's discuss how the title actually plays into that?
Shawn wrote the music for that song and in my mind, if you want to get a straight up, just solid metal tune, you go to Shawn. He writes really cohesive songs that have a really good direction and sense of resolution. 'Conspiracy of the Gods' is the perfect representation of that idea. Henry, I think maybe he and Shawn collaborated on the lyrics for that particular song. But, the way it turned out with the harmonies and the chorus and the heavy singing, the mixture of those things, i thought was awesome. For me it's just a testament to Shawn and how well he can write a killer metal tune.
The artwork for this album is very striking. Travis Smith did the artwork for you and he's worked on some other great album covers. Did you give him any sort of direction in terms of what you were looking for for the cover?
Travis is awesome. He's always been one of my favorite artists for metal CDs and just in general. The way he mixes the idea of realism with artistry and abstract usage of images or the way the colors in his artwork just is perfect. This time he usually works by getting some input with some of the song titles and concepts that we may have, and this time it was no different with Old Scars, New Wounds. He has all these great ideas to start throwing out there and we'll come back with ideas of our own. For example, the cover was built off the idea of wanting to create a central figure but then adding other elements into the picture as well and the dark theme. I think it really came together and I just think Travis did a great job. [laughs] There are so many album covers that I can pick out that I loved that he had done, that's why we've used him for both albums. Birth and the Burial and Old Scars, New Wounds.
I can't wait to see what it's going to be like live. A lot of this stuff sounds like it'll translate real well. I know you guys are chomping at the bit to get out there. Are there songs off the album in particular that you really want to see how they're going to go over with your fans?
I'm interested to look at a lot of them because of what we've talked about earlier with taking songs like "The Talisman" being a little bit of a reprieve from the insane tempos. I would love to see how that goes over live and then a song like "Molten Core," which is the opposite, which is very fast and very in your face. It's very intense for the whole song. I want to see how the crowd reacts to that. One of the ones I'm most looking forward to seeing is "Rise of Rebellion" and seeing how people react to an anthemic song.
At this point, anything yet on dates when we might see you out there playing?
Nothing that we can release at this time, but we are planning an early 2018 North American tour. After that we're looking at both South America, Europe, Europe for the summer festivals and then hopefully after those we'll be targeting the Pacific Rim as well.
In terms of the live show, are you thinking just straight up performance or starting to add any production?
I think we're gonna wheel out our wheelchairs and kind of our walkers and then we'll going to beat people over the heads with them! No, I don’t know. Our live performance, I think we're going to put that together as we look at the different tours we're going to be playing on. We've got some ideas for some added production, but its gonna be limited within the venues were touring at, the levels we're touring at and whether it's feasible or not. But we always intend on obviously trying to do the music as much justice as possible, and then interacting with the crowd like maniacs. That's my goal anyways.
Our thanks to Act of Defiance's Chris Broderick for the interview and to the band for the premiere of "The Talisman." As stated, the new 'Old Scars, New Wounds' album drops on Friday (Sept. 29) and you can pick up the disc here. Stay tuned for news on Act of Defiance's touring in support of the album.