Veil of Maya Guitarist Marc Okubo on ‘Matriarch’ Album, New Vocalist, ‘Game of Thrones’ + More
With a new album under their belt, Veil of Maya were also announced as part of this year’s Summer Slaughter Tour. We recently had the chance to speak with guitarist Marc Okubo about the new disc, Matriarch, as well as what usually inspires his writing. A Game of Thrones fanatic, Okubo discusses his love for the show and its effect on Veil of Maya’s music. The guitarist also talks about bringing in new vocalist Lukas Magyar and much more. Check out our full interview with Marc Okubo below:
What does this title Matriarch mean to you?
When I’m writing new albums, I come up with code names at the top of my head and this time around I was interested in writing for female characters that I liked in movies and TV shows or comics that I was reading. I decided to keep all of the song titles I came up with which were female names and I thought that Matriarch would be an appropriate title to sum up a powerful female figure.
Especially with a song title “Daenerys,” are you Game of Thrones die-hard? [There was also a GOT reference in the previous album with the track called “Winter Is Coming.”]
Oh yes! It’s just a show that I think everybody in the band watches – I’m a big fan of it obviously. Daenerys, at the time was by far the coolest female character.
Are there any current TV shows that you are currently addicted to besides Game of Thrones?
Yeah there’s actually a bunch, recently the last one I got into was a recommendation from our label owner. He got me into a show called Ray Donovan, it’s really good I like that one a lot. I’m into Adventure Time a lot right now, that’s my favorite show. That’s what I do on tour, when I can’t sleep, I try to catch up on shows.
This is the first album featuring new vocalist Lukas Magyar. How was the process of bringing him into the fold for you and the rest of the band?
Starting off, it was really hectic because a lot of the changes we were going through were unexpected. We knew Brandon [Butler] wasn’t going to be in the band before it got announced and we had this whole strategy planned for announcing it. We planned on having the album finished before we were going to announce getting a new vocalist because we didn’t want to set people off or anything but that got messed up.
After it was announced that Brandon wasn’t going to be in the band, Lukas actually hit up our manager and had an audition. We just really liked his audition and met up with him and thought he was a chill dude. Now we’re training him into being a wired vocalist and it’s hard considering Brandon was in the band for seven years.
He’s been doing exceptionally well and we’re still working on building up our live presence as well as figuring each other out. So far everything is working out great. He [Lukas] obviously had a lot of new elements to add to the band, singing being the main one. He was just nailing all of these takes super easily and it just seems like a natural progression for us.
We wanted to have singing on our previous album and we were planning on having some of our friends do guest spots on this album because none of us were very confident in our singing voices yet. Lukas took that extra step and now we have it all in one.
I remember seeing Lukas’ live debut with Veil of Maya last year during Knotfest.
It was crazy that you saw us at Knotfest because that was days after Lukas auditioned for us. That was his first live experience, ever. [Laughs] His first live show was with Slipknot! He’s from a town of like 3,000 people so there were probably more people watching us at that show than people that live in his hometown. That’s honestly the most people he’s ever seen at once, I think. [Laughs]
Aside from having a new vocalist, how does Matriarch differ from previous Veil of Maya albums?
There are a lot of different things that we’ve done for the first time on this album but it kind of gets overshadowed. There are clean guitar tones, we had Matt Good from First to Last do all of the electronic programming. There’s an electronic section layered in with the guitar – if you’re really listening closely you can really hear so much more depth. There’s a lot of stuff going on, it’s the most attention to detail that we’ve ever put into one of our albums.
After the first round of listens, some of my favorites are “Ellie” “Three-Fifty” and “Lucy.” What are some of your favorite tracks off this new album?
“Three-Fifty” is actually one of my favorites, if you like the older material and you listen to that song you’re like, “What is going on?” I can’t even really call it a metal song, it’s almost kind of got pop elements in there but it doesn’t sound like any other band out there. It’s kind of its own thing, what’s cool about it is that we’re able to build our own unique identity and transcend genres. I think the ones where we have a lot of singing and a lot of pop elements are my favorite.
With a new album comes a lot of touring. What is one non-electronic item you must have on tour with you? Why?
Non-electronic, wow that really changes things. [Laughs] Wow, I think my toothbrush and deodorant – how about my toiletry bag? That’s definitely everything I need that’s not an electronic. Toiletry bags are a cheap answer, but I need it. [Laugh]
Check Out Veil of Maya's Video for the New Track "Mikasa"