Sunday 14 October 2012

Interview with Symbiosis

The Alien Cover Art

Today I am interviewing Adam Labutka (vocalist) from Symbiosis. A superb Crust/Hardcore/Post Metal Band who base their songs on the legendary Marvel Superhero - Spider-Man

I reviewed their new album - The Alien - earlier this year and I loved it. The album is a very dark and brooding masterpiece. This is what I said about the overall tone of the album.

“Imagine if Sony Pictures and Marvel Studios hired David Fincher to make Spider-Man well this album would be the result. Or would be the soundtrack to accompany that version.“

If you haven't checked these guys out. You really should as they fucking rock. Big time. Right. Lets get down to business.

Q1 – Hi Guys. Thanks for doing this. For People not in the know – Can you tell them how the band came about, When you formed etc...

The band has some unlikely beginnings. Brendan and I were playing in a post-folk outfit (him on banjo, me on trombone) that disbanded in late 2009 (and later reformed with some different personnel as the amazing Jon Felton and his Soulmobile). We also happened to live together and were discussing being in a band together again when I mentioned that I'd always wanted to front a hardcore band. So, we tracked down our friends John (bass) and Eric (drums) who had previously played together in some phenomenal, local hardcore and metal bands. After just a couple practices, Brendan and I pitched the Spider-Man concept to the rest of the group, and we were Symbiosis from that point forward.

We played our first show on February 14, 2010. Shortly after that, Eric moved down state, and we picked up Kyle on drums. He was a natural choice, as he already played in several bands and is on the lookout for more all the time. Caleb (guitar) then came on board to help fill out the sound after the first album was released last June.

Q2 – How would yourselves describe your sound. (I think your sound is a very highly original sound blending Post-Metal with Comic Book Mythology.)

Good question! After much friendly internal debate, I think we've decided that we're a post-metal band, so I'm glad to hear that you agree.

Q3 – Which bands influence you on your music.

Musically, we all come from different places, but Fall of Efrafa is a huge influence for the entire group. Brendan does the lion's share of the songwriting and brings a lot of d-beat and dark hardcore influence, but everyone brings something unique to the mix from his own musical experience, from punk and hardcore to metal to pop.

Q4 – Why the Spider-man influence. Why not Batman, Wolverine. Comic book characters with truly dark stories to their name. (I apologize now for my lack of Spider-man comic book knowledge).

Not to dismiss the Distinguished Competition, but I've always gravitated toward Marvel Comics. The characters, even for all their fantastic abilities and adventures, seemed much more grounded in reality. They may be spending half their time fighting to save the universe, but they spend the other half of it paying bills, going on dates, hanging out with friends.... Spider-Man is the epitome of this model; apart from the wall-crawling, he quite relatable. He's a tragic character, driven by guilt, and the more good he tries to do, the more insignificant his actions can seem in the grand scheme of things.

The goal isn't to be dark for the sake of darkness, but this man has had his parents, his uncle father figure, his girlfriend's father, his girlfriend, several friends, and countless strangers die tragically, many as a direct result of his actions. That alone calls for some degree of darkness of tone. There's a lot going on in these stories, and all we're really doing is expounding upon the themes that are already there, giving them a new voice for a different audience.

Q5 – Have you had any feedback from Marvel Comics themselves on your music. Are they aware of your existence.

As the fanboy of the group, I would love to send a message to some of the writers, maybe Brian Michael Bendis or Dan Slott, and say, "Hey, I love what you're doing so much that I started this band! I get it, you know? You should really check us out!" But at the end of the day, Marvel is a big, scary corporation, and now they're owned by Disney, which is an even bigger and scarier corporation. So, for the time being, we're completely content to dwell in the shadows, like a spider.

Q6 – How has your music been received by fans and critics. Has it all been positive.

Honestly, there haven't been a lot of fans or a lot of critics, mostly due to a relaxed schedule on our part. When we do play though, there's always someone who takes notice in a positive way, and that touches my heart.

Q7 – Is Symbiosis a Full Time Project or do you have normal jobs to do as well to support the band.

Symbiosis is something that we do for ourselves. It's something that we take seriously, but we do have other commitments. Not only do we have day jobs, but Brendan (Perfect Future), Kyle (Dogjaw), and I (The Working Week) each have other bands that currently take up a good bit of time.

All in all, we do a relatively good job of appearing to be normal dudes in our day-to-day lives, and we're proud of that.

Q8 – Are you families supportive of your band and music.

We have been blessed with very supportive families. Even when they aren't fans of the music, our parents have encouraged us over the years in what society would have us believe may not always be the wisest or financially sound decisions.

Q9 – What is the song-writing process like in the band. Is it a whole band collective or individuals that write the music.

The short answer is that Brendan writes the music and I write the lyrics. But everyone writes their own parts, and some songs have been more collaborative than others.

Q10 – You have said that you will release a trilogy of Spider-man albums. With The Alien being the first epic part and being very dark to boot. What can we expect in the 2nd part.

This is a misconception that a lot of people seem to have, and I don't recall us ever explicitly saying it. Our plan from the beginning has been to release two albums, but I think the idea of a trilogy is so ingrained in our thoughts about fiction that even I sometimes forget that we're working on the final album already.

About that second album, I don't want to say too much, but you can definitely expect a whole lot of hopelessness.

Q11 – What will happen with Symbiosis after you have finished the trilogy. Will you move onto something else in the comic book universe.

As I stated earlier, we each have other things going on, musically and otherwise. That said, I personally would never rule out a LOST-themed post-rock band.

Q12 – When your performing live do people find it hard to listen to a Post-Metal band singing about Spider-Man. Or do they dig the music right away. I did with your album as it's a very dark album. Plus it had some amazing riffs to go with it as well.

First of all, thank you! When we're setting up our merch table before shows, we usually get into some talks about the Spider-Man theme, and generally people are intrigued, even if they don't know quite what to expect. I can't count the number of times someone has asked me if we cover the theme song from the Spider-Man cartoon from the '60s.... But once we start playing, the crowd is on board, at least with the music. I can't say for certain how many people read the lyrics and make the connections. In my ideal world, we would have a suggested reading list for each song, but that's just me being a comic nerd. The bottom line is that people are finding something in the music to latch onto.

Q13 – What is the gig scene like in your home town. Do you get a chance to do a lot of local shows or do you have to travel further away from home to get your music across.

Frostburg is a rural, mountain town with a small but very engaged "punk" scene. There are bars to play at, but those are usually dominated by cover bands. Currently, the only consistent location for D.I.Y. all ages shows is The Warren. This also happens to be where Brendan and I live. Symbiosis has played at The Warren a several times with some phenomenal touring band as well as at a couple of the aforementioned bars. We haven't played out of town much, but we're hoping to make it back to Pittsburgh soon.

Q14 – With you being fans of Spider-man. What's your verdict on the new film – The Amazing Spider-man. I didn't like it that much. They have turned it into the Twilight Version in my opinion. Bored me to pieces.

Everyone in the band seemed to enjoy Amazing Spider-Man. No one loved it, but we all enjoyed it. Personally, I think the Lizard was lame in the film. Here you have the opportunity to dive into how this man's obsession turns him against his wife and son, and you completely leave out his family?! I don't understand that. But everything involving Gwen Stacy was handled really well. At the very least, it was better than the Sam Raimi trilogy.

I always recommend that people read the comics if they're interested in Spider-Man, and I'd be happy to make recommendations of specific story arcs and runs to anyone who asks. But as far as film mediums, I recommend the Spectacular Spider-Man TV series. The animation style may be off-putting for some, but the tone, storytelling, and character development are spot on.

Q15 – What are the future plans for the band. Anything exciting happening in the future.

Right now, all of our creative energy is being focused on the new album. From there, who knows?

Thanks for talking to us Adam. Can't wait for the next part of the Symbiosis story. Personally I am a big fan of your band and your amazing debut album. Keep up the great work.

Check out this amazing band below: