An Interview With Aaron Robinson of Blood of Angels
DK: How’s it going Aaron?
AR: Absolutely fantastic! Everything has been going in a positive direction. Thank you so much for this opportunity. I have some friends who are originally from Chicago, I told them I was doing this interview, and they geeked out. I was already excited, but their excitement took it to a whole new level.
DK: Well, it is an honor to be featuring the band too and thank you also for taking the time today to chat! So, I’m sorry to say that I have only recently observed that there has been a growing trend towards bands with heavy interests in Viking folklore that I never knew existed. Tell me about Blood of Angels’ interests in the folklore and what it means to each of you?
AR: My interest came from my grandfather. My dad’s father immigrated from Norway. I grew up with the food and the stories he told me. Which began my fascination with Norse mythology. What heightened my interest was traveling through the Scandinavian countries. I fell in love with the culture, and really enjoyed the food. The people were wonderful, and warm. When I came back to the states, I really got into expanding my knowledge on the history and culture of the region.
DK: Kind of an obvious question, so, sorry in advance of that, but what do you think of Marvel’s take on Thor and how they’ve portrayed the mythology in the movies?
AR: It is very different than the actual mythology of course. Some people get irritated by the inaccuracy of the portrayal. My thing is, is that it is a fantasy story based on a mythological character. Mythology is just old fantasy. Unlike the “Viking” tv show, they are not trying to portray actual history.
DK: Yeah, I pretty much figured, but thought it worth asking all the same. Has the band observed a lot of fans that have really been into the lore as well? Have you had some good discussions with fans over it?
AR: There have been a lot of fans really into the lore. The images, and stories are just a perfect fit for the atmosphere of the music. I haven’t had any discussions with fans over it. Fans mostly talk about the music, or how I play.
DK: It is a start at least, right? When I was growing up back in the 80’s, Iron Maiden’s albums really inspired me to learn more about the subjects of their songs, I hope the same will be true for fans of your music as well. Tell me about the Rise of the Fallen Gods EP, how long did it take to write, record and produce it?
AR: Those songs were some of the ones that I had for the third album of my former band. When my old band ended, I had these songs ready to go. It took about 4 months to record and produce the EP. Mostly because of studio scheduling.
DK: How has the band marketed the EP so far?
AR: We have worked with two PR agencies, Qabar PR and Metal Coffee PR. Both have been fantastic for us. Between both PR firms we have had the opportunity to do a lot of interviews. We have also done a few videos.
DK: Does the band have a good following in Europe as yet? It seems with your sound and subject matter, you’d all fit in well overseas.
AR: We have a strong European audience. Our record label that we are looking to go with is a European label. We have also developed a strong fan base in Southeast Asia. There is a strong love for death metal that has developed in that part of the world.
DK: Awesome… glad to hear it! From the first few seconds that I heard of ‘Miscreant Deeds of Loki’, I knew Blood of Angels was a band worthy of being featured… sharp-edged, tight and professional all the way, how much time does the band spend perfecting your sound and performances?
AR: Thank you, that is a very large compliment. Thankfully it doesn’t take a lot of time. I hire experienced musicians to work with. Most of the time they get the direction and feel of the song right away. Then it is just playing the song repeatedly until it feels like second nature.
DK: Where has the band performed so far and how have the shows been?
AR: We haven’t done any shows. When I released the EP, I wanted to see how it would be received before making a big investment to tour. We have been working on a full-length album to be titled “The Failure of Faith.” After the release of the album, we plan on hitting the road.
DK: Ah, OK… It is very wise of you to wait to build the interest. How interactive are you with your fans in person and online?
AR: I always answer. And if the message is in a different language besides English or Spanish, I use google translate. I always tell them I a using google translate just in case the translation isn’t perfect. I love getting messages from the fans. It makes my day and gives me the added boost to keep writing and working. Then I know the music means something to someone else.
DK: You’ve already got so much of ‘the right stuff’ for the bigger leagues, and you know full well how the demands can be, but it sounds like you were made to rise above any challenge and meet them head on. I am truly impressed by the way your work ethic is with the band, not many possess that drive and determination. The song, ‘Final War’ recently charted to #3 on radio, how does that make you feel to be recognized like that?
AR: Fantastic! I love the fact that people are listening, and program directors are loving the sound. Crafting the sound has taken many years. A lot of trial and error. I am almost close to what I wanted to achieve musically.
DK: You were also featured in a DVD compilation, The Imperative Music Company out of Brazil, how did that come about and what have the responses to that been like?
AR: Our PR firm Metal Coffee PR submitted our music to the Imperative Music Company. I got an email from them offering if we would like to be on the DVD compilation. They already had some major bands that agreed to be on the compilation. It is a great opportunity for us, it was a no brainer to be apart of this. It has been a wonderful for us.
DK: Does the band have management at this time?
AR: We are currently working with Steven Veninga at Hollywood Collective. He has hustled for us out in LA.
DK: Ah… good to know! What have been the most challenging aspects of the music industry in this band or others that you’ve faced? How have you overcome them?
AR: Getting paid is the biggest challenge. Everyone is excited for you to play their festival, club, or tour. Then you start to bring up money and then enthusiasm drops in the conversation. I think very few artists have overcome this obstacle. Those are the household names.
DK: Sadly, I’ve been there too decades ago in my old speed metal band, the Killer Kitchen Utensils. What would be a ‘word to the wise’ kind of tip that you would offer younger artists on any lessons learned in your music career that could help them?
AR: Never give up your vision, and don’t compromise what you want your sound to be. If you believe in what your doing other people will believe in it too. Practical advice would be to save your money. Publicists, websites, and marketing cost money. If you sign a deal when someone else covers your marketing costs, you will never see a dime.
DK: Very good tip, thank you for sharing. Would you say the metal market is as strong as ever?
AR: I don’t think it is. The biggest time for the metal market was back in the 90’s. That was when it didn’t matter the style of metal you played, all bands of different styles played together. I remember when Pantera toured with Skid Row. That was a great tour that brought all kinds of metal fans together. Everything in metal now is specialized into a niche market. I have had people tell me, “I like your sound, but I really only listen to progressive melodic post-hardcore.” I really didn’t know how to react to that. I always felt that if the songs are good, and it was heavy why does it matter if a band’s sound fit into a narrow category.
DK: (laughs) like Starbucks’ cafe’ latte half-calf grande whatever it is they call it… I think we’ve all sub-categorized music into too many specialities for our own good. We always have to analyze and define every aspect of our lives, music or otherwise to a point that it becomes absurd. But, I digress. With such a vast array of artists out there, from Doom Metal to Speed Metal… how do you separate yourselves from other artists out there?
AR: When I write, I don’t limit myself to a specific sub-genre. I love everything metal from doom, power, black, death, industrial, gothic, and thrash metal. Why should I limit myself to just one specific sound. I have been trying for many years to blend them into one cohesive sound where it all fits. We have been called death metal, black metal, or melodic death metal. It all works for me.
DK: Well, rest assured, as I said earlier, within the first few seconds of listening to ‘Miscreant Deeds of Loki’, after listening to ReverbNation submission after submission, your music stood out above the rest, so take comfort in knowing that great music will always get noticed. What are the musical backgrounds of the band, how long has each of you played your respective instruments and has anyone had any lessons?
AR: I have been playing the guitar for 31 years. I did a lot of music study in high school as elective courses. I have studied a lot of books and exercises. I know Michael has been playing guitar and bass for 10 years. Kevin has been a drummer 10 years as well. Chris has performed for few different bands in Jacksonville, and he knows how to get an audience attention on stage. All these have had awesome music careers prior to working with me. It has been a privilege to work with these guys on this EP.
DK: The band had won the Independent Music Awards, what other accomplishments has the band achieved thus far?
AR: That was the big achievement for us. We also won the Independent Music and Entertainment Award for “Metal Band of the Year.” We also won three Akademia awards in August 2017 for “Best metal Song”, “Best Metal EP”, and “Best Metal Video.” Also, we have been charted by a lot of radio stations. The DVD compilation you mentioned earlier. It has been a successful run.
DK: What is a ‘day in the life’ of Blood of Angels?
AR: It is mostly me jamming and writing new songs. Doing research for lyrical historical accuracy. We will be doing pre-production of our new songs in the next couple of months.
DK: Awesome! You just reminded me of a Canadian artist whom I like a lot named Loreena McKennitt who will take years to research the subjects of her albums/songs and travel to many of the places too. I was very impressed with that level of dedication and the level of instrumentation she uses also matches the subject matter too. It would be cool to see Blood of Angels take that approach further on down the line in a metal kind of way. What would the band like to accomplish for the rest of this year yet?
AR: To get in the studio and start tracking the new album.
DK: What are some long term goals each of you would like to accomplish?
AR: I’ve got a lot of plans. And I hope to accomplish them all before everything is said and done with my life. They’re a lot of album subjects and stories to tell, as well as festivals and tours that we would like to play.
DK: Thank you very much for your time and I wish you all the best with your careers!
AR: Thank you again for the opportunity. It was a pleasure.
DK: Same here Aaron!
Biography: Re-writing the rules and pushing boundaries, Blood of Angels are set to up the ante with their imminent album release ‘Rise of the Fallen Gods’. The Floridian four-piece combine the full on death metal attack with black metal sensibilities, all with flourishes of melody.
Aaron Robinson (guitar), Michael Stewart (bass), Chris Iibucha (vocals) and Kevin Phillips (drums) meld metal sensibilities honed over several years pounding out sounds that challenge – and delight – fans of extreme music.
Based in Jacksonville the members have rolled together their collective experience from previous acts into a potent powerhouse of metal.
Axeman Aaron has previously played and toured with acts such as Foreshadow, and believes that Blood of Angels is the next step.
“I still have something to say, and I have a vision for a different metal sound,” he says. “I also have many ideas for new musical projects that I want to bring to life.”
For the whole band, the build-up to the release of ‘Rise of the Fallen Gods’ is a chance to take their careers to the next level and expose head bangers to a mosh pit of pure intensity.
The translation of the live sound onto an album is a step that will see Blood of Angels rise to the next level.
They may be based in Jacksonville but the band will reach out from Florida across the states and much further afield as the heavy collaborative are ready to conquer – get ready to yield before their metal might.
With hints of Dark Tranquility, Slayer, Iron Maiden, Amon Amarth, Dying Fetus and Morbid Angel within their sound, they take that mix and add their own dark twists and turns.
Blood of Angels is a band whose members are “on the same page” said Aaron, who with his three band mates have similar ideas about their music and how it should be delivered.
And, they understand that having a wealth of good ideas and tunes is not enough. This is band whose members know that when you hit the stage or track in a studio it is just important to be professional and business-like. How else did Maiden, Metallica and Slayer get to the top, other than being savvy about the music industry?
That doesn’t mean there is anything cold and clinical about Blood of Angels. Instead there is passion in abundance, authority in every note and riffs that will wreck your neck.
Coming at you Blood of Angels are going to wrest you from your comfortable life, tear you from mediocre playlists and offer you redemption from the run of the mill mainstream.
This is metal how it should sound; this is metal in your face; this is metal that will melt your ears; this is metal that takes you on dark sonic journeys – this is BLOOD OF ANGELS.