Jay of ETHERIUS was kind enough to answer a few questions for me out of his busy schedule. The interview talks about “Thread of Life” and “The Rivers of Sand and Blood” as well as background about the band.
Jay, thank you for taking the time out of your busy schedule.
My pleasure. Thank you for having me.
Please tell me a little background about your band ETHERIUS and how you decided on the name?
The idea for Etherius really started in the fall of 2016 after touring with Angel Vivaldi and Gus G. I’ve been playing with Angel since 2009 and have done a bunch of tours with him. I had always wanted to make an instrumental solo album for years. Seeing Gus and Angel kicking ass on stage together every night was so inspiring. That was the push I needed to make this new project a reality. Once I had the music together, I ended up contacting Zaki our drummer and he and I started pre-production. Zaki and I have known each other for years coming up together in the NJ metal scene. I had played with Chris, our bass player, in a previous band, so our relationship goes back almost 10 years. Jon came into the band after the first EP on a recommendation from Zaki, and the rest is history as they say. I decided to make it a band rather than use my own name because of how good the other guys are. We originally wanted to call the band Ethereal, which means elegant or exquisite. Ethereal was already the name of a black metal band. After a few weeks of going back and forth and making a list of literally hundreds of names, Chris suggested Etherius. We loved it and it stuck.
How has your experience with your previous projects influence your music career?
I feel like all of the experiences and knowledge I’ve gained from each previous project has set me up for success this time around with Etherius. I’ve learned from my past missteps, how to deal with people in the music business and talk to fans, and how to market myself and the band. Seeing how some of the best and most successful musicians operate and conduct business has been like going to school.
Can you introduce the members of ETHERIUS along with their backgrounds and musical interests?
On drums we have Zaki Ali. Zaki and I go back many years coming up together in the NJ music scene. In addition to being an accomplished drummer, Zaki is also proficient at guitar and piano. He owns and runs a recording studio out of his house called Redshift Recording. A lot of our progressive metal sound comes from Zaki. His understanding of complex rhythms is where a lot of our time and tempo changes come from. He also orchestrated the bulk of the keyboard and synth sounds on the album.
On bass we have Chris Targia. Chris actually got his start playing bass for Angel Vivaldi a few years before I was in the band. That is how we were introduced. Chris and I played together in a band called Shadows of Dawn for many years before doing Etherius. He brings a more eclectic range of musical taste to the band, including a love of bands like Primus, Blotted Science, and Gojira among others. A lot of our songs have slap bass sections that add to the groove because of that.
On second guitar we have Jon Perkins. Jon wasn’t involved in the creation of the first album “Thread of Life,” but he brought his jazz/classical influences to the new album. Jon studied jazz and classical guitar in school and has arranged and composed music for choirs and orchestras. He also had a huge hand in orchestrating the keyboard and synth sounds on the new album. He also contributed a couple of killer electric guitar solos and a classical guitar solo as well.
Can you tell me about your latest EP “Thread of Life” and what song is your favorite and which song you are promoting right now?
“Thread of Life” is the result of the music I wrote during the Fall of 2016 when I was putting the band together. I wrote all the music and Zaki and Chris helped out with some of the arrangements. We were so prepared going into recording that it basically recorded itself. Angel Vivaldi helped out with a lot of the lead guitar parts on that album and I’m so proud of how it all came out. We’ve been promoting our song “The Inevitable End” because that song has been gaining quite a bit of traction between Spotify and the music video we released for it. My favorite song tends to change but right now it’s “March and Defy” because it has some of my most challenging solos.
When I was first introduced to the band, I was expecting a huge screaming vocal drop while playing “Thread of Life”, but to my surprise there was none. Why did you choose to go the instrumental route?
I honestly think there are so many metal bands that have killer instrumentation and then when the vocal kicks in I can’t listen to it anymore. Screaming has been so overdone and it gets old after a while. With that being said, I still love death and black metal. But I grew up on singers like Matt Barlow from Iced Earth, Hansi Kursch of Blind Guardian, Bruce Dickinson, Rob Halford, Geoff Tate, etc. I wanted to create music in which the guitar melody is the “vocal.” It’s much more challenging than writing lyrics in my opinion.
What was it like to create the music video “The Inevitable End” on the EP?
That was so much fun! Quite possibly the easiest video shoot I have been a part of. We wanted something that matched the speed and high energy sound of the song. It was directed by Eric DiCarlo of Squareup Studios. We set everything up and in 5 or 6 hours we were done. Nice and easy.
Tell me how you are planning for your April tour “Terrestrial Takeover 2020” with Allegaeon?
This is our first tour, and we’re the opening band. So, our main objective isn’t to have a fancy stage show, or some crazy production. We just want to go out and blow everyone away with the quality of the music and how tight we are. So, we’re just rehearsing a lot and making sure the set flows smoothly. Also working hard promoting it since our album will be coming out during the tour.
With the song off your upcoming album dropping today, tell me more about it and how the new album will be different from “Thread of Life.”
The new single “The Rivers of Sand and Blood” is relentless and one heavy riff after another. We wanted to write a song that was meant to be played live. We could imagine how the crowd would react, the energy they would give us, and the huge circle pit that would open up in the middle of the floor. The new album is definitely darker and more aggressive than “Thread of Life.” We wanted to create music that appeals to anybody who loves music and musicianship. A lot of music in the instrumental guitar genre tends to cater to other musicians, but we’re not concerned with that. We want anyone to like our music, whether you play an instrument or not.