Interviewer: Cameron Edney - http://insideout666.mysite.freeserve.com
Being Australia Day today it seemed fitting
to publish an interview on a great Australian metal band, Lycanthia.
The band that formed in 1996 has battled line-up changes & has
hammered on despite what I like to call a quite period in Australian
metal. Now with a rock & metal scene blooming once again Lycanthia
are one of the bands right at the top of the list! Lycanthia are not
your average metal band, we are not talking about four guys with long
hair thrashing out. Lycanthia has six members; Lee, Stephen, Sabine,
Giovanni, James & Samantha and what makes Lycanthia so unique
is that for a metal band they don't just have a keyboardist they also
have a violinist which really takes Lycanthia to a place where many
metal bands never dare to tread. Lycanthia's 1999 album ‘Myriad’
was well received by the critics and fans alike and seen the band
performing to even larger audiences. Having six creative forces in
the band Lycanthia deliver power and intensity with every performance.
I had the pleasure of catching up with both Lee & Stephen earlier
this month to talk about the Australian metal scene, writing and recording,
being on the road & much more.
Metal Fanatix: Hi Guys, it’s
great to finally catch up to do the interview, thanks for putting
some time aside for our readers, how did you see in 2006?
Stephen Mikulic: I went to a few clubs
in Sydney for NYE & did a gig with Lycanthia the following weekend
which was great. Lee & a few other members of Lycanthia went on
a camping trip for NYE.
Metal Fanatix: Let’s start back
at the beginning, for those who don’t know, tell us how Lycanthia
Lee Tassaker: Well, Lycanthia formed
in 1996. We released the first demo in 1997; followed up by our first
CD entitled ‘Myriad” 1999. We did a promotional single
‘Inferno’ 2001 as well as tracks featured on compilation
albums. The band has had various line-up changes which has overtime
built the strong unit we are today. Lycanthia has been gigging consistently
in Australia for the past year with a release due shortly.
Stephen Mikulic: As for myself, after
having a chat with Lycanthia guitarist Giovanni at the Rock Machina
Metal festival in Spain 2002, I decided I would audition when I got
back to Sydney.
Metal Fanatix: Does it annoy you that
people are constantly trying to put bands into specific genres whether
it’s doom, black or gothic metal to name a few?
Stephen Mikulic: It can be annoying
as people who see us play often say they were quite pleased at our
performance; they expected us to be not to their liking so this can
prevent us from receiving the exposure we deserve.
Metal Fanatix: I know you guys have
spent the last year or so really trying to break into the international
market as well as build up a fan base here at home. For those who
have never heard Lycanthia, how would you describe the band musically?
Lee Tassaker: In my opinion, it’s
dark, it’s aggressive, it’s atmospheric & it’s
doom/death metal. A blend of metal, classical, gothic & ambient
Metal Fanatix: To become a star these
days it seems the only way to make it would be to go on reality music
shows like Idol & Rock Star, what do you think about the mass
wave of reality shows looking for so called “Talent” &
do you watch any of them?
Lee Tassaker: I hate those shows &
have nothing to do with them. It seems to be more about making “money”
than about finding “talent” to me.
Stephen Mikulic: I have briefly watched
some of them. It is a good way for some vocalists to get some exposure
but the shows are basically churning out flavor of the month one hit
wonders. As Lee said, it’s more about the TV show itself &
TV ratings than the actual artist they are looking for.
Metal Fanatix: Mandy decided to leave
the band almost a year ago now & Sabine joined the ranks. Can
you tell us a little about her background?
Lee Tassaker: Sabine has been with us
a little over six months now. She was previously in a band overseas
called Kimaera. About a year after she moved to Australia she answered
our ad for a keyboardist and/or female vocalist. She was going to
join the band as a vocalist only but decided to learn the keyboard,
which we were more than glad for. It’s hard enough trying to
fit the six of us up on stage let alone seven.
Stephen Mikulic: What made our decision
easier was that she is exactly what Lycanthia were looking for in
regards to her influences & talent.
Metal Fanatix: Something that really
sets Lycanthia apart from the other metal bands on the scene is that
there are six members as you just mentioned Lee, one of which is playing
violin. Guess you could say many traditional metal fans would find
the use of a violin, even the cello & flute that you guys were
using as a little strange. When you guys put the band together did
you want to incorporate violins, flutes etc. into your music or was
that something you thought about later on?
Lee Tassaker: No, it was intentional
right from the start. We used to listen to albums where sections of
the music would have classical instruments or a different vocal part
playing over it. We wanted to hear music where these elements were
incorporated through the entire album. Also these elements in a lot
of cases have been the reason for buying the album in the first place
only to go see the band live & find that they can’t reproduce
those elements in their live show, they just left them out. These
days it’s better, there are a lot of bands including all these
elements & performing them both on recordings & live.
Stephen Mikulic: Some traditional Metallers
still find females & keyboards in a Metal band to be strange as
well but it adds a different dimension to metal. All of us play instruments
on stage & half the band sings so when you see us expect to experience
a full range of emotions in sound.
Metal Fanatix: You guys are currently
writing & recording new material to follow up ‘Myriad’.
Can we expect the new CD to head in the same direction as ‘Myriad’
or has adding Sabine to the band taken Lycanthia down a new path?
Lee Tassaker: Sabine’s voice is
a lot more confident & powerful and yes this will enrich our sound.
We have all gone through changes musically over the years. Our new
release will show greater maturity, creativity & originality.
Stephen Mikulic: Naturally it will sound
different as the band is very different to the Myriad line-up but
the sound of Lycanthia remains along the same lines.
Metal Fanatix: Many bands have their
own ways of writing, how does the process work for you guys, does
the music come first or the lyrics? Do you all get together for writing
Lee Tassaker: Almost always the music
is written first but with vocal lines or lyric concepts in mind. We
all get together once a week outside of rehearsals to work on new
material. Someone will create an idea at home. We bring our ideas
from home & work on them.
Stephen Mikulic: As Lee said we do get
together & from my experiences, one of us will come up with a
song structure & everyone will add to it.
Metal Fanatix: Has a release date been
set for the new CD yet?
Lee Tassaker: Hopefully it should be
released around March 2006 if all goes to plan.
Metal Fanatix: The Australian Metal
scene has gotten bigger & better than ever before over the last
few years. Besides Lycanthia what other Australian bands should we
be on the look for?
Lee Tassaker: Some of my favorite Australian
bands include, The Eternal, Virgin Black, Transcending Mortality,
Gospel of the Horns, Long Voyage Back, Chalice, Mournful Congregation,
Destroyer 666, Disembowelment (RIP) & Paramecium.
Stephen Mikulic: One of my favorite
new bands is Transcending Mortality.
Metal Fanatix: What do you recall from
the first show you guys played together?
Lee Tassaker: Two days before we were
to play our first gig I burnt my hand badly enough that I could not
play my bass; we managed to get a friend of ours to learn our set
in that short time. I just performed my vocal parts. Other than that
we were very happy with the response we received.
Stephen Mikulic: My first show with
the band was great, we supported Germany's Mystic Circle & a lot
of people were very happy with the new line-up & performance.
Metal Fanatix: What do you think has
been the most valuable lesson you have learnt thus far in this business?
Lee Tassaker: Practice & learn to
keep time or you are going to suck from the start.
Stephen Mikulic: Being in a band takes
a lot of commitment, more than what most people think.
Metal Fanatix: Do you do anything specific
to warm up before hitting the stage?
Lee Tassaker: Not usually, we warm up
our vocals before we play. If we get the opportunity for a sound check
we get to all warm up a little there.
Stephen Mikulic: I make sure I am in
the right frame of mind, I want to give the audience 100% so I have
to block out any feelings of how bad my day/week may have been &
for the moment of time that I am on stage the audience is all that
Metal Fanatix: What do you enjoy doing
in your spare time?
Lee Tassaker: Listen to music, some
of us have musical projects besides Lycanthia, read, spend time with
friends, go to gigs, think & discuss, art, the list goes on.
Stephen Mikulic: Physical exercise,
driving my car, listening to music, catching up with friends when
I can, going to gigs/clubs, watching TV, surfing the net, etc.
Metal Fanatix: Lee, tell us something
about the other members of the band that we might not know?
Stephen Mikulic: There is nothing too
unusual about any of the members, we are all good friends & I
think that is what keeps us together.
Metal Fanatix: In your honest opinion
what do you think about the direction that hard rock & metal music
has taken over the last few years?
Lee Tassaker: I don’t really like
newer styles of Metal. I have found that Doom bands have become a
lot more creative & are opening themselves up to different possibilities.
I also enjoy later works from bands such as Ulver or Arcturus.
Stephen Mikulic: I have noticed Metal
changing into Nu-Metal, etc. which is ok but not really my thing.
Now I am noticing that many new fans to Metal are getting into the
older stuff & forming bands along the same lines which are great
Metal Fanatix: What bands have you been
listening to over the holidays?
Lee Tassaker: My Dying Bride, Primordial,
Candlemass, Metallica, Bolt Thrower, Pestilence, Kreator, Disembowelment,
Iron Maiden. This list could go on for a long time [laughs].
Stephen Mikulic: I listen to a lot of
Metal radio to keep up with the new stuff but find myself getting
into some older stuff as well, as for these holidays: Savatage, Megadeth,
Queensryche & Opeth.
Metal Fanatix: Which record/song would
define you to a complete stranger?
Lee Tassaker: Foreplay, With a Tree
Stephen Mikulic: Oh, Tough question!
You could find my personality amongst Queensryche's Operation Mindcrime
& Opeth's Still Life albums maybe?
Metal Fanatix: What advice would you
give to other bands trying to break into the business?
Lee Tassaker: You need to practice your
instrument at rehearsals & at home. You need to keep your band
close; you all need to be friends. Lycanthia spend a lot of time together
outside the band. Make as many contacts as you can in Australia &
overseas, eg bands, webzines, labels, etc.
Stephen Mikulic: Play what you want
to play & sound the way you want to sound, not how others want
you to sound & stay committed.
Metal Fanatix: If you could put a band
together consisting of musicians past and/or present who would they
be & what would you call the band?
Lee Tassaker: Lee-bass & vocals,
Sabine-keyboard & vocals, Stephen-guitar, Giovanni-Guitar, James-drums
& Samantha-violin & backing vocals. Call it Lycanthia.
Stephen Mikulic: [laughs] Good call!
Metal Fanatix: [laughs] Stephen you
have recently been endorsed; can you tell us about that?
Stephen Mikulic: Sure, I've been endorsed
by DSL Straps; they make the finest quality guitar & bass straps
I have ever seen in a wide range of leathers in many different colors&
textures. They also come in different widths & lengths. Check
them out at http://www.dslstraps.com.au
Metal Fanatix: Awesome I will do, Guys
thanks so much again for taking the time out, it’s been a true
pleasure, do you guys have any last words you want to share with our
Lee Tassaker: Thanks for the interview,
come check us out at our next show.
Stephen Mikulic: Thanks for taking the
time out Cameron, for anyone interested, you can hear our MP3 samples
& contact us at the Lycanthia website!
To keep up with all the latest news on Lycanthia,
check out the following websites.
- Official Lycanthia Site
- Lycanthia Yahoo Group
- Dedicated to 40 years of hard rock & metal music
© Cameron Edney January, February 2006 Not to be re-printed in
any form without written permission.