On their tenth day of their tour with Mushroomhead, Corvus played as a supporting act on the main stage of the Webster Theater in Hartford, CT. This was their first time away from their home state of Arizona and a chance to get a real taste of touring life. Though new to the road, Corvus certainly are not new band. With five albums since 2006, they are highly prolific songwriters and a well established name in the Arizona local Metal scene. I hung out with the guys in the green room before their set and talked about the band.
Agrippa: I know you guys are from Arizona. Can you give me a brief history of Corvus?
Brock: I’ve been playing since I was a little guy. My brother Josh is in the band. I forced him to play bass. Adam and I went to highschool together. We stole Matt over there from another local band.
Matt: Yes they did.
Brock: And he’s very glad that we stole him.
Matt: Yes I am.
Brock: Alan, our drummer…we just happen to be buying gear at Sam Ash and we…we had a previous drummer, Andre, and he had hemophilia and he gave his heart to the band, but because of his condition he just couldn’t keep up with what we wanted to do as a band. We met Allen and he filled in a few times when Andre was sick. When we made it to our third album we finally extended the invitation to him to join officially. We’ve done five albums in three and a half years, which is kind of unheard of. I’m a writing fiend. I love to write and these guys are more than willing to jump into the studio. It’s more out of boredom, because we’ve been wanting to hit the road for so long. Our last record, Never Forgive, was heard by someone in our hometown radio station and that’s how we eventually got contacted from Mushroomhead for this tour.
Agrippa: How about the name Corvus?
Brock: Corvus means crow or raven in latin. I just happened upon it looking up different things…Greek mythology, this and that…It’s actually a star constellation and I wrote it on a book when I was in high school and people just got tired of saying, “That band.” One of my friends got the book went, “Corvus. I’m just going to call you that.”, and then it stuck.
Agrippa: Most bands don’t like to box themselves into a particular genre, but in this industry it’s important to put a label on yourselves. What would be your description of the band?
Brock: Our producer Larry Elyea, actually describes us as Melodic Metal with Pop tendencies. I have a wide range of influences. I started off with Metallica and Pantera, then got into In Flames and Progressive Metal: Symphony X. My guilty pleasure is Weezer. I think their melodies and stuff are really cool. We have a lot of Pop elements to our heavy side.
Agrippa: On the same subject of influences, who are they?
Matt: Pretty much anything with awesome musical value behind it. Periphery I’ve been getting into really big lately. Lamb of God with their guitar solos. Andy James is one of my favorite guitarists of all time along with Joe Satriani. Stuff like that.
Josh: I’m kind of weird. I like a lot of Progressive Metal. I really like Symphony X. They’ve got great fucking guitar solos and their newest album that just came out is fucking phenomenal. I love it and listen to it all the time. Then going more over into like Sweden, and shit like that. I’m really into this band called Pain of Salvation: all of the concepts that they come up with for all their music. Their bass player is fucking awesome too. He’s nuts. I usually use him for inspiration.
Alan: My dad kind of raised me on Rush. Growing up with Neil Peart as my idol eventually led me…in high school I got way into Dream Theater and fell in love with that. Then just from there everything else…Periphery, Pain of Salvation…Anything Prog. Anything that requires technicality to play it and being a master of your instrument. It’s kind of what I enjoy.
Agrippa: I think if you ask any drummer what god they pray to and they’re say, “Neil Peart.”
Alan: Oh definitely. It’s funny because in passing I probably wouldn’t that, but when I really think back to what led me to listen to what I listen to now, it always come back to that.
Adam: I think I started with the Grunge/Alternative scene and just got heavier and heavier as more heavier bands kept coming out. I was pretty much straight Grunge and Alternative until System of a Down when they first came out. Ever since then I’ve just been getting more brutal with the heavy stuff.
Agrippa: What are you listening to now?
Adam: Now I listen to stuff like Periphery, Human Abstract, Animals as Leaders. Stuff like that. Real heavy.
Brock: Pain of Salvation is one of my biggest influences for the lyrical side of our band. Lately Symphony X is where I’m drawing a lot of inspiration for the music and the riffage. We do a lot of big strings in our songs now. I’m really into them. Those are like the main influences right now.
Agrippa: Here’s a thinker: Between the five of you, you probably have an endless music collection. Thinking about all that music you have, if you had to throw away everything except for one album, what would it be?
Matt: This is kind of funny, because we were out back drinking the other night and on one of the bottle caps, I think it was Adam’s, it said, “If you could only listen to one album for the rest of your life, what would it be?” Mine is Pink Floyd’s The Wall. I can put that album on repeat none stop and never get tired of it.
Adam: Right now the album that I just can’t stop listening to is Symphony X, Iconoclast. I can listen to that over and over and over again forever.
Brock: I second that and it could change tomorrow. Right now Iconoclast is the new hot thing for pretty much the whole band.
Alan: Moving Picture (Rush).
Josh: I would say the one album that I would listen to if I had to get rid of everything would have to be 12:5 by Pain of Salvation. Their acoustic album. I can listen to that the entire fucking day, all day long and not get bored of it. It’s because of how awesome it sounds and how good their musicianship is. I just love that band.
Agrippa: Who’s the jokester in the band?
Brock: It depends on what kind of joking we’re talking about.
Matt: We all kind of get our own stabs at each other all the time non-stop in our own little ways. There’s no really straight up jokester in the band.
Josh: That’s just how my family’s been, like when everybody comes over mine and Brock’s house…me and Brock are brothers…Whenever we bring anybody into our family it’s always about getting on each other’s shit non-stop. If we not talking crap to you, or messing with you in some way, or not talking to you at all, that’s when you have to worry.
Agrippa: How about the serious guy?
Josh: I would say I’m probably the most serious. I’m always back getting all our gear together, trying to get everything working right, getting all our merchandise and all that. I’d say I’m probably the most serious one in the band as far as the business aspect.
Brock: I agree. My little brother busts his ass for this band. All the guys do.
Agrippa: It’s important to have someone like that in the band.
Agrippa: What was the most memorable show you’ve ever played?
Brock: I will say I have to lump ip the first eight or nine shows of this tour really. It’s such a different vibe than back home. Back home, we’re one of the loved bands and you have to work your ass off to get there. We came out East and we’re automatically accepted. People just love music and that is so awesome to see that.
Agrippa: What was your worst gig nightmare? Do you have any stories?
Matt: Actually, just a few shows ago, my pick up popped loose in my guitar, so the whole show I played without my low two strings. That’s 90% of everything we play. That was terrible. The first day of the tour my pedal board stopped working. Pretty much those two combined equals fuck me.
Brock: My biggest nightmare is actually from this tour. Singing day after day after day thinking, “Is my voice going to go out?”. Thankfully so far it’s held up, but you know I can tell that I was really up here on the first show and now I have to learn to pull back a little bit and save myself. It’s a lot of work to sing even though we’re only pulling a half hour set. It’s still a lot of work.
Alan: The worst thing that ever happened to me on stage was that I broke through my bass drum head with my right bass meter. The left one still had enough to still make sound, so I had to play the rest of the set with my left foot only. It turned out to not really be a nightmare and was actually fun. Now I can play anything with my left foot. The nightmare that I think of all the time is my pedals moving and my bass drum moving. Now I just tape it all down. You get the pedal sliding away from you. That’s always a big thing in the back of my head.
Josh: My biggest fear is for everyone else in the band. If they have problems then I have to go and help them out and figure out what the hell is going on. I’m very meticulous with my stuff before we go on stage. I check everything and make sure everything is working. Just like they were saying on this tour they were having problems. That was probably the most nerve racking thing, because I’m standing right there next to my guitar player and I can’t do anything to help. I don’t know what’s going on or what’s wrong. I don’t have the tools to help him. That’s probably the worst thing that’s happened; Me not being able to help anybody else.
Adam: My worst experience on stage, definitely was when I was rocking out a few years ago, jumpin up and down and I landed on one leg, putting all my weight on it and twisted my knee. I almost split my ACL. I had to take a seat for that show. I still played, but I had to sit dwon. I thought I was done though. For the next month after that, I had to keep my knee immobilized, but I worked through it. That’s the worst thing that happened to me.
Agrippa: You guys are up to five albums now and a half and hour set for this tour. What’s your favorite song to perform live?
Matt: “Redemption”. It’s off of our newest album, Never Forgive. I just love playing that song.
Adam: My favorite song is to do live is “Only Alive”. It’s off our third album and it’s one of the most solid tracks I’ve ever really had a chance to play.
Brock: That’s like asking me to pick my favorite child, so I can’t really say. I do prefer the heavier stuff, but we have such a wide range. For live, it’s definitely more fun to play the Speed Metal stuff or the heavy chunky stuff rather than the pop tunes.
Alan: “One Man Army”. It’s got the most technically demanding drum parts to it, so I just love rocking that one out. You get that look when you’re doing something and the audience connects with it. Always in that song.
Josh: I would have to say “Breakdown” is mine, because it’s very groove oriented. When you’re playing it you just get right into the groove. It’s one of those songs that people just bang their heads too. I think people like that one a lot. I like listening to stuff like that, where you can just snap right into it. You don’t have to listen to it to try to figure out what’s going on. It’s just one that you ease right into.
Agrippa: Now this might not be your favorite song, but which one do you think is the definitive Corvus song?
Josh: We’ve got quite a catalog, so this is really hard to actually pick something. I’m having a hard time trying to pick one. We just have so many. We don’t have a super set style. I mean we have it, but every song has it’s own personality and that’s something I really like about it. I’m not really sure. What about you guys?
Adam: I think “One Man Army” is probably a really good collage of a lot of our sound.
Alan: We’re not playing it on this tour, but I think “Forever Sleep” is a really good song that encompasses all of Corvus. Then again, it really depends on who I’m talking to. I try to get a feel for what they like first and then I might give them a recommendation based on that. Other than that it’s just like a shot in the dark.
One Man Army Corvus – One Man Army
Agrippa: What’s the writing process like?
Brock: I sit in front of a computer and bang out riffs. I use a program called GuitarPro. It’ll play the song in many formats, so I’ll compose the riffs and punch them in and arrange the songs. Then I’ll send it out to these guys and they’ll add their little layer to it. Once we have the song practiced and they’re jamming it live, I sit there and listen and think about other ideas. Then I go sit in my room again and bang out lyrics the best I can.
Alan: Usually during that part where we’ve learned what he’s come up with, when we’re practicing it is where I come up with the drum parts. He’s thinking about the lyrics and I’m getting all my stuff figured out. Pretty much it’s like that right up until we go to the studio. It feels like that anyway. We’re still hammering out little details. I’m still making decisions on what I like and don’t to put on the album.
Josh: I can’t do anything until he’s done with that, so I have to write in the studio. Thank you Alan for doing that.
Agrippa: One last question. I guess you’re veterans now, being ten days into the tour. What advice do you have for up and coming bands?
Josh: I would say play your hearts out. Be behind your music. Feel your music, because if you don’t put yourself behind your music and push it, how are you going to expect any fans to want to listen to your music. If you’re doing a live show and you’re just standing there, nobodies going to really care as much as if you were putting your heart and soul into it and just rocking the hell out.
Agrippa: There’s a difference between playing the music and performing the music.
Josh: Exactly. That’s one thing I would say is that is that you have to remember that when you’re on tour, you’re not musicians. Musicians are in the recording studio. When you’re on tour, you are an entertainer. People are coming to the shows to be entertained. You have to put on the best possible show that you can.
Adam: One really good point would be to be accessible. Be out there where you can sign stuff and talk to people and be able to express how much you care about them.
Matt: Don’t be a dick to anybody. You never know who’s going to have your back when you need it. If you’re an asshole, no one has your back.
Brock: Quit. No, but really be true to yourself and write music that you enjoy. Don’t try to follow the trend that’s happening now, because it’s probably not going to be here a few years from now. You have to just play what you enjoy. If other people enjoy it, then great. If not, then at least you’re happy doing it.
About the author
Agrippa is a the general adviser, internet tech sorcerer, and a reporter for the Metal Cyndicate of Connecticut, as well as the author of his own blog about music and music production,Agrippa: Thought Manifest. He can also be found fronting his own band, Agrippa93, on vocals, synths, sequencers, samples, and piano. Agrippa also has an industrial solo project called, Agrippa’s Laboratory. Both projects are produced through his label and studio, Sickle Pation. You can follow him on twitter via @agrippa93, or email at email@example.com.