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Crimson Thorn

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Trends come and go. While some bands try to follow the trends in order to please the always fluctuating demands from the public, there are also the kind of bands that stick to their roots. One of the latter kind of bands is Crimson Thorn. This American group debuted years ago as a death metal formation. Currently the band is working on its third effort so it's time to find out who they exactly are and how their music is developing.

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Discography: Unearthed (19..), Dissection (19..). Available through: Crimson Thorn. Official website: Crimson Thorn.  Interview by:  mpomusic, Daffie K, Transfigural Form, DeathMC, SteelePeter, Richie Maier, Shamgar. Article Work-out: mpo. Date: November 23rd - 28th 2001

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mpomusic: Personally I only know one song from the repertoire of Crimson Thorn. So, can you first introduce the band by telling about how the band started and what you've done over the years?

Miles: Your question is really vague and open ended so I hope I answer it to your liking. I started back in 1991, but Luke and other members of the band Crimson Thorn started in 89 or 90. When I started it was a warm August day and Luke, who I had previously met months ago at a Christian club, gave me a call and wanted to know if I was interested in putting together a metal band. I was so excited and ready to play with some guys with like minded musical tastes. At the time Paul Jongeward (the Unearthed days) and I were trying to put together a band and struggling to find musicians with the same tastes and ministry attitude. Luke originally just wanted me to play guitar, but I told him I had a great bass player. Unfortunately Luke already had Dylan Jennigis (sorry for the spelling Dylan) playing bass, so I asked if we could have two guitars. So to make a long story short, Paul took up guitar and learned it quickly. He was and continues to be a great musician. Paul has been out of the band since the middle 90's, but he continues to play with local musicians. I believe Paul plays bass guitar for an indie rock band in the twin cities named Arch Stanton. Our drummer Dave Quast left before Paul did and plays locally also, but I haven't talked with him in years. We never had a falling out with Paul or Dave, but just went our separate ways musically. Kevin started in 93-94 and really helped us define our sound as far as a death/grind metal band. I know at first Paul and I didn't want the blast beats thing, but later grew to love the fast stuff. After Paul left in 95-96, We were a three piece for years then acquired Andy Kopesky as another guitar player. He really added a much needed sound to Thorn and currently has done some cool keyboard stuff for us. Look for this on the new album. Not all of our songs have keyboards, but a few of them for added thickening and dimension of sound. Andy left for a short hiatus, but he is back and is adding a great dynamics to our band. I really enjoy working with him and having him on board. All in all I really have been blessed with being a part of the Crimson Thorn ministry. No one has left the band because of hard feelings and all of our differences have been worked out in a Christ like way. All of the members past and present have been Jesus to me in huge ways. Without all of these guys in my life, I would not have been the Christian I am today. Thanks brothers, I love you greatly!

Daffie K: What about your ministry? It seems in what you told above, there's a ministry included in the band. How do you give expression to your faith in God through the music and the band? Are you also doing gigs for non Christians? How are you trying to reach them?

Miles: Yeah, Jesus Christ is the reason we do what we do. All honor and glory goes to Him when ever we play. We do play for non-Christians and would rather play that venue simply for the reason that we are being a light in a dark place. Just being a part of spiritual warfare is so cool and an awesome duty that God allows us to continue doing. In Jesus' ministry he didn't hang out in the church primarily; he was found with the prostitutes, drunks, tax collectors, and other people that were needing help. It is hard to play in a secular place because no one wants to hear a band preach from the stage or give even positive words of encouragement, but we do it in different ways like talking with people before and after shows and showing a true genuine love for them. Most people go to hear music not to be told how to live their lives. There is nothing in the flesh we can do to make people understand what God has done for them. They must realize this themselves and come to this conclusion. It is like the non believer reading the bible, they are not motivated by the same spirit that lives in us. On the other hand, we are moved when preachers get fired up or we come across a certain portion of scripture. We have the spirit of the living God within us and this helps us to understand. So in short they will know we are Christians by our love. We also have to be quick to listen and slow to speak. Actions many times speak louder than words. In my own life I have found that trying to explain something or speak to people that aren't sensitive to spiritual things tends to drive them farther from Christ than getting them closer. So we want to be servants to those out there in the dark rock 'n roll world and loving them right where they are at, not expecting any change. God does all the changing anyways. And definitely if someone were to ask us a question or wonder what we were all about, we would jump at that opportunity to share what awesome free gift Christ gave to us. And at times we have shared with non believers. We get letters in the mail from saying, "I listened to your album and changed my wicked ways". Wow! Praise God!!!! So God continues to use our music to speak to a precious lost child of His. Even if it were only one person being changed by our music, it would all be worthwhile in my heart. This is what we are about. In between songs when playing live, we let people know what we are writing about, but we never shove ideas or tell people what to do. To love those that dislike you because of your faith or think your band sucks is a challenge alone.

Transfigural Form: What is the current lineup like, and if you plan to do shows will there be any drastic changes? I know in the past you guys have lost and re-acquired members, and am curious if this sort of thing seems to be an ongoing plague?

Miles: The current line up is Luke on bass/vocals, Kevin on drums, Andy on guitar/keyboard, and me on guitar/solos/background vocals. I also am doing some lead vocals on a couple of songs. I think what we have is a good combination and we all get along well so that makes it worthwhile and edifying as well. I really can't say what any one member would want to do at any particular time. We all have talked about doing something musically different, but still keeping the same lineup and keeping the music really heavy, but who knows what will happen. You will just have to wait and see I guess.

DeathMC: I have a question about the vocals in Crimson Thorn. Luke's grunt is very nice, but I was wondering if it is a complete natural grunt. Do you guys add some extra effects to the vocals, like echo or other stuff? I am still trying to get a good grunt without hurting my voice. Maybe you know what Luke does before he is going to 'sing'. Does he drink something special to 'grease' his throat, and does he do some singing exercises before stepping onto the stage?

Miles: Actually Luke drinks scalding hot butter just before going on live or doing vocals for a recording. It tends to grease up his throat and tear vocal cords causing a deep guttural burping sound. Hahaha! No, he does nothing. He is a big boy and has a natural deep voice. I know from asking Luke how the heck you do that. He says he uses special breathing to really belt it out. Using your throat to yell ,scream, or grunt is not good for you. This is what I do, yeeeouch. Luke just has a talent, some may beg to differ, in doing these types of vocals. On Unearthed we didn't use any effects just multi tracks of big Luke and on Dissection we used a bit of reverb and some delay, but never any harmonizers or pitchshifters of any sorts. Luke usually holds out the long blasts of fierce brutality all by him self with no electronic aides. He is an amazing fella, let me tell you and really huggable.

SteelePeter: I wanted to ask you why did y'all change your sound from the Unearthed album? Where you not pleased with the Unearthed album?

Miles: We all liked the Unearthed album very much, but we wanted to sound different on Dissection and on our third hopefully we will sound different than both Dissection and Unearthed. We don't want to sound the same simply because musically we want to progress and not stay stagnant. I feel change is good and like I have told a lot of people, we will not change our metal roots, but newer songs will have different dynamics to them. I think basically just like listening to music, if you listen to the same CD or band day after day, you get tired and yearn for new or fresh music, at least I do and I think it is the same way for writing songs. We as a band like all styles of music and want to make music from the heart, not just write more of the same. The Lord calls for us to sing to him a new song and I believe that is the same in our walks with the Lord, we can never be satisfied where we are at. We always need to improve and seek the Lord in deeper levels. I hope I am not getting too whacked out here, but we do want to be creative and not be bound by one particular sound or way of writing music. This is what is so fun about music is that it is an expression of our love to the creator and He knows our hearts.

Transfigural Form: There are a lot of guitar solos on the demo, and I am curious, though there were a lot on Unearthed as well, did you guys feel that certain tracks on Dissection just didn't need solos?

Miles: Well, yeah there were a lot of solos on the Plagued demo, but you have to keep in mind that along with newer members joining the band and a different style versus the thrash feel to the Plagued demo, solos weren't as important to writing good brutal music in our minds. When someone writes a song we really give them authority of how they want it to sound like. Even if I feel like a solo would sound good lets say in a song like Imminent Wrath, Kevin wrote that one and he didn't want any solos, so cased closed. Usually the songs I write I try to get some fashion of a solo in there, but not all the time. I have always wanted more melody and solos, but to be honest I always won't be given the go ahead to do so. Not to whine about it, but sometimes in order to be flexible you have to die to your wants and do what is best for the group.

Transfigural Form: One question about the Dissection CD. What is the title of the bonus track? Does it have a title?

Miles: That was a fun song, just a goof around track that Luke put together in the studio. In fact he wrote the whole thing. It turned out really funny so we decided to just throw it in there and surprise our fans out there with something off the wall and totally different. Man, I haven't heard that track for some time. I should go back and listen to it. As far as the name, we never came up with a name due to the fact that it was written so quick and not really a part of the main part of the album. I am glad you liked it and maybe there might be some other goofy stuff on the next album. In fact, look for something weird and strange.

mpomusic: What kind of bands inspire you as a songwriter? And what kind of bands do you like to listen to when you're at home, in your car, or at work?

Miles: I can only speak for myself on this question, but personally I love listening to good music whatever it may be. Aggressive music in any form make the hairs on the back of my head to stand up. I like the old school death/grind stuff, but old school punk based music really is fun as well. In the last few years I have really enjoyed listening to music that has good hooks and draws you in. Much of the new gen-X worship stuff is really enjoyable as well as the Alternative music genres, especially the indie rock bands out there. I also enjoy progressive rock very much with a jazz influences. I don't care for the rap stuff or twangy music that is so popular with the masses. I guess I don't want to name any bands simply because I want people to listen to other bands because they like what they hear not because Crimson Thorn listens to them. I know some people get bent about Christians listening to secular music, but that is between them and Christ. Christian and secular artists alike, I enjoy a huge variety.

SteelePeter: And what album was your biggest selling album? How many units of that album did you sell?

Miles: As far as selling albums I think more of Unearthed were printed because we had three separate pressings, thus more of this album are out there. But Dissection seems to be selling just fine. I sent out three orders just this week for that album. Hopefully the next album will be even better that the other two, but I guess only time will tell. We haven't really saturated the death metal market with our band. I really don't know why. I see our band as a hobby band and when you have a hobby you put a certain amount of time into it, but not excessive time. I love doing stuff with the band, but I have a family and a job and other items that take up most of my time so I try to keep things balanced. Hey, maybe this is another reason our band has survived for many years????

Richie Maier: Why do so many metal bands like Yeti or Chalice get signed to a quality label yet Crimson Thorn does not?

Miles: I really don't know why. Maybe because we haven't showed any interest in them? Maybe we have to beg for a deal, I really don't know. Maybe we have extremely bad breath, no just kidding. I know years ago we wanted to be signed by someone really big and really cool, but that was our rock star mentality. Now we are just content with getting together and writing songs that give the Lord glory. Years back, when we were young and very much uninformed like many bands, we wanted to be 'Rock Stars'. I know we would still love to be signed to a nice label and get some benefits of being on a good stable label, but we are doing a style that really is not that popular anymore. We only sold so many Dissection CD's, so maybe perspective labels know we aren't that popular and want nothing to do with us. I really believe it really is all about money for them. No matter what, we will always be playing heavy music in some form, but metal will always be somewhat in the underground like good old school punk and we are alright with this sort of band life. Maybe it is one of the reasons why we have been around for so long. If there is anyone out there that would like to help us get signed to a great label, help us out. We would love for a label to invite us into their family.

mpomusic: On the Crimson Thorn website I read that the band is working on new recordings. Can you share something about what's going on and what we can expect?

Miles: Yes we are currently and have been for some time working on recording new material. Unlike last two CD's we are recording the project ourselves and we are writing new material as we record. All the new tunes we wrote collectively as a band (a total of six) are recorded and need to be mixed and mastered, but we have around seven more to finish. We hope to make this better than the last two, but we need prayer from our fans. We are very happy with what we have so far and we don't have any tentative plans when it will be out, but look for it in the year 2002. Unfortuately with recording it yourself, you tend to use long periods of time making sure everything is perfect, but then this is best practice anyways. In the past, all other times in the studio, we have been pressed for time and really had to cut corners in order to get it done with the budget we had. This stress can bite into the creativity and the overall sound making it less than best. Crimson Thorn fans can expect some keyboard arrangements in a few of the songs along with old school death metal as well as thrash and slower tempo songs, of course there are a few blast happy songs in there as well. Overall there will be different mixes with each song hopefully giving the ears variety and dynamics to our songs. I just want to publically praise the Lord for the songs He has given to us and no matter what others think they sound like, I am happy to be able to play them and once again give Jesus all the credit. We hope all of you enjoy them.

Shamgar: Do you ever plan to make a short European tour and/or honor our tiny country (Holland) with a gig?

Miles: Oh man, would we ever love to play Europe and your home country of Holland!!!!! It would be a dream come true, but financially and support wise, it has never worked out. If there is anyone that would love to give us a try as far as putting together a European tour or a band letting us open a few gigs for them, that would be so fun and a huge blessing to us. We would love to, but we would have to connect with someone that has brought American bands over and tell us how to go about putting together a tour. Anyone out there that would like to help us or be a tour manager and get us hooked up, that would be fabulous.

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