Interview with Andrew Staehling (guitar, vocals, keyboard)
Interview conducted by Scott Murray
Date online: August 26, 2003
Hey Andrew, how's it going?
Let's talk some Character Assassination shall we? Were you surprised at How successful the album was/is in terms of the great reviews from the likes of BW&BK, Unrestrained!, Metal Observer and many other notable zines and metal writers out there?
I was quite pleased that everyone seemed to like it, but these were people who liked our previous stuff, so it wasn't a huge surprise. I was a little surprised that there was such positive feedback regarding the production, as this was my first time recording everything myself.
Are you modest in your absorption of this praise? Maybe a bit intimidated? I recall one review questioning Soulscar as a Canadian Arch Enemy.
I'd like to think so...it's very rewarding to receive these encouraging reviews, but I don't think it's going to create any crazy egos. By the time I receive these reviews, I'm usually working on new stuff, so it just challenges me to write even better stuff next time. As for the Arch Enemy comment, I like AE and was flattered, but I look forward to being praised for a style all our own rather than being defined relative to other bands.
What is Character Assassination trying to say to the listener through the title and lyrics?
I can't comment on all songs, as I didn't write all the lyrics, but each song is inspired by a character from a movie. In the CD booklet, the name of the character is under the song title. I didn't want it to be a gimmicky album, so it wasn't advertised/promoted as any kind of concept album, but hopefully, movie fans will recognize some elements and get some extra enjoyment out of it.
I gotta ask, what's up with the last song on the album, A Reprieve? I must say that it ends the disc on a confusingly cheery note.
I thought (and still think) that ending a fairly intense album with a slightly more mellow track would ease the listener out of the disc nicely. Response to the track has been quite good, with some people finding it happy, while others find it very melancholy.
Recently you brought Igor Cheifot into the fold as Soulscar's drummer. How did he end up joining the group?
I was referred to him by a friend of a friend - Brent and I jammed with him once and instantly knew he was the exact kind of person/drummer we wanted to work with. He's a great guy, and a very intense, dedicated-to-metal drummer. Can't wait for everyone to hear him on the new stuff. Since Igor joined, we have also added Stas Mikheev as the other guitarist. He's a very cool guy and fits perfectly.
Does Soulscar have a strong fan base locally (within B.C.), nationally and abroad?
Since we haven't played live yet, we haven't really developed any greater following in BC than we have anywhere else in the world. We have about the kind of fanbase you'd expect for a very independent metal band with moderate media coverage.
What do you feel are the major selling points of your music and why should fans be listening?
I think our strengths are our songwriting & riffs, as well as our lack of image. I think we appeal mostly to the fan who's into metal primarily for the music (as opposed to image or politics), particularly to fans of intense, memorable, melodic stuff, from In Flames to Megadeth to classic Priest.
How would you describe Soulscar's music, in terms of a genre? Thrash? Death? Who gives a fuck?
Who gives a fuck? Not me! The closest style would likely be thrash, with heavy metal the second choice. The only real "death" element is the harsh vocals. We have a healthy dose of technicality, but it's subtle and doesn't dominate or interfere with the rockin' and the grooves.
Could you give me a history of the Soulscar project?
Formed by me in 1997 as a solo thing. Put out one demo per year from 1998-2000, slowly gaining fans and good reviews. Did a promo recorded by Jeff (Annihilator) Waters in 2001, went through some personnel changes soon after. Recorded and released Character Assassination in 2002, and added Igor and Stas in 2003. The new album is written and will be done in 2004!
What are you trying to accomplish through your music? Do you have any specific goals and hopes for the band?
I do Soulscar because I love metal and creating songs that appeal to my metal-fan friends and me. Very few things are more rewarding than having someone whose opinion you respect bang their head like crazy to a song you did. Only hope/goal is for every release to be better than the last!
What circumstances led to the deal with Galy Records out of Québec?
Eric Galy noticed us due to a referral from Adrian of Unrestrained! and Character Assassination making the top 20 albums list of a Victoria radio station. He offered to exclusively distribute the album in Canada, and we gladly agreed. Everything's working out great with that so far.
Describe your roots as a guitar player and metal listener. Who were the bands and what were the songs that made you a fan?
My main musical roots were my 10 years of piano lessons as a child. From there, I played bass in a local band for a couple years until I realized that I really wanted to do guitar instead. Using my music background, I've taught myself over the last 6/7 years. The first bands that really got me into metal would be Megadeth, Slayer, Metallica, etc. 'Rust In Peace' was a big early influence. Since then, I've been particularly into Annihilator, Immortal, and Devin Townsend among others.
What albums have you been listening to lately?
Defleshed - Royal Straight Flesh
Devin Townsend - Accelerated Evolution
Masterplan - S/T
Metallica - St.Anger
Thrice - The Artist in the Ambulance
New Soulscar demos
What artists would you love to collaborate with?
Jesse Leach (ex-Killswitch Engage singer)
Ted Kirkpatrick (Tourniquet drummer)
How would you describe the metal scene in B.C.? There seems to be a few bands including Soulscar doing well for themselves. Meatlocker 7 for example has a video in regular rotation on Much Music's Loud program.
Due to our lack of live activity, I can't say very much, but in the last year or so, it's seemed to take a considerable step forward. Bands are starting to come here regularly, and there's quite a local following for several Vancouver bands.
Do you think Soulscar will ever start playing live gigs?
Yes. For the first time, we have a whole "band" together, so we could be playing as soon as Labour Day. That said, it's not my focus, nor a high priority, so once we play a couple shows, it's recording time again.
In closing, what can you disclose about the new Soulscar album in the works. How will it compare to Character Assassination?
The cliché of "it's our best shit yet" is difficult to avoid, but I'll try. Each song has its own personality, and all the new tunes are very memorable. The feedback from the select few who've heard the demos has been overwhelmingly positive. Honest people who really liked 'Character...' are saying that it's easily the best Soulscar yet - I'm dying to record it and hear what everyone thinks. To be bold, if we can execute these songs well, playing/production-wise, I will expect some serious top 20 of 2004 placements in the major mags. Very happy with the songs at this stage.
Anything you'd like to add in closing?
Check us out if you haven't already - we have tasty riffs!
Thanks for your time Andrew! I'll be watching for more details on the new album, really looking forward to it!
Thanks a ton for this opportunity, Scott! Cheers!
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