Interview with Steve Janevski (Guitar)
Interview conducted by Sargon the Terrible
Date online: December 6, 2003
From the land down under comes one of the most promising new Heavy Metal bands of the year. Black Majesty already made a bit of a splash last year with their three-song sampler "Sands Of Time", but with their full-length album of the same name just released through LMP Records it's plain that a major new force in melodic metal has been unleashed. I was very pleased to get some words from guitarist Steve Janevski about this busy and exciting time in the history of Black Majesty.
Sargon: It seems like the members of Black Majesty have all done time in a lot of different bands, how did you all come together?
Stevie: The band started in late 2001. But yes we've all been in other bands in the past. Pegazus, Cyclone Tracy, Kryptor, and Leprocide are a few past bands some of us have played with in the past. We kind of new each other within the local metal scene and formed the band from there. I guess it's all about finding a stable line up and we are quite sure we have that now - we have gone through a few bass players and recently added Mark Kelson formerly of Cryptal Darkness to complete the line up.
Sargon: The songs on "Sands Of Time" sound very polished, how long did it take you to write the album?
Stevie: What we did to start was record some demos and released a limited run three song sampler promo cd (also titled Sands of Time) which I guess now is a bit of a collector's piece - well and truely sold out. Thankfully we did get a positive response from around the world and some of the songs appeared on samplers like one of our tunes Guardian was asked to be on the Heavy Oder Was?! CD and Fall Of The Reich was included on Rock Hard Unerhort CD. After the sampler we continued to record the remainder of the album so all in all it took us about a year and a half.
Sargon: It sure seemed to take a while to get the album recorded. Did you have any problems in the studio? Or were you just trying to get the sound perfect?
Stevie: We went through a lineup change in the bass player department and also wanted to make sure we wrote a strong debut. We took our time getting things right and wanted the album to have a polish yet still have a rawness about it. I think we all just wanted to be happy with our performance and the overall sound and mix.
Sargon: What bands have had the most influence on Black Majesty? A lot of reviewers (me included) have mentioned similarities to Fates Warning, but what do you think of as your biggest influence?
Stevie: Influences vary from within the band. For the most a traditional metal background is quite obvious. We grew up on the traditional heavy metal and hard rock bands of years gone by and we love that. Judas Priest, Black Sabbath, Dio, Blind Guardian, Accept, early Queensrÿche, Maiden, Crimson Glory, Fates Warning, early Dokken, Rainbow, Manowar, are the probably the main ones. We go from the heavier darker bands to lighter progressive. We're all true metal heads and we certainly didn't get into metal just yesterday.
Sargon: It seems like Australia is getting a pretty good power metal scene going, what are some other bands we haven't heard of but should?
Stevie: There's definitely quite a movement happening here. Bands like Eyefear (which features ex-Pegazus vocalist Danny Cecati), Anarion, Eternal, and Illium are new bands to watch. There's also the more established bands like Pegazus and Vanishing Point that have been doing great things for the scene.
Sargon: You both have the word 'black' in your name, you both did songs called "Sands Of Time" - are you and Black Steel friends or rivals?
Stevie: To tell you the truth we're from opposite ends of Austrlia. Black Majesty is from Melbourne, Victoria and Black Steel are from Perth, Western Australia. The stuff I have heard of Black Steel is great. No I don't think we're rivals at all. Competitiveness only makes the scene smaller... Who knows maybe we'll be able to play together in the future.
Sargon: The 3-song promo you put out got a great response, did that motivate you to work even harder on the rest of the album?
Stevie: Yes definitely. That sampler kind of started things off for the band. I guess it also got a lot of interest because of a track called Guardian featured our singer John's cousin Danny Cecati who is known for his work from when he sang in Pegazus. Both singers do a dual vocal performance and is a real highlight from a vocal point of view. The interest from labels, magazines, and general metal community was pretty overwhelming for us. Our record label was interested in us from the get go so we wanted to make sure we handed in our best possible album.
Sargon: With a deal from LMP, you must be looking forward to doing some touring, what have you got lined up?
Stevie: We just played our Melbourne, Australia album launch which went really well. We had a tv crew come down and film the live show which was played on Oz tv and sold quite a lot of merchandise. Our next stop is a launch in Sydney and from there we hope to get ourselves overseas to Europe. Fingers crossed we can get over there to give the album a proper launch. A lot of that has to do with album sales but we've already had a bit of interest which is promising!
Sargon: What do you think of the heavy population of power metal bands in Europe? Do you think it will be hard for Black Majesty to stand out?
Stevie: There is so many quality bands on the Europe scene. I guess we're just doing our best to write good songs. I think there's enough room for everyone. In the end, we do our thing and we're thankful to all the people that like our band. We're really happy with the positive reviews we've had so far. Premier magazines like Rock Hard and Heavy Oder Was voted us in their top 10 albums for the month so we're all looking at things in a real positive way!
Sargon: Do you think the scene is healthier in Europe or Australia? Would you like to see metal become more mainstream, or do you like it underground?
Stevie: From a metal point of view Australia is a little bit out of the way which can be a disadvantage when a lot of our market seems to be in Europe I guess. Like most places metal music isn't at the forefront of the music industry here and often swept under the carpet. In fact we are quite used to that. But like the bastard son of most industries heavy metal still seems to rear its ugly head and survives again and again - Australia has its own metal scene and although with ups and downs the scene keeps going with gigs, new bands and tours. The underground here is actually getting healthier of late which is a good sign. It's obvious some great hard rock and metal has come from Oz - AC/DC, Heaven, Rose Tattoo, while bands like Hobbs Angel of Death, Pegazus, Vanishing Point, Deströyer 666, Damaged etc etc all also made some inroads overseas. It's always tougher coming from a land on the other side of the world but that's the struggle we are used to and we keep doing what we do because we have the passion for the music.
We all really like the idea of having festivals strictly for metal., for instance festivals in Europe such as Wacken, Bang your head, Sweden Rock etc. We don't have those sort of things in Oz. Personally, I like the idea of metal being underground because it makes it a bit more personal to metal heads! At the same time the mainstream allows for more promotion whether it be on the radio or on t.v. so there are advantages and disadvantages.
Sargon: Do any of you still have side projects, or is Black Majesty a full-time thing right now?
Stevie: Black Majesty is a priority right now with the album just coming out but yes some of us dabble in a few different things which spans from Doom Metal to Hard Rock.
Sargon: Have you ever been mistaken for a black metal band by your name?
Stevie: A few people have asked the question but after they hear us they know we're a melodic power metal band with some progressive influences. But yes I can see that some people may mistake us for a black metal band having only seen the band name.
We were originally going to be called Majestic Black but changed it around because we thought it flowed a bit better. The band name was actually chosen to represent Australia's ties with the English monarchy and the Black part kind of asks the question of the validity of a King and Queen in this day and age.
Sargon: I know the CD just came out, but after so long you must have some songs that you couldn't fit in. Will live crowds be hearing any new stuff, songs that will be on the next album?
Stevie: We will be throwing in new songs into our set and roadtesting them on audiences as we write them. We actually threw a new song in at our Melbourne album launch which seemed to go down really well. This also makes it interesting for the crowds that have seen the band a few times.
Sargon: Is there anything else you would like to say?
Stevie: Just thank you to everyone for the support. The metal underground has been so encouraging to us as a band and that drives us even more. We certainly had our own vision in what we wanted to do with this band and although it might not be cutting edge in some respects to metal going through trends of nu metal, the goth thing, or whatever, WE DO WHAT WE DO and it's been great to have such positive feedback - hopefully that continues and we can create enough interest to come play live. Despite us being far away in Australia the internet brings the world closer so people can feel free to contact us with any feedback or questions via our web address www.blackmajesty.com. It's always a buzz to hear from people around the globe.
Cheers, Stevie & Black Majesty.
|Other information about Black Majesty on this site|
|Review: Sands of Time|
|Review: Silent Company|
|Review: In Your Honour|
|Review: In Your Honour|
|Video: Further than Insane|
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