Interview with vocalist/guitarist Aaron Franks
Interview conducted by MetalMike
Date online: December 25, 2018
MetalMike: Hails! How are things in the Blood Curse camp in Caneyville, KY?
Aaron: Hey Mike! Things are going great! It's a nice mild December day here in Kentucky, and we just finished practicing for our next gig!
MetalMike: What made young musicians like yourselves decide to put an old-school sounding band like Blood Curse together? Where does the band's name come from?
Aaron: We just had a shared love for all things heavy. Olivia, our drummer and my wife, and I have always been into the older bands, so it was just a matter of time before we had a band going. Originally, we tried to revive my old high school thrash band, Steel Colossus, but it didn't quite fit with the songs I was writing, so we ditched that name and went by "Witch Curse for a few days, until we learned of the band "Witchcurse" from Europe, and we decided on Blood Curse because it could be about whatever you want it to be. It makes me think of werewolves or vampires. Some of our fans think it's a play on menstruation. Haha
MetalMike: You list a lot of classic 80s metal bands like Mercyful Fate, Witchfinder General, Possessed, Judas Priest and, of course, Angel Witch among your influences. What is it about the '80s sound that you find so attractive?
Aaron: I have been into 80s Rock and Metal since I was a kid. My parents showed me Metallica, Def Leppard, Judas Priest, Motley Crue, and other mainstream 80s bands at a very young age. So when I got a little older, around 12 years old, I started downloading music from some popular file sharing sites of the era and I started finding a lot of the bands you listed, and I was hooked.
MetalMike: I mentioned Angel Witch and students of the NWOBHM will recognize the British legend's imagery on your band t-shirts, your debut album, Sorceress, shares a title with an Angel Witch song and you even cover "Angel Witch." What is it about Angel Witch that stands above the crowd for you?
Aaron: There is just something about Kevin Heybourne's style that just hooked me as a kid. The song "Angel Witch" was the first track I heard by them and that intro lead blew me away! So, I immediately found the rest of that album. "Angel of Death," "White Witch," "Confused"... Not a bad song on that album! I really like the rest of their albums too, but that debut is their masterpiece.
MetalMike: Talking about your debut album, you released Sorceress independently this past Halloween. How has the response been? Has it generated any label interest and is that even something you hope to achieve, even if only for the increased distribution?
Aaron: The response has been amazing! We've had quite a few people buy the digital version, but even more people ask when we'll be getting a physical version. The day we released it, before the day was over, we had multiple labels asking us about releasing CDs and Cassettes. We settled on two, but both have asked not to reveal anything until the official releases.
MetalMike: I'm sure as students of heavy metal and the NWOBHM in particular, you've read about the troubles many of those bands had back in the day with shady or underfinanced labels, greedy managers, substance abuse, changing musical direction to try and gain more commercial success, etc. (I'm thinking of bands like Tokyo Blade, Raven, Tygers of Pan Tang, among others.) What lessons have you taken and applied to how you are approaching things with Blood Curse?
Aaron: The main thing is no drugs! I don't smoke pot. I don't smoke cigarettes. Nothing. I don't care if other people do it, it's just not my thing. Our old bassist would smoke pot, but he didn't do anything harder than that and it didn't get between him and the band. Another thing is we try to do everything on our own. We write the songs we want, we play the gigs we want, nobody tells us what to do! If we change musical direction, it would be because we wanted to!
MetalMike: On the album, you handled the guitars, bass and vocals and Olivia the drums. On your Facebook page, you have Scott Briggs listed as your bass player. Is Scott a permanent member of the band at this time? Was it a conscious decision to only have the two musicians on the album or is it something of a challenge to find like-minded musicians in your area?
Aaron: Scott owns the studio where we recorded the album, and our last bassist, Micah Young, had just left the band and we had shows lined up. So, when I was talking to Scott about recording, he stepped up to the plate and filled in for us. He even came to Chicago with us to play at Legions of Metal II. We tried to get him to play on the album, but he didn't want to since he was still trying to get the songs down. And Olivia played bass on two songs on the album as well! "Her Spell" and "Kill You (Tonight)."
MetalMike: My understanding is you write the songs for Blood Curse. Where do you draw your inspiration from? How conscious of your influences are you when writing and do you ever find that you've inadvertently grabbed a riff or lyric from one of your heroes' songs?
Aaron: I usually get influence from movies or video games. The title track, "Sorceress", was originally about Final Fantasy VIII, but I changed the words later because it didn't have the right sound. Sometimes, I'll "borrow" a riff from a song as a tribute, but most of the time it's by accident. Like I accidentally stole a riff from the Huntress song "Snow Witch" (R.I.P. Jill!) in our song "Destitute." It's not exactly the same, though.
MetalMike: Asking a musician which of the songs he/she has written is like asking parents which of their kids is their favorite, but I'm going to ask anyway 😊 Do you have a favorite on Sorceress, maybe one that turned out exactly like you imagined in your head? What qualities does a great metal song possess?
Aaron: My favorite is the title track. I wrote that song when I was 16 for the band I had at the time, and the other members didn't like it. When Olivia and I started jamming, I brought it back and it was the first Blood Curse song!
MetalMike: Would it be fair to say that now with Sorceress available to fans, you'd like to hit the road and bring the Blood Curse live show to the fans? There's no better way to move a few physical copies than have it available after blasting it in the fans' faces from the stage, right? What are the touring prospects for Blood Curse at this time?
Aaron: Right now, we are trying to get a better touring vehicle. We're using my Ford Focus to get to shows right now, and it's not a proper tour van. Haha. But as soon as we do, we'll hit the road! We have been wanting to set up a tour with our friends in Savage Master from KY or Carriage from VA. We're shooting for a 2019 tour.
MetalMike: Are there many places to play in your area, clubs or theaters that don't shy away from metal shows? Has Blood Curse played live many times, maybe opening on a bill for a more established band on their way through the area?
Aaron: We have opened for Savage Master, Dirkschneider, Bewitcher, and played at Legions of Metal in Chicago earlier this year. The town we live in is really small, so we have to travel a few miles to get to our gigs, but the live scene in Lexington, KY and Louisville, KY has been great to us. We've shared the stage with some great local bands. Old Wolf, Autocrat, Revendication, Comess, just to name a few.
MetalMike: North America has long been a wasteland in terms of metal festivals, compared with Europe, but now we're seeing some big events pop up in different places like Atlanta's ProgPower, the Maryland Deathfest, Las Rageous in Las Vegas and even the 70,000 tons of Metal cruises. Have you eyed any of these events or perhaps some smaller gatherings as a way to get to a lot more fans vs. loading up a van and traipsing cross country?
Aaron: Like I said earlier, we played at Legions of Metal in Chicago, which is a great "True" metal festival put on by our friend Bob Byrne. But we would love to play other festivals, hopefully we can get on a few more in 2019.
MetalMike: If you could go on a world tour with any band or bands, which one(s) would they be?
Aaron: It's been a lifelong dream to tour with Metallica, but I doubt that would ever happen! More realistically, I would like to tour with Savage Master, Cauldron, Reckless Force, Carriage, Volcana, Bewitcher, or Haunt. There are a lot of good bands around now, so I could keep going for a while.
MetalMike: We all know the music business of today is nothing like it was nearly 40 years ago and the prospects of making a living as a metal musician today are slim. I'm sure music for you is a passion but how do you stay motivated? Is the goal to one day be a self-sufficient band or will it always be something that daily life will counterbalance?
Aaron: I just love music, so even if I never "make it", I'll always be doing something. I would really like to open my own recording studio someday, so I can record future Blood Curse albums and other bands, metal or not. I'm sure I'll still be working a day job until I'm dead, but as long as I can write and play music for people, I'll be happy.
MetalMike: What is next for Blood Curse, particularly as we head into the new year? What are your goals that when the next year ends you hope to have a check mark next to?
Aaron: We have been working on songs for album two and practicing for our last gig of the year, so we hope to finish the songs and hit the studio next summer! Other than that, more gigs, get the debut on vinyl, play in more cities outside of Kentucky, and get a new tour van!
MetalMike: I want to thank you again for taking some time to speak about Blood Curse with the readers of The Metal Crypt. Sorceress is a solid slab of NWOBHM and I encourage fans of that movement, and traditional metal in general, to check it out. Is there anything else you'd like the readers to know that we didn't cover?
Aaron: Thank you for having me! I think we covered just about everything and I'm glad you dig the album!
MetalMike: Thanks again and all the best with Blood Curse. Hope to see you on the road someday soon. Don't forget to tell the fans where they can get updates on the band's activities.
Aaron: You can follow us on Bandcamp, Facebook and Instagram to keep up to date with all things Blood Curse!
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