Walpyrgus Part II

INTERVIEW WITH Heavy-Metal-de

Hello Walpyrgus! You´re getting interviewed for the German heavy-metal.de online zine. Please let me know who is answering. Here we go!

So, you are now Newbies, that’s for sure. In 2012, you all gave birth to this band. What was the driving force, so to say, to establish a band that´s down to your personal influences? Please let us on your euphoria participate!

SCOTT WALDROP: We formed Walpyrgus because we were all friends living in the same city (Raleigh NC) who knew each other well – and we also knew that if we came together we could create a great band. Of course, me, Jim Hunter and Jonny Aune are all from Twisted Tower Dire but Peter Lemieux is one of the best (and creative) drummers I know + he is old friends with Jonny. Same thing with Charley Schackelford – I’ve known him through the metal scene and been friends with him for many years. I specifically wanted him on guitar for this project as he’s one of the tightest metal players I know and his solo style is unique -somewhere between Zakk Wylde, Schenker, Warren Demartini & Eddie Van Halen – everything that I am not, ha ha ha! When we first got together we agreed to learn two songs which I had already demoed on my own – “The Dead of Night” and “We Are the Wolves”. For our first practice, we also learned “Light of a Torch” by Witch Cross & “Doomed by the Living Dead” by Mercyful Fate to get our playing style together moving forward. I cannot speak for all the other guys’ influences (thought they are similar) – but I’m the main song writer and for me, my favorite contemporary music which influences my song writing and aesthetic is/are people & bands like: Maiden, UFO, Lizzy, Scorpions, Sabbath, old Slayer, Ramones, Misfits, Dead Kennedys, Sex Pistols, Willie Nelson & Bob Marley (not necessarily because of weed but their souls). So, the translation into English is a little weird but what you mean by “euphoria participate” – I guess you mean “what was it like to be a part of this band?” It was great putting all these songs together. We had a lot of mutual respect going on and everyone had their special place in the band so it all came together quite effortlessly and magically.

In 2014 you did the EP and Tape, with four tracks on it. None of them was used for your long play debut. Every musician has different thoughts on that topic, using so called demo songs for the regular album. What were your thoughts?

SCOTT WALDROP: I’m a very fast & prolific song-writer. If I had the chance, I would sit around all day and crank songs out. Most of my ideas don’t even make it out of my brain. That said, with the demo songs, we felt like they were well-produced enough that they didn’t need to be rerecorded or re-visited to drastically change them. We were off to new ideas with the album songs. As a matter of fact – all the album songs were demoed (some of them three different times) before we recorded them in their final version. Moreover, there are demos of the EP as well, ha ha ha. Peter had a home studio in his basement when we were writing this stuff and he’s uber crafty with “Reaper” and “Garage Band” so we would demo our songs often to “digest” them and decide if we needed to change little things. I also have a home studio where I create the first versions of the songs with a drum machine so we felt like those songs had all been “through the ringer a lot”.

‘Dead Girls’ is kind of the Punker on “Walpyrgus Nights” and differs a bit to the rest of the material. Is it the middle finger pointing alien on the album? 😉

SCOTT WALDROP: I wouldn’t say it’s a “middle finger” to anyone – not at all. I love my metal brothers and sisters. I’m not trying to actively piss-off any metalheads that really hate punk. For a while I denied my punk roots because I was so annoyed with how post-punk became commercial in the 90’s w/ bands like Green Day then Blink 182 etc. I wanted to disassociate with it because I was an angry 20-something. The fact is, I grew in Washington DC where Fugazi & Bad Brains were like a religion to teenagers, and my sister was cranking The Ramones through our house since 1981. In the late 80’s I was very culturally and stylistically caught between metal culture and the punk/skate culture of the time. I think the metal won out in 1989 because I had a skateboarding accident so nasty that my bone splintered and stabbed through my elbow. I was in a cast for more than half a year and to this day my left elbow is more “metal” than bone from all the plates and screws holding it together. After that I really started to focus on guitar playing rather than skating and sports – it was this time that I started learning AC/DC / Ozzy songs on guitar while I was stuck in my room and started “leaning” into the metal more than punk. Once I had a decent handle on guitar it was much more of an afternoon challenge to learn a Maiden song rather than a Misfits song, ha ha. But still, I love the old punk bands I was into at the time and even some new stuff. Also, now that I’m older I realize that punk music is more about concise song-structure whereas metal is more about “riffs”. So anyway , it’s NOT like I’m trying to say, “fuck the metal people, I’m going to write a punk song.” – I’m just being myself by including a song like this. It’s very important to me that people understand that this is not a statement against  my (OUR) beloved metal genre. If you look at my personal social media pages you’ll see I’m into a lot of “un-metal” activities because there are different facets of me: I’m a very avid and involved long distance runner, charity-worker, a vegan, I love the outdoors, the ocean, surfing, skateboarding (yes in my 40’s) etc. etc. My point is, there are so many things that make up who we are and there’d no need to hide any of these to make it seem like you “fit” in a certain category. That’s what makes people so interesting: their history and the sum of their parts. I’d rather everyone know who the real Scott Waldrop is – and if that means having a song that sounds like The Misfits/Ramones then that’s fine. If I wrote a Manowar song right now at this particular point in my life, then it wouldn’t be authentic and I’d be attracting things to be that weren’t supposed to be there. What’s the point of that? Ha ha. It’s important to be true to yourself, otherwise you’ll never quite be on the right path or have the people & things around you that you that are supposed to be there. So, when you talk about “True Metal” and stuff like that, it’s not only about the influences such as Maiden/Priest but really – who is creating said “True Metal”. You know, I wrote “Axes & Honor” w/ TTD and I’d say that’s a very “true metal” sort of song. At the time it was very indicative of how I felt musically but you cannot erase your past and the truth is that in the late 80’s I had a bleached blonde half long-hair, half shaved head and my bedroom was full of skateboards and sex pistols posters so ya know – this is what you get with me, ha ha.

Your music stresses out two major things: You do the old school thing, but in a very refreshing way so to say. Was that something you wanted to achieve?

SCOTT WALDROP: First off thank you! Yes, I (we) do this on purpose but it really is done without effort or too much thinking. Me and my friends (in this case the guys in Walpyrgus) of course all have a very similar musical background. Me, Charley & Jim are the “older” guys in the band so we like The Misfits, Exodus, old Slayer – you know, that’s the stuff we grew up with – we didn’t have to seek it out on the internet. Jonny and Peter – they’re Millennials and they have certain bands they love which us older guys don’t really relate to, like Edguy and The Darkness but you know – those are sort of “retro” sounding bands anyway and it just works when we get together. We don’t fault them for something we may stick our noses up at when we know they don’t have the same frame of reference as us old farts. It’s most important that we be authentic. I should mention that there are a couple things that make Jonny and Peter unique: Peter was raised with metal. His Dad plays guitar in a Black Sabbath tribute band – and an AWESOME one at that!. The only time I’ve seen Iommi’s style replicated so closely was seeing Iron Man (Washington DC) when I was a kid. Also – Peter and Jonny grew up together playing music in the school band. They completely developed together as men and musicians so that is such a special partnership which is something I very specifically wanted for Walpyrgus. Those two are an amazing musical team and I don’t even understand why they hang out with me! Also, Aune grew up playing music in his Dad’s church so he has that angle of having understood how to layer harmony since an early age. As for me, I’m the main song writer in Walpyrgus and I think if you want to get deep and psychological with me, there is one major factor in how and why my songs sound the way they do: I grew up in a musical environment. We had a piano and guitars in the house. My grandmother played the organ (a 60’s Hammond) which I loved. My brother listed to Bob Dylan, Pink Floyd, The Who, Simon & Garfunkel etc. I would watch him play electric guitar when I was a kid and I absorbed it like a sponge. My Mom & sister tried to get me into riding horses and my Dad tried to get me into golf but the guitar took hold of me when I was about 7. My brother brought home an electric guitar and when I watched him plug it into the stereo (yesthe stereo) and play Deep Purple riffs I was just fucking mesmerized. He may as well have been Merlin the fucking Wizard when I saw that. I thought my older brother was the coolest human on Earth, ha ha. He’s 13 years older than me (I was an accident) – so he was into late 60’s-70’s hippie rock (I guess you’d call it). So, he taught me songs like “House of the Rising Sun” by The Animals and “I’d Love to Change the World” by Ten Years After which started me off. I think those two songs still stick with me a lot in how I write music because they’re both rather earie and strange chord progressions. Also, my sister was listening to The Ramones, The Go-Go’s, The Cure, U2, REM in the very early 80’s before some of these bands really broke out, she was always into discovering new music. She was that teenage girl who would constantly blast the stereo and make the house shake. We had a monster of a sound system back then – a Yamaha tuner w/ tubes and these massive speakers. And another major thing about my music past was discovering underground speed metal/hardcore through my step cousins. So, when I was about twelve I had these step cousins Tony and Cindy who were very into the punk/metal scene. Tony had a big mohawk and listen to the Cro-Mags, Bad Brains etc. and Cindy showed me Dark Angel, Voivod, Slayer etc around 1987 or so. Around then, I had a lot of family problems – my real Mom was not totally in my life and my step Mom was dying of cancer so I was very much left to my own devices and I started drinking and doing drugs – plenty of pot was involved but I was also doing LSD & PCP. It was the Washington DC suburbs so kids get their hands  on shit like that back then. I think having gone through that era and started abusing chemicals before my brain was developed, all the while I was discovering all this new metal music (I would lock myself in my room and learn AC/DC, Maiden, Ozzy, Pink Floyd etc) – I think it has put me in a state of “arrested development”. By that I mean that I believe my mind is sort of stuck in a musical “holding pattern” around that time of my life. I’ve never had much interested in consciously straying from my musical roots. I hear new music and I like much of it, but it doesn’t seem to inspire me to change my ways when I sit down with the guitar. I’ll always revert to the early days of sitting in my bedroom and figuring how to 80’s metal with that foundation my brother gave me by teaching me the 60’s music. So – I’m sort of like a time capsule I suppose.

The title track reminded me – just in the beginning – of dark moments of Psychotic Waltz. In general, most of the songs have this slightly sinister tone, but as I also mentioned in the review: All your songs are pure summer festival anthems… A contradiction? Your thoughts, please!

SCOTT WALDROP: Tom and Jim are big Psychotic Waltz fans. I never grabbed on to them. I know when I was writing them that I wanted them (the songs) to be ghost / occult stories but I didn’t want them to be delivered in the typical “metal package”. I really went backwards and embraced my early influences. You’re hearing choruses that were inspired by my sister cranking “Beauty and The Beat” non-stop for years. You’re hearing the aftermath of my Dad subjecting me to Neal Diamond and Anne Murray for hours on end in the car. My family played “The Sound of Music” and “Hair” and Bing Crosby Christmas records incessantly. I’d be sitting there on the floor playing with Legos absorbing this stuff unknowing it would manifest later in life into this, ha ha ha. Yea, I think you’re hearing my childhood music meeting my adolescence in some bizarre marriage of light verses dark. Like Ozzy Osbourne meets Bing Crosby. I find very strange joy in the contradiction. I understand it can be annoying to some people. You want happy music to have happy words played in the major scale and sad music to have sad words played in the minor scale. But, my whole existence has been based on disparity. I’ve always taken pleasure in being a misfit yet with friends. I would say I was a popular kid – I like sports and art and I was able to walk both worlds. I’ve always had this feeling of “I don’t want to miss out on anything”. Maybe my brain is scrambled from psychedelic drugs. Who knows? You very much understand me though by using the word “summertime”. I love the summer and I think it’s a defining word for me. I was born in late May. Give me the outdoors, bug bites, sunburn, the ocean – I love it all. But I’m also terribly fascinating by “all things creepy”.

You had the guts to put some killer choir moments on the record, that doesn´t sound cheesy and weak, like it is heard a lot on silly plastic Power Metal Albums…. Congrats to that!

SCOTT WALDROP: Thanks. It’s funny. Tom said to stop tracking all those “Blind Guardian” vocals as he didn’t like them. I think we got in the habit of this when TTD recorded with Piet Sielk of Iron Saviour. I think though, that between me Jonny, Peter, Jim and Jonny Wooten (Widow) his kind of like the 7th member as a vocal producer, we can all sing so it was almost stupid to not exploit that. I told Tom to use which vocal tracks he wanted (we recorded 100’s) and I was under the impression he was going to use very little of them, but surprisingly most of them showed on the album. I guess Tom saw the merit in them in the end. I’m sure it was a massive pain in the ass to sort all those layers so kudos to him for that. Those backing vocals were really a total group effort though, all the members (except Charley because he hates doing it), sang and put their ideas in and Tom undertook the massive task of bouncing all those layers so that Kevin (mixer) could wrangle them in a timely manner.

You should go on tour with the German bands Naevus and Metal inquisitor. Check them out! To be serious: Any plans to conquer Europe?

SCOTT WALDROP: I know them both! Traded demos with them and were pen pals back in the 90’s when I started Twisted Tower Dire. Great bands and very cool people. Naevus – I feel has always been under-rated as many of those choruses were really genius. “Streams” was such a great song! I thought they deserved to get bigger. No Europe plans just yet for Walpyrgus. If we get a cool offer and can afford to go we’ll be there. Thanks for the interview! You can buy our merch and connect with us and all of our social media at: http://www.walpyrgus.com. Also, I need to get my personal plug in but it’s a worthy cause: I do charity work for people struggling with addiction. The organization I work with is called The Herren Project and this August I’ll be running a 100-mile race (The Leadville Trail 100) to raise money to help people who were in my position. You can read my personal story about alcoholism & recovery at www.ultrarunvegan.com. The gist of personal message is that you can stop your bad habits before the ruin your life. When I noticed I was hiding my drinking from friends and family I saw the signs that things were going to unravel for me. So – it’s all in there, give it a read anyone could find it helpful. Feel free to connect with me, share your story, read mine, donate if you like… My personal Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram handles are @ultrarunvegan …Thanks so much for the interview and giving me a voice. Much gratitude! -Scott

INTERVIEW WITH Neckbreaker.de

Hi Scott. this is Ralf from Neckbreaker Webzine.

How are things at the WALPYRGUS Camp? Are you excited about the release of „Walpyrgus Nights“?

SCOTT: Things are great in The Walp Camp. We have a CD release party in Raleigh coming up next month and we wrote a couple new songs with our (not so new now) drummer Carlos. Yes, we’re really enjoying sitting back and seeing peoples’ reaction to the album.

How did it came to the foundation of the band and why WALPYRGUS not WALPURGIS?

SCOTT: You have to take the story backwards a bit to my other band Twisted Tower Dire which we started in the 90’s up in Washington D.C.  – this was my only band for a long time but as the years passed on, I found myself moving 4 hours south and separated from Marc Stauffer (TTD drummer) and two hours from Dave Boyd (TTD guitar). It was so hard to get things moving quickly the way we used to in TTD and I really missed just getting together in the same room with guys and practicing. Back in 2012, I wasn’t doing much with my music. I had all this great talent around me in Raleigh and I had all these song ideas either swirling around my head or already demoed – so I decided to put a band together here with people I knew well and trusted. So, I called up Peter, Charley, Jim & Jonny, asked if they wanted to start a new band and everyone unanimously agreed that it was a good idea and that they wanted to do it. The band came together and flourished very naturally as I imagined it would. Spelling the name differently (if I remember correctly) was Jim’s idea. There have been a few Walpurgis’s before us and we wanted to set ourselves apart so we’re distinct.

How important is FATES WARNING for you guys? Have you ever visit the Brocken here in Germany?

Scott: Fates Warning is huge in our camp. It was one of me, Tom & Jim’s favourite bands way back in the day. When I met Tom, none of my other friends liked Fates Warning because back in the early 90’s in DC it was all about death metal and even my friends who still admitted to liking traditional metal at the time saw them as Iron Maiden clones. So, it was cool to meet people that saw the genius of their song writing, musicianship and especially John Arch’s unparalleled (no pun intended) voice and lyrics! My god those lyrics were fascinating! You knew he was a deep person by the sophistication of those words and the incredibly bizarre phrasing & melodies that he came up with. When I was 16 it seemed like he was channelling his musical abilities from another universe, ha ha ha. So, yea – probably if I had to dig in my mind to find the exact spot where the inspiration originated for the band’s name, it would be the song “Night on Brocken”. That end chorus is so beautiful that it completely transcends musical genres. The Ramones, Dolly Parton or Pavarotti could sing that ending and it would still be incredible. No, never been to Brocken. I really would love to visit Europe one day and see things like this and really have the time to enjoy them. Every time I’ve been in Germany it’s been on official metal business.

Your music is pure old school stuff with occult or dark lyrics and twin-guitars, right but your music has this positive touch and catchiness…Do you agree?

SCOTT: I listen to a lot of different stuff and lately most of the metal stuff I write tends to be inspired by melodies I hear in older music like 60’s pop music or old country, folk, classical etc. Then when I go to transform the rough song idea into a “metal” song it feels like three sources always seem to prevail in its translation: The Scorpions, Iron Maiden and The Ramones. Those three bands already are pretty “happy-sounding” for heavy music or punk so especially when you consider that I write songs in a more traditional manner, then filter them through these influences, it comes out sounding rather chipper. I’ve never been a particularly dark person nor prone to depression or perpetual anger. For me things like Heavy Metal, ghost stories, horror movies, and creepy artwork etc. – they’re all just entertainment. I think shows like Scooby Doo had some sort of weirdly profound effect on me as a kid because if you look at some of the background artwork in that show, it is incredibly dreary. The background colours and imagery are very evil and oppressive yet the theme music is totally groovy and the characters are all these bright psychedelic colours. I think I picked up on contrast like this at an early age. Really, if you look at most metal imagery it’s a cartoonish depiction of evil – Walpyrgus just takes this juxtaposition to the next level. Look – it’s okay to be happy. You’re supposed to enjoy your life as you only get to live it once. I love heavy metal and I also love the beach, living healthy and being in the sun all day. That’s just me. That’s what you get when I write music.

How did you come in contact with Tom Philips (WHILE HEAVEN WEPT)? And are keyboards necessary? (I really love em – but there so much key-haters among us…)

SCOTT: I’ve known Tom since I was about 16. We met somewhere around ’91-’92. We were both from Northern Virginia (Washington DC suburbs) were and when the death metal scene was huge and primarily paraded around Deceased (in my memory and opinion). It should also be mentioned though that the DC scene of the 70’s’s-90’s was more famous for its punk/hardcore scene (Minor Threat/Bad Brains) and the Maryland Doom scene (Pentagram & Hellhound Records bands) which we were also into. But back to death metal – He was in a band called Parasitic Infestation and I was in a band called Golgotha so our bands played together at this goofy Roller Skating place that was turned into a teen hangout. Anyway, he had started While Heaven Wept way back then and that material always impressed me as away from the death metal crowd, he had already been creating “real” music composed with scales and structure as opposed to the a-tonal nonsense we were used to: beer & weed-fuelled teenage boys of the time would create after digesting too much Slayer & Earache bands. Yes, I love keys in rock music. I love Blondie, Pink Floyd, Deep Purple, Uriah Heep, Journey, and Nocturnus for that matter! I also love Slayer and Darkthrone – those are two of my favourite bands. I understand getting down with evil disharmonic music. But that’s not all of me and when it comes down to it, you know, it’s okay to embrace being vulnerable, sensitive and happy. You know why? Because I’m very comfortable with myself and I have no issues or worries about how tough or cool I am or appear. For Twisted Tower Dire, it makes no sense to suddenly create a keyboard-laden album, so I figured Walpyrgus may be my one chance to do so. That said, I wrote most of these songs with keys in mind.

The Vinyl issue will have a special comic. What can you tell me about it?

SCOTT: So, I was running one day because that’s one of the other great passions in my life along with my family and music – I’m a long-distance runner. I get a lot of my ideas in these drawn-out, isolated and meditative hours. I had been reading The Walking Dead comics and thinking about how much I would love to create something like that. Then I thought about how I’ve got all this stuff going on in my life and I doubted that it was realistic to take on a new project. I could take years to create something and then I’d probably have to self-publish it. Sounded like a new world I just didn’t feel like diving into (I’m also a certified open water scuba diver – for real) – then I thought, “you’ve got an album coming out where you wrote all the lyrics, you went to college for art, you should really take this opportunity to create a comic book for it”. So that day I started to work on it and bit-by-bit, it slowly came together. I had a clipboard with drawings I took with me everywhere for about two years. If I was waiting in line at the post office I would stand their drawing. I didn’t care of little old ladies were seeing a grown man drawing pictures of naked ladies, skulls and devils. I just kept drawing and made it happen, ha ha ha. Many of the drawing were stippled (many little dots) – so it was such a long-term project which makes the comic book very much analogous to my long distance running in that it was a vision I had were the completion was far in the future. I find that I tend to incorporate similar disciplines in my sport and music in this regard.

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Please give short statements  

  1. a) KING DIAMOND or MERCYFUL FATE – Mercyful Fate, I love the signature “boogie riffs” and Black Sabbathy rawness. Mercyful Fate sounds truly earie whereas King Diamond is very “produced” and really delving into the strangeness of that man’s awesome mind. I love both but MF really is one of those special bands for me. When I was a teenager they really gave me a sense of team work as you can hear all these crazy little parts you can just tell were added by all the super-talented guys. You know – MF sounds like a “group effort” like Iron Maiden, whereas when you listen to just King Diamond you’re getting just him. Also – when I saw them as a teenager on the “In the Shadows” tour I noticed something that always stuck with me. I worshipped these guys. I thought they were golden gods. While watching them play I was transfixed and studying them carefully. I noticed Hank Sherman fuck up something and very calmly and slowly grinned at the audience and over at the band then very assured of himself just kept playing his solo. It was so human and graceful and it showed me that he was letting loose and having fun. He was trying to give the audience his best but he was a human and a human moment by hitting a bad note – and that’s okay. That really stuck with me as a template for how conduct myself on stage – though I do my best to not fuck up at all, ha ha.
  2. b) best METALLICA-album – “Ride The Lightning” no question. One of the coolest guitar tones of all time, wonderfully arranged song order so that the album flows like a finely-crafted novel, and it’s epic like “Powerslave” yet evil and violent.
  3. c) worst MAIDEN -album – I hate this question because I love Iron Maiden unconditionally but I won’t cheat by filibustering – “Virtual XI” because I feel like they started doing things that I thought (at the time at least) were antithetical to the Maiden ethos which of course is some nonsense I created in my own mind as a fan – It’s not “my” band, ha  . What I mean by that statement though, is that I felt they were straying lyrically from what I thought had been a consistent legacy of epic, heroic and poetic word-smithing. I don’t know… I think I just didn’t like that image of Eddie in top standing in front of a casino boat, ha ha ha. It was just too goofy. It felt like someone should have been there to tell them “no”. That imagery to me (Mississippi River Boats) are just this corny Americana stuff that I didn’t associate with Iron Maiden.   
  4. d) OSTROGOTH or SORTILEGE – Ostrogoth. I’m a song guy before a metal guy and I think their songs are stronger. I like songs that can translate across genres and I feel like Ostrogoth does that well. I think our bass player Jim Hunter might disagree though, he loves Sortilege a whole lot.
  5. e) best TWISTED TOWER DIRE – “Isle of Hydra” – we were in our sweet spot then as a group of friends and it was really a group collaboration. I remember that time in life just being fun.

What are your influences (musically, books, movies) – I can also hear some punk vibes

SCOTT: Musically – Iron Maiden, Lizzy, old Slayer, Blue Oyster Cult, Misfits, Ramones, Scorpions, Sex Pistols, Mercyful Fate, Van Halen, Pink Floyd, Sabbath, Willie Nelson, Bob Marley, John Lennon. Books – Poe, Lovecraft for fiction, for “life-changers” Eckhart Tolle “The Power of Now” & Rich Roll “Finding Ultra”. Movies – The Shining, Aliens, Rambo II, Revenge of The Nerds, This Is Spinal Tap, Conan The Barbarian, The Road Warrior, The Empire Strikes Back.

Is it true that TWISTED TOWER DIRE is still alive but sleeping?

SCOTT: TTD is alive but in a new form. We used to be an extremely tight group of friends (still are), but we’ve grown up and live further apart. Right now, Dave and Marc are writing the new album and I’m kind of just making little suggestions here and there so essentially TTD lives on but Dave and I agreed to flip roles for this album, so he’s the main song writer. In Raleigh, I’m just over-extended with projects – I play in 3 bands outside of TTD, am a running coach, and train regularly for ultra-marathons (foot races between 50-100 miles) which are often cantered around charity. I just though it would be best for now if Dave wrote it because it would give fans a new perspective and mainly because I’m spread so thin. I would normally never want to give up control of “my baby” but Dave and I kind of “grew up” together as guitarists so our styles are invariably interwoven and he knows exactly how to deliver the TTD “brand” – maybe better than I do at this point. The stuff he’s come up with is just awesome. I know TTD fans are going to be happy. A lot of his songs give me chills with just the music (no vocals) so that’s the highest compliment I can give. I’m not bragging about my own band – I’m just saying Dave was really inspired to write the next TTD album and he put so much heart into it there’s no way you can’t hear it. That said, the album is really coming along and we’re deep into the process now. I’m sort of watching and listening from the side-lines as a fan of him, ha ha. I’ve written lyrics for about 5 of the new songs and I’ve been working in the “happy supernatural” world of Walpyrgus so long, that it’s been really fun to return to writing just straight-up “meathead” violent metal lyrics about wars and fighting and all that uber-metal fodder which I decidedly refrained from in Walpyrgus’s overall aesthetic.

How are your plans for a live show – WALPYRGUS is a band with a very visual concept?

SCOTT: We wanted to be visual but not at the same time not “fake” or “reeking of effort”. We liked how The Ramones look like a gang of guys that “fit” together so we sort of channelled that by simply agreeing on the following band rules: we all were black, we have gang symbol medallions we wear so everyone knows they’re dealing with The Walpyrgus Boys and that they’d best not tangle with us, and the last rule is “no nerds are allowed” in the band – that unfortunately is something we’ve agreed on out loud, spoken and agreed upon. You hear that Carlos? You passed the “cool” test. I think we watched the movies “A Clockwork Orange” and “The Warriors” a few too many times perhaps.

Anything planned regarding gigs, festivals Europe-Trips?

SCOTT: We’ve had a few people say they’re interested but it’s a matter of getting us all over there, it’s very expensive to get all five us over there so we’ll see if we can make it work. But the true answer is “No” but we want to.

The Last Words are yours:

SCOTT: Thanks so much for giving me a voice and taking interest in our music! I seriously have much gratitude that people care about what we’re doing and creating. Without the fans who listen to our music and encourage us forward – we’d not have the motivation to create music, so in a sense you helped create this album as much as we did. Also – I do charity work for people struggling with addiction/mental addiction (drugs, alcohol, cutting – all forms of addiction). I don’t judge anyone but let’s face it, a lot of metalheads love their booze and substances. Many of us get lost in it. I know I did. I work with an organization called The Herren Project, founded by Chris Herren who at one point was additcted to heroin while at the same time played for The Boston Celtics. If anyone has had themselves or had a loved one struggle with addiction please read my story at www.ultrarunvegan.com, My personal story is there. It has to do with arresting alcoholism before it becomes something that completely takes you down to the very bottom. You can notice the signs of addiction before it’s something that ruins your life. Also – it’s never too late to totally turn yourself around. A few years ago I was 50 pounds heavier, smoked a pack of cigarettes a day, and I drank (a lot) every day. Now I’m in the best shape of my life and running The Leadville 100 in August 2017 (widely considered one of the world’s toughest races). I’m not selling anything or want anyone to think I’m bragging or putting myself above them – I’m just saying anyone can turn things around and be a force of good. It’s possible for anyone. You can connect with me personally on Twitter / Instagram with the handle @ultrarunvegan. And back to Walpyrgus, you can connect with us and all of our social media outlets (AND) by our merch at www.walpyrgus.com Thanks so much for time!

Interview w/ UUHH TUH TUH HUH

 

  • How did you come to the creation of the band? How long have you been together? 

SCOTT WALDROP: I was sitting alone on the beach back in 2012. I was doing nothing, drunk, smoking cigarettes, and feeling sorry for myself. I’m typing this interview in the same location funny enough, looking at the beach on the porch of my family’s place in The Isle of Palms, South Carolina – but right now things are much more peaceful. Back in 2012 it was a pathetic scene of self-destruction & self-pity. I was thinking about all the other cool things my friends were doing with their music and wondering why I couldn’t seem to get my shit together. Dave and Marc from Twisted Tower Dire lived far away so I knew I’d never get the momentum back with that band like we had 10 years prior. I finally decided I was going to stop having a loser mentality and I was going to stand up and start making some changes in my life. Funny enough – it started with forming a new band and not addressing my alcoholism – but that’s another story. When I took assessment of my local options, I knew I had the perfect band in front of me just waiting to be formed. I had long-time music partner/collaborator in Jim Hunter living in the Raleigh near me. Again – I had long-time collaborator and singer of TTD Jonny Aune in Raleigh, who was sitting around and pretty much also doing nothing with his musical talent other than the occasional TTD show and singing/playing in his church’s band. But I also had two others “Secret Weapons” in my proverbial “arsenal” just waiting to be busted out and deployed at the right time: Peter Lemieux and Charley Shackelford. Peter was one of the BEST drummers in Raleigh for rock music. I say he “was” only because he moved to Los Angeles a few years ago. He is a good friend and played in Viper with Jonny Aune in high school. The two of them grew up playing music together and they have a knack for harmonizing and complimenting the timbre of each other’s voices the way Waters/Gilmour of Pink Floyd (I guess that’s a good example) would. They’re just musically “supposed” to be with one another in my opinion. So, a big part of forming Walpyrgus was to get those two back together in a band because they’re mighty powerful together. When Viper disbanded Peter joined Widow and Aune came to Twisted Tower Dire. Then there’s Charley – again he’s one of those local guys who’s just revered for his playing. I met him back in ’98 when he played in a band called Iskariot which are Raleigh legends now. He was great back then but he kept getting better and better at guitar. I think at one point he really locked himself away and carefully studied Zakk Wylde. He had been playing in Daylight Dies through their big success period and then years later started his own band Hellrazor here in Raleigh. When that band came out you could really see how his guitar playing had evolved. They’d cover Ozzy “Breakin’ All The Rules” and the town would be abuzz and gossiping about how Charley nailed the solo and how amazing his guitar tone was. So, prefaced with all that back story, here I am back in 2012 sitting at the beach drunk and ready to take back a hold of my life. I called Jim, Jonny, Charley, and Peter all within the same hour explaining that I wanted to start an all original band. We were going to sound like Iron Maiden/Scorpion & Ramones/Danzig, the songs were going to be about the occult, and there were to be lots of guitar harmonies and vocal harmonies. Everyone agreed very enthusiastically on the spot that day and so now – years later, you have this album. So, we’ve technically been together for 5 years but Carlos Denogean of Salvación joined on drums a couple years ago so we’re a new version of Walpyrgus post-Peter, but still rocking and having fun playing together.

 2- Why did you pick Walpyrgus as a name? Sounds like witches, but written in a peculiar way… 

SCOTT WALDROP: I think subconsciously I liked that it sounded like “Waldrop” ha ha ha. Tom Phillips was the first to call me out on that and it made me crack up laughing because I hadn’t really thought about it but I knew it was true. That’s how it is when you’re buddies with someone for over 26 years. They know you better than you know yourself, ha ha ha. Me and Jim were the ones who brain-stormed band names and landed on Walpurgis, then changed the spelling to Walpyrgus. Changing the spelling was Jim’s idea. We wanted to set ourselves apart from all the other “Walpurgis” metal bands and if you google us with the weird spelling you’ll ONLY get us, so – I believe there was some deep nerd-thinking involved. Really, here are the main concepts behind the name: First – it was inspired by Fates Warning’s “Night on Brocken” lyrics which is a religiously important band (especially their early work) for me, Jim and Tim. Second – HP Lovecraft refers to the holiday quite often in his mythos and he’s probably my biggest literary influence in the way he “paints pictures” with words. Third – we wanted the band to be occult based aesthetically with our imagery & lyrics. Fourth – the holiday involves witches which are related in modern culture to darkness – yet the holiday celebrates the rites & coming of spring – a time of light, renewal and hope (symbolically). I feel like the holiday itself is a juxtaposition or almost a contradiction only in its modern context. Walpyrgus is about the tension between light vs. Dark. The lyrics are often rather gruesome yet the music is often jovial and celebratory. This is done on purpose for no other profound reason other than “I like that sort of thing” ha ha ha. It’s like Scooby Doo or The Munsters – American kid’s shows I grew up with. They were creepy and fun.
 
3- Though this is the first “official” album, you already collected a significant experience. What were the most relevant steps of it? 

SCOTT WALDROP: When we got together we all agreed that the end goal was to put out a full-length album and we agreed we wanted to create it very “organically” the way we would back in our 20’s or teens. That meant agreeing to get together at least once a week (the guitar players Charley and I would get together even more often to sort out timing and harmony intricacies), we would play all the songs live and often to see how people reacted to them, and then we would slowly adjust the arrangements until we got them the way we liked them. So, if you look back over our social media you’ll see that we’ve been playing lots of shows in the Carolinas over the past 5 years. We also put out an EP to get recording experience with this band. This was also part of the grand plan – demoing the songs repeatedly.

legions114- Already two, yet unofficial, live albums. Why? What’s the magic of playing live for you? 

SCOTT: We just happened to get to decent sound recordings from that bar “Deep South” down here in Raleigh and yes, we did practice quite a lot and we were proud to showcase that in those live albums. Peter’s Dad was who had those recordings done. In a day in age were bands are so fake in the way they’re produced and function we wanted to show that we’re the “real deal”. Also – they’re only 1 buck on our bandcamp and we figured we’d give our fans something to check out while we were working on the album. Also, it’s so easy to put stuff on bandcamp these days and just have it available – if you’ve got stuff to give the fans then why not? We’re not self-conscious of our “slightly imperfect” live show ha ha. Those live performances aren’t perfect but that’s okay. Nothing wrong with being human! It’s also the only place (other than YouTube) videos where you can check out our covers of “Evil” by Mercyful Fate and “Dirty Women” by Black Sabbath. Check us out at: https://walpyrgus.bandcamp.com There’s free Walpyrgus music there for all you bargain hunters and freegans!
 
5- How do your songs get conceived? Any recurring formula? 

SCOTT: They come from my body – I make them myself like a human baby. That’s partly true. First, I’ll get an idea for a song, and then typically I’ll chill out on my sofa or porch with my dogs and strum chords, singing the melodies and scribbling the words out on a notepad. I try to channel my inner-Willie Nelson or Bob Marley – you know, thinking to myself, “How did traditional song writers go about creating the classics,” I remember seeing that raw footage of Bob Marley playing “Redemption Song” in its early form and that had a big impact on me – seeing this song-writing master hash out the song by himself. I try to be mindful about how the phrasing of the words roles off the tongue with the vocal melodies and how those words & melodies are married to the guitar progressions. I ask myself, “Do these chords really sound like what the words are trying to convey?” I try to make sure that the chords and words are supposed to be together. I want the words and chords to really come together and complement one another so that they paint a picture (if you will) for the listener. First, I want it to be a SONG, not a metal song. To me, “Octopus’s Garden” by the Beatles is a song. You don’t remember any riffs, you just know that it really “sounds” and “feels” like hanging out with an Octopus and swimming under the peaceful sea. Anyway, after I feel like I have a true “song”. I’ll take the project upstairs to my man cave or “metal office” and I’ll begin to deconstruct the song. If the chord progression for the verse is G,C, D with a 1/16 swing time then I’ll create a simple “Black Sabbath” riff with those notes in that time signature. I’ll record all the song in “metal riffs” with a drum machine and then I’ll add my example singing over it. The I’ll email this “finished song” to the band so they can get a clear picture of the song. If everyone likes it (not all songs pass the Walpyrgus consortium) we come together at practice and begin to fine-detail it. Charley will make the riff more disciplined and technical. He’ll make us agree on exactly how to down pick and triplet timing etc. We’ll sort those nuances out with the drums. Jim will usually hyper analyze drum beats & fills then lock in with them on the bass also taking consideration vocal & guitar lines so that in the end the bass dances & weaves around the whole song melodically & time-wise. Jim adds and suggests removing so many parts in songs that final product really has a lot of his influence in it. He’s the “edit master”. Aune adds his own perspective on phrasing, melody and often repletion. Peter’s drum parts speak for themselves – so creative! So that’s pretty much how it goes. I come to the band with a very raw and simple tune, then we all go to work cleaning it up and detailing it.
 
6- The traditional metal background is clear, though you show a great variety of influences… What leads you to write music? 

SCOTT WALDROP: Some strange force whose origins I cannot perceive compel me to write and create art. That is the truth. I have no idea why but I was born creating music and art I think. Sometimes I don’t even if feel like it’s me who writes the stuff sometimes. I would probably be a more eclectic song-writer these days if I had the choice, but I started off in metal and metal has given me a voice and platform so I stay true to it and feeling comfortably beholden to our beloved genre. If you go back and listen to seminal hard rock (what was to begin metal) – stuff like Blue Cheer, Sabbath, MC5, Mountain, Deep Purple, etc – of course they had nothing to influence them except for their forerunners and contemporaries like Jimi Hendrix. Who did Jimi love? Dudes like Albert King. My thing is that I love King, Hendrix, and everything coming afterwards and everything before. I find bits and bats of music all over the place that deeply resonates with me. If I’m being honest, my favorite new artist is Sia who is as far from metal as you could possibly get. The reason I love her is because I can feel her soul through her music. I could a sense of who she is. A lot of her songs deal with the journey out of the darkness of addiction which resonates deeply with me. Also – her songs are timeless and genre- defying. Her songs are created in this beautifully over-saturated electro pop medium but they could just as easily be turned into metal or country songs by changing beats and some key signatures. I listen to music very objectively and it’s very spiritual for me. It’s no longer “fashion” the way it was when I was 15 (though I still have a drawer full of Slayer, Misfits, Sex Pistols, Venom and Bathory T-shirts because it’s fun not to grow up and be the weirdo parent at the grocery store). I’ll take ideas from anywhere – Neal Diamond, a TV commercial jingle, classical music, early America Folk Gospel and use them as inspiration for something that turns into a metal song. Sure – I still have my “riff” influences like Slayer, Bathory, Celtic Frost, Maiden, Lizzy – that’s the platform I build ‘songs” on. I write metal but the inspiration should (and does) come from anywhere – and I mean ANYWHERE. I’m not too caught up with fitting in and never really have felt that way. I just try to be my most authentic self, throw my weird ideas out there before the “proverbial campfire” and hope that people will like them. I’m blessed to have awesome bandmates and friends who believe in my ideas – see value in them – and will see them come to fruition. Without my Walpyrgus & Twisted Tower Dire bandmates willing to go down “the rabbit hole” with me, this would never happen (not to mention labels who have supported me and continue to do so like Cruz Del Sur, No Remorse, Miskatonic Foundation, Skol, Remedy and more – AND fans & zines…) I have so much appreciation for all these supporters I cannot express my gratitude enough for them (you) encouraging me onwards!

7- Your songs are incredibly catchy. Is it something you try to reach on purpose? 

SCOTT WALDROP: I get annoyed if things are not VERY catchy. I feel like music is uninspired if I do not remember it for better or worse. Example: if I have the radio station on and a jingle for carpet shampoo comes on, and I wind up getting this five-second jingle stuck in my head all day, I think its creator is a genius. Conversely – if I instantly forget a set of words with a melody I feel like the ditty is a failure or just not as good as it could have been. If you go see a live band and cannot remember anything about them or the songs then what’s the point? I cannot listen to music without pontificating on its merits and weakness or what it could be if it were written differently. It’s some form of clinical insanity I’m sure. I’ll go for very long periods of time where I only listen to classical music so that I can hear the mathematics of melody and harmony layers, counterpoints etc. because words sometimes distract me. Words in music force the listener into a specific soundscape and narrative. They “take” you into their story and force you to listen to it like you’re The Wedding Guest and it (the song) is “The Ancient Mariner” and you’re forced to listen to “the nightmares of the sea”. That was an Iron Maiden ‘ Samuel Taylor Coleridge’ reference worth a google of you’re a late 19th century literary nerd such as myself. So, look – here’s the deal: All of us metalheads who have ever written a metal song know that one thing is true. That truth is that we’ve all listened to “Master of Puppets” and grew up under its shadow and its assumption that not only is it okay to jam-pack a song with 35 disparate ideas and riffs but also that it’s desirable and honorable. Well I challenge you to listen to Dusty Springfield’s “I Only Want to Be With You” (albeit annoying bubble gum from the 60’s for most metalheads, not me) and try your best to write something that memorable and accessible. I bet you can’t do it! Please try because that’s what I want to hear! It takes way more concentration and thoughtfulness to strip an idea down that far and make it uber catchy than it is to string along a 15-minute metal opus. What are the aliens going to find when they rummage through Earth’s ancient dust a billion years from now? There will be more binary code for “I Only Want to Be with You” than there will be for Fates Warning “Ivory Gate of Dreams”. Oh my god, I can’t show my face at metal fests any more after that one. I’m going to get crucified – but it’s true. Search your feelings, you know it to be true!

8- Tom Phillips of WHW was involved for the album. What was his contribution? 

SCOTT WALDROP: Tom is one of my oldest friends. I have a handful of people that of stick in my life (other than family) since the 80’s/early 90’s and Tom happens to be one of them. So, for Walpyrgus we had already recorded the drums & guitars for the album in the studio at Volume 11 studios down here in Raleigh owned by Mike Dean of Corrosion of Conformity. Mike Shaffer had done all the engineering of the main instrument tracks and at this point we had shipped the album a few blocks over to Johnny Wooten’s (Widow) studio who’s also a very long-time friend and collaborator/producer of my music. We always do vocals with Wooten because ever since Twisted Tower “Make it Dark” we’ve had a whole “system” and great working relationship where we don’t even have to really talk – we just start working. Anyway, while all of this is going on I go to work in my home studio recording the keyboards. First, I went through all the songs and very carefully orchestrated and wrote all the parts while selecting the proper synthesizer & organ tones coupled with the effects I wanted them run through. I was experimenting running organs through my Marshall vintage modern to get the Deep Purple tones and doing all sorts of weird stuff like using a moog Theremin with a pitch corrector through various effects. Around this time, it dawned on me that I was somewhat “shooting in the dark” for the correct sounds and that other musicians have spent their entire careers messing with keyboard tones – and here I am diving into this unknown world just hoping that it comes out right. So, then I think to myself, “Okay, one of your friends has been playing keyboards professionally for over 25 years, I need help from Tom to do this right”. So, I text him saying, “could you help me out with Walpyrgus keys? I don’t feel like I quite know what I’m doing”. I didn’t know if he would give me suggestions or just record them quickly for me. So, we get on the phone and he says he loves the songs and would love to do it and that I asked him at a perfect moment between While Heaven Wept activity. Moreover, he was currently in the process of amassing a “library of congress”-equivalent of original analog key samples that he wanted to experiment with anyway. Slowly, it turned into him being interested in getting the original studio files so he could edit the drums (something that winds up costing several thousand dollars in a professional studio situation). So, I mailed him an external hard drive and he just went to work. He said he wanted to take a stab at fully editing and producing the whole thing and preparing it for Kevin 131 at Assembly Line studios (our mix man). Tom and I have spent enough time around world-class engineers and producers to know what all is involved with creating a “world-class production” but this was Tom’s first time really undertaking the momentous task of editing each track to perfection. It required several consultations with Kevin 131 but he got through it. I think he really had to lock himself away for a long time to get it done. So, it was a huge sacrifice and something I’m always going to have the utmost gratitude for. Also, it should be noted that he re-wrote a lot of my parts and made them much more sophisticated such as the keys melodies in the song “Walpyrgus Nights” and the guitar solo in that song. Also “The Dead of Night” orchestration at the end is something he really took and made amazing – my original idea was a pale shade of what it was to become.

9- Now apparently, he announced his retirement from the scene. What do you think of it? Will it change something for the band? 

SCOTT WALDROP: I can only answer this from a friend’s perspective so understand that I am not speaking for Tom. Here is what I “think” of Tom’s announcement. I must preface this statement by saying that when I first met Tom as a teenager, I wanted to be friends with him because of his intensity and passion for music. I knew he was one of the guys in my peer group that had the potential to take music “all the way” (whatever that means now, ha ha ha). That said, I’ve watched him over the years accomplish what I knew he was going to accomplish when I met him in the early 90’s. It’s been very cool to see him realize his visions and I’m very happy for and am proud of my friend. He earned everything that came his way. Music is everything to him. I doubt he will ever not have music in his life in some capacity but I think he needs to concentrate on some semblance of balance in his life. It’s public knowledge that he’s struggled with alcoholism such as I have. I can speak from experience with this that the mental affliction that culminates in alcoholism has its biproducts such as isolation and extreme behavior. I’d suspect he may be noticing unhealthy behavioral patterns in the way he approaches music, and that he needs to address them (this is conjecture). For Walpyrgus and what it means for our future is this: if we get the chance to record another album or even just put out singles, we’ve now established a certain level of quality we need to maintain. So, if we have the money (or more accurately – if a label is willing to give us the money) we will have our music properly edited and produced. Most (not all) but most, of Walpygus’s sound is indicative of my song-writing style so we can go on so long as we have a high caliber crew. He may be willing to do a cameo just for keyboards or a guitar solo here and there too. I would want him to be involved but only if it creates happiness and fulfillment for him.

10- Twisted Tower Dire is the home of some of you. Are TTD still alive? What did the TTD experience bring to Walpyrgus? 

SCOTT WALDROP: Of course. TTD is my “baby” and Marc Stauffer & David Boyd are two of my best friends ever – we’re truly like brothers. Yes, TTD is still alive. Dave and Marc have been quietly working very hard on a new TTD album while Walpyrgus has been active. The thing is that Dave has also been playing in Volture and Marc has been playing in Division so we’ve all been juggling projects and geographical distance to make a new TTD come to life. TTD also has so much history, especially with the passing of Tony Taylor that we need to be very sensitive & respectful about stylistically preserving our legacy – that goes for our fans as well as Tony’s memory. I felt like in “Make it Dark” I personally was indulging in a lot of things Tony never would have wanted TTD to do. I’ll never know for sure about this. The thing is – Tony was still alive when I wrote those songs but now that he’s in the next world, I feel like I need to keep those ideas separate hence Walpyrgus. I wanted Dave to write all the music for the next TTD because I knew he would preserve the sound that Tony loved about TTD (the triumphant battle aesthetic as opposed to my weird groovy supernatural stuff). I felt like I needed to step back from things to pay homage to Tony. Also, I’ve been so busy with other activities such as my running career, writing and charity work – I just don’t have enough hours in the day to expedite another TTD. I told Dave to take over the band and make another album while I’m indisposed with all this other stuff. I’ve been writing lyrics to Dave’s songs that I think Tony would love and I think that he’s up there smiling. So, what the TTD experience brought to Walpyrgus are a few things. First, I knew what NOT to do such as release things with a poor production. Also, it gave me a clear idea of what TTD is and why we do it. TTD is about epic songs and tales of heroism mixed with a twinge of occult. Walpyrgus is ALL hard rock and ALL groovy occult music. It can go as silly as we want and it’s okay! TTD has to remain somewhat serious. Tony Taylor was never a fan of my tongue-and-cheek humor IN THE MUSIC (he was one of the funniest people I’ve ever known otherwise, ha ha ha) But, he liked to make sure we kept the music deep, sophisticated, and “tough”. You know – he didn’t want us to be “goofy”. He used to joke and tell me that I lived in “The Star Wars Universe”, ha ha ha. I cannot deny it. So basically, that’s what we’ve brought to Walpyrgus – that unfettered compulsion I have to write groovy “ghost story” rock that I simply think I should suppress in TTD. You know, Marc and Dave were also sensitive about not going too far down this path in TTD. So, it’s good that I had them to “dial me back” and remember what TTD stands for. You know – how bands become great and stay great? I THINK, it’s because people who work well together stick together and help remind each other what they stand for and what their strengths are. So, that’ what I brought with me – a strong sense that Walpyrgus was: a very specific conduit through which to channel these “spooky rock” elements.
 
11- It looks like you pay great attention to imagery and artwork. How far do you think it enriches your music? 

SCOTT WALDROP: I do. I have been drawing ever since I can remember as well as dabbling with music as long as I can remember so I think the two have evolved in my brain together and in tandem. When I write lyrics, it evokes images in my mind and I am fortunate enough to have been given the skill to recreate and articulate the concepts visually through illustration so why not combine the two skills as its rather rare I think. I was very influenced by Away from Voivod and empowered by him. He’s not Derek Riggs. Their artwork wasn’t as bombastic and glorious like Iron Maiden BUT it was personal – created by the same person that created much of the lyrics and music. I thought that was so cool. I could aspire to be like him where Derek Riggs – I could only be Inspired” by him because a god among painters.  

12- Will we have the chance to see you live in Europe soon? Any chances for this to happen? 

SCOTT WALDROP – I really have no idea if this will happen or not. If we get offered a good slot on a good fest and we have some cooperation from promoters, then it’s very possible. Even then, we would in all likeliness be buying our own plane tickets and paying for transportation, food, not to mention taking off time from work and being away from our families, so it would have to be a very good offer. It costs a lot of money for promoters to fly 5 guys over from The USA to Europe so you know, I don’t blame anyone who wouldn’t want to pay for a relatively unknown band. Otherwise, I think our personal would be better spent on making more music for you 😊
 
13- I read you have some charity projects running. Do you want to tell us more about them?

SCOTT WALDROP: Yes! I run for a charity/non-for-profit organization called The Herren Project: http://www.theherrenproject.org Its name sake played in the NBA for the Boston Celtics (American Basketball which along with football, and baseball is pretty much what America is all about) while addicted to opioids / heroin. This organization does a lot of great work getting addicts and their families the support and help they need. We can’t help everybody but we try our best. This problem touches everyone. Everyone has a friend or loved one that has suffered from depression, drank too much, let pills take over their lives, – even eating disorders and cutting. I’ve dealt with this so many times in my own life not only with family members and dear friends – but even myself. I started taking LSD and drinking heavily when I was 13. By the time I was in my late 30’s despite having a great job, a wonderful family, a nice house, some amazing friends and a respectable run with my music – I was depressed, drinking in isolation and doing weird things that are the tell-tale sign of alcoholism such as buying cheap booze to guzzle on the way home from work before I’d “really begin drinking” which became an every-day affair. I don’t have a story where I wound up homeless, with everyone hating me and an arm full of track marks from shooting heroin with a needle. My message to people is that you can stop the problem before it comes to dire consequences. If you’re on the elevator shaft to hell going down, you don’t have to get off at the basement floor. You can get off on any floor. I’m just a normal dude, a husband, father, someone who pays their bills, and fixes their house on a regular basis. Outwardly you wouldn’t know I had a problem but I was slowly sliding down that well of alcoholism and I could see just a little bit into the future and it didn’t look good. I was also very overweight and heavy smoker. I though a healthy lifestyle was something other people could attain but not myself. I thought that it just wasn’t “meant” for me and that I was the “kind of person who tends to be fat and drinks a little too much.” Well if you tell yourself that narrative YOU ARE WRONG! You can turn things around and it’s never too late. To put my mouth where my words are I will be running The Leadville 100. One of America’s toughest 100-mile foot races at high altitude. I’m doing this for two reasons: First two show people that an overweight, chains-smoking drunk can turn things around 180 degrees. Maybe this will give someone the inspiration to take the first step towards a healthier lifestyle. It’s so very possible! Second: to raise money to HELP people that cannot pull themselves out of the grip of addiction. Some people (most) need exterior help such as expensive treatment facilities. That’s what I’m raising money for! Go to any metal fest and you’ll see am ocean of alcohol – most people are just getting drunk and having a great time listening to our favorite music and enjoying the company of like-minded brothers and sisters. That’s great! That’s what it’s all about! But some people such as myself will leave the fest and continue the party alone. The only difference is – the party is no longer a party. It’s a dark fucking place that leads to despair and self-destruction. There are a lot of people walking in the same shoes I was in. Alcohol has always been a part of their life and that point where it becomes a slope they’ll slip on and the problem creeps into its full destructive mode is quickly approaching around the bend. These are the people I want to help. Drugs and alcohol go hand-in-hand with heavy metal – let’s face it, it’s true. I’m not trying to change that. If you’re a casualty of your own mental illness and cannot stop the party once it’s begun – you’re the person I want to reach. I’m here for you! You can change, YOU CAN. Contact me, connect with me. (AND PLEASE DO) read my personal story and donate if you wish at www.ultrarunvegan.com Please share this website with anyone you think will appreciate it. You can connect with me personally (not just my bands but ME) at on twitter, Instagram & Facebook at the handle @ultrarunvegan (yes I’m a Vegan – that’s a whole different story about wellness, but something I deeply believe in too)…Now back to Walpyrgus{ Thank you so much for the interview and giving me a voice. You have no idea how much I appreciate you and everyone who gets something out of our music. Thank you to anyone who has read all of this! You can connect with Walpyrgus at www.walpyrgus.com Links to all our social media are there, our merch store is there and you can download some free music or buy some of our digital music as well. THANK YOU LOUD AND PROUD! CHEEEEEERZ!

Interview with HellHeaven (Portugal)

HH: Walpyrgus is a very strange name for a band, what is the meaning of the name?

Peter Lemieux: Walpyrgus is taken from the pagan holiday for Half-Halloween, though the spelling has been adjusted to avoid confusion! It blends seamless with the content of the lyrics, like a rock n’ roll ghost story! A Detroit Rock City for the Afterlife if you will! 

Scott Waldrop: Yea – Jim Hunter (Walp bass) and I decided if you google “Walpyrgus” as opposed to “Walpurgis”, you would ONLY get us, ha ha ha. I named the band  – always had it in the back of my mind that this Walpyrgus is a cool un-used metal name. Inspiration came from the Fates Warning song “Night on Broken” and seeing the date (or holiday) referred to in HP Lovecraft stories.

 HH: the band was formed on 2012 and after a few smaller releases you see your debut record in stores, how does this goal means to you?

Peter Lemieux: It was truly a labor of love! Especially after deciding to move to California in 2015, and laying down the drums shortly before the actual move! Seeing the finished product really brings back all of the feelings and good times from writing, adding nuances, and rehearsing the tunes with the fellas!

Scott Waldrop: I agree, while there were many cool things that happened like the EP, may shows, some festival appearances out-of-state, and lots of very fun nights jamming in Peter’s basement – this album represents all of those years of hard work and something great we created as friends.

HH: You all came from other projects, how did this idea for the band appear and which were your goals that time? Anything changed?

Peter Lemieux: One day, in between all of the madness touring with Widow, Scott called me up with the concept. Obviously I didn’t need to think twice, considering the talent level of everybody plus my longtime brotherhood with Sir Aune! I think the goal all along was to make sure we got a full-length done! I don’t think that goal changed anywhere along the way- a huge reason why were able to follow through! Looking ahead, I think we’ll just have to wait and see!

Scott Waldrop: Yes, I just called up all the Walpyrgus members one day – all at a time – and asked if they wanted to start a new band writing all originals. I didn’t have anyone to jam with in the city I live (Raleigh) so I mainly did it to keep me from going insane.

HH: On the press release you say that Walpyrgus is a combination of Black Sabbath, Iron Maiden and Ramones, alongside with other bands, how would you define Walpyrgus?

Peter Lemieux: “Walpyrgus” – is the end result of mixing equal parts Mercyful Fate and Blue Oyster Cult inside of a horror themed bouncy-castle! 

Scott Waldrop: Those bands are my wordsI only listed those few influences to let you knowgive people a quick idea of where I’m coming from. in my mind. You could add to the list bands/people like Slayer, Scorpions, Sex Pistols, Johnny Cash etc. These are my favorites – you know, these are like the “default” : influences that pop out when I write music. We don’t play on vintage gear or try to make it sound “old school” so I think some people just hear us and are like, “These guys sound just like Helloween” or whatever. I think the guitar sound has a lot to do with that because Charlie and I play through Mesa Boogie Dual Rectifiers with modern guitars that have EMG’s pickups in them. That’s the perfect storm for a “modern” guitar sizzle sound. You know, that gives us that modern “tough guy” sound. I don’t really like that sort of music but let’s face it, modern amps sound so damn cool it’s just fun as hell to play through them. Back to the aforementioned bands wWe started the band with these influences in mind and as a basis., There of course are an innumerable amount of bands and musical influences I draw from (everything from classical to Sia) they indeed still are my main influences (all the aforementioned bands), and let things progress along the years. So, here in 2017 with the album out I’d say those influences most definitely ring true. We’re I’m inspired mainly by 70’s music – punk, very melodic song writers like Willie Nelson or Bob Marley, and blues hard rock…BUT we don’t play through 40-year old amps so whatever ingredients all of that amounts to is the sum of Walpyrgus.

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HH: with such a large range of influences and with your own identity of each one of you, how do you combine all that on your music?

Scott Waldrop: I take my demos to the band first. I will email them a song which is completely written from start to finish -, of course with the expectation that there will be edits and changes per each band members’ area of expertise. I’m not a band dictator and I wouldn’t give my friends these songs to help me manipulate them unto greatness if I didn’t trust their judgment and respect them as musicians, artists, and creators. The first thing that happens is I write the song with open chords on acoustic guitar as if I was writing a simple folk song meant to be mellow and just played by one guy alone like James Taylor or Simon & Garfunkle – whatever, something like that. Then I’ll take that idea up to my “man cave” which I call the “metal office” where I make a fairly simple demo using a keyboard drumbeat. I’ll turn the chord progressions into simple metal riffs and record example vocals. Then when we’re together as a band the magic starts when as my team goes to work on this demo song. It’s like they’re four sculptorss with rock hammers and they attack this monolith of marble like hungry lions (only they’re musicians and not lions, ha ha ha). The following is generalizing what the individual members do but this is just what sticks out in my head: Peter will tweak tempos, add his quirky fills and suggest backing vox ideas. .Aune defines the vocal melody as my demos are rather shaky, and he’ll help with arrangements, Jim edits the song andit, adds strange anomalies that bring a larger dimension to its technicality yet are very subtle. Charley takes my guitar work and cleans it up. He figures what we’re going to palm mute, general technique,  exactly how many notes are going to be in melodies and things like that.

HH: Dead Girls was the first single of Walpyrgus Nights, what is the theme about and why did you choose this song?

Scott Waldrop: The theme is loss of innocence. A lot of my lyrics are really kind of justhave hidden meanings for my own experiences with alcoholism, drug-use, and coming out of depressionit to find the light. The whole Walpyrgus aesthetics centers around, occultism, witchery, evil women etc so I have to set the narrative within those constraints. This makes the lyrics more colorful and “Metal: “ rather than me trying to be poetic and personal. Anyway – so albeit the song is about a girl, it’s about something analogous in my life – in the sense that this kid hits the streets at an early age and gets caught up in dark things (for myself it’s drugs and negativity). She gets swallowed up by the city and its seedy evil streets and becomes a monster among monsters. This relates to how you feel when ile in the throes of addiction: you’re around people you don’t really want to be around and the “true you” who was once beaming with light and potential is buried under the ugly crust that drugs and alcohol have covered you in. You know, “Beauty waned, felt her magic fade, snatched up by this evil place.” That’s addiction taking over and muting your spirit. You can interpret it for yourself by reading the lyrics but in the end, the evil spirits claim her for a moment then she’s forever just another one of the multitudes of “ghosts in the forest”. That’s an analogy for addiction taking someone unto death. I didn’t even quite realize how consistently my lyrics were tied to my own problems at the time, but it’s easy when I look back now years later. You know, I wanted the lyrics to sound cool and “metal” but I consciously wanted them to elicit a subtly emotional response from the listener. I want you to feel keenly aware that there’s a bit of higher meaning rather than me simply stringing along cool-sounding words & phrases. Okay, so why did we choose it? Ha ha ha. This song has been divisive! To preface it, I will let you know that I wrote this song in one night while drunk with the express intent of quickly writing a very catchy ode to The Ramones and The Misfits. Walpyrgus was one song away from being done  with writing all the songs we planned on writing for the “Walpyrgus Nights” album. Fand for this last song we all agreed we needed one song that sounded like “a single”. We needed our “Neon Knights” or “Living  After Midnight”.  I brought “Dead Girls” to the table at this 11th hour and Charley brought a song with a totally AWESOME Black Sabbath riff but no lyrics. Charley’s song was vastly superior in its “metal-ness” and guitar-work but mine was such an obviously well-crafted and generally “good” song. Charley conceded immediately after hearing “Dead Girls” that we needed to go with my idea saying that “guitar-wise it weaker than his but it’s obviously a better song.” That really honored me at the time if you’re reading this Charley. , ha ha. I should probably tell that to you in-person though, ha ha ha. As a band, we were all a little bit apprehensive about the song as we knew it was glaringly SOOOO punk and NOT metal it was going annoy some metal people. At the same time, we knew it was great song and that we couldn’t not pursue it. I think Enrico at Cruz Del Sur kind of didn’t quite know what to make of that song when he first heard it. This is just going off of what Tom Phillips told me as initially I let him deal with the label so Enrico didn’t have two guys pulling him in different directions. I let Tom have control of the band during production as he’s one of my best long-time friends and I fully trusted him (better than myself) to navigate us to a superior album. I think Enrico thought this song and perhaps this whole band (Walpyrgus)s was a little too rock & roll or commercial for CDS and rightfully so – I mean, I knew we were giving him some seriously very happy- sounding “bubble gum” music. We wound up releasing commercial YouTube videos at first (before Dead Girls). The first song let out was “Palmystry” and it just had the band photo, album cover and release date & details. Now, you’d really have to ask Enrico why he agreed to this as I never asked him personally, but if I had to guess it was he had confidence in the song , by then. So, when the time it came to himcame to releasesing a full single lyric video, he asked what song we wanted to  us to use. Me & Jim wanted to use “Dead Girls”. We actually wanted to use “Dead Girls” as the first song on the album but Tom thought it was a massive mistake and he perhaps was correct because the song does confuse a lot of people. To be honest, that is the kind of song I’m into writing these days. I think it’s harder to create something simple and infectiously catchy rather than something convoluted and epic. It’s like I think, “, pick your BEST ideas and CONSOLIDSATE that shit into 3 minutes or less.” That’s tough for a metal artist and I’m damn proud of that song. So that’s why it’s the single! Next question…GO!

HH: Each song seems to tell us a different story, is there any real concept around the record and where do you get the inspiration for songs like Somewhere Under the Summerwind or Lauralone?

 Scott Waldrop: Most definitely there is a unifying concept. If you listen to (or read) the  lyrics to each song you’ll find the exact same concept: One individual journeys into darkness (whether literally or figuratively), finds evil that’s been waiting for them there, and then transcends from it or descends into said darkness. It’s all analogous to addiction and depression within the constraints of a metaphors using heavy metal vernacular to paint a scene of witches and the supernatural. There is a main   female character in the story line of all the songs on the album save the Witch Cross cover of “Light of A Torch” although it should be noted that this song is also a song about journeying into darkness and being terrified to turn on the light and see what’s there – again a very clearly defined analogy for addiction and that song is about rats no less! If you think in terms of the songs being about one particular girl, you can look at the story progression and arc this way: “Dead Girls” is about the little child growing up into a dark adolescent. Then, “Lauralone” is about the adolecent who longs to seek their own path. She thinks she’s tougher than she really is and dark forces attach themselves to her. I believe dark forces are real and will attach themselves to you if you aren’t strong mental and physically – for real, no bullshit, I’m that weird and airy. Next, if you look at “The Dead of Night” that adolescent girl has become a fully mature and very evil woman who is fully swallowed by evil, so much that she becomes inhuman. The only song based on a true story and not coming all directly from my inner world is “Summerwind” as there is a famous house in Wisconsin. Check it out: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Summerwind I took liberties with the lyrics to make them poetic but much of the lyrics are based on the true story. Again though, the haunted house is analogous to the human soul. A house becomes an almost living and breathing entity brimming with the energy and residual emotion of the hands that tended and mended it’s boards over decades. When the spiritual cacophony in a dwelling becomes so disharmonic with ghostly emotional crosstalk that it can no longer be inhabited by mortal humans, it becomes that ominous grey structure damned to loom in the forest unto ultimate oblivion. It wanes in despair and disrepair in futile longing for its long-since-dead guardians. That is the addict and their baggage. Perhaps that chance for a miracle can come true for them and they can find redemption. Sometimes death is the only way to know peace for some souls (and houses) who’s storm only can be quelled in eternal silence. This is Summerwind. This is the tragic nature of mental illness. This is the metaphor.

HH: After all this wai surrounding the debut record you gotta be anxious regarding how people will react to Walpyrgus Nights, which are your expectations?

 Scott Waldrop: I do not get attached to outcome. The universe has provided for me wonderfully for over 40 years. I’m a live still and doing just fine so why worry about the future? Wwhy worry about what people will think? I’ve spent much of my youth caught up in that sort of thinking. I spent a lot of my vitality and gave myself to a lot of the bad side of “what ifs” and it did not serve me. Sure, tragic things happen in life. I had a troubled childhood. My house burned down. Many loved ones have died in bad ways. Some drank themselves to death. I saw my beloved Grandmother fall into dementia. One of my best friends died in an unspeakably tragic motorcycle accident (RIP Tony Taylor). But, I’m still here. I’m sober. I’m healthy. I’m fucking thriving. Why worry? I know if I am afraid of failure I’ll never try to succeed. That’s why I put myself publicly “out there” as out-spoken advocate for addiction recovery. That’s why I’m unafraid of displaying my lifestyle aspects which could be construed as antithetical to the “metal ethos”.  I’m cool with saying I love ABBA. That’s why I do fringe sports like a 100-mile mountain marathons. That’s why I put out songs like “Dead Girls”. I do these things because it’s possible I could fail. Often in life you need to fail to succeed. When you perceive an endeavor such as creating an album and its reception by the public as a success you feel stronger. You feel like you’ve grown and that you’ve proven that you can try new things and that those things will turn out okay. When you fail you still grow. You learn what doesn’t work. Either way you win because you’re expanding and ever-learning. So, I am not attached to expectations. I just do what I do and hope that I can bring a little light, happiness, andor aspiration (or) perhaps even inspiration into someone’s life. Life is all about interacting with others and helping. Iand so if I have one expectation or “hope” for this album, it’s that it will bring new opportunity and give my fellow humans art to enjoy.

HH: If you look to the future how do you see Walpyrgus?

 Scott Waldrop: I think Walpyrgus is kind of like Twisted Tower Dire is right now. It’s an entity. So long as I exist it will exist in some tangible fashion, provided that the atmosphere is advantageous for its storm and that its founding fathers (Peter, Carlos, Jim, Jonny, Tom, Charley, and I) don’t feel that its legacy is being defaced in any way. What I mean in less airy words, is that if my band mates are enthusiastic about keeping it going then we simply will. Like TTD, Walp has a history and a back story now. If there is demand for it then we’ll keep going. Humans are funny like that you know – from the moment we are a small child we do things and people will be like, “Yea that’s great! Keep doing that.” So, we keep doing that and it helps mould shape our ego and thus “personality”. Conversely, as a child when you do something stupid, antisocial or generally-fucked such smearing shit on your face and running naked through the streets, people will be like, “No no no! Don’t do that!” Of course, we take the advice and allow the heard to shape us a little bit more. It’s a bit ridiculous. Sometimes it’s best to listen to yourself instead of the rest of humanity whose energy is a chaotic mix. Bands are no different than that a little child taking input from the other humans. We read the reviews. Some say we suck and we should all be killed. Some say we are Golden Gods and that they would like to eat the corn kernels from our shit (no one said that). I do not see the future. I let the future unfold in the present moment. Right now the present moment for Walpyrgus is good. I would like to do another album or put out singles but I’m not going to “fight” to put it out. It will materialize organically or not at all. .

HH: Would you like to leave a message to Portugal?

Scott Waldrop: Thank you very much for the interview! So glad we have fans  in Portugal and we hope to make it down there one day. Please connect with us on social media, buy our merch, listen to our tunes and buy them all at www.walpyrgus.com Also, I am a long-distance runner for charity. I n run with a non-for-profit organization called The Herren Project and I’ll be running The Leadville Trail 100-miler this August. I’m doing this to raise money to help people who are fighting addiction/alcoholism. Please read my story and or donate if you like: www.utrarunvegan.com

If you or someone you know suffers from depression, alcoholism, addiction – we are here to help. Please feel free to connect with personally at the instagram, twitter and facebook handle @ultrarunvegan.com –  Also, there are resources for addicts and their families at http://www.theherrenproject.org/ Many of us at THP have gone through this and understand! 

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Author: ultrarunvegan

Dad, Husband, Ultra Runner, Musician, Writer, RRCA Certified Running Coach, New Balance Running Coach, The Herren Project Ambassador Runner, Guitarist in Twisted Tower Dire, Guitarist in Walpyrgus #walpyrgus #twistedtowerdire #RRCA #theherrenproject

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