If you are a fan of American metal there really hasn’t been much to be excited about these past few years, aside from some guys in masks and a couple of aging titans threatening to call it a career, nothing has managed to infect the mainstream. I have often wondered what it would take to resurrect metal in America but more importantly what was it about ‘80s metal that made it so dominate for so long?
Holy Grail could be metal’s missing link; a band able to bridge the gap of both metal’s past and future. Holy Grail understand the roots of metal and they are willing to quench its thirst with a chalice, infecting the genres they encounter while simultaneously unifying them under a single banner.
Last month I had the opportunity to speak with Holy Grail front man James Paul Luna, while the band was out supporting Wednesday 13 on the Invasion Earth Tour 2015. We discussed the band’s new release, Tenacious D and transcending metal genres.
Please enjoy some excerpts of our 8/1/15 interview.
David Halbe: Welcome to Chicago!
James Paul Luna: Thanks!
Dave: How has this current tour been so far?
James: It’s been really awesome. We weren’t really sure what to expect going out with a horror rock, gothic band like Wednesday 13 and exposing ourselves to their kind of ‘goth crowd’ but for the most part it’s kind of been working in our favor. A lot of those fans have really been into our sound. I just think the energy and the power behind our band, translates to those kinds of fans so it’s been working out for us.
Dave: Just before this tour you played Prosthetic Records’ West Coast Metal Meeting with Exmortus and Spellcaster, how was that?
James: It was awesome. We love those Exmortus guys. Actually, Alex used to play with them a lot more in his Bonded by Blood days. We’ve done a couple of shows with Exmortus here and there. It’s nice to have them in the Prosthetic family as well.
I think having Spellcaster play really created the perfect line-up, because Spellcaster has that King Diamond meets Iron Maiden thing and Exmortus has that really thrashy, technical death thing going, with the old school vocals and then there’s us. It’s impressive, each band bring their own sound but we still kind of fit into a similar style.
Dave: I agree, that show must have been kick ass. How did the band get involved with producer John Spiker?
James: He’s a buddy of ours we met through Tenacious D. John Konesky is Tenacious D’s lead guitar player, the electric guitar player, on their tours and for the studio recordings. He played bass for us on a tour so that’s how we know John Spiker. We were looking for a producer and we really wanted to try and stay in L.A., we really didn’t want to leave town and he was available and we found out he recently won a Grammy for Tenacious D’s cover of (Dio’s) “Last in Line” We liked the sounds and tones he got in his rooms so we just went for it and it’s been really awesome.
Dave: Do you have a title for the new album?
James: Yes we have a title, it’s called The Times of Pride and Peril. It’s kind of a concept record about a tyrant ruler, rising to power and taking advantage of those below him, then things take a turn but he doesn’t realize his kingdom is falling apart because he’s so high on his self-made glory, a blinding power trip and it all just crumbles beneath him without him ever realizing it.
Dave: That sounds incredible. Will the new album feature any instrumental tracks?
James: As of right now there are not any instrumental tracks but, there are some long instrumental breaks.
Dave: You used Dylan Cole for the Ride the Void artwork, any chance you will be using him again?
James: We aren’t using Dylan for the new album, we are actually using Tyler’s (Tyler Meahl – Drummer, 2008) girlfriend. She’s been kicking ass on artwork. She actually works for Hazmat Design. She does design work for a lot of merchandise companies globally.
We had a design in mind, the band presented it to her and she translated that idea into reality and we’re all pretty stoked about it.
Dave: Did you write any lyrics with Matt Hyde or Bruce Mann (Ride the Void)?
James: We didn’t for the new songs it was just me and Eil (Eli Santana – Guitarist 2008) writing all the lyrics.
Dave: Holy Grail has toured with bands of many different metal subgenres, what is it about your sound that gives you such a wide appeal musically?
James: I think the thing about our sound is we write what we like and not so much what we think people will like. We also incorporate a lot of what we listen to, between the last album and this upcoming one, the bands that we’ve toured with are playing the stuff we are into. So I guess, it’s natural for us to make a fun, heavy, aggressive music. I really like having a good hook and strong melody in my music, like old-school metal used to have. There’s a pop element in old-school metal that really doesn’t exist nowadays and we want to capture it and incorporate it into a well-written song.
Dave: You are so right and in so many ways! Is there a street date for the new album?
James: It’s all contingent on how soon we approve the mixes. We’re still getting mixes right now. We wanted to have it out by October or November but it’s hard to say right now because things have gotten delayed.
Dave: I understand.
James: It’s taking a bit longer than we thought but I’m sure it will be worth the wait, the latest I’m thinking is early next year.
Dave: I can’t wait to hear it, what’s up next after this tour?
James: We don’t have any definite plans, we’re waiting for things to flesh out and we’ll see what’s going to happen with that. Also we have to wait for a release date so we’ve got to play everything with that in mind.
Dave: I can imagine with appearances, videos, etc., you’ve got a whole schedule coming up.
James: Right. Things are in the mix, just haven’t picked anything to do yet. We’re going to get busy again and likely soon.
Dave: I know it man, you guys are tour monsters!