In-person interview with Ronny Marks and Sean Sykes of Statius
By Aniruddh "Andrew" Bansal
March 19th 2010, Ultra Violet Social Club, Los Angeles CA
Andrew: You guys are looking for a new bassist. What happened with the old one?
Ronny: At the moment we have a guy filling in for us, Caleb Bingham who's the frontman of a band called Ascension. They're another really cool LA metal band. So he's filling in for us on bass until we get our permanent member and pretty much as soon as we finish this show, we'll be looking for a new band member to take the spot of our old one. Basically what happened with him was, it was just kind of getting difficult with family and parents. We just didn't think he was feeling it anymore and just thought we needed someone else to move ahead with.
Sean: Yeah we didn't really feel like we were gelling.
Andrew: You are writing a new EP. How's that going?
Ronny: That's going really good. We have two songs that are completed and we've played them a couple of times live. We'll be playing them again tonight. So after we finish this show, we're actually going to just sit down and crank out three or four brand new songs and possibly re-record a couple of oldies from out first EP. We're going to spend a long time recording this one. Our last EP was recorded in five days. For this one we're probably going to take one or two months.
Sean: Yeah we have two already and a few more coming along. I think we'll have eight or ten songs on this one.
Andrew: What are the advantages and disadvantages of being an unsigned band?
Ronny: There are definitely cons and pros. We are all pretty broke and poor so we don't necessarily have the money to really spend thousands of dollars on recording and everything. We're actually fortunate enough that his dad is a pretty well known guitarist and he has his own studio. So we're going to be cutting all our tracks in there and Caleb is going to be engineering. So we're fortunate to have that advantage to us. We're definitely wanting to get signed so that we can get on the managing and booking, get on some big tours and stuff like that. It's tough too, playing local shows, having to pre-sell tickets and everything. The last couple of shows we did here totally back lined and there was no stage room whatsoever. So it is definitely tough.
Sean: We've never really been signed so we don't know what its like. But its cool. I think its fun to be in a band either way. As far as pre-sales go, it generally gets easier every time because the same people come through. As he said, we're fortunate with my dad's studio. Initially he was supportive but not really into it. But after he saw our last show with Korpiklaani, I guess we really surprised him. After that he kind of changed modes and he became fully supportive and helpful.
Andrew: You guys have played with Edguy, Eluveitie and Korpiklaani. What did those shows means to you and what was different about each of them?
Ronny: They were all pretty different shows in terms of the bands and the outcome. Edguy was a great show because we got to play at the Key Club. We had a huge stage. It wasn't the biggest turnout It wasn't that big of a draw and I think we lost a bit of money from ticket sales on that one. The Key Club was so ridiculous with their pre-sale.
Sean: But it sounded really good!
Ronny: Yeah it did and we sold a lot of merch so can't really complain too much. But all these others shows have been really great. One of our first big shows was Pagan Knights with Alestorm, Suidakra and Tyr. We're really good buddies with Alestorm now and talk to Danny all the time. He is repping us all over the place and building connections. I guess we really impressed the tour manager of Heathenfest. He also did the Korpiklaani show. So he is spreading the word as well. So we haven't had any bad shows yet.
Andrew: Most of the bands in the local LA scene have a 'thrashy' sound. Yours is more melodic. How easy or hard does that make it for you?
Ronny: One of the problems with the LA scene is, everyone has their own kind of clicks. A lot of people are just into one kind of music and not really down to listen to other genres, even though it's all metal in the long run. But we've been building quite a reputation here with pagan shows. The Heathenfest and everything has really gotten us good. We did a thrash show at Safari Sands a long time time ago and it wasn't too bad, it was pretty good in fact.
Sean: It's good and bad. Bad in the sense that there's not much of enthusiasm around so you kind of have to find people who like your music. But its good because people who do like it are almost instantly into it as we are the only ones of this kind. So it's cool.
Andrew: What are your thoughts on doing small headlining gigs as opposed to supporting major bands?
Ronny: Until we get to that point when we can headline and fill out a venue, which would be awesome, you got to do what you've got to do to get there. You have to pay your dues. For us at the moment its selling tickets and promoting and all that. Hopefully that will result in opening for touring acts and going first on the bill. So right now it's all about getting all over the place and spreading our music around.
Sean: Yeah we had a really successful headlining show. We didn't technically play last but it was kind of our show, at the Cobalt Cafe on February 5th. I was really surprised. People come out and you don't recognize them, which means you are getting new fans. It's kind of surreal!
Andrew: How much scope do you get for experimenting musically, being such a new band?
Ronny: I guess there's a line we fit in with. But honestly, the genre of music we are playing, you can't really keep it safe unless you went really pop or something. Our sound is definitely evolving as we go on. I think it's getting a bit better. May be some day we will not play it safe and go very different but until now we've been keeping it pretty safe.
Sean: Our newer stuff that we're working on right now, it has got a different vibe about it. It's the same thing with a different tone basically. It's almost like Cynic-influenced a little bit, which is really cool because not a lot of melodic death bands are familiar with that kind of music. That incorporation would be pretty cool and we'll see how everybody reacts to that. I mean, it's not Cynic, but it's influenced.
Andrew: If I ask you to pick one album that made you decide to be a musician, what would it be?
Ronny: I would say Megadeth's Countdown to Extinction. It really got me into playing guitar and wanting to be a frontman.
Sean: As far as really initial influence goes, I would say Follow The Reaper by Children Of Bodom. I really don't like the new stuff they've done and I've come far from that. But if I had to say what made me pick my instrument up, it would be that album.
Andrew: Can you tell the readers about your plans for the near future?
Check out the band's myspace.
Ronny: Actually we don't have any gigs planned because we'll be writing.
Sean: But we should have another show set up at Cobalt in May. It'll be a headlining show but other than that, we'll be writing, recording and working.
Ronny: If we get a solid line-up during this time, we'll probably book in a couple more shows. But as of now, nothing really planned.