In-depth Interview With Invadür Drummer Scott Smith

By Andrew Bansal

Invadür, a classic hard rock/heavy metal band based somewhere in the American state of Massachusetts, was a completely unknown entity to me until as recently as four days ago. I found them on the BandCamp site, wrote a review of their self-titled debut album, and sent it to the band. This band is very new, having formed in late 2011, so besides the actual music there’s a lot of things yet to be discovered about them. I immediately wanted an interview with them to talk about all things Invadür. And so, I spoke to drummer Scott Smith last night and quizzed him about the origins of the band and their name, the writing and analog recording process for the album, their love for the analog and the old-school, local MA bands, and lots more. Enjoy the conversation below as Scott handles the band’s first EVER interview extremely well, listen to their album via the BandCamp player, and do yourselves a huge favor by checking them out online using the links at the bottom.

Before asking anything else, I just wanted to clarify one thing first. Where are you guys exactly based out of? Your facebook and BandCamp pages say that you recorded this album in Medford MA but doesn’t really specify your location. 

We all grew up south of Boston, in an area that’s commonly known as the South Shore. We’ve all been friends here for a really long time, all of us are into heavy music, and we just got together and started practicing. So yeah, I guess South Shore, Massachusetts is where we’re all from.

Cool, man. I found your band name to be pretty old-school, the one-word name with the umlaut over the u. Who came up with the name?

Our bass player Joe Richner actually came up with the name. it was definitely a nod to Iron Maiden’s song ‘Invaders’ for sure. They’re a big influence on all of us. Growing up, we were all huge Maiden fans. The umlaut was the idea of our singer Joe Bastek’s wife. She’s a huge fan of Mötley Crüe and Motörhead, and she was like, ‘You guys have to do that with your band name!’ So that’s kind of where it all came from.

It’s a simple one-word name, which is what attracted me when I saw it on BandCamp. Do you think modern bands these days take it too far sometimes, with the whole one-sentence names? When I see that, I always wonder why they don’t just keep things simple.

I agree with you 100 per cent. We all wanted to keep it simple and one-word names definitely stand out to me a lot more than, like you said, reading a sentence such as ‘Dying Down In A Barrel Under The Earth’ or something like that. I’m not going to check that band out (laughs). I think one-word and two-word band names have that much more of an impact.

Talking of the self-titled debut album which you released digitally on BandCamp just a few days back, how long did you actually work on it?

The band started back in late 2011. We got together and demoed a couple of songs. I have an eight-track recorder that our guitarist Sean gave me a while back. I figured out how to use it, we wrote some songs but then we didn’t really do anything with it for a while. But we were like, ‘This stuff is pretty cool. We should record it.’ We got together may be three times before the recording, and two of the three times it wasn’t even the full band being there. I have a friend who has a recording studio in Medford that’s 100 per cent analog. I think it’s actually one of only three studios in the world that’s completely analog. There are no computers in the studio at all. We did all the tracking live on one weekend. We went back in to do solos and overdubs for thickening up some of the guitar parts, and then vocals. Then we did another day for mixing and mastering. So we did everything in about five or six days total.

That’s amazing, man! So, what was the reason for doing the 100 per cent analog recording? Did you do it because you happened to get that studio or was that your plan?

The older bands, a lot of our big influences like Mercyful Fate, King Diamond, Trouble and Iron Maiden, that’s what they had in that time period. I think their music has a certain vibe because of the analog sound. My buddy Alex Garcia-Rivera who owns the Mystic Valley Recording Studio just happened to be the owner of this analog studio. I thought it would be so cool to do a recording with him there and do it to tape. It’s so real. If you fucked up, you’ve got to start over. When it comes to doing overdubs, you can’t just press the space bar on Pro Tools. You’ve got to rewind the tape. So we had to be as tight as we could possibly be. That’s the real aspect to me and that’s why we wanted to do it. Alex was a phenomenal dude to work with. We had so much fun recording with him, and he was so into it. That guy just does what he loves. He has the best of the best stuff. He does all his own repair work in the studio gear. He’s a drum tech, so I actually used an old Tama Superstar kit that he had, and it just sounded incredible. We were all blown away when we heard the first playback. So I would definitely say that the existence of this band is all on Alex for his recording.

Do you think you’ll be able to give the album the proper analog treatment by putting it out on tape and vinyl?

I would absolutely love to do cassette and vinyl. I think that would be awesome. We are an unsigned band and hopefully, something comes along. The reason we put it up on BandCamp was, we pretty much did everything ourselves as far as paying for the studio time. We just wanted to get the music out there as quick as possible. We just finished the record may be two weeks ago. The songs had been written for a while, so we really wanted to get it out quick.

You mentioned BandCamp, and that’s where I discovered your band. I don’t know if I would have found you if not for that site! How important is it to have that outlet for a band like yours?

This interview wouldn’t be happening right now man, if not for BandCamp. I’m so happy that we put it up there. I remember when I was setting it up, I just put in a couple of tags to get the music promoted in different genres. I think it’s awesome that you found it and that we’re doing this right now. We’d definitely suggest it to other bands too. In this day and age, it’s really tough. The music industry has changed so much. I’ve played in bands for years, and this is the way it is now. Obviously, if someone ever approached us about doing vinyl or cassettes, that’s the only thing I’d want to do. That would be great. But it’s nice to have it up on the internet because people from around the world, including yourself, can hear the music and that’s what we want. We started this band for ourselves because we just love this genre and wanted to do something that makes us happy. If people like it, cool! It’s not our main goal to turn into this huge touring band or anything like that.

Do you listen to the analog forms yourself? Do you even have the equipment for it, the turntable and stuff like that?

Oh yeah! I have a huge vinyl collection, personally. Our singer and bass player are both huge into vinyl too. My record collection is ridiculous. I’m running out of space. It has just always been something for me that started at a young age. I love the sound of putting a record on a turntable. You get an old record and it’s got the crackles and pops, but just something about that is a feeling you don’t get from putting a CD in.

Right, exactly man. Coming to the songwriting, yours is a very classic four-piece lineup with one vocalist, guitarist, bassist and drummer each. In terms of the writing, do you also evenly distribute everything with each person writing their own part?

The way that it usually works, me and Sean have been playing music together for a long time. We actually do a two-man black metal project together. We just really clicked well. Sean was jamming on some riffs one day, and it wasn’t really anything that we were ever going to use for that black metal project, but I was like, ‘Man, we should get something going with these riffs!’ We were talking to Joe Bastek and he said he’d love to sing for the band. Me and Joe Richner were in another band together in which he played guitar, but he was always a good bass player. We’d been playing together since we were kids. So he came in as bassist for Invadür and we just kind of got it all together. I think everyone has an equal part in the writing. Joe [Bastek] does the lyrics. When we got together and he would sit there jotting down lyrics, we laughed our asses off because of how awesome it was. Everything just came really easy and we didn’t want to over-think anything. For me it’s all about the meat and potatoes rather than trying to reinvent the wheel.

Aside from writing and recording this album, have you guys played any shows yet?

We actually haven’t. It’s something we feel like if it’s worthwhile we would definitely love to do it, whether it be a festival or something like that. Boston has a very unique scene and it would be fun to play, but we’re not seeking out playing local shows. For us, we’re all a bit older. Joe [Bastek] has a daughter and a full-time job. Joe [Richner] had his first son about two weeks ago, and during the recording process Joe did his bass tracks during the first weekend when we recorded, and then he had to run off to go home because his wife was ready to go into labor. So it’s pretty crazy. Joe [Bastek] is a tattoo artist so he’s busy doing that. I’m in the Plumbers Union up in Boston, and so is Joe [Richner]. Sean is just currently a full-time guitarist in Invadür, and he likes it that way (laughs).

That’s cool, man. So most of you are pretty much like weekend warriors then.

(Laughs) Absolutely man. That’s it. We did this because it was something that was fun from the start. There’s never been any arguments or debates about things. We’re all on the same page. The chemistry is there. It’s cool, it’s a lot of fun and we’re going to do what we can. We’re definitely planning on doing another record with Alex may be next winter. He really wants to do a music video as well, so we’ll have to keep you posted on that. We got a lot of great ideas for it.

Even if you’re not doing the band full-time, you still use up your weekends creatively. A lot of other people don’t do anything useful on weekends!

Exactly man. If I didn’t have music, I don’t know what my life would be like. It’s something very positive for me and so much fun, when you get together with people that you’re really on the same page with. It just makes it even better. We’ve never approached it too seriously, and we don’t go like, ‘OK, every Friday there’s going to be band practice!’ For us, that kind of takes away from it. If we get together even once a month or something, we are so productive. Joe, Sean and I are usually able to write one to two songs in every practice session. We have some more songs written and ready to go but we just want to get these first seven songs recorded first, the ones we’ve had for a while. The intro was the only new bit, and we wrote that a day before we went into the studio (laughs).

I was checking out your list of influences on facebook, and most of them are just the classic bands like Maiden, Crüe, Motörhead and all that. Are you all just purely old-school or do you also dig some of the newer bands that play a similar style?

All of us definitely love a lot of the old stuff for sure. There are so many bands out there doing it these days. There’s this band from Boston called Magic Circle. They’re just unbelievable, man. Their singer sounds like a young Ozzy. It’s very pagan altar, traditional doom kind of stuff. I just saw them for the first time last weekend and they blew my mind. We also dig In Solitude. They’re really cool for a newer metal band. I know Sean is really big into Zuul and Portrait. We’re really into Armour too, which is a side-project of Satanic Warmaster but it’s like traditional metal. It’s awesome!

I should check out Magic Circle. I don’t know that band at all. I’m glad I asked you that!

Oh yeah dude. I think you’ll be very impressed. They’re really cool. I just wanted to mention them. They’re Boston dudes and they’ve all been in the music scene for a long time. The band is pretty unbelievable.

Last question I have for you is, recently we got the terribly sad news about Clive Burr’s death. What do you think of his contribution to Maiden and to classic metal? How much does he inspire your drumming?

Oh, I remember being a kid, and Joe [Richner]’s dad was a big Maiden fan. He had tons and tons of cassette tapes, and I remember he used the high-speed dubbing in a dual cassette player to make a copy of Killers for me and Joe. That’s really what did it for me. I heard that record and I was just blown away. He was on Number Of The Beast as well. I’m definitely a huge Nicko McBrain fan, but Clive was a great drummer, man. Those three records are really important as far as Maiden’s discography goes.