Interview With Sirion Bassist Joey Linahon

By Andrew Bansal

In the past one year, Sirion have proved themselves to be one of the fastest rising bands in the Los Angeles metal community, and last Friday, they capped off their recent months of hard work and celebrated their debut EP release with a headline show at the Whisky-A-Go-Go in West Hollywood, where they played the EP, newer material and covers in front of a large audience which entirely consisted of their own fans. A few hours before they tore up the stage with intense music in the foreground and a hilarious light saber sideshow, bassist Joey Linahon spoke to Metal Assault about all things Sirion. Enjoy the chat below.

Joey, first of all, you’re headlining the Whisky tonight. How are you feeling?

Very fucking excited! We’ve hit the Whisky with legendary acts like 3 Inches Of Blood, Holy Grail and a bunch of people that we grew up listening to, so to be able to kill it here like we’re going to tonight, specially because of the huge response we’ve got from our local friends, fans and family, it’s great. A lot of people are coming out to support us tonight, so it should hopefully blow a hole in this place that they will not soon forget (laughs).

You’ve been hitting the scene hard, not only on the Sunset Strip but everywhere else in LA as well. A lot of those shows, specially here in this area, have been pay-to-play. A lot of people criticize the pay-to-play system but you’ve shown that you can make it work.

It’s definitely a bit of a bitch because it forces you to draw people, but at the same time it’s understandable because when you’ve got bands coming in from Finland, Sweden and all over the world and they’ve coming out to Los Angeles, the venues have to pay them and at the same time, the venues have to make money because they’re sitting on Sunset Blvd and the rent’s got to be huge for them. So for them to take anyone off the street and say, “Hey, you’re totally welcome to play this show” would be kind of iffy. So it sucks because it forces us to draw, but it definitely helps because it puts us in front of their crowds and if they like us, they become our crowd!

So do you think your fan-following has increased through playing these shows?

Definitely. It has forced us to advertise, to push, and to put ourselves in situations that we otherwise probably wouldn’t be. When we’re playing a show where we have to get rid of tickets, have to draw a crowd and show these bands the love that Los Angeles really has for them, it makes us get out there, push our sound and push the feeling. Getting to play with bands like Turisas, Katatonia and Arkona, not only is it a huge honor and a privilege to meet these people that we’ve grown up listening to, it also puts us in front of their crowd and hopefully they like us and all of a sudden our following is growing, and our status is getting bigger and bigger. We’re hoping to continue that throughout 2014.

I think the main thing about these shows for you has been the fact that you’ve picked the right bands to open for. You’re not just opening for anybody based on whatever show is available. You’re picking bands like Katatonia, Amaranthe, Arkona and all that, which helps.

Yeah definitely, and it’s good to hear you say that those are good bands because you have a fucking great ear for metal and I know you wouldn’t be sitting here and saying a band is great if they sucked. For someone like you who knows the scene so well to say that those are good acts for us to play with, that’s a good thing to hear. That’s what we want. When it comes down to it, we don’t have a set style. We’re not a melodic death metal band, we’re not a folk band, we’re not a symphonic power metal band. We’re just fucking Sirion. So we have to get in front of all those different crowds because we have elements that everyone will like. We have to show those to the right people and see if can get a little something going and hopefully take this sound across the States and eventually around the world.

That’s what I was going to ask you, where does this Sirion sound come from? Is it a combination of different influences from the band members or is it something that was set from the beginning?

It is definitely a work in progress. Our lead guitarist Dan Serper was, from day one, the writer as far as music is concerned. He draws hugely from Scar Symmetry, Children of Bodom, Wintersun and a lot of the big, thrashy, almost orchestral acts, shit that sounds almost like it could be a movie score and then all of a sudden has crazy shred over it. So he’s been a huge part of the music from the beginning, and with the addition of our new guitarist Alon Mei-Tal who’s come out of the Berklee Institute in Boston a year or so ago, he’s added a huge technical swinging movement into it. All of a sudden, fans of Meshuggah and people who we’ve never played to before are digging our stuff because we’re getting more technical. Our lead vocalist Biko Wright has always had everything to do with the vocals, of course, and I’ve had something to do with the clean vocals. When it comes down to the wordage, our vocabulary and our message as far as how we’re putting vocals and what we’re putting in the vocals, that’s always been a group effort.

That’s cool, and I agree that the technical aspect has crept into your music. That’s why you were able to do well even with bands like Intronaut and Scale The Summit at the Roxy last year.

Yeah exactly. When we were playing those kinds of shows, people would appreciate the melody but when we got into songs like ‘Beyond The Depths’, it would get really heavy and technical, and impressive to those crowds, so they would really enjoy that. Dan has always had that, but when Alon came in and brought that into the fray, it expanded our sound and made us even more varied so we can cover an even wider base. We don’t want to be categorized. I love when people say, “I don’t know what to call you guys!” That’s what we want. I don’t want to be labeled by a genre or a type. I just want to be in a fucking rock solid metal band.

Right, I was listening to the EP, and I would definitely say it’s hard to describe the style to somebody who hasn’t heard the band at all. So, this show is an EP release concert for you guys. Tell me more about this EP. It’s your first ever release, I believe?

Yes, this will be our first. We’ve done a demo before but this is the first as far as something fully produced and recorded, and something that we’re really going to push and send to labels. Everyone in attendance gets a free copy, because we just want everyone in Los Angeles to hear this. We want to get it out there on the West Coast. I’m blessed enough to have a father who’s a musician. He has a fully professional studio called LMP Studios in Claremont, where we did this EP out of. He’s having the London Philharmonic out and finishing master tracks for them this week. So I just asked him, ‘Hey Dad, I want to record some metal here!’ And he was cool with it. So we ended up using a Microtech Gefell Microphone, which is like a $12,000 custom-made thing that they gave him for six months. We were doing drums in a room that was designed by some Swedish company. There’s so much money and production behind just where we were recording, that to have the chance to go in there, sit around for a week and rage the fuck out, it was really great. We have a great guy named Chris Lucas doing the sound for us, and he got an amazing sound out of it. He had a really hard job because we really have a lot going on with five instruments and three vocal layers.

Sirion @ the Whisky - photo by Karina Diane

 How long have you worked on the actual songwriting? I know you’ve been playing these songs in shows for a while now.

For a long time. We’ve been together since 2010, so it’s been almost four years for the band. We bailed on the first five songs we had written. We just threw them out. ‘Symmetrical’, which is the song we’ll be opening with tonight is the first song on the EP and is one of our oldest. Dan wrote that back in 2011. Then it comes up to ‘Beyond The Depths’ which we finished about eight months ago. So some of the songs come together in a month, while some take six months. It really depends on who’s writing them and how they are feeling on them, whether they get chopped up and put back together in a different way and what not. But yeah, we’ve been working on the songs basically for the last two-three years and it’s really exciting to finally have a fully produced piece of material that we’re going to be able to give out all around. From this we’re going straight into finishing up three or four more songs that we’re going to put on the follow-up record, out of which we’re playing a couple tonight. We’ll go into the studio to work on that one, hopefully with some backup and support from somebody who’s willing to throw out some cash so that we can take some real time and do it as it deserves to be done.

Finally, what else do you have coming up in the near future in terms of shows or anything else?

We’re headlining a lot, and it’s really cool that we’re being asked to headline. This show at the Whisky got set up and we got huge support from everyone in the LA community. We got Sorizon and Legal Tender who are two really great upcoming acts as well as Mutalisk, Ancestral Awakening and Discarnate Motions backing us tonight. In the near future, we’re playing Loaded Hollywood with Legal Tender and Tormenter, and we’re looking at something in April headlining. With the summer coming up, there are going to be more touring acts coming through that we do want to open for. Our fans love coming out to see great shows and if we’re thrown on there too, all power to it. But regardless, we’re all going to see the big acts when they come through. Amon Amarth is on the 15th of this month and we can’t fucking wait for it. There’s no way we can get in on that, but when some of the acts come and hit the smaller joints like the Roxy and the Whisky, we’ll definitely try to jump on it. We’re also setting up a West Coast tour so that we can get up to North California, may be Oregon and Washington, and head up and down for ten days with our friends in Empyrean Throne and just keep raging, keep pushing the sound and keep trying to show California that they do have Sirion, whatever the hell we are, melodic fucking orchestral madness death thrash space music.

Related – Review + Photos: Sirion Play EP Release Show At The Whisky 

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