Interview by Jason Williams
Based out of Los Angeles, Our Own Accord is a metal quintet that blends a variety of styles and sub-genres into their sound and appeal to a broad range of metalheads. They recently participated in the Orange County stop of the annual Summer Slaughter tour as one of the local openers on the second stage at the Observatory in Santa Ana, on July 18th 2014, and our man Jason Williams caught up with vocalist Alex Gray and guitarist Julian Batisda before the show to give us an insight into the band’s history, music and future plans.
For the listeners who aren’t aware of your presence, what kind of metal do you play?
Alex: Generally, it’s a like a melodic metal style. A lot of people have compared it to being a blend of American heavy metal, like NWOAHM and European melodic death metal.
Julian: I mean, personally for me, I’ve just been calling it a “hybrid metal”, more or less. We’re always combining as many sub-genres as we can, to almost just one whole sound. We’re metal lovers and that’s what we like to do.
Can you shed some light on how the band was formed and who started it all?
Alex: Well, I started the band when I was a senior in high school, right at the end of that with my buddy Chris. And it took us a while to get off the ground and become organized. By the time we actually played a show, he was out, another guitar player was in. We then acquired Julian and it just kind of went from there. But the original two members of this band are myself and my friend Chris. But as I said, once Julian joined us, we kind of started taking off and really starting to take it a lot more serious.
Julian: I found Alex from the same junior college in LA county. He hit me up to try out for the band and yeah, it went from there. I joined around the Fall of 2010 and ever since then, we’ve just been building and building up.
This Summer Slaughter is considered, by many, to be one of the better years due to the consistency and quality of the bands. I noticed that you’re on the Constellation stage tonight and that the band is on a higher time slot. Being a newer band trying to get your name out, do you feel you need something to prove when you’re on a bill with bands, like Morbid Angel and Dying Fetus?
Alex: I think we have definitely have something to prove to audiences. Because there’s such a fine line when it comes to metal genres, metal fans kind of, I would say “attract” themselves to. death metal fans primarily listen to death metal and if it has anything that resembles a breakdown, it’s automatically, “No, that’s Deathcore, it’s Metalcore! I’m not listening to it!” So I definitely think on a bill like this, with legends like Morbid Angel and Goatwhore, we definitely have something to prove to fans. But also to ourselves, we know who we are. But to fans, definitely, we try and go out there and give it all we got and show them who we are. To prove to ourselves that we belong on there with the bigger names.
Julian: I mean, it’s definitely a huge honor to be here, absolutely. As Alex said, I think with this sort of crowd and the certain appeal they enjoy, I know we have something to prove. But to ourselves, we enjoy what we do and we go up there and do our thing. We just hope there’s open minds out there that will appreciate it.
Is there any word on new material that will be coming out? Or any direction towards a record label deal?
Alex: We just finished a self produced record. Well, not self produced, but a self funded record. Ryan Williams, he produced, mixed and mastered the record. If you’re not aware of who he is, he used to play bass for The Black Dahlia Murder. He was known as “Bart” in that band. We just finished that and our artwork was just finished and made by Tony Koehl. We plan to be dropping it this summer. I like to call it a culmination of the last four years of this band. Because that’s exactly what it is. Every style and influence we’ve had, there’s a song that represents that on the album.
Julian: Definitely. With Ryan Williams, he helped us refine the sound and, (asks Alex) can I give away the new album? Our debut album will be known as Judgment, so we’re really looking forward to it. As he said, it’s a whole culmination of the past four years for all of us. I’m definitely looking forward to the release and telling people, “This is who we are, our sound and what’s more to be expected in the future.”
A lot of bands lately have been doing self funding pledges, for projects, albums and tours. Is it difficult to get off the ground, to find that one place to where the band will be able to tour regularly, and get on opening slots on bigger shows? What challenges do you see in other similar bands to really make it, but the right way?
Alex: My first thought would be, the scene itself. Like I said, it’s kind of divided. But also, it’s also watered down. And not to say that they’re all bad bands, but just there’s so many bands. And on a night, even like tonight, it’s a Friday night. I’m sure if you went on Facebook and typed in “Metal Show LA”, you’re going to get 100 different events for metal shows in LA and Orange County. Including this show, all happening at the same time. So, that’s one challenge right there. Your audience, the people that are coming to see you, are divided. Everyday that you play, there’s 50 other shows going on. So you have to be able to pull them in, and make them want to go to your show as opposed to all of the other ones. And the other challenge is money. Everything costs so much, even if you’re doing it on your own. A booking agent fee, for someone who knows what they’re doing to book your tour, that’s going to cost $200. And merch, that’s going to cost anywhere, from 50 shirts, $300-500. And that’s what going to keep you funded on the road, so money is a definite obstacle for every local band. Unless you have a rich family, or you won the lottery (laughs).
Julian: Just on a personal note, I know when I look on social media, it’s been this double edged sword for us. Again, being watered down by so many bands, you’re going through feeds on different social media, outlets, but it’s going to get cluttered from other different posts. It’s going to be a big challenge to promote, whether it’s music or shows. And because everyone else’s feeds are cluttered, the attention spans are dwindling everyday, man! (laughs) So that’s definitely the biggest challenge I find.
Because of social media and technology, a lot of the bigger bands are actually saying that they try to stay away from using Facebook solely because it’s monotonous. Obviously, the larger bands have the ability to self-promote much further. For bands starting and trying to bring their name up, what ways are you seeing and trying to do, away from social media and technology, to really get your name out?
Alex: One thing we did, just recently, we dropped our single entitled “Sinister Split” from the record. It’s up on our Facebook, but we also have a free single version of it at our merch table. And we’re handing it out to anyone who walks by and is interested. When we played with Rings of Saturn last week, we handed that out to everyone that came by. The venue had about 150-200 kids. After that show, I saw our play count on the single and our Likes jump. So by handing out the material at a show for free, I’ve seen our Likes increase, our comments on our posts increase. So, it comes down to, at least to me, the old school way of “Foot Promotion.” Hitting the street, hitting the pavement and pushing.
Julian: As I’ve said, it’s a double edged sword. And on the other hand, when you finally have that quality product, you finally have what you want to put out there. You just go out there and tell everyone to check it out. As he said, the old school “Foot Promotion.” Word of mouth, that’s when I’ve noticed a difference. And seeing the huge jump from the single, I was surprised. Just reinforcing the confidence in the material. And for anyone in a starting band, just really sit down and get that quality product finished and when you finally drop it, spread it word of mouth style, that’s what it takes nowadays.
Is the band going to continue to tour as many local or bigger shows as you can before the album release? Or are you waiting for the album to release to get a kickstart on putting your name out there?
Alex: We were planning on actually touring this summer, but it fell through. And in September, we’re actually touring with this band called The Convalescence, from Ohio I believe. The plan was to have the album out before the summer tour, but since that fell through we started to lag. We lagged on the release a little bit, taking too much time on it, and now that it’s ready to be put out the proper way, we’re going to put it out and then support the album with touring, non-stop shows everywhere we can.
Julian: Ditto (laughs). The album will definitely be released this summer for sure, just in time for our first tour coming up. We have the artwork all done, getting ready to press it. Hopefully it’s a monstrous little drop we can do. By word of mouth, we’re getting ready to get it on out there, man.
For the all of the bands out there continuing to establish something strong for themselves, what can you let the audience know to check you out and what makes you stand out, compared to the rest of the bands who are in your same position?
Alex: That’s always a tough question, for me. Because I don’t know if Julian mentioned it, we always try to stay real humblefor what we’re doing. But, to answer that question, it’s going to come off sounding a little egotistical, but just be original, you know? That’s what makes the crowd go wild, for us. There’s not another band out there that sounds like us. Because we play what we want to play. We don’t play what fucking trends are or what other people say that we should play. We play what’s in our heart and what we feel. So, when we get on stage to perform, that all shows. That passion for what we’ve written, comes out and shows. And even on the recording, you can hear it. You can hear the intensity, the feels, for what we’re playing. So I guess what makes it stand out is the passion we have for it.
Julian: A lot of it too, is just experimenting, not being afraid. I think that’s what I see in a lot of newer bands. They may be afraid to try new things, to push the boundaries of it. I know myself, that I love learning new stuff, and trying to apply it in the best way that I can, with new riffs and more. Even with the other guys, we’re always learning new techniques and learning to apply it effectively into the sound. Again, push the boundaries with it. So that’s definitely something I would say to anyone out there. Don’t be afraid to experiment, learn new things, don’t get caught up in all of the bubbles. Be open. That’s how the music will grow. Hopefully that’ll even bring the scene to another unity.
Any last words for the audience and for anyone checking out future shows?
Alex: We have a lot of different sounds and I feel we appeal to a lot of different people. So if you’re into metal, melody, technicality, speed, come to an Our Own Accord show. You not only will get all that, but you’ll get a great fucking live show.
Julian: Absolutely. We’re striving to do 110%. And you’re definitely going to get something new always. We’re never want to write the same song twice. Shred ’till death and shred some more!