I think most of our readers won’t be familiar with Aerith (yet). For those that have never heard of you before, can you tell us a little bit about the project?
Sure! We are a melodic death metal recording project based in Chico, California. The project consist of members Ken Bedene on drums, guitar and keyboard programming, his father Frank Bedene on bass and myself on vocals and part of the writing process as well with Ken. All three of us have known each other for almost twenty years and have all been best friends in that time. We draw alot of our influence for Aerith from the Swedish Gothenburg scene. Bands like In Flames (old and new), At The Gates, Dark Tranquillity and other melodic death metal bands were big influences on us growing up and we love that style of metal. We really wanted to create something in that style and go back to our roots; we were extremely influenced by the style and have fun with it in our own way.
The name given to this project is none other than Aerith from (i.a.) the Final Fantasy VII game. She is one of the most favourite female characters in that series ever. It can’t be anything different than that you must be enormous fans of the game. Which characteristics in Aerith made you decide it would be a great fit for the project?
You are correct, we are HUGE fans of that game and all the Final Fantasy games. It seemed fiting when the idea came up. I was playing Final Fantasy 15 at home, and while I was free roaming on the map "Aeriths Theme" came on, while I was driving In the regalia which is the vehicle you travel the map in Final Fanrasy 15. I started thinking of her character. She was full of life and love, innocent, pure of heart, and found the beauty in everything even when things were at their worst. Then I remembered when she was killed by Sephiroth and how much of an impact that had not just on the story and the characters in the story, but to me as the player. Then it hit me "THATS IT! THATS THE NAME!" I texted Ken And told him my idea, he said "Dude that would be awesome!" and we went with it. It also doesn't only represent that character and her characteristics, but it also represents us the members as well. The name also represented something we being that we are nerds and love playing video games, Playing D&D and playing RPG's and love movies, it really felt like that name was perfect in all ways. Also, Aerith's characteristics represented the lyrical themes I had been writing for the EP very well I felt and that also made the name feel even more appropriate.
Could you tell us about each of the members of the band what they bring to the group both musically and personally to make Aerith what it is?
Well, Ken was the mastermind when it came to the music mostly. I bounced off ideas with him for riffs and on synth and keyboard placement, but it was all Ken musically when it came to writing songs. Frank came in half way in the writing process, it just made totally sense since we were recording at their house, Frank was there and he is an amazing bass player with a great style and tone that was perfect for the project and family so it just felt perfect. When it came to vocal mapping to the tracks and lyrics that was my department. We all brought something to the table. The fact of us all being close friends, Frank being Ken’s dad and us all knowing each other so long it helped the formation of the EP come more organically and made it really fun.
You use a lot of different influences on the album; where does the interest in these different styles come from?
As the songs were being constructed we knew each song was going to make the EP. There was only one track that didn't make it because of time and it needed more work, but we will finish and release it in the future. We knew going into the project what style of metal we wanted to create, the melodic death metal scene from Gothenburg is very influential and was impactful on us and we wanted to incorporate that and the nostalgia of that why bringing a modern tone to it as well.
Ken is also in Aborted. To what extent did his drumming in Aborted made his time for Aerith more restricted? If so, does this also mean that a project as Aerith, therefore, takes a little more time than average for material to be released?
In the beginning we had a lot of time in writing because Ken had time off from Aborted, once things started picking up for him though, it was just a matter of when he was ready to the project. The process took two years, but it was totally fine because Aerith was something fun for all of us to do on the side, there was no pressure or deadline to meet and that also helped the EP come out the way it did. I did not want Ken too feel any sort of deadline or come between his obligations with Aborted. This is something we wanted to take our time with and have fun with every moment and let it take as long as it needed to.
A lot of guest musicians were added to the EP. How did you get in touch with them? Were they approached by or did they contact you? To what extend did they have any influence on the song to which they contributed?
Well some were friends that we knew and others we reached out to in hopes that they would respond back. We just gave them an explanation of the project and the style and they all responded back, for which we are very thankful. They definitely bought a whole new feel and atmosphere to the EP and the tracks they were on. The EP wouldn't have sounded the way it does if not for them. After the EP was done me and Ken talked about it and we definitely want this to be a reoccurring theme for the project in future material and have guests. We made a lot of friends through this process of the EP and inviting all these awesome musicians to be a part of it and to make their acquaintance to become friends is truly an honour.
Lyrically the album seems to be about a range of subjects. How is it tied to your personal lives? It is obvious that you have drawn inspiration from the FF7 game for the project, but did you also use FF7 for the lyrics? Are you, being the vocalist, the one who comes up with the subjects and lyrics? Can the other members contribute as well?
That's a good question, I may need to go into some detail to really explain. So, when we came up with the name for the project I had already began the writing process but after the idea for the name came to mind I definitely kept the aspects and concepts of the game in the back of my head while riding the lyrics, but there's nothing really in direct connection to the Final Fantasy 7 game in particular. But there is a story being told with four tracks of the EP. It started when I was listening to the instrumental ‘The Wanderer’, and remembered what Ken told me his Influence was when he wrote that instrumental. He was thinking of Final Fantasy 7 in the music playing in the background when you were wondering and free roaming around the map as Cloud. And that got me thinking of a wanderer a man, possibly a soldier or some type of warrior wandering around a dying, dystopian yet beautiful world and that stuck with me. For ‘Beyond Terminus’ I had this visual idea of ‘The Wanderer’ again when I was listening to the track, and he was walking the wastelands and all of a sudden something appears in front of them: a cosmic entity with a portal behind into a very beautiful, Eden like world, offering and inviting him to that world, because he's been chosen. And that also became the influence for the cover art, so when you see the cover art you do see ‘The Wanderer’ and the visual concept of ‘Beyond Terminus’ I had thought of when I was writing that track.
‘Fractured Soul’ is another track that is also connected to ‘The Wanderer’. This is a man who has been through something very traumatic, been a part of life changing events, who has seen his world being destroyed and reduced to the way it is today. He has experienced some type of loss and he is experiencing some kind of pain and turmoil, he is a fractured soul, who wants to escape his fate but he can't hide from fate and there is some kind of darkness looming over him. ‘The Uprising’ is another track that also connects with those other three tracks. I myself wanted to go more detail maybe possibly about what kind of part he had to his soul being fractured. I had this idea of an uprising and he was possibly the leader or had some huge part of it, fighting whatever evil powers that be that are holding reign over the world and the people. Possible why he is fighting is because he lost something or someone. A ‘Cosmic Calling’ also ties into the story as well. My initial idea for that track lyrically was that I wanted to write about what happened after he stepped through the portal and went to the other side. To a new world with the cosmic entity, and possibly what his realization came to, what was his epiphany and what would that epiphany come to after he found out why he was chosen. What would change in him, what would he see differently? And so, the concept of a cosmic calling is about that.
‘Temptress’ was the only track in the EP that doesn't really connect to the story in the other tracks. It was the first track I had written before I came up with the idea for this short story. And it fits so well and I really liked what it was saying lyrically that I didn't want to change it. The fact that ‘Temptress’ didn't fit with the other tracks made me realize that even if you didn't know that those five tracks were part of a story, you could still listen to them and read the lyrics and see the message as their own individual meaning separate from each other. So ‘Temptress’ didn't seem out of place because you can literally take on each track as its own individual message that also happen to be a part of a connective story but you don’t need the story really because there all have a message that can be perceived on their own. The idea for the short story did come from the influence of my background with RPGs, and fantasy stories and so on. There are definitely ties to real life situations. The best thing about lyrics Is that the listener can interpret it any way they see it while reading and hearing the music. Lyrics are always open to interpretation even if people are creating their own connection with them outside of the concept the writer wrote them in. I think that's amazing and I love that. There's so many different ways to look at things that are written in one's mind. And I feel like I kind of accomplish that a bit with the lyrics of the EP and I am excited about that.
The album sounds, partly due to the variation in tracks, as a composition in itself. How do you experience that? Is the order of the tracks on an album important for you or, given the current generation that hardly listens to full albums and prefers to listen to single tracks, does it not matter? Why?
We just really wanted to have a strong order with the tracks musically. We wanted the transition to a next track to be strong and interesting, so that people would want to keep listening. It is definitely important to have a strong order, we put a lot of thought into what order would be the strongest. We took our time and didn't come up with a decision until after the EP was mixed and mastered and we heard it a few times In its entirety.
When the EP was released you received a lot of praise from people in the metal scene. Has it also attracted attention of record companies? What should a record company bring to the table to get you interested to possibly sign with them?
No, no offers. But that’s fine because we started this project as friends who want to make music together of a style of music and metal we love. Again, Ken main focus and obligation is with Aborted and that takes a lot of his time. So being signed to a label and being a touring act would be very difficult and we wouldn't want to do it without Ken of course. If it is possible under the right circumstances, we would totally be interested, and we are not in any way not open for the possibility of course. Just the circumstances would have to be right for all parties. What those details would entail would be hard to say. It’s very, very early at this point and hard to say. But we are open to any offers. Problem is though we are not a touring band and don’t know at this point if we will ever play shows at this point and labels want their acts to go on the road. It would be hard to make that happen right now with Ken's schedule at the moment. We have talked about it though and we would play some shows if the circumstances were right, the timing was right and we could find two others who would session in on guitar and learn the songs to play live, it is possible. Anything is possible. Just too early to tell what that area of the project is looking like and if we are just going to be a recording project. Time will tell.
Aerith is a project. Should the opportunity ever occur to make it more than a project, e.g. a full band, would you all be willing to go for it?
If they approached us and everything seemed a green light to everyone and felt good about it then absolutely! Why not!! We love music and we are passionate about it and our heart is in it, so if we all agreed for Aerith to move in that direction as a full touring band …. hell, yes!
Are there any other happenings or things going on with you that you would like to let the people know about? Do you have anything to say or add for closure? If there is anything left that you'd like to mention, please do not hesitate…
We really look forward to creating more material for you guys. There are a few things I have lined up with some other friends music wise, but it’s too early to go into detail about them. Frank has some other projects he is working on and Ken is in the middle of writing for the new Aborted album and currently at the 70,000 tons of metal cruise melting faces! So, we are keeping busy on other endeavours musically you all can look forward to. On behalf of Ken, Frank and myself we would like to thank all of those who have pre-ordered the EP and purchased it … really means the world to us. Thank you to all of those who have shared the project on social media, and reached out to us a given us such positive feedback and compliments! You guys are all amazing. Also thank you to Lords of Metal for their support and this interview. You guys can definitely expect more material from us In the future for you all to hear ... and remember ... The Wanderers Journey Beyond Terminus will continue!