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Cellador

Uit het land van Bush waar vooral NU-metal het metal landschap verpest komt de heavy metal band Cellador, die deze maand met de krachtige 'Enter Deception' haar intrede maakt. De vrij Europees klinkende heavy metal van deze jonge band mag dan niets nieuws onder de zon zijn, maar vooral in Amerika mag men als uniek worden genoemd, daar waar niet veel bands deze stijl spelen. Sinds de oprichting is alles vrij snel gegaan voor Cellador. De band heeft al een flink aantal optredens achter de rug en scoorde vrij snel een deal met niemand minder dan Metal Blade. Gitarist en oprichter Chris Petersen geeft tekst en uitleg.

Door: Nima | Archiveer onder heavy / power metal

First of all: congratulations with the release of your debut album 'Enter Deception'. Things have gone pretty fast for Cellador since the band's foundation in 2004. Please introduce the band to our readers and tell us about the developments since the start!
Alright!!! Cellador is a bombastic melodic catchy speed power metal band from Omaha, Nebraska, in the Midwestern USA. We play a high-energy anthemic variety of power and speed metal with dashes of thrash and other extreme styles of metal to give it a unique element of flare and an extra level of intensity and we are all heavily influenced by the European metal scene. The band was originally an idea of mine in mid 2003 to form an intense European influenced melodic metal band that would totally stick out amongst our American Metal scene filled with hardcore, metal core, and NU-metal bands.

We went through a bunch of line-up changes at first but the first solid line-up began to emerge in May 2004 when I met our current drummer David Dahir, who was only 15 years old at the time. A few weeks later a friend of mine named Valentin Rakhmanov joined on bass as well as our now ex-guitarist Sam Chatham. Together as a four piece we rehearsed and composed the tracks for our first demo 'Leaving All Behind', despite not having a singer yet. A few months down the road Michael Gremio found our band and auditioned and joined in January 2005 as our singer. With the addition of Mike our line-up was completed and thus we finished the recordings for our demo and immediately began promoting it online, which quickly gained a solid reputation on a worldwide scale thanks to many metal webzines and online music sites like Myspace. After a couple months of promoting online and playing live shows we were contacted by Metal Blade Records and signed with them in the summer of 2005 after a few weeks of negotiation.

By the end of the summer Sam Chatham, our old guitarist, parted ways with the band on musical differences and so with the help of Metal Blade we placed ads online for a new guitarist, which led us to Bill Hudson. We spent the fall rehearsing for our debut album, and entered studio during the winter of 2005. Our debut album was recorded, mixed, and finally finished by March 2006!

We are considered by many to be power metal but at the same time we are very different from many of the traditional power metal bands in Europe. Being American and so far and isolated from other melodic metal scenes I think has given this band a unique perspective on this type of music and perhaps how we play it and how it is engineered from composition to the end in studio production. We try to steer away from many of the past clichés that tend to be associated with power metal such as fantasy themes, cheesy ballads, elitist attitudes, etc. and substitute for these things many elements not normally associated with the style such as aggressive/extreme drumming, thrashy riffing and energetic live show.

The band's guitar player Bill Hudson has moved from Brazil to Nebraska to join the band. Is there a shortage on guitarists in Nebraska or was there another reason for this decision?
Yes Bill Hudson moved here from Sao Paulo, Brazil to Omaha Nebraska to join the band, despite his total and absolute disliking for the city hahaha. What happened was that we needed a replacement for Sam and this happened to be right around the time when Metal Blade was announcing our signing via press releases to the media. So in our press release we had them add that we needed a second guitarist. The Midwest USA is not known for this style of music at all, it's nearly devoid of it and so we thought we'd have better chances of finding the right guy if we advertised for it on a larger scale than just our immediate area. We received many responses and people sending us audition clips, many of which were quite impressive. Bill had emailed me after seeing the press release, and basically I told him to learn our four demo songs and to record them and send back to us. Amazingly he learned and recorded all four songs within a span of about three days, and in addition to these he sent us a bunch of home recordings that displayed his lead style, which we were impressed with too. I told him he would need to move to the USA if we were to really consider him, and about two weeks later he flew down here to meet us and audition in person and paid all expenses out of his own pocket. We were very amazed by all this as you might imagine and combined with his ability there was really no way we could turn him down and so he joined the band and has stayed here ever since.

There where it takes most bands much time and effort to sign a record deal, for Cellador a deal with an established label like Metal Blade was realised quite fast. Weren't you surprised being picked up by a major metal label so quickly?
Yes, we were very surprised when we made contact with Metal Blade. We had just released our first demo and had only been playing live as a full band for a couple of months. I think a lot of our success coming so fast was promoting in the right places and gaining quick interest with people not only here locally but also on a worldwide scale over the internet, not to mention being extremely dedicated as a band, pushing forth with it full force from the beginning.

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One day we opened for The Black Dahlia Murder here and after the show they greeted us saying they like our band and that Metal Blade was looking for a young melodic metal band like ours to sign. I was like "Are you serious? Power metal?" but still I gave them a copy of our demo to drop off at the label and only two weeks after that Metal Blade called and told us they wanted to sign us. Before our signing we never thought nor really aimed at gaining the interest of an American label. We figured our best bet would be to try for smaller European labels as we figured USA would not be interested in this type of music. We had actually been contacted by two smaller European labels before all this and we were all so excited about them, but then suddenly and rather unexpected when we were contacted by the much larger Metal Blade we had our jaws on the floor, as it suddenly bumped the band up to a spot even we on our most optimistic days couldn't have predicted. Our signing plans totally changed and greatly raised our perspectives and goals for the band, because with a label at Metal Blade we realized we now that we have a chance at actually becoming known here in the USA and on a much larger scale in Europe and Japan. Since our signing a year ago the label has been incredibly generous and supportive, offering us many things that many other power metal styled bands rarely get, especially in the American market.

Even though Cellador is literally a young band, the musical skills are absolutely stunning. Based on what we hear on 'Enter Deception' it becomes obvious that you guys have much experience. What can you tell us about the musical history of the members?
It really varies a lot. Some of us have more than ten years experience of playing music, such as Bill and Dave. Dave is only 17 now but has actually been drumming since he was about 5 years old, having grown up in a musical family. Bill has been playing guitar since he was 11 or 12 and is 23 now, and he has also been trained in music-college both in the USA and in Brazil, even working with guys such as Kiko (guitarist Angra – Nima). Then we have the other end with Mike, our singer, who has only been seriously singing and doing vocal training for only three or four years now and is still getting better and better. Valentin is actually a guitar player who made the switch to bass to join Cellador. Before that, he had been playing guitar for about five years. I myself have been playing guitar for close to eight years and have always been self-taught. Everything I learned about guitar from the beginning has been me playing to my favourite bands and making use of resources such as the Internet for music theory and techniques. From the start I have always been pretty dedicated to music and guitar playing, it was really my only hobby all throughout high school. Practice always has been a daily thing; in my first three years of playing I purposefully maintained a streak of playing guitar every single day. In addition to guitar I've also been playing drums for about six years and bass guitar for about five years as well. Before Cellador, I played in a couple short-lived projects as a drummer and was even considering playing drums for Cellador before we found Dave. The last two years I've been solely focused on guitar since it's what I do in Cellador, but here and there I'll switch up instruments for fun to keep up with them.

“Speed” is like a key word for Cellador. It doesn't happen that often that a power metal band uses so much blast beats in a song. But you also leave much space for melody. It occurs to me that you have your roots in traditional heavy metal, thrash, but also death metal. What can you tell us about the musical influences of the band?
When I first started playing guitar I was mainly into bands like Megadeth, Metallica, Pantera, Testament and Slayer and the first couple of years playing I pretty much tried to learn that style of rhythm guitar playing, as well as some lead stuff by guys like Yngwie, Satch, etcetera. For the longest time I wanted to form a thrash band but never found anyone interested here in town that wanted to play it, most were into NU-metal and alternative at the time. Later on in high school I became more interested in the European melodic death metal scene with bands like In Flames, Dark Tranquillity, Soilwork, At the Gates as well as power metal band like Edguy, Helloween, Stratovarius, Gamma Ray and Rhapsody.

When I came up with the idea to form a band like Cellador, my top goal was to have the band being melodic and catchy but I wanted to add elements from the other genres of metal that I enjoyed to give the music a little uniqueness and an extra level of intensity, but still undeniably being power metal. It's nothing new obviously for bands to try to mesh separate styles, but most of the ones here in the USA that claimed to mix styles still were predominately hardcore sounding. I didn't want to go that route, instead of being a hardcore band that mixes European sounds I wanted to be a power metal band that merged thrash and speed, and not to be confused with the metal core or hardcore scene at all. It worked out really good especially with our drummer Dave Dahir, because he loves death metal and was very appreciative that the band wanted to include that drumming style into Cellador haha. The band as a whole then is largely influenced by bands like Helloween, Edguy, Insania, Stratovarius and also by bands like Megadeth, Carcass, Slayer, Metallica, Testament, etc.

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While listening to the album, the name DragonForce comes up in me almost constantly. The formula of the songs, vocal lines and of course the high speed remind me much of the English band. Also the multi-cultural combination of the members shows some similarity with DragonForce. Is this coincident or is there a musical relation with that band?
Dragonforce is a talented band and I would never deny that they've been an influence on me. I've followed them since they were called Dragonheart and were an mp3.com unsigned band. I even had their demo back when I was in high school. The thing is that I started Cellador back in March/April 2003, at least that's when the first original line-up began and this was before DF had their first album out yet. Basically I'm saying their demo influenced me when I was in high school but by that point I was already heavily influenced by Helloween, Edguy, Stratovarius, Megadeth, Slayer and other bands that I learned to play guitar to. I hate to have to defend myself again on this topic, it probably isn't much help anyway but we get compared to them and asked about it so much because we play fast shredding power metal.

Does it concern you that some might entitle Cellador as a DragonForce-clone?
It is concerning but it's something that I try not to get too bothered about at this point. In addition to Dragonforce we've been called Helloween clones, Queensryche clones (retardly enough), Judas Priest clones, Iron Maiden on speed, Nintendo Music, NEO-Cock Rock and even hair metal! Our true fans see the differences and even some of our haters know the differences once they really listen to our record. Our production is nothing alike, our vocalists sound nothing alike, we don't use keyboards, we use different types of rhythm sections and picking, different lyrical concepts and we don't play ballads, just plain different types of songs. We play open chord happy chorus power metal with shredding solos and at high speeds. Is Dragonforce the only other band that has these things? X Japan played fast 180-200 BPM symphonic power metal and no one hardly ever compares us to them. Dragonforce is a spotlight band right now and fresh on a lot of peoples minds, two and a half years ago when we first started and they only were on their first album we rarely got compared to them, and we've been the same power metal band since then.

According to the biography, your lyrics aren't about fantasy but the daily things in life. Unfortunately I don't have access to the lyrics. I understand that the developments in the world can be a powerful source of inspiration and there is so much to write about. But what is the main source for the lyrics? Does the worldwide political situation have any influence on both the lyrics and the music?
We agreed that on this record we did not want any fantasy or sci-fi oriented themes, because we knew it was a very cliché and stereotype thing for bands of this style to do and is really ridiculed by many in the metal community as you probably know. We don't have a problem with those concepts; we just wanted to write stuff that people could relate to more. Generally our lyrics on 'Enter Deception' touch more on personal understanding of the self and personal independence. In general they are about being yourself, opening your eyes and realizing your potential, following your own trail, living life without manipulation, etcetera. I think some of the inspiration for lyrics like this came from just the fact that we are playing power metal in the USA, being completely isolated and on our own in a scene that gives temptation to follow a trend or play what's popular. We've always stuck to our guns in playing melodic power metal instead of trying to blend with the crowd and I think our lyrics sort of relate to that.

Erik Rutan, who is of course know for his guitar playing in Hate Eternal and Morbid Angel, has done the production for 'Enter Deception' and I must say that he has done a tremendous job. But why did you choose for a producer that has his roots in death metal?
When we signed with Metal Blade we weren't really sure what studio to choose, so we asked Metal Blade to give us some suggestions. We agreed that we wanted a different type of production for this style of music, something that was clean and intense but also very natural and honest. So Metal Blade sent us a bunch of cd's by different bands at different studios that they were pleased with. Out of the cd's the one we liked the most was done at MANA Recording Studios with Erik Rutan as a producer. When we found out Rutan did it, we began to be intrigued by the idea of using a death metal guy to do a power metal band, because we wanted this record to be intense and aggressive sounding like the stuff he's worked a lot with. So the band decided that Rutan was the man for us and we headed down there to do the record and it turned out pretty much as we were trying for. Working with Rutan was a very strengthening and invigorating experience for us in the band, especially for our first record. He was very dedicated and also very demanding, he pushed us to our best performances and really disciplined the band, which we were very grateful for once we heard the finished product.

You have shared the stage with bands with variable styles; from extreme bands like Behemoth and Kreator to a melodic power metal band like Sonata Arctica. Do you think that Cellador's music applies to a broad audience?
We have played with so many styles, from hardcore and metal core to death, thrash, punk, emo, alternative and a little bit of power and prog. It's really nothing short of expected because there's really not a devoted scene yet in the USA for melodic power metal, so you have to be open to other scenes with followings. A lot of the emo/metal core kids have actually quite diverse tastes in music and have been very receptive to us since the beginning, which is good for us. The death and melodic metal fans are not as segregated here as they are in Europe and Japan I think, or so I've heard. You'll find a lot of brutal death and gore fans who like power metal as well, just a lot of underground stuff in general. A lot of them I think just hate the popular “Americanised” metal scene and so when they find a band that's heavily European influenced, like us, they appreciate it because its different than that! That's my theory anyways haha.

What can we expect from the band in the near future? Are there any plans for a tour outside the US?
Currently the plan is continue expanding the name of Cellador in the metal community worldwide. I know we will first take a priority on promoting in the USA, since we're already here as a US-band. We have tour-dates lined up for the USA that should continue on for a while. Obviously with our style being established in Europe and Japan it gives an American band like Cellador an advantage at going international, but I haven't heard exact specifics yet on when it will happen. Hopefully later in 2006 or early 2007. We're pushing to make it happen and it's an absolute dream for all of us to travel the world and set foot around the places where our influences call home and have prospered. We would like to stay fresh on people's minds, we'd like to make another record in 2007 but I guess we'll see how well 'Enter Deception' does and how much promotion it gets.

Ok Chris, thank you for your time and good luck!
Thanks again Lords of Metal for the interview and media support, from the beginning when we were unsigned to now! We won't forget your help!

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