Interview with Ascendia

Canadian Symphonic rockers, Ascendia have just released their stunning debut album ” The Lion and the Jester” to critical acclaim, so before they are swept away on the positive media frenzy, we managed to grab some time with drummer, Billy Lov.So if you want to know what they think of the reaction to the release, the state of the world today, and what they would do if the devil tried to turn them into a boy band, read on.

Please Introduce yourself

“My name is Billy Lov and I am the drummer of Ascendia.”

Congratulations on the release of your debut album ” The Lion and the Jester”. As you will know from our review, DGM loved the record, and I can see we are not the only ones. How pleased are you with the critical reaction, and does it feel vilifying that you changed direction musically in such a specific way? Were you worried you might not pull it off?

“Thank you Devil’s Gate Media! We’re pumped that you enjoyed it as much as you did! I think everyone in the band is quite thrilled with the response so far. We are very grateful that music listeners, and industry folk, are appreciating our album so much. There is nothing more gratifying then slaving over a piece of your art and getting nothing but incredible feedback from it. Honestly, we were terrified of what people were going to think of the album. We all truly thought that we created an incredible product, but you just never know how others are going to take it. We’re pretty lucky that our fans are super-supportive, and have given us nothing but complete confidence in the album we made.”

I was genuinely shocked at how accomplished the album sounded for a debut, from the technical ability, to the large, all-encompassing sound, this didn’t happen overnight did it? How much time and effort was put into this to portray the stories you had in your heads?

“That’s awesome to hear, it definitely didn’t happen over night (haha!). We wrote some of the songs like ‘Starlit Eyes’, ‘Remember Me’, and ‘My Last Song’, three years ago. We kind of took a break from writing, and decided to pick it back up later on. We wrote the rest of the album in about a 6 month span. As a musician, or any artist for that mater, you’re pretty much never satisfied with the end product. All the songs took on countless renovations until we found the perfect balance of heaviness and beauty… symphonics and traditional instruments, North American and European influences etc. I guess in total it took around 3 to 4 years of off-and-on writing, all together!”

More congratulations in order on the release of the video for “The Lion And The Jester”. This again, is a huge piece of work, and I read that you put a lot of time into it. The video is packed with very powerful images of religion, war, death, and even 9/11. To be honest, it is a very dark and disturbing vision of past, present, and most-likely future, with only a sliver of hope at the end. Is the sliver of hope enough, or do you feel that we are doomed to make the same mistakes again and again? Are the truth movements, the so-called ‘conspiracy theorists’ and whistle-blowers enough to help turn the tide?

“Thanks again, we appreciate it! We hope that most people would be able to relate to this topic, due to the terrible things we all hear about in the news. As much as I want to believe there is hope, I don’t think that there is a snowball’s chance in Hell that this problem will ever stop. As long as there are irrational minds out there, this problem will exist. The world has never gotten along. For thousands of years, humanity has proven that we have a hard time learning from our past mistakes. This world will always have subjectivity, and subjectivity means that people will always disagree. As much as I have faith in humanity, I can’t really imagine anything changing. Although I think that we are doing the right thing here with the song’s message, and the donations to the Red Cross, I know that we are the equivalent of a Band-Aid with little to no adhesive! I really do not want to come off as pretentious or self-righteous, that’s not at all how I feel. I know I have my flaws, I just hope one day we can overcome our differences and see each human being for what they are, another valuable life.”

Continuing on the subject of the video, and as you just mentioned, you are donating to the Canadian Red Cross. Is this your way of putting something back, to help others get involved, and why did you pick this particular charity?

“The message from ‘The Lion And The Jester’ is quite strong, but we wanted to help in every way possible, which is why we decided to donate 50% of all band-generated profits to charity for three months. Being an independent band, we really don’t make much money, but anything helps. We picked the Red Cross because of their incredible reputation, and the fact that they are first responders to natural disasters, like those caused by religious warfare. We felt that this was the least we could do.”

You are based in Canada, but the sound you have so expertly created is definitely rooted deep in Europe. Do you think your geographical base means you are at a disadvantage, when the mainstay of the genre’s fans are based so far away? I, for one, would love to see you over the water touring the album. Will it happen?

“We do feel at a definite disadvantage, due to the fact that Canada has primarily a huge hardcore and death metal scene. It’s quite seldom that a band comes out of Canada sounding like us. Most fans here are generally looking for a heavier more brutal sound. In saying that, metalheads are probably the most loyal fans around, and are generally quite accepting of new styles of metal. We don’t think it will be long before people around here start really digging our sound. Our main goal is to get overseas, because that’s literally our target market, so we will definitely hop on a tour there in the near future, when the opportunity presents itself.”

Now that the album is done and dusted, I take it you are not going to just sit and roll around in the deserved admiration. What is next for you guys?

“We’re trying to gig as much as possible, and hopefully hop on a couple tours as soon as possible. We’ve already kickstarted another five brand new songs for a follow up album, which is sounding incredible. Hopefully it won’t be too long for album number two!”

What is Ascendia’s dream right now? What do you want, and where do you want to be?

“Our dream feels like it’s getting closer every day. In the beginning of the writing process, we never really imagined people genuinely enjoying the music we wrote. Now that people are actually verbalizing their great feedback, we feel that one major dream has already been accomplished. We would love to tour the world with some great acts, and continue to create timeless music that our fans will truly enjoy.”

 

As you guys like to have a bit of a laugh, we will finish up on a lighter note…

 

Picture the scene. You are travelling between shows, and your tour bus breaks down in the middle of nowhere. It is dark outside, but the door bursts open in a flash of red light. The devil is standing in front of you. He grins, and says he has heard your music, and although it is good, it is not evil enough, so he wants to make a deal with you. He says he will offer you all your hearts desires… wealth, happiness, and superstardom. The only problem is, you have to makes changes and must become either 1) a boy band, 2) a Country and Western band, 3) a Hip/Hop band or 4) a Jazz band.

You have to make your choice. He does, however, give you a way out, as if you wish to remain on your current course you can, but each band member must give up a body part.

WHAT DO YOU DO?

“This is quite the question. After all these years of extreme scrutiny, it turns out the devil’s not such a bad guy after all. To be honest, although this may be going against metal code, the Back Street Boys are some of the most badass dudes around. They have some seriously catchy tunes, but I can’t sing, and I am about as graceful as a fridge going down a flight of stairs! I used to listen to some country bands like Zac Brown Band, and Luke Bryan. I do love the boots and the hats, but I couldn’t squeeze my ass into a tight pair of jeans all day. I love some of Eminem’s stuff, and 8 mile is such an awesome movie, but I’m definitely not gangster enough to be a rapper. Jazz musicians are some of the most talented and respected dudes on the planet. I dislike a lot of jazz, but I would die to be in a band like Snarky Puppy, they make some of the sexiest music around. But the thing is, at the end of the day, there is no music I love more than rock/metal. Also I genuinely believe in our music; I think as long as we keep at it good things will come. So I would slap the devil on the ass, and give him four assholes as payment for us to continue on the road ahead! Special thanks to Devil’s Gate Media for the interview!!”

Thank you, Billy for your honest and funny responses. We really appreciate your time. For anyone who has not heard of this band, but love the genre (or don’t, we do not care, just listen to them!), watch the thought provoking video on the link below, and if you enjoy that, get your cash out and purchase the album. You will not be disappointed, plus you will be helping a very worthy cause.

Interview by Ritchie Birnie

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