The past 12 months have been a resounding success for Massachusetts metal mob Shadows Fall. Newest release ‘the War Within’ crashed the US Billboard charts at #20 and has since gone on to sell over 200,000 copies in their homeland alone, masked machine Slipknot took them on the road for 8 weeks as part of an almighty arena tour, and the five-piece shall now be spending the entirety of the summer playing alongside the likes of Black Sabbath and Iron Maiden on the legendary Ozzfest’s main stage.
During a brief and rare break from their relentless touring schedule; four-stringer Paul Romanko took the time to answer a few questions from our own metal maniac Ryan Bird.
Hello there old chap. How are you doing?
Hey! I”m alright off tour for a change!
Where are you right now? What are you up to?
Well I just woke up a little while ago and came across these questions in my email.so no time like now to get on em!
You recently completed a whirlwind tour of the UK. How was that for you?
It was great(as it always is). I enjoy playing shows in the UK. The crowds are full of energy and its pretty easy to find a person or two to share a few pints with. In addition getting to again share a stage with Slipknot put us in front of even more wild metal fans.
How did it feel to play Donington for the second time? That’s quite an honour…
That is just beyond words! We were very fortunate to play in 2003. That year we played mainstage. We were running around like school kids taking pictures behind Iron Maiden’s drumset and shit like that!! Then a second chance. Unreal! It’s an honor to play an event with such an awesome history. Quite a few legendary bands have graced the stage at Donnington.
Of course, you’re no longer strangers to such huge challenges as the spiritual home of metal as you spent around 8 weeks on tour with Slipknot and Lamb of God playing arenas in the spring. How did it feel to be playing to so many people each night?
That is a dream come true. We never thought that we”d be doing any type of tour like that. Being able to reach so many people each night is unbelievable! It’s some of the best exposure our band has ever received. Much thanks to all the guys in Slipknot for being so damn cool and having the balls to take out two non-radio bands on a very successful arena tour.
Playing the main stage of Ozzfest is sure to pull in even bigger crowds. Are you ready and raring to go for that one?
I hope so! We’ve got to be on point every night. Following In Flames and BLS is no easy feat! Then you’ve got Mudvayne and two of the greatest of all time in Maiden and Sabbath. It’s surreal to even think about the fact that we are sharing a stage with two of the biggest icons in heavy metal history!! But we’re gonna get up there and give our all rock out, drink a couple beers and hopefully make a few new fans.
Upon release, The War Within crashed the Billboard top 20. It must have been mind boggling to see your album fighting amongst the usual platinum selling hip-hop and r”n”b shit.
Yeah that was some crazy shit!! I guess that reflects how much the metal community has had a resurgence in the past few years. Quite a few bands have been hitting Billboard charts on their debut week.KSE , LOG, and very recently A7X and As I Lay Dying had great numbers. Its nice to see peer bands up there. Hopefully it”ll continue.
What do you think sets Shadows Fall apart from the rest of the modern day pack?
I think that the fact that we embrace classic rock and are willing to incorporate “rock” riffs into the metal sets us apart a bit. We also try and balance the
aggression with melody creating sonic peaks and valleys on our albums. But more from a rock perspective rather than an emo one. Even more so are probably Jon’s solos. Not many bands are shredding out leads like that these days.
Do you think the return of Headbangers Ball has had a massive impact on the metal scene? Seeing bands like yourselves, Lamb of God, As I Lay Dying etc on the biggest music channel in the world must open you up to a much wider audience than you had previously imagined possible.
Any exposure is great..but when MTV decided to bring back the ball it was huge for the US metal scene. Getting your videos played nationwide on an almost weekly basis helped us see a huge jump in our fanbase. It was cool to go into smaller markets and have kids tell you how they “discovered” your band on Headbanger’s Ball.. Good Shit!!
In the past year or two the music media has invented the term The New Wave of American Heavy Metal. Isn’t that a bit inaccurate given that bands like yourselves have been playing this music for the better part of a decade?
Yeah it is a bit funny for us to see the word “new” next to our name. Especially when next year will be the 10 year anniversary of SF. But hey the media needs tags to sell stories so!!??!! As long as the press stays interested I can live with it I guess? I just think it could have been a little more creative of a title. oh well.
What’s your opinion on internet downloading?
I used to have mixed thoughts on that but hey why not! I”m not into giving away entire albums but a few tracks.Its an easy way to check out new bands. I”ll do it and if I”m into the band I buy the cd. We don’t make a dime off cd sales. We survive by touring. So if kids are downloading songs and getting into our music its likely they will come to a show. So ultimately it benefits us in the end. Besides aren’t we all guilty of that anyways!!
With the ever increasing popularity of the genre, more and more metal bands are signing to majors. Eighteen Visions and Lamb of God are on Sony, Mastodon on Warner Bros and rumour has it you yourselves will soon be joining the major leagues. Do you think that
this may ultimately prove to be a risky move should the popularity dip and the sales drop as a result? Such labels are often used to gold and platinum records as a minimum requirement.
Rumors ..rumors ..rumors!! Unfortunately there are risks with any label. Perhaps a bit more with the majors, but it ultimately comes down to writing a good album. Good music finds a way to surface no matter what label it is on. I guess we”ll have to see what the future holds on all accounts here.
Do you think metal will soon become the new nu-metal as such? A few years back people couldn’t get enough, and now they seem to hate it with a passion. Do you ever worry about bands like yourselves being deemed “uncool”?
Well I don’t think we really care about the “uncool” thing so much. We went through that 6-8 years ago when “metal” was dirty word in the Massachusetts scene. We didn’t care then and doubt we”ll care if it happens again. We just write honest music that
satisfies ourselves first and foremost. But I do believe there will be a time when the tides change. It seems to happen every few years or so. But there is always the few bands that end up transcending there scene and lasting through it. We’ve got our fingers crossed that we”ll be able to do this a while longer.
What are your plans for the remainder of 2005?
TOUR.Tour.tour.tour.till December and then rest a bit and start writing the next album. Then
after that we”ll probably tour some more! Just for variation!
The War Within is available in stores now through Century Media.
See www.shadowsfall.com for more information.