How and when did the idea for Roanok start taking shape?
The concept and ideas for Roanok began when I moved to Nashville in 2008. My target was the gap between commercial rock and more experimental genres. For many that only listen to hit music, there’s a whole world of progressive music out there that those listeners don’t get to experience. So the idea was to make some of these prog rock/metal elements more palatable and bridge the gap – to mix polyrhythmic grooves and odd time signatures with powerful voices and melodic hooks that the listener can really grab on to and sing along to. And to reinforce the idea that a great song should continue to evolve and take you on a journey.
You have two vocalists, one male and one female. Was that a deliberate move already from the start of the band? And how did you cross paths with Sarah Bryant, the female vocalist?
I was primarily a guitarist/writer when I started the project. After years of searching for the right vocalist, I made the decision to discover my own voice and sing the tunes. As the music progressed, I developed a habit of always writing two vocal parts. So it was an easy decision to bring Sarah Bryant on board, whose tone and range rival the best female rock vocalists out there. We had known each other for quite some time after meeting in college. After the release of the first single “Ashes”, Sarah became a permanent member of the group. As far as the rest of the guys, I’ve had the pleasure of working off and on with my closest friends who happen to be some of the best players I’ve ever met. They are all involved in their own projects as well. For now, there is no permanent Roanok lineup.
Your style is a quite unique mix of progressive metal and melodic hard rock – strong melodies combined with a heavy and driving rhythm section. Was this a sound you were going for or did it take shape with time?
The early stages of writing/arranging were very experimental. The challenge was striking a balance among all the wildly different influences. But over the course of a few years these raw ideas began evolving into something more focused and solidified.
What’s next on the agenda for the band and what is your ultimate goal?
We have an entire record to release, but we aren’t going to do so in a traditional fashion. As more people become aware of who we are through social media and other channels, we will continue releasing the album one single at a time. When we reach the end of the album cycle, we will release it all as one unit, maybe with a few bonus tracks. That’s when we’ll begin to focus on our live show.
You are from Nashville, TN, a city mostly known for its country legacy and very vivid country scene. How’s the climate for metal in “Music City”?
I’d say the climate for most any genre here is very over-saturated. Everyone is a musician trying to make it. Heavier bands that want to go out and find success with local shows alone won’t survive, while rock/metal bands that have already established themselves can come through town and do alright. That’s the beauty of social media. We’ve already made so many new friends and fans all over the world, and look forward to making many more. One thing that has benefitted me personally is surrounding myself with some of the great players and talent that this city thrives on, and I mean outside of the country world. Really helped me diversify as a writer and think outside the box.
What Toontrack products do you use and how do they help you in your creative process?
I’ve been a die-hard Superior Drummer fan since I became aware of its existence when I moved here. The realistic feel and powerful sounds right out of the box make writing new ideas flow much more smoothly. I can craft intricate and convincing drum patterns to fit my guitars in no time. Being very hands on with the production side, I can easily say that Toontrack has played an integral role in my creative process for many years.