Heavy-hitting super-group Hellyeah are set to bludgeon eardrums at House of Blues Cleveland on Sunday, May 3rd.
Comprised of all-stars from other legendary metal acts like Pantera (Vinnie Paul), Nothingface (Tom Maxwell), Mudvayne (Chad Gray), and Kyle Sanders, the take-no-shit troupe is touring behind its fourth album, Blood for Blood, in advance of co-headlining dates on Mayhem Fest this summer with Slayer, King Diamond, and The Devil Wears Prada.
But a pair of equally aggressive local acts will take the HOB Scene Stage that night to heat things up a bit first.
Fronted by singer Ryan Neuhaus, Cleveland’s Brothers at Arms will bring their wrecking ball-rock to the metal masses.
Another Cleve-O quintet, Impending Lies, is also listed as support.
Formed in 2011, the Lies lads already dropped one skull-crushing album and one EP—The Storm—and are set to drop a second. So fans can expect to hear freshly-minted material alongside older tracks like “Revenge,” “Over Again,” and “Scream to Whisper.”
The release party for the new Believe EP is scheduled for Saturday, June 20 at The Agora.
Impending Lies features James “Jim” Skrtich (guitars, vocals), Dave “Davo” Billock (guitars, vocals), Matt Hayes (lead vocals), Mark Peddle (percussion), and Nick Rescina (bass).
We had an opportunity to discern the truth behind the Lies, so to speak, when we chatted with the band’s two guitarists by phone earlier this week. Apparently, we caught Jim Skrtich and Davo Billock at a good time; both were in a jovial mood, eager to talk Impending Lies’ history…and future.
Cleveland Music Examiner: Hey guys, thanks for talking with us.
James “Jim” Skrtich: I’m good, man, how are you? I’ve got me and Davo here for you.
Dave “Davo” Billock: How you doing?
Examiner: Hello, Davo! It’s cool that you’ve landed a gig with Hellyeah at House of Blues. You’re presently wrapping some new material right now, yes?
Davo: Yes, sir! We are releasing the new album, titled Believe, on June 20th.
Examiner: And you guys are local, right? All from right here in Cleveland?
Davo: Well, we’re spread all over the Cleveland area. A couple of us are from the West Side, a couple from North Royalton, and Strongsville. And one from North Olmsted. But we’ve been recording the last…the most recent EP we recorded with a gentleman named Rob Arnold. He’s a Cleveland native also; he’s in an extreme metal band called Chimaira.
Examiner: Sure, Chimaira!
Jim: He was one of the founding members.
Davo: After he parted ways, he started recording full-time. He’s got a studio called Rob Arnold World on the West Side, over by…
Jim: Over by Cleveland Lumber.
Examiner: How long has Impending Lies been together, and how’d you start the band?
Jim: A little over four years. The first show was in April 2011. Four years ago.
Davo: We’re all veterans of different music scenes, things like that. Our singer, Matt Hayes, was in a band called Rickets—which Jim was also in once upon a time. There were a couple projects between the two of them, and they hooked up with our original drummer, Adam. And that started Impending Lies. The current lineup is with Jim, Matt, and myself. Our bass player Nick and drummer Mark were both in Drenaline for many years, before leaving that project to join ours.
Jim: We were actually in the 2012 Uproar Festival at Blossom. We did that with Shinedown, Staind, Godsmack, POD, Adelitas Way, Thousand Foot Krutch. Recently—in the last thirteen months—we were able to play with RED three times, down in Columbus and up Cleveland. Maladroit, Gemini Syndrome…we’ve been pretty fortunate. Pretty fortunate with the bands we’ve played with over the last couple years.
Davo: We were able to play with POD a couple times outside Ohio as well.
Watch the official video for Impending Lies’ “Chaos:” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dgwyLFTQf0I&feature=youtu.be
Examiner: Any other upcoming gigs?
Jim: We’ll be at Revolutions for a weekend. We’re going down to Louisville. And a show in Akron at Musica, the day before Memorial Day. Out in Geneva. Then there are a couple things we’re working on. We’ll also being doing our first acoustic show out in Parma. It’ll be the first time we ever stripped it down like that, like the old VH-1 Unplugged shows, you know?
Examiner: Ah! A little Impending Lies “Unplugged!” For all the gear-heads out there, what kinds of guitars do you guys use? What are your weapons of choice?
Davo: You picked a good time to talk about that: We actually just traded in everything and started over last week! For us, equipment-wise, Jim uses a lefty. He’s weird! We have to use special guitars [laughs]!
Jim: I’ve been using ESP EC1000 models.
Davo: I use USA Paul Reed Smith models.
Examiner: You’re both listed not only as guitarists, but vocalists and programmers. What do you “program” in the group?
Davo: We have a lot of songs with a lot of different electronic aspects to them, whether they are different samples, piano, strings…a lot of synth work and things like that. A lot of that is added after the songs are written, but that’s all just another feather in the cap, so to speak.
Examiner: So Matt does the “clean” vocals, and you guys do the “screams” and background stuff?
Jim: Yeah. The new album has like, 80 to 90 tracks per song [laughs].
Davo: There are definitely a lot of layers. And the vocals are just straight scream-sing. There are a lot of harmonies in there that we put in to make it thicker. Sometimes we have to do extras. Even some of the screaming stuff—myself and Dave do most of the screaming—it’s layered to make it thicker and stronger.
Davo: Matt does most of the singing on the album. There are a few sections where I come in with vocal harmonies. It’s just one big scream fest [laughs]! But no, Matt goes in and does everything, and then we go in and play with those.
Examiner: What inspired you to play guitar? Who are your influences?
Jim: Milli Vanilli [laughs]!
Davo: I actually never picked up a guitar until I was 18 or 19 years old. And I did it really just to pick up chicks [laughs]! I’m just being honest. I learned about three chords on an old acoustic guitar that I had when I was young—and never picked up again until I was a senior in high school. I learned to play three or four chords, and then in turn was able to play pretty much every Green Day album [laughs]!
Jim: I was the complete opposite of that. My buddy got a guitar, and I wanted one, too! So I got one when I was twelve. And in like six months I just played around on it. I was into Metallica, so I bought the books and learned how to play ‘em. I’d come home every day from school. I’d pick a record and put it in, and play it all the way through. And the next day I’d come home, pick another record, and play that one all the way through! My mom loved me! My mom loved “King Nothing!” Honestly, I came from a really heavy background. I loved playing Pantera’s “Cemetery Gates,” and Metallica and White Zombie. Anything that was heavy, I wanted to be near it! I always liked Staind and bands like that. I was in extreme metals bands up until this band, because that’s all I really knew how to write. This was just to do something different, and I fell in love with it. Dave will write a song, and he’ll say, “Write a bridge!” And that’s when I can get a little heavy. I can get a little brutal for a minute!
Examiner: Do you guys write most of the music and then have Matt sing on it, or is it more of a democratic process involving the entire band?
Davo: We write more uniquely than anyone I’ve talked to. I lot of times I’ll come in, and I’ll have a song done front-to-back, ready to go. And there’s other times when someone will come in with just a single riff, and we’ll go off that. Or a half song, and we’ll work on that and fiddle around. A lot of the leads, Jim definitely started off with more of that when the band was in its infancy. When I came in, shortly thereafter, I took some responsibility on those as well. But it’s not so divided anymore, where there’s just one of us playing a rhythm patch and another on lead.
Examiner: Any major labels come sniffing around?
Davo: We definitely have a handful of irons in the fire. Some companies sniffing around home base. It’s out there for the world to see it, so we’re just trying to push it further. The aim, obviously, is to be able to do this full-time, and not worry about getting up on Monday mornings to go to work. We’re not looking to become millionaires, or to live next to George Lucas in California….
Examiner: Hey! I think it’d be cool living next to Skywalker Ranch!
Davo: Oh sure!
Jim: Trent Reznor just put his house up, poor guy [laughs]!
Examiner: But yes, I get you. Your end-goals are realistic. And the way things are nowadays, bands use new albums to advertise the tours—because that’s your bread and butter. In the old days, it was the opposite; you’d tour to promote the album.
Davo: We understand that there are sacrifices that have to be made. We just do it first and foremost because we love it. We’re in it for the love of the music. But in order to give it our full heart and soul, we have to keep getting out there.
Jim: To answer another part of that question, we did make one full-length a while ago [Until the Lights Burn Out]. It’s not even in print anymore. And this could change, but with the Internet, doing a full-length album—especially where we are right now—it’s not beneficial to us or the fans. The amount of time and money it takes isn’t worth it. The time to record it and the money to make it…. It just takes too long to get it out. That’s why we did The Storm release in August, and now we’re putting out another one. If we can keep doing that, putting something out within every twelve months or so, we’re doing ourselves a favor.
Examiner: Chewable doses of music in reasonable increments, then.
Davo: We keep it to five or six songs per disc. Six songs every nine or ten months, instead of having to wait a full year for fifteen.
Jim: Those days are gone!
Davo: Unfortunately, those days back in the ‘70s and ‘80s and even parts of the ‘90s where you could load all your buddies up in the van and find a different show to play every night, and make a living that way…those days are gone!
Hellyeah, Brothers at Arms, Impending Lies. Sunday, May 3, 2015 at House of Blues Cleveland (308 Euclid Avenue, Cleveland OH 44113). Tickets $23.00 GA only. Doors at 7:00pm.
Advance tickets here: http://tinyurl.com/krhoqry