Ahead of the fantastic Reverence’s upcoming tour (you can read all about it here), we caught up with their guitarist Bryan Holland to ask him a question or two, which he was very kind enough to answer in a great amount of detail.
Could you introduce yourselves for the readers of Soundscape who may not know who you are?
Reverence is a fairly new power metal band that I would say mixes the sounds of classic-era Judas Priest, Savatage, Queensryche, and maybe a touch of Primal Fear. The band consists of myself, Bryan Holland (Tokyo Blade, Arrest), Todd Michael Hall (Jack Starr’s Burning Starr, Harlet), Pete Rossi (Sanxtion, Overland), Steve “Doc Killdrums” Wacholz (Savatage, Crimson Glory) and Ned Meloni (Jack Starr’s Burning Starr, Funny Money).
You released your album When Darkness Calls last year – could you tell us a little bit about the writing and recording process for it?
Writing began soon after Todd and I first hooked up sometime in the spring of 2010, but the final lineup wasn’t really done until the following winter. My old Tokyo Blade bassist Frank Kruckle had joined first, but right after recording decided he really couldn’t do it as he some family commitments, so Todd later recruited Ned just before the video recordings. Doc signed on after hearing the demos too and he recommended Pete Rossi. By that time most of the writing had already been completed, so Pete’s writing contributions were limited – but he does half of the guitar solos, a lot of texturing, he rewrote After The Leaves Have Fallen with the heavy ending, and added several intros and outros that really helped define the songs.
We began principle recording on 11/11/11 at Metro 37 in Detroit. We recorded all of the drums, bass, rhythm guitars and Pete’s lead guitars there but later decided we were not happy with the rhythm guitar sounds, so we re-tracked those, some of Pete’s leads and all of my leads were recorded at my home studio. Todd recorded all of his vocals at his home studio and we went back to Metro 37 for some of the backing vocals, songs with big gang shouts, etc. All recording was done by the spring of 2012 and was all mixed and master by Sid Garcia from Sight16 Studios who I’d worked on the last Tokyo Blade album with, and the album dropped in late May of 2012. It was about a year and a half from start to finish of building the band, writing and recording.
Which song of yours are you most proud of?
The very first song that started it off – Revolution Rising. Once Todd and I finished that one, we knew we were on the right track. Another milestone in our writing was the song Too Late. It’s our most commercial sounds song but the way it came together was magical. And I’ll always be proud of the title track When Darkness Calls, which was actually one of the last songs written.
And which song is the best one to play live?
I really love the album’s title track which we also open the show with, When Darkness Calls. It starts off slow, kinda haunting, and has a heavy and dark vibe to the opening chords and then it kicks in like a freight train. My other favourites are Revolution Rising which is kind of an anthem and I really love playing Bleed For Me. It’s very up tempo, has a killer solo by Pete and a super catchy chorus – just loads of fun to play live.
How do you think your music has evolved since the band first started?
Since the first album was mainly Todd and myself writing together, I think having Pete more involved in the writing for the next album has already changed the landscape of the bands’ sound a bit. From the songs we’ve already been working on, the next one sounds heavier and darker and we are playing with some different tunings which should help mix it up from the first record. But we aren’t venturing too far from what made When Darkness Calls a fan favourite. Of course we can’t rewrite it over and over but I think we need to always be mindful of who we are and where we started, and not stray too far from that. We’ll always be a straight up heavy/power metal band, it’s who we are.
What is the best thing about touring?
Playing onstage is by far the best part, it’s very rewarding. There is an enormous amount of work that goes into writing, recording and touring but you never get tired of performing and is really the things that drives the whole reason we work so hard at the rest of it. I enjoy seeing new places, checking out the local haunts and trying the local cuisine, especially in Europe, – it’s incredible how different the cultures are from America. I’m a huge World War 2 enthusiast so what better place to be than Europe? There’s so much history there, it was very moving to visit sites like Bastogne and the Battle of the Bulge areas, just incredible.
And what about the worst?
A lot of musician cite the travel as the worst part, but although I can’t deny that it can get pretty monotonous, I don’t mind the travel too badly – other than flying which I absolutely hate, but it must be done. The long drives between shows can wear on you, it’s a hurry up and wait kind of of business, but like I said, I like to go sightseeing and of course and of course meeting up with fans is always a high point.
If you could tour with any band, who would it be?
Classic era Savatage, without a doubt! Pete and I are massive Criss Oliva worshipers and we try to incorporate a bit of his style into what we do in Reverence. They’re a hugely underrated band and guitarist – he and his brother Jon (Oliva) are some incredible writers, and they’re a fantastic live band. They wrote some amazing classic metal songs and had such a unique style, it’s a shame they were overlooked so much.
Who would you list your musical influences as?
Without a doubt, guitar-wise Criss Oliva, Randy Rhoads, Kirk Hammett and Michael Schenker. These guys really shaped my youth and how I approach the guitar in both my playing technique and song writing. I loved the twin guitars of KK Downing and Glenn Tipton from Judas Priest and the early Night Ranger albums when they were heavier. Brad Gillis and Jeff Watson were fantastic together.
And finally, where do you see yourself in five years?
I’d really like to be on the 3rd or 4th Reverence album by then! We’re working hard on building the band but we all know the realities of the music biz, but all we can do is stick together and move forward.