Read the feature Interview with Erik Virgin and John Sergel of BEYOND THRESHOLD talking about their new album ‘Who We Are’, watch the new video and hear what’s up with the band for 2013!
Make no doubt about it, Rockford, Illinois metal masters Beyond Threshold have been wowing audiences throughout much of the Midwest and beyond since prior to the release of their debut album Revolution in 2010. Their unique blend of crushing, modern heaviness with just enough old school roots has allowed the band to deeply entrench itself into the hearts and minds of any heavy music fan that has been lucky enough to catch them live ever since.
2012 brings this quintet consisting of Erik Virgin (vocals), Todd Paluzzi (guitar), Dustin Dye (guitar), Chad Foster (bass) and John Sergel (drums) to the next chapter in their ever climbing heavy music dominance with the release of its sophomore monster entitled Who We Are. The album, produced by Jason Z was released in late October via Goomba Music/Turkey Vulture Records/eOne and it clearly takes the band’s unique sound to another level with some of the best material and production values the band has released to date. Rock fists up for this bad boy, my friends!
Interview with Erik Virgin and John Sergel:
Rick/RR: Guys, welcome to RockRevolt™Magazine. How’s it going?
Erik/BT: It’s going my friend!!
John/BT: Going great man!
Rick/RR: Give our fans the quick get to know Beyond Threshold (kindly introduce yourselves if you will)! (Laughs)
Erik/BT: Hello, I’m Erik Virgin the lead singer of metal powerhouses; Beyond Threshold!
John/BT: I’m John Sergel and I play the drums!
Rick/RR: Since Beyond Threshold formed as a group in 2006, you’ve risen above a lot of the noise to become a standout band in the heavy music scene. To me it comes down to talent and conviction, which the band seems to have plenty of both.
Erik/BT: Thanks Rick! I share your views on Beyond Threshold and the success the band has seen over the years. I would have to say the one thing that keeps this machine going is the heart and dedication this band has for the music and its fans. Staying true to our guns and not following the latest trends in rock and metal. It’s nice to see the look on fans’ faces when we go out there full blown with no hesitation to “sweep their legs!”
John/BT: I think it really comes down to, once the initial gloss of playing in a band wears off and you realize “Oh this is actual work, this isn’t going to just come free for any of us” and you continue to stick with it and treat it like a profession, that’s when you really give yourself a shot to make it. Those are the bands that are going to make some noise in the scene. A lot of kids get into music expecting endless booze and blowjobs and it really doesn’t work like that anymore. You have to treat it just like you would a nine to five job.
Rick/RR: I would add to my last statement and say another quality that seems to impress metal fans is the fact you combine the sounds and tricks of the new metal millennium, yet keep your roots firmly planted in the finer elements of old school metal.
Erik/BT: We have many influences that we incorporate into Beyond Threshold’s sound. I’m into versatile vocals even when they’re aggressive. Most metal, hardcore, and rock seem to have the same voice nowadays. As Beyond Threshold’s vocalist, I feel there should be no boundaries or limitations within our music. We embrace the fact that we are versatile as artists.
John/BT: Yes. Everyone in the band is influenced by different stuff. Todd is an old school thrash guy, Chad is a European metal guy, and Dustin is a big into Metalcore. We even dabble in acoustic stuff kind of like Alice in Chains. So when we all get together and play it becomes this perfect balance of all these different styles into this giant metal melting pot that is Beyond Threshold. That’s why you’ll hear so many different eras or subgenres of metal in our music
Rick/RR: The band is signed with Turkey Vulture Records. How did your relationship with the label begin?
Erik/BT: Back in 2007, Jason Z from Turkey Vulture Records had the pleasure of seeing a Beyond Threshold show in Rockford, IL. He signed my older brother’s band, Man Made Man and went to this specific show to see his guys in action. He had no Idea what he was in store for when we got on stage. He was completely blown away by the band and was so over-whelmed he had to go outside during our set. (Laughs) After the show Jason approached me to work with him and TVR. In 2009, Beyond Threshold released Revolution with TVR and since then has developed an ongoing relationship with the label. Recently, our newest album Who We Are has been released with Goomba Music in partnership with Turkey Vulture Records and eOne Distribution. Tim King (SOiL bassist and Director of A&R at Goomba Music) had extended the opportunity to Beyond Threshold after witnessing the rapid growth and dominance the band has achieved on recent SOiL/Beyond Threshold tour runs. Tim King states, “When I heard the completed version of Who We Are, I knew I had to team up with them to release it on Goomba Music.”
Rick/RR: Speaking of which, you just dropped your latest album, Who We Are, through the label on October 30th. The 11-song release pretty much hits on all those qualities we discussed at the beginning of the interview. Talk about the album, recording, etc.
Erik/BT: The album marks the follow-up to our highly successful debut Revolution which was released in 2010 with Turkey Vulture Record’s. Who We Are features some of the band’s finest material and production. This album was recorded at TVR Studios in Rockford, Illinois and produced by Jason Z. The new album definitely captures Beyond Threshold’s raw energy. This album took a lot of hard work and dedication to get the final product. I have to say I’m a 100% pleased with the direction and production of this record. The writing of this took place during a very hard time to me personally after my father passed away. Shortly after his death I was thrown into the studio for the production of Who We Are. The band individuality was going through some hardships as well. This album symbolizes pushing Beyond Threshold through anything or anyone that would try to hold them down! Who We Are is very close to home emotionally and lyrically which makes this an album I think our fans can relate to.
John/BT: Many mind numbing hours spent in the studio, it gets to a point where you’re ready to strangle each other to death but the end result made it all worth it. I think you can tell when you listen to Who We Are that a lot of sacrifice went into this record.
Rick/RR: You released the album title track as your first single and video. Why did you chose this particular song to title the album as the first song fans will hear off of it, and in some case may be their first exposure to the band.
Erik/BT: We felt that the song “Who We Are” is the perfect representation of the raw power of the band. It’s one of those songs that makes want to get in the pit and fuck shit up! We had to make sure the first song released targeted the core metal fans.
Watch “Who We Are”
Rick/RR: The song “First Blood” is a personal favorite of mine. It captures the attitude of early Pantera, the melody to an extent of Disturbed in the chorus and even some Killswitch/Megadeth in the riffs. Well done! The lyrics are intriguing as well, talk about the song and what you were striving for here.
Erik/BT: ”First Blood” is one of my favorites as well! We wanted to capture the high energy of bands like Killswitch, Pantera, Chimaira, and add our very own twist. My favorite part of this song is the first high scream in the beginning of the song!! Gets me pumped every time.
Rick/RR: “Downside” shows off the darker, eerie and more moody side of the band. The band’s conviction shines on this one.
Erik/BT: This is one of the songs that hits close to home with me personally after my father’s death. It’s amazing how such a great song can come out of such a tragic loss. This song was the closure that I needed.
Listen to “Downside”
John/BT: I think it’s one of the most powerful songs on the record. A song doesn’t necessarily need to be heavy to be powerful and “Downside” is the perfect example of that. You can feel this dark energy sort of follow the listener throughout the whole song, so it’s unique to any other song we’ve done in that aspect.
Rick/RR: Many bands talk about writing songs in the studio that will translate well in the live setting. How much does that thought play into the band’s songwriting?
Erik/BT: I always write songs based on how they’ll sound live. One of the most fun parts of the writing process is the, “Hey after this transition here let’s give the crowd something to really pit to!” You’re going to be playing these songs every night for years and years to come so you better make sure they’re fun to play live!
Rick/RR: Staying in the playing live theme, Beyond Threshold has taken the opportunity to play with quite a few of the heavy hitters throughout the Midwest including most recently sharing that stage with the likes of All That Remains, Dirge Within, Dope, Taproot and 12 Stones.
Erik/BT: We are very blessed to have the opportunities to tour with some of our favorite bands. It’s awesome that they dig our music and invite us to support them on these tours. The fans have responded great on recent runs and keep demanding us to come back. Expect some bigger tour announcements in 2013!!
Rick/RR: Is there any one show over the past year or so that stands out as a highlight for you?
Erik/BT: Hatebreed & Beyond Threshold in Madison, WI! It was an EPIC show to say the least! High energy and that classic hardcore setting that you don’t see anymore. Probably the coolest show on that run!!
John/BT: Showboat Rockfest 2012…. Great crowd, great bands, worst heat ever! (Laughs)
Rick/RR: How about for 2013, what do the tour plans looking like?
Erik/BT: We have upcoming tour runs with our friends in Dirge Within, Dope and Arcanium in January and March. We actually have a ton of bigger tour packages and festival runs that we are working on for 2013. We can’t officially announce anything yet. I promise you this… when you find out some of the stuff that’s in the works; you’ll lose your mind!
Erik/BT: I’ve met most of my main inspirations as far as singers go at least in the metal demographic. In the arena rock world, I would have to say Vince Neil from Motley Crue.
Rick/RR: What would be the one must ask question you’d be sure to get an answer to?
Erik/BT: How the fuck did you party that hard on tour for decades and still manage to perform? (Laughs)
Rick/RR: Where do you see the band headed in the next 3-5 years? Headlining arenas? (Laughs)
Erik/BT: I see us continuing to melt the faces for years to come!!
John/BT: Paying the bills just by playing music, and sharing that music with our fans. That’s the end goal for me.
Rick/RR: Eric and John, thank you so much for hanging out with us! I look forward to catching you on the road.
Erik/BT: Thanks Rick it was an honor my friend!!
~ Rick Lindner, Journalist – RockRevolt™Magazine
Photographs provided by Turkey Vulture Records for publication