SEASONS OF THE WOLF   HEAVY METAL FROM USA Band Questions answer by D. “SKULLY” WADDELL    
Please introduce yourself and the band members briefly? We have a new line-up as of 2017. Robert Vaughn Baxter on lead vocals, Sam Conable on Bass, and Ken Trapp on drums. Two original founding members - Dennis Ristow aka “Dr. Samurai” on keyboards, and myself Barry Waddell aka “Skully” on lead guitar and backing vocals. Sometimes lead vocals depending on the song.   What does the band name mean and how do you get it? It was originally a title for a song that Dennis was working on. We decided to use it as band name. Meaning to us the changing of seasons in the life of a wolf. The life challenges that happen during spring, summer, fall, winter.   Where and how was the band founded? Band formed just after the breakup of another band called EQUINOX that Dennis and I were part of in 80’s. We stuck together and formed SOTW in summer 1988. Wrote the first batch of songs. We had our first line-up official by October 31 st  1988. My younger brother Wes joined us as lead singer. And on Halloween night we had our first small show. By early 1989 we started recording.   Have you played in other bands before? I have been in several bands since age 12. The Graveyard Band was my first and then changed to Equinox. Others were Black & White Magic, Hard Touch, The Dirt Bags, Villain, Apocalypse, In Motion, and Dark Room. And then I used the name Equinox again from 84 to 88. Which is where some of the first few Seasons Of The Wolf songs came from.       Was it hard to find suitable band members who fit musically and humanely with the band? Yes it always is. And it is probably one of the hardest parts of forming a workable group. Not only does there have to be skill, there has to be common stable working relationships. There has to be commitment and time to get things done right. Dedication, loyalty, honesty and resilience is a must.   What does the band name mean? It means what ever the audience wants it to mean for themselves. A name like Seasons Of The Wolf creates an open territory of visuals and topics. Leaves it open for lots of lyric creativity.   What are the lyrics about and who of you is writing them ? I write a good portion of the lyrics, but the other members are involved as well. Depends on the song. Dennis has written some, and if possible sometimes he and I write together. My brother Wes wrote quite a handful on the early albums. And sometimes he and Dennis wrote together. Or sometimes all 3 of us wrote a few. Other members also contributed. Whatever it takes to get it done and have a good lyric. The subject matter runs from metaphysical to horror and sci-fi. Some are written about real life events.   Which bands inspired you and how would you describe your music to someone who has never heard a sound from you? A large part of inspiration came from 60’s and 70’s heavy bands. Iron Maiden, Blue Oyster Cult, Deep Purple, Black Sabbath, and Thin Lizzy to name a few. We have been called many things depending on what song you hear first. Over all we call it Progressive, Atmospheric, Power Metal. But again, we can be very diverse in our writing. A German magazine once called us Psycho Hippie Doom Metal.   Why should people listen to our music? I suppose to give their self a mental vacation and to stimulate the mind. Find comfort in thought and inspiration.   After three demo tapes your debut album Seasons of the Wolf was released in 1996. How long did it take to work on the album? We actually never did a demo. Although some people think we did. We recorded our first two albums back to back between 1988 and 1991. We packaged, released, and sold them on cassette tapes in stores in Tampa Bay Florida only. Not many people outside of Florida knew we had those albums until they were re-mastered and re-released on the “Anthology” double disc in 2014. We took our time recording what would become known as the first SOTW international release “Self Titled” Seasons Of The Wolf. We recorded that between 1994 and 1996. I formed our small label Earth Mother Music and we did everything ourselves.    What memory do you have of the time of the recordings and how proud were you to hold your own album in your hands? It was an awesome feeling having the first 1000 professional CD’s delivered and stacked in our studio. We wasted no time getting them out in the mail to anyone that was interested. We sent to magazines, fanzines, radio, and got them in to as many distributors as we could. Sold them at live shows and to small distributors. We searched for every possible angle to get the name out there. And we did it all right from our own studio office. And the most pleasing part was running out and restocking another 1000.   Who was responsible for the cover artwork? Up until our current album I have always done the artwork. And even on that I still come up with the concept in a pencil sketch and then have an artist work on the vision. Diskmakers art department captured the vision for the “self titled” album in 96. The current 2018 release “Last Act Of Defiance” was done by album artist from Indonesia Five Miligrams.   How satisfied are you with the album today and what is your favorite song on the album? Although “October Moon” and “Victim Of Darkness” became the popular two from that album I really enjoy them all equally. “Electric Dimension” is my favorite to play live.   In 1999, Lost in Hell released your second album. At this time it was not easy for heavy metal bands how satisfied were you with the sale of the album? By that time things were even better for us. The Lost In Hell album did well. I learned a lot about radio marketing, which helped. And we got involved with licensing a re-release of the album on a record label from Italy. It helped to push our sales up over 5000 on that album. And that also helped push the sales on the Self Titled and cause us to have another stock reorder.   In 2001, you released your third album Nocturnal Revelation. Who helped you with the genesis of the album. Both Lost In Hell and Nocturnal Revelation were recorded in our own studio. Having our own place built allowed us to take as much time as we wanted to write, record, produce, mix, and learn. The sonic production of Lost In Hell could be better. But, we learned from our mistakes and Nocturnal Revelation shows it. We finally started to know why things are important not only in the way things get recorded but how the arrangements of a song play a large part of what makes a good mix.   In 2007, six years after your third album, the album Once in a Blue Moon was released. Why did you need six years for the release? Well again – technically “Once In A Blue Moon” is our 6 th  full-length album. Going back to the fact that most people did not know we had 2 albums from 88 – 91.  During that time between Nocturnal Revelation and Blue Moon – we had some line-up changes and some re-organizing to get done. So, it took us a bit more time to get that album out. And just when we were getting ready to release, I ended up writing another song that fit the album. Ghost Woman. So, we had to record and get that on there. Hahaha!   For In the Shadows you have a video taken. In which cemetery was the video made and how long did the work on the video take? It was filmed at Manasota Cemetery in Bradenton. FL. Just a few miles down the road from our studio. It is a popular artsy cemetery as John Ringling Mausoleum is there. You can see the drum kit set up on front of the mausoleum. Took 4 different trips down there to get it done.   Once in a Blue Moon is sure to be a highlight in your history. How do you feel about the album? Indeed Once In A Blue Moon came out wonderful for us. Songs are all a perfect trip in and out of darkness. Sonically, and arrangement wise we came into full satisfaction of what a Seasons Of The Wolf album should sound like. And we continued with that on “Last Act Of Defiance”   After the album, it was a bit quiet around you. Why did not anyone hear from you for so long afterwards? What happened that you needed more than ten years for the next album? The Shit Hit The Fan!! That is best way to describe it. My brother unfortunately became too ill to continue. He only did 5 songs on the album and that was it. I finished the rest on vocals myself. Then the economy kicked our asses upside down at the same time. Originally we were going to get the album out by 2012. But each year came and went and we just could not get it out on our own like we had before. So, eventually we called on Thomas at Iron Shield Records for help. We had already developed good relations with Thomas through licensing on “Anthology” double disc. And we also did licensing with Pure Steel Records for Self-titled and Lost In Hell released on Vinyl. Those reissues on vinyl and the Anthology helped to keep the name going during that long stretch of time between studio releases.       Finally in 2018 the album Last Act of Defiance was released. How long have you actually been working on it? We already had most of it done in 2012. It sat and collected dust for a while. Then finally we polished it off and got it out with help from Iron Shield Records.   How old are the songs on the album or have you just used newer songs? There is a couple older tracks from 1990 mixed with new ones from around 2008 to 2012. We have a lot of material that has never been fully produced. And sometimes we find an older song that fits really well for an album.   I really like the cover artwork who designed it? I came up with the concept with a very rough sketch. Then Cheryl at Witches Brew Records set us up with the album cover artist from Indonesia. Five Milligrams is his company.   You have been under contract with the German label Iron Shield Records. How come you have come and what are you expecting from working together? It has been excellent working with Thomas at Iron Shield Records. We knew his partner for long time and it was sad that he passed away from heart condition. Now with Thomas at Iron Shield and also Pure Steel working the promotions end along with all of my contacts from Earth Mother Music things have pushed SOTW back into awareness. Thomas has visited our studio a few times on trips to Florida. We drank down a few cold brews and went to see a show once with his partner. This is the real way to form good relations. The trust is there. That is something we never had before.   Do we have to wait another eleven years for the next album? Hell no!! We already got the next one in full production status. The recording should be complete by the end of summer 2019. And we are planning to release JAN 2020. During all that down time I wrote a lot of new material. And with the new line-up a few more songs have sprang up. And so, we now have 10 new songs in full production mode.   What were the highlights and highlights of the band's more than thirty-year history? There is a lot of accomplishments in our 30 year history. It would take a lot of space to cover them all. But, I can give you the top 4 during our beginning few years. First one was recording, releasing, and distributing the first 2 albums all on our own around the Tampa Bay Area. Then our first public show was at a civic center on a large stage in front of a good size crowd. Opening up for Blue Oyster Cult was also a big one. Then working on our first international release with Bud Snyder at Telstar Studio. During that time we built our own studio. Learned how to be self sufficient and resilient. Survived through all the crap of the business. That is the short version of our beginning.   What was your first concert as a fan? And what memory do you have of it? Well my first concert was not metal. My Dad took me to see Glen Campbell back in 1973. My memory of that was a crowd of woman tearing off pieces of Glens jacket. My first big rock concert was Black Oak Arkansas in 74. I went to see them 2 more times in 75, and 76. Black Oak Arkansas was never considered a metal band but they were a huge influence on me. Then there was Nazareth, and Black Sabbath, Ted Nudgent, U.F.O, Rush, Utopia, Thin Lizzy and the list goes on.   What were your live highlights and with which bands did you play? Every live show is always a highlight of some sort. Indeed, many of those highlights come from the audience. Seeing them react and have a great time. Throwing their fist in the air and head banging. It used to get a bit crazier than that at times. At least it was back then. But now a lot of the crazy is not allowed at shows. The list of bands we have played shows with is very long. Mostly a lot of underground bands the same as SOTW striving to get above ground a bit more. But the biggest name band we opened for was Blue Oyster Cult. And that is still always special memory because they inspired us.   Do you also plan to play live in Europe? Yes, we want to as soon as possible.   Which band would you like to play live with and why? Would love to open for Iron Maiden before they retire. It would be a fitting show. I also think that SOTW and Metal Church would make a good show. And there are many others.   With what do you earn your money except with the music? I run a rehearsal studio for rock bands and co-produce a few other projects. Do photography and video. Design album covers and help record demos for other bands. So, one way or another it is all got something to do with music. And so far, that is how I have survived.   How important are social media for you as a band? I believe it is extremely important these days.   Used properly of course. But, I notice that is not the case for a lot of people.   What would you (her) want to achieve with the band? Always once a level is reached then comes the next level. It never stops. There is always a higher level. I’d like to see us achieve a couple higher levels and expose to a larger audience.   What do you think about the USA Metal scene in general? I think it might be better in other places than it is for us in Florida. I’ve heard that it is not so good anywhere from other people in the business. But, again – it all depends on what level you are to the way you view it. If you are lucky enough to get a nice tour, create a higher demand, and start getting a lot of support then you’re view of how bad things really are and how hard it can be will be skewed. It is typical of those at the top to say how great things are.   Maybe you can recommend some bands from your area? There is a handful of old acquaintances from Crimson Glory, Steel Angel, and Atheist that have formed new bands such as Avenging Bengi, and Dark Matter. Running a rehearsal studio I come in contact with a lot of bands. But, not many metal bands. Savatage is probably the biggest name “true metal band” from our area that had significant impact with their album Hall Of The Mountain King. The there is also Iced Earth that came from the area. There are still to this day a lot of death metal bands in Florida. But, I’ve always been unfamiliar in that particular metal sub-genre.     PERSONAL QUESTIONS !
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