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InterviewsMolten Dials Up Some Hot Heavy Metal Sounds

Posted on Saturday, March 27 2021 @ 20:25:11 CDT by Pete Pardo
Heavy Metal Sea of Tranquility Staff writer Carl Sederholm recently caught up with Herman Bandala of Molten. The band’s debut album Dystopian Syndrome was released in January 2021.

SoT: Thanks for taking the time to do this interview. Your album was a great way to start off the New Year and we hope listeners are discovering what you guys are up to even though touring can’t happen right now. To begin things, please give us a short introduction to Molten and tell us how things are going in the legendary Bay Area underground.

HB: Thank you for the support!

We’re a metal band from San Francisco (formed in 2017). We incorporate elements of death, thrash, doom, 70s prog, classic rock, punk rock, black and traditional metal in our music, among other styles. We mix various styles of music that all 5 of us love. And try to have as much fun as possible doing it.

We’re super pumped with the response of our latest album, Dystopian Syndrome. It was a lot of hard work and it took a long time for it to come out due to COVID. But we’re incredibly proud of that record and definitely feel stoked it’s been appreciated this way. It’s a real bummer we can’t tour, but we still have hope. We‘ll keep writing music and putting it out somehow. Hopefully tour in the near future. As far as the Bay goes, like most of the world, the scene is pretty stagnant right now, There’s not much bands or musicians can do, unfortunately. There’s live streams and stuff like that going on, it seems things are starting to pick up. So hopefully by the end of the year the scene will feel more active and vibrant like it once was.

SoT: I sometimes think of your album as a COVID album since it came out under such strange world circumstances (and since it has a couple of tracks that seem to be about COVID / quarantine). I know you guys probably wrote some of the album before 2020, but how did the pandemic change your sense of the album or the music?

HB: What’s funny is that we recorded that album in late 2019, at Earhammer studios. Due to various factors with money and timelines the album didn’t get mixed and mastered till mid 2020. Then we had to get the artwork which took a while as well.

The album’s theme almost feels surreal to us because, like you said, it’s very COVID related but was written and recorded prior to it.

Before lockdown we we’re just writing about stuff we’ve noticed with the world, as far as pollution, corruption, war, humanity, mythology, mania, etc.

A couple of tongue in cheek lyrics added in there too.

The only thing that we entitled after COVID was the opening track, but the music was recorded back in fall of 2019.

But yeah, it’s wild how the lyrics became very descriptive of what came next.

SoT: The album addresses a wide variety of themes that range from politics, war, fantasy, and disasters. Was there any one idea that brought everything together for you or were guys just capturing a whole bunch of different moods?

HB: We were just writing common themes about the darker side of things, basically. Letting the music convey a theme and then develop the lyrics within that vibe. The dire and almost fatalistic vibe of it lent itself to develop as a concept, unintentionally. But like you said, those lyrics are very much about politics, war, disasters, and fantasy.

In the end we had another song called “ Hell Ride” that didn’t end on the album because it was more of a party thrasher kinda song, and we decided drop it for the time being to make the album’s theme more cohesive.

SoT: One of things everyone should check out is the video for “Zombie’s Curse” since it is basically a cool short zombie movie. I love the song, especially the way it opens with the tag line from George Romero’s Dawn of the Dead? Are you guys fans of classic zombie movies?

HB: Thanks! Yes, we love horror films, especially the classics! And we’re somewhat obsessed with old school zombie films. Bristol, our singer, took the reins with the lyrics on that one and he definitely loves writing about horror/slasher films. The song is definitely a crowd favorite live.

We had a blast doing that mini movie. Chris our guitarist directed, produced and mixed it. Damon the drummer helped filming. I wrote the score. Our buddies came out and helped us with filming, special effects and as some extra zombies! For the music video we all took directorial duties. Gary our other guitarist did an awesome job with the set up and the lighting. So, it was a group effort for sure.

SoT: I mentioned in my review that the album sometimes reminded me of early Iron Maiden, mostly because of the way the band explores some different styles while carrying some incredible energy. What were some of the major influences on the album? Do you ever deliberately channel Steve Harris in your playing?

HB: Right on, that’s an awesome comparison! We absolutely love Maiden.

I think it’s because of what you said. We explore different styles within the songs, and we don’t have a specific format for them. Basically, we tackle every new song as a free for all kinda deal. We develop them as a band, and we add little things here and there that we’re stoked on.

I know Steve Harris is a huge prog fan and I’ve always admired him. So yeah, he’s definitely a big influence on me. I actually recorded my bass parts with his signature Fender P bass. Which is my favorite bass.

Our influences are all kinds of bands ranging from death, thrash, doom, punk rock, 70s prog and classic rock, black and traditional metal to flamenco, tango and classical music. Some of the latter influences are more subtle, but they’re there.

For the most part we love the same styles of music, but I feel we all have a genre we each represent more in the band. Bristol the singer is a death metal encyclopedia slaying with his vocals. Damon is more of a punk rocker with the classic rock type of swing in his drumming. Gary is more of an old school thrash guy, we even call him Captain Crunch because of his awesome crunchy guitar tone! Chris is like the metal Shaman of the band that encompasses everything psychedelic and heavy. I’m more like the prog nerd throwing in crazy ideas haha. But we all love what we bring to the table and respect each other’s contributions. We all have moments and segments where we can stand out.

SoT: Tell us a little more about your own bass playing. You have some solo parts on the album and there are times when you definitely stick out in all the right ways. (I’m thinking of “Rising Embers,” but there are several other cool passages). When did you start playing? Who are some of your main influences? What kind of playing do you want to bring to Molten? Several tracks have some killer bass playing on them. You definitely bring a kind of lead feel to the band.

HB: Thanks!
I’m a big fan of the bass, and I always want to put it in the front with the rest of the instruments. I love it when the bass cuts through and sticks out in songs and I’ve always admired bass players that have more of a lead role.

I started playing bass at 17, learning songs by Maiden, Sabbath, Rush, Metallica, Megadeth, among others, some punk rock too. Some of my main influences are Cliff Burton, Steve Harris, Geddy Lee, John Paul Jones, Geezer Butler, Jaco, Phil Lynott, Greg Lake, Chris Squire, Charles Mingus. Bach and Vivaldi. But I also love guitar players that I incorporate in my playing like Tony Iommi, Ritchie Blackmore, Randy Rhoads, Jimmy Page, Robert Fripp, Chuck Schuldiner, Michael Schenker, Eddie VH, Yngwie, Zappa and Uli Jon Roth. Classical music and jazz is also something I try to incorporate in my playing. For Molten I try to do whatever is best for the song, but I try to have a lead role in the songs as well.

SoT: What are the band’s plans for 2021? I’ve heard that you are already working on new music. Are listeners finding you even though there’s no touring going on?

HB: We’re currently finishing the songs that we want to record for our next album. The plan is to go back to EarHammer studios in Oakland with Greg Wilkinson in May or June. Greg is a great sound Engineer and an awesome person. We really loved the process and result of recording “DS” vwith him and we want to work with him again.

Surprisingly, people are checking us out thanks to platforms like Spotify, Bandcamp, Instagram, etc. Even though we can’t tour. We’re really lucky to have people interested in what we’re doing. We will have CDs on sale pretty soon released by Redefining Darkness, and some vinyl by mid year. It’s an awesome label and Thomas (the owner) is helping us out by putting out our record. If everything goes well, we will have another album by the end of the year/early next year. And if the year permits, start touring.

SoT: Where can fans find more information about the band or purchase music / merchandise online? I recently ordered a t-shirt (the one with the hooded skeleton holding the earth in its hands) and I love it.

HB: Awesome!
You can check us out on Spotify and at the following links:

SoT: Is there anything else you’d like our readers to know about you or about Molten?

HB: Thanks a lot for the support, we hope the music scenes reemerge and we get to tour and play with awesome bands and cool people from all over. Keep your ears to the underground and keep supporting music.

Thanks Sea of Tranquility, you guys rule!

SoT: Thanks very much for the music and for the interview. I am hoping to catch you guys on the road one day!

Carl Sederholm

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