"Sean here representing The Metal Experience Radio, taking the opportunity to catch up with progressive speed metal act, Zephaniah, out of Fort Wayne, Indiana. Zephaniah draws elements from heavy, thrash and power metal to create an assaulting sound, filled with sensational string work and persistent percussion. Having just released their second full length album titled, Reforged, Zephaniah have plans to invade live stages and share their music with the world.
Zephaniah is: Vocals - Logan Detwiler Guitars - Justin Zych Guitars - Shaun Cothron Bass - Ian Bender Drums - Cody Johns
"In what year did Zephaniah form? How did you guys all come together with the idea to form this band?"
Justin Zych: "We formed back in 2005. I had a group of friends involved in the beginning, but I wanted serious musicians that had that passion to play as well. I always adored metal and bands like Iron Maiden, Manowar, Hammerfall, Dream Theater and I wanted to create music like that. When we formed in the beginning and got to the lineup that would release Stories from the Book of Metal, I had written most of the songs and we had become more of a power metal band with some thrash elements. Logan came in at least a year before we released that record and Ian had become involved before that."
"After listening to you guys, clearly you are all competent musicians. The guitar, bass and drum work you guys produce is very skilled and full of chemistry, how long have you guys been playing your instruments?"
Justin Zych: "Thank you! I have been playing guitar for about 17 years now and have picked up bass and piano along the way."
Ian Bender: "I’ve played bass for about 12 years and drums/percussion for much longer. I have actually been back and forth between the two in this band several times."
Shaun Cothorn: "I’ve been playing guitar about 15 years now."
"This question is directed towards Logan (vocals) specifically, I am a huge fan of the power behind those soaring vocals, at what age did you realize you had such a powerhouse of a voice? Did you ever take any singing lessons?"
Logan Detwiler: "First of all, thank you! I'm usually overly critical of everything I record, so knowing it's liked is a huge weight off my shoulders. Haha. I've been singing since I was a little kid. It started in the car with my grandma when I was probably about 5 or 6. From there, I stuck with it throughout school from choir classes to musical theater. Once I began high school, I was given the opportunity to take lessons in classical Opera under the tutelage of Joe Khari. I took lessons throughout the entirety of my high school career. It was in those lessons I really learnt the true extent of my vocal capabilities. Near the end of high school, I auditioned for Zephaniah and the rest is history!"
"Congratulations to you guys on the release of your second full length album, Reforged, I think it is a spectacular record! How has the people’s response to the new material been since the release of this album?"
Justin Zych: "I have only received positive feedback so far and we have sold a decent amount of albums. I really enjoy hearing new and old fans asking us to play their favorite song off the album at live shows. Cool part about that is that everyone has a completely different favorite song off that album! But I would have to say the Mad Max trilogy seems to be everyone's favorite."
Ian Bender: "Most people seem to really dig it. We’ve actually had pretty decent comments about it online, where people tend to be pretty brutal with their critiques, so that’s a good sign."
Shaun Cothron: "So far the response has been overwhelming. There really isn’t much power metal in the midwest so hopefully we’re offering a breath of fresh air."
"This album seems to have a bit more dynamic then your debut album, Stories from the Book of Metal (excellent work),” also, the production value has upgraded tremendously. How long did it take to write and record the songs for this record?"
Justin Zych: "The writing process was easy. We had been on hiatus for about four years so I had some songs that were written that needed some adjusting. This album features not just songs I wrote but a collection of songs that all the members wrote so I think that makes this album way more dynamic and interesting to listen to. We were able to spend a lot of time in the studio and make everything sound perfect and natural like you hear in all your favorite 80s records. Also due to studio changes, producer changes and other fun computer problems, this took over a year to get recorded. We are hoping our next album takes a lot less time but we will never let time or money be a factor in making our album sound the best it can."
"I love the classic thrash metal sound that can be heard throughout this album, but more evidently on tracks like “Thunderdome,” who would you guys say some of your biggest influences were on this album? Who are some of your biggest influences as a band?"
Justin Zych: "I was listening to a lot of Carcass and Kreator around the time I wrote Thunderdome. Depending on the song, I have a lot of influence from all sorts of music. Anywhere from listening to metal, classical or even just hearing things in my daily life. Definitely my biggest influences are Jason Becker, Al Di Meola, Manowar."
Logan Detwiler: "MANOWAR. Iron Maiden, specifically Bruce Dickinson. But vocally, my influences span into a lot of weird things. I listen to pretty much anything but gospel, and even then I still appreciate the vocal styling. Haha."
Ian Bender: "I don’t typically have a particular band or style in mind when writing a song. I’ll usually start with a basic melody or rhythmic pattern and just roll with it. As far as general metal influences - King Diamond, Angra, Heavenly, and Hammerfall are some of my favorites. I’m also a big fan of funk and old R&B stuff."
Shaun Cothron: "I think we all have different personal influences, but as a band it’s really just about coming together and putting our ideas in a melting pot and seeing what comes out. Everything influences songwriting, just being in a room together allows for ideas to flow freely."
"Reforged introduces some added heavy elements in songs such as, “Mad Max” and “Quest for the Royal Crown,” would you guys say that you wanted this album to be heavier then your previous work?"
Justin Zych: "Absolutely, we have the powerhouse drummer, Cody Johns on board and he hits hard. We decided that we wanted to be the power thrash band that shreds harder than anyone else. I love powerful vocals, shredding and extremely fast tempos. People can feel that intensity on this album!"
Logan Detwiler: "Definitely. Personally, I will always have a soft spot for the epic ballad and would love to do another one akin to Deep Breath from our first album, but the energy and intensity of REFORGED is a force to be reckoned with and I don't think I'd have it any other way."
Ian Bender: "I don’t know that heavier was the intent initially, but the more focused and tighter sound definitely creates that vibe. Thematically, the stories also ended up being a little darker on this album."
"I admire the art work for the new album, the man sort of reminds me of Dwalin, one of the dwarf’s from The Hobbit. Was there any LOTR influence involved in the making of this artwork?"
Justin Zych: "You'll have to ask the artist. We just wanted an epic Blacksmith on the cover."
Logan Detwiler: "Oddly enough, I got the same idea when I saw it, so I feel like he may have been an influence. At least I'll claim it is!"
Ian Bender: "Kip Ayers was the artist. He does a lot of fantasy work, so I wouldn’t be surprised if he has some LOTR influences in his repertoire."
"With a brand new album out now, what are the band’s plans for the rest of 2016?"
Justin Zych: "We have a couple of awesome opening gigs for some larger names but we plan on doing a couple of small tours for the public around the midwest and for next year eventually branching out. We plan on getting some good management to take us to that next level, so we can play music full time and have the privilege of creating more awesome music."
Ian Bender: "We’ll also be working on some fun things to market and promote the album!"
Shaun Cothron: "Well since the new album is out, i suppose it’s about time to start writing for the next one, lol. Really just continually trying to find ways to push the band's name and the music onto fresh ears and think up some new tasty dance moves for the stage."
"I want to thank you guys for taking the time to answer these questions, I am very honored to be talking to such a talented group of musicians keeping metal music alive and well. I hope that you guy’s will be able to come to Chicago to play a show in the near future, but until then, keep up the great work!"
- Sean McLennan
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"Sean here, representing The Metal Experience Radio, taking some time to get to know a little more about the Wisconsin based progressive metal marvels, Pangaea.
I want to begin by saying that your newest EP, “Roots” is such a phenomenal piece of work and you guys must be so proud of it. Thank you for lending your contribution of hard work and fantastic music writing abilities to the metal scene, it is definitely much appreciated!
I just want to ask you guys a few questions so everyone is a little more informed about the men behind these beautiful sounds.
So, let me begin":
"How many members are in the band and what does each person play?"
"Currently we have four dedicated members: Michael Dionne – Vocals/Keys, Trae Titus - Guitar/Vocals, Evan Webster – Guitar/Vocals, and Spencer Fox – Bass/ Vocals
Our last drummer was Steve Meyer of The Fine Constant, but as both of our bands want to be on the road more frequently, scheduling became an issue. It was a clean separation, but we mutually decided to part ways. We are in the process of working with a new drummer from Albany, New York, and he will be performing with us on our upcoming Roots tour May 20th – 28th."
How many years have you guys been a band?
"Pangaea’s first show was in January of 2014, so almost 2 and a half years now."
"Were you guys a part of any musical projects before Pangaea?"
"Yes, most of us had some kind of group we played with in high school, but after meeting at The University of Wisconsin Oshkosh in 2010, Mike, Evan, Spencer, and I were in a group called The End Result until 2013. Spencer played guitar in that band and I was on Drums."
"How many years have you guys been playing your instruments?"
"I believe Spencer, Evan, and I all started playing guitar around 6th grade so it’s been roughly 12 years since we started playing. However, classical guitar was introduced to us much later on at the start of college. We’ve been playing classical music for about 6 years now."
"Your newest EP, “Roots” is packed full of so many different elements and is extremely dynamic, track two “The Balance” displays this to a T. What has seemed to be your guys biggest influences for creating music?"
"All of us are big fans of aggressive music that doesn’t necessarily follow practical guidelines. So in a track like “The Balance”, it might not seem fitting to have clean guitars playing over a bouncy drum feel for a minute and a half, that abruptly transition into double kicks and drill picking. But its the contrast between those styles that allows that heavy entrance to “punches people in the face” harder than it would otherwise. Also, intense music is great, but hearing distorted guitars, fast drumming, and screaming vocals through an entire album can get to be overwhelming in my opinion. Having softer parts in our songs gives us a chance to show different styles we like to write in, and a lot of times, can also go on to inspire heavy riffs/sections we wouldn’t have normally come up with. Some of our favorite bands are Protest The Hero, The Contortionist, Between The Buried and Me, The Human Abstract, Meshuggah, and The Dillinger Escape Plan."
"What is the main concept behind your newest EP, “Roots?” Is there a storyline or specific plot?"
"Yes, Roots is a concept album about the balance between mankind and Mother Nature. The lyrics often times reference “dreams” or “vague memories” put in place to illustrate where we were “meant” to come from, and not necessarily where we “have” come from. In other words, the album addresses the type of world we’ve grown up in (especially in our generation), but also questions if this is how we were meant to live out our lives on Earth. In the album artwork, you’ll see Mother Nature looking over a body of water. The water’s surface reflects a lush forest symbolizing what Mother Nature would expect to see on the other side, when in fact it is a desolate wasteland caused by mankind. That idea is the premise for the entire album."
"Have you guys ever played in Chicago before? If so, how do you guys like playing here?"
"Yes, we’ve played Reggie’s and The Grandbar in Chicago before. The city is awesome and we love playing there. The people who come out to shows there are always welcoming."
"Pangaea’s debut EP, “Unified” was freaking massive and a pleasure to listen to. In what ways do you guys think your music has progressed from when you started to now?"
"One of the main things I hear when I look back on the Unified recordings is that we were all primarily listening to metal music during that time. On the Roots album however, its much more apparent that we are drawing from other styles of music. The majority of Roots was written shortly after college, Evan moved to New York to intern at Roadrunner Records, and Spencer and I were interning at different recording studios in Nashville. I think that being separated from one another over that time brought on new musical interests for each of us. Through online conversations and a few lengthy commutes to shows, we would share our new musical discoveries with each other, which I think opened up doors for all of us.
Two musical aspects I specifically feel I developed during that time was an appreciation for great albums from start to finish. I love listening to albums from beginning to end rather than a playlist on shuffle, but they are definitely harder to come across. The other is how much keyboard layers can affect the overall sound of a song. Its crazy how many great albums have MIDI Keyboard parts that are so often over looked. Roots definitely has more key parts than ever before and I love what it adds to the music in the recordings as well as our live performance. Mike is a big fan of Tommy Rogers of BTBAM for both is vocal style, and his abilities behind the keys. Rather than throw the key parts through a backtrack, Mike has taken on reading music and learning the key parts for both albums."
"What direction do you guys see your sound heading for upcoming releases?"
"I think we will continue to unconventionally borrow influences from other styles of music. We have all developed quite unique tastes for music recently. Mike listens to a lot of female fronted pop artists like Lana Del Rey and Purity Ring, Spencer’s been into John Williams Star Wars Original Motion Picture Soundtrack, Evan’s gotten into Eduardo Martin’s Calendario album, and I’ve been really into a few Frank Sinatra and Dave Brubeck albums. With that said, we will not lay off the HEAVINESS. There is nothing like playing heavy music in a live setting; we just want to continue putting out music we feel is authentic and new to the metal genre. With the abundance of music/bands out there, the last thing we want to do is sound like something else."
"What are Pangaea’s plans for the remainder of the year 2016?"
"We’ll be on the road as much as possible throughout the rest of the year. In August we’ll be heading out to the east coast for a week. In September we’ll be hitting a lot of new spots with our friends in Amiensus. Dates for those runs will be announced soon. As far as new music, we have just begun writing for our next release and hope to enter the studio by the end of the year."
I appreciate you guys taking the time out of your day to speak with The Metal Experience and answer a few questions to give the fans a little more incite about Pangaea.
Best of luck on your upcoming Roots Tour and future endeavors, this has been a real pleasure!
"Roots" released May 29, 2015 By Pangaea
- Sean McLennan
Vocals: Michael Dionne
Guitar: Trae Titus
Guitar: Evan Webster
Bass: Spencer Fox
Photo Courtesy Of: Chris Lotten Photography
Also Find The Band At These Links: