"Beware the darkness-"
What's going on in the 'THROUGH THE DARKNESS' world?
""It is now late November 2015, the line-up has changed and so has quality of the music. I'm perfectly content that it took us this long to record this album. We've incorporated intros, guitar solos, bass lines and even some violin that would not have been in this album if we recorded two years ago. Luckily we found the perfect studio and audio engineer to do it too. Brett Bojack, the audio engineer at Forte Studios has done an amazing job at capturing the intensity of our live performance and putting it into this record. You can hear the quality of his work in our first single "Vertigo", available on YouTube. "Paint the Walls With Purpose" will be released on Saturday, December 12th at Wooly's in Des Moines at our CD Release Party.""
NEW ALBUM 2015
"Paint the Walls With Purpose" features tracks that will melt you and tracks that will move you. The album features two guest vocalists: Zack Gathercoal, screamer for Chicago-based band "Take One For the Team" is featured on the album's heaviest track, "Sirens" and Claudia Coltrain on their revamped cover of Taylor Swift's song, "I Knew You Were Trouble". Claudia is going to school at Iowa State University for music education. She also plays keys and violin on a few other tracks on the album.
What does 'Paint the Walls With Purpose' mean?
""I didn't, myself, decide to name the album as it has been named. Ty actually suggested we name it that after looking into what the album as a whole is really about. Our music and our album as a whole are actually just a collection of random musical compositions that we decided to pitch to whoever is willing to listen. Our song 'Graffiti' states, "In the night, in numbers we surface... As we paint the walls with purpose" and that really is just a metaphor (or saying--or whatever) for that "in the night our generation comes out to give purpose for our lives no matter what it means to another individual"--that is our individualism. This is our addition to the "graffiti" or "madness" of our generation--this album is our contribution. We don't need to hope that it pleases anyone. We know it pleases those who care to listen and carry it's message in the form of music.""
THE DUNGEON: WHERE IT ALL BEGAN
In 2008, before the title "Through the Darkness" originated, guitarist Justin Saffell, lyricist Kris Gathercoal and drummer Tyler Gathercoal called themselves "Anavaren". Through the Darkness was born in the dungeon of the Gathercoal household in 2009 after Justin departed from Anavaren. Justin stepped down to start another project with our good friends Zach and Chaz Wessels called "Balizen". Soon after Justin left, Kris and Tyler picked up the guitar and started writing their own songs.
Tyler- ""The first song I wrote and finished was "Our Darkest Days", it was originally called "Through the Darkness" up until 2013 when we released our "Into the Unknown EP". We decided having a song title be the same as our band name was lazy and unoriginal, haha. Uncertainty and The Falling of a Dream were written shortly after Our Darkest Days. Vertigo and Graffiti had always been on the drawing board in the early years. Both Vertigo and Graffiti have sections that Justin wrote while he was jamming with TTD back in 2008 when they were still referred to as Anavaren.""
THE PAST: INFLUENCES, MEMBERS AND MEMORIES
After a few songs were completed and more were on the drawing board, Kris started writing lyrics for an album. Which brought up the question, "who is going to sing Kris's lyrics?". Kris and Tyler were then in search of a vocalist, another guitarist and a bass guitarist. During the search for possible members, Kris helped educate Andrew how to properly scream (with help from "The Zen of Screaming" DVD), which eventually leads Andrew into being a full-time vocalist and becoming the official third member of Through the Darkness. Matt "Mattman" Corrigan (standing right to Kris in the circle) from Perry, Iowa joined the band and filled the position on guitar and played with TTD till his departure in late 2013. Mattman had a major influence in TTD's early song writing and helped write "Like Endless Rain", "Sirens", and many more sections of other songs. In late 2011, friend Jeff Thompson (pictured all the way to the right) had started practicing with TTD to help fill the empty postions on bass and guitar. Jeff Thompson influenced sections in songs such as Vertigo and Sirens. However, Jeff only played two shows in 2011 before his departure from the band in early 2012.
Charlie Jacobson (pictured all the way to the right), a friend from highschool, filled the empty position on bass. Charlie only played a few shows with TTD in 2011 before he announced his departure. TTD entered 2012 with no bassist and no clean vocalist. However, those empty positions did not last long.
Long-time family friend, Joseph Swanson jumped on the position as full-time bassist when asked by Tyler and long-known acqaintance, Cameron Stevens started practicing with TTD and showing off his unique and talented voice. "We played our first show with both Cameron and Joe at the Vaudeville Mews on October 19th, 2012", says Tyler.
Joe addressed his departure from the band in early 2015 so he could focus on his family, new career and new home.
After Joe announced his departure, Tyler contacted old friend, Chaz Wessels. Chaz, like Joe, also went to East Greene with Kris, Tyler, Andrew and Justin. He also played in the same high school jazz band that took 2nd at the state finals in 2007 with Tyler and Joe. Tyler and Justin were great friends with Chaz before he ever joined the TTD line-up. Chaz isn't your typical "just the bassist" bassist. His bass lines and fills will stand out and will be heard throughout the entire album.
After Matt's departure in late 2013, Tyler contacted Justin Saffell to fill the available position on guitar. Justin, at that time was no longer practicing with Balizen, so he hopped on the opportunity to start playing again. Justin's second show with TTD was Lazerfest's Battle of the Bands at Wooly's in January 2014.
Joe's last show with Through the Darkness was 2015's Lazerfest at the 7-Flags Event Center in Des Moines (pictured below).
Chaz (pictured below) is the songwriter and lead guitarist in his band, Balizen. Balizen is currently in hiatus. However, Chaz and his brother Zach still plan on following through with an album of their own.
WHAT'S YOUR FAVORITE SONG TO PERFORM?
Tyler- ""My favorite song to perform.... I'd have to say Uncertainty. Not only does the crowd sing with us, it's heavy too. I love hitting the floor toms at the beginning of the song and hearing the crowd roar because they love and recognize what's about to go down. Greatest feeling in the world.""
Cameron- ""I would definitely have to say out of our originals...its gotta be Uncertainty. I love singing it and so do our fans. There's absolutely NOTHING more satisfying than hearing the crowd over power the monitor in front of you. This is why our cover of "I Knew you Were Trouble" comes in at a close second.""
Chaz- ""The Falling of a Dream because it shows off some nice bass runs and some bass tapping. Tyler and I hold it down on this tune and it also gets a great crowd response every time.""
Justin- ""Vertigo, it really seems to pump up the crowd which is why it's also one of my favorite songs to open with. We give off a lot of energy with that song and the fans give it back--not that our whole set isn't full of energy, Vertigo is just a good one to set the mood and the bar high (so to speak) for the rest of the show and it only grows from there.""
Andrew- ""My favorite songs to perform would have to be Believer and Vertigo. I was asked to only pick one song but I couldn’t pick between my top two favorites. Vertigo and Believer were both created to incorporate upbeat riffs to allow the crowd to bang their heads, jump up and down, hell--even start a circle/mosh pit. The upbeat tempos are so intense I always get an adrenaline rush that makes it impossible not to move to the music and interact with the crowd. The screaming I do for these two songs are so up and down and all around, the transitions made between high to low, low too high in our song 'Vertigo' couldn’t be anymore crisp. Between the upbeat riffs, mastering of the drums and the back and forth vocals--we created a beat that makes you want to bang your head and move. Crowd interaction is a key element that needs executed every song, both Vertigo and Believer make it very easy for us to get at least half the crowd to jump. I love Uncertainty too, the opening speech in the intro is epic... I can't wait for everyone to hear it.""
Kris- ""Believer, it's really easy to rock out too.""
WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR FAVORITE SHOW THUS FAR?
Kris- ""Lazer Battle of the Bands 2014 was by far one of the wildest shows we have played. Our home county traveled a distance with us to support us in what was probably the craziest battle of the bands in Iowa ever. That show, because of the participation of the other three bands as well as ourselves, will always be in my memory. However, nearly every upper class-men that I had ever chilled with growing up jammed to a Michael Jackson cover by Alien Ant Farm at least once while I was in their presence. When we played both our final and their final show at The House of Bricks in Des Moines, not only did I have the chance to see my band perform with a band I regularly listened to while growing up, but eventually got to sing one of my favorite songs, 'Movies' with ANT GUY (vocalist of Alien Ant Farm). He came into the crowd and picked me to share the mic with. I stood outside, alone, after this moment for quite awhile just thinking about how amazing my time as a musician had already been and in all actuality, we hadn't even come close to where we'd go yet.""
Chaz- ""The Lefty's Live Music show with 'I Prevail' has been my favorite so far. The place was packed and everyone was having a great time.""
Tyler- ""That's a hard one. We've played so many great shows with so many great crowds. We've opened for so many great bands and band's that I even jammed to in high school. Alien Ant Farm, Smile Empty Soul, Saliva and so many more. But my favorite has got to be the show we opened for Puddle of Mudd. We made a huge impression and unfortunately stole the show--due to Wes being so drunk he could not perform.. After the show, Kris, Andrew and I helped Wes find his van. We figured his band members had the keys since Wes was so bad, but we were wrong. Wes drove off doing donuts in the snow covered parking lot of the Val Air Ballroom.""
Justin- ""When we opened for Puddle of Mudd at Val-air Ballroom, it was packed! Probably the biggest crowd we've ever performed in front of to-date. The response of the crowd was amazing on stage and off. It was a blast hanging out and talking with all the fans. We won over a ton of new ones--definitely one of our top shows for sure.""
Cameron- ""I had an amaaaazing time at our series of shows in the battle of bands for LAZER 103.3. The crowd was electric and it lit us up. Every show is a blast so its hard to just choose one, but those battle shows were easily some of the most fun.""
Drew- ""My favorite show would have to be Lazerfest's Battle of the Bands in 2014 at Wooly's. It was Round II, meaning the winner of this battle got to take the stage as the openers for Lazerfest, it was between TTD, Apathy Syndrome, Dead Horse Trauma, and Green Death. It was jam packed, all you could see from the stage were people and the body heat was ridiculous but I didn't care. The best part of the show that night was the crowds reaction, there was no doubt that the crowd loved us... While waiting backstage, we heard chants of "DHT, DHT, DHT" for Dead Horse Trauma after their performance. After a few seconds, all we could hear were "TTD, TTD, TTD" chants overpowering and drowning out those of DHT's. Overall, that concert made me feel complete. That show was a dream come true, reminding me of all the potential we possess. That show made me feel like I was on top of the world. I felt all but famous the crowd applauded and yelled at the top of their lungs, admiring and appreciating our work of art performance.""
WHAT'S THE HARDEST SONG TO PERFORM?
Cameron- ""None of them are too difficult for myself, just because of the whole "I don't play an instrument thing" haha. But one of the most vocally demanding songs, as far as range goes, would have to be "Our Darkest Days". It's a crowd favorite though, so it has to be done!""
Tyler- ""Most definitely Sirens. I play some pretty complicated beats in that song, haha. It's hard to play it perfect if I'm not 100% focused on my drums. Which honestly, is hard to do at shows due to the crowd, the sound, the overall atmosphere of the event taking place. It's just a wonderful feeling that's hard to explain, but! It's not that I severely mess the song up--but this one section (that we play three times throughout the song.....) where I do this really fast tom-fill kicks my ass ocassionally and I sometimes miss a tom hit...or two.""
Chaz- ""The hardest song would be "Sirens". Not necessarily because the riffs are a little more intricate, but because there are so many changes in the songs sometimes its a struggle to make the song flow properly and have it sound tight.""
Andrew- ""It Could Be Yours' just because all the screams I do in it.....(OH!!!), hahaha. Nah, I'm messing. On a serious note, I'd say How Does Richard Taste. it's the one song that right before we play it, I think to myself "man in a few seconds I'm going to run out of breath". Reason being, within a couple breaths I have to spit out A LOT of words. It was way worse for me a year and a half ago when I was still a heavy smoker. The result of a mixture of that, the crowds body heat and stage lights is a shirt off and a lot of sweat loss, haha. I'm surprised I've never fainted on stage from heat exhaustion to be honest!""
Justin- ""Vertigo. It's probably one of the more "harder" songs for me to perform as well which I like, it keeps me on my toes. Not that its all that challenging but I have a couple of fairly intricate solos in this one, which puts my playing more in the spotlight and I stand out--so if I screw up everybody knows it , haha. But I love it, it drives me to make damn sure my chops are sharp and on point before every show.""
Kris- ""It's really not a matter of what song is hardest to perform, it's a matter of what IS simple to perform after Sirens.""
WHAT SONG MEANS THE MOST TO YOU?
Tyler- ""The Falling of a Dream and It Could Be Yours. I was the primary song writer for both of these tunes. Kris wrote a majority of the lyrics for 'Falling' and I wrote nearly all of 'It Could Be Yours'. These two songs were inspired by two of my dad's poems that he wrote when he was in his late teens/early twenties and that's another reason these two songs mean so much to me. Being able to incorporate these two poems into our album is one way to show him appreciation for all the things he has done for us over the years.""
Andrew- ""Believer is my favorite song, not because the instrumental parts but because of the lyrics. It's pretty much our damn theme song in my eyes, "I know you, you don't believe in me or my dreams but I'll keep dreaming". There are people out there that don't believe in us as and think TTD has no potential, I'm living my dream every time I hit that stage, the adrenaline takes control and I go to town on some vocals. Singing/Screaming that song on stage makes me feel like a beast and that I'm trying to relay a message to the ones that don't believe in us. Hey, I've made it this far and I'm only moving forward from here.""
Kris- ""Just having the courage to get on a stage in front of hundreds of people playing an instrument that can easily be played incorrectly during a live performance while letting someone sing words that I've composed just proves the point of "Uncertainty". Either that or 'Our Darkest Days' for sure.""
HOW MUCH TIME DOES RECORDING A FULL-LENGTH ALBUM TAKE?
""This all depends on how prepared your band is. Unless your engineer is brand new--the engineer should be able to give you a rough estimate. However, external conflicts create delays and bad luck definitely plays a roll (in our case), haha. We recorded at Sound Farm probably a total of 50 hours for five songs. We recorded 13 songs at Forte Studios in Boone and it took a hell of a lot longer than 10 hours a song. Not only does the musician take up time, so does the engineer.
Brett at Forte Studios is great at what he does. He is very passionate about recording, mixing and mastering and his work ethic proves it. If you can tell the difference between our "Into the Unknown EP" and our single 'Vertigo' off of our upcoming album 'Paint the Walls With Purpose', Brett took his time and made sure EVERYTHING was perfect. Ultimately, the time it takes to record an album can vary a lot, but it all depends on how prepared you are. Most of us work full-time or part-time jobs so finding studio time wasn't easy, so it took a little longer than we anticipated. We started recording drums in May and here we are in November and we just finished vocals.
"Vertigo", recorded at Forte Studios in Boone, Iowa
""Don't rush quality. Don't create deadlines you can't make. Don't waste your time and money going into the studio unprepared--you're just going to go back to the studio, spend more money, and re-record everything you just did.""
WHAT'S THE BEST/WORST THING ABOUT RECORDING AN ALBUM?
Cameron- ""Best: Getting a refined clean set of tracks that everyone, who already loves you live and raw, can listen to anywhere they have a CD player or AUX port. Worst: The time and discipline it requires. It can be an eye opener and really show you the weaknesses you MUST work on in order to successfully carry on a career in music. It's not a line of work for the unmotivated.""
Kris- ""No one likes the pessimist of the group and apparently that might be me.""
Andrew- ""Best thing about going to studio are the awkward subjects/conversations me and our sound engineer talk about from time to time usually resulting in some sort of weird/funny YouTube video. (Brett Coljack? Is that his name?) Brett is a pretty awesome dude and by far is one of the easiest people to get along with. Bret knows his work of study and has proved to me he knows exactly what he's doing. Another pro to studio time is the extra effort given to pronouncing words so they sound like the word they’re supposed to be. Being a screamer you stumble upon words sometimes that seem nearly impossible to pronounce. While you’re trying to conduct one of 3 techniques make sure to always warm up that vox box and to remember if you start to feel any harshness in your throat STOP immediately!!! The worst thing about studio time or even band practice itself is finding time for it... As individuals, outside the band we all have jobs and half of us have kids. It's an extremely stressful life style especially when u sacrifice nights away from your children just to have a show, go to studio, and even go to junction for practice. The worst part about the actual recording process itself is how many times you must perfectly repeat the same phrase in a song just to make sure you have enough takes that are as close to perfection as possible.""
Chaz- ""The best thing about recording an album would be just getting together as a band to get the best recording as possible. And Brett has been awesome to work with, he's such a cool dude. The down side is that not everyone agrees on things and that can prolong songs getting finished. It can create a "too many chefs in the kitchen" type scenario.""
Tyler- ""My favorite thing about recording this album was having the opportunity to participate in the entire process. Especially being the drummer and manager, I am there from the very beginning figuring out tempos, measures, time signature changes and so much more. Listening back to the raw tracks of guitars, drums and vocals makes you realize and appreciate how important the recording, mixing and mastering process is. I love recording and performing, but this experience was a blast. It was a priviledge to work so closely with Brett. Brett is very passionate and professional when it comes to the music he produces. I came into Forte Studios barely knowing Brett and now he is one of my better friends. My worst experience in the studio was Sirens--go figure...haha! I thought I had the correct tempos at the correct amount of measures but man I was way off! But we figured it out an hour and a half later!""
Justin- ""Hearing it all come together, throwing ideas around to try and make the best album you can, and listening to the finished product of all the hard work that went into it. It's very gratifying to me and I imagine its more so to the members that have seen it all through from the beginning. The worst thing about it is that it can get very tedious and boring at times--especially when you're not the one recording! But it's well worth it!""
WHY DID YOU CHOOSE FORTE STUDIOS?
""We were actually planning on finishing our full-length album at Sound Farm Studios, but the engineer there had planned on moving on to bigger and better things--so that left us with the question... Where to go now? We sent out a few emails to local studios to see what they could do for us. Joshua Jacobsen (owner) and Brett Bojack at Forte Studios were extremely accomodating and confident that they could produce us a great sounding ablum for a fair price. After Brett re-mixed our song 'Uncertainty' from our EP, we submitted his re-mix to the 2015 Lazerfest Battle of the Bands--not only did we win, we were SOLD! We were then confident that Brett and Forte Studios was our new home for the next couple months.""
SO MANY PEOPLE WONDER HOW PERFORMERS CAN SCREAM AN ENTIRE SET AND TALK CLEARLY AFTERWORDS, EXPLAIN HOW YOU CAN DO IT, ANDREW.
""There are three original techniques that need to be practiced, mastered, and performed in order to scream correctly and not damage your vocal chords and throat. These techniques are used nationwide by millions of artists, huge or small, local or national. I’ve been practicing the art of screaming since 2008, so as of today's date 11/15/15 it's been 7 years since I started learning these techniques that I’ve proven to be work very well (for myself). The three techniques provided with enough substantial evidence to be considered vocal talents are the following Inhale, Fry, and Death. I mostly use Fry now with the exception of some death lows that targeted in the right place creates a huge drop that gets that crowd going wild .
When I initially started learning this vocal talent I was 14 and a freshman in high school. Drinking about 2 jugs, if not more of water a day to make sure my vocal chords, throat and body stayed hydrated. Hydration is a key factor that plays a huge role in anything that has to do with your vocal chords. I started off inhale screaming which is known for being the most harmful on your vocal chords. After learning inhales (which are the worst for attempting the pronouncement of words), I moved on to the next technique known as fry.
Getting more involved with the exhale type of screams, I noticed the major difference between the power provided by exhales compared to inhales. Fry is by far way more powerful then inhales and has proven to be the most beneficial, making Fry my technique of choice. Inhales and fry are used for just about the same range of pitches/tones.
If mastered and learned correctly through lots of practice and hard work, screaming will not damage or hurt your vocal chords. Conducting screams by using the diaphragm to push up the air and out of your mouth creates the monster like noise. It honestly takes a lot of water drinking and a lot of hard work. But it turns out that if you give the effort, the hard work should prevail and talent will be received. After months and months of practice it legitimately starts to become a "second nature".""
WHAT IS GOING TO MAKE THE SECOND ALBUM DIFFER FROM THE FIRST?
Chaz- ""I think Justin and myself will have alot to do with the 2nd album differing from the 1st simply because Tyler and Kris had these songs for years and pretty much finished and ready to record. Justin and I had very little to do with the writing of "Paint the Walls With Purpose'.""
Justin- ""There really is no ONE direction I'm going with the writing process. When we do sit down to write album two--which is something we plan on doing very soon, I'm going to let it take me wherever it takes me at the time. I do have a handful of songs already written but after the rest of the band puts their flavor on it--it could sound completely different, so there isn't really any definitive answer right now. But what I can say is its definitely going to be different while still retaining the TTD sound we are known for. Everyone in the band has only gotten better. We have progressed a lot and are a lot more seasoned when it comes to writing, so expect big things!""
WHAT DOES THE FUTURE HAVE IN STORE FOR THROUGH THE DARKNESS?
""A lot of change, while staying true to the meaning of TTD and what we stand for. I think our sound will experience some adjustments as we all continue to mature and experiment. The crowd will have a lot more to sing/scream along to while the people shaking the mosh pit will have more to get crazy to. You wont want to miss a beat.""
-Cameron Shelby Stevens