If you are one of those people who hits a lot of Metal shows and has kept this practice up over the past two years most specifically then the band Into Eternity should come as no surprise to you. I remember that I first caught them when they opened for Amorphis in 2005 and since that time feel that I have seen them perform about ten additional times. Statistically they are closing in on some bands that I have supported my entire life based on the amount of gigs that I attend and find them appearing on. During their most recent visit to New York City as the direct support for Germany’s Ed Guy I managed to catch up with band founder and guitarist Tim Roth along with lead singer Stu Block. Having met a number of times before we chose to cover a lot of different topics about music, touring, band life and also decided to have a few laughs with each other. Below is the transcription of our entire conversation for your enjoyment.
PiercingMetal: We are sitting here talking to Into Eternity, backstage at the B.B. King Blues Club & Grill and it’s always great to see you guys on tour and since we have all interacted for a couple of years now lets go back in time a little bit. To my knowledge the rollercoaster of musical activity began with your appearance on the tour that Amorphis was doing a few years ago. Would you tend to agree with me on that?
Tim Roth: Ooh I like where this is going already so yes we were in Europe at the time and we couldn’t get anything in the states and even though we had toured the states before it was just in these one-off festivals like the Prog-Powers and the Milwaukee Metal Fests and the Minnesota Metal Fest and the Kataklysm tour but we couldn’t get anything else going. So when we were in Europe they asked us to do that Amorphis tour and as soon as we kicked ass on that it sort of kick started everything.
PiercingMetal: Stu you wanna add anything in here, and please feel free to do that as we continue.
Stu Block: Yeah well this is when I joined in and of course I wasn’t over in Europe as Dean was singing for them at that time but yeah, then I joined on and with that first tour we really didn’t know what was going to happen in the future right and it just came back as the year 2005 was a really busy one for us and it really broke us over the edge. Now we are here as direct support for EdGuy – NOT OPENING UP for EdGuy (laughs)
PiercingMetal: Did you have a sense that something special was being set in motion as you found yourself appearing on concert bill after concert bill at that time.
Tim Roth: Yes and I thought people were either going to hate our guts or its going to go over good. It did take a few tours to win people over but even after that first Amorphis tour I could sense that people are going to “get” our band because it was a fresh lineup and we were touring, but we needed a new album which we did in 2006 and now we could continue that trend of lots of tours like we did in 2005.
PiercingMetal: I don’t think too many people hated seeing you again and again but of course the flyers for the shows used to list your appearances as “yes it is” – “we have band X, band Y, band Z and yes of course who else could it be”.
Tim Roth: You know the US has such a big market and there are 300 million people in the states so I think that while sure some people would have seen us too much there’s always another person who’s never seen us and that’s the way it goes so too bad for those people.
PiercingMetal: They clearly missed out.
Stu Block: Yeah but we were a little scared at first thinking are we going to overplay ourselves because at that point we hadn’t really how big the scene was and as soon as we were going out on tour after tour we were meeting new people all the time and it certainly wasn’t hurting us.
PiercingMetal: These were a lot of interesting tours as well because you would find yourself on this almost Gothic Doom Metal band tour and then you found yourself on a totally Death Metal tour and after that it was a Power Metal tour . It was never something similar so anyways, as is the case in most bands and the wonderful life that it is you have had to deal with the unplanned change in membership roster.
Tim Roth: I don’t know what you mean by that because out band has been one of the few to have the same lineup from the beginning of our career.
PiercingMetal: Come on you guys are a Metal Allman Brothers (everyone laughs)
Tim Roth: I figure as long as the core members of the band are there then we are good to go.
PiercingMetal: Well what led me to the question was that a couple of them were very surprising and happening while on the road or just after getting home from a tour that completed – did you find that this strengthened the resolve for the tasks at hand.
Stu Block: With the lineup changes? Oh yeah definitely because every time there was a lineup change it did nothing but good for the band. Just better people coming in and more “like-minded” people more than anything who actually wanted to tour and wanted to be there. I think that this is the whole part of being in a constantly touring act is that it makes or breaks you, as both a person and a musician. It really makes you sit down and think do I really want to do this or is this what I want to do with my life. So with each lineup change its as I said before we got each person who was both a dedicated and a great musician.
PiercingMetal: Tim do you want to add to this.
Tim Roth: No, I agree 100% with Stu, even though he is looking to see if that’s correct (laughs heartily because Stu is making a face now) – he’s seen more people than most
Stu Block: I just answered the question.
Tim Roth: I’m good with it and was telling Stu with my mind, we communicate without speaking.
PiercingMetal: Ah so this is a total democracy then Tim, whatever you think is the way it goes. He is the puppet master…..
Stu Block: Hang on Ken we’re talking like this right now. OK Tim that works.
Tim Roth: Good, so now where were we. (Laughs)
PiercingMetal: Why did you ask him if he was wearing underwear? (Laughs). So anyways, back to business. “The Scattering Of Ashes” has been receiving a tremendous amount of acclaim over the several months that it has been available. Would it be safe to say that this is the bands signature work to date?
Tim Roth: Yeah well that depends because for me it is but if you are a fan and you picked us up on “Dead Or Dreaming” then that is the album that you are always going to like and if we follow it up with anything else it might not be as good. I was talking to some kids last night who said to me that they had just heard of us on “Scattering” and that it’s their favorite so now they were going to go get the other ones. So to them “Scattering Of Ashes” is the best one. For us, we were just on fire and we weren’t going to tour a lot that year so we did this album and were able to do a full aggressive album and now we’ve decided that we wanted to tour a lot in 2007. I like the album a lot and we got two videos from it and its our biggest selling album so far.
Stu Block: This is my first album and I was chomping at the bit a little bit before wondering how it was going to be received. We were really happy when there was a positive reception to the album and the new lineup so yeah that’s pretty much it.
PiercingMetal: So getting to the lineup, how did you come to decide on your no longer new members Steve Bolognese and Justin Bender and now with them on tour with you for several months would you say you found the lineup that you have wanted in the band for awhile.
Tim Roth: No definitely not because these guys are really lacking in a lot of areas but we are doing the best we can with them and that’s all we can do.
Stu Block: It’s like having pieces of unformed putty we really have to do what we can to form them into something.
PiercingMetal: So we have some Silly Putty and Play Doh with this.
Tim Roth: Well we used to see that Steve would always bug the hell out of us in Worchester – he used to come up to us and be like “listen guys I know all your songs” and I was like yeah, sure you do because everyone says that. “I know all your songs” but he actually did know all the songs but I didn’t know that he really did until he started air-drumming pretty much everything. It made me say that while this guys seems a bit crazy he does know the stuff. Justin happened to be in another band that we used to play local shows with outside of Regina, and he moved to Regina and he said the same thing about his learning all the songs. He had learned all the stuff while we were on the Gigantour, so after that had completed we got him. It was a goal of ours to have someone who had hair in the band again. It’s why we got Justin – it wasn’t his playing ability it was actually because he had some hair.
Stu Block: Actually I gave Tim an ultimatum.
PiercingMetal: So people are starting to realize that Stu is actually wearing a wig now?
Tim Roth: Yes. (laughs)
Stu Block: Noooooooooooooooooooo! (scream, laughs, etc). Oh well…..
PiercingMetal: All this sarcasm is going to be so hard to type you know.
Tim Roth: We don’t call it a wig; we call it a “piece”.
PiercingMetal: A “piece” of raccoon. See, its good you’re giving me a chance to get back at him now.
Stu Block: That’s why I’m shutting up now. You guys just talk.
Tim Roth: So yeah it’s all working out really well.
PiercingMetal: Readers, this is all just fun, the new band members are welcomed and Stu’s hair is his own.
Stu Block: Yes, the bottom line is its real members, real hair.
PiercingMetal: Let’s talk about Gigantour. How was that experience for the band and do u have some stories that you can share with us?
Tim Roth: Oh the whole tour was great because it was our first arena tour and of course meeting Dave Mustaine and stuff. He would help Stu out like when he got sick he took him into his room to rest. He was like a super nice guy on that tour. The full catering setup and having Lamb Of God come into our dressing room to give us props about how we did on stage and Hank Overkill helping us out on that tour. So many things happened on that tour that it was just a roller coaster and one of the most fun tours that we had ever done that’s for sure.
Stu Block: We made a lot of good friends and all.
Tim: And then it opened up the doors for us to get on more tours because that kind of gave us some cred you know. Then when we did those few off-shows with Megadeth which were smaller club shows and we were hand picked by Mustaine so that was just awesome. It was just an amazing experience. An incredible time and a great way to kick off the “Scattering” album.
PiercingMetal: Then you guys moved on to Dream Theater which was apparently the secret that you wouldn’t tell me about that last time we met (at the Haunted/Dark Tranquillity show). I was actually glad you didn’t tell me because that would have been hard to keep a secret. Not to disclose in press but just the cool “guess what I know” to some friends kind of thing.
Tim Roth: I remember that, and yeah it’s the kind of thing you want to tell everyone. They’re one of the reasons that we even formed the band and a lot of our sound came from them directly. So it was cool to actually get to tour with them. We thought that A: it would never happen and B: that they weren’t too big on taking out opening bands to begin with but thank god for Portnoy he is just the man. He totally hooked us up and he just emailed me the other day with thanks again for doing the tour and he even sent me photos. He takes the time out of his own day just to reconnect. What a nice guy.
PiercingMetal: He comes across as a very different individual which is a rarity because you know when you do this life that you meet a lot of different people and their respective personalities and while for the most part people seem ok there is always one or two who are a little caught up in themselves and believe their own hype. I find that someone like Portnoy is always a refreshing change to that type of person. It’s really great to hear from you guys that he was really down for the band and out to support you is awesome. I even heard that he had tried to help out the band Beatallica, who informed me of this when I saw them a few weeks ago. He was like a grassroots campaign for them in some sense.
Stu Block: It’s great to have that kind of power behind you and with someone with a positive attitude it’s just brilliant.
Tim Roth: It’s too bad more musicians weren’t like that because could you imagine a guy like Axl Rose and the good things that he could do or whoever the case may be, guys in that position – the power that they actually have. It’s cool that Mike uses it for good and not evil.
PiercingMetal: So are there any real stories that you can tell about those shows and that tour that come to mind.
Tim Roth: Everything. Oh God there are so many things that happened during that tour like Stu wearing wrinkled shirts and James LaBrie stopped him from wearing it onstage.
Stu Block: He said that I couldn’t wear a wrinkly shirt onstage so he made me march to my RV and fuckin’ change – it was pretty funny and there were other things like that. You know we would be sitting at catering and again Mike and the guys would sit down and eat dinner with us and chit chat. They wouldn’t just go sit at another table and be on their laptops while eating dinner like every other person we’ve dealt with. Hanging out with us and talking, because they are real people.
Tim Roth: Petrucci would ask me to check out his guitars and ask me during sound check if we had a chance to play his guitars because the offer is open for us to try them. During the last sound check they told us that they would play any song for us so we asked them to play “Pull Me Under”. So then they play “Pull Me Under” which was perfect and then they would speed it up a bit and then slow it down and all of them were doing this together perfectly which made the whole song seem like it was breathing. The most insane thing that I – well, I mean that they are so good that they can just pull that shit off. It’s one thing to be able to play one of your own songs but its another thing entirely when you can move your tempos like that. It’s mind boggling and they are the most insane band that I have ever seen. Nobody is as good on their instruments as Dream Theater nobody. I have never seen anyone that good even Death Metal bands – no one.
PiercingMetal: I remember a time when people said they were never going to last and here we are now…
Tim Roth: Yeah they told us stories where they would play in New Orleans and there would be like ten people there and they said that some shows that we played when the audience was just staring at us; they told us that the same thing had happened to them. Because when you are trying to do something that is a little weird or different it takes some people a little longer to get it. I mean you “got it” right away but not everyone does. Portnoy told us the same thing happened to them and didn’t get their band and boom they blew up.
PiercingMetal: I have to admit that I was a little bit disappointed to find out that you guys were actually starting the show off as opposed to Redemption and of course this is my personal vibe on it. Because in my eyes as someone who attends a lot of Metal shows I felt that you guys had done the work already. Did you mind being the first ones up?
Tim Roth: No, not for a Dream Theater tour. Put us on anytime and we’ll play.
Stu Block: No, we are not “that” band; we are definitely not that band who would complain about slots. “oh we sold more albums so we should be in this slot”.
Tim Roth: It doesn’t always work that way. Plus Ray Alder is like a legendary singer. I used to listen to Fates Warning before Dream Theater actually and Fates Warning was also a big influence on our band to get Progressive Music. So for Ray alone I think that he deserves that spot. I couldn’t see Ray Alder opening up for us.
PiercingMetal: I agree in some sense but like many felt that while he is who he is, the band is note Fates Warning and this is instead his new thing. I read that some folks had issues with him walking off stage every five minutes which I didn’t like either. Of course this was just my own vibe and some others I spoke to and I am certainly not looking to find you smacking anybody down.
Tim Roth: No not at all, and I can understand the question of course. Originally we were set up as direct support and then we ended up getting bumped but then at the end of the day I was thinking that we cant be mad at something like that because you are still out with Dream Theater.
PiercingMetal: You guys have toured with EdGuy once before as the opener and now it is as you said “direct support” for the band. How does it feel to be on the road with Tobias and the guys once again?
Stu Block: You know its good, its fun and it’s definitely a different situation for us because we are a little more mature now and we can deal with situations better now than we were able to when we were doing this a couple of years ago.
Tim Roth: I was excited mostly.
Stu Block: I’m really trying to dance around with this stuff here.
PiercingMetal: So Tim was trying to give you that mental signal again?
Tim Roth: It’s a fun tour so far and we’re having a great time. Russell Allen came last night (Symphony X for those who don’t know who he is, and shame if that’s the case) and he got so trashed, we all hung out and he is so funny. He was going off last night.
PiercingMetal: Yeah he is a great dude to hang out with. So what’s the status on new songs or have you even written anything yet. Are you guys composing while on the road? Do you ever really stop composing?
Tim Roth: Yeah that’s exactly it, because even if you not composing you find that you are writing a riff or maybe a lyric in a book or something. So I guess technically you are always doing a little bit of writing.
Stu Block: I live below Tim so I can attest to this, I hear him writing stuff all the time. It’s cool because I can hear all the melodies as they are being thought of.
PiercingMetal: You need to be like Fred Mertz and go up and yell at him every once in awhile.
Tim Roth: Yeah he can use the broom handle to knock on the ceiling.
PiercingMetal: How the hell do you think I can sing that!!!!
Stu Block: To be honest Ken after we did the “Scattering” album we did do the tour but Tim never stops writing the stuff and he is always kind of doing his thing.
Tim Roth: Well for me its just fun stuff for me to do. I’ll pick up my guitar and even if I am supposed to practice scales or something, maybe I will just write a riff anyway. So you are always doing it for sure and we actually already have half an album ready to go with like titles and lyrics even.
PiercingMetal: Any chance of a live performance DVD or something that is career spanning from the beginning until now.
Tim Roth: I would love to see something like that and I would buy that DVD.
Stu Block: Maybe next year or something.
Tim Roth: We just need a budget from Century Media because we would have to do it pro and I would want a bunch of cameras and also include bootleg material like from a camcorder. I’ve got tons of old material and even studio stuff from like 1997 when we were demoing songs for the studio – tons of stuff.
PiercingMetal: Now remember while I’m saying “career-spanning” and while the band has only been around for – not forever, there is a lot of stuff that you guys have been up to that most other bands would not have been able to do. You’ve been fortunate enough to have a lot of great experiences and that would make for some interesting viewing.
Tim Roth: Yes half of the stuff we have forgotten already.
Stu Block: Well, we could refer back to some of the video for that.
PiercingMetal: How interested in a headlining spot are you at this stage? If you could do it, who would you want to have on the road with you. Is this even the bands choice?
Tim Roth: It is our choice but it’s also I guess a choice of the bands because there’s also egos to deal with and we want to do a headlining thing next year – we would have to pick bands that wouldn’t mind being direct support or opening. That is always the catch. If we had to do a tour and could do some sort of co-headlining thing I would like to go out with Three Inches Of Blood.
Stu Block: Oh yeah, Three Inches would be at the top of the list.
Tim Roth: So yes we do want to do our own headlining tour next year and for that we would probably want to take some smaller bands out to have a cool package. I know that Echoes Of Eternity said that they would like to go out again someday.
Stu Block: They’re cool people and they seem to be up and coming too.
Tim Roth: We are going to do a headlining tour and do small clubs – it’s in our plan.
PiercingMetal: Have you guys seen the Taiwanese band Chthonic?
Tim Roth: Yeah we played with Chthonic, we have the same management.
PiercingMetal: Who do you find influencing Into Eternity or is there even such a thing nowadays?
Tim Roth: Its not as much as when I was a kid but I like the new Symphony X album because its amazing and the new Dream Theater album. Even these new bands like Echoes Of Eternity – I like this kind of stuff and some of the other new stuff that’s coming up but there’s not a lot of bands that really twitch my ear. My favorite album of the year so far is the Symphony X album.
Stu Block: I kinda like the new Symphony X album as well but I am kinda into, well what’s influencing me right now as a vocalist and that’s what’s going to bring this to a different level is this band called Lost Horizon, now their not around anymore and I don’t know if you’ve heard of them. They are a Swedish Power Metal band and they have this amazing singer called Daniel Heiman and he sings higher than me and now he has this new band called Heed and they are mixing up the Death Metal vocals with the Power Metal vocals and it’s so cool. For me as a vocalist it’s really influencing me to do different things and hit higher notes and stuff. I really urge everyone if you’re into Power Metal and stuff to check out the two albums that they did. They’re no longer a band anymore with Daniel Heiman, but they’re still a band that I think are looking for a singer for about a year. It’s really tough to top this guy.
Tim Roth: That new Iced Earth is pretty cool too. Tim Owens did a really great job, and john’s riffing is like really staccato and all.
PiercingMetal: You have to listen to that one as a full piece. Not skipping around.
Tim Roth: We’ve listened to it as one piece a couple of times on the way here and I don’t know what it is but they just sound a little different this time.
PiercingMetal: Schaffer certainly did not let anybody down and anyone who wondered how it would come out has been surprised.
Tim Roth: We aren’t listening to a lot of Death Metal anymore but our riffing is still aggressive and that’s just because of our roots I am thinking.
PiercingMetal: OK so you said we have a potential chance at a headlining tour coming down the road.
Tim Roth: New album next year and also the first album re-released. So there will be a couple of things released next year.
PiercingMetal: That already sounds like a lot of promising things happening for Into Eternity. Now we spoke briefly on this how you said you have guitar players coming up to you Tim and Stu you obviously have singers coming up to you and drummers for whatever reason I dunno.
Tim Roth: That was awesome I like how you slid that in.
PiercingMetal: Obviously you know the picture perfect road experience is not what we watch on TV
Tim Roth: I got the question last night and I know what you are going to ask.
PiercingMetal: So what do you say to the younger musician who wants to do this?
Tim Roth: I try to be honest because if I would have known exactly how the business is I don’t know if I would really had gone into it. Now I’m kind of hooked into it and our band is actually doing something different. So the main thing is to try and do something a little different and not to copy other bands because if you copy a trend, well trends come and go and then your bands done. So if you’re going to do it I think perseverance is the only thing and if you lose members you keep going, and you have to tour, tour, tour, tour – you can’t sit at home and wait for it to come to you. If you tour, persevere and change members or whatever you gotta go just keep on the road and try and write a little bit of original music. I think that it’s the only thing you can do out there because there’s too many bands and everything is saturated and so much sounds the same it’s brutal.
Stu Block: Yeah he pretty much hit the nail on the head.
Tim Roth: And try to sing actually because I think the actual singing is a lost thing right now.
Stu Block: It was one of the things we were talking to Russell about last night and he was saying that at this level there don’t seem to be any singers out there. When he saw us he was like thank god there is a band that can growl and can sing properly.
Tim Roth: Yeah where are the front men nowadays where are those guys?
Stu Block: There are out there but they’re afraid to come out right now because of the over saturation of all this other stuff. They’re afraid that they will be laughed at but I urge anyone out there if they can hit falsettos and do Death vocals to try it out. Start a band because that is the next step, the wave of the future.
PiercingMetal: That all brings me to the end of the line of questioning I set up for you both – thanks for always being an exciting Metal experience and continuing to support one of the more prolific Metal albums of 2006.
The guys went off to do some other interviews and to prepare themselves for the show at that point.
Official Website: http://www.intoeternity.net