First of All: Congratulations to your album. “The Stars of Never Seen” Is again a fantastic Metal Album. Are you satisfied with the Album in all the Detail, and what are your expectations for this Album?
Dan: Yes I am extremely satisfied; we created an album that I like to listen to! That’s right, I like to pop in the CD and listen to it, that’s how I know we made a great album! Haha!!
Michael: We really hope to break the fog and saturation of there being so many bands. We want to stand out. We hope people will give this record a good bunch of listens and understand what we do.
Let’s have a closer look to your new Album now. As I already mentioned in my Review, the whole Album is 100% Crescent Shield, but you added some more epic and progressive Elements this time as well. Due to that the Songs sound a bit more complex. Do you agree with that, and what are the differences between “The Stars of Never Seen” and “The last of my Kind”?
Dan: Yes you are exactly right. The songs on this album are more complex and unorthodox. The arrangements are quite different from the type we did on the first album. Most of the songs don’t follow a typical song structure. The new album is also darker, faster, more epic and more experimental. But still it is very melodic; you just need a little extra time to let the melodies sink in. Also the production is heavier and fatter.
Michael: We intended the album to be a “Grower” if you will. It’s better to enjoy an album the more you listen to it instead of getting bored with it. We are the anti one hit wonder!!
Who is mainly involved in the Songwriting Process? - Did you write all the Songs together as Band, or wrote each member for itself? How does the Songwriting Process proceed in general?
Dan: Michael and I write and arrange all the songs including the bass and drums, then the other members change their parts to make it more their own and better. Typically I come up with riffs and arrangement and Michael does the lyrics and vocal melodies. This is how we did ‘The Grand Horizon, ‘Temple of the Empty’, ‘The Endurance’, ‘The Bellman’, and Lifespan.’ Sometimes Mike will write the guitar riffs – yes a singer who can’t play guitar writes the guitar riffs - and basically the whole song like ‘My Anger’ or I will do the whole song like ‘Tides of Fire.’
Michael: Singing riffs to Dan can be a challenge and sometimes tedious but in the end it’s cool that I can let the melodies in my head out to the world. It’s fun.
Legendary Bill Metoyer acted as your Producer (Who, in my opinion, did a great Job). What was his influence on the Album? - Did he have some good hints which had positive influence on the Result of the Album?
Dan: Bill was great! Bill recorded the drums and helped us mix the record. He also mastered the album. Michael and I were the producers and we had the final decision on everything.
Some Songs e.g. “The Bellman” are far away from being catchy at first sight in any way. Although it is a great Song: Aren’t you frightened that somebody, who listens to it (or the whole Album) too superficial, could be worried about “The Stars of Never Seen” in some way?
Dan: Well yes. We worried about this very thing. But ultimately we loved the album and we can only hope others love it too. We can’t try to make an album we think people might like. We can’t guess. We can only make an album that we know we like. That’s the only way we’ll be happy anyway.
Michael: I have never been “Frightened” by the reactions. I always know there will be some mixed press. The real reward comes when those people who first did not like or “get” out music come up to us down the road and say it is “album of the year” or something to that effect. That is when it is truly satisfying.
My personal favorite is “Temple of the Empty”. Which is your personal favorite on “The Stars of Never Seen”? - And why?
Dan: “The Endurance” is my favorite and it has been my favorite since it first recorded in demo form. This song is just magical for me. It’s the longest, most epic song we have done and it has great emotional impact. It’s based on Ernest Shackleton’s failed Antarctic expedition in 1914. He and his crew had to survive on the frozen continent for over a year after their ship was crushed and swallowed by the ice. I have a great interest in survival stories. I wrote the music little by little as I was reading the book, also called “The Endurance”. I tried to write and arrange the song so it told the story through music. When it was complete, I gave the book to Mike and told him to read it because I wanted “this song to be based on this book”. Mike came up with inspiring lyrics but what was really amazing was that the events depicted in the lyrics naturally matched up with what I envisioned each section of music to be about. So we were perfectly in synch. I feel like I must have done something right when I wrote the music if Mike was feeling it the same way I was.
Michael: You know “Temple…” is my favorite right now too. It is so musically rich and interesting to listen to due to it having so many layers.
The Lyrics are always of interest: Is there a lyrical Concept or what do the Lyrics Deal with this time?
Michael: I always liked albums that have connected themes. “Last Of My Kind” was not thematic at all cause each song was different. With this record, I got to really delve into themes of exploration, travel, life journeys and how the passage of time can affect us. Even though each song stands alone as their own topics, they kinda meld into a greater theme of discoveries and adventures that makes the record a whole piece.
Two more questions about the new Album, before I like to switch to more common Topics: First one is about the Cover. Once again you have chosen this Comic Style. Seems you have an affinity to Comics or Japanese Manga in special. Who is responsible for the Cover Artwork, and where is the Relation between Music and the Cover Artwork from your point of view?
Dan: We use Gerry Alanguilan again to do the cover. He did the first album also. I found him on the web and lucky for us he was one of the only comic artists who was willing to do the album cover. The “Stars” cover takes elements of the first two songs from the album and combines them into one illustration. We wanted it to capture the darker mood of the music and also illustrate the theme of the record – and I think Gerry did it! We are really excited about the packaging and the killer wraparound cover. It’s a fun CD to look at.
Michael: And to bring the fun back of sitting down with the booklet, reading the lyrics and enjoying the artwork. I still do that with new CD’s I buy. I can’t stand people who just download songs onto a tiny digital chip and not even know the song titles, the purpose of the sequence, or any of the art. I am all for the tangible.
And the last one is about the Bonus DVD: From my point of view you played an outstanding Show on last Years Edition of ‘Keep it True’ Festival. It seems you have very pleasant memories to it. Who decided to release it as Bonus DVD on the Limited Edition of “The Stars of Never Seen”?
Michael: Our label came up with the idea. We were a bit nervous at first but it came out killer! It’s also great because we are not really a touring band so this gives a chance for people to check out our live side. (Complete with a bass strap blooper or two! Hehe)
Switching to more common Topics. In the very beginning Crescent Shield was more or less a Side-Project by you and Michael but quickly grew up being your Main Project now. Tell our readers a little bit about the History of Crescent Shield.
Dan: I originally had a few songs I didn’t think would work out as Destiny’s End songs so I asked Mike to sing on them. It was just for fun really. It’s more serious now but really it’s still mostly for fun. We just love making metal and writing songs together.
Michael: When Onward died there was a void left in me. (Dan too with Destiny’s End I’m sure) We were so lucky that Craig and Melanie were here with us in LA and excited to turn Crescent Shield into a living breathing force of metal. These past years with the Shield have been the most fun and satisfying in my career. No more side projects, no more musical differences bullshit. With the Shield I have found a home.
You are labeled with so much different descriptions for your music. For example, I read “Traditional US-Metal” or “Epic Power Metal” …. How would you describe (or label) your music to someone who has never heard about Crescent Shield?
Dan: I usually call us “traditional melodic metal.” Melody has a huge emphasis in our music; Mike is a master craftsman when it comes to composing melody lines! And we certainly are not modern sounding. We don’t have a modern production style. A more traditional, organic sound is what we like. We don’t want to be too traditional though – we don’t want to sound like another band or rewrite old riffs. We are trying to take a fresh approach.
Michael: Yea. If we were to describe ourselves as being “80’s traditional, progressive melodic thrash doom like metal with touches of Keeper era Helloween, Omen, old Fates Warning and influences of king Diamond, Mozart, Led Zeppelin / Jethro Tull / Rush-ish like dark Jazzfusion” It just gets silly. I will say that we have a very American metal sound. One that seems to be missed.
Which Bands are inspirations for you personally, and as an influence for Crescent Shield as a Band?
Dan: Oh I am inspired by all kinds of music – metal and otherwise. For this album in particular some of the influences were Iron Maiden, Enslaved, Ritchie Blackmore, Jeff Beck, John Scofield, Virgil Donati / On the Virg, & Fates Warning.
Michael: For me it is about the singers. Geoff Tate, Warrel Dane, Ronny James Dio, Bobby “Blitz” Ellsworth, Bruce Dickinson…you get the idea.
Are there any new Bands which impressed you, let’s say during the last few Months (or the last year)?
Dan: I can’t think of many new bands but here are some bands whose recent albums I like a lot: Enslaved, Cynic, Slough Feg, Hammers of Misfortune, Insomnium, King’s X, Sahg, Opeth, and Pharaoh.
Michael: Pharaoh put out a masterpiece! I like the new Heaven and Hell, bits or the latest Manowar, and Warrel Dane’s Solo album to name a few.
Dan: Oh yeah I love that solo album from Warrel Dane too.
If you take a closer look to the today’s Scene, especially in L.A.. How did things change during the Years, and is there any interest in your Music? [(I mean this “New wave of American heavy Metal “ Thing seems to be constantly something like “the almighty Music” in the US for years now– as far as we can judge from Europe)-d.Verf.]
Dan: We aren’t really concerned with LA in particular, we are a worldwide band.
Michael: I am actually digging some of these comeback bands like Forbidden, Testament, Heaven and Hell. There seems to be a ton of nostalgia going on. We are trying to ride that wave but with new music instead of dusting off old songs.
What do you think about the Metal-Scene in Europe? Do you watch the Scene here?
Dan: For our style there’s no question that Europe is way better then the U.S.!
Michael: Europe rules. It’s a no brainer.
Before we come to the End of this Interview: What can we expect from Crescent Shield in 2009? – Any Plans for Touring in Europe for example?
Michael: We are working on that. It’s not as easy as you think to play in Europe when you have day jobs, family, other musical projects and so on. We have to find the right festivals or a short 2 week tour to make it worth our while. Stay tuned!
Thanks a lot for answering our questions. Some finishing words to everyone who read this Interview and to your Fans out there?
Dan: I hope Metalheads can take a few minutes to listen to our album, you can hear the whole thing at www.crescentshield.com. Thanks!