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Envy - Building Their Empire

Discussion in 'Unsigned Spotlights' started by BrandonS, Aug 3, 2006.

  1. BrandonS

    BrandonS Member

    Apr 5, 2003
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    By Brandon Strader

    Hey, would you like to introduce the band? Like, who are the members and their positions?

    Niko: Would I like to? Not really, but since you are so endearing, I feel obligated to. That and I want my free individual bag of pretzels for participating in this interview.

    The current line up is as follows:

    John (also known from his Locrian Mist project): Guitars
    Michael (formally of Seraphim Shock and not too happy about it): Guitars
    Bryan (of REBO and And Hell Followed): Bass
    Eric (formally in Perfection Is A Myth): Drums
    Niko (formally of nothing else besides this band): Vocals, Keyboards/Piano, Drums (on the albums, not live), Songwriting, engineering, mixing, producing, artwork etc.

    Does that sound cocky enough for you? Because I can make it sound worse if you so desire.

    I know there is an Envy from Japan, and you guys, the Envy from Colorado. Who came first?

    Niko: Right into the bliss eh? I'm not sure. I started this project in 2001 and I think they have been around for a little while as well. Who knows. We found out about them after we already had two records released. They are a very different style of music, but decent for what they do. I feel the two bands can coexist just fine as they are.

    When I first discovered you guys, I thought you were from Japan (until I researched of course) but the use of keyboards in the first couple songs, especially "Divine Affinity"'s beginning has somewhat of a J-pop vibe. Where the heck did the influence for that come from, and how do you write stuff like that?

    Niko: Not really a huge fan of J-pop, though it can be fun in a silly quirky sort of way. The "love it or hate it" synth layers in many of our songs comes from a lot of my earlier influences, number one being Depeche Mode. I was impressed by how emotional and full many of their songs could sound, especially without the use of guitars.

    I read somewhere that it took you guys several years to record Empyreal Progeny, how long did it actually take?

    Niko: The writing for Empyreal Progeny actually began during the recording of Sweet Painful Reality.

    Even before that record was mixed, I was becoming unsatisfied with the feel of that record and wanted to push the sound into what you heard on the 2nd album. So, if you factor that in, it took a little under two years which is a pretty standard time between albums; but it was an on again off again progression.


    Is it a concept album? What are the lyrical themes?

    Niko: Empyreal Progeny is what I would consider a themed record, which is close to a concept record, but stops just short of climaxing and you end up with prostate problems.

    Lyrically, I was interested by the idea of taking more simple experiences and telling them in a grandiose sort of way. Which is why you find this angelic theme running through many of the songs. Most of the record was inspired, conceptually, by my hope that there is something greater then what we've come to accept as common reality.

    The guitar tone is a lot rawer than one would expect from this style of music, but it is still very coherent. What made you guys choose such a harsh (but good) tone?

    Niko: The guitars on SPR were too washed out to be done justice. There were some nice guitar lines played by Thomas (from URIZEN), but they were mixed too far back in the mix to really be discernible. This was entirely my fault, and I take full blame for the sound of that record. I wanted to correct that on EP by taking a more "prog" approach to the sound, something that would bring out a lot of the great runs that John and Michael recorded, while still having some sort of guts to it. Maybe we succeeded, maybe we didn't.


    The sound on Empyreal Progeny is a lot better than your debut, Sweet Painful Reality... no offense, of course. The production was a bit softer on the first record, and the vocals not as refined as on Empyreal Progeny. Actually the vocal progress between both albums is very impressive! Did you take lessons for your vocals? How often do you practice? Who are your biggest vocal influences?

    Niko: Much offense taken. You are an asshole. Yes, yes, I know. You have to have a first record right? So, SPR is my first. I still think it's a decent first effort, and we can always get better from there.

    Thanks. I've never taken any vocal lessons, though I'm sure it would be very interesting and informative. Singing in the car does wonders. But the car has to be a dark bluish-green, or else you will sound terrible.

    Influences for vocals have changed over the years, but one of my biggest would be Dave Gahan and Martin Gore from Depeche Mode. Additionally I have always respected Glen Danzig and Peter Steele. My current vocal favorites would be Mikael Akerfeldt from Opeth and Daniel Gildenlöw from Pain Of Salvation.

    You also play the percussion! How'd you end up being the vocalist and drummer? Do you perform percussion and vocals in the live setting? Don't you get out of breath very fast and your voice has "bumps" when you're trying to sing from all the movement and action of playing the drums?

    Niko: I've been playing drums and percussion since I was thirteen. I've always been the drummer in earlier bands I played in when I was a kid, so when it came time to go into the studio for SPR, I just ended up doing the drums myself. It also made sense to the point that the band consisted only of myself and my good friend Thomas who was nice enough to play on my first record.

    As tempting as that sounds to be out breath and have "bumps" in my voice (which sounds cancerous by the way), in live shows I just sing and leave the drumming to Eric.


    I was talking to your main guitar hero lately about the progress of the third as-of-yet untitled album. Or is it untitled? He didn't say. But anyway, he said he has a very rough version of the album that was quite literally just a blueprint with some parts mapped out, random ideas, guitar maps and such.. How far off is the third album? Is it going to be the same line-up of musicians as on Empyreal Progeny?

    Niko: Short answer: yes. Long answer: yyyyyyeeeeeeesssssss.

    The line up is actually expanded, now that we have Eric and Bryan. I played drums on EP and Michael and John handled the bass recording. This time around, Eric and Bryan fill in those shoes respectfully, and honestly, the shoes look a lot better on them.

    The third album is actually more pieced together then John let on. It's a hairy beast that will be ready sometime in 2007. That is my best guess at the moment.

    What can we expect from the third album? Will it be totally different from Empyreal Progeny or will it build on the same kind of vibes? I don't think you could really improve the Empyreal Progeny sound at all so what the heck are you going to do?

    Niko: I'm sure that you've noticed that there is a pretty big difference between SPR and EP. Expect an even bigger change on the new album.

    I've always been of the idea that a band or musician should grow and evolve over time. There have been good examples of this and not so good examples of this in the past. Things are going to expand and change again on the third album, while staying true to the philosophy of crafting melodic, emotionally expressive music regardless of style.

    There is so much I want to say about the new album, but I feel the timing isn't quite right. Soon.

    I was surprised to find out you guys were never actually signed? I have no idea how I got a hold of your first two albums considering you weren't signed, you must really be doing some huge distrobution of your own, eh? And you've got a "fake" record label called "Cruci-Fiction Records"? What's up with that?

    Niko: Actually thats "Crucial Fiction". We have some nice independent ways to get the music out there, but we lack a lot of the means to promote it on a global scale.

    We have not been signed as of yet. There has been a lot of random interest from certain companies, but nothing has panned out for us so far. We are actively looking for a decent label to help us get this music out to more people who would appreciate and enjoy it.

    So the main guitar hero, John... Are you not amazed by his incredible skills with the guitar? He could be the next big-name in guitar, don't you think? His parts on Empyreal Progeny were great but there wasn't enough shredding and fast solos! Do you realize if you don't have him doing fast solos and shredding on the next album, I will track you down and kick your butt?

    Niko: I do know this. John impressed me even years ago when I first auditioned him for Envy. Since then he has only improved, and I enjoy giving him new challenges that will progress him along his path as a musician. I do feel that if he continues to learn and grow, he could very well become the next big name in guitar.

    If you want more solos and shredding, then I think you will be pleased with the next album, though not to say it will be the basis of the record, but it will definitely have some great ear candy.


    So, John... You got to write a lot of the guitar parts for Empyreal Progeny, correct?

    John: Somewhat. Niko had some basic ideas for some songs, like "Coincide" and "Divine Affinity." It was much more of a collaboration on the rest of the guitars. I'd generally come up with something, we'd use it, or we would work something out together to suit both our likings.

    You've got your own project called Locrian Mist... When exactly did you start that project, and what provoked it's creation?

    John: Technically, it started eight years ago when I first started playing the guitar. I came up with the name about 4 years ago while still in Colorado before moving to North Carolina, which is where I started my solo project and decided to use Locrian Mist as the band name. Originally it was just an online screen name. I started recording my debut EP in 2005 and put some rough versions on myspace when I would get something recorded. So I guess you could say 2005 is when it really started. I decided to make it just a one man operation because I was so sick of dealing with half-assed "musicians" and an infinate number of flakes.

    Hah, I know what you mean, but do you have any plans to include more musicians in the future if it's possible?

    John: Now that I'm back with Envy, definitely. I'd like to have the members of Envy be the members of Locrian Mist. They're the best group of musicians I've ever had the privilage of playing with.

    Your stuff is pretty technical though... you've even covered "Flight of the Bumblebee" which is hard on guitar even for John Petrucci methinks. I heard he cheats when he plays it. What do you think? And do you think Envy could perform your material?

    John: I haven't heard anything about him cheating while playing it so I can't say anything about it. Yes, it was definitely technically challenging. Well worth learning it too, as I've improved a great deal since learning it. Are you asking if Envy has the ability to play it?

    Yes, I know they are extremely skilled musicians... but that is the question!

    John: I think they can. I'm not entirely sure if they think that, or if all of them even want to do it. I definitely believe they can do the material though.

    What are some of your personal musical influences for Locrian Mist, and - if possible - can you describe any other mixture of bands that Locrian Mist may sound similar to?

    John: Iron Maiden, Slayer, Morbid Angel, and Helloween are my all time biggest influences. The list of influences can go on, but those are the big four. As far as similar sound I've had people say Steve Vai, Satriani, Malmsteen, Iron Maiden, Slayer, Opeth, Wintersun, etc...

    So you're moving back to Colorado to rejoin the ranks of Envy, and release the third album that's got us on the edge of our seats in anticipation... Can you give us any deep information about the third album? Some beans that Niko probably wouldn't spill just yet.....?

    John: Well, all I can really say is that I am already back in Colorado and have began writing for the 3rd album. Just like how Empyreal Progeny took a step in a different direction from Sweet Painful Reality this 3rd record will be no exception. That's all I can say for now. The rest is a secret!

    Have you heard any good bands lately? What are your favorite genres?

    John: Any newer bands you mean? Not really. Nothing new seems to really move me anymore. Metal has become very stagnant and that's something we of Envy, and Locrian Mist are trying to change. My all time favorite genre, obviously, is metal. I also enjoy some jazz, pop, rock, soundscapes, trance/techno, ambient music, etc.

    Locrian Mist is destined for greatness, sir, but some people won't believe it until they witness it for themselves. Where can people find Locrian Mist music and the official website? Hopefully you're still selling copies of the self-titled EP?

    John: I appreciate the compliment, sir. You can find Locrian Mist at,, or And of course I'm still selling as many CDs as I can.


    Ok, thanks! Now back to Niko... There are some screams on Empyreal Progeny, but really not too many. The main vocals are clean, and well-performed. Are you planning more screams or growls for the next album?

    Niko: Actually yes. Not much though, but more then there was on EP. Ironically, as much as I do listen to many bands that employ the use of a vocalist who screams and/or growls the majority of the time, I also find myself becoming quite bored of the style. I am of the mind that something that is truly melodic and singable will be more likely to stand the test of time, plus I just enjoy it more.

    We know about the whole "song blueprint" thing now, but how exactly do you come up with the parts to the songs? Do you write all of the music or is it a collaberation between all of the members?

    Niko: The core music itself is composed by myself (chord patterns, melodies, drum ideas, vocal lines, occasionally some guitar parts). Once I have a whole song idea I will usually bring it to John and he and I will start writing guitars to that.

    I am always open to suggestions from everyone, and many times, someone will surprise me with a great idea that I could have never thought of, case in point the clean guitar breakdown in Savor The Lullaby written by Michael.


    What equipment do you personally use, Mr. Niko? Drumkit? Microphone? Keyboard?

    Niko: My personal Drum kit is a piano black Pearl BLX 6 piece which was discontinued. Still holds up well, but I'd really love to upgrade into a fully customized DW set. *drool*

    Mics? I have tons. I haven't sworn any brand loyalty yet, nor have I found anything worth mentioning here.

    For synth I have A Roland 2080 Module expanded multiple times, a vintage Yamaha V-50, and Reason. I'm working on expanding this as we speak, possibly with another software synth and one of the most amazing vocal sample libraries.

    What's your favorite food and beverage?

    Niko: Finally. Some questions that really matter. I was anxiously waiting for the Tiger Beat part of the interview.

    Food is easy. Sushi. Beverage? Vinegar. Mmmmmm, vinegar.

    What's the most embarrasing moment you've ever had on stage, or any of the other members?

    Niko: It was the summer of '05. We were playing a big show to a packed house, when suddenly the power goes out. We stood up there for a good few minutes looking like idiots (more so then usual) until the power finally got restored. Soon after we got back into the set, both Michael and David's (formally guitars) instruments stopped sending signals. The rest of us tried to keep going, but Eric must have been ill, because he began vomiting uncontrollably all over his drum kit. Smelling this, I also began to vomit, but into the audience. Needless to say those front row-ers were a bit upset. If that weren't bad enough, my pants fell down triggering a barrage of pointing and laughing at my delicates. Worst of all, the audience consisted of my entire elementary, middle, and high school classmates, peppered with every girl I ever dated, who immediately started throwing rotten eggs at us, resulting in more vomiting by both us and the audience leaving us crying like little girls. This is generally how most of our shows go, so it wasn't really that embarrassing.

    Oh wait....

    Around the time of that Dimebag murder in my neighboring state of Ohio, I heard you guys ended up playing some kind of charity concert in honor of Dimebag... Is this true? I remember reading something like that but I didn't know if it was rumor or fact. Now we all get to hear the truth, and hopefully many details of that show, eh?

    Niko: Yes indeed. It was a good show (unlike the one made up above). I was glad to be a part of it. We all were.

    It was actually our first live show in this band, and we got a little bit on the local news. Friends of mine who didn't make the show called me up the next day telling me they saw me on the news. It was kind of exciting, in a small time way.


    I heard you were DJing at some club or something. What's up with that? You ever get "assaulted" by groupies yet or even anyone who recognizes you from Envy?

    Niko: What do you mean "what's up with that?"? Yes I do DJ on Saturdays playing rock, alternative and metal. It's a good time since I basically get paid to play music for people and drink for free. I have had people recognize me before, though not enough to make too many good stories.

    Is there a certain label you'd like to be signed to? Who do you think would be interesting in signing you if they heard Empyreal Progeny?

    Niko: I thought many people would be interested in signing us after hearing the album, but to each their own. Right now, I'm sort of eyeing InsideOut America, as they have a number of great progressive style artists who seem to be allowed to do what they want creatively, plus fairly decent distribution.

    This might piss you off, but I've just discovered there is yet ANOTHER Envy that just formed (after you guys, of course) from Finland. Is there nothing you can do apart from kicking their butts?

    Niko: Nah. Doesn't phase me anymore. As I said above, it doesn't really matter. I think these bands can coexist just fine.

    I've already asked who your vocal influences were, but what are some of the band's musical influences?

    Niko: Well if you want to know what everyone else sites, you'd have to ask them, as I would not do them justice.

    For me it would be (among others): Depeche Mode, Pain Of Salvation, Opeth, Type O Negative, Danzig, Rammstein, Yanni, James Horner, Hans Zimmer, plus a whole bunch of others. Check out for a bigger list of crap.

    Do all of the members have jobs, and where do they work? (so we know where to avoid, hehe...)

    Niko: Everyone does indeed have other jobs right now. All I can say is if you want to avoid us, stay off the downtown streets at night.

    In conclusion, what are your hopes and dreams concerning Envy in the near, or even distant future? And where can the readers find samples of your music to listen to before they buy your magnificent little albums from Amazon or whatnot?

    Niko: I think I would answer this question the way any up and coming band would. I would like to be successful at crafting music that makes me feel and think, and I wish the same for my fellow band mates and friends. As you can see I used the word "successful", as I feel that the word can be applied in a much more personalized way. I don't need to have a lot of money to be successful, nor do I need everyone to know who I am. As long as I can sustain myself creating something I feel so passionate about is the only success I need.

    That and lots of bitches.

    If you are still interested in checking out samples, even after reading all of this crap I wrote, go here:

    ...and here:

    Ok! Thank you very much for participating in the interview despite your... well... hectic "work" schedule. I would also like to thank John for participating on behalf of Locrian Mist. Good luck with your recordings, guys!

    Official Envy Website
    Official Envy MySpace Page
    Official Locrian Mist Website
    Official Locrian Mist MySpace Page
  2. BrandonS

    BrandonS Member

    Apr 5, 2003
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    Important note: Envy have changed their name to Envinity. You can now find them here instead:

    The official website link is the same.
  3. azal

    azal love is the answer

    Nov 12, 2002
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    Belgrade, Serbia
    envy from japan rule.
  4. mystic girl

    mystic girl love metal

    May 2, 2006
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    Croatia, Europe
    i just lisen envy from california. have one cd and it's goood.
  5. anacrucix

    anacrucix aka Shredcaptain Matt

    Jan 22, 2007
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    United Kingdom
    damn was excited by this, thought it was about japanese envy!
  6. LuminousAether

    LuminousAether My name is Distance

    Dec 22, 2001
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    Columbus, Ohio
    I thought it was about the Japanese Envy too. Such an incredible band.
  7. Pethical

    Pethical Tom

    Jul 30, 2005
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    jap envy ftw

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