Scorpion Child interview (Shaun Avants)

"We don't pretend that the 80s, 90s, and even more contemporary music movements aren't part of who we are"

14/06/2013 @ 14:05
Scorpion Child is a new name you should make sure to check, as their debut album is coming out via Nuclear Blast. With one and a half foot on the retro sound, but with the rest half giving a modern twist, they differ from the average band that revives the 70s. Their bassist Shaun Avants tells us the story of the band so far and talks about the music of the album, touring with Clutch and Orange Goblin and Dave Grohl.

Scorpion ChildHello from and Greece. Please introduce Scorpion Child to the rock fans that may not still be aware of you.
Hello Greece. We are a five-piece rock and roll outfit from Austin, TX. Yes, we know the guys from The Sword.

You’ve been a band for about 6 years, but only now you are about to release your debut album. Why did it take so long?
Unfortunately, we weren't prepared to release an album worth anything, because we didn't have the right members from the start. Aryn and I recognized each other’s’ determination and talents, so we kind of started from scratch and found players who wanted to play music for life. New songs had to be written and the proper bond between all of us had to be realized. I think we're finally there. It's easy to see those years as wasted time, but it was necessary for the band to become the solid force it is today.

Scorpion Child - Scorpion ChildYour musical approach has a definitely a vintage, retro character but I think it also has a modern twist, like your music is spanning through the last four decades of rock. Is that right?
That couldn't be any more accurate. It's so tiresome trying to explain that to those who want to put us in this one-dimensional, retro, classic rock revivalist category.  There's definitely a resurgence of the genre, but we aren't trying to be any part of that.  We definitely pay homage to the positive elements of the 70's music scene, but we don’t pretend that the 80's, 90's, and even more contemporary music movements aren't part of who we are. We're lucky to have so many generations to refer to, but any artist should be looking toward progress and finding their niche in doing so.

Also, I think I feel some southern elements passing through your music like an undertow. Am I wrong?
That's inherently going to happen when you grow up in the south and the midwest.  We aren't heavily influenced by any hip new movements. There's no east coast. There's no west coast. We may find things we like among the new ideas that roll through this fair weather industry, but there's such a deep-rooted culture where come from and tradition is in our blood and upbringings. That doesn't wash off with the changing fads.

Scorpion ChildThen, if I had to I’d describe your music it’d be something like 'Led Zeppelin with a lot of testosterone', haha. Would you agree and which other bands would you choose as a point of reference?
Whenever people see us live for the first time, we frequently get the reference to Zeppelin. At first it's annoying because we feel like we're just being compared to the easiest reference that people can wrap their heads around. We see it. We get it. It's sexy, swaggering, powerful rock and roll with a singer that can hit a specific range. After a while, we accepted the comparison with grace and honor because we know we have a sound of our own and that this reference stems from our passionate live show and honest music. But, there are so many varied bands and musical styles that drive each of us individually. It's the conglomerate of our individual tastes that make the band what it is. We, as a band, aren't trying to be anything or anyone. We're just being our honest selves and together we make honest music.

Scorpion ChildDescribe with a word some bands that I think I hear on your music:
- Aerosmith : Swagger
- Soundgarden:  Heavy
- Wolfmother: Afro.
- Allman Brothers: Southern.

Now, "Polygon Of Eyes" was an obvious single and was released quite some time before the album. You’ve also made a video clip for it. What’s the feedback you’ve got?
Everyone seems to be drawn to that song as a single. I think it's great. It's definitely a song that captures the crowd and draws in people who have never heard us before.

Scorpion ChildMy favorite track on the album so far is "Liquor". It has a certain groove that I really like. Which are your favorite moments on the album and why?
On 'Salvation Slave' there's the breakdown in the middle of the song where Alvear and I drop it down to just drums and bass. During this part, Cowart does this magnificent solo that was the original take on a scratch track during the recording process. It was never intended to be kept, but I thought it had this beautiful honesty and imperfect delivery. There was no way we would have captured that magic during overdubs. I urged him and the producer to keep it. It was definitely a time and place performance that had to stay on the record.

On the last track "Red Blood (The River Flows)" there is a five minute gap, before a hypnotic three minute ending of the album. Could this be considered something like a hidden track and why did you choose to do something like that?
Aryn was listening to one of the varied playlists before we sent the record to get mastered. He smoked a little grass, played the record front to back, and felt inspired to write something in lieu of his experience. I didn't care for it at first, but now i find that it anchors the album. It's a sonically diverse roller coaster of emotion throughout and the lo-fi addition at the end really eases you down at the end.

Scorpion ChildYou have Chris 'Frenchie' Smith producing your album who’s worked with many successful bands like The Answer and The Darkness. Why did you choose him and what part did he play to the music and the sound of the album?
We've been working with him since the inception of Scorpion Child. He's a true rock and roll fan and he saw a lot of potential in us. It was great having someone who knew us individually and saw our music grow over the years. When we finally got to laying the record down he pushed us to do things that maybe we hadn't thought about and really got us to come out of our shells.

Also, you’re releasing your album via Nuclear Blast which must be... a blast, haha. Apart from some of the biggest metal bands they have a list of others closer to your sound like Witchcraft, Graveyard, Orchid etc. Firstly, how do you feel about this collaboration?
As with every aspect of this band, anyone who wants to be a part of the experience has to be a team player. This includes any label we decide to sign with. It's important for us to have the freedom to be who we want to be and represent ourselves the way we want to be represented. The union between us and Nuclear Blast has been delightful so far, because they allow us those freedoms. They're still getting to know us, especially our strongly opinionated personalities, but they're flexible and accommodating with a shared goal in our success.

Scorpion ChildSecondly, are you aware of the aforementioned bands and which ones are your favorites?
We love Graveyard's "Lights Out". It really hits. Great vocals. Great riffs.

You toured with Clutch and Orange Goblin in the U.S. and it seems like a killing combination of bands. How was the tour?
Both of those bands were above and beyond the nicest guys. It was especially refreshing and uplifting to be around both of those bands for two months because we were able to validate our hard work. Everyone in this band has kept their spirits up and their heads down in order to accomplish the small successes we've had so far. It was really great to see just how far other bands have gone and how much they've accomplished by doing exactly the same thing. It really gave us all hope that our dreams and goals are completely achievable.

Scorpion ChildAlso, I heard you’ve met Dave Grohl during the show. In my opinion he’s the definite rock star of our times. How was it to have him on your show? Is he as cool as he seems to be?
Although we had complete access to the VIP area you could tell everyone in the room was just waiting for their turn to get a piece of him.  As badly as I wanted to seize that moment and indulge myself in conversation with him I ended up just leaving him alone. I was honored enough just to be part of the show he came to see.  I absolutely agree - he's the definitive rock star of our times. Super nice, confident in what he does, and heralded by other bands we're influenced by.  I have this sneaking suspicion that I'll get the proper chance to talk his ear off sometime in the future and really get on the level.

Scorpion ChildNow, I guess there will be a lot of touring to support the release of the album, but also I hope it won’t take that long to release the second one, right?
Good God, I hope not. We've been backing up on new material for a while because we've been so busy getting geared up for this record.  But we've been spending our time off the road hashing out new ideas.

Which band would be a perfect fit for touring Europe?
Orange Goblin would be great because they've already toured the region and we know we already get along with those guys.  But the plan now is to do a little stint with Orchid. That should be fun because they're also American and they're our label mates.

Thanks for your time. End this interview as you wish.
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Chris Karadimitris