David E. Gehlke of DeadRhetoric.com recently conducted an interview with former ICED EARTH and current ASHES OF ARES frontman Matthew Barlow. A few excerpts from the chat follow below.
DeadRhetoric.com: You will not be a full-fledged touring band, and at the end of your time in ICED EARTH, you weren't able to go out for extended periods of times. So, when you got together with Van [Williams, drums] and Freddie [Vidales, guitar], was that one of the things that was initially agreed upon?
Matthew Barlow: Right. That was our main thing. Freddie is a civil engineer by trade. There's a lot of things he can do with his laptop, but he still needs to be in proximity. Van's a new dad, he's got that role as well as a graphic artist, and you know my gig, so I definitely have to stay close to home. This is what we want to do as well. With the last ICED EARTH record, I toured more for that than any other record. I was still able to be a police officer and everything, but still, it took a lot away from family time. I have a five- and a seven-year-old, and it's hard being away from them for periods of time. I don't think it's a sacrifice I'm willing to make, although I appreciate anyone that does it if they need to — if that's their livelihood, and with the way it is today, you have to tour to survive if you want to be a full-time musicians. It's something I don't have to do and I think people appreciate that. They appreciate that it's a decision I've made and they're cool with that. As long as I put out a good product that people want to listen to, that's okay. We will tour as much as we can so people who haven't heard the band, so people can come out and see us, but we're definitely not going to be ICED EARTH — no six months of touring.
DeadRhetoric.com: Correct me if I'm wrong, but this is the first band that is "your" band. ICED EARTH was Jon's [Schaffer] band, and you joined PYRAMAZE well into their existence. This has to be a different type of feeling for you, right?
Barlow: That's the whole thing. I've said this before: it really is for the first time being in total creative control of lyrics and vocal melodies. That's a big deal for me. It's a big step, but without Freddie writing the music — he wrote 99.9 however much of the music — it would be different. I'm a music writer, but not writer per se. I did write the basis for "Move The Chains", but my guitar playing sucks [laughs], but Freddie made it sound like actual guitar playing, and I did "The Answer", which I wrote acoustically. It's really more… I'm going to take the hits — good or bad — as far as lyrics and melodies because it is all me. Freddie wrote 99.9 [percent], however much of the music, but it's really this collaborative effort. Van took the ideas we had and wrote these cool drum parts that we didn't even think of — it changed the dynamic of the songs. It's a really cool joint collaboration, and we're really proud.
DeadRhetoric.com: The first time you left ICED EARTH was shortly after 9/11, and you said one of the primary reasons was that you felt the need to serve your country. Were those thoughts around even pre-9/11?
Barlow: I already had that sort of area — every member of my family served in the military, even my mom. My mom and dad met while in the military, and both of my brothers were in the Navy. The only reason why I didn't go into the military was because both of my brothers were getting out, and they said it's not a good spot right now, and that happens with our military, sometimes it's good, sometimes it's bad. I just didn't go, and by that point I was getting into music, so I thought I'd see how it went. It's one of those things — they happen for a reason. My brother, when he got out of the military, he went into law enforcement. He has since retired — he got his time in and he's been retired for a couple of years.
DeadRhetoric.com: Good for him.
Barlow: I know, right? That's one of the good things about law enforcement — you can retire in 20 years. It's not the biggest pension in the world, but at least you can collect when you retire. After 9/11, more than the sense of patriotism, which was certainly there — you feel like you want to do something about it, but even more than that, it really put my life into perspective, like how old I was and where I was. I felt I got a limited amount of time to make sure if music doesn't work, I have something to go back on because I wasn't making a living with ICED EARTH. I started looking into law enforcement and just one thing led to another and here I am.
Read the entire interview at DeadRhetoric.com.
"Dead Man's Plight" lyric video: