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"The Hunt" Introduces You To Metal Hidden In The Thickets. Meet Phoenix Band Autumn’s End

By Brian Davis, Contributor
Tuesday, June 19, 2007 @ 2:54 PM

"...it was a gut hunch; right

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The desert lands of Arizona may be desolate in many ways, but when it comes to the state's Metal scene there couldn't be a more abundant crop. And without a doubt, Phoenix's Autumn’s End are the greatest export to come out of the state in many a year. Not so much a band as a band of brothers, the blood of their musical bond runs deep, creating an inseparable family out of a group of friends with incredible esteem for one another and the creative capacity to weave some of the greatest Melodic Death Metal the US has seen in at least a decade. One need look no further than the band's second release, "Act Of Attrition", a supremely solid and diverse album that serves as a flawless testament to the diverse songwriting proficiency and engrossing musical mastery that drives this Metal family.

Several months ago, not long after we conducted this interview, drummer Joey Kamka was involved in a near fatal motorcycle accident, severing his right ear and brain stem, rendering him comatose and leaving him with slim chances of survival. Autumn’s End reacted as all true families do-they circled the wagons around their fallen brother, devoting every spare moment to supporting Joey's family and encouraging his recovery in constant vigil around his hospital bed. The Phoenix Metal scene responded in kind, with several bands rallying to Joey's side by throwing numerous fund raisers to help Joey's family with the ever increasing hospital expenses. Amazingly, Joey came out of his coma and began an arduous, painful road to recovery that has become what most doctors would undeniably refer to as near miraculous. But for his brothers in Autumn’s End, the recovery was never a doubt in their mind; they knew their brother well, knew he was one hell of a fighter, knew that he would kick the Reaper in the balls with a hearty FUCK YOU! and make his way back to his drum kit and family where he belongs. And so he has. Joey's recovery is almost complete, and he is now practicing feverishly for the band's first show together since his harrowing brush with death. They're back and their bond is stronger than ever, and they are ready to do what has been their destiny for years: to dominate the North American Death Metal scene.

So enjoy this special edition of The Hunt featuring Vocalist/Guitarist/Founder Chris Cannella, Bassist El, Guitarist Anthony DeJesus, and Drummer Joey Kamka of the great Autumn’s End. Give them the support they deserve-check out the band and their killer tunes for yourself at www.myspace.com/autumnsend and www.autumnsend.com, and give Joey a major horns up for showing the tenacious determination and fierceness of will that defines what Metal is about. Welcome back, brother Joey-you're one tough motherfucker.

KNAC.COM: How's everything going?

CHRIS: Things are going really good, man. Staying really busy and getting ready to do some more shows.

EL: Thank you so much for your great fucking review, you are quite the wordsmith. You're one of those who really fuckin' listened to the record. That's awesome.

CHRIS: The way you used "To Carry The Burden" at the end- that was incredible.

KNAC.COM: Awesome, thanks. Those are some inspiring lyrics, man, and the more inspiring the music the more inspired I am to write, so hats off to you guys. And I'm totally humbled that you guys mentioned me in the CD-that's a hell of a compliment, so thank you for that.

CHRIS: That's nothing man, compared to the shit you've said about us.

EL: That's the least we could do.

KNAC.COM: So I understand you guys have had some label interest?

CHRIS: Well, we're getting some talks now. We got a call from Relapse, we've heard from Napalm Records, and we'll see. People have been poking their noses around lately, so it's pretty exciting. We've done all this stuff so far on our own, now we need to find a deal and place we can call home for a while.

KNAC.COM: I think it's about time-you guys are pretty ripe as far as having a good foundation on your sound, and I think it's plenty to get people's attention, so it's just a matter of time now.

ANTHONY: Yeah, now we just gotta get out there on the road and stay out there awhile.

KNAC.COM: Yeah, hopefully "Act Of Attrition" is going to get the attention it deserves on stage.

CHRIS: Oh yeah, we're definitely going to do some stuff in 2007. We'll be able to focus more on the whole market and start getting out a bit.

JOEY: Yeah, and hopefully the video [for "Scars From The Candle"] will push too.

KNAC.COM: Are you going to do any more videos or singles from the album?

CHRIS: Yeah, we're gonna do a video for "The Dirge" next.

KNAC.COM: Let's get some influences. Chris-obviously Anton LaVey, I've seen you mention him several times. Is that a direct or indirect kind of factor? Obviously there are some religiously-conscious lyrics…

CHRIS: I would say it's pretty direct. I love his writing, and a lot of his stuff that I read when he was younger and going forth…it was really influential for me as far as my personal outlook on things. I wouldn't say that I worship the guy or anything like that, but I'd definitely say that he put a new light on things when I was younger and I really appreciated it. I was raised around a big Catholic family-my family is from Sicily-so at that point in time when I got involved with that and started reading a lot into that it really opened a lot of doors. That and Ragnar Redbeard's "Might Is Right". Plus a priest touched my wiener. (everyone laughs)

KNAC.COM: Alright, let's go around the room, one by one-can you guys name one band that would be your biggest influence?

CHRIS: I would have to say the first two Ozzy records with Randy Rhoads.

ANTHONY: I'd have to say the stuff by Criss Oliva (Savatage). Great guitar playing. He was amazing.

EL: I would have to say Neurosis.

JOEY: Meshuggah, for their technicality. It's insane.

KNAC.COM: Cool. That makes for quite a melting pot bringing all those influences. Really makes for a diverse impact on the music.

CHRIS: Yeah, we're all very different people. El said it best-you have four alpha males in a room that all find a way to impress our will into writing every song and put all of our influences into it like a melting pot and keep what works best.

KNAC.COM: So there's a pretty communal sense with you guys? There's no Dave Mustaine mentality, just everybody throwing it all out there?

CHRIS: It is definitely 25% input for everybody across the board. Everything that we've written, especially when we started writing "Act Of Attrition" and onward, everything has been planted by everybody and everybody is involved with every single aspect of the songs. Everything from the lyrics to the vocal layout, drums, arrangements-just everything about the songs; the mood we're trying to create, impact, dynamic-everybody is truly involved.

EL: That's one of the biggest things-when we write songs it's not necessarily, "what do we want to sing about?" It's in the Neurosis vein of, "what mood are we trying to create?" Even when we write our set for what we're gonna play live, it's about what kind of mood we're going for; that has a lot to do with it. It's not just, "Oh, we wanna talk about this"-we wanna create a mood; we want people to say, "Yeah, I heard it" but we also want them to say, "Yeah, I felt that."

KNAC.COM: That's certainly the impact that I feel when I listen to it. I hear "The Dirge" or I hear "To Carry The Burden" and I feel the different emotion, as compared to like "Truth B.C."-no matter what it is it's extremely evident; it's right up front, there's no mistaking what you guys are feeling or what you're trying to express.

CHRIS: Cool. Mission accomplished-what else could you ask for?

KNAC.COM: Let's go back to the beginning-can you describe the birth of Autumn’s End?

CHRIS: A few years ago, when my old band called it a day, I was really fed up with everything that was "in" at the time, and I really just wanted to start over; I wanted to separate myself from the last 10 years that I was with my other band and do what I do best, and that is Metal, all styles of it, and I wanted to just get back to it. So I just sat down one day, I called up Anthony [DeJesus] and I said, "I'm really thinking about doing this, and I'm thinking about doing the singing parts myself"-I hate singers, to be honest with you. (laughs) They're all pretty much pretentious art fags. So I just wanted to take over that role of things, start over. Me and El have been friends for many years-he lived down in Tucson while I was up in Phoenix, and right off the bat I just gave him a call and said, "I'm gonna do a Metal band, and I want you to move up from Tucson." Now, keep in mind that I'd never heard him play before, but I just knew his attitude and his drive. And I knew I had to get Joey [Kamka] in here; I couldn't get a hold of him for a year [looks at Joey] Fucker! – so we had a couple guys fill in for the first record, then we finally got hold of Joey and it all took off, because it was four people all on the same page, all with the same goal. You know, a lot of people were upset and mad at me for separating myself, but I had to do what I thought was right for me; we all weren't on the same page for that, and that is what matters most.

ANTHONY: I used to tech for Chris for many a year-we've been friends since we were like 13, and it drove me nuts because he was good with his old band, but it didn't show what he was capable of. And one of the things I think is beautiful about this band is because Chris can play leads and because he has that talent on the guitar, it makes it easier to lay out the vocal aspect. There're hardly any changes-we just throw out ideas and he just seems to fall in place with them.

KNAC.COM: It sounds like you pretty much had the foundation laid without having formally played together. All the pieces were there, it was just a matter of pulling them in and getting everybody to sit down together, and after that it was pretty much a cake walk.

EL: None of us ever played together, I don't think. I mean, Joey jammed with one of Chris' old bands, but nothing ever came of it. Me and Anthony, before we played in this band, neither one of us had played in a band in 12 years!

ANTHONY: That's where I gotta give El credit too-he would drive up from Tucson twice a week when we first started. He'd drive up, and then he'd turn around and go home.

KNAC.COM: That's the life of a musician. It just shows how much effort goes into it, and the dedication that overrides everything. You make those sacrifices for the greater good.

CHRIS: Yeah, like you said before, it was a gut hunch; right off the bat I just knew that us four would be a perfect match. And Anthony was really the one that pushed me towards it, he was the one that really kept pushing me and telling me, "you can do it, you gotta do it, you can sing, take the chance". So we all got together and it all worked.

KNAC.COM: Tell me about the 5 Cycles Of Discipline demo.

CHRIS: Oh wow. (everyone laughs) Uh…that was five songs I just put together in my bedroom, actually. I met this drummer Mike at the time and told him I wanted to put together five songs, mostly to just put together music that gave a basic idea of the kind of direction I wanted to go with, so I could give it to El, give it to Anthony, so that everybody would have a game plan, I guess you could say, or a mapping. And it ended up being a kind of…I don't know, now people are asking for it, and that album is horrible!

KNAC.COM: So is that something you'd even think about releasing, or did it just serve its purpose by laying the groundwork of what you wanted to do and just building from that?

CHRIS: That's exactly what it was. We'll never re-release that.

EL: It's around; I'm sure it'll turn up on e-bay or something. (everyone laughs)

KNAC.COM: As far as Act Of Attrition, Century Media, Hammermill Records, The End Records, CD Baby and Relapse are all selling the disc. Did you expect that kind of support?

CHRIS: Not at all; we had no idea. That was like a slap to the face, it came out of nowhere. (Our manager) Andrew Cox is amazing-he's like the hidden fifth member of the band now, and he really has put so much into it and has the ability to put our music in so many people's faces. I have to give him so much credit for everything he's done for us because all that stuff wouldn't have happened without him.

EL: He worked his fuckin' ass off!

KNAC.COM: Ok, I wanna know about "To Carry The Burden"- again, the lyrics just inspired the shit out of me, it's such a vivid…the opening lines are just really vivid for me. "Let the wind speak through me"-that really reaches out to me, so I gotta give in and ask what went into that one.

CHRIS: Actually, this is the first time I've ever mentioned this, but that song was directly written about my mother's suicide. So when you quoted the song and when you wrote it in the review I could not believe how well you picked up on the topic of that; you really hit the nail right on the head with that one. So it's based on my mother…she attempted suicide and was on life support and I had to pull the plug while I was out in Seattle. So that was the inspiration on that.

KNAC.COM: Wow…that's heavy. I mean, the irony of that is…I think the reason the lyrics spoke to me is I went through a similar ordeal-not similar in the suicide sense, but I was very close to my mother, and in 2004 she got pancreatic cancer. And I had to watch her go through all that, I sat there with her during chemotherapy every week and I had to just watch her deteriorate and suffer until she passed away. So the lyrics definitely spoke to that inner part of me; obviously it spoke subliminally to some part of me.

CHRIS: Thanks man, I appreciate that.

KNAC.COM: Well, you know, when you can find a band that can actually express those things…music is great, the music itself is stimulating, the pacing and all that stuff is important, but when you add on top of that lyrics that really move you and really reach inside-that's what sets bands like you guys apart from the millions of other wanna-bes.

CHRIS: Well thank you, man. Thank you.

KNAC.COM: Here's another stab in the dark-Chris, in you liner notes, your personal notes in the sleeve thank a guy Steven B.C. Fugate-you say he's the most honest man you know. Is that any link to the song "Truth B.C."?

CHRIS: Yes, actually-it's exactly that. El actually wrote the lyrics to that song, and the B.C. part is actually his nickname, which is "Big Country". So El can describe those better, but it was definitely about Steve. He's been around this band since its inception, and he's our best friend…

EL: He's a huge part to this band. Keeps us out of trouble, keeps us from getting our faces kicked in, he keeps us on time…except Joey, there's no fuckin' helpin' that guy. (everyone laughs) He's like the right half of our brain; he's the responsible one.

KNAC.COM: So he's the designated driver on the road of life.

EL: Yes, that's a good analogy! (laughs)

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