On March 10, power metallers Cellador will release their new album, called Off The Grid, on Scarlet Records. DutchMetalManiac’s Don Anelli already reviewed Off The Grid here, now he interviews Cellador’s vocalist/guitarist/founder Christopher Adam Petersen. Read it below.
So, first off, let’s talk about the new album. Are you pleased with its reaction so far?
As of this interview I have seen an “Album of the Year Contender” proclamation, a few perfect ratings, and a half dozen or more 9 out of 10, 4.5 out of 5 star ratings. Reactions have been incredibly stellar so far! It’s such a great feeling too after laying low for so long. We’re receiving personal feedback from many of our old friends in the heavy metal press and industry as well. It’s been a very warm welcome back.. couldn’t ask for more! I try not to let the feedback get to my head, but really it’s been so great, and we’re grateful to receive such a warm welcome back.
Do you have a favorite track off the album? What makes it special for you?
I have current personal favorites, but it has changed over time. I think Wake Up the Tyrant is the most sing-a-long, Break Heresy is the most fun, Shimmering Status has the best vocal performance, Shadowfold is the heaviest, Off the Grid is the most uplifting etc. Some of the songs were written much longer ago than others (Swallow Your Pride was originally written 10 years ago, the oldest one) so there’s some bias there as I’m much more acquainted with some of them more than others. As we all know, a newer song we write is usually more exciting for the songwriter. At some point every song has been my favorite. I really tried to make an album that could be played from beginning to end relatively easily. They are all to the point, high energy, catchy songs. I’d like to think if you are in the mood to play some Cellador in your stereo, all the songs can be contenders for your listening session.
The only ‘complication’ this creates is that it’s been incredibly difficult picking which songs will be videos, which will be singles, etc. So far from the feedback of press and others, nearly every song on the album has been picked as favorites by someone. Over half the songs have been chosen as radio picks by internet radio stations, and even the band members have differing choices as to which are their favorites.
We play all the songs live so there’s no question there for setlists at shows.
The album was recorded at Damage Studios in Massachusetts. Why did you decide it was right to record there?
Well the album was actually recorded in Denver, CO in my own studio as well as at our rehearsal space in Arvada, CO. The raw recorded tracks were then sent off to Damage Studios to be edited, mixed, and mastered by Peter Rutcho.
I am a huge fan of Peter Rutcho’s work with Havok’s album Time is Up. To me it sounds like a perfect modern heavy metal production. Lots of clarity, great sounding drums, and incredible heaviness. There is no modesty to his mixes, they are balls out, over the top, and we love it. I had been in talks with him for a couple years, almost even had him mix our EP Honor Forth back in 2013. Also, and this is important, Pete is a huge power metal fan, AND is a keyboard player as well. So this means he knows very well how to mix in keys, mix in vocals, and produce exactly the kind of sound we’re looking for. Based off experiences with Enter Deception, I told myself this time around I didn’t want to work with someone just for reputation, name, or nice studio, but instead someone who was a fan of the style. There was no translation process in trying to convey what kinds of production we were looking for, because he had nearly the same visions of the music as we did. He knew exactly what we wanted with little explanation required, in fact most of the time he didn’t even have to ask us for mix opinions. Also Pete is a hilarious and down-to-earth dude who speaks on an informal level. He’s like one of our bros. Great guy to have on board!
Why did you decide to have Chris as the producer? Did he bring out anything special to the material while you were recording?
I wrote basically the entire album and was the one really setting the creative vision for what we’re trying to accomplish with this release. I’m a studio guy myself and had the knowledge to manage the album tracking, basic editing, as well as motivating the band members to get the best performances out of them. Anyone who has recorded an album will probably know there’s always someone who needs to be the drill sergeant in the studio, and being the serious guy I am, I had no problem accepting that responsibility.
It’s been a while since the group last made a mark on the scene. What happened to the original lineup that caused since a long gap between releases?
Here’s what happened. I founded the band and name back around 2004 in my hometown of Omaha. Through band ads, many jam sessions, and networking I was able to gradually put together a lineup while writing what was to be our first songs, including those on Enter Deception, our first album. Originally things went fairly smooth, I brought in some songs, we recorded a demo, played shows, had fun, and then got signed. I was a Serious Sam from the start and took the band seriously, taking basically a leadership role. I would make sure the band practiced regularly, gave criticisms where needed, managed communications, recordings, lyrics, and songs. This worked well up to the recording of Enter Deception.
But I learned during those years that while it’s easy to get everyone to play along and have fun in the beginning, once that “honeymoon period” in a band ends, then you start seeing members’ true motivations and workability. A lot of the time it works out, but for that lineup it did not. In short, after the success of Enter Deception, every member had differing opinions on who now writes what, how we should sound, where and how often we should tour, who gets what spotlight, who controls what, who leads etc. Several members had unstable lifestyles which created distraction after distraction, and even show cancellations. Their tastes in music would change seemingly overnight, to the point where I wondered if playing in a band of Cellador’s style was more a short term phase for them than an actual career. It basically brought band progress to a standstill. We couldn’t record a follow-up album, because no one was practicing the other person’s songs. Certain members weren’t speaking to each other. We had to cancel tours. It was a bad and very stressful situation. It would have been nice to continue under the same protocol that brought us that successful album and all the opportunities that it created, but the other members did not want to continue that way. Eventually our disagreements led to members gradually quitting and doing their own thing. We had some great times together but it just wasn’t meant to be.
Despite the setbacks, I was still hungry, and wanted the band to continue on. So I relocated to Denver and decided to reform the lineup, carefully assembling players who were all on the same plane. It took a few years, but we’ve been a much more cohesive band since our Denver formation, and it definitely shows on this new album.
How has the bands’ style changed over the years, given your growth and maturity from the debut?
Well I certainly made it a personal priority to make sure this 2nd album was on par with the style of Enter Deception. That being said, since the recording of that first album, I learned a lot about studio production, tracking, writing more focused and to-the-point songs, leading and getting what I wanted out of the musical presentation. When I listen back to Enter Deception nowadays, the songs to me sound so… I guess “insecure.” Some weren’t tracked at good pocket tempos, my playing was more shaky, less easy and confident. Really that album is just raw in every way. This time around we’re much more polished but yet not at all tamed if that makes sense.
As it’s been a while since the band formed, have you noticed anything different about being in the studio or on the road between then and now?
Major differences in recording. Back then we entered a big professional studio in Florida to track everything. We spent much more money to record basically an inferior product. This time around we tracked everything at my own personal home studio, with our own equipment & resources, and then sent the tracks off to be mixed and mastered exactly to our specifications at a fraction of the cost. Much more efficient this time around!
What else.. well with regards to touring we no longer receive tour support so everything has to be financed through the band’s personal income. Touring is probably as “unglamorous” as ever in this day and age. Ticket prices are lower than ever so bands get paid less and tour in very meager situations. Back then charity sites like Patreon and Kickstarter didn’t exist, and now they’re becoming standards for some bands to thrive.
What plans do you have to promote the album as far as tours or videos?
We just released the first single Shadowfold via a lyrics video on Youtube now. We’re confirming production on the first music video to shortly follow that. I’m hoping to release a good number of videos for this album, as mentioned above we think there’s a lot of potential for many of the songs, and we know youtube will big for band reach. We’ll make a video for every song if we can! Along with that, we’re also in a full PR mode at the moment, giving information on the album for review and interviews as the album nears its release date.
Rehearsals are also ongoing as we speak as we are making plans for Summer touring, but I can’t announce anything yet as we’re still working on logistics and routing. We are going to aim for European and other international dates given we’re getting a good push there this time around.
So, we’ll end this on a fun note. What’s your all-time favorite city to play in live?
I loved Montreal! Such a cool vibe there. Runners up include Detroit, New York City, Mexicali (Mexico), and Minneapolis.
Do you have any messages for the readers of DutchMetalManiac?
Many thanks to our Dutch fans who have reached out and also the amazing review by DutchMetalManiac! You guys are on the forefront of our minds and it’s our definite intention to visit you for shows in support of this album! Keep up with us online as we announce more details, songs, and tours in support.