Interview conducted April 09 2009
Interview published April 19 2009
Due to my winter illness, injuries,
and overall malcontent, I was delayed with speaking with the gatekeeper
of wisdom - Andy Dracons Giardina - a true
wordsmith, and mettle spellcaster. This Italian/American is the mastermind
behind Total Eclipse's resurrection. Recently, he has released the much
sought after - Spellcaster - album. He'll unearth soon enough, new material,
with final plans involving the re-issue of the much acclaimed Guardians
Of Metal 2000 Demo. Join us on this fantastical, mystery tour de force.
Andy: Hello there Michael, I am so pleased
to make your acquaintance, after having read so many of your E-mails.
I called right at the designated time. I am very punctual, and professional
about these things.
MettleAngel: Indeed, you are, and I appreciate
that. My being ill has really delayed this conversation, for almost two
I am improving steadily. Honestly, I have good days, and not so good.
Sometimes I feel so weak, and ill motivated. The weather is no help, as
some days it is very warm, the next day bitter cold.
Andy: Ahh yes, weather has a tendency to be
a contributing factor. Sleeping, and giving your body plenty of rest
is just one of the many excellent ways to rejuvenate, and become more
healthy. This is why certain animals hibernate.
MettleAngel: Well I have slept half the
year away, it seems. I am quite aware that there are many factors which
can affect your health. The weather vicissitudes in Cincinnati, affect
not only my health, but my emotions. I was unable to walk for three weeks,
so I also gained some unwanted weight. I have noticed, that as I began
to recover, so did my desire to write, create, and serve. I'm so pleased
that we can finally conduct this conversation. Timing is everything, as
the rest of this month, I will be inundated with interviews. Since you
sent me the CD first of the year, before I became increasingly infirm,
I wanted to hold off reviewing it, until we could link it with this interview.
I have a rough draft constructed, lying in wait.
Andy: That is fine, as I am just now gathering
together the reviews I've read thus far, to post on my blog. So many
of them are so favorable, and supportive.
MettleAngel: As will be mine, so you shall
see. The CD, even if almost ten years old, still remains a work of genius,
on your behalf, and the two Cameron brothers. I'm surprised Limb Music
never chose to release this.
Andy: Yeah, us too! They just shelved it, and
proceeded with Ashes Of Eden, which we finished in 2001, but they
waited until 2003 to release.
MettleAngel: During the new millennia, they
had so many awesome acts signed to their label like: Zandelle, Exhibition
(featuring Bobby "Leather Lungs" Lucas), Galloglass, Montany,
Midnight Sun, Abraxas, etc. It is a shame, they just chose to focus on
Andy: Rhapsody (Of Fire) are a great band,
I learned a great deal from Fabio Lione, vocally. Yes, the label did
over promote them, which was not good for us. They just did not promote
us, or seem to respond to us too well.
MettleAngel: Uwe Lulis produced Spellcaster
and Ashes. Critics raved over the 2000 Guardians Of Metal release, so
what provoked the two founding Cameron brothers to break up the band,
and what inspired you to rekindle what was left, from the ashes?
Andy: The label did not affectively promote
us. It did not help matters that there was really nowhere here in
the San Francisco area to perform shows, or conduct a mini-tour. All
the good clubs were gone. I had a radio show called Stormbringer,
which gave us some support. We played shows with Imagika, Slough Feg,
and a few other bands. There was just no real interest in the band,
so we called it quits. After I played in Pandemic, buzz began to circulate,
so I reformed the band.
MettleAngel: I assume the band's appellative
was derived from the classic Iron Maiden B-side -Run To The Hills, off
Number Of The Beast?
MettleAngel: Wow, I never even made that
association. Total Eclipse is so Maiden inspired. So, once you reformed
the band, on your own initiative in 2007, did Erik Cameron return for
a short time?
Andy: Yes, Erik was excited about the reunion.
We set up our website and My Space. Then he went off and got married.
After that, his passion waned. He allowed me to keep the name, and
pursue the reissue of Spellcaster.
MettleAngel: You also plan to re-issue the Guardians Of Metal Demo
Andy: Yes, that is in the works. We are going
to include a number of metal covers on that from all the bands who
influenced us, like Maiden, Priest, Slayer, Megadeth, Helloween, etc..
We even have a Stratovarius cover planned.
MettleAngel: What song do you do?
Andy: We have played - Kiss Of Judas - live,
and fans seems to get into it. I want to present my vocal versatitilty.
Timo Kotipelto has an awesome voice. Ultimately, I'm most influenced
by Bruce Dickinson @ '87. I also have learned from the styles of Halford,
Dio, and Geoff Tate.
MettleAngel: Your vocals are very unique,
and difficult to ascribe. You have an original pitch. With Pandemic, you
also employ some death growls, which is different.
Andy: I also like the quality of Dani Filth,
and some of the more harsh vocalist. Metal needs that hard edge, some
groove, and pure melodic attributes. I try to contribute all aspects
with my singing. The new songs for Total Eclipse will have a variety
of vocal arrangements, and I'll play all the guitar parts.
MettleAngel: Pandemic is no longer active,
Andy: Yeah, we have not done too much for about
a year. The Infecting The World album was a lot of fun to sing on,
and write the lyrics for, overall. My main focus now is getting a
solid line-up together for Total Eclipse. We have a drummer - Brian
Davy - from D.C. who has been in the band for six months.
MettleAngel: About how many songs have been
written for the new album? Do you plan to remain a three piece once you
find a permanent bass player.
Andy: Yes, we will be a "Power Trio".
We've auditioned some bass players, but no one seems to take it seriously.
I answer their add, and they never call back. We have written about
six songs, so far. Brian has been a great help. He comes from a punk
background, so his style is aggressive, and melodic.
MettleAngel: The songs on Spellcaster and
The Guardians Demo tend to be very long, and involved, but never dull,
or daunting. Your lyrics are very spiritual, and in depth, as well. Do
you plan to continue this theme on the new album.
Andy: The songs are evolving, so we'll see.
I will sing the words with whatever voice mirrors the music. I take
great care with creating all aspects of my music. Lyrics are very
important to me. I don't like cheesy, non-thought-out lyrics. My words
carry meaning and purpose. I almost go into a meditative trance before
writing the music and lyrics. I want to feel the element of inspiration.
I want to tap into the source, and channel the energy of the music,
which I create.
MettleAngel: I've been reading this great
book on the history of Gnosticism. I was fascinated when I read that the
Medieval term for 'spellcaster', or 'wizard' (wise words), was one who
mastered the "Word" or "Logos". The phrase "to
spell a word" i.e. C-A-T- comes from this mastering of the magickal
words. Isn't it funny that children are encouraged to spell, while in
elementary school, but we are discouraged to cast spells? Essentially,
they are one in the same act! The conjuring of words is the same as their
formation. In grade school, we learned to diagram sentences. In antiquity,
this was the very work of alchemists!
Andy: This is also where word play is derived,
and stems from, if you did not know. All those who work to decipher
crossword puzzles, employ anagrams, or anachronistic terms, are practicing
some art of medieval magic.
MettleAngel: I can tell by reading the lyrics that are included
in the Spellcaster re-issue booklet, as well as on the Ashes CD, that
you are very wise, and intelligent.
MettleAngel: Wow, what are your degrees
in? You have doubled my talent!
Andy: I hold a masters degree in Political
Science and World History. I have studied world cultures, religions,
philosophies, the supernatural, and so much more, ever since I lived
in Italy. Through my music, and message, I aim to open peoples minds
to the real truth within. I want my audience to listen, and discern
the difference between fate (determinism), and destiny (free-will).
MettleAngel: Ah yes, the age old question:
are we all doomed, saved, or free to decide; more gnostic food for thought.
Andy: When I am on stage, I evoke the presence
of being a shaman. I endeavour to provide the listener with a context
and inner vision. I provide a mirror through my lyrics to demonstrate
the darker side of the human experience. I truly want the metal head
to vicariously experience the visceral reality behind the music.
MettleAngel: I agree with the reference
of having you act like a shaman. You are providing a healing through your
words, and music. Like the Pandemic song - Conspiracy Of Silence - exclaims,
"...you will see there is no such thing as fear!"
Andy: When I am on stage, I give it 300%, I
expend all my energy, sending out all these vibrations out onto the
audience. Then, I allow these vibes to rebound, and I transpose them
into an experience of beauty, truth, and grace. The concert and live
experience is a cathartic release of the negative emotions, replaced
by a positive stimulation, and feel good presence.
MettleAngel: You are clearly well-rounded,
an advocate of the weal of life, and time. I can see how you earned the
sobriquet - "The Sonic Traducer". I understand you took several
vocal lessons over the years?
Andy: Yes, I studied folk from the famous John
Ford who taught Linda Perry of 4 Non-Blondes. I took Classical vocal
lessons from opera specialist: Udell Fry. I celebrate those vocalist
who sing from their chest, without quite hitting the falsetto. As
I previously indicated, Bruce Dickinson, and Dio are masters of this
"blend" approach. Mike Kiske of Helloween, and Ralph Scheepers
also attend to this notably.
MettleAngel: When I sat down to write the
review, it was difficult to pinpoint your range. At times you remind me
of Eric "A.K." Knutson, and both vocalists of Agent Steel. Lyrically,
you associate with the scholars of Agent Steel, as well. I'm sure you
will enjoy my CD review for Spellcaster. I just have to work on the final
editing process. I am very excited about the new material, as soon as
you secure a bassist. I think Pandemic have recorded a decent album, even
if the project was short lived. At least you have a My Space, so folks
can hear out the songs, for themselves.
MettleAngel: I appreciate you sending me a personal copy of the
CD. It is quite different, with both harsh and your soaring clean vocals.
The music is thrashy, and the lyrics are awesome, and inspiring! Andy,
I am so grateful that we finally had this opportunity to get to know one
Andy: Yes, so am I brother. It has really been
a blessing to speak with you, and discuss so much. We have so much
in common. We were destined to a meeting of the minds, and I really
appreciate all the support you have given the band. As the new songs
develop, I'll send them to you, so you can let me know your honest
opinions. I assume you enjoyed the covers I sent.
MettleAngel: Yes, the Megadeth cover of
- Holy Wars, the Slayer cover of - Die By The Sword, and the - Avenger
Demo all sound quite promising, although, the productions is still obviously
Andy: We will make the re-issue of Guardians
worth while, with live, and perhaps studio covers. We will give them
all the Midas Touch, as concerns production.
MettleAngel: Considering what you did with
Spellcaster, I'm sure those covers will kill!
Andy: Indeed! Michael, what a joy spending
my afternoon, your early evening, having this very fortuitous conversation.
You are truly a wonderful spirit. I am pleased you are recovering.
Keep resting, and as spring approaches, you will greatly improve.
You truly get me, and I sincerely appreciate this.
MettleAngel: Yes, brother, I have truly
enjoyed speaking with someone, who's academic achievements supersede my
own. I admire your wisdom and humility. I also embrace your Italian romantic
nature; you have a true passion for greater understanding, and a real
love of life.
also: review of
the album Spellcaster