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Phoenix Reign Interview

Phoenix Reign Interview

C: Tell us a little about the recording process of the album.

Theresa: This album took over a year to complete. Since we’re self-produced, we basically had our hands in the pot in every aspect of recording, from conception to printing. We physically recorded the basic tracks at Spin Studios in Astoria, Queens, which was a lot of fun. The studios are known for their other prestigious clients such as Alex Skolnick, Chris Caffery and the rest of the Trans-Siberian Orchestra. After we laid down drums, bass, rhythm, etc., we moved on to our producer Themi Kyriazis’s home studio and completed vocals and leads, as well as mixing. It was an intense process but honestly, looking back on it, those weekends we spent hanging out with Themi were always fun, comparing notes on metal, eating, having a drink and creating Destination Unknown!

Phoenix Reign

Questions about the new album and the songwriting process:

Gus: Recording an album is a lot more work than people think. Especially if you are a perfectionist and you keep changing things until you get what sounds good. It was a lot of hard work but it was worth it.

Wayne: It was very interesting and sometimes frustrating. It took a day and a half to get all the drum tracks down. In a way I felt a little rushed because we were paying for studio time out of our own pockets, so I had to do as much as I could in one day. I probably would have finished it all in one session but when it came to do "Constantinople" I ran into some problems. I saved that one for last since it’s the longest song on the album and has so many different parts from the rest of the songs. Of course during mixing we ended up taking some drum parts out, but it wasn’t planned during recording. It actually made the song become what it is now. It’s our epic masterpiece.

Billy: It was long but fun. I got to learn some cool guitar tricks from our friend the engineer, Themi Kyriazis. We got to experiment a little bit and come out with some cool little vocal and guitar melodies to fill in spots here and there.

C: Give us a little insight about the native Greek instruments used on "Constantinople"; what they are and what they do.

Billy: The instrument in the beginning and in the first part of the song is called the tzoura. It is a little bit smaller than the bouzouki and from the same family with a higher-pitched sound. The bouzouki is a stringed instrument with a pear-shaped body and a very long neck The instrument is played with a plectrum and has a sharp metallic sound. The kanonaki (or kanun) is traditionally a Greek/Armenian instrument from Asia Minor (present day Turkey), which is plucked and rested on the lap and you hear it in the bridges and the outro. Asia Minor and the hinterland of Constantinople (Thrace) were a part of the Greek Byzantine Empire. The musical traditions from the Medieval Ages reached modern Greece and heavily influenced its popular music again in the 1920s and 1950s after Greek refugees fled the Ottoman Empire/Turkey and other parts of the Middle East during times of persecutions.

Theresa: The tzoura is like a smaller scale version of the bouzouki, which is a traditional Greek stringed instrument sort of like the guitar is. It’s got a more pear-shaped body, however. We are lucky to have a guitarist like Gus who is trained in playing these kinds of instruments, which gave us such an amazing sound to "Constantinople". The kanun, or the kanonaki, is an instrument from the Asia Minor region, which you can find anyone from a Greek to an Arab playing, is a lap-stringed instrument that you play by plucking. You can hear it over the bridges and outro to the song…it’s really very beautiful, and we had the great fortune of finding an Armenian musician from the area to play for us.

Gus: The instrument at the very beginning which also appears somewhere on the first verse is called a tzoura, which is a smaller version of the bouzouki. The kanoun, which comes in later, is a traditional instrument used a lot in the Middle East and in Greece also.

C: Who is your main lyricist/songwriter?

Billy: It had been me in the past but when Theresa came aboard we joined forces and now collaborate.

Theresa: Lyrically it’s either Billy or myself…more of the tracks that were composed before I was even in the band can be attributed to Billy. In terms of songwriting, it’s anything goes really, because one of us usually comes into practice with something. Like one day, I’ll have written something on the guitar and I’ll show an idea to the guys, or on the piano, and we’ll take it from there. Songs are a group effort.

Wayne: Mostly it’s Billy or Theresa who write lyrics and the band as a whole pretty much writes the actual music. Its weird how we write the music because its almost like we know what each other is thinking. Someone will either start playing something on the guitar or I’ll make a drum beat just in between practices and we’ll start jamming on something. Sometimes it'll turn into a song or it'll just be a spur of the moment thing and we forgot what we were playing if we try to go back to it later on. (Laughs)

Gus: The music is a mixture of an effort from all of us. Having good chemistry is very important in this matter. Lyrics are written mainly by Theresa and Billy.

C: For our readers who have not heard your music, what kind of things do you write about? Do you feel it’s important to have "music with a message", or are you more spontaneous and write whatever you are feeling?

Theresa: "Music with a message" can sometimes be taken by groups as "music with only one topic". We write about a lot of things, from history, to emotions. I think we might be strongest when we’re exploring historical topics but at the same time, we seem to have a knack for exploring the aspect of finding the strength to carry on with whatever you’re doing in life. At least that’s what I think. The guys might have a different take!

Billy: "Run Now" is sort of a song where we put ourselves in the shoes of a fictional convict that has remorse about the course his life has taken. "Constantinople 1453" has an educational message about being aware of a great struggle that happened between the Christians defending Europe and the Arabs defending their civilization from the onslaught of the Ottoman Muslim Empire that enslaved Eastern Europe and the Middle East for 400 years. This is viewed trough the eyes of a "fictional" Varangian bodyguard of the last emperor of the thousand year Byzantine Empire, Constantine Palaiolologos XI. "Wherever You Are" is a song of lost love whereas other songs just deal with just about anything that might also inspire us. We joke that "Destination Unknown" is about a bunch of young bikers riding into the sunshine.

C: Obviously your Greek heritage is a large part of your musical identity. What do you want people to walk away with in regards to learning about your culture when they listen to your music?

Gus: If there is a little Greek element in our music, it is because it comes natural to me.

Theresa: Well I’m not Greek myself, but I am a historian in training (getting my Masters as we speak), so I know that Greek history offers a lot to people and deserves to be explored, whether it’s the classic period, the Byzantine or the modern. My bandmates would probably say they think it’s cool to have these things offered in a musical context because it’s not often done in the metal world (not that Viking history isn’t cool too, ‘cause it is!).

Billy: We have other songs that are not on the current record that are about the Iliad and the Odyssey, the two classics of western literature, but as for the album, "The Gates of Bosphorus" is an inspirational instrumental trying to put you in that state of mind where "Constantinople" will take you over and make you wonder about a subject that is not often talked about in school. That subject is the Eastern Roman Empire/Byzantium. Basically, the history of Greece, Russia, Armenia, and the rest of Eastern Europe from 300 A.D. into the 15th century. There is more to European history than King Arthur and unfortunately kids need to know because their very own history was affected by those people and events. Current political struggles and wars are based on what happened in 1453!

Chris: Music is yet another medium in which people can learn history, culture, and life. Yes, schools do a fine job educating the young, yet the content is skewed toward Western European history (this is understandable, since America was colonized by Western powers). I would love it if people listen to our songs about Greek history and it sparks an interest and attraction. Hopefully, this will inspire the listeners to further investigate for themselves this rich historical story, which spans from centuries ago, that inspired many civilization of modern history. We also have some awesome artwork on the CD from a brilliant artist from Greece (Iannis Nikou), which depicts military history of Greece’s past.


Questions about the band’s history:

C: Tell us a little about your beginnings; how you got from Greece to the U.S. and some of the events in-between.

Billy: I was born here in New York but about 10 months old my family moved back to Greece. I spent my early childhood in Greece and received my early schooling there. I later returned to the U.S. at age nine with valuable insights and impressions from my ancestral homeland, which I visit regularly.

Theresa: I wasn’t around for the original formation but the guys can help you here. I was a friend of the band first, and it just so happened when they parted ways with their original singer that I was at the right place at the right time, and with a recommendation of a friend I eventually ended up getting the spot.

C: Your band bio says that you had another singer before Theresa. Was your former singer also a woman? Was it always your intent to be a female-fronted band, or did that just happen as a result of hiring Theresa?

Theresa: It was actually Eugene, a guy, and no they never really entertained the idea of a female singer before me, as they can tell you.

Gus: Our former singer was a guy. When we were looking for a replacement we never thought of getting a woman. Theresa was a friend from before and somebody told us to try her out. I did not know she was singing. When we tried her out we liked her potential, noticed she fit in right away and very importantly knew she was a great person and kept her without any second thoughts.

Billy: No we had a couple of male singers and then a steady one who was also our friend. We did not like the singers we had because they had a low voice that reminded us of Pearl Jam and the like and we wanted a Halford or a Dickinson. We settled on Theresa after she blew us away on an audition after a mutual friend approached us to try her out. We had a lot of females trying out which was shocking but none had made an impression like Theresa because she also knew our songs very well.

Wayne: I was actually invited into the band by the original singer. His name was Eugene, and at the time there weren’t all these metal bands with female singers. So when it was time to find a replacement for Eugene we weren’t thinking of getting a female vocalist at all. We tried out quite a few male singers and none of them really fit with our style of music. It was almost getting to the point for me where I thought we weren’t going to find a replacement for Eugene and the band’s over. It ended up that Theresa was a friend of Eugene’s and she liked our music and she’s been to our shows, so one of Theresa’s friends brought it to our attention that Theresa could sing and we should try her out for the band. We gave it some thought and finally gave her a tryout. Then we realized we found our replacement and the rest is history from there. To me that’s when the band finally became a real band.

C: How long have each of you been playing music?

Wayne: When I was about 5 I played guitar and one day during my guitar lesson someone comes into the music store and starts playing the drums. I still remember it to this day the guy was going crazy I never heard anything like that before. So after my guitar lesson I told my mom I wanted to play drums. It wasn’t ‘til I was about 8 or 9 that I would get my first drum set and I’ve been playing for 20 years. I am self-taught. I took lessons in school for about a week and got bored of it so I just taught myself. I would play along to Guns ‘N’ Roses, Metallica, AC/DC, whatever I was listening to at the time.

Chris: I began playing piano from the age of 6. As I grew older, I developed an interest in the guitar and bass guitar.

Gus: I have been playing for 21 years. I started learning classical guitar when I was still in Athens from the age of 10. Professionally I have been playing since 19.

Billy: I have been playing since the sixth grade. First the alto saxophone, and then the guitar.

Theresa: I’ve been playing music since I was at least 6 or 7…I sang in school, then I started piano lessons, then I moved on to guitar in high school…I played in a few small jam projects before Phoenix Reign but nothing too serious. I’ve always been writing though, because it’s just a way for me to de-stress and get things off my chest. For example, the first day I got a guitar, I didn’t know how to play it but I sure as hell tried to write a song. (Laughs)


Questions about live performances and the band’s present state:

C: You guys have been a fixture on the local club scene for several years now. What are some of the best memories, or most memorable performances for you?

Wayne: I would say the most memorable performance was our very first show with our first singer. A friend of mine was having a party in his backyard and he invited us along with some other bands to play. This was about the time that the Blair Witch movie came out and he lived almost in the back of the woods so we were all waiting for the Blair witch to come it was fun. The other time was our first actual show in a place called Castle Heights, which has now closed. I remember everyone bought something new I bought new drums; Chris, Gus and Billy bought new amps for that show. We’ve blown many circuit breakers at shows, broken strings, forgot stands for drums…the list goes on. (Laughs)

Billy: One of my favorite recent moments was when we played at L’amours club in Manhattan. The occasion unfortunately was a sad one because it was the Dimebag Darrell tribute but we went one and literally blew out the electricity! In the middle of "Another Night Alone", the power to the venue went out and we where just chugging alone with our fans singing for about half a minute. Then of course the power went on and we continued as if nothing happened.

Theresa: We’ve played a bunch of great gigs…some of the ones that stand out are the Dimebag Darrell tribute show in 2005 at Don Hills just for the fact that so many people we there and really just enjoying metal in his memory…and there was the time we opened up for Riot which was great. We’ve also had so much fun whenever we played Castle Heights, or gigs booked by the guys from there after it closed. The coolest feeling is to have people you haven’t seen in a while, or in my case family I haven’t seen in years, show up at shows and go "WOW! That’s really YOU?!" because they’re so impressed.

Chris: Playing at CBGB’s was very special---this was the place where many famous bands performed, such as the Ramones. We were actually able to play on the same stage as many of those great bands.

Gus: Every performance has something in it. Especially when you know you are playing next to people who are your good friends. I enjoyed the performances at the Continental, which unfortunately, is not used as a venue for live music anymore.

C: What kind of audience does Phoenix Reign have? Does it seem to be a certain group of people or do you get various types of folks at your shows? Any hardcore fans that have followed you from show to show?

Gus: We have invited friends to our shows that are not metal fans and they found our music quite interesting.

Wayne: I think it’s a very wide-ranged group of people. Its not just metal fans. We play with a lot of different kinds of bands. So sometimes we will get people liking us from their crowd, which is good because then you know that there are people that just like music for music and not put everything into categories. I think we play a little something for everyone. There are a few hardcore fans some we even started becoming friends with and talk to them on a regular basis and that’s really cool.

Theresa: We have a select group of hardcore fans that show up to as many shows as possible…they’re really awesome people and a lot of them are good friends now. As for the types of people we draw in general, it’s pretty varied, we can have 16-year-olds to 45-year-olds coming to any given show because we seem to hit a chord with the new breed and the old school because of our approach at tradition metal sounds, with a modern twist.

Billy: Because our age group varies a little we get kids from 16 into their 40s. Some are loyal and come to as many gigs as they can. After a while we just make them into roadies. (Laughs)

C: Since you have not had the opportunity to tour outside of the East Coast area, what other places (here in the U.S. or outside of it) would you like to visit?

Chris: Playing in Europe would be great---especially in Greece. I would love to play [in Europe] in front of people where metal music is still going strong.

Theresa: Definitely Europe…Germany is a big place I want to hit up because we have a growing number of people listening to us out there. A beautiful country. Greece as well, because I think the hardcore metalheads there would be able to appreciate what we do on a personal level.

Gus: If it is a serious venue, anywhere in the U.S. is fine.

Billy: California and Seattle amongst others, maybe Hawaii. Brazil, Germany, Greece, Japan, Dubai, wherever they’ll have us.

Wayne: Anywhere that will let us play.

C: Your music is getting airplay on some college radio stations. Has that extended your fanbase among the younger metal fans? How do they take to your brand of old-school metal?

Billy: So far it’s positive. It can only help.

Theresa: A lot of the younger fans dig what we do because they’re usually introduced to metal with Maiden, Priest, etc…and while they go on to newer styles of metal as well, I think it’s hard for them to shake that the "old" style isn’t cool anymore or something. Because good music, is good music period, in my opinion. It is something that’s timeless.

Wayne: I think so. I think some people are just tired of hearing the stuff on the regular everyday radio stations and they’re looking for something new, something different. They hear us and that’s what they get.

C: Now that you’ve actually had the chance to record a full-length album, which do you prefer: working in the studio or performing live?

Wayne: Studio and live are completely different. I like the studio ‘cause if you mess up you have another chance to correct it. Live on the other hand if you mess up, that’s it, you can’t stop in the middle of a song and start over again. I really like the studio because there you can work on the sounds you want; whereas to some live shows you really don’t have any control over that. I love playing live as well because you get to hear people react to your songs. When there’s a good crowd you get pumped up and it’s amazing how it feels to hear people cheering for you.

Gus: Both are important and fun but they each have their own purpose. Working at the studio, everything has to be perfect and it takes much longer. But making an album is the best way to promote your music to other places in the world and to get recognized. Live performances have the real feel. It is your opportunity to express yourself and to communicate with the crowd. To be an all around musician I think you have to experience both.

Chris: Working in the studio is a great experience. You can experiment with different ideas and find out that a "newer" idea may fit the song better. Of course, the final product that comes out of the studio is an awesome sound that you are extremely proud of. However, playing in front of fans who are cheering loudly for your songs cannot be beat.

Theresa: Working in the studio for days when I want to be really creative, live when I want to get the lead out, and show the world what we’re really about. Because honestly, our sound is adequately reproduced on CD but it’s not truly authentic until the amps are cranked and we’re all sweating like assholes up there performing the tracks we love.

Billy: I honestly like both. In the studio we get to add some of the finishing touches but live you get the energy you want out.

C: What are some pre-show rituals for you? What are the "brown M&Ms" of Phoenix Reign’s dressing room?

Theresa: That’s funny you mention…because I was just reading about Van Halen before. (Laughs) But I think my own personal brown M&M is nothing edible, rather sonic…I need to listen to some of my favorite bands on to the way to a gig to really psyched to play. I’ll listen to Sonata Arctica, Iron Maiden, Entwine, Dio, Nightwish, Nevermore, whatever it is I’m feeling at the moment. Otherwise a glass of Pilsner before a gig doesn’t hurt!

Chris: Food. We love to eat food. Pizza, Taco Bell, or Combos will do just fine. Billy and I love to get a Guinness right before going on stage.

Gus: I usually like to warm up my fingers by playing the scales up and down but a lot of times you have your friends around so you just hang out.

Billy: Stretching our fingers and worrying about our friends that are running late, on what is called "Greek time". (Laughs)

Wayne: For me it really depends on the place, crowd, other bands, what time we’re playing. I’m a moody person sometimes.

Phoenix Reign

Questions about the band’s musical influences:

C: What bands influenced you when starting to play music? Which bands of today do you see as keeping the metal torch alive for future generations?

Billy: Iron Maiden of course, Manowar, Scorpions, Motley Crue, and Yngwie Malmsteen. Dokken too. I really like this new band from Greece, that guitar virtuoso Gus G. is in, called Firewind.

Theresa: Iron Maiden definitely, most of the first songs I learned on guitar were by them. I also have some personal influences from bands like Helloween, Dream Theater to even Type O Negative…you may not necessarily hear those bands in what we write but I’ll think of them from time to time when writing: "How would such and such approach this? How am I doing it differently or similarly?" Bands keeping alive the metal torch now I’d say is anyone still playing good songs, like Sonata Arctica, Nevermore, Evergrey…I’ve recently gotten into Mercenary and Into Eternity as well. The old greats that are still performing are keeping it alive just by still doing it.

Wayne: Def Leppard was the first rock band I ever listened to. That was probably around 1985. I remember seeing their videos on MTV. The songs like "Bringing on the Heartbreak" and "Photograph" really made a huge impact on me. When Hysteria came out, forget it, I couldn’t get enough of that album. I think I ended up buying it 4 different times because I would wear the tape out listening to it so much. Around 1990 I got into the more heavier stuff like Testament, King Diamond, Judas Priest, Mercyful Fate, Metallica, Kiss, Iron Maiden and Helloween. When a friend of mine gave me Helloween’s Keeper of the Seven Keys Part 2, I had the same feelings that I had with Def Leppard when I first heard them. It was the most amazing music I ever heard. It was fast, the choruses were catchy, the guitar solos were nothing like I heard before, and of course the drums were something new to me as well because it’s a totally different style of music from here in the States. The bands I think that are keeping the metal torch alive today are definitely Iron Maiden, Manowar, and Helloween. They have actually gotten more popular now than they might have been back in the ‘80s and ‘90s. I remember for the longest time where I would have to order CDs as imports and now with most bands I listen to I can just go FYE, Best Buy or even Target. I couldn’t believe when I saw the new Dragonforce album at Target! There are also a lot of newer bands that are doing a good job at keeping the metal torch alive like Sonata Arctica and Iced Earth.

Chris: Hearing Def Leppard playing on the radio for the first time really got me excited about playing with a band---it was almost automatic. Billy then introduced me to Iron Maiden, and my passion for metal music grew. I immediately got hooked with their bassist Steve Harris’ sound, which influenced me to begin playing that instrument. Iron Maiden is still beloved all over the world.

C: For Theresa: Were you a metal fan before joining Phoenix Reign? If so, what are some of your influences? Are any of them within the femme-metal genre? If you were not a metal fan, what do you think of the music now compared to when you first joined?

Theresa: I’ve been into metal since my cousins introduced me to the genre back as a kid…I really got hardcore into the scene at the end of junior high school into high school and went from there. As for influences, I think I managed to cover a few in the question above. Femme-metal, as you put it, is not something I’m primarily into but I do have a special appreciation for Nightwish and Lacuna Coil. They have very original sounds and it’s hard to follow up their acts. I also really loved what Amaran was doing when they were together.

C: What non-musical influences have impact on your songwriting, such as films or books?

Theresa: Whatever history book I’m reading at the time…I’m also a fan of comic books. Conan, X Men, Y: The Last Man, etc…

Billy: Star Wars and Back to the Future. Superman and Lord of the Rings. The Richard Burton, Alexander the Great movie. As for books I love history books, historical novels and comic books. My favorite book is the Byzantium trilogy by John Julius Norwich. Conan would be my favorite comic book hero of all time. Robert E. Howard was a great author the likes of HP Lovecraft and Tolkien. Marvel’s Thor too is up there.

C: What kind of music do you listen to that your fans would be shocked to know that you like?

Wayne: I like all types of bands. Mostly anything in the rock/metal category though. The most non-metal stuff that I listen to is Pulp, Weezer, The Wallflowers, and even Sugar Ray. I don’t know what got me into those bands but I like a lot of what they do.

Billy: Smooth Jazz. (Laughs) It calms me down. Also, heavy doses of Duran Duran.

Theresa: Flamenco. Jazz. I also love Garbage; Shirley Manson was a great influence on me when I was younger and I believe they’ve written some really under-appreciated music.

Gus: I have a special place in my heart for classical music. Greek music of course which I also happen to perform, and also bluegrass country music. I really would like to play the banjo someday.

Chris: You have to like bands like the Bee Gees! They had it all… funk, rhythm, and those awesome high (chipmunk) voices. I was, and still am, a huge fan of classical music---give me a Chopin or Mozart symphony any day!

C: Name the top 3 albums that changed your life.


   1) Iron Maiden: Somewhere in Time

   2) Manowar: Fighting the World

   3) Tie: Scorpions: Savage Amusement; Motley Crue: Dr. Feelgood


   1) Def Leppard: Hysteria

   2) Guns ‘N’ Roses: Appetite for Destruction

   3) Iron Maiden: Seventh Son of a Seventh Son


   1) Guns ‘N’ Roses: Appetite for Destruction

   2) Iron Maiden: Seventh Son of a Seventh Son

   3) Dream Theater: Images and Words


   1) Helloween: Keeper of the Seven Keys Pt. 2

   2) Def Leppard: Hysteria

   3) Metallica: Metallica (the "black" album)


Questions about the femme-metal scene and the metal scene in general:

C: As a band with European roots immigrating to the States, give us some insight as to how the two music scenes differ.

Wayne: I believe that in the States the music is more aggressive than in Europe. People always seem to be angry about something here. Of course anger can turn into great music but after a while, especially now, it’s a little too overdone. There hasn’t been a band from the States yet that I can say I really like. Also here in the States if you’re not popular no one wants to hear you. Where as in Europe it seems like they will at least give things a chance. Look at David Hasselhoff; he’s huge in Europe. (Laughs)

Theresa: I was born here, but my grandmothers and grandfathers immigrated after World War II. I’m half Irish and half Ukrainian. So I grew up pretty ethnic, and with a lot of emotional connection to "The Old World." From what friends and relatives tell me, and from what I can tell personally from brief excursions, the European scene is much more dynamic. It’s much more "above-ground." America seems to suffer from a generalized lack of respect for the genre, but in Europe, there’s at least a begrudging nod towards these musicians for what they can do. Commercialization and whatnot affects us here, and while it obviously does across the Atlantic as well, it doesn’t totally silence the scene. They find ways…what can I say?

Billy: Europe is power metal and Iron Maiden while America is Korn/Slipknot. ‘Nuff said.

C: Which femme-metal bands out there are you fans of, or metal bands altogether?

Wayne: I really like Within Temptation. Her voice gives me chills. I also like Lullacry, and a new band called Beautiful Sin. I’m waiting to see who the new Nightwish singer is. I liked them as well so we’ll see what happens after she’s revealed. Other bands I like are Dimmu Borgir, Grave Digger, Blind Guardian, Tarot, Nevermore, Dream Theater, Kamelot. There’s so many I listen to it’s hard to list them all.

Chris: I do sort of like the sounds of Evanescence and No Doubt… they are not necessarily metal, but I can dig them.

Billy: Lacuna Coil and Nightwish prior to Tarja’s departure.

Theresa: I’ve mentioned a few, Nightwish, Lacuna Coil, Amaran...etc.

C: For Theresa: What are some of the pros and cons of being a female in a metal band?

Theresa: I don’t really see anything as a con…I pretty much consider myself a musician primarily and a gender second. The pros are that some people have a reaction like "Oh my God! You’re in a man’s world, let’s see what you can do!" and I take extreme pleasure in showing them exactly how I do it. The only con I can think of is being lumped into an expected set of attributes…but I think anyone dislikes that. I don’t do classical singing, I don’t wear dresses on stage, and sometimes I have gotten the reaction that I SHOULD be doing that…but listen, you have one side of the spectrum and then you have the other. I doubt Angela of Arch Enemy would take very kindly to those comments either, for example.

C: The U.S. is beginning to flourish with a femme-metal scene all its own. How do you think Phoenix Reign differs, besides that you do not follow the run-of-the-mill gothic template?

Theresa: Well like you said we aren’t "goth" or "ren-faire" I guess…we just do what we do. We don’t come at this with a gimmick, except maybe that we appreciate history; we present ourselves like an all guy metal band might. As musicians.

Billy: As far as I know, in New York, we were amongst the first to embrace this movement. We do not necessarily have fairy-style vocals but more ballsy female singing ala Heart and Pat Benatar.

Wayne: We differ because we’re not playing the traditional commercial radio music that the others are doing. We’re trying to do it our way and how we like it.

Chris: We try and keep our music pure, with classical guitar dual harmony riffs and historical lyrics.

C: For Theresa: Being a woman in a metal band is still not as widespread in the States as it seems to be in Europe. Have you had any negative experiences with hecklers or obnoxious audiences? If so, how did you handle it? What would you say to those who still carry the outdated attitude that women don’t "belong" in metal?

Theresa: No hecklers thankfully, at least not yet. I don’t have a personality that really seems standoffish or particularly girly-girl so I think for that alone I’ve avoided the primadonna stereotype people formulate in their heads before seeing us…and the antiquated attitude that women shouldn’t be in metal has somewhat passed but it’ll be nice once more American female-fronted bands come into prominence so that everyone doesn’t think it’s only Evanescence or something.

C: OK, I address the last question to the bandmembers too…obviously you guys have no qualms about having a female in your band. What have been some of the positives and negatives for you? What is your take on those who consider female-fronted metal a "novelty"?

Wayne: The positives would have to be that people like to see to female-fronted bands nowadays. It’s almost becoming the norm. It definitely gets the fans interested when they know you have a female singer. They like to see how it plays out with metal music. The negatives, I’m not really sure. So far I don’t think there are any negatives with us. For the ones who consider female-fronted metal a novelty, to me that means they’re really not into doing it for the love of music but only for money. For that reason I think that’s why there hasn’t been that next big band to blow everyone away.

Billy: Nah, they are here to stay. As long as there are male singers like Halford and Dickinson around we need to have strong women too.

Chris: Positives have been we can explore other avenues in the music we play, that we couldn’t do with a male. It does also provide the band with a "sexuality" factor. I really haven’t experienced any negatives---we are all having a great experience!

C: For Theresa: What advice would you give to young girls out there today, looking to the femme-metal scene for role models they can admire? What is the most important thing you would want those in the hopes of being the next femme-metal superstar to know?

Theresa: I’d advise any young girl to get music lessons and improve your own craft, whether it’s singing, guitar, drums, so you can contribute to the scene to the best of your ability. Being self-taught is great but don’t neglect the heaps of stuff you can learn from a teacher. It’s fun to worship musical idols but I’m someone that is all for being proactive in your future. If you idolize a particular woman out there who is performing, you can do her some good by forming your own band and getting more music out there for people to hear. In terms of general life lessons you can learn from female musicians, I’d say that it’s one of being strong and adventurous. You can take their initiative and drive and apply it to what you’re doing in life. Grab life by the cojones. Don’t let someone else do it for you…because trust me, there’s always some other hungry dog out there wanting it more.

C: OK, let’s get candid for a moment here…we all know that the U.S. is not exactly the most metal-friendly country on earth. In what ways do you see certain advantages (or disadvantages) because of this?

Chris: Although it put greater stress and energy from our end, we can be pioneers in building up this music once again. It wasn’t that long ago, early 1970s to mid-1980s, when this music [was] number one on the charts---people crowd venues when they hear of their bands coming around for reunion tours. I believe they are starving for this "old-time sound", and I am more than happy to provide it to them, with a year 2000 twist.

Wayne: It’s a huge disadvantage because like I said before if you’re not famous here no one wants to give you the chance. There are the few that want to hear something new but not as much as there should be.

Theresa: Advantages…you become involved in a very passionate underground American metal scene. It’s a fight for survival club that sometimes I don’t think our European cousins totally appreciate. Disadvantages of course are that we don’t have the same chances to be heard as European bands but thankfully, with the rise of the internet, things are starting to change.

Billy: We can be original and start our own trends. No one expects anything but the worst from metal. (Laughs) So up is the only way to go.


Silly/trivial questions:

C: What are some of the best concerts you’ve ever been to, metal or otherwise?

Billy: The Iron Maiden reunion show at Hammerstein Ballroom, NYC, 7/16/99. Billy Idol’s last one with Steve Stevens. Dokken, Whitesnake & Scorpions, 03/05/03 at Madison Square Garden.

Theresa: Iron Maiden at MSG in 2000 on the Brave New World Tour…the first Gigantour was great too because I saw so many of my favorite bands in one night like Megadeth, Dream Theater, Nevermore, etc.

Chris: I had a great time at a Pink Floyd concert at Giants Stadium over 10 years ago… wow, what an experience!

Wayne: My first concert ever was when Bruce Dickinson came back to Iron Maiden. That was probably the best concert I saw to this day. I’ve seen Helloween as well and them being my favorite band, their concert was probably just as good as the Iron Maiden show. I’ve also seen Sonata Arctica, King Diamond, Overkill, Iced Earth, Fozzy, Weezer and My Chemical Romance. (My girlfriend dragged me to that one; I haven’t been the same since!) I don’t get to too many shows.

C: Which bands (of any genre) would you like to perform with as a "dream tour"?

Wayne: Definitely Helloween and Iron Maiden.

Billy: Iron Maiden, Manowar, Judas Priest, Dio, Scorpions, Dokken and ZZ Top.

Theresa: Evergrey, Sonata Arctica for the moment. The ultimate dream of course would be Iron Maiden!

Chris: Iron Maiden, of course!

C: Quick! A natural disaster has struck your CD collection, and you only have a chance to save one. Which one? And which 3 CDs would you replace immediately after this catastrophe has struck?

Theresa: Oh noes! I’d save Seventh Son of a Seventh Son…then I’d have to replace eventually Remedy Lane by Pain of Salvation as well as Dream Theater’s Images and Words, and Nightwish’s Once, for variety.

Billy: Dokken’s Tooth and Nail. I will replace Iron Maiden’s Number of the Beast, my best of Greek Rembetika compilation (the Greek Blues) and ZZ Tops’ Greatest Hits.

Wayne: Helloween Treasure Chest. That way I can at least listen to most of the better Helloween songs. Iron Maiden Best of the Beast, Sonata Arctica Best Of, and King Diamond/Mercyful Fate Best Of. You can never go wrong with best ofs.

Chris: Grab the iPod…it’s all in there! I guess I’d grab my Def Leppard Hysteria CD…it was the first album (it was a cassette back then) I ever purchased.

C: Another fantasy question: you’ve got 1 day in Rock ‘n’ Roll Heaven. All the deceased greats of the past are before you. Which 4 or 5 of them would you assemble for an afterlife band jam? (Keep in mind that you would be in this band and playing the instrument that you play now, so choose wisely!)

Billy: Randy Rhoads (guitar), John Bonham (drums), John Entwistle (bass) and Elvis Presley (vocals). Hey, it’s fantasy Rock and Roll heaven not reality.

Theresa: Dimebag Darrell, Randy Castillo and Cliff Burton. Oh man that would be a freakin’ wicked metal jam right there! RIP to all three of those giants.

Chris: George Harrison and Jimi Hendrix on guitar, John Bonham on drums, and Elvis on vocals.

Wayne: I don’t think I can answer that because the only dead musicians I liked were drummers.


Questions about the band’s future and closing questions/statements:

C: Now that your first album is out there for public consumption, would you consider something like a DVD?

Chris: A picture is worth a thousand words…

Wayne: A DVD would be great, but we would have to make it something special. I don’t think now would be a great time to do it because we haven’t broken out in the music world yet, but maybe after the next album. Who knows? You never know what will happen from then ‘til now. It would be nice though.

Theresa: I’d personally love a DVD. Like I said earlier, it’s hard to reproduce the live atmosphere, so something recording us on stage at a great gig would be able to convey that to others. We’ll see! I think that’s something we can consider one of the next things on the agenda.

Billy: Yes there is an idea in the works. Top Secret.

C: Are there any songs you have recorded that did not make it onto Destination Unknown for whatever reason? Any plans to release them on a future album?

Billy: Of course there are. Most of them are sort of previous tracks from demos that will hopefully get a full treatment along with the new material that we are working on.

Chris: There are songs that we couldn’t put on (not enough time, etc.), but we have them lined up and ready to go for the next one.

Wayne: Yeah, we have a couple of songs from our first 3 demos that aren’t on Destination Unknown. I’m sure most if not all will be recorded in the future. There’s a lot of stuff people haven’t heard before.

Theresa: We have plenty of songs that never got on the album…we recorded exactly enough but there were songs on our demos that didn’t get onto it because either we didn’t think it fit the theme or we felt we should save it for the future. We’re still constantly writing so we always have something new in our bag of tricks.

C: What are your tour plans for the near future? Where can our readers catch a Phoenix Reign show in the coming weeks/months?

Wayne: We have a CD release party in NYC on May 4th.

Billy: Album release party on May 4th, 2007 at Ace of Clubs. Then an Astoria Festival in Queens.

Theresa: We’re playing a show April 22nd at Shamrocks on Long Island. On May 4th we have our CD Release Party at Ace of Clubs in Manhattan. We’re planning the summer gigs now, and you can always check [our website] for what’s coming up. We’ll be doing more out-of-state gigs in the future.

Chris: The sky’s the limit.

C: Any new songs waiting in the wings for the follow-up album, or are you just focused on performing live for right now?

Theresa: We’re constantly writing…we just penned a track called "Illusionary" and we’ve got others under wraps. Hopefully once we really promote Destination Unknown and get some more attention drawn to our work, we can then focus more on getting solid ideas for a follow-up. I’m always ready for something new!

Billy: There are always songs.

Wayne: We have a new song called "Illusionary" that we have been playing at the last couple of shows. It’s a little different from our other songs, where we use a keyboard through a lot of it. We have some older stuff that needs to be reworked as well.

C: Where do you see the future of Phoenix Reign? What goals would you like to accomplish?

Billy: Rock in Rio and a double CD with epics and regular metal songs.

Wayne: Hopefully we will get a lot of attention from the new album and we will get to tour the States or possibly overseas.

Chris: Touring other countries. Spreading the Hellenic word.

Theresa: I see us getting far…we’re doing something that not too many are at the moment. I’d like to accomplish an overseas tour, and I’d like to see us get a solid deal with a reputable record company that can promote us to the fullest extent. I think that’s what any good band would ask for: Respect.

C: In closing, any words you would like to say to our readers out there?

Theresa: Basically, check out our album Destination Unknown NOW!!! It’s for sale through the website [editor’s note: will also be available in the Sonic Cathedral shop in the near future]. It’s not like anything going on right now, it’s totally what we feel, without pressure from an exec or a promoter…we’re proud to say that this is a unique approach to metal and that Phoenix Reign is going to be around for a long time to come. I’ll see to that.

Wayne: Thanks for reading this and having interest in what we do. We hope to see you all at our shows soon.

Chris: Always set a ceiling for yourself…then break right through that ceiling and build yourself a penthouse!

Billy: Stay metal. Check out our album.

C: Thanks again for your time, this has been a lot of fun!

Theresa: Awesome, it was fun to answer!

Wayne: Thanks C., for interviewing us, Matt Bankes [from Rising Forces U.S.A.] for introducing us to Sonic Cathedral.