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Sonic Cathedral: 10-Year Top 10 Interviews

Sonic Cathedral 10 Year Top 10 Moments
A Reflection by C.

Time flies when you’re having fun, and it’s hard to believe that it’s been 10 years already since I joined the staff at Sonic Cathedral. Things have changed a lot in that time; the scene has expanded far beyond what anyone could have predicted, and many of the bands that spearheaded the femme-metal movement are still going strong and still making an impact.


When I first came to SC, I didn’t expect to do more than write the occasional review, but one thing I sort of “fell into” that I found I really enjoyed was interviewing the bands and musicians I wrote about. It was fun to “pick their brains” and find out what made them tick; how they decided to pursue music, what inspired them to write songs, and the little personality quirks that also contributed to their artistic sensibility that didn’t necessarily didn’t have anything to do with music. In short, it was fun to talk to them for a little while and get to know them as regular people.

Over the years, I’ve interviewed my share of bands and musicians, and all of them have been fun and memorable in their own way. So when the time came to start thinking about a way to commemorate my 10-year mark here, I thought of all those interviews and decided to compile a “top 10” list of those interviews that stuck out the most for me: the ones that were the most fun, the most interesting, or the ones that were nothing short of a dream come true.

#10: Sorronia


While this is one of the more recent interviews I’ve done and a fairly new band on the scene, I had to give Sorronia a mention because this interview actually took several months to put together. Parts of it were conducted during the band’s hectic schedule opening for Tarja early last year on her “Colours on the Road” tour, so I have to give a nod to Anna (the band’s frontwoman) for being so patient and generous with her time so that we could get this done. It has been great to watch this band’s rise up the ranks over the last couple of years. When I interviewed Anna in 2014, they had just finished opening for Tarja; now, as I write this, they are getting ready for open for Nightwish (one of their major influences) at a festival in Budapest. Just as it is for me with those “full circle” moments, when I get to interview someone who was an inspiration for me to combine my love of writing with my love of music; it is cool to see Sorronia get a chance to live their dream as they perform alongside the bands that inspired them to make music.

#9: Lydia’s Libido

Lydias Libido

This Texas-based supergroup was a fun interview not only because it was a blast talking to musicians who also had experience in other areas of art and entertainment (some of the bandmembers were script-writers and voice actors, for example); but this interview was also among one of my “dream come true” moments, when I got to interview the band’s at-the-time frontwoman, Samantha Newark. Growing up in the ‘80s, Sam was my idol as the iconic voice of the cartoon character Jem (“business woman by day, rock star by night!”), so to be able to talk to her about music (and a little about her time on the show) was one of those surreal moments where I wondered if I was dreaming! The part of me that remembered what I was like at 7 and 8 years old was jumping up and down in fangirl excitement. This was also one of my favorite interviews to do because the band had just played their very-first show, and even though I could not be there, they spent nearly 2 hours on the phone with me after playing the show to talk about almost anything I wanted. Sadly, Lydia’s Libido has since disbanded and the members have all gone on to other musical endeavors, but this short-lived project gave me the chance to connect with someone I had always wanted to meet. I still remain friends with everyone in the band and wish them well in whatever they choose to do. Hopefully when Sam’s long-awaited third solo album is finally released, I’ll get the chance to interview her again.

#8. Phoenix Reign

Phoenix Reign

Another short-lived band, this power metal quintet from New York City had only album, Destination Unknown, but it’s so damn good that I still have it on my playlist to this day. Three of the bandmembers originally hailed from Greece, and those influences crossed over into the music, with lyrics pertaining to Greek history. When I got the chance to talk to the band in 2007, they shared with me a lot of the stories behind some of these songs, which gave me a cool history lesson as well as a great interview! They were also a lot of fun; answering silly questions about what deceased musicians they’d form a band with if they could bring them back from the dead, and what albums they’d immediately replace after a natural disaster. Although it’s a shame that Phoenix Reign did not remain together, Billy (the band’s guitarist) has gone on to form the band Porphyra, who have become the first-ever metal band to play the legendary Carnegie Hall!

#7: A Sound of Thunder



Considering how much I have called A Sound of Thunder one of my favorite newer bands on the scene over the last couple of years, it might come a surprise that they only made the #7 slot on this list; but the only interview I have done with them for Sonic Cathedral so far was in early 2013, when I was still new to the band’s music and I was just getting to know the bandmembers. We have all become great friends since then and have a lot of fun talking to each other, so I await the opportunity to interview them again as they prepare for their 5th album, Tales From the Deadside, and an EP of cover tunes to follow. One of the hardest-working bands on the scene today, A Sound of Thunder are constantly giving their fans something new to look forward to, and they are also one of the most approachable bands I have ever met. Their fans can reach them on social media, outside after a show, or anywhere else they might be in or around their native Washington, D.C. In the modern age where some bands still have not really figured out how to make social media work for them or have not quite bridged that gap between themselves and their fans, A Sound of Thunder has made this their stock in trade and have used social media to their advantage; explaining how their die-hard fanbase has been able to keep them going for 5 albums without being signed to a label. This personable attitude towards their audience is also the reason they made such a great interview in the first place.

#6: Macbeth



The very first band I ever interviewed for Sonic Cathedral, I will always have a soft spot for Macbeth because I “cut my teeth” as an interviewer by talking to Fabrizio, the band’s drummer, over the years. He is one of my favorite people to interview because he always has something interesting to say, and no matter how long it has been since we last spoke, we can pick right back up as if we conducted an interview only yesterday. Macbeth went on a very long 7-year hiatus, but things have been super-busy for them since then! They have been one of my favorite “hidden gems” on the scene and every time I write a review about their music or have another interview with Fabrizio, I hope that whoever reading it will walk away loving them as much as I do.

Now we’re getting to the tough part: the top half of the list! Honestly, these next 3 entries could have occupied the same slot equally, but I’ll try my best to rank them!

 #5: Veronica Freemann

Veronica Freeman 


The front woman of Benedictum, Veronica Freeman is set to release her solo album Now or Never, and is showing the world just what she can do with that larger-than-life voice of hers. Talking to V. is like talking to an old friend; we clicked immediately the first time I interviewed her, and this last time interviewing her for her solo album, we sat on the phone for over 2 hours shooting the breeze about music and anything else that came to mind! There was a point when I had to reel myself back in and remember to ask questions about the album! These sorts of interviews are the most fun for me, because it doesn’t feel like your standard “interview”, where you ask a bunch of ready-made questions that could be addressed to anyone. The more “free-range” interview is the type I like best, because there are no limits. I feel comfortable in asking whatever I want, and the other person feels comfortable enough with me that they will not feel I am crossing any lines. Veronica is very much like this as a personality as well; she speaks her mind and says what she means. A lot of bands out there mean well when they do interviews and do try their best, but you can tell a lot of them get a little uneasy whenever the conversation tries to divert from the average questions they are used to getting. V. is definitely not this way; she’s not only warm and friendly, but she’s also open and honest. It’s nice when you get those interviews that almost conduct themselves, and V. is definitely one of them!

#4: Leather Leone

 Leather Leone


Known as “The Voice of the Cult”, Leather Leone was the voice of Chastain throughout the 1980s, back when metal was still very much a man’s game. Chastain has since reunited with Leather over the last couple of years, and are kicking ass just as much as they did in their heyday. Leather is another vibrant personality that takes no crap, tells it like it is, and lays it all out on the table. Even though she’s one of the pioneers in female-fronted metal, she would sooner do away with such labels altogether and simply be known as a great vocalist who wants to rock. Not one to let gender roles or outdated stereotypes dictate who she is or what she should do, Leather takes a cue from her mentor, Ronnie James Dio; playing to any audience anywhere she is wanted, and making music for the love of the craft and not for personal profit or gain (because let’s face it, metal music is not exactly a lucrative profession nowadays!). Leather intends to rock it until the wheels fall off, and this never-say-die attitude is Leather in a nutshell. She’s another person where, when we get together, the time flies and we have loads of fun talking to each other. Chastain is currently working on another album due for release sometime this year, so I am definitely excited at the prospect of getting another opportunity to chat with Leather again in the near future.

#3: Doro



The undisputed queen of heavy metal, Doro has been waving the metal flag since the age of 17, and is an artist that truly lives for her fans. Another trailblazer for women in metal, Doro managed to procure a devoted following during a time when being a female on the scene was rare, and has never let her gender get in the way of her metal mission. Talking to Doro was an experience I will never forget: her positive attitude radiates and is contagious; you can’t help but feel her enthusiasm when she talks about her music, or her honest admiration and respect for other artists both new and old alike. You can’t help but feel the genuine love she has for her fans, and her sincerity when she says that her audience means everything to her. Doro is lively, passionate, and a complete open book. Interviewing her doesn’t even require asking a lot of questions; you just let her do the talking and she will say a lot! To be a metalhead growing up in the ‘80s, Doro was someone young girls could look up to, and while she would never give herself so much credit, it goes without saying that her influence played a huge part in what femme-metal has become today. While I am no musician and was never inspired to start my own band, getting the chance to interview Doro was certainly another “dream come true” moment, and undoubtedly one of the biggest celebrities (if not the biggest) I have ever interviewed. Yet when you talk to Doro, you know you are in the presence of a star, but she never acts that way; there is no “rock star” pretension or any invisible barrier between her and her fans. Doro not only talks to you like a friend, but she listens to what you say. Put it this way: if Doro ever forms her own festival similar to the likes of Ozzfest or Gigantour, you can probably find the origins of that idea being formed during our interview together!

#2: Pamela Moore

 Pamela Moore


To metalheads, Pamela Moore will be forever known as the voice of “Suite Sister Mary” from the iconic Queensrÿche album Operation: Mindcrime, cited as one of the best metal concept albums of all time. But there is so much more to Pamela than that; coming from a musical family, her career has spanned musical genres from “blue-eyed soul” to singing commercial jingles, which landed her the gig with Queensrÿche nearly 30 years ago. After being beloved in the metal community for so long, Pamela has finally released a metal album of her own: 2013’s Resurrect Me. I first got to interview Pamela back in 2007, promoting both the sequel to Operation: Mindcrime, and her own solo album, Stories From a Blue Room. As a Queensrÿche fan since the age of 11, when I was given the choice to either interview Pamela or another artist who was very well-known on the metal scene (but whose music I was not as familiar with), the decision was easy for me. Interviewing Pamela was something to cross off my “bucket list”, and it certainly ranks as the top “dream come true” moment during my time at Sonic Cathedral. Over the years, I am honored to call Pamela my friend, and I love her combination of forthright honesty and kind-hearted patience. She is gracious to her fans and never forgets to thank them for their support, and that says a lot; especially nowadays, when so many artists take for granted where their success comes from. She means it when she says that as a vocal coach, she learns more from her students than she teaches them. It is that outlook that makes Pamela Moore so endearing to her fans and anyone who knows her.

#1: Nightwish



OK, so the #1 slot probably comes as no surprise to anyone, but to be honest, this was really a tough choice between the final two. In the end, Nightwish moved to the top spot, if only because they are a premier band at Sonic Cathedral and it is likely that my interviews with them have had greater readership than the others. However, their placement at the #1 spot is not undeserved; as Nightwish is one of my favorite bands, and so far I have had the highest number of interviews with them (tallying 3 altogether). I have felt very lucky to have had the chance to interview both Floor Jansen and Tuomas Holopainen at different times (once with Floor and twice with Tuomas). Even though I was interviewing Floor for ReVamp, much of our conversation went the way of Nightwish, as they were about to finish the Imaginaerum tour, where many deemed her the “savior” of the tour after the very abrupt departure of Anette Olzon in mid-tour. Floor is approachable, friendly, and just an overall cool person. Her storied career on the scene has not left her jaded or cynical; nor has the ample praise she has received for her talent given her any sort of ego or “diva” syndrome. Floor is down-to-earth and as real as you’re going to find these days. (Besides, anyone who loves dogs can’t be a bad person!) Same with Tuomas; he is one of the nicest people I’ve ever had the chance to sit down and talk to in an interview setting. The first time I interviewed him, I gave him fan-submitted questions, and he did not hesitate in answering any of them (even asking for more after the interview was officially finished!). The second time I interviewed him, he told me a little about the book he hopes to someday finish, which led to a fun discussion about writing, writers’ block, and the shared frustrations we both have (on different levels) when it comes to “getting in the zone” and being able to simply write. Tuomas is direct, charming, and makes you feel at ease. Interviewing him never feels like an interview; it seems more like a chat over tea or coffee, just talking about music until the time passes. If any band could encompass the Sonic Cathedral experience and could perfectly sum up the fantastic time I have had here over the last 10 years, none could be more perfect than Nightwish.

My autographed Nightwish calendar, signed by Tuomas.

Special thanks to John Wolff, Robin Stryker, and all the Sonic Cathedral writers, past and present. Thanks also to the record labels and management who helped to make these interviews possible, and to the bands themselves for doing their part to make these such awesome experiences. Thanks in advance to the bands and artists I have yet to interview.

Props to Matthew Bankes, Tim Borzi, and Oceansouls of America; the first two for introducing me to some of the kick-ass bands on this list, and the last for all the love and support. Thanks also to Kevin Thunder and William Telltale at The Will & Thunder Show, for giving me a place to promote Sonic Cathedral every Tuesday night.

Extra-special thanks to Jan Hedman, who believed in me and who prompted me to start writing for Sonic Cathedral. I wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for you. I am forever indebted to you for bringing me to my home.

Most of all, thanks to YOU, the Sonic Cathedral readers who read my lengthy reviews and interviews; for encouraging me to keep going. Here’s to another 10 years!

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