Thy Will Be Done frontman J. Costa spoke to us about the band's new EP, Temple, their new album, Eye.On Lion Recordings, the current state of metalcore and more.
Can you begin by telling us your name and what you do in the band?
J. Costa. I write music, lyrics, make phone calls, write emails, drive (exclusively), tour manage, design merchandise (with another band member), handle marketing, manage the label, make executive decisions for the band, a ton of other things I'm forgetting at this juncture, and, oh yeah, I sing on our recordings and also on stage.
Your new EP, Temple, comes out September 25th. Tell us a bit about it.
Temple is our third release following our previous albums, In Ancient of Days (2009) and Was And Is To Come (2007). We produced it ourselves with our guitarist, Kurt Fraunfelter, engineering the whole thing. He has a degree in audio science and was aptly qualified to handle it and did an outstanding job. For the mix, that was all handled by Zeuss. He worked on our previous albums and does impeccable work. It only made sense to have him make this EP sound that much more crushing! As for mastering, I asked Matt Azevedo, who mastered our debut and whom actually grew up in the same town as I did and attended the same grade schools. He's a brilliant engineer with an incredible ear.
Why did you decide to release an EP as opposed to a full length?
We were already in the process of tracking a myriad of new songs when we realized that there were a few songs that had a different feel to them. These happen to come from a very dark period in my personal life as well as a time of struggle for some of the other members as well. We decided to focus on these songs and ultimately capture those struggles and the anguish felt from that period. From a strictly sonic perspective, this EP serves to bridge the proverbial gap between what was and is to come from us. No pun intended.
What's it like working with Zeuss?
Zeuss is great! He produced our two previous albums with us. We produced Temple ourselves: I personally took on the role of executive producer with Kurt engineering it. But, getting back to Zeuss, he did the final mix of Temple which, quite honestly, came out stellar! Zeuss doesn't try and "change" a band's sound; he just dials in what they already do and uses his gift to blow it out of the stratosphere. That's what we love about him. Often times, in this day and age with technological shortcuts, bands can sound so similar to one another that there's very little to help one differentiate between acts. Some of this can be attributed to some "producers" even using computer-generated guitar tones. That's not us, and that's not Zeuss.
Zeuss has an extensive knowledge of how to capture sound because that's how he learned; on tape. In the very early stages of this band, we did everything analog when doing demos years ago. You've got to know your parts and nail it as a band. As an engineer, you have to know how the frequencies work together to have the best possible outcome. And, in our opinions, Zeuss exemplifies that art!
You're releasing the EP through your own label, Eye.On Lion Recordings. How did that decision come about?
We're a blue-collar band, working class guys who make music. I was raised with work ethics, morals and a DIY mentality. As a band, we've always wanted to preserve our expressions as well as the way they reach the listener. It's important for us to have a fan feel, see and hear the finished piece as closely to the creative source of energy as possible. Eye.On Lion is a way for us to offer our artistic creations to those who choose to support us and, by proxy, excludes a lot of middle people.
Growing up, I've always thought about having my own label and could identify with labels like Dischord that seemed to be doing things from a passionate perspective. I also found it inspiring seeing artists like Jack White and Mike Patton, amongst others, as well as bands like Neurosis, Tool and Clutch, whom have decided to blaze their own trail in this ever changing industry. Having worked with Jamey Jasta and his Stillborn label for our first two releases, I was inspired even more to want to maintain the DIY ethos I've always had and start this label. Jamey's belief in us got us started on this journey. Not only do we consider him family, but also an inspiration to us.
Will you release music from other bands through Eye.On Lion, or is it primarily for Thy Will Be Done?
Currently, Eye.On Lion Recordings is an extension of Thy Will Be Done's vision and serves as a conduit for all our related projects.
It has been three years since your last release. How have you been spending your down time?
Becoming. Living and breathing. Healing and seeking inspiration. Writing and definitely recording. Being.
Do you expect another lengthy wait for your next album?
That sincerely depends on one's criteria for a "lengthy wait." Personally, I don't think three years is lengthy. But I'm biased. As a fan of music, I would hope the bands I enjoy would take the time to express themselves and not just stay on the road, have little to no time to be creative or make the best album they can. I think since the advent of the internet, society has grown accustomed to instant gratification.
You were hand-picked by Metallica to perform at the Orion Music + More Festival this summer. Tell us about that experience.
To be asked by a band that spent more time on my walls than paint is absolutely surreal! I didn't believe the initial email when we were asked, but once everything was solidified, I ran around like a ten year old rejoicing. Each member of Metallica hand-picked bands to perform at their inaugural Orion festival. So when I found out we were picked by James Hetfield, I just about lost control of my bladder. How it came to be was that James had reached out to Jose Mangin over at SiriusXM's Liquid Metal and asked for some bands to check out. Well, we were one of those bands James listened to and picked. How crazy is that? Hetfield listened to my band and liked us enough to ask us to play with them! Surreal! There were so many of those moments at Orion as well, like hanging out on the side of the stage watching the band Kyng with James and Jose. Or how about playing in front of that many people and seeing dust clouds rise up from the ridiculous circle pits that erupted throughout our set? I heard that there were over 30K people at the event! I could keep going. If you want the unabridged version, you would need more server space.
The metal/metalcore genre has been overshadowed by auto-tune and breakdowns in recent years. As a band who avoids these gimmicks, how do you feel about the current state of the scene?
Well, it's difficult to describe. When I was growing up, there was no internet, there were no laptops, there was no ProTools, and there were fewer bands. My opinion, like anyone else's opinion, is subjective. When we're young and impressionable, we often try and emulate what inspires us until, if we do, grow into ourselves. The new generation has grown up with all these technologies that I didn't have at their age. So, of course new influences beget new trends. How did Black Sabbath or the Bad Brains feel when they first broke out and no one really embraced them? They both did their own thing, made music they wanted to make. I think that's all an artist of any medium ever wants to do. They tend to not acknowledge trends if they're ultimately following their muse.
Not trying to be artsy fartsy here, but it's simple: In my opinion, in the music business, if people make music as a commodity first and foremost, that's their prerogative. Artists and musicians, on the other hand, generally make music to serve their own personal needs. If it so happens to ignite something positive in an observer, that's a bonus for the creator. If it goes even further and translates into generating revenue, that's another bonus that might even help the creator. In business, it's "mass production of what sells" that keeps a business going. So, in regards to your inquiry, what others do doesn't affect why we do what we do. If anything, it's not all their fault. Is it? Besides, if someone doesn't like a trend, give it a minute, it'll change.
On a similar note, your lyrical content is different than many of your peers. You walk a fine line by being spiritual without being overtly religious. Can you talk about your lyrics?
Yes. I will say this: In my opinion, music is supposed to be an extension of the soul; a unique voice. Don't chase another sound. You have your own. Let it out.
Do you have plans to tour behind the new EP?
Nothing that we can announce at this moment, but I would encourage people to stay tuned. The announcements are coming soon. Right now, we are concentrating on releasing this EP, letting people embrace it and then taking it to them, when the time is right, on the road.
What else is in store for Thy Will Be Done in the future?
Who really knows? I sure don't. I mean, I would have never thought in a million years we'd play with Metallica, let alone be invited by them personally to play their own festival. So, I live in and embrace the now.
Is there anything else you'd like to add?
Thanks to the fans for supporting and believing in us throughout the years. As for the people who might not have given us a chance, we hope you can take the time and educate yourself with our music. Don't go based on what others say. Create your own feelings and think for yourself. We make music for all walks of life, and I think more people need to know that. We need to stop criticizing everything and just bring people together through the common love of music or whatever it may be. If anything, that's what we try to do as a band and hope to bring people together. Each member is their own person with a different perspective who come together collectively to share our passion for making music. Check out the Temple EP when it comes out and let us know what you think with open hearts, open minds, love and respect.
It was my pleasure. Thank you for wanting to talk about the band. It sincerely means a lot.