“I would maybe describe it as Nightwish or Kamelot having a baby with Wintersun or Children Of Bodom”

Symphonic Progressive Metal outfit ANTHEA are back with their latest offering Tales Untold, which is due out tomorrow. It’s a cinematic journey that the listener will be quick to sink their teeth into. Ahead of the album release, Rock Out Stand Out’s Lotty Whittingham spoke to guitarist/harsh vocalist Juan Pina about Tales Untold, mental health and which five 80s film characters he would go on an adventure with.

For those who haven’t heard Anthea before, how would you describe your sound?

I would maybe describe it as Nightwish or Kamelot having a baby with Wintersun or Children Of Bodom, something along those lines as they are most of our favourite bands. We’re very influenced and inspired by that whole movement from Finland and Sweden. We would say symphonic, progressive; as soon as you add the progressive, you can get weird with it.

I can definitely hear Nightwish and Kamelot in that song. As a screamer/guitarist, who your influences and musicians you look up to?

Definitely Alexi Laiho, the late Alexi Laiho; for me and the other guitarist Marcos [Mejia], he was a huge influence on us growing up. Personally, I would say Jari [Mäenpää] from Wintersun and Tuomas [Holopainen] from Nightwish as he is a great song writer and performer. 

You’re due to release Tales Untold. For those who have heard your debut Illusion, can you explain any similarities and differences between the two?

I think we wanted a more guitar driven sound. Although we were really happy with Illusion, we wanted to get into a heavier mood with our music so there’s a lot more heavy riffs that are in your face. I know Marcos was trying to get it as heavy and as catchy as he could. Most of the album was written by Diego [Valadez], he definitely puts himself in this weird place. He really wanted to step it up. Two of the songs on the album were older songs that we had but we didn’t feel ready to release them at the time so we took some time to polish them up.

Which two songs were those?

They are Ascendence and what is now called Sapiens. Sapiens used to be called Unity, when we started recording the album and tracking it, Diego decided to change the lyrics and give it a different name. It definitely ended up working much better.

The band Myrath came to mind listening to Sapiens.

Diego has a lot of influences so maybe that’s where it came from.

When it comes to adding the growls, do you already have in mind what tracks you want to add growls to or is it a case of jamming together and seeing what works?

I think it’s a little bit of both, we definitely think about it before. There have been a few times where there wasn’t any growling in certain parts but we felt like there was something missing so we tried adding a guitar or keyboard solo and if that didn’t feel right, we would add the growls. That always worked out. For the most part, it’s thought of and done ahead of time.

I know for sure that Marcos likes to write with vocals already in his mind so if he is working on a riff, he’s already thinking what kind of vocals would work best on a particular song or part. Luckily he likes catering to my voice and it works because I get to sing more [laughs].

You recorded this album during the pandemic right?

Yes, it’s pretty much self produced. We took turns in meeting up with Diego is his home studio. It took a little bit longer than we were hoping but we still did it in good time. 

Which songs were the most challenging to produce? Whether that be through song writing, production or a certain virus.

We went through the album and it took us a few days, we would do three or four songs per day. I think the song that gave me the most problems would probably be Sapiens, it’s very technical and nit picky when it comes to the guitar picking parts. Diego is a perfectionist as well, it needs to be dead on and it’s really helpful having him there letting us know what needed doing before it sounded right. I think I took up the better part of the day recording that song.

I see you’ve started performing live shows again and Illusion being released when those were cancelled, you have the task of promoting two albums on the same tour.

Yep, luckily we’re able to do that. We’re definitely focusing on the new one but we like to tell people that during Covid that we released Illusion.

Which songs have you found go down best with live audiences so far?

We have a couple of music videos for Tales Untold, Empyrean gets a great response whenever we play it. It has great energy and people seem to like the chorous. That song really pretty much shows our style of music and writing; there’s a little bit of growling, clean vocals and the melodies. 

Is there any particular songs that you are looking forward to playing live?

We have an album release party coming up where we will playing a lot of those songs for the first time, including Looking Glass and I think we’re also performing The Deceiver. 

One of our missions at Rock Out Stand Out is to normalise talking about mental health, what’s mental health awareness like in Los Angeles and the United States in general?

Luckily in LA, it’s pretty well received and everybody is really open minded about that stuff. You can just talk about it and there isn’t a stigma, it’s not taboo anymore. We all get stressed and over anxious about everything so I feel we’re very fortunate here we can talk to someone.

What do you think we can do more of as family members, partners and friends so people feel more comfortable talking about their mental health particularly when they’re struggling?

You know what, that’s a great question. I always find that it’s a little bit harder for people that are always busy. So try to send them a text, give them a phone call or arrange to hang out with them to make sure they’re OK. I have some friends who I haven’t seen in weeks and it’s always great to hear from them. A text can go a long way for someone sometimes. Luckily there is social media, sometimes it’s not so helpful but at least it’s there for funny videos or a meme to brighten up a friend’s day.

What do you like to do to calm down or refocus when things get overwhelming or stressful?

I’m really open about my cannabis use. Here in California, it’s legal for adults over the age of 21 and I’ve been medicating with cannabis for a while, I think that’s a huge part of what helps me destress after a long day. My wife and I like to watch TV; we’re huge fans of The Sopranos and Breaking Bad. I like to exercise as well, whether it’s a bike ride or a run. During the pandemic, I wasn’t finding a lot of work so I stayed at home and worked out everyday. 

Talking about TV shows, one of the tracks on the album is a cover of In Time from Bill & Tedd. Which five 80s film characters would you go on an adventure with?

We’re definitely going to need a Terminator. I guess we can throw in Darth Vader as well. I’m a huge comedy fan too so Eddie Murphy from Beverley Hills Cop. I think I need a Harrison Ford so Indiana Jones. Let’s do Robo Cop as my last one, why not.

Do you have a message to fans and our readers?

Thank you so much for listening to our music and giving us a chance. Hopefully you stay tuned into what we got coming up. There’s one more video that we have for the album which premieres soon. It’s for Song For Winter which was really fun and hassle to shoot. Thanks everybody for supporting us, watching our video and listening to our music. Feel free to add us on the social media platforms and we have some merchandise coming out soon.

Thank you for speaking with Rock Out Stand out and best of luck with the album release.

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