“I guess it comes back to the recording aspect of trying to be more Disney, we try and make it more of a spectacle and entertaining show”

Scottish Progressive Metallers TIBERIUS are due to play at Power Metal Quest Fest tomorrow. Ahead of this, Rock Out Stand Out’s Lotty Whittingham spoke to guitarist Chris Foster and vocalist Grant Barclay about appearing at a different genre of festival to what they are used to, recording their sound, mental health and which historical figure they would like to meet. Here’s what happened.

You’re due to appear at Power Metal Quest Fest which is happening tomorrow, how exciting is that?

Chris:  I’m very hyped about it, it’s the best festival name and there is Skyrim themed metal in it. There is also a band called Fellowship which sounds Lord Of The Rings as hell. I am so into it.

Grant:  For me personally, it’s going to be a nice change of pace for us because we often get lumped in with the prog metal and tech metal crowd. Which is fine as it’s another group and fan base to play to but often I find elements of our music get lost on that audience, so I am really keen and interested to know how we are received in the strictly power metal environment.

I was listening to some of your music, you think you’re getting one thing, but you get something else. How would you describe your music to someone who hasn’t heard it before?

Chris:  As Grant says, we chucked into the tech/prog metal most of the time. There are some classic and power metal influences because of what we listen to. When we’re actually recording, most of us thought and direction behind stuff is unknown for me anyway, especially when Grant is doing vocals. Jahan [Tabrizi] and I are shouting at him from wherever we are recording from to try things, most of what we’re telling him is “be more Disney or do it like you’re in a musical”. So, sing it but be more dramatic with it, take it to Timon and Pumbaa level.

Grant:  The worst direction I ever had was being told to do it more like a gargoyle.

Chris:  As a genre, it’s tech/prog metal and power metal via musicals or Disney movies. I think it’s pop music with drums and guitars. It’s choruses with fancy guitars.

Which bands, films or books influence your sound?

Grant:  Start with Chris on that one, I say that as a lot of our sound process starts with the guitars. It usually starts with Chris or Jahan bringing an idea to the table that they fleshed out in the form of a guitar pool file which has been given some thought to. So, it’s not just a riff, it’s usually some semblance of a song but there was clearly a lot of work still needed to be done on it. Then at the point, the other guitarist will get involved in from that standpoint and then I will get involved by thinking about vocal melodies and bits where it could repeat here or where it could be spaced out so I have somewhere to sing because all they have to do is write intricate parts I can’t sing over.

I suppose when it comes to songwriting, Chris tends to take a different approach in with the album we just did; a lot of it was folk tales or interesting stories he heard I think, feel free to jump in Chris. Whereas this album we are currently writing, I think a lot of the songs have been influenced by serial killers.

Chris:  You can definitely hear the classic metal influences there in some songs, particularly proper Maiden type stuff which we have all been to see live a few times. Growing up, I listened to Killswitch and they have big, catchy choruses. I like a variety of stuff. In terms of what inspires me to write, I always remember reading something by The Dillinger Escape Plan that talked about before writing music, they wouldn’t listen to music for a few months to get other music out of their heads. So, that stuck with as in to not just write stuff that sounds like the catchier stuff from other songs. The last album was like a musical type thing, I had read a bunch of weird stories and stuff, some of which came from the Lore podcast I had heard about and started looking up which contains weird, mythical tales and horror stories. Ones I did find interesting, I would write the score to that story, not lyrically but musically, I think about what that story would sound like. 

For the new one, I think I was listening to Case File podcast which is about serial killer stuff so I would imagine what his theme tune would sound like. If I just sit down and write a riff, it will sound like everything I have heard which I am really aware of trying to not write about stuff that sounds like things that I have heard. I hear a story and I try to write the soundtrack to that story.

Going back to Power Metal Quest Fest, what can we expect from a live Tiberius show?

Grant:  You can expect a lot of involuntary audience participation, we recently did a tour over the summer in smaller venues and it was the first time we heavily juxtaposed doing festival slots at places like Tech Fest with these smaller headline shows. I think we really got into sync on what our vibe actually is, and our vibe is we want really small venues so we can get right out there in folk’s faces and have a bit of fun with it. I guess it comes back to the recording aspect of trying to be more Disney, we try and make it more of a spectacle and entertaining show. There’s a lot of movement involved. I think that covers it without spoiling it too much.

Chris:  It’s going to be weird. Lots of dancing and facial expressions, we love a bop. Come and have a dance with Tiberius.

Which bands on the line up are you looking forward to checking out?

Chris:  Battle Born, I’m so hyped for Battle Born. I haven’t seen them live before, so I am looking forward to catching them.

Grant:  Fellowship.

Chris:  I am genuinely looking forward to the whole thing. Like Grant says, a lot of what we play is like in specific genres, which is really good, but it means you watch the same thing a lot and you end up going to the same style of festivals and shows. I love old school vibes and proper guitar solos, powerful vocals and proper power metal, I am looking forward to a day of it.

Grant:  To add to that, it will be really nice to be in an environment where I am not the only singer that’s sounds like I do. A lot of the times when you’re in a tech crowd, even if there are clean vocalists, there is a specific type that I don’t fit into. I am much more of a traditional classic, power metal vocalist. So, it will be nice to be in an environment with people like me.

Chris:  Where we tend to play, the music tends to blend reasonably well with the other bands and like the vocals are an anomaly in the genre. It will be the opposite this time round. 

You’ll be part of some of these band’s histories. For headliners Symphonity, this will be their first show in the UK along with The Silent Rage.

Chris:  I am really looking forward to that. We are getting there really early to watch the whole day of stuff.

Grant:  We’re going down the night before and then leaving the morning after so we will have the whole day hopefully. We like to be as professional as possible in terms of loading in and things like that. So, we may not be able to see who’s on before or after us.

At Rock Out Stand Out, our mission is to spread awareness about mental health as in getting people talking about it particularly if you’re struggling. What do you think we could do more of so people feel comfortable talking about it?

Grant:  I’ll just jump in quickly to say that above all, we’re no experts at all and I personally have not thankfully had to deal with these sorts of these things. I do know friends and family who do suffer, so from that limited experience I do have that the thing is awareness. It sounds a bit like a cop out, but the truth is it’s about removing the stigma, that’s the most important thing so people do feel like they can talk about it in a normal conversational way before it builds up. Sometimes there are clinical aspects you can’t avoid but perhaps it will make a difference to people on a daily basis to be more open and honest how they are feeling. That might prevent the build-up that will lead to a breakdown. Again, it’s coming from a place of ignorance so for people like us, it’s about listening to what people have to say about these topics and not just listening, acting upon it.

Chris:  I think part of it is support groups and stuff. I am lucky to have support within my friends, especially with men as men speaking about their feelings is still seen as a hush hush topic. Especially for a group of guys, not that it’s exclusive to any gender, it’s just that’s my experience. Having a support group of any kind is important, a lot of my friends who are open and will discuss what’s going on. I have had friends that have gone through hard times, all of us do and the group of friends I have, the guys in the band included, are all open and supportive. They are also willing to be there for anyone because everyone appreciates that everyone goes through tough times, some more than others.

Having that support group is important. Grant’s right part of that is de-stigmatising it and making sure people talk about stuff, if you have people being open about stuff and you know you have people you can go to; you’re not going to be made to feel weird for opening up and that’s half the battle.

Is there anything you both like to do to destress and unwind?

Grant:  For me, there are a few things I like to do. I am a fit person; I like to play basketball or go to the gym. The physical excursion is good for clearing your head and you get that feeling like you have done something great, you get that dopamine rush. That’s hugely helpful. Other times, I will be absolutely exhausted, and I’ll chill out with a good game. It depends on the mood.

Chris:  I like to remove myself and be somewhere quiet. If I go for a wander somewhere, that’s a big thing. Also, like Grant says, even if I am stressed and want to relax for a while to decompress, I feel guilty and need to be productive all the time. I have to reserve time to be unproductive. It’s OK to be unproductive. I also like DIY, I got a project going on that involves a lot of heavy lifting and digging; so, when I am stressed out, I find work like that really helps. 

I looked up the name Tiberius to find it’s the name of a Roman Emperor, which historical figure would you like to meet and why?

Chris:  What really annoys me is mysteries I don’t know the answers to, when you’re reading about something and there’s a gap of knowledge that really frustrates me. So, I am thinking about which historical gap I would like filled.

Grant:  We’re the type of people who take these questions seriously, so I struggle as I don’t want to come with a random answer to get the question over with, I need to think about this.

Chris:  Edgar Allen Poe died in mysterious circumstances, washed up, drunk and no-one knows what happened to him so I’m not sure whether to tell him on the day of his death or the people that murdered him. I want to find out what happened there. Or Jack The Ripper, that’s a really annoying one, who was he?

Grant:  It’s a totally random one but I would say the pilot who went missing from the Malaysian Airlines flight to see what’s up. 

Do you have a message for anyone going to Power Metal Quest Fest?

Chris:  If you’re coming to Power Metal Quest Fest, come and see Tiberius if you don’t know us. Then when you come and see Tiberius, get weird with it because we will get weird.

Grant:  Be prepared, that’s all I need to say given the conversation.

Chris:  Have a dance, have a nice time. We’re here to enjoy ourselves, don’t be swinging your arms to punch people in the face.

Grant:  Don’t expect any kind of aggression with our set. Otherwise expect everything else.

Thank you so much Chris and Grant for speaking with Rock Out Stand Out today and best of luck with the live show.

One thought on ““I guess it comes back to the recording aspect of trying to be more Disney, we try and make it more of a spectacle and entertaining show”

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