A talk with
JOEL MAITOZA (Drums & Percussion)
(Questionnaire by Stefan)
A mutual passion for US Metal music led to good cooperation between Online Metal Promo and our own Belgian based webzine, Metal To Infinity! Courtesy of OMP CEO Benjamin, we brought out a free digital compilation entitled “By The Grace Of US Metal” loaded with at least 34 tracks, downloadable until the end of August 2014. The good feedback I've gotten to this was entirely justified, nothing but awesome bands sent us one song of their own choice. A gift to all those hooked on the mighty forces of US Hard Rock and Metal music.
Seventrain took part of the compilation with the song ‘Carry The Cross’, taken from their self-titled debut effort. I heard a few of the new tracks by now and came to the conclusion these guys are real good delivering guitar driven, US Hard Rock with a bluesy southern feel. I’d like to take them back to the early days of existence as well as I want to speak about their present activities and future plans.
From San Diego, California… here’s the story of Seventrain!
Q: Most welcome here at Metal To Infinity webzine! First things first, by whom and when Seventrain was formed… what were the ambitions back then?
A: The band was primaraly formed by former Cage guitarist Eric Horton. Seventrain was formed in 2012 after the band appeared together at a benefit show for a local sound man who passed away suddenly. All the members have been friends for many years and played in various bands together so we figured let’s record an album of songs and see how it goes, but we really did it just for fun.
Q: How went the search for the right band members, please give some kind of a backgroung history of the current players.
A: The singer, Jon Campos and guitarist Eric Horton were already writing some songs together prior to the benefit show and those ended up on the debut album. I previously played drums in the national act 24-7 Spyz and Eric and I talked about doing something together for years.
He asked me to produce the album and play drums on it so I agreed. Guitarist Jef Poremba was prevoiusly playing with Kofi Baker so we asked him to join and bassist Greg Rupp played on the album, but decided to opt out of the band during the mixing process. He was immediately replaced by Dino Andino who previously played with Tourniquet.
Q: You guys are located in San Diego, California… how’s the Rock and Metal scene over there?
A: It’s decent. There is a lot of great local talent in the town, but it’s always a challenge to get people to come out to see live music. We love our fans and friends for supporting us, but overall I wish more people would come out and support the local scene in general. We were just nominated for Best Hard Rock Album of the Year by the San Diego Music Awards which is a great honour.
Q: I’m always on the hunt to get in touch with some new, interesting bands… maybe you can give a few tips concerning promising acts?
A: Personally, I’ve really been getting into Twelve Foot Ninja. Not really a new band, but new to me. I’ve also been listening to Kyng and KXM a lot.
Q: Can you remember anything from your first gig?
A: My first gig myself or with Seventrain? My first gig was at about 14 when I played with a jazz band. The first actual Seventrain show was our album release party in February of this year and we opened for Michael Schenker.
Q: In what way, new songs are composed? Who’s in charge as song writer and what is the lyrical content, what topics are covered?
A: Eric and Jon wrote almost all the music and lyrics on this album. We are starting to write more as a band since everyone has ideas they want to bring to the table. I think the next album will be a much heavier sounding record, but will still have a lot of that blues- metal vibe to it.
Topics we touch on lyricly deal with everything from separation and betrayal to how the world is being torn apart by greed and corruption. We try to give the listener something to think about and hope to make a connection with something they might be going thru or dealing with.
Q: For those who have never heard of Seventrain, how would you describe your own style? Give some names of bands that have inspired you?
A: We wanted to try to make a real stripped down rock record like the albums we grew up on in the 70s and 80s. What you hear on the record is how we sound live. Some of the critics have labelled us “blues metal” but I think we have a lot of other various influences to offer which we hope to display in the writing of the next record. Some of our most influential bands would be Badlands, 24-7 Spyz, Van Halen, Led Zep, Jane’s Addiction, King’s X, Pat Travers, Judas Priest…too many to list really.
Q: Seventrain participated on the free digital download compilation “By The Grace Of US Metal” which was released as a collaboration of both Online Metal Promo and our own Metal To Infinity webzine Belgium. May I ask for your opinion on the the other bands who participated?
A: I think they are all really good. All the bands are working hard to get their music out to the public any way they can just like us so it’s great to be included with all the rest of these killer artists.
Q: You guys were on the compalation with the song called “Carry The Cross”, why did you choose this song?
A: It’s one of our heavier songs and we thought it would fit well with the other bands that were featured.
Q: Both OMP mainman Benjamin and I are fascinated by US Hard Rock and Metal for many years, that’s why we keep on going on spreading the news of bands who belong to the US scene. Via Ben I came in touch with Seventrain’s way of music, how did you came into contact with each other?
A: Ben previously worked with Eric in Cage and he contacted us about doing some PR for us so that’s how it started.
Q: I’ve heard a few songs of the new album and have to admit that satisfaction is on my side guys. Straight up, hard hitting, guitar driven Hard Rock with outstanding, strong vocals. Who spread his wings over the recording/mastering duties?
A: The bands drummer, Joel Maitoza produced it, but the whole band was involved to a point. Don Lithgow was the engineer and he mixed and mastered it. He’s worked with bands like Blink 182, New Found Glory and Finch.
Q: How would you like to announce this new album to the people? Want to make a comparison with other bands, go for it?
A: We just wanted to make a real honest rock album. We recorded it on 2 inch tape and recorded everything first or second take. All the drum tracks were recorded in one day. We wanted it to sound natural with almost a live feel instead of over producing it and making sure every snare hit or guitar lick was perfect. I would say there are a lot of influences on the record, but if you put Badlands, Audioslave, Zepplin and a touch of Bon Jovi in a blender, you would probably get pretty close to the Seventrain vibe.
Q: What songs get a preferred treatment, what makes them so special?
A: None really. We treat every song the same. One of us might have an idea to add a different effect on the guitar or a melody to go behing a vocal part, but that’s about it.
Q: It would be good to know where to order this product, give up the url to place an order.
A: It’s currently available at these fine retailers:
Q: How are the world wide reactions on the new album? Feel free to give points on a scale of ten in terms of satisfaction.
A: We have received positive reviews and feedback from all over the world. Overall, I think for a debut album it’s been received well. I think there are some things we could have done better during the recording process, but overall I think it’s a strong 7 out of 10.
Q: The album was already presented to a live audience? Hereby, I’d like to ask for your live experiences… what were the most memorable gigs you’ve done so far?
A: At this point, we haven’t really toured yet, but we’ve been doing supporting slots for national acts like Pat Travers, Michael Schenker, Skid Row, Black Star Riders, Puddle of Mudd and Red Dragon Cartel with Jake E. Lee just since the albums release in February.
Q: Have you already played abroad?
A: Not yet, but all of us have toured Europe prior with other bands. We are currently looking for a booking agent overseas to set up a tour in Europe and maybe help get us on some festival dates next spring or summer. We are looking forward to it.
Q: What are the ultimate goals for the future?
A: We are planning to start pre-production for the next album in the fall and will try to have the second album out by next spring.
Q: We’re reaching the end of this conversation, still I’d like to ask for other ambitions/pursuits apart from playing with Seventrain.
A: Seventrain is taking up most of my time right now. I have a couple of other projects I might just record drums on or help produce, but right now Seventrain is really gaining momentum so I don’t want to take energy away from that.
Q: I wish you all a splendid musical future with loads of success! Thanks for letting me inside the world of Seventrain for a while. To conclude finally, I will give the floor to you !
A: Again, the album is currently available on iTunes, Amazon and CD Baby and don’t forget to call your local rock radio stations and request us. Come like our Facebook page at www.facebook.com/seventrainband and become part of our growing family. We love our fans and hope to meet you all in person someday soon. Thanks for the love and support!