Interview by Alex Kolnirale, exclusively for Metal Shock Finland
San Diego based groove metal act SEVENTRAIN Drummer Joel Maitoza was recently interviewed by Alex Kolnirale, exclusively for Metal Shock Finland, talking about the past and their sophomore album “Back on Track”, set for released on March 5th, 2019 via So Cal Records/Alliance Entertainment.
Q: When did Seventrain form and how did you all get together?
A: We formed in late 2012, jamming together at a benefit show for a friend of ours who had passed away. Shortly after that, we got together and started recording the self-titled debut album which was released in 2014. Since the release of the first album, we have a couple of new band members. Our new vocalist, Eric Koonze replaced Jon Campos and guitarist Dave Odegaard replaced Jef Poremba.
Q: How did you go about the audition process that led to the new members joining Seventrain?
A: We auditioned about 30 vocalists before we decided Eric Koonze was the right man for the job. My first choice right out of the gate was to bring in my buddy Andrew Freeman (Last in Line/Lynch Mob), but he was tied up singing in a nightly show in Las Vegas. We were also in serious discussions with Veronica Freeman (V from Benedictum) to sing for us, but it just didn’t pan out. For the guitarist position, we narrowed it down to four players and Dave Odegaard respectively blew everyone away. We gave him 3 songs to learn for the audition and he learned the entire album, so the decision was easy.
Q: Why did you wait five years to release this new album?
A: In 2015, we started pre-production for the new CD in hopes to release it in early 2016. During the songwriting process, we all agreed it would be best to amicably split with our singer at the time. We spent about three months auditioning vocalists. After Eric Koonze came in, he had to re-write lyrics and melodies. It took about a year to track the album in the studio due to scheduling conflicts. The band spent another three months looking for a new guitarist to replace Jef Poremba. Once we got to the mixing stage, our studio engineer suffered a medical emergency and was unable to mix the album. After checking out some other studios, another engineer came highly recommended to us. We paid him in full and after six months of work we didn’t even have one song completed. After that experience, the band decided to have a friend of ours, Alex Pappas from the band Finch, mix and master the album.
Q: How would you describe your music style? What are your influences?
A: All the members have so many bands and musicians we are influenced by and admire, but as far as Seventrain’s writing style goes, we have been described as Badlands meets Alterbridge with a little Sevendust and a dash of Pantera thrown in. LOL
Q: Judging by your background, you have all been in some very unique bands in the past. 24-7 Spyz were surely ahead of their time, whereas Cage played classic heavy metal in a time when it was largely unpopular. What motivated you into the sound of Seventrain?
A: The majority of the songs on our debut album (from 2014) were written by guitarist, Eric Horton and former singer Jon Campos. As a band, we always wanted to go into a heavier direction so when our new singer Eric Koonze came to the plate we started writing more aggressive tunes for the new album and everyone contributed in the songwriting which gave the band a more cohesive sound and direction.
Q: Please tell us more about the 2014 nomination at the San Diego Music Awards.
A: The debut album was starting to pick up steam and entered into the CMJ Loud Rock Top 40 at #36 it’s first week to radio. We started opening up for national acts like Pat Travers and Puddle of Mudd. Later that year, one of our friends congratulated us on social media for being nominated for Best Hard Rock Album of the Year. We had no idea we were even considered for the award, but it was pretty cool to be recognized.
Q: How about touring? Have you toured since the formation of Seventrain or do you play mostly local SD shows?
A: Mostly gigs around Southern California; however, we are starting to branch out. Hopefully hitting some other states with the release of the new album.
Q: You have played along great ones like Pat Travers, King’s X, Michael Schenker and Skid Row (among many others). Which was your favorite show so far?
A: We had a great show with Red Dragon Cartel that was really fun and Warren DeMartini showed up. Another memorable gig was opening for Michael Schenker for our album release party.
Q: You already have one full-length CD out, what are your plans for the future? Releasing more music in order to start touring?
A: The first single and video for the song Now You Know was released in early January of this year. The new album titled Back on Track will be released worldwide on March 5th 2019. We’re all excited about it, so we hope everyone digs the new stuff.
Q: What’s the scene in San Diego, California nowadays?
A: It’s pretty cool at the moment. Our friends in Symbolic recently got signed to EMP and labels are starting to take notice so hopefully it keeps moving forward and expanding.
Q: Have you ever thought of touring Europe? Europeans seem to love this kind of sound!
A: We would love to, but we don’t have a European booking agent at the moment. It would be cool to go out on a package tour or play some dates around a few summer festivals. We have a lot of friends overseas so maybe we’ll get a chance to see them soon.
Q: Any final thoughts you would like to share with the readers?
A: Visit us at our official website: http://www.seventrain.net and like us on Facebook http://www.facebook.com/seventrainband. We hope to see everyone soon and take care of each other! Much love!
About the writer: Alex Kolnirale is an author of two books focusing on the underground heavy metal scene (US Metal Heroes and Crossover the Edge) published by Cherry Red publications.
More information at http://www.seventrain.net