"I'm trying to bring back more of an emotional outlet to metal and hardcore. I just think it has been lost. Too many lyrics are just about the tough guy bullshit these days!"
Frontman, Brandan Schieppati, for one of today's most brutal and emotionally charged bands to have emerged from the hardcore scene in a while. Join me as Brandan discusses his frustrations with the fans Headbangers Ball Tour (on their freshly embarked tour), why he is not lyrically impressed with the burgeoning scene, the growing populous of female fans, his projections for the upcoming album, life and its struggles and surviving the odds. Discover where his passions lie and what on the flipside, what gets him pissed. Read on!
Karma: First off I’d like to say thanks for doing the interview.
Brandan: Oh, no worries.
Karma: How was the artwork chosen for This Is Love, This Is Murderous? The cover is as awesomely brutal as the album is itself!
Brandan: It got chosen because I wanted it to look like a B-horror movie and it really ended up looking the way it did. It wasn’t necessarily exactly what I totally envisioned for it, but I guess it came with its own little flavor, you know but it was a collaboration between me and the person that designed it, John Clark, on what contents to put in the actual layout.
Karma: Okay, the overall theme of your album is about blood spilling, latent aggression, blood-boiling lyrics…how do you harness the hate within in order to maintain that poetic edge that’s needed in order for you to produce the type of lyrics that you do?
Brandan: Well the music is how I manage that because music is about emotions and everything like that and how we all get it out is through the music that we play. That’s why it comes across as so sensual and so hateful I guess but it’s not necessarily all about hate, it’s just about dealing with your issues as a person.
Karma: Tell the fans something about the making of the album they may not have known previously.
Brandan: I don’t know. It was the first time I had ever worked with a producer or anything like that and it was the first time where we didn’t write the whole record in the studio. It was a lot of collaboration from the band; there are a few new members in the band as well that [joined] right before we actually started writing the record. I dunno, it was kind of a rush job as well but it was new experience as far as working with a producer as well.
Karma: Were you satisfied overall with the end product?
Brandan: Somewhat, I liked the record but I think there is room for improvement. I definitely think in our new record we will capitalize on that!
Karma: You used to play guitar for Eighteen Visions and Throwdown, do you like fronting a band more?
Brandan: I like it on certain nights and I hate it on others because when a show isn’t going very well it’s very easy to plug in, go about your business and play guitar. When you’re singing, you’re the frontman and you’re job is to get the crowd into it. It’s kind of nerve-wracking, definitely in the last couple of years I probably have formed an ulcer or 2 because I’m such a nervous wreck before I go onstage with the fear that the crowd isn’t responsive and it’s just going take more work on my part.
Karma: Hmm… Describe the sound of Bleeding Through to someone that has never heard of you before?
Brandan: Fast, brutal, on-edge emotional lyrics.
Karma: Since Slayer & Dimmu Borgir are some of your major influences, it must have been awesome to tour with them both for Ozzfest!!
Brandan: Oh yeah!!
Karma: How will the Headbangers Ball Tour differ vs. Ozzfest?
Brandan: I think [the HBB Tour] will differ somewhat from Ozzfest because a lot of these kids that have been going to the shows have been die-heart Cradle fans. Anytime you go in support of a band that has made a living off of its cult following you are going to get a lot of negative output from these kids. They’re there and the band that they want to see is Cradle of Filth and is the only band that’s good in the universe on that night. And no matter how hard you play, no matter how good you are that night, they’re still going to fucking hate you.
Brandan: I don’t know that’s just how I think it. Any way, it just gives leaves us with a bigger challenge for us to go out there and try to play as hard as we can and try to do a good of a job as we possibly can. We know that not everybody’s going to like us and accept us but hopefully we can switch a couple of minds out there.
Karma: Being straightedge, has it been a hardship especially when it comes to touring in festival situations? However, I’m sure it helps to tour with other straightedge members & bands etc. like Johnny from Himsa, etc.
Brandan: No, that’s never been an issue. We’ve always been able to hang out with anybody. Our personal lives as far as being straight edge, I mean most of our friends aren’t straightedge and a lot of the bands or most of the bands that we tour with aren’t even straightedge. Sometimes we just basically do for ourselves; it’s not really a flag that the band waves or anything like that. I don’t know, it’s not that big of a deal unless people are smoking in our backstage area or are trying to buy our keyboard player a drink and won’t take no for an answer or anything like that.
Karma: Speaking of Johnny, during his interview I mentioned that I would be interviewing you, he wanted me to tell you that you were hot! [we both laugh]
Brandan: [laughs] That fucking asshole! [we both laugh hysterically]
Karma: And during Randy's interview he definitely holds you guys in high regard as well…that must be awesome to have bands hold you in such high regard!
Brandan: Yeah, he’s amazing! He’s an amazing individual.
Karma: Speaking of hot, Marta was voted One of Metal's Baddest Chics on Uranium, that is pretty cool!!
Brandan: Yeah, that’s really cool!
Karma: Is it rough on her being around all of that testosterone?
Brandan: No not really, I think she thrives on it because she has everybody waiting on her at her beckon call. She’s definitely worked her way to becoming a metal princess but if she gets too high in the clouds she’s going to have 5 or 6 boys to knock her down, you know! [we both laugh] This band isn’t about anybody individually, it’s a band. I don’t think she finds it hard I think that she takes things differently from the “boys” but that’s just a natural thing.
Karma: Do you think you serve as a role model? Do you have any?
Brandan: I think that maybe…[pauses] I don't know, I guess I would be considered a role model because I am the lead singer of a band but if anyone wanted to consider mean a role model it would be a good thing because a lot of bands that I listened to growing up I got through my tough times by listening to their lyrics and having those lyrics help me out. In turn, they were my role models, they helped me out. I'd listen to Black Flag or I'd listen to…bands like that. In turn, Henry [Rollins] was one of my fucking role models and Phil Anselmo was one of role models and stuff like that.
Karma: Alright. Do you think your fans changed since you first started doing this?
Brandan: No, not really.
Karma: Well what is the ratio of female fans to male fans?
Brandan: Well, that maybe something that did change, actually. When we first started there was probably one girl in the crowd, and now it will get to the point that the first two rows of people are all girls!
Brandan: Yeah! And it's really strange because I never thought Bleeding Through would be a band where that was going to happen…you know! [laughs]
Brandan: It's the sort of thing where when we first started I would really get involved with the people in the first couple of rows, grabbing 'em, just to get them involved, you know what I mean…just to get them riled up. And now there's just a bunch of 16 year old girls, it's kinda hard, you know what I mean? [we both laugh]
Karma: Do you think that Marta has played an influence in that?
Brandan: I don't know, possibly! We've always had a girl in the band but I'm not actually sure what it is. I just think it's more positive music is starting to become [popular], bands like us and Atreyu and Avenged Sevenfold and bands like that.
Karma: Well I was reading that you guys had gotten into a van accident, how long ago did that happen?
Brandan: That happened last December.
Karma: Sorry to hear that.
Brandan: It was in the middle of the winter, we were driving in the middle of Utah, and the van just slid off the side of the road. We were touring with Chimaira at the time.
Karma: Oh, you were involved in that accident too…wow! Glad that no one was hurt too badly.
Brandan: Yeah, it was pretty insane! The cops were actually on the scene already with another accident and they got the whole thing underneath their dash cam. We've seen it on Craziest American Police Videos and things like that.
Karma: Wow! [in amazement]
Brandan: It's actually a nationally publicized van accident.
Karma: Oh man! What’s your thought on being in the underground metal scene…do you think once you attain a fame that you sell out?
Brandan: Not necessarily, I mean I still think we're underground, you know what I mean?!
Karma: I do.
Brandan: Because if you ask the general public who listen to the radio had you ever heard of Bleeding Through and they're going to say no. And that to me let's me know we're still underground. Just like if you go up to a regular person on the street and ask they if they had ever heard of Cradle of Filth, they'll say no. But if you ask that same person had they heard of the Dave Matthews Band, they'll say 'yes, I heard of Dave Matthews Band!' You know what I mean. [laughs]
Karma: Indeed I do!
Brandan: Now that's mainstream! I don't think it's selling out unless it's a band that came from this area and all of a sudden they were completely mainstream and they switched their style of music in the sense and their state of mind and everything like that, then yeah, that's selling out. But you know you get popular doing what you're doing and if the mainstream comes around to what you're doing then that's not really selling out, it just means you're lucky!
Karma: So very true! So what do you think needs to change in the Industry?
Brandan: Oh geez! I know what I want to say; I'm just trying to think of how to deliver it properly.
Brandan: I just think that the scenes are forming into one like the hardcore scene, the punk scene, the metal scene, it's all kind of meshing together these days and there are a lot of people who want to see it stay separate say for bands like us, Himsa…but like you know that we're sell outs because we're doing these metal tours or tour with a band like AFI or that we hang out with dudes like Good Charlotte and stuff like that. It's like 'whatever man'! I mean we just play this music and if you like us like us and if you don't, we're not trying to get street cred with you and whatnot.
I just think the whole credibility of music is lost these days. I think that it’s the fans that are trying to bring it back and not the bands. But I think there needs to be a lot more bands that are true to themselves than are out there. There needs to be bands with something more to hold onto as in lyrically. Lyrically, bands don't even have it anymore.
Brandan: I mean but that's me personally. I can't think of a new band where I listened to the lyrics and thought, 'Fuck, these lyrics are amazing!' I mean there have been bands like that but not in the past 5 or 6 years that I still think had the best lyrics ever but I don't know, there have been VERY few. And as far as music that we play like in the scene that we play, like nothing really gets me anymore.
Brandan: Like bands that I listen to now that affect me musically and lyrically are bands like Jets To Brazil, Alkaline Trio, and Hot Water Music, you know what I mean.
Brandan: Those are bands where lyrically and musically I'm like fucking blown away. But I don't know, I mean there aren't any bands in our scene right now where I can get behind them lyrically.
Karma: [in amazement] Oh wow! Well do you think you can do to change this?
Brandan: Well that's what I'm trying to change, I'm trying to bring back more of an emotional outlet to metal and hardcore. I just think it has been lost. Too many lyrics are just about the tough guy bullshit these days! I think it is starting to reflect on the fans and that's why there's a shit load more fights these days.
Karma: I can see that. Out of idle curiosity, how did you and Davey [Havok, singer of AFI] become friends?
Brandan: Years ago when he used to have blonde hair and used to wear suspenders and shelter shirts. [laughs]
Karma: [laughs] That's great!
Brandan: I've just known him from a while back, he used come down, and they used to play like a long ass time ago. I don't know we just met back then and I've seen him get into this huge monster rock band, you know! It's just insane to me.
Karma: That's so cool!
Brandan: It's cool because they're doing the same thing they've been doing since day one in my eyes!
Karma: Um-huh! This is very true! Since you have extensive ink, do you have specific artist that you go to in certain cities or do you just in the Bay Area?
Brandan: No, it's kinda like everywhere. It's kinda like wherever I am I'm running into people and kind of adding to the whole thing.
Karma: Okay, well here is a quick Speed Round of Questions.
Karma: What's your mantra?
Brandan: What's my what?
Karma: Your mantra.
Brandan: What's that? [laughs]
Karma: [laughing] It's kinda like a rule of thumb in which you chose to live your life by.
Brandan: A rule that I would live by?
Brandan: Okay well then it would have be live everyday better as if it were you last.
Karma: Spiritual or religious?
Karma: Guilty pleasure song, CD, or artist?
Brandan: [pauses] Fuck! [we both laugh] I have them, you know mean? [laughs]
Karma: I understand! [chuckles]
Brandan: But I mean to me their not a surprise I guess but to the people that would be reading this probably wouldn't believe that I'd be into this stuff like Morrissey.
Karma: What's your favorite comfort food?
Brandan: Mashed potatoes and gravy.
Karma: Carnivore, omnivore, or herbivore?
Karma: Live or dead: if you could interview anyone who would it be?
Brandan: Because I'd like to know what the hell he was thinking! [laughs]
Karma: [laughing] I think a lot of people would like to know the answer to that question too!
Karma: What's your favorite quote?
Brandan: [pauses] My favorite would probably be … It's a quote from this band called the Inside Edge, I really like the lyrics.
Karma: You said The Inside Edge?
Brandan: No, no no! It's actually the lyrics from the band Jets To Brazil.
Brandan: It's actually where he says, "Now I'm making out the shapes like the shower rod - can it take my weight?"
Karma: How cool! What's your favorite household chore?
Brandan: Probably cleaning out the closet because you'll find things that you hadn't seen it like 3 years!
Karma: Top 5 favorite movies?
Brandan: #1 being Rocky, #2 being Rocky II, #3 being The Professional, #4 being Boondock Saints and #5 being Shawshank Redemption.
Karma: What is your favorite sound?
Karma: What’s the most ridiculous thing a fan has ever asked you?
Brandan: To sign his ball sack.
Karma: [snickers] Okay! That's a lot of love for a band!
Brandan: Yeah, serious!
Karma: What's the first thing you think of when you wake up in the morning?
Brandan: I hate waking up! [we both laugh] I wish that I could just sleep forever.
Karma: Do awake to a buzzer or to music?
Brandan: Oh, no…I wake up to music.
Karma: How about your wildest bus encounter?
Brandan: That would definitely have to be the van accident.
Karma: If not music…then what?
Brandan: I would probably be a professional baseball player.
Karma: Which position?
Brandan: 3rd Base.
Karma: Who's your favorite team?
Brandan: The Cubs!
Karma: Really? Oh my! Why?
Brandan: Why not!
Karma: Perhaps I am not as faithful as I once was!
Brandan: They’re the greatest sports organization in the history of organized sports. And the team and everything, it's kinda like what baseball's really about.
Karma: If you were commissioned to do a cover tune which song would it be?
Brandan: I don't know, I really want to cover a Johnny Cash song. I guess "Resurrection" [laughs]
Karma: Now one of yours?
Brandan: If I could have Johnny Cash do one of our songs that would have been amazing! [as you can hear the smile in his voice]
Karma: What's your biggest pet peeve?
Brandan: Oh, this is my biggest pet peeve, when people go, 'So uhhh' [smacks lips], 'Yeah, uhhh' [smacks lips again] You know that little smacking noise that people make right before they say something to you, that drives me crazy! [as you can detect the annoyance in voice as it trails off]
Karma: Dryer sheets or liquid?
Karma: What was your first job?
Brandan: A paper route.
Karma: First car?
Brandan: My first car was a '64 Pontiac Catalina.
Karma: Oh wow! What color?
Brandan: It was white.
Karma: What kind of car do you drive now?
Brandan: I have a '93 Isuzu Rodeo.
Karma: What would kind of legacy would you like to leave?
Brandan: Just as someone who was known to followed his heart and did music his own way and things his own way without being swayed by public opinion.
Karma: That's awesome! If marooned on a desert island, with whom would you like to snuggle with?
Brandan: Snuggle with? Did you see the movie Girl Next Door?
Karma: No, I didn't.
Brandan: Oh, oh…what's her name, Elisha Cutbert!
Karma: Is she the lead character, The "girl"?
Brandan: Yeah! She's like a new actress but she's the cutest girl in the world.
Karma: You can take an iPod with you: whom would you fill it up with?
Brandan: Well the one I have right now is already filled. [chuckles] It's filled with everything
Karma: Okay! [laughs]
Brandan: It's filled with everything from death metal to country!
Karma: Very cool! Who would you ask these questions of?
Brandan: [pauses] Like anybody?
Brandan: Probably the President.
Karma: And speaking of the President, what are you thoughts on the Election?
Brandan: Oh well I knew Bush was going to win but I voted for Kerry.
Karma: Well thank you Brandan so much.
Brandan: Thank you so much!
I'd like to thank Jensen for setting the interview up and of course to Brandan for taking time out of the tour to talk with me, all the best on your tour!
Click here for photos of the band from the Chicago Headbangers Ball's show
Here for more photos of the band's headlining tour
Here for a brand new interview with Ryan