Nothing makes me happier then when local acts to me here in PA. make it big and Frost Giant are about to go supernova with their new album “The Harlot Star”. Their first full length, it will officially be released in January for their new label Transcending Records. Vocalist/guitarist Matti Frost and guitarist Scott Breustedt answered some questions for us regarding the new album, the new label and a bunch of other stuff… check it out…
The Harlot Star
Major congrats on your debut full length “The Harlot Star”… how has the feedback been so far regarding it?
Matti: “So far it’s been a bit overwhelming, to be honest. Reviewers are responding to it well and so are listeners. It’s a bit surreal and more than a little bit exciting.”
Scott: “I’m still waiting for somebody to talk shit about it. The reviews have been great. We’ve been turning some heads with this album so far. We have been all about this album since we demoed it over the last few years. Its a pretty awesome feeling seeing this sound we created being accepted by people.”
It had been 3 years or so since your last official release (2014’s EP ‘Silver Dagger”). what has Frost Giant been up to until this point?
Matti: “We really didn’t do much following the fall of 2014. Our then-drummer Rich Berends kind of got busy with his German band and big-band projects and we never got back on the grind after his busy season ended. We did a one-off show with Ensiferum and Korpiklaani in May of 2015 and then, nothing much after that. I took a long break from the band to focus on a career change. By mid 2016 I was writing the final parts of The Harlot Star and then had to have surgery on my left elbow and wrist for cubital and carpal tunnel syndrome. We spent the first half of 2017 recording The Harlot Star at Sylar Sound Studios and the latter half building up to the release, which will be worldwide on January 19, 2018.”
Scott: “After a couple one-off shows we just kinda took a break and did our own thing for a little while. I started an Iron Maiden tribute band with some friends just to keep my chops up. I rode my bike and worked a lot. To say I was anxious to get Frost Giant back on track would be an understatement. I was putting whatever free time I had towards adding on to what was written for the Harlot Star. Like writing leads and solos, the more melodic stuff on the album.”
How did the “The Harlot Star” become the album name?
Matti: “Sometime in 2009, before the History Channel became obsessed with ancient aliens and knock-offs of Antique Road Show, they used to have some pretty interesting documentaries. I was watching one about comets, and the narrator mentioned that Martin Luther had referred to comets as ‘harlot stars’. In the 16th century, the widespread belief in Europe was that the heavens revolved around the Earth, but comets threw a wrench into that notion because their orbits didn’t make sense with a geocentric sky. I just thought that sounded like a great name for a song and the concept followed after.”
Frost Giant Family
There have been some new members added on recently into the Frost Giant family…. could you catch us up on the official line up?
Matti: “Before and during the recording process, we switched out a few members. Rich was out of the picture before we went to the studio. Jonathan Smith and Jason Esbensen both played on the album, but ultimately they had no time to be in a resurgent band that was going to be much more active. In each case we’ve all remained on great terms. Jon has his own power metal project called Ominous Glory which should be putting out their debut album soon. Jay also worked on that project with him but he spends most of his time at a studio console as an engineer now. Rich still does the big band circuit professionally. Last I heard he was playing cruise ships with Gary Puckett and his orchestra. You know, *sings* “Young girl, get out of my mind… my love for you is way out of line…”… totally not a creepy song. But hey, those young girls he was singing about are now in their mid-60’s so..
Ahem… so, the new blood- first to join was Ty Asoudegan, who is a beast of a guitar player. He was able to cut a few solos on The Harlot Star. Next was drummer Armen Koroghlian, who also plays for tech-death metal monsters Cognitive. When he offered to join us we were all in collective amazement. Our music is really fast and there aren’t a lot of drummers who can keep pace with precision and stamina, but Armen can smoke the fast tempos and play the more grooved-out parts in a way that flows. Lastly, after a few other bassists came and went, Brook Duer joined up. He also plays in Conflict Theory and formerly played in Assayer (Philly thrash). So, the group that Scott and I are working with now is incredibly talented, and they push us to be better musicians every time we meet up.”
How did the signing to Transcending Records come about?
Matti: “Total happenstance. A friend of mine sent me a message about them looking for releases to put out in late 2017 or early 2018, and I contacted them and sent them some music. Mike Ramirez liked it and offered us a contract. We were unsure if we wanted to go with a label or self-release initially, but there are just certain things that a label can do that we can’t- or rather, we could, but that in and of itself is a full-time job, and all of us have those already. Mike has been able to do so much for us in such a short amount of time and get our music to ears that might not have heard it otherwise.”
Lord of the Songwriting
How does you writing process work if there is one? Does one member do it all and shares with the rest or does everyone contribute?
Scott: “Matt is the lord of the songwriting for the most part. He’s got this vision and this sound that neither I or the other guys want to change. We would rather just layer our own styles and enhance parts. This could change eventually.”
Matti: “Scott forgot to capitalize “Lord of the Songwriting” when he typed that, but what he said has generally been true for the way I wrote songs before. I would record them at home on my small workstation, Scott or Jon would add solos or leads, and then we’d just put it up somewhere and share it. I think it’s gonna be different moving forward, though, because we’re coming together more as a group of people emotionally invested in what we are creating. Not to knock the old members but Ty, Armen, and Brook are really into this and it shows. It’s not just two people who have their hearts in this, it’s now five. I may still have a general idea for how I want something to sound, but I’m also aware that the other people can throw down some good riffs and ideas too. Each band member is welcome to contribute as many or as few ideas as they want. There’s no pressure to contribute and no shutting anyone out.”
I think your sound is hard to pin down into one specific genre, do you have a tag for your style that works?
Matti: “I really don’t. It’s metal, mostly, but subgenres don’t really mean much to me. Others will label us and I’m okay with that.”
Scott: “I’ve heard/seen people label us as “Heathen Hardcore”. I’m cool with that if it were to be shortened to something, or forcefully giving it a subgenre title.”
Matti: “That’s a term I made up a while back that’s kinda stuck around. I like it, but I also don’t push it much. Heathens can get rather prickly about what is and is not considered Heathen and that’s a pissing match I’d rather not have these days. It’s metal, beyond that is up to the listener.”
Just a goof
You have done some pretty killer covers from varied acts like 7 Seconds, Adele, Kansas and Peter Schilling….. is there an “anything goes” philosophy to doing covers?
Matti: “There is a philosophy but not “anything goes”. The philosophy is that all music is related and that a good song can be expressed through many different genres and still sound great. I tend to cover songs I really like and feel some kind of connection to, or songs that might just sound absurd covered in an extreme metal style. The Adele song was just a goof, but I gained a lot of appreciation for her because I had to learn to sing it.”
Scott: “I wanna cover a Maiden song.”
Matti: “You’re singing it, then. Get on it, Blaze.”
Prior to the album, you released a video for the track “Prisoner Of The Past”….could you go over some of the details of that whole experience?
Scott: “My friend/roommate Bruce Longo had been doing a lot of claymation short films in our basement for Instagram and Facebook posts. After he did that for a little while, he ended up doing a full music video for The Goddamn Gallows which turned out really awesome. This was as we were entering the studio. We gave him the storyline of the song and basically let him do his thing. I like that he made claymation models of our actual guitars. So Bruce started his own claymation studio called Headless Eyes Claymation from all this. Check it out on Instagram.”
Matti: “Bruce did an incredible job. It was something he asked us if he could do- we didn’t approach him- and it took him like 5 months to get it finished. He did this entirely by hand in his free time. I don’t want to understate how fucking awesome it was that he did that for us and it came out amazing. In the end he made his own story for the song which doesn’t quite go with the lyrics but you get so drawn into the visual aspect of the story he tells, that the lyrics don’t matter. The song becomes a backdrop for the story Bruce is telling, which was all his creation. It’s a great video and I’m very grateful he did that for us.”
I see you are starting to perform some live shows again….how has it been so far? What are your thoughts on playing live? Do you have tour plans to support the album?
Scott: “We just played our first show back on December 22, 2017. It was pretty amazing. The other bands, Corpse Hoarder and Wolves Attack!! threw down hard. Had a packed house all night. Show sold out. We had a soft release for The Harlot Star that night. Playing live is my passion. It’s my most favorite thing to do in life. We got a solid lineup so our live shows are gonna hit much harder. As far as touring we are planning a pretty sick tour for around the end of spring early summer with a couple heavy hitters. Can’t really spill the beans on that yet tho. We’re trying to tour as much as life will allow us to for supporting the new album.”
Matti: “We have some stuff in the works, like Scott mentioned. We do want to play live and tour as much as our schedules allow. We all have varying levels of obligation that we can’t just toss aside. Armen has Cognitive which has a much more active gigging schedule in addition to his job as a tattoo artist. Brook and his wife just had a baby. Ty has other musical projects, I have my career (you know, the one that contributes to my IRA), so we will do what we can, but we have to be smart about it. If the right opportunities come our way we will absolutely pounce on them, though.”
“..the narrator mentioned that Martin Luther
had referred to comets as ‘harlot stars’…”
Are your thoughts on downloading music different at all now that you are on a label?
Scott: “Not really. People are going to take it if they can get it. I’m all for people hearing our music however they get it.”
Matti: “It’s just the way of things. I’ve never been completely okay with people just taking music without supporting the artist who made it, but change is a constant in all of life and people tend to gravitate towards what is easiest and most convenient. Do I wish that the digitization of music didn’t also come with a devaluing of our art? Yes. Do I wish that it didn’t condition an entire generation of people to think that music is just free for the taking? Absolutely. But, nothing is forever. This will pass and the tides will shift. I collect records and I’ve seen the inserts that came with albums in the 70’s about how tape piracy was harming the artists and the industry. Same story, different medium. I’m already seeing in the metal community that if people like what you make, if they appreciate it, they’ll buy it. It’s also made it easier to distribute music independently, whereas before, if your band wasn’t on a label, recording a professional album, making your own physical media, and distributing it was prohibitively expensive, so there are upsides to the modern world as well. Again, I just wish that music in general did not become so devalued as a result but, it is what it is. It’s just another challenge that artists and labels have to work with. Working against it hasn’t been successful.”
A niche thing
Both being Pennsy boys, what’s your opinion on the folk metal scene and metal in general here? Who are some acts that are worth checking out from the Keystone State?
Scott: “There’s not really much of a folk metal scene around us. There is a pretty impressive death metal scene in Philly and also probably one of the biggest hardcore scenes in the country. Cognitive and Corpse Hoarder have been killing it for the DM scene. Corpse Hoarder got to play Wacken. That was awesome!”
Matti: “Pennsylvania has always been a hardcore state, and has always had s good solid roster of metal and punk bands at any given time. When I show up for practice and I walk the halls of the building, I can hear all the bands there from all different styles and it’s just unbelievable how much talent is contained just within those walls. Folk metal is kind of a niche thing, and there are a couple of bands that are somewhat local who bear the torch. Fiakra has been around for a bit and Malphas is really, really good. Swashbuckle is kinda local, they’re right across the river in New Jersey. Prosper or Perish is a great metal band that puts on a great show every time. Wolves Attack!! is something to behold and definitely not for the weak or the squeamish. Jesus Piece is ridiculously heavy, and Dysphoria is still kicking the hardcore can around after some 24 years. They have generations of people going bonkers over them every time they play. This is Hardcore is an annual Philly tradition that brings bands and attendees from all over the world. There’s really no other place in the United States that I’d rather be doing this in. The ground here is very fertile.”
Who are the biggest influences for Frost Giant? Anything from music, movies, TV, books, etc…
Matti: “Skyrim. Dragon Age. Mythology. Ancient history. High fantasy, like the Deverry books by Katharine Kerr, or Tolkien, or the Dragonlance saga originated by Weis & Hickman, Game of Thrones. Existentialism. Eastern philosophy mixed with Norse legends. Musically, everything I’ve picked up along the journey going back to the 70’s when I first became aware of what music was. I like conflicting emotions. I’m influenced by things that are so beautiful that it makes you feel sadness. I love poking holes in the sacred, in the idea that there are no heroes and no masters and that all boundaries are self-imposed. I love storytelling. A good story makes for a good song. I’m influenced by music that moves me, and that is a list that would go on forever if I had to write it.
Favorite music from 2017? What albums for 2018 are looking forward to?
Matti: “I really, really enjoyed Wintersun’s The Forest Seasons and Xanthochroid’s Of Erthe and Axen parts 1 and 2. You couldn’t ask for two releases that seem so opposite but yet make perfect sense. Wintersun got a lot of flak for their crowdfunding but I kicked in and I was more than happy with what I got for it. The Forest Seasons did the thing I like, when a band does what they want as opposed to what people expect them to do, and the songs, while stripped down and more raw than Time 1, are all rock solid. Xanthochroid basically made a cinematic masterpiece of a movie out of a double album. You don’t listen to Of Erthe and Axen, you experience it. It’s beautiful in a way few metal albums ever can express. For 2018 I am excited for the new Heidevolk, but to be honest I haven’t been paying much attention to what is slated to be released. I would love to see Devin Townsend release something, either with DTP or Casualties of Cool in the coming year.”
Scott: “Really psyched on everything that’s going on right now. We have some big things in the works at the moment. Really looking forward to getting out on the road. I’m really hoping we can fly across the big pond soon. Totally looking forward to the next record as well. We already have a few song ideas for it. Really pumped! Go out and pick up The Harlot Star on Jan 19th!”
Matti: “If you feel so inclined, please follow us on social media on Facebook and Instagram @frostgiantofficial, subscribe to our YouTube channel (we don’t have a custom URL yet, need more subscribers, so just look for our Prisoner of the Past video and mash that button), check out our digital music and merch at frostgiant.bandcamp.com, and last but not least, go to transcendingrecords.com and order The Harlot Star on CD. If we sell lots of CD’s we may yet get a vinyl release, so please, help us make that dream come true. Thank you all and be excellent to each other.”