Q&A with Nina and Josh
For many, Washington, D.C.’s A Sound of Thunder is a name they’ve not yet heard. At least not beyond the 1952 short story by science fiction novelist Ray Bradbury. However, that should change with the release of the band’s second full length album on Nightmare records, Out Of The Darkness.
The quartet began its assembly and journey in 2008, beginning with guitarist Josh Schwartz and drummer Chris Haren. Next to the fold came the powerful voice of Nina Osegueda, with bassist Jesse Keen adding the final piece to the foundation. The band’s sound taps into a range of classic inspiration from the likes of Black Sabbath, Rainbow, Rush, Accept and Judas Priest with a healthy appreciation for power metal ala Primal Fear, Blind Guardian and Hammerfall.
In an era of drop-tuning Schwartz plays it old school, using only standard tuning, and a vintage approach to his playing. Haren is a student of the Neil Peart school of drumming, making intelligent use of his stick work. Likewise he has a knack for deep lyrics. Keen brings the modern edge to the band’s style and sound, and his playing melts into the mix and binds the band’s sound together. Finally, Osegueda is a singer who covers all the bases: You like female fronted? Check. You like ballsy singing ala Halford, Dio and Dickinson? Check. You like vocalists who can attack each song in unique ways? Check. Osegueda is a metal vocalist Swiss Army knife. Individually each member is about as impressive as one could ask for. Together the sum of their talents makes for an impressive whole.
On Out Of The Darkness, the follow-up to last year’s Metal Renaissance, the band ascends to a new level. A combination of inspired writing, full of hooks, superb musicianship and memorable melodies. From epic moments like “The Day I Die” and “Calat Alhambra”, to humorous and campy on “Kill That Bitch”, to raw power such as on the title track and “Murderous Horde”. A Sound of Thunder cover all the bases. If one is expecting ASoT to sound like the majority of female-fronted metal bands out there, other than the occasional nod, such as “Nightwish”, you’d be barking up the wrong vocalist. Osegueda has more in common with Ralf Scheepers and Mark Tornillo than Simone Simons and Liv Kristine.
Oddly enough, Osegueda did not grow up on metal. “I went to my first metal show when I was 21, and I saw Dragonforce,” laughs the singer. “I was a late bloomer. I saw Dragonforce and I realized I want to do that.” However, prior to that epiphany she grew up on R&B and Gospel, and she was trained operatically before college interrupted her musical path.
For Schwartz his desire to play music started with Ozzy in the early 90s and took a reverse course. “I started off with an Ozzy tape that a friend’s sister gave me. And I went backwards in time for some reason. I bought all the Ozzy stuff, and then Black Sabbath and Deep Purple. I kind of credit Tony Iommi, for some reason his playing above all pushed me to wanna play music.”
It would be Iommi’s bandmate Geezer Butler who would inspire bassist Keen. I’ve been playing music since I was a kid. I didn’t really decide I wanted to do metal until I heard Opeth‘s Deliverance. I heard that about four years ago, and the skill and the aggression of the music– and I decided this is what I want to do.”
Osegueda and Haren are also the band’s lyricists with Chris taking the intellectual approach and Nina taking a more spontaneous path to inspiration. The question for each song comes down to who wants it the most. “We trade-off and or fist fight over rights to doing lyrics,” Osegueda offers with a grin. “It’s like fighting over custody.”
“Nina will whip out lyrics, just stream of consciousness, and she’ll write an entire set of lyrics in 10 minutes while we’re jamming on something,” interjects Schwartz. “Chris works at home, and he’ll work for like three months on one set. He’ll get every word exactly how he wants it.”
In the midst of touring for the new album, the band is already rehearsing material for their next album. “Everybody in the band writes to some degree,” says Schwartz, “and we’re always jamming and coming up with ideas in rehearsal. So we’ve constantly got more material than we have time and money to record.”
This week I sat down with Nina and Josh, and eventually Jesse and Chris as well, to talk about the path of the band, the making of Out Of The Darkness, Nina’s duet with John Gallagher of Raven, and much more. You can listen to the full interview below, then go check out the music and buy the record.
[Live photos courtesy of Chris B. and DCHeavyMetal.com]