Mary Zimmer possesses one of the most expansive and amazing voices in hard rock and metal. There is little doubt she could sing or scream the phone book and make it worth listening to. The former Luna Mortis vocalist recently stepped down as frontwoman for Midwest based extreme metallers, White Empress. In the midst of this, Zimmer began working with guitarist Erik Tyler on some new music. While Zimmer had planned to work on both projects, her departure from White Empress opened the door to focus on creating music with Tyler full-time. While that had not been the intended plan, so far it has worked out well, as the duo have already recorded several songs, developed a vision for the project, and chosen the name Santa Marta. This month, Metalholic caught up with Zimmer and Tyler, who now reside in Arizona, to chat about Santa Marta, how it all came together, and the direction of the band.
Metalholic: What brought you two together musically?
Erik Tyler: I’d already been working on the music for a while and had planned on doing something with it. I knew Mary was in an interesting spot so I kind of put the idea out there that maybe she’d want to do some vocals on a track or something. Things just sort of naturally snowballed into what they are now. Things are just going great.
MH: Is there some relevance to the Santa Marta name?
MZ: When we were looking at the name, I think it was one of Erik’s suggestions. We kind of wanted to have a specific image, but without having to do the costuming level of like my previous band. White Empress took about two-and-a-half hours of prep time for me personally just to get into costume and make-up for that. We were just trying to see, could we do something that looks cool but maybe a little more practical. We were going for like a South American kind of cannibalistic look.
ET: It’s kind of like a cannibal meets some kind of rebellion army or something, and somehow they merged. I don’t know [laughs].
MZ: It is kind of like if cannibals took elements of western culture.
ET: One of the biggest things I wanted to go with on the imagery is I wanted to do something that is less-is-more, and I didn’t want it to be cheesy. That was the biggest thing: Keeping the cheese off of it.
MH: You guys have posted a couple of the new songs on YouTube so far and they are notably different from each other. How do you sort of envision the Santa Marta sound?
MZ: I think what it sounds like is some of the more Gothic atmospheric elements coming out of Europe, and you also have the down-tuned groove that comes with the South American elements, and then there’s also some elements of the European style riffing. Definitely the classic metal element we’ve put in there. And somehow it all seems to flow together. Erik’s got a really good way of incorporating a bunch of different influences together without it being too overly jumbled or overlapping. It’s really enjoyable to come in and do the vocals then because I’m able to pull from different areas as well. So we’re pulling from all of our metal influences we’ve had over the years. You’re free to incorporate a lot under the umbrella of metal which is cool.
ET: One of the things is, I’m a listener first. If I don’t want to listen to a song, I know other people don’t want to listen to a song. I just try to write what I would like to hear. Sometimes it incorporates things that are slower, heavier, whatever they are, and whatever it takes to get that message out.
Santa Marta is currently looking to flesh out the rest of the line-up for recording and live performances. The music can be found everywhere from YouTube, Spotify, iTunes, Amazon, Google Play, and more. You can listen to the complete interview with Erik and Mary below.