Interview: Artisan (melodic hardcore) – “Could you imagine 95 Nicholas Cages? That sucks.”

Upstate, NY’s Artisan play melodic hardcore with drive and heart. “Living in a consistent state of pessimism will create a harsh dynamic between yourself and the rest of the world, hindering your friendships, relationships and…well…your life in general really,” opines vocalist Jackson Corbo.

I was looking forward to seeing the band share the stage with Hundreth and Meridian at a recent Poughkeepsie, NY show but the gig was snowed out. I hit up the band and made sure we still connected anyway, because they are doing things right in many ways.

Read the interview and stream their debut EP “Prelude” below.

Prelude is your debut EP. What can you tell us about it?

Ryan: Well, it’s funny because we had originally written 5 completely different songs for the EP that were way more metalcore in sound. Artisan started out as a side project with our drummer and vocalist, and when we made it into a full band, we wanted to continue with the style they had set up. Then, after we had already booked the studio time to go and record 5 brand new songs, we changed our tuning and changed our style. We rushed the first couple of songs and then wrote the last two over the course of the recording process.

Growing up in bands myself I initially thought the music industry was like a wall I had to blow apart to get inside. Then I wanted to make one myself or strike a healthy balance between the mainstream and underground. Now the “music industry” is larger and yet smaller and more connected than ever. All the rules have changed. I think honesty and good faith in music is still the best policy. How do you think bands can best ally themselves with outside interests these days with integrity?

Ryan: I think it comes down to a combination of things. A band starts out doing what they love. Then they start touring, losing money, and racking up debt. And then the label could offer them a way of basically selling out for record sales and popularity for the label itself in return. Some bands will say, “screw that,” and continue being free and living in a van from night to night, and others will take the money and the “hotel every night” life. And that sucks, because a lot of bands have strayed so far from what they started out as, and that’s a huge bummer. Us, we stick to the “find weekend shows, play what we love to play, and do what we can to make sure we continue being able to do this for as long as we can,” mentality.

Artisan is a cool name in that premiere musicians used to be considered on the same level as master craftspeople. A violinist or a guitarist was treasured. That was the edgy entertainment technology of the day, so to speak. Now bands can have financiers directly through their own fan base, like painters who had commissions back in the Renaissance but with the fan base who donate generally not telling the band what to do. There is a measure of trust in the Kickstarter age that the quality will hopefully be worth the investment. Do you feel musicians are appreciated enough?

Eric: Yes and no. Some bands work their ass off and struggle just to stay afloat while others find success and live comfortably for a touring life. While both deserve appreciation for working so hard, the artists that struggle and continue to do what they love need to hear that appreciation and encouragement the most, because for some, it’s all they have, and it’s all they’re holding onto.

“I Can’t Carry This Dead Weight” from your song “Content” is a cool lyric. In life sometimes we have to change focus when people can’t overcome their own issues and project pain onto or hurt others. All you can do is have heart and faith and keep overcoming tests as best you can. Can you talk about your thoughts when writing that song?

Jackson: This song, and really the overarching theme of the entire album is about letting go of negativity. Living in a consistent state of pessimism will create a harsh dynamic between yourself and the rest of the world, hindering your friendships, relationships and…well…your life in general really. When I wrote, “I can’t carry this dead weight,” the line itself is a metaphor for holding onto negativity.

I’m starting to watch old episodes of that sci-fi show The 100 and was wondering who, if you crashed to Earth with 100 other people (sadly, including your band mates) some of the others would be. Don’t list that many, hahaha. Dead celebrities I pick Sharon Tate, Aliyah and Brittany Murphy. Maybe Kurt Cobain. Or Paul Walker, since he deserves another chance at surviving a crash. That was a bummer.

Eric: Do we die in the crash? Or survive? None of us have ever watched The 100, so we can only assume we die from the crash and if that’s the case… Us 5 and 95 Nicholas Cages. We’d be okay with going down if that were the scenario.

Ryan: Could you imagine 95 Nicholas Cages? That sucks.

Depends on the movie. Did you know at a certain point the EP was done?

Ryan: Well like I had said before, we sort of rushed “Prelude” since we changed our style at literally the very last minute. Looking back, there was probably a couple of things we could have done differently to make it more than what it was. But at the time, we just wanted to release five songs to give our friends something to listen to.

What makes you love the style you play?

Ryan: I have always loved the idea of being able to understand an emotion that is being translated through music. Like bands that have a real heartfelt verse, or a clean guitar that is playing something sad, bands like Counterparts and The Ghost Inside’s Get What You Give album. I feel like when I listen to them, or read their lyrics, I can relate to them so much. And to be able to write music that does that for someone else means everything. Relating to our fans makes it more personal and more meaningful. Obviously this isn’t the only style of music that allows us to do that, but there’s something about melodic hardcore that makes everything feel more powerful.

 

Live shots by Alie Krohn Photography


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