The name of the band Seneca, is interesting to say the least and sounds as if there is a story behind it. Where did the name come from and what is the story?
The name actually comes from a Roman philosopher, Lucius Annaeus Seneca. We had read into some of his ideas and the name inherently stuck. We particularly like his philosophy that time will eventually reveal all truth. Being that we believe you should write and play music that’s passionate and from the heart, we believe that if we continue to do this, when the dust clears, we’ll be the ones left standing.
Can you briefly summarize how the band formed and what you do in Seneca?
The band formed about 6 years ago when our drummer, Nathan, and our guitarist Joe got together after answering an ad online for local music. After multiple line-up changes we’ve finally ended up with our current line-up. I’m Corey and I’m the lead singer.
Your lyrics are infused with heavy detail and raw emotion. What is it that normally gives you inspiration when writing lyrics and is there a concept behind the writing of Reflections?
Normally when I write lyrics I zone out…they kind of spill on the page and then I tend to re-arrange them to fit. The biggest advantage with Reflections is that the music was already written when I came into the picture as the new vocalist. I was a fan of the band already and was able to listen to the music and write the lyrics around it. Initially there wasn’t a specific concept behind the album until I sat down with all the lyrics in front of me. I realized they we’re all about my past and me re-interpretation of it…how different my life looks now compared to then. That’s where the concept of the album came from, basically “reflections” of the now juxtaposed with my interpretation of the past. I think the art for the album really captures that as well.
You just released Reflections, how has the reactions been thus far? What can fans expect when they pick up a copy?
So far we’ve received a lot of positive reviews. I think for a true metal fan they can really appreciate the sincerity and musicianship on the album. We strive, as we believe any band should, to write captivating and passionate music. I think real metal fans can recognize this and hear the difference. I think fans can expect an album that portrays exactly that. Sometimes we’re pissed off, sometimes not, sometimes we’re depressing, and sometimes we’re just mean. Regardless, I think fans can expect an album that runs the gauntlet of emotion and does it well.
When it came to releasing Reflections how did that whole package come together? What was the recording process like, how long did you have, was their any pressure on you?
“Reflections,” was actually put together fairly quickly. As I mentioned earlier, I actually came into the picture as the new vocalist about 6 weeks before the band went into the studio. Needless to say, I put some pressure on myself to get some solid vocals down before going in for recording. Even though we had plenty of time between releases we didn’t really have a lot of time for writing lyrics, etc. The band had been on somewhat of a hiatus with other things like school, jobs, etc. Fortunately, a lot of the material on Reflections has been written for some time, or had been written several months prior to actually recording the album.
How has Lifeforce Records been thus far for you guys? Who approached who?
Lifeforce Records has been amazing. They’ve been super supportive and helpful in our exposure and we couldn’t be happier. We actually approached Lifeforce with a press kit after the recording process. We made a list of potential labels we wanted to be a part of and Lifeforce was at the top of the list. Fortunately, they liked what we had to offer and the rest is history.
How do you think you will effect the metal scene you are part of? What are your thoughts on the growing popularity in it as well?
Of course we hope to set some sort of positive standards for other bands to follow. We do however, hope to do this by simply doing what we do, and doing it well. We feel that as long as we stay true to ourselves and continue to strive to better ourselves, we can come out on top. As far as the growing popularity of the metal scene, its good to see and I think its just another sign of our society being more honest with themselves and what their feeling. Metal music is a catharsis, and I think its healthy for it to be providing so many people this outlet.
You guys are from North Carolina what is the local music scene like there? Any bands you’d recommend?
The music scene here in North Carolina is amazing. Its not just metal, but all genres. One of the biggest bands from North Carolina in our genre would have to be Between the Buried and Me. Of course, you can’t ignore bands like Glass Casket or Prayer for Cleansing either. Hopefully, someday Seneca will mean the same thing to fans as these bands do.
Who did the artwork and title for the album, when you look on the final project, is there anything you wish you could have done differently?
Mike Whalberg from The Fat Kid Illustrations (www.thefatkidillustration.com) did our artwork. He did an amazing job. If anything, it came out better than we initially expected.
Many of your songs are so hard and intense that I am sure they translate well into a live setting taking on a whole new life in front of a live audience. How does it make you feel when the emotion and power that you envisioned in the recording studio, come to life while playing in front of a crowd?
Any musician will tell you that they really started for the live show. There’s nothing like letting yourself go and expressing yourself for a willing audience that can connect with you. It’s exhilarating and therapeutic. The recording process I think is the most frustrating part of the process…it takes forever but at the same time allows you to become your own audience and criticize yourself in the third person. But, to be able to hear a product you’ve created and then perform it live is indescribable. I think it’s the very essence of why musicians do what they do.
What are the upcoming plans for Seneca?
Touring! We have a tour coming up this summer with Within The Ruins and we’ll be hitting most of the U.S. We’re always writing so that’s definitely on the agenda. We’re always anxious to out-do ourselves so we hope to get back in the studio as soon as we’re done pushing “Reflections” and see what else we can do.
Different groups have unique ways of writing their songs. How do you guys go about writing your music? Is it a collective effort or is it more the efforts of one particular member of the band?
For the most part, I would say its definitely a collective effort. Both albums had a stronger influence from one or more members of the band, but everyone in Seneca offers significant contributions. A lot of “Reflections” was written by our drummer, Nathan, and bassist, Rico. That’s why you can hear a lot of rhythmic based grooves and transitions. Our songs usually come about with a single riff offered by a member and then it spills into a 6 hour writing extravaganza.
Going back to the music business, what do you think of everyone downloading music, possibly even your music? Do you think it helps or hurts bands in the long run?
A band in our position, I believe it does have the possibility can help. It’s an easy way to expose our music and get people out to shows. There’s no doubt that who it hurts first is our label. They miss out on key sales, and unfortunately it’s super easy to get your hands on music nowadays. Starving artist doesn’t really even paint the whole picture…there is a threshold that is crossed to where it can do a lot of damage. I believe later on, when and if we’re making a sufficient living off music it would hurt us a lot more.
How has MYSPACE and the internet impacted your band and do you think downloading helps or hinders the artists?
Myspace is the single most important key for online exposure right now for a band. It’s a fast and easy way to expose your music and sell merch. It is literally, for some bands and for better or worse, the reason for their limited success. We’ve had good luck on myspace and will continue to use it as an avenue to reach those interested in metal music across the world.
What is the toughest lesson you ever learned in the studio and on the stage?
The toughest lesson we’ve learned is that nothing is given to you. We have to and have worked hard for anything we’ve received in this business. You have to be aggressive and you have to be confident….and of course you have to write good music.
What bands would you like to tour with and who has been your favorite to tour with this far? Any particular reason?
We’d love to tour with any good band that’s willing to go. We did a 2 and a half month trek with Dr. Acula last year and it was tons of fun.. We ended up having Van Wars to see who could mess up the other’s van the most. There were dead fish under van seats and peanut butter covering vans. Some good times.
Describe Seneca in three words.
Truthful. Powerful. Passionate.
What is currently playing on your iPod or CD Player?
Name it and we got it. Bjork, Gojira, George Michael…a lot of old school hardcore and underground hip-hop. We’re fuckin’ weird. We actually listened to a lot of The Cranberries during the last long drive.
If you had a chance to go back in time, where, what, and why?
I think we would go back about 5 years and take music a lot more serious a lot sooner. I don’t think any of us really expected to make it as far as we have, and now that we’re here, we wish we had done it sooner.
How do you think the recession is affecting musicians like yourself? Is it at all?
Of course, the recession is affecting EVERYONE and EVERYTHING. For musicians in our position it means conserving and being smart with money more than ever. It also means making creative merchandise and making it worth it for fans to buy. We have no help from any source for extra money right now so any funds that are used to support the band come straight from our own pockets…obviously things have tightened up, but haven’t slowed us down.
What’s your reaction when/if a fan told you a very meaningful statement such as “Your music changed my life?” Has this ever happened to you?
I remember being younger and hearing a band that really touched me and it’s hard for me to comprehend that I’ve done that to someone else. It’s the biggest compliment you can get as an artist.
Every band has its musical influences. What are some of the other bands and artists that have greatly influenced you guys and your music?
I mentioned Between the Buried and Me earlier as a band that we definitely look up to. We don’t just look up to them for their musical talent but also their ambition. They have stayed true to themselves while still being different…and thats why they’re successful. We really look up to any band that’s willing to step out of set norms and experiment.
All of that passion that you play with must be tough on you physically. How do you prepare for the physical demands of a tour?
Luckily, most of the band doesn’t smoke or drink, so that always helps. Nathan, our drummer, has been an active Muay Thai kickboxer for about 4 years, so he is definitely the healthiest out of all of us. I guess we don’t really prepare, we just really take advantage of Mcdonald’s two apple pies for a dollar and hope it’s got enough nutrition to last us a month.
Anything else you’d like to add?
Thank you very much and we hope to see everyone on tour this summer!