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Controlled chaos. That’s how Steve Thompson, lead vocalist for “The Summoned” describes the band’s sound. I would have to agree. The music is technical, precise and progressive at times, anarchic, aggressive and brutally heavy at others. The Summoned have been making waves on the metal scene and have been receiving rave reviews for their latest album “Sessions”. Check out this interview that I did with Steve about the band’s latest happenings.
XS ROCK: Tell me about the latest band news? Any new projects coming out, live shows or announcements?
Steve: Well recently we just announced the release of our new album“Sessions” due out on June 16th, 2017 which is our biggest news at the moment. We don’t have any shows planned currently due to focusing all our efforts on promoting the album however, we are looking to tour towards the end of the summer.
XS ROCK: How long has the band been together?
Steve: Collectively Shaun, Sam, and myself(Stephen) have been jamming for the better part of 14 years but as our current form of The Summoned we have been a band for 10 years now.
XS ROCK: What was your main motivation for starting or being in a band?
Steve: Money…nah just kidding. Seriously though I’ve always been a fan of art and creating things. Music is a great way to essentially showcase both of those attributes and also it gives me an outlet for my anger which is something I have always needed.
XS ROCK: What is your music background?
Steve: I actually don’t have much of a musical background unlike Shaun our guitarist who was in band in high school. I don’t know how to play any other instruments but I have an ear for music and what sounds and feels right. When we write most of the time I convey to the guys what is in my head by mouthing it and they can build off it or Shaun presents something to me and I suggest tweaking and it comes out in a way that is that much better. So even though I’m not classically trained or anything of the sorts I feel that I still have that ability within me to at least compose.
XS ROCK: What image do you think your music conveys?
Steve: I think our music overall conveys controlled chaos. When I listen to our music I often find myself feeling a sense of panic and tend to enter a fog where I start day dreaming if you will, essentially putting me in a trance so one could say it’s also hypnotic. But if I had to sum it up essentially insanity.
XS ROCK: What are your immediate music career goals?
Steve: Our immediate music career goals would be to tour to support the album for a few cycles, maybe get on some sweet festivals or tour packages. Then maybe a year and a half to 2 years from now we begin recording our next album. Keep the ball rolling!
XS ROCK: What are your long-term career goals?
Steve: Personally for long term career goals I would say to continue putting out awesome albums and continue to develop and progress with our sound. Kind of on the same line as The Deftones where every album sounds different in their own way but they’re all great.
XS ROCK: Which do you prefer? Writing new songs and recording or playing for a live audience?
Steve: That’s a tough one, both avenues are two completely different beasts. On one hand there’s writing and recording which is seeing something come to life where playing for a live audience is portraying that experience. If I had to choose though I think I’d choose playing for a live audience because that’s the ultimate end game. Even when writing you’re already thinking”man I can’t wait to play these songs live!”
XS ROCK: What are your songs about?(What specific themes do they cover?)
Steve: Our songs themes tend to vary. The overall theme though would have to do with the mind essentially. We’re really big on lyrics about what the mind is capable of and what goes on inside.“Sessions” for instance is about a man who wakes up in a mental hospital and is consulted by a doctor where he goes through a series of sessions to combat his personal demons and fears.
XS ROCK: Do you have any outrageous tour stories from the road? If so, please fill us in.
Steve: Yeah we got a few haha. One for instance is we were in Canada playing some small town. By day it was gorgeous, nice downtown setting, real nice people, a sweet pawn shop that had super rare video games but once night fall came holy s***! First I would like to explain that when we arrived there were no opening bands, the promoter was actually nowhere to be found, and maybe two or three people came out. We almost canceled but said“hey screw it, show must go on”. Anyways we play our set, people bought merch with weed because they didn’t have money so I figured whatever that’s fine but wow the weed was awful. Any who someone offers us a place to stay right above the venue. Before we enter there’s a pimp waiting at the door almost Harvey Keitel in Taxi Driver style. We get up stairs, the door was kicked in, and looks like someone was recently murdered there. Naturally we decided we“had a long drive” to the next venue and opted-in to sleeping in a Walmart parking lot. We slept in a lot of Walmart parking lots. It’s so convenient.
XS ROCK: What’s the strangest request that you’ve ever received from one of your fans?
Steve: To be honest I might have to say my autograph. I mean I’m just a regular dude who make obnoxious music and never thought in a million years I would get to a point where people think I’m important enough to warrant an autograph. It’s surreal and humbling, I mean think about it. How many people as teenagers say their going to be in a band, actually accomplish that feat, and sign autographs let alone at an in-store appearance at Hot-Topic.
XS ROCK: Were your parents supportive of your aspirations to play in a rock band?
Steve: They are supportive. My family thinks it’s pretty awesome that I’m playing shows, being on the road, and seeing me in all sorts of different states via social media. They’ve always wanted to see me come out of my shell and what better way than to be a vocalist of a band playing in front of people.
XS ROCK: What are your favorite tracks to play live?
Steve: I think my favorite song to play live is“Primogenial Birth”. It’s so intense. I feel like once it comes on I crank it up a notch on the intensity meter and move faster on stage.
XS ROCK: Which band or artist inspired you to perform? Why?
Steve: I think the band that inspired me most to want to perform was the band Korn. I was a really big fan of them back in high school, and still am but when I saw them live I was like“wow I want to do that”. My high school friends even told me that I should join or start a band. Little do they know it would happen years later and here we are today.
XS ROCK: If you could design a dream tour for your band, who would be on the bill?
Steve: Well I’m kind of a nu-metal kid so my other guys would beg to differ so if I had to choose I think my dream tour would involve Korn, Deftones, Rammstein, and Dillinger Escape Plan. I think that would be a banging line-up. Granted my favorite band is Between The Buried and Me but I feel a line-up like that would just be unreal. Bring it back to the days of Family Values tour where arenas are selling out left and right.
XS ROCK: What do you consider your greatest accomplishment so far?
Steve: I think my greatest accomplishment has to have been playing The Palladium downstairs in Worcester, MA. I’ve always said to myself that“one day I will be on that stage”. Little did I know that years later it would come true. It was a very surreal moment and hope to do it again someday.
XS ROCK: If you weren’t performing in a band what kind of career do you think you would have?
Steve: If I wasn’t performing in a band I think I would ultimately just be working a 9-5 job as much as it kind of sucks to say. The Summoned is my passion and outlet so if I wasn’t doing something I love, I think I’d be stuck in a dead end job doing something I may not necessarily want to do for the rest of my life, which is why I’m super grateful for being with my guys in The Summoned
XS ROCK: What type of equipment do you use for live shows?
Steve: Being a vocalist I don’t tend to use much but I use a Shure Wireless SM58 Mic with Wireless Module. I used to be wired for a long time but because I constantly throw my arms, my cord would always get stuck in Shaun’s head stock which would cause him to go out of tune. I had an opportunity to get a used one for cheap, bought it, and will never go back to wired again for live shows.
XS ROCK: What do you think of the current music scene?
Steve: I think the music scene is great, however I feel we’re starting to enter a transitional period. Simply releasing an album and putting it online these days
XS ROCK: For anyone that doesn’t know you, what would they be surprised to know about you?
Steve: I like this question because I find myself to be like an onion with multiple layers. For instance I’m a dude in a heavy metal band but you wouldn’t know that I enjoy baking, have a love for 80’s pop music, or a sucker for rom-coms.
XS ROCK: If someone had never heard you before, how would you describe your sound?
Steve: I would have to say that we’re a mix of older Between The Buried and Me, The Dillinger Escape Plan, and The Faceless. I feel like those are bands people compare us to often.
XS ROCK: Is there anything that you’d like to promote or say to your fans out there?
Steve: Yeah thank you so much for your support!“Sessions” is out on June 16th and we got so many awesome perks including an instrumental version with each pre-order. Also we have an amazing CD release show planned the same day at Jewel Music Venue in Manchester, NH.
XS ROCK: Thanks again for taking the time to talk with us at XS Rock!
Steve: Thank you!