XS ROCK: Tell me about the latest band news? Any new projects coming out, live shows or announcements?
Ryan: We just played our last show for a while with Unleash The Archers and Striker. It was an amazing show for us to be a part of as we have been following UTA for a few years now. For the next few months we are focusing like a laser on the next album. The studio session is booked for the end of November so now it’s a matter of going over and perfecting every facet of the new material. In the meantime, we are reissuing our first album to include a couple live tracks recorded at a gig in our hometown of Sioux Falls as a thank you to our fans who have been so awesome to us these last few years.
XS ROCK: How long has the band been together?
Sheldon: March In Arms formed in 2012 but we have all been playing in bands together for years.
XS ROCK: What was your main motivation for starting or being in a band?
Ryan: I had Michael Jordan and Bo Jackson posters on my bedroom walls until the age of 10 or 11. Then I heard the Ride the Lightning album, those came down, and the Metallica posters went up. Many were hand drawn! My first drum kit was in 6th grade and I acquired an electric guitar not long after. Most of my time in high school was spent in that room playing drums and riffs.
XS ROCK: What is your music background?
Ryan: Before March In Arms I was always the drummer in bands. In the early and mid 2000’s I was the drummer for a metalcore band called Nodes Of Ranvier(Facedown/Victory Records) of which our guitar player Jon Parker was also a founding member of. March In Arms actually began as a side project of mine during that time, hoping one day I could ditch the drums and play guitar for once!
XS ROCK: What image do you think your music conveys?
Ryan: I always visualize the lyrics of our songs when we play them. I’ve watched countless hours of war documentaries so it’s pretty easy to fill in the blanks for me.
XS ROCK: What are your immediate music career goals? (Next 1 to 3 years.)
Ryan: We would love to see album number two land us a solid record deal and expand our audience and geographical reach. Tag along on some tours and play as many shows as we possibly can. A stint in Europe or Japan has already come up but of course you better have legit connections before you go out and buy plane tickets for something like that!
XS ROCK: What are your long-term career goals?
Ryan: I’ve been down this road before in Nodes where you’re not sure how serious it’s going to get and then things just begin to snowball. There are so many growing pains involved with building a band, especially with jobs and family but when you put so much work in to the music itself it motivates you to make the balancing act work. The second album is yet to be recorded and we are working on ideas for the next one! Long term, put out music that means something to us as long as we can and take what opportunities come our way.
XS ROCK: Which do you prefer? Writing new songs and recording or playing for a live audience?
Ryan: I honestly can’t say that I prefer one over the other. We write the music for ourselves, stuff that we want to hear. I have literally jumped up and air fucked the room when I felt like I wrote a great part! At the same time, when you play live and realize all these people love your music as much as you do and are singing along it gives you this unbeatable adrenaline rush.
XS ROCK: What are your songs about? (What specific themes do they cover?)
Ryan: In the early 2000’s, the band Iced Earth came out with an album called “The Glorious Burden” which was a concept album about military history, primarily the American Civil War. I have always been fascinated with military history and thought it would be awesome to have a band that writes about the topic. The first March In Arms song I wrote was “Firebreather” clear back in 2004. It is about the attack on Pearl Harbor and many of the songs on the album are direct references to WWII history or otherwise military related. The song “The Failure” is about how Neville Chamberlain and other European leaders attempted to pacify Hitler prior to the war. “The Knife” is not a reference to any specific battle but describes the hellacious fight between the U.S. Marines and Japanese who regularly fought to the death in the Pacific theater.
XS ROCK: Do you have any outrageous tour stories from the road?
Ryan: One that comes to mind is after playing a show in Fargo in the middle of winter we were all amped up and fucking around, just being loud and stupid. We made it back to the hotel room with our bags out of the ice cold van and started wrestling around. Our drummer, Phil, was laying on the bed and I smacked him in the shins with my pillow not knowing that frozen memory foam would be as hard as a block of balsa wood! It had to of hurt like hell because he screamed like a little baby!
XS ROCK: Were your parents supportive of your aspirations to play in a rock band?
Ryan: I grew up a farm kid and it was non-stop country music. My parents could not stand Nodes because it was all screaming. I got in to huge arguments with my dad all the time about that band! They will never “get” metal but I think they have come around.
XS ROCK: What are your favorite tracks to play live?
Ryan: Firebreather, Ashes, any of the new material.
XS ROCK: Which band or artist inspired you to perform? Why?
Sheldon: Metallica-I remember hearing “Fight Fire with Fire” when I was a teenager and it was the fastest song I had heard at the time. I would try and air guitar along to it and decided I needed to learn how to do that.
XS ROCK: If you could design a dream tour for your band, who would be on the bill?
Sheldon: Metallica, Nightwish, Sabaton(fellow military metal masters) and why not AC/DC!
XS ROCK: What do you consider your greatest accomplishment so far?
Ryan: I think we are still at such an early stage it would be hard to call something like that out. Maybe the music video for Ashes. It was shot with 3 locations, one of them being an Air Force base which we had to get clearance to film on the premises for. Hours and hours of work, self-written, self-funded but it looks like a big budget video. The most difficult part was transforming a semi trailer into a C-130 aircraft.. We built the whole set, shot the video and tore it down in 3 days. We already have plans to construct a tank for the next one.
XS ROCK: If you weren’t performing in a band what kind of career do you think you would have?
Ryan: I don’t have to think about that one because I’m doing both at once right now. I started working for a carpenter when I was a teenager and it may have been the best thing that ever happened to me for my music career. It’s no secret that playing music is not exactly a lucrative business to most. Having those skills allowed me to always have a way to make money between tours and hold a job. As of now I have my own business and control my schedule. Sheldon, Jon and Scott have all been a second hand at one point or another so I guess if we really blow up I will have to take the whole band on as my crew!
XS ROCK: What type of equipment do you use for live shows?
Sheldon: Drums-Ludwig, Zildjian, DW, Axis, Vater. Bass-Fender, Ampeg. Guitars-ESP, Jackson, Ibanez, Laney, Peavey, Mesa Boogie, EVH, Marshall.
XS ROCK: What do you think of the current music scene?
Sheldon: I think it’s at a good point in time which can also have some drawbacks. On one hand, you can get your music out to more people easier than ever before. On the other hand, the scene is oversaturated.
XS ROCK: For anyone that doesn’t know you, what would they be surprised to know about you?
Ryan: Well, my hobbies include racing cars and competitive pistol shooting so…surprise!
XS ROCK: If someone had never heard you before, how would you describe your sound?
Ryan: We really focus on riffs, so we have a sound that is heavy metal/thrash metal with a solid dose of epic power metal.
XS ROCK: Is there anything that you’d like to promote or say to your fans out there?
Ryan: The next album is gonna’ be a beast, keep your eyes open next spring for that. The current album is being reissued on Nov 20th to include some live tracks. To any of you guys beyond the Midwest and even outside of the U.S. be patient, we will play for you hopefully in the near future.
XS ROCK: Thanks again for taking the time to talk with us at XS Rock!
March In Arms is:
Ryan Knutson-Vocals, guitar
Scott McGuire-Bass, vocals