Genre: Power Metal
Questions by: Nick Parastatidis
1. Hello. How are you? How are things on the CATEGORY VI camp at the moment?
Geoff Waye (Guitars): Things are good, sorry for taking a while to get back to you. After a busy fall and late 2017, things appear to be pretty quiet as we have been working on new music. In 2017 we released our second album in late June which was nominated for an award by our local industry association (MusicNL), we got a new drummer, and we played a bunch of shows including our album release show in November 2017.
2. Some time has passed since the release of your sophomore album entitled “War Is Hell”, so I want to know what you think about it now? Is there something that you would do differently or change it?
Geoff: Given the time, money, and resources, there’s not a lot I can complain about. I could nitpick and say something minor, but overall it captures who the band was at that time as best as we could hope for, and in terms of the actual sound/mix of the album, I’m still very happy with that.
3. By the way when you released your album what did you want to achieve with it and how many of your targets have you achieved so far?
Geoff: I was so focused on getting it recorded and out that I haven’t thought that hard about any targets. I’d love to shoot a professional music video for 1 or 2 songs from the album but I’m not certain we will yet because of the cost involved. It may still happen and we’ve been talking to some people so we shall see. Musically, from my point of view, I wanted to have an album that built upon the strengths of our first album “Fireborn”, and in that regard I think we all delivered and we have a solid album of classic heavy metal with a slight modern edge.
4. I see that there is a gap of 4 years between your debut album entitled “Fireborn” and “War Is Hell”. Why did it take you so long and do you think that this time has worked beneficially for the band?
Geoff: The gap can be easily summed up by two reasons. Firstly, there were some line up changes between albums which slowed things down. Second, the album recording and mixing process took longer than expected due to time constraints - available studio/mixing time etc. There will not be a 4 year gap between the second and third album!
5. Between your 2 studio albums which do you think are the common elements they have and what new does your sophomore release bring to the sound of CATEGORY VI?
Geoff: I think a lot of elements from the first are present on the second album. Having a different bass player and drummer of course changes the dynamic but not to the point that the band and its style is radically different. “War Is Hell” has some stronger songs and better crafted songs in my opinion. I think we have improved as writers, and I think we will continue to do so.
6. How did you manage to make a deal with Killer Metal Records? Are you satisfied with your cooperation so far? Is there anything you would like them to do more about you?
Geoff: We sent our music from “Fireborn” to a number of smaller indie labels to see if any might find it interesting to release our music. If I recall correctly, three labels were interested but Killer Metal Records seemed to be the best fit, so we went with them. I think we are satisfied with the cooperation in that we didn’t have any unrealistic illusions that a small indie label would be, for example, physically putting our album in every record store in the world and getting us the opening slot for some huge band. They did as expected, released our album, got the word out a bit more than we would on our own, and they are easy to reach and are responsive, etc. Of course, there is more that a label can do but we are realistic - it’s not like that many indie metal bands are selling thousands and thousands of albums and making money for a label to be able to afford to give it the PR that we’d like. So in all fairness, we are happy.
7. “Fireborn” is a hard to find album, so is there any consideration to release it again through a label?
Geoff: It’s hard to find physical copies of “Fireborn”… but the band has a few left. It’s easy to find digitally on Spotify, CD baby, amazon, iTunes, etc. If the demand for “Fireborn” increases, I’m sure that we could manufacture more copies, or that our label might like to.
8. From the lyrics of your new album and one clip from your previous release that I have checked out I see that you are a band that likes to talk about political and social issues. What kinds of stories inspire you to write music about? Do you think that metal bands need to be more thought provoking and not be afraid to speak about what they believe, because we see lately many bands considering what to write about because they are afraid it might affect their sales?
Geoff: Lyrically we are not a political band. Personally, I hate politics. It often seems like all that does is divide people and make us hate each other more. The lyrical topics that inspire me are more historical, specifically stuff that has happened to our forefathers from Newfoundland. Amanda is however the primary lyricist, and she tends to write more from a personal experience standpoint. If I could speak for her but for a moment, she isn’t writing lyrics thinking about how it affects sales, she is writing things that are deeply important to her and she has a lot to say and is very open and up front about the struggles of life. If an artist has nothing to say through their lyrics, and never engage people or make them think about things like themselves, the planet, history, other people, etc, then why are they even bothering? Even when writing what might appear to be pure fantasy, or just a telling of an historical event, many bands (ourselves included) are often employing metaphors and allegory.
9. One other thing interesting about CATEGORY VI is that you are the only traditional metal band in your town and also female fronted. How does that feel?
Geoff: Since our bio was updated there is at least one other band here playing a traditional style of metal, that being the band called EMBLEM whom we have played with and consider friends. We are still, as far as I know, the only female fronted metal band in the city. And yes, “female-fronted” is not a style of metal, nor should it be, but females are under-represented in metal and it’s sad because they have as much to offer as any person.
10. Let’s talk about the history of the band. When did you decide to form CATEGORY VI and what motivated you to do so? What kinds of obstacles did you have to surpass in order to make your dream come true?
Geoff: I started the band in late 2009 with another guitar player who was a big part of the formative year of the band but moved away for work. The motivation was the same as it’s been for me since the day I got into metal - I want to play it and write my own songs, not just listen to music. I don’t separate the two, it’s a big part of who I am. The obstacles to overcome are common to many bands - but are perhaps amplified when you are from a small and relatively isolated place with not a lot of people. It’s tough to find people who are not just good and creative players, but who make the band as much of a priority as you do. It’s not my or anyone’s ONLY priority in life of course, but it has to rank very high on our individual lists and sometimes sacrifices have to be made for the greater good so that the band continues.
11. Which are the bands and artists you think that have influenced you and in which way?
Geoff: Each of us have our own influences. Many we share and some we do not. We all have some love for bands like IRON MAIDEN, JUDAS PRIEST, METALLICA, MEGADETH, ANTHRAX, BLACK SABBATH, etc. For me, some of the things that have influenced me besides those would be: SLAYER, HELLOWEEN, GAMMA RAY, MOTLEY CRUE, DOKKEN, KING DIAMOND and MERCYFUL FATE, etc. I listen to a wide variety of metal - from glam metal to black metal and everything I listen to can be in some ways an influence. Even some newer bands also make an influence, but their impact would not be as apparent.
12. How did you come up with the band name and what does it mean to you?
Geoff: We were spitballing ideas for a band name and as we metalheads often do, we take things to extremes. On the Saffir–Simpson hurricane wind scale, the ratings for a hurricane go from one to the highest classification of 5. We thought “what would come after?” and “what would a Category 6 be like?” - I envisioned a hurricane made of fire, that could sweep across the planet leaving nothing behind. haha. That is how we came up with the idea for the “Firecane” image used for our first demo cover. Again, fire was important for the naming of the debut. So with the name CATEGORY VI, it represents that level of awesome/ridiculous intensity. And it represents fire and rebirth, common themes in our lyrics as well.
13. Can there be democracy in the band or must the decisions ultimately be taken by one person? How do you work as a band when you compose songs?
Geoff: Yes there can be, and as we’re all on the same page, it works as such in CatVI. For songs, we all have to like what we’re playing, so some ideas can be tossed aside or mutated into something that is more palatable for us all. The current dynamic for writing songs for what will be album #3 is we all get together and explore ideas/riffs and jam them out, stringing them together and building the structure collectively. Sometimes it happens quickly and just works, sometimes we shelf it and return to it when what feels right.
14. Are you preparing any new material? When will it be ready?
Geoff: Yes, we are working on new material. We have appx 3 new songs that are in development. Between myself and Keith we have 100’s of riffs and ideas and Amanda has plenty of lyrics. It’s a process that takes time as you cannot rush art, even when the players involved are highly creative. So I can’t give an exact date as to when it might be ready. The “when” of course also depends on our label and their timeframes. Speaking for myself, I would like to see us with a new album out sometimes in 2019.
15. If I ask you to use one phrase to describe the story of the band so far, what would it be?
Geoff: I would use one word: “Fun” - that’s why I do this. Playing guitar and writing music is an escape and is something I will continue doing. The road may be bumpy at times, but with two albums now released that we are happy with, the struggles along the way are trivial when compared to the joy we get from writing, recording, and playing our own music live.
16. Thanks for your time answering my questions. Please close the interview in your own way….
Geoff: Thanks for taking the time to ask about our band. It’s hard to get noticed in a scene that is so full of amazing bands so thank you for taking notice in us and our music. We hope you and your readers will check us out and support underground bands like ours.