Since 2007 Argus didn’t make their listeners wait for too long before giving them some new music however four years passed since their brilliant third full-length ‘Beyond the Martyrs’. This year marks their 10th anniversary and the band finally gave us another great album. You know that Metal Invader doesn’t lose such opportunities, so we grabbed Butch Balich on route to Germany and talked to him about this new effort.
So, Butch tell us more about the creation of ‘From Fields of Fire’, about the process of songwriting, the time inside the studio, the equipment you used to record the songs. Where did you record this time? Was it again at Soundscape Studios?
Well, the writing started in earnest once we returned from tour in Spring 2016. We had two songs by then and a lot of ideas but without any real cohesion to them. Once we started focusing on the writing it moved pretty quickly. Dave had a lot of material. Jay had a few really great songs. And we had a few ideas of things we had not really tried before in Argus. Once the music was done we started recording and at that point I did the majority of my lyric and melody writing. We did drum tracks at Tonic Studios ( Soundscape with a name change) and some guitars and the mix. The rest was at Dave’s house or mine. Very smooth process and very productive. I think once we started layering vocals and leads we knew we had a special album on our hands.
Does ‘From Fields of Fire’ have some concept that ties together all songs included in the album?
No but the lyrical ideas came from a time of hurt and introspection… This is the first time I haven’t gone to outside inspiration like literature or history for at least some of the words. It’s a very moody, somber record.
Argus has two new members since 2015. How Justin and Dave have affected the band?
They brought a renewed sense of energy, great stage presence, new ideas and a sense of calm in the band at a time when the band was likely to fly apart if we kept going with the old lineup. Dave wrote the majority of the album’s music and he brought some twists to our sound while still writing music that is full-on Argus. This is the best lineup this band has had to date.
I feel you sound less doomy and decided for a more straightforward heavy metal songwriting. How conscious is this approaching as it is the second album in a row that you do that?
It really isn’t a conscious decision at all. It’s just how the songs turned out. When we write we don’t put any parameters on ourselves other than to write good songs. Next time we could end up with material that focuses more on doom. But we never know what we have until the album is done. While I agree “From Fields of Fire” has less pure doom elements I still find it to be a very moody, emotional album.
This year marks the 10th anniversary of your first demo.
Ten years ago we released our first demo and it’s an amazing thing to think we are still doing this and that the band is still growing musically and in terms of our fanbase. We are very fortunate and feel very grateful to the people that have stood by us, helped us and promoted us over the years. And I don’t see an end in sight.
Where do you draw influence Musically from?
Iron Maiden, Thin Lizzy, Black Sabbath, Slough Feg…..are some of the bands that we have in common. Combine that with the many influences we have as individuals and you get Argus.
Lyrically speaking which are your main inspiration come from? Do you love writing about fantasy lyrics or historical topics?
I mainly draw from personal experience but I do find it interesting to delve into history or literature as well. I’m not much of a storyteller so I don’t ever attempt crafting my own stories but there is a lot in our present and past…, all around us to be inspired by.
Have you ever thought on writing political themes on your songs?
Never. We are a diverse band and I doubt you’d find us united politically often. Besides that I find overtly political music to be a bit tedious and just not to my liking.
How was the monstrous form of giant Argus created? As a Greek, I can’t see any connection to the ancient Greek myth as the figure that is represented on your albums’ artworks is more a Lovecraftian monster to me I guess. How important is the aesthetic and the artwork to you?
That’s a Lovecraftian being – it wasn’t meant to be Argus of Greek Myth. It took the place of a warrior that adorned the original sketch of the album cover. We had Brad change it and told him a beastie reminiscent of Lovecraft would be cool. Brad actually has a whole story and history around this character.
Are you guys still involved in other bands or are you mainly focusing on Argus right now?
Argus is the focus but Kevin plays in a cover bands called Chuck Justice & the Junkyard Lawyers. I’ve got Molasses Barge and Arduini/Balich releases this year. Justin is in numerous bands. But Argus is the main focus always.
Any plans on touring on Europe?
At the airport now waiting to board a flight to Germany for a 9 date tour with High Spirits.
Any chances for a Greek show?
We would love to. Would love to play Up The Hammers… we hear how great the Greek metal fans are and we really do want to visit.
The closing is yours. Ι thank you for this interview and hope to see you soon in Greece.
Thanks so much for your time and allowing me to talk to you and the awesome folks who read Metal Invader ! \m/