Widow is a band from Raleigh / North Carolina and with their latest album Life's Blood is in stores for awhile. Time to talk to guitarist Chris Bennett to learn more about Widow!
Please tell us a bit about how Widow got started? Did you know each other? Or did an ad hooked you up?
Johnny and I have played together since '97. We met and ended up starting a melodic death metal band called Sorrow Bequest. But we got our start listening to traditional metal, and in 2000 we wanted to play it! We really started Widow just as a fun band to play around our hometown. The funny thing is Sorrow Bequest was considered our 'serious' band, and Widow was just a fun kinda thing. It really was, and still is, fun but suddenly we had a lot of interest in the band. It's hard for me to believe we are 4 albums and countless shows into Widow's career! It means a lot to me, the band is my life! I guess when you work so hard on something for so long, you can really appreciate what you have!
Why the name Widow? There are quite a few bands named Widow...
We are the true Widow! Haha! You know, it goes back to what I was saying about the fun of this. We wanted a name like Slayer, one word that sounded like something a metal fan would have heard of hahahaha! It seems like over the last decade every band has a five word name! We did not want that! Our original drummer said that we should just call the band Widow. We thought it was a great idea! At the time I never thought we would release an album or do anything other than just jam together! But I love it, I think it fits with what we're doing! Hey, there was even a band called Iron Maiden before the one we know today!
In 2001 you released a demo, shopping for a deal?
We did the demo really so we could get more shows around our area. Then a friend of mine, Matt from Tribunal Records, talked to me about us releasing an album on his label. I had know him a while, and he has a really great label and he lived pretty close to us. We were all for it, and that's what really got the ball rolling for Widow! Midnight Strikes was born!!!!!
In 2003 Midnight Strikes your debut was released, how was it to see your album in a record store?
It was honestly the greatest thing to happen to me at the time! I went to a King Diamond show in Virginia, and I walked into the Tower Records store and saw our album. To be away from home and see that for the first time was amazing! I will never forget it! Being such a big metalhead and total collector of records, CDs, magazines, shirts and such, it was a real honor to finally have my songs out for people to buy!
The next albums came in 2005 and 2007, but it took 4 years til Life's Blood got in stores. What slowed you down?
I was really wanting to just make an all around better album, way better than the other ones. All our albums are special to me, that was where our heads were at that time. But I knew if we wanted to advance the band, we needed to make a very special album. It took a while but I really feel we have made the best Widow album yet!
Have the songs for Life's Blood been written just recently? Or is it a collection of songs you wrote through the years?
I started some ideas around the time Nightlife was released in 2007. Yeah, it was over the next few years after that one. It's funny when you are writing, because the process can take a while from writing a song, to finishing a song. Then by the time you record it and an album ends up released, you usually end up hating the songs. Haha! Life's Blood must be our best album because I don't hate it yet!
Musically you combine elements of traditional heavy metal, hard rock with a dash of power metal with dark lyrics. What make this mix so interesting for you?
That really comes from listening to a lot of different stuff. I don't really like to follow the 'rules' of metal or whatever. I am a diehard metalhead, but you've got to show your own personality to stand out in this genre or any other for that matter. Being unique is very important. I mean, you can tell a lot of my influences, but then I know I have some that might surprise you! But I believe in being honest with myself and the fans! That's the only way your real personality will come out, and that's what people can really relate to! No posers please!!!!!
What inspires you lyrically? And musically?
My lyrics were really inspired by a lot of my thoughts and life experience. I really got a lot more personal on this album, and initially I was a bit nervous about that. You know, I wondered if I should expose all this in Widow. We have basically been know as a party band. And I mean we still have some of that in the lyrics too! But there was more I wanted to say, more to all of us then just that! I'm so glad I did, it really felt great to get all that out! Musically I love lots of stuff, from 70s and 80s metal to thrash, punk, death and black metal! I love bands like Ozzy, Dio, Metallica, Maiden and Priest. Plus I adore Thin Lizzy, Skynyrd, Rainbow and also stuff like Celtic Frost, Venom, Slayer and Motörhead. I also dig punk stuff like The Ramones, The Misfits and Black Flag! I love a great song, that is what really stands the test of time!
How long did the recordings for Life's Blood took? And where did you record it?
We recorded at Johnny (bass players) house. He has recorded all of our albums. It took us about a year to finish the recording. We really took our time to make sure this came out much better than the previous recordings. Johnny has learned a lot about recording, and it shows this time around. He went to school for it. It really helps that he has his own home studio. I don't know what we'd do if he didn't. We would have paid someone a lot of money for one thing hahaha!
Who had the idea for the cover artwork? And who realized it?
The cover art was done by a German artist named Timo Wuerz. This guy is amazing! We came up with the cover concept, of a girl we call Lady Twilight, which is the first track on the album. He really brought it to life. It so much better then I had ever imagined it to be! I'm very pleased, and I definitely want to work with Timo some more! I encourage everybody to check out his work! He likes a lot of the same music as us, and he really gets what Widow is about! That's important, and I think the fact he's into it that helped us get an awesome product!
Have you ever considered doing a conceptual album? Or do a sound track?
Well not exactly. We've had albums that kind of had a theme, but never really a concept album. Midnight Strikes was basically about horror stories that we created. On Fire followed a similar path, but we had a female singer who presented a woman's point of view to the horror stories. Nightlife is really about girls and partying! Life's Blood is really just representative of who we are as people. So I guess you could say it's the sound track to our lives. Haha! I would love to do a song for a movie soundtrack. Especially a horror movie, because I am a HUGE horror fan! Especially the classics like The Omen, Phantasm, The Exorcist and Halloween! I can't get enough!
Which song(s) would you like to do a video clip for? And why this one?
We are planning to make a video very soon for the song Take Hold Of The Night! That song is about taking control of your own destiny, and making your life what you want it to be! We feel we can make a cool video around that! We've got some plans, so everyone stay tuned! The video will be coming at ya really soon!
You played at Swordbrothers Festival, please tell us about that experience!
That experience was incredible! It was my first time ever playing in Europe, and I loved it so much! It was amazing to see so many true metalheads everywhere! People were really cool, and it was awesome to meet our fans who had followed the band since we started. It meant the world to me! We are planning to return to Europe sometime soon! I can't wait to do it, I didn't want to leave!
Have you considered to do a kind of vlog about that trip?
We've got a lot of pics up on our Facebook page, and I think we should document our tour experiences over the last couple of years soon! If things go according to our plan, our new video will give you a look at a lot of Widow experiences over the years! We've got some big plans coming up for this album, I'm looking forward to it! The last couple of years have been very good to us, and we have a lot more to come!
Btw, how do you feel about social media? Love or hate it?
Oh, I think it's great! It's nice to be able to communicate with people all over the world so quickly these days. I used to tape trade in the underground many years ago. The funny thing is it was basically the same as the internet, just a lot slower! It was funny because I was getting letters in high school to my parents house from all over the world, they didn't know what was going on! I think they thought I was a drug dealer or something hahaha!
It seems there exists an abandoned band website www.burning-village.com . And now you use Reverbnation, Facebook and MySpace. Why don't you keep the website alive? It doesn't mean you have to give up the other virtual homes...
We've had some issues with the site, but I agree we should do that. We are working on getting that done. But for now there are so many opportunities in the social media department, like Last FM, Reverbnation, Facebook and Myspace. We communicate with our fans a lot, and I think it's cool that you can do that! Like I was saying about the underground, it always makes me laugh to hear people talk about how amazing it is to have friends all over thanks to Facebook, underground metallers have been doing this for years and years!
Playing live... Can you frequently play in your area? Does Raleigh resp North Carolina has a vivid live scene?
Oh yeah, Raleigh has had a great scene for years. Lots of people come to metal shows and are really supportive. We have been around a long time, and I think we are lucky because people still support Widow very much in Raleigh. Having toured all around the United States, it does make me appreciate how cool it is in Raleigh. We love North Carolina and are very proud of where we are from. We even put downtown Raleigh on the cover of Nightlife! I guess we're are like the Norwegian black metallers, only we don't stand in the snow. It's hot here, we have to wear shorts! We are True North Carolina Metal!
Doug Aldrich is from the City of Oaks - like you. Is / was he an inspiration for you?
He's from where? I don't think he's from North Carolina is he? Anyway, yes I love Doug Aldrich's playing! I've see him live with Whitesnake twice, he is amazing! He plays with true class and definitely is a modern day guitar hero! He rips!
Any chance to see you on tour?
We are planning to tour with Life's Blood, so I can say that you will see us on tour! We will play any and everywhere we can. We won't stop until we play everywhere! We will see you all at the bar!
What are your plans for 2012?
Touring as much as we possibly can! We've been in this long enough that i can safely say we will never stop! If you want to see Widow we're gonna make sure that you can!!!! We'll be here as long as people want to see us! I want to thank the Widow fans around the world for all your support of the years! You keep us going man! We'll never stop because we love it too much! Thanks alot Claudia, we'll see you in the night....
Let's see, what future holds for Widow in 2012... Hopefully they can bring all their plans to life.