Hellevate is a Melodic Thrash Metal band out of Kansas City, Missouri. I had the pleasure of interviewing Josh “The Boss” Cole, their guitarist. Let’s Begin.
SRR: For those who don’t know much about you, how would you describe your music and sound?
JC: We’re melodic thrash metal. It’s a bit hard to pin us down, but I think the best way to sum it up is thrash metal mixed with USPM (United States Power Metal). We really enjoy our clean vocals and epic riffs, but we also like being very aggressive and fast.
SRR: Please tell us about your latest album? How did you come up with your band name, that must be an interesting story?
JC: “Weapons Against Their Will” is our most recent album. It was a labor of love, writing started right at the beginning of 2014 and we released it in 2016. It was a big learning experience. There’s a lot of things in terms of the recording process we’d do differently if we could go back and do so. That being said, it’s a great album that we still love to this day. It’s got all sorts of killer speed/power/thrash on it. Hellevate is a roundabout pun, elevating Hell. Raising Hell. We’re Hellraisers, basically.
SRR: What is your live show like?
JC: We’re always looking to improve our live show. We want our shows to be as tight and energetic as possible. People remember bands that go on, give it their all, and quite clearly put a lot of effort in. I see bands that show up, put their gear on stage, stand there, play their songs, and move on. Forget that, you know? Make use of your stage, interact dynamically with the music, the audience, and each other. We’re always looking for more stage moves, more moments for engagement, and things to do. We want people to experience something much better than they come in expecting.
SRR: How do you promote your shows or do you rely on the venue?
JC: Both. We want the venue to put in effort, it shows that they actually care about their shows and want us to succeed. But we obviously make a large effort to promote our shows to our audience. A successful show is one that brings together a band’s existing fanbase and a new set that is experiencing them for the first time. We do a lot with Facebook ads, which is something we intend to get more into in the coming months and years as we start really gearing up again. Bands sleep on the power and control those ads give you to branch out and reach both new and old fans.
SRR: What do you think of internet radio and podcasts? Is that the new way to get your name out there?
JC: It’s really cool! I really like all of the outlets full of people passionate about music, bands, and want to get the word out about things they like. It’s a really cool and new way to get yourself out there. Interacting with people who make podcasts, radio shows, blogs, etc. is always great because they’re always so passionate.
SRR: How do you feel about the state of the music business today?
JC: Its pretty rough. The internet took the business model that was refined so thoroughly throughout the entirety of the 20th century and broke it in half. We exist in an uncertain time as we all attempt to understand how to operate in the new normal. Everyone will talk about how terribly hard it is to make any money as a musician, and they’re totally right. It sucks, haha!
SRR: Do you think there is a way to fix it, ideas to make it better?
JC: To be honest, I don’t, really. I’m sure there is a way, but I’m not sure of it quite yet. We’re all slowly figuring out how to open more revenue streams to be able to focus on music. Things like giving lessons, endorsing products, and even some people going out and starting lines of gear! It’s wild and awesome, but obviously that can’t work on a grand scale. The issue is just that we have to find a way to inject value back into music, and I’m not sure how we’ll do so quite yet.
SRR: Do you think streaming service is the way to go for your music?
JC: For us, yes. I can see the argument for larger artists going against it given how little money it generates. But for us, it’s only a net positive, because people listening to it on streaming probably wouldn’t have heard it before, or it provides a much easier medium to listen so they’ll do it more. The amount we’d make off of it is better than nothing.
SRR: What’s your take on the recent commentary that rock is dead?
JC: I mean, yeah, rock is no longer in vogue, but it’s still just fine. Rock bands pop up in the mainstream, festivals all around the world demonstrate there’s still interest in the style, etc. It’s overblown whining by people who want things to be like the old days, or by people who want to be apart of a “cool” minority. I’m sure there will be a point where more guitar driven music will come back into popularity, before going out of style, as the cycle goes. Even then, the internet has changed the game, and made genres more insular. Does it really matter that rock isn’t big in the mainstream when rock fans can find all the rock they could possibly want, and interact with thousands of other fans?
SRR: It seems bands seem to do better in other countries. As an example, many bands who play clubs in the States actually play big venues overseas. Why do you think that is?
JC: Demographics, really, for whatever reason. It seems on average that metal does better in Europe, for example. I couldn’t really explain in any more depth than that, it seems like it’d be a good topic for a documentary or research project! It carries over a bit to the States too. There are some cities that are very, very kind to us, and some that we have to push uphill to get any sort of positive recognition.
SRR: Do you think bands should let their political views dictate who should be a fan of their music? Wes Borland of Limp Bizkit, recently stated that if you voted for Trump, “I want you out of my life”. As well as others. Do you think that’s fair to the fans?
JC: Absolutely not! We have our opinions, and we’re not afraid to express them in our music (but leave them out of interviews, please). If you take enough of an issue with it to not want to listen to us, then please do so. But otherwise, whoever wants to listen to us is encouraged to do so! I listen to a lot of music that espouses viewpoints and opinions that I disagree with, but I still listen because the music is good. I obviously have a limit, but it’s much deeper than who one votes for or whatever.
SRR: What would advice would you give to a band who is starting out today?
JC: Don’t! Just kidding. Seriously, focus on your sound, get tight, get rehearsed, and focus on your live show. First impressions mean a lot, and you want it to be good! Get a demo made that has at least solid production quality. I hate, HATE checking out a cool new band, getting their demo, and it sounding atrocious. Bad production can suck all the energy out of your music, and all the enthusiasm for your band out of the listener. Play a lot in your area, build a name until you can do fairly well on your own, then start branching out. Don’t get ahead of yourself!
SRR: What is on your band bucket list?
JC: Manowar! Also Blind Guardian, that’d be awesome. I would have said Exodus, but we’ve been able to open for them several times, and it’s always been a pleasure.
SRR: Lastly, can you please tell us about upcoming band plans regarding live shows, tours and any new music being written and recorded.
JC: We’ve had to take an extended break from shows, which trust me, fucking sucks. It hurts us even more than it hurts the fans. We’re just about ready to start gearing up again, I think, and it’s really exciting. Can’t say too much on that front just yet. We’re pretty far into writing a new album, I think it’ll be out next year. We’re looking into putting something out this year as well. We’re really hoping we can make the next two years super productive to make up for the past two-ish years.
Below is a track from their current album “Weapons Against Their Will”. You can check out Memories Of Battle And Death.