ELANTRIS - Spreading Their Wings

September 12, 2017, a year ago

Nick Balazs

feature heavy metal elantris

ELANTRIS - Spreading Their Wings

When an opportunity arises, you must take advantage of it. That’s the case for Ohio symphonic metal band Elantris. Yes you read that right, a symphonic metal band from the Midwest United States, not Europe. When the big boys come from overseas, (Sonata Arctica, Delain, etc.) Elantris is usually the local act to warm-up the crowd when they stop in Cleveland, but they’ve been thrust into their first major tour with the chance to showcase their talent to the rest of the country opening up for Epica, Lacuna Coil, and Insomnium. The tour opened up August 31st in Boston and runs through September 29th, finishing up in New York City.

“We had something small in the works with Xandria last year, but that kind of fell through”, reveals keyboardist Mark Liber. 

So how did this opportunity come about? Partnering up with promotion agency Metal Music Bookings played a huge role.

Liber explains, “It wasn’t too long before they (Metal Music Bookings) found out about the tour. They already had a pretty good relationship with Epica’s management so they heard about this tour and obviously they felt like the match was pretty good as far as the genre and everything went. As I understand it, Epica had a choice of a few different bands and we were fortunate enough that they chose us.”

That must be an incredible feeling to be personally chosen by Epica to support. 

“When he heard that’s how it went down; it’s not like we were forced upon them, they actually chose us, I mean they’re actually sitting there listening to our music saying ‘Ok, this is somebody we feel comfortable enough and we like enough to put in front our fans’; that’s what they’re doing, they’re introducing us to all their fans basically, so they’re kind of putting their foot forward for us and that’s a dream come true right there”, says an enthused Liber. 

Now for a young band trying to make a mark on the scene, I asked Mark how he would describe themselves to new listeners.

“I’d say we fit comfortably in the symphonic metal genre”, he answers. “We do get influences from bands like Epica, Kamelot, and the like, but we bring something different. We do it rawer than they do. It comes down to how we write our music, we just go with the flow, go with what feels right, and we always thought if we try to do what Epica does, we’re not going to do it as well as them, so let’s just do our own thing. I think we fit in there, but at the same time, you’re not going to hear the same type of song Epica, Kamelot, Insomnium, and Lacuna Coil; any of those bands would do. We always wanted to be somewhat unique.”

As for the live aspect of the band, what can fans expect and there must be some difficulty maneuvering six people on a stage.

“We never had an issue with it and we’ve had to deal with some very tight places”, Liber says regarding the six person lineup. “If we’re the opening act, we just kind of get jammed wherever. As the keyboard player, I get setup basically last and I end up on the side of the stage with my foot down the stairs or the ramp going off the stage half the time. I guess the biggest issue is if our two singers run into each other. Tom (Ullom) is quite a bit bigger than Lindsay (Ketchum). It happened one time in practice and Tom bumped into her and she went down hard! She kept singing though.”

Mark then reveals what fans can expect to see saying, “Every night it’s going to be like the first time we’ve ever played these songs because these places we’re going to, we’ve never been before and it’s going to be exciting for us. Every time we go to the set, we’ll change what city we’re in. We’re going to go out there and give it our all every single night.”  

Before Elantris was known as Elantris, they actually went by the name of Blackthorne. A change was needed because of other bands already using the name and as Mark revealed, there’s an old Nintendo video game of the same name and is the first to come up on a Google search. “That’s not very good marketing,” he says with a laugh. 

And how did they land on Elantris? Mark explains, “I’m a big fan of the author Brandon Sanderson and one his books was titled Elantris and long time ago when I read it, I thought ‘well, that’s kind of a cool name,’ and I liked that and it popped into my head when we were finding something new.”

Elantris’ debut, My Sacrifice, was released independently in November 2016. According to Mark, there are no major plans to sign with a label and release it physically. “I would say it’s not necessarily a huge focus of ours. If something were to come about, great, but if not, I think it goes back to how many other avenues there are to get music out nowadays. I don’t think it’s necessary, but it certainly would be helpful”, Liber remarks.  

And as a keyboardist, Liber points to Dream Theater’s Jordan Rudess as his main influence. 

“He’s just so good!” reveals Liber. “He can do anything with a keyboard. I just listen to everything he does and I certainly won’t be able to match what he does. He’s a wizard, he’s crazy. I just love everything he does. I’ve seen him a couple times live and it blows you away every time you see it.”

Certainly not a bad musician to look up to! As for plans after the tour wraps up, the band is looking to release new music with a couple new songs already finished up.

“We have two of those (songs) already done”, says Liber. “Another one is almost complete and couple more are in the works so we’re not far from getting something together. Hopefully it happens organically, rather than relatively quickly, but we’re looking to release something else after we’re finished with the tour.”

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