!!!POWERFUL SPEED METAL FROM THE USA!!!
Welcome to the FILTHY DOGS OF METAL Webzine.
Tell us a few things about TRAITOR (Members, Starting Year etc).
Joe: We started back in 2012, after Hessian (Brian’s old band) broke up, he contacted Greg about starting a band that was more traditional sounding, they found me through a mutual friend of Greg’s and we had our first jam around August that year I think. I forgot my hi-hat stand too so it was a mess but we connected right off the bat. We played with our original bassist Dylan Zdanavage for a few years and recorded our Delaware Destroyer’s demo with him but mutually parted ways around 2014 and Tony joined the band. We’ve rolled with the current lineup ever since: Greg Lundmark on lead vocals and guitar, Brian Mikus on rhythm guitar and back up vocals, Tony Didonato on bass, and me (Joe Rado) on drums, back up/lead vocals (on a few songs).
Greg: Brian and I had known each other for a few years by the time we decided to be in a group together. He had done sound for my first band before. Both of our bands were breaking up around the same time, so it sparked a conversation about being in a group together, and everything else fell into place like Joe said.
Brian: I Think Greg and Joe have covered it pretty well, but basically after my previous band Hessian crashed and burned I gave it two months and then started something new. I used to run sound for Greg’s previous band and that’s how I learned he could sing and I already knew he was kick ass on guitar from jamming with him when I worked at guitar center. I told him I wanted to start a band with him and asked if he knew a drummer. Ideally one who was not already in multiple bands. That’s where Joe came into the picture. Mostly when we started I wanted the band to be more traditional speed and thrash metal as opposed to my previous band. I also wanted us to be like Kiss in that every member sings lead vocals, sadly that never quite worked out but Joe & Greg do a great job.
You have recently released your album ''Last Hope For The Wretched''. What is the feedback from your audience as well as from the press?
Joe: We just released it this past weekend (January 20th) so there has not been a lot of time for press reviews yet but the early returns are great. We are getting some feedback on social media that people are loving the sound and orders are starting to come in. I haven’t heard a bad thing about it from anyone who’s heard it.
Greg: Not a lot of press have responded to the release as of yet, but our social media platforms have been blowing up from talk of our fans and supporters. Everyone seems to be digging it.
Brian: It’s only been out for a week digitally but I’m receiving good feedback so far. I’m waiting for everyone to start planning us on Metal Archives.
(Update: While compiling answers for this interview, we got an incredible review in Sentinel Daily!)
Label or DIY and why?
Joe: We’ve done both, and I have to lean label for releases. They really help you get your work out there, labels have a ton of connections and you are both working toward a mutual goal of getting the material out for people to listen to. With DIY you really have to bust your ass to get your stuff heard and reviewed. It’s just easier to get done with a label helping.
Greg: DIY is nice because you own everything, but doing a release with a label is great for building connections and keeping costs low.
Tony: Label and diy both have their place but I’ll always have love for DIY.
Brian: Label definitely. I work in the music business but totally not in that end. I don’t think we would have the ability to release this on Vinyl otherwise. Also the label is making a big push with media and Decibel Magazine. They are also helping with the digital hosting which again is something I am not good with.
Do you prefer Vinyl, Tape, CD or Digital Format and why is that?
Joe: I was always a guy that bought a shirt and a CD if your band really blew me away. I have mostly digital now, but nothing beats tangibility. I love having a CD insert to look through, lyrics to read, or the sound of the needle hitting that record. I am not big on tapes, I grew up in the 90s so I get the nostalgia but they are not very durable. I had a 3 pack of RUSH hits on tape get ruined just sitting in my car door once.
Tony: I’m more of a vinyl guy I guess but I’ll take whatever format is available.
Greg: I feel like we live in an era where each platform has its own market. However, for sound quality I choose vinyl, for convenience I choose digital. I think you should have a physical piece of art from every band you love though, so vinyl’s and CDs are really perfect for that. Tapes are really inexpensive for bands to make, and therefore inexpensive for people to buy. I can’t knock that about them. They’re also great if you have a Fierro.
Brian: Personally for me Vinyl and digital. I think CD’s are very passé in 2022. However, my van for some reason still has a CD player and it’s only a 2017. But having the full size record and listening to it start to finish the way the artist intended is my preferred. Tapes are cool too but the fidelity lacks some times.
Your music style is Heavy/Speed Metal. Which are your main influences (Favourite Artists / Bands etc.)
Joe: Anyone who knows me already knows the first answer to this, but definitely GWAR. Costumes and mythos aside, they’ve always stunned me with their creativity and how seamlessly they write songs in multiple styles. Especially the early stuff like Scumdogs, This Toilet Earth, and Ragnarok. I’ve always been inspired by how they manage to retain their signature sound while being so experimental with their songs. I think we have a bit of the same formula as well. Listen to a song like Drifter and then Raise the Black on our new album, totally different styles but they still retain the elements of our sound. Otherwise, as far as metal bands, probably Judas Priest, Slayer (Lombardo the GOAT, I refuse to hear otherwise) Twisted Sister and The Sword.
Brian: English Dogs, Exciter, Slayer, Satan, Mercyful Fate, Saxon, GG Allin, Rainbow, UFO just to name a few. Really I’m just a big fan of metal in its heyday from 77’-86.
Greg: I have many musical influences that have changed my writing and playing over the years. I think the band harnesses a sound that is akin to traditional speed and thrash groups like Anthrax, Megadeth, etc., but also includes elements of British heavy metal groups like Judas Priest or Iron Maiden. At times we portray the darkness of groups like Mercyful Fate or Slayer with our music as well. I think that’s what makes our sound interesting.
Tony: Kreator, Cryptic Slaughter, Wehrmacht, DRI.
Which things, do you think, a Band should sacrifice in order to succeed? Have you ever sacrificed anything in your life for a better future of your Band?
Greg: Being in a band is a sacrifice. It’s a sacrifice of your time, most importantly. It would be accurate for me to say that I would be in a different place in my life if it weren’t for our group. That doesn’t mean my life would be better without it. I don’t regret much about the time I’ve spent in this band. Any regrets I have would stem from my own shortcomings. My goal is to make music my career or die trying. Either way I live a life of music.
Brian: Making it in this business basically doesn’t exist if you are a band like this. It’s pretty much a passion. But if you really want to go for the throat it’s time, money, job, relationships, and family. I used to put this above all in my life in regards to priority. In my old age I Don’t quite see it the same. But definitely on a basic level a vehicle. I drive a creepy white van and have for a number of years. It helps us get from gig to gig though in a much more feasible way. Definitely have pissed off some previous girlfriends by putting this band ahead of them. Needless to say they are no longer in the picture.
Joe: Definitely money and sleep! You have to be willing to invest the late nights and expenses to get yourself off the ground. A lot goes into merch and studio time, a lot of practicing. I would also say egos, to get philosophical. You have to be honest about your goals and desires, because at the end of the day one person does not make all the decisions, so check your egos at the door and be willing to talk and work out any disputes.
Describe your ideal live show as a performance Band. Have you already experienced that?
Brian: Playing a proper show in a large venue with a good crowd. This would involve us using our own gear and specifically full stacks. As well as having our own sound engineer mix the show. Pyrotechnics and a cool light show would be nice as well but that hasn’t happened yet.
Joe: Not a weeknight, but seriously some of the best shows we have played have been down in the DC/Silver Spring area. Fans down there always turn out and turn up, they want pictures with you, signatures on merch, the works. We played this bar down there with Witchtrap, Guido’s I think it was called. Someone literally got thrown through our merch table, it was nuts. House shows are also almost always a blast. Anytime you can play to a crowd that has some personality, there is palpable energy and its very rewarding for everyone.
Greg: House party shows and crazy fans are the most fun. Having the experience of playing a professional venue with proper sound and stage lights is a royal treat. Making a real connection with your audience through our art is the real goal for me. I’m proud to say we’ve experienced all three of those scenarios.
Which attributes, do you think, that a new Heavy Metal Band should have in order to gain identity and be unique?
Greg: Don’t be afraid to step outside your comfort zone and do something different with your music, and even more importantly, let your band mates have input. You have multiple people with various influences who all hear things differently. That’s what will make your band unique.
Joe: I think just being able to stay true to your intentions as a band is big. There are a ton of bands out there, obviously, but if you go out of your way to copy a specific genre line by line, you aren’t really offering anything different. So yeah, don’t be afraid to play what you want to play and experiment a little.
Brian: I’m a hater and I think at this point anything that is being done in metal that is “unique” is awful. At this point I just like bands that take up the challenges to write music in standard a440 tuning or half step down for guitars. It’s all been done so many times and so well. I’m more of a let’s execute a style we all love and put our own stamp on it as opposed to being totally unique. Truthfully if you want to go the uncharted route up tuning and capo metal is the new future.
Do you believe that Digital Platforms help the new Heavy Metal Bands? Which, do you think, is the ideal way for a Band to promote its work?
Greg: You have to find the best way to get your music heard. Streaming platforms are great for getting your music heard because they’re so accessible, but streaming doesn’t pay much. However, streams, likes, subscribers, and all of that online stuff are figures that labels and talent scouts use to determine if they are going to invest in your group. It’s a necessary part of the music business today.
Joe: I do. I can’t imagine trying to promote the way they used to. Social media helps a lot, but sites like Facebook also throttle posts unless you pay them, so sometimes it is worth it for big announcements. Instagram is better because you are using visuals and it’s a much simpler way to stay in touch with your audience. Bandcamp is good too because you can put everything in one spot, you get insight into your plays and audience demographics.
Tony: Fuck Spotify.
Brian: Digital platforms definitely help you reach the masses and allow you to connect with fans and audiences you would unlikely reach otherwise. Locally you need to hunt for west Philly scene points to be popular and that’s just not our game. I’m really out of touch with the whole computers technology game so I can’t even really answer the second part of this question. MySpace!
Tell us a few things about the New Underground Metal Scene in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (Bands, Fanzines, Webzines, Metal Clubs etc.)
Joe: The pandemic took a hit on venues for sure, but some are still kicking like Kung Fu Necktie and Century Bar. We have some good friends in bands like Atomic Cretins and the young Bastard Cross, Cruel Bomb, Nuclear Tomb, Fatal Agent, and Paralysis are also awesome. Electrocutioner up in Long Island are tight as well, very old school.
Brian: As far as bands there are definitely some cool local bands but nothing really like us in that regard. Crypt Sermon, Sumer lands, Bastard Cross, Blazon Rite, Road Killer, Atomic Cretins, are all awesome local bands that I enjoy. As far as zines there aren’t really any. This one guy Chev Dude runs a tape label (Unchained Tapes) and he is definitely helping out the scene. And there was a guy Billy Barton who used to put out stuff but he moved back to New York because Philly sucks now. No such thing as truly metal clubs now, there are venues that book primarily metal and punk but things are weird now because of Covid. Century Bar is essentially the CBGB’s of Philly.
Greg: My experience is that it’s a vast sea of various groups that typically sound like black metal, death metal, grind, or hardcore. There are some groups that sound more traditional like us, but a lot of groups go for the extreme sound. House shows and DIY shows were common before the pandemic, and places like Kung Fu Necktie, Voltage Lounge, Century Bar, and JR’s Bar (RIP) were like home. I recently did an interview for the Midnight All Night podcast, and Horror Pain Gore Death is a label that has been supporting the local scene for a long time. I’d like to give a shout-out to Roadkiller, Heavy Temple, and Atomic Cretins.
Do you know anything about the Hellenic Metal Scene?
Joe: Admittedly I do not know much, but I love that the digital age has made it much easier for bands to share their music around the world. We actually just got an order from Greece for our full physical discography so I will have to repay that by looking up more about the scene over there.
Brian: Two words Rotting Christ!
Greg: I’m not familiar with the Hellenic Metal scene, but I’d be interested in finding out more. Let’s tour together!
What are your future plans?
Joe: Touring this year for sure. COVID has been tough on everyone, but we are hoping we can play way more shows this year. We are also in the process of writing new material to hopefully be able to hit the studio again by the end of this year or possibly next spring. We do have an unreleased song up our sleeves that we plan on releasing on an upcoming split 7, hopefully later this year.
Greg: Joe said it right. Upward and onward.
Brian: With this band ideally tour and hopefully make it to Europe. Put out a second album.
Thank you very much for your time & Keep up the good work! The closure is yours.
Joe: Thank you so much for reaching out to us, it really means a lot! We love making music, and if you love our music you can follow us at traitorphl.bandcamp.com, Instagram @traitorphl, or email us Traitorphl@gmail.com for booking. I’d also like to shout out Lauren Gornik for the killer cover art on this album. We had some issues with the original cover and a tight label deadline and she was super easy to work with and she absolutely delivered. Follow her @gornikillustration on Instagram!
By Steve the Filthy Dog.