Toronto, Ontario - On June 2, 2023, Calgary based power/melodic metal band Red Cain released their 3rd full length LP Nae'Bliss. With fantastical story telling influences, particularly from Fantasy Writer Robert Jordan's The Wheel of Time, the band added 2 new members, focused on a heavier death metal vibe, and set out to get back to the roots, and write a different album than their previous 2 releases.
On June 12, LOOUDTO sat down with Red Cain vocalist Engeniy Zayarni. In true LOUDTO fashion, we had a chill convo about music, influences, and smoke-choked Canadian skies.
LOUDTO: Hey so it's Jay here again from LOUDTO. Today we're talking with Alberta based progressive metal band Red Cain’s vocalist Evgeniy Zayarni. How's it going out west?
Evgeniy Zayarni - We had some smoke but some people would say that's pretty metal!
LOUDTO – (Laughs) We actually had some of that here too last week from wildfires in northern Ontario and Quebec so it seems like the world is on fire. It's kind of crazy actually.
EZ - It's a nice backdrop for filming heavy metal videos but yes it's a very serious issue and hopefully that we'll be able to get that under control soon.
LOUDTO - I mean, I can speak for us here, they have gotten it under control so hopefully that'll be it but it's been so dry here too.
EZ - Yeah it's been pretty brutal in Alberta actually. This is alright this week, but a few weeks ago we had I think the worst air quality in the world at one time.
LOUDTO – WOW!
EZ – For a few days you know, you could walk outside and I think my dog dish, that struck me, had ashes in it.
LOUDTO – WOW! Crazy! So what town is it or what city is it exactly that you’re in in Alberta?
EZ – Calgary
LOUDTO – I visited Calgary for the first time in 2016. I actually went out there to visit a relative. Somebody who I had never met. A relative who I had never met. So I headed out there and we actually went to Calgary Metalfest V which was at a venue called Flames Central.
EZ – mmm hmm… yeah!
EZ – Nice!
LOUDTO – But I think that was the last Metal Fest that they did. How is the metal scene in Alberta these days?
EZ – That’s a tough question. Um, it’s definitely different than I remember back when I was a fan and didn’t have Red Cain yet. We had, the main difference is venues. The number of venues has significantly decreased as a result of Covid of course. And so right now if a metal festival or a metal show is held, it has a very small choice for where to play that. I think we have Dickens Pub which is the primary go-to venue and it’s always booked months and months in advance. It’s generally the bigger acts that come through, play there. We played a show with Striker that came down, which is obviously a well known Canadian band.
LOUDTO – Cool!
EZ – And they played at Dickens. I don’t remember any shows at Flames Central recently. And frankly, that is almost the end of the list for the larger venues. There’s some smaller ones but yeah, there’s a shortage for sure.
LOUDTO – Yeah, it’s unfortunate. Covid, whenever I do interviews I like to talk about Covid. I didn’t have it on the agenda for us today but the music industry was completely decimated by Covid. There’s a lot of industries of course that suffered but I think the music industry was one of the hardest hit. You're living it there. You’ve got a lot of venues that weren’t able to pull through and they’re closed down now. It makes it tough. I mean, here in Toronto, it’s a little bit different. Like, I think since Covid, live music, the live music scene has exploded and I really think metal in particular is kind of leading the way. Any thoughts from your standpoint what has kind of caused the massive resurgence in the metal genre? Cuz it’s gotten pretty big. At least here in Toronto.
EZ – Yeah, I mean it’s quite big here too just in the sense of what’s available, right and around the world it’s just been a huge wave. I mean, there’s a lot to it right? As a metal musician, you pride yourself in your live performance so you wanna get out and perform in front of people. The atmosphere at metal shows is like no other. So really, so many fans dying to see their favourite bands, it’s a volatile combination. It’s really nice to see that it’s finally making a comeback. And then I think just the fact that the live product is such an integral part of any song writing that a band, a metal band has to kind of get it out there to get that field tested or battle tested in front of the fans. So I think all of those things. Plus I think it’s also the fact that over 3 years of Covid, a lot of bands are sitting in the studio perfecting their craft.
LOUDTO– Right! So you guys had a big day about a week and a half ago on June 2nd with the release of your 3rd full length recording. I read some reviews. I’ve seen it being called "breathtaking with rough hewn rawness". How has it been received thus far from your perspective?
EZ – I think it’s very nice to see the specific comments in reviews. We’re not too concerned at looking at the scores themesleves. I think it’s still a great reception as to what we were trying to achieve. The previous 2 records were actually reviewed really highly. I remember us getting a lot of 9 out of 10 and 8 out of 10 for both of them and we’re really proud of that but I think for this one we really went back to the roots of the band and tried to write something different, so I understand people kind of maybe being a little surprised for those who know the music. But the comments that were received in reviews about specific tracks and the direction of the band and the things that we were able to do well and how it resonated with the listeners has been really cool to hear. A lot of them are what we expected and what we wanted to achieve. A lot of them are surprising even to us which is also very cool. We had a review recently where the reviewer really enjoyed the instrumental. The single instrumental track on the album, placed it higher than everything else. And that’s honestly really cool. Like it’s a really good fucking track. And we're very proud of it and it’s not always that people call out the instrumentals as being one of the strongest tracks on the album so things like that have been really really nice to hear. For us it’s kind of, it’s two-fold. We talk to the fans and we talk to other bands quite often so we get their feedback as well but the reviews are almost, you kind of look in the mirror because you expect the people that review the music to be, have a wide expansive knowledge as to what’s currently out there in the market and they can compare you to your colleagues and to other great bands and so for them to instill that and give you that sort of feedback is I think really cool and really valuable. So we really enjoy those.
LOUDTO – Right on! That’s uh, it’s a great take! A lot of times, I mean I’ve seen a lot of bands get upset about specific reviews. And it doesn’t even go, I mean, I’ve seen comedians you know, complain about reviews but I think it’s a great take the way you view it. I think that’s awesome.
EZ – Yeah, I mean, you have to be, I guess secure as an artist, to be an artist. At least that’s my take on it.
LOUDTO – 100%! I mean, cuz I do photography too. It’s kind of my main thing and it’s a bit similar where we’ll put out work that people hate but I love it so that’s ultimately all that matters really. As long as you guys are doing what you love. So originally I read that you guys were really only planning to create a 3 song EP and kind of things just blossomed from there for you. Can you share with us how things evolved into a full length?
EZ – Yeah, it was interesting, because it was such a spontaneous process. We always plan our albums, or have in the past, very thoroughly from the beginning in terms of the number of tracks, the content, the concept, all of that. For this one, we were going to, we had a new lineup with a couple of new members. We wanted to do something small and revisit the original influences in the band almost. That’s where The Wheel of Time came from cuz for me the literary work, it was one of the original large-scale series that I had read. It was actually the first one I had read in English after coming to Canada. So it always had a special place for me and it had so much content and so much interesting stuff that it actually shaped my world view both musically and fanatically and conceptually. It was like “Hey, we have a new lineup and we haven’t had a chance to work together, let’s just hammer out something really quick. Do the 3 song EP, reference Wheel of Time. It’ll give us the concept to follow.” It’s something that I’m very passionate about. So I’ll drive us in the direction and once we started writing, it just, we realized we had a lot more to say than those 3 songs would allow. And it was actually really interesting to work with the new members and I’ll call them out.. Sam Ridout who is the new guitarist. Him and I have a really good working relationship and we write a lot of good stuff and we’re both Wheel of Time fans. So from that relationship we started just like pumping out new stuff. He was coming to me like late at night and sending me this riff and I was like “Holy fuck, that’s one of the greatest riffs that I’ve heard from somebody in the middle of the night” sort of thing. (laughs)
LOUDTO – (Laughs)
EZ – So we have to use it. So yeah, I expanded from that and we wanted to have our bassist and back vocalist Kalie, who is a very talented singer. We wanted to utilize her growls and so there was a particular track that I had in mind where that would be very prominent which turned into “We Are Chaos”. And then our other guest vocalist, James from Lycanthro, an Ottawa band which you might have heard about, maybe not, but geographically close to you. He was a good friend and we talked about collaborating for a long time, so I decided to bring him on board and he nailed it. So it was really organic. Honestly, we’d finish a song and be like “Hey, I have this other cool idea. This has been hanging around for a while. Can we use it?” And of course Wheel of Time is so conceptually dense that we just keep pumping out all this content.
LOUDTO – You can probably have like 5 more albums.
EZ – Oh yeah, yeah!
LOUDTO – So you guys went from a 3-piece to the 5-piece, adding Kalie and Sam. What made you go in that direction?
EZ – I want to give like a romantic, romanticized, cool, epic answer
LOUDTO - (laughs)
EZ - But honestly, it was necessity. We had, we were lucky enough or unlucky enough that we’ve had a lot of turn-over in the last few years. I think it’s normal for a band that is not fully established, but I’ve really always been looking for a stable lineup so we can do things like tour and commit to longer projects and so we had been working as a 3-piece for awhile and in the studio I think that’s fine. You can pump out great material as a 3-piece. It directs the band better. But if we wanted to play live, we really needed a full lineup and so with Sam it was frankly chance. We’d been looking for a guitarist, he applied. He immediately was like head and shoulders above everybody else and a really great guy. He took the time to understand what kind of music we were already doing and I remember him listening to the previous albums and saying “Hey, I think I understand what the Red Cain sound is like” and it really struck me cuz it’s you know, it’s a difficult thing to be a new band and have an established sound that somebody can pick up on let alone somebody’s who’s trying to contribute artistically, and so for me that was kind of the final thing that made me say “Hey, do you want to join us?” and since then he’s been nothing but awesome. Kalie I knew from before actually. She was another local band called ‘The Luminary Plot’. She was their vocalist for awhile. Really great at what she does and so we needed a bassist but I always wanted for this release to have a death metal kind of presence. More growls. A Heavier sound and she was very good at that so she graciously accepted and uh we had her feature in a few songs and I think we will in the future. It was again, it was kind of an organic thing. As we were developing the album and figuring out what we wanted to do, it was logical to bring in the other parts of the band.
LOUDTO – It definitely adds such a fuller sound to the music.
EZ – Thank you!
LOUDTO – Yeah, it’s definitely the right direction I would say.
EZ – Thanks! Appreciate that.
LOUDTO – You spoke earlier about The Wheel of Time and Robert Jordan’s work. I know that’s a big influence for you guys. From a musical standpoint though, who drives you musically? Maybe more so from an inspirational standpoint.
EZ – Yeah. So for me personally, I said this before, but I think like vocals obviously drive my inspiration quite a lot or presence on stage, and so Roy Khan (Kamelot and Conception) was a huge influence and still remains a huge influence. Jorn Lande from Master Plan, again, fantastic vocalist. Ville Valo of HIM. It’s a Gothic Rock direction but I’ve always really respected him as a vocalist and enjoyed his work. And then from the perspective of bands specifically, frankly there’s a lot. We pride ourselves in having tons of different influences. We make different stuff on each album but I think Kamelot, again coming back to Roy Khan, like Kamelot’s evolved a lot as a band. Where they have Tommy Karevik, and they’ve managed to put together a product that is commercial but is also staying true to the band’s roots musically, so I think they’ve always been an inspiration to me for how they’ve managed to combine the 2 and have a very distinctive visual, musical feel. And then there’s I think Tesseract is a really good one. We’re all fans of Tesseract in terms of what they bring to the table. Experimentation, virtuosity, like they are what musicians are about and how different their music is. And in terms of story telling, again, I’ve said this before but Blind Guardian remains for me a band that I grew up with and that really inspired me with their conceptual background to the music and how they made it work without sacrificing the music itself and putting that package together. So I can talk for a lot more with this but.
LOUDTO: (Laughs) Nice! I’m going to segway that into the next question, which might sound a little bit off topic but I’ll come back to it briefly. As a musician, what’s your medium of choice? Are you a streamer? Vinyl? CD? Is there a medium you prefer?
EZ – Ummm, yeah, that’s a good question. I think for daily consumption, streaming is the way to go. I consider myself, and try to be very much be a forward thinker, and I think streaming is basically the future and the present. It’s nice to be able to immediately grab a song by your favourite musician and just play it in your car or home or everywhere. I mean, I do appreciate people who like vinyl. I definitely think that vinyl is kind of a collector item that allows you to feel more in touch with the music, and I always respect people for asking us for physical CDs or albums because you know, that’s a rare thing. And I do feel bad when we can’t provide it, but we have to, as a smaller band, we have to get with the times and reduce our costs cuz the music business is a business. So yeah, I would say, I have nothing against streaming. I know some people might, but yeah.
LOUDTO – It’s funny. It’s always a surprise answer to me. I’ve asked a few artists the same question and I mean, more people are maybe not for streaming but they’re not so much againt it as I kind of thought they might be. So if we looked at your iPhone now, or your Spotify playlist, who might we find on there right now at the top of the list?
EZ – My, I mean, if you look at it right now, the last thing is like Taylor Swift, and some Russian Pop. Honestly, my horizons are fairly wide, as you can probably tell by the kind of music that we write. Right after them is like Amon Amarth and Dimmu Borgir, so yeah. That’s the other nice thing too, like is like it’s not just, with CDs you get to buy certain albums of bands you love and generally there’s a certain direction with that. Like you have a shelf full of Dimmu Borgir records or something like that but with streaming you’re much more likely to explore other genres because it’s so easy. And I, music is music, you know, I respect all kinds of genres, save maybe a couple, but I listen to a lot of things and I think it expands your horizons as a musician, as a person, as a writer, so I’m all for it.
LOUDTO – I love it! I love the answer! I’m 100% the same way. My heart is metal, but even shooting concerts, and doing concert reviews, I’ve branched out and gone to so many different shows that I probably would never generally do. And you’re right, it’s a door opener and you get to see a ton of artists that would just blow you away. It’s no different than throwing something on Spotify that you may not normally listen to and it definitely opens up a whole new world for sure.
EZ – You know, this reminds me of, at this point it was probably 10 years ago or longer but I went to concerts when HIM were coming through Calgary. I think it was almost their Farewell Tour or something like that, and I was a big HIM fan and I was like a metalhead at the time, and obviously still am but when we went to the show, like half the audience were like Grandmas, and people with kids, but also like metalheads like myself and people who are clearly into the more extreme genres and they were all like singing along. And yeah, like at that time I was like “Holy Shit! Like this is what being united by common love for music really feels like!”
LOUDTO – Absolutely. Yeah man, awesome! So you spoke a bit earlier about touring and it being maybe a little bit easier with more band members or at least having a fuller sound when you’re on the road. Is there anything that we can expect from the band as far as you hitting the road?
EZ – We’re working on it. It’s ah, we actually had a tour lined up before Covid hit and it was partially a European Tour and it would have been fantastic to be able to do that. We have some plans. Again, they may not come to fruition, but rest assured, the next step for us is figuring out where we can play. We’re looking beyond a local scene I think mostly. Mainly because we do have fans at this point around the world. They may not be millions, but they’re very vocal and we value every single fan right. So we would really love to be able to play in front of them. We’re hoping that something, we can set something up in a you know, eastern Canada and potentially Europe but no promises. It’s difficult to gauge what the state is like, what the state of that infrastructure is for a band of our size and what is available, but it is a goal.
LOUDTO – Cool! It’d be great to see you come through. I know it’s a very tough time to tour. It kind of used to be the bread and butter almost for bands but with inflation and stuff, it’s gotten really difficult for a lot of bands. Even bands that are fairly well established, are cancelling full legs of tours like in Europe and elsewhere just cuz it’s costing them too much money.
EZ – It’s rough for us too cuz we have so many distances in Canada right. Like the distance is just insane. In Europe, you can hit like 7 or 8 places within a few days.
LOUDTO – Correct! Yeah! Long distance and not a ton of people in Canada. So yeah, you’re right. Again, hopefully we’ll see you in our neck of the woods here and we’ll get out and get some fans out to see you and hopefully we’ll see that on the horizon. So that’s really it for us. Thanks for your time man. I truly appreciate it.
EZ – Absolutely! Appreciate it Jay!
LOUDTO – We’ll be seeing you at some point in the future I hope!
EZ – That's what I hope so as well!
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