Antihero Magazine’s Scott Martin spoke to bassist Niko Gemini of Cry Venom about the band’s EP, Vanquish the Demon and the history and influences of the Neo-Power Metal band.
Scott Martin: Tell me about how Cry Venom was started?
Niko Gemini: I moved from Russia about 6 years ago with a dream about starting a band, and I always loved electronic music mixed with Metal music and Speed Metal. I was looking for people who were like-minded, and in 2014 I went to a show on the Vans Warped Tour and I was sitting in the back where the bands had food after the show. That’s where I met Jacky Vincent who was currently in the band Falling in Reverse, we started talking, and I told him my story and what I liked. It turned out that we grew up pretty much listening to the same stuff such as Power Metal, and being from Russia that is pretty much all we get is Power Metal and some Japanese bands. So, we are bonded by that. At the time I met him, he already had a keyboard player named Colton Majors and they had been working on some tracks too. So, we just started exchanging music and writing demos, and then we started filling out the band with the other members, Wyatt Cooper on drums, and lastly our vocalist who is also from Russia, Aleksey Smirnov.
Scott Martin: Besides playing bass in Cry Venom, you also play guitar with Davey Suicide?
Niko Gemini: I am a guitar player by trade, but when I got together with Jacky he said that he needed a bass player, and I said, “sure, I can play bass.” We just wanted to keep with as little of band members as possible. Rather than me also playing guitar alongside Jacky and then having to find a bass player which would have been a big challenge considering we are a new band just traveling in a trailer there is not much space. If your band had six members plus the sound guy and also the merch guy, it’s already going to be pretty tight, so we just decided to stick to a five-man band.
Scott Martin: Is your debut album Vanquish the Demon out already?
Niko Gemini: Yes, so what happened is that we did an Indiegogo campaign to fund raise the whole album and recording and pretty much everything, and we collected about $28,000, of which most of it went to the mixing, mastering and recording of the whole record. Our singer is also from Russia, so we had to deal with a lot of Visa issues. After that was done, we had the urge to give it back to the fans that contributed and made it happen. Then we were looking for labels in the United States and nobody was terribly interested. We just felt like Power Metal in America is just not thriving right now. We decided to just release it here and go independent in America, and then a Japanese label, King Records, picked us up and the album is coming out April 26 in Japan.
Scott Martin: What are your opinions of Spotify and other streaming platforms available online? Are you going to release Vanquish the Demon at any point on Spotify?
Niko Gemini: We have a weird thing about Spotify as far as for streaming music. We know that most everyone nowadays has Apple music and anyone that has an Apple device such as an iPhone and Android users have Google. We kind of focus on just these 2 devices. Spotify has all this controversy about streaming and that the artists are not getting what they deserve in compensation. We may end up releasing it onto Spotify at some point. But considering we are an independent band right now our focus is on selling as many copies of our album.
Scott Martin: Describe the recording process during the recording of Vanquish the Demon?
Niko Gemini: Jacky started working with Charles Callahan Massabo who mixed the previous Falling in Reverse album titled Just Like You, I believe. They became friends and he brought him in to work on the Vanquish the Demon record as well. His studio is in North Hollywood and basically, we did everything part by part. Started with some demos, picked out the best songs one by one, then started recording all the guitars and the main parts, and then bass. Our singer at that time was still in Russia, so he had to record everything over there, then send us all the tracks and we would have to mix them. Then our drummer Wyatt came in and recorded all the drums. We had to make it work with what we had. I imagine our next album, we will all be together for the recording process.
Niko Gemini: We are currently working on some tours in August. If that does not happen we may have to work on a tour in October or November. We are still figuring this thing out. I know that Japan is real excited to have us there. Summer is kind of a bad season to tour, so we may just take the summer off and start full force in September. We have a show in Las Vegas at The Beauty Bar on Fremont Street on May 6th. That is the only show we have confirmed at this time.
Scott Martin: Describe what bands have influenced the Cry Venom sound?
Niko Gemini: Dragonforce is the one that comes up most often from people who hear our music, mainly because they write the same type of music that we do and there are not quite a lot of Power Metal bands that people are aware of, especially in America. So, that comes out automatically that we sound like Dragonforce. We are deeply rooted in Power Metal bands such as Stratovarious, Helloween, Sonata Arctica are pretty much what Jacky grew up listening to and me as well. There is also a lot of Thrash Metal in it such as Metallica and Pantera. We also try to make it modern. We also love electronic music like Trance and EDM. So basically, we combined our love of Power Metal and our love for EDM, and came up with Cry Venom which we call Neo-Power Metal.
Scott Martin: Describe the songwriting process?
Niko Gemini: Most of the songs were written by Jacky, about 70% to be exact. Then Colton, and myself would contribute to the parts that we wanted to correct. It was basically Me, Colton and Jacky that would go over the songs to make sure that everyone is happy with all the parts. And then Colton would add his solo parts on the key-tar and keyboards. Everyone contributed there parts as far as bass and stuff. Wyatt came a little later after we had the structure and everything, then he would play through and added his touch to all the drums and such. Since Aleksey was overseas, we would send him everything we had, and he recorded it and we would mix it after we got everyone parts together. That’s why I am so excited for album #2, because I feel that everyone will be more involved in the writing process. We want to do more of an old-school way when we are all in a room together creating demo’s and then working on them together. When you start in a band it is always a few people that have the drive to make the train go, and once the train is going it will make everything easier.