Isn’t it funny when you set out to have good intentions and then life decides to be a dirty whore? Hysterical. It’s taken me a while but lo and behold, my first band interview is here. It’s the first band interview I’ve ever done, in any capacity, and it was a shit ton of fun. Bitches and douche-nozzles, I present to you: Korey Brown, Jonathan Condon, Thomas Heskett II, Robyn Gray, and Gary Porter of The Struggle Within.
Behind The Local Scene: Hey guys, thanks for agreeing to do a “shoot the shit” style interview. You’re my first. Go easy on me.
Gary Porter (drums): Perfect.
B: You guys are relatively new in Maine’s metal scene. When did you guys form The Struggle Within?
Robyn Gray (bass): We all got together in February (2017), but we didn’t have this line up until August.
Korey Brown (vocals): I joined the band in August.
B: Had any of you played together in other bands?
G: Yes, Korey and I played in Bound by Fate. Jon, our lead guitarist, was in Salvo.
Jonathan Condon (lead guitarist): Yeah, Salvo. Life Down, a few others. I used to play bass in the mid 90’s for Rant (Ellsworth). We were fortunate enough to record a full-length CD and go on tour to Southern California. We played at Whiskey A Go Go many times and opened for Coal Chamber and L.A. Guns at the Ventura Theatre.
Thomas Heskett II (guitar): I joined the band when one of our former members hit me up asking me if I still played guitar. Never met Gary before and I had been wanting to be in a band for 12 years, so I said yes immediately. Met up with Gary and within the first 15 minutes of meeting we started writing Protocol 15. It was like instant magic.
R: I was just a high school band geek, lol.
B: High school band geek turned badass bassist! Now, you’re all (mostly) from the Downeast area (Birch Harbor). Is that a hot bed for metal, or are most people surprised when they hear you’re a metal band?
G: Not a hot bed at all.
R: Ayuh. It is a cold bed, in fact.
K: It’s mainly country and rap where we’re at.
B: Oh sweet Jesus…
R: Satan has been very influential on us, I think mostly due to the goat sacrifices.
B: I would think lobster would be more readily available for sacrifice in that area.
K: I’m a lobsterman, in fact lol. I’ve listened to metal since my buddy from way back when I was 12 years old showed me Korn’s “Life is Peachy” album. It was straight heavy from then on.
G: Pantera started it for me.
K: Bro, you told me it was Def Leppard…
G: I told you that in secret, KDB…
J: I was influenced largely by 90’s music and classic rock, as well as older metal from bands like King Diamond and Merciful Fate. Later, it was Type O Negative and Zombie. I’m a huge Rob Zombie fan.
T: When I was young, it was KISS, AC/DC, Ratt, like 80’s hair metal bands, and then heavier bands like Judas Priest and Metallica.
R: In my house growing up, I wasn’t allowed to listen to pop or country, which was fine with me anyway. But, I grew up listening to classic rock, eventually discovered metal through Slipknot and have been hooked ever since.
B: It seems you guys busted into the local scene and are playing shows left and right. What was your first show as a band?
T: Our first show was really a birthday party for a friend of Robyn’s, but we were still in our early stages. At that point, we had 7 members in the band, lol. It was a bit ridiculous. But as time went on, we evolved and went through some members.
G: With the five piece that we are now, it was September 16th at the Brick Church in Bangor with Nova, Ganjika and When The Dead Won’t Die. They were awesome.
B: That must have been a killer show. Nothing like blasting metal and drinking beer in a church.
G: But it really all started for us after the battle. (to open for Mushroomhead at Sapphire Night Club in Auburn)
B: Yes! TSW was nominated to be one of the bands in the battle, and you got to play with the likes of Arta’sin, Weapons At Hand, Conscious Cadaver, and Re:vision. You guys stunned us. When you told me you’d only been a band for a couple months at that point, I was shocked. You guys sounded tight, and the stage presence was entertaining.
K: Everyone is super talented, and it just naturally carried over to TSW.
G: It was so much fun.
B: It must have felt so exciting to win the battle!
G: I pooped a little. I thought Conscious Cadaver had it.
K: Me too.
B: They are amazing. The stage dive was a highlight.
G: Hell yeah. That’d be Korey if he was wireless.
R: I think that (the battle) was only the fifth time I had ever played on stage with a metal band. I’m blown away with the progress of this band. We all thought it was over when we heard Conscious Cadaver!
B: But you won, and then you got to open for Mushroomhead! I got a nice broken drum stick from that show. You all signed it and it’s on my desk.
G: That show was unreal. I’d like to say that Rick Servidio and Strong Arm Concerts did a great job with it.
B: How did it feel being up on stage, knowing you were opening for Mushroomhead?
G: It felt amazing.
K: It was a dream come true, simply said.
R: It was honestly pretty mind blowing getting that opportunity. It takes an incredible amount of work by many people to make shows like that possible, it’s amazing!
K: We just do what we do too, so it wasn’t hard for us. Seriously, I’m not trying to sound full of myself. We just click.
B: You certainly seem to. TSW seems to be taking the scene by storm and are getting booked regularly now.
R: We love going to new places and melting new faces!
G: We have a lot of fun but we’re also 100% serious, too.
R: And like 95% not serious.
K: LMAO! Face off!!!
G: Hahahahah that’s ROBnoxious.
K: Not Thumper! He was last year’s Easter present from my mom. Not cool, Robyn.
R: Here comes Peter Cottontail, leaving a chocolate bunny trail!
B: Hahaha oh my. Moving on, haha! You guys recorded a demo, which I have in my hand, called “Breaking The Mundane”.
R: A rough demo…
K: Just something to get us out there for shows and such. I think it came out pretty good.
B: What are your favorite songs on the record?
T: “It’s a toss-up between “SIKN” and “Gates of Valhalla”. “Gates” was one of those songs that I’m proud of. We started writing it, and it didn’t really click for the band. As Gary calls it, it was “shlocky”, so I literally went to the bathroom and shit out “Gates” and it’s been our staple setlist ender, lol.
R: Lol. “SIKN”
B: What was the recording process like? Many long days?
G: No, each of us had about an hour and a half to record all five songs track by track, so it’s very rushed. We were in the studio for about 9 hours total.
R: It was one long day. We would have liked to have spent more time with it, but I’m proud of what we accomplished in such a short amount of time.
B: Where did you record the demo?
G: Arrive Alive Records in Clinton (Maine). It’s the dudes from When The Dead Won’t Die.
K: Awesome group of dudes.
B: So, your next show is coming up January 20th at The Cage in Lewiston. How do you guys prepare for a show? Any weird, pre-show rituals? I’ve been around long enough to know that musicians do some crazy shit before a show…
R: We make all kinds of intricate plans, then nothing goes that way and we wing it and everything goes well! We also do a little Struggle Huddle together before we go on stage.
K: Yes, the Struggle Huddle!!!! It’s like we’re the Pats getting ready for the Super Bowl, lol.
(Wait, can I legally write Super Bowl? Eh, come at me, bro. I’m not advertising anything on this shithole blog)
K: Gary’s the Bill Belichick of the team and he usually picks a word or phrase that we shout on three.
B: Bad language, I hope. I endorse the shit outta that.
K: Fuck, fuck, fuck!!!!
G: This is the way every band should be interviewed haha.
K: Before the show, I like to have at least one practice no more than a couple days beforehand.
G: I smoke a lot of weed and drink beers.
B: Well done, sir. What can we expect from TSW in 2018?
T: A full length album at some point.
R: Some badass new material.
T: Indeed. 3-4 new song ideas and one Korey’s working on the lyrics to now.
K: Herpesvirus!! Oh, no wait, already did that. My bad. Music.
B: Dying isn’t allowed.
T: It was too metal to handle.
K: Not if you’re TSW.
B: No dying! You’ve still got a shitload of shows to play. Speaking of which, what are some local bands you’d like to play a show with?
T: Honestly, any local band works for me. I just love being on stage again and meeting new people and having a blast.
G: Any band for me. I’m just a show whore.
K: That’s a hard one for me, because everyone would be great. I’ve always like Nobis and they’ve been around for a while. I don’t even know if they still play.
R: We have had a blast with all the bands we’ve played with so far. I would love to play with any of them again. At every show we play, I become a fan of the other bands.
B: Spoken like people who genuinely love and respect their art.
K: I take it very seriously, but I have fun.
B: Having fun is important. You gotta love what you do.
T: I’m taking this opportunity and making it my bitch because I missed out back in my last band in ’04. 12 years of not being in a band, so I’m putting my all into this, and obviously having fun doing it, lol.
B: I look forward to what’s to come for TSW.
G: Thank you. Us, too.
B: Is there anything else you’d like the freaks who read (willingly!) my blog to know about The Struggle Within?
G: We put in a lot of work.
R: All of us dreamed of doing this with our lives. We have all taken different routes, but together we are making history.
K: Amen. We will rise to the top, like it or not we’re not gonna stop until we drop! That’s a KB original. You can take that with you.
That was a hell of a lot of fun. Never thought lobster sacrifice and shitting out songs would be part of my very first interview, but there it was. Be sure to check out The Struggle Within this Saturday, January 20th at The Cage in Lewiston with When Muppetz Attack and brand spankin’ new band ALIONS.
Til next time, kids.