“ASHES OF ARES” Interview by Christina Thompson
I somehow keep getting blessed with some interesting interviews and covering Ashes of Ares continues to keep my winning streak alive. The band was formed in 2012 from previous Iced Earth members Matthew Barlow (lead vocalist) and Freddie Vidales (guitar, bassist). In the beginning, there was also former Nevermore member Van Williams (drummer), who in February left the band to concentrate more on his other band, Ghost Ship Octavius. But I digress. Let’s get back to something that jumps out immediately: Officer Barlow. Not only does Mr. Matthew Barlow carry some serious vocal range as well has superior emotive styling, but he also carries a badge for the Georgetown Police Department in Delaware– not exactly the norm for metal bands!
Let’s jump into it. In an industry where most band members work side jobs around their music, you guys do the exact opposite. Do you feel that doing it this way has grounded you in a significant way that was missing before you made this decision? How do your careers lend to the band itself–how does it influence your music and how do you manage to work a successful band around successful full time careers, especially one in law enforcement?
Matt: First, thanks for the opportunity to do this interview. It is certainly a bit different having a full-time career, I suppose. I know a lot of folks that bust their butts working other jobs so they can afford to do music, though. I would say for me, that music has to take a little more of a back seat to my career and family life. That is a decision that I made when I took the job and had kids. It is the right thing for me, maybe not folks that want to hear me doing more stuff, but it is right for me. I think that having that stability in my life and the influences of my family have made me a better person, and a better musician. Opinions may vary on the latter, but I certainly feel better about what I do.
In 2013, you released your self-titled power metal debut of Ashes of Ares. In another interview you said you were able to complete that mostly over the internet. Can you give us a snapshot of how you go about that process and what is involved in the undertaking? Did you have to make any changes to your “sound” because of this arrangement?
Matt: I don’t think we had to make changes to our sound. Hell, we didn’t even know what our sound was. We just started writing, and it evolved quite naturally, I think. We are going through much the same process now. We don’t want to limit ourselves and be put in a box. OK…there is a box…a METAL box, to be sure, but beyond that we just want to be creative and make stuff that people want to listen to. After all, we are supposed to be entertainers, are we not?
That you are and a very good one at that.
Have you ever picked up a clear “divide” when you are, say, at a show playing with other bands who do the “full-time-touring” thing? Do you ever get a sense of an it’s Us vs. Them vibe?
Matt: Never. We’ve been on the other side, too. We know that it’s really tough for folks that are doing music “full time”. I have the deepest respect for people who sacrifice to do what they love. I am luck to have many things in my life that I love to do, and I’m afforded the ability to do them. I just have to come at them from a slightly different angle.
I love the message behind “Move the Chains” from Ashes of Ares. Can you share that message with our MHF community? Do you feel that being a police officer gives you a little more insight into the views expressed in this track that perhaps the average citizen just isn’t fully aware of right now?
Matt: I think that a lot of people get it. They may not know what the song is about, or have even heard it, but it’s pretty simple. If we are not willing to do for ourselves, we will be enslaved by our own apathy toward life. The true pursuit of happiness can only be found through enlightenment.
How did working with producer Jim Morris of Morrisound Studios figure into the balance between the music and your personal lives/careers outside of the band? How does it affect the process and will you be working with Morris again for the upcoming album due?
Matt: Jim is a really good friend, and I love working with him. He has always added to the creative process in my opinion. I would love to work with Jim again, but we will have to cross that bridge when we get to it. Schedules and budgets usually dictate how that sort of thing flushes out in the end.
Speaking of which…When can we expect the next album to drop? How have you gotten around Van William’s departure? Any ideas that you care to share as to who the next drummer might be?
Matt: We are hoping to get the album recorded in the middle of this year with a release by the end of the year. We haven’t really started looking for drummers at this point. We will have the music written and then approach that when we are really ready to record.
Final questions, one for each member: Is it true Freddie watched Golden Girls while sipping vodka in bed? And has Officer Barlow ever had to arrest anyone at one of his shows?
Matt: Pretty sure the answer to both questions is “NO”, but I don’t want to speak for Freddie, especially if members of his “Golden Girls Fan Club – Arizona Chapter 666” may be reading this article. They are all a little more Betty White, and a little less Estelle Getty…if you catch my drift.
Thanks once again for taking the time to speak with us, we hope to catch up with you in the very near future. All the the best in all your endeavors.
Christina Thompson/MHF Magazine