For the Love of Rock and Metal: Tell everyone a little about the band.
Zakk: For several years, Mike A, Chris and I played together in the Madison WI metal band Seven Signs. It was a good experience, but in late 2012, we realized we were ready for something different. We had always worked well together so it was really a no-brainer, at least for me, when we started talking about this new project. We were only missing one element – a great vocalist. We found that greatness (and more!) in Mike L – former vocalist for the band Livid! Our first jam session happened to occur during the coldest part of the winter. We bounced names around for a while and “Bitter Cold” stuck – a fitting name for a band from the icy reaches of Wisconsin – regardless of genre!
Chris: This band is the culmination of four productive minds coming together after struggling with various band dynamics over the years. All four of us have been playing music for a long time, and we feel that Bitter Cold is the sound that we have been trying to achieve all this time.
Mike: Bitter Cold is a band that got together just recently after all getting out of projects and having the same mindset of wanting to get back to fun music that pushes our own limits and hopefully pushes metal music farther in the process. We all knew each other from being in the Madison metal scene for some time and it all just kinda fell into place.
FLRM: Your Facebook page calls Bitter Cold “honest heavy metal.” What does this mean to you?
Z: Unique, real, relatable, fun and not overly produced music that stays true to us and our fans.
C: Our brand of metal can't really be categorized. Certainly you can hear my influences in the guitar work and Zakk's in his drumming, but the focal point isn't on fitting into any specific genre, or even a specific area of the metal scene. It's honest metal because both musically and lyrically it speaks to universal truths. I'd like to think that my heavy blues influence has something to do with that as well, but you can decide that. It's honest because it is going to be what it is. We aren't going to dress up the music for anybody. We play because we love it and all have our own demons to expel. If other people feel that too, that is just awesome!
M: "Honest heavy metal" to me is doing it because you truly love the genre and want to be a part of it in any way possible. It means putting your heart into the music and helping share it as well as build a community around it.
FLRM: What is the hardest thing about being a new band?
Z: Finding a band name that hasn’t been used! As you know, new bands face many challenges – solidifying the line-up, putting together a good set list, obtaining quality recording, etc. We really lucked out – it just seemed natural right from the start. Our past experiences helped this project gel quickly and the music was flowing before we knew it.
C: The hardest thing about being a new band is differentiating from our past bands. Other than that, it is the usual band stuff... getting people to listen, getting people to shows, and helping people understand how cool this music is. It's always interesting because people often don't like what they aren't used to, but if you bludgeon them over the head with it, and it IS good, it will stick. We hope to bludgeon the fuck out of Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Illinois.
M: Honestly the hardest part of being in a new band for me is controlling the excitement of getting it all up and going. Writing and recording music while getting shirts and other merch made and setting up shows all at the same time! It gets to the point when you have to remember to take a step back and take a breath so you remember to actually bring instruments to the shows!
FLRM: What are you most excited about?
Z: The bottom line is that we have great chemistry! There’s truly nothing better than being on stage, sharing our music, interacting with fans and having the time of our lives. Our first single is almost ready for release and we can’t wait to unleash it on the masses. We have been given a great opportunity – and we will definitely not take it for granted.
C: I'm most excited to finally see some of my riffs that have been sitting on the shelf (due to other band turmoils) finally coming out and getting the full treatment with vox, drums, and bass. Most of the riffs in our tunes are bits and pieces of stuff that has been sitting in the back of my mind or on my 4-track for years.
M: I'm most excited to get back on stage with all the other great bands in the area and putting on some crazy shows! It sounds like a stereotypical response but there truly is no feeling like being up on that stage in front of people and knowing that your music is bringing everyone in that building together on some crazy levels!
FLRM: As someone who has been watching the local music scene for years, I’ve noticed a decline in the number of bands as well as the number of people showing up to shows. What do you think is going on?
Z: I’ve been asking myself the same question. The apparent decrease in the volume of local bands may be related to the economy. Sadly, music is not seen as a priority. Kids can no longer count on exposure to music in their schools due to ever increasing funding cuts. Difficult economic times have also led to unprecedented venue closures. Also, fewer and fewer radio stations nationwide offer opportunities for local bands. In Madison WI, we are so lucky to have WJJO, their Local Stage show, and the many things they do every day to promote local and regional artists!
C: It is hard work to make it on the local scene. People are busy, some are lazy, and like I said before, if people don't recognize your tunes, they often shy away from it. Beyond that, part of it is our current culture. Kids don't foam at the mouth for shows anymore... we've all become kind of complacent with watching YouTube videos and DVDs. It's kind of like trying to get tickets to a Packer game. A lot of people now say, "why would I freeze my ass off to see dots run around on the field when I could get a better seat, cheaper beer, and easy access to the toilet at home?" It's a disconnection from the experience of seeing it live, because it is so easy to access postpartum. That's why I try to always jump off the stage and slam into people. You shouldn't 'watch' a show... you can do that at home, you should 'participate' in a show. It's an experience.
M: There's so many factors that tie into it that its hard to address one specifically to attempt to turn it around. Bands in local scenes all over are dropping like flies because they want that instant gratification. Its completely understandable. We all do. But that's one of the hardest parts of being part of a band on this level. Financially you probably won't get back what you put in. People forget the reasons they started playing in the first place. They gotta keep it fun and leave egos and money problems out of the music side of it all. I've watched it happen countless times that money and egos just eat a band alive. As far as people making it out to shows I know a big part of that is the small amount of time people have nowadays. A lot of people work multiple jobs and most are on 2nd or 3rd shift just trying to get ahead. I'm sure there's tons more reasons but that's something we could talk about forever.
FLRM: What is the best way a fan can support a new local band?
Z: Gather your friends, go to shows, buy a CD or shirt if you can. Also, if you like a band, go spread the word!
C: Support can come a lot of ways. As annoying as it might sound, the best help comes from sharing. Sharing our music, sharing our videos, even passing Facebook links is a huge help. This is of course secondary to showing up at shows. If a fan of local music can do ANYTHING to help, it is showing up and banging their heads with us.
M: Honestly the best way a fan can support locals bands is obviously to get out to shows and have fun with us, but also just talking to us whether it be via social media out at the shows or wherever. The best part is getting to talk to them all and hear the feedback and hear the things they liked the most about the music and the show itself. Helps us write more music and put on better shows and helps network. Its all about building that community!
FLRM: If you could share the stage with any band (current or past), who would it be?
Z: It’s hard to select just one! In my opinion, Sevendust is undeservedly one of the more under-rated bands out there today. For the life of me, I can’t understand why they don’t have a bigger following considering the caliber of their performances. In addition, I am a huge fan of Morgan Rose. He is an awesome showman, not to mention a phenomenal drummer! But, after all, isn’t the drummer the heart and soul of every band!
C: Pantera. No doubt in my mind.
M: Can I share it with Michael Jackson? A moonwalk guitar solo could be a great thing to see! Really thought I would love to share a stage with Pantera! The feeling of being a part of a show of that caliber would be indescribable.
FLRM: Anything else you want to share with people?
Z: Pancakes! “For the Love of Rock and Metal” has made a genuine impact on the metal scene, and it is an honor to have this opportunity to share a little bit about Bitter Cold. I would also like to take a moment to thank Paul Schluter and Megatone Studios for supporting Bitter Cold and helping us create a top notch product for our first release. Stay tuned!
C: Help us spread the Bitter Cold. Metal is a community based in this awesome music, help the community grow by doing any small thing surrounding the bands... like our page, share our posts, and if you do nothing else... show up and represent the family.
M: I just want to make sure everyone is watching for our new music that's going to be hitting here very soon! Check us out at our Facebook and drop us a message. We love talking to people and making new friends! You'll be seeing us on stages everywhere soon. Starting on the 22nd out at the RSR in Madison!