The Voice of American Power Metal – An Interview with John Yelland

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It is well known that a power metal band needs a great front man to succeed. Most singers tend to stick with one band, although many have multiple bands/guest appearances throughout their career. John Yelland falls into the latter. Fronting 3 bands (Disforia, Judicator, and Dire Peril), holding a ton of guest appearances, and maintaining his own YouTube channel (including covers, among other bizarre things), John stands out in the United States power metal (USPM) scene as one of the most prolific and talented musicians. We got together for a little chat and talked about his career, what he aspires to, the USPM scene itself, and a few questions from our own curious writers.

Randall: To get things started off, and to get readers who are unfamiliar with your work up to speed, tell us a little bit about what you’ve been up to lately.

John: What I’ve been up to lately! Well, I’m writing lyrics for the upcoming Dire Peril album, and I’m about ready to start on lyrics for the upcoming Judicator album (we’ve chosen to go back to historical themed lyrics for this one.) I’m also finishing up guest vocals on two other songs, and once that’s done I’ll start on some guest songs for Lascaille’s Shroud.

So hopefully by the time I’m done singing the Lascaille’s Shroud material the Dire Peril and Judicator lyrics will be done. I’ll be pretty much non-stop singing from now until about January, haha!

 

Very busy! You’re currently the lead singer of three different bands. How challenging is it to juggle the different styles, demands, and locations of all three?

Well, I’m only able to do that because Tony Cordisco and Jason Ashcraft are such hard workers. If I had to put as much work and time into Judicator and Dire Peril as I do Disforia then it would be impossible. It also helps that Judicator and Dire Peril have long periods of time where we can work at our own pace, such as now. Dire Peril does have some tour plans, and Judicator plans to do more extensive touring next year, but because we plan so far ahead and plan so thoroughly I’m not worried that I’ll die trying to make it happen. Tony and Jason are so talented and hard working with logistics, planning, and financing. It’s because of them that I’m able to give 110%.

But really, I don’t have a plan and I kinda just make it by the skin of my teeth every time, haha! I have a hard time saying no to people, so I’m always involved with something. But again, I wouldn’t have it any other way! I’ve met some of the best people in my life because I’m always active.

 

So with Disforia, you’re active with every aspect of the band, but with Dire Peril and Judicator, Jason/Tony are able to manage it at a level that allows you to focus on vocals/lyrics without having to worry about the rest?

Exactly! But in fact right now I’m not even able to contribute as much money, time, and energy into Disforia anymore, due to my schooling. So from now until graduation other members of Disforia are probably gonna have to pick up the slack if we’re going to keep pushing forward. But yeah, Tony and Jason are some of the hardest working people in the underground metal community I know. I cannot give them enough kudos, and I’m thankful to be working with like-minded hard workers.

 

You’ve loaned guest vocals and voice acting to over 10 different projects, and you also have quite a few cover videos up on YouTube. You’re obviously not afraid to introduce your voice through as many mediums as possible. What keeps you motivated while working for 3 bands, your own YouTube channel, and multiple guest spots?

I’m going to try not to sound like the stereotypical pretentious artist here, but really it’s just a constant need to express myself and explore new, interesting places vocally and lyrically. I’m so damn happy to have so many creative outlets. The world needs plumbers and doctors, they all serve a vital function in our society. I’m of course studying film production and German, but my heart is with art, and I never want to give that up. I have a deep need to create. I hate downtime, and having so many creative outlets keeps me looking forward. I never want to be without a project or goal.

I have Disforia, Judicator, and Dire Peril, but guest vocals allows me the opportunity to do things with my voice that might sound out of place in my own bands. I love hearing my voice interact with different bands, sounds, and musicians. With Lascaille’s Shroud I’m able to go all out by creating ambient, layered operatic vocals, or by going all out and doing blackened death metal vocals. The YouTube channel is really my way of expressing my love for classic rock and other songs that don’t fit with anything.

 

I think most musicians can relate to what you just said. Due to the high volume of guest work, it’s safe to assume you are well known not just in the United States, but also the global power metal scene. How did you build your career, and how do you plan to capitalize on the work you’ve done so far?

Career? Hahaha! I wouldn’t call what I have a career. Some fine day though it would be fantastic to make enough money to tour and make at least a little money.

But to your question, I’m a man without a plan, drifting from place to place, album to album, I let chance and opportunity guide what I do. So I guess my only plan is to work my ass off, keep doing what I love no matter what, keep having fun, and always seize opportunities.

But speaking of the global power metal scene and careers, I will say that my #1 life goal is to be in a band that’s a headliner at Wacken: Open Air. So everything I do has that end in mind, whether I’m 30, 40, or 50 when it happens.
So it would be fantastic if Judicator could get over into Germany for a 2 week tour in 2017 or 2018 for a start smile emoticon

Sorry, I kinda ranted there haha!

 

Fully answered questions are better than quick answers! Based on your experience so far, how would you judge and/or classify the US Power Metal scene?

Underground but thriving!

The US Power Metal Scene seems to be really healthy. I was actually thinking about this about a week ago, we have so many damn great underground bands these days: Seven Kingdoms, A Sound of Thunder, Shadowstrike, Helion Prime, MindMaze, Vacant Throne, Cellador, Noble Beast, Tanagra, and many more. I can imagine ten years from now people looking back on this explosion of immense American talent as ‘The American New Wave of Power Metal’ or something, haha! There’s so much talent these days it’s ridiculous, and by ridiculous I mean amazing! The only crazy thing (which actually might be a blessing in disguise) is none of these bands seem to be making it big yet, perhaps with the exemption of MindMaze and Seven Kingdoms, but even so they’re not yet on the big boy level. So yeah, I just gotta say in my own view the US Power Metal scene is thriving and growing, and I would like to see it rise up and become the next big thing.

 

It’s an exciting time to be around for sure! Power metal is not as popular as other metal genres in the United States. Why do you think that is, and what, if anything, do you believe can be done to change this?

Man, I have no idea. You would think power metal would be one of the most popular, simply because it’s a genre strongly focused on melody. I’ve actually shown Blind Guardian’s ‘A Twist in the Myth’ to friends of mine who aren’t into metal and most have absolutely loved it!

So the frustrating thing I think is that power metal certainly has everything the everyday listener would adore, but because power metal (metal in general) doesn’t get very good promotion and advertisement in the everyday media like pop does, pop reigns supreme, and contemporary pop is largely uncreative, castrated trash.

So I guess to answer you question in one sentence, I would say power metal has everything the everyday listener wants, but because metal doesn’t get the exposure it deserves, it remains in the underground.

 

What about creating fans within other metal genres? Such as fans of death, stoner, black, etc?

That just comes down to personal taste. I wouldn’t try to push Hinduism on a Christian, or Indian food on someone who doesn’t like curry. Most metalheads are already familiar with the other sub-genres, so if they want to get into power metal then they’ll do it on their own time. I know plenty of metalheads who like Blind Guardian but not much else in power metal.

I will say additionally, however, I am all for cross-pollination at metal shows. I actually really like it when in one show you have multiple styles of metal. Metal as a whole is a delicious smorgasbord and it would be a shame to limit yourself.

 

Some of our other Toilet authors had some quick questions for you. “Why would you continue with this genre when Pantera already conquered it?”

WALK! ARE YOU TALKING TO ME?

“If you were interrogated and sentenced by the Spanish Inquisition, what heresy would you have committed?”

Butt stuff.

“If you could be any of King Arthur’s Knights, who would you be?”

I would be Galahad, hands down! He went on adventures, killed his enemies, saw the Holy Grail, and even got to choose when to die.

“If Judi would write about a despised historical figure or a historical “villian” so to speak for an album, who would they pick?”

Well I already wrote King of Rome about Napoleon, and many people hate him! Lol! But if I had to choose someone else who is very interesting yet potentially polarizing, I might choose General Robert E. Lee.

“What’s it like to play shows exclusively to neckbeards?”

We learned really quickly that we had write songs about being friend-zoned so that we could be relatable to our primary demographic: neckbeards. I have a beard though, so I’m a sort of role model. It took some convincing to get Tony on board with our new stage attire: fedoras, buttoned up polo shirts, and dress shoes. We also have Mountain Dew catering at our shows.

 

Last question. What is the best piece of advice you can offer young bands and musicians, in any genre?

If you’re interested in fame, money, a career, or women, stop. Don’t waste your time or anyone else’s. Follow your dreams, your REAL dreams. If you want money, work your ass off to be an engineer or something. If you want women, be a rocket ship. If you love music, art, people, traveling, hard work, and camaraderie, then join us. It’s a healthy, growing, vibrant underground community that is always hungry for more talent.

 

You can find John’s bands at these bandcamp / Facebook links:

Disforia: FB, BC

Judicator: FB, BC

Dire Peril: FB, BC

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  • This feels like when campaign volunteers hand you literature on their candidates right before you go in to vote.

  • The Haunting Presence of Tyree
  • Vote for Jeb

    Good interview, Odenson.

  • Cool dude! I like his attitude about ‘cross-polination’ around merol and his working ethics. He sings pretty good too!

    Kudos to Randall for sharing this piece. You and John clearly fight the good fight promoting this genre in your area. This is a hard job, but you’re clearly making it for the good of the scene, not only for the power metal genre, but as a whole.

    I’m also supporter of butt stuff. So I support everything on this.

    • Vote for Jeb

      Link’s into butt stuff.

    • Thanks Link, i can always count on you to enjoy my power metal stuff that I share! <3

  • Paddlin’ Rites ov Beargod

    Good interview, good bands, disappointing choice of a villain to write about.

    • Who else did you wanted to talk about? The Beargod? geez!

    • Personally I would have chosen Hitler, very under-represented in historical fiction/drama

      • Vote for Jeb

        We could also use more media about Caligula and Nero.

      • How many people did Pol Pot murder just to be so shamefully left out of the “Horrific Person” bracket?

        • Stockhausen

          Dude, I read extensively about Cambodian genocide and the Khmer Rouge a few months back. I really have no idea how he isn’t more talked about in these sorts of discussions.

          • Vote for Jeb

            It’s terrible.

          • THIS IS WHAT I AM SAYING. Not nearly enough Pol Pot shittin’ round these parts.

          • KJM

            Part of me really wants to say it’s because Pol Pot wasn’t killing White people like Hitler and Stalin were, but it can’t be that simple, can it?

          • I think it’s just most folks don’t know about the Khmer Rouge? I dunno, you could be right.

          • KJM

            Many Americans just wanted to forget about that part of the world after the mid 70s and the disaster that was the Vietnam War.

          • more beer

            Well we are sore losers.

          • Vote for Jeb

            There could be some willful ignorance there as we try to forget dropping napalm on Cambodia and the My Lai massacre.

          • KJM

            And the difference between that war and our recent ones was that you saw the worst of it on the news every night back then. Now you only get the sanitized, happy version of “War” on TV.

          • more beer

            I`m sure you remember the footage then compared to now. Soldiers blown up every night on the news then. Now they act like it`s kinder gentler war.

          • KJM

            I’m barely old enough to remember the difference in coverage style.

          • more beer

            Being a little older than you I remember seeing all the really sick footage they would show every night.

          • more beer

            Seeing as to how we weren`t supposed to be there in the first place. Might have a little to do with that.

          • I didn’t even know about the Armenian Genocide until I joined a band with an Armenian drummer. I’m not sure I want to know how many other awful world events I’ve missed

          • Vote for Jeb

            Man, that’s all System of a Down have talked about.

          • You act like I listened to that poser stuff

          • Óðinn

            I think you’re right. Most our our Western history and stories are taught from a Eurocentric point of view.

            Even of you look at popular media, a story about Hitler would sell, whereas a story about Pol Pot wouln’t necessarily be of interest to American audiences.

            It’s not necessarily overtly racist, because most of us don’t really realize that it happens that way. Ignorance more than racism I guess.

          • Stockhausen

            THAT GUY SUCKS, LET’S GET HIM.

          • KJM

            Fuck that guy.

          • more beer
        • Lacertilian

          Jello Biafra remembers

      • Paddlin’ Rites ov Beargod

        At least Hitler was undoubtedly a villain. Get me not wrong, I’d love an album ’bout Robert E Lee. Just seems a little lame to choose him when you might have taken someone more villain-like villain.

        • Sir Tapir The Based :]

          You want the villain of all villains? Fucking Dinkleberg.

          • ME GORAK B.C.™

            GORAK NOT KNOW “DINKLEBERG”!!!!!

          • Paddlin’ Rites ov Beargod

            Fucking fuck. Simo Salminen went and died. Motherfucker.

          • Sir Tapir The Based :]

            WHAT? YOU’RE LYING!

          • Paddlin’ Rites ov Beargod

            Nope. Deceased September 2.

          • Sir Tapir The Based :]

            GODDAMMIT! GOD FUCKING DAMMIT!

          • Paddlin’ Rites ov Beargod

            Pretty much my thoughts. Or exactly, actually.

          • Sir Tapir The Based :]

            We have to get Vesku and freeze him! They can’t all die!

          • Paddlin’ Rites ov Beargod

            We have to act fast, he’s not looking good!

            It’s the talk about Turhapuro remakes that kills them.

          • Sir Tapir The Based :]

            Wowowowowowow! Hold your horses! Turhapuro remakes? The fuck is this shit all about?

          • Paddlin’ Rites ov Beargod

            I don’t know actually. I just saw Vesku getting all angry about it some days ago in some grade z magazine.

          • Sir Tapir The Based :]

            Who the fuck thought that it would be a good idea? Don’t touch Vesku, you fucks!

          • Paddlin’ Rites ov Beargod

            It’s all gone down to hell. Might as well end it while I can.

          • Sir Tapir The Based :]

            Simo is dead, possible Turhapuro remakes, Aku Hirviniemi is fucking everywhere. This is the future I never wanted to live in.

          • Paddlin’ Rites ov Beargod

            Let’s fucking die.

          • Culinary Cunilengus

            Who?

          • Paddlin’ Rites ov Beargod

            A well known Finnish all-around entertainer. Best known as an actor and a “humour-singer”

          • Culinary Cunilengus

            Might have to check out his stuff sometime.

          • Paddlin’ Rites ov Beargod

            Personally I’m into his movie-work, from which you won’t understand crap, but I suppose it’s worth a laugh or two.

  • KJM

    OT: Of course this is being screened thousands of miles away. It’s not like I’ve wanted to see this version for over 25 years or anything. Feh.

    http://beyondfest.com/portfolio/the-devils/

    • The Haunting Presence of Tyree

      I’ve actually never seen this.

      • KJM

        It’s only available on DVD in The UK and that’s only the R-rated version.You’ll either need to do the torrent thing or get a disc player that’ll do PAL. You MUST see it.

        • The Haunting Presence of Tyree

          Yeah, looks pretty twisted. I’ll have to look for it sometime.

          • KJM

            I want to tie down JJD, feed him 500 mcg of Acid, and make him watch this.

            You want blasphemy? There’s more of it in any given 5 minutes of The Devils than on 1000 BM songs.

          • The Haunting Presence of Tyree
          • KJM

            This performance should’ve won Vanessa Redgrave a host of Awards.

          • The Haunting Presence of Tyree

            Now I really want to see it. I see Guillermo del Toro was pretty upset with the Warner Bros.Censorship of the movie.
            http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/news/guillermo-del-toro-slams-warner-752240

          • KJM

            “There are powers that be at Warner Bros. that refuse to allow the movie to be seen”. This is no exaggeration. The 80s VHS is the only official US release and it’s cut to ribbons.

          • The Haunting Presence of Tyree

            That sucks man. Do you have the original cut of the movie or the download file of it?

          • KJM

            You can download the BFI release off Pirate Bay. It’s still not the original cut but it’s the best you can get easily.

          • more beer

            His next stop after that will be the mental hospital at Westchester Medical Center.

          • KJM

            Indeed. Perhaps I should give him 0.25 gm of MDMA instead.

          • more beer

            I wouldn`t waste my drugs on someone who wouldn`t appreciate them!

          • Sir Tapir The Based :]

            Give him one marijuana. That’s strong enought to kill a man.

          • The Haunting Presence of Tyree
          • KJM

            Mine would say “Eh, fuck him. He’ll wake up in time for Game Of Thrones” and go play Pogo games.

          • The Haunting Presence of Tyree

            Or Aqua Teen. RIP.

          • KJM

            NOOOOOOOO

          • more beer

            I just took a big hit . Should I be dead? I don`t think I`m dead. Nope just stoned.

          • Sir Tapir The Based :]

            R.I.P in peace more beer. He left too early.

          • The Haunting Presence of Tyree
          • more beer

            You`re getting a little carried away!

          • The Haunting Presence of Tyree
          • more beer

            It was the sudden stop that killed him!

          • The Haunting Presence of Tyree

            Ok… Jeez, Drink more beer.

          • more beer

            Always!

          • The Haunting Presence of Tyree

            I’ll be in Cleveland this weekend. Going to check out Great Lakes Brewing company.

          • more beer

            Nice. I love go to the various brewery`s here there are a lot of them. Do they have a tour of the place? I`m thinking about heading to one now.

          • The Haunting Presence of Tyree

            Not sure. I’m sure they do though. I’m going Sunday so I’ll have to check out their website and see what they offer.

          • more beer

            I always like doing those. I`m going to check out a few when I`m in California next month for death fest. But I will wait until I get out there to decide what ones. My brother in law is also a huge beer snob. He will point me in the right direction.

          • Dude…

          • KJM

            “I Hate Your Dead Gay Son” – yet another A.C. outtake found under a stack of decayed Hustler magazines

          • The Haunting Presence of Tyree

            Hahaha! Nice!

          • more beer

            Nah stoned not dead. But thanks for the epitaph.

          • Sir Tapir The Based :]

            So when you smoke marijuana you get stoned to death?

          • more beer

            That`s a little to biblical for me. Death isn`t one of the effects of smoking weed.

          • Sir Tapir The Based :]

            Incorrect. In Finland there’s a guy whose pet gerbil died of kannabis overdose.

          • more beer

            They don`t even use gerbils in medical testing. Not a good example. Plus who even has gerbils as pets?

          • Culinary Cunilengus

            In the Middle East, yes.

          • Culinary Cunilengus
          • more beer

            That`s funny. As I`m kind of an asshole in real life.

          • KJM

            Not a whole Marijuana surely? That’s far too strong for JJD.

          • CT-12

            Dude, I ate like, 2 whole pots last night. It hurt and I didn’t get high at all.

          • Culinary Cunilengus

            You should stick to eating pans, then.

          • Culinary Cunilengus
          • Culinary Cunilengus

            Then he’ll start bugging you to rub him down with baby oil and Vapo Rub.

          • KJM

            Good point. LSD and Ketamine it is, then.

          • more beer

            I`ve done this combination. Everything turned digital. It was a winning combination!

          • Culinary Cunilengus
          • more beer

            That was way more than anyone needs to picture in their head.

          • Culinary Cunilengus

            Or he might end up going nuts and carving himself up like the guy from A Haunting In Connecticut.

            http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-eZw-12owBxo/VE_DXOO5PbI/AAAAAAAAcmg/CRmXgTeG96Q/s1600/haunting%2Bin%2Bconnecticut.jpg

    • Vote for Jeb

      Ha, I guess other forms of media are just as prone to hyperbole in their press kits as metal.

      • I felt shocked only reading it!

      • KJM

        The hype for this movie is 100% real. It’s an all time favorite.

        • Vote for Jeb

          I was talking more about the “since it first obliterated organized religion” line. That sounds like a bio we’d get from an underground metal band.

          • Stockhausen

            Hahahahaha.

          • Culinary Cunilengus

            Sounds about as bad as the constant use of ‘dance floor smasher’ that industrial/EBM bands would use when I’d get promos/press sheets from them. (I’m looking at you, Metropolis Records!)

    • JJM

      ToH movie date!

  • EsusMoose

    Seems to be a cool guy, enjoyed the neckbeard stage attire comment, also listen to Judicator’s album or just sit there and not listen to it. Yeah.

    • Lacertilian

      Dagon!

  • Phoenix of the House Tendies

    He forgot the trench coats and katanas. Pfft, noob.

    Great interview Randall. Dude is really impressive to juggle those three bands like he does. Judi made a pretty kickass album this year.

  • Vote for Jeb

    He needs to relocate Judicator to Germany. Wacken always has a buttload of German bands playing.

  • Culinary Cunilengus

    Kickass interview! Love his stuff with Disforia (who I voted for earlier, btw) and Judicator.

  • JJM

    stellar interview, @disqus_9CmX83EGqz:disqus! will check these out (see what you’re doing to me?!?!)

  • J.R.™

    Hey Disforia! Why didn’t you ask him about how happy he is to be in the Toilet 50?

    • Did the interview before I knew that information 😉

  • Biskiss

    John here, didn’t mean to say Robert E. Lee is a villain, certainly not, just that he could be a potentially polarizing figure to write about, like Napoleon or any other character

    • JJM

      hey dude, great voice!!

  • CT-12

    Killer interview Randall, I really need to check out Judicator since I liked Disforia when you first had posted about them. Thanks!

  • tigeraid

    I fucking love his work in Judicator.