The next big thing to hit the metal community is Ghost Ship Octavius! This metal powerhouse is comprised of Matthew Wicklund (God Forbid, HIMSA) on guitars, Van Williams (Ashes of Ares, ex-Nevermore) on drums and vocalist Adōn Fanion. This heavy trio combines the aggression of metal with the catchy vibes of rock. This results in a sound – as well as a band – that is truly unforgettable.
Ghost Ship Octavius is currently holding a Kickstarter campaign for their debut album. Almost halfway to their goal, this campaign will allow them to record and release their album. With material available to the listeners, this will help them achieve greater goals such as touring. The campaign has several perks, and they range from receiving the album to even receive a meet & greet with the band. With lots of doors opening for this band, this is definitely a group you’ll want to pay attention to!
The Age of Metal was able to speak with Matthew Wicklund. In the interview Wicklund discusses the history of Ghost Ship Octavius and more information concerning the Kickstarter.
The Age of Metal: Explain how Ghost Ship Octavius came about.
Matthew Wicklund: Ghost Ship Octavius started in the summer of 2012. It initially came about when Chris Amott moved to the United States after leaving Arch Enemy and we started hanging out and discussing playing together in a project. At first we got together to play material from Chris’ solo album Impulses and we put a band together with Van Williams (drummer of Nevermore, Ashes of Ares, Pure Sweet Hell) to play Loud Park Festival in Japan that October. When we returned, we decided to keep it going and start writing. Soon after things started coming together and we found Adōn Fanion through an online audition process, Chris decided to leave to focus his time on a new Armageddon album instead. We kept things going as a three piece and really got focused and developed a really unique vision and sound that we named Ghost Ship Octavius.
TAOM: From listening to the song Saturn and Skies, I can tell you definitely have a unique sound. What is the songwriting process like? What more can listeners expect as far as your style is concerned?
MW: Thank you! We really wanted to make something original and interesting…something very musical and dynamic with its own identity that has all of the things that we love about metal music in one package! The songwriting process is pretty straight forward. I generally write a skeleton of a song and roughly arrange it and record it in my home studio and then send it to Van and Adōn. Van interprets what I have started and does his drum magic and sends recorded drum files and then Adōn writes lyrics and vocal melodies and sends me recordings of those. Then I mix them all together, try a few different arrangements and it’s all done! It works very efficiently actually. We speak every day also and discuss creative ideas so we are always working and communicating very closely. People can expect a very diverse album. It covers a lot of ground from dark and aggressive to epic and inspiring. There are characteristics that are present in each song and make everything sound cohesive, but we are certainly a dynamic group. The music is fairly progressive in nature but there is still enough of a rock n’ roll structure there to make things really memorable. I think it’s safe to say that there will be a lot of tasty guitar solos in there as well!
TAOM: The name “Ghost Ship Octavius” is unique. How did you come up with that name?
MW: Good question! I was banging my head against the wall after going through hundreds of band name possibilities and they were all either used or totally uninspiring and bland. I wanted something different. I was talking to my friend in New York City that I was running a toy business with and he made a reference to a situation we were in — comparing it to a ship with no captain. This led me to the ‘Ghost Ship’ mental image…that lead to a Google search…that lead to the legend of the Ghost Ship Octavius. I was inspired! That was it! It is a cool story about a ship that got lost in the mid 1700’s passing through the Northern Passage in the Arctic. It was thought to be lost forever and was then found thirteen years later passing by Greenland by a fishing vessel. They boarded the Octavius to find the entire crew frozen solid, in place as if they were frozen in time. The captain even still had his pen in hand, writing the final Captain’s Log. I saw limitless artistic possibilities with this idea and it got our creative minds really moving. Nerdy!!! Hahaha!
TAOM: You guys are currently getting a big Kickstarter going. What do you think the benefits of the Kickstarter are?
MW: We certainly are! We decided to go the completely independent route on this one. No record label, just us and the fans. We saw crowd funding as an opportunity to take complete ownership of the band and to have a way to cut out the middle man and connect directly with the fans. It requires a lot more work on our end but the potential rewards are many! We can call the shots this way and we will get out of it what we put in. It’s nice to feel this close connection and ownership of all that we do too. It’s more personal this way. This doesn’t come without risks though! We had to put ourselves out there and take a big risk. We need to raise $15,000 in order to fund the recording costs and to get all of the albums and merchandise manufactured so that we can see it all out to everyone. There will be no profit made on this, but it will get us in motion where we can get moving as a new band with an album and give us something to take out on tour! I really love this way of doing it and the fans have been showing that they are with us as well! We are currently at 40% of our goal and we have just over twenty days left to hit the mark. It’s an all or nothing deal so we REALLY need the fans and supporters to get behind this and push it over the top. All of you guys out there can have a hand in making this a reality and get some really cool original music and merchandise in the process. It’s exciting! Let’s make this happen together!
TAOM: I noticed some of the pledges include fan participation, including a meet & greet with the band and even a chance for the band to have a guest appearance on the backers’ album. Why do you feel it’s important to have that fan participation?
MW: I think it creates a really powerful personal relationship with the fans! I have always loved the feeling of support and community that metal music gave me. It connects people. It feels good!
TAOM: Will you be distributing your music independently? Or do you plan on signing with a label?
MW: Right now the plan is going as independent as possible. At some point, we will need to choose a means of distribution for the physical albums but there are many choices and even many indie metal labels out there that are great and may be interested in working out a distribution deal with us. We will already have the master recording in hand so it shouldn’t be too difficult to work out those details and still maintain the independent nature of the band.
TAOM: You mention recording at Robert Lang Studios and working with Grammy-nominated producer Neil Kernon on the Kickstarter. Why do you feel these are the best to work with (aside from Kernon being nominated for a Grammy)?
MW: Yes, that’s right! Neil Kernon is a very eclectic and accomplished producer that we all respect very much. He has worked with bands such as Nevermore, Cannibal Corpse, Nile and even Hall & Oates! Since Van was in Nevermore, there was a good history there with Neil. They did three great albums together and are personal friends. I played the music for Neil a few months back and he was excited about it and committed to doing the debut record with us. We are really excited about working with him because we know he will push us and help us to get the best possible recording. Robert Lang Studios is a well known studio here in Seattle and has one of the best Drum Rooms in the business. Getting a great drum sound is key for a solid album so we definitely want to get in there and get that magic sound on this album!
TAOM: Is there anything else you would like to share aside from the Kickstarter?
MW: Right now, the Kickstarter Campaign is the focus. We have the album written and we are ready to take the next steps. Reaching our goal is crucial and will set all of this into motion. If you guys dig it and believe in it as much as we do, we need to come together and push this over the top! We can do this!!!
TAOM: Should we expect GSO to be a performing and touring band?
MW: Absolutely! After the album is done and in your hands, we are going to work hard, get on tour and play this music all over the world for you guys! We have a lot of really cool things planned for the live show and we can’t wait to get out there and realize this dream to its fullest potential!!!
TAOM: Do you have a message for the fans?
MW: Thank all of you for the tremendous support! You all are the force that is going to make this all happen! Your excitement has been contagious and tremendously inspiring. Let’s keep building this together!!! We hope to see all of you in the GSO Crew very soon!