PHOTO: Phantom Forge/Yelena Kamenetskaya
Can you give a brief summary of your vocal history -- how you started, who/what inspired you, and where you are now?
I’ve always loved singing. When I first discovered rock and metal around 2005 (12-years-old), I would try my best to imitate my idols so as to be like them. I formed my first band at 14, for which I was a background vocalist and got to semi-regularly use my voice. I remember specifically around when I was 20 I discovered my knack for extreme vocals (after trying to imitate Amon Amarth for days on end and not entirely sucking at it). I started my current band, Ice Giant, in 2015 and have been a vocalist in a major capacity for them the entire time.
Who would you consider to be your vocal idols now?
My biggest influences are Johan Hegg (Amon Amarth), John Kevil (Warbringer), Daniel Heiman (Lost Horizon), and Ronnie James Dio.
Aside from those, I would say I’m most impressed by my father [not literally], David Benites, not only for his talent but particularly for his range, which soars high into that delicious power metal range that I love so much. Other extreme vocalists that I’m keen on right now include Svencho (Aborted) and Vitriol (Anaal Nathrakh). Also a special shout-out to Daniel Wilson of Vivisepulture, another student of EVI and my good friend.
How long have you been a student at Extreme Vocal Institute?
About half a year now, which is plenty of time to pick up some good knowledge.
Since working with David at Extreme Vocal Institute, how have you seen yourself grow as a vocalist and a performer?
I love being able to perform extreme vocals, and EVI has shown me how to sustainably do so without hurting my self. I’m still learning more techniques on this, but what I’ve acquired so far has been hugely beneficial. Everything from proper breathing and stance, to how to control your throat muscles and shape your face so that you produce exactly the sound you want.
Also, I will take this time to tell everyone reading this to, if you want to be a performer in any regard but especially a vocalist, to go to the f&*^%$g gym. It will help your endurance so much and just make you feel good too.
Can you describe something that you’ve been working on at EVI?
My favorite thing we do is making my face resonate in all areas. My teeth, my jaw, my cheeks, my nose, and more. It’s beneficial to do this because, the more resonance = more volume, and therefore the less you have to push air through your throat. This makes singing easier without losing any volume and letting you perform for longer.
You’re the vocalist for melodic death metal band Ice Giant, can you talk a little bit about what you’ve been up to and what your plans are with the project?
So happy you asked. We are in the early planning stages for entering the studio for our 2nd full-length album. We have some wonderful ideas as to who to go to, but because these are not set in stone yet, I’ll talk about them at a later date. This album will be a bit of a departure from our first, which had a bit more of a U.S. Power Metal sound to it. This release will be for fans of Nevermore, Opeth, In Flames, and Revocation. Loaded with riffs, more mature composition, and fresh line-up to boot. I’ll take a second to point out that our new members are Zak King (formerly of Epicenter) on drums, and Beth McPherson, who is a student at Berklee College of Music, on bass.
We will also be playing some out-of-town shows soon; returning to places like NH, VT, and ME. Larger-scale plans may be in effect as well, but shhhh. We’ll have new merch to come with this new record too.
Be on the lookout for Ice Giant, we come with riffs in hand.
Do you have any advice to give to aspiring vocalists? Anything that you wish someone had said to you when you were starting?
Yes, again, go to the gym. Also, drink so much water. Soda is terrible, stop that. Honestly, I would just recommend, too, that folks get lessons as early as possible. Don’t learn bad habits, because it’s just as big a pain to unlearn those as it is to then learn the correct techniques.
Make sure you love what you do. I’ve seen performers that aren’t “into it” before and it’s so disappointing. I want to see you confidently owning the crowd and stage. Make me worship you.
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Interview conducted by Rilee Dubilo