Interview with Yan Leviathan, Avian (November 3, 2005)

Hi, first off I just want to congratulate you on your new album. To new fans could your please fill us in on the history behind it all?
Yan -
Thank you. I met David Ellefson a few years ago when I was working on some songs I had written. He checked out what I was doing and liked it. We then agreed that he would play bass on my tunes and also produce the sessions. The whole thing started out as a solo project but very quickly it turned into a full band situation when singer Lance King joined in. We then had enough material for a full album and we continued working on it with full input from me, David, and Lance.

How has your new album been received by the media?
Yan -
Thus far we have received nothing but favourable remarks from not only the media but also the fans.

I know artists donĻt like to put a label on their music - but a spaceship from outer space has just landed in your backyard, and is demanding an answer - so how would you describe your music to an alien from another galaxy?
Yan -
It has all the elements that I enjoy from music: Melody, intelligence, beauty, passion, itís interesting, and most of all is straight from my soul.

If your music was an emotion, which one would it be?
Yan -

Who and what inspires you when you write a song? Walk us through the creation of a song?
Yan -
Usually Iíll come up with a cool riff and build from there. Iíll keep adding parts to it until I feel itís complete. Then, Iíll play around with the arrangement until it sounds good to me. I then make a demo of it on my computer and then listen to it over and over again until I get a song title. From there, I keep listening to it and wait for the lyrics to jump out at me.

Which subjects do your lyrics refer to, and who writes them? And what inspires you when you write your lyrics?
Yan - I grew up a huge fan of Sci-fi books and movies. Usually, my lyrics reflect that both on a conscience and sub-conscience level. Sometimes, Iíll have a really cool idea or title and Iíll write the lyrics around that.

Who has produced and mixed the album? Are you pleased with the result?
Yan -
David Ellefson and Lance King both produced the cd. Lance handled the mixing and Tommy Hansen took care of the mastering. I couldnít be happier with the result. How can you go wrong with any of those guys? I am very fortunate and thankful of having the honour of working with some of the most famous and well-respected guys in metal history.

Who has done the artwork? And how important do you feel it is to have a great cover?
Yan -
Mattias Noren - - was chosen for these duties and he did an absolutely fantastic job! To me, cd booklets are very important. As a fan, I always felt ripped off when I laid down my hard earned cash for a cd, and the booklet would be very generic and short. I told myself from day one, that the booklet has to be top notch, and thankfully it came out that way. Not only did Mattias create a breathtaking cover, he also made a couple more covers that were inspired by The Fear, and Queen of the Insane; they are in the booklet as well. This booklet is truly a wonderful piece of art and I couldnít be happier with the result.

Do you have any touring plans?
Yan -
Right now we are just sitting back while the cd is coming out and seeing what kind of response it generates. If everything goes well, and the majority of people that have listened to the cd like it, weíll look over the tour offers we get and hopefully find one that makes sense for us to do.

Letís speculate Ė you have been granted a free slot on a tour of your own choice Ė who would be your ideal touring partners?
Yan -
Itíd have to be a band that I respect and enjoy listening to. Also, they would need to have a good track record of being professionals on the road. That being said, I would love to tour with Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, Gamma Ray, Hammerfall, Edguy, Blind Guardian and others.

I would also love to be a part of a new band touring festival. There are so many new and great bands out there that simply canít afford to tour. Itíd be nice to see a package set up where some of these bands hit the road and get some much needed exposure.

How do you feel about the co-operation with your label?
Yan -
Massacre is a label that has been around for a while and has generated tons of respect in the music business. So when we had a chance to join this label and be a part of the family, we were very excited. Our work experience thus far has been nothing but positive.

The internet is a very important source for many metal fans Ė how do you use the internet and how important is it for you and other bands?
Yan -
It is extremely important; it allows us to reach people that otherwise we never could. In this day and age, all of the media outlets in the world are controlled by a handful of corporations. The only music that is being delivered by them is shallow and pointless; it is targeted for people that donít care enough about music to try and find something they like. They just turn on their radios or TVs and subject themselves to the garbage that is being forced fed to them. The internet is great because it allows the ones that do care the option of finding what theyíre looking for and us to deliver it to them. 

And how do you feel about the metal scene in general at the moment?
Yan -
The prog-power metal scene I feel is definitely in much better shape than it was even 5 years ago. There are a lot of young people that have discovered this music (from the internet mostly) and it strikes a chord with them. That inspires them to create their own music and thatís why weíre seeing an influx of great young bands. I feel itíll get better and better because we are no longer slaves to the corporations. We can create our own music without worrying about some talent-less business executive breathing down our necks because his label canít sell a gazillion amount of cds. Most of the prog-power labels have a mutual understanding and respect with their artists and it is reflected in the music. In fact, most of these labels (and management companies) are run by either musicians themselves, or at the very least, very knowledgeable music fans.

Which song do you consider to be the best one you have ever written?
Yan -
The best, I think, is "Time and Space Part I: City of Peace" . I feel that I really hit the target on that one. It is a very special song to me and I am very proud of how it came out. Lance did an absolutely magical job on vocals on that one. Coincidently, we have recently finished writing "Time and Space Part II" and it will be on the next cd. It is a 10-minute song that is just awesome!

Name an album, person or event that has had a huge influence on your life Ö and why?
Yan -
Iíll name all three ;-)

Album: Dream Theaterís "Scenes from a Memory". It is a cd that is pure magic from start to finish. It has everything that I love; melody, great lyrics, a captivating story line, and outstanding musicianship. Itís interesting; I am a huge Dream Theater and Rush fan but you donít hear it at all in my music.

Person: Outside of my wife and parents, Iíd have to say that the late Criss Oliva from Savatage was my greatest inspiration. I had the honour of seeing him play many times and will always cherish those memories. His style was so unique; he wrote the coolest guitar riffs ever!  

Event: Progpower USA III; that was the first time that bands like Gamma Ray, Edguy, and Blind Guardian had ever played in the U.S. That weekend was so unbelievably fantastic that it inspired me to create Avian as soon as I got back home.

Which music do you listen to at home?
Yan -
I have about 8000 songs on my computer and mp3 player, so I have tons of stuff to listen to ;-) Usually, Iíll have it playing on random. Lately, Iíve been listening to Gamma Rayís Majestic a lot. It is a great cd! Overall, I mostly listen to prog-power stuff. Although I do enjoy listening to classics like Boston , Triumph, Night Ranger, Rush and others.

Vinyl has had a small comeback lately Ė do you still prefer ďthe old soundĒ or are you a CD/DVD kind of guy?
Yan -
Iíve never gotten into vinyl. I definitely love the whole mp3 revolution. I love having my entire music collection everywhere I go. I always hear vinyl enthusiasts speaking of its superior sound quality. I can respect that, but itís a little difficult carrying thousands of LPís around with you ;-)

Last question - do you have any famous last words for our readers?
Yan -
Donít ever give up on your dreams. Life is supposed to be an enjoyable experience. So many people put themselves in horrible positions and suffer their entire lives. Be true to yourselves and try to do the right things; itíll pay off in the long run!

Avian - From the Depths of Time

Album out on Massacre Records.

Click on the album cover for more info on Avain.