Interview with Camden Cruz, Seven Kingdoms - August 2010

Seven Kingdoms, a new band to me and quite possible to most our readers as well - could you please introduce yourself and tell a bit about your background?

Seven Kingdoms started off as a fun project by myself (Camden Cruz) and our old vocalist, Bryan Edwards. We ended up putting out an album recording everything at my, at the time, makeshift home studio. The production on our end wasn't really that great, but we finished the vocals, mixing and mastering at Morrisound. So it didn't come out sounding too bad considering how we recorded it, haha. After some shows we decided to get serious with it and really give it a full chance. At this time Bryan and some other members decided to leave and live life. This is where we got Sabrina and Miles. We started writing something a little more cohesive and in more of a "new direction" if you will. What you have on the new CD is just that, and a path that we hope to grow in and make it better every time.

What kind of hopes and expectations do you have for 'Seven Kingdoms'?

Well as far as the bands concerned, I want to take over the world... Honestly! It probably will never happen in the industry and genre that were in, but I would really love to see Seven Kingdoms become the next staple power metal band. I want this band to become the USA's top power metal export! I guess a more realistic goal (while still keeping that other one in mind at all times, haha) is to grow as a band, see the world, and hopefully one day be able to quit our day jobs and really do what we love.....make and play good music!

As far as the album 'Seven Kingdoms', we really wanted to work together on all the songs as a whole this time around. Most of the first record I did myself in kind of a rush. So I didn't have time to really look at the little things that make a band a professional band. It was just a project then. We still write away from everyone but we bring those ideas to everyone. Countless times during rehearsals for this record something just happens. One of those oh my god, that little thing you added really puts the icing on the cake kind of stuff... Also this was Sabrina's Debut. So we wanted to make some of the melodies as catch as possible and really be sure the vocals were great.

We wanted to remake our debut album with this one and really show the world what we are capable of when we become serious and really try. And that's the way it is from here on out!

How does the final result compare to the idea you had going into the studio?

We were thoroughly practiced before we went to the studio. We had several months to bury ourselves in the practice unit and do what Iced Earth calls "marathon practices" I think we were playing through the whole album non stop 4-5 times a rehearsal. This really paid off in the studio, lots of stuff on that album are one takers. Thus saving us some money! The final result pretty much surpassed anything I or anyone else ever thought it would be. This just sets our sights higher for the next record.

You have recorded the album in the famous Morrisound Studios, with the guidance of a producer, or have you done it all yourselves?

Lets start by saying that Jim Morris is a living musical deity. I personally have worked with him twice before this record, so it was really easy to prepare everyone for their first time here. He is the easiest person to work with, and I refuse to record with anyone else until the day they close their doors. Jim is a workaholic like us. We recorded this album in 9, 15 hour sessions. Jim puts his opinions in and usually we take them because they are always great ideas. He helps iron out the very small kinks. He is our 6th member of the band when it comes to recording a record. I think we make a pretty good team.

The artwork is very 'true metal'-like, on purpose...? What do you want to express with the artwork?

Well lets just start saying that the artwork really didn't turn out the way we wanted it to. Its kind of close and at the same time not at all. Don't get me wrong its still way better than some other bands who have really terrible quality artwork, but its still not what we had in our heads. It was supposed to show a torn battle field with a battered "Ara" the guardian of the Seven Kingdoms after the major war. Sun shown through the castle to represent a new hope or a new beginning in the lyrics and as a band.

Can you give us a brief introduction on the lyrical concept behind 'Seven Kingdoms'?

Most of our lyrics are just open minded ways of saying you can do what you put your mind to. You have the freedom to choose your own path... to not have anyone tell you, you cant do something. I live my life by this and it has worked out pretty well so far!

The song Vengeance by the Sons of a King is actual Scandinavian history about Ivar the boneless. A pretty brutal story sung by sweet ole Sabrina! Haha I always get a kick out of the chorus when she's singing about the blood eagle in such a sweet voice.

The Ones Who Breathe The Flame and Seven Kingdoms are our fantasy songs. I came up with a fantasy concept that just lays a general idea for a story on this album. I hope to touch more on these stories as future albums progress. I highly doubt you will see a full concept album based on this. However, more songs in the future will further elaborate on the stories from this CD. Soooo stay tuned!

Seven Kingdoms - any deeper meaning behind your name?

Bryan was reading the "A Song of Ice and Fire" series by George RR Martin. So the whole first album is based off of this. Blind Guardian actually just did some stuff about that book series to so I'm thrilled to say we did it first! Haha! Seven Kingdoms was apparently the name of the land which the books take place. When Bryan left, we were forced to stick with the name without any of the knowledge of the books.... Thus creating our own little fantasy stories to tie the name together for the band and keep things going.

You are releasing this album on the Nightmare Records label, one of the leading underground metal labels - how did you hook up with them and do you see this as an advantage?

Claus, Hoyt, Lars, and Glenn at Intromental Management and booking have done wonders for us since they picked us up. We have tons of things coming up on our plate already for later this year and beyond. They landed our deal with Nightmare. We actually almost got scooped up with a big label, but turns out we still needed more time to get our "feet wet" from what they said.

Nightmare has been great so far. I mean it's an indie label so there is no real "support" if you will, but this will definitely get way more attention than what we could have done by ourselves. It was the best opportunity we had given to us when we signed. Lance is a very hard working guy and so far we are doing very will with our promotional downloads for the European Release August 24th. Lets just hope the CD sells and it spreads like wildfire!!!

What does the words power metal mean to you?

Happiness, Freedom, and a sense of family and brotherhood. This is our life. To do this right it consumes you. Power metal has become our blood type. If it were not here this band would not be here, or the many friendships that spawned from it. Its very tough to do this kind of music in the USA. In a market controlled by artists that have to be auto tuned to synthetic pop beats, we as a genre get looked over. When we get to see the small pockets of real power metal fans here in the US it just makes us feel like were home from a long trip of people telling you that you cant play this music and get anywhere. This is who we are.

Name five power metal albums that have made a big impact on today's scene and you personally...

Blind Guardian - A Night at the Opera. My first Blind Guardian song was And Then There Was Silence! Personally I look at these guys when we have a chorus we want to make huge. I always ask myself, What would Guardian do?

Edguy - Hellfire Club/Mandrake. I remember the first time I heard King of Fools. It was on repeat for a solid two weeks everyday all day. Edguy is the catchiest power metal band to me with some of the best sing-a-longs in the genre today. Whenever were trying to make something catch we usually start here for influence sprinkled with a bit of Guardian J

Iced Earth/Jon Shaffer - The best rhythm guitarist ever as dubbed by Jim Morris... "This guy has ears like a dog". This band has probably been the biggest influence to me with my rhythm playing. Iced Earth has some of the best sounding records out there and I just so happens we live 3 hours away from that studio. How fast can you gallop and how tight can you get it..... In the words of our drummer, we like to play as tight as a crabs ass, and that's air tight!

Sonata Arctica/Jani Liimatainen - I don't care what anyone says, I really don't care for the new Sonata Arctica. I truly believe they lost something when they got rid of Jani... or whatever happened to him. His solos are completely different than any other guitarist alive. He can play 3 or 4 notes and make them sound better and more memorable than any other guitarist. I like to write guitar solos or leads that will be memorable. I used to just play as fast and shred as crazy as I could but it was lacking the one most important thing... MELODY. You can hum back anything he plays instantly, and thatís what I like to do with my part of the solos.

Savage Circus - Basically to me this is just a more aggressive version of Blind Guardian to me. I really wish Hansi could sing in this band because then it would be perfect to me. Hell even throw Jon Schaffer in there too! I can never get enough Guardian so this gives me the extra Epic that I need .

Thank you very much for answering my questions. Do you have any last rants for our readers?

Thank you for your time and interest! We really hope that you guys enjoy the music and that the word starts spreading! We're a power metal band from the USA and want some European Respect and Support. That's going to be very tough. Just know our hearts are in the right place! Please keep your eyes peeled as we have some big things coming up for Seven Kingdoms!!!

Interviewed by Kenn Jensen

Seven Kingdoms - Seven Kingdoms

Album available on Nightmare Records.