Tyranitar wants to tell you a story. Instead of playing you dark and heavy metal about hating everything and killing people, their songs focus around battles and events in history. We met with the metal bard of Rochester to talk about the stigmatizing of metal, naming a band, the problems of being a metal band in Rochester.
How did the Tyranitar get started?
Pat: The band was started by Matt and I. We had another guy who was going to sing vocals, and I was just going to play guitar. He left the band so I stepped in on vocals. After a few months of brutalizing my vocal chords, I learned to sing really deeply.
Matt: Pat was in a band with Jeff before this and I was in a band with a few other kids. We eventually talked about jamming together and playing death metal. We realized that a ton of metal bands in this city tune their instruments down deeply and sing about stupid crap. We decided we were going to keep in standard tuning and sing about brutal events in history.
Pat: We wanted to be modern day bards and sing about famous battles and warriors in history. I am all for songs about negativity or anti religion, but music is a lot more enduring when you are writing about something instead of just against something.
Matt: Before Jeff we had another drummer; Jeff came along to jam one practice and just hopped behind the drums and started jamming with us.
Casey: I just joined the band about two months ago. I haven’t played out in almost two years, I have been playing guitar, just not in a band or in front of people. Unbenounced to me I have spent the last to years looking like I belong in a band.
I’m a huge metal head, but the stuff that I listen to is melodic or folksy metal. Mainly because I am a dirty pagan and I like stories in my songs. So joining this band has been a fantastic choice for me.
How did you come up with the name?
Matt: it took us four weeks to come up with a name. Then one day I was playing Pokémon and realized that Tyranitar was an awesome name. It sounds like a tyrant dinosaur, which is just awesome.
Pat: The best part is that no one will know where the name came from. People will come up and say how evil the name sounds, then I tell them it is a Pokémon. When you Google our name only pictures of Pokémon come up. Our goal at this point is to get a cease and desist from the Pokémon Company.
What led you away from more of the death metal sound?
Pat: We didn’t, want to do what everyone else was doing. We will probably fall into one dumb niche where only five people actually get what we are trying to do. This is just what we wanted to do.
Jeff: I was surprised at the number of people that like what we are doing and support us. Punk bands like Endangered Youth have really come out to support us and really get into the metal.
Pat: I think it is a different message that what you usually hear. There are normally two types of American metal; songs are either the religious brutal songs or the “she broke up with me” songs.
Casey: I don’t think there is anything wrong with one style of metal or another, I think this city has a lot of one style of metal that many don’t deviate from and it just gets boring. What makes the story telling style epic is that the story itself is epic and it shows when you play music to it.
Matt: We saw a lot of bands that had concept genre and we wanted to play with that. We have songs from France, Egypt, Greece, and Nordic mythology; we want to keep playing with that.
Jeff: Pat has been an icon for the band; he is the big tall guy who wears pelts and kilts. We decided we can all become different warriors across history and basing designs around that. We want to represent what we sing about.
Do you think metal has been stigmatized?
Casey: I do, I have seen big national acts come through this city and play the backstage of Water Street and not even fill it. I don’t this town is a metal town, we have a decent metal and core scene, but it’s not a huge influence in the music scene.
You think it is hard to break people stereotype of metal?
Pat: I think people expect all metal to be guttural sounding and loud with no rhyme or reason to it. There is a way to have a deep voice and to create a certain sound with out loosing the vocals. There are too many bands where you have to open up the lyrics page on their album just to figure out what they are saying.
Jeff: It is hard to break the mold and get peoples attention with music. We have such a flooded scene to the point where it is hard to try something different, people expect to go to shows where all of the bands fit one specific style or genre.
Overall what do you think of the Rochester music scene?
Matt: I think bands are afraid to branch out and play with different genres of music and get stuck in a certain scene. There are two types of fans, you have fans that respect all genres in the scene and will go out to see good music no matter what type it is, or you have fans that will only stay for the one band they want to hear.
Casey: I think that is a big problem in metal in general, it is very easy to become elitist. I don’t see the point in being elitist, people will like what they like and it doesn’t matter what band is better than the other.
The scene in Rochester has the potential to grow so much more if people would open their views a lot more and become more excepting of music.