Interview: Hero’s Last Rite

After discovering Hero’s Last Rite while doing my research form the Thrash Metal episode of the Iron Club, I was intrigued by the little heavy band from Fredericton, New-Brunswick. After exchanging a few emails, I got my first phone interview with singer Steve McDonald and here is the transcription of that phone interview.


JP Bernier : “I’m with Steve McDonald, frontman of Hero’s Last Rite, a band from New-Brunswick. Hi Steve, how are you?”

Steve Mcdonald : “I’m good and you?”

JP : “I’m pretty good, thank you. So, you guys formed in 2008?”

SM : “Yeah”

JP : “If there was one question you were tired  to be asked, which one would it be?”

SM : “One question that I would be tired to be asked? Hum… Well, I mean, we are not some huge big name, it’s not like we get asked too many questions but, when we do get interviewed, I guess that the one that is asked the most is when the new music’s coming out? Which is not something that I’m tired of hearing. I understand that people want to hear it but I think that’s the one [question] that we get asked the most.”

JP : “Okay, and what would be the answer to that question so people would stop asking it?”

SM : “ Typically, we are always working on music. We put out albums and by the time the album comes out, we already have two, three songs on the go. So we typically like to have maybe a two years span between albums, it used to be longer but we kind of shorten that up between the last few albums just because we are doing everything on our own, so we aren’t on anybody’s timeline. We basically tell them [the fans] that it’s coming, so people are starting to know that, in 2 years, the new album will be coming out.”

JP : “So it’s for soon? Since the last album came out in 2017.”

SM : “It will definitely be 2019, probably the end of summer or the fall for the brand new album.”

JP : “So I discovered you guys during my research for our Thrash themed-show on the Iron Club, and I had no idea how many bands were from the Maritimes. How is the metal scene in the Maritimes  for an outsider like me?”

SM : “It’s phenomenal! There is a lot of bands in general. Not just in the metal genre but there is a lot of rock bands, punk bands and stuff like that but, as far as the metal genre, it’s quite alive and well. We are actually doing a tour in May with three other populars bands ; Discord from Moncton, Death Valley Driver from  Prince-Edward-Island and Orchid’s Curse from Halifax and us, doing a kind of a four city run over a two weekend period. We did it twice before and it has always been successful so we are doing that again. But, even in our home town, there is probably four or five good working consistent bands, Moncton has a really good scene as well as Halifax, Charlottetown and Prince-Edward-Island. There is no shortage of bands,  I think one thing that there is a shortage of is the shortage of venues, I think everybody suffer from that, in their city at some point, venues open and close. But like I said, the is no shortage of great bands in our neck of the woods.”

JP : “ So you always have new music coming up and you are always rocking to some jams.”

SM : “Oh yeah! Absolutely, yeah!”

JP : “So a lot of your members were ex-members of Obsidian Reign. Was it the origin of Hero’s Last Rite and, if not, how Hero’s Last Rite came to be?”

SM : “Obsidian Reign started in 2003, it was myself and Mike Davidson who plays guitar for us and and other fellow that was on the drums and we played  the three of us and then, our old bass player, Paul Vidal, was in it as well and then, 6 months into 2003, we got Dan Rogers, our current drummer. So we did that for about 5 years and there was another fellow in the band playing guitar, we splitted with him and he moved away and we then just decided to kinda break away from Obsidian Reign, change our sound pretty drastically, just a different kind of approach with the way we wrote music, that was in 2008. After that, Tim Gorman, who was with the band from about 10 years, I met in in 2009 and he left last year, on good terms. He wanted to focus on other things. That put us as a four-piece, Paul Vidal leaving 4 years ago, and we are in the process on writing our first album as a four-piece. It’s going good, the music kinda got a little bit of a change to it, we are focusing on not being as heavy or brutal kind of our last album or the one before that. I’m changing a little bit of my singing stuff, more clean singing, stuff like that. That’s where we are in 2019.”

JP : “ So a lot of great stuff coming up then! You talked about the change in the writing process between Obsidian Reign to Hero’s Last Rite, so what is the writing process with Hero’s Last Rite?”

SM : “ With us right now, it’s very collaborative between all four of us. Mike, our guitar player, writes all of the music, he will bring the ideas to us and usually, it’s either the full song will be done and no work is needed or little tweaks needed will be done or we will just completely rearrange the whole thing but he is definitely is the primary music writer. He brings everything to the table and we just work on it, practicing kinda hammering it out and tweaking it as we kinda see fit and then I throw lyrics over it, then we hammer it out and usually, after a couple of practice, it’s good to go!”

JP : “So it’s pretty simple.”

SM : “Yeah, it’s simple. After 17 years of working together, we know each other and the way we work, It helps.”

JP :  “After 17 years, it a good thing to be able to understand each other.”

SM : “ Yeah!”

JP : “So you guys are having a lot of shows in the Maritimes, did you do any shows outside of New-Brunswick, Moncton and the like?”

SM : “Yeah, well, with Hero’s Last Rite, we haven’t. With Obsidian Reign, we did get to Montreal and Toronto. We played down there a couple of times. Not to say we don’t want to, it’s hard, we all have wives and kids and houses and all that, not to use it as an excuse but it’s just kind of the way it is with getting time off from work now to go on trips like that. It’s not something that is out of the realms of possibility cause we all say that we want to do it, it’s just a matter  of booking the show and we know people in those areas, like in Montreal, in Toronto and in Ottawa. So who knows? WE always say this time around, we’ll go, we’ll make it to Montreal, we have friends of ours that goes to Montreal all the time, like Discord out of Moncton. They’re in Montreal and Ontario almost every year so it may be an option to ride on their coattails. I don’t know, we all talked about it over a beer but whether it happens or not is a possibility.”

JP : “Something to look up to in a near future.”

SM : “ Absolutely!”

JP : “What do you think would your most popular song, as of right now?”

SM : “Our most popular songs would be the ones that we did  the videos for. Viral Judgement off our Mirror’s Face album usually get a pretty good pop at shows, because people are a little familiar with it because there is an official video up for it. And I’m Atomic, we have a video for that, we don’t really play that one anymore live, we haven’t in a couple years but that always get a good pop. Those two, Viral Judgement and Generation Why off of Mirror’s Face are probably two of our more popular ones.”

JP : “ Why do you think they are more popular than the others?”

SM : “They’re quite catchy, quite accessible. If you just feel like going and banging your head to a metal song, those ones are gonna do it. They allow the headbang to pretty easily, it’s just the beat, I don’t know how that works but they just seem to be the ones that get the most pop whenever we play them.”

JP : “My favorite of yours is Wasted Prayers, it’s the one i played on the show for our Thrash episode. I just wanted to know what is the meaning behind the song. I have looked up the lyrics, but I couldn’t quite find the meaning.”

SM : “When I write lyrics, I like to do my own lyrics and then, everybody else kinda pull their own meaning out of it. That one, it’s more or less calling out people who try to be holier than now, they present this persona of themselves being good religious persons yet, will stab you in the back at the first moment they get. So it’s basically calling out those people. I’m not really a religious person, I respect people that are religious. It’s not a call out to religion itself, it’s a callout to people that claim to be very pious and religious and yet turn around and don’t act as a person. That where that song is coming from.”

JP : “Is the religious scene in New-Brunswick and in the Maritimes big? Because in Quebec, it’s been in decline for 10 years now.”

SM : “I don't know. [laughs] I have no idea. I don’t follow the scene too well. My parents are religious but I kind of  stepped away from that when I became an adult. I don’t know, I guess? there are churches everywhere.”

JP : “ So it would be a good research to do?”

SM  : “ Exactly, to see what the numbers are!”

JP : “Now, a more sillier question. If you were a Disney character, which one would you be and why?”

SM : “ Well, I would like to think that I would be Goofy, because he seems like he has a good time and gets away with it.”

JP : “That’s true! My last question is what can you expect from the new album that might be coming around in the spring of 2019 or the summer of 2019?”

SM : “It’s a little bit different, we went a different root with this one. It’s not going to be as  brutal and heavy, my singing is is gonna have very little growly stuff, maybe some background vocals will be kinda growls but the main vocal that I’m doing are very clean in a vein of Tool, that kind of clean. I’ve drawn a lot of inspiration for my vocals from bands like Tool and singers like Russell Allen from Symphony X. Not that i can sing like that but the way he present his vocals style and the way he plays with his own voice with almost a falsetto, it’s something that I’m really trying to capture with this one. As far as the guitar work, it slowed down a little bit but it still got a heavy undertone. If I can compare it to something, we are trying to be like Tool or that kind of band, not regarding the time signatures but being clean with heavy undertone.”

JP : “Do you have anything else to add ?”

SM : “Oh, just thanks so much for the support! We really appreciate it. It’s always great when someone from another province reaches out to us so we really thank you for that.”

JP : “Well, I thank you for being the most welcoming band, it’s not the word I’m looking for but it’s the only one that comes to mind. You guys were great. I didn’t believe it when you kept replying to my emails back to back.”

SM : “It’s too bad that more bands don’t do that! [laughs]

JP : “You were the most reponsive bands of the ones i contacted for Metal March. You guys are awesome!”

SM : “Great, great! Well, we appreciate it and if there is anything you need from us in the future or whatever, we will definitely support you guys, show you guys on our page and such.”

JP : “So if I go on a trip in the Maritimes, I’ll come visit you guys!”

SM : “Yeah, send us an email, absolutely! I’ll put you up in the house, I’ve got a great big house.”

JP : “Alright, thank you”

SM : “Thank you, talk to you later!”


JP Bernier is the Co-Host of The Iron Club, airing on Wednesdays at 3pm.