by Nicky Baldrain FIREWORKS MAGAZINE
From Queens, New York, we find alternative rock trio METORANA, who have a extremely vigorous catchy fun new thirteen track CD out now called 'Sick Sad World' that runs in at just under forty five minutes long and is their debut album following a series of EP's. It is a concept album and the inspiration came from a deadly relationship that singer Ian Keller had been in for years, following his personal path, from being broken to eventually finding relief as well as absolution. Joining Ian in Metorana are Sam Allen – bass and Alex Hernandez – drums.
Singer and guitarist Ian Keller started the band in 2001 when he was twelve years old with drummer Alex Hernandez. They recruited bass player Sam Allen for the band's first gig which was for Ian's Sunday school graduation. Alex introduced him to some basic midi software and Ian has been writing and composing songs ever since. The guys practiced three times a week and played the New York City club circuit, and they eventually won a couple of battle of the bands and recorded a few EP’s with the money in NYC on Long Island. It wasn’t until Fenix Studios came along in 2012 that Metorana were able to work with a producer for the first time. "We actually took the song, Traitor, from that EP and remixed it for our debut album," explains Ian.
The guys all grew up together listening and evolving to the same music and their main influences and inspirations, in order, are The Offspring, Nirvana, Weezer, Metallica, Rage Against The Machine, Red Hot Chili Peppers, and Primus.
Outside music they don't have any other interests. "We were in a studio when I was sixteen out on Long Island, and there was a copy of SPIN magazine, and Rivers Cuomo of Weezer was on the cover. I read the article and Rivers was talking about how he wrote three songs a day. I thought to myself: If I’m ever going to be as good as Weezer, I need to write three songs a day," he explains. So, from that day forward, that’s what Ian did and continues to do to this day. "I don’t have time for anything else. I like South Park a lot. If there was Jeopardy for that show, Alex and I would win big money, we know the show inside out," he enthuses.
These guys have history together, and it's this unbreakable friendship and musical bond that makes Metorana a very tight band. Their parents were all friends and took the guys when they were young to Forest Park every day, where they live in Kew Gardens, and then one day in June of 2000, when they were all in the sixth grade, they started the band. They practiced three times a week for many years early on in their career, and this has been their ongoing focus, and dedication. "Our influences, and the music, we are one of the tightest bands I know of. You can’t fake that. One of us could miss a beat or a note or the tempo could change slightly, but because we are so tight and know each other so well, you would never know somebody screwed up, we’re known for being a tight band," says Ian.
As previously mentioned 'Sick Sad World' is a concept album based on a toxic relationship that singer Ian Keller was involved in. "The bigger picture, the idea of being in love, was a beautiful thing and the album tells the story of that relationship after I found myself broken and alone, and each song on the album serves as a chapter in the story of starting at ground zero and hopefully finding solace at the end," Ian explains to me.
The chapters are: anger, memories, dreams, grief, relapse, desire, paranoia, nostalgia, independence, remembrance, acceptance, forgiveness, and redemption. "There are definitely references to technology and modern culture as well, and how that plays into the destruction of a relationship, too. Cell phones and jealousy and being distracted by technology are right up front in some of the songs. I’m a very extreme person, so the songs are either really fast and edgy or slow and dreamy. I think it’s a good variety and keeps things interesting," he says.
After Metorana recorded and promoted their first EP with Fenix for two years, they decided that they wanted to go full force and do a full-length album. There was something that Ian really liked about their producer, Tony Hanson’s approach. At home, he composed the full demo with melody, guitar, bass, drums, keyboards and a lot of other parts that don’t really exist when the band play live as a three piece band. Tony is a phenomenal keyboard and synth player, so when Ian showed him the demos of the songs along with the synth parts that he had written he really knew how to find the right sounds and take the parts to the next level.
The band started pre-production and recording for the album in Fall 2014 at Fenix Studios in Staten Island, New York and they wanted to take their time with the recording process and really capture what Metorana were all about. "We thrive as a live band; it’s something we really enjoy, so capturing that was the main thing," says Ian. They had two really great engineers, D’andre Tyre, who had all these wild techniques of recording that the guys had never seen before, and Nick Simone, who mixed the record and made it sound huge while still retaining that tight, live-feel that Metorana are known for.
It took the band a year and a half to finish the album because they really wanted to make sure it was everything they knew it could be. "Being an indie band when you’re in the studio trying to make your first record, everybody has different ideas about how things should sound. Because there isn’t the filter of higher-ups, you wind up with all these different instrumental personalities trying to come through. So it’s both a blessing and a curse, but in the end you make compromises, hopefully for the greater good. All things considered, I think we made a great record," smiles Ian with satisfaction.
When the chaps were recording the record, they would stop at Dunkin Donuts every day for coffee to warm up and get caffeinated before the night began. "One time, we were pulling up to the window and Alex road the curb and we all thought he crashed into the Dunkin Donuts building! It was hilarious," laughs Ian. The band recently played in Austin Texas, during the South by Southwest Festival and they all got really drunk and were partying in the hallway and in the room and decided to have a contest to see who could steal the most shit from the hotel. "Sam stole a twenty-four pack of water out of the storage room on our floor and our manager stole these two cardboard guitars out of the lobby. He was really proud of that. There are so many stories. It’s hard to remember them all because most of the time, we’re pretty done. Our shows are very high-energy and I’ve fallen over quite a few times on stage. Most recently, I was wearing dress shoes and I slid forward as if a rug had been pulled out from under me and both my feet were off the ground and I landed on my guitar. I don’t think anyone other than Alex noticed. One time we were on the road and Sam’s bass fell out on the highway," he smiles.
The band just got off the road from their first US tour, promoting the debut album. The first show of the tour took place at Webster Hall and was videotaped by the bands record label, Fenix, and is currently online and can be found on YouTube. "Being on tour for the first time was amazing and thrilling. There were so many hotels. I remember looking out the window in this crazy blizzard and then waking up in blaring sun and having to take my coat off. I really loved being in Tennesee. The people there were really nice and calm, and in another life, I'd probably relocate there or somewhere similar. We had some really great shows, especially our last one, which was in St. Louis. The crowd was amazing, and it's weird having people know your songs and get down to them in places you've never been to" says Ian.
The band have just finished recording a live, in studio tribute EP, entitled 'Remember The 90' where they have covered Primus 'Those Damned Blue-Collar Tweekers', Rage Against The Machine 'Sleep Now In The Fire', The Ramones 'Blitzkrieg Bop', and Blur 'Song 2'. "We're working on the new record, entitled “Dreamland”, which will be out sometime next year. We're going on tour again in July and hitting the East Coast," concludes Ian.