Rock & Metal recently met up with Tony Asta, lead guitarist of the heavy metal combo BATTLECROSS, to talk about their latest album, "War of Will", their origins as a band, future projects and even....their hobbies!!! Read on metalheads...

R&MIMB: Hi Tony! Can you tell us a brief history of the band? How Battlecross started, and when was it formed.
Tony: Battlecross was formed in 2003 by me (Tony Asta) and Hiran Deraniyagala and I came up with the name before we released our first three song demo in 2005. At the time we were a four-piece and the bassist and I rotated vocal duties. We went through various line up changes and acquired current bassist Don Slater in 2008, while playing shows around the area and eventually recorded our first album in 2009 through 2010, titled "Push Pull Destroy" (self-released). We signed a deal with Metal Blade Records in 2011 and re-released our first album with our new vocalist, Kyle Gunther (joined late 2010), and named it "Pursuit of Honor". We began touring the fall of 2011 and continued through 2012. We played backyards, bars, clubs, theaters, arenas, and amphitheaters and had a blast. We returned to the studio this March to record our 2nd Metal Blade release titled "War of Will" and have been keeping the ball rolling ever since!

R&MIMB: Who's in the band and what are their roles?
Tony: Kyle "Gumby" Gunther - Vocalist/frontman
Tony Asta - rhythm and lead guitarist
Hiran Deraniyagala - rhythm and lead guitarist
Don Slater - bassist
Kevin Talley - touring drummer
R&MIMB: What type of band are you?
Tony: We are a METAL band!!

R&MIMB: Who writes the songs, what do the lyrics usually deal with?
Tony:  Me, Hiran and Don write all the riffs and basic ideas, which is where it all starts! Then I typically go over the material and try to arrange parts and transitions if the song seems like it could be better. Then we jam it live and hash it out. We usually leave our singer to write the lyrics, but this time around for "War of Will" Don and Gumby teamed up and wrote some really killer stuff! Our lyrics are mostly positive and generally center around self-awareness and self-improvement. The subjects are left open for interpretation of course, to be more relatable.

R&MIMB: Where does the band draw its influences from?
Tony:  Positive aggression! A single riff can inspire us. The combined influences from each musician melded together into a joint creation is what gives a band its sound. We love the metal of today to the rock of the late 60's and the jams in between. We write our music to kick ass while we are performing and get motivated when you listen back. It should make you want to drive your car faster and bang your head harder!

R&MIMB: How do you promote the band and shows?
Tony:  Directly?In person, on stage, the use of our own social media assets, our official website, official press releases, official fliers/admats, and word of mouth of course! How we market the band is a different answer...

R&MIMB: Describe a Battlecross show visually and musically.
Tony: Our shows are energetic, exciting, fist-pumping, hair-whipping good times!! We hit the stage pumped and explode at the first note and don't let up until the last. The music will inspire you to move, we deliver an aggressive and powerful experience.

R&MIMB: How do your new songs differ from your older material?
Tony: Our newer material is better written and focuses more on the music and the songs. Our older material seems more chaotic and immature from a writing standpoint. The newer material is a little more catchy: it still has its brutal parts, but I think "War of Will" is much more dynamic and each song is much more different than the other. Overall I like the new stuff more.

R&MIMB: What advice would you give to fellow bands?
Tony: To anyone: just go with what makes you happy and inspires you. Surround yourself with positive people and kill the naysayers with kindness. Never give up, it gets hard but you can't quit when the going gets tough. To bands: practice all the time and focus on the music first. Always push to better yourself as a musician.

R&MIMB: When will Battlecross be going back into the studio?
Tony: Probably in 2015. We will be touring the rest of 2013 and 2014.

R&MIMB: Tell us about Battlecross' next shows - any future albums or tours?
Tony: We are hitting the road with Hatebreed, Shadows Fall, and the Acacia Strain this fall. Right after that we head out with Death Angel, 3 Inches of Blood, Revocation, and Diamond Plate. We'll be all over the US and parts of Canada and we are super pumped to hit the road!

R&MIMB: What is Battlecross' latest album?
Tony: War of Will", released this summer on Metal Blade Records.

R&MIMB: When was your last tour?
Tony:  Rockstar Energy Drink Mayhem Festival 2013 was our last tour this summer.

R&MIMB: What band would Battlecross love to be on tour with, past or present, and why?
Tony: I would have loved to have toured with Pantera for obvious reasons, and they are the one band everyone in Battlecross shares inspiration from. Pantera is such a huge influence on me and it would've been a real dream come true if I had met Dime. Presently I'd love to tour with Metallica, as they are a huge inspiration for myself and the band!

R&MIMB: Does Battlecross have any musical influences? Any non-musical ones?
Tony: Of course! The list of musical influences would be a mile long! Circle everything except for modern poppy hip hop garbage and that pretty much sums it up. Non-musically we are very family based people. We all grew up around the auto industry and our surroundings have shaped us as people. Our friend dubbed us "blue collar thrash" because we are hard working individuals and as a band. This label also fits appropriately with our environment.

R&MIMB: What are the biggest obstacles for bands?
Tony: Writing good music, finding reliable dedicated musicians, performing tight live, growing an audience fan base, providing transportation, distribution around the country/world, obtaining a good touring/booking agent, and effective marketing/branding.

R&MIMB: What should the fans look forward to for the rest of 2013 and beyond?
Tony: We will be on the road so come out and have a good time with us! Check our tour calendar on our website. We will probably release a new music video soon as well

R&MIMB: Your last question is about hobbies?have you got any particular hobbies or interests?
Tony: Gumby: Favorite hobby is football, first cd was "Frogstomp" by Silverchair, first concert was Crystal Gayle, musician to jam with would be drummer Shannon Lucas.
Hiran: Favorite hobby is going to shows! First cd was "Dookie" by Green Day, first concert was Rage Against The Machine w/Wu-Tang, if I could jam with any musician it would be Sammy Duet from Goatwhore and Paul Bostaph from Slayer.
Don: Favorite hobby is disk golf, first cd was "Superunknown" by Soundgarden, first concert was Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, a musician to jam with would be Manu Katche for some solid drum and bass action!
Tony: Favorite hobby is fixing and tinkering with things, first cd was the "Alien Trilogy" soundtrack, first concert was Ozzfest '98, if I could jam with any musician it would be James Hetfield!!

R&MIMB: Thanks for the interview Tony, it was a pleasure to talk to you and get to know you guys better...
Tony: Thank you Heather, and a big thanks goes to Rock & Metal In My Blood too!!! See you on tour!!

Heather Williams