Tuesday 6 April 2021

All Aboard To The Hellbound Whiskey Train: An Interview with Richard Schierer of SCHIERER (by Mikey Ortega)

Back in 2015, my one-man band, Diclonius, played a show in Anaheim, called “One Man Metal Fest”. At this show, I met some fellow one-man bands in Swartwound, xDEAD-HABIBx, Through These Gates and Dying Messiah. It was through this show that I became good friends with Richard Schierer, who at the time, performed under Dying Messiah. I’ve always admired Richard’s musicianship. The dude can shred and can make some sick death metal. Every time I catch him playing at The Doll Hut, dude puts on a better show than the last. Years later, Richard would put Dying Messiah to rest and formed a new project called SCHIERER. Unlike Dying Messiah, SCHIERER is a throwback to 80’s hard rock. It’s music that you can enjoy and party on. Great hooks, killer solos and cheesy song titles, that will give you a good nostalgia kick. I had the pleasure of chatting with Richard Schierer, where we talked about forming SCHIERER, the recording process and what 2021 holds for SCHIERER


Mikey: So, the transition from doing Dying Messiah to Schierer - how has that been? Was doing 80's hard rock something you've been brewing for a while?


Richard Schierer: It's been a natural transition. Dying Messiah ran its course and ended on a high note. Schierer became the main focus after a year of developing the project so I had a good idea of what direction musically I wanted this to be. The songs that I write are heavily influenced by music of the 70's & 80's, hard rock and pop metal – in particular. I think it's something that just happened before I could even really articulate any real objective other than seeing if I could write music in that style, but, once I got started it became too much fun, it would be a shame not to pursue it further.


Mikey: Is there a part of you that’s glad that metalheads these days are more open to other music, where back in the days, you would’ve gotten shit for “mellowing out”?


Schierer: Of course, I am glad and I'm thankful to have gotten great support from people in the more extreme music genres. The metal community has always had opened minds as well as elitism and I'm aware that not everyone that supports Dying Messiah are into the music I'm making now but it doesn't bother me. It wouldn't make any sense to me to try to do something heavier than my previous bands.


Mikey: You had a punk cover band called Dying Spasm - by any chance, did that had an influence in wanting to do Schierer next?


Schierer: Absolutely it was a big part of it and I had played various Schierer ideas with both members at different times. I started that band with Russell Watts, drummer of Cerebral Spasm and later Dominic Piper joined on bass. My 1st band was a punk cover band in 1996 so this was kinda coming full circle. After playing our last show in April 2019 Schierer became my main focus and while putting a band together Dominic sat in on bass before relocating to Japan. Russell passed away 6 months later on Halloween due to cancer. I miss him dearly he was a huge inspiration and one of my biggest supporters and an awesome friend. I think I would not have even had the courage to sing have I not had gotten experience from singing those punk rock classic songs and playing music with them definitely opened the door to do what I'm doing now.


Mikey: For someone like me, who was involved in the local music scene and attended Metal Mondays at The Doll Hut, what kind of impact did Russ have - especially for musicians like us?


Schierer: He gave an opportunity for a lot of us to play shows and meet people on a regular basis and was opened to booking bands from a lot of different sub genres. His work ethic and commitment was impressive and inspiring, seeing him do all this while still playing drums in 3 different bands. Metal MondayS were usually small intimate shows and I played many of them last minute when bands would drop, I was always glad to help when he asked.


Mikey: When it came to recording the first Schierer album, did you already have the music and lyrics down or were there some that needed some work?


Schierer: I spent a few months in the fall of 2018 just coming up with all the musical arrangements before tracking everything, I started the recording process in January 2019 and this took a couple months. Then I started writing lyrics and figuring out the vocal phrasing. I had to rerecord a few songs along the way and rewrite some lyrics. There were some songs that did need a lot of work. Because I was still learning how to do all this, I made many mistakes early on, some were hard to fix without recording the entire song over so some of that was left in. I also rerecorded one song from the 10 song demo that I recorded in the summer of 2018. It was mixed and mastered in December 2019 & It was officially released on bandcamp.com in February 2020.


Mikey: I do have to say your vocals aren't that bad. There's definitely a lot of heart when I hear it.  Any singer that you tried to channel?


Schierer: Thanks man, I appreciate that. I put a lot of myself into it more than trying to sound like anyone, but there are a lot of singers I take what I can from and there's too many to name but some that come to mind are Steve Marriott, Noddy Holder, David Coverdale, Phil Mogg, Joe Lynn Turner, Don Dokken, Jack Blades, Joe Elliott, Michael Jackson, Chris Cornell, there's some tiny elements of all these and probably more than I can think of at the moment. I worked hard to get the best performances I can get out of me for the albums.


Mikey: I also wanted to point out - as much as I love the 70's/80's throwback sound, I also dig the song titles and lyrics. When reading them, I would think they came from the 80's. Are some of these songs come from personal experience or stories - maybe both?


Schierer: I usually start writing lyrics with a song title in mind. This lends itself really well to having hooks and choruses thought out before the verses, but I almost always write around the title. Subject matter is mostly cheesy love songs and many are written about someone in particular while others are stories about real life and fictional scenarios or a combination of both. There's nothing deep and thought provoking going on in my lyrics its very tongue and cheek and even emo at times. I put a lot of thought into the lyrics and how they sing over the music phrasing wise. Some lyrics come quicker than others, but I must say vocals and lyrics are equally as much work as tracking all the instruments if not harder work.


Mikey: Yeah, those lyrics do capture that 80's cheese. I remember in high school; my friends and I wrote songs like that - hoping we would get chicks.  Haha.


So, moving on to Schierer II - now did you had any songs left over that didn't make the first album or was the 2nd album done from scratch?


Schierer: I wrote all the newer song ideas for the 2nd album while finishing the 1st album. I had one song that was left over from the 1st album that got rewritten as Isabella Jezebel as well as Drink Away My Blues that was taken from the demo. Hellbound Whiskey Train was written around a bass riff that I came up with 20 years ago. Everything else was written specifically to be on the follow up album. I usually would record a couple handfuls of songs ideas as instrumental demos and use the best ones to write songs for the album cuts. There's also a bunch of leftovers that will never become a complete song.


Mikey: To finally play some of these songs live must have been something. How much does it mean to you to do Schierer live?


Schierer: It was awesome getting to play a few shows before everything shut down. I really appreciate the footage you were able to capture at the Dead Habib CD Release show in 2019. That was the only show that I played all original material. All the other shows I played some cover songs because I wasn't confident with a full original set. Those were solo performances but now Schierer is a duo with John Michael Garrison now on bass guitar and lead and backing vocals so now we got the big choruses going on which gives that Bombastic sound that I have been chasing all along. It would be great to get back out there performing again we are ready to rock.


Mikey: One of my next question was you adding a member to Schierer. When you were uploading videos online, I noticed you got yourself a bass player. What’s your history with John and when did you know he was a good fit?


Schierer: I met John at my job and we bonded over music and traded cd's of our bands. Then we jammed out on guitars at work, shortly after that I invited him to try out and thought he could learn some of my songs and he offered to play bass. It just worked out and now we have 13 songs down. John was originally a singer and had a band with his brother called Steady Onward Band (SOB) and was the frontman for another Reggae band from the So Cal area and has a great deal of experience as a performer opening for larger acts like Kid Rock and LA Guns. It’s awesome to not only have a solid bass player but he is a hell of a singer/songwriter and we write well together. We just finished collaborating on an epic power metal song where he sings lead and wrote the lyrics, and it came out amazing. We are currently seeking out a drummer and possibly a keyboard player that would be interested in sitting in on some jam sessions to find like-minded musicians to expand the band.


Mikey: Oh, shit! Is the Power Metal track gonna be in the next album or is it gonna be a stand-alone? And those 13 songs you guys have written, have you begun recording anything?


Schierer: At the moment- a 3rd album is not fully realized yet, but it has album material potential. We have recorded one song that John wrote as a tribute to his brother and bandmate Chris Garrison who passed away, its called For What It's Worth and its on YouTube. We have put a lot of focus in just playing together and getting the songs tightened up. We have plans to get more into producing recordings its been 4 months of becoming a solid unit and being stage ready if necessary which was my main goal unfortunately live music is at a standstill but at the same time we have been enjoying the process of playing and singing in the moment.


Mikey: Since things may seem to get back to normal by the fall, are you hoping to have a full line-up by then? And if it's just you and John, would you two be performing with a backing track?


Schierer: We are getting heavily prepared to play shows, constantly expanding our setlist and are more than ready to perform as is, which at the moment is a duo 2 voices, a guitar and bass but have been wanting to expand the band and start working with other musicians first and foremost we would really like to find a suitable drummer. We are more than willing to work with backing tracks until then which at the moment is a drum program arrangement mixed together with some keyboard parts. I know we can also sound really full and fat as a power trio with the right drummer without relying on any background accompaniment.


Mikey: And lastly - looking back at your musical journey, how do you feel and is there anything you like to say about it?


Schierer: As far as musical journeys go its been a fun learning experience for me. I have played many styles and genres of music over the years and have been fortunate enough to find an outlet for all my creative ideas whether it be in collaboration or on my own. Getting to meet all sorts of interesting and talented people along the way has been great too. I really appreciate you giving me this opportunity to tell the world about Schierer music, and thank you for taking enough interest in my music to reach out for an interview and hopefully we can get more people listening and rocking out with us in the future.

Thank you again Mikey and everyone at This Noise Is Ours and all that take the time to read this.

SCHIERER II is available now on Bandcamp and be sure to follow SCHIERER on Facebook to keep up with music and (hopefully) shows.

Schierer Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/Schierermetalmusic

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