Prototype: A Band In Motion
Hot ... these August days are as hot as Hell, but they seem to fit like a glove for the full-length debut of Prototype, who recently delivered an "up and coming" new record that shows the huge potential this American thrash/progressive metal band possesses. So we exchanged some e-mails back and forth, talking with mastermind Vince LeValois about the combo's past, present and future, all the way to Star Wars!
Igor Italiani: Hi Vince, let's start with the band's latest news. I've seen that you have recently parted ways with Pat MacGrath, your drummer; the search for a replacement is near the end or not?
Vince LeValois: Hello Igor! We're interviewing and auditioning as many drummers as possible right now ... We have a couple of good possibilities, however the scene has notoriously been short of drummers that can really pull off the kind of stuff we do. It's never been easy to find a good drummer.
II: Yes, in fact I think that this search will be a little bit harder than usual, 'cause in my opinion the drumming of Pat was one of the strengths of Trinity...
VL: Pat is a great drummer, and his work on Trinity shows it. The thing about our music is that it lends itself to open exploration, especially in the drum department. Before Pat, we had Damion Ramirez (now in Capital Eye) and he had the same experience in his playing, where the drums free-flowed on open parts and were tighter on others. One thing's for sure, we've been fairly lucky with the quality of the playing of the drummers that have been in the band. Unfortunately over the years, keeping them has been a more difficult task.
II: Now let's go to the CD ... in the insert card there's the phrase "What you believe might not be." Does this is refer to something in particular?
VL: Yes. It refers to being able to look at other realities and possibilities outside of your own. Whether it is religion or your everyday beliefs, the statement makes you stop and think about the "what if" factor. Once you start pondering the possibilities, you may never go back to your old ways. :-)
II: Another thing that really caught my attention is the brilliant cover by Travis Smith. How was it to work with a great talent like Travis? Do you think you'll contact him in the future as well?
VL: Travis is one of the best in the biz. He was able to capture the essence of Trinity. All we sent him, if I recall, was one or two songs off the album, and we went to town on it, really capturing this desolate, mysterious and significant place that is on the cover and the back of the CD. It was very easy working with him, he is always mostly concerned about making sure the artist is happy with the end result.
II: Trinity can truly be considered your first full-length CD as Prototype. What are the key improvements you sense from the beginning of the band?
VL: The beginning of the band was such a long time ago that you bet we've made improvements!! Kragen [Lum] and I have been together for about 11 years now. Prototype was born in 1994. Since then, I think the biggest improvement has been maturing musically. Little by little we've been able to forge our own sound.
II: But, from a promotional standpoint, how are things shaping up for Trinity?
VL: Well, we promote as much as we can. WWIII Music, the label that released it here in the States and in Canada, has done some promotion in the form of promo copies and some flyers, but there has been very little advertising. Our purpose for hooking up with WWIII was mostly to just get the album out there into stores and on major online retailers so as to make it as ubiquitous as possible for people wanting to buy the album. Short of that, we've done most of the promotion. Toxic Records in South America has done a decent job of promoting, but as always, more could always be done...
II: Vince, Prototype have focused all their efforts for the US market until now; when and how do you think to attack the European charts?
VL: We have just signed with IntroMental Management in Denmark for this very purpose. We're hoping we can get Trinity released there via a European label, and secure a deal for the next album as well.
II: Returning solely to music, the mastery with which you have mixed parts of Metallica, Cynic, Dream Theater and Nevermore together is really impressive. This particular songwriting will carry on to the next record as well or will you change slightly?
VL: We've begun writing the next album which is shaping up to be, in my opinion, the best stuff we've written. Much heavier, sometimes slower and less thrashy than before, but very melodic. We're using 7 string guitars that we had custom made by Jackson Guitars and the sound is deep and menacing. We still have many progressive elements.
II: Your music seems very well suited for a live environment; are you planning some concerts at the moment? Looking to the past, what's the best gig you remember?
VL: Right now we're not playing shows since we're concentrating on finding a drummer and writing new material. As far as shows go, one of the best ever has to be when we played with Death at the Whisky A-Go-Go in Hollywood, CA back in 1998. This was the same show that is released on DVD by Death. We also have our set available on VHS from that same night. It was packed and the crowd kicked ass.
II: Vince, switching abruptly from music ... I've seen that Prototype are based in LA. So can you tell me how is it to live in California in 2002?
VL: It's fast paced. Everything here goes a thousand miles an hour! HA-HA!!! [Except traffic - ed.]
II: Now a bizarre question. I've seen that all the members of Prototype are big fans of the Star Wars saga. So please tell us which of the characters the three of you could be compared with?
VL: Well, that's a weird question... Kirk Scherer says he'd be Anakin so that he can get down with Amidala. Kragen says Boba Fett or Darth Vader, but realistically probably Luke Skywalker. I think perhaps Han Solo fits me the best.
II: Last thing I would like to ask before leaving ... Prototype is quite an ambitious name to start a band with. Can you explain some more on such a bold decision?
VL: Back in '94 we were still known as Psychosis here in L.A. We changed our name to satisfy a couple of issues. The name Prototype came straight out of the thesaurus. I saw the word and its definition and thought to myself that it was a great title for our way of thinking about our music. We have very mixed influences in the band, yet we all like much of the same music. This melding of styles allows us to come up with something different and unique to us.
II: OK, Vince. I think that's enough. Goodbye and I really hope to see your band around here as soon as possible...
VL: Thank you Igor for the interview, and if we ever get the opportunity to go out there you rest assured we will!!!
Psychosis - Pavement Bound (cass. ep) (1990)
Psychosis - Lifeforce (cass. ep) (1992)
Seed (cass. ep) (1995)
Cloned (CD ep) (1999)