Interview by Tony Cannella
This was very cool to get the chance to interview Sarah Teets the lead vocalist for up-and-coming power progressive metal band MindMaze. On the heels of their latest full-length “Back from the Edge” the band has released an EP “Dreamwalker” but the most exciting development in the MindMaze camp is their being selected to open a number of dates for metal legends Saxon and Armored Saint. I had the pleasure of catching the first date at the Palace Theater in Stafford Springs, CT and the band won over every bit of that audience throughout the course of their 30-minute set. It really was a cool thing to see the audience who were mostly in the back of the club at the beginning of their set gradually move forward until the floor was full by the end of their set. I’d say they made more than a positive impression. It was at this show that I caught up with Sarah as she filled me in on what is going on with MindMaze. The band is rounded out by Jeff Teets (guitar), Rich Pasqualone (bass) and Mark Bennett (drums).
So this is the first date of the tour with Saxon and Armored Saint. How mind blowing is it to be on this tour?
Honestly, it’s just been crazy. It really has been surreal. Everything that has happened today we’ve kind of been just trying to like suppress seeming like we’re 13 year olds at our favorite boy band concert. We’ve just been so excited in everything that has happened. It’s surreal to say the least.
You just put out an EP this past July (“Dreamwalker”). What can you tell us about that?
The EP that we put out this summer was actually a kick starter reward for backers who pledged to help us film a music video. Now what ended up happening is we ended up doing just a lyric video and we are going to be rolling over a lot of the funds that came from that Kickstarter into filming a legitimate video for our next album. Things just didn’t work out right and then our drummer ended up quitting – Kalin (Schweizerhof) ended up quitting – and Rich (Pasqualone) actually came back into to band so we were faced with, “well, we can either film a video with only half the people that were on the recording or we can wait and do it the right way the next time”, we kind of just decided to do that. We still do have copies available of the “Dreamwalker” EP. We have about a hundred of the physical copies left – it’s pretty limited edition but on our band camp page we actually have a digital version of it, so it doesn’t have the exclusive cover songs that were available to the backers or if you get a physical copy, but all of the original material and the acoustic tracks and there is a duet version of “Dreamwalker” on there with Urban Breed, that stuff is available digitally so anybody can go on our BandCamp page and download that stuff.
What cover songs can we hear on the “Dreamwalker” EP?
The physical copy has “Promises in the Dark” by Pat Benatar, “Arena of Pleasure” by W.A.S.P. and “Strange Wings” by Savatage. “Strange Wings” was actually one of our exclusive tracks for the backers from the “Back from the Edge” Kickstarter that we did, so we just kind of put all three of them on there. It was really cool doing that. It’s always cool to try to put your own spin on that sort of thing.
I love the last record “Back from the Edge“. For those who haven’t heard it, what can they expect?
For those who heard our first album “Mask of Lies”, I would kind of say “Back from the Edge” is kind of a more cohesive sound. We kind of took all of the influences that we had like the traditional stuff, like the Iron Maiden style, like old school traditional metal and the progressive stuff and the power metal, we kind of put into one cohesive thing. I think “Back from the Edge” really sounds like more of a style that simply is a similar album as a whole. “Mask of Lies” kind of has this feel when you go from track-to-track you can tell this is like “our traditional metal song”, “this is our progressive song”, all of the tracks kind of have their own specific influences and I think we kind of blended them together more. Mike LePond from Symphony X played bass on the whole “Back from the Edge” album, so there’s that. I would definitely just say that it’s mostly a power metal album, maybe kind of like in the style of Firewind or something like that with some progressive elements to it like Symphony X and things like that.
My favorite song off “Back from the Edge” is “Through the Open Door”. Lyrically, what can you tell us about that song?
“Through the Open Door” was me kind of just putting myself in the shoes of somebody who is extremely claustrophobic. I’m not really like that particularly – like, I’m not super claustrophobic, at times depending on the situation I can kind of feel that way – but I kind of just really put myself in the shoes of someone who had more of an extreme case of that. What you can kind of try to go through mentally with your mental process to try to overcome that fear and try to find a solution to it? So that was pretty much where I was at with that.
I know you’re a big Kip Winger fan. You recently had the opportunity to sing a song with him on stage. What song did you sing?
I sang “Miles Away” with Kip.
How did that come about?
It’s funny because people know me as being in the band so they probably assumed that he knew who I was or something and that’s how that kind of happened but, normally when he does his acoustic shows he usually just asks somebody from the audience to come up and sing it. I knew he did that. I’d actually seen him like a week a prior and didn’t do it that night but I’d seen him and knew he did it and I was kind of like, “I really want to do this”, so Jeff (Teets) and I were there and we both tried really hard to get me picked and it wasn’t actually that hard, he seemed pretty into the idea (laughs). It was a lot of fun.
Are you already working on music for a 3rd record?
Yeah. We’ve actually been kind of slowly working on our 3rd album periodically over the past couple of months we’ve really been trying to start working on things. With all of the shows we’ve been doing and everything, we haven’t had as much time as I’d like, but after this tour and after the shows we have for the rest of the year, we’re probably gonna be focusing more on working on that stuff. We have a lot of new musical ideas for the next album worked on. Rich and Jeff were sitting down and working on that stuff a lot back in the earlier part of the year. Between Kalin quitting the band and everything that has come up we had to put that on hold for a little while but we are planning for the next year, we’re basically going to be working on new material and probably not playing a whole lot, aside for if something like this comes up then we’ll be doing that. We probably won’t be doing many shows, we’ll just be sticking to working on new material. The album probably won’t be out next year, but I would say in 2017, we should have a new album.
Will it be self-released or on Inner Wound again?
At this point we don’t know. The deal we did with Inner Wound for “Back from the Edge” was just for that album, it wasn’t for any future albums. We had a very good experience working with them, we haven’t had any complaints, and they’ve been awesome people. Ideally I would like to do that again, I think it worked out well for this album so I would like to but at this point we don’t have any concrete plans to do that.
Will you be premiering any new songs on this tour?
No. We actually had really wanted to do the new original song “Slave to the Cycle” that’s on the “Dreamwalker” EP, but with Kalin quitting and with Mark coming in and having not that much time to really learn anything, whatever worked well for him we kind of just went with it. We kind of just picked from a smaller selection of songs that he seemed to get easy. So we won’t be doing any newer material we’re kind of just doing a mix of stuff from “Mask of Lies” and “Back from the Edge”.
How long are you guys playing on this tour?
30 minutes. It’s going to be about 30 minutes every night. They told us tonight if everything is set up and we’re good to go we have the option of maybe starting a few minutes early some of these nights but it generally is going to be 30 minutes.
Where are you moving on to from here?
We’re going to Portland, Maine, we’re playing at Asylum tomorrow night and then we actually have a day off and then we’re going to D.C.
MindMaze is from Pennsylvania. Will you be playing any home town shows on this tour with Saxon and Armored Saint?
No. We’re playing in Pennsylvania but we’re only playing in Pittsburgh and we’re from the other side of the state, we’re almost from New Jersey, we’re so east in Pennsylvania. We have played in Pittsburgh before so it’ll be kind of cool to go back there. This will be our third time playing there so it’ll be cool to be at a bigger place with this tour.
We’ve come to the end Sarah. Thank you for taking the time to do this. Femme Metal wishes the band much luck and success for the future. In closing, is there anything you would like to say to the fans to wrap this up?
Thank you so much to everyone for supporting not just what we do but other female fronted metal bands and just metal in general. All the bands on our level really, really appreciate it, even bands on a bigger level I’m sure they really appreciate it too. Just thank you so much. Hopefully we’ll get to see some of the people on the road, we’re trying to get out there to more places, so hopefully we’ll see everybody out there one day.