Interview by Tony Cannella
From Florida, Seven Kingdoms are one of the best power metal bands to come out of the U.S. in quite some time. The band has released a flurry of no-nonsense pure power metal records since their inception in 2007. Now, as the band celebrates a decade of existence, Seven Kingdoms gets set to unleash their new album “Decennium”. This was a great reason to catch up with guitarist Camden Cruz while he was out on the road tour managing for Pain of Salvation. His excitement for the “Decennium” is obvious, and why not? Just check out the lyric video for “Stargazer” and try not to be excited. I dare ya.
Your new album “Decennium” is coming out soon. What can fans look forward to when they hear it?
Basically, we tried to write a full-blown, straight-up power metal record. It was really important for us to make all of the songs fast – there is not a slow song on the record, there is not a soft song on the record. We wanted to make a statement with kind of, not necessarily redefining what power metal is, but just showing what we wanted to do. “Let’s just make as much as a classic record as possible”, with all of the things that we enjoy about the genre, which is obviously the speed and like a bat hitting you kind of thing.
When can we expect it?
It’s out right now. You can buy the first edition directly from the band. We are working on a deal to get worldwide coverage for it, so we’re still kind of hashing that out right now.
Can you talk about some of the lyrical themes on the record?
It’s kind of a continuation of what we usually do. We’ve got three Game of Thrones inspired songs. We’ve got a couple other fantasy-ish type lyrical inspirations. Of course, everyday life experiences. As we get older that starts coming into play a little bit more.
The new record is called “Decennium”. Where does the title come from and why did you decided to choose it for the record?
Basically, it’s a fancy word to say decade. This is the 10th-year anniversary of the band so we just figured it was fitting and it sounded kind of spacey.
Can you talk a little about the writing and recording process for “Decennium”?
Yeah. As a band in 2013-2014 we did a lot of European touring so we basically took almost a year off after our 2014 tour just to kind of lick our wounds, because touring is super expensive. We basically took off almost a year and just kind of wrote alone and casually with one another and then about 2015 we really started hitting it hard and then we recorded in the middle of 2016. The writing process was basically the same. Usually we start off with guitar riffs then it was drums, bass and the vocals get added. Of course, when you’re in the studio we ended up adding or changing a couple of things. You can hear the whole thing and you want to change a couple of things. You might hear something a little bit different than when you were doing the demos.
When can we expect to see Seven Kingdoms on the road?
We have a tour scheduled with Evergrey in May. That should run from May 6 to the 1st of June, I believe. That is the first North American tour for the record. We’ll have some pretty large hometown shows in Florida opening for some bigger bands after that and then we are hoping to go to Europe in 2018.
Have the tour dates for the Evergrey tour been announced yet?
The majority of them have been announced. We have a couple of more shows to close that we are waiting on. It should be 23 or 24 shows in total.
Do you feel that “Decennium” is your most ambitious record to date? Has it all built up to this point?
We believe so. It’s definitely the most expensive record we’ve done, just as far as the amount of merch and we’ve pressed vinyl and we had more studio time than ever. Our budget was literally double almost of the last one. That being said, we put all our eggs in a basket with this one, this is what we wanted to do. I think everybody is enjoying it right now, the only thing that I’ve seen – it’s not even necessarily a negative, but people pointing out – every song is an onslaught basically and that’s how we designed it, so I am not necessarily sad that people miss the old songs or the slow songs and stuff; but the way we wanted to design this specific record was there should be a baseball bat on the cover (laughs).
I saw the lyric video for “Stargazer”. It’s a really cool looking clip. Do you plan on doing a regular music video for any of the songs?
That’s part of some of the deals that we’re working on. If all that goes through there will be an actual video. As of now we’re just kind of waiting to put some more ducks in a row with all of that.
If you do get the chance to do a video, do you have an idea of what song you would like to do it for?
I think we would probably do a video for “Castles in the Snow”.
Let’s go back to the beginning of Seven Kingdoms, if we may. How did you first get together?
I wanted to start a power metal band – I was just out of high school, it was like 2006, I believe. With a bunch of luck, I found The Byrd’s (drummer Keith and guitarist Kevin) and that was basically history right there and then eventually my wife (Sabrina Valentine) – she became my wife – she joined the band and became our new singer. We found Aaron (Sluss), he joined right before the Blind Guardian tour, right after we recorded the self-titled album, and he’s been a great fit ever since.
You mentioned being on tour with Blind Guardian a few years ago. How cool was that?
It was a chance of a lifetime, really. I still think that was our best tour, as far as numbers of people being there, so that was a great experience.
If you could tour with one band, who would it be?
Oh man, if had to pick one band I would probably pick someone who is playing arenas, so that way it is more about numbers (laughs). I’d take an opening slot on the new Metallica tour, to be honest with you (laughs).
What are you doing on the road with Pain of Salvation right now?
I am their U.S.A. tour manager and their merchandise guy. So I am just dealing with all of their stuff basically, so they don’t have to. (laughs)
Nothing but respect for tour managers. You guys are working on a million things at once. I don’t know how you do it, I’d have a nervous breakdown.
It’s something that kind of developed being on tour and then also wanting to learn it, because I wanted to make sure that everything was done right. Me learning how to do it right made other people take notice and want me to do that for them. This is my second tour with the Pain of Salvation guys.
On a personal note, tour managers are some of the nicest people I’ve met. I’ve dealt with a lot of tour managers; interviewing bands at shows I always have to coordinate with them and they are always so nice. They have a lot to do, but I have always found them helpful and friendly. I’ve never encountered one who was an asshole to me.
You’re lucky, because they’re there (laughs). You have to try to be as personable as possible, but at some point, you just have to be firm. I really try to be as nice as possible and be easy to work with as possible. If the band wants something we always try to do it.
I have one final question, Camden. Thank you so much for taking the time to do this and we wish you the best of luck in the future with the new record, “Decennium”. In closing, do you have any final words for the fans?
First off, thank you very much for all the support that we got for the crowdfunding campaign. Like I said, it will be the first time we’ve ever gotten even close to hitting a zero after all of the expenses are calculated for putting out the record, the merchandise, and the promotion for it. Like I said, thank you so much and I hope everybody gets a copy of “Decennium”.