SECOND SHOOTER – The fury made in real full flesh

Second Shooter is an aggressive yet melodic metal band from Los Angeles, California, USA. And after two EPs, the band has just issued their phenomenal full-length debut “Fury Made Flesh”. Let’s learn more together with the singer Melanie Johnson.
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Second Shooter is an aggressive yet melodic metal band from Los Angeles, California, USA.  The band – which consists of Melanie Johnson (vocals), Travis Hildreth (guitar), Wynn McElwee (guitar), Jeff Clark (bass), and James Wilinski (drums) – and after two Eps, the band has just issued their phenomenal full-length debut “Fury Made Flesh”.  Anybody who likes their metal aggressive with brilliant moments of melodicism and a touch of anger should check this band out.  Recently, Second Shooter’s lead vocalist, Melanie Johnson, took some time out of her busy schedule to answer some questions.  Let’s get into it.

Second Shooter photo by Jeremy Saffer
Photo by Jeremy Saffer

Second Shooter debut album

Tell me about Second Shooter full-length debut, “Fury Made Flesh,” and what can fans expect when they put it on?

“Fury Made Flesh” is the first album we put out since our EP in late 2019, so it’s been over four years of songwriting.  A lot of stuff on there shows what we can do and reflects our growth as a band.  People can expect something aggressive, really heavy, and also a lot of good melodies. “Fury Made Flesh” shows what the five of us can do together. I was really happy with how it turned out.

Second Shooter combines different genres on the record.  There’s a lot of variety there, I think.

Definitely. We’re not in one box or pigeonholed or whatever.

The lyrics of “Fury Made Flesh”

Lyrically, the band has a lot to say.  Is there an overarching theme on the record?

We all sort of write what we feel like.  I think three or four of us wrote lyrics for this album.  There is no overarching theme, intentionally, but I think throughout our two Eps and this full-length, we do have songs that focus on powerful women, feminine rage, and stuff like that.  That tends to come up in our lyrics, not just written by me.

Tell me a little about the recording process for “Fury Made Flesh”.  How did that go?

MJ: Our drummer Jim (Wilinski) has a home studio that he’s been building for, I don’t know, for a decade or two decades.  Jim is sort of in the audio engineer position. He knows all the equipment and how to do everything.  There’s some collaboration, everyone listens and contributes to the mix a little bit, but our bassist Jeff does the legit mixing and mastering; he’s learned so much over the past few years about how to do that, and we’re really happy with how it turned out, it sounds so much for professional than the mixing and mastering on our Eps.  It’s been cool to see it grow and figure that all out so well.

Second Shooter photo by Jeremy Saffer
Photo by Jeremy Saffer

Second Shooter producing the album

So, who produced the record?

MJ: Our bassist, Jeff.

Do you have any plans coming up to tour in support of “Fury Made Flesh”?

We toured the last week and a half of January. I think not everyone (in the band) has enough vacation time to tour again very shortly, but we want to do it again at some point. It’s a cool way to get our music to people in other cities who might not have come across us. 

Let’s go back to the beginning. How did the band first get together?

Our guitarist Travis (Hildreth) and drummer Jim have been playing together for about twenty years now in various projects, so they’ve kind of gone through a lot of bands, a lot of band members. In 2016 the singer they were playing with went to prison for murdering his wife. It was tragic. They had to take a break from music for a little bit. I’m not sure how long, but it was probably several months. They had to process the tragedy of the whole thing. Then they went out and found a few more members. The five of us all got together in 2018. I found them from Craig’s list ad looking for a vocalist.  We also found the bassist, Jeff, through an online site to find band members.  All the pieces fell into place in 2018.

Lyric video “Suffocate Eternal”

Second Shooter – “Suffocate Eternal”

Do you think the band chemestry in Second Shooter is where it needs to be right now, or do you think it could get even better?

I think it’s in a good place. We all get along well, and we respect each other’s opinions, like creative output and everything. There isn’t any butting of heads. Everyone is laid-back and respectful, and I think the creative process brings out all the unique things that each of us has to offer.

I wanted to ask you about some specific songs on the record. Talk to me about the song “Suffocate Eternal.” What is it about?

Our guitarist Travis wrote it.  I think it’s more abstract, and I know he found it very cathartic to write. He’s a teacher during the day, and one time he came to practice over the weekend, and he was like, ‘Oh no, I have a feeling that I accidentally left those lyrics on my desk (laughs); if somebody sees that they’re going to think there is something wrong with me, but it’s just metal music, I’m just getting out my feelings,’ he checked, and it was away hidden in his desk.

Lyric video “Diana the Huntress”

The song “Diana the Huntress”

What about “Diana the Huntress”?

That one is based on a true story of a female vigilante killer in Mexico. In Jaurez, there is a bus route that is known for women being assaulted, even murdered; like a city bus system, not a specific route, but it’s infamous for that. Hundreds of women have gone missing. Many bodies have been found, and it’s common knowledge that women take the bus late at night. There’s a chance that the drivers are going to assault them, and they should do everything they can to avoid having to take those bus lines. 

So, in the mid-2010s, this woman got on a bus and shot the driver point blank and then exited the bus, and then she did the same thing the next day.  Somebody sent a letter to a bunch of newspapers claiming to be her, and she was saying that ‘this is revenge for all of the abuse that women have suffered at the hands of these bus drivers’.

The real story behind Diana the Huntress

And nobody knows if the two bus drivers she targeted had done anything personally, but she was sending a message.  She wrote something – it was in Spanish – but she wrote something like, ‘You think that we women are weak, well I’m going to show you that we’re strong.  I’m an instrument of vengeance for all the women who have been assaulted and murdered on this bus route’.  From what I read about the reaction in the city, a lot of people interviewed were in support of her; they’re like, ‘If she’s witnessed and experienced this abuse as so many women have, then I don’t blame her’.The fact that she wasn’t caught shows that some of the witnesses weren’t willing to help the authorities find her.

Second Shooter photo by Jeremy Saffer
Photo by Jeremy Saffer

Normal life stories are metal

Wow. That’s a wicked story. That is metal.

(Laughs) It’s so metal

Another one that I liked was “Bleeding Ear”. Talk to me about that one.

That one was originally inspired by our guitarist arguing with his wife. He started writing the lyrics about that. Jeff wrote part of the lyrics, building on the vibe that Travis had started. Being in this argument, I just felt like it was cacophony and chaotic. So that was the original inspiration for it.

My favorite song on the record is “Set Adrift”.  What can you tell me about that one?

My bassist (Jeff Clark) came up with that, most of it musically and most of the lyrics. It’s about his divorce a couple of years ago. He wrote some of the lyrics, and I finished them, and that was a fun process for me to put myself in the shoes of someone else in an experience that I’ve never been in. I was like, how am I going to convey his divorce? Is that my place? It ended up being a good exercise stretching myself to try to put myself in somebody else’s shoes in such a different situation from anything I’ve been in.

Lyric video “Bringer of Death”

Bringing death on tour

Another favorite of mine is “Bringer of Death”.  What’s the story behind that one?

That one was also written by our bassist Jeff.  It’s about the Hindu goddess Kali; she’s the goddess of destruction, among many other things.  It comes from a place of a powerful woman.

You mentioned that you probably wouldn’t be doing a tour, but will you be playing any shows here and there?

Yeah, we’ll be playing around in L.A. We don’t have anything that is set in stone, but there are shows that we’re looking at and planning on doing in the next few months.

What can fans expect when they come to see Second Shooter live?

I think we put on a really good show. We put a lot of effort into our performances and pour our hearts into them. We try to be as engaging as possible. I feel like we’re intense as performers.

Second Shooter photo by Jeremy Saffer
Photo by Jeremy Saffer

Band influences

Who are you influenced by?

In Second Shooter, we are all lovers and consumers of heavy music across several genres.  It’s not like each of us has one thing, but we do all sort of have main things we gravitate toward. Our rhythm guitarist, Travis, is most into nu-metal-type stuff; our bassist is most into Doom.  We all love all kinds of heavy stuff, but you get different flavors.  I’ve always listened to post-hardcore, emo, screamo, and that kind of stuff, so that kind of makes its way into my vocal style sometimes.  I’d also say that Mikael Akerfeldt from Opeth is one of my vocal inspirations, especially because of the way he does the growls so melodically.

We’ve come to the end of this interview, Melanie. In closing, do you have any final words for the fans?

Anyone interested in hearing some new hard-hitting, super aggressive heavy stuff should check out “Fury Made Flesh”. I’m really happy with what we came up with. I think there is something in there for anyone who loves heavy music.

Lyric video “Set Adrift”

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