Interview with Siren
First of all I would like to welcome you on Metalzone Hellas!
Thank you very much
Ed Aborn: It is completely our honor and pleasure!
Tell us some things about the band’s history. There are many things we can read at http://www.intersonic.com/Siren_The_Early_Years.pdf but would you like to present some key-moments of your career?
Ed Aborn: For me, I’ll never forget the feeling when our debut single, “Metro-Mercenary” finally arrived back from the pressing plant in 1984. It had been our first time in a recording studio and it was incredible to hold those 7” platters of vinyl in our hands a couple of months later. It was very exciting to say the least. The underground metal world was young and really catching fire. We couldn’t wait to start sending these records to fanzines and radio stations around the globe.
One of the other absolute highlights was, of course, when the band was unexpectedly called back into existence and we were offered the chance to play the KEEP IT TRUE festival in Germany in 2018. It was amazing to reunite with old friends and start playing our music again. The journey to prepare for the show and stepping on that stage in front of thousands of awesome metal fans are times that I will never forget.
Your first album is considered by many fans as classic as the first albums of Heir Apparent, Gargoyle, Hittman, Oliver Magnum, etc. But while those bands and their albums became known, at least at some level, “No Place Like Home” has remained almost at the underground level. Why do you think this happened? Is something that the band did? Or perhaps a mistaken promotional policy from your record company back then?
Ed Aborn: I can’t really speak to the promotion that “No Place Like Home” may have received when it was first released, but many people have told us that the album has remained a personal favorite for decades. It may have reached a limited audience initially, but that audience has been loyal ever since. Music is unique like that. The albums you enjoy during different periods of your life stay with you forever and have the ability to bring you right back to those younger years. “No Place Like Home” is a small part of the soundtrack of thousands of people’s lives.
How does the band feel today about “No Place like Home”?
Ed Aborn: Other than the album cover, I think it’s still a good album. None of us have ever understood the decision by the label to not use the SIREN S-Blade logo and brand on the cover. We had spent years trying to build up the SIREN name and distinctive logo. Instead of capitalizing on all of that work, the label used a plain font for the band name and in pink to boot!
Like any early band recording, there are things that we wish might have been done differently. But like any creative work, it’s a reflection of where you were at that point in life. Combined with the talents of others (engineers, producers, etc.) you do your best and hope that someone eventually enjoys it.
Doug Lee: I just have to say even though the NPLH album cover is not my favourite either, to many people and fans, it is a classic and unique in its own right.
The second album, “Financial Suicide”, presented a different, more straightforward sound (even though some songs, such as "Lines of Steel" had something from the flavour of the first album). Was this change intentional? Give us if you want some details behind the ideas of that album.
Doug Lee: Well, first of all, I guess everyone has their own ideas about which songs from “Financial Suicide” are in a similar flavour to that of “No Place Like Home.” That's the beauty of music - everyone can interpret it their own way. We never set out consciously to go in a different direction with FS but you have to realize that it was a completely different group of musicians with their own ideas and skills. Times were changing in many ways.
It's like a snapshot of where we all were at that specific “Place in Time.” Sometimes song ideas just come to you and you run with them for a while when they're hot because inspiration is fleeting. It's there and then it's gone. As far as the thoughts behind the album title and the ideas behind the individual songs. There's not enough time or space for a complete answer.
Tell us some things about the band/band’s members after the second album, and Doug's Lee departure to Mekong Delta. What are the most important things, in terms of music, that happened to the band’s members (current or past) between 1988 and 2018?
Doug Lee: Damn, I always get the long questions. This group of question could be its own documentary. As far as the '88 line-up. After the limited success of “Financial Suicide,” let's just say the members of the band begin to have some creative differences. So, by 1990, there started to be some problems.
Our record label at the time, Major Records, invited me to come to Germany and do a project with some session musicians. This was for some pre-production recording for what would have been the third Siren album which would have been called “Take It.” I like to call this group my European Siren because I was the only American in the band. The band consisted of me, Johan Susant of Target on bass, Jorg Michael from Mekong Delta and several other groups, on drums, Frank Fricke of Mekong Delta the sacred KO and Living Death on guitar, and Georgie Syrmbos who played with Mekong Delta live for some of the shows I did with them. Later on, Jorg was replaced by Frankie Ehrlich on drums. I'm really not sure what any of those guys are doing right now but I miss you all! To make a long story short, the label did not like the pre-production tracks so it was never produced. Not long after that I was offered the chance to do some vocal work on the Mekong Delta album “Dances of Death” which begin my run with them through the 90s.
As far as the Financial Suicide lineup of Siren. Drummer David Smith is playing in a local band called Sobriety X in the central Florida area. Brian Hendrickson is running his own recording studio over in St Petersburg, Florida, and former bass player Les Talent passed away many years ago.
Even during my run with Mekong Delta, I was continually trying to regroup and rebuild Siren. I never gave up. Many musicians came and went during the late '90s into the new millennium. I like to think the long years between then and now were a time of tremendous growth for myself and the current lineup of Siren.
In 2016 a friend told me that drummer Ed Aborn from the early days of Siren was trying to find me. I made the call and the rest is history. Since that day “This Machine” has been going strong. Just hard work and mutual respect. Even before our recent reunion, we were all pursuing music in one way or another. There is just so much more but it would take days to break it all down.
Tell us if you want some things about the Florida scene of the ’80s. What were the differences between the ’80s and the ’90s? How is the scene now?
Ed Aborn: Like many places around the world, the metal scene in Florida was absolutely on fire in the 1980s. Our area, central Florida, was especially active and produced a ton of great bands such as Savatage/TSO, Death, Obituary, Nasty Savage, Crimson Glory, Iced Earth, Kamelot, Athiest, Six Feet Under, Morbid Angel, and many, many others. Here in the Tampa area, we had (and still have) an amazing studio named Morrisound Recording that has produced an insane amount of great metal over the past 40 years.
During the ’80s and 90’s the music scene was very strong in regards to bands playing at local venues. Looking back at local music magazines from those times, it was amazing how many clubs there were and bands playing at them. Every week you could probably catch two or three shows locally with some fantastic bands. Unfortunately, that’s not the way it is any longer. The advent of the Internet seems to have led to people going out less often, so the clubs have largely dried up. And heavy metal, which was more widely popular in the US in the ’80s, is much less so now. So you have less interest in metal, combined with less venues to play. It’s not a recipe for a good scene. However, the New Wave of Traditional Heavy Metal is on the rise! Several amazing, young bands, like Midnight Spell out of Miami, have picked up the metal torch and are relighting the fire in their local communities and beyond!
Did the grunge/alternative sound in the ’90s affect your style of playback then? How do you feel about the Seattle grunge scene today?
Ed Aborn: No, I don’t think that grunge affected our style of playing. The onset of grunge came at a time soon after “Financial Suicide” was released. It was a period of time when SIREN was entering a hiatus for reasons unrelated to changes in musical styles or the music scene in general. We all retained our love for classic heavy metal and, in our own projects, wrote material in the same vein. Largely, though, we were focused on other life events at the time. As for the current Seattle grunge scene, I didn’t know there still was one! Personally, I’ve never been a big fan of grunge. I can appreciate some songs and elements of the style – the energy and passion, for example – but as a genre, it never grabbed me. I lean more towards classic metal, power metal, prog and symphonic metal personally.
Are there any specific expectations behind the comeback of Siren?
Ed Aborn: Each part of this reunion experience has been one surprise after another. We never planned or expected to ever play together again, let alone be invited to fly halfway around the world to perform as a band in front of thousands of people who were singing our songs back to us. There is also a documentary film that was made about our journey to prepare and play at KEEP IT TRUE. Professional wrestler/singer/actor Chris Jericho loved the story of SIREN unexpectedly being pulled back together and he financed and produced the movie which is titled “I’m Too Old for This Sh*t!: A heavy Metal Fairy Tale.”
On top of our playing live once again, we have also been extremely fortunate to have an amazing retrospective collection of our demos and first album produced for us. “Up from the Depths” is a three-disc vinyl set and two-disc CD set – both with a history of the band and dozens of photos. Underground Power produced the vinyl set which includes a replica of the “Metro-Mercenary” 7” single. Stormspell Records produced the CD set.
So the answer to this question is that everything has already exceeded our expectations! We’ve just finished a full album of new songs titled “Back from the Dead” which we hope that metal fans around the world will enjoy. And we would absolutely love to play some more shows and have the chance to meet fellow metal fans in countries around the world. We are grateful for every opportunity!
What should an old fan expect from the new album, “Back from the Dead”? Something close to your first album, the second, or something new?
Ed Aborn: We have definitely tried to stay true to our roots with the new songs. So you will hear elements of Priest, Maiden, Accept, Saxon and others. However, we’ve also done our best to be ourselves and maintain an original sound. Doug’s voice and vocal style definitely provide a continuity throughout all of SIREN’s music. So, original fans of the band will definitely recognize the songs as ours. As for the new album in comparison to the older material, I’d say that it leans towards the early demos and first album more than the second album. We’ve definitely grown as musicians, though, since those early days. I think that the riffs, arrangements and lyrics reflect that maturity.
Doug Lee: I think "Back from the Dead" could have been called “14 Kick Ass Tunes!” I think this album will stand the test of time like much of our older material. I know these songs are, by far, the best we have ever done. I can't wait to see what the rest of the world thinks
How do you see the contemporary heavy metal scene? Are there any bands from the past that you still like? Some new bands that you also like? Some bands that you would like to perform live with?
Ed Aborn: On a global scale, I think that the metal scene is alive and well. Bands of all eras and ages are putting out some fantastic music. With the availability of the Internet, you can discover a dozen new bands each day in a specific metal sub-genre if you’re searching. The downside of this, though, is that there is virtually no money to be made outside of heavy touring – which itself is expensive to do.
I still love many of the “older” bands. In the past year I’ve seen Helloween, Iron Maiden, Accept, Saxon and many others play live and they are all still at the top of their games. At events like ProgPower in Atlanta and the 70,000 Tons of Metal Cruise, I’ve been lucky to see bands from classic to brand new and they play with the passion that is naturally inherent in metal. It’s great!
Some of my favourite “newer” bands are Seventh Wonder, Theocracy, Northtale, Gloryhammer, Eclipse and Riot V (who are newer AND older) and many, many others.
It would be a dream come true to share the stage with any of our heroes such as Accept, Priest or Maiden – even as an early opening slot. To be honest, though, we are honoured to play any show where we are invited. One of my favourite parts of playing at KEEP IT TRUE was the chance to see and meet the other bands who also played the festival. We shared a dressing room with Grim Reaper! That’s just crazy!
Which are the things that will make the band feel happy and satisfied if you manage to accomplish them?
Ed Aborn: As I mentioned before, the whole experience of being brought back together to perform and make music has been an incredible experience in itself. We honestly look at every new development as a sort of gift. We came back together, travelled and played an amazing festival, have a massive retrospective album set, are the subject of a feature-length documentary film, and are just about to release a full album of new songs. All of these things have already made us tremendously proud and satisfied. We have no fantasies of fame or fortune, but it would be fantastic if we can perform again at festivals around the world.
If you were asked to provide 5 songs from your two albums for a “Best US Power Metal Compilation”, which tracks would you choose? (other bands in the compilation would be Queensrÿche, Titan Force, Heir Apparent, etc.
Ed Aborn: Hmmm… I’m going to include a track from “Up from the Depths” too. I think I would choose (in no particular order): Dead of Night, Tornado of Blood, Like a Bullet, Black Death, and Iron Coffins.
Doug Lee: I think those are great choices!
Thank you very much for your time. If you want to add something you can do it now.
Ed Aborn: I just want to thank you very, very much for supporting SIREN after all these years. It is a genuine honour to be interviewed and it would be an absolute dream-come-true if SIREN ever had the chance to visit and experience the amazing and historic country of Greece. Thank you for all that you do to help keep the metal world turning!
Doug Lee: Thanks to everyone who has supported us and believed in us in the past and to those whom we have not yet met who will carry the S-Blade into the future! Thank You!