FEAST OR FAMINE MAGAZINE  Issue 4, August 2000
Interview w/ Joe by Matt Johnsen

Enertia is one of the hardest working bands in the US underground scene, having produced three top notch independent discs and plated over 300 shows in the last four years. I first encountered them at Powermad 1997 and was impressed from the start by their professionalism and formidable songwriting and playing skills. Their newest disc, Flashpoint, is a monster of a disc, full of melodies and grooves, and packed to the gills with hooks galore. I couldn't miss the opportunity to give the band a little exposure, but I was too damn lazy to face the prospect of another long phone conversation to transcribe. So I shot a bunch of questions by email to bassist Joe Paciolla, who also happens to be one of the coolest friendliest guys I've met in the scene. He fielded my questions thoroughly and with a good sense of humor, so I'm sure you'll enjoy reading up on his band as much as I did.

M: What was everyone in the band doing before Enertia?

J: We were all members of the Albany, NY original music scene. Scott was in a thrash band called Attica, Roman had a band called Minddrive, Jeff was in a band w/ guys he grew up w/ called Jack Frost (which dates back to the mid 80s & are still together to this day w/ a new name, Swamp Lord), Dave & I were in a commercial hard rock band called Untamed. Its sort of funny, but at one time (mid 1990s), there were actually a lot of metal bands in the area & at the moment, I don't think there is anyone other than us, a cool new band called Lucid Reality & a couple of Judas Priest tributes.....

M: Did anyone record with other outfits before this band?

J: All of the bands mentioned above have recorded material & if you look in used CD stores in the area, you will more than likely find some of the discs. I believe Scott has some Attica CDs left & I still have about 40 sealed Untamed cassettes that I occasionally use to record ENERTIA rehearsals when we are writing new songs. If anyone is interested in hearing either one of them (Attica or Untamed), email me & I'll send you a copy!

M: Was the band ever called "Inertia", with the correct spelling, or have you always used this spelling? 

J: We were going insane trying to think of a name for the band & after about 300 other ones, I suggested the name INERTIA. Dave then suggested changing the I to an E & we ended up going with it. As a side note though, another name that was ALMOST used was Cycle 7, which I absolutely detested.....

M: Have your trademarked the word?

J: Yes, we have trademarked our name in the United States in the middle of last year, & it dates back to when we first became a band, which was the first week of February in 1996. I urge all bands to trademark their name ASAP, & with the internet, you can search the trademark database for free to see if your name is available. The web site is at http://www.uspto.gov

M: Your first CD was recorded before your first show. Was Enertia originally designed to be a studio band?

J: When the five of us got together for the first time, the original intention was just to record a 3 song demo, but there was an instant chemistry between us & we all decided to turn this into this into a band instead of a project.

M: Some of the songs on the Law of Three EP give songwriting credits to people who aren't in the band. Were these former members of the band?

J: While I was in Untamed, I started a side project w/ some friends (& then met Jeff when Untamed opened up for his band & asked him to play drums), as my ideas were totally different than the direction of that band. We had written about a dozen songs in a year, although we never recorded anything (& I also want to stress that this project was never called ENERTIA!). When my friends lost interest in our project & wanted to do other things, Jeff & I continued & decided to keep a few of the songs. Although the structures of the songs were the same, Scott, Dave & Roman added so much to them, that they sounded like totally different compositions. When we recorded "Law…", we had only been playing together as a band for 6 weeks & wrote our first song as a band, "The Mirror".

M: Does Enertia write in the rehearsal room, or do individual members bring finished songs to practice? How much do songs evolve from conception to completion?

J: All of our songs are written in the rehearsal room, but we all bring ideas in so we’re not starting from scratch. We all do an equal share of writing & that is why all of our songs will always be credited "written and arranged by ENERTIA". Everyone in the band has the liberty to add their own touch to a part & that definitely makes our songs evolve, although it takes us a bit longer to complete some of them by writing this way (a couple that come to mind have taken up to 4 months!).

M: Enertia is frequently compared to recent Flotsam and Jetsam: is this a valid comparison? What other influences contributed to your sound? I hear latter day Forbidden and Wrathchild America/Souls at Zero in your music as well.

J: All of the bands you mentioned are definitely influences on our sound, but we all listen to a lot of different bands & draw influences from bands like Thin Lizzy, Van Halen, Iron Maiden, Testament, Dokken, Armored Saint, Pantera & about 600 others that aren’t coming to mind at the moment. We also listen to a lot of modern stuff too & feel that by keeping an open mind & listening to other styles of music keeps us fresh when it comes to creating our own material.
The Flotsam And Jetsam comparison on our earlier material is actually taken as a compliment, as we really liked their mid period stuff, but we never purposely tried to sound like them. I think that a lot of people think Scott sounds similar to Eric A.K., as they both have very powerful voices in a similar range & he has also been compared to John Bush & Mike Howe just as often.

M: A lot of old time metal fans shudder at the mention of "groove" but Enertia's music is definitely very groove oriented. Still, the music is also very melodic and the combination is what defines your sound. Are you conscious of that balance when you write songs?

J : We spend a lot of time writing our songs & retaining melody in a heavy song is probably the most important element to us, and the groove just comes naturally. I describe our music as heavy metal with strong elements of groove, emotion & power, so if a fan of 80s metal has an open mind, there is no reason for him/her to "shudder" other than to the groove of our songs! ; )

M: What exactly is "The Law of Three"?

J: Although I’m not sure of the exact origin, I was told that it has to do with witchcraft & means if you do something negative to someone, it will come back to you 3 times over.

M: How would you describe the evolution of the band's sound from Law of Three to Momentum? To me it sounds a little more stripped-down and basic.

J: It wasn’t intentional, but that was how we felt in 1996/1997 & put our feelings into music. A couple of the songs on "Law…" were somewhat old & 2 of the riffs I used in "Child Now Lost" dated back to 1990, when I first started playing seriously. All of the songs on "Momentum" were written by the five of us exclusively, so there were bound to be many differences & hopefully, listeners will notice differences in every disc we make or it will be time to hang it up as we aren’t interested in repeating ourselves.

M: You played at the first Powermad festival, and got embroiled in a bit of controversy afterwards. Can you briefly describe the situation and how it was resolved?

J: This story involves the band U.P. & Keith Menser & unfortunately we just happened to catch one side of the story before we unwillingly got dragged into it. U.P. were scheduled to play at the festival in the middle of the day on Saturday & although they were all present, they didn’t play. At the end of the night, we saw them loading their gear into their van & asked them why & were told by Ken (guitar player) that they were told they couldn’t for no reason! They had flown in their singer from TX & their drummer from Germany (Jorg Michael) to play. I was shocked to see they all made the long trip & didn’t get to play & sent them an email when we returned home saying how they acted professionally for not going ballistic on the stage manager. I then heard they were suing Keith & using my email (without my consent) as one piece of evidence against him!!!!!! Keith told me the other side of the story where U.P. demanded to headline the entire show as the drummer from Stratovarius (that Jorg guy) was in their band or they weren’t playing.
The email I sent was written & solely based on what we witnessed: the U.P. guys just carrying their gear to the van like they had played w/ no yelling or tempers flaring or anything. I’ve always felt badly about it as had I known both sides of the deal w/ them giving Keith a ridiculous rock star attitude, no email would have ever been sent to them…..

M: The production on Momentum (and all of your discs for that matter) is HUGE!
How do you achieve that kind of sound on an indepenent budget?

J: Paul Benedetti at Max Trax studios does a fantastic job & has a killer studio with reasonable rates. Before we did "Law…" we looked into several different places & Max Trax is definitely the best place for the $ & we enjoy working w/ Paul as he knows what kind of sound we are looking to achieve & is constantly upgrading the studio to have the latest state of the art gear. Another thing we have always done is home demo all of our songs so we totally know all of our parts so we can put all of our efforts into mixing.

M: On the other side of the coin, all three discs sound essentially the same, with small differences to distinguish them. Have you ever considered using a different studio to try to find a new sound for Enertia?

J: We tried a new studio in January when we recorded "Walk All Over You" for an Ac/DC tribute on Dwell Records & were VERY unhappy w/ the results. It is ironic that this other studio we tried is actually a more expensive & somewhat better known place (as several bands like B.O.C. & Boston have recorded there). Unless we sign w/ a label that will front the money so we can work with Neil Kernon Andy Sneap, we will always go back to Max Trax.

M: Your new disc, Flashpoint, is your best yet, in my opinion. The songs seem a bit more involved than the ones on Momentum, and also a little more melodic. There also seems to be a greater sense of dynamics at work here. Would you agree? What were your songwriting goals when you wrote Flashpoint?

J: I totally agree, but I think our writing on Flashpoint reflects our moods & what we were listening to / influenced by when the songs were written. Momentum was an angry period for us & we were looking to take some elements from our previous discs, but move forward with our sound & that is the primary goal every time we write a new song.

M: What does the cover of Flashpoint depict, and how does it related to the album?

J: The cover of Flashpoint is a Federal Express envelope that was burned & then scanned & toyed with in Photoshop. The cover was designed by a friend of ours at Overit Multimedia & I guess you could say it is his interpretation of Flashpoint.

M: What are some of the lyrical themes in your songs? Frustration seems to be a very common topic.

J: Scott tends to write his lyrics about things he sees in people he encounters in everyday life, although I know he tends to not tell us exactly what the songs are about & gather our own interpretations. Frustration is definitely one, but there are a lot of different ones too. My favorite one is "Glitch" which is about Dave’s occasional sleeping disorder where he sort of lives out his nightmares! This always makes for very interesting adventures when we are on the road. One night in particular, after a show in New Jersey, we stayed at a friend’s house. When we finally got to sleep, all was peaceful at first, then all of the sudden, we were awaken by a table getting knocked over and hearing Dave growling and charging at Jeff who was sleeping on a nearby sofa! There was immediate chaos in the house as no one knew exactly what was happening, and my friend that owns the house thought someone had broken in and was ransacking the place! We still joke about the insanity of that evening to this day!

M:Enertia has been on the Internet a lot longer than a lot of bands. Would you say the internet is the primary vehicle for word of mouth in the metal scene today?

J: Definitely! I first got a computer in 1995 & saw the potential right from the beginning. I started on AOL & was amazed by the fact that I could communicate with people from all parts of the world so easily! It essentially turned us from a local band into an international band from the minute we uploaded our web site in 1996.

M: What is your take on the Napster/mp3/Metallica situation?

J: I have to say as a Metallica fan since 1982, I agree with their stance on the issue, but at the same time, I have no problem w/ a couple songs from each one of our releases being distributed, as it has helped to spread the name of the band to many people that would have not heard us or taken a chance on making a blind purchase of our CDs.

M: As an independent artist, Enertia probably makes more money selling their own CDs than it would if it were signed to an international label, even if units are moved. Is a label deal really worth it? Would you rather have a larger audience and make less money?

J: Money is definitely not a big issue with us as much as working with someone that believes in our music & will do a proper job in promoting us. At this point, I would be happy if we got to work with a producer like Andy Sneap & came out of the deal just breaking even. We do pretty good with selling discs on our own & of course, it would be great & much more rewarding if everyone could just go to a local store & pick one up, but with the internet, if someone is interested, all they have to do is write to me & I’ll be more than happy to sell them one!

M: Who are some of your favorite independent bands today?

J: I really like Division, Ion Vein, Lucid Reality & Psycho Scream to name just a few. We have worked with all of these bands playing shows with them & aside from all being great players & ripping performers, they make the entire experience of working with other bands VERY worthwhile as they are all team players.

M: What is Animated Insanity Productions?

J: As I pretty much handle all of the legwork for the band, I gave my company a name that I always wanted to use for a band, but could never convince them! ; )
I spend 50+ hours a week at my office & also do real work out of it, but I put a majority of my time into promoting the band via the net, the phone & the mail. Although I am very busy with all of things ENERTIA at the moment, someday, I will look into managing or even being an independent label for a band I really believe in.

M: You've recorded tracks for a few tribute albums in the past couple years. Can you list what tributes you've done, and how you feel your versions turned out? Do you know if you've won many new fans from the exposure?

J: We did "Cowboys From Hell" by Pantera, "Invisible" by Dio & "Walk All Over You" by Ac/Dc (which I already commented on above). We did the Pantera & Dio a month before recording Flashpoint & it worked out great as we were able to go in & shake off the "studio rust" as it had been a while since we recorded Momentum. We are actually very pleased w/ both of them as we were able to add our own touch to these songs. We’ve gotten several emails with comments on them & in turn they have led to selling our own music, which was our original intention with doing them. I don’t think ENERTIA will be doing any more tributes, but I would like to do a side project on a couple of songs for tributes with some friends in other bands.

M: If I could call the shots for Enertia, I'd make Scott scream more. He needs to cut loose more often, and really howl. That's not too much to ask, is it?

J: Scott is an amazing singer & could sing in any way he chooses from his powerful midrange or hit all the insane falsetto highs (although none of us, Scott included feel this style suits our music). I know he has some cool things going on in our newest batch of songs, so stay tuned…..

M: Enertia obviously works pretty fast; you've released three discs in three years. Have you written songs for the follow up to Flashpoint?

J: We have 7 songs that are complete at the moment, and are planning on writing at lease 7 to 10 more before we do release another disc. We have also thought about having Paul from Max Trax come out & record us to do a live CD, so you might hear some new songs before the end of the year.

M: When you started only a few years ago, your music was a little too melodic for most labels, and now it's probably not melodic enough, as the focus has really shifted to European style power metal. Have you found your music to be a tough sell, at least to the labels?

J: Speaking for myself, I have never written even one measure of music for the purpose of getting a record deal, but if it happens, great! I don’t think any of us will be bringing in a European power metal style song to rehearsal just because it is what labels are selling at the moment. There is definitely a market for what we do as we have sold over 5000 CDs on our own, have played 300+ shows & have a pretty good reputation in the underground, so I think a label would be interested to take that base following to the next level.

M: You haven't taken a new promo photo in a while. Is this because you don't want the media to know Scott cut his hair after Momentum?

J: Actually, Scott’s hair is just as long if not longer than it was in the promo shot, but we are a band that has NEVER been concerned about image. I remember he went to the studio early when we were mixing Momentum & as soon as I walked in, all eyes were on me to see my response, which was, "It looks great!"
As long as Scott keeps on singing the way he does, I don’t care what he looks like…….
BTW, we were supposed to have new promo pics taken in Las Vegas when we played there in May, but we were so busy, it just never happened. I have about 900 pics of us playing live that I will be posting on the net at some point in the near future.

M: Your past two albums have both had "Recycle Life, Become an Organ Donor" printed on the back. How did you come to espouse this particular message?

J: I was diabetic for 25 years & due to complications relating to it, I found out I was in the beginning stage of kidney failure. I immediately became a candidate for a kidney transplant & also learned that pancreas transplants were now a common thing, & with a new pancreas, I would no longer be diabetic!!!! I was on a waiting list from late 1992 until January 13, 1997 when I received a kidney / pancreas from an anonymous donor in Boston. I was very lucky as I never had to go on dialysis, but there are many that aren’t so lucky as the wait for transplants is absolutely amazing! Even if the message only reaches a few people that decide to sign up to become an organ donor, it was worth it.

M: What are Enertia's plans for the summer, and beyond?

J: We have 4 more shows planned this year & will be featured in an independent movie called "These Days", which we are scheduled to film in the middle of September. We are playing in a bar where the main characters of the movie go & it sounds like it will be a great time! After that, we will be writing like madmen for CD #4 & then playing as many shows as possible w/ the bands I mentioned up above.

M: Any final thoughts?

J: Thanks for giving us the opportunity to appear in your zine, which is enjoyed by every person in the band. I especially loved your story on Overkill w/ the picture of you & DD Verni w/ the boxing gloves!!! See you at Powermad!



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June 24, 2001