Inside the PRISMIND: An interview with Kelly Kereliuk
Interview by Rich Leggatt
Hamilton, Ontario, a predominantly working-class city, has long been a breeding ground for some truly inspirational Heavy Metal acts. Talent seems to be a birthright in "The Hammer" and one particular local band called PRISMIND are living, breathing, shredding proof of that.
Born from the ashes of Philosofear, PRISMIND's core members are Kelly Kereliuk on guitar, Justin Faragher on bass and Mike Harshaw (also of Annihilator) on Drums. The recent addition of veteran musician/songwriter/vocalist John Mamone has added another layer of seemingly impossible creative brilliance to an already exceptionally skilled group of musicians.
It was my good fortune to be able to talk to the very talented Kelly Kereliuk about his incredible band PRISMIND. Please read what Kelly had to say to HMS and be sure to check out their music here.
HMS: I was really, REALLY blown away by the tracks that I've heard from PRISMIND so far. Of course there's virtuosity with each veteran member being so talented and possessing a unique "voice", but the four of you also come together well as a solid unit. At this stage of the game are there any other bands or musicians, metal or otherwise that influence your sound?
Kelly: Thanks very much! As with any band, each member certainly has their own set of influences, which help shape their style and sound. There will also be common influences. There are so many to list, but I can safely say that bands like Megadeth, Dream Theater, and Rush are inspiring to all of us. That just scratches the surface though… as the list would not be complete without Nevermore, Testament, Dixie Dregs, Iron Maiden, Haji's Kitchen and etc - a pretty diverse selection.
HMS: The three of you have partnered with vocalist John Mamone, a brilliant performer and songwriter in his own right, after parting ways with Alan Packham in your previous incarnation - Philosofear. The two are very different in their vocal styles and delivery. What was the transition like and how much of an impact has John made on the songwriting?
Kelly: John is amazing. I had initially worked with John on his solo disc, "Order And Chaos", playing the majority of the solos on that. From that experience, I knew what he was capable of. I mean what an asset to any band - the guy is not only a strong and characteristic singer, but also a great writer who plays several instruments. His entrance to the band came when we acted on a whim and sent him one of our songs with no vocals. We just said, "Here, do what comes naturally comes to you on this… just for fun". Well, in one shot he nailed not only the vibe and presence that the music called for, but the lyrical angle as well. Done deal. I'll never forget Mike's reaction in particular, upon hearing that initial demo with John… he almost ran off the road. Haha!
From there we let him loose on all of our material, with equally great results. He really transformed them and put his stamp on them. We are having a blast writing the new songs too; with everyone "clicking" on every level, it feels like there are no limitations.
HMS: With this much creative talent in one band is it ever a challenge to agree on the musical direction of PRISMIND?
Kelly: You would think it would be! However, we are very much on the same page without having to convince or force things. It's very organic, and I would have to attribute that to "chemistry". Justin Faragher (bassist) and I have been playing together on and off for almost 25 years, so we gel very well. He intuitively knows what to play to compliment what I'm doing, or what Mike (drums) is doing. Plus, he's a beast! I still get chills listening to the bass fills in the second verse of "Dagger"! Beyond that, everybody seems to have the same sense of musicality, knowing what goes where and having a sense of balance in the music. So, the process is really quite effortless.
HMS: Hamilton definitely has a very vibrant, and very established, metal/rock music scene. Is there a lot of collaboration between bands and musicians in the Hammer and are they supportive of one another?
Kelly: That's a great question, but a tough one to answer. There is certainly a lot of talk about support and collaboration. I think they do, overall… but there is still plenty of room for improvement. I've noticed that bands with a similar sound tend to cluster together, and I'm not sure where we fit in all that. To be honest, we're not overly concerned about the "scene". I don't mean that in a negative way. It's just that we'll focus our attention where we are getting reciprocation and foster THOSE relationships. I can think of a few Canadian bands in our circle who are experiencing the same thing on a larger scale. There seems to be an acute interest coming from Spain, Brazil, Chile, and the southern States…and everyone who we've been in contact from those areas has been very supportive and genuine. We love those guys! Of course, things are just getting started and we're still feeling out the markets.
"...we are very much on the same page without having to convince or force things."
HMS: Mike Harshaw is also the drummer for Annihilator. Did Mike originally come to you from Annihilator?
Kelly: Mike initially contacted me out of the blue, looking to form a Megadeth tribute band! He was playing with Annihilator at the time and looking to put something together in his down time. Finding a Dave Mustaine is tough, as you can imagine! So, it never materialized. Instead, he was brought into the band in its prior incarnation and away we went.
Mike has been so awesome to work with on every level. There are tons of drummers with crazy chops, but Mike has the musicality and sense of balance that many players at his level don't. He listens to what is going on and adapts to what the song or part needs. To have that much firepower and be able to restrain it for the good of the song when needed…that's the ultimate. Plus, he's a cool and genuine dude and he's passionate about what we're doing. It's great having someone like that on board.
HMS: What's the status of the new album? Is there a set release date?
Kelly: There isn't a set release date as of yet, but we are very actively working towards its completion. Luckily, we have a great system that allows us to be almost completely self-sufficient, recording-wise. We record the drums at Blue Room Studios, owned and operated by Steve Negus (Saga). From there, we each record our own parts at home, as we all have recording setups. We know what we want, and we're gradually getting better at achieving it.
As far as level of completion, we're looking at around 8-10 songs for the album. We're still demoing new ones, but we're more than half way done, in terms of having the material together.
HMS: I don't often get to talk to the guitarist in the band, so I want to take full advantage of this opportunity and ask you about your gear. Is there a preferred brand of guitar and amp combination that you're faithful to, or do you incorporate a variety of guitars and amps to achieve specific results?
Kelly: I'm actually very straight forward and barebones when it comes to gear. I'm not a gear head at all! Haha! Give me a decent guitar that feels good and stays in tune and I'm set. I have an Ibanez 7-string that I've been using for about 14 years. That's my main guitar. I also have a Schecter 7 and a 6string Dean, that I won from Glen Drover in a solo competition.
As far as amps, I have a Peavey XXX-II that gets the job done live. No pedals or effects. Down the road I may add something here and there, depending on what the music dictates. For recording, I use the Amplitube software for rhythms and an old (and falling apart) Behringer V-Amp for solos which actually sounds pretty darn good.
I'll never go too far with effects and pedals and such, as I'm a terrible tap dancer.
HMS: From what I've heard so far I can imagine that PRISMIND puts on one hell of a good live show! Do you have any upcoming gigs in Hamilton, Toronto or the surrounding area at any point in the near future?
Kelly: We've done a few shows already here in Hamilton, and they were great! More will be arranged when Mike gets back from his summer tour with Annihilator.
HMS: Thanks so much Kelly for taking the time to talk to us. We can't wait to hear more from PRISMIND!
Kelly: Thank YOU for the opportunity and interest! Some great questions there. We'll be in touch! \m/
Rich Leggatt, HMS