INTERVIEW WITH CHRIS OSTERMAN OF IRON KINGDOM

IRON KINGDOM is a rising metal force from Surrey, B. C. Canada bringing back the classic sounds of 80s Traditional Metal. Inspired by groups such as Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, Blind Guardian, Scorpions and Rush, the Band was re-formed in 2011 by Chris Osterman (guitars-vocals), along with Amanda Osterman (drums) and Leighton Holmes (bass). As you can guess, Amanda is Chris’ sister.

The trio is joined by Kenny Kroecher as the 2nd guitars and their debut album “Curse Of The Voodoo Queen” was released in December 2011. The second release “Gates of Eternity” came in April 2013.

Iron Kingdom will hit European stages this spring and make their first big festival appereance at Keep It True this April. Before, we see them live at KIT and before their first European trip, Chris Osterman accepted our interview request.

HS –Hi Chris, how did you come together as Iron Kingdom, what were you all doing before IK?

Iron Kingdom was formed just before the recording of our first album ‘Curse of the Voodoo Queen’ it was Amanda, Leighton, Myself and our rhythm guitarist Jordan. We had all been playing together for a few years under a different name. We felt that the name change symbolized a new beginning.

Shortly after the recording of our debut album, Jordan left the band to pursue a career in engineering. We spent a few months looking for the right member to help push Iron Kingdom to a new level, then we found Kenny, a guitarist who could really keep up with the technicality Iron Kingdom was heading towards. Kenny also added a dual lead guitar approach, which was something we never had the chance to do before.

I started the band when I was very young, Amanda and Leighton both joined me at an early age and neither of them ever played in any other bands before mine. Kenny on the other hand played with multiple bands through Western Canada before finding a really good fit with Iron Kingdom.

HS – Did you expect to get this much attention and praise? You are seen as one of the most promising heavy metal bands…Where do you see yourself 5 or 10 years from now?

That’s great to hear that people are looking at us in that way!  We want to entertain and be the best we can be, it’s so awesome when other people see us as a promising band for the heavy metal genre and we hope we will not disappoint!

In the next 5 to 10 years it would be great if we get paid to live off of simply making music and touring. I’d like to see more albums released by us, and tours that span the earth. My greatest hope is that we as a band stay strong and stay together through the test of time, and that maybe one day people will be looking back at Iron Kingdom as an important band for metal’s history, that would be an honour of the highest degree.

HS – Based on the experience of other Canadian bands, it is widely believed that (or it occurs to me) that Canadian bands can have a disadvantage in being known worldwide. Do you think that Canadian bands get enough attention from US fans compared to a US based band?

I do agree that a band based out of the USA may have an advantage, but I think it is in that they can perform to larger cities than we can in Canada, and the cities are much closer together due to a more dense population.

Although I think if your good enough it doesn’t matter what country you come from, if you can entertain, word will spread it just may take a little longer depending on the location.

HS- Do you have contacts with a label, why did you stay unsigned, was that a choice or was it compulsory?

Yes we do have contact with a label, but they haven’t offered us a deal at this time. We are willing to sign with any label that understands we will work hard, but want to have a certain amount of creative control, that way we remain true to who we are. I think being signed would be very helpful with touring and getting more promotions around the world but we will keep on truckin’ either way!

HS – You don’t have a label to promote you, how do you deal with the business, making your own music, selling it, promoting, etc all by you…this needs hard work I guess? I am asking this because honestly, I wasn’t aware of the Band before being booked for KIT…

Very interesting you ask, yes it is very hard work, and I spend many countless hours doing all of that, mostly on my own, but we have some really great contacts in Poland, the UK, the USA and all around the world, who’ve been really amazing to help us push forward by utilizing their contacts and networks in the metal world.

I have to be honest when I say some of these people I have worked with prove to me that the human race is not completely lost, they are so passionate and selfless with what they do, these people are willing to help in anyway they can, and many of them I’ve never even met before. I am truly proud that they respect my band enough to offer their help.

HS – I have read that you attended the Canada’s Got Talent show, when was that, how did it go? and, really why you were there, especially considering that you play traditional metal? (I mean it can be more related for Lordi to enter a contest, as they are really doing a show business)

We performed on Canada’s Got Talent back in 2011 I believe, we got to perform in front of 1800 people and to a TV audience of close to a million people across Canada.

We are the kind of people that try out every opportunity that we can, because life is short, who cares as long as we do it the way we want to, Right?

We performed ‘Legions of Metal’ in front of an audience who probably thought heavy metal was a distant memory, and we slapped them right in the face with metal screams and guitar solos. You know after that show, many people from the audience were telling us ‘Finally a band that plays real music!’, we got the word out to a mainstream audience to get ready, metals coming back!

HS- You have strong lyrics and very good album covers and also a perfect name for a traditional heavy metal band. Who is the mastermind behind these, who determined the band’s name, who determines the covers?

Thank you very much!  Ill answer each separately,

Leighton (Our Bassist) writes most of our lyrical content, which is a huge contribution he’s been able to offer our band, he has a very strong sense of the English language and some very interesting ideas. Although I must add that Leighton is not the only person responsible for our lyrics up to this point, as Amanda and I also have lyric credits throughout both of our current albums.

Our album covers are a combined effort between the band as a whole and the artist that we have hired. We work as a team to imagine and describe how we feel our album cover should be depicted and we describe it to our artist, Nicholas Frenette (A local painter/artist) who then brings it to life. He’s great to work with and always is willing to work with our ideas and opinions.

As for the band name, well that was extremely tough, we spent almost a year deciding on a name. We had multiple meetings and discussion over ideas until finally I came up with the idea just before we went into the studio to record ‘Curse of the Voodoo Queen’. We thought it portrayed our style and image the best out of our ideas so we took it!  I would say it was a group effort as everyone had great ideas to bring to the table; it was just mine that ended up being the final choice.

HS – You all live in the same area, I guess, do you spend much time together, how is the metal scene in your local area?

Yea we all live within about a 20 minute drive from each other, which isn’t far but we don’t get many opportunities to really hang out on a personal level. We all wish we could find more time to do so, but being in a band that’s really fighting to be heard we spend most of our time together practicing, writing new material or working on other aspects of the band.

The local metal scene can be very strong, but it usually depends on how many shows are happening on the same night and which show people decide to go to. There are some really loyal followers that we see at almost every local show we play and that’s a great feeling to see them out there and to be able to hang out with people you know after the show!

Unfortunately I would be lying if I didn’t say that old school metal is not the strongest musical genre in our area. Many of the metal heads here prefer death metal over traditional or power metal, but the worst part about the scene in Vancouver is most of the nightlife is for techno and rave music, the way I see it is that todays Techno is the new version of 70’s Disco, and one of these days metal’s going to come back stronger than ever. People will want something real and once they realize that the music scene will change.

HS- This will be my 6th visit to KIT Festival and the atmosphere is totally great and unbelievable there. What are your expectations for this festival? Did you play in any major festivals before?

We have no idea what to expect, but we’re hoping that we’re going to be performing to a large audience of metal heads that live and breath the same music we do. For example, she was worried about whether transported there she was capable of helping the many homeless and chronically ill paraplegic patients who come to the hospital. I have a strong feeling that we’re going to have a great time!

Up to this point we have performed at a few smaller metal festivals but nothing nearly as large as KIT XVII.

HS – You are currently planning a European Tour, how are the works? As far as I can see, there will be shows in UK and Poland; will there be any other dates? Do you have a booking agency or manager for planning this tour?

Usually I book most of the shows, but we have had a lot of great help from fans and bands in each country who have connected us with promoters and venues. Some bands have even gone ahead and booked the shows for us, which has really helped make my job easier.

We have shows in 5 different countries throughout Europe,

Here is the most updated tour schedule so far:

April 4th – Vancouver, BC @ Funky Winker Beans (Tour Kick-Off Party)

April 18th – Stadskanaal, NL @ De Spont (Very ‘Eavy Festvial IV)

April 20th – Vernouillet, FR @ L’Amandier (Warm Up Festival 2014)

April 26th – Lauda-Konigshofen, DE @ Tauberfankenhualle (Keep it True XVII)

April 27th – Bielsko Biala, PL @ Rude Boy Club

April 28th – Gdańsk, PL @ Klub Metro

April 29th – Szczecin, PL @ Szuflandia

April 30th – Uelsen, DE @ UJK (Formerly UJT)

May 1st – Kingston, UK @ Fighting Cocks

May 2nd – Southampton, UK @ The Firehouse

May 3rd – Redhill, Surrey, UK @ The Hell Fire Club

HS – As a fan, which Bands attract you most at KIT festival?

Personally I am very excited about all of the bands at the festival. I mean from what I’ve heard each one has great tunes and a great sense of what heavy metal is, from the newer bands like Night Demon, and Stallion, to the seasoned bands like Jag Panzer, Lethal, and Metal Church and everyone in between I think KIT XVII as a whole is going to be absolutely incredible!

HS- What do you think of new metal trends, thrash metal seems to rise again with NWOTM bands are you familiar with other genres?

I totally agree with you and I think its great that thrash and traditional metal are on the rise as those are two of my favourite sub-genres of metal!

I haven’t really noticed any other genres gaining as much popularity, but I think it’s about time for some old school metal to come back!

HS- What are the positives and negatives of being in band as brother & sister?

On the positive side we can talk about metal anytime we are together and she actually knows what I’m talking about, so that’s rad!  It has also created a new bond between us that many siblings will never have.

But of course there are always negative effects to a situation like this. It has caused stress between us, and of course we disagree on some topics, but no one on this earth is exactly like the other person so there will always be arguments and disagreements in any relationship.

Amanda has always been there for me, and I know she will be there when I need her to be, I’m very proud to have her perform music with me in Iron Kingdom.

HS- Considering Amanda, we are mostly familiar to female voices in metal bands but it is not very common to have a female drummer, how did she get behind the drums?

Amanda started her musical journey on the piano at a very young age. After she was reaching the highest levels of training (Grade 10 Royal Conservatory) she wanted to try something new. Amanda heard that we were in need of a drummer and she thought it could be fun to try it out, so I helped her get started and she’s been with us ever since.

HS- Who was your idol in metal, have you met him/her?

I have found many inspiring musicians in metal, it is hard to choose just one, but I think for me it would be Steve Harris of Iron Maiden. He has a great business mind and has always known what he wanted. I like to believe that I have some similar qualities and a work ethic close to his. I have not yet had the chance to meet him but if the day ever comes I would be very happy. He is a man who truly deserves every achievement he has had in his life.

HS- Can you remember the first metal song you heard, first record you bought or seeing a live concert?

First metal song would be Deep Purple’s Smoke on the Water, first record I bought would be AC/DC’s Highway to Hell, and the first live metal concert I saw was the Scorpions, all three of these experiences changed my life in very considerable ways, leading to who I am today.

HS- Was there a certain person-family, friend-who took you in metal?

Yes actually my uncle’s were the first people to really show me the power and energy of hard rock. I found heavier bands like Judas Priest and Iron Maiden once I got into high-school and made new friends who grew up on metal music.

HS- The worst thing happened on a show/tour?

Well it’s tough to pinpoint our worst experience, but I have a funny story for you!

We were driving through Northern Canada and this very large beetle got into the van, nobody noticed it for quite some time. Kenny was driving, and I was sitting in the front passenger seat, I moved my hand through my hair and I felt this ‘stick like object’ so I flicked it off my head. What I didn’t realize is that it was a large beetle on my head and it just flew away and landed onto Kenny’s leg. Kenny noticed this beast of a creation, and just attacked it with everything he had, haha we were swerving all over the road. I mean at least half the band was sure we were bound to crash!  Kenny stepped on it and smacked it but it just wouldn’t die, finally he kills the thing with a mug he found in the van. Somehow we didn’t get in an accident but we still bug him to this day about that one. Looking back, it was hilarious!

HS- What are your hobbies or daily job besides music?

I work as an Audio / Visual Technician, I will set up technical equipment at corporate events and sometimes concerts and festivals near my home. I also work with my dad as a heavy duty mechanic assistant to help bring in some extra cash.

HS- What do you listen at home, in your car, how is your personal music taste?

My personal music taste is traditional and power metal, I also listen to thrash metal, and I enjoy some progressive metal. Going into genres unrelated to metal I appreciate classical music, orchestrations, and symphonies.

HS- Do you like to play covers on stage, which cover you like most?

I enjoy playing the odd cover on stage, usually if we play any covers we try to limit it to just one a night. Some of my favourite covers Iron Kingdom has played in the past are Breaking the Law by Judas Priest, Transylvania by Iron Maiden, and Metal Health by Quiet Riot, they’re all really fun and energetic tunes to play onstage.

HS- Thanks for this great interview Chris, I wish you good luck and hope you catch many new fans in the upcoming tour, I’ll see you at KIT?

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