Interview with Contrarian done by Patrick
1.Hello guys how are you doing this week?Please introduce yourself to the readers?
Brian: I’m Brian Mason. Rhythm and lead guitar for Contrarian.
Jim: I am Jim Tasikas. Guitarist for Contrarian.
2.When did you first become interested in playing the guitars?Are you self taught or did you take lessons when first starting out?
Brian: I started when I was eleven, so…. 1984’ish. I heard Van Halen and decided I needed to do an approximation of what Eddie was doing. I took lessons for about 6 months and then locked myself in my bedroom for about two years to study EVH and Yngwie mostly. I learned every Iron Maiden and Metallica song that was out at that point and started playing in bands when I was 14 or so.
Jim: It was probably about 1986. I would say that Iron Maiden's "Somewhere In Time" set me on this path. I was a piano player at the time, had taken lessons for 10 years. I actually started playing bass, I wanted to be Steve Harris. I self-taught myself. This is the best way to develop your own style!
3.Who are some of your influences and favorite guitarists? Besides the guitars do you currently play any other instruments?
Brian: My biggest influence ever is David Gilmour. I don’t play like him as I feel no one should try to, but he earns my deepest respect. Even when I try to do Gilmour’esque passages, I try my best to only partially emulate him, but put my own stank on it. He is truly the one guy who can make me get chills with one phrase. From there, EVH, Yngwie, Nuno, Adrian Smith, Steve Hackett, Steve Morse, Jeff Beck, etc. I could go on forever. More modern guitar players I have been closely following are Guthrie Govan and Nick Johnston.
Jim: I would say my top favorite guitarists are Adrian Smith/Dave Murray, Andy LaRocque Jim Matheos, Chuck Schuldiner and Al DiMeola. You can obviously see these influences in my songwriting for Contrarian! As I said before, I played the piano and use it to compose many times.
4.When did you first meet the other members of the band and was it long before you all started Contrarian?How did you all choose the name Contrarian as the name of the band does it have a special meaning?
Brian: In the early-2000’s I was working on an album in the studio with my 3-piece prog instrumental band, when the engineer told me to get a hold of this Jim guy. Jim had a project going called Delirium Endeavor with Ed, Contrarian’s bass player. I don’t think I ever contacted him, but he contacted me at some point with 3 songs done. It took a few years for something to come together after initially working with Jim. George Kollias was the catalyst that got the project to finally move forward and those three songs were the first EP.
Jim: I have known Ed since the 90's. We started a band in the mid 90's called Manic and then Delirium Endeavor. He was the first recruit so to speak for my vision of Contrarian. As Brian said, we met in the early 2000's. Locally, He and I were coming from the same place when it came to guitar and metal. Lightness of touch and heavy on the nuance, hence our love for guitarist in bands like Maiden and Kind Diamond. George was the last piece of the puzzle for Contrarian. I finally found someone who could not only navigate these compositions, but understood and had love for the nuance and art of songwriting.
5.What is the current line up of the band?How do you feel the bands musicial style has changed over the years and releases?
Brian: Over the years, I think the bands direction has been nailed down more and more with each release. Right now, I think we are where we should be, while there were growing pains, both song-wise and sound-wise that we were dealing with on the previous releases.
Jim: Yes, I agree. We are all, what I would call "educated or veteran metalheads" in that when composing songs or sections in the song, we all can zero in on a reference point or distinct style in metal's evolution. This is more important than you might think. This lends itself to original and authentic riffs.
6.Their Worm Never Dies is the bands third full length release how long did it take the band to write the music for the new release?Does the whole band take part in the writing process or does one member usually write everything?
Brian: Jim starts it all off. He writes the songs. When we get his guitar track with a click track, the skeleton of the song is written and done. That’s not to say that George, Ed and I don’t write for Contrarian. Jim is humble enough to let us have at it. His direction to me is usually “Figure it out. Do what I do in whatever parts you feel is right and do what you want to do in other parts… Have fun.” I get zero restrictions and neither does George or Ed. Contrarian wouldn’t be Contrarian without George adding his flair, Ed writing crazy and amazing classical bass lines or me adding my harmonized rhythms and off the cuff, unrefined solo’s. Jim put’s a lot of trust into three crazy characters.
Jim: LOL - They were pre-screened before admittance into Contrarian! (yeah right, just kidding). You have to let each musician do his own thing. I think this is what Steve Harris, King Diamond, and Chuck Schuldiner (all composers btw) did and it was successful. One of my key talents for Contrarian was finding these guys. I think George Kollias suprised us the most! If you listen to Contrarian vs Nile, you wouldn't even think it was the same guy!
7.Who usually handles writing the lyrics for the music and what are some subjects written about on the new release? Which usually comes first the lyrics or the music?
Jim: The cover art comes first. This is kind of a weird thing about me. I need to create a story or theme for an album in my head first. Then come the music, each song is a different chapter or scene. Then finally the lyrics, a screenplay of the story or theme of the album. Metal music has been so opinionated that past two decades. I think everyone in Contrarian wanted to stay away from that. Especially in that lasted album, we wanted to get back to the good old days of Maiden and King Diamond style albums. Music and lyrics you can just lose yourself in and transcend the mundane anxieties of day to day life.
8.Has the band ever thought of making a music video for any of their songs? If you had an opportunity to make to a video for any of the songs off of "Their Worm Never Dies" which song would you like seen made into a music video?
Brian: I hate being in video’s, but I could see making one for “Exorcism”. I think it could be done in a cool way. I wonder how useful video’s are in today’s climate, but people are making them, so they must do something.
Jim: I think everyone in the back kind of rejects the whole "rockstar" thing. We like to let the music speak for itself for the most part, but videos can be fun!
9.Besides the upcoming Their Worm Never Dies release are the bands previous releases still available for the readers to buy? If yes what is available and where can the readers buy your merchandise?
Jim: Yes, of course! Please visit Willowtip Records official website or bandcamp! You can find everything there!
10.Does Contrarian play live very often or do you prefer working the studio?What have been some of the bands most memorable shows over the years?And who have been some of your favorite bands to share the stage with?
Brian: We can’t really play live too much as everyone is all over the place in the world. Jim and I are the only ones local to each other. My other band takes up a lot of my time as well. Getting the right people to cover George and Ed are key to us playing shows again. We did a few shows locally in Rochester with a backup drummer and bass player. We opened for both Mastodon and Hate Eternal at different shows during the Polemic release and while they went well, it wasn’t meant for longevity. We are definitely open to doing shows again when we find the right people.
11.Are their any tours or shows planned for 2019 in support of "Their Worm Never Dies"? If yes where will the band be playing?
Jim: Some booking agents have been in contact and we do have ability to pull it off. We would love to do a live CD and DVD, people always love those, I know I do!
12.When you need to take a break from working on new music or band business what do you enjoy doing in your free time?
Brian: I’m a 3D Motion Designer and Art Director, so I love art and design. I don’t do it much outside of work, but I have a great appreciation for it. I also have a small guitar shop in my basement where I occasionally do repairs and build guitars. I also watch a lot of Doctor Who and Game of Thrones 😉.
Jim: Well, owning your own business and having a family keeps you very busy. I would say Contrarian is my free time and taking a break!
13.Besides working in Contrarian do you or any of the other members currently work with any other bands or solo projects?
Brian: I get made fun of a lot for being in a lot of projects at once. Currently, I’m in a band called Sulaco and another one called CHRMR (Pronounced Charmer). Between the three bands, they are all drastically different in style and sound. I have been known to join Indie bands and even Alt-Country’ish bands just to keep me on my toes. I’m currently learning some jazz stuff as well. I was in an instrumental trio called BML for 16 years or so too which kept me really busy, but we finally called it quits in 2016.
Jim: LOL, Contrarian is all I can really handle! Composing is very time consuming, but I enjoy it!
14.Besides music we are huge movie fans here do you enjoy watching movies? If yes what is your favorite movie genre?
Brian: I actually work in the industry in a round about way. Everything I create and design is shown on movie theater screens. Unfortunately, it’s the advertising side of it, but… I am a huge horror nut, but I’m extremely pretentious about it. I love what the masses hate and hate what the masses love. It just ends up that way. In other words, don’t tell me that The Conjuring was a great horror movie.
Jim: Of Course! I would say Science Fiction and Fantasy.
15.What are your all-time favorite movies and what are some of your current favorite movies?
Brian: The Exorcist and Alien are probably my favorite mainstream Horror movies. Pan’s Labyrinth is in there somewhere too. I have a unique take on The Exorcist that drives people nuts, but I don’t even see it as a horror movie. I’ll save you from my drawn out explanation. It’s just a perfect movie. I have a long list of movies I love, but lately most horror/thriller stuff that A24 studios puts out is pretty great. France, Korea, Spain and Argentina have all been killing it too lately. I’m also known to love cheesy Rom/Com in a different kinda way. Not so much in an art way, but I find them entertaining… sometimes.
Jim: Conan The Barbarian, Star Wars, The Highlander and most of the Marvel films! But I like stupid cult movies too, like Big Trouble In Little China, Better Off Dead, King Pin, Me, Myself and Irene.... silly movies like these.
16.Do you have any favorite actresses and actors that you like to watch? Are their any directors that you enjoy watching the most?
Brian: I have specific actresses and actors I don’t like more than one’s I specifically like. If someone is good in something, then I like them, but there are a few actors that are not capable of “good”.Director-wise, I used to like Ridley Scott, but he hasn’t made anything that hasn’t been an abomination in decades. Same for del Toro, though I did like The Shape of Water quite a bit. Argento movies are always fun and cheesy in a good way, but lately, I have seen so many indie movies that have killed it, that I feel the age of the big director names is getting watered down in all genres. Jim from “The Ofiice” made a better movie then Ridley has in years.
Jim: I like Daniel Day Lewis, Jack Black, Kurt Russell, Harrison Ford, just to name a few!
17. Thank you for taking the time to fill this interview out do you have any final words for the readers?
Jim: YES! Please check out Contrarian if you can! It means a lot to us! We love seeing and hearing people's reactions to our art - good or bad!