Many moons ago, before 4 Letter Nerd was even a twinkle in our eye, I wrote music reviews for a distribution company’s monthly catalog. My job was basically to convince stores to order more “underground” albums than they were used to ordering by convincing them that younger people would buy them. I was pretty damn good at. One month, would’ve been back in 2008, I decided to review the new Soul Embraced album, Dead Alive. I loved the band, and it had been about 5 years since they’d put out their last album, Immune, so I felt like it was my duty as a fan to spread the Gospel of Soul Embraced. Well, in spite of my good intentions, that turned out to be a fatal blow for me, as one women, from one store, wrote the company a letter complaining about the review and the nature of the album. I suppose she wasn’t a fan of metal and the cover offended her. The president of the company gave implicit orders that my column be removed immediately and permanently. And that’s the story of how Soul Embraced got me fired from a job. But you know what, if I had to do it over again, I wouldn’t change a damn thing. I was proud of that article, I loved that record, and I’m not sorry one bit for telling people to buy it.
Fast forward almost a decade and I find myself getting to talk with Rocky Gray, who founded Soul Embraced. In addition to that, he’s also in one of my other all-time favorite bands, Living Sacrifice, and was a member of Grammy Award winning, multi-platinum selling band Evanescence. Rocky and chatted about his career, his work doing film scoring, and who makes the best cheeseburger. Check it out!
4LN – For those that don’t know, you actually started playing in bands (most notably, Shredded Corpse) back when you were roughly 15 years old, if I have that right. What was your introduction into metal, and what bands or musicians influenced you to want to be a musician yourself?
Rocky Gray – Motley Crue, Twisted Sister, W.A.S.P., early 80’s bands, that was the start of my metal education. Before that I was really into Kiss. Kiss is what enticed me to become a musician. Metallica is what kept the dream alive.
4LN – Your musical versatility is quite impressive, what with you having the ability to play pretty much any instrument you put your hands on. Have you found that any one came more naturally than others, or is it a fair balance of “practice makes perfect” with all of them?
RG – Drums came to me very naturally. Guitar took some work. Still working on the keyboard.
4LN – Of all the amazing albums you’ve been a part of crafting and creating throughout the years, is there any one that stands out as being especially memorable?
RG – The Evanescence record Fallen changed my life. You grow up hoping to accomplish all of these things in the music world and to be able to see a lot of those dreams come true is amazing and something I don’t take for granted. Its a blessing.
4LN – Now that we’ve talked a little about your past I’d like to move on to what projects you have going on now. Specifically, it was recently announced that you’ll be doing some scoring work on Volumes of Blood: Horror Stories. How did did this opportunity come about?
RG – I had followed the original Volumes of Blood and the progress of that film and the success they had with it so when I saw that they were doing a sequel I wrote the producer, P.J. Starks, and told him if he needed a composer to get in touch with me. He got back to me and we started discussing what we could make happen. So far I’ve done the Theme song and am scheduled to score director Justin Seaman’s segment of the film. Not sure if I’ll be doing any more than that but were still pretty early in production.
4LN – Is film scoring something you’d ever considered before now, or was it just more “Sure, I’ll give this a try”?
RG – I had wanted to work in movies for quite a long time now. I had always been too busy with the different bands to take the time to figure out what I had to do to get into that world. After We Are The Fallen took a break I got a call from a producer in California and he asked if I would score his film and without hesitation I said yes. It was a great learning experience for me and from doing that one I knew I wanted to keep scoring movies. Since then I’ve scored 2 more movies, 2 video games, a commercial, and the theme to Volumes of Blood:Horror Stories.
4LN – Can you tell us about any other projects you’ve got right now, or might have on the horizon?
RG – The Barn original motion picture soundtrack is out on vinyl and cassette right now from Lunaris Records. I recently did the score for Eric Stanze’s new film In Memory Of that is in post production.
4LN – This next section is our lightning round questions. Just answer with the first thing that comes to mind. Since you’re scoring a horror film, my first question has to be, what’s your personal favorite horror film?
RG – It’s a tie between Halloween (original) and the Exorcist.
4LN – If you could only listen to one band for the rest of your life, who would it be?
RG – Metallica
4LN – You’ve spent a lot of time out on the road, touring and eating food from all over the world, but what place has the best burger you’ve ever eaten?
RG – The Cheeseburger from Buffalo Wild Wings in the good ‘ol USA!
4LN – What up-and-coming band, or bands, that we might not have heard of yet should we be listening to?
RG – I’m so out of the loop on new bands. If you haven’t heard Born of Osiris or Thy Art Is Murder maybe check them out.
4LN – Which tour van’s always smelled worse, Living Sacrifice or Soul Embraced?
RG – Living Sacrifice!
4LN – For my last question, I want to bring together both horror and metal to ask… If you we’re putting together a Death Metal Super-Group with slasher movie villains, which slashers would you choose to slaughter the ears of the world alongside you, and what instruments would you put them on?
RG – Ghostface on vocals, Jason Voorhees on drums, Cropsy on guitar, Michael Myers on bass. Ill run front of house for them.
I want to thank Rocky for speaking with me. Make sure to check out his website Rocky-Gray.com to stay up-to-date with his projects. You can also contribute to helping Volumes of Blood: Horror Stories get made by checking out their Indigogo campaign.