Bloomington’s Ice Howl have recently completed writing a follow-up to their critically acclaimed album Crack the Earth. The band- Travis Roach, Tucker Thomassen (Thorr-Axe) and Niko Albanese (Lawbringer, Sea of Trees)-have gained a lot of attention with their unique brand of rock infused metal and their new self titled EP promises to please fans of their previous album while offering something a little different.
Scroll down for an exclusive stream of “Strength of the Brave” and check out our interview with Travis Roach, who was cool enough to answer a few questions about the new EP, his approach to songwriting, and more!
Indy Metal Vault: First off, thanks for doing this interview. The track “Strength of the Brave” off your upcoming self-titled EP absolutely rocks. It’s got the driving riffs and powerful vocals that made Crack the Earth so memorable and we’re excited to premier it. I remember reading that you were originally working on a full length and that it was almost cancelled before you guys decided to shorten it to an EP. Can you talk about the recording process and some of the challenges you faced?
Travis Roach: Thanks for having me, and thanks for giving me the opportunity to discuss the upcoming EP! As you said, I was originally working on a full length album, and I eventually decided that it was not going to be able to come to fruition. The recording process for me has been both fun and challenging. The differences in Crack The Earth and the EP in terms of recording are slightly different. CTE was recorded at Niko’s studio, and it took about 3 weeks in total if I were to guess. The EP is different in that I recorded the guitars and bass myself in my home studio, and the rest will be done at Niko’s studio. The main challenges this time around is simply scheduling. I have a baby due to be born at the end of May, and Niko is the busiest and hardest working musician on the planet, so getting us both together is a little challenging.
IMV: Ice Howl is kind of a tough band to categorize. I pick up rock influences as well as metal. What types of music or bands do you draw inspiration from?
TR: Ice Howl and myself have evolved since the band/project began. I had this vision of creating this Stoner/Doom band, and the original goal was to establish this idea that I’m continuing where I left off since I left Thorr-Axe. Of course, that has changed. Crack The Earth was heavily influenced by bands like Grand Magus, Kvelertak, The Sword, etc. It was me, but I felt like it wasn’t completely me. So I’ve been more open minded about my influences for the EP. I’ve been listening to Blind Guardian, Sasquatch, Truckfighters, Mothership, Pallbearer, and even Periphery. To be honest, that doesn’t really scratch the surface in terms of where I draw from. That’s why it’s hard to categorize it, and I’m completely okay with that!
IMV: How did you get into playing and writing music and what’s your approach to song writing? Do you start with lyrics, an idea, or a riff. Is the process collaborative or do you do the majority of the writing?
TR: It all goes back to when Tucker Thomasson and I were figuring out what metal actually was. We had these grand ideas for bands, and writing music. That’s all we use to talk about, and I learned a lot from him. We formed Thorr-Axe, and we wrote Wall of Spears. That was the proudest moment of my life when it comes to musical accomplishments. Years later I decided that I needed to try to write an album on my own, and Crack The Earth was the result. So yes, I do all of the writing for Ice Howl. Niko’s drumming and recording skills are the bread and butter of Ice Howl’s sound. Without him, none of this is possible. Tucker and Seth Crichfield have both contributed in huge ways, and I couldn’t thank them enough for their help! In terms of how I write, I usually start with a guitar riff or a vocal melody, and I work on it from there. Simple as that. Fun fact: All of Crack The Earth was written on an acoustic guitar.
IMV: Getting back to the new EP and more specifically the new track, the lyrics for “Strength of the Brave” seem more personal and don’t contain the fantasy elements found on Crack the Earth. What prompted the shift in subject matter?
TR: “Strength of the Brave” is probably the most important song I will ever release. I wrote the song for my soon to be son, and myself. I decided to go off the path lyrically, because I felt that I needed to. The message of the song is something that I feel is important, and it could apply to anyone. The message is to basically live your life by your terms. Don’t let other people tell you how to feel. Don’t let strife take over. Remain humble, because you are as only as good as your actions, and how you treat other people. Most important is that to know that you can overcome anything. It’s a very personal song, and I am willing to risk breaking character for a moment! So don’t worry everyone, there is plenty of fantasy elements in the other tracks!
IMV: What can fans expect from the rest of the EP and when it will it be released?
TR: The rest of the EP will be a little more upbeat, and one track in particular could almost be a power metal song. Haha! I think it will be just as remembered as Crack The Earth.
IMV: Are there any plans to do a show or a short tour to celebrate the release?
TR: There are no current plans to do a release show or tour, but that could change! Thanks for having me!