By Theron Moore
It’s always a great thing to see local metal and hard rock bands do well. Beyond Threshold is one of these bands. When I left the Belvidere / Rockford area in 1992, the scene was on fire, lots of great bands. One of the things I’ve been trying to do with my book series, “All My Friends Are Rock Stars,” is examine the music scene back then as well as now, get it documented, showcase the music. Right now, Rockford band Beyond Threshold is leader of the pack, the band that’s set the bar high for future acts to follow. This interview will also be appearing in volume II of “All My Friends Are Rock Stars,” due to be published Spring 2017.
WORMWOOD CHRONICLES: Give me your impression of Rockford’s music scene from the 90’s to the present day. How has it changed and has it grown stronger, not at all, a little bit?
ERIK VIRGIN: Well in the 90's it was a different kind of era and economy. In general, music was in a better place. I remember local shows drawing up to 300 - 500 people. Back when we had clubs like THE ELIXIR and THE FLIC. It was awesome for the local bands in my hometown! Back then the community had more options for venues and bit more support from the local radio station.
In today's day and age the scene is still strong but a different animal. Although, There's still a lot of talented acts in the scene and friend Timothy Edwards at WXRX does a great job promoting them on his local show called; "The REVOLUTION WITH REVEREND TIME."
WC: Looking back on the 90’s era of Rockford’s music scene, which Rockford bands deserve mention, should be remembered as vital to that scene?
EV: There were a lot of them. I was really young and just getting started back then. Cheap Trick and The Pimps definitely had a huge impact. Also, Man Made Man, Agent Zero, Mr. Pill, Vigilance and LOC were kicking ass!
WC: What about today, what bands need to be mentioned and talked about? Who are the bands, besides Beyond Threshold, that are paving the way for the future?
EV: Our friends in COLOR MORALE are doing a good job right now. They have been touring the US and like us, have been reaching fans all over the country. As for the rest of the Rockford bands, I don't want play favorites by any means. Let’s just say there are too many bands to name off. It’s fucking crazy how many bands exist in the area! The whole community has been doing a good job. I would take a minute follow "The REVOLUTION WITH REVEREND TIME." His show definitely defines what I consider Rockford's Current Music Scene.
WC: When you think about the 90’s music scene in Rockford, is it as dynamic and exciting as you remember it?
EV: It was damn good. The one thing I do miss is back when the Waterfront had local acts perform every year! I have a lot good memories seeing bands perform and hanging out at "The Wall" with my friends.
WC: Prior to 2006, when Beyond Threshold was formed, what other local Rockford bands were you and your band members in? Has it always been metal?
EV: Technically, in 2006 we were "THRESHOLD." We didn't officially become "BEYOND THRESHOLD" until 2010 when we signed our first independent deal with TVR. Before the early incarnations of the band, I sang in a band called "POWERTRIP" and Todd Paluzzi was in a band called "DETACHED." In the mid 2000's John Sergel was in a band called "KAOS KATALYST" and Darren Moon played in "UNTOLD LEGACY." Darren is still active in "UNTOLD LEGACY" when he isn't touring with BT.
WC: What was your gateway into hard rock / heavy metal. What bands were you listening to, what concerts were you going to?
EV: My older brother, Sean Virgin introduced me to a lot of music growing up. He also helped introduce me to the music scene when I was younger when he fronted a band called "MAN MADE MAN." Back in the day, we were seeing metal bands like; PANTERA, SLAYER, MEGADETH, OZZY, FEAR FACTORY, KORN, MOTLEY CRUE, and countless others. Those were the days! Back when OZZ FEST was at it's prime.
WC: Are you where you thought you'd be at, career-wise with the band, or have you exceeded / not exceeded expectations?
EV: We have definitely exceeded my expectations. I knew the band would do well but not at this level. We have toured with acts that we would never dream of. To become peers with acts like that is just unreal. It's amazing we're able to do what we do and still love it like when we were kids. I am very lucky to call this my full-time gig!
WC: I noticed you're listed on the roster of Pavement Records. Does this mean you're no longer affiliated with Turkey Vulture? How did the Pavement deal happen?
EV: We are still involved with TVR. Jason Z the owner of TVR is still our producer and does active business with BEYOND THRESHOLD, INC. Our deal in 2012 with TVR for "WHO WE ARE" was in association with eOne and was re-released later on as Bungalo / Universal / TVR. In fact, BEYOND THRESHOLD's first album "REVOLUTION" is still under Turkey Vulture as a whole entity.
WC: Has there been any interest from larger labels such as Metal Blade or Century Media, for example?
EV: Actually, both company's A & R had discussions with our management back when we were shopping the 'LIVE TO FIGHT" record. After speaking with them and numerous other labels, we decided to go with PAVEMENT / SONY RED. They offered BEYOND THRESHOLD an international deal we couldn't pass up.
PAVEMENT has a killer roster of bands like; HED PE, SOIL, CANDLEBOX, SMILE EMPTY SOUL, to name a few. They gave us freedom to control the creative direction of band, offered radio support, and major label distribution through MEGAFORCE / SONY RED. I knew we had found our home when me and my producer went over the fine print. They genuinely believe in BT and that's what sold me in the end.
WC: Have you thought about relocating to say, LA, and try to take Beyond Threshold to a next level of success?
EV: No. Relocating to LA won't change our network reach. That all comes with having the right deals in place. Having a good marketing plan in place. Our international agent at TKO is based out of London, England. They also have offices in LA and New York. It's not where your band is located that is going to get you to the next level, it's hard touring, and your relationships in the business. Although, last time we played that way it was a fucking blast!
WC: What keeps you in Rockford, what does the city have to offer not just you, and the band, but other bands as well?
EV: Rockford will always be our home no matter where the band is located. When it comes down to it, we want to be close to our family and friends. As for other bands, Rockford is a great local music scene for young and upcoming acts.
WC: Is Beyond Threshold a full-time job for the band members, or, do you all work full time jobs and do the band on the side?
EV: BEYOND THRESHOLD is my full-time gig personally. Some of the members go to school or work part time when we are not touring.
WC: In terms of touring, has touring for Beyond Threshold been limited to just the Midwest or have you toured the country?
EV: There is definitely no limitations to where BEYOND THRESHOLD tours. As long as the offer is good and makes sense, we will be there.
WC: What stops the band from loading up a van and touring the country till the wheels fall off?
EV: Nothing. Actually, the wheels have fallen off in the past. No BS. This LITERALLY has happened on tour!
WC: If I didn't know anything about the band, how would you describe your sound to someone? Is metalcore a fair tag for BT or does that not do the band justice?
EV: I wouldn't limit us to any one sub-genre. We have elements of rock old and new. Elements of metal old and new. If we went by that sub-genre shit you would be totally disappointed going from track to track. None of our albums follows one style. None of our songs follow a set formula. If you want to describe it, just call it BEYOND THRESHOLD.
WC: Regarding Beyond Threshold, where do you see the band in five years? Major label, full time touring?
EV: Same place you see will us now! With a great label and touring the US!
WC: You’ve gigged with many major metal acts – Korn, Hatebreed, Sevendust, etc. Do you ever sit down and have an opportunity to talk with them, try to get band / career advice? Which bands gave you the best advice and what did they tell you?
EV: Absolutely I do! I gather a little by little from everyone I speak to. I don't necessarily go out of my way to gather it ether. It just tends to come out of left field. Howard Jones (Killswitch Engage / Devil You Know), Jamey Jasta (Hatebreed), Sid Wilson (Slipknot), Don Dokken (Dokken), Vinnie Paul (Pantera/Hellyeah), Tim King (Soil) are some stand outs that gave some me solid advice. It comes down to putting in your time. Finding the right team behind the band. All things we have definitely established over the years. You can take or leave it. I take it and apply.
WC: What does 2017 hold?
EV: We are going to take a short break at the end of this first tour cycle then we are taking January off to spend time with our families. By the end of winter you'll start seeing more traction in the BT camp.
We have plans to shoot a video to follow our newest single. In spring, you'll see the band touring hard leading up to all the radio festivals that come with Summer. There are a bunch of great things in the works that we will be announce the first quarter of the new year. All I can say right now is we will be hitting it hard!
WC: Final thoughts. What do you want to tell the fans about Beyond Threshold. What do we need to know?
EV: Come see us live, you won't be disappointed! Also, make sure to check out BEYOND THRESHOLD's new record "LIVE TO FIGHT!"