Twelfth Gate - A Summoning To Glory

By Joe Who?

I remember like it was yesterday. Last year around the fall time, I was out and about enjoying a day off. I decided to stop at a Best Buy and look around.

Now usually when I stop at a record store and I'm not looking for anything special, I always seem to find something that interests me, and I wind up buying it. On this day I stumbled upon some old blues that looked good, and when I got to the "T's" I found a band called Twelfth Gate.

What caught my eye about this cd was the art work. It reminded me of a band called Last Chapter and their release called "The Living Waters". I had no idea what this Twelfth Gate sounded like, I thought to myself "Doom Metal". I liked that Last Chapter release, so I decided to see what Twelfth Gate was all about.

When I listened to the cd later that night, I couldn't believe what I was hearing, this band was amazing. The band played metal in their own unique way. For the most part it had a Power Metal feel to it, but a more darker edge. I heard a nice mix of thrash and death metal, some great melodies, killer guitar solos, and to top it all off a incredible singer.

This band played with such passion and emotion, and was very good at paying attention to detail. From that day forward I was hooked, and became an instant fan.

I recently had a chance to speak with vocalist Scott Huffman. He brought me up to date on Twelfth Gate's future plans - which include a new album, a festival in the works they'll be a part of, a new addition to the Twelfth Gate line-up since the release of "Summoning", and a lot more.

Enter the gates and let your journey begin...

Wormwood Chronicles: Scott - You and Rob were both in the band Syris, what led to that bands demise? How did you guys hook up with Twelfth Gate?

Scott Huffman: Things weren't working for Syris anymore. The excitement had faded so we decided to call it quits. Twelfth Gate came about when Rob, Rich, and I decided to jam with Rich's old drummer Mike Neveril. We figured with a fast double bass drummer and Rich and Rob going heavier with the music, it could breathe new life for a new band. It worked. So now, in our fourth year as Twelfth Gate, the music is still challenging and fun.

WC: You seem to be the main song writer for the band, where do you get your inspiration from when writing lyrics?

SH: The boys write the music which in turn, depending on the feel of the music, I write the lyrics. With so much going on in this world it's hard not to find things to write about.

I still have a never ending fascination with the unknown afterlife, greed, temptation and the cruel and kind nature of human beings. I enjoy this even though I know I'll never make a hooky hit song.

WC: "Orpheus" is my favorite track, what's it about?

SH: The song basically is based on the Greek mythology figure Orpheus. You can be the greatest most respected man but you're still a mortal man in the end with as much pain as any beggar. All our lives are bitter sweet. It just applies true to us in the real world.

WC: Scott - You have a great voice, are you self taught or did you take lessons?

SH: Self taught, with help from my old vinyl records and cassettes - everything from Uriah Heep, Moody Blues, Iron Maiden, Judas Priest and on and on and on. I was a drummer early on but I always sang along with the tunes not knowing I'd become a singer. It could have been due to being shy. I knew I could play the hell out of the drums, but you better be good if you're going to sing standing in front of people. Finally I just did it because we couldn't find a singer and I was the only one with the guts to even try. I'm so glad I did.

WC: Jim Stopper (formely of Oppressor) is not listed as playing on Summoning, When did he join the band? Is he a full time member of the band now?

SH: Jim is a full member of Twelfth Gate. He contributes to the writing and is great to have in the band. I think he came in sometime around May 2003. We knew after Summoning it would be great to add a second guitar for the full sounding metal attack, like on the album. It was a wise choice for everyone involved. He has incredible energy on stage and keeps us laughing on the road and rehearsal. The band is complete with Jim.

WC: I like the artwork on Summoning, it's got an abstract style - you could ask 10 people what they think the cover art is about, and you would probably get 10 different answers... was this the idea behind it?

SH: Yes for the most part it's a thought provoking cover designed by my favorite artist Travis Smith. Even though the cover
may mean different things to different people, so does our music. The cover and music have synergy in some ways. We did have some input with Travis, but it was best to let Travis find his vision and go.

WC: You guys have played a bunch of shows in support of Summoning with bands like; Steel Prophet, Flotsam And Jetsam, Symphony X, Helstar, etc... Do you have a favorite show?

SH: I can think of two shows. Symphony X/Blind Guardian show and Helstar. When we played with Helstar I felt like a fan that got to play with one of his favorite bands. That was great! I never thought I'd ever get the chance to play with Helstar. I played the hell out of my Helstar cassettes. Very few bands played like that, it was all hair metal back then. The Symphony X/Blind Guardian show was a surprise success, it was sold-out with many people not getting in. It told me that metal was still alive and getting stronger. They are both great bands I just didn't know that many people thought the same way.

WC: Any good road stories?

SH: Yes, the one you reminded me of at our last show. I was out getting some air before hitting the stage and this guy comes walking by and asks me who's playing tonite? I said Twelfth Gate and Rictus Grin. I told him it was a metal show, so he said he wanted to check it out. Well, we hit the stage at Vnuk's in Milwaukee playing our tunes when that guy starts yelling "Rictus Grin, Rictus Grin" with his fist up high, "You guys are awesome". Since no one else would fill him in, because they were all getting a good snicker out of it, I said "Thank you very much, but we're Twelfth Gate". It was very funny, but you probably had to be there.

WC: Speaking of shows, I hear you guys are involved in organizing the Chicago Powerfest. Is this true? If so what can we expect for the 2005 show? Will Twelfth Gate play on it?

SH: The show is mainly organized by Chris Lotesto (Ion Vein) and Rob Such (Twelfth Gate). Twelfth Gate will for sure be playing Powerfest 2005, and the goal this year is to bring in a well known national. Last year was a blast and I can't wait for 2005. All the bands and fans were the best.

WC: You guys are working on a new album. What can you tell us about it?

SH: The new album is 75% written and so far it's heavier and darker than "Summoning". I can't say much more since it is still in the works and it dosen't have a name or complete feel yet. Having Jim Stopper in the band adds a new dimension to the writing; a little more dual guitar stuff. That gives me wood, in a musical sense of course. I can tell you that all the songs are all fun to play.

WC: Who's producing on this one?

SH: We are keeping the same team as our last album. It will be recorded and co-produced by Chris Djuricic at Studio One in Racine Wisconsin. The art work will be done by Travis Smith and will be released on Crash Records.

WC: How do you keep the creative flow while working on new material? Do you ever get writer's block?

SH: Creative flow comes and goes for everyone. We deal with it. Everyone in a band comes from different places and time frames. We eventually get it together and make it happen.

WC: You guys have been doing some shows this year, and treating the fans to some new songs. Is this your way of figureing out which ones will make the final cut - by reactions from the crowd? Or, will all these songs appear on the next album?

SH: So far all the new songs will appear on the new album. We know some songs will get a stronger reaction than others, but they have all been received quite well.

WC: I was wondering what you think of the Chicago metal scene? There's some great bands emerging lately like; Twelfth Gate, Ion Vein, Souls Demise, Eden's Fall, etc... Do you see Chicago getting on the map?

SH: Chicago has always had great talent over the years, most of it undiscovered. In my opinion Chicago has always been on the map for all kinds of great music. As far as the music scene goes, it has always been a balance of fans, bands and club owners. These days there are only a few clubs worth playing in the Chicago Metropolitan area. The fans are great here and in other cities like Madison, Wisconsin as we've recently discovered. We are hoping to get some more exposure in Milwaukee and around the Mid-west.(For Christ's sake, get 'em to Rockford!--Dr. Mality) There is no shortage of good metal bands from this area. The guys from Ion Vein and Eden's Fall are great examples. I haven't heard Souls Demise yet.

WC: Will there be any plans of releasing a live DVD? Would you record it here in Chicago?

SH: We have been trying to work something out for a while. I really hope that it will happen, but it will be up to our label to invest in this. We'd like to do a video too, and people in hell want ice water. Seriously both these things are in the works if we can manage it financially, at the right time with the right people and at the right price. I can only see doing the DVD in chicago right now - for our friends, fans, family and ourselves. I would pick the Metro for the venue. I always get good vibes on that stage.

WC: What Twelfth Gate song would you say best describes the band? Your signature song?

SH: I don't really know, maybe one of the new songs "Black Robe" or "Human Swine". When we play those tunes I can feel the power, I get those chills , you know? I feel like we did something right there.

WC: Thanks for your time Scott, any last words to close this interview?

SH: I want to thank you for the interview and your time.

Twelfth Gate's Official Website