IRONFLAME “Where METAL Dwells”
By Dr. Abner Mality
There’s been a rush of traditionally influenced metal bands in the last two years and while I consider this a good thing, it also means you have to separate the bandwagon jumpers from the real deal. Such is the reality of a coping with a trend.
Make no mistake about it, IRONFLAME is one of the keepers. Class rings out from every note this band creates, resulting in a sound that mixes NWOBHM influences with power metal and even 70’s hard rock. Most notable are the diamond-sharp vocal tones of one Mr. Andrew D’Cagna, who is the living and breathing heart of IRONFLAME. He writes all the music and performs every instrument during the recording process ( an actual band accompanies him on live tours). You’d think that would be enough to keep a guy busy, but Andrew is also a member of BRIMSTONE COVEN, NECHOCWEN, and ICARUS WITCH as well! Whew!
The new IRONFLAME album is “Where Madness Dwells” and it should raise the band’s profile considerably. It was a most opportune time to grab an interview with the busy Mr. D’Cagna, which he graciously granted me. Prepare to enter the realm of madness!
WORMWOOD CHRONICLES: Greetings and hails to you, Andrew! It seems that IRONFLAME is hitting the peak of its activity this year. Was there more of a concerted push to make this a breakout year for the band?
ANDREW D’CAGNA: Hails! I definitely did not plan for this year to be so busy with IRONFLAME. Most of the shows we have in line for the year are events that were originally planned for 2020 before the pandemic hit. So, we basically have three years worth of events all crammed into one. I am sure a lot of other bands are experiencing the same thing.
WC: It seems that the band and the new album “Where Madness Dwells” is rooted in personal loss and hardship. I understand the band itself is a tribute to a fallen comrade. Tell us more about this and how loss relates to “Where Madness Dwells”.
AD: You would be correct about the origin of the band itself. Although that is the reason we formed, hardship and loss is normally a subject I do not tend to dwell upon in this band. This new album is different. I did experience the loss of my best friend/business partner in 2020. It was a lot to deal with on top of the stress that the pandemic brought upon everyone around the world. I used the new album as an opportunity to vent about the things around me through writing lyrics.
WC: What’s the meaning of the title track? It really seems that madness is upon us...I write this a couple of days after the Buffalo mass shooting and other acts of violence and hate that seem to be everywhere. Is the song about current events or is it more personal?
AD: All of the lyrics on the new album are allegorical. Most of them focus on a single subject but the title track is an amalgamation of all of the chaos and unrest that has occurred around me lately. It has less to do with personal experience and more to do with what is going on around the world currently.
WC: What is “The Curse Upon Mankind”? I’m starting to think more and more that it’s social media.
AD: There IS a song on the album about the subject of mainstream media, but “A Curse Upon Mankind” is about organized religion. Not any one in particular, just about the abuse of power and trust that comes with things like religion. We have come so far as a species but it amazes me that after so many years of evolution, we still cannot be fully trusting of one another.
WC:The lyrics on the new album are said to be inspired by real life, but there is still a fantasy component to them. How important is it for IRONFLAME to use the fantasy metaphors and analogy?
AD: I suppose that is just something I cannot help. Fantasy is an escape from reality. But writing about reality in a literal sense tends to come across as preachy or political. Where’s the fun in that? That’s not very Metal, and Metal to me is supposed to be fun. It’s supposed to be an escape, a fantasy if you will. So, in that sense I would say it’s pretty important to me.
WC: IRON MAIDEN is naturally a big influence on IRONFLAME, but what are some of the other bands you draw inspiration from? I hear some THIN LIZZY and ANGELWITCH in there.
AD:That’s quite a compliment, I’ll take it! Seriously though, I appreciate you saying that. I really didn’t think those influences shone through in the music. I am definitely a fan of both THIN LIZZY and ANGELWITCH, THIN LIZZY in particular. Their guitar harmonies are inimitable, and ANGEL WITCH’s song structures and infectious choruses are unforgettable.
WC: Is there any influence on the band that would maybe not be so obvious? A non metal influence?
AD: I feel influenced by so many eras of music. I love the downbeats and basslines of 70s Funk. I love the raw, organic and sweaty rock n roll nature of Classic Rock. I love the super catchy choruses and synth-laden hooks of 80s Pop hits. I also love the early days of US/European Death Metal, Black Metal and Grindcore. I don’t discriminate when it comes to music. As far as I’m concerned, there is good music and then there is everything else.
WC: I understand in the recording process, you play everything yourself. That’s quite a tall order. Is it due to you wanting total control over the music?
AD: It is less about having total control and more about efficiency. I could surely just write and record my music in private, give demo recordings to the live members for them to learn and eventually bring everyone into the studio one by one to record their parts. I have done things that way in almost every other band I’ve ever been in and it works but it definitely takes much longer to work this way. To me it makes more sense to write and record finished songs and then give it to the rest of the band to learn in a live setting.
WC: Do the other members of the band contribute ideas to the music or does everything come from your mind?
AD: So far, the music has mostly come from me alone. There are a few exceptions like the song “Night Queen”, which was originally written by my friend Mike Miller who permitted me to reimagine it from its original form. A few songs we released as bonus material for the first album were written by old friends and also reimagined to fit the IRONFLAME sound.
WC: You’re involved with quite a number of bands and projects beyond IRONFLAME. Can you run down the other bands you’re involved with?
AD: NECHOCHWEN is a classically influenced Black Metal band I have been a member of since 2010. I compose bass guitar and drums for NECHOCHWEN, as well as engineer the recordings. BRIMSTONE COVEN is an occult-based 70s style Hard Rock/Heavy Blues band I have been a part of since 2011. In BRIMSTONE COVEN I play bass and sing. I joined ICARUS WITCH in 2018 and I sing in that band as well.
WC: How do you get yourself in the proper mental space for dealing with each band? Are their ideas that maybe start with ICARUS WITCH or BRIMSTONE COVEN but wind up in IRONFLAME? Or vice versa?
AD: It is actually quite easy to differentiate myself in each band. This is mainly because IRONFLAME is my only real outlet for writing my own music. One could say that ICARUS and IRONFLAME are in the same or similar musical genres but to me they sound quite different. I do not write lyrics for ICARUS WITCH, nor do I write most of the vocal melodies/patterns. Same goes for BRIMSTONE COVEN. Corey is the main songwriter in BRIMSTONE so I just play what he writes for me. In NECHOCHWEN I do have a hand in song building and lyric writing but the bulk of that is handled by NECHOCHWEN himself.
WC: Right now, you have new albums out from both IRONFLAME and NECHOCHWEN. Do you prioritize them equally currently? How do you juggle them?
AD: Again, this is something that is easier than it seems because not everything falls on me. NECHOCHWEN has been working on this new album for many years and most of the labor involved in the release of the album has been handled by the label, the PR company or NECHOCHWEN himself. Same with the new IRONFLAME. Most of my work in the technical sense is done. Now it’s in the hands of the label and we just need to deliver the goods in a live environment.
WC: What are live plans like for IRONFLAME? Any upcoming festivals or maybe travel to Europe?
AD: We have already played a handful of shows and done a few mini tours this year. We have festival dates coming up in June for the US. In July we head to Germany to play Headbangers Open Air as well as a few other club dates before/after the festival. After that it’s just a few local dates to round out the show season.
WC: Looking further down the road, how do you see the sound of IRONFLAME evolving in the coming years?
AD: It is impossible to truly predict the future, especially when it comes to music. I never really know where my mind will take me musically. I feel that over the years IRONFLAME’s music has been headed towards more traditional Metal territories. Perhaps that will continue, but maybe it won’t. Who knows? That’s part of the fun if you ask me. It will always be Metal, and that’s what truly matters.
WC: If you could ask any 3 people from history to dinner, who would they be?
AD: That is a tough one. I would have to say Alexander the Great, Benjamin Franklin and Aleister Crowley.
WC: Have you ever had a “Spinal Tap” moment with IRONFLAME or your other bands that you could share with us?
AD: I mean in reality, being in a band is like being in Spinal Tap to me. All the time, every day. None of the bands I am in take themselves too seriously. We joke around a lot. Whether you’re planning your next album or on the road for days at a time, being in a band means being able to roll with the punches and keep a positive attitude. After all, music isn’t a job. It’s a labor of love, always.
WC: Any last words for the faithful?
AD: Thanks for giving me the opportunity to speak! Thanks for reading and thanks for listening! Head bang forever!