“I love the Powerglove. It’s so bad!” This quote from the 1989 movie The Wizard pretty much sums up my feelings about the band of the same name. I fucking love Powerglove and I love it even more that after a lengthy hiatus, they are back in the game with a new album entitled Continue?
I recently had the chance to have a great phone called with Powerglove lead man/bassist Nick Avila where talked about the new album, why they were gone for so fucking long, carrying on without guitarist Chris Marchiel, and what Powerglove’s absolute most challenging show was. This was an absolute fucking blast so please press A to continue, strap on your Powerglove and settle in.
Nick, thanks so much for taking the time out to talk to me today!
Thanks, Don. It’s good to talk to you again. It’s been what? Five years or so?
It sure has. The last time we talked was when you guys were in Atlanta back in 2012. What the hell have you been doing since then?
Well, we’ve been hibernating in our basements working on this album. Well, I guess I’ll give you a real answer for this one. I was trying to decide on whether to give you a joke answer or a real answer [laughs].
It’s your call man. Whichever one you want to give is awesome.
I guess I’ll go with the real answer [laughs]. When we finished our tour for Saturday Morning Apocalypse, we took about a year to just take some down time. A few of the guys worked on some solo projects so we just kind of did our own thing for a year. We regrouped around mid-2013 and started writing and arranging a new album. Since we were off the road for so long, we all started working full time jobs again so we were recording it like one instrument at a time and it took us all pretty much a year. We worked at it really slow.
There was a pretty long stretch of radio silence from you guys as to what was going on. I even had some readers ask me if you guys had broken up.
We didn’t really update fans or press on like what we were doing because we didn’t really have a lot to say so yeah, a lot of people thought we broke up. We just didn’t want to play any shows until we were done with the record. We aren’t one of those bands that can write music and record in a van or in a bus. Whenever we would play a show, we’d get distracted we would stop working on music for like 3-6 months. We decided to stop playing shows and to just work on the record. We just went off into the shadows for a long time but now we have new music so we’re back out there. I do feel a little bad that some of the fans felt like maybe we abandoned them a bit [laughs].
I actually loved that you guys kept a low profile. It added a bit of mystique to the mix.
Yes. That’s why we did it. Mystique [laughs]. It was intentional mystique.
Did the departure of long time guitarist Chris Marchiel take some wind out of your sails at all?
Chris left the band in 2014. It was on good terms. He left to program and work on his own video game and to start his own company. He hasn’t released the game yet but he’s been working on that. As far as him being gone, I’ve noticed it a lot more live. From the recording standpoint, I think that Alex definitely having Chris around because he had to do all the guitars by himself [laughs]. It’s also nice to have two different guitar styles. Chris was a self-taught guitar player and he just naturally had a whackier style of playing. Alex is more classically trained and our new guitarist is also a trained guitarist who is more of a shredder. Some of Chris’ wackiness is just gone and I miss that about him. Also, Chris was kind of my co-frontman so I’ve had to pick up the slack and his dry sense of humor.
I always loved the, at times, comedic dynamic of you two together on stage.
Yeah, sometimes I would go into super metal frontman mode and Chris would bring me down a step. He would make fun of me, throw things at me, or if I made a mistake he’d call me out [laughs]. Now I just make sure not to take myself too seriously, to make fun of myself. Now I make fun of Ben because he’s the new guy [laughs].
The new guy always deserves it.
Oh, he does. I made him hold my dirty sock at the last show [laughs]. I tricked him into holding it and then made sure to tell the crowd how long I’d been wearing that sock without changing it and he just threw it on the ground in disgust. It was so great [laughs].
The new album, Continue?, was so cleverly titled. Did this have anything to do with Powerglove’s “comeback” or am I reading too much into it?
It’s both actually. Continue? ties into video games and then it also has to do with. I have to give credit where credit’s due. Chris (Marchiel) came up with the title back in 2014 and we all really liked it. One of the reasons we took so long making this album was because at some point we all just needed a break. We also questioned continuing with the band and we needed to make changes in our lives to make the band work. None of us questioned whether we wanted to continue with music or not because that’s not really an option for us. None of us really saw it coming when Chris chose to quit the band so continuing did become a theme for the album.
When coming up with arrangements for these songs, does one particular person get their way or is it usually a compromise?
We usually find ourselves compromising. A good example of that is that on this album, one of us wanted to use a sex beat. You know that “unts unts unts” thing? Another one of us wanted to use a blast beat which you know what that is. So to compromise, we ended up turning it into a “sex blast” [laughs]. So that’s how the sex blast was created. That’s how our music gets created [laughs].
Do you ever get tired of doing the video game themed material and if so, do you ever see Powerglove doing something a bit different like maybe 70’s/80’s TV theme songs?
Well, if we keep on taking ten years between albums we’ll be fine. We’ll be dead before we run out of material. No problem [laughs]. If we do get better about putting out albums, I think we’ll be ok. There’s been talks about changing it up a bit but there’s enough video game tracks that we want to do right now. If we do run out of songs to do, I think we’ll explore other avenues but we’ll be fine. I mean, we’ve taken songs that have almost 15-20 seconds of music and turned them into 5 minute songs.
I can only imagine how hard it can be for a band like Powerglove to not be confined to a box of sorts playing things like cons and what not. Do you prefer doing those kinds of shows or do you prefer touring with other kinds of bands?
Our paychecks prefer the conventions and sometimes at the conventions, you get free massages [laughs]. Every day you can get a free massage at some of these conventions. I’ve yet to get a free massage on any of the metal tours we’ve ever done [laughs].
I’m sure you could get free massages on those tours but I’d be a little weary about those.
[laughs] Yeah. Honestly, the conventions do treat us very well. I have fun at both and playing live shows is my favorite thing to do. There are just not enough conventions to quench my thirst for playing live music.
I first saw you guys with Symphony X here in Atlanta a few years ago and you guys really got a great response. I’ve heard of other tours where it was a bit rough on you guys. What tour was the most brutal for Powerglove to be a part of in the way of audience acceptance?
As for a show in particular, I would say when we played the 2nd set of Gathering of the Juggalos back in 2008. People were booing at us and throwing things at us [laughs]. The first set we played went alright but the 2nd set we played at 2:45 in the morning and I had just woken up. I thought it would be a good idea to get on top of the PA system and jump off of it on the first note of the song. Well, I tripped over my bootlace and I flew off the 15ft high stage. When I fell off the stage I bent the input jack on my bass and it made a sound like a thunderous fart. I didn’t have a Plan B so Basil told me to just fake it so I fake played for 30 minutes [laughs]. All the acts playing at ass o clock were all gangsta rappers so it was mostly a gangsta rap crowd and they were not having what we were doing [laughs].
But at least you guys rolled with it. What a fucking challenge.
Yeah, we like challenges. I think it makes you a better band to play in front of crowds that you aren’t used to in general. We’ve always had good counters for the ones that weren’t digging us. We dedicate songs to them and things like that. It usually shuts them up pretty fast [laughs].
How much money do you guys spend a year on inflatable swords or do you have an endorsement for this?
An endorsement would be a good idea. Our inflatable sword budget is probably far higher than any metal band in the industry today [laughs]. It’s really to inflate the image of the band and how big we are. You know how rappers rap about money and having lots of money? We just throw out swords like we’re huge [laughs].
If you could tour with any band, which would it be?
I think we’d all have different answers to that one. Right now, I think I’d really like to tour with Blind Guardian over in Europe. I think we’d do really well with this band called Ninja Sex Party. I’ve seen some videos of them playing live and they kill it. They’re pretty funny.
What are your tour plans for 2017?
We’re looking to start touring in September/October. We’re still in the early stages and possibly doing our first headlining run. Our fans have seen us support so many times doing 30-45 minute sets. If we can find the right support tour we’ll do one but I think we’ve been around for so long now that I think it’s time for our fans to see us play a full set.
I’ve heard people refer to you as a joke band. Do you guys find that kind of insulting?
No, we don’t get insulted. People can consider us whatever they want really. The way I’ve always seen us is that we take the music very, very seriously but we don’t take the image or the stage show that seriously because I don’t take heavy metal that seriously in general. I think the more seriously that heavy metal bands take themselves, the funnier they are. I’m also friends and I know a lot of very serious heavy metal bands but they’re like really funny, goofy guys. I don’t think our music is a joke because we’re not a comedy band. It’s not really our genre. I know comedy bands and the goal with their music is to make people laugh. That’s not really what Powerglove does. You may laugh because we made a song so ridiculously heavy but we do take the music very seriously.
Last but not least, any message for the Powerglove fans out there reading this?
Yeah. Thanks for not forgetting about us. We played in New York recently and it was almost sold out and we thought nobody was going to be there [laughs]. The response has been really great and I don’t care if you hate the songs or like the songs, I just care that there’s a reaction at all. When you’re stuck in a cave working on material for so many years, you kind of forget that anyone gives a shit so thank you for just expressing the fact that you give a shit and we really appreciate it.
Nick, thanks again for doing this. It was great to talk to you again for so long and welcome back.
Thanks so much, Don. We really appreciate it.