There were several points during this crazy journey when I thought Threat Signal was over… But somehow we made it through. I can’t believe we are preparing to record our 4th record! It only seems like yesterday that we were just releasing our first! Its been a long hard road but I wouldn’t change a thing. I’ve lived and learned and it’s made myself, and the band what we are today. No regrets. -Jon Howard (vox)
Threat Signal are one of the best cyber metal meets alternative meets thrash mash up tornadoes you will ever hear or witness. Not many bands in that category? That’s right. I often tell people they are kind of like if Linkin PArk never gave a fuck or had rap and screamed over really powerful lock-step grooves or speed riffing. Plus, the Canadian group have something many metal bands don’t…real songs. I can still throw on ‘United We Stand’ from their Vigilance release after however long and in no time I am bobbing my head and feeling uplifted and adrenalized.
I caught up with workhorse vocalist Jon Howard, one of the coolest dudes in metal, and found out about Threat Signal’s pending 4th album, working with Nick Menza from Megadeth fame on a side project, Howard’s helming of the boards as an engineer at his own Woodward Studios (bands in need should check out the link!) and much more!
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How is it going, dawg? Long time. What is new with Threat Signal these days? I hear you are recording a new record?
Doing great man! Threat Signal did some touring through the US and Europe a few months back,but since then we’ve been focusing on writing the rest of our new album. So yeah, we hope to be hitting the studio very soon!
You’ve been real busy at your Woodward Studios. Do you prefer engineering or performing? What can Woodward offer bands? How was it working with Speed from Soilwork on the new Endast record Thrive?
I love both equally to be quite honest, but in different ways. I really enjoy being behind the scenes in my studio creating music, and helping other bands hone their sound. I’m also a big music gear nerd…So I love it. But after a while I get the itch to travel and spread my own music to the masses. Nothin beats screaming in kid’s faces and rockin the fuck out!
Woodward Studios offers bands the chance to have their music produced, tracked, edited, mixed and mastered at a professional level for an affordable price. I provide a very relaxed and fun atmosphere that does not charge by the hour. I have a fixed rate per project so neither myself or the band will feel any money or time constraints. We use only the top of the line recording gear, Pro Tools HD, high end pre amps, compression, mics, etc. I’ve worked in a lot of studios in my time, so I’ve learned from the best. If you have any questions please hit me up at firstname.lastname@example.org
Speed from Soilwork has worked in my studio several times as a songwriter and producer. He is an amazing person and great artist to work with! We had such a fun time working with the band Endast during their album Thrive. Speed brought a lot of new musical ideas to the table and pushed the band to their highest potential.
Threat Signal was crowd funding a tour recently and I thought unfairly caught some slack. People think tours should pay for themselves but these days most bands expenses are more than ever for less and less return. I know an indie girl who is crowd funding a tour to Europe. For all the stupid kickstarter requests for a new toilet or whatever random thing, this seems not such a big deal.
Well, that’s the sad reality of the music industry. A band at our level has a hard time making money on the road sometimes. It all depends on the tour and how much our guarantee is. Sometimes we do great. Sometimes we barely survive. For example, an opening band in this genre will make $100 – $200 per night. That’s not per member. That’s for the whole band. Take away management fee, booking agent fee, then your most likely not even left with enough gas money to get to the venue, let alone eat or pay your rent back home. Merch sales are hit or miss, depends on the crowd. Some nights you could walk away with a few hundred, some with 50 bucks. More like 50 bucks if you’re an opener. So yea, having the crowd funding option is totally a great thing. It’s not like we are begging for change either. You’re actually buying something cool from the band like a signed CD, shirt or music lesson. There’s nothing negative what so ever about this concept! The fans really saved our asses last year for some touring, so thank you so much! We will only have these fund raisers if completely necessary.
What do you find yourself writing about these days?
Well, the previous album I was really into conspiracy theories and politics. I have a really open mind so I think exploring these ideas and theories is healthy. However, this lead to a lot of anger and confusion, and I didn’t want to get caught up in that this time around. I still stand by every lyric I’ve written, however I’m in a different headspace right now. Lately I’ve been focusing on myself, digging really deep into who I am and what I want from life. It will be a very personal album to say the least. One of the song titles is “To Thine Own Self Be True”, which I’ve recently tattooed on my wrist as a little reminder.
Any side projects still going besides Threat Signal?
Oh, I always have something going on! I formed a band called Vise Versa with members of Dagoba, and TANK. Our full length album is finished, and we’ve just filmed 2 music videos. It’s an independent and self funded project, so we’re hoping we’ll have some label interest eventually. I formed this band to show a different side of me. Vise Versa is more rock/industrial with all melodic singing. Brings me back to the 90s with a modern edge! I’m also singing with a metal band from Greece called SlaveATgoD. I mixed and sang vocals on their latest album The Skyline Fission. I will be heading to Greece in a few weeks to perform at their CD release show. Very stoked for that! Oh…. And I’m working on a little project with ex Megadeth drummer Nick Menza. I never slow down!!!
That rules! Very exciting on all fronts! What can fans expect from the next era of Threat Signal?
This album will take elements from all 3 previous albums and combine them with yet another side of TS. We are getting very experimental and progressive on this one, not holding anything back. Bringing back more keys, samples, acoustics, various instruments, and a few different tunings. Super heavy then melodic as fuck.
How does it feel to have kept your band alive through the obstacles you have faced and to still be making kick ass tunes?
There were several points during this crazy journey when I thought Threat Signal was over… But somehow we made it through. I can’t believe we are preparing to record our 4th record! It only seems like yesterday that we were just releasing our first! Its been a long hard road but I wouldn’t change a thing. I’ve lived and learned and it’s made myself, and the band what we are today. No regrets.
You are one of my favorite vocalists and frontmen out there. What is your pre show ritual to get pumped up and/or warmed up or relaxed enough to go out and face a hungry crowd?
Thanks! Much appreciated man. I love meeting people and hanging out, so you may catch me out in the crowd before a show chatting it up. But for the hour before stage time I get in my own headspace. I find a spot backstage away from people, do some vocal warm ups and stretch my muscles out. Then I’ll hang back with the guys, crush a drink or two then hit the stage! So nothing really out of the ordinary. I have kind of a spit personality tho… I’m pretty laid back and chill, but when I hit the stage, a whole different beast comes out of me. Just stepping on stage releases adrenalin and gets me amped to tear shit up.
What do you think is holding back metal lately from drawing as big audiences in the United States as it is in other markets?
Who knows… Could be lazy kids who’d rather watch youtube videos on the net than venture out to a show. Or it could be that people are getting stupider over time and listening to shittier music. Even within the metal genre there seems to be competition these days. Back in the 80’s and 90’s it seemed like bands were working together, helping each other out. Now it’s a battle of sub genres and bitterness when a band gets bigger than you, or doesn’t wear the same fuckin skinny jeans. It seems all outta wack to me. Just play some heavy fuckin tunes, rock the fuck out and have a good time! Get over yourselves.
What are some other band’s records you have been rocking lately?
Unfortunately I haven’t gotten the chance to rock many bands lately, other than what I’m writing myself or whatever band I’m producing/mixing… But when I do its usually Alice In Chains, Soilwork, Chimaira, Deftones, Devil Driver, LOG, A Perfect Circle, shit like that.
Live shot by Maclyn Bean Photography