by: Stephanie Stevens
I found this Illinois based band CODE NAME: PHOENIX as I was scrolling through Facebook and on Reverbnation, and I was immediately interested in getting to know these guys a little bit better. Not only was the music pretty appealing to me, but the name of the band and the songs they have released on their first EP were intriguing; I knew they had to have a back story to how and why they got together.
CODE NAME: PHOENIX mix the heaviness with melodic overtones in the band’s debut EP SEQUENCE 001: INITIATION, to enhance the stories, they want to get out to the people of the music world. The ease of the vocals, going from aggressive screams, to clean and melody driven sounds, really bring the songs to a new level. The guitar work of the tracks are always changing up from crisp and simple, to heavy and powerful. The rhythm section giving you the bounce to head bang, is definitely profound in the band’s music.
The guys are just getting their feet wet with this debut EP and the live show circuit, but I am sure you will be hearing more on them in the months to come. The band is bringing back the theatrics of a stage show, intertwined with that strong power of metal music. I had a chance to chat with the whole band about the story behind the band, the band members influences, and how they view the current Illinois scene
WHO IS IN THE BAND AND WHEN AND HOW DID YOU GUYS FORM?
KYREN: The band is comprised of five members which include myself, Kyren (Vocals), Syntax (Bass), Jinn (Lead/Rhythm Guitar), Sirus (Rhythm/Lead Guitar) and Binary (Drums).
SYNTAX: And the band itself is a product of science honestly. We are genetically modified humanoids from the year 2062. We were created to be the quintessential metal band, to overthrow the Pop music scene that still plagues and controls the music business.
JINN: We were actually locked in battle with the Pop scene, when they sent us back in time because they were threatened by us. *laughs*
KYREN: Which explains why we arrived in 2015. We basically had to start from the bottom to get back to where we are today.
YOUR STAGE NAMES, WHAT DO THEY MEAN, AND HOW DO THEY APPLY TO THE MUSIC AND BAND YOU CREATED?
SYNTAX: Our stages names were assigned to us during and after the experiments. They are more extensions of ourselves as individuals and our playing styles, than a direct tie in to the band. For me I am very analytical about my playing. I am very precise when it comes to my arrangements in our songs. Hence the name “Syntax.”
SIRUS: My name is derived from Sirius because I am the loudest or “brightest” out of everyone. I am always being told to turn down my amp when we play. So, mine is more directed towards my playing style.
JINN: Mine is based off of my influence on us as a band. I don’t want to say that I am the main song writer, but I feel like I have a lot of influence, when it comes to our writing, because I make sure that every song we put out is precise and showcases what we are as a band.
BINARY: After the experiments, I was basically half man and half mechanical. So, they gave me the name Binary, because I showcased the two systems working in sync with each other.
KYREN: My name apparently originated due to my eyes. During the experiments, the scientists said that when they looked into my eyes, all they saw was darkness. Kyren loosely means “dark.” So basically, they were frightened by that so to counter that they implanted iris modifiers into my eyes to give me some liveliness. So, with every objective that we do, my eyes change color to match the mission/album that we are putting out. Currently they are blue, so who knows what they will be during our next sequence. *laughs
WHO DID THE ARTWORK FOR THE EP?
KYREN: We actually are in conjunction with the company Heretic Concepts. They helped us with all of our logos, lyric videos, and as well as the EP artwork. We are actually prepping the scheme for our second EP as we speak.
WHAT DOES THE BAND NAME MEAN TO YOU GUYS?
SIRUS: Well the band name was basically assigned to our group, by the scientists that created us. Our group has always been called by that name. After all, the experiments, the scientists practically gave us a second chance within the music business, so in a way we were reborn like a Phoenix, from the flames and ashes. Which caused the name CODE NAME: PHOENIX. The name symbolizes our rebirth as individuals, as well as the rebirth of the metal music movement trying to make its way back on top of the business.
YOU RECORDED YOUR EP A WHILE BACK, BUT JUST RELEASED IT NOW. WHY SUCH THE LONG WAIT AND WAS ANYTHING REVAMPED BEFORE IT CAME OUT LAST MONTH?
KYREN: Well with the whole arriving in 2015 situation, we basically had to adjust ourselves to our new surroundings. We needed to establish our base of operations again, and regain the equipment that we lost. It was a life altering experience quite honestly.
JINN: And with that, we saw a chance to release the music we had in 2062 ,that much earlier in history because it technically hasn’t been released yet. So, we recorded them again, note for note and then released the album last month.
WHAT IS YOUR MAIN INFLUENCE WHEN YOU WRITE LYRICS, AND IS THE EP SEQUENCE 001: INITIATION YOU RELEASED, HAVE A STORY OR THEME LINKING ALL THE SONGS TOGETHER ?
KYREN: When it comes to lyrics I base them off my own ideologies and life experiences but I try my best to keep them vague, so that the listener can interpret the lyrics their own way. That way they can use them to their own advantage. Our two singles “ALWAYS DROWNING” and “I OVERCOME” are the two that tell a story more than the rest of the songs, because the story starts with dealing with depression, and all of the feelings and thoughts that come from it, and then it ends with overcoming those obstacles and progressing in life. The rest of the songs see themes that deal with rebirth (FROM ASH REBORN), the duality of man (MALEFIC URGE), human greed and power (CONSTRUCTING DISSOLUTION) and the journey and struggle in finding one’s self-individualism (PHANTOM PRISON). So, the rest of the songs are stories themselves. Although I have toyed with the idea of creating a concept/story based album for quite some time so it may see the light of day.
WHAT GOT YOU GUYS INTO PLAYING YOUR INSTRUMENTS, AND ALSO BEING A VOCALIST AND LYRICIST?
JINN: Well we were basically programmed to learn those instruments. We were all programmed with ever-evolving AI’s, so our influences are always being updated. But I remember Iron Maiden being one of the first bands being downloaded for me. So that’s where my playing stems from.
BINARY: For me Sevendust, Mudvayne and Slipknot, were the bands that were implanted for me. Mainly for the groove that they produced.
SIRUS: Soilwork was the band that was downloaded for me. Mainly for the song structures and how they wrote their guitar riffs. So that’s what I put the most emphasis on when I write our material.
SYNTAX: Primus was the band that was implanted for me. Their song structures, the left field-ness and just the way Les Claypool plays adds a whole different layer and complexity to our material which keeps people intrigued.
KYREN: For me there was a great selection of vocalists and lyricists that I found stored in my data banks. It consisted of the likes of Lamb of God, Kamelot, Soilwork, HIM, Slipknot, Cradle of Filth, and so many more, that helped influence my writing, screaming, and singing. How they performed their craft, their drive, what they wrote about are all factors that have helped influence me as a front man.
SINCE THIS EP WAS WRITTEN A WHILE BACK DO YOU GUYS HAVE NEW MUSIC THAT YOU ARE PLAYING AT SHOWS ALSO OR LOOKING INTO MAKING A NEW EP ANYTIME SOON?
BINARY: We are in the process of writing our second EP actually. And it is something very different musically from our first EP. So, it’s very exciting to see the next phase coming together so quickly.
SYNTAX: Agreed. Everything is coming together nicely. We have a lot of ideas that are showing our progress and growth as musicians. We are very proud of what we have so far and we can’t wait to release it next year.
HOW DO YOU FEEL YOU HAVE HELPED THE CHICAGO AND ILLINOIS MUSIC SCENE, AND HOW DO YOU FEEL THE SCENE IS IN ITS CURRENT STATE?
SIRUS: I feel that we have brought back a sense of theatrics back into the scene, actually the whole metal genre in general. It’s something that not a lot of bands want to invest in. And as musicians we don’t want to just play for a crowd, we want to entertain the crowd. Give them an experience and their money’s worth.
KYREN: We just love to push the envelope on what a metal band can do. But as far as the scene goes, it is alive and well and is continuously growing. There are many bands that are helping push it forward and are helping it grow. From the likes of Sky Machine, Tanzen, El Famous, A Silent Truth, Consume the Divide, and V is for Villains there is no shortage of music and talent coming out of Chicago and we are proud to be a part of scene and to call it home.
WHAT TOP 3 BANDS/MUSICIANS/ARTISTS DO YOU GUYS FEEL AS A BAND INFLUENCE YOUR MUSIC AND WHY?
KYREN: As a band, I say the three bands that influence our music the most are Lamb Of God, Soilwork especially the last couple of their albums, and Periphery. Mainly because we are a very groove oriented band, like Lamb of God. Soilwork is a heavy influence in my vocals as well as Sirus and Jinn’s song composition and playing. And then Periphery, because we love the tone that they play in, which is why we play in drop G sharp, and plus they are one of the frontrunners, when it comes to modern progressive metal music.
“I OVERCOME” IS A SONG I REALLY DUG WHEN I FIRST LISTENED TO YOU GUYS, HOW DID THAT SONG COME ABOUT AND WHAT MADE YOU WANT TO DO A LYRIC VIDEO FOR IT?
JINN: Well it came about like any song that we have created. It always starts with a simple riff that either Sirus or myself create. Once the song was completed there were so many hooks weaving throughout it, that it would’ve been stupid of us to not have it as a single.
SYNTAX: So, like any single nowadays, we thought a lyric video would be very beneficial to help showcase the song. Plus, it’s a cheaper alternative to filming a music video. This way people will be able to view and see the lyrics up front.
KYREN: Plus, there is a very strong message behind those lyrics. So basically, that song checked off on all of the criteria when it comes to a single.
ANOTHER TRACK THAT REALLY GOT ME, WAS THE LAST TRACK “MALEFIC URGE.” LOVE THE INTERTWINING OF MELODIC AND HEAVY WITHIN THAT TRACK. WHEN YOU GUYS WRITE DO YOU TEND TO WRITE HEAVIER AND THEN SOFTEN IT OR VICE VERSA?
JINN: Overall, we try to write music that we would enjoy ourselves. And being a metal band, everything will always be heavy to some extent. But melody has always been at the forefront amongst everything. Whether it’s through the instrumentation, or through the vocal melodies. But overall, we tend to write heavier and then get more melodic, when it comes to the choruses, which is standard for any song. But we always try to keep things changing and interesting, in each song, which is why “PHANTOM [PRISON]” is one of our heavier songs and then “ALWAYS [DROWNING]” is our most melodic. No two songs will ever be the same.
TO PEOPLE WHO HAVEN’T SEEN YOU PLAY LIVE HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE A LIVE SHOW?
SYNTAX: We are basically a painted up, mask wearing, metal freak show, that gets everyone up to the front of the stage. So be prepared to be wowed and intrigued.
WHERE CAN PEOPLE CHECK OUT WHEN YOU’RE PLAYING OR YOUR MUSIC?
KYREN: The best place would be our Facebook page, for updates and show news. But for all of our Twitter users, our shows will be posted there as well, because it’s linked up to our Facebook page. And our music is available on every major digital distributor: iTunes, Spotify, Amazon Music, Google Play, etc. We also have it available on CD at our live shows.
ANYTHING YOU WANT TO LET PEOPLE KNOW THAT YOU HAVEN’T LET THEM KNOW YET ABOUT YOUR BAND?
KYREN: Just to be on the lookout for more news and updates from us. We have a lot of things in store, and yes new music is on the horizon, and will be released sooner than expected.
Follow Code Name: Phoenix at all of their social media outlets: