Wraith – Interview –
Genre: Thrash, Speed Metal
Interview with: Jason Sultz
Hello and welcome to Acier Doux ! Question n°1, please do an introduction to Wraith Tell us about the whole band, what kind of release you have and did, your current goals…
Thanks for the questions! Wraith consists of Matt Sokol on vocals and rhythm guitar, Jason Schultz on lead guitar, Chris Petkus on bass guitar, and Mike Szymendera on drums. The band was formed in 2016 by Matt, with Mike joining for the recording of the self-titled album and Chris joining shortly thereafter. I (Jason) started recording and playing live as a session player with the band in 2018, and officially joined in 2020 before the writing of Undo the Chains. So far the band has put out 4 records: Wraith, Heed the Warning, Absolute Power, and Undo the Chains. We have also released several splits (Speed Armageddon, Faster Than the Devil) and an EP called Index Case.
We are currently focused on completing work on our next record, and playing new cities around the U.S. If opportunity allows, our long-term goal is to finally get overseas and bring the show to Europe and beyond!
Was it easy to sign with Redefining Darkness Records , tell us more about it?
We are all big fans of what Tom has done and currently is doing with Redefining Darkness, and it has been great to work with him. He is the real deal, a total pro, and has tons of experience playing in and working with/developing bands. The partnership through the releases of Absolute Power and Undo the Chains really served as a springboard for the band due in no small part to careful, thoughtful handling by all parties involved, and we couldn’t be more appreciative of the support and platform that he and label have given us.
How do you write music? Is there a special atmosphere needed? How long does it take to have a full Wraith song ready with all spikes out?
The songwriting process for Wraith typically starts when one of the four guys in the band brings in a riff or an idea, and we jam on it and talk through the structure of what we want to do with the song. Sometimes a song is mostly done when the writer brings it in, sometimes it’s just one or two riffs and we develop it together in the writing/jam room. All songs need to get everyone’s stamp of approval before we feel we can call it done, so once we have iterated on the idea and settled on a structure that we all like, we add in vocals, harmonies, and lead parts/solos. For Undo the Chains, and to a greater degree our upcoming record, we demoed the songs as they were written, so we were able to live with them and then make changes as needed. Time to completion varies, some songs take a day, and some can take months.
Tell us about your weekly practices! How many times a week do you rehearse, and in what kind of conditions does it occur?
We typically practice about once a week without fail. Sometimes we will do additional days if we are prepping for travel or runs of shows, etc. We always liken practice to hanging out, and usually we discuss songs we are working on, band business, shows, artwork and merch, setlists, etc. while joking around and having a few beers. We will usually start the practice by hanging out in Matt’s garage and then eventually get down to business and work on whatever it is we need to work on that week. It is always a great time, lots of jokes and lots of laughs.
I see you are playing with other bands. Is it the same kind of metal, or are there no links?
I play guitar in another band that I co-founded with my friend and co-lead guitarist Martin Bowman called Idol Throne. We play a mix of Bay Area-style Thrash and U.S. Power Metal, with some classic elements mixed in. The sound between the two bands is very different, but that’s a good thing for me because it helps keep the bands compartmentalized and separate, as I know which riffs are for Wraith and which riffs are for Idol Throne. I tend to have a lot of musical ideas, so it is good for me to be able to have multiple outlets to develop them. One cool thing is that since we all grew up in and around the Indiana/Chicagoland metal scene, both bands are comprised of longtime friends that go back decades, so we all hang out and go to each other’s shows etc.
Listening to your last album Undo the Chains , it’s obvious you were a lot into big Thrashing metal bands! So what motivated you to mix these old school metal influences in Wraith metal?
One of the best things about Wraith is that all four of the guys in the band are very different personalities, and with that we all have different musical tastes. We have common influences that we all share like Metallica, Motorhead, Slayer, Midnight, Danzig, Bad Religion, Misfits, etc. but we all come to the table with different sounds and ideas on how to expand the band’s vocabulary. For example, I am a huge bay area thrash guy in general, so my riffs and ideas will always take on a bit of that flavor. During writing for “Chains”, Matt wanted to do an icy, stompy black metal influenced track and thus “Time Wins” was born. Mike always has cool punk-rock/rock and roll influenced ideas and Chris will come out of left field with some real ripper riffs like “Gift of Death”. But with that said, we all come in and surprise each other from time to time with diverse ideas and styles, which always keeps things interesting. I think we are all cognizant of the Wraith sound that we have developed, but we are always thinking about how we can expand that sound and not rest on our laurels, and having four songwriters in the band really helps us in that regard.
Are you touring?
We aren’t currently on tour, but we were recently busy in August playing one-off shows in Cincinnati, Cleveland, Chicago, and Grand Rapids. We had a great year so far with a highlight being playing Hell’s Heroes in Houston last March to an insane crowd. We are aiming to close out the year with a bang with a small run of Midwestern U.S. dates supporting our friends in Exciter this October, followed by our seemingly yearly L.A. excursion in November supporting Vio-Lence, Warbringer, and Bonded by Blood. Hopefully 2024 will see us finally get out to the East coast and the South.
Which country / continent currently has the best metal scene in your opinion? What about the worst?
That’s a tricky one. It is always inspiring for us to see all the Wraith fans from around the world interact with us on social media. Through that it seems like metal in general is really flourishing all around the world. I personally would really love to experience the European metal scene firsthand, as we have lots of friends in bands who have made the journey overseas and played fests or toured, and they always speak very highly of the Euro scene in general. I have to say that the U.S. is currently on a massive upswing when it comes to producing great bands from all over, and it has been inspiring to see the support and scene building and rebuilding going on regionally.
Ok, Tell us about your future projects! And feel free to conclude this interview! Thanks for the answers!
As I mentioned earlier in this interview, we are taking a bit of a break over the next month to finish recording our new album. We are super proud of the songs, and I personally believe this record is the best thing we have yet done. 2024 will be a big year, and we are excited to get out on the road to new places, meet the fans, and play some metal for everyone! Please give us a follow and share on social media and check out our Bandcamp for new merch drops. Stay tuned, and thanks again for all the support!
Interviewer : Speedskullcrusher