Interview - Erika Swinnich of IGNITOR - Nov. 2005 - Chris Galea.


On paper, a band from Texas playing what’s best described as Classic Metal on its first European live venture and who isn’t even signed doesn’t so much as have the least hope of conquering Germany and beyond. But, as I was so rudely reminded, Metal is not something that follows any preconceived rules but is ultimately an art that provokes, that basically happens to push the right buttons within our innate urge for that cathartic experience.

Although the band is relatively new to the Metal world, Ignitor seem to be pushing all the right buttons and leaving a positive impression through their performances and their music. On the eve of their gig opening the 5th edition of the Keep It True Festival, in Germany, I met the band’s lead voice: Erika Swinnich, with the hope of uncovering Ignitor’s plans for world domination.

At the time of the interview Ignitor released an EP, “Take To The Sky”, just a few months earlier. I ask Erika if the general feedback to this debut release has fulfilled the band’s expectations.

Erika: It was more than what we were expecting. People were so excited about it and really embraced all the songs on the EP. We got an enormous reaction, a very positive reaction. Of course the strongest reaction came from Germany and Europe, and also from Brazil and Argentina who really enjoyed it very much. It was all very satisfying.

Chris: I understand you’ve also written a song purposely for tomorrow’s gig, right?

E.: (laughs) Well, not just for tomorrow! The song itself is called ‘Reinheitsgebot: Metal Is The Law’ and it’s for all the German fans because German fans have kept Metal pure throughout the years – it still lives very strongly in their hearts and it’s a lifestyle.

C.: In fact I think Germany is an ideal market for your style of music……

E.: I think so too and so we want to give some honour back to the people who have inspired us so much and that’s why we wrote ‘Reinheitsgebot…….’.

C.: Basically Ignitor is a modern band playing ‘old-school’ Metal, so what type of audiences do you have at your gigs, who are the fans that typically dig your music?

E.: We have fans from all walks of life, we have young people who we wouldn’t think would like it - people who listen to Black Metal and Nu-Metal – they see us as and they think it’s really exciting. And then we have people who are grandmothers and grandfathers………

C.: …….seriously?.....

E.: Yeah, I’m not kidding you….they bring their children and their families to the show and they remember what it was like when they were younger, going to concerts and being so happy when Judas Priest came to town. It’s amazing – it appeals to so many different people.

C.: I see you’re wearing a Darkthrone shirt as we speak……..do you listen to other styles of Metal besides Power / Classic Metal?

E.: Absolutely! I listen to a lot of different types of music. I grew up on Thrash and Speed Metal, you know, Metallica, Megadeth, and all the great Thrash bands.

Also I got into Death Metal after that, hugely into Cannibal Corpse and Séance and then on into Black Metal – you know, Dark Throne, Immortal, all the old-guard Black Metal bands - and Black Metal still has a very special place in my heart.

But what I do best is Power Metal and therefore I love that just as much as everything else.

C.: Until some time ago you were singing with Autumn Tears (a melancholy Atmospheric Gothic band) which was something completely different in style to Ignitor. How would you describe your experience with Autumn Tears and are you satisfied with what you accomplished with that band?

E.: Yes, I am very satisfied. Autumn Tears was 6 years of my life where I really learnt how to sing properly as in an opera-style, I learnt how to record, I learnt how to do harmonies and write nice vocal lines.

C.: In other words you matured as musician……

E.: Yeah, I matured a lot. But in the end it never was what I truly wanted to do. It was never me. It was never the fire roaring in my heart, that’s just what Ignitor is now.

"I’ve seen people follow bands of this genre and they never waver and they always stay true."
C.: Did you formally study voice or are you a self-taught singer?

E.: Well, primarily self-taught although a had a very very good teacher in high school who taught me many good skills but then I spent a lot of time just practicing and imitating other singers that I admire.

C.: In my opinion the style of music that Ignitor does was never as commercially successful in USA as, say, Death Metal or even Glam Rock, especially when compared to the success your style of music always had in Europe. Do you agree and why?

E.: I absolutely agree with you. I think that the United States likes something that’s very trendy and that they can grab onto. They like things that are flashy and that grab people’s attention and Death Metal got people’s attention very heavily back in the late 1980’s and Glam Rock really got a lot of people upset and so it was very popular. Now that Metal is a little more underground – at least Metal that I consider Metal, you know …..Power Metal……true Metal……Classic – it doesn’t get that much attention. People don’t really care as much and they’re more wanting to listen to Slipknot and Chimera and all those other bands……

C.: Not my cup of tea……

E.: Yeah, not mine either, but you know, whatever, if that’s what they like then that’s what they like.

C.: Earlier on you mentioned the (un)trendiness of certain types of Metal, well in my opinion one characteristic of Power / Classic Metal is that fans tend to be very faithful to their idols. Would you agree?

E.: Yeah, absolutely. I’ve seen people follow bands of this genre and they never waver and they always stay true. They never get rid of their jean-jackets with the patches all over them and their leather jackets are 20 years old and they’re not interested in moving away from that. And that is a wonderful thing.

C.: Let’s talk more about Ignitor….are you planning any full-length album?

E.: Yes. It’s (going to be) much more focused than the material that you would hear on “Take To The Sky”. The songs are more aggressive, they’re much heavier, more double-bass (drums), more aggressive guitars but still keeping true to the Power Metal ethic.

We’ve got a few more songs to finish writing and then we’ll have enough material to actually record and set down on a full-length.

C.: Are you negotiating any potential record-deal?

E.: I wish we were! Until now we’ve had absolutely no luck and we have tried very very hard. So I’m hoping that by coming over to Germany, people will see us, word will get out and our patience will be rewarded.

C.: One last question, Erika, how would you describe Ignitor’s music in just a phrase?

E.: The fire in your hearts exploding on stage!

And explode on stage they did! The day following the above interview, Ignitor had the unenviable task of opening the Keep It True festival. Gracing the stage with a holistic image, the band gave what could be described as a solid, exciting and ‘igniting’ performance.

Judging by the enthusiasm and the comments I later heard, it can safely be supposed that the 1000-something metal fans that witnessed their show would be ready to lend any record label their personal ball pen for the signing of a contract with Ignitor.

Chris Galea – luciferlament@yahoo.com

Official band-website: www.ignitor.org

Current line-up:
Erika Swinnich - lead vocals
Stuart ‘Batlord’ Lawrence - guitar
Beverly Barrington - guitars
Brendon - bass
Pat Doyle - drums

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