Interview with Jay Tarantino

NEW BAND, NEW ALBUM. GUITARS --JAY TARANTINO COMES INTO HIS OWN

Writer: Tiffini Taylor
Jay Tarantino is best known for his touring work with Angel Vivaldi, but many do not know exactly how talented this musician is. In 2017 he formed the band ETHERIUS, an instrumental heavy ensemble that will make everyone take notice. There is room for everybody in the music industry including great metal bands and beyond. Etherius is a band that consists of Jay Tarantino, drummer Zak Ali, bassist Chris Targia, and guitarists John Kiernan.  I got to speak with Jay Tarantino about the new band, new album, and everything else that is Jay Tarantino.
Tiffini: How was the band, Etherius, formed?
Jay Tarantino (JT): “Originally the music on the Thread Of Light EP, I was going to put out a solo album. I wasn’t going to do a band. In 2016 I started writing music. I was looking for a drummer and I went out to California in January of 2017.  I happened to bump into Zaki, our drummer. He and I are from the same area of New Jersey, so we came up with each other in the metal scene of New Jersey, We actually started talking about working on a project together. I told him “hey I have some songs here, I’ll send them to you and let me know what you think”, and he really liked them.  He started working on some ideas on his own with drums. He and I started working on the songs, jamming on the songs and pre-production on the songs, then Chris came into the band. Chris and I played in a band previously, so I’ve known him for like 8 or 9 years, this kind of music is really like his kind of style. He fit perfectly that’s when he came on board. John, our other guitarist, he came on just because I would see him around in shows and I saw him perform and I thought he was a great player and again we had talked about maybe doing something together so that was that”
Tiffini: Where did the name Etherius come from?
JT: “Originally we wanted to call the band, we went through hundreds of band names -we spent months on this, and originally we wanted to call the band Etheria and I can’t even remember where I got it from. I know it's like some kind of tv show in the Philipines or something. I thought it sounded cool and then I did some research and found out that there was actually a band already called Etheria and they’re signed to a label so we couldn’t really use that. Etherius, I think Chris our bass player just came up with it one night or he found it somewhere and we all thought it was a cool name so we kept it and found out that there was no band that had that name so we were like alright we are going to use that instead.”
Tiffini: Your band has been referred to as progressive or neo-classical, what would you consider yourselves?
JT: “I think we are a metal band. Those are all accurate descriptions, neo-classical, a little power metal, thrash, a little prog, its like I don’t think we go too far in any of those one directions. We kind of blend them all together and give a little hint of each style. But yeah those are all accurate. I mean I grew up on thrash metal so like that’s always going to be a part of the music, whatever project I’m involved in. Its always going to be some thrash element to it but yeah neoclassical, thrash, progressive it is all accurate it all describes the music perfectly.”
Tiffini: How old were you when you began playing guitar?
JT: “Let’s see I was 13. Like the end of ’97 when I started playing.”
Tiffini: What kind of guitar do you play?
JT: “I’m currently endorsed by Kiesal guitars, they use to be carbon, I’ve been playing those exclusively for the past couple of years.”
Tiffini: You have been playing in bands and a touring musician as far as playing with Angel Vivaldi, what is the difference that you‘ve noticed in the music industry being in both?
JT: “I would say it is a lot more competitive. Especially in this kind of genre of instrumental guitar, It’s not like pop music where there is a million, you know. Instrumental guitar is more of a niche. There is less of an audience so there is a lot of bands fighting for the same audience. Especially now because the music industry is changing so much and people are not making as much money and record sales are not what they use to be. Musicians are finding other creative ways to make money, there is definitely a lot more competition so the bands are kind of fighting for the same audience.”

Tiffini: With guitarists like John5 going out and doing John5 and the Creatures you have people out there bringing in the crowds that are good for music in general, especially for instrumental?
JT: “Just having toured with Angel Vivaldi, I’ve done 5 or 6 tours with him there is defiantly an audience for this kind of music, I mean we’ve played some big shows, there is an audience for it and they’re very dedicated.”
Tiffini: The album was released August 24th and it is titled ‘The Thread of Life”, what was the process like as far as studio time developing the album?
JT: “Well recording it was pretty easy.  All the work is in pre-production, like just figuring out the arrangements and rehearsing and making sure everybody knows their parts and just all the notes, making sure everything is written and then when it was time to record it is the matter of getting the best performances.  I wrote all the music for it because like I said I was originally going to do a solo album and so I had all the songs ready to go. We just spent a couple of months on pre-production just rehearsing everything and making sure all the arrangements were good. It’s defiantly paid off cause recording when it came time to do the actual recording, I mean we were quick with it. We did the drums in a day, guitars in a few days and bass in a couple of days. I think overall we spent a week, I mean commutatively maybe a week recording the entire thing.”
Tiffini: Do you have a favorite song on the album?
JT:Inevitable End is my favorite song.”
Tiffini: Is there a touring plan?
JT: “Not immediately. Right now we are just trying to build up a fan base. We are playing shows in the New York/New Jersey/Connecticut area throughout the Fall. I do want to tour with this band and right now it’s just about building up a fan base and making sure there is demand for us to tour.”
Tiffini: Does the band have a website?
JT: “We don’t have a website, we are working on that. Right now we just have Facebook and Instagram -so it is Facebook.com/Ethriusband and if you just type in Ethrerius band in the search bar it should be the first one that comes up. Then Instagram we are just @etheiriusband “
Tiffini: Who inspired you, as far as guitar playing, as far as music? Who are some of your inspirations and who inspires you today?
JT: “Definitely Randy Rhodes, that was when I heard the first 2 Ozzy records. I heard them right around the time I started playing guitar and it definitely blew me away. It inspired me to dig deeper into classical music and just to practice more. I started taking the instrument seriously. Metallica was always a huge influence, still is, maybe not in the music but just the impact they have had on metal breaking down so many barriers for different bands. Probably my biggest source of inspiration as far as musicians Josh Shaffer from Ithird, besides the fact that he is an amazing riff writer and writes great songs, great melodies. His story is inspiring because where he came from, he was homeless, didn’t have a home and lived in his car and started a band. He was living in his car, I mean 30 years of bad contracts, the changing of different trends. To me they are a band that should have been as big as Iron Maiden or Metallica, so somehow he kept it going. They’re still kicking ass, they may never get to that level but the fact they’ve been around for thirty years says a lot about his work ethic and his determination.”
Tiffini: What is like being in just an instrumental band and not having a vocalist?
JT: “For me, it is definitely more challenging because definitely trying to use the guitar or using keyboards or something to convey the same type of emotions that a vocalist can convey is probably the most challenging thing. We traditionally write songs, like verse, chorus, bridge with a structure to it like a chorus with a hook, trying to get the hook to sound, first of all, to make it catchy, second of all to evoke some kind of emotion in the listener. Doing that with just a guitar and not a voice is probably one of the more challenging like we try and do.”
Tiffini: Whenever you are playing live, how is that, obviously different, usually you have the vocalist doing the interaction with the crowd, but how is the interaction with the crowd different?
JT: “I’m like the resident frontman for the band so to speak, I’m the one that talks to the crowd and interacts with the crowd, cause I am kind of shy but when I’m on stage I’m actually like, talkative. I know how to engage the crowd. I think with us more performing, we don’t just stand there, we move around, headbang, get into the music and I think that energy kind of rubs off on the crowd too so they see us into it so they start to get into it.”
Tiffini: If there was one piece of advice you could give to an upcoming guitarist, upcoming musician, upcoming artist, what would that be?
JT: “For me, I know this is kind of cliché but stay true to yourself, don’t follow trends, don’t try to do something because you think it is popular because trends change day after day in the music business so what is popular today may not be popular tomorrow or next week. So you have to play the kind of music that you want to play and not what you think people want to hear.”
Tiffini:  Here is your opportunity to say anything, whether it is about music, the album, whatever you would like.
JT: “I hope everyone checks out the record and I think there is something for everyone. Whether you are a guitar player or you are not a musician, I think there is something, whether it is a riff or a melody, there is something for everyone to get into on this record.
Once I got everyone together I realized it should not be a solo album but be a band thing and it is working out.”

Etherius is a band that is full of passion and brings emotion through instruments. It is heavy, it is loud, it is all metal. Jay Tarantino is not only a talented guitarist and composer but has the knowledge and outlook in the music industry that most artist and bands need in this present time. The new album is titled Thread of Life, be sure to check it out.
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