THE ROAD TO ONWARD

Updated: 05/05/01

Onward is the true metal experience. Featuring the brilliant guitar work of virtuoso Toby Knapp, this is one band that truly strives to appeal to those into all kinds of metal. Vocalist Michael Grant was the last member to join Onward, and was in a South American band called Legend Maker when Knapp and the rest of the band discovered him. Century Media picked up on the project and now after a year, Onward's debut entitled Evermoving has been released at last! We recently spoke with Michael Grant about his involvement with Onward. Read onů

Highwire Daze: Introduce yourself, tell me what you do in the band, and tell me how long Onward has been together.

Michael Grant: My name is Michael Grant and I'm the singer for the band Onward. Onward has been officially together for a year now, however the other three guys have been working together as an instrumental team for a lot longer than that. I was brought into the project as a singer when they needed a vocalist. I recorded the album a year ago, and it's been great ever since.

HD: How did you initially hook up with Onward?

Michael: They were looking for a singer and they were sort of on a nationwide search. They had a contact at Sentinel Steel Records -- a guy named Denis Gulby - who sent them a tape of Legend Maker - a band I did for Sentinel Steel. They liked my voice right away and they got in touch with me and they said, "Would you like to do our album?" And I said "Send the music," so they sent the music and I fell in love with it instantly. I thought this is a band I would really like working with - so that's how it got started. They let me write the lyrics and I recorded the vocals here in Los Angeles. Then Onward was born.

HD: When you went about writing the lyrics, what inspired you? What were some of the things you liked to write about?

Michael: One of the themes on the album, and the reason why it's called Evermoving - I really love the theme of constant motion. The fact is you're always doing something - if you're always going on towards something - you'll never die. As long as things are moving, things are alive. And that's the way I think heavy metal should be and just the way life should be. Persistence, resilience, just never slowly, never stopping, always ever moving is just a theme I love. And that's a big thing that I touched on on the album.

HD: Had you ever heard Toby Knapp's guitar work prior to Onward?

Michael: No, I had not. I know a lot of guitarists have through the Shrapnel label, but I had never personally heard of him.

HD: What do you think sets Onward apart from other metal bands?

Michael: I think the fact that we're genuine in the traditional metal that we play. There's a lot of traditional 80's sounding metal bands out there that sort of copy, but they don't carry on a tradition. I think we're more carrying on a tradition of a certain sound of music instead of just copying a certain sound.

HD: You here from Los Angeles, right?

Michael: Yes. I was originally born and grew up in Connecticut but I've been in Los Angeles for about five years now.

HD: What do you think about the local Los Angeles music scene?

Michael: Well, compared to where I came from, it's awesome. All the shows that I go to are well attended, the people are into it. The metal atmosphere here is very healthy. If someone disagrees, they could go to another city in the United States and then they'll know just how good the metal scene is here in LA. Especially back east, it's dead. I really love the metal scene here.

HD: Where is the rest of the band from?

Michael: Right now, they are all in Billings, Montana. Toby is originally from Sheridan, Wyoming, but the other two guys are from Billings. They are all from Billings now and that is where they practice.

HD: Does it make it kind of a nightmare for practice with them out in Montana and you out here in Los Angeles?

Michael: Not really. They are very tight instrumentally. I keep my chops up by singing along with the tapes. And the good thing is that we all love the music and we're all so in tune with it, then when we get together, it's like we've been rehearsing all along. We've been very fortunate and lucky with that, and it hasn't been a problem with us, no.

HD: Have you played any of the Metal Festivals yet?

Michael: Yes. We played the San Bernardino November To Dismember Metalfest. We also did a gig up in Billings. We have one in Kalamazoo called the Classic Metalfest in June. And we'll be playing Ultrasound here in California in September. So we're gonna be quite busy.

HD: How did your show at the California Metalfest go and what were your overall impressions of it?

Michael: Our show went quite well. We had a little sound problem in the beginning because all the knobs are set to death metal bands, and we're more of a power metal band. But once the set got going, people stopped and checked us out. By the end of the set, we had a nice large crowd checking us out. The time slot was rough - we were at 2PM in the middle of the day. The Metalfest itself I thought was kind of a letdown, because a lot of bands cancelled including Venom and Nevermore. It was all over the place and kind of confusing - but I guess that's how it goes sometimes. We played the Necropolis Stage on Saturday.

HD: Describe a live Onward show to people who have not seen you yet.

Michael: A live Onward show is basically a true metal show. If you want that concert going experience where you want to see heavy metal in the flesh with fists in the air and the words of metal being chanted and the brotherhood of metal being felt throughout the crowd - that's what we want to do. We want to bring back the true metal experience where you just don't forget about it - you keep talking about it for days afterwards. We really want to entertain - we want to deliver the heavy metal back to the stage and really make it a great experience.

HD: Tell me about the band Legend Maker that you were in prior to Onward.

Michael: Legend Maker, I was basically I hired gun for. Sentinel Steel liked the music but they didn't like the singer. They didn't sing English and they wanted me to translate the lyrics into English and sing it with a real American style to have a more worldly appeal. But I really wasn't apart of the band - I just sang for them. They have sort of a European metal style, sort of like Helloween and Gamma Ray.

HD: Are they still around and are you still working with them?

Michael: I'm not working with them, but they are still around. They just have a local singer that they are working with. I'm not sure if Sentinel Steel will put out their next album.

HD: And now we will ask your opinion on the crucial Highwire Daze never ending debate. So who is better in your opinion? Britney Spears or Christina Aguilera?

Michael: I think Britney Spears because she is easier to make fun of. You could do funnier impressions of her I guess.

HD: If there was one thing you'd like someone to remember after hearing your music, what would it be?

Michael: Actually, to be honest with you, I hope after they get finished listening to the album, I hope they get the feeling of "That was a really good album and it has really catchy songs. I have to listen to it again." So they just go back to the beginning and listen to it again and again and again. I want to get that repetitive listening pattern sent into the public, because that is what will hopefully make us successful.

HD: So this album was recorded over a year ago?

Michael: It was finished a year ago, but it was sort of on hold due to legal reasons.

HD: You must have a lot of other material.

Michael: Yes, we have a second album already written. The only thing we need to do is go into the studio and record it. The name of that album will be Reawaken. It's just when Century Media wants us to go in and record it. We're going to promote and hopefully tour for Evermoving a little bit, but once we're finished with that, we'll go right back into the studio and crank out another album. So it won't be that long of a wait.

HD: Do you have any messages for people who might be interested in checking Onward out?

Michael: Yeah! Onward is a band for everybody. If you like metal, it's for you. It's catchy enough for the whole public and we really hope you give us a chance. Come check us out live. If you really want a dose of true metal and real metal back into your bloodstream, we'll give it to you. That's what we're here for.


ONWARD LINKS

THE OFFICIAL ONWARD HOME PAGe: All the news from Onward!
CENTURY MEDIA RECORDS: The record label for Onward!
THE HIGHWIRE DAZE HOME PAGE: Return to the Main Page!