Berkeley Colored Metal: An Interview With Apothesary

Apothesary in the middle of their set at 924 Gilman.

Forget the stereotypes, people.

Gone are the greasy, stand-offish metal band members, and in their places come the members of Apothesary, a three-piece metal band from the East Bay Area of California (Concord). Right off the bat, the three main members of the band, Jared Eandi,  Greg O’Neill, and Clayton Cagle, were very amiable and willing to let me in to their musical world.

The three boys and female temporary bassist (Stephanie Shideler) sat down with me just across from their venue for the night, 924 Gilman (which, evidently, is a cannery shop by day and a raging house of metal by night) in Berkeley, California. Just across from 924 Gilman and all of the sound that comes with it, the good-humored and rather insightful members and I conducted our interview.

After saying their salutations to my little grey tape recorder, the interview began.

Hailie (Interviewer): Please name yourselves off, guys.

Jared Eandi: I’m Jared, and I do vocals and play guitar sometimes.

Clayton Cagle: I’m Clayton… I play guitar and do vocals sometimes.

Greg O’Neill: Uhh… I’m Greg, and I play drums.

Hailie: Cool, that was going to be my next question, actually.

Clayton: If we had a bassist here, they would say their name and that they play bass.

Hailie: Alright, thanks for introducing yourselves… Now, for the obvious questions. How did you guys get started? Were you childhood friends, or…

Jared: High school.

Clayton: Believe it or not, he [Greg] and I are the only two members we originally started with…. It was originally a four-piece, with a fella named Josh and myself started the band,  in like 2009…early 2009. It just kind of evolved from there; it got more serious. Eventually, our original bassist left, and it ended up with us. Yeah, just… classic high school band story, right?

Greg: I was in middle school when it started.

Clayton: He was in middle school when it started… Yeah, he’s really young. We’re all pretty young.

Hailie: Oh, so you’re all in high school?

Greg: I’m a freshman.

Clayton: He [Jared] actually graduated today!

Hailie: Congratulations [Jared]!

Clayton: And I’m a junior… So, yes, we’re all pretty young.

Hailie: So, who or what, if any, are your main influences?

Greg: Black Dahlia Murder! Just saying…

Jared: Metallica!

Clayton: Metallica, Opeth, Lamb of God…top three, probably.

Greg: Megadeth.

Clayton: Megadeth.

Jared: No, not Megadeth.

Clayton: I like Megadeth.

Greg: I like Megadeth.

Clayton: We like Megadeth.

Greg: Yeah…

Clayton: Slayer!

Hailie: I thought Slayer was coming… I was hoping!

Clayton: Well, it’s really to that point where you really don’t have to say it… I mean, it’s Slayer. The heaviest band of all time.

Hailie: It’s the band of…

Clayton: Of ever. It’s just the band.

Hailie: It’s just… It’s just ‘the band’.

Clayton: But that name was already taken.

Hailie: Yeah… Bob Dylan and The Band.

Jared: Also, Spinal Tap.

Hailie: Oh really?

Greg: Yeah, really.

Jared: We’re still trying to get him [Greg] to turn into the green goblin…

Greg: Yeah…

Clayton: Our lyrics are a little bit more serious and we actually play real shows… And we don’t all play bass.

Jared: We could…well, I can

Clayton: And, unfortunately, we can’t turn it up to 11, because our knobs only go to 10…

Greg: My drum knob goes up to 11.

Hailie: Are you going to get a 10-inch model of Stonehenge?

Clayton: Absolutely…but, it was supposed to be bigger.

Hailie: Alright, what would you consider yourselves? I know metal subgenres are highly disputed over these days…

Greg: I knew this was going to happen!

Jared: Well, people have considered us a mix between thrash and death metal.

Clayton: I’d personally just call it ‘metal’. What is, you know, the dividing line? I mean, we have some really thrashy pieces and we  have a lot of different influences. We’re just a metal band.

Jared: We also have really heavy pieces. We try to stay away from subgenres as much as possible.

Greg: ‘Cause I don’t like them.

Clayton: And we don’t like him [Greg].

Hailie: Aww!

Clayton: It’s like a little brother thing…

Hailie: It’s always the drummer.

Greg: If we had a bass player, we’d be picking on him more.

Hailie: So, why ‘Apothesary’? Does it have any correlation to the distributor of medicines and drugs?

Jared: I’m out of this…

Clayton: Yeah, it was all me, man… It was all my fault. It was when I was in ninth grade, reading Romeo and Juliet; I’m a little illiterate when it comes to old-school English literature. So, the apothecary was the one who sold the poison to Romeo, and I thought it was said ‘apothesary’, with a soft c. So, I changed it. It’s a nice conversation piece.

Hailie: Well, it just became one! So,  I know some bands have some unorthodox ways of writing songs…is there any magic way you guys write, or does it just happen?

Clayton: I think about 97 percent of everything we play was written by me.

Hailie: Really?

Clayton: Pretty much… We’ve collaborated, definitely.

Greg: I wrote a song…

Clayton: Yeah, he wrote a whole song, and it’s actually a really good song; you probably wouldn’t be able to pick it out, because, you know, it sounds like us. It’s nice to have that added influence, because he listens to a lot of bands that we don’t listen to on a regular basis. He listens to a lot of obscure bands from like, Norway and stuff.

Hailie: Hipster metalhead?

Greg: Pretty much.

Clayton: He’s like an encyclopedia of bands… But yeah, as far as songwriting goes (getting back to the actual question), believe it or not, a lot of it comes to me in the shower. Maybe it’s the running water that puts a tempo in my head, and I’m like ‘oh, that sounds really cool!’ But, the hardest part is remembering it long enough to write it down after I get out of the shower, because I take  like half hour showers… I’ve got a lot of hair to wash, you know? So, I get out of the shower, and I have to figure out what was playing in my head.

Hailie: It’s better to take long showers… I know a lot of metal band members that don’t really… You know…

Jared: We’re usually one of the cleanest bands that we play with…

Greg: Yeah, we do smell good.

Clayton: Most of the time.

Hailie: So, not only do you sound good, but you smell nice, too?

Clayton: We like to hit all the senses.

Jared: That’s why I’m in the band; that’s why he [Clayton] looks like a girl…

Hailie: Aww!

Greg: We hate each other, we love each other.

Hailie: It’s a love/hate thing?

Jared: He [Clayton] tried to kill me a skateboard today!

Clayton: I did it on purpose.

Hailie: Well, now you know [Jared]… Yeah, so I know you guys have played a lot of venues… Would there be any one that you want to go back to? Like, out of all of the venues you’ve played…

Jared: The Dome.

Greg: The Dome was awesome!

Clayton: The Dome in Bakersfield…that is a sick venue. I wish we got to play the giant stage, because they have two rooms; one is for the national acts and the other is for the local bands.

Jared: It’s the crowing jewel of Bakersfield because Bakersfield kind of sucks.

Clayton: It’s hot, and there’s a lot of crime and murder, and it’s just terrible…but it has The Dome.

Hailie: And bugs.

Clayton: I’d personally go back to the Oakland Metro…the Oakland Metro Opera House. We played there last summer and it was just fantastic; you [Jared] weren’t in the band yet, but we used your amp.

Jared: Yeah, and you messed up my tone!

Clayton: I’m sorry…But yeah, Oakland Metro. That’s the one I’d go back to.

Hailie: How come?

Clayton: It’s a great sounding venue, great promoter, very large venue, great backstage, and it’s got that great underground, grungy feel…kind of like this place, but definitely not as much graffiti.

Greg: I’d still stay the Whiskey, though.

Jared: I’d still say the Whiskey, just for the back room.

Greg: I’d still say it just to say we played at the Whiskey.

Clayton: That’s a fun venue… Great sound there. Probably the best sounding venue we’ve ever played.

Hailie: So, if you could request any action or attitude of your crowd, what would it be?

Jared: Break their necks.

Hailie: Really? But then they would never be able to come back!

Jared: Break their necks headbanging.

Greg: But then they’d be dead…

Clayton: We wouldn’t have any fans left!

Jared: But that makes the reputation of being so heavy that it makes them break their necks.

Greg: Yeah… Red Rover Wall of Death.

Jared: Triangle of Doom, actually.

Clayton: That’s our crowning jewel, actually.

Jared: We have yet to see an actual triangle.

Greg: It’s a blob.

Clayton: Our fans seem to have failed geometry at some point in their lives because they’re really bad at finding out what a triangle is.

Hailie: They tried, though… It’s the thought that counts.

Clayton: Yeah… It ends up as a retarded oval, but it’s fine.

Hailie: So, I know some people are really particular about a brand of instruments…are you guys loyal to a certain brand?

Clayton: Absolutely, because I’m endorsed by Paul Reed Smith guitars. Best guitars I’ve ever played in my life, and I’m not just saying that, because they don’t pay me… so, I really have no reason to say that…but, they really are the best guitars. I’ve got Kahler bridges on all of my guitars, too.

Greg: And I’m endorsed by Soultone cymbals, which are really good… kind of expensive, but, still, really good.

Jared: I am, however, not endorsed, but Jackson is my favorite ever, forever. Great guitars in general.

Greg: Yeah, we talk a lot… sorry!

Hailie: No, this is actually better than if you didn’t!

Jared: Yeah, this is going pretty well, actually.

Clayton: Normally, we just look like dumb kids when we do an interview… Like, we had a dude that did an interview when we first got started, and, after the interview, he never talked to us again! He didn’t post the interview, either! But, looking back, it was totally our fault. He should have expected it, though; he [Greg] was 13 and I was 14…

Hailie: Have you ever played under a different name, or thought of a different name?

Jared: We have thought of one, kind of after Josh left…

Clayton: We contemplated it, but it never really got past its infant stages…

Greg: Wait, what?

Jared: It never ended up happening.

Greg: For the love of God, paraphrase this.

Clayton: For the most part, these guys don’t know anything at all, because I forget to tell them things! I’ll show up at shows and be like ‘hey guys, where are you?’!

Jared: That never happens…It happens at practices, though.

Hailie: Are practices usually strict?

Clayton: It depends…

Greg: Not at all!

Clayton: If we have a show coming up, it’s two times a week, at least; every other week, we try for two days a week, but we have to work around everyone’s schedule…

Hailie: Especially school?

Clayton: Yeah…

Hailie: So, do you like playing covers?

Clayton: Absolutely.

Jared: Actually, we’re doing a secret one tonight… “Ace of Spades” by Motörhead… And, hopefully, I can remember most of the words… I’m shooting for most.

Clayton: How about you shoot for all, because you’re the vocalist?

Jared: Give me more than a week to learn it!

Clayton: Yeah, we’ve played it like five times and we’re just gonna bust it out tonight, so it’s cool.

Hailie: It’ll be fine. I apologize for this question if it is still a touchy subject but where did Josh go? I mean, why did he leave?

Clayton: Um… The story definitely varies, depending on the person you talk to… It wasn’t necessarily cool after it happened; there was a lot of ominous tension. I’m cool with Josh now. I like him; he’s a good dude. He means well… It just kind of stopped working out. I don’t want to go into a lot of detail, but there were just tensions. I mean, tensions were mounting with the fact that our old bassist had already left.

Jared: Either way, I was gonna be in the band.

Hailie: Just to wind down, do you have a site or a profile or anything for fans to go to when you’re not on the road?

Clayton: Absolutely!

Jared:, MySpace (if anybody uses that old dinosaur)…

Clayton: There are good tunes on MySpace…we definitely have more songs on MySpace…Actually, all of the songs are on the website.

Jared: Actually, we are starting recording on our new album tomorrow!

Hailie: Oh really? That was going to be my next question, actually!

Clayton: It’s called A Harsh Reality… We’re shooting for 11 tracks, depending on how much money we have and how much time we have to record it, because we’re going on tour mid to late July from the 15th to the 24rth in a regional thing…

Greg: No Rest for the West!

Clayton: Yeah, 2011, bro! California and Nevada, respectively. It’s appropriately titled, because it is 10 days and nine shows…

Hailie: Alright, anything you’d like to add? Anyone you’d like to thank for all of the encouragement or support?

Clayton: We’ve got to thank the parents.

Greg: Happy birthday to my mom!

Clayton: Without the parents, we wouldn’t have anything; we wouldn’t have most of the things we have, or rides… We’ve got to thank Stephanie, for being our bassist for the time being. We’ve got to thank all of the companies that endorse us, like Paul Reed Smith, Kahler, Soultone, Monster Energy Drink, actually… Anyone who has ever helped us out ever… Fans, of course.

Hailie: Alright, well that wraps up the interview! Thanks very much!

Soon after the interview, Apothesary was up on the stage in 924 Gilman.

Overall, they brought some serious game… I was especially impressed due to the fact that they are just as consistent as when I last saw them in June of 2010, even with the loss of their original vocalist and bassist. Clayton Cagle set the audience alight with screaming solos and dark riffs played with professional excellence, while rather outspoken drummer Greg O’Neill set the beats; the pounding of his double-bass pumped its way around the room with ear-bursting might. To be honest, Greg did a smashing job at setting an intimidating benchmark for the drummers in bands who had yet to play. Jared Eandi led the group vocally that night, although Clayton also sang for certain songs; Jared did a fantastic job of Motorhead’s classic “Ace of Spades”, and maintained a very nice, powerful sound with that metal-esque grit through the entire set. Although temporary, bassist Stephanie Shideler seemed right at home next to the three guys, holding her own with great expertise during the thrashy bass lines and complicated tempos.

I would definitely make the effort to go see these guys. Their album, A Harsh Reality, officially began the recording process this last Sunday, June 5th, at noon.

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