What got you into music, and if you had not gotten into music what would you be doing today?
I've always been into music in some way. But really, my guitar teacher when I was about 10 years old, Mike VanCott, he's the one that pushed me to be a musician. A good teacher can make such a difference. I'm not just a musician, I am also a jewelry and fashion designer and own JPHii DESIGN. So if I wasn't doing music, I would probably still be doing that.
What do you like to do when you're not playing music and how does that influence your creativity?
Fashion design is really my thing. I love creating looks and characters. It shows up in our music, too. In Foreplay I reference "Devore black velvet lingerie." So it's a big part of my life. But I'm also a professional paranormal anthropologist, so I go on a lot of investigations all over the place.
How long has your band been around?
We've been playing together going on four years now. We started as "John Harris and the Otherworldly Entities," but changed that after a bit.
Where are you based out of and how did that influence your music?
We're based out of Syracuse, NY. But we're very active in Buffalo and Rochester as well. We have an amazing metal scene in this area. It's a great community, and very supportive. Bands like A Greater Danger, Fight From Within, Junexa, they've been so welcoming to us. I'm pretty sure this is why we've been getting significantly heavier.
How did you come up with the name of your band and what does it mean to you?
We started as John Harris and the Otherworldly Entities, but changed it later on. Zlatko and I came up with the Otherworldly Entities part while on a road trip out to New Hampshire to hang out with our friends in Enter the Haggis. It was a reference to my experience as a paranormal investigator. We changed it to Otherworldly Entity because we, as a band, are one entity. We work together as one.
Tell me about the best and worst shows you have played.
We've been lucky enough to play some amazing shows. Really, I wouldn't say we've had a bad one. I think playing with Cold at The Rapids Theater in Niagara Falls, NY was a huge moment for me. I had been to that theater so many times when I lived out there, and it was a dream to play there. To do that with one of my all-time favorite bands, that was just surreal. As far as bad shows go, I think Metalfest 2021 would be it. It was a great show with a lot of amazing bands on the lineup, but a couple of hours before the set, it was raining and I slipped and fell off the stage. I fell six feet on to pavement, and ended up fracturing my skull, breaking some other bones, and had a massive seizure. I still managed to play our set before going to the emergency room, but our in-ears weren't working so we really had to raw-dog the entire set with a concussion and seizure. We nailed the set, though. So I don't think I would call it a "bad show." It was just in need of some improvement.
Tell me about your favorite venue to play at, and do you have any places you want to play that you haven't already?
My favorite venue that we've ever played is hands-down the Rapids Theater in Niagara Falls. That place is gorgeous, historical, and haunted as hell. I also love to play The Montage in Rochester, NY. It feels like home to me. We also had a blast playing at Metal in the Mountains in Pipestem, WV. That whole area was beautiful, and I enjoyed the hiking around there. I'm always happy to be playing, really. But I would love to play big festival grounds like Blue Ridge, and I've always wanted to play Red Rocks.
If you could play any show with any lineup who would be on the ticket?
Ra, Cold, Ice Nine Kills, Korn. I think that would be my dream show.
What is some advice that you would give to someone who is just getting into playing in a band?
Put the work in. It's not easy. But the biggest thing is to have fun with it. It isn't worth doing if it isn't fun.
If you could go back in time and give yourselves advice, what would it be?
Stick with it. I took breaks from music a lot in my 20s, and I wish that I hadn't.
Of your songs which one means the most to you and why?
Right now, it's our newest song Monster Inside You. The song is about being the bigger man, not letting anger take over. Not letting others beat you down. This is just very applicable to my life right now. There are a lot of fake people, fake friends out there that just want to use you and bring you down. But you've got to be better than that.
Which songs are your favorite to play and which get requested the most?
Sunset is one of my favorites live, and we get a lot of requests for it. But Foreplay is another one that just gets the crowd going.
What is the creative process for the band, and what inspires you to write your music?
Our creative process is kind of all over the place, and we like it that way. We just bring ideas to each other and jam it out most of the time. We bring riffs, lyrics, beats, and we just go at it together. For me, what inspires me is when things are going on in my life. My day-to-day life is pure and utter chaos, so there is always a lot to write about.
What kinds of messages do you like to get across in your music?
I like to put a positive spin on things, like in Monster Inside You and You're Not Alone. We want to remind people that there's hope. Sometimes, our music is just about telling a story, like Closure or Sunset, but generally, we want to be positive. Even though Monster Inside You is pretty angry, it's still a positive message. I'll never be what you want me to be, I'll never be the monster inside you."
Do you ever have disagreements in your band, and how do you get past them?
I think anytime you put people in a room together, there will be disagreements. We're pretty open communicators. We talk, we discuss, we yell if we have to. But we're all in this together, so it's never a huge issue.
What are your plans for the future, and do you have anything that you want to spotlight that's coming up?
We are going to be releasing a new EP this year, and we're going to be playing live as much as possible. We are playing with Cold in Rochester on May 14, which we're very excited for.