Interview with Category VI
The interview is answered by Geoff Waye (guitarist) of CATEGORY VI.
What got you into music, and if you had not gotten into music what would you be doing today?
I got into music mainly because it was played a lot in my house as a kid. Basically, before I could speak I was rocking out to Ian Gillan on the Jesus Christ Superstar LPs. My parents played a lot of classical music and classic rock. What got me into music in a more serious way was Judas Priest “Screaming for Vengeance” and Motley Crue's “Shout at the Devil”. Those were the first two albums that really set me on the metal path – and I love those 2 albums still to this day. Had I not gotten into music? I can't imagine. Maybe being even more of a sci-fi nerd than I already am? lol
What do you like to do when you are not playing music and how does that influence your creativity?
Wandering the woods or wandering near a river, pond, or ocean. That's my fav non-musical thing to do. It clears the mind, relieves stress, and is inspirational. Other than that, some TV – mostly sci-fi and fantasy stuff is what I get most excited about. Those kinds of things have inspired my lyrics as has Newfoundland history for some of the Category VI stuff from previous albums.
How long has your band been around?
It all began sometime in 2009 with me and another guitarist. At that time I hadn't done anything band-wise in maybe 1-2 years and it was really bumming me out. The key ingredient was of course finding Amanda, the vocalist. Things really got rolling then and here we are here promoting our third album out March 2023.
Where are you based and how did that influence your music?
We are all based out of the St. John's / Mount Pearl area of Newfoundland Canada. Nothing about the local music scene inspired us, well not me anyway. That's not to say there are not some cool bands from here, it's just that none are influences. The geographical isolation of living on an island that isn't on the tour path of any bands is likely a factor that influences us all here in some ways. My main influences are the bands I listen to too and more so ones that I grew up listening to, which are all international bands.
How did you come up with the name of your band and what does it mean to you?
The band name explained.... The Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale is a 1 to 5 rating based on a hurricane's sustained wind speed. There is (currently) no 6 in the scale, so we named it “Category VI” and envisioned that next level would be a huge firecane destroying everything in its path.
Tell me about your most memorable shows.
They are all a blur lol. But I have fond memories of the time we opened for Canadian metal legends Anvil. We got to hang out with them before they played and talk about music etc and they were all very nice and welcoming to us which was amazing. Overall tho, playing live here in St. John's is a hit or miss for me because access to where 99.9% of the shows are, is total effn nightmare! You can't park anywhere near the venue and you have to lug gear way too far. If we were big enough to have roadies that wouldn't matter hahah! Hopefully, we will get to play at a venue with a parking lot someday lol.
What is your favorite venue to play at, and do you have any places you want to play that you have not already?
The coolest local venue is The Rock House (despite it's location with no parking and nightmare load in/out). The stage is decently sized, the lights are decent and the sound there is most always great. As for where I'd WANT to play – as mentioned, my “huge” rock n' roll dream would be to play a show at a venue that has a parking lot. I don't have any bigger hope than that lol. It would be cool to play outside of our local area sometime, but back to the geographical isolation, it's not as easy as hopping in a vehicle to drive to a gig in a different town. A 13 hr drive to cross the island then an overnight ferry to Nova Scotia is not an overly sensible prospect. Flying would be the better option, but it would likely have to be more of a vacation as playing a few small gigs wouldn't cover airfares and hotels these days.
If you could play any show with any lineup, who would be on the ticket?
Any of the bands I look up to and have been influenced by. So let's aim big and I'll say Judas Priest. Not that they take underground bands on the road with them at all, but hey, that would be the dream.
What is some advice that you would give to someone who is just getting into playing in a band and some advice that you would give to your younger self?
Don't get into playing in a band expecting to be a “rock star”. You will likely be sorely disappointed if you only are doing it for non-existent fame. Do it because you LOVE music, love the creative process of making what TO YOU is killer music. Anything else that happens is just extra and not the reason to create.
Words of advice to my younger self - record and write more music, don't waste time waiting around, just give 'er all the time and create create create.
If you could go back in time and give yourselves advice, what would it be?
I dunnno? Write and record more songs? lol. It's not easy to give advice for the full band as I can only think what I myself would like to have done more of and sooner...and that is primarily write and record more music.
Of your songs which one means the most to you and why?
I will always hold a special place for the song “Vinland” because it was the first one that came together and has a lot of things I like about it from the riffs, the solo, and the lyrics about Vinland (Newfoundland) . It might not be my fav song of ours overall as the ones on the newest album FIRECRY are better, but it is perhaps the one that I feel has a special place in the band's history.
Which songs are your favorite to play and which get requested the most?
“Vinland” of course. Also, I'd add “Strike of the Axe” and “Full Metal Jacket” as I love those riffs. I'm sure I'll add some newer from the FIRECRY album soon. Most likely the title track and “Valkyrie” as they are my current favs from the album.
What is the creative process for the band, and what inspires you to write your music?
The writing process for this album was kind of chaotic. A lot was put together in a jam/band situation with our previous drummer. Some were written by me, some with Keith and me figuring it out before jamming it, and some of the songs Keith wrote. Some songs were written after the last album back in 2018-19, and the last of them were finished off in early 2020 before the pandemic knocked the music world on its ass. Amanda usually writes the lyrics first before the melodies, then derives the vocal melodies after hearing the songs / guitars....then the song really takes and comes together.
As for what inspires me to write music – well I can't separate that from just playing guitar in general. I am always writing riffs and pieces of songs. The inspiration / obsession to do that comes from my love of metal and hearing a new riff idea realized. I love it.
What kinds of messages do you like to get across in your music?
When I write lyrics for Category VI I usually write something based on history of Newfoundland. Or maybe something fantastical. For the new album Amanda wrote almost all the lyrics. I'll get her answer on this since the lyrics from FIRECRY are very personal and important and I don't want to put words into her mouth for what the messages are:
“Amanda: My life, my experiences and what I see around me are the primary pillars for my writing style. For this album, I truly challenged myself to write things I have never done before. I am a survivor of child abuse, and have had many brushes with extraordinary circumstances throughout my life, I could probably write 20 albums on my life alone. This album is unabashedly raw. It is angry because I am angry at how I was treated, and how women and marginalized people are still treated in our society. I speak on these themes in previous albums, but on this one, I hold those responsible for the pain I have experienced accountable. This album is my swan song, and I am super proud of it.”
Do you ever have disagreements in your band, and how do you get past them?
Of course, all bands disagree but for the most part myself, Amanda, and Keith are always on the same page with things. How you get past a disagreement is through compromise and acceptance that you can't always have things exactly your own way. We all want the same thing generally and that is to create quality heavy metal.
What are your plans for the future, and do you have anything that you want to spotlight that is coming up?
The near future plans are to see the album come out March 24th 2023 on Moribund Records and to promote it as best we can (Order it here: http://www.moribundcult.com/product/DEAD304.html – if you stream it and like it, order it on CD because no smaller bands make a cent from streaming sites anyway haha). We have some music videos, lyric videos, and song descriptor videos released on their YouTube channel in the coming days/weeks: https://www.youtube.com/user/MoribundOfficial. Our first single for the song “Firecry” is out now and has been getting some cool feedback so far:
As well, my solo project Triskelyon had its debut release in October 2022 and it features a bunch of people including my buds from Category VI as well. So if you like Category VI, then you might also like that ;) https://www.moribundcult.com/product/DEAD297.html
Thanks for your time and for having us!
Follow Category VI online here: https://www.facebook.com/CategoryVI