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Allele: Interview with Wally Wood

You can just tell by the first listen, as I’m sure that’s all it took Corporate Punishment Records, to know that they had something big on their hands. With their recent debut release, ‘Point Of Origin’, the band Allele (pronounced uh-lee-il) are sure to be tearing up the airwaves throughout the country in no time with their hard edged, modern rock sound. A very strong debut by these newcomers, backed by a mix of some seasoned veterans, as well as some newer to the industry. Allele consists of Wally Wood – vocals, Kelly Hayes (Cold) – guitars, Lane Maverick (Otep) – guitars, Giancarlo Autenzio – drums and Tim Tobin – bass. Getting ready to head back out on the road in support of their recent release, vocalist Wally Wood was able to fill us in on what Allele is up to, and tell us what’s ahead.

JH: Well tell us a bit about Allele.

W: Well Lane Maverick and I , Lane had been out in California, we met back in Jacksonville in 2002. I was in a previous band. A mutual friend of ours, Maria had brought Lane because he was looking to hook up with a band out here, and she’d brought him to a show of the last band I was in and we started talking. I told him I wouldn’t leave the band, but he was more than welcome to join cause we needed a second guitar player. So he came in a started jamming and I really liked the way he played guitar and he and I were nowhere near the direction of the band we were in at the time. We just wanted to go in a completely different direction. So we did. We started jamming with a couple of guys, we wrote songs and started playing shows. Went thru a few band members, you know how that goes. March of 2004, Kelly came into the band. Then we changed our drummer and bass player at the beginning of this year. That became the finial line-up as of now.

JH: Where did you come up with the name and what is it’s meaning?

W: My wife is a biology teacher, and we were looking thru books for like two or three days trying to find a name, and she had stumbled across Allele and we jotted it down. So we were looking at a few names and their meanings and decided on Allele, just because of what allele’s are. And you can use that metaphor in life. Basically being in your genes, in layman’s terms, defining the physical characteristics, you know you have different alleles for different eye colors, different skin colors. Things like that. It was just a great name for us because we can relay that in a social manner. A name just meant unity. That could literally relate to everyone. Plus no one has it.

JH: So how did you come by getting into the music business?

W: Well my mom is one of the most amazing singers I’ve ever heard in my life. She used to DJ and sing and that whole thing. I was into music from her right off the bat. I used to play drums. That was my first thing. You know, and eventually my little sister and brother were the only people I would sing in front of, because I’m just real shy by nature. Then I met my wife, who then was my fiancée, and she knew I always wanted to be in a band, to do something in a band. She pushed me into singing and actually got me into my first band. It just went from there. Once I was in it, I was in it. I’m really lazy, but when it comes to being in a band, I’m like gung-ho.

JH: You can be lazy to a point, have it a job and still have fun.

W: Yea, but having a job and doing that, plus the finance stuff, the booking stuff, the managerial stuff, everything. It is so not like me cause I’m very lazy in nature.

JH: So you’re the one handling all the bands affairs?

W: Now yes to a point. I mean , everyone in the band handles a lot of work. You know the label and stuff. Kelly and I handle all of the business stuff. We’re still in the process of trying to pick the right manager.

JH: So now today is the big day? The official release date for ’Point Of Origin’?

W: Yes it is.

JH: Are you excited or what.

W: Yes. We were so excited, we’ve drove to every single record store in town. Since we’re here in Jacksonville.

JH: So it better be in all of them. Is it?

W: Yes. It’s all there. They even have a display facing the door, and I was like, “ahhh, sweet”. so I went in and bought a couple. It’s a return investment man.

JH: Give us, in your words, the description of ’Point Of Origin’.

W: Well first off, I want to reach out and make perfectly clear, is we do not copy Cold. We do not copy Otep. You know people are going to compare us and say, “ you sound just like Cold”. You know, I think it’s because people are still upset that Kelly left Cold. You’re going to hear it. Kelly was one of the defining factors of the sound of Cold. So naturally, you’re going to hear guitar sounds that are similar to Cold, but they’re not even. They’re toned down a lot. So you can’t say that we sound like Cold just because one of the two guitar players, you know has a certain sound. So as far as the album, I would describe it as a true, flat out, modern rock album. No tricks, no anything. Everything is honest on the album. Everything’s true. No self-indulged hate-horror stories on the album. There’s not really even a song on the album written about me on the album. Maybe only one and a half. The songs are not negative. Some of them may seem that way, but they’re not. There’s a turn around, a twist to every song.

JH: Well you’re lucky with me. I thought it was really fresh sounding. The couple times that I’ve listened to it so far.

W: Well thank you.

JH: And don’t tell Kelly, but I was not ever into Cold.

W: You know he hears that more than you can possibly imagine. It doesn’t bother him at all.

JH: Not for any negative reason. I think I saw one of their videos on the web a couple years ago and heard a song on the radio here or there and thought, eh, that’s cool. And that’s as far as that went. I tend to focus on more heavier stuff when it comes to what I would buy at a record shop. Obscure underground shit. Although I am totally into all aspects of rock and other genres, it’s real tough these days because so many bands that are popular sound so much alike. And you guys to me don’t.

W: Thanks so much man, that really means a lot.

JH: So now this is your first national recording debut?

W: Well, everyone in the band except for Kelly.

JH: What was it like for you recording this album?

W: It was so awesome. Granted, we got this record done in I believe world record time. We recorded it faster than anyone should ever have to. But at the same time, I’m a firm believer that everything happens for a reason. I think that we could have really tripped on ourselves. Like over producing it. Anyone can, it’s natural. I think that for me recording it, it was amazing. It was exciting, it was everything that I ever imagined. And would want out of it. Anyone that’s like, I want to be in a band. I want to record a demo. I want an album. But to sit here with a marketing report and have your stuff from here to Canada, it’s just like wow. And to see it on Amazon.com one day out sell Taproot , you’re just like , oh my god. That’s just awesome.

JH: I’ve got the track ,”Misunderstood” running in rotation on Metal Warrants Radio. www.live365.com/stations/haazzy And with listeners in over 30 different countries, maybe that will help get the word out.

W: Man, that’s awesome. You know , I love that song. That is such an old song. We were like, there is no way we’re going to record an album and not put that song on. It isn’t no big deal as a song, it’s just something fun that our friends and family love to hear. Plus they would have shot us if we didn’t put it on there.

JH: Is it to early yet to ask how the label Corporate Punishment is treating you guys?

W: No man, they’re , would say they are technically speaking an indie label. But our marketing, we get more marketing than most bands do on a major label. Like we have the greatest distribution deal you could just…..how much more can you ask for? The distribution, the way that we’re treated, they’re getting ready to service us to active and modern rock. Man, they’re treating us like family. Cause that’s how we are as a band. We don’t use the word fans. We hate that word. We’re just very friendly, family orientated. Calm. And Eric and everyone over at Corporate Punishment are like family. It’s awesome.

JH: So they give you a lot of working freedom?

W: Tons of it. We compromise. There’s an equal, 50/50 compromising split, between the band and the label.

JH: That could turn into quite a long relationship.

W: Yes.

JH: So how many other bands were you in before Allele?

W: I was only in one other band before. Officially. I was in little things, but never a band. Everyone else is my band has been in like 50 other bands. I’m the most ,…newest….

JH: You a bit green? You’re the rookie.

W: Yes. I’m the rookie.

JH: Who are some of your major influences?

W: Man, Finger Eleven. Early Sevendust. Nirvana. STP, Pearl Jam, Soundgarden. Those are my hard cores.

JH: I understand that you’re into the classical music as well?

W: I love Vivaldi’s Four Seasons. My absolute favorite. Other than rock music to listen to.

JH: Have you heard Uli Jon Roth’s version of Vivaldi’s Four Seasons?

W: Uh,….

JH: You do know who he is?

W: Yes, but I’ve never heard it.

JH: It came out like late 2003 or early 2004. I think it’s called “Seasons”. (After the interview I thought about what I called the release. So upon looking up on the shelf I remembered it is titled “Metamorphosis”.

W: Really, I’ll have to check that one out.

JH: He does all four seasons on one half of the cd and the other half are compositions he wrote. It really sounds amazing. It’s backed by his Sky Orchestra.

W: That sounds cool. Thanks for the tip. I’ll have to check that out.

JH: How did you guys decide on Allele’s sound?

W: The things that I really love about the sound, is that we did not try to sound like, and you hear bands say that all the time and it’s not true. You know I’ll see bands at practice sitting around saying we need to sound like this, or we need to sound like that. I can honestly say, and go to my grave saying we never said that. It will go from Lane having a riff in his head to, just practicing. Kelly will just warm up. Just play things and I’ll point them out. I’ll have a dream in the middle of the night of an entire song and I’ll just wake up. Everything comes absolutely natural. What’s weird, is before Kelly, it was the same way with Lane and I. That’s how we would write songs. We’d be in the band room ,warming up and they would just come out like that.

JH: I’ve seen here and there, looking up some info about you guys, that Allele is being called. The new band of featuring Cold guitarist Kelly Hayes. Now from your standpoint, is this a welcomed form of advertisement? Or does it in a little way bother you?

W: For me yes, it is a welcomed form of advertisement. To me it’s like, I don’t care. What ever people need to hear to give the band a chance. Once you hear it, you forget it. And it doesn’t bother any of us in the band. Or it nothing that will shadow the band cause there are five members in this band who are all equally as strong. Lane, my bass player and drummer are amazing. They’re all just as strong of musician as Kelly is. And I think you can hear that when you listen to the album. I mean, Kelly and Lane play very well with each other. It’s hard with two guitar players, to find two that really fit. There is no “lead guitar” player in this band. You probably won’t even be able to tell, but there are songs on the cd where Kelly will be playing the lead, and by the end of the song Lane will be playing the lead. I love that when we are writing a song. One will naturally go to the rhythm and one will naturally go to the lead. And vice-versa. They never step on each others toes. It’s perfect. Another great thing is that , even though Lane, Kelly and I write most of the ideas of the songs. But it’s not a finished song until Tim and Gian really put what they want to put to it. When we write a song, it is a completion process with everyone in the band. It may start with just one member, but it will always finish with all five.

JH: So you’re currently on the road?

W: Yes. We’re in town right now because we have a release show in Jacksonville on Friday. It’s the worlds largest cocktail party. A Florida, Georgia weekend.

JH: I missed you out here in the beginning of September.

W: That’s okay, we’ll be back through there.

JH: What can someone expect from a live show?

W: A live show? Oh it’s over. Once you come to a show and see the band live, that is absolutely the strongest part of the band. If not vein, no one in this bands a rock star, but we do not suck live. If you like watching Slipknot or Mudvayne live? You really like watching us live. There’s so much power live. Between me and Lane and Kelly just going off, if the stage doesn’t break, we’re having just the greatest time. People can expect a band that is incredibly intense and honest on stage. I’m all into it. I dig just reaching out and just ripping someone’s shirt , or just screaming and singing with somebody. Maybe we get a little over zealous, I don’t know.

JH: It’ll keep people coming out to the shows.

W: Well I can’t stand watching a band where the singer just stands off to the side. You know, what’s over there? Or the guys that will pick a center point and just stair at an invisible dot all night. You’ve got to be into the people that come to the shows. You know we’re grateful. Grateful that give a crap enough to come in and pay, face us and actually raise a hand to us when we’re playing.

JH: To date, what is your most memorable moment or show while in Allele?

W: I would probably say , Huntsville, Alabama with Saliva.

JH: Have not caught them live yet.

W: Man, whether you like them or not, live? Man, great band.

JH: What are some of your long term goals for the band

W: To stay on the road, meet as many people as we can. Do as many tours as we can. And to have as many people in our family as we can. To stick around.

JH: What’s next?

W: Touring, touring. And then more touring.

JH: Touring is good.

W: Yes, and then we might do a little more touring after that.

JH: Well I’ve had about enough of this, and have nothing else to ask you now.

W: Hey, thank you so much for this man, I really appreciate it.

JH: Not A problem at all. I’m glad I got a chance to interview you early enough before you become huge.

W: Thanks man.