Red Snow on the rise

Red Snow has fought their way through the California music scene to rise up to become one of the most unique and talented up-and-coming heavy metal bands on the scene today. Nominated for best rock album at The Armenian Music Awards in 2004, 2005, and 2006 Red Snow was awarded USA4real Radio’s “Best Live Performance” of 2007. I had the opportunity to speak with founder/lead guitarist Vahe “V” Marzbetuny about their first full length release “The Fifth”.

First of all, I want to congratulate you on the release of “The Fifth”. It's a great album and the reviews it's getting are excellent. Red Snow emerged as one the first Armenian/American heavy metal bands in the Los Angeles area. How did you all meet and form the band? How long have you been together?
We started RS back in 86 as a group of friends who ditched school to meet up and "Jam". We were kids , and huge fans of Metal. growing up in Hollywood CA, we were fortunate enough to be able to go to the sunset strip on weekends to check out bands like, Motley Crue, Quiet Riot, and Ratt to name just a few, and were heavily influenced by their presence and music. So eventually when we got better at our instruments we said lets get serious and start playing out. and we did. fast forward 2010 we are still a bunch a kids at heart doing what we love to do. Kinda scary! LOL!

I'd like to talk for a moment about how you got started in music. Was there a particular defining moment when you said to yourself, "That's what I want to do… I want to be in a rock band"?
Yes! I clearly remember that moment! I was partying with friends at our fave party spot which we dubbed "Van Halen View" cause we believed our hero, Eddie Van Halen’s house was in sight from there. We all knew to meet there every night and blast music and drink and shoot the shit. This one night, I was listening to The Scorpions, “Animal Magnetism" album, to be exact, and I remember the music overtook me. I had a moment with God and was told this is your calling. You can do it and from that moment on, I’ve been playing guitar. That same week, I went to the Whisky with a close friend to check out a band called DuBrow , who eventually became Quiet Riot. I was blown away by their guitarist Carlos Cavazo. I approached him as a 16 year old kid, and asked him if he was willing to give me guitar lessons. He agreed and taught me everything I know. More importantly we became best friends and still are today! He supports Red Snow, and has appeared on stage with us a few times as well. I took that as a sign, and haven’t looked back yet. He used my Fender strat on the clean part/verses of "Metal Health" the song . I was with him driving in my car when they played it on the radio for the first time, we went crazy!! That was another sign to me. The album hit #1 on billboard in 1982, The first Heavy Metal album to go that! I still get goose bumps.

Everyone in the band is talented rock artists. Has anyone had any special musical training or lessons?
As mentioned, I was taught by the great Carlos Cavazo (Quiet Riot, Ratt). I also went to GIT in Hollywood for about a year. My brother Z, was taught Flamenco guitar at a young age, was excellent with his finger picking technique, so when i need a Bass player he stepped up and i the monster that he is today i believe due to that. Chris Daniel has been playin the drums since he was born. He is only 20 years old and already a monster behind the kit. He & I wrote the music for "The Fifth", he too is a MI graduate. and has studied under some amazing players And is a phenom in the making. Mr.Jack our keyboardist was taught classical piano as a young buck, and is a huge Hip -Hop fan, so that combination brings this unique texture of sound to the band. Jezter is a vocal Master as you know already. He can do it all, his range is spectacular. His creativity is mind blowing. He is also a virtuoso on the harmonica and plays bass. He sang in "Armenian" on Dzagheegner " and played the mandolin on it as well!! Unbelievable!! He's just a natural born killa and it show's on "The Fifth".

Why did you choose to name your band Red Snow and does it have any special meaning for you?
It was the name of a "Twilight Zone" episode and was very unique. We all liked it and it stuck. Over the years people have come up with their own interpretation of what it means, that alone makes it interesting.

The album “The Fifth” has a very unique and intense sound. Who is the mastermind behind the songwriting?
It was a team effort. Musically, Chris Daniel and myself came up with most of the music. We had help from "The Apprentice" Narek Stepanian who helped with a couple of them as well. Jezter did his magic with the lyrics and Z and Mr.Jack provided the salt and pepper and it all came together and captured that time and place in our lives. We are very proud of it.

Were there any particular challenges that stick out in your mind during the creation of this album?
Oh ya!! Our producer Levon Sultanian pushed us all very hard. Challenged each and everyone of us out of our comfort zone, which allowed us to branch out and go places we had never gone before. He is the force behind "The Fifth". he also joined in on the fun and sang on "Starstruck" making it his vocal debut. and those funny voice messages you hear throughout the record is also him! LOL!!!

What are the influences for the songs? Generally musicians draw upon personal experience. Is that the case here?
No Doubt. Jezter is a poet. A master of writing from his experiences. He really is a force to be reckoned with. Just listen to Sir. Ender: "Maybe i should thank you for the hell you put me through". WOW! That was the first song we did together. It leaves me speechless. I wrote "My January" which is about my crazy life, living with the 2 women in my life, who were both born in January. So most definitely we draw from our life experiences.

The album "The Fifth" has a great variety of songs, great production, and is very original. How long did it take to record the album? Were there any challenges to overcome?
The album took nearly 3 years. we kept going back and fine tuning, polishing so to speak, every second of this record. Levon Sultanian is the reason for the great production. he taught us patience, and not to be satisfied with it till we tried each and every option, before we moved to the next song. I believe this is the best body of work we have created. and i am honored to have my name on it.

“The Fifth” was produced by Levon Sultanian (Abloom, Onesidezero) and mixed & mastered by Ulrich Wild (Incubus, Pantera, Deftones). What was it like working with such legendary people in the industry?
It was a dream come true. For real. When you are working with such talent. it makes you proud that they believe in you and care deeply enough to make sure everything is perfect. We overcame numerous challenges, and conquered them all. I mean to have such legends believe in our work to want to be part of it speaks for itself.

Red Snow has a video out for the song “Mental Continental”. What was it like making the video? Anything in particular that stands out in your mind?
First and foremost, Thanks to Karpis Maksudian for having the vision to make it come to life. He knew what he wanted, and pushed us to achieve his goal. It was the first we video we made together and it was a blast. We all chose freaky monster/masks outfits and if you look closely, you will see, after all it's Mental Continental. It was a blast. Levon played the doctor which was a tribute to him as well.

It takes a lot of work to practice and stay together especially when juggling other responsibilities such as family life. How do you manage it all?
You said it! It is not easy. Most of us have kids, and we still make our band a priority. Though family ALWAYS comes first. I am very thankful to be blessed to have my wife and daughter, AND my band. If we were doing this for fun, it would fizzle out eventually. Each and every member are true artists, and we love creating music…we are doing this for all the right reasons. It's one big happy family.

What does it feel like to be up on stage when playing live? Also, what do you enjoy most about being in a band…performing live, recording an album, making a video, or something else?
It is one of the most amazing feelings I have ever experienced. Connecting with the audience is what its all about. It comes natural, like breathing. Performing live, recording an album, and making a video are all part of the being a musician. I love them all equally. They each have the same great feeling, and satisfaction. They all go hand in hand. All of the above! lol.

What does Red Snow have planned for the future?
Staying together for a long time and continuing to create music and growing as we go. We are looking into some options right now. Got some interest coming out of Japan and Europe at the moment. Whatever happens happens, as long as we enjoy doing this , we will be around for a long while, God willing.

In closing, I'd like to say thank you for taking the time to interview... it's been a pleasure. I wish you much success in the future.
Thanks Meliisa, we appreciate it! Thanks for your support.
Interviewer: SweetSinz
Aug 5, 2010
Next interview: Jungle Rot deserves respect

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