“And to have one of your hero’s head banging to your music. It was a lot of fun and it really got me inspired to try to get all the Holy Grail guys together in one room again.”
One of the main reasons I gravitate to heavy metal is my appreciation for its creativity. There’s no mainstream agenda at work here. This is the underground and the rules don’t apply. In a genre filled with power, progression and spirit, the creative juices are constantly flowing. It’s hard not to get caught up in a place where reality equals constant re-invention.
It’s one thing to turn out a track that strikes a chord in another but an entirely different matter to produce three highly successful albums that influence thousands. These are the records that have re-invented the landscape of modern metal. A unfathomable feat but just what the musicians of Holy Grail have done.
Now, Holy Grail has arrived at a crossroad. The band has found success but we all know they are capable of much more. Will Holy Grail ascend to their rightful place among metal’s elite? Only time will tell…
I recently had the opportunity to speak with Holy Grail standouts Alex Lee and Eli Santana. Please enjoy some excepts of our 7/29/19 interview where we discuss new material, upcoming tours and Sebastian Bach.
David Halbe: What made this current tour the right thing for Holy Grail?
Eli Santana: Definitely the lineup, we’ve been wanting to play with Striker for a long time. We didn’t actually know Bewitcher until this tour and they’ve been absolutely amazing. We’ve also been off the road for awhile and we wanted to get out there and play live.
Dave: Sharpening the tools maybe?
Eli: Absolutely, we’ve got a couple of new songs we wanted to try out.
Dave: That’s what Alex was saying earlier.
Alex Lee: (Nods)
Eli: Yea man, we’ve got some stuff ready.
Dave: So, is it true there’s an EP in the works?
Dave: Do you guys have a title yet?
Eli: No, not yet.
Dave: How about the artwork, any ideas on a theme or who’s doing it?
Eli: I’m not sure.
Dave: Well, last time I think James (James Paul Luna) told me it (Times Of Pride And Peril) was done by somebody’s girlfriend and I think Ride The Void was done professionally, correct?
Eli: That guy, the guy who did Ride The Void (Dylan Cole) is actually my friend, now he’s one of the production designers for the Avatar sequel.
Dave: He did the artwork for Ride The Void?
Dave: That’s kick ass! That’s a bad ass album cover, it reminds me of King Diamond.
Eli and Alex: Yes!
Dave: So, this new EP is it going to have a concept like Times Of Pride And Peril, or will it just be songs?
Eli: It’s just going to be individual songs. I think it will probably be in the EP style like we normally do, two original songs and two cover songs.
Dave: Ok, do you know what the covers will be?
Eli: I do but I think I’m going to wait.
Dave: Oh man, you’re killing me!
Eli: I’m going to wait but I’ll tell you what, we might be hearing one of them tonight.
Dave: Ok. (This turned out to be “Hard Ride” by Pantera) So, does the band currently have a label? Are you still with Prosthetic Records, I was under the impression that was only a three-record deal?
Eli: Yea, so we’re done with Prosthetic but we’re definitely in the hunt. We mainly want to get our EP together and just kind of have that ready to present before we do anything.
Dave: Ok. That sounds like a solid plan.
Eli: We’re also hoping to do something more with Europe.
Dave: Didn’t you have a relationship with Nuclear Blast on that side?
Eli: Yes. We did the Ride The Void release through Nuclear Blast in Europe but then it went back to Prosthetic Records for Times Of Pride And Peril. Basically, we are hoping to expand our European presence.
Dave: Understood. Makes a lot of sense.
Eli: It’s something we think we’ve missed out on this whole time.
Dave: The idea is to get this EP done, start shopping it to people and then say this is what we want to do?
Dave: Sounds like a plan. Who wrote the songs for the new EP, was it you (Eli) and James or did you use a collaborator like you did for Ride The Void?
Eli: Yes, there was one song that was a collaboration between me and James. There was another one that Alex wrote.
Dave: Nice! Good for you man!
Dave: Was that the first song you’ve offered?
Alex: Nah, I’ve got a couple now. We all have songs and we kind of grab what we like out of a pot.
Dave: You come up with a riff, write a couple lyrics and say, here’s what I got?
Alex: Exactly, I bounce it past them and say, what do you think?
Dave: Fair enough. How long has this current line-up been together?
Eli: (Laughs) It’s funny you say that. You know, it’s been awhile but we recently lost our bass player Blake Mount.
Dave: Blake’s gone?
Dave: You’re kidding me?
Alex: No man. Blake quit. He’s out of the game.
Dave: That sucks. I always thought he was a bad ass guy. Seemed like a cool dude to tour with?
Eli and Alex: Yea man, he was the best.
Dave: So, what happened to him then?
Eli: He’s just done man, he doesn’t want to go though the grind of it. He wanted to be home.
Dave: I get it, you can’t argue with that.
Eli: You know, we’ve been one the road pretty consistently.
Dave: Yea, especially for Times, I can’t even believe you’re touring right now but to get sharp before the EP, I get it.
Eli: Yea, it’s been awhile.
Dave: But you’ve got to get your name back out there.
Eli: I think for Blake it didn’t really matter how successful we got, it was just the grind of putting out an album then touring extensively on it, he just didn’t like that pattern, he was just done with it.
Dave: Who do you have replacing him right now?
Eli: Well, right now we’re not set on anybody but we have our buddy Jimmy Claypool from Minneapolis. He plays in a band named False, we’ve got him filling in right now. The first week we went out we had Blake Meahl who used to play guitars with me in Huntress. It’s been odd with the changing members but it’s something we’ve dealt with before and you’ve got to keep trucking along.
Dave: I hear you. What are your thoughts on a Holy Grail tour of Europe? Or maybe another trip to Japan?
Eli: We’ll actually be announcing it pretty soon, so I’m fine with saying it now, we’re going to go to Japan in September.
Dave: Kick ass!
Eli: We’re going to be out there for like a week and a half, so we plan on doing a proper tour.
Dave: Remember the inner cover of Ride The Void, that was in Japan right? The fans love you!
Eli: Absolutely and that was only one show. It was at Loud Park Festival and speaking of member changes it was myself (Eli Santana) James Paul Luna and Tyler Meahl. Blake had been out of the band for a little bit back then.
Dave: No Alex yet?
Eli: No, we hadn’t stolen him, I mean borrowed him yet, I mean we hadn’t got him yet (laughs) from Bonded By Blood.
Dave: I’m so glad you’re with these guys Alex, your guitar work adds such a great element to the overall sound of the group.
Dave: Considering the relationship that Holy Grail has with the band Huntress, have you considered collaborating with those musicians or perhaps dedicating a song to the memory of Jill Janus?
Eli: That’s something we haven’t really talked about but you know, we’ve definitely been incestuous when it comes to band members.
Dave: I agree, with the Meahl brothers and yourself, have you discussed any kind of a tribute?
Eli: Not yet.
Dave: Huntress is over right?
Eli: I don’t really know if it’s my place to say definitively but I feel like yes, it is. I do know that Blake (Blake Meahl – Guitars Huntress) has been writing just for the love of playing music and I love working with him. I don’t know what will come out of that, and Tyler’s stuck with him because they’re related. (Laughs)
Dave: It sort of makes sense though, I really like the idea of Tyler filling in on bass.
Eli: Oh yea.
Dave: If he became a permanent member that would be fantastic for the fans.
Eli: For sure. I guess for my solo side project, Alien Satan, I had a collaboration with her (Jill Janus) that we had been working on. Unfortunately, I didn’t get a chance to finish it.
Dave: Are there recorded vocals?
Eli: There’s some live footage of the song. We had done like a duet.
Dave: Do you think you might release something down the line then?
Eli: Yea, I do have some stuff. It’s stuff I have personally that’s dedicated to her, I definitely want to put some of that out.
Dave: I think that would be cool, a worthy tribute.
Eli: Yea, I have some recordings of us just singing together in my living room. I don’t know, I might try to make something out of it.
Dave: It’s part of metal lore now man.
Eli: Yea I know.
Dave: For better or for worse. I was looking around on Facebook a couple of months back and I saw some pictures of you and Sebastian Bach, what’s was going on there?
Eli: It was awesome, I kind of hit it off with Sebastian. He was working on a new record, he was like ‘do you got any riffs to check out?’
Dave: No way!
Eli: Yea, dude invited me over and actually listened to my riff tapes. Well, things I had kept you know, I call them tapes.
Dave: That’s what you do too, right Alex? You’ve got ideas recorded.
Alex: I put stuff down all the time.
Eli: So, he (Sebastian Bach) got super stoked about a couple of things and we went in to record them.
Dave: No way.
Eli: Yea, and it was like the drummer for Billy Idol and Steve Via (Jeremy Colson).
Dave: A bunch of the old guys eh?
Eli: Dude, you’d be surprised, Orianthi, who’s worked with Michael Jackson and Carrie Underwood just shows up.
Dave: Are you fucking serious?
Dave: No way!
Eli: Yea, she showed up with a guitar.
Dave: Holy shit, she played with Alice Cooper right?
Eli: Yea, dude and we hung out just like a high school band, just jamming in the garage and Sebastian was standing there headbanging.
Dave (to Alex): Were you pissed off when you heard about all of this or what?
Alex: (Laughs) No I wasn’t. I’m not on Facebook often but I’m always supportive of all of my friends. I’m more stoked for them because it’s like I’m living vicariously through them.
Dave: Great answer man.
Dave (to Eli): Dude, he’s bad ass for that.
Eli: Oh, yea right.
Dave: What became of the jam?
Eli: Well, we’ll see if any of these ideas and stuff makes the record but it was cool to just hang out high school style and jam. It was awesome to show somebody a guitar riff in a garage like when your growing up, only this time it’s Orianthi.
Dave: Hell yea.
Eli: And to have one of your hero’s head banging to your music. It was a lot of fun and it really got me inspired to try to get all the Holy Grail guys together in one room again.
Dave: I hear you.
Eli: You know, we do a lot of file sharing and stuff like that. So I really wanted to break that mold and get us all together. I think the whole experience with Sebastian did light a different fire under me.
Dave: Sounds excellent. That was an awesome story man, thanks for sharing.
Eli: No problem.
Dave: Hey, I really appreciate your time today guys, best of luck with the new EP and the rest of this tour.
Eli & Alex: Thanks a lot man, take care.
Holy Grail are:
• Tyler Meahl – Drums
• Eli Santana – Guitars
• Alex Lee – Guitars
• James Paul Luna – Vocals