Orange county based metalers Ignite, are set to release their new self titled album of their unique brand of melodic hardcore. Backseat Mafia caught up with them to find out where it all begin, their inspirations and how they feel about the music industry over their almost 3 decades.
Eli Santana- Vocals
Nik Hill- Guitar
Kevin Kilkenny- Guitar
Brett Rasmussen- Bass
Craig Anderson- Drums
Give us a potted history of the band?
Brett Rasmussen: IGNITE started in 1993 as just a fun way for a couple guys to get together and write and play music that they liked. There were no expectations of having success or putting out an album or even touring at that point. We just had the mentality that if you work hard, opportunities will come from that hard work. We were lucky enough to have the chance to go to Europe in 1994 with the band Slapshot and that really opened doors for us and opened our eyes to what the possibilities were with Ignite. We also always have believed that the songs you write will create what the legacy of the band is. Luckily, we have been able to play concerts in over 50 countries and over 25 years later are still having fun doing what we all love.
Who inspired you to start making music?
Eli Santana: Well, it seems like even my earliest memories were plagued with a yearning to make music and perform it. From getting mercilessly ridiculed by my uncle who caught me air guitarring Bryan Adams at stuffed animals to pretending I was Andy Summers playing the “Synchronicity” album as a soundtrack to my mother’s Jane Fonda workouts. A guitar class at my middle school inspired me to ask my parents for an acoustic, I figured I’d have to strum a couple chords if I was going to grow up to be Brett Michaels or Mark Slaughter. But as I started learning, I also started getting into the Big 4 of Thrash and forgot about my Monster Ballad goals and started setting my sights on being the next Kirk Hammett/Yngwie. So, when my high school metal/hardcore band couldn’t find a singer who didn’t try to pass off his laziness as some Jim Morrison poetic process, I fell into being a lead vocalist. Yet instead of using “Every Rose Has It’s Thorn” as a blueprint, I’d use the “River Runs Red” album by Life of Agony and “Chaos AD” by Sepultura as my vocal training. In short, I don’t think there was one moment that made me do this, it just felt like everything was corralling me into this life.
And the one, or maybe two, records that inspired you artistically?
Nik Hill: most certainly song craft and melodically I’m most influenced by “Walk among us” by the Misfits, it’s dripping with sticky sweet melodies about absolutely horrible things and obviously a powerhouse vocalist in Danzig.
Not exactly the blueprint for skilled musicianship but it’s raw and played just out of control, exactly what I love/loved about music.
I’ll also mention the record “We are the Romans” by Botch, this is purely a pick to recognize my most influential guitar player in Dave Knudson. The wild chaotic and yet masterful groove poured into every riff, every bar is unparalleled anywhere else to my ear. I wanted to be this guy onstage too, an absolute animal. The real thing, who no doubt influenced a lot of players beyond myself. It’s such a great heavy record.
Nearly three decades in the game is one hell of an achievement? What attracted you to the music scene all those years ago? Do you feel you achieved what you set out to do?
Kevin Kilkenny: What initially attracted me to this scene was how relatable the message behind the music was to me. I couldn’t find this anywhere else. I was lost, scared and confused and this music welcomed me. Those first friendships and the community they introduced me to changed my life and gave me a sense of belonging. This is what kept me all these years. I wasn’t thinking about achieving anything, for me it was about healing, it’s therapy for me.
How do you feel when looking back over the years? Is being in a band still what you love?
Nik Hill: it’s a difficult thing to put into perspective all the years I’ve spent playing with this band, there’s different versions and many hard times. All of which I firmly believe made us who we are now, who I am today. The band is today what I’m most proud of as a musician and also as a collaborator, I’ve learned how to be a man and be vulnerable and supportive and be a good friend all throughout my tenure with ignite.
I played my first show in ignite when I was 17 years old, I’m turning 40 this year as our new record comes out. I’m beyond proud of my brothers in this band and grateful for the years of learning I’ve had with them.
How does a track develop within the band? Where do you guys get your influences? Has the creative process changed over the years?
Craig Anderson: The songwriting process was quite a bit different for us on this album than on our previous records. Obviously, at the beginning of 2020 we all found ourselves in lockdown so we had to figure out a new way of creating music out of necessity, not by choice. Luckily, we were able to use the technology available to us to facilitate this endeavor.
In the beginning the guys would come up with a two or three part arrangement for a song. I’d get a hold of it and lay down a drum track based on what they wrote and what I was hearing or feeling. We’d go back and forth like this for a while making arrangement changes and adding things like vocals and melodies. Once we got to a point where we were happy with the direction of the song I’d usually re-record the drums. Come to think of it, by the time we got to rehearsals we had probably recorded and re-recorded all of the songs at least two or three times!
Once we got to rehearsals we’d run up each song and make changes according to how the song felt being played live. We rehearsed everyday for two weeks straight, went into the studio and came out the other side with the album you now hold in your hands! It was definitely the most prepared we had ever been in the studio.
As far as influences go, it’s not something we’ll usually talk about when writing a song. Sometimes things will sneak in that remind you of a band or a song you really like and that’s always a lot of fun. “Happy accidents” so to speak but in the end, it’s gotta sound like Ignite. On this new album we were able to re-capture that classic sound and also bring something new to the group and we couldn’t be happier!
The music industry has changed a hell of a lot over the years. How have you guys found the journey when dealing with the industry? Are you glad you started in the 90s rather than starting out today?
Brett Rasmussen: The 90s were an amazing time to start IGNITE because the whole music scene was shifting to a more hard rock based mainstream. In 1991-92 Metallica busted into the mainstream with their black album, the entire Seattle scene exploded onto the radio, metal and punk bands like Social Distortion and Pantera were signed to major labels and their songs were being played on MTV and commercial radio. Then in 1993 Tool releases Undertow, Smashing Pumpkins are all over the radio and then Green Day and The Offspring release a couple of the biggest punk albums of all time…that catapulted the punk scene and labels like Epitaph, Fat Wreck, Victory, Vagrant, Roadrunner etc to become powerhouse indie labels. Rock Festivals all over the world starting wanting punk/metal and hardcore bands to play their stages. Mainstream magazines started giving these bands notice as well. It was the perfect time to start a hardcore band.
The industry itself has changed dramatically with the advances in technology. I love the fact that people all over the world can stream your music. We see all the different countries around the world where our songs are being listened to and its awesome. We have only played concerts in 50 countries and on Spotify alone there are 130 countries where people are listening to IGNITE.
In short, yes I am glad that we started in the 90s. It was a special time in music.
What songs are you looking forward to playing live when you get the chance?
Eli Santana: I of course, am excited to play anything off the new record not just because I’m insanely proud of it but this is the first time I’ve been in a band that had songs show ready before going into the studio. Who knew hard work and preparation could give you confidence? I look forward to playing “Who Sold Out Now,” since it has a special serendipitous place with me being the first song of Ignite I heard at my first hardcore show and also the first song off of “Place Called Home” (which I bought the day after the show). I also can’t wait to the see the chaos firsthand that ragers like “In My Time,” “Are You Listening” and “Know Your History” are going to illicit. And a couple slower, heavier songs like “50 and a Month” and the live version of “Burned Up” would be a lot of fun. I’m trying my best not to answer with the cheesy “I’m looking forward to playing them all live” but I am.
Are there any bands past or present you would love to have played with or even been part of?
Craig Anderson: As a band we’ve been fortunate enough to tour with many of the groups that inspired us such as Bad Religion, Social Distortion and The Offspring. We’re very confident that our new album will open up new opportunities for us to play with many other bands one might not normally associate with our type of music.
Personally, I’ve been lucky enough to play in many different projects with a number of musicians from bands that I grew up listening to. One instance was back in 2018 when I was asked to play drums on 3 shows in South America with one of my all time favorite bands Fates Warning.
As for other “bucket list” bands, I think it would be fun and quite challenging to play drums with Pennywise. There’s also another band from Los Angeles called Holy Grail that would be cool to play with but I’ve heard that their guitar player is currently singing with some hardcore band from Orange County so I guess I missed my chance.
Difficult to talk about future plans, but what does the future look like for yourself and the band?
Brett Rasmussen: The plan is to tour as much as we can. There are a lot of places that we want to travel to and play our new songs. As for new music beyond our Self-Titled album, the goal is to release music as often as humanly possible. We love to write together and to create together. Hopefully once this world is back to normal there will be a lot of travel plans in our future. Regardless of the travel situation, we will be returning to the recording studio a lot faster than IGNITE has before. Theres a new mentality in IGNITE now and it is to create and share as much music as we can.
Lastly what music are you digging right now? How do you see the hard rock scene in the year 2022?
Kevin Kilkenny: Right now I am digging Turnstile. This band is authentic, they have substance, and they aren’t afraid to show vulnerability. There is so much in the world trying to bring us down and these guys pick me up. It reminds me of how I felt when I first heard Shelter in the early 90s. Turnstile welcomes you into their world and speak to you. As for the heavy music scene in 2022 I hope we can take a page from these guys and have a more welcoming, compassionate, uplifting community.
Check out the bands latest single ‘One The Ropes’, below:
Pre order the album here