TMR: What factors led to the birth of Serpents?
I’d like to start this interview in true “Andrew Mikhail fashion” by quoting Plato’s famous line, “Necessity is the mother of invention”; and at that certain time in my life, I had nothing but necessity. I was harboring many mixed emotions then, and yet, at the same time…hours and hours of music. In my heart and soul, it was all meant to stay within; but after speaking with a close friend back in 2010, I was convinced that this needed to be unleashed unto the world…for my own spiritual well-being as well ha. The fact that anyone else wanted to play that music with me, or simply listen to it; was unexpected…but an added bonus in the end. For that, I am always grateful.
TMR: Explain your upcoming album. Who did you record with? What’s the theme and lyrical motivation?
In a nutshell, this is the third album I’ve created under the Serpents name; and it’s the final installment of a “trilogy” of sorts, as the previous albums had an overall theme to them lyrically and conceptually that all tied together in a “grand sense”. This one though? There are about 6 parallel story-lines simultaneously intertwining within “Temet Nosce”, that I purposefully leave to the listener to uncover; but like the previous albums, there is a huge part of myself and my story hidden within the lyrics. However, at times, it’s a bit more obvious; I mean hell, the album title is Latin for “Know Thyself” ha. As far as the behind the scenes credits go, the album was written, recorded, and produced by myself pretty much; with the exception of some additional help by credited friends. Later on in the process though, I had sought out the help of Logan Mader (Gojira, Five Finger Death Punch, DevilDriver) for mixing, mastering, and additional production duties. Being a huge Soulfly fan, and a fan of his production work, I can proudly say that it has been a really cool experience working with him on this album; and from the feedback so far…the people really love it too.
TMR: Your sound is so unique. Tell us what bands and artists influenced it?
There really is no specific band or artist that directly influences my lyrics or music, as my musical tastes span all across the globe. Specifically, there are obvious ones that many can throw on the table for conversation’s sake; like: Behemoth, Dimmu Borgir, Opeth, Devin Townsend, etc. but even as I type this, I’m checking out the latest Katy Perry single! I mean, the list could go on for days ha. However, from growing up in a household that would have traditional Assyrian music to bands like Ministry blaring in the house; we fast forward to today, where I listen to all different kinds of music no matter what. Every day and every night, it doesn’t matter, I try to stumble across a new band, genre, or artist at least twice a week just to keep things fresh for me artistically and even production wise. These things definitely factor into our sound, but I’d also say my curiosity for finding the “perfect” song keeps me yearning for more as a listener and creator. It’s a happy yet never-ending pursuit.
TMR: Any new bands you discovered recently you wanna share?
Again, it really depends on the genre, but there are a few up-and-coming groups that I feel are going to do great things for their respective genres. Some favorites in my regular rotation as of late, include: Warforged, The Zenith Passage, Painless, DRAEMINGS, Thieves, and more more more.
TMR: Andrew- tell us about the split with Oceano. Do you feel that Serpents is like an artistic rebirth of yourself?
It depends on the day you ask ha. However, looking back, my general understanding of the situation is that we were kids at the time. Plain and simple. There’s really no need to go over details anymore, as it’s been quite some time now. Some grudges had died shortly after, and some still live on; that’s life, and that’s alright. All I can say when looking in the mirror, is that I tried my best and I leave it at that. Not to mention, the band that I had left in 2010, has transformed into something completely different; and that’s great. I’m a fan of what they have done since then; which even solidifies the feelings of it being a “past life” of sorts when looking back. Like the world does after one dies, it has moved on with or without me; and that is the reality. In addition to, I’ve personally been through a lot since the departure; and that journey really set the precedent of Serpents, and my ongoing rebirth as an artist and human being. My days in Oceano are from a past version of myself that is thankfully well-documented and often nostalgic to look back on; but I have “died a thousand deaths” since then. As each album passes, Serpents is a personification and/or manifestation of “the eternal return.” A never-ending cyclical process, yet, a glimpse into times as I see fit; over and over and over again. Within each album, that very idea is plastered all over the imagery, the lyrical themes, the merch, everything; you just have to be able to see it.
TMR: What’s your favorite song you’ve written in Serpents?
That’s a tough question, as I try to never write a song that I don’t enjoy! However, to avoid being cliche by saying anything off the new album; I will say “The Shadow of Timelessness” is a favorite lyrically, and “The Virtuous Remliel” would have to be one of the favorites musically. Both are pretty “deep cuts” in contrast to what our listeners usually enjoy ha. Go figure.
TMR: What is your favorite thing about music? What qualities of it attracted you?
Qualities aren’t really important to me, as I approach music like one would approach a painting; I want the whole picture all at once. I want to skim over, investigate, pick apart, interpret, and even be hypnotized by it. That is my attraction to music. If it is forced or has no substance, then I don’t care for it; plain and simple. Any good song of substance and heart has the ability to take you to another world; that is the truth. If you let it…it even can be a lethargic or euphoric “possession” of sorts. THAT is my favorite thing about music. People everywhere, including myself, are yearning for escape, truth, fantasy, and more; daily. Music gives them that power, and when I am dead and rotting…I am more than happy to have been one of the few to hand over the keys.
TMR: How did everyone get started as musicians?
The stories vary, but overall, we all started out young. Like many others before us, we were loners filled with a passion for music; and yet, we were fortunate enough to be bonded by our peers through metal music. The way it should always be. Some say that “it takes a village to raise a child,” and that is what metal used to be; a community that raised us all up–together. I’m not sure how things are now, so I can’t speak on that confidently; hence the “used to be”…put your pitchforks down, friends ha.
TMR: Any shows in the near future?
We are setting the release date for “Temet Nosce” as I type this, along with booking select dates to support the album release and bring in the “new” era of Serpents once and for all. So, look out for those if you will.