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David E. Gehlke - Rhythm Guitar for Crown the Lost

Date: 06/07
Interviewed By: The Goat


1. Give me a brief historical tour of the band, from the beginning of Sinning Is Our Savior to your current incarnation.

DAVID: Three of us - Joe, Ryan, and myself have been playing together since June of 2002. We met at a Shadows Fall concert and learned that we all had the same interests and ideas for a band, so it was only necessary that we put something together. That band was the auspiciously named Sinning Is Our Savior and we were a technical thrash band with a lot of melodic elements. We recorded one album in 2003 and were offered a deal by Screaming Ferret Wreckords in 2004 for distribution. We signed the deal, but we weren't ready and never really found our niche or groove. In addition, we made some really poor band personnel decisions and it affected the atmosphere and work habits of the band. Sinning broke up in April of 2005 and that's when I decided to start this band.

While we still had Sinning going, I was played a demo by my cousin that had our current singer Chris Renaldi. The music was pretty juvenile and average, but I was taken aback by his vocal abilities and figured this was the guy we needed to have in the band. When Sinning broke up, I immediately set the wheels in motion for Crown the Lost and Chris agreed to join. I had asked everyone from Sinning to join this band when we started, but everyone balked, so Chris and I were left to work with some rather poor and unprofessional musicians. We were finally able to get Joe and Ryan to join up with us and that's when Crown the Lost really started to take shape.

In the summer of '06, we recorded our first album, Reverence Dies Within with Eric Klinger (Pro-Pain, Icarus Witch). We put the album out in September of that year and have since enjoyed some rather positive reviews both critically and consumer-wise. It's the first piece of work that we've all been 100% proud of and it has enabled us to garner a fan base and start to work towards bigger and better things.

2. What has been the biggest influence on you, individually and/or collectively?

DAVID: I can only speak of myself, but my biggest musical influence was Megadeth. Joe and Ryan are both huge Megadeth fans, so this applies to them as well, I suppose, but for me personally, Megadeth was 'my' band growing up. I loved the way Mustaine puts together songs and how witty he was with his lyrics. At the same time, his songs were usually melodic and memorable and had more substance than a lot of metal bands.

I can also cite the likes of more current bands like Lyzanxia, Into Eternity and Mercenary for providing the impetus to start this band, as all three utilize clean vocals alongside music that is designed for more aggressive singers. This is the model we follow for Crown the Lost - create music that would require growled or death metal vox, but put clean vocals to them and make something interesting and unique out of it. It's a huge challenge, but I think we're starting to find that perfect balance.

3. What label would you ideally want to be signed to (if any at all)?

DAVID: That's a tough question. I've had the pleasure of working for a record label with Inside Out Music America (Evergrey, Symphony X, King's X, etc.), so I have some semblance of how the industry works. I've seen first-hand how the business uses and abuses bands, so with Crown the Lost, we're going to be smart and make the right label decision. We've had some small offers thrown our way, but it was nothing worth pursuing.

Ideally, we'd like to have someone put out our next album so we don't have to pay for it with our own money, but we are prepared to self-release it again. Before we put out the Reverence album, we had a small offer for distribution, but it seemed a little shady and in retrospect, it was the right decision - we've flourished as an unsigned band. But to answer your question, it would be someone like Nuclear Blast, Season of Mist, or Century Media that would be our ideal label.

4. Who has been the best band (or bands) you have had the opportunity to open for or play with? What happened?

DAVID: We've opened for a few national bands and every show has gone well. We're sort of an odd-ball band to put on a bill - we're not power metal and we're not straight thrash metal, so it's hard to win crowds over. Some of the more recent shows we've played involving God Forbid and Macabre, oddly enough have gone well and we've had a mostly positive reaction. It's a partial worry among members of this band that the crowd will dismiss us because of us having clean vocals, but so far that has yet to happen.

In terms of local bands that we enjoy playing with, there are several off the top of my head - Brothers In Arms, Grave Desire, A Moment of Clarity, and Terror By the Lake to name a few. Many may not know this, but Pittsburgh has a myriad of good metal bands but the scene is eons behind Cleveland. The scene in Pittsburgh has a self-defeating mentality and we're hoping that can be reversed - there are too many good bands here that go unnoticed.

5. What is the most bizarre experience you (individually or collectively) have experienced either during a show, after a show, before a show and what happened?

DAVID: In terms of bizarre experiences, I could probably list about a half-dozen for you that have happened this year alone, but in order to maintain some form of integrity in the public eye, I will spare you the details. There were some minor technical problems when we opened for God Forbid, but I wouldn't rank that as being bizarre and we had to play a show without Chris, but that was because he had an obligation he couldn't pass up. All in all, this band has been fortunate enough to not have something truly bizarre happen to it.

6. What inspires some of the lyrics?

DAVID: The bulk of our lyrics deal with our general disenchantment with organized religion. It's a fairly easy topic to take stabs at, but we're not going to do it in a cheap or brutal fashion - all of our lyrics have some form of merit to them and I'd like to think that is one of the cool, unique things about Crown the Lost.

We've explored other typical metal topics like perseverance, alienation, and abandonment too, but we're always going back to religion as our main topical source. I don't think we'll always write songs about it, but at the time being, it's where our heads are at.

7. If you were going to make (or burn) a 12 song mix tape (or CD) of the most influential songs that have had an impact on you as musicians, what would they be and what order would they be in?

DAVID: In order:

1. Megadeth - “Holy Wars”
2. Death - “1,000 Eyes”
3. Anthrax - “Among the Living”
4. Slayer - “Spirit In Black”
5. Sepultura - “Arise”
6. Blind Guardian - “Nightfall”
7. Iron Maiden - “The Trooper”
8. Judas Priest - “Painkiller”
9. Into Eternity - “Beginning of the End”
10. In Flames - “Moonshield”
11. Metallica - “Master of Puppets”
12. Borknagar - “The Genuine Pulse”

8. What does the future hold for Crown the Lost?

DAVID: Currently, we're doing some shows in support of the Reverence Dies Within album. We're slowly building a fan base in Pittsburgh and across the country and the only way to do that is by playing lots of shows. If all goes to plan, we'll be playing in some surrounding areas of Pittsburgh like Cleveland, Erie and Buffalo, so that's a current priority of ours.

For the remainder of 2007, we're going to continue work on our next album, which will be recorded sometime in December or January. At this point, I'd say we're about 40% finished with songwriting - we still have some ways to go, but we're making good, steady progress.

Beyond that, we're going to actively pursue a label deal in early 2008 and hopefully that will pan out for us. If not, we'll keep at it - this band has come too far to pack it in. If we have the same conversation a year from now, it is my belief we'll be a far superior and professional band than we are now and frankly, that is the only goal of ours - to progress, stay fresh, avoid trends, and keep pushing forward. That's all you can keep doing given the current state of metal. It's a crowded field and you have to do anything everything

Official website: www.crownthelost.com

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