Seventh Servant (Ex-Iced Earth) Interview
by Matt Hensch
In 1992 Iced Earth released their classic Night of the Stormrider album. John Greely – then Iced Earth's vocalist – was there for the wild ride which ensued. Leaving a year later, Greely has since played in a plethora of bands, always striving for a level of metal integrity in his music that most bands in the power metal genre lack. With an ambitious Biblically-themed project in the works, this seasoned guitarist has a lot on his plate. Our own Matt Hensch sat down with Greely and discussed his legacy and his future.
Matt Hensch of Thrashpit.com: So it has been seventeen-odd years since the world saw John Greely last. What have you been doing since Iced Earth's Night of the Stormrider and the tour that followed?
John Greely (lead guitars/lead vocals): Well I made a couple projects in the studio, played with some different bands, raised my daughter and pretty much started a painting business. That is pretty much what I have been doing since I left to be honest. I have been working on a new project – Seventh Servant –for a year, almost two years now. It's getting closer where I can go to the studio and record it. I also play with a band on weekend – a rock 'n 'roll cover band. We go out and play biker bars and that kind of stuff for fun…and they pay me (laughs). But my next project should really be freaking kickass man, I mean super heavy.
Thrashpit.com: This new band, Seventh Servant, has a track called "Revelations" that is classic power metal like Stormrider-era Iced Earth. Is that in line with the rest of the upcoming album?
John: That's what it is. The whole album will be like that. Right now I have about seven songs similar to "Revelations." I'm working on it every night and day to put out as good an album as Stormrider. I got a pretty damn good band; we've been rehearsing a lot, writing songs a lot. You have to write ten songs to get two good songs, you know? That's my plan anyway.
Thrashpit.com: So when do you figure you'll have the debut out?
John: Well I need to shop around, look at a few labels and get some interest in it. If I can't do that and nobodies interested in it, it'll be released probably around summer time. It takes time for it to create itself basically, and then record it, just like I did with Stormrider. I pre-produced Stormrider I bet a hundred times before we went into the studio and recorded it.
Thrashpit.com: Is there a Christian tone to Seventh Servant?
John: Well it is the word-for-word Biblical book of Revelation. With that in mind, I guess you could say it has a Christian tone. Christian to me generalizes too much really, because "Christian" is everything from a priest to a snake-handler. It's the actual word-for-word right from the book, and I'm trying to write the music to accommodate it. So it's been really difficult, but I'm getting there with it. It'll probably take 3 CDs to put the whole thing out, so you'll get the first one and I'll probably release it in summer. By the time I release it hopefully I'll be on my way to writing and finishing the second one.
Thrashpit.com: Now you've been doing live shows with Seventh Servant, haven't you?
John: I've done a few live shows with Seventh Servant. We've done some parties and local clubs.
Thrashpit.com: Now you play guitar while singing in the band live, right?
John: Yep. I play and sing. So far, I couldn't find a hot enough guitar player to play my licks. I had one for a little while, but I don't know what happened to him, he just disappeared off the face of earth. He has his own project he's been working on…more black metal. Now I'm playing guitar and singing.
Thrashpit.com: I noticed listening to "Revelations" that your voice sounds just as powerful as it does on Stormrider, and of course, this is over a decade later. What's your secret?
John: It's better now than it was, really. You know, that was just a rough recording we recorded live basically. I overdubbed some of the vocals. But I can sing just as good as I did then. And I'm just getting started. I had to start all over again, pretty much from scratch. For about five or six years, I didn't even play. And then my buddy Adam came over with drums and put them in my basement, and nagging on me saying 'Come on man. We got to play.' And almost two years later, I play every day, trying to get better and better. My guitar playing is better than it ever. I've been playing since I was a little kid, I just didn't play in Iced Earth; I only sung. I like to play and sing, or I could just sing too, you know?
Thrashpit.com: I saw on the Seventh Son myspace page that you have a bootleg video you're selling for an Iced Earth tour in Europe when you were in the band. What is it exactly?
John: It's actually a bootleg of a show in Tampa on Halloween night. I made a recording off the sound-deck, and we played live and recorded the whole show. It's my own personal stuff, you know? If I didn't do it I wouldn't have it. He (John Shaffer) wouldn't let me have anything. I don't even have pictures from that era, hardly. He started a lot of false humors about me too. I don't know why he did that. I just kind of went on with my life after Iced Earth. And then I started seeing sh*t on the internet about me that is just blatant lies. I don't know why he did that.
Thrashpit.com: Would one of those rumors be related to anti-Semitic comments?
John: Anti-Semitic comments, that I stole money…it's a joke. I paid money into that band in the form of dues for like two years, like a hundred-twenty bucks, hundred-thirty bucks a month or whatever, towards the band. And from Dave Abel, you'd find out what I'm telling is true too. He just made that sh*t up.
Thrashpit.com: How do you think Stormrider changed your life?
John: How do you I think Stormrider changed my life? Good question. I guess it didn't change my life that much. I mean I got to play in front of a bunch of people, tour Europe, you know, but I don't really think it changed me that much. There was too much conflict all the time. I guess I got more defensive, you know what I mean? I'll be way more apprehensive on signing things, that's for sure, but as far as changing my life, it didn't. I still have to work every day just like everyone else does, you know? You go to Europe, you're a huge star and everyone wants your autograph; soon as you get off the plane here in America, you just go right back to work.
Stormrider really didn't get big until it was well-over, to be honest with you. When it first came out, there was only minimal interest in Europe for it. I mean we played sold-out shows don't get me wrong, but it never got any airplay in the United States. So it wasn't until after that people began finding it. Actually, it seems to me that more people have found it since then from the music Iced Earth does now. In all honesty in the way I feel in my heart, Iced Earth was at its peak then, and it has declined since. Even the musicianship has declined…just totally commercialized, I don't know. I like the Demons & Wizards project he did, I thought that was pretty good, and Hani had a lot to do with that too. I thought that was pretty cool.
Thrashpit.com: Are there any newer bands I've been enjoying lately?
John: I like some crazy sh*t. I like Otep pretty well. I really don't like too many bands to be honest with you. I listen to Beneath The Remains, Great Southern Trendkill, you know? The good ones; I really don't like all the bullsh*t. I don't really listen to anyone but the main ones like Judas Priest and King Diamond a lot too. Cannibal Corpse, I like their new album too, but I'm not a real big death metal guy; I can take five-ten minutes of it and I'm tired out it. I listen to Death, you know, the band Death with Chuck, that sh*t is good stuff, still great stuff. I listen to Braindrill, you ever heard of them?
Thrashpit.com: Oh yeah, I've seen them live actually.
John: You've seen them live?
Thrashpit.com: Yeah, it was insane.
John: Oh they're awesome though. I mean they're over-the-top. I love watching them because they're so good, but the ten other f*cking death metal bands that warm up for them, I have no interest in seeing them. I go to Tampa a lot, and death metal bands are everywhere. You go and see ten of them in a row, that's the way they do it – practicing and shuffling on and off the stage – and they always sound the same; they don't ever have a song you remember when they're done playing. To me, it's a bunch of bullsh*t. They took that style and ruined it, I think.
Thrashpit.com: Well John I'd like thank you for taking the time to do the interview. Those are all the questions I have.
John: Yeah no problem. I'll be updating the myspace with some new songs, and some other stuff coming down the pipe pretty soon. It was nice talking to you man.
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