If you love learning about sick up and coming metal bands, you can spend hours exploring Bandcamp and Soundcloud and enjoy some great finds, but really where would any of us be in discovering, sharing, and referencing great music without YouTube? If you filter out the cat videos and assorted nonsense, it’s a place where you can find a version of just about every song ever recorded, watch guitar virtuosos who work at WhatABurger, and experience amazing performances of original material from bands like Polyphia.
These guys out of the Dallas suburb of Plano aren’t embarrassed to tell you they have big ambitions. They’ve already captured a growing online following for their exquisitely shot and produced instrumental play-through videos.
“We are definitely aware of the colossal reach of YouTube marketing; we want to exploit this avenue as much as possible while it’s still relevant,” the band members, who for the most part speak as a group, say. “For most of our videos, we have worked collaboratively with Remi David (Kova Studios) and are strong with the DIY mentality. All of the videos are entirely self-produced.”
Polyphia is Scott LePage and Tim Henson on guitars, Clay Gober on bass, and Brandon Burkhalter on drums. They’ve recently put out what may be their last EP as an all-instrumental outfit, Inspire.
The band is currently seeking a vocalist and are encouraging, you guessed it, YouTube auditions. Some have wondered, considering the recent success of all-instrumental bands like Animals as Leaders, Scale the Summit, and CHON, if Polyphia really needs a vocalist?
“The search has gone well and a handful of auditionees have been very talented and enjoyable to watch. From an artistic perspective, we are very much wanting to include vocals in our music, simply because that is the music that we would like to make. From a marketing perspective, and, at the complete expense of immodesty, we wish to reach a larger audience with our music than those of the aforementioned bands. Instrumental efforts are very trendy right now, and we have had a blast being one, but there’s just something about the relational aspect and touch that a human voice brings to a song that we appreciate, and that the majority of the music market appreciates, also.“
Most of Polyphia has been making music together for about four years although the band as such is only about a year and a half old. Tim talks about notorious shredders like Guthrie Govan and Rick Graham as influences while Brandon looks to musicians like jazz fusion drummer Dave Weckl and Allan Holdworth-collaborator Virgil Donati.
Let’s be honest, for a lot of tech death headbangers, the first reaction when they watch Polyphia is something along the lines of “these guys can shred but what’s up with the scene haircuts?” It’s not a question the band tries to avoid.
“Honestly, we would have been surprised if they didn’t make comments about our haircuts and our image. Anyone with an internet connection and thumbs can see that there has not been a progressive band to date who capitalized on their wardrobe as much as their alternate picking and paradiddles. It’s not to say that just the metal world is superficial; the same way a “metal head” would ignore a band for being pretty, a “fan girl” would ignore one for not being so. What it really all comes down to, is that image sells; whether it’s a hamburger at McDonalds, or an Apple Computer, people buy into what they think looks appealing – and everyone has different taste. What the “metal demographic” doesn’t realize, is that they are just as much of a problem as the “scene kids” on which they prey, by segregating aural art with its visual subsidiary – the only difference being they would rather see an unkempt, grungy image, as opposed to a clean-cut, “marketable” one. You can’t get frustrated over the inevitable, and we’re very happy with what we’re doing, and how controversial it has proven itself to be. We would never diminish or alter anything that we do to better serve or please anyone else but ourselves, and those who believe in our vision.”
Wherever Polyphia’s vision leads them, even if eventually it’s on a path that moves away from the kind of metal a lot of us here love, it clearly will be one that combines a passion for music and technical proficiency.