Second Empire's Alex and Bret Talks Debut Release and Playing Shows


Metal/symphonic metallers Second Empire have released their debut EP, have plans to play all over the world including some festivals and even new videos and much more! Frontwomen vocalist and keyboards Alex Lindsay Roth and lead guitarist and vocalist Bret Stark discusses these matters and more!


1. Introduce yourself, tell me what you do in Second Empire, and how long the band has been together.

Bret: My name is Bret Stark and I am the lead guitarist for Second Empire.

Alex: My name is Alex Lindsay Roth and I am the lead vocalist and keyboardist for Second Empire.  Bret and I are the only two original members left in the band. We formed in 2011 but the band with its current lineup has been playing together for about a year.


2. Where is the band based out of and what is your music scene like there? Are there any local bands you could recommend?

Bret: The band is based out of Pittsburgh, PA. We come from north, south, and east of the city. Our music scene is versatile.  It encompasses a broad range of genres, but metal is definitely one of the genres at the forefront.  Second Empire loves to connect with and play with great local bands like The Xander Demos Band, Icarus Witch, Chip DiMonick, STARK, Klaymore, and Burden My Surrender.

3. Tell us the brief history of your band.

Alex: It all began with Nightwish's End of An Era Live.  Bret and our former bassist watched it for the first time and were awestruck by what they saw. They both had previously been in bands, but they wondered--where was that extra "something" that would distinguish them from any other young band?  That's when the sparks started to fly. What if they were to start a female fronted band?  That would certainly demand attention.  The former bassist remembered me from my performance of Evanescence's Bring Me to Life at a concert a year earlier and mentioned me to Bret. Both of them knew a drummer and we set up a time to meet. I was given the song Faster by Within Temptation to learn, and there was an immediate chemistry within the room. Everything's progressed since then and we've gone through a number of lineup changes, but that chemistry has remained and grown with time.

4. How did you guys come up with your band name?

Alex: I was inspired by a trip to Paris.  Much of the architecture remains from the rebuilding of Paris during the Second Empire by Napoleon III.  The buildings are beautiful and ornate, which happens to describe our music perfectly.  The name has a sort of epic, grandiose feel.

5. What type of band are you?

We are a symphonic metal band, but we avoid trying to exactly "define" our genre. The great thing about symphonic metal is that it's a combination of other genres, with vocal lines often influenced by pop or opera, symphonic elements, and heavy guitars.  We tend to combine all of these in our original music because we have musical backgrounds in several different genres.

6. What are your songs about? (What specific themes do they cover?)

Love is a predominant theme in our music, but we also explore death, religion, drugs, sex, insanity, and victory.  Birth of the Empire, for example, was created from my vision of an ice queen looking out over the land she has conquered and basking in the glory of it all. Paradox Nightmare was inspired by a book called "Beneath the Meth Moon" and tells the story of a girl who escape from a life of drug addiction but eventually falls to temptation within her own dream.

7. Do you write your own songs? (Discuss the songwriting process in detail.)

We do write and produce our own songs. Our songwriting process usually begins with an unfinished idea from either me or Bret. I usually bring lyrics,  melodies, or keyboard riffs while he brings guitar parts and fragments of instrumentals. We complement each other very well as songwriting partners. The song becomes fully formed with our combined input, and then we take to orchestrating and "filling out" the song.  Then, the drummer and bassist add their ideas and write their own parts to finish the song. Some songs take longer than others to complete, but we never consider a song done until each and every band member is happy with the final product.

8. Who are your musical influences?

Our musical influences include Nightwish, Within Temptation, Delain, In This Moment, Lacuna Coil, and Epica. Our influences stretch beyond female fronted metal as well.  Bret, for example, has recently fallen in love with the band Periphery, and the influence has already appeared in our new music.

9. Do you guys have any new music videos in the works?

Bret: We do not have any new music videos as of now, but we are in the process of planning one. Our music video for the Valley Beneath was done in 2012 by filmmaker Dan Handley.

10. How does it feel to have released your debut EP?

Alex:  As a musician, there is almost no feeling that can compare to holding the CD I poured my heart into for months and months.  I felt extremely proud and relieved when it was finally done and ready to distribute.  It's always exciting to lay the CDs out on our merch table at shows and watch people lining up to buy them after our shows.  I felt honored when one of our fans requested a signed EP sent to him in Canada.  Having our songs stored on a computer is completely different from having a tangible CD--it's something we can sell, send to reviewers, sign, and promote.  We have written a number of original songs since the debut EP was released, and we plan to have a completed album soon.

11. Is there any story or concept behind the self-titled title?

Bret: We decided to keep it simple with the title of the EP.  We figured that we wanted our name and logo to be recognized, so the cover of the EP clearly shows both.

12. Who produced this EP and what was it like working with them?

Alex: This EP was produced by Christopher Lee Simmonds. Working with Christopher was a learning experience for all of us. There is no doubt he had a major positive influence on the band's development. He was great to work with and he pushed us beyond our boundaries. That's what i liked most about him.

13. Who did the cover art for the EP and how much input did you have on it?

Bret: Our tech designer designed the cover art for our EP.  We always make sure we have a chance to voice our opinions regarding everything affecting the image of the band, so we worked closely with him.

14. Select two songs from it, and what inspired the lyrics.

The song on our EP with the least evident meaning would have to be Everlasting, the opening track.  The lyrics are actually much more sick and twisted than they initially seem.  The song is about a girl who walks into a crowded room in disguise, searching for her enemy. She seduces him, but when they are alone together in her bedroom, she reveals her identity and kills him while he is turned away in disgust.  That is the meaning of the chorus: "Now, with your back turned 'round, I got you right where I want you/ Now, with your head turned down, you take one last deep breath in/ Let me know that you mean it." Another song that means a lot to me in particular is Hold Me ('Til We're Both Dead). The lyrics were inspired by someone I used to know, but who abruptly left me without a word. I concentrated all of my emotions from losing him into the song.

15. Where are you in the process of a full-length release?

Bret: We are about 3/4 of the way through a completed album. Our sound has changed since the EP.  We hope to really turn some heads with this album. It’s heavier, tighter, and more symphonic than our EP.  We are chomping at the bit to release this one.

16. What are the upcoming plans for playing shows and touring?

Alex: We have a huge event coming up on March 1st, 2014. It is Female Voices of Metal Fest II in Pittsburgh at Mr. Smalls Theatre, one of the best venues in the city. We try to play shows at lease two times a month, but this varies with the opportunities available to us.  We also make a point to play "events," not just "gigs."  We want to constantly excite our fans with something new and different to see every time we play.  Our show schedule is on our website, www.secondempireband.com.

17. What can the fans expect to see from you in the future?

Alex: We have big plans for the future.  Our fans can expect to see us playing in Europe alongside big names in symphonic metal very soon.  It is one of our goals to play Wacken in Germany as well as the Metal Female Voices Fest in Belgium.  We love playing here in the United States, but we'd love to show the rest of the world what we've got.  In the short term, we will be releasing full-length album, and we are working on plans for a new music video.

18. Anything else you'd like to say or want to add?

Alex: Yes...internet radio has played a huge role in Second Empire's success to date.  Our home, where we live and play, is www.insanerealmradio.com.  We became heavily involved with the station after being chosen as May 2013 Band of the Month for the Women of Metal Show with host Jayson Shell.  We have also been involved with www.aiiradio.net, a wonderful station with a show for all female-fronted metal based in England with host Brian Dade.  The entire schedule for the internet stations that play us throughout the week is on our website,www.secondempireband.com.  We love to meet new people in the chat rooms!  We love  to hear from our fans in general.  We can be reached through our Facebook page, the Contact tab on our website, and our ReverbNation page.

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