Interview With ‘Jason Todd’ Of ‘Spades And Blades’


SAB_logoHailing from Los Angeles, California comes Spades And Blades a 5 headed progressive metalcore / deathcore band which was formed in 2006. The band is currently working on their new album “The End Is Near”. Lets have a chat with vocalist Jason and the other bandmembers of Spades And Blades.

TMR: Hey guys how are things going there in California ?

Good! The summer has been pretty hot but we’ve been getting a lot accomplished too.

TMR:Tell us the brief history of ‘Spades and Blades’.

SAB formed in 2006 by founding members Jason, Justin, and Josiah. We had been playing as a Street Punk band called The Havoc since 2001, but decided to change our name and sound to persue a career in the metal community. We released our debut album in the winter of 2010 and shortly thereafter, we parted ways with drummer and bassist. Being replaced by TJ Stiles on Drums and Garrett Rizzi on bass, our current lineup was finalized. In October 2012 we released the first single off our upcoming album “The End Is Near”, entitled “Isolation.” Estimated release is September 2013. The music video for “Isolation” can be  seen below.

TMR: Will you Introduce yourself and the current line-up please [name and instrument]

Jason Todd – Vocals, Justin Bullock – Guitar & Vocals, Josiah Wiswell – Guitar, Garrett Rizzi – Bass & Vocals, TJ Stiles – Drums

TMR: Are you guys full time musicians ? If not what kind of job or school do you do beside the band ?

No. Unfortunately, we’ haven’t reached full time status yet. Everyone in the band works or has their own business to pay the bills.

Jason Todd – Owner of Instaglam Photo Booth and Top Notch Productions.
Justin Bullock – Owner of Dead and Buried – Printing and Design
Josiah Wiswell – Estimator at Alchemy Body Shop, Owner of Live Wire Recording Studio
Garrett Rizzi – Office Administration at Active Realty
TJ Stiles – Owner of TJ Brutal Customs – Motorcycle Customization

TMR: What is your musical background ? [for everyone personal]

SAB-Band.2013Jason Todd – Began singing and performing in pre-school. Started learning to play guitar at age 12 and formed my first band at age 13. Played guitar and bass while performing vocals in multiple bands throughout middle school and high school. Moved to California in 2001 to form The Havoc. Played bass and vocals in The Havoc until 2006 and also played bass for Officer Negative multiple times throughout this time. Formed SAB in 2006 as lead vocalist.
Justin Bullock – Began singing in school and choir in jr. high. Started playing bass at age 13 and formed first band No Purchase Necessary in 1997. Disbanded in 2001 before forming The Havoc. Played guitar and sang in The Havoc until 2006 and also played guitar for Officer Negative multiple times throughout this time. Formed SAB in 2006 as Guitarist.
Josiah Wiswell – Began playing guitar as a young child but persued it seriously at age 13. Formed first punk band, Somos Punkeros in High School before disbanding in 2001. Formed The Havoc in 2001. Played guitar in The Havoc until 2006 and also played guitar for Officer Negative. Formed SAB in 2006 as Lead Guitarist. Garrett Rizzi – Born into a musical family. Learned to play guitar from his Dad in jr. high at age 12. Played lead guitar and vox in various grind and death metal bands in High School. Began playing bass and drums along the way. Joined SAB in 2010.
TJ Stiles – Began playing drums at age 12. Played for a band called A-Town Punks which became Lux. Also played in various punk and hardcore bands in Portland, Oregon during this time. Lux disbanded in 2007. Played for The Dahlmer Party and joined SAB in 2010.

TMR: Why the name ‘Spades and Blades’ ? Is there a story behind it ?

Yes, there’s a story. While we were The Havoc we used to symbols as our logo. The first was a razor blade and the second was a spade. When we decided to change our name, a friend suggested we call it Spades And Blades. We thought it would be a good way to cary over a part of our history into the new project.

TMR: Who writes the music/lyrics in ‘Spades and Blades’ ? … how do you get in the mood for writing music? And which bands/situations have influences you for writing music and lyrics ?

I (Jason) write all of the lyrics. The music is a group effort but Josiah is the primary contributor for full song ideas. We collaborate as a group to bounce ideas off of each other based on what he presents to the band. Justin is not a song writer but an excellent riff writer, so he contributes a lot of those to the songs. TJ comes up with all of the drum parts and we collaborate on different beat ideas. To get in the mood, we prefer writing in a close environment at night in dim lighting. Coffee and Energy Drinks are usually inovovled to help keep us amped.

For lyric writing I prefer to use scripture for inspiration. The current albums concept is based on the book of Revelation. I find it to be a fascinating topic and it forces me to contemplate how the world might end. Which also forces me to consider my own mortality and what I can do with my while I’m here. I think these are important questions for anyone to consider and I hope my lyrics cause others to contemplate the same things.

TMR: How do you describe the music of ‘Spades and Blades’ the best ?

Progressive Metalcore / Deathcore. We like to keep things heavy but still rely on good melody to keep a songs momentum.

TMR: How does ‘Spades and Blades’ stands in life till events in the world, religion and politics and in which proportion stands that till your music and lyrics ?

I’m not sure if I’m interpreting this question correctly, but I’ll do my best to answer it in a manner that, hopefully, will provide you with the insight you’re seeking. As far as religion and politics are concerned, we each have our own opinions on multiple topics within each of those subjects. Religion is something that all of us have experience with. Although our morals and convictions are a large part of what make up our beliefs systems, they belong solely to us. We do not wish to push those beliefs on others. Rather, we hope to share them with those around us, by having a positive and encouraging attitude that is grounded in love. We believe a man once walked the earth and lived his life as the prime example of true love offered the ultimate sacrifice to those he loved, by willingly accepting a punishment he didn’t deserve, and consequently, resulted in his death. Relationships are the substance of, what we believe, all that matters in this life. Religion is a practice that is useless without a relationship with the one we are bonded with by life and death. That man, his life, his death, and his legacy, are the primary source for our inspiration to be a band, to write music, and to write lyrics.

In regards to politics, it’s not a topic we discuss in our music but everyone has their own opinions on it. Like anything in life, there are pros and cons to either side. Republican, Democrat, Libertarian, or anything else…

TMR: For a lot of bands the lyrics are just a accidental circumstance, but for some bands they use them to communicate ! ..can you tell us how that is for ‘Spades and Blades’ ?

It’s definitely a form of communication. Although we have our own personal, spiritual beliefs, we have no interest in forcing them on other people. We want our lyrics to be inspirational and motivational to people in any way they can be, but they certainly have a direct message from our perspective.

TMR: Is there a highlight you will always remember, since the beginning of ‘Spades and Blades’ ?

Too many to list here but a personal favorite is playing House Of Blues – Anaheim for the first time. It’s a great venue and it was PACKED when we played. It felt like we had finally arrived as a serious local band and were being embraced by the fans in the So. Cal. Heavy Music community.

TMR: And the worst thing were ? [if there is one]

The first and second year of SAB were rough in every aspect. We struggled as musicians and song writers. We played a lot of horrible shows at bars in Los Angeles and it was very draining physicially, mentally, and emotionally. It just felt like we were being beat up every time we played.

TMR: What is your favorite album top 5 of all times ? [for everyone personal]

Jason Todd:
1. AC/DC – Back in Black
2. Guns N’ Roses – Appetite for Destruction
3. Metallica – Master of Puppets
4. Motley Crue – Dr. Feelgood
5. Defiance – No Future, No Hope

Justin Bullock:
1. Metallica – The Black Album
2. Pantera – The Great Southern Trendkill
3. Black Sabbath – Paranoid
4. Motley Crue – Dr. Feelgood
5. Motorhead – Ace of Spades

Josiah Wiswell:
1. At The Gates – Slaughter of the Soul
2. Guns N’ Roses – Appetite for Destruction
3. The Unseen – The Anger and the Truth
4. Weezer – The Blue Album
5. Van Halen – 1

Garrett Rizzi:
1. Zao – Where Fire and Blood Bring Rest
2. At The Gates – Slaughter of the Soul
3. Decapitated – Organic Hollucinations
4. The Deer Hunter – Act 2
5. Meshuggah – Obzen

TJ Stiles:
1. Zao – Self Titled
2. Strongarm – The Advent of a Miracle
3. A Perfect Circle – Mer De Noms
4. Living Sacrifice – The Hammering Process
5. Starflyer 59 – The Fashion Focus

TMR: What makes you laugh? [for everyone personal]

Jason Todd: Lots of things but anything related to pranks.
Justin Bullock: My Dad.
Josiah Wiswell: Farts.
Garrett Rizzi: Little Kids.
TJ Stiles: Smally furry animals running into things on YouTube.

TMR: How do you promote your band and shows ?

The internet and local shows primarily.

TMR: How do you prepare for a show? [for everyone personal]

Jason Todd: Lots of water and light food. Primarily fruit and vegetables.
Justin Bullock: Prayer.
Josiah Wiswell: Shower and Comb my hair.
Garrett Rizzi: Stretch. Workout.
TJ Stiles: In N Out Burger. Buy new sticks.

TMR: Describe your show, visual and musically ? And tell us about your next shows and why we should be there.

Our live show is highly energetic and visually intriguing by the use of stage banners and some props that we use from time to time. Musically, it’s very loud and violent, but still has melodic sensibility. At times you’ll want to scream along and others you’ll be singing along. There’s generally one part in every song where you’re going to either bang your head, pound your fist, or jump up and down to the beat. You should be there because our live show has helped us gain a good reputation as a strong local band in the So. Cal. Market. We’re proud of it and we’re always working on improving it so we can hit the road, and eventually take this thing to much larger stages and audiences.

TMR: Name some of your favorite bands to play with live [past and future] and tell us why ?

We’ve played with a lot of other locals who have come and gone over the years. Some of our favorites have been Mirror of Dead Faces, Phinehas, Tolerance of Pain, Kaustik, Ruach, Light Up The Eyes, Dayseeker, Etc. There’s a lot of really talented bands in So. Cal. And we’re happy to share the stage with any of them, any chance we get. There are a TON of bands we’d be stoked to play with in the future. Too many to list really, but if they’re playing something similar to us to large crowds and touring, we’d love to play with them. We’re actually playing with Impending Doom this week (July 21st) and we’re really stoked to be sharing the stage with them for the first time.

TMR: What is the dumbest question you have ever been asked? [for everyone personal]

Jason Todd: Do you have any Drugs? (Asked by the lead singer of a very well known metal band right after I had praised him for his accomplishments and told him his music had been very inspirational to me as a lead singer.)
Justin Bullock: Does your throat hurt after you sing like that?
Josiah Wiswell: How do you get your pants so tight?
Garrett Rizzi: Why does the smallest guy in the band have the biggest amp?
TJ Stiles: I thought drumming was easy…it’s not easy?

TMR: Are you visiting many gigs and what do you listen to these days? [for everyone personal]

Jason Todd: No, but I really like the new Bring Me The Horizon record. I like a lot of new music, but that one is what I’ve been pumping lately.
Justin Bullock: Yes, Meshuggah has been the best I’ve seen lately. I’ve been listening to Attila, Impending Doom, Sleeping With Sirens, and The Color Morale.
Josiah Wiswell: No, but I’ve been listening to Born of Osiris, Attack Attack, A Plea for Purging, and a lot of Reggae and Dub Step.
Garrett Rizzi: Yes, various shows. I’ve been listening to a lot of electronic music like Kaskade and Tiesto, but still have a heart for heavy music like A Plea for Purging, Decapitated, and Nile.
TJ Stiles: Yes, a couple of shows a month. Anything from punk to bluegrass. I’ve been listening to a
lot of Murder by Death, The Algorithm, Devil Makes Three, and William Fitzsimmons.

TMR: What’s your outlook on the record industry today?

It’s tough. A mess really. A lot of labels have folded or have stopped releasing most, if not all, physical content. The internet has changed almost EVERYTHING about the record industry in the last decade or so, and I think it’s been a difficult transition for labels and artists, alike. It’s almost like both parties were hit by a tornado and each landed in two totally foreign places. Then, once we found each other, we’ve been trying to find a way to work together that makes sense for everyone. Navigating through it presents a lot of obstacles and your forced to ask a lot questions that no longer have a clear cut answer like they did before everything became digital. Not to mention, there are so many bands that the market has become overly saturated. It makes it very difficult to stand out in this market when there is so much competition. For us, we’ve tried to remain as D.I.Y. as possible so that when the time comes for us to sign and tour, we’ll have all bases covered without having to rely on the label too much.

The end is near _ coverTMR: What can you tell us about the upcoming album ‘The End Is Near’ [such as the recording proces, the songs, record label, who did the artwork etc ?]

It’s been almost 2 years in the making at this point. We’re getting really close to completing it though, and we’re really excited about how well it’s turning out. We’ve recorded several songs and we ALWAYS end up changing the final versions from the original ideas they started out as. We have our own recording studio, so we spend a lot of time tweaking the songs until we feel they’re just right.

The album is based on The Book of Revelation and John of Patmos’ perspective/spiritual journey while being isolated there, along with our own interpretation of how he was feeling and how his message should be communicated to our audience. There are a lot of lyrical messages that serve as
breakdown chants like “You will know The End Is Near when Hell on Earth is Here”, or “We were meant to live divine, We were meant to live to die”, and “You’ll need more than a Crucifix to save you from 666.”

There’s no record label yet, but we suspect someone will have enough interest in the album to release it. If not, we’ll release it independently and keep pushing it until we get a label’s attention. We believe that day is coming. It’s just a matter of time and we CAN’T break up before then. Hahahahaha!

The artwork has been a collaborative process between Jason and a team of people who have been supporting our efforts over the years. He provides ideas to them and works with them on the designs before they are finalized and he presents them to the rest of the band. As our talents have grown, so have the the talents of those helping us. The album art, the logo, the merch. designs, the music videos, etc. are all a reflection of their efforts. We couldn’t be happier to have such a great group of people helping us move this album/band forward. The people to thank are: Noah Batterson: Graphic/Merch. Design, Tom Clark: Logo Design, Chad Ashton: Video Director, Steve McClory: Photographer.

TMR: What are your plans for the near future ?

Finish the album. Secure management and a label. Start touring to promote the record. Climb the ladder and establish our name in the heavy music community.

TMR: What advice would you give to fellow bands?

Don’t persue this if you’re not serious about it. It’s fine when your a teenager to have a band for fun, but if you’re not serious about it, don’t give your heart to it. It’s very difficult to work a full time job, or go to school, or start a family, and give a band the attention it really deserves to be something great. You’re not going to “make it” in a year, or two. It’s a long haul and if your not commited to it, you’re just wasting your time. If you really are in it to make something out of yourself in the music world, DON’T give up! You’ll question if it’s all really worth it at times but around that time something always happens that reminds you of why you love doing it in the first place and pushes you forward.

TMR: Guys thanks for your time and the interview, we wish ‘Spades and Blades’ all the best … Is there anything you wanna say at last ? [any final statement ?]

Thanks for the opportunity and your kind words. We’re very grateful that you’ve discovered us and developed enough of an interest in what we’re doing to request an interview. We want to thank all of our friends, families, and fans for supporting us. You guys are why we keep pushing the mountain forward and we sincerely hope that we’ll grow this thing to the point where it’s a well known name in the heavy music community and you can say you helped us make it happen. If you’ve never heard of us before, please visit us at:

We hope to release “The End Is Near” soon, so keep your eyes open and prepare your ears for the violence we will bring. Much love and respect to the bands and labels who keep heavy music alive. You’re the source for our musical inpsiration and we’ll be doing all that we can to make that community proud.

Jason Todd
Spades And Blades

Band members:
Jason Todd – Vocals
Josiah Wiswell- Guitar
Justin Bullock – Guitar/Vocals
Garrett Rizzi – Bass
Tommy Jean Stiles -Drums

Weblinks: Facebook / Website / Twitter

Video below “Isolation”

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