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ROCKET Interviews Andy Dracons Giardina Of TOTAL ECLIPSE


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American metal act TOTAL ECLIPSE are led by vocalist Andy Dracons Giardina, formerly of PANDEMIC, and now having gone through lineup changes after several past releases, TOTAL ECLIPSE has unleashed new music in 2013 and is prepared to make their biggest mark yet on the underground of of heavy metal.

The Metal Den’s Randy “Rocket” Cody recently conducted an interview with Andy Dracons Giardina Of TOTAL ECLIPSE for his loyal army of Den Headz worldwide.

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ROCKET: How has life been treating you?

ANDY: Life’s been a little hectic lately what with the sad state of Metal here in the San Francisco Bay Area currently, and as you know the recent passing of one of my cats – she died just the other day on June 1st- Who for 17 fantastic years was a major influence in my life and on Total Eclipse since the band started in 1999 – that said, she is inseparably linked to everything the band has done in fact( not to mention that she was with me every time I worked on music or lyrics or sang my guts out practicing my vocals in my room). Your readers may not be’ interested in hearing about this (exception made for animal lovers like you and I) but the fact remains that she was the driving force and main inspiration that gave me the strength to keep going in this sad music biz, and accomplish what I needed to get done. So, she deserves a few words of mention here, since she was a magical cat and my animal spirit guide, and the reason the band is still here is due to her- she was laid to rest with all due honors, in ceremonial attire- so to speak. I buried her in the garden in my front Yard where she loved to be’ among the flowers and birds.


ROCKET: Well, I am very sorry to hear about your loss, brother. Cats rock the world, man! Just ask Peter Criss! Let’s talk about the current lineup for TOTAL ECLIPSE.. can you please tell us who are the current members of the band?

ANDY: I am proud to say that I finally found two of the most reliable professional musicians to fill in on bass and drums: Derek Gorman and Derik Ziperle, respectively – not only are they exceptionally skilled both in technicality and song writing, as well as being highly advanced on a spiritual and intellectual level, but they are also great fans of Total Eclipse and all our past releases, and great friends who can be’ trusted no matter what. It took me 2 yrs to find them after getting replies, corresponding with and auditioning God knows how many self-proclaimed musicians (I swear there’s been so many that their faces have become a blur almost lol) who wasted my – and others’ time for weeks or moths at a time – even allowing them to write material even tho I already had some riff and song ideas recorded, went out of my way and bent every which way to accomodate their every whim, only to be’ let down again and again because they were lying and stalling due to the fact that they weren’t as technically skilled to be’ able to play the old material or handle prog/Thrash/power Metal as they professed to be’ when answering to the musicians wanted ad.

Some of them would audition, come to a few practices, waste our time- mine and whoever I had found at the time be’ it drummer or guitarist or bassist that stuck around for awhile- and then leave or find a way to be’ kicked out just so they could do self promotion and then claim to have been an active member of the band. This is how the process went, and the search- now that I have a stable bassist and drummer Who have proved themselves and have stuck with me thru thick and thin-still continues unabated until we find a reliable guitarist/s that can bring the process of reformation to completion. Since I never give up, and neither do the boys, it will happen when God deems it right- no use banging your head against a wall that isn’t ready to open yet. Abracadabra and open Sesame and all that is fine, but the time must be’ right and one must always pay attention to the omens, and to favorable or otherwise stellar/planetary alignments, bad moons, and the like. And the way the world is going there’s certainly a lot more negativity around than ever before I’ll tell you that.

Since all that matters is the message, not the messenger, it is imperative that the entity known as Total Eclipse continues to fight and carry on the message: there is always a light inside the darkness, and viceversa; one must subdue his dark side, tame it and stabilize it, reversing its polarity so that it is Made subservient to the light, without taking away the former’s essence: even the darkness has a role to play and the main teaching of every spiritual school oriented towards the right hand path- be’ it taoism, Buddhism. Zoroastrianism, true Gnosticism and gnostic Christianity, the ancient mystery schools of Greco-Roman Egypt (and Babylon before the fall)and many others – is to unite the two polar opposites into a common stream. This is, in effect, the ultimate aim of Alchemy- The Magnum Opus par excellence – as practiced in its various forms and doctrinal attributes. Did you know that human beings can be compared to living magnets? I find that fascinating and very insightful for initiates and adepts alike- but that is all I can say about it; it is a great mystery.

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ROCKET: Let’s discuss the new CD by TOTAL ECLIPSE. What is the name of it and where can fans pickup a copy?

ANDY: The new album is called Kukulcan, in homage to the Supreme God of light of the Mayans, known under different names by various cultures -“Quetzalcoatl” among the Aztecs and “Viracocha” among the Incas, and possibly Chutulainn among the Celts- also incarnated in historical figures like the Mayan king Pacal and others. Despite the attempts by later generations of Mayans to erroneously portray him as a Blood god requiring sacrifices, his ancient pre-Mayan/Incan/Aztec origins which go back at least to the
Olmec, Toltec and Zapotec cultures suggest that he was known as the God of light and creator of all- also due to the similarities in the legends regarding his life and accomplishments given by the various cultures- he was a great civilizer who came down in his flying feathered serpent to live among men and teach them the ways of civilization and how to live in peace. When his attempts served to no avail, Kukulcan departed in his plumed serpent, saddened by the violence and sins of men, but promising that one day he would return- the same story applies to Quetzalcoatl and Viracocha in particular, Who is often depicted as a Sun god (much like Jesus) in temples and ziggurats -with a teardrop in his eye; to signify the sadness and regret that the god felt for the sins of humanity upon departing after seeing that men would not turn from their war-like ways( only difference being that he left walking away on the ocean waves). Of course the irony of fate is that when the Spanish Conquistador Herman Cortes arrived to the shores of the new world he was mistakenly identified as Quetzalcoatl/Viracocha/Kukulcan- the fact in itself is ironic because that event effectively signaled the end of their civilizations.

It makes u wonder however how it is possible that Cortez landed on exactly the same date and day as was predicted by the Mayan astronomer priests… the day they had predicted Kukulcan would return, that is. The new album is currently on sale digitally on cdbaby, amazon, iTunes, spotify, etc. along with our other past releases: “Guardians of Metal” -EP (indie, 1999/2000), the Lp “Ashes of Eden” (LMP, 2002/03), and “Spellcaster” -Lp (Indie, 2008/09)- I will also be’ putting up on digital sale the “Infecting the World” Lp from PANDEMIC- the side project I was involved in from 2006-2007- since so many digital portals have been selling it without autorization I figure its my right to do so too lol. I am about to press a few physical cds of the new “Kukulcan” LP hopefully it should be’ done by the time this interview goes live.

ROCKET: How has the reaction been so far from your fans?

ANDY: Right now we’re in the top forty in the Metal charts on reverbnation (San Fancisco area)- so that’s good news since reverbnation is really pickin up as you mentioned to me on the phone (finally they got their act together lol)- I uploaded a whole bunch of songs along with two from the Kukulcan Lp and that certainly helped to spread the word. The album has only been live digitally since March so I know it takes at least a couple mths to get the word around and to be’ distributed to all the major digital portals- when the cds are pressed I’ll send them to all my media contacts as i know that reviewers prefer to have the physical product in their hands- at least it shows the band has Made the effort of pressing cds and mailing the promo package rather than sendin epks or mp3s- the critics appreciate that obviously as i was told by some of my contacts recently- one of them, Kit from metalcdratings.com ( who did an excellent review of Spellcaster) heard some of the new songs i sent him and he digs the new material so thats cool, Ill be’ sending him a cd when they’re done. Other than that its probably a lil too early to tell what the response will be as yet. Still, on myspace the new songs from Kukulcan that I uploaded have gotten tens of thousands of hits already ( not to mention the rough demo mix of two of them which were uploaded 2 yrs ago and which got hundreds of thousands of hits, modestly lol), so I expect things to be’ looking good though it’s all up to God in the end to decide.

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ROCKET: Who produced the CD and where was it recorded?

ANDY: The album was recorded and the first mixing done by Yosh Haraguchi at Faultline Studios in SF, CA, from 2009-2010, with additional recordings done by yours truly at Dracons Cave Studios, SF, 2009,2010; additional mixing by Pete Deutscher (drummer for the Megadeth cover band Five Magicks) at Potrero Post Studios, SF, in 2011. The work was then transferred to John Winters in Seattle, Washington ( of “Vengince” and “I Declare War” fame and also former guitar tech for Jeff Loomis, Nevermore and Sanctuary). He worked on the mixing from 2011-2012 for a good year almost; I supervised all the recordings and mixings since the beginning, and produced the album myself along with some valuable help from Winters; then due to certain circumstances beyond control I had to take it upon myself to remix it and finally master it all by myself at my home studio in SF in December 2012- the final mastering was really completed on December 30th, 2012, at 10.48 pm.

ROCKET: How long did it take to record from start to finish?

ANDY: The recording process per se began in March 2009 and lasted about a good 8 mths i would say, the mixing was really completed by me in December 2012 along with the mastering within the course of a month. So the whole process took about 3 years and 9 months, my God. Wanna get something done right, you gotta do it yourself in the end huh? I was told by a lot of ppl that when i remixed it and mastered it it sounded 10 x better than the previous mixes so that gave me some comfort.

ROCKET: How did the songwriting process work with the new songs?

ANDY: As you know I wrote all the songs and lyrics, and play all the instruments and vocals ( except for drums which were handled magnificently by Brian Davy), so it became really hard to be’ objective since I also had to supervise all the aspects in the production, telling the engineers what to do, fix and how I wanted the sound to be. Im really surprised i emerged sanely from this massive opus because I tell you in all modesty lesser men would have crumbled lol- I know i had a few nervous breakdowns no doubt about that- so it was a foolhardy endeavor let’s put it that way but as you know i never give up. Thats a curse sometimes. But I think it turned out very good in the end and I’m very proud of it. I dig the music and I really think these are probably the best lyrics i ever wrote, to tell u the truth- as always they were mediated stream of consciousness from a higher power, I am just a channel of course.

ROCKET: How do you compare the new music to your older stuff?

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ANDY: Some people may disagree but I think it’s a natural evolution in style compared to our other releases; I know some may be disappointed because it was recorded without the Cameron brothers. Truth is, I never really wanted to pick up the guitar again, I just wanted to sing as in the first line up; with the drummer Brian in 2008 we searched endlessly for guitarists to join the new line up but we couldnt find anyone except flakes, even Erik Cameron the original TE guitarist came in and auditioned after saying he would love to come back into the fold and that he dug the new songs, then he let us down, disappearing into the shadows. In the end I said screw it Brian, I’ll pick up the guitar again and start writing songs – I had a couple ideas back then for songs but really wrote all the songs within 4-5 mths, then we practiced for a few months and in March 2009 went in to start recording. We went on a 2 week North American tour as main support to Imagika in July/August 2010 (together with a session bassist, Gary Prior) before the first mixing was even complete. The rest you know the story. It is still a technical album with elements of prog, Thrash, speed Metal, power Metal and hard/ grindcore and i would say it is somewhere between Megadeth, early WASP, early Metallica, Dio, Iron Maiden, Pantera, Down, Superjoint Ritual, Cradle of Filth, Behemoth, and many more- but the sound is original so I would never be’ able to pinpoint the specific genre. It certainly doesn’t sound like any other band. I leave it to the listener to be’ the judge in this, and I do believe that real metalheads and riverdogs will understand what its about and that they will totally dig it (note that I said “real” metalheads who understand Metal in all its diverse genres).

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ROCKET: I understand you also plan to release a TOTAL ECLIPSE Live CD, correct? What can you tell us about that? When is it coming out?

ANDY: Yes, it’s a collection of live covers recorded with the first line-up at various venues in CA over the years. We would always include a couple of famous covers in our set list because we enjoyed playing them and because the fans loved it. It is a tribute to all the bands we grew up with as fans and as musicians, and it was something I promised to the fans in the liner notes of our 2nd Lp “Spellcaster”, Ialways live up to my word even if it takes forever and no matter how many the obstacles to overcome. It is a matter of honor and principle as well as respect. I transferred them to digital from analog some time ago, mixed them the best I could, and need some help now adjusting the frequencies and the general volume of the mix. I expect it should be done within the next 3 months or so.

ROCKET: There’s been a lot of great metal albums released this year so far. Do you have any personal favorites?

ANDY: I’ve been so totally out of the scene for so long it’s just ridiculous. Aside from working on finishing the album, corresponding with potential candidates ( guitarists ) to refill the line-up who like wasting people’s time, doing promotion for the band, my day job, and talking to the drummer and bassist to figure out what we’re supposed to do to find a guitarist who’s skilled enough to handle the TE material, life’s been pretty hectic. All I know is that Marylin Manson put out a new album which I haven’t had a chance to hear yet, and that Jeff Hanneman died (somebody else too but I don’t remember who there’s been so many since DIO passed away). I’ve been listening to some old school Metal and some 17th/18th/19th Century classical music to calm my nerves. Oh yes I’m still a huge fan of modern composers like Hans Zimmerman, Trevor Jones, John Williams, Ennnio Morricone, Vangelis and many more.

ROCKET: Is TOTAL ECLIPSE working on any new songs yet?

ANDY: Yes. I have a lot of song riff ideas recorded for the band to work with as soon as we find a guitarist, Derek the bass player has some ideas too- we even jammed to them with some guitarists who auditioned and wasted our time for weeks or mths on end before exiting the building. A real pity but some of them were just into it for self-promotion purposes and tried to destroy the band. Some new songs to which auditionees had contributed had to be scrapped. You must understand this process has been going on for a few yrs now but me and the boyz are still keeping the faith. People dont know this, but I have a full album of material that I wrote w/ the original guitarist Erik Cameron in 2005 I believe when he got back in touch w/ me and were thinking of reforming the band. Then he flaked out. Sad thing is noone will ever hear it. Not to mention the songs I collaborated on w/ other guitarists who never made the line-up.

ROCKET: What are some of the upcoming TOTAL ECLIPSE shows in America we need to watch out for?

ANDY: Unfortunately until we find a guitarist nothing can be done at the moment; we’ve been receiving many offers for Tours at home and abroad over the yrs and since I signed up with my management in 2009 , but you know what I had to go thru since the trials of the 2nd line-up, the album and everything else and everything is explained above lol. What matters is that Derek and Dave have already learned like 10 TE songs from the past TE albums, and they’re itching to get back on that stage, as I am, but we’re holding strong to our faith here. If any fan out there with a heart of Metal would like to try out for the position as guitarist, please contact me directly at my e:mail: [email protected], or thru the following Band Websites: , www.reverbnation.com/totaleclipse2012 Youtube Official Band Page: http://www.youtube.com/redskies001 www.myspace.com/teclipse114 (we use myspace mainly for band promotion purposes- the others are the best sites to reach us thru)

ROCKET: What is the best way a fan can stay in touch with your band and interact with all the members? Is it your website, or Facebook?

ANDY: Right now preferably thru the following: www.reverbnation.com/totaleclipse2012 and
Youtube Official Band Page: http://www.youtube.com/redskies001 Myspace: http://www.myspace.com/teclipse114
(where you can check out blog updates and reviews) Facebook has screwed us over and keeps merging our new profile with the [pages of other bands w/ the same name, so that’ll have to wait. Our cdbaby page with all the releases is http://www.cdbaby.com/artist/totaleclipse1

ROCKET: Thanks for rocking this out with me, brother! Best of luck with your music in 2013 and beyond. Any last words for your fans?

ANDY: What else is there to say but that the state of United METAL is in dire straits; the record labels and the critics who don’t know what they’re writing about rule the media; everything is categorized and sub-categorized , no one even knows whats out there anymore because there is so much out there and its hard to find what you want. I suggest metal bands return to the roots and find what was lost, really. The term “metal” means many things nowadays, but that doesn’t excuse the loss of originality. If bands are content copying the styles of other bands and want to become clones of famous bands, that’s their deal and go ahead do as you wish: sell out, become new emo/screamo nu whatever; if you want to cater to 14-16 year-old fans who have no idea who Iron Maiden, Led Zeoppelin, Judas Priest, DIO, or Black Sabbath are, go ahead be my guest, but do not for a moment think that you have nothing to do with it and that you havent brought metal down to the state it’s at.. Only understand that what is stale breeds what is stale. The metal underground has been divided, and sporadically disgregated because bands have forgotten that what is needed most is “song-writing” skills. Don’t try to fit into a niche but emerge to world-wide recognition. Metal is and always will be METAL, to people who know the ART when they hear it and recognize it- whether that means prog, power, death, black, grind, hard rock, hardcore, whatever. So, keep the faith, keep your word, and uphold your honor.

http://www.reverbnation.com/totaleclipse

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