News, Reviews & Interviews



Urizen – Interview with Thomas Drinnen

Posted May 9, 2016 by JJ Ulizio in Interviews

urizen-001Urizen Interview

with Thomas Drinnen  of Urizen

By: JJ Ulizio
Photos by Elena D’Agostino & Andrew James Bastion

Before their set at Pittsburgh’s Altar Bar on 04/28/16 I had the pleasure of sitting down with Thomas Drinnen, lead vocalist, guitarist and brain behind Urizen out of Fort Worth Texas. This band is one of the more unique bands I’ve had the pleasure of seeing and interviewing. Not just from a musical standpoint but from a stage show one as well. Once I talked to Thomas and he explained who all his influences were and then I saw them live, it was plain to see that he wears said influences on his sleeve, or more like a tattoo rather than being written on his sleeve. I dubbed it nerd metal for a lack of finding one of the many subgenres to fit it into. The music is well written, expertly performed, and the stage show is reminiscent of early 90s video game boss fights with robots, monsters, and a great sense of humor. I highly recommend anyone, especially those who identify as nerds pick up an album and see them live. You will not be disappointed.

Also don’t forget to check out their GoFundMe page to donate some cash for the medical bills of their ailing bassist Rustin Luther.

urizen-002The first thing I’d like to know is how did you guys first come together?
Well… I guess you’re talking to a very bizarre iteration of this band. We have been switching members a lot, for various reasons and due to various ordeals that have occurred. I’ve been playing in this band since it started around 10 years ago. In that time, things got shuffled around and reorganized. Now we have a keyboardist…sometimes. There are two main guys playing here tonight, myself and our drummer Nolan.

About a year or so ago our former drummer kind of abandoned ship on us right before a month-long tour. Nolan managed to step in with about a week’s notice, learned all the songs and proceeded to go on that tour with us and Psychostick. He’s been rocking with us ever since.
Also joining us is Sam, bass player extraordinaire. Sam is here for much more unfortunate reasons. I would like to take this time to put some of this information out there. Earlier in this tour, our regular bass player Rustin Luther started acting bizarre when we were in New Orleans. To make a long story short, we took him to the hospital. They ended up admitting him and said that he had an anomaly in his brain. Then a week or so later they diagnosed him with a Glioma on his brain stem that is cancerous and inoperable.

So that is why Sam is out here with us. I do bring it up because if anybody is reading this and they want to help support Rustin in this, there is a GoFundMe. So if you find it in your heart to help him out, he is going to need all the help he can get.

That’s the line-up tonight. We are here and excited to play in Pittsburgh at The Altar Bar for the first time.

urizen-004The way I even discovered your band was that Dethlehem, one of the openers tonight had posted a link about Rustin and the GoFundMe. So I was checking it out and threw in a few bucks.
Oh Thank you, appreciate it.

Your welcome. I made sure the powers that be at Empire Extreme posted it on our website. Then once I checked out your music it… it… was like nothing I had ever heard before. When I listening the first thing I thought was a metal Devo.
Devo is one of my favorite bands, so that is a very great compliment.

A lot of people don’t realize they have a lot more than “Whip it”.
Oh yeah. I didn’t get into them until later in life, because I didn’t know of anything else. Once I went down that rabbit hole, I was hooked. I am a gigantic Devo fan. That is definitely a prevalent influence in or music.

When you first started Urizen was this a planned out sound or did you start laying out riffs and this is how it blossomed out?
For me, when I try to write music and further ideas, I try to give myself as few limitations as possible. As far as the kind of sound we ended up with, it is due to what I was inspired by. I don’t want to say at the time, but whatever is doing it for me at the time. Nothing is off limits.

Our first album is really different than our second, and that is different than our third, which hopefully be out later this year. The things that really influenced me were the music I got into when I was younger. It was more straight forward stuff like Metallica, Guns N Roses and then I was extremely influenced by Norwegian black metal, which was my one of my favorites. Also I never discounted films scores that I really liked. Scores like The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly and Conan the Barbarian.  Then there is video game music like Capcon stuff from the NES days, obviously, Megaman, all the Konami stuff, and Super Metroid, lots of that will get in there as well.

urizen-003I guess it’s a free for all, but it helps give us a unique collection of things I find interesting.

So you would you say nerd metal is a safe name for it.
Yeah, at this point. Our definition as a band is getting harder and harder to nail down. If you look at what my influences are, then it makes perfect sense. Along with our stage show, people have said it was like watching a live action video game. So yeah, nerd metal, nerd rock, or art rock, whatever you want to call it.

How much more time do you have on this tour and what are the recording plans.
We have about two more weeks left. We are headed back across the country with Nekrogoblikon and Psychostick. Once were are on the West Coast we have two more headlining shows, one in San Jose and one in San Diego.

Then the plan is to go back home. There are a lot of benefits going on for Rustin’s medical bills. We are going to try to put together a show for that. Either jump on one of the existing ones or play our own.

Outside of that show, the priority is recording. The next album is part one of a two part concept. There will be two, hour length albums coming out. The first one will hopefully by the end of this year. The structure and arrangement for the songs on the first album are done. We basically need some lyrics and odds and ends before we start recording.



About the Author

JJ Ulizio
JJ Ulizio

JJ has been a contributing writer and huge asset to Empire and Empire Extreme since the very begining. He is always digging for new bands and has a true heart and desire to see the bands grow and succeed.


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