Shawn: We are Final Sign from North Carolina, USA. We’re a four-piece band playing a style of heavy metal that is sort of a blend of USPM and thrash. Our debut album ‘Hold High the Flame’ was released on CD in October of 2015 on Divebomb Records. It will be reissued on cassette by Tridroid Records in October of 2016. We’re comprised of members who have known each other a long, long time and have played together at different times in other bands before. Both our guitar player Brian (“Hellstorm”) Williams and new bassist Jim Hunter are members of October 31 and have played together the longest. I did a short stint in October 31 as well. Brian and I were in K-Octave together back in the early 2000s and did one album for Hellion Records in Germany. Brian and I have both played in bands with our drummer Kevin Haverlah at different times in the past. So, we’ve all known each other for many years and it feels very natural to all be playing together in Final Sign.
So far you have released one album, how would you describe the musical sound that is presented on the recording?
Shawn: Heavy metal! Ha! That sums it up perfectly. I know the term “metal” carries a pretty broad definition these days, but heavy metal is exactly what we are. We draw upon the legacy of our forefathers and carry on their grand traditions. We blend traditional 70s and 80s heavy metal, thrash metal, and power metal into a vicious, intense concoction. We play from the heart, and we mean every note. The sticker Divebomb Records put on our CD stated: For fans of Reverend, Exciter, and Helstar…I think that pretty much sums it up. US power metal with teeth.
What are some of the lyrical topics and subjects the band explores with the music?
Shawn: The lyrics I write draw many times from personal experience and observation. But, I always try to wrap them up in allegory and storytelling to fit the vibe of the music. For example, “Madness Eternal” tells the story of a power-obsessed ruler who wanted infinite, eternal power so he goes to a witch for a spell. The theme is basically “be careful what you wish for”. The song “Daring the Sun” deals with trying to control internal rage. Things like that, I think, make the songs interesting. The phrasing and choice of words fits and flows with the vibe of the music, so it makes them easy to sing with conviction. I mean every word. Brian has such a unique playing and writing style, in my opinion, and he and I have really good chemistry. All I need is one good Hellstorm riff and I’m off and running! I wrote the lyrics to this album sort of under the gun, so I am looking forward to taking my time a little more on newer material.
What is the meaning and inspiration behind the name 'Final Sign'?
Shawn: Everyone in the band is a big fan of Black Sabbath, particularly the Ronnie James Dio era of the band. I myself am a huge fan of Dio in pretty much all of his bands from Elf to Heaven and Hell. The name Final Sign, obviously, comes from the Black Sabbath song “Children of the Sea” and the line “…we’ve lost the rising sun, a final sign.” Naming the band Final Sign was a way, honestly, to honor and pay tribute not only to Dio himself and to Black Sabbath, but to all the brilliant, amazing bands that laid the foundation that this band and so many others build upon…to heavy metal itself.
What are some of the best shows that the band has played so far and also how would you describe your stage performance?
Shawn: A key element, in my opinion, is intensity. Intensity comes from belief. Belief comes from loving what you do. Everyone in this band loves to play music, and loves being a part of Final Sign. We believe in the music we’re making and, as a result, we play it with passion and intensity. Hellstorm plays like he’s on stage at The Budokan every single night, no matter where we play. It’s amazing! He loves it so much! That energy is extremely contagious and the band, as well as the crowd, really feeds on it. It almost makes it easy to get up there and leave it all on the stage. The time goes by so fast when we’re up there and we’re so exhausted when it’s over…haha! Crowds can tell the difference between when you’re really feeling what you’re doing and when you’re just going through the motions, pretending, and doing what you think you’re supposed to do. So, we do our best to just be in the moment and enjoy what we’re doing and bring the crowd with us. So far, all of our shows have been fantastic! Great crowds, great bands, and great venues.
Do you have any touring or show plans for the future?
Shawn: No actual touring plans at the moment, I’m afraid. We’re all working stiffs, have families, other musical endeavors, other obligations, etc. We are playing as many shows as we can, though, that’s for sure. It’s just that we don’t have the option of crawling into a van and leaving home for weeks at a time. That being said, we have a lot of good shows lined up, including the inaugural Thou Shall Rock fest in Wilmington, NC this coming September with bands like Demon Eye, Walpyrgus, Knightmare and others. We’re also in talks to play some larger fests in 2017 in addition to our regular shows. So, if you get a chance to see us, come out and say hi!
So far you have worked with 'Divebomb Records' and 'Tridroid Records', are you happy with the support both labels have given you so far?
Shawn: We could not be happier with both Divebomb and Tridroid, honestly. They are examples of labels who are also fans. They love this music as much as we do and we are lucky to be working with them. To have label staff who are as into what you’re doing as you are is a great thing. Both labels have excellent reputations and the product looks and sounds amazing! Matt at Divebomb and Christine at Tridroid have been very accommodating, helpful, and gracious to us and I hope to continue working with them for a long time to come.
On a worldwide level how has the feedback been to your music by fans of heavy, power and thrash metal?
Shawn: Honestly, we have received almost nothing but high praise from all corners of the metal universe! I am overwhelmed by it all and we, as a band, greatly appreciate all the kind words and support from both the fans and the metal media. It’s been amazing! The fans, especially. We hear weekly from people who pick up the album or hear a song on YouTube who tell us they just love what we’re doing. Then at shows, people who are not familiar with us are walking away as new fans! So we definitely have zero complaints and we feel very welcome!
What is going on with some of the other bands or musical projects these days that some of the band members are a part of?
Shawn: Hellstorm and Jim are working on a couple of new October 31 projects. Jim’s band Walpyrgus is recording some more material as well. I have a couple of other records coming out this year more on the hard rock side with the bands Livesay and Seven Hard Years (7HY). We all like different kinds of music and like to keep busy. That being said, Final Sign is a band, and we all love being in this band. Final Sign is in the process of working on new material for what we hope will be our second album. It’s coming along great and sounding huge!
Where do you see the band heading into musically during the future?
Shawn: As I said, we are already working on new material. So far, it sounds like Final Sign. We’re not going to suddenly jump into making symphonic concept albums or unplugged acoustic albums. We know who we are and we know what our strengths are. We play heavy metal. So, we’ll be running headlong into heavy metal and bringing everyone with us! It will be heavy, it will be intense, and it will be from the heart.
What are some of the bands or musical styles that have had an influence on your music and also what are you listening to nowadays?
Shawn: As for influences, for myself, it’s all the usual suspects. I grew up on 80s rock and metal. There’s some 70s stuff in there for good measure. As for who influenced me to want to be a metal singer, there’s Dio, of course. He’s a force of nature. Then Halford, Tate, Dickinson, Carl Albert, Robert Lowe, David Wayne, Mike Howe. I could go on. I also am a huge fan of non-metal singers like Steve Perry, Steve Walsh, Daryl Hall, and Ann Wilson. Some stuff I have been getting into recently includes Bewitcher, Witching Altar, Walpyrgus, Old Wolf, and Oath of Woe. I’ve also been digging back into music I missed the first time around with Lucifer’s Friend, Skull and Dust.
What are some of your non-musical interests?
Shawn: I barely have any. Ha! I like cooking. I don’t necessarily follow recipes, but I have learned what kinds of flavors go together so I like getting in the kitchen with nothing but an idea and seeing what happens. It usually turns out pretty good. I like playing mad scientist sometimes and putting different things together like Cajun tacos or BBQ chicken lasagna. I love trying different kinds of dark beers…stouts, porters, browns, etc. I also collect Batman graphic novels.
Before we wrap up this interview, do you have any final words or thoughts?
Shawn: On behalf of everyone in Final Sign, I just want to say thank you to all the many heavy metal fans across the globe for not only keeping the traditions of heavy metal alive, but also for welcoming Final Sign into your world and allowing us to fly the horns with you! Fans and word of mouth are everything for bands like us, so we are eternally grateful for all the enthusiastic support we have received! You guys are the best! Hold high the flame!