"On a witch hunt, we found some heavy metal to tackle narcissism and some new hope for a remake of a 90's pop tune with a touch of metal. "
A cool way to celebrate my birthday, catching up with Johnny Oravsky, the lead vocalist of Indiana's Salem's Childe to discuss life and the new album, "The Sin that Saves You."
By Kreig Marks, October 17, 2020
TRR: So, tell me about this pipe welder thing you’ve got going.
JO: Well, that's my day job. I've been doing that for a long time, not ready to give it up just yet because it's my major source of income and honestly, it pays very well. I work with some very awesome guys in Indiana, one of the best companies someone could work for.
TRR: Do you worry about injuring your hands doing this type of work? I know you're the singer in the band, but I understand you play guitar too.
JO: Yeah, I do play guitar too, but I've been doing this work a long time and I'm careful. And, yeah, you're right, there's always that chance that I could do something to really injure my hands, but I'm very careful. Always focused on the job at hand. So, I'm not too worried about that.
TRR: The new album, "The Sin that Saves You", who’s idea was it to have the 4 short instrumentals between some of the songs? That’s a cool change from what you typically hear from bands these days. Who's idea was that?
JO: That was Rob Salem's. He's the main guitar player in the band.
TRR: Boston used to do that between songs. Having those sections is kind of a throw-back. I think it's really cool.
JO: Thank you. I think it's pretty cool, too.
TRR: How was the music scene in Indiana before the pandemic put a halt to live music?
JO: The music scene in Indiana is hungry. There are bands with various styles, and there's a calling for more music. But, one of the coolest things about being in a band in Indiana, so many of the bands really support each other.
TRR: That's really great to hear. Going back to the 80's, there was a lot of animosity then, among several bands. But, moving ahead to the 90's and today, it's more the norm that most bands really enjoy and support each other.
JO: Most definitely. We should all be out there supporting each other. It's very refreshing to see that, and see all of the helping-hands among band brothers.
TRR: Did the pandemic cause a delay of the release of the album?
JO: Actually, no. Not with the release. It's affected us playing out, obviously, but as far as the release went, that had to do with Pavement and Sony. But, October 9th was the release date for a while. But, as far as recording, I joined the band last December and they had all the songs written and ready to record so it was a pretty quick production.
TRR: Listening to some of the band’s songs from a few years back, on the Paradise Lost EP, the band seemed to have more of a “Tool” type of sound. On The Sin that Saves You, the sound is definitely very Metal. Was this an intentional transition?
JO: Yeah, it was actually. The former singer wanted to keep things more progressive but the band wanted to move in a more "Metal" direction. So, the band contacted me to audition. They knew me from another band, and I tried out and got the gig. About a month later, I was in the studio recording-doing all of it in about 6 hours. A month later, we did the video and about a month after that, we were signed to Pavement.
TRR: That is a great story! Tell me about your background? Where did you grow up and what were you listening to?
JO: I grew up in California. I was listening to a bit of everything, some music you'd never think I would have listened to. From Pop to Glam Metal, some Gangster Rap, but mostly Zeppelin, especially as a teenager. Later on, when I joined the Navy, a lot of the guys got me into hardcore thrash metal that was coming from the Bay Area. So, it was Metallica, Slayer, Exodus, Metal Church. When I was younger, that music kind of scared me a bit, (LOL) so I stayed away from it. And, then I really started putting it all together and listening to the words. Their words are about life, relationships, and there's a lot of truth in the lyrics. Originally, I thought it was all scary loud music but when you actually hear and listen to the words, your thoughts are, "Oh! Wow, that's really cool and that's about life." So, that's what got me into Metal, in my early 20's. I was in the Navy in the Gulf war, and there was a lot happening back then, so that music really spoke to me.
TRR: What are your thoughts about how people are behaving today, especially with the election in a few weeks?
JO: Man, I wish people would just mellow out, one way or the other. It's too much.
TRR: Remember Rodney King, "Why can't we just get along?"
JO: Exactly, man. I wish it was that easy.
TRR: When did you know that you wanted to make music part of your life?
JO: I think it was when I first could comprehend music as a young child. It's always been a big part of my life, as early as any 6, 7 or 8 year old that gets a guitar and wants to be Paul Stanley of KISS! LOL.
TRR: What music was playing in your house?
JO: Oh man, let's see. Elton John, The Carpenters, Olivia Newton John, and later on, the Urban Cowboy thing, which I strayed all the way from. I had no interest in that music at all. LOL. Not to put down Country at all, it just wasn't my thing. I went in a different direction and it was then Billy Squier, Foreigner, Cheap Trick, Iron Maiden, Motley Crue. That's about as hard core as it was for me back then. Then, as a teenager, I got into Zeppelin and it was like, "WOW." Then, I got into Rap for a little while, and then Metal, Pantera. And, that's when it really all started.
TRR: What do you guys find most challenging when you get together to write new songs?
JO: Well, as far as the songwriting goes, when I joined the band, the words were written and the guys didn't want to stray from that. They wanted to put me into the lyrics. Within a month, I was in the studio recording the songs.
TRR: Definitely on the fast track. If you had one day to front 5 different bands from 5 completely different genres, who would those bands be?
JO: Five completely different genres?
TRR: Yeah. Do your best. No pressure. Ha.
JO: Hmm. That's an interesting question. I haven't been asked that before. Let's see. For Metal, I'd say, "All That Remains." That could be pretty cool. They're a great band, I really enjoy them. They're one of my favorites. For Hard Rock, I'd say Sammy Hagar’s solo stuff, before Van Halen, back in the early 80's right when he left Montrose. That would have been fun. I hear Sammy is pretty cool.
TRR: Sammy is great. I had the opportunity to interview him last year before a concert here in South Florida, and he was what you'd expect, a very cool guy.
JO: That's pretty cool. Was he open to discussing Van Halen?
TRR: Yep. He was very cool with that, and genuinely open to speaking with Eddie if the opportunity arose.
JO: That's pretty cool. So, let's see. Another band, different genre, let's go soft rock with the Eagles. I guess that would be considered either Southern Rock or Soft Rock. Either way, that would be cool. I really respect everything they've done.
TRR: Two more. Whatcha got?
JO: Oh man, this is hard. LOL, Hmm. Not sure if this is a different genre but definitely a different sound. I'm going with Heart! Man, that would be so freakin' cool. The Wilson sisters are amazing and that could be a lot of fun. Great singer/songwriters, both of them. And, not bad to look at either, especially back in the day. OK, one more. This is easy. Last but definitely not least, my favorite band of all time, Led Zeppelin. I don't think I need to explain.
TRR: So, no Elton John, Backstreet Boys, Barry Manilow, ABBA, Carpenters?
JO: LOL! Oh man, I completely forgot! You know, I almost said Elton John. LOL
TRR: You’re performing at a festival. You’re standing backstage and suddenly you see ________________ and you go absolutely nuts, almost to the point of embarrassing yourself, because you’re so excited. Who is the band or artist?
JO: Sebastian Bach
TRR: Sebastian Bach?
JO: Yep. Because he’s the mother fuckin' man! There's a lot of Sebastian Bach influences in me.
TRR: A song from the 70’s that you’d like to remake as a Metal tune? Don't say Xanadu or I'll have to leave.
JO: LOL! Xanadu. So, the tune,"Hopelessly Devoted to You" is out of the question? LOL. Man, this would be so much easier if it were the 80's.
TRR: Ha! That's the next question. You looking over my shoulder here?
JO: OK, OK, Let's say.... Operator.
TRR: Jim Croce? No shit!
JO: Yeah. I can hear it. That would be cool. We could do something with that. I've got one from the 80's.
TRR: What's that song?
JO: Now this is gonna throw you off. "Torn" by Natalie Imbruglia.
TRR: Torn? Are you serious? Lol.
JO: Yeah man. Now if you think about it, keeping it metal. Check this out. (Johnny begins to sing a verse from Torn.) " Illusion never changed, Into something real, I'm wide awake and I can see the perfect sky is tornnnnnnnnnn!!!!! (At the end, when he gets to the word "TORN" he rips out a pretty damn loud and on key metal scream.)
TRR: Woo! Man, that would be so cool! LOL. That is perfect! I never saw that one coming. You should do that! Have her in the video, naked on the floor.
JO: Ha! Yess! I'll talk to the guys. Ha.
TRR: What’s the next step forward for the band? Any songs written for the next album?
JO: We definitely have some ideas in place, and I've been working on a song myself, actually today. I will give a little hint, and it's going to be what I feel about narcissists. You'd be surprised to know how many people have that narcissistic, selfish gene. Statistics,10 years ago, 1 out of every 20 had that gene, and the number was growing. Look at it now. It's one of the biggest problems we have around us, and people have forgotten about their fellow man.
TRR: As a society, we really need to take several steps backward to move forward again.
JO: You're absolutely right. And so many people these days are all about image. You see that everywhere. As a band, we're not about image at all. We're all about the message, and I hope people really see that and get it when they watch our videos or listen to our music. We want to spread a good message.
TRR: Johnny, you're awesome. I'm definitely looking forward to your version of "Operator," and especially "Torn." Ha.
JO: Hell yeah! Band meeting! LOL
TRR: Anyone you’d like to give a shout out to?
JO: Thank you to all the staff and members of to Pavement for being so cool and giving us the opportunity to come out and shine. Thanks to all the families of Salem’s Childe who have followed us along the way. Anyone who’s been supporting me all these years through all the other bands I've been with, and sticking with me and by me and my band. And, I want to thank you Kreig, my brother. This has been really cool. I appreciate your intuitiveness and your "stick to itiveness!" You and Tru Rock are obviously very devoted to what you do, and the world of music and Metal needs more people like you.
TRR: Thanks, and please let me know when more new music is on the way.
JO: Most definitely. We'll speak again soon.
For further information about Salem's Childe, visit their website or follow them on Facebook.