Check out the song: “Dark City”

Stu Block, vocalist of the Tampa based metal band Iced Earth spoke to me from Germany about the band’s latest record, Dystopia. This is their 10th studio release and the first for Block who joined the band early in 2011. The band is currently on tour in Europe where they are playing 40 shows over the next six weeks. Here is what Block had to say about the record and how he is adjusting to his new role as the frontman of such a well-established act.

How are you doing today?
Stu: I am doing well…just trying to adjust to the European Time Zone because I am in Germany right now.

So you guys are on the road right now right?
Stu: We are on the road but we are just rehearsing here in Germany preparing for our first show over here on October 30th.

How long have you been rehearsing?
Stu:We started rehearsals over here on October 22nd and it has been going good.

You are new to the band. How has the transition gone so far?
Stu: It has been great so far. Everyone is a jackass like me so it has been going very well. No seriously it has been going really well the jams have been awesome, the band is sounding really tight and I think everyone is going to dig the show so I am excited.

What has been the reaction from the fans so far? Has it been pretty favorable?
Stu: Yeah man it seems like there has been a very very positive fan reaction to me doing, “Dante’s Inferno.” As soon as that hit people really got it and understood that I could really pull this stuff off. The first week sales have been decent and people are digging it and the response has been pretty positive.

Well now that Dystopia is out how do you feel about it?
Stu: I am really satisfied but like any piece of art I think you have to walk away from it for a while. I think that this album is a great introduction for me and I think it is what the fans have wanted for a long time which is a record that is not an overly done super epic record; some parts of the last two records were overdone. I am really happy with this record and I am stoked about it.

Were you involved with the writing on Dystopia?
Stu: Yeah man. I co-wrote ten songs on this record with Jon and I wrote a lot of lyrics and a lot of melodies. He arranged it all but I came up with a lot of stuff on the album and I am really happy with it.

Did you guys write a bunch of tunes that didn’t make the record or just strictly what is on the record?
Stu: We wrote strictly what was on the record. There were some ideas that were not fully developed yet and they got put on the back burner but pretty much what you hear is what we wrote.

When you guys write do you do so with the live setting in mind?
Stu: I think the live setting is taken into consideration because you don’t want to do too much that can’t be pulled of live. But there are lots of little nuances and extra harmonies that are on the album and won’t be live; but it is not drastic at all.

Are there any tracks on the disc that are personal favorites or that have good stories behind them?
Stu: Yeah, “End Of Innocence” is a very personal song for me because it is about my mother who is passing away from cancer. I wanted to write a song for her and it was really therapeutic for me. “Anthem” is a really cool song that just celebrates the human life triumphing against any adversities. I really like the whole album but those two really stick out to me.

Check out the song: “Dystopia”

As a new member of the band did you feel any pressure in the studio?
Stu: There is always pressure man. Pressure is what always brings out the best in me; I work best under pressure. It is not negative pressure though it is very positive John really presents a very positive writing and recording atmosphere. John and I really write well together and it was an enjoyable experience.

What kind of touring do you have planned?
Stu: We have 40 shows over a two month period and we will finish just in time for Christmas.

Do you do anything special to prepare for a run like that?
Stu: I keep very well rested. I take vitamins and I try to work out every day and just do what I can do.

Any closing words at all?
Stu: I am really excited for people to come out and check out what I can do in Iced Earth.