Interview with Eyes of the Living Singer and Guitarist Tim Swisher

By Mick Michaels

COSMICK VIEW: Hello, Tim! Welcome to The Cosmick View. Thank you for taking some time out of your day to chat with me, it is greatly appreciated.

CV: How would you describe Eyes of the Living’s role in today’s Metal music scene? Is it in line with the current culture or do you feel the band goes a bit against the grain; carving out its own unique niche? Is Eyes of the Living a typical Thrash band?
Tim Swisher: We are often categorized as being Thrash, and you can definitely hear the old-school Thrash influence in what we do, but I believe our sound goes beyond that realm. Our influences branch out beyond thrash and I think that can be heard in the music.
CV: Metal has gone through quite a change since the mid 90’s when the band’s members were cutting their teeth and forging their roots in Philly. How would you describe Metal then compared to Metal now? What do you see as the biggest difference?
TS: Metal for me has always been about some form of aggression, an outlet and a community. I think those elements have transcended time and are still present in today's Metal scene. The biggest difference to me musically is the growth in sub-genres and the production quality. It’s funny, 90’s metal sounds raw now due to the vast improvement in production standards.     
CV: Tim, when it comes to songwriting, how would you describe the band’s approach to it? Is any of it based on what fans may or may not want or social trends…or is it strictly a personal approach, going with your gut?
TS: I’m currently the primary writer, but the guys are involved with ideas, arrangements and influence. We like fast…We like heavy and We like melody. It’s important to get those aspects into the songs. I would definitely say it’s a personal approach that I hope the listener can relate to. Lyrically, I’ll write about whatever peaks my or our interest. 
CV: Many bands have a signature sound or style that defines them, making them immediately recognizable. What do you feel separates Eyes of the Living from other bands in terms of sound?
TS: A few things; I’m gonna say my voice is one, the tone and style is not typical in comparison to most of today’s Metal and I think that sets us apart upfront. I believe Mike’s soloing style is unique in its own way as well…add our blend of old-school Thrash mixed with modern Metal and you have Eyes of the Living! 
CV: Do you think having a distinct sound could actually create a certain amount of limitation for a band in terms of songwriting? Would it better benefit a band to change things up with every album, giving both the music and the fans more to sink their listening teeth into? Or could it be a recipe for disaster? What are your thoughts?
TS: Great question! I think it’s a natural progression for a band to change over time or to experiment in some manner….keeping in mind that they should include elements that their fanbase has come to love. I personally feel that if change is not introduced, you can unfortunately sound like you’re just rehashing things you’ve already done…
CV: For any band being different can create distinction among their peers and within their genre. Does being different offer any other advantages in your opinion? Are fans more likely to take notice?
TS: The pool is BIG and there are many swimmers hahaa! So different, given it’s not outlandish, can definitely set you apart from the rest. It’s almost imperative that you differ in some manner today; it will for sure help draw attention to your band. 
CV: Any disadvantages to a band being a little or too obscure…or is everything fair game in music?
TS: Everything is fair game and should be…I believe that is how new talent is found. However, I tend to be drawn to great writing and music. The music can be obscure as long as I find it appealing. If your live show is obscure and awesome, but your music is weak, then I’m probably not a fan… If you can do both, then your A game is strong! haha

CV: Eyes of the Living have been on a steady pace to new heights since its formation in 2016.  From winning the East Coast 2018 Wacken Metal Battle USA title, to placing 2nd in the overall Battle’s national competition, to signing with Pavement Entertainment’s Artist Partnership, to releasing a new album in March and heading out on tour. How are you and the guys taking it all in?
TS: WE WANT MORE! haha! I think we’ve done really well in a short time, but we are always eager to do bigger and better things. We are all like-minded in terms of musical ambition and work ethic. Every once in a while one of us will step back and say “HEY look what we’ve done so far, take it in, be proud!” But I don’t think we’ll be happy until we are playing large venues to BIG audiences that wanna get down to our brand of Metal! 

CV: As a touring band, what do you see as the biggest hurdle bands are facing while out on the road?
TS: We are still getting our road legs under us, hopefully longer stretches are in the near future, but if I had to pick one I’d say money related hurdles. Getting paid enough to come out on top…or to at least enough to break even.
CV: Many so called "experts" are always claiming that music fans want something different; that bands need to offer something that has never been seen or heard before. Yet today, and in contrast to such statements, tribute bands are on the rise. Is this really the case; do music fans actually want something different or are they content with the same old recycled rotations on music?
TS: GREAT music speaks in volumes, and I think that is why the rise of tribute bands is upon us. Original acts need to write, produce and perform great music and I’d like to believe the ears of fans will follow!
CV: Let’s talk a little about the band’s debut album “War on Dead-More Dead.” Within the power and punch that the album delivers, there is an underlying melodic quality to the whole record. Was this intentional on the part of the songwriting?
TS: I’m not sure it was entirely intentional, but definitely what I was feeling and hearing at the time the music was being created. I’m really happy with the end product and the songs in general.

CV: What can fans expect to come away with once they hear “War on Dead-More Dead” and what do you hope fans come away with?
TS: I think if a listener gives our album a spin, they’ll hear something they might like! Our music isn’t just Thrash, it’s a little more than that… It’s creative, heavy, fast and melodic… it contains elements that a broad range of listeners might find appealing.

CV: It seems like everything that could be done has been done with music videos… But can music videos still offer a “surprise element” or ‘shock value” for a band looking to connect to an audience and make new fans? Are music videos still even relevant to a band's musical portfolio?
TS: I must admit that I am now a firm believer in the power of videos. We recently released a self-produced video for “Infected”. We used it as an ad on Facebook, and it now has over 6,000 views on there. It’s been a powerful tool in regards to drawing in new listeners and fans. It’s important for a video to possess a certain quality as well as idea to get the full benefits from it. I personally still enjoy watching band videos, it allows you to see what you hear, to see the band members animated, to give you a glimpse of what you might see at a show.   
CV: With music now being available on many different formats and platforms, do the older mediums, such as vinyl and cassettes, even CDs, still carry any weight with music buyers…especially today with the popularity of digital downloads? What are your thoughts?
TS: I believe digital downloads and or streaming have taken over the market. There are still those like myself who enjoy owning Vinyl or CD, but the market is in full swing down the digital highway for sure.

CV: What's next for Eyes of the Living?
TS: We’re gonna continue to play out locally and out of state, hopefully branch out west if possible. Then back into the studio to record new material for what will hopefully be an early 2020 release. 

CV: Thank you again Tim for spending some time talking and sharing with our readers. I wish you all the best and continued success.
TS: Thank you for having me, I enjoyed the questions! I hope your readers enjoy the interview! EYES OF THE LIVING!
Check out Tim and Eyes of a Stranger at:
Instagram & YouTube @EyesoftheLiving 

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My name is Mick Michaels...I'm an artist, music fan, songwriter, producer, dreamer and guitarist for the traditional Heavy Metal band Corners of Sanctuary. Writing has always been a creative outlet for me; what I couldn't say in speech, I was able to do with the written word.  Writing has given me a voice and a way for me to create on a multitude of platforms including music and song, articles, independent screenplays, books and now, artist interviews. The Cosmick View is an opportunity to raise the bar and showcase artists in a positive and inspirational light. For me, it's another out-of-this-world adventure.

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