Tenet - 07/08/2009

TENET is a new band project initiated by Jed Siman (Strapping Young Lad, Zimmer’s Hole), who gathered around him a host of musicians: Byron Stroud (Strapping young Lad, Fear Factory), Glen Alvelais (Forbidden, Testament, LD/50), Steve Zetro Souza (Legacy, Exodus, Dublin Death Patrol) and the one and only Gene Hoglan (Death, Testament, Dark Angel, Strapping Young Lad), so 60% of the band consists of former Strapping Young Lad members. As you would expect, the musical style of this band resembles that of bands such as Exodus, Dark Angel and Testament. The production duties are taken care of by veterans Vincent Wojno and Andy Sneap who have both worked with bands like Machine Head, Kreator, Opeth and Death in the past. No further introduction needed, I presume.


TENET originally started out in the Summer of 1996 for Jed Simon, founder of the band. Together with Steve Wheeler (Zimmer’s Hole drummer at the time), they started getting Jed's ideas down to demo-tape form, but while both continued along with ZH and SYL, nothing much happened for TENET apart from some casual jam-sessions, which among others also included players like Stu Carruthers (Grip Inc.). Jed then initially met guitar-partner Glen Alvelais (ex-Forbidden) way back in 1997 when SYL was touring with Testament, for whom Glen was playing guitar at the time. After quickly becoming friends, Jed eventually asked Glen if he would be interested in playing together in TENET.

After signing a deal with Century Media Records, Jed started out working on ‘Sovereign’ with bassist Byron Stroud (Fear Factory, SYL, Zimmer’s Hole) as well as drummer Adrian Erlandsson (At The Gates, The Haunted, Cradle Of Filth, Paradise Lost, etc.), but after reviewing the fact that not enough attention could be given to the project by Adrian due to the immense geographical distance and other pending commitments, Jed turned back to his long-time partner in crime Gene Hoglan (Death, Dark Angel, SYL, etc.) to take care of the final drum duties. TENET was still looking for a vocalist though and after a few auditions were done, Steve “Zetro” Souza (Legacy / Exodus) turned out to be the perfect man for the album, as he instantly gave the band that 'classic' metal feel that Jed was looking for. Jed quickly flew to the Bay Area twice to first oversee a very smooth vocal recording with Zetro and then later on to mix the album with Vincent Wojno (Machine Head, Kreator, Trouble, etc). Finally, Andy Sneap (Megadeth, Opeth, Arch Enemy, etc.) was recommended for the mastering of ‘Sovereign’ and the album’s artwork comes courtesy of Travis Smith (Opeth, Death, Nevermore, etc.).

That all said, even if TENET might seem like a brand-new name to the scene, the fact that the band’s line-up involves some of the most respected players within the Thrash and extreme Metal scene will easily explain the immense quality to be found on the deeply personal-themed debut album ‘Sovereign’. If you like your METAL heavy and with a good dose of the “old school”, then you have found your home on ‘Sovereign’.



It seems there is much to talk about and we tracked down founder of the band Jed Simon to ask him some questions, here you can read what he had to say to us.


Congratulations on the release of your new album ‘Sovereign’, of course we’d like to ask you a couple of questions about it.


Jed: Thanks! Ok, let’s do it!


First of all, could you start this interview off with a short introduction of band, the origin of its name and how you guys got together?


Jed: Ok, Tenet is myself, Gene Hoglan on drums, Byron Stroud on bass, Zetro Souza on vocals and Glen Alvelais on lead guitar. Tenet started out as a side project of me and Steve Wheeler, the original Zimmers Hole drummer. We both wanted to do a straight up death metal thing so we started jamming out some ideas I had. SYL and ZH kept us both very busy so we just rocked out when we could. We did a 3 song demo and it never really did anything, and eventually we just closed it down.

The ideas stuck with me though, and they started to grow into something else, and I realized that I had some good shit happening, so I began writing when I was on tour, with an idea that I was going to do a solo album. SYL and ZH had always been so active I just didn’t want to rush the Tenet thing, so I waited...we all waited, haha! Anyway, after SYL disbanded I knew it was time to get rolling.


How and when did you launch into writing material for ‘Sovereign’ and how much time did you spend on the songs?


Jed: I’ve been writing these songs for a few years now. After I signed with Century back in 2004 that is when I really started to work hard on getting them together. There was so much material written over the course of years but in the end, these nine songs are the ones that tell the story of this album. There are lots of other tunes I wrote that could have gone on to the album, but these 9 were the ones that belonged together to me. I am constantly writing, it never stops, and the stuff I write is random...whatever comes naturally is how I work. So some stuff gets put into the ‘thrash’ pile and other stuff goes into the ‘death metal’ pile, and some stuff goes into the ‘rock’ pile...you know? Eventually the songs find a home somewhere, and that is how I have always written.


What approach did you take to make this album, did you go for a more raw exposition.. or something more reminiscent of your previous other works, or something all together different?                                           


Jed: This is my roots, pure and simple.  I wanted to start a band that was like the bands I was in back in the 80's...very straight-up, right in your face style of metal. That is really the kind of music I love most, pure aggression, with feeling. This is honest metal, and as much as I have loved playing (and still play) in other bands, this is what really gets my blood roaring.



What were the goals you had in mind when you started to record ‘Sovereign’, any elements you definitely wanted to have on the album?


Jed: As I mentioned above, simplicity above all. The songs are heavy enough without the need for multi-layering, or keyboards, or over-production. Guitar, bass, drums and vocals. Pure metal. I admit we spent a good deal of time in production, but that is only because I wanted it to sound good, and I wanted it to be organic...none of the pasting and editing craziness that you see so often now. For example, Gene’s drums are pure acoustic drums, no triggers, no fakery...but it takes time to mix that kind of thing, same with guitars and bass...it’s very stripped down, but it doesn’t make it any easier when it comes to mixing.


In your opinion, how was your experience with your previous band helpful in your compositional skills and how does that affect the way you write now ?


Jed: I can’t even begin to describe how much I have learned over the years with SYL and watching Devin especially. It has been a monumental help to me, but I still have a very different vision of how I want things to sound. The biggest help I think from working with SYL for that long has been in the writing department...particulary in arranging songs, where Devin is just briljant at. He knows how to put a song together and get all the parts of the song to make sense. So he has been very helpful in that aspect for sure. I would throw a riff at him, and in a very short time he could turn it into the skeleton of a killer song. We worked very well together in that way, and I learned much. I learned much from all those guys, and I hope they learned some things from me too. They are forever my Brothers.


Could you please describe the implications of the title ‘Sovereign’, what does it stand for and is there a special meaning behind it?


Jed: ‘Sovereign’ is a reference to the long inner battle I’ve had over the years. The anger and resentment has been all consuming, and that anger is what fueled this album. So “Sovereign”, the title song, the artwork are closure to that anger. I had to overcome all that hate, I had to do it by myself, I had to stand tall as one...Sovereign.

I’m quoting some of the lyrics from the title song there, helps me to explain it a bit better. It’s a very powerful song for me, it represents the end of a period. 


Who was responsible for the lyrics on the album?


Jed: I wrote the lyrics.

What inspired your lyrics and can you tell me a little more about them?


Jed: Anger has driven just about everything I've ever done, apart from ZH, and it is the prime motivator behind Tenet. There was a bad period of time when I was a young child, divorce, court battles, not knowing who really cared, or what was really happening. It was really traumatic, and add to that a step-parent who got in between everything, and it was just terrible. I didn't even know a lot of the things that went on until my father started telling me what had happened back then. I was kept from seeing my dad, who is my hero, for over 9 years...anyway...it's a long story, but the Tenet just felt like the right outlet for all the pent up anger and frustration I had been feeling for so many years. Tenet is my therapy. Tenet is my release.



How important is it to you that people pay attention to the lyrics apart from listening to the music?


Jed: Well that is up to the individual I think. Some people really get into lyrics, like myself, while others just want to rock to the music. Personally I believe the lyrics are just as important to the song as the music. They compliment each other and lyrics always lend a ‘weight’ to the song that the music just can’t match. Although you can use the music to emphasize the lyrics...it’s just a balancing act.

Can you give us a little background information on the songs is there a story behind them?


Jed: Oh yeah, there is a story...and like I mentioned a few questions back, it’s a very personal album to me. So the songs are just a vent for my anger, a way of releasing the inner demons I had been carrying for many years. Ridding myself of the beast on my back, as it were. Read the lyrics, and you’ll understand!


What is the utmost important ingredient for a song according to you and is there any typical way that your songs comes into being?


Jed: All parts are equally important...a song is a complete emotional release for me, so I want it all to be as well-presented as possible. As for how I write, everything comes down to a riff and a title usually for me. I have a huge collection of ideas and riffs, I record every idea I have, and have done that for over 20 years now, so finding inspiration and ideas is never a problem if I’m not getting something in “the moment” ya know?


How can we imagine you work on new songs, what's the typical writing process like for Tenet?


Jed: Riff. Title. And then obsess over it for a few weeks until it is written!! As soon as I get an idea flowing in my head, I have to see it through to its completion. I have had like 5 songs being written at once before, usually with Zimmers Hole, haha, but I prefer to get one together at a time. It gives me focus.


Do you sit down and write a new song because you need more material now or do you wait until you get an idea?


Jed: Everything comes when it comes...I don’t have any set way of doing it. The ideas will strike me at any time...that’s why I sleep with my recorder! I carry it wherever I go as well, ideas come fast and furious at times...so it’s nice to able to at least vocalize them and then be able to work them out when I get home.


How did the recording process proceed? Did you work differently this time than you did with your previous works?                                  

Jed: It was different for sure. I mean this was my first production gig where I had the final say in everything so I was very determined to make it sound the way it sounded in my head...and that took some work. I appreciate all the guys that were helping me because I wouldn’t have been able to do it with out them. Especially Vincent Wojno, he was amazing to work with and I can’t wait to work with him again. We spent a lot of time mixing this, recording was fairly straight forward, but in mix we really worked hard on it. I wanted everything to be very organic...Gene’s drums are completely acoustic, no triggers, the guitars and vocals were done with as few punch in’s as possible...so unlike many bands today that cut and paste an album together, we didn’t want to do that. This is us as we really are...no over editing, or sampling, or multi-layering...just straight up, stripped down, no holds barred metal. And it took some hard work to make it all come together, I wanted it to be organic, yet modern sounding...so we had our difficulties for sure. But I’m really fuckin’ happy with the result, and all the work seems worth it now man. Fuck yeah.


The album was mixed by Vincent Wonjo and mastered by Andy Sneap, what made them the perfect people for this job? 


Jed: Because they WERE the perfect people for the job...I’m grateful to both of them for really helping to make my dream come true.


Which aspect of the CD are you most proud of?


Jed: All of it. Every fucking note. If you made me pick a song though, it would be “Unnameable”, that tune is my fave and the most meaningful to me.


Can you tell us a little about yourself and the kinds of things that motivate you in your writing, your poetry, and your lyrics? What are you personally into?


Jed: I’m driven by whatever makes me “feel” something. Be it anger, or deep sadness, or even great joy. As long as the feeling is honest, the music will reflect that. I’m into everything that has feeling. Real feeling.


What makes Tenet different from the other metal bands out there?


Jed: Sheer honesty.


Are there any particular bands who’ve been a big influence in your song writing, metal or otherwise and which album has been your biggest musical influence, one that made you think “this is what I want to do!”?


Jed: Many, many bands over many years man...I couldn’t possibly get them all in here. But for the sake of the question, let’s pick AC/DC, SYL, Exodus, Slayer, Alice Cooper. KISS, BTO, Morbid Angel, Pestilence...I could go on and on man...

As for one album to pick that changed everything...well it’s between 2: KISS-ALIVE!, and AC/DC-POWERAGE.


How would you describe your own music and what are your musical influences?


Jed: My own music is a reflection of myself, whatever the “vibe” may be. My influences are too numerous to list, but I wear them all on my sleeve. I guess the giant Ace Frehley tattoo I have says something about my influences for sure, haha!


What can we expect from Tenet in the near future, any touring?


Jed:  After finishing the album we have moved on now to focus on touring. I will not lie, it is going to take some work, but we are working on it now. When we get it happening you will be the first to know!


Where do you see the band going within the next couple of years, and where do you see the band’s musical direction going for the next album?


Jed: We’ve already begun writing for a second album, and it will be just as viscious, I assure you, and with everybody contributing to writing now, I anticipate some killer music coming out.


Anything left to say to our readers?


Jed: Hey it was my pleasure man! Keep up to date with us at our websites: tenetforce.com and myspace.com/tenetforce.



Thanks for your time,

Eugene Straver



Members :

Steve Souza - Vocals

Jed Simon - Guitar

Glen Alvelais - Guitar

Byron Stroud - Bass

Gene Hoglan - Drums


Albums :

(2009) - Sovereign