Interview: 10 Questions with Guitarist James Milbrandt of Serianna
With the release of Inheritors and a healthy run of summer and fall tours, Madison, Wisconsin's Serianna are celebrating the fruits of their labor by preparing for more hard work.
Guitar World caught up with guitarist James Milbrandt, who, along with Kris Meyer-Ruef, make up the band's lacerating guitar duo. The rest of the band includes Chris Nutting, vocals; Chris Ferraro, drums; and Lee Milbrandt, bass.
GUITAR WORLD: When did you decide you wanted to play extreme music?
It was definitely a progression. It started off playing guitar. I wanted to learn how to play riffs right away. It started off with Ozzy and Metallica stuff. Not light, by any means, but as it progressed I guess I started picking up on these heavier bands. I just thought the guitar work was just more exciting for me to hear. We got heavier and heavier and started getting into heavier bands.
Who were the heavier bands?
Lamb of God was one of the early heavy ones. We're all huge fans of August Burns Red. You know, stuff like Killswitch Engage, As I Lay Dying. Bands that are all about riffs and breakdowns.
What had Serianna recorded before this new album, Inheritors?
We self-released an EP. I think it was back in '08. It was our first trial as a band. We had two different members than we have now, and it was kind of like establishing ourselves as a band. But I'd say Inheritors is the music we've been wanting to hear over the last couple of years. We've been working on it for two years, writing and recording. We'd go in the studio, write a song and record it. A month later we'd come up with another song. We were just kind of working on them, trying to tweak them a little bit. I think we're all really happy with how it turned out.
What is the meaning of the album title?
We're inheriting a kind of crummy world, but we can change some of our ways and make this still a better place than what it currently is. It's got some dark outlooks to some of the songs but I think that overall it's kind of a positive note that even though it's kind of a dark place with a lot of bad things going on, there's still good to be had.
Who are the songwriters in your band?
We've all actually had a big part in writing. Everybody will come and bring a riff or something to the table. Mostly with Kris [Meyer-Reuf], our other guitar player rand and I, we write on a computer. We don't have to be at the same practice space when we write music. We write it at home and then we'll send it to Chris, and he'll put drums to it and critique the riff or whatever. We email back and forth. And we'll be up all hours of the night, just exchanging emails and writing. I'd say between the three of us, we kind of pin the song down and give it to Chris Nutting to put the vocals to. Yeah, he and Chris Ferraro -- they're the two main writers for lyrics. They'll give us their song ideas, and we'll go back and maybe tweak a couple sentences or give ideas of wording or phrasing.
What role do you play as one of the guitarists in Serianna?
I'd say that I'm more riffs and melody. When Kris joined up he was the one who showed me technical rhythm and stuff. He was the one who kind of expanded my mind to playing different, more rhythmic kind of stuff. He's more solid with chords, where I'm more of a riff guy, writing riffs. I think over time we've helped each other grow differently. I've become better with rhythms and he'll come up with riffs now that are pretty awesome. I'd say it's more like that I'm like the riff guy, he's more like the rhythm guy. He comes up with the technical stuff, even though nowadays it's been kind of half and half.
Are you a guitar freak?
In a sense, yeah. I practice as often as I can. Whenever we get to the venue I'll sit down and I'm always trying to write new stuff or just trying to learn different techniques. It's kind of cool touring with these other bands, picking up stuff from them and just kind of learning different tricks of the trade and things that they do.
Megadeth or Metallica?
Definitely Metallica. Nothing against Megadeth. I do love Megadeth.
What are you guys working on now?
We're going to be working on a cover song.
Can you tell us what the song will be?
We can't give that out yet, but it's going to be something you wouldn't expect from us.
Inheritors, the new album by Serianna, was released in July via Bullet Tooth Records. Check out Serianna on Facebook.