Tallah‘s Derrick Schneider: “I wanted every song to have two or three guitar parts to really make them pop”

Tallah (from left): Andrew Cooper (bass), Justin Bonitz (vocals), Derrick Schneider (guitar) and Max Portnoy (drums) (Image credit: Press)

After Pennsylvania-based nu-metal band Tallah self-released their 2018 debut concept EP, No One Should Read This, they began working on their full-length debut. 

Then, Earache Records, impressed by the explosive EP, signed the band. There was only one caveat. Earache asked Tallah to scrap 12 new songs they had written. The label wanted to remix the five EP tracks, which were about the consequences of abuse, and include them with songs that had complementary lyrics. 

“We were skeptical because we liked what we had written,” guitarist Derrick Schneider says. “But it was pretty different from the EP, and the label didn’t think they would work on the album.” 

Two months before they were due in the studio, Schneider and drummer Max Portnoy (son of Mike Portnoy) went into creative overdrive. Portnoy banged out sketches for nearly 10 new songs while Schneider fleshed out the seven-string riffs with noisy counter-rhythms and flailing leads. The foundation was laid for Matriphagy, a feral hybrid of Slipknot, Korn and Code Orange.

Tallah entered the studio in February 2020 with Josh Schroeder (King 310, Ghost Bath); a hassle-free month later, the band had recorded eight new songs that blended well with their prior output while stretching their playing abilities further than they had on the EP.

The songs have different layers and effects and it’s hard to pull them off live with just one guitarist

“I wanted every song to have two or three guitar parts to really make them pop,” Schneider says. “Whether I’m doing a lead or the rhythm, I always like something else happening underneath.” 

It wasn’t the first time Tallah faced adversity. When they entered the studio to record No One Should Read This, they had no vocalist. They recorded the five songs as instrumentals, then combed YouTube for singers. Soon after, they discovered vocalist Justin Bonitz. The singer aced his audition, wrote new lyrics and tracked vocals for the EP. 

With Matriphagy receiving positive reviews, the only obstacle facing Tallah now is finding a second guitarist to flesh out the music live. “The songs have different layers and effects and it’s hard to pull them off live with just one guitarist,” Schneider says. “So far, we haven’t found the right person, but we will. There are worse problems to have.”

  • Tallah's debut album, Matriphagy, is out now via Earache.

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Jon Wiederhorn

Jon is an author, journalist, and podcaster who recently wrote and hosted the first 12-episode season of the acclaimed Backstaged: The Devil in Metal, an exclusive from Diversion Podcasts/iHeart. He is also the primary author of the popular Louder Than Hell: The Definitive Oral History of Metal and the sole author of Raising Hell: Backstage Tales From the Lives of Metal Legends. In addition, he co-wrote I'm the Man: The Story of That Guy From Anthrax (with Scott Ian), Ministry: The Lost Gospels According to Al Jourgensen (with Al Jourgensen), and My Riot: Agnostic Front, Grit, Guts & Glory (with Roger Miret). Wiederhorn has worked on staff as an associate editor for Rolling Stone, Executive Editor of Guitar Magazine, and senior writer for MTV News. His work has also appeared in Spin, Entertainment Weekly, Yahoo.com, Revolver, Inked, Loudwire.com and other publications and websites.