Powerhouse band Tetrarch has created quite the stir in the metal scene over the years. On April 30th, 2021, they released their newest album, Unstable, and it is only magnifying their success. This is their first time with Napalm Records after releasing their debut album, Freak, independently in 2017. The mix of emotions and soundscapes on Unstable will have you reeling for the 90’s and early 00’s again as it shares that familiar tone of nu metal, yet toying with some more modern sounds and killer guitar solos. To say I was entertained this entire album, time and time again, is an understatement. Every track is full of self-aware lyrics, insatiable guitar work, and overall impressive musicianship. Consider this writer a fan.
This young group started at adolescent ages in Los Angeles. They have had many hiccups along the way, but have persevered through it all and come out on top. Josh Fore (vocals), Diamond Rowe (lead guitar), Ryan Lerner (bass), and Ruben Limas (drums), have created something special, nostalgic, but also fresh and new. Since they are still younglings, we hope to have much more coming from the Tetrarch world, and they appear to be eager to itch that scratch for their fans.
The album has been finished for a while from what I understand, but you had to wait a while to release it.
“Yeah, we spent all of 2019 writing the album, outside of the festivals we played, and the last four months of that year recording it. We have had it mixed, mastered, and ready to go sitting on our computers since January of 2020.”
It must be surreal finally being able to release it.
“I am really excited about it, but obviously you are always nervous hoping everyone likes it, cause that is your baby, but the response has been really good so far and positive.”
I would say you guys are killing it. You were hitting charts before the album was even fully released. It has been interesting because you remind me of a lot of 90’s metal, I even hear Jonathan Davis vocals from you.
“I think it is those haunting melodies that he was very known for. I have gotten Davis but I have also gotten Chester from Linkin Park. My voice is kind of higher like his. That raspy, and not a lot of people are doing that raspy singing anymore, so I think it is easy to compare to those era’s, if that makes sense.”
Musically too, it has that same 90’s punch for me, music is always open for interpretation, but I felt at home with that 90’s metal sound. I think that pain behind those vocals is something Jonathan Davis is a master of, and I hear that with your vocals. A really raw and sincere emotion.
“Absolutely. That is something I have always wanted to portray and we always, as a band, want lyrics that are real and relatable, that are easy for people to remember and easy to apply to their own lives. We have never been a band to write about fantasy, we are not a political band, we very much want to write about real human emotions and that is something I am really proud of with this album. It can connect with a lot of people. They might hear the song and it will have a different meaning than where I was coming from when I had written it, but I think that is the cool thing about it. They are not so deep that it can only mean one thing, they can apply to so many people’s different lives.”
I agree. I think a lot of the lyrics can adapt to a relationship with oneself, more of a reflection and dealing with inner demons, that duality of fighting with yourself. That is what I got out of many of them, where others might adapt them to romantic relationships.
“That’s perfect because that is definitely where I was coming from. You look at a song like, ‘You Never Listen’, it would be really easy to think, ‘Oh this is just a guy and a girl arguing with each other’, but for me, like you said, it is dealing with toxic feelings within yourself, talking to yourself, but for someone else it might be talking to their parent or talking to friend. It doesn’t have to be lovey dovey stuff. I think people respond well to that because everyone has these feelings and don’t always know the best way to voice them.”
Right, and that is what music does, puts emotions into words that maybe we can’t come up with or process through without the music. Something that is there for us when we are going through a difficult time and gives us an outlet to express what we sometimes cannot naturally express.
“Addicted” reminds me of being addicted to a mental illness. I know depression can be addictive, so I was curious if that is what this song was about.
“That is one I don’t necessarily want to say where it was coming from only because I do think the lyrics can apply to many people in so many different ways, you can be addicted to anything, and that one is interesting because I do have a certain thing that I wrote about but for me I will say it wasn’t necessarily to a substance, I actually wrote it coming from a positive place. Which is very interesting. I will let you dig into it a little bit and see if you can find out what I’m talking about. *laughs* It actually came from, kind of like I’m addicted to this, and nobody can stop me from doing it. That kind of thing.”
*Laughs* I am up for that challenge.
“*Laughs* If you can crack the code, I will tell you and say, ‘You got it’. *laughs* But it is written in a way, like I said, that can be applied to any situation. I might write something specifically for a certain feeling for myself, but ultimately we want our fans and listeners to be able to hear it and still have it mean something to them.”
That is a good lyricist, giving that breathing room for people to come up with their own interpretation. Sometimes a song can hit you one way and you will think of it lyrically in one way then when you go through something else and hear that same song, but get a different meaning. “Push Down” on the other hand, is fairly upfront with the meaning of the lyrics. Reach out, you are not alone. No matter how different or alone they feel.
Did you get to pick what songs to release early, or did Napalm decide for you?
“We had a say in that. We had recorded the album and initially planned to release it independently, so our whole album was done. We had released ‘I’m Not Right’, and it took off and carried us for 8 months or something like that. During that time we had continued to get hit up by different labels and people offering things, but we felt like Napalm was the right match for our vision and they are very open to letting us kind of do what we feel strongly about. That was one of the things that really drove us to them. We thought together we could grow something really big. We do always listen to everybody, we love to hear what everyone at the label or on our team think for singles and all that, but ultimately we make that decision.”
Napalm is one of the best at letting artists have their creative process. I was kind of surprised that “Push Down” was not one of the early releases because of the lyrical content.
“That is actually one of my favorite songs on the album and I am curious to see what people’s responses will be. I was thinking while we were creating the album how there was a lot of self reflection on her, but one thing we are always doing for Tetrarch having that song that is about inclusion and is about everybody, because that is something that we do stand for. On our last album ‘Freak’, our debut album, the title track ‘Freak’ has a line at the end of the chorus that became our mantra for the last three years was, ‘Let your psycho loose’. Fans just caught on, they found that line and I can’t tell you how many comments I run into on Instagram or YouTube or wherever that is saying, ‘I am letting my psycho loose with this song’, *laughs* or ‘I can’t wait to let my psycho loose’, people loved that and that really stuck with me. I wanted to continue from ‘Freak’ and use that, ‘We are the psychos, we are the untouchables’ and bring everybody together. It almost ended up being a ‘Freak 2’ because some of the concepts were a continuation of that song. The first verse is, ‘Embrace your freak, I’ll take you there’, I even used the word but it ended up going in a different direction with the title and everything. I really do like that song though and really hope that people catch onto that and say, ‘I want to be a part of that Tetrarch family’.
I do think it will be one of the anthems, so get used to play it a lot. *laughs* It will probably be on your playlist for years and years to come.
“I hope so because I would love to play that song”.
You say that now! *laughs* unstable unstable unstable unstable unstable unstable unstable unstable
“*laughs* I will never be one of those artists that says, ‘Oh I hate playing the popular songs’. If I was Metallica, I would still be excited every night to play ‘Enter Sandman’. I wouldn’t care how many times I played it, it got you where you are and I will always embrace what the crowd wants to hear. If they want to hear ‘Push Down’ every night for the next 30 years, they’ll get it.”
That is a good attitude to have about it. My favorite is “Take a Look Inside”, I love the riffs, it is such a wild ride of a song. It has some amazing breakdowns. Is that one you plan to play live and are you nervous to because it sounds like it is probably exhausting.
“Yeah it is really interesting because that is not a song we expected for as many people to like but since I have been doing all these interviews, that song keeps coming up, which is really crazy. We are back to jamming right now, we are constantly playing together, so when everything gets open we can be good to go right away. There won’t be any knocking off the rust. We have already been jamming that song and it is really fun to play. That one is fun for me, it has kind of an interesting story about it. We had finished most of the album in December but there was three songs I still needed to do vocals for and I had to continue writing, I just wasn’t ready yet. So I came back to LA and the three songs I wrote the lyrics and melodies for in around January of 2020 was; ‘I’m Not Right’, ‘Trust Me’, and ‘Take a Look Inside’, and when I came back to record, ‘Take a Look Inside’, Diamond and I went back to Colorado to record it and I had gotten sick. I had a really bad cough. I had been wanting Diamond to sing a chorus for a long time and when I wrote the melody for ‘Take a Look Inside’, I thought that Diamond would sound really good on the high part, but I knew if I said, ‘Hey you should do this’, she probably wouldn’t do it. So, when I got sick, I literally couldn’t sing that part, I could only do the low parts, so I asked Diamond if she would do it for me since I couldn’t do it and she went and did it and it sounds amazing and I think that our voices sound really cool together. There is something about it that I think is super cool. Then the song just gets filthy and nasty at the end with the breakdowns and it goes off into oblivion.”
It is a ride all in itself. Diamond is an incredible musician and really adds an important element to the band.
“She definitely brings a different element to the band and something you don’t see a lot in hard rock. She is a really strong player. She is in the other room, so hopefully she isn’t hearing all this *laughs*”
*Laughs* Oh yes, god forbid she hear us praising her. Before this album, there was the riffage, the breakdowns, etc. but not really solos or that lead, it was more riffs. That is something I definitely think pulls you apart this time.
“That was something we wanted to highlight on this album. There are a couple songs she doesn’t have a solo and it is more leads and weird sounds, but we tried to find opportunities where her lead playing could just shine because that is really important for us. A lot of people are comparing us to nu metal type bands and we obviously have influences from that time period as well as modern influences, but back then bands shied away from guitar solos and guitar leads and I think incorporating some of that into it makes it very fresh and different and it is another thing that makes us a little more unique.”
You guys have all basically grown up with each other. Has it been difficult to get along and stay on the same page through all those pivotal years, or have you been able to get along naturally?
“For Diamond and I, we were 12 when we met so we have experienced everything together. I think that has been a benefit for us because there is nothing I have had to go through and not had anybody and she has never had to go through something and not have somebody, we have always had each other there. I think that bond makes us really strong for our band too. When things get hard with music, we have never thought of stopping or quitting, we have been through so many other things, so there is no difference here. We got our bassist Ryan in 2009 off of MySpace and he was still young too, so we have all been through so much. Ruben is from Venezuela, our drummer, and he moved to the states six years ago and didn’t know any English, and now he is completely fluent in English, although sometimes I wish he wasn’t because he has so many comebacks for me *laughs*. We definitely have a very unique blend of personalities and stories. We have been able to go through all those ups and downs together and it has really been a benefit.”
You have had many things that could have set you guys back throughout the years and you have risen above it all. Even back to when you broke your arm early in your career before a show.
“That’s funny you mention that because it just brought back a memory of when we had just moved to LA and we were finally going to play our first LA show. Two days before it, we went and played softball and I ended up breaking my arm and I remember laying on the ground out in the field and telling Diamond, ‘I’ll still sing at the show, we still have to play’, I was in shock. Then at the hospital I ended up falling and breaking my jaw and teeth and then I realized the show was probably not happening *laughs*. We finally had our first LA show and then it was like, maybe not *laughs*. It was a little bump in the road but we always just say, ‘For every step backwards, it seems we make 5 or 10 steps forward.’ So it is ok when something doesn’t go the way we want, because we know something better will be around the corner. It has helped keep our morale high.”
Overcoming obstacles left and right. I have taken a lot of your time, so one more question, how important is balance and self-awareness in your life?
“I think it is very important to have balance especially when you are on the road you’re surrounded by the same people, every single day for months. Sometimes you realize you just need some space for a day. Even just go to Starbucks by myself and just sit there to be away and I think we do a good job. Everyone has got their hobbies that they go do. Ruben has really gotten into paintball this last year, Ryan loves to go rock climbing, I love to play golf, and Diamond loves to fish. We all have little things like that that help keep our lives balanced. It is really important because you can burn yourself out if you go too hard only focusing on one thing and never give yourself a mental break, even if it is for a day or two.”
I was surprised how much Tetrarch brought back for me with the overall content of Unstable. Each part brings different elements of genre’s that nicely fit together. Diamond’s guitar solos take them slightly apart from the nu metal sound and Fore’s lyrical content and vocals make a dynamic pairing. Adding in Lerner and Limas creates an incredible group that I cannot wait to hear more from. Make sure you support Tetrarch when they are finally able to come to your town! unstable unstable unstable unstable unstable unstable unstable unstable