Saturn’s Return is a punk/metal/rock band from Maine. They are a three-piece, and share two of their members with Forward Momentum Prophecy. We sat down with Arthur, Mike and Tommy and got some info on the band members and their background
How would you classify your music class genre wise?
Arthur: We are influenced with punk rock and death metal. We incorporate more hardcore punk … we try to. Maybe some psychedelic rock.
Mike: When I thought of a band that we sound like, to an extent I’d say Suicidal Tendencies. Maybe not vocally, but musically, to an extent. They’re a mixture of punk and metal and weird. I think that we do that as well.
Tommy: When people ask what we sound like, I usually just say ‘noise.’ Something raw, not cookie cutter.
What were your most influential moments as a musician? The first time you really clicked with something?
Arthur : When I was in the seventh grade, I was in a car accident and I’ll never forget. The guy that was driving the car was playing The Misfits, and the song Bullet was on. We rolled over three or four times. For some reason, that clicked with me. Anything Danzig ever did. Samhain was huge … Samhain and The Misfits were a huge influence with me. And Christian Death, too. Rozz Williams from Christian Death (rest in peace). That’s a huge influence. Any early 80’s hardcore, 60’s psychedelic, garage.
Mike: The reason I’m committed to playing music … I was learning bass in high school, and at first it was just something I was doing. My music teacher was dying of colon cancer, and he still took the time to help me out. He took it really seriously, and took his job really seriously, right up until he was terminally ill. I remember one day, he was teaching me a song we were doing for concert band, where I was the bass player. He had to run to the bathroom like, literally every five minutes, just running back and forth. I don’t know how much pain he was in, but I’m sure it was excruciating. The fact that he took the time to do that made me think ‘Alright, I’m gonna take this seriously.’ Because that guy, in his dying months, took time to teach me, when he really could have been doing something else.
Tommy: I always had an ear for music. My influences? Danzig’s old drummer, Chuck Biscuits. He’s one of my influences, because he’s simple, but tight. Music gets me through a lot of hard times.
How did you each start playing and how did your style evolve through the years?
Arthur: I was 11 when I first heard Jimi Hendrix. I wanted to play Jimi Hendrix. My mom bought me an acoustic guitar. I didn’t want an acoustic, so I smashed it. They eventually got me an electric, and I learned how to play Purple Haze and Manic Depression when I was 12. That’s pretty much when it started. I had my first band in high school with Tommy, almost 20 years ago, called Target Earth. We were a punk rock band. It was just a wonderful thing. I was lucky to have my mom and dad, who are blues and punk rockers. It was good to have that in my life.
Mike: I started playing bass guitar in high school, pretty old, I guess, for music industry standards. My parents didn’t want me to do it. They forbade me from doing it, but I did it anyway. They didn’t pay for my college because I wanted to study music. I did study audio as well, in college. Basically, my style was a big part of who was influencing me in high school, which was Cannibal Corpse, Lamb of God, A Life Once Lost … the really heavy stuff. I look at the tabs I did and I tried to be intricate even then. And fast. It’s something that I can’t completely get away from. I couldn’t do, like, a country gig on bass guitar.
Tommy : I started playing music when I was about 16. I actually started off playing bass. I was in couple bands playing bass. Arthur and I were jamming one day, and I snapped a bass string and I didn’t have a spare one. There was a drum set in the same area, so I said ‘screw it’ and I hopped on the drum set. And I decided I liked that better. I was lucky to have the support of my parents, because they didn’t give a shit what I did, as long as I was happy.
Do you play out around the punk scene and the metal scene?
Arthur: We just kinda get put in shows. I guess we do fit in, but I don’t like to consider ourselves as a heavy metal band. I like to say we’re rock n’roll. We’re loud. I don’t care if we’re sloppy, I just wanna rock. That’s what I have been wanting to do since I was 11 years old. I’m really blessed to have Tom and Mike as my rockin’ partners. We get put into punk rock shows, metal shows, anything really.
What are some of your favorite albums or bands?
Arthur: I really like the Vanilla Fudge Renaissance album. It came out in 1968, incredible psychedelic. In fact, Mark Stein got me into wanting to play the organ. I’d also have to say Seventh Son of a Seventh Son by Iron Maiden is a great album, Christian Death’s Theater of Pain, Misfits Earth AD, Samhain, anything by Danzig.
Mike: When I think of favorite albums, I think of several Lamb of God albums, the first album by A Life Once Lost. A Cannibal Corpse album. And Pelican, one of their latest releases I really like … I can’t remember the name off the top of my head. I like heavy metal, principally. That’s kind of what I go for. But I also like post rock; it’s weird, doesn’t feel like all that crap that’s being played on the radio.
Tommy: Flaw’s Through The Eyes, Iced Earth Horror Show. Any of The Misfits’ stuff, I like.
How did you start jamming together?
Arthur: Tom and I started Saturn’s Return about six years ago. We started out as a duo. We played about four shows as a duo, in Portland at The Flask. Our first bass player didn’t work out, so we got Mike, who I’d been playing with in FMP. And he’s just been great. I’m really happy with the way the lineup is now. He’s been really good at picking up, and he’s a great musician. It’s just a great group of guys that I’m able to play with.
Mike: Arthur joined FMP as the bass player, and then I heard Saturn’s Return needed a bass player, and I thought ‘Alright, I’ve played bass before, maybe I can do that.’ So, that’s basically how I joined the band.
That’s kind of an interesting situation: you guys flip flop roles in different bands. Does that influence anything? Or is it just kind of fun or weird or …?
Arthur: It’s fun! I started playing with FMP when Saturn’s Return went on a hiatus, looking for another bass player. I just needed to do something to keep myself sane. I had only played bass about 12 years ago, in another band. It was fun. I’ve been playing guitar and organ for a long time now, but I had never really played in a heavy metal band playing bass. And that was a bit of a challenge, but I enjoyed it.
What are your influences other than music?
Arthur: I like to play Warhammer 40,000 and Dungeons and Dragons. My six year-old son is a big influence. I also paint boats for a living. Mike: My influences outside of music? I just work a lot, try to pay the bills. I also do mastering and I am looking to get clients right now, because I mastered the latest album for Saturn’s Return and it came out really well.
Mike: I do basically the music thing and then audio engineering on the side.
Tommy: I work my butt off for Hannaford, to try and play the bills. My 10 year-old daughter is definitely an influence in my life. I have a couple dogs I enjoy walking. And I enjoy drawing, craft stuff … anything to keep my mind occupied.
What are your thoughts on Maine in general and the music scene here?
Arthur: I don’t think people go out like they used to. It’s hard to find shows where people aren’t walking around with their cell phones, staring at them. When I was in high school, I used to go to all-ages shows in East Bumfuck, at a town hall or something, and see like five bands play for three bucks. It just doesn’t seem like people know how to go out anymore. They’re slaves to technology. There are a lot of great bands, there’s a lot of talent, and we are very fortunate to play with a lot of those great bands. It’s not the bands, it’s the crowds and promoters that need help. That’s how I feel. I think there’s too much greed. The promoters want money from the bands and the bands don’t make money. I’d rather play a show for free, and not have anybody get paid, than have to sell tickets for shows and have the promoters get paid. Fuck that. It’s DIY all the way.
Mike: Bottom line is more people need to go to shows and needs to be more energy. I am only 27, and I remember things being different when I was a kid. I remember seeing Haste the Day and A Life Once Lost at The Station, and it was insane show, almost wall to wall mosh pits. Now, in this day and age, if there’s a pit, it’s like two or three people jumping around, hitting each other. At that show, there was a full pit. This was a small venue, but they brought it. It doesn’t feel like that happens anymore. The Cage has a lot of energy. But it just feels like Maine needs to participate more. People need to discover these bands and not ignore them.
Arthur: I have to say Geno’s in Portland is great. Since they moved from Brown Street, they still have a great venue. And you’ve got Alan Moore at the Skybox in Westbrook. He’s a great guy. He’s a musician himself, so he’s all about the bands. I remember going to places like Barbaloots, and the Elvis Room in Portsmouth, NH, and it was always packed. Always packed.
Do you think the economy has anything to do with it?
Arthur: I don’t think it does. I think it’s people not having the motivation to get off the computer and go out. They can say they like a band, and when the band comes to play their town, they’re still at home. I’d rather get off the computer and go see some bands.
Favorite movie and/or book?
Arthur: I really like Dr. Strangelove. My favorite book is probably The Sword of Shannara, written by Terry Brooks.
Mike: I’d have to say my favorite movie is Fight Club. It’s hard to say, because I also like The Dark Knight a lot. My favorite book … I really liked Harry Potter, but when I was a kid, I liked The Giver. And of course, there’s always 1984. If I had to reread a book, it would probably be The Giver.
Tommy: My favorite movie is Braveheart, Bram Stoker’s Dracula with Gary Oldman I liked so much I got him tattooed on my back. Any kind of vampire movie, I like. Books, to tell you the truth, I like Scary Stories To Tell In The Dark. It reminds me of something back in my childhood.
What do you have coming up?
Arthur: We had a CD come out in 2012-2103 and we’ve had Mike remastering the songs for us. I’ve got new songs to bring to the band. I’m really itching to put out a new album and I even have some live recording that I’m going to release too. All our CDs, we just give away. I don’t care about money, I just want people to enjoy it and listen to it. Tommy: I don’t like rock stars or arrogant people. Nine times out of ten, we don’t get paid for a gig, but why do we do it? Because we love it. Arthur: No one has ever done this kind of music thinking you’re gonna have a number one hit. Punk rock has never been like that. If you have expectations, you’re gonna be disappointed. We care about making people’s ear bleed … maybe making them cry a little bit.
How did you pick the name Saturn’s Return?
Arthur: On my 29th birthday, it was 4.29.09, and I was talking to a friend who was an astrologist, and she said ‘Oh, you’re having your Saturn’s Return.’ I said ‘That’s a great name for a band.’ She explained it to me. It’s usually around your 29thor 30th birthday. It’s that moment in your life where you have a moment of clarity, and you’re pretty much being who you are, and you’re coming to the realization that this is who you are. It’s a moment of clarity and maturity of what defines you, and not having to impress other people. Most people, when they do go through their Saturn’s Return, they don’t even realize it.