June 1, 2015 Interview – Travis Bartosek of Abiotic
The Sunshine State of Florida has been a birthing ground for Death Metal bands for over three decades now. Hailing back to the beginnings of bands like Obituary, Morbid Angel, and Malevolent Creation, the scene has always been rich with some of the strongest bands in the scene. Fast-forward to the modern Death Metal scene, hailing from the city of Miami is a relatively young band combining technical and progressive elements in their own brand of Death Metal, calling themselves Abiotic. Coming together in 2010, the band released their major label full-length album Symbiosis in 2012 via Metal Blade Records. Building a name for themselves touring, the band added new vocalist Travis Bartosek in 2014 and immediately threw him into the fire for their sophomore album Casuistry. Releasing the record in April of 2015, the band is turning heads with Bartosek on vocals and a more mature sound than ever before. Recently we sat down with Bartosek to talk his joining Abiotic, recording Casuistry, touring, Horror movies, and much more.
CrypticRock.com – Abiotic began five years ago and has been building a name for themselves in the Metal scene. You took over as vocalist in 2014. How did you become involved with the band?
Travis Bartosek – A good friend of mine, Rob Maramonte from the band The Zenith Passage, got me in contact with the band. He told me a band on Metal Blade Records needed a vocalist and I was instantly on board. I talked to John, sent in a couple tryout tracks, and the band enjoyed me enough to make me a permanent member.
CrypticRock.com – Interesting, so is it safe to say it was immediately a good connection between yourself and the band?
Travis Bartosek – Oh yeah, we all connected very easily and it has been like we have been friends for years.
CrypticRock.com –That is great to hear that. Seeing you came into a band after they already released a well-received album with 2012’s Symbiosis, did you at all feel there was an added pressure coming into the fold?
Travis Bartosek – There was a lot of pressure actually. I was twenty-two when I joined, and I had never been in a band on this level. Whenever a band gets a new vocalist, it can make or break a band. Thankfully, so far, the reception has been amazing and everyone is enjoying the new direction the band is going in.
CrypticRock.com – Going in a new direction can be difficult for band, and of course the fans. Are you comfortable now as the vocalist of the band, and do feel the transition has been relatively natural for the band?
Travis Bartosek – I am a lot more comfortable than I thought I would be at this point. The transition was extremely easy between everyone, the band and fans accepted me very quickly.
CrypticRock.com – That is a very positive thing. You immediately made your presence known on the band’s recently released album, Casuistry. What was the writing and recording process like?
Travis Bartosek – The writing process was a little odd at first. Everyone in the band is from South Florida and I live in San Francisco. I had met these guys once and then had to write an album. They were all super easy-going and let me have free range of writing. That took a lot of pressure off. Recording was the smoothest process, Jamie King was very easy to work with and made the tracking process comfortable. We were able to knock everything out very quickly.
CrypticRock.com – That is great that you were given that much freedom, considering it was your first record with the band. Was there an overall consensus of what direction Abiotic wanted to go as a whole with this album?
Travis Bartosek – The guys just told me to make it dark and do not hold back. They wanted this album to be more mature across the board, so I took that and ran with it, and luckily we were all on the same page.
CrypticRock.com – It certainly is a relentless piece of Metal from start to finish. The album also comes across more refined than the previous album. That is obviously going to happen as a band progresses. Is everyone in the band satisfied with the outcome of the tracks?
Travis Bartosek – We all love them and are beyond proud of the album. The guys have been working on Casuistry for a couple years now and to see it in people’s hands now is the best feeling.
CrypticRock.com – That has to be a fantastic feeling. You mentioned earlier that the overall reception from fans has been positive and you had never been involved with a band on this level in your life. With that said, in the time you have been with Abiotic, what are some of the most important things you have learned?
Travis Bartosek – I learned that plane rides by yourself are awful (laughs). Obviously the guys have a lot more touring experience than I do, and I have learned how to really conserve my voice during the day, and also learned how to become a better frontman due to a lot of helpful pointers from the rest of the band.
CrypticRock.com – It can definitely be tough to travel a lot, but it is good you have the support of your bandmates. Labels can be very limiting. It seems in Metal, there are so many sub-genres that it can make your head spin at times. Are Abiotic comfortable with the sub-genre label of Progressive Deathcore, or do you not concern yourselves with labels?
Travis Bartosek – All sub-genres do is limit bands. Collectively, we all love heavy, fast music, so that is what we write.
CrypticRock.com – That is a good outlook to find and not be swallowed up by all the labels. You do not want to limit yourself as a musician. Seeing you have been a part of the band through live performances and a full-length album, how would you describe the overall chemistry at this point?
Travis Bartosek – The chemistry is working well because we come from different backgrounds. I played in less technical bands to where the stage show was the most important, so I try and implement that into Abiotic.
CrypticRock.com – Sometimes coming from different backgrounds can make for very interesting music. The band recently completed a tour across the USA. How did the tour go this time around?
Travis Bartosek – The tour was great! We were all extremely sick, but the crowds really helped us pull through.
CrypticRock.com – Speaking of being sick, as mentioned, being on the road can be very tough. How do you try and manage a healthy lifestyle when touring?
Travis Bartosek – We all try and eat a lot of fruits and veggies, a lot of canned tuna, and we try, keyword try, to exercise, but that does not work as planned 99% of the time.
CrypticRock.com – Well it is good to hear you are making the efforts to stay healthy on the road. You mentioned you come from a different background from the rest of the band. What are some of your musical influences?
Travis Bartosek – Whitechapel, Cannibal Corpse, Dimmu Borgir, and The Ghost Inside just to name a few of my main influences.
CrypticRock.com – That is a healthy mix of Metal bands. My last question for you is pertaining to movies. CrypticRock.com covers music and Horror films. If you are a fan of Horror films, what are some of your favorite Horror films?
Travis Bartosek – Oh man, I love Horror movies. I actually spend a lot of my downtime watching one star Horror movies on Netflix, but I digress. Some of my all-time favorites are Poltergeist (1982), Hellraiser (1987), The Evil Dead (1981), Friday the 13th (1980), Sinister (2012), Carrie (1976), and Pet Sematary (1989). I could seriously go on and on.
CrypticRock.com – Wonderful to hear you are so into Horror films. Sometimes the more endearing quality about a Horror film is that it is not always serious. You mentioned some classic Horror films there. Are you interested in seeing the recently released new Poltergeist film?
Travis Bartosek – I am not as excited as most people, I am not a fan of remakes. Nine out of ten of them suck. One of the only good remakes I can really think of is Evil Dead (2013).
CrypticRock.com – Yes, sadly many of the remakes are not very well done. What is your opinion on practical makeup effects opposed to the over usage of CGI in modern Horror films?
Travis Bartosek – CGI ruins everything, except Sharknado (2013). There are too many animated effects and it ruins the authenticity to me. I like to put myself in the characters’ shoes when I watch Horror films, which is why I find them so terrifying. It is extremely hard to get in that zone when 70% of the movie is CGI. Makeup artists are so much further than they were in the ’80s when a lot of classic Horror films were coming out. Why not capitalize on that?