White Arms of Athena's Tom Sifuentes: "The Metal Scene in Dallas is Getting Bigger"

Many bands start out with big dreams and big plans. But very few of them even make it to studio, much less get a recording contract. Most bands go at it a few years, play a few bars and then the members go on to other bands or go back to their day jobs for good.

This is not the case with Mesquite's White Arms of Athena.

Somehow, this progressive metal outfit hung together for five years before finally making the commitment to get serious about making music. A demo recording made in 2008 caught the attention of producer James King and two years later, White Arms of Athena were heading to North Carolina to make their debut album.

That disc, Astrodrama, is set to hit the shelves in a few days and in anticipation of Saturday night's CD release party at Pitcher's Sports Bar in Arlington, bassist Tom Sifuentes was happy to share his thoughts about various things metallic with the readers of DC9.

Check out our Q&A with Sifuentes after the jump.

The band has been around since 2005. Why wait so long to record your first full length?
We did a few demos here and there since 2005, just seeing what we could come up with, but we recently decided that we had to up our game. After we released a demo in 2008, it took us two years to get the full-length ready. It's taken a while, but we are real excited about the finished product.

James King, who has worked with Between the Buried and Me, produced your album. Were you excited to work with him?
Of course. Hearing all of King's past work, we knew that he would give us the best possible sound. For our type of music, we figured he'd be good for us. We could not be happier.

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What do you consider to be your type of music?
We play progressive metal. It's really in the realm of metal but we go off and do jazz parts and alternative sounding parts, but it all stays within the realm of metal. King is really known for his work with that style of music. He produced Between the Buried and Me and they are one of our favorite bands. Those guys are progressive metal in even sense of the term. They were very influential on us. Between the Buried and Me's album Alaska really changed us. Listening to that album made us more serious about our music. We decided right then to record a CD.

Dallas certainly isn't known for its progressive metal scene. What do you think about the metal scene in North Texas?
You just got to look hard. A few years ago, I didn't think you could find too many metal bands, but that has changed. There are some veteran metal bands in the area that play all sorts of metal. There are some great metal bands in Dallas. Kill the Client is one of the many great metal bands out of Dallas. Not a lot of people know about that band because you have to really look for that kind of stuff. I'd say in the past few years, the metal scene is getting bigger. I know our shows have gotten bigger. Dallas is coming up.

Progressive metal is big in Europe. What do Europeans know that Americans don't?
I really don't know. That's a good question. One of our biggest goals is to tour Europe. You see these videos of these bands playing to huge crowds at festivals and then they come over here and play in tiny clubs.

Are there good venues for metal in our area?
I say that the best spot is The Door. The owner there is very, very supportive of us. He actually booked our very first show way back when. I think that venue books a lot of good bands in a lot of different genres. Other than that, there are only a few places that will let us play. There are little bars here and there.

White Arms of Athena is an interesting choice for a band name. Where did you come up with it? Were you afraid that the name would not sound like a metal band?
I came up with the name. I was in ninth grade -- in freshman English. We were reading about Athena and her sister Hera, the white-armed goddess. In the story, Athena tried to take Hera's role, trying to defend Hera's mother when Hera should have. To me, Athena took on the role of the white-armed goddess. I remember writing that out on paper and seeing how cool it looked. I thought I had a cool name, but everyone else was confused by it. We get a lot of people who don't think we are a metal band. I was just young and looking for a name.

On the band's website, you list some surprising influences -- bands like Pink Floyd and the Mars Volta. How much have those bands actually influenced you?
All of those bands have influenced us. Those bands made it big by doing their own thing. Another band that did that was Tool. That's the road we want to take. You can be extreme and still make it and I think those bands showed that it was possible.

How did the band get signed to Prosthetic Records?
Jamie King, our producer, had a big part in helping us get signed. One we got the mastered version of the album completed, we started sending it to all sorts of people. We got contacted by this European label that's not well known in the U.S., but the talks kind of went sour. Jamie really wanted to help us out and he got us in contact with an attorney who works with Between the Buried and Me. He really liked our stuff and he sent our stuff to the folks at Prosthetic. They had thought we had already been signed by another label. They got a contract to us very quickly.

White Arms of Athena performs with Lizard Professor, Nociceptor, Urizen and In Search of Sight on Saturday, July 30, at Pitchers Sports Bar in Arlington.

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