Art Copyright Affiance, 2012
Dennis Tvrdik, lead singer of the Cleveland-based Metalcore band Affiance, was kind enough to talk to us after their set at Radiant in Nutley, NJ on July 1, 2012.
From their Facebook: We are a band that strongly believes in the pursuit of truth and happiness. In order to achieve these ideals we must delve into concepts and that we often don’t want to think about. We hope that through our music we can inspire people to think for themselves and be pro-active in society.
SiqScene News: So you guys are from Cleveland, Ohio. What’s it been like coming out and touring in different states, especially New Jersey?
Dennis: It’s awesome seeing new places, finding great places to eat, and just experiencing different parts of our country and hopefully other countries. I mean, we’ve done Canada but it’s really been only the U.S.
SSN: We heard that you actually got discovered in New Jersey while you were playing a show in a hurricane; what was that like?
Dennis: Yeah. Actually, Josh Grabelle, the owner of Bullet Tooth came and saw us, and he was like “WHOA!” (laughs) and he offered up a deal, and after some negotiations and deep thought, we, uh…Fresh Fruit. (laughs)
SSN: What is your favorite state or city to play in?
SSN: Besides Cleveland
Dennis: Oh. Honestly, joking aside, New Jersey is definitely in my top ten. I wouldn’t say it’s number one. Let’s see…Buffalo and Rochester. Western New York is like our second home. New Jersey, Indiana, San Antonio, Austin, Texas. St. Petersburg Florida. We have a weird spread. Las Vegas. That’s weird, huh? Lansing, Michigan. Madison, Wisconsin…
SSN: Are you just going to keep naming cities until I cut you off?
Dennis: Fresh Fruit.
SSN: So who’s your favorite band to tour with?
Dennis: That’s tough. Musically, probably This or the Apocalypse. Friendshipwise, it’s probably a three-way tie between Sirens and Sailors, The Color Morale, and Across the Sun. But I see the Sirens and Sailors dudes all the time, so they’re not as special. (laughs) No, they really are special.
SSN: If you could play a show with any four other bands, who would it be? Like a dream show. Alive or dead, band still together or broken up.
Dennis: Oh, you mean musically. I think politically. See, I’m a manager so I think ‘Justin Bieber, Katy Perry, Five Finger Death Punch’, just, you know, get a million people there and we’ll play in front of them. (laughs) But musically, um, Iron Maiden…this is tough. Linkin Park, Thrice, and- this show’s never gonna happen- and Muse. It’ll never happen but it would be the coolest thing ever. Thrice is breaking up, it’s depressing.
SSN: Yeah, I heard that.
Dennis: But realistically, a realistic tour that I would love- August Burns Red, As I Lay Dying, Killswitch Engage, Iron Maiden. We would open it up. For free, we wouldn’t get paid. (laughs) We’d probably have to pay fifty grand to play.
SSN: Where did the name “Affiance” come from?
Dennis: It means to betroth in faith and confidence. The word Fiancé comes from the word Affiance. We’re not about getting married or anything like that, but in the olden days, this was the highest form of verbal agreement. Trust, confidant, I am a man of my word. That’s pretty much what it means to us, we are men of our word. That’s not to say that we’re perfect, we’re not perfect. We make mistakes. We do stupid things sometimes but we try to be, you know, men.
SSN: You like to employ your full vocal range onstage. What made you want to do that, and did you have any serious vocal training?
Dennis: I never had any vocal training, and I discovered my voice, kind of, singing Iron Maiden in Junior High because I could actually do it. And then I was a basketball player and on the bus rides to the away games my friend and I would sing N’SYNC and Backstreet Boys. I’m a little older than most of our fans and it was still cool to listen to those bands when I was in high school. It was like 2000. Yeah, we would sing. 98 Degrees, O-Town. It was horrible but we sang it. And then my girlfriend at the time convinced me to join show choir and I stopped playing basketball. And then I wanted to be mayor of Cleveland so I didn’t sing for a while. But then one day I felt this calling to music and I decided to start a band and that was when I was 22. And I turn 28 in 9 days.
SSN: Well Happy Birthday…in 9 days.
Dennis: How old are you?
SSN: 19. 20 in October.
Dennis: So I’m 8 years older than you. When I was 18, you were 10.
Dennis: Oh, I was just pointing it out.
SSN: What made you guys decide to cover “The Final Countdown”?
Dennis: I could sing it. I’m not the biggest fan of the covers that have been coming out by other bands in our scene in the last few years. Most of them are of rap or pop songs, and my biggest argument is that if they tried to cover a song from 20 or 30 years ago, they would epically fail. For example, I don’t care who you are, you don’t cover Queen. You just don’t do it. I wouldn’t cover Queen. Second, all of the other songs that I’ve heard that are like, Classic Rock, unless they’re a pop punk band who can actually carry a tune- they’ve been garbage. So we were like “alright, we’re going to do covers because we want to do covers, but every cover we do is going to be a song that came out before I was old enough to, I don’t know, walk to the store without supervision.” So like, mid-nineties and older. We want to do a Boston song one day, we want to do an Iron Maiden song; we want to do a Dio song- we want to do Alice in Chains.
SSN: How does it feel having a song that’s playable on Rock Band?
Dennis: Really cool, until you find out that pretty much anyone can get a song on Rock Band these days. But it’s cool to think that kids can, you know, play our song and try to sing. Interesting fact, I sang it once on expert and I got 98%…doesn’t make sense does it?
SSN: Do you think you’ve gained a lot of fans from having Call to the Warrior released on Rock Band?
Dennis: No, I think the music video has really been the biggest thing that’s helped us. Everything has pretty much been us- our label is awesome, but they’re not a huge label. They can’t just go “Hey you, do this.” Especially since (Josh Grabelle) basically started over with Bullet Tooth. We love him- but essentially, we’ve never had a manager and we’ve only had short stints with booking agents. We’ve never really had the same opportunities as bands on some of the bigger labels. Bands that, you know, come out of nowhere and are on the coolest tour instantly. That’s not our story; we’re kind of the exact opposite. We worked our butts off, we shot our own music videos, and we’re organically growing our fanbase, but we’ve never been on a big tour. The biggest tour we’ve been on was Close Your Eyes, The Color Morale, and Like Moths to Flames. I mean, we toured with Memphis May Fire before they became a widely known band. So having that music video, by far, has been the biggest thing that helped get that song out there. People sometimes don’t even know that the song is on Rock Band. They think we just made it up. It’s kind of funny. People are silly.
SSN: What made you choose your particular genre?
Dennis: It’s weird. Like, what genre are we? We’ve been compared to Taking Back Sunday. What’s really weird is the fact that the three bands you’d think we’d get compared to- Iron Maiden, Protest the Hero, and Killswitch Engage- we never get compared to. Anyway, the reason we chose this sound was really because of the passion and the intensity of performing it live. And, you know, if I wanted to be a pop artist- like a singer-songwriter, I’d get lost in the crowd. But, singing in metal, if I really, really went for it and hung in there, I could potentially be one of the greatest metal singers of all time. I’m really, really far away from that. (laughs) But I want to, you know, be the Bruce Dickinson of our generation.
SSN: What is your advice to other bands who want to do this? Bands that maybe want to have a similar sound to you guys.
Dennis: I would encourage them to find their own sound. (laughs) But, in all seriousness, there’s way too many bands. There’s an extreme saturation of the same cookie-cutter sound over and over and over. I know that if you want to be in metal there’s only so much you can do, but successful bands have a niche. If you look at bands like The Devil Wears Prada- they’re huge. And they will continue to be huge and successful because they have their own sound. Nobody sounds like them specifically. Between Mike’s voice, his scream, and the synth work- a shoutout to my boy James Baney, who is unfortunately not in the band anymore- they have a niche. August Burns Red has a niche. They figured out a way to be catchy without ever having to sing, and that’s awesome. You know, their drumming and guitar work is awesome. You gotta have a certain thing. With us, you know, I love our music but it’s not anything crazy new. It’s me that’s new. Our niche is my voice singing over that stuff. If you replaced me with a screamer, we might be a copycat. We shred a little more than your average metalcore band, but still.
SSN: What would you like to say to people who haven’t heard of you before?
Dennis: Sick of listening to the same thing over and over? Wanna hear somebody who can actually sing live? Do you like metal? Real metal? Man metal?? I mean, ladies too like man metal. What I mean by ‘man metal’ is that it’s not boy metal. Boy metal is like- “bum bum bum bum ‘Look at my hair’ bum bum bum bum ‘We’re wearing the same clothes’ bum bum bum bum ‘I look like you and you’re attracted to me I don’t know why.’” Women like Man Metal.
SSN: Anything else you want to say?
Dennis: Fresh Fruit…I don’t know. I’m kind of a goofball, aren’t I? Our lyrics are serious. Our lyrics are very serious. We’re actually trying to start a revolution with music. Our fourth album- there’s going to be like, codes in there and stuff. There’s gonna be breakdown rhythms, and it’s going to be morse code. (laughs) I’m only partially joking. I mean, I’ve got “Freedom” and “Justice” on my arms. Someone’s gotta pay for that.
SSN: Alright, well thank you for talking to us. You guys were great.
Dennis: Thank you.
Affiance is Dennis Tvrdik on Vocals, Brett Wondrak on Guitar, Dominic Dickinson on Guitar, Cameron Keeter on Bass, and Patrick Galante on Drums.
Affiance’s newly-released single “You Will Be Replaced” is available on iTunes, along with their 2007 EP Calm Before the Storm and their 2010 album No Secret Revealed.