Russ Tippins & Cindy Maynard


Oceans of articles can be written how the fantasy related material changed Rock and Metal music, but in every album, these mystical aspects come to life differently. Coming about after a great debut album, in the spirit of vintage Rock and Metal streams, Tanith, led by Satan's Russ Tippins and Cindy Maynard, is ongoing a "Voyage" as their second album. Steinmetal had a great talk with the two about the entire experience the led to the album and beyond
June 6, 2023
Tanith's Russ Tippins: "What? LoL I'm not really a frontman - I'm a guitar player who can sing in tune..." interview
Hello guys, it is once again amazing to have you for this interview to feature the latest going on the Tanith camp, how have you been doing?

Russ: Hi again Lior! Well since you asked, life has been a blur lately, having been so busy with Tanith recording /filming/promo & launch party in New York. In amongst all of that I managed to complete a four-week US tour with Satan. My feet have barely touched the ground since September. I'm still trying come back down to Earth…

It has been a while since our last talk, following the release of your debut album, "In Another Time", back in 2019. A lot has happened since then, with Covid striking and the war in the East to add to it. Certainly, lots to digest. How do you find this period of time we are living in with all these major things affecting our social order?

Russ: Such turbulent times yes, and the pandemic seemed to bring out the worst in human beings don't you think? It almost feels like civilization has started regressing into mob rule. Tolerance is being forced out of the mainstream to the fringes and the UK is gradually becoming a police state with the latest security measures being rushed through Parliament.

After the release of "In Another Time", I guess that it wasn't that possible to support it, especially with the pandemic on the rise and sorts. In your opinion, do you feel that other than the public ear listening to the record, the debut album was totally missed on the live front?

Cindy: We managed a tour in Europe in the fall of 2019, so we are thankful we got to do that and share our music with so many people over those few weeks. Our plans for 2020 touring did fall through unfortunately though and yeah, I feel like we missed a chance there on the live front, to share it with people but also to get the time together to play as a band.

When it comes to the energies to make another record, I was glad to find out that the waiting game didn't take you on and you simply waited for the world to open again in order to jump on the wagon. Nonetheless, it would be interesting to know if you were actually working on new Tanith material while being stranded from the rest of the band in the UK?

Russ: Of course. Even maybe a full year before the shutdown, we had song ideas & audio sketches. The first thing we had to tackle was Seven Moons since we already had the lyric for that one since 2018. We just had to get the music together and there was our first completely new song! We also had rough blueprints for Flame, and Mother of Exile. All this was before Covid.

Your new record, "Voyage", no doubt a journey that has a lot of tales to share, was a kind of struggle, in particular with your second guitarist leaving the band right when he was set to track. A kind of shocker, and total bummer, to say the least. Looking back at that moment when he simply didn't come back, what were you thinking? Were there thoughts of "the hell with it"?

Cindy: Yeah it was a shock, felt completely out of nowhere and really disappointing tbh. Once we realized he wasn't returning after a few days, we switched gears and put all our focus into finishing the recording. Russ learned the second guitar parts and we brought in a guest guitarist for the second guitar solos. Our determination to finish the record and make it the best we could really brought us together. I'd like the think the record is all the better for it.

Let's look at "Voyage" as a concept. I understand that it can also be a sort of memory lane run since you guys were apart due to the pandemic. However, it is also a kind of taking a flight to space or simply staring at the stars, but really starring. What is your opinion in regards to what this title represents?

Cindy: Keith our drummer pointed out that everything and anything we do in this band in person starts with a Voyage since we are on both sides of the Atlantic- it's true. With the music and lyrics as well, it just feels like a voyage into another realm. Even the subject matter involves different characters taking voyages of sorts, whether it's an actual voyage as in Adrasteia or an internal voyage as in Snow Tiger or Never Look Back.  And with Charlie leaving the band, this is a new step for the three of us, venturing into uncharted territory.

I know that there is a crossing with our reality with "Flame" as a form to unite the people, yet, the rest of the record is out there. Are there additional hints of the connection between the universe that you created and our daily lives or perhaps even opinions that you wished to share but being cryptic about it?

Russ: Yes Lior it is certainly 'out there' hah. I know what you mean - in this band we love to portray imagery of fantasy, mythology & sci-fi but you are right - Flame is probably the nearest we have come to addressing real world issues in the present time. Even so, it is kind of allegorical. When the narrative talks about the darkness, it's not referring to the virus itself, but the effect it had on human behavior and the breakdown of common sense and compassion. Many first world nations were being led by enablers of such misanthropy. And the 'flame' itself represents a light at the end of the tunnel - the return of sensible government.

Cindy: Olympus by Dawn is a true story, about a turning point in our 2019 tour. Snow tiger is about perseverance, something we as individuals have to deal with constantly. So yes, even though there is a lot of outright fantasy in the songs, there are also some allegorical stories about real life.

Another proof that "Voyage" is a different experience is due to its artwork, which is definitely taking a walk on the wild side of the haze. What can you tell of the vision that surrounded this artwork and how it expresses the title?

Cindy: The art is a visual representation straight out of our Galantia trilogy- it's the new world we sing about in the song Seven Moons. We had the same artist, that painted In Another Time, Luke Cantarella, do this cover as well. We wanted a really eye catching and more iconic cover this time, but also hand-painted as the last one was. We are very pleased with how it turned out.

On the debut album I was amazed by the nostalgic spirituality of Tanith, yet with "Voyage" now that is how a youthful listener can imagine the proto-Heavy Metal, and Hard Rock, of the 70s. There is a lot in the record musically, based on rich melodies and crispy chops and tempos. How do you find "Voyage" as the next in line progress of the band?

Cindy: There's definitely a sense of innocence I hear when I listen back to In Another Time. To my ears, Voyage is more progressive and mature in some ways. We pushed ourselves musically for these new songs and the result is a really cohesive record that 'lands'. Having a couple songs in major keys also makes the music more accessible.

Other than finding the hook in the tracks, which made me happier as I expected something more constructive, what can you tell about the process of the songwriting of "Voyage"?

Russ: Thanks Lior, you're not the only one who has remarked on the melodic content throughout. We did take great care to make sure the technical passages did not outweigh the melody. A lot of these songs were written on an acoustic guitar for two voices, and they actually work on that level too. It's super easy to lose that immediacy when starting to layer multiple instruments so you have to keep that objective in sight.

What made you tick this time around while writing the songs when it comes to the influences that aided you in making this journey come alive?

Cindy: Speaking for the bass, I listened to a lot of the Uriah Heep live record specifically while walking around during the pandemic and really got even more into the way Gary Thain plays. I also relistened to a fair amount of Bob Daisley on the early Ozzy records, as a reminder how simple lines are often the most effective, which helped me on Architects and Falling wizard. Geddy Lee and Joe Bouchard inspired my Olympus by Dawn parts. Really, it's about finding what fits the song stylistically in your own voice having had good influences like these guys lol.

We talked about it before, but I think that on "Voyage" you came about with your best vocal performance to date. Were you pushing yourself to the limit there? Didn't it feel to you like a sort of miss that you haven't sung as a frontman earlier on?

Russ: What? LoL I'm not really a frontman - I'm a guitar player who can sing in tune, but thanks for the compliment. I mean, I do enjoy performing these songs live but I don't ever liaise with an audience. As a spectator I admire true frontmen who can engage with and establish a repartee with the public. Tanith is not that kind of band, we have to rely solely on our music to win people over.

The record sounds genuine and I was looking to read if it was recorded analogue and gladly it was. This is quite the expensive process, and I can assume that you will tell me that it is worth the trouble. How do you find the end results of the record? What do you think about your engineer?

Cindy: We are spoiled now as its going to be hard to ever go to digital with this band! There's a quality to the analogue sound that is just so wonderful and warm and real. I can hear the difference and yes, recording to tape is absolutely worth it. The human quality that the tape captures is everything.

Our engineer Hugh is a great guy to work with and really good at thinking of ways to get some really cool sounds in the studio. He also has so much vintage gear which is a big part of getting the best sounds.

I was over the top when I listened to "Olympus by Dawn". Actually, part of the main riff sounds like the ending of the "Stranger Things" series intro, other than the spirit of Blue Oyster Cult looming. But other than that, I think that concept wise and vocally, it majestically brings back to life a lost era. What is your take on this tune?

Cindy: This song is one of my favorites from the album.. It's got a great vibe and builds nicely from start to finish, always with something interesting happening.  A lot of things came together on this song when writing as well as on the recording- from the vocals, to Andee Blacksugar's guitar solo, to Russ using a slide on one of the parts, to getting the mix in a really nice spot. So I guess it was meant to be.  It's definitely one of my favorite bass parts to play too!

Funnily enough, when we were running short on time in the studio and thinking of cutting a track to save time and money, Russ had thought this track might be up for cutting. I would have never gone with that idea though lol.

Hmm I'll have to go back and relisten to the Stranger Things intro as I don't remember it. I don't think Russ has seen that show either, so wouldn't have heard it.

"Architects of Time" is a massive NWOBHM delivery with a crunch, hard to resist its magical sense honestly. It would be awesome to get to know the story of it a little more, and to hear about the songwriting process of this number

Cindy: Architects is something we started on early in the pandemic. The theme is an imaginary proposition of how the universe could have been created which tries to marry the concept of a creator with the official scientific explanation. In its first incarnation, I had put down a click track with an acoustic guitar and a vocal melody with uh, a 'working lyric'. ie. words which I knew would have to be rewritten but are just there to establish the vocal melody. When I emailed that to the band, Keith seemed to dig it but Cindy and Charlie were pretty underwhelmed hah. In fact, it got shelved for two years and nearly didn't make it onto the new record. Sometimes you have to let go of something in your conscious mind before you can come back to it with new ears, so to speak.

On "Seven Moons (Galantia Pt. 2)" I listened to one of your best moments as a vocalist, as if you approached this one with one hell of an energy surge in your voice. Also, the musical end is off the charts, energetic, melodic and decisive. What can you tell about this track?

Russ: As you may know, this piece was supposed to be on our first LP as part 2 of the 'Galantia' trilogy but we didn't have the music for it and studio time ran out. So we released parts 1 & 3 (Citadel & Wing of the Owl) respectively on 'In Another Time'. Yes it's kind of odd to later release part 2 out of sequence but there is an aspect of quantum physics about that which isn't out of keeping with this band! I'm glad you appreciate the musical input, it's kind of an epic and the middle breakdown section was Charlie's parting gift to Tanith. It's in 7/8 time and finally I persuaded Cindy to record a Bass solo! That is so prog rock and it rules.

Looking at the live front, now with a possible new guitarist as replacement, how does your schedule look to support the record?

Cindy: We are ready to play, we want to play and we are working on making that happen! We have Dino Destroyer from the band Natur playing guitar with us, and our album release show went really well. Hopefully we will do runs in the US and in Europe beginning this fall and again next year.

Guys, again, thank you sir for your time for this talk, I found the record amazing and your voice had to be heard about it. All the best

Russ: Appreciate you reaching out Lior and all your comments! My best wishes

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