Can you give a brief summary of your vocal history; how you started, who/what inspired you, and where you are now? I've been singing and screaming for my entire life. My parents can attest to the nastiness of the shrieks I was punishing everyone with as a tiny person. When I was about 11 or 12, I found a love for Linkin Park, Slipknot, and System of a Down. Nu Metal was a huge gateway into extreme music styles and vocals for me. I remember spending hours in my bedroom or my car singing and screaming along to stuff back in high school and I guess that hasn’t stopped.
I was a member of my school's concert choir, show choir and continued to work on vocal performance through choir when I went to college. When I first joined a band in high school I was playing guitar and then when I started a deathcore band in my freshman year of college I only had backing vocal duties. I then started Mithya in 2013 with my buddy Michael FritzKapps and got to be on vocal duty for the first time.
I was inspired a lot by guys like Rody Walker (Protest the Hero), Spencer Sotelo (Periphery), and Devin Townsend. They are all dudes who seemed to be able to effortlessly switch up their vocal approach, grows and shrieks, pure cleans and everything in between. I owe a lot of my vocal chops to their material. Through Mithya I've had the chance to play with many of the bands I looked up to in high school, got to go on my first tour, released an EP, and made a lot of awesome friends and connections in the industry, including my bandmate in Greylotus, Drewsif. Drew took me on tour with him as Drewsif Stalin's Musical Endeavors' vocalist in 2017 and 2018 and that experience really solidified my love for touring so I'm excited to see what the road still has in store for us.
Who would you consider to be your vocal idols now? Devin Townsend (Strapping Young Lad, Devin Townsend Project), and Anthony Green (Saosin, Circa Survive, The Sound of Animals Fighting) have been my vocal idols for a long long time, not sure if I’d have been inspired to become a vocalist without them. I’d also like to mention Elliot Coleman (Good Tiger), Phil Bozeman (Whitechapel), Trevor Strnad (The Black Dahlia Murder), Sam Carter (Architects), Laure Le Prunenec (Igorrr), and Travis Ryan (Cattle Decapitation) as well. There’s a lot of amazingly talented people in the game right now.
How long have you been a student at Extreme Vocal Institute?
I’ve only officially been a student for about a month, but I’ve known David for a year or two now and we’ve exchanged ideas and discussed techniques casually as acquaintances over that time so I came into this already knowing that David is THE dude.
Since working with David at Extreme Vocal Institute, how have you seen yourself grow as a vocalist and a performer? Dave has helped me better understand the physical mechanisms I use to make the sounds I make and he's given me advice on what to physically change in my approach to more easily create the tones I’m after in my vocals. I’ve heard and felt my growls become lower and fuller in only a month’s time and those are results you can't argue with.
Can you describe something that you’ve been working on at EVI? Greylotus has a tour coming up in April and Dave and I have been working on increasing vocal stamina, improving technique to protect my vocal health, and widening my range of screams I can produce comfortably. And he’s been teaching me more about my vocal anatomy to better understand what I’m feeling when I’m singing and how to use my breath and energy more effectively. From jaw, tongue, and neck placement, to performance posture, and air control. Dave's got tips for everything.
Can you talk a little bit about joining Greylotus this year? What excites you about the project? Well firstly, I’m beyond excited to get to be a part of a musical project with some of the nicest and hardest working dudes I’ve ever met. Drew[sif] Reynolds (bass), Ben Towles (guitar), Sanjay Kumar (guitar), and Matt Tillet (drums) are all insane at what they do and it’s a privilege to have the opportunity to perform with them. Come see us on tour this spring with Abiotic, Cognitive, and God of Nothing and you'll see what I mean. Secondly, I'm happy to be a part of a project that allows me to focus more on the more technical aspects of extreme vocal technique. The songs are full of quick vocal style changes and rapid-fire lyrics and that's kept my practice material really challenging and fun.
Do you have any advice to give to aspiring vocalists? Anything that you wish someone had said to you when you were starting? If being a vocalist is what you want to do, stop telling yourself that you can’t. Don’t be afraid to fail and let nothing stop you. Remember that there’s always more to learn, that nobody is perfect, and to be kind to yourself along the way.
I guess I’ll pass on one of the most inspiring things ever said to me: Any greatness you see in me or in any other musician, is a reflection of the potential within yourself. If you want this, you can do it.
Catch Lee on tour with Greylotus this spring! You can also follow him on Instagram @leevitalized - - - Interview conducted by Rilee Dubilo