Montreal band finds their hero

PriestessSometimes success can come from the most unlikely of places. Take for instance, Montreal hard-rock band Priestess.

The group released its debut album Hello Master via influential Montreal indie-label Indica in 2005 in Canada. The record would be released in the US and internationally via RCA in 2006 and would see the group share the stage with Black Label Society, Megadeth and Mastodon, among others.

And then a hero swooped in and would change the course of the band’s destiny. A Guitar Hero, that is. The inclusion of the group’s song Lay Down in the wildly popular video game Guitar Hero 3 would give the band’s record a second life, at the exact time they were preparing themselves to make their sophomore record.

“That was a really great opportunity and was well-timed,” Priestess vocalist-guitarist Mikey Heppner recalls from his Montreal home. “Guitar Hero ended up happening right in the middle of our first record and new record and it was the biggest push we had. Suddenly everyone knew about us. It was as though our album had been rereleased and helped us maintain momentum through making our new record.”

If only things would go so fluently when it came time to getting their new record, Prior To The Fire, to see the light of day.

“In December 2007, we had started pre-production on the new record with Matt Bayles. We had completed a couple of days of work but discovered that he wasn’t really the right fit. So we spent that winter trying to find another producer,” Heppner says. “In 2008, our A&R guy at RCA tried to set us up with Adam Jones from Tool but we couldn’t get our schedules to jive.”

Heppner says it was incredibly tough spending a half-year simply waiting around for the wheels to turn, but that salvation came in the form of producer Dave Schiffman.

“After we had met up with Dave, we came to the realization that we could have gone with him in the first place and had the record completed earlier but in a weird way, we’re glad things went the way they did; I don’t think that our album would have become the record it is otherwise,” he admits.

Heppner goes on to elaborate that the extra time spent on the record was indeed well spent.

“We wanted Prior To The Fire to be pretty raw and I think we managed to make the record livelier,” Heppner confirms. “That was what we had set out to do from the beginning, since so many people hear the band’s recorded music rather than hearing us or seeing us live.”

By the time the year is through, playing live will be second nature to the Montreal group, if it isn’t already so:

Priestess will be playing 22 shows across Canada from now until they dip into the US for a handful of shows at the start of December. From there, Heppner expects their schedule to rapidly fill up as their record sees international release in February 2010.

The group has two New Brunswick shows on their schedule: Thursday November 5 at Nicky Zee’s in Fredericton and Friday November 6 at the Manhattan in Moncton.

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