2014
04.12

From Terrorizer magazine, September 2013.

These days, former Iced Earth singer Matt Barlow is more likely to look down at the bloodied bodies of murder victims than he is a sea of raised hands and smiling faces. Such is the life of one who would trade music for a career in law enforcement.
‘In a band, there have always been spots on the road that have been weird, but you really can’t compare them to what I see now.’ the rockstar-cum-policeman reflects. ‘As a musician, I’ve never encountered somebody who has met their demise in a violent nature, so it’s a very different thing to get used to.’

Having been inspired to become an officer of the law following the 9/11 attacks, Barlow passed the Iced Earth reins to Tim ‘Ripper’ Owens in 2003. Despite reuniting with the band four years later for a four-year tenure – during which they produced a new album together – he left once again in 2011 after their touring schedule did not allow for crime-fighting.
‘When I returned, the idea was that we weren’t going to be on the road for six months of the year.’ he reveals. ‘Unfortunately, the music industry changed and Jon [Schaffer, Iced Earth guitarist and brother-in-law] felt that he needed to tour more to make money, since that’s his main income. I totally understand and respect it, but that’s one of the reasons I bowed out.’

Now, however, he is free to indulge in his off-duty passion at his leisure with new project Ashes Of Ares, the foundations of which stem from when Matt and guitarist Freddie Vidales shared the Iced Earth stage together. After both leaving, ideas and files were bounced back and forth until material unused in their former band blossomed into a similar strain of heavy metal. With the addition of drummer Van Williams after the dissolution of Nevermore, the trio began to enjoy the freedom of creating music when day jobs allowed.
‘Freddie and I have equipment at our houses, so we brainstormed ideas then got together and recorded a good portion of songs for the album.’ explains the frontman. ‘Not long after that, my wife and I went up to New York to visit Van, and he was really into the tracks I played for him. Everything happened for the right reasons at the right time.
‘Van is a graphic designer and a new dad with a son about the same age as my boys, and Freddie is a civil engineer. We’re not the only band out there where the members have day jobs, but it makes sense to us all to do it this way because we understand each other’s schedules and can work around that.’

Metal, an outsider scene that traditionally develops and defends its own moralities and beliefs, doesn’t often suffer authority figures gladly, but the vocalist has been able to reconcile the two sides of his character with ease.
‘I’m very graced to have bosses that are very cool with what I do. They’re all music fans – there are a lot more cops out there who are metalheads than you might think!’ he laughs. ‘A lot of other officers and fans around the world have came out to shows and said they appreciate what I do so, in a way, I hope that does bring people together.’

And so, come September, the self-titled debut will drop and Patrolman Barlow will take some time from protecting and serving to visit these shores later in the month. A European tour will follow before reality calls once again but, for the trio, striking a balance between work and play is just the next step of the journey.
‘As far as my musical and professional careers go,’ concludes Matt. ‘I’m lucky to be able to do something I love.’

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