I found ‘Starless’ to be a compelling story. Harry Metzler’s smooth vocals and captivating music all equals to a song like ‘Starless’. ILL-ADVISED ‘s tribute to the late Stephen Hawking is thought provoking and I encourage you to check it out below.
Fender wins again. Like Beck, Zappa, Clapton, and Hendrix, it was a Strat that fueled Harry Metzler’s drive for rock n’ roll. He was only three years old, but he had found his true love — a double cutaway in turquoise.
Harry’s music education began early as his mother nourished his dream. A gifted coloratura soprano, she knows that a musician is not something one chooses to be; rather, it is something that one is. Anchored by the unlikely combination of his mother’s opera and his elementary school’s 1940’s big band music curriculum, Harry learned to play strings, brass, woodwind, and percussion instruments while still a child. He filtered this foundation through his love of rock music, fronting several bands during his teenage years. While embracing the challenges of making music with friends, Harry honed his craft and became a uniquely versatile musician.
Inspired by Nine Inch Nails’ Trent Reznor, Todd Rundgren, and Prince, Harry took the reins of his destiny. As a solo musician, he became the band: Ill-Advised. While attending college on a music scholarship at William Paterson University, he began work on what would ultimately become his debut album, Parkway Divides. “I could never find people who liked the same music I did or were as serious as I was,” Harry says. “I had been in bands where someone wouldn’t show up to a rehearsal or to a show, so I’d end up filling in on their instrument in addition to singing. I figured it wouldn’t be that much of a difference if I just wrote and recorded everything myself, since I had pretty much already been doing that for years.”
In true punk rock D-I-Y style, Harry built a studio in his basement with the help of a few friends and set off to work on the album himself, “I produced and engineered the entire album myself and wrote, sang, and played every instrument. I recorded instruments one at a time, using a placeholder for the lead guitar tracks first, then drums, bass, final guitars, pianos, synthesizers, strings, horns, etc., culminating with the vocals.” A few songs caught the ear of Los Angeles producer and mix engineer, Michael James, who had worked with bands like Jane’s Addiction, Hole, Jawbreaker, New Radicals, L7, and Chicago and ultimately mixed Parkway Divides. “I really dig the sincere heartfelt nature of your music because it makes me feel something on a visceral level,” Michael wrote in a fund matching challenge hosted by Pledge Music, “Listeners are hungry for the real stuff. Their bullshit detectors are sensitive, and they’re tired of posturing and pretense. Because your music is genuine, it makes me feel like I’m getting to know the real you when I listen to your songs.” David Donnelly (Aerosmith, Blink-182, Ministry) mastered the album.
Although not intentionally a concept record, Harry noted that the album tended to take on its own life. He explained: “I’ve always been a fan of the album as an artistic statement and I began to notice that the tracks sort of organized themselves. The first track is “The Creator,” the middle track is “The Great Divide,” and the last track is “The Last Goodbye.” It was completely unplanned; it just worked out that way. I love how vinyl records have a ‘side 1’ and ‘side 2,’ so I decided to call the first six tracks “Northbound” and the last six tracks) “Southbound” — a perfect metaphor for an album whose name is inspired by New Jersey’s Garden State Parkway. “There are shared themes, both melodic and lyrical, throughout the record,” he explains, “I approached Parkway Divides as if it was one big classical piece, with the individual songs representing smaller movements that made up a whole. Everything is connected.”
Reviewing the lyrics, Harry realized the songs deal with themes like duality, light and dark, love and hate. At times, the songs contradict themselves, and he realized he was making a record about the human experience. He shared that it was hard to reconcile the loss of innocence with getting older and becoming more aware of the world. “Some of the songs deal with trying to understand how to hold on to the kid you used to be in a world where people are killing each other.”
Parkway Divides is a deeply personal record that is honest and makes the listener feel something genuine, rather than the incessant, shallow, party music that blares while the world seems to be burning down around us. It is surprising and familiar at the same time, with soaring lyrical melodies juxtaposed against heart-rending dissonance. “Recording on my own, I didn’t feel like I had anyone judging me. There was no one to tell me not to include a string part or to not layer 15 guitars to create a wall of sound,” Harry adds, “I think it allowed me to create an album that was uncompromising, unique, and honest. As long as it makes you feel something – anything – I’ve done my job.”
After a successful run of the Summer Nights Tour in 2016, Harry went back in the studio to finish the 16-song politically charged follow up, Masochists. Inspired by events both personal and political, especially the 2016 United States Presidential Election, the album trades in pounding rock drums for electronic, syncopated rhythms and experimental soundscapes. “I felt like I had taken the sound on Parkway Divides as far as I could. The live band I was playing with had dissolved and the new songs I was working on were much more electronic and rhythmic – danceable, even.”
What initially began as an EP turned into a 1 hour 18 minute concept record about catastrophic human tendencies. “I didn’t deliberately set out to write a political protest album. I don’t really consider Masochists to be that anyway. I started recording this album before I even released Parkway Divides at the end of 2015 – before the election had even really started ramping up. It wasn’t until the election results came in and I wrote ‘Faithless Elector’ that I actually took a step back and looked at the lyrics to the songs I had written and saw how relevant the album was to what had been going on in the world.”
Whether subconscious or otherwise, the meticulously layered album takes the listener on a journey, contemplating the possibility of nuclear annihilation. “The idea of people voting for a candidate who had no intention of helping those very same people – and didn’t even try to hide that fact – seemed incredibly masochistic,” Harry says, “I started thinking about all the things human beings do – the decisions we make and the actions we take – that bring about our own suffering. The whole idea of pressing the ‘fuck it’ button and blowing it all up and how it relates to the human condition. You start to question whether or not people are actually enjoying the pain they’re experiencing when they keep making the same decisions over and over again.”
24OurMusic writes, “New Jersey’s Ill-Advised is an unapologetic, brash, and critical rocker, whose abrasive yet down-to-earth swagger shines triumphantly in both his persona and his work. Masochists, his recent album, is something of a mark of both maturity and anger for the rocker, his music successfully coming through and showing off his dark and introspective art. The 16 track concept record is ambitious as it is skillful, with the project’s brainchild Harry Metzler stylishly lamenting about the current state of the Western world. With a musical flair that borders on the edge of alternative, industrial, and metal inspiration, Ill-Advised rolls feverishly and mercilessly in Masochists. Indeed, with the record’s largely dark and bleak outlook, Masochists feels like we witnessed the graduation of Ill-Advised, an artist whose work is absolutely contagious. Masochists is a thematic wonder that is unafraid to speak out against the current events of our real world, and its story telling is something we definitely haven’t seen since the likes of the late My Chemical Romance.”