Support Force and Last Empire couldn't be more diametrically opposed in terms of their sound—the former a guitar pop band awash in reverb and lucid dreams; the latter a long-running group bravely holding aloft the torch for traditional/power metal. But by the end of the week, the two will have this in common: both groups will be no more.
The news of both breakups was surprising. Support Force formally announced its break up onstage at Mississippi Studios this past Monday. And Last Empire has been quietly letting the news of their demise—after 12 years of dutiful service—seep out when talking about their show this Friday at Branx. The decisions were made lightly, however. As you'll read below, the groups parted and are parting ways amicably, comfortable in the knowledge that this was the best move for everyone involved.
We caught up with Jonathan Magdaleno, front man for Support Force, and Darius Lindell, drummer and founding member of Last Empire, to talk about the break ups and what the future holds for both men and their ex-/soon-to-be-ex-bandmates.
WW: Why did this breakup happen?
Jonathan Magdaleno: Like all things, there's a dynamic set of reasons. I think the one thing that stands out most for me that's very opposite from most breakup stories is that we are really still very appreciative and loving towards each other. Nothing bitter brought it to an end. To some extent, we wanted to end while things were going well and at a good point. It became a project that we were madly in love with but couldn't find the time to put as much into it as we would like to. There's no way we could have devoted ourselves to it and have it become what it had the potential to be.
Why did you keep the news so secret?
We told a few people because we were getting asked to play shows. But we wanted to have our last show be one for people that were going to show up regardless of whether there was anything special about it. We didn't want it to be an advertising tool and become a story before anything had even happened with it.
The most surprising thing was that you announced this right after the schedule for the PDX Pop Now fest was announced, which Support Force is on. What does that mean then? Are you going to do one final, final last hurrah?
I'm talking with them about playing a solo set. News like us being part of the festival was never anything that was going to constrict us from making a decision that we thought was right. There was some pressure from the outside, from the business side of the industry, for us to stick it out until then. But something like that just makes you want to be more individualistic to that extent.
What does this mean for you? Are you going to stop making music for a while?
There's no way I could ever stop. I'll continue to do it for the rest of my life. It's something I can't really control. But I think it's going to be a long time before I'm in a project as intense as Support Force was. It was a long learning process through the whole thing on how to be a band leader and as a creative person, how to present myself to the public.
WW: Why are you calling it quits?
Darius Lindell: There's probably not one particular reason. A lot of it has to do with us doing it for a really long time and it being a tough road for the entire time. It's time to go in a different direction.
Why was it such a tough road?
The problem with the metal scene is that it's so fractured. Metal fans aren't always the most accepting of other brand of metal. Ours wasn't always as easily accepted particularly in our earlier years. This town in particular has never been too into what we did. That said, we do have a small fan base that do appreciate what we play.
You guys never really advertised this as your last show though.
It's true because this came about after we booked the show. About a month ago, me and the guys took a hard look at the band and said, "Let's call this one good." I mean, me and Pat [DiMartino, guitarist] started jamming together in '98 or something like that.
I imagine then that you'll keep making music after this?
We're all lifelong musicians so we are going to keep playing in some respect. Me and Pat might continue on with something different. We've had 12-14 years of playing power metal. I can safely say that I've been there and done that.
When you look back on your time with Last Empire though what really stands out?
That's a tough question. We stuck to our guns and did what we wanted to do. There have been such highs and such lows along the way. If we've had any long last effect here it's by inspiring some of the new crop of local guys playing metal. We've had seven rhythm guitarists in the band over the years, and 15 members in and out of the band. Our rhythm guitarist now Pete [Sylvia], he was coming to see us when he was just a teenager. Now he's playing in the band that he respected back then. Whenever you last this long, quirky little things like that will come up.