Tulin Howey on vocals, Ken Howey and Jeremy Dasher on guitars, Neal Harris on bass, Duncan Campbell on drums and Norman House on keyboards.
I recently had a chat with the charismatic Tulin. Here is what she told me.
1) When you were growing up, what music/musicians/singers did you listen to and prefer?
Well, for certain it was Freddie Mercury of Queen, Ronnie James Dio, Ann Wilson of Heart, and Pat Benatar. There are many more, but I would practice with those singers the most. Rush and Iron Maiden also influenced me quite a bit and I think you can hear it in my voice.
2) What inspired you to become a vocalist?
My Uncle was a musician and he inspired my brother, who then inspired me. I always loved singing even as a child. My family played a lot of Turkish music and also the old standards and Elvis. I think we were really growing up in a great age of rock and roll with The Beatles, Rolling Stones, all that. When I got my first record player and heard my first album, it sparked something in me and that’s when I knew. I think I was about 13.
3) What did you do as a vocalist before Empire Of Dezire?
I was in an all-female band called Metal Fox, basically with a group of my friends. But It’s always been Empire of Dezire since I was 19.
4) What are your musical inspirations?
Ronnie James Dio is at the top of my list. Not just because of his vocals, but who he was as a person, great showman, great with connecting, powerful, and yet truly humble and he cared about his fans. We met him and got to hang out with him. He was very special.
5) You also play the guitar. Why the guitar? What is the make of your guitar and what do you like about it?
Yes, I play a Dean Classic Thoroughbred X, which is their Les Paul-style body; I’ve installed passive Marty Friedman EMG pickups. It has an amazing sound both clean and heavy, and being a Dean, it is just well made.
6) How did Empire Of Dezire start?
It started between Ken and I. We were dating and lived together but he was pretty bent on being in his own band and me in mine. I was going to College, but one day we were sitting around and broke out this cheap Casio keyboard, and started playing it. I started singing and we were coming up with very cool music. So, we started a band together and the rest is history.
7) What is EOD’s music vision?
We want to tour the world, write more songs and keep recording. But we are happy right now being in our region. We love music. We will continue to be independent artists and connect locally while using technology to connect with our fans everywhere.
8) 2020 was a year of pandemic and lockdown. What was your and EOD’s experience? What is it like now?
It’s been both a blessing and a tough battle. Like most people it really made us aware of the value that music brings to our lives every day. We have lost loved ones, we have also had the chance to create new friendships and it’s been like a pause, because shows were just being cancelled, people staying at home, so much restriction, it made us stronger, more determined, and when we did a few shows, it was like being born again. But there are more challenges ahead. We are creative, we will keep going. There’s going to be amazing new music and energy coming out of us as well as most musicians.
9) You are in Arizona where live performances started to happen again recently. What was is like for you and EOD to get back on stage? What were the safety rules in the music venue?
It was beautiful seeing everyone again. We are a family so it was like our family was reunited. But also, really nervous because we know the battle these venues, bars, clubs are facing. There are limits on occupancy, like everywhere else, masks must be worn unless you are seated and actively eating or drinking. For a bar that’s pretty much what people do, they are actively drinking. Most places do not want to be shut down, and that has already been happening. So, they are taking the precautions. With that being said, I felt like it was the first time and I could not stop smiling. Creating music is my therapy. I don’t drink or do drugs or meds, I do music. So, without it, I’m a very depressed person. So, for me it was magic.
10) EOD has released 4 albums in this century: ‘Chrome’ (2013), ‘Paradigm’ (2014), ‘Prime’ (2016), ‘A.I.’ (2018). What was your favourite recording experience?
Well, my favorite was ‘A.I.’ Because of the lineup. Casey Weaver of Steampunk audio Labs did 2 of our records. He is truly amazing and transformed our songs from good to great. I call him the wizard of recording! But ‘Paradigm’ was done live at our rehearsal space by the very talented Chris Grimsley, and that was just incredible how it sounds without the traditional use of a studio. He was really great at helping produce the vocals, the harmonies, and worked very close with us on the mixing.
11) EOD has been going for a long time despite a hiatus. What is your favourite EOD moment?
Being on stage at the Marquee in Tempe, AZ opening for Geoff Tate’s 30th year Anniversary Operation Mindcrime. The audience, stage, sound, were incredible. And I’d have to say also when we released ‘A.I’. That show at Joe’s Grotto, seeing the support and love, and hearing the audience while we were behind the screen showing our official video, the cheering and gasping going on, it was very badass.
12) You have a recording studio: Metal Goddess Studio. What inspired you to start this venture?
I wanted to expand my music knowledge and explore other ways to create, beyond the band, different genres, maybe even composing for movies or anything outside what I already know. I’ve already done some cool guest vocals for a few other bands, even with someone in Turkey. It's amazing what can be done now with technology. I eventually think even when I’m old and can’t trot around on stage head-banging, I’d love to write for others and keep going until my dying days.
13) You have a few cats. How important are animals in your life?
When everything is going to hell, when I feel like giving up, they are there to remind me to allow and be in the moment. I feel so much unconditional love from them. So, I don’t rescue them. They are always rescuing me! As far as the world, I love animals so much I am vegan, I feel a deep connection with them. So, I can’t see the benefit of eating them when I can make other choices. Same goes for testing, destroying their habitat, all that. I’m at peace in their presence.
14) What is your experience of alcohol and drugs on the Phoenix/Arizona music scene?
I’ve done research on alcohol use; moderate drinking is actually healthy for you. There may be a link that it’s because we do it socially and bringing people together has a positive effect on our mental health. And that in return helps us physically. But moderation is the key. Unfortunately, many people use alcohol excessively and it has a huge negative impact. Especially while driving. It nearly destroyed my personal relationships; it got our very first bass player arrested. That’s when Neal stepped in and saved us. Then there’s the drugs, especially meth. back in the 90’s it took down lots of musicians. I don’t want to name people out of respect. But I never touched anything except booze and weed. it all definitely pushed me away from music. When I returned to music, I was still drinking, but the weed I stopped long ago because it affected my singing. I recently quit drinking and it has been the best thing for me ever in terms of seeing life more clearly and being grounded. I still deal with the emotional roller coaster, but I am a huge advocate for sobriety especially when it would save your life or your relationships. Don’t get me wrong though, bands play at bars and venues serve alcohol, it’s a huge part of their success, and I love seeing people enjoy each other’s company while having spirits. It’s a social tradition all over the world. It’s just not for me anymore. Weed is legal now too in Arizona. So, there’s that.
Empire of Dezire | Facebook
Metal Goddess Studios | Facebook
Empire of Dezire | ReverbNation
Tulin Howey - YouTube