An Interview with Chicago Diehard, Jon Corston
Written By: Matt Drummond
“I was into metal, way early in life. At around six, I got into the basic stuff, Metallica, Megadeth, Pantera, etc. It wasn’t until my teenage years, that I heard Iced Earth’s album; ‘Night of the Stormrider’, that I decided I wanted to really do this. It was the sound, and style, I had been searching for.”
All fans of heavy music, can recall the moment that metal put it’s hooks in us. It’s a transformation of sorts. I recently got the opportunity to sit down with a guy, who should be inducted into the Chicago heavy metal hall of fame, Jon Corston.
Ever since Corston discovered Iced Earth, he has been on one hell of a heavy metal ride. I tried to count the amount of bands Corston has been involved with, but I quickly realized that list is far too lengthy. This is a guy, who literally has metal running through his veins, and it’s quite impressive.
Currently, Corston is playing in four back breaking bands; Mordatorium, Disinter, God Dementia, and his baby, Beyond Deth. His multitude of talents are dispersed throughout the bands, and his duties differ from band, to band. He’s a vocalist, guitarist, and bassist. Basically the vibe I got from Jon, is whatever it is, if it’s metal, he’s in. He’ll play whatever instrument is needed, all he wants to do, is play. Corston doesn’t view his flooded schedule, as a crutch at all, but as a tool to grow musically.
“Honestly, each one is just a different learning experience. God Dementia, gives me the opportunity to just be a guitarist. With Disinter, I’ve been friends with those guys for the past 3-4 years. Previously, I was in a band called Incessant Collapse, with Mike Martocci. He, and I, worked well together in that band. When the opportunity arose to link up with him again, through Disinter, I seized the opportunity. The hardest part about being in Disinter, is trying to fill the shoes, left by Zion. Zion was a fantastic death metal vocalist, who could also pull off a lot of range, in the black metal realm. It’s very hard to mimic someone like that, and represent the old songs, in the way that old Disinter fans will respect. We’re working on a new album, and hopefully, my vocal talents can help make it something great. Every band I play in, is a chance for me to keep growing.”
One of the best qualities Corston has, is his hunger to grow as a musician. He doesn’t view any of this as a job, it’s just life for him. While I chatted with Jon, he said a few things that cleared up where all that passion comes from, and it was passed down from his father.
“For me, it’s just a way of life. I grew up in a musical family. I’ve been going to concerts, since before I had memories. As an infant, my mother would take me to all my fathers shows. When it comes to my father, it’s more of a respect thing, because he never stopped.”
Corston has shared the stage, with a laundry list of musicians. After solving where his work ethic, and passion spawned from, I asked him who he considered to be a few of the most influential musicians he has worked with.
“Very early on, I was still trying to get Beyond Deth rolling, Bill Curry had a major impact on me. I was jamming guitar with him, and he was a very melodic guitar player. At that time, I was a very young guitarist, and he showed me a lot. Joining Incessant Collapse, helped a lot too. That’s how I met Mike Marcocci, and all them. Mike really helped open up a more aggressive style of playing for me. Mike has a kind of jerky guitar playing, that’s very unique. It was great to jam with him, and learn from him as well.”
There’s no question that Corston completely immerses himself in every band he’s a part of. He gives everything he has, to every band he’s in. Corston doesn’t know any other way to go about music, but to go all in. With that said, his baby, is Beyond Deth.
In 2013, Beyond Deth, released their inaugural demo, titled; ‘What Lies’. A year later, a second, self titled demo followed. Now it’s time to unleash a full length album, and it’s a masterpiece of metal. Knowing that Jon is continuously growing as a musician, i asked him what differences there are, between the demos, and the upcoming album.
“The biggest thing, between the album, and the demos is that the demos were basically a stepping stone. The demos, in terms of sound, let people get acquainted with the changing styles, that the band incorporates. We’re definitely not a one trick pony kind of band. Everyone who has played in Beyond Deth, including myself, have had a wide range of influences. Traditional metal, thrash metal, speed metal, death metal, black metal, melodic metal, everything can be heard, and I want to keep that rolling. We really try to make every song completely different, and with the first two demos, I tried to sprawl out all the different styles, to get people ready for the album.”
I know Corston has tried to warm people up to the Beyond Deth sound, but nobody’s prepared for this record. ‘The Age of Darkness’, showcases years, and years of growing. It’s the culmination of a mad man. Corston should be recognized as a Chicago metal icon. His dedication to not only his bands, but the entire metal scene is unparalleled. If you want to hear what that sounds like, I advise you to pick up the new album, by Beyond Deth. ‘The Age of Darkness’ will officially be released, on February 3rd, 2018. Don’t sleep on this one!
RIP Billy Corston
Photo credit: Heriberto Gallegos