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Articles Home » Music Talk » Tenebrous One Interview with Toby Knapp of Waxen By Thomas Amoriello Jr.
Tenebrous One Interview with Toby Knapp of Waxen By Thomas Amoriello Jr.

Tenebrous One

Interview with Toby Knapp of Waxen

By Thomas Amoriello Jr.

Boston Rock Radio


According to Berklee College of Music shred specialist and Associate Professor Joe Stump (Alcatrazz featuring Graham Bonnet), "Toby’s been killing it and making great rock & metal records for almost 3 decades. Wise up and pay attention!" Toby Knapp's 1993 Shrapnel Records instrumental debut recording lauded him with accolades from musicians worldwide and on his latest release under the Waxen moniker he covers all musical duties.  The music of Waxen is a mixture of technical black metal, neo classical meets Jimmy Page Stratocaster soloing and "from elsewhere" vocal stylings with lyrics that explore territory that delves deep into the chapters of archaic writing.  If recent films such as Lords of ChaosBlackhearts, and Until the Light Takes Us were a part of your Netflix viewing and piqued your curiosity in black metal then perhaps you might find interest in the music of Waxen.  If not, then Toby still shreds!  The latest is Blasphemer in Celestial Courts on the Moribund Record label and will officially be released on November 29, 2019.  Thank you to Mr. Knapp for granting this exclusive interview to Boston Rock Radio.

Check out Waxen's latest single Child Scryer

On Black Friday, Moribund Records will release your 5th Waxen recording Blasphemer in Celestial Courts.  Where did you turn for lyrical inspiration for this recording?  Do you keep a journal for lyrics and sometimes obsess over phrases or are ideas fluid for you?

TK:  Yes, there had been some journal keeping. A verse or topic would come to me anytime and I just took notes if I really thought it was good and integral to the album. Basically the concept of the album is Magic. Not pulling rabbits out of hats magic, real Hermetic, Gnostic Magic practices of old. I studied the occult so long but never dove in to practice. Finally, I needed to know "is this real, do these squares, sigils, numbers, charts in old Grimoires mean anything?" I hit a hot wire after some practices and it was f******g crazy. I can say it is 100% real and dangerous. Don't f**k with those old books unless you are a true initiate. I am not a Satanist and I abandoned "practicing" the occult. I am still very interested. I read about it but keep my distance nowadays. The album deals with that. A sort of self exorcism put to music.


How does this recording differ from the first four Waxen releases?

TK: It's the best. There are no regrets on this one in performance, production or lyrics. The others were hammered out chaotically and I let the chips fall where they may in rugged Black Metal style. This was the most composed and methodical. There is no filler. I made sure every riff, lyric and drum sequence were the best they could be.


What equipment did you precisely use to bring this presentation to the world? 

TK:  Pretty much the same selection of Fender Stratocasters. An 80's Japanese Standard, HSS American model with Humbuckers, A Buddy Holly inspired model with Dimarzio fast track II pick-ups. The only effect was an old Ibanez Tube Screamer, Various Marshall Heads (including a MOSFET from mid-80's). I use the old standard Alesis drum machine, but since I can also play real drums I think I can program drums better than just a guy who plays guitar. I used a Fostex six track for all the recording and then sent it to my longtime co-producer/engineer Brett Hansen in Las Vegas. He owns a huge recording studio equipped with everything and is a genius and has made my last few albums sound so much better.



How long did this project take to create from start to finish?

TK:  I was and still am working on a Necrytis album. Ideas were coming to me that did not fit the Necrytis sound so I made scratch demos of those riffs and saved them up. So I would say three months of working at a very relaxed schedule. The Waxen album was totally unexpected and not really something that was in my plans. It just naturally came to be.


Any potential live presentation in your thoughts?

TK:  I would love nothing more than Waxen, the solo stuff or a combination of everything I've done, to be turned into a functioning band situation. If I could get a great bassist, drummer and vocalist to move to my vicinity it would happen and I would start touring. I think there is enough material and audience out there to make it a reality. The thing is the musicians have to come to me, get jobs here and work around my schedule. I think it would be worth it for them though. I don't feel like my days performing live are over, I hate to think that.

You are obviously a selective fanatic of many metal/hard rock oriented artists.  I am sorry to do this to you but off the top of your head what are your favorite releases from these legendary labels?  We all know that next week you will change your mind and wish you said something else!  


Metal Blade: Slayer "Hell Awaits"
Atlantic: Led Zeppelin II
Shrapnel: Cacophony "Speed Metal Symphony"
Shred Guy Records: Tom Kopyto "Resurrection"
Moribund: Wende "Vorspiel Einer...."
Epic: Jeff Beck "Wired"
Elektra: The Stooges s/t debut
Roadrunner: King Diamond "Abigail"
Season of Mist: Mayhem "Grand Declaration of War"
Nuclear Blast: Dissection "Storm of the Light's Bane"
Capitol: Raspberries "Side 3"
MGM: Herman's Hermits "There's a Kind of Hush"
Century Media: Sigh "Imaginary Sonicscapes"


Going back to October 1992, a pre-Korn Ray Luzier and future Third Eye Blind Tony Fredianelli (then Apocrypha) worked on your Shrapnel Records Guitar Distortion debut with you.  How intense was that process of traveling to Las Vegas and then being in the studio experience to make that record in a short period of time for you?

TK:  Nothing will top that experience for me. To work with musicians I had previously just been a fan of and record for a record label that meant everything to me. For me it was college or Shrapnel Records. Getting signed to them occurred at such a young age I decided then it would be my life. Very bumpy ride. It was the right decision to stick with music because the path continues to unfold in interesting ways. I am in touch with Ray Luzier again and he gave me his cell number! With all he's accomplished I figured he had forgot me by now, but he reached out and I thought that was a great gesture.


Black Metal is worldwide but definitely has more activity in European and South American Countries.  Your fusion is bringing this genre to new avenues beyond the corpse paint, black hooded capes and pseudonyms which you neglect,  with no disrespect to other bands directly, what do you feel has become stale in this metal subgenre? 

TK:  It is hard for me to look at corpse painted "Rock Stars" in huge stadiums. The big Nuclear Blast and Century Media ones. It's weird. Musically the bigger bands like that are stale and more about money, whereas the fringe bands keep it a little more interesting...and I'm definitely not referring to the horrible hipster black metal genre. Black Metal is still supposed to be evil and obscure and I adhere to that. I might not be evil, but this Waxen album certainly is. The album cover and title doesn't beat around the bush. I love Moribund Records.


On a less serious note and to listeners to the Boston Rock Radio area, current Alcatrazz guitarist, Berklee College of Music Professor and underground shred legend Joe Stump has said of you, "Toby’s been killing it and making great rock & metal records for almost 3 decades. Wise up and pay attention!"  What would you like to say about the Medford, Massachusetts resident Joe Stump?

TK:  I love Joe and am proud of him and happy for him. This gig he got with Alcatrazz was his destiny and I wasn't shocked when it happened! Joe has done so much for me; helped me with endorsements, advocated for me in the guitar world. He's an awesome player and after all these years, gets more dangerous on the guitar. I love it.



Official Website



Boston Rock Radio Guest Contributor Thomas Amoriello is a heavy metal guitarist, educator, recording artist and children's picture book author who resides in Lambertville, New Jersey.  You can learn more about Tom at:

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