Dred Rocks The Casbah

by Michelle Heshka

This week, we had the chance to sit down with Jonah Istifan, the bassist of the local four-piece metal band, Dred. In this interview, Istifan discusses his experience of being in a metal band and how Dred came to be.
The band is made up of four people, three of which are tried and true Hamiltonians. Dred consists of Angelo Cino, vocalist, Nick Wilczynski, guitarist, Joe Piccolo, drummer, and Jonah Istifan, bassist.

Dred’s Jonah Istifan
Photo: Michelle Heshka

Bands often have a quirky story of how they came to be a band. How did you guys meet?

The band has a funny story coming together. We met through friends of a friend. I knew a couple of guys through work who were in a band and they were shooting a music video. They asked me to come out and be an extra, so I did. I met the guy who was filming the video and his name was Angelo (the vocalist of Dred) and we just hit it off…we were so similar. That same day, I met the guitarist, Nick, of our band, and I didn’t even know he played guitar at the time. It was one of those moments where all of us were together in this scenario, at this video shoot, and none of us realized we would come together and make music.
Nick and a few guys at the shoot wanted to just jam casually, so Angelo heard about it and said, ‘I’ll come out if I can bring Jonah.’

Dred Photo: Michelle Heshka
Joe Piccolo (drums), Angelo Cino (vocals), Nick Wilczynski (guitar)
Photo: Michelle Heshka

How long have you guys been together as a band?

It’s been about a year. We’re coming up to our one-year anniversary.

How did you start making music?

We learned cover songs together, and I think that was a good foundation for the band. We learned all of these songs from bands that we like, and then we played them for people, and they liked it. They had a good time. At that point we realized, we can do this, and we can have fun doing it. We can make some memories and make some music.

Dred Photo: Michelle Heshka
Nick Wilczynski
Photo: Michelle Heshka

When you play venues, is the music all original or is a mix?

It depends on the night. At the Casbah, you’ll hear a lot of originals because we have a limited amount of time on stage. We want to make sure the crowd gets to hear what we’ve been doing, rather than what we’re learning on a cover basis.

What was the first song you ever wrote?

It was, Blood White and Blue. It’s a lot heavier of a tune. When we first wrote it, we didn’t have lyrics yet. We knew the riffs, but it came together in about an hour.

Dred Photo

What’s your process for creating music?

We lock ourselves in our jam space for a few hours. My guitarist and I sit down, write riffs and say, ‘listen to this.’ We record everything with our iPhones so we can listen back to it. It’s all about the iPhone. It’s a good place to start. We recorded with an iPhone and gave it to our producer, and that’s how he familiarized himself with our songs.

We learn the riffs we like, connect a bunch of them together, and then show them to the drummer. He’ll hear a riff and come up with a drumbeat.

The quality of the song and the message really comes down to the lyrics. Angelo is a fantastic writer, he writes all of the lyrics for our songs.

People that don’t like our music, there’s a reason they don’t like it. Not everyone loves metal, but there’s a way we can do it that allows the regular person that loves country music or Top40 music to still enjoy our music. It’s about making music universal.

What sets Dred apart from other metal bands?

When you hear the term ‘metal band,’ it’s like you already have an idea of what they’re going to sound like. I think the term ‘metal’ is just what comes to mind because the music is fast, aggressive, and in your face. There’s a lot of screaming in the music and it’s very intense. When you hear us, we’re so different that we stand out. We keep our songs short and sweet. We want to make a statement. People’s attention spans are so small nowadays. Making music is about expanding horizons and making it open to the majority of people…like, System of a Down. You may not like heavy music, but you’ll recognize their tunes because you hear them.

What do you hope to accomplish with your music?

I think everyone in a band’s dream is to make it big. To be featured on the radio, do TV interviews, meet a lot of cool people, and go on tours with awesome bands. That’s the ultimate goal…going on tour with some of our favourite bands. We are striving for that, but we’ve realized that it takes time.

Is there anything about Dred that you think people need to know about Dred?

We come off like we’re really hard and angry; but really, we’re kind of geeky. Our personalities come out in the music. We put our heart and soul into our music and we’ve had a lot of fun doing it. We want to keep doing it. There’s a huge family aspect to this band, and I hope that is one day reflected to our fans. We want our fans to be our friends.

Where can people find your music?

Dred has a Facebook page and YouTube videos. We’re constantly putting up videos. We also have Bandcamp, b
ut our recordings on there aren’t 100% yet. That’s our next avenue.

Check out Dred’s music on Facebook, Bandcamp and YouTube.


Michelle Heshka is a recent graduate of the photojournalism program at Loyalist College. She is currently pursuing a career in freelance photojournalism while continuing to explore her interest in music. Visit www.michelleheshka.ca for contact information.

Tweet me! @michelleheshka

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