- Photo by TJ Jaeger
Bloomington's Siddius owned the stage. Bassist Alex Welp rocked classic leather pants and leather vest; his brother Andrew wielded an awe-inspiring white keytar; guitarist Khalid Stetkevych, wearing a sleeveless Iron Maiden shirt, brought in his own PA so his intimidating solos could wail over the band; drummer Pat Hitchings arrived early to begin setting up his massive — yet appropriate — kit; and singer Hayden Frasier greeted the crowd in his leather jacket, screaming an ear-busting falsetto akin to Bruce Dickenson, with the showmanship of James Brown.
All of this, plus massive stage banners displaying their nautically themed artwork, fog machines, professional lighting and the stage presence of true rock legends, could all be summed up into one word: overkill.
- Photo by TJ Jaeger
But that's the point, said Stetkevych.
"We're just going to do everything we can to make it worthwhile," he said. "We're going to do what we can on stage to make someone crack a grin. As much as seeing people rock is great, seeing someone break a smile about how ridiculous we're being is just as good."
Performing to their biggest crowd to date, Frasier said they worked off the crowd's energy.
"I feel that playing on a bigger stage brings out the best of us. Up to this point, we thrive during every show with a larger audience."
And thrive they did. Thanks to the amount of headbanging that occurred at the bar full of twenty-somethings who could have been at their first metal show, Siddius won the Battle of the Bands Finale.
In August, the band released their first single, "Don't Be Afraid to Run," which is a sneak peak into their debut album, When Time is Time Again. Clocking in at 6:17, the first three minutes alone offer an overture of what can be expected on the rest of the album: guitar solos, bass solos, Frasier's soaring vocals, breakneck drums and a metal atmosphere that feels like if Iron Maiden's musicianship was even more virtuosic — which is difficult to imagine.
As relative unknowns in the Southern Indiana scene, on the verge of putting out their first public release, you'd think Siddius would be a new, up-and-coming band. But the band has existed in a couple different entities since its inception in December 2004.
For 12 years, they have fought through lineup changes, years away at college, and serious injuries in order to keep the metal dream alive.
- Photo by TJ Jaeger
When he was 12 years old, Stetkevych was introduced to metal by Andrew, he said. By the time they were in middle school, he and Alex started a band called the Fallout — and this was before the era of Fall Out Boy, mind you — which transformed into Siddius by the time they were in high school.
The core of the band has always been Stetkevych, Andrew and Alex. However, from 2008 through 2013, the three dispersed to pursue different college experiences. Alex went to Ball State, Andrew stayed in town at Indiana University, and Stetkevych went to California to study at the Musicians Institute. Unlike most bands based in Bloomington, Alex said summers were their most productive times.
While in California, Stetkevych was busy studying at the Musicians Institute and playing rugby. While playing rugby one day, Stetkevych suffered a serious neck injury, which left him unable to play guitar.
"I had to physically place my fingers on the guitar, then move my arm to the next position," he said. "It was about two minutes a day for a week, then three minutes a day for a week, and then building up increments like that, until I eventually made it up to five to eight hours a day."
While going through physical therapy, Stetkevych began to compose Siddius's songs on paper, since he was unable to play them himself. It became a habit he continues today, though at the time, he said it was easy to feel discouraged about the band's future.
"It sounded like a pipe dream," he said. "I couldn't even ******* play guitar. We didn't have a drummer or a singer."
- Photo by TJ Jaeger
But in 2014, with everyone back in Bloomington, Alex said they began revamping the band, which has since been deemed the second era of Siddius.
After leaving IUPUI***, Hitchings began playing drums in local bands. During one of his shows at Rhino's, he said Stetkevych was running the sound system and approached him after their set.
"He walked up to me and asked if I knew anybody who wanted to play metal drums," Hitchings said. "So I said, 'Well, I do.' So he sent me some tracks, and I learned them. We all appreciated the progressive metal stuff. Our styles were similar enough; it was just a matter of being exposed to it. It was a natural fit."
With guitar, bass, keys, and drums in place, it was time for them to find a singer. Stetkevych said he and the rest of the band knew that Frasier sang in the local band Danger Field, but they wanted him for Siddius.
"He wasn't faking it," Stetkevych said. "Even though I think Hayden is the great rock and roll impersonator of Bloomington, it wasn't forced. The first time I heard him live, I knew he was in my band. I didn't have a band at that time, and it would've been another 3 or 4 years, but it was always in the back of my head that he was our singer."
In February 2015, the band began the recording process of When Time is Time Again. Because they are recording it themselves, Alex said a number of factors have influenced the lengthy process: schedule conflicts, trial and error, technical issues and more.
“The underlying theme of what’s taken us so long is that you can’t rush quality,” he said. “We don’t want to throw out a demo that’s recorded in an afternoon. We’ve heard those before. We want to have a record we can sell.”
On top of that, Stetkevych said they have also taken time off from recording to do a stretch of shows, because, “if we did all the parts back-to-back, we wouldn’t really feel like a band," he said.Stetkevych described the album as an abstract narrative string loosely revolving around death, the stretching of time and coming to terms. These ideas coincide with how the band members feel about their time on Earth.
Hoping to release the album by Black Friday, Alex said he's confident it will be the foot in the door they need to get to the next level.
"I'm hoping it gives us the opportunity to get the gigs we want," he said. "To really start establishing ourselves and get the high-end gigs. To have promoters take us seriously. To play around not just in your local bars. We're in it to win it, I guess. I think all of us don't want to be just another band that played around town for a while."***Editor's note: After publication, the band asked to clarify that Hitchings left IUPUI. Also, per their request, profanity has been redacted.