By Matt from Hammerhead Magazine

1. Why the jump from Limb to Leviathan?

Joe Stump: Well Limb kind of dragged their feet on just when they'd be able to release the record. They demanded first release meaning it couldn't be released in Japan or the states until 2003. Limb, while being great in Europe did a piss poor job promoting and distributing the last disc in the states.

2. Do you feel not concentrating on the producing this time helped the writing process?

Joe Stump: No I had a hand in a bit of the mix and production, especially guitar- wise of course , but since Mike really did do the bulk of that work I felt it was only right to give him full production credit this time out.

3. I do have to say the production was much better this time out, was it budgets...? What made it sound better?

Joe Stump: Well the thing was tracked and mixed at the same studio this time out as opposed to several places last time. And overall it's just a much stronger record, so I'm sure that has something to do with it.

4. This record sounds more fluent compared to the first. Any reason for the more hyper play on this record?

Joe Stump: Just faster tracks and also there's a ton of guitar on this one. I really intended this album to be a much more guitar hero type of record as opposed to Sacred Ground. Just a much truer representation of the band and my guitar work as well.

5. I found it to be much heavier. Did you guys strive for that?

Joe Stump: Absolutely, that was my intention from the time I stared to write for this disc. I felt Sacred Ground was too middle of the road, not nearly the balls that this one has.

6. How long did it take to get this batch of songs together? Are any old? Reworked?

Joe Stump: Nothing old or reworked. I'm always composing so I had quite a surplus of material to pick through when it came time to record.

7. What are your favorite tracks and what are they about in general?

Joe Stump: As far as favorites I love No Forgiving, No Limits, Sign of the Cross, Seance and the solo on Forsaken is one of my best. Mike writes all the lyrics so you'd have to ask him exactly what the tunes are about content-wise.

8. How do you take the comparisons to Yngwie and the likes of Rainbow?

Joe Stump: Ritchie and Yngwie are certainly my two biggest influences, so that's only natural. But the stuff I write and play is considerably heavier and much more aggressive than either of those guys. But to be compared to two of my heroes is of course flattering.

9. As an older (33) undergrounder, I wonder how you stumbled across Mike Vescera? I still own that Obsession EP called Marshall Law. And how did Mats come on board?

Joe Stump: I've known Mike quite awhile, I played on his last two solo albums. So we've been friends and partners for sometime now. Mats played on Sacred Ground so I was happy and grateful to have him back on Conquer and Divide. And this time out we were able to utilize his tremendous talents to an even greater extent.

10. Do you ever see yourself jamming with Yngwie? Or who would you like to jam with and who and what influenced you over the years? This guy Luca Turilli is an Italian GOD!

Joe Stump: My main guitar influences are Jimi Hendrix, Ritchie Blackmore, Yngwie Malmsteen, Gary Moore, Uli- Jon Roth and Michael Schenker. I also love classical music Bach, Vivaldi, Paganini, Mendelson and many others. As far as jamming with Yngwie it's something I've never given much thought to. He's a great player, a guitar legend, so I'm sure it'd be very cool. When it comes to jamming I tend to think of musicians other than guitar players to play with, Cozy Powell or Ronnie James Dio, or Billy Cox and Buddy Miles from Jimi's Band of Gypsy's, now you're talking.

11. Do you feel that the internet has helped or hurts a band like yours? And the old, and why?

Joe Stump: Well with all the downloading I'm sure that impacts record sales to a certain extent. But the internet can be a great source of promotion as well. It seems like many fans that are hard core guitar fanatics frequent the web. So it's certainly a double-edged sword.

12. How would you classify the music you play? Neo-classical Powermetal.

Joe Stump: That's one way of describing it. But my stuff is influenced by many different schools of metal and hard rock. From Deep Purple, Rainbow and Rising Force to traditional British metal to speed metal and technically advanced thrash.

13. How does touring go with you guys? Have you done any Worldwide shows or what? Who have you guys graced the stage with?

Joe Stump: I've played all over the world. This particular lineup has only toured in the states thus far. Hopefully on the strength of this new record we'll be coming over to Europe to do some damage.

14. Do you have anything to say to aspiring guitars players?

Joe Stump: Just to play cause you love it and love music. If you devote yourself to anything long enough and give it 100 percent of your effort and hard work great things will definitely come of it.

15. Any other planned projects or is it just ROT all the way?

Joe Stump: Well I have released 5 solo instrumental albums and plan on doing another one to be released later this year.

16. Do you guys plan on a concept record or would you do soundtrack or TV commercial work?

Joe Stump: I currently have no plans to record a concept album, however some soundtrack stuff would be cool if the chance to do such a project arose.

17. Any last words to say?

Joe Stump: Just to thank all my fans who've supported my past work and for everyone to check out Conquer and Divide it's a monster of a metal record and I'm sure you won't be disappointed.

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