At the young age of 17, 16, and 14 respectively, local high school students Bryce Maopolski (guitar/vocals), his brother Reece (bass/vocals) and their pal Liam Fenton (drums/vocals) are already …
At the young age of 17, 16, and 14 respectively, local high school students Bryce Maopolski (guitar/vocals), his brother Reece (bass/vocals) and their pal Liam Fenton (drums/vocals) are already working musicians. Their band, Brotality, has been racking up accolades, including winning “Best Metal Band” at the 570 Music Awards and taking the first-place prize in Bethel Woods Center for the Arts’ “Dream Tank Talent Show.” That led to more gigs and festivals, and to playing for concertgoers as they arrived for heavy metal legends Deep Purple and Judas Priest’s sold-out show on Bethel Woods’ pavilion stage.
Recently, Brotality released a single called “Salting the Wound” that began gaining popularity with metal fans. On March 23, the boys got a call from Fort Wayne, Indiana’s Rottweiler Records—a conversation that culminated with an offer to sign the guys to a two-album recording contract. Since schools are closed and I wanted to chat with all three, Bryce arranged an online face-to-face meeting, enabling us to virtually get together and discuss Brotality’s future.
Fox: What can you tell me about the record label? And is Rottweiler specifically a Christian music label?
Bryce: The label represents more than 30 bands. We’re from [Narrowsburg,] NY and Liam is from [Clarks Summit,] PA. But Rottweiler has signed bands from all over the world, including India and South Africa.
Yes, more specifically [Rottweiler is] a Christian Metal label. There are a lot more Christian metal bands out there than you might think, and due to the stereotypes that are often associated with the genre, not a lot of people are aware of that. We call ourselves a Christian metal band because all of us hold our faith in Christianity.
Fox: When I have listened to metal in the past, I’ve had a hard time understanding the lyrics. Are yours based on Christianity?
Reece: I think it takes a while to get used to how metal is presented, but the majority of our songs are original and lyrically based; those lyrics are inspired by Christian values, but we don’t play exclusively for Christian audiences. One of our goals is to reach people who haven’t heard that message before.
Fox: Even the casual observer can’t miss Bryce’s [waist-length] blonde hair, which seems to be a part of the band’s look. Would you call Brotality a hair band?
Bryce: Hair bands were really big back in the ‘80s with guys like Van Halen and Motley Crue. Even though it’s not like that anymore, I obviously have grown my hair out, and I like being able to throw it around on stage. I think it adds to our stage presence and energy during a show.
Fox: I read that Bryce started playing the guitar at seven years old. What about Reece and Liam?
Liam: My dad is a drummer and he got me my first baby drum kit when I was two years old, but I really got into it when I was about eight.
Reece: I also started playing the guitar around the age of seven, but Bryce wanted to form a band, so I decided that if I concentrated on the bass, we could be bandmates.
Fox: You two are brothers and grew up in the same house, but how did Liam become a part of Brotality?
Bryce: A couple of years ago, Reece and I laid down some tracks at a studio in PA and the owner asked us to record a promotion for his business. He introduced us to Liam who joined us on the drums for that. We were like, wow, this kid is pretty good. We invited him up for some practice and he didn’t want to leave. So, we just said, “he’s in the band now.” We played our first gig together two years ago this week. We usually practice at least once a week, but this virus has shut that down.
Fox: All three of you seem like very nice, polite young men. What drew you to heavy metal music, which is often described as angry and brutal?
Liam: My dad got me into metal at an early age and I think that’s why I love it so much. It’s hard to describe, but there’s something about the crowd at a metal show. It is brutal.
Fox: I’m getting the impression that “brutal” means something completely different than it did when I was your age.
Reece: It does. I think heavy metal makes all of us connect emotionally. A lot of people think [metal heads are] angry, but that’s not true. All of Brotality’s lyrics are very positive and the metal community is unlike any other. I get why people outside of that community might not understand, but I think that channeling that aggression through our music is just a way of expressing and releasing energy.
Bryce: I don’t really see it as aggression. In metal, there’s a whole different vocab. “Brutal” means awesome, and “nasty” is really good. I also see metal as being more about energy. At any given concert, people are jumping up and down, running around, really involved with the music—and it’s so much fun. At a metal show, the energy is overwhelming and the crowd is part of the show. It really is a brotherhood… a shared experience. We’re called Brotality because we’re brothers in faith who like to make brutal music.
Fox: Heavy metal has been around for decades and has never gone out of style. Why do you think that is?
Bryce: Metal is universal. The “big four” [Metallica, Slayer, Megadeth and Anthrax] still sell out at the world’s largest venues to this day.
Fox: Will Brotality’s first album be all original music?
Bryce: Yes, at this point, we’re close to having everything written for the first, and are planning to record it this summer in time for a fall release, when school hopefully starts back up. This break has given us time to work on the album. Reece and I are in the same house, but I’ve been able to record tracks and send them off to Liam, so we’ve accomplished a lot with our time spent at home.
Fox: Even though you’re still in high school, all three of you seem really committed to your music and Brotality. With a single out, a record contract and a new album on the horizon, I would say your future looks bright. Any last words?
Brotality in unison: Stay home, stay safe, stay metal!
For more information, like Brotality on Facebook, follow them on Instagram and check out their music on YouTube.