By Carl Begai
It takes remarkable strength of character to throw yourself to the wolves knowing you’re going to get bitten and potentially ripped to shreds. So it goes that, regardless of what Into Eternity fans may think of vocalist Amanda Kiernan stepping in to replace Stu Block – now a member of Iced Earth – for the band’s live activities, they have to respect her for willingly putting herself in harm’s way. With a few gigs under her belt at the time of this writing, Kiernan had made more friends than enemies amongst Into Eternity fans even as they mourned Block’s absence, the majority seemingly able to give her the benefit of the doubt. It’s anybody’s guess how the future will play out now that the band essentially has two singers and Block’s Iced Earth career has exploded, but the bottom line is that Kiernan is committed to shedding even more blood, sweat and tears to make things work.
Kiernan’s journey began in November 2011 when Into Eternity put out the call for a “touring only” singer. She jumped in with both feet.
“I found out about the audition and called (Into Eternity drummer) Brian Newbury right away,” Kiernan says. “I just wanted to push myself to the top and prove to myself and others that I can actually do this, and that there are no limitations. After I called him we both went to my studio and spent two days recording the audition songs that Tim Roth (guitars / founder) wanted me to do.”
There was, of course, a truckload of trepidation going in. Block didn’t get snatched up by Iced Earth for putting in a half-assed effort, and his vocal acrobatics set the bar out of reach for many seasoned metal singers.
“It’s very intimidating because they’re big shoes to fill,” Kiernan agrees. “I’ve been listening to Into Eternity since high school, and I even remember when Stu joined the band. I wasn’t very happy about that, so I understand how everyone would be feeling right now. Then again, I can’t believe that I get the honour to take on such an amazing opportunity. I don’t know… why me? But I’m so thankful and I’m going to give it all I’ve got. It’s a huge challenge singing Stu’s parts.”
“It really helps that I’ve been in my other band, The Order Of Chaos, for seven years, so it’s almost like I got a head start. But then again, these Into Eternity vocals are a whole new level for me. It’s very difficult, but you can do anything you want to if you just put the time into it every day all day. I always say you need practice, practice, practice and passion. Even now, being the new touring singer, it’s surreal to me. I can’t believe all the hard work I did and this is actually happening. I proved to myself and everyone that I can do it all, but I couldn’t have done it without all my family and friends, The Order Of Chaos, and the members of Into Eternity.”
As it turns out, Kiernan didn’t have to resort to crossing her fingers and hoping for the best. Block was on hand to guide her through the process of following and hopefully matching his footsteps.
“Stu actually came to my audition and taught me to get into the music and own every word,” she reveals. “That helped the most, I think. He has so much control with his vocals and just listening to him sing even only after two days, I’ve learnt so much from him. I’m actually singing in a much different way, and my other band has even noticed that I’ve gotten so much better in just three months. Stu is amazing and I know I’m never going to sound exactly like him. It’s going to be my own style and I’m going to put my 110% into it. The only thing I have a hard time with is the really low growls, but I’ve become a part of the most amazing talented group of people in Into Eternity, so it’s not a problem.”
As mentioned, the fans seem to be on Kiernan’s side in what could have been an unpleasant uphill battle for her and the band.
“The fans are amazing! At first they’re very skeptical and they don’t know what to think and I understand all of that. But it seems by the end of the show they respond positively. They’ve all been so supportive. I never know how it’s going to go and I get nervous, but the way the fans have reacted so far… so very awesome! And it blows me away when they say the things they do. It makes me blush (laughs).”
Even as Into Eternity wrestle with continuing questions as to Block’s status in the band, Kiernan is going through a similar situation herself, having to reassure The Order Of Chaos fans that she hasn’t abandoned ship.
“It has been kind of difficult to balance both bands because I’m the kind of person who needs to make everyone around me happy, but so far it’s been good. Tim is a very understanding person and I’m thankful for that.”
“The Order Of Chaos has a lot of plans,” she adds. “We’re recording our third album, touring Europe in the summer, music videos, and many other things. We’ve been waiting for a European opportunity for many years so this is a big deal for us, so we’re very excited and thankful. Into Eternity has some tours lined up and I can’t wait to travel the world with them. I think it’s going to be an amazing experience, and it’ll only go up from here. It’s going to be a lot of hard work and I’m going to be a very busy singer, but I can’t wait. As long as there’s communication and understanding it shouldn’t be a problem.”
In closing, Kiernan offers her thoughts on what compelled her to audition for Into Eternity in the first place and how it feels to be a part of that inner circle…
“The way I feel when I’m on that stage is more amazing than anyone would know, and that sensation is the reason why any musician does this. It’s the best feeling ever. The energy, the crowd, the adrenaline… it’s bliss. Working with Into Eternity and being on the stage with them has been the most amazing, exciting, awesome experience of my life. I’ve fallen in love with all of them, and their friends and families. I’ve never been treated with more respect and had so much fun in my life! I’m honoured to share the stage with them and I thank them all so much for giving me the most incredible opportunity.”
For more on Kiernan joining Into Eternity, check out an interview with guitarist / founder Tim Roth here.
Kiernan’s ‘Sandstorm’ audition clip can be found here.
Live photos used with kind permission of Amanda Kiernan and J Kiernan Photography. Stu Block photo lifted from the Century Media promo archives.