Aneurysm leaps from the minds of Cythera

by Ryan Snyder

Aneurysm leaps from the minds of Cythera

It happened in a morbidly serendipitous turn of fortune, but the doctor’s visit that Cliff Schneider, guitarist for former Greensboro metal band Utica, made in late January 2008 would invariably set in motion a more providential chain of events.

He went in to investigate cases of vertigo that had been troubling him at the time, but the examination would result in a much more unwelcome revelation than anticipated. Schneider would learn that there was an 11millimeter wide aneurysm discovered between his frontal and temporal brain lobes and it was would require immediate attention. Headed into an eight-hour surgical procedure, the other band members would learn of Schneider’s fate from his younger brother Ryan (better known as Fish), who also performed vocals in the band, only hours before a scheduled date. “We were supposed to drive to Winston and Fish called me and said we’re not going,” said drummer Rick Miller. “I said, ‘What are you talking about?’ And all he said was that Cliff was in the hospital.” Forty staples in his head and three months of recovery later, Schneider was able to resume his daily routine. Since it was unsafe to be exposed to high volume during his rehabilitation, he picked up his acoustic guitar as soon as he was able and started writing new material. It was elsewhere within the band, however, that wheels were turning to advance the project that he and his brother had helped start in 2006. Utica was evolving into its current incarnation, now known as Cythera (, and there would be a new face that came with it. “I was just looking for some people to jam with while Cliff was out and that’s when Johnny Boy answered the call,” said Fish. “The first thing he did was hit this Pantera riff and that’s about when I fell in love with his playing.” Johnny Boy, known also by his given name Andrew Meracle, came on as the band’s second guitarist and according to the younger Schneider, would become integral to changing the face of the band. “He opened up a whole new kind of energy. It’s good to have another person who thrashes around and stays pumped the whole time,” said Fish. “He also has a very distinctive style. I could never hear his stuff and not recognize it instantly.” The chemistry between the elder Schneider and newcomer Johnny Boy sparked almost instantaneously and the band began honing the material that would eventually comprise their debut album, not coincidentally titled Aneurysm. It’s a dark, brooding album full of Fish’s pained lyricism and riffage that traverses the border between heavy and melodic, though not directly inspired by his brother’s ordeal. The lyrics, Fish says, arrive from the band’s inherently selfish nature; not that of petty egocentricism, but of the need to satisfy their own creative hungers before that of anyone else. The end result, he hopes, will translate into a final product that will be respected by their fans as much as it is enjoyed. “It’s definitely not just something that you pop in and listen to on the way to work,” he added. “I want you to put on your headphones and just close your eyes and go to the same place we were when we made it.” Taking the album’s emotional nature into context, it must be assumed that Cythera’s live performances carry the same magnitude. The band is constantly fine-tuning its live show, with the recent addition of auxiliary percussion manned by Fish during instrumental portions of their shows. “We try our best to put on a real show and not just give the audience an album from top to bottom,” said Fish. “It doesn’t really matter what the audience is doing, whether they’re moshing or standing still, we always try and bring it as much as possible.”

Cythera will be performing at the Somewhere Else Tavern on Thursday at 8 p.m. and on Saturday at 9 p.m.

Band chemistry propels Cythera through their debut album Aneurysm.