Jon Rhys Voerman - "I never wanted to be a death metal artist but my voice was only ever fit to do screaming, which kinda boxed me in. Now, I’m finding singers that give me a wider range to write what I want without constraints." - Stereo Stickman

Jon Rhys Voerman “I never wanted to be a death metal artist but my voice was only ever fit to do screaming, which kinda boxed me in. Now, I’m finding singers that give me a wider range to write what I want without constraints.”


Hard rock and metal guitarist extraordinaire Jon Rhys Voerman has built an impressive name for himself on top of a lifetime devoted to music.

To coincide with the launch of his latest genre-bending single Serial Killer, we caught an interview with Jon, to dig a little deeper into his creative journey so far. Here’s how it went.

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Hi Jon – excited to chat with you, massive congrats for the recent release of Serial Killer! For those who don’t know, where are you based, and who or what first inspired you to make music?

Hi! Thank you so much for having me and thank you so much for the congratulations! Aye, good place to start haha. Well, I’m Northern Irish born, bred, raised, living and suffering haha. I’m originally from Larne but not living there anymore.

I’ve always been into music. My mum was always playing Def Leppard, Bon Jovi and things like that when I was growing up. In fact, the first album I ever remember hearing was Rainbow’s Stranger In Us All. So growing up, my older sister and I eventually got drawn towards rock and metal, buying records like Sum 41 and Linkin Park and all, getting heavier over the years until it was Slipknot, Devildriver etc. If you asked me as a kid, I always said I wanted to be a rockstar or a scientist.

When I was 11 and starting high school in 2005 was when my sister introduced me to Children Of Bodom though and that’s when things really changed. The Hatebreeder album absolutely blew me away with the fact it was aggressive but yet melodic with all these classical elements. I’d never heard that before. I was stunned. It made me REALLY listen to the music of other bands, how every instrument played off one another. A few months after I turned 12, I begged my sister to teach me guitar. She taught me how to read tabs, how to play Iron Man, and here we are now.

Let’s talk about the new single – a soaring heavy soundscape with a unique twist of songwriting and production. What was the creative process for Serial Killer, and what specifically inspired the concept?  

Believe it or not, Serial Killer was heavily inspired by rave music, or like “clubland” music like Cascada and all that, and emo music. Since the last release, I’ve been trying to expand my creativity to get out of the rut of my style of metal. So I turned to the two music avenues I’ve listened to the least through my life: rave and emo.

I wanted to emulate that thumping feeling of rave music, those build ups, that sudden drop and sudden rise, with the simplicity and vocals of emo music. Of course, it all comes through the filter of being “me” with the harmonies I like and all but I think the elements come across.

When it came to the lyrics, honestly, it was just a case that I was heading to the shop one day and the title Serial Killer just popped into my head and I worked from there.

The Suicidal Arts follows with a more progressive metal, nostalgic darkness about it. Were these two written and recorded in unison, and what’s the main difference in their addressing of the subject matter?

The Suicidal Arts was written and recorded in two days while I was waiting for the vocalist to do her part. It came together so quickly and everything fit together perfectly.

I think The Suicidal Arts deals more with the endgame; the hopelessness, the exhaustion, the living of depression as a lifestyle to the point of planning whereas with Serial Killer the narrator is still almost pleading and begging while they’re acknowledging the turmoil.

When did you first start playing guitar, how long did it take you to master the instrument, and what do you still have left to perfect or learn as a musician?

I started playing in the Easter of 2006 when I was 12 years old. Almost 18 years later, I don’t think I’m even close to mastering it. I was considered one of the “better” guitar players around by the time I was entering music college in 2010, I had my improvisation down and my neo-classical style had reared its head in my playing by then so I had most required techniques for lead metal/rock playing down by 16.

Hmm, I definitely need to work on my finger picking. I’ve always wanted to but I don’t own a classical guitar and not much fingerstyle interests me outside classical guitar and flamenco guitar.

Outside guitar, I’d like to improve my composition skills for orchestra. I enjoy composing pieces for strings, flute and all, I even won the King’s Peak International Award for composition last year, but I have little knowledge of composing for horns or percussion. It’s something I’m slowly learning in my time off.

You’ve built an impressive following on social media, what do you think it is about what you do musically or as a performer that’s connecting so well?

Honestly, I think a lot of my followers enjoy that I don’t take myself too seriously as a metalhead. I love pop music and I’m not afraid to stick on Britney or Gaga or whatever and play guitar over them. I’m also not afraid to just be generally a bit of a muppet. I sing along to songs on my TikTok lives, I make faces, I laugh at mistakes I make, I play with my teddies, I talk to people about the most random things…Hell, I released covers of Gay Bar and Things That Go Bump In The Night early on.

Sure, some people just want a metal head that’s just gonna blast metal music and I get some backlash for it but I’m there to have a bit of craic if people want it.

“If you’re a rocker or a metal head with guilty pleasures, come to my live and we’ll all jam out some Backstreet Boys y’know? I think relatability has been just as important as the actual music.”

What did the 2023 album At Death’s Door represent for you, and what does the latest single signify in terms of what fans can expect from you this year?

At Death’s Door was representative of, honestly, a very, very dark time in my life that I was just coming out of when it was released. I honestly think that’s probably the most upfront and personal I’ve been, lyrically, on an album. It wasn’t until I got the inspiration for Back To The Fire that I felt in a good enough place mentally to start working on actually finishing it and releasing it.

I think Serial Killer is a signal for fans that I’ve been sending for a while that, if I can afford it, I’m gonna be making some changes. Not necessarily to that style specifically but away from just doing death metal.

I never wanted to be a death metal artist but my voice was only ever fit to do screaming which kinda boxed me in. Now, I’m finding singers that will give me a wider range to be able to write what I want without constraints. Without saying “I can’t write this guitar line, it won’t sound good with screaming over it” or “I want to do this vocal line but I can’t sing”. The death metal aspect won’t go away entirely, there’ll still be those songs, but I want to explore further my own musicality.

Do you plan to perform live or tour much in the coming months?

Unfortunately not. As I suffer from epilepsy and it’s not fully under control yet, performances are just too risky for my own safety.

What’s your best piece of advice for young guitarists who are finding the learning process frustrating?

Metronome. Metronome, metronome, metronome. I know it’s cliché and boring to hear, no budding guitarist wants to hear it, but it’s the truth.

“The metronome is essential to keeping your techniques clean and in time. Over time, the results will astound you.”

Another piece of advice I’d have to give is if you’re looking to define your own style and sound, try venturing outside rock and metal. Study another genre you like. I went and studied Vivaldi, Bach, Mozart and Paganini, along with some Gypsy Jazz like Django Reinhardt, and applied their music techniques to my playing.

There’s a whole world of music out there, don’t let yourself get stuck in one area.

Is there anything else you’d like to say?

I just wanna thank you for taking the time to talk to me. I appreciate it highly!

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Massive thanks to Jon too, for his time & insight. Find Jon Rhys Voerman on Instagram, TikTok & Apple.

Rebecca Cullen

Founder & Editor

Founder, Editor, Musician & MA Songwriter

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