Virginia-born heavy metal outfit NAUTILUS has accomplished more than most bands have in the short time that they have been together. The band’s current lineup includes guitarist Clark Leeuwrik, vocalist Michael Kearney, drummer Matt Mckessor, and bassist Danny Pergament. After sharpening their teeth and honing their talents with some of the biggest bands in the metal scene, they are on the cusp of releasing their debut EP Burden. Kearney, NAUTILUS’ frontman, sat down with us to share with us the details of their humble beginnings, musical style, and when fans can expect to own their debut release.

You’ve burst onto the metal scene as an up and coming band to be reckoned with. How did this band get started and hit the ground running?

I started the band because I had always lived in a place where I wasn’t able to express my musical ambition for the longest time — Zürich, Switzerland to be exact. I moved to the U.S. for my freshman year of high school and immediately discovered how much more opportunity I had here. I started the band originally with the drummer from BEYOND THE AFTERMATH, Lucas Shackleford, but as he lived more than two hours away, it wasn’t something that would work out. I found Matt Mckessor, our current drummer, and we branched out from there, finding artists to create our logo, and working hard to get us off the ground and our name in people’s mouths as quickly as possible. Fun fact: We booked the AS BLOOD RUNS BLACK show with two members. We had two months to get a band together, write a 20 minute set, and sell tickets. And we actually managed to pull it off.

Band names are fairly unique to the group of people forming to create their respective sound. As far as metal band names go, there are literally thousands of different names ranging from the very lighthearted to the grotesque. What led NAUTILUS to choose this name?

Our name actually was inspired by a song from THE ACACIA STRAIN entitled, “The Chambered Nautilus.” It’s always been one of my favorite songs after looking into what a chambered nautilus actually was, and the animal looked so cool to me, with a name to match.


Your band has already shared the stage with some of the biggest names in heavy metal, including AS BLOOD RUNS BLACK, UPON THIS DAWNING, and ELITIST. Not many new bands can say they’ve done something like that. How have those experiences helped shape you as a collective and as individuals?

We can definitely say that that show helped us out a lot. It was our first major show, our first one at a venue, and there was an amazing amount of people. It was really humbling to see the reaction to our music.

You’ve also done guest vocals for notable bands such as RINGS OF SATURN. What is the story behind how that came to pass?

I’ve actually had quite a few people ask me that question, and it’s pretty fun to tell the story. I literally wrote to Ian Bearer, their vocalist, on Facebook and said “Hey, I’m playing the November 14th show with you guys. Could I do guest vocals for “Seized and Devoured,” and he was totally fine with it.


You released a snippet of “Kalina” from your upcoming EP, and it was met with much excitement and anticipation for the full release. Were you expecting the response to be as positive as it was?

The clip we released was all pre-pro, and we actually aren’t even using those guitars or vocals for the official release. We had something solid and heavy, and we felt as though we needed to release at least something for everyone waiting. Because of the subpar quality, we weren’t really expecting such an awesome response, but it was definitely still so cool to see.

NAUTILUS describes itself as a down-tempo/beat down band for fans of “stupid heavy breakdowns.” How does that distinction set NAUTILUS apart from your peers and among metal bands in general?

Well, when Matt and I started the band, we knew right off the bat we didn’t want to be a technical band. We weren’t in it to show off at all, but rather to create the most disgusting and brutal music we could think of. Beatdown is a fun genre, [and] not necessarily a genre that excels in technicality. That’s why it gets so much hate. It’s a running joke in our band that the NoVA scene consists entirely of pop punk bands, deathcore bands, and Christian metalcore bands who write “Metal/Hardcore” as their genre. We’ve noticed that there’s been quite an interest in our style of music as of late. Beatdown is on the rise because of acts like BEYOND THE AFTERMATH, IMMORTALIST, I, LEVIATHAN, and GOD OF NOTHING.


In addition to performing at Empire’s Melt Your Face Metal Show on January 16 with A DARK DESCENT, you are supporting another Virginia-native band, VILIFIED, for their EP release on January 31. Do you feel a lot of pride in helping build the reputation of your hometown music scene?

Definitely. Without support, all bands go nowhere, so supporting other local bands is something we’re more than keen on doing. Because as a band, and individually, we take every opportunity [to do so].

Before we wrap up, I know there are fans, myself included, who are wondering when your EP “Burden” will be released. Are you able to shed any light on where the band is with their debut recording?

We just released the album art and track list with guest vocal spots on our Facebook page. Everything’s tracked, and we’re in the final steps of production. Soon we’ll be able to announce a release date.

[Update: NAUTILUS will be releasing their debut EP Burden at their show with OCEANO at Empire in West Springfield, Va. on March 29, 2015. Come out to show your support.]

For more updates on NAUTILUS and to join the “Deep Sea Hate Crew,” be sure to “like” their Facebook page, and follow them on Twitter.

Joe Fitzpatrick

Joe Fitzpatrick

As editor-in-chief, Joe is very passionate about promoting music and culture in Virginia and DC. A resident of Falls Church, Joe enjoys going to shows, checking out local breweries, and trying new foods with friends.


  1. Awesome article! Nautilus’ story to date shows what can be done with talent, hard work and belief in yourself!! I’m so excited to follow them, because they’re going all the way.

  2. Awesome article! Nautilus’ story to date shows what can be done with talent, hard work and belief in yourself!! I’m so excited to follow them, because they’re going all the way.

  3. Great article! It’s good to know Nautilus is drawing the attention it deserves.

  4. Great article! It’s good to know Nautilus is drawing the attention it deserves.

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