Lack of money, lack of time... [are] the testing stages and they need to be like this. (On being an unsigned band)
As the Metal 2 The Masses (M2TM) kicks into full swing with heats across the breadth of the UK and abroad taking place, bands progressing whilst some fall by the wayside, it's once again time for GMA to probe the bands who have entered this prestigious competition that allows the eventual region winners to earn a slot at playing the New Blood Stage at Bloodstock Open Air Festival near Burton-Upon-Trent.
Third up is Callus from Lancashire; questions answered by guitarist / vocalist Louis Clarke.
Debut EP out now
For those not in the know, please explain how Callus formed?
"Callus formed in early 2013 in Lancaster, Ben and I had been friends since high school and enjoyed the same bands and getting pissed together, so it was only natural that we wanted to form a band. We encountered Mark shortly after and that's when things really clicked for us and when we knew we had the proper line-up. I think we played our first show with Mark in Barrow, Cumbria."
Is this your first time in M2TM? If no when did you previously enter? If yes what are your emotions like?
"This will be our second stab at M2TM, we played last years event in Burnley. We are like a caged violent demon-boar at this point... ready to bust loose and launch an assault on all of your senses."
How important is the M2TM initiative for unsigned bands? Irrespective of whether they win their regional heats?
"I do think M2TM is pretty important for unsigned bands, obviously it gets them in there with a chance at playing the main event. Not only that, but with all the attention that the heats get it makes the nights pretty awesome in themselves, which is still great if you are like us last year getting knocked out in the first round (!). The nights always end up being heavily populated as far as we can tell."
What is the Lancashire scene like? Please tell us about local bands, venues, etc.
"Lancashire's scene is pretty good, we try not to take too much notice on what everyone else is doing in scenes though. We like to do our own thing really, if people enjoy it then that's amazing and that makes our night, if not then that's cool as well we enjoy it all the same.
As far as local bands go Lancaster can boast some pretty meaty bands especially with the likes of Bloodyard (who of course won M2TM a couple of years ago) and Insurgency really starting to break out and make a name for themselves. A favourite band of ours is Boss Keloid although they probably don't know it... it blows my mind that something so original and moving came out of Lancashire, Wigan I think to be precise. Of course Manchester seems to be "Where its all happening" though.
As far as venues we love the Yorkshire House (Lancaster) to bits, and we have grown especially fond of The Dark Room at Roper Hall, Preston. Both killer venues."
Will you be going to Bloodstock even if you don't progress to the finals?
"I think at least one of us may go to Bloodstock this year, but last years line-up was outstanding and pretty hard to top for us... A bunch of us went though even though we didn't get through our round of M2TM. With the likes of Boss Keloid, Foetal Juice, Rotting Christ, Gojira, Mastodon and Slayer it was too good to miss. We also made sure to catch After The Abduction who we have played with before at The Alma Inn, Bolton and The Star and Garter, Manchester (two more awesome venues in Lancashire), who won last years M2TM... those guys bossed the New Blood stage."
What are the hardest challenges of running an unsigned band these days?
"One of the hardest challenges of running an unsigned band has to be a matter of time and money... two of us each have kids, all of us have jobs and responsibilities yeah it can be tough. Lack of money, lack of time... its all a test but that's life its just how it goes. These are the testing stages and they need to be like this. Although if someone wants to sign us and pay for our shit then we will have a chat right?"
What plans do you have for the rest of the year and are there any messages you wish to send out to people?
"The plan for the rest of the year is play as many shows as we can and try to reach as many people as we can. We just released our first E.P. as well called Through, Blood, Sweat, Piss and Pain so we want to support that as much as we can and drill that into as many peoples heads as possible. We have something really big planned for early next year so we are trying to build up as much momentum as possible.
Come to a show if you haven't already, you might be surprised... you might not... still reading? Congratulations if you got this far! Through, Blood, Sweat, Piss and Pain."
What many could argue as Russia's answer to Hollywood Undead and Disturbed, Slot (Слот) have been rampaging Moscow's streets for 15 years with the gritty style of Nu Metal / Rapcore. Having released their latest album last year (SEPTIMA), Slot are leading the new wave of Russian Metal with fellow compatriots Save and MagnetiC forming a new breed of metal band.
Arguably they're part of a wider 'Eastern European' Nu Metal movement with the likes of Jinjer and Infected Rain from Moldova being the latest to bring a new edge to the seemingly dead Nu Metal sound. Slot however were yet to break into the wider international metal arena... until now, as they sign a deal with Sliptrick Records to distribute their album outside of Russian territories; additionally they're releasing online a compilation of their best songs marking their 15th anniversary.
Vocalists Igor "Cache" Lobanov and Daria "Nookie" Stavrovich were more than happy to share an insight into Slot's world.
"Years ago there was one alternative music TV channel called “A-One”, which supported rock music in Russia."
Hi guys, for those who don't know who Slot are could you give us a brief background history?
Cache: "OK, we formed in Moscow 15 years ago. Nookie joined us in 2006. Last year we released our seventh album and there’s a lot of things that actually happened throughout those years. If you want to know who we are, go to iTunes or whatever and check out some of our music. By the way, we are about to release our “best of” this April, it is called “15” and it’s the best way to get to know us; through listening to this release."
The Russian Metal scene is quite underground and yet there are so many decent bands, what problems is the scene facing?
Nookie:"The first and the main problem – there’s no metal bands featured in the traditional media and no support comes from them at all. It’s not only about really extreme bands, but about anything that is even slightly harder than a feather. And of course this is not good for the genre. Everything is working just because artists’ enthusiasm and talent are there; more emphasis on enthusiasm though."
Cache:"The underground is out of show business, actually. Each band is on its own and survives by itself. Loads of potentially good bands just disappear after a while, because they can’t combine the day job and music well together. The absence of 'music schools' is also a problem, it concerns musicians, sound engineers, everyone. Well, I guess it is common for everywhere – metal is not in such favour as pop music."
Have you got any plans to tour the UK and indeed Europe?
Nookie: "We’ll be in Topfest in Slovakia this summer. Check it out - http://www.topfest.sk. As for the rest of the world – we are open to your invitations! There are means of contact with our manager on our site, if you want to book us for any concert in your country, drop him a line."
Is it relatively hard touring Russia given its vastness and time zone differences?
Nookie: "It’s ok, time zones do not change so fast. But the country is really big, so by the time you finished the previous tour, it’s time to go on to the next one."
Cache: "Sometimes gigs happen in some kind of 'anabiosis'. The distance between cities in Eastern Russia is big, so sometimes to get from one city to another you should cross a couple of countries such as Poland for example. But what can we do – people want to see us from all over the country!"
What plans does the band have for the rest of this year?
Nookie: "We have our anniversary tour this spring and then during the autumn. We release “best of” soon and our label will probably release one of our concerts on DVD this fall."
You've been going for over a decade, what challenges and issues have you had along the way?
Cache: "The main challenge – is relations within the band. It’s hard to work without tensions among the band members during those 15 years, but we don’t allow these tensions to destroy mutual respect and good communication. And we are proud, that we managed to do it. And we still exist as a band."
Nookie:"While there were some turbulence in the band: some people left, some came in, it is now quite a stable band. We accepted all the changes as changes for the best. Years ago there was one alternative music TV channel called “A-One”, which supported rock music in Russia. It has helped many bands, many bands disappeared as soon as this channel was shut down. Slot survived and our next TV appearance was also a challenge – I mean my participation in “The Voice”. But we used this show to promote rock music a little bit."
What hobbies / interests do you have outside of music and your day job?
Nookie: "I don’t actually have one. Besides Slot I have my solo project “Nookie” and I make scores for animation and even musicals as a composer."
Cache: "I don’t usually have spare time, but when I do, I’m into photography and design. I even have my Instagram where I upload all the materials. @designofoto and I can count my solo project ModeM as a hobby, this is different from Slot musically speaking, so I can call this a hobby in some way"
Finally have you got any hello's or thank yours you wish to send out.
Nookie:"We know how many people outside of Russia love Slot, and we really appreciate it! Thank you very much for your support!"
A decade seems a long while right? Well to most it does, but perhaps not so much for Aevum who have just last month released their second album 'Dischronia', a heavenly slab of Symphonic Metal devised by the Italian octet.
However over their decade of activity the band's world was slewed by numerous line-up changes, thus hindering the time when they would unleash their debut album 'Impressions' (2014); a full 7 years since their birth.
But for a band who hails from the city used for 'The Italian Job', Turin, their new-found blueprint certainly seems to have them on the right path and perhaps might become a shining beacon within the Symphonic Metal movement. Aevum were more than happy to let GMA into a few secrets as the interview shall now reveal....
How did Aevum start and were the members in bands previously?
"We started in Turin in 2007, we were so young at the time... in the beginning it was like a garage band, we had no particular goals, just a huge will to play and express our feelings through the music we love."
It's been a decade since Aevum started and you've just released your second album, what challenges have you had to overcome?
"How far ahead you can see; it took us four years to move from the first EP onto the second EP. We had to take our time to find the right set-up and the perfect line-up for our project. We consider 2011 our real year of birth.
A band is like a big family... you have to overcome many different situations as they happen. Our hardest challenge was the 2016 line-up change... we had to find the right people committed to this project, and we made it! Now we are completely satisfied about the line-up, we are so close to each other, and Dischronia represents the amazing result of this intense teamwork."
Symphonic Metal seems to be well-represented in Italy, what made you decide to make this music and is Symphonic Metal popular?
"The symphonic scene is an important reality in Italy. I think that this kind of music gives you the chance to express your feelings and ideas through many different musical aspects. When you listen, our music is inspired by many influences and 'Dischronia', as our previous album 'Impressions', acknowledges other music styles too... jazz beat, swing, blues, heavy metal, black metal, electro, dubstep, reggae... and many more.."
Will there be a tour in support of the new album? If so where are you playing? Is the UK in sight? Are you worried about Brexit? "Sure, we are working in partnership with the Alpha and Omega booking agency to get gigs in different countries this year. Actually we can't give you any more details than that, but we are preparing something special and maybe, we hope, we will be able to reach some venues in the UK too.
What about Brexit? We are not worried but certainly we are sad about this, we think that we have lost a good opportunity to stick together to make Europe a better place to live."
Could you give us a brief overview of what each song title means?
"You have to know that 'Dischronia' is the diary of a modern, dystopic travel. It retraces the journeys of the Romantic wanderers who, travelling through Europe to see the most astonishing views, cities and masterpieces, fulfilled their souls. The booklet is structured as an actual diary. Each song is inspired by a famous Italian painting or sculpture, especially from the Baroque age.
'Death of the Virgin', for instance, is both inspired and dedicated to the well-known Caravaggio's portrait.
'The Vitruvian Condition' refers to Leonardo Da Vinci, as well as Beltade.
'Inner fire' is inspired by Judith beheading Holofernes, painting by Artemisia Gentileschi, one of the few female painters in the whole history of art.
We invite you to find out or guess the sources of inspirations of the other songs!"
What can you tell us about the Turin Metal scene? e.g. venues, bands, etc
"Wow, that's a tough and awkward question. We are not very proud of our country and in particular our town. Few and fewer people get used to following the underground scene and for different reasons too many venues have closed or are closing.
At the same time it's getting harder and harder to find the right places to play, but still, we have lots of good bands and good musicians in Turin... so we hope that something can change in the future".
What sights / attractions should metalheads see in Turin?
"Turin is less known than Rome, Florence, Venice, etc., but you can bet it's a wonderful town, just like the others mentioned before! Turin was a royal city, it was the first capital of the Kingdom of Italy. I think that the streets, the squares, the buildings still reflect this royal ancestry.
In Turin there are many things to see, from different ages: you have the Roman doors to the city, the Baroque royal castle, lovely porticoed avenues, stunning churches, trendy shops, delicious restaurants... really, tourists shouldn't miss a trip to our town!"
What are your plans for the rest of the year?
"Our plans? Conquer the world! (lol) Certainly we would like to spread our music as much as possible around the world. We hope to play in Europe and, if possible, outside the European borders too. So... we hope to have an intense year, full of new exciting experiences, new people, new friends, new places, new venues... see you on the road!"