Australia. The very mention of the country's name sparks off the thoughts of sandy beaches, BBQ's, stray kangeroo's and the Sydney Opera House. Underneath all the glitz and glamour of this glorious nation known colloquially as 'down under', Australia has a savage metal scene that has seen the likes of Ne Oblivicaris, The Berzerker, Buried In Verona, Thy Art Is Murder and Destroyer 666 among others break out into the wider international metal community over the last 2 decades.
But despite the success of the bands above, the scene as a whole seems rather isolated when it comes to touring. It's down to bands like Aetherial who look at the challenges ahead, take them head on and forge their own path to progress forward. For Aetherial this is through the concrete metropolis of Melbourne, famed for it's Grand Prix circuit. GMA spoke to Cassandra, the band's bassist to unearth what the band is all about, what the scenes down under are like, their new single, visiting local attractions and 2018 plans.
As Fosters put it. Good Call.
"I don't see why metal [bands] can’t emerge from smaller nations like Fiji or the Solomon Islands - they would have to be creative [with music exposure]. If bands can emerge out of countries like Saudi Arabia where it is illegal to play metal, I'm sure we will see some coming out of places like Fiji - metal doesn't have boundaries!"
Hi guys, for those unfamiliar with Aetherial could you give us a brief history of the band? Were you / are you in previous / current bands?
"Hey, thanks for having us Global Metal Apocalypse! I’m Cassandra, bassist in Aetherial.
Currently, we are based in Melbourne, Australia. Aetherial was formed by Shep and myself in 2013. Previously, we both played in a stoner / metal / grunge band called Cave Of The Swallows which also featured our friend and original Aetherial drummer Mr Paul Gatt. Shep was also the former vocalist in the South Australian-based Stoner / Southern Rock band Mammoth, with ex-Suffocation / Autopsy member Josh Barohn.
We recorded our album, 'The Still Waters of Oblivion' over a two year period at Everland Productions. In 2016 we signed with New York-based management company Extreme Management Group and most recently this year to Imminence Records in the US and Truth Inc Records over here in Australia, who will be jointly releasing the album worldwide November 10th."
What is the Melbourne and wider Australian Metal scene like? Do most bands do a tour of Australia and New Zealand than SE Asia?
"From a Melbourne perspective, the scene is pretty small, there are a handful of good venues to play at in the city and some good regional venues that work hard to keep live music going outside of the city. Unfortunately over the past 5-10 years quite a few great live music venues have closed down in Melbourne due to residential developments and noise restrictions, which has made it difficult for smaller bands to get a gig. A smaller population in general will always impact audience size and peoples interest and engagement in metal, particularly as its not common in mainstream culture here.
It is common for bands over here to tour the East Coast in the main cities, Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane with a few stops in-between. But the sheer distance in-between and cost that is involved with getting to these places often prevents many bands embarking on a full national tour. You see a few bands heading over to New Zealand and Asia, generally larger more established bands though."
What are the challenges of being an Australian Metal band?
"Getting your music seen and heard!! There is a lot of really good music over here, if people would take the time to listen to it! Getting people to shows is another massive hurdle over here. People will have no hesitation paying $150+ to see established bands, but will not pay $10 to see 4 local acts?
Breaking through to reach people outside of the country, even reaching new fans interstate is also very challenging. It is important to utilise social media to try and get out there and engage people, it is a continual and ongoing aspect of being in a band now, particularly with reach being limited on Facebook and now Instagram for bands unless you pay for it. Many Australian bands head overseas to Europe or the US, simply because they can reach more people and play more shows!"
You just released your new single 'The Fallen Mark The Way' from your forthcoming album, what has reception been like?
"Great thanks! We have had a lot of good feedback from our fans and made a bunch of new fans too! It’s always great to hear positive words from people who get inspired from hearing our music."
Check out the lyric video for 'The Fallen Will Mark The Way' (taken from Aetherial's forthcoming debut album 'The Still Waters Of Oblivion') below.
Seeing as Oceania is slightly isolated, could you see metal music ever emerging from countries like Fiji and the Solomon Islands? Is metal music in Australia widely accepted?
"Yes, it is rather isolated over here! We don't get a lot of bands touring here. It is a long way to come and quite expensive to travel here. Due to our smaller population the audiences are a lot smaller compared to overseas as well.
Metal music generally is not part of the everyday culture over here, like it is over in Europe. It’s accepted by those involved in the scene and other musicians, but in the general population it’s not particularly well known, well received or publicised. For example metal or even hard rock is not played on commercial radio, it’s really only played on dedicated metal or hard rock community radio shows. People over here still have a lot of preconceptions about the music, artwork and general themes of metal; most people don’t / can't understand it, they seem to find the content too confronting and don't want to be involved. Hopefully though with some amazing bands coming out of Australia now more people are becoming interested in the genre.
I don't see why metal can’t emerge from smaller nations like Fiji or the Solomon Islands - There’s probably already some killer bands over there! However, I think they would have to be creative with how they get their music out there. If bands can emerge out of countries like Saudi Arabia where it is illegal to play metal, I'm sure we will see some coming out of places like Fiji - metal doesn't have boundaries!"
For metalheads holidaying in Melbourne, aside from the Grand Prix, are there any attractions / sightseeing locations you would recommend?
"Yes!! You could seriously spend months here and not see everything - the great thing about Melbourne is that there is always something going on and to discover! There are some amazing music stores where you can pick up some vintage and / or rare guitars / amps / pedals like Found Sound or The Swop Shop. For art lovers, there are so many tiny galleries all over the city showing local art and The National Gallery has killer diverse exhibitions from Van Gogh to Dior to Mid Century Modern Furniture.
For wine lovers, you can take a day trip down the coast to the Mornington Peninsula or The Yarra Valley, for amazing wine and scenery. You can visit boutique spirit distilleries like Starward Whisky in Port Melbourne or Four Pillars Gin in the Yarra Valley - which seriously gives some of the English Gin a run for it money! Melbourne is paradise for lovers of good food and coffee!! With markets like South Melbourne and Prahran Markets and amazing restaurants on every corner. There are festivals for Beer, Cheese, Salami and now even a chicken nugget festival. The Great Ocean Road makes for a good drive- for beautiful rugged coastline, Healesville Sanctuary for meeting kangaroos, koalas and other native animals. And of course you can catch some local bands at The Brunswick Hotel, The Bendigo Hotel or Cherry Bar, folks over here are always up for a chat and a beer."
With your debut album 'The Still Waters Of Oblivion' out in a week's time, will there be a tour supporting the album?
"There definitely will! The Australian Tour will take place early next year with hopefully some International dates to be announced as well! But you’ll have to stay tuned to our social media pages to get the details."
What plans have you got leading into 2018? Do you have any greetings you wish to send out?
"Lots of touring and promoting our record! We currently have some killer merch available now at Merchnow and there’s some brutal new merch coming out soon! Shep and I have been co-hosting a heavy metal radio show once a month on Melbourne’s 3CR called The Heavy Session, so along with our friend and host Chris we have some awesome plans for the show as well.
We’d love to send a massive hello, to all our friends and fans over in UK - we’re working hard to come over and play for y’all in 2018!!! Thanks very much for the support!"
This time the victim to fall into the GMA interrogation cell is guitarist Bizz, of whom formerly played with the American industrial metal act Genitorturers feat. David Vincent of Morbid Angel. Bizz now plays with the Australian Industrial Metal / Alternative Metal mob Our Last Enemy and it was time for GMA to get the low down behind why Our Last Enemy could be the next big Industrial metal export since the glorious days of The Berzerker (minus the grind). No musicians were harmed in the interrogation process.
By Rhys Stevenson
So Bizz, how long has Our Last Enemy been going and what would you say the band's music style is without the use of genre tagging or cliches?
Our Last Enemy was formed in 2006. Our music is 10% inspiration and 90% perspiration. I'd say it's 50 / 50 but it only takes moments to dream up some killer riffs, but it takes a much longer time to work out the finer details to get the most out of those cool riffs and other musical parts. In other words, inspiration comes easily. It's the arrangements and the finer details that require lots of attention. I think that's where most bands go wrong. They just slap a song together and call it 'good enough'. We don't do that. Sure, it ALWAYS starts with inspiration, but to end up with a final product that you're truly happy with, it takes a lot of work. That said, there is the occasional song that just seems to write itself, and it all comes together quickly. But even with songs like that, we like to dig deep into it and make it the absolute best it can be. I think it's called O.C.D. Haha! But seriously, after all is said and done, an artist must know when the painting is done. And that is one of the reasons we run this band as a true democracy. We vote on what stays and what goes, until the majority feel that the song is complete. From there, the songs just sort of mutate naturally somehow. Just like my answer to your question just did.
And who inspired you to become musicians and who do you idolize?
I don't remember. I've loved music since I was old enough to sing. I don't 'idolize' anyone. I think idolize is a strong word. It sounds like worshiping someone. I bow to no man. Except maybe Alice Cooper haha.
I like a lot of bands from different styles of music. Over the last 13 years, I've been listening to a lot of Japanese metal and Visual Kei. But my influences spread across a many different styles of music, including (but not limited to) Punk, Industrial, Metal, Goth, 80's New Wave, etc. If it's good song writing and it has a cool vibe, I probably like it. But especially if it has a bit of a dark vibe or lots of attitude.
Focusing on New South Wales, how do the metal bands in cope during the times of wild fires?
Well, I think we all just sort of watch the news and hope the fires don't reach our own houses lol. I dunno. I've only been living in Australia for a little over 4 years. I guess I should say that we do benefit concerts or something cool to help the less fortunate. Like maybe give out free Our Last Enemy t-shirts or free dinner dates with teen heart throb and lead singer of Our Last Enemy, Oliver Fogwell.
Seriously though, we haven't actually done any benefits for wildfire victims that I recall, but we'd certainly be happy to do so should the opportunity arise. So there you have it. Our hearts may be black, but at least we aren't heartless. Oh, wait...maybe it's not our hearts that are black. It's our........lungs.
On a whole what would you say the trickiest thing about being an Australian Metal band would be?
Breaking out of Australia. Also, The Wiggles give us metal bands a run for the money in terms of heaviness. Those guys are really brutal with songs like Rock-a-bye Your Bear and Toot Toot Chugga Chugga. It's mindblowing. I mean, how could any of us ever compete with that sort of brutality?
How does mainstream media cover metal in Australia?
Oh, come on. We've got to keep some air of mystery about our country!!! lol
Reverting to Our Last Enemy, what plans does the band have for 2013 and beyond?
I personally don't want to say too much just yet, but it looks like it's going to be a very big year for us, which means it will also be a big year for our fans. Lots of exciting things in the works.
What is the local town / city metal scene like?
Sydney is a great place. There are a lot of good bands and loyal fans.
Finally any thank you's, hello's and any other messages you wish to say?
Thank you for your interest in Our Last Enemy. It's zines like yours who make a big difference to bands and music fiends alike. I'd also like to send a big thanks out to all of our fans, future fans, and to anyone else who has allowed us to pollute their minds by reading this interview.
We hope to see you all in the UK at some point in the not-too-distant future. Until then, remember to question authority and don't forget to do whatever you want.