Bloodstock cherishes and relishes the opportunity to showcase metal bands from all over the world, this year they reeled in Nepal's Underside, a Groove Metal / Metalcore leviathan that is taking the Asian Metal scene by storm. But it has not always been plain sailing for the band as vocalist Avishek KC explained to GMA, he spoke to us about the Nepalese economy, challenges the scene and band faced, the importance of the Ghurka and how metal unites world cultures.
"No one bought CDs... you couldn't afford it, 20-30 US Dollars would be like 3,000-4,000 Nepalese Rupee (NPR)... my pocket money for 2 months to buy one album"
KC, how did Underside come about? What challenges have you faced?
"We started Underside after the country suffered war, we were tired of shifting from one band to the other so we go together and started this whole new project, with a lot of energy and anger.
Oh man, where do I get started? Ok, the survival itself in a country like Nepal is number one just in terms of the economy, everyone goes through that it's normal, then you have the police, the system, the security, the society, they hate everyone with long hair. There was a time where police used to grab you and chop your hair off, just for looking like different. It's not the first time, I've been through that on many levels and if you're walking in the middle of the night, get in. It's changed a little bit now comparatively but, and then there were the power shortages, we had power out for like 16 hours a day so imagine being in a band, and that was because the Government was selling electricity illegally to companies and they found out the whole country was in darkness for 10 years because of some corruption in the system.
When there is no light it has a ripple effect, on your job, timings, everything and itself being in a country that far is a big challenge trying to get your music out here so you talk to someone and it's like 'OK let's watch it if you're here' if you get a gig or two, I think those are some of the few challenges faced so far.
Getting gear in Nepal is fine, it's not that hard but they don't sell the expensive stuff because no one can afford it, so there are a lot of music stores that sell low-grade guitars from 200-400 USD so you can make do with what you can get."
How long has the Nepalese Metal scene been going? What is it like?
"It's been there but in it's infancy, it has been there for a while but not for a while, not very long. Now it's slowly coming up with our best but it's not an easy job, it's a struggle everyday so.
Yeah we have one we do as a band and as a team put on Silence Festival, the only metal festival otherwise there is no metal festival scene at all, so it's a brand new culture slowly coming out, it's a lot of hard work for us to, even to put one show on.
It's insane, even within the country Kathmandu is so centralized, now we've sort of taken over the city with our music and put show on in front of what 800 people in a venue a few days before Bloodstock. Now we're focusing on outside of the country and are going to the rural places, probably will be doing a little bit of India, so that's the plan to go on."
Would you play in neighbouring Bhutan?
"Yeah of course! I would love to play there with Underside, I think we have some fans from Bhutan who message us on our social media, so yeah that would be sick".
What do your parents think of your music? When did you want to become a musician?
"My parents have never... I think my dad once came to the show and just left after two songs, that was also because my nephew and niece wanted to come, so he came four hours early and I asked him to come again and then he came back and instantly left. My mum has never seen my shows so.
I don't know, I think I always use to want to become a musician when I was a kid and I guess it was what I wanted from the band, I think it was when I heard Pantera and then I wanted to play guitar, but I then said no you can't play guitar you got to sing. But it was always there, I always love the culture of being in a band, playing music it just spoke to me so... ever since I can remember."
What was the journey from Kathmandu to Bloodstock like? Tell us what happened. How did you get invited to play Bloodstock?
"Ah man, it's been pretty crazy with two flights, 6 hours on one plane and two hours break and then 8 hours on another plane and then our home and then a 4-hour drive to Bloodstock. So yeah that's pretty much a little journey, but before that there's been a lot of preparation where we were working on production, we were trying a smaller scale production pretty much for the first time, for Bloodstock we want to bring a little bit of home, just been talking to the production crew in the tent so yeah we worked pretty hard and prepared to do it.
Well we received an invite, I have got a few friends here and promoters who have been working for the festival in the past, so we started a good relationship over the years you know, I think it's from peoples love and friendship that has made the band what it is."
Do you feel that Nepalese band coming to play in the UK could aid tourism in Nepal?
"I think it does because like we're representing where we are from and people get to know where you are from and I'm telling you about this because you asked about the problems, if you ask me about the good stuff there are a lot of good things, good people, they're the most helpful and I think friendly people you meet going about disregarding the society, the police, the system. But yeah I think it does, when people get to understand and connect, I think it does help in some ways."
With the UK and Nepal sharing a long history together, do you feel it's ever more important to support the Ghurka's?
"I think it's a cool thing that we have that relationship with the Ghurka's and like, it's been there for years and it's always good to fuse and connect on a certain level, keeping a healthy relationship. So it's always good to cherish, improve it and make it better. I think it's great, times like this when conflicts are happening, problems with each other and everything all the time, I think it's a great thing that we connect."
Who was the biggest band to play in Nepal thus far? Has the Nepalese Government become more relaxed in recent times?
"I think Behemoth, Vader, but no I think Behemoth is still the biggest to have played Nepal so far. Yeah I mean even last year the police were just bar-standing, we had so many problems trying to get the Twelve Foot Ninja boys out of the airport because the Government did not understand the system of bringing in your own equipment and stuff, it's just like you can't do whatever the f**k you want; 'I've got it, everything in a letter' and they were like 'we don't know come back Monday' and I was like 'dude the festival is today, you can't tell them to come on Monday', and I had to be on stage in 30 minutes so we play after the band because I was still at the airport stressing."
So is Nepal still a slightly conservative country?
"Yeah yeah in regards to metal music and being out there with your long hair and looking like all of us here it still is, it is an open place for tourism as we get a lot of tourists, but when it comes to the society; they have a different attitude towards it, because we are from the inside and are kind of rebels. But you go there and do things that we do, so they have a different approach for how you're treated."
What did you listen to when you were in high school?
"A lot of Pantera, Metallica, Slipknot... I was in a Black Metal band, there was something about Black Metal that I really love, it's been a while when I was listening to Mayhem, Nargaroth, Burzum, I love that stuff back in the day and also a lot of alternative stuff. So there was a lot to listen to, you used to have a lot of friends into different things, we were listening to pretty much everything. Listening to the old stuff on vinyl, Hendrix, Manson and stuff, depends on who you hanged out with back in the day. I loved albums by the likes of Korn, anything you can get your hands on, but it was so hard to get music at that time - if it was metal, everyone would just listen to it and no questions asked.
No one bought a CD, you couldn't get it because you couldn't afford it, 20-30 US Dollars would be like 3,000-4,000 Nepalese Rupee (NPR) and that would be my pocket money for 2 months to buy one album. You couldn't get it even if you said you'd save up to buy it, so whatever you had you listened to it as much as you can. For the UK a £10-£15 album would be like 2,000 NPR and that's a lot of money for us at that time especially when we were children.
What could you buy for 2,000 NPR?
"Nothing man, just like cigarettes... a little bit more than that, not a lot, definitely not a lot. Maybe lunch and stuff, you could buy posters and stuff, bootleg albums, etc., Nowadays children have the spending access, they can buy guitars; I got my first electric guitar when I was 16 and it cost about 200 USD and it was a fight; my parents got it in but it was a brutal fight."
Do you have any greetings or thank you's that you wish to send out?
"Yes, thank you to you man for talking to us or any other press that's talking to us at Bloodstock; it's amazing to be here, our crew, all the boys, our fans and people back home."
Although Trivax originated in Iran, the frontman Shayan S. moved to the UK in 2010 to pursue becoming a metal musician. The rest of the band members are from Birmingham with the exception of bassist 'S' who originates from Syria. So where East meets West and liberalist and conservative cultures clash, Trivax stands strong as a force of nature. Shayan spoke to GMA about growing up as an Iranian metalhead, challenges faced and what it's like being immersed in the British Metal scene.
"If you're religiously or politically against what the Government (Iranian) do or believes in then you can almost be executed"
Trivax didn't form in the UK, so could you tell us it's origins? What is the Iranian scene like?
"Eh no I originally formed the band on my own in Iran in 2009. I can't really say there's much of a scene because it's illegal over there to be doing this kind of thing. There are obviously some musicians who are trying to be active but obviously the quality of what comes out isn't quite as good because people don't really get to exercise the rights for music. So obviously because there's rarely any gigs or anything like that. As bands, they don't really have a great deal to offer but of course there's a lot of good musicians who have come out of there. From The Vastland is an Iranian Black Metal band formed by a friend of mine called Sina who is now based in Norway, and they're doing quite well at the moment.
The name Trivax translates to 'storm', it's a transcription of a war, of a name that's in Farsi and yes it came about nine years ago as I mentioned in April 2009. I just decided that this was what I needed to be doing, I didn't really have the circumstances to be doing it at the time, it's just the hunger to create and play extreme music and to light up the fire that's in you."
So would most Iranian metalheads leave the country to pursue metal music careers, etc?
"I wouldn't say most, no, they would like to but I don't think anyone can do it"
What can happen if someone in Iran was found to be supporting metal music?
"Well it can usually just start off with getting arrested by the culture police which means they'll cut your hair, eventually they'll let you go on bail, or if you're playing live music without permission from the Government, then that can go very badly... they can break your instruments and things, finally if you're religiously or politically against what the Government do or believes in then you can almost be executed."
What do your parents think of you playing metal music?
"I think they might have been slightly sceptical at first, but I have to say that they have been greatly, greatly supportive - it might not be something that they'd listen to themselves, but they really enjoy it, they support that it is something I believe in because they see that it's not just a hobby or just something for me to try to and impress my friends with. This is my life. They're open-minded about it."
Did you face any challenges when you wanted to learn to play metal music?
"None really, it'd a different environment to what it is like here, I was that desperate to actually play and I learned that whatever difficulties that were in the way, I would push through them."
How does it feel to be at Bloodstock?
"Feels pretty amazing, yeah so far everyone has been kind to us and we're very much looking forward to the show."
Do you get nervous when going on stage?
"erm... I don't, I... it's a very strange state of mind, I'm not sure if I can really talk about it and have it make any sense, all I can say is that it gets very intense and excitement."
Do you feel metal music in general and not just Bloodstock, brings the world together irrespective of socio-cultural and political differences?
"Absolutely, that's why we are here, we share this metal music together with people I've never met before, but we're all brothers and sisters in metal."
Are there any greetings or thank you's that you wish to send out?
"Many thanks to those who have supported us over the years and devoted the time to come, we're only really getting started with Trivax and we're going to do our best to get out there as much as possible, and conquer each one of you".
Having previously been located around the Worksop / Birmingham area, Symphonic Metallers Aonia are now more or less based in Sheffield. The 'Experimental Symphonic' crew won their Metal 2 The Masses regional heats and laid waste on the fields of Derbyshire. Aonia spoke to GMA about their rise, playing Bloodstock and how sexism is STILL an issue to-date.
(on sexism) "big balls is what makes us... we have balls we wear them on our chest that are held in by our corsets."
How did Aonia form and what does the band name mean?
"A long time ago in a galaxy far away, James's band and my band split up, so his remnants and my remnants got together and made Aonia. There were a whole load of line-up changes and in 2016 we finally stabilized with the addition of drummer David Byrne and bassist Matt Black, but the biggest change happened in 2013 with the addition of Joanne Kay Robinson on vocalist, because it brought us into a whole sort of new genre and with Tim Hall coming on Keyboards as well gave the music a much wider dimension.
As for the name of the band it refers to the place near Helicon mountain where the muses dwell. Which is pretentious but kind of sweet, like us.
When we were trying to find interesting words in the dictionary, we didn't get past 'A', we just gave up and went 'Aaaa.... Aonia' that'll do. To be honest I'm surprised we got to 'ao', we could have been called 'Abyssinia'."
Is it easy or difficult to create music, especially when there are effectively seven different elements to contend with?
"You have no idea (all laugh), it's just time consuming more than anything else, but the nice part about having seven elements to a band, and we don't have one songwriter, someone will come up with an idea but it's the whole band that puts it together. Which means we have an original sound, we have a sound that really we don't get compared to, but there's no one element that really separates us and makes the other bands sound the same as us, we have an original sound because of that and it works. It takes time, there's a lot of arguing (all laugh).
I think it's a really creative conversation we have over a couple of chords or lines, eventually over seven minutes... forty minutes arguing over a chord. When I say seven, we don't actually listen to him (Przemek).
I suppose that makes it more interesting, considering how overloaded and over-saturated the Symphonic Metal genre has become?
"Well that's why we say we're not symphonic, we're symphonic to a certain extent and the keyboards are an important element in the band, but we have a very progressive rock basis to the band as well - do you know some of our sound links more to Iron Maiden than it does to Dream Theater, than Dream Theater to Nightwish; we have Dream Theater elements in it as well, we have a lot of elements in it, we have good musicians in the band and we like to show that as well, we have two fantastic female-fronted vocalists, we try and get all of the elements into the songs".
Speaking of having two female-fronted vocalists in Joanne and Melissa, do you feel sexism in metal still exists or has it lessened over the years?
"Well it's about 3-4 years ago, we were playing a local pub and somebody tried to pull my corset down whilst I was on stage, I would say sexism is still very rampant. I've seen comments like 'oh female-fronted metal is pop with heavier guitars', I've heard people say 'oh I won't go see a band if they're female fronted', 'I won't go to see a band if there's a girl in' and then you do also get sexism the other way round. I've got a friend called Kris who's a bassist in FireSky and her band is excluded from a lot of female-fronted stuff ,because she only does backing vocals and that's wrong as well, so Joanne do you want to wade in with your experiences?
Yeah I mean we get a lot of 'pull your corset down', I've not had as severe as that but I would like to say we've probably got bigger balls than most of the boys in the band so yeah (all laugh), big balls is what makes us... (just say testicles - you do have something bigger than us but it's not balls), we have balls we wear them on our chest that are held in by our corsets.
In which case, they are a lot bigger! We've had a lot people say 'you're not really my type of thing' but after the gig have said 'f*****g hell, that was absolutely amazing I didn't think I was going to like you', when they say it's female then Operatic Metal comes to the fore and judgements are made, but as soon as they've seen us live then their opinions have changed.
Can I just say when she says 'f**k she's spelt it 'phuq'... apologies for my language, another problem with the sexism is that people don't think about what they're listening to, they're just watching or looking at a picture - seeing the picture and seeing as girl in it makes them think they won't want to go see that band, this is stupid because we're not actors playing in movies, we're musicians playing music; listen to the band first and then see what they look like, what they sound like is more important than what they look like."
It's cliche but don't judge a book by it's cover; what are your thoughts on the term female-fronted metal?
"Absolutely! Although we have a good cover (all laugh). Female-fronted is not a genre, it's a gender. It's a description, the band is female-fronted, they don't say the band is male-fronted. I think a lot people use it as an excuse for a deterrent, like I say it's a label... wow.... you said that? I did. Got 'an excuse for a deterrent', yeah it's good I like that. Well it is. Like you say a lot people in metal are very male-orientated and soon as they hear the word 'female', they kind of switch off... I've been guilty of that myself but through experience, through being in a band it's opened my mind to a lot of new things. Hopefully we can change other people's perceptions too."
Surely playing Bloodstock is the biggest thing to happen to the band?
"So far absolutely, we know we're good enough to get to this stage because we believe in ourselves, but it's still an unbelievable experience - when they call our name out it was still that kind of speechless feeling... I wouldn't believe it until we had done it. I've been in the music business since I was about 15, so that's what 10 years? I've been playing for 35 years and it's by the far the biggest and best gig I've ever done and that's before I've played."
Are there any greetings / thank you's that you wish to send out to people?
"All the fans that have been loyally to us, all the new fans... they're our Aonia family. Mary Berry, my inspiration. Thanks for all the baking! Simon Hall, Simon Cliffe and Rob Bannister from Bloodstock. Our amazing PR lady called Angel."
Having won Metal 2 The Masses - South Wales this year and slaughtered their set at Bloodstock, GMA felt it was time to grill the quintet known as Democratus. Stepping up to the plate was frontman Steve 'Moomin' Jenkins who divulged into the rapid resurgence of the South Wales Metal scene, what it's like being at Bloodstock, how important it is to support unsigned bands and the love for the Metal 2 The Masses initiative.
"Metal is like football, it's a universal language; there's always someone you can go up to in any country and go 'Judas Priest?'.... 'YES!!!', 'Iron Maiden?'... 'YES!!' and that's beautiful"
Steve what was Democratus's set like having played Bloodstock?
"It couldn't have gone much better to be fair, we kicked in and it just all sort of clicked together. We had plenty of people watching us, I do think the rain made a better promoter out of it because it had just more people in it that were trying to get out of the rain, but then I think once we got them into the tent they were like 'ooh I like this' and yeah it just went absolutely off the wall. We had pits, we had walls of death... when I said 'jump' they said 'how high?'; I love that because I love my crowd participation - I've always preferred putting on a show, I can't be one of those people who just plays staring at their feet throughout a set, so I like it when we get the crowd involved."
And what does the band name Democratus mean? When did you first get into metal music?
"I go by 'Democritus' and the reason for that being early incarnations of us thought right we need a band name and I suggested we need a couple of names to say what we're on about and they were like 'eeh not fussed' and I turned round and said that we all need to decide on something, we're in a democracy not a dictatorship. Our guitarist at the time turned round and said 'what about Democratus'? We all looked at him and went 'wooooh', so it stuck and given the nature of some of my political lyrics and stuff like that, it kind of ties in. I did a search to check there were not other bands with that name and it turns out it was a Greek philosopher; he was the foundation as it were of how democracy was set up.
I was a bit of a latecomer to it, I had friends who would try to play Korn to me when I was 13, 14, and at that point I didn't quite get it. I started to get into Hard Rock and then tiptoed into metal when I was around 18, 19 - I found Killswitch Engage and Slipknot and so it went all downhill from there. It's a kind of ongoing process because the people who say metal is dead, there is always new stuff to discover - you're just not looking hard enough if you think it's gone stale because it has not."
Do you feel at times that politics and music should not mix?
"Not at all, for starters you wouldn't have bands like System Of A Down or Rage Against The Machine, to be honest metal, rock, blues, it was all born out of the frustration of being angry at the man in question. If it's all about your art and when personal leanings come into it, then everything is open - if people don't want to listen to political lyrics, that's where free speech comes in, in that the choice of listening to something political or not comes into play. But the message is there, if people like it and want to hear it, if people want to respect or disagree with it, then I'm open to debate and it's a case of I do what I do.... A. because I enjoy it and B. because for me personally I prefer having lyrics that have some kind of meaning. I can't write throwaway nonsense, it's not me."
What sort of metal style does Democratus play?
"When I started us out I had the definition of wanting to go into Melodic Death Metal, that's where my favourite bands lie, the likes of Soilwork, Insomnium, In Flames (well early In Flames, they're not a Melodeath band anymore), but's that where my love lies and so that's where I kind of wanted to stick us. Since then with the line-up we've got, the music we've written since the first EP has branched out and is not strictly Melodeath, it's still heavy and brutal and still has it's melodies, but it opens us up to more options on where we want to go with writing music and more potential offers from promoters wanting to work with us and I'm happy with that. "
Tell us about the Welsh Metal scene, what's it like?
"What do you want to know my friend? At the moment it's good and buzzing, Sodomized Cadaver, Cranial Separation and us are at Bloodstock this weekend alone; Cranial finished as runners up to us at the Metal 2 The Masses final, straight-up Brutal Death Metal. As far as it goes there is a bit of everything for everyone, over the last couple of years (3-4) it's felt like a proper community; it wasn't always like that, there was a lot of bitching, a lot of sniping and that's just the way scenes fall apart basically.
With the closure of venues and things like that, it made a lot of bands realize that actually we're probably better off getting along with each other, support each other in order to get ourselves ahead of the game. The whole Metal 2 The Masses thing, I'll give a shout out to my boys in Incursion, Blind Divide and Cranial Separation who absolutely walloped us in terms of how they played, they pulled out sets of their lives."
Do you feel Bloodstock are leaders in supporting the underground by giving bands opportunities to play to vast numbers?
"Absolutely! I can't thank Simon Hall, Rob Bannister, all the crew here enough for helping us, even today and through helping us plug ourselves in terms of getting media sorted and things like that. There is no other festival that I can think of in the UK that gives unsigned bands and self-signed bands that platform, and it absolutely sets Bloodstock apart. What intrigued me the first time I came here in 2008, was the potential of seeing one of my local friends The Dirty Youth; I used to go to school with their bassist and I've seen bands like that who small at that time but have grown. It's always something that's intrigued me at Bloodstock, and they've got the Metal 2 The Masses stuff going.
I've entered it with previous bands for years and I've always tried to see the positive in terms of yeah we haven't got through until this year, but I've always networked and made friends, got new likes out of it; it's always the additions that some bands may struggle in taking the advantage of, I'm fortunate in the fact of I've pestered enough people and kind of think I know what I'm doing to make the most of opportunities I get. I hear of bands who win Metal 2 The Masses and think that things will come their way, no way, this is just the start of it and I just hope now that the opportunities keep coming.
Do you believe Bloodstock brings people together regardless of culture, politics and social differences?
"Absolutely, you only need to look at the list of bands who are playing this year, you've got Demonic Resurrection from India, Lovebites from Japan, bands from all over the place. Metal is like football, it's a universal language there's always someone you can go up to in any country and go 'Judas Priest?'.... 'YES!!!', 'Iron Maiden?'... 'YES!!' and that's beautiful, I love it, this festival in particular as well just has the good sense of community. Like I said I've been coming here since 2008, and there were friends who I've made in 2008 that I still see and came out to see us yesterday, that's humbling for me as a band but also it's really nice to know that the place that I know I can guarantee you'll make friends ever year."
Could you ever see a metal band sing in Welsh about Welsh mythology?
"I believe one of my friends from Agrona is already working on a project that does exactly that, I can't remember the name of them because it's a really complicated Welsh pronunciation, but yeah there is something actually in the works so again it's reason to keep an eye on the Welsh scene. (Most people trip over Llanfair PG in it's full name right?) I was born in Southampton, but moved to Wales when I was 2, I'm actually OK with Welsh pronunciations, so you're referring to 'Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch' (just rolls off the tongue), it's lovely when drunk haha (I can imagine!!) - don't ask me to say what it means, that I can never remember.
Welsh is a great culture, I'm proud to be in Wales but I don't do the nationalism type of stuff unless it's in sports, but at the same time there's always cultures and heritage that's always interesting to look at."
Are there any hello's, greetings, etc you wish to send out?
"Massive thank you to everyone who has bought Democratus t-shirts over the months and years, everyone who has supported us to get through to the final. Massive shout out to Rachael Harrison for doing our media / PR stuff, also the usual Bloodstock crew; loved you for years and being behind the scenes has given me more respect for what you guys have done. To my friends who have turned up to watch us play, thank you, and for the rest, they know who they are :)."
The Heretic Order are a horror-inspired Heavy Metal band dwelling in the mass graveyards of London, this year they performed at the revered and internationally-attended Metal festival, Bloodstock Open Air. They also released their second album this year, 'Evil Rising', guitarist Count Marcel La Vey stopped all cremation proceedings for the day and spoke to GMA about the band's haunting history, ghoulish gear and paranormal performances... OK enough with the horror-style puns.
"In the UK there's plenty of bands that are amazing, they just don't get the chances that they should"
What does the band name The Heretic Order mean? Tell us the band's history.
"Well it's the order... (you've put me on the spot there aha), it's basically the order where the four of us connect, we're the heretics.
We've been around for about four years, the kind of music we do has a kinda classic metal feel to it but it's modernised, it's got an old-school feel to it but we keep it modern. We like the occult, history and so all the lyrics are about that kind of stuff, it's all dark subject-orientated.
Funny enough our influences include the headliners tonight (Judas Priest) as well as Mercyful Fate, King Diamond, etc, so it's dual guitars playing off each other, we get heavy and doomy but we also have our small songs as well, there's a lot of variation in the music."
How was it to play at Bloodstock this year, what are the emotions in the camp like?
"We're excited to play, it's not for a few hours yet and have only just got here, settling in and are looking forward to the show" (any nerves?) "Not yet, simply because of the rush we had to get here, just getting over that; it was a nightmare to get here... so hopefully the rain doesn't spoil the rest of the day for us."
Who is the go-to band member if anyone has any issues or problems?
"We're all pretty good with each other to be honest, we don't really have the one person to go to you know what I mean? We all have the same feelings towards each other and are comfortable with one another, so there's no one particular person."
With the vast amount of international bands playing at Bloodstock, are you surprised at metal's global spread?
"Nah, not surprised at all as music comes from all over the place and like any market it's usually dominated by one or two countries, one of them being America but you go anywhere in Europe; even in the UK there's plenty of bands that are amazing, they just don't get the chances that they should. Metal is all over the world, you just got to have the people to put it out there for everyone else or if you're very keen you can go find them yourself - there's plenty of bands I want to see that can't make it to the UK, so whenever we travel to their countries we try and see them, and they do the same (for us)."
What (if any) challenges does the London Metal scene face right now?
"London has a lot of bands who want to play and get noticed, so there's a lot of competition in London, the trends are the same for us as probably across the country - you see it often in every festival (rock or metal), that every year the styles of metal are different. A few years back Megadeth played and now this year we have Judas Priest, it changes... but yeah London is quite tough, it's always the way it has been down there."
Do you feel Brexit will have an impact (good or bad) on British Metal bands?
"It's going to make travelling across Europe a lot harder, we're just going to have to play it by ear and see how it all ends up, it's not going to be easy getting to Europe or to come in to the UK. We're not looking forward to it, but we'll find a way; it's the way it always goes, you want to go do something or get something done, you want to play or get your music heard, you have to find a way to do it and it's always been like that".
You supported Soulfly, what was it like playing alongside the legend that is Max Cavelera?
"The guy's a legend, what can you say? He's got his family travelling with him, playing with him, the guy just has to open his mouth and the crowd reacts to anything he says. So it was great, we said a quick hello and all of that, great guys in a great band - it was a great night to play but also to watch the band."
Do you feel Social Media is still as relevant for bands, or is it overused?
"Unfortunately it still has to be there, I say unfortunately because I'm not great on it but it's got to be done, it's part of the business so you have to do what other bands are doing, and get noticed doing it in a different way. Social Media is here to stay for a while longer.
There's bands who of course will use it differently, different people equals different tastes, but for myself I think there are bands who do too much of it - I might like certain bands but I find myself just swiping through their stuff because I know they're going to have something else up in the next couple of hours again, or whatever, you can always go back and look.
But it can also turn people off, so you got to be careful and play it right and hope you're doing it right."
After Bloodstock what plans do you have for the rest of the year leading into 2019?
"We have a tour that we're trying to line-up, we got a few dates sorted out so we're trying to finish that for September / October. We're organizing a European tour for the beginning of next year and working on new songs. We've just released our second album "Evil Rising" back in June, but we're already working on our next album so whenever we get the chance, we're basically working on new music and tour dates."
Summarise Bloodstock in two words, and explain why. Any greetings you wish to send out?
"'Real festival' - why I say real is because I like going to metal festivals and this one is the only one I really do feel is a metal festival; other festivals I have been to, they have some metal bands... I don't know maybe it's just my taste is changing - the atmosphere here is a different thing and whoever I speak to who has been to Bloodstock has said the same thing; Bloodstock is unique and hopefully they keep it that way.
Just to the usual people they know who they are, I won't mention any names but I just want to thank the people in advance who will come to see us - make some noise for us when we see you tonight."
When you think of the Scottish Metal scene you tend to think of the likes of Alestorm, sure their Pirate Metal sound is popular among the masses but they aren't the only Scottish Metal band with a sumptuous sound. Entering the affray is Dumfries' own Turbyne, whose mix of Melodic, Death, Prog and Metalcore have left the Bloodstock faithful in awe, with their sound not like anything that has been heard before but yet use the very basics of said metal genres, what they done with those genres is bent and snapped them to pieces, to create something they can call their own.
After rampaging on the New Blood Stage, GMA caught up with the now sextet and explored their past, what two vocalists bring to the band and the current status of the Scottish Metal scene.
Answers given by various members; indicated where possible.
(on song lengths):- "It's nothing to do with how long the song is, it's all about the ideas and how well you get them across".
Hi guys, firstly tell us who you are, what you play and how did you become involved in Turbyne?
"Hey I'm Calum, I'm the guitarist and I was here at the start; started the band with a few of my friends. Hey I'm Gary, I joined the band in 2012, I sing and I also play keyboards.
Hi I'm Brian, I play bass and I think I joined around like 10 years ago or something, I'm not quite sure, but through a friend; they were looking for a bassist and so I joined.
I'm Kyle the drummer and I'm co-founder with Calum here as creator of the band, the one and only. Hey I'm Keith, I'm the vocalist and I joined way way back in the day in the beginning.
I'm Jamie, I was the last to join and I kind of just invited myself into the band, I didn't actually be asked to join, I just sort of said I'll come along and play keyboards for you, so yeah that's what I do now."
So you have two keyboardists? Who is best at playing them?
"Absolutely Jamie, I (Gary) just pretend to play the keyboards, ah he's just started. It's a new addition that we're actually bringing to Bloodstock tomorrow, so it's the first time that it's done properly and Jamie holds the whole fort in terms of solo's and proper synth, I just kind of fill in with my backing strings, so hopefully its goes well tomorrow - I'm not nervous at all... I absolutely am.
Before I played keyboards you had two vocalists, so erm Keith and I were full-time vocalists so that's something we introduced when I joined the band really. But yeah we're trying it out to see if we can push ourselves to make a bigger sound and push ourselves harder basically to add more on the stage show or to the live sound as well, so we're going to be adding more live guitars as well, we're all going to be very busy."
What's it like being a sextet when recording music? Hard and tricky surely?
"Ages, ages and ages. We do all what we can before we hit the studio, there's a lot of demo's, a lot of kind of coordinating... maybe I'll have a practise with Jamie and we'll go over what we're going to do and the singers will get together and they'll practise their bits and then it all kind of comes together in the practise space. So yeah it takes a long time before we're ready to record anything, but it works for us."
Who came up with the band name and what does it mean?
"....erm, (silence), Kyle can answer that one. I believe it was actually Kyle who came up with the name, there was a bit of a catch of course we created the band during the Nu Metal years when it was invoked to spell your name incorrectly (laughs), hence the 'y' rather than the 'i' but at least it makes it original. There's not a literal meaning to what it is, we like to leave it interpretable, but it means certain things to us, there's not a concrete origin if that makes sense?"
What was going through your minds when you were confirmed to play Bloodstock? What did you parents say?
"I was actually at work, which is quite a formal job - I wear a suit, I won't mention what I do, but I was sitting with a client at the time and I think I made some sort of an excuse to leave the room to do a small to big lap of the office, kick over one of the desks and go back to the client and finish the interview that we had. I couldn't contain myself, I couldn't send enough text messages at the same time, not to mention we couldn't actually tell anyone at the time. So yeah it was insane to be fair, because we got the invitation as oppose to you know winning on our Metal 2 The Masses night, so to actually be asked to come along and play we feel is an absolute privilege and pleasure, to have someone say we want you to come along and showcase what you can do. It was a magnificent moment for me anyway, it was almost like a mark of approval from people we've been waiting to hear from for a very long time.
They were happy aye, they've supported us through... well my parents have supported us through Metal 2 The Masses heats and have been gutted when we didn't get it so they were chuffed.
I think my mum had to ask what Bloodstock was (laughs), it took about 45 minutes to explain, I probably went through the whole roster of the bands that are playing and not one rung a bell, so we just ended up with 'it's a big thing mum, be happy for me' (laughs), so she was.
My parents are into music anyway, so they were happy for us yeah.
Aye they were chuffed, my family have always been big supporters of what we do and they travel to come and see us at gigs, and yeah just happy.
I'm adopted... (laughs), no my parents were over the moon as well and I think as well as our close family and friends who were elated just as much as we were.
Yeah I've been getting congratulations from around the world, people all over the place and well none of them know what Bloodstock is, but you know it's the words festival, stage and playing that hit the net, so yeah they're really thrilled for the band. Lot of support from people who talk to us and are with our music so that's really good to have."
Sum up Bloodstock in two words and no more.
"Big deal", "enough said", "f*cking awesome", "pretty decent", "i'll take three - ask me sunday", "I really have no idea, all that can come to mind is 'pretty decent', 'f*cking awesome', so yeah I'll go with 'f*cking awesome' too" (laughs all around).
Can you tell us more about your eclectic style of metal?
"It's heavy and kind of based in experimental progressive metal, but with this kind of NWOBHM stuff going on as well, there's a lot of metalcore... basically it's what we've come up with, with a kind of collective styles of music that we all like and that we're all into. We just play the kind of music that we want to do and that we think would be interesting and new, it's very hard to describe as there's a lot of different substances in there. It's all very diverse and we keep ourselves guessing never-mind, there's nothing off-limits when it comes to the style of the band, nothings off-limits with us. The best way to define it is to listen to it and then decide for yourself what you actually think it is, and then if you put a label on it then you can identify it easily.
For the six years I've been in the band, we've been called how many different genres? We've tried different genres... but we bring out the next song and then all of a sudden they'll define us as something else, so as Jamie said it's best to listen to it and decide what part of it's new and pick your own genre, we don't mind - we've been called a lot of things.
I like that... (all laugh), if somebody else started to play 'Turbyne Metal' I think that could become a thing, yeah that would be nice if that was a thing to kind of lead a trend or something by everyone."
Most Prog Metal bands tend to deliver 7-10 minute songs, what are your thoughts about that?
"To be genuinely progressive I think that sounds about right, there's a lot of ideas and in our case anyway there's a lot of ideas in one song and it's difficult to pick the ones that are right from the ones that are wrong, so in our case yes we do tend to be a bit longer, but we do try and chop them down so they don't seem indulging you know what I mean? I love prog music but some of it is drawn out, we try and be cautious of not making item seem too much for what we're going for.
I think we try and find a balance between your heavy part and as that starts to draw out, we'll change it up for something that might suit someone else in the same song and I think that comes across really well with us, I think you can really break it down into a nice clean sound and then bring it right back as heavy as you want to... as long as it doesn't betray the song, as long as it feels right and feels natural in the progression of the song.
To be fair Turbyne has always been known for the length of it's songs but I don't think when Calum our main songwriter is writing a song that the clock is a big factor, I think the narrative of the song and what he's trying to express is more important than how long it's going to take to do it. But yeah having said that songs reach between 3-10 minutes, maybe over, there's a real diversity in what the band plays.
I'm used to playing classical music as well so I also play 45 minute symphonies and two-and-a-half musical theatre shows, so a 5-7 minute Turbyne song is a pretty short space of time (all laugh) to fill in with noise so I'm quite glad that they just end nicely, it doesn't matter anyway as long as the idea is strong, that's the main part - it's nothing to do with how long the song is, it's all about the ideas and how well you get them across in delivering them to your audience - if it takes a while, it takes a while."
What challenges do Scottish Metal bands face these days?
"Getting out there really, we're from quite a small town so the biggest obstacle we often face is getting onto bills and expecting to bring in people, that's a problem because you know we're from a smaller town, it can sometimes stand in our way. I'd say getting a fan-base and getting out to new people, new fans, new areas is the hardest part for our fans from Scotland.
I think our biggest problem is locations, so even if we head northwards (we're on the borders of Scotland; 45 minutes from Carlisle) up to Glasgow, Edinburgh, then Dundee and Aberdeen, but even driving up to Aberdeen takes us four and a half hours. Don't get me the wrong the band is completely committed so we will travel everywhere, anywhere that wants to hear us, we'll bring the sound to them, but it is the hardest part is getting on bills, finding that niche market where people are doing to appreciate what we're doing and finding out bands that are similar to us which is very, very difficult with the type of music that we are.
Because of the music we play as well we don't really fall into one category or the other, we're not the heaviest metal band but we're too heavy for non-metal music as well, so I think that is another obstacle as well is that exactly where we sit in the market and bills that we can play on, bands that are likewise with the fans that might go out to see, bands like us.
I think playing this festival is exactly what we need though because you're playing in front of people that would never see us otherwise, so this is the best opportunity you've got."
Have you had any fans from outside of the UK get in touch with you?
"Yeah there's a Finnish guy, I could probably name a bunch of Australians who listen to our music now, but yeah erm remember... was it Finland or Norway that guy was from?
I think it was Norway, his named sounded Finnish but was from somewhere up there, yeah he got in touch through Facebook saying he came across us and really appreciated what we done and hopefully we would go over there soon and play and we were like alright, that's good stuff.
It's always nice to hear from people that are that far out and either have stumbled across us or someone's told them about our music, it's nice when they feel they have to message us and say they enjoy it; it's crazy to have a few people from the USA, mainly Florida just to say they love the music, so if anybody wants to give us a contract to Florida (laughs), I'm due a holiday so anytime.
Business class right?
At least business class and I'm expecting our own private jet, maybe Air Force One, I might settle for that."
What are your plans after Bloodstock?
"We've got a few more gigs mostly in Scotland and north of England, we're just going to keep padding for shows, we're preparing for our second album so the song's are nearly there, we're still kind of writing and perfecting them - we're hopefully going to start tracking by the end of the year, hoping for a 2019 release so that'll take a lot of attention, a lot of energy, but yeah just keep looking for shows and stuff like that, see if we can chase this and hopefully get a few things out of it as well. Trying our best to network over here as well, see what comes."
Finally guys are there any greetings, thank you's or hello's you wish to send out?
"Yeah just to everyone that has supported us, those who get us here you know we had a lot of help from the people down our way, we owe them a lot of thanks, all the fans back home as well and everywhere else. Everyone that has supported us, watched our videos, listened to our music, bought our album - yeah it's all for them, we just hope we can do them proud.
Thanks to every single person who went out their way to give us that one step up or just spread our music about, talking about and supporting us. Thanks to everyone around us, they're always supportive and it's a nice environment to be in.
Same again thanks to everyone for supporting us, every listen counts so.
Aye just everybody, everybody who has ever been to a gig or has supported us.
Perhaps a big shout out to Simon for taking a chance on us, it's beyond appreciated and we plan on to corner him and tell him that in person. To take a risk on a band who is kind of different as us, it's a big leap of faith but we fully intend to live up to and exceed his expectations.
Simon and also anyone else who has seen the band live and just take a chance with, we know these guys are good, but will they be the right act for the stage. Our road manager deserves a shout out too."
Metal music takes on a variety of different sounds and cultural slants across the world, through the likes of Brazil's Sepultura and their Latin Metal period (think 'Roots Bloody Roots') to Israel's Orphaned Land drafting in traditional Israeli Music (think 'El Meod Na'ala'), metal music has been configured with each metal scene that embraces it.
New Zealand on the other hand is one scene that often gets overlooked by most Western metalheads, either because of it's location on the world map or through the lack of effort to explore scenes other than that what dominate in Europe and North America. Alien Weaponry aim to change that with their infectious and riveting blend of Te Reo Māori Thrash Metal, the sound is combined with a Hardcore-Thrash approach with the battle cries found within the Te Māori language; one the trio are aiming to preserve through metal and one they learned through two ways...
GMA spoke to Lewis De Jong (Guitarist / Vocalist) regarding this, their past and how in 2 weeks Alien Weaponry have reminded Europe that New Zealand is still there.
"I would not feel offended because if you do a haka to someone, if they have achieved something or if they have done a performance, that's what you call a 'haka tautoko' which is basically in support of what someone is doing, it's an honour to have a 'haka tautoko' - I feel it would add to what we are all about."
Alien Weaponry hasn't been going all that long, so could you give us a brief history of the band? Tell us about your Māori heritage and meaning behind the band name.
"Henry and I started the band about 8 years ago and Ethan joined around 6 years ago, so yeah we haven't been going for 'that' long but we've been around for a fair bit.
Yeah my brother and I are descendants from the Ngati Pikiāo which is a Māori Iwi (Maori Tribe) and we have Māori family and blood in us, so that's how it kind of came about doing this. We named the band Alien Weaponry when Henry and I first started and this was before we had touched any of the Māori stuff, that's actually named after the sci-fi film 'District 9'; film had alien guns in it so we called it Alien Weaponry and because of that the name kinda stuck. But now when you think about it, when muskets were introduced into New Zealand, to the Māori muskets were a form of 'alien weaponry', so I suppose that kind of connects a little bit, but it wasn't originally planned like that."
Having played to an overflowing crowd on the Sophie Lancaster stage, what are your afterthoughts of your set?
"I'm pretty blown away by how massive and into it the crowd was, that was a really pleasant surprise."
Having played Wacken and being the youngest band in terms of band-members age to do so, did you feel any pressure whatsoever?
"Pressure? I mean Wacken's been our dream since we started the band, so I guess it's more of a... there's not really pressure, I feel like as long as you're confident in what you do and practise hard out, we feel like we get more of a buzz before going on stage, we're just trying to enjoy the experience as much as possible. But yeah it was a really insane feeling playing in front of all those people at Wacken. The crowd f*cking blew us all away, actually quite a lot of the crowds at these festivals have blown us away because the response has almost bettered New Zealand sometimes, and it's really different because this is our first time touring Europe; it's really great to be doing this."
With your brand of Te Māori Thrash metal, would you hope that neighbouring Oceanian countries become inspired by your music and start scenes up?
"Yeah I feel like we're kind of being a statement to quite a few indigenous cultures that have been suppressed and colonized, I feel like we're trying to reach out to the entire world with this and it's really cool to see the response this big being picked up from it."
Tell us about your debut album "Tū", what do the song titles mean? Tū charted on the New Zealand charts, that's got to be awesome right? Any response from the Māori Iwi?
"The album has a lot of different stuff on it, we've got anything from historic battles to unjust actions by the Government you know hundreds of years ago. Some of our more recent stuff has been more about current issues, like we've got a song called 'Holding My Breath' which is quite personal and is about the feeling of anxiety that a lot of people go through when they're quite young. We've written songs about basically things we feel passionate about, so the album's a really passionate album.
Yeah the album hit #1 when we released it, two other big New Zealand artists released albums on the same day and we were really surprised when we saw that we were ahead of them on the charts. That was a really good feeling when we hit #1, it feel like we've achieved something, something we never thought we would when we first started the band.
The reception from Māori in general has been overwhelmingly positive and when we started writing in Te Reo Māori we didn't quite know how people would respond to it, but they've responded very well and I feel like a lot of Māori are kind of 'coming out of the closet' in listening to metal, Māori wasn't really associated with metal before we started what we are doing."
How long did it take your first music video 'Rū Ana Te Whenua'? What is the meaning behind it and was it easy learning Māori?
"That was probably about two days in the studio and also a day of shooting the music video, that was the first music video we shot, but it was not the first one we released - we've been holding onto that for a long time (eight years) before we released it and when we finally did it was really satisfying for us, because you know we have been waiting all that time.
That was actually based on a battle that our great great-grandfather fought, it is basically a story about triumphing against all odds because the Māori were outnumbered, they had around 200-300 soldiers and the British had like over a 1,000 soldiers, but how they won (Māori) was they built this 'Pā' (which was the first recorded case of trench warfare) with underground trenches and bunkers. The British bombarded the Pā over a day and a half with cannons and when they stormed the Pā there was no-one there, as soon as they rode back to General Cameron who led the attack saying they had captured the Pā, while that was happening the Māori jumped up from underneath the ground and slaughtered them all - it's a brutal but cool story to write a song about.
That was our first song that we written in Te Reo Māori and we really took a chance doing that, but I feel the reception's been overwhelming. Henry and I grew up speaking Māori, we went to a Kura Kaupapa which is a Māori language school... I went to a Māori kindergarden and then I went to Kura Kaupapa for about two years and Henry went about for four years, but then we switched schools and Henry and I, Henry not so much but I lost the language quite heavily so actually singing in Māori now is actually... I'm still in the process of learning the language. I feel like singing in Māori is encouraging a lot of people to discover their own heritage and learn Māori, which is not really a common thing in New Zealand."
Would you hope that bands follow Alien Weaponry in terms of tapping into their indigenous culture and expressing it through metal?
"Definitely, I think that's one way we're trying to keep the culture alive in New Zealand and spreading it through music, people are pretty passionate about music and I guess the culture comes with Alien Weaponry. I feel like it's a great way to educate people and add something different to what you do"
If you were invited by the New Zealand rugby team to perform before a game, would you accept it?
"I think we probably would because that would be an amazing thing to play to a packed-out stadium before a rugby game, and I feel like that the energy we would bring would suit quite well, so yeah that would be really cool to do."
How has the New Zealand Government reacted to metal music?
"The New Zealand Government how has it reacted to metal music? Hmm. That's an interesting question, I guess the music industry is probably the closest thing... because the Government hasn't really said anything to us. I guess everyone in the music industry in New Zealand has been supportive of what we're doing... it's a hard question to answer because I actually don't know what the Government feels about what we're doing."
Tell us what the New Zealand Metal scene is like?
"There is a bit of a New Zealand metal scene but I feel like there's not many people in New Zealand (population is around 5 million; around half of Greater London), I guess there's not the hugest metal scene in New Zealand... put it this way there's probably more metalheads at Wacken than there are in New Zealand. The New Zealand metal scene is weird, it's hard to describe - there is still a metal scene in New Zealand. New Zealand's more known for it's reggae and R&B, Lorde and Lord Of The Rings. There is a metal scene in New Zealand with bands like Devilskin, Seas Of Conflict., there are quite a lot of good bands but I feel like there does seem to be a little bit of bickering from genre to genre, I feel like that's a little bit negative, but all in all scene's not that bad in New Zealand."
For metalheads visiting New Zealand, what sights and attractions could you recommend doing / seeing?
"If you go to New Zealand you've got to go to the beach, but before you go to the beach you've got to learn how to swim properly (laughs). In New Zealand there's a tradition that a lot of New Zealanders do it's called 'popping manus', which is basically jumping into the water and making the biggest splash possible, that's something we do in New Zealand and is pretty unique to our country. New Zealand is a beautiful place and I'm like feeling kinda homesick".
What exactly is the haka? Could you explain it's meaning please? If a crowd member was to haka before Alien Weaponry started playing, would you feel offended?
"A haka is a traditional Māori war dance, if two tribes were going to fight they used to do a haka to each other beforehand and I guess if you did a good enough haka, you might be able to scare the enemy into backing down so that it potentially doesn't have to be war. It's really designed to be in your face, scary and powerful and I feel it really works well with what we're doing.
I would not feel offended because if you do a haka to someone, if they have achieved something or if they have done a performance, that's what you call a 'haka tautoko' which is basically in support of what someone is doing, it's an honour to have a 'haka tautoko' - I feel it would add to what we are all about.
It's all about context, haka these days is mostly used in a theatrical, performance kind of environment and basically sometimes what happens is a couple of haka groups that perform and do well, will see a group in the audience jump up and do a 'haka tautoko', kind of instead of an applause and that's something that happens in New Zealand".
What are some phrases metalheads should shout at your concerts?
"A lot of Māori at our concerts say 'Tu Meke' which is kind of saying 'too much', which I kind of guess is a way of supporting someone, you say 'Tu Meke' it's like saying cheers.
Outside of Alien Weaponry what hobbies or interests do you have?
"Me personally I like to make music outside of the band and metal, I mess around with my friend and making lutes and sh*t. I also do a bit of drawing and painting, I'm quite a creative person so, I'm into that kind of stuff. I'm also into long-boarding which is pretty fun, basically just floating around, hanging out with mates and doing whatever."
What plans do you have after Bloodstock? New album? Any thanks?
"We're basically just continuing our European tour, that's the plan. Regarding a second album we've already got some concepts, I've already started coming up with riffs, I feel like you can definitely be expecting a follow-up album and another follow-up after that, everyone stay tuned.
Thanks to everyone who has been supporting us thus far, you guys are f*cking amazing and keep it up, because at the end of the day we wouldn't be doing this without everyone who supports us, so cheers!"
The UK and Nepal have a long standing history with each other, right from the early days of the Ghurkas through World War 2 and into the modern day, the British-Nepalese bond is strong indeed. Aside from that the metal scene out there is thriving despite it's lack of representation on the international stage. Bands like Dying Out Flame signed with Spanish label Xtreem Music, Kalodin had a stint in Singapore and Antim Grahan's activities are unknown, but here are three bands who have had an impact on the wider global metal community. However, there is one band who arguably is waving the flag for the Nepalese Metal scene, scheduled to perform at Bloodstock Open Air this year, Underside are on course to make history as they tell GMA it's not easy being a metal band from this landlocked Himalayan nation.
Hey guys, can you give us a brief history of the band, how did you form, were you in bands previously?
"Yeah we formed after the guitarist (Bikrant) and I (vocalist KC) met at the Silence Festival in 2010, Dr. Pandu (guitarist) and I were in a band before Underside. Our first show was at Silence Festival 2011 and later on Nishant Hagjer, the drummer from Undying joined Underside and has been with us for 3 years now"
Nepal has a really good underground scene with bands like yours, Antim Grahan, Kalodin and Dying Out Flame gaining attention overseas; and your festival KTM Rocks too, what are the main challenges that you face as a Nepalese Metal band?
"Yes it is a pretty decent scene, however not many bands have been able to break out, like all 3 of the other bands you mentioned aren’t active right now. Which is the main problem, bands form and split up easily and don’t thrive. There are so many social and economic problems (we can go on all day) that it’s a fight to be in a metal band everyday in a country like Nepal, but it’s something worth fighting for.
What are your plans before your date with Bloodstock Open Air, how are you guys feeling? Will this be your first time on British soil? Will you be doing a tour of the UK.
"Yes we are super excited and I’m writing to you from Singapore as we are in transit. We are heading to New Zealand for 3 dates with Twelve Foot Ninja and then to Australia for 4/5 headliner shows (across April and May) with several local bands. We have a few shows to be announced back home in Nepal for the end of July before we go to Bloodstock.
This is not our first time in the UK, but we can’t express how excited we are for Bloodstock, we will have something special and worth watching for everyone there. Regarding tour plans I think we are still finding a few shows, but open to any offers and invitations."
The UK and Nepal have a long-standing history; most notably the Ghurka's fighting alongside the British in both world wars, how important is it to remember the relationship we have as nations and as people?
"I think it’s important to remember that humanity should come first irrespective of race, nationality, religion or anything. But it's very cool and beautiful that a mutual love and respect exists between the 2 countries and it should be cherished."
Have you had bands from the likes of India, Bhutan, China and Bangladesh come over to play? How hard is it to organize a gig or indeed a festival?
"Not very often, it’s super difficult to pull off shows. We do our own festival (Silence Festival) and do small shows with some bands from India and stuff, but it’s super hard to stay afloat."
Your new album is set to be released soon, will this be released via a label?
"We actually released our LP independently without any label and have already started working on our first album for early 2019. There are talks but nothing solid so far, we have been an independent band and it’s been okay so far, but if we get a good offer then why not."
What plans have you got for the rest of the year?
"It’s been a good year, we toured India and played 3 shows, we did a six-show tour in Nepal and are now on the Australia and New Zealand tour, ultimately Bloodstock and hopefully more touring and working on the record."
Whitechapel. To some it's the area of East London famed for Jack The Ripper, but in metal context it's an American Deathcore band with a splattering of various influences pocketed here and there from Black Metal to Groove Metal. However this quintet (drummer Ben Harclerode left this year) are more than your generic breakdown-laden, riff chugging clone that seems to dominate the ever-exasperated Deathcore genre. They are the leviathan of the genre, avoiding the cliches and common aesthetics found entrenched in most Deathcore bands and thus pose themselves as truly unique.
They were welcomed back to Bloodstock this year with open arms and certainly gave the punters their monies worth.
GMA took time out to talk to Gabe Crisp, the Whitechapel bassist about the band's history,
"I'd love Whitechapel to be part of a video game, that would be cool. I'd be down for something action-packed for sure."
Whitechapel has been going for 11 years now, what has been the most challenging part of the band's career so far? Did the band name originate from the East London area?
"The fact that you're constantly leaving home and things like that, we're all home buddies... things like driving 5 minutes to work is a lot easier than flying across the world you know? But nah we love it, it comes as part of the territory.
Our band name came from the Whitechapel area in London, I was proposed to be the man to go on to call our band name and Phil said 'Whitechapel', I was like 'what the f*ck?' Why would you call it Whitechapel?' It's weird because that's where Jack The Ripper killed a bunch of sluts back in the day. I was like 'oh shit that's pretty hard, that's metal as f*ck' and so here we are.
I mean another thing, I'll give you this one, Whitechapel is kind of like in a similar way; not saying we're in any way like the band, but the name Black Sabbath... I thought about this a couple of years ago, Whitechapel, see it's like black and white, Sabbath and chapel and it's like it works, I think Whitechapel works, I don't hate our band name. Some bands they're like 10 years in and man I f*cking hate our name, it sucks."
Whitechapel is often regarded as a Deathcore band, but on 'Mark Of The Blade' you leaned more towards Groove Metal right?
"Yeaahh so, I mean we've been a band for 11 years so we try not to write the same record twice, we don't want to do that, we never have, what we were into and writing you know ten years ago... I don't know it's kinda hard for us to not evolve, that's pretty much what it all is - growing up and changing, we just want to be a metal band and not really sub-genre it and all that sh*t, keep it fun for us and try to play shit that people had gotten in to.
Whatever you refer to us I don't care, to me that term [Deathcore] reflects our early years kind of vibe. It's just 10 years ago for us, we already done that kind of sound you know what I mean? Not that there's anything wrong with it, but we just can't write the same record over and over like we're going to be on our 7th record. If you're talking 10 songs a-record, that's 70 songs sounding exactly the same and if you're putting yourself into that genre, defining yourself as such - there's sh*t all you can do there right?"
Aside from metal music, do you have any influences from outside of metal? What does your family think of your music?
"Yeah I was telling a guy earlier about this stuff, when I was 14 I started playing bass guitar and that lead me to become a part of this band. The first band I fell in love, went to see and why I got into guitars was Green Day actually and not a metal band. I was a big fan of Green Day back in the day, just thought that the bass, being loud and proud in that band was super sick, it was cool man.
My parents are awesome, they know I do big sh*t, they're stoked. It's not the greatest job in the world I guess for some people, but it is to me and that's how it works. My family usually come to the out-of-town shows once every a couple of years or so they'll come to a show, my dad loves to have a few beers and watch me play and my mum has no idea what's going on - she has a good time."
Would it be fair to say that Phil Bozeman is one of the fastest Death Metal-style vocalists out there?
"I hope so, sure why not? I think he's the best for sure, I don't know that's just me. I think he's the best for sure. I like watching some frontmen from other bands, but as far as vocals go yeah he's a bad ass - he's very good at what he does. I think he can stand beside anybody in anyway."
Regarding your song 'The Saw Is The Law', what does the song title actually mean?
"I have no idea man, honestly all it is we use that song live as like our logo, those two words rhyme and makes sense I guess? I don't write the lyrics but I think it was just a kind of play on words that kind of rhyme and everybody seems to like it so it works out. There's a lot of saws, we have a lot of saws in our designs, in our album artworks, something like that."
Are there any major festivals in Knoxville?
"No we don't really have anything like that, we play our home town once a year usually, and it's not really a metal town by any means. We're a local band that travels a lot, we have our fans but as far as metal music goes in general, there's not much going on. If there was a festival it would not be metal, how about that? Yeah we'd play a non-metal festival without a doubt, I mean we played Warped Tour which is considered non-metal, it's more metal than it used to be for sure. But yeah we'd play anything, we like good music but it has to be metal for sure; if they want to listen to us then we wouldn't want to play in front of people who wouldn't want to hear us but at the same time we'd love to play anything."
Credit goes to the Bloodstock Open Air Festival Team
You've just finished your set, how was it?
"It was a great time, it was early but at lot earlier than we're used to but everything went well, because we were having a good time. It was easy, played all the songs well so can't really complain. It would have been cool if it was a little sunnier out but I'll be honest, it's not hot right? It's not raining so I'm not going to complain."
For the New Blood Stage bands, some have only just started out, some have never played a major festival before, what advice could you give them (and future unsigned bands at Bloodstock)?
"I'm assuming that the shows are going to be bigger than they're used to or something like that, for me I never had a problem with the size of the crowd. Don't even worry about the crowd, it's easy just play your show on stage and whatever is happening down front don't even worry about it. Just play your show on stage, that's what I'd say."
Is it relatively hard for American bands to go on tours across the States?
"Nah nah, I mean for us we've always been lucky I guess but at the same time it's fairly easy as long as you have a somewhat of a following and, maybe starting up is kind of hard - I think that would be for anybody, shows in America go well."
When Whitechapel is on tour, what do you guys get up to to occupy yourself whilst travelling?
"PlayStation 4, some of us try to go to the gym every now and then if there's a way to get out and get the pump on, get a shower you know? Let's see, yeah usually just PlayStation, we play a lot of PlayStation. We've been playing a lot of NHL 17, Uncharted 4, but I'm usually watching Zach (Householder) whilst drinking beers - it sounds boring right? But it's what we do."
Speaking of PS4, if a game developer was to ask Whitechapel to provide a song for a new PS4 or Xbox game would you do it?
"As many as would, forever, why not yeah. I used to learn about bands who liked Tony Hawk back in the day, that had awesome soundtracks. I'd love Whitechapel to be part of a video game, that would be cool. I'd be down for something action-packed for sure."
Does Whitechapel have any plans confirmed for 2018 so far?
"So far I don't know if I'm supposed to talk about it, I talked about it earlier though in some form of it, but we're going to be back early Spring of next year and I don't want to say who we're coming back with, but yeah we'll be back early next year. I think it's mainly Europe stuff, maybe some UK stuff but it's very early stages but it looks like we're going to be over here next year, early next year."
Gabe, have you got any hello's, greetings, etc you wish to send out to fans, family, etc.?
"Well yeah I just got married, so I'll say hello Corinna, what's up girl? I'll figure out that she manages to read / listen to this, it's awesome. Anybody that listens to Whitechapel, that would be cool I feel like I'm a pretty lucky person in talking to you guys so, I just want to say thanks to anybody who has checked us out, liked us or not, who cares, I appreciate it - thanks to the bands."
Essex is known for many things, some of them and some bad. It's metal scene is one of the good things and then there's TOWIE (The Only Way Is Essex) which is the worst thing to happen since My Chemical Romance being classed as a metal band.
But focusing on the metal scene, it's had the likes of Tides of Virtue, Forged In Black, Sanctorum, Dismanibus, etc grace the fertile soil from Southend and Colchester respectively. However when one speaks of Basildon, one thinks of Depeche Mode, chavs, Basildon Bond paper, Denise Van Outen., etc, and now there is Raze The Void.
GMA caught up with the Essex mob to find out how they fared with Bloodstock, the Essex Metal scene, debut EP and plans ahead.
"the title itself 'Obsolescence' covers what the current state of the world really is; the system is obsolete"
Raze The Void has only been going a year, were you all in previous bands prior? How did Raze The Void come to be?
"We have all been playing together for around with each other for 15 years nearly and just managed to get together and start a band from that after realising we all wanted to start playing and touring and seeing the world. RTV literally came from out of a dustbin a few years before we started playing the scene."
The Essex Metal scene seems to be a little quiet at the moment, could you tell us the current state of the scene?
"From Essex, apart from it being quiet, to really. There are some amazing acts in and around Essex, but you just have to sift through the venues and have a look out there and see for yourself."
Having played Bloodstock, what was your experience like? How did you end up winning a slot? What advice could you give Metal 2 The Masses bands next year who are vying for a slot?
"Bloodstock and everyone who we met from it and regarding it were amazing, very supportive and the feedback from everyone and all the reviews have been awesome and extremely positive.
For anyone out there who is going to go into it; be serious but have fun. If you believe what you do it the best thing you do, you have fun doing it and you all have fun playing with each then do it, go for it, be the best band you can band!
If you doubt anything you say or do or if you're not professional enough or not having enough fun, the crowd will sniff you and not like what they are smelling. They are as much a part of you as you are of them, so be there with them, get them involved. That okay?"
As a band are you worried at the lack of local venues with only Chelmsford's The Asylum, Southend's Chinnerys, Harlow's The Square and the Colchester Arts Centre being the sole main ones?
"It's not a worry when you can book outside of Essex and in fact, to just book in Essex, from experience, people then just seem to feel like that they will miss that one and go to another one as it's only up the road or whatever. Bra chin out into other places and leaving home has not only proved well for us, but is something that everyone should do and we in fact recommend. The live music scene is dieting but it's not dead."
Outside of music, what other hobbies or interests do you have?
"We all work full time and between that and the band; writing, playing, re-writing and down time there isn't a lot between, but some of use do things like cycling, rock climbing, wind surfing, extreme ironing; mainly physical activities. We are all very involved in quizzes and chess and some of us have other music projects going. We are generally very busy."
Tell us more about your debut EP, where was it recorded? What does the title mean?
"We recorded the EP with one of the most talented and hard working men we have ever worked with who we honestly consider family now, a man named Dan Kerr or Avenue studios; absolute genius!
The EP and from that flowing into the upcoming album is all conceptional, revolving around human error, greed, the rising of the underground movement, corruption and the title itself 'Obsolescence' covers what the current state of the world really is; the system is obsolete."
What plans do you have for the year ahead? Are there any greetings you wish to send out?
"The album is being written literally as this being typed out to you....now. We will continue gigging and getting the RTV name out there to people and then launching the new album along with more media stuff and hopefully some new merch. It's all going UP!
Shout out to Quimby, everyone who has helped us get this far, turned up and sung along with us, Nick Plews, Bob from Club 85, Ross, Phil and the boys for all their support and love and physical moves and to Neil- we hope you recover soon. "