One could argue that the Japanese Metal scene has only really broken into the Western hemisphere and began to establish a respectable presence here. Sure it's true that if you look at the history of the Japanese Metal scene, you would notice that it's origins are firmly placed in the 1970's, echoing a similar backstory to the British Metal scene. It has to be said though that the Visual Kei movement certainly spurred the overall Japanese Metal scene on and pushed it outside the country with bands like X Japan gaining overseas attention. Fast forward to the turn of the century and bands like Crossfaith, Babymetal and now Lovebites are riding the tides of the New Wave of Japanese Metal.
Lovebites are definitely pretty, but don't let the looks fool you as this all-female Heavy / Power ensemble have enough brutality, grit and power to leave you in awe, given Lovebites have only been going 3 years. In these 3 years they have played at Wacken and Bloodstock Open Air and have signed two record deals, subsequently releasing 2 albums and 2 EP's.
Drummer Haruna spoke to GMA about the girls backstory, rise to global success and the debate of whether to call their music Heavy / Power Metal or Kawaii Metal.
"Maybe people say we are Kawaii Metal because of our looks... listen to our music... we are a Heavy / Power Metal band!"
Festival appearances, a headline tour, two EP's and now two albums across two years since the band's inception, that must be a dream start right?
"I have never thought I could experience this much in such a short time. However, I was sure that this band was going to be a good band because of these great members. I am very pleased to get good reviews for all of our songs. Playing overseas was great too. I have never experienced these kind of things so I just really hope the band will be grow up bigger by footing these chances."
When you were informed you were to perform on the main stage at Bloodstock (instead of Sophie stage), what were emotions like in the band?
I was very surprised. The happiness was bigger than the nervousness. I felt like the luck was on our side. I could do my best and did the best performance, I wanted to make good use of this opportunity. It felt so good to play Bloodstock Open Air, it was the first outdoor festival to play as Lovebites. It was raining that day, but when we played the sky became clearer and many people came out to see us."
You all seem to have different tastes in music: Asami listens to Alicia Keys and Aretha Franklin, Miyako learned to play a classical piano; do you use these as influences in Lovebites' music?
"Halloween triggered me to get into metal music. The first album I listened to was “Master Of The Rings” and I was inspired by Ulrich Kusch’s drumming style. His style became my basic drumming style.
Do you feel that the Japanese Metal scene has gained more attention from Europe over the last decade or so? It seems Japanese Metal is on the rise?
"I believe it’s getting bigger. Loudness and Babymetal are playing often overseas. I hope Lovebites to get in to the boom."
In your own words could you tell us the difference between Visual Kei and Japanese Metal? Is the Visual Kei scene still active?
"I think it’s just the look. Visual Kei bands are mainly guys dressed up, their music styles vary, sometime metal and sometimes not. Somehow people mix up Visual Kei with Metal and think it’s the same thing in Japan. Visual Kei is still highly popular though.
With your new album "Clockwork Immortality", what did you do differently that wasn't present on "Awakening From Abyss"?
"Regarding drumming, I wanted songs to stand out. So sometimes I play aggressive, sometimes I go for something simple to let the vocals and guitars sound stand out. Through the entire album, we wanted and tried to make stronger heavy metal."
Some say your music is Heavy / Power Metal, some say it's Kawaii Metal, how would you describe your music?
"Maybe people say we are Kawaii Metal because of our looks. Just listen to our music or come see us play live, you’ll know we are a Heavy / Power Metal band!
With 2019 in full swing, what have you been up to and what plans have you got for the year ahead?
"We played a Japanese tour in January. I hope to play a lot inside and outside Japan in 2019."
Do you have any greetings, thank you's etc you wish to send out?
"The new album “Clockwork Immortality” shares strong points from “Awakening From Abyss” and “Battle Against Damnation”. Plus it became more powerful with greater melodies, I hope you’ll notice the evolution of Lovebites. You will see us before long. See you there!"
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."
Metal music and war, the two somehow seem to come hand-in-hand at times and yet it's usually the war-ravaged nations that get ignored in the metal music community. How is it that bands across the world risk their daily lives to not only play metal music, but to survive the climate they find themselves in and yet barely receive little if any coverage from the more-established media? Dark Phantom are a Heavy / Death Thrash Metal band from the city of Kirkuk, Iraq. Having released their debut EP 'Beta' (2013) through the Swedish label Salute Records and their debut album 'Nation Of Dogs' (2016) through the Belarusian label Symbol of Domination Prod., (as well as an independent digital release), Dark Phantom are looking to venture onto greater things, become a beacon of light in the Iraqi Metal scene and show to the world that Iraq has another side to the country other than what is shown on the news. Dark Phantom are more than just a metal band, they are a metal band advocating the voice of peace.
Guitarist Murad explains to GMA the difficulties of being a metal band in Iraq, their plans to tour with their Syrian brothers in Maysaloon and why Iraqi metalheads burden so much oppression in the face of socio-cultural resistance.
"(Metal is) an art and by this art we can send our message worldwide about how we are living in war and corruption"
For those who do not know of Dark Phantom, could you please give us a brief history?
"Dark phantom is an idea that was born after the Iraqi war in 2003, when we listened to rock and metal music. Many bands influenced us, bands like Metallica, Slayer, Lamb Of God, Megadeth, and many others. The two guitarists Murad and Rebeen are relatives, they started playing guitar in 2007 and by practising decided to form the first metal band in Kirkuk. They began looking for other members to join; a bassist, drummer and a vocalist, they found them in University and through social media.
After joining the band, we practised in Murad’s room as a heavy metal band and played our first show in Kirkuk in 2011. It was a good show, playing in front of more than 300 people even when the situation was dangerous in our city. After the show in the mosque during Friday pray, they spoke about our show and that a satanic band played music in Kirkuk and that they did a show. Because of this we stopped playing shows in Kirkuk as we were really worried about our lives and family.
In 2012 we recorded our first EP ('Beta'), the record was bad because we didn’t have good equipment and there wasn’t any experience in recording, we played other shows in the north of Iraq in the Kurdistan region, because its safer. In 2014, 2 other members left the band, the drummer and the vocalist; the vocalist left Iraq because his brother was injured in a car bomb explosion, and the drummer said he must go to find a job. We found new members and a new genre that is more extreme than the old Dark Phantom. We recorded and released our first single and debut album (('Nation Of Dogs') in 2016."
It must be hard to be a metal band let alone a metalhead in Iraq? Can you tell us the challenges both as musicians and everyday persons face?
"It’s definitely not an easy thing being a metalhead with the problems you’ll have to face just for simple things like having long hair, tattoos or just black cloth, these things are seen as bad and taboo in the national culture, and you're faced with bad words, a bad reputation and in some cases death or harassment. Metal is an excellent way to show a unique way or style to people who’re old fashioned and let them know that there are other styles of living and different ideologies from what they’re used to and that everyone is different in it’s own way."
How long has the Iraqi Metal scene been going? Some say Acrassicauda were the first metal band from Iraq, is this true?
"It’s really unclear when or who was the first metal band in Iraq, but it goes beyond Accrasicauda however they were the first band who made some publicity and attracted attention."
What do your parents think of your music? Are they musicians themselves? How hard is it to obtain instruments and equipment?
"No they are not musicians, they are normal people; they think we do satanic work and get angry about it. However when we explain to them metal is not satanic work, its an art and by this art we can send our message worldwide about how we are living in war and corruption, they understand what we do and they become supportive. About the music instruments and equipment, it's so hard to find good instruments and equipment here, we work and calculate money and order it from the USA; the cost becomes very expensive but we do our best because there are no other ways to get it".
Do you talk to other metal bands in the MENA region? Such as Maysaloon from Syria, Belos from The Oman, Nervecell from the UAE, etc.?
"Yes we have a strong bond together and we’re usually aware of each other’s plans"
Arguably the greatest dream for Dark Phantom would be to perform in Europe, how far are you from reaching that goal? What plans do you have for the rest of the year and into 2019?
"Arguably it is the greatest dream for Dark Phantom to tour Europe and the USA, and play with big bands. We are hoping that by 2019 we will be able to play at a festival or two in Europe. We have some good plans, but it’s too early to say and we also hope that we can go to Syria before 2019".
Are there any greetings, thank you's, etc you wish to send out? For those visiting Kirkuk, what sights / attractions would you recommend to metalheads?
"We are thankful for everyone who stands beside us through our good and bad times, special thanks for those who support us by buying our album and who donated for our Syria concert , we never forget them, they are a part of Dark Phantom.
None, there is nothing metalhead-related in our city".
"He’s (Kylo Ren) shown so far that his only way to cope with that (his inner conflict) is to let his rage run rampant"
What are your thoughts on 'The Last Jedi' and will you be watching the new anthology film 'Solo'?
"We were all big fans of The Last Jedi and will absolutely be going to see Solo. I doubt you’ll find any of us not going to see any piece of the Star Wars saga."
Your first opus set the galaxy alight and got the thumbs up from Darth Sidious, what will you be bringing to the new album due out on May 4th?
"Our new album was our opportunity to explore the pieces that we wanted to explore. The first album needed to have all the big ones, but we are now able to delve into some of the deeper cuts from the past films and explore some of the newer material. It’s definitely much heavier and more technical."
It's rare for themed-bands to make an impact internationally, so who came up with the idea of having a Star Wars instrumental metal band?
"Our drummer, Grant McFarland (aka Bobs Sett) was the one who hatched the idea initially. He had made a drum video for The Imperial March a few years prior and eventually had the idea to add other instruments to the arrangement, which is when he got the rest of us involved. His perfect pitch and excellent ears are due the most credit, as he was the one to pick apart every piece of the orchestra and map it all out for us to play. I don’t think we’d have made the same impact without his efforts. "
Do you feel Kylo Ren will redeem himself in Episode 9? Or could Kylo and Rey form the Grey Jedi?
"I don’t think there is any coming back for Kylo. He fulfilled the same prophecy as every other Sith or Dark Side oriented individual before him, which was to eventually outsmart and kill his master. I think his inner conflict will still play a factor, but he’s shown so far that his only way to cope with that is to let his rage run rampant. I suppose, however, we could always be thrown a total curve ball. I guess we’ll have to wait and see."
Surely it must get hot under your outfits, are the suits breathable? Does it take long to put them on?
"The live costumes are not nearly as bad as they look. They are designed to be as movable and breathable as possible. The original costumes used in our music videos are the real burden. Incredibly hot, heavy and always falling apart. Unfortunately for us, those are what we also spend the longest continuous periods of time in, since videos take up to eight hours to shoot. The live show is just an hour, then we’re back out of them. "
Ultimately would Dark Vader love to play a lightsabre-shaped guitar?
"I currently play a guitar with a red fretboard, courtesy of Kiesel Guitars, that we have aptly named “The Lightsaber”. I’m not sure I’d ever want the full shape just because of how skinny that would be. I’m a bigger guy, so tiny guitars look a bit silly on me."
Initially was it difficult converting the orchestral pieces into metal music? How did you go about it?
"As I said, that was all Grant. The cool thing is these songs already lend themselves very well to the metal adaptations. I think classical compositions in general are very easily adaptable in that way."
What plans do you have for the rest of the year and into the light years ahead?
"Our next tour is set for June. We will be heading back to Europe to play a number of great festivals, with some equally great names. There are some other things in the works for the remainder of 2018, but none I can talk about just yet! "
Whenever attention is directed towards the Americas, we usually as metalheads think of USA, Canada and to an extent Brazil. But it's the countries in between the northern and southern ends of the vast continent that we tend to forget about. Bordering the USA, Mexico has a vibrant metal history with a plethora of bands coming and going, with perhaps Brujeria being the most internationally-recognised bands to emerge. But like all scenes, the hive of activity resides on the streets i.e. the underground. One such band Doxa MX (originally called Doxa) knows all about this and as they prepare to release their latest album in 4 years, GMA spoke to Manuel Rojas (Vocals / Lead Guitars) to understand what makes this scene tick, what the bands plans are, challenges within the scene and a taster of what torta ahogadas is like.
"It (C3 stage) is in a street filled with bars and restaurants to which you can go before and after seeing some great international bands."
For those who have not heard of Doxa MX, could you give us a brief history of the band? Were you in bands previously?
"The band started in 2012 with my friend Erick (Doxa's bass player until this day) and I, one day in college we decided to form a metal band, I had been playing guitar and working on my harsh vocals for a few years up to that point and he was already a very talented multi-instrumentalist. After that we recruited the rest of the group and after a couple of line-up changes, we had a stable formation. We started playing regularly in the local circuit and managed to record and digitally self-release our debut album in 2014.
In early 2015, we had to put the project on a forced hiatus due to various personal problems that needed attention at the time, until late 2017 when we reformed with a new line-up (with Erick and I as the original members), an updated name and logo (in order to avoid confusion with other bands with very similar names), as well as an updated cover for our first album. Currently we are getting ready for our second LP and playing a few warm-up shows before returning to the live setting with full force."
You play a blend of Heavy and Melodic Death Metal, who or what gave you the inspirations to play such music?
"Honestly, that tag doesn't apply 100% to us, but it is the closest I could think of regarding our sound, as well as "Experimental Death Metal". We chose it because, well, we had to have one tag associated with our music and we play Death Metal-based music, while our biggest influences are Heavy Metal giants like Iron Maiden or Judas Priest, although we like to seek and gather influences from everywhere inside and outside the metal realm. We basically do what we like, without worrying about sounding a certain way in order to fit a certain mold, to me that is just limiting your creativity, and I don't want to do that, besides, it would become boring for us after a short while to play straightforward death metal, thrash, or whatever style all the time."
It has been 4 years since your debut album 'Aniquilación', will you be releasing a new one very soon?
"Yes! We are almost done with the composition process (I would say around 90% done) and hope to record it and release it sometime in late 2018 or early 2019. It's about time!"
You sing in Spanish, would you consider singing in English to expand out into the wider metal scene?
"It is something we are not completely against, but I as the lyricist, decided to write the lyrics in Spanish because it seems like a more honest approach, as well as a more distinctive one. Basically I asked myself "Where is this band from?", "What language is spoken here?" however, we are all bilingual to different degrees and don't rule out making entire albums in English in the future, it depends on what feels right at the moment."
What is it like being a Mexican Metal band? What challenges do you guys face these days?
"Basically there are two kinds of challenges: economic challenges and scene-related challenges. Regarding the economy, Mexico is one of the countries with less average vacation days a year and more average hours worked per week, so there are lots of times it becomes really hard to find the time to focus properly on a project like this, due to the fact that we all have jobs and bills to pay, and we are young and... well, everyone knows that it is really hard for our generation to come by these days all around the world and here is a bit more rough, I think. Also the costs are an issue, it takes a really high percentage of one's pay if you wish to book a studio, buy a new amplifier or get a new microphone here, basically because salaries are way lower that those in the U.S. or Europe, among other places; and the cost of them is even higher than in those countries, so it is a considerably bigger sacrifice.
Scene wise, I have read comments stating that it is very similar in most places, in the sense that here there are very few venues for local metal bands and many of those require you to sell a lot of overpriced tickets and / or bring your own amps, microphones, P.A. and everything, and even those who don't do such things usually never pay, not even with a few beers. It is easy to say "well, just don't accept it" but without that we simply wouldn't play a lot. Also, one huge problem is that most big opportunities (I would say around 95% of them) of opening to big bands, playing big festivals and so on, are only either for a couple of bands who are family members and friends of people organizing the gigs, people who can give favours to the promoters or simply pay-to-play scenarios."
For metalheads visiting Guadalajara, what sights / attractions would you recommend seeing? Are there any customs that tourists should be aware of (so not to cause offence)?
"I would recommend to them to eat some Torta Ahogadas (a delicious meal only available in this state [Jalisco]), some good tacos and basically spend all day eating, because Mexican cuisine is one of our biggest prides and is recognised as one of the best in the world. You can also check ahead which gigs are going to be happening in the city those days, there's a venue, the C3 stage, that every month has really good metal shows and it is in a street filled with bars and restaurants to which you can go before and after seeing some great international bands.
Tourists should take the precautions of planning their activities well, because it is very easy to get lost due to the fact that our traffic signals are very bad and, in many places, non-existent, so, if you bring your car, try to stay on the highways most of the time to avoid getting terribly lost. Also, avoid the yellow cabs, they are not reliable nor safe at all, just take Uber everywhere, it is cheaper anyway."
What plans do you have for the year ahead?
"We are currently working on our second album, which is our main focus for these year. We'll also play a few shows here and there."
Are there any greetings or thank you's you wish to send out?
"To all the people reading this, please keep on supporting Global Metal Apocalypse."
Norway has a long and rich history in the worldwide metal community, it's seen it's bright days with the likes of Dimmu Borgir breaking into the mainstream charts, and it's darker days with the church burnings that arose from the controversial True Norwegian Black Metal movement; of which was spearheaded by Varg Vikernes and Euronymous.
Aside from the Black Metal love affair, Norway has a diverse metal range nowadays and it's bands like Veislakt who are carrying it forward towards newer heights. GMA spoke to the "Jærcore" / Punk Metallers about their forthcoming album, the Norwegian scene and their success. Guitarist / Vocalist René Undem filled us in with the details.
"Everyone depends on it (Facebook) too much; we have to go back to flyers, posters and care more about releasing physicals for the fans"
What are the inspirations that you are using for your forthcoming new album due out in September?
"Since we've made a concept album this time around, we've been checking out some Queen and Pink Floyd to see how we can build up a story with both lyrics and songs. What kind of mode the next song shall have etc., how it can build up the whole album towards a finale at the end. When the album was in the writing progress, we stopped around the last 5 songs writing lyrics, and just concentrated on what kind of songs was needed in between those that have already been written. The album is about an underground circus were everything isn't quite as a normal circus would be like. Alcoholism, violence and stuff like that occurs."
Will the songs be exclusively in Norwegian, or will there be some English songs?
"The songs will all be in Norwegian, and in our own dialect as well. At this point we haven´t thought about doing lyrics in English, because we are Norwegian, and love our mother tongue. :-)"
Would you describe your style as Punk Metal or something else?
"We call our style "Jærcore", that´s a hybrid name for us as we are from Jæren (the name of the province) and play hardcore. But we mainly do a hybrid between metal, punk and hard rock.
With your new album will you be doing an album release show? Maybe a Scandi-tour?
"We are currently booking all over Norway for this fall, haven't thought about doing any gigs outside of Norway yet. But if people want to come and see our shows, of course we´ll play. We love playing live, that´s why we release so much music, so we can go out and play new material to people."
What are some challenges that unsigned Norwegian Metal bands experience these days?
"We're so lucky that we've signed a license deal with Rob Mules Records for our next album, so we're kinda set with the distribution. But the biggest challenges now by my opinion is that there is too much information for the common man at this point, so bands kinda "drown" in between all of this. Facebook for instance has become the new internet as I see it, and everyone depends on it too much. I think we have to go back to flyers, posters and care more about releasing physicals for the fans. In the end metal fans are still the buyers of music. All the pop shit can have streaming for them selves."
Veislakt has been going nearly 5 years, what are some of the highlights of your career?
"We've played Rockefeller in Oslo, a big club scene, that was a blast. Done a gig and became friends with Audrey Horne, and that Metalinjection and Metalsucks picked up one of our music videos last year, that was kind of a highlight."
For those visiting your home town / city, what sights or attractions could you recommend?
"Prekestolen in Lysefjorden is something everyone should check out. Stavanger City in the summertime is magical. All the beaches in Hå Kommune I can highly recommend, not for bathing, but the wonderful nature out there."
What plans do you have for the rest of the year?
"Release the album, tour and have fun."
The Caribbean, along with Africa and Oceania, is one area where metal music is arguably still in it's infancy in terms of presenting itself globally; it's presence is on the rise with Trinidad & Tobago's Lynchpin having performed at Wacken Open Air, a documentary about the Puerto Rican Metal scene being released and Wacken Open Air: Caribbean Metal Battle which determined what metal band from The Caribbean was going on to play Wacken.
But our attention turns to a fledgling scene, one that is being spearheaded by Avante Guarden. Global Metal Apocalypse spoke to Vallon about the magical journey this band has had.
"I hope that more bands come forward to make the world aware that we exist here"
How did Avante Guarden get started and what challenges (if any) have you had to overcome?
"Lisa Bullard (Jayne Doh) and I (Vallon Thompson) were introduced through a mutual friend from the local music scene. She was writing songs without music and I was writing them without a singer... so we were the solution to both our problems! The biggest challenge we faced at the time was finding like minded (or at the very least interested) musicians from a scene that was mostly Bahamian Calypso, Reggae and Gospel performers."
As you're from The Bahamas, could you tell us more about the music scene over there in general? Are there any rock / metal bands out there, what is the likelihood of a scene emerging?
"As mentioned, the live scene is mainly Bahamian Calypso (known as Rake and Scrape), Reggae, Gospel and some Jazz. There is a rock scene over here that seems to be slowly growing but with limited venues. Lately I've seen new bands emerging like "Foreign Sounds" "The Core" and "We The Few," I'm loving the fact that these guys are keeping the music alive!"
You participated in the Global Battle of the Bands competition, what was this like for you? Tell us your experience, was there any other Caribbean bands participating?
"The year we participated in GBOB we were the only Caribbean band present so we felt the pressure! It was a great experience, we all had such an awesome time and were exposed to international bands (some of which I am still in contact with) and the wonderful culture of Thailand. We travelled halfway around the world... what can I say, it was AWESOME!!!"
Geographically speaking, The Bahamas is in direct line of hurricanes - has Hurricane Irma had an impact? If so what can you tell us? if not, what were the preparations?
"Irma effected the southern islands of The Bahamas, central and northern didn't really get that horrible weather. There was serious flooding and winds that destroyed a great deal of homes and property but Bahamians are no strangers to hurricanes and so we know how to prepare for storms. Also there were evacuations planned, and many relief efforts made after Irma had passed."
As a band have you performed outside of The Bahamas? If so where.
"Its just been Thailand actually, shortly after GBOB unfortunately the band started to drift apart"
Last year Lynchpin (Trinidad & Tobago) played at Wacken Open Air. Regarding The Caribbean as a whole, could you see metal scenes emerging from the likes of St. Lucia, St. Vincent & The Grenadies, Antigua & Barbuda., etc?
"Lynchpin? Really, wow that's great! Honestly I wasn't aware of that and didn't know that a metal scene even existed in those more "conservative" countries. As a scene metal has always kinda been underground, a silent scream waiting to happen and so I hope that more bands come forward to make the world aware that we exist here :) !"
How did you as musicians become interested in music? Who influences you?
"My influences were in my family actually: I had an aunt (who passed away when I was like 16) she was a soprano in the national choir and a theatre actress. Also my grandfather played guitar as a hobby so I grew up around lots of music from them. I headed in the rock direction after listening to a special about Queen on VH1, then Black Sabbath and it was all down hill from there lol!"
Finally do you have any plans for the year ahead? Are there any greetings you wish to send out?
"I'm always working on music but since AG split up I been trying to put a proper band back together (AG technically still exists but as a cover band with only myself and Treco Johnson - the bassist - still around) so I'd like to get back into doing hard rock and metal so I'm searching for another singer... or maybe I'll just screeeeam it out myself lol. Hopefully I'll have some good news for you about that soon :)! Cheers, Keep it Rocking!!!"
Fiji is not one country you would associate with rock or metal music and yet it seems there is one band set out to change that, bring forth The Relativ. A six-piece band playing rock/metal music on the tiny island nation in the Pacific Ocean. With a population of just under 900,000 which is just above the populations of Newcastle and Liverpool, you would think they would be celebrated as legends in their own right, in which case you thought right as Benjamin (manager and drummer) Seniroqa goes on to tell GMA... with a surprise regarding the Fijian Metal scene.
"There’s a couple of Heavy Metal fans out here as well and we are one of those people who listen to Heavy Metal".
Can you give us a brief history of The Relativ, how did you meet? What are you aiming to achieve?
"The band was initially formed on November 2015. We all started out recording covers on YouTube then just continued from there. The funny part about this is that we are all cousins hence why we named the band TheRelatiV. There are mainly 6 of us that make the band work, 4 band members and 2 roadies / stage coordinators. When we started the band, we actually had a dream of making it big and be the first rock band from Fiji to make it overseas, we’re still working on that and there have been good responses from our fans and hopefully one day we’d make it."
Names of Band Members:
Josh Tukana - Lead Vocals
Johnny Seniroqa - Lead & Rhythm Guitarist / Backing Vocals / Music Director
Nahshon Fong - Bassist
Benjamin Seniroqa - Drummer / Music Director / Band Leader & Manager
Filipe Lalauvaki - Backing Vocals / Synth / Stage Coordinator
Nelson Cokanasiga - Backing Vocals / Drum tech / Stage Coordinator
What can you tell us about the Fiji Music scene, as you play rock music is the rock / metal scene well supported?
"The music scene in Fiji is quite unique, we were shocked that we had people who loved rock when we started out. If you play it right, people will love it because Fiji is a very talented country in terms of music, the only problem is that there is no proper platform of exposure for many bands out here and hopefully one day there would be a good platform for younger bands to start off from. We play at a club called Traps Bar and they’ve been very supportive with the band, mostly tourists, volunteers and exchange students go there to dance and listen to us play when they get a chance which is so awesome."
Are there any heavy metal bands in Fiji? Any metal music fans? What are your thoughts on Heavy Metal?
"There used to be a Metal band a couple of years ago but most of their members have parted ways to continue living their normal lives. You could also say there’s a couple of Heavy Metal fans out here as well and we are one of those people who listen to Heavy Metal."
Given Fiji's isolation, as a band have you performed outside the country? Do you tour the island or are most concerts held in Suva?
"We’re hoping that one day we’d get to tour the world and play out side of the country but at the mean time, we’ve only played within the country. Mostly for Concerts and Festivals."
Are you aware of any rock or metal bands in other countries in Oceania other than Australia, New Zaland and Papua New Guinea?
"Not that we know off but I’m pretty sure there should be a couple of them. Australia and New Zealand would probably have a lot of Metal Bands for sure."
How did you become interested in recording and playing music? Are there any music schools?
"Most of us were brought up through musical family backgrounds, our parents and uncles used to play for their bands and we used to watch them as we grew up. All of us were brought up and played at church so you could say the interest was always there ever since we were young. All of us love music and we’ve come to a stage where we appreciate all sorts of styles of music. The Seniroqa brothers who also run a media company called Only Idea Studios are the ones who usually record & produce our Music & Music Videos (both covers & originals. There are a couple of music schools here in Fiji where musicians go and learn how to read music. None of the band members has ever attended music school but are all self taught. which is nothing new to most musicians here in Fiji."
What plans do you have for the year ahead? What was 2017 like for you guys?
"This year we’re planning on taking things slow and hopefully get everything right, being in a band is not as easy as it sounds, if you’re not organised well, things will be really hard for you. Last year was pretty crazy, we really enjoyed every moment of it, I’d say we’ve never played so much shows compared from last year than the year before that."
Finally do you have any greetings you wish to send out?
"We would like to thank everyone who has supported and believed in us and our dream through out all these years. Mostly we’d like to thank God for always being there for us, our parents and our families, to Traps Bar for always providing us with a venue to jam all the time and to all our fellow musicians who have become a part of our family."
We already know Australia and New Zealand are the most prominent metal scenes in the whole of Oceania, with the addition of smaller scenes in Papua New Guinea, New Caledonia, French Polynesia and Guam... but one surprising scene has sprung up thanks to the Groove / Rock / Heavy Metal band Dropvkal from... Vanuatu.
It seems that metal music is finally touching the hearts of the most isolated island nations on earth, having won a music competition with their song 'Dangerous' (which is about climate change) and seemingly causing a buzz in that part of the world, GMA caught up with band member Braxton Cooper to find out how the band started and what their role in the Vanuatu Music scene is.
"Our aim is to get attention around the world... we have like not more than a thousand fans of heavy metal / rock in Vanuatu."
How long has Dropvkal been going? Who came up with the band name and what style of music do you play?
"Dropvkal is like 3 words joined together:- 'Drop' is for tear drops that our ancestors shed during the blackbirding in the 18 and 19 centuries, 'V' is for vision, the band has a vision of creating something unique that will touch the heart of peoples when they listen to our music. 'Kal- kalja', that's in our local dialect, which means culture, we are trying to mix up today's music with our culture, we even have some local instruments in our music that our ancestors used, we used that too to add some flavour to our music... we the band members came up with that name, We play any type of music, reggae, rock, latino zouk, African zouk, pop music, easy listening, blues, etc., we even have some songs written in local dialect..."
Is it relatively easy being a music in Vanuatu? What challenges are there as a band?
"It's a little bit hard back here, with our style of music tourists enjoy it, cause we played a lot in hotels back here, most of us are unemployed youths and we earned just a little to support us. The two main challenges that we usually face is money and families, we tried our very best in our gigs but we get just a little. Families sometimes they don't support us, we even get cursing words from our wives saying we are wasting our time with music, but its what we love so none of that stops us, we are still together till today for almost eight years."
What are your thoughts on rock and heavy metal music? Are there any rock / metal fans in Vanuatu?
"We have mixtures of music, we even try to mix rock with another type of music, but yes we have a lot of fans back here. They love our music.
In Vanuatu we have a lot of bands, mostly reggae bands, and we decided to play rock, heavy metal; we have few fans here but our aim is to get attention around the world with our acoustic rock. We love rock because it easily gets peoples attention and because it is a way you express yourself or how you do campaigns or fight for something, e.g. like our single 'Dangerous' which was released in early 2016 is about climate change; we won a music competition with that single. You can watch that on YouTube. We have like not more than a thousand fans of heavy metal / rock in Vanuatu."
Have you had any fans outside of Vanuatu get in touch with the band? Surely it would be hard to perform outside of the country?
"We have a lot of fans outside of Vanuatu, we played mainly in hotels so tourists enjoy our music, we have fans in the Solomon islands, Fiji, New Zealand, Australia, Japan, China, USA, Mexico, Argentina, Caledonia, Germany, England, and many more."
Are Vanuatuans encouraged to learn music? What styles of music are most popular?
"In Vanuatu we have a music festival, called Fest'Napuan music festival and it happens in October every year, and during this festival we try to make it gender-balanced in our music, we don't have too many females in music so we trying to encourage females to take part in music, we don't have any proper music schools in Vanuatu we just learn music anytime or anywhere we feel like we want to, but yes we are encouraging people to learn music in Vanuatu. Reggae music is the only popular music in the whole of Vanuatu with our local music, called string band."
Do you feel music brings the world together? That it speaks a common language?
"Yes I feel that music brings the world together, the way we see when we play in the hotels we meet people from all around the world, we even feel the love and joy we share together with our fans, and even just between us the band members. With music, it is a common language that we musicians speak even if we are from different places around the world with different cultures but with that we understand each other very well, and with that you can see that music always brings people and the world together.."
What plans does the band have for the year ahead?
"One of the main plans for this year is an album. We are already practising for going into the studio by next month and with that we will be looking forward to touring in Australia, New Zealand, and New Caledonia. We really want to expose our music to the world.."
Ever since Sepultura emerged on the scene, Brazil has been churning out metal bands left, right and centre and whilst a vast majority rarely break out of the wider South American Metal scene, they do in the own right build a name for themselves on their own continent. Mind, one could argue that with globalisation as it is, the novelty of discovering the first ever metal band from a country soon dies off when the scene reaches the echelons that the Brazilian Metal scene has done.
However bands like Leatherjacks are ensuring that the vibe doesn't die and that rock / metal carries on thriving. GMA spoke to vocalist / guitarist Mauro Cordeiro about the band's history, their debut album, challenges of being a Brazilian metal musician and what sights / attractions should metalheads check out in São Paulo.
"I keep on persisting and fighting for what I believe, ´cause THIS is Rock ´N´ Roll!"
What was the inspiration behind the band, what does the band name mean? Why Modern Hard Rock / Metal?
"Hey Rhys, hello everyone at the Global Metal Apocalypse and all of our readers! Nice to meet you all! Well, the inspiration behind the band name, came from lots of names I was trying to experiment during my name elections, you know? At first it was something with Hawks. Then something with Leather... LeatherHawks, Hawkstones, LeatherBones, woof... lots of names ha-ha!
Finally I reached LeatherJacks. It´s the abbreviation for Leather Jackets. It came from the most obvious and simple idea. It was right in front of me ahah! I always used a brown leather jacket. All of a sudden, the little cartoon light popped out in my mind, and it came on. Step by step, I got the idea for the Jacker Army, the Go Jackers scream, hashtag, slogan and stuff.
Modern Hard Rock / Metal, is a term that I use when I define my project. I mean... It´s Hard Rock and Metal. But it sounds modern. So I always entitle LeatherJacks as a Modern Hard Rock / Metal band / project. Dunno if it´s right or not. But it´s cool, isn't it? haah!"
You released your debut album "The Lost Arks Of Rock And Roll" last year, what was the reception like? Was there any attention from outside of Brazil?
"Absolutely, Rhys! It´s been amazing! The album is having a bigger reception outside then inside Brazil, unfortunately. Here, people are not listening so much to Rock or Metal. And those who do, only search for little cover bands, and don't open themselves up to NEW bands you know? But everything is going very well outside Brazil, and people are receiving so much well. I feel very thankful and honoured for it, and it´s extremely gratifying to have this amazing repercussion."
What are the challenges of being a metal musician in Sao Paolo let alone Brazil? Are the authorities supportive of metal music?
"It´s tough... It´s really tough. Because as I said previously, the genre is kinda "dead" here in Brazil, ´cause people don't care about original bands, and the crowd don't search for new stuff. Of course there are people who do like new things and stuff, but... It´s really really rare and difficult. The authorities respect metal and rock music, but they always say it´s not a Brazilian thing and stuff, so... It´s not a priority genre here, you know? But... I keep on persisting and fighting for what I believe, ´cause THIS is Rock ´N´ Roll!"
Are there any areas in São Paulo you would suggest for metalheads to visit; what sights and attractions are there?
"Here In São Paulo, we have great places to visit to listen to a great Rock music. I love these pubs: Manifesto Bar and Stones Rock Bar. Both are really amazing places, great bands, great drinks, and amazing girls (the best part haha!). I also like to go sometimes to Augusta Street, ´cause sometimes there are some cool spins to do. But... Only to drink some stuff. If you guys love IPA or another hand-crafted beers... I totally recommend a place called Cervejatorium. Simply AMAZING!"
What are some phrases metalheads should be shouting at a Brazilian Metal concert? Any phrases you could teach us?
"Yeah! Lea ther jacks! Lea ther jacks! Go Jackeeeeers! Oleeee ole ole ole, Leather, Leather - Kiddin´ hahahah! But I always scream things like: AAAAEEEEEEEEEEEE PORRAAAAA / CARAAAAAALHOOOO (it´s like: OOOOOOOOHHH FUCK! but it´s dirty words haha)"
What do your parents think of your music? Are any of your relatives musicians?
"Yeah! My mom doesn´t play piano any-more, but when she was younger, she was an amazing classical piano student. My grandpa never played any instruments, but he loved jazz and drums. And me too! Then my mom´s cousin (I call him "uncle") - He is responsible for teaching me acoustic guitar, MPB, Bossa Nova and stuff. I was 10 years in 1996, and I never stopped! Here I am now haha!"
What plans do you have for 2018?
"I´m searching for musicians to make a definitive line-up and I think I will write more songs, and release a new album, but nothing 100% sure. Only some thoughts, ´cause I need to tour and to promote the first album. But any news, you will be the first ones to know, for sure!"
Finally are there any greetings you wish to send out?
"I´m really thankful to you Rhys and everyone for the interview! It´s an honour, ´cause I like Global Metal Apocalypse a lot! I thank all of your readers too, and I really hope you guys headbang with LeatherJacks! Let´s F***ING ROCK!"