"It's better for us to stay underground, it might turn really hostile if we went big in our home town"
It goes without saying that alongside Crescent, Scarab are spearheading the Egyptian Metal scene on the international front, although they are definitely humble in their origins and yet pushing harder than ever to reach new heights. Having released their 4th album "Martyrs Of The Storm" back in March via ViciSolum Productions, it was only fair for GMA to interrogate their frontman Sammy Sayed about the band's humble origins, the challenges bands in Egypt face, the lack of a fully functional scene i.e. barely any venues, media or market as such, why the album being released on vinyl was a dream come true and something about a word made up by guitarist Al Sharif Marzeban - that word? 'Verminejya'.
What was the reception like for "Martyrs Of The Storm"? What was the feedback like in Egypt; was there any resistance?
"I think it's very contradictory because somehow people related to it as it was something a little bit different to what we are doing; songs are heavier, shorter and more complex. So some people didn't really feel it, maybe it takes a while for it grow on them, and on the other hand we have also been showered with an intense positive feedback. But I believe that it is mainly controversial and that's a good thing; it got people to think and that's a good thing, perhaps it's not just music the you can listen to it and enjoy it, you have to dig deeper into it I believe.
And in regards to any resistance in our home town... Not at all, because anyway this kind of music is underground and I don't believe there will be any kind of market for metal - we try to push for this to happen, but it didn't happen and I don't think it will happen on a major scale. But for the Egyptian Metal scene itself, so far I think people are really digging the album, especially in Egypt because the inspiration comes from here, it comes from what we're going through energetically and it just speaks to them I guess, so they can relate and feel it."
"Martyrs Of The Storm" was released through ViciSolum Productions, will you sign with another label in the future?
"That is not something we have in mind right now, what we have in mind right now is working harder. With the album, we believe that it's not just music any more and the message has to artistically expand in the sense of more material to come in order to support the release, more things that we should say in order to explain what this album may represent or what it may mean for us. I don't know about expanding, so far ViciSolum have been really good to us and that's all what we need and this is something I would leave for the future; basically we are very happy with ViciSolum anyway."
Would you say this is the most ambitious album Scarab has ever done?
"It is to me, not just because of how musically it would sound, but the process itself of creating the album was much different to what we've gone through... we've learned a lot through this album and it's like... we were trying to perfect something and I believe there is nothing like called perfection but it is as perfect as it can get, I believe this is the most sacred work that we have done so far and it's an evolution of anything that we have attempted to do in all ways shapes and forms. "Martyrs Of The Storm" is the purification of Scarab's past."
From "Martyrs Of The Storm" which is your favourite song and why?
"This is a very hard question because we come up with the concept and I interpret the concept later on after the work has been finished, because our way of working (Marz and I) in terms of writing and composing music, it's like channelling or something - so for me when I started to write the lyrics it was also a from of automatic writing. I would unite with the energy of the song and Marz would give me the song titles mainly and I would start to contemplate and follow synchronicities of writing lyrics for the song depending on what it feels like. In the end what I want to say is to choose one song is hard because to us and to me, it feels like the Egyptian tree of life where the leaves are our chapters and every leaf is so important, it's like the human body.
But if you insist on me choosing then I would go with the first song 'Martyrs Of The Storm', because I think it speaks of what the album is going to be about, what the other tracks would be about - like a good introduction."
Can you tell us what the word 'Verminejya' in the song title 'Circles Of Verminejya' means?
"Ha-ha it doesn't mean anything, the title and concept of the song came from Marz and he was like telling me about the 'Circles Of Verminejya', so OK it's not English, it's not any language, it's a made-up-word and so I was like OK so what does it mean? What the f**k does Verminejya mean? He's like 'Verminejya' means danger, it's a magical word, you get the point? It's not something that linguistically means anything but the energy behind it means something. So we started to interpret it and he's like I think it's about Africa, it's about the tradition, the religion and the magic of Africa. We don't like to stick to gimmicks in the sense of trying to act like we are something from 4,000 years ago, so with this song it's like a magical mix between Voodoo in Africa and Ancient Egypt, what it would be like if we mixed both into one thing... that's what Verminejya is, it's a kind of a realm where the magician or priest would hop into a dance ritual for the gods; it's like a magical war. That's what Verminejya is, it's dancing in magical wars furiously, manoeuvring dangerous. It can be taken as a mantra and that's what I think it means for us."
What do your parents think of Scarab's music? Are they very supportive?
"They are very supportive, no one interfered; I'm lucky, there is a lot of freedom when it comes to my family. They never had a problem with the idea of 'what the f**k are you doing, why are you singing like that?' or anything like this. From my father or mother or any member of the family, they always thought of me as this weird kid who was an artist and is crazy, just leave him be."
Do you feel that it's becoming ever more important for bands to reflect their national culture?
"I guess so, but I have to say that I'm not sure if we fell into this idea of acting, the idea of music not being honest would lead it turning into a gimmick. But at the same time I think it's very important for bands to reflect their culture through their music, but it's not an obligation - if you don't feel it, do what you feel. There is one thing that I really hate, how can I explain this, it's not kind of a product where you are going to manufacture and represent, you know this kind of thinking? I hate it because for me, music is very spiritual and if you feel it, do it. If you feel that you have a message to be spoken about, then go ahead and do that, don't think that 'oh because I'm from Egypt, what is it that would make me different from others, I have to stand out' and then sell yourself as a manufactured product... that way of thinking for me, I am really trying not to judge but it's too commercial for me. And it is easy to spot it, simply honest music will always reach the heart."
Over the years you've had a number of line-up changes, were these all amicable or were there discrepencies?
"A little bit of both. We've been together as the same line-up until 2014, so from 2006 until late 2014 / early 2015 we started to have different views, interests, things like this. You know when you have had a relationship for a long time, that's how it is. I think we needed a break and some people just needed to break-up from this thing and I wouldn't say musical differences, it's about losing an interest somehow. The people who left had lost the interest in the essence of what they're doing and lost love towards the entity of Scarab itself, so they left; only Tarek Amr took a break and returned back again.
The only hard thing to do was to replace them, for Scarab it's not business but more of a friendship; we grew up together and have been through a lot, it's friendship before musicianship and so it was really hard to find the right people to replace them; that is the hardest thing we've been through, it was only Al Sharif Marzeban and myself whom were left to serve the band and in terms of writing the music that's fine, but in terms of finding people that can give the right energy, dedication, chemistry, just everything - that's really hard to find until Stephen Moss from the UK (who is a very good friend of ours) helped to record "Martyrs of the Storm" with Al Sharif Marzeban, then he departed.
We're still friends until now, the only reason I think this is not happening between us any more is actually the distance, that's the main problem; but now we're fine, Tarek Amr is back as a guitarist again and we have a new bassist Ahmed Abdel Samad, after another great bassist from the UK helped to record "Martyrs Of The Storm" (Arran McSporran from De Profundis and Virvum) as a recording musician.
It took us from around 2015 until 2020 to find the right people that we could feel right to us, because being a Death Metal band in Egypt is like 'swimming against tides', 'going through the abyss', something like that."
With exception of say Scarab, Crescent and say Mythos, do you feel the Egyptian Metal scene has yet to be fully recognised on the international stage?
"I believe so very much because, speaking from my own point of view when it first started, when I first started in trying to perform, most of the bands were cover bands and very early on you would find some who would make their own music. But right now it's the other way round actually, which is a very positive thing, there are a lot of bands right now writing their own music, playing and recording their own music. Back in 2009 there was this disbelief about the idea that any band that plays metal music would be able to break through internationally anyway, it was not possible at that time because there was no one else that had done it as far as I know.
I don't know if we were kind of lucky but we worked hard and luck served us, and we won 'battle of the bands' in Dubai and therefore played Desert Rock Festival alongside Nervecell (The UAE) who are our long-time friends and on the main stage of With Full Force Festival (DE) 2009 and that was the turning point, because for us it was a dream come true and was unbelievable like what the f**k is going on, it's how it felt like 'what was going on, is this magic?'. At the same time, it was an eye-opener I believe for a lot of great bands in Egypt, because there is not only just Scarab, there are other bands that are really good at what they do... the eye-opener is that 'yeah it can happen.'
I wouldn't say that Scarab is the reason why, maybe we were just mediums for this to happen, it could have been anyone else, it was bound to happen anyway, but Scarab was ready and that is why it happened to us. Also there are two bands who I feel are very successful right now, they are Crescent (Black / Death Metal); back in the days they were playing Black Metal and then they changed their theme into Ancient Egyptian theme and are now their music is being distributed through Listenable Records and have also performed a lot abroad - big festivals...
Also Odious who are a Symphonic Black Metal band from Alexandria, they've also performed abroad and they do tours, and their music is distributed worldwide. This is a good thing and there are a lot of other good bands that are coming up and I think that the more of this happening, the more it will lead the scene to expand at least internationally, not here... maybe I'm pessimistic OK? But I believe that if this kind of music went big and there was a market here, if you could actually tour Egypt and things like that, I think it's going to be negative, I'm really sorry but I think this is what's going to happen for the time being.
It's better for us to stay underground, it might turn really hostile if we went big in our home town I believe so - that's my own opinion."
Given the COVID-19 situation, what are some of the plans that Scarab had that are still intact (if any?).
"Now that everything is cancelled for everyone, so no shows, no tours, nothing, I think what we will be doing is writing new material... but before writing new material we will try to serve the album and maybe do more video material for every track... that's mainly what we are going to be doing and trying to figure out how 2021 would go, and if we're going to be booking shows... I think that's what we will be working on, but mainly since there is a lot of time we will be working on more video material."
For those metalheads visiting Cairo or indeed Egypt as a whole under normal circumstances, aside from the Pyramids, would sights / attractions could you recommend?
"Well man that's the problem, there are no metal bars in Egypt, not as far as I know and metal shows happen every now and then; it depends on the luck or the research the person who listens to metal is going to visit Egypt in the hope of finding metal stuff, I don't think that's possible unless there's a show. There is Metal Blast Festival, I believe that's a great festival in Egypt because they host international acts like Swallow The Sun, I don't remember what else but they bring decent international acts and make local Egyptian bands open for them. So this is a very positive thing and I hope there is more of this. There are no venues, there is only El Sawy Culture Wheel, in Zamalek, Cairo and there is also, it depends but there is also the Cairo Jazz Club in Agouza, Giza which you can play at as a metal band.
I would recommend anyone to visit south Sinai to see Saint Catherine's Monastery as well as the beach on the red sea, and also would recommend them to go on to the complete otherwise in Siwa - there is a lot of magic there. I believe these are the the two places that really speak of the essence of Egypt."
Given the resurgence of vinyl, what are your thoughts on Scarab's music being pressed on LP?
"I'm very happy for it because for me I've always had this as a dream to have Scarab's music on vinyl or record, however cheesy that may sound, but it is to me, the band, Al Sharif Marzeban - Marz was like I wish "Martyrs Of The Storm" would go on vinyl. We didn't ask for it, actually what happened was that Thomas from ViciSolum, as soon as I sent him the final master he was like 'this has to go on vinyl' and then that's when I started to think, I wanted to make the vinyl a bit different than the CD and also the digital version.
The CD is like a seamless kind of run, it feels like if you are listening to one song; all the tracks enter each other, but with the vinyl it's 5 songs on Side A and the other 5 on Side B - the energy of the first 5 songs on Side A is lighter before it gets darker on Side B with the last 5 songs. Like Side A is rage and anger, Side B is evil. Metaphorically speaking Side A would be the sun, Side B would be the moon. Side B has more of this Black Metal touch to it hidden inside somewhere."
Do you have any greetings or thanks you wish to send out to friends, family, fans etc?
"Yeah of course I want to thank everyone who supported us throughout the years, and all the musicians that have their energy in some way or shape in the album, the guitarists that Marz invited - Karl Sanders, Joe Haley to name a few, and basically everyone that had their hands into this collaboration. All of our fans, their patience, believing in us, Thomas from ViciSolum for believing in us and being patient for 5 years for us to actually put this together during this hindrance and hardships that we were going through in finding the right members. I wish everyone will stay safe through this process of transition in 2020, wish them peace, growth and wisdom".
"isolation isn’t that bad when you’re a nerd and play video games a lot (you’re already kind of used to that lifestyle anyway)."
It's never easy standing out from the crowd when you play a genre that's arguably oversaturated, but there is always a way to make your music slightly more noticeable than others. Just ask Spanish Progressive Metalcore horde Flat Earth Society who seem to have found their rhythm and beat in 'la vida loca' that is the music industry. Having unleashed their debut album "Friends Are Temporary, Ego Is Forever" via Art Gates Records, it comes as no surprise that the quartet are licking their lips at what late 2020 and early 2021 could be winging their way. Given this achivement it was only fair for GMA to interrogatel the Madrileños and find out how they formed as a band, what metalheads can do in Madrid, what makes up their sound and what emotions were like signing to legendary Spanish label Art Gates Records.
Could you give us a brief history of Flat Earth Society, who came up with the band name and were you in bands previously?
"We came together from different bands actually. Alex and Carlos were part of a band that was kind of dying and we already had some decent songs built up back then (which are part of the album) and we wanted to see them fruition.
Drummers in Madrid (or in general) are very lackluster, so Alex receives lots of offers (besides him being really good at the instrument). He eventually auditioned for A Blackened Sight, which Jesús and Daniel were part of. After signing in with them, he noticed Daniel’s vocal prowess and told him about our idea. Daniel liked the project and joined in. Jesús eventually teamed up as well with us, playing bass instead of guitar (his regular instrument). Later on we found Guillem and he proved to be the perfect fifth for our band and signed him up right away.
The name came quite randomly. We were brainstorming ideas and the situation degenerated quickly, proposing dumber names each time. We chose the name Flat Earth Society because we thought it would be funny to parody that way of thinking while our lyrics treat scientific topics (Disarray, The Gravity Paradox, The Cataract). Later on we decided to just write whatever lyrics we wanted (Danko, Daniel’s dog, Ligma, a meme disease from Twitch etc…)."
You recorded your debut album 'Friends Are Temporary, Ego Is Forever' last year, talk us through the creation process and the album title meaning?
"Usually each one of us writes music on its own and then we put it in common. Then we decide which ideas we like and learn them to rehearse them. Then we start playing them over and over while introducing arrangements along the way until we like the final result. Then we took what we had to studio with Alex Cappa and Pablo Rousselon.
We originally wanted to release a 5-song EP after recording these tracks, but after signing in with Art Gates Records we decided to take their advice and put out a full LP, so we went back to studio and recorded Legfist, CC Chain and Tortuga. We feel the meaning of the title speaks for itself, although there are open interpretations about it. We’d rather people try to figure it out on their own."
How would you describe your sound without the use of genres? What / who are your influences in and outside metal?
"Our sound is pretty experimental, we think that in a way some of our instrumentals are pretty ambiental, most of our songs are harmonious and pretty melody based, the rough part comes mostly with the vocals and the drums in certain parts. we classify our music as emotionally aggressive.
The most notorious influences reflected in this album may come from August Burns Red, Erra, Veil of Maya, Born of Osiris, Tesseract and maybe Periphery and The Dillinger Escape Plan. Outside Metal we have various influences, such as Salsa music, Flamenco, mostly hispanic music."
What was it like for you signing with such a prestigious label in Art Gates Records? Who initiated the contact first?
"We already had contact with them due to a friend who collaborated in the past with Noctem and AGR, so he recommended us. We showed them part of our music and the general idea around the project and the album. They liked it and we moved forward with it. Everything was going smooth until the recent crisis. Working with them has been an enormous learning experience regarding how things are done the right way for a band who wants to reach far away places. Now we have to wait until things get better and see how we can resume our course."
As Spain is amidst a lock down due to COVID-19, what have you been doing at home; both in and outside of music?
"We’re doing relatively fine considering the lockdown we’re suffering in Spain right now. However isolation isn’t that bad when you’re a nerd and play video games a lot (you’re already kind of used to that lifestyle anyway). Stay home folks, don’t risk your health or other people’s"
For metalheads visiting your home town / city (where?) what sights / attractions could you recommend (under normal circumstances)?
"You gotta check Madrid’s down-town, lot of museums, lot of great architecture and if you are a fan, you gotta check Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid’s stadiums. If you ever come here under normal circumstances, be sure to also check the local food."
What plans do you have for the foreseeable future (COVID-19) depending and what has already been cancelled?
"Most of what we had already talked through has been cancelled as for anyone else in the industry. We will try to take the album to the stages in and out of Spain as soon as it is logistically possible."
"There's stuff happening (on band releases), and hopefully 2020 will end up being a golden year for Faroese metal."
Having released their 2nd EP 'Ódn' last year to widespread acclaim, the Faroese Melodic Doom / Death Metallers Hamferð are eternally grateful for the achievements they have made during the past 12 years. Sadly however 2020 marked a tricky time for the band as guitarist John Egholm left the band, that but also the global pandemic the whole world is grappling with in COVID-19; putting a halt to the vast majority of the bands plans. We speak to guitarist Theodor Kapnas about the reception their latest EP attracted, the challenges Faroese Metal bands face, the inspiration behind their on-stage attire and the COVID-19 situation on the Faroe Islands.
You released your 2nd EP 'Ódn' last year, what was the reception like and will there be a new album in 2021?
"The EP has been very well received. It does feel different from our other records though. One of the songs is a live recording of "Deyðir varðar" from 2015 which we did during the total solar eclipse, and the second one is a live recording from our release show in 2018 of our oldest song, "Ódn", which we've performed live extensively but have never released until now. So even if we released it as a new EP it's technically older material. People seem to have enjoyed it, and we're really happy to have the tracks out there.
We are working on new material and have quite a bit written, but it's too early to promise any release dates. I do hope that it'll be in 2021 though."
You may well have been asked this many times, could you tell us about the idea behind your stage attire (being suits) - who came up with it, etc?
"The stage suits are part of the original idea behind Hamferð. John founded the band because he was inspired to create Doom Metal in Faroese, and one of the main ideas was that our live show should be inspired by the atmosphere of a funeral. Traditional funeral wear in The Faroe Islands is either traditional Faroese clothes or a black suit, white shirt and black tie to a funeral. So the suit idea came quite naturally. It's something we feel works well for our shows, so we've stuck with it and probably will keep on doing so for the foreseeable future."
For those who cannot speak a word of Faroese, can you offer some tips in how to sing along to your music?
"That's a tricky one. I guess you can just learn the songs phonetically. We've all sung along to songs while having absolutely no idea what the lyrics were about. One way would also be to make your own version of misheard lyrics of the songs. And if someone does that please let us know, we'd love to see them!"
Are the Faroe Islands in lock down? If so what have you been doing at home both musically and in other hobbies?
"First and foremost, The Faroe Islands isn't in lockdown. Large gatherings are banned and social distancing rules are applied, but shops are open and a lot of people are still going to work. But it does of course leave you with more alone time than usual. This has given me time to be able to finish a few musical projects which have been laying around for too long, which now lets me focus fully on continuing with writing the next Hamferð record. I was supposed to do quite a bit of touring as sound engineer during the spring, but that has obviously been cancelled. The rest of the guys live in different places and have been affected in different ways, but this situation affects all of us.
When it comes to hobbies I've done the usual, I love being outdoors and now I suddenly have time for a lot of hiking, fishing, diving etc... The main difference is that people are now trying to avoid seeing other people and are therefore heading out of the towns. So hikers have appeared absolutely everywhere."
Would you say the Faroese Metal scene is growing stronger each year or has it been a rocky journey?
"The Faroe Islands is a very small place, so the metal scene moves in waves. A few years ago we had a lot of active metal bands, but as our generation has been getting older more and more guys have stopped playing that has obviously affected things. I don't think kids feel that it's as cool to be in a band as we did when we were teenagers, so there have been fewer new bands popping up.
Having said that, we still have some really good bands in The Faroes, and 2020 is looking like a very strong release year for Faroese metal. I can recommend checking out the band Ótti, which features two Hamferð members. They just released their debut album, definitely worth a listen. Impartial and Asyllex have also released new stuff, and I know that Goresquad and Iron Lungs are releasing new stuff this year. So there's stuff happening, and hopefully 2020 will end up being a golden year for Faroese metal.
What (in your opinion) are the biggest challenges facing the new crop of metal bands coming up the ranks in the Faroes?
"The challenges are the same as they have always been. The audience in The Faroes is limited, and it's harder than ever to find a rehearsal space which is a challenge for a lot of bands. However, the work that Upp Við Hornunum has done with local events and the Wacken Metal Battle competition has really helped. Bands have been given an incentive to perform live, and it has never been easier to get in contact with people from the international metal industry."
What plans for the year ahead do you have (COVID-19 depending); did you have before this pandemic?
"We have a few shows coming up later this year, if that will be allowed by that time. But apart from that this year is set aside to write a new record. We can hopefully start recording that later this year or early next year. So that's where most of our focus lies at the moment."
Do you have any greetings or thanks you wish to send out? Any final words?
"Stay safe out there everyone, wash your hands and we'll hopefully see all of you when this virus situation is over..."
"The best part is when the sun drops and it turns to night - down-town L.A. completely changes and so do the people haha... "
Swapping the back streets of London / Essex for the sun-soaked pavements of Los Angeles should be an easy task surely? Well for Joe Crudgington it's worked out alright, although for the time being he's back in London. Being the frontman of Industrial Rock / Metal outfit Drownd brings it's own challenges as he goes on to explain during our interview with him, but things on the other hand are sweet too - a label signing, an album release later this year and a full live show to come... Joe talks to us about this rollercoaster ride and why metal is close to his heart.
Hi guys so firstly how does it feel signing to Armalyte Records?
"Hi Rhys! Yeah man, it was a great thing to sign up to Armalyte at the start of last year. It's nice just for a bit of recognition that people are into your stuff and it's not just yourself grinding away thinking that you're writing good stuff. The guys that run it are great too - massive music fans that have been in the scene for ages so they know what they're talking about, plus their roster includes some pretty impressive artists (PIG, Cubanate, Chemlab, plus loads of others), so it's quite an honour to have my name, DROWND on there with them. They're just a really nice label to deal with and genuinely care about the quality and content of the finished product - the way to be as far as I'm concerned."
Given the nature of the band in terms of the line-up, you must be excited to finally showcase your music live at the end of the year?
"Ah for sure - DROWND did it's debut show on the 10th December 2019 at The Black Heart in Camden with Riotmiloo supporting. It managed to pull a decent crowd for a first show, as really, no one had any idea what to expect - people had basically just put a load of faith in me and hope haha... It could in theory have been a total s**t show, but alas, as a debut, I think it went really well - sounded great thanks to all the hard work programming the live set, rehearsing it up and visually I think it came across pretty well. Definitely plenty of room for improvement, but a good first show to get under the DROWND belt. There will be big changes to visuals, stage attire and line up changes in the future too, so plenty of exciting stuff for the DROWND live shows if this pandemic bulls**t ever leaves us to crack on and pick up the pieces."
Given you're into Marilyn Manson, NIN and Gary Numan, etc were they artists/bands you grew up listening to, or was your music landscape totally different?
"I've always been into heavy music since I was a kid - I mean I think I speak for a lot of people my age when I say that I was massively into the music that was on the soundtracks of games like Tony Hawks Pro Skater, Matt Hoffman's BMX, Dave Mirra's BMX etc... These tracks were like a gateway into Manson and NIN - I mean when I first listened to NIN and what Reznor was doing, it blew my f**king mind man - I'd never heard anything like it - the songwriting, the sound design, the production and engineering of the records, etc - just something else entirely.
I still listen to these artists literally everyday, alongside a lot of soundtrack / score work (the American Beauty score has been being played heavily recently) and also since I found out about him a while back, I've been well into an artist called Ghostemane - I love his heavy, evolving, genre spanning music and he's got the images and visuals as well as a savage live show to back it all up. Skynd are another one - again, great sounding original, well produced music but with concepts, visuals and a live show to back it all up - the full package."
Last year you moved to California, what was the transition like from living in the grey streets of London to the sun-soaked boulevards of Los Angeles?
"Whoa L.A. is a crazy ass place - that's for sure. It's worlds apart from other cities like London I think - people seem somewhat more inclined to help and collaborate out there. I mean I've been fortunate to meet some great and talented people in my time there and would consider to be good friends too. The weather out there helps massively, I mean, where I was, you'd get up in the morning, virtually guaranteed sunshine and crazy high temperatures, have a swim, have some breakfast and then crack on with writing music.
The alternative music scene seems a lot bigger out there too with plenty of different gigs going on all over. It's quite an inspiring place to be too - I mean, I love down-town L.A. - a lot of people hate it, but it's so f**king weird and scary in certain areas that you can't help but be inspired. The best part is when the sun drops and it turns to night - down-town L.A. completely changes and so do the people haha... At the moment I'm back here in London which seems like an absolute world away from L.A. what with the current pandemic sticking its teeth in nicely, but fingers crossed this s**t will be over soon and I'll be back out there asap."
Do you feel that in recent years the Industrial - Goth blend has had a resurgence of sorts? Or has it been chugging along nicely?
"Hmm I'm not really sure - I think it's always been there and always will to a degree. I think every now and then an artist or two will make it big from kinda within that scene, but as far as my experience goes, the goth / industrial stuff has always seemed pretty insular - just my opinion. That said, the fans and people involved in the goth scene are HUGE supporters which is great and they are genuinely interested and care about the music that you put out."
Joe, you undertook red carpet duties at both The Heavy Music Awards and Metal Hammer Golden God awards - talk us through your emotions that night.
"Haha yeah that was great for sure - it was bizarre. I mean, we would be knocking about backstage and then Ozzy Osbourne would just casually walk past... It was also the first time I met Skynd too who were there and involved with the event which was great."
Given the state of the world as it is with COVID-19, do you feel it's more important than ever for musicians and fans to engage together in any way they can?
"It's a weird time to be in at the moment, isn't it? So much uncertainty. That's what is doing me in, the fact that I can't plan anything - we've already had one DROWND show pulled thanks to COVID-19 which was supposed to be at the Lounge in Camden which will be rescheduled at some point. The other band I play in, Sulpher, has had loads of dates cancelled and re-arranged which sucks - we literally played 2 shows in Toronto JUST before everything got shut down - we only just managed to get flights back to London haha! If I'm honest, I'm highly doubtful we're gonna be doing any live shows for the rest of 2020, I mean, I've basically resigned myself to it all kicking off again in 2021, but fingers crossed I'm totally wrong and we can get back to live shows and some sort of normality. But in the midst of this lockdown I have been writing like nothing on earth and it's the best sounding stuff I've written to date in my opinion, plus I've got tonnes of ideas for videos, images etc which we are currently filming and putting together as part of a real special release. Watch this space.
What are your plans for the forthcoming year? Do you have any greetings you wish to send out to friends, fans, etc?
"I think I kinda rattled on a bit with the last question and semi-answered this one. But yeah, my plans are basically finish what I'm working on (which I'm very excited about) and see what people think of it. Then I'd like to see where we stand with live shows and get some worthwhile gigs booked up. There's also some exciting Sulpher dates lined up too with a few festival slots and a couple O2 shows and maybe some small tours later in the year, but it's all a bit hush hush for now and just waiting to see where we stand with this current pandemic. Time will tell.
Thanks for your time mate, Joe."