"The closest thing to sexism I’ve experienced in music has been having venues put Ironvolt on bills with exclusively other female-fronted bands"
England has a sensational metal scene as a whole and yet if you microscopically looked at each city or region, there are even more metal bands than you can see at first. One such band is Bristolian quintet Ironvolt whose own brand of Groove Metal has caught some considerable attention in the underground, with a band name sounding much like the metallic, groovier version of AC/DC, they are sure to go full throttle after the COVID-19 pandemic is over.
Vocalist Minka Miles and lead guitarist / backing vocalist Aaron Miles faced our interrogation, we wer kind with them... the electricity was spared in this instance, but they had the burden of being weighed down by ten tonne lead.
For those who have not heard of Ironvolt, could you give us a brief history of the band? What does the band name mean?
"Ironvolt is literally just iron and volt put together. If I remember right, Aaron and I just made it up because it would have been funny to have two super macho metal-esque words smashed together to name a band that is really not at all super macho or particularly metal. As for a brief history, the band started with just me and Aaron, then Lewis joined, then we went through a succession of drummers and bass players right up until we got the magic blend we have today."
"Well, the actual concept for the band goes back to about 2015, where Minka and I formed the idea and name in the far corner of a Wetherspoons pub. Honestly, the name means very little... if anything it just aimed for a feel of the genre we first went for. Electrifying, exciting and solid in rhythm - we first had major influence from bands like Motley Crue, AC/DC, Black Stone Cherry etc. Of course the genre has since grown, quite substantially, but the name stuck somehow!"
You recently released your album 'Grimm', what was the reception like? Have you had anyone listen to your music from outside of the UK?
"The reception was really good. I think everyone who has given us feedback has been really positive and have a few favourite songs. If anything, only our parents have said anything negative, which is arguably the most metal thing which has ever happened in this band. According to Spotify and all that we have quite a lot of international fans! Places including America, Germany, Spain, Italy, and a fair few others have listeners, which is amazing!"
"People loved it and I love that people loved it! It's awesome to hear that the fan favourites are songs where we collaborated the most. The singles are getting a lot of attention outside of the UK which is always a pleasure to think about - which far corners of the world is our music baby reaching?"
What has Ironvolt been doing during the lockdown; any hobbies or interests? What plans do you have towards late 2020 / early 2021?
"I’ve been writing a novel and sculpting, and also working on other music projects. I think we’re all really keen to get back to playing shows as soon as we’re able to. We might even have new songs to add to our set by then."
"I've been playing more games than I know what to do with and practising almost every day! I'm a key worker so I still find myself up at 4:30 am... and just thinking about that makes me tired. I get home just after lunch time and get a good chunk of practice in before I relax like everyone else in lockdown!"
How would you describe your sound without the use of genre tagging, given you play Groove Metal; such a broad genre?
"I would just describe us as having heavy instrumentation with soul / pop vocals. I don’t think there’s any one genre we can ever honestly say we are. I feel like we just sound like rock / metal covers of pop songs which people can dance and occasionally headbang to, and honestly I’m happy with that."
"I guess it's kind-of unusual that the words Groove and Metal are how we would describe our sound, seeing as the genre tag of Groove Metal doesn't really apply to us when you consider bands like Pantera as your kind-of flagship of the genre - but our sound is groovy and, fundamentally, Metal as f**k."
Minka, do you feel that sexism and misogyny still exists in metal? Have you yourself received any remarks? If so how did / would you respond?
"I think it exists everywhere, although thankfully I haven’t actually experienced it within music myself. I would say the closest thing to sexism I’ve experienced in music has been having venues put Ironvolt on bills with exclusively other female-fronted bands, despite having no similarity besides that. We’ve played with completely different genres because of this and it’s very jarring. Thankfully, it hasn’t happened in a while and we usually get booked to play with similar-sounding bands now, but it used to really annoy me and the rest of the band."
Tell us more about the Bristolian Metal scene, is it stronger than it has been? What challenges do bands face?
"It seems to be extremely tight-knit, everyone knows each other. It’s pretty nice and I think there’s more support within that scene than there is with a lot of others. The Bristol metal scene also welcomed us really openly, despite our sound not being conventionally metal."
"Honestly there are so many good bands coming out of Bristol. There's a lot of unsung talent, sadly with either no means to get places or just haven't been noticed by the right people yet. That's why there's so much love for Metal 2 The Masses in Bristol. The community gets together and welcomes all these faces, some older 'veterans' of the Bristol scene who you just know you're going to enjoy, and some brand new faces with just as much kick-ass as the vets."
For metalheads visiting Bristol what sights / attractions and bars / venues could you recommend?
"For pubs there’s The Gryphon, The Mother’s Ruin and The Crown, I’ve spent a lot of time in all of those. As for venues it’s gotta be The Fleece, The Louisiana, and The Exchange."
"The Crown in St. Nick's market is a great place for all kinds of Metalheads, plus its club venue The Trap, as there's a great range of faces that regularly visit. The Gryphon is a landmark and it regularly tops the local pubs chart. The Hatchet is a super popular venue which hosts all sorts, and there's countless local venues that do regular "fresh talent" shows. The Fleece on St Thomas Street, The Thunderbolt on Bath Road and The Louisiana on Wapping Road are some that we've frequented and always had a great reception. If you just want a great night, though, check out the Fleece's monthly Metal club nights."
Do you have any thanks or greetings you wish to send to friends, family or fans?
"Anyone who is listening to our music at the moment, thank you so much – and to everyone who has come to a show before. And of course, to everyone who is going to come to our shows in the future. Thank you, you’re lush."
"Keep it real homeslices"
Malicious Inc. are set to set the British Metal scene ablaze with their finely balanced sound of Groovy Nu Metal as shown on their debut EP 'Red Flag'; which was released through the Italian label Sliptrick Records. Morgan Weeds the band's lead guitarist filled in GMA with the details of their new release, what the Bristolian Metal scene is like and what metalheads can do down their, how they got in touch with Sliptrick Records and why in the space of 1 year 5 months they've managed to unleash a debut single and follow-up EP.
During the interrogation Morgan referred to Korn, Disturbed, Nu Metal, Bristol, Korn, and some more Nu Metal, Groove Metal and somehow... Bristol. Suffice to say he finished happy as Larry.
For those who have not heard of Malicious Inc. could you give us a brief history of the band? What does the band name mean?
"The band was formed in January 2019 by vocalist Kyle Mortiss and myself. I heard him release some solo stuff under the name ‘Of The Wolf’ and has got a very Randy Blythe (Lamb Of God) feel to it and was looking to start a band of that sort of style. We put auditions out, which brought drummer Luke Hill on board. Kyle brought in former band mate Christian Elvins on rhythm guitars and friend Chris Watkins on bass and we began writing. Since then, Chris and Christian have left the band and Luke brought friends Kyle Zehtabi and Matthew Hulin into the band and we’ve been working away ever since. The band name comes from the legacy of vocalist Kyle Mortiss’ previous band “Malicious Intent” combined with the fact that we are a new incarnation with new music, new members, new feel etc and we mean business."
You recently released your latest EP 'Red Flag' via Sliptrick Records, what was the reception like and did you have anyone outside of the UK buy it?
"The reception seemed really positive to be fair. We weren’t sure what to expect from people as it was our first release but people are digging it, the industry seems to love it for the most part from the reviews and interaction we’ve had. We’ve had people all over the world listening via streaming services, downloading and / or buying physical copies which is an incredible feeling for us. To see our music hit everywhere from home turf in the UK, to America, Europe, South Africa and many more is an amazing feeling."
Talk us through the process of creating the EP - how long did it take to curate? Master? Mix? etc.
"The EP didn’t actually take that long to create. We hit the ground running as soon as the band was fully formed. We went from forming in January 19, to writing a stand alone single and the 5 tracks for ‘Red Flag’ and then recording it and producing it by the end of April the same year."
What was it like signing with Italian label Sliptrick Records? How did you approach them or did they approach you? Talk us through the partnership?
"We approached them. We were sent some contact details for Carlo who runs the label. After vocalist Kyle Mortiss made the initial contact, he handed proceedings over to me (Morgan Weeds - Lead Guitarist / Manager) to begin negotiations. They offered us a deal based off the final mixes as at the time we approached them it hadn’t been mastered by Martin Nichols yet. We finalised everything, signed in July, announced it in August and had the stand alone single and music video for ‘Bone & Mortar’ out by the end of September."
Given the UK is in lockdown, what plans did you have cancelled / postponed? What plans will you have late 2020 / early 2021?
"We were supposed to hit the studio this April just passed to begin the recording process for the songs we’d selected to be the singles out of the tracks we’ve created for our debut album, but due to the situation that has been put on hold until we know what’s happening regarding the pandemic and lockdown. The guys at Sliptrick Records are working on and have nearly completed a lyric video for our track ‘Wintered Trees’ so we’ll be putting that out as and when, dates to be confirmed, but basically we’re gonna be hitting the studio and planning on hitting the road around a release schedule for these singles. Sadly as everything is so up in the air we have no idea about when and how these things will come to pass yet though. Watch this space I guess."
How would you describe your sound without the use of genre tagging?
"It’s just brutal, honest, hard hitting heavy music. Deep lyrical content and emotive emotive execution."
For metalheads visiting Bristol, what sights / attractions and bars / venues could you recommend?
"A lot of venues are close to shutting down right now which is a sad and scary thought, but The Fleece, The Exchange and The Louisiana are great venues that have wicked bands on all the time. The Crown is a kind of Metal / Biker pub with a venue underneath called The Trap. There are club nights of varying genres over at the Fleece and The Lanes. Rough Trade is a record shop opposite The Lanes that also has a stage. We played there back in February and it was a wicked show. We’ve got an O2 Academy.
There’s a fair bit to do if you’re fresh to the area, but with the current economical climate a lot of venues are struggling and a lot of the competing club nights all claiming to be “Bristols Best” can become much of a muchness, same as anything really. People dig it though which is the main thing. There’s always a crowd at these places which keeps the local scene alive which is important now more than ever, especially when things start to normalise. The independent venues will need that ongoing support."
Do you have any thanks or greetings you wish to send to friends, family or fans?
"Thanks to everyone who is continually supporting us and everyone that has helped us get to where we are. We appreciate all the support from our friends, families and fans and we hope everyone is staying well and safe during this time.
Thanks for taking the time to speak to us."
"2021 is our 40th year anniversary we are booked for UK festivals and to return Europe to play in Belgium, Spain, France, Germany and The Netherlands."
Too often are bands of yesteryear forgotten about or fall by the wayside, but in counteracting that there are times where bands are effectively pulled out of hibernation, such is the case for NWOBHM quartet Troyen who received the harking call to reform and drum out material to quench the thirst of their fans. Now armed with newfound rigour, the Cheshire natives are due to release a new album, hopefully play some UK and European shows next year to mark 40 years of the band and prove that it doesn't matter about your age, as long as your heart is in the music, endless things are possible as drummer Jeff Baddley told GMA during his interrogation.
Troyen has humble beginnings in that you started back in the 1980's, but the band was untenable, so surely it must have been a godsend to reunite?
"Unbeknown to us there was quite a cult Troyen fan base, especially in Scandinavia and the USA, and the guys who run the Brofest festivals in Newcastle had been approached by fans asking if they could get us back together to appear at Brofest#3 in February 2015. It was a bizarre feeling for me to get a message via Facebook messenger asking firstly if I was the Jeff Baddley who used to be in Troyen, and, if so, could I get the band back together again? Initially we reformed just for one gig but once it entered the public domain other gigs and festivals approached us so there was no going back. Following the response we decided to release an album consisting of our four original demo tracks and four new tracks."
Given you've seen the British Metal scene grow up as it were, what advice can you offer to the next wave of bands?
"The only advice I can give is work hard. The music scene is a different animal now in this digital age and all the platforms available need to be embraced, back in the 80's the only way fans could get to see you was by playing live. In many ways you have to work smarter now to keep your profile in the public domain."
In some respect you're role models in that age doesn't mean a think when it comes to playing music, would you agree?
"There is always a place for role models and having people to aspire to but ultimately there is no substitute for being your own person, after all we are all unique."
Given the current global pandemic grappling the world, do you feel that music has become ever more important and that a world without it, is a boring place?
"Absolutely, music means many things to many people. We all turn to music when we are happy, sad or all the places in between. The global pandemic would be much harder to endure without music to immerse yourselves in."
Outside of music what hobbies and interests do you have? How have you all been coping during the lockdown?
"Music is our main focus and it’s been difficult during lockdown especially for me as I don’t have the space at home to set up my drum kit and unleash my frustrations. We have all spent time doing all the jobs we had been putting off around the house and some that didn’t. We’ve been in constant contact with each other as we are collaboratively writing new material for our new album., whilst also spending time keeping our social media pages updated."
What do your families think of your music, are any of them musicians also?
"None of our family members are musicians although they are very supportive of what we do even though NWOBHM may not be their thing."
What next for Troyen? Are you drafting up late-2020, early 2021 plans?
"We have pretty much written off 2020 for live music, but we’ll have to see how that unfolds. We are writing a new album initially for release in November 2020 but that may be pushed back to early 2021 pandemic and social distancing allowing. 2021 is our 40th year anniversary we are booked for UK festivals and to return Europe to play in Belgium, Spain, France, Germany and The Netherlands."
Do you have any thanks or greetings you wish to send out to friends, family, fans etc?
"We’d like to thank all our fans, friends and families for their continued support. Without you we’d be nothing. We will just continue to ride the wave and play for as long as people want to hear us after all you don’t stop playing music because you get old, you get old because you stop playing music. Stay safe."
"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."