"The biggest challenge was / is venues, especially in terms of putting on a quality show with lights, staging and adequate space etc. We have to source everything."
Africa is often considered as 'the last frontier' for metal and to be fair, it would seem that way. Even though there are a lot of countries on the continent who have had rock music stretching back into the 1970's, ultimately something pulled the plug on Zimbabwe's rock past... we'll leave you to ponder what that was. But now metal has arisen to revive the angst felt by the natives, too often is it that metal arises from negative events, be it war, poverty, corruption, hatred, you name it, it's on the back of the t-shirt as shamed tour dates. Stepping into the breach is Dividing The Element, arguably founders of the Zimbabwean Metal scene; following in their footsteps is the one-man project Nuclear Winter.
We spoke to lead vocalist / guitarist Chris Van about the band's origins, their new single 'Pakaipa' (it's in the Shona language) and why being a DIY band in a scene that's being built by yourself is probably the most metal thing to ever happen to this country... hats off to them, they make the scene work.
For those who have not heard of Dividing The Element, could you give us a brief history of the band?
"We are a metal band from Harare, Zimbabwe who sings and screams in Shona. The band was founded in 2012 by Sherlic White and myself. After a few line up changes the band settled on Archie Chikoti (Guitar), Nick Newbery (Drums), Mat Sanderson (Bass) and myself (Lead Vocals and Guitar)."
You've just released your new single 'Pakaipa', could you explain what it means and will this be included in an upcoming EP or album?
"'Pakaipa' is in Shona and literally means "It's bad". The theme of the song is about both being underestimated and misunderstood by society. No decision has been made yet as to whether it will be included in an upcoming EP or album. As the primary composer for the band, I don't want to have that kind of pressure on myself at this early stage of writing. Maybe there'll be an EP, maybe there'll be an album, maybe there'll be a bunch of singles. I'd like to see what comes out as it comes out this time."
The band has come a long way, but what about the Zimbabwean Metal scene - what is it currently like, what challenges are there?
"The metal community is still small but has definitely grown. Speaking as someone who has been in the front lines actively trying to grow the scene, it's been satisfying to watch the micro developments, witnessing the gradual increase in networking and turn outs to our shows and so on.
Pandemics and lockdowns aside, I'd say the biggest challenge was / is venues, especially in terms of putting on a quality show with lights, staging and adequate space etc. We have to source everything."
Have you had bands from nearby countries come to play in Harare? Where (if any) has the band played outside of Zimbabwe?
"There have been bands coming from outside [of Zimbabwe], just not metal bands. We were scheduled to play in Ghanzi, Botswana at Overthust's 11th anniversary of Winter Metal Mania Festival on the 30th of May, which would've been our first show outside of Zimbabwe. Sadly, Covid-19 took care of that."
What are the major challenges Dividing The Element has had to face since the band's inception, is metal frowned upon in Zimbabwe?
"Well, the experiences I've had with people's perceptions and attitudes on metal have mostly been positive, but then again the bias is that my interactions are mostly with people who support the genre. On the whole though, Zimbabwe is a conservative society so there are the typical judgements and misunderstandings that happen. I'd say the biggest challenge in the beginning was reaching out to the metalheads who were around and convincing them that they weren't the only ones. They were scattered few and far between and mostly stuck to themselves. Then I would say again... Venues!"
For metalheads visiting Harare, what sights / attractions and bars / venues could you recommend?
"Sadly there are no dedicated venues for metalheads in Zimbabwe. That said, I'd definitely recommend they come see us if we so happen to be putting on a show during their visit. It may not happen often, but when it does, we try to make it count."
Looking towards the end of 2020 and into early 2021, what plans does the band have left intact?
"Well, that's quite hard to say at this point. As much as it pains me to say it, my prediction is that this is just the beginning of the world's fight with the Coronavirus. There's little evidence to support that we are winning the battle and we're probably going to experience some growing pains trying to return back to the society we had before all of this. All things considered though, everything we've put out as Dividing The Element so far has been self produced, and in this digital age, quite a lot is possible, so I'd say new material would be on the cards."
Do you have any hellos or thanks you wish to send out to friends, family, fans, etc?
"Thank you Dewar PR for your invaluable service and of course thank you to all our family, friends and fans for your continued support."
"A great social and musical influence had the fall of the Romanian communist party and the transition to democracy. "
If Dracula had ever listened to metal, it would definitely have to be an extreme kind of metal, something like Underwaves. Mixing various types of metal together, the quartet muster up a sound that is far more piercing than the vampire lord's fangs. Lashing together the genres of Melodic metal, Metalcore, Nu Metal, Alternative Metal, Groove Metal and Deathcore, you basically end up with Modern Metal Romania-style. Having been going since late 2017, the band has won the Rock'n'Iasi Festival Bands Contest last year whilst in the same year releasing their debut album. They are sure to make a name for themselves throughout the European underground metal scene. GMA spoke to them about their origins, the challenges Romanian Metal bands face and what to do in their home city of Brasov... home of Dracula. No vampires were hurt in the making of this interview.
Ana Ignis (vocals) and Carol Alexandru (guitarist) gave us the insight.
For those who have not heard of Underwaves, could you explain how the band came into being and where the name came from?
"I made the decision very spontaneously, while I was at work and listening to music. I played in a few bands before, but none of them resonated musically with me. Whenever I was at concerts and saw the bands playing, I imagined what it would be like to be in their place. It was quite difficult for me to see others living their dream on stage, so I decided to do something about it. That day I picked up the phone, called our bassist, Bogdan, and asked him if he was willing to play with me in a band. We knew each other before, because we had a few more projects together. The next one I called was Dan, the drummer, and the last one was Carol, the guitarist, who initially rejected the idea.
"The name Underwaves implies duality, mystery, the fact that what is seen always has a meaning inside. The visible part of things hides certain factors that define those things. What is on the surface hides what is underneath. So is our music, it hides our feelings, emotions and feelings."
Seeing as the band had a good career start, what are your next batch of plans once the COVID-19 pandemic has calmed down?
"We had to cancel our entire spring tour due to this pandemic and we are planning to reschedule all the dates, maybe add some more tour dates in it."
How would you describe your sound without the use of genre tags?; seeing as you use Metalcore, Deathcore, Groove and Alt Metal.
"Usually the genres are used in order to fit a band in a specific label, I wouldn’t say that we can fit in one single genre. Honestly, I don’t even know what we are playing if we take the word “metal” out of the description :) ) I would call it simply “metal”, nothing fancy."
What has the band been doing at home during the pandemic? What other hobbies / interests do you all have?
"We were a little bit stressed due to our jobs and we had to focus more on the financial part unfortunately. We still wrote some pieces of music, riffs and we have 2 new songs in progress. Regarding the hobbies, our drummer plays video games, our bassist is a movie watcher, Ana is shopping online and I do sports."
Would it be fair to say that there has been greater interest in metal bands from Romania and Eastern Europe over the past couple of years?
"Maybe so, Eastern Europe has always seemed to us the edge of the world in terms of underground music. Indeed, there are a lot of good bands on this side, many of them already big, some underrated. And in Romania there are a lot of strong bands with great potential."
Tell us more about the Romanian Metal scene, when did metal arrive in Romania? What is the public opinion of metal? What challenges do bands face?
"Rock music made its appearance in the Romanian music world in the early 1960s and continues to exist today. A great social and musical influence had the fall of the Romanian communist party and the transition to democracy. Lately, more and more festivals have started to appear (obviously, we are talking about the period before the pandemic) and this is gratifying. Although it is a style with a niche audience, we still have many followers and many prestigious metal music festivals in Romania. I don't know what the other bands are facing, let's hope they are luckier than us, but the biggest problem we have is the financial one. It is very difficult to support yourself in music, this is the reason why we all have day jobs."
For metalheads visiting Brașov, what sights / attractions and bars / venues could you recommend?
"Definitely the emblem of Brasov when it comes to metal music is the Rockstadt bar. It is the bar in the heart of which Rockstadt Extreme Fest, the largest metal festival in Romania, also started. As for points of interest, we have several museums and cultural points, and 40 km away we have Dracula's castle which is not to be missed."
Do you have any thanks or greetings you wish to send to friends, family or fans?
"I don't know how we could thank all those who have been with us all this time and who will be. It is clear that family and friends have supported us from the beginning, but the people who come to our concerts, buy our T-shirts and listen to our music are the real stars. All the people in this industry that we have known and who have helped us deserve our respect, from sound engineers, stage technicians and lighting technicians, to bartenders, bar managers, tour managers and bands and musicians that we met."
"[Melbourne is] definitely the best metal scene in Australia... lots of bands from Brisbane, Adelaide and other cities go to great pains to get to Melbourne to do shows"
They may have only been going a couple of years, but arguably Australia's Ironstone have so far had a really good run - supporting Rhapsody at a small festival, lining up their debut EP at the end of May, gathering fans from Europe, joining up with arguably Australia's finest PR in Black Roos and all at the average age of 20; Dan being the oldest at 22... they are destined to go far with their work ethic and attitude. Watch this space. To fill in the details, lead vocalist Dan Charlton and lead guitarist / vocalist Edward Warren spoke with GMA about said achievements, the Melbourne Metal scene, how they got their unique name and how Lewis Capaldi has had an impact on Dan Charlton.
Don't worry we know this is an interrogation, we didn't spit roast them on a BBQ on the beach... instead we inoculated them with Fosters... good call!
Hi guys could you tell us how Ironstone came about and what the band name means?
"It started quite a long time ago. It was initially a cover band with a couple of mates and I. We were just young kids. We played gigs in pubs; played AC/DC and all the classics and it developed over time until we started writing original music and creating our own sound. It came to a point where we wanted to take it more seriously and really define ourselves as original artists and not just be a cover band.
The singer at the time lived on ‘Ironstone Road’. We just liked the sound of that. We discussed the name and thought we’d leave out the ‘road’ part because it sounded a bit ‘country’. But we really liked ‘Ironstone’ because it's nice and ambiguous. It can mean anything in terms of genre and creative freedom and it sounds pretty cool too, so we just went with that."
Nowadays it's even harder coming up with band names due to names already in use or having to be changed due to legal reasons.
"Yeah one of the criteria of the name was that we could get the web address and social media handles, because some bands pick a really cool name then because a lot of people already have it they have to put 'official' or something after it, blurring the lines between who is actually this band or that band. So we were really fortunate with our name."
Now you've got your EP 'Prophecy' coming out on 29th May, are you doing at-home promotion for it? Would you release it on vinyl and CD?
"Yeah we're just plugging away with our social media, trying to keep as active as we can, which is important because of self-isolation. We're doing everything we can... including PR to help with international coverage which obviously leads to interviews and reviews. We think this is a weird time to be releasing, but might be slightly advantageous because more people are on the internet and the industry is pretty quiet at the moment.
Oh yes we want to release it on vinyl so badly. I love vinyl. If I had a CD right now and you said I'll give you $100 to play it, I would be pressed to find something to play it on.”
"The good thing about vinyl is that it's really coming back, CD's are not going out but a lot of the new cars don't have CD players any more. Everything is online now with Spotify where you can instantly play music, but I guess people some people still want to go analogue, old-school."
With the EP, have you got a favourite track that stands out for you?
"Well the thing is that we generally love all the songs so much. 2 weeks before the EP we will be dropping our new single and music video 'Downpour'. The video was shot just before all of the closures and was edited during lockdown. It's very thematic and has this kind of Middle Eastern, South-East Asian sort of flavour, it's really very exotic and spicy."
How long did it take you to write, record and finalise the EP?
"Half of the songs were written 12 or more months ago, the other half in the last six months since Dan joined the band and started writing with us. The drums, guitars and bass were tracked very quickly…in less than a week. Jack our drummer then sorted the stems out and got everything organised. Start to finish it was no more than a month I think. The whole process gave us confidence and experience that enabled us to push forward.”
"Vocals took the longest, vocals took about 3 weeks or so and then once we had it done we sent it through and had it mixed and mastered by Chris Themelco at Monolith Studios; absolute legend, who managed to do it so quickly. The first revision was almost perfect, apart from tiny nit-picky stuff. It was good as well because Chris really liked the songs and is a big fan of ours. We were rapt about that because we have so much respect for the guy. He is very highly respected here."
Would you therefore say that's the direction metal is heading, by tapping into other flavours to expand?
"I think it's heading in that direction, there will always be old-school, kind of more pure traditional metal, but I think for bands who are trying to be more progressive and cover ground in thinking, it's going to become more prevalent in exploring different cultural influences, scales, etc., I know there's a lot of Japanese scales, Middle Eastern scales that have already been explored. You could get into Bulgarian scales, Slavic scales, there is so much you can do musically because every single culture has a different slant on the scale of music.
It's inevitable that the progression will lead to change, making it something different."
"I think it's also the younger generation. Old-school metal in the 70's and 80's is a lot different to the metal in the 90's and early 2000's. Metal has has changed over the years in the same way other genres like pop have changed."
Outside of metal music, do you take influences from elsewhere?
"Oh for me even though I listen to metal, I'll also be listening to pop music - a lot of the chart stuff, I'm a massive fan of Lewis Capaldi's voice, specifically the tone of his voice which has brought a lot of inspiration to my vocal technique.
Our sound is like what Eddie says. You can show it to your friends who are really into technical metal and they get into the riffs, but then you can also show it to your parents and they'll be like 'Oh that's a nice song, I like that, that's catchy'. That's definitely not something to be afraid of, being commercial. I think it's a great thing; not aiming for super-duper niche, I just want people to listen and enjoy the music."
"You've got the case where a lot of Progressive Metal bands have really clean beautiful male vocals and then really brutal screams. Dan’s vocal style is kind of like a rock 'n' roll, grungy, really emotional voice over Prog which is something that gives us a particular sound that's really unique and kind of hard to place.
I do love movie soundtracks and stuff like that, people like Hans Zimmer for example, orchestral music, ambient stuff... I really get chills when I listen to stuff from soundtracks and video games; such as Battlefield.
Our drummer Jack used to make trap music, he used to make a lot of dubstep and stuff like that so that's crept its way into the band. I definitely appreciate dubstep for build up and suspense. I guess Prog Metal is kind of dubstep played with guitars, you kind of build it up percussively.
I think our music has a particular musicality and palatability at the same time. I love screams and complicated, percussive feels and breakdowns... whereas Dan's got a real mind for pop and structured melodies. When you combine the two, you get this sort of strange blend. You potentially get people who are normally into Meshuggah and Periphery style of music clashing against pop-influence metal."
Is learning music and music instruments encouraged by schools / colleges in Australia?
"I'd say so as much as anywhere else really, there's always school bands, school programs. There's always this constant reminder that it's an option or a path for you to go down, which I think is a really good thing."
Before now have you had any fans contact you from outside of Australia?
"Yeah we get messages on Instagram all the time. Since we started promoting the release internationally we’re suddenly getting fans from places like Latvia, Romania, you know all these places that we haven't considered as potential fan bases. It just makes us realise how big the world is.“
"Yeah we've got quite a few messages either personally or through the band page just saying that they found us over Instagram or YouTube, saying that they really like us and they want want to support us in any way in they can."
What is the Melbourne Metal scene like in general?
"Generally it's really good, it's definitely the best metal scene in Australia and there are a lot of bands from Brisbane, Adelaide and the other cities who go to great pains to get to Melbourne to do shows and gigs. We've been fortunate enough to play some really fantastic shows in Melbourne, so I'd say the scene is great. Unfortunately with the coronavirus everything has shut down, but I'm sure it will all wake up once this is over.
It's going to be a big deal as there's a lot of bands, not just in Australia but all over the world withholding releases and so when this is all over it's going to be insane."
Dan: "It's gonna be huge when it bounces back."
For metalheads visiting Melbourne, bars / venues and festivals could you recommend?
"That's kind of tricky because we actually live in Bendigo which is a 2 hour drive away from Melbourne, so we don't actually live in Melbourne.
Dan knows more about the venues than me. I've only just turned 18 and so I haven’t attended many things as a punter. Dan is 21 so he’s been to a lot of festivals and gigs."
"Venue wise there’s Festival Hall which has had a lot of really big acts play there. That’s personally one of my biggest goals… to play there, it's so iconic.
Another place I do like is Max Watts, it's like this kind of underground metal heaven really... it's just crazy and amazing, playing there was one of the best things ever. We supported Rhapsody there at the Southern Gathering festival which was awesome.
Aside from Download, there's a new festival that's just come out called 'Good Things' which is more towards Punk music, but over the past couple of years it's gotten heavier and had Parkway Drive headline last year; I went to that and it was absolutely phenomenal; there are some really good musicians.
[Edward chips in with Unified] Ahh! Unified is an awesome metal festival, alongside Download and Good Things, they are probably the 3 biggest metal festivals."
What are some of the everyday challenges that metal bands in Australia have to face?
"Certainly the biggest challenge musically would be trying to become well known, it's quite hard with music let alone being an Australian metal band."
"The thing is also we've got a country that's very large, something like 13 times the size of Germany and has a very sparse population. So if 1% of the population likes the music then out of the world's population that's like 709 million people, but with only 24 million in Australia it's considerably less with people being spread out. Plus it's hot so no one wants to do anything. It's just difficult trying to get that foothold and finding good bands to do shows with, finding a band that's within the niche Prog Metal / Djent, that sort of genre which is what we're going for.
The financial aspect also is there, if you're in Europe you'd play a gig and then could just pop through France. But we have to drive 10 hours and we've nearly reached Sydney! The distances here are vast. But we're really lucky, we live not far from Melbourne and it takes about 2 hours to get there for a gig"
What plans do you have for the back end of 2020 and going into 2021? Were any postponed?
"I think the ultimate goal from whatever means necessary is to do a UK / Europe tour (and to get our music out there). We just want this lockdown to end and for this thing to be over... we just want to do gigs."
"Yeah just play as much as possible in Melbourne, might travel up to Sydney and maybe Adelaide, but for now just want to focus on Melbourne and build on our following."
Have you got any greetings or thanks you wish to send out to fans, friends and family?
"Thanks to all our fans for sticking by us at the start, and to all of the new fans that come after 29th May, and to the stadium full of people (laughs)."
"Thank you to the families for supporting us, the band members for always being consistent. We've got a unique case where all of the band members (except Dan) go to school together so we're already absolutely best friends. Then we've got Dan who may as well be my older brother; comes to my house all the time, stuff like that. Great people we work with like Chris Themelco and Michael Lueders from Black Roos Entertainment who make our life just so much easier. Thanks to everyone who helps us out and supports us."
"Prophecy" is out 29th May via an Independent Release
"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."
Interview Interrogation: Iris Goessens & Steven 'Gaze' Sanders from Spoil Engine (Belgium / Netherlands)
Spoil Engine have been rampaging in the Belgian Metal scene for 15 years and yet it's only in the recent years that they caught the attention of the more well-known labels, Arising Empire (owned by Nuclear Blast) in this case.
Their unique slant on the Melodic Death Metal / Metalcore crossover has made them distinguished guests in the world of metal and yet despite their original vocalist leaving in 2014, they've maintained their brutality through Dutch vocalist Iris Goessens. Word of warning, don't let the fact being the new vocalist is a female overthrow you or undermine this new instalment of Spoil Engine, because her vocals and charisma is ferocious enough to leave you spit-roasted inside and out.
Here Iris and Steve spoke to GMA about their crushing new album 'Renaissance Noire', it's meaning and origins. How they come to meet at their rendez-vous point of Antwerp (as Iris and Matthijs both live in The Netherlands), the Dutch and Belgian Metal scenes respectively and why the single 'Riot' has arguably come at the right time for the band...
"I think music is a beautiful way to make people aware of important topics."
You must be stoked to release your fifth album 'Renaissance Noire', could you tell us about the meaning behind the album title and give us an overview of the album topics?
"Yes we are! We’re very proud of what the album has become. The title translates as “Dark Rebirth”. After our last “Stormsleeper” shows Bart had to make the decision to leave the band (work & family were too difficult to combine with SE). We decided that we would move on as a 4 piece band and started writing. This whole process was a “rebirth” for the band. Also we felt inspired by the “Renaissance” age, which you can see in the artwork. We think this album is darker than the previous one so that’s why we added the “Noire” in the title. The song topics are very diverse but they are all about evolving (as humans and/or as a society) so it basically became the overall topic though the album."
Iris, having come from Maastricht would it be OK to assume you moved to Belgium instead of travelling to and from The Netherlands?
"No. I still live in The Netherlands. Our drummer Matt is also from The Netherlands. For rehearsals we meet in the city of Antwerp which is in the middle of where all the band members live. Before we do this we arrange as much as possible online & everyone rehearses and writes songs at their home studio’s."
Steven do you feel the Belgian Metal scene is often overlooked by the music industry as a whole? Iris the same for the Dutch Metal scene?
"I think there are many Dutch bands and musicians who made it big in the international metal scene. So I don’t think we’re overlooked… It just takes lots of time to build a brand."
"Well, I guess the scene wouldn't be overlooked if we had bands who really get all the promotion. We have some great Belgian bands (Aborted, AmenRa, Evil Invaders, Carnation,...) but these boys must work very hard to get something done in the global scene. If you compare with our Dutch friends (Epica, Within Temptation,..) they get much more support and credit from the bottom-up, meaning from their own country and their promo channels like BUMA. Dutch bands tend to help each other more where Belgian bands are more lone warriors. But it's good to see the Belgian scene is rising!"
Do you feel your single 'R!ot' has come at the right time when climate change protests, social unrest across the European Union and hatred towards the Trump administration is rife? Is the single a political statement?
"Yes, it just came together like that. We wrote this song at the beginning of 2019. I think music is a beautiful way to make people aware of important topics."
With that in mind, do you feel metal music offers itself as a way of venting fury, anger and discontent in a constructive way?
"For sure. Metal has a great energy to spread messages. I think most metal fans are conscious people who think for themselves. So it’s nice to spread messages through our music for a better world. "
For metalheads visiting Maastricht, what sights / attractions could you recommend? Any good bars, clubs?
"We got some nice pubs here in Maastricht. Most of them are overflowed with students though. Same for the “clubs”. I’d rather recommend Maastricht for day visiting than overnight partying. We have many nice restaurants and a beautiful city centre."
What plans have you got for the rest of 2019 (along side the album launch) and into 2020? Do you have any greetings or thank you's that you wish to send out to friends, fans, etc?
"We’ve launched the album and we’re ready to hit the road! Thanks for the interview. And to all the fans who read this: We hope to CU soon on tour!"
Metalcore is arguably one of those genres that has fallen into the trap of being stigmatised for being too formulaic, relying too much on riffs, breakdowns and bland imagination. So where does this leave Windrunner? Well by adding melodies and progressive elements to the mix, the Vietnamese quintet have come up with a solution to bypass the clutches of being pigeon-holed as just another Metalcore band. It might as well be said that whilst Vietnam is famous for it's motorbikes and bicycles, with Windrunner in full throttle, soon Vietnam will be acknowledged for it's vibrant metal scene. Windrunner were more than pleased to chat to GMA about their deal with Famined Records, the Vietnamese Metal scene, how metal is viewed by the public and their plans for 2019.
"Society has been more and more accepting of metal, but it’s still nowhere it needs to be in a music scene dominated by V-pop and K-pop"
For those who have not heard of Windrunner, could you give us a brief history of the band?
"The band began about 6 years ago, when two local Vietnamese bands combined with current members of Windrunner. Mind you, the scene here is still small, so we have all known each other for years and a few of us have played in different bands together before. It's been kind of back and forth between acts, before this line up solidified. The band has been officially together as Windrunner only for 3 years, continuously growing and blending styles and ideas."
Please can you tell us the history of the Vietnamese Metal scene, it's current state, what festivals, media, support, etc., are present?
"Our scene is quite young, but pulsing. We regularly have shows of every genre you can think of - and the metal scene is doing great right now, with some fresh new acts and creative new directions. There are a few promoters that are pushing the scene and inviting some amazing international acts - Emmure is coming over in March, for example, so we are eternally grateful to them. It's young, it's thriving, and it's at that point where it just steadily keeps growing because it hasn't been around for long."
Bands like Ngũ Cung, Microwave and Black Infinity have gained international attention, for yourselves what is it that makes the Vietnamese style of metal (as it were) what it is?
"We look up to our big brothers in Ngũ Cung, Microwave (we just recently shared the stage with them!) and Black Infinity as the pioneers of metal in Vietnam, but we don’t draw much musical influences from them. Each band has a different style and we want to create our own style too. One thing that we all have in common though is we all have tried to incorporate some elements of Vietnamese traditional music into our own style of metal, one way or another."
It seems that neighbouring countries like Laos and Cambodia are producing metal bands too, do you have bands from neighbouring countries come to play in Vietnam?
"Yes, South East Asia is certainly growing more talented bands each year. We have a few notable bands from around the region from places such as Singapore, Thailand, Myanmar, Cambodia, even Japanese bands are making motions to tour in our area."
What do your parents think of your music? On a wider scale how does Vietnamese society view metal music?
"As metal music has only been in Vietnam for a short time, the generation gap generally doesn’t allow for a good connection among us and our parents in terms of music. The same applies to how the society views metal music. Rock music isn’t even mainstream here, so metal is just another black sheep. Just over a decade ago, underground metal shows would always get busted by the authorities. Generally though, society has been more and more accepting of metal, but it’s still nowhere it needs to be in a music scene dominated by V-pop and K-pop."
Are you all self-taught? Or did you attend music school's (if there any?)
"Yes all of us are self-taught. Besides the general music classes in grade school, YouTube was and is still our best music teacher."
Obviously releasing 'Mai' your debut album through an American label must carry great feelings? Are you hoping you will expose Vietnamese Metal to the world?
"It’s an honour, so we are eternally grateful for Famined Records and the help they have given us. Our heads were exploding with the feedback and exposure we were witnessing on various internet platforms across the States and international scene in general. It’s truly humbling and so unbelievably exciting. Of course! We are hungry, and Vietnam has tons of quality acts ready to break out."
With the Metalcore genre saturated as it is, what is Windrunner hoping to bring to the table that has not been done already?
"Too right. Lyrical themes and structures are becoming a bit standardised for most genres of heavy music, so what we want to bring is a genuine fresh blend, and push for new sounds and combinations not heard before. We have a few ideas in the pot ready to go for our next release."
For metalheads visiting Hanoi, what sights / attractions could you recommend? What is the best way to get around?
"The city is rich in historical sights. Museums, traditional pagodas and temples are scattered across Hanoi, and the night life in certain areas will keep you busy for sure. The food alone is a landmark in Vietnam, so come hungry! Renting a motorbike or just good ol’ taxis are the best and fastest way to get around."
What are your plans for 2019?
"We already have some ideas brewing for our next release. We have an amazing tour coming up in March with Emmure across South East Asia and China, which we are beyond excited for. After that, we're definitely moving onto bigger and better things! If you liked what you heard so far, just wait for what's next."
Finally do you have any greetings, or thank you's that you wish to send out?
"We would simply like to thank everyone for their interest and support over the last few months. All the feedback, likes, posts, shares - each one means the world. We would like to thank our local supporters for coming to shows and making each one memorable. We would like to thank the team at Famined Records for believing in us and giving us a chance to grow in a way we would never have thought possible."
Bloodstock cherishes and relishes the opportunity to showcase metal bands from all over the world, this year they reeled in Nepal's Underside, a Groove Metal / Metalcore leviathan that is taking the Asian Metal scene by storm. But it has not always been plain sailing for the band as vocalist Avishek KC explained to GMA, he spoke to us about the Nepalese economy, challenges the scene and band faced, the importance of the Ghurka and how metal unites world cultures.
"No one bought CDs... you couldn't afford it, 20-30 US Dollars would be like 3,000-4,000 Nepalese Rupee (NPR)... my pocket money for 2 months to buy one album"
KC, how did Underside come about? What challenges have you faced?
"We started Underside after the country suffered war, we were tired of shifting from one band to the other so we go together and started this whole new project, with a lot of energy and anger.
Oh man, where do I get started? Ok, the survival itself in a country like Nepal is number one just in terms of the economy, everyone goes through that it's normal, then you have the police, the system, the security, the society, they hate everyone with long hair. There was a time where police used to grab you and chop your hair off, just for looking like different. It's not the first time, I've been through that on many levels and if you're walking in the middle of the night, get in. It's changed a little bit now comparatively but, and then there were the power shortages, we had power out for like 16 hours a day so imagine being in a band, and that was because the Government was selling electricity illegally to companies and they found out the whole country was in darkness for 10 years because of some corruption in the system.
When there is no light it has a ripple effect, on your job, timings, everything and itself being in a country that far is a big challenge trying to get your music out here so you talk to someone and it's like 'OK let's watch it if you're here' if you get a gig or two, I think those are some of the few challenges faced so far.
Getting gear in Nepal is fine, it's not that hard but they don't sell the expensive stuff because no one can afford it, so there are a lot of music stores that sell low-grade guitars from 200-400 USD so you can make do with what you can get."
How long has the Nepalese Metal scene been going? What is it like?
"It's been there but in it's infancy, it has been there for a while but not for a while, not very long. Now it's slowly coming up with our best but it's not an easy job, it's a struggle everyday so.
Yeah we have one we do as a band and as a team put on Silence Festival, the only metal festival otherwise there is no metal festival scene at all, so it's a brand new culture slowly coming out, it's a lot of hard work for us to, even to put one show on.
It's insane, even within the country Kathmandu is so centralized, now we've sort of taken over the city with our music and put show on in front of what 800 people in a venue a few days before Bloodstock. Now we're focusing on outside of the country and are going to the rural places, probably will be doing a little bit of India, so that's the plan to go on."
Would you play in neighbouring Bhutan?
"Yeah of course! I would love to play there with Underside, I think we have some fans from Bhutan who message us on our social media, so yeah that would be sick".
What do your parents think of your music? When did you want to become a musician?
"My parents have never... I think my dad once came to the show and just left after two songs, that was also because my nephew and niece wanted to come, so he came four hours early and I asked him to come again and then he came back and instantly left. My mum has never seen my shows so.
I don't know, I think I always use to want to become a musician when I was a kid and I guess it was what I wanted from the band, I think it was when I heard Pantera and then I wanted to play guitar, but I then said no you can't play guitar you got to sing. But it was always there, I always love the culture of being in a band, playing music it just spoke to me so... ever since I can remember."
What was the journey from Kathmandu to Bloodstock like? Tell us what happened. How did you get invited to play Bloodstock?
"Ah man, it's been pretty crazy with two flights, 6 hours on one plane and two hours break and then 8 hours on another plane and then our home and then a 4-hour drive to Bloodstock. So yeah that's pretty much a little journey, but before that there's been a lot of preparation where we were working on production, we were trying a smaller scale production pretty much for the first time, for Bloodstock we want to bring a little bit of home, just been talking to the production crew in the tent so yeah we worked pretty hard and prepared to do it.
Well we received an invite, I have got a few friends here and promoters who have been working for the festival in the past, so we started a good relationship over the years you know, I think it's from peoples love and friendship that has made the band what it is."
Do you feel that Nepalese band coming to play in the UK could aid tourism in Nepal?
"I think it does because like we're representing where we are from and people get to know where you are from and I'm telling you about this because you asked about the problems, if you ask me about the good stuff there are a lot of good things, good people, they're the most helpful and I think friendly people you meet going about disregarding the society, the police, the system. But yeah I think it does, when people get to understand and connect, I think it does help in some ways."
With the UK and Nepal sharing a long history together, do you feel it's ever more important to support the Ghurka's?
"I think it's a cool thing that we have that relationship with the Ghurka's and like, it's been there for years and it's always good to fuse and connect on a certain level, keeping a healthy relationship. So it's always good to cherish, improve it and make it better. I think it's great, times like this when conflicts are happening, problems with each other and everything all the time, I think it's a great thing that we connect."
Who was the biggest band to play in Nepal thus far? Has the Nepalese Government become more relaxed in recent times?
"I think Behemoth, Vader, but no I think Behemoth is still the biggest to have played Nepal so far. Yeah I mean even last year the police were just bar-standing, we had so many problems trying to get the Twelve Foot Ninja boys out of the airport because the Government did not understand the system of bringing in your own equipment and stuff, it's just like you can't do whatever the f**k you want; 'I've got it, everything in a letter' and they were like 'we don't know come back Monday' and I was like 'dude the festival is today, you can't tell them to come on Monday', and I had to be on stage in 30 minutes so we play after the band because I was still at the airport stressing."
So is Nepal still a slightly conservative country?
"Yeah yeah in regards to metal music and being out there with your long hair and looking like all of us here it still is, it is an open place for tourism as we get a lot of tourists, but when it comes to the society; they have a different attitude towards it, because we are from the inside and are kind of rebels. But you go there and do things that we do, so they have a different approach for how you're treated."
What did you listen to when you were in high school?
"A lot of Pantera, Metallica, Slipknot... I was in a Black Metal band, there was something about Black Metal that I really love, it's been a while when I was listening to Mayhem, Nargaroth, Burzum, I love that stuff back in the day and also a lot of alternative stuff. So there was a lot to listen to, you used to have a lot of friends into different things, we were listening to pretty much everything. Listening to the old stuff on vinyl, Hendrix, Manson and stuff, depends on who you hanged out with back in the day. I loved albums by the likes of Korn, anything you can get your hands on, but it was so hard to get music at that time - if it was metal, everyone would just listen to it and no questions asked.
No one bought a CD, you couldn't get it because you couldn't afford it, 20-30 US Dollars would be like 3,000-4,000 Nepalese Rupee (NPR) and that would be my pocket money for 2 months to buy one album. You couldn't get it even if you said you'd save up to buy it, so whatever you had you listened to it as much as you can. For the UK a £10-£15 album would be like 2,000 NPR and that's a lot of money for us at that time especially when we were children.
What could you buy for 2,000 NPR?
"Nothing man, just like cigarettes... a little bit more than that, not a lot, definitely not a lot. Maybe lunch and stuff, you could buy posters and stuff, bootleg albums, etc., Nowadays children have the spending access, they can buy guitars; I got my first electric guitar when I was 16 and it cost about 200 USD and it was a fight; my parents got it in but it was a brutal fight."
Do you have any greetings or thank you's that you wish to send out?
"Yes, thank you to you man for talking to us or any other press that's talking to us at Bloodstock; it's amazing to be here, our crew, all the boys, our fans and people back home."
With a population that rivals the entire population of the British cities of Liverpool and Sheffield, you couldn't fault Suriname for having a close-knit metal scene. Despite it's size it has a strong and ever-growing scene. Flying the flag for the Surinamese Metal scene is Groove Metal / Metalcore outfit Asylum, who this year won the Wacken Metal Battle Caribbean (previously won by Trinidad & Tobago's Lynchpin; first edition winners) and ultimately went to Wacken Festival in Germany where they placed 9th internationally at the Wacken Metal Battle, not too shabby for a band who only formed six years ago and released their debut EP 'Domination' this year. GMA spoke to the band's vocalist Romeo about their scene, the band's history and their experience at being at Wacken Open Air.
"It (winning WMBC) put things into perspective... we were going to be ambassadors for the entire Caribbean region in Europe."
For those who have not heard of Asylum, could you give us a brief history of the band? Were you in previous bands?
"Asylum is a metal band from Suriname, South America, that formed in 2012. The name refers to the band being a safe haven for metalheads in a country where metal is severely frowned upon. Asylum incorporates traditional Death and Thrash Metal with their own South American style they dub “Srananmetal”. Asylum first had a long standing underground scene before they broke out and gained notoriety in the Caribbean metal scene. In 2018 Asylum headlined local festivals and won the Wacken Metal Battle Caribbean 2018 in Trinidad and finished 9th place internationally at the Wacken Metal Battle in Germany. 3 of the 4 members have been in previous bands and various projects."
What is the Surinamese Metal scene like? How long has it been going? Is it big?
"While metal dates back to the 1970’s, metalheads today are even more passionate about the music. Being a small country the scene is relatively small but it is healthy and growing."
What challenges as a metal band from Suriname do you face?
"First and foremost, the financial aspect. Since the scene is small, you have to do a lot of self-investment and organizing for shows and travels. Everything is paid out of pocket."
How did it feel to win the Wacken Metal Caribbean Battle this year? What was your Wacken experience like?
"In Trinidad it was our first time playing outside of the country. We did not expect to be so well received by the Trinidadian fans and the whole experience blew our minds. It put things into perspective as we realized we were going to be ambassadors for the entire Caribbean region in Europe. We not only wanted to make our country proud but every metalhead across the Caribbean.
Coming from a small country, none of us really get to see the metal greats perform. We rarely get to see any big shows or much less perform at one. Suddenly we shared the same stage as our South American heroes, Sepultura, and performed in from of thousands of cheering metalheads. It electrified us to our cores and this experience has given us the necessary tools and ambition to continue on this journey of metal domination. Big plans for 2019."
What nationalities for the battle were there? Is the wider Caribbean scene big?
"There were 30 countries and or regions represented. The wider Caribbean scene isn’t as big as the rest of the world. But the isolation has led to a lot of unique creativity from the bands and the scene is very lively and unlike anything you may see abroad."
For metalheads visiting Paramaribo, what sights / attractions could you recommend?
"We recommend you head on over to Unker Bunker Terras and get information on local shows and events. They are sporadic, but when they happen it’s a lot of fun and there everyone is welcome."
In general, how has 2018 been for the band? How will you sign off the year and enter 2019?
"2018 has been the most successful and fulling year for the band so far. It has left us motivated and we are pursuing new horizons in 2019. Our dicks are hard."
Are there any greetings, thank you’s, etc., that you wish to send out?
"We’d like to say hello to everyone who hasn’t heard about us and invite them to check us out and be part of the Asylum. We’d like to thank all our fans who made 2018 so memorable. We do this for the love of Metal, thanks GMA for this interview. Stay metal."
Metal music undeniably has reached the farthest parts of the globe and arguably in some unsuspecting locations as a result. From Greenland to Zimbabwe, it's caught the imaginative eye of many and as a result have given birth to numerous metal scenes. But what about the more isolated islands on planet earth? One band Surrender The Thief, hope to finally place Guam on the map in the metal music universe. For sure the likes of Australia, New Zealand and New Caledonia are perhaps considered the metal music leaders on this continent, but with new scenes in the likes of French Polynesia, Fiji, Vanuatu and Papua New Guinea emerging, where does this leave the island of Guam? GMA spoke to vocalist Charles Megino about the scene's history, the band's plans (including a crowdfund to tour Japan) and the struggles of geographical isolation.
"Most musicians here either commit to weekly bar gigs, monthly showcases, or stick to DIY recordings and focus on digital exposure."
For those who do not know of Surrender The Thief, could you please give us a history of the band?
"All members of Surrender The Thief were / are members of other local bands. We all pretty much knew each other and came together to try and do something different with the local scene. In the early stages of writing and tracking, only myself (Charles), Joaquin, Julius, and Jonah were involved. As we got closer to finishing the album, we started recruiting members to fill the remaining slots and start preparing for live performances."
Hailing from Guam must come with difficulties, could you tell us what challenges metal bands and fans face on the island of Guam? How long has the Guam Metal scene been going?
"Being a metal band from Guam definitely has it's ups and downs. So far, the response has been great. Definitely exceeded my expectations. Guam used to have a very diverse underground scene, holding strong onto punk, hardcore, and metal. As the years went by, the scene died down. High school bands were hard to find (when about 10 years ago, teenage bands were sprouting left and right). When we threw our CD release show for Wasteland last November 2017, it was basically a shot in the dark.
We had no clue how well / bad the show would do, but we gave it our all. We dressed up the venue, hired a sound team and brought in some serious equipment. Our initial goal was to bring change to the scene, raising the flat standard to an entirely different level. That show ended up exceeding my expectations, as hundreds came to that show and had a great time. From what I've heard, many of the show-goers have been aching for a metal / hardcore show, so they had an opportunity to enjoy that as well."
Do you know of metal bands from neighbouring islands like the Marianas, Palau, Micronesia, etc? Is it expensive to leave the island? How would you go about touring? Gigging, etc.
"As of now, not aware of any metal bands from our sister islands. Leaving the island is definitely the biggest challenge for bands here. It gets costly. Most bands here rely on weekly bar gigs, and if lucky enough, get an opening slot for concerts that come by. Metal bands don't come around here, so we're definitely not getting on one of those for a while (LOL). With that said, most musicians here either commit to weekly bar gigs, monthly showcases, or stick to DIY recordings and focus on digital exposure. A couple of reggae bands have toured the West Coast (US), but for metal, not recently."
Your planning on going to tour Japan in January, how well is the crowdfunding going? Who will you be playing with in Japan?
"The crowdfunding for this tour has been going okay. It's a bit difficult to convince people to support your dreams (LOL), but so far, the response and support we've received have been great. We're only 2 months away so we've been pushing hard to make sure we meet the requirements. Not quite sure who we'll be sharing the stage with (as the local promoters in Japan are the ones to coordinate that), but we're stoked no matter what! We're very thankful that they were open to having us share our passion with their country."
You released your album 'Wasteland' earlier this year, what has the reception been like? Any attention from overseas?
"The reception has been good. The challenging part would definitely be marketing. It's very tricky trying to catch peoples' attention with how many metalcore bands are out there now. For those who have heard the album, we've received nothing but praise. We've received emails and messages from Germany, the UK, Australia, the Philippines, and mainland US. All positive so far!"
Will the album be released physically?
"Wasteland" is available on most major digital platforms: Spotify, iTunes, Apple Music, Google Play, CD Baby, Amazon, etc. If interested in physical copies, we have a bunch that we'd love to mail out to interested buyers. CD Baby also has a limited amount of physical copies of "Wasteland" for sale."
For those metalheads visiting Hagatna, what sights / attractions could you recommend in seeing?
"That's a tough one. Guam's economy is heavily reliant on tourism, so there's a lot to see. It's always nice to submerge yourself in other cultures to learn further about a place and it's people, so I'd probably stay within those lines."
With 2018 closing up, what plans aside from the impending Japanese tour do you have?
"For now, we're focusing primarily on the tour. I'm trying to get in contact with more booking agents and promoters to land us some slots / shows in the Asian countries, so hopefully we get in on more of the action next year. We've also started writing some new material, so we may have another release by late 2019."
Are there any greetings you wish to send out to friends, family, etc?
"To all of our loyal supporters, family and friends who have helped us get where we are today, WE APPRECIATE YOU! Our fan-base / support system is very important to us, and we couldn't be happier with what we have. Just know that everything we do, we don't only do it for ourselves, but for Guam's music community as a whole. Si Yu'us Ma'ase, Guahan!"
When you think of the Scottish Metal scene you tend to think of the likes of Alestorm, sure their Pirate Metal sound is popular among the masses but they aren't the only Scottish Metal band with a sumptuous sound. Entering the affray is Dumfries' own Turbyne, whose mix of Melodic, Death, Prog and Metalcore have left the Bloodstock faithful in awe, with their sound not like anything that has been heard before but yet use the very basics of said metal genres, what they done with those genres is bent and snapped them to pieces, to create something they can call their own.
After rampaging on the New Blood Stage, GMA caught up with the now sextet and explored their past, what two vocalists bring to the band and the current status of the Scottish Metal scene.
Answers given by various members; indicated where possible.
(on song lengths):- "It's nothing to do with how long the song is, it's all about the ideas and how well you get them across".
Hi guys, firstly tell us who you are, what you play and how did you become involved in Turbyne?
"Hey I'm Calum, I'm the guitarist and I was here at the start; started the band with a few of my friends. Hey I'm Gary, I joined the band in 2012, I sing and I also play keyboards.
Hi I'm Brian, I play bass and I think I joined around like 10 years ago or something, I'm not quite sure, but through a friend; they were looking for a bassist and so I joined.
I'm Kyle the drummer and I'm co-founder with Calum here as creator of the band, the one and only. Hey I'm Keith, I'm the vocalist and I joined way way back in the day in the beginning.
I'm Jamie, I was the last to join and I kind of just invited myself into the band, I didn't actually be asked to join, I just sort of said I'll come along and play keyboards for you, so yeah that's what I do now."
So you have two keyboardists? Who is best at playing them?
"Absolutely Jamie, I (Gary) just pretend to play the keyboards, ah he's just started. It's a new addition that we're actually bringing to Bloodstock tomorrow, so it's the first time that it's done properly and Jamie holds the whole fort in terms of solo's and proper synth, I just kind of fill in with my backing strings, so hopefully its goes well tomorrow - I'm not nervous at all... I absolutely am.
Before I played keyboards you had two vocalists, so erm Keith and I were full-time vocalists so that's something we introduced when I joined the band really. But yeah we're trying it out to see if we can push ourselves to make a bigger sound and push ourselves harder basically to add more on the stage show or to the live sound as well, so we're going to be adding more live guitars as well, we're all going to be very busy."
What's it like being a sextet when recording music? Hard and tricky surely?
"Ages, ages and ages. We do all what we can before we hit the studio, there's a lot of demo's, a lot of kind of coordinating... maybe I'll have a practise with Jamie and we'll go over what we're going to do and the singers will get together and they'll practise their bits and then it all kind of comes together in the practise space. So yeah it takes a long time before we're ready to record anything, but it works for us."
Who came up with the band name and what does it mean?
"....erm, (silence), Kyle can answer that one. I believe it was actually Kyle who came up with the name, there was a bit of a catch of course we created the band during the Nu Metal years when it was invoked to spell your name incorrectly (laughs), hence the 'y' rather than the 'i' but at least it makes it original. There's not a literal meaning to what it is, we like to leave it interpretable, but it means certain things to us, there's not a concrete origin if that makes sense?"
What was going through your minds when you were confirmed to play Bloodstock? What did you parents say?
"I was actually at work, which is quite a formal job - I wear a suit, I won't mention what I do, but I was sitting with a client at the time and I think I made some sort of an excuse to leave the room to do a small to big lap of the office, kick over one of the desks and go back to the client and finish the interview that we had. I couldn't contain myself, I couldn't send enough text messages at the same time, not to mention we couldn't actually tell anyone at the time. So yeah it was insane to be fair, because we got the invitation as oppose to you know winning on our Metal 2 The Masses night, so to actually be asked to come along and play we feel is an absolute privilege and pleasure, to have someone say we want you to come along and showcase what you can do. It was a magnificent moment for me anyway, it was almost like a mark of approval from people we've been waiting to hear from for a very long time.
They were happy aye, they've supported us through... well my parents have supported us through Metal 2 The Masses heats and have been gutted when we didn't get it so they were chuffed.
I think my mum had to ask what Bloodstock was (laughs), it took about 45 minutes to explain, I probably went through the whole roster of the bands that are playing and not one rung a bell, so we just ended up with 'it's a big thing mum, be happy for me' (laughs), so she was.
My parents are into music anyway, so they were happy for us yeah.
Aye they were chuffed, my family have always been big supporters of what we do and they travel to come and see us at gigs, and yeah just happy.
I'm adopted... (laughs), no my parents were over the moon as well and I think as well as our close family and friends who were elated just as much as we were.
Yeah I've been getting congratulations from around the world, people all over the place and well none of them know what Bloodstock is, but you know it's the words festival, stage and playing that hit the net, so yeah they're really thrilled for the band. Lot of support from people who talk to us and are with our music so that's really good to have."
Sum up Bloodstock in two words and no more.
"Big deal", "enough said", "f*cking awesome", "pretty decent", "i'll take three - ask me sunday", "I really have no idea, all that can come to mind is 'pretty decent', 'f*cking awesome', so yeah I'll go with 'f*cking awesome' too" (laughs all around).
Can you tell us more about your eclectic style of metal?
"It's heavy and kind of based in experimental progressive metal, but with this kind of NWOBHM stuff going on as well, there's a lot of metalcore... basically it's what we've come up with, with a kind of collective styles of music that we all like and that we're all into. We just play the kind of music that we want to do and that we think would be interesting and new, it's very hard to describe as there's a lot of different substances in there. It's all very diverse and we keep ourselves guessing never-mind, there's nothing off-limits when it comes to the style of the band, nothings off-limits with us. The best way to define it is to listen to it and then decide for yourself what you actually think it is, and then if you put a label on it then you can identify it easily.
For the six years I've been in the band, we've been called how many different genres? We've tried different genres... but we bring out the next song and then all of a sudden they'll define us as something else, so as Jamie said it's best to listen to it and decide what part of it's new and pick your own genre, we don't mind - we've been called a lot of things.
I like that... (all laugh), if somebody else started to play 'Turbyne Metal' I think that could become a thing, yeah that would be nice if that was a thing to kind of lead a trend or something by everyone."
Most Prog Metal bands tend to deliver 7-10 minute songs, what are your thoughts about that?
"To be genuinely progressive I think that sounds about right, there's a lot of ideas and in our case anyway there's a lot of ideas in one song and it's difficult to pick the ones that are right from the ones that are wrong, so in our case yes we do tend to be a bit longer, but we do try and chop them down so they don't seem indulging you know what I mean? I love prog music but some of it is drawn out, we try and be cautious of not making item seem too much for what we're going for.
I think we try and find a balance between your heavy part and as that starts to draw out, we'll change it up for something that might suit someone else in the same song and I think that comes across really well with us, I think you can really break it down into a nice clean sound and then bring it right back as heavy as you want to... as long as it doesn't betray the song, as long as it feels right and feels natural in the progression of the song.
To be fair Turbyne has always been known for the length of it's songs but I don't think when Calum our main songwriter is writing a song that the clock is a big factor, I think the narrative of the song and what he's trying to express is more important than how long it's going to take to do it. But yeah having said that songs reach between 3-10 minutes, maybe over, there's a real diversity in what the band plays.
I'm used to playing classical music as well so I also play 45 minute symphonies and two-and-a-half musical theatre shows, so a 5-7 minute Turbyne song is a pretty short space of time (all laugh) to fill in with noise so I'm quite glad that they just end nicely, it doesn't matter anyway as long as the idea is strong, that's the main part - it's nothing to do with how long the song is, it's all about the ideas and how well you get them across in delivering them to your audience - if it takes a while, it takes a while."
What challenges do Scottish Metal bands face these days?
"Getting out there really, we're from quite a small town so the biggest obstacle we often face is getting onto bills and expecting to bring in people, that's a problem because you know we're from a smaller town, it can sometimes stand in our way. I'd say getting a fan-base and getting out to new people, new fans, new areas is the hardest part for our fans from Scotland.
I think our biggest problem is locations, so even if we head northwards (we're on the borders of Scotland; 45 minutes from Carlisle) up to Glasgow, Edinburgh, then Dundee and Aberdeen, but even driving up to Aberdeen takes us four and a half hours. Don't get me the wrong the band is completely committed so we will travel everywhere, anywhere that wants to hear us, we'll bring the sound to them, but it is the hardest part is getting on bills, finding that niche market where people are doing to appreciate what we're doing and finding out bands that are similar to us which is very, very difficult with the type of music that we are.
Because of the music we play as well we don't really fall into one category or the other, we're not the heaviest metal band but we're too heavy for non-metal music as well, so I think that is another obstacle as well is that exactly where we sit in the market and bills that we can play on, bands that are likewise with the fans that might go out to see, bands like us.
I think playing this festival is exactly what we need though because you're playing in front of people that would never see us otherwise, so this is the best opportunity you've got."
Have you had any fans from outside of the UK get in touch with you?
"Yeah there's a Finnish guy, I could probably name a bunch of Australians who listen to our music now, but yeah erm remember... was it Finland or Norway that guy was from?
I think it was Norway, his named sounded Finnish but was from somewhere up there, yeah he got in touch through Facebook saying he came across us and really appreciated what we done and hopefully we would go over there soon and play and we were like alright, that's good stuff.
It's always nice to hear from people that are that far out and either have stumbled across us or someone's told them about our music, it's nice when they feel they have to message us and say they enjoy it; it's crazy to have a few people from the USA, mainly Florida just to say they love the music, so if anybody wants to give us a contract to Florida (laughs), I'm due a holiday so anytime.
Business class right?
At least business class and I'm expecting our own private jet, maybe Air Force One, I might settle for that."
What are your plans after Bloodstock?
"We've got a few more gigs mostly in Scotland and north of England, we're just going to keep padding for shows, we're preparing for our second album so the song's are nearly there, we're still kind of writing and perfecting them - we're hopefully going to start tracking by the end of the year, hoping for a 2019 release so that'll take a lot of attention, a lot of energy, but yeah just keep looking for shows and stuff like that, see if we can chase this and hopefully get a few things out of it as well. Trying our best to network over here as well, see what comes."
Finally guys are there any greetings, thank you's or hello's you wish to send out?
"Yeah just to everyone that has supported us, those who get us here you know we had a lot of help from the people down our way, we owe them a lot of thanks, all the fans back home as well and everywhere else. Everyone that has supported us, watched our videos, listened to our music, bought our album - yeah it's all for them, we just hope we can do them proud.
Thanks to every single person who went out their way to give us that one step up or just spread our music about, talking about and supporting us. Thanks to everyone around us, they're always supportive and it's a nice environment to be in.
Same again thanks to everyone for supporting us, every listen counts so.
Aye just everybody, everybody who has ever been to a gig or has supported us.
Perhaps a big shout out to Simon for taking a chance on us, it's beyond appreciated and we plan on to corner him and tell him that in person. To take a risk on a band who is kind of different as us, it's a big leap of faith but we fully intend to live up to and exceed his expectations.
Simon and also anyone else who has seen the band live and just take a chance with, we know these guys are good, but will they be the right act for the stage. Our road manager deserves a shout out too."