Tag Archives: metal

Review – Altered Bridge, Chinnery’s, 23 September 2016

The whole world has heard of Alter Bridge, right? With their 5th album due, anticipation couldn’t really get any higher, after the 2014 smash hit ‘Fortress’.  So, if you have four competent musicians who are fervent AB fans, including a singer who bears more than a passing resemblance to Myles Kennedy (and sounds like him, too), it seems natural that they would form a tribute band. Enter Altered Bridge.

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Billed as ‘the UK’s first and only AB tribute band’, Altered Bridge hail from the south of England and before this gig, had performed as a band a grand total of two shows.  No pressure, then, when you are booked to play a legendary UK venue.

Just getting to Chinnery’s from Bournemouth was apparently a mission; traffic was hideous, but our fabulous foursome battled through and made it in good time.  There was no support band, so the beer was flowing and the tunes were playing to warm up what could be described as a bit of a scant crowd.  The die-hard rockers that did make it, however were most appreciative of Baz and Co’s efforts, as they kicked off their set with the stonking ‘Come to Life’, followed by the immense ‘Bleed It Dry’.  Anthem followed anthem in a very accomplished set, taking material from across the spectrum of AB albums.

Myles (Baz) looked the part, to be sure, although he seemed a tad nervous in places, especially when bantering with the crowd.

I wish there had been some more bodies there to soak up the atmosphere and make it a better gig for them, but there was definite appreciation from all corners of the room, especially when the epic track ‘Addicted to Pain’ popped up.

alterd-bridge-live

The iconic ‘Blackbird’ was despatched with efficiency and then the rest of the band melted away, leaving Baz solo to pick up an acoustic for a beautiful version of ‘Wonderful Life’ and ‘Watch Over You’.

I particularly enjoyed ‘Isolation’ and the ever thoughtful ‘Ghost of Days Gone By’.  A big cheer erupted when Baz asked who had tickets to see our silky haired hero and his beloved band mates later this year, so I guess pretty much the whole room were counting down the days to an Alter Bridge gig in November.

So, basically you can’t go wrong if you love Alter Bridge; these guys know how to rock a room, they’re very competent, the ticket price was ridiculously cheap for musicians of this calibre and with more gigs under their collective belts, I can see them packing out bigger venues and possibly even attracting attention from the real thing. If I had any criticism at all, I would just say that Baz needs to load up the ends of the songs with some more vocals; occasionally he was content to just play rather than sing to the end.  He has a great voice – we want to hear more of it!

altered-bridge-live

Set list –

  • Come To Life
  • Bleed It Dry
  • Farther Than The Sun
  • Find The Real
  • White Knuckles
  • Addicted To Pain
  • Lover
  • Broken Wings
  • Cry of Achilles
  • Blackbird
  • Wonderful Life/Watch Over You (Acoustic)
  • Metalingus
  • Isolation
  • Rise Today
  • Ghost of Days Gone By
  • Open Your Eyes

Band –

  • Baz Edmondson – Vocals/guitar
  • Dave Beckwith – Lead guitar
  • Kris Venzi-James – Bass
  • Justin Young – Drums

You can watch the video for ‘Addicted to Pain’ at Chinnery’s – it’s a little bit dark! – here

Altered Bridge facebook

Altered Bridge Twitter

Thanks to Dirty Rock Photography for the pics – click the link to see the whole album!

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Review of Download Festival, 10-12 June 2016

Yet again, the rain came, the mud grew ankle deep and tents got washed away in the campsites.  The traffic queues for the day ticket holders were appalling and people moaned about the line up.  I’m not entirely sure why we still put ourselves through it every year, but it’s like some sort of addiction; Download just has to be done.  It’s one of those quintessentially British things, like having to wait in a queue (don’t mention the toilets), or stoically paying a fiver for a pint …

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Anyhow, as I have always said, it is ALL about the music.  Except … it really wasn’t.  Last year, I didn’t review the festival because we had an exceptionally good time with friends and it was all about networking and enjoying the social side.  This year, we didn’t really see any friends, we didn’t see many bands, but … well, it was still good.  The Mockney and I sunbathed, we had a really good laugh and I made some new friends.  I will tell you about the bands that we did see … but here are some numbers to ease you in gently.

Number of …

  • Miles to get there and back – 404
  • Trips between the campsite and car park – 8 in total
  • Hours that it took to put the new tent up – 2
  • Beers consumed whilst trying to put said tent up – 6
  • Bands that cancelled their performance – 3
  • Bands that I wanted to see – 32
  • Bands that we actually saw – 11
  • Pints of lager/beer/cider consumed – Somewhere between too many and not enough
  • Decent nights’ sleep – 0
  • Pounds spent on mediocre, nutritionally bad food – approx. £65
  • Times we have been to Download – 7 between us (10 if you count ‘Monsters of Rock’ back in the day)
  • Times we got rained on – oh, please – I’m still trying to dry out now. Standard.
  • Episodes of tent springing a leak – 0 (thanks, Go Outdoors!)

Phew.  Now, let’s get to the serious bit …

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RavenEye on the Zippo Encore stage, 10 June 2016 – Photo courtesy of Dirty Rock Photography

First band to be seen on Friday was RavenEye (7/10), kicking things off on the Zippo Encore stage.  This was their first time at Download and many people hadn’t seen them before, hence the singer advising, “We can pop this cherry together”.  They seemed nervy to start with, but soon got into the swing of things, with a big groove and an appreciative audience.  A swift beer stop and a trek over to the undercover Maverick stage saw us in front of Zoax (8/10), fresh from an appearance at last weekend’s Camden Rocks Fest.  I can’t remember if it was raining at this point, but even if it had been, this band still would have packed out the considerably sized tent.  Blatantly pleased to be there, they belted out quite a few bruisers but also slowed it down with new track ‘The Wave’ from the newly released, eponymously titled album.  A pleasing set, with Adam singing from the crowd, rather than in front of them.  They loved it and so did I.

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Zoax on the Maverick stage, 10 June 2016 – Photo courtesy of Dirty Rock Photography

Next up were The Wildhearts (10/10).  A band that is very close to my heart, one of my earliest memories of being a rocker is playing ‘Earth vs The Wildhearts’ to death.  Having seen Ginger play a very different set in Camden last week, it was a real pleasure to hear such songs as ‘I Wanna Go Where The People Go’, ‘TV Tan’, and ‘Suckerpunch’, as well as the ever awesome ‘Caffeine Bomb’, which was dedicated to the late, great Lemmy.  Energetic, musically tight and humble, The Wildhearts absolutely knocked it out of the park.

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The Wildhearts on the Maverick stage, 10 June 2016 – Photo courtesy of Dirty Rock Photography

With a few hours to kill and the rain not letting up, we spent a couple of hours chilling out undercover in the guest area before stopping at the Lemmy stage to see Rammstein (8/10).  I don’t have too much to say about their performance; if you have seen them before, you’ll know how compelling they are on the live stage.  Although they had some technical issues, they blasted through favourites such as ‘Reise, Reise’, ‘Seemann’ and ‘Du Hast’.  If you haven’t seen them, put it on your bucket list as everybody should see them at least once.  This was my first time and I wasn’t disappointed.

Saturday dawned with bright sunshine and a balmy temperature; we were slow to get going, so the first band we caught sight of was Inglorious (6/10) on the Encore stage.  They were one of the bands that I had marked as a must-see, but to be honest, I wasn’t that enamoured with their set.  To be fair to them, we were hungover and hungry; we also bumped into a friend, so I didn’t give 100% focus.

Turbowolf

Turbowolf on the Maverick stage, 11 June 2016

A band that did manage to keep my attention was Turbowolf (8/10) back at the Maverick stage.  I couldn’t tell you any of the songs they played, only that they gave 150% in a mad, whirlwind of a performance that went down extremely well.  I’ve seen these guys before, but they’re so good live – always worth catching if you can because they rock hard.  It’s worth it just for the keyboard action!

sixx AM 2

Sixx:AM on the Lemmy stage, 11 June 2016 – Photo courtesy of Dirty Rock Photography

Band of the day for me was Sixx:AM (9/10) on the main stage; the only reason they didn’t get a 10/10 is because I fail to see the relevance of two scantily dressed backing singers whose vocals we actually couldn’t hear.  Anyway, they smashed it out of the park with tracks such as ‘Rise’ and ‘Life is Beautiful’, also showcasing new songs from the recently released album, “Prayers For The Damned”.  Loved their set, can’t wait to get the new album and I hope that I get to see them again soon – outstanding.

It’s no secret that I am a massive Rival Sons (8/10) fan – I have seen them many times and I love their music.  However, much as I really wanted to give them top marks, I just can’t.  They looked sharp and they sounded almost perfect, but it appeared to be lacking something that I can’t put my finger on.  Don’t get me wrong, it was a great set, with some real crowd pleasers such as ‘Electric Man’, ‘Secret’ and ‘Pressure and Time’ but … I wasn’t feeling it as much as I normally would. Perhaps it was because I haven’t yet got the new album, “Hollow Bones”, and they played a couple of songs from it, including the title track. Maybe I’d just had too much sun at that point. I can’t wait, however, to get my paws on that album and I look forward to seeing them with Black Sabbath on their farewell tour next year.

Rival Sons

Rival Sons on the Lemmy stage, 11 June 2016

Which brings me neatly on to the Saturday headliner.  After I had just caught Megadeth’s ‘Symphony of Destruction’, the clouds were darkening ominously once more.  We experienced what can only be described as a cloudburst shortly afterwards and changing into dry clothes didn’t cheer me up.  By the time Black Sabbath (9/10) exploded onto the stage, my mood was blacker than the sky.  Quite fitting,  then, that they should kick off with ‘Black Sabbath’.  That iconic intro ratcheted up the excitement levels in the crowd and the atmosphere in the arena was intense as Ozzy did his usual manic run from one side of the stage to the other.

Black Sabbath

Black Sabbath on the Lemmy stage, 11 June 2016

They were clearly enjoying themselves as they cranked through a surprisingly short (only 15 songs), but nostalgic set.  The soggy crowd didn’t seem to mind the downpour, moshing along to classics such as ‘Snowblind’, ‘War Pigs’, ‘Rat Salad’ and ‘Iron Man’.  The outpouring of affection for Birmingham’s most famous rockers almost  brought a tear to my eye, as they encored with ‘Paranoid’ and the arena erupted. We left at that point, but I believe that they ended a triumphant set with the introspective “Zeitgeist”, perhaps a strange choice.  Step up and pay your money, ladies and gents – ‘The End’ farewell tour tickets go on sale on Friday 17th June at 9am from Live Nation.

By the time Sunday limped around, we were pretty broken and quite looking forward to going home; having already packed the car, by 11 o’clock it was pouring down again and we were pretty miserable.  We did manage to catch The Raven Age (8/10).  They absolutely killed their set, which I thoroughly enjoyed, although I’m baffled as to why the singer kept disappearing every five minutes.  Hard, heavy and sweaty, every single member of this band played and sang their arses off and were rewarded with a very appreciative audience.  I’ll definitely catch them again if I have the chance.

the raven age

The Raven Age on the Maverick stage, 12 June 2016

Last band of the day for us was The Temperance Movement (9/10); a band who I have followed with interest over the last couple of years.  Having grown exponentially in fanbase and confidence, TTM played a blinding set on the Lemmy stage (last time I saw them, they played the Zippo Encore stage), it’s just a shame that there weren’t as many people watching them as there should have been (let’s not mention the day ticket traffic).  My favourite song, ‘Midnight Black’ had me dancing in the mud!

mud!

That’s it!  Bands I didn’t get to see, who I heard good things about included Skillet, Savage Messiah, Santa Cruz, Reigning Days, Juliette and the Licks, Cane Hill and of course, the mighty Disturbed.  Gutted I didn’t see them.  I also hear that a little band called Iron Maiden went over extremely well on Sunday evening …

I moaned about the mud and the severe lack of straw to soak it up, but I really do have to hand it to Andy Copping; the Download organisers continue to learn from things that have gone awry in the previous years and  tried to put it right.    I do think that the whole event could be moved to later in the year to try and avoid the ‘Drownload’ syndrome, but that’s a whole other article … I’ve already booked a hotel for next year so bring it on!

Headbangers Balls – saying ‘Balls to Cancer’!

If you thought charity had little to do with metal, you seriously need to think again.  Those awesome folks over at Headbangers Balls have arranged a series of gigs in aid of Teenage Cancer Trust and they’re also raising awareness of testicular cancer. 
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Over eight venues around the country, the line up includes such heavyweights as Savage Messiah, Evil Deth, Onslaught, Collibus and a whole host of other kick-ass metal mayhem merchants*, all for less than a tenner a night!
(*see individual events for exact line-up details, as bands vary)
HB_LOGO
07.11 CHESTER – THE COMPASS
Reign of Fury’s only HBB headline show
Chester
 
08.11 MANCHESTER – REBELLION BAR
Headline: Savage Messiah
Manchester
 
14.11 CAMDEN TOWN (FREE SHOW)
Headline: Anihilated
 
Camden
15.11 LONDON – BOSTON MUSIC ROOM
Headline: Fleshrot
London
 
05.12 NUNEATON – QUEENS HALL
Headline: Beholder
Nuneaton
 
06.12 BIRMINGHAM – THE FLAPPER
Headline: Lawnmower Deth ft. Dr Hell from Evil Scarecrow
Birmingham 1
 
13.12 GLOUCESTER – NEW OLYMPUS THEATRE
Headline: Bull Riff Stampede
Gloucester
 
17.01 BIRMINGHAM – NEW YEAR SHOW – THE FLAPPER
Headline: Onslaught
Birmingham 2
 
Head on over to Facebook and give the Balls’ page a like, also check out the individual events for further details.  This is a great opportunity to catch some fantastic metal bands, raise awareness of a killer disease and rack up some dosh for kids with cancer.  What more could you ask for?!
 

Interview with Screaming Steel

I recently caught up with Martin and Ryan from Hampshire-based rock band, Screaming Steel to talk about all sorts of lovely things, including their eclectic musical influences, how they came by their band name and … why they’re ‘friends’ with inflatable swords … enjoy!

 

Screaming Steel pic

– How was the recent Joiners gig (supporting Dendera) for you?  The crowd seemed to like you … the inflatable swords went down a storm!

Ryan:  It was the best response we’ve had so far and not just down to the inflatable swords, we hope. It’s always easier for the first band to be watched as the crowd are more engaged at that point, so we were chuffed that everyone turned up to watch.

Martin:  I really enjoyed the Joiners gig from where I was sitting.  Like Ryan said, it’s easier to be the first band on but at the same token, it can be a killer if no one turns up when the doors open.  We had to make an impact both visually and musically and the inflatable swords and the music were our friends on the night.  We all had a great time.

– How did you choose the name ‘Screaming Steel’?

Ryan:  I actually can’t remember!

Martin:  That was down to me, I recall.  We needed a “metal” name and I grabbed a band name generator from the net, specifically a metal one and after two attempts, Screaming Steel popped up, it was a no brainer as it just fitted the band perfectly.

– How would you describe your style?

Ryan:  Judas Priest with Pantera vibes

Martin:  I’d like to add that our style can’t be specific to one or two bands because every member of the band has different influences.  My music taste is very eclectic and I’m proud to admit it, so listening to different genres of music, from funk and soul to heavy metal, has defined my playing style.  If I had to put my finger on one ancestral origin for the band, I’d say NWOBHM (Saxon, Judas Priest, Iron Maiden and Black Sabbath).

– If you had to recommend one of your songs for a new fan to listen to, which one would you pick and why?

Ryan:  ‘Deathclaw’ or ‘Hammered’?

Martin:  I am particularly proud of ‘Rider’. Joe (our singer) phoned me just after I joined the band and said “You ride a motorbike don’t you?  I’m gonna write a song about riding a bike”; the rest is history.  ‘Rider’ shows all sides to “The Steel”, it’s just a pulsing great foot-tapper.  However, if I was to recommend a chanting metal anthem, it would be ‘Hammered’, a song we wrote in five minutes and has had little change in composition since its inception.  I have a great friend in California – he builds the best snare drums on the planet – I sent him a copy of our demo and within a week ‘Hammered’ was played on his local radio station (they had a charity day where they’d play anything you requested for a $20 donation) and the DJ’s were singing the chant during the song that was played after ‘Hammered’.  It was a proud moment to know we’d been played on radio in the USA.

– You’ve been doing your bit for charity lately, do you feel it’s important for bands to get involved in charity work, or do you just do it because it’s a local cause close to your hearts?

Martin:  Well, I can answer that one as charity gigs stem from links to me.  Last year in May, our first gig was a joint concert with various acts from the Isle of Wight who came together to perform a concert to raise funds for the Lottie Rann trust.  Lottie is my niece and to cut a long story short, contracted meningococcal meningitis twice. That type of meningitis is the most dangerous of all and can be a killer.  We all rejoiced when Lottie recovered from the first one, but when she got it a second time (which is a billion to one chance) she was paralysed from the neck down.  That was two years ago and now she’s in an electric wheelchair, has control over her limbs, can speak and is able to feed herself.  The concert was all for her, so that she had funds to get a wheelchair and all the adjustments to the family home to make it wheelchair friendly.  Ironically, I met Ryan and Joe for the first time the evening after Lottie contracted it for the second time to talk about joining them to form a band, so Lottie has been there from the beginning of The Steel and thus is a cause close to the heart of the band.

We are doing a joint charity night in Ryde, Isle of Wight in November for another charity cause that’s personal to me – Ryde Inshore Rescue.  Recently some nasty individual took a screwdriver to both of the rigid inflatable lifeboats and destroyed their capability to save lives.  Both boats were out of action and still are right now, but they’re being fixed.  So both The Steel and another band I am in (Ozzy Osbourne tribute band We Waz Ozzy) are doing a gig to raise funds for RIR.

Obviously we can’t perform for every charity we’d like, but charities that are close to us get our undeserved attention.

– You recently acquired a new bassist; how has that affected the band dynamic?

Ryan:  Dramatically, he has reaped new life into the dexterity or our playing and writing.

Martin:  When James, our founder bassist decided to leave we thought it would be a struggle to find a replacement, but we found Sam through an internet ad and he’s brought an explosive dynamic to the band that we’d never thought possible.  He’s brought fun and oodles of enthusiasm and the whole direction of the music has improved, he really is a diamond (but don’t tell him I said so!).

– I understand you’re currently writing some new material, can we expect to see a release soon?

Martin:  With Sam on board, we’re foregoing songs that were in the pipeline for songs that the four of us have written together, normally through a warm-up jam at rehearsals.  The new material, like ‘Deathclaw’, is an improvement from the past songs, and we’d like to think we’ll have enough new material to start recording an album in the early part of 2015.

– Who influences you musically?

Ryan:  Everyone!

Martin:  Where do I start?  Drumming-wise, it started off with Phil Collins and Phil Gould (drummer for Level42) but as I progressed with my playing and listening to different music, I have a plethora of drummers who I’ve pinched ideas from.  Musically, I’m a big fan of 80’s American hair metal (Poison, Cinderella, Mötley Crüe and Dokken, to name a few) and that whole genre has become a major influence and source of playing ideas.

– If you could tour with any band, alive or dead, who would you choose and why?

Ryan:  Metallica, just because they are Metallica.

Martin:  I’d like to say Led Zeppelin but then our performance would have to be legendary for the audience to remember us.  Opening for our heroes like Judas Priest and Iron maiden would be a real compliment.  And I love Rammstein, so supporting them would be just as cool.

– What do you think about the current state of the music industry?  Where do you see rock and metal heading in the next 5-10 years?

Ryan:  It’s pretty much a developing world with metal. It has been around since ‘69 and has a very stable dynamic in the musical world. The fact it’s managed to stay a niche for so long is fantastic and keeps itself fresh. New bands come and go; eventually the style shifts slightly but usually for the mainstream, not the fans. Metal is an intellectual people’s music and will always be a back burner of any household from Thin Lizzy to Dimmu Borgir. I hope I’m still part of it in 10 years, or at least helping to shape it.

Martin:  Ryan has summed it up perfectly.  I see that rock will never die, it’s just ace to see young kids walking round with Guns ‘n’ Roses t-shirts and them actually knowing who G’n’R are.  You never see youngsters walking round wearing a t-shirt of a boy band from 20 years ago.  Rock will never die, it’s too awesome.

– What’s the plan for the next 12-18 months?

Ryan:  Ride the unknown!

Martin:  I’d like to think that The Steel will collect new friends, or ‘Screamers’ as we call them.  I’d also like to see us record some of our songs, we have some great feedback from people who’ve been to our gigs and they’ve been hungry for an album size collection of material.  The great unknown, as Ryan put it, is actually where it’s at, we can’t predict our future but if we’re healthy, still great mates and having a blast, then that would be the best thing to look forward to.

 

Catch the video for ‘Deathclaw’, filmed at the Joiners gig https://www.facebook.com/video.php?v=664586440301511 – you can also check out Screaming Steel at www.facebook.com/ScreamingSteel

 

Work hard, play hard, engage or die …

So.  I’ve just had a bit of a rant over on Facebook (no change there), but it actually made me so cross that I actually felt I had to write a ‘piece’ about it.  Of course, it’s only my humble opinion, but it makes sense to me!

Bands that quit when the going gets tough.  There.  I’ve said it and I’m almost foaming at the mouth again just with those eight words.  I went on to a band’s Facebook page this morning, only to discover that they have changed their name and started again.  Fine, no problem with that.  The pinned post at the top of the new page, however, was a great long diatribe about how they’ve given their all for however many years but feel that they can’t continue, blah, blah, blah.  It was a self indulgent whine about how hard it is these days, what with venues closing up and down the country, the music scene dying off and basically slating the very people who have kept them going, because they’re moaning that no-one ever came to see them.  It may not surprise you to learn that I have some thoughts on this.

Firstly, your music was probably mediocre anyway.  You can get quite a long way with the support of a few hundred fans even when your music is crap.  It’s called ‘loyalty’ and these are the people that will come out and see you, buy your tee-shirts and wristbands and spend money they haven’t got on travelling to some godforsaken hole in the middle of nowhere, even if they know in their heart of hearts that actually, you’re not that good.  Hey, you might improve and they’ve already invested time and money, so they’re sticking with you because they feel part of something and are glad to be involved from the start.  I know, because I have done this many times (and just occasionally, I’ve backed a winner).

Secondly, everybody accepts that the music scene, particularly rock and metal, is changing.  If it doesn’t adapt to roll with the way the music industry as a whole is evolving, it will die.  All those millions of fans (yes, they’re still there, contrary to popular belief) don’t want it to die, so they keep buying the music and merch.  If the band is good enough and fully committed, they will make the effort to get off of their sofas and come and see them.

This brings me to the heart of the problem.  I don’t consider myself to be an expert in all things music, nor do I claim to be some kind of social media guru or have a degree in the music buying and gig-going habits of the general public.  I do, however, listen to a lot of music, spend a lot of time on social media, talk to a lot of musicians and have some contacts in the music industry who like to wax lyrical about every music fan’s favourite topic these days.  So, based on my experience and in my humble opinion, I’m just going to put this out there.  Bands that quit – YOU’RE PART OF THE PROBLEM.  There.  I feel so much better …

These days, musicians have to roll their sleeves up and get their hands dirty.  They need to get on the phone, become a keyboard warrior, engage to a new level with their fans and basically work their fine arses off just to exist in the world of rock and metal.  Yes, it’s hard.  Yes, venues ARE closing up and down the country (and I’m not commenting on that specifically – it’s a whole other article), but I see it this way; when I go to a gig with a band who is good, whether it’s a well-known and loved venue or some flea pit that nobody has ever heard of, they will pack it out.  If it is a band that is, at best, mediocre and who are giving a half hearted effort (and who haven’t bothered to create a buzz around them and build a fan base online as well), of course it’s not going to be busy and they won’t get invited back.  Word will spread and yes, they will find that nobody comes to see them.  Stick with me, I do have a point and I am getting to it.

My memory of the nineties ‘heyday’ is hazy, but I don’t recall there being quite so many bands who were on the local gigging circuit.  Also, musicians seemed to stick with one band, for the most part and worked bloody hard at it (and played hard too).  I don’t remember many crap bands, although I’m sure there must have been some, but the gigs that I went to were always pretty much packed.  These days, there seem to be bands coming out of our ears and sadly, some of them should never have picked up instruments in the first place.  Don’t get me wrong, it’s great that virtually everyone has the opportunity now and feels able to give it a go, but frankly, it’s a cut-throat business and it’s over-saturated with new music.  If you don’t take it seriously, or you’re in it for the money, then you may as well hang up your drumsticks because you’re never going to make it, unless you get through via some steaming pile of excrement that passes for a talent show these days.

I’m going to name some bands here – I have chosen them purely because I have seen first-hand how hard they work to keep their heads above water.  So, bands such as Heaven’s Basement, The Dirty Youth, and Feral Sun actually work their arses off.  They cane their social media, making sure they engage with their fans – you can knock me for saying that all the time, but it’s the only way to go these days.  They make a superhuman effort to make sure that they keep selling their merch, because let’s face it, that’s where the money is nowadays, it certainly isn’t going to come from album sales alone now that we’re in the age of the digital download.  The Dirty Youth have successfully got people involved with going down the crowd-funding route.  Feral Sun have risked everything by self-financing their debut album to get it out there into the public domain.  Most importantly, each and every time they get up on that stage, they make sure they give it 110%; and on the rare occasions that they don’t, they acknowledge it and make damned sure that they do it better the next time.

All of these bands started from nothing and whilst they’re not yet at the top of the mountain, they’re making sure that they have everything in place to be able to reach the top whilst other bands are dropping off around them.  Crucially, they are also extremely approachable with fans and will bend over backwards to make a gig an experience that people will remember and want to repeat.  Music has become a customer service industry and if you’re not a people person, then you need to become one, or make sure that the rest of the band are.

There’s so much competition out there these days that bands need to be doing it bigger and better than everyone else.  If you turn up to a gig, have faces like smacked arses, don’t engage with the people that support you, play your set in a somewhat mediocre and uninspired fashion and then leave without seeing any other bands or speaking to your fans, you don’t deserve to be taking that slot.  Give it up to someone who is hungrier for it than you are, because they’ll give it everything they have to try and get to the top.

www.facebook.com/themusicjourno

Interview with Dendera

 Stalwarts of the Hampshire metal scene, DENDERA smashed their headline gig at the Joiners at the end of July – I caught up with them for a brief chat beforehand.

Dendera band pic

Your first album, ‘The Killing Floor’ was well received; what can we expect from album no. 2 and when might it be released?

The album will hopefully be released in the first half of 2015. We are really excited about the new album, the new material is sounding heavier, bigger and maybe a bit more modern, but still has a distinct Dendera sound.

How do you keep your writing innovative and fresh when people come to expect a certain style from you?

Our influences are always developing and changing with what we are into at the moment, but when we write together the end result is consistent with the sound we are aiming for.

You cite many influences as a band, including Iron Maiden and I’ve heard many people say that you sound like them.  Does that bother you or do you take it as a compliment?

Any comparison to one of the best metal bands in the world can only be taken as compliment. We write music that we love and like to play, and so our influences will always come into the music. But that’s not to say we will always sound the same as we are always striving to find our own niche.

Have you any touring plans for the rest of this year?

If an opportunity arises we will definitely take it, however our priority is making the best album possible.

You’ve played with some big names, including Saxon, Soulfly and Gloryhammer.  Who have you most enjoyed sharing a bill with?

We’ve loved sharing the stage with all those acts and the Gloryhammer tour was definitely a highlight. I think we will all have our own personal favourites for example, Steve playing with one of his guitar heroes Vivian Campbell with Last in Line.

If you had to choose one Dendera track to introduce a new fan to the band, which would it be and why?

If we had to choose one it would be Senlac Hill, we feel this shows our own sound and where we come from and our influences in one package.

You already have an existing, loyal fan base; how do you engage with people to promote the band?  Do you think social media helps or hinders bands’ growth?

Social media is a valuable tool and allows bands to directly connect with their fans all over the world. It’s helped us to grow our fan base and reach people that would never had, had the opportunity to see us live at this point. In terms of engaging with fans we are a very social band at live shows and always try and interact with our fans.

What’s been the biggest Dendera highlight so far?

It would be hard to decide between releasing our debut album or the UK tour with Gloryhammer.

Dendera the killing floor

If you could tour or record with any band or artist (current or past), who would it be and why?

You would probably expect us to say Iron Maiden and that would be amazing, but we all have our own particular favourites! Whilst Tony would say Van Halen, Steve would say Dream theater.

I watched the Gloryhammer tour diary from last year – most amusing!  You’re like one big family; who throws the toys out of their pram the most when you’re touring?

Thanks for watching our tour documentary! Others can watch it at the link http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FpIZnbzc5Jc . In all honesty, on the road we all get along so well so there aren’t many toys being thrown. If we were to pick something though Andy doesn’t seem to enjoy falling flat on his arse in the shower whilst hungover!

What’s your opinion of the state of the local/national music scene?

Based on our most recent headline show the local music scene seems to be doing well. That being said, it takes a lot of effort from bands and fans alike to keep it going. We all need to pull together to help it thrive.

What’s next for Dendera?

After recently joining AMP Management, the new album on the horizon and big tour plans for next year it’s a really exciting time. We can’t wait to show everybody what we have got coming. Can we also take this time to thank everybody who has supported us so far. We love you all!

See the link below for the Rock Regeneration review of Dendera’s headline gig last month at the Joiners in Southampton.  You can catch them again when they support Phil Campbell’s All Starr Band back at the Joiners on 29th August 2014 – it’s sure to be a huge gig and tickets have been flying out – message Dendera via their Facebook page for further details!

www.facebook.com/DenderaUK

www.dendera.co.uk

http://www.rock-regeneration.co.uk/wordpress/2014/07/denderatoledo-steeldeath-headscreaming-steel/

Slipknot release new single ‘The Negative One’

slipknot the negative one

Legions of maggots all over the world are wetting themselves with joy right now to be hearing the new Slipknot single ‘The Negative One’.  I like the band, although I’m not a super fan, but I thought I had better give the track a listen in the name of research.

It has everything that we’ve come to expect from the ‘Knot.  I had the volume right up and I feel like my brain has been pulverised.  Although it is unmistakeably Slipknot’s style, it’s wholly new for 2014 and our heroes are back with a vengeance.  Let’s face it, with all the issues they’ve had and with a six year gap between the last studio album and the forthcoming effort, they could either have folded, or come back with something pretty special … and that’s what this is – a massive middle finger up to all the haters.

Corey Taylor sounds angrier than ever and there are some serious musical props going out to him and his boys for knocking out such a tight, killer track.  I foresee absolute pit carnage in clubs up and down the country when this hits the turntables.

The video is set for release on 5th August, but in the meantime you can find the audio here: –

http://youtu.be/B3K_q3PpKpY

www.slipknot1.com

Review of Download Festival 2014

Review of Download Festival, 13/14/15 June 2014

Arriving on the Thursday night at Donington Park in bright sunshine just felt … wrong, somehow.  Where was the rain?  The mud?  Why was I sitting round a BBQ with a beer instead of huddling miserably inside my tent?  I decided I would live with it, although I was strangely comforted when I was woken by the sound of rain during the night …

Download 3

FRIDAY

Expecting a sodden swamp, I stumbled out of my tent to find a few clouds but no mud, no rain and it was ridiculously warm.  Perfect weather for a beer and some live music so I wandered into the arena just as Miss May I took to the main stage.  The American five-piece band brought their brand of metalcore to a bright eyed and bushy-tailed Download crowd who seemed to enjoy the interaction and thundering music on the main stage.  I left them to it and headed to the Red Bull Studios tent, which is where I pretty much spent my whole weekend.  The first band on that stage were Goldray and I must admit when I saw the guitarist’s spangly jacket, coupled with the long red dress and headdress the vocalist was sporting, I nearly turned tail and walked out.  They weren’t bad, however, sort of a less heavy Die So Fluid and the vocalist had good ability.

I found next band, Bad Touch on twitter some months ago and I was eager to see them up close and personal.  I have to say they didn’t disappoint, however I found them to be similar to Irish rockers, The Answer.  There was a good crowd, however and singer Stevie did a great job of engaging their audience.  A short walk took me over to the Jägermeister acoustic stage for Brother and Bones.    They had drawn a very decent-sized crowd and were playing out of their skin with their funky, melodic rock.  The performance was pretty intense, with the entire band absolutely rocking out and the crowd was lapping it up, totally engaged with the fresh sound.  Their set was wrapped up after some first class musicianship and vocals and there was some pretty nice guitar sliding going on too.  One of my highlights of the weekend, for sure.

Brother and Bones

Brother and Bones

Chilling out on the grass with a beer, I managed to catch the set from Mia Klose, albeit from ground level.  Swedish Mia’s voice is somewhat of an acquired taste and whilst I can see why the band is generating a buzz, it wasn’t really my thing.  I also thought their cover of Guns ‘n’ Roses classic ‘Paradise City’ to be a bit weak.  Another band I caught by ear only was They Say Fall – a packed Red Bull tent was chanting for them and their post hardcore style went over very well with the crowd.  All I could hear from outside the tent was distorted guitars; I can only imagine how it sounded from the inside.

I headed over to the Zippo Encore stage to meet up with some friends and happened upon The Answer.  I’ve seen them before and thought they were really good performers live, however I felt that this set was a little samey, although featuring some superb guitar solos and vocals.  There was a decent size crowd to pay homage to their Irish rock roots however and they seemed to go down a storm.  The next band had my full attention and they absolutely smashed the Zippo stage.  The Temperance Movement gave a stunning performance, although I thought the crowd could have been bigger considering the buzz that the band has been generating over the last eighteen months.  The set featured a supremely funky bass guitar solo and last track ‘Midnight Black’ was sublime, ensuring that they ended with rapturous applause.

TTM 4

The Temperance Movement

I thought it couldn’t get much better, but I was proved wrong straight away by Californian groove rockers Rival Sons, who kicked off with a raunchy number and didn’t look back as they grabbed the crowd by their collective short and curlies and took us on a roller coaster of rock.  They’ve just released a new album, ‘Great Western Valkyrie’ and I’ll be buying it as soon as.  Definitely ones to watch – they’re going to be huge.

Rival Sons

Rival Sons

It’s taken me 20 years to get to see Rob Zombie live on stage and although he was worth waiting for, I did feel that his set lacked a little something.  It certainly wasn’t energy; he was running around the stage like a man half his age, chancing his arm by walking along the front barrier in the crowd, collecting a blow up sex doll and taking it back to the stage.  My favourite track, ‘Thunder Kiss ‘65’’ was included and an encore brought out the crowd pleasing ‘Dragula’.

At this point, the sky began to darken ominously, right on cue for Avenged Sevenfold.  With a theatrical backdrop and pyrotechnics aplenty, this was always going to be a spectacular set given how popular this band has become, with the release of ‘Hail to the King’ cementing their status as one of the decade’s most celebrted rock acts.  Kicking off the fun and games with ‘Shepherd of Fire’ from the aforementioned album, the crowd were straight into the performance, all singing along and enjoying a bit of banter from front man M Shadows.  The set featured some older material, such as ‘Burn It Down’ from the ‘City of Evil’ album and ‘Buried Alive’.  There was an emotional tribute to fallen hero Jimmy Sullivan in ‘So Far Away’, but the set ended on a massive high with yet more  pyros and some fireworks, bringing an epic first day to a close.

A7X 2

Avenged Sevenfold

Saturday

Everyone was talking about the enigmatic Iceman Thesis on Saturday morning, with rumours abounding as to who could possibly be in the band, as they were playing on two stages simultaneously.  Our group split in half and I got to the Red Bull tent to see a mannequin on stage, with a hessian sack over the head, an IT tee-shirt adorning the body.  When the band took to the stage, they sported full black face masks so it was impossible to tell who they were.  After ten minutes of brutality in a packed tent, the set ended as abruptly as it had begun, with members of the band throwing bits of mannequin and hessian head sacks into the audience.  Nobody was any the wiser.

It must have been hard for the next act to follow that, but Cytota managed admirably.  Heavy and very popular, judging by the amount of people crammed in to see them, the band had an amazing energy about them and the guitarist got up close and personal with the crowd, demanding that they start a circle.  Not a bad start to the day and I can’t wait to see what they do next.  Breathe In The Silence followed and it as frustrating that I couldn’t really hear the vocals properly.  The singer lost vocals anyway; as he swung his mic round the end flew off into the crowd and he had to wait a little bit before we could actually hear something again.  They certainly made up for any lack of substance in enthusiasm and gave a great lesson in how to carry on when things go wrong.

I headed over to the main stage again to catch a bit of Bury Tomorrow.  The lead singer was inciting people to start circles, even though technically, that wasn’t allowed this year.  I did like the fact that he told us all that the band “don’t take themselves too seriously” and then asked everyone to lie down and jump up at the count of 4.  They even had separate ‘girl’ pits and ‘dude’ pits going, which worked for about 20 seconds and was fairly amusing.  I left halfway through their set to go and catch Chasing Cadence on the Red Bull stage.  Playing to an empty tent is never a good sign, but more people gradually started to drift in as CC got  down and dirty on stage.  They were very enthusiastic performers with some eager supporters in the crowd and they belted out fan favourites such as ‘A Sight For Sore Eyes’ and latest single ‘Paper Sails’.  They also threw some free stuff out into the crowd, which always goes down well.  These guys were clearly stoked to be playing Download and that’s what it’s about; a sterling performance from them.  Japanese metalcore outfit Coldrain followed and they had the crowd bouncing from the very first scream.  I only saw three songs from them, but they were well received and I would like to catch another gig to see them properly.

Chasing Cadence 2

Chasing Cadence

Killswitch Engage are a band I’ve never really got into, although I‘ve only ever heard good things about them.  I always thought they were a bit heavy for me, but I caught most of their set and I loved it.  It was awesome the way they incited the crowd to “engage in responsible forms of dancing”, i.e., to get a pit going and look out for one another.  The crowd were well into them and very appreciative and they created a good atmosphere.

Although by now I was flagging a bit (not enough beer …), I headed back to my second home of the Red Bull tent to catch Nothing More who recently featured on the Introducing page in Kerrang! Magazine.  I thought the sparse crowd were a bit lukewarm, however it did start to fill up quite quickly once they got going.  They had a second, basic drum kit at the front of the stage and after the second or third song, the bassist clamped his guitar to a stand attached to it, whilst three of them proceeded to play it.  It was a strange set, but the crowd ended up loving them and I think we’ll see big things from these guys.  Certainly I would catch them again.

Finally, it was time for the big set of the day for me.  I had been looking forward to Bring Me The Horizon for weeks and although they were on quite early, there was still a massive crowd waiting for Oli Sykes & Co.  They kicked proceedings off with huge track ‘Shadow Moses’, from last year’s immense album ‘Sempiternal’.  The crowd went mad at the front, with sneering front man Oli inciting a wall of death.  ‘The House of Wolves’ followed with Oli imploring the crowd to jump.  More awesome power tracks from the album of last year followed, including ‘Go To Hell, For Heaven’s Sake’, ‘Empire (Let Them Sing)’ and ‘Can You Feel My Heart’.  Oli had everybody down on the floor, springing up to ‘Antivist’, finally concluding a stellar set with ‘Sleepwalking’.  This was a set that stuck a middle finger up to the haters and showed the world that BMTH should, and probably will, be headlining Download very soon.  In the meantime, we have the massive Wembley show in December to look forward to – a fact that Mr Sykes didn’t let us forget.

BMTH 3

Bring Me The Horizon

Penultimate band of the night was electro-punk rockers The Howling, back in the Red Bull tent.  Blacky, Rev and the boys were in fine form, opening up a storming set with ‘Rock ‘n’ Roller’.  Considering they clashed with main stage headliners Linkin Park, they drew a considerable crowd and proceeded to rip through a killer set, with outstanding energy and enthusiasm.  I particularly liked the way they had somebody moving through the crowd handing out fake AAA passes, it was a nice touch that ensured people wouldn’t forget their set, but frankly that would have been hard to do anyway.

I couldn’t not head back to catch some of Linkin Park; ‘Hybrid Theory’ was a seminal work that I listened to non-stop when it came out and I was rewarded with just over half the album in all of its live, blistering glory.  I still know the words and I sang along quite happily with the rest of the songs.  I found the rest of their set a little bit tedious, probably only because I wasn’t familiar with the newer work, but I heard a few mutterings along the same lines as I made my way back to the camp site.  Still, it was great to see Linkin Park live as I had never seen them before, so again, I finished the night a happy bunny!

Sunday

I have to confess, I was feeling pretty hung over on the Sunday morning, so we were late getting into the arena, however operating on the ‘go hard or go home’ theory, I grabbed a beer and headed straight to the Pepsi Max tent to see screamers The Charm The Fury.  They’re a female-fronted outfit from The Netherlands and not only is the lead singer an amazing vocal talent, but the musicians around her were also first class.  They hammered through a competent set which saw a packed tent showing their whole-hearted appreciation.  I stayed in Pepsi Max to see some of The Graveltones’ set, however it wasn’t really my sort of thing so I left after about three songs, but their funky, punk-rock stylings seemed to have quite a few fans in the tent.

Buckcherry were up next on the main stage, just after the heavens opened for a legendary Download shower.  They rolled through some of their best songs, including ‘Lit Up’ and ‘All Night Long’, but to be honest, I just wasn’t feeling it.  Maybe it was the rain, maybe it was the thought of going home that night, but I just couldn’t get into them.  Likewise with Richie Sambora, I was watching him, but he wasn’t really holding my attention.  I found his set kind of mellow and I appreciated the Bon Jovi covers of ‘Lay Your Hands On Me’ and ‘Dead Or Alive’.  I also really liked ‘Stranger In This Town’, but I’m not sure I would have chosen to see him outside of Download.  Joe Bonamassa on the other hand, had my full attention.  I’d not seen him before although of course I had heard about his legendary guitar playing.  I also thought he had an awesome voice and I thoroughly enjoyed his set, which included tracks such as ‘Slow Train’ and ‘Who Killed John Henry’.

‘Secret’ band Black Stone Cherry absolutely brought the house down at the Pepsi Max tent.  I understand they were a last minute addition to the bill, hence the placing on a small stage.  It turns out that there were around 20,000 people in and around the tent for their performance and I can well believe it – I couldn’t get anywhere near as I made the mistake of sitting down for five minutes beforehand.  I did hear them though and they completely killed it with tracks such as ‘Me and Mary Jane’, ‘White Trash Millionaire’ and ‘Blame It On The Boom Boom’.  All I could see was a sea of hands in the air as the crowd sang along to every track – absolutely awesome.

I almost didn’t head back to the Red Bull tent for the last time, however I wanted to see Canadian Reignwolf.  I almost missed them, but I’m so glad I didn’t.  I saw singer/guitarist Jordan Cook standing on a branded bass drum at the front of the stage and this seemed to be bluesy, dirty rock and roll at its finest.  By the time they were on their fourth song, the tent was well over half full and the crowd were going mad for it.  Jordan then decided to play the drums, whilst still playing his guitar – I’ve never seen anything like it.  He got short shrift from security though, when he climbed up on the amps to play; they were there like a shot to get him down.  The set finished with a track called ‘This Is The Time’ – rather appropriate for Reignwolf, I think.

Reignwolf

Reignwolf

On a bit of a high, I headed back to the main stage to see my band of the moment, Alter Bridge.  I had been waiting all weekend for this and as Myles Kennedy and Co appeared on stage and launched into the opening notes of ‘Addicted To Pain’, I remembered why I come to Download every year.  ‘White Knuckles’ and ‘Cry of Achilles’ followed and all I could do was sing along and stare helplessly up at the big screens as the band pumped out one belting track after another as the crowd revelled in singing along with Myles.  Halfway through the set he introduced the band, walking out along the barrier, singing to one lucky lady in the front row.  A stunning rendition of ‘Blackbird’ followed and I was moved to tears by ‘Watch Over You’.  Mark Tremonti did a sterling job with ‘Waters Rising’ and as they brought their set to a close, Mr Kennedy was looking suitably humbled and pleased with such a great reaction.  It was a truly awesome set and I found it hard to believe that Aerosmith would be able to top it …

Alter Bridge 3

Alter Bridge

So, we came to the headliners.  Aerosmith headlined Donington Monsters of Rock in ’94, which was the last time I saw them.  When they came out on stage, I found myself thinking that there was no way these guys could put on a good show –  after all, nobody is getting any younger right?  So. Wrong.  Aerosmith exploded on to the stage with ‘Train Kept A Rollin’; Steven Tyler resplendent in an Indian head-dress and an all-white outfit, still looking every inch the rock star.  Hit after hit followed, including ‘Eat The Rich’, the iconic ‘Love In An Elevator’, ‘Cryin’’ and ‘Living on the Edge’.  Unfortunately, we had a very long drive back home, so we had to leave at that point, but I could still hear them playing as we headed back to the car and I can only say that, from what I saw and heard, Aerosmith were pretty as much as good live now as they were all those years ago and I’m a bit gutted that we didn’t stay until the end.

Overall, it was a fantastic weekend, with only a few minor band clashes.  The toilets were clean, the stewards, for the most part, were polite and helpful and there were only small queues in the beer tents.  Download just keeps improving every year and although it will be hard to top the last three years, I’ll still be buying a ticket for 2015.  Why?  Because it’s where I feel at home, standing in a crowd with thousands of other people, singing along to my favourite songs, watching my idols up there on that stage.  As the Kiss song goes “This is my music, it makes me proud, these are my people and this is my crowd …”.  So yes, I’ll be back next year for sure.  With bells on.

Preview – Soil, American Head Charge & (hed)p.e

Fresh on the heels of a string of massively successful US appearances, with a tranche of upcoming dates across Europe later this year, UK dates have now been announced for Soil, American Head Charge and (hed)p.e.  All UK dates will be supported by 8 Foot Sativa and details can be found below: –

SOIL pic

Sun 19 Oct  –  Southampton, 1865

Tue 21 Oct  –  London, Electric Ballroom

Wed 22 Oct  –  York, Fibbers

Thu 23 Oct  –  Glasgow, The Garage

Fri 24 Oct  –  Sheffield, Corporation

Sat 25 Oct  –  Manchester, Club Academy

Sun 26 Oct    Chester, Live Rooms

Tue 28 Oct  –  Weymouth, Pavilion

Wed 29 Oct  –  Bristol, Bierkeller

Thu 30 Oct  –  Wolverhampton, Slade Rooms

Fri 31 Oct  –  Reading, Sub 89

Sat 01 Nov  –  Nottingham, Rescue Rooms

Soil’s sixth album ‘Whole’ was released in late 2013 and by the band’s own admission, it marks a return to the hugely successful ‘Scars’ era – an album which spawned the iconic track ‘Halo’.  Soil have now sold over a million records worldwide in a career spanning over 15 years.

Tickets are sure to fly for this one, so get yours today!

Tickets – http://www.ticketweb.co.uk/artist/soil-tickets/14139

Soil – http://www.facebook.com/SOiLmusic

American Head charge – https://www.facebook.com/AmericanHeadCharge 

(hed)p.e – https://www.facebook.com/hedpe

8 Foot Sativa – https://www.facebook.com/8FOOTSATIVABAND

Interview with Feral Sun @ Camden Barfly, 03.05.14

Interview with FERAL SUN, 03.05.14 @ The Barfly, Camden

You’ve just released your album ‘Evacuate’, how’s the feedback been so far?

Jay: We’ve been pretty stoked to get the positive feedback that we’ve been receiving. It’s our debut album and the people that have been picking up the album and buying it – the fans, which we massively appreciate and then industry people such as radio stations and all the other’s who’ve picked it up so far, the reviews have been really positive. We’ve also been stoked to get some of the real positive responses, as in the “fresh sound” comments, some of the bands people are saying we sound like and being put in a similar category as some of those bigger bands. To hear those kind of responses is our dream. Now it’s about trying to get it out there more, with more people hearing it.

Well, you’ve certainly been getting lots of radio play, you’ve got Emma Scott (formerly of Kerrang!) plugging you and you’re only about halfway through your tour?

Mick: Just before the halfway mark with the current dates and hopefully soon some more dates may be added. It’s going well.

Evacuate

Are you seeing people coming back to different shows or is it different faces every night?

Marco: Random people who happen to be there are looking forward to the next show and are then following us around.

Jay: It’s quite awesome when you go to a gig somewhere completely different and whether it’s a small venue or somewhere a little bit bigger, to see some of the same people that you saw in another town, that’s an awesome feeling. It’s amazing; you can’t get a better feeling than that.

Those people will grow with you as you get bigger as well … I saw something on Facebook about a South African tour – is that something that may definitely happen?

Jay: The band is originally from there, Mick is from Pretoria …

Mick: I’ve been talking to a big booking agent in South Africa and they’re really interested in getting us over there, but we need to make it worth their while, so if we fill up venues or bring 20,000 or 30,000 to a festival. They’re looking for sponsors and we’re promoting and getting our name out there. It’s been a fantastic start, with SA radio exclusives and interviews; in the first two weeks, we got onto to the top 10 most wanted charts in my home town and we stayed there for 5 weeks, only being beaten by Metallica’s ‘Nothing Else Matters’, for two weeks in a row. It’s just been great, from there on we’ve done ‘Breathe’ and ‘The Long Road’ and had a great response, so we’re just waiting for them to get the sponsors ready. We can look at doing it ourselves but we’ve got so many places now – people from America are asking us when we’re going to be over there, and Belgium, The Netherlands – we have radio stations over there playing us every day now. We’re thinking we’ll start with the European market and then take it from there. If the SA tour comes about, we’ll gladly be going.

You’re really starting to spread far and wide!

Mick: It seems that way, slowly but surely. Yesterday or the day before (on Facebook), I just happened to find these Italians talking about us, saying that we sounded a bit like Stonesour; I’m not friends with them or anything so that was great so we’re starting to see things happening, on twitter it’s also going well.

Jay: We’re not doing anything major, nothing on a grand, Wembley stadium scale in the slightest, but it’s just great to feel that people are listening to the music and coming to the shows.

Mick: One step at a time …

So, Wembley, is that the ultimate goal?!

Jay: My goal is just to keep on rocking for as long as I can, to be honest.

Mick: How far can we take it? If we don’t reach Wembley, it’s not the end of the world.

Marco: The amazing thing is that, of course we’re working hard, but doing all of this, we’re still having fun, we’re still enjoying it and people are having a good time with us.

Alex: That’s the main factor which drives you to do the gigs, once I’ve stopped having fun, maybe I’ll quit music!

Mick: I think the crowd feeds off of our having fun, onstage or off stage. Now that we’ve set up we can relax, have a few beers and it starts now. I’m sure most bands say it, but we are one of the easiest working bands, we haven’t had troubles with anyone along the way.

Jay: We like to try and be one of the easiest working bands, just the kind of band that just wants to play, you know? We’re just trying to have a good time.

Alex: It’s a really good chemistry.

Interview shot - Heath Bateman

(Picture courtesy of Heath Bateman)

You have people coming to different shows again and again from different places, are these people that have been there since day one?

Marco: There are a few that have been there from the beginning, from the first few gigs. Actually the good thing is that they’re trying to spread the word and bringing along more friends and people.

Mick: We haven’t got to actually doing it yet, but hopefully by the end of this year or next, as there has been a lot of demand for it, we can hire a coach and bring a lot of our friends and fans to Birmingham.

Marco: The first time we played Birmingham there were people coming up from London, travelled by train to see us. They were singing along and wearing tee shirts.

Jay: Yeah, and they came and stayed with us! They crashed where we crashed. They came all the way to Birmingham so we said come and party with us and they crashed with us. They’ve already spent money on public transport …

Do you find that people bring things to shows for you?

Mick: Our last gig was my birthday and there was a lovely birthday card from three of the DJ’s from Rock and Roll Circus and a birthday cake as well. I did have a bit of a worry as I saw James Hetfield get completely destroyed at Sonisphere with cake on his birthday and I thought, where’s this cake going?!

Marco: To be honest, we thought about it … but it had candles on it, we didn’t want hot candles burning his face!

Taking it right back, how did you settle on the band name?

Mick: Originally, it came from Wild Child and it just didn’t go with the way the sound was going. South Africa was very grungy at that time, with Nirvana and Pearl Jam etc. When we changed members in SA, I looked into a Webster’s dictionary and saw ‘feral’ as another name for wild, but I didn’t think Feral Child would go down very well. Then I thought bring SA into it, and everyone kept saying the music had energy so it became Feral Sun. Around that time MySpace was kicking off and the name was one of one – it wasn’t on there already and when I got here, we got the domain name, feralsun.com. The only thing we couldn’t get was Facebook, we lost the name when we changed to a page, so we had to go with Feral Sun Rock. Anyway, it’s an absolute gold mine of a name and people seem to like it from what I’ve heard.

When you’re writing, what sort of influences do you draw on?

Jay: All four of us bring something different. I’m a metal head, but I’m also a hip-hop, drum ‘n’ bass and dub-step head. Classical music, jazz and funk flavours … I started playing drums because I got given a rock tape, so I was always a rock drummer, rather than going the urban route. My influences are rock-metal, metal to get me the flavours that I need to push to for the next album, drumming-wise, but I still have this automatic urban groove flavour.

Alex: For me, I cannot say if I’m driven by jazz influences, rock or nu-metal, for me the main thing is to look at the song as a listener. It doesn’t matter if I play it or not, but I just want to stand outside and listen to it and see if it needs to be changed and it doesn’t matter what kind of influences, the main thing is that the product is a song to be delivered to the people and they accept it.

Marco: We’re all from different countries but we’re all into rock. Coming from different backgrounds we pull all of that into the music itself, a bit of everywhere. As a guitar player I always aim for the big guitar heroes, but I listen to classical music, more rock. But I think it’s the way we bring that to the band that makes the difference, not what we listen to.

Mick: Everybody is influenced by somebody. Definitely all the 90’s grunge bands, everyone from the Pixies all the way through to Soundgarden and Alice In Chains. Nowadays I’m into Karnivool, Trivium, Killswitch Engage – at the end of the day, you take your influences, then you try and write something that is Feral Sun. Nobody can pinpoint us to one band, which is great. If one person says a song sounds like Stonesour and someone else says it sounds like Soundgarden, to me that’s like, wow, you are comparing us to massive bands. Everyone needs to compare a new band the first time they listen to them, because it’s something familiar to them.

Alex: Sometimes when we write new songs, somebody will get the idea which sounds great but then it turns out that somebody else already used a similar melody or rhythm and we don’t want to copy anyone, we just want to be an original band.

Marco: It’s very complicated nowadays, there are so many bands!

Mick: It’s finding the recipe between something that we’re happy to play on stage and also something that the crowd is going to enjoy.

If you could play with any band, alive or dead, current or past, who would it be and why?

Jay: I think I would love to support someone like Karnivool because they’re just ridiculous. We’re a different sound to them, but I just think being able to come off stage and watch those guys rip it to pieces after us …

Marco: My biggest dream would be to share the stage with Dream Theater. I don’t think that would happen as we’re so different, but they’re my favourite band.

Alex: I’m going to be unoriginal but I would love to play with Metallica, just to say to James Hetfield, thank you for my childhood, because that’s what made my childhood, so I’d like to shake his hand and say thank you very much.

Mick: This is a tough one. Can I say two, as it would be very close between Soundgarden and Pearl Jam. The two biggest influences vocally in my music career and they’re still going, still writing great tunes. I think we could definitely support both of them quite easily!

You’re currently un-signed, do you feel pressure to get a ‘record deal’ as people would understand the term?

Jay: I don’t think we feel pressure, I think we’re stoked to have some real hard working band members; Mick carries a lot of the administration side of the band on his shoulders. Everybody in the band is doing their bit, but Mick has been the driving force, specifically during this album, so the last 18 months have been great with a bit of management support and Emma Scott getting involved with us, and the radio stations, getting interviews – none of that would have happened if Mick hadn’t gone out there and searched and contacted these people and got them to check us out. Everyone has done their part and we’ve been productive. We’ve tried to throw a few things at labels, but they need to see that we’re serious about it, so we’ve been trying to get to a level where we’ve got proper management and booking and support, which we have now. We’ve tried to do it in an organic, correct way because in this industry now, unless you’re fortunate enough to be supported by a big [record company] nobody’s got any money anyway. We can only show that we still want it and all we can do is keep our fingers crossed and hope that the right people are in the right place and that we’re playing the right way.

That leads on to my next question! Given that rock and metal is allegedly outselling other genres in this country, a lot of people are saying that the industry is dead on its arse and that bands will never make it anyway. What’s your opinion?

Marco: There are still good bands out there.

Jay: It’s not dead on its arse, it’s just going in a different direction.

Mick: I think it’s changed. It is a dog eat dog eat world and if bands are falling off along the way, the ones that really want it and are striving for it will get that spot. It’s not just about who you know now and bands have to show they can do it for themselves. We’re lucky that we own everything that we’ve done, but there will come a point where, unless we have a sponsor, to actually get it to the level that we want to go to, that’s where labels with money come aboard. We know the dangers of going that way but that’s what it is.

Jay: If it does come to us it would be awesome, but it has to be the right opportunity.

A lot of people don’t buy CD’s anymore, they prefer to download music …

Jay: People do still buy CD’s. There are still big chains, HMV are still there and there are still independent shops.

Mick: Vinyl is coming back, I went to HMV a week ago and there was Trivium and Bullet For My Valentine on vinyl. It’s on its way back but in a smaller, on demand market. We would definitely look into that, maybe start with 10 and see if people go for it.

What about the pledge route? Might you consider that?

Mick: It probably is in the pipeline. We funded this album, which wasn’t cheap, but we were happy to do it because we love doing it and it was the only way we could do it. Some days have been 12-16 hours solid work, day in day out. If it wasn’t for these guys, I wouldn’t be sitting here now and we’ve done all that hard work and I can breathe again now. If we can get on to something like this then hopefully a lot of that will be taken off my shoulders and I can get back to doing what I love doing most – writing and playing music.

What tunes are you listening to when you’re travelling?

Jay: We make mix CD’s, but we’re always adding stuff.

Mick: I think we should add ‘Heart of A Coward’, another London-based band.

Jay: Sometimes we’ll put on some dance music just to get out of the metal and have something different on a long journey.

You’re playing Nuke-Fest in Hull on 12th July? Any other festivals or summer appearances?

Jay: If all goes to plan during the next few days, hopefully we may have some more bookings soon.

Mick: With festivals, bands need to be on labels, so that’s a massive wall for us to climb and most of the bands will have had to have a release out, so we just missed it. We’re tighter as a band now and there’s a whole lot of things that have been in the background that yes, we’re ready now, but we’ll be a whole lot more ready next year.

We’ll be looking out for you at all the big festivals next year then! Anything else to say?

Jay: Thank you very much for reading this – if you’ve heard the album and you like it, we massively appreciate it!

Feral Sun’s debut album, ‘Evacuate’ is out now and available to buy from their website or from iTunes.  Check out their Facebook page for more gig dates – you seriously need to catch these guys live!

www.feralsun.com

www.facebook.com/feralsunrock