Legendary music journalist Malcolm Dome has done an in-depth interview with Iced Earth‘s mastermind Jon Schaffer during his stay in London, giving you a personal insight into the band’s current status and the making of the brand new album Incorruptible. You can watch it right here:
After 27 years, West Yorkshire Doom Metal giants My Dying Bride have moved their ‘crushing misery‘ to metal monster label, Nuclear Blast Records. Described as “the voice of the hopeless and broken” the band have so far given us 12 studio albums forged from “beautiful grief“.
I was lucky enough to catch up with current sticks man Dan Mullins, to get a bit of insight into the move, and what’s up next for MDB.
On the move to Nuclear Blast:
“Well, the talks were conducted and a decision was reached not too long back, obviously details to iron out. But this has been in the works for a good number of months. The signing to NB was a simple matter of the [fact that the] band were approaching the end of their contract with their former label and as such, there were offers placed on the table from a lot of companies wanting to carry on the MDB legacy.
After looking through what was best for the band a decision was made to go with NB. Everyone is totally enthusiastic as ever to push My Dying Bride the same as the band have done since its inception. The energy levels are so on the up currently. The band are engaged in constructing new material which will be on the new record, although it’s early days to say how it will turn out. This momentous occasion has ensured that My Dying Bride can bestow some world class misery upon all. Mercilessly!
Signing to NB was just amazing, they are a great label with a super fantastic team, there to push the band forward! Everyone is enthusiastic and supportive of what it is that My Dying Bride is. It’s a mutual thing; really, they want the best out of the band just as the band want the best out of the label. All on the same page.“
And any scoop for us on the new material?
“The new material is still a work in progress. We do have plenty of riffs sections and songs, yet until we’ve been through the process it’s hard to say what the feel of this new record will be. However trust me – as an MDB fan myself – it is devastating!“
Any UK shows coming up?
“This year the only live UK show is the HRH Doom vs Stoner on Oct 1st in Sheffield, which will be great!”
When can we expect the new album?
“It’s hard to say when the new album will actually land! However rest assured when it does, as always it’ll be a great occasion!“
Thanks for talking to Wyrd Ways, Dan!
Watch this space for further news on the upcoming release. If you can make it to Tilburg (Netherlands) in April, for the Roadburn Festival, you might be able to catch MDB perform their 1993 classic Turn Loose The Swans in its entirety, joined exclusively on the drums by Shaun ‘Winter’ Taylor-Steels.
Live dates in full:
Interview with Nottingham ne’er-do-wells, Evil Scarecrow. As you will hear, they behaved somewhat differently back then! Much more fun.
Interview by Mabh Savage
Delightfully intrigued, I decided to find out a bit more about the band that released this EP; who are they, what are they up to and how can we hear more?
Mabh: The Say My Name video premiered via Team Rock. How did you partner up with Team Rock and how has this experience been?
Banshee: We teamed up with Team Rock through LuLu at Incendia Management who has been working closely with us in getting us some good exposure over the past month, Team Rock being one of them, who were kind enough to premier our new video release which all has been exciting for us and even received plays from Joe Elliott (with a little helps from our fans). It’s great to see and hear reviews on the new release from both companies and public.
Mabh: What inspired the more electronic feel of the new EP?
Banshee: We’d say we’ve always had an electronic feel, well since we can remember haha, but this feels and sounds different. It didn’t come from anywhere or anyone in particular, it was just a case of going in to the studio and experimenting with different sounds until we all agreed on which ones felt right for us and our sound. But if Enter Shikari want to lend us some samples, then that’s fine too haha.
Mabh: Is the EP a prelude to a full album, and can we expect to see it in 2016?
Banshee: We can’t promise a full album but we can promise new material not too far in the future. We can say this as we have kept the ball rolling on producing new material since before we even released Say My Name. We have already laid down 5 brand new demos in the past week which we hope to get recorded and released in the coming months.
Mabh: How did you all meet?
Banshee: Gav and Gia have been close friends since the beginning of high school, through bands in their teens until the beginning of Life on Standby in 2011 when they were introduced to Erin, only a few weeks after forming the band. Liam then joined us a year later when we were in need of a bass player. He saw us play and offered to fill the position. Since then we have been a tight unit and feel this line up is final.
Mabh: What’s the Rock scene like in Scotland these days? Did it feel like you had to break out of Scotland to get exposure, or is it a thriving scene?
Banshee: Scotland’s rock scene is good, well, in a lot of places but not everywhere we have visited. Glasgow is the obvious choice for having the top scene in Scotland, especially around venues like King Tut’s where a night never proves to be negative. There’s just something about that place that seems to bring a good vibe to bands. Exposing ourselves outside of Scotland has proven to be difficult. Playing Download festival in 2014 didn’t appear hard at all. Playing a major festival as your first gig on English soil was a massive jump to which the response we got was mind blowing but since then, especially 2015, was a difficult year for the band inside and outside the scenes we were used to, hence the whole rebranding of the band which you can see further on.
Mabh: Which do you prefer, recording or touring?
Banshee: Touring is excellent fun. I mean which band doesn’t like getting a week off work to get drunk with their band mates, seeing different towns and cities throughout the country and doing what you love doing most by playing your music live every night? But, for Banshee, I’d definitely say we prefer recording purely down to how focused we become and seeing what we can produce at the end of the day within that working environment. I can’t recall any major bad experiences we have had inside the studio whilst working on a track. Everyone just seem to screw their head on, tune in and do what they’re supposed to do.
Mabh: What live events are coming up for Banshee in 2016, and which are you looking forward to the most and why?
Banshee: Our first hometown show under the name of Banshee will be in a venue we like very much called Stereo with Boy Jumps Ship – we have played on bills with these guys before and looking forward to doing it again! We are playing Brew at the Bog in Inverness the first weekend in June which is our first festival of the year. We played this festival last year and what a great atmosphere there was! We will also be playing Wildfire Festival on the 25th May which is a new festival for us. There are more dates we have confirmed but we’re not allowed to tell anyone about those yet!
Mabh: Who are your biggest inspirations musically?
Banshee: It’s always a difficult question for the band as we are all different and have different tastes. It’s what probably makes us who we are as a band. Bands that we all do like would definitely be Biffy Clyro: got to support the fellow Scots y’know. Marmozets are also a band we all respect and enjoy their ideas behind their music and how they’ve got where they are so fast. The list could go on but these are just examples of who we like as a band and who have inspired us musically.
Mabh: What prompted the name change to Banshee?
Banshee: Knew this question was coming, haha. Some readers may know and some may not, but we were originally called Life On Standby until January 2016 before our change. I mentioned earlier 2015 was a tough year for us and we had to do something before it was too late. Everything we were doing as a band just was not moving anywhere. So before Christmas we decided rebranding ourselves was the best option. We thought a new sound, new video, new EP, new release and most of all, new name, something short and sweet, was the best but hardest idea we had come up with in almost a while. Since the change at the beginning of 2016, it appears it is working well for us and the spirits are high again.
Mabh: And when you’re not rocking out, how do you guys like to relax?
Banshee: We don’t get much time to relax to be honest as we all work full time. Being in a band kids; it’s not all pretty and being Kool drinking beer and hanging around venues making lots of money. But to answer your question, Gav likes to hang out with his Labradoodle Charlie, when he wants to that is. Gia has a tendency to be in Nando’s a lot on his days off, don’t know why he hasn’t got shares in that place. Erin enjoys a wee drink or 9 now and then around the city and Liam enjoys looking at his John Mayer posters whilst plaiting his beard and playing with his Lego set, he can multi task when he wants to.
Thanks Banshee for taking the time to talk to the Wyrd Ways Rock Show. Watch this space for further updates. In the meantime, to whet your appetite, here’s the video for title track Say My Name.
Following his review of Aktaion‘s really rather excellent recent release, the Swedish lads got in touch to thank Rick (who wrote the review, which you can read here). Which was nice. Since we at The Wyrd Ways Rock Show webzine aren’t the sort to look a gift horse in the mouth, Rick did an email interview with band leader and guitarist, Francis Larsson and vocalist Jonas Snäckmark.
Rick: How do you pronounce your band name and what is the significance of said name?
Francis: Well. This is a hard one. It is not quite as the English version of the name “Actaeon” But we are in luck, there is a 30sec clip on YouTube which comes close (although we like to go hard on the second A):
I found the name in a book while recording vocals for Seven and we were looking for a band name which didn’t sound like a description for when a person would die. But still there is a legend behind the name, as old as the Greeks. Old story short: A hunter, Aktaion (or Actaeon) is transformed into a deer, by a naked woman, for spying on the naked woman and Aktaion, being a man, is then killed by his own hunting dogs, for now being a deer.
Although we don’t take anything from the legend with us in the music as of now, you might catch some of it in our soon-to-be-released artwork for our next album, The Parade Of Nature!
Rick: Besides you guys, what is your home town of Halmstad known for?
Francis: We got Gyllene Tider, Roxette, Per Gessle, beaches, two weeks of summer every other year and Halmstad is where the Danish realized they should just have stayed home, around 1676. And of course Arch Enemy.
Rick: Would you rather growl (shred-style vocals) or use straight, cleans vocals?
Francis: Can’t have one without the other. Hard to formulate a complete song without seriously consider adding both. Although if one has to go, in regards to our upcoming album, I’d delete the cleans first.
Jonas: Well I prefer to sing clean, although my strength is in the growl. But then again I feel that it is an unnecessary question, both have a unique standpoint and the rule is that if both styles complement each other, there is no need to take away one or the other. We write the lyrics with basis in emotion to bring out the whole picture and when the framework shifts, then we will see.
Rick: Is progressive metal still a viable genre?
Francis: Hard to answer. A genre is mostly a construction by the listener, and while writing music I never ask myself what genre it fits into or that I should take it in another direction to please a certain genre. So for me, and I hope, many others, genres are not decisive for if the music should be considered relevant or not. Progressive metal will be viable as long as we like the music we label progressive.
Jonas: As in all stages of evolution we need to progress, so do metal. No Metal is the same. So I feel that it’s needed and therefore still a viable genre.
Rick: How do you stand out with all of the other many, many Swedish Metal acts?
Francis: Hard to say. Most of them are acts we look up to, we just believe that we are able to fill a void between all the amazing tunes they put out, and keep releasing. We are relevant in addition to the other acts in regards to our choruses, the way we build our songs and explore our riffs!
I write music mostly to please myself, and I like to listen to what I have written. And I don’t write from what I hear from others. There is no reason to write what Soilwork or Arch Enemy writes because I can listen to them if I want to hear just that. And I’d rather not mention Meshuggah, but Meshuggah…
Rick: Black Sabbath, Deep Purple, Led Zeppelin or Iron Maiden?
Francis: Why choose when you can listen to Led Zeppelin?
Rick: Favourite band(s)?/books/Television shows?/Movies?
Francis: Right now, Baroness and also starting to get into the latest Machine Head, but always and always: Ulver. In regards to books, haven´t felt anything special since reading the Foundation series. And lastly, just give me more Kung Fu Panda.
Rick: Favourite female singer?
Francis: Can’t speak for the whole band, but Sia.
Jonas: Regina Spektor or Linda Perry
Rick: Thoughts on ISIS/Syrian refugees?
Francis: Daesh are fucking idiots and the refugees are not.
Rick: Where is the world heading?
Francis: To a place where regret will be the only relevant topic.
Rick: Vampires vs. Werewolves?
Francis: Come on, hailing from Sweden: Alexander Skarsgård in True Blood. Do you even need to know anything else?
Rick: Fair enough! In a similar vein, what’s your fave video game?
Francis: Well 3/4 of the band plays CS:GO quite a lot. Other than that, World of Warcraft and Heroes and Generals. What I can remember Jonas likes Mass Effect but he can’t join us when playing video games…
Rick: Fave vehicle(s)?
Francis: Bicycle and bicycle.
Jonas: Millennium Falcon
Rick: Desert Island disc (CD/DVD/Blu-Ray)?
Francis: Lord of the Rings trilogy extended edition, will not even ask the other guys about this one.
Rick: Desert Island magazine subscription?
Francis: Donald Duck, pocket version!
Jonas: Cosmos, Australian Magazine.
Rick: Candy/chocolate(sweet) vs. Sour/salty?
Francis: Coffee and fruit please.
Jonas: Sour/salty, at least it doesn’t feel like you are getting diabetes.
Rick: Fave fast food/junk food?
Francis: Anything, just give me something without meat.
Jonas: Veggie sandwich, despise the fast-food world.
Francis: Give me a pig and I will keep it forever.
Rick: Crazy fan stories?
Francis: Still looking for that first one…
Rick: Fave super hero (comics/TV/movies)?
Francis: Wolverine and/or Batman.
Jonas: “I eat the uncertainty principle for breakfast. I was born the original loose cannon. — and I am one unpredictable feather-plucking’ walrus! Koo-koo-ka-freakin’-choo!”
-Deadpool, the one true antihero!
Rick: Where have you been?
Francis: As a band? Ask us again next year. As a person I’m quite weak on the travelling side. Lived in Oslo for a year, visited mainland Europe and Great Britain. Been to Denmark and Germany for cheap “water of life”. Looking into East Asia this spring. Have to get away from Sweden for a while where everything is insulting to everyone, all the time.
Interview with James O’Toole
By Dave Smiles
James O’Toole is a Melbourne musician who knows what he’ll be doing for the rest of his life – making music. Like many independent musicians, James has made sacrifices for his passion but, as it does for many people, the call of music becomes so strong that there really isn’t anything else he’d rather be doing.
What first got you interested in music and what does it mean to you?
I remember first getting into Kiss and lots of other rock music when I was in primary school. I liked the energy of it and the way songs could make you feel so many different emotions. My dad plays acoustic guitar and always had one around the house. From about the age of ten I became really into listening to music and I’d make mix tapes of lots of different stuff and I would listen for hours on end, usually while I also worked on art, drawing sci-fi and fantasy stuff. When I discovered Iron Maiden and Judas Priest as a teenager that was it, I was completely hooked. I remember borrowing a copy of The Number of the Beast and just being totally blown away, I couldn’t stop listening to it. I played it every day for a few weeks! So began my obsession with the heavier side of music and I’ve been into it ever since. I particularly like heavy music that also has some melody or interesting sounds woven in rather than just flat out aggression, though that can also be good at the right times – Pantera, Hatebreed and working out seem to go well together!
I can’t imagine life without music, it’s been such a massive part of my life and when I think of some of the best times of my life music always seems to feature. I also love the way songs can become linked to periods in your life and instantly bring back memories when you hear them, no matter how much time has passed. Music is very powerful in so many ways. I still listen to as much new stuff as I can, there’s so many good bands out there just waiting to be heard.
A lot of musicians tend to be drawn to one instrument in particular, but you can play guitar, bass, drums, keys. (Have I missed any?) What inspired you to learn each one?
I started playing relatively late, when I was 21, and bass was the first instrument I learned. A friend’s band was looking for a bassist and he said I should start playing and try out, and being a massive fan of Steve Harris, I thought why not? I’d been thinking about learning an instrument for a while and I really liked the sound of bass, the low frequencies and depth, and how you could use it for driving rhythms and also contribute interesting parts to shape the sound melodically by playing against what the guitars were doing.
I didn’t end up joining that first band, but I did start jamming with another mate who played guitar, learning metal and alternative covers just for fun before we decided to put an original band together. I started writing lyrics over some of the music very early on and once that band was jamming we were lucky enough to find a permanent room we could set up all our gear in and leave it there, so I would go down when no one else was there and start messing around on guitar and trying to record complete songs with drum loops, bass, guitar, and rough vocals. I’ve always been interested in song writing, so playing different instruments just evolved through wanting to write complete songs and present them to the band. Bass was first, then guitar, keyboard and learning to sing was last, which I started doing mainly because in all the bands I’ve been in it has always been difficult finding singers. I don’t actually play drums, I usually use professionally recorded midi patterns to start and then tailor them to suit in Superior Drummer or BFD. I can play a little bit of everything well enough to write and record my ideas, but it’s a slow process! When it comes to playing live I’m really only comfortable playing bass and singing. I really like writing on guitar and cranking it up and jamming, but I still love the low-end rumble through the floor when playing bass, so I don’t see myself ever switching to guitar live.
What would you like to achieve as a musician?
I’d like to keep on developing and become a better songwriter and musician, and continue to promote The Spiral Sequence as a permanent and ongoing project. I’m still always trying out new ideas and sounds and trying to progress further with production and mixing as well. I’m also interested in writing music for soundtracks, more orchestral and ambient stuff. I feel like there is still a massive amount to learn when it comes to music and it’s a never-ending journey. I love that it keeps evolving and what I write ten years from now will probably be very different to what I write now. After I write some more new material I’d like to get out and play live again and I’d love to tour internationally.
What was the inspiration behind your solo project, The Spiral Sequence, and how long did it take from the initial idea to completion?
I really just wanted to see what I could do creatively, to push myself as a musician and songwriter. I was really bored in my day job and wanted more of an artistic challenge and I had a lot of ideas I wanted to express. Another factor was being involved in a couple of bands that split up and feeling like all the time and effort had gone to waste, so I decided it was time to try something on my own. I figured no matter how long it took to do it all myself it would be worth the effort and looked at it as a long-term investment.
From the time I decided to start seriously working on the first album to its completion was four years. At the start I also decided I wanted to learn about recording and production so I could shape the sound and really set myself up to be more musically self-sufficient, as I plan on doing this for the rest of my life. I worked part time and spent every day off learning as much as I could about recording and mixing, and set up a home studio while I worked on writing the songs. It was a massive undertaking and a steep learning curve but well worth it, I can’t imagine doing it any other way now. I love every aspect of the process, from the pure art and creativity of writing to the technical aspects of recording and mixing.
The lyrics throughout The Spiral Sequence album Through Shadow Into Light are incredibly thought provoking and focus on some very humane issues. What inspires you when writing lyrics?
Anything can be inspirational really, but I tend to either write about world affairs or personal experiences. I like the idea of writing about things that might make people think differently, or at least question what’s going on around them. I think we live in a society where many things are not what they seem and we’re fed a lot of negativity and fear by the media and told what to think. A lot of the lyrics on the album were inspired by topics I heard on Coast to Coast AM, saw on alternative news sites or read about in books. Blood and Ashes is about the Cathars, who were slaughtered in the thousands by the Catholic Church for heresy. The song If is pretty straightforward – as we get older I think it’s natural to wonder what would have happened had we taken a different fork in the road at various points and how life might be different. Dehumanisation and Sacrifice touch on the New World Order and wars fought over resources, while Transcendency deals with the idea of reincarnation and the afterlife. Surface was inspired by depression and loss, and how it feels to recover and start to return to normal. So many things can inspire lyrics, there’s no shortage of things to write about. The mood of a riff or piece of music usually gives me ideas for lyrics straight away. Lyrics have always been very important to me as a listener as well and are often the reason I listen to a particular band. If something in the lyrics resonates and the music also grabs you it’s a really powerful combination.
As well as all the performances and recording on Through Shadow Into Light you also created all the artwork, with an image for each track. Album cover art has, sadly, become a bit of a lost art. How do you feel cover art and imagery adds to overall listening experience of an album?
I think it can really help get the message across and form part of an interesting overall package. I love buying albums and studying the artwork and lyrics while I listen to the music, which is one reason I still buy CDs. I like really becoming immersed in what the artist is trying to express. Years ago I remember seeing a Skyclad album called The Wayward Sons of Mother Earth and though I’d never heard the band the artwork and album title seemed to suggest Celtic and pagan themes combined with metal, so eventually I took the plunge and bought the album based on the artwork alone! Luckily it was a great album and they became one of my favourite bands. When you think of some of the iconic album covers over the years there’s no doubt it can be a very important part of the overall band package. When you look at a band like Tool, the artwork for Lateralus and 10,000 Days is amazing and really enhances the albums, extending into their music videos. When it came time to create the album artwork for The Spiral Sequence I knew I wanted to do something that helped express the vibe of each song, and it was a fun artistic project in itself. I’ll definitely do it again for the next album.
Your band, Sun Like Blood, is in the process of recording some new songs? Can you tell us a bit about what we can expect from this music and what sets it apart from your work on The Spiral Sequence.
Sun Like Blood is probably more alternative rock based and more melodic, it definitely has a different sound. Most of the music came together very organically through jamming in rehearsal rooms as an instrumental three piece, with me on bass, Damian Zylstra on guitar and Louis Tsokas on drums. Both Damian and Louis are great musicians and we have great musical chemistry, so ideas flow very easily. We would just start jamming and improvising, I’d record everything on a hand held digital recorder then we’d arrange the best ideas and work on them to shape them into finished songs. It’s a great way to work if you can get the right combination of people together. We are currently working on seven songs, we’re just finishing up vocals and final mixes. It’s been a slow process lately, but we have a ton of ideas recorded in addition to the ones we’re working on right now and just have to get together to finish them. We’ll also be looking for a vocalist to hopefully take some of our lyric and melody ideas to the next level and perform them live. We’re aiming to have the songs finished and released next year.
The song writing for The Spiral Sequence was done by yourself and Sun Like Blood is a collaborative effort. What are some of the advantages and disadvantages of each style?
The best thing about collaboration is that ideas can change and improve with the influence of other band members, so you can produce something together that becomes greater than the sum of its parts. Some really cool musical chemistry can happen and suddenly spark fresh inspiration, leading off in new and exciting directions. Jamming is always fun as you can often stumble into a great idea without really trying, just as a result of the musical interaction between the different musicians. That’s definitely the best part about working with other people, and it’s always a rush when you just happen to lock into a cool idea from nowhere. I really enjoy that aspect a lot. Collaboration also exposes you to different playing styles and it all helps your development as a musician. Every musician I’ve worked with has influenced me in some way, and it all helps you expand what you can do personally, if you let it. Another positive aspect is that the song writing load is spread between a few people, so if someone’s going through a creative dry spell other members can help out.
Writing alone is good, but as there’s no other input sometimes I can get stuck on finishing an idea until something sparks a fresh direction. That can mean songs are shelved for a while, or sometimes not finished at all. On the plus side there are no arguments over direction or parts, but it also can take a lot longer to get everything written. There’s also a real sense of artistic satisfaction creating something entirely by yourself. It’s always a challenge, so it’s never boring!
On top of music, recording and graphic design, you’re also a writer. Can you tell us about The Deathlance Trilogy?
The Deathlance Trilogy is something I’ve been working on for years on and off, but with work, music and everything else I haven’t had as much time as I’d like to put into it lately. It’s a massive dark fantasy story split into three parts. I’ve read a ton of fantasy and sci-fi stories over the years and always been into creative writing and music journalism as well as writing lyrics. I’m up to my fourth draft of the first book, Di’Anno’s Wolves, which I’m hoping to get back to next year finally, after finishing off the Sun Like Blood songs currently in production. The story is about an outlaw bandit company leader who finds part of an ancient demonic weapon, and things go downhill fast for him from there as he finds himself embroiled in some major events beyond his control. It’s a pretty dark story, the inspiration for writing it was I thought a lot of fantasy books lacked a gritty, dark edge. Many were very clear cut good versus evil stories, so this is my attempt to write something a little darker and more ambiguous. I really liked The Elric Saga by Michael Moorcock, The Black Company series by Glen Cook and the Thieves World series because they all featured characters who weren’t your typical heroes or good guys. The story also takes some well-established fantasy clichés and turns them on their head, so there are a few twists and turns to keep things interesting!
It’s an ongoing debate for every music fan and musician that seems to increase with every passing year – Downloading music, both legally and illegally, streaming, the decrease in album sales and the ‘death of the music industry.’ What are your views on the constant changes in the music world?
I think for listeners there have been some amazing changes with the availability of music, it’s so easy to jump on Spotify or other streaming services and check out a band instantly, or go their website or YouTube and see what they’re up to any time, from anywhere. That’s pretty amazing, and it’s now possible to do a lot more yourself in terms of recording, and putting your own music out without having to go through a label. When I first started The Spiral Sequence I was thinking about all these changes and have structured everything accordingly. There have been a lot of positive developments in some areas, like recording technology. I have access to sounds from every instrument imaginable through samples and virtual instruments, which is awesome and a lot more affordable than it was ten years ago, and computers have become much more powerful and make it much easier and faster to record at home.
Unfortunately the easy availability of torrents and file sharing has also devalued music. People don’t want to pay for music any more. It’s something of a double edged sword for musicians – it’s never been easier to produce and distribute music to a potentially world wide audience, but getting noticed among the millions of bands is still hard work, and making decent money from recording is now a thing of the past for most bands. Older acts with massive established fan bases like Metallica, AC/DC, Iron Maiden and so on are still doing fine, because they made their money before things changed, but even they aren’t selling as many albums as they used to. The concerning aspect of this is that in ten years who is going to headline the big Metal festivals when the bands who are doing it now are gone? I don’t see too many bands achieving the same massive level of success as those older acts and I think once those older acts start retiring there is going to be a big hole left behind because newer bands just don’t have the same pulling power due to the changes in the music industry. It seems like more and more of the up and coming bands or middle tier bands are calling it quits after five to ten years because financially they just can’t keep doing it. Recording, touring and all the expenses that go with it add up very quickly and without strong album sales to support it it’s a tough road. Labels don’t have the money to put in to developing new acts like they used to either.
It’s an interesting time. I think the internet in general and apps like Facebook and Twitter have shortened peoples’ attention spans hugely, so that also plays a part. There are so many options vying for our attention now and it’s very easy to jump online and flick between ten different things, without really focusing on any one subject, let alone devoting time to actively seek out new music and give it the attention it deserves. Bands just have to work harder and smarter and make use of the new avenues that are available now and take more responsibility for their own promotion and development.
Melbourne, and Australia in general, is developing a very strong hard rock, metal scene and live music has made a big come back – even with an ever increasing number of venues being threatened with closure. What do you think is bringing people out to see live music?
There’s an energy you get from a live show you can’t experience listening to a recording. The volume, the crowd and bigger sound all combine to make it a very different experience. I used to review a lot of metal shows and often the really good bands sounded better live. Acts like Slipknot, Meshuggah and Killing Joke come to mind, particularly the depth and power from the bottom end, which is always hard to capture fully on a recording. Maybe people are getting tired of all the shows like X-Factor and American/Australian Idol and want to see legitimate musicians who write their own music and play it with some real feeling – we can only hope that’s the case!
What does it take to be an independent working musician? How do you fund producing albums, promoting, etc and what sacrifices does it take on a personal level?
I work as a freelance graphic artist, which is how I pay for my musical endeavours. I fund everything myself, so I’ve invested a lot of money over the years in lessons, gear, rehearsals and studio equipment. I work as much as I have to make sure the bills are covered, then keep as much time as I can free to work on music. It’s a constant juggling act, but every independent musician knows what it’s like. It makes things tough financially sometimes, but I do it because I want to, no other reason. I may not have some of the material possessions other people do, but I don’t have to go to a soul destroying job full time either, so I feel like I’m doing exactly what I should be doing and that’s the most important thing to me. When I look back on this time twenty years from now I’ll at least know I did exactly what I wanted to do and I’ll have no regrets. Material possessions are fleeting, experiences and satisfaction with how you lived your life are what really counts. Seeing streaming reports showing my music has been heard over in the US, Canada, UK and Europe makes it all worthwhile. It’s a long slow road, but I’m in it for the long haul. Fortunately I also have a very understanding partner, she is a belly dancer who tours interstate and internationally, so she knows what it’s like to make sacrifices for your art and it’s never an issue between us.
What musicians would you love to jam with?
Steve Harris from Iron Maiden, Danny Carey and Adam Jones from Tool, Geordie from Killing Joke, Greg Mackintosh from Paradise Lost, Brendan Perry from Dead Can Dance and Steven Wilson from Porcupine Tree are the first to come to mind – all fantastic musicians I admire greatly.
You’re trapped on an island with One Direction. What do you do?
Start swimming! Either that or show them the error of their ways and try to turn them into a real band by forcing them to listen to Classic Rock and Metal albums on constant rotation until they see the light – or should that be darkness?
Thanks for taking the time to do this interview and all the best with your future music endeavours.
WWRS: Just to start us off, can you tell us something a little about yourself?
Indya: I am a singer/songwriter and composer based in Brighton UK. I’m 29 years old! Nearly 30!! I had a deal with Ubisoft Entertainment last year and my music is on the PS4 game Far Cry 4. The game is set in India and my music sounds very Bollywood but Rock of course! I’m on IMDB.
I first started off singing in an indie Rock band called No Ordinary Zoo. I wrote a lot of the songs and we gigged in local pubs. The band split and went there own separate ways. It was a great shame as were well-liked by all who came to watch us play.
I was also a DJ for Criminal Records playing at various venues over the UK but mainly Latest music bar in Brighton.
WWRS: According to your biog, you went to the BRIT School. What’s all that about?
Indya: I went to the BRIT School of Performing Arts and Technology in Selhurst, Croydon in 2001 to 2003. I studied Music there. I was there the same time as Katie Melua and Amy Winehouse. I was really shy at college and I was rather self contained. I worked hard though and I got distinctions in my diploma. After the BRIT School I went into Colin’s Performing Arts College in Essex, where I studied professional performing arts. I was in the same lessons as James Buckley who plays Jay Cartwright in The Inbetweeners. College was fun!! 😉 lol
WWRS: Most of your music seems to be more in the pop vein. What made you want to shift into something a little more Rocky?
Indya: I started working on pop tracks with a producer called James Loughrey (Cheryl Cole, Atomic Kitten) and I made a brilliant track called Chemical Reaction. A lot of my pop songs were written through bad times in my past of broken relationships, struggling with a drug addiction and battling bulimia and bipolar. I had an awful 4 years dealing with these things. The songs were beginning to portray a darker side,so didn’t quite suit the pop genre. It just wasn’t working for me so I decided to take a different avenue ….. I wanted to collaborate the heartache and pain with rock n roll! Everybody has said rock suits me better! I collaborated with the Mitch Winehouse band on a Jazz number 3 years back . I was called by his manager Trenton and asked to sing a song off Mitch’s album. I chose a Billie Holiday cover and I was meant to sing at the Hippodrome with Mitch for the Amy Winehouse Foundation charity gig but it got cancelled. I love jazz and I wanted so badly to go down that route too….but rock is definitely best for me! Hopefully I will be singing for the charity soonish.
Here’s the track in question:
WWRS: Any plans to move further down the path to show what your voice can really do?
Indya: I have major goals now. I’m currently working with producer Dan Baune on my new album Diamonds and Skulls. It has a Led Zeppelin influence. I’m writing as we speak. I hope to have radio plays on Planet Rock, the Radio 1 Rock Show and Kerrang! I will have music videos for all of my tracks that will of course ooze sex appeal and be extremely raunchy, quite like the music! My music is a bit bluesy , sexy , dirty guitars, and pure rock n roll!! Once the CDs have been made I will then go out gigging and sell the CDs and t shirts at the gigs. I hope to tour Germany and Holland as well as the UK. Dan Baune is going to play bass for me and Peter Elliss from Monument will be my guitarist along with Toby on drums. Can’t wait!!
WWRS: You’ve been working with one of the members of a favourite band here at WWRS, Monument. How did that come about?
Indya: Dan Baune my producer is a guitarist in Monument. I was referred by their singer, Peter Ellis, after he did some guitar work with me on a piece of music. We made links and kept in touch and it’s just stemmed from there. Dan is brilliant and a massive help! They are both such lovely guys and a pleasure to work with.
WWRS: When can we expect the fruits of these labours?
Indya: I have an EP coming out mid June. This will go onto ITunes for you all to download! So keep watch!! This will be the best of me that no one has ever heard before!!
WWRS: What or who was it that made you start taking music seriously?
Indya: I’ve worked with Eddie And The Hotrods in the past. Backing vocals. These guys are a big influence on me. And after being astounded by their amazing performance supporting Status Quo at the Brighton Centre a few years back it heavily influenced me to step up my mark! I’m good friends with Dipster Dean their bass player and he was the one that gave me the idea of having my band name as Indya.
WWRS: OK. Potentially embarrassing question that may well ruin your musical credibility: What was the first album you ever bought with your own money?
Indya: My first ever album I brought with my money was 911!! Lmfao haha I was like 8!!
WWRS: What have you got coming up in the rest of this year?
Indya: I’m going to knuckle down on getting my album finished, released and to get out gigging and touring!! Im excited and am looking forward in succeeding 🙂 I also want to collaborate with other artists. I have a track on my new album which features monument! They are awesome 🙂
WWRS: Finally, some shameless plugging!
Indya: My Twitter account to follow me is @Indya_UKMusic
I’m also on Facebook! Just look up INDYA!
A cover of a Belinda Carlisle track of mine:
They’ve been called Noise Rock (by themselves, as it happens!). No greater authority than the Sludgelord himself loves them. They have no Facebook page. They are American noisemongers, The Black Lantern. The Wyrd Ways Rock Show’s resident senior reviewer, Rick, had an email chat with the band…
Desert island disc? (You’re marooned, you can only choose one)
Andy: AC/DC Back In Black, to remind me of where the end of the first rock era and the beginning of the second rock era converged perfectly.
Wendy: Refused The Shape of Punk to Come
Jesse: Impossible question. But if I was forced to be marooned on an island, and those same people forced me to take only 1 CD, then I would choose Limp Bizkit’s Significant Other. Not because I like it, but because if it was on infinite repeat then it would motivate me like nothing else to get off that island.
Do female singers get groupies as often as males?
Andy: The groupies for this band are currently all dudes, staring at Wendy and our pedalboards.
Wendy: If by groupies you mean groups of guys huddled together who quickly avert their eyes in fear when I look at them, then yes, I have just as many groupies as a male lead singer would.
If you had to pick a genre/pigeonhole to cram yourselves into, what would you call it?
Andy: Noise Rock.
If you were to play in a different band, which band would it be and what would be your instrument of choice?
Wendy: Drums for Death Grips
Jesse: I would play keyboards for Wand.
Obviously the media is not completely useless, but how could their role be sharpened, enhanced, or improved?
Andy: People actually really just want trusted sources of information, so any media outlet that can deliver trustworthy news (even if it is coupled with an entertaining laugh) is doing what needs to be done.
Jesse: Take a little bit more time in the editing stage. Media outlets should not come across as first-year college students.
Is rock music dead or alive?
Andy: Very much alive. When you see a 14 yr old kid at Guitar Center with a Maiden shirt on, you realize that it will never die.
Jesse: rock, to me, is rebellion. The moment someone loses any tendencies toward rebellion is the moment rock dies for them.
Given the state of the rock music industry, what is the next wave of the future?
Andy: Currently, the hip kids have gone back to guitars and loud, obnoxious sound. So, that will ride for a while into the future.
Analog or digital?
The Beatles or the Stones?
Andy: Beatles. They changed the course of musical history.
Wendy: I appreciate The Beatles and I hate The Stones.
Jesse: The Beatles. The perfect dichotomy in rock bands that would shape all others. Every success needs the positive paul and the negative john. I’m generalizing immensely, but you get my drift.
If you could interview somebody, who would it be and what would you ask them?
Andy: I would love to interview Jimi Hendrix, and ask him about the philosophical underpinnings of his guitar solos and performances.
Interview with Brendon Yeagley
Conducted by Dave Smiles
Over the dirty groove rock of Crobot are some dark and deranged, but always interesting, lyrics that are the brainchild of frontman Brendon Yeagley. There are those who claim that exposing kids to horror movies and heavy metal will end in disaster. In contrast Brendon Yeagley is an example of how these influences can instead create a talented lyricist and energetic front man. I was lucky enough to spend some time talking to him about the formation of his band Crobot and the debut full length album Something Supernatural, which has been greeted with exceptional reviews since its release a few months ago.
First of all mate I have to say congratulations on Something Supernatural. It’s a fantastic album.
Thanks Man. Thank you. We’re defiantly excited to have it out.
When it was finished and ready to be released, was it everything you’d expected it to be or did it exceed expectations?
We’re a little surprised at the response we’ve been getting. Everything’s been pretty good so far, we haven’t had any real haters. I don’t know if we’ve necessarily been through it yet. You know. We sort of need to be justified by that one hater I think. (Laughs) But in all seriousness it’s been really awesome. Here in the States, the radio stations have picked up Nowhere To Hide and been spinning it for the last few months and we really didn’t expect that venture for us. We don’t consider ourselves a radio rock band and to see all the radio support, all the support, journalists, it’s been really cool.
I think people have been starved for something fresh and something new. It’s been a while since there’s been something like this come along.
Yeah, you know there a still a lot of cool bands out there sort of putting their own spin on that classic sound. We’re glad that things are finally starting to reach the boiling point and people are looking for real music, you know, genuine music. Hopefully some of the bands will start leaving their tracks at home. That’s the next step.
For someone who hasn’t heard Crobot yet, how would you describe your band to them?
We like to go by three words – Dirty Groove Rock. People seem to think that sort of sums us up in a nutshell. We like to keep that head bobbing factor and defiantly like to be riffy and dirty and funky all at the same time. So, Dirty Groove Rock would be in three worlds how I’d describe Crobot.
Dirty Groove Rock. – Like it. So how do you guys compose your songs?
Really we just lock ourselves in a room with a few cases of beer and a couple joints and really start to work on the music and sort of let the songs write themselves. We don’t try to think of anything too much, or try to go in any certain direction we just sort of let the songs… take flight if you will. Jamming, a lot of improvising, and I think that really keeps things fresh for us and keeps everything real. We don’t have too many conversations as to what the Crobot sound is. We just know what we like and we know we don’t want to sacrifice our integrity and our sound and we’re so happy with the album, the way it turned out and finally being able to campaign the record and it really feels good.
It really comes across as spontaneous. You can really hear the band jamming element to it.
Yeah, you know, we’re a live band, that’s our bread and butter. Even during the live show, sort of the songs will take a different turn, so to speak, then say the album does. We’re defiantly that type of band at heart and that’s why the song writing is so easy for us. It just something we naturally do. And even getting up there on stage every night we try and throw that into the mix as well.
What was the inspiration behind the name Crobot? Where does that come from?
Really it’s just a mixture of, in the beginning stages we sounded crowbar and the riffy-ness, you know, and musically and (guitarist Chris) Bishop uses robotic effects so one of our buddy’s, Cousin Dave, he came up with the name Crobot through those two elements. It’s something that when we heard it we just fell in love with it and we just ran with it. I’m really glad we didn’t chose some of the other names we came up with. (Laughs) It’s one of those ventures that’s just a dreading one to come up with a name you can fall in love with. It’s really hard, you know. Nothing was really sticking. When we heard Crobot being thrown in there we were like yeah that’s the one.
In terms of lyrics, I’d be understating if I said there was a darkness to them. What inspires you when you’re writing?
I grew up watching horror movies and science fiction and all the occult and things that surround bands like Black Sabbath and Zeppelin always seemingly went hand and hand already, but to further that influence I’ve defiantly been raised on Evil Dead and Alien series.
Yeah, to name a few, and I think it really comes through in my lyric writing process, when I sit down to write the words I really pull them from those sort of things. A lot of native American Mythology as well, just mythology in general and you know songs like La Mono (De Lucifer) about the devil… that to me is modern mythology, and the devil is one of the greatest antagonists in literature in any story. I’ve just really had a fascination with the unknown and mysticism in general. I think the key elements are the gore factor and the ‘nerd-ness’, they defiantly come through.
Are there any songs you’re particularly proud of?
They all have their special place for sure. They’re each a weapon for certain scenarios, so to speak, I guess you could say. We get asked the question a lot if there’s one song in particular that first time listeners who have never heard of Crobot should listen to. Probably Skull of Geronimo. That pretty much covers the Crobot spectrum from start to finish. It’s got a little bit of everything in there. La Mono is one of my favourite songs to play live, that really takes a different venture in the live atmosphere; that’s certainly one of my favourites. A staple of ours has been Legend Of The Spaceborne Killer. That song was one of the first songs we’d ever written as a band and continues to sort of define us. Night of the Sacrifice, I love that song cause it’s just so funky and Chupacabra for the same reasons. It was so hard to narrow down these songs to a group of songs, they all hold their special place. They’re like my babies.
A lot of bands are taking the ‘Do It Yourself’ route these days, with home produced EPs and so forth. Crobot signed to Wind Up Records. How did this come about and do record companies still have an importance in the modern music world?
Yeah, I definitely think that record labels still have an importance, you know. They are always going to get you to the short cut. Definitely, if you’re a hard working band and believe in what you do and you have the time to put into it. Sometimes it comes down to finances more than anything. A record label can really give you more than just finances, it’s a short cut to all the connections. You know, maybe not even a short cut, maybe it’s a tier above what you could obtain on your own. Seemingly, it’s not a necessary thing today, but with the help of a label it definitely makes things a lot easier. Especially for a band like us, we like to tour a lot, as much as possible. It’s certainly a lot easier for us with the help of a label. To obtain tools necessary to do what we do and to keep us out on the road. The way it all came about with Wind Up is we had our video entered into a place at the Grammies competition and our manager at Wind Up, Shawn Collins, was actually watching a video on this same contest that his friend had led him to, who said check out my video. We’d entered our video into this contest to play the Grammies. He sat down, watched his buddy’s band, through his computer, and had heard our song cause our video came on afterwards and he went back to his computer and watched the video, which would have been for Legend of the Spacebourne Killer and he loved it. He was really into what we were doing and kept a close eye on what we were doing online for about three weeks and after that he contacted us and it was actually right around the time we had got Jake and Paul in the band. We’d just fired half the band and we got a call from Wind Up Records saying they were interested in the band so we immediately started practising six to eight hours a day and really got ourselves ready for the showcase that we did a month and a day from when Jake and Paul moved to Pennsylvania into my place and we’ve just been going at it since. It’s really been a great ride thus far. It’s awesome to have landed a Nuclear Blast deal as well. Wind Up really had a huge part in helping us out with that. We’re really in a great spot right now. 2015 is really looking to be a great year for us.
What’s planned for next year? Any chance you’ll be coming down to Australia for a tour?
Hopefully, we’re really gunning for an Australian tour. We’ve been looking for that for a long time. Seeing the Nuclear Blast deal go through, we jumped and clicked our heels knowing that one day it was going to happen. I really think that 2015 is going to hold something for the land down under. We’re definitely, definitely looking forward to it.
That would be great. Love to see you guys live.
It’s a good live experience. Crobot.
What first got you interested in music, and what are the bands who have influenced you the most?
I was sort of just raised on rock n roll I guess. My uncle tells me the stories all the time of how he used to work in a record store and he would take me with him sometimes and I would pick up the Ozzy Osbourne records just for the covers, you know, I listened to them that much. I think I’m just a product of my environment, like I said before with the horror movies and the Black Sabbath, you know it sort of goes hand in hand but that’s what I was raised on. The band as a whole were sort of into bands like Graveyard, who through their own spin on a classic sound and create something awesome. It’s been cool, we’ve had the pleasure of playing with some really cool bands too and we’re definitely looking forward to next year we’ve got some shows with Volbeat and Anthrax coming up. It’ll be our first arena tour which we’re super excited about. We’ve got ShipRock which we’re going to be vacationing to the Bahamas, with a bunch of fans. That’s the way I look at it, vacation. We’re going to be on a ship, playing to fans, to the Bahamas. Certainly sounds like a vacation to me. We also have a big European tour which we’re not allowed to officially announce yet, but February and March we’re going to be in Europe for a good part of those months. Hopefully we’ll wind up the new year with some Australia dates, that would be killer.
That would be great. We’ve got some awesome bands over here so it would be good to get you guys on a bill with them.
Yeah, what are some good bands to check out?
Check out a band called Massive.
Massive? Very cool.
Anyway mate, thank you for taking the time to do this interview.
Oh no problem. Thanks for the tip, I’ll defiantly check out Massive.
Cheers, and good luck for the future.