Dean Foxx / Knock Out Kaine Interview

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Dean Foxx / Knock Out Kaine Interview

By Beth Jones & Rick Tilley

RockWich 2017

Lostock Club Sunday 27th August

Rick has had the great pleasure of talking to and interviewing Knock Out Kaine front man, Dean Foxx, on many occasions before, and we were really looking forward to seeing them perform at RockWich on the Sunday evening. It was my first time seeing them live and it was an added bonus when we bumped into Dean earlier in the day, prior to their set, and he was more than happy to have a brief chat with us about what’s new and upcoming in the Knock Out Kaine pipeline. It was my first time talking to Dean, but it was great fun as he is such a diamond geezer! And here is what he had to say:

Rick: So, you’re doing a new album – how’s it going?

Dean: Its going absolutely brilliantly!

Rick: I saw a recent comment on Facebook that you were up at 3.45am listening back to new tracks…?

Dean: Yeah, it’s going to knock the other two albums into a top hat!

Rick: Really?… Because I was blown away by the first one, and I got blown away even more by the second one so…

Dean: Yeah. We’ve hit that little sweet spot I think. It’s going to be heavier – not all of it, but I think 50% of it is going to be heavier than we have done before, still melodic, still rocky, but definitely with a heavier edge. But we’ve still got some quirky little bits and pieces that people are going to go “What?!” at, which is what we always do!

Rick: yeah you like to throw in a few curve balls don’t you!

Dean: Yeah. It’s certainly shaping up to be the best thing we have ever done, without a shadow of a doubt. I am bowled over by the material because it isn’t something we have written for an album, it has kind of organically grown, because we weren’t even going to record an album. We weren’t going to do anything creatively to put into the commercial arena for quite some time to come, and then it just happened. And it is the first time we have had a producer as well, which I was really cagey about being such a control freak! But the guy is brilliant. After the first studio session, I was quite happy to go, ‘Do you know what…run with it’!

Rick: Who have you got?

Dean: His Name’s Sam Cooke – no not the soul singer! I think he’s dead, isn’t he? – so that would be horrible!!! The smell in a studio environment is never any good after a few hours anyway so that would be horrible! But yeah, it’s turned out to be great, and this is the first time that we have had the scope to be able to spend some time on things. In the past, we’ve had a contract with someone and we’ve had a deadline and it’s all got to be done in that time, but this time we’ve let Sam in and he’s said ‘the album’s finished when it finished’. It’s lots of different studio sessions and it gives us time to breath and not have to slog, and it has just turned out brilliantly. We tracked the drums first as everyone does, but instead of going to the studio, Sam said ‘no we’re going to this place’, and he gave us an address and it was an old deconsecrated church! He had rented it out for a couple of days for the drums! And the drum sound is absolutely amazing – its intense. So, there is a lot of experimental and weird stuff going on as far as we’re concerned, with the new environments he has been putting us in to, but it’s turned out amazing!

Beth: Do you think that your creative sides came out more this time, because you didn’t have the constraints of thinking ‘we’ve got to write an album’?

Dean: Well the songs had already been written – I think you probably know from speaking to you before Rick, that we always have this pool of material because we’re always writing. So, we still did lots of demo’s round at Jim’s home studio to put them in a place where we knew exactly where they were going arrangement wise. That has been done in exactly the same way as we always do it. We are continuously working. We never go into a place where we are writing specifically for an album I suppose. So, we just went through a load of the demo tracks that we have done very recently. The first two albums had loads of songs that I had written that came to fruition in the studio, but I’d written them years and years and years ago, before the band ever even existed. On this one, there is one song that was written by me well before Knock Out Kaine existed, about 14 years ago, but the rest of them are new and exciting and FULL OF VIRVE! FULL OF VIM AND VIGOUR AND SPUNK!!!!

Rick: Haha! Is it more collaborative this time?

Dean: Yes – it is! Everyone has put their two penn’orth worth in, and as far as writing goes, this will be the first one where the credit on the album for each song will say, ‘written, arranged and performed by Knock Out Kaine’, rather than individual names, which makes me happy. Because I like that! …It’s because I’m a rock and roll socialist!! Not a communist! A rock and roll socialist!

Rick: There’s a song in there somewhere!! (laughter)

Beth: So, what’s next?

Dean: Well we will spend the rest of this year working on this record and that is it really. We have a handful of shows – we spent the first half of this year touring wall to wall like we normally do, but this last part we have some shows, like this one today here at RockWich, a couple of festival dates and then we will probably put together a Christmas Knock Out Kaine – KOKstock! At some outdoor venue in Lincoln later in the year, but the rest of the year is going to be spent doing the record!

Rick: I have been pushing your name for the new Stonedeaf Festival next year. I know a lot of people have and I think it’s perfect – cracking band, local to what they’re trying to do – it would be perfect to have you on.

Dean: Yeah! We’ll see what happens there. I’m hopeful it will be a good bash. If we’re not playing it and not doing something else, I will come along to have a look at it. It’s a great idea – it’s is a great premise to get back to the old one day thing!

Rick: Yeah, we are hoping to go.

Dean: It should be great. Anyway – I will give you a sneak preview of some of the album.

Rick: Oooh – are you sure?! Awesome.

Beth: Well this interview is a bit ‘off the cuff’ so that is about it, but I do like to try and ask everybody a random question at the end, so…. Jaffa Cakes – cake or biscuit?

Dean: Ooooooh you see, now everyone is going to say this, but you have opened a can of worms there haven’t you!!! I reckon cake, unless you leave it out too long on a plate and then it’s definitely a fuckin’ ‘orrible crunchy biscuit!!

Beth: But why is it a cake in the first place?

Dean: It’s spongey. It’s got a filling. It’s not a creamy filling accepted, it’s like a marmalade hybrid something!

Beth: But Jammy Dodgers have got jam inside.

Rick: Yeah but they’re biscuits – they’re not sponges!

Dean: And they are also horrible as well!! No one wants to eat one of them jam biscuits that ain’t got a little bit of that creamy shit in as well!! Creamy shit??! Where did that come from?! Creamy shit! That’s a story for another day that is!..(lots of laughing)

And on that note, Dean got his headphones out and played Rick a couple of tracks from the new album. To say Rick is excited about the release after hearing this sneak preview would be an understatement. We will be keeping you all up to date with release news for it, and recommend that fans, old and new, check it out.

We would like to thank Dean again for talking to us – always a pleasure, never a chore – and we looking forward to hooking up with him and the rest of Knock Out Kaine again very soon!

LINKS

(‘Ain’t Your Kind’ Video taken from the album ‘Rise Of The Electric Jester’ 2015)

Disclaimer: This interview is solely the property of Richard Tilley, Beth Jones and Ever Metal. It is strictly forbidden to copy any part of this review, unless you have the strict permission of both parties. Failure to do adhere to this will be treated as plagiarism and will be reported to the relevant authorities

 

Interview with Luke Appleton

Skype Interview with Luke Appleton – Sunday 3rd September – Somewhere around lunch time, with a cup of tea!

Interview by Beth Jones and Rick Tilley

For those of you who have not encountered the Appleton family, they are a beacon of professionalism and dedication in the hectic UK Metal scene. Today we had the pleasure of interviewing the baby of the clan, Luke, the rhythm guitarist with Absolva, in preparation for their up and coming European tour. It was great to chat to Luke to find out all about the tour, his journey with Iced Earth, and his views and experiences of the past, present and future of his career.

Ever Metal: It is lovely to be able to catch up with you again – it has been a while since we last spoke. So, the new album with Absolva, ‘Defiance’ came out about a month ago – tell us how that’s going down and how’s it has been accepted by everyone?

Luke: It’s been fantastic actually! We’re really happy with the response all the fans have given us. We’re very proud of this album. It’s been a very pleasurable experience in the studio recording it with everyone. Myself and Chris –  my brother, we’ve been working very hard on the writing –  a lot more together more than ever actually. On ‘Never A Good Day To Die’, our previous album, we co-wrote a lot of the songs together. However, this time I think we did it even more; I think you can tell that we’ve taken a lot of influence from the Iced Earth side, and the Blaze Bayley side, and kind of fused them together. I think that definitely shows with ‘Defiance’. It’s been a brilliant experience so far, and all the fans have taking it very well. I can’t wait for the tour really and to play all these new songs live!

Beth: That was my next question! The European Tour is starting 15th September – tell us all about that?

Luke: Well! Big European Tour!! It’s been a while since we’ve toured together due to our other commitments, but we’re very excited about it. We’ve got a good bunch of dates; a lot of these places we’ve been to quite a few times before and had some amazing crowds. We are returning to Germany, France, Belgium, The Netherlands and Czech Republic and we’re doing some shows in the UK in December as well. But we’ve got a very good hardcore following in France at the moment, which has been building for the last few years. We’ve got a very special show in Chez Paulette, for example, that’s going to be really good, we’re selling a lot of tickets for that! It’s always been full of die-hard Absolva fans, so we’re especially looking forward to that. But the whole tour is filled with amazing venues that we’ve been through in the past. It’s almost like a ‘best of’ tour kind of thing, but it’s going to be really good to tour this album. We’re extreme excited to get all the new songs out there.

Beth: So, at the moment the rest of the guys are in America touring with Blaze; What have you been doing while they’re out there?!

RICK: In case people don’t know, of course, you also do another job!

Luke: Yeah! Well whilst the boys have been out over in the States with The Blaze Bayley Band –  they’ve been out there for a while now, but they’re coming home soon –  I’ve been keeping busy with Iced Earth as I’m the bass player. I have been doing the summer festivals with them, which has been very fun actually! We’ve only just finished a few weeks ago, but we had about 12 festivals all over Europe. We did some really amazing ones. One of my personal highlights was Alcatraz Festival in Belgium. Belgium has always been kind of a second home for me. I’m sure the Belgium beer has something to do with that!! (lots of laughing) But the people are amazing.

We did Metaldays in Slovenia, and Sweden Rocks Festival. We did some amazing stuff, and we were out there promoting our new album, ‘Incorruptible’, which was released only a couple of months ago again. So, it’s been fantastic to tour that album a little bit and get to see all the Iced Earth boys again!

Beth: How does the balance between Absolva and Iced Earth work?

Luke: It’s surprisingly easy! The scheduling has been pretty amazing! As soon as I joined Iced Earth I thought, ‘everything is going to be 110 percent Iced Earth’, which in a lot of ways it is – Iced Earth is the priority for me – but I just thought I’d have no time for anything else. My down time would be just me sitting at home waiting for the next Iced Earth tour!  But, it’s worked out well, so in between those gaps I’ve had with Iced Earth, we’ve been able to plan Absolva tours with my brother (Chris Appleton – Absolva singer and lead guitarist) and so far, we haven’t really had any clashes, so it’s worked out very well – if I’m on tour with Iced Earth for a couple of months, it’s usually the case that my brother and the rest of the Absolva band are on tour with Blaze. It’s got such so much potential to become very messy, and we could clash a lot of the tour dates, but so far, it’s worked out really brilliantly! Fingers crossed that it will carry on like that for the coming years.

RICK: Does John (John Schaffer – founder member of Iced Earth) mind? Because I seem to remember when you first joined that there was a thought that you wouldn’t be able to do other stuff, but in the last couple of years, especially, I’ve seen, you more and more with Absolva. So, is he still happy with you moving across and doing other stuff?

Luke: Yeah. I basically just asked his permission, and what he thought about this thing, and he was perfectly fine with it. He was always fine with me doing recordings with the band and then as Absolva grew, I did more tours with them. Obviously, the past few years Iced Earth haven’t been completely full on, so I’ve been able to do more and more Absolva tours. Iced Earth are going to get ramped up again next year and do a full on proper tour for ‘Incorruptible’. That’s more potential for things to clash, se we are going to have to prioritize and plan out with a bit more care. But so far so good! I’m very happy with the way I can balance everything out and it’s been good. I think everybody’s happy about that.

Beth: So, you’ve had a pretty crazy year, so far; What’s been your highlight of this year?

Luke: Well, playing live is my main drive in the music business really. I love playing live and to play at these festivals this past summer has been fantastic really. There’s been some amazing audiences; some huge crowds we’ve done, so that is always my biggest adrenaline rush. That’s always going to be a highlight for me. At the beginning of the year, it was quite hectic because I was recording two albums!! I was recording ‘Incorruptible’ for Iced Earth, and ‘Defiance’ for Absolva. We did ‘Defiance’ first, I think it was the end of December beginning of January, something like that, then literally a few days after I finished in the studio with Absolva, I flew out to the States to record ‘Incorruptible’. So, it was ‘right I’ve got to switch from Absolva a mode and go in to Iced Earth mode’ which I found really fun, because it was just a good solid month or two just on the songwriting and recording. It was brilliant to just zone out everything else and focus purely on the songs, and to go over to the States and stay with John and the boys for a little over a week or so, record my bass parts and just hang out –  that was really nice. It’s something we don’t get much chance to do because we all live so far away from each other – everybody lives in the States, the singer lives in Canada, and I live here in England. So, it’s great to just hook up and do some song writing and get to hang out a bit.

Beth: How do you keep going with the schedule you have?! Do you ever sleep?!!

Rick: Not just you – it’s Chris and the boys too, as well as Mark and Lynne – you just never stop!!

Luke: That’s the way we like it! When Chris had some down time, he decided ‘I don’t want to have down time – I’m going to record an acoustic album and going to call it Restless!!’ So, it kind of like that with all our lives really, because we just don’t really want to stop! Whatever opportunity we get, we’ll always find something to do – go on tour, write an album, do something you know, whether it’s within the grounds of our bands and what we do; Me and Chris have similar kind of goals and aspects with what we do – our main thing again is playing live really. We want to play as many shows as possible, but also make sure the quality of those shows is the best possible. So those are our goals, and I think in this tour with Absolva coming up in a couple weeks, that is definitely going to show. It’s going to be fantastic to play this new album because I think this is going to be a big album for Absolva. We both have that same feeling and hope for this tour.

Beth: It is a superb album. We were listening to it again last night. I love it – it’s brilliant!

Luke: Thank you. We are very, very proud of it.

Rick: Well there aren’t many bands, nowadays, that can do four studio albums and a live album in basically five years is there? I can’t think of any other bands that could work at that schedule. It’s very old school isn’t it – it’s how it used to work?

Luke: Yeah exactly. It’s just an album a year we kind of used to work off, and whether it’s a live album or a studio album, we’ve just done it. We’re very, very pleased with it. And again, it’s something we want to do – we want to keep busy, keep the fans entertained, keep the material coming out – every time we release an album, a couple of months down the line, they ask ‘when’s the next one out?’! We haven’t even toured this one yet!!! (lots of laughing)

Beth: So, what’s next in the long term? Your plans for the next year with Absolva and Iced Earth?

Rick: You’ve mentioned Iced Earth touring much more next year, so if Absolva tour again, they will be going out without you, we assume?

Luke: We try and avoid that as much as possible – It has happened where Absolva have done it without me, I think it was SOS last year – SOS Festival which is the Appleton run festival in Manchester -Absolva did it without me and they just performed as a three piece because I was playing at Bang Your Head Festival in Germany with Iced Earth. That’s probably one of the only times we’ve ever done it, but we try and avoid that as much as possible and plan ahead as much as possible so that we can all be together, because the line -up is us four in Absolva now, we’ve established that, it’s not a three piece. It’s definitely us four as a band. So, we like to try and make that happen as much as possible.

There is going to be more Iced Earth touring because we really want to push the new album ‘Incorruptible’. Plans are going to come to a head for next year, but whilst that’s going to happen, the rest of the boys in Absolva have got another album to do with Blaze Bayley, which I believe they are recording at the end of this year. That will kind of finalize the trilogy of the Blaze Bayley’s story. They are going to tour that heavily, pretty much do exactly the same as they’ve done this year and last year, just do a mega tour for this as a finale of his trilogy. I think the scheduling is going to line up pretty similarly again. Iced Earth are going to be on tour whilst Blaze are on tour so it’s impossible to do any Absolva in that time. But something probably will happen for Absolva – we’ve just got to plan it and finalize it. It’s definitely worth keeping an eye out for.

Beth: You are playing in Sound Control, Manchester in December as part of the Absolva tour. How much are you looking forward to that– your home coming gig?

Luke: Very much so actually! Because even though we live here, we don’t actually get to play it that much, so it’s really nice that to finish the tour off, the last two shows of the December run, after Newcastle and Glasgow, are Manchester which is mine, Chris’ and Martin’s home town, and then we’ve got Swindon, which is Karl, our Bass player’s home town, so it’s really cool! We get to finish the whole tour off with two hometown shows. I think that’s going to be really special – there’s going to be a lot of good vibes, a lot of friends, family and a lot of really good hardcore fans there. I’m looking forward to that because it’s going to be a very good celebration, and home coming, if you want to say that, after a big long tour. It’s going to be good – definitely a highlight.

Beth: With you all being so busy, is it difficult to find a good work / life balance? Or does it just become your life?!

Luke: It’s pretty much become my life. Whenever I’m at home, I’ve got some hardcore friends and whatnot who really have stuck by and supported me throughout the years, since we really started to be honest, but the band comes first. There’s so many birthdays and family occasions that we’ve missed because the band always comes first. Many relationships with the boys have come and gone, kind of thing, but you know – it’s a hard life to handle, but we’ve got our eye on the prize!

Beth: An interesting one for you here – Will we ever see a Fury UK gig again for nostalgia’s sake?

Luke: We get asked this quite a lot actually! I really like the idea of it. However, it’s just finding the time to do it! Obviously, we’ve got three bands to balance with, so throwing a fourth in there – there are only a certain amount days in the year, you know! I would really like it to be honest. My dream plan would be getting Fury UK to headline at SOS Festival one year and make a little mini tour around that – a lot of people in the UK ask for it and a lot of people in Belgium were really keen on Fury UK, so it would be really good to do that again; to bring back all those lovely memories that we had, and to treat the fans. A lot of those Fury UK fans have gone on to follow Absolva and keep on backing the band. We still get people coming to Iced Earth shows even with an old Fury UK CD, wanting me to sign that. So, the fans still remember! It would be really cool to do that one day and we’ve talked about it a few times, it’s just finding the time and the place really. I think it will definitely happen. We’ll just discuss it and figure it out first.

Beth: If you had one story, from your career so far, that you’d want to tell the grandkids in years to come, what would it be?

Luke: A non-explicit one probably!! (Lots of laughing) I think one of my most memorable times was in Iced Earth, I would say. It was my first show with the band. We were in Toronto Canada, and we were opening for the band Volbeat. This was my first tour with the band, I think about five years ago now. It was an unbelievably nice but scary feeling. Just before the show I was crazily nervous, because Iced Earth had been one of my favourite bands for many years, and I was over the moon when they offered me the job. I knew a lot of the songs already, and when I was rehearsing and everything, I’m like ‘this is great! I’m playing some of my favourite songs, playing with my favourite band’. Then when it came to the day, maybe 10 minutes before the intro was going to start, I was just so nervous – my whole body was shaking – I was just unbelievably nervous and I remember John just coming over to me and giving me a big hug and just saying ‘you’re going to be all right. You’re going to do really well – have fun, just be natural out there’, and then I went on stage, played the first note and the fear went away and adrenaline took over. I think if I ever have grandkids, that would be one story to tell, because that was just such a monumental part of my life and experience. The way I look at it is just overcome your nervousness and your fear, and just go for it and then, ultimately, you will prevail – and something amazing has come out of that. That would be a story that I would like to tell one day.

Beth: You’ve already mentioned next year you going to have a heavier schedule again with Iced Earth in the summer. Have you got any festivals lined up that you can tell us about yet that have already been announced?

Luke: Not at the moment. We’ve not got anything concrete yet. Anything that I would be able to say has to be announced first, but we’ve got some very good plans. I’ve heard a lot of cool discussions about what we’re going to be doing next year. It’s very, very exciting, and it’s killing me that I can’t say it!

Rick: I want you at Bloodstock!

Luke: Yeah, that would be nice. I would love that!! I feel like it’s like a Game Of Thrones spoiler kind of thing! (laughing)

Beth: What about with Absolva – have you got anything with them that is already announced that you can fill us in on?

Luke: At the moment, we’re just focusing on this next tour for Absolva. We want to build a big hype for this and focus really on the shows. Stuff will happen for Absolva again next year – a particular festival in Manchester may happen as well! Everyone can read between the lines there Maybe!! But no, there’s going to be a lot of good stuff coming up and it will be announced very soon, so we’re very excited! Again, it’s going to be Iced Earth and Blaze Bayley; they’re the priorities for the first half of the year and then we’re going to dig into some more Absolva stuff.

Beth: If you were forming a super group, who would your perfect members be?

Luke: OOOh Yes! I’m going to be good at this question because my friend asked me that not too long ago! Is it anybody I can have? (Anybody! Anyone.) Anybody right? Well. Me on bass! Bit biased there, but me on bass. I’d have Tony Iommi on guitar. Glenn Hughes on vocals, ooh, drummer – not thought about that…Oh Mikkey Dee would be a good drummer, from Motorhead, I think that’s a good start for a super group! I suppose I can have another guitarist in there – I’ll have John Schaffer!

Beth: I’d pay good money to see that!

Luke: I think I’d pay good money just to be in the band!! (laughing)

Beth: What’s in your essentials bag for the tour bus?

Luke: No adventurous things. Lots of socks!! Lots of Socks – but I just take general stuff, you know, clothes and everything. I don’t go anywhere without my laptop – that’s my baby!! I always take a little interface with me as well, so I can actually plug my guitar into the interface, into my music program on my laptop, so I can just jam away in the dressing room, or if I’m in a hotel room, or something like that. So, inspiration can spark up anywhere kind of thing. The rider is much better than what I put in my bag actually! Bottles of rum and beers everywhere! That’s more like it!! (laughing)

Beth: What’s the most random thing you’ve ever had on a rider then?

Luke: Well Blaze likes to put a pair of socks on his rider!!! We don’t like doing laundry on tour, you see, so if we get a pair of socks every gig we’re all right!!! There was a funny one, one time; it was something to do with a banana! It had to be chopped in a particular way. The theory behind it was if you put this strange thing on the rider, the tour manager walks into the dressing room and sees that the promoter has done this crazy thing with the rider, he doesn’t need to check everything else because if they have done this really stupid thing, then they must have done all the normal things! That was the theory behind the M&M trick, you know, putting all the green M&Ms in a cup or something. So, yeah, that was probably the weird one with the banana!

Beth: We have seen a couple of instances recently of 80s pop icons singing with metal bands – Kim Wilde with Lawnmower Deth, then last week Rick Astley sung with The Foo Fighters. Who would you pick to sing with you?

Luke: I’m not very good with knowing who’s from which era… erm…. Was Bonnie Tyler from the eighties? Sorry – I’m a baby! Yeah, I’ll say Bonnie Tyler! We played a gig with her once actually, so it was very close to happening! It was cool because we played this festival in Sweden with Iced Earth. It was a very eclectic festival – there was all sorts of stuff going on – so it was Bonnie Tyler and then us!! I didn’t really know how it was going to go, but then all these swarms of metal heads came in after all the Bonnie Tyler fans!! It was quite a sight to see!

Rick: There’s one thing I’d like to ask – I have read about it in the magazine you did with the new Absolva album! Swapping between bass and guitar – how do you find it? I used to drum and it’s all I could do to remember the drum parts sometimes, but you’re going from one band playing bass to another band playing guitar – how do you find it? And I know you get on well with Karl (Bass player in Absolva) but how does the relationship work there?

Luke: Changing in-between the instruments I find quite fun, because it’s good to get a perspective on both sides of what you’re playing. With Absolva, I think it works very well because I do twin lead guitar solos and whatnot with Chris but I’m mainly the rhythm guitar player, so I’m all about staying with the bass and the drums. So, I’m still on the rhythm section page.

My relationship with Karl is very good, we get along really well, we have a lot in common, but we also have this little friendly rivalry going on. If we’re playing an Absolva a song that I demoed and wrote the bassline for, I’ll say, ‘Come on Karl – you need to play this properly!’ and then he will return and say, ‘you may have written the bassline but I improved it!’. So, there’s this little friendly rivalry and jokes going on but it’s all friendly you know – we never start punching each other or anything!! Not maliciously anyway!

But, the swapping between guitar and bass Is fine. I find it very fun. I love playing guitar. I find it a lot easier to write a song on a guitar than I do a bass. However, I prefer playing a bass because I feel like I have a little bit more freedom; improvising with the drums, and whatever fills the drummer does, I feel like I should follow. With a guitar, I believe that you’re a little bit more limited with what you play, because it’s all about the melodies really, and the guitar you can hear playing those melodies a lot more than a bass player would do. As long as I’m staying within the groove of the song, I like to throw in a lot of fills with what the drummer is playing whether that’s Iced Earth, Fury UK, Whatever. The best way of describing it is what John says; I believe the bassist has to be the rock of the band. It needs to be together with the drums and the glue between the drummer and guitar player. That’s the best way of describing it in my opinion because it really is the base of the band – it’s like creating a house; You’ve got your base, then your upper levels and your singer is your roof. I had a comment when I went into the studio with John and I was playing bass and he said, ‘right snap out of guitar mode get into bass mode’! So sometimes I do just have to say, ‘right, okay, I’m playing bass right now’! But I find it fun, more often than not!

Ever Metal: Well that is it Luke. Thanks so much for talking to us today and we are really looking forward to the tour, and hopefully we will get to the Manchester date to come and see you.

Luke: Thank you for taking the time to talk to me and we’ll have a beer in Manchester!

The Absolva ‘Defiance’ tour 2017 kicks of next week in Germany and, from listening to the album and knowing how hard these boys work, we can pretty much tell you now with 100% confidence that it is going to be amazing. If you can make one of the dates, do, because we promise you won’t be disappointed!! We would like to thank Luke again for his time talking to us, and wish him and the rest of Absolva immense luck and success for the tour and beyond.

For more information on the Band, the tour, and of course their other bands, Iced Earth and Blaze Bayley, here are the links you need:

 

Absolva Tour Poster

Disclaimer: This interview is solely the property of Richard Tilley, Beth Jones and Ever Metal. It is strictly forbidden to copy any part of this review, unless you have the strict permission of both parties. Failure to do adhere to this will be treated as plagiarism and will be reported to the relevant authorities

JACK STARR’S BURNING STARR INTERVIEW with Jack Starr

 

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JACK STARR’S BURNING STARR INTERVIEW

Jack Starr’s Burning Starr is the band formed by guitarist Jack Starr after he left Virgin Steele. Here I had the opportunity to question him on all things Burning Starr and music in general.

Hi, I’m Dawn King from Ever Metal. I would like to thank you for taking the time to talk to us and I hope you are all well?

Thanks Dawn, I am happy to talk to you and the readers of Ever Metal , I am doing good and feeling great about the new album

For those who don’t know much about you, can you tell us a little bit about yourself and about the band?

My band is called Burning Starr and I started the band in 1986. Our first album was called ‘Rock The American Way’, prior to that I did a solo album with Rhett Forester called ‘Out Of The Darkness’ and before that from 1981 to 1984 I was in a band I founded called Virgin Steele

You have been described as US Power Metal. Would you say this is an accurate description of the music you play?

Yes I really think it is an accurate description in fact sometimes, because of my history with Virgin Steele, I have been described as one of the founders of Power Metal and certainly in 1981 the ranks of people playing power metal were very thin as this music was just starting out

I have read you being described a “one of the unsung heroes of heavy metal” How would you react to this?

I think it’s true at least from the financial stand point lol, I see some musicians who came out at the same time as me like for instance Metallica who have done incredibly well and live like royalty while I am still struggling a bit, and when Metallica came out we were on some of the same labels like for instance the British label Music for Nations we appeared on a half dozen compilation albums together so yes in comparison I am pretty “unsung” but to tell the truth I do have fans all over the world (just not as many lol) and all of my many albums have been reissued sometimes 2 and 3 times thru out the years so I really can’t complain!

You were one of the founding members of Virgin Steele. Was it difficult to escape that name to branch out on your own?

It really was and it has been just recently that I am seeing more articles and posts about me that don’t mention Virgin Steele, so I think that it has taken time but finally I am being recognized for Jack Starr and Burning Starr after all this is our eighth studio album and we have been together for over thirty years no. Initially it was not hard to branch out on my own, as soon as I left Virgin Steele I got a very big record deal with the biggest independent record label in America called Passport who had big acts on their label like Leslie West, Wendy O Williams, Bill Wyman of the Rolling Stones (that one really impressed me at the time), I was on the same label as one of the Stones!! But as time went by I started playing a more epic style of music which was better received in Europe and my focus starting shifting to Europe and new metal markets like Germany where our albums started coming out with regularity!

Apart from your own bands, you have participated in many different projects e.g. Devil Childe, Phantom Lord, Thrasher and Strider. Does this mean you have an open mind where music is concerned?

I really do have an open mind when it comes to music, I like to quote Beethoven who said “the only rule in music is that it has to sound good” and for me that means that any music is cool if it sounds good including Middle Eastern, Blues, Folk ,Jazz and lots of classical too!

The current line-up features you, Todd Michael Hall on vocals, Ned Meloni on bass and Kenny “Rhino” Earl on drums. How did the four of you come together?

We came together when I signed a record with Magic Circle Music, the label that was founded by Joey DeMaio the bass player for Manowar, he actually helped us find Todd Michael Hall and introduced us to ‘Rhino’ who was a former drummer of Manowar. I had contact with Joey back in the eighties when my band Virgin Steele did shows with them since both bands were considered stylistically similar. So I would have to say that Joey did the introductions and we all got along great and decided to stick together.

It has been eight years since your previous release as Jack Starr’s Burning Starr, the album “Land Of The Dead” What were you working on in that time?

It really was more like close to six years but it did feel very long.Iin that time I was also playing blues and doing local shows, it was difficult because Todd also joined RiotV and ‘Rhino’ was doing gigs with Ross the Boss and Ned was raising small children and learning how to use Pro Tools so everyone had their plates full, also we are really recording 2 albums and on the vinyl it is a double album ,we had to leave off some tracks on the cd but there is over 80 minutes of music not counting our remake of ‘Children Of The Storm’ the first song Virgin Steele recorded and also we did go to Europe and do festivals a couple times too in that timespan!

How do you think your music is received in the UK and are there any plans for a tour over here?

To tell you the truth I didn’t think we had very many fans in the UK but lately that has been changing and I really think that anyone who is into Saxon or Maiden would probably like our new album ‘Stand Your Ground’, without sounding cocky I think the playing and songwriting is on that level but to clarify what I am saying, we were not influenced by those band but since I am pretty much the same age as those guys I can say that we share a lot of the same influences and so if there are any similarities it is because of that reason more than anything else!

“Stand Your Ground” is an album full of 12 cracking tracks. Which is your favourite from the album and why?

That is really a difficult question because we tried very hard to not have any filler on the album and our producer Bart Gabriel was very adamant that we should only have the best of our songs and so we threw out a lot of songs that didn’t make the cut and what was left was the best of at least 20 songs, but that said, I would have to say that the title track “Stand Your Ground ” is my personal favourite, I am really happy with my solos on that track and I am also amazed at how great our bass player Ned Meloni played and of course the harmonies that Todd Micheal Hall came up with can only be described as delicious,(it reminds me of the great Freddy Mercury ) and there is nothing I can say about ‘Rhino’’s drumming that has not already been said but let me just sum it up that for me ‘Rhino’ is without a doubt one of the top ten drummers in metal!

We are just coming to the end of the festival season. Which would be your favourite festival to play and why?

I would love to play the Sweden Rock festival, it is something I always wanted to do and I was a little jealous a few years back when a friend of mine Mike Favata who is the drummer for Thor told me about how much he loved playing that festival, so yes it would be cool for me to play that festival and it would also mean that two old friends and classmates from Long Beach High School, New York would have played the same festival

Heavy metal and the rock n roll lifestyle kind of go hand on hand. What is the most “rock n roll” thing you have ever done?

Well really I am quite boring, so there is no driving cars into swimming pools or running naked in the lobby of hotels for me but I love reading about other people doing crazy things lol!

So what’s next on the horizon for Jack Starr’s Burning Starr?

The next thing for us is to make this record do well and climb up a few rungs on the ladder of rock success and go back to Europe and play and meet more fans and raise a glass or two

Thank you for your time. Is there anything else you would like to add?

Thanks Dawn, the only thing I can add is that life goes by quick and I would recommend we all step out of our comfort zone and meet new people and experience new things like maybe the new Burning Starr album!

Metal On, and Keep the Metal Burning

Jack Starr Florida, 2017

Thank You

Dawn

Find out more about Jack Starr and his band Burning Starr using the following social media links

**Jack Starr used/new cassettes, cds, records, posters and magazines are available on eBay.com worldwide**

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Disclaimer: This interview is solely the property of Dawn “The Metal Priestess” King and Ever Metal. It is strictly forbidden to copy any part of this review, unless you have the strict permission of both parties. Failure to do adhere to this will be treated as plagiarism and will be reported to the relevant authorities

 

Immortal Machinery Interview

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Immortal Machinery are a three-piece from London, England that have made ME, for one, sit up and take notice. With vocalist Steph K’s very distinctive voice, bassist Matt G’s jazz sensibilities and drummer Tom S’s hard hitting grooves they have found themselves making their own brand of metal, dark and melodic with gothic influences. I reviewed their second album “An Imperfect Storm” back in March of this year and jumped at the chance to get the guys to answer some questions for us.

Hi, I’m Dawn King from Ever Metal. I would like to thank you for taking the time to talk to us and I hope you are all well?

We’re doing pretty great, glad we could have a chat!

For those who haven’t heard of Immortal Machinery, can you give us some history about the band?

We started in the latter half of 2013 – we had met at a jam night in central London a couple of years prior, and once I put a few songs together we finally started pushing ahead with the band as a more serious entity.

It became apparent quite quickly that we’d have to do things the DIY way – both our albums have been recorded in a shed with no running water. No shiny studios for us! We also very early on started booking our own self-promoted shows; there’s something quite satisfying about taking control and having the chance to be a curator of other good bands.

Where did the name Immortal Machinery, which I think is great by the way, come from?

If I want to impress people, I tell them that the name sums up what I believe is the human condition – an immortal soul in a bodily machine. Then I realise how pretentious that sounds and admit the truth: I wanted to call the band “Mortal Engines” after a rather good sci fi book. But of course, in the age of Google (and lawsuits) you probably want a more unique name.

Your second album “An Imperfect Storm” was released in april of this year. How is it beng received (obviously other than by me because I thought it was fab!)

It’s a big step up from our first recordings, and I think people are really responding to that. The cliché is for bands to struggle to top the impression they made with their debut – I feel like we’ve grown significantly since then so showing everyone what we’re made of now has been really satisfying. Also, it’s nice to surprise people with such a big string-led sound.

And how was the launch party? I was gutted I missed it.

Aside from your absence, it was everything we could have hoped for! For those who don’t know, we took over an abandoned attic in Camden – we played a set, cracked a few bottles open and then people got into jamming and doing a bit of metal karaoke. People were only given the address after buying a ticket, so there was quite an air of mystery about the event. It felt more like a house party with live music; with so many venues closing, I’d love to see more bands do stuff like this. There’s a video of the party here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y-3jL2OHUbw&t=67s

I stated in my review that your album “An Imperfect Storm” had an individuality and a uniqueness about it. Did you purposefully set out to record something that was different?

I feel as if there’s a fine line between doing your best to be original, and just making gratuitously weird music (prog..ahem…). Yes, we wanted to make something unique, but I’d like to think that we did so in a way that played to our strengths. I’ve been playing the violin since before the age of 4, so to orchestrate string parts felt like the most natural thing to do; Mat the bassist had the freedom to throw as much jazz virtuosity as he felt like into the mix – and Peter the drummer had full license to show off in his own way too.

So, Steph, you not only provide the guitars and the vocals but also the stringed instruments. How does that work at a live show?

A rather nice chap called Mr Samsung Tablet helps us out; it’s perhaps not in the spirit of rock’n’roll, but until we can afford to bring out a string quartet on the road, we have no choice but to play the string parts on a backing track. Though it’s a recording, I would dare to argue that from a sonic perspective it’s still more “real” than having a keyboardist play synthetic orchestra sounds – it’s still me playing, after all!

And your voice!! That was one of the highlights of the album for me. How do other people view the vocals?

Thankfully, it does get a fair bit of good feedback although I’m well aware that it’s just not some people’s cup of tea. I think the general expectation is for a raspy classic rock voice or a power metal-style belter, and what I do jars with that somewhat. If I could sing like Bruce Dickinson, you’d better believe that I would. But I’m stuck being a midget with a deep voice…

My favourite track on the album is “Nail Me Upside Down” What is yours and why?

For me, it’s got to be “I Did it for You”. I’m very happy with the album as a whole, but I feel like if I had to sum up what we were trying to achieve in one track, it would be this one. Close second is “Tongues of Fire”, as personally I think Mat and Peter’s abilities on bass and drums really got showcased there.

Its hard to pick out your influences as you have such a distinctive sound. What bands and artists have influenced you as individuals and collectively?

Collectively, what we seem to value the most is top notch musicianship. Though they’re not what you might typically think of as virtuosos, bands like Sting and the Police, Toto and Steely Dan stand out to us as a real gold standard of tightness and proficiency.

For me – I love anything dark and miserable. Type O Negative and Danzig are up there, but I also love the work of Tom Waits, Leonard Cohen and I’m also an insufferable Springsteen fanboy (his lyrics are far more bleak than they’re given credit for).

Mat’s first love is Pink Floyd; but he also loves weird and obnoxious jazz fusion from the 70s and 80s, like Allan Holdsworth or Frank Gambale. He’s also introduced me to an obscenely talented young trio from London called Preston Glasgow Lowe. It’s a world away from rock and metal, but I think that’s a very healthy thing for the band.

Peter is a huge fan of drumming icon Dave Weckl, and consequently any of the many projects he’s been in. He’s also the one who got us listening to bands like Toto and actually appreciate their ability rather than just belt along to the chorus of “Africa”.

Most of us have a musical guilty pleasure, perhaps a band or genre of music that doesn’t fall into what people expect us to listen to. Who or what are your musical guilty pleasures?

There’s a Swedish band called Dirty Loops who became a bit of a YouTube sensation by doing outrageously intricate jazz/funk re-workings of current pop songs. We are in awe of their ability, but no matter which way you dress it up we are still bouncing along to songs from Justin Bieber and Adele.

We are now in the middle of festival season. If you could play one festival anywhere in the world, which would it be and why?

It seems that when it comes to heavy music, the East Europeans and South Americans both seem to go nuts in a way that other countries just aren’t at the moment. So, anything from either of those two parts of the world.

So what’s next on the horizon for Immortal Machinery? Any plans for a tour?

We’re hatching some plans… We’ve already played 6 shows in Europe and Scandinavia, so we’d like to do more of that!

Well, thank you for your time. Is there anything else you would like to add?

We’re just happy you enjoyed the album so much, it really means a lot.

Thank You

Dawn”

So, there you have it. Not only are this band great at what they do, they are also cool to talk to (albeit via email) Thank you to the guys for giving up their time to talk to me and if you haven’t checked out this fantastic band I highly recommend you do.

 

 

Disclaimer: This interview is solely the property of Dawn “The Metal Priestess” King and Ever Metal. It is strictly forbidden to copy any part of this review, unless you have the strict permission of both parties. Failure to do adhere to this will be treated as plagiarism and will be reported to the relevant authorities

Apocalypse Orchestra Interview

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Apocalypse Orchestra are a folk/doom crossover band from Sweden formed in 2013. I have never really been a fan of folk metal, it being a genre I tended to shy away from, but I love the whole concept of doom, and thought the mix of the two would be interesting, if not unusual. When their debut album “The End is Nigh” landed in the Ever Metal inbox I was lucky enough to not only be able to review it but also to do an email interview with the band. I hope you enjoy learning a bit more about the band that is Apocalypse Orchestra!

“Hi, I’m Dawn King from Ever Metal! I would like to thank you for taking the time to talk to us and I hope you are all well? For those who haven’t heard of Apocalypse Orchestra before can you give us some history about the band?

[Erik] Well, Mikael, Andreas and I have played in various bands prior to AO, and when our most recent, a folk rock band, went belly up, Mikael came up with the idea of trying something different. Building on our love for medieval music and culture, he asked me if I would like to try to mix actual medieval tunes, alongside our own contemporary melodies, and fuse them with metal. Slow metal, since most folk metal acts tend to go in the other direction. Given that we like quite a few doom bands this felt natural. And when we tried some combinations of medieval melodies with this kind of metal, we knew we were on to something!

Where did the name ‘Apocalypse Orchestra’ come from?

[Mikael] We sought long and hard for a name that suited us. Finally we found one that worked. In medieval times the thought of the apocalypse was ever present, be it through famine, pestilence or of a more divine nature. Also, the word apocalypse means “to reveal” which we interpret as, even if it’s the end of the world as we know it, it might also be the beginning of something new. 

Your debut album “The End Is Nigh” was released in May of this year. How is it being received so far?

[Erik] We have been dumbfounded by the amount of positive receptions! Even though we are very proud at what we have accomplished and created, we couldn’t believe that our album, especially being a debut, could spread as far and wide so fast. It has also been really humbling to read all the good natured reviews.

[Mikael] I find it very satisfying that people seem to have really listened to and understood what we wanted to achieve, that we’re not doing “traditional” folk metal but something different.

Before that you released a demo, “The Garden of Earthly Delights” back in 2015. What made you decide to use tracks from that on the album and not write completely new material?

[Erik] We started out composing songs to make an entire album. Along the way, there was suddenly a demand for some sort of release. People wanted to buy CD’s at gigs and whatnot, so we were about halfway through composing for the album, and thus we released what we had at the time.

There is an obvious medieval theme to your music! Is history something you are all interested in or is it the influence of just one person?

[Mikael] We all have some kind of historical interest. Several of us like medieval faires and medieval/folk music. We even have a black smith in the band who knows a lot about medieval smithing.

[Erik] Yes, and we have a great love of medieval art and other cultural expressions as well. Many of our influences can be found in the actual era.

Likewise, your lyrics deal with some very dark themes. Who comes up with these ideas and do you collaborate as a band when writing material?

[Erik] Usually one of us spawns the idea, the better part of a song’s lyrics, and then we throw it back and forth among us. It can be a bit tricky of course, especially when Mikael writes the most part of any song, and it is I who will have to sing it and make it work melodically, haha.

[Mikael] Yes, sometimes the first drafts of any lyrics would require a rapper for it to work.

I watched the video to your track “The Garden Of Earthly Delights” and it was set in a stunning location! Where was it filmed and whose idea was it to shoot the video there?

[Mikael] We looked at several locations to find the perfect one. We even checked an old copper mine but when we found Vasaborgen (The Vasa Castle) in Uppsala, only 100km from our home town, we instantly knew it was the one. The contact at Vasaborgen immediately loved the idea and was very helpful in making it happen.

[Erik] The location is a part of the greater castle area, an unrenovated part of the castle grounds with its original 16th century interior and is now used as a museum. It was monumental to be given the chance to film there, and it left us in awe of being in a place where so many have gone before us. It was also cold as hell that day, which you can clearly see in the video when we exhale!

You all play a vast array of instruments on the album, such as Hurdy Gurdy, Lute, Bagpipes and Rauschpfeife! How important was it to include those authentic sounds when recording and does it present any issues when playing the material live?

[Erik] It is key to have them on any recording. They are a part of our sound, our soul. Live we try to incorporate as much as we can, but depending on the venue and gear, we also have parts of the music playing from the computer. But it’s more fun when can go all out live, like recently when we had our release party, guest musicians, all kinds of weird instruments, and our friend in the choir performing live with us!

[Mikael] Wooden instruments, and traditional strings, always pose a challenge when playing this kind of music but it has worked out well so far.

As much as I don’t like to pigeon hole bands, your music has been classed as Folk Metal meets Doom Metal. Do you think that is an accurate description and if not how would you describe your music?

[Mikael] Someone said we sounded like Contemporary Medieval Metal and we think that fits rather well, but we don’t mind being called folk metal either since we share several elements with that genre.

[Erik] I also get the doom element, since you can most likely hear that we like and listen to a lot of doom bands. But on the other hand, you can as easily find other elements as well…

Which bands and artists have influenced you as individuals and collectively and are there any current bands that you admire?

[Mikael] The bands that started my interest in medieval music were Garmarna and Falso Bordone. Bands and artists that influence me now are Amorphis, Myrkur, Anna von Hausswolf and Obsequiae to name just a few.

[Erik] I agree with Mikael with most of his name dropping. Add Paradise Lost (which all of the band love) and other folk metal acts like Lumsk, Myrkgrav, Otyg combined with different kind of bands like Type O Negative, and you can imagine that we get our inspirations from a wide variety of ‘genres’.

Most of us have musical guilty pleasures, perhaps a band or genre of music that doesn’t fall into what people might expect you to listen to. Who or what are your musical guilty pleasures?

[Mikael] I think we’re too old to be embarrassed anymore ha ha. I listen to a lot of electronic music. My favourites right now are Christian Gabel and the soundtrack to Stranger Things.

[Erik] Haha, probably many that others would label ‘guilty pleasures’, but I am not ashamed of any of them! We can go all the way from 70’s and 80’s AOR to nu-metal to the most horrible kind of eclectic folk music… I like way to much music for my own good. But, for the sake of it, one band that I listen to a lot right now is one of my childhood heroes, Def Leppard!

What was it like to have Per Nilsson, of Scar Symmetry and Kaipa fame, mix your debut album ‘The End Is Nigh’?

[Erik] Like a breeze! He had a really good grasp of our sound to begin with, being a friend of the band. So he simply took our recording and refined it, made it grow, and transformed it into something so much more than we would ever have been able to do ourselves. Still it’s fun that we also could give him a challenge, since we use all these bizarre instruments, and also due to the fact that sometimes our arrangements are well over 100 channels… Still, he is a champ, and as he himself listens to and plays many different kinds of music, we were never even worried.

Are there any plans for a tour? Are you likely to hit British soil?

[Mikael] We would love to, playing live is a reward in itself to us. Meeting listeners and spreading our plague! We feel confident that we will visit your shores in the future as more and more discover our music. We have no shows booked this summer since the album was released a bit too late to play the festivals but hopefully we’ll get to do some concerts this fall.

There are some hugely diverse and major music festivals around the world! If you could play one of them which would it be and why?

[Erik] It is impossible to pick just one, since so many are so good, and between them the diversity in itself makes the choice impossible. We have played both in the “natural metal scene” as well as other non-metal events, both with positive feedback, so we are not necessarily bound to either one. We could just as easily show up on a renaissance fair as well as on a big metal festival, or maybe one day we will just throw a theatrical medieval metal epos in a setting like Alhambra in Spain, Dalhalla in Sweden, or why not the above concept as a traveling show in medieval castles through Europe?

[Mikael] I agree with all of the above. It’s not so much about the festival as it is with a location that magnifies the music and the show.

Is there anything you would like to add before we finish?

[Both] Thank you very much for taking your time and interest with us, it is much appreciated, and we also thank you for helping us spreading the plague. Stay folk!

Thank You so much

Dawn”

I would like to take this opportunity to thank the guys at Apocalypse Orchestra for their time and also for their rapid response. I hope to see more of this great band, both on record and on the stage, in the near future and if you haven’t checked them out…..Go and do so!!

To find out more about Apocalypse Orchestra please go to the following links:

 

Disclaimer: This interview is solely the property of Dawn “The Metal Priestess” King and Ever Metal. It is strictly forbidden to copy any part of this review, unless you have the strict permission of both parties. Failure to do adhere to this will be treated as plagiarism and will be reported to the relevant authorities

 

 

 

 

Uprising Festival Interview with Simon Yarwood

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Simon Yarwood Interview 27/05/2017

Interview by Rick Tilley and Beth Jones.

I’ve known Simon Yarwood for about five years now, primarily for being one of the guitarists in Resin. However, in more recent times, he has become well known in the Metal and Rock community for promoting and organising excellent gigs and events at the Firebug in Leicester and further afield through ‘Resin Events’ and that’s why I caught up to have a chat with him at Uprising because he is the genius/madman that organises this huge event, with the main day (Saturday) taking place at De Montfort Hall and a further two events on the Friday ‘The Night Before Uprising’ and Sunday ‘Uprising Aftermath’ at the aforementioned Firebug!

If you already know Simon then you’ll be aware of his razor sharp wit, incredibly dry sense of humour and massive selection of hugely colourful shirts. If you don’t know Simon then I’m warning you now about his razor sharp wit, incredibly dry sense of humour and massive collection of hugely colourful shirts. Simon is also a lovely guy and works his butt off to make sure that EVERYTHING runs as smoothly as possible. If you are thinking of going into the promotional side of things then I would heartily suggest Simon is one of the go to people so you can witness how things are done properly! He is always a pleasure to talk to and this was no exception!

Rick: Hi Simon, it’s lovely to see you again. This is the second year for Uprising. What made you decide that an already full festival circuit needed another event?

Simon: I think that we feel, and we still believe that this stands on its own two feet, you know, the quality of the venue and hopefully the organisational skills of myself and my partner behind it. I think there is room as well, especially when you look at the capacities of different ‘festivals’ for want of a better word,…it isn’t a word we use because Uprising is not a festival really, it’s just an event on its own, but there is a hole that we thought this would fill in terms of size. You have the sort of 200–300 capacity festivals and then you’ve got the 5000-10000 capacity festivals and there’s not really much that sits in between those. This has got, well the building itself will hold 2 and a half thousand people before we even move outside, so I think there was a space for it. With the right bands and the right backing from the public, I think it’s a hole that can be filled and we’ll fill it…and that’s cool!

Rick: Can you take us through some of the work that you do to put an event like this together?

Simon: I just ring my partner in crime, Matt, and say ‘can you do this?’ and ‘this needs doing’ and ‘can you do that?’ and ‘that needs doing’!

Rick: So it’s delegation?

Simon: Yeah, and then he’ll ring me and say ‘have you done this?’ and ‘that needs doing’ and we just kind of do that to each other really! We’ve both got different skills.

Beth: How long does it take to organise it? Do you start tomorrow?

Simon: Yeah. We will start tomorrow for next year. It’s like last year on the Sunday afterwards we were working on what we needed to do to put things in place for this year!

Rick: well that sort of leads into my next question. How did the arrangement / partnership with De Montfort Hall come about because it’s such an incredible venue?

Simon: It is yeah. I’ll be honest, I am lucky there because my partner at Uprising, Matt, he’s already got a relationship with this venue. He’s part of a board that put a festival on here called ‘Simon Says’. It’s completely different music you know, it’s more Indie, it’s very local bands focused and they’ll have the headliner, I think, this year is maybe The Wonder Stuff or someone like that, I can’t remember. So he’s got a relationship with the venue. So when we approached them to do something that was metal they trusted his past record and obviously he trusted me with my promotions and events that I put on, so that between us we would actually make it work. So he kind of leaves me to deal with anything bands and line-up related because he hasn’t got, maybe, the same feel for what bands need to be playing at the event, but when it comes to the venue itself and how we have to run such a large scale event, he’s got maybe more experience than me in that type of thing, so the two of us together, yeah we shout at each other and then it comes out right!

Rick: How many bands do you actually have to go through before you get to a line-up you are happy with? Because there have got to be bands who can’t do it etc.!

Simon: I would say for every band we book we’ve probably gone through anywhere from 5 to 10. for every slot we’ve probably got 10 bands that we’re looking at to fill that slot and you might find that instantly 7 of them can’t play, and then you’re down to 3 and you might take that 3 back up to 6 with others, you know, it’s just constantly changing. And you have got to put quite a mixed bag on to appeal. You need any sort of random Metalhead that will look at the line-up and there will be sort of 3 bands that are going to appeal to them, because that might be enough for him or her to make the decision to buy a ticket so you fill one slot with a thrash band and you may have another thrash band sitting as a possible for another slot, but you’ve already filled your quota of thrash bands, so they’ve got to go and you’ve got to fill it with a different style of metal so you’ve always got, hopefully, that right mix.

Rick: Obviously you’ve got a relationship with Simon Hall (Metal 2 The Masses Organiser), but how important is it for you to make sure that the Leicester Final of ‘Metal 2 The Masses’ is on here along with the rest of the bands?

Simon: The whole event was built round that you know! I mean Firebug where we put events on is an absolutely stunning little venue, but it is a small venue, and looking at a typical capacity for a final it wasn’t big enough, so then the conversation started with myself and Matt, whereby I said ‘look I want to run ‘Metal 2 The Masses’ but we need a venue for the final other than Firebug, what have we got,’ so Matt said ‘Well let’s do De Montfort Hall’ and I’m like.. ‘Woah… Yeah, well that’s gonna look a bit rubbish with 250 people in there’ and he went ‘well book some more bands then!’ I mean every band in that final, they will leave today, and the same last year, with photographs and video footage that they will never ever forget. I mean to get that production just to do a video would probably cost you ten thousand pounds, you know, for that lighting rig, for that stage, to use that venue for half an hour, to just film a video, would cost you ten thousand quid, I would imagine, and they are leaving here with a full load of footage and photos. I was watching them last year thinking ‘I want some of that! I’m booking my band! How come they’re all playing that stage…what have I done wrong? It’s brilliant. It’s a prize in itself you know. What I like as well is those bands playing that final and they are happy to play that final…to them that is probably their dream gig…until that winning band goes to Bloodstock, and then they realise how much more Bloodstock is. I know that because I’ve done it. I’ve won it, I’ve played it. I know what they are going to feel when they get there, they don’t! So they think this is amazing, but they haven’t yet experienced the Bloodstock experience, so I know that somewhere along the line in the next couple of months I’m gonna get a phone call going, ‘that was amazing, thank you so much’ and that’s what makes it worthwhile!

Rick: I know you have mentioned a bit about Matt, but you have got a load of people who you work with. How important is it to have people round that you trust?

Simon: It’s absolutely the most important thing. It’s more important than anything else! If I can say to anybody on our team, ‘I need this doing’, and I can then move on to do something else. It doesn’t matter what it is, if it is press related or artwork related, or production related, to know that you can just drop somebody an email asking them to do something and know that they’re either going to do it or let you know why they can’t is great. It frees your time up to go and do something that is perhaps more in your skill set. There are probably ten of us I think… all together!

Rick: Wow… that’s not a lot for an event this size!

Now this question is a bit sensitive… The attack in Manchester this week (Referring to the terrorist attack at the Ariana Grande Concert on 22nd May, five days before Uprising). Do you think it is going to put people off going to festivals or events? Or… do you think there is going to be resilience and people are going to fight back?

Simon: I think that for every person that stays at home, there will be another person that makes sure they go out. Some people naturally want to show solidarity or defiance or community spirit and we are seeing that. You saw it in Firebug last night you know…to see everybody stay silent for a minute at 10 o’clock, just because somebody has asked them to. That sort of respect, especially in our community, is really important so… I think it makes you think you know. It makes us have to work harder. We’ve had the police here all the time. We have been very strict on access to certain areas of the building. But maybe that is a good thing!

Beth: It’s reassuring isn’t it?

Simon: Yeah, yeah! We had to get together, we had to have a meeting and we had to decide. The venue had to look at how to make it as safe as possible and of course that’s all going on with days to go! You know, you’ve got to react and you’ve got to put something in place really. But from the public side of things, I don’t think they’ll see anything other than a couple of policemen here that weren’t. They were here last year, you know, they just didn’t have to walk in the building. They just called by and asked if everyone was all right and then went again, but this year they have to be here all the time and they are loving it!

Beth: Yeah, from our point of view, everything still seems very relaxed inside!

Simon: It is, and that is because of the people who are here and if you make them feel safe then they are going to be relaxed aren’t they? And it is a safe place to be!

Rick: How do you want the event to grow over the next three to five years? I’m assuming you are going to carry it on?

Simon: Yeah, I’ve got no intention of saying ‘well there we go that’s it then!’ I’m reluctant to ever want to move away from this venue. I think the venue is important for the quality of the event. Seeing people’s faces when they walk into this venue for the first time, saying the things that they say…!

Rick: Me being one of them, you know, I am a London boy and for me I was always going to Hammy Odeon, and this is my first time here and I walked in and was like…wow, this is a lovely venue!

Simon: Yep, and you capture people instantly then don’t you, you know, before you’ve even heard a band? You walk in that reception and there’s like gold braided ropes and plush red carpets and a proper box office with videos playing… You know last year I had people walking in saying ‘So what room is Uprising in?’ and I was like…you’re in it!! It’s the whole thing…just knock yourself out, go for a walk, go and find things! and they were all ‘Wow this is amazing!’ So I don’t want to lose that you know? ‘Simon Says Festival’, which we hold here, just in the grounds over there. There is a big outdoor stage and a marquee that gets put up with a 300 capacity! We’ve also got a bandstand where the acoustic acts are playing, so my aim is to mirror that really. You know we could have three and a half thousand people here with a decent outdoor stage. Probably another two stages but still all contained within these grounds. I mean you’re sat outside the stage door now and that is usually a grubby place. However, we are sat at a picnic table under a tree!

Rick: It makes a big difference doesn’t it?

I then asked Beth if she had any questions for Simon!

Beth: I don’t think so. I am quite new at this.

Simon: So am I! (This caused lots of laughter)

Beth: No literally, my first ever interview earlier was Lawnmower Deth!!

Simon: Wow, baptism of fire!!

Beth: Exactly! You are obviously very passionate about this?

Simon: Is this ten times more than you expected it to be when you turned up?

Rick & Beth: Yes!!

Simon: Well that’s my job done then!

Rick: When I walked into that main stage I was like, ‘Well I wasn’t expecting that’!

Simon: Yeah that’s my job definitely done then!

Beth: Do you every get days when you think, ‘Why am I doing this?’

Simon: Yeah…seven days a week probably!! (Laughing) But when you see it coming together it is…

Beth: It’s a happy warm feeling?

Simon: Yeah because that’s what it’s all about isn’t it? At the end of the day, when those doors open, people walk in and the music starts. Those 12 hours are…

Rick: And are you pleased with the turnout?

Simon: I’m always happy with the turnout. As long as everyone who wanted to come has come, I’m happy. If more people come, great and if less people come…well, I don’t want anybody to be here who doesn’t want to be here so… I want everyone that wanted to be here to come, but if some can’t, for whatever reason, then that’s a shame! Whatever, I will always be happy with the turnout. It’s not the customer’s responsibility you know. You show them something and they decide if they want to come, and they come or they don’t and then whatever the result of that is you take it on the chin.

Beth: So, apart from starting to organise next year’s event, what are you intending to do on Monday morning?

Simon: Erm… I’ve no idea! I’ve got breakfast in the hotel, I know that, and after that I don’t know! Probably start paying some bills!! (Lots of laughing) I’m back at work on Tuesday. That’s the real life. My gaffer at work actually asked me a few months ago if my job interfered with my hobby too much! And then promoted me so!! Yeah, ‘You’ve got organisational skills mate… come and have a look at this!!’ (Laughing)

Rick: Ha-ha that’s great. I’d just like to say it was a brilliant performance earlier as well with Resin! It was very weird seeing you as a six piece with a violin player!

Simon: Yeah, it’s changed a bit hasn’t it?

Rick: Yeah it has and I love it!

Beth: That’s what I was going to ask you…who is your violinist? I really liked her, she was cool!

Simon: I’ve no idea!

Beth: Just some random bird then?

Simon: Yeah yeah, we just found her! It was an advert on Gumtree or something! (Roars of laughter)

Simon answered this last question in such a matter of fact way that if you didn’t know him you would swear this was actually how they found their violin player Emma. Poor girl, I don’t know how she puts up with them! I’m seeing Resin again, in a little over a week at, SOS Festival so I’m hoping I’ll get to ask her!

What I can tell you about Simon is that he is a real character, very interesting to talk to and extremely funny. Knowing him as a guitarist was good because Resin are a great band, and are due in the studio to begin recording their second album soon, but knowing him as a promoter and event organiser is a real pleasure because he throws his heart and soul into it! You only had to look at the smiles, not just on the faces of the audience, but everybody that had a job to do to see that his way of working gets results. He may well get flustered…but you NEVER see it. What you see is always a calm exterior! There is no doubt that Uprising does indeed have a very important part to play in the Rock and Metal calendar. It really was a fabulous event to be a small part of and if 2017 was anything to go by then 2018 will be even bigger and better.

I just want to take this opportunity to thank him, not only for a wonderful day (I want to get to all three days next year), but also for taking the time to talk to us at Ever Metal! Simon, you are a gentleman!

Rick

Resin Events

https://www.facebook.com/Resinevents/

Uprising Festival

https://www.facebook.com/TheUprisingFestival/

https://www.instagram.com/uprising.leicester/

Resin Band

http://www.resinband.com/

https://www.facebook.com/resinonline/

https://www.instagram.com/resinband/

resin-events

 

Disclaimer: This interview is solely the property of Richard Tilley, Beth Jones and Ever Metal. It is strictly forbidden to copy any part of this review, unless you have the strict permission of both parties. Failure to do adhere to this will be treated as plagiarism and will be reported to the relevant authorities

Uprising Festival – Interview with Hærken

Promo Logo Pic

Uprising 2017

Hærken Interview 27/05/2017

Interview by Beth Jones with Introduction and summing up from Rick Tilley

I first saw Hærken in the SOPHIE tent at Bloodstock 2014 and they blew me away. Their Medieval Death Metal, banter and stage attire really captured my imagination as did the massive inflatable sword and axe battle that ensued in the crowd during their set. It was almost as funny as watching Evil Scarecrow. I was therefore really pleased when they got in touch with me a few days before Uprising to see if we could meet them on the day for an interview and here is what happened! Well…I wasn’t going to say no was I?

Beth had written the questions in a pseudo sort of Old English but we soon found out that Hærken take these things pretty seriously…sort of!!

Hærken: When we first started we did interviews in Elizabethan English…it’s incredibly difficult! All of the stage banter is scripted because there is no way of doing it off the cuff really. There are a couple of standard phrases that you can drop in, but it takes a lot of research!

Beth: Ok then, we will just do it normally. Obviously, you have your stage names… The Laird, The Baron, The Scribe, The Druid, but which one of you is the Jester and which one of you is The Sage?

Hærken: We sacked the jester! (Laughing)

Beth: Don’t ever sack the jester!

Hærken: No, the jester chose a different path to ours… yeah, we reached a fork in the road to the forest and the Jester’s path diverged. One road went ‘hard work’ and the other road went ‘not hard work’, and he chose that one! So…!

Beth: Is there one of you that would naturally fall into The Jester’s role?

Jonathan – Production Manager: All of them! There is no Jester really!

Hærken – The Druid: Me maybe…I’m constantly dicking about!

Jonathan – Production Manager: Yeah, you can’t have a serious conversation with The Druid / The Jester.

Beth: Is there anyone who is the wise one? Like the dad of the group?!

Hærken: The manager, Jonathan!! Yeah…get in your costumes, come on get out of your costumes, get in the van, get out of the van! Constantly bossing us about! You’ve got to be there at 8.30 in the morning…we arrive at 9.30! Although he bosses people around his isn’t in charge!! (Much laughter as they rib him)

Beth: So, for people who haven’t heard about you just explain a bit about the band, and why the Anglo Saxon / Medieval Folklore influence?

Hærken: This is the rise of Viking metal to an extent.

Hærken – The Druid: Well to cut a long story short, I’d just finished in a band, got itchy fingers, met Ben at work, decided to do a band, said let’s be a British Amon Amarth, I know…we’ll sing about King Arthur and Robin Hood, where they sing about Odin and Viking Mythology so it was kind of a direct…

(There was an interjection of ‘repost’ from the background)

Hærken – The Druid: Rip Off??! (And another shout of ‘REPOST’)! Oh repost…I thought you said rip off!! A direct repost yes. (Laughter)

Jonathan – Production Manager: The thing that is cool about Hærken is, because Viking metal is very popular and the song themes are all kind of samey, so you have a song about dying in battle, a song about Odin, a song about drinking, so it’s all kind of fairly standard, whereas this is a very different kind of storytelling!

Hærken: Ours are all, bar one at the moment, actual events…we are an educational death metal band!

Hærken – The Scribe: Yeah, they are retelling of events and popular stories from the middle ages, so they are all from, say, ‘The Mabinogion’.

Hærken – The Druid: They are all actual myths that you can read about, so you can go and google the subtitle and you’ll find loads of different stuff on each one, so it’s genuine British mythology!

Hærken – The Scribe: And that’s why you won’t find any lyrics in our CDs, you’ll find an introduction to the story so you can just go and enjoy history, because it is a rich Mythology we have and a rich cultural heritage that we’ve got in this country, and we’ve spent a long time exploring that!

Beth: So, it’s less of a band and more an education really?

Hærken: It’s kind of a way of life! It’s a lot of reading! In terms of the band though, it’s been more of, the whole stage show and the idea of it has been bards, so those storytellers that you would have in mead halls and that kind of thing, you know what I mean, where you’d all gather round and there’d be a minstrel playing along and telling stories of victory – it’s exactly that…but louder! Powered by the invention of electricity!!

Photo by Beth Jones

Beth: So, your debut album was released in 2014…have we got a new album on the cards and, if so, when’s it coming out?

Hærken: There is one on the cards… er… yeah…we started writing a song in 2007…it’s nearly finished. It’s taken ten years! It’s a long song. That’s all we’re going to say on the subject!

Beth: So…by that reckoning, maybe about 2050 or something??

Hærken: Maybe!! Yeah! (Laughing)

(Rick here. The next couple of questions were about upcoming gigs that have since passed. That’s totally my fault for not managing to get the interview online more quickly, but in my defence I have been incredibly busy. I’m leaving this part of the interview in because it is interesting and I’ve since spoken to Reverend Benjamin, The Scribe who has assured me that the gigs were all awesome! Hærken’s next gig is on the 8th July at The Firebug in Leicester and they will be supported by Rannoch and Kill For Company. The poster is at the bottom of the interview)

Beth: Next month you are coming to ‘Pentre Fest’ in Deeside, which isn’t far from us! Are you looking forward to coming to the land of the Druids?

Hærken: Yes, we certainly are. It’s going to be like a spiritual homecoming really. Before that we are going to London for the ‘Isarnos Metal Alliance’ at The Boston Music Rooms, supporting these guys (pointing at Olli, The harsh vocalist and multi-instrumentalist of Isarnos who was playing bagpipes for Hærken at Uprising), the man on the pipes there…we borrowed him for today!

Olli: Yeah Isarnos are my band…we’re a kind of a folk metal sort of…just Bathory with bagpipes is how I would describe it! (Lots of laughing)

Beth: Haha Baggery! Sounds a bit wrong that!! (Lots of laughing)

Olli: Yeah…so it’s basically us putting on our own show and the idea was, cos obviously we do gigs supporting bands, but if we could do our own gig, rather than getting support bands we thought who do we really like and who would we want to play with, so we’ve got these guys who are opening the show and doing something hopefully almost as spectacular as this evening, and we’ve got some other phenomenal bands as well…Countless Skies from just outside London, King Leviathan from Brighton, Cybernetic Witch Cult, from Cornwall, who are just like space dinosaurs, and Valafar from Yorkshire. So, some great bands. It was really difficult deciding on the running order cos any of the six bands playing could have easily headlined a show in London, but these guys have kindly offered to open proceedings and do some kind of induction / inauguration ceremony!

Hærken: We like inaugurating events! (Laughing)

We like opening because it is less waiting around!! Yeah, we can get straight on the pop! (More laughing)

Beth: So, you have already played here today. Obviously, this is a very iconic location to play. How did you find playing in this place?

Hærken: Oh, it was incredible. Beautiful. It’s an amazing venue!

Beth: It’s a stunning building isn’t it, and so much history behind it?

Hærken: And it’s a great team behind the event, both the promoters and the venue. Everyone has been really lovely and really professional to work with and made the day really easy. Everything all day has been great. They are a really great team and great guys. We have worked really hard building up to this one too, to put a set together that was worthy of it. Everything that was on stage we’ve actually been building – we’ve put all the set pieces together and the theatrics that go with it, and we’ve got Jonathan, our production manager, bringing all that stuff to life for us and we’ve got Mike with us for the first time on sound and without those guys bringing it all together, we really can’t put on a show. They are a priceless addition to any band!

Jonathan – Production Manager: A Haerken set is as much a piece of theatre as it is band performance and there’s a lot of extra work that goes in behind it and the venue team today have been really good about supporting us in that and helping us get an awful lot of stuff on to stage very very quickly and getting it all plugged up and working.

Hærken – The Druid: I’m not sure how much of that was in the initial conception of the band, but it has come to be a critical part of what we do. How it looks and how it all comes across.

Johnathan – Production Manager: Yeah, Hærken’s a show as much as music…its theatre!

Hærken: We’re not just a bunch of people who just turn up and play a bunch of songs in t-shirts, there’s enough of that!

Jonathan – Production Manager: From the audience side of things, seeing these guys on a stage that big, actually having the freedom to move around, it’s a much bigger show than four or five guys, just playing songs!

Hærken: What you can always take away from it though, is the community aspect, even from coming to such an iconic venue. You can’t help but walk around and see tons and tons of people that you know…you are constantly walking round shaking hands with people, you know. If we go to the bar or the toilet we are constantly stopping four or five times on the way talking to mates. It’s a proper family vibe here today…it’s brilliant. There are so many people that we haven’t seen since last festival season. We’ve had some good chats. It is as much a catch up as it is a show. And there’s been a lot of Hærken t-shirts today!

Beth: Yeah…I’ve got your patch, in my bag, which is going on my jacket as soon as we get home. So, what’s been the highlight of your career so far as Hærken?

Hærken: This is certainly one of them. It’s right up there!

Rick: Well I last saw you at Bloodstock in 2014…I came into the Sophie tent to see you!

Hærken: Yeah in the Sophie tent…that was an incredible gig. Three thousand people rammed into a tent and several hundred of them going at each other with inflatable weapons! (Lots of laughter)

Rick: Yeah that was fabulous and so funny!

Beth: We watched the video of that on Youtube last night.

Rick: Yeah, I said to Beth, you’ve got to watch this, it’s brilliant!

Hærken: Yeah that idea existed before there was a note of music written. We remember discussing it. In fact it came from when we were talking about wouldn’t it be cool to do a proper old style battle of the bands thing where one band played one song then we played a song and then they played a song, but wouldn’t it be cool if the audience could join in too!

Hærken – The Scribe: I thought we were keeping that idea under wraps! (Laughing)

Hærken: That’s where the inflatables swords came from! Yeah it could be against Amon Amarth and they could have axes and we could have swords! Yeah, yeah! And then… we started to write music! (lots of laughing)

Beth: So I’ve got a couple of funnyish questions to finish up with!

A quick show of hands on this one, or I’ll just go around the group…Ale or Mead?

Hærken: (In turn) Mead! Mead! Mead! Mead! Mead! Both!! Ale first then mead as the dessert!

Beth: You could make some kind of Jaeger bomb with ale and mead!

Hærken: We tried once…and it went downhill from there!! (Lots of laughing)

Beth: Ok and the last one, which we’ve pretty much asked everyone today!

If you were a Monty Python film, what would the title be?

Hærken: Well we are almost the Holy Grail aren’t we! (Plenty of Laughter)

Rick: Yeah that’s why we had to ask you…it doesn’t have to been one that already exists!

Hærken: Errrr…The deleted scenes from Camelot, cos they didn’t go there, cos they thought it was a bit silly!

(Lots of laughing and approval!)

Beth: Fantastic! Is there anything else you guys want to add before we finish?

Hærken: Well it’s all on the Website and Facebook. Can we also just say a massive thanks to Simon Yarwood for putting on a phenomenal day…you’ve got three stages with amazing bands on all three! So much work has gone into it and it has run like clockwork!

After this Hærken, and friends, decided that drinks were in order and there was a mass exodus and assault on the bar, which reminded me of several scenes from the movie ‘Robin Hood: Men In Tights’! Now that I’ve seen them live twice and have had a chance to meet, talk and listen to them it has given me a great insight into what they are all about. They obviously have a lot of fun but it’s done in an educational way, in fact its Metal’s equivalent of ‘Horrible Histories’! If you’ve not checked out their album “…Of Warriors & Kings” or seen them live then you are definitely missing out. Friendly, great personalities, costumes, fabulous music with a story behind it…and mead!! What more could you ask for? I’d like to thank them for taking the time to talk to Ever Metal!

Check out Hærken at the following links!

http://www.haerken.com/

https://www.facebook.com/haerken

https://www.youtube.com/user/haerkenofficial

Rick

Firebug Gig Poster

 

Disclaimer: This interview is solely the property of Richard Tilley and Ever Metal. It is strictly forbidden to copy any part of this review, unless you have the strict permission of both parties. Failure to do adhere to this will be treated as plagiarism and will be reported to the relevant authorities