Interview with Democratus

Interview with Democratus
By Sheri Bicheno

Hi Everyone, Sheri here

Democratus, hailing from South Wales, have smashed their way through the music scene since 2014, playing Bloodstock, supporting Light The Torch, and sharing the stage with some amazing bands such as Agrona, Kilonova and Suffocation. I have been following them for the last two years or so and recently got the chance to catch up with these hilarious and lovely chaps!

Read on for more including strategizing as a band around the Pandemic, serial killers, their thoughts on supporting the music scene, turning a chaotic show into a memorable one…and a hint of a new album!!!

Sheri: For our readers, You formed around late 2014 after Steve’s band Counterhold ended?

Steve Jenkins (Vocals): Yep, Counterhold!

Sheri: After our chat last year, I know Rich had not long joined the band…can you give us a bit of a history lesson on Democratus and your roots…

Steve: Shall I take this one?

*Zak joins the conversation*

Rich Rees (Guitar): Omg! Zak has appeared!

Steve: A wild Zak has appeared!

Rich: Yeah, it’s like the last peanut at the bottom of the bag haha!

Joey Watkins (Guitar): He looks purple! What is going on with him? Haha.

Steve: It’s looking ominous, mate.

Joey: Willy Wonka told you not to eat the gum in the factory mate, or else this would happen.

Zak Skane (Drums): Hahaha I’m not in the mental space for this interview, I don’t think I am!

*all laugh*

Steve: Right, I’ll take this one then. History of the band; we started the nucleus of Democratus around late 2014 just after Bloodstock, the plans were set up with a vastly different line up to what it is now. We started gigging around 2015 and that was my push to kinda get too the magic 5 song mark and then we just chucked ourselves out there to kind of own our craft on the live circuit. Members came, members went until we got Joe and Kerrin in on guitar around the same time. I basically ended up losing both guitarists on the same day. Around the 2016 mark, then got Joey and Kerrin in cuz myself and Spoon, we were virtually on the verge of saying “alright shall we go our separate ways?” And we thought no, we will crack on. Between myself and Spoon, we had written the majority of the music we had at the time so we thought we would get another line up sorted and crack on. Then in 2017 Zak Came In.

Zak: *waves* Hi!

Steve: And things started to come together in terms of our live performance. We ended up getting through to the finals of the Metal 2 The Masses in South Wales and whilst we lost out on that, rather than mope about it, we thought “right…” the stuff we were playing at that point was written under old line-ups. So we decided that we would hit the restart button and start working on new music, create a sound that was five of us at the time and basically kind of work on our stage show, cover both bases because we were on the verge of getting our first EP out, “Starting Again”.So, we did that and then started immediately working on new stuff. “Starting Again”was the line in the sand. This was the old stuff and then we moved forward from it. 2018 then happened and we were fortunate enough to win the South Wales Metal 2 The Masses that time round and it all kicked off from there…

Sheri: So, you basically started from scratch?

Steve: Yeah basically. Kerrin then decided, and we kinda saw it coming, that the band stuff kind of wasn’t for him. It was getting a bit too busy with the life he had and what he was doing at home and stuff, so he decided to step back. We’d already had a couple of occasions then were Richard filled in for us on a couple of gigs prior, so there was only one option once Kerrin said he was gonna step down. We ONLY approached Rich and THANK GOD he said yes haha.

Rich: I got in by default! Haha.

*all laugh*

Sheri: You weren’t dragged in kicking and screaming then? Haha!

A lot of your songs are very humanity based and politically driven. They highlight a lot of the problems that humanity is facing – homelessness, poverty, recession, the greed of the government, sin and faith. You have a message to put out there as opposed to making music that just sounds great. I can pick this up in the songs like‘Damnation’, ‘Creator of Poverty’ and ‘Is This Fear’? Tell us more about this and what it means to you.

Steve: I suppose I’ll have to take this one again won’t I? Haha!

Yeah, I miss being oblivious to the political situation as we have it. As a carer to my wife, I’ve had my hand forced into keeping an eye on current situations and it’s not in a good place. So, for me lyrically, it just makes sense that Democratus has become my catharsis, my chance to vent at what’s wrong in the world in a more constructive way than trying to get banned on Facebook. Hahaha!

Sheri: You? Never! Hahaha.

Steve: Hahaha. But yeah, I’ve never been one of those that can write much in the way of fantasy lyrics. I can kind of write personal stuff you know; with any issues I have going on in my own head. But it’s all quite realistic, quite relatable stuff rather than things about Dungeons and Dragons and fantasy stuff… which, you know, has its place! I love that kind of stuff but for me, I’m not that kind of lyricist so thankfully the boys then come up with music that is as suitably angry as I am, and it fits. The boys kind of know my stances on things like that and are happy for me to rant about it, which I’m grateful for.

Joey: Sometimes we don’t always agree though Steve.

Steve: We don’t always.

Rich: That’s the thing, from a political point, we’re actually quite a diverse group. But when it comes to writing the music and stuff like that, I think the new stuff that we are working on now, is gonna be completely different, not in terms of the message or anything like that because we’ve got so many more lyrics and different music and then there’s my influence on it where I’ve not really written anything for Democratus before, so I’m hoping the new record is gonna be amazing to be fair.

Steve: Yeah, see it kind of ties in with the name itself anyways. How Democratus came to be in terms of its name was, we were chatting in the early incarnation, we were chatting about what we should call ourselves and I turned around and said “We’re a Democracy, not a Dictatorship” we all have to decide on something that we think sounds good. Our guitarist at the time then came up with Democratus and we all went “ooooh!” so you know, it’s all been a joint collaborative effort. I kind of handle the management side of things, but musically, we all chip in, we’ve all chucked in riffs here and there and you know, even if it’s just me humming something, but we all collaborate.

Joey: I think all of us having such a diverse range of opinions and actually, you know, seeing the world from different angles is really helpful towards the lyric writing as well, so it doesn’t kind of alienate an entire group of people. We need to kind of keep it focused as well going down that route. I think our aim is to say “Look, there’s problems with everything and it needs sorting.”

Steve: That’s it. I try not to be as linear as someone like Rage Against the Machine for example, I do try and leave a fair chunk of the lyrics open to interpretation so if people can take a personal feeling out of the lyrics I’ve written then great!

Sheri: Absolutely, yeah. So, in terms of your songwriting, as you say, everyone chips in, it’s not so that you have say a guitarist that only writes the riffs, how do you put it together?

Rich: Zak just turns up at my house and goes “I’ve written a song now learn it.” Hahaha!

*all laugh*

Rich: And then I tell him why the song is bad and then we fix it haha.

Zak: Song. Bad. Fix. Haha.

Joey: I tell everyone that I’m currently working on something and that it will blow them away but it’s yet to appear haha!

Rich: Due to release in 2025 haha.

Joey: Yeah haha! I’ve come up with a couple of riffs and sent them off to Zak and he’s kind of built a song around that so like ‘The Unworthy’was something that me and Zak worked on and again the lyrics of that kind of came like…we were all at practice, we were all really pissed off cuz someone had trolled the band page saying that we didn’t deserve any of the bigger shows we’ve had or you know, how we didn’t deserve Bloodstock or anything like that and they said “Yeah, you’re not worthy” and we’re like

“Yeah, you’re right, we’re not. But we still did it.”

Sheri: Wow…just wow!

Joey: So yeah, like some of the lyrics kinda come from there. And the ironic thing is that their band is now broken up…

Sheri: WELL WELL!!

Joey: So yeah, it’s kinda like… haha.

Sheri: That goes to show then eh! Steve, your vocals are remarkably diverse, and you can do all sorts of ranges. From heavy to something a bit more melodic and cleaner…Listening to tracks like ‘Dead Without Dying’ and ‘BTK’, then to a slight contrast in ‘Starting Again’ and ‘The Furious Horde’. How do you find vocally what fits with the direction of the songwriting and harmonies of Democratus?

Steve: Ahh there’s no set way of thinking with it. Whilst I kind of chuck us in the Melodic Death Metal group, that’s more for like chucking ourselves to promotors who like to label things and stuff. It’s basically a case of, if we all think it’s good, it’s in. So vocally, it continues to be a work in progress. If you’d have asked me to do these kinds of vocals 10 years ago, I wouldn’t have been able to do them. It’s been a gradual process from being a very rough, motley clean singer to working in the occasional screams and growls that I used to do with Counterhold through to then thinking “OK, maybe I can try and see if I can do the more aggressive stuff”. Cuz all my favourite bands are Melodic Death Metal anyway and as soon as Counterhold called it quits, that was the route that I kind of wanted to aim for. So vocally, it was kind of, “Alright, I’ll test it out. If doesn’t work, I’ll go back to mostly staying on clean vocals.” But thankfully, I’m told it seems to be working!

I do what I do, and I love what I do, but obviously, I’m my own worst critic as well so if I don’t think something works, I will take it back. The boys can come to me and say, “This doesn’t quite fit, we think you can do something a bit better with it.” I try not to be a Diva so you know, they can come to me and I’m not gonna throw a hissy fit over it, I’ll take it on board. Might not always listen to them, but… haha.

Joey: It’s like when Mike, the guy who produced and helped do the mixing and mastering and recording of the “Damnation”E.P helped. We had 3, maybe even 4 versions ofBTK’ and the recorded version is different to the live version. Mike was basically like “Look, the song just needs cutting here and there because it’s too long for a record. Whereas where you’re playing it live, that’s fine as people can’t see you over a CD” so we then went through various cuts of it where vocal phrasing was and everything like that and it took us a couple of weeks really to suss that out. So, I think that’s also been really important for us when we’re looking at recording, so you’ll notice a big difference in production value between “Starting Again”and “Damnation”, hopefully between whatever the album is gonna be as well. I think we’re really gonna be taking our time with it and doing something really good and so what you might see in the live version probably may not be on the recorded version, but the reason for that is to try and get a bigger sound and to try and encapsulate that energy and that feel of being in the room with it not just being onto a CD.

Sheri: Understood. Amazing. Now, you’re mentioning a writing of a new album!!! (Getting excited)

Steve: Yes!

Sheri: I’m picking this vibe up guys!

Steve: Hahaha! Certainly, dropping hints.

Rich: I’m sorry…was there a plug? Hahaha.

*All laugh*

Sheri: What are your plans for that? Are you looking to release that in the New Year…What can you tell us?

Rich: Personally, I’m enjoying not working to a schedule at the moment, obviously have to try and get everything together eventually, but right now it’s nice just to go “Hey, I’ve got some riffs, let’s work on these,” So we’ll go to practice and we’ll work out a few things or we’ll send each other recordings of what we’ve done. I mean, even Steve has been writing some riffs that we want to potentially work on, but as a newcomer, we’ll figure it out haha.

Joey: There’s some bones of a good song there.

Steve: I’m about 3 weeks away from being a better guitarist than Joey hahaha.

Joey: Yeaaaah…haha

Sheri: Oh noooooooo! Hahaha.

Joey: That’s true hahaha

Rich: Joey tries, don’t say that hahaha!

Joey: The thing is we’re not really working to any schedule, we’re currently in the process of writing as many song as we can really and what we’re gonna do is once we’ve written a load of songs, we’re gonna record rough demos of them and then we’re gonna take a hat trick to them and curtail anything we think won’t work, maybe come back to them later but we’re gonna have an album’s worth of really good songs, not three or four good ones and seven songs of filler kind of thing.

Steve: That’s it Sheri, we take pride in the tracks we already play live anyway. We may drop one or two of them in the run up to getting the album sorted but yeah…5 of them are already in the set list as it is.

Sheri: Oooooh, all the excitement!

Joey: Unfortunately, all that sort of stuff has kinda halted cuz, currently, me and Zak are the only ones not in a Lockdown area in Wales.

Zak: Yeah pretty much!

Steve: You’re aware there’s a Lockdown by literally half a mile, aren’t you, Joe?

Joey: Yeah, I’ve gotta drive like 30 miles to go to the Supermarket now.

Sheri: Loooord!

Joey: Yeah basically I live on the Monmouthshire side so I’m in the same county as Zak so I’ll plan on meeting up with Zak one evening or couple of evening’s in the week now and we’ll just try and get stuff recorded so we’re not at a complete loss. But we can’t practise and learn the songs together at the moment unfortunately, which sucks. There we are.

Sheri: That’s a bit sucky but gotta make the best of what we have.

Joey: Exactly.

Sheri: The composing is absolutely marvellous, with the strings and drums, you have a lot of twists and unexpected turns in your style of melodic death metal and your methods. I detect some other elements, even some Thrash! An example of this I think, is in the track ‘Deity’on your EP “Starting Again”. Last year, I remember Joey telling me he started out as a not very good guitarist amongst his injuries haha – surely you gotta feel differently as time has passed?

Joey: Yeah haha. I don’t think I’m on that first EP. We were that pushed for time and trying to record. I’m on the new EP and I’ll be on the album but that first EP, I saw the red light and my playing just went totally out of time, I couldn’t play a triplet.

Rich: Seems to be a curse for Democratus guitarists because I’m not on the new EP much either haha! But I’ll be on the album…

Joey: Haha yeah so Kerrin had to record my parts of that because we tried one four or five hour session and I just couldn’t get anything down and it got to the point where I was just like “Look, Kerrin, I don’t mind not being on it, we need to get this done.” Because…Like, it had been written in a time where I had been in the band but those songs had been written prior to my joining, I don’t really have any connection to them, I enjoy them as songs but they’re nothing I had anything to do with the writing process of, so I was like “You know what, Kerrin, you take it.”

Zak: The thing is with the EP; we were just replicating what the previous line up did. Just putting our own twists on it to make it original.

Joey: Yeah, so there were solos and everything that we had re-written and a couple of things that we added but the for the most part it’s old Democratus and that’s one of the reasons it’s even called “Starting Again”cuz you know…that’s was just like the end of that.

Steve: For me, “Starting Again”was tied in simply with my re-start after Counterhold. It’s as simple as that. It’s not a subtle nod, but yeah… like I said, “Starting Again”by the time we got round to recording it with the boys that we had in the band, it was simply a case of “Right, let’s just get this out there so we’ve got something to plug.”

Joey: Yeah, in all honesty, it was a very difficult recording process, it took a lot longer than we thought it would in terms of before Zak joined, our drummer – nothing against him, again just a similar problem to me in terms of recording, he just really struggled to be tight and to be able to play on the record so that really slowed things down. But then we got Zak in and things kind of all came together. I mean, Spoon, he’s not on the interview on the moment, but he’s probably the tightest player out of all of us when it comes to recording, you know.

Sheri: In light of that, you’ve had some pretty huge highlights with Democratus – playing Bloodstock, supporting…YOU SUPPORTED LIGHT THE TORCH!

Zak: I KNOW haha

Joey: Yeah!!

Rich: …did I!?


*all laughs*

Zak: You saw the poster, Rich? haha.

Joey: Yeah Rich, just photoshop yourself in there really badly hahaha

Rich: Yeah, the only picture I’ve got of Democratus at all, doesn’t have me in it haha but it’s the tour poster that I’m on haha!

Joey: Yeah, that really was like a highlight for all of us because me, Zak and Steve…Howard Jones has been a huge influence on us and then to share the line-up was just a Holy Shit moment basically.

Steve: The weirdest thing about that was just how straight forward it was from making my initial pester to the promoter – I had a heads up after going to see them open for In Flames like a couple of days before it was announced, so I basically messaged the promoter and then noticed the promoter had their phone number on their page… so I thought “bugger it!” and called them up and I just went “look… if I’m pestering too much, please let me know but I’m chasing up the message that I’ve sent regarding the Light The Torch show, if there’s any chance of a local slot, please can you let us know.” Because my worship of Howard Jones is rather well known.

Zak: I’m pretty sure Howard knows that as well haha.

Steve: Damn right he does haha!

Zak: When we were at Bloodstock, they had the meet and greet because he did the Jasta show and Jamie was the first person there and then there was Kirk and then it went to Howard to shake hands and Howard just went “I know you!”

Steve: … “I’ve seen you before!” hahaha.

Zak: Nervously sweating as well hahaha

Joey: So, it was great that we got on that show and didn’t get a restraining order hahaha.

Steve: The promoter told me “I’ll see what I can do, I’ll get back to you.” So, a week and a half later, I chased up with one more message basically saying “Can you let me know what’s going on because I need to know if I’m selling my ticket or not.” Then the following morning I woke up to the email saying, “You’re in, send us your logo.” How I didn’t wake up my Amy FIST PUMPING THE F*KING AIR, I will never know!

Sheri: Hahaha that’s brilliant!!

Joey: And just a couple of words on that promotor – a couple of months later they put Insomnium on and we asked them for the slot and unfortunately we didn’t get it but they were really good enough to put us on the Guest List for that. So massive Kudos to them, that was really good of them.

Steve: Yeah, they were a great bunch.

Sheri: Wicked! That’s so cool. You see, I love stuff like that. So, like I say, you’ve had some huge highlights and obviously you have your two EP’s out at the moment and you’re working on an album… How do you feel you have evolved over time?

Rich: I mean I’ll put it this way, I’ve played guitar since I was 15, so that’s 15 years now and I feel I’ve progressed more in my time with Democratus than I have in the other 12 odd years haha. I remember the first time you asked me to do lead guitar and I was like “excuse me!?”. There was that practice where there was the first solo going up and I remember just doing the bend and then Joey just turning around and laughing at Steve, so I either did something very wrong or very right just now haha. So, I just nervously carried on haha.

Sheri: You obviously did do right haha!

Rich: Yeah, apparently! Haha.

Joey: I think that our song writing is always evolving, as you said earlier, our lyrics are very politically charged, and the landscape is always changing with that. You know, a hell of a lot has changed in the last 4 years since I joined the band and the lyric writing has reflected that. In terms of guitar work, new members make things…everyone has their own spin on things. Zak is just churning out riffs like a madman, which is great!

Sheri: Like a boss!

Zak: Yeah, I haven’t got a life so…haha

Joey: Yeah…Oh no! I didn’t mean…yeah, you haven’t got a life hahaha. Also, I think our understanding of recording has come on leaps and bounds since the first EP. So, you know, we’re paying more attention to things like dynamics, things like guitar tone and everything like that just to try and make the songs sound bigger and better. We’re always looking to try and improve. Yeah, just make things interesting.

Steve: Which is why we work. This is why we work. We’re always looking to improve, we’re never just settling for, you know, the words “That will do”. They are banned in the studio when we are recording. You’re always looking to improve in whatever way, be it a better vocal line, a better guitar solo, a better riff being played, better drum fill. You know, we don’t box ourselves into how we should sound because we’re always looking to progress. If we decided that this is how we are gonna start sounding for the next 4 or 5 albums, we would all get bored to buggery anyway!

Joey: There’s only been a couple of times where I’ve had to ask Steve about lyrics and whether he thinks that’s a good line. I was terrified because you’ve got the song ‘Preach To The Hate;and its original title was Hints of Hate and I said “It’s a bit too in your face to be called Hints of Hate” and it was a nervous moment for me because Steve was like “You’ve never questioned my lyrics before.” And I was like “Oh no! What have I done?” haha.

Steve: Hahaha! And you will never do so again!! Haha

Joey: The whole album has been more like a group contribution whereas the previous 2 have always been like “here’s a riff” and one person has written the whole song, whereas now it’s like everything is just stemming to contribute to it. Even recently, the lyrics have been quite group contributed as well, haven’t they Steve?

Steve: Yeah, even if it’s just you guys giving me a subject to go off, yeah – I mean, I’ve always been open to lyrical contribution. One of the latest thing’s that we’ve written has had Zak’s full input on the lyrics! I looked ‘em over the other day and they look fantastic. I am more than happy to put my vocals over what he’s given me. So yeah, it’s a case of – there’s no ego’s in the band. Our overall outlook on it is just to see where it goes.

Joey: Yeah, pretty much.

Steve: We’re not expecting anything, we’re not demanding anything – we’re just kind of putting ourselves out there, asking if the possibilities are there and if they are, brilliant! If not, we crack on doing what we’re doing anyway.

Sheri: Educate me! My favourite song of yours is ‘BTK’, but… what does that stand for?

Zak: Steve, that’s all you mate!

Steve: That’s me, OK! This one stands for ‘Bind, Torture, Kill’.

Joey: I thought that was a sandwich! Hahaha

Rich: Bacon, Tomato, Kale hahaha.

Steve: Hahaha! It’s basically a set of lyrics I was sat on around the Counterhold days that just weren’t doing anything, but it’s based around the Bind, Torture, Kill killer. So, I was reading an article in one of those daytime magazines about him. What was in there was some of the letters that he would write to the Police before he was caught. It was all very simplistic stuff, so the lyrical approach is very simplistic for that reason. It’s based around the letters that he would send, the way that he would speak about how he tortured his victims, how much pleasure he found in building up to the kill and stuff like that. So yeah, it’s all based around Dennis Rader.

Rich: I’ll tell you something interesting if you want to know, especially about the video. I got to do the lyric video essentially, I was the only one with video editing experience but unfortunately, I was on horribly outdated software and the fact that it came to light in the first place was interesting. But what I realised half-way through and it’s still there to this day – is there is now a folder on my computer called Murder Photos full of pictures of Dennis Rader and actual pictures of his crimes! Hahaha so…

Steve: There’ll be new pictures incoming with one of my censored lyrics, mate, you know that!

Rich: Yeah but eventually, GCHQ are gonna find out, mate! Hahaha.

Sheri: So, there’s a lot of extensive research that goes into that sort of thing as well. In light of the album you’re working on, what are your plans for 2021, all being well?

Rich: To gig again one day!

Joey: Yeah, hopefully!

Steve: Oh God, I miss it. It’s been 84 years…

*all laugh*

Steve: Basically, under current circumstances, all we can do is song write. So, all we can do is send over song ideas to each other and so that when the lockdown is lifted, we can get the pre-production on the go and get the Demo’s on the go. After that, once everything is up, we’re gonna try and get gigging as quickly as we possibly can. We’ve got a few dates, no more for this year…that’s bust.

Zak: We’ve got a few in the pipeline though haven’t we, that we secured.

Steve: Yeah, we’ve got a mini tour that we’ve scheduled for March that we’re hoping to keep hold of. I think that is probably the realistic target now, is March dates that we’ve got booked in. We’ve not gone public with it yet so we can’t say who we will be touring with but there’s some very good, very established bands.

Sheri: Amazing! We will keep our ear out for that as well then!

Joey: We just wanna get back to Oxford again. I love that place!

Steve: Ahh yeah Oxford!

Rich: Oxford was the best gig I’ve played by far apart from maybe Newcastle and that was more just a miracle that happened in the night sort of thing haha.

Joey: Everything that could have gone wrong… went wrong haha. Spoon broke Bass string, Rich kept knocking guitar cables out hahaha

Steve: I must have gone through a pack of Vocalzone in the run up to that day…

Joey: The batteries died on my wireless kit halfway through a song whilst I was playing haha

Rich: 4am in Newcastle in the snow…

Joey: Yep we went from Oxford to Workington, played a gig and then from that gig, drove to Newcastle…it was long.

Rich: All in one day…

Zak: It was snowing as well!

Rich: That was Zak’s favourite bit haha

Sheri: That sounds absolutely brutal! Sounds like you had a bit of a nightmare gig there, no?

Joey: It should have been, but it really wasn’t, it was amazing! The atmosphere was there, it didn’t really matter, the crowd were amazing, Zak did a drum solo which I’ve never seen him do before, it was beautiful!

Rich: Yeah, it was actually really good!

Zak: You put me on the spot for that, ya f**kers! Hahahaha.

Joey: It wasn’t us! It was Kilonova hahaha

Rich: Yeah, Kilonova put you on the spot for that hahaha

Joey: I highly recommend checking out Kilonova, their live shows, they bring a ridiculous amount of energy, like…first time we were on that tour, we just went “Ah sh*t, we gotta follow that…Um…” hahaha

Steve: Yeah Ellen and the boys are sweethearts, they’re brilliant.

Joey: Yeah, they’re good people.

Sheri: I know of Kilonova, they’re fantastic! Please tell our readers in your own words why it is so important to support the scene at the moment…

Steve: Given the current circumstances, we’ve all been saying for years that you have to use it or lose it. Right now, that is amplified a thousand times over. Given the current situations within venues and performing arts, are getting zero in the way of support. I’m not gonna go down a political rant on that, I’m just saying as it is, we have no support. So, we basically cannot do any of this if people aren’t gonna come out and support the scene. It doesn’t have to be for us. It has to be for the venues, it has to be for the workers.

Joey: Yeah, for the people who actually have it as a career you know, like, being a performer – because there’s just no funding for them. Even the big companies are struggling at the moment in terms of what is happening with events. There’s a lot of investment gone into trying to put these events on and it’s all up in the air as to everything that’s gonna be happening across Europe. So, it’s not just the grassroots that are suffering, it’s everyone in the industry right from the bottom to the very top. So, imagine lockdown if you couldn’t listen to music because at the end of the day if bands don’t have a platform, artists don’t have a platform, if they can play in venues and won’t have a way to get people through the door and it’s gonna be gone and it won’t come back… and it will be a real shame to see that go. For a lot of people, it’s the only outlet they really have. There’s a lot of talented musicians who absolutely love doing what they’re doing, it helps them to deal with the sh*t they’ve had at work or you know, it helps people unwind and get their feelings out…and if that isn’t there, it’s gonna really mess up a lot of people.

Steve: I mentioned it on my Facebook the other day that it’s not even just the financial implications that places and people are gonna struggle with, it’s the mental health side of it as well. You know, not having that security is gonna play Holy Hell with people’s mental well-being. So, it’s a case of, we have to look after each other. You don’t have to like the genres of music; you just have to support it because it all needs help.

Sheri: Absolutely you’re right, at the moment I feel like that even though things are the way they are, people do, especially in the underground scene, have to help each other out mentally.

Joey: It will all come back, I just think there’s gonna be a lot people who won’t come back from it in terms of their businesses, which is gonna be a real shame. Like you see on Facebook almost every week that the iconic venues are closing because the landlords are like “Well, we need the money” and a part of me is really really pissed off with the owners of these venues but at the same time, that’s their revenue stream as well, they still need their money and yeah…

Sheri: It’s a vicious circle.

Joey: Yeah, and it’s gonna be tough times for a lot of people and I think that when times are really shit, people are gonna need good music to listen to.

Sheri: Absolutely… and that’s why you’re getting an album out haha!

Rich: Full circle back to the flood, YAY! Hahaha.

Joey: And if it doesn’t work, we will just sell it to America to Guantanamo Bay as a form of torture, there’s lots of avenues open to us! Hahaha.

*all laugh*

Steve: I mean one thing I would add about the scene supporting and stuff like that is in South Wales in particular, I’ve noticed, seems to have a core nucleus of bands. From the likes of Agrona, Sodomized Cadaver, In Which It Burns, Blind Divide etc. The list continues, there’s a core nucleus of a good 20 to 30 bands that genuinely look out for each other, you know, we’re all offering each other shows. Bands like Agrona and Sepulchre are putting on their own band nights alongside Gavin from Sodomized running his promotions company that’s going from strength to strength. We’re all looking out for each other, we’re all plugging each other, we’re all kind of chucking in our support where we can get it. Agrona for example have just been confirmed for the SOPHIE slot at Bloodstock next year. There’s no jealousy, there’s no pissing and moaning about it, we couldn’t be any prouder of them. It’s the same when Sodomized played the SOPHIE stage when we were doing Bloodstock, you know, there’s no animosity, there’s no one upmanship, the scene is just genuinely supportive.

Joey: The bands that do have a bad attitude, we’re just like “well, we’re not playing with you and no one’s gonna want to play with you.” Or they fall by the wayside pretty quickly because that attitude doesn’t get you far at all.

Sheri: That’s what it’s about at the end of the day. I’ve always been a believer in…If you’re gonna do this then do it together.

Steve: Otherwise you can crack on and form a tribute band hahaha

Joey: And that’s where the real money is hahaha.

Sheri: Finally, tell us a joke! And don’t say our music hahaha.

Rich: I’m not allowed to tell the jokes anymore. Hahaha.

Sheri: Has Rich been banned?

Rich: I’ve been banned from a few comedy venues when I did stand up so…hahaha

Sheri: That sounds like that’s got a story behind it haha

Rich: I’m not about to give you a rendition here haha.

Sheri: Fair enough. Hahaha. Anyone?

Joey: What’s brown and sticky…? A stick.

Rich: Here’s a fun fact about flavoured water…it’s actually healthier than crack hahaha

Joey: Yeah but crack is pretty moorish…

*all laugh*

Sheri: Thank you so much for your time guys! It’s been really insightful. I really appreciate it.

Joey: Happy birthday for the other day! Best people are born in September, fact. Just putting that out there…

Sheri: Thank you! I sat by the beach and got drunk hahaha.

Democratus: Best way to spend it. Hahaha. Thanks for having us!

Rick Here. I’d like to send huge thanks to Sheri and Democratus for this great interview.

For more info on the band then check out the links below:

Disclaimer: This interview is solely the property of Sheri Bicheno and Ever Metal. It is strictly forbidden to copy any part of this interview, unless you have the strict permission of said party. Failure to adhere to this will be treated as plagiarism and will be reported to the relevant authorities.

EMQ’s With DEMOCRATUS

EMQ’s With DEMOCRATUS

Hi everyone! Welcome to our new EMQ’s interview with Cardiff, South Wales based Melodic Death Metal band, Democratus. Huge thanks to Vocalist, Steve Jenkins for taking part.

What is your name, what do you play, and can you tell us a little bit about the history of the band?

I’m Steve! I’m the vocalist for melodic death metal band, Democratus. We were formed in the back end of 2014 after my old band, Counterhold, ended. We started gigging in February 2015 and have self-released 2 EP’s, called “Starting Again” and “Damnation”. We have earned notable supports alongside bands like Light The Torch, Suffocation, Vader, Skiltron, Lagerstein and Psychostick. We won the South Wales Metal 2 The Masses in 2018 to play Bloodstock!

How did you come up with your band name?

We were discussing what our band name should be. I pointed out we all needed to agree, we’re a democracy not dictatorship. Our guitarist at the time said, “What about Democratus?” and we all went “oooh”! We then found out Democratis was a Greek philosopher who paved the way to our modern ways of government.

What Country/Region are you from and what is the Metal/Rock scene like there?

We’re based in Cardiff, South Wales, but are dotted around the valleys! Like most areas, we’ve been hit hard with venues closing compared to how it was, say 10 years ago, but there is a strong core of bands who genuinely have each other’s backs. Gig swaps, promoting and plugging each other’s work across the genres has created a tight knit group of friends who respect and push each other on.

What is your latest release? (Album, EP, Single, Video)

We released our second EP, “Damnation”, in January 2020, and the lockdown has given us chance to song write for our debut album.

Bind Torture Kill (Official Lyric Video)

Who have been your greatest influences?

As a band, we obviously love the likes of Insomnium, Soilwork, In Flames, and Amon Amarth. But we also bring our individual influences too. For me personally, Killswitch Engage, Devin Townsend, Maiden, Priest, and Lamb Of God all get their nods!

What first got you into music?

My Nanna bought me my first little 1 finger keyboard aged 4. I was always singing everywhere, and people kept telling me I was alright at it! I was quite late to finding rock and metal, I was 19 going on 20 before it started resonating with me, but I like to think I’ve made up for it since!

If you could collaborate with a current band or musician who would it be?

Oooh, locally I’ve already guest vocalled for my black metal siblings, Agrona. I’d love to find a way to return the favour. Dream wise, Killswitch, Devin, Gojira, Fleshgod Apocalypse. Anyone considered masters of their craft!

If you could play any festival in the world, which would you choose and why?

I’d love to return to Bloodstock above everything. That place has been my second home since my first in 2008. Outside of the UK, maybe Wacken, or Loud Park in Japan.

What’s the weirdest gift you have ever received from a fan?

This one’s easy. My buddy Callum, in the run up to our New Blood appearance, had our logo tattooed on him! That blew me away, even more so as he hadn’t seen us live prior to Bloodstock!

If you had one message for your fans, what would it be?

Thank you. We wouldn’t have had the opportunities without your support, and we can’t wait to throw the horns with you soon!

If you could bring one rock star back from the dead, who would it be?

Dio. I never had a chance to see him being skint when he toured with Heaven and Hell, and I was ill when they were meant to play Bloodstock.

What do you enjoy the most about being a musician? And what do you hate?

I try and embrace it all. Even the travelling and between set waiting! Music is my release. It keeps my mental health in check. I hate those people that feel the need to shit on other’s efforts. If you don’t like something, move on.

If you could change one thing about the music industry, what would it be?

That’s a tough question, away from the lockdown, I want an industry that stops exploiting bands. Pay them for appearances, pay fairly for streaming, and give local bands a chance to regularly open for bigger tours in the area.

Name one of your all-time favourite albums?

“The End Of Heartache” – Killswitch Engage. That was my gateway album

What’s best? Vinyl, Cassettes, CD’s or Downloads?

I’ve actually become a digital guy, cos it means I have more music, but zero space needed! I don’t stream though.

What’s the best gig that you have played to date?

Bloodstock, and Light The Torch. To be 9 hours and 200 yards from Judas Priest was emotional, the same thing to open for my vocal idol in Bristol last year was just mind blowing!

If you weren’t a musician, what else would you be doing?

I’m just about to finish up getting my teaching assistant qualification. So, we’ll go with that!

Which five people would you invite to a dinner party?

Howard Jones, Dio, Lemmy, Clement Attlee, and Jeremy Corbyn

What’s next for the band?

Continue working on our album. And hopefully get back on the road as soon as Covid allows!

What Social Media/Website links do you use to get your music out to people?

www.facebook.com/democratusband

Jaffa Cakes? Are they a cake or a biscuit?

Cake! It’s in the name! Layer of chocolate, orange then sponge!

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

Thanks for the opportunity!

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

Rabidfest 2019 – The Bullingdon, Oxford – 18/08/2019 – Day Three

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Rabidfest 2019
The Bullingdon, Oxford
18/08/2019, Day Three
Review by Beth Jones & Rick Tilley

They say that as you get older, time goes quicker. They also say that time flies when you are having fun, so for us oldies having fun, time seems to go very quickly indeed, and in what seemed like the blink of an eye, here we were at the last day of Rabidfest, which again promised a very full, and very heavy line-up back at the Bullingdon. Bring on the metal!!!

King Bolete
The task of opening the final day fell to Oxford based, King Bolete, who offer a fusion of blues riffs, fuzz and groove, and harsh vocals, combining to make a sort of sleazy stoner metal which was very akin to a lazy, and for some, slightly hungover Sunday lunch time. They were the perfect way to start, went down well with the crowd and set the tone for the day ahead.

01 King Boletehttps://www.facebook.com/kingboleteblues/

The Final Clause Of Tacitus
From the moment these guys took to the stage, I could see they had the 90’s written all over them, and this made me pay attention – this was my era!! If you liked Rage Against The Machine and Clawfinger, you will love these guys. Rick already knew about them and really likes them because they had been featured on Ever Metal before. They offered a solid dose of Rap/Funk Metal executed brilliantly. I know this doesn’t happen very often, but I am going to give a special mention to Andy, the bass player (I know right – get the flags out)! He was the epitome of funk and was great to watch – definitely grand master level cool! The guitarist Tom, on the other hand, was a total nutter!! I have never seen someone go quite as bat shit on stage – there was definitely some sort of exorcism brought on by their music I would say! Trying to take his picture was like trying to herd cats! When we spoke to them afterwards, he told us that he had actually passed out on stage not so long back, from all the crazy jumping about! Lunatic! They were, very definitely, one of our highlights of the whole event, and when we got home I ordered both of their EP’s straight away!

02 The Final Clause Of Tacitushttps://www.facebook.com/TFCOT/

Broken Empire
From the old to the new, with a good dose of modern hard rock, Broken Empire! We liked these guys because they are fresh and very current – I could see my teenage daughters going wild to them, especially frontman ‘Ieuan’ with his far-out hairstyle! They have only been together since 2017 but have been gigging regularly and with two EP’s released already they are very well rehearsed and know exactly what sound works for them. Very enjoyable and definitely a band to keep an eye on!

03 Broken Empirehttps://www.facebook.com/brokenempireUK/

Democratus
This was a band that we had been really looking forward to seeing. We had heard a lot about them, and they are Welsh, so that alone makes them better than everyone else by default! They didn’t disappoint! Melodic death metal, with a more than sizable nod to classic metal, they ripped up the room for the entire of their set, with vocal powerhouse Steve Jenkins telling a story with his facial expressions, and engaging the assembled throng with some audience participation! There music was like a checklist of how to make it sound good – soaring power vocals – check, face melting guitar – check, epic rhythms – check, a hangman’s noose – che-wait, what?! Yes readers, you did read that right – towards the end of their set things became slightly more menacing when Steve produced a noose and promptly simulated hanging the other band members then himself, which was fun! (Don’t try that at home kids, not unless you are into that kind of stuff of course!) This was a really great performance and Democratus are now definitely on the list of bands to see again!

04 Democratushttps://www.facebook.com/democratusband/

Bloodshot
I have decided that I am definitely getting old, as here was yet another band that looked like they could be my daughter’s mates! From just up the road in Whitney, Bloodshot brought us some progressive death metal, with tricky stops and cross rhythms, and harsh vocals, on top of intricate guitar work. They were good to bang your head to and two characters in the crowd, who we very originally named ‘Dancing Guy’ and ‘Dancing Girl’, were having an absolute blast to them! I’m going to again mention the bass player, Will, just because he pulled some epic bass faces, a couple of which I managed to capture on camera!

Rick Here, I’m going to add that sometimes I find the harsher, more extreme bands a little difficult to listen along to at home or in the car, but seeing them live is a different thing entirely. To me this is where really heavy music completely comes alive and shines, it’s almost primal and Bloodshot were definitely a band that invaded my brain and intestines in a good way!

05 Bloodshothttps://www.facebook.com/BloodshotUK/

The Five Hundred
Guitars with too many strings alert!! It was time to get technical again with The Five Hundred. Thankfully I have no need to rant about having too many strings just for the sake of it, as the technical prowess of the musicians in this band required the extra strings. They were very very good. Down tuned and powerful riffs, intricate melodies, and on point vocals, mixed with killer drops that made the roof rattle, made their performance exciting and exhilarating. We were at the mid-point of the day, which historically is where I start to flag, however The Five Hundred made sure that this was a break from the norm by really waking me up! Again I am putting these on the ones to see again list!

06 The Five Hundredhttps://www.facebook.com/wearethefivehundred/

Gutlocker
Next up were Groove/Sludge Metal quartet, Gutlocker (or Stomach Padlock as many in the know were calling them!!). Again they were a name that we had heard quite a bit about and were looking forward to seeing. They were groovy, they were sludgy, and front man Craig McBrearty’s vocals were terrifying (in a good way, of course). I don’t know about my guts being locked – the rumbling bass licks were enough to replace all the fibre in my diet in that department – oosh! Again one thing that was not lacking in their performance was energy – a running theme from just about every band over the weekend, and they had the entire room banging their heads good style. Very pleasing indeed!

07 Gutlockerhttps://www.facebook.com/gutlockeruk/

Dog Tired
Coming to us all the way from the wild North, Scotland to be more precise (you know, that place where wild Haggis roam the hills – Rick), were Dog Tired. They were a mix of the brutality of Death Metal with the riffs of good old-fashioned Thrash but also a thundering Groove which, brought together, quite simply makes battle music! It kind of made us want to paint our faces blue, grab a big mother of a sword and stand on a hill shouting FREEEDOMMMMMMMMMM!! They were bloody good. We got a bit of hair envy again though, as guitarist Luke James has a proper mane of Pantene hair which was incredibly flickable! Their whole set was fast paced and full of growl and we loved it! Who’d have thunk that two genres I don’t get on with usually (You’re on your own there Beth, I love Death and Thrash – Rick) could come together to make something pretty frikkin good! Bought the album, listened to it in the car on the way home! Their new album is out in September and it’s a beast, in fact it makes us a want a pet haggis!!

08 Dog Tiredhttps://www.facebook.com/dogtiredmetal/

Bast
This may make me unpopular, so be warned. If you are a fan of doom, these guys are for you. For me, there is only one thing worse than doom, and that’s experimental doom. Bast are experimental doom. Whilst there is no denying that they are talented and competent musicians, and that they work well together as a group, I just don’t get it. I want to feel excited, like the rest of the weekend has built me up to be, but I just couldn’t get into a groove. Admittedly some of the songs were quicker paced than the sort of slow doom that Conan inflicted the night before, but I just couldn’t do the guttural screamed vocals, the melodies that were kind of smudged together, and the weird beats that were impossible to go nuts to. Sorry!

09 Basthttps://www.facebook.com/Bastmusic/

Papa Shango
So, yeah, erm. Papa Shango. It wasn’t what we were expecting! I spent a good few minutes wondering if my Pepsi had been spiked, and if this was a very vivid hallucination! Rick was actually concerned he had overdosed on his medication! Papa Shango are a many many pieced group of complete nutters, who bring together a Day of the Dead-esque shaman, a rock band, and RaRa girls adorned with Day of the Dead make-up, because why not eh? Whilst musically Papa Steve, Papa Dale, Papa Ryan and Papa Barry would be just a normal, half decent rock band on their own, the addition of The Pappettes Shango, and Papa Shango himself, turns them into a very hallucinogenic experience, full of double entendre, crazy naughtiness and hundreds of props! They were such good fun, and most of the musicians, including Papa Shango, spent a lot of time out in the audience! Were they under-rehearsed with some of the change overs? Yes! Did they go completely over the top? Yes! Were they extremely silly? Yes! Did anyone care? Not one bit in the slightest! They were good, light-hearted Sunday afternoon madness and we loved it! If you love the thought of Papa Lazarou from The League of Gentlemen TV Series joining forces with The Rocky Horror Show then Papa Shango will be your bag. They were also a photographer’s dream because of all the vivid colours and beautiful make-up. Awesome!

10 Papa Shangohttps://www.facebook.com/papashangomusic/
https://www.facebook.com/pappettes.shango.5

Desert Storm
After the half hour transportation to the lunatic asylum that had just happened, things got quickly back to normal for our penultimate band of the festival, with the entry of Desert Storm. Another local band, they brought a good mix of sludge and blues into their metal, and they did it very well. The room was full and getting back into the groove. There were definite nods to the old greats such as Sabbath and Zeppelin, but they were very current, and their performance notched up a level for me when there was suddenly a digeridoo type sound which took me aback for a moment – I was wondering who was playing it, then realised that it was actually a technique that vocalist Matt Ryan was using, which was similar to Tibetan throat singing, and was very mysterious and enticing, and gave the whole sound an added depth which was impressive and made them unique. They were a perfect balance of modern and classic, with some really great riffs and melodies, and toe tapping rhythms. I like this sort of stuff because it is clever, but not pretentious. Well done guys! We are Desert Storm converts!

11 Desert Stormhttps://www.facebook.com/desertstormuk/

Ingested
Here we were at the final band, and it appeared it was going to be Groundhog Day. Once again, on paper, they were a good choice as they have a large following but they just didn’t do it for us. It was an anti-climax. They spent more than twice as long as any other band sound-checking, a large proportion of which was getting their Apple MacBook to work, only for it to stop working three songs in, when they stopped playing half way through a song because most of the song was on samples. Call me old fashioned, but if you rely that heavily on samples, and can’t play it live, don’t put it in. Whilst they did manage to carry on without it after, what I’m guessing was a quick set-list change, I, like a fair proportion of the crowd, had seen enough. I know this will again make me unpopular, but honesty is the best policy and I don’t do blowing smoke up people’s arses. If I reflect on them from a purely musical point of view, yes they could play their instruments well, and the front man did have an angry sort of charisma, and they are indeed slamming death metal, but without the samples it was just another death metal band. If you like death metal, you will love them – so definitely check them out. If you don’t, then don’t. That’s all I have to say.

12 Ingestedhttps://www.facebook.com/ingesteduk/

And that was that. We took some last pictures, said our goodbyes, and headed off for our digs, via our new favourite food place, the Chinese restaurant a bit further down the road for take-two of the night before’s supper. It had been a great three days. We met some absolutely fab people and saw some really cracking bands. Our heartfelt thanks go out to the organisers for having us, and the great team that made the whole event run like clockwork. A huge shout out must go to the in-house sound guys at The Bullingdon, who were seasoned pros and were in control at every second – hats off to you chaps, a great job well done! Also to Mark Gibbs for being mad enough to attempt a three day festival, and to Greg Brown and our own Sheri Bicheno for making the chaos organised, and to the rest of the team for doing all the jobs that needed doing, and being genuinely fab people – we look forward to seeing you all again.

13 The Rabidfest Team (After the last paragraph)

 

LINKS
https://www.rabidfest.co.uk/
https://www.facebook.com/rabidfest/

https://www.instagram.com/rabidfest/

 

Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of Beth Jones, 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 adhere to this will be treated as plagiarism and will be reported to the relevant authorities.

Democratus – Rabidfest Day 3 – 18/08/2019

 

 

Disclaimer: This photo album is solely the property of Beth Jones and PhotograBee Images. It is strictly forbidden to copy any part of these images, unless you have the strict permission of said party. Failure to adhere to this will be treated as plagiarism and will be reported to the relevant authorities.

https://www.facebook.com/PhotograBeeImages/