The ‘Unofficial’ Soundwave Magazine
History of Metallica
Metalblade 30th Anniversary Special Sick Of It All Danko Jones Kingdom Of Sorrow The Sword Anthrax Orange Goblin Sylosis Six Feet Under
I MAG I N E BE I NG MAD E TO
F EEL L IKE CRAP J UST FOR
H A N D E D.
Okay, that’s hard to imagine? But being gay, lesbian, bi, trans or intersex is no different to being born left handed, it’s just who you are. So stop and think because the things we say are likely to cause depression and anxiety. And that really is pretty crap.
GO TO LEFTHAND.ORG.AU TO WATCH THE VIDEO
STOP • THINK • RESPECT
Two years ago I finally had the opportunity to see Iron Maiden. It was a goal that had taken over two decades to achieve, despite much effort on my part. It seemed that the musical gods were conspiring against me. But see them I finally did, and I have one man to thank -AJ Maddah, the promoter of Australia’s best alternative/metal festival, Soundwave. AJ would have no idea that he fulfilled one of my dreams, but it is because of this man’s absolute passion to music that both myself -and thousand’s of others - could finally witness the mighty Maiden in the ‘City of Churches’, for the first time since the 1980’s. Of course Soundwave continues to grow year after year, and 2013 brings the worlds biggest metal act –Metallica – back to these shores. Add to the bill both Slayer and Anthrax, and it truly becomes an event. In fact, it also marks the first time that these three bands have played together in Australia, and if Megadeth had played, we would literally have had the line up for the seminal ‘Clash Of The Titans’ bill, that was such a cult highlight of the 80’s. Okay, so Megadeth are not playing, but that does not mar the fact that these three latter bands still make Soundwave 2013 a must.
Besides the bigger, better-established bands – that have been a staple of Soundwave since it started – we must also rejoice in the many smaller acts that have had the opportunity to play at the festival. Many of who may never have had the chance to play in Australia, if not for the vision of Mr Maddah. Lets face it, how many concertgoers would have even heard of Watain, a band that had the privilege of playing on last years bill. And when was the last time Cathedral or Paradise had played in this fair country of ours? Of course, this year it just gets better. Sylosis – who have been growing strong in Europe -will finally get the chance to break to a larger audience in Australia. Then there is Orange Goblin – a truly fantastic live band, but one that is, unfortunately, not as well known in these parts. And lets not forget Ghost. A band that is so obscure, that we still don’t know who fronts this mysterious entity. Many of these bands may never have had the opportunities to play ‘down under’, and it’s for this reason alone, that we have to applaud AJ, a man who has a genuine love for music. We can’t wait to see what surprises the man has in place for next years Soundwave. But in the meantime, we hope that you enjoy this year’s festival, and this ‘once off’ publication, that celebrates some of the must see bands at this years Soundwave. See you down the front then. Editor Mark Grimshaw www.festivaldaze.com Graphic Design India W email@example.com
ed ito rial
con tents Sick Of It All.................................5 Anthrax..........................................6 Orange Goblin.............................7 Sylosis.............................................9 The Sword....................................10 Metallica......................................11 Dragonforce.................................13 Metalblade...................................15 Six Feet Under............................17 Danko Jones................................19 Kingdom Of Sorrow.................21
“There’s a lot of the older bands still around. The Cro-Mags are still going and they’re one of the best live shows you’ll ever see.”
Attempt to define hardcore these days and it’s likely that five different people will give five different opinions. Go back twenty-five years, however, and it was another story. Hardcore was about thick, heavy, fast and aggressive punk rock, untainted by endless bass drops, pseudo-metal riffing and Auto-tuned clean vocal harmonies. It was this musical environment that spawned Sick Of It All, pioneers and vanguard of the second wave of New York hardcore, and proud standard-bearers to this day. In Australia, as recently as last May, with friends and major inspiration Agnostic Front, the band will be back in the country to tour with the Soundwave Festival. “It’s going to be great,” says frontman and founder Lou Koller, enthusiastically. “Madball’s coming this year too, which is just great.” This interview finds Koller hard at work on a new album, due for release this year. Sick Of It All were meant to start recording after their last Australian visit, but they were forced to take a few months off when Koller’s brother Pete, the band’s guitarist, became a father. Life, it seems, got in the way. “Yes it did,” Koller offers. “But it was good things, it wasn’t any tragedies. It was a happy thing.” 2010’s ‘Based on a True Story’ scored solid reviews for Sick Of It All, and came four years after the equally well-received ‘Death to Tyrants’. Koller reckons the new album will continue in a similar direction. “It’s going be an expansion on what we’ve done on the last two studio records, ‘Based on a True Story’ and ‘Death to Tyrants’,” he says. “Usually we look back at the last few records and see what really worked for us, what we really liked and what the fans liked and we try to build on that. And keep it our style.” Straight-up hardcore is what can be expected then, when the newie hits later in 2013. It’s
sure to be an old-school lesson in aggression for some of those who’ve grown up listening to the myriad of bands that fall under the banner of “hardcore” these days. Koller’s own thoughts on the contemporary metal and hardcore scene are somewhat conflicted. “It’s weird,” he says. “Sometimes I’ll hear a newer metal band and I’ll think, ‘Wow this is really good’, and at other times I don’t understand it. Same thing with hardcore bands. Some, when they play total throw-back music, it depends how they do it. Some of them I’m like, ‘I’ve heard this a million times (before)’. Others are a fresh take on an old style and I’ll love it. It just depends on the band, I guess.” When it comes to the New York hardcore scene from which his band sprang - the one Sick Of It All took into its second wave, and then led into a third, from which emerged acts like Marauder and H20 - the frontman declares that it is as healthy as ever. “There’s a lot of the older bands still around. The Cro-Mags are still going and they’re one of the best live shows you’ll ever see. And there’s a lot of new young bands too. There’s a band from Jersey called Born Annoying, and they’re hilarious dude. They’re like skate punk with a heavy NYHC influence. The result’s
really good.” Lou Koller is looking forward to getting back in the ring in Australia, and hitting stages around the nation with Soundwave, and Sick of it All’s sideshows, alongside Madball and Vision of Disorder. He’s also hopeful he’ll be able to take his band to new territory in the future, something his NYHC crew used to the be first to do, but have lately fallen out of step through no fault of their own. “We’ve been offered to play China, which I would love to do. We just don’t have the time,” he laments. “Every NYHC band has gone to Hawaii and Puerto Rico, but not Sick Of It All. We used to be the band that was the first ever... we were the first NYHC band to Australia, to New Zealand, to Japan, to Indonesia, but now, as you said, life gets in the way sometimes, and now all these other bands are beating us to China, Korea...” Even after more than twenty-five years, it looks as though Sick Of It All still has plenty of roads to travel and true stories to tell. ‘Based On A True Story’ is currently out on Century Media Records/EMI. Their new full length should hit stores late 2013. Words: Brian Giffin
For metal fans, this year’s Soundwave Festival aims to be the biggest and best yet. Along with Metallica and Slayer, we are as happy as punch to see the return of New York’s favourite merchants of mayhem - Anthrax. The band may never have quite hit the same majestic heights as their touring partners but they remain one of the most consistent of the ‘big four’ (rounded out by Megadeth), and continue to deliver a devastating live show wherever they play. We decided to catch up with guitarist, Scott Ian, for a bit of a chinwag, before their descent ‘down under’. One would think that Scott Ian would be a mellower kind of chap. He has after all given way to middle age life, having married – Pearl, daughter of Meat Loaf, no less - and had a child. But if truth be told the man is straight to the point. Perhaps that’s not so surprising. Being one of the thrash ‘gods’ must be hard work. Not to mention tiring. Imagine having to answer the same mundane questions for over thirty years? It would be enough to drive any mere mortal at least slightly insane. As such, we are sure that most interviews would have lost their lustre quite some time ago. With that in mind we transgress the threshold, nevertheless. “Well, I think the album - and all that Joey’s done - kind of answers that question. He’s been back in the band for almost three years, so…” It’s a fair response, after asking the guitarist how things have been since the return of Joey Belladonna. Of course it’s also a fair question. After all, it’s not the first time that Belladonna has returned to the band that launched his career, only to leave again a short time later. We won’t even get started on the John Bush saga, and also keep in mind that this interview was done only mere days before guitarist Rob Caggiano decided to part ways. Yes, being a part of Anthrax can make it seem like one is watching the musical equivalent of ‘The Truman Show’. But fear not beloved music fans, because as that old saying goes, the ‘show must go on’, and it seems nothing, including the tribulations of revolving door line-ups, will keep this band down. In one shape or another the good boat Anthrax continues to sail on.
As we’ve said, the band has been around for over thirty years now. So did the guitarist ever think that he would still be playing music all these years later? “Yeah, I actually knew. I’ve known since we started that we would last forty years,” comes the sarcastic response. So, we have ten more years of Anthrax then, we counter? “I wish. No, I had no idea,” Ian confesses, as he starts to loosen up a bit. “Its not something that I ever think of actually. I don’t really think anyone’s thought about wether they are going to do this forever. You just do it.” Mmmm, we’re not sure we believe that last statement. ‘Anyone’ - let alone one of thrash metals best musicians - will surely have had sleepless nights about their future. But we’re not going to argue with the man. Instead, we try another tact: ‘So, you’re just going with the flow then?’
the legendary guitarist really be that jaded and cynical? Well, it has been over thirty years, so perhaps we can’t really blame the man that much. Thank Satan that he just continues to put out great new music, as can be witnessed with their last album proper ‘Worship Music’ is out now via Nuclear Blast/Riot! Words: Mark Grimshaw
“I actually prefer to be extremely not busy”
“I wouldn’t say that either,” he states firmly. “You just… its just what I do. I play in a band and make records, and go on tour, and we have been lucky enough to be able to do it for this long.” Being able to make a living off what you enjoy, in this case music, is indeed something to be enviable of. But Ian doesn’t just play in one of the big four thrash bands. It seems that he is actually a bit of a modern day polymath. He’s featured in reality shows, had his hand at producing, writing and even acting, amongst other things. We get the impression that the man likes to keep busy? “I actually prefer to be extremely not busy,” comes his blunt response. “We live in a world where things cost money, so you have to go to work to pay your bills.” Ouch. Does the man really consider Anthrax just another ‘job’? Okay, so it’s got to be a hard slog playing in a band but playing music sure has to beat a regular nine-to-five job? And can
If there is one band that will be absolutely decimating things live on stage this year at Soundwave its Orange Goblin. The band offers a truly memorable show and even esteemed journalist, Dom Lawson, has stated that the band are (quote): ‘consistently one of the greatest live bands in the UK’. A high accolade indeed, but having been privileged ourselves to their colossal live show something that we can certainly attest to. We decided to catch up with front man, Ben Ward, to find out his thoughts on today’s music scene, their up coming Soundwave appearance and of course their latest album, ‘A Eulogy For The Damned’. Ben Ward is an imposing figure. Standing at 6’5” he is a virtual man-giant. It might seem a paradox then that he fronts the UK’s premier stoner rock band, Orange Goblin. As a band, Orange Goblin having been floating around in one form or another - they were originally conceived as Our Haunted Kingdom – for close to two decades. It was around the time of their birth that this here hack first witnessed them at the iconic ‘Devils Church’ in London, circa 1996. Even back then, at which would have been one of their very first gigs, the band were a maelstrom of musical destruction, far more confident than they should have been, at least for such a relatively new band. Fast forward eighteen years and we can only imagine what the tides of time may have added to their live performance. But perhaps its best for the front man to tell us, in his own word’s as to what we can expect from their first shows on Australian soil: “We are a no frills heavy metal band” he states firmly. “There’s no big stage production. No fancy pyrotechnics. But you will get four men on stage, all giving it 100%, to put on the best show they possibly can. We think we are an ideal festival band, perfect for having a few drinks and banging your head and having a good time. Imagine Motorhead jamming with Sabbath!” An indelible image we are sure. Of course we are not complaining that Orange Goblin will finally be rocking it ‘down under’, but there are still curious questions that have to be asked. We know that promoter, AJ Maddah, certainly as eclectic tastes, but still, one cannot doubt that this doom metal troupe may seem like an odd choice in the grand scheme of the great musical equation… “This will be the first time in our eighteen year career that we’ve ever played in Australia, so there is quite a lot of anticipation from our Australian fans,” Ben starts. “I think AJ
is pretty clued up about what’s going on in the rock and metal world, and he must have seen that Orange Goblin has had some great reviews in the past year, so it’s an honour for us to be invited to play as part of Soundwave. We’re looking forward to the big shows and especially the smaller side shows.” As are we, there is no doubt. But getting back to our original query about how a band like Orange Goblin fits within the bill of such a festival as Soundwave, if we are to look closer it does all seem to make a little more sense, especially as AJ Maddah does have a history of taking smaller cult bands, and adding them next to the larger bands that appear at Soundwave. Watain and Ghost - the latter who also play this year - are two prime examples. And of course, last year he added doom messiahs Cathedral, who just happen to feature Lee Dorian, the man that would go onto give Orange Goblin their first big break. Its almost like things have come full circle in an uncanny kind of way. Wether adding these smaller bands on the bill works or not, we do wonder if Ben believes that it should be the responsibility of festival organisers to continue to support these smaller bands along side the main acts? After all, while a band like Orange Goblin may never have reached these shores on their own, all of a sudden they have been opened up to the potential of being seen by anywhere up to 150 000 raving, rabid music fans. “I don’t think ‘responsibility’ is the word,” the vocalist muses. “I think that festivals like this are great in giving exciting, young bands the chance to play to the same crowd as Metallica and Slayer. Even though we’ve been around for such a long time, it’s great to play festivals, as it is a chance to perform to people that may never have heard you before. That’s just how this industry works - everyone has to start somewhere. We’ve been fortunate to play all
the big festivals in the UK, and in Europe, and each one has benefited us, so I hope that will be the case in Australia too”
“We are a no frills heavy metal band” For those that have followed the adventures of the front man over the years will know of his love of music. The band itself has been influenced by the likes of Motorhead, Thin Lizzy and of course Black Sabbath. And that’s not even mentioning Ben’s love of obscure bands such as Lucifer’s Friend, Buffalo and Sir Lord Baltimore – look em’ up kids. Yes, there is no doubting that Mr Ward is old school. So, with this old soul seemingly stuck in a 1960’s-1970’s time warp we wonder if there may be any more modern bands that tickle is musical fancy? “There are a lot of great bands out there today and many of them are starting to enjoy some success,” he starts. “Mastodon, Baroness and Kylesa for example. In the UK there are a lot of cool bands emerging too, bands like Uncle Acid & The Deadbeats, Grifter, Conan, Black Magician and Admiral Sir Cloudesley Shovell. All of them have their own unique sound but all come from the same influences of classic hard rock and metal.” Okay, so it seems you can take the man out of the decade, but it seems you can’t take the decade out of the man, as evidenced by his modern musical tastes. As we have mentioned, Black Sabbath are an obvious influence on Orange Goblin, so we can’t resist asking a question that may seem blasphemous amongst metalheads: Dio or Ozzy – who was the better vocalist?
“Technically you’d have to say that Dio was the superior vocalist,” Ben confesses. “That’s not disrespectful to Ozzy, as Ozzy is great too, but Dio is the Guvnor’ when it comes to metal singers. He’s not just the best in Sabbath but the best of them all.” The correct answer indeed, Mr. Ward, not to mention very diplomatic. As our interview time draws to a close it would be remiss of us not to talk about Orange Goblins latest album, ‘A Eulogy For The Damned’. Though its been around for just on a year now its an album still worth talking about, especially as it seems to have stuck on many peoples mind, hitting no. 8 on Metal As Fuck’s Top 100 Albums of 2012, and being even being selected as Terrorizer album of the year. The magazine has even given the band the special honour of appearing as the cover stars of the latest edition. Not bad for a bunch of stoners. So, overall, how has the response been to the album so far? “It’s been great, from both the press and the fans,” Ben enthuses. “It’s odd that it’s nearly a year old already, but it’s great to see it getting some appreciation in the magazine end of year polls. We’re all very proud of the album, so it’s nice to see it doing well.” Indeed. And in regards to the release of ‘A Eulogy For The Damned’, the band also put out a marvellous video for Red Tide Rising. We ask Ben how this video came about, and who was responsible for creating such a visual masterpiece? “The animation was by an Italian guy called Michele Botticelli,” the vocalist begins to elaborate. “The lyrics of the song are loosely based on some Lovecraft / Cthulhu type stuff, so we searched online for some animation based on that. We actually found the footage on Youtube, asked the guy if we could use it,
and he agreed. The director also wanted to mix in some footage of us playing, and the weird stuff you see with the candles and the Ouija board. The end result looks great.” That’s an understatement we would contend. If you haven’t had the chance to check this video out yet take a pause and head over to YouTube. Presented in stylish animation, it’s certainly a video that will stay in your mind, long after its been viewed.
“Technically you’d have to say that Dio was the superior vocalist”
And so, all good things must end, as they say, but before we part, we ask Mr. Ward if they have any last words for their Australian fans? “We are all excited to finally be playing down under,” Ben eagerly tells us. “Our fans there have been tremendously patient and supportive, so we look forward to putting on the best shows we can, and then meeting them and hanging out for a beer or two after the show. I think we all want to do all the touristy stuff too, and see the Sydney Harbour Bridge and the Opera House. I also want to visit the Bon Scott memorial just outside Perth. See you all in February and March!” And there you have it. There is no doubt that Orange Goblin are going to impress, offering a deluge of musical greatness and enthusiasm when they play at Soundwave this year, so make sure that you don’t miss what could be a once in a life time experience. After all, who knows when the band will be able to make it back down this way? ‘An Eulogy For The Damned’ is out now on Candlelight Records. Words: Mark Grimshaw
Not much happens in Reading. Unless of course you count the hugely successful Reading Festival, which takes place every August. It’s probably for this very reason that a bunch of school lads, decided to start a band - just over a decade ago - to emulate their favourite thrash bands. And thus was born Sylosis. Though being the original lead guitarist in Sylosis, Josh Middleton also recently took over vocals after original singer, Jamie Graham, decided to call it quits. Not that this latter act would deter the band, bouncing back stronger than ever with their new release ‘Monolith’, and gearing up for our very own Soundwave Festival. Though ‘Monolith’ has only just hit the stores, its already notching up quite a lot of praise in both the mainstream and metal press. Having said that, the band has been building up a lot of good will with the media over the last few years. Something that is, if truth be told, unusual for a band with only three full lengths to their name. So would it be rude of us to suggest that perhaps the band has already peaked? “We’re nowhere near peaking yet,” Josh firmly states. “We still don’t make a living from what we do, and have so much more ahead of us, in terms of touring and writing. This might as well be our debut album. It’s a very slow process for us. We’re not an overnight sensation or a ‘hype’ band.” A ‘slow process’, might just be a slight understatement. Indeed, those that have followed the band over the last few years may just choke on their Weet-Bix, upon hearing this. After all, a band that releases three albums and two E.P.’s, in a space of six years, are not exactly moving at a sloths pace. In fact, there are many people - including a lot of bands - who would love to know how Sylosis maintains such a level of consistency and creativity? We let the front man explain: ‘We have a lot of down time, as we don’t tour that much at this level, so we use our down time to write as much material as possible. It’s not something that’s forced. You just keep pushing yourself to write better music.” A fair assessment one would think. And though the band may not get to tour too much, is this by choice? We ask Josh if he would actually prefer to tour more, or is he more content in the studio, continuously recording more music? The guitarist doesn’t hesitate to answer:
“Both are great, but if there was any preference, it would be how we would tour. If we could tour in a big bus all the time, and have super comfy hotels, then that would take a lot of the pressures and stresses away, as touring can get pretty tough,” the guitarist elaborates. “Unfortunately, we just travel in small vans most of the time.” Okay, so the band may have not quite reached the level of success where they are travelling in indulgence and luxury, but they have had the privilege of touring with such luminaries as In Flames, As I Lay Dying, Fear Factory and Lamb of God, enough to make them the envy of many other younger bands. And speaking of touring, there is of course Soundwave. It may have come as a surprise to many, that a band who may not be so well known - especially to Oceanic audiences - ends up on the bill for Australia’s biggest, and best, alternative/metal festival. So how exactly did this come about? ‘Well, we got the offer through in June, asking us to play the festival, and we of course accepted,” enthuses Josh. “Seeing as none of us have ever been to Australia, we’re looking forward to everything - the weather, seeing some cool animals, and most importantly, the shows. We’ve heard so many good things about Soundwave, from friend’s bands who have played.” There is no doubt that the reputation for Soundwave has spread far and wide, with many bands now vying for a spot at the prestigious event. Before we get to March though, there is of course the aforementioned ‘Monolith’ album, which has just seen the light of day. Thematically, Josh has compared the bands new album, ‘Monolith’, to the classical story of Orpheus and Eurydice. We wonder if he was able to explain this concept further? “It’s about someone trying to bring their wife back from the dead, but the storyline is very elaborate, and at this point we don’t want to give away too many details. I just like to cover up anything personal with a concept. All the lyrics have literal meanings for me, but it gives me a way of masking things, so no one knows exactly what each song’s about.”
A fair point, no doubt. So does Josh think that people in general all have a darker side to them, or are we partly shaped by our environment? “A bit of both to be honest,” he states directly. “It’s going to be different depending on each person but everyone has flaws.” For those that have not heard Sylosis before, we wonder if the guitarist (and vocalist) would be able to expand a little on the bands influences, especially as he has often stated that the early Bay Area thrashers were a big inspiration for him. “Our influences are bands like early Metallica, Sepultura, Forbidden, Vio-Lence, Dark Angel and Death,” the front man starts, “then epic/ progressive bands like Cult of Luna, Pink Floyd and Rush. And all kinds of dark and doomy stuff, like Neurosis, High on Fire and Crowbar.”
“We’re nowhere near peaking yet”
Quite a Hodge podge mixture of sounds then, but all bands worthy of admiration nevertheless. It also shows why the bands sound is a little progressive, at least compared to most, and why they don’t seem to fit any one formula. It is definitely one of Sylosis’s main strengths, but we believe that it might just be best for the listener to discover this, for himself or herself. But before we allow you to do so, we feel it only polite, to ask Josh, if he has any last words for his Australian fans: “Sorry it’s taken us so long to get out there. Hopefully this is the first of many trips to Australia for us. Our new album Monolith is in stores now!”. ‘Monolith’ is out now via Nuclear Blast/Riot! Words: Mark Grimshaw
The Sword may not be as big as they should but they certainly have a cult following, many of whom will be looking forward to finally seeing the band rock out at Soundwave. And if that were not enough The Sword will also being playing one of the festivals ‘sidewaves’, with both Orange Goblin and Red Fang, a package that is to be every stoner rocker’s wet dream. We decided to catch up with ringleader, J.D. Cronise, to talk about their latest album ‘Apocryphon’, as well as their upcoming tour. John D. Cronise – J.D. to his friends – is a man of few words. You could say that he is one of those musicians that prefer to let their music do the talking. But that’s fine with us, because when it comes to the music of The Sword, we are more than happy to listen. In either case, we thought we would try to corner the man anyhow and see what he does have to say. “Not especially”, is the bandleader’s candid response, when we ask him if he is able to tell us a little more about the lyrical theme of brand new opus, ‘Apocryphon’. “ I feel that the lyrics on the new album are the best I’ve written to date but there was no overall concept to speak of. I encourage people to listen to the record and hear for themselves.” Well, we might not be any more knowledgeable when it comes to the lyrics, but at least we can take the artwork for what it is, which is quite spectacular, if we do so say ourselves. In fact, the album cover, completed by renowned comic book artist J.H. Williams, its one of the best pieces of colour we have seen for quite some time. We’re sure that J.D. is more inclined to tell us a little bit about how the band came to work will Williams and how this particular piece was chosen?
111. So how is he settling in then? “Again, I encourage people to listen to the album and hear for themselves.” Not only that but we will get to hear the man himself, when the band arrive upon our shores late February. So does J.D. have any last words?
“And we hope to see lots of single ladies at the shows”
“We’re very excited to return to Australia,” comes his chilled response, “and we hope to see lots of single ladies at the shows.” Short and sweet. But like we said, sometimes its better to let the music do all the talking. ‘Apoocryphon’ is out now via Razor & Tie/Shock
Words: Mark Grimshaw
“We asked him to do it and he agreed,” J.D. states, mater of fact. “I imagine that’s how most such arrangements are reached. The art was mostly his concepts, with some input from me.” That may be the case but it was certainly a great choice, in either case. The artist for The Sword’s new CD is not the only thing new in the bands camp with ‘Apocryphon’ seeing the introduction of drummer, Santiago Vela PAGE 10
A Beginners Guide To Metallica: The History of Metallica 1981 – 1991 It doesn’t matter if you’re a ‘metalhead’, or otherwise - there would hardly be a person alive who hasn’t heard of the name Metallica. To think that the band had reached the level of success that they still retain today is almost beyond remarkable; especially considering that it took them only a decade to do so. But, though many people may know of Metallica due their breakthrough fifth full-length - ‘The Black Album’ - there are still many whom are not aware of the history of the band, at least up until that point. And so, it is for this reason that Festival Daze magazine have decided to take you back into the past of a musical act that would go on to become one of the biggest bands in the world. It was in October 1981 that drummer Lars Ulrich first enticed a young James Hetfield, with an offer that included a promise to be featured on the first release of Brian Slagel’s new label, Metalblade Records. Ulrich and the budding entrepreneur (Slagel) had first met whilst Slagel was working in LA independent record store, Oz Records. Ulrich would often come in to buy records, and a firm friendship soon blossomed. Brian Slagel was more than just a heavy metal junkie, and with a desire to highlight some of Los Angles best metal bands, soon decided to set up a small record label. It was never intended to be a professional venture - just one man’s passion for releasing the music that he loved. It was when Lars Ulrich had heard that Slagel was to put out a compilation - featuring a few bands that Slagel admired the most - that Ulrich was quick to exact a promise to feature his own band. Slagel agreed, but a small problem lied in the fact that, at the time of this request, Ulrich was not actually even in a band. This small fact of course would not deter the soon to be famous drummer. That first album put out through Metalblade Records was the aforementioned compilation, which would become entitled ‘Metal Massacre’,and would go on to feature several bands that would go on to find relative success, including Black N Blue and Ratt. And of course we know that Metallica would also be featured, but to get to that point, we need to rewind to those months leading to the close of 1981. With Ulrich desperate to be featured on ‘Metal Massacre’ he soon set about to recruit other members for his musical undertaking and an advertisement was placed in Los Angles newspaper, The Recycler, which sought other like-minded musicians into Tygers Of Pan Tang, Diamond Head and Iron Maiden. It was in fact the 28th of October 1981 that the two musicians, Ulrich and Hetfield, first met. They quickly bonded over their mutual musical loves, and it was not long before Rod McGovney - Hetfield’s housemate -was roped into playing bass, along with Dave Mustaine on lead guitar. PAGE 11
But first there was the small matter of finding a suitable band name. At the suggestion of friend, Ron Quintana, the moniker Metallica was taken, and the band then begun gigging around the Los Angeles area opening for such acts as Saxon. Not long after, the band recorded ‘No Life ‘Til Leather’, and the band starting playing San Francisco. It was here that the band witnessed a young bass player, by the name of Cliff Burton, who was playing in local band Trauma. The bassist refused to relocate to Southern California, and instead, the rest of Metallica found themselves moving to the Bay Area where Cliff finally accepted to offer to become the bands full time bass player. Meanwhile, Metallica’s demo ‘No Life ‘Til Leather’ found its way into the hands of Jon Zazula, who happened to own Metal Haven, an independent record store in New York City, and an offer was made for the band to play some East Coast shows. However, problems within the bands started to appear and only a week after arrival the rest the group unceremoniously sacked Mustaine. A couple of phone calls were made and soon after - on the recommendation of their roadie - Kirk Hammett from Bay Area thrasher’s Exodus joined the band. As for Mustaine, he soon bounced back with Megadeth, who would go on to become – along with Metallica, Anthrax and Slayer – one of the ‘big four’ of thrash metal. Metallica’s first album, ‘Kill ‘Em All’, was to be released in late 1983 and instantly started to gain a cult following, both in the US and Europe. The album featured songs that would become instant classics including; ‘Whiplash’, ‘Seek & Destroy’ and ‘Hit The Lights’ – the song that had appeared on the first Metal Massacre album – to name but several. The band continued to tour aggressively and when it came time to record their second album, the band made the conscious decision to fly to Copenhagen to hook up with seasoned producer, Flemming Rasmussen (Morbid Angel, Blind Guardian, Artillery). ‘Ride The Lightening’ proved that Metallica’s first album was no flash in the pan
and to this day - like ‘Kill ‘Em All’ – remains not only a fan favourite, but a true classic, with songs such as ‘Fade To Black’ and ‘For Whom The Bell Tolls being just a couple of highlights. It was after the release of ‘Ride The Lightening’ that Metallica’s popularity really started to grow. Now with better management and a major label (Elektra) backing them, there was no stopping this hungry young band. The group returned to the same studio (Sweet Silence Studios) and recorded third full length, ‘Master Of Puppets’, which would see the band chart in the Top 30 Album Chart as well as securing a tour with none less than Ozzy Osbourne. The band even managed to play at the Monsters Of rock festival with an audience attendance of 70 000 people. ‘Master Of Puppets’ was the bands first album to be certified gold and by 2003 had been certified six times platinum. Unfortunately, tragedy was just around the corner… It was the early morning of September 27th, 1986 and Metallica were on the road for their ‘Damage Inc.’ tour. It was around dawn when the driver of the band’s tour bus lost control and skilled across the road causing the bus to roll several times. The rest of the band escaped injury but Cliff Burton was pinned under the bus and killed. It is a moment in a bands history that could have seen their end, but Metallica knew that Burton would not have wanted them to quit and with the blessing of his family, the band soon sought a suitable replacement. It was not long before Jason Newsted - from thrash band Flotsam And Jetsam - was inaugurated into Metallica and the band finished their tour before heading back to the studio to record ‘The $5.98 E.P.; Garage Days Re-Revisited’, a stop gap E.P. that would see the band cover some of their own influences, including Diamond Head, Killing Joke and Budgie. ‘…And Justice For All’ would be Metallica’s first proper release with Jason Newstead, and it was an instant success, reaching number six on the Billboard 200. It was not just a commercial success that Metallica found with ‘…And Justice
For All’, with the band being nominated for their first Grammy Award. Regrettably, they lost out to Jethro Tull’s album ‘Crest Of Knave’. This episode caused outrage from both fans and the music press and the incident was named in Entertainment Weekly’s Grammy’s ‘10 Biggest Upsets’. The bands fourth album would also be notable for debuting the bands first video, for the song ‘One’, and would go on to cause much debate about the use of euthanasia. In late months of 1990, Metallica entered One on One studio in North Hollywood to record their fifth album, this time with producer Bob Rock, who had worked with everyone from Aerosmith to The Cult, from Bon Jovi to Motley Crue. ‘Metallica’- often referred to as ‘The Black Album’ - had reportedly cost the band over $1 million dollars, having to be remixed three times before the band was happy with the outcome. The album went onto reach number one in ten countries, and sold 650 000 units in its first week of release. It had taken five albums to do so but with ‘The Black Album’ Metallica finally broke into the mainstream, and in the process, become the highest selling ‘metal’ band in the world. Words: Mark Grimshaw
Following the release of their second album in 2004, British metal maniacs DragonForce rode a rocket to success as follow-up ‘Inhuman Rampage’, flirted with serious mainstream impact, and the song Through the Fire and the Flames became a worldwide hit, after repeated use by the Guitar Hero franchise - it even scored them a gold record in North America. 2008’s ‘Ultra Beatdown’ charted in Australia, and the band was in high demand on the international tour circuit, for their relentlessly energetic live performances.
Then in 2010, things came to an abrupt halt. Shortly after guitarist and founding member Herman Li announced that DragonForce would spend 2010 working on new material, the news came that vocalist ZP Theart was out of the band. While writing continued, the gap between recordings began to be filled with rereleases and live albums, and then the band got into a dispute with its label, Roadrunner. To some it must have looked as if DragonForce’s fortunes were crashing down to earth like that big meteor on the cover of Sonic Firestorm. “Apart from the singer thing, we started our own label,” says Herman Li down the line. “We had to get out of what we were on, and it was hard work to get out of the deal, and there were so many things happening at the same time at that point, and at the time, keeping the band going was so much energy... I’m just glad we got it done.” Bowed but not beaten, DragonForce re-stoked their fire by hiring vocalist Marc Hudson almost twelve months after Theart’s departure - and going on to open for Iron Maiden at one of the world’s biggest arenas - London’s 02 before unleashing ‘The Power Within’, early in 2012. Since then, they’ve been constantly on the road.
“There was quite a bit of work we had to do to get the last album running,” the guitarist admits. “So I’m glad that was done. Thank fuck for that! There was so much chaos happening, to get back to touring again was a good feeling, actually!” The long period spent on ‘The Power Within’ gave the band the chance to flex their creative muscles, beyond the blazing, lightning-fast speed of previous albums, to more moderately paced tracks and acoustic numbers. “We tried to come up with a few different things on this album and explore some new avenues,” Li explains. “To not go over the top all the time, and find a kind of balance on it. The fans accepted it really well. It’s got the fast stuff, and different things as well.” Bands that tinker with their successful formulas can often find they’ve alienated established fans and failed to attract more. For that reason, it’s a gamble that some are reluctant to push too far. The gambit paid off for DragonForce, and Li is nonplussed. “I think the band from the beginning was a gamble, because we pretty much don’t really write music for anybody. We don’t care,” he says. “We don’t wanna fit in. We write to imaginary people, imaginary people we think will like us. We do what we want, so if they like it, cool. If they don’t, well... tough. The new
album is totally DragonForce, it’s just that we’ve added new parts to it, but it’s still as over the top, and as fast as any of the other albums. It’s just pushing in different musical directions.” Their hyper speed shred is as popular in Australia as it had become apparently everywhere else, and the band is as keen to return to these shores as fans must be to see them in the wake of last year’s cancellation. Li reckons there’s an upside to us missing out twelve months ago. “We’re itching to get down there,” he says, “because last year the shows got canned, and that was pretty disappointing, and this time we can make it. And we’re real excited because we’ve been on tour for so long now, that we’re are a well-oiled machine, ready to kill! We couldn’t be more ready. It’s gonna be cool.” It will be the first time the six piece will have played at a festival configuration in this country, but they are no strangers to the format, regularly appearing on large events in other places around the world. There won’t be any holding back, even in the heat of an Australian February. “You’re still going to get the same DragonForce: full on energy, even if the sun is burning our faces,” Li says with a laugh. “And to the DragonForce fans who may have seen us
“People were almost smashing through the barrier! We were like,
‘Whoa, this is Japan? What’s going on here?” in 2009, they will want to see us again, because we continue to improve in every single way!”
difficult for DragonForce to put a set list together. Li has a plan for that also.
Li has a personal connection to this country also.
“I usually check my records to see what songs we played last time, and when it was, and where we’re going, and if we’ve been there before. If we’re going around the world on one tour, you won’t get the same set list in every single country. It depends on where we’re going.”
“I’ve got friends that live in Australia, so it will be good to catch up. Because I don’t really go there to holiday. I only see them at the end of a tour, so I’ll tell them, I’ll see you in two years when we finish the next album.” He laughs, before going on. “We’ve got quite a few friends at the show, and seeing bands like Slayer, Metallica, bands like that, Anthrax... it’s always cool.” At the time we spoke, there was no word on whether DragonForce were up for any of the numerous Sidewaves that always surround the main festival. Fans will no doubt be keen to get along, should one be announced, and have the opportunity to catch one of the world’s most frenetic live bands in a more intimate environment. There’s the benefit of a slightly longer set, too.“At a festival we just have to go, go, go! We can’t talk between songs; have a conversation between songs, because that takes up set time. So we just gotta play non stop and not talk during the song!” With five albums worth of material to choose from, all of which are popular with their rabid fanbase, it’s obviously becoming increasingly
Their unconquerably athletic live performances have seen them on stages all around the globe, but there are still plenty of territories they have yet to play. “There are certain places in China that we haven’t been to,” Li says. “We’ve played in China before, but there’s places we haven’t played yet. India would be fun. I did a guitar clinic there and it was absolutely insane. I’d like to go to Africa one day. We’ve never been to Africa.”
they just clap at the end of the song, and things like that. What happened there was, there was three moshpits going on there at the same time. People were almost smashing through the barrier! We were like, ‘Whoa, this is Japan? What’s going on here?’” When DragonForce get their ultraspeed talons into the Soundwave crowd, it’s very likely there will be some insanity in the pit here in Australia as well. ‘The Power Within’ is out now on 3Wise Records. Words: Brian Giffen
Li enjoys the cultural diversity of the people he meets, as he travels the world plying his trade. In India, he tells me, he was mobbed by people who just wanted to touch him. And in other countries, he’s noticed a shift from more traditional attitudes in recent times. “I think the world is getting to be a much smaller place,” he says. “In Japan - we played there a couple of months ago - and you always hear about how the fans are really quiet, and
“But when Appetite for Destruction came out I thought: oh boy, this is definitely a lot different than I imagined.”
Having just turned thirty, and with several of their bands playing at Soundwave 2013, we thought it only fitting to celebrate the joys and tribulations of one of metals most well loved and respected record labels – Metalblade. And who better to give us an insight than founder Brian Slagel, who was gracious enough to talk about the labels origins, where he believes the industry is headed in the future, and of course that band. Like all great empires there have been many heavy metal record labels that have risen, only to later fall on their sword. But there has been one metal label that has continued to stand the test of time. Metalblade was founded just on thirty years ago by a young metalhead called Brian Slagel. Metalblade would go on to influence an entire scene, not to mention signing some of metals best-loved bands in the process. “Basically, I was working in a record store in 1981,” Brian recounts “ and there started to be a cool little scene happening in Los Angles. Back then there were no magazines. So I was really heavily influenced by the NWOBHM (New Wave Of British Heavy Metal) and the kind of ‘do it yourself’ attitude’ over there (England). So when I was working in the store I decided to put together a compilation album of local heavy metal bands. And I talked to the import distributors that I was dealing with and said: ‘if I do this, will you guys distribute it’ and they said ‘sure’, and that become an album.” Ah yes, ‘Metal Massacre’. For the uninitiated, ‘Metal Massacre’ was a compilation that Brian had started to highlight some of the unsigned bands in the burgeoning local scene of Los Angeles. It was the first in a series, and technically speaking, Metalblade’s first release proper. It would also be known for kick starting many a bands career, including Ratt and Black N Blue, to name just a couple. But it was the first ‘Metal Massacre’ that would host the debut appearance of that band. That band of course, being Metallica, who would provide Brian with an early rendition of Hit The Lights. At the time it would have been incomprehensible to either band, or Brian, to envisage just how successful Metallica were to become. We imagine that Mr Slagel must feel pretty stoked to have ‘discovered’ one of the world’s biggest selling bands? “Yep, it’s pretty amazing. They’ve gone on to do quite well I think,” he states matter of fact, before breaking into laughter. It is clearly an understatement, which is probably why he finds it so amusing. After all, how many of us will ever get the chance to say that we were - at least in a round about way – responsible for discovering the biggest metal band on the planet? But PAGE 15
discovering a band is one thing. To then watch them go on and become so successful - without sharing the rewards – is something else In essence, it would be fair to say that there must have been some regret on Brian’s part. So does he ever find himself staring out the window and wondering, ‘what if’? More laughter ensures. “Hey, I was a 20 year old kid when I started,” he explains, “so I didn’t know anything. If I knew back then what I know now I think I would do things a little bit differently. But history has played out well. We’ve done extremely well and all the bands that started out with us have done well, so I’m just happy to have played a part in it all.” There’s not a hint of malice in Slagel’s tone and he genuinely seems like a man who is content with how things have worked out. But Metallica are not the only band to have missed Brian’s grasp with the story going that he was close to signing the mighty Megadeth, the band of one time Metallica guitarist, Dave Mustaine. Brian takes up the story: “Yeah, it was between us and a label called Combat,” he starts. “Combat offered a thousand dollars more than we did at the time, so they got them. That shows us how small we were and how we had not much money back then.” While he is in such a jovial mood we decide to push our luck further and ask if there were any other bands that may have escaped the net? “There’s always a few that happen,” he reminisces. “One that I ended up watching in hindsight was probably Guns N Roses. They use to play around LA all the time and I would constantly get calls from their people: ‘you should come see the band’, ‘you should come see the band’, but I just never went because I thought they were kind of glam, and I was never a glam fan. But when ‘Appetite (for Destruction)’came out I thought: ‘oh boy, this is definitely a lot different than I imagined.’” There’s yet more laughter. Something tells us that there is not much that can deter this man. But lets not dwell on the past. For while there may have been a few large name bands that Brian may have missed out on, there have been dozens
more that he has had the good fortune to sign: Fates Warning, Kind Diamond, Bolt Thrower, Cannibal Corpse – the list goes on. Metalblade has, in fact, been responsible for some of the most consistent, and delightful, metal releases in the last thirty years. But with many metal labels falling by the wayside, either self destructing, or being eaten up by corporate monoliths, we wonder what has kept Metalblade going all of these years? And has Brian ever contemplated selling out like his peers; Noise, Music For Nations, and even more recently, Roadrunner? “Sure, we’ve had a lot of offers over the years,” he reflects. “We were at Warner Brothers for four years, in the early 90’s, and one thing that I learnt about being at a major label is that you have to give up a lot of your freedom. And for me its not really about the money, its about doing the right thing ”. And what does he think of the scene now, compared to thirty years ago? “Its rather interesting these days that’s for sure,” he reasons. “You have to stay on top of things. And you have to embrace the change. Where a lot of people make the mistake is that they don’t embrace all the changes that are going on. But we try to do that. Whether it’s social media or some of the other things. Also, if you don’t put out good quality product then people don’t have to buy it so it really forces you to be careful. And make sure that everything you put out is good, and that people like it. That you put the best product out there so people are, hopefully, enticed to buy it. I think if you do a lot of those things you can still be successful.” The next few years will indeed be an interesting period for the music industry, though we have no doubt that Metalblade will still be around, providing us with yet more good quality, head banging, releases. Here’s to another thirty years Metalblade. Words: Mark Grimshaw
Where It All Began…
It was just over thirty years ago that Metalblade Records released the first ‘Metal Massacre’ compilation, which would in fact be the labels first official album. Best known for featuring Metallica’s first appearance – with Hit The Lights - ‘Metal Massacre’ highlighted up and coming metal bands from the Los Angeles metal scene. Some would go onto greater success, others would fade into obscurity, but one thing was certain – it would provide a unique insight into the mind of Brian Slagel, and thus an insight into what would become one of the worlds biggest metal labels – Metablade Records.
Metal Massacre (1982) 2nd Pressing Metalblade Records
Next to Metallica, by far the biggest band on the first Metal Massacre album (2nd pressing) was Black N Blue, who after moving to LA, were soon signed with Geffen Records. In the meantime, Slagel had decided to include Chains Around Heaven – after hearing the demo track – and is a fine inclusion to the compilation. Bitch would go on to claim
fame by being part of Metalblade’s first band release’ – with their EP ‘Damnation Alley’ and Live For The Whip was a great introduction of what fans were to expect from Betsy Bitch and crew, the song being one of the catchiest numbers here. Malice were one of the lucky few metal bands who found their way to a major label, but by this time it was a case of ‘too little, too late’, and the band’s fan base soon dwindled, with the band eventually imploding. Nevertheless, Captive Of Light is a documentation of why the band appealed to so many metalheads at the time. With the removal of Ratt from the original pressing Metalblade needed a replacement and this was found in Avatar. Octave may only be an instrumental, but showed the talent that this young band also bought to the table. Is there any serious metalhead that does not own something by Cirith Ungol? Okay, so they might have been one of those bands that many have heard of, but not actually heard. Tis a pity as Death Of The Sun showcase’s a unique bunch of musicians, including the
distinctive weird-assed vocals of Tim Baker. When listening to Dead Of The Night one could be forgiven for almost thinking that they were listening to something by King Diamond, but Demon Flight was certainly another underrated gem. Pandemonium brought about a doomy vibe with their inclusion of Fighting Backwards, whilst Malice returned with their second track on the compilation with Kick You Down. Listening to the two tracks by this classy band makes us wonder if perhaps a reunion should perhaps be on the cards? And last, but certainly not least, is Hit The Lights by Metallica, and probably why every self-deserving metalhead should own this compilation, especially as it features probably the only appearance you will hear of Metallica, with Dave Mustaine. Some may argue about the quality of some of the bands on Metal Massacre but one must also remember that each and every one of these bands were unique in their day - and still stand the test of time - retrospectively showing a small slice of musical history of the LA metal scene.
Even those with just a casual acquaintance with death metal probably know Chris Barnes. If not his name, then his voice. Along with the demonic shriek-shout of Deicide’s Glen Benton and the infernal roar of David Vincent from Morbid Angel, Barnes’ barking growl is one of the most influential and recognisable cornerstones of the genre, a sound that has helped to propel two of the bands he has fronted into the kind of mainstream recognition that very few death metal acts enjoy. With Six Feet Under, Chris Barnes is finally returning to Australia to take part in Soundwave after an absence of almost eighteen years.
“You know, I’m real sorry that we didn’t get the chance to come down last year,” he says, referring to the band’s planned 2012 tour that fell over when headliners DevilDriver cancelled at the last minute, “because the last time I was there, it was my last tour with Cannibal Corpse and I had such a great time. I was looking forward to rekindling some memories and it sucks that we had to disappoint the fans who wanted to see us. But now, man, we’re coming back with this awesome festival and it’s going to be great.”
still love all the stuff [I’ve done before], but on ‘Undead’ I just felt really relaxed and in a good place.” ‘Undead’ delivered Six Feet Under with some of the best reviews they have earned since 1999’s ‘Maximum Violence’, the first album to feature Swanson. In the years between, the band has been accused of stagnation and lack of inspiration from both critics and fans alike, while continuing to enjoy enviable sales figures. It’s a dichotomy that Barnes doesn’t spend too much time thinking about.
Six Feet Under will be touring Australia on the back of ‘Undead’, their ninth studio album (twelfth if the trio of ‘Graveyard Classics’ is included), although the follow-up – ‘Unborn’ - is due for release the week after they leave. ‘Undead’ represented something of a new era for the band, featuring the first major line-up change they had suffered since Steve Swanson replaced original guitarist Allen West in 1998. At the time, Barnes described it as a rebirth, when exChimaira guitarist Rob Arnold and journeyman drummer Kevin Talley stepped into place for long-serving members Terry Butler and Greg Gall. Arnold played both guitar and bass on the album before leaving the band, after expressing reluctance to continue as a touring musician.
“People have always criticised me and my band,” he admits, with something of an audible shrug that gives one the impression he cares very little. “Critics... journalists, right from the early days back in Cannibal Corpse, were always writing off my vocals, or saying stuff about my lyrics. It’s kind of amusing for me because, twenty-five years later, I’m still doing it. I’m still doing it, man, and I’m enjoying it more than ever and I can’t see any reason for me to stop doing it.”
“It was awesome working with Rob on ‘Undead’,” Barnes says. “He’s such a talented musician and he really injected some new life into the band. I really think that I enjoyed the whole creative process on that album more than I had in a long time. Don’t get me wrong, I
Perhaps the harshest criticism Six Feet Under has faced has been for their ‘Graveyard Classics’ series, featuring covers of everything from Paul Revere and the Raiders and Bachman Turner Overdrive to Mercyful Fate, Venom and Slayer. The second installment of the trilogy, on which they covered AC/DC’s ‘Back in Black’ in its entirety, has been reviled as one of the worst albums of all time. Nine years after it came out, many still fail to get the joke, but listen closely and all three ‘Graveyard Classics’ are essentially the sound of a band simply having fun.
“They were fun to do,” Barnes agrees with a laugh. “We were lucky that we were given the opportunity to do those albums. You know, I’ve always had a good relationship with Brian and Metal Blade, and from that, we’ve been afforded the latitude to do things like ‘Graveyard Classics’. It isn’t likely that too many of those tracks will feature in Six Feet Under’s Soundwave set, nor at either of the two headlining shows that were announced for Sydney and Melbourne since this interview was conducted. As previously mentioned, Barnes is very keen to return to Australia, especially with the new-look SFU line-up that now also includes former Brain Drill bassist Jeff Hughell and Ola Englund of Swedish band Scarpoint, making the band a five
“People have always criticised me and my band”
piece unit for the first time. And while they may not be playing classic rock and metal covers in Australia, there is a chance some of Barnes’ own classics could make an appearance. “We were playing Stripped, Rape and Strangled and Hammer Smashed Face at shows last year,” Barnes declares. “So we’ll probably have maybe one of them in the set when we come down. I don’t know how long our set is going to be at
Soundwave, but you know, I still love all those songs. I get asked about Cannibal Corpse all the time and I think that a lot of times people think I’m gonna talk shit about them, but you know, man, they were some great times in that band. They’re still doing some great things, and I’m still doing my thing and you know, it’s all cool. “’Torture’,” he continues, “is great. I think Paul [Mazurkiewicz] sounds great on that album and there’s some real good stuff on there... the production, the sound. It’s a killer album, man.” As one of death metal’s pioneers, Chris Barnes has seen the movement evolve and develop from the formative late 80’s to early 90’s era. While some people are cold on many of the current bands, with their modern interpretations of the death metal style, Barnes instead prefers to champion them. “One of my favourite bands out there - I just think they’re amazing - is Whitechapel. I think that that band is just so incredible, and
Phil [Bozeman]’s voice… to me, Phil is the best death metal vocalist in modern times,” he says with a laugh. “He is really awesome. I love that band and think they’re just phenomenal. Unbelievable.” When it comes to who he wants to see most at Soundwave, he is almost as easily drawn. “Slayer, man,” he says. “But you know, there’s such an awesome line-up at Soundwave; there’s just so many killer, awesome bands playing that you could name any number of bands playing it. I’m friends and fans with a lot of the guys on the show so it’s just gonna be a great time hanging out in Australia with a bunch of really, really cool people. It’s gonna be an awesome time.” Words: Brian Giffin
Soundwave is one of those rare touring festivals that allow the artists a long time off between shows, and if you get a chance to talk to them, they’ll happily tell you that they take full advantage of that. The night after the Sydney show in 2011, what seemed like half the bands on the tour filled pubs along Enmore Road, before heading out to see Primus and the Melvins, and last year it was difficult to find a drinking hole that didn’t have at least one member from a Soundwave act in it at some point. You can guarantee the situation won’t be any different this year either, but one person you probably aren’t likely to stumble into prowling from bar to bar, or heading out to tourists haunts, or learning to surf between gigs, is Danko Jones, leader of the Canadian power trio that also bears his name. “I’m not here to see the sights of Australia,” he says in an even and quiet voice that belies his explosive stage persona. “I’m here to rock the people of Australia. I’ll do my sightseeing on my own time. I’ll book my own flight to Australia on my own time, on my own dime. I’m here to do a job, and my job is to fucking rock people! I really don’t understand bands that go on tour to sight see, and expend energy, where they could be using it to put toward the show they’re supposed to play that day or that night. I think it’s ripping off the audience. So I use all my energy for the show.” Danko Jones is righteously famous for their kinetic live performances; indeed, their reputation for onstage ferocity has led to them opening for, and touring with, everyone from Sepultura and Motorhead, to Turbonegro, Nickelback, Guns N Roses and even the Rolling Stones. Jones has no patience for those who might harm that sort of renown.
“There used to be a member in our band - he’s not in our band anymore – who (would) just hit the club, and he would hit the tourist buses and take a sightseeing tour, and at the end of the show the guy just wants to pass out. And I’m like; ‘I can go for fucking three more shows, motherfucker! I’ve saved that much energy. Let’s fucking go!’” he says. “I couldn’t believe that this guy would spend his whole fucking day, walking around the city, using up his energy, when he should be saving it for the night when people are coming to see him rocking.” In these days of declining record sales, when musicians have to rely on touring and live shows to keep themselves afloat, it looks like this surprisingly quietly spoken Canuck has precisely
the right mindset. The singer himself, however, doesn’t necessarily agree.
“You can call it the right attitude, but I call it what it really is: I’m a boring person,” he declares. “I just wanna play rock, I wanna listen to music. In terms of hobbies, I like writing. That can be done in a hotel room. So that’s my form of having fun. It’s boring to a lot of people. You could decorate it and say, ‘Oh, you’re very headstrong and tenacious, and you’ve got your eye on the prize’. But no. I’m just fucking boring. I just wanna rock!” Calling Danko Jones boring would be extremely unfair. Along with leading his band to a considerable level of success since the mid-90s, he’s a feverish writer, penning regular columns for no less than six different rock magazines, records podcasts for download from his band’s website, and hosts a Swedish radio show that is syndicated across Canada, Germany and Norway. His considerable energies, then, aren’t limited just to rocking out. But that’s what he will be doing when he joins the Soundwave Festival this year, for the band’s first visit in nine years. “I don’t know why it’s taken so long,” he says. “We’ve known Australia to be a country that embraces rock and roll bands. It’s been interesting in a mysterious way as to why we haven’t returned, but the fact that we’re coming back with Soundwave is good. It’s gonna be good.” While Australia is not as familiar to the trio as other parts of the world, the number of other acts from their own city, who are also on the bill, is sure to make them feel right at home.
“There’s a lot of Toronto bands on the line-up as well, so it’s gonna be kinda comfortable for us to travel halfway around the world - all the way around the world - and see some guys from our home town,” Jones says. “Bands like Fucked Up and Gallows, with Wade (MacNeil) singing for them, Billy Talent, Sum 41, Cancer Bats. There’s at least one guy in each of those bands that we know - at least Billy Talent and Sum 41. Don’t know those guys from Cancer Bats too well... we know each other well enough to say hi.” Current drummer Atom Willard spent four years with The Offspring and Danko Jones has toured with Jamey Jasta, and both John Garcia and Brant Bjork from Kyuss Lives! at different times, so it’s going to be like a family reunion in some respects. Jones is also excited about the sideshows they’ll be doing with Duff McKagan’s Loaded.
“I’d heard of these Sidewave shows, as they’re called, on the off days of the festival, and I was wondering if a) we’d get one, and b) who we’d be paired up with, and it was nice to know that it was Duff and Loaded, because we have a connection, as we toured with Axl for a year in 2010,” he explains. “He took us all over the world, through ten countries, opening for him. Duff isn’t in Guns N Roses these days but there is that connection. It’s nice to be doing some shows with Duff. I’ve met Duff a few times over the years, and he’s always been nice to me, so it’s gonna be cool.” When asked, he doesn’t offer much about that huge 2010 road trip with Guns N Roses, other than to say that Axl treated them well.
I can go for fucking three
motherfucker! I’ve saved that much energy. Let’s
fucking go! “It was amazing. We went from Russia to Ireland to Norway, Denmark, across Canada, Romania. We played everywhere with him.”
Danko Jones may not be superstars, but they’ve made a decent go of it in a world where the rock market has shrunk considerably since its heights in the 1990s. The singer admits it hasn’t been easy, and doubts they could have done it at all, if the band had started more recently.
“It would be more difficult if we were just starting off,” he says. “But we’ve been around long enough that we’ve been able to establish our name. Our records get some attention paid to them, more so than if we were just starting out. In a way, we were lucky to get ahead of the game, before this happened. But if we played a different kinda music, in a different kinda scene, I think we’d’ve done a lot better.” He isn’t talking about electronic music or hiphop. Jones believes that the real problem with rock, as opposed to punk or metal, is that it’s been pushed underground, but hasn’t spread out the type of feelers there that those genres have always done from pure necessity. Where metal and punk thrive at street level, through solid networks of underground fans and bands, Danko Jones is of the opinion that rock is suffering from being without that kind of scene.
Beyonce. So I think rock n’ roll has become this underground music. Which is fine and which is great, but what’s even worse is that even underground music has this infrastructure, this scene. Contemporary rock bands aren’t even organised enough to make a scene with what they’ve got. They’re all kind of isolated and that doesn’t make for a good scene. There’s Rival Sons, there’s Broken Teeth, there’s Wolfmother, Airbourne, White Stripes, Hives, Drunk Horse. There’s our band. There’s these kind of isolated bands that aren’t even as organised as the underground noise scene, or underground hardcore, punk rock bands.” Whatever that may hold for the future of Danko Jones, the thing he’s looking forward to right now, is finally getting back in front of an Australian audience.
“If we had to wait this long to play in front of a really big Australian crowd, then so be it. This year’s line-up is pretty awesome. I hope that people dig us. I’m glad to be playing in front of them.” ‘Rock And Roll Is Black And Blue’ is out now on Riot! Words: Brian Giffin
“It’s a maligned kind of music,” he says. “There isn’t a band that comes close to the popularity of Lady GaGa or Kayne West, unless it’s Metallica. There’s Wolfmother and the White Stripes, but Wolfmother and Jack White aren’t nearly as popular as Lady GaGa or Jay Z or
Jamey Jasta is one of those over-achieving people who seem to always have something going on to keep him busy. After appearing at Soundwave last year, with his main band Hatebreed, Jasta fronts up to the festival again in 2013 with Kingdom of Sorrow, his bone-crushing heavy metal project with Crowbar/Down guitarist Kirk Windstein. Somewhat ironically, the shows come less than a month after Hatebreed start touring in support of their latest album, ‘The Divinity of Purpose’. “Well, [Soundwave] threw a wrench in my schedule a little bit, but what are you gonna do?” he says pleasantly down the phone. “You can’t turn down a tour with Metallica and Slayer. It’s only two weeks, and hopefully while I’m down there it can help to really open the door for a Hatebreed headline tour, which we haven’t done since 05, 06.”
With the hardcore side of the bill looking like a meeting of the great minds of the genre, it seems almost a shame that Soundwave couldn’t bend their own rules and allow Hatebreed to back up for a second consecutive year. But Jasta doesn’t seem that disappointed. “I think it’s probably best not to repeat bands two years in a row,” he reasons. “That’s probably why Soundwave chose to do Kingdom. Believe me, I was pushing for Hatebreed. But I think it’s great that they have Sick of It All, Madball, Shai Hulud, VOD... it’s a great line up. Then of course there’s Metallica, Slayer, Anthrax too. If you like heavy metal or hardcore it’s a dream come true, it really is. You get to see everybody in one place.” Kingdom of Sorrow also gets to open for Slayer and Anthrax at Slayer’s only Sidewave performance in Sydney, which Jasta says he’s “psyched about”. It will be the first major international tour that this band has ever done, and from it, he sees a possibility for Windstein to tour Crowbar here in the future.
“We’re very blessed to have this opportunity. I was speaking to Kirk the other day and we’ve done one or two shows in Europe where we’ve played Kingdom of Sorrow songs together, but we’ve never really done any international touring with it,” he says. “Both records did pretty well in Australia so it’s nice to have the opportunity. We both hope that it opens up the opportunity for him to come with Crowbar, and for me to come back with Hatebreed, which right now there seems to be a lot of interest [in]. AJ from Soundwave just tweeted that he really loves the new Hatebreed record so I think we’re looking really good here.” He goes on to explain that he knows there’s been interest in bringing Crowbar ‘Down Under’, but Windstein’s own heavy schedule has been part of the reason why he hasn’t been able to as of yet. “Because he’s always busy with Down... I think the last time he came was when he came with Sabbath - when Down opened PAGE 21
for Heaven and Hell,” he says, correcting himself. “He’s long overdue. Hopefully this will open the door for him to do that, because the last couple of records were great and he’s gonna be working on a new one soon. There’s a lot of interest there. Having worked with him now for the last three or four years, you always see that – ‘When you coming to Australia? When you bringing Crowbar to Australia?’ He’s really looking forward to that opportunity.”
Opportunity is something that Jasta seizes whenever he sees one. They may not be playing, but he’ll have plenty of occasion to promote Hatebreed while in Australia, through interviews and meet-and-greets, and the gap between the album’s release and the band’s return will give fans time to get familiar with the material. He seems somewhat surprised that his own thoughts on ‘The Divinity of Purpose’ are very positive. “I’m really happy with it,” he admits. “I’m never really totally satisfied. I’m never completely enamoured with any of our records, but this one, I’m really happy with it. I never skip any tracks. We just started the new tour three days ago and I listened to it on the way to Detroit and it was nice! I don’t usually go back and listen to a record, so I feel good.”
Following their shows here at the beginning of last year, Hatebreed took a break and Jasta was allowed to enjoy some downtime from his constant workload. He admits that until he’d actually stopped for long enough to take stock, he wasn’t prepared to acknowledge that he was working so hard. “In past interviews I was in denial about being spread too thin. And now last year I had my 35th birthday and I was lucky to take some time off and I just thought, ‘Wow, it’s pretty crazy that I did Kingdom in 2010...’” He pauses for a moment to get his thoughts in order. “We did the Hatebreed DVD in 2008, then we did a covers album and a studio album, then I did a Kingdom record in 2010 and a solo record in 2011, so I was spread too thin. So it was nice to take some time off. We took our time with the record and did a lot of pre-production because it’s better that way. Right now I’m not doing my label. It’s in hiatus. It’s such a relief.”
Still, he’s thankful that he’s able to be a fulltime musician and make a living from doing it, and he’s quite proud of the way his solo album was received. “I thank my lucky stars everyday. I wake
up and feel blessed,” he says. “To get a worldwide deal with the Jasta record and get some of the reviews that I got and some of the shows that I did... I opened for Anthrax; I did a big festival in Europe... I probably only did ten shows in support of the record, but it still sold pretty well. I’m very fortunate. Century Media did a good job with it.” Hatebreed continues to go from strength to strength and the anticipation for ‘The Divinity of Purpose’ is a sign that their ascendancy is far from over. Each new release opens up new territory for the band and Jasta is hopeful that with Divinity... they can take it even further.
“Over the last three years we’ve finally become a more global band. We’ve toured South East Asia and we’ve done a lot of eastern European countries like Lithuania, Serbia, Slovakia, Ukraine. This year we’re going back to Russia; we’re going to Norway. There’s talk about going to South Africa, we might go back to Israel and South America. There’s always new places we haven’t played. We’ve never played Bali; we’ve never played Malaysia. We’ve never been to China. We’ve been to Hong Kong but we’ve never played there. It would be nice to go back to Korea. We played our first show there in 2009 and it was awesome.” Right now, however, he’s dead keen to get to Australia with Kingdom of Sorrow and unleash their sludge onslaught on the crowds at Soundwave.
“It’s gonna be great. I’m excited. It’s a once in a lifetime thing to se e all those bands, on a couple of stages... Sick of it All, Slayer, Madball, Anthrax... It’s gonna be great. And you know what? You don’t know how good you got it. The weather, the girls. I’m ready to eat Vegemite sandwiches. I’m ready to rock.” Words: Brian Giffin