Prior to their darkly sprawling set on the New Blood Stage, we spoke to this year’s NI winners of Metal 2 the Masses about the band’s past, future, and why they were drawn to the music they play.
►Chordblossom: Congratulations on winning the contest! You were early favourites but it was a very tight competition, wasn’t it?
Stuart (bassist): it really was! The first round was a very hard round to get through. All the rounds were hard, though; there were no bad bands this year.
►CB: Are you looking forward to playing later? It must be a pretty spectacular feeling to know you’re playing at Bloodstock!
Andy (vocalist/guitarist): Yes! We’re very excited.
►CB: For people that maybe don’t know that much about you, can you tell us a bit about the band?
Stuart: Well, we’re a slow death metal band, with elements of doom in there as well. We’ve been going for about two years now. We’re recording a new album now which should be out by the end of the year, and we’ve got quite a lot of live stuff coming up as well: we’ve a few dates in Belfast booked, and we’re playing Siege of Limerick again as well this year – we’re looking forward to that, it’s fantastic. We played it last year and we’re delighted to be asked back, it’s a really great event, as you know.
►CB: So what led you to play that specific type of music?
Stuart: It kind of just evolved that way! We knew when we started that we wanted to play slow death metal. Andy writes most of the stuff – well, all of the songs really – and that’s what he had wanted to do for years, so when we got together it just kind of evolved naturally that way.
Andy: When we got together, Stuart said “do you want to start a death metal band, would you play guitar in a death metal band?” and I said “yeah, that sounds like it would be good craic”. So I joined and we started writing a few bits and pieces, purely death metal. Then after awhile I started thinking “this could be really good if we just did something…better” (laughs) so I just gravitated towards writing a certain type of music – I’m not really capable of anything else! So that’s how the slow doom/death happened; Stuart’s playing lends itself to it, and Gary is the same. The three of us are very in to the same vibe of what we like and what we want to do.
►CB: So that’s the kind of music that you’re in to anyway?
Andy: Oh absolutely! I’m a massive slow doom/death metal fan, and Gary and Stuart are the same. So it was the only way it was going to go, to be honest.
►CB: What are your ambitions for the band?
Andy: Global domination, obviously! And then kill ourselves (laughs).
Gary (drummer): play loads of cool places (Andy and Stuart agree). A few good releases; some cool merchandise.
Andy: That’s it basically: record lots of music and play as many cool places as possible. The likes of this (gestures around the site) is just a huge notch on the post.
►CB: A big tick on the bucket list?
Andy: Absolutely! It’s f**king brilliant.
Stuart: If we could do this four times a year I’d die happy.
►CB: Separately, you guys have been on the local scene quite awhile. Is it still as enjoyable now as when you first started?
Stuart: I think it’s more enjoyable. I think it’s much easier to get your music and your band out there. When we all started in the early Nineties there was no internet to speak of to spread your music or your image as freely as you can now. And I enjoy that: we want people to listen to our music, we want people to hear it. And for me, that’s the enjoyable side of it: to put your music out there and hope people like it and keep track of what we’re doing.
Andy: You couldn’t do it if you didn’t enjoy it. For want of a better term, it’s just too f**king difficult to be in a band if you don’t. For the three of us, the amount of time and effort that goes into it, as any musician will tell you, is just extortionate, you know? So you couldn’t do it if you didn’t get something out of it. You just wouldn’t. So for us, it is very enjoyable.
►CB: You still have that enthusiasm for every live show?
Andy: Oh absolutely! There’s only three of us in the band and we’re very reactive to each other. So when someone’s enthusiastic, you sort of all feed off it.
Gary: “I’m going to build this drum kit out of stickle bricks and it’s going to sound great!” (laughs).
Andy: It’s getting the right people, ultimately: Stuart and I have been in bands and you’re out the front, pushing them. It’s very difficult getting people together that all want to do the same thing; that’s a massive part of being in a band.
Stuart: It’s probably just as well there’s only the three of us! (laughs).
►CB: Is there anybody you’re looking forward to seeing this weekend?
Stuart: I think Twisted Sister is the one we’re all dying to see. I’ve been into them since the Eighties and I’ve never had the chance to see them. And a few of the heavier ones: Behemoth, Satyricon; hopefully I’ll get to see both of them. Foetal Juice…
Andy: We’re really looking forward to seeing the bands we know, like Foetal Juice – we’ve toured with them, so to see them playing such a huge stage is just like “this actually happens!”. And of course Rabid Bitch of the North, Zlatanera, Two Tales of Woe, Ten Ton Slug…we were sorry to miss Psykosis last night but we couldn’t get over in time. It’s just amazing watching bands that are at our level doing these huge things you know? It’s like a reality check – maybe we’re famous and we just don’t know it! (laughs).
►CB: What’s next for you guys?
Stuart: As I touched on earlier: the album. It’s written, pre-production is done, and when we get back we’re going to sit down and record it. So the plan is to get that recorded and out by the end of this year or early next year. And of course we want to play live, it’s what we love doing. Siege of Limerick is a big one for us. So that’s it: keep on playing, get the album out…
Andy: Play as much as we can when we can. We are amateur in terms of how much time we can give – jobs and sh*t like that. Being in a band these days requires a lot of money, and that’s the long and short of it. You can’t be unemployed and be in a band without massive financial support from somewhere. Grindscene Records have been very good to us with what they do, but ultimately the whole thing is self financed. So: work, save some money, do cool stuff whenever we can.
►CB: Well, there’s nothing left to say but enjoy the rest of the festival! Are you staying for the entire weekend?
Andy: Oh absolutely! They give us a ticket for the whole weekend so most definitely.