INTERVIEW: Bleed Again (UK)
by Carina Lawrence/ Dark Art conspiracy
Brighton metallers Bleed Again are ones to watch and have had an exciting and busy year so far, so I caught up with vocalist James Dawson to talk about all the major milestones for the band recently, such as signing to American label Sliptrick Records, releasing their debut album ‘Momentum’ (which was mastered by Acle Kahney of TesseracT), recent tours and their massive album launch show with Brutality Will Prevail and Raging Speedhorn and more, as well as looking at what lies ahead for this fresh upcoming modern metal act.
Firstly how did you arrive at the band name Bleed Again?
We wanted something that represented bring back the past, reliving the bad times and learning from them. The funnier answer is after shortlisting a few, we then would check MySpace ( Old Skool ) to see if any of the name had been used. Until this day, I think we are the only band called Bleed Again.
You recently released your debut album ‘Momentum’ through Sliptrick records, how exciting was it to finally release your anticipated debut?
Very, Very exciting. Me and Simon wrote the first song for momentum in August 2015. We had the whole thing finished by April 2016 and filmed the music video for ‘Walk Through The Fire’ that month, so for it to take another 13 months to be released was frustrating, but very exciting once it finally came out in May of this year. So much was going on behind the scenes i.e the label interest, and we had to take our time to make sure we were making the right decisions.
You signed with Sliptrick records earlier this year, what has the experience been like so far?
Really good. What we found with Sliptrick is that they were experienced and focused. We had a pretty strong idea of how we wanted to push the band further and they were open to any discussions about the finer points of the contract so it became and kind of win win for us and them. Everything they said they would do, they have done. We can’t ask for more than that.
What was it like working with Acle Kahney of TesseracT who mixed and mastered the album and how did you end up working with him?
It was great. Our drummer Russell has his own studio which we have always used to record, and he is constantly finding out who is doing what when it comes to Mixing and Mastering. Russell is a big Tesseract fan and was aware the Acle Mixes/Masters most of their records and they always sound incredible. We contacted him and he was happy to take part. He was so open with us and was always happy to help, perhaps beyond his professional responsibility’s. We were quite fussy when it came to the mixes and as soon as he knew what we were after he really went to town on the songs. He even added bits to make the songs on the album fit better together and I really feel his personal stamp is on the record and we couldn’t be happier about the final outcome.
Can you tell us a bit about the main themes and influences that run through the album?
The main theme on this album is to look after yourself. Anything that ever gets in your way of achieving goals in life, needs to be dealt with personally. I’m fortunate to have a wonderful family, a wife and so many friends around me. However when the shit really hits the fan, it’s only you that can get you out of that situation. It’s about believing in yourself, and trusting your decisions. Another thought I always had, and will always have, is that we should use our experiences in life to help others. Whether that will be friends, family, loved ones or your own children. There are some political points on the album also. Everything I have said has been about a specific point in my life, and I’ve tried to turn that into something more accessible for the listener, with an overall positive vibe.
What was the writing and recording process like for your debut?
Stressful. I can’t thank Russell enough for the time and effort he put into this record. He spent 5-6 evenings a week after working full time, making sure this was something we were going to be proud of. Every member of this band stepped up their game compared to previous EP releases. I took a step back on this album compared to our old CD’s. I used to be there for every single part of it and really stick my nose in. With Momentum, we all wrote this album. Rather than always be at the studio telling everyone what I thought sounded better, I just looked forward to hearing rough mixes and listening to everyone’s personal stamp on each song. It gave me so much more inspiration when it came to vocals, to know that I was putting words on top of songs that each member was already really happy with.
You have just finished touring with Death Remains, how was it for you?
Incredible. We have done three tours now and several weekenders, and I feel blessed that all of them have been with such nice people. Death Remains are an incredible band, fact. Their new album Destroy/Rebuild is insane. We have never done nine shows in a row before and it was a massive learning experience for me as far as keeping my voice strong. It took lots of water, lemon tea Vocalzone etc but I got there. I remember a few years ago talking to a friend of mine and asking how he managed to do a 45 minute set and sound as good at the end as he did at the start. He just said practice and care. For a good 18 months I have really been trying to look after my voice and when we finished this tour, i just realized I did nine shows in a row and held out. I got a long way to go but I’m happy with my progress. Some of the shows on this tour were quiet, and some of the shows were surprisingly busy, so all in all it was a fantastic time with great people, and more importantly we got to play our new songs to new people.
On May 6th you had your big album launch show hosted by Mammothfest UK with Brutality Will Prevail, Raging Speedhorn and more, how did it go and what was it like playing alongside them?
It was definitely one to remember. The bands we had on the top of the bill are serious bands, they know their shit. It was a brand new venue to us and I don’t think we felt as comfortable as we have at some other places in Brighton, but when the lights changed and we saw 300 odd people watching us and our local fans going crazy down the front, we felt right at home. The whole day was an amazing atmosphere, so many friendly faces all getting along with each other. There was so many Bleed Again T-shirts and Hoodies I was really quite humbled, and I won’t ever forget that day.
You are heading out on your own headline tour in July, how excited are you for this?
Really excited. It’s nice to know that when you have finished one tour, you have another round the corner. Were lucky enough to have As Flames Rise with us and were sure it’s going to be a fun five days. We’re playing brand new venues to us so that gives us a chance to make some new fans.
You also have some festival appearances coming up, including playing the new and first Amplified Festival UK in July, how does it feel to be playing at the first event and who else are you looking forward to sharing the stage with?
This is a show I have been looking forward to ever since we got booked. Our first outdoor festival on the second stage is amazing. I get to see Puddle Of Mudd for the first time which should be cool. I remember playing their album on repeat whilst trying to complete Driver on PS1.
You are then appearing at Mammothfest UK again in October on the main stage, how does this make you feel to be local favourites and to be regulars at the festival, and what can attending festival goers expect from your set?
Mammothfest is huge in Brighton. If you’re into Metal and live within 20 miles, you’ll likely be there. We had the most incredible response last year. People literally lost their minds during parts of our set and we really felt we had made a name for ourselves in Brighton after that show. To be main stage this year is an absolute privilege. We will have some much more room on stage, and the crowd will have so much more room for partying with us. They can expect epic singalongs, circle pits and walls of death, ya know… all the fun stuff.
Since starting out you have supported the likes of Soil, Darkest Hour and Devil Sold His Soul, what was this like for you and who else would you like to support in the future?
Supporting Soil was likely the highlight of my music career to date. I went to my first gig at The Concorde 2 in Brighton when I was 16 and saw Amen. From that point I knew I had to play that stage, and many years on I got to look out at 300 plus people at 7.15 on a Tuesday night and realise that is where I felt most at home. Meeting these bands and seeing them all back stage is a pleasure. You realise that they are all regular people, and more often than not, very polite and complimentary of your music. It naturally makes you up your game, almost reach your potential. I like the pressure and thrive of the bigger crowds. The goal for supporting would be someone like Killswitch Engage in the UK or anywhere haha. They have influenced me so much and are such normal dudes that I think the entire experience would be incredible.
What else is in store for Bleed Again in 2017?
We have two more music videos on the way, and possibly another tour towards the end of the year. Apart from that its gig gig gig and get this album out to as many people as possible so that when album two comes around we may really be able to take flight towards some amazing experiences.
#darkartconspiracy #metal #music #interview
INTERVIEW: Steve ‘N’ Seagulls (Finland) by Carina Lawrence
So I had the pleasure of interviewing Wild Till Hiltunen (plays accordion, kantele, mandolin, keys, flute) from Finnish band Steve ‘n’ Seagulls, who rose to fame in 2014, through their popular bluegrass cover versions of well-known rock and metal songs they posted on Youtube. Their most popular video of AC/DCs ‘Thunderstruck’ has received over 35 million views. I caught up with him whilst they are on their most ambitious ‘It’s A Long Way To The Top’ UK tour about to play in Exeter (30th March) to find out about how the tour is going so far, about their origins as a band, their successes so far, as well as their future plans…
So you are currently on your ‘It’s A Long Way To The Top’ UK tour, how is it going so far?
It’s been very good. We have enjoyed a lot…I think it’s our fourth time in the UK, so there’s a couple of places we have been to before, so yeah it’s been good.
What has the crowd reactions been like this time around, as you are playing in parts of the UK you have never ventured before?
I think it’s more about the night…we played on Monday night (March 27th 2017) in Stoke-On-Trent and the audience seemed to be very quiet for some songs. But still it’s always about the night, weekends are more crazy. It’s not really about the location.
How does it compare so far with your previous experiences in the UK?
It’s been better this time somehow I don’t know why. Last time I had like lasagne with beans and potatoes, haven’t tried that (laughs) weird combination, but in general it’s like we have got used to touring with the van, so we got the routine, no surprises but not in a bad way. It’s always fun to see more people and see that things are going well and we have got a good label here as well, Spinefarm (records) and we just played at their studio yesterday (29th March 2017) we recorded three songs for the radio and some promotion like now…it’s been good and developing nicely. We have just been running outside here in Exeter and enjoying the beautiful capital.
Can you tell us a bit about the formation of the band?
We started like five maybe six years ago in Jyväskylä, Finland where we all used to study there and we were meant to a country tour for our booking agents and somehow it just felt like it’s want we wanted to do and it started developing, and at some point we changed our singer to Remmel with us now and maybe it’s that time we started to go towards bluegrass, we had like a banjo, mandolin and stuff like that, so it’s been changing a lot from the beginning and I’m not sure where we are going…we are actually talking about the third album already and planning it and trying to find good songs and writing new materials, so let’s see what happens. Pretty excited about that
What inspired you to learn so many instruments and what was this process like?
Just because it’s fun to just try a new instrument even if you don’t know how to play them, because you spend hours and hours with the instrument and maybe get something out of it, it’s just a lot of fun to mix those in our music. The elements like the banjo and double bass and accordion, then like take something out of the books. Last album we had like Finnish traditional instruments like the kantele (five string) and a playing saw, which is basically a saw you used for cutting trees and you play that with the bow, like you play violin or cello, very creepy sound. Also the balalaika was one of the tricky ones.
Why is the band named after actor Steven Seagal? How did this come about?
Yeah it’s sort of a pun, but we like his movies though. That was actually my girlfriend who came up with that idea. We had like a bunch of good names but that just sounded like us. People keep asking who is Steve? There is no Steve in our band, it could be misleading but it just suits us.
Did you ever think when you first formed in 2011 that you would go on to become Youtube sensations?
The first video we did was just to give some material for our booking agent and also we noticed that on Youtube there was sort of a trend going round with live videos, people did like real live videos outside and outdoors where you can hear like background noise like traffic. We kind of took that guide line to take one camera and one mic in one take…so we put it on Youtube and suddenly something happened with the metal online magazines, they just started writing about us and it spread out, that was with ‘The Trooper’ by Iron Maiden that video and after that we did ‘Thunderstruck’ (AC/DC) and we expected it would spread quite well, but five million views in a couple of weeks was way more than we expected. We were really like what the hell?! After that like two months after the ‘Thunderstruck’ release we got a recording label contract and everything and then it’s been like we have been touring mostly abroad, so we have been very happy with the Youtube videos.
What has it been like to achieve such success with mass video viewings, two acclaimed albums under your belt and being able to tour around the world?
Now it seems like we are after a break (laughs) and we are going to have a break in May and then we will start doing the festivals in June, July and August in Europe mostly, but it’s exciting travelling all over the country. I think we did maybe twenty five countries last year, so a lot of airports, a lot of packing stuff, not complaining! May is also time to go towards the third album and planning that, so we are not entirely having a vacation.
What made you decide as a band to play bluegrass cover versions of some of the biggest rock and metal songs going?
We started with more like spaghetti western like movie music influenced…I don’t know we just tried different instruments, like I used to play guitar and had been for many years and at some point I just tried banjo, and it kind of sounded funny and good. But there was no particular plan, it just happened, we don’t plan that much.
What is your favourite song you have covered so far and why?
That is tough. I think from the last album we did Gary Moore’s ‘Over The Hills And Far Away’ that had a kind of black metal vibe, I liked that. We don’t play that a lot live for some reason, I don’t know if it’s to do with the lyrics but still it’s so fun to play.
How do you decide what songs you are going to cover?
For the third album we have a bunch of stuff. We make a list and come up with the idea of arrangement or some melody that could be played with accordion or banjo and how would it sound. So we make a list and then we sit down and start playing and kind of stay open minded and abandon songs that aren’t good enough to make it on the record…we sit all together and decide what to keep.
Have you started to work on any new material yet? If so, can you give us any insights into this?
I think it’s very early to say…to reveal anything but I would say we are looking forward to get some new originals, but it’s depending on our producer and everything how it comes out. There will be some heavy metal classics, but we can also try something else…what it is I don’t know (laughs).
What else do Steve ‘N’ Seagulls have planned for the rest of 2017?
We just finished our third US tour in February and we are waiting for the numbers and everything and would like to go back in September after the festivals, but that is not set yet. What is sure, is that we are going to Europe in October, November and December, so a lot of touring and rehearsals for the next album, so it’s going to be a very busy year.
Steve ‘n’ Seagulls are coming to the end of their UK tour but have two dates left:
31 MAR – Birmingham, O2 Academy 2 (Current)
01 APR – London, Tufnell Park Dome (Current)
So if you are in the area make sure to head down and catch the band in action!
Full tour listing:
IT’S A LONG WAY TO THE TOP TOUR 2017
24 MAR – Nottingham, Rescue Rooms
25 MAR – Leeds, Brudenell Social Club
26 MAR – Newcastle, Think Tank?
27 MAR – Stoke, Sugarmill
28 MAR – Bristol, Fleece
30 MAR – Exeter, Phoenix
31 MAR – Birmingham, O2 Academy 2 (Current)
01 APR – London, Tufnell Park Dome (Current)
#darkartconspiracy #interview #spinefarm #finland
INTERVIEW: Emerald (Switzerland) – Dark Art Conspiracy
Speaking for Emerald: Al Spicher (drums)
Interview by Carina Lawrence / Dark Art Conspiracy
Can you tell us about how you came up with the name Emerald?
Al: The name is taken from the Thin Lizzy classic “Emerald”. We still think it’s a cool name, even though there are some other bands acting under the same name. If you choose a name this short and catchy, there’s always a big chance that it is already taken. But back in 1995 you couldn’t just google a name and check if it was still available. So we just went with it!
You have been going for more than two decades now, how would you say your sound has evolved in that time?
Al: I guess it evolved just the way any band’s sound is supposed to. The first songs were pretty simple and the abilities of each member were rather limited. Over the years the songwriting became more mature and everyone got more experienced.
Each line-up change also brought some new influences to the mix, which led to more diversity in our sound. We certainly got heavier and more open minded over the years but we always stayed true to our roots!
Following on from that, how much has the metal music scene changed, especially in your home country Switzerland since your formation?
Al: The metal scene in Switzerland definitely grew stronger within the last years. Back in the mid 90s classic heavy metal was completely shut out. In our region, Emerald was pretty much the only band playing this kind of sound. In the beginning it was rather hard to find good gigs to play since the demand for this kind of music was rather small. But nowadays there is a good and healthy underground metal scene growing here in Switzerland with lots of cool bands playing all different kinds of metal and lots of small new metal festivals popping up each year.
So you are releasing your seventh album, ‘Reckoning Day’ on the 24th March, what can you tell us about this new release?
Al: For us, “Reckoning Day” marks some kind of turning point since it is the first album with a whole new line-up and the first sign of life after 5 years of silence. Some might even call it a comeback album because no one heard or saw anything of us within the last years and considered us dead. It was indeed very quiet after the departure of former singer Thomas L. Winkler, but we’ve always been active, writing songs and planning our return to the surface… plotting our day of reckoning, so to speak!
What was the writing and recording process like for the album?
Al: The writing process was very unusual since it was the first time that we had to write everything without having a singer in the band. We just wrote and recorded some instrumental demo songs and added some of our own demo-vocals while we were searching for a new singer.
In 2014, American singer George Call (Aska, ex-Omen) joined our band and agreed to sing on all songs on “Reckoning Day”. So we went to the Little Creek Studio here in Switzerland where we recorded all songs in instrumental versions under the supervision of producer V.O. Pulver (Gurd, Poltergeist, Destruction…). Then we sent the tracks to Texas where George was supposed to record his vocals. Since George was very busy with some other projects, it took him more than a year to finally start working on our songs. In the meantime, as we grew more and more impatient, we started looking for a new singer here in Switzerland and finally found the great voice of Mace Mitchell, who was very eager to finish the vocals on our record and become a permanent member of Emerald.
George Call still delivered the vocals for 2 songs that appear on “Reckoning Day” as well as a third song which will be used as a bonus track on the limited edition version.
As you can see, the whole process was pretty tedious. It never took us five years to put out a new record before. But now it’s finally here and we are really happy with it!
How would you say it compares to the rest of your back catalogue?
Al: Well, the new album is always the best, haha! No, of course that’s always a matter of opinion! But we certainly think it is a step forward and the logical continuation of the path we chose on the previous albums. It features a much broader range of musical influences and some excellent vocal work from Mace Mitchell and George Call.
One thing that’s unique on this record is the 7 track mini-concept “The Burgundian Wars” on the second half of the album. It is based on the novel “Der Löwe von Burgund” from our keyboarder Thomas Vaucher and tells the story of the conflict between Charles the Bold and the Swiss confederates.
Oh… and the new album has definitely the best sound we ever had, thanks to the great production of V.O. Pulver!
As well as a new album you have a new band line-up, how are things going so far and how would you say the dynamics have changed following this?
Al: You could say that Emerald 2017 is a whole new band! From the very first line-up only band founder Michael Vaucher (guitars) and his brother Thomas Vaucher (keyboards) are left. I consider myself as one of the “old guys” as well since I’ve been playing the part of Emerald’s drummer for already 10 years now. The rest of the bandmembers all joined the band within the last four years: Julien Menth (guitars) in 2013, Vania Truttmann (bass) in 2014 and Mace Mitchell (vocals) in 2016. All three of them brought a lot of freshness and enthusiasm into the band, which was exactly what the rest of us needed.
I think I can speak for everyone in the band when I say that we now have the greatest line-up ever! The dynamics in Emerald have never been this powerful before and it has never been this much fun to play in this band. I believe that, in this constellation, we have a great future ahead of us!
Collectively what are your main musical influences?
Al: Well, there’s one band we can all agree upon: Iron Maiden! Apart from that, everyone in the band has his/her own personal favourites. That leads to a wide range of influences that includes bands from the hard rock, punk, heavy, power, prog, thrash, symphonic and even modern metal sector.
How is it to be signed with Pure Steel Records?
Al: It’s a cool underground label that stands 100% behind everything we do. For them, heavy metal is not just business but a lifestyle. We’ve been part of the Pure Steel family for more than 10 years now and are very happy for everything they have done for us so far. They never treated us like just another number in their roster. They are big fans of every band they sign.
Are there any plans for a tour in support of the new album?
Al: We certainly want to do another tour, yes, but so far we don’t have any specific plans.
What else has Emerald got planned for the year?
Al: We already have some great gigs confirmed and hope to play some festivals across Europe this year. Apart from that we are already working on our next album and want to hit the studio again as soon as possible.
Is there anything else you would like to share with us?
Al: First of all, I’d like to thank you, Carina, for your interest in Emerald and the opportunity to share my thoughts with you! I’d also like to thank all Emerald fans worldwide for their loyalty and endless support! You rock!!!
And I promise it won’t take another five years to release our next album. We are back, stronger than ever and ready for the next 20 years of Emerald!
Let’s raise our horns up high!!!
Thanks for your time!
Dark Art Conspiracy
1. Only The Reaper Wins
2. Black Pyramid
3. Evolution In Reverse
4. Horns Up
5. Beyond Forever
6. Through The Storm
7. Ridden By Fear
8. Mist Of The Past
9. Trees Full Of Tears
10. Lament Of The Fallen
11. Reckoning Day
12. Reign Of Steel
13. Signum Die
14. Fading History
15. End Of The World (Bonustrack)
Total Playing Time:: 62:08
Total Playing Time with Bonustrack: 67:15 min
vocals – Mace Mitchell
guitars – Michael Vaucher
guitars – Julien Menth
bass – Vania Truttmann
drums – Alex Spicher
keys – Thomas Vaucher
vocals – George Call – “Evolution In Reverse”, “Through The Storm”
guitar solo – Slädu – “Horns Up”
backing vocals – Alexx Suter – “Beyond Forever”
#darkartconspiracy #metal #interview
INTERVIEW: Thrash Bombz (Italy)
Interview with (Giuseppe “UR” Peri: rhythm guitar) by Carina Lawrence
Italian metallers Thrash Bombz, following their successful debut 2014 “Mission
Of Blood” are back to unleash their second full length album, “Master Of The
Dead” on the 3rd March 2017 via Iron Shield Records. Find out what to expect
from the upcoming release along with the bands plans for the rest of year from
rhythm guitarist of Thrash Bombz, Giuseppe “UR” Peri…
Can you tell us how Thrash Bombz came to be in 2007? Thrash Bombz was born in December 2007 from the ashes of Necrosis (death/thrash
band from AG), to play Thrash Metal without compromises. The band has recorded
the demotape “Sicilian Way of Thrash!!” in 2012 and in the first days of 2013 the
new EP “Mission of Blood” 5 tracks of Pure Thrash, released on limited “green” tape
for Tridroid Records in October 2013. In January 2014 Iron Shield Records has
released in CD, our first full length “Mission of Blood” with 12 tracks and in
September the new EP “Dawn”. “Master of the Dead” our second full length will be
out the 03/03/2017 for Iron Shield Records!!! http://www.ironshieldrecords.de/
How did you arrive at the name Thrash Bombz? It’s simple and straight in your face with THRASH attitude…
How would you describe your sound?
Evil Speed Thrash Metal.
You recorded your first demotape “Sicilian Way of Thrash’ back in 2012,
how would you say your sound has progressed since the beginning days of
The progression of the sound it’s evident, in the first days we were more influenced
by American death metal of ’90/’91, now our sound it’s a commingling of the great
heavy metal of the ’80s with more speed metal tendencies.
How happy were you with the sound and response to your first full length
2014 album “Mission of Blood”?
Yeah, we had great responses with our first full length “Mission of Blood”, from the
audience in our live show and with the media (radios, ‘zine, etc…).
How do you think your sound has evolved since then?
In the right way, our music grows with us. Now we’re very pride of the new album
“Master of the Dead”, 10 new songs of evil speed metal. More aggressive but with a
touch of melody.
What can you tell us about your second upcoming new album “Master Of The
Dead” which is unleashed on March 3rd this year?
We hope that the new album let us the possibility to reach new fans to make more
tours with the band. We need your support for spreading the disease!!!
Album artwork for “Master Of The Dead”
What was the recording and song writing process like for the new album?
We start with guitar riffs and after this process we make the lyrics.
What were the main influences behind the album?
All the good music, ’80 heavy metal (metal blade era and NWOBHM) thrash fuckin’
metal & and a couple of speed freaks to play this!!!
Have you got any tours or festivals scheduled?
We trying to arrange a Europe tour after this summer between the first days of
What other plans have you got lined up for 2017?
Play in every fuckin’ country of the world!! I hope…. ahahahahah!
1. Condemned To Kill Again
2. Ritual Violence
3. Master Of The Dead
4. Curse Of The Priest
5. Black Steel
6. Taken By Force
7. Evil Witches
8. Evoking The Ghost
9. The Avenger
10. Call Of Death
#darkartconspiracy #metal #interview