April 20, 2012

This is MY Metal Life - Adrien Begrand




ADRIEN BEGRAND

Instead of writing my own spiel about Adrien Begrand, I have decided to copy and paste the unmerciful and honest words from Invisible Oranges
"Adrien Begrand’s writing at PopMatters was what made me give writing a go. His writing about metal was as accessible and informed as any other writing about music I’d seen. What I learned from Begrand was the importance of research. Know your shit before you write about it!"
Do tell us – how did you get into music journalism?

Ready for a long story?

It’s weird, writing about music was always in my blood, the seed planted when I first discovered how brilliant and hilarious John Lennon’s lyrics to “I Am the Walrus” were on my Mom’s old Magical Mystery Tour LP when I was about nine years old. After I became obsessed with metal in early 1984 at the rather late age of 13, while friends were picking up instruments and starting bands I was having more fun writing essays about W.A.S.P. and the PMRC in English class, reading record reviews in mags like Circus, Metallion, and, yes, Rolling Stone, and basically trying to convince people why they should own this record instead of that. But being an introverted, bullied kid in some absolutely hellish, ostracizing schools, I had zero confidence in the end, and didn’t even consider music journalism a possibility. I was sapped of ambition.

As the years went on I became interested in a much wider range of music outside of the metal realm – the US and UK indie scenes from 1990 to 1997 had an enormous impact on me - and the Internet in the mid-‘90s re-ignited my interest in music criticism and journalism. This might seem goofy, but before I started my own blog in January 2001, what really got me going in the late-‘90s was writing the odd customer review at Amazon.com. People would email me telling me how they saw what I’d written, bought an album, and wound up agreeing, which was awfully nice, so I just kept at it, whether it was emailing friends about stuff, posting on music newsgroups, or eventually my blog. Finally in late 2001 I saw PopMatters was looking for new writers, and I offhandedly applied. I can’t even remember what I said in the email. Miraculously they took me on, and I was having a great time churning out review after review after review, covering all sorts of genres.

Most fun, though, were the metal albums I covered. Back then nearly all indie metal labels didn’t even think of submitting CDs for review, they just assumed the mainstream webzines weren’t at all interested. There was so much great metal music going unnoticed, and in 2004 I finally suggested to my editor that I start approaching labels myself. Because PopMatters likes to cover all facets of popular culture, I immediately got the go-ahead, and starting with Nuclear Blast, Relapse, Prosthetic, Century Media, and Roadrunner, I got them to send me stuff, and my writing focus started to shift from all genres to mostly metal. By 2005 I was talking to lots of other labels and PR people, saying, “Send me anything!” That year we decided at PopMatters that I start a monthly column devoted exclusively to metal, something no widely-read, non-metal webzine was doing at the time (Stylus and Pitchfork would start their own metal columns not long after). I named it Blood & Thunder after the Mastodon song (I’m notoriously lousy with titles), and proceeded to churn out 60-odd 2000+-word columns over the course of six years or so.

That was the big turning point, as Decibel magazine would come a-knocking in late 2005, having seen my PopMatters writing, and I’ve been with them ever since. Metal Edge would ask me to join in 2007, and it was great fun helping rebuild the magazine for a year and a half before it was sadly shut down by its parent company in 2009. With four major magazines folding in just a few months – Metal Edge, Metal Maniacs, Brave Words & Bloody Knuckles, Unrestrained! – 2009 was a rough year for metal writers, but a group of us Canadian scribes got together to start Hellbound.ca, and in 2010 Sick Sounds and Terrorizer asked me to contribute. Then last year I was asked to succeed my friend and peer Phil Freeman over at MSN’s Headbang blog, which has been such a blast. So it took a while, and I’m a quintessential late bloomer, but ten years later I can say I have a pretty cool little career going.

You have been writing (professionally) about metal for ten years – what keeps you going?

One harsh lesson I learned pretty darn quickly was that music writers earn peanuts. If you want to make any sort of money doing this you have to really, really keep at it, pitching freelance stories and reviews. Thankfully I don’t have any kids; I have no idea how my peers with kids handle all the work! The interesting thing about working for MSN is that while I’m paid a monthly wage, more than any combination of writing gigs ever got me, the real challenge is writing good content five to eight times per week. It’s really easy to get burned out, but I’ve learned to make a few adjustments, such as working strictly nine to five rather than all hours of the day and night. Forcing myself to stay away from the computer at night has paid off nicely, I’m able to handle the grind a lot better. Living healthily is something that’s easy to forget when you’re doing freelance work.

The bottom line, though, what drives it all is that I’m still as interested in good new music as I was ten years ago, 27 years ago. Sure, now more than ever I have to listen to a lot of mediocre music, but every so often I’ll get a great new CD in the mail or a digital promo in my email, or a new band will bowl me over, and that excitement will be back just as always. If you don’t have any passion for the music, then you have no business writing about it. I’m glad to say that I’m as passionate for metal music now at 41 as I was when I was 13 or 14.

Was there a time when you thought that maybe you should get a ‘real’ job?

Of course. But writing is the only thing I do, it’s the one thing I know I’m decent at, and I can’t imagine myself doing anything else.

When you are not contributing to Decibel, Terrorizer, MSN.com and many more – what do you do with your time?

When you’re this busy you don’t really have a life. It’s very insular, and my life pretty much revolves around music. Of course I have other interests, I’m as big a hockey fan as you’ll ever meet, my 20-year obsession with the Beat Generation writers has resulted in quite a massive collection of books and multi-media, I love good films, from the French New Wave to the master Krzyztof Kieslowski. There’s traveling of course. And the little things, like hanging out with my niece, those are the best.

You were one of the lucky few who got to be aboard 70,000 Tons of Metal as well as toured with various bands – what can you tell us about those experiences?

Living in the middle of Western Canada I’m not privy to as many cool metal shows as my buds in Toronto or New York are, so whenever I do get a chance to experience a festival or a big show it’s something I savour. 70,000 Tons was crazy; not only were there 42 bands on a cruise ship (including older bands I love whom I’d never seen like Voivod, Raven, and Saxon), but the fact that it’s so self-contained and so well run by the ship’s crew made it perfectly suited for me. Let’s face it, at 41 I have no desire to sleep in a tent at Wacken for four days. On this cruise, you had a bed just a 60 second walk from any of the venues, there was all the free food and (non-alcoholic) drink you wanted, you’re mingling with bands, most of whom are super-nice, and it was all on a freakin’ boat in the middle of the gorgeous Caribbean Sea.

Back in 2008 Phil Freeman at Metal Edge had a crazy idea. Why not send me on the buses with Paganfest and do an old-school tour report traveling from city to city? So for a week I hit the road with Ensiferum, Turisas, Tyr, and Eluveitie, across Eastern Canada and the Northeast United States. I was a little wary at first, but everyone was so accommodating, especially the guys in Tyr, whom I got along with splendidly. Sure, there were hijinks, like losing a coked-out guitarist in Montreal and then trying to get across the US border with the same coked-out guitarist, but what really hit me hard was the down time. You’re stuck in an awful neighbourhood in a city with nothing to do but wait for the show to start. The shows and afterward are awesome, visiting with fans and hanging out with the bands afterwards (man, do Finns ever drink), but in between there’s a whole lot of nothing. And it gets worse when it’s pouring rain outside, you’re stuck on a crowded bus all day. If there’s one thing I got out of that trip is a deep admiration for those road dogs, especially the merch slingers and the crew, who grind it out on the road during those long tours. It’s just not the life for me…one week was more than enough!

Iron Maiden are British Demi-Gods that you nabbed a sit-down interview with. Are they very private and reserved or have we got the wrong idea about them?

Landing this assignment was the big one for me. After this, it’s all downhill. Iron Maiden remains my favourite band of all time, and to get the chance to sit down and talk individually with four of the six members was mind-boggling. I was in Dallas with about 20 other members of the global metal press, so the guys in the band were fully prepared for the barrage of interviews. They’re total pros, they were there to answer questions, they knew that. But it was fun dealing with the different personalities. Dave Murray is very friendly, always with a smile on his face. Adrian Smith, my favourite songwriter in the band, is more reserved, very laid back and chooses his words carefully (what broke the ice for us was our first meeting: “Adrien, meet Adrian”). Bruce Dickinson was awesome, exactly how you’d think he’d be, extremely witty, you ask him a question and it’ll be ten minutes before you get a chance to ask another. I had so much fun talking to him. Steve Harris was so imposing, he’s very straight-faced, he’s a reserved guy, but after the requisite questions about the new record we got onto more fun topics and turned out to be an absolute pleasure. I didn’t interview Janick, nor Nicko, but saw plenty of them and those two are so gregarious. You know when Nicko’s in a room, you hear him from miles away.

Lars Ulrich once said, “Once in a while the heavy metal community needs a good fucking kick up its arse, because it can get a little predictable.” As a metal music critic, what is your take on that?

Yes. Emphatically yes. Like any metal fan I adore certain bands that refuse to change.  It’s like comfort food, that familiarity when you put on a new Motörhead or 3 Inches of Blood album is a wonderful thing. But at the same time, going back to when I was listening to Metallica, Voivod, and Queensrÿche back in the 1980s I’ve always craved new metal music that dares to try new things. Metal’s a very conservative form of music at heart – just look at the backlash Liturgy has gotten over the past couple years just because they’re trying to do something a little different - but I’m a bleeding heart liberal, so much of the time it’s the forward thinkers out there who remind me most often how even more exciting metal can be than just complacently adhering to a formula. Even though Lulu was arguably one of the most misguided experiments since Celtic Frost’s Cold Lake, it’s admirable that Ulrich wanted to try something like that. His heart’s in the right place, but his head clearly isn’t.

I know its borderline April but do you have any albums picked out for the ‘must have’ of the year? (Now it is April)

I’ve already heard dozens upon dozens of albums this year of course, and I always have to keep a running tab of my favourite albums at the moment. If I had to pick ten, they’d be (in alphabetical order):

Accept, Stalingrad
Alcest, Les Voyages De L'Âme
Christian Mistress, Possession
Dawnbringer, Into the Lair of the Sun God
Horisont, Second Assault
Mares of Thrace, The Pilgrimage
Meshuggah, Koloss
Pallbearer, Sorrow and Extinction
Torche, Harmonicraft
Witch Mountain, Cauldron of the Wild

You are a Goldfrapp fan boy – what can you tell us that we don’t already know about them?

Ha! I am utterly shameless when it comes to Goldfrapp. I can’t help it. Along with Anneke Van Giersbergen Alison Goldfrapp is my favourite singer out there. She and Will Gregory have a great partnership going, and every record they create has its own unique identity. You never know which direction they’re going to head in next.

I’ll readily admit to having a particular weakness these days for women singer-songwriters with a predilection toward the esoteric. Basically if Kate Bush is an influence, my ears will perk up. Or of it’s just Kate Bush (50 Words For Snow is wonderful). I’m awful. Canada’s really starting to churn out a lot of such talent as of late…Austra was one of my 2011 faves, and now this year I can’t stop listening to Grimes and Yamantaka//Sonic Titan.

Because I listen to so much metal music I don’t have nearly as much time to devote to all other genres as I’d like to, but being a Polaris Music Prize juror since 2006 (Canada’s version of the Mercury Prize) I do make every effort to stay current. As much as I love metal, it’s only a fraction of my musical interests. I need that variety, especially when casually listening to shuffled tracks on the iPod. Just now my iTunes went from Firewind to Florence + the Machine. I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Notice how I evaded the original question? 

Are there any last words that you would like to add?

Only thanks so much for asking to be interviewed! I’ve ben reading your site for the past few months, and it’s great to see such a smart metal writer doing good work promoting the scene in a country a lot of us don’t consider a real metal superpower. Keep it up, Lav!

Thank YOU, Adrien! 



April 18, 2012

South Africa Metal: STRIDENT




STRIDENT
(6 Brothers who love driving melodic metal and good times)


Thank you for taking some time out to do an interview with Air Guitar! Melodic rock is back on the agenda. Why now?

Well, in our minds it’s always been there, but it’s always been in the fabled lands across the sea! The first thing we were struck by when we started gigging was the incredible hunger among the metal fans here for precisely what we were offering: melodic, epic metal. Internationally, too, the power metal genre has gone through many permutations, and there’s a whole new audience waking up to it now. So the stars have aligned, one might say.

For our readers abroad; could you elaborate on the ‘epic’ Strident?

It’s a band of 6 brothers who love nothing more than driving, melodic metal and having a good time. Our shows are theatrical, unashamedly bombastic and frequently tongue-in-cheek; a celebration of the metal brotherhood and all the things that it entails. We hoist broad swords, knight our most loyal fans onstage and just embrace the sheer power of heavy metal.

You’ve said in the past: “Today, Strident stands as South Africa’s defender of true steel, willing to live and die for their brand of heavy metal, in all its cheesy glory.” Why the ‘cheesy glory’?

There has always been an element of cheesiness about power metal, an element of self-indulgent fun that separates it from more thematically ‘serious’ metal genres. It’s a release; there’s no pretence, no having to be ‘brutal’, no fear of being caught smiling. Music is about expressing yourself and having a great time and this is a philosophy that power metal embraces fully. So we take the music seriously, but never ourselves. As for glory, power metal should make you feel like you’re on top of a mountain slaying a dragon; it’s every fantasy epic in musical form. And besides, who doesn’t like to sing about pirates, legendary warriors and power metal from space?

Strident has played a mass amount of gigs – which gig was the most chaotic?

RAMfest 2010 really stands out. People got punched in the face, underwear was thrown on stage. German girls, too. It was quite an experience. Rock The River this last new year’s was also quite a hit – we had random fellows and ladies jump on stage, sing our songs and just plain rock the fuck out. Even the death metal fans had fun. But overall nothing touches the absolute madness of the gigs we used to play in the cramped confines of Eye of Horus - complete insanity which we look back on with nostalgia.
The quality of your songs is amazing on Oath – where did the tracks get recorded and mastered?

Why thank you! They were recorded and mastered at our good friend Jo Ellis’ BlooRoom studio in Ladysmith. Jo has really helped us progress as a band and has tons of knowledge. It was his first foray into power metal (the amount of sound engineers in South Africa who know power metal is painfully small) and our first proper studio recording, so we’re really proud of the result. That said, our new material and initial recordings with Jo for the second album are sounding so good it hurts – people will really be blown away. Better songs, a real choir, vast orchestral arrangements and a far more modern sound - we cannot wait to unleash this beast!

Let’s talk about some of the tracks from the album Oath. What was the idea behind “Metal or Death”?

Metal Or Death is a live favourite, an assertion that metal is our life, and that we’d rather die than live without it. Its opening lines - the opening lines of the album - neatly sum up our mission statement: “Wrought from the fires of Hell, we rise / The thunder sounding your demise / There’ll be no fucking compromise.” That about says it all. We also like the fact that it’s not the typical power metal opener - it’s a thrashy monster with a wicked grin on its face. The vocal delivery is inspired by the old school blues Deon likes - go listen to Bo Diddley’s “I’m a Man” to see what we mean - which we feel gives it a real visceral ferocity. And what is could be more life-affirming than shouting “METAL OR DEATH!” at the top of your lungs?

And the much slower track “Homeward”?

Homeward is our grand ballad, a warrior’s solemn hymn as his spirit is guided to its rightful resting place. It’s a beautiful track and really adds variety to our live show.

What is Strident planning for 2012? Will there be any tours or maybe a new release?

We are working on our second release, yes, which is partly why we have been so quiet on the gigging front. That, and our drummer Chris needing work done on his wrist. He should have had the procedure done late last year, but he refused to let down the fans at Rock the River and played through the pain. He’s nearing the end of his recovery period, though, and all seems well. We have some shows and recording sessions set up for May and June, and the second half of the year we are planning some monumental tours – it’s time we get the word of glory up north!

How would Strident describe their fans?

Loyal, true, honest and in possession of impeccable taste in music. Their level of dedication really amazes and inspires us. They are the reason we make music. It should be the reason why anyone makes music, really. All the beautiful artworks found in our album booklet were gifts from a fan - Christopher Michael Beukes - and the album cover was done for free by an American fan named Lew Lashmit

Can the band spill some thoughts about the Cape Town metal scene, is the scene growing or falling into a loop of same band – different day?

It really is growing; unfortunately the infrastructure for it isn’t quite at the same pace. A lot of venues are closing and losing their music licenses, which is a great shame, but that simply means we have to step up our game and create new opportunities for ourselves. We see too many amazing artists playing to crowds of 8 or 9 people at a time, where they would be making a killing in a country where metal is a commercially viable genre.
Musically, there is a definite glut of bands playing certain sub-genres, and the handful of truly masterful bands in those styles are in danger of being lost in the throng. However, on the plus side, the last three years have also seen the emergence of a number of excellent thrash, progressive, black and death metal bands, which is heartening.
Overall, though, it’s a tight-knit scene which has proven time and again to be strong in spirit, if not in numbers.

Does Strident have any last words?

Never give up on metal, play it loud and if you can’t stand the heat, strap a furnace door to your face. Keep an eye on our Facebook page for details about upcoming gigs and such! Thank you for the interview Lav - From Chaos to Glory!


Strident has an event coming up on the 5 May 2012 and 14 May 2012! Click [Here] for details and for 30 April at Zula Bar Click [Here] for details! If you are in South Africa, go check ‘em out and thank me later!

If you cannot make it to the event, check Strident out on their Official page and Facebook!

Metal horns and thanks to the Lads of Strident for the interview!



April 07, 2012

South Africa Metal: RIGORMORTEM




RIGORMORTEM
(True Black Metal/ Grotesque Beautiful/ Aggression)

Thank you for agreeing to do an interview with Air Guitar! Do you think some people might have the wrong idea about Black Metal?

Indeed, especially since commercial black metal has grown.
It has become a disgusting money maker, stealing the true essence of what black metal should be.  Black Metal seems to be more of a trend nowadays – a complete eyesore to the true supporters of the genre. The true art behind the black flame that is Black Metal has been smothered by Trend.

Let’s talk about the grotesque beautiful black metal of Rigormortem – the band is quite reminiscent of early Dimmu Borgir – has that influence shaped the band?




Where older Rigormortem held keyboard pieces yes, but  most would notice that they have been written out of the newer compositions. Symphonic Black Metal is an idea we scrapped early in our minds after forming the band. It is a general misconception that Rigormortem is attempting elite black metal. We aren’t. In fact, We’re heading more into Black Death now. Something We feel very strong about.

You’re down to two original. How many band members can you go down to before it stops being Rigormortem?

Where some have left, others have filled the void. Moulding the beast if you will… As long as there is an original member, the band will continue, and still be Rigormortem.
The two Original members have always been in Rigormortem, and still are.

The band just played at Summerfest 2012: the pictures look amazing and the corpse paint still haunts, how was the gig?

Was a good return after many years. A tribute to the end of an era for Rigormortem before moving on to greater things. Many advances for the band’s sound lies ahead. Rebirth, if you will.

Let’s talk about The Fall of God’s Empire – what was the concept behind the release?

It’s been put down very blatantly – The title absolutely speaks for itself. Simply put, it depicts our disregard for Any and All religion. A very strong, common ground, for all the members of Rigormortem. We find ourselves overcome with aggression even at the thought of Religion, so why not use our music as an outlet. 

There is a great tendency of Rigormortem to use symphonic elements – if budget was no object – would the band use more classical instruments?

As mentioned, we feel it would not fit into the path we have ahead. It’s something We put behind us many years ago. We were young, and had no idea of what direction we wanted Rigormortem to head towards. We wrote a few tracks hoping it would eventually take us to the right path, and it eventually did.
Adding the slightest atmosphere would probably be as far as we would be willing to go. This "Dimmu Borgir" connotation is not something we find flattering.

Are there any plans for a new album that the band would like to share with Air Guitar?

A full length is due. We aim to create the strongest material to date. We’ve been brainstorming and compiling for some time now, and it’s finally about to take form. A completely new Rigormortem will come from this.

What does the rest of 2012 hold for Rigormortem?

Reshaping Rigormortem into what it was always meant to be. It was decided that 2012 would be the year we announce Our return. Something We’ve been very eager about. We’ve been away for 3years – too long.

If you could ask the father of corpse paint, Dead (Per Yngve Ohlin) a question, what would it be?

His thoughts on the parasite that is humanity.  Guidance to cope with the idiocy force-fed into our genre by trend.

Tell us what the Cape Town metal scene is like – are the Metalheads creeping out of the woodwork?

Many metalheads in very mixed new-age genres, along with the old and true.
Still much room to advance. Two steps forward, one step back. But growth is definitely there.

Does Rigormortem have any last words?



Only for Our supporters to be patient - The best is yet to come… We’ve needed the time away from the scene to grow musically, and it’s paid off. We’ve set a very high bar for ourselves, and We won’t settle for anything less. 

Horns Up to RIGORMORTEM for the interview!
More RIGORMORTEM can be found at Facebook and Reverbnation!


South Africa Metal: STELLAWOOD DECAPITATION





STELLAWOOD DECAPITATION
(Deadly/ Quirky/ Blistering on Stage/ Proudly Durban)

Why the name Stellawood Decapitation?

Shannon: Well, it started at Wojtek’s 21st...
Wojtek: But my birthday is still coming...
Matthew: No, it started at a new years eve party...
Shannon: That was when we decided to start the band haha!
Matthew *puzzled* *laughs*
Wojtek: Okay, it started with a mate of our’s telling a story over a FEW beers about him and some friends who were at the Stellawood cemetery one night, they were all socializing and what not “that’s what they said”  A whole bunch of cop cars pulled up like ten or so – pulled them out of the car and questioned them as to what they were doing there at the time. To cut the story short, they were told by the cops to pack up and fuck off  immediately because a guy had decapitated a dude and  left his head randomly around the cemetery. As to how true the story is, we are not sure haha! So the name pretty much just popped into our heads and it stuck.
Shannon: We wanted to keep the name proudly South African and as local as possible.

Proudly South African?

Shannon/Teague/Wojtek: Proudly Durban!!

Tell us a bit about your back story?

Shannon: Each member has performed in different bands in the past. I sang for a deathcore band called Through The eyes Of Hades; Teague played in a death metal band called Blood Drenched Homicide, Matt and Teague were session guitarists for Cynical Origin, Wojtek sang in a band called The Hollow and Steph was a session drummer for a few metal bands and performed full time for a few.

Steph, I didn’t want to but I have to ask, you are a female in a metal band and you play the drums like a beast. What is this like?

*laughs* Well, yeah, it’s not exactly what you think - I like to play groove, it’s not about how fast you play.
Matthew: And she is good at it – like a beast!

Has there ever been a ‘show me your tits’ story?      

Steph: No!
Everyone: *Laughs*
Wojtek: If there is anyone, we will kick ass if they are not respectable!

How did you manage to get into the Detonation tour?

 Shannon: A friend of ours informed me that Fleshgod Apocalypse will be touring the country in March 2012 and suggested we open up for them to represent Durban. So I then got in contact with Valentina and Gareth from Valgar Entertainment and ...yeah. We were then asked to play at Rocktoberfest last year in October, which I had informed Gareth about to come and check us out and make a decision from there – so about 3 weeks after Rocktober Fest we got an email from Valentina asking if we would like to join The Red Door  leg of the tour. Teague nearly killed himself in excitement... I told him to at least play the show then off himself hahahaha I joke!
Teague: Thank God, I’m still alive so I could play
Wojtek: Yeah, lucky he didn’t kill himself!

You have all played in prior bands though what experience do you bring to Stellawood Decapitation?

Teague: We bring different genres and elements to the band and writing process!
Shannon: I think what makes us very unique is that Matt has a very Black metal background, Teague has a very tech death background, Wojtek has a death metal background as well as I, and Steph has a straight metal and groove influence.
Wojetk: We also have a bit of melodic influences too. And Steph keeps that classic drive behind us.
Shannon: We are like the new wave of Durban death metal – reason why we say that,  is the Durban metal scene is like a tidal wave, it has gone up and down drastically over the past few years. And we started (with a few new bands as well) at the time the scene was in a bit of a slump.

There are two types of metal bands; one that attracts groupies and one that attracts groupers (15 year old boys who want to headbang). Which one do you see yourself as?

Everyone: *Laughs*
Shannon: The three groupies we have are our girlfriend’s haha!
Wojtek: We have a solid fan base at every gig that we play... That’s not because they are mates with us – it’s because they actually like the music and the few that come out love supporting local metal. Some of them are mates but sometimes when we rock up to shows, there will be random guys coming along to say ‘hi’. We don’t know them but we will see them at every consecutive show and that’s pretty damn sweet!
Teague: I think what they like is the blend of all the styles of metal so I guess that is what attracts them to the shows.

What are the bands big influences?

Matt: I like the old school black metal. I’m also heavily into Gojira and Behemoth.
Steph: Groove metal bands and Veil of Maya!
Teague: Cannibal Corpse, a lot of tech death and a lot of prog.
Shannon: Carnifex and The Black Dahlia Murder
Wojtek: Vocally I have to say, Behemoth

I am going to throw a name at you and tell me the first thing that comes to mind:

Varg Viekernes
Matt: Good music but fucking screwed in the head!
Lacuna Coil
Steph: Young, poppy goths hahaha!
Abysmal Dawn
Teague: *nod* *nod* clarity and progressiveness
Corey Taylor
Shannon: Good vocalist, yet I’m not a fan of  him bringing the Stone Sour element of vocals into Slipknot. 2 different bands all together.
Phil Anselmo
Wojtek: Legend! Legend!




The band is doing their EP and naming it Teagolo the Dinosaur? Are you really naming it that?

Shannon: As I said, we really dig to keep the band as local as possible.

What is local about a dinosaur?

Everyone: *laughs*
Wojetk: Golo means pussy. And Teague got this nickname in college “Teagolo” (Teague the Vagina). And when Teague gets really drunk – he walks around like a Dinosaur *attempts T-Rex stance*  Hence the name Teagolo The Dinosaur!
Everyone: *Laughs*

Stellawood Decapitation, do you have any last words?

Wojtek: Keep it metal! Thank you to Valentina and Gareth for putting on an amazing local show/tour and letting South Africans experience what the rest of the world has to offer.  A huge shout out to Fleshgod Apocalypse for coming down and pleasing our ears!
Shannon: Thank you to all the fans that we have gained in the past few months, for their incredible support and company. We are a new band and they are brilliant beings for believing in us and being behind us all the way!
Matt:  Also, we have a new bassist (Dylan Mcdonald) who has joined the ranks and filling in the final piece to the band. So look out for him at a show soon!
Shannon: And Lav, Thank you!

Thank you Lads and Lady! Catch ALL things STELLAWOOD DECAPITATION on Facebook and Reverbnation !



South Africa Metal: BLEEDING SPAWN





BLEEDING SPAWN
(Brutal/ Damn Fast/ Raging Live/ Heavy Very Heavy)


Thank you for taking time out to do this interview with Air Guitar! How did this whole journey begin for Bleeding Spawn?

Dominic (Bass):  It started in mid 2009, finding the members was the most essential part in creating the music that we wanted to produce and expose, after we all got together we all knew what we wanted to do in the band and that was to create extreme music /death metal…

What is the metal scene like in Bleeding Spawn’s place of origin – Mpumalanga/Midelburg?

Dominic (Bass): The scene here is like metal should be UNDERGROUND, not many people here listen to it or follow it but the metal heads that we have here are die hard metal fans that support in every way possible.

How would the band describe their music to the metalheads abroad?

Dominic (Bass): Well what I always say is super brutal damn fast and you gotta see it to believe it.

With so many good reviews under the Bleeding Spawn repertoire – what sort of mosh-me-to-the-ground live shows can we expect in the near future?

Dominic (Bass): Well we are playing alongside Fleshgod Apocalypse for the whole tour (Detonation) that alone is going to break necks, then we got a show with our good friends Contrast the Water in Johannesburg the 20th of April that one will also be ultra heavy, then after that we will plan some stuff for our fans to feed them their dose of brutal music.

Death metal has tagged itself as music for people just to smash themselves to – is that the case with Bleeding Spawn?

Dominic (Bass): Smash themselves to hahahaha, well I think death metal fans like smashing others instead. I disagree death metal for me is like food water and air its life for me it shows me meaning of diversity….so with Bleeding Spawn sure it’s always awesome to see people have fun if that means smashing themselves up or just pure headbanging but still we have meaning behind the music and yes a message should be broadcasted and that is what we intend on doing.

Every band member of Bleeding Spawn has had prior experience with another band. How does this experience help now?

Dominic (Bass): With whatever you do musically it will only make you better at the end of the day.
According to the public, the band has an industrial grind edge to the music – where does the ferocious anger come from?

Dominic (Bass): Where we live we is harder than normal, there is no metal pubs or clubs all you got is testosterone junkies that hate metal so we learnt from the day we first listened to metal that we are going to have to stand up for ourselves so a lot of that anger is processed in the community that we live, the other is misanthropy.

What can we expect from Bleeding Spawn in 2012? Can the band tell us about any albums or projects in progress?

Dominic (Bass):We are releasing our EP/demo/split on the Fleshgod apocalypse tour after we come back we going to be working on more recording and hopefully by June we should have our full length out. My other project along side Darius of Displeased Disfigurement, we also bring out our full length about the same time 

Let’s talk about Rise of the Machine – what was the concept behind that track release?

Dominic (Bass):Technology has ruined the way humans think and react, a lot of jobs don’t even need human work, only machines, so the concept of the song is purely about robots and mechanical figures taking over the human race-yes we watch a lot of Terminator - lol! 

Overall – with the death metal scene growing in South Africa shall it be said that it is the artist who creates the metal scene?

Dominic (Bass): In my opinion I think it’s the artist and the supporter. Take either away you going to have an uneven balance 

Does Bleeding Spawn have any last words?

Dominic (Bass): Come support us and the rest of South Africa’s metal bands on the Fleshgod tour WE GOTTA REPRESENT!
Thank You Dominic! Catch all the brutality of Bleeding Spawn:




EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW WITH FLESHGOD APOCALYPSE (ITALY)




FLESHGOD APOCALYPSE

Fleshgod Apocalypse are resurrecting the souls of many fans across the world during their ongoing tours across Europe, United States of America and Africa. The extreme Italian metal band recently sat down with Lav from South Africa during their Detonation Tour for a bit of Q and A. They spill about bigger budgets, what the South African metal scene is really like and the progression of the Fleshgod Apocalypse sound.

Fleshgod Apocalypse has been on tour for such a long time – how has it been?

Christiano: This period of two years has been great for us. Completely a stressful lifestyle but it’s what we like and what we want to do, so we enjoy it very much. We have had the chance to work with some great big bands, meet new people and we have a lot of friends but now we have even more friends. It feels so good to somehow roam around and do your job – and feel a part of something bigger. When you are so busy you don’t really stop to think about it but when you do it is like ‘wow’!

Why has the band decided to embark on such a grand tour?

Christiano: Nowadays, it’s important for bands to go on tour because they need to promote and sell their music. The only way for a band to sell into the market – not only from an economical point – is to tour in various countries to get the music across. It is good promotion and the only way to do that is to tour.

So, why the decision to come to South Africa?

Francesco: The lions! We really want to see the lions!

Christiano: We are really trying to do the Asian countries too but it is not possible because we are so busy at the moment. We are talking about it and we hope to get there soon!

The Detonation tour includes South African bands Bleeding Spawn and Bile of Man – how has that been touring with them, so far?

Paolo: Very nice! We have done one show and it has been one of the best shows that we have had because it is more intimate.

Though Fleshgod Apocalypse has done some big shows in Europe with big bands so what makes South Africa special in that case?

Paolo: You can see the people are hungry here in South Africa. Touring Europe is cool but sometimes you get so much of metal coming at you – it is like too much but in South Africa it is not like that.

Christiano: To come here and see how people react is amazing.

Francesco: I would come back here again for that hunger and to see the lions too. Recording music is cool and writing music is cool but still doing the show is the best thing. The concept of the band is to bring a show – the show must be theatre and this is the whole experience of having a fan-base actually enjoying it makes it even better.

What is the worst thing about touring?

Francesco: The lack of showers!

Christiano: You can get bored...

Francesco: And the cuisine!

Paolo: You miss home and you miss the food! Touring is like a parallel existence – the more you go roaming the more you get excited to discover things that you never knew about but the more you miss your wife, family, and friends. Also there is no routine. You are between something like a vacation yet you are working all the time. There are sacrifices.

The band has been signed to Nuclear Blast recently, how has the new label been treating you?

Christiano: We are really excited to be on Nuclear Blast records!

Does this mean the band has a bigger budget?

Francesco: Not as much as you think.

Paolo: The perception of signing to a big label is like ‘now you got money – we are cool and things like that’. Though, it is not true. 

Christiano: Well, yeah, the idea is that you get on a bigger label and things change, the band becomes commercial. No, it’s not like that at all! Signing to Nuclear Blast means you need to work more than twice as hard and put more energy into your work, the band has bigger responsibilities because you have more opportunities and of course you have much more exposure which in this case is a good thing.
Paolo: We knew Nuclear Blast would be a right fit for us and there would be a mutual respect with the label. They have allowed us to do what we wanted to do but the career is the same. You are just working with a bigger team.

Francesco: It is good like this because when you propose something it goes in the correct channels. This means that we are totally aware of what to do with the band for our image and they are aware of what they have to do. The most important thing is that they [Nuclear Blast] have invested in something that they believe in and that makes us very happy with such a relationship.

Christiano: The main thing is we share the same goal.

The band line-up has not altered much since inception; so how has each band member progressed personally and musically?

Christiano: We had some sort of evolution since we began. I hope I have become more professional in terms of musicianship. In general, we all learnt how to manage personal issues and feelings. Also practice issues too – when you tour a lot you don’t really practice your instrument because you are playing [rehearsing] songs so you lose touch at times but we have learnt to manage that part.

Paolo: When started touring from nothing to a lot – we really began to grow-up. You can see the revolution in all of that. You learn to criticize yourself and there is a change of thinking; sometimes you have to let go and lose tension.

Let’s talk about the orchestration in the music – a big movement from the last two albums and Agony.

Francesco: We tried to do it from a different point of view and experiment. When we began we worked together with the orchestra so there was integration of the orchestra and the other instruments. We tried to find a balance so there was still the brutality in it but with more classic.

Christiano: From the symphonic point of view – it is different. We developed it in a different way and this was done with a different concept.

Will Fleshgod Apocalypse consider doing a similar album to Agony – maybe looking into a symphonic addition?

Christiano: Absolutely!
Francesco: If not, then I am out of a job!
Paolo: People do tend to criticize classical music but it is not the same. It is not that rigid.

Tell us a bit about the Italian metal scene?

Christiano: There are a lot of Italian metal bands so I won’t say it is small scene but not a big part of the Europe scene. Every year we have better band – the only thing is a lack of mentality especially in Northern Italy. There is a deep line of classical culture and a certain way of thinking that conflicts things.

Are there any particular bands that Fleshgod Apocalypse would like to share the stage with?

Francesco: Nightwish!

Christiano: There are a lot of bands!

Paolo: It would be cool to tour with some of those bands too! Like Cannibal Corpse when we met them it was a pleasure. It is really cool to see people that you treat like God know who wyou are and listen to your music.

Christiano: This is true and it would be really cool to play with Rammstein.

Francesco: We like their [Rammstein] albums – their different but we really get inspiration from their mentality.

Christiano: You know, I would have liked to tour with Michael Jackson – but that won’t happen.

Does the band have any last words?

Francesco: I want to see the lions!

Christiano: Cheers to South Africans – we felt their energy that they just wanted to have fun! We are glad that they support our bands and that is important. It is a pleasure to play in front of a smaller crowd but a good one!

Thank you! A massive and headbanging thanks to Valgar Entertainment for setting up the interview and for a splendid Detonation Tour, a grand thank you to Fleshgod Apocalypse management and of course Christiano, Francesco and Paolo!

FLESHGOD APOCALYPSE ON: 

*All live photographs taken at The Red Door (PMB) S.A

South Africa Metal: COLD HAND CHEMISTRY





COLD HAND CHEMISTRY
(Progressive Rock/ Trend Setter NOT Trend Follower)
Orange in Blue Photography
Thank you for taking some time out to chat to Air Guitar! It is rare to find a progressive rock/alternative band in South Africa! Could Cold Hand Chemistry (CHC) elaborate on their repertoire especially to our readers abroad?

Chantel: I think music in South Africa is very “Afrikaans new wave” these days. Bands try to be the next “Die Antwoord, Jack Parrow or Fokofpoliesiekar” and we think that’s great. Cold Hand Chemistry from the start decided not to follow any trends and rather focus on the songs and music representation. With this in mind the lyrics, mood and melody dictates a song with a fine line of our individual styles that ties it all together. I guess also why we are classed as progressive rock/alternative and on occasion metal.

David: I guess the best description of our repertoire would be an organic blend of rock and ethnic genres with a ever so slight classical influence. The idea was always to make use of ethnic influences and cinematic themes in the vein of John Williams and John Carpenter.
The idea was not to replicate the symphonic style of bands like Nightwish and Within Temptation - although their influence is far more apparent at the start of our career, instead we have been crafting our identity to be more of a soundtrack to something fierce in it's conviction but never to far from the base beauty of natural melody. Currently we are still in the process of evolving our sound to it's next stage and we are pleased with the results that are likely to seperate us from the Epic Metal comparisons. We love the genres that inspire us but we want ours to be free to be it's on beast.

The band has had quite a journey since the humble beginnings in 2006. CHC, what has been your biggest challenge, musically, so far?

Chantel: Recording our debut album has by far been the biggest challenge. We had so many let downs, disappointments and financial challenges we had to overcome. With the added pressure we also lost some very talented musicians.

David: Where to start? We have had many challenges in the shape of line-up changes, creative confusions, contract sourings and the usual cliche list of things you see in pretty much any rock and roll movie. Our biggest challenge had to be the establishing of our identity in a saturated rock market that has consumed so many of our peers. We have outlasted our expectations and now we are hungry to establish our relevance beyond that. Not to prove anything to anyone, but to give the music every possible chance to exist.

I've touched on that the band has been on the gigging front for years – is this CHC’s way of connecting to the audience?

Chantel: This is the most important part of our existence, having that connection with our audience. A big thing for us is our live performance and entertaining our fans, we want to expand on our shows and bring on-board bigger and more engaging stage elements.

David: It most certainly is. We pride ourselves on our accessibility and while our live career has had many ups and downs, it has always brought the team and the audience together in a united push for creative bliss. No matter how ludicrous our ideas and somewhat ill-advised our experiments, our fans have blown us away with their consistent support. They serve as a constant reminder that we must follow this path through all it's ebb and flow.

As mentioned prior, CHC has played at a number of gigs – which have been the most memorable and which have been the least pleasant?


Chantel: Most memorable was WinterFest 2011 organized by Metal4Africa at the Klein Libertas Theatre in Stellenbosh. We always find Metal4Africa events to be well organized and the Metal community very inviting to our music even though we not “that Metal”, they just make every note memorable for us. Least pleasant was being attacked by an old lady with my own microphone because she thought the lyrics to one of our songs were demonic. I won’t go into too much detail for the sake of the event and organizers. All I can say that lady was F@king crazy!!! Next time I will hit back. lol

David: At the earliest stages of the band we would have been very quick to dismiss an event as unpleasant due to the inevitable technical failures, the band mate that indulged perhaps a bit too much the night before, the unpromoted venue, etc. We are greatful for each and every chance we have had to entertain and have our humble music listened to. Every gig throws the unexpected at you and this is part of what makes it so exciting.
Personally I will never forget the wondrous experience of playing at Africa Burns in it's first year, even though I think we could count our audience on one hand. The least, I guess that would be the one where our singer was punched out by an old lady in a shopping mall.

Tell us about your relationship with producer/engineer Fernando Perdigao and about his involvement in the soon to be released CHC album.

Chantel: Working with an International and award-winning producer has been one of the highlights and our biggest blessing. It’s easy to understand why he’s had such success and has benn nominated and won many awards and worked with real huge international stars like Sting and Jo Cocker. He just knows how to crack the code of each artist when he works with them. He gets right into your creative space and guides you without you even knowing. It’s like changing your mind and making you think it was your idea. He’s clever like that.

David: Fernando is a man with a very decorated past and a very well-deservd reputation in the industry. What he saw in us is beyond me. as baffling as his interest in our project was, it was the kiss of life for what was atthe time, very much a band on the edge. His faith and vision to help us bring out the potential of our art is what has not only kept the outfit together but allowed us to dream again of how far we could take our sound. His faith in us is simply invaluable and his contribution - incalculable.

I have heard a few promotional tracks from CHC – one that caught my attention is “Do You See Me”, the vocals are smooth and many symphonic elements are present. How importants are lyrics to CHC and where does the influences come from?


Chantel: Lyric plays a big part in our songs; I won’t say the deciding factor of a song though. It’s very important that the lyrics add to the spirit of the song and if it does not work we don’t force it. We have some songs that are pure instrumentals because it just makes sense to leave the interpretation of the music to the listener’s mood and have it guided by lyrics. However we do love telling a story and “Do you see me (hex) is based on the Afriaans Ghost story of the Hex of Hex river. Most of our songs have some historical or reference to something that happened around us. We like to bring in a double meaning the here and the now and the personal to each song.

David: This is where we struggle to define our creative process the most. We enjoy spontaneity in the writing process and the seed for the next song can as easily com from a flick of Goeff's bass guitar as it could come from a phrase pitched from Chantel's lips. Each an every member has been the proud parent of what would become a staple of our stage show and consequently our album.

On that note – can CHC reveal anything about the soon to be released album?

Chantel: There is a fine story line in each song and we hope the journey will be worth the wait. We also have a bit of a teaser track at the end for what’s to come on our second album without revealing too much. Its will have a song for everyone from the heavy of metal fans to the light hearted rocker out there.

David: This has been a lifetime of work condensed into this neat hour-long package. It is the start of our lives in many was but in one very important way, it is finally the end. We hope you enjoy it.

What are the future plans for CHC especially in 2012?

Chantel: This year we want to focus on our debut album and performing across SA’s top venues and festivals. We also want to work on our second album material and currently we are working very hard at writing songs and getting ready to get back out on stage.
RandomTams Photography
David: This year we plan to follow up the release of our album with shows shows and more shows. We plan to let this band out of it's cage and let it run absolutely free.

Alternative music is still developing in South Africa and in the past five years there has been a grand surge in alternative bands from all parts of the country. What is CHC’s perspective of the current scene? Is it a limited scene or is it the artist that creates the scene?


Chantel: There is no limit to the scene. Why is “Die Antwoord” so successful? They did everything against what is currently happening here in South Africa and made their own success and created their own scene. We respect that and good for them. Being in a band is not just Rock and Roll all the way, what most people don’t know and see behind the scene is that it’s exactly like running a business. I can assure you “Die Antwoord” is one mean business when they are not all seff style LOL clever lot that Yolandi Visser and her Ninja ek se.

David: Honestly I feel unqualified to comment on the scene as it stands. There is so much potential in many acts springing up around us with fresh innovative takes on the genre. The challenge faced by local bands mainly seems to be the pressure to conform to popular conventions in order to gain the right to be broadcast. The internet has been a godsend in this regard and I'm certain that without it's ability to reach potential fands globally we would not have surived nearly as long as we have. I hope the rest of the brilliant acts we see emerging from SA realizes their potential in this medium to get their art noticed and appreciated.

And finally, does CHC have any last words?

Chantel: We are blown away everyday by our fans and as cliché as this might seem we are truly humbled by their support and the love. We hope the readers of Air guitar will enjoy the album as much as we enjoyed putting it together for you and hope to chat to each and every one of your readers on their preferred social network. Just like us.

David: Follow your path with conviction and forward momentum regardless of the set-backs. Your ambitions are attainable. If you are an old fan of our band, we appreciate your having taken this journey with us for so long, if you're a new fan - thank you for joining us. In both cases we are excited to share with you what we have produced.

Thank You CHC for a great interview! Check them out at: Facebook, Twitter, Reverbnation and on their own Blog!