Archive for Interview

Interview with Liv Sin

Posted in CD, Metal with tags , , , , , , , , on 28th August 2019 by mickbirchy

Ahead of the release of their new album Burning Sermons on the 6th September, Mick spoke to Liv Jagrell of Swedish heavy metal band Liv Sin. They discussed the production and songwriting of this record in comparison to their previous 2017 album, Follow Me, as well working with some of metal’s heavy hitters. Also, read Liv’s thoughts on women in metal, her biggest piece of advice for new bands and how she has overcome her biggest setback.

 What do you think is the biggest difference between the new album Burning Sermons and your previous album Follow Me?

I think that the biggest difference is in the sound of the album because we’ve brought in electronics and synth sounds. There are more keyboard and orchestral arrangements. This was not present on the first record. Maybe a song or two, but for the first album, it was more just a straight forward heavy metal sound.  However, on this record, we wanted a little bit more of a diverse sound, as a result, we took out some of the guitar-riffing and added in the more electronic sound. So we chose to work with a producer who could help us achieve this. 

I wanted to get on to the production a little bit here. I’ve read that you worked with Emil Nödtveidt  (Deathstars guitarist). What was it like to work with him and what do you feel he added to the album that you really appreciated?

Obviously all of the keyboards, electronics and orchestral arrangements which none of us could have done. He was just a pleasure to work with, it felt like there was no real effort to communicate my ideas with him and he was able to give us the best product possible. I would love to work with him again. I mean, he definitely put his stamp on the music. You can here that Deathstars sound on some of the songs. I feel that he took the songs to another level by adding things that we would not have thought of. 

Another note I have read was that you brought in Björn Strid (singer of Soilwork and The Nightflight Orchestra) for the song “Hope Begins To Fail”. What was it like bringing him into the studio and working with him?

Also, pretty amazing! Björn is an excellent singer, also I am a big fan of Soilwork, I have loved that band since they started. I also like The Nightflight Orchestra too, not 100% my type of music but it shows how versatile he is as a singer. I think that his voice worked really well in the song. We also got him to do the video shoot with us and he is such a funny guy we just had so much fun on set for that music video. Also, I would love to work with him again as well. 

That’s fantastic, I loved hearing that on the album as well. Just moving on to the lyrical aspect of the album. What is your favourite song from a lyrical standpoint on this album and what do you feel is the main message of your lyrics?

Quite hard to say as all of the lyrics are very personal to me. As when I write lyrics, it’s kind of like therapy for me as I try to process my own internal thoughts. However, I always like the idea that these songs can help someone else as well. So, on some the songs, I wrote more from more of my experience or things that I wish would happen. Then, on the other hand, I want to write songs that I think might encourage people. Like the song “At The Gates of The Abyss”, which is a song where I’m trying to inspire people to not give up, at least not today, this is not the day where we all fall. Also, in the song “War Antidote” there’s a line in the chorus ‘Hail To The Freaks’ and I feel this is embracing people who might feel that they don’t belong and try to give them encouragement to continue. That is the main thing I want to get across. That, it’s okay to be different and we can continue together.

That was pretty inspiring. I personally have been loving the album, I just think it’s a more whole and complete album than the first one.

Thank you, yes. Also, we had way more time with this record. I think we worked through the songs much more than on the first album. I think as well, we’ve found a sound that we really like and want to continue with.

Yeah, it feels like a record with more time gone into it. Not that I didn’t like the first album but I thought it was interesting to hear the evolution of your sound. There seemed to be far less fast-paced and intense metal tracks and more of a general grandiose metal sound. What is your process for working the lyrics into the music? Does the idea for the song come first or do the themes of the lyrics come first and then you try an match it?

It depends…. Mostly though, we come up with the melodies and rhythm first then try to piece the words and meaning into that melody. Sometimes, it just does fit and you can become really frustrated and then that leads to “Grahhhhgh, damn it, fuck it!” because you really want that particular rhythm and melody but you also want to say a specific line you can’t find anything to match. I have spent many evenings just staring and working on one sentence and getting nowhere. At that point, I just go “fuck it, it’ll wait until tomorrow”

So with the release of this new record, it’s a given that your new setlist will be mostly new material. Are there any songs from Follow Me that you plan to keep on the setlist?

I think the two that we kinda have to keep are “Let Me Out” and “Killing Ourselves To Live” because they are the main songs from Follow Me. Also, because they are great songs and they work well with the audience. We are also keeping “Hypocrite” as for us, it’s an awesome live song. Also, we’re planning on keeping “Emporer of Chaos” as it fits in very well with the newer songs, because it’s more of a political song and because audiences really like it.

From the last time we spoke, you said that your favourite song on Follow Me was “The Fall”. Any chance that could make it on to the setlist?

It could… But since we have “Chapter of The Witch”, it might be too much as it’s another intense fast-paced song and I don’t want too many of those working their way on to the setlist. So right now we’ve taken away “The Fall” to put in “Chapter of The Witch”. I mean you learn when you tour and “The Fall” has a tendency to be a little too fast, it’s not a really groovy track so we didn’t get the response that we hoped it would have got. I mean I really like the song, but it’s a really hard song to play live. 

Excellent, I mean I really like that song too, so if there’s a chance to hear it live again, I’m always there. Just moving away from songwriting now. What are your thoughts on the progression of women in the metal world, as they are becoming more and more prevalent in a metal context?

It’s interesting that this is even a question but understand why. I hope that it will develop further than it is, it’s definitely better for sure, certainly more so than when I first started in music. You’re seeing many more bands of just women or band with women in them. I hope it will develop further and I hope one day you won’t even have to call attention to it. You know, so we’re at a point where the term “female-fronted” for example is no longer something that is needed.

Yeah, it is kinda silly when you think about it, as long as the music is good, who cares who is playing it. Another question, I think is very interesting. From your experience across your whole career, what is the one piece of advice you give to a new up-and-coming band starting in the industry today?

Since the music business has changed so much since I started, it hard to say. As things that used to be true, aren’t anymore. One thing I will say is you can’t lie to new bands about how much work you have to put into it. Nothing is going to happen for free and if you are not committed, dedicated and not truly ready to sacrifice things, this is not the industry you want to be in. Because you have to sacrifice financial security, friends, families and whatever in order to make it work.  You know, you have to take tours before birthdays, festival slots before weddings. If you’re not prepared to do that, you will be disappointed and you will feel like a failure because you won’t make it very far. I know that sound really harsh because you want to encourage people but it’s also the truth and if you’re not ready there will always be someone who will stand over you. At the same time, I have always been that kind of person to stand on my own and do what my heart tells me otherwise I wouldn’t be here. 

However, if you’re willing to make that kind of sacrifice then it is worth it in the end because music is such a necessary thing, we need it in the world as a world without music would be a hard one to live in.

I couldn’t agree more music is so important, it’s the main thing I use to ignore that fact the world is dying and going to crap. So, just end on and this my favourite question I ask. What is the hardest thing, professionally or personally, you have had to overcome and how did you overcome it?

Hmm, that’s a hard question, give me a minute. So, actually, this is it. I’m afraid of flying and aeroplanes in general. Whenever I sit in a plane, which you do a lot on tour, I ask myself “Why am I doing this?” but I’m still doing it anyway. I think that if I didn’t have this passion for music, I would never face that fear as much as I do. I would probably not go on a plane at all. Yet, today I’m facing that fear all of the time. I always wonder to myself, why isn’t flying becoming easier, because I’m doing it so much. Yes, you have fear but having such a strong feeling inside of you to face that fear is important and once you have that, yes it might not become easier but doing the thing enjoy becomes more rewarding.

Interview and words by Mick Birchall

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Interview with Janne Wirman (Children of Bodom)

Posted in Gig, Interview, Live, Metal with tags , , , , , on 19th March 2017 by mickbirchy

Before their set in Manchester, our writer, Mick Birchall sits with Janne Wirman from Children of Bodom to talk about 20 years of the band and how they kept up in the music industry. Also, touring and the music scene in general.

This year marks 20 years of Children of Bodom. How does it feel to be able to say that you have actually been going that long?

Yes, it’s crazy it really is.  We weren’t really expecting that when we started. Back then we were just kids and we played heavy metal metal. Yeah it’s great it really is. Just the though that we’ve made it this far.

You guys have played all around the world.  Would you say there a difference in audience, depending on where you go?

You be surprised on how little the differences are really. Metal heads are metal heads no matter where you go.  If there are differences then they’d be small things. Such as in Japan, the crowd will probably go completely silent between the songs, it feels a little awkward. However, it is a show of respect. So it’s things like that but when the music is on, it’s on!

Going for 20 years now and with 9 albums.  How do you feel you keep your music sounding new without wearing out the same sound, but also without compromising the core of the band?

That’s becoming a challenge after releasing so many albums and we definitely don’t want to be stuck to a formula or get stuck the mindset of “this worked well, let’s just do that again”. As a band you have to keep creating something new and you have to take a risk with something eventually. I mean there’s only so many bands that can release the same album over and over.

Over the years what is the one song you wish you had written as a band?

I would say Redneck by Lamb of God.

What would be the best band that you have opened for and what’s the best band that’s opened for you?

I’d say the best we’ve opened for is Slayer. We did a couple tour with them and it was just great.  Their level of production and how well the opening bands were treated it was just amazing.

On the other hand we’ve had the pleasure of having so many killer band open the show for us. We had this band recently play with us.  Havok they were really great, we’ve heard them play and every audience they’ve played for people have just loved them.  Also we have Oni with us on this tour. They’re really cool, with a xylophone player. If you’re into the weird stuff then Oni is for you.

What’s your impression of the more gimmicky bands out there.  The ones who will dress up and get into character for a show?

I mean, there’s nothing wrong with it. Just don’t paste it over your image, if your band sound sounds fine without gimmicks then don’t paste it over the top of it.  Only do it if it’s natural to the kind of music that you’re trying to create. Also, if you’re going to do it, make it your own thing.  Don’t take another band idea and slap it over your band, try to be original with a concept.

So to end on. What was the hardest thing you had to overcome and how did you overcome it?

We’ve had some obstacles in band. Obviously letting Roope (Latvala) go was a tough decision. We were struggling without him for sometime. When you’ve been in the industry for this long you’ve had up and and downs. At the end of the day, everyone in the band has to believe in the same thing, then between all of you you get through rough times. As long as you have you bandmates there’s very little that they’ll let you do wrong.

 

Interview and words by Mick Birchall

Interview with Finntroll

Posted in Festival, Interview, Live, Metal with tags , on 19th June 2016 by izaforestspirit

Iza had a little chat with Mörkö and Skrymer from Finntroll before their show at Tampere Metal Meeting yesterday.

Iza: Hi guys!

Finntroll: Hey..

Iza: How are you doing guys? How are you enjoying the festival so far?

Finntroll: We basically arrived here just like an hour ago so we’re preparing the stage and ready to rock n’ roll for the show.

Iza: Are you planning to watch any of the bands?

Finntroll: Hopefully… Hopefully we can see, for instance Kalmah because we will be on stage right after them. Then that’s our festival. After the show we’re going straight back home.

Iza: So what can we expect from your show tonight? More crazy troll music?

Finntroll: Yeah… Experience crazy madness and circus. That’s how it usually is… (laughs)

Iza: Shame about the weather. You had better weather the last time that I saw you live at a festival.

Finntroll: Yeah, it could be. It’s been raining all day. So it’s probably going to rain in the evening as well…

Iza: Well, thanks and good luck with the show! See you!

Finntroll: Thanks and see you later! It’s going to be good.

Stay tuned for the full festival report coming soon.

http://www.tamperemetalmeeting.fi/

http://www.finntroll-music.com/

Interview with Wildpath

Posted in Interview with tags , , on 14th May 2016 by mickbirchy

Our writer, Mick Birchall had a chat with the members of French progressive-symphonic metal band Wildpath, who played Quinphonic Festival in March. This interview goes into the band’s unique style, their experiences in the music industry and their first time playing to a UK crowd.

Mick: Coming off of this year’s Quinphonic Festival, how did you enjoy your first show in the UK?

Wildpath: It was a great experience! We met the British audience for the first time. They were curious about our music, attentive listeners and very open-minded. The RoadHouse team gave us a warm welcome, and all the organisation of the Quinphonic Festival was perfect! We left with only one thought in mind : We’re coming back as soon as possible!

Mick: You have such a creative sound, mixing a lot of different styles of music together. What influenced you as a band on the whole?

Wildpath: We all listen to different styles of music, and it probably influences our own music. For us, Wildpath should always be able to evolve. We want to have the same pleasure playing our music, and to do so, we think that renewing, experimenting, mixing styles is a good way to never grow tired. Our next album might be pure symphonic metal, as much as an orchestral or electro album.

Mick: Could you tell us a bit about your creative process from musical and lyrical standpoint?

Wildpath: We always like to work around a concept: One story through all the songs, connected with the same atmosphere, dynamics and narration. It helps us to find the ideas and to know how to lead them. However, we don’t want to impose that concept to our listeners, so each song is made as a stand alone, and takes its place in the common thread.

Mick: When it comes to songwriting, can it be difficult when making new songs not to tread the same water as the past?

Wildpath: We always try to break new grounds. For each album we have a new pace to work at. Nyx Secret was made quite like a “Best of” of a very large number of compositions. Non Omnis Moriar was written as a concept album that could be read in many different ways. Our last album, Disclosure was created especially for live shows, and then arranged and orchestrated for its final studio form. We like to work in that way: It’s really rewarding and exciting to take risks at any time in the creative process.

Mick: When it comes to translating playing in the studio to playing live, do you treat the songs any differently?

Wildpath: Yes we do. For our two first albums, we wanted to share different versions on albums and live shows. Live shows demand a specific energy and clarity, while albums must be listenable tirelessly, with many nuances to reward each additional listening. Since Underneath, we tried to combine both as best as possible, so now there is much more of a resemblance. The audience gave us a really good feedback so we kept this mindset for Disclosure.

Mick: Typically speaking of the genre of symphonic metal. I’m a big fan of this type of music and I’m seeing the genre grow all the time. Have you noticed the increase in interest for this music?

Wildpath: It’s a very dynamic style these days and it’s a pleasant thing to see. We are thrilled to hear bands working on new approaches. Since the emergence of the major names of the genre in the nineties, symphonic metal has known a great evolution, mixed with many other genres, which probably explains why it keeps growing and maturing over time.

Mick: So, Wildpath has been around since 2001 and you have 4 studio albums. What would say you have learned from those experiences?

Wildpath: We have learned to do as many things as possible by ourselves. We have quite precised ideas of what we want, so we work as much as possible independently. It’s hard sometimes, but always rewarding. We learn more each time, doing our videoclips, organizing most of our shows, managing all our artistic direction, our communication and our merchandising. It’s a real involvement in time and energy but we’re really happy with these choices, and we thank all of our fans. This is all the more moving to see that our community grows each time we give it out all on every aspect of the project.

Mick: Following that, what advice would you give to newer bands on the scene?

Wildpath: Musicians are becoming more and more independent thanks to less expensive and more versatile home studios, online distribution and community platforms. Although it demands more work because you have to deal with many aspects of the production. It’s a lot of dedication, time, discipline, learning and investments, but music is a job for passionate people, and as long as the passion is here, it’s one of the most beautiful jobs in the world.

Mick: So, what does the future hold for Wildpath right now, any upcoming plans?

Wildpath: We’re planning to keep promoting Disclosure in France, and if we have the opportunity, in Europe. In 2016, we recorded Still: Acoustic Live Experience. With this album, we want to be able to play our music in any place, not necessarily in a concert hall. Several acoustic shows are already planned. We also try to keep Wildpath active on internet, with music on free streaming, and with videos and various bonuses for our community… We’ve just started thinking about the next album by the way!

Mick: What is the hardest thing you have had to overcome and how did you overcome it?

Wildpath: Disclosure, our last album, was really risk-taking. The style was different compared to our previous albums. We knew the public would have mixed opinions, but even when you’re prepared to that, it’s always a difficult step. We wanted this change and we had confidence in this new direction. We’re happy to see that we’ve touched new people, and that some of them didn’t even listen to symphonic metal before, and also, we kept a large majority of our fans.

Mick: Thank you for taking the time to chat with Valkyrian Music.

Words and Interview by Mick Birchall

Interview with Through The Cracks

Posted in Interview with tags , , , , , , , , on 30th September 2015 by Pieni

Just a little more than a year has passed but a lot has changed in Through The Cracks since I’ve last talked to founder Jimmy Bergman about it (read here); a new interview was in order. I amended that on the day the band played their first show (report here), catching up with them before soundcheck. It was a sunny afternoon in Gothenburg, so we had our interview outside, near the canal that runs close-by Sticky Fingers.

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Renata: hello boys and girl. Thank you so much for taking the time to talk to me on such an important day for you. When I interviewed Jimmy last year, Through The Cracks had a whole different line-up, so I’d like to start there. Sara, how did you join the band?

Sara Lindberg: Well, I knew Niklas (Aggemyr, bass) from before. He recorded me with my old glam rock band, Lazy Lizard, when I was just 16 years old. Then on Facebook he wrote me a couple of times “oh, come down and try out for my band”. But I was skeptic at first. I didn’t like what they were doing at the time, the song that he sent me, so I was always coming up with excuses like “I don’t know if I have the time”(laughs) But I ended up going to the studio and it was great fun. Especially because they said I could make changes, write new lyrics and new melodies, so it turned out a really good match.

Renata: I guess that’s an automatic “no” to my question regarding hearing the first two singles (“Breathless” and “Marionette”) with your voice…

Sara: Exactly! We’re not playing those songs!

Renata: I also read on Jimmy’s blog that you wanted to go heavier. How heavier?

Jimmy Bergman: Death metal! (everybody laughs)

Sara: A little bit more… progressive. I really like Alter Bridge because I love the way Myles Kennedy sings, with a lot of heart, a lot of soul… it’s beautiful! And the riffs and the music are heavy and still groovy… I think they’re more advanced than some of the other bands. And that’s the direction I want us to go. I want our music to touch people.

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Renata: Niklas, your turn: how did you go from producer to bass player? Do you even know how to play (laughs)?

Niklas: Yes, I promise! You’ll see it tonight. I’ve actually played bass for some 20 years now. I think it was when we recorded “Marionette” in my studio that Jimmy asked me to join the band. I thought “yeah, what the hell”.

Jimmy: But it was when he toured with The End Of Grace (Jimmy’s other band – Niklas replaed bass player Johan Hagman while the latter was on paternity leave) that I thought of it. That tour was his trial by fire. (grins)

Renata: And since we’re talking about TEoG… Andreas, how did you ended up replacing Daniel (Holmgren, currently studying in U.S.A.)? You actually like it or you’re just giving a helping hand to your band mate Jimmy?

Andreas Hagman: Well, to be honest… this sucks. (everybody laughs) No, it was Sara who came to me at a gig and said they needed a stand-in drummer. I don’t know if they were desperate or if she wanted me…

Sara, interrupting: No! I really thought Andreas was good.

Andreas: So she asked me if I wanted to join the band, I said I’d think about it… But then I heard the demos she sent me and I really liked it. I think this band is stepping up their game and can go far, so even just as a stand-in member, I’m stoked.

Renata: Well, you’re in the promo shots, so…

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Sara: Yeah, he’s part of the band! (Note: meanwhile, it seems that Daniel isn’t coming back and Andreas was made full-time member of Through The Cracks).

Renata: And how’s the songwriting process? Everybody’s involved or Jimmy’s the big boss?

Niklas: The thing is that Jimmy works like two hours a day… (everybody laughs) No, I’m joking, but he has more free time than the rest of us and so he sits down and works on the songs. But that’s cool ‘cause he has great ideas and records many great songs. Then he sends them to the rest of us and we let Sara take on the lyrics and the melodies, but we all add a little something to the process, we all have a saying in it.

Sara: Jimmy isn’t a dictator. (grins)

Renata: And how do you write the lyrics, Sara? You think of a theme you want to approach and you adapt it to the song, or it’s the song that inspires the lyrics?

Sara: The latter. When Jimmy sends his stuff over, I try to figure out some fitting lyrics to that melody, to that vibe. If it’s a sad song it’s got sad lyrics, if it’s an angry song, I’ll write about something that makes me mad…

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Jimmy (joking): She writes angry songs about meatballs. (everybody laughs)

Sara: I write songs about Jimmy being a dork. (grins) But my dad actually said to my mom that if “Mother” was about her, then “Hateful Things” had to be about him. (laughs) But he was joking.

Renata: And favorite songs? Which is your favorite?

Sara, Jimmy and Andreas: “Soulless Man”!

Niklas: Yeah, the new song is good, but my favorite is “Learn To Run”.

Sara: That’s because you sing on it!

Niklas: No, it’s not because of that! I really think that that song has something more than the others, much more spirit in it.

Sara: Well, one of the reasons I prefer “Soulless Man” it’s because it’s challenging to sing it. It’s not hard but it gives me the chance to show a side of my voice that I really like to use, that it’s fun to use.

Renata: And when will we be able to hear this new song?

Niklas: Well, you’re going to hear it tonight (grins). We’ll release it as a single this autumn. Then after the New Year we should return to the studio. We haven’t decided yet if it’s going to be an EP or a full album; we’ll see how many songs we come up with. But we’ll be working on it and we’ll be posting updates on Facebook, so stay tuned.

Renata: Jimmy, Through The Cracks is your baby. When you started it out a little over a year ago, did you think this is where you’d be today?

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Niklas: Did you think you’d have me in your band? (everybody laughs)

Jimmy: No, to be honest no. Through The Cracks started as a ballad project, with lots of string arrangements. But I like heavier songs and I think that now we have a great mix of both, so we’re going in the right direction. Our new song, for instance. “Soulless Man” is groovy, has more riffing and not so many back tracks. That’s what I want for Through The Cracks now.

Renata: And expectations for tonight?

Jimmy (quoting The End Of Grace): World domination! (everybody laughs)

Sara: That nobody fucks up. And that there will be a lot of people coming to see us. This is my first gig outside of Stockholm so I’m a bit nervous but also excited for having new faces seeing me. I hope they see us and think “look at them, what a cool band!”. I hope they’ll like us.

Renata: I’m sure they will. Thanks again for this little chat and see you in a couple of hours, on stage!

Through The Cracks: Thanks for your support!

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www.facebook.com/ThroughTheCracksBand

Text & photos by Renata “Pieni” Lino

Penicuik’s annual BOB Fest is ten years old this summer!

Posted in Interview with tags , , , , on 13th March 2015 by Paul Macmillan

It’s a well-known fact amongst those familiar with the live UK music scene that small festivals and yearly events have come up along with the big boys in recent years. New yearly events spring up all the time. As well as applying to most genres, it also applies to most regions. Scotland is no different, giving fans the option of almost year round metal entertainment, with repeating events which are a little something more than just another gig.
One such event, and one of the longest running north of the border, is BOB Fest. Based in Penicuik, Midlothian, it has been running every year since 2006, operating an open air format when weather permits. Valkyrian music caught up with organiser Luke James – who also plays for Dog Tired and Torn Face – to interrogate him about the projects ins, outs, ups and downs.

Luke James

Valkyrian Music: Hey Luke, how are you doing today?
Luke James: Alright man, doing away

VM: Thanks for taking time to talk about BOB Fest!
LJ: No worries, happy to!

VM: I guess the first and foremost question is ‘Why?’. What made you want to start BOB Fest all those years ago?
LJ: We started putting on our own gigs in Penicuik all those years ago because there was absolutely nothing happening with live music. The first few we put on were a success so we thought we would ramp it up and make the all-dayer, BOB FEST!

VM: We? So you don’t run it alone – there’s a team?
LJ: I run it alone but back in the first BOB we were all total broke. Fresh out of school and no job in sight. The Penicuik Town hall were thieving goons, and demanded a ridiculous price for the hall, so the only way we managed to book the gig was if all the bands chipped in for the price of the hall, and we would pay everyone back at the end. That’s why there was a ‘We’; because there was no way I could have started this without the other bands help. Once I got a job and rationed my beer money, by BOB fest 2 I footed the bills myself. Been doing so ever since. I will give credit to Barry (Buchanan) from Dog Tired, too, though. He has helped out ever since he started in DT.

VM: It’s good to acknowledge your roots!
LJ: Definitely!

VM: What is the ethos of the event? How do you pick the line-up?
LJ: The ethos from day one is that it’s a festival built for having fun! BOB FEST is always full of people wanting to have a great time. Since BOB FEST 1 there has always been a friendly, drunken, family atmosphere, where people pit and worship Heavy Metal. I like to think that the bands that play let go and really enjoy themselves. At BOB there’s nothing to prove. It’s just a group of like-minded people partying. A lot of the bands that have played in past Bobs I had seen live, playing alongside them over the years in Dog Tired and Torn Face. This doesn’t mean that it’s just mates that play; if people are interested in playing, message the Bob fest page and I’ll get back to them.

VM: Quite a community spirit, then.
LJ: Definitely! Penicuik has a unique Metal community and spirit. They will burst out laughing reading that. Somehow, this scaffy wee town in Midlothian has always had a belting metal scene.

VM: What do you think has been the hardest thing about running BOB Fest?
LJ: Bands not showing and cancelling either on the day, or the night before. That sucks major balls. The main challenge is the weather. In 2012 I put Bob Fest 6 out in the green for an open air experience. It was an incredible day, sun blazing and the smell of beer and spew in the air! What was also great was the fact that the whole town heard it! Tonnes of complaints naturally flooded The Craigiebield after, and the police arrived, but it was a day I will never forget. I planned to do this in 8 and 9 but the Penicuik weather system had another agenda. It rained so much 2 days before, that – on both occasions – the grass was actually flooded. There was not even a chance of putting up a gazebo, unless a band were happy sinking into the ground during the solo. The amount of effort that goes into organising an open air gig for it to rain last minute is extremely frustrating. Perhaps in the future I’ll give it another shot, but not this year.

VM: Do you have any favourite moments that still stick out in your mind?
LJ: Too many! Where to begin? Adam Poustie from Edgeville Hellride’s victory speech after the cake eating competition was legendary. The faces of the poor folk that got involved in the chilli eating competition will never be forgotten, either. I think people nearly died that day.

LJ: There have been so many great bands that have played that I couldn’t mention all the highlights I remember. Having crowd pleasers Certain Death, epic tyrants Firebrand Super Rock, Achren and Man of the Hour definitely ruled though. Back in BOB 1 it was bring your own booze! Many ridiculous moments then. 10 years on, its still going strong, with a growing fan-base.

VM: Ten years is a long time! Have you ever felt like packing it in?
LJ: It is a long time. I’ve thought about, maybe, in the far future, passing it down to someone. I would love to be wheeled into BOB FEST 30 as an old man. It is that one day of the year that people from all over join friends and family, and party listening to metal. I don’t think there is any need to stop that.

VM: Are you happy, then, with where the show is now, or do you have ambitions to take it somewhere new?
LJ: I’m always looking to make BOB FEST bigger and better every year. Whether that be the annual eating competition, or the bands I am booking. This year will also be Dog Tired’s 10th anniversary, so I’m planning to make it huge.

BOB Fest 10 - BOBSTOCK

VM: Sounds like it’ll be a huge blow out, then! You guys party hard!
LJ: Penicuik parties hard!

VM: Indeed! Well, that about wraps it up. Thank you again for your time! Do you have any closing advice for those thinking of taking on a similar event?
LJ: Thanks man. For advice I’d say go for it! If you want to make your own night/alldayer/festival’ it can be done! Get all the essentials booked in place well before the event. Things like backline/P.A/stage, if needed. Then promote it! A Facebook event page won’t do. Poster the surrounding area, and get friends to help with flyering. Be kind to all bands that are playing, and make sure you compensate bands that travelled from further afield. We all love metal, but we’ve all got to make ends meet.

by Paul Macmillan

BOB FEST 10 takes place on Saturday the 18th of July at the Craigiebield House Hotel In Penicuik. Tickets will be available at the door. The event page and the bands will be announced soon.

Interview with Gehennah’s Rob Stringburner

Posted in Interview with tags , , , , , , on 16th February 2015 by Paul Macmillan

Having a history of active service in the ranks of metal stretching back to the early 1990s, Swedes Gehennah have seen their fair share of ups and downs over the years. However, the recent high point in signing with Metal Blade records seems to have breathed new life into this particular sleeping dragon. Valkyrian Music quizzes guitarist Rob Stringburner.

Gehennah

Paul: First up, while the Metal Police title was used on last year’s EP, the material on the 2015 long player also consists of re-recorded versions of older tracks, and the sound is pretty different. Is it more in line with what you had originally imagined?

Rob: That’s a good question. Back in the day we didn’t care that much about the sound, we just played on any equipment we stumbled upon, and, once in the studio, we got in and out as fast as we could, with just a few moments of setting up the sound. I remember that I specifically asked for ear-splitting cymbals like on ”Blood Fire Death” at one point, but I don’t think we ever managed that. In the end, the drinks were a lot more interesting.
Regarding the new versions, I think we play them a bit better, more groovy, but, yes, perhaps a bit slower. The actual production of those six songs didn’t turn out exactly as we wanted, not like the other 6 from the original EP-session, but it’s OK I guess. Mostly, we had a lot of issues with the mixing phase, and also this time around we only spent three or four hours in the studio recording!

Paul: When I listened to the album, I heard an obvious leaning towards the Venom sound, but there seem to be a lot more intangible influences throughout. Who else has helped to shape the sound?

Rob: Yeah, Venom was the main influence from the beginning, and we were huge fans of the ’80s harder metal scene, with bands like Destruction, Sodom and Celtic Frost, but we also grew up straight into the Death and Black Metal scene, so we took a lot of influences from there as well. For example, the first song we ever rehearsed back in ’92 was a cover of Beherit’s Unholy Pagan Fire, since we found Venom too complicated, and we’ve listened to a lot of punk and hard-core, too! Can’t forget about Motörhead either! Anyway, I’d have to write a way too long list to include all the obscure bands we’ve taken ideas from.

Paul: Have you picked up any new influences in recent years?

Rob: Well, we have of course listened to music for another 20 years so I guess it’s bound to happen, but as far as the song writing goes, we try to stay in the same style as we did before. I think for my part that my solos have become even more rock ’n’ roll and country-influenced, perhaps, but then again I could never play ”metal”-type solos.
Ronnie Ripper was one of our main songwriters before, so his departure has obviously changed things a bit, but I think that Charley has added a thing of his own that fits perfectly into our sound.

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Paul: Kicking off in 1992, you landed smack bang between the original wave of NWOBHM and the current musical climate which seems to crave more and more retro styles. Do you think you were born too early or too late?

Rob: Always wondered that myself. We were certainly born wrong in some way! Even if we took a lot of influences from the ’80s, when we started out I don’t think we’ve ever been retro. We just didn’t include the keyboards, angeline female vocals or rap into our music like others did at the time.

Paul: A lot of bands aim for that old school sound, but few actually achieve it without sounding a bit contrived. Do you think it’s possible to emulate the vibe, or is it just something you grew up with?

Rob: I guess for us we have never tried to sound ”old”, we just did what we wanted to do and had mostly old favorite bands, but perhaps you end up sounding contrived when you set your sights on a certain sound that has already been done, in any way, it will not be entirely you. I think that there are perhaps a bit too many “role playing” bands around these days. We like a lot of old bands but I don’t think we aim to sound old specifically, just right.

Paul: I think one of the great things about the Gehennah is that you have fun with the lyrics and subject matter, but still have serious song-writing as a back-bone. Do you think some bands take the ‘having a laugh’ thing too far?

Rob: Thanks, that’s exactly what we’re trying to do! I agree that it’s a fine line between being a band that have fun and being a comedy band.

Paul: As a collection of new material and classic tracks, Metal Police seems like a full release unto itself. Are there any murmurings in the Gehennah camp of a complete album of new material?

Rob: Yeah, we’re writing a new album as we speak! Why this release ended up as it did was more of a coincidence. When we recorded the EP in 2013 we just recorded the first songs we wrote with the new line-up to get something out there as soon as possible, and when Metal Blade picked it up they asked us to fill it out with something so they could do a proper release.

Paul: Underground thrash is on the rise again, at least in the UK. Would you ever consider doing another Headbangers Against Disco, like you did with Sabbat and others in the late 1990s?

Rob: Of course that would be cool! It was actually our old label Primitive Art Records’ idea to do the releases, and I guess we’d need devoted people like that again to realize such plans. As far as the actual HAD-membership club goes, I don’t think we’ll ever have the time to start that up again, but it was great times with cool parties while it lasted.

Paul: What plans, if any, do you have to take this on the road (or to Britain, to be precise)?

995031_697785776938673_588357176_nRob: As I’m writing this, we have just got back from a small tour in Italy, and we’re gonna focus on the album a while now, with just the odd gig in Sweden during the spring, but as soon as we get the new album recorded we’ll try to hit the road! Hopefully UK of course. Never played there before, and that’s of course a cryin’ shame as it’s the home of so much legendary stuff. Promoters get in touch!

Paul: Do you have anything else to say before we wrap up?

Rob: Thanks a lot for the support, and watch out for a new album, and perhaps even Gehennah showing up at your doorstep in the future!

Interview by Paul Macmillan