BULLETBELT/RED DAWN common denominator is Steve Francis. Instead of doing two separate interviews I thought I’d do one where he gets to introduce both bands at once. Anders Ekdahl ©2011

OK. Let us begin with a short description of the two bands Bulletbelt and Red Dawn so that we know what we are dealing with. Tell us how these two bands differ from each other?
-Bulletbelt was formed 3 years ago with intention of being a black metal band, influenced by the Norway classic bands. As the line-up has changed we has found our own sound and now have a Bulletbelt style. We are still based in Black metal, but aren’t afraid to add over influences. We are all metal heads, and listen to a wide range of metal. Red Dawn is trad/thrashy. We have a clean vocalist who can sing! The riffs are a bit more technical and the song structure is more trad metal

Not being a musician I have no idea what it is like to write music but I imagine that it can by laborious writing for just one band, let alone two. Do you write music with each band in mind or how do you do it?
-Yeah i find it easy to separate the 2 bands. Both bands write by the guitarists bring riffs/basic song structures to the table. The rest of the band then add their parts. It can take months of tinkering to get to the finished product. The part I enjoy the most is the arranging of the songs. Making sure the riffs work together, and finding the best ways to change from part to part. There is nothing Laborious about song writing. It’s actually very exciting seeing a song come to life from beginning to end.

When you act as the spider in the web how do you find time and how do you divide it between two bands? Does it require special planning skills?
-Yes!! As you can imagine trying to organize 4-5 guys to do anything is a mission. Yeah so just planning ahead, making sure my bands gigs don’t clash and generally harassing some of the other guys to get their shit together! Some gigs Red Dawn and Bulletbelt play on the same bill, so I do double duty, which I enjoy.

How do you prioritize the bands? What if one band becomes more popular than the other?
-They are both separate things and I enjoy them equally. Sometimes one band is busier than the other so I am more focused on that I, but they are both my babies, and in my eyes they are both important. The funny thing is at the moment Bulletbelt is probably doing better and is more well known that Red Dawn, yet Red Dawn has a bigger possibility of widespread support due to the music being more accessible to Joe average metalhead. We’ll see what the future holds!

Being from New Zealand can’t be easy even with today’s technological advances. You are so far away from the rest of the world time wise. How do you handle the band matters when everybody else’s is sleeping?
-I think it’s probably an advantage. Being from ‘Down under’ we don’t have 100 bands that all sound the same like in the USA or what not. We hopefully have something different to offer. The biggest bummer as a metalhead in NZ is the lack of overseas bands that play here. Especially in Wellington where I live we get fuck all international bands through. Obviously we are dedicated metal heads, so we fly to Auckland to see any good bands. It does make these gigs a lot more special though.

I can imagine that playing in different bands give you different pleasures but what is it that is so great with being in a band?
-Being in a band is about getting to create something out of nothing. To use your instruments to channel your energy and influences into a very loud powerful noise. The practice or gig when it all clicks and you all play great is amazing. Maybe even as good as sex!

Then there is the question of finding a label that wants to release your music. I’ve only come upon one metal label from New Zealand and that was only a small underground one pretty much specializing in CDr releases. How hard is it to find the right people to work with?
-So far for both my bands it is DIY. In terms of releasing stuff, distros are the way to go. I think it is best to be in charge of all your own stuff. You can then get everything how you want it. From what I understand these days, being on a label is like having a very bad bank loan! We are passionate about all facets of the band(s), so we have full involvement in everything.

As for responses, what kind have you had and which band has fared the best so far?
-As I mentioned before, Bulletbelt has probably been more active and accomplished more at this point, but Red Dawn has more (I hate using this phrase) commercial potential.

When one band gets more attention than the other, what kind of emotions does that bring up?
-I’m not sure. Being in the middle I try and give as much energy to both bands equally. The music is so different in each band, and the personalities, it’s easy to separate. But yeah I assume some of the other guys may feel weird sometimes? I don’t know. I can satisfy 2 women at once! haha

What’s the live scene like in New Zealand? Does the north island differ from the south island?
-Very scattered. There isn’t really a scene as such. Seeing as we’re a small country you end up playing on many diverse bills. You may play with a Thrash band, and Death metal band and a rock band all on the same night! But there are some cool bands doing their own thing. The crowds at metal gigs can really vary. Anywhere from 200 to 5 and a dog! I guess it’s a small scene and everyone knows everyone. I think in general though people are getting fat and lazy, spending too much time downloading shit and not getting out and supporting live metal.

What can we expect in the future from Red Dawn and Bulletbelt?
-Both bands will continue releasing music and playing live and slowly building. We are doing this first and foremost for the love of metal. Bulletbelt will be recording a new EP early next year and will then gig around NZ. We are also keen to get to Australia, so that is on the cards. We will be releasing a split vinyl with another Wellington black metal band next year. Red Dawn is in songwriting mode at the moment, then when we have our next batch of songs ready we’ll hit the studio. Busy times!
Thank you Anders for the interview, and good luck with your awesome magazine Battle Helm!

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