Who is this REX SHACHATH and why did you choose it as your band name?
-We are a death metal band based in Belfast Northern Ireland. The band is made up of 5 members; Andrew Pennington (Guitar) and Jay Rodgers (Drums) of Overoth, Jonathan ‘Frankie’ Francis (Guitar) and Eddie West (Bass) of now split Sadisture and myself Dave Connolly (Vocals).
The name Rex Shachath came around very shortly before we entered ‘The Oaks’ studio in Enniskillen to record ‘Sepulchral Torment’ with John Moffatt. We had a few ideas being bounced back and forth but they never seemed to fit with the music of the band. Eventually while listening to The Rotted’s ‘Ad nauseam’ album, ‘Rex Oblivione’ track, Rex Shachath came to my mind and I threw it out there for the rest of the band to judge and it quickly then became the name in which we would release our music.
It’s actually a mix of two languages. Rex, (pronounced rex) is a Latin word and it means The Reigning King. Shachath, (pronounced shack- ath) is a Hebrew word and it means to destroy, decay, ruin, corrupt.
Death metal isn’t one homogenous genre so how do you go about choosing what direction you want to go in?
-To be honest we just write what we like to write. We don’t get too bogged down with trying to ensure we write with in certain genres of death metal. We all listen to death metal and all have our favourite bands so I’m sure bits and pieces of what we like to listen to creeps into our writing, but we don’t set out to be anything other than Rex Shachath. If we like it and deem it good enough to release then that is what we release. We will let the fans and critics try and pigeon hole us but we will not oppress ourselves into writing in any one direction.
When you play in a band is it important that you feel that you are a part of a scene?
-I think for a lot of bands and fans alike it is all about being part of a scene and community. Personally I’m not too worried whether I am part of a scene. I have my music and as long as I can write music and perform it then I am happy with that. It is important to have a stage to perform on and have fans but for me it’s more important to be able to write the music and see ideas take shape resulting in something I can be proud of.
What is the scene like for your kind of metal in your area?
-The scene here in Belfast isn’t great for death metal just now. Gigs are very hit and miss and turn outs do seem to be dwindling across the board. It could be the case that the Death metal generation here is getting older and the thought of weekly or even monthly Death metal gigs is too much or just the simple fact that the money to attend shows just isn’t there at the minute. With a lot of gigs of both big time and smaller bands happening between Dublin and Belfast the average punter just doesn’t have the funds to hit every show so the smaller underground bands suffer.
I do have to say though that the quality of Death metal here in Belfast and Ireland in general is very high! With bands like Overoth, Warpath, Zombified, Coldwar etc and the list does go on, we are definitely a country to watch in that respect.
How pleased are you with your latest recorded work? What kind of expectations do you have on it?
-The release we have out at the moment is our debut EP ‘Sepulchral Torment’. We are very pleased with what we have written and recorded to date. We set out to write death Metal the way we like it and that’s what we have done. We have had a lot of great reviews of both the EP and live set which at the minute sees the EP played in full with a few tracks that should appear on our next recording. Obviously with it only being first EP our expectations are merely to get our music out there and heard by fans of extreme music and we are achieving that. Also having just signed a deal with Metal Music At / GHM for the official release of ‘Sepulchral Torment’ in Europe this autumn we are exceeding our own expectations at this stage! This will be released initially as a limited edition digi-pack!
When you play extreme metal what is success to you? How do you define success?
-For me success in this case is defined by how you feel about your music. Can you stand by your music and say you are proud of it? Can you put your name to it and not feel the need to over compensate for how you feel about your music at the time saying ‘ oh our new stuff is way better’? if you can answer ‘yes’ to questions like this truthfully and feel proud in the music you play then you have success.
What did you expect to get out of being in a band? How has that turned out in hindsight?
-We have all played in bands in the past and know how it works, so thankfully hindsight is something we can avail of to an extent at this stage. We are under no disillusions of how hard it is to make money or become a top line band in this genre and if we wanted to make money we simply wouldn’t be in a band hahaha. We do however believe we have what it takes to be a top line band and we will learn from past mistakes and continue to write and improve. In terms of what we expect to get out of being in a band. We only expect to enjoy ourselves doing something we love, everything else we will work hard to achieve. We ‘expect’ to be gifted nothing.
How important is art work to define what kind of metal it is that you play?
-Artwork is very important in my eyes. Fans want the whole package, they want the music and imagery to go with it. It is important when releasing music that they art portrays the band and the musical direction they are going. For our ‘Sepulchral Torment’ artwork we were lucky enough to work with artist Juanjo Castellano to achieve the exact image we wanted that would best describe our music in a visual way. A lot of people will shop around for new bands looking at the art before they even listen to a sample. So if the listener knows they want to hear death metal then they will instantly be looking for artwork depicting demons, death, and all things disgusting really hahaha. When the eyes see the art the ears start then listening to the music and you have a new listener. So in that respect I believe artwork to be very important.
What part do the lyrics play in the concept of the band?
-In terms of a ‘concept for the band’ there isn’t really one. Just aggression and violence. I try to portray this through my vocals to try and ignite an emotion in the listener. Whether it be the same emotion I am feeling or not I must try to achieve this every time.
Each track will have a concept and when it comes to the lyrics I usually tackle a lot of societies issues whether it be a small local issue that I fabricate into a large scale issue to show how out of hand and ridiculous the situation is or full on war that I’ll translate into another situation to help the listener create their own meaning from what I’m vocalizing.
Other issues I’ll write about maybe spiritual, bordering supernatural in nature and very personal to an individual’s struggle in life and the human condition. It really depends on the mood I’m in myself hahaha if I’m pissed off you have a full scale war on your hands. If I’m feeling a bit more chilled then a more contemplative and well thought out structure and metaphorical track usually emerges.
What future awaits you?
-We are reaching the final stages of writing our next release which we hope to have out towards the end of 2013 early 2014. Its gonna be MASSIVE!!! We also have the official Limited Edition Digi-pack ‘Sepulchral Torment’ release coming in the autumn. Then we have some UK shows to come before the end of the year and beyond that we will continue to tour and play everywhere we can and ensure that Rex Shachath continues to grow!