There was a time when UK death/thrash was doing the rounds regularly on my turn table but that was a longtime ago. Perhaps that is about to change starting with THE BLEEDING Anders Ekdahl ©2017
Every band has to introduce their music to new people. What is it that you want people to get from listening to you guys?
Sean: I think we really just want the chance to get the new album, Rites of Absolution, out there for people to hear and come to their own conclusions.
I’ve had a copy since it was mastered and I listen to it all the time. Naturally I’m biased, but I really enjoy it still, and I’d like to think I’d be a big fan of this music even if I wasn’t in the band.
If people are into it then that’s awesome. We want to keep making music and playing live, and building a fanbase that enables us to do that would be amazing.
How hard was it for you guys to pick a name? What had that name have to have to fit your music?
Sean: Jamie, James and I all actually joined the band after the first record that Tasos made with The Bleeding, Death Eternal, and a demo preceding that. So we were coming from a position of knowing what to expect, and knowing that this was going to get the kind of music that we were into, but also with the opportunity to put our own stamp on it.
I don’t think any of us would be here if we weren’t already big fans of this music and didn’t have the appetite to take it forward and develop it further with Tasos on the foundations he’s laid out.
Everybody is influenced by certain things. What band(s) was it that turned you on to the kind of music you play? What inspires you today?
Sean: Beyond just other music, I think there is a lot about the world we live in today that can inspire, particularly for music like ours. Whatever your own personal outlook, I think it’s clear that we are living in “interesting times”, for better or worse, and as such you don’t have to look too hard for a topic to write lyrics about or for something that prompts you to write an angry riff, say.
The album wears one of our big musical influences on its sleeve, closing out in tribute to Chuck Shuldiner with a cover of ‘Open Casket’ from Death’s Leprosy album. We’re really pleased with how that’s turned out and hope it’s seen as a fitting tribute; it also just seems to mesh with the themes of the album so well in a way which wasn’t really deliberate but works well.
I think we all personally have different tastes which overlap. Tasos and Jamie I think lean towards the more classic thrash and death metal ends of the spectrum, whereas James and I are perhaps more into some of the modern progressive metal scene. But I think most importantly we all have a shared appreciation of metal generally, and while we can all bring out these influences in our playing we have a core overlap of interest in the sound of this band.
When you formed did you do so with the intent of knowing what to play or did you do so from the point of having a band name and then picking a sound? How did you settle on the name/sound combo?
Sean: Again, the rest of us joined this band after the first record so we knew the general area the band’s sound at that point was coming from and the kind of vision Tasos had. The songs that make up Rites were at differing stages of readiness when we came together, Jamie has written a couple and I contributed in parts, so we were also able to provide our input as well. But it all came from the starting point of being into what Tasos did with Jeff, Themis and Dimitris the first time around on Death Eternal and wanting to make more heavy music like that.
I believe that digital is killing the album format. People’s changing habit of how they listen to music will result in there being no albums. Is there anything good with releasing single tracks only?
Sean: I think there will always be a place for the album. Especially for bands, just in terms of the work involved it’s such a commitment of multiple persons’ time and effort to come together and write and record music that the album is for me still the most logical and efficient way to do that and put out a cohesive, tangible product.
Even to the extent that digital methods and channels have made it much easier to produce and put that music out there, I think an album is still a portfolio of work and an important statement from the artist saying “this is who we are right now”, and I don’t think drip-feeding material out as single tracks can fully replicate that.
As a fan, I still want to hear albums. I might like to hear a song or two here or there as a sample of a band, but if I’m into them I want to hear the album. If I enjoy the album then I want to go see them live. If I enjoy them live, maybe I buy the t-shirt.
I want to hear a band I like play material from the latest album if I’m into it; on the other hand if I’m not enjoying the latest album I’ll often skip the tour even if it’s a band I otherwise love. For me it’s all so intrinsically linked.
None of that is to say releasing standalone tracks can’t work either; it’s just what works for you, your material and your scene best. If you go back far enough in the past the single was a much bigger thing than the album as well, for now perhaps the cycle is just swinging back around this way again in terms of what is viable.
What part does art-work and lay-out play when you release new recordings? How do you best catch people’s attention?
Sean: Even though the role and importance of the physical product itself may be changing, good, eye-catching and identifiable artwork can still play a big role for me. The considerations behind it might be different now given the different channels that music might be heard via.
But this has been true historically anyway; artwork had to work on vinyl slipcases, then cassette boxes, then CD covers, now online; as well as some of the aforementioned – particularly vinyl – having a resurgence. Each format just presents its own opportunities and drawbacks, for instance, will our art look good in a Youtube video these days? You can’t hide from change or pretend it’s not happening, but you can work with it and make the best of it.
Having good art has always been important for me and I think is such an eye-carching, almost defining feature of many bands. You’ve got the classic Iron Maiden art which is instantly identifiable, the classic Megadeth and Metallica covers for instance. These days, I think John Dyer Baizley’s work is the most recognisable there is, I’m a huge fan and his work for Baroness, Kvelertak, Skeletonwitch and so on are modern classics which take on a life in their own right.
I think the art for Rites of Absolution is in this vein. Dedy/Badic did a phenomenal job taking our rough concept and turning into a visceral, bold image that links to the concept of the title track and I think it will come to be very memorable, tying this together throughout the layouts for the CD cases and on the t-shirt designs.
Has social media re-written the rules on how to promote your music? Or do you go about doing promotion the same way?
Sean: This is all very new to us, but I think the goal of promotion has always been to stick in peoples’ heads and get to that word-of-mouth level, having people talking about you and spreading awareness. If you can’t achieve that, you can bang a drum and shout how great you are all you like, however you like, but you won’t be getting anywhere.
A big part of that is having the right material to make sure that it can get through. But obviously you have to then get the message out. Social media is just another, if much more direct, method of doing that.
I think the most important but difficult element of whatever channel you use has to be getting that interaction with people started, and perhaps social media is the easiest means of that nowadays. It allows a much more personal connection than was previously possible other than perhaps in directly meeting the bands.
When you play in a band, does that make you feel like you are a part of a scene, of something bigger and grander?
Sean: I love the music scene, I love going to see bands with friends, being part of the crowd. It’s a massive social movement. Every genre has its own styles, means and methods, but ultimately I think it’s about coming together with people with whom you have a common interest. You may differ in so many other ways, but this is a thing you’re united on.
The idea that we could contribute to that, that people enjoy our music, might want to come and see us live and be part of that is simply amazing, and I hope we can really build on that. I want people to want to listen to us, to come see us, to have a good time with us. I love playing and making music in and of itself, but this has to be the goal of actually releasing music for me.
How much of a touring band are you? Is touring/gigging still a great way of spreading the word of the band?
Sean: Since we got this lineup together we’ve been working on the album and we’re really proud of what we’ve achieved, and now we definitely want to bring that to the live setting as well. The album comes out early summer and we’re hoping to follow that out with some great shows, festivals, and so on and build from there. We’re London-based, but spreading our wings and being able to play further afield would be great too.
On the agenda currently we’ve got our second show in the Metal 2 The Masses competition at Nambucca on Sunday 2nd April. We’re fighting for a place at Bloodstock Open Air in that which would be amazing, but we’re also really enjoying getting to play at a great venue with a cool crowd. Hopefully we can fill out that schedule more soon!
The live experience is for me, the core essence of music. I listen to music all of the time, but nothing compares to the experience of a great gig. I think it connects you with people so much more directly. There are now many easier and more convenient routes to reach people, but I don’t think anything will ever compare to being in the same place at the same time and sharing that real experience with someone.
What will the future bring?
Sean: Rites of Absolution is out on Friday 19th May and we’re really looking forward to getting that out there for people to hear after the work we’ve put into the record.
We’ve already released the title track, which you can find on our facebook page, so please check that out and give us a follow there. We’re anticipating getting another track or two out there with videos before the release date, so keep your eyes out for those and circle 19th May in your calendars and remember to check out the album!
We’re looking to add more shows to the schedule in support of the album also.
Not resting on our laurels either, we’ve already got some new material in the works. I think we’ve really learned a ton about how we work together as a band through the process of making Rites, being our first album together, and I’m really looking forward to putting that all into practice again with writing new material for the next album… so keep watching this space!