More a secret than they should and deserve to be, UK metallers Tricore has been one of the most inventive and exhilarating bands within the British metal underground scene for close to a decade. With its member’s sister project An Entire Legion, the band has continued to intrigue, surprise, and thrill with an unpredictable and persistently adventurous intent in sound and ideation. Recently both bands released strikingly re-mixed and re-mastered versions of the albums Less than man…More than rabbit and Flame Wizard, from Tricore and An Entire Legion respectively. This gave The RingMaster Review a nudge to delve deeper into the bands which we had the pleasure of doing with vocalist/drummer Chris ‘Kerl’ Kerley, guitarist Mark Carstairs, and bassist Chris Allan who also kindly offered the opportunity to win a digital copy of both albums.
Hi Guys, welcome to the site and thanks for sharing your time with us.
Kerl: No worries man. It’s a pleasure. Thank you for being such a proponent of our music.
You have just released remixed and re-mastered versions of your Tricore debut album Less than man…More than rabbit and the Flame Wizard full-length as An Entire Legion. Before we take a closer look at the releases and yourselves can you clear up the situation with the projects as I know some people have been a little confused; are Tricore and An Entire Legion working as separate projects still, as I know there was talk of merging under just one name at one point?
Kerl: Haha, yea it can get a bit confusing. For us as well. The musicians are much the same in both projects but musically they generally differ. Tricore tracks are generally straight up heavier, riff driven, longer tracks, slightly more technical in parts. Legion tracks vary in tone more; the melodies take more of a front seat, tighter structures and catchier choruses.
Chris A: Though the lines have been blurred with the Flame Wizard release.
Kerl: Yea. It’s possible that future releases will be under legion because it’s the preferred name. Either that or we’ll make up another new name to piss more people off!
As it was the early days of Tricore where we first discovered your sounds, tell us about the beginning of the band and your musical histories up to that point.
Kerl: Tricore was formed in 2006.
Mark: I joined the band a month after it was formed and we did our first gig as Tricore only a couple of weeks after that!
Kerl: Yea you did well to get the shit down man. Before 2006 we were called Unbound. We named our debut EP after the old band. A few of the ideas on the Less than man…more than rabbit album came from the Unbound days. I’ve been in bands since I was like 13-14 playing drums. First band I was in was called Undercurrent. I only started getting heavily into song writing when I started Unbound in my late teens.
Mark: I also started playing in my teens back in Scotland. I was in a local band before moving down south.
Chris A: Same for me… Been in bands since my teens and all through my twenties. All of us come from similar musical backgrounds. All of us are self-taught.
The band’s sound is unique and distinct, wonderfully difficult to pin down. What have been the major inspirations to your ideas and music?
Kerl: Variety! Spice of life and all that. Same applies to music. Learning about and respecting different genres of music can only aid you when it comes to song writing. I grew up on a diet of mostly rock & metal in the nineties and always preferred the bands I felt “stood out”. Bands who had their own thing going on a la Korn, System of a down, Slipknot, Sikth, Incubus, Paradise Lost, before that Pantera, Nirvana, RATM and many more. As time went on my tasted broadened and I started listening to all sorts, from orchestral to indie to electronic, new and old. Like the bands above we always try to stand out with our music, whichever project we’re working on.
Mark: I’ve been influenced by pretty much the A to Z of heavy metal!
Kerl: Yea man, Marks got one of the largest cd collections I’ve ever seen. Its nuts!
Your first EP Unbound in 2007 made the first mark, increased dramatically by the Follow EP four years later but it is the Less than man…More than rabbit album which still rings the most potently with fans. Is that what you have found and why you have re-visited it for the new release?
Kerl: It was more about making the older releases sound as phat as possible. Less than man always felt a little too tinny to our ears which was a mix issue rather than a mastering one. Sean Magee did a great job at Abbey Road studios first time round. But we felt a re-mix and re-master would bring the music up into line.
How did you look at the album in regard to re-mastering and remixing it, where did you feel you could enhance its strengths and colour further?
Kerl: Everything needed at least a little tweaking. The vocals needed to be eq’d and brought forward, the guitars were given more thickness. The hi-end needed to be reduced universally. We met a great dude who mastered the new releases for us giving them the final polish they needed. And all for the right price! Which is always a factor when you’re producing yourself.
Was it the same reasons for re-working the Flame Wizard album under An Entire Legion too?
Kerl: Yes. Though those tracks were recorded more recently and had fared better. I think both releases are now really solid, production wise. I can’t see there’ll be a need to revisit them again. We’re not going to do a “George Lucas”.
When did An Entire Legion become a valid proposition alongside Tricore for your ideas and what inspired you to make the distinct separation?
Kerl: An Entire Legion was created in late 2009/10 primarily to go down a slightly more melodic route with our music.
Mark: Initially it was also a step we took in an attempt to find a drummer who could replace Chris, freeing him up to do vocals.
Kerl: Yea. The idea was that I’d remain on drums in Tricore and sing for Legion. Unfortunately we had no luck finding a suitable replacement on either drums or vocals.
Mark: Despite caining the auditions!
Kerl: I still remain doing both. After a while Legion became a place we could put those songs we felt didn’t quite fit under Tricore. Now it’s pretty much an anything goes, which is why both projects have blurred.
An entire legion
Did having the two projects on the go simultaneously make the songwriting a more interesting adventure and maybe more difficult. Deciding where melodies or, rhythmic twists as examples, would best fit?
Kerl: Luckily the writing for both releases was completed at separate times. Most of the music on Less than man was written in 2008. The tracks on Flame Wizard during 2011/12 so there were no difficulties due to overlapping. Though we have several projects we usually just focus on one at a time.
Have you a preference (not favourite) or find a greater ease in regard to the two bands when it comes to creating songs?
Kerl: Honestly no. I love creating music. I live for it. There’s no preference when it comes to band music for me, I just try and keep things interesting and distinctive.
Mark: Playing wise, I prefer the heavier tracks from any of our projects. But listening wise it’s great that we don’t limit ourselves and feel free enough to head down different routes when the itch arises.
Chris A: Yea I also appreciate the variety. As a player it keeps things interesting, challenging.
It seems like in the current climate of metal and rock; bands with something truly unique about them and their sound get passed over and often disappear far too soon. How have you guys managed to keep your passion and drive for two projects, three when we include Rind Skank, all this time criminally without the nationwide and beyond recognition we feel your music deserves?
Kerl: Cheers Pete man, awesome of you to say. It’s really easy to keep creating music because we love it but yea, things are tough out there right now. Zero exposure by mainstream media has kept some of the country’s best musicians and songwriters in relative obscurity.
Chris A: Piracy…
Kerl: Yep. Piracy has wrecked music sales, which used to be a vital revenue stream for bands. Heavier types of music are acutely affected by the loss of music sales because there are fewer ways to make up for the losses. Obtaining ad or film placements for heavy music, which can be a great source of income for songwriters in other genres, is rare. Touring is expensive and is not feasible for a lot bands without financial backing. Merch sales are directly linked to touring. Indie labels mostly sign what they know and what they feel safe taking on, so most of their rosters end up filled with bands that appear to be imitating one another. They can then group these guys up and send them out on hard-graft tours, which are rarely particularly lucrative. As for major labels, well they barely touch heavier acts. Why would they, there’s no longer any money in it. For us, like many bands, it’s difficult. We’ve lost key members in the past because they could no longer see a future in playing heavy music. Reality gets in the way of the ideal.
So my advice to anyone who wants to see the genre grow is to purchase the music of the bands whose music you enjoy. Purchase directly from them if possible. Keeping the industry financially healthy isn’t only about providing opportunities for current bands it’s for all the future ones as well.
Concerning how we personally keep driving forward. Pretty much by ignoring the above and crossing our fingers ;)
Briefly tell us about Rind Skank.
Kerl: Rind Skank is a rock/metal/dance fusion band we started in 2012. It was a chance to play around with things in another direction, which is always great fun.
Mark: We took out the need for a drummer by playing over synth beats, which gives us a project that we can play live as a three piece.
Chris A: Recently though we’ve been attempting to introduce acoustic drums into the mix, so we’ll see how that goes.
I believe there are a couple of previously unreleased tracks also within the new re-mastered releases. Tell us about them, they are brand new songs written recently?
Chris A: Yea, we released the tracks Richest Eyes and Twist the gimp on the Flame Wizard album. Both those songs were recorded in 2012 and were originally created for a different project, currently shelved. We dig the tracks and thought they’d fit well on the album. Both use more electronics than our other songs usually do. They’re also the only tracks I’m on because I only joined the band in 2012!
How does the songwriting work within the bands, is it the same method for both?
Kerl: I write the music for all the projects give or take some parts here and there and some of the solos (the better ones were written by Rich Wood). The process is usually – I write at home and then bring the songs down to practice where we can all pour over them.
What can new and especially existing fans specifically find different within the new outings for Flame Wizard and Less than man…More than rabbit from the originals to get their juices flowing again?
Kerl: Aside from the couple of new tracks on Flame Wizard it’s all about the production quality. We’ve just raised it up to a higher level than it was before. Considering our releases are self-produced with no fancy top end studio involved, I think we did a pretty good job.
What is the future for both Tricore and An Entire Legion, do you have specific plans or intent for 2014 and beyond with each?
Kerl: Nothing’s set in stone at the moment, though plenty of ideas. That’s the positive thing about being unsigned, no deadlines! Unfortunately there are some negatives. As the primary songwriter, these days, what I would like to do musically and what I have to do in order to make a living frequently conflict. Every time we record a significant amount of material, and I produce, it pretty much wipes out 3-4 months. That’s time we don’t get paid for up front. The main way to recoup is via sales of music and merch, which doesn’t cover it. The money we get from shows, when we’re able to play, is negligible.
Mark: Normally ends up costing us.
Any new songs and release on the horizons too?
Chris A: We have hopes to release a Rind Skank album at some point later this year, or maybe 2015. We may start a crowd-funding project to see if we can raise enough to make that feasible, which is something we’ve never done before
How about live, can we expect any venture on that side?
Kerl: Playing live has always been a rollercoaster for us. Constant line-up issues over the years have kept us grounded for a lot of the time. And I don’t mean that to sound like we’re a revolving door band with new members every week. Quite the opposite, our problems are finding the right people in the first place…People with the musical chops and a good working ethos. We’re looking forward to getting a more stable line-up and playing live more frequently.
Where is the best place for people to keep up with all things Tricore and An Entire Legion?
Kerl: Any of these sites,
Our bandcamp page for releases – http://tricore.bandcamp.com/
Our MySpace or Facebook for updates – https://myspace.com/thetricore
Or our hub site – http://tricor1.wix.com/underdogelite
Thanks once more for talking with us, any last thoughts you would like to share?
Kerl: It was an absolute pleasure man. Keep up the great work!
Chris A: Great talk dude.
To win a digital copy of Less than man…More than rabbit or Flame Wizard, simply check out the last Bone Orchard podcast @ www.audioburger.com and tell us which Tricore track was featured in the comment box below. Closing date for entries is Sunday June 8th
The RingMaster Review 22/05/2014
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