Easily one of the biggest thrills is when a band or release hits right out from the blue and emerges as something to ignite the deepest passions and satisfaction. One such mighty example came through the album Hail To The River Gods from Northern Ireland metalers Triggermen. The album was a rampant tenderising of the senses by an irresistible blend of metal, stoner, and classic rock with a wealth of other strong spices to make for one bruising glorious enjoyment. Yes we rather liked it! To find out more about the release, band, and life as a rock band in Northern Ireland, we had the pleasure of chatting to vocalist and guitarist Bap.
Hello Bap and a big thanks for taking time to talk with us.
No problem at all…Thank you for reviewing the cd…
We must before going on say thank you to you for approaching us about reviewing your excellent new album Hail To The River Gods, as sadly if you had not we still might not be aware of the band. Even in the big open to all and easy to access world of the internet does it frustrate that it still is so easy to be missed?
We kind of adopt the attitude to just keep doing what we are doing no matter what because we just love playing rock music together, so frustration at that is not really a big issue with us although we are happy when more people hear our music. I think we only really get frustrated when the van or a piece of equipment breaks down thus getting in the way of playing….The internet really is what it is…To be heard above the rest you have to be better, stronger, louder and smarter or have a gimmick of some sort, and since we don’t have a gimmick we have to rely on using the other ways if we can.
Well… the band members are Rory on Drums, Niall on lead guitar, Dixie on bass and myself (Bap) on rhythm guitar and vocals. The band has been in existence for 10 years now but the current line up has been together for just over 2 and a half years . And we just love to play big riffs with loads of groove with a tale or two on top.
Do you have a musical history before Triggerman?
We have all played in various groups over the last 20+ years in Derry and have all known each other nearly as long as Derry has such a close knit musical community, so it was probably just a matter of time before we eventually all played together.
The band name is dramatic and direct, is its inspiration as obvious as one imagines?
We spotted the name in a newspaper not long before the band played its very first gig. We were looking for a one word name and it just seemed to stick out. There are no connotations to it at all other than it seems to suit big riff music….Although if we ever get a female member we may have to rethink the name of the band…haha…
As mentioned your latest album Hail To The River Gods has just been out a matter of weeks. We described it as having ‘the rhythmic bombardment of a Black Tusk, the monster riffs of a Mastodon, and the mischievous grooves of a Red Fang’. Is that close and how would you describe it?
Jeez! That’s esteemed company indeed…Well we do seem to fit in along with those bands alright, and we do listen to them loads…We have played with Mastodon way back in 07 although with a different line up and we seemed to go alright with their fans then……We have been categorized in with the stoner genre but the last time in the studio the engineer Frankie described it as Muscle Rock….It doesn’t really matter whatever way people describe it, it’s ok with us, as long as they are listening to it.
Hail To The River Gods has a great eclectic breath to its body which takes on many flavours. What are the biggest influences to you and those which have inspired the album?
Well musically we listen to anything from the bands you previously mentioned right through to folk music and everything in-between. We all love music that has a lot of integrity, strength and power in it and you can find that in the most unexpected places. There is so much out there to listen to and be influenced by outside rock music that we don’t want to miss out. A big inspiration lyrically would be folk music as I grew up listening to my father learning and singing songs all the time. The lyrics for the title track Hail to the River Gods are influenced by various Irish songs of men going to sea and leaving their loved ones behind. I loved the way that those songs can tell a whole story with a message that means something… and we do live in Derry, a city with a long connection with the sea. But also I do love the songs that are just all about drinking and having the craic too. One of the joys of growing up in Ireland.
In our correspondence with you it was mentioned that there would be a digital availability of previous album Brand New Day and that it was more similar to how you sound now. That kind of suggested Hail To The River Gods is a one off departure in sound and attack. Can you expand and explain exactly how it lies in context?
Brand New Day is a good introduction to the band. The songs though are quite similar in their tempos and pacing as over half of them were written before Rory joined the band. The song Voices which was the last song written for that cd, shows where we were going towards the next album (River Gods) with the drums opening up a lot more and bringing a lot more weight to the riffs. Hopefully we can expand on that even more in the future as the 4 of us have really gelled together and have really started to challenge each other. I am still really happy with Brand New Day and all of those songs still get played live.
Some of the songs on the album have a mythical theme such as Rage Of The Goddess and others like Rise Of The Woodsmen seem like a slab of historical life. Is there a connecting premise across the album?
There definitely is an earthy/mythological feel to the album and the songs do tend to connect with each other in different ways. Rage of the Goddess is a description of the earth and her different Celtic aspects and that if we turn our back on her she is not going to be happy, and you could say that Rise of the Woodsmen are the men who tend to her woods coming to her defence. I suppose the overall premise of the album is that everything is connected in some shape or fashion.
Referencing the earlier question about the sound of the band, is this lyrical direction on the new release your usual area or do you bring a more personal aspect lyrically on other songs?
I tend to fully write the lyrics after the music is finished but there may be a small idea or song title hanging around beforehand. Sometimes the feel of the music will influence the lyric writing, or a song title may influence the tempo or riffs such as the title track. The riffs in the title track just seem to have the feel of the sea. Each of the songs does have a personal meaning to me in that the lyrics evoke personal memories or feelings or is just how I feel about things. When the lyrics are connected to yourself then I feel you are able to deliver them with ultimate conviction, and I am extremely lucky and grateful that the rest of the band gives me free reign to do that.
What inspires your ideas for songs predominantly?
Well musically we are all involved and because there are so many influences in there it’s hard to pin down what is the predominant influence. It may just take a drum beat or a riff to start things off. For example Thon Strange Brew came completely off the back of a drum rhythm which Rory played and really didn’t take that long to put together once Dixie locked in with him. The lyrics for said song then all just seemed to arrive at once. As for the solos Niall tends to rip it out according to how the tune feels or flows… He plays what’s right for the tune from being minimal on Thon Strange Brew to ripping it out on Rage of the Goddess…He’s a gifted wee fecker so he is.
From the big sounds you create one imagines you are a band which plays around with epic noises and towering riffs etc until a song seeds itself. What is the reality of how the songwriting happens within the band?
As far as creating the noise goes we are quite minimalist and simplistic in our approach. I don’t use any effects pedals at all and just rely on the tone of the guitar and the amp head. Dixie our bass player is the same and Niall would use a distortion and wah pedal. Keeping it simple seems to work for us. As far as song writing goes there is no set formula. Sometimes it will start with a riff or a beat. In saying that as the music is not very complicated the riff needs to have a certain character all its own so it can take a while for it to come along, which is why we aren’t always the quickest when it comes to writing. But we are happy to wait because we want to enjoy playing the songs for as long as possible, not drop them from a set after half a dozen outings.
Are the things which inspired and influenced you as musicians and a band still the same a decade or so on or have they like the band, evolved?
Well new bands always come along with new ideas which make you take notice and think “that’s really interesting”. But I think we are still pretty much still influenced by the fundamental principles of song writing which is to write songs which hopefully capture the listener from start to finish with a strong rhythm and a good story/message on top all finished off with a scorching/sublime lead guitar to hopefully make it sparkle…Well we are hoping so anyway…lol
Not necessarily…You just have to look at the likes of Clutch and Mastodon who have been playing together for a long, long time and look set to continue to do so thankfully. Some musicians just find the right combination right at the start and others later on. And some musicians just like exploring new horizons with different players throughout their careers. That’s the beauty of playing music, there are infinite combinations and I am pretty sure there is a combination out there somewhere which will push rock music into the next universe…I don’t know if it will happen in my lifetime though, but I live in hope…
Northern Ireland seems very alive with rock and metal bands right now, what is the reality there?
Rock/metal music is definitely making big strides here and making its presence felt. It has always been there, and I think its honesty and consistency along with bands really becoming savvy with the internet and getting their message across more effectively seems to be really hitting a chord with a lot of people who would only have received their music through the mainstream media. The thing about rock music I believe is that it’s a far more honest art form than some of the shite which is being peddled as music. I mean 1 Song written by 5 producers and recorded in 6 studios and a video all of which costs about £2million to produce and 2 weeks to forget about and means fuck all to anyone…Jeez I could buy nearly every rock band in the north an entire new set of equipment with that, And can you imagine the possibilities then…Sorry…Rant over haha…
From the outside there also seems a bond between bands which finds them helping and supporting each other, is that the case?
Very much so. Northern Ireland isn’t all that big so most of the bands have invariably played on the same bills together at some point and in doing that have shared beer and transport together thus building up a camaraderie. Each band obviously has to look out for its own interests but where help is needed it is often given wherever possible as word spreads fast in a small place like this.
You have just come off supporting Sepultura in Belfast, their only UK headlining show this year. How did that go and did they like being blown offstage by your performance haha?
Haha…I don’t know about that. I thought they were immense that night and they seriously rocked. We really enjoyed it and I thought we gave a pretty decent account of ourselves although I was quite nervous. I had a surreal moment during the sound check when I looked round and their backdrop and equipment was all in place and all of a sudden memories of seeing them in the Ulster Hall in the 90s all came flooding back. It was a moment I won’t forget alright…And we had a beer with Derrick Greene after, although i was a bit inebriated at that stage so i don’t know if he understood a word i was saying. Haha…
Well hopefully we are going to be able to push the cd a lot further afield but as an unsigned band resources are limited but we are going to do our utmost to make it happen. We are lucky that we have a lot of friends and family with various talents who believe in us are trying to help us achieve this. In the short term we are going to keep on gigging and hopefully we are going to have a video for one of the songs done by the end of the year.
Thank you for taking time to chat with us and for one of the releases of the year for us.
Thank you very much for listening to the cd and for the kind words.
Any last words you wish to leave behind?
Never give up.
Read the Hail To The River Gods review@ https://ringmasterreviewintroduces.wordpress.com/2012/08/29/triggerman-hail-to-the-river-gods/
The RingMaster Review 16/09/2012
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