A growing and attention grabbing force within the UK metal/rock underground scene from the mid-nineties, with acclaim crowded albums under their belts, it is fair to say that the demise of Manchester’s Kill II This in 2004 left many heartbroken. Their return a decade later though not only re-ignited that following but lured a new wave of fans especially recently through the recently released single Sleeper Cell. The track showed that the quartet of vocalist Simon Gordon, guitarist Mark Mynett, bassist Pete Stone, and drummer Jeff Singer had not only retained their rousing metal and heavy rock blended sound but found a fresh energy and adventure within in. We recently had the chance to explore the past, present, and beyond of the band with thanks to four string slapper Pete…
Hi Pete and many thanks for sharing your time to talk with us.
You have just released the video for new song Sleeper Cell but before we talk about that can you give some background to Kill II This and how it all came to be in the mid-nineties?
Mark, Jeff and myself were in a band called China Beach in the early 90’s – we really learned our trade in that band, touring Europe relentlessly, often just living in our van, sleeping on top of the gear….We would probably have been classed as Power metal back then, but we were getting the urge to get a lot heavier as the metal scene at that time was evolving. We decided to look for a new singer and – and that’s how we ended up with Nick Arlea who at the time was living in New York playing in a band called Power.
We had a fair bit of music already written that was just way too heavy for China Beach and so Kill II This was born. We got the album recorded fairly quickly (Another Cross II Bare) and more touring began. We already had a reputation for being a hard working reliable band and I think that helped us get some of those early tours.
Did you have a specific aim and sense of direction for the band at the time?
Just onwards and upwards really…None of us had a job so there was only the band to focus on. Things were comparatively easy back then ha ha! We never purposefully tried to fit into any genre – we started using samples a lot more adding a new dimension to the live shows and our overall sound…at the time nobody was really doing that.
How has that changed, if at all, with the reactivating of the band a couple of years back.
Well we’re a little bit older now obviously, with the responsibilities that brings! I don’t feel as desperate to prove ourselves anymore I guess…we’re not trying to be the next big thing anymore! We are immensely proud of what we do though and are thoroughly enjoying our revival. I’m loving the new stuff we’re doing and Simon has breathed new life into our back catalogue…he kills it every night on stage. I still don’t know how he didn’t end up with us way back to be honest-we’ve been mates for years!
You released a quartet of albums with for us the second in Deviate the moment the band truly clicked within the metal scene and its keenest attention. How did you find it at the time trying to make that breakthrough?
I think at that time the band felt like we had really earned any success we were getting. We had worked hard and made a lot of sacrifices in our lives. We were touring nonstop still and had some fantastic tours with the likes of Slipknot, Megadeth and Machine Head to name a few, as well as headlining in our own right, and it just felt like the natural progression of things…we worked hard and we were starting to see results. Good times!
Would you say that the album was also the moment the band’s true and distinct sound suddenly blossomed?
Undoubtedly…I think Mark had really found his riff writing groove – I think he would agree that DV8 was probably our best album too. There were some internal wranglings through this period – I had left the band for a while, Caroline joined for a while, then I came back – all sorts going on, but the end result was still that unmistakable Kill II This sound.
Fifth album, A New Spiritual Mountain was marked out by the band as being its last but eventually emerged under the moniker City Of God. What is the story behind it and that switch? Was it mostly because of the new character of sound it embraced?
I think really this is a question for Mark as I didn’t play a part in that project, however personally I don’t think it was in in the same vein as Kill II This musically. There was definitely a different feel to it. It was the first time I’d heard Simon sing like that too really-even more aggressive than his Xentrix stuff. Great album though – we often wonder if we should sneak a song or two from it into our live set…
Leaping forward to the now; Sleeper Cell undoubtedly has that signature Kill II This sound and personality but equally a fresh breath of adventure and indeed aggression. How do you see your sound as having evolved since the comeback?
A few years ago Simon and myself were in a band with a couple of the guys from Xentrix called Hellfighter, which I guess had some thrash undertones and I’m hearing some old school influences in our new stuff here and there – but I wouldn’t say there’s a massive difference. We’ve used far less samples in the new track than earlier stuff, there’s some aggression in there vocally, but importantly there are melodic hooks.
Has everything within the band been an organic shift or something you all deliberately aimed for when planning your return?
I think fairly organic really-we have no deadlines to live by these days so we can take our time writing – something that we never could in the old days. We haven’t deliberately set out to sound one way or the other to be honest – we’re just going with the flow creatively. We’ve all been playing together in various guises for years and it’s a bit like putting on a pair of comfy slippers when we get together!
And the return of the band, how easy was it for you all to come back together and start creating again?
For me the timing was just right. Hellfighter had just split as the other guys were reforming Xentrix, Mark and Jeff had been informally chatting about reforming at this point. I think the push was being offered a headline festival slot at Fiesta Du Rock in Belgium, even though we weren’t strictly in existence at that point. So we rehearsed and we were made up with how good it sounded. It just came together so fast, and the songs still sounded fresh and relevant. So we thought let’s do some new stuff…
Sleeper Cell is a hint to the kind of sound and imagination we can expect from future releases?
That’s a hard one to answer. Yes I think you’ll hear things in a similar vein but don’t be surprised if we throw some curveballs in there. We’re not writing for the music industry anymore. This is for ourselves as much as anything. Obviously it would be nice if everybody else likes it too….
Tell us about the single’s video. It was recorded by Carl Arnfield of Chalkman Video, who has persistently sparked visual pleasure with his films over the past few years. How did you come to link up with him?
Through friends of friends I think-he needed something to complete a show reel – we needed a video! It’s such a small world really -he was good friends with Xentrix- was actually in them briefly I think! He put us in touch with a chap called Johnathan Santry who arranged all the fight choreography and is actually in the video…Great bunch of guys.
Carl was a great – he worked really hard for us – we’re made up with the video.
What inspired its striking narrative and guerrilla like strike on the senses?
Well I think the lyrics and subject content speak for themselves. I think it really suits the aggression of the verses then the melody of the choruses adds a great hook. Then the outro is just huge!
Unfortunately on the same day, several hours after releasing the track and video the atrocity that was the Manchester Arena bombing happened. Given the subject matter of the track we have pulled back its proper release for obvious reasons.
Where did the filming take place; and a lengthy shoot?
The band shoot was done in a day at a studio in Preston, and the fight scenes were shot in Manchester over a couple of days so not too lengthy. Carl really worked hard to get it finished for us….in fact we’re still humbled by effort everybody involved put in.
What is next for Kill II This; The chance of an album being planning?
We intend to keep writing for sure. Whether or not we release an album or just drip feed one track / video at a time I’m not sure. We are looking already at festival appearances next year, plus a few more shows this year. I’d love to get back out to Europe too…it’s been too long.
Big thanks again for chatting with us; any last words you would like to add?
Thanks for showing an interest in us and we really hope you enjoy the new video…you can watch it on our website where you can also download the new track Sleepercell for FREE.
The RingMaster Review 13/06/2017
Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright