Roaring with sounds and words: talking Choking On Illusions with Mario Strasser

Mario Strasser

It is not as if hardcore is lacking bands with new voracious ideas and sonic explorations but there are times when one has that extra essence or imagination which sets the passions a flutter. One such encounter came forward this past month from German band Choking On Illusions in the shape of their second and compelling album Rest/less. It is a beast of a melodic hardcore incitement as fiercely confrontational as it is inescapably compelling, a seriously exciting encounter. Offered the chance to dig deeper into album and band, we grabbed it with both hands plying vocalist Mario Strasser with questions, exploring the origins and heart of the band, the creation of Rest/less, and a final bombshell.

Hi Guys, many thanks for sparing time to talk with us.

You’re welcome; thanks a lot for giving us the opportunity to say some words!

Can you firstly give us some background to the band and its beginnings?

Well, originally this band started as five kids from a church’s youth group who wanted to play heavy music. Over the years one member after another changed and now I (Mario/Vocals) am the only founding member remaining. With the change of members the band experienced a change of both musical and lyrical style and yeah, REST/LESS pretty much sums up who and what we are now.

Did you have any particular aim and intent with the band and its music from those opening days?

We’ve always been very focused on lyrical content because we never wanted our music to be “just” music. From what I learned about heavy music there has always been more to music. There has always been a message behind it. Be it a positive or negative one, all the artists I admired had something to say and that is something I wanted to keep going with the music we created.

10402430_10152928515889656_5317035852149746870_nAs evidenced by your new album Rest/less, you are shaping hardcore with a fresh and fiercely imaginative mix of flavours and ideas. Did you always intend explore the hardcore core of your sound with this level of adventure or has it evolved organically over time?

I guess you could say that our music evolved over the past few years just the way we evolved as musicians and just human beings. When you grow up you learn to think outside the box and see what is beyond the boundaries you set yourself. That pretty much sums up how we wanted to write our latest album.

It is fair to say, without any disrespect to past members, Choking on Illusions found its creative stride and potency around 2011 when the current line-up came together. What was different and provided the spark for the band to go to the next level?

Thank you, that is pretty much what I and everyone in the band thinks. I guess you could say that some of the guys from the first incarnation of the band were just not that much “into it”. Being in a local band can be pretty hard and it takes a lot of time, energy and money to keep going and so the other guys kinda got lost along the way.

The following year saw the release of acclaimed debut album Guide me home. Now as we mentioned you have unleashed the outstanding Rest/less, how do you see the evolution between the two releases?

The period between the two records was a time where we spent a lot days on the road. We played about 100 shows in 2 years, which is a lot for 5 guys that still try to balance their personal life with being on the road a lot. I think that is something you can really hear on the record.

Did you approach the new album with any specific idea or direction which differed majorly from its predecessor?

When we recorded Guide me home we pretty much only recorded all the songs we had written as a band. For this record, we had an amount of about 30 songs written, out of which we selected the 11 songs you can hear on the album.

You recorded it at Mysterium Studio; this is an environment which you find easy to create within, or are studios generally the same if you exclude the personnel?

Mysterium Studio used to be an amazing place. It has now been closed down because of our producer Arkadi moving to America, but we always had a great time there. Arkadi is one of the most talented guys I have ever met and there has always been a great chemistry between him and us. The atmosphere always resulted in maximized creativity and it he has definitely to be credited for challenging us to broaden our influences.

Tell us about the recording of Rest/less.Choking on Illusions Cover

We started recording the album I think in May 2013, with the first version of it being written, yet untitled; [it was] chaotic and simply just no really good to be honest. We started tracking drums, but about two weeks into it we all decided that this just wouldn’t do it for us. We wanted to put out a better record with better songs, so we went straight back to writing songs. After all, only 4 Songs remained from the first attempt of writing an album. 3 months later in August 2013 we entered the studio again, this time with the songs that made it to the album. I think it took a total of only 10 days to record it, but we had to deal with a lot of delay und unprofessionalism from people outside the band (for example “guest vocalists” being unable to record or to even respond to messages which resulted in them ultimately being cut out apart from Robbert from Wasted Bullet who did an amazing job) so it took until about June 2014 until the whole record was finished.

Do you try to enter the studio with songs basically complete ultimately or are you a band which evolves songs once inside its walls?

We usually write all the songs before and it’s just some minor changes, additional leads or instruments that develop during the recording process.

How does the songwriting process generally work within the band?

The songs are (and have always been) written by me. I write the songs, program them and show them to the rest of the band. Then we get together and work on the songs. Make them better, rewrite them sometimes and try to put them into the best form possible.

We found that Rest/less, though a striking beast from the off, actually grew in its depth and imagination over numerous listens. It took time to explore all the fascinating enterprise beneath its imposing roar. We liked that immensely about the album; was this something you expected might be the case with some listeners?

Thank you; that is definitely something we wanted to achieve. I always like it when an album can still grow after the first time listening. I wished for our music to be something like that, so it’s great to hear that this is the case for at least some listeners. We included a lot of depth in both music, with additional guitars and additional instruments, as well as the lyrics that require a certain will to explore from the listener.

The album is released through Bastardized Recordings, your first with the great label. How did the link up happen?

We were playing a show with our friends in The Green River Burial where Marco from Bastardized Recordings was also attending. From the guys in TGRB Marco knew that we were in the process of recording our new album and after seeing us live he came up to us and expressed his interest. As soon as our record was done he listened to it and he instantly wanted to release our record through his label.

Choking on Illusions Pic2Did knowing they would release it put an extra spring in the step making the album or was the union after recording?

We were done recording before we started talking to Bastardized, so that didn’t affect the writing or recording process.

What is next for Choking on Illusions?

Unfortunately, we will only be doing our last tour and then we’ll go on indefinite hiatus. We were already joking about releasing the songs we never recorded during the time this band was in existence right after we break up, but I don’t really think that that is going to happen.

Once again thank you for talking with us. Any last thoughts you would like to leave us with?

Thanks so much for giving us a chance to talk, we feel extremely blessed to have people care about what we pour our hearts into. Thank you!

Read the Rest/less review @ https://ringmasterreviewintroduces.wordpress.com/2015/03/26/choking-on-illusions-restless/

https://www.facebook.com/ChokingonIllusions

Pete RingMaster

The RingMaster Review 06/04/2015

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

Listen to the best independent music and artists on The RingMaster Review Radio Show and The Bone Orchard on Reputation Radio @ http://reputationradio.yooco.org/

 

 

Raucous times and roaring escapes: exploring the heart of US rockers Long Time Divided

LTD 2

Sometimes there is no escaping the lure of a band, whether in sound, presence, personality or whatever. One proposition definitely equipped with that kind of instinctive temptation is Pittsburgh rockers Long Time Divided. Formed in 2008, the quintet has been a persistent rock riot grabbing an enthused and growing loyal fan base locally and spreading further afield. Renowned as one of the hardest working bands on and from the Pittsburgh music scene, Long Time Divided is beginning to stir broader attention. With a new album beginning to boil in the band’s horizon, it felt the right time to find out more about the band, so with thanks to vocalist DJ Beckage we set about exploring the origins, inspirations, and acclaimed live presence of the band.

LTD DJ Beckage - SingerHey DJ;  thanks for talking with us.

Please introduce the band members and give us some background to the band.

Well there’s me, DJ, the lead singer, and then we have two amazing guitarists in Paul Terry and Dean Toughlian. And then we have one of the best 1-2 bass and drum combos in rock with Bob Beveridge on bass and Slick on drums.

As for the band, we’re a hard rock band with a bit of a metal and blues taste mixed in and we’re based out of Pittsburgh, PA (U.S.A.). I always like to categorize us as a blue-collar rock band. We work hard and play harder and we’re really not the “green room” types, you know what I mean? We’d much rather be out having fun with our fans. We had a green room before and it was horribly boring. HA!

Where did you all meet and what did you have any specific intention behind bringing the band to life?

I had dissolved my old band and was looking to join a fully formed band in need of a singer and lyricist and it just happened that the original line-up of the band, including Bob, were looking for a singer. The guys had me audition and that first night we wrote three songs (Breaker, Spiders, and Take Me Away). Everything just clicked. It was great. Later, Paul joined the band so we would have two guitars. Slick came on board after our original drummer just up and left town (weird), and he brought a level of power to his play yet he’s attune to the dynamics of the song and what is needed. Lastly, Dean joined the group, which I think brought a refreshing outlook on the group.

Your sound seems generally described as hard rock yet there is much more in the mix for us. How would you portray it to newcomers to the band in words?

We’re a blue-collar band. We’re the guys you’d want to go with to the bar for a night of drinking and partying. We have a good time at our shows and try to bring everyone along for the ride. Times are tough and we want to be that kick-ass escape for people.

What predominately drives and inspires the lyrical and emotional side of your songs?

I (DJ) typically write what I’m feeling, whether the narrative is about something that personally happened to me or one of my band mates, or if it’s just something I heard or read about in the news. I love bringing a level of honesty to our songs because it gives the listener something to grab hold of and make his or her own.

The textures and melodic flames which sculpt your songs are as imposing as the muscular side of your invention. It suggests songs are carefully and intensely composed. What is the general writing process for the band and do you aim for particular ideas with each song or let them develop organically?

Thanks. That was about as badass a compliment of our music as I have ever heard.

We typically write as a whole group. One person may bring a melody or riff to the group and we just build the songs out from there. I love this because it gives ownership of the song to everyone, which helps eliminate ego from the writing process.

As for our “particular aim,” it goes back to the fact that we want to write music that we want to hear.

You have earned a great reputation for your live presence, highlights so far?LTD 3

I think the highlight for me has been all the big name acts we’ve had the opportunity to play with, like Fuel, Static-X, Soulfly, Jimmie’s Chick Shack, Soul Asylum, and Ace Frehley. Opening for Fuel was my biggest highlight so far. I think the fact that we’ve had these opportunities acknowledges the hard work that we’ve put in to making our music.

What have you in store for the year and fans across 2015?

Well the big thing this year is our sophomoric album. We’re aiming for April to start recording tracks for the new album and I can’t wait. There has been a wonderful growth in all of our song writing skills and I think people will be thoroughly please with the product.

Thanks for talking with us; anything you would like to add to tempt people to check out your vibrant sounds?

Thank you for having me. Anytime I get to talk about how awesome my band mates make me look (Ha!). No, seriously, thank you. We work hard and it’s always a pleasure to have this time to talk about the love for our music.

I want everyone to go to iTunes or Amazon or wherever the hell you–yeah you!–get your music and pick up the Long Time Divided debut album. It’s a helluva rock album and we want all of you to join the LTD Army!

https://www.facebook.com/longtimedividedband 

Pete RingMaster

The RingMaster Review 29/03/2015

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

Listen to the best independent music and artists on The RingMaster Review Radio Show and The Bone Orchard on Reputation Radio @ http://reputationradio.yooco.org/

Keeping it loud: exploring the world of STP Records with founder Stu Taylor

STPlogo

It is hard not to be rather excited about an ever thriving UK punk and rock ‘n’ roll scene which right now seems to be bubbling rather rigorously with great bands, inspiring releases, and memorable live events. Certainly in the underground, intoxicating and thrilling propositions seem to be a perpetual temptation for our ears, new and older bands with their shows and releases breaching new tenacious creativity with impassioned roars bred from aggressive and uncompromising rock ‘n’ roll. Helping provide support and an outlet for many of those incitements are serious music fans like Stu Taylor and his STP Records. From putting on shows on the Manchester music scene through to becoming a regular port of call at the Rebellion festival, Stu and STP has become one of the most potent and respected presences in the underground scene. Embracing punk to punk n’ roll, basically anything exciting them with flavoursome unbridled rock ‘n’ roll, the label has brought fans some essential and refreshing releases whilst introducing wider attention to their creators artists, and its founders a continual supply of history lingering shows and performances in Manchester and around the UK. Without wanting to sound like an advert, as a music fan and reviewer it is impossible to miss the open appetite and professionalism, insight and passion in wanting to help promote good bands and music within STP. Hearing of new plans and adventure afoot within the label we thought it was time to explore more the people behind many of our favourite encounters of recent times. So we grabbed Stu, piled him with a torrent of questions and went about learning about the background to man and label, future plans and their inspirations, the team behind the face and label, and how he ‘annoys’ the STP ladies at shows…

1185331_483457091780505_1556240827_nHi Stu, a big thanks for taking time away from important things to chat with us J

Can we start by asking some background to and what inspired you to set up STP Records?

The release side of things came about as an offshoot from the shows we have been doing at The Star and Garter here in Manchester since the mid Nineties, and those shows we started to do as bands were simply not playing Manchester. So with a friend, Ian, we used to travel to shows to see bands and simply asked them to come and play in Manchester. Like most promoters, we have been privileged to see a fantastic array of bands down the years, and sometimes that can lead to those bands becoming very good friends as well.

You know how it works, you are in the same room with bands sharing a beer and chatting away about anything and everything, a band mentions that they want to get their songs heard but either don’t know how or have anybody willing to release things.

The very first time we released something was for a band called Sadie Hawkins Dance and it became a collaboration with some Norwegian labels (October Party Records, Goldenmusic, Fucking North Pole Records) so we could get the hang of doing things.

The rest as they say is history as we continue with shows and releases.

Did you have a particular intent with it?

There was no particular intent and no initial thought other than to put on shows in Manchester to begin with to save us travelling when bands we liked were touring. Likewise there was no particular intent with the release side of things other than helping friends out and of course you have to like what you’re releasing as well otherwise it just becomes impersonal. As with anybody that attends a show, I suppose you could argue that the initial intent was, and still is, to have fun doing things and as any of the bands we have worked with will attest, I have always maintained that, and that extends to releases, the fun aspect from start to finish that hand in hand with the hard work and financial outlay leads to that smile when you get that finished product in your hand for the first time….something you don’t get with a download.

Obviously punk rock in its various shades is the focus of STP and your passions as a fan. Has this bred from mere love of the music and like us a hunger to hear and embrace the best of the genre or was there been a musical side to you before moving to create the label?

Various shades sum us up quite well, as we hope our selection of releases to date reflects. Of course in some instances we have more than one release from a band and whilst that becomes immediately identifiable to those buying from us, and fans of that band, we also think that the cross selection of musical styles on offer at STP Records keeps things interesting for us and others, at least we hope so.

Love of music as opposed to a musical background has of course kept us fuelled, and continues to do so, so yes we do like to hear and embrace all that several genres of music have to offer.

That having been said I can bathroom sing up there with the best of them in that tone deaf way so many of us enjoy so much, coupled with that at show beer fuelled singing which again many partake in so I don’t know if that counts as musical background, if so I’m an expert.

How would you say STP has evolved most dramatically since those early days?

Three areas to cover here; live shows, releases, merchandise…

On the live show side of things, from those first tentative steps of winging things and not really knowing what was involved, we now have our own backlines, can and have put on shows in various size venues not just in Manchester but around the UK, and are more than happy to share that equipment and knowledge, which we do frequently.

Regarding releases, again initial enthusiasm has now given way to full knowledge of every release from inception to final product, and in partnership with bands we like to ensure releases get honest reviews which benefit ourselves and bands in regards to constructive positive/negative feedback. We do enjoy reading fuller reviews rather than the one or two sentence variety but do appreciate some zines etc. do not have the space to carry fuller reviews, but all are welcomed.

Merchandise has become an offshoot of both shows and releases and for STP has built into a stall that we are able to adapt in size from a full 3 sided 18ft stall at large shows to a couple of release boxes at local shows. We have also rather than just concentrate on tee shirts and releases, added a whole range of items that cater for people wanting to buy jewellery, hair dye, boot polish, and a whole range of quirky and one off items sourced from a variety of places on our travels.

I think the largest evolvement for STP however is the name getting out and about by word of mouth combined with an online presence, and of course being out and about and recognised. We also count ourselves very lucky that without question, everybody we have worked with, whether band, festival, zine etc. has also endorsed what we do and for that we are grateful; this could I suppose count as a fourth area of evolvement.

For us STP Records is much more than a label, it is a proposition truly supporting the independent punk scene and its artists well beyond just providing an outlet for their releases. We can assume this was and is increasingly the driving force for the label and your personal endeavours?

Very nice of you to say so…Of course we do support as much as possible artists we release for and are reliant on sites like The Ringmaster Review to help us achieve that alongside venues / promoters / radio stations and the general public; all of these combine to hopefully get people out to see a band for the first time if they have not yet seen them or bring them back if they like what they see / hear first time round.

Of course anybody can release anything or put on a show to support a band / scene, and it will always be a work in progress in an ever evolving / changing entity as there is always room to take on board new thoughts. Support within not just the independent punk scene, but any scene / genre works 2 ways for us, we will give it unconditionally and are grateful if we get a return and likewise sometimes we get support and will return it. It doesn’t always work this way but it’s the same in any walk of life so it’s nothing new, you just have to accept it for what it is and move on focusing on what’s relevant to what you are doing, and again this train of thought comes with experience. We like everybody else have made mistakes in this area but for where we are now, we concentrate on the positive and it is this on-going positive thinking that has become our driving force.

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Stu, Sam, and Babs

STP is basically a one man band? How difficult was it to set up the company and more so keep it going in the modern music scene?

Whilst it may seem like a one man band, it’s truly not. Initially a good friend Ian Lewis helped me set up shows back in the early nineties which is where we moved from being paying customers to promoters. Today we also have Samantha Mason (my better half), Barbara Taylor (sister) and Laurence Smith (nephew) who help out in their own inimitable way regards merchandise stalls, taking money / tickets on the door, carrying gear and basically supporting what the public perceives as STP in the manifest form of myself.

Of course people see what I do publicly, with bands and online and it’s easy to see how that is taken as a one man band but the above 3 people are as much STP Records as I am.

I would also count the many promoters we have done joint shows with, the staff past and present at the wonderful Star and Garter in Manchester, the bands we have released with, the people who have paid for our releases or come to our shows, and the staff and promoters at venues worldwide who have booked our bands and played our songs, and Rockers England store on Oldham Street for selling tickets and CD’s…all of these when added together knit a far and wide STP blanket under which we can sleep soundly.

As previously mentioned, anybody can set up a label, put out a release, put on a show. You just need a basic amount of research and how you take it forward is dependent on what you want to put into it or get out of it. And as anybody doing any of these will tell you, you learn as you go, you will make mistakes, you will do things right, you will upset people, you will be upset by people but if you take all that on board and continue, you will know if it’s right for you.

The modern music scene shifts all the time and you have to continuously look at things and not be afraid to change things, and I’ll cover this a little more in one of your other questions coming up a little further down.

Whereas previously you have been running the label alongside ‘real life’, I believe you have recently made STP your full-time job and attention?

I have indeed for many years been fitting a lot of what I do around a full time job. The only time this has been any different was a few years ago when I gave up work to work alongside the fantastic people of Vice Squad until a short illness took me away from this and back into work…but that’s another story for another day.

But yes, the decision was taken by myself with full support from Samantha to hand in my notice at work and I did indeed walk away from the day to day routine. Of course this decision was taken as we have paid off our mortgage and having worked since leaving college. It’s still a little strange for me after 7 weeks…and to be honest as I have mentioned to a few folk, how I fitted so much in before I will never know as I now seem to have so much to do but I am slowly incorporating appreciating time, nature, and more alongside thinking ahead for what I want do personally regards bringing money in, which for the moment is unimportant, and also for changing what we do STP wise, again something I will talk about further down the set of questions.

Was this move something you have intended for a while?

I had intended to do this a while ago as mentioned when I was out and about with Vice Squad, and indeed the last couple of years it has been the main thought to change my life outlook and something I am now dealing with on my own terms with the full support of family and friends as I look to integrate STP into an acceptable lifestyle for myself, Samantha, family and friends.

2015 will see a new shift in direction for STP I believe, can you explain what will be changing and growing with the label?

2015 will see a small change in that following a hectic release schedule in 2014 we have slowed down a touch this year, again to fit into my current lifestyle change. We have just released Horror Movie Matinee by The Obnoxious UK, again another band who over the course of a year or two have impressed with their attitude and friendliness as well as their music naturally, and sometimes you just have to release something to help bands like this get a foothold and that is indeed at this moment in time what I am doing. Outside of this we are planning only another 4 releases this year from Dirt Box Disco, Brassick, The Kingcrows, and Healthy Junkies as we also chase up another 2 outstanding releases from late 2014 yet to emerge….but again, I will cover the change and growth question more in your upcoming 2016 question.

Stu & laurence

Stu & lawrence

What about the live side of your work, shows etc.?

Live wise this is a bit bitter sweet at the moment. Our venue of choice for the last 3 decades for putting on shows in Manchester has been the Star and Garter. The venue has now been issued with a compulsory purchase order connected to the upcoming Northern Rail hub work (a story you can look up elsewhere) and that work is scheduled to begin early 2016.

Now a question I have been asked hundreds of times in the last few months is where will I do shows in Manchester…well the simple answer is that I will not be.

I simply cannot bring myself to begin to build the amazing relationship we have built with this venue, it is something unique and if any promoter elsewhere has the same length of time relationship, you will know exactly what we mean. It will be a sad day if/when it closes but I have taken the decision now to hold a last finale weekend for STP shows here and this will take place on Sat / Sun December 19th / 20th and we are urging people to get their tickets for this as for both ourselves at STP and the venue, it will be an emotional one to bow out on and we are hoping we can sell out 2 nights with everyone simply having an amazing time.

We of course have done shows in other venues in and around Manchester as well as further afield, but in a sporting context we view these as away fixtures with Star and Garter shows our home fixtures. We are truly privileged to have worked with the owners, staff past and present and clientele on some truly amazing shows and there are some amazing stories behind some of those shows.

For the future, the only STP shows that will surface will be Dirt Box Disco shows as that is the band we currently work with on a full time basis, and the occasional album release show for when we do decide on a new full release for a band, but none of those will be in Manchester.

How do you see the UK punk scene right now? From the outside its looks and sounds like it is in one of its healthiest states ever since the late seventies. How have you found it working within it?

Very active would probably be the best description. There is an awful lot going on, more so in some places than others but overall it’s in a good place. There’s a healthy mix of young and old, sometimes combining, sometimes not, but overall keeping things going.

There has always been something happening somewhere since the late seventies regards shows, releases, cafes, record shops and that continues today and long may it do so when we finish and leave our little dent in history.

Working within, we have covered every emotion over the years and I think it’s safe to say that’s the same for anybody who has done it. There is good and bad in all walks of life and people will continue to see it first-hand week in week out, but it all blends into making an ever evolving and hopefully thriving set of conditions for others to jump on board and augment, and as we have aged and grown we have learnt to respect anyone who gets on a stage, anyone who works behind that stage, anyone who puts on a show, anyone who releases anything, and anyone who buys anything or attends anything; they are all jigsaw pieces working to finalise an ever unfinished puzzle.

Can we ask a few things about your own musical tastes etc. like what were and have been the bands inspiring your passions as a fan and to get really involved with music? Has it always been punk first spreading outwards?

I hope this was intended as one question, if not apologies for my making it so but it seems apt. As those who know me well know, the only other interview I have ever done was in November 2006 for http://www.fungalpunknature.co.uk and I hit on this very briefly in that interview. Like anybody else of my age group, music played a big part at school and has remained a big part ever since, and hopefully will do so as I approach the big 50 this year and look beyond that.

I have always been drawn towards noisier bands and fortunate enough even at that young age not to pigeonhole things, something that was sometimes frowned upon for peer pressure purposes in the playground, but nonetheless has stood me in better stead for choosing to look at a broader spectrum. Both Rock and Punk gave me the door to finding that need for loud bands and that was augmented by Indie and extreme metal so to answer the second part of this question, it’s not always been punk first spreading outwards, but a good mix of bands and styles, and to answer the first part there are far too many bands over several years to point at. Of course I feel spoilt at having so many good bands over several good decades to watch and listen to and I hope to continue to be spoiled for a while yet.

How about live, what were your earliest pleasures watching gigs and which again especially went towards sparking an appetite to get involved?625591_3939692244749_705180367_n

Anybody who has been bitten by the watching live show bug will know, it starts young…From watching bands at Butlins Holiday Parks as a kid, to watching bands in school, then progressing to venues and pubs (and underage entry and drinking ones included); there have been many a place and reason for going to see something. My earliest pleasure, and still my favourite pleasure (sometimes much to the STP girls displeasure), I have always loved being in venues as early as possible and I continue this today taking in as much as possible and thus giving every band playing my eyes and ears.

Locally, despite closing venue issues aside, we still have many places to go and watch bands ply their trade on a stage, and that’s the same for most towns and cities. We have of course lost many a venue as well already (Banshee, Boardwalk, Metro, International, Rockworld, Gallery etc. etc.) but there are still places to see live bands and always will be, so as long as there are bands to watch and get involved with, that appetite will hopefully remain intact.

Is there anything about the punk scene or the UK music arena in general which has you feeling excited and alternatively things which frustrate even anger as a fan and a label owner?

Pretty much year on year, it’s the not knowing what’s coming next regards a new band, or a new album that keeps me on my toes. With so much talent out there, you just know that somewhere down the line you’re going to want to do something for a band that will hopefully pass on that excited feeling to others, but of course its individual to each and every one of us and it’s also that diversity of feeling that excites as well. Nothing angers me anymore as either a fan or label, I simply now accept things for what they are, do what we do as a label to ensure the best possible platform for our releases and shows, and then quite simply enjoy things and of course if that translates back into someone else being excited about things, all the better.

You mentioned the great releases lined up for the rest of the year, including Dirt Box Disco’s next album, a highly anticipated release from a band we like so many love with a lustful greed. What can you reveal going in 2016?

As previously mentioned above, regards this year and 2016, we have releases planned for indeed Dirt Box Disco, Brassick, The Kingcrows, and Healthy Junkies, and of course you have already reviewed our first release this year from The Obnoxious UK. That’s going to be pretty much it for 2015 as well as our last few shows in Manchester. Of course we will be out and about as usual around the UK (and possibly further afield) at various times this year and for the 2016 part of this question, let me jump straight to the next question and tie it in……..

Are there any ideas or irons in the fire to which you can hint at if not yet fully reveal?

2016 will see a change in thinking regards us releasing things on CD. A continuously shifting attitude to CDs will mean we will literally be doing at the maximum around 3 or 4 full releases in CD format, and by full releases I mean having pressed quantities of 500+, and even then I may even trim these to 300 copies and maybe add a vinyl option.

We do currently have 2 projects for vinyl in the works, one outstanding and one upcoming and we are going to look at maybe releasing some runs of 300 regards vinyl for initially Dirt Box Disco, and then maybe take a look at our back catalogue regards vinyl and in the case of something that may excite us around the corner, possibly a new band release as well.

I am also in 2016 going to be resurrecting and expanding our STPLE range of CD releases. These are Limited Edition releases of just 100 copies of a CD. These will be aimed at bands from overseas looking for some UK zine coverage and radio play, as well as new UK bands that have been in formation for no more than 12 months. The aim for these is to sell 50 to cover costs and use 50 to promote new bands and bands from abroad that folks have not yet heard….we have done 4 of these to date and they proved a very popular concept, plus of course if you own one you know that they are extremely limited with no repeat run by STP Records, so you have to be quick off the mark to order when we start these in January.

And of course our connection with the rise and rise of Dirt Box Disco will continue apace as we plan for 2016, which will see a change too, but I won’t reveal anything on that just yet, people will have to keep watching the sites and social networks.

Where can people best keep abreast of STP and indeed buy its releases etc.?

http://www.stprecords.co.uk/ is our website and of course you can find STP Records on Facebook and Twitter as well.

Thanks again Stu, any last words?

Absolute pleasure, the questions had me re-visiting some memories and I have no doubt omitted a fair bit but as with all things, anybody reading this can come and see me at a show, on a merch stall and ask me about any of this or anything else

Finally a slightly unfair question but is there one release coming up which you are especially excited about?  

Always excited, as mentioned already, about every release so no single one takes precedence over another in the excitement stakes.

Pete RingMaster

The RingMaster Review 26/03/2015

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

Listen to the best independent music and artists on The RingMaster Review Radio Show and The Bone Orchard on Reputation Radio @ http://reputationradio.yooco.org/

Rhythmic slavery and expressive words: exploring the creative world of Dave Barbarossa

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 A potent and swiftly vocal roar for one particular band in the past months has been very noticeable in the London and UK underground scene, an eager buzz which led ourselves and colleagues at Reputation Radio to go check out live Cauldronated, the new band of punk legend Dave Barbarossa. This is a musician who has been the rhythmic driving force and inspiration behind Adam and The Ants, Bow Wow Wow, and…well the list goes on. Certainly those first two bands, and indeed Dave’s unique playing style left a legacy still inspiring artists today, and it is quite easy to suggest his new project with Eva Menon, has the potential to make the same potent impact. So excitedly we got in touch with the man to not only discover more about the band but also to find out about Dave’s acclaimed debut novel Mud Sharks which has just had a revised edition released via New Haven Publishing Ltd. Dave kindly agreed to let us throw a torrent of questions at him, subsequently taking us into the world of Cauldronated, the seeds and landscape to Mudsharks, the linking up with Adam Ant on tour again, and the musical heart of Dave Barbarossa.

Hi Dave and thanks for sharing your time to talk with us.

There is so much to, and areas within your career to talk about but with the enjoyment at your recent show at The Unicorn, Camden still rushing through the veins and thoughts, can we look at your latest project Cauldronated first. How would you describe the band and its sound to newcomers?

Thanks for those kind words, mate. It was a pretty good gig, I have to admit. Cauldronated is a blend of quirky synths, a lot of drums, and impassioned vocals. I like the discipline of playing with a digital metronome (clicks/synths). It pushes my playing into places it wouldn’t go if I were just allowed to play as I liked…so the strictness makes me creative, that make sense?…sounds a little masochistic, but I enjoy it.

Was there a particular spark or idea which gave birth to the band?

I was working with David Harman (we were both in Chicane together). We thought we’d try something very drummy with synths and sequences.

How did the initial link up with David and Eva Menon come about; were these musicians you already had in mind to work with on something?

I’d not met Eva in person. I was aware she was a drummer. When I eventually met her, I had one of those ‘McLaren’ moments and immediately asked her to join David and me in a bit of an experiment.

Eva has a presence and drama to her stage presence which has the potential to be, in my mind, one of the most creatively imposing and invigorating vocalist you have worked with. Was it this quality which first captured your attention too?

Yes, her presence and intensity were compelling. I knew she would ‘pull her weight’ with the idea I had.

When I saw the band at The Unicorn, it was just Eva and yourself on stage, is that the usual live set-up?1970901_10152291115742767_350111327_n

At the moment it is…who knows what the future may hold.

The band has a sound and presence which feels as punk in nature and attitude as anything over the past four decades; this was a deliberate or organic essence which emerged?

It was deliberate only in the sense I wanted something uncompromising and challenging. I didn’t want to serve up what people expected. Musically, I feel uncomfortable being comfortable.

Do you still feel that individualistic punk and defiant attitude in your music and creativity as strongly as those first days and years of your career?

That ‘individualistic and defiant attitude’ sustains me. I’d be in a covers band in a pub without it. At the risk of sounding a bit of a knob, I will forever be a punk rocker.

How about in music in general, is it still loud and potent or more of a recurring whisper in modern music for you?

It is still loud and proud. You just have to dig beneath the superficial…it has always been that way.

Cauldronated seems to find you returning to and exploring the more tribalistic rhythms and contagion which marked your time in The Ants and more so Bow Wow Wow. Is this something you feel too or have you not been too far from that side of your adventure over the past years anyway, so it is just part of the current evolution of your ideation?

There are so many drummers (most better than me) playing ‘straight’ beats, ‘serving the song’, being a ‘side man’. I’ve got a trick and I’m gonna play it!

Your first novel Mud Sharks was published in 2012, but I believe it is being republished again very soon?

It is…With added extras; photo, review and a ‘Mud Sharks’ track. (please keep this under your hat until I have a release date – that will be very soon) ta.

What was the trigger to writing a novel? Was it something brewing in your thoughts for a while?

Yeah, I think a lot of us have a novel in them. I simply got mine down. Some emotional events collided with professional ones and out it came. Frankly, I’m a little stunned about how well it has been received.

Mud SharksCan you give a synopsis to the novel?

This is what is says on the cover so it must be right ‘Mud Sharks? Harry Ferdinand is in trouble at home, in trouble at school and now he’s in trouble with the police. He’s battered, bruised and lost until he meets the love of his life: the drums. Things are never to be the same again. Plunged into the world of Punk Rock, Harry finds purpose, adventure and heartbreak as he transforms from boy to man.’

It looks at and confronts racism and violence in its story, within the embrace of the seventies music scene. How much is autobiographical or inspired from experiences you have had or closely come across yourself?

It is a story based on my childhood, schooldays and early career. Not a factual, chronological ‘blow by blow’ of my life. But, all the stuff, good and bad, happened, pretty much.

Do you feel its narrative and observations still represent the current music world and young lives within it now?

It is a story of its time, but perhaps it resonates with people of ‘Harry’s age now. Dunno

Have you plans to write another book in the future?

Yep, finished the second…It is going through the editing and proofing stage. These things take yonks.

Returning to music, what were the inspirations which led you into music predominantly?

I was captivated by the drums, so big and loud. I wanted to master the instrument, on a very basic level. Never dreamed it would be my life.

We have to ask about those heady days, certainly for us fans, when Dirk Wears White Sox was the creative anthem for a great many of us. What are your strongest personal recollections of that time with Adam and the Ants and in the punk scene generally?

Well, it was a while ago and at a time when a young person’s life flashes by. Personally, I was in a perpetual state of astonishment and relief. Both states were euphoric, blissful, magical…how’s that sound?

Next came of course Bow Wow Wow and the highly publicised and still seemingly talked of departure of yourself, bassist Leigh Gorman, and the sadly missed Matthew Ashman from the Ants. What musically enticed the move and how coincidental was it that the two projects pursued the tribal/Burundi sound from that point on?

I really can’t think of why the drums sounded so familiar in both bands – insane coincidence?   I left Adam because Malcolm gave me the opportunity to be my own man. Create my own sound and lead ‘from the back’. With Adam, I was a loyal soldier to a musical genius. I like change.

Probably the last thing fans imagined would be the coming back together of yourself and Leigh with Adam again, something which happened last year when you both joined him in The Ministers 1979117_10151960991666780_7133093067893089771_oOf New Super Heavy Funk Punk and an UK tour. Was this something you would have probably not predicted over the years either or was the supposed ‘animosity’ between all parties a media driven ‘reality’?

Never been any animosity between myself and Adam. I’ve played in his bands off and on down through the decades. We have coffee, talk about our daughters.

How did the link up for the shows come about?

Adam called me and asked if I’d fancy doing the old Dirk numbers live. We’d never done it live, apparently. The minute we got in rehearsals, we knew why. He turned round to me during Animals And Men and said, ‘This is fucking jazz, how did we do it?…

It is fair to say that you helped pioneer the tribal rhythmic temptation which has graced so many bands and still does. Do you offer yourself an inner smile every time you come across another proposition in band and song form obviously inspired by your legacy?

That’s very kind of you mate. I have been lucky to do what I love and what comes naturally.

1888843_10152291116392767_1239021352_oSadly missing out plenty of the other bands and projects you have been involved with, can we turn back to Cauldronated and what is ahead for the band over the coming months?

We’ve got another offering out soon…Ring of Khan, there’ll be gigs and the inevitable quest for world domination…All of it, such a laugh.

What about your solo sounds,; particularly thinking of the Barbarossa Beat two-track download release of last November which teased with a sound reminiscent of a Bow Wow Wow flavouring in songs like I Want Candy but took feet and energies into a new tantalising dance…More to come and any other irons in the fire musically for us to look forward to?

Yes, more to come with Barbarossa Beat, I love changes in direction, challenges. There are a few other things, collaborations popping up too.

My big thanks again Dave for your time.

An absolute pleasure Pete…Thanks you so much for your interest.

Mudsharks is available @ http://www.amazon.co.uk/Mud-Sharks-Dave-Barbarossa-ebook/dp/B00ULELOP0/ref=pd_rhf_gw_p_img_10 and for more info regarding the book go to https://www.facebook.com/MudSharksNew/

https://www.facebook.com/dave.barbarossa   http://www.cauldronated.net/

The Buy This Thing EP from Cauldronated is available now @ https://itunes.apple.com/gb/album/buy-this-thing/id914978407

Pete Ringmaster

The RingMaster Review 19/03/2015

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

Listen to the best independent music and artists on The RingMaster Review Radio Show and The Bone Orchard on Reputation Radio @ http://reputationradio.yooco.org/

Exciting the dead: Talking Travelling Morgue Horror Punk festival with Johnny Rose and Tommy Creep.

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     The UK horrorpunk and horror bred music scene has never been more thrilling and adventurous than it is right; hordes of bands pushing boundaries and lustful pleasures with their diverse and viscerally tempting sounds. Two musicians have been at the heart of this; been a key cog to the fore and behind the scenes in this emerging creative machine. Johnny Rose of Thirteen Shots and Tommy Creep from Lupen Tooth, have both pushed the British underground rock ‘n’ roll scene with their bands, labels, and simply helping others. Now the pair has linked up to craft and soon unleash the first Travelling Morgue Horror Punk festival at the Actress and Bishop in Birmingham on April 4th. Already more highly anticipated than a feisty fondle in back street of a movie house playing the entire Hellraiser franchise, the event is set to be a landmark in the UK horrorpunk scene. We grabbed the chance to talk with both Johnny and Tommy about the festival, pulling it all together and what is in store for those braving its dark temptations. We also dug into the hearts of their bands and record labels to learn…

Hi guys and thanks for taking time out to talk with us ahead of a busy time with your bands, labels, and the upcoming Travelling Morgue Horror Punk festival you guys are behind.

Can we talk about the event first and what sparked the idea to out the festival together?

Johnny – It was something Tommy and I have been talking about for a while, we just had to get the courage to do it!

Tommy – Yeah absolutely, there are too many awesome UK horrorpunk bands around at the moment to fit onto a normal bill so some kind of festival had to happen.

Was this an idea seeded in your thoughts for quite a while or a more recently proposed adventure?

Johnny – It something I think both of us have been thinking about for a while, we just needed each other to help push each other! Both of us are trying to help boost exposure for the UK Horror scene so it made perfect sense to collaborate.

It is easy to come up with the idea of holding an event like this but far more problematic and difficult to actually pull it together. How have you found it so far? Thirteen Shots

Johnny – So far so good, the scene is quite close so the line-up took shape pretty much automatically

Tommy – It’s pretty straight forward so far I think, because Johnny and I are both quite organised people

Has it helped that both of you are the driving force behind the event rather than others and how have you shared the organising and promotion of the festival?

Johnny – Yes I really think working together has been a real advantage; Tommy and I both have different strengths so it makes to a more complete job being done!

Tommy – Yeah so far I’ve been handling the design and ticketing while Johnny’s been organising some of the more logistical stuff, it makes a nice change from working completely solo as we do with our labels.

Are you looking at this as a one off event or already have designs on an annual festival of the best horrorpunk bands and sounds around?

Johnny – That purely depends on the success of this one, I would love it to be a yearly event with different bands and some more international bands joining the line-up.

Tommy – Definitely, as long as people show up, there’ll definitely be more. We’ve already had loads more bands contact us wanting to be on the bill so there’s no shortage there. This’ll be the third event under the name the Travelling Morgue (the last two just being one off gigs), so I’d really love to keep going with lots of smaller events throughout the year culminating in a massive party like we’ve got planned for April 4th!

If it does grow will you look at spreading the type of bands playing it to keep it fresh each time or do you see there enough diverse talent within the European if not the world scene, to cover that anyway?

Johnny – Exactly, would be great for all the bands and for the international bands. I was delighted when Jamey Rottencorpse and the Rising Dead agreed to headline the festival, I have been a big fan of them for a long time, I have a list as long as my arm of bands I would like to book.

Tommy: There’re definitely really diverse bands out there that’d still totally fit the theme. For me the “horror” element is definitely more important than the “punk” element. There are loads of bands in the world, like Creature Feature for example, that while completely different from the horrorpunk bands would fit perfectly on a Travelling Morgue event.

How easy was it to choose the bands to invite to play the show or did you always have a certain few in mind and maybe on board before the event was a reality?

Johnny – Yes it was pretty easy, Tommy and I pretty much agreed on line-up before inviting the bands, a couple of bands we wanted couldn’t make it but hopefully there is next year.

Tommy – There was no way any of the UK horror bands, that me or Johnny have gigged with, would want to miss out on this so it was just a case of whether they were available or not.

Lupen ToothHow can people grab details of and tickets for the April 4th show at the Actress and Bishop in Birmingham?

Johnny- everything you need to know about the festival, tickets, line-up etc. can be found at www.thetravellingmorgue.co.uk

Back to the line-up, both your own bands are playing. Tell us about both Thirteen Shots and Lupen Tooth and their histories.

Johnny – yes, it’s a bit egotistical for us to have our bands playing but we weren’t going to miss out! Thirteen Shots will be playing this show as our only local show of the year so far! It will be great to play for a crowd that may enjoy what we do in the UK before we head out to Europe! We have so many new tunes to debut.

Tommy – Lupen Tooth have only been going since the summer but we’ve already been into the studio 4 times and got a load of material to choose from. People can expect live horror film sampling and several songs about necrophilia haha!

Both bands have new releases in the offing too, will they be available and paraded on stage at the Festival?

Johnny – Our new album will not be ready for the festival, but we will be debuting a lot of songs in our set. We also still have a few copies of our limited edition CD available.

Tommy – Yep! Our EP Strawberries & Cream came out 2 weeks ago so we’ll have those for sale and definitely be playing everything from that, along with some even newer tracks.

Can you share some spoilers over both releases?

Johnny – I can’t give too much away yet, all I can say is this album is our most adventurous one to date. We’re really impressed with how it sounds so far! It is scheduled to a May 1st release.

Tommy – There’s not really much to spoil about Strawberries & Cream as it’s already out, but if you’d like spoilers about the themes for some of our new tracks, just Google “skeletonization” or “cadaveric spasm” haha!

Give us quick run-down of who else will be playing the festival.

Jamey Rottencorpse and the Rising Dead – From Bremen in Germany, I have been a massive fan of these guys for ages and I’m delighted when they agreed to headline!

Jamey R...Pic (c) Johanna Streich

Jamey R…Pic (c) Johanna Streich

Zombina and the Skeletones – Clever, hilarious, catchy, surfy, bubblegum-horrorpunks! Been releasing awesome spooky tunes since 1998, a no-brainer that they should co-headline our festival!

Army Of Walking Corpses – a hard n’ fast, metal-tinged, horrorpunk 5-piece. 2 EPs under their belts and a split 7inch with horrorpunk legends the Crimson Ghosts

Gravedale High – Tight, melodic, fast, awesome horrorpunk, been going almost 10 years, shared the stage with pretty much every international horror band that’s come to the UK.

Headstone Horrors – Female fronted Horror Punk band from Nottingham, gaining a great reputation for being a well put together Horror Punk band!

Trioxin Cherry – Sleevy Horror garage Punk Band from Nottingham, These guys/Girl are one of my favourite bands in the scene, recently confirmed for their second appearance at The Rebellion Punk Festival in Blackpool

The BloodThirsters – Birmingham based Horror Punks, a great opportunity for them to play their first gig to a Horror Punk crowd.

You also as if this was not enough work, run your own labels; Johnny and Undead Artists and Tommy with Graveyard Calling Records. Was there a specific spark or moment which inspired the move to set up your own label for not only your own releases but those of a great many emerging and exciting new bands?

Johnny – For myself I had a feeling I needed to protect and support bands a little bit more. We had been signed to two labels and had really bad experiences with them, so I set up Undead Artists as a label for bands, run by a band. Hoping that I can help my bands and support them correctly, because I understand what they need.

Tommy – I had a solo release that I wanted to put out on tape and thought it’d be more fun to put it out as a “cassette-horror-double-feature” along with another artist’s release and it just grew from there.

Tell us the mind set and intent behind both labels and the type of music and bands you are releasing and giving opportunities to get their music out there.

Johnny – Undead Artists is a record label for Horror Punk/Psychobilly bands; the aim is to help give them the exposure they need. I like to work with bands who dare to push their sound within the genre; I only sign bands I like too. I feel like I can help them more if I’m a fan of the music!

Tommy – Graveyard Calling puts out any music that fits the horror theme, whether it’s electronic, punk, surf, metal, music for haunted attractions, anything spooky! In terms of format, so far I’ve put out cassettes and digital compilations.

zombina....

zombina….

Can you see the labels expanding further to embrace more expansive areas of music eventually?

Johnny – It’s something I’m looking into., If I’m honest I’m not doing it to make a load of cash, I am more about helping the bands. So I would have to really like the bands to sign a band out of my genre.

Tommy – The 80s/retro/synthwave kinda stuff tends to go down best on cassette, while the horrorpunk fans seem to get more into the compilations I put out; so in the future I think it may be the case that I stop mixing things up so much and focus on putting things out in the formats that the fans of the different genres want to buy.

How do you choose what you release? You touched on this earlier Johnny but is it primarily just down to whether something excites you personally or are there other factors?

Johnny – Exactly, if I like the music, I will work with it. It’s really tough saying no to a band but I keep it positive because at the end of the day, just because I don’t like them doesn’t mean they are not a kick ass band.

Tommy – At the beginning it was definitely more a case of “wow, this artist is cool-as-hell, I’m going to record a load of tapes of them”, but now it’s definitely more “this artist is awesome, but would anyone actually want their music on tape?”

Back to the Travelling Morgue festival, what can those treating themselves to its adventure expect?

Johnny – A whole afternoon and night of the very best the UK has to offer, it’s the perfect festival for fans of Punk and Metal too, don’t be put off by the Horror tag, these bands have so much to offer you.

Tommy – Whether you know the bands or not, it’s going to be an awesome day, a bunch of friendly, like-minded people hanging out and enjoying some brilliant music. There’ll also be a stall from Savage Monster Clothing, a raffle, loads more fun stuff!

And might there be any offshoots from the event?

Tommy – So far I’ve put on two Travelling Morgue gigs in Bristol, I’m hoping eventually to have it as semi-regular nights in different places around the UK- nights that fans of spooky music know that they can get dressed up for and catch a couple of cool horror-themed bands.

Also I’m currently organising Bristol Horror Convention for this October, which will be a day celebrating horror in film, books, music, games etc. There’ll be stalls for Graveyard Calling and Undead Artists, and hopefully some kind of after-party-gig. For more info people can check www.bristolhorrorcon.co.uk

Thanks again guys for talking with us. Any last words you would like to leave with or a sales pitch? ;)

Johnny – Thank you for all your support to our scene, I would like to take this moment to thank a couple of great sites helping make this event possible. A thank you to Undead 13, Monsterfiend and Punk alive! See you in April!

Tommy – If you live in the UK, don’t miss out on our horrorpunk fest! Besides the awesome bands, you’ll meet loads of cool people and have a great time.

Thanks RingMaster for the support! If anyone wants to find out more, check out the following links:

Website: www.thetravellingmorgue.co.uk

Tickets: http://www.etickets.to/buy/?e=12288

Event: https://www.facebook.com/events/1545097419078600

Free compilation: https://undeadartists.bandcamp.com/album/the-travelling-morgue-festival-meet-the-bands

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Pete RingMaster

The RingMaster Review 08/03/2015

Instincts Of A Predator: talking Hyëna and more with Cripper

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Thrash metal comes in numerous shapes and sizes, generally all ravenous and out for blood, but few have been as voraciously compelling and inventive as the recent album from German band Cripper. Hyëna is, as its title suggests, a beast of a proposition, one built on sinew and aggression but with the creative enterprise and captivating adventure of an instinctive predator. The album is one of the most exciting genre releases in recent times and the evidence of a band at its strongest peak to date. So it was a pleasure to explore the world of Cripper, and especially get to the heart of Hyëna with the kind help of vocalist Britta Görtz, guitarist Christian Bröhenhorst, drummer Dennis Weber, and bassist Gerrit Mohrmann.

Hello all and thank you for sharing your time with us; firstly can you give some background to the emergence of Cripper in 2005, inspirations and intent for its birth?

Christian: Hello Pete, nice to meet you!

It all began in 2004 when Jonathan and I met in university. Both of us found out that we got quite enough time to do some thrashy music besides studying. So we took a rehearsal room to exchange some ideas.

Well, two guys and some riffs don’t make a band – so we started searching for persons who really wanted join this. We didn’t have a clue about the direction we wanted go at this point. It was just to keep the passion and maybe have kind of a group out of fitting members in the end. The other band that was rehearsing at our place was one step ahead and invited Britta for singing. But she ends up with us and does not really fit to the music of the other group. Even more luck was on our side when we completed with Dennis and the band’s first bass player. Cripper was born.

With first 6 songs in the bank we entered the studio to record our first demo EP. First live shows followed and had a good impact on us. We got hungry for more.

Do you still feel about the band and see it the same way you did in those early days or like your music has that evolved over time and releases?

Christian: Still it is all about fun and fulfilment. This might be the real “success“ or how do you wanna call it. Of course it is great havin’ the chance to spread your music / art all over the world. And even knowing some guys who like it! :-)

But I have to admit that it is kind of calculated professional work. This is more influenced these days than it was back at the point we recorded our first song. Because now we have more like a goal, we try to match our personal visions. But still it is exciting ’cause we never know how what a song will sound like or how a certain feel is gonna work in the end.

Talking of releases you of course uncaged fourth album Hyëna last November, a voracious snarl of an encounter. A couple of months on has it matched or surpassed your hopes for it with fans and in drawing new attention?

Christian: Hopefully it brings us even more listeners than before. To be honest, we don’t really know the selling stats yet and have to check back with the guys of our record label. First feedback was really good and our partners were lucky as we are about the fact that everything worked out with the new album and the press echo is a damn good one in whole.

The album for us is your most adventurous and diverse release sound wise so far, did you have any specific aims when writing it or was it more an organic creation; see what comes out with ideas Cripper-Hyenakind of thing?

Christian: So good to hear that, man. Great you love the album and listen to the stuff in this way.

Well, it’s always kind of “organic“ ’cause we choose to write our songs during rehearsal time and have all the band members involved during this process. To collect feedback and opinions from all around and don’t have a song that’s just represents a certain taste of a single band mate.

This time, we really felt the challenge to write a compact but dynamic album. Do not bore the listeners when listen to the whole album from first note to the very end. And this time we put the focus on the tracks, creating different atmospheres and havin’ even more different song structures.

How do you see the evolution between Hyëna and previous albums Devil Reveals and especially Antagonist from two years ago?

Christian: On Devil Reveals we tried to experience atmospherically heavy stuff and some “epic“ parts for the first time. On Antagonist it became even more varied and we tried to create different stuff beyond typical thrash metal. Although it is still music out of this genre we mix it up with groovy death metal parts or havin’ some elements that’s got nothing to do with extreme metal at all. This development moved on when it comes to our current material. We put in some rock influences, havin’ stoner riffs, used pretty heavy riffing and mixed it up with thrash stuff. At the end of the day all these different ingredients creates a cocktail which taste like typical for the band but smells fresh and tasty… hopefully, haha! Beside this, we tried to have a sound that is more “grown-up“ in comparison to the album Cripper released before. It is more about a heavy filthy bastard of an underdog so to say.

Whilst writing and recording the album was there any aspect to its sound or presence which took you by surprise?

Christian: We planned to not double layer the guitar tracks. That meant we chose to play all the rhythm stuff just one time and havin’ some additional parts on top. Just to keep it basic and not too constructed. For this one shall hit you right between the eyes.

On our first records the sound was OK but may not feel catchy enough and misses the rock ‘n’ roll in it. This is what we think about after havin’ listened to the old shit for so many times, to be honest ;-) We tried to build up Hyëna’s sound as catchy as possible. Drums and bass are more to the point than ever, the vocals are real killer.

Is there a certain process to the song writing within the band more often than not?

Dennis: For ten years, songwriting of the instrumentals happened exclusively in the rehearsal room – most of the time involving the whole band. So in general, the all over process is kind of the same: All five are jamming, trying out stuff, and discussing our asses off to come to something that actually all of us would consider to be a song. Britta writes all the lyrics on her own, but making them part of a song also involves the others. But of course we tried different approaches over the time, mostly to minimize discussions and keep the actual music in the foreground – which isn’t easy at all, especially when you try not to repeat yourself – which is of course a question of definition. So the optimal process (which actually happens at least sometimes) would be: Britta has an idea for some lyrics or at least a topic or feeling she wants to bring alive through a song; one of the guitarists understands this approach and puts out one or two riffs we all think would fit; all of us jam along on that and record a scribble version of a possible song structure; Britta completes the lyrics independently; and with all elements being set, we cut everything into pieces and put it again together in thousand different ways until it is a full grown song. When I think of it that would be the practice happening most often, not thinking about the time every step needs – and sometimes this could be months or even years.

It is easy to assume that you all take inspiration from leading lights in thrash and extreme metal like Exodus, Testament, The Haunted etc. but are there any other bands or influences which are maybe more unexpected?

Dennis: I think we do not (anymore?) really actively take bands as inspiration for the band Cripper. Actual inspiration happens more on single musicians concerning her/his instrument, which doesn’t depend on metal at all, but more general on being a good artist. So the fact that many of us listen to music which is far away from (extreme) metal is good for an open-minded perspective, but probably not really helpful in the songwriting process. But on the other hand, perhaps it’s a good approach to find the point you and yourself want to make by being also into all the other stuff for distinction and finding precision…

cripper_photo06I have the idea that Cripper is a band always working on new ideas or taking elements of previous songs, experiences and exploring them further ahead. If so was there anything particular about Hyëna and its recording which you took as a seed to your next creations?

Dennis: I already mentioned the problem of do-not-repeat-yourself and something woolly about inspiration, and I see your consideration as praise so thank you for this question. But this is hard to answer as we will perhaps be able to answer this question not before the plant is grown. Concerning songwriting we will try a completely different approach this time and I won’t come to details until we are not sure it could work. I think the most concrete and traceable aspect will probably be the sound and the overall production, because that is something where we try to achieve “the best that is possible” from our humble perspective at least. Creativity-wise I have no idea which aspect leads to what. In the most general way you can interpret this.

Give us some insight into the recording of Hyëna.

Dennis: We split the recordings into two sessions with half a year or something between them, because of different reasons, but one interesting aspect was that we were able to really let the production sink into our minds and so had the possibility to change major decisions with fresh ears. Also, I firstly recorded the drums with Kai at the Kohlekelles Studios, so he as hands-on-mixing-mastering-producing-guy had all the possibilities in the whole process of how he wanted them to be. That also applies to the other recordings as well, even if they were made partially in other studios.

Did you approach it or try anything majorly different in the studio than when recording Antagonist?

Dennis: We try something new on the recording- and overall producing-processes of every Cripper-album, so: yes. Christian spoke about some aspects in the beginning and almost everything I described in the last question was new for Hyëna.

Hyëna was your first album which was not being self-released, being unleashed through Metal Blade Records. How did the link up come about?

Gerrit: Metal Blade took notice of us at the Metaldays festival in 2013 and sent an e-mail afterwards. First we were thinking someone is kidding us. Then we realized that this is the “real” Metal Blade company and that they are seriously interested. And so we stayed in contact and made a cool deal. In summer 2013 we decided to produce four songs as an EP to check out if the Cripper stuff will be interesting for any label out there. We decided to record the EP in the Kohlekeller Studios in November 2013. With this decision we went to the Metaldays 2013…And then there was Metal Blade, haha.

What has been the biggest difference and benefit from this union for the album?

Gerrit: It feels great to have Metal Blade as a partner on our side. Knowing Cripper since their beginning in 2005 as a friend of the band, seeing them working so hard all over the years, I’m really happy that Cripper now steps to the next level. We bust our asses for Cripper, and there will never be a way around it. Artistically, every little thing is still in our hands, no compromise. Metal Blade is a good label for us and I hope we can reach more people out there with their help, travel farther and make new experiences. Cripper put out their last 3 records out through SAOL (Service for Artist owned labels). They provide promotion and distribution, 2 things you cannot do yourself beyond a certain extent. So signing to Metal Blade doesn’t make that much of a difference in that business area anyway. To help us bring Cripper to a next level, we think Metal Blade is a real good partner for us.

The great artwork for Hyëna summed up the release and the individual songs perfectly. Who designed the cover art?

Gerrit: For the development of the artwork, the whole band was involved in the brainstorming process. Finding images, textures and especially the technique for creating the artwork.

Britta: The process of the artwork was surprisingly complicated. We thought “hey, a hyena on the cover – this is gonna be easy to do“. But no, it turned out to be quite difficult to find some good basic material. Since hyenas can look extremely cute and fluffy, haha.

Christian: In the end it was me who set up a collage of the animal we got in mind and you can see on final cover now…then added skyline and certain textures. Jonathan was responsible for the finish and painting details. In order to make it look even more dangerous and given’ the hyena itself a heavy metal attitude.

Afterwards I created everything around – like layout, booklet for cd, vinyl versions, digipak and shit. It’s quite a heavy product we can tell. Kind of hard this time to create a final scribble of the album cover that every one of us loved.

There is a great bonus DVD that features a whole show we did on Metaldays festival this year, behind the scenes / making of the album, a complete collection of all the video clips we did so far. 2 discs are included in first issue that comes on European market, a black vinyl edition and a limited splattered vinyl version of the whole album. Furthermore there is this special box edition we offer exclusively on our website and live shows. There is a 7″ vinyl included which you won’t find elsewhere.

A lot of different products to do for a band that’s responsible for the artwork and do nearly all the stuff by using their own hands, haha. But that’s the way we like it. Besides the music, this plays an important role in our creative process as a band.

Same thing with the album’s title and whole concept behind Hyëna as Gerrit can tell.

Gerrit: The other guys actually came up with the title idea when they wrote our previous album Antagonist. But it didn’t fit the songs well and so they kept the title in their minds.

We see Hyenas somehow as the thrash metallers among all the predators. Not as elegant as the cat-types like Lions or Panthers – but mangy, imposing and really strong. As a motto for a metal album, an aggressive hyena with very impressive teeth just fits very well. The album as a whole is very heavy and there are many serious, punchy riffs. This was decisive for the gloomy atmosphere in the whole artwork.

Some have already mistaken the two dots above the e as a German Umlaut. It is no Umlaut, since in German language that is only ü, ä and ö. The dots above the e are simply cool looking “rock dots” that we just wanted to have.

Looking back is there anything about Hyëna, a particular moment or idea in a song maybe, which you wish you maybe had pursued further but also a part which gives you an extra tingle of Cripper_Promopics_Hyena_band_017 by Alina Omerbasicsatisfaction and pleasure?

Gerrit: No, I don’t think so. During the songwriting process there is a lot of discussion around every single idea, riff or song structure. After that when a songs comes to its end in the writing process we’re usually quite happy with the result. We are writing all our songs together in our rehearsal room. That is not easy, since you have 5 people writing together. Sometimes it feels as if we were writing 5 different songs at the same time, before we find that little seed we all get happy with.

Your live performances and presence are renowned for their energy, ferocity, and sheer passion; this is home for the band?

Gerrit: Yeah, I think the live performance is the important thing for every band mate in Cripper. It’s important to us that we bring the fun that we have and all the energy on stage. We love to have a good time on stage. Well, we are also metal fans and loving the music we do. And so we try to catch everyone in front of the stage to party with us, haha.

What have you got lined up live wise for 2015?

Gerrit: Actually, we’re looking for shows all the time. Especially when there is an album out the band is hungry to bring the new shit on stage, right? Same with Cripper. Unfortunately there are no touring plans yet. But we hope for opportunities that bring us on international ground, doin’ some festivals and club shows in different countries. Maybe there is a chance to bring our music to some countries we’ve never been before. This might be a great adventure, a challenge and lots of fun to do.

We fixed some festival shows in Germany for the summer and can’t wait to get some more dates on the table. We consider Cripper as a live band as said at the very beginning of this interview.

So hope to meet ya out there very soon!

…And in other aspects of Cripper, recordings etc.?

Gerrit: At the moment we’re planning some video shots for songs from Hyëna. We hope that we can realize some of our ideas as soon as possible. There are actually ideas for a new album, but this is quiet in the beginning.

Thanks once again for taking time out to chat, any last thought you would like to leave us with?

We also thank you very much. Thanks also to the readers for reading this interview till its end, haha. Keep the Metal alive and support your local bands and underground. Check out http://www.cripper.de for more live dates. We’ll keep you updated. Thanks for your question and being interested in Cripper ;-) See you out there

Danke & Cheers

Gerrit | Cripper

https://www.facebook.com/Cripper.Thrash

https://www.youtube.com/user/cripperthrash

Read the Hyëna review @ https://ringmasterreviewintroduces.wordpress.com/2014/11/28/cripper-hyena/

Pete RingMaster

The RingMaster Review 17/02/2015

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

Listen to the best independent music and artists on The RingMaster Review Radio Show and The Bone Orchard from http://www.thereputationlabel.today

Iron riffs and heavy passions: Introducing Wölfrider Interview

Wölfrider

Hailing from Wrocław, Polish heavy metal band Wölfrider drew outside attention to match that at home with the release earlier this year of their self-titled debut EP via Goetic Records. Packed with four tracks which charge ears with tsunami like strength and sonic voracity, the release was a sign post to the broader emergence of the band. Grabbing the chance to find out more about the band we had the pleasure to chat with vocalist Rafał ‘Rambo’ Gębicki and drummer Bartek Dolewski.

Hi guys and thank you for talking with us.

Can you tell us about the beginnings of the band?

Rambo: The core of the band came out from previous project called Clairvoyant. Guys wanted to play something new under new name. This was the beginning of 2012 when I joined them. After a month of rehearsals we played the first show. A few months later with ready material we entered the studio to record our Wölfrider EP. Everything has happened in leaps and bounds.

You sculpt your songs with an energy and passion which recalls traditional heavy metal at its purest. What are the major inspirations to band and its members?

Rambo: Most of our influences come from Western Europe, Heavy Metal Gods like Running Wild, Grave Digger, Accept, Judas Priest, but you can hear also some of the ‘epic’ ones – Bathory, Manilla Road. Each of us draws from other sources, for example, it may be Iron Maiden, Exodus, Iced Earth and even Death.

What are the backgrounds and experiences Wölfrider members brings to the band?

Bartek: We’ve got quite big experience during our activity as Clairvoyant…lots of gigs, developing songwriting, improving process of managing a band, and so on. As we progress we started the new band with a blank card so to speak yet locked and loaded. Rambo comes from Deversor and he had lots of work to do, because his singing style and technique had to be changed to the new material. Since only vocalist changed we all knew each other very well and there were no surprises – just going further in music.

There is a great metal scene in Poland it seems from the outside but hard to find that wider recognition for bands there. How have you found it?

Bartek: Well you have to remember that most of metal musicians in Poland have normal regular jobs and it’s hard to focus on your job, paying attention to your musicianship, and any promotional actions at once. So you have to have really organised way of doing your things. The second important factor is of course money. And currency exchange. If someone wants to be recognised outside his/hers country most probably has to pay for publishers – in Euro, USD or GBP. That could be very expensive due to rate of exchange and that money could be spent on something else for band, like a good audio equipment to practice better etc.

Tell us about your debut EP which recently came out via Goetic Records.Wölfrider2

Rambo: Okay, so long story short. We recorded, mixed and mastered our EP in DIY style. Later on some kind of distribution was needed and we mailed to couple of indie record labels (major ones didn’t give a fuck about us). Goetic Records from Canada owned and ruled with pride by awesome guy – Kosta Bayss – he helped us with promotion and digital distribution. I guess we are the only one non-black metal band over there but it’s not a big deal for us – it’s more like an underground family. Back in the day – yeah, a couple of months ago, fucking ancient times – Goetic Records had nothing to do with releasing physical CDs due to some limitations. Now Kosta can sell his bands like a boss over the Internet on classic CD packs, you have to check it out.

Though all track stand out Hearts of Iron steals its extra share of the glory for us. Give us some background to the song.

Rambo: Our music mastermind – Kamil – is a huge fan of strategy PC games so guess where the name comes from. You can Google it. This one particular song was written by him, we just got music sheet, changed almost nothing at all – somehow it started to have its drive and vibe. Most of our stuff is done after many trials and errors on rehearsal room. Not this one. Maybe we shoot jackpot with Hearts of Iron.

Does the EP sum up your sound or are there already new surprises waiting to be unleashed in your next release?

Rambo: EP is just an introduction to Wölfrider’s realm. In the next album we’ll include a couple of licks for fans, not exactly new material – you can hear it already at gigs. First of all – we got our sound tuned way lower than typical Heavy Metal band…mostly due to Deceiver Of The Gods by Amon Amarth. So that’s quite unique for our type of music – tuning in B-Standard is common among extreme metal bands. On the other hand my singing style has changed – it’s much more modulated. Some ideas have to be re-visited and full album release needs more brainstorming but don’t worry, it’s gonna be shitting thunders and blasting metal – pure heavy as Polish vodka. You know, we are trying to be as honest in our music as possible. We have nothing to lose anyway.

What is the live scene like for you and metal in general in Poland?

Bartek: I think it’s about the other countries. There are really few people from seriously pro bands signed to major record labels that are making living from the metal music. Average, casual guys like us have to be as much accountants as musicians to make everything works. About metal scene in Poland? I may be wrong and controversial but I think that extreme metal bands and thrash metal guys have way more attention. Lots of independent indie record labels are interested in death/black metal bands and looks like there are more shows for that kind of metal. And thrash metal has its own renaissance – but it’s just mine opinion based on my observations. Hopefully most of metal heads aren’t strictly bounded to one kind of metal and you can see Cannibal Corpse fans at some classic heavy metal gig.

There is roar and power to the EP which suggests the songs live are real wall shakers. On stage is where the real magic happens for the band?

Wölfrider3Bartek: First of all thank you for really cool opinion about our music. It’s always pleasure to have that kind of description about the EP, this is what we intended you and other fans to feel.

We try to do our best on stage and work on our presence as much as on technical and musician skills. We play for quite a time and definitely can hear and feel band mates playing, correct something messed up – you know – and just have great time showing people that we love to play metal and have fun on stage. We work really hard to not just be another boring band with bunch of dudes that’s stay the entire show in one spot and not even look at the audience. Metal used to be – and still is – about aggression and playing loud. Most of all about raw energy, this is the root, the foundation of rock ’n’ roll music. If there is no Ultimate Power Armageddon on stage (in positive way) then you’re doing it wrong, son.

What is coming up for Wölfrider in 2015 and from you for fans?

Rambo: We plan to play as many shows as possible. Your band cannot be real and serious without gigging for real fans – world is not limited to Internet. We have booked a couple of events related to “tribute to Bathory” since we are huge Quorthon fans. More details should be soon. That’s about performing live. We would love to present just a little sneak-peak of our upcoming full album by releasing a single – maybe along with video clip. That would be a real killin’ teaser that will show just a little the way that we’re heading with our music.

Once again thanks for the interview, anything you would like to add?

Bartek: Yeah, whoring for views, subscriptions and likes on social media websites. Check us out on:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/wolfrider.band

YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/user/wolfriderofficial

Bandcamp: https://wolfriderband.bandcamp.com/

Goetic Records: http://www.goeticrecords.com/

I want to add that we know that there are bunch of our fans outside Poland, even outside Europe. For those people and many others we have an idea to live stream our gigs on YouTube or other platform – so please, wait for news!

Pete RingMaster

The RingMaster Review 15/12/2014

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

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