Who are you, and what are you about?
My name is Steve Bello, and I was born at an early age. Been a guitar player for 38 years, turned professional in 1988, and have been a teacher for 21 years as well. I’ve had my own band, in various incarnations, since 2003, and recorded six albums to date. Right now, my line-up features bassist Jimmy Donegan and drummer Tommy Irwin. I released my sixth album back in December 2015 called LAYERS OF TIME, which can be streamed and purchased on stevebellorocks.com
So it’s been nearly 40 years since you picked up the guitar, do you remember what sparked your interest and made you do so?
I heard Led Zeppelin when I was four years old, thanks to my aunt, not that she was aware of it at the time. My grandfather was a jazz guitarist way back when, so while I liked that there was a guitar player in the house, I wanted to play heavy rock from the start. Grew up listening to Zep, Queen, Aerosmith, Kiss. Started learning guitar at age 9 but didn’t take it seriously until I saw Ritchie Blackmore on MTV smashing his guitar, and seeing videos of Jimi Hendrix lighting his Strat on fire. Both of those moments made me think “I have to play guitar for life!” I’ve never smashed or burned one…yet.
Having been a professional guitarist for nearly three decades I’m sure this is a tricky one, but is there any highlights that sticks out in your career?
Getting endorsed with Ibanez guitars back in 2003 was a major life-changer. I’ve had small victories along the way. Opening for Uli Roth at Starland Ballroom in 2012 was another biggie. And then when I played with TM Stevens and TC Tolliver in Germany in 2014, I saw that as a huge boost. Opened for King’s X recently at Stone Pony, so that’s another nice notch in my bedpost. 
What do you look for in an amp?
First of all, the tone has to hit me the right way. I don’t like futzing with too many knobs and controls, just want to get a good clean and solid rock sounds out of the box. There has to be versatility too. Having just one staple sound isn’t enough for me personally.
You’ve mentioned before that your daughter introduced you to Orange – clearly you raised her well – does music run in the family?
She unknowingly introduced me to Orange, let’s put it that way. She plugged an Ibanez guitar into a Rockerverb 50, and as soon as she hit that low E string, I said “Gimme that guitar!” Music does run in my family, for sure. Emma was a bass player but now she’s more focused on singing and studying music theory. My son Julian plays clarinet in high school band, and was fooling around on drums for a bit. 
Can you tell us about your relationship and experiences with Orange?
I’ve had nothing but amazing experiences and relationships with Orange since I started writing to Alex back in 2013. I got to meet him at NAMM 2014, and he introduced me to Cliff Cooper. I plugged into the CR120 head in the demo room and was sold. Ever since then, Alex has been prompt with returning my emails and helping me get the right gear in my hands. And he likes my cat Linus too.
What’s your dream set up?
I have all Ibanez guitars, main ones are my 7-strings, but I have some 6s for other gigs. For amps, I have the CR120 head into the PPC212OB cabinet. Also have a CR35RT combo as well as the CR20. And I had to get a Micro Terror because it’s just too damn cool! As for pedals, I have Morley, Digitech, Electro-Harmonix, Boss, Ibanez, and my signature Nuclear Paradise pedal designed by Checkered Pedals. Why all of this? Because it makes my legs look longer…oh and it sounds good too. I also stick to Von York strings, and my signature Spectraflex guitar cable called BelloFlex.
You also teach music, what would be your advice for people wanting to get into playing?
Find a good lawyer after you learn your first E chord. From there, learn as much as you can, as best as you can. You will have the one staple genre that moves you the most but it’s good to dance around other platforms. 
I’ve seen you’ve got quite a few shows lined up at the start of the year, how is the rest of 2017 looking? Are you working towards a new record?
Got a couple of shows lined up in 2017, working on getting more of course. I have 11 new songs written and demoed for my next album, so if all goes well, I will begin recording in the Summer of 2017 and release the album in the Winter.
Last words of wisdom?
Never cook bacon with your shirt off. 

Photo by Ella Stormark

You recently released your eight studio album, and I’ve noticed a pattern where you release a new record every other year – can you run us through the process and cycle of recording, releasing and touring?
Well, you basically said it, that’s kind of how Every Time I Die work. You write for a few months, you record for a month, month and a half, release the record and then tour two, two and a half years on it non stop, that’s the formula the band’s been following for the last eighteen years. Our fans pretty much expect a new record every two to three years, followed by touring Europe, Australia and America. We feel pretty fortunate to still be able to do that and that we still have people coming to our shows and buying the records.

You’re notoriously known for your intense and insane live performances, so after eighteen years of touring excessively for two years at a time, are you not absolutely, unbelievably exhausted?
Oh, we are! Don’t let anyone fool you, we’re not getting any younger either. That said, I think we kind of just know what we need to do to mentally prepare and get in the zone. Years ago it was easy to get wasted every day, wake up and not feel any effect, but now that shit’s just out the window. I know Keith took the summer of drinking, and our drummer took the entire year off. If I drink I need to have a day off after. We cant do what we were doing before, I think we’re focusing all our energy on that one hour on stage, the you’ve got 23 hours to decompress and get back into the mind frame of playing live. We’re not the kinda band that just gets up there and picks up a guitar, you know? There’s a lot of energy between the crowd and us. I think it’s very much a mental thing, and then we do keep the partying to a minimum these days.

Photo by Ella Stormark

So you’ve got 23 hours of build up between shows, how do you spend that time?
We all kind of know how to stand out of each others hair and just do our own thing – Jordan’s really into drawing and his artwork so he will be off doing that, Keith’s got his book stuff so he’s constantly writing, I’ll listen to some podcast or just goof around online, and Andy’s into working out as he’s got his wrestling and things, so we’ve all just got our own thing that keeps us busy. A couple of hours before the show we just get into this routine where a couple of people will have a drink or two to take the edge of, and I’ve got my stretching routine… It’s really not as crazy as you think it would be – we’ve got our own ways to unwind and get in the zone, and that’s about it, nothing too crazy.

I think a lot of people expect you guys to act like savages at all times…
Yeah, it’s hard to live down some of those young kids in the DVDs setting their hair on fire and stuff like that, but that portraits the band in a completely different era. It’s still there though for everyone to see, so people will watch it and almost be like ‘dude why isn’t your hair on fire?’ when we meet, and then I’m just ‘Weeell, it’s been 12 years, and we’ve got a long drive tomorrow, so…’ It’s kind of funny how we’re always gonna be perceived as that crazy band, and in some aspects we still are, but it’s not as intense and 1000 miles per hour as it was back then. We’l have kids approaching us like ‘Yeeeah, do some shots!’, and all you can think is ‘Oh, no.. My back hurts, my shoulders are killing me..’ We tend to focus the craziness on the shows and performance, and all that extra curriculum? I don’t want to let you down, but we’re old men. We’re trying to keep up, but we’ll be in walkers pretty soon.

Photo by Ella Stormark

Except for the obvious punk / hardcore sound to your music, I pick up on elements from various genres such as stoner rock, and even blues. What kind of music got you into playing in the first place?
Every single person in this band would have a completely different answer. I know my parents, and Keith and Jordan’s parents loved The Beatles, Andy’s parents loved The Who, so you had all these influences around you. I started going to shows in the early nineties just as we got MTV, so you had stuff liken Headbanger’s Ball and all this music would blow me away, bands such as Nirvana, Rage Against The Machine, Rancid and Green Day. Then you’d start looking at the back catalogue to all these bands’ records labels and that way come across even more bands you liked. We’re all huge Zeppelin and Sabbath fans, so there is a lot of different influences that contributes to what this band have become today. When we started, bands like Converge and Dillinger Escape Plan were the kind of bands that we’d go see and be blown away by, that’s what we wanted to do. If we could ever play a show and kids were going that crazy to our music? That was the goal when this band started, those guys were our heroes. As far as our songwriting’s come today, that’s just the evolution of all kinds of genres blended together. Our newest record got a bit more of a rock vibe as Keith’s got a lot more actual singing, but we’re not gonna lose that crazy, hardcore sound.

Photo by Ella stormark

So obviously, you play Orange Amps – do you remember your first ever encounter with the brand?
You know, that’s a really good question, and the first thought I have now that you’ve brought that up… I think there was a Weezer video in 1994 or 1995, it might have been ‘Say it ain’t so’, and they were in someone’s living room or house, and I think one of the guitarists were playing through an Orange, and all I remember seeing when I was growing up was Marshall amps and stuff like that, so this Orange one looked so cool as it stood right out. I’m gonna have to look this up though as soon as this interview’s over, and if I’m wrong, well, I’m sorry.

I don’t think I plugged into an Orange bass wise, myself, until about four years ago. I’m not a big bells and whistles kind of guy, I like the easy to use, set it and forget it kinda stuff. It’s consistent, and I know what I’ll get out of it every time I turn it on, so that’s what I love about it.

What’s your set up for tonight?
I run two rigs, on stage left I have an AD200 bass head with 8×10 cabs, and on stage right I have the bass terror through 8×10 cabs. That’s my ‘England set up’, back home I just recently got the OB1500, and that sounds great too! It’s basically like the bass terror, but with this extra little boost on it that I really like, it’s kind of got this ability for the highs to come through a little bit better, without taking away from the lows and I really need that playing with Every Time I Die as Andy and Jordan’s guitars are so loud it’s like being at an airport and you’re surrounded by jet engines. I gotta be able to cut through and keep up with the guitars.

Photo by Ella Stormark

Photo by: Micke Dinkel

First of all – can you introduce yourself?
My name is Okoi Jones at the ripe age of 33. I come from a loving, musical home, my mother being swiss and my father english/nigerian, and 3 younger sisters living around the globe. I was born in Switzerland, but my parents immigrated to New Zealand when I was 4 years old, so I have spent a proportionate part of my life there, having only moved back to Europe in 2006. My sisters and I attended a Rudolf Steiner school, furthering my interest for music, art and history. My father Paul Ubana Jones has made guitar and voice his life’s profession and I guess having him as a role model and the plethora of musical styles I grew up with at home spurred me to pick up the guitar at 12.

Can you tell us about your band Bölzer?
We are a duo from Zürich, playing a more unconventional hybrid of the black and death metal disciplines. Master of percussive disasters HzR and myself began jamming together back in 2008 and a tangible direction was established soon afterward. Our music is in essence minimalistic, utilizing only one guitar, voice and drums. This initially came about out of necessity as we were unable to find a suitable bassist, but soon grew fond of the challenge we faced when writing and performing with sparse instrumentation. The concept of the band and my lyrics revolve heavily around existentialism, philosophy, history and a general love for nature and the human condition.

What peaked your interest and got you into death and black metal in the first place?
I always loved the 70’s rock records my parents had, and it wasn’t long before I was listening to Nirvana, Metallica, Slayer and Obituary – much to my mother’s dismay I might add! During this time I started making music with a few friends, and black metal became a big passion of mine. It was the perfect soundtrack to a tumultuous adolescence, with a fascination for all things unconventional and existential. I continue to listen to a wide variety of music, including a lot of classical but my fascination with the heavier tonal spectrum remains strong… the sounds of existence!

Reading older interviews, you’ve mentioned that you’re into psychedelic drugs, which might come as a surprise to a lot of people as you’re not exactly the flower lovin’ paisley kinda guy that pops to mind when talking about LSD, acid and mushrooms – how big of a role does the psychedelics play in the music you make?
Haha, well I believe that was intended to be a passing comment, but it seems to have secured itself regular appearances ever since! We are not the drug-fueled psychonauts some take us to be, at least not to the extent of allowing any kind of substance to directly influence our music. We very rarely consume anything grossly mind-altering and even then it never finds it’s way onto a stage or rehearsal room. Needless to say, the experiences we’ve had left a lasting positive impression I’m sure and certainly allow us to view certain aspects of life from a different angle. We are both very imaginative and curious by nature so doing things differently comes naturally.

You just released your debut album ‘Hero’ a couple of weeks ago – how was the build up and the process of doing so?
Arduous! Well at least with respects to completing the artwork and layouts, and then coordinating the finer details with the pressing plant. We are well accustomed to obstacles as a band – if anything can go wrong it usually does! But any hindrances only make you stronger, so we see the process as fruitful either way. The recordings as such went very well, only more time was needed to reach a satisfactory mix which was obtained in the end. Everything was done with two stellar engineers and friends, Michael Zech and Victor Santura at the Woodshed Studio in Bavaria, so a very enjoyable, albeit demanding time! We remain overwhelmed with the growing response to the new record, something we are very grateful for!

Which three words would you use to describe the album?
Warm, resplendent and courageous.

And last but not least, why Orange?
Because aside from good looks they give my guitar the gain-laden voice of death she needs to perform victoriously on the fields of reckoning! The suffocating drone I get from my low A string and a hot Rockerverb is unmatched!

 

Photo via Radio Moscow's Facebook page

Photo via Radio Moscow’s Facebook page

You’ve been playing with Radio Moscow for quite some time now, how did you end up in the band in the first place?
It goes back to 2012 when I was playing with my other band Sacri Monti, and I briefly got to know Paul (Radio Moscow drummer) as he was living in San Diego and playing in a few other bands as well that we’d occasionally play with. When Parker (Radio Moscow singer/guitarist) moved to San Diego early 2013, he was looking for a new bass player, so Paul suggested me. Parker came along to one of the Sacri Monti shows and invited me to come jam with them. After that jam session he asked if I wanted to go on tour with them in the fall, and basically join the band. It’s been three and a half years, and here I am!

You released a live album earlier this year, ‘Live! In California!’, is there any plans of a new studio album any time soon?
Yeah, we’re currently in a period between shows and touring trying to work on a new album, which we’ll hopefully have out before next summer so we can start touring that, and repeat the cycle.

I know as a kid you picked up the guitar before bass, what made you swap?
A lot of the people I grew up jamming with is really fucking good at the guitar, so I decided to look into playing the bass as I’m influenced a lot by it rhythmically and I’ve always appreciated good bass players. I started playing it more myself and realized how much fun it was and stuck with it. We used to have jam sessions three or four times a week when I was younger, and when we started Sacri Monti I bass was what I wanted to play.

Do you find it difficult to combine the two bands?
Ehm, yeah, sort of. The past three years I’ve spent a lot of time on Radio Moscow as we’ve been touring like crazy, I think we may have done thirteen or fourteen tours over the last three years, so it’s been a lot of my time dedicated to that, but it’s all good as it’s a lot of fun. Both bands are working on new albums right now, and we’ll start touring again next year.

How long have you been using Orange?
I bought an Orange amp myself in 2014, so I’ve had my own for about two and a half years, but a few of my friends have been using Orange for a long time so I’ve used theirs prior to that when we’ve been jamming and stuff. After starting using Orange I dont really need another bass amp, it’s perfect for me.

What’s this perfect set up of yours then?
I’ve got an Orange AD200 MKIII with OBC 4×10 and 1×15 cabinets, and for pedals I just use a vintage Ibanez super tube screamer.

When off the road and not touring, is it mostly jamming with both bands that takes up your time?
Yeah, I dont have another job so it’s a lot of jamming with friends, playing pool, and just hanging out. It get’s pretty crazy on tour so it’s pretty nice to take it easy when I can. Or just keep partying at home.. But right now I do actually need to focus on writing songs for both bands new albums, this is kind of my calm before the storm.

jonny-hall-heck

Photo: Jennifer McCord

Hey dude, who are you and what are you about?
Hi, I’m Jonny Hall, the one with the bigger beard in HECK. I play guitar and bleed on things a bit.

How would you describe HECK’s music and live performances to a stranger?
Musically, HECK are an intense beast. We have always seemed to thrive off relentlessness. It’s like that moment when you have that secret scream at the mirror to purge your frustration, except very public. The live shows are essentially an arena for everyone to sack off inhibition and join us in accepting that most of real life is bollocks, ‘so let’s do whatever the fuck we want for an hour’. It’s chaotic, extreme and powerful, and it’s fucking fun.

You released your debut album ‘Instructions’ earlier this year, how has life been ever since?
It’s been difficult but rewarding. Self releasing the album means there was no one to do our dirty work for us, so we plunged headfirst into a world we knew nothing about and we’re thankfully still afloat! We’ve done some amazing tours and played to thousands of incredible people. We’re frankly amazed by the response we’ve had, people seem to have really ‘got’ the album, bizarrely. The only downside is that everything awesome that you do only makes you hungrier for more. I’ll never be completely satisfied.

Can you tell us a bit about your history and experiences with Orange?
When I was a nipper just learning to play orange amps seemed like some unobtainable relic of guitarness. Pro’s played Orange, I couldn’t play it too, as I was clearly not good enough. I played about with a few different amps in my youth but nothing ever gave me the huge sound I’d been after. I wanted something with balls. Preferably several sets. The more superfluous the better.

When I started jamming with Matt (the smaller beard in HECK) he had a Rocker 30 running into a PPC212. It sounded to full that, despite the fact that my rig was considerably more powerful than his, I genuinely couldn’t hear my guitar due to it being made to sound so thin by his. I immediately applied for a credit card because clearly, owning an Orange rig was more important than any hint of financial security. Totally worth every penny of debt.

What’s your set up?
I currently run a Rocker 30 into a PPC212 and PPC412, drive channel only, with a ProCo RAT as a ‘death’ pedal before it. When i kick that in, it sounds like the amp-apocalypse.

Back to the band – if you were all zoo animals, who’d be what animal, and why?
Paul Shelley would be a walrus. He’s mighty, girth, stubbly and wise, with a touch of class and an air of authority. The rest of us would be the shitty pointless grubs they feed to the lizards in the reptile house. We’re there out of necessity.

You recently did a massive co headline tour with Black Peaks around the UK and Europe, how is it being back home after a month of madness on the road?
It’s rubbish. It’s difficult being in a touring band as it’s like getting post holiday blues every time you get home, but from the best holiday you’ll ever have, where you feel like you’re actually achieving something with your life, but it’s actually your job, that you love, and you want to do forever. Then one day it stops and you find yourself sitting in your pants eating microwave Tesco Value macaroni cheese and dry bread, watching six consecutive seasons of Friends because you can’t be bothered to click ‘back’ on Netflix. I do get to see my girlfriend though, which is nice.

Top ten songs played in your tour van:
Talk Dirty – Jason Derulo
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While at London’s Live Evil Festival earlier this month I caught up with Horisont’s Charles, Magnus and David, which consisted mostly of backstage beers and burgers, and the occasional bearded stranger in denim high fiving them post performance.

Horisont for Dummies – can you tell us a bit about how it all started?
Charles: Horisont for Dummies – We’ve been together for a bit more than ten years. Magnus, Pontus and I go way back, we all met in school.
Magnus: That’s not true, but ok…
Charles: Well yeah, we originally had a band prior to this, which is where we met Axel, and then Horisont was formed in 2005. We’ve been playing together ever since and have released four albums. We’re releasing our fifth album next February, which will be David’s first record with us as he only joined us six months ago.
How has that been?
David: *Sighs….* (while looking incredibly sad, worn down and broken)
Kidding, it’s been really good! They’re great guys, and we play great music.

It’s clear that you’re influenced by 70’s rock, and I’ve noticed there’s a massive scene for that sort of music in Gothenburg, why do you think that is?
Charles: I’m not sure if it was like that when we started out, but then bands like ours and Graveyard were formed and did really well, and maybe that created a the scene for new bands like that.

Although most of your songs have English lyrics, you’ve got some Swedish ones in there as well – will the Swedish tunes be making an appearance on this next record?

Magnus: It’ll have one Swedish song on it which I’ll be singing, I’m doing my singing debut.

Did you guys decide primarily on English as that’ll reach a wider audience?
Charlie: We dont really make a decision of writing an English or Swedish song, we’ll kind of just make the song and then we’ll see what sort of vibe it gives us and the lyrics just happens. It’s much harder to write in your native tongue though because it easily sounds cheesy if it’s too simple. You can get away with simple lyrics in English, but not in Swedish.

So you’ve all got great taste and use Orange Amps, does any of you remember first ever encounter with the brand?
Charlie: When I was younger I was a massive Hellacopters fan and they always used Orange amps, which I guess kind of triggered this urge to get my own.
Magnus: The band we had prior to Horisont had very much like a Hellacopters-y vibe to it.
Charlie: Yeah, action rock ’n’ roll, we were very into that sort of music.

You guys are off to North America with Electric Citizen next month, what will your set up be for that tour?
Charlie
: We wont be bringing our actual own amps, as that’s too much of a hassle, but I’m pretty sure it’ll be OR50’s.

What do you look for when deciding on an amp?
Charlie:
Something that brings out the character of the instrument, but also makes it sound better. You dont want to lose your own sound, you need something that enhances it.

As mentioned earlier, I know you’re influenced by classic rock and the 70s, but was there any bands or artists you grew up listening to which is completely different from the music you’re playing now?
Charlie: Well, I went to a Backstreet Boys concert… I think I was twelve. But that’s pretty much it, after that it’s been mostly 60s and 70s music.
David: But that’s still quite a vide specter of music though, as it’s everything from rock and funk to RnB.
Charlie: Yeah, I just really like the sound of the recordings from the sixties and seventies.
Magnus: We’re all very into the production of that era.
David: The quality was a lot higher back then.

So no guilty pleasures then?
Magnus:
What’s the name of that song Axel always plays…?

Here all I could hear was a lot of whispering which ended in a ‘dont tell her!’, so I guess we’ll never know.


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Welcome to the family! What’s your thoughts having just become an official Orange ambassador?
I’m very excited to be part of the Orange family! Orange has been the dream amp or me for a while and it’s an absolute honor to be accepted as an ambassador of the brand. I was invited to the HQ a few months ago to try some amps with the techs and they were super helpful with ensuring I was getting the right tone and the best sound, not only out of the amps, but for Vodun to sound as huge as possible.

What was your first ever encounter with Orange? 
I first came across Orange amps when the Datsuns returned from the UK to New Zealand to play The Big Day Out 2004. Being a keen 17 year old guitarist, I spent most of my time dreaming of guitars and amps, and when The Datsuns stepped out onto the stage in front of bold Orange cabs it blew my mind! I had never seen such a bold, brightly-coloured amp or heard of the Orange brand before. A few days later I did some research into availability in NZ, but sadly being so far away from England, the only amps readily available and affordable were anything getting imported through Asia. It wouldn’t been until I set foot in London 3 years ago with just a guitar that I would be able to get my hands on one at Red Dog Music in Clapham. The guys were really helpful down there and as I plugged into a TH30 they saw my eyes light up – I bought it that day.

Now that you’re officially a part of the family, how does your brand spanking new Orange rig look like?
It looks, (and sounds) amazing. I’m still working on my rig’s design, but then again when has a guitarist ever not got their eye on the next pedal to add to the chain? Big shows means I’m running 3 rigs off one guitar, so I have my original TH30 as stage right, OB-1 500 Bass rig next to it with 4 x 10 cab, and my main amp is a Rockerverb III 100 through a 4 x 12. This allows me to get the feel of a full band, dropping in bass and a second guitar as needed as well as panning left and right. Smaller shows I strip it back to the Rockerverb III 100 and OB-1 500 but they still deliver great tone and punch! I throw them either side of the stage to help thicken the sound. I really love how huge the bass rig has made us sound – the built in gain in the head helps keep my signal as big as possible, where previously it was getting squashed by effects pedals.

Can you tell us a bit about your band?
Vodun is a three piece heavy psychedelic band with afrobeat inspired drums and a soul singer. Although we’re a three piece, there’s no bass player – hence why it’s so important for me to make sure my sound is as huge as possible. Vodun was actually the first band I saw live when I arrived in London and they completely blew me away! I joined after the original guitarist Ollie had to step down, but in true ritualistic spirit his Gibson guitar lives on with the band and I still use it in shows. Vodun as a religion is rooted in animism, it’s positive at its core and celebrates women in its worship of female Loas or Goddesses. As a band, we draw on this for inspiration and we try to make our shows a positive spiritualistic experience.

You guys put on quite the performance when playing live, what’s the story behind the make up and costumes?
The short and sweet answer is “to give you a reason to come and witness live music, for it to be an out of this world experience and so that you aren’t at a show thinking ‘this sounds better on CD’. More than that though, it gets us into character for our live ritual. Zel and I will always start the set staring each other down as if we are going into battle, clearing our thoughts and allowing the music to take over completely. The makeup and costumes are inspired from West African culture to help add to the aesthetic and performance of the band. I don’t think the audience at our shows would feel the same spiritual experience if we just played in black jeans and a baggy shirt. Kinda like when KISS took their makeup off….

How would you explain Vodun’s music to your, mine, or someone else’s grandmother?
I played Possession to my Nan when I was home earlier this year for my sisters wedding, “Nan, this is my loud band from London, I think you’ll like the singer, she has a great soul voice and you have been to one of my old bands shows so you know it will be loud. I’ll start you with Bloodstones so you can ease into it”

To someone elses grandmother: It’s a beautiful chaos that represents the world as we know it; we have the godly soulful voice that brings peace and harmony, we have the loud aggressive beats that can bring the deafening destruction of earth quakes and volcanoes then we have the guitar which drifts between both of these two like the human race, kind and gentle one minute and greedily struggling to be heard over the weight of the world the next – you also might want to turn your hearing aid down…

As an emerging London band, is there any other bands or artists you’ve come across we should keep an eye at?
Being fairly new to this side of the world, most bands I come across I haven’t heard of before as it takes a long time for some bands to get to NZ, so I may have mentioned some bands that have been around a bit longer than newly established but are fresh to my ears.

A couple that come to mind immediately:

Causal Nun – We had the pleasure of having them on the bill at our album release show in London and they’re causing a bit of a stir.

Church of the Cosmic Skull – Recently released their debut album to a sold out crowd. The band members have previously played for some great bands.

His Masters Voice – Genuine down to earth fantastic people, album due to be released soon, but as they are from NZ you wont get to see them live unless you are on holiday there. But go check out their style of the devils blues Jessie has a wicked voice.

Petrol Girls – Pure passion and always blow me away with their genuine execution.

God Damn – the name says it all “God Damn”

HECK – They torn the Big Red apart at the Kerrang nominations and it was just a truly impressive show. 
Slabdragger, Limb, Derelics, Shitwife
There is too much choice in London, I can’t keep up.

How has life been for Vodun since the release of “Possession” earlier this year?
Life has been hectic in a very positive way, the album has been received really well and our small tribe of followers seems to be growing bigger by the day. It’s been fantastic chatting to people after shows who have turned up not knowing what to expect and are then rendered speechless by our performance! We are getting some great gigs coming in, played Stonefree Festival with Alice Cooper and The Darkness as well as the childhood dream gig of playing Bloodstock alongside Twisted Sister, Slayer, Anthrax, Mastodon, I’m really looking forward to playing some more great European festivals next year. we have also had some great press come in – it’s a bit of an unreal experience picking up a copy of Kerrang or Classic Rock to send copies back home to your mum. In short, life seems ridiculous! 

What’s next?
Album 2! it’s going to take a lot of hard work to execute another album like Possession and keep pushing boundaries, but we’ve started gathering ideas so hopefully you should hear some new tracks being vibed out at live shows soon. We’re heading to Europe in October to play Desertfest Antwerp and a few dates in Germany then Italy. There’s a music video in the works and a UK tour with Uncle Acid & the Deadbeats at the end of the year. We’re certainly keeping busy, and it looks likely to be even more the case for next year. All fantastic news, especially now I have my new Orange rig behind me!

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During the first night of their two sold out co-headline shows at London’s Boston Music Room, I caught up with Black Peak’s Andrew Gosden and HECK’s Matt Reynolds to find out how life on the road is, and how it is sharing the spotlight. But more importantly, what their weapon of choice would be during a potential zombie apocalypse.

How is it being on a co-headliner tour compared to touring on your own?
Andrew: This tour has been great so far. It’s really interesting and exciting playing a co-headliner, you get the opportunity to play in front of people who may not necessarily buy tickets to see you, a bit like playing at a festival. It feels like the audiences have been open and accepting of both bands. I think it is a great mix of music with something for everyone. You can have a sing and rock out to our songs, and also experience the pure insanity and awesomeness of HECK!
Matt: At the very start of the tour I imagined it was  going to be incredibly nerve wracking going up against Black Peaks every night. They’re such an enormous sounding live band that it was a daunting prospect. After a few days of the tour that all faded away, although we’re both very different bands it became very evident quite quickly that we play off each other very well, both of our fan bases have come together in a wonderful way too. Having four guys that we now consider our brothers in Black Peaks side stage every night only spurs us on and feeds our appetite for carnage. I’ve been in the pit for Peaks nearly every night… Having said that, that bass guy, Guss or something I think they call him, he’s a bit of a prick.

Where did the idea of the tour come from?
Matt:
We made friends over the festival season, both Black Peaks and us were playing a lot of the same stages and I guess subliminally it just made us want to recreate that dynamic between us on a tour. It just seems to make sense, it’s like kicking an audiences ass in two very different ways every night.
Andrew: The idea of doing this co-headliner had been floating around for a while. As soon as the opportunity to play with HECK became a reality we jumped at it. We are all huge fans of the band and thought it would be great fun. They are such lovely guys!

You’re both in pretty heavy bands, is there any bands or artists you’ve been influenced by that plays music completely different to the one you play yourself?
Andrew: I listen to such a varied mix of music that I guess even subconsciously I will be taking influence from so many different genres. I am a huge fan of 70’s prog rock. Bands such as Yes, Gentle Giant, King Crimson, Pink Floyd and Jethro Tull are in constant rotation on my iPod. I am also a huge fan of bands like Autolux, Young Widows and Bjork who are very different to the music we play.
Matt: LOADS! Our van playlists are pretty much entirely made up of wonderful, luscious, over-produced pop, Steely Dan and Hall and Oates are particular favourites. Our van is chock packed full to the rafters with wall-to-wall bangers! Influences wise I’ve always listened to tonnes of blues music too, which has definitely shaped the way I write and play

Any guilty pleasures?
Andrew: I own a copy of Madonnas ‘like a virgin’ record. It’s such a great album. I guess that can be classed as a guilty pleasure..
Matt: I’d argue to the death that You’re the Voice by John Farnham is the greatest song ever written. It’s also unfollowable, there’s not a track in the world that can be played after that doesn’t then sound flat and lifeless. Robbie has been creeping in an awful lot recently too, the cheeky badger.

How does a day in the life of HECK and Black Peaks on the road look like?
Andrew: At the beginning of the tour it started off quite civilised. Now it has descended into a torrent of passive aggressive abuse and sarcastic banter.
Matt: Toil and bedlam. With a pub lunch at Weatherspoons for an hour at about 6pm-ish.

Do you remember your first ever encounter with Orange, whether it was seeing it or playing it yourself?
Matt:
I just remember seeing them on stages and in videos as a kid and thinking that they were just so damn cool and iconic. All of the coolest bands seemed to use them, it was only a matter of time until I took the plunge and got one too, I’ve played through nothing else since. When I was old enough to have a full-time job I spent my entire first month’s wages on a Rocker 30 and 2×12. I bunged it in my tiny box of a bedroom and used to give the neighbours and my ear drums hell, it was really dumb and definitely too big for my bedroom, the door couldn’t even open fully with it in there, I just had to kind of side step my way through. But I loved it and I’ve not looked back since!
Andrew: The first time I really noticed Orange amps was when I saw Converge for the first time. That iconic look and sound gripped me and I knew they were the amps I wanted to use from then on.

What do you look for in an amp?
Andrew: Something that sounds great is simple to use and reliable.
Matt:  Yeah, something that sounds huge and can withstand the horror that I throw at it! With Orange it’s all about crushing bottom end and unashamed ballsyness.

What’s your current set up, amps and pedals?
Andrew: I am currently using my AD200 and a Thunderverb 50, each running through an Orange 4×10 cab. I run the AD200 relatively clean and have the Thunderverb running really dirty. I am using the Orange amp detonator to split my signal between the 2 amps. I have the AD200 running all the time and kick in the Thunderverb for heavy sections and parts where Joe is soloing or playing lead lines.
Matt: I currently use a Thunderverb 200 (the greatest and most ridiculous guitar amp ever made) through a 2×12 and 4×12 loaded with V30s. I have a fairly simple pedalboard, but some absolutely choice little bits of wizardry on there. My favourite of which is my original Russian big muff, built like a tank and flattens like a steamroller. I couple it with a Electro-Harmonix Octave Multiplexer to achieve some ridiculously gnarly square-waved sub bass madness. I also use a EHX pitchfork and a Disaster Transport modulated delay by Earthquaker for gentler moments.

It’s the zombie apocalypse – choose your weapon of choice and explain your reasoning.
Andrew: It depends what kind of zombies we are talking about?! I think I would have to go for a crossbow. You don’t have to worry too much about ammo running out as you can reuse the arrows, you can pick them off at a safe distance and use it as a melee weapon up close. I’d like to think I’d be a badass like Darryl from The Walking Dead. In reality I don’t think I’d last too long……
Matt: I’m going with (Dillinger Escape Plan’s) Greg Puciato’s eternally punching arms. I’m not sure exactly how that would work, I guess I’d just attach them to my chest and let them punch away. They’re like a horse’s legs with hammers attached. I can just imagine them relentlessly punching away reducing zombies to rubble. No one would fuck with a guy with hammer-horse-legged arms sticking out of his chest. I’d shit ’em.

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Photo: Andy Watson

How did you get into music in the first place?
I grew up surrounded by music and the people playing it, my grandmother played and my dad played the saxophone. It was something I just naturally gravitated towards from a very young age, and it didn’t go away. I think you either have it in you or you dont, and for me it was just something I stuck with.

Was there any specific bands or artists that led you onto the path of playing the music you do?
My dad listened to a lot of classic rock, which definitely turned me onto guitar based music, and then at 11 I found bands like Nirvana, Slipknot and Smashing Pumpkins, and from that ventured off down a few different paths that led me to where I am today.

What records are you currently listening to?
I’ve kind of been kicking it old school, and I’ve actually been listening to a lot of Marilyn Manson recently, ‘Disposable Teens’, that kind of era. I’m also a die hard Placebo fan, so they’re always on rotation.

Did you always know that this is what you would end up doing?
I never knew, but I always hoped.

Do you feel like you have been faced with certain challenges being a female musician within a genre that is predominantly male dominated?
You definitely get the occasional sexism and mistreatment, or people thinking you dont know your own gear or what you’re talking about because you’re female, if that happens I tend to just hit them back, prove them wrong and shut them down.

How long have you been using Orange?
It hasn’t been too long actually, I’ve only been using it a few months but so far it’s been really great.

What’s your set-up?
I’ve got an OB1-500 head and the new O Bass.

You guys have had a busy year, how is the rest of the year looking?
We were away the first four months of the year and you get so used to this weird lifestyle on the road, so as soon as you come back you dont really know what to do with yourself. We’re heading back out on tour later this year as we’ll be touring Europe with Turnover, we haven’t been to Europe since January so I’m really looking forward to that!

Can you tell me us a bit about how the three of you met and got the band started?
Jeff, Noah and I all grew up in the same scene in Bellingham, Washington, which is a small town so we all kind of knew each other. I was just coming out of another band and we all wanted to do something different, so we got together, gave it a go and we just stuck with it.

Did you have a mutual idea of what kind go music you wanted to make, or was that just a result of the three of you coming together with different ideas?
We did a lot of experimenting, when we first started playing together we would just thrash around and play as fast as we could, without vocals. We were all into Converge and Dillinger Escape Plan and that kind of vibe, but also into 70s prog rock like YES, King Crimson and bands like that, so we were just trying to figure out how we could put it together. We started experimenting with traditional song structure, and that was when it really clicked.

Listening through your album I do find a lot of different genres, which keeps it really interesting.
People who listen to the album seems to have a similar reaction to you, they don’t know how to classify it or call it, which is in the win column for us, we love that kind of stuff.

You released your album ‘Harvest of Darkness’ last year, have you been busy since doing so?
Absolutely, when the album came out we were touring with Red Fang, followed by a big tour with Kvelertak who’s on the same label as us, Roadrunner. Then we had about a month of rehearsing for this, and now we’re back at it. So to answer your question, yeah we’ve been busy.

What’s your relationship with Orange?
I haven’t used it for long, touring in the England I couldn’t not use Orange, so I got a Thunderverb 200, and when I plugged into soundcheck I just knew I wanted an entire Orange set up, I was in love. It actually kind of shook me up a bit.

Do you remember the first time you saw an Orange amp?
Yeah, I went to see The Blood Brothers, which is from my home town, and I remember they’d just gotten signed and were putting on a show, and their guitarist Cody had two Orange half stacks, and it just looked so cool with the bright colour and the vintage logo. They were just the coolest band for me at the time, so I remember thinking, ‘THAT’S cool!’

You say you’ve been touring a lot, how does your day to day schedule look while on tour?
Sometimes we have to get up really early for a long drive and an early load in and soundcheck, if we’re lucky we’ll have a few hours to explore outside the venue, which we always try to do. We don’t really get that much time, but then again we get to see the entire country while driving through it.

What’s the highlight for Wild Throne thus far?
There’s always the one highlight after the next, instead of one definite moment. We never take anything for granted. There’s a few one that sticks out, getting to meet our producer Ross Robinson and make an album with him, traveling to Europe to play our music, that’s a dream for a kid playing guitar in his room.