Bl’ast

Bl’ast
‘For Those Who Graced The Fire’ EP
Rise Records

blast_photo

In the mid-eighties, iconic Californian hardcore demons Bl’ast took Black Flag’s menacing heavy-fusion template created on their ‘My War’ album and ran with it, unleashing three albums from 85-89 on SST Records that blew minds, and the genre, apart. In 2013, with Southern Lord having just reissued the bands back-catalogue, Bl’ast took to the road again with original vocalist Clifford Dinsmore and guitarist Mike Neider playing alongside Nick Oliveri and Joey Castillo from Queens Of The Stoneage and the results, unsurprisingly, were devastating.

Re-inspired by the power of the music, the band hit the studio and have now recruited Dave Grohl and ex-Black Flag bassist Chuck Dukowski to fill in for Nick and Joey who had touring commitments, to record two new tracks for a new 7” EP. Now, you don’t have to be a rocket scientist to work out that that little combination can only be one thing, utterly explosive!

Sure enough, when first track ‘For Those Who Graced The Fire’ kicks in, Grohl’s unmistakable pounding drums detonate into life and the band lurch through a weird, contorted time signature that jars and splutters, uncomfortable and unsettling but powerful and addictive. ‘The Pulse’ is next, igniting with a churning signature Dukowski bass run before kicking into 60 seconds of prime nasty hardcore. Perfect.

It’s so good to hear Grohl back behind the drum kit and in good company, rather than the mainstream pap he churns out in his day job. His involvement will shine a lot of light upon this release. It’s deserved. The world needs to hear Bl’ast.

James Sherry

Pre-order the 7″ here or on iTunes.

Of Mice & Men Interview

Of Mice & Men InterviewThere is one band that is currently taking over metalcore. You don’t have to look very far to find out who it is, flick through any magazines, browse on sites like Tumblr and they are everywhere. ‘They’ are Of Mice & Men. Not only are the band known for their punishingly heavy shows and bouncing riffs, Of Mice & Men have a reputation for being one of the most positive and enthusiastic bands in the scene at the moment.

Crossfire’s Emma Wallace caught up with vocalist Austin Carlile and drummer Val Arteaga ahead of their sold out London show as part of their Autumn/Winter UK & Europe tour. Here’s what went down…

You’ve been massively busy this year, but what’s been the highlight of your recent touring schedule?

Val: Everyday that we get to get on stage is a highlight. We spent the summer on Vans Warped Tour and every single date of that tour was insane. We’ve just finished an August Burns Red tour, and again every single date on that was amazing.

Austin: We’re here ready to start a sold out UK run, how awesome does that sound? That needs to be a highlight. We played New York last night, woke up, flew here, got here and have to play a show tonight. Its hectic but its awesome.

Sounds very intense, but like you say, awesome too. Do you suffer from jet-lag with all the traveling?

Austin: Oh boy yeah! But today I had an English Breakfast… man! £5 but it was massive. That helps sort the jet lag out.

Val: Oh man I’m so jealous. Can’t believe I missed out on that.

You’ve changed the set list around a bit recently, which songs get the pits started?

Austin: All of them! ‘The Depths’, ‘Ohioisonfire’… Oh and ‘The Flood’ is a banger. Anything heavy.

Well your new stuff is particularly heavy, is that the way your looking to go in the future?

Austin: I’d say it’s more like a step for us. We wanted these last tracks to come out as their own piece, we wanted to show our fans this is a direction we can go but not one we may stay with. For the longevity of the band, I think we’ll stay with the melodicore style, we’re a band that includes singing, and that will be something that won’t ever fully disappear.

Does that mean clean vocals will be coming back when you release new material?

Val: Yeah, for sure.

Austin: Yes. 100%.

When is the new album coming out? Everyone is excited for it!

Austin: 2013…!

Val: If the world doesn’t end.

Austin: What?! I don’t want the world to end. Why’s the world ending?

Val: I don’t know it’s just supposed to soon.

Austin: Oh man. Well I don’t care. As long as the world isn’t dead before our third album, it can explode the week after, but it’s something the world needs to hear!

Who do you think are the best acts around at the moment in your scene?

Austin: Our boys in Memphis May Fire who will tear apart the UK. And, well because of their front men, Linkin Park and Slipknot. Corey Taylor, man he’s just awesome, the best front man around.

He is awesome! Who do you think is the best front man of all time then?

Austin: Frank Sinatra! Haha hands down Frank! And I can answer for Val, he’ll say Michael Jackson.

Val: Hell yeah. Michael Jackson is the man!

Austin, so would you say Corey Taylor and Chester Bennington have inspired you?

Austin: Well obviously a bit. They are amazing. But when I started the band I never thought we’d get anywhere near their level, I’m pretty realistic. And still if someone said to me right now that I would be touring with Slipknot, I’d be like ‘Man… So sick!’.

Is your persona on stage different to who you really are?

Austin: For sure! For Val that’s ridiculous, of course he’s different! Emma you’ve seen him beat the shit out of a drum kit and look at him now, he’s like a like a puppy.

Val: True. I feel like our personas will always be a bit different on stage, but they aren’t massivelly different to what we are really like.

Austin: Hey, mine’s different!

Val: How so?

Austin: Well in real life do I walk around growling at people? No! I don’t spit at people in real life either.

Val: I guess not, but you’re pretty weird in real life and on stage!

Austin: It’s a bit like being in a theatre, you are different on stage, you play a character. I’m like Dr Jeckyll and Mr Hyde, a bit like the single Austin and the not single Austin… too completely different people!

Val: Aww…

Austin: Dude that wasn’t meant for an ‘Aww’, it was meant for an ‘Oh. Shit’. I’m dangerous. Actually I’m being stupid, I’m not at all. But single Austin is tastefully playful, like I am on stage.

Val: Dude no one cares…

Before you go on stage, how do you get ready?

Val: It’s a secret.

Austin: No, I’ll break it down for you. Phil and Tino set up and do all the gear and stuff and Alan and I stay on the bus and we get pumped to music, something heavy like Lamb Of God or Korn. We head bang together! Then the tour manager is like ‘Guys come on!’ And we meet up with other guys, have a little huddle, get more pumped. Alan yells at us. He’s a bit mental. And then we shout at each other, go more mental. Then we are ready. I love it.

Last time I spoke to you guys, you felt something was lacking on tour, do you remember?!

Austin: No.. Oh wait. Yeah. A tour kitten. Yeah I caught up with Emma before a show and went on about cats. We wanted a tour kitten to come on the bus with us. A cute kitten to cuddle. Actually last time I spoke to you I was dressed up as a cat, and now I’m all over Tumblr like that, a bit embarrassing…

So my last question is do you have a tour kitten now?

Austin: No, unfortunately not. Although Alan does have a kitty back home, she’s real cute. I moved on from cats, I want a tour puppy now. Man I’m so metal…!

Austin Carlile, Of Mice & Men

Words: Emma Wallace
Portrait Photos: Tim Easton
Live Photos: Emma Wallace

Memphis May Fire Interview

Dallas band Memphis May Fire are rapidly emerging in the metalcore scene and blew away many fans and critics alike with latest release ‘Challenger’. This autumn the band headed over to our shores with Of Mice and Men for a fully sold out Rise Records tour. We sent Emma to catch up with singer Matty Mullins backstage at the London date. Although Matty has been reported as coming across with arrogant swagger on stage, the Memphis May Fire front man is actually impeccably polite and full of honest truths about the scene and his band. Here’s what he had to say…

Matty Mullins, Memphis May Fire

Your older brother is also a musician, do you think his example has influenced you?

Of course, 100%. When I was growing up, his band was doing really well in the Christian scene, and they were touring in a bus just a few months into their career, so seeing that was like ‘Wow’. I also found his live show really inspirational, it wasn’t just his success that motivated me.

My sister dated a lot of musicians, so I got to meet lots of interesting people through her. My whole family has influenced me really, my mum took me to contemporary Christian concerts! I went to DC Talk as one of my first shows, my mum used to take me to Creation Fest, so musically I think I had a privileged upbringing.

My brother was living it and my mum and sister also got me involved, so I guess I was involved musically from a very young age. I’ve always known how the game works, I thank my family for that.

Which songs are you most proud of lyrically?

Jeez… I know it’s not really a proper answer, but I guess all of them. I can’t say a specific song as the albums are all different from each other.

If you listen to all our albums back to back you can see that my lyrical style changes. ‘Sleepwalking’ was more poetry and philosophically influenced, ‘Between The Lies’ was more me writing politically and morally. From then on we went to ‘The Hollow’ and that was a significant change, it was written about people that I know and experiences that people go through. Not necessarily things I have personally experienced but events people close to me have. Death, divorce and other issues are mentioned there. I think it gives our fans an outlet to relate to. ‘Challenger’ is different again. It’s about us as a band and who we are as people, and it reveals some things we struggle with.

As every album is different, my lyrics don’t stand alone. It’s more like a journey. I love that some people are touched by my lyrics, but I’m not hugely proud of them currently. I don’t think I have peaked. There is still a long way to go and I perceive myself to write much better lyrics in the future.

Do you think your personality comes across differently in the media and on stage to what is actually is like?

Yes. For sure. Our music is somewhat heavy and wild. This isn’t my personality. I’m not a manly man. I don’t drink massive amounts or like tough sports. I don’t live a ‘heavy’ lifestyle. A little bit of my personality comes out through my music, but the bold image I display on stage is quite different to who I really am. I’m quite quiet and through our music I can release emotions that I can’t release day to day. I feel I can articulate myself and get my point across in a louder fashion through music than I can through any other means.

Memphis May Fire, Electric Ballroom 10.10.12

Who would you consider to be the best front man in history?

Oh my gosh! That is a difficult question. I’m going to have to really think about this one. I reckon some people might hate me for my answers, as my musical upbringing was very different from many others. I reckon everyone would be like ‘Iggy Pop’ or ‘Mick Jagger’, but for me, it’d be Toby Mac from DC Talk. Despite being in his late 40s he still goes wild on stage and he does a hip-hop project on the side that’s really cool. There are some great front men in the heavier world currently. Jake from August Burns Red is amazing. In our genre, he’s hands down the best. I also want to mention Anthony Green, he’s amazing too.

If we are talking about stage presence, I think Christian from Blindside is so different, but in a good way. His moves are like no other. He doesn’t do metal stomps or hardcore hand movements. He just does flowing dance moves, it’s like he really connects with the music.

You’re on tour with Of Mice & Men at the moment, Austin Carlile is another much loved front man, what do you think it is that makes him so popular?

I think it’s because he’s developed so much over the past few years that he’s been touring. I saw videos from the Attack Attack! days and he’s made massive steps since then. And what’s more, it’s really inspiring that he’s doing this, and so well, with such a serious heart condition.

He has to be careful on tour because of his condition, but it doesn’t stop him being awesome on stage. He’s a real passionate dude as well, he loves his fans and he always tries to give the best performance he can which is really important when you are fronting a band.

What qualities make up a good front man?

To be original anymore is impossible. Everything has been done. So taking something that’s not original and putting your own twist on it is really important. Showing individuality is the key I suppose.

So Memphis May Fire are on the latest Punk Goes Pop album, how did you get involved and why did you chose ‘Grenade’?

Well, we were approached, there was a huge list of songs, and ‘Grenade’ looked like it suited us best.

You see, we’ve never been a funny band. We don’t try and be popular by acting stupid, so we wanted to pick something that still reflected our style. Lyrically, I think it transcends the sort of thing we write rather than being a more stupid style of pop song. On ‘The Hollow’ there are a lot of songs about heartache and ‘Grenade’ is sort of similar. It was fun to sing it. I’m not the biggest Bruno Mars fan but I think his voice is really cool, I respect him. Although I’m pleased with the song, and I think the whole album is great, its not something we are looking to perform live. We don’t want to be a band that rides off someone else success.

What are you planning for the rest of 2012 and 2013?

Literally two days after we get off this tour we will be heading out with Asking Alexandria, As I Lay Dying and Suicide Silence in America. That’s going to be massive- maybe the biggest tour we’ve done as a band. I’m so stoked to be going out with As I Lay Dying, they are iconic. Then after that tour we are off to Soundwave Festival in Australia, then there are two more US tours that haven’t been announced yet.

It sounds very full on! Will you be back over in the UK at all?

Yes. That I can confirm. The details are still a secret at the moment, but it’s going to be awesome!

Words: Emma Wallace
Live Photos: Emma Wallace
Portrait: Tim Easton

Memphis May Fire, Electric Ballroom 10.10.12

New Miss May I Video Out Today


Rise Records have been offering some beasts recently, only a little while back we were treated to a re-issue of Of Mice & Men’s ‘The Flood’ with the addition of some intense new tracks. Now it’s Ohio’s melodic metal band, Miss May I‘s time to shine.

Today they unveil their latest video for ‘Balled Of A Broken Man‘, which hosts ferocious drumming and some sick riffs. The track is taken from the stunning new album ‘At Heart’ which charted at #32 in the US Billboard charts. The record was produced by famed record producer Machine (Lamb of God, Every Time I Die, Suicide Silence) this past winter at Machine Shop in Belleville, New Jersey. You can catch the vid at the bottom of the page.

Miss May I return to the UK later this year for a string of dates with the epic Texas In July and homegrown new comers Heart In Hand. The dates are as follows:

NOVEMBER
30th Club Academy, Manchester
DECEMBER
1st Classic Grand, Glasgow
2nd O2 Academy 2, Birmingham
3rd Wedgewood Rooms, Portsmouth
4th The Cockpit, Leeds
5th Rescue Rooms, Nottingham
6th Relentless Garage, London
7th Great Hall 2, Cardiff

Tickets are on sale now and are priced from £10.00.

Words: Emma Wallace

Interview: Sharks

With influences ranging between The Clash, The Buzzcocks, Joy Division and Black Flag, the Leamington Spa quartet, Sharks, are right up our street. We caught up with the James Mattock (lead vocals and guitar) and Andrew Bayliss (guitar) backstage at Hevy Festival before their set to discuss their album No Gods, signing to Rise Records and their plans for the future…

So for those who don’t know much about Sharks, if you could describe your band in three words, what would you say?

James: God I don’t know….

Andrew: Well, I’m going to go all cheesy and say, ‘Rock. And. Roll’. Sounds so cheesy I know, but it does sum us up quite nicely.

You’ve been on tour with some awesome bands, who would you say are the most inspiring bands you’ve toured with?

James: Oh I don’t know, there are so many… but Social Distortion was cool. Gallows, The Gaslight Anthem…

Andrew: We’ve been so lucky with tours, we’ve had some really good ones. We’ve had a mixed bag, lots of different genres and plenty of big names.

You’re signed to Rise Records, they are currently famous for their metalcore bands, although they do have some sweet punk bands like The Bouncing Souls. What was it that swayed you to Rise Records?

Andrew: They were just very enthusiastic and passionate about wanting to put out our records. We were a little skeptical at first because as you say their roster does lean more towards metalcore, and at the time they hadn’t signed The Bouncing Souls and other bands like that. We were one of the first bands for them to sign that was different to what they had been doing but they were so passionate we went with it.

James: Yeah, we knew of their aspirations to branch out and we were proud to be the band they wanted to branch out with, so yeah, we just went for it! They are a very good label if you want to attempt to crack America. So far they’ve helped us a lot. The only negative thing about signing to Rise Records is that people might see our video on Rise Records Youtube etc and then be a bit confused, like,’Hang on, this doesn’t sound like Of Mice & Men, where the fuck is the breakdown?!’.

Andrew: We were just enthusiastic for people to hear the record, and Rise really wanted to get it out there. We’re pleased to have signed to them.

How has the overall reception been for your latest record ‘No Gods’?

James: Overall its been great! Even these more sort of hardcore kids are into it, I’ve heard they regard it as their ‘chill out’ music, which is a little odd as essentially we are still a punk band! But whatever, as long as people are getting into it, that’s cool!

Andrew: I’m still really proud of that record. We went in with something that is the polar opposite to what we put out, but I think that’s for the best. Brian McTernan, the producer, really helped to reign us in and get a more focused sound, because to start with, looking back it was more of just a jam!

James: I can’t put my finger on it, there’s material that has inspired us from all over. Some really old stuff too. We wrote it over a few years, whereas the current record we are writing over a smaller time scale, like two months! So its hard to say what our influences were when its such a long time span. We were just aiming for a solid debut, a timeless guitar record.

Andrew: We wanted the production raw, we wanted to walk on that line between a nicely produced record and something that is still quite alive. Kind of like The Gaslight Anthem, although they definitely have a different sound, its that kind of guitar record.

Are there plans in the pipeline for new material and tours?

James: Yeah, its going good. I guess we are about half way through a record. We’ll aim for about 20 songs, then cut back.

Andrew: We want to get it wrapped up as quick as possible to keep the positive attitude going and get people to hear new stuff. As much as we like ‘No Gods’ we aren’t going to sit on it for too long.

James: We want it written by the end of the year, and I guess we’ll have to see where we are financially, we might have to record it ourselves. At the moment we are focusing on getting the best songs we can to get out there as quickly as possible.

Andrew: We aren’t on the road as much as we have been, so we are using all this down time to write. Although saying that, we are heading out to Australia soon which we are so looking forward to, and then Japan after that!

James: Hopefully we’ll have a UK/Euro tour soon, maybe November time.

WORDS: EMMA WALLACE

Sharks

No Gods
(Rise Records)

In Sharks’ debut full-length, they’ve married an old-school punk spirit with a love of bands like Joy Division and Nick Cave. Creating an aesthetic steeped in punk rock influences like The Clash and The Buzzcocks but with a lighter more radio friendly feel, Sharks are definitely going to be winning over more fans this year. The band have been busy working the US hard on tour with the likes of Social Distortion. But in the UK they’ll be hitting the road with indie darlings Tribes. Their touring partners certainly reflect the flexibility of their sound and the ability for their rousing working class anthems to fit into numerous scenes and genres. Sharks also have ground in common with the likes of The Gaslight Anthem as they purvey a similarly accessible punk-infused brand of simple rock songs.

James Mattock’s earnest vocals are endearing and take turns with some pure rocking guitar riffs which are simple but wholly encompass the band’s approach – straightforward songwriting with catchy tunes and subtle instrumentation. Lead single ‘Arcane Effigies’ is a lilting number with minimal lyrical content but a charm that draws you in. ‘Luck’ features some beautiful-sounding guitar patterns that although they’re very prominent, blend perfectly into the texture of the music and exhilarate the listener in what is otherwise a fairly downbeat track.

Somewhat of an anomaly on US label Rise Records’ roster (primarily known for its championing of various metalcore bands), there is definitely something retro about Sharks. But in the best possible way. They’ll definitely have your feet tapping and before you know it you’ll be singing along with as much heart as is present in this debut from the band.

Winegums.