It's my pleasure to be interviewing Al from one of my fave UK Underground Sludge Metal bands - Rise To Thunder. These ace Sludge Metallers have been going since 2001 but haven't had the exposure they so desperately deserve.
They released a few releases mainly 2008's - Slagnoramus - which is a heavy colossal slab of Sludge Metal riffs. If you're a fan of Zonderhoof or Karma To Burn then these guys will be right up your street. I have been a fan of them since 2009 when I heard this album and they have released
Rise To Thunder haven't been active on the live gig circuit for a number of years. But all that is about to change in 2013. As Rise To Thunder are about to return in a very big way indeed both musically and on the live stage.
Rise To Thunder are about to perform their first gig in years supporting recent Sludgelord faves - Monolith Cult at Monolith Cult's Record Release Party. They will be joined by other Sludgelord faves - Bastard Of The Skies. And they are busy recording their first album in 5 years to be released by Future Noise Records later this year.
I was asked would I like to interview these guys. And me being the deranged fan/stalker that I am said yes right away. So I had to catch up with these guys to see how they are doing.
Its a pleasure SLUDGELORD thanks for being interested enough to wanna know a bit more about us. We are HIGH today.
Q2 - Can you give people a brief history on how the band came about.
Well myself Al, (guitar) Peet, (bass) and Muff,(drums) have been great friends for something like at least half of our lives now, rise to thunder have been together for ten years as the three of us in a band, rise to thunder met through the bands we were in, had similar musical tastes, were the best of friends and found a point where myself and Muff were not in a band so we got Pete in on bass who were also both great friends with jammed and decided straight away there was a direction we were all happy to go in together as a band. You might also be interested to know we got the name for the band from farting, there’s a real strong sense of humour between the three of us.
Q3 - Now you have been quiet of late both musically and on the live stage. Was there a reason behind this. And why come back now. (Though am mega happy about this. Love your 2008 album – Slagnoramus).
We did have Danny from Shallow/Charger on second guitar for a couple of years but madly its 5 years since we parted ways with Dan, Dan plays on slagnoramus. We did a few shows when it came “out” then all hell broke loose Dan joined charger, Muff was Ill from a long term stomach problem and underwent surgery and I started my own business and pete and myself decided to have a hiatus to enable muff to get well, pete and I were involved with space witch for a while but we always planned to return to rise once things had settled with our drummer, Danny had a bunch of other stuff going on and we started jammin again without him and decided to remain as a three piece as we were originally. Pete and myself left spacewitch and we got concentrating on the new album.
Q4 - You are currently recording a new album to be released later this year via Future Noise Recordings. Can you tell us how that came about and what we should expect on the new album.
The new album is taking us an age to finish as we have had diffficulty finding time to do that, but its getting there it will have a different feel than slagnoramus personaly I think it is nastier. There’s less psychedelia and more anger. We have all been through some rough times in the last 5 years and I think it comes out through the music, muff has been absolutely obliterating his drums recently. I'm super excited to get the album finished and get out on the road to do shows and take peoples heads off there”s classic rock influences in there as well as super fast and super slow stuff some of the new material is really grim and horrible.
Its all going to be tied together with effects and samples the same as the slagnoramus album the finishing touches are what we are taking our time with the main tracks are recorded we just in the process of selecting samples and figuring out pieces to keep it all flowing, future noise are releasing it on vinyl so it will be a double sided battering ram.
Q5 - You are about to perform your first live gig in years supporting Monolith Cult. You guys excited and nervous at performing at the gig.
Well its not years as we have played some shows in the last couple of years in our home town, but they have been very occasional due to all the other stuff we have had going on and also due to the lack of venues in our town.
Also having no product out there makes it tricky to get shows out of town especially if no one has heard our material. We are nervous and excited about playing live I always stress a bit before a show just because I want to do my best and give a great performance. Muff gets real excited as he can unleash his fury on the kit and pete is really chilled he always laughs at me stressing about things before we get on stage, its always good to get that first chord struck in front of the audience I can relax then we are quite different as individual people so its really good that onstage you get this combination of our personality’s producing this maelstrom of outrageous volume and dynamics. The intention is to take you far out and pulverise.
Q6 - Is there a scene for you to perform regularly in your home town or do you have to perform further afield.
There is a good scene in stoke it’s just been unfortunate lately because venues have struggled to make money and a lot of them have closed it seems the doom/stoner gigs are getting more popular lately. We don't like to play so often in our home town as a rule I think if we play infrequently it tends to attract a larger audience.
Q7 - What is the gig scene like in your home-town.
We probably get a decent stoner gig once a month in stoke, Rob at functional onion has been doing a great job recently getting some of the upcoming UK doom bands on in stoke. And there are other promoters who get some bigger names in, high on fire played in January. we have had some other great bands play stoke over the years we have been lucky to share the bill with many of them (5ive/ramesses/grief) we have also taken Manchester to heart in a big way due to our label future noise being based there, Dave and Paul have had us play with some incredible bands there (Ufomammut/Weedeater).
Q8 - The UK Sludge/Doom/Stoner Metal scene is currently on the rise with many brilliant bands currently out there. Which bands are you currently digging. Any you like to recommend to our readers.
Grimpen Mire impressed the shit out of me the other week at their show in Manchester with Ishmael who also floored me, the new Spacewitch recording is really good and i'm really pleased that Daz is getting some respect in the doom scene for his commitment to his band after many difficulties with members coming and going. It seems at the minute they have found a stable line up and I hope they can progress in the way Conan have.
I had to mention Conan I have been good mates with Jon Davis for a good number of years now me and him are proper gear heads Jon is another guy who has worked his ass off like Daz to get his band in the top ranks of the UK sludge/doom or caveman music scene haha.
Q9 - Do you guys have full times jobs to contend with. Or is music classed as your full time job.
Yeah we all have jobs I own my own business selling top quality professional standard bmx bikes, its another thing I have done for many years as a hobby. I am not that much of a daredevil these days so I just tend to fix local kids bmx bikes and support the bmx scene in stoke, I have become a well respected “older” guy in the uk bmx scene. Muff works in the motor industry at a vehicle hire company and Pete is a full time gardener. I really wish we could have time to do the band more it really is something we love doing and take a lot of pride in. I get quite emotional when people write cool stuff about our music or say good things after a show we put a lot of heart into the music and to be respected is all that matters, there was a point where we were doing a lot of shows and not getting any money and it demoralised us a bit.
I guess part of the reason I decided to open my own business, so that I had an income. I had worked In a guitar store for ten years before opening the bmx shop and thought it wasn't right to be doing gigs and not getting paid but now the shop is a success I see the band more as a creative outlet and a hobby and we can afford to get the equipment we need and I suppose the job subsidises the band. Future noise have been great in keeping us motivated and we owe it to them really that we still have the fire to continue doing this band which we love very much indeed. We'd all love rise to thunder to be our full time job but in reality we have to accept it’s just a hobby that we are very much obsessed with.
Q10 - Are your family and friends supportive of your music and the decisions you make when performing with the band.
Yeah they are they don't have a choice really we have always considered rise to be a family anyway we really are brothers who take care of each other. When muff was ill with his stomach (hiatus hernia) me and Pete never thought for one minute of getting in a standby drummer or replacing him even temporarily muff style is unique and it was his idea to start rise to thunder as a band so we wouldn't of been rise to thunder without him, I guess we are the family.
Q11 - Which bands and artists influence you on your music. And have you met any of your musical heroes.
Its hard to say who influences us I got into rock music as a kid as my dad owned a record store I dabbled with hip hop and electronic music in the 80s then thrash death metal grunge and industrial in the 90s, pete and muff were pretty much the same i'd throw in that muff was more down the punk/hardcore road and pete is into all sorts of obscure stuff it really is a great blend of music that we have been swimming in during our lives it makes rise very interesting as we dont strictly follow a style of music we want to play we just let stuff come out of our heads and jam it out if it works it works.
Q12 - What is the song-writing process in the band. Is it a group collective or is it down to one individual.
We jam shit out and if stuff is cool we make arrangements from the variations on the riffs sometimes we struggle to get out of a riff but thats where the fun is making odd changes and tempo variations. Its slow process and we dont write tons of songs so we have to make sure we work on the best stuff we come out with. We all contribute to the writing process.
Q13 - What are the most and least rewarding aspects of participating with the band. Obviously the reality of how expensive it is being in a band could be considered as a negative aspect
obviously respect from others is the most rewarding part the most negative aspect I think is the struggle to get gigs and find the time to work on new material and promote the band, theres also people who jump on bandwagons for the wrong reason that take out of the scene and not put into it, that stuff pisses us off, people who see money before creativity and the spiritual side of life. Its just a shame we have to deal with all that stuff because after all a band isn't going to run on thin air. I guess money and time is the punisher. If you have the time there’s no money coming in, if you have the money there’s no time because you're too busy earning it.
Q14 - I think Slagnoramus was ahead of it's time. Instrumental Sludge/Stoner Metal Music was only starting to gain momentum in 2008. Now we have loads of great bands like yourselves starting to make a name for themselves over the last few years. Are you proud of that album. Did you wish you had more success with it. As it stands the test of time in my eyes anyway.
Hey thanks for that yeah we worked our arses/asses off doing that album, its a long time ago and our circumstances as individuals were a lot different I lived next door to Pete and we could spend so much more time working on the material it probably took us 2 years to put it together, the new album has taken us 4 years to get into the first recording session.
I guess the hiatus had a big part to blame for that as well as personal issues and problems and other distractions. I'm really pleased tho that in the last 12 months we have got back to the tight trio that we got so much attention for being a few years ago. Life threw a lot of spanners in the rise to thunder works especially the mistake of trying to do everything ourselves with our doomed label Negatropolis, we should of got slagnoramus out through future noise at the time.
I am very pleased Dave has supported us throughout tho I am glad we got the machine working again. I feel the new album and future noise supporting it will see a big difference in the attention we get as a band and maybe we can tour Europe as Conan have done and have some fun which is what its all about really. We still have a lot of fun together in the band and that’s the most important thing.
Q15 - Has the Sludge/Stoner Metal blogging and zine community been a great help in getting your music across. I know The Sleeping Shaman recently did a superb article on your band for you releasing Slagnoramus on Bandcamp as well.
Yeah sleeping shaman has been totally supportive of us since first finding out about us when we sneakily slipped a couple of CDs into Dave noises hands at a Ramesses show in Manchester that he was promoting all those years ago, we feel that fn and shaman are our management team in a way they kick our arses every so often and we do stuff its really nice to have that support, Julian Cope wrote some cool stuff about us on his head heritage site when the future noise release “Master of Infinite Wisdom” came out too, watch out for that and our 2004 “live in stoke” album to get digital releases.
Q16 - Has BandCamp been a big help of yet. Or are you still waiting for the scene to take notice once again.
Yeah its been a really good response so far we have had a good number of downloads of slagnoramus already and it has funded our trip to Bradford so keep the downloads coming in guys we really do appreciate your support and if you want us to come play your town get in touch and we will do our very best to sort it out.
Q17 - If the gig with Monolith Cult is a big success will you be performing any more dates. Will you be performing around the country or just individual dates in your home town.
We have a show next week in our home town I don't know whether this interview will get published before but check out functional onion on facebook for details of that and loads of wild shows in stoke on trent. Check out our facebook page and bandcamp site for more gigs coming up I hope we get the new album out very soon too but we do need to finish it off and mix/master so that’s going to be a few months away.
We are absolutely determined to get rid of our reclusive band tag and get out there as much as possible and do shows wherever and whenever possible any promoters who are interested in us give us a shout we will do our very best to work things out and come and destroy your minds.
Q18 - If you could provide any advice to people wanting to start a band, what would it be.
Don't jump on bandwagons do what is in your heart.
Q19 - Finally do you have anything to say to our readers.
We would sincerely like to thank you sludgelord for quizzing us and being interested in us and really liking slagnoramus, it was in hindsight a disgrace that we didn't get Slagnoramus out through future noise back then, I guess now we have a 7 year relationship with future noise and those guys are for real we hope the new album really gives the label and the band all the attention possible, check out all the bands on the future noise roster ten years old recently celebrated by Dave and Paul so its great those guys are really down with some amazing music.
We have so much to thank them for … thanks also to everyone who has kept telling us to keep going through all those bad times especially Daz from space witch rob onion and many others in stoke and manchester who truly believe in us. Thanks to everyone who came to our shows and made noise when it mattered it really is the best buzz playing live so promoters get in touch with us, check out what all the fuss is about.
Thanks to Al for doing this interview. All the best with forthcoming gigs and new album. Can't wait for that one to be released. Also thanks to Dave at Future Noise for arranging this interview for me. Much apprecaited dude.
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