Formed in 2010, with a desire to play and create music in the vein of old school doom, PEACEMAKER was born. Friends and former band members, Sam Taylor and Richard Maw, soon recruited Al Lawson to the fold, eventually finding a voice for the project in shape Al Osta (Ravens Creed/Satanic Dystopia).
Following their inception, PEACEMAKER started to create music together and would eventually release a 3 song sampler in 2012. It was a further 18 months again, before they unleashed their debut record, Cult.45. Mainly a studio project to vent their frustrations, PEACEMAKER are set to make their live debut imminently, therefore I thought it would great to catch up with these guys. Here is my interview with Richard Maw (Drums) and Al Lawson (Bass, Engineer/Producer)
Welcome to the Sludgelord, pleased to talk to you guys and welcome.
(SL) Who are you, state your name(s) and purpose?
Al, bass player & recording engineer/producer.
(SL) Summarise your musical journey(s) this point?
Al: I knew Maw & Taylor through Al and started playing bass on some songs they'd been jamming, then Al got involved when we were doing the record.
Maw: Yeah, Taylor and I have been playing metal together, on and off, since we were 12 years old. We decided to start writing the kind of stuff we wanted to listen to; old school doom with some influences from thrash/death and trad as well.
(SL) What can fans look forward to from you in 2014? How is your schedule shaping up?
Al: We have a gig on January 25th (The Unicorn, Camden) supporting Bast and we've got an EP's worth of songs written so hopefully we'll get that recorded and out early/mid-2014.
Maw: We would love to do a good festival or support slot, but it all depends what we get offered.
(SL) What springs to mind when you think about the completion of your current record?
Al: It (Cult .45) was the best we could do and I mean that with all sincerity and positivity. I'm happy with how it came out and I think we were all humbled by the awesome reviews it received. For anyone to give a shit about us took me by surprise but that some people really enjoyed it made all the hard work feel worth it.
(SL) Who handles song writing duties?
Al: Taylor writes the music and Maw writes the lyrics - we all chip in ideas about the songs but those two get the bulk of it together.
(SL) How long was the gestation of your current opus from conception to delivery?
Al: It took a long fucking time! We were jamming the songs for about a year before we recorded, then it was probably 9 months till the album sampler came out then another 9 months before we put the album out.
(SL) Reflecting on your current record, was your artwork designed with a particular physical format in mind? Who designed it? What are your thoughts the finished physical product? What format is/will be available?
Al: The front and back cover was by Jen O'Brien, we just gave her some keywords and themes and she sent us what you see - we were blown away by it. The rest of the art was by Lee Thompson. For four guys without a label and a small fan base I'm really happy with it. I would love to see a vinyl release but in our circumstances it wasn't possible. (firstname.lastname@example.org & email@example.com)
(SL) The best and worst things about being in a band?
Maw: The best would be the artistic expression of making music and creating something.
The worst... it would seem petty to gripe about travel to rehearsals or organising people to get there etc. but I am a petty man, so there it is- the logistics.
(SL) Influences and heroes, what are turn offs and turn on’s?
Maw: In terms of playing drums- John Bonham, Bill Ward, Nicko McBrain, Dave Lombardo, Igor Cavalera, Gene Hoglan, Brian Downey, Philthy Animal Taylor, Steve Asheim, Pete Sandoval, Jean Paul Gaster... the list goes on. NB I am not comparing myself to any of those guys!
In terms of bands that are reference points for what we do- Sabbath, Grand Magus, High On Fire, Electric Wizard, Iron Maiden, early Metallica and so on.
Heroes is a difficult one. Musically, I personally would pick Motorhead: consistent and uncompromising.
Turn Offs- Image over substance/false metal.
Turn Ons- see the Motorhead description above.
(SL) Any record from the past or present that springs to mind?
Al: Jane Doe by Converge is a really inspirational record for me, sonically and musically. I have a lot of time for Kurt Ballou's work.
Maw: I am a big fan of the “classic” bands; I particularly like the vibe and atmosphere of Killers by Iron Maiden, also the classic Metallica, Sabbath and Priest records. I am also very into early to mid 90's death metal. Heartwork, Once Upon The Cross, The End Complete... again, the classic bands.
(SL) The last album that kicked your arse?
Al: I really dug the Goat album, World Music, I came to that a bit after it came out but it got heavy rotation. I'm a big fan of David Axelrod and there's definitely his influence in there.
Maw: So far this year, the Blackfinger record. It shocked me by how good it was! Currently very much enjoying The Wounded Kings 'new one.
(SL) What was your first instrument or musical experience and what do you use today?
Al: I've played guitar since I was young but I actually had to buy a bass to join the band!
Maw: I started learning drums at age 11; my first kit was a heap of shit bought for £40 including cymbals, from a bloke in Grimsby who was clearing out his garage. I was 12 going on 13. I think it was maybe a Premier kit, but it was a bit of a collection of bits; at least thirty years old when I got it. It had been painted black, so at least that made it vaguely metal. Terrible sound. All that said, at the time I really loved it and I learnt how to “play” a kit using it. Prior to that I just used a single rubber practice pad.
I now have a Yamaha Stage Custom kit- nothing fancy and now around 16 years old. For those interested I use: 22”x16” bass drum with Janus double pedal (long footboards for my long feet!), 16”x16” floor tom (won in a very satisfying eBay bidding war), 14”x14” tom on snare stand, Mapex 14”x6.5” Phospher Bronze snare. Cymbals: Sabian 14” AAX stage hi hats, 16” XS20 Rock Crash, 18” XS20 Rock Crash, 18” XS20 China and Tosco 22” heavy “ping” ride. Ridge Rider Cowbell. In summary, I basically use reliable mid range stuff that can take some punishment and gives the sound I need for playing metal; larger tom sizes, powerful snare, dry ride etc.
(SL) One item, gear or otherwise that characterises your band and one item from your set up you cannot live without?
Al: For the band I always think about a noose! Our song Dead Man's Keys was inspired by a newspaper article about a guy whose life fell apart and he hanged himself in pretty bizarre circumstances and it crops up in a few other places. For me, Mountainking Electronics Megalith fuzz pedal, it's all over the Cult .45 album and it destroys everything. Alan Pavlica designed it inspired by Mainliner's Mellow Out record and it sounds huge. Like a Big Muff x1000000!
Maw: I personally pick my Tosco 22” heavy “ping” ride cymbal. I have been using it for twenty years and it has been on every recording I have ever done. It is, in fact, consistent and uncompromising!
(SL) Pro-tools versus old school?
Al: It's about being sympathetic to the material and achieving the end result that you're happy with. Making a record with Pro Tools should not dictate that you chop everything up and make it super clinical and precise nor should working on tape mean that it sounds “old” or loose. I generally record into Pro Tools, fix things that need to be fixed and leave things that don't. As much as possible I record how I want it to sound in the end. I would rather use proper hardware gear but if I have to throw a plugin on something at some point so be it, as long as it sounds right.
SL) Blogs and social media vs. getting on the road and touring?
Al: We are so grateful for our social media followers. We have been a studio project from the very beginning and without social media it would have felt pretty empty. I would love to get on the road and tour but we've all got jobs and lives outside the band so a retweet or a 'like' is as close to applause as we get!
(SL) What are your survival tips for the road, any rider requests?
Al: The only tour I've ever been on was really nerdy and involved Travelodges and spreadsheets, no rock n roll advice I'm afraid.
(SL) Have you ever been starstruck and what have been your band highlight (s) thus far
Al: I have little appreciation of celebrity culture on any level. 'Stars' are simply people and I suppose the best way to relate to someone you admire is to be on the same level as them rather than position yourself below them. Band highlight for me would be the warm reception to Cult .45!
(SL) Vinyl Junkie or Ipod flunky? Discuss
Al: Vinyl for enjoying, listening, collecting, remembering & generally giving a shit about. MP3 for casual listening, convenience, previews, promos etc.
Maw: Ipod for convenience (work commute, not annoying the missus), vinyl for home listening pleasure. I used to buy vinyl in my early teens (cheapest format for classic Maiden, AC/DC etc) and have got into buying it again over the last couple of years. There is nothing like sticking an album on and paying attention; looking at the art work reading the lyric sheet and so on. A total listening experience!
(SL) Indiegogo or creative no no?
Al: I'm really not keen on crowd funding. Taking pre-orders on an album to help get it pressed is one thing but I think all of this “buy a signed lyric sheet for $50” or “meet us backstage for $1000” is disrespectful to fans. Fans are everything to a band, without them you're nothing, so saying fans can get closer to you as long as they pay you money leaves a bad taste in my mouth.
(SL) Finally, do you have any final comments/word of wisdom you’d like to bestow upon us?
Al: Feels good – is good. Thanks to Sludgelord and anyone who tolerates us :)
Maw: Our album “Cult .45” is available from now as a “pay what you want” download from now until the time of the gig, so all you doom fans out there can get it for free. Massive thanks to anyone who has bought, downloaded or listened to the record.
Words and interview : Aaron Pickford
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