Monday, 25 January 2016
“Life After ‘Deth”: An interview with Chris Broderick (Act of Defiance)
By: Phil Weller & Chris Broderick
Few things are certain in life; tax, death and the consistent rotation of Megadeth’s revolving door policy. It’s a move that, for MegaDave Mustaine, helps keep his band exciting and fresh – even if a lot of those changes were not instigated by him personally. But when, in the space of two days, both guitarist Chris Broderick and drummer Shawn Drover walked out of the thrash pioneers in November 2014 it sent shockwaves reverberating around their fan base. And so while the rumour mill spun into action and then wildly out of control as people speculated who would replace the duo, they were quietly working on a new project of their own.
“We had all this material that was never gonna see the light of day [in Megadeth],” reveals Broderick, speaking to The Sludgelord from the road as they traipsed across the States in late 2015. “So from there what started as a project to release what we had quickly turned into a fully-fledged band.
“We made a list of about 30 vocalists that we’d like to work with which we then narrowed down to five before sending them demos. When Henry Derek’s [former sing of Joey Jordisons’ Scar The Martyr] demos came back we knew he was the guy we wanted. Matt Bachand [bass – Shadows Fall] came in later in the project after we had all the music written, but he recorded the parts.”
The band, which would become Act of Defiance – a fitting title for the ex-Megadeth renegades wanting to stretch their wings where they were previously clipped – were always going to bear a thrashy edge. But with Broderick’s routes founded more in progressive music, their sound has expanded and evolved. It's much less linear than that: “The funny thing is that for me, thrash is a newer influence. The thrash ideas were really the component I’d write each song around but the more I wrote the more my progressive tendencies came out and you get songs that run through these different stylistic subgenres. I've always followed and worked on the more virtuosic guitar players of this world.”
So when it came to finding a vocalist, did they have a certain approach or style in mind?
Says Broderick: “We were definitely open to different styles but what I was looking for personally was vocals with character, that had their own sound. I really think Henry delivers on that front, and he really crosses the lines between clean singing and really heavy singing, it’s sort of like heavy singing with pitch.”
“Writing this album was all about having fun, being creative and not putting limits on anything," he continues, expanding upon the band's boundlessness. "This band offers me complete freedom. I can take my guitar playing into whatever directions I want, from flamenco and classical right through to the really heavy stuff and the shredding."
Of course, while Act of Defiance resembles the beginning of a new chapter, it also signifies the end of another. And so our conversation moves on, with Broderick reflecting on his time in the iconic band: “The main thing is that Dave pretty much is Megadeth. Having creative input with that kind of history was always going to be hard. Even with “Endgame” [his first record with the band] it was somewhat scarce. It was scarcer than what I would have hoped for as a band member. So by “Thirteen” and “Super Collider” I was pretty aware of the level of input that I was going to have on those records. So that was a big part of the reason why I wanted to branch out on my own.”
The tone in which he talks to The Sludgelord, it has to be noted, is far from bitter. He looks back on his time in the band with pride; smiling, reminiscing. Into this new chapter of his career, he carries fond memories.
“Playing the big four shows was special, the places I got to go to were great and the fans were insane. For me the big four shows were a real coming together of musicians and Metallica were so gracious in the way they got us all together for the first show and having a dinner together. It was more about the thrash community rather than it just being another show and that’s what was so awesome about it.”
As a guitar player too, learning and playing the Megadeth discography has had an impact upon the way he perceives his instrument: “I’m constantly trying to learn and I couldn't help but pick up techniques by the players that I was emulating. Whether I was working on a Marty Friedman or a Chris Poland solo it definitely rubs off on you and has an influence on your playing.
“In terms of song writing it’s a very subjective and personal thing. I often liken the song writing process to the song taking you where it wants to go rather than the other way around. It’s your own sense of musicality that’s gonna guide you when you write a song so being in Megadeth, Nevermore or Act of Defiance hasn’t changed my approach too much.”
There is one element of Act of Defiance however that has impacted upon his approach to song writing. This is the first one guitarist band he’s played in since local level: “That’s the thing, I’m tryna make the sound as big as possible. When we’re playing live Matt picks up some of my rhythm guitar parts with his basslines where I’m soloing and stuff like that so you do want to think about how to fill in the spaces a little more being a one guitar band.”
We end our conversation with a look forwards, to the future of a band eager to push on: “The initial inception of the band was to find a home for ideas that we had but at the end of the day, it was probably 80% new material written for this CD.”
“The first thing I do when I come up with a new idea is video record it then put it on the back burner. That’ll usually be a rhythm idea or concept and when I start transforming it into a song, then start to think about all of the other parts and melodies that continue the song. So I have a huge catalogue of riffs and ideas that I have for the next record.
“It’ll be great getting to use some of Matt’s expertise and song writing skills especially. The fact that we’re all gonna be able to get into a room and play together is what really excites me. We’ll probably end up with loads more ideas than we need for the record too.”
Band info: facebook