Friday 29 March 2013

Interview with BEASTWARS

Now on Sludgelord I am Interviewing James Woods (Nope not the actor) but bass player of the amazing New Zealand Sludge/Stoner Metal band - BEASTWARS.

Beastwars are about to release their amazing 2nd album - Blood Becomes Fire. An album I recently described as:

"You do not know what you have just experienced but you know you will be coming back for more. If you miss the earlier heavier days of Mastodon and Baroness then let me introduce you to your favourite new band. That is seriously how great Beastwars are. Beastwars can be mentioned in the same breath as those two great bands.

All in this entire album is an incredible experience I cannot recommend highly enough. It is a contender for one of the best albums of 2013.

Blood Becomes Fire is going to launch Beastwars on a global scale. End Of."

So lets started with one of the best bands currently out there. The brilliant BEASTWARS.

Q1 – Hi guys, Thanks for doing this. How are things with you Today.

Good thanks. It was a sunny day, I hung out with my little girl then picked up her big brother from school, went to a park and we all had an ice block. Rock n' Roll!!

Q2 – For people not in the know, can you give them a brief bio on how the band came about.

Half a dozen years ago Clayton and Nato drunkenly vowed that they were going to start a kick ass rock band. They came across myself and Matt, and lo, the frankenstein monster that is Beastwars was born.

Actually, Matt approached the band after a gig as an instrumental 3-piece and drunkenly told us we needed a “fucken singer”, and that he was the man for the job. You may have noticed the presence of alcohol in that story. It's not incedental.

Q3 – How would you describe your sound. Sludge, Post-Metal, and Stoner do form major parts of you great sound.

I just say that we're a dirty rock band when people ask me. But yeah, we get called sludge, stoner a lot. I like sludge. Oozing between my toes.

Q4 – Which bands and artists influence you directly as a musician.

Stooges, Swans, Flipper, Joy Division, Gordons, Birthday Party, Snapper, Neil Young, Butthole Surfers, Scott Walker, (very early) Sonic Youth, Black Flag, David Bowie, Black Sabbath, Led Zeppelin, Roots Manuva, Low, Melvins.. is that enough? I could go on. And on.

Q5 – Your about to release your brilliant new album – Blood Becomes Fire - Bet your looking forward to finally having the album released upon the world. Brilliant album.

Yeah, thanks, we're all pretty stoked about it.

Q6 – Can you tell us what is the overall theme of the album. As it feels like a soundtrack to the end of the world. Especially on tracks such as Tower Of Skulls and The Sleeper.

Mortality, sacrifice and disease are all things that we deal with in our daily lives, and this has manifested in our music to lesser and greater degrees. But I also think humanity is blindly stumbling toward some almighty self wrought extinction event.

Being a teenager in the '80's you had the prospect of a nuclear holocaust hanging over your head constantly, but the ambiguity of this oncoming apocalypse means there is nothing to focus on, just a general feeling of dread. I try and blank out the anger and frustration with a wall of howling, obliterating noise.

Q7 – Was it an easy or hard album to write and record for. And are you happy with the final result.

At the risk of downplaying the great deal of work we put into rehearsing, the songs seem to flow together for us fairly easily once we start playing them. We love playing together, so it doesn't seem “hard”.

The recording however, was very, very intense. Ten days isolated in a city at the other end of New Zealand. Focused pretty much constantly on the recording the whole time. But yeah, the results are worth it. We're really happy with the album, and are looking forward to all you guys hearing it too.

Blood Becomes Fire cover art

Q8 – Who designed the amazing album cover. Quite possibly the best album cover I have seen this year. Epic in tone and nature.

Nick Keller ( is an artist here in Wellington who was coming to our gigs and digging us, and a mutual friend introduced us. We thought his stuff was incredible. He did the cover for our first album and blew us away, so there was no question about asking him again really. He just got where we were coming from conceptually from the start.

Q9 – The video of Tower Of Skulls is fucking superb as well. How did that one came about. It feels like an mini-apocalyptic movie. Heavy, scary and trippy all in one insane package.

We wanted to try something a bit less obvious, more psychedelic in tone. We were more interested in style than narrative so it was a good mix.

Q10 – Like the rest of the Sludge/Stoner Metal world, I noticed you guys on your incredible début album. That really launched you guys to the international scene. Bet you were blown away with the reception you guys received.

Absolutely. We weren't expecting the response at all. We made the album for the people who came to our shows in N.Z. and ourselves. It was a real buzz having people all over the world digging it.

Q11 – With you guys being from New Zealand. Is there a Sludge/Stoner Metal scene down there. I know of great bands such as Arc Of Ascent, Shallow Grave, Spook The Horses and Stone Angels. Can you recommend any other cool bands to check out.

You've mentioned most of the ones I know already. Mountaineater, Keretta and Jakob are two others that spring to mind. I don't really listen to much metal so I'm not too sure what's out there, sorry.

Q12 – Do you guys perform regularly in New Zealand or do you have to travel further afield such as Australia to perform live.

We haven't left N.Z. yet. We toured here 5 times last year on the strength of the first album, but there's only 4 million people in N.Z. so you canonly play so much.

Q13 – What is the live BeastWars experience like. Can you describe it in 10 words or less.

Loud. Heavy. We demand your attention. You will be rewarded.

Q14 – Your new album is going to be released on CD/Vinyl via Destroy Records. How did that come about. As your début album was released through a couple of labels on both CD and Vinyl.

Both albums (cd and vinyl) were released through Destroy, but distributed by other (larger) labels. Destroy is a friend's label and only has a couple of other releases. We paid for everything on both albums and consequently had complete control at every step. Not something we would relinquish lightly.

Q15 – How big a help has BandCamp been in getting your music across.

Brilliant. It's hard to know exactly, but we get quite a few listens on it, and the paypal ticks over. I think the hardest thing with Bandcamp (like itunes etc.) is getting noticed in amongst everything else, but if you get yourselves out there, it works in musicians' favour financially.

Q16 – What are your views of blogs featuring and reviewing your records, as opposed to mainstream music magazines?

We don't make mainstream music. I found out about bands when I was a kid by reading Maximum RocknRoll and other zines from around the world, and listening to specialist shows on student radio. Blogs are the modern version of that DIY ethic.

Q17 – What are your favourite bands around at the moment. Do you listen to modern day rock/metal or do you just listen to the classic era of Stoner/Sludge/Doom/Post-Rock/Post-Metal.

I don't really listen to a lot of metal, but I like Yob, Sunn(((o))) and Red Fang. Sabbath are a perennial favourite of course, and I'll always have a soft spot (like a sucking chest wound) for Reign In Blood, even if I don't listen to it all that often. These days I'm listening to Low, Robert Wyatt, Keith Thornton (Dr. Octagon, Kool Keith), Roots Manuva and too much more to list here.

Q18 – Do you have any future plans for the upcoming 12 months or so. Anything we should be excited about.

Playing around N.Z. and a couple of dates in Australia with Unida in May. We would love to come further afield. Just need to finish paying for the album. And talk to someone about booking shows in the US/Europe

Q19 – We all know that being a band can be a very expensive business. How do you cope financially and emotionally. It must take a lot out of you at times.

Yeah, sure is. Juggling the touring and the family and the job is hard. I'm very lucky to have the support of my good lady wife, Rachel. xx

Q20 – When your not performing with the band, how do you relax to get away from the pressures of being with the band.

Ha ha! The band is the relaxing stuff! That's the time away from the pressures of daily life, where all that matters is the riff you're playing now. Or getting to the place where you're going to play the next riff.

Q21 – If you could provide any advice to people wanting to start a band, what would it be.

If you love playing your own music, get a job. Being in a band is expensive. If you want to earn a regular income playing music, learn to play other peoples songs. If you want to be a rock star, get ready for a life of disappointment.

And then death from alcohol poisoning or a heroin overdose. Then you might get famous. Might. Know what's important to you. Would you rather play with a bunch of good mates who you gel with, or the sickest, shreddingest motherfucker session musos out there? Both work, in the right circumstances.

Q22 - Finally, Do you have anything to say your fans

Thank you all, the buzz you get from playing to a room full of people going mental to your music is unlike anything else. I wish I could share it with you all. Oh, hang on.. Seriously, thanks for all your incredible support every step of the way. It's mindblowing.

Well thanks for doing this. I really appreciate it. Good luck with Blood Becomes Fire. That album is going to be massive. It's a great album. Hope to see you guys play live one day.

Thanks to Matt for doing the interview. And Thanks to Nathan at Destroy Records for setting this up for me. Really appreciate dude. Thanks again.

Check This Brilliant Band From The Links Below.


You can buy Blood Becomes Fire on CD, Digital Download and Vinyl from April 19th 2013 via Destroy Records