Sunday 8 June 2014

Interview with Nathan from BEASTWARS

Every now and again I am given the chance to re-interview bands that we have featured previously. Well I thought should catch up with today's guests once more. As I am a huge fan of this amazing band.

Their 2013 album – Blood Becomes Fire – is a personal fave of mine. I made it my No 1 Record of 2013. it's a huge colossal album packed full of emotion, mood and riffs. They have a huge fan-base within the Sludge/Doom/Stoner Metal community.

Their vinyl records are highly sought after within the Vinyl Collectors World. Though the band have just released both of their albums on new limited edition vinyl’s which quickly sold out. I managed to buy a copy of each vinyl this time round as I was stupid not to buy them first time.

Blood Becomes Fire cover art

So I am talking about New Zealand Hard Rock/Sludge/Stoner Metal riffsters – BEASTWARS. We have Nathan Hickey, the drummer from BEASTWARS talking to us today at Sludgelord HQ.

Q1 – Hi Nathan. Thanks for doing this. How are things with you today.

Hi Steve, thanks for the nice introduction and talking to us again. And cheers for putting us on your best of list! That was a huge buzz for us when we read it. Right now I'm just cooking up a couple of steaks on the BBQ, drinking a shitty European lager before I head off to rehearsal for our Australian shows this weekend.

Q2 – Well it's been a year since I originally interviewed James. Seems like you guys have had a great time since then. Blood Becomes Fire has became something of a fave within the Doom/Sludge/Stoner metal community. How would you describe the last 12 months or so.

The last 12 months have been incredible really. You know, we're at the bottom of the world down here in New Zealand just making noise for fun and the fact that people seem to dig what we're doing is really cool. For us the last year has really just been trying to have a good shot at breaking in to the Australian heavy music scene. Slowly trying to take over the world one continent at a time haha.

Q3 – Did you expect Blood Becomes Fire to become so successful the way it has. By fans and critics alike.

I really had no idea how the new album was going to be accepted. It was made under quite stressful circumstances with our producer ending a 18 year relationship the day we began recording. His family literally moved out as we were moving our gear in to record. So there is definitely a heavy vibe on the album due to that. Also we were drinking a lot so when we all got back home and had time to listen to what we had done it all sounded like a bit of a blur. But in terms of success, yep we sold all of the 500 self funded vinyl in a few weeks and have just pressed 500 more for people that missed out the first time and for people that are only just hearing about us.

Q4 – What have been your favourite experiences and memories over the last 15 months or so.

My favourite moment was when we were playing a show in Melbourne and it was just one of those crazy shows with guys and girls crowd surfing and beer being spilt everywhere. We started the song Rivermen which is a pretty mellow one. It's hard to explain just how good this feeling is in words but my heart was pulsing totally in time with the guitar intro and I got a huge rush of endorphins and a massive smile on my face. It was really cool to have a totally natural chemical reaction with the music. Sorry, that is a pretty hippy answer but it's the truth.


Q5 – Your albums are being re-released on Limited Edition Vinyl. Which has already sold out. How did all this came about.

We've repressed 500 of both records and put 100 of each in a limited coloured pressing up on our bigcartel. We were so blown away when they were all bought in under 24 hours. The remaining 800 records have been scattered around the globe waiting for their new forever homes. We always said that we'd never repress the vinyl ourselves, but we'd be happy to if a label was interested. Then we saw albums going for up to $100 and that's just crazy money.

So we repressed them for the fans. The big difference this time though is that we're working with Granite House records so for the first time we have worldwide distro. So if you want to buy the album, just head into your local record store and hopefully they'll have it or at least be able to order it in for you.

Q6 – Did you have much input into the design of the new records.

We wanted to make sure the vinyl colours were looked cool and I think we did alright! My favourite one is the limited edition starburst self-titled album. It looks like a huge psychedelic mess just like the actual album cover. We've also added our name onto the front cover of the first album. We thought we were pretty badass putting the album out initially with out our name on it but now that a few more people know who we are it makes sense to have that name recognition on the artwork.


Q7 – Are you Vinyl Fans yourselves. If so what are your favourite records you currently own on vinyl.

Yeah we're all pretty serious about owning albums that we love on vinyl. My most recent purchase's are Mantar's Death By Burning, Monolord and Brown Sabbaths Hand of Doom/The Wizard 10". My prized possessions are my signed Kyuss records. I've met John Garcia, Josh Homme and Brant Bjork all on separate occasions - I just need to track down those bass players.

Q8 – Where did the name Beastwars come from and why that particular name.

It was a name that popped into my head one night at band practice. I am a little too old to have seen the cartoon series. We never thought anyone was going to hear the band outside of our practice room so it didn't seem to be a problem. Now I think we've given the name another context.

Q9 – I have been asked by a few readers of the blog – When are you going to tour overseas. Any plans in the future as you have quite a global fan-base.

Ha yes that is a question that we get asked A LOT. We're all keen to play more overseas - we just need to get invited to the right festivals to help facilitate the trip. As the other guys kids get older then I hope it will make it easier for us to get overseas.

Q10 – Does it surprise you that you have quite a fan-base without even touring Europe/USA yet.

Everything that happens to this band surprises me. Whether it's getting to support our favourite bands or charting at #2 in the top 40 sales charts over here, everything is much more than I ever expected. Sending out the 200 limited pressing last week was a real eye opener to see exactly where in the world our fans are. Denmark and Germany would definitely be on our tour schedule based on those sales.

Q11 – Now I don't take much interest in Pop Music as such. But I have to say LORDE is a freaking legend in my book for her recent actions at the Taite Music Prize ceremony. Where she donated her prize money to her fellow nominees which you guys were apart of. How surreal was that. And what have you spent the money on. Plus it' s cool your share of the prize fund had a 666 in it from $1666.

Yep that was pretty cool. We bought a double neck 1976 Ibanez SG with the money - a guitar that is so outrageous and prog rock - basically the antithesis of what Lorde is all about. It already feels like it will be a powerful riff summoner.

Q12 – I think it's cool that New Zealand music ceremonies grouped a diverse collection of artists and musicians in one overall category. You don't get that sort of award ceremony within the music world. What did it feel like to be nominated.

It's always a nice feel to be nominated but we don't for a second think that we'd win one of these awards. Heavy metal will always be the underdog genre and I don't mind that at all.

Q13 – What is your musical set-up when playing live or recording your music. Any hints and tips would you like to give to the budding musicians out there.

Our secret weapon for both albums has been recording both guitar and bass through a Hiwatt guitar head that belonged to Peter Green from Fleetwood Mac. Apparently he left in in New Zealand at the end of one of their tours in the 60's. I bet he never thought it could sound like that. That's not too helpful for the budding musician though. I think the main thing is just to write good riffs, good songs. If the song is good then it doesn't matter too much how it's recorded.

Q14 – What is your verdict on the whole crowd-funding scene. Where bands ask fans to fund their next album. Are you a fan of that platform. Would yourselves ever go down this route.

We have used our own type of crowd funding in the past which is as simple as offering preorders for our vinyl 6 weeks out from the release date through bigcartel. We haven't needed to do any other crowd funding but you never know if it'll come in handy for us in the future.

Q15 – So what does the future have in store for Beastwars. New album, tour or break away from it all.

Right now it's just about doing these Australian shows then we'll take a break from playing live to write some new tunes. We've a got a tonne of ideas tucked away in our brains, sketched on garageband or hummed into phones. If what we come up with is better than the first 2 albums we'll record it and see what happens next. Because the band isn't a full time job and we don't have a label we're feeling pretty relaxed about it.

Q16 – If you could give any advice to someone wanting to start a band. What would it be.

Buy a guitar tuner. Then have as much fun as you can.

Q17 – The last thing before you go, Do you have anything else to say to your fans.

Mainly just thanks to everyone that has come to see us live or bought a copy of the album or a t-shirt. You guys are pretty much our record label. Without your support we wouldn't be able to do what we do in the way we do it.

Thanks to Nathan for talking to us here at Sludgelord HQ. Thanks to Richard at Sheltered Life PR for arranging this interview. I have interviewed James and Nathan. Only have Matt and Clayton to interview left. Maybe when their next album is released.

Check The Band From Links Below

Written by Steve Howe