Take a member of Bullet for my valentine, Cancer Bats, Glamour of the Kill, Rise to Remain and Pitchshifter. The collective identity? Axewound. A chance for five men from all walks of rock and metal to get together and record an album that channels their energy perfectly. This album is Vultures, released this Monday. Ahead of its release and a weeklong tour for the group, we spoke to drummer Jason Bowld about all things Axewound.
First of all, Monday really is a big day, first date of the tour and the release of the album. Are you excited?
Yeah, it feels so weird because it's come around so quick. We feel very ready for it. I'm glad it's not our first gig, we did our first gig back in June or somewhere around there supporting Killswitch Engage so we've broken the ice.
I think the difference this time is that the album's going to be out and I'm really hoping that there's going to be people getting into the songs and into the album. That's really exciting for me.
How has it been seeing the reaction to the singles and the gigs over the festival season, almost thinking this could be something special?
Yeah, we didn't know how it was going to go. We all started it for fun and that was the attitude; thinking let's do this, let's do what we do naturally.
Despite the profile of the band, we didn't have high expectations really because it was done for fun. I don't think there's enough of that nowadays; I think music can sometimes feel contrived so it's nice to have something raw and organic.
It's interesting you mentioned it all coming from fun, because that's one of the overriding feelings listening to the album... it's a really fun record.
Yeah, absolutely. I think it's rare nowadays to get a metal or thrash album that has ten songs that sound so different.
That's one thing we wanted to do when we wrote it; just wanted to create some variety but with the same dark aggressive thread running through it.
The international dynamic of the band must have made the recording process interesting, how did it all go getting around to recording and planning dates?
Liam's work ethic is just incredible and when he likes something, he'll throw his heart into doing it.
As soon as we finished writing the music, he was, over two weeks later, in Cardiff to record his vocals and got them done in five days. He's a brilliant person and he just throws himself into it and devotes himself.
That's what everyone else is like as well. Matt and I wanted that with the band, to be with people we can get on with and make music happen.
Do you feel that the record translates well live? You got a great reception over the summer...
Yeah, I think it does. It's really important to do all of those festivals before the album release because we needed to blood ourselves live as a unit and work out what it feels like live, how we could order the set and, yeah, it's how you play it live.
It's the conviction that you put into it when you play live that makes it believable so that's what we've done over the summer.
We start rehearsing tomorrow for a couple of days and then we're off and I'm sure it'll be over before we know it as well.
It's just six or seven gigs with a radio session in there as well. I quite like it like that, you know? It gives us scope to come back again next year and do another week.
Hopefully it'll be the sort of band that everyone looks forward to seeing live rather than just being saturated with.
What can everyone expect from the tour? Are we going to get the whole record?
You'll definitely get the whole record because we haven't got anything else! We've got a cover we'll throw in there. I guess that's all we have at the moment.
Maybe we'll come up with something in rehearsals over the next couple of days... time definitely isn't on our side. We did want to come up with some more stuff over the summer but schedules conflicted a little bit but you never know, maybe we will toss in another cover... we'll have to see.
The album certainly has some moments that are geared for being played live, Collide especially...
Yeah, we played that in our little London show and it just sounded brilliant, such a big song. You've got the strings, the piano and it works well live.
I love the contrast between that and something like Vultures. I think you need a bit of contrast because if everything's just going 100 miles an hour it just sounds the same and you lose a bit of the impact.
Are there more long-term plans for Axewound, or is this likely to be a one off?
Definitely, the passion and the will is there to do another album. I think we all know in the back of our minds that we want to do another album and we're very relaxed about it.
Obviously we've all got other schedules but we're all cool with slotting it in where we can so there's no reason why it can't continue to another album, the will is there to do that.
I don't like to use the term 'supergroup' but it's not the first time you've been involved with something like this, This is Menace was a few years back... is the dynamic different this time around?
This is a dream compared to This Is Menace! This Is Menace had, over the course of two albums, about twenty singers.
We did a little bit of touring in Europe and a couple of gigs over here and trying to organise a gig was a nightmare, getting all the singers... it was incredibly stressful.
You had the core musicians and then the singers would come in and do a song or two. Stressful; a lot to sort out. It was an experiment, a fun experiment but you can't sustain that kind of thing.
Do you feel that when you get labelled with the 'supergroup' tag, there's an extra pressure to be more than a sum of the collected people?
We don't feel any pressure because I feel we've gone about this the right way. We didn't tell anyone about it until it was all finished but I understand why people say that... I mean Matt is obviously the biggest star if you like, and everyone else has done things.
No, I don't think it creates pressure because we just enjoy it. We're not saying that we're going to conquer the world or sell a million records.
We're literally saying were going to play some really aggressive music... come and have a listen. Let's face it, pressure is when you can't afford to clothe your children at the end of the day.
There is a new Pitchshifter album in the pipeline, how's that coming along?
I don't really know to be honest with you.
I'm so busy with other things as well and playing drums with other people that I'm afraid it's out of my stratosphere at the moment.
Pitchshifter is great and I loved playing with the band but obviously Axewound is my band as well and I love the creative input I have with this, and likewise with This is Menace. Pitchshifter is a band I play drums for so my focus at this point in time is writing music for myself and other bands.
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Holding On ft. Gregory Porter
Alla Turca (From Piano Sonata in A, K.331)