Ilium is a power metal band from Australia. If you have missed the review of their new album "Permian Dusk", go and check it here!
1) The latest step in the musical journey that took you (Jason Hodges) from a band called Oracle to another called Iliad and renamed Ilium, is this new album entitled "Permian Dusk".
Can you tell us more about the band and its previous releases?
Well we started in 1998 when Mark (Snedden - former vocalist) and I decided to give being in a band another shot. We had previously been in a band called Oracle together. We initially called ourselves Iliad but changed our name to Ilium when Adam joined. We released a self-titled EP in 2002 with Lord Tim (Dungeon) producing and got an exceptional response that led us to our deal with Adrenaline/Steelheart records in Italy. From there we recorded our debut album "Sirens Of The Styx" which again got a great reaction. About a week before we were due to start recording "Permian Dusk" Mark left so Tim was offered the job (he was already helping us record it as per previous releases). We just got a 9.5/10 in Rock Hard! magazine and Wolf voted it album of the year, so that was a nice surprise!
2) So, the band has experienced a lot of line-up changes, with members leaving and joining back. You're the only one to have always been part of those bands. What are the main changes, mainly in the music, you could observe through all those years?
Musically we've probably become more melodic and intricate. Adam has had a big hand in the arrangements and now that Tim is singing we have more scope with our vocals as well. We have tended to use songs written at various stages of our lives on the albums, but we change them so much they're barely recognisable in the end!
3) Let's get back to the new album "Permian Dusk". The first thing that caught my attention was the artwork - a drawing by Australian fantasy and science fiction artist Shane Parker. Nowadays, album covers seem to feature more and more manipulated photos and special effects. Why didn't you join this new trend?
Personally I think part of the magic of metal growing up was waiting to see what the next album cover of my favourite bands would look like. I used to buy albums based on covers sometimes - that's how I discovered bands like Helloween. Travis Smith has a very distinct style but it seems to represent him more than the bands. By using Shane we have created on alternate world (Ilium world?!) that makes us instantly recognisable. The artwork for me is self-indulgent and I'm addicted! I always look forward to seeing what the next one will look like!
4) Also, why are the eyes of all creatures appearing in those illustrations shinning?
I guess to indicate that there is some thought ticking away inside the skull. Again, it draws attention to the characters
5) Not only the artwork brings back memories from the past, but also the music. In my opinion, Ilium doesn't play an excessive form of power metal. The band doesn't aim at playing faster, louder or more epic for example. Do you agree, and what are your views on the evolution of this metal genre?
To be honest we just want to write good songs. We could try and play like Symphony X but let's face it - those guys are freaks! We try and let each song come naturally when we write and don't think too much about it. Alot of the feel has been lost in some bands when you compare them to say early Michael Schenker Group etc. I listen to all the new stuff - I have over 3000 albums (originals - downloading with buying anything is the quickest way to kill a band) and I love it, but I think for all bands to try and sound the same as the latest thing is a mistake. I don't like the Nu-metal stuff at all, but I'm happy with the evolution of metal as long as it keeps its diversity and there's a healthy respect for its history.
6) Prior to releasing the new album "Permian Dusk", the band and their surroundings have been suffering from several losses and accidents. What are/will be the aftermaths, in the line-up and music?
I haven't spoken to Corey and Pete for a little while. Last I heard Corey was recovering well, though for a 16 year old to lose a foot is obviously devastating. (He was hit by a train). To be honest the line-up for Ilium is Adam and myself on guitars and that's the framework of it. Lord Tim is an extremely important component of the mix and I'd be inclined to say that Tim Yatras is more than welcome as a permanent fixture on drums. Other than that we really haven't had anywhere near the level of dedication from past members necessary for them to have had any significant effect on the band other than negative (obviously Mark is the exception - at least in the beginning). Pete is a great guy and I hope that he can help Corey get the singing career he wants.
Adam Smith, Lord Tim, Jason Hodges
7) It seems to me that Australia's metal scene has been rising over the last decade, although no really "big" band has yet emerged. Which Australian bands are promising in your opinion? And were you influenced by some older Australian bands?
I can honestly say that we were not influenced by any Australian bands other than to say we wanted to put Australia on the melodic metal map. Since we've started though there have been some exceptional bands rise within the scene. Obviously Dungeon (now Lord), but also Black Majesty, Black Steel, Crimsonfire, Eyefear, Transcending Mortality (look out for them), Vanishing Point and several other bands, all of which are really exciting groups
8) Australia being a pretty large country and not easy of reach, what are the opportunities of touring this land, both for Australian bands and non-Australian bands? And more specifically, are there any gigs scheduled for Ilium?
For Australian bands unfortunately it is an uphill battle. It costs a fortune to travel overseas with little prospect for success and the Australian metal community is yet to fully accept their own bands - there is a stigma that Australian bands are inferior and quite often they get ignored (that's slowly changing, probably due to international recognition, but it's still a major problem). Non-Australian bands have been doing surprisingly well over the last few years. Metal is big, but in Newcastle for instance, none of us seem to know each other! Being a headbanger in Australia is almost like having a secret identity! We will try and get some gigs if we can get a stable lineup and if work schedules line up - we really want to get out and play!
9) When can we expect to listen to the next Ilium album? Will there be songs originally written at the time of Oracle or Iliad (as was the case for some songs on "Permian Dusk") or do you plan to include only new material?
The next Ilium album is underway and the drumming is awesome! It will probably have a different overall sound, but there's a mix of great melodic metal and intriguing epics. We will also have a painting for every song on the album! Most of the material is Ilium but we've re-written some old Oracle songs for this one as well, so it's almost like they're new songs and they were never recorded anyway. We never actually wrote any songs as Iliad though.
10) Thanks for your time and answers. Feel free to end this interview with some words for our readers!
I want to thank everyone who has supported us so far, we're very grateful and remember to support bands by buying their products, not just downloading them (which is a poor substitute anyway).
Thanks very much for the interview