Onslaught interview (02/2012)
|Conducted by:||Baz Anderson (e-mail)|
As the veteran thrashers are getting ready to depart on their first ever headlining tour of North America, I got the chance to catch up with guitarist Nige Rockett to talk about the latest album, the upcoming tour, and various other things including Steve's departure and internet piracy.
Barry: So good evening, how are you doing?
Nige: All good thanks, real busy, that's a very good thing I guess
Barry: Yes! So then, let's talk about your latest album Sounds Of Violence first... It's been out over a year now, so how do you look back on it now?
Nige: Well, it all still seems very fresh and new to us and there's nothing I would want to change about the album whatsoever... it's been so well received all around the world by press and fans alike, so I would say it's been a huge success for Onslaught
Barry: You told me back at the end of 2009 that it would be a bit more commercial and a bit different, and I can hear that - it is a bit more modern maybe... What made you want to try and tweak the sound like this?
Nige: Yeah, there's a definite contemporary edge to Sounds Of Violence whilst retaining the old school influence at the same time.. there was no point in Onslaught making another Force or Killing Peace album, that wouldn't get us anywhere further up the ladder.. We had to move forward and be credible and competitive with the newer bands that are around these days, its very important that Onslaught move forward with every release and build a bigger and younger fan base with every record we make... We are a forward thinking band that does not want to rest on its history..
Barry: Yeah, that's cool. So how did you all come together to write the album then? Did everyone share the same forward-thinking mentality?
Nige: As I said it was the only way forward for the band to be successful, which at the end of the day is what we are all here for, so yeah it was pretty much a team effort in terms of forward thinking... The writing for the Sounds Of Violence album was a little different to the previous four albums in the fact that i had a co-writer for the whole creative process.. Andy was very keen to be involved in all the writing sessions and for me it was a massive breath of fresh air and of course a great help. We wrote all the album in the studio and demoed every song every step of the way, it turned out to be an extremely efficient way of working compared with past albums and its exactly how we are working once again...
Barry: And one last question about the album then, something I randomly wonder about a lot of bands... I see the album was recorded in Denmark - why didn't you use a studio a bit closer to home?
Nige: We actually recorded all the guitars and bass parts in our own studio in South Wales to save on the costs, but the drums / vocals and The final mixes were done with Jacob Hansen at his Studio in Denmark.. Jacob does all his work at his own place, he knows his studio well and has all the gear there he requires to get the best possible results... there were no distractions for us in Denmark, so it was total focus for 2 weeks.. Also, I believe it actually worked out less expensive doing things outside the UK which was a major bonus..
Barry: Ah ok then. So looking forward to next month, you're going to be doing your first ever headlining tour of North America... how do you think that will be? Do you have any idea how popular Onslaught is over there?
Nige: Yeah, very much so, we really can't wait, it's been such a long time coming..! All the indicators are telling us its gonna be pretty cool, the interest is definitely there, we just gotta hope that the fans get their asses along to the shows but you can never second guess these things... ...Well, every album we have ever released has done real good in the US and Sounds Of Violence is no exception, it has become AFM Records biggest selling release over there so I'm told and it was most added record to whole of US radio in the first week of release, we're doing a lot of groundwork before we go, so it's just a case of fingers crossed and hope the fans have the money to come along... it'll be fine I'm sure..
Barry: I expect as well as the actual shows, you're looking forward to exploring the USA and Canada like some kind of holiday as well!
Nige: Hahaha, I wish... the schedule is a fucking killer... there is not one day off..!!! 21 shows back to back.. We really gotta look after ourselves on this tour and especially Sy's voice to pull this one off... The routing is really very good but there are still a few tough drives in there... so unfortunately no sightseeing and a distinct lack of partying I would guess...!!
Barry: Haha, ah that's a shame. So, well it's been a few years now and two albums since the band got back together - has it been as good as you might have hoped so for since the reunion?
Nige: Yeah, seven years now, which is almost as long as the bands first run, which I think is fucking awesome... I never dreamed in a million years that we would have done half the shit we have done since we came back, especially making the albums we have in this period... it's been such a great time and its thankfully getting better every year... The tours keep on coming and the albums keep selling... I'm loving every second, we meet some many fantastic people and visit so many wonderful places, it's a real honour for Onslaught as a band..!!
Barry: Sounds like it was the right thing to get back together again then! Last time we talked you told me that Steve was the guy that got the band together again, but now he has left the band himself. He said that he saw things happening in the band again now that happened back when the band originally split... do you know what he means?
Nige: Oh yeah for sure, 100% right decision and timing..!! Yep, he was instrumental in the band reforming no doubt about that and he also had his own personal agenda for leaving Onslaught too, it's something I can't honestly comment about because it was more of a personal issue than a band issue. The band split first time round because of bad decisions made and the fact that Thrash Metal had run its course at the time when grunge music hit the scene and became so huge.. fortunately so far we are not encountering the same problems..!
Barry: So you've got Mic Hourihan from Desecration drumming now! How well has he been fitting into the band? Coming from a grindcore band, do you think he'll want to add a more extreme touch to the drums when it comes round to writing some new material?
Nige: Sure have... Mic has slotted into Onslaught like he has been there forever, he has made the older songs sound really fresh and has injected a whole new energy and aggression into our live sound and he's a very cool guy too... Yeah I'm sure he will want to stamp his mark on the next record and of course he will be allowed to do so, he's the drummer of Onslaught and he wants to be pro active on the writing front which again is fantastic for me and Andy... One thing we in Onslaught pride ourselves on is that no two albums sound the same or sound like a rehash of previous releases and this album will be no different... We as a band are lucky enough to be able to cross over to Death / Black metal and hardcore fans alike, so i think a little bit of extra extreme drumming would be very welcome, it's not gonna change the sound of the band radically, we are a Thrash metal band first and foremost, but having Mic onboard will definitely allow us to expand our horizons technically and brutally.
Barry: That sounds like it could be pretty nice! So obviously the North American tour has your attention at the moment, but have you thought about when you might want to write some new songs for the next album? Might that be something for the second half of the year?
Nige: We're well ahead of the game on the writing front.. The label said they want a new Onslaught album in 2013 regardless, we were told 'that to keep the momentum up that we have built with Sounds Of Violence we must release early next year'... so we started studio work as soon as we got back from the South American tour last November... Its going real well right now and we have half the album already written, we're looking to be recording very late this year for an April 2013 release.
Barry: That's great! So, just two more questions really... firstly, you told me back in Wales that the third album "In Search Of Sanity" was actually the most commercially successful, selling more than the others. A few years later on, is it still the one that has sold most - and why do you think that was the case? - As it is the "black sheep" of the Onslaught catalogue...
Nige: Hahaha black sheep. I like that... Yeah it will always be the most commercially successful Onslaught album purely because it's the nature of the beast in 2012 with the downloading situation and the current climate on album sales... it's a proven fact bands sell 90% less records than they did in say 1990, that applies all across the board from Metallica to Iron Maiden to Onslaught unfortunately, just a sign of the times that we have to live with as musicians. You also have to add to the equation that the album was released with the backing of a major label with huge marketing budgets and fantastic distribution, but it sure doesn't make it the best 'Slaught release for sure, judging by reviews / reactions etc that honour definitely belongs to Sounds Of Violence I can happily say.
Barry: Well that leads nicely into the last thing I was going to ask... It's in the news that there's been all these protests over Europe about "ACTA", and there was also a big uproar with "SOPA" in the USA recently... so as an artist do you think that potentially harsh action should be taken to reduce piracy online? Is it something that should be fought now, or just take it for granted that it will happen?
Nige: Yeah, action has to be taken no doubt about that.. theft from artists cannot be tolerated and cannot ever be taken for granted, we all work real hard to write and record music for the listening pleasure of others, it was never an issue before the net so why should it be allowed now... I do not necessarily agree with the way they are going about it by taking peoples internet away completely, but I believe the internet providers should be held partially responsible for clamping down on the problem and policing their industry, once the prosecutions of major online piracy sites begin the problems will ease i hope, for the sake of 'every' person who loves music..! Why..? Because if things continue in the current trend, music as we know it will cease to exist in as little as 10 years time... no labels no mags... just a bunch of young bands trying to promote themselves on the web but nobody will know they are there or how to find them, there will never ever be another band that reaches the heights of Metallica / AC/DC or Van Halen etc... Flip side of the coin, labels need to help the situation by cutting the retail costs of CDs and DVDs, they are far too expensive by comparison to manufacturing costs and this surely fuels the amount of illegal downloads... I think there can be a compromise, I just hope it's real soon before it's too late..!! Haha, rant over
Barry: And on that note we'll finish there then! Thanks for taking the time to do this! Do you have any last words for the people of Metal Storm?
Nige: My Pleasure Barry, thank you... yeah for sure... I'd really like to send a huge 'METAL THANK YOU' out to all the staff and readers of Metal Storm from myself and the rest of the Onslaught guys.. You have always been such a great support to the band in everything we do and that is so very much appreciated. We will see you all very soon somewhere on the road... !! Take care.
Onslaught: Scream For Violence North America Tour
||Posted on 13.02.2012 by Member of Staff since 2006.|
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