Melbourne’s Melodic Death Metal maestrosrecently released their latest album “Exanimate” along with doing a tour across Australia. We talk to Ben Roberts to talk all about it.
Liam: You guys recently put out your latest album ‘Exanimate’ and followed it up with a pretty sizable tour of Australia. What was it like seeing fans enjoy your music all across Australia?
Ben: It was great! Being our first headline tour, we weren’t too sure what to expect but some of the turnouts and enthusiasm of some of the crowds blew us away! Especially when you go to a place you haven’t been to before and there are people in the crowd there singing along. That stuff just gets me in the feels.
L: Did you notice a change in the types of fans in the different cities? Were the fans in Sydney different to the ones at Blacken in Alice Springs?
B: We found that the only real variant in the fans was that some seemed more enthusiastic to about jumping around and being involved than others. Newcastle for example wasn’t a massive crowd but they definitely were a rowdy bunch! The fans at Blacken really got into it as well, and the Brisbane show had full sing-alongs at some points!
L: The medical themes you explore in ‘Exanimate’ are really interesting to read. Does one of you have a science background?
B: No background in science but at the time that I was working on the concept a friend of mine was studying genetics at uni. She gave me a pretty good crash course in viruses, diseases and their effects on the human body, so that helped me when going into some of the explicit details in the lyrics.
L: Myself and I think many other metalheads love albums that tell a story. Do you think your future albums will be concept albums as well?
B: We haven’t decided yet. I’m working on a possible concept for album two – but it’s in the early stages and I’m not sold on it yet. I definitely like the idea but only if what we come up with is a strong story or concept to work with. We wouldn’t do a concept just for the sake of doing a concept.
L: What prompted the change from the fantasy-esque/battle kind of themes you wrote about in your previous album ‘The Wrath Kept Within’?
B: When I joined the band a bunch of material for that release had already been worked on. Not necessarily with lyrics but the guys had themes they wanted to focus on, and to kind of make the second release a follow up to the first. When it came time to write “Exanimate” I came to them with my idea and they told me to just run with it.
L: What sort of gigs did you guys go to when you were younger? Were there any local Aussie bands that influenced you heavily?
B: Personally, I used to go to a lot of punk gigs when I was 12-15 and as I got older I started going to heavier shows. It was mainly local shows with the occasional international band when I could afford it. I think with what we do in this band I was personally influenced a lot by The Black Dahlia Murder, Unearth, Psycroptic, Behemoth and even Parkway Drive to a degree. I’ve always found bands with a high energy or great theatrics really engaging so I tried to base stuff on that.
L: At your recent Sydney show your previous vocalist was up there on drums after learning the set in a few days. What happened to your current drummer?
B: Hodgo was really sick – to the point where at the start of the week he could barely stand up. He told us that he thought finding a replacement for the weekend was a good idea in case he didn’t get better so we called Karl and he was keen. He absolutely smashed the shows too!
L: Is there a particular show you have played that stands out for you? Your best one?
B: About two years ago we played with At The Gates in Melbourne. The room was packed from the start of the night and went off when we started playing. That was amazing. Other that that I’d say probably the launch show for “Exanimate” in Melbourne. That night was pretty hectic as well, and was a bit more special because it was our show – we weren’t just revving up a bigger band’s crowd.
L: I’ve noticed a few Aussie bands, such as Flaming Wrekage, are trying to crack into the Indonesian market. Do you guys see yourselves expanding internationally soon?
B: That is definitely something we have plans to do! Absolutely. We are super keen on an assault on the Asian market in general – not just Indonesia.
L: Lastly, what has been the best gig you have ever been to and why?
B: An evening with Machine Head. Two and a half hours of Machine Head, no support band. It was cold and shitty Monday night and you could tell no one was up for it at the start and by the end of the second song you could hardly hear the band over the crowd singing along. One of the few times I’ve ever lost my voice watching a band. They just kept playing and everyone kept lapping it up – and after two and a half hours it seemed like nobody was ready for it to end. I’d never seen a crowd won over like that so acutely. It was pretty special.
Interview Date: 2017-11-10
Interviewer: Liam Douglas