DATE OF INTERVIEW:
29th October 2015
METAL DISCOVERY: The progress you guys are making from one record to the next is really impressive in terms of quality and original content. Do you feel that ‘Rise to Power’ is your greatest work yet? Are you critical of your own works?
DON: Thank you! I firmly believe that ‘Rise to Power’ is by far our most solid album to date. We’ve taken the best of our two previous albums and combined them to bring out a groovy, yet technical, album. All things considered, we wrote ‘Rise to Power’ within three months, some on the road, most on our time home, and really wrapped it up in the studio. In such a short time span, it’s difficult to be very critical of our work. Every song was off the cuff, and it seems to have worked wonderfully.
(Don Slater on touring with GWAR)
"In my case, it’s becoming a Slave for GWAR on this tour. I get to run around with my favorite band of all time and not only help the production of the show, but be part of the show as well! That’s at least three ticks off the bucket list..."
Interview by Joshua Jaeger
Official Battlecross Website:
Push Pull Destroy (2010)
Injecting thrash motifs of yore with a more aggressive, contemporary edge, Battlecross have been exercising the metal might of their self-styled "blue collar thrash" over the course of four albums to date. The most recent of these, 'Rise to Power', released in August this year, showcases a band of sonic warmongers at their most electrifyingly potent and hard-hitting best. Metal Discovery's Joshua Jaeger quizzed bassist Don Slater about this new release, touring with GWAR, and lineup changes; and it seems Battlecross have been afflicted with the Spinal Tap drummer curse...
Battlecross - promo shot
Photograph copyright © 2015 Uncredited
Official Battlecross Facebook:
Thanks to Andy Turner for arranging the interview.
Pursuit of Honor (2011)
War of Will (2013)
Rise to Power (2015)
MD: One song in particular from the new album, ‘Spoiled’, absolutely hooked me from beginning to end. Being that the track is barely over 3 minutes long, you still manage to pack in enough emotion and adrenaline with perfect balance. I would say it’s in running for my personal favourite song of 2015. I’ve often heard songs that are more than double the length of ‘Spoiled’ yet don’t come close to the absolute energy you guys have. Do you find it more rewarding to pack a shorter track with as much style as possible, or do you ever see Battlecross performing lengthier songs that would hit 8 minutes plus?
DON: Short and sweet, baby. Not grind core short, but anywhere within 3-4 minutes is perfect. Just long enough to engage, but not overly lengthy to bore the listener. If we ever did an 8 minute epic, it’d most likely be an instrumental at the end of the album. I couldn’t see Kyle sitting through an eight minute song on an album, haha. And thank you for the kind words about ‘Spoiled’! My best part about that song, being the bass player, is the opening. I had something a bit more eloquent than what’s on the album, but in the studio Suecof looked at me after my first run through of the intro and said, “A.” I give him a puzzled look and he reiterated, “Just A.” So I did just that, rode that note and I couldn’t help but laugh at how perfect it was.
MD: Do you have any bands that, while growing up, inspired you to one day create your own music? Do you follow any similar bands today?
DON: Speaking on behalf of Tony and Hiran, it’s definitely Pantera and Metallica. Can’t really say there’s anything too similar to those two bands these days, but there are plenty of bands also inspired by those two and have made their own style, just as we have.
MD: Tony Asta and Hiran Deraniyagala, both out of the Midwest US in Canton, MI, started writing music for Battlecross back in 2003. Being that they have been the core of the group since the beginning, what are some of the most drastic changes from your humble beginnings right up to touring with the likes of Amon Amarth and GWAR?
DON: Drummers, for sure. Seems we’ve just had a rough run with keeping a drummer around for more than an album cycle since ‘Pursuit of Honor’. Our style has evolved as well. Instead of simply trying to be the next Pantera or Metallica, we’ve shifted our focus on just being Battlecross and giving our fans exactly what they’d expect from us.
MD: Do you have any standout memories and experiences that you’d like to share about being on the road with GWAR?
DON: In my case, it’s becoming a Slave for GWAR on this tour. I get to run around with my favorite band of all time and not only help the production of the show, but be part of the show as well! That’s at least three ticks off the bucket list, haha.
MD: Battlecross have gone through a few musical style changes, along with multiple line-up changes, in the years leading up to your latest album. Do you feel that the current line-up is set for the long haul?
DON: I would love to believe so, but you never know what life holds for everyone. As of right now, it definitely feels like we have our core set in stone, but again - you never know. Regardless of what may happen, we’re all responsible for having our own fill-ins, in case something shitty life happens and we’ve met plenty of musicians on the road that would love to help if their schedules allow; however, I tend to not want to think about that kind of stuff, haha.
MD: You make no bones about your style as it plainly comes across as a wonderful hybrid of melodic-death and thrash. How do you maintain a balance between the two? Do you find yourself leaning towards one particular genre over the other?
DON: The balance is in our own inspirations. We don’t really go about writing songs like, “Hey, it MUST sound this way or else it’s a no-go.” My style of writing leans towards the up-tempo ‘boss battle’ type of music; Tony leans more towards the thrash with a hint of technicality and Hiran is vice-versa. Really, as long as we’re happy with the songs, we know our fans will be happy as well.
MD: Having put together live shows in front of larger audiences and smaller venues, which do you prefer? Big shows vs. ~100 people?
DON: Both! Haha. The big shows can be epic as hell, but sometimes it’s hard to get the crowd into it due to the sheer amount of folks attending the gig, whereas the smaller shows are easier to get the crowd pumped and into the music. We really have no preference, we just want the crowd to get into the tunes and we’ll bang our heads off in attempt to get them to bang along!
MD: What are your thoughts on playing more international events vs. touring in the US? Do you find yourselves enjoying the travelling? Do you ever feel burnt out after a long period on the road?
DON: We wouldn’t be on the road f we didn’t love to travel! Getting burnt out really depends on the tour. Some of the longer ones (6 weeks or more) can be a bit taxing, but the worst thing you can do is become homesick. Just get on the road and enjoy every mile. We absolutely love touring abroad; however, sometimes (most of the time, unfortunately), our budget simply can’t afford it. We’ve been to Europe twice and South America twice, and each time was fantastic and beyond my wildest expectations. Never thought I’d touch foreign soil that wasn’t Canada or Mexico, haha.