DATE OF INTERVIEW:
4th December 2012
METAL DISCOVERY: Hi Antton, firstly a huge thanks for taking the time out to answer these questions. ‘Warface’ first appeared in June, the response has been justifiably fantastic and momentum is growing quickly. How do you and the rest of the band feel about the reaction so far?
ANTTON: We are all so excited, we have put a lot of hard work into making the album, and we recorded it all ourselves and mastered it etc etc, so to be getting such killer reviews is simply awesome.
(Antton Lant on recording Def-Con-One's debut album, 'Warface')
"...the album was recorded in our own rehearsal / recording studio. It’s called the room of doom and it’s a shit hole, but it’s our shit hole!"
Interview by Rick Tilley
Official Def-Con-One Facebook:
Def-Con-One EP (2011)
Albums & EPs
After years of blood, sweat and toil, Newcastle based band Def-Con-One, featuring former Venom drummer Antton Lant, released their monstrous debut album ‘Warface’ earlier this year to universal praise. Now signed to Scarlet Records and with a new agent, the guys are ready to move forward and bludgeon you all into submission along the way. All round top man Antton recently spoke to Metal Discovery about all things Def-Con-One and a little bit more as well...
Def-Con-One - promo shot
Photograph copyright © 2012 Uncredited
Official Def-Con-One website:
MD: This has certainly not been an ‘overnight success’, you have all had to work very hard to get the band to this point. For anyone out there not familiar with Def-Con-One would you like to give the lowdown on how you got together?
ANTTON: We have been called Def-Con-One since 1997, me and guitarist Johnny were in a previous band together and basically wanted something a bit heavier. Over the years we’ve had a few different members in the band, Steve has been in Def-Con-One for about 10 years now and Davey joined in 2010. I had previously been in a band with Davey and knew how well he could sing and knew he was a nice guy to work with etc.
MD: You are probably best known for recording three albums with Venom over nearly 10 years. How do you look back on that time considering some of the problems that arose?
ANTTON: Well, considering some of the problems I would say for the most of it, it was a good laugh I guess. I found the metal black period probably the best. Working with Mike Hickey was a pleasure, he’s one of the nicest people I know. He is also on the Def Con One album; he plays a badass solo at the end of ‘March Of The Dead’. But, to be honest with you, unless I’m being asked about it, I don’t think about it; it seems like another lifetime ago.
MD: Now that you are solely concentrating on Def-Con-One, how does it finally feel to be in a band with a happy and stable line-up?
ANTTON: The best, the best feeling in the world, it’s an absolute pleasure playing in this band with these guys. We are writing new songs at the moment and we basically hit the record button and jam. Anything that feels good stays, anything that doesn’t goes. We are all about making the best metal music we can make but it’s gotta be fun. Rehearsals are so much fun, everyone’s ideas get tried out, and gigs are crazy too. Honestly, no one knows what’s gonna happen - don’t get me wrong, we all take it very seriously but we do fuck around a bit too; makes it all a bit more fun for the crowd too. The last gig we did Davey took Johnny’s guitar and started playing ‘Walk’ by Pantera and it was great, no one panicking or anything, oh shit we didn’t rehearse that bit, oh no… hahaha.
MD: I have been living with the album ‘Warface’ for about three months now and it will easily be amongst my top ten releases of the year. Your music is very heavy but has excellent groove and melody. How do you approach the writing?
ANTTON: Thank you very much, I’m really glad you like it mate. Like I was saying before, we jam a lot of it out, and we try and rehearse the tracks quite a bit before committing them to tape. This helps get the groove sitting right and flowing right with the vocals etc. We have some killer grooves for the next album. I like to try out a few different beats too and see which fits. We’re more concerned about the song; we try and write for the song, it’s pointless trying to put a beat over it if it doesn’t fit. I’m a massive AC/DC fan and, I tell ya, Phil Rudd is one of the best drummers in the world. I heard a live album which had a different drummer on it and, to me, the songs did not feel right, then Phil came back and I saw them at the Newcastle arena and as soon as Phil kicked in, me and my brother (who is also a drummer) just looked at each other and smiled and said now that’s what it’s all about. The groove was back.
MD: There are also some fabulous lyrics and subjects covered on the album. Is there an input from the whole band lyrically?
ANTTON: Yes, we all have a say. If anyone writes any lyrics we automatically pass them round so we can all read them and maybe add a twist or something. Even in the recording stages we’re all firing shit into the pot, we will try everything and then decide which ones we like.
MD: Another huge plus for the album is the quality of production. Being a drummer myself, it is very welcome to hear such a clear rhythm section in the mix, your drums in particular sound huge. Could you give an insight into how and where the album was recorded?
ANTTON: Wow, I’m glad you like the drum sound. I have 24” by 20” bass drums and they are made by Mapex. I had to wait ages for them because most people in the UK play 22” bass drums so these babies were custom made. Then my toms are massive too, 14” and 15” mounted and an 18” floor. My drums are Saturn series for any drummers out there. I love massive drum sounds, and the album was recorded in our own rehearsal / recording studio. It’s called the room of doom and it’s a shit hole, but it’s our shit hole! Johnny has the magic fingers and we all let him know what we want, then he ignores us and does what he wants... just kidding, we all get a say in the sounds and the mix.
MD: Although there is great diversity on ‘Warface’ the song ‘Feeling Cold’ is a complete departure, being an acoustic ballad but is, in my opinion, one of the most intense songs on the album. How did that track come about and is it a direction you might return to in the future?
ANTTON: ‘Feeling Cold’ started with an idea Davey had; he basically started playing it on the guitar and we all started saying, wow, we could go here with it etc. We also thought it could open up into a heavy riff and big ending etc but that kinda distracted from the simplicities of the tune and the lyrics started to become more and more fucked up so the song stayed pretty much the same going through, and Davey built it up vocally. We weren’t that sure how it would get perceived next to the rest of the album but, saying that, people love it; we get a lot of really great comments about that track. We do have a couple of other tracks similar, like clean guitars etc so we will see how they turn out, maybe we will use one.
MD: You, like me, listen to a huge variety of rock and metal bands. Those influences come across cohesively on the album but are there other styles of music that you listen to or appreciate?
ANTTON: I personally think there are only 2 kinds of music, good and bad. I like a lot of different styles. I kinda go through phases though. Back in the early nineties I got given a lot of rap music from a pal of mine like NWA and 2 Live Crew and that stuff is great. I try and appreciate music for what it is. My brother Graham listens to pretty much every style of music and I used to share a bedroom with him as a kid so one minute I’m listening to Genesis then I’m listening to Devo, or Nena Hagan or the Tubes. Then, later on in life, I lived at his house for a while so I got to hear Chaka Kahn, Funkadelic Luther Vandross, Prince etc etc. I love all music.
MD: As Def-Con-One is now your number one priority and you are signed with Scarlet Records, and both of these things have given the band a big media boost recently, what are your plans for touring in 2013?
ANTTON: We have an agent now, Chic Talent, so the next step is world domination. Hopefully we will get on some cool tours and festivals too. We wanna get out playing to as many people as possible, every gig we do gets us more fans, and being an original band it’s not easy getting across to people, but so far we have been getting some killer live reviews so were doing something right.
MD: Are there also plans to play live further afield, particularly in America, where I think your music would go down really well?
ANTTON: We would love to get over to the states. We have been getting more and more air play on a few American radio stations and we are getting more and more American fans too.
MD: I have recently been enjoying your video for the song ’10 Bullets’. This combines not only humour, showing how well you guys seem to get on, but also some great live clips proving that Def-Con- One put on an intense show. Was that fun to make?
ANTTON: We are like that all the time, we are constantly taking the piss out of each other etc etc. Those bits in the ‘10 Bullets’ video were us messing about. Once we watched the footage back we just thought we have to put it in the video. The live stuff was recorded in a place called the Snooty Fox in Wakefield; the gig broadcasts your show live on the internet too. And yes it was fun to make… hahaha.
MD: Do you currently have plans for a follow up to ‘Warface’ or do you want to concentrate on gigging these songs to a wider audience first before working on album number two?
ANTTON: We have been writing recently in between gigs. We have some killer new songs and we were thinking of streaming one for free early next year too. Let our fans have a taste of the next album for free.
MD: You said to me recently that ‘Warface’ had been issued as a limited edition vinyl and had sold out almost immediately. Do you have any plans for further pressings and how do you view what appears to be a resurgence in the sale of vinyl?
ANTTON: The vinyl was a limited edition run, limited to 250 copies. It’s awesome - gatefold sleeve with a free mask, killer new live pics our pal Graeme Baty took and the actual vinyl is a grey urban marble type thing, it looks badass. The record company sold out in about 5 days, we were all so excited… freaked out is probably the best way to put it. We have a few copies that we’re gonna put on our merch page and sign ‘em all, so keep your eyes peeled for them. I love vinyl; I can remember as a kid getting my ‘Highway to Hell’ album or ‘Back in Black’ and being so excited. It’s hard to get that excited about a CD cover. And some albums look way cooler on a big 12” cover.
MD: You are also a huge fan of Pantera and that sound is a clear influence on ‘Warface’. To me they were one of the few bands that kept the metal sound alive during the 90s. What is it about them that you like so much?
ANTTON: I got into pantera around ‘Vulgar…’, my pal Gary brought ‘Cowboys from Hell’ round for me and said, “hey you gotta check these out”. I played the CD a few times and thought it was killer, then about a week or two later he brought ‘Vulgar…’ around to check out, it was awesome. I thought it was great to hear metal like this. I’m a big Van Halen fan and, for me, Pantera are like a heavy as fuck Van Halen, and with the brother thing going on and Phil’s larger than life personality, but the music was heavy as fuck. Then I heard ‘Far Beyond…’ and that was me 100% hooked. I saw them live and thought, wow, the intensity was overwhelming man, they were by far the best metal band on the music scene. And I had the pleasure, the absolute pleasure to meet the guys a few times and they were all so fuckin’ cool.
MD: How do you balance the importance of the internet to promote the band against the people who will use it to download your music for free?
ANTTON: Awesome, Facebook has been great for us and helped us get some of our best gigs. As for downloading music, it’s just a shame that it’s hurting smaller bands, well almost all bands I guess.
MD: Bearing that in mind, how do you think the music industry needs to change in the coming years to battle the power of the internet or do you think record labels, as we know them, have had their day?
ANTTON: Hmmmm, that’s a tough one. Metal music / rock music has survived a lot of changes and that’s because the fans are hardcore, but I’m not too sure how the illegal downloading thing can be stopped.
MD: Before we finish, are there any last comments you would like to make to the readers of Metal Discovery?
ANTTON: Thanks for talking to me man and I hope you guys out there will take 5 minutes to check us out. You never know, you might just like us.
MD: Antton, it has been an absolute pleasure to talk with you. I wish you all continued success with ‘Warface’ and your plans for 2013, and I look forward to speaking with you again soon. Many thanks.