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14th August 2010
Reactivated veteran Bristonian thrashers Onslaught have found a renewed popularity for their music since reforming in 2004 amongst both the older generation of metaller and younger fan alike. With thrash's resurgence during the past few years, it's a climate within which Onslaught have found themselves thriving. Booked to play on the main stage at Bloodstock Open Air in 2010 at the festival's tenth anniversary, a decade into the new century sees the band still going from strength to strength and with the promise of a forthcoming new album, 'The Sounds of Violence', they look set to continue for many years to come. Founding member Nige Rockett and newer recruit Andy Rosser-Davies spoke to Metal Discovery in the press tent at Bloodstock a short while after their performance.
METAL DISCOVERY: How are you two at the moment?
NIGE ROCKETT: Very good, thank you.
(Nige Rockett on the new, younger generation of thrash bands)
"They are unoriginal...That's the thing. Basically, all the big thrash bands who were around in the '80s are still going, delivering great stuff. It's difficult for these guys to be credible in what they're doing. It's difficult being the commoner, really."
Nige and Andy in the press tent at Bloodstock Open Air, Catton Hall, Derbyshire, 14th August 2010
Photograph copyright © 2010 Mark Holmes - www.metal-discovery.com
Interview by Elena Francis; Photography by Mark Holmes
ANDY ROSSER-DAVIES: Yeah, very positive. Tired...and happy! Tired and happy!
MD: How would you say your performance was today?
AR: Yeah, I think we're quite pleased.
NR: We played a show last night in Bristol - a small club last night - for a little warm up. Because we've been writing a new album, we've only played four shows this year, concentrating on writing. We were a little worried about being kind of rusty. I think we got away with it, to be honest.
MD: How is the new album coming along?
AR: Very very good.
NR: The recording starts tomorrow. We're going to fly out from Birmingham tomorrow. It's all written and ready to go. We're pleased with what we've got so far. We'll see how it goes.
MD: How is it different from what you've done in the past?
NR: Little more technical, I'd say.
AR: I think we've got the key essence of what the band is in it though. I think what we set out to do is to make the best album we could. I think what makes the band the band, the essence, is still there. I think we just really pushed ourselves and pushed ourselves and pushed ourselves. Nothing is just good enough. Everything is there. We've put every effort into doing.
NR: Far more aggressive than the last album.
MD: I know you weren't giving away the album title before. Are you unveiling the title now?
NR: Yeah, I think we announced it today, actually: 'The Sounds of Violence'.
MD: 'The Sounds of Violence'? That sounds pretty thrash!
AR: Mm..it kinds of sums up the whole of it, I guess.
NR: Lyrically and musically. It's quite impressive.
MD: This is the first time that you're working with AFM. Why did you decide to leave your former record label Candlelight?
AR: [laughs]
MD: Sounds like a story!
NR: Yeah, I'm not sure if we can tell or not. With Candlelight, we were only signed for a one album deal anyway with an option both ways; if we both agreed to a new album, we'd both agree. But it didn't go the way we wanted it to with the last album. We released a track with AFM. They did a compilation with Slayer and stuff and they said "Can we use one of your tracks?" and we got talking to them through that and they had a lot of good things to say. So we thought, letís see what these guys are gonna do. They're a German label, well established, got a good history. We thought let's give it a go. So far we obviously haven't released anything yet. Their actions to the band has been absolutely phenomenal. Today, for example, we got twenty two interviews so that shows you how hard they're working for the band. We probably didn't do twenty two interviews with Candlelight on the whole album. It kind of shows you the attitude of the label.
MD: Were you happy with the way Candlelight handled 'Killing Peace'?
NR: No, not really.
MD: But it was still a very well received album and it got around.
NR: Yeah, it was very well received but I think they could have done a lot more work for the band, especially in territories in Japan where we've got a big hardcore following. They tried to come up with an idea that didn't work against our bare wishes.
AR: I think AFM seem to be far more proactive about the band. We're all focused on making an album and getting it out to as many people as possible and that's the kind of vibe that we get and, as a band, we're giving them and the record company are giving us. We want to work together to make the best recording possible.
MD: I'm assuming this is definitely the best recording you guys have ever done? In all honesty?
AR: [laughs]. Everybody says that!
NR: I look back at 'Killing Peace' and we all said that was probably the best album. Give it 7/10. At the moment, this one's 9/10. Maybe next year, it might be different but as Andy said early, we've done the best we can at this point. We've kept it old school, we've tried to move on into new territories at the same time without losing the identity of the band.
MD: How do you write? Because you guys have been going for a very long time, do you have inspiration constantly or..?
NR: Very easily. 'Killing Peace' was quite easy as well because we had such a long hiatus. Again, with Andy joining the band as soon as we made 'Killing Peace', it's another fresh...it's been a good album to make. When we got on a roll, we've been completely rolling.
AR: I've thoroughly enjoyed it. What I feel positive about is itís never been contrived. We could have sat there on day one and said let's replicate this album. The template for us has been to push ourselves and push it forwards, push it forwards, push it forwards. Every band says their album is going to be the best one until the next one but we've done the best we can. Without a doubt.
MD: Is there anything different in the writing process in this album compared to any others?
AR: Yeah, the way that we've worked has...worked really well, I thought.
NR: We've written the album actually in the studio. We've got a studio in South Wales. As the ideas come out, we can record them and say "Is this right?" and tweak that, whereas in the rehearsal room, it tends to be a long process of mass debates and noise and it's not conducive to making good music. What we've done seems to have been pretty quick.
AR: I think it's a hateful album, spiteful, aggressive, fast in parts, simple in parts, technical in parts. It's heavier. When I say that, I don't mean to say it changes all the time; it's not progressive or whatever but we've tried to encompass everything that we love about the genre, love about the band as well and we've tried to record it.
MD: On the last CD, you worked with Andy Sneap but you're not working with him again.
NR: No, Andy was too busy to do this one so it's not necessarily a bad thing. Every album we've ever made has had a different producer, has had a different feel. As much as we love what Andy has done on the last album, it might not be a bad thing for the band to move on to someone different again just to keep things fresh and get some different ideas. Jacob Hansen - we've listened to his stuff and what he brings to the table is very lively sounds.
MD Speaking about your 'Live Damnation', I was really intrigued because you weren't headlining. Why did you decide to record a non-headlining show?
NR: Exposure, to be honest because 'Killing Peace' had been out for 18 months. We'd only had a few new songs written so we thought we needed something to pick up the profile and keep our name running so we thought a live album. We've never done a live album.
MD: Weren't there technical problems at that show?
NR: Yeah, the whole PA went down on one side.
AR: Yeah, that's right.
NR: I love the album but the only thing is we couldn't get all the crowd mic'd in because we weren't headlining so it kind of lacks the atmosphere of the crowd. It's a really great album.
MD: How was it received by the fans?
AR: Very well.
NR: We've had comments like "It's one of the best live albums ever made."
AR: The feedback is like it's a great introduction to the band. Great direction, I guess, a decent way to get into Onslaught.
NR: We're trying to expose ourselves to younger fans and obviously keep our old fans with us. As Andy said, it's a good introduction.
MD: Thrash metal is having a revival at the moment. How do you feel about these new younger bands? There seems to be a divide; they're either really good or unoriginal.
NR: They are unoriginal, aren't they. That's the thing. Basically, all the big thrash bands who were around in the '80s are still going, delivering great stuff. It's difficult for these guys to be credible in what they're doing. It's difficult being the commoner, really.
NR: Not really. No, to be honest.
MD: Do you listen to any of these newer thrash bands?