DATE OF INTERVIEW:
14th August 2010
NIGE ROCKETT; ANDY ROSSER-DAVIES
METAL DISCOVERY: Obviously Onslaught are a classic thrash band. Do you think the 'scene' has changed now from back then? Not just with the Internet.
NIGE ROCKETT: The Internet has changed things in the fact that it's quicker to make contact with someone. As I was saying to someone earlier, we used to receive boxes of mail from South America whereas now...we used to answer every one person. I don't think it's a lot different, maybe a little less enthusiastic. It's not as mad; in the mid eighties, everything would be laid to waste.
(Andy Rosser-Davies on the enthusiasm of Onslaught's South American fans)
"Was it Santiago where the security guard got dragged off stage? He was stopping people from enjoying themselves, I guess. They grabbed him into the crowd and all you could see was BANG BANG BANG."
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
MD: I'm assuming you preferred it back in the eighties to now.
ANDY ROSSER-DAVIES: It would just be wrecked. It's a litigious culture though. Everything is lawsuits and health and safety, everything's gotta be a lot safer.
NR: Promoters are really strict now. We used to employ our own security team we used to take to allow people to stage dive safely, but now you see so many over-zealous security. It's not the same vibe any more.
NR: Yeah but when we went to South America last year, it was quite like how it used to be [laughs].
AR: Which show did we play? Was it Santiago where the security guard got dragged off stage? He was stopping people from enjoying themselves, I guess. They grabbed him into the crowd and all you could see was BANG BANG BANG.
MD: I always thought it would get annoying for a band when there are floods of crowd surfers and they kick all the equipment around.
NR: We used to actively encourage it so you could say it was kind of annoying.
AR: Oh yeah, we played a show last year in Holland where we had a stage invasion and there were literally thirty people on stage plus the band and when I looked about to see what the band was doing, there were just people on stage.
NR: The audience are as much as part of the show as the band. If they give us lots of energy, we give them loads. The more mad they go, the more we wind it up.
AR: Yeah, definitely.
MD: Do you find it harder to keep relevant in the modern world with so many new bands coming out and people are bombarded with different albums?
NR: There are so many bands in this day and age but we're lucky in the fact that we have history so we have an advantage as long as we keep ourselves ahead of the game. We're okay.
AR: I think obviously there's the history of the band but you've just got to do what you do. I think one thing is not to be contrived. You can't say "We want to sound like that" or "We want to sound like this." You've just got to do what you do and if you do that well then whatever happens happens after.
NR: Complacent is the other one. Today we could have thought let's walk out there and not give it any effort but we can't do that. We give one hundred and ten per cent. That's the only way we know how to do it.
AR: We try to do the best we can.
MD: Everyone says that your shows are really great. Are Onslaught more popular now or were they more popular in the eighties?
NR: It's kind of weird because you can't gauge things anymore because of the Internet and illegal downloading. You never know how many records you sell.
MD: What about live show attendances?
NR: Live shows, especially big festivals, have been going down really amazing. People have been knowing all the new and old songs so I guess it's a marker to where we're at.
AR: It's a different world really, especially with the way people consume music these days. There's so many bands. You can create your own music and put it out to the world in ten or five minutes.
MD: How do you feel about illegal downloading?
NR: It's wrong. You're stealing someone's work, your stealing someone's livelihood.
MD: I'm assuming you've sold more albums now than you did in the eighties?
NR: Far more. We probably sold first three albums - three quarters of a million copies. But I can't even gauge how many the last album sold. We go to South America and we're playing to crowds of four thousand people and they all know your songs but you know damn well that you haven't sold four thousand copies in that part of Columbia so it tells you how much you're being downloaded.
MD: Do you think the exposure's good?
NR: Yeah. It's a double-edged sword.
AR: The more people that know your music and like your music, as a musician, that's what you want. You want as many people to hear you as possible but at the same time, if it gets to the point where that stops you from being a musician, that gets kind of counter-productive really. It's not about being obsessed with money or power or whatever. It's just a case it can't go on forever.
NR: We've put so much time into this, you'd need a little bit to recover back. We're not saying it'll make me a millionaire.
AR: You need to keep on doing it really. To me, it's not a case of living a rock 'n' roll lifestyle. It's the fact that this is what we love to do and this is what we want to do and I think it's the same for lots of musicians really. It gets to the point where so many people are downloading the EP and so many people aren't buying the CDs, there's not that revenue there and then all of a sudden, the record companies will say no.
NR: They're reacting against it now. I've been speaking to some young guys in new bands and they've been offered deals where the record company want to take all their publishing and they want to take eighty per cent of their merchandise. The label is saying "Give us everything," and all they're giving them is some tour support on the road and sell more CDs so the label makes more money.
AR: It's getting tighter and tighter and is getting more difficult for the musicians and that's what damages music because that flow of new ideas, that flow of new musicians...they can't do it; they can't afford it.
NR: These same guys who are trying to get bands together are the same guys who are illegally downloading music so it's coming back on them in a nasty way.
MD: Tape-trading in the eighties was a big thing. Isn't that a similar thing?
NR: I used to do that all the time. When we started, we were tape trading all around the world but what would happen is people would tape trade and then they'd buy your album, whereas now, because the quality is so good, they can get an exact quality.
AR: With tape-trading, it was different because it wasn't the commercially-released albums that were traded. It was the way the bands introduced themselves. Once a band made its name, people would buy the album.
NR: By the time you traded so many tapes, they were tenth generation so you were trying to listen through the hiss.
MD: Onslaught are a classic thrash band. Do you think you'll be going on forever? You don't think you'd throw in the towel and let the younger generations take over?
NR: When I can't rock my sixty year old arse off, then yeah!
AR: I think the plus side of the Internet is obviously when we go about the place, old people, middle-aged people, young people - all just enjoying the music and that's what's changed. The biggest thing with the Internet is that I see people in late teens, early twenties, they're not quite many more liking things they like. What I mean by that is they'll listen to anything so age doesn't really become as much of a factor as it would have been. For me, when I was that age, I wouldn't listen to half of the things my nieces and nephews listen to but because there's such a choice there, there's lots of different things. You see bands like Led Zeppelin coming back and doing that kind of stuff and AC/DC - that tour last year was the highest grossing tour and those guys are, what, in their sixties? I don't think it's important as it was.
MD: As long as it's physically okay.
NR: Yeah, as long as you can do it.
AR: If you get to the point where you show up and you think, "God, this is shit," then you owe it to people to say you're not giving value for money. But if you're going up there and you're doing your job and people are being entertained and walking away from the gig going "That was a brilliant show," then it doesn't make a difference. That's what it comes down to - people enjoying themselves.
MD: What's the future of Onslaught after this album? Excessive touring, I suppose?
NR: Who knows! Tour, touring, touring.
MD: When do you think the album will be released?
NR: November the 12th. Allegedly [laughs]. Two weeks tour in Japan.
MD: That's the end of the questions. Any final words?
NR: Thank you for the interview.
AR: Yeah, we've had a good time. When the new album comes out, listen to it, enjoy it, see us live.
NR: Don't fucking download it [laughs]!
AR: Buy the t-shirt.
MD: Thanks for your time.
NR: Thank you. Interesting questions.
Onslaught Official Website:
Onslaught Official MySpace:
Power From Hell (1985)
The Force (1986)
In Search of Sanity (1989)
Killing Peace (2007)
The Sounds of Violence (2010)
Thanks to Mike Exley for arranging the interview.