Feb 2004 by
Thanks to Century Media for the promo
Fans of The Haunted, Slayer, Carnal Forge, and the whole
new wave of modern thrash metal that seems to be getting more and more
attention should take heed. A new English band has emerged from the
underground hardcore/metal scene. Fellow brothers of steel, don't let the
hardcore portion of Stampin' Ground scare you away. I am not a listener of
hardcore music, but I do love good thrash metal and this band takes a lot
of their influence from thrash, especially with the killer riffing
provided by Scott Atkins (one of the band's 2 guitarists). The below
interview is meant to introduce you to the band, to discover what they are
about, and of course to focus on the band's new release A
New Darkness Upon Us. For those in North America, you might be
pleased to learn that Stampin' Ground will be coming to the U.S. this
spring. Dates will be announced soon.
your band is new to many of our readers, can you briefly introduce us to
your band and tell us what your goals are.
We formed back in í95, and basically, and in all honesty, wanted to
be the most brutal, crushing metallic hardcore band of all time. It wasnít
about success to us, we assumed that success would come from our original
approach to hardcore, it wasnít about being metallic, or more metal than
any other hardcore bands, we wanted to be the most extreme.
When writing material, we tried really hard to grind our riffs as much
as possible, and our first mini CD (self titled), and our debut album
(Demons Run Amok) are a testimony to that; itís a real hard job to play
them all the way through without being worn down!
We found that the Ďgrinding riffs to deathí approach wasnít doing
many favors for us in the live scenario; people were kind of rooted to the
spot, or depressed, so we kind of learned that we might be doing something
wrong. Youíll see that our second CD ĎAn expression..í saw us take a
much more thrash metal approach to hardcore, this was a much more natural
sound for us, and we were very comfortable with it. Likewise, this is what
we developed on for our third and most recent release, ĎCarved from
Weíve recently finished writing the new album, and admittedly, itís
more metal than weíve ever been, but we it still has the Stampin' Ground
(SG) sound. Itíll be world class metal album to go up against Slayer and
As strong as we see ourselves on CD, we pride ourselves to be one of
the best live acts about, and we never give less than 100% when we hit the
stage. If you ever see shots of us live, more often that not it captures
the true action, airborne chaos we get every time we play Ė 50 kids or
How did you get the nickname "Axegrinder"? Was it just for
guitar playing, or do you have an axe to grind / a chip on your shoulder /
Adam just came up with it one day. I really play hard live, and I was
talking about grinding plectrums to dust one time. It was definitely Ďaxeí
as in guitar.
Your drummer, Neil Hutton, was in Benediction I believe?!? What's
the story on that and on how he joined Stampin' Ground?
Ade, our previous drummer used to slay his kit, and really blow
everyone away with his playing. For reasons personal to him, his life went
in another direction to the band, and his commitment and playing weakened.
We had no choice but to replace him.
The new guy is Neil Hutton and yeah, he played in Benediction. He is
unbelievably good, and very groovy and solid. He really brings the songs
to life and is totally in to what we are doing. Basically, he had a side
project band he played in when he wasnít on tour with Benediction, and
they supported SG a few times. We had his card marked from back then.
Being from Cheltenham, England, is not a location that we hear a lot
about when it comes to metal scenes. What type of an atmosphere exists in
your home town for playing live, and are there other up and coming metal
bands in your area?
We have a lot of metal kids, but not really a lot happening with bands
and shows. When we play itís always a killer atmosphere, and we draw
pretty good too. The only other band who are on tour all over Europe are a
punk band called Ď4ft Fingersí. No one else is feeling the steel Iím
afraid, maybe itís got something to do with EMF (they had the single Ďunbelievableí)
coming from around these parts!
Back in the later 70's / early 80's England was THE place to be for
metal with bands like Black Sabbath, Iron Maiden, MotŲrhead, Judas
Priest, and Saxon establishing England as the premier country for heavy
metal. However after this wave of bands, nothing as glorious occurred as
their original breakout. Why do you think that is?
I think itís like anything really, England has been a forerunner in a
lot of things historically, but we always hand it over to another country
to take up the reigns to do better!
I think by 1985, the U.K wasnít the only country to be exporting
metal, everyone was doing it and it just became so busy that all the
struggling British bands had little or no chance to develop and succeed
against the bigger U.S bands. Itís been that way ever sinceÖuntil
Stampiní Ground delivered the new record!
"A New Darkness Upon Us" is your third album following
"Carved From Empty Words" and "An Expression Of Repressed
Violence". What changes in sound or style have occurred over this
Ď..Expressioní was a true crossover album and we were finding our
feet. Some songs are very hardcore, some very metal, but not many songs
with a foot in each pond. ĎCarved..í put a step forwards in getting SG
a sound of itís own, to be become a perfect blend of hardcore and metal
and become a metalcore band. It was also the first album where we wrote
pretty good songs.
The new album is all about good songs in the SG sound. Call it what you
want, but its our sound.
Are any of the band members involved in other bands or projects?
No one in SG plays in any other bands.
When I mentioned to a few other Metal-Rules.com staffers that I
wanted to interview Stampin' Ground, one reply was "I thought you
didn't like hardcore?" I replied that I didn't but that I loved
thrash metal old Slayer and The Haunted...so Stampin' Ground was an easy
pill to swallow for me. Do you get this kind of reaction from some metal
fans? Or the opposite, a reaction from hardcore people who think you are
Yeah, we do get this reaction, but people soon see the light. Often,
they hear us on the radio and find out about the band later, without any
pre-conceived ideas about how we should sound.
A lot of hardcore kids do think we are too metal; but I can understand
that. At the end of the day, a good band is a good band, and their songs
are good if you like them, regardless of what other people label you.
Speaking of that thrash metal influence, since you are one of the
guitarists in the band, from where do you derive the more thrash elements
of your playing?
I love the 80ís thrash scene, and I definitely draw a lot from that.
That whole scene had aggression which a lot of bands donít have anymore,
and if you come to our shows, youíll see what effect it has on the
audience. We have a great time; its all about energy, thrashing it up and
rockiní out. Of course, itís only an influence we use the thrash idea
to give our modern sound the energetic edge.
Is image important to your band? I don't see any of the leather
pants or spike of traditional metal, but perhaps more of a hardcore look
to the band with the shorts and short hair cuts? Or maybe I'm retarded for
We just wear what we are comfortable in. When we do photo shoots we try
and make sure there is some harmony to the look of the band but thatís
about it. We are obviously great looking lads so we donít need weird
clothes and make up to make us look coolÖ!
Who are some of your favorite guitarists both for riffing and for
ripping (aka soling)?
I love Kirk Hammett, James Hetfield, Phil Demmel + Robb Flynn when they
were in Vio-lence, Scott Ian, Alex Skolnick from Testament, George Lynch
and Chris Oliva from Savatage.
Does watching some guitar player like Steve Vai make you want to
throw up or perhaps throw away your guitar since his playing is sounds
like he's from another planet?
I know Steve Vai is a killer player, but heís got no steel in his
playing. Heís not for me.
One could argue that many (not all) of the new wave of thrash metal
bands have the exact same type of vocalist (i.e. The Haunted, Carnal
Forge, Dew Scented, etc.). This is the only criticism I have for your
band, with the vocals being not that diverse (even through they are done
very well). Do you agree with this opinion, do you plan to diversify the
vocals at all for the next album?
We worked very hard with the vocals on this latest album, but itís
very difficult to find stuff that fits other that what you hear on the
record. Adam is improving so maybe on the next album, depending on the
direction of the music, we will vary stuff. Who knows!
What does the title "A New Darkness Upon Us" refer to?
We felt that in recent years, a new sense of madness is gripping the
world. It really is as if a new darkness is upon us. Iím not talking
just about terrorism, but the evils of mankind and how things donít seem
to be dealt with that need urgent attention. Law and order is still very
tame and when I watch the news it depresses me beyond belief.
cover art looks great!! Did it have any special meaning, or was the artist
given free reign to do what they wanted?
We wanted the art to reflect how mankind is a destructor in many ways.
Throughout the booklet, the artwork reflects the passing of time,
starting with colours that convey light and peace. With the inception of a
city, the harsh, cold blues take over the once bright, innocent
environment. As the city crumbles, oranges and reds are used to show fire
and darkness. It speaks as if to say that everything was fine until
humanity took over, then destruction followed soon thereafter, resulting
in the front cover.
We worked very closely with the artist; we found common ground very
What inspired some of the lyrics for the new album? Do real life
events take precedence over fictional stories/lyrics?
Pretty much life in general, how things are obviously getting worse in
the world, and how when we watch the news, you are left with a fairly numb
feeling how everything is in chaos. I donít things have been much better
in the past, nor in the future; itís as if things are getting darker,
and thatís where the album title comes in. Itís all to do with real
life. We donít do fiction like dragons and swords!
What was it like to record with the renowned Andy Sneap? Did he
bring out something different in the band's studio performance that hadn't
been captured before?
The best. Andy came to the project like an additional member, and
showed us a lot of guidance. He knew exactly what we wanted, and also when
something could be better. Dave Chang had done a stellar job in the past
but we were looking for a cleaner, punchier sound. It was great to be in
Andyís very safe hands and we could concentrate on performance knowing
it was gonna sound amazing at the end. Andy helped mould the songs so they
came across better, and it definitely comes across.
Knowing Andy had worked with some great bands like Testament and
Machine Head and making references to things involved with those bands was
Was his recording process different form what you did in the past?
Not really, just more precise, more demanding and much, much longer.
Andy has some cool tricks, and he records with ProTools which is a digital
set up which makes life easier. Andy is a metal master and heís always
one step ahead.
Do you think you sound better on the album than you do live or has
your live sound and level of aggression yet to be captured?
The album sounds better than we do live; it has to Ė it needs to
stand up to scrutiny of reviewers and hundreds of listens. The Ďcapturing
the live soundí debate is many years long now, and itís the same for
us as any band Ė it canít be done. You donít have the venue, the pa
and the atmosphere in your house so it will never be the same. Weíre
probably more aggressive live because itís raw and in your face, on
record this equates to bad production and bad playing!
Tell us how you got signed to Century Media; as I understand it you
had 2 albums out and had already toured in the US before they signed your
We had a few epís out and we were touring a lot and getting a good
vibe out on the band. After a few years CM gave us a call and signed us.
It was really quick and before you know it we had ĎExpression..í out
in the shops.
We never toured in the states before we signed to CM; they just hadnít
released the album there.
Has it made a huge impact on the band, album sales, touring
Sure; they have good distro and good contacts for shows. You need good
support from a label and without it you canít tourÖ.its a catch 22
situation. Things have built up over the years and now we are a priority
act for CM.
Did any labels in England show any interest in the band?
Yeah, but there arenít really any good international labels based in
the U.K. Earache is, but things never happened with them.
What is next for the band? I understand you'll be coming to the US
again? Any Canadian dates?
We are looking into coming over to the U.S in April / MayÖ.hopefully
there will be Canadian dates in there. Weíve wanted to come over for
many a year; so hopefully we will this time.
After touring, will you be releasing the next album through Century
Media as well and have you thought that far ahead or begun any writing for
The next album will definitely come out on CM, as they have our
contract. We donít even have a single riff for the next album yet!
I leave the closing comments for you...any words for potential
metalheads who might like to check out your band?
Most bands promise killer albums and disappoint. Most bands promise to
lay waste live and just stand there. Weíve got a killer album and we
deliver every time. Go check us out and see what Iím on about!
Stampin' Ground's website: www.stampin-ground.com