3 Inches of Blood – Guitarist Shane Clark

November 16th, 2007
by Lord of the Wasteland

Guitarist Shane Clark

***Interview & All Live Photos By Lord of The Wasteland

***Transcription By Duke


When the band first got together to write the new album, FIRE UP THE BLADES, there was only Cam [Pipes, vocals] and Jamie [Hooper, vocals] remaining from the recording lineup of your last album, ADVANCE AND VANQUISH.  Were there any concerns that the sound of 3 Inches of Blood would be a lot different with four different people writing?

We knew it would be a little different, but there wasn’t much concern. Justin [Hagberg, guitar] and I had joined about two weeks after ADVANCE AND VANQUISH was released.  He and I had toured for that record exclusively.  We had done a couple of years of touring for that, so we definitely had the whole vibe down. But what we didn’t want to do was ADVANCE AND VANQUISH part two. So we dived into our straight-up metal influences and added Cam and Jamie’s thing to it to get the 3 Inches sound to it, the dual vocal dynamic. We just wanted to up the ante. ADVANCE AND VANQUISH is a great album but we wanted to be a bit less monotonous. I think this album has more peaks and valleys.  It dives into more heaviness in parts and then it actually gets a little more rocking in other spots and everything in between. To answer your original question, we went into it very confidently to do something new for the band and keep the 3 Inches sound but still do something new.

FIRE UP THE BLADES – 2007

There’s definitely a greater focus on guitars on the new album, in my opinion. Is this because you and Justin are better players than the guys that were in the band before or was it a conscious effort to write better riffs and solos?

That’s an easy question to answer: I would never say that we’re better guitar players than those guys, just very different. Both Justin and I have backgrounds from very riff-oriented metal bands. That’s just our style. That the new songs are more riff-oriented, that’s just our influences on the band.

Do you guys share the leads on the new CD?

We do. I do most of them but Justin does a really great one on “The Great Hall of Feasting,” which is a killer song and a killer solo. I think a solo is kind of a song within a song. I handle most of them on this album but that’s just the way it worked out. Justin is a great lead player who has his own style.  We just decided when writing the songs whose style would fit better. This time around I did most of the leads, but we both do rhythm and lead.

You mentioned that you guys tried a lot of different things. Is that a Hammond B3 organ on “Trial of Champions”?

Yeah.

Is that something you’ll use again in the future or was it just a cool thing to add to that song?

We may use that in the future. We haven’t started writing for the next one but Justin is a very good keyboard player and we’re huge Uriah Heep and Deep Purple fans, so when we were experimenting in the studio it wasn’t really a novelty thing that we wanted to try but we had just been listening to ”Easy Livin´” by Uriah Heep and we had access to the Hammond. We actually used a Leslie rotating speaker on that as well so we were just kids in a candy store with all that gear. That was when we were just finishing up the record in Seattle and decided that it fit so well that we couldn’t afford to leave that off.  We loved the sound of it.

It’s definitely a cool addition to the song.

There’s actually some grand piano on “God of The Cold White Silence.”

Yeah, it’s not really obvious but you can definitely hear it.

It’s mellow but has a bit of the black metal feel to it.

A lot of people were really shocked to hear that Slipknot drummer, Joey Jordison, was going to produce FIRE UP THE BLADES, not just because Slipknot´s music is so different from yours but because he hadn’t done any production before. What did he bring to the table as a producer?

He´s the kinda guy who has been around the block in the music industry twenty more times than us. We had met him a few years ago when we did a tour with a Norwegian black metal band called Satyricon in 2004. We met him and found out that he had been a fan since the beginning. So when it was time to find a producer and we had told Roadrunner that we were ready to do a new record, he got word really early because Slipknot are on the same label. We had some phone conversations and the band decided that we should try to do some demos together and we did that with Jack Endino, who’s a legend in his own right.

He did albums for Nirvana [BLEACH and INCESTICIDE] and Soundgarden [SCREAMING LIFE] and the new High On Fire CD, too.

Oh yeah, he did all those bands. Anyway, the demos turned out great so we decided to do the record together. The reason we decided to do it together was… for one thing, Joey and I are the same age. Everyone’s kind of late twenties, early thirties in the band so we very much saw eye to eye with musical influences and stuff and he didn’t have any ulterior motive to make it his production and make it sound like something that the band is not. He knew that the vision for this album was to do the most metal record that the band has ever done. He helped us focus when we were writing and arranging with a lineup that had never written together and in the studio he helped with individual performances and pumping everybody up. He’s a walking ball of enthusiasm that guy. Having done that, it was really just a very positive atmosphere recording with that guy. His help from start to finish helped make the album what it is and the band and Joey are very happy with the results.

Was Joey’s own experience being in the studio as a musician and not behind the desk a help, as well?

Absolutely, though he’s more of a producer than people know because he’s actually done a lot of producing for Slipknot records. And Roadrunner put out this thing called ROADRUNNER UNITED and it has three or four songs that he produced. So he wasn’t just flying blind even though this was the first official record that he did. He’s a world-renowned drummer and he’s actually a great guitar player as well. He had the know-how to really push Alexei´s [Rodriguez] drums. Having a guy like that around would definitely make me play better. That’s like having Kerry King look at me and going, ”Yeah, you should play that riff!” But to answer your question, yeah, that was a big help too, his enthusiasm and know-how from that end of the spectrum was really helpful, too.

The two newest members of the band are Alexei Rodriguez on drums and bass player Nick Cates.  How did they join the band? I haven’t seen too much about exactly where they came from.

Both those guys joined pretty much the way Justin and I joined. There was a very small window of opportunity to replace some guys who basically couldn’t tour. This is a touring band first and foremost and if you can’t tour, you’re going to have to quit or be fired. I mean, no one has been fired from the band.  Basically we had two weeks when our drummer Matt [Wood]—the guy who gave me the heads-up for the gig in the first place and we’re still good friends—Matt let us know that he wouldn’t be able to tour anymore when we already had some tours booked. So we had this two week window for Alexei or any drummer to audition. Ironically our old bass player Brian [Redman] had played with Alexei in a previous band. Alexei was the first and last guy to audition. He learned all of the set that we were doing in a week, came out, knew all the songs, we hit the road and been on the road since then. Up until recording the record, of course. So that happened very smoothly. And he’s a world renowned drummer too,  he was the missing piece of the puzzle basically. He’s a very metal drummer whereas the guy before, Matt, his style was a lot different, a little more laid back and a little more rock. We needed that metal injection for lack of a crappier cliché!

What happened with Nick joining the band was that right before recording the record, Brian felt the same way. Being in a touring band like we are, you don’t really have a life. Brian wanted to have a house, get a dog, get married, walk his dog around and have a job. That’s great for him. We happened to know a guy who was interested in jamming through a friend of mine in Oakland, California. Nick was this other guy we hadn’t really met, and my buddy came out and had a jam, then Nick came out and jammed and his style lent itself a little more to the band than my buddy. Nick again is the final piece of the puzzle. Everybody wants to be in the band now, no one has any plans to stop doing this. This is our career.  We basically just want to see how far we can take it, how long we can tour and how long we can make records. If this was a money issue, we would all still have the jobs we had in the first place. We feel that we were put on this planet to make heavy metal music. So those two additions to the band were key to keeping the band going. They’re killer players, man!

I don’t know how many times I’ve seen 3 Inches of Blood play live in Vancouver with different lineups, going back to 2001, I think, so I’ve seen the band evolve.

I was probably standing next to you! That’s one of those things, it’s very much a different lineup but it’s more like next level stuff. I actually got in an argument with a guy in the bar the other night, I guess he was bummed that his band wasn’t doing well or something, he was like, “The original lineup, man!” He was saying that kind of shit. Changes are made so the band can keep going and get better.

3 Inches of Blood – Live 2004

You guys have a new EP coming out in November.

Yeah, it’s a digital EP.

So it’s just an iTunes thing?

Yeah. The lead track for that is going to be “Trial of Champions”. So as the next tour is coming along, we will release that and I imagine we’re going to do a video for that, hopefully. We’re just looking forward to keeping the momentum going and having a great time. The last summer tours with Ozzfest and all that, the momentum we got going with those tours was amazing, we definitely want to keep that going.

Between September 27th and November 1st, that’s 35 days, you only have two days where the band is not booked to play a show.

Yeah. How are we going to fill those two days, man (laughs)?!

How do you guys keep up with such a ridiculous amount of touring? How do you stay healthy and sane on the road playing that much?

It’s a matter of that hour or that forty minutes or that twenty-five minutes we play every day. That’s the fuel that keeps us from going crazy for the other twenty-three hours of the day. It’s just staying focused and staying away from unhealthy things. Away from the drugs and things all around. Trying to eat right. It’s hard, but as long as you get all your vitamins and get enough sleep, those forty minutes, man, that’s what we live for! Traveling every day and not being able to see your girlfriend, those are sacrifices that you have to make when you have the big picture in mind. I don’t really know, we all go crazy once in a while, there’s a couple of freak-outs here and there but it’s just what we do, I don’t really know how to answer that.

It’s not a normal life.

It’s definitely not for everybody. Every band’s lineup changes is a testament of that.

You have a few Canadian dates lined up before you hook up with the “Operation Annihilation” tour with Shadows Fall, Static-X and Divine Heresy.

Yeah, we’re looking forward to those Canadian shows very much.

No Vancouver date, what’s going on?

Well, our release show was fantastic, probably the best show the band’s ever played in town. We were really happy with that show, we had the chance to do a really killer release show. And by killer, I mean we had a really great time. We’ll probably be doing something else in Vancouver, just at a later date. It was just no venues were available, you know? Kelowna is the closest show, this Thursday, and Fernie is another backwoods show, which is great, then Calgary, up to Winnipeg after that, then… Saskatchewan maybe? But it’s always great doing Canadian shows, man! We’re a Canadian band and I think we did forty shows this summer – ONE Canadian show. We did that one in Toronto and it very much stood out for us. We were doing these northeastern American shows which were great and got great reception but as soon as you get to Canada it was obviously more like being at home but the crowd was absolutely insane. It felt really flattering.  We had almost forgotten what it was like playing in our home country.

Is there any Canadian dates for the Shadows Fall/Static-X tour?

No. As far as we’re concerned, the closest one will be Seattle. That’s actually the last show of the tour. So there’s no Canadian date on that tour. After that tour is done, we’re going to fly to the UK for a week, then it’s Spain. But when we get back we’re going to tour with GWAR and there’s at least two Canadian shows on that. Dates are actually being filled as we speak.

How long are you going to be on stage for on the “Operation Annihilation” shows?

We’re going to have half an hour. We’re looking at six to eight songs depending on which ones we’re going to play. We’re definitely going to switch songs in the set, but it’s going to be great to have more than the twenty-minute Ozzfest shows, which was four songs. I’m not complaining, but after twenty minutes, when you’re getting warmed up, you’re DONE. It’s something to get used to but thirty minutes will be great, man!

How were the Ozzfest shows?

Killer!  It was a big stepping stone in the band’s history. Besides getting so much exposure with tens of thousands of people in just a few months, we made great friends, made contacts and had a great time. It was heavy metal summer camp! I felt like I should have paid them to do that. To be guaranteed to play a show with other great bands and have a tailgate party, it was great, man! Ozzy was only there every other day, but us, Behemoth, Hatebreed and Lamb of God kind of got this camaraderie going on because those were the bands playing shows every day. I almost looked at those “off-dates” as a summer tour and the Ozzfest dates as the off-dates in a way. Those were theater shows. We were playing House of Blues and those kind of places, a bit bigger here and there. We got an equal amount of exposure on those dates. To sum that whole thing up: best tour ever! Best tour for the band, best tour of my life, the best summer of my life probably. I got to crank my amp every day and it was killer.

Did you have any reservations about playing Ozzfest beforehand?

No. Before we knew what was going on about it, a few of us were a bit iffy on the corporate bend on it. But we’ll let those corporate people worry about that shit, we’ll just show up. It was such a stepping stone for the band, playing in front of so many people, it didn’t really matter whose political and corporate agendas were going on because the bottom line is that this was a festival for people to come and enjoy. It was actually free for people so no one cared about that. The history of Ozzfest is kind of a legacy now.  It’s the only metal festival in North America. We were honored to be on that.  It’s a legendary festival.

You almost already answered this, but would you do it again?

Oh yeah, totally!

Jamie had throat problems and was forced to sit out Ozzfest, which must’ve killed him, and the rest of the band, too.

Oh yeah, man! It was weird.

I saw you play on Vancouver—one of the off-dates—and he was there right beside the stage watching. Did he go out on the road with you or did he stay at home?

He had to stay at home to give his vocal chords a rest and had a weekly and bi-weekly checkup thing going on. Don’t quote me on this, but most likely he’s going to sit the rest of the year out because, for lack of a better word, he really fucked up his vocals chords.

Is it just a day-to-day thing caused by the rigors of the road or is it something more serious?

That’s still being assessed. I’ll just give you an idea of what’s going on. Jamie started the band, I think it was in 1999 or 2000, or something like that. His vocal style is that he’s singing from his throat. Most singers sing at sixty decibels, that’s pretty loud. Jamie sings at a hundred and twenty decibels. He’s literally screaming his head off. After seven years of doing that, something just pops. I’m not making light of the situation, he’s really got to figure something out with his team of specialists. If him sitting the rest of the year out means he’ll get better, then we’re one hundred percent behind him. He’s our friend and his health is more important that doing a bunch of shows and not being able to talk when you’re forty-five years old. On the flip side of it, Justin has been taking over a lot of Jamie’s vocal parts, filling in for him. He’s not trying to imitate Jamie, he’s got his own thing going on and he’s a great fill-in. He’s got this Tomas Lindberg thing going on. Jamie’s happy with that. We definitely didn’t want to get some guy to fill in for Jamie, some guy we didn’t know. That would’ve just sucked, we’re a tight-unit band, we’ve been through a lot together since the lineup changes and we’re not taking this whole situation lightly and we’re not going to replace Jamie. So Justin stepping up was great.  I don’t think we could’ve done Ozzfest or anything without Justin doing that. Until Jamie gets better, he’s going to handle it and it sounds good. We’ll just take it as it goes and won’t make any predictions. The power of positive thinking, it helps you.

Is there any talk of a DVD release or a live album?

Yeah, we’re definitely going to do a DVD. I don’t know of a live album, but on these tours that we’re doing since two years ago, I’ve been collecting footage of shows and backstage stuff and everything. I think we’re going to do another album cycle before we start doing a DVD, it’s just to capture everything we’re doing as it happens. The momentum that we have just now is really exciting so we just want to keep doing that and keep the camera rolling. If all this shit comes grinding to a halt, yeah, we’re going to do a DVD, but when we get some down time we can stay at home and go through like a million tapes. It’ll be killer, man! We’re fans of the VULGAR VIDEO-style where it’s all a little more personal, seeing the backstage stuff. We’re not going to be VULGAR VIDEO, which was basically a preface of JACKASS. I don’t think that’s going to be on there, but you’ll see a lot more sides of the band than the live stuff so it’ll be cool.

Any early footage on there from way back when?

No, I don’t know how much of that exists. The DVD will basically showcase the lineup of the last few years. When it comes out it will be sort of a three-year retrospect of FIRE UP THE BLADES and a bit before that probably showcasing what in Deep Purple-speak would be ”Mark III” for the band.

You’ve played live with just about every band in metal today. Considering metal fans are such a fickle bunch, why do you think 3 Inches of Blood’s music appeals to so many fans of different metal subgenres?

I think the appeal to all those different genres is that our influences that shine through very much is the first wave and the New Wave of British Heavy Metal, which in turn influenced every other subgenre. So when we play with a metalcore band or a hardcore band, we have something in common because we play music that came from the same place. If you want to go further, all that shit comes from rock and roll. We stick out but we don’t. We’ve played with death metal bands and we certainly don’t sound like a death metal band but again there’s the thrash influence that created death metal and again the NWOBHM, it all comes back to that. We’re a true… no, not true, that sounds pretentious, but a traditional metal band with influences that shine through. When you see a lineup of a few death metal bands and us, yeah, we stick out, but not that much. The same goes if we play with hardcore bands or even rock bands. We did a tour with a boogie-rock band called Bad Wizard that was killer, too. None of the bands sound like each other but it all kind of fits. I think that’s why, all those influences that we’re carrying on with a new twist of a very old idea.

You mentioned your influences and you very clearly wear them on your sleeve. Does it bother you when the press or people think of you as a ”retro” band rather than being groundbreaking or original?

No one really cares about that. Usually, that’s just critics. People at supermarkets are also critics. That doesn’t bother us.  If we were concerned about that stuff, I don’t think the band would be around. We just do what we do and we never deny our influences. When metal fans tell us, “you guys sound like Maiden or Priest”, hell yeah we do, man! If we deny that kind of shit we would look like douchebags who are self-defensive. We’re a metal band and to imitate is to create when you’re starting out. I can throw you a million things that the new record sounds like. There are HAUNTING THE CHAPEL riffs on there – influenced riffs, I should say. The spectrum of influences is a little bit broader on this record but they’re everywhere. The NWOBHM thing is still alive and well in our sound but there’s also a lot more Bay Area thrash, a little bit of black metal and some seventies metal. I kind of went off on a tangent there, but to answer your question, that kind of shit doesn’t bother us one bit.

3 Inches of Blood actually opened for Iron Maiden last year in California. Were they fans of your music or how did you get the call to open that show?

Bullet For My Valentine was opening up for Iron Maiden on that tour in the States and they couldn’t do that one show. So between our manager and Rod Smallwood, who is Iron Maiden´s manager, and other backroom wheelings and dealings, I don’t know how it happened, but we got the gig. I’ll tell you man, it was like the best gig ever for me! Maiden was the first concert I went to when I was like eleven-years old. That was the full circle kind of correlation that I had. It’s one of those bands where everyone in our band can agree that it’s one of their favorites, definitely one of the kings of metal. So it was an honor to play with them.

Were you standing on stage thinking ”Jesus, I’m opening for Iron Maiden!”?

Yep. Absolutely. And I was just giggling all day. It was awesome, man!

Did you get to meet the band?

I met Bruce Dickinson briefly, just for a split second, hung out with Dave Murray for like five minutes and chatted with him. That was almost better than the show for me. And I spoke with Steve Harris too, but just briefly.

I wanted to talk about your past a bit. I know you were formerly in The Almighty Punchdrunk with Gene Hoglan. What was it like playing with Gene when you were a young guy just starting out?

It was great, man! He’s a guy I’ve listened to since I was in junior high. My old band, Human Resistance Program, shared a jam spot with those guys and then Punchdrunk´s guitar player Cam [Kroetsch] phoned me up out of the blue. I’d never met the guy and they asked me to join and that was that. I ended up being really good friends with those guys and we did some great stuff together. Playing with Gene, the learning curve was really crazy. He is THE world-renowned metal drummer and here I am, a really green local band guy. Just playing with him and Cam, too, just playing with those guys you have to be really, really good, so the learning curve for me was crazy. It really helped my guitar playing and all these years later we’re still good friends and hang out when we can. Gene actually took over my old apartment because I was touring with 3 Inches so much and didn’t come back.

You were in another band called Ten Miles Wide. I knew a bit about Punchdrunk already but I couldn’t find anything about Ten Miles Wide. What kind of band was that?

That was a three-piece doom-slash-Motörhead kind of rock band that I had. I was the singer and we did a bit of local shows. Right around the time the band was fizzling out, I got the 3 Inches gig so I disbanded the band and that’s basically the short history of that. It was kind of a side band for me when I was in Punchdrunk, when Gene was busy I could do something with that band. That’s it.

So that was why I couldn’t find anything!

You can find a little music actually on Myspace.

BATLECRY UNDER A WINTER SUN – 2002

3 Inches of Blood have gone through quite a few members. Sunny Dhak, Bobby Froese and Matt Wood formed Pride Tiger, but what happened to Rich and Geoff Trawick who played on BATTLECRY UNDER A WINTER SUN? I haven’t seen or heard from those guys again. You have any idea?

Well, not many people have. We saw Geoff, the drummer. He came out to the Cradle of Filth show that we did at The Commodore and said hey. But other than that, no one really knows. Jamie and Cam don’t really hang out with those guys and none of the Pride Tiger guys do either, so I think they’re just doing their thing. I think they got jobs and I’m sure they’re still playing music one way or another. It’s just a mystery. We jam with Pride Tiger so we see those guys quite a bit.

I saw Pride Tiger in Langley last year. They were supposed to open for Nashville Pussy with Priestess and when Nashville Pussy bailed, they went on and played anyway.

That was actually pretty impressive.  They’re a pretty cool band. They’ve definitely got more of that Thin Lizzy kind of thing going on. Both bands are huge Thin Lizzy fans, so I think they’re great. Matt´s a great singer.

Yeah, drummer and singer, you don’t see that very often.

I’ve known Matt since I was like ten years old and the first time I saw him, if you told me he would be a singing drummer for a rock band I would have totally laughed in your face. But look at the guy now, he’s killer!

If either Cam or Jamie left the band, would you continue with just one vocalist or does 3 Inches of Blood need two singers?

If Cam or Jamie left?  You know what, I don’t think we would replace either of those guys. If Cam or Jamie lost interest in the band, it would probably be the end of the band. Knowing that they wouldn’t is really good. That’s one of those things I don’t think would happen, but that would probably be time for the band to move on. Cam is irreplaceable alongside with Jamie. I mean, Jamie started the band. If you look at a band like Napalm Death, there are no original members left so I’ll never say never, but today I just say no.

ADVANCE AND VANQUISH – 2004

You joined in September 2004, just after the band signed with Roadrunner.

Yeah, right around the end of September I joined.

In those three years, 3 Inches of Blood has released a pair of acclaimed albums and toured the world. What do you find to be the pros and cons of being in an internationally-known metal band?

I’ll start with the pros, there’s not many cons for me, personally. The pros are: I’ve always wanted to work hard at being a professional musician. In the last ten years of trying to have a job and being a musician I’ve found it’s stifling because I’m busy at work and have a hard time finding time to be a professional musician. You basically can’t do it if you’re stuck with an apartment to pay for and a car, bills and all that shit. I’m doing what I always wanted to do and I speak for everyone else, too. We’re very lucky.  Not many people get the opportunity to do what we’re doing. We’re very far from taking this for granted. I think the cons for all that are nothing. I don’t see any negative things of what we’re doing at all. If I was to complain about all this stuff, I shouldn’t be doing it. Man, I’m not working construction now! There’s just pros to the whole thing. It just blows me away. I went into this music store in England once and this guy goes, “Hey, you’re Shane from 3 Inches!” I just stared at the guy and didn’t know what to say. I mean, England?! That’s one of the amazing things that can go down in this situation we’re in. Aside from being able to play music every day, all these little bonuses are really cool.

Is there any discussion to re-release the first album BATTLECRY UNDER A WINTER SUN?

Yeah, I think that in Canada it’s going to be re-released by Sonic Unyon. That’s still in the works. Probably not going to get re-released in the States any time soon but I think a U.K. label is going to re-release it, too. That’s one of those things that would be cool. It’s going to happen one way or the other.

Why does the band not play any material from BATTLECRY UNDER A WINTER SUN anymore? “Balls of Ice” used to be such a big part of the live set but you don’t play it anymore.

That song was officially retired by Cam. The way that song was written with the original lineup was a bit different, like a five minute long joke. Cam has always been very serious with his lyrics and he just kind of thought that would be carrying on a legacy that is not viable, if that makes any sense to you. Moving on from the past would be another way of looking at it. But we do play some old songs, we play “Ride Darkhorse, Ride” quite often and “Destroy The Orcs.” We might start playing “Onward To Valhalla” from the demo [SECT OF THE WHITE WORM, 2001] just to do something cool. Basically the last few years we’ve had very little time to play and to give the fans something new. Especially in Canada where the band toured for years before I was in the band. You can either hear some old songs for the fifteenth time or hear a couple of new ones for the first or second time within our 20-25 minutes of playing. I’m not saying that we’ll never play those songs, just not now. It’s just the way it’s been going.

SECT OF THE WHITE WORM Demo – 2001

I’ve seen Cam and Jamie both say “Extol the necro wizard” in several interviews but what does that mean?

That’s actually a secret phrase from our vocabulary. If I told you what that is all about, I would have to hunt you down. And I would have to extol…no, I can’t let that cat out of the bag (laughs).

Any last words for your fans and Metal-Rules.com readers?

I would definitely want to thank our fans who read our stuff and listen to our stuff and come to our shows, thank you very much for the support.


***Thanks to Dean at Roadrunner Records Canada  for setting up the interview.

3 Inches of Blood—Official Site

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