It’s probably fair to say that 3 Inches of Blood are one of the most original Metal acts of the past six or seven years. Though they borrow a little bit from here and there, they still manage to have their own transcendent sound. With deadly anthems and a powerful sonic onslaught, they are the purveyors of pure North American Metal. Recently Shane Clark, guitarist extraordinaire, spoke to Metal Rules about their latest opus.
Interview By Alan Gilkeson
What do you feel is different about HERE AWAITS THY DOOM compared to your previous efforts?
Off the top of my head there’s a couple of main differences. One of the main ones is the actual recording process. It was 180 degrees different from the last one. This one you could say was more organic. There’s no click track or drum triggers, or anything like that, which we did on our previous efforts… and the guitar tones, everything was pretty much just a microphone and a recording machine. A lot of our influences are late 70’s early 80’s Metal bands and we really wanted to get that vibe, so I think recording the album this way has a little more of a live feel to it. What you hear on this record you’re going to hear live.
Speaking of guitar tones, do you think you’ve started to develop a bit of your own style, getting your own recognizable tone and style?
I think between Justin and I, and all guitar players, it’s not so much the car, it’s the driver. Him and I have definitely developed our own style of Metal. As far as tone, we pretty much use standard tuning, so our style comes from our hands. If you put Eddie Van Halen on Ted Nugents’s rig it’s still gonna sound like Eddie Van Halen.
This is the first 3 Inches of Blood album not to feature any original members on it. Is that a weird situation?
Not really, because these changes happened very slowly over time and we feel that the band has never been better. It’s a long line of progression for the band and growing. If it ever was worry me I’d just look at some of my favorite bands. There’s no original members in Napalm Death. A lot of those great Deep Purple records were made after there were just crazy line-up changes. It’s all about keeping the spirit of the band, still the band now is a completely different entity than it was when it began.
Are Jamie’s voice problems the only reason he didn’t come back?
Around two years ago, right before the Ozzfest tour, Jamie backed out. At the time he could still sing and perform with us but because of our schedule, where we play everyday for months on end, his voice couldn’t hack that part of it. He would have destroyed his voice. We all have mutual friends, we’re all still bro’s, and I know he sings still, for fun… weekend warrior garage bands in town here, but the main reason is just the schedule we keep. We’re all running at one hundred percent here and his health was more important at the time, and we all understood. Bands don’t last forever but hopefully your voice does.
Is song writing a natural process for you guys or is it something you really have to work at?
It’s very natural. I’ve been writing songs one way or another since I was about eleven. I can’t walk down the street without picking up my steps as a beat and thinking of music. So between Justin and I, writing is really easy. Sometimes the hard part of writing songs is having someone else in the band who isn’t like that. We’ve had past members who want to be involved so much that they can’t see they actually hinder the process… an of course some one wants a piece of the pie. Bands need visionaries, one or two people at least that have a vision for the band. Justin and myself are the type of guys who have that vision and can write songs constantly. I consider ourselves real songwriters but we do get writers block, that’s just a natural human thing. But 98 percent of the time we’re able to write because we’re Metalheads and we like writing Metal songs. We do things that aren’t Metal too, but we’ll save those for another time.
You guys are one of a handful of young bands that have kept traditional Metal relevant, is that your vanguard?
It’s just sort of our vibe. We’re just playing the music that we really love to play. It’s the kind of music that got me excited about Metal in the first place. It’s just a very natural thing for us. Trends come and go, but if you stick to what you enjoy and what you like, you’ll stay happy and live a long time. This band would have never happened if we had a plan to start a traditional Metal band, quit our jobs, hit the road and do this for a living. It was a couple of guys getting together doing music we loved and it sort of snowballed from there.
Do you try to be more true to yourselves or your fans when you write music?
That’s an easy one to answer because when we stay true to ourselves we’re staying true to our fans.
Early on a lot of the press referred to you guys as a Heavy Metal parody band. How do you feel you’ve broken out of that description?
A lot of research points about our band come from Wikipedia and there’s a rather large paragraph about that. It really came about when we first got on to RoadRunner. The musical climate at the time, especially with the Nu-Metal and the stuff with the growly vocal, which is great, I love it, a lot of the singer type Metal bands were gone. When people first heard the band, they heard Cam’s voice and just didn’t know what to make of it. I’m sure there are joke bands that sing high just as a joke. It’s one of those things that gets mentioned but no one pays attention to it. We’re very into what we do. I look at it kind of like Rush. I’m a huge Rush fan. My sister hates Rush because of the vocal. People can have their opinions but if they come and see us play within threes seconds they’ll know we’re not joking. I’ll drop the Wikipedia again. They took a few articles that have that adolescent kind of vibe. If that’s what people want to think than fuck it, they’re not the ones coming to the shows.
Does the criticism ever bother you, especially when writers out of the realm of Metal will give a bad review?
No, we’re all a bit older, in our late 20’s early 30’s and again, it’s just a popularity contest. We look at it as a ying yang thing. You’ve gotta take the good with the bad. If people were just giving us compliments all the time I would think that there’s some sort of insincerity going on. It’s kind of fun to be the underdog sometimes. More often than not we’ll be the underdog on a tour with more popular bands that are kind of the new fad, and we’re not. You can’t let that stuff bother you or you might as well find another profession.
What’s it like being on Century Media compared to RoadRunner?
Century Media is more hands on and they are generally a Metal label where RoadRunner used to be. I don’t want to get into insulting RoadRunner but as far as our band being on Century Media, they are much more interested in further advancing the business aspects of our agreement. Sometimes I wonder why RoadRunner signed us to their label because we were very low priority. They would say they’d do things then they didn’t, which is typical record company folklore. Century Media has done all the things they said they would do. We’re a very hard working band and all we asked of these guys is that they work as hard as we do. We stay on the road. We bust our ass. So far Century Media has busted their ass. Just the fact that you and I are sitting here doing an interview is proof of that. On the other label we’d have a new album out or be on tour but you would never know it.
The album cover on HERE WAITS THY DOOM is very cool, almost Black Sabbath or Black Metal’ish. How’d you come up with that concept.
That came from a brainstorming session with myself and Cam. Our first few albums had sort of traditional Metal covers with warriors and battle gear. We wanted to try something different. We could of had something like a bear fighting a Viking with a winged helmet on but we kind of wanted to go the other way and do a photo, and we kind of went through some our favorite album covers, one being obviously the first Black Sabbath record. Another album by a band named Wishbone Ash called ARGUS has a similar vibe. We weren’t interested in repeating ourselves, since the music on this one is a little different we wanted to have everything a little different across the board. All Metal bands do these paintings of fantastical things. We wanted something a little different.
Your songs are so powerful and heavy that they must sound fantastic live. What’s it like when the vision you had in the recording studio comes to life in front of a crowd?
It’s an amazing feeling. It’s like a natural high. You get that very basic human feeling of acceptance. You put your heart and soul into this and when people react to it at a show, you feel like you’ve done your job. It’s nothing that I would ever take for granted. We all kind of feel like this is why we’re on this planet, to make people happy and forget about their lives for an hour. So it’s great.
Do you remember the first time that you felt like you really created something genius?
I do remember, where I felt I was really onto something, but this is when I was a teenager. Once in a while, as an artist, you have creative stepping stones. Sometimes it’s like, ‘Holy Shit! I wasn’t able to do that before!’ You grow as a musician. Sometimes you walk into room with four other people and create an amazing song… but I definitely remember that first moment.
Does the band write songs together or is it more the efforts of one or two people?
It’s one or two people, me and Justin. I have a little home studio where Justin and I will work and we basically put the songs together for the other guys, than Cam puts his lyrics on top of that. We’ve got a nice Method to our madness.