Baptized In Blood: Shred-Ready
by Shawn Jam Hill
Party metal, when played with vim, vigor and bona fide talent, can be extremely enjoyable. Whether it’s Municipal Waste giving shout outs to excessive beer consumption or A Life Once Lost’s less cerebral excursions, party metal definitely conjures up the notion of good times and, in those of us with slightly less fortitude, the urge to crack a coupla PBRs becomes unbearably necessary. London, Ontario’s Baptized In Blood are storming the scene with their self titled major label debut (Roadrunner Records) and, if you don’t crack a cold one while banging yer head to one of many metallic anthems on this glossy disc, you may not actually be a metalhead. Metal-Rules.com recently caught up with guitarist Josh Torrance to get a glimpse into what it’s like to go from jamming with your buddies for fun to being courted by the one and only Dave Mustaine. Remember that cheesy flick RockStar from a few years back? Mark Wahlberg ain’t got nothing on Baptized In Blood.
Can you give some background On Baptized In Blood for the Metal Rules faithful?
Josh: In the fall of 2004, there were a bunch of buddies (myself included) playing in different bands around London. We were all just hangin’ out at a bar one night and my friend Mike wanted to start a heavy metal band for fun, like a side project. Johl [Fendley], our singer, he’s a big sports guy. He watches football and hockey but that year there was a hockey strike going on. If they hadn’t gone on strike, he probably wouldn’t even care to be in a band. Johl had never been in a band before and he couldn’t really play much but he said ‘I’ll do vocals’ so we started a fun side project kind of thing and I think that’s kinda what attracted people to us ‘cause we just didn’t care about much, especially with the music that we were writing. There was no structure to it or any formula, it was just go crazy and have fun.
Now you guys are a streamlined machine, right?
Josh: Yes, it has definitely changed since then.
Did you guys consciously decide to make it more serious?
Josh: It’s always been a dream to play in a band and make it a career so once we started playing, we always had a good turnout at all of our shows and that caught our attention that maybe we were doing something really cool. That was the point where it took a turn for the more serious.
Are you guys the same core of dudes, the same band I saw back in March 2010?
Josh: We have a new drummer now.
I noticed on the new record Jason Longo played drums but the picture on the booklet is just you 4 guys. What happened there?
Josh: That was our friend Jay who recorded the record for us. We didn’t have a drummer at the time and we had all the songs written so he came in, went down to the studio with us and recorded with us and did the Fear Factory tour after that with us but now we have a new drummer, Steve Bolognese. He’s awesome, he’s the right guy to be playing with us now.
You guys must have some solid tour plans laid out for the coming year.
Josh: We’re trying to work that out right now but I don’t know if I’m supposed to be saying what those plans are right now. We’re touring through the States and Canada for a month at the end of January and we’re gonna try to get over to Europe in June. That would be our first time overseas and it would be pretty fuckin’ awesome!
You guys would go over well in Europe! I’ve been spinning the new record and I can tell it’s a bit of a beast.
Josh: Yeah, the songs on the new record area little darker sounding I guess.
What was it like working down in Massachusetts with [acclaimed production guru] Zeuss?
Josh: Amazing. It was a first time experience for us to go to a studio and work for a month straight and actually just focus on a record. When you are at home writing and everyone’s working their day job, when can you find the time to get in the studio? It was cool this time, Zeuss really worked us hard. We’d wake up in the morning and go to the studio for 15 hours. That’s all we did.
Did you feel any pressure?
Josh: We had all the songs worked out but it got a little hectic towards the end. We had a set date where we were supposed to go home but we ended up staying an extra day just to finish up some things.
Did you guys do a lot of multiple guitar tracks?
Josh: It’s really basic: One rhythm track for me, one rhythm track for Nick [Bertelsen, guitars] and then the lead tracks on top of that. It’s really stripped down and raw but the recording is amazing quality.
Did Zeuss push you guys in a certain direction or did he just let you do your own thing?
Josh: He definitely had his opinions on a few songs and we’ve never had someone who’s done that with us before. He’s recorded Hatebreed and Shadows Fall and Municipal Waste so we were like ‘Alright, let’s try his ideas out’. Most of the time it worked out for the better. He made suggestions for arrangements and song structures and trying to really emphasize a chorus, that type of thing. Zeuss’ mentality was ‘Cut the fat, get to the point and just drive it into people’s heads’ so that’s what we did and it turned out awesome.
What kind of response did Baptized get opening for the legendary Fear Factory?
Josh: We actually had an awesome response from the crowd. I read a bunch of reviews after the shows and people had some good things to say about us which is flattering. Divine Heresy, Dino from Fear Factory’s other band, play super fast stuff and After The Burial are one of my favorite bands right now were both on the bill. It makes you try not to get hammered before you play!
How did the almighty Dave Mustaine get involved with Baptized In Blood?
Josh: We played the Heavy MTL show as part of the Fear Factory tour in Montreal and Megadeth played on the same day as us. We didn’t get to meet Dave or any of the other guys that day but, about a week later, Megadeth were coming through London and we were back home then so Rose from our record label took our singer Johl to the show and introduced him to Dave and the rest of the guys in Megadeth. She gave them a copy of our new CD, they hung out and talked for a bit and Dave said ‘Who knows, maybe our paths will cross again someday.’ About a week later, we got a phone call saying that Dave Mustaine wants to manage Baptized In Blood. We were like ‘What? Is this for real?’ and it turns out Dave and his manager wanted to co-manage Baptized. It kinda blindsided us out out of nowhere but obviously no one’s gonna turn that down, right?
What kind of help has Dave given you up until this point?
Josh: He’s been doing a lot. He’s getting us some endorsements with our gear and trying to help us out, to mentor us on how to present ourselves to the public and keeping on us about doing online updates all the time, being really interactive with the people who like our band.
Do you have plans to tour with Megadeth?
Josh: Well, we don’t have anything set in stone but he wants to take us out.
You just played the CMJ showcase with Car Bomb and A Life Once Lost in NYC. How did that go?
Josh: We didn’t actually make it to the show. We got shut down at the border. We had papers from the label saying we were playing a showcase, we’re not getting paid. It’s a business trip, basically. They found out the club was charging admission and the guy was being a super dickhead. He pulled up some kind of thing and was like ‘You can’t go down cause they’re charging admission.’ If you’re not getting paid, it violates some kind of slave labour law. They were gonna confiscate all our gear and merch if we didn’t leave right away. The American side gave us a really hard time.
Are you gonna ride the new record pretty hard through 2011?
Josh: Yeah, so far it’s only been released in Canada and I think it’s being released in the rest of the world in January. We need time to get set up in different areas; we’ve only been to the States a few times so we’re just trying to build up more of a presence in different areas before it’s released basically so it doesn’t flop.