Interviewer: Danny Draper
Photos: Altercarnated Photography
On a cold winter night in London we managed to meet up with new Metal Band members ‘Talanas’.
Hal Sinden – vocals, guitar
Ewan Parry – guitar
Mark Duffy – bass
Joe Butterworth – drums
Formed by two previous members of the successful band ‘Interlock’ (anticulture records), one of the UK’s more innovative metal acts to date, these guys are now ready with their new project ‘Talanas’.
Recruiting Ewan Parry of Sredni Vashtar on guitar, Mark Duffy on bass and Rick of Akrylic Spike Project on samples & keyboards, the band are writing at central London’s Berry Street Studios.
After just releasing the very successful EP Reason & Abstract which we recently reviewed, we ask the guys what more holds in store for the future…
Hey Guys, how u all doing?
So, what you guys up to at the moment?
Hal: We are still maintaining the promotion of the Ep at the moment, we are also sorting out the first album, not just the writing but also the funding.
Basically we all have ‘day jobs’ but whether we actually get any work done is another matter, as we are all concentrating on the band!
So…what happened with the voting on the Damnation Festival?
(Voting was closed after suspected manipulation of the voting system)
Hal: Ahaha…see someone has done their research!
Yeh, that was something of a cluster fuck…I think the word on everyone’s lips is farce.
The voting is now over, in the sense of the public being able to vote, they had to do damage control on the vote and move it to the forum, it’s a method they use which isn’t perfect but it’s the one they have chosen to use.
We decided to maintain a professional silence, simply because the discussion is still centering around one forum. We didn’t want to weigh in with our official line on the matter, than all that’s going to happen is people are going to say its all bullshit, there has been some bad & wrong stuff said that I know myself & the rest of the band don’t feel good about. If it makes certain ppl or other bands feel better about their situation ok, my biggest concern is that we only just released our EP, we are a new band and kicking off with something so bad, is kind of pretty bad & not ideal.
We are blessed as everyone seems to be coming up to us saying how much they love our new stuff, which is fantastic. We can’t control what people do with regards to supporting us, my biggest complaint regards to all this voting is that, if a supporter of a band runs with an idea we are powerless to stop it. I fended off many offers from fans who genuinely support our band who discovered they can cast multiple votes. Apart from saying please don’t, it cheapens the vote & we don’t think its right.
So you guys would rather win on Merit right?
To win through an honest voting system proves the true worth of the band.
There is no way the four of us…with our day jobs could have mastered over 8000 votes! Is a simple case of logic.
The single dispute I have a problem with at the moment is….
Hal:’The fucking pope!’ Ahahah No, it’s basically a lot of the bands & supporters is…who started it?…and that bugs me.
We were watching the results, refreshing the page & it was almost like watching a football game! There were defo problems there & I don’t want to into the ‘whole started it but all of the other bands will say we are just responding to a bad situation and I do want to go onto record to state that I don’t actually have any problem with any of the other three bands. The fact of the matter is, when u look onto these bands other pages the people who are all discussing this problem aren’t even in the bands themselves, infact the members in the bands responded on the page saying it does just cheapens the vote.
Yeh, you cant control the public:
Well, I cant blame any of the bands for this as they did agree its going to cheapen the votes & in consequence we are going to get kicked out of the running.
So, how are you guys doing in the forum votes? Its finishes at midnight tonight..right?
Mark: Yeh it finishes at midnight tonight, the votes are coming in and its all really positive comments!
Some funny ones too, especially about a ‘Talanas Burger’ ahahaha was really odd but yeh…its all really positive.
Hal: Yeh when I saw the voting today, I have to say it was all really pleasing and a lot more realistic.
I think the only real fair way of doing the voting would be to set up some kind of system where you actually register your vote, putting in your festival ticket number or name details etc…one vote per person.
Then you can ensure the festivals goers will be voting for the band they want to see play and that cant be counterfeited.
But I have had people contact me saying they are unable to vote due to the forums rules of membership.
Ewan: Yeh they had to come up with a solution within a matter of hours.
Hal: I contacted the organiser of Damnation, who have been great & had to act with some form of responsibility. I emailed in the night, when this all kicked off & by morning there was already a solution, so far credit to them!
Ok moving on…
We’ve reviewed your EP ‘Reason and Abstract’, how are you finding the reception for it?
Joe: My wife loves it! Ahahaha
Yeh its going down really well, we getting more praise than we thought we would.
When we first set up for doing this, we did kind of shit…is it going to work?
Hal: I remember the first response we had, was from our last record label which was very detailed, but we wanted to know what someone thought! Panicking & worrying thinking OMG what will they think? It’s the most worrying thing because it’s the first release!
It was nerve wracking but really, the response that’s come out I really didn’t expect it, its really worked out nicely and people have been really bloody lovely about this.
But then you realise Shit…we’ve got to keep this going & that is nerve wrecking again as this is just the EP as we’ve got to write an album yet!
We’ve pleased a lot of people with only three tracks, so times that amount of tracks x4 which is roughly what we are looking for, content wise on the album. The law of average then states a fair amount of people may not like some of it and the whole initial success/curse, without being negative about it you get used to people saying its really good but then we could get to the album & it could kick us in the nuts with people saying…it o…k.
Then we will go nooooo sorry, we will remix Ahahahah!
Your style of music is quite grand & while having influences, it has its very own character…
Hal: Grand!! AHHAHAHAHAHAHAH. I like that…
… Did this sound come from somewhere in particular or was it a clooective of influences and styles that grew from working hard on yourselves as musicians?
Hal: it came from a wardrobe… that was very grand
A Dark Room
Hal The throne room! HAHA! Where’d it come from Ewan?
Ewan: Um *sigh*
Joe: his laptop.
Hal: You grand Bastard!!! HAHAHA
Ewan: I think when you’re writing something, I don’t nessesaryly think, Oh I want it to sound like this band or that other band. I’m just trying to write something that I like. But I think that you’re influences just build up over the years. Someone sort of said, it’s a really prententious quote, “When I want to read a great novel, I write one”. I quite like that philosphopy. I want to hear this kind of music so I’m going to write it.
It’s quite a vast selection of influences, I’ve always had a diverse taste in music. Yeah, I really like Grand stuff, big sounding stuff. There’s an element of that and theres also a element of more raw sounding…
Hal: We don’t write music for poor people! HAHAHAHA. Theres certainly a buzz word at the moment, if not within Metal then certainly within authentic culture is to refer to something as epic. To say that it’s grand is an interesting point. When Joe and I formed this, it sounded a certain way, I was listening to certain things and Ewan joined, being honest he brought in a lot of factors I’d forgotten about. And when he and I write the baulk of the tracks we tend to musically interchange ideas. And then we bring it to Joe and Duffy, and they’ll add their particular bits over what we’ve programmed and make it comepletely his own! The grand thing is a lot of the influences that Ewan has brought to the table are sort of Grandiose. You know we’re not a band that’s all about saying “We’re a band for the people” and we’re “Keeping it real”. We know that this is performance, this is entertainment. I don’t like the whole, “We’re going to put the mirror up to the meat and two veg and show you how bland your life is”. I’ll leave that to Grindcore bands. I love grindcore by the way!
It’s rather more about what you output musically than how you look…
Completely, absolutely. The point of entertainment is there has to be some sort of degree of escapism. The amount of escapism that you provide will give an element of people saying “Oh, that’s quite Grandiose”. I’m well into knitting a good yarn and telling a story. It’s not so much, come gather around and I’ll tell you a tale. It’s more along the lines of, I’m not going to write about breakfast! But I’m mean if that seems grand then that’s quite cool.
Are you guys into the the UK Metal scene in London and in and around the UK? Are you into it have you been listening to any at all?
Joe: We’ll the scene around where me and Ewan are is a lot of Biker bands and the occasional screamy band.
Ewan: Yeah, Winchesters kind of and Indie band town.
Duffy: All Wokings got is yobs…
Hal: And you!
Duffy: Yeah me, fighting them. Single handedly!
Hal: People get into Metal lots of different ways and I think people tend to polarize at a certain age with what they’re getting into. There are some people that are for the rest of their life saying “I want to discover new music all the bloody time”, which is massively admirable. But I do think a lot of people tend to reach critical mass and go “I’m into what I’m into, that’s it”. I cut my teeth on the UK DM scene in the nineties. I started off in Tech-Death bands. But its what you used to refer to as the UK DM scene and the bands from the time, that’s what I tend to refer to as the nineties scene. Now its completely different. You’ll turn up to a soundcheck and the guy going on before you was probably born when you had your first wank! I’m insistant that the scene that exists now is nowhere near as solid and community based as it was back in the Red Eye days with the UK DM scene. It’s different, I’m not a part of the Neo-Thrash thing. I don’t get it, it’s not for me. If people are enjoying it and there is an amount of solidarity in it and it provides something for people then fantastic. But I feel very distant from it. Like in the nineties with the UK DM scene, there was Nu-Metal and then there was music!
What were the last albums or EP’s that you last bought/downloaded and listened to that you were impressed with?
Hal: Does it have to be metal?
Anything you like…
Mark: If it’s me, then I’ll listen to anything. Randomly the last thing I actually purchased was the Avenged Sevenfold album.
Ewan: The last thing I Giant Squid, I don’t know how you pronounce it, The Ichthyologist. Yeah I really like it and it’s got a really great, I don’t know how to describe it. It’s like Neurosis meets Godspeed meets Mastodon. It’s a perfect mix of those things but it sounds new. I was expecting it to be a real slog, because I’d heard a couple of tracks and I though it would be difficult to get into but it really wasn’t and really holds it all together well.
Hal: It’s a slow burner as well.
Ewan: Yeah, I liked it on first listen, but the more I listened to it, the more I realised it was very well written.
Joe: I’m trying to think of the last CD I bought, it was so long ago. My mate gave me a Coffin album (Sacrifice to Evil Spirit) that was really good. I liked it, it was good!
Joe: It was really horrible and dirty. The kind of thing I’d be doing if
Hal: I have to hold my hands up and say that I haven’t bought any metal recently. The last stuff I bought was the last Eden House album which is just stunning. Thomas Feiner & Anywhen’s The Opiates is probably one of the most engaging and enthralling things I’ve heard in a long while. The other thing is Burial – Untrue which is very odd, hugely melancholica dark dubstep. Some Bat for Lashes funnily enough. Metal wise I’m kind of immersing my self in a lot of Annallnathrak, I’ve listened to it, I haven’t bought their most recent one. Incredibly impressed to see how a bunch of guys can release two albums that I thought “You can’t better it” and then they did!
What is the news with your album The Waspkeeper? Is it in the work?
The weirdest thing about the album is that it took us so fucking long to get this EP out. We’d written parts of the album way before the EP was release, so it’s been going on for a while now and there’s certainly a progression. We had these three songs on the EP which worked very well. And I think it was valuable to do a cross section like that. People may think that we would do only one direction for the album, but it’s not. We keep writing songs that we say “What? Is this what we’re doing? Ok, cool!”. There are some tunes on there that, if we really didn’t like them we’d be going “Oh we can’t do that” not like we’re doing a Ska song, but its more like theres a lot of clean stuff on it. Clean singing, clean guitar. Ewan and I both like Fields of the Nephilim.
Mark: I was going to say that earlier. That was the first band we all sort of said we all really liked.
Ewan: You were saying about clichés of the next album and stuff. In a similar sense of bands saying it’s going to be heavier, there are a lot of sounds and aspects that people haven’t heard yet on the EP.
Hal: And I think also vocally theres going to be an interesting approach to it. Some of the stuff we’ve been recording I’ve been hearing back and saying “I really didn’t expect that at all” About the EP some people are saying the singing sounds Schizophrenic and all over the place. Other people were saying I can’t believe how you can sing and then do that. It’s not like I’m the first person to sing and scream at the same time.
Ewan: A lot of the bands that do the death vocals and the singing basically switch between the two styles. It’s like here’s the death vocal sound and here’s the clean vocal sound and that’s it. Whereas I think on our stuff, there’s a whole range of vocal styles. Like “Do the shouty one or uh…”
Hal: “DO THE SHOUTY ONE!”
Ewan: Or the epic one!
Mark: Could you make it a bit more
Are you going to get a lot of support from your label for your album release and future stuff or is it a more hands on thing with you guys getting out there, spreading the word and doing things off your own back?
Hal: One and the same. It depends which way you present it. I run Eulogy Media with Nathanal Underwood. It’s a multi-perspective sort of thing. There are some people still in the industry and this is punters and press aswell, who seem to need a band signed to a record label for the band to seem professional. So to that extent I’m not running around going “The word is us, that’s it”. I’m perfectly happy to say that in an interview because it’s screamingly obvious. We’re an independent and self released label. But, for someone who, shall we say, won’t even open your envelope unless it’s got a sticker of a label on it. And if people want to call it that, they can call it that. That’s fine, that’s why I set it up. We haven’t released it under Talanas Recordings, we’ve released the EP under Eulogy Media. Because to be perfectly frank from a business and music industry perspective, it’s a fully functional, fully fledged record label. But it’s actually us. And the weirdest thing is that we’ve turned down offers from other labels and I don’t mean Bob Scratch-it’s Fun Recordings of Metal Doom! We’ve actually turned down some offers from some people who when I was nineteen I would have printed out the email, stuck it on my wall and tossed myself off to it five times a day!
Hal: we’ve turned these things down because we’ve agreed amongst ourselves that they’ve got to do as much as we do or better. Right now, as far as the label is concerned we’ve just released an EP, we have worldwide physical distribution. We’ve shipped out to three continents, America, Europe, Austrailia. Shipping out to Scandinavia… and the rest is digitally distributed everywhere. But the difference is, that a lot of first deals, from having been in that position, is that you don’t get that. Now the difference is, in saying that will we get support from the label, is that because it is us that’s doing all the work, no we don’t have a lot of money. That’s going to be the stumbling block. Yes, we’ve had a lot of response and yes we’ve had good sales, but it isn’t enough to fund all the things that we want to do. It will take a lot to get Talanas to surrender the rights to the next recording. And that’s because is it genuinely realistic to expect an artist to surrender their rights, given what’s at stake for a couple of grand? Not really.
What are you looking at in terms of gigging and touring, end of this year and next year?
Joe: well, we’re kind of set to record straight after Christmas.
Hal: Well, technically you are!
Hal: Well, we’re in pre production now and elements of the album will be recorded from now up until Christmas. And we hope to finish recording in time just after the new year. That being the case, this whole Damnation thing came up out of the blue. We were incredibly pleased with it but to be honest, we were offered it. But it caused a bit of a ruction between us as we’d sort of decieded that we weren’t going to be gigging this year. Because the gig we did in 2009 was fucking great! We had a huge stage and a great response, lets do it again. And then to decide to do a year without gigging is a hell of a thing to do. But the importance is to follow up the momentum of the album so I thought, do we take a year out to practice the live set, or do we take time out to write the new stuff? However, come 2011, different story. I think we learnt out lesson with Interlock, as we’d plugged away and toured away for years. And I think the biggest mistake we made was going out and touring as a headline band, whatever people may say of how popular it was. A mid level band shouldn’t headline. You sit around and think are people going to turn up? We decided that if we’re going to tour, its going to be in the highest main support to someone we really like. And that’s a huge amount of finance needed and that’s what we need to do. And I’ve spoken to lots of friends who have been in established bands for a long amount of time, who all have this concurrent thing which is that, being a band in music is great, gigging and touring fucking sucks. Put it this way, I’m not going to play a gig that doesn’t make a minimum tax back. And that sounds really Nazi and stupid, but when you look at it, I want people who experience Talanas to hear it for what it’s worth, not to hear it for what the venue think they’re capable of. If it’s a substandard P.A. the audience aren’t going to enjoy themselves and be met with a wall of white noise. And that’s not what we’re about. So we will gig if we can afford it and if its practical we will tour. But I’m not going to play the Dog and Firkin… or the Frog and Firkin…
The Fox and Firkin…
Hal: Well there is and F in there. The Fist Fuck and Firkin!
Well that’s the end of my questions, thank you! Would you like to add anything more for the readers of Metal-rules.com?
Anything in particular…
Hal: If its prog, it doesn’t mean you have to fold your arms.
Mark: But you can stroke your beard!
Is there any questions that you’d like us to ask.
You ask me and I’ll then ask you…
Hal: You could ask us if there are any ways in which people could help with the album?
Are there any ways in which people could help with the album?!
Hal: Well that’s a very good question!
Hal: To help us be more Grandiose!
Hal: Given the fact that we are metalers, and sticking to our guns and doing this ourselves and releasing, it still means that support is needed. Every band in the world will say that they rely on the support of our fans. We will be completely honest and say, recording an album is really really really really really expensive and we don’t have enough money to record it completely in one go ourselves. We’re not saying to people to start sending us really random amounts of money. But the very least that can be done is that if someone wants to hear more, go to the website, check out what we’re doing. There will be points were we will need active support to do it and it’s not just a slap on the back. There are bands out there that I’ve spoken to that think once you’re signed to a label that’s it and it’s absolutely sorted, that’s not the case at all. We’re very much facing that at the moment. And it’s no easier than it was, ten or fifteen years ago. So basically what we could do with is people being active about this. Not a lot of people buy CD’s anymore, but we need people to buy CD’s in order to afford the album. The big thing I do want to say about it is that if anyone wants to make a difference to help the album come about is that yes, the EP is available to online to buy. The biggest way that anyone could help right now is to buy a physical copy of the CD. You can go on the myspace and listen to the tunes and even download it illegally…
Joe: But don’t!
Hal: But if you buy a physical copy it means that we directly receive every single penny.
Joe: Even if it means coming up to us in a pub. We all have three or four copies on us. If you want to come up and thrust a fiver in our face, we’ll give you a CD.
Hal: But that money will go straight into a bank account and going straight into the next thing that needs to be paid for to be able to record the album. It’s not to pay for anything else like new broomsticks or swimming pools.
Ewan: I would love a nice new broom stick.
Mark: If you buy the EP, you will have collectively tributed to one bar of Joe going mad on the kit!
So they’ll be a lot of credits on the album!
Hal: Funny you should say that, but its something that we’re looking towards doing. We want people to be active into this and its not just us not using the money from our day jobs, as we have spent thousands of pounds to get to this point. The studio we’re doing this interview in right now costs us hundreds of pounds every month and we pay it. And we use it to its limits. We start here at 6pm and we finish at 9am every Friday. We pack it in.
Ewan: We don’t have lives!
Hal: Literally! We not asking for money for free, we’re offering a product. But what we’re looking into is that if people want to pledge an amount of money as a donation or something, we’ll give something back. We’ve come up with this idea of the Waspkeeper Book, which is a leather bound book that we will personally hand write the entire album and we mean lyrics and notation fully. And hand paste photographs from the making of it and everything like that if people are prepared to pledge a certain amount of money towards the album. Because we want to give something back for something given. But it boils down to that we’re doing it and if someone wants to help, that’s fantastic.
Well thanks guys, if we didn’t already have the EP we’d most definitely buy it!
You can see more on Talanas…& get their EP at http://www.talanas.org/