With James Harvey (Bassist)
May 13th 2012 @ the Underworld, Camden
by Paul James
Photography by Andre Purvis
Mix equal parts Motorhead, Discharge, Slayer, Celtic Frost and a slew of other bands and you might just get close to the sound Goatwhore have been producing over the last few years. With a powerful new release entitled “Blood for The master” and joining Canadian heavy metal warriors 3 Inches of Blood on their long live heavy metal tour, I managed to catch up with James Harvey (Bassist) for a quick chat before show time.
Well firstly thanks for doing the interview with us here at Metal Rules!
James: No Problem!
I guess the first question would be, obviously you’re on tour with 3 Inches of Blood who are friends of the band and you’ve toured with before, across the US – was that last year? Or the year before?
James: Well that was in 2011, that was like spring time –March I think.
I saw a few clips from the tour and it looked pretty awesome, a good indication of what we’re going to hear and see tonight.
James: Right, thanks.
You’ve just released a new album as well “Blood for the Master”.
James: That’s Right, yeah.
I had a listen on the way up to refresh my memory.
It’s sounding really good, definitely a continuation of Carving out the eyes of God – how do you feel it differs from the previous album?
James: Well I think it kind of, some of the elements that were present on carving it kind of expanded upon on – well I don’t know what you’d want to call it, but the kind of thrashier side that you know? We started to go down that path, not really by choice – it’s not like we sat down and said “ok lets write this and that” it’s just how it just comes out with us. There are a little more Intricacies on this album I think, there’s more guitar parts and more solos – and you know, kinda more interesting.
I always thought on the previous album there was more of black metal vibe, where as this album, where I’ve listened through it has more of a standard heavy metal vibe to it – There’s more of those riffs in there instead of as much death metal groove.
James: Right sure, there’s still a fair amount of blasting you know?
Well that’s certainly the way the album opens!
James: You know it’s a basically a mixture of minor chords, more evil black metal sounding shit but still have a heavy metal vibe, so that really what it’s all about.
You’ve had a pretty hectic tour schedule over the last year in lead up to “Blood For The Master”- was most of it written on the road? Or in the studio?
James: Actually none of it was written on the road, we tried that and it doesn’t really work – we basically took 6 months off touring, let me think back – really we took off about 6 months in 2011 and uh, we played a couple of shows here and there but there was no heavy touring while we were writing, we just stayed at home and went up to the practice room everyday and then it was recorded in august.
And that was with Erik Rutan?
And what’s it like working with him?
James: Oh it’s good, it’s good. This was the 3rd album with him and he knows what sound we’re looking for and he works with us and drives us to get the best performances possible, he’s got a good ear – his input compared to someone who would rather record and say “are you happy with that? Ok go ahead.” So you know, it’s definitely good to work with him.
Did he actually have any contribution to the album itself?
James: He did, he did the intro for…I can’t even remember what the fucking song was called! (I believe its Embodiment of this bitter chaos) The whacked out solo, the signature Rutan, if you heard it you would know.
Of course. How would you say the band’s influences have come across on this record? I mean it’s definitely a complex mix.
James: It Is – it’s definitely a mix, we have a pretty wide array of influences but you know there’s the obvious ones like Celtic Frost, Motorhead as a metal or even a rock n’ roll influence goes. You know, I wouldn’t name off any specific black metal or whatever bands but you know that’s an influence. We’re mainly influenced by the classics – Motorhead, Venom, Slayer even.
When I first started listening to the band I got the impression there might have been a crust punk/grindcore influence, stuff like Amebix…various bands.
It’s got that kind of groove, that dirty sound.
James: Yeah, you know the thing is like the “thrash element” and the crusty element, I hate using all these sub divisions – but really they’re closely related. One is just a more polished version of the other.
How is the new material going down at shows on this tour?
James: Fans have been reacting very well – the new material has gone over very well. This will be the second tour that we’ve done for Blood for the master, the first tour was a six week run in the US with Hate Eternal – well part of it was with Dying Fetus. We started to play the new material on that and it was going over really well and then we changed it up a little bit and we’re playing one new song we’ve never before on this tour as well. It’s been going over really well, it’s been good!
Any favourite shows from this tour so far?
James: Ah man, Plymouth last night was really good – the first show in Essen, Germany – was good, they’ve all been good, Plymouth was pretty wild and tonight should definitely be good.
Any wild stories from the backstage?
James: Not so far yet! Just the normal drinking a lot and partying, you know we’re all rolling on the bus , so we load out – drink some then the party continues on the bus until everyone passes out. Well you know you have a bus call at 2am or whatever so you can’t stay out all night and drink in the town, but sometimes you can.
Back to an earlier question, we were talking about general genres and being categorised, I know the band doesn’t like being categorised – as I’ve gathered from previous interviews. But if you had to put terms to Goatwhore’s sound what would you call it?
James: I guess most people say blackened death metal or whatever or something involving black and thrash or you know I just say heavy metal. When people ask me I just say heavy metal, but other people’s or the rest of the world’s perception of heavy metal varies and I’m sure if you asked the 4 members of the band too, I’m sure you’d get 4 similar but different answers anyway.
I can imagine with Ben being in Soilent Green his influences would differ.
James: Well yeah that’s a different channel for him of course.
Does it keep things quite busy between the two bands?
James: Yeah, Soilent haven’t been doing too much recently but they did a European tour sometime, when was that. Last year, yeah last year in April – that I think was the last thing they’ve done. But yeah between the two most of his time has been taken up with Goatwhore recently so, and the other guys in Soilent Green obviously in Eyehategod, Crowbar etc.
Of course, any particular songs you’re particularly fond of playing live?
James: Let’s see the new stuff – I enjoy playing the new songs just because it’s something new. I definitely like playing In deathless tradition, An end to nothing that’s a cool song to play just because it’s so fast and you know there’s a lot of songs I love to play, I love to play a lot of the older material too but we’re not going to do much of that tonight, mainly because we only have a certain amount of time and we want to push the new stuff.
Any surprises for tonight’s set?
James: Not really, just a lot of new songs! We’re just gonna get up there and strip down, say not strip down literally! But play a stripped down show. (Laughs)
Some heavy, heavy tunes!
James: Yeah man tonight should be good; we played here in 2009 with Toxic Holocaust and Skeletonwitch, that was one of the better shows of that tour.
Any stories from that tour?
James: Ah man, that was a cold tour! We were in two vans and we had a lot of alcohol on that tour, we had bottles and bottles it was just ridiculous – there were some pretty wild nights on that tour it was fun because we are friends with both those bands and it’s like 20 friends hanging out every night, similar to how it is on this tour – it’s certainly more fun that way!
Well this tour is certainly one of the more thrashy line ups we’ve seen in a while at the underworld, before we wrap things up here, is there anything you’d like to say to the fans?
James: We hope to see you at the shows! See you on the road.
Well thanks for doing the Interview with Metal Rules tonight!
James: No problem, Cheers guys!