Truth Corroded’s Greg Shaw & Jason North – Interview
By Kirsty Birkett-Stubbs
Hotter property than their native land, Australian thrash contenders Truth Corroded continue to score big with their latest release ‘Worship the Bled’. Prying below the surface of this juggernaut, bassist Greg Shaw, and vocalist Jason North tell the whole truth, and nothing but…
For those who are unfamiliar with the band, just who are Truth Corroded?
Greg Shaw – TRUTH CORRODED reformed as a five piece thrash metal band in 2003, releasing the bands first album featuring the new line up in 2005. Since then the band has under gone several line up changes, but the core of the band is Mark Lennard on guitar (the founding member), Greg Shaw on bass and Jason North on vocals. We have released three albums since 2005, with Our Enemy Is The Weapon, Upon The Warlords Crawl in 2008 and Worship The Bled in 2011.
Presently the band only features two original members, Jason and myself, with three new members, Wayne Batters on guitar and Chris Walden on lead who joined Nov / Dec 2010, and the newest member Kieren Murray on drums. Mark continues to be a band member, but in a non live performance role for the present.
I think the best description to sum up Truth Corroded is extreme thrash.
Being an Australian band born and bred, what do you think of the country’s current music scene?
Greg – I think the Australian heavy music scene has some positive and negative aspects to its present state. It is encouraging to see bands such as Psycroptic and The Amenta raise the profile of what Australia has to offer in the European and U.S heavy music market. Both bands are incredible, and having shared the stage with them both over the years they are great and very grounded people. The most successful Australian heavy music band is by far Parkway Drive, though they are a band more associated with the hardcore scene, but it is likewise great to see an Australian heavy band do so well both overseas and in Australia.
But where the negative aspect comes is that within Australia the heavy music market is very divided. The ‘ core ‘ genre is a very successful and well supported market and scene. However, the metal market and scene in Australia continues to remain relatively underground. It does not have the level of support that the core scene has, nor does it crossover as it does in Europe or Australia. As such, metal bands have to work a lot harder to reach out to an overseas market and develop a bands profile.
Much in the same way as kangaroos and the like evolved, do you think being separate from the more well-known markets and their trends has helped you concentrate more on the music?
Greg – I think it has – but I also believe that there is many bands over here that aim to emulate the dominant trends in the U.S and Europe – particularly ‘ core ‘ bands. That is found in the bands song writing and obsession with imagery and trend – but that is the case throughout any major heavy music scene – and is often criticised and reflected upon in a lot of music media not only in the U.S and Europe, but in Australia as well.
But the isolation of our country from being able to develop a profile in the dominant overseas markets can definitely help reinforce a band’s identity and development. The opportunities here are limited, so a perseverance to stand true to your band’s roots and sound does not face the challenge bands playing a part in the dominant markets may face – such as labels dropping support for the band’s music because it does not follow the latest trend, or not featuring bands on line ups because it is not within the idea of what it is to sell out venues. The bands that last the longest, and with perseverance will go the furthest, are the bands that stay true to what it is the band set out to be from its beginnings.
Naturally the main focus at the moment is your latest release ‘Worship The Bled’ – what has life been like since its launch?
Jason North – We have been kept pretty busy with playing live and touring both here in Australia and over in Asia and we are now focusing our attention on getting over to Europe to play. The guys have also started to work on some new material but a new release is a way off yet as we have got a lot of life left in ‘Worship The Bled’ and we really want to expose it to as many people as possible.
Can you briefly summarise the vibe of the album? Have you tried to do anything different, or specific, with this release?
Greg – I think that WORSHIP THE BLED is the band evolving on from UPON THE WARLORDS CRAWL. That album really established our sound, it was the album we had long sought to make – both in the song writing and quality of the recording, and from there it led the way toward WORSHIP.
When we started writing for WORSHIP we found that the song writing was more focused. We were able to use WARLORDS as a template and look at what we had achieved, and where we wanted to take the sound next. In contrast to WARLORDS I think Mark and myself sought to push the extremity in terms of both speed and heaviness, and try some ideas that would be more bombastic. The result was songs such as GREAT WASTE OF FLESH, DRAGGED BENEATH and SUMMON ABYSS. Each of these songs offer more dynamics than any song we had released previously, but were then juxtaposed alongside songs that pushed the extremes of our thrash identity with the approach bordering on death metal with songs such as SCAVENGERS or LEAVE NOTHING ALIVE. As a consequence I think we achieved an album that offers a range of density, and it is an album that has a completeness in its delivery, which is why the intro relates to the outro – it is a cycle, taking in all the dimensions of the music and message we are trying to convey.
Did you feel any pressure to live up to the hype of ‘Upon The Warlords Crawl’?
Jason – I think the only pressure we faced was our own, you always want to better yourself no matter what you do so it was the same for the album. We were all very confident in the tracks we had and once we had heard what Kevin Talley had brought to the songs it gave us even more incentive to take the songs to the next level. Even with the mixing & mastering we specifically asked Jonas to make it sound bigger and heavier than ‘Warlords’ and I think we definitely achieved that.
Once again the album has been mixed and mastered by Jonas Kjellgren of Scar Symmetry, do you have guys have a good working relationship? What is it about his approach that resonates with you?
Jason – Having worked with Jonas on our last album it made the whole experience so much easier. We were used to the whole ‘not being there’ while the mixing was happening and having to rely on the internet etc to hear the tracks as they were being worked on. Jonas did such a good job on ‘Warlords’ we knew he was the right person for ‘Worship the Bled’, all we asked was to take it to the next level like the music had and he didn’t disappoint – if you compare both albums there definitely is a step up in regards to overall sound quality. He did a killer job. Jonas has always been very supportive of the band and it’s great to work with someone who has a great knowledge of metal and the sound we were after.
He also features on the album, as does Kevin Talley (Daath, Chimaira, Six Feet Under) in the role of session drummer – did this bring a different dynamic to the recording?
Jason – Definitely, we asked Jonas if he would want to lay down a lead on the opening track ‘Knives of the Betrayed’ which he jumped at and the end result is killer. As far as the drums go we had originally programmed all the drums ourselves for the tracks but when we sent them to Kevin we told him to only use them as a base and to add his own flair and skill etc. When we got them back we were blown away, they just amplified the track to whole new level. Having such killer drum tracks it allowed us to play around with some riffs a bit more and add some extra parts here and there to add more dynamics to a track. Some of the beats we got back were crazy so we definitely needed to show that off in the riffs as well.
Recent big news has been your signing with Ultimate Records for Europe and Japan for the release of ‘Worship The Bled’, so congratulations on that. How do you feel about the deal?
Greg – Thank you. It is great to open the way to Europe – a long sought after aim, and consolidate our profile in Japan following tours there in 2009 and 2011 with the support of a label. The great thing about ULTIMHATE RECORDS is that it is run by a musician who is out there touring, promoting and working hard for his own band. It parallels our own experience, as I run a label in Australia in partnership with Jason. I really look forward to getting to Europe and taking the next step of establishing a live presence over there. The label has been very supportive in working on tour opportunities and we should be there by early to mid 2012.
Is it a big step change to move outside of your home market and into Europe? How important do you think a move like this is to progression of the band?
Jason – I think for any band Europe is and always will be the best place for metal. Australia is very unreceptive to its local metal bands, there is a loyal following here but it doesn’t get the recognition it deserves. In Europe, metal is huge, the festivals are just crazy and to get over there and potentially expose yourself to that audience is an opportunity that doesn’t come around too often. It would definitely help the band get to the next level as I feel once you have done the full tour of Europe you get that level of respect from people inside the business.
I understand that you also have plans for a European tour next year – are you able to let us in on any details about that?
Greg – I am currently working on a tour schedule with ULTIMHATE RECORDS, but at this stage cannot give specific dates. It is looking like early to mid 2012, and we are looking at if possible touring twice. We would also like to look at the summer festival period. Returning to Japan is also an aim for late in 2012, and we hope that this time we can maybe tour South Korea and Taiwan as well.
Yet, more unusually rather than taking the typical route into the well-recognised Western markets, you’ve actually penetrated Asia first? What advantages do you think this approach has offered you?
Greg – It has offered us incredible and valuable experiences. We have performed in countries we had never considered possible, particularly China in 2008 (where we supported BEHEMOTH ) and headlining in 2009. It opened our eyes to the great opportunities and musicianship that exists throughout Asia – there are some awesome bands throughout South East Asia, China and Japan that remain relatively unheard of outside their own countries. The crowds are hungry, offer immense support, and we always look forward to returning. For us it is closer to our own country – we are a western country in the Asian region, so it is great that we have been able to build an identity, forge a strong connection and establish a heavy music bond with the bands and heavy music followers throughout Asia. Not many Australian bands have done that, and the advantages in doing so are not material, they are communal – music should not just be about ‘ making it ‘ in the dominant markets, music is about communication and community, and for us that is the advantage Asia has offered.
On a different note, the band has had a few changes within its line up over the last year or so, which has seen the introduction of a new touring line up – has that been difficult to adjust to?
Jason – Anytime you replace a member it’s hard, because you have to go back to the drawing board and teach the songs to the new guys and then get them up to the level where the band was before they joined. The hardest thing is just getting the band back to being a tight killer unit where you know you can walk on stage and just destroy everything for that 30 – 60 minutes you are up there for. We have been lucky to always find new talent that shares the same passion as us for the music and they have that drive to want to excel on stage.
Beyond the tour, are we likely to see a permanent shift in the band’s membership? Whilst such changes are never without this challenges, does new blood bring with it new drive?
Greg – I think that the change in line up has been very positive, and indeed new blood brings new drive. It is challenging but each of the new members with the exception of Kieren have been involved in bands that were signed to Truth Inc Records, have performed alongside Truth Corroded in other bands or played on performances arranged by Jason and myself, so we were confident in their abilities and determination. Also, each of the new members, as they are younger than Jason and myself, have been watching the band play over the years and understand what it is to be Truth Corroded, both from a creative point of view through to the required work ethic.
We have started writing for the next album, and I am very excited with the results. It is for the first time going to be music written in collaboration with someone outside of Mark and myself, and that is really inspiring. The music written so far is within the context of the band’s sound, but with our new guitarist Wayne bringing in new elements to the bands vision.
Finally, in keeping with the album title, who or what do you worship?
Greg – Metal. Beer a close second.
Jason – Couldn’t have said it better myself!
Thanks for your time guys!