Interview with Tony Asta of Battlecross

Battlecross are currently not a household name in the metal world, but they are looking to change that, through sheer force of will and determination. They have currently just completed a UK tour on a jam packed bill alongside co headliners Trivium and Killswitch Engage as well as Miss May I, they are taking a short break then they will be heading back out stateside to tour once again with Killswitch Engage. It was on the last date of the aforementioned UK run that I was able to catch up with guitarist Tony Asta to discuss all things Battlecross, from their first time playing the UK, to audience appreciation, covering Huey Lewis and the News and why Download Festival will be the best weekend of their lives.

So I have to ask man, how has this tour been for you guys?

It's been pretty sweet man, it's a lot of fun. It's different, it's kind of like playing our own show, but it's different because it’s a new crowd of people we've never played for before. It's really cool to gain new fans, but then like last night there were a couple of guys that were like 'Yeah man, I've been following you guys, since like 2011” and I was like “Holy shit!” so there are some people out there who know who we are, but we're just happy to be here, happy to come out and be on the bill with these awesome bands. We had the opportunity to come out over here before, but it would have been like a shot in the dark, taking the chance to come over and not play to anybody, but coming out this way, a lot of the shows are sold out, so when we go on, there's hundreds of people out there already, so that's huge for us to play for all these people.

Has it been a bit of a trial by fire for you guys at all?

Yeah kind of, I mean it’s all been pretty positive, we haven't done that well on merch unfortunately, we seem to do better when it’s our night to sell when we are out there selling the merch ourselves, and people can come up to us, get stuff signed, it’s a bit more personal that way. We always try our best to be out there mingling and interacting with the fans and doing what we can to promote ourselves, they think it’s cool to as well, which is nice.

I think fans appreciate that, when bands take the time to interact with the fans, as you say it adds that personal touch to things.

It would be stupid for us not to interact with the fans honestly, for us just to be hiding away somewhere, and that’s boring anyway (laughs)

Now I have to ask, who has the better audiences. America or the UK?

That’s a tough question. In the UK it definitely seems that metal is more widespread, it’s more of a bigger group of people, whereas in the U.S unless you are more really really big like Korn or somebody, the kind of the shit that we do, isn't really that mainstream, whereas here, you go out and you go to a bar and they are blasting fucking Slayer or something, and more obscure shit. I think here there is more of a metal fanbase, but the big difference is in the crowd, since a lot of people don't know who we are, so since they are hearing us for the first time, by the time it gets to Miss May I, they are more pumped up, they know who they are, they've been here before, then when Trivium comes on, it’s a fucking riot and its awesome, then finally you have Killswitch and everybody is up and moving, so I would have to say the crowds are great here man.

For Battlecross as a band, what influences you guys as artists and writers when you sit down to write? Is it stuff that you've been through personally or does it come from outside places. What is the mindset there?

When we are writing the music, the way we always start is with the guitars, you know we'll come up with some sweet riffs, and the riffs have to be inspiring, they have to make you feel a certain way. The kind of writing style we like to do well I like to do, is that it has to kick ass, if I'm writing something and it feels like it’s going somewhere and its kicking ass, then we get together and we jam and it feels like it’s going somewhere, you know if it gives you that feeling of the hair standing up on the back of your neck, feeling that aggression then I know we are going in the right direction and that is how we write. There is a live feel to it, without playing live so to speak. In writing I feel it’s important to have dynamics, it has to feel like a freight train dude.

You guys have had well documented line-up changes. How does that affect the writing process, with different people coming and going in the band?

It changes a lot. With the addition of our bassist Don Slater in 2008, he's writing style came in, and he's really influenced by old school videogame style melody with loads of third and fifth harmonies, and that's stuff I really like too, but it wasn't really stuff that I'd tried, then when he came in he showed us all these riffs and these basslines that he wrote, it totally threw in this whole other influence that really helped hone our influence. Then when Kyle (Gunther, Vocals) came in, it was more energy, and although his writing style is less percussive, it’s something you could sing along to a little more, but I think he is also a little more aggressive because he can get higher and he can get lower, it was really cool because when we were in the studio we felt like we could try a little more out.

One of the things I was surprised to find out about you guys is that you been around for 11 years. How does it feel for you to have been a band that long yet for people to only really be discovering you in the last couple of years?

Well I've gotta be honest with you, we didn't start touring until 2011, so until then we were only playing locally, trying to figure out our style and what we were doing, we didn't release any albums until 2010, so 2010 was the beginning of us saying 'we have something to show you and we could probably tour now...but we're broke' then we signed to Metal Blade and we got Kyle as our vocalist, then everything changed and went up from there, so that was when we started getting noticed, and doing more things and playing, Metal Blade definitely made a big difference. For people to say they only found out about us recently, that's pretty awesome for us, I mean anybody that wants to join the party, come on in, the more the merrier. But for anybody out there to say that they've known about us all along, it would only be limited to local people in our area at that time all the way back in 2003.

So what is next for you guys after this tour? What is the immediate future looking like?

We'll be home for about a week, then we are heading out with Protest The Hero for about a week in North America for about 5 weeks, then we are doing New England Metal and Hardcore fest, then after that we are doing 1-2 weeks with Killswitch in the US which will be sick, then we are coming back to Europe to do Download Festival, Graspop, Novarock and there are two others that we haven't announced yet in June, then in July we have something else that I can tell you about just yet, so that is as far as we've announced for now.

Dude, Download that is going to be unbelievable. You think this is crazy, wait until you get to Donnington…

Everybody keeps telling me that. I can't wait.

Trust me, you guys are going to have a blast. If the weather stays good and everyone is drinking you guys are going to have the best time of your lives.

Fuck yeah! I mean I hear it’s pretty muddy, if it rains. But fuck it, I'm just gonna be blown away to be there dude.

I always like to end every interview with a couple of random questions just to lighten things up a bit, you cool if we get a bit random?

Cool man, let's do it.

So this tour has been you guys with Miss May I, Trivium and Killswitch Engage. If you could pick any one of those three bands to be in for the day, and to perform one song onstage with them, which band would you pick and which song would you play?

Definitely Killswitch Engage.

Which song would you play?

I would say 'Element of One' off of 'Alive or Just Breathing'

If you could cover any one song in history, any song at all which song would you cover?

(Long Pause) I think some Huey Lewis...Maybe.

I could just see you guys doing 'Hip to be Square'

'This is it' would be the one, I'd even throw in the stupid solo and everything (laughs) we could have Huey Lewis join us onstage to sing, that would be badass man, seriously badass (laughs)

If you could sum up Battlecross in one word, what would it be?

Energy, something to do with energetic energy, or aggression. Something like that (laughs)

If you could pick 3 Battlecross songs to put into a time capsule that would stand as a lasting testament of who Battlecross were as a band, what 3 songs would they be?

Definitely 'Push.Pull.Destroy', fuck that's hard...'Flesh and Bone' and you pick the third...

I can't man, there's too many good ones.

Oh, thanks man.

I tell you what, I'd get you guys to do that Huey Lewis cover and put that in there, it would show you guys have a sense of humour.

Absolutely, no joke man, we have that cd in the car and we listen to it.

I remember having a chat with Jonny Davey from Job for a Cowboy about how they listen to Ace of Base. I think a record company is missing a trick here, they should listen to this and get you guys to all do a cd of random pop covers.

That would be rad (Laughs)

If Battlecross ended tomorrow, how would you want to be remembered?

Music lives on man, the cd's are already there. I guess just remembered for the music and for us being regular ass motherfuckers, that's the best way I can put it, I don't want to remembered for more than that, I want to let the music do the talking and you guys can be the judge.

Lastly, do you have any closing comments for the Battlecross fans out there?

Thank you all for giving us a chance, coming out to show, checking us out or looking in our direction, or telling another friend, just thank you that's all I can say.

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