The historical town of Colchester, located in the far north of Essex, is the setting for tonight’s dose of glorious Heavy Metal madness. A cancelled one day festival has been replaced by a four band bill featuring Reading-based bruisers Malefice. Their instantly recognisable, crushing sound and explosive live show is rolling into town, leaving only a mass of broken necks and severe hangovers in their wake.
Amongst the chaos backstage and crew frantically setting up for tonight’s showcase of British talent, Malefice’s outspoken frontman, Dale Butler, and resident riff lord, Ben Symons, kindly spare me a few minutes of their time, despite being up against a tight schedule.
Considering tonight’s line up is quite a mixed bag, what kind of set list are you guys planning tonight?
We’re doing a headline set at the moment because we’re going on tour in September. We’re trying a lot of old stuff because we always discounted our older material, so we’re trying to compile a headline set for September so it’s literally going to be everything, loads of bounce, loads of groove. It’s probably one of the heaviest sets we’ve ever written to be fair, I don’t think it was planned to come out that way but its quite a brutal set and I think there was only singing twice. So we don’t ever really consider the bill we’re on – we play what we want to play, obviously if we’re going out with Arch Enemy then we’re going to play a slightly heavier set than if we’re going out with Rise to Remain, but if we’re doing things like this where we haven’t got to worry about a whole tour, we just do whatever the fuck we want to do basically.
That’s the best way to be. How did the charity collaboration [Omega] with Marcus Hahnemann come about?
Jägermeister basically. We endorse Jägermeister and they give us a lot of money for things that you are gonna see all over that stage tonight, like backdrops, scrims and amps. They’re really good at supporting British music, they really are the kind of backbone that people never ever see and they asked us to do this ‘Ice Cold Session’. I love my football, so they suggested a couple of premiership footballers. We picked Marcus Hahnemann, because he didn’t play for Liverpool like the other one and we went for that really. And it was sick – it was a really good experience, was really fun and the tune was massive.
Awesome, well like you said Jägermeister support British Metal and with your upcoming ‘Perseverance’ tour you decided to take local bands out on each show. Whose idea was that?
I think it was mine and Ben’s brain child really; we wanted to make it an all British bill. So we have two tour supports, Carcer City and Silent Screams. We wanted to try and give a little bit back because the reason the UK touring scene is struggling a bit is because there’s no local scenes any more, people don’t go out to local shows so we were like: “Why don’t we get a local opener each night that we know people are gonna want to see. Not someone that’s mates with the promoter and are inevitably going to be fucking shit.” That’s just going to be a wasted opportunity, let’s try and not fill up the whole bill each night with a touring package, but let’s get local openers in and make sure they’re the ones that really deserve it. The response we’ve got is how we’ve deemed if they deserve it, if they’re gonna go out and make sure they’re getting all their mates talking about it then they’re gonna make an effort and it obviously means a lot to them as well, so we decided to do it that way. It’s how we got our first shots when we were younger as well.
What sort of state do you think British metal is in right now?
I think it’s in a great state! I think it’s important to think outside the ‘metal box’ because I think British metal has changed a lot. I’m trying to think outside the box a lot more and not stick to this kind of traditional metal route and just play heavy music. I think there’s bands like While She Sleeps and Architects around at the moment that are doing fucking great for our country, like really fucking great. You can love them or hate them but they’re putting this country on the map and they’re playing music that they give a fuck about, that’s what Metal has always been about. It hasn’t always been about blastbeats, growls down a microphone and political lyrics; it’s always been about the ‘give a fuck’ attitude and a community of people coming together. You could be working in an office 9 to 5 and at five o clock you put your Metallica shirt on and you go down the show with your mates and you lose your shit and get drunk, that is what it’s always been about: the community. I think that’s what people need to fucking realise because all these people slagging off bands that are doing well like Architects and While She Sleeps and Bring Me The Horizon, you should be fucking proud that they’ve come from our country and they’ve come out of this scene that’s been on its arse for most of the early 2000’s. Bands like that and bands like us and Sylosis we’ve managed to fight our way out of all that bullshit and actually have been given a fair crack at it.
That’s good. Stylistically your newest opus ‘Awaken the Tides’ is a bit further away from the sound you were originally carving out. Are you pleased with your progression overall?
I think you have to progress and evolve to survive, not only on a personal level, I couldn’t imagine writing the same album over and over again. Every time we do something it has to be different in some way and it has to be bigger and better in every way possible. Which is why we started introducing the strings and synths and just different sounds that we had never thought of using before to add a new dynamic to our sound, so we get mixed feedback about ‘Awaken the Tides’ but its definitely an album that were really proud of. I think even with ‘Awaken the Tides’ maybe we didn’t have the exact direction we wanted to achieve, I think we kind of went a little bit off kilter and I know that there are some things we probably would have done differently now that we have the opportunity, now that we’re back in a situation where we are writing and looking to record relatively soon. We have demoed up a whole bunch of new songs and we all love them, it’s going to be very different but it’s exactly what you would expect from Malefice, but in a very different way – just expanding all the ideas that we probably should have done before. All we want to do is get up on stage and fucking headbang and go nuts! We kept on writing all these songs that are so hard to play and we can’t fucking move. So we decided that we just wanted to write some stuff that we can go nuts to, it’s still pretty hard but there are the key moments where you have your opportunity to completely lose your shit. That’s what we wanted to achieve.
It doesn’t have to be complex for you to lose your shit to it!
Exactly if it’s got bounce and its got a groove that’s the most important thing.
As always in the Metal universe there are always fans who will disapprove of any musical changes. How do you think your fans took it overall?
Well so far so good but they’re gonna be in for a shock and if they don’t like it, tough shit.
At the end of the day they’re not the ones that are living in a van for six months of the year and putting their lives on hold to fulfil this dream, which is quite thankless a lot of the time. People will sit behind a fucking computer and bitch about you, but give a fuck? If you’ve got something to say about me or any of my boys, just say it to my face and I’ll give you an answer. If you want to know why we’ve done things I will tell you why we have done things. Like Ben said, I think that any Malefice fan that actually gets what we are about will understand that we’ve never been a band that has stuck to one pattern of writing. Every album is different, every album is evolving. We started when we were eighteen, so what the fuck did we know then? We didn’t have our sound then and we have still been trying to find it all the way through. You’ve got to make some mistakes and you’ve got to try some things that maybe don’t work, but if they don’t work for a fan, we can’t fucking please everyone and we’ve never pretended that we could, so if some people don’t like what we did on ‘Awaken the Tides’ or on the next one then, I’m sorry, but there’s a lot of other people out there that do. We are fighting to survive like any other fucking band at the moment so we’re keeping our sound fresh and we’re keeping ourselves current. Any bands that don’t do that just disappear off the face of the fucking earth and you never see them again. If we go out then we want to go out with a bang at some point and we want to be remembered for a group of guys that weren’t afraid to express themselves musically. That’s what this band has always been about, and will always be about.
You’ve got a reputation for being quite heavy tourers. How important are your live shows to you?
It’s all we have man! I mean any band can record a great album because there’s technology out there now that can make you sound fucking awesome. However, 90% of those bands suck live. We’ve always been very anal. Like we will have a great show, come off stage and pick holes in each others performance. It will be like “you need to be doing this better” and it’s not just about the playing aspect for us, that’s like the basic, it’s about movement. Our whole stage show is very important to us. We’ve always been known as a formidable live band and that wasn’t a tag we picked up easily – that was from touring our fucking arses off and learning from the best, from going out on tour with big bands and watching them from the side of the stage like, right, they do this, and this is probably what we should start doing. It’s an easy tag to lose; you can play one shit show and you’ve lost it so its something we’re always on our toes about and luckily were always on the ball, touch wood, ha-ha.
So what is next for Malefice?
So in the immediate future we’ve got a headline tour coming up that’s later in the year, in September, that’s the ‘Perseverance’ tour. Dates available on Facebook and tickets available from all good ticket retailing places [nothing like a shameless plug eh?]. We are doing a few shows in the next few weeks with Unearth, which is our first time playing with them actually, they’re the kind of the band that got me into this genre of Metal. Not that we really play that any more, but they got me into it so that’s gonna be a really good time because we like that band a lot.
They’re really good guys.
Yeah, they are really kind.
Yeah and they’ve got serious riffs as well!
They have riffs, that’s what you need. Then we are recording, I’m not gonna tell you exactly what it is but we are recording and it will be out this year at some point. That is our plan. We’re busy working away behind the scenes as well.
We’ve been flat out all year and a lot of people haven’t seen what we’ve been doing. We haven’t toured that much this year because we’ve just been kind of reinventing ourselves. I suppose we’ve been too busy cutting our hair and writing shit music haha.
It has been quite a process of stripping back every element of what our band is, what we stand for and what we want to achieve as a band. Really just trying to work out what we need to do to better ourselves and what we need to do to achieve the goals we want to achieve. We don’t want to be ‘that band’ that headlines the shit small venue in every town. We want to get bigger, we want to evolve and the only way to do that is to write better songs, to be brave and do things that people might not expect us to do. We are prepared to take a chance and write something that we really love and hopefully it works out and if it doesn’t, then tough shit, we’ll see what happens next.
Our fans mean a lot to us man and we respect them deeply, but we’ve always been in that style of metal that we know whatever we do the majority of our fans will be behind us and they’ll understand what were doing. We’ve always been honest guys we’ve never hidden behind a fucking rock star façade and if people don’t understand what’s happening, they can pick up a magazine at the time of release and read why we did things like we did on ‘Awaken the Tides’ – it was all in there. That’s the beauty of press these days: kids can get their answers and we’ve always been rewarded for being bold and I think especially in the industry were known for having quite a lot of bottle, so it hasn’t fazed us yet, so this will be a next step in the journey, hopefully the step where it means I can buy a nice car!
Finally on a personal note, I would agree with you both that British metal is in a healthy state at the minute and there a lot of bands that I’m discovering every week. What would you say to people that just need that last little push to go down to the local pub or club and see some of the young unsigned bands and really give them some support?
I think if you dub yourself a lover of music, I find it fascinating for people to not want to go out and find new music like if anything, not sounding patronising, I feel fucking sorry for people that are happy to listen to what they’re being told to listen to by magazines and by TV channels. There are plenty of bands out there that have been going for years undiscovered, like Ghost for instance, and then all of a sudden a magazine gets behind them and suddenly everyone is like “fuck me this band are amazing” its like, dude, they’ve been going for fucking years. Go and check out your local scene – you’ll be very surprised how much talent there is. We get local bands on most of our headline shows and there are some fucking decent bands and unfortunately, because the industry requires quite a lot of luck to get anywhere, ninety percent of these bands won’t get anywhere and it’s a fucking shame. But don’t be the person that misses out on a great moment in this country at the moment because venues are getting shut down left, right and centre so you’ve got to get out there now and find these young bands and get behind them and make our scene even stronger!
Ben, have you got anything you want to add to that?
I fully agree with everything Dale just said.
Good answer! Gentleman, thank you very much for your time.