Onslaught Interview 2013
MG: Hi, Great to chat to you and thanks for taking the time away from your busy schedule for today’s interview.
Nige: Hello, Great to meet you, and yes we are extremely busy at the moment!!
MG: Your new album 'VI' has recently been released; it must have been exciting and Nervy times for the band towards its release?
Nige: It’s been a mixture of excitement and nervousness really. We are so proud of the record, but it’s been the waiting for the response from the press and what the fans are going to think. As the reviews have started to come in and seeing the positive responses we have been able to sit back a bit and relax a tiny bit, then the next stage is waiting for the fans reactions, which so far have been good, the albums only been out a few days. In fact I have just received an email and the album is number one in the Amazon Thrash / Metal charts! So it’s getting a bit more exciting every day and the anticipation is growing!
MG: For me it’s one of the strongest Thrash albums I have ever heard; honestly it’s up there with Slayers “Reign in Blood” for me! I am in my forties and have been into Metal since I was eleven and it’s just totally amazing and blew me away.
Nige: Thank you.
MG: “Children of the Sand” is an excellent track and a bit different and unexpected, what’s the inspiration behind the song and musical direction.
Nige: We didn’t want to get too comfortable in just playing straight ahead thrash. To move on in life you need to take some risks and try and expand your horizons a little bit. I think with the lyrical content of the song and what’s it about and the meaning of the song, lent itself, to try something a little bit different for us. It’s obviously about the on-going situation in the Middle East / Afghanistan. The letters we have received from friends working out there explaining how tough the situation actually is. Rather than the information we are fed from the media, it’s an important song to me personally because of that and I really wanted to make it special in a different kind if way.
We used Arabic chord structures, and for the final mix after discussing it and having originally had keyboards in some sections We changed it as I really don’t like the idea of keyboards in thrash metal , it sounded okay, but when we were over in Sweden I was speaking to Thomas the guy who mixed the album and he suggested we call up a friend of his who’s a cellist and a great musician he came up with ideas and added stuff and we discussed adding a female vocalist, well Sy did actually, to accentuate the whole song and it really put the icing on the cake.
So on the final mix we just sat there and went wow! I mean it’s not very often you have a vision for something and it works out a hundred percent. This time it did and we were blown away by it. I think you need to take a few risks here and there and something a bit different to make people sit and take notice. As long as it works with the format and the rest of what we are doing its all good I guess.
MG: The drumming is vicious and the musicianship throughout 'VI' is totally stunning and breath taking how much of a step up would you say it is from your previous albums.
Nige: Musically a lot, that was one of the criteria we set ourselves, when we started writing the album two years ago, was to push ourselves to the limit on IV, and now having Michael Hourihan in the band, we have allowed him to do, well whatever we like really, he will play anything you throw at him, so that allows us on guitars to push everything to the max. We have played some tricky stuff on this album and it was really hard recording, because when you have got to track the same thing up four or five, six times and get it absolutely perfectly right. So yeah it has been a real challenge and we would like to think we have pulled it off and it was a lot of hard work. We are presently rehearsing and learning to play it all live and if you sit back in a comfort zone you are never going to achieve nothing.
MG: You head out on tour soon, I would imagine it’s going to be difficult to choose a set list and the reaction from people who have heard VI is just play the full new album in its entirety!
Nige: Well it’s our thirty year anniversary so that would be a little bit difficult and a few people have also said the same , but to be honest I am not keen on playing full albums live as much as I love this album, I think a lot of people wouldn’t want to listen to the whole album live as much as they like it , I am sure they would also want to hear all the other staple Onslaught tracks as well, you know tracks from “Sounds of Violence”, “Metal Forces” etc. but you know we have worked out a set list already but I am not going to tell you it! It is a best of Onslaught kind of thing, tracks from the earlier albums and maybe three or four from the new album. It’s going to be a lot of fun and I am really looking forward to it.
MG: With it being the thirty year anniversary are there plans a foot for a DVD?
Nige: Yeah, we have been filming everything for the past four or five years now so we have a hell of a lot of footage from the show and countries we have played and visited so am pretty sure next year we will have something out and possibly with the DVD. “In search of sanity” going out with it as we have just re-recorded “Shellshock“. For the digi pack and it worked out so well we have decided to rerecord the whole “In Search of Sanity” album and chances are we are going to use that in conjunction with the DVD. So a kind of DVD plus album “In Search of Sanity “album release.
MG: Wow that sounds amazing! You recently did a tour of Russia for the first time, how did it go?
Nige: It was an amazing experience, a real eye opener and a great time with wonderful people over there, but the traveling is totally insane, the shortest journey we had was 8-9 hours. You would get off the stage and within an hour you are traveling again in massive sleeper carriages, about 25 of them with a 120 people in it. It got hot and claustrophobic, it’s such a huge country, so that was tiring but the actual shows were amazing.
MG: Have you ever thought of having a kind of Onslaught day Festival?
Nige: Yes it’s something we have discussed, it would be nice to have all the UK thrash bands together on the same bill but it’s something really someone else would have to put together for us as we simply don’t have any time at the moment. It would be mega though and would attract a hell of a lot of interest. It really is just getting the time, maybe 2014 something like that; it could happen you never know, it would be a good idea.
MG: So after thirty years of Onslaught... it must be an amazing feeling to be still out their plying your trade and bringing your music to the masses. Did you think you would be still here in 2013?
Nige: Well when we split in 91 I thought that was it and the end of it all really. As for imagining we would still be here today from the start, no chance. I mean to think we would still be going and more successful than ever, we are very lucky. I mean when we split in 91 I put my guitar down , I did a few small projects which didn’t really take off.. So I put my guitar away a thought that was it.
But it’s amazing and we are so lucky to be in this situation where we are now.
MG: After thirty years, what would you say has been the biggest achievement for Onslaught?
Nige: I would say this album, I know a lot of bands probably say that when they release a new album. But having the seen positive reviews to VI it kind of reinforces how we feel, it’s the biggest achievement I feel for the band after all the years so far.
MG: The artwork is stunning as well on 'VI', did you have a lot of input in that as well?
Nige : Yes we did we wanted a refresh you know, we felt we needed a change, we knew the album was going to be good, so it was like lets take a fresh outlook on everything. When I was a kid and used to go in to the record shop and you would buy an album sometimes just because of the artwork, even if you had no idea of the music on the record. And that’s really what e were looking for with the artwork on VI, that kind of feeling as it’s hard enough to sell your product these days.
So we came up with the basic idea of the three skulls in the helmets with the VI on the helmets and sent it off to Karl in Sweden and it was amazing the first draft they came back with after three days was immense and it was not far off the finished sleeve you see now. Obviously he tidied it up a bit, but it’s incredible and is exactly what we wanted. Again the artwork has been so well received and doing its job you know. So far so good.
MG: Any final words for your fans and our readers?
Nige: Can’t thank you guys enough for the support, we owe you everything and can’t thank you enough and hope you like 'VI' and come and see us live soon!
Interview : Seb Di Gatto