Date: 26 September 2012
MM: You are due out on tour and will be playing the reissued “The Force” album in full. You will be playing two dates in England then head out on a European tour. Are there any plans for a full UK tour with the re-issued album?
SY: We have been trying to book more shows, but a lot of venues seem to be booked up, but we are looking for some venues post European tour. Originally we were just going to do the Plymouth show. When we did the tour last year we were due to play Plymouth then, but the venue closed down. So we said to the promoter we are quite willing to rebook it, so we thought it’s a great opportunity pre European tour. So we thought we could play the Plymouth show as a warm up. Then Mike our drummer said why don’t we play some more gigs and he arranged the show in Cardiff. But we have been having trouble getting a decent sized venue, they all seem to be booked up at the moment, but we will be adding some more shows hopefully post Europe, around mid-October.
MM: “The Force” is an iconic album did you ever think all these years later that it would still be held in such high regard?
SY: No, not really there was a long period of time when I didn’t even play the album at home. It was a landmark album apparently back in the Eighties, the first British band to release a full thrash album on a decent label (Music for Nations). I think the record company had really high expectations, I remember it was featured in Kerrang, and they compared us at the time to Slayer, and they said one of these bands is going to global, and the others one’s going to sort of disappear without a trace. Well we didn't disappear without a trace but unfortunately they are the ones who took off.
There was a long period of time when I didn’t listen to really any thrash at all. And when I left Onslaught back then I listened to Pink Floyd, Hawkwind and some NWOBHM. It was only when we performed I would dig the album out and give it a spin and get up to speed as we would be playing some of these songs live in the set when we reformed. To me “The Force” is like a breath of fresh air again and I kid you not its maybe like seven years, maybe more than that since I last heard the full album and I am like wow this is pretty good actually!
It’s weird because I did not expect it to stand the test of time, but I think it has, especially with the re-master coming out this month, it is sounding absolutely awesome. We didn’t have any original master tapes so Jake has done a tremendous job re-mastering the album from a CD. I think when we recorded the album originally the record company were not prepared to pay for the big tapes. I know the two inch tapes were certainly lost somewhere they are probably just sitting somewhere.
You know we lost all track of who reissued the album and found out it was on the Blackened label and Plastic-head, they re-released the album without our knowledge, everything with their re-issue was completely wrong. So we wanted to do something with the album properly so there is a lot of new pictures and sleeve notes on the new re--master of the “The Force” and its sounding awesome and up to date for the twenty first century.
MM: I have been watching some of your recent American tour on YouTube and it looks totally insane, how was it for yourself and the band, as that was the first time you have been over there wasn’t it?
SY: Yeah we didn’t know what to expect , I think we expected the big cities like LA, Chicago to be really good and they were, they were beyond really good. We played some backwater towns and it's deceptive, we would turn up at a venue in the middle of a shopping mall and there’s a small doorway into where we are playing and I am thinking oh my goodness what are we going to find here, then once you were in it was unbelievable the venues were spectacular.
I mean there were a couple of venues that were not as good as others, but on the whole the whole experience was fantastic and nearly all of the shows were sold out. Yeah it was really crazy!
We had a mix of guys and girls who had been listening to “The Force” since its original release and we had the new breed of Thrash fans as well, so yeah we had great audiences and all the older guys weren’t just standing there with their arms crossed either!!
MM: What bands influenced you growing up and are there any new bands that have grabbed your attention. I know you did the tour last year with Fallen Fate?
SY: Yeah they are a very good band. Growing up, I was born in the early sixties and my father used to play a lot of jazz, the crooners, Sinatra etc . . . . So I grew up in a musical household, and discovered Radio One and Glam rock, so I kind of lived through the whole Glam rock thing, classic rock, Prog Rock and Punk rock and I listened to it all. Music in the Seventies was fantastic. As you get older you always go back to what you grew up with, so for me it's Pink Floyd, Hawkwind, I listen to prog rock more than thrash metal these days. I don’t listen to much new thrash, occasionally just to keep up to date with it all.
MM: That’s understandable as it’s your job in a way isn’t it and I guess you need an escape at times from thrash?
SY: For sure and even when we are on tour we don’t listen to much metal on the bus, it’s usually all chill out music.
MM: The Thrash scene is on the up again and it must be really gratifying when new bands state Onslaught as being a huge influence on them.
SY: Yeah it’s weird. Nige was in contact with Fallen Fate a few years ago way before there album was released and I get so many bands asking me if I will do some guest vocals for them, and sometimes it’s difficult re. distance etc. or I don’t fancy doing vocals for so and so band. But it was me who approached Fallen Fate and didn’t want to sound like a rock star or anything, because I am not! But I said it would be a privilege if you allowed me to sing on one of your songs.
MM: I bet they were gobsmacked.
SY: Unfortunately though it was two weeks after contracting laryngitis so me voice was still recovering, so listening to it now my voice isn’t as powerful as it should be and it is more throaty, but yeah I am pretty happy with how it came out though. It’s a great album “The Virus Has Spread” absolutely fantastic. I play it quite a lot. And I am looking forward to getting their new album which is out soon I think.
MM: When can we expect a new album from you, and will it be even more brutal than “Sounds of Violence” if that’s possible?
SY: We are in the process and Its going to be “Sounds of Violence” part two, and our five year plan was to move on and up with the song writing and it certainly has some influences in their from “Sounds of Violence”. For me “Sounds of Violence” was such an amazing album musically and with the writing it’s a revelation and everything before “Sounds of Violence” was written mostly by Nigel and to have his input on “Sounds of Violence” was fantastic and yeah we have moved on again, there's a couple of tracks on the new album that are epics and I can’t wait to get in and record them. We are playing, dare I say with keyboards on this new album!
MM: Cool so that sounds really interesting and different, so hopefully you will be appearing at Bloodstock and other big festivals next year with a new album in tow.
SY: Yeah hopefully, the album is due for Apri/ May; we are pretty busy for the rest for the year now we have this European tour, then back to Brazil for November. We were there last year in November I think we did about eleven to twelve shows, then Argentina and Peru. Peru was amazing, whereas Brazil is very Westernised, but when you go to Peru it is what you would expect a South American country to be, it's hot and steamy, it's exotic and it's probably what Brazil used to be like you know. Peru was just fantastic the scenery was stunning and we went to one town and it’s literally surrounded by three volcanoes and we got off the plane and you are surrounded by three volcanoes!! Absolutely stunning.
MM: Talking of exotic climes, you are due to be playing in Singapore soon for the first time?
SY: Yes and we need to add some more venues to that one as it is a bit silly to go all that way financially for one event, I mean the promoter is paying our air fares over there but you are talking a grand a time, so hopefully we will have a couple of shows in Japan, that’s an exclusive and it just makes financial sense for everybody if we play some dates while we are over that side of the world.
MM: You will probably sell out massive arenas in Japan as they love their thrash over there don’t they?
SY: We played over there in 2007 I think it was, in Tokyo that was part of the Thrash domination festival, it was ourselves, Death Angel, and two other bands that was awesome, a total culture shock you know Japan. Japan still lives on its traditions it’s a wonderful place.
MM: Sounds amazing, what are your feelings on the current metal scene?
SY: You listen to the media they will tell you the metal scene is dead. I mean the magazine that used to be metal the magazine that starts with a K (Kerrang) they seem to have forgotten about it all. Metal Hammer, Terrorizer is keeping the flag flying, but as magazines they are undergoing a bit of a reshape.
We've lost Roadrunner records and other labels are struggling, but the metal scene is as healthy as I have ever seen it. I was asked to judge in the Bristol Metal to the masses Bloodstock competition in a small club in Bristol and it was amazing, for ten weeks I judged the heats and it reaffirmed my faith every week that Metal is still alive. There are so many small clubs in Bristol where bands are playing with 30-50 people in there watching, that’s grass roots isn’t it, but talking to all these different people every week it showed it’s a very strong scene still and very much alive.
MM: The band has a new drummer in Michael Hourihan who toured the “Sounds of Violence do you feel the band is more settled than it has ever been in the bands history?
SY: Absolutely, it’s the best line up us have ever had. Mike can do anything and everything. With the previous drummer, he was kind of holding us back. When we were doing the basic tracks for “Sounds of Violence” we were using a drum machine and our previous drummer was like not sure he could play on the tracks and we suspected he would struggle and indeed he did. He certainly couldn’t have played it live night after night he would have really struggled. So it was really a blessing when he left, he left us ten days before the European tour and he really dropped us in it.
Fortunately Jeff knew Mike, we rung Mike and he was up for it, he only had eight days to learn the set! It’s not a simple set, there’s lots of time changes so yeah Mike done a fantastic job. Once we were on the 3rd or 4th show I said Mike would you like to join the band, so he did, he is still working with Desecration as well and works with us in a studio in Cardiff and has a couple of other side projects tool, he keeps himself busy, but yeah Onslaught is his main band.
MM: Anything you would like to say to our readers?
SY: Come check us out, thanks for checking us out and buying the albums, don’t download them for free … it’s affecting everything not just the bands, look at Roadrunner they were huge so please buy albums don’t download for free. Take a chance buy albums, keep music alive, or bands will suffer. But on a positive note, yeah come check us out come and join in the fun. The new album is due out in 2013 April / May, it’s going to be better than “Sounds of Violence”. Thank you!
MM: Thanks it was a pleasure talking to you.
Interview by: Seb Di Gatto