Interview by Paul Castles
Demoraliser won a truck load of new admirers when supporting New York metalcore titans Hatebreed recently. Paul Castles was there at Wolverhampton (read Paul’s review here) where bassist Razor and singer James took time out to debate Demoraliser.
Thanks for your time here fellas. I understand you’re from Grimsby. How’s the metal scene in that famous fishing port on the chilly north east coast?
Razor: Well, we have to say the metal scene is not that strong in Grimsby, especially on the live front. The Matrix plays host to most shows in Grimsby where I help promote the gigs. The problem is I tend to be sole promoter of metal gigs in the town so if I’m away on tour with Demoraliser or acting as manager or driver for other bands on the road then nothing really happens in Grimsby. It really means people have to head to somewhere like Leeds for gigs
James: There’s always places closing down in the town. It is grim in Grimsby.
It’s tougher than ever these days for young bands from an economical standpoint. As a band trying to make your way, build your fan-base and sell records and t-shirts how have things been going the past year or so?
Razor: Well all of our early releases were put out for free. You can’t expect people to pay money for new music.
James: You’d be stupid to try and charge.
Razor: Yep, you would be shooting yourself in the foot to expect people to buy your first EP or whatever. Fifteen or 20 years ago with the right record you’d be a success but now so many bands are doing things so well online it’s much more difficult to break through. The merch has been selling well and we’ve been staying with friends we’ve accumulated over last couple of years stopping on floors and so on.
I understand you’ve developed a bit of a reputation for launching a new t-shirt on the back of a celebrity death. There was the Amy Winehouse one but then the shit really hit the fan with your ‘tribute’ to Margaret Thatcher.
James: Well when a celeb dies we make a t-shirt and then run the band name across their face. We do it to take piss out of people like Amy Winehouse. We’re not really laughing at them and in a way it’s a nod from us as a bit of recognition and the t-shirt sales make a bit of money for the band.
Razor: Margaret Thatcher certainly cost my family a lot of money coming from the north east so I’ve got no problem in making a little back off her. We had a lot of people slating us over those shirts saying we were too young to know about Thatcher. My family was from Middlesbrough where a lot of manufacturing industries suffered and died because of her policies. Ninety per cent of businesses in the north east suffered because of her and it is still a less developed area today because of what she did. A lot of people don’t understand this down south as none of those industries such as coal mining and shipbuilding took place down there.
James: We had people calling us wankers and everything because of the Thatcher shirts but we’re allowed our opinion the same as anyone else. At the end of the day it was only an image of her face with Demoraliser through her eyes.
I know you’ve got lives outside the band with work and so on but I understand Razor that music is your career 24-7.
Razor: That’s right. Between every Demoraliser tour I’m driving bands and managing tours which helps me build up great contacts and learn about the industry.
And how has your own tour been with the mighty Hatebreed? How did you manage to pull that one of the sky?
Razor: It’s been going really well thanks. We heard that we had been put on a shortlist when we were on tour in Europe with Betrayal. Our manager sent us an email asking if we were available for these particular dates. He said I don’t want to freak you out but they correspond exactly with the Hatebreed tour! Once we said we were up for it we got the confirmation through and what was really rewarding was that Jamey Jasta had personally selected us. When the tour posters came through and we saw Demoraliser right underneath Hatebreed it was an incredible feeling.
And has the tour lived up your expectations?
James: We were apprehensive about how many would turn up early enough to catch us but we’ve been delighted with response of the crowds. We’ve got a dedicated fan base around Grimsby who we adore but Hatebreed have a much older crowd. You’ve got people in their 40s and 50s who have been into Hatebreed for years. When we see them nodding along to our music with the horns up it makes us feel what we’re doing is worthwhile. If you get that positive response from a serious Hatebreed fan then that’s approval enough for us. The whole experience has been a lot of fun, playing bigger stages and bigger rooms than we’ve done before.
I hear that there was a group tatts session on this tour with all the band members getting the Demoraliser ‘D’ inked on their calf
Razor: Yeah we had all booked to get the same tattoo together at Frontier Tattoo in Cardiff. Kieran Palmer painted it up for us. We’re all going to sign the print, frame it and give it away someday. It’s our second group tour tatt as we all got inked when we on tour last year.
When you’re not under the needle what plans have Demoraliser got for the second half of 2013?
Razor: Well we have a few festivals on the horizon and will be playing the Thursday at Download in the little campsite arena. Hopefully it will be the first of many Download appearances for Demoraliser.
James: I’ve never even been to Download as a fan! I was actually going to buy a ticket for this year when we secured the booking.
Razor: We’ll also be on tour soon with Heart In Hand who are good friends of ours and we expect to be touring across Europe for the majority of August.
James: We’re also in the process of writing our second album. We’re all dedicating every second of our time on this band. We’re hoping people who have seen us on this tour with Hatebreed will come and see us again later in the year. Everything we’ve achieved on this tour will be even bigger and better on the next one, more songs and newer songs.
James: On the music side it was quite organic and flowed but I did struggle lyrically with the last couple of songs. For that reason I’m not as happy as I should be but then when you’re satisfied you’re no longer a proper artist. We’ve recorded new single and I’m much happier with that. The writing process was not so forced, it just happened.
Sitting here in the Slade Rooms with you guys barely 24 hours after the passing of Jeff Haneman it seems only right and proper to ask you for your thoughts on Slayer and Jeff.
Razor: I remember seeing Slayer at Leeds around 2007/08. They were on about 4pm in daylight. There was not that big a crowd but I stood there watching them and they were absolutely outstanding. I’ve always appreciated Slayer as has the rest of band.
James: It’s always a huge shame when we hear of influential people from great bands who pass on.
Well said guys, all of us who live for metal were shocked and saddened with the news. It’s over to guys like you to keep the torch burning, best of luck and thanks.