Interview by Michael Dodd
North West thrash veterans Solitary have been quite busy recently playing a number of high profile gigs, releasing a new CD and establishing a brand new website. We caught up with guitarist and lead singer Rich Sherrington to discuss the band’s recent endeavours and twenty years of playing metal music.
MR: For our readers who may be unfamiliar with you why don’t you tell us all about the band and your music?
Rich: We formed in the summer of 1994, and have released a couple of albums. We’ve done quite a few tours of the UK. The music we play is Thrash Metal but I wouldn’t describe us as a retro thrash band. We’ve just kept the early thrash influences and add the flavours of the best bits of metal of the last 20 years.
MR: Who would you say are your main influences?
Testament, Slayer, God Forbid, The Haunted, and Xentrix and Slammer from the UK Thrash scene, plus anything else that’s good and makes us think god I wish we’d wrote that.
MR: I recently spoke to Chris Astley, from fellow North West thrashers Xentrix, and he discussed how despite liking modern thrash acts like Lamb of God, he felt it was important for his band to stick to the traditional thrash sound so as to not alienate their following. Is this a sentiment that you agree with?
Rich: I think with Xentrix there is an expectation when people go to watch them since they have come back that they will play the classics off Shattered Existence and For Whose Advantage. I don’t know if new music is part of the nostalgia that some fans are expecting, it’s a discussion me and Chris have had a number of times since last November.
MR: You have a new album out called The Ripper Knows the Score, featuring five tracks apiece from each of your previous two releases. Why did you decide to record a best of?
Rich: We just wanted to do something a bit different when we launched the website and use it as an opportunity to create a bit of interest in the band as we haven’t had chance to finish our next album, due to the live commitments we’ve undertaken this year.
MR: Tell us about the songs you picked for the album. Why were they chosen to represent the Solitary sound?
Rich: We just picked the tracks that we thought best encapsulated both albums, hoping that it may encourage people who get it free to then buy the albums in their own right.
MR: Where can fans buy your first two albums Nothing Changes and Requiem?
Rich: From our perspective they are best getting them from www.solitary.org.uk/shop/ or at shows as we get the majority of the royalties, but they are available all over the internet. Amazon, ITunes etc, they are also on EBay but we won’t get anything for them I wouldn’t imagine.
MR: You have a brand new website and you are offering the album to anyone who signs up to become one of the Unidentified. What is the Unidentified?
Rich: It’s a track we’ve written for our next album, about the human trafficking of eastern European women. We just thought it sounded more appealing than calling it the Solitary mailing list.
MR: What does it mean to be one of the Unidentified?
We intend to release important news first to those on the mailing list and let them hear exclusive bits of new releases and offer discounts for merchandise.
MR: You have said that “every band offers fans the chance to sign up to a mailing list, but we wanted it to mean something”. Does this attitude carry over to your live performance? How do you make a Solitary show stand out?
Rich: We just make sure we are good at what we do and put the hours in practicing to keep in shape. The music and show are intense and you have to be able to pull that off without thinking about what you are doing. So that means we play the set from start to finish without stopping a couple of times a week. We also keep our songs short and make sure they fit together well, long songs and mid paced stuff doesn’t tend to work as well.
MR: Being a Preston band, what are some of your favourite venues in Preston, and indeed farther afield?
Rich: We don’t play Preston to be honest, we’ve always found Yorkshire to be good places such as the Riverside in Selby or the Snooty Fox in Wakefield, we’ve had some great gigs in Bolton but we’ve played that many places it’s hard to pick a favourite I think the Tache in Blackpool before it got knocked down and Trillians in Newcastle has some special memories.
MR: What are your best, worst and craziest live experiences?
Rich: Any time you get a reaction to your songs makes it worthwhile, I always smile when I see people going mad at a show and I think this is what Metallica feel like all the time. Worst I would say the Talbot in Stoke on a wet Wednesday night on our 2003 UK tour, no one showed up I think in the support band didn’t bother either. We played about 6 songs and it’s the only gig I’ve ever done with a coat on and my hair tied back, I don’t think we got paid either. Another show near to Stoke looked as though we were going to end up playing to other bands as there were just a couple of lads playing pool, but when we went on a load of kids showed up went mental and ripped their shirts off we filled the whole place with dry ice. But once we’d finished they disappeared, so that one was very bizarre but up there with the best of them.
MR: You have recently played two big festival spots, Hellfest and Dragonfest, what were those experiences like?
Rich: With Hellfest it was D.A.M’s first gig for 21 years so it was good to have got them on the show and to have see them, I really enjoyed it as it took me back to being a kid. Turn out wise it wasn’t as busy as we’d expected, the only similarities to the French Festival is the name. Dragonfest was great it’s a doom metal festival, so we were a bit out of place being a thrash band, but we went down really well everyone was really into us and we got them all moving which is what we are all about. One of the highlights for me was the fact that Paul the singer from ‘80s thrashers Slammer came to watch us he’d not been to a metal gig for twenty years and said he really enjoyed it and it took him right back to when they were doing it. It’s always great when people who’ve inspired you take their time to come and support you it makes it all worth it.
MR: You yourselves have been going for twenty years, how would you sum up the experience?
Rich: I think your expectations change over time, there’s been a fair amount of disappointments but when things have gone right it’s worth all the effort. We’ve been to a lot of places and experienced a lot as a result which wouldn’t have happened if we hadn’t formed the band. We’ve made loads of mates along the way so it’s all been worthwhile.
MR: What is next for Solitary?
Rich: We have a show in Bolton with DAM on 25th October which is part of the Almageddon three day event so that should be good and then we are recording a live album in Selby on Saturday 15th November, that should be out early next year and we will then lock ourselves away to complete the next Studio album which will come out in the summer. We’ll hopefully back that up with some UK festival slots if we are lucky enough to get on them.
MR: Finally do you have a message for all our readers?
Rich: Go to the website and sign up to the mailing list so you can get some legal free downloads of our music and if you like what you hear let us know