Malevolence: The Slam Dunk interview

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Recently celebrating their 10th anniversary, Sheffield’s Malevolence have toured with some of metal’s biggest names and have left a trail of scorched stages in their wake. The Midlands Rocks took the opportunity to speak to guitarist (and all round nice guy) Josh Baines just after their gig at this years Slam Dunk festival (reviewed here).

You’re fresh off stage. How was it?

Really good. Today exceeded yesterday. We had a circle pit around the sound desk and that’s a box I’ve wanted to tick off for a long time. It means so much just to play after everything that’s happened, the pandemic and the lockdowns, it’s just raised the moral of everyone in the band.

Yesterday was Slam Dunk North, today you’ve played the South. Have you noticed any differences with the crowds?

The crowd up North was a bit scruffier! I’m down with that.

You’re famed for your intense live shows. How do you get in the zone before you go on stage?

We’ve been playing together for so long now so we kind of know how it flows. We’ve played the smallest gigs you could imagine and now we’re playing festival stages and there’s been a progression. So, to have that many people come out to watch us is a dream come true. The build-up to a gig is always nerve-wracking, especially on days like today, worrying that all the gear works, but once you walk out there and the crowd cheers, you’re good to go. All the shows we’ve played this year have been festivals and we’ve been really well received.

You’ve set the expectation level pretty high with your live shows.

As I said, we’ve been in the band for so long, it’s always been about playing shows. The kick you get from playing is so uplifting, that’s all I want to do. We don’t have any pyro or play with backing tracks, it’s raw, we’re playing and that’s what you get. The energy that comes across is what we feel, and we want to transport it onto the crowd, and we bounce off each other; they’re loving it, we’re loving it and it just accelerates the whole process and I don’t think there’s any limit on that. We’re loving what we’re doing and that doesn’t look like it’s ending so hopefully that will be reciprocated. I think that helps us connect with people. We’re not trying to be flash, and we relate to people on a real level, we’re just some lads from Sheffield.

It seems that there’s a plethora of heavy bands coming from the north of England. I wonder if you’re tapping into a shared consciousness or are you a product of your environment?

I guess the north of England has always been the gritty part. What I like most about it is that every band has got their own sound and I think it is a product of the environment. I think the north is that way inclined, you make your own path.

Kim Quint

What did you do musically during the lockdown?

I wrote tons and tons of demos because we wanted to release a new record. We picked songs we wanted to use and worked through them. At the same time, we built a practice room in a warehouse so we can jam to our hearts content, upstairs we’ve got a live room with a vocal booth so we can track demos so we used the time during lockdown to create that whole space. It’s massively accelerated the creativity and productivity of the band so with the new album, we’ve had so much time to work on it, we’ve had the space to work.

Malevolence is totally DIY but what’s it like not having any external input?

It has its pros and cons but for us as a band it’s worked in a good way. In terms of a sounding board, we just use our mates. We’ve been doing that for years, we put a track on and if they’ve got a smile on their face, we know that’s a good point. We’ve got a good group of mates who will listen, they’ll sit back and listen and be honest.

Has the whole lockdown experience influenced your writing?

Yes. There’s a couple of songs that are about the general state of the world. We didn’t want to do one especially about Covid because that would have been a very easy thing to do, every man and their dog is going to have a song about Covid. So, we’ve scratched the surface a little bit and looked beneath it to see how it’s actually affected people but we didn’t want to be too negative; that’s not what we’re about. The music is energetic and if you’ve got some shit in your life you let it out in the pit. We hope people will relate to it and let out their anger and emotions in a good way.

In what category would you put the Malevolence sound?

It’s weird. I guess we’ve always been labelled as a hardcore band, I understand why because we’ve got some hardcore riffs, but we grew up listening to Trivium, Lamb Of God, Hatebreed and stuff like that and we sort of got more into hardcore and back in the day it seemed all we could play were hardcore shows so we got labelled as that but to us it’s always been metal. I suppose the aesthetic of the band isn’t too metal but when you listen to us the proof’s in the pudding.

You’ve played Download which is a predominantly metal festival and now the more punk-orientated Slam Dunk. What’s your crossover appeal?

I think it’s just the energy. We’ve got the parts that the metal guys will like and the fast parts the punk crowd might like, the sing-along and catchy lyrics. I’d like to think that it’s just good music that a wide variety of people like to listen to.

Finally, the bands been together for over ten years. What creates good harmony between you?

Partying!

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