В данном разделе находятся интервью, взятые авторами нашего портала за период с октября 2006 г. Для навигации по разделу пользуйтесь поиском по интересующему вас периоду времени и по группам.

Хотите обсудить интересующее вас интервью? Посетите наше LJ-сообщество по этому адресу.

Onslaught

Onslaught
Generation A

23.07.2020

Архив интервью | Русская версия

It took British thrash metal veterans Onslaught seven years to finally come up with a new album. It’s fair to say that  the only real reason for that is the band’s awesomeness. With metalheads being so greedy for Onslaught’s “VI” album released in 2013, the band spent almost 3 years on the road. Then, in 2016, their iconic “The Force” turned 30, and it was time for an anniversary tour. The demand was so great, that the band had to travel around the world for several more years. Surprisingly, after such a ridiculously long tour Onslaught weren’t drained at all and recorded a new album in no time. Covid-19 struck first, though, and the pandemic have paralyzed a lot of bands but not Onslaught. While other musicians are putting their new releases on hold, Onslaught have decided to proceed with “Generation Antichrist” no matter the circumstances. Exactly what every proper thrasher should do.  

I suggest we start with discussing the upcoming album, “Generation Antichrist”. I’ve seen you saying several times that it has a more political angle but you’ve never been too specific about it. So, what political issues and events inspired the lyrics?


There’ve been lots of political issues here in the UK in particular. I totally disagree with what’s been going on within the last two years with the Brexit situation in the UK and, obviously, with the way they’re handling the virus situation. We just get told no truth, basically, they’re just full of lies. The government is just covering their own backs all the time. They are misleading, they are blaming the people now instead of themselves for their failings in the hands of coronavirus. It’s just incredible. So, certain tracks like “Bow Down To The Clowns” are very fitting for what’s going on in England. And “Empires Fall” is kind of very very close to the issues which are going on around the world as well. Some of these tracks were actually written before some of this stuff kicked off, which is kinda spooky in a way. But it’s very very relevant at this moment in time.

Maybe you’re a prophet…

Haha, yeah, you never know!

The title of the album — “Generation Antichrist” — refers to the modern generation which has very little interest in religion. What else can be said about that Antichrist generation, how would you define it?


The way I approached it, it’s basically exactly what it says, you know. I look at my kids and their friends and even back at the generation of myself — they have no interest in any kind of religion whatsoever. They would laugh, basically, if you gave them the Bible, and say: “What’s this? I don’t wanna read this, I don’t wanna look at this, I don’t have any interest in this.” I think that kinda applies to a massive percent of modern kids. In the western world anyway. I can’t really speak for the Middle East and places like that because I know nothing about that and it really doesn’t interest me. As far as I can see first-hand, there is no interest in religion and the longer it goes on, this is gonna slowly fade away. They are brought up on science, they understand where the human race came from based on what they are taught at school scientifically. They know there was no man and a woman placed in a garden to build the human race. It’s just nonsensical and they understand that. So yeah, for me they ARE the generation antichrist. When I was being brought up, I was forced into religion by my family and that’s probably why I’m so resentful of it nowadays. I was made read the Bible, was made sing hymns and it’s certainly not what I wanted to do when I was between 4 years old and 10 years old. You don’t want to be dragged to church. That’s really where my anger has come from. But even then when I was a kid, very few of my friends were into religion and that’s carried on. This one in particular, I think, is really the generation of antichrist. They don’t believe in Christianity and they never will. And their kids are gonna be the same, so it’s definitely on its way out, I would say. I’ve said my piece on the new album quite strongly and I continue to do so because I just don’t agree with how it works and what it does. I have my right to say that and I will sure say that.

Is it really possible for a human being to live without holding anything sacred, though?

Yeah, I think so. As I said, all these things are purely mythical and there’s no truth in it but it doesn’t mean to say that I’m telling somebody they can’t have something to believe. And that’s fine, I mean I’m not a preacher, I don’t preach to them, I’m just telling my personal kind of story and making my feelings felt but I have nothing against people who wanna follow religion and stuff. I don’t go out of my way to protest outside churches and say, “You shouldn’t do this! You can’t do this!”, I mean, that would be wrong because everybody has the right to believe and say what they feel. We do get people at our shows sometimes protesting and making threats, not in earnest, I would say. But that’s alright, I should be allowed to say what I like and as they should be allowed to do as they wish. I’m not forcing it on anybody, it’s just the way I am.

It looks like these days people are getting more concerned with social issues which got me thinking — maybe it can lead to a new thrash metal revival…

Yeah, that’s something we started to write about a little more on the recent albums. Maybe in the early days it was kind of story-telling, kinda mythical stuff but I think on the later albums it’s definitely been more reality based and I take most of my inspiration from what’s going on around me in the world. There’s been a lot of bad things going on. Obviously, we’ve had all these terrorism problems facing ourselves, the Americans and even yourselves in Russia — you’ve faced it, so we’ve made songs about these kind of topics and obviously that’s where the lyrical things are coming in. I think there are a few tracks on the new album that really come from that because I’m kinda getting concerned, in particular, about what our government are doing. They have — very cowardly — sort of taken our rights away without people knowing it. And a lot of damages are being done under the cloak of this virus. They are using the virus to do many things that aren’t really cool for the British people. I think that’s happening in a lot of places. I don’t know what we can do about it but I try to make people notice that with the songs and it’s getting through.

Good thing you’re releasing your album this year, unlike lots of other bands. We’ll have something to help us through these darkish times.

Yeah, we’ve seen many bands postponing their albums. For example, I think our label, AFM, are only releasing probably around 5 albums or something like that from June through to August, which kinda shows you what’s going on with the bands’ mentality of faking it. We didn’t really agree with that. I think, obviously we gonna lose a lot of shows over the summer and going on into autumn. Maybe we won’t play another show until 2021 but we had to think of ourselves - the album is ready to go, the fans have no music to listen to or no festivals to go to, or live music, so let’s give them some new music and keep the band fresh in their mind until the shows are allowed back again. We looked at Testament and Lamb of God. They both had new albums out during the virus, so they were looking at that from a positive angle and obviously thought about it very carefully and decided to put out their records. So we thought we’d do the same. Hopefully, we’re gonna get a lot of attention from metal fans because we are doing that. And it should put us in a good position by the time we come out of the virus, to get the live shows rolling again quickly, so, hopefully, we gonna be ahead of the game, of all the other bands who delayed and who are gonna have to wait to put their records out. But we’ll be ready to go. Fingers crossed, it’s gonna work for us.

So, there was no pressure from the label as to when the album has to be released?

No, not at all. In fact, one of the reasons was to actually help the label because, like I said, there are very few releases going on. Everybody decided to pull their albums and wait until later in 2020 or even early next year. The label is going to be in trouble, you know. They have to keep the releases going. We didn’t want to jeopardize the label in any way. I think we’re gonna get a lot more promotion from the label as well, as we are one of the only few releases going out. We get a lot of attention from all the PR staff. So, we look at it in a positive way. Hopefully, it will help us and hopefully it will help the label as well.

Personally, I don’t really get why bands are postponing their releases. Being unable to go anywhere, people are obviously hungry for new music…

Yeah, it’s really weird. I’m not complaining because I think it’s gonna work for us! I think, they got scared and we were brave.

I’ve heard an opinion that the whole coronavirus situation will become some kind of a culling and smaller bands will simply cease to exist…

Yeah, I think that’s very much the case, you’re right there. And I think not only a culling of bands. I look at our government and what they are trying to do — they try to cull the people, to be honest. That’s my theory on this. They’re trying to get rid of the old people and the less well-off people. I’m convinced that’s the way they are looking at things, as much as they say they are not. I look at countries like New Zealand and South Korea. They looked at it in a completely different way and Scotland here in the UK as well. They took a really good attitude to it, you know, whereas the majority of governments just really don’t care. I mean, the Americans are just getting themselves in a serious deep bad situation at the moment. It’s just completely out of control. And again, people are just getting lied to. That’s incredible what’s going on there. I mean, the situation is just getting worse and worse and worse every day. And again, they just blame the people. It’s crazy.

What exactly do you mean by good attitude? I’m afraid I’m actually not very well aware of what’s going on in Scotland and New Zealand…

Well, Scotland is part of the UK but they’ve got their own government. What they have is called devolved government, just like in Northern Ireland, so they make most of their own decisions. Their outlook and attitude to the virus is totally different. They stayed lockdowned longer, the rules were tighter there. And the benefits are showing. The deaths have virtually stopped and everything’s rapidly improving there whereas in England it’s completely different. Our government is completely useless, completely on a different path to the rest of the UK. I think if we had followed Scotland, Ireland and Wales, we’d be in a lot better situation but we don’t seem to wanna do that here. They opened up all the bars and restaurants last weekend for the first time in three months and already some of them are closing again. It’s just madness. I think the way to run it would be to lock down everyone for a month, a really tight lockdown and then we’d see the proper results and just get the virus gone.  

That’s very interesting, but I think we should get back to discussing the new album. What I find very curious about it is that while lyrically it deals with political and religious topics, musically you go back to your roots, your early punk and hardcore influences, which kinda brings together two different eras — 1980s and recent years. Do you feel like there are a lot of things that resonate with each other?  

Yeah, for sure. I think in the history of all our albums, every album sounds different to the last one, which we like to do. I don’t like the idea of making two albums that sound the same, I don’t see the point. I think that would be unfair on ourselves and unfair on the fans to, basically, make another version of the previous album. So, we looked at our previous album entitled “VI” which is probably one of our most technical records in terms of thrash metal. Very complex riffs, lots of time changes, lots of layers in the music. So we thought, “Where do we go with this? Do we take technical to the next level? Or do we strip things back?” We decided to strip things back and go back to, as you said, the roots. Let’s make things really raw and aggressive once again, which, is what the fans want at the moment, I think. So, yeah, we stripped the songs back — shorter songs, less layers in the production, extremely raw and aggressive production, no samples on the drums, all the natural drum sounds in the recordings. And, basically, we looked at the earlier material to sort of see how we were capturing the vibes and what we were doing back then. And I think it worked, I mean I took some riffs that I wrote back in 1983, 1984 and used them on this album. From songs that weren’t recorded. And it just kind of adds a little bit of punkiness back into the music even though it’s obviously total thrash metal. It just brought that rawness and openness to the songs in 2020 and I think we’ve made a great match of 1986 in 2020 with the sound and the style of the songs and the nature of the mix. We’re blown away with what’s come out. People will really notice what we tried to do and that’s great for us. Because it means our plans have come to fruition.    

You already have one single out, the second one will be released on July 17th and you also have a new music video on the way. Honestly, I don’t entirely understand how people decide which song gets a video, who decides on the aesthetics etc. Could you tell us more about that?

Obviously, the first track, “Religiousuicide” has a controversial edge to it because of the lyrical content and what it’s about, how we put it across. So, we decided to leave it to the record label, to decide on the choice of the single and video there, because we knew there could be some issues. And there was. Basically, Facebook wouldn’t allow us any kind of promotion. You could post it but we weren’t allowed to promote it at all. YouTube stopped any kind of promotion on this song, we weren’t allowed to advertise that song across YouTube, or promote, or anything. The track’s there but we were allowed to do nothing with it, basically. It was kinda tough in that way but it got people talking about the band again. People realized they love the song and it’s done just great, so we let the label run on that one. But the second single (“Bow Down To The Clowns”) for which the video is coming up on July 17th, was purely down to us because we felt it was a strong song in the climate of the world, what’s going on right now. It’s very relevant. Plus it’s a very heavy song with a lot of hooks and we’ve made a very special video for this song. It’s kinda unknown for Onslaught in particular and thrash metal in general. It’s a full-on production video, which we had to do in lockdown, so, it was kinda tough, but it’s very cool, it’s come out really really good and I just hope everybody’s gonna like. It’s very good for thrash metal as well. I’m sure people are gonna take to it. We know the song’s strong, and just hopefully they’ll like the video too.    

How do you feel about shooting videos in general?

Haha, I hate it! Especially this one. As I said, this one was very different to previous ones. It’s fine, I can get onstage, I can play in front of a million people and it wouldn’t make me think twice, I wouldn’t get nervous, nothing like that. As soon as this video camera goes on and when we are shooting, it’s completely different because there is no audience in front of you. All you’ve got is bloody camera guys and the rest of the band watching you. It’s just so unnatural. I just really don’t like it. It’s horrible.

And you also have to repeat the same thing over and over again.

Yeah. I think, we filmed it 2 weeks ago. And you have to do 5 or 6 times over and over, and over, as you said. It’s just, “Aaargh no more, I just wanna stop, please!” Especially when you see the video, you’ll understand what I mean even more. Yeah, it’s not nice.

Well, it’s still nice that music videos exist as a genre.


Yeah, yeah. People just don’t realize the pain the band goes through when they’re making it for them.

Speaking of music videos in general, which one would you vote the best music video in metal history?

Well, that’s a difficult one. I think the Slayer’s “Repentless” is a good one. I must say that is an exceptional video. I really like the video from Korn, “Freak on a Leash”, it was kinda cool with the animation and stuff. Also, what springs to mind is another Slayer video… I can’t remember the track… they were in Egypt with the pyramids and stuff (“Seasons in the Abyss” — ed.). That was kinda cool too. I’ve always said they sound a little different and that’s what we’ve tried to do on this video, we’ve tried to go away from the normal ones just like we always make — just with the band playing with the drums there, the speakers and everything. We’ve gone away from that on this video. It’s a gamble but I think it’ll pay off.  

You’ve been working with AFM records for almost 10 years now. What made you choose them in the first place and did you have offers from other labels?

They approached us back in 2010 about putting some tracks on the compilation album that they were doing and we were out of contract at the time. We had offers with a few other labels. I just like the idea of being on a Germany-based label, you know. Germany is obviously a huge market in Europe for metal. We felt it was the best place to be for Onslaught. The UK is not very strong in terms of metal these days, so Germany was the obvious place to look. AFM came up with a great deal for us, so we decided that was the place we should be. Things have worked out pretty well. In fact, we’ve just renewed our contract, just before we started recording this new album. I guess it kinda shows the commitment we have to them and they have to us. It’s like being in a family. We know the guys at the office on first name terms, very personal. I’d phone up the boss any day of the week and be able to speak to him, you know. So it’s not like it was back in the day when we were signed to one of the huge labels, like Polygram or something like that. it’s very personal and it’s very cool, so yeah, we’re happy where we are. They said they’d do big things for us on this record.

And it was mostly because of your shitty label that you quit music in the beginning of the 90s.

Yeah, yep. After “The Force” album in 1986 we’d done massively well world-wise, thrash was getting extremely popular at the time and all the major labels were looking for bands to sign. I think we had a choice between three different major labels in the UK to sign to. Unfortunately, we chose the wrong one. We signed to a label basically because they came up with big money signs and lots of bullshit. Instead of listening to the other labels who were looking at maybe developing our career over a long term basis, Polygram were looking to make us the UK’s version of Metallica within one album. They wanted instant success with no real plans for us over a long term. And it didn’t work. The album was a huge selling album, “In Search Of Sanity”, don’t get me wrong, but it didn’t match what they wanted. They wanted Metallica straight away. No band in the world could ever do that. ‘cos it didn’t happen to Metallica overnight, they worked many many years to get where they were. So, how Polygram thought they were gonna make us into the UK’s version of Metallica within one year? This is plain crazy. It was a great selling album but for me it just wasn’t a typical Onslaught album. The label made too many decisions, they took all the artistic control away from the band and they were calling the shots basically. They changed the vocalist, the made us look how they wanted us to look and it’s just crazy. So, all the fun was taken away from being in Onslaught and things kinda started to fall apart from there. And I guess within two years of releasing that album the band had split and gone our separate ways and that was the end. Instead of what should have been, that was the trajectory for the band. It just brought us down. It was a shame ‘cos there was much potential but they took it all away.

You sold most of your music gear and didn’t play the guitar for 10 years. I never thought it’s really possible for a musician not to play music for such a long time and feel fine…

Yeah, well, that kinda had to do with bad vibes with Onslaught, how it ended. I did a couple of other projects after that. One of them which is really really cool was in 1993, I think. We were working with Iron Maiden’s manager at the time and the potential was massive. We were on the verge of some really big things. And then for some bizarre reason it just fell apart again and I really don’t know to this day why. So, I was just so disillusioned with music and the music industry at the time. That was it. I just had no heart left to play music after what happened with Onslaught and happened with these other projects. The guitars just went away and they never came out again for 10 years. It was tough but I just had no interest.    

And you literally didn’t touch it?

No, not really. Nope.

But what were you doing during those years? I think everyone needs an outlet for creative energy, so what was yours at the time?

I went back to what my whole family had done, basically. Everybody in the family was working in construction. And I used to do that before. I mean, when I was at school, I used to go to work with my dad and uncle. From, like, 9 years old I used to go to work with them. On a weekend when I wasn’t at school. So, I knew a lot of things and I’d seen a lot of things happenning when I was growing up, so I knew how to do things from a very early age, so that’s what I did. I went and set up my own construction company and I put everything into that. It was still kinda creative but just in a different way.  

How did you identify as back then? Now you can say, “I’m Nige Rockett, I’m a musician”, but back then you were Nige Rockett… what?

(laughs) A construction worker, I guess, who used to be a musician. But now I’m both.

So, you have a day job?

Yeah yeah, I’ve still got a construction business now but that’s cool because it allows me to take me as much time away from that as I like when we’re on tour. If I want to tour for a year, I can go and tour for a year and that’s fine, there are no problems. It gives me the freedom to do as I wish.

But doing this much touring isn’t as easy for other band members you had in the past. I believe that’s why there’ve been so many line-up changes. You seem to handle it pretty well.


Yeah, it’s not as glamorous as everybody thinks, you know. It can be quite tough. For example, the last American tour we did was in the U.S. and Canada. It was 42 shows in 42 days. It was in November, so there was a lot of snow on the ground in Canada. And we were doing 12-14 hour drives between shows sometimes. We went from New York up all across Canada right from one side to the other and all way down the States to California. With one day off. So you can imagine how tough that is. And another time in South America when we were on tour, we did 20-24 flights in 22 days. So, it’s insane, you’ve got to be tough. I mean, you really have to enjoy it to succeed at it and make it work for you. A couple of the guys have really struggled with that. that’s why they obviously quit the band because we do like to tour a lot. That’s the way it is but some people just can’t go over it. Personally, I love travelling and for me it’s a lot of fun. It’s hard work but it’s the reward of being in a band. We get to play in all these amazing places in front of all these amazing people. And however much money you’ve got, you can’t buy that. That’s what I tell everybody. We’re in a very fortunate position to be in this band. But it’s not easy, it’s tough.

Have you acquired any new habits since you’ve started touring so relentlessly?

(laughs) It depends on where you go. No, I’m trying to be a bit better than I used to. I used to do things in excess a little too much. When you go to excesses, things get a little bit harder. If you have too many parties after shows. We used to drink bottles and bottles of Jägermeister after the show and everybody would just be wiped out. When you get a flight in, like, 4 hours, it’s not clever, really. So, we’ve kinda cut on that stuff a little bit, trying to be a little bit more sensible. It’s fun when you’re on a tour bus but when you’re flying, it’s very very different, so yeah, we had to cut on a few excesses.  

So, what qualities should a touring musician have?

You have to be… This is something we learnt from Motorhead, actually, in the very early days. You have to be very respectful of people around and try and kinda see when people aren’t having the best of times and finding it a little bit difficult — to be able to give people a lot of space. Sometimes it’s not possible but I think the biggest thing that we were taught by Motorhead was respect for other people who you are working with. If something goes wrong, then something can fall apart very quickly. Respecting spaces is the number 1 thing that people need on tour. We try to do that, we’ve followed that rule all along since we toured with them in 1987 and it’s okay. It’s not always possible but it does work.   

And I guess Dave Garnett, your new singer, has this virtue?..

Yeah, I met Dave 4 or 5 years ago, maybe longer. Even more than that. so, we know he’s a cool guy and he’s actually best buddies with James (Perry), our drummer. They basically grew up together at the same time. And he’s been waiting for this opportunity forever and he’s still kicking himself, he can’t believe he’s finally in this position and in this career. And everyday he texts me, ‘I can’t believe this is happening, man! This is incredible!’ I sent him the new video yesterday and he was like, ‘I can’t believe this is going on! This is me!’ He’s such a great guy and I know everything’s going to be super cool with him.  

Speaking of line-up changes, have you ever heard of the Ship of Theseus paradox? So, here’s the thing. Theseus is a mythical Greek hero, the founder of Athens and there is a ship he once sailed. As time goes by, the ship gets older, some of its parts rot, rust — and they get replaced with newer parts till there’s no original parts left. The big question here is — is it still the same ship or not? Of course, you’re the founding member of Onslaught and you’ve always been in the band, but as for everyone else, there’ve been numerous replacements. How do you ensure Onslaught is still the same ship?

Hm, that’s a great question. I guess I’ve been sailing this ship from 1983 as the founding member and basically the guy who’s written the majority of the material and the lyrics and the vocal parts all the way through since day one. I think the overall Onslaught ship isn’t gonna change — dramatically, anyway, because the basis or the structure of that ship that has always been in place with the same person. Jeff Williams, our bass player, has been with Onslaught now since 2006, so that’s 14 years. He runs the band with me, basically. We make all the decisions together on what happens so that’s kinda very cool and for me in particular to have somebody like that alongside me. And as you say… yeah, it was a good analogy. As some of the parts of the ship are rotten and fall off, you make newer and better parts to that machine. Which is what we always try to do. We’ve got some amazing musicians in the band but when they decide to leave you have to look for something even better if that’s possible. That’s no disrespect to any of these guys whatsoever but you always need to improve the situation when something goes wrong which is what we do. And I think we’ve done that every time so far. Especially with Dave Garnett. That was the biggest one we’ve faced because obviously our long-term vocalist (Sy Keeler) was departing the band, so we had to be very very careful to make sure we got that right and I think we got it right. The fans seem to love what's going on and yeah, we’ve got the best drummer in the band that we’ve ever had and for me, the best lead guitarist, so we’ve steered the ship in the right direction and I hope we can keep the ship afloat for some time. I’m very happy with where we are.

Onslaught on the Internet: https://www.powerfromhell.com/

Special thanks to Irina Ivanova (AFM Records) for arranging this interview

Interview by Lena Pashko
Photos courtesy of AFM Records
July 8, 2020
© HeadBanger.ru

(p)(с) 2007-2019 HeadBanger.ru, Программирование - vaneska, Monk. Дизайн - ^DiO^                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       наверх

eXTReMe Tracker