Alkira

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AN INTERVIEW WITH RYAN QUARINNGTON

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“It was never our intention to start playing thrash, it just kinda happened!”

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The South Australian metal scene has never been stronger and proof of this is right in front of you in the form of thrash band Alkira. The foursome have just unleashed their sophomore album ‘Klotho’ on the world and drummer Ryan Quarrington recently sat down with HEAVY Mag for a chat about the album, what’s coming up for Alkira and how they sort of fell into the thrash genre.

Born in early 2010, Alkira began when vocalist Kyle Simpson and Quarrington began jamming together. “It was never our intention to start playing thrash, it just kinda happened!” laughs Quarrington. “Kyle and I started jamming in high school with the initial intention of starting a Sex Pistols cover band, but I didn’t have a ride cymbal at the time so we played Sabbath and Marilyn Manson covers instead,” he explains.

“After high school we kept jamming with a few different people and began writing originals which had a thrash metal vibe to them, most likely because we were, and still are, both 80s-era Metallica freaks. After a year or so we found Greg and Sean who shared a similar ethos, and the rest is history,” Quarrington says. Even though Alkira have moved away from Sabbath and Manson covers, there is a staple Sepultura cover in their set and Ride The Lightning has found it’s way onto ‘Klotho’ as a bonus track.

Covering such a classic and adding it as a bonus on their latest release is a great way to showcase the differences across the thrash landscape as there have certainly been a lot of changes from the 80’s to today’s music.“Musically, the diversity within the thrash metal genre is one of the most appealing things about it,” Quarrington says.

“Just look at the range of different styles of the originators in “The Big 4” and the teutonic thrash movement. I think over time thrash bands have just continued to incorporate more and more influences into their music, particularly the more extreme elements of black and death metal, so it isn’t necessarily all just down-picked riffs and skank beats anymore,” Quarrington continues. “I don’t care much for the “that ain’t thrash” school of thought – if it’s got skank beats, energy and attitude then it is somewhere on the thrash metal spectrum. Obviously the production quality has improved since the 80’s as well, but I personally don’t think that has resulted in better sounding albums overall.” And for ‘Klotho’, the production on the album reflects this.

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“We’ve never been keen on the over-produced, quantized sound of many modern metal albums, so on ‘Klotho’ we wanted to get a big overall sound while still maintaining real, natural tones. That was one of the reasons we chose to go with Erik Rutan and Alan Douches for mixing and mastering; they always manage to perfect that balance,” Quarrington says.

‘Klotho’ has been in the works since early 2015 but it wasn’t until October that the band really started to focus on the writing process. “The story of the album is a continuation from our first album ‘Juggernaut’ and centres around the themes of rebirth, karma and religion. It is definitely a step up musically from our previous releases, but the songs came together really easily. We tried to incorporate interesting, unconventional song structures whilst still maintaining the core elements of a good song, which I think we achieved,” Quarrington explains.

“As with all our releases, all of the songs were written in the jam space. Someone might bring a single riff, a musical section, or even just a song idea and we will jam on it and go from there. The songs were then refined over a period of 6 or so months until we were happy with their final form. Everyone contributed equally to the music on this album, though the lyrics and vocal patterns are all written by Greg and myself, and no-one has ever brought a song to the jam space and said “learn this”. That just wouldn’t work in Alkira and I think that is why all our songs have so many different influences and styles sprinkled throughout them.”

The influences of the previously mentioned teutonic thrash and big four thrash bands are clearly stamped in the music that Alkira writes but what you might not pick are the left-of-field influences that define their particular sound.

“I would say that we subscribe to the same philosophy as Kirk from Crowbar – writing heavy music with 70s pop sensibilities. Particularly in the way we try and structure our songs and have some sort of “hook” to our choruses. Pink Floyd, Bowie and Coheed and Cambria are a big influence on the album concepts and lyrical content, and I’m a huge Dio fan so I always try to channel him when I am writing lyrics as well. Additionally, the creepy organ and sound effects on both KLOTHO and Juggernaut are partly inspired by Marilyn Manson,” Quarrington says.

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Fans of Alkira will be able to hear these influences for themselves as the band round out 2016 with two more gigs, one in Collingwood at The Bendigo Hotel on December 10 at the ‘Bodies on Bodies Thrash Festival and then the launch of ‘Klotho’ at the Edinburgh Hotel in Adelaide on December 17.

No strangers to the touring circuit, Alkira plan on hitting the road hard in 2017 in support of ‘Klotho’ with a tour planned for June alongside Queensland thrashers Malakyte and Victorian black thrash band Requiem. Hopefully they do plan on getting overseas again as their recent tour of South East Asia was a huge success.

“Touring South East Asia as main support to Havok was definitely a highlight. We were huge fans of the band prior to the tour, so to get the opportunity to share the stage with them in front of those crazy Asian crowds was incredible,” says Quarrington. But touring is never quite all it’s cracked up to be and Alkira have definitely experienced both in their days on the road.

“Our first interstate shows in Melbourne were the perfect example of the highs and lows of touring, The first show was at the Central Club in Richmond with Teramaze, Harlott and more but it wasn’t well promoted and bombed badly – so badly that we had to fork out our own money to pay the sound guy! However the second show was at Cherry Bar with Frankenbok, Decimatus and Envenomed and is still to this day one of the best shows and afterparties that we have had on tour,” he explains.

“The hardest part about touring Australia is the distance between capital cities and the lack of support for mid-week gigs, meaning national tours have to be spread over several weekends which increases costs. Adapting to some of the shitty backline gear you get supplied (especially in Asia) can also be a challenge!” But issues or not, Alkira love to be on the road so pick up a copy of ‘Klotho’ now and keep an eye out for them at a venue in your town soon.

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LISTEN TO ALKIRA

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