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A Q & A with Riley Strong of Desecrator
Well it’s a not so funny story actually. I was sitting in my garden whistling the theme to the never ending story and a brightly coloured butterfly landed on my arm, as I gazed down at its fragile magnificence it suddenly looked me straight in the eye and said “bring back 80s thrash metal”. That and in 2008 I saw Death Angel and Overkill gig in Europe and decided to stop playing in other people’s, other genre bands and form a thrash metal group. Seven odd years later here we are.
HM: Who are some of the major influences on your style and what are some of the other bands in the genre that you look up to?
RS like a lot of metal teens I grew up on the big 4 of thrash and from there delved deeper into European thrash metal like Destruction and Sodom. It wasn’t until writing for Desecrator though that I really got the bug and started hitting up all the older guys I knew to introduce me to bands like Flotsam and Jetsam, Forbidden (who we were lucky enough to tour with) and Demolition Hammer.
HM: Thrash metal is obviously very different to what it was in the 80s. What are some of the main differences that you see about being in a thrash band today?
RS thrash metal was almost the ‘pop’ of metal in the 80s for lack of a better term, it was new, fresh, faster, more energetic and pretty cutting edge for the time. That era is passed now and so is all that impact, heavy metal has a different role in people’s lives and live music is almost a last bastion of connection for organic styles like thrash. In my experience though by stripping away all of the support the industry once gave the genre you really get back to the original message and the true core of the ‘art’ (again for a lack of a better term). Not sure if I answered the question but happy with my rant nonetheless.
HM: Tell us a bit about the rest of your band. Who are they and what makes them tick?
RS they are all guys struggling hard to balance life and music just like myself. Desecrator demands a lot of members, we tour a lot and we don’t make much but we all share a belief that our band is worth the sacrifice and will only continue to grow in this way.
HM: You’ve done a fair bit of touring, what are some of the highlights and conversely some of the challenges about being on the road? The obvious highlight has to be (OverKill front man) Bobby Blitz’ laugh, right?
RS Mate we’ve met and travelled with some absolute characters along the way. Bobby was an absolute legend to us on tour as were Overkill’s whole crew, in fact I believe there is footage of us covering W.A.S.P with their drum tech and Kirk from Crowbar both on vocals if you hit up youtube. Sure there’s low points along the way but when you’re out on the road living a dream that so many have and do few get to access it’s not worth dwelling on them for even a moment.
HM: Time to get down and dirty. Have you got any wild tour stories you can share with us? Surely you have some embarrassing tales of your band mates on the road?
RS I fell off a table playing guitar and smashed my ankle in Brazil, Scottie got detained in LA and we had to leave him behind on the way to Mexico, Jared got pneumonia in Russia and lost like 10 kilos in a week, Gerry has been consistently voted most favoured by woman on the tour package since joining the band, there are literally millions of moments but they are best told in person over a few beers and exaggerated tenfold.
HM: Okay, talk us through the process for your new album. When were the creative seeds sewn? What inspired the lyrical themes? What have you done different musically compared to your previous music? Has it been a group effort, or has one or more members shouldered the bulk of the writing?
RS We listened to The Crowns’ Deathrace King on a few interstate drives and all agreed that a thrash metal version of that album should exist, fast forward a year and bam, album.
HM: What else can you tell us about the new album? Title? How many songs? Release date?
RS we said 2016 but that has turned out to be untrue. Here’s to 2017 with a title and all however many songs. It is done though, promise.
HM: You recorded with Jason Fuller at Goatsound Studios. What can you tell us a bit about what it’s like working with him and how it’s different, if at all to what you’ve done in the past?
RS Desecrator have been rehearsing at his studio for a while and we wrote and refined the album tracks there so we felt very comfortable inside those walls. Fuller is the coolest asshole you’ll ever meet, he gives a damn about the music and the result but not enough to to be a nice person and we respect that, plus he’s got great studio gear with lots of faders and knobs and that wow’d us.
HM: Who are some of the bands in your local scene that you most enjoy playing with and why?
RS we’ve got gigs with Wildeornes and Harlott before the end of the year. Merry Christmas to my ears.
HM: Where can fans see you perform live? What shows, if any do you have coming up?
RS the next few weeks will be the last 4 shows of 40 something in our Skulls n Daggers tour. We’re hitting up Perth, Brisbane, Ballarat and Melbourne. All details are on social media and our website.
HM: Studio or live? And why? Is it the creative process or playing in front of an audience that you most enjoy about being in a band?
RS Live always because it’s thrash metal. Thrash is a verb, it’s an action, it’s a doing word. Let the thinkers think it’s not what we are here to do.