Get Desecrated: Interview with Riley Strong

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I’m on the phone to Riley Strong, frontman for Melbourne thrashers Desecrator, who after a short break from the stage and a line-up change have just released a brand new ten-inch vinyl EP titled Down to Hell. Riley’s jovial drawl mixed with a dash of dry Aussie larrikinism has made for some pretty amusing conversations throughout the interview, especially when I ask him about the development of the new vinyl EP.

“[The EP] kind of bookended what we were doing beforehand. These songs had been on the way up with the old line-up for a while, and I wanted to pay the old line-up the respect of recording them.
“We’ve released everything bar a studio album! We’ve released a live album, a cassette tape which is hilarious, and this ten-inch vinyl, but we’ve never actually released a studio album! It was never until a punter one night pointed it out to me and said “When are you going to release a studio album?” and you know, he was right! When ARE we going to release a studio album?! Maybe we can release it on an 8-track or something; every obsolete way to release old-school thrash possible!

“We always wanted to do a vinyl. You can fit four songs really nicely on a ten-inch, and the songs just sound sick on wax. At the moment, vinyl is something that if people want to hear it, they have to pull it out and actually have to dedicate the time to hearing it.”

In support of the new EP, Desecrator will be doing a tour across the country with Perth death metallers Malignant Monster titled “Hellbent for Murder”. Desecrator will do a number of shows on their own throughout South Australia and Victoria, and will be joined by Malignant Monster from December 7 as both bands venture to Western Australia, followed by a number of shows up the eastern coast before wrapping up In Brisbane.

“Every state will get Desecrated!” Riley laughs. “We’ve played with Malignant a few times now, and the one thing that seems to work with our two bands is that even though we’re different styles, we’re just as intense in an “old” way as they are in a “new” way. We just seem to relate on an extreme level. It’s something that’s going to bring in different audiences. They put a lot into their shows and they’re a really professional hard-working act, which is something we strive to push ourselves. As far as hopping on the road with aband, it just seems to make sense on that kind of level.”
This will be Desecrator’s first national tour since 2011, and will also be the first for a few new faces in the band. After the departure of bassist Mono and drummer Matt late last year, Riley has ushered in an entirely new line-up he believes is the strongest yet.

“It’s been a whole new band. I ushered in Scotty the lead guitarist when we did the Warbringer support last year. Over the Christmas period we had some downtime, and Mono and Matt both called it quits for various reasons. That gave way for Jared, our new drummer. I was really blessed to find him. We didn’t want to openly advertise that the line-up was changing, but through word-of-mouth he was actually recommended to us by Dave Haley of Psycroptic.”

“At the same time Paulie, who I’ve known for years personally, came in with a very different bass approach. Mono was very much a pick player, and it was like having a third guitarist in the band whereas Paulie is a finger player, he’s a Cliff Burton/Steve Harris style bassist. I didn’t think a finger player could pull off the style of music we were playing, but he pushed me hard and said “Give me a chance! I can do it!” As soon as he got in there, it just felt right.”

Before wrapping up the interview, Riley and I also have a chuckle about the brand new music video released from Down To Hell’s lead track Balancing on a Blade, which shows more of the Aussie larrikin side to Desecrator’s tough metal exterior.

“There are too many music videos of metal bands playing in warehouses, or against brick walls or in alleyways with lights on, it’s just been done too much! There’s too much seriousness in metal these days! It’s so good to do something that’s a bit outside the box! It was just fun, and it makes people laugh, yet it still fits into what we believe. Just because metal’s heavy doesn’t mean it has to be serious all the time! I love metal that makes you smile, and I think that’s what the clip has done for people. They can have a laugh and they don’t have to feel bad about it, and I think that’s fucking great!”

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