The Encyclopedia of Australian Heavy Metal(Dark Star) is a thorough listing of most, if not all, of the bands to have been born in the land down under. This is the third revised edition of the encyclopedia lovingly compiled by long time fan Brian Giffin. In his opening he shows the reader just how many people and how much work goes into creating a book of this depth and length. The worldliness of metal is also emphasized. It is clear that Giffin takes Australia’s role on that world stage very serious.
Giffin’s desire to highlight Australia’s presence in global metal is not misplaced. The only Australian band most average music listeners can name is AC/DC. Even then, many mistakenly believe they are from the United Kingdom. Interestingly the encyclopedia seems to confirm that AC/DC are the biggest band to come out of the country. The entry on them is one of the longest in the entire book. One third of the book based resources in the References section are solely written about them. While it is good to acknowledge this part of Australia’s history it also makes the reader wince since the goal of this encyclopedia is to introduce people to all the country’s metal offerings.
This encyclopedia is one of the most in-depth there is out there when it comes to sheer length and number of bands mentioned. Although this is a testament to Giffin’s thoroughness and love for Australian metal it can present itself as a setback. Many of the mentioned acts only have a single sentence to describe them. A good chunk of others read like a “Where Are They Now?” article since there is so much overlap with band members and the formation of new bands out of defunct ones. This is where one wonders if being a completest has been given favor over accessibility. The book may have been more clear and engaging if important bands in certain sub-genres were highlighted and defunct ones were mentioned in the biographies of newly formed bands where appropriate. In defense of the smaller bands being included, there are some interesting entries one may not have heard of otherwise. One such case is the description of Circadian which reads, “Circadian is an enviro-centric one-man doom band…” It makes the reader wonder just how specific one can get with their music approach.
While the encyclopedia is a great example of how passionate metal fans are, it is likely not something casual listeners will be interested in. It is easy for the entries to seem never-ending as the whole work could use more visuals. The wiki version that Giffin mentions in the opening is better for those who just want to look into a few bands from this part of the world. Credit must be given to the man for opening readers’ eyes to just how much music there is to be discovered; especially considering all 342 pages of the encyclopedia is just on metal.
King Diamond’s appearance on this past summer’s Rockstar Energy Drink Mayhem Festival became the talk of the summer as metalheads were eager to catch his elaborate show on a larger stage. This follows his 2014 North American tour, which also marked his return to the touring scene following his time off due to various health issues that plagued him for a few years.
This marks King Diamond’s first appearance on a US touring festival that took the band across the country. While the band has played various European summer festivals, they have found subtle differences with the US ones. They had just completed the first night in San Diego, CA and are about to perform at Devore, CA on the second night of the tour.
“Exactly it’s a quite different thing actually in the USA, I must say. It’s great. It’s just different in all ways I guess,” said guitarist Andy LaRocque.
“Last night was really good. San Diego – first opening night was really good,” said guitarist Mike Wead.
“We had a good time. Even the places are a little different from Europe. It’s a different atmosphere. Everything looks different of course. Different organization – it’s great,” added LaRocque.
Andy LaRocque of King Diamond. Photo Credit: Kevin Estrada
They spoke about the big differences between the Euro festivals versus the ones in the US.
“No rattlesnakes in Europe!,” said LaRocque.
“The weather is different. It’s hotter here. Like Andy said, the organization behind it is a bit different. It’s still a festival and if you’ve done a few or a lot of them, you’ll feel familiar with the system pretty quick. It takes a couple of days and then you’ll understand how everything works,” said Wead.
“The big difference with this festival is that it’s the same bands tour around the US, compared to festivals in Europe where there are different lineups on every festival. I don’t think there are touring festivals in Europe,” added LaRocque.
“We used to have Sonicsphere but I think they went belly up. So we don’t have it,” concluded Wead.
Mike Wead of King Diamond. Photo Credit: Kevin Estrada
Having an hour long set time during the tour, LaRocque explained how they picked what made up their set list. While fans each have their favorites, the band managed to select the core tunes that highlighted the main points in their history.
“We try to make a good blend of theatrical stuff that fits on the stage and also what the audience wants, and the different time eras too. So I think what we have now is a good mix of that, which I think works really well. The first show was last night and I think everything was in a really good flow. [It was] very intense. We covered up everything. It’s really hard to fit in everything in one hour of course but this works.”
Pontus Egberg of King Diamond. Photo Credit: Kevin Estrada
They took part on a line that featured Slayer, Hellyeah and Devil Wears Prada on the main stage, and a side stage consisting of Whitechapel, Feed Her To The Sharks, Thy Art Is Murder, Jungle Rot, Sworn In and many others. While much of their audience traditionally older, they have found a growing number of younger fans showing interest in their music and live set. LaRocque shared his theories behind this.
“Well you could speculate it. There’s been a lot of hyping on the internet, of course, since he got with his health. I don’t know really to be honest why it happened. There were still a lot of things going on in the background, even though we were not playing. Since we came back, we are now able to play bigger places and reach out to a bigger audience. It seems like our fan base is bigger than ever. One of the reasons is we never have been into having internet sites like Facebook, which we created during that period of his illness. That made it grow also.”
Photo Credit: Hillarie Jason
While King Diamond took his extensive time off of the road, the rest of his band kept busy with other things. Aside from the band, each member have their own respective projects they work on to keep busy in the meantime.
“I have a studio and produce bands. I’ve had the studio for over 20 years. I’ve been doing that in theory itself, when we’re not doing anything with Diamond – not touring, not recording an album. I’ve also had different projects with different musicians,” said LaRocque.
“Same with me – studio stuff, loads of session work as a guitar player, and doing records with other bands,” said Wead.
“I only joined the band [in 2014]. I’ve been doing totally different stuff. I’ve been playing with different bands for as long as I can remember, but last summer I hooked up with these guys and it’s been a sweet ride ever since,” added bassist Pontus Egberg, who happens to be the newest member of the band. He joined the band in 2014.
King Diamond. Photo Credit: Kevin Estrada
During the downtime, LaRocque admitted that he did come up with rough ideas for new songs but was mainly waiting for King Diamond to recover physically before proceeding.
“We really didn’t do anything with Diamond at all. We just talked often – me, King, the guys in the band and management. I actually honestly wrote a few songs in the meantime. It’s still waiting there to go back there to listen, see if any of it could be used for the next album. I’ve got four, five or six songs. It’s nothing focused or serious, but it might be useful.”
“We’re just waiting for King to come back and took it from there. As soon as he was good enough health wise, we started to do festivals. It started out in Europe and it turned out great. We only did two festivals the first summer back in 2012. It turned out really good. Everyone was like ‘wow! Cool that you guys are back.’ The next summer we did some more festivals, and that was last summer. Then we got the chance to do this. We also did a US tour in October and November (2014). So this is the first festival tour here in the US for us. I’m happy we could do it. As long as he’s fine with everything, with his health and stuff, we will continue.”
In terms of a timeline towards their long awaited new record, LaRocque clarified where the band stood on this.
“We have a few song ideas but nothing worked out yet. We were supposed to start working on new material this summer, but then this festival came in between, which we are very happy for. Once we get a break, we’re going to start working on it. It will probably be early 2016 that we start working on the new material. That’s the plan.”
Approaching the songwriting process, they had spoken about some of the changes including have various options on where to record. Despite this, the writing process stayed somewhat similar to past records.
“It’s mostly King and me who writes the stuff. So what he does is sitting down with now his computer. He used to have this old tape machine type of thing to record. He programs the drum machine and then he sends it to me. I listen to it and we bounce things back and forth. That’s what we usually do.”
“But for the next album, we’re probably gonna record the drums in a studio in Dallas since the drummer Matt [Thompson] is from Dallas, and King lives there. That’s the most convenient thing to find a studio there to track the drums and come over to track the guitars as well so King could attend the process. Maybe the bass too – I don’t know. We’ll see. Pontus has got his own home recording studio too so he could record that.”
“I usually record my leads by myself anyways. Andy is the same. He’s more focused. I don’t mind doing it in the privacy of my own studio,” said Wead.
“Now, King has his own studio so he could do his vocals there. Then we decided him coming over to Sonic Train Studios, which is the name of my studio in Varberg. We’re going to mix and master the album right there,” added LaRocque.
Photo Credit: Hillarie Jason
He gave a preview of their forthcoming album: “I mean it’s going to be the King Diamond stuff…that’s for sure. But when it comes to lyrics and stuff, I don’t really know what he has in mind yet. He told us he has some ideas but nothing I want to talk about right now.”
In terms of King Diamond’s health, LaRocque had praises on this subject for him. “He’s better than ever, I would say. He has to take care of himself but when it comes to his physical things, it’s like wow…he’s doing so much better. Eating healthier and all of that stuff….quit smoking, difference in performance.”
What about King’s love of coffee? He claimed in past interviews that coffee and cigarettes, which he has since quit smoking, were the secret to his voice. “Not that much any more. He’s like…cleaned up!,” LaRocque said with a laugh.
“I don’t know if that’s a good secret or not. I think now he realized that maybe it wasn’t such a good idea.”
With a band name like Feed Her To The Sharks, it does give off an Australian vibe to it in an odd way. Band guitarist Kim Choo talked about his home country of Australia and playing partial tour guide about their growing heavy music scene.
“It’s been a while since a core band from Melbourne has actually toured internationally. I think the last one that I can remember might be The Red Shore or someone like that,” he said.
“There’s some awesome music from Australia. We’re just lucky to be friends with a lot of the guys. The Thy Art Is Murder guys have been helping us out a lot on our tour in Europe with them and now at Mayhem. There must be something in the water down there but we love playing heavy music down there. It shows with all of the awesome bands that are coming out.”
Feed Her To The Sharks at Rockstar Mayhem Fest 2015 – Albuquerque, NM (via Facebook)
Their first taste of playing a festival came in 2013 when they took part on Warped Tour Australia. “We played with some awesome bands – Parkway Drive, The Amity Affliction,” he said.
“It was so hot that day. I know some of these Mayhem dates are going to be really hot. Everyone had red faces and sunburnt. Warped Tour was a really great show. We were the first band on in the morning and there were people lining up to get in. They were stoked. It was a good show.”
While a slew of Australian bands have found their way onto the world stage recently, Choo shared one band who he felt could be one of the next good finds there. “There’s a cool band that’s local from our hometown called Atlantic. They’re sort of like metalcore sort of stuff – a pretty fresh approach so check them out if you get a chance. We had them on an album launch show back at home. They’re super hard workers. It’s awesome hanging out with them. They’re really cool dudes.”
Lastly, Choo made a suggestion for those looking for shark related activities to do in Australia. Being that sharks have been found around Australia, Feed Her To The Sharks would be the people who would know where to find the real thing.
“If you go down to Adelaide, there’s a place called Port Lincoln and you can go shark cage diving with the Great Whites in there. It’s mental. If you ever get to visit, do so.”
Australia has produced quite the number of new faces within the metal scene and Feed Her To The Sharks has swam under the radar and has been drawn the attention of fans everywhere they have ventured into. This summer’s Rockstar Mayhem Festival is the band’s debut North American tour and are soaking in the somewhat overcast spot in Southern California.
“It’s been an unbelievable experience so far, even though it’s been only one day,” said guitarist Kim Choo, about their first 48 hours on American soil in Devore, CA. “You sort of see from us from being from Australia, we see DVDs of bands playing festivals of this sort of scale, but it’s so far away for us. Now that we’re here playing these shows, it’s just an awesome experience. We’re stoked.”
He shared his thoughts about being on the touring festival and what it means to be part of this tour, especially being it is their first time across North America. “We were a bit worried because we were playing when Hellyeah were just finishing and before King Diamond. So obviously there are two separate stages. People definitely came back and checked us out. We were stoked.”
“There were people who even know a lot of our songs. [It was] one of the biggest crowds we played in front of – all of these Mayhem dates seem to be crazy. Today it looks like the upwards of 5000 people here. It’s going to be mental. We’re really looking forward to doing this tour.”
Feed Her To The Sharks at Rockstar Mayhem Fest – Devore, CA (via Facebook)
They are thankful for all of the support they have had behind their latest album Fortitude, and having friends on the tour made the transition onto this festival tour an easy one.
“We’ve gotten a lot of support from our label Victory Records and we’ve got some mates on this tour. The guys in Thy Art is Murder – they’re an Australian band as well. We just finished touring Europe with those guys. We’re not new to playing shows, but I guess we’re new to doing the festival runs. So far so good – we’re really enjoying it.“
Any specific acts they’re looking forward to seeing this summer? “Slayer. I grew up listening to a lot of thrash. Fuck yeah. It’s going to be sick. King Diamond’s going to be killer. Obviously Thy Art is Murder and Whitechapel is going to be brutal. I can’t wait.”
Fortitude is their third album overall and their first album released internationally. Choo explained after shuffling lineups since their start in 2008, they were able to bring in players who would help shape their sound into what is heard on the release.
“We never really had a full lineup for the first two records (2010’s The Beauty Of Falling and 2013’s Savage Seas). We’re basically in between members and lineup changes. Luckily we came across some rad dudes who really wanted to do this and treat this seriously. We got the right lineup.”
“So for this album compared to the first two, we had a full lineup. We had everyone who was 100% forward. Everyone worked towards the same goal and that’s what makes this record, in my opinion, so much better than our previous two. We’ve got everyone working together in unison to make the best record that we can.”
Aside from Choo and vocalist Andy Van Der Zalm, the band had not held a steady lineup until recently. “We’re the only two original members. We’ve got Marinos (Katsanevas, guitars), Rob (Davies, bass) and Andrew (‘Stix’ Coterell), who are the other three members. Rob’s been around for a bit longer, since Savage Seas, our second record. The other two guys came along when we were writing this new album. It went really well.” “We found the right guys who could take our band to that next step. We’re stoked that we found a really cool group of dudes that we enjoy being friends with and we enjoy doing business with.”
Their band moniker does definitely sounds Australian, as sharks and the whole oceanic vibe paints a vivid picture into what their sound could be like. “The first song we wrote as a band is off our first album called The Beauty of Falling called ‘Misery.’ The opening line to that song is ‘feed her to the sharks’,“ explained Choo.
“At the time we wrote that song, we didn’t have a band name yet, but it kind of stuck with us. We thought it was a cool sound theme. It sounded good on fliers. It stood out for people. It’s got that Australian sort of feel to it.”
After the Rockstar Mayhem Festival, they have a couple of upcoming tours back home. “We have a couple of tours back home in Australia. We’ve got one with Nile and Unearth. It’s going to be sick. It’s in November. I can’t say anything about the other tour quite yet. It’s not announced yet. We’re going to be doing the rounds of Australia a couple of times. We haven’t played there for a while now. We’re hoping to head back to Europe and doing that run again. We had a really good response there so we’re going to try to go back and try our luck.”
Feed Her To The Sharks at Rockstar Mayhem Fest 2015 – Albuquerque, NM (via Facebook)
While the band is enjoying their time on the tour, they escaped the opposite season known now as winter back home. Technically, Feed Her To The Sharks scored by getting two summers this year and Choo is stoked about this.
“It’s so good man to be away from Australia, or Melbourne in particular while it’s winter there. People think it’s Australia but in Melbourne it gets cold in winter. It’s really cold. We don’t get snow or anything crazy like that, but it’s cold. I’m so glad to be here right now.”
Following his headlining run last fall, King Diamond brought out featured characters from various points in his career (Grandma from Them and Conspiracy), as well as blowing through longtime favorites such as ‘Sleepless Nights’ and keeping diehard fans on their feet. King himself looked and sounded powerful throughout their hour long set, as he powered through song after song, and immediately won the crowd over.
After beginning their set with a laser show with a variety of Slayer logos flying above the stage, they broke into ‘Repentless’ (the title song from their forthcoming album in September), as well as their two other previously released yet new songs (‘Implode’ and ‘When The Stillness Comes’). Much of their set list consisted of staple tunes from past set lists, which they powered through and get the eager fans on their feet. Imagery of missiles and word from various songs (the chorus of ‘God Hates Us All’ from ‘Disciple’) flashes throughout their set and amped up the crowd.
The Victory Records side stage (one stage versus multiple stages on past years) featured a vast array of artists ranging from brief yet powerful sets from Jungle Rot and Thy Art Is Murder, alongside new faces such as Sworn In, Shattered Sun and Code Orange joining into the mix as some of the up and comers within the scene.
Overall, Rockstar Mayhem Festival endured a hiccup year lacking a strong enough headliner and support acts with drawing power. The long run will see how many of these acts will overcome this and be a band to look out for. As for now, time will tell whether this was a good move or not by the organizers of this festival.
May 02: Impericon Fest – Leipzig (DE) (Thy Art Is Murder only) May 03: Impericon Fest – Amsterdam (NL) (Thy Art Is Murder only) May 04: Logo – Hamburg (DE) May 05: Kulturhuset – Orebro (SE) May 07: Fangelset – Gothenburg (SE) May 08: KB18 – Copenhagen (DK) May 09: Alter Schlachthof – Lingen (DE) May 10: Four Rooms – Leipzig (DE) May 11: Chemiefabrik – Dresden (DE) May 12: Blue Hell – Budapest (HU) May 13: Viper Room – Wien (AT) May 14: Circolo Svolta – Milan (IT) May 15: Dynamo – Zurich (SW) May 16: CCO – Lyon (FR) May 17: Trix – Antwerp (BE) May 18: Schwimmbad – Heidelberg (DE) May 19: Glazart – Paris (FR) May 20: Sub89 – Reading (UK) May 21: Marble Factory – Bristol (UK) May 22: Garage 2 – Glasgow (UK) May 23: Slam Dunk – Leeds (UK) (Thy Art Is Murder only) May 24: Slam Dunk – Hatfield (UK) (Thy Art Is Murder only) May 25: Slam Dunk – Wolverhampton (UK) (Thy Art Is Murder only)
Europe and UK, we are excited to announce our final tour before Holy War is released. Coming with us next month is…
The official lineup for the 2015 Rockstar Mayhem Festival has been confirmed and will be venturing out this summer. Watch the trail for the tour below:
Slayer King Diamond HELLYEAH The Devil Wears Prada Whitechapel Thy Art Is Murder Jungle Rot Sister Sin Sworn In Shattered Sun Feed Her To The Sharks Code Orange Kissing Candice
2015 ROCKSTAR ENERGY DRINK MAYHEM FESTIVAL: Jun 26: Sleep Train Amphitheater – San Diego, CA Jun 27: San Manuel Amphitheater – San Bernardino, CA Jun 28: Shoreline Amphitheater – Mountain View, CA Jun 30: White River Amphitheater – Auburn, WA (Seattle) Jul 01: Idaho Center Amphitheater – Boise, ID Jul 03: Ak-Chin Amphitheater – Phoenix, AZ Jul 04: Isleta Amphitheater – Albuquerque, NM Jul 05: Red Rocks – Denver, CO Jul 07: Harrah’s Council Bluffs – Council Bluffs, IA Jul 08: Eagles Ballroom – Milwaukee, WI Jul 10: Kilpsch Amphitheater – Noblesville, IN (Indianapolis) Jul 11: DTE Energy Amphitheater – Clarkston, MI (Detroit) Jul 12: First Midwest Bank Amphitheater – Tinley Park, IL (Chicago) Jul 15: Molson Canadian Amphitheatre – Toronto, ON Jul 17: Susquehanna Bank Arts Center – Camden, NJ (Philadelphia) Jul 18: First Niagara Pavilion – Burgettstown, PA (Pittsburgh) Jul 19: Xfinity Theatre – Hartford, CT Jul 21: PNC Bank Arts Center – Holmdel, NJ Jul 22: Meadowbrook (Bank of NH Pavilion) – Gilford, NH Jul 24: Jiffy Lube Live – Bristow, VA Jul 25: Xfinity Center – Boston, MA Jul 26: Nikon at Jones Beach – Wantagh, NY Jul 29: Aaron’s Amphitheater at Lakewood – Atlanta, GA Jul 31: Whitewater Amphitheater – San Antonio, TX Aug 01: Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion – Houston, TX Aug 02: Gexa Energy Amphitheater – Dallas, TX