Interview: Savage Messiah

Before the show of Savage Messiah in Hillegom, Netherlands I spoke with Dave and Joff from the band.

What’s the story behind your bandname?

Dave: The name of the band comes from I was in a band together and I was very, very late watching Sky TV and I was going to the guide to see, you know, what I wanted to watch. And I am going to the movies and there was a movie on the telly called Savage Messiah. I didn’t watch the film, but I thought the name and I thought, oh, that’s a cool name and we did pick it up using it for the band.

Allright. Could you tell something about the history of the band?

Dave: Yeah, so we formed in 2007 and we had an independent release. It came out in the time when a lot of thrash bands started to come back and we got a little bit stuck up that movement and then we got time in 2009 with Candlelight Records, we did an album with them and we toured with Overkill and played with Death Angel. We left Candlelight, we finded Earache Records, when kind of this … of line-up came together and we did an album named Conscience and then we needed more touring with that and festivals. Then we did our third album called The Fateful Dark. I think it is our best record. For us it points the path we want to go in the future. It is sort of thrash, but it is not a thrash record, it is not typical thrash. We came up with a lot of those thrash bands like Evile and those bands, which are all great bands. We see our music is a bit different, a bit more classic heavy metal. I like that very much, I am very pleased with it. Classic metal and thrash combine forever.

What are the influences of your music?

Joff: All sort of things, we are really into the new wave of British heavy metal stuff, we like bands like Motorhead and Diamond Head, Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, bands like that, but also the thrash elements in our music come from bands like that, classic Metallica, Megadeth, Sodom, it’s a bit of a mix of the two styles and I think The Fateful Dark is a good marriage of the two styles, you hear a lot of that coming out in the record. Yeah, it’s a mix really, but we are taking our influences from all over the place. For example, we play a riff on the piano at the rehearsal or something and we change it into a metal riff.

Dave: We like things like that. We are currently writing for our next album now and too interesting for me is to see the direction of coming out and clearly natural again between classic metal and thrash, but this time it will be much more experimental right in front. I am more confident in writing and the cool thing about not being just a thrash metal band is that we can have a lot of variety on our albums and still sound like it’s the same band. All of our albums have lot of things going on. We do a slow song, we do an epic song or we do a thrash song. I think I hoped that nobody could look at it and say we are trying to be something like all, for really thrash albums that go commercial. We always said from the start we’ll do heavy metal stuff and kind of modern sometimes.

That’s what makes your music unique. You guys already released an EP and two full-length’s and now The Fateful Dark is released. Did much changed?

Dave: Yeah, everything really. I think the vision of the band never changed. I suppose it is very difficult nowadays for bands actually. You know, there are a lot of bands, the industry is not as structured as it used to be. Putting back in day, getting a record deal would be the start of you are on your way now, but now it doesn’t represent the same thing as it used to. It is very, very difficult and because of that, it can put a lot of pressure on members in bands. People change, it can be very difficult. We are in the coolest line-up for three and a half years, which is in metal terms today like an eternity. But I am still proud of that. For me, the spirit of the band is really captured on the last album.

What are the lyrics about on The Fateful Dark?

Dave: Very stuff, you know, some cliche heavy metal comic book stuff and we are inspired by Gandhi, the Indian pacifist. And some political, well not political, because that is too easy to say, but more thoughtful, philosophical. Not political in the sense of watching the news, that will be boring, that will make your music in a spirit of time.

Now you are on tour and you’ve already said you’re writing a new album, are there other future plans?

Dave: Yes, absolutely. We are quite busy till the end of the year. We got our headlining gigs, which is cool. We are halfway at writing the record and we’ve been off for a really cool tour, which I can’t tell you anything about, but if that happens that will be early next year, which is very, very cool and we are going over to America next year for showcases and stuff like that and that are things we are doing for a long time.

Joff: Japan.

Dave: Oh yeah, Japan. Yeah, we supposed to be going to Japan for 2-3 gigs because this year we finally got a record deal out in Japan with a company called Trooper Entertainment, who do Arch Enemy and Ghost and In Flames in Japan, which are cool bands and they found our album and they are going to take us to Japan.

Allright. This is the first date on your current tour. To what dates are you looking forward the most and why?

Joff: Every gig, we’re in a band, we just love playing gigs, we going to pick and choose the right gig, we will play everywhere and every gig is different, so you always enjoy a gig in a different way. But even if you have a small gig, the atmosphere might be awesome and they think what a killer gig, so yeah, every gig is different, we always enjoy it a different way, as long as we’ve got fans to play for, we are happy.

That’s cool. You also have some tourdates on this tour with The More I See. How do you look at them?

Dave: We like them, they are good guys. Gizz, the main dude, is a legend, he is one of the coolest guys in the metal world. He is really down to earth and that’s a lot of fun. That came about, because I was on a bike ride for charity and we met. And on this bike ride he was telling me it was really difficult to get gigs an get an agent and I knew exactly what he was talking about. And I thought we got to get him up and I say we would love you to play with us, I see if I could make that happen and thankfully it were. Because it is a nice guy and we are happy to him that favour.

Joff: I really am looking forward to play with them. He is a really nice guy and the rest of the guys in The More I See are really nice, so it will be a good few days with them. It will be fun.

Dave: And it’s cool because a lot of things we talked about, and I thought we got a touring, come play with us, I try to make it happen, people say things like that all the time in music and it rarely happen. I didn’t want to be the person that said, yeah we will make it happen and then nothing happens. But when we are together I felt like, good, I can be on my words.

When you could choose every band in the world. Which band will you choose to tour with?

Dave: Iron Maiden.

Joff: Yeah, Iron Maiden, man. If we really could play with Iron Maiden, I play the gig and I quit, It ain’t going to better than that. That would be amazing.

Dave: That would be amazing, yeah.

What advice would you give to young and starting bands?

Joff: Never give up, because you got so many people that start a band and they start doing a few gigs and stuff like that and they expect everything handed on a plate. It’s like how do you come like this or how do you do things like that. It’s because I worked for it, you know. If you stop, then someone else is taking all the chances that you’re not doing. So keep going, its the way of getting there, and its the way of getting attention really.

Dave: And be patient. It is a very difficult industry, nowadays it’s even harder and it’s getting harder and harder with time. It is a very difficult environment to start bands but that mean it is only a greater challenge. That shouldn’t mean you have to stop, be patient, be honest, be objective and be happy.

Joff: It does make it little bit more rewarding, because it is that much harder in a lot of ways. When you
do get that stroke of good luck or you do get that really good gig or something good happens, you really appreciate it, it’s like yes, oh, that felt good. You can feel really high about it, it may have to be something really small but when you so much battling against it.

Dave: Yeah, sometimes you have to be brave for it.

Joff: You have to get that little kick in the ass.

Dave: It can be one email or something. And sometimes things come up and they don’t happen. It’s kind of like, we had things, like big tours from really big bands, being offered, we even accepted it. Only at the last minute things change, it is a very political industry.

What is your definition of success as a band?

Dave: Enjoying.

Joff: Yeah, enjoying. I think you should enjoy what you’re doing, like against it all, because it is a hard slug. You’re touring and you want to pay the record, but you can’t and you can still get enjoyment out of it. It’s like a personal reward or something.

Dave: Yeah, and laugh about the stories. Every time we go away it is like a big holiday.  And I never want to lose that, even if our band goes to the next level, when we become more succesfull in terms of sales and other conventional ways. I will never going to lose that.

Joff: If you take a band like Iron Maiden, the biggest metal band that ever existed, in my eyes. They may not sell that much, but who cares? You look at them now, bigger than they ever were. Eventually they are just a bunch of guys in a band, only their van got better. They got a cool van.

What do you think about metal bands which are really big, and because they got old they lose public?

Dave: Yeah, I think it is the way it goes.

Joff: That would be, when I am fifty, supposing fifty is old. How old is Brian now?

Dave: He is in his sixties.

Joff: I think that would be absolutely going mental when you put it in time.

Dave: You physically can’t do it but you will, because you prolong the music. And if you prolong the music, because that is important, and you need to be fit to do that. In terms you take bands that too old to play and then they just sort of take a step back, I think that is absolutely the right thing to do.

But should you stop at when you’re big?

Dave: That depends, I mean, I think you should only stop if deep down you aren’t enjoying anymore for
ever reason.

Joff: If your heart is not in it, you shouldn’t be doing it. If you go to a show, and you think “Oh, another show” “Yeah, hello Cleveland, ehh” and you’re not happy on stage, you should stop with it. Because your fans see through that, and you’re not enjoying the performance and your fans aren’t enjoying. That’s when you need to stop. Time to call it a day off I think.

Dave: But with the classic metal bands, they don’t do it, because it is still a job, and if the band is making the money, you got managers involved. I have an example of working in a band, but only as a fan from the outside. I look at maybe Slayer and I think it is an example for a band. One of the great things Slayer when they were an original band. I know they have had a period with problems and everything. They are the same three guys. Jeff Hanneman wrote most of the classic songs. That’s an example, at least in my opinion how, and it is not to me to tell anybody to stop, but Slayer will carry on. Why? Because Slayer would sell out the show every night. Because it is the same energy they once were. Or is it a job?

Joff: Because as a fan you still go to a show of Slayer and say that was a cool Slayer gig. Even if it is not one.

What is the craziest thing that happened on stage during a performance of you?

Joff: It is going to be Barcelona.

Dave: Yeah, it is going to be Barcelona. We were on tour last year, and we were playing in Barcelona, sell out crowd an stuff. Someone made a joke putting one of a thong on the merchandise stand, having for selling to girls.

Joff: I said I put one on and invade the stage and dance around like an idiot or something. And we got
to Barcelona, the gig was sold out, it was packed, 600-700 people. So, I am going to do it, so I came running on stage in my boots (New Rocks) and a thong and as I walked from one side of the stage to the other I pulled one of the leads out of the guitar and I spotted it, like oh crap. So I picked it up, plugged the thing back in, but my balls were hanging out.

Dave: It was just one testicle and it was so funny. There is a video on Youtube if you google ‘guitarist
exposes his testicle during stage invasion wearing a thong’. It is on the Savage Messiah Youtube channel. You can see it there, if you want it.

Joff: It is not pretty.

Dave: I was on holiday and I was telling the story and I was thinking they don’t believe a word I am saying. They were like very interested. And I got the video to show them.

Where do you think you would be without music?

Dave: I don’t know.

Joff: Bored. I don’t know. Because music, not just playing bands and stuff, but music in general, it is been my whole growing up. Getting into bands, going to watch bands. I have never really known anything else. If I didn’t have music I don’t know what I have got to do.

Dave: I am the same. I am very happy that I have music. It is not just a career choice, it is a calling. It’s like I can do that, that’s what I am going to do.

Joff: The blood, sweat and tears you have to put in it, even if you getting nowhere, you have to do it. You have this thing in you that said, keep going, keep going.

Is there anything else you want to share?

Dave: Thanks for the interview, thanks to the readers for checking us out.

Joff: Thanks for getting to us.

Dave: And we hope you enjoy the show.

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