Drawing the largest crowd over the Bloodstock weekend to the New Blood Stage, TEN TON SLUG’s mission was to simply destroy and let the music do the talking, which is exactly what happened; as their intense performance became the most talked about from the festival’s impressive selection of rising band’s.
‘TEN TON SLUG – ROAD TO BLOODSTOCK 2016’ documents the guys journey from their home in the West of Ireland, over to Scotland for a series of crushing shows, before taking to the New Blood Stage on Saturday afternoon at Bloodstock Open Air, before a crowd that exceeded over two thousand punters, who had heard the tales about the band’s ability to generate a level of heaviness, not witnessed since the early days of Neurosis, Sleep and Crowbar. You can access the mini-doc below:
Never a band to let momentum stagger, TEN TON SLUG are busy writing new material, following some recent shows in the UK in November and are focusing on their recently confirmed addition for Planet of Zeus’s Irish performance tonight (November, 24th), as well as scheduled dates in Germany in December and their highly anticipated return to the UK in March 2017.
OD – Looking back on your triumphant performance at this year’s Bloodstock Festival, what was running through your mind when you were taking to the stage for what was the biggest gig of the band’s career?
SEAN – Well I remember being nervous! (Laughing) The fucking stage is bigger than some venues we’ve played in the past!
MICHAEL – It only really kicked in on the morning of the performance. We were working away, not even thinking about it…. well not fully! But then, on that Saturday morning, I was like – “OK shit! It’s TODAY!!!” after three months of planning.
Sean – Yeah, I was a bit nervous when I went onstage first, but then I settled into it after a while and just really enjoyed the whole experience. There was just so many people flooding into the tent. At one point I looked up and it was backed up all the way outside, which was just insane to see. I’ll never forget that.
OD– So what has the vibe been like in the camp since you won Metal 2 The Masses Ireland and getting to play Bloodstock as well as the shows in Scotland and the UK? Has the whole thing felt like a rollercoaster or was it like “right: we have a job to do”?
MICHAEL -Yep! To hell with work. This is part of the dream of what Ten Ton Slug wants to be doing on a full-time basis.
SEAN – We have all been taking time off work to commit to the various events that we are performing at. We have been to the UK for some shows in Coventry with our brothers Two Tales of Woe and will also be playing with Planet of Zeus on November 24th in Dublin’s On The Rox (click here for official event link) and then we’re over in Germany in December and then back to the UK in March.
Our daily lives and work get in the way for sure but this is a priority for us all. From the moment we knew we were going to be playing Bloodstock, our focus has been 100% on moving forward, meeting the right people and making the best impression we possibly can. We’re constantly working promos, practising, writing new stuff and primarily getting our EP ‘Brutal Gluttonous Beast‘ release last month (October). We have been given an opportunity that most don’t get and we are truly grateful for the experience, but the reality is that at the end of the day it’s about the work ethic within the band or any band for that matter. You get it once if you’re lucky. We got that one chance, thanks to Bloodstock Metal 2 The Masses Ireland and we intend to make the most of it and work as hard as we have to in order to progress further and get the Slug into the minds and ears of an international audience. , so we want to make the absolute most of it.
OD– Now that the EP is released, are you focusing on new material and expanding the live setlist options?
SEAN – The EP was released last month (October) and it’s been going down really well with both the press and especially the punters. At the moment our live show would comprise of most of the EP, but as I mentioned before, we are constantly writing, so as soon as we feel some new material is ready for the live show, then we’ll be unleashing it in full force!
OD – There is no doubt that ‘Brutal Gluttonous Beast‘ is one of the most crushing releases to come from the Irish Metal scene in quite a while. Did you have any idea that it would have been received so well, not only from Ireland but also the UK?
SEAN – All we were focusing on was four tracks lasting 28 minutes and making it as heavy, sludgy and groovy as we possibly could. We couldn’t be more pleased with the reaction from the press and are itching to constantly get out there and play live. The reaction has really inspired us to push even harder with our determination and focus.
MICHAEL – We put a huge amount of work into what we do. We are constantly planning and thinking ahead. There is also a level of professionalism that we abide by when making decisions. When you are part of a band you have to realise that it’s also a business and you need to be constantly on your toes and ready to make logical decisions that are in the best interest for the band. For instance, we deliberately stalled the release of our EP, as it was getting in the way of our prepping for Bloodstock. Yeah, it would have been great to have the EP ready for Bloodstock, but it would have been a rushed job and ultimately something that we were not entirely happy with.
SEAN – We approached Bloodstock with the mindset of an opportunity to promote who we are and what we’re about. That worked out really well for us as we met a huge amount of contacts, which is priceless.
OD – With the big bands that were performing at Bloodstock such as Slayer, Anthrax, Fear Factory etc. were you a little apprehensive about Ten Ton Slug’s brand of sludge / doom winning over the audience?
SEAN – Well take a look at Crowbar. We love them. They’ve been around for 25 years and they’ll never be as big as Anthrax. So I guess there are certain limitations based on the style that you play. You never know – they might be. For us, we’re not really thinking about that. We have music, we wanna play it to people, let’s go and do our best to promote it, and let’s see where we can go with this.
MICHAEL – We’re not trying to copy anybody else. We’re not trying to pretend we’re something we’re not. This is what we do, we’re just gonna do it.
SEAN – The whole experience has been fantastic so far. If you asked us in January “What do you think you’ll be doing by August or Christmas?”, what we would have planned then would have been completely different than what has actually happened. Metal 2 The Masses was amazing like that. You never know what’s gonna happen. We got knocked out in the heats and got brought back as a wild card. Then got into the semi-final, then the final, and then we won! That was just insane.
OD– Having had the experience of playing Bloodstock, how do you feel that Irish metal fits in with the festival setup in terms of new bands and old coming over to play here?
MICHAEL – It’s a perfect fit. It’s a level playing ground and is simply about the music. Pure and simple.
SEAN – Any of the bands that played in the M2TM final could play any of these stages. Take for instance Zhora – they played Wacken Open Air, Two Tales of Woe killed on the Jager stage: they could easily play the Sophie Stage. I love Two Tales of Woe, man. They’re great friends of ours, but their music is just …(shakes his head and smiles) amazing!
OD– Looking back I’m guessing that you’re glad you took the chance to take part in Metal 2 The Masses?
SEAN – Absolutely! You have to put in the work. It’s the same as anything. You might look at Metal 2 The Masses and think that something is handed to you, but it’s not! The opportunity is there but you have to work to get it. Every band in the final was able to play here, we were lucky to get it. But it only happens if you put the work in.
MICHAEL – I think we made the most out of the opportunity we were given and it paid off. Thankfully Simon (Hall, Bloodstock booking agent) liked what he saw in us and we were lucky enough to get chosen to play the New Blood Stage. We had put in a huge amount of work making sure our performance was the very best we could offer during that time period.
SEAN – People at Bloodstock did not really know us. I mean, they were not exactly “Oh my God that’s Ten Ton Slug (laughs)! Nobody knew us at all, which was really a huge test for us. We just knew that we had to take hold of the opportunity and spread the word of the ‘Slug’ far and wide over the weekend. We just got out there and went totally grass roots with it all and started talking to people.
I have to say, the atmosphere over at Bloodstock was just amazing and so friendly. My advice to any other bands that are taking part in Metal 2 The Masses for 2017 is to go for it and if you’re lucky enough to play the New Blood Stage like we did, make sure you get out there and chat to people, get to know them, let them know what the craic is, if they come along to the show, that’s great. If they don’t, there’s no harm.
OD – What have been the highs and lows of your journey from the first gig you ever had to right present day?
SEAN -Oh Jesus… erm….., Well it started off with me and Micheal in a shed in Connemara in 2008/2009, jamming with friends and stuff.
MICHAEL – I was just learning how to play the drums. Fuck it – I’m STILL learning how to play the drums!! (laughs)
SEAN – Ther have been a good few highs so far which is great. Like, the whole Metal 2 The Masses experience. All of it! Even getting knocked out in the heat, waking up at 7am the next morning and having a flat tyre in the middle of Dublin in the pissing rain, that made getting to the semi-final and the final so much sweeter, to get there and to have that opportunity was fantastic. But to play the Siege of Limerick was amazing. It’s always good to play The Siege, as it’s run by some great people who have a huge passion for what they do. There’s also been playing over in the UK with Two Tales of Woe and of course the release of the EP. There have been loads of highlights.
The way you get to be in a position where you’re comfortable is, stuff comes up that you don’t expect. You work through it – you overcome it. You can say to yourself “OK I’ve done this. If that happens again, I can deal with it”. My first gig with Weed Priest (whom we also play with), a string broke straight away. I sorted it. So then it happened once or twice more, but I was able to deal with it. you can prep and prep and prep, but the unexpected is the unexpected, and when it happens, you move through it and you get on with it.
MICHAEL – Things will come up that will change that plan. You just have to run with it.
OD– Regarding your musical influences growing up, that got you interested in playing music in the first place, can you share some with us?
SEAN /MICHAEL (Simultaneously) CROWBAR! (Laughing)
OD– Why is that?
MICHAEL – Because, CROWBAR!! (Laughing) Next question!
OD – Ok moving on! What was it that flipped you onto rock music?
SEAN – Well, there are a few albums like The Offspring – Smash… in 1994. I was listening to that when I was “whatever” age and I hadn’t listened to much stuff like that before. I heard that and I still have a massive soft spot for Offspring. I love them. That was like a gateway for me because then you get Metallica and then you get your Big 4 (Metallica, Megadeth, Anthrax, Slayer) and then you branch off to something else. heavier stuff you know?
MICHAEL – You get into niches then you start exploring. For me, it would have been Alice in Chains, Dirt. This was back when I was 11 or so, I think. Maybe 12 before I really got into them… through you! (Looks at Sean) He was exploring, and in turn showing me! I remember going to see them with Guns N’Roses in the RDS in 2006. It was the Irish Download – the summer before I went into secondary school. Alice In Chains was the band that made me think “Fuck yeah man, this is awesome!”
TEN TON SLUG will be performing with PLANET OF ZEUS tonight (Thursday, November 24th) in Dublin’s On The Rox. Tickets are available at the door. Please check DME Promotions for updates.
‘BRUTAL GLUTTONOUS BEAST‘ is out now. Get your copy via this location or simply click on the cover art graphic below.
Bloodstock Metal 2 The Masses Ireland are taking applications for next year’s campaign which begins in January. If your band would like to play at Bloodstock alongside Amon Amarth, Testament, Hatebreed, Possessed, Hell and many more, then click on the graphic link below and sign up as soon as possible as there are as little as four spaces left.
Interview – Shaun Martin
Editor – Oran O’Beirne
Photography – Down the Barrel Photography © 2016 (all live images apart from crowd perspective at the end of the feature)