Case in point, just take a listen to their critically acclaimed 2019 release ‘Bury the Pain‘, which saw the quartet pick up from their long hiatus and return in stellar form with a rejuvenated and visceral approach to today’s current heavy music scene.
Now with new vocalist Jay Walsh (Bull Riff Stampede) fronting the band, Xentrix are more energised than ever and currently working on new material that will be making an appearance later this year, hopefully by the time they hit the stage in Dublin’s National Stadium for Clang Metal Festival with Candlemass, Coroner fellow UK Thrashers, Acid Reign and many more.
Overdrive caught up with guitarist, Kristian Havard to talk about the bands legacy, their plans for 2020 and their return to Ireland this May.
OD – Last year saw the release of “Bury the Pain”, the band’s first new album in 23 years. When you were preparing for the release of the album, were you apprehensive about how it was going to be received?
KRISTIAN – Obviously there we were thinking “Oh will anyone like what we’re doing now? Will we have any relevance in what happening today in metal music?” But also it was a bit like “Well we are doing what we’re doing, and if people like it, then great and if they don’t, then that’s just the way the cookie crumbles”.
Me personally, I wanted to get back to the first two albums and carry on from there, so that was my take on it: in that, it was the album we should have released after ‘For Who’s Advantage”, because hindsight is a great thing to have and it was good to get a second chance to go back and say at the time; “This direction we thought was right, and looking back it doesn’t seem quite so much now”, you know?
We should have stuck to what we’re doing what times were different and things were changing… we were younger and we were trying to stay relevant and stay afloat because that was one of the problems that we had- to keep getting gigs and keep people interested so we were trying to change all the time.
But looking back now, I feel we should have stuck to our guns and stayed within the veins of the first two albums. That’s why I kind of felt that “Bury the Pain” goes back to those first two albums – that sort of feel, that modern edge, and we have a new singer and stuff so it’s all old and new really.
OD – Having been part of the UK thrash scene when it was exploding all over the world, do you find that the UK bands didn’t get a fair amount of attention to say, the American or German scene?
KRISTIAN – We certainly felt like that at the time. We always felt that in the UK, all the American bands came over here, and we never got to go over there. It was always; “It will cost too much money to send you guys over there”, and we were like; “Well they are coming here so what’s the difference”?
It seems to be a little bit more glamorous to be American at the time. They will come over and people go; “Oh there’s an American band playing”, and they were like; “Let’s go to watch them” but if it was a UK band there they go; “Ehh… we can watch them next week in the pub down the road“.
So yeah, it did feel like that but I don’t know. It’s not sour grapes… what happened, happened, and it’s just one of those things. But it definitely felt like that at the time.
OD – When Jay (Walsh, vocals) became part of the band, did you find that the new album really began to take shape?
KRISTIAN – Well the truth of the matter is most of the record had actually been recorded with Chris (Astley). He was like; “Oh I want to finish on ‘X’ date and he was turning down shows that we have been offered. We were like; “Well this isn’t going to work, mate. Either do it or don’t do it“.
So, then he stepped down and we had an album recorded already, so there was no point putting out and we just sat on it for a while. So when Jay came in, the first thing we did was go straight back in and re-recorded the vocals. We did record one extra track (Evil By Design) on the album. Originally, it was going to be an extra track and we though;t “No it’s good”, so we just put it on.
We actually went back into a studio in Milton Keynes and recorded it onto a tape, live, all together in the same room, the track is called ‘Evil By Design‘. It has a more raw edge to it, so we went in and did it like that. It’s actually on tape and I’ve got the quarter-inch master tape upstairs in my room. It’s a weird thing to see these days. I think the tape machine that it was recorded on was being sold after it was used. It was a bit of an experiment. I wanted to see how we would get on.
Chris Shires, the youngest member of the band, had never played on tape. It was all computers and Pro tools. I was like; “You need to get some of that red light fever mate… get in the studio, stuck in a room together and play“. It was good fun. We did it over a weekend.
OD – I believe that it was 18 months of seeking a new vocalist, did you believe that it was coming to the point where you were going to pack it in for good?
KRISTIAN – Yes quite a lot. I remember saying to him (Jay); “You can’t sing can you”? Like it was a request! I said to him that we were sort of hitting our heads against brick walls with people. And this is no reflection on any of the people who came and auditioned and tried out because there were some great, great people, but I suppose we are getting on a bit now as well.
We wanted somebody that we got along with, and fitted the role because there were quite a few boxes to tick because you start at first looking for somebody that fits all these criteria and after 6 months, you start thinking; “Maybe we won’t get on with ‘this’ guy but we’ll live with that”, or “We’ll get along with ‘that’ guy”, and you start knocking bits off.
But in the end, we went; “No we need to find somebody who fits it all“. And I just kept going on and on. But you’re right – I did think that maybe this just isn’t going to happen; we’re not going to find anyone, and thankfully we did. He was under our nose all the time.
OD – Although the album was released in June 2019, have you been writing new material since then and if so, would there be any chance of an EP in the next year?
KRISTIAN – It’s mainly down to me. I am the main riff and songwriter in the band but I’m already amassing a load of stuff. I mean last week I got everybody together and we were hammering some stuff out.
The plan is to start writing again this year and hopefully start recording a new album again hopefully around November/end of the year time. If we’re going to do it, we might as well put it out there. There’s a weird trend at the moment of releasing odd songs. I don’t think that’s something we would be doing… I don’t know. I think we would take our time and go and do a set of songs and an album.
OD – You were last in Ireland in 2015 with Acid Reign but you guys are once again sharing a bill for Clang Metal Festival this coming May. How important do you feel events like this are for the metal genre?
KRISTIAN – Personally, I’m a fan of metal music and I like to hear a broad range. I guess most people do really, but some can be bigoted, like, “I only like death metal and that’s it”. I’m sure a lot more people like a broad brushstroke of genres.
It’s great to experience slight variations. I mean obviously they’re not going to put something totally out there on it (festival bill) like I don’t think they would put rap metal on it.
I personally don’t think that would work. But staying within metal genres, it’s good to have a range of it, otherwise, you risk always appearing like a similarity; “Oh that sounds the same as that band” and “that sounds the same as that band”, so I think it’s good to have differences.
Last night we played in Birmingham at the Hard Rock Hell, and it was really great. Skiltron were on before us and there are bagpipes in their music. It was quite a broad range and after us was (Tim) Ripper Owens and The Three Tremors, and there were some newer metal bands some harder bands. It was great to see all the differences.
People liked it – they come and experience it and get slices of things they didn’t know about. Things were a little more strait-laced back in the ’80s… it was very much us against them. You had to have many similar styles of bands put together. But I like it it’s good for people to experience that sort of thing. It’s a good way to do it.
The line-up for Clang looks very strong and we can’t wait to play at it. It’s always good to see new Festivals happening like this. They are very important for the metal scene as a whole and people should get behind these things.
OD – From a band that has the advantage of looking back on the legacy of the music business to what it is today, do you think that it’s just as hard for bands to break today as it was back then, or do you feel that it’s the same or harder?
KRISTIAN – I’ll start off by saying how we feel about it. So when we came back, we actually found it slightly easier, in that there are advantages with the internet that didn’t exist when we were first going. Now you can contact people a lot easier and do interviews like what we’re doing now. You can respond to people online, on Facebook, on Instagram, you can get your music instantly out there so people can listen to it. They might not buy it, but they can listen to it.
We’re also finding that the world has become a smaller place. We’ve been to so many more countries since we have done this album and since we have reformed with Chris (Shires).
When we went to Japan last year, [which was unbelievable], the advantage of cheaper air travel has made easier to go to these places and experience it and play to a lot more people. But that’s because of our legacy and name and people can put a Xentrix logo on a poster and that might have a bit of credibility.
For a newer band, I think it may be harder than it was, because like you said, it’s easier to make your own music. That means more people are doing it at home and stuff. You don’t need to spend the time in the studio or you don’t need to spend as much time recording these days. You can knock stuff together using Pro tools… I’ve heard it called laptop metal! That is not a good thing. It’s a good thing in that bands can record a lot of stuff and get it out there, but you have to wade through al lot of shite [Laughing].
So my advice would be to stick at it and spend time on your songwriting. Hone your skill, and don’t worry too much about your social media. Work on what you are doing. That would be my advice.
OD – What are the plans for the remainder of 2020?
KRISTIAN – No real milestones or stuff like that, but we’re playing more festivals, we’re playing Hellfest this year in France as well as Clang in Ireland, we got some other stuff at the end of the year that I can’t talk about yet, because I will get told off if I say too much.
We’re also going to write another album. This is not the end of us… We’re not going to disappear again- we’re going to do at least another one. And then we’ll see how it goes from there. I mean me and Dennis are getting on a bit, but the other two are quite young. They’ll keep us going.
OD – This August will see ‘For Who’s Advantage’ turn 30 years old, do you have anything planned or have you not even discussed any plans?
KRISTIAN – Well last year we did ’Shattered Existence’. And there was talk of should we do the whole thing. But some of the festival sets and things we do are not necessarily that long, so it wouldn’t be able to play other stuff.
It’s a little bit of a funny one. Maybe if we got a certain show that was like; ” That’s our show and we can do the whole album“, but I don’t know. I know that’s a thing that people have done. I know other bands have played an album in its entirety. I don’t think so is my honest answer. We might get a birthday cake or something like that.
XENTRIX will be performing at Clang Metal Festival this May alongside, Candlemass, Coroner, Acid Reign, Klogr, The Modern Age Slavery, AeSect, Words That Burn, Conjuring Fate, Sinocence, Two Tales of Woe, Scimitar, The Risen Dread, Grave Sermon and Strangers With Guns.
Johan Längquist of legendary doom masters, Candlemass has sent a message about their forthcoming performance at Clang Metal Festival Ireland on May 2nd, 2020.Check it out below.Tickets on sale NOW via Eventbrite.ie.https://www.eventbrite.ie/e/clang-irish-metal-festival-featuring-candlemass-and-coroner-tickets-82377183373?aff=ebdssbeacClang Metal Festival Ireland will be taking place on May 2nd in Dublin's National Stadium featuring Candlemass Coroner Xentrix @Acid Reign Klogr The Modern Age Slavery AeSect @Conjuring Fate Words That Burn Sinocence @scScimitar Two Tales of Woe The Risen Dread Grave Sermon Strangers With GunsLimited Market Stalls available – Vendors please email firstname.lastname@example.org.Music – Candlemass "The Pendulum" © Napalm Records 2020Video Edit – COSMOPALACE
Posted by Overdrive on Thursday, February 27, 2020
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