Their blistering fifth studio release ‘Mark of the Blade‘ displayed a band that are capable of more than most and with guitarist Alex Wade confirming a more heavier/raw sound for their follow up, things are looking promising for the six-piece metal crew.
OD – Mark of the Blade is one year old already! When you think back to the release date does it feel like it was a year ago?
ALEX – In a lot of ways it seems like it was an eternity ago but in other ways, it seems like it was just yesterday. Every time we release an album it’s like bringing a human into the world if you know what I mean. The amount of touring that can take place in just three or six months makes the release date seem like it was years ago. We try to keep things as fresh as possible when we are touring and keep the set lists different not only for the audience but for us also as to not let things get stale.
OD – You played in London the night for a very small special pre-Bloodstock warm up show. How did that go?
ALEX – That gig was insane man. It was just packed out and sweaty as hell. I love playing shows like that. You have to remember that’s where we came from you know. Playing the smallest clubs where sometimes there would be like ten people there and half of them would not even be watching us play. We played the Camden Underworld before and it was crazy back then also.
OD – Do you like playing small, sweaty venues like that?
ALEX – Yeah totally! I mean, I just love playing live and if it’s a small club or a festival stage like the one at Bloodstock, that’s cool with me as long as I get to play on any stage in front of an audience. The one thing I have to say about the show we did last night is those concrete pillars that they have in the Underworld. It’s kind of funny to see how everyone is trying to avoid it when things get super crazy in the pit. We had a great show and it was just a perfect gig for us to do before a big festival performance like this.
OD – With six albums in since 2006 is impressive in this day and age. Are you a band that just keeps working/writing regardless of what is happening?
ALEX – Absolutely man. We are constantly writing and logging our ideas down regardless of where we are. When ever we feel inspired by the stuff we are working on, we have to get it down somewhere or we’ll just forget it. Especially when we’re on tour. It’s kind of a combination of everybody writing together as well as bringing our own ideas to the mix.
When we eventually get home, we usually have writing sessions and we work through all of the ideas and arrangements. We treat it kind of like office hours (laughing). We’ll get together during the week from like 8 am until 5 pm and just hash things out you know.
OD – When you talk about the ideas you have recorded from being on the road, there must be a pretty mundane process involved of going through all of the riffs to fish out the good stuff?
ALEX – Yeah, it’s kind of hard to decide what is gonna be used and what’s gonna be shelved. When we were making ‘Mark of the Blade’ there were a few ‘iffey’ arrangements that we were not really sure about. It was really coming down to the fact of deciding if we just add in some ideas and ultimately make the album longer or if we just keep it fresh and tight. You have to ask yourself “does the album really need anything more or is it just right the way it is?” there is also the possibility of using some of those ideas on material that we have yet to write. You just never know if a riff or idea that we shelved a few years ago ends up being perfect for a track that we have yet to write.
You just never know if a riff or idea that we shelved a few years ago ends up being perfect for a track that we have yet to write. We have loads of stuff like that but haven’t decided when to use them.
OD – When you look back at the progression of sound on the albums, do you find that you yet have to reach your utopia in terms of sound? Kind of like your ‘Master of Puppets’?
ALEX – I think we are still striving towards our ultimate landmark album. I mean, when we were writing/recording ‘Mark of the Blade’ we discovered a sound that we thought we were not capable of or to put it correctly, never really imagined we would be producing as a band. Looking into the future, we’re really looking forward to seeing where our sound and direction takes us collectively.
Whitechapel is always going to be heavy and Phil (Bozeman/Voclas) is always going to have a screaming vocal in there and the guitars will always be laying down some really heavy stuff, but in the same view, our sound will be evolving as it should do with any band. We can’t just keep making the same album over and over again. That would just be boring for us and our fans.
OD – There is no question that the festival culture is dramatically different from that in America. Do you find that things are a little more ‘loose’ over here rather than the scene at home?
ALEX – It’s way looser over here in Europe rather than America. You can really tell the history of the music festival when you come to Europe and take for example the media set up that is here at Bloodstock. You just don’t see that in America, it’s totally different. There’s always media people there but it’s not coordinated like they way they do things over here in Europe and the UK.
To me the festival scene in the US is pretty new and when you look at a say Chicago Open Air as it’s only been around for like three or four years which is not long at all when compared to the history of UK and European festivals.
OD – Speaking of festivals, you have played the Warped Tour before, do you find that that particular festival has become a kind of diluted version of itself?
ALEX – I would agree to a certain degree. Back in the day Warped used to have such iconic bands playing the festival, such as Lagwagon, NOFX, Blink 182 and Less Than Jake to name a few. Actually, some of those bands go back and play the festival like Less Than Jake who played last year when we were on the bill also.
Now it’s just like a lot of bands that play this kind of electronic metal-core and to be honest, I don’t really understand that kind of shit. They all sound the same to me. You have a stage that will have something like twenty bands playing and they all sound the fucking same man, it’s just really strange.
I think it would be really cool if they could go back to the way things used to be or even just keep a little bit of the festival history alive with some of those early bands. Warped are just keeping up with the times and I totally get it that it’s a business at the end of the day but when it’s just the same thing happing all day, it get’s a little old very quickly.
When you compare a festival like Bloodstock to something like Warped, it’s night and day. Forget the music for a moment, I’m talking about the setup and the layout. There is way more tradition and appreciation from the crowd and the organisers when you come to festivals like Bloodstock. It’s amazing!
OD – Now that we’re a year into the touring cycle for ‘Mark of the Blade’ have you considered the follow-up and if so, do you have any new material, song titles that you can share with us?
ALEX– At the moment the new material that we have is kind of loose with only a few riff ideas and some minor arrangements but still haven’t really decided on a producer or anything like that. So I guess the best way to answer that is to say that things are very much up in the air at the moment.
OD – When you say that you haven’t decided on a producer as of yet, do you have a couple in mind that you’re considering or is that still early days?
ALEX – Yeah, we have a few that we are interested in and are just having some discussions with the band and management as to get a feeling of what everybody is thinking before we approach anyone.
OD – With all the talk of new producers, have there been any plans to change the process of how you record going forward. Would you consider just going into the studio, plugging in and doing it in a more “live” style setting?
ALEX – Yeah, it’s definitely something that we have been thinking about because the majority of our music has been written using a click track and that sort of thing. We have been thinking about getting in there and trying to capture a more “raw” sounding album. We’ll have to see what way it all turns out. At the moment we are open to many different ideas and are just voicing them out to see what works best for us all collectively.
OD – With regards to playing festivals, do you find that it’s more of an opportunity to showcase Whitechapel to an audience that would normally not really be familiar with who you are and is there any kind of added pressure when facing a crowd like that?
ALEX – We love playing to festival crowds because you just don’t ever really know how it’s going to go down. Dont’ get me wrong, we absolutely love playing our own shows, but we look at playing festivals as somewhat of a challenge because most of the audience won’t know what we can do and we only have 25/30 minutes to prove ourselves.
OD – Do you notice an increase in activity on your social media platforms/website when doing the festival circuit?
ALEX – Yes, totally man! It’s kind of amazing to see this rapid increase in likes and shares of our videos etc. That’s the great thing about playing festivals and even better for the audience as they can stumble upon a huge amount of new music in an environment that is just awesome. For us, festivals are a great way to spread the word about the band and show people what we can do.
When people come up to us and are like “I saw you guys earlier today and you fucking blew my head off” that just lets us know that we are doing the right thing and it’s a great feeling.
OD – When you are planning a tour, do you get to choose who you’re taking on the road with you or is it more of a label/management decision?
ALEX – Yeah, we usually get to pick every band that we tour with. There are also a lot of local bands that would contact the local promoter who’s putting on the show and they would deal with our agent to work out the details. Sometimes local bands will hit us up on our Facebook page and we’ll listen to the music and if we like it, then we’ll try and get it arranged for that band to play on certain shows.
OD – What can we expect from Whitechapel in 2018?
ALEX – Depending on the new album, I can definitely see us coming back to Europe. I would go as far as to say that it might be before the release of the new album but in terms of a headline run of dates, that’s more likely to happen in early 2019.
‘Mark of the Blade‘ is out now via Metal Blade Records. Get your copy via this link.
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Live Bloodstock photos – Exposing Shadows Photography © 2017