Interview with singer/guitarist Ben Batres
Interview conducted by MetalMike
Date online: February 4, 2012
MetalMike: Congratulations on your album Barbed Wire Metal! How did that title come about?
Ben: Thanks dude, hope you and all your readers dig it!
The title came about a few years ago when we were writing the title song. At the time we were roughly around 17 years old and had this really thrashy song going, of course with being that age we were quite aggressive in our lyrics so we began writing a song about what we thought metal was about and how people perceived it.
It was the first song we had ever written that you could easily say was heavily influenced by the thrash bands we listened to and it was that type of song that really punched you in the face after the initial listen, so Tomislav (our drummer) came up with the term "Barbed Wire Metal" which basically means metal that you can't escape from. Before we had even written the full album we knew that would be the title.
MetalMike: How about the band's name, is there a story behind it? Maybe someone in the band grew up on Elm Street!
Ben: In our early teen years we all got really into anything that was involved in 80's metal. Anything from 80's sport stars to movies and the movies that did appeal to us from that era were the old-school slasher films like Friday The 13th and Halloween.
One in particular was our favorite and that was the A Nightmare on Elm Street saga especially part 3 because it featured Dokken and because of that movie we discovered Dokken and their great songs plus musicianship.
Originally when the band began we operated under the name RAID but in 2008 we decided to drop the name and search for something that was more suited to our style and genre and you can't look past Elm Street when it comes to metal or the 80's.
MetalMike: Can you give us a brief history of the band? How did Elm Street come together?
Ben: We all met in the first year of high school, we all went to different schools beforehand except for me (Ben) and Aaron. When we moved to the new school we had started hanging around a circle of friends which included Brendan and Tomislav and soon enough we saw ourselves chilling with each other after school and on weekends.
We didn't have any music in common but Tomislav did dig old school metal as his cousin had gotten him into bands like Iron Maiden, Pantera, Manowar and Priest.
Soon enough after a few parties etc we all started getting into that style and discovering more and more old school metal bands, nothing at all about the new bands appealed to us so we literally just listened to 80's metal for a good 5 years haha.
With so much music going through our brains the only thing we could think of was heavy metal so we decided to all learn instruments and make a band with a dream of playing live for a living. That was back in 2003 and we're still going strong with the same line-up chasing that dream.
MetalMike: The music is the most important aspect of a band, of course, but image certainly plays a role. Your logo has a certain 90s Thrash quality to it, but you guys play Traditional Metal. Where did the logo design come from?
Ben: To be honest we never really thought of the logo design too much. We knew what mattered was that we needed a really kickass designer who was into the same music as us and understood what type of image we needed. Luckily we had a close friend Joe Manna here in Melbourne, Australia who partied with us every week and was a killer graphics designer so he put together something that we kept straight away.
MetalMike: What influenced you to become musicians? Which bands played the biggest role in determining the kind of music you play?
Ben: I have to say it was 3 bands that really got us into being musicians; we use to watch live concerts from these guys over and over when we were in high school and that was Iron Maiden, Metallica and Megadeth.
By the way that's old school Metallica haha!
MetalMike: Barbed Wire Metal does a great job of sounding like the 80s yet original at the same time. How hard was it to find that balance?
Ben: We spent a lot of time in the studio recording this album, I think it all clocked up to 2 years. Being so young we didn't want an album that sounded outdated or not relevant to our age so keeping that 80's vibe with modern production was extremely hard. Being our first time recording in a studio properly was even a bigger challenge.
Thank God we had the guidance of Ermin Hamidovic from Systematic Productions who was on the same wave length as us and gave us the best advice on how to take this album to the next level each time we entered the studio.
MetalMike: How does the writing process work for Elm Street? Is it an individual thing or does everyone get together and hammer out the songs?
Ben: I think it's similar to what a lot of bands do, a member usually comes up with a riff, melody or arrangement and we bring it to the practice or send it electronically to each other to work on. For us the first album did take a while to write because none of us had ever written a song in our lives but I think it all came out really strong. We were extremely picky when it came to how the songs would be recorded so every little thing was reviewed time and time again.
MetalMike: What do you like to write about? Are there books, movies, genres of literature, etc. that influence your lyrics? Or do you just write about what is on your mind at a particular moment?
Ben: We didn't have any experience writing songs before so for this first album we wrote songs about what we knew best. Topics that we knew there was a story to tell and we could put our hearts and souls into. At the time and it still is, heavy metal, horror and religion were the biggest things in our lives but for the next album we still don't know where it will take us lyrically.
MetalMike: You guys are all young (according to your website). What drew you to a style of music that was at its peak before you were born?
Ben: We're all still 22 years old so pretty young! What did draw us to the music though was the energy it all created, our favorite thing to do was watch live concerts like Iron Maiden's Rock In Rio or Manowar's Hell On Earth DVD's and it just kept us listening more and more to the style.
MetalMike: What do you think of other relatively new bands playing Traditional Metal, like Enforcer or White Wizzard?
Ben: All great bands that we have been big fans of for years! We actually played a New Year's Eve show in Sydney, Australia in Dec 2011 and they were selling all these traditional metal CD's and we picked up a few killer releases from the USA and Europe.
Enforcer being one of those so on the drive home that was CD was being cranked!
Hopefully we have the privilege of sharing the stage with bands in the new traditional metal genre which could open us to a whole new crowd.
MetalMike: What is the Metal scene like in Australia? Is it hard for a Traditional Metal band to get gigs? Do you consider yourselves more of a live band than a recording act?
Ben: The heavy metal scene in Australia is a weird one; it tends to go up and down with interest as the years go on. A lot of international acts visit the country and do really well and of recent local shows have really started to pick up. A couple of years ago or when we first started you could only hold one big local gig a month to really make it worthwhile and have people show up but last year there was at least 1 big gig every week.
We haven't had much experience in the studio and most of our years growing up as a band was spent in the live scene so we have a really strong and loyal fan base. With that being said though we really enjoyed the recording process and can't wait to do it all again!
MetalMike: Where do you hope to play live in the future? Any plans to tour outside of Australia?
Ben: Touring outside Australia is our number 1 goal so we hope to achieve that in 2012.
We feel like there is way too big of an opportunity in places like Europe so we aim to head there and really run wild in the metal scene.
MetalMike: If you could go back in time and see any band from the 80s, at their peak, who would it be?
Ben: Ahhh....we would kill to see any band in the 80's but right now I'm listening to Helloween's Walls of Jericho album so I would love to have been around when those guys were just starting.
MetalMike: Since Barbed Wire Metal was released back in April 2011, is there a new album in the works?
Ben: We're constantly writing and improving is one our biggest things so there will definitely be a new album in the near future. Our main goal right now is to get overseas and see what we can do with the live scene first then we'll start some pre-production for round 2 of recording.
MetalMike: Is there anything else you'd like to talk about we haven't discussed?
Ben: I just wanted to quickly mention that as I finish up this interview we just released a trailer for our brand new video clip being released on Feb 20th 2012 it can be viewed here: http://youtu.be/QKpCZ_42yWI. Check it out and see what you guys can expect when we hit your town!
MetalMike: Thanks for taking some time to answer these questions and good luck with Barbed Wire Metal! I, for one, am looking forward to the next album from Elm Street.
Ben: Thanks heaps MetalMike, it's really great to be featured on The Metal Crypt so stay true and keep it metal \m/!
|Other information about Elm Street on this site|
|Review: Barbed Wire Metal|
|Review: Knock 'em Out... With a Metal Fist|
|Video: Barbed Wire Metal|
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