Interview with bassist Luke Blaso
Interview conducted by Luxi Lahtinen
Date online: March 11, 2012
Aussie thrashers IN MALICE'S WAKE have managed to make the ground burn under the feet of everyone who have heard or seen them in action. This furious Thrash Metal quartet has released two full-length studio albums on their own so far; "Eternal Nightfall" came out in 2008, and "The Thrashening" in the first half of 2011. Both of their albums managed to create quite a lot of fuss around them, crediting rightfully IN MALICE'S WAKE as the new hopes of Australian Thrash Metal. And that's what they undoubtedly are. Everyone who has heard at least one of their records can subscribe to that statement right away by the sign of the devil, commonly used by Metalheads all around the world. It's just a matter of time when some label will snap them under their caring wings even if the times are very tough in the music business nowadays due to free downloading and stuff like that.
IN MALICE'S WAKE bassist Luke Blaso took the opportunity to speak more about his band for the readers of The Metal Crypt, telling about some downsides of living in Australia as a musician, plus naturally sharing lots of his own thoughts about the future of the band and his business called Bandtrans, which is a transport company totally dedicated to the needs of the music and entertainment industry, providing transport, logistics and warehousing solutions to local, interstate and international bands and touring artists. So bands with any intentions to tour Down Under, do take note of this...
Luxi: How's going Luke? Can you still stand all these hot summer days you have there in Australia at the moment?
Luke: Hey Luxi! Been very well brother, fortunately this summer has not been as hot as recent years so it has been somewhat bearable. The only way to stand the scorching dry summer days is to be at the surf beaches, the sun could almost melt the face off a person down here!
Luxi: Alright, let's get back to IN MALICE'S WAKE and to your latest record, titled "The Thrashening", which the band released independently in April 2011. First off, as far as I have understood, so far the response for it has been huge and very flattering altogether and the album has been recognized basically all around the world. Would you say you guys are kind of overwhelmed by all this enormously positive feedback that you have received, people telling very openly you how their heads were blown away out of their shoulders when they got a chance to hear "The Thrashening"?
Luke: Man, the response has been definitely that, overwhelming. The fact that "The Thrashening" album has been so highly regarded and revered by maniacs all around the world is really an honour, we have had extremely positive feedback, killer reviews all round. There is a huge volume of work and time that goes in to any album, and to have this work appreciated by metal heads worldwide is a true positive.
Luxi: Where does all this utterly violent and aggressive vibe come from regarding the songs on "The Thrashening"?
Luke: The entire vibe and concept of album virtually deals with the ugly side of human nature, and the state of the world. The music definitely exhibits an increased sense of darkness in comparison to the previous record and we enjoyed exploring this theme in its various forms - war, nuclear and technological horror, human hatred etc. Music is a direct reflection of the soul, and I wouldn't say that in our daily lives we are violent or aggressive, but we wouldn't be able to create such music if the themes weren't present in our hearts, reflecting what we believed in and our opinions. We use our instruments as the outlet for our aggression and to explore these themes.
Luxi: This is actually your first album in the ranks of IN MALICE'S WAKE as a bassist; Ben Withers played the bass on the band's debut studio album, "Eternal Nightfall". How did you come to this band anyway, replacing Ben?
Luke: I grew up with David Graham (lead guitars) and we went to High School together where we both shared a passion for heavy music and our instruments and have been very good mates with the Farrugia's for many years. After the release of "Eternal Nightfall", I was asked to fill in for some live shows that In Malice's Wake had booked and coming up at the time and agreed that I would help them out for a few shows. As soon as we had the first couple of rehearsals together, there was a connection and electricity in the room that was undeniable it just felt right and has been right ever since.
Luxi: What could you tell about the recording process of "The Thrashening"? Did you get the album recorded the way you had originally planned, or were there some moments when you were forced to do some little compromises here and there, without having your songs suffer from any of these possible compromises?
Luke: Having been through recording releases in the past, we knew exactly what to expect from the process and went into "The Thrashening" sessions with excitement and optimism. Upon booking the studio time not all tracks were completed, so in the lead up we were completing a number of the songs under pressure. This worked out extremely well, and we heard many of the songs for the first time in their entirety as they were recorded, definitely a first for us. We set ourselves a budget and had the entire recording process thoroughly planned and unlike the previous record (and the many other albums in music history!), everything went incredibly smoothly and according to plan. We did not compromise with our budget and it is refreshing to feel that we would not change any aspect of the recording process if we were to do it over. The album was engineered by Ermin Hamidovic of Systematic Productions. He did a fantastic job on our previous album and went on to surpass our expectations with "The Thrashening" - the album features truly world class production. It was mastered by Plec at Panic Room Productions in Sweden, and features re-amped guitars by Metal legend James Murphy.
Luxi: I suppose that your vocalist and guitarist Shaun Farrugia has pretty often been compared to Chuck Billy of TESTAMENT due to his kind of similar sounding vocal approach on both of the records. How has he personally taken all these comparisons to Chuck Billy's vocal style?
Luke: I think Shaun would feel that it's an absolute honour to be consistently compared to one of the most killer frontmen of Thrash Metal History! As much as there is no doubting that there is some influence here, his vocal approach and delivery is his own creation and brings another element to solidify the music we create. I couldn't imagine both "Eternal Nightfall" and "The Thrashening" with any other style of vocals, the harshness, aggression and rawness in its delivery but on the same note so clear, powerful and pronounced.
Luxi: Did you use all the songs you had available during your recording sessions for "The Thrashening", or do you have some leftover material from those sessions left that you intend to use for some further releases of yours?
Luke: Yes. Whatever lay on the cutting room floor only did so because we believed it was not up to scratch. There were many ideas that were dropped in the writing sessions leading up to recording "The Thrashening". We spend a lot of time on each and every song and do not believe in including filler in any of our releases. If a riff does not excite all of us, it is not used. Our next release will feature completely new material, composed fresh with the same level of scrutiny.
Luxi: Have you been doing any new songs since "The Thrashening", or did you decide to take a break from doing any new material for a while – just to see what will happen with your excellent "The Thrashening" album first?
Luke: The music process cycles: after writing non-stop for a long period, you are sick of writing and looking forward to recording. After recording, the same thing happens and you are dying to play live. After a period of live playing, you hunger for new material and so it goes. We are currently in the writing phase and are very excited to be writing material for our upcoming follow up to "The Thrashening". Things feel great, and the next release will follow a similar shift as the last two albums did, things are progressively getting darker and heavier.
Luxi: How important do you see it for IN MALICE'S WAKE that your music supports the band's lyrical approach 100% – and vice versa? I guess the lyrics cannot be considered as some sort of secondary thing for the band and they actually also do play an important role as a part of IN MALICE'S WAKE's whole image, am I right?
Luke: Absolutely. The lyrics are not taken lightly. The music captures people's attention initially, but as fans look more closely at your releases, the lyrics must also have something to say, something to resonate with the listener and something that complements the sound that is being created. Shaun writes the majority of the lyrics and spends an endless amount of time writing and re-working the wording. Novelty or cheesy lyrics have their place in certain bands, but In Malice's Wake want to leave behind something that stands the test of time – something that reflects the darkness of the world we live in today.
Luxi: It's an already known fact that you have paid all the costs of both of your albums from your own pockets. Even if your debut album, "Eternal Nightfall" – as well as your follow-up record, "The Thrashening", both represent some of the best Thrash Metal there's on offer these days, it feels very weird yet unfair that no label has snapped IN MALICE'S WAKE yet. Do you believe this has something to do with the band's location: IN MALICE'S WAKE comes from Australia, and because of that some music industry people may somehow mistakenly think it's going to be tough to promote bands if they are located from somewhere else but Europe or the U.S.A.?
Luke: Yes. Our isolation from the rest of the world is definitely one of the biggest hurdles that we endure to overcome. It is easier on many levels for a label to promote a band that is located nearby. It is frustrating as we believe we are truly deserving of a chance to present In Malice's Wake live to a global audience. The music deserves a bigger audience than it currently receives and we strive to get it out to as many people as we can independently. Having a chance to promote our band in your publication and those like it is a massive help that we truly appreciate.
Luxi: Are there some festivals that IN MALICE'S WAKE has already been confirmed to play at for the 2012, and how eagerly are you guys looking forward to playing live – no matter whether it's a big festival or a smaller club environment?
Luke: We have some big plans in the works, however there are no confirmed shows that we can announce at this point in time. Our main focus for the next few months is writing new material, and in that sense we cannot wait. We are a live band first and foremost and playing live reminds us why being in a band is so much fun, a true thrill every time thanks to the audiences that are present. We are especially excited to premiere some of our new material when we return to the stage; I think people are going to be very impressed...
Luxi: IN MALICE'S WAKE has already played a good bunch of shows around the Australian continent ever since the band was formed. What are some of those most memorable and best shows you have played with the band – and can you also tell us what made them such special shows for you personally?
Luke: Some recent highlights have included playing with Destruction and Forbidden on separate occasions. Playing alongside musicians that we have listened to since growing up is a brilliant experience. Our "The Thrashening – Oceanic Assault Tour" included a heap of great shows, including our first venture overseas to New Zealand. The Melbourne album launches were both momentous and rewarding – partly due to the relief of returning to the stage after going into recording hibernation for so long! There is nothing quite like coming off stage after a great show, there is a huge feeling of satisfaction – that goes great with a few beers!
Luxi: You guys also have this official live video for "Endless Possession" that's been shot at Northcote Social Club this year. The video shows several clips from some war themes, added with IN MALICE'S WAKE's very energetic and violent-reeking live performance at that club, so I need to ask are you 100% fully happy how this video turned out?
Luke: I believe it is important to never be 100% satisfied with what you have created, however it is just as important to reflect and be proud of your achievements. I am extremely proud of the way that the video clip for "Endless Possession" came out and the work of Pro Schulze Productions. The clip is raw, it's not staged, it's not a multi-million dollar production to make us look awesome, you see what you get, and I feel that it captures the intensity and sense of energy the band portrays live and utilises high impact imagery of protests, dictators and violence – reinforcing the reflection of humanity's ugliness. It's total thrash warfare and that's what we are all about!
For those that haven't seen our clip it can be found here (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KRZvjqhzpIY) and discretion is advised for those who are epileptic or sensitive to fast paced Thrash Metal!
Luxi: Do you guys have some plans perhaps to make a live DVD any time soon, btw?
Luke: That is something that is definitely on the cards and this is something that will be happening towards the end of this year. Our shows are always wild, stage diving, punters having Jack Daniels poured down their throats, shots on stage while we were playing, pit violence / circle pits and would love to capture this on a live IMW DVD, not only for the world to witness our live assault but also to show you how wild the Australian Thrash Metal Maniacs really are.
Luxi: What are some of the best concert venues over there in Australia – especially for smaller, upcoming bands that you could warmly recommend as far as booking gigs for their own bands is concerned?
Luke: This is one of those problems we face in Australia - there aren't that many venues that really put on or cater to extreme music, there have been so many awesome venues close down over the past few years due to either liquor licensing laws or to build apartments. These include The Arthouse and The East Brunswick Club most recently. Our most warmly remembered venues for small shows that are still currently operating would have to be the Cherry Bar and The Tote.
Luxi: What's your own view about the current state of Australian Metal scene? Are there – in your honest opinion – some new metal bands coming up that people should really keep their eyes out for in the future?
Luke: There is a lack of communication between bands and promoters and as such we often have many Metal shows occurring on the same night, which is shame as we do not have the Metal population to allow this to function properly. Metal bands generally get along and there is a sense of respectful rivalry as well as bands willing to help each other out. Desecrator are definitely a band to check out, blistering old school Thrash Metal. These guys bust their arses to put on amazing shows for their audiences. We toured most of the country with Desecrator, and loved banging our heads with these guys at countless shows. They always play an amazing set, even though front man Riley cut open his head and bled over all over his guitar on one night, and had a bucket handy just in case on another, after a massive night the evening before.
Luxi: One of the very first internationally successful Thrash Metal bands from Australia, were undoubtedly HOBB'S ANGEL OF DEATH whose self-titled debut album on Steamhammer Records in 1988 still stands as one of the finest Thrash Metal albums on my personal top-whatever list of all times – as well MORTAL SIN that also gets lots of appreciation among the Metal community these days due to their debut record, "Mayhemic Destruction". Both pretty awesome Aussie Thrash Metal releases in their own right in my opinion. What kind of relationship do you personally have with those two albums? Have they been any sort of inspiration for you since you got involved with a heavier formula of music – sort of fueling your own career as a musician to become a better and more professional player in IN MALICE'S WAKE?
Luke: Hobbs and Mortal Sin are probably two of my favourite Australian Metal Bands, they are legendary bands in their own right and their catalogue of albums withstand the test of time. Professionalism is paramount and both bands exhibit this. I'm not sure that Hobbs and Mortal Sin would be a major influence on our sound, however their status and credibility internationally from Australia would definitely be something for us to aspire to achieve. We have played alongside Mortal Sin numerous times... supporting them with Destruction recently was an honour and it was a great opportunity to show we can hold our heads up high and delivery a crushing set that compares with some of the best Australia has to offer.
Luxi: You also run a business called "Bandtrans", and the description about what you do, is the following: "Bandtrans provides professional services and solutions totally dedicated to the needs of the music and entertainment industry". Would you like to enlighten us more about this, maybe to get more customers for yourself?
Luke: I own/operate ‘Bandtrans' which is basically a transport company totally dedicated to the needs of the music and entertainment industry providing transport, logistics and warehousing solutions to local, interstate and international bands and touring artists and working very closely alongside some of Australia's leading production and entertainment companies and as I mentioned, have recently launched my pyrotechnics and special effects business ‘Blaso Pyrotechnics' in November last year. I am a fully licensed pyrotechnician to discharge theatrical pyrotechnics and provide close proximity indoor effects and theatrical fireworks for concerts, film clips, product launches, corporate functions, weddings, parties, religious / cultural and theatrical performances... it's an Explosive Job to say the least! All of us run regular jobs during the days, and this allows us to keep IN MALICE'S WAKE going with the funding it deserves. Shaun runs a custom airbrushing business called Predator Custom Painting, airbrushing Harleys and killer stuff, he does some great work. Dave is a landscaper and Mark works full time also – we are all quite busy when you throw in playing music too!
Luxi: What are some of your hopes for 2012 regarding all those tiny little things you'd like to achieve with this band within one year?
Luke: We would like to write the majority of our upcoming album, play a heap of killer shows, continue to expand our fanbase – and hopefully venture out internationally and take one step closer to world thrash metal supremacy.
Luxi: Thank you so much Luke for your time for getting this done – and I hope you found all my questions worth answering. If there's still something you'd like to add to this interview in order to get the latest pieces of news about IN MALICE'S WAKE for this, then feel free to spit them out. The rest space is reserved for you...
Luke: On Behalf of In Malice's Wake I'd like to send out a massive thanks to everyone especially out European fans for the continuous support in what we do as it really fuels our fire and desire to achieve our goals of domination we are more than appreciative and our fans should know that based on our output recorded and in a live capacity so thanks again and especially thanks to you Luxi and The Metal Crypt it's been a total pleasure, thanks so much for your ongoing support and having the chance to interview on occasions such as this are a major help, and we thank you for the opportunity and well thought out questions!
Cheers from Australia – Prepare for Thrash Metal Warfare!!
|Other information about In Malice's Wake on this site|
|Review: Visions of Live Destruction|
|Review: Light Upon the Wicked|
|Interview with vocalist and guitarist Shaun Farrugia on October 12, 2014 (Interviewed by Luxi Lahtinen)|
|Interview with vocalist and guitarist Shaun Farrugia on November 26, 2015 (Interviewed by Luxi Lahtinen)|
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