Interview with vocalist and guitarist Shaun Farrugia
Interview conducted by Luxi Lahtinen
Date online: October 12, 2014
Australian thrashers In Malice's Wake have become one of the most promising bands from Down Under over the past few years. They have two studio albums under their belts, Eternal Nightfall (2008) and The Thrashening (2011), and are able to play actively around the Oz territories, just to keep the band's name on people's lips. In Malice's Wake seem to be entering a phase in their existence when anything is possible.
It's been three years since The Thrashening came out and now the silence is broken by the band's next release, a double disc set featuring a live audio CD and a live DVD, shot at the Legions of Steel festival at the Bendigo Hotel in Melbourne at the end of June, 2014.
Vocalist and guitarist Shaun Farrugia was kind enough to tell us more about this release plus what's been going on with his troops over the last couple of years and what's ahead for In Malice's Wake. Read on...
Luxi: What's new Down Under?
Shaun: Our Metal community is thriving down under, particularly in Melbourne, shows are extremely well attended and we have an absolute nonstop flood of international tours on our shores this year. Australian bands are making strong waves overseas; King Parrot is touring in the US with Origin and, later, with Down, Damnation's Day are touring Europe with Accept soon, Darker Half have just come back from the States, Hobbs Angel of Death are smashing through a world tour so a lot of big news for Australian Metal. The Metal Down Under DVD documentary was just released, detailing the history of Australian Metal. When I catch my breath and have some free time, I'll be delving into that with pleasure – I've heard it's great!
Luxi: It's been a while, 3 years actually, since people got to hold a new In Malice's Wake release in their hands. They won't have to wait much longer, though, as there's a deluxe digipak twin disc set coming up soon, featuring both audio CD and live DVD discs. What can you tell us about it?
Shaun: We're very excited. As we speak, I am finishing the layouts for the booklet and it is nearly complete. It is a high quality capture of a particularly intense show we played in our hometown this year. There were nine HD Cameras (including GoPro strapped to people's heads in the pit) and we got a crushing, clear and natural audio mix. The carnage has been captured extremely well, far beyond we could have hoped. The crowd really turned it on that night and it is the most intense and violent show in our history. This show also features two new tracks that are planned to appear on our upcoming release in 2015, "Hear the Howls" and "A Sign of the Times." We've included some special features as well. The package is killer; 6-panel digipak with Dual Layer DVD, Audio CD, 12-page booklet – we've spared no expense. Pre-orders are available at our independent store: www.inmaliceswake.com/store.htm
Luxi: The show where the DVD was filmed was at the Bendigo Hotel in Melbourne on June 21st 2014. Besides In Malice's Wake, there were 10 other Australian underground Metal bands playing that very same night. Was your plan to film at this "Legions of Steel" festival to make sure you had the biggest crowd possible or were there other shows under consideration?
Shaun: We had the concept of doing this DVD since the beginning of the year and threw around a few ideas for line-ups, venues etc. However, we had a very busy schedule at that time, and seeing as though we had this "Legions of Steel" festival already booked, it was very convenient to have this double as our DVD filming event. We definitely did consider doing it with a smaller line-up of bands, but seeing as though we were headlining this festival and had an hour long set to play, it all sort of worked out. We knew it would be well promoted and the line-up featured many great bands that helped fill the room, as well. It all paid off; it was a small, intimate and incredibly intense show, one that I am very glad we captured!
Preview track here:
Luxi: How is the Bendigo Hotel as a DVD filming location, when you take into account the size, acoustics, location and stuff like that? Did you consider it the ideal place for this DVD?
Shaun: The Bendigo Hotel is my personal favorite venue in Melbourne. It is small (300 capacity, but it would be VERY full with 300 people in there!), but intimate, with a great staff, stage, room acoustics, PA etc. Even the security guard is great and he loves Metal! We did have some concerns about the size of the stage due to the camera crew etc. and, in a lot of senses, it may have appeared more grand if we did this feature in a bigger venue, however, due to the fact that so many of our best shows have been in packed smaller venues, we felt this would be a very honest representation of an In Malice's Wake show. We had crowd surfers and stage divers smashing the front of the stage, walking over my floorboard pedals etc, but in the end it didn't matter – it was the chaos that we've come to love and expect from our hometown crowd!
Luxi: What can you tell about the crew that made this show possible; the film crew, security, light and sound men, etc.? Were they critical in helping this event to turn out as great as it did?
Shaun: Absolutely, we have many people to thank for how well this DVD turned out. Engineer Chris Themelco (Orpheus Omega, Monolith Studios) did an astounding job in mixing the final product. It rivals any album sound we have achieved with the raw energy of a live performance. Garry Kilby (GK Productions) assisted with getting capture of the instruments as well as contributing some video, Marita Fitzgerald, who often does our live sound, worked the board that night and she is fantastic. James Munro (Knightmare) did lighting for us, as he so often does, and took special care to ensure the lighting would work well with the video. He did a killer job. Ritchie K and an assistant did all the video capture and we had a huge amount of material to work with when cutting the final product which Karl (Bass) and I did together afterwards. Denis Sudzuka (Espionage Bookings) organized the Legions of Steel Event, which was a runaway success, and all the other bands helped get the crowd into a frenzy before we played. (Electrik Dynamite, Malakyte (QLD), Harlott, Party Vibez, Maniaxe, Alkira (SA), Dark Earth, Sudden State, Abraxxas, Espionage). But, truly, most of it was the crowd that made this show great. I have never seen our crowd as wild as they were this night. There was constant stage diving, crowd surfing and chaos – they made this event one to remember.
Luxi: You also hand painted the cover of the Visions of the Live Destruction DVD cover. It honestly looks great man! Because of your obvious skills at painting, have you done artwork for other bands, i.e. album covers, t-shirts designs and stuff like that?
Shaun: Thanks a heap, that really means a lot to me! The only other band work I have done is our previous album covers and the t-shirt merchandise we have available currently. Over the past four years I have been running a business painting motorcycles (www.predatorcustompainting.com.au) which is where most of my artwork practice takes place. I am planning to do the work for our upcoming 2015 release and it means a great deal to me to be able to provide the visual style that becomes associated with our music. The DVD actually has a small feature on the creation of this artwork for anyone that may be interested in this side of things.
Luxi: How much pre-planning was done to make the live DVD possible?
Shaun: The pre-planning was relatively minimal and only included finding the right show and lining up the people who would be involved in the capture. However, we rehearsed nightly for two weeks leading up to the show, in order to get things as tight as possible from our end – you can't do retakes live! One shot only, ha ha!! After the show was complete, however, there have been countless ours spent cutting it together, revising, working on menus, cutting special features, etc. I spent four full days on the artwork and am now finishing up the booklet and digipak design. It has taken a huge amount of time, but the bonus in doing it all ourselves is that we can get it exactly the way we want it and give it the personal touch. I am actually really looking forward to being done so I can rip right back into the writing process.
Luxi: Are you going to approach some record labels with this 2-disc set, hoping to get signed to one that will truly appreciate what In Malice's Wake is all about?
Shaun: Absolutely! I've always believed we are an exceptional live band and have always tried to get label reps etc. out to our shows, without much luck. One of the incentives for doing this DVD is that we could finally bring the live show to them! With today's technology, it is relatively easy for any band to create a cheap recording that sounds great, but being able to deliver an impressive live performance and connect with an audience is less common, and I believe we do this extremely well. So yeah, we will be putting this in front of everyone we possibly can. We have a high level of success as an independent band, but a higher level of exposure and support is something every band wants!
Luxi: I personally find it quite strange that no well-known label has snapped you up yet. Do you believe labels are afraid of signing Metal bands from Down Under because of the perceived effort and money it would require to get a band from Australia booked for a tour for either Europe or the USA?
Shaun: It has always remained a bit of a mystery to me, as I believe our music is worthy of interest and support from labels. However, as you have pointed out, this relationship has eluded us and it not due to lack of effort on our part! I do believe the distance from Australia to the rest of the world is a barrier that labels have to consider, they are a business after all, and it would cost a lot less to support a band based in Europe or the US. I do believe that this is a factor.
Luxi: How hard have you been hunting for a suitable label?
Shaun: We've put quite a bit of effort into this search and, at times, it has been discouraging. We've always sent out a huge number of packages to labels big and small, and usually had little response. We are a very DIY band, and our promotion, packaging and even material has slowly, but surely, gotten stronger to the point where it is now, I believe, world class. So fingers crossed that we are in a position where labels will sit up and take notice. Over the years I have slowly formed the opinion that you need to prove that you can exist on your own before others will be interested in you so that is the way I approach things these days. In Malice's Wake will survive and prosper without label support but we are very interested in any opportunities from labels to help us grow further. It has been a great help to have underground publications such as yours, other magazines, webzines, radio etc. promote this band independently over the years, thank you!
Luxi: It's been three years since you put out your second album titled The Thrashening. How much new material have you written since then and do you feel like you have managed to keep your sound at the same level of intensity and aggression without making any compromises or bowing to any trends in the effort to get signed?
Shaun: No, it is in fact the opposite regarding the movement in the style of the sound. Things are much heavier, darker, faster and more aggressive. It is still Thrash Metal, but there are slight twists of Death Metal sounds in there also. I am also injecting a little of the darker melody found in the Blackened Skies EP back into the sound. The Thrashening stripped most of this out (other than on tunes such as "The Crawling Chaos") and I've always enjoyed this aspect, so it is making a slight return in a way that is natural and unforced. The tuning is now in D Standard, and there is an incorporation of blast beats and tremolo work on some of the new tracks. Don't get me wrong, it is still unmistakably Thrash material, but we've always been at the heavier end of that spectrum. We have two new songs that we are currently playing live (and are on the DVD), one that still needs vocals (my personal favorite thus far!) as well as two others that are under construction. I also have a huge archive of riffs that will be channeled into new tracks. I would say writing of the new album is 40% complete.
It's a cliché, but we do write this music for ourselves and I can honestly say that making the music more appealing to labels doesn't enter my mind when writing. I know what I like and whatever doesn't cut it doesn't make it in our band. We haven't had label support for 10 years, so we will continue to write the music that excites us. That is where true satisfaction is found.
Luxi: Can you predict when In Malice's Wake might possibly enter the studio to record your third full-length opus? I am certain people are pretty anxious ;o)
Shaun: I don't blame them. It has been way too long, in my opinion. We are planning to have all the material completely written by February 2015, and we have already booked studio time for March/April 2015.
Luxi: Since the times of The Thrashing album, In Malice's Wake went through a lineup change; your bassist, Luke Blaso, and second guitarist, David Graham, aren't a part of the band lineup any more. Why did they leave the In Malice's Wake's troops?
Shaun: We respectfully parted ways with Dave and Luke at the end of 2013. They remain great friends. At the end of the day, they were not feeling the same passion for the music that Mark and I were. They both lead full and busy lives, and it was getting difficult for them to find time to put into the band, and they were not enjoying it as much as they used to. As a result, writing was very slow, shows were not as plentiful as they had been in the past and after a few discussions and a few trial schedules to make things work smoothly, we finally all decided that it was time for a change.
I think this was a huge relief for us and them, as it allowed Mark and me to pursue things with full enthusiasm and excitement. It was hard to part ways, they had been great friends and we created so much together but you have to be true to yourself and, at the end of the day, we are all much happier as a result of the split. Luke was responsible for managing the band and helping it grow as much as it has over those years, and I learned a lot about management and promotion from him. I am grateful for everything Dave and Luke contributed to In Malice's Wake, and we have the pleasure of having them as great friends to this day.
Luxi: How have Leigh (Bartley, guitar) and Karl (Watterson, bass) fit in the band lineup? What have they brought to In Malice's Wake?
Mark and I had to pinch ourselves initially as both were perfect additions. They applied together, were in no current Metal bands, could play like demons and had incredible stage presence. They had an amazing work ethic and learned the entire set in a matter of weeks. We were instantly comfortable with both of the guys; we were good mates in no time. It's important to get along with your band mates as you go through so much, both good and bad.
Leigh is an incredible songwriter and has been contributing to new materials with his own killer riffs and song structures. He can play leads in circles around me and has wonderful knowledge of theory, having studied musical performance for years.
Karl is great at composition and has more stage presence than anyone I've ever seen. He is also a great technical contributor. He has cut the video together and has strong knowledge of technology and sound engineering.
It truly feels like we've been playing with Karl and Leigh forever, even though it has only been 9 months. This lineup feels incredibly natural and we are all working together to move in the same direction.
Luxi: Your brother Mark (Farrugia) plays drums in the band. What is it like having your brother in the band? Do you have similar ways of thinking, especially when it comes to In Malice's Wake? Do you ever have fights over specific details?
Shaun: Ha ha... Mark and I have always had similar interests and got along very well. We grew up listening to the same music and have played together for over 10 years. We are very good at communicating musical ideas and picturing what the other has in mind. I would say we are in agreement over things 99% of the time, however whenever you are writing material, there is often tension regarding how bits should go (as you hear them in your head can be different to what the other person hears and you want your way, damn it!!) This is only due to how passionately we feel about the music.
We have a sort of unspoken agreement in the band that everyone must enjoy what we have written. You don't want to have a song that comes up to and you think "this is shit!" while you are playing it, never. So we tweak and revise until everyone is happy. I want everyone in our band to believe strongly in each note we play live. The audience knows conviction when it is there.
Luxi: In Malice's Wake is quite obviously one of the most well-known and popular Australian Metal bands at the moment. How do you see In Malice's Wake among the other Australian Metal acts, from your own perspective?
Shaun: I believe that, over the years, we have earned our place and made our mark on the Australian Metal community, to the point where we can host our own headlining show and fill the room. This is a great feeling. We have an incredible collection of strong bands from all styles in our Metal community, especially in Melbourne, the Metal capital of Australia!
Luxi: What about the local Metal scene in Melbourne? Are you happy with the current situation, seeing so many new and talented Metal bands crawling out from the dark cellars and making names for themselves, both locally and internationally?
Shaun: Oh yeah, this can only be a good thing. First, having killer new bands inspires you and reminds you not to become complacent and it also means that the quality of line-ups, as a whole, get better and better. You want an evening where the opening band is amazing, all the way through to the headliner. You need to always think of things in terms of the audience. If you want people to continue coming to shows, you need to make it an event, time after time. Having a whole host of great bands makes every show something to be celebrated.
Every local Australian Metal band that experiences success internationally draws the global eye to our Metal community. This benefits every Metal band and is a great thing. Bands rarely achieve this through anything other than a huge level of effort and hard work, so I think it is something to be celebrated!
Luxi: Do you think In Malice's Wake has made an international breakthrough, even if you don't have a label contract yet? What could more can you do so the whole world notices the band?
Shaun: I think we have a lot more to achieve before I would say we have made an international breakthrough. However, we have definitely had moderate exposure on the worldwide circuit. I have recently done an interview from Mumbai, India and received DVD pre-orders from Switzerland. So we do have a global reach, in some capacity, and interviews on webzines such as yours play a huge part in helping us reach out to metalheads worldwide, as do great sites such as www.metal-archives.com and radio shows, etc.
I plan to use our Live DVD to show the world what our live show is like and this will make them stand up and take notice. We are not just another band with a few great sounding CDs, but a killer live band also.
Luxi: On November 18th 2014, you will support Brazilian Death Metal commandos Krisiun when they will stop by in Melbourne on their The Great Execution Tour. Obviously, that's a really good opportunity for In Malice's Wake to get new fans from the Death metal audience as well, don't you think?
Shaun: Totally; I am so excited by this opportunity. It is a great honor to support the mighty Krisiun, and a personal pleasure, being a fan. I have always felt that we appeal to a big cross section of Metal genres, not Thrash only, and there are many Death Metal fans that enjoy what we do. We will debut a third new track at this show, and the brutality of this song will fit in especially well with the Krisiun sound. The news of this support is a major highlight of our year, and I cannot wait! (event page here: www.facebook.com/events/298266310368708)
Luxi: How is 2015 shaping up for In Malice's Wake? Are you aiming to get some big European Metal festivals booked?
Shaun: My biggest focus at this point is to create an album that towers above our previous efforts. People have waited a long time and I want this to be a record that people can genuinely say that is well and truly worth the wait. Beyond that, I'd like to say we'd make our way to Europe, but funds would probably suggest Asia would take place first. However, never say never; if things continue to grow at the pace they have in 2014, anything is possible!
Luxi: What would your personal dream-come-true goal be that you'd like to achieve with In Malice's Wake, besides this fame & fortune thing, of course, ha ha!
Shaun: My dream come true goals are a little humble; I want to be able to look back on all our releases and be truly proud of the music we have created (you should be - Luxi). It would be amazing to play at the Euro festivals, or tour the US. Supporting and touring with our favorite bands in Oz would be another dream come true. The Krisiun show this year feels just like that to me. So long as I can keep playing our music to rooms filled with people who want to hear it, I am very happy and grateful!
Luxi: I guess that is the last question. Thank you so much Shaun for getting this interview done. I want to wish you all the best with all your future endeavors with In Malice's Wake. May your road be full of rewards. Any closing comments?
Shaun: Truly my pleasure Luxi, thank you for such personal questions relating so closely to what we've been up to over the years. It means a lot to be able to speak about my band with you and thank you so much for your well wishes.
As for closing comments, we want to thank everyone for their support over the years and helping us to continue making the music we love. We have a highly active Facebook page (www.facebook.com/inmaliceswake) and would love it if people would check it out and share it with their friends. Our worldwide store is found here: www.inmaliceswake.com/store.htm and everything we make allows us to put back into creating our Metal.
Once again thank you for the opportunity to chat, and let me know what you think of the Visions of Live Destruction DVD when it arrives at your doorstep!
|Other information about In Malice's Wake on this site|
|Review: Visions of Live Destruction|
|Review: Light Upon the Wicked|
|Interview with bassist Luke Blaso on March 11, 2012 (Interviewed by Luxi Lahtinen)|
|Interview with vocalist and guitarist Shaun Farrugia on November 26, 2015 (Interviewed by Luxi Lahtinen)|
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