Thrashist Regime Interview

A powerful wave of merciless thrash madness is taking over the world. Massive riffs, breathtaking rhythm, vocals of a beast. Ladies and Gentlemen: The World is under the new regime – Thrashist Regime! Hide the family, hide the kids, hide yourself! A massive violent Carnival of Monsters rules upon the Regime and they are ready to crush you in their reign.
There are few grey cardinals, standing behind this apocalyptic epidemic and responsible for this fury. I made it – contacted their headquarters in order to talk to one of them to understand more about their leadership program. (Read here our review)

– Hello, Joe! It’s a pleasure to have you here for a chat for Blessed Altar Zine! How are you?
– Very well, thanks for asking! Congratulations on making it here – most don’t make it past the minefield, the lasers or the gigantic guard wolves.

– Please tell us more about Thrashist Regime. How the gang was born, what’s the story behind the band?
– We started in the last few months of 2007. Amazing that that seems like the distant past already, but somehow it’s the case! Anyway, I got seriously into thrash metal sometime around 2005 – a bit later than most, I guess… I was always into a bit of Metallica, and then Megadeth, but then one day I heard the album Suiciety by Realm, then Twisted into Form by Forbidden and Heathen’s Victims of Deception and I discovered that here were so many more bands in this amazing genre that were really blowing my mind! I used to wear this big RAF greatcoat to work with a huge pair of New Rock boots and one of my colleagues said I was a thrashist, not a fascist, and suddenly I thought “wow, Thrashist Regime would be a great name for a band…”. I knew Kyle vaguely and always saw him out at our local metal club. I knew he liked Megadeth and Testament and every time I saw him we would joke that we were going to start this thrash band called ‘Thrashist Regime’. It happened so often that it got to the point where I thought it was a bit of a joke and wouldn’t really ever happen. But one day at the pub he was there with Rich, and Kyle said “this guy is going to be our other guitarist.” And Dan was there, and he’s a guitarist really, but he said he played a bit of drums and he’d happily come along and hit things and see how it worked out. So I phoned the practice rooms that moment and we had our first jam a few days later. It was shambolic but somehow encouraging. Then Parker bumped into Kyle a few days after that and asked him if he knew of any thrash bands looking for a guitarist. And Kyle said, no, but he knew one who were looking for a bassist…

– Would you present the rest of the Regime leaders and their positions?
– Field Marshal Kyle Forbes – Guitars, backing vocals, shorts, exciting shirts
Wing Commander Rich Thomson – Guitars, vests, additional roaring
Brigadier Dan Middleton – Drums, percussion, dangerous rumbling
Rear-Admiral Alex Parker – Bass, general rage

– What is actually to be under your regime?
– To be dedicated to the cause of thrash! And to laugh in the face of ridiculousness and become its master.

– You explicitly point out “Thrashist not Fascist”…
– Yeah, we definitely don’t want to be mistaken for those guys, and people seem to easily get the wrong idea these days so we figured we’d spell it out to them just in case! Like the Dead Kennedys with their ‘Nazi Punks Fuck Off’. We’re not interested in the support of people like that and we don’t want to be associated with them.

– What does it take to make good thrash songs? Especially now in 2018…
– I think a lot of bands make the mistake of trying to be the heaviest band or the fastest band or the evilest band or whatever and we’re really not interested in any of that. We don’t think about any of that stuff, we just want to write fun thrash songs that have decent riffs and decent lyrics. Thrash can be a scene that suffers from a lack of good or original ideas at times. We’re not interested in writing a song about thrash, for example – it’s much more fun to write about more unlikely things, like rural Scottish hotel explosions, or ants attacking the Antarctic. Having said that we did do one about zombies on the latest album but hopefully we gave it a different slant. I’d say there are also too many bands that consciously try to ape another more famous band – there are a lot of Slayer clones or Metallica sound-alikes – it’s much better just to do your own thing and develop your own identity. Hopefully we’ve done that.

– Bay area or Teutonic thrash? And what are your main influences?
– Bay area, for the most part, although both are great. I absolutely love modern Kreator – Phantom Antichrist is my favourite album they’ve ever done, which always upsets thrash purists when I tell them that. But for the most part I love the Bay area bands, especially some of those ones that didn’t make it so big. Forbidden are my absolute favourite – Twisted Into Form is one of the finest records ever written. I love Heathen too, and we all dig a bit of Testament. We used to do a pretty ropey cover of Into The Pit when we first started. There’s a lot of love throughout the band for the obvious big names – Metallica, Megadeth, Anthrax and so on. But I really love so much underrated thrash – Atrophy, Sacrifice, Wargasm. And Paradox and Vendetta from Germany, they were great bands too. And of the new crop, I love Evile, and especially Vektor, but they’re something else entirely. All these bands are influences in some way, and plenty more!

– If you could choose one metal band to share a stage with, which one would it be?
– Anthrax would be pretty awesome. We got to open for Exodus in the past, and Death Angel, but Anthrax would be taking it to another level. They’re the most fun of the big thrash bands, I think they’d suit us the best.

– Your crushing new record “Carnival of Monsters” was released at the very end of April. Why did it take so long to have you kick butt again after “Fearful Symmetry” (out in 2012)?
– Oh, man, thanks for the kind words. That’s really appreciated. Yeah, it has taken us a while with the second album. We had some health issues within the band – one of our members required an organ transplant, which put us out of action for about a year, and we record pretty slowly anyway. We’re all busy guys with full-time jobs – this isn’t a career for us, so we have to fit it in around everything else that everyone else is doing, including Dan Goldsworthy, our producer and artist. And Parker lives in Edinburgh now, 200km away from the rest of us. We’ve had most of the material for a while now. A few of the songs we were already playing by the time the first album came out, six years ago!

– Where’s this carnival and who are the monsters?
– Ha ha! Hopefully it’s in the house of everyone who buys the album! The title actually came from a 1970s Dr Who adventure. I just thought it seemed like a great thrash metal album title and kind of made sense given the subject matter of loads of the songs we had seemed to concern different monsters, be that zombies, aliens, colossi, marauding ants or whatever. When I suggested it to Kyle he was really positive because he had written this circus-esque riff that he thought was too silly to use, but with a carnival theme it was perfect. It’s the fun riff in the middle of the last song, Metacidal Massacre.

– Any Symmetry of Monsters?
– Well, yes, in a way! The song Metacidal Massacre is actually all about a gigantic time-travelling monster that travels through the centuries destroying all the characters we mentioned on our first album, Fearful Symmetry. So it kills the Romans mentioned in The Die Is Cast, and the guys from Universal Soldier which we wrote about in Unisol, and the characters from the Spider-man adventure Kraven’s Last Hunt which we did a trilogy of songs about as well!

– “Carnival” is an impressive album, among the finest thrash records most recently. My brother in arms K-Man defined it as “the benchmark thrash album of 2018” in his review on Blessed Altar Zine. Could you please tell us more details about it and what’s the recipe to make one hour of laughter then madness then death?
– That’s really high praise indeed and we’re absolutely delighted that people have been so positive about the album. K-Man in particular wrote an amazing review of it which made me smile so much when I saw it. In terms of a recipe, I don’t know, it’s hard, because the way we work we don’t really go into it with this big coherent idea. It’s not like we’re a full-time band who spend 2 weeks together just writing for the album; the songs come together over months and years and when you’ve got enough you figure it’s time to record them. We were lucky in that they did actually fall together in quite a coherent way, and the title lent itself to the amazing artwork that Dan Goldsworthy did for us – and he did quite a few brilliant pieces that are all in the CD booklet too! I think one of the key things for us is that everyone in the band helps with the writing, so there are songs by everyone. I think that really helps the album not become boring because everyone has slightly different writing styles which means it doesn’t become too samey with all the songs sounding similar as can happen sometimes when a band has only one main songwriter.

– Which is your favourite track of the album and why?
– I love all the songs, no kidding, but the first and the last ones in particular really float my boat. If I had to pin down just one it would be Metacidal Massacre. It’s structurally just really interesting, kind of progressive, and the whole last section is the most epic thing we’ve ever done. The boys pulled some amazing guitar solos out of the bag and the harmony section that ends the album I just think is completely brilliant.

– If you compare “Carnival” to “Symmetry”, what’s the difference?
– The songs on Carnival are so much more developed and complex. If you look at the running times of the tracks and albums it tells most of the story – on Fearful Symmetry we had quite a few songs clocking in at under three minutes, and on Carnival of Monsters there are only two under four minutes. As a whole, Carnival is 20 minutes longer but both albums have the same number of songs! The production on Carnival is better too, a little more natural. Things were a little robotic on the first record – it still sounded great but I really prefer the more natural feel on the new one, particularly in the drums. It’s kind of fresher-sounding, somehow.

– What’s coming for Thrashist Regime in 2018 and 2019? What should we expect from Thrashist Regime?
– Hopefully we’ll get out and play a few shows here and there and sell a few CDs. It’s been a while since we did any intense gigging so would be good to get back on that particular bus and spread the thrash around the place! Who knows, maybe we’ll do a Christmas single that goes platinum and gets us some of that sweet, sweet Noddy Holder money…

– And what we shouldn’t expect from you guys?
– Electro-pop shoegaze breakdowns or songs about shagging.

– The Scottish metal scene was going very well up to around 2005, what happened after?
– We showed up and ruined everything, ha ha! No, really, I don’t know. Is that right? I didn’t realise there was much difference before and after that date. I would say that things are a bit different for young bands these days; there are less and less venues doing live music and they pay worse and worse. And even convincing people to leave their houses to come to local gigs is hard. Maybe people would rather stay in and play computer games or watch Netflix, I don’t know. It’s also much harder for bands to get signed now, because there’s just no money in recorded music or even in playing gigs now. That’s got to put a lot of people off. The only people making music now are those who are prepared to lose a bunch of money and who do it just because they love doing it.

– Any young bands you can name recently besides Thrashist Regime?
– I don’t know if we really count as ‘young’ any more, we’ve been at this over a decade now! But there are definitely loads of decent underground thrash bands in Scotland and around the UK. Black Talon and Disposable from Edinburgh are both excellent in different ways, we had them both up to Aberdeen for our CD launch and they were brilliant! There’s actually an excellent and comprehensive new book and 5-CD set that has just come out about the history of UK thrash called Contract in Blood which features loads of the UK’s underground thrash bands. We’re on it, and it’s definitely worth checking out if you want to discover some thrash you might not have previously heard about!

– How do you personally see the metal scene in 2018?
– Maybe I kind of covered that already! I guess we live in interesting times – I think this might be the last age in which there are really huge bands like Metallica, Maiden and Priest who can really command massive audiences all over the world. I think in the relatively near future when they have all retired they won’t really be replaced in the same way as they exist now. Because of the way people consume music nowadays and the problems I mentioned about making any money out of it, the days of mega-rich music icons may be drawing to a close. It will be interesting to see what happens. However, on the other side of the coin, it’s now so easy to find bands all over the world online that sub-genres will never completely die, which I think is a great thing. In the pre-internet age it was incredibly difficult to find out about really specific sub-genres – for example, if you discovered you love progressive death-tinged tech-thrash with black metal vocals then how would you find other bands in that genre in the old days? It was impossible! But now you can find exactly what you like and discover bands all over the globe playing stuff you like. So in a way there’s a lot more awareness of the global metal scene and there are more bands than ever before to check out, and there are bands out there catering for all different tastes, so in that way things are pretty good…

– Digitalization, Internet, CDs… but when can the biggest fans and the collectors expect vinyl of “Carnival”?
– It’s great to know people are calling for that. I personally think the artwork and presentation of the album deserves a vinyl release. We have talked about it and hopefully if we break even on the CD then any profit we make can be ploughed back into producing a vinyl version, although it’s so long it will require a double gatefold, which drives up the unit price… I’m sure we’ll be paying it off until we’re all dead. Anyway, fingers crossed we can get there in a few months and make it happen!

– Is the music your main occupation? What do you do in your spare time?
– Very much not, sadly! Playing thrash metal is what we do in our spare time! We do various everyday boring jobs. I work in University administration, one of us works in the hospital, one works in document control… it’s a rock ‘n’ roll world…

– What’s your main message for the audience in your music, lyrics and gigs?
– That music is fun, and a little bit of silliness is healthy and everyone should stop taking themselves so seriously! And that a gig is a real two-way thing between the band and the audience. There are too many bands taking things too seriously where the frontman leaps onstage in a tiny pub, shouts at the crowd like he’s playing in front of 80,000 people, doesn’t look anyone in the eye and launches into a song about his own personal tragedy… That’s really not what we’re about. Stand on stage, look around, say hello to everyone, have a laugh and sing a song about ants attacking the Antarctic or that time your local pub blew up in a gas explosion. People will relate to you a whole lot better and enjoy your show and leave with a smile on their face and feeling better about the world!

– Would you like to add or share anything else with us?
– Just thanks to everyone who has shown an interest in the band, especially those who have even actually paid their own money for a CD or shirt or added us to a Spotify playlist or whatever. It all makes a difference and helps us to continue what we’re doing. Hopefully we’ll see some of you at a gig sometime! Horns up! \m/

– Joe, I would like really to thank you for your time for this interview! It’s been a real pleasure! Looking forward to hearing from you soon with more news about Thrashist Regime!
– Thanks for taking the time to check in with us. Much appreciated!

Interview by Count Vlad

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