Hellripper Interview

Frantic speed, smashing memorable riffs and anthemic tracks – this is HELLRIPPER. With his highly acclaimed Coagulating Darkness, Mr. James McBain ripped the hell out of the Underground in 2017. And this continues mercilessly with everything he’s done so far since the beginning of of his dark journey. Now James has lots of exclusive news to share with us on his upcoming EP, new material, touring information as well as uncovering more about the beginning of the band, himself and his inspirations. Please welcome the Ripper of Hell himself at the Blessed Altar!

– Hello, Mr. Hellripper! Can we call you like that? Thank you for accepting our invitation! How are you in the very beginning of the new year?
– Hi Vladimir! You can call me whatever you like 🙂 I’m doing very well! After a break over Christmas, I am now looking to get back to writing and recording stuff and looking forward to what 2019 has to bring!

– First let me bring you back in time a bit. Tell us about the beginning of Hellripper and what were your main ideas behind to go into this direction of songwriting and performing?
– I started writing for Hellripper “officially” sometime in 2014 (I think). I had been writing music in a similar vein to what would eventually become Hellripper a year or two previously that was closer in sound to ‘Agent Orange’ by Sodom but that was scrapped as I wasn’t too pleased with the end result.

I started writing this kind of music just because I love thrash/punk/speed metal and it became a one-man project solely because I didn’t know anyone at the time that was interested in the same stuff as me or that was interested in playing that sort of thing. There were no plans originally to play any live shows with Hellripper since it was just a project by myself recorded in my bedroom. But as it gained a bit of popularity, I decided to get a live line-up together.

– How hard is to be a sole member band? What are the challenges? Especially for the live shows when you must deal with other musicians?
– Being a one-man band has its advantages and disadvantages. My favourite thing about it is that there is no compromise musically. I don’t have to water down my ideas or anything which is great, and I can write and record everything at home and take as long as I want to do so. This does however, mean it takes me more time than I would like to write/record/release stuff since I must find the time to do everything at home and try not to fuss over every little detail haha.

Regarding playing live shows, in most cases I try to get friends of mine involved to play with me (most of which I have played with in other bands in the past).

– How has forming a band around your individuality allowed Hellripper to expand their audience or contributed to the music itself? Or as it at all? 
– I guess being a one-man band has allowed me to have a more personal connection with my audience online for example. I am the only person that uses the band’s social media accounts and I do enjoy speaking to like-minded people that share a similar taste in music or whatever.

– Many always claim or seem to have what they believe are a band or artist’s main influences nailed down by comparing them to the past. The readers would love to hear from you specifically what bands and influences you’ve drawn from to create the sounds of Hellripper?
– The list could be never-ending but a bunch of influences for Hellripper include bands like: Venom, Sabbat [JPN], Darkthrone, Toxic Holocaust, Midnight, Megadeth, Metallica, TANK, Bathory, Slayer, Anti-Cimex, Discharge, Sodom, Kreator, Cruel Force, Ranger, Evil Invaders, Enforcer, Motorhead, Mercyful Fate, Celtic Frost, AC/DC and so on and so on.

– “Coagulating Darkness” turned to be a massive anthem album and absolute worship for the UG fans! Were you ready for such success and how do you see and accept the success in general?
– It ended up getting FAR more attention than I expected and for that I am immensely grateful. It’s great to see that a lot of people enjoy the album and it means a lot to me. So, of course the goal now for future releases is to keep to the standard of quality of ‘Coagulating Darkness’ and hopefully improve on it with each release.

It’s quite hard for myself to judge the level of success of ‘Coagulating Darkness’ or indeed the band in general as I am based in Scotland, whereas the majority of my audience are based in either Europe or North America. We will be touring Europe in April which should hopefully be fun, and the goal after that is just to get to as much other places as possible!

– To dive a bit more into the album…To date we’ve been treated to some fantastic songwriting, frenetic fretwork and stellar production values. What are your main inspirations you draw from in creating the tracks themselves? Dark subject matter like ‘Anneliese’ from “Coagulating Darkness” for example taking on the true story and possession of Anneliese Michel.
– When writing lyrics to the songs, they will usually turn out one of two ways. They will usually either be based on a true story such as the one of Anneliese Michel you mentioned, or it will be some over the top fun Satanic stuff like in ‘Nunfucking Armageddon 666’. I am fascinated by these true stories and a recurring topic you may notice in my lyrics is that of witch trials but sometimes it’s just fun to be a little less “serious”.

– I must definitely ask you this one – when can we expect vinyl of “Coagulating Darkness” available again?
– Unfortunately, I have no idea at the moment. That would have to be a question for the label. I think CD’s are due to be repressed at some point in the near future so hopefully vinyls will follow suit.

– You have a new EP coming soon. Tell us more about it. What details can you share with us at this point of time?
– I do! The EP will be released in April although it hasn’t “officially” been announced yet. The EP will be titled ‘Black Arts & Alchemy’ and contains 4 new songs. The CD version of the release will contain an additional cover song too. I can’t really share more than that yet, but the announcement should be soon and hopefully a new track will be released too.

– We’ve been treated to relentless riffing from the opening notes of ‘Flesh Ripper’ through the breakneck and massive “Coagulating Darkness”. What can we expect from the new EP that perhaps we haven’t heard from Hellripper to this point?
– The EP contains some of my best work yet (in my opinion) and I feel it is a continuation of where I left off with ‘Coagulating Darkness’. The production is better and there is an increased punk influence in the songs this time around. I’m really looking forward to getting this out there for others to hear!

– You had a charity campaign around Christmas on your split album with Barbatos. What was your main goal by doing it and how did it go?
– It went quite well! I was donating all money from digital sales on Bandcamp from December 1st until December 24th to Barnardo’s charity which helps vulnerable and disadvantaged children. One of the best things that Hellripper has allowed me to do is help others in some way with my music. I often donate portions of my album sales to different charities and I ran a similar campaign last December too. The only goal of this is to help people that are less fortunate than myself because I am in a very lucky position to be able to do that.

– Congratulations! Ok, now tell us more about yourself. Who is James McBain? And what do you love doing in your “non-metal” time?
– I am 23 years old, Scottish and in my free-time, if I am not writing or playing music then I am usually just listening to music or watching TV. I like going to shows when I can and I’m a massive football (soccer) fan so I enjoy watching that when I can.

– And who is James vs Mr. Hellripper? What’s the difference there? Does being on stage and the studio, and creating such powerful songs, change you?
– I don’t think it changes me at all. There is no “act” or anything with Hellripper. I don’t pretend to be evil or Satanic or whatever. I’m just a fairly normal person that enjoys creating and playing

– What are you touring plans for this year, after releasing the EP? Live shows will follow, right?
– We currently have a European tour booked for April which will coincide with the release of the EP and we have a couple of shows near the end of the year at Bloodshed Fest in the Netherlands and at Byker Grave Fest in Newcastle, England. That’s all we have booked for the moment, but we are always looking to play more whenever we can!

All our live dates can be found over on our website at Hellripper.com or you can keep up-to-date with us on Facebook.

– Do you have ideas and materials for new full-length album and when can we expect anything in this direction from you?
– I do indeed! I have about 6 songs almost fully written at this current time with a few more in progress. I hope to get everything done and recorded by Summer. So, if everything goes to plan, the album should be released in late 2019/early 2020.

– How does the Underground scene look through your eyes nowadays?
– The underground scene is very strong right now and, in my opinion, has been growing steadily over the past few years. There are plenty of great bands releasing albums right now and I hope it continues!

– Will you change something in order to become mainstream? What does actually the mainstream look like for you?
– I wouldn’t change anything to become mainstream. I’m not a fan of the uniform and standardised sound that a lot of mainstream metal bands seem to adopt, and I think the underground scene is a response to that. If Hellripper were to become more popular or accepted by more people, it would still have to be on my own terms. I would never compromise my values and vision for it.

– Is there any particular band you would love to be on a stage with – now or back in time, if you could make this travel back then?
– Metallica 1989 – 1991, is there anyone better?

We are playing a show with Midnight in April which is exciting. Obviously, they are one of my favourite bands so I’m happy that to be happening.

– James, is there anything else you would like to share with us and tell to our horde of underground lovers?
– Thank you to all who have supported the band so far and to anyone that has listened to the music! Look out for our new EP ‘Black Arts & Alchemy’ this April and the following live shows! Check out our Bandcamp page to hear our music or buy merch and ‘like’ us on Facebook to keep up to date with our goings on!

– Thank you very much for taking time for this interview and being our guest! We are looking forward to the new Hellripper material and of course to have a chance to talk to you again soon! Have a successful 2019!
– Cheers Vladimir!

Interview by Mö and Count Vlad

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