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Sunday, 19 February 2017

The Spotlight: Interview With Obzidian (Interview By Paul)

Interview with Obzidian  @ HRH Metal Birmingham

It was bastard freezing outside the venue but Matty Jenks, Paul Hayward, Matt Jeffs and Baz Foster braved the icy Midlands cold to spare a few minutes of their time with the Musipedia after their stunning set at HRH Metal earlier in the day.

When we told the guys we were from South Wales Paul told us that they had been booked into Fuel a couple of years ago, but that they had been cancelled due to a refurbishment. The South Wales scene is an area Obzidian would like to get into and they were also aware of Sin City in Swansea. Hopefully we will see the band in our neck of the woods soon.

We then took the band back to the beginning, back in 2001 and Paul gave us the back story to Obzidian.

Paul: “Me, Jeffsy and Baz, we’ve been in bands since we were about 14, all went to the same school, became friends and started off little bands. Obzidian itself didn’t start until 2001 and originally, we had a singer/guitarist, a kinda James Hetfield sound until 2005 when we decided we wanted to go a lot heavier, a lot more Lamb of god style, as our influences had changed. We just wanted to do something different. So, he left, Matty came in and Baz took on all of the guitar duties because he can and we’ve been like it ever since.”

The line-up is now coming up to 11-12 years which means that Matty joined the band when he was young.

Matty confirmed: “Yeah, I joined Christmas 2005 and we played our first gig February 2006. Yeah, 11 years for me now, 11 years this month.”

We moved onto the influences on the band and with LOG the clear sound what other bands did Obzidian get their influences from?

For Baz and Paul, it was pretty clear: “Pantera, Testament, bit of Metallica” whilst Matt added that this was clearly what their sound was based around. Listen to Obliteration Process and these influences are clear.

However, along with the old-school thrash there is a mix of prog.

Matt continued “The Damned Eternal album is quite a progressive album, it’s a concept album and we were listening to a lot of Dream Theater at the time”.

The band agreed, with Paul adding “As heavy as we are, and the reviews for Obliteration Process have been great across the board, a lot of reviews pop up with a Sabbath touch which happens to us quite a lot and this always interests me you know, as we’ve never considered that but when you listen to the tracks we can kinda see where they are coming from”.

Matt added “We have got that slower groovy riff type”. Paul continued “we’ve never cited them as a main influence but I’m glad it’s there because that is the kind of sound we want, groovy, still heavy yet progressive.”

We moved on to a couple of the bands that the band have opened for including Sepultura and Arch Enemy.

The band elaborated “It’s been one off gigs here and there, you know, the tours that we’ve done have mainly been with larger underground bands”.

Paul then provided some clarity and honesty: “to be honest for the first ten years of the band’s life we didn’t know what the hell we were doing. We didn’t have any management, we didn’t have any representation, we were just trying to make the best of it ourselves, and once we got those things three or four years ago with Rocksound, now Fatangel, that’s when we started to organise things a bit better”

Back to the Sepultura slot? “Those gigs, it was just a random mention, y’know, do you want to support Sepultura? Well, yeah, of course!”

Matty expands “We had a few around that time, we got Il Nino and Onslaught (cue comments about how good Onslaught are at supporting smaller bands) and it was a strange period where you had these large bands touring and you had a lot of local bands doing opening slots which seems to have fizzled out again now.”

We discussed the current style of having loads of bands on a tour which I don’t think always works and Paul talked about Reading, and the scene there, complimenting bands such as Sylosis who have emerged from that scene. It’s an area the band would love to get into.

We rolled back to the new management of Fatangel and I asked the band what this means for them. “We were with Dan Carter at Bearded Monkey and they merged so it’s very early days, but it’s trying to get us on more of the festival slots”.

Matt continued “our entire gig calendar is thanks to Dan and he’s got us on some great festivals like this one [HRH Metal], we’re at Pentrefest in Deeside in June (which has a stellar line up) and Lostock Festival [Northwich in July] so he’s got us some great festivals and of course some little gigs in between. Dan did great things for us and merging with a bigger outfit makes sense, they are all nice guys and we get on together; this is going to be the year we get pushed a lot more and we are pushing a lot more in the band”. We can only hope this it true because you won’t find a better underground band in the UK.

Matty added “it already feels good and stress free. We all must work full time so this helps an awful lot. They just seem to have a lot more understanding.”

The band explained that it’s the small stuff that helps, avoiding the ludicrous requests to get to a venue several hours away by 6pm on a work night for a band that all have families. The understanding appears to be there and this can only be a good thing. It also avoids the slightly bigger label backlash when unrealistic demands are placed on the band.

Paul summarised “they are good people and good friends and that one to one connection is good. We don’t want to make a band a business. We are not at that level”. Ironically, when we discussed money Matty told us that his dad earnt £200 for a show back in the 1970s, the same as the band may be offered now.

We had a fantastic discussion about the music scene and how it has ebbed and flowed. These guys love their music and 200 people in a sweaty room is right up their street. We moved on to our penultimate question which was prompted by Eradikator’s cover of Panama by Van Halen. What would Obzidian choose? The band were straight on this, acknowledging that they’d done and still do lots of covers, especially in their earlier days with lots of Sabbath and Metallica.

Paul said that covering LOG “for obvious reasons” was great fun, noting that “it fits our sound and Chris Adler is one of my main influences”.

Matt added “obviously Pantera” with all the guys agreeing that they’ve covered most Vulgar Display of Power.

Paul continued “ I do like playing Five Minutes Alone, It’s a simple track for me personally and the effect that the overall track has”.

We asked about anything a bit more classic rock and the band hit on AC/DC, and a bit of the metal gods Judas Priest (given we were in the Midlands I was getting worried this far into the interview that we hadn’t got the leather rebels into the conversation by this point).

Matty laughingly added that he of course has to “Put a heavier twist to them … as I can barely sing a note!” cue much hilarity. Thin Lizzy was the other band mentioned – damn these guys have great taste!

It was time for the final question and with two pages of choices, some deliberation took place before the favourite sheep were chosen.  Obzidian took this in great spirit and we identified the Black Wensleydale, Jacob, Manx and North Ronaldsey as the four favourites. The inevitable Welsh jokes about sheep were bandied about as we brought a thoroughly enjoyable interview to a close.
A massive thanks to the band for their time and their honesty. A huge thanks to Dan Carter at FatAngel for sorting it all as well. This is a band going places. Check out Obzidian. They groove, they thrash, they fucking rock.

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