With only a few days to go, I managed to catch up on another band playing the Hobgoblin New Blood Stage on Friday 10th August. Scottish progressive metal outfit Turbyne, who are one of the more experience bands on the New Blood Stage.
I started by asking guitarist Calum Walker to provide us with a quick history of the band and introduce us to the current line-up.
Calum explained,” a few of us started as a band when we were teenagers and were still learning the basics of our instruments. We started writing music and began playing local venues alongside a lot of other bands. Along the way we got to meet some great musicians with similar tastes in music and managed to talk them into joining us on our conquest. We’ve been settled in our current line up for around 3 years now and it is the best the band has ever sounded. Keith and Gary are our vocalists. Kyle on drums. Ryan on bass. Jamie on keyboards and myself (Calum) on Guitar”
Turbyne, as I noted in the introduction, have been described as that capture all word ‘progressive’ which is a kind of default label for anyone who plays things a little different and dare I say, with a bit more thought. I had a listen to Origins and Endings which I really liked, especially the contrast between the opening tracks When The Sky Opens and then Dark Of The Void. For those who haven’t heard of Turbyne, I wondered how Calum would describe their sound. ” Yeah, it’s a big of a vague label, and can come with some negative connotations” Calum said. He continued “However, we embrace it and I personally think it’s quite accurate. I would describe our sound as intense and diverse. We play heavy music, but we tend to dabble with complicated arrangements and dynamics which gives us a proggy nature. Our songs have strong narratives running throughout them, and the multiple vocal styles in the band bring it to life.
There’s a lot of different musical backgrounds and styles within the band which is apparent, but when it all comes together I believe we create something quite different”. Given their range of musical backgrounds and style, I asked Calum who the band’s main influences were. ” I would name the big two as Iron Maiden and Dream Theater” said Calum. “They’re the two that I think have shaped the band’s sound the most and a lot of listeners pick up on that too. However, there’s a heavier side to us as well that comes from our metalcore origin. More broadly, we draw influence from where we can find it, be it from jazz, classical or wherever”. So, what about something a bit more outside the metal sphere? Could Calum give us his and the band’s guilty pleasure? With some disgust on my part, Calum admits “I’m a big Phil Collins fan. There’s a lot of love for 80’s melodic rock and AOR like Journey and Night Ranger as well. I don’t think any of that’s uncool, but many do”. To be honest, we’ve had much worse than that during this series of interviews, although I think Phil Collins is unacceptable!
I moved on to talking about the band’s music.
They have a couple of releases under their belt, with Origins and Endings the most recent in 2015. I wondered how their sound and song writing developed since the first release and asked Calum to talk through how Turbyne’s music has evolved?” Yeah that’s right. Our sound has changed a great deal since our beginning. We started out as a metalcore band and as we progressed as musicians we started to push ourselves further to forge something that would be our own style”. He explained “we’ve swayed back and forth from the heavy side to the more experimental over the years but when we recorded Origins we believed we’d found a balance that was what we wanted. However, our material written since that album sounds very different again. The new stuff is diverse. Some of it is the heaviest stuff we’ve ever done, and some of it is like nothing we’ve ever done before. We’re not as worried about taking chances with our music if the payoff is something new and exciting”. Turbyne are from Dumfries and I was curious to know what the metal scene was like there. How would Calum describe it?”
"There’s a big music scene in Dumfries but not much metal any more. When we started playing there was a big heavy music scene. All our friends played instruments and were in bands and the crowds were big. That’s what motivated us to start playing. There’s a couple of bands local to us that are doing well and that’s great to see. Even though the scene isn’t the same as it once was, we have a great local following and that’s helped us keep playing and made us work hard to be a better band”. So, as you know, the main purpose of our interviews is to preview some of the bands who qualified for the Hobgoblin New Blood Stage. I know that Simon Hall invited Turbyne to play this year, which looks like a solid choice from what I’ve heard of the band. I asked Calum to tell us Turbyne’s road to Bloodstock story."
Calum was happy to expand. “We had competed in the M2TM competitions over the last couple of years. We tried hard and were lucky enough to make it to the finals but ultimately didn’t get to Bloodstock. We were really surprised and very, very happy when Simon contacted us and offered us the slot and immediately accepted. It meant so much that we were getting our chance after trying so hard for it over the years”. The band have a Friday slot on the New Blood Stage, along with nearly every band I appear to have interviewed! Whilst Turbyne will already know their stage time, the Friday seems a bit of a bonus as it gives you the rest of the weekend to relax and Friday always has the biggest buzz as things start getting into gear. There are some brilliant other new bands on the New Blood Stage as well as the Sophie Tent. I asked Calum what we can expect from them – why should those who are undecided come and watch?”
"Yeah, we’re really happy that we get to play the Friday, it’s what we were hoping for. You can expect us to bring absolutely everything we have. It’s an opportunity and great experience for us and for every band on the New Blood Stage and we will be making the most of it. We’ve prepared a set of some of our strongest material, both older and newer, and we’ve been practicing like hell. We won’t be the heaviest band playing the New Blood Stage, but I’m confident that you won’t see another band that sounds the same as us. Our sound is big, and our stage show is energetic. We aim to make a big impression on those who will be seeing us for the first time”. I for one am looking forward to seeing these guys and I think it will be great to have something a little different. Check them out if you can. What about the event itself. Who is Calum looking forward to seeing at BOA this year? “The line-up is great, I’m still writing out my schedule for the weekend. The big headliners will be in there of course, as there’s a few of them I’ve never seen before."
"I still can’t believe Mr Big are playing, I’m looking forward to that. We’re looking forward to spending a good deal of time at the New Blood Stage. It’s great chance to see some unsigned bands like us from all over the country and hearing what they’re doing”. As with all the New Blood bands. I always ask if they have been to Bloodstock before and, for anyone who has yet to experience Bloodstock, why should you go? Calum explained “A couple of us have been as spectators but this will be my first one. A lot of my friends have been to many previous years and they absolutely love it. It brings together the different avenues of metal fans under one collective, and hosts some of the best acts in the metal genre."
"With the New Blood Stage, it gives smaller bands like us opportunities and thus helps develop the future of metal music and that is very important. I can’t wait!”As we drew the interview to a close, I wanted expected that, having been around since 2001, that the band must have experienced some real highs and lows. What are Calum’s highlights so far.” I would say some of us started playing as a band back in 2001, but we became Turbyne much later so it’s not as long as it seems” Calum corrected me. “A highlight of mine was not long after we’d properly started out, Blaze Bayley (ex-Iron Maiden) played at a venue in Dumfries and we were given the chance to support his band. After we played he told us how impressed he was with the set and even asked us to sign an E.P he bought from us. Just being around someone who’d been part of Maiden was honour enough, but I’ll always remember that."
"The next year he invited us to play more shows with his band around the country and that was our first experience of being a proper, working band. Another big one was when we launched our album Origins and Endings. We’d not played in a long time, and it felt like a bit of a return for us. The response we got was amazing. We were honoured that so many came out to see us play that night and bought our record. And of course, finding out we were going to Bloodstock. It’s up there, now”. And finally, after Bloodstock what ‘s next for the band? Calum is happy to explain “we’ve got a few more gigs before the end of the year and we’ll be getting ready for the next record. It’ll be our second album and it’s shaping up to be something special for us. We’re aiming to start tracking by the end of the year and release it next year”.