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Monday 3 June 2019

The Spotlight: Bloodstock M2TM Final Interview With Democratus By Paul H

Interview With M2TM 2019 Final Special Guest Headliners Democratus

Last year saw Cardiff’s own Democratus triumph in the final of M2TM and earn their slot at BOA on the New Blood Stage. For those who have seen Democratus in the past and who may have been at BOA, that show was an unforgettable 30 minutes with the lads holding their nerve to deliver a blistering show. I sat down with frontman Steve Jenkins to find out a bit more about their day in the sun and more importantly, what’s happened since as they prepare to hand over the crown to the 2019 winner.

Paul: We know about how the band felt when you received Rob’s verdict at Fuel last year. But what about the build up to the event? How was that for Democratus?

Steve: Hard! I’d come down with a blood infection and was feeling disgusting! Fever, hot n’ cold flushes, head was pounding throughout the week before and after! Away from my illness though, it was business as usual. Rehearse, iron out kinks in the set, work on what I was gonna babble between songs. As we weren’t taking anything for granted, we simply concentrated on giving everyone at Fuel the most passionate set we had!

Paul: Let’s move onto the BOA performance. The day itself was magical. I was on the barrier directly in front of you and Joey and the sheer joy in the band’s faces was fantastic. How did the whole experience pan out?

Steve: It was surreal. My good lady wife and Democratus admin made sure we were fed with bacon and sausage sarnies (veggie options for our Kerrin!) Then backstage we got everything ready. I admit the last 3 breaths I took went like this:

Inhale. Don’t fall over

Inhale. Don’t fuck up

Inhale. Don’t forget words!

Our intro finished and as Zak counts in the rest is on our set video! Afterwards we packed down and I kept my shit together till the last bits were packed in my car. Then as I’m about to drive back to camp the enormity of what my brothers and I just did hit me. I openly admit I wept with the realisation of what we did. The rest of the weekend was just a huge buzz, not being able to go between stages without someone stopping me to say they enjoyed our set. Which as I was wheeling my besty through the mud in his wheelchair meant I couldn’t really thank them all suitably! Knowing I’d played nine hours and 200 yards away from my first ever metal band Judas Priest was another emotional hit! For my first totally sonar Bloodstock, I was still drunk on all the love we got! Big shout out to my buddy Callum Mawson who even got our logo tattooed in the run up to it all!

Paul: The year before you won, you didn’t get through. What persuaded you to go again in 2018?What did you decide to change in your approach?

Steve: I openly admit we moped all bitter n’ twisted for a bit. I love the Malum Sky guys but I’m also super competitive, so it stung. But we got ourselves together and started a mass writing spree. What we played before was stuff from our previous line ups. We knew it was time to work on what we could do. So, we knuckled down and basically doubled our set. BTK, Is This Fear, Dead Without Dying, Revenge Eternally and Damnation all formed over those following months. We finally got the Starting Again EP released as a line under our history to get where we were but decided that on top of sending that to Simon Hall, we'd cover all bases one last time. The confidence in our stage mannerisms came naturally knowing this was the real Democratus on show. It was then down to our friends and fans to decide whether they liked what we were doing to support us. Thank fuckery they did!

Paul: There’s been a superb collection of styles and approaches to the event this year which has made it challenging for the judges. What do you feel is the biggest difficulty for them during the event?

Steve: This year has been incredible to watch musically, and it’s been exciting to see genres taking part that wouldn’t necessarily have been interested in previous years. It has opened the competitive but also the comradeship of the scene to levels I’ve not seen before. But I think the biggest difficulty has been having to not put bands through, whilst still enjoying the bands hard work. The disappointment on faces of bands who’ve left nothing spare must be crushing.

Paul: I’ve noticed that some of the bands bring large amounts of support but few of their supporters watch the other bands. I’m sure that you’re in favour of giving all bands support.

Steve: Absolutely. All bands deserve that respect as a minimum. Sadly, I think that some people, maybe through no fault of their own feel that they can only watch the band they’re supporting, rather than enjoying the spectacle. I hope it changes.

Paul: You supported Light The Torch recently and you’ve had a few other events and shows which have put the band in the spotlight. Do you think there is a direct correlation between being in the M2TM competition and getting such opportunities?

Steve: Light the Torch I think was a show separate to the others in terms of how lucky I was picking the direct approach for promoter contact. Basically, they were gonna have to beat me with a stick to stop me getting it! But in terms of shows we've had post Bloodstock, absolutely there’s a link. One of the best things about this has been getting into what I call “the network”. Being able to guest headline for other regions shows is an immense honour and one I think too few bands took advantage of in our area. Its enabled us to reach excellent crowds in new areas. If it’s done positively, the title of M2TM winners can be used to great effect. I’ll be a little sad at handing over our crown to the 2019 winners!
Paul: Apart from the Light The Torch gig, what have been the highlights for Democratus since winning M2TM?

Steve: Opening for one of my favourite comedy bands, Psychostick, heading to new areas over the UK, finding out every new venue has had at least one person that saw our Bloodstock set is amazing!

Paul: What advice would you offer to a) the winners of M2TM; b) those who didn’t make it to the final and c) those bands who don’t win on the night?

Steve: a) Enjoy it and as it does carry weight, use it. Never shut up about it (even when Paul Hutchings moans at you for it!] [cheeky bastard – PH!] and don’t think you’ve made it. You’ll still do the little shows; you just might get some costs covered this time! b) Try again if you want it. Try other means if you don’t. But don’t expect anything without the hard work being put on show. c) Do not think it’s over. Bands who give a good account of themselves are always being watched by the powers above. Do not give them reason to think “I’m glad I didn’t pick them” conduct yourself professionally and if you want it, the opportunity will come.

Paul: Democratus have built steadily since that day in August last year. What does the rest of 2019 and beyond have in store for the band?

Steve: Mixing and mastering the Damnation EP will be picking up speed soon, and new songs are being crafted. In the meantime, we're hitting as much of the UK as we can. Amplified have us in their London Final with our Blackened siblings Agrona, Hopfest alongside Vader, various M2TMs semis and of course the Cardiff final. Everything is busy and it’s just the way we like it!

Paul: It’s an honour to be friends with Democratus and to see the band bloom over the past two years has been a real joy. One of the best live bands on the circuit now, they and previous winners Agrona are two real examples of how to push on. My thanks to Steve, always a gent and always available for a word or two. Make sure that you catch their headline set at the M2TM final. It’ll be magnificent.

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