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Tuesday 23 July 2019

The Spotlight: BOA New Blood Interview With Reaper X (Paul H)

Winners of the Northants final were Reaper X who fought through a challenging final to get to Bloodstock. I caught up with drummer Carl Sheldrick via phone just after he’d managed to put his young son to bed. Yes, it’s all rock n’ roll in the world of metal.

Carl joined Reaper X just under two years ago although the band have been in existence for about five years. Carl explained the circumstances around his joining the band were a bit unusual as although he’d been a metal drummer for around ten years he was previously in a pop function band with his brother playing weddings and events. The circumstances around his joining that outfit were almost a bit Spinal Tap in that the previous drummer died (although clearly the circumstances are much more tragic).The money from these gigs allowed Carl to buy his first drum kit and as the kit got bigger he then “stumbled across Reaper and here we are”.

Reaper X’s line up consists vocalist Scott Litster, guitarists Mark Innocent and Drew Reilly, Carl and bassist Jake Coles. Carl and Jake are the newer members of the band. “I was in the band for the best part of a year before Jake joined” explained Carl. The band had demoed a single Fury in Flames, which was then re-recorded to include Carl’s drum parts and Carl then completed all the drum parts for the band’s debut album Rise. If you haven’t heard the album I’d certainly recommend getting hold of a copy as it is a fine piece of work. Carl is rightly pleased with it. “Yes, we are really proud of it; there are some bits that you listen back to and think, yeah, could have done that a bit better but for a first album, then it’s something we can learn and improve from like every band”. The band also benefitted from the production support of Neil Hudson, guitarist with Krysthla who also runs his own studio. This allowed us time to both eulogise about the Northamptonshire outfit who play the main stage on the Sunday at BOA.

Reaper X describe their sound as “a new take on old thrash metal” so I asked Carl to expand on that. “We have a lot of influences from Megadeth, Maiden, Metallica, but my style is more of a nu metal style, with my favourite bands being AX7, Slipknot, All That Remains, that sort of stuff. For newcomers they can expect old style riffs with new style drumming. We want to keep it original as much as possible”. What about highlights for the band pre-BOA? “The album, definitely, but also a new line of merch has come out recently, upgraded with the new logo, and we’ve added the X to the name as there were tons of bands with the name Reaper. We are focused on promoting the album and getting our name out there”.

Time to move on to the road to Bloodstock and I asked Carl how the band got involved. “They had been involved twice before”, he explained, “the last time we reached the final and then this time we got through. In terms of organising the entry and everything that was Mark’s doing”. The build up can be intense and Carl explained that there were some very tough bands in the competition. “We always get stage fright and nerves before any show, which I think proves your heart is in it. It’s the fear of making mistakes and things going wrong that haunts you”. The final was held at the Hopfest at the Black Prince in Northampton and Carl explained that there were two stages, one outdoor [I believe our own Democratus were on the bill]. “It was an absolute scorcher of a day with a lot of people turning out, getting drunk, playing around, things like that. It was a good crowd and we were last band playing so we were lucky enough to have one of the biggest crowds of the night”. We discussed the luck of the draw in the competition and Carl acknowledged that if you are on early you are often heavily reliant on the votes of the judges to get you through. “Position does have a big effect on it “ which I would agree with.

Northants had Simon Hall [Mr Bloodstock] judging and I asked Carl how the emotions were when the announcement was made? “We had a lot of technical problems. One of the leads stopped working and one of the guitarists had to play one song at 10% and we were convinced that was it, our luck was going down hill. When they announced we had won the show we couldn’t believe it, and I think we got experienced everything from happy to scared. It was overwhelming and we did not expect it at all’. This resonates with the views of every band I’ve interviewed. A real humbleness and surprise that they have got through, complete shock and fabulously, no arrogance at all. “Absolutely”, Carl added, “there are so many talented musicians out there, you have no idea who is going to win. We were totally flabbergasted”.

So, what do Reaper X have in store for us at Bloodstock? “We’ll always look to slay it, that’s our motto to do our best” explains Carl, “we are practising a ridiculous amount now, the new material we are working on is great and we may throw in a new song, which is a lot heavier”. This will also reward the die-hards who will support the band. “Exactly. The set we played for the competition itself, we agreed to keep the set list the same so we were prepared, but we thought it would be good to get a new song out at such a great opportunity. I think it will go down really well”.

Although Carl hasn’t experienced BOA before he’s really excited and as a massive fan of Parkway Drive the slot on the Saturday is ideal for him. Jake appears to be the only one of the band to have been to the festival. Having spent a few minutes explaining just what makes the festival so great, Carl revealed. To me that he will be getting there early on Saturday as work commitments don’t allow the Friday opportunity.

One of the great pieces of feedback from all bands who play the New Blood Stage is how superb the support from the technical staff is and Carl confirmed that friends in a band that have already played there have told him how well looked after they will be. “They told us everything runs like clock work and it will be such an experience and we can’t wait”.

It was a real honour to chat with Carl and I will be making sure to check Reaper X out.The band are playing the New Blood Stage at 12.45 on Saturday 10th August.

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