INTERVIEW WITH DAVE SILVER
So Dave when was the band exactly formed and how did you hook up with each other?
The band formed towards the end of May 2007 and we started rehearsing properly a couple of weeks later around early June. Basically the whole project came about after I decided that my previous act had run its course and I wanted to start working with musicians of a higher caliber and also people who shared not only my musical outlook but also a realistic approach to the industry. We hooked up really just through the scene of bands in the UK. My previous act was relatively well known and obviously I had material at hand, so it allowed things to happen very smoothley. Line-up wise we’ve done well because with a new band it can take sometime to get the right balance of people but we’re working together really well and all the gigs have gone great. There’s a good chemistry between us and the balance I would say is really good.
Would you say, that you are experienced and talented musicians since you played in several acts before Savage Messiah? Can you tell us more about your musical background?
Everyone in the band has plenty of experience. I mean Pete’s played in Dragonforce, Marshall Law, Axxis of Power, Geared 4, Razor ov Occam...he’s brought a real solidarity to the project, not just in the quality of his drumming but in his experience as well. James has played at a lot of massive venues in the UK in a session capacity he’s also a fantastic guitar player. Chris as well has played in plenty of bands around the UK. My background was in a band called Headless Cross, with whom we played Bloodstock Open Air in 06 with Edguy, Stratovarious, Metal Church etc...we also opened for Onslaught, Orange Goblin, Stress Factor 9 etc...I think that’s why we’ve been able to get things rolling very quickly, and to be honest that’s why there was absolutely no trepidation in putting a new act together once I knew that the right guys were out there.
Dave, the entire line-up of Headless Cross other than you departed in mid-2006 following a dispute between you and Jack Wilks. What happened exactly?
There’s no truth to that, however I have read that somewhere before. We actually parted very amicably with a handshake when he came over to my place to collect his gear. I look back on all that now and think it’s just one of those things. In truth I suppose we really paid the price for doing too many unnessecary gigs and everyone got fed up. We were totally over ambitious and wasted lots of money on stupid things. We were kids basically and in those situations the biggest shame is that you lose friends as a result, looking back on the musical side of things some of it was very good, some of it was not so good and I don’t think we would have been able to go any further due to the limitations of the band as players. It’s important that you move forward in life and if people aren’t going in the same direction then you inevitably leave them behind, its just the way it goes.
What were your influences to become musicians and what made you form the band?
Speaking for myself on this one, I started playing guitar at about 12 and I was just really taken with the instrument and I’ve spent the last 8 years learning and improving my technique. My primary influences were people like Jimi Hendrix, Michael Schenker etc..then I got into all the shred guitar players. After that I discovered metal and just over the years got into lots and lots of different bands and drew influences from all the stuff I liked. I never had really formal lessons and when I was 14 I formed my first band.
Who came up with the name of the band?
The name comes from an obscure English film with Ken Russell and Helen Mirren. So at the first rehearsal we had a break and went up to the local pub to discuss the ins and outs of the project. I put it to the guys and we all agreed that it fit in with our vision of what the band was and decided to run with it.
Did you start writing originals right from the start or were you jamming on covers?
Back in the baby band days we used to do a lot of covers and the odd original, but as my writing developed we phased out all the covers. With Savage Messiah there was what was left of my songs from the Headless Cross days and some new stuff that we started working on from day one. We also threw in a cover of “Nailed to the Gun” by Fight as our encore song.
How many demos did you record? What about them as a whole?
In my life I’ve recorded quite a few. My first studio experience was at Madhat in Wolverhampton as a 14year old, and we cut a 2 track demo. Then with every incarnation I’ve played with we’ve tryed to get some form of demo done. I think we did about 5 demos in total for Headless Cross, and then I did the record which turned into Savage Messiah.
You entered the Sable Rose Studios during February to cut your debut material SPITTING VENMOM. What about the recordings sessions? How long did the recordings take?
The recording sessions took quite a long time. We ended up finishing the mixing in May. Things took much longer than planned but turned out better than expected. Also towards the end I actually went back and re-recorded a lot of the previous guitar players parts which cost us a week or so. When you enter into a recording though I think you need a tremendous amount of patience, and then when it’s all done you can enjoy the results.
Was it your first studio experience or…?
No, I’ve had quite a lot of studio experience in the past.
Were you prepared to record the material? Did you have a decent budget to record the material?
We prepared as normal for any recording. Andy did us a great price on studio time, and we managed to get the whole thing done for very little. That allowed me to set up the label, sign the distribution deal and get everything rolling on the business side of things.
Could you do us a song to song description about the material as a whole?
“Spitting Venom” – This song is a good thrasher, lots of melodic guitars as well. Lyrically its a bit of a “fuck you” to anyone I might feel a degree of antipathy towards!
“Frontline” – This is my quasi apocalyptic vision of the future. I like the music to this one, its quite technical. It’s probably more Asimov than Orwell. I just wanted to throw some diversity in there.
“Servant To Your Death”– Another thrasher, catchy with some cool harmonies in the middle. A good live song.
“Heavens Gate”– This is a slightly more epic number, the middle spoken section is from the Buddhist Holy Book, and i suppose its a bit ambiguous.
“W.D.U.”– Another straight ahead rocker, I suppose it’s a bit Testament, I like the solos.
“Conspiracy in Silence”– Just a casual insight into what dealing with mental illness might be like. It’s a balladesque track. I like this one, it has unusual chord progressions.
“In for the Kill”– This is a really great live song. Fast, cool melodies, good solos. A lot of people dig this song.
What about the song composing as a whole? I mean, who wrote the lyrics and the music and what about the songs lyricswise?
On the cd every song is written by myself. I had some outside contributions from a fantastic American guitar player called Dave Justo, who came over for a month and jammed with us. Also, I had some assistance in arrangement from the previous drummer Ben Perry.
The album was produced, mixed and engineered by Andy Faulkner, mastered by Jez Clark, did they do a good job? Were you satisfied with their work?
Yeah, I was very pleased with the finished product. Andy put so many hours into the cd, he worked really hard. And Jez does a great job at mastering, always a quick turn around, and he’s a nice guy to work with as well.
Why was the record mastered at the Endless Studios?
Thats Jez’s studios, he operates independatly as a producer himself. So we mastered the cd in Birmingham at his place.
How did you promote, spread the material? What kind of reviews did you get on it?
We’ve been promoting it the best way we can. I’ve sent god knows how many promo cds out, and we’ve had a lot of positivity from the press. The support that we’ve gained has been very grassroots and even though it’s really early days for us we’ve begun to build a strong reputation in our homeland.
Did you do some gigs, shows to promote the record?
We’ve spent the last 3 months gigging, and as an active band we’re planning to do around 3 to 4 shows a month. The gigs have been really cool, and we’ve been lucky that all the shows have been well attended. You have to be selective with the shows, but we’re doing well at the moment, and its been really cool to play with some other killer bands like Damnas, Crowning Glory, Doctor Death, Divine Chaos etc..
As far as myself, it’s a killer old scool, Bay Area influenced thrash with modern sound. Do you agree with me?
Absolutely! I think that’s the perfect way to define what we do.
Dave, as far as your voice, it’s a good mix of Zetro Souza’s and Rob Flynn’s. How do you view it? It reminds me to these singers…
That’s cool, I like Machine Head and Exodus. I’m probably the biggest Rob Halford fan in history although I don’t think I could sing like him! My voice is improving though, and I’m still real young, so I think I will get better as well. My idea of a perfect heavy metal voice is Phil Anselmo around the COWBOYS FROM HELL record. His singing on that cd is utterly brilliant.
It seems, you prefer the Bay Area style thrash metal. What do you think about it? Would you say, that you strive to add catchy melodies and riffs in your music?
We definitely want our music to be interesting, and I think that for me the best way of making it interesting is to be varied within a defined sound. Obviously, we’re not gonna start adding reggae into our sound but we don’t want to play just straight up thrash. There are already many bands who play that stuff better than we could, and I think one of our big stand out points is the depth in melody that we have.
On the base of the band photo I’d say you are comparatively young. What do you recall from the heyday of the UK thrash scene, when bands started popping up, such as Sabbat, Virus, D. A. M., Xentrix, Onslaught, Energetic Krusher, Acid Reign, Annihilated, etc.? Could you tell us more about it?
It was quite funny when we opened for Onslaught who are really cool guys, I was chatting to Nige Rocket and he said that Onslaught hadn’t had a record out for 17 years...to which I replied “That’s nearley as old as me!!” My knowledge of UK thrash started when I was about 16 buying 2nd hand vinyls. The first of the UK bands I liked was Xentrix and I got both SHATTERED EXISTENCE and FOR WHOSE ADVANTAGE?, very Metallica but ace. Then I picked up the FORCE RECKON record by Virus, a bit raw for me, I really liked Onslaught’s IN SEARCH OF SANITY though, as a big Grim Reaper fan I though Grimmett was awesome on that record. Acid Reign and Sabbat were never really my thing and I’ve not heard of the other two!!
How old are you exactly?
I’m 20 years old, for the next 3 months anyway!
Would you say that in Britain, in the UK, did thrash metal have a strong fan base, like for example in Germany? Did the British thrash bands play an important role in the forming of the European thrash scene during the ’80s?
I was only about 2 years old when it was all happening for the first time, but from what I’ve heard from the old timers is that there wasn’t a tremendous ammount of support for UK acts. I’d like to think that the UK bands played their part. I don’t think UK thrash made a big impact though, not like the American and German acts who are still massive today. It could be seen as idicative of UK audiences however as we haven’t had a worldwide heavy hitting metal act since the days of Judas Priest, Iron Maiden, Saxon etc...the classic acts.
Were the British thrash bands underrated by the media or respected?
Apart from Sabbat, I don’t think there was much support from the UK media. That’s definately changed with the new wave of thrash bands, the media seems to have got right behind it.
How do you view all of those reformations that happened in the last 3-4 years, such as Heathen, Onslaught, Mortal Sin, Death Angel, Nuclear Assault, etc.? What would you say about their comeback records compared to their classic ones?
In the case of Onslaught and Death Angel, their comeback cds kicked big time. I really like KILLING PEACE. It’s a real modern sounding thrash cd. I wasn’t so into THIRD WORLD GENOCIDE, but Nuke have obviously set a very high bench mark with records like SURVIVE and HANDLE WITH CARE. I even liked most of OUT OF ORDER. I haven’t heard anything new from Australian thrashers Mortal Sin, but I’d definately like too.
Would you say that thrash metal came back in the common knowledge?
It would certainly seem that Thrash has been making a come back.
Especially in the States nowadays there is a strong thrash movement with bands, such as Merciless Death, Fueled By Fire, Avengor of Blood, Enforcer, but in Sweden are also good old school thrash bands nowadays, such as Oppression, Corrupt, Caustic Strike, Conductor, etc. They are raising the flag of old school thrash metal high…
Absolutely, and the UK has produced a lot of strong acts as well.
Please name us the first ten most influential, most classic thrash records of all time! What can you add to these materials?
I’ll name the records that really influenced me in my musical development!
Nuclear Assault - SURVIVE, this record has a real vibe about it and I thought it was the coolest thing in the world when I was 16
Megadeth – PEACE SELLS, Great record, not a bad song. I once owned this on tape, cd, vinyl and picture disc!
Reverend – WORLD WON’T MISS YOU, Dave Wayne R.I.P, really into this band. Great hooks and lots of attitude in the riffs.
Sanctuary – REFUGE DENIED, More trad than thrash, but a truly killer record. Always liked the quality of the song writing on this album
Overkill – HORRORSCOPE, I guess the obvious one is under the influence, but I think with this cd they really found their groove and wrote some genuinely brilliant songs.
Vicious Rumours – WELCOME TO THE BALL, Awesome vocalist, and one of the best opening songs on any thrash record. Abandoned!!!!!!
Anthrax – FISTFUL OF METAL, Never liked the later stuff, but this cd just rocks...loads of attitude and great vocals from Neil Turbin.
Testament – THE NEW ORDER, Great album, great songs, great musicians.
Kreator – VIOLENT REVOLUTION, Most people would go for the early stuff, but for me the later Kreator is just killer, riffs, melodies, harmonies. Brilliant!
Annihilator – NEVER, NEVERLAND, Great guitar player, great song writer. This is still one of my favourite records for a long time.
Thanks a lot for the feature, anything to add that I forgot to mention?
Thanks for the interview, and to all the Metal Heads in Hungary!!! Have a killer New Year, and keep a look out for Savage Messiah in 2008.