Quick! Hasten thee to the nearest live gig – those crazy melo-death, folk metal bastards Claim the Throne are on tour – right bloody now! And just the other day I caught up with Glen ‘Dysie’ Dyson, one of the band’s many guitarists, for a delightful wordy-exchange.
So last Friday was the first gig of the Australian tour (a select number of dates through January and February); how was that? He’s suitably enthused: “It went really well. It was a great way to start things off.”
The band are touring on the back of their latest album On Desolate Plains (more about that in a moment), but there will also be some masterclasses and workshops on topics such as the filthy, dirty music industry, musicianship, and pop-swigging. “Yeah, we’re trying something a little bit different. Because we have our base in Perth – and it’s an expensive exercise to get over to the east and back – so we have a few days off here and there and rather than sit around doing nothing, we thought we’d try and do something a little bit more constructive and do an all-ages workshop.”
This seems like a pretty sweet idea given Dysie’s experience with Soundworks Touring and the Prime Cuts Music label. Throw in the fact that Ash (drums) and Brendon (vocals & guitars) knock out a regular podcast and it’s a wealth of knowledge ripe for the picking. He adds that “We’ll also have some local music guys involved too, and hopefully people might learn something and get involved in the music industry.”
You’ve been with the band for several years – why melodic death metal with a heavy folk twist? “I’ve always been into melodic death metal – and folk metal; it’s fun, folk metal is fun to play,” I can’t argue with that; I rank a Korpiklaani gig as one of my all-time favourites. Dysie continues, adding “It’s all fun melodies, and you can have a bit of a jig to it while playing it.” But he observes that while folk metal is fun to play, it isn’t overly challenging and “We wanted to push ourselves a bit further with the songs so as we’ve progressed that’s what’s happened; it’s a bit more intense to play on stage and we no longer drink as much! The fun element is still there but we do have to be on top of our game!” I mention that the instrumentation, song-structures, and layering on On Desolate Plains are very intense, and he responds humbly with “Thank you – that was the whole point, to challenge ourselves and we tried stepping it up a notch.” Damn straight it’s been stepped up a notch – the album is fucking mental – which leads me into my next question about the any expected difficulties with playing the new album in a live arena.
He mentions the long hours of practice that went into rehearsals before recording the actual album, noting “There’s nothing on the album that we couldn’t play live – we didn’t want to be one of those bands that writes all this ridiculous music that we can’t actually play live. Every song we wrote, we wanted to be able play live, and the good thing was that, because of all the practice, when we went to record, we knew every note really well so the recording process was quite cruisy. So far I think we’ve played, out of the twelve songs on the album, seven of them live so it’s translated quite well. We’ve had to practice a lot in order to nail it but that’s only improved our playing which is only a good thing.”
Having played some large festivals last year (think Hammersonic 2017), do you think the music benefits from a massive festival setting or comes off better in a small club? “To be honest, as much as playing big festivals is a lot of fun, I much prefer the smaller setting. I would much rather play a heaving room with 100 people just going bonkers – there’s no easy way to say it but while it’s a huge buzz to play festivals, the fans are like five metres away behind a massive barrier. In a sweaty show like the one in Perth the other day, there’s no barrier and there are people right in front of you, right up in your face,” Dysie’s getting more and more animated as he recollects, continuing “They’re head-banging, there’s a crazy mosh pit going, and they’re literally just a foot away. It stinks, it’s sweaty, it’s dirty but that’s what I like. I like it being that close to you.” I can tell he does.
I mention that Claim the Throne were the first Australian band to play the 70,000 Tons of Metal cruise, and awed, reverential tone creeps into Dysie’s voice. “It’s definitely a highlight to be able to say that.” And he goes on to explain how they had initially just bought tickets as punters which evolved into a mini-tour, and suddenly they were offering to play (for free, mind) the cruise, and suddenly Robert is your mother’s brother, they’re on the bill, on the boat. “We didn’t really expect to get on the bill – us as nobodies from Perth, Western Australia – and yeah, it all worked out! Fucking great!” This leads us off on a discussion about how I would piss blood to get a ticket, and ends with Dysie expounding how amazing the whole experience is/was. Lucky bastards.
So speaking of boats, tell me more about this thing called the Perth Metal Cruise? “Ah yeah! We called it 70 Tons of Metal! I think we do it every three years or something? We hire a paddle-steamer and cruise the Swan River for four hours with three or four bands. It sells out every time we do it! It’s a great experience; just a little boat sailing about with people going bat-shit crazy…like a floating pontoon of black-clothed brutality!” It sounds awesome and I’ll keep my eye open for the next one.
Obviously the band is touring on the album now but are there plans for further tours later this year? “Oh yes – one hundred per cent – it hasn’t really been announced yet but we’ve got a small European tour coming up in June; I think there might be a few dates up already on our Facebook page? There’s a small festival that we’re playing with Moonsorrow – but it’s all a bit DIY…” I like this ‘build it and they will come’ attitude. It’s very metal and the way we get things done. Just fucking do it, aye? Dysie also mentions a few festivals in Malaysia in August, summing everything up with “If something comes up, we’ll jump on it, and if it doesn’t, we’ll make it happen ourselves.” Right on, brother. Right on.
Claim the Throne, on tour. Right. Bloody. Now.
CLAIM THE THRONE – ON DESOLATE PLAINS TOUR – Remaining Dates:
Thur Jan 25 – Adelaide, SA – Enigma Bar
Fri Jan 26 – Melbourne, VIC – The Bendigo
Sat Jan 27 – Bendigo, VIC – Musicman Megastore
Sun Jan 28 – Sydney, NSW – Frankie’s Pizza
Wed Jan 31 – Sydney, NSW – The Record Crate (all ages + workshop)
Thur Feb 1 – Gosford, NSW – Born 2 Rock (all ages + workshop)
Fri Feb 2 – Newcastle, NSW – The Vault
Sat Feb 3 – Brisbane, QLD – The Back Room