Thanks for taking part in Metal Origins, Adam – welcome aboard! What are your earliest memories of heavy metal – and was it love at first sight/hearing? “It certainly was not love at first hearing for me. I had a friend in middle school who tried exposing me to Slipknot as my first metal band. I think at the time the heaviest music that I was listening to was probably The Offspring or maybe Sum 41. I didn’t start to appreciate metal until started taking guitar lessons and my teacher showed me some Iron Maiden and Metallica riffs”.
The ever-faithful entry-level delights of Maiden and Metallica! What was the first metal album you bought with your own cash? “That’s a tough one. I was pirating a lot at the time so it’s tough to remember the first actual purchase was. Probably something along the lines of Darkest Hour or Unearth. I loved me some metalcore back then”.
Are there any bands you loved as a youngster that cause you to wince now and ask ‘what was I thinking’? “I make sure to repress those memories as deeply as possible”.
Very wise. What about metal in the flesh?Who were the first band you saw live? “The first metal show that I went to back in my home town of Kelowna would have been Metal Storm, and Skull Hammer. Jerome (Brewer), the drummer in Astrakhan, was in Skull Hammer at the time. As far as bigger bands go, the answer would be 3 Inches of Blood, though this was before they put out Advance and Vanquish so they were still a lesser known band at the time”.
How hard was it growing up to get info on the bands you loved- was there much mainstream media coverage where you lived? “I am not really sure to be honest. I had internet access at a fairly early age but aside from looking up tour dates, I never really went looking too hard for information about too many of the bands that I loved. I was more interested in listening to the music rather than finding out personal details and that sort of thing. There wasn’t really very much mainstream coverage of the bands that I was into. We had Much Music here in Canada but they didn’t cover a lot of heavier music and if they did they were bands that were quite popular”.
So with your early use of the web, as opposed to print media or radio and TV being the case, do you think the internet has taken away the mystique of being in a big band for young people today ? Do we know too much about our heroes in 2016? “That depends a lot on the band obviously but I think that could be true. With the internet giving every small band a platform to reach a lot of people there is a lot more competition for eyeballs and ear-holes. To stay interesting bands are putting out a lot more content in the form of play-throughs, lessons, studio updates, etc. Personally I really dig that kind of stuff but I can see how it could kill the mystique for some people”.
Were you a big festival goer as a junior headbanger? “Not really a big festival-goer. I went to Sounds of the Underground a couple of times and Armstrong Metal Fest but I prefer more intimate shows with longer sets. That being said Wacken is on my bucket list of course”.
Of course! How hard or easy was it for you to get to big gigs growing up? Would you have hitched hundreds of miles to see your favourite bands if necessary? “I never did any hitching to any shows unfortunately. That sounds like a lot of fun now that I think of it. The town I grew up in was about 4 hours away from Vancouver, where all the good shows that came through would stop so it wasn’t terribly difficult to get out to catch my favourites”.
Despite living in Australia for over a decade the notion of a four hour drive being ‘not terribly difficult’ is still a difficult thing for me to get my head around! Moving back to recorded documents, what five albums have stayed with you since your formative metal years? “Iron Maiden – Brave New World, Into Eternity‘s Buried in Oblivion, Master of Puppets by Metallica, Opeth – Blackwater Park and Mastodon‘s Blood Mountain”.
A good mix. Did you have a metal crush? “Angela Gossow of Arch Enemy. I remember listening to them and finding out that was a woman screaming at me. Fear-boner”.
Haha! A terrifying yet arousing concept! Anything else you’d like to reveal about your metal upbringing? “I was conceived in the bathroom at a Motörhead concert. R.I.P. Lemmy“.
And on that bombshell…
Astrakhan’s new album, Reward in Purpose, is released through War on Music/Sunmask on June 10th.