For the latest edition of Metal Origins we welcome guitarist/vocalist Kyle McNeil of Brit metal Titans Seven Sisters, who just happen to have an excellent new album, Shadow of a Fallen Star Pt. 1, due out next month on the ever reliable Dissonance Productions label…
Welcome to Sentinel Daily and thanks for taking part in this round of Q & A’s! “Not a problem. Thank you for having me!”
Without further ado, let’s get down to business… What are your earliest memories of heavy metal? “I was fortunate enough to have parents with a good, broad taste in music. Some of my earliest memories are of me in our front-room listening to Beastie Boys, Pink Floyd, Pearl Jam et cetera… My dad was a real thrash metal fan back in the eighties so as soon as I expressed the slightest interest in music when I was ten or eleven he started showing me Anthrax, Nuclear Assault, Metallica. All the good stuff! It was a bit much for me at first (my favourite band being Green Day back then) however I distinctly remember hearing Battery by Metallica for the first time. That changed my life from then on – that intro blew my mind!”
What was the first metal album you bought with your own cash? “It was probably Ascendancy by Trivium. I had all the classics I could need in my dad’s CD collection and I wanted something that was mine. Trivium, at the time, were that modern band with obvious influences from the classic thrash era so I really got in to them. I still revisit their early albums from time-to-time, it’s really good stuff!”
Are there any bands you loved as a youngster that cause you to wince now and ask: ‘what was I thinking’? “Nah, I have no shame about anything I’ve listened to anymore. If you had asked me that question when I was sixteen or seventeen I would’ve said yes because I became that idiot elitist “thrash metal and nothing else” type of guy. Thankfully I quickly got out of that phase and broadened my horizons. There’s no such thing as a guilty pleasure in music for me”.
Now, who were the first band you saw live – please feel free to include no-name local bands if that was your first interaction with live metal. “The first band/artist I saw live was Roger Waters at the M.E.N. Arena playing Pink Floyd classics. That was a pretty good start! The first metal band I saw live was Anthrax back in the John Bush era. I was the only person in the building wearing a white t-shirt. That, and being about fourteen years old, I stuck out like a sore thumb!”
A good intro – Anthrax were pretty hard to touch live during the Bush years! How hard was it growing up to get info on the bands you loved- was there much mainstream media coverage where you lived? “I don’t think I ever found it particularly difficult. My music tastes sort of developed alongside my guitar playing. I used to keep up to date with things through various guitar magazines and websites. My generation saw the birth of Youtube and Myspace which gave us access to all this information that would otherwise be hard to find. I would browse forums and nerdy websites and discover things through there. I also shared music with my friends, trading CD’s and that kind of thing”.
As an adjunct to the previous question, 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 2021? “I guess in a way it has. It’s a bit of a double-edged sword because you might’ve really loved an artist as a kid and then social media comes along and you learn that your favourite artist is a total idiot (or even worse some sort of fascist/racist) and that obviously sours those memories you have of their music. Ultimately you end up realising that these legends are, in fact, just normal people. I watched Some Kind of Monster, the Metallica documentary, again recently after not watching it since I was a young teenager. I couldn’t believe how totally inept these grown men were at dealing with their feelings. It comes down to the question of, “do you want to separate the art from the artist?” It’s a very divisive subject, some people really don’t care what their heroes get up to. Even if it turns out they are horrific humans. You could argue that’s a reflection of the fan’s personal political stance, or maybe they just don’t want to lose that music and those memories. Maybe there’s some sort of limit you have and if the person doesn’t cross that line you can forgive it. Personally, I have a hard time separating the artist from their art. After all, isn’t the art just an extension of the artist?
I dislike social media for a lot of reasons but if it means young fans learn that a certain artist is actually not who they’re cracked up to be and they stop giving their time and money to these idiots, that’s a positive to take away from it. What if you’re gay and you don’t know that your favourite guitarist is homophobic? Or you’re a woman and you meet a band you love after the show and one of the members has a history of committing rape? That kind of information can literally save lives. So in a way, yes we know too much about our heroes, but if you’re not an arsehole there’s nothing to hide”.
I feel it’s an incredibly complex subject, far more than being able to boil it down to whether someone is an arsehole or not… But that’s a different discussion for a different time! Were you a big festival goer as a junior headbanger? “Not particularly. The first festival I went to was Bloodstock 2010, I would’ve been seventeen or eighteen at the time. That was a real eye opener! I’ve been to plenty since but most of them have been much smaller more “underground” festivals. I still haven’t been to any of the big ones like Download or Wacken. I never had the money as a kid, and now I just can’t be bothered with that many people – I’m a grumpy old man already” (laughs).
Would you have hitched hundreds of miles to see your favourite bands if necessary? “I have travelled some fair distances to see bands I love! Thankfully modern transport makes the world a much smaller place. Taking a jaunt to another country isn’t too big a deal anymore. I absolutely love travelling so that’s all part of the experience for me”.
What five albums have stayed with you since your formative metal years? “I reckon most of these won’t come as a surprise!”
Metallica – Master of Puppets
Megadeth – Killing Is My Business…
Anthrax – Spreading the Disease
Coroner – No More Colour
Testament – The Legacy
It’s amazing how many times Coroner come up as an answer in these things we do. Truly a massively underrated band I think… Finally – did you have a metal crush? I had life size posters of Lee Aaron and Doro Pesch on my ceiling in 1986… “I didn’t! I was too busy playing guitar and being a complete nerd. I think I had more of a crush on guitars than women. Still do (don’t tell my beautiful lady wife)”.
Thanks for taking part! “Thank you for the questions! It’s been a pleasure!”
Shadow of a Fallen Star Pt. 1 releases on October 22nd.