We always enjoy this time of year – it’s Werewolves album release day! But on top of that – and of course, you can read our man Stronge‘s thoughts on My Enemies Look and Sound Like Me elsewhere in the mag – the band have recently announced plans to tour with tech death Kings Archspire later on in the year, so we enlisted singing bassist Sam Bean to give us a few thoughts about what it means to go on the road with his band…
First off, congratulations on the new album – Are you happy with it yourselves and has it met so far with the reception you’d hoped? Or are you well past worrying about what
people think? “Cheers man! When we listen to My Enemies Look And Sound Like Me we’re pumped because it’s so stupidly heavy, but also slightly bummed because we release an album a year and we don’t know how we’re going to beat it. I haven’t seen any reviews yet, all the reactions we’ve had have been from acquaintances who have heard it so you just don’t know if they’re being nice. Friends give the worst feedback, you’ve gotta wait for the haters. They’ll give an honest opinion even if it’s wrong”.
In his review Michael Stronge comments on your work ethic in putting out four albums in such quick succession – how hard is it to bring out so many high quality albums so quickly? Does a lot of material get junked or are you ‘in a groove’ when it comes to writing for this band? “We’re in the groove, we’ve got how we do this down pat and we’ve got our team in place for everything. There doesn’t tend to be any material left on the floor, we pretty much bullseye our material first go each time. One of the secrets is that we keep reminding each other not to take this seriously at all. Having said that, I’m recording my bits for album number five at the moment, and it’s really hard this time around… I don’t know if I’m running low on hate and need to get into a spectacular and irrational beef with some random or if it’s because this year has just been thunderously busy. Probably both”.
And now to the reason we’re chatting – your upcoming tour. It’s short and sharp – Six gigs in six days – are you looking forward to it? Do you need to do much work to get ready for a tour like this? “The Archspire tour in October? Oh fuck me yes, we’re looking forward to it. Dave (Haley, drums)’s probably keen to catch up with guys again after Psycroptic toured Europe with them earlier in the year. I’m really keen to see them play each night, every night. John Adamson, the old Omnium Gatherum drummer dragged me to their Adelaide show on their last tour and I didn’t know a thing about them. I went in totally dry. I was blown away, not just by the next level heaviness and musicianship and speed, but by the quality of the sound. As for doing work to prepare for this, Matt (Wilcock, guitars) and Dave will just rehearse a couple of times together and they’ll be fine. They take prep with the same level of seriousness that they do writing albums. Those guys, you might as well ask Superman if he needs to do any pushups to get ready to fly. Me, on the other hand… fuck, I have a lot of training to do. I’m forty eight years old and doing the bass and vocals for this is a lot of work. Preparing for tour is like preparing for a rather public ten kilometre race, but like six days in a row. If I don’t start getting in shape for it now, you’ll all see an overweight bald old dude wheezing his way through a thirty minute set sweating everywhere”.
What can you remember about your first tour as Werewolves? “You’re talking about the Mayhem and Ulcerate tour in January, yeah? It was unexpectedly good fun. Matt and I have had plenty of touring disasters over the years so there’s always the suspicion that everything’s about to go to shit. But Dave and the Soundworks crew run a tight ship and everything went off without a hitch. We were also interested to see how we’d go touring as Werewolves. It doesn’t matter if you’re friends individually, or get along in normal life, dynamics change once you’re travelling together and it’s a bit of a dice roll if you all get along. That wasn’t a problem. We’re all pretty chill, no drama kind of guys. And the show got better each night, which was a relief. I was worried we’d be husks by day three. Someone in the crowd threw their clothes onstage for the Sydney show, that was unique. Had plenty of good hangouts with Ulcerate, hanging out the back in Brissie and chatting about Morbid Angel was a highlight for me. They’re cool guys. Hellhammer as well was super nice. Dude’s jacked as fuck for someone in their fifties, he’s like a black-metal action-figure. The Mayhem guitarists and mixer were hilariously antisocial, just didn’t speak to us at all. Necro nicked a bottle of red wine that I brought to the last show to share between us. I stole it back so it all worked out. I was also surprised by how much I enjoyed Mayhem’s live show. I’m not a big fan of their albums, but their show was fantastic, they were mad headliners”.
What’s the best venue in your opinion in Australia? And does opinion that differ as a punter to actually playing? “Hard question! There are heaps of awesome venues around now, and the majority of my live experience was around twenty years ago, plus I rarely go out as a punter. At least not outside of Adelaide. I really enjoyed the Croxton in Melbourne, which is kind of the venue of the moment. It’s a big room with a decent stage, enough space to set up in front of the headliner without having to play on your tip-toes or one foot on the barrier. I like places where you can hang side stage before you go on and have space to get all your stuff ready. It helps that they have a killer beer garden just down the road from them. They also have a good green room up the back of the venue one floor up with a sliding glass window, so you can sit down and watch the show. I had an ace time up there watching Mayhem and guzzling Ulcerate’s vegies and hummus. Also gotta add that I love the vibe of the Bendigo Hotel in Melbourne. It’s definitely the most metal venue I’ve been to in years, just the PA sounds like a looping car-crash in that space”.
Who do you have the best memories of touring with – and why? “The first Summer Slaughter tour across the US back in 2003 with Berzerker. We were opening for SYL, Napalm Death and Nile and playing to a month of packed theatres. Fuck me, those bands were good. Devin (Townsend) was great fun, all the SYL and Napalm Death guys were cool, Jesse (Pintado) tended to hang with us for the tour which was a treat. We had a million questions about the early Terrorizer days and recording with Colin Richardson. I didn’t hang with Nile that much.That was when they had (Jon) Vesano (bass) and (drummer Tony) Laureano playing for them. Never seen a lineup that deadly since. That month kinda killed extreme metal for me. I knew I’d never see anything better. Having said that, I suspect with the way Werewolves is going that my best touring days might be ahead”.
Aside from your tools of the trade, what’s the must-have piece of kit that goes into your bag first when packing to go on the road? “My BC Rich bass goes into the coffin case first but surprisingly, that isn’t the most important thing – my phone wallet is. I’ve thought about it, I could probably do one of these short tours without any gear, bags, or even a change of clothes, and still get by. Just beg and borrow equipment at every stop. But we travel to shows by plane in Oz, and without my driver’s licence and phone I ain’t boarding shit”.
And what about a luxury item that you probably shouldn’t take but manage to slip in? “I always, ALWAYS, take a book to read. So much of touring is ‘hurry up and wait’ at venues, airports, and hotels. I rarely get uninterrupted reading time in my normal life, so I kind of relish being able to spend a few hours enjoying a book. I can literally feel Matt going DON’T TELL THEM YOU’RE A READER, WE’RE CAVEMEN REMEMBER but it’s the truth. My choice for the Mayhem tour was The Man Who Ate Everything by Jeffrey Steingarten. It paired well with the music. Also fresh underwear. I know, I should rough-ride like a real man”.
And what about tunes? Who makes it onto the Werewolves tour bus playlist? “Rick James. Stevie Wonder. NWA. Exhumed totally get it, they chill out between shows with a
very tasty Rn’B/Soul/Funk playlist. But sometimes Matt and Dave get the eye of the tiger, and then we’re in for an onslaught of Hate Eternal, Immortal, and Marduk“.
Overall, how strong do you think the metal scene is here in Australia at the moment? “Really fucking strong. Look, I miss the variety and originality of the early nineties just like anyone else from that time, but we’ve got more bands at the top of their fields playing regularly overseas and being renowned and respected. Yeah, I might have liked the nineties more for music but what people forget is most of the world didn’t even know there was a scene here. Magazines would run articles going “Can you believe that there are metal bands in Australia?!” I can hear some demented old fool yelling out shit like ‘BUT WHAT ABOUT SLAUGHTER LORD‘, but some tape trading demos don’t fucking count. Bands thought they’d made it if they played an interstate show. Bands now have some balls and get out into the world and fucking go for it”.
Back to the album – Which track from the new album do you think will work best live? “And can we expect any surprises, set-wise? We’re already playing Under the Ground, we busted that out at the Exhumed show and people immediately started smashing each other, so it definitely works as intended. It’s Pavlov’s bell for moshpit violence. It would be good to play Neanderhell because it’s so outrageously brutal, I just don’t know if we could do it. Dave would probably die and if he didn’t then I probably would. Apart from that, there’s not too many surprises with the set – more like small adjustments and refinements. We won’t be taking the exact show out on the road as last time though, don’t worry”.
Anything else you’d like to tell our readers before they come and see you in action? “I’m going to be one crass motherfucker and push all our shit on you in one final sales pitch, and I completely don’t give a fuck. Buy the new album from this here link, if only so you have a fighting chance of understanding what I’m screaming about when we play your town! But if you want shirts and LPs and Zippos and shit, or even just live in Australia and want your stuff delivered to you immediately (if not previously) then head over to Direct Merch instead”.
Thanks very much with the chat and good luck with both tour and album!
Werewolves tour Australia with Archspire in October – dates HERE