Photo by Ryan Mason
Interview with guitarists Chris Martin and Nathan Sadd | By Alasdair Bulmer
Norwich – East Anglia’s sleepy city not known for much beyond local radio buffoon Alan Partridge. Thankfully – for the local metal scene at least – Candlelight’s latest death-thrash signees Shrapnel are set to alter their hometown’s global recognition with debut full- length The Virus Conspires. Having successfully shredded Bloodstock Fest into a million flesh-torn pieces this summer, and an upcoming appearance alongside thrash legends Kreator at Hammerfest, the virus does indeed conspire for a full-blown epidemic. With a vacancy in their thrash-schedule, guitarists Chris Martin and Nathan Sadd spill the beans.
To begin, who formed the band and how did you all meet?
CM: I was living with a friend of mine and one of his mates had shown an interest in playing in a Municipal Waste- style band. It wasn’t going to be a serious thing, but we started jamming. Immediately we knew that we needed a second guitarist so I put an ad up on the local musicians’ forum and Nathan replied within a few days. If I remember right, the first time I spoke to Nath on the phone he was at work taking a shit (laughs).
Was there a pre-determined mission beyond a shared desire to play thrash?
CM: We just wanted to play metal. While there was the initial “I want to be in Megadeth,” it was always going to develop in different ways due to our variety of influences.
NS: For me it wasn’t until we started our first EP that we realized we might be able to take the band somewhere.
Norwich isn’t exactly a mecca for metal. Is it correct to assume your drive for success stems from a lack of quality local metal? Will you be appearing on North Norfolk Digital anytime soon?
CM: The problem is that Norwich is a tiny place. The city lacks the scene that you can find in the rest of the U.K., but it’s definitely not short of talented bands. We need to pull some strings and get on ‘Mid-Morning Matters’!
NS: I don’t think Alan would appreciate our racket. Although he has been known to blast some Def Leppard!
What do you bring to the table for UK and international thrash- post ‘thrash revival’?
CM: A hard hitting, no frills slab of metal. Individually we bring in different influences and ultimately ideas. If you’re a thrash fan, obviously we hope you like it but hopefully people more into death and black metal find something they like in it, too.
NS: Hopefully a really memorable, aggressive album. It’s hard to be unique these days, but we really think the new album has a bit of character about it.
Like many UK acts you state Exodus, Megadeth, and Testament as your influences. Why do you think UK thrash draws more influence from the Bay Area than Germany?
CM: It’s where it started. Those bands will always be the classics and they will usually be the first go-to bands for any aspiring musicians looking to make a mark on the genre. In my opinion, a healthy respect for your elders is vital to getting it right.
NS: The Bay Area bands are probably the first that most kids start listening to. You’re more likely to start learning a “Kill ‘Em All” than an “Endless Pain” cover.
Shrapnel’s death metal leanings are instantly recognizable and give the record a powerful charge. Is death metal a necessary progression for contemporary thrash?
CM: I wouldn’t say necessary, but it’s definitely something we love. Bands like Testament and Sodom went that way in the 90’s and we have a lot of respect for that. It was natural for us.
NS: I don’t think it’s essential for every thrash band to mix a bit of death metal in. If everyone did that, we’d all sound the same.
Did working with Russ Russell bring out more aggression once you were in the studio?
CM: We’re big Napalm Death fans. It’s one of the reasons Russ’s name popped up in the first place.
NS: Russ is known for his work with more extreme bands and you can hear his audio fingerprint on the records he produces to an extent. Plus, being away in the studio for a month straight turned us into boozed-up psychopaths, so that helped us play a bit harder.
Thrash always has an axe to grind regarding socio-political issues. What are your non-musical themes and influences?
CM: This album has a collection of themes ranging from conspiracy theories to historical details, such as the Red Terror. There are a couple of tracks that touch on religion and others focus on the recession and broken politics. We’re not set on using certain ideas and themes, but if there’s enough substance there we work with it.
It’s a big step in your career to sign with Candlelight. What’s next on the agenda?
CM: Europe is the next big target, it’s a huge place and there’s plenty we want to experience over there first. We would kill to come over the pond to the U.S. We usually find a way to get shit done, so fingers crossed.
NS: We’re also going to be doing a bit more recording alongside writing for another album which we’ll let people know about in soon!