Based in Blackburn in the North West of England, Bastard Of The Skies are a 3 piece and deliver some heavy slabs of Sludge in the vein of Melvins/High On Fire. In 2007 they released a 4 track demo which received some excellent reviews from the likes of Hellride and Ninehertz as well landing the band Demo of the Week in Organ Magazine. Although they’ve kicked off 2008 with a less than ideal start due to drummer issues, I caught up with their guitarist/vocalist Matt to find out what’s currently happening with Bastard Of The Skies.
Hi Matt, hope your keeping well, OK, can we start this interview at the beginning by giving us a brief run down of your history, your current line up & why you formed Bastard of the Skies?
Me and the bass player (Rob) have known each other since school but had never played in the same band. So about three, or so, years ago the band I was in at the time was slowly grinding to a halt – and he wasn’t playing so it seemed like a good idea to start jamming. Another friend, Andy, was a drummer (and one of the few people I know really into stuff like the Melvins) came along and we wrote and jammed for a while – without gigging. Then, just under two years ago, the original band I was in finally called it a day and it seemed like the obvious thing to do to step things up on the Bastards front. Problem then came that Andy really didn’t want to gig – so we parted company got given a number, got Craig in pretty quickly and started “proper”. We wrote some new tunes and started gigging within about a month. Since we’ve carried on gigging, writing and recorded a couple of demos – the latest of which has gone down pretty well and brought us to the attention of Lockjaw Records who are putting out our first album sometime in 2008. However with having to step things up on the touring/recording front Craig’s decided to step down and we’re currently looking for a new drummer!
And how would you describe the colossal riffage that is Bastard of the Skies?
Dirty, filthy, sludgy down tuned rock with a hefty love of metal! Being a three piece we like to keep things pretty simple and just put as much emphasis as possible on being heavy!
Where do you draw your inspirations from both a musical and personal stand point?
Musically: Sabbath. Melvins. Sleep. High on Fire. Buried At Sea. Shellac. Slint. Mogwai. Faith No More. Old blues. Today Is The Day. Karp. Sparks. Harvey Milk. I could go on for pages and pages. Personally I don’t know – there are just certain things (books, people, films, music whatever) that bring a wry smile. That stuff!
What process do you use for writing new material?
I’ll usually come up with a couple of riffs and take them into the practice room and jam them out – that usually sparks ideas as to where the songs going and determines how it’ll be finished. We probably don’t jam as much as we could. Lyrics come dead last – usually well after the music’s been finished.
And your lyrics, who writes them and what subject matters do you cover?
Without wanted to make it sound like the lyrics are meaningless I don’t really write with a subject matter in mind. I’ve never really liked lyrics that are too obviously about something in particular. I keep notebooks with odd lines i’ve overheard on the bus or from books and films. I usually write trying to describe a mental image or feeling. As a listener I like lyrics being kept open enough that you can attach your own meaning to them, or that they allow you to use your imagination. I try to do that, whether i’m successful or not i don’t know!
Who came up with the name Bastard of the Skies and are there any significant meanings behind it?
We were going to be called Bastard of Disguise after the Karp song, but our original drummer misheard it as Bastard of the Skies and it stuck!
You unleashed some new tracks in the form of a demo in 2007 and has received some positive reviews, so can you tell us where you recorded it, how you felt the recording went and how many tracks are on the finished demo?
I run a recording studio (Full Stack – www.myspace.com/fullstackstudio – quick plug!) so I did it all myself. Overall i’m pretty happy with how it turned out + personally feel I learned a lot doing it – the next one will be better though! That said mixing took an age though and nearly drove me mad. That’s the plus and minus about doing your own stuff – you have the time to get it right but also have far too much time to (over)analyse and obsess about things that given a week or so away from the recording don’t really matter overall. We recorded nine songs altogether but only used the best four for the demo.
How can people get a copy?
Just hit us up on the Myspace!
As mentioned in the intro, you reside in Blackburn, Lancashire, so can you enlighten us as to what the scene is like there for fans with more extreme musical tastes?
In and around Blackburn it’s pretty poor. Corrupted are doing a good job of getting bands into town from elsewhere– but apart from them there’s not a great deal going on. There isn’t really a core of bands – the best are probably Apes Fight Back and Nightmare Visions. Promoters are very set on pigeonholes though – for example we’re a lot more in common with a band like Apes Fight Back than some of the bands we get put on with but we’re “Metal” and they’re “indie” so for some reason it seems it’s a no go. We’re close enough to places like Bolton and Manchester where things seem a lot more vibrant – so we try and get out of town as much as possible.
Are gigs easy to get in Blackburn and are they well supported?
Gigs around Blackburn and Accrington are pretty easy to get – but once a band leaves college or whatever turn outs can be very poor – especially for really heavy stuff. You could play every week to no one, but it’s probably better to space your local gigs out a bit.
With being in a fairly central location in the North of England, do you find it easy to get gigs else where in the country?
Yeah it’s ok. Especially with the internet if you want to find somewhere or someone to play for in a particular town/city I think you’ll be able to do it. We’ve probably not got around the Uk as much as i’d like though. The rising cost of petrol’s a pisser!
And how important is it for you to play live?
Very important. Needs to be done. If we’ve not played for a while we get itchy.
You’ve also played for the Blackburn based promotional collective ‘Corrupted’ so can you tell us a little about what they do and how Bastard of the Skies got involved with them?
Pretty simple really, saw some flyers about – thought that seems like a good thing to be a part of. So I sent them a message and got some gigs! At the end of the day they’re just really sound people! A couple of years ago Blackburn was really in a dismal state as far as live music goes. Like many northern towns the Oasis thing was still going on and outside of a select few no one really seemed interested in live music. I think they probably got sick of it and decided to do something – they’ve got gigs on most weeks now that cover everything that falls under the heavy rock banner from sludge, doom, thrash, death to glam. sleaze and punk.
Future Noise are also dipping their toes into the PR arena and have included Bastard of the Skies in their recently revamped roster, so can you tell us how you came to be involved with the guys from Future Noise?
Pretty much the same – I’d been going to the Future Noise gigs like Acid King and Atavist, so when we had something recorded it seemed an obvious place to send it. They got back in touch and ended up giving us a support with Truckfighters for about our third or forth gig – which was amazing! We’ve kept in touch and make sure we send them everything we do. Again they are really cool people and have just got us on the the bill with Baroness and Kylesa (Jan 30th Star + Garter!) – so I can’t say enough good things about them!
As the new year kicks into gear year what can we expect Bastard Of The Skies in 2008?
Finding a new drummer! Once that’s sorted we’ll be getting to work on our debut album for Lockjaw and then gigging and touring as much as possible. We’re currently sorting a short tour for April with labelmates Larkin (from Portugal) which should be great!
Lastly, thanks for the interview Matt and please used this space for any final words…
Just to say thanks for the interview and the support!
Check out all the latest goings on with Bastard Of The Skies at: www.myspace.com/bastardoftheskies
Interviewed by: Lee Edwards