I first caught up with Lazarus Blackstar back in July 2005 as they were just releasing their debut album on Undergroove Records, roll on 3 years and times have changed, gone is guitarist Rich & vocalist Paul, replaced by Izak & Mikey respectively and with the release of their new CDEP ‘Tomb Of Internal Winter’ through Future Noise Recordings on the horizon, I once again caught up with Lee & Bri to see how things are going in the dark, grim & primitive world of the Blackstar.
Its been nearly 3 years since I last interviewed you reprobates, a lot has changed in that time, mainly the departure of vocalist Paul Catten, so how’s’ things at the moment with Lazarus Blackstar?
LEE: Paul leaving the band, and Mikey joining the band are the only changes that have been made over the past 2 years. Things are great within the band, we’re still the same warped losers with the ambition to make folk vomit at our gigs, with the vast crushing heaviness. (in fact I think we did make some fella sick at a recent gig, RESULT!)
BRI: Things are good, best they’ve been for ages. It seems like we have a much more stable line-up now.
And how is your new vocalist Mikey settling into the fold? What has the response/feedback to his new vocal approach been like?
LEE: Mikey has settled in just fine, he’s a top bloke with an awesome voice, and he’s certainly on the same wave length as the rest of the band, which in my opinion is extremely important. So far the feedback has been very positive, we’ve been told that he sounds like Chris Reifert from AUTOPSY, which I’m chuffed to fuck about, coz I fucking love AUTOPSY!
BRI: Mikey has fitted in really well. His vocals are punishing, even more powerful than Pauls which is saying something. He’s also getting on with the band sense of humour which is also important. So far the feedback from other people has been nothing but positive & rightly so. He has a really good stage presence too.
Staying on the subject of Mikey, how did you meet him and how did you know he was the right man for the job?
LEE: His other bands have recorded at the Studio 1in12, so Bri had worked with him. Bri put out a bulletin on myspazz, Mikey answered, we got him down for an audition, then took him out for a drink. We liked his vocals and liked him as a person, so that was that.
BRI: I met Mikey through recording his old band After The Massacre. He’s a top bloke, I’d also recorded his vocals in Empire Of Vomit and knew that he’d got a powerful voice, it also demonstrated that he has quite a varied style. One second paint stripping screaming, thee next, bowel churning growls. We put a wanted bulletin and he said he’d be up for it. It has to be said that we thought it would be tough to find someone even comparable to Paul but after about 20 secs of the 1st rehearsal we realised we’d hit the jackpot.
What extra do you think he brings to Lazarus Blackstar and has his input helped develop your overall sound?
LEE: YES!! He has a range from very low deep guttural to a mental patients violent scream;. The power that guy carries in his voice is awesome, it suits our sound perfectly.
BRI: Its early days yet, as the new songs for the Future Noise release had already been written, but he has a lot of ideas which should help to define the new Lazarus further.
What about lyrics, I know Paul’s lyrics were very personal to him at times, so how do you now approach them, are they left entirely up to Mikey, or does the rest of the band have an input?
LEE: Mikey wrote the lyrics for the EP, but that’s because he wanted to, and the lyrics were great. In this band, if anyone has an idea for a riff or a lyric or even a title, and it’s a good idea, then it gets used. If Mikey keeps churning out great lyrics, (which I’m sure he will) then we will always use them. So we’ll leave the writing of the lyrics up to him, it gives the rest of us more time to drink beer and talk shit.
BRI: So far Mikey has written all his lyrics himself, although I did help him re-arrange for one of the songs, as he is still getting used to the slowness & timings of our songs. He has plenty of material ready for new songs, so it should be interesting.
What about subject matters, are they a continuation of where Paul left off, or are you now treading a completely different path lyrically?
LEE: I think with a band name like Lazarus Blackstar and folk knowing what we’re about the lyrics will always end up being GRIM, and that can cover a wide range of topics, from suicide, depression, murder, grief, fear…….to name but a few. So I think the lyrics are never gonna be a million miles away from what Paul was doing.
BRI: I think the general style, mood & politics of LBS influences a great deal with the subject matter that any vocalist would bring to the band. There are certain issues that we all agree on, so therefore that is what we do.
I should also mention guitarist Izak, although he’s now been part of Lazarus Blackstar for around 2 years, I take it by now he’s settled in well and how do you feel his input into your sound differs from your previous guitarist ‘Rock Star’ Rich?
LEE: I’ve known that fucker since he was 16, he’s a great bloke, the perfect replacement. He is totally free from any kind of ego. He contributes to the band with good ideas, which is great, because it means I don’t write all the music any more, it frees me up some time to drink more beer and talk more shit! haha. He has a killer guitar sound too, and his style in writing and playing are allot like mine. He doesn’t want to be from America, and make squeaks on his guitar.
BRI: Haha, yes well Izak is much more suited to the “politics” of the band. There’s no real room for ego’s and pulling shapes in LBS, that’s not what we are about and Izak is down with that thank fuck. He has some great ideas and some punishingly heavy riffs, he’s also strong as fucking ox, which is good for packing gear 😉
Future Noise Recordings will be releasing your eagerly anticipated new EP in August 2008 entitled ‘Tomb Of Internal Winter’, can you tell us how you became to be involved with Dave & Paul at Future Noise?
LEE: Well we’ve known those fellas from back when they started putting on gigs in Manchester, so we had created a friendship over the past 5 or 6 years. When we played at the Damnation fest last year, we got talking, and they mentioned doing an EP on their label, so we did coz there cool as fuck, simple as that!
BRI: Well we met them at past gigs they’d organised in Manchester, they’ve always liked what we do and over the last few years have given us some good gigs. They’re really “into” heavy music which I can relate too & they like UFOMAMMUT so they’re OK in my book.
Bri once again handled the engineering side of things for the EP at the now infamous Studio 1in12, which, as we touched upon last time is a great asset to the band but what about the EP itself, can you tell us a little bit more about this, how many tracks will be featured and how you find these recordings stand up against your older material?
LEE: Yeah, Bri made a fucking mess of things again, typical. Next time we’re recording at Voltage, there you can get the best quality street tin drum sound ever! Only joking (but not about voltage.) There are 3 tracks on the EP, one of them being made up from samples and loops, but very grim indeed. The other two tracks are the best shit we’ve ever done. They sound utterly crushing, with more up tempo riffs in parts of the songs. They lift you up, then drop you like a ton of shit. Happiness then despair, a marriage made in hell.
BRI: Yep, me again, doing it on the bloody cheap! Ha. The EP will have 3 songs on it. Personally I think it’s the best sounding recording so far, I’d be well depressed if they sounded worse.The style is slightly more Death Metal to a degree I guess, that’s down to Lee, but the sound is less woolly & punchier as a result. The last track (“Victims of the Clergy”) I created using spoken word samples & loops of guitars & bass tracks. I’ve done some stuff like this before but don’t get much chance these days, so it was really good to be able to experiment a bit with the Lazarus.
I’ve also been lucky enough to have a sneaky preview of the awesome new artwork which I have to say, reflects the doom and gloom of your music perfectly, but who came up with the initial concept, who did the photography for it and who put the final artwork together?
LEE: I came up with the concept, I wanted something creepy and kind of sinister. I tried to create this by using a poor quality camera, so I got a really grainy look to the picture. I wanted it to look like CCTV footage on a monitor of someone imprisoned, and the goat skull is being held in front of the face to hide their identity. So I did all that crap, then sent it to Toby from “They Are Cowards”. Then he did a killer job with the inlay & adding other bits and pieces to keep the same feel. We owe him big time.
BRI: That was Lee’s department this time.
Your first gig with Mikey was down in London supporting Cursed at the start of May, less than 3 months since he joined, nerves must have been tingling for this show but overall how do you feel it went and was it a good feeling to be gigging again?
LEE: Before the gig I didn’t feel we we’re anywhere near ready. We had 3 rehearsals, one of them being Mikey’s audition. But we thought fuck it, lets do it anyway. The gig was great, we went down great and it was a good feeling to be a proper band again. Apart from the promoter trying to fuck us over and having to drive back the same night, it was all good.
BRI: Yeah it was good gig. Mikey coped very well, but I’m so sick of those types of gigs. We nearly didn’t get paid a penny, but Mikey totally pulled through & got us £50. Still lost out loads (fuel, van hire), but Mikey really sorted it.
You then hit the road for a short UK tour with Gloomy Sunday, Black Sun & They Are Cowards, can you gives us a quick report on how the tour went & how Lazarus Blackstar became to be involved in it?
LEE: This was all sorted for the release of the EP, but things got delayed on our behalf, due to finding another singer, then getting Mikey to record his vocals etc. But Gloomy Sunday had already bought their plane tickets to come over while Paul was still wandering if he wanted to be in the band or not. So we tried to keep it all together for those guys. I had a great time really, apart from the Bristol gig and the lack of sleep, it was fun. Gloomy Sunday, Black sun and They Are Cowards, are all great bands, Gloomy Sunday are old friends of ours, but the lads in the other bands were great to get along with, and we made some new friends on that tour.
BRI: No comment.
Now you’ve once again got a solid line up, what does the rest of the year and beyond hold for Lazarus Blackstar?
LEE: Well we have the Future Noise release in August, we’re currently working on some new songs for Our split EP with Gloomy Sunday, which will be released by Swedish label Plague Island records. Then find a new record label to release the 3rd album, which we’ll start work on this year. If any decent gigs come up or a tour that’s worth doing we’ll be around, other than that we’ll have to see what the future holds.
BRI: More heaviness! Who knows we might actually make it out of the country at some stage.
Thanks once again for answering my humble questions so please use this space for any final words…
LEE: Cheers Lee, for taking the time & interest in the band, we had a tough start to the year, but we were never going to just lay down & die.
BRI: Once again cheers Lee, www.myspace.com/studio1in12 for turd polishing service!
Check out the latest info for Lazarus Blackstar at:
Interviewed by: Lee Edwards