Volition hail from Barrow-in-Furness, a small working town in the deep dark depths of the North West of England, they’ve been together around 18 months and are already causing quite a stir within the Doom Underworld having already played with the likes of Blood Island Raiders, Narcosis, Raging Speedhorn, Truckfigters, Atavist, Raucous and Thade to name a few. They’ve also just released their debut demo and with a 2 album deal with Totalrust Music now set in concrete, I caught up with their guitarist Jas to ask a few questions.
We might as well start at the beginning so can you give me a brief history of the band and your current line up?
The band was formed by Mark Burns (Bass Guitar & Backing Vocals), Mark Burnett (Guitar) & James Doyle (Drums) in our hometown of Barrow-in-Furness, Cumbria, England. Mark & James had played together in a band called Boss Eye for some time, but they wanted to go into a more extreme, despondent doom direction plus Boss Eye were more instrumental than anything else.
During the Boss Eye period the two Marks had been jamming whilst getting stoned, occasionally recording the sessions and later reflecting what they felt would be worth working on in order to transform into full songs. During the break up of Boss Eye, I (Jas Murray) was asked to join on second guitar to give the music some more depth and make the band more workable and heavy. We jammed the songs continually. And then began writing new material.
We continued without a vocalist for the best part of 2005, until I met Dave Hodge (Vocals) at work. Dave expressed an interest at joining Volition despite not being into the slow thing at all, it was suggested to the other band members and they all agreed to try him out. He has since discovered a new found appreciation of all things slow.
And the rest, as they say… is history.
And for those who have yet to witness the despondent sounds of Volition, how would you describe your music?
Old people fucking. Minimalist performance, slow momentum and a couple of grunts and groans here and there!
You’ve been compared to the likes of Corrupted, Grief, Winter et al but who would you say are your biggest influences, both on a musical and lyrical level?
I am always afraid of name-checking bands as a lot of people read into an influence as someone we lay claim to sounding like.
For me personally I am kind of influenced by some of the following bands: At The Gates, Black Sabbath, Born Against, Darkest Hour, His Hero Is Gone, Mastodon, Sleep, Uranus & Winter plus a whole lot more that I can’t think of offhand. They influenced me in the sense as in it inspires me to want to pick up a guitar and play, but as far as actual influences our actual sound? Who knows? The best person to ask that is actually Mr Burns!
We have had the Winter meets Corrupted comparisons a fair bit. I am a big listener of Winter but I don’t write any of our material. I am unsure as to how big a listener of Winter & Corrupted the two Marks are and I liked Corrupted when they first started out but I kind of lost touch with them over the years. But hell! Who is complaining? No one is saying we’re copycats and they’re comparing us to some of the greatest bands of the genre!
Lyrically speaking Dave has sung about various things, but most notably the song “To Those We have Lost” is about losing those close to you.
Dedicated to Barry James Burns. 1978-2004.
You’ve just released your debut demo, you actually recorded this yourself with the help of a local musician/sound engineer, so how do you feel the recording went and so far what’s the response to it been like?
We recorded the demo live in our practice space on a 16 Track Portastudio with Tony Martin from Carpathia. The recording went very well considering it was the first time 60% of us had ever been recorded, pressure to perform and all that. But we knew the songs well enough and apart from a few technical problems with my Guitar Head it was pretty much a one take thing with everything apart from the vocals done there and then, live as we would at rehearsal but with everything mic’d up. We then spent one night adding lead vocals and mixing in Tony’s cellar.
Then at the labels request it was sent to Israel for mastering with Maor Appelbaum (Israeli based Sound Engineer who has worked with Stephen O’Malley, Samael, Ozric Tentacles & Marc Almond to name a few!) although we we’re damn happy with what we came away with from Tony’s, Gad insisted on getting Maor to tweak it. But full credit has to go to Tony, as what he gave us was way beyond any of our expectations.
It’s also been released with some impressive screen printed covers, so can you tell us how this came about and how you hooked up with Oliver at www.ttdmrt.com?
A long time ago I was selling some vinyl on eBay and a random French guy won a His Hero Is Gone/Uranus split 12”. He paid top dollar for it too which was nice. This “Random French guy” turned out to be Olivier Marescaux. We stayed in touch and he bought a lot more off me over the past few years. We shared a passion for Manga etc and I knew he was heavily into graphic novels and art in general. We lost touch for a while and he resurfaced in Troyes (old medieval town south of Paris) as an artist with his own studio, he specialises in hand-screens, but is also a Photoshop wizard, despite his artistic skills he also has raw talent. He did an amazing job of the covers and they definitely stand out! Plus it is always nice to have something special rather than Xeroxed stuff. They are also strictly limited to 100 Copies!
Totalrust Music are also releasing it in Israel with different artwork to the UK version, firstly is this an ‘official’ release by them and whose idea was it 2 use the different cover, which I have to say features some amazing artwork by Alex of The Knell?
Yes and no. Gad requested we do a demo for him to distribute, to spread the word about us prior to releasing a full length so we set to task and delivered the goods. Gad was so impressed that he enlisted Alec of The Knell to create different artwork and list it as an official Totalrust Music release. The art that Alec did way surpassed anyone’s expectations. As it was supposed to be a quick job, but the boy done good with some fine art work. We are torn between which we like best as although both styles are poles apart, they both suit the music contained within.
Speaking of Totalrust, you recently signed a 2 album deal with them, considering at the time you didn’t have a demo and have never even been to Israel let alone played there, how did Gad hear about you and offer you a deal?
Someone had mentioned us to Gad after hearing us via Myspace he checked us out. He was a bit cryptic at first, asking lots of questions then he just told us his intentions. Initially he wanted to hear the full length before he committed to releasing it, but as time went on he decided to “bite the bullet” and offer us a two album deal, which with Gad at the helm we were very happy with.
We already had some label interest from a US based label but the deal wasn’t really right for us, and although the label is very capable we just felt we would be in safer hands with a more doom orientated label. Then Gad came along and I can honestly say that we couldn’t be in safer hands.
You’ll also be recording your first full length album soon with Bri Doom at Studio 1in12, firstly I take it you’ll be looking forward to working with such a legend within the underground music scene and more importantly when will the recording take place, how many tracks is it likely to feature and lastly, when will it be available?
Yeah, after getting Bri to sign all my Doom vinyl we might be able to squeeze a little bit of recording in!
At the moment the recording date is tentative, all we know is March/April/May time. No studio time has been booked yet, and as far as the release date? Who knows? A bit early days yet but we are contractually bound to deliver something by August.
You’re based in the arse end of nowhere, also known as Barrow-in-Furness (I can say that as I live in this dump too!) it’s not exactly the Doom capitol of the world so how hard have you found it to get gigs locally as well as ‘out of town’ and what’s the general support/feedback been like?
Well geographic isolation has made things a struggle. A lot of the city based bands must take things for granted when they play their home cities. Here in the South Cumbria area there has to be 30 (at the most) gig-going extreme metal fans. And about a quarter of them at the very most will be into the whole ‘Doom’ thing, so already the odds are stacked against us. So for us, our main mission is to continue playing locally for experience and to gain local support but to also venture further a field. We have played Manchester twice now and the last time we played there we played to Atavist’s audience which was the first time we have played to “Doom Heads” and we seemed to do okay! So if anyone out there is reading this and fancy’s putting us on get in touch!
Your guitarist Jas also runs your Myspace page and must be one of the biggest tarts that uses it, so do you think this has helped spread Volition’s name, not only in the UK but internationally as well?
Absolutely! Without Myspace there would be no deal. Simple as! We’re doom’s answer to the Arctic Monkeys! I think certain webmasters have a love/hate relationship with Myspace, they love it as they can lust after pretty boy scene kids taking photos of themselves in mirrors with pants that do not fit and they hate it because it takes money out of their pocket as any old dumb twat can set up an account and tart it up to make it look professional!
Joking aside, Out of our 900+ friends, how many are actually our friends? About 20? 30? Even someone as bigheaded as me knows I am not that popular.
Myspace is a promotional tool. Open a page, see where a band is from, see what they look like and hear them. All for free. It worked for us, without Myspace we’d be self financing a CD, distributing and promoting it ourselves.
Apart from the aforementioned album, what else can we expect from Volition in 2007?
There are several things in the pipeline, collaboration projects with other bands/projects. I am bound by silence at this time sorry. All I will say at this time is that anyone who has been around for as long as we have will realise what a big deal it actually is when it happens, as dare I say I might even be looking forward to this more than the full length, that is enough for me. Not to mention the exposure to all the right ears we should get on the back of it!!!
And finally, thanks for taking time to answer my humble questions and please use this space for any final words/thoughts…
Firstly, I would like to thank you, for conducting this interview and for all your continuous support. Also thanks to the following fine folk: Gad @ Totalrust Music, Dave & Paul @ Future Noise, Tony & Carpathia, Oli @ Ttdmrt, Alec & The Knell and anyone else who gave us a gig or showed support in anyway.
Check out all the latest goings on with Volition at: www.volitiondoom.co.uk
Interviewed by: Lee Edwards