Auckland 5-piece IN DREAD RESPONSE wowed the NZ Metal community with their 2008 debut album ‘From The Oceanic Graves’ and since then they’ve continued to do so with intense live performances in New Zealand and abroad. At this year’s G-Taranaki the band will be opening for guitar legends Vinnie Moore, Jennifer Batten and Slash as well as US metal supergroup HAIL! NZRock caught up with IN DREAD RESPONSE members Steve Boag, Trajan Schwencke and Andy Chandler to find out more…
NZRock: IN DREAD RESPONSE has been around for a while now. Can you give us the rundown on when the band formed, how did you all meet to begin with and what other bands were you guys in beforehand?
Trajan: in 2005 I was playing guitar in a band with Sean and we were both chief song writers. As fun as it was I was starting to see it’s limitations. That’s not a bad thing at all, but I realised that if my new songs were ever going to see the light of day I would have to start up a new project. I’d already had a lot of the songs written, I just needed some people to help me make some noise. At first it was just a side project but when Sean offered to do vocals and I saw the intensity and the quality of his lyrics I knew it had gone beyond a side project and was something we could really hit the ground running with. The earlier line ups were nothing to write home about and I already had in mind people who I wanted in the band but for one reason or another they weren’t available. Steve I knew from his previous band TOMORROW COMES IN SILENCE. Our bassist at the time couldn’t make some shows so Steve came over and learned the whole EP in 25 minutes. The EP is 36 minutes long! I wanted Andy in the band since 2007 when I saw him playing guitar in his previous band A BLACK DISASTER and I also wanted Corey from when we toured with 8 FOOT SATIVA, so when they became available I drafted them before someone else did.
NZRock: How’d you guys score a spot on the G-Taranaki lineup?
Andy: Neil from MusicWorks contacted me about the gig, MusicWorks are a sponsor this year, and as an Ibanez endorsee I was one of his first artists to contact, so I asked the band and of course we all wanted to be a part of the festival! It’s pretty exciting for us, we are playing the Saturday night concert with Slash, then running a clinic the next morning.
NZRock: You guys have played at the Basement Bar in New Plymouth before but the TSB stadium is a significantly larger venue, will this be one of the biggest audiences you’ve played to?
Andy: I’m not sure about Corey and the other guys, but it will definitely be the biggest show I’ve played, I’m nervously excited already!
Trajan: Yes, definitely the biggest show for me too.
NZRock: Did any of you get a chance to check out the last G-Taranaki festival?
Andy: Steve and Trajan made it along, unfortunately I couldn’t get there, really looking forward to it this time though!
Trajan: Yeah Steve and I drove down last time. We had a great time checking out all the guitars down there and all the clinics. The Saturday night show itself was a lot of fun. The guitar tones got progressively better and better through the night and topped it off with an awesome performance from Joe Satriani. I remember sitting next to some old old guy who looked like Dick Cheney which kept me amused.
Steve: Seeing Joe Satriani play was one of the best live experiences i have ever had. Too amazing for words!
NZRock: Slash is of course going to be there but there are plenty of other guitar legends at G-Taranaki this year. Who are you most looking forward to seeing perform live and who would you most like to meet?
Andy: Jennifer Batten! Of course Slash without a doubt, but I’d love a chance to catch up with Jennifer, she’s a legend.
Trajan: For me it’s Slash. I love the sound from Gibsons and Marshalls. I always like seeing how people set up their rigs and how their tone sounds live.
Steve: Hopefully being able to meet and talk guitar geek talk with Vinnie Moore is something I’m looking forward to.
NZRock: I reviewed your debut album ‘From The Oceanic Graves’ when it came out in 08′ and apart from the production being awesome musically, the artwork was amazing as well. Whose idea was it to use the imagery of galleons, cannons etc?
Andy: Trajan had most of the imagery in mind already, so we took it from there, I guess the scene was already set with ‘Cannons At Dawn’ being a major track on the album, Traj and I then spent about a week over the images, and worked out a layout from cover to cover, it actually follows Admiral Nelson, with scenes from the Battle of the Nile, and Battle of Trafalgar, right up to his death and his ascension at the end.
Trajan: I had the idea floating around and one day asked Sean if he had any ideas for the albums title. When he told me he was thinking about calling it ‘From the Oceanic Graves’ I was really into it. We like to do everything in house if possible, that way we can get things exactly how wewant them. As well as being an awesome musician Andy’s design and layout work is superb, when he came up with the accension of Lord Nelson at the end of the album art work it wrapped up the album nicely. For those who don’t know their history it just looks like an epic array of old paintings but if it wasn’t for Lord Nelson we’d all be speaking French.
NZRock: There’s definitely a Swedish Melodic Death metal sound coming through in the IN DREAD RESPONSE music. What bands have influenced you guys musically?
Trajan: Surprisingly no swedish bands at all. The closest thing would be American band DARKEST HOUR and then just the classics like IRON MAIDEN, MEGADETH and SLAYER. I also listen to a few European doomy bands like CULT OF LUNA and Japanese band called ENVY.
NZRock: The Zorran Mendonsa & Evan Short combination has resulted in some amazing recordings of kiwi Rock / Metal in the last few years. How did you get onto working with them for your debut album?
Trajan: We’d previously worked with Zorran for our EP which we released ourselves so there aren’t many copies of that at all but the process was easy so we went with him again for the album. Evan Short came as a recommendation from Zorran and he did an awesome job.
NZRock: Congrats on winning Best Metal Video at the Juice TV awards, what did you guys get for winning that competition?
Andy: We got a perspex Juice TV award, and a high five! Thanks, we were really blown away that we took out the award, the support from our fans was amazing.
NZRock: So its been 2 years since you released the album, must be time for another one! Is there anything in the pipeline?
Andy: Absolutely! We have just released a new music video for ‘Stillborn Kingdom’, and we will be hibernating for a little while after G-Taranaki in preparation for a new album, we will be putting down some demo tracks and planning out the next album.
Steve: We are going to be working with Christian Humphreys (NEW WAY HOME / THE MARK OF MAN) this time for the new album which will make the process fresh and exciting. Christian is an extremely talented up and coming Producer/Engineer who we know will do a great job of the up and coming IN DREAD RESPONSE album.
NZRock: IN DREAD RESPONSE did a pretty comprehensive NZ tour with 8 FOOT SATIVA at the start of 2009 and also a big tour of Aussie a couple of months later. What were some of the highlights of those tours and throughout the band’s history to date?
Andy: That tour taught us we needed Corey on drums! It was a great time on that tour, the last full NZ tour that 8FS did too! Highlights were probably the Gisborne show, when we turned up it was a Truck Show, and we were all nervous, but I think that night we played the best all tour, it was killer! The venue was crazy, Smash Palace I think its called, there was a plane on the roof and a T-Rex as you walked in. Aussie was good fun, we can’t wait to go back and hit them even harder than last time.
Steve: For me one of the highlights was getting to know Gary Smith from 8FS. He is such an NZ metal legend it was great to hang out every day and see how no matter where we went through out NZ he was loved and appreciated by all in each city we played. Was really inspiring to see each day.
NZRock: Your music is clearly at an international standard, so what plans do you have to push the band even further on the international stage?
Andy: We have a new album to get out first, then we will look at Australia again, and onwards!
Steve: We are also working with Dennis Kibirev & Deadboy Records looking at alot of international online promotion targeting Europe, South America and Japan mostly. We also talking to promoters in Europe and Japan about heading over there early next year which is exciting. Great to be working with Dennis who really has a big vision for the band and is very passionate about getting us overseas and thinking bigger than just our little part of the world so we can take NZ metal global.
NZRock: Based on your own experiences what do you think are the biggest challenges facing NZ bands getting out to the rest of the world?
Andy: Honestly, NZ is the biggest challenge, constantly NZ music is labeled as “Oh, it’s pretty good for a NZ band” by NZ’ers! We seem to have little pride at times in what we can do, globally I think the metal scene is pretty quiet and nothing exciting is really taking over at the moment, but we have some excellent bands in NZ that are playing at a high standard, we just need the support behind us. There aren’t enough people going to local shows, buying local music and supporting these bands. Getting out to the rest of the world is a whole different game now with the Internet, Myspace / Facebook etc can have your band heard at any time in any corner of the world.
Trajan: I think quality of the music also plays a big part. Some kid in L.A who can see SLAYER or MEGADETH three or four times a year isn’t going to be stoked on a band if they are not up to scratch, he doesn’t care if you are a really good down to earth guy or not, the music must be able to stand on it’s own. Comparing yourself to other local bands can also be musical suicide since the standard has already been set by the big metal bands.
NZRock: Corey seems to have a lot musical projects on the go like FORNAX CHEMICA and THE MARK OF MAN, how has he had time to fit everything in.
Andy: Haha! He’s a busy guy alright! But we all are, we all have quite a bit to juggle between bands, and our partners and work etc, you just find a way to make it work!
Trajan: There’s no money in our kind of music in NZ so you need to do it for the love. Love doesn’t always supplement gas to get from A to B so I like to persuade him with his favourite vegan meal from Golden Age: Sweet BBQ Vege Duck (Golden Age is a Vegan restaurant in Auckland City that only serves vegan food).
NZRock: What other bands are the rest of you guys in?
Andy: Steve and myself also play in THE MARK OF MAN, Corey also plays in EMENDA, Trajan plays all 6 members of DECIMATOR and we all have a few side projects also.
NZRock: To those unfortunate souls who haven’t yet been to an IN DREAD RESPONSE show, what can they expect to experience from your live set?
Trajan: A wall of Stacks, some slamming double kick, pretty much an assault on your senses!