Gold Coast’s heavy music scene is set to generate an ear ringing to last through to the fireworks of New Years Day. 12 December sees eleven of Australia’s finest heavy music acts perform on the same bill under the flag of Metalfields II.
The festival – only in its second iteration – has already come to symbolise the strong metal connection from Brisbane right through to the northern rivers of New South Wales. Co-organised for the most part by John “Chippy” Chipchase and Azreal’s Chris Dennis, Metalfields is a full day barrage of head-banging, with the memory of the festival’s namesake, the late Kris Field, kept close in mind. A host of heavy genres will be on display for the metal faithful with sets from recent US campaigner’s In Death…, Northern Rivers’ rockers Hammers, the ever-intriguing Snake Mountain and newcomers Massic and Wurmzer to name a few.
Blank GC caught up with Luke Hosking of headlining groove-metal titans Azreal, for an update on the band’s recent movements and what to expect at The Coolangatta Hotel.
This is the second year of METALFIELDS, but already, in my mind, it’s set to become a staple heavy metal festival for the Gold Coast. What does a regular metal festival mean for the coast?
Well yeah, Wallapalooza is obviously a massive festival for the Gold Coast already but it’s not strictly metal. Brisbane has Metalheart, Ye Gods of Metal, Dead of Winter, Metal United. But on the Gold Coast there’s only a few mini festivals that happen not so regularly. Metalfields is only in its second year, but it is shaping up to be a constant yearly event of metal for the Gold Coast. There’s a lot of good bands on the Coast, Brisbane and Northern New South Wales and a lot of us have enjoyed touring together interstate, but building a festival for the Gold Coast like this is super important because people want to be able to get that at Gold Coast shows. Its important for punters to know that there is a metal scene here that they can go out and support and interstate bands to know this is a festival they want to play.
The idea behind Metalfields is known to some. We celebrate the life of a massive supporter of the heavy music scene and the namesake of the concert Kris Field. What got this festival off the ground in general?
Well its something that didn’t happen on purpose or from a contrived place. It happened on accident and out of really shitty, tragic circumstances. Kris was just this legend of a dude, that always came out to shows, always wearing local bands shirts, always keen to hang out, despite his disability or whatever he was just crankin’ all the time, huge personality. When he died all of a sudden it was just a massive shockwave through heaps of us because we were just so stoked to have him here in the first place. He was bringing other people in to the scene, because having a disability, he also associated with people who had disabilities but were keen like him to get out there. I’d imagine for someone in that position, it might not be that easy to get out there and just meet all these people in black tee shirts and beards and tattoos getting rowdy. And Kris was just no fear, he pulled this crew with him and it didn’t matter where you come from or anything like that, it was just about having a good time and hanging out with each other. He made a huge impact on us when he was alive, so when he died it just shattered so many of us. You don’t realise how much you appreciate the people you get to hang out with until something real bad happens. Really the first Metalfields was just a tip of the hat to him because he would have liked that and now it’s in the spirit of him because of the person that he was. He stands for something now, and its accepting everyone and having a good time, being yourself. That’s what metal is really meant to be about. That’s why it’s worthy of having a festival in his name, for as long as we can fuckin’ do it.
Who are you keen to see at the show?
Personally one of my favourite bands on the bill is In Death… They are just that super heavy, brutal, consistent death metal band, they never fail. You can rely on them to be in your face, tight brutal and… well, just brutal [laughs]. I really like what Snake Mountain are doing. They’re a super crushing band as well but they’ve got this on-stage persona, they wear masks, they’re real characters. The guys themselves don’t take themselves too seriously; Metalfields is on their world tour and they are releasing a greatest hits and they’ve been around for about a year. I like humour. Wurmzer is another for me, they’re in the early days of being a band but they stand out with just being a riff driven, sludge ridden, abrasive, nasty, fuzzy, stoner-sludge band. And well, that floats my boat.
Lets talk about Azreal. You have had some great news come through recently regarding a management deal. Tell us about that?
We’ve signed with MGI International which is a management and publicity company based in America but they are a global company. They’ll be looking towards getting our music to America with news, reviews and basically shopping our latest record Premonition to labels to get things rolling before we eventually head to the States. It was always the plan to get there, we’d thought about doing it this year but we wanted to get around Australia a bit more.
This is the first full year of touring your latest album Premonition, what have been some of the highlights on this Australian touring cycle?
We’ve had a lot of great trips to Sydney. It’s easy to get there, people are into similar kinds of music and you’re well received. It doesn’t feel really far from home. In saying that everywhere we’ve been has been really welcoming. We opened up Brewtality in Melbourne and that was a good crowd with a good response. Darwin was a highlight, they had a big stage set up outside and it’s not often you play under the stars, that was a real touristy time for us being up there. We’ve done plenty of North Queensland touring which has been a blast with Terrorfest and then shows with Bent Metal media in Gladstone. All of it’s fun whether it’s getting on a plane or in a car.
Have you noticed particular songs from Premonition that are becoming favourites or resonating for punters?
I think as far as response goes, the heavy, the thrashy ones, you get a good response as far as people moshing, dancin’ around and they move to it but as far as people remembering songs; I’ve found it’s the simpler things, the more reduced it is the more people are attracted to it. A song like Kill Your Fears, repeats its own title and people can dig into that immediately. As far as album response goes, Ghosts has been overwhelmingly our audience’s favourite track. It’s drawn out and with a little more depth vocally, I think people relate with it. It’s more chipping into yourself and it comes more from an inner place.
Now having spawned two albums, and reflecting, is there a sense of what the Azreal sound is? Are there any tracks from either album for example that you’d say the band gravitates towards?
From the band’s point of view of course there are songs that the band thinks are better than others. People mention to us the songs they like and you keep that all in the back of your mind and it’s kind of an affirmation. Even if somebody says they really like a song or particular vocal lines or riffs, you might have been thinking you didn’t like the song because you’ve heard it a million times. That kind of comment or affirmation might make you go back and listen to it from their perspective or point of view, and how would this sound to someone who isn’t me?
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Azreal headlines Metalfields2 with In Death…, Hammers, Siv, Last 9 Days, Snake Mountain, Deraign, Dead End Kings, Massic, Killer’s Creed and Wurmzer. Doors open at the Cooly Hotel midday on 12 December. Tickets through Oztix or any of the bands.