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Interviews Joe Thrasher

Interview with Matt Ingram (Guitars/Backing Vocals), Scott Wark (Vocals/Bass) and Jim Shurben (Drums)

Interview conducted by Michel Renaud

Date online: October 4, 2009


Ottawa's Joe Thrasher have been one of the favourite local bands since they formed back in 2003. Their down-to-earth attitude and their brand of "fun Thrash" purely and simply make a killing live. They have finally released their first album, Metal Forces (whick fucking kills, by the way) and I had been trying to set up an interview with the guys for a few weeks, but there were always "scheduling issues" on either side. In late September I finally got a chance to go see them play in Carleton Place and get this interview done after the show. Grab a beer, hold on to your hats and read on...

Sooo... We just got back from the show at Carleton Place Youth Centre. It was my first time there – interesting place, no stage! Haha!

Matt: Yeah, usually they have it setup with basketball nets and stuff like skateboard ramps.

It's not the first time you were playing there?

Scott: We played one other time. This was the second time.

Is that pretty much the usual attendance? (Roughly 40-50 people – didn't count)

Matt: The last time there were more people for sure.

Scott: I was expecting more people tonight.

What I found interesting is that there were more people inside after the show than during the show! They were all outside while, for example, Aggressor were playing, and then they showed up toward the end of the set.

Scott: They go outside and smoke and drink and just listen to the bands playing inside! (This is a Youth Centre, so no booze inside – Ed.)

Matt: That's why we keep it so loud! *laugh*

Yeah, you could hear the sound a couple of blocks away – I was walking from my car parked a few streets away and could hear the music from there... Alright so... Metal Forces, FINALLY! You've been around since 2003 or so?

Matt: Yeah. In this arrangement, it's been only since 2006, so the album has been in the works only for a couple of years.

Scott: And then we kind of rewrote Metal Forces. The whole album got re-tweaked since we lost our bass player.

Matt: We were going to record our full-length album with half our old songs that we wrote when Jose was in the band, the other half was stuff that we wrote since Scott joined and then we said "there's no point – just ditch the old stuff and focus on the new stuff and make it kick ass". The old stuff is cool too.

So the songs you have on Metal Forces is all new stuff from 2006 onward?

Matt: Yeah. "Metal Forces" would have been the first song that was written.

OK – I had been wondering why early songs such as "Joe Thrasher" had been left out.

Scott: We're talking about bringing those back a little bit though?

Matt: Like "More Hate" – we have the video for it, lots of people have heard it.

Jim: Lots of people really seem to like it. It's got a good intro to start the show with. It's hard to play for the first song. Start the show with "Speed Kills", it's easier riffs to warm up a little bit before you get to the faster stuff. Not like super tech Death Metal musicians...

Yeah, I find that stuff sounds pretty much all the same.

Scott: It's good yeah, but...

Jim: I find it interesting for about 30 seconds – bands like Necrophagist and stuff like that.

Scott: It's cool if you watching like "Holy fuck, how are you fucking playing that!?" but after 30 seconds it's like "OK, play a fucking riff!"

Jim: Maybe they do, I haven't really listened to that much...

You're aware that over the past few years, new Thrash Metal bands have popped up all over the place – I'm not talking about reunited bands, but new ones. Basically the new school that plays old school.

Scott: I think we're a little different though.

Yeah exactly. A lot of labels have been grabbing bands left and right, like Municipal Waste...

Scott: Municipal Waste is awesome.

Evile, Warbringer...

Scott: Warbringer is awesome... Bonded by Blood, Fueled by Fire...

You guys released Metal Forces by yourselves.

Matt: Yeah, we recorded it all ourselves.

Did you try sending a demo or whatever to a few labels?

Scott: No, we didn't bother.

So you didn't try to "ride the wave".... Not interested or...?

Matt: My thought was that if you send them a demo, it'd be hard to find a label that goes "oh yeah, here's $20,000, go record an album." They're not just gonna do that because you give them a kick ass demo, they're gonna want to know that the band has a strong following that they're gonna make enough money off of...

Scott: Now we can do that because we have a CD and a few videos that we can send...

Lots of Joe Thrasher t-shirts at the show tonight too. :)

Jim: If you drive through Lanark, the village of Lanark, they're everywhere – it's crazy!

Matt: You should have come out to the Perth show, it was like 10 times that easily...

Yeah, I missed that one again this year. The album is kind of on the short side...

Scott: Well, it's because the songs are short, right...

Jim: And they're fast!

Yeah, I'm just saying, for a lot of people if the album is under 50 minutes, they're crying because it hurts their pussy or something. What I like with Metal Forces is that it's what... 26+ minutes but it's intense – you sort of feel "satisfied" after listening to it. It's just like the show – you didn't have a lot of time to play, but you played a good number of songs anyway.

Scott: From start to finish man, it's "Go! Go! Go!"

Jim: We played maybe 10 or 11.

Scott: We were just talking earlier about the new Immortal. It's like seven songs or something like that.

I'm waiting for the vinyl in the mail, don't tell me too much! :)

Scott: I like albums... I don't know, if it's too much, it's too much of a good thing.

Jim: Not even necessarily a good thing.

The thing is, they may have 35 minutes of good stuff, and then 15-20 minutes of filler. There you go, you have your 50 minute album, but you skip a third of it.

Jim: That 15 minutes wrecks it.

Scott: If you have an album that's solid, like 70 minutes of awesome...

That's possible... The new The Chasm is over an hour and it's like... "wow!"

Scott: I haven't heard it yet.

I reviewed it a few days ago. They did a first pressing of 500 CDs and they sold out in a few days. You guys aren't much into "CNN Metal" as much as into "party metal", fun songs...

Jim: There's a bit of "CNN Metal" on a couple of songs, but mostly it's fucking Heavy Metal...

Yeah well, I got most of it, but there are no lyrics in the booklet, so sometimes it's not easy to catch all the lyrics while listening...

Scott: I've had a couple of e-mails about that...

Matt: When we get the new web site, we'll put them up. Maybe on Myspace even, they have a section for lyrics.

Scott: You can understand most of them.

It's not a criticism... It's just fun having the lyrics but still, you listen to "Marching", it's just a fun song!

Scott: It's supposed to be fun, man. If it wasn't fun then we wouldn't be here! I didn't write it to be "not fun".

Jim: It's the spirit of metal!

You guys have the songs written for the next album already. Is it pretty much in the same as Metal Forces – without giving away too much, of course... ;)

Matt: We played like half the songs tonight...

Yeah I noticed a few songs I hadn't heard before.

Scott: It's gonna be a bit different I think.

Matt: It's gonna fucking kick ass though.

Scott: I think it's actually gonna kick Metal Forces' ass.

Are you sticking to short songs again?

Jim: That's just how they come out, we don't actually set out to write short songs.

Scott: There are a couple of longer ones. We have one that's about six minutes.

Jim: ...But it seems like it's only a three minute song!

Scott: That's the first one over 4 minutes. Every fucking Joe Thrasher song is like 2:46, 2:47...

Matt: The next one is going to be similar in the regard that all songs don't sound like the same song. Like on Metal Forces, from one song to the next it's like this song might sound like Accept, this song might sound a bit like Slayer and this one might sound like something else. They all sound like Joe Thrasher, but they're diversified.

Jim: It's gonna be similar in the sense that the songs will be diverse, fast ones, slower ones. Even the fast ones will be different from one another,.

Scott: This next album is gonna be... Well, I don't wanna say completely different from Metal Forces – it's still Joe Thrasher, but it's over there, not over here anymore.

Jim: I think the Thrash is kind of more Heavy Metal, and even rock n' roll kind of slips in.

Scott: At the same time it's almost like there's a bit more Speed Metal. But it all fits.

Jim: Even Metal Forces, I don't find it too much of a Thrash album. When I think of Thrash, I think of Slayer... Faster.

Scott: But there are moments of Thrash.

Then again, if you listen to everything that's categorized Thrash, there's a lot of variety.

Scott: We're definitely more old school Thrash than some of the new stuff.

Are you planning on trying to get a label to release the new album, or are you planning on doing everything yourselves again?

Matt: I'm not waiting for a label. As soon as we get these songs polished up, I'm ready to record it. We'll just record it the same way we did Metal Forces.

Scott: Whatever happens happens, right? If we get a good offer... If we don't, we just do the same thing.

Matt: It'll sound better than Metal Forces, which sounds fucking cool I think. Nice and raw. I find the songs sound like we sound live.

Scott: I think it's just really cool for what it is, it's raw as fuck, it's perfect. I like the raw sound.

Jim: Yeah, I want to keep that.

I think you need that. If you want to be over-polished, go play Power or Progressive Metal...

Scott: We're definitely not polished!

What kind of feedback have you had so far.

Matt: Every feedback we've got is fucking awesome.

No one has said "you suck!" yet? :)

Matt: *laughs* No, we've had three or four reviews including yours, and it's all similar. Your review was very good of it and Hellion Records did a review of it and his review is fucking awesome. There are a couple of others I can't remember who they were – some zine or radio station type of thing. They're all really good too, and they all "get it".

That's good, because I've noticed a lot of new Thrash albums that are coming out... A lot of reviewers are really hard on them, even the fans. You know "oh, they're retro-Thrash, just jumping on the bandwagon". Although you guys aren't on a label, so there's a little less exposure. If, say, Earache had released it then you might be getting some crap because then you get lumped in with every other new Thrash band...

Scott: I think people are getting what we're doing. They're not lumping us in with the others.

And you guys DO sound different...

Scott: Yeah, and we're not like "retro-Thrash"- that's not what we are...

Jim: Most of the reviews, they put us aside – they put us over here as opposed to "with everybody else."

Matt: They're all saying "this is not your average Thrash band..." I think we managed to incorporate the essence of Heavy Metal.

Scott: Because we're doing what we wanna do.

Matt: The only reason we're doing this, really, is to fucking have fun! We love it.

Scott: Play metal – we wanna play metal. Whether it be something like "Marching" which is kind of straight up Heavy Metal or "Riot" which is pretty close to Thrash.

Jim: Nah that's definitely Thrash.

That song kicks some serious ass! *laugh* I was driving on the highway on my way to the show and I was like "gotta watch that gas pedal". Just remember: "Speed Kills!!" *laugh*

Scott: Something like "Assassin of Lies" is kind of old school like Speed Metal. It's just what we do. And it can go from something like "Marching" to "Assassin of Lies". Or something like "Canadian Metal", one of the new ones... (Very cool new song – Ed.)

In terms of touring, I know you guys have played mostly Ottawa, Carleton Place, Perth... Have you played elsewhere, looking into that a little?

Matt: We've played Montreal, we've played Peterborough. That's the farthest in either direction – couple of hours east and west of here.

Scott: This year we played a lot of local shows that were really cool.

Matt: Yeah, I'm happy just playing shows here. I don't have to fucking travel anywhere.

Scott: I imagine we'll get in to Toronto, eventually. This summer I really enjoyed just doing the local shows, it was a lot of fun.

Jim: And parties too. As many shows as we played this summer, we played as many backyard shows – fucking country drunken bashes. They had stages built in the backyard, lights and everything.

Scott: It's amazing how much metal is out in the rural areas.

Matt: Those shows are... I don't wanna say more fun...

Scott: Oh fuck, they're a lot more fun, absolutely! *laughs*

Matt: Lots of corn to eat, lots of beer to drink! It would be cool to play some more in Montreal, if we can get on the right shows, get more exposure.

Rusted Dawn and Aggressor are both unsigned and went on mini-tours of Canada. Is this something you'd consider doing? I guess it must be hell just setting that up.

Matt: I don't know... Maybe come the summer time we might be interested in putting it together ourselves, or if somebody wanted to take us on tour, then we wouldn't have to worry about booking the dates and stuff. The thing is, for example, a cross-Ontario tour from border to border; we don't know where to play outside of from here to Toronto. Not enough people know us to go to, say, Thunder Bay and make some money.

A question I ask all the local bands: What's your take on the Ottawa scene?

Matt: There's lot of kick ass metal in the Ottawa area right now.

Scott: And everybody's pretty cool.

You guys have played with quite a few of the local bands.

Jim: The last Perth Metal Meltdown we played with the ones we had never played with: My Shadow (Gatineau), Insurrection (Gatineau), Fumigation (Ottawa). All the bands that played Meltdown were awesome. Society's Sorry are from Kingston – they play some cool shit.

Matt: They were more like Heavy Metal.

Jim: Insurrection is like Death Metal.

Scott: They were fucking good.

Jim: They're fucking tight. Their album sounds fucking awesome.

Jim: Then there's Drillpoint, Aggressor, Bastardator, Axiom...

Scott: I love Bastardator. Identify the Dead is awesome. That's right up my alley.

Matt: I think there's a lot of metal talent in the Ottawa area right now.

Cool – positive comments, I like that!

Matt: Maybe a next Bay Area Thrash or something – we need to capitalize on it somehow.

We just need to get people out to shows – sometimes there's some great line-up and there's only 40-50 people.

Matt: When we were doing the Anvil shows, the first one there were maybe 80 people there, then the next two or three that we did in Ottawa it was packed with 160 people. Those shows were fucking awesome, lots of people coming out. More recently sometimes the wrong bands have been on, or the time was bad – like a Monday or Sunday show.

The Piledriver show back in April... There were way too many bands – seven I think. No promotion, nothing.

Scott: And then the tornado that night.

Jim: Some of the out of town bands, it was a waste bringing them out to that show. Things would have been better with just Aggressor, Joe Thrasher, Bastardator and Piledriver.

Everybody would have been able to play a decent set too. Piledriver had to cut their set short because they played so late. There was no one there at first, so the show started much later than planned.

Matt: The Goat Horn and Cauldron shows we played were fucking awesome.

Scott: That Cauldron show was one of the best shows ever. It was amazing.

How can people buy Metal Forces?

Matt: Currently you can get the CD from www.myspace.com/joethrasher and at shows. We're working with Hellion Records in Germany, so it should be available through them soon. Also it will be up on iTunes and the like in the near future, we're looking for someone to digitally distribute it for us.

Alright, time to let you guys rejoin your friends out there... Last words are yours!

Scott: Hmmmmmmmm....

Matt: Thank you! Last words are yours, Jim!

Jim: METAAAAL!!!

Other information about Joe Thrasher on this site
Review: Demo
Review: Demo One
Review: Metal Forces
Review: Cries of War (*Teaser*)
Review: Cries of War
Interview with Joe Thrasher on April 18, 2004 (Interviewed by Michel Renaud)
Video: Speed Kills
Video: More Hate
Video: Out for Blood (Live)




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