Interview: Screaming Eagles' Adrian McAleenan

Ahead of their Thursday night appearance at Hard Rock Hell: ‘House of Horrors’, we caught up with Screaming Eagles lead guitarist Adrian McAleenan to check out how things are going whilst they’re touring to support their new album…

Hi Adrian. Thanks for taking the time to talk to us. The release of ‘Stand Up And Be Counted’ (via Off Yer Rocka Recordings) seemed to be a seminal point for the band. Where do you feel you are now with that under your belts?

“Stand Up And Be Counted was the result of 18 months of writing and rehearsing, and plenty of hard slog. We knew all about the “difficult second album”, and didn’t want to have to force anything in the writing process. In the end, it was all very organic and up to the last minute. Some songs changed drastically during the recording process. We were very happy with the final result, and were confident when handing it over to the label that this was the absolute best we could have done. With the feedback we have received from fans and magazines, it seems that plenty of other people are enjoying the album and that’s all we wanted to hear. We’re in a good place now with two good, solid albums in the bag and plenty in the arsenal to play live, ready to take on the world I tell ya!!!”

As you prepare for the scheduled slot for HRH: ‘House of Horrors’ in November, how important to you as a band are these festivals?

“In terms of exposure and experience, playing on bigger stages to bigger crowds is a must for any band looking to make a name for themselves. Screaming Eagles have played some great festivals now in England and Wales, and combined with smaller headline shows, we are hopefully making some headway.”

Talking of which, what changes do you make, as a band, in terms of your set list for a festival slot over a headlining slot?

“You’re ultimately going to be playing to a lot of people who won’t know your back catalogue so you have to go out there and grab them by the balls within the first 30 seconds or so. You have to keep that high energy up for the majority of your set and make sure they don’t forget who you are. A headlining slot is a bit different, in that you have time to mix it up a bit and keep it interesting over, say, 75-90 minutes.”

Given the impressive line-up, who are you most looking forward to seeing at HRH (apart from Trucker Diablo, of course!)

“Yeah, we’ll definitely be down the front for Trucker and Massive Wagons (after we’ve drunk all their beer in their dressing room!). Zakk Wylde and Black Label Society are top of my list… hopefully they play ‘Fire It Up’!”

Northern Ireland seems to be a musical hot bed of quality hard rock and metal (that yourselves, Trucker and NHA are on the line-up is testament to this). What do you think has made this happen; and do you think the rest of the UK needs to sit up and take more notice?

“I think we have always had great talent here; bands are becoming more ambitious now, especially with the opportunities opened up by the internet, and are starting to produce great songs and records. This country has it all when it comes to music, art, and recording facilities. Both of our albums have been recorded here, our artwork designer is from here. Basically everything we need is right on our doorstep. The rest of the UK is definitely taking notice. You only have to read through the rock magazines on the shelves of Eason’s and you’ll always spot a home band.”

You’ve been out there playing a lot of tracks from ‘Stand Up And Be Counted’. Some are a small departure from your previous releases. How have they been going down with audiences?

“They’ve been going down really well, thankfully!! Definitely, some of the songs are a departure from what we have done before, but we needed to do that to keep things interesting for ourselves, and the people who come to see us. The new songs demand a bit more from us, so we are kept on our toes in our live shows.”

At what point when you were recording both albums did you, as a band, look at each other and say: “Yeah, that’s what we were after!” or was it more organic than that?

“We know in the rehearsal room when a song starts to hit the spot. It usually results in a few smiles and nods to each other. I’ve all the demos from every song we recorded on both albums on my iPad, right from the beginning. Every now and again I’ll listen to them, and straight away I can hear that we were onto something good.”

Once you have HRH under your belts, what plans do you have already for 2016?

“After HRH, we’ll be getting straight back over the water to play shows in Grimsby, Cardiff, and Evesham at the end of November. At the minute we are organising shows in Germany for early 2016 and starting to book for festivals next spring and summer. HRH Road Trip: Ibiza is in the diary as well!”

 Have a great time at Hard Rock Hell, I’ll be there, front and centre, and good luck with the rest of the tour. Thanks, Adrian.

Interview: Jonathan Traynor

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