SAVAGE MESSIAH is a band on the rise, with three albums released, deals for distribution within Europe, the United States and Japan and a formidable live reputation. They are currently on tour around Europe with AMON AMARTH and HUNTRESS.
I grabbed frontman, Dave Silver after the sold-out Plymouth show, for a chat.
After a quick catch up (it’s been 6 months!), I asked him if he felt privileged to be in their position, as a band, in an industry that can see smaller localized, unsigned bands release 3-4 albums and struggle to receive recognition out of their home town?
It’s cool to be in this situation, but it doesn’t come easy, you know? Lots of sacrifice, and hard work. We’re still making those sacrifices and working hard! We’re not ‘there’ yet!
You’re keen to point out that Savage Messiah is a Metal Band, rather than be pigeonholed into a sub-genre, yet the press seem just as adamant to brand you as Thrash. Do you get tired of it? Is the press far too eager to categorize bands?
Nah, it’s fine. When I hear our records, yeah, I hear a bit of thrash, but it’s metal… classic metal. People are keen to categorize. It’s weird for us, because we’re not really part of a ‘scene’. Classification is a weird thing, you know. People should ask themselves one very straightforward question, and that is, “Do I like it?” I mean, I listen to all sorts of stuff. I don’t care. It’s a completely subjective thing.
‘The Fateful Dark’ received acclaimed reviews around the globe; has the overwhelming response to the album helped cement the Savage Messiah sound and style?
Yeah. It’s been great. It’s cemented our sound, but, you know, we’ll keep on refining it. We’ve found a formula that works.
Would you say a band’s sound and style is key to longevity? Should bands stick to a formula that works for them as artists?
We’ve found a formula, not musically, but in our way of doing things. The last album was done differently to the previous ones. It was the four of us, locked in a room, jamming. Keeping stuff we liked, throwing stuff that didn’t quite work. We also had a thought to ‘how would it sound live?’ We think we captured an energy doing things that way.
A lot of albums, in recent years, have sounded a bit ‘sterile’, which is fine for them, I guess. You can achieve a pristine production on a very small budget, compared with like, the 80’s or 90’s when you needed a really big budget to do that. Yeah, technology is great these days for doing that sort of thing, embrace it, by all means, but don’t forget the roots… Metal is essentially LIVE music.
To the point that these days, the CD has become a ‘merch’ item?
We sell quite a few CDs on tour, so yeah. You know, we have our back catalogue with us. Of course, we sell through retailers, but we get a lot of fans who’ll buy at the gig, get it signed, that sort of thing. It’s really neat.
You’ve been busy in the studio recently, demoing tracks for the next album. How’s that going?
Yeah. We’ve 5 or 6 tracks. We’re looking towards possibly the end of this year. We want to tour. Really crack on with touring ‘The Fateful Dark’. Last year, we hit Europe, headlining, which was great, and a couple of festivals. This year, we’re starting off strong with this tour with Amon Amarth.
You’ve worked with Scott Aktins on all your albums to date. Will Scott be mixing the next release?
Oh, I’m sure he will. It’s almost an unspoken thing. Scott’s a loyal guy. We really want to work with him again. We’ve had a few talks.
Longevity seems to be a much-debated topic within the industry these days. Do you think working with the same key people off-stage is a relative factor to longevity?
Consistency is good. Obviously, as you grow, you can’t always keep the same people, but you want to be loyal to people, and want people to be loyal to you, you know, and share any success that comes from it.
You know, it may have been me that said “I want to be in a band, and it’s going to be called Savage Messiah”, but it’s very much a collective effort. For example, the people at the label, who work extremely hard.
It’s really hard to break a band these days. There’s a lot of fence-sitting… people afraid to commit, to fully get behind you… worried about risking their professional reputations on a failure.
Does that cause frustration?
No. I do this for me, and as long as I enjoy playing the songs, and playing with the guys, and they’re enjoying it, you know, having a laugh and stuff… and, of course, as long as people like hearing us… I’m happy.
With each little success, comes a little more confidence from the industry.
I’ve no doubt a lot of 15/16 year-olds, starting to jam as a band in their school music rooms, are still under the impression that a record deal today means you can just turn up and play the set at a gig. As a band with a multi-album deal, how switched on to the ‘business’ have you got to be in today’s industry? How much do you do, as a band?
There’s a thing called ‘unconscious competence’ where, you know, you start out, you don’t really know what you’re doing, but you get through. If you stick with it, learning from your mistakes along the way, you get to be more objective. You look back and say, “Ah, right. I can see now. I can see where we need to improve.” you slowly become ‘consciously competent’. You get better at doing it.
Getting signed is still a great thing… if you’re ready for it. It’s a business investment.
And how much of the ‘business’ do you do?
You know, we’ve got some great people around us. You have to do it yourselves when you’re starting out, of course, but why do you start a band in the first place? To play guitar, or whatever. So if you find someone who believes in you, and is able to manage you at the right level, why wouldn’t you let them? Yeah, it’s going to cost, but if you’re ultimately benefitting from it, it’s worth it.
Joff (Bailey – guitar) has said previously, that you choose to put the pressure on yourselves rather than let the label pressurize. How do you deal with that pressure?
Yeah, we pressurize ourselves. We don’t get pressure from Earache [SM’s label] … not in that sense. Obviously, if they’re out there busting their balls (as they are), saying “You’ve got to check out Savage Messiah!”, we’ve got to deliver live. They’re not putting pressure on us like, “You’ve got to sound like this”, or “You’ve got to do that.”
They know we’re not going to suddenly put out a folk album, or introduce a female vocalist, for example. There’s trust there, and we want to do the best we can.
You know, we want to do this full time, for as long as we can, so it makes sense that, if we get a big show, a great opportunity, we don’t want to fuck it up!
Talking of deviating, Mira (Slama – bass) recently made a guest appearance with Martin Beck’s Induction.
If you were to collaborate, who would you most like to work with on a recording?
Yeah. Hmmmmm! I wouldn’t rule it out. I wouldn’t want to go with another Heavy Metal band. If I did get an offer,it would have to be to do something completely different, and it would have to really interest me but, yeah… why not?
What would be the ultimate line up for a Savage Messiah gig, as support, or being supported?
Obviously, there’s Metallica or Iron Maiden, not only because we’re mega-fans of theirs, but also to be a fly-on-the-wall and witness the workings of a massive international tour! You know, just the chance to be involved in something like that, would be absolutely mind-blowing! Plus, playing to like, 20,000 people every night would be pretty cool.
Talking of Iron Maiden, your album covers and T-shirts are very much in that classic vein, where the artwork has become intrinsic to the music. Is that a conscious decision?
Oh yeah. Absolutely.
We know it’s not an original idea, never claimed it to be, but we’re a British Heavy Metal band, and for us, part of that, is the thematic album artwork. Maiden are the masters of it but also, to a lesser extent, are Judas Priest. It’s a doff of the cap to that history.
Tied in with that, are your vinyl releases…
It’s one of the many things I’m really grateful to Earache for… the vinyl.
I’m an old skool Metal fan, I collect vinyl, so the first time I held our record in my hands, I was like, “This is sick!”
It’s great seeing vinyl making such a resurgence too, and the best thing is it’s market driven. Downloading a song is great, but to buy CD, to listen to it, to read the lyrics, to look at the pictures… it’s better. And on vinyl, it’s even better again!
The internet initially crushed the industry, devaluing music, but people seem to want more for their money these days, and the simple download doesn’t cut it.
So, what’s next for Savage Messiah?
We’re looking to heading out to the States.
Is that a new market for you?
Kind of. The first album didn’t get anywhere. Funny story, actually. The distributors told us they were shipping out ‘finished product’… a box of CDs. Cool, we thought. How many?
The second and third have been selling, and we’ve noticed, through our social media, requests to go Stateside. I think it’s only a matter of time… and of course, someone booking us.
If that’s not a hint, I don’t know what is!
If you can… if you can still find a ticket, that is… see Savage Messiah opening on the current Amon Amarth tour (dates below), or at their headlining show at Downstairs – Aberdeen, UK on 26th January.
19 Rescue Rooms – Nottingham, UK
21 Waterfront – Norwich, UK
22 Arts Center – Colchester, UK
23 O2 Academy 2 – Oxford, UK
24 Sugarmill – Stoke On Trent, UK
25 Academy 2 – Manchester, UK
27 Classic Grand – Glasgow, UK
28 Stylus – Leeds, UK
29 Newcastle University – Newcastle Upon Tyne, UK
30 The Assembly – Leamington Spa, UK
31 1865 – Southampton, UK
02 Le 106 – Rouen, France
03 La Cartonnerie – Reims, France
04 L’Autre Canal – Nancy, France
05 La Paloma – Nimes, France
06 Sala Santana – Bilbao, Spain
07 Sala Razzmatazz – Barcelona, Spain
08 La Riviera – Madrid, Spain
10 Paradise Garage – Lisbon, Portugal
11 Hard Club – Porto, Portugal
12 Captol – Santiago, Spain
14 La Cooperative de Mai – Clermont Ferrand, France
15 La Laiterie – Strasbourg, France
Interview and Image: Rob Nankivell]]>