The Eighties Matchbox B-Line Disaster are without doubt one of the darkest, most original and most effortlessly “cool” bands to emerge on the music scene in the last decade. Never heard of ’em? Your loss! Hopefully this interview will provide some incentive for the uninitiated to explore their wild ‘n’ wacky world. Bassist Sym Gharial kindly enlightens us about the imminent new album (releasing 17 May) and their current tour which kicks off tonight, Monday 10 May in Leicester, England.
Michael Bowser, Melbourne, Music Vice – With your first album, Horse Of The Dog, you went straight for the jugular with a short, sharp barrage of 10 songs in just over 25 minutes. A very “punk rock” debut, indeed! Then, with second album The Royal Society, things “slowed down” enough to show off the band’s many other musical colours. Then, on the In The Garden EP, you opted once again for a short, sharp assault to the senses with 4 tracks which charged through the listener before they had time to so much as draw breath! The first question, then: What should long-term fans be expecting from the new album…are we going to get the many varied tempos and temperaments of The Royal Society, maybe even some new sounds we’ve yet to hear from the band?
Yeah, Horse of the Dog had the visceral energy of being a teenager, and Royal Society explored psychedelia I guess. There are no massive surprises, but we do have a ballad in “So Long Goodnight”, and “Monsieur Cutts” captures a bit of the old darker energy. The new record was always going to sound different since it was the first full-length since Andy left.
The name of the new album, I’m informed, is Blood And Fire. In the words of a rather infamous politician from our Australian shores: Please explain!
We overcame a number of obstacles collectively and individually to reach this point, and we couldn’t have done it without incredible determination, perseverance and the fire of passion in our hearts. The music and the live performance are revelatory and conjure up apocalyptic energies for me, but it’s extremely uplifting and positive. It’s a record about perseverance and always following your heart till the end.
Speaking of Australian shores, to the best of my knowledge the band has never toured in Oz before. Any chance this will be rectified for the new album release?
No plans are set in stone, but we will be going abroad in the autumn, so hopefully before the end of the year.
It’s been a long wait between full-length albums for the faithful…over five years, if I’m not mistaken! Other than ongoing lead guitarist changes, have there been any other reasons for this delay?
Well, Andy Huxley left and then Rich Fownes left to join Nine Inch Nails, and incredible lead guitarists don’t fall off trees! We also scrapped a lot of songs, and there were a lot of personal problems: Breakdowns, too many parties, etc. We also parted company with our management, and had to find the right person to lead us forward. We recorded the album in France with our own money, which took a couple of months, and then Guy played the lead part in a French film. We then did a label showcase and signed to Black Records last autumn. It is really amazing to be part of a label that allows you to do your thing and appreciates you for what you are. We never stopped touring though, and had the pleasure of supporting System Of A Down and Queens Of The Stone Age.
I’m assuming that Tristan McLenahan is still the current lead guitarist? How is he fitting in with influencing the band’s sound?
Tristan is an incredible guitarist. I think he’s been playing since he was TWO or something, and is a real asset to the band. It was like being a new band when he joined, a real breath of fresh air.
I heard a rumour that the new album was recorded in France? Tell us more…
We saved up the money we had made from doing some European festivals in 2008 and re-located to Tristan’s parent’s place in Oradour, southern France, to record twenty tracks. Tristan’s brother helped produce, but it was the first time we had been left to our own devices, so it was a real challenge agreeing on certain things…but we got there in the end, and it was a triumphant recording in the end.
You’re about to start a new tour in the UK, and are renowned for high-energy, chaotic live shows…will it be business as usual herein for those lucky enough to catch you guys in the flesh?
It’s exciting to be playing new songs and a new album to people. We always strive for something monumental live, something to really blow the door off the hinges, but it has be to real and organic. Our fans have been exceptionally patient and loyal because they know no one else is doing what we do.
A final question, then, one which we always ask here at Music Vice: Other than music, are there any vices you would like to share with us?
Too many to mention, but I’m trying to walk along the good path now!
© Michael Bowser, Music Vice
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