Wednesday, March 9, 2016

An [Almost] Interview with Bastardizer

Good foreign bands stop by Malaysia only infrequently; when one does, I try to snag them for an interview. Sometimes I make a podcast out of it, as I did with Full of Hell and Necrowretch. A few times I've recorded an interview with plans to transcribe and post it on the blog soon after. This was the case when Sidney's Bastardizer played Not A Fest XV in September of 2015. I spoke with drummer Andrew Craig and bassist Ray McGill after their set, and planned to have the interview up within a few weeks. Clearly I overestimated my own initiative and underestimated how tedious and time-consuming transcribing interviews can be. Since then, both Andrew and Ray have moved on; so now it's technically not an interview with anyone in the band Bastardizer anymore.

Still, it was an incredibly fun interview, and I enjoyed talking to them so much that I feel it would be a waste not to post this. So almost half a year later, here's an "almost" interview with Bastardizer.

Dreams of Consciousness: So let’s talk about this tour; how did it come about?

Ray: We’ve got a Malaysian record label that released our album on cassette, Hellforce Records. Kerry [Kaufman, Atomicdeath] wanted to bring us over. And we were like, fuck, we’ve got nothing better to do. [Laughs]. And Sewercide wanted to come over for a couple of shows in Indonesia. And we wanted to do the whole seven [dates] or whatever we’re doing.

Andrew: Back in January [2015] I joined Bastardizer. I was only going to fill in for a few shows at first. And when I first joined they had the Asia tour dates, and asked if I could do it. And this landed well within my schedule.

Ray: And this is why we’re here! We’ve been in Malaysia for, I don’t know, 10 hours…

Andrew: Our first show of the tour was last night in Bangkok.

Ray: And we were THERE for about 10 hours!

Andrew: The other two members of Bastardizer flew in a week early and had a holiday. Ray and I flew in and got in about 2 hours before we had to play. And we were very drunk, because there was free alcohol on the flight.

Ray: I was "suitably" drunk. Andrew was "very" drunk.

Andrew: We got through the set.

Ray: I’m a professional, so I drink just enough…

DoC: So what places are you hitting on this tour? Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia…?

Ray: Bangkok last night, KL today, Singapore tomorrow.

Andrew: Then a day off, then Johor Bahru on Wednesday. Then after we play there we fly to Indonesia, another day off in Jakarta, then Yogyakarta. Maybe not in order but…yes. Possibly. I don’t even know where we are.

Ray: And then back to work!

DoC: So this is holiday/tour?

Andrew: Yeah. For Ray and I, we’re only here for the shows, but the other two members of Bastardizer got a solid week and did a little bit of sight-seeing in Phuket. I fly home overnight Monday, land in Sidney about 6 AM, and then work at 8:30.

DoC: That sounds rough. I apologize. But honestly, we all appreciate you guys coming here. I was talking to Andrew about the turn out here, we get such few shows here in Malaysia that any time a band comes out, people come and support.

Ray: Which is great. Because it's Sunday night. In Australia, if you try to have a show on a Sunday, you’d probably have 10-15 people, and that’s if you finish before 10 PM. Right now it’s almost 11 pm, and it doesn’t look like anyone has left yet. It’s amazing. There’s metal markets here, bands playing upstairs…it’s great. It’s such a cool vibe. It’s something you’d never see in Australia. You can drink on the street…

DoC: …I don’t know if you can, actually…

Ray: Well, we’re drinking on the street. We saw some police before, they didn’t say anything.

DoC: So let’s talk about Bastardizer. I’ve never heard of you guys. Tell me the backstory. First of all, what do you call the kind of music you play?

Andrew: “Black Thrash & Roll”: Venom, early Motörhead…

DoC: I hear a lot of early Bathory.

Ray: Yeah, on a split we did with Whipstriker from Brazil, and we covered "Sacrifice".

Bill and Chris formed the band about 2 and half/3 years ago…2011, going into 2012. I get confused about the years…

Andrew: He’s getting old.
Ray: I am getting old. They started the band with Jackson [drums] and another guy James [bass]. They just started jamming, did a demo. Someone in Perth really liked it and sent it to heaps of people around the world. And there was a New Zealand guy who has a label, he picked it up and wanted to release an album. And there was another group in Germany that wanted to do it on vinyl. So they had to write and record an album, [Enforcers of Evil]. And they did that last year [2014]. And towards the end of 2013 is when it started. So James, the bass player, he’s in another couple bands: Tyrannic and Hellbringer. Hellbringer do a fair bit of touring in Europe, so he decided to give it away. So I joined in 2014, when the album came out.

Andrew: You weren’t on the album, though.

Ray: No, I wasn’t on the album. Just on the new split. We did that Sept last year. And so we had a pretty busy year last year, we supported Coroner and Morbid Angel, a few others.

Andrew: We get home in a few weeks and we’ll be supporting Toxic Holocaust. Midnight, we supported them around Australia.

Ray: We went to New Zealand early this year as well.

Andrew: That was just before I joined. There were a lot of shows with the old drummer.

Ray: Yeah. So it’s been a busy couple of years, really.

DoC: You guys hit the ground running, it sounds like.

Andrew: [Laughs} Yeah, the band’s only been going for, what, three years.

Ray: Yeah, it’s an incredible amount of progress for such a short amount of time. We’ve been in other bands and everything’s been a lot slower.

Andrew: You just look at a lot of Sidney bands…there’s a lot of great bands in Sidney, but not a lot have that initiative to really push harder and go overseas, or do those kind of things. There are a few that do, definitely; it’s well worth doing that and coming overseas. Like tonight was an amazing show.

Ray: It was sweaty, but there were people literally down on all fours, headbanging right in front of the stage. It was amazing. It’s not a financial thing, but experience-wise, it was well worth the money we paid just for the experience. Obviously most people would know there’s not much money in this kind of thing. you’d never do it for money, because you’d be sadly disappointed…

Andrew: Anyone who’d do this for money is an idiot.

You’ve got to have the love for it, and it’s so much easier when you’re in a band with people who love it. They’ve all played in a couple bands. It makes traveling and touring so much easier. It’s not a job at all. There’s no part of it that feels like a job, except for carrying shit all over the place.

And the waiting. There’s a lot of waiting at gigs. I don’t remember what time we got here, maybe about 4 PM.

Ray: After the show is fun. We can throw down beers. After the show goes really quick somehow. [Laughs] And it’s a bit of a blur…

Einstein had theories about that…

DoC: I’m not a fan of the “old school thrash” thing. But one of the things I liked about Bastardizer is it sounds like you guys spent a lot of time in the rehearsal space.

Andrew: We’re in the rehearsal studio every week, at least.

Ray: Yeah to make sure it gets tight.

DoC: “Tight" is the word I wrote down to describe you guys.

Andrew: Yeah, especially since there’s only a couple of tracks now that I’ve done the drums for. Almost everything we played tonight is stuff [written] by a different drummer. So that’s why just doing plenty of rehearsals to make sure it’s tight, and make sure we’re happy to take it overseas.

Ray: And we’re all fairly experienced musicians. I’ve been playing live for 7 years in various bands, Andrew has been in similar.

Andrew: Yeah, coming up on 10 years, next year. I think the only one in our band that hasn’t had that much experience is the guy who writes most of the music, funnily enough. He’s been in bands before, but none that toured a lot. Our singer was in a band that toured a bit. Ray here has been in 6 bands over the years? And since 2005 I’ve played in 7 different bands? And I’m in 4 current bands.

DoC: So Bastardizer is working on new material?

Andrew: There’s one song that’s going to be on the new album that’s completely finished, and we’ve played it live a few times now; unfortunately we didn’t get to play it in KL tonight, but we played it last night. And we’ll play it in Singapore tomorrow. The guy who writes the material, Bill, has a lot of new material. The way the band process works, is Bill writes the songs, but we all write our own parts, and we all work together. So there’s a few demos and stuff floating around. But probably by the time we start hitting the stage again next year, everything should be written and ready to record. I daresay probably mid-2016 roughly.

Ray: It’s interesting from the perspective from…Bill might write a riff, and the bass line doesn’t make any sense till I hear the drums.

Andrew: Going back to what you were saying before, about not being a big fan of thrash…there are thrash bands I like…

DoC: I should stress that I like the thrash I grew up with; I don’t like thrash made after 2008. Basically when Warbringer and bands like that started coming out, and there were a million of them. And I was like, “You know what? I get it. I have those Kreator albums too. But I don’t need to hear someone else play them.”

Ray: Yeah, we only listen to the best of the best.

Andrew: Yeah, exactly. There’s no point in being an imitation. If Bastardizer were an Australian thrash band, there’s no way I would have joined them. It’s the rock and roll blend that appealed to me when I first got asked to join. The old drummer was definitely more thrash-based, I think, because he’s a big thrash fan.

Ray: Coroner was his favorite band.

Andrew: The new material so far I’m not following in his foot steps in regards to drums. So the beats aren’t as thrash. There are thrash elements, but a bit more diverse, because my roots are more progressive and black metal. So there’s a lot of that stuff. The new stuff that we’ve been playing live, there’s a few blast beats, and heaps more double kick in the new material.

DoC: So this is going to come out waaaaaay after you get back to Australia [I tried to warn them - Dreams of Procrastination], but is there anything you want to say to the people you’ll be seeing you in the next couple days?

Ray: Just thanks heaps for coming out and making it a great time.

Andrew: We’re so thankful for the people that come out. This is only the second show and literally we’re almost sold out of most of our merch. We’re getting asked to sign all the stuff…

Ray: Heaps of photos….

DoC: So many new Facebook friends!

Ray: [laughs] Yeah, but that’s why you do this sort of thing.

Andrew: And  we’re just so thankful, it’s been amazing. The promoters, the venues. It’s only two days into our seven day tour, and we can say we’re definitely going to be back quite regularly.

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