Alchemist - Interview
After a blistering MCD in “Eve of the War” and awesome cover in Jeff Wayne’s War of the Worlds, Alchemist returned in 2000 to release one of the most incredible albums of the year; certainly in Australia and in terms of better distribution, the world too! Undoubtedly one of Australia’s favorite sons of metal mayhem, Alchemist are without a second thought one of my favorite bands and their new album, “Organasm”, is brilliant. I caught up with guitarist Roy and he had a few words to say on miscellaneous components of Alchemist life.
First I’d like to say that “Organasm” is the best record I’ve ever had the pleasure of picking up from the Australian metal scene.
Thank you, kind words. It turned out cool, we worked pretty hard in the pre-production and recording. It’s got some big elements, you know? DW was unreal and it all came together pretty smoothly.
Why make metal, why not work as a white collar office worker?
Because making metal is fun and white-collar office work is not.
Do you ever get sick of Adam doing all the vocals and wish you get could up and do some of your own vox?
Not really, but I know Rodney has long had ambitions to sing a number, he sung on the 90 demo! We had a Hiawatha part in ‘Austral spectrum’ but it was pretty cheesy so we canned it.
Do you listen much to much of the metal scenes overseas? E.g. black metal from Norway or death metal from the states?
Death Metal got pretty dull for me after a few years I can still appreciate a good band but I don’t buy much. I like that real diabolical sound Emperor can get, to me that’s what Black Metal should be, I don’t like the crappy productions and copycat shit that seems to plague Black Metal. I don’t buy the politics either.
How was Metal for the Brain? Any weird shit go down?
Metal for the Brain was great we got about 1800 people and it all went as planned. We were busy as and didn’t get to see that much of the show. No real weird shit, lots of pissed headbangers afterward. It’s a pretty good vibe with all those people there. No dramas, no injuries, cool security, and awesome bands.
You’ve probably been asked this question countless times before, but why the name ‘Alchemist’?
Beause it’s metal! This question goes back to Adza’s high school days and predates the thrash era. Before my time. I think some guy into metal at his school gave it to him to use in the mid 80’s, I’ll find out! We have had a few other Alchemists pop up around the world but I think we have it covered now!
How is the reaction to Alchemist releases overseas? Are Europe and the States appreciative to the innovative metal you blokes churn out?
We get good responses where ever the CD’s manage to get out, that is the real problem for us, Displeased in Europe turned out to be pretty lame, hopefully Relapse will do better in the States. We don’t get much hate mail and a lot tell us how they have been affected by the music in some way. So that’s pretty cool.
Do you guys have a good fan base overseas? Where would most of the Alchemist fans come from (barring Australia of course)?
Well that’s hard to tell, we get some great feedback but they are scattered everywhere, US, Russia, UK, it really surprises me sometimes. They are so passionate in their comments; some have a funny story about how they obtained the music, others how they are affected by it. Most of our stuff in the past has filtered its way overseas in mysterious ways, we don’t ever receive deterred reports on what’s going on with exports in particular countries, etc. There’s a lot of trading going on as well.
In reference to the “psychedelic metal” tag... what made Alchemist want to compose such left-wing metal compositions? Why not straight out death or black metal?
I guess it was a combination of all the music tastes that existed in the band and an attitude to mix it up and be something different. Canberra in the early days of the band had a diverse music scene that crossed over a fair bit, it was pretty open minded here, there was always full on metal but also a lot of alternative aspects mixed in. People would go out and see anything. From a pretty early stage the band had that different sound. There are plenty of other bands to play the straight out stuff. It’s the weird shit that defines the Alchemist sound.
I have to ask what your stance on the Internet is in regards to metal? Are having samples of band’s work on the Internet good for publicity or just highway robbery? It seems to be a very fine line... your website (www.alchemist.com.au) is for example a great way for fans to get in contact with you and let you know if the latest record stunk or not, but on the other hand; downloading a whole album’s worth of Mp3s completely roots music (especially metal) to high Hell. Has the Internet helped your cause?
I think it’s great, the web site has helped our cause, it’s great for establishing the bands’ identity and introducing new fans. We hope to use it a bit more effectively in the future, but it’s only the beginning. MP3’s are great as far as I’m concerned. It may cost some sales but it is also a great way to get people keen and generate more sales. It’s not the same as a real CD. It does not bother me if the Internet is a threat to labels, they will have to adapt. As will the rest of us. I have not downloaded any full albums of MP3s and I use the Internet a fair bit. All the worry is about the potential, which is pretty daunting.
Do you reckon “Organasm” is the strongest Alchemist material to date?
Yes, I think it is the most coherent material to date, it has the strongest sound. We have had some great material in the past that sufferers from production problems, if given the same treatment as “Organasm” it may be a different story. I like to think it’s “Organasm”.
For the next Alchemist album are we going to see a return to the very organic, earthy feel that was in “Organasm” or another step in another direction?
New direction for sure we are well in to the writing but we plan to spend as much time as necessary. At this stage it’s weighty, textured, driving psychedelia.
Speaking of a future Alchemist album... do you have anything concrete laid down? Is there any possibility of long kick ass tracks like ‘Chinese Whispers’ with fucking neat-o sections in the middle?
We have lots of skeletons and working tracks. No long songs yet but lots of fucking neat-o bits. It is different material but it still sounds like us. We are writing in a garage with midi gear, V-drums and headphones; it’s pretty cool and sounds amazing when you’re doing it. We record it to Adza’s mini disc and move on to the next bit and so on. It’s been working out well.
Was there a video clip recorded for any track on “Organasm”?
No we wanted to go to Ularoo, Kakadu and Fraser Island to do a clip for ‘Astral Spectrum’ but when we realized we had to pay, we had to reconsider. It's pretty expensive stuff; at this point it would make more sense for us to concentrate on the next release.
Do any of you guys work outside of Alchemist?
Yes, it’s a long way to the top.
What is your favorite Alchemist track ever? Mine would have to be either ‘Tide In, Mind Out’ or ‘Chinese Whispers’.
I’m not sure, it’s weird when you go through the process of writing recording mixing then playing live, something you love can get pretty overplayed. The best stuff for me is the freshest.
Cheers for this interview mate, you guys are one of my favorite bands of all time. Stay Australian and keep recording good shit. Anything you’d like to add?
Thanks for the support Jack! Good on ya!
We will be back with a new record by next spring or summer, we will make it worth the wait. www.alchemist.com.au
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