Interview with Rich Thomson
We thought that it would be a good idea to grab Xerath for a few questions about their upcoming Damnation appearance, but they proved harder to pin down than initially thought. We eventually tracked them down to China, and gave them a good probing.
First off, if you could describe your sound and give a little background to the band for the Damnation-goers who may not have heard you before?
Sure! Well i think “Orchestral Groove Metal” ticks all the boxes. We like to tune low, write catchy grooves and heap a bunch of epic orchestration over it! This all began as an experiment 4 years ago in a bedroom, and has since turned into full live touring band!
Congratulations for ‘II’, which you released earlier this year, how do you feel your sound has progressed since your acclaimed debut ‘I’? What have the reactions to the album been so far?
Thanks! Well we feel II is alot more focused than I. I was just a collection of riffs here and there which just about managed to work as a cohesive whole. But with II we really dug into what Orchestral Groove meant to us, and tried to really nail down a style of our own. We realize we take influence from many genres and bands, but we feel II is definatly its own beast! The reactions have been fantastic were pleased to say. Most have commented on the progression from the first album in a very positive way so were super stoked about the press surrounding II.
Your musical style is very progressive and hard to pin down, you even asked the fans to describe it for you, but as individuals do you have similar tastes? How does this affect the writing process?
Yes we all have similar tastes! We are all of course huge fans of metal but we listen to a wide range of music between us from classical, funk, pop, fusion, soul etc. Just about anything really! We try to take influence from everything we listen to. Good music is good music in our opinion.
The video for Reform: Part III is essentially a short film, mixing a coherent storyline with clips of you playing the song; you’ve also mentioned in the past that film scores have had some influence on your music. How important is this cinematic element to the band, and what film scores/films/directors etc. do you feel have influenced you the most?
The cinematic element is very important to us. Just as important as the riffs! The orchestral elements are as much a part of the music as the guitars/drums etc. Reform Pt. III doesn’t necessarily accompany the video in the sense that it’s a soundtrack, but it does provide a visual representation of the violence and brutality in the music. In terms of influences, some of our favorite film composers include James Horner (Aliens), John Williams (Jurrassic Park), Hanz Zimmer (Inception) and Vangelis (Blade Runner).
What can people expect from a Xerath live show? What do you think will make you stand out at Damnation?
Our live shows definitely have a lot of energy. We try to get everyone watching us banging their heads and having a good time! Thats why along with the orchestration weve made sure to include plenty of (we hope) badass riffs and cool grooves that you can certainly move around too! I think the epic backing tracks combined with the crushing heaviness will make us stand our this year!
How does it feel to be playing Damnation Festival this year?
Great! Its a festival thats been on our list for a long long time so were hugely proud to be part of it :)
Who are you looking forward to seeing?
Shining, The Dev, Decapitated and Ulver for sure!
What is it about Damnation, do you think, that attracts such a large audience and rich selection of bands?
I think metal fans these days are very open minded and crave a diverse selection of bands to see at festivals. Damnation always puts on an eclectic range of bands so no wonder its a successful show!
What can we expect from Xerath in the future? Is another album already underway?
Yes were always writing but for now we are concentrating on bringing II out on the road. As i write this im sat in a hotel in Shanghai, China so make no mistake, we will be taking this album everywhere!