“ONSLAUGHT” INTERVIEW by Christina Thompson
After your U.K. and Ireland tour celebrating the 30th anniversary of your second album, THE FORCE, which became such an influential release for the Thrash scene. Did the success and subsequent demand from fans surprise you at all? While first recording this opus did you ever think it would become what it is today? What was it like to be considered for the first Thrash Metal band ever to play in Lebanon? Can you tell us about the experience before, during and after and why it did not come to fruition?
Hi Christina / David, how are you doing..? Thank you for the interview, it’s very much appreciated..
We kinda know how the fans feel about ‘The Force’ album so we knew the shows were gonna be very cool. We’ve now actually taken this tour to China, South America, Central America, UK / Europe, Russia, Taiwan, Vietnam, Malaysia and many other wonderful places around the world, the response has been absolutely incredible and the demand just doesn’t stop, it’s insane. We’re now taking the tour to Mexico for 10 shows this week and returning to Europe for a second run in September / October / November which will also include the Balkan countries etc.
We really gotta make a cut off point for these special shows very soon because we have to make a new album..!
No, we never had any idea whatsoever that ‘The Force’ would become so popular when we were making the record. We were obviously very happy with the end result after recording but I never dreamed that 30+ years on we would be performing the album in its entirety..
Ah Lebanon…!! what a place.. we spent 4 days over there and the experience was amazing, unfortunately the show did not happen, the venue was closed down by the local authority 2 hours before the doors were due to open and there was a demand for 10,000$ to allow the show to go ahead, which obviously never happened..
So… we have now rescheduled the Beirut show for September 9th, we’ve been assured there won’t be any problems next time around and the show will definitely go ahead..!!! I can’t wait to go back.
Speaking of touring, what’s next on Onslaught’s horizon? Any other current projects we should know about?
Aside from the upcoming tours we’re making a start on writing a new album, we have tons of ideas in the bank, with all the song titles and album title in place, so now we just need to start putting all the parts of the jigsaw together.
We’re also gonna be re-recording the ‘In Search of Sanity’ album at the same time, we’ve had so many requests over the years from fans wanting to hear Sy Keeler performing the ‘ISOS’ tracks, so that’s exactly what we’re gonna do.. We’re gonna take the tracks back to the early demo stages, with a much heavier and much more raw approach.
Considering you have been rockin’ since 1982, your stage presence and raw energy hasn’t appeared to diminish in the least. What do you do to keep yourselves “fit” talent-wise? Do you practice new techniques? New tunes? Harder tunes? Any voice or even physical exercises?
Thanks, that’s real kind of you to say..!
It’s very important to stay right at the top of our game, our live show is all about the energy and we can’t afford take our foot of the gas one tiny bit.
Our fans deserve the best shows we can deliver 100% of the time.
I can’t say we consciously practice new techniques as such, but we are alway trying to push our own personal boundaries within the Onslaught sound. We always wanna make harder, darker tunes for sure, that’s top of the list when we begin the writing process.
Playing live is the best exercise without a doubt, it really doesn’t take too long to get the muscle memory fully working, I wanna do a small tour before we record the next record because we’re absolutely flying post tour.
Onslaught was together for 9 years (’82-’91), then took a fourteen year hiatus. What have been the biggest obstacles to overcome since your comeback in 2005? What drove you to reform the band and what still drives you today?
We have been very lucky since we came back in 2005, we obviously had a good name and reputation from the early days and that gave us a great platform to build from.
In all honesty we haven’t really encountered any major obstacles over the past 12 years.
Basically it was the fans that brought us back and it’s the fans that keep driving us forward, without them the band counts for nothing..
Iain G.T Davies and Michael Hourihan were the latest additions. Do you feel that the group as a whole is more centered and cohesive now? What did they lend to how you perform today?
Yeah, Mic has been with us for over 6 years now, he’s a truly awesome drummer who has brought a whole new dynamic to the Onslaught sound.
Mic has allowed us to write music that was never possible in the past and he takes the whole live show up to a completely different level.
As a band we’ve been very fortunate to have had some great guitarists with us along the way and Iain is no exception, he was a fan of the band before he joined which has helped massively, he’s fitted in seamlessly from day one and brings a fuck load of energy to the live stage.
I’m really looking forward to writing some cool tunes with Iain over the coming months, i have a real good vibe about it..
What has been the high point for Onslaught so far? Conversely, the low point and what did you take away from it?
Wow, that’s a very very tough question. like I said earlier we’ve been so lucky since we came back and there have been so many highlights it’s really hard to pick one single event.. Wacken, Hellfest, 70,000 Tons, Bang Your Head (3 x), China, South America.. Damn ??? The whole journey has been so amazing and long may it continue.
Low points aren’t so difficult, line up changes are always a real fucking pain in the ass, but we always use it to our advantage. We’ve always managed to raise the bar when we’re forced into a change, turning the negative into a real positive.
When you aren’t working on your music or touring, what are you listening to that moves you? Any new up and coming metal bands that we should be aware of that are now on your radar? What about them draws your attention?
I rarely listen to any new bands as such, there’s not much coming out that greatly excites me any more.
I’m pretty old school in my musical tastes, I still listen to a lot of punk music, ‘Discharge’, the ‘Pistols’ and of course Sabbath, Motorhead, and so on. You can’t beat the classics..!
I’m a bit partial to some of the ‘Rammstein’ stuff and I think ‘Lamb of God’ are pretty cool but it’s mainly old school for me.
Recently, Metalville Records released a tribute album, “Snaggletooth: A Tribute to Lemmy”, where bands covered their favorite songs. Onslaught chose “Bomber”. What did it mean for you collectively to be asked to be a part of this project and why did you choose “Bomber”?
Well ‘Bomber’ is definitely one of best Motorhead tracks ever and it was one song that hadn’t been prominently covered before as far as I’m aware.
We actually recorded our version back in 2011, with ‘Phil Campbell’ (Motorhead) joining us as a guest along with Tom Angelripper from Sodom. We also got Lemmy’s seal of approval, which meant everything to us.!!It was a huge honour to be chosen to appear on the ‘Snaggletooth’ tribute, Lemmy / Motorhead had a huge influence on our career and they really looked after us when we toured together back in 87, that was probably the complete career highlight for me personally.
In a 2014 interview with Metal-Rules.com, Nige Rockett spoke of how he….let’s just say wasn’t overtly fond all the different genre stereotypes (he called it “bullshit”). That being said, if pressed, how would you guys describe your sound?
Haha, and I still hate all the genre / sub genre / sub sub genre nonsense in 2017, it creates too many unnecessary divisions and gets a little too anal and ridiculous, at the end of the day it’s all metal music.
Well if you’re pressing me 🙂 everyone knows we’re a Thrash Metal band with a very dark edge, but we have a far broader audience than that, which is why having so many genres gets frustrating at times because bands get pigeon holed possibly limiting their potential..
To a noob who hasn’t yet “joined the dark[er] side” of metal, what would you suggest they add to their playlist that would give them the richest experience to their introduction that might make them new fans?
From an ‘Onslaught’ perspective I would say listen to the tracks:
Children of the Sand
Chaos is My King
Born for War
From a general perspective:
Slayer – God Hates Us All
Rammstein – Fire Frei
Lamb of God – Fake Messiah
Black Sabbath – Symptom of the Universe
Discharge – State Violence State Control
And finally, how does such a seasoned group such as yourselves balance your music with other obligations in your lives; for example personal time, family, side projects, etc?
It’s really hard because we can really only earn a living from touring and we obviously can’t do that for 12 months of the year..
I love touring but I also really miss being at home, we definitely need teleporters real soon.! haha
Also Me and Jeff have been trying to work on our side project ‘Power Junkies’ for a few years now but we never seem to have the time, Onslaught just gets busier and busier every year, we will get around to it someday because it’s very cool and too good to let go.. watch this space..!
Christina Thompson/MHF MAgazine