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  INTERVIEW WITH STEVE CLIFFORD OF WRETCHED SOUL

Johnny Main

johnny main

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wretched soul

The heavier side of the Metal scene may not be heard or seen much on radio and television in the UK, but there are still a large number of highly talented bands out there whose work should be reaching a wider audience.

In an attempt to try and re-dress the balance, we here at MetalTalk Towers have been listening to the very best in Death and Thrash bands and it was my pleasure to listen to the debut album from Canterbury based quartet, Wretched Soul (reviewed here).

I recently had the chance to sit down with Wretched Soul guitarist Steve Clifford for a quick chat to try and find out a bit more about the band, what their plans are for the rest of 2013 and, of course, to get the low down on their brand new album, 'Veronica'.

Article continues below...

 
 




The first thing I ask Clifford was to tell me what the band have achieved since their inception in late 2008.

"Perhaps our biggest achievement so far has been performing at Bloodstock in 2012 alongside more established acts like Machine Head, Testament, Watain, Dimmu Borgir, Evile and Viking Skull. Since then we have signed a deal with Dark Lord Records through which we've released our debut album, 'Veronica', and more recently we've also been privileged to share stages with the likes of Orange Goblin, Savage Messiah, Brutal Truth and Extreme Noise Terror."

Talking of the band's appearance at Bloodstock, Steve says: "It felt absolutely electric to walk out on that stage and see the place rammed nearly all the way to the back, (and) then it filled up even more after our first couple of songs – aided, I guess, a bit by the fact that Crowbar had just finished and the next band on (Mayhem) hadn't started their set yet, so we were literally the only band playing at that point in time! There was a huge pit during our last song too", he says with obvious pride, "and as we left the stage, the capacity-crowd were chanting our name over and over - that's a moment that I'll never forget."

After Bloodstock, it was obvious the band were building on their existing fan base, as Steve explained to me: "We knew that we needed to work hard and keep the momentum going after Bloodstock if we wanted to be eligible to play there again in the future, and I think that we've achieved this, because I actually did twice as many press interviews at Bloodstock 2013 than I did in 2012, so the interest level in the band has definitely increased through playing there."

wretched soul

When asked about the bands musical influences, Clifford is quite forthright in explaining that "there's no bite-sized, list-based or straightforward answer to this question" before explaining further saying "(our) musical influences are everything that we love about Metal be it Death, Thrash, Black, Doom or traditional Heavy Metal. There are literally dozens of bands (who) are all equally important in shaping our sound so if you imagine that you can hear it in our music then it's probably an influence.

"We've never wanted to exclude certain influences from our song writing just to satisfy a generic convention. The idea was to throw away that particular rule-book and try to develop something of our own from everything that we listen to and like, whilst still remaining emphatically Metal."

When asked about who writes what in the band when it comes to song writing, Steve explains: "Usually I'll come up with (the) riffs and Andy (brother and drummer, Andy Clifford) then helps me to piece them together. Andy occasionally adds a riff or two of his own, but we'll work out the basic song-structure together before presenting it to Luke (Mayell – Bass) and Chris (Simmons – vocalist), just to get their thoughts and let them fit their own parts into the song.

"Once Chris has worked out what the vocal patterns and melodies are, I'll go back and write lyrics to fit over the top of what he's doing and the song gets finished that way.

"As with our musical influences, our lyrical inspiration is quite broad. We take inspiration from tons of different historical and literary sources and also from daily life and our own experiences of the world. I'll always try to find lyrical themes that resonate with something in real-life. Thematically, I guess 'Veronica' explores different aspects of human suffering and endurance - from agony and grief (in 'Dash To Destruction' and the title track) to religious persecution and political subjugation ('Black Wings Of Treachery' and 'The Unmaking'). The endurance aspect is manifested in the search for truth, whether it is the uncovering of liars which is referenced in 'Wounded Illusion' or the quest for inner strength, which is what 'Summon The Hunter' is about.

wretched soul

"It's important that the lyrics are grounded in something emotional and/or real, and not just telling stories but looking at history and mythology in a way that says something valid about the present. This is part of the lyrical tradition of great bands like Primordial (an Extreme Metal band from Ireland), who always ensure that their songs and albums have something meaningful and intelligent to say about the world around them. We are inspired by bands who strive to stir up subjects that matter and we try to do the same, rather than being just a regular "beer band" who'll say "bang your head" over and over in lieu of anything valid or interesting."

Moving directly onto their debut album, 'Veronica', I ask Steve how it feels to finally have an album out in shops? "It's gratifying and a huge relief to finally have it out there and available for people to hear. Seeing it in the CD racks next to Iron Maiden albums in HMV was an absolute head-trip for me personally!" he adds with obvious pride.

The album was produced by Chris Tsangarides (who has previously worked with high profile artists like Judas Priest, Bruce Dickinson, Gary Moore and Thin Lizzy), so I ask Steve how they managed to get him behind the desk: "Well, I guess it all started from a conscious desire to steer away from the 'modern', and by that I mean digitised, Metal sound and more towards something a bit more earthy and organic-sounding. As a band, we felt that this album needed to sound real - a real drum sound with a real guitar sound and audible bass and importantly to us, without the auto-tuned vocals!"

"I was trying to figure out a way to achieve that 'classic' feel and realised that we'd probably need to find someone who has worked on those classic albums. Then, whilst watching the 'Anvil: The Story Of Anvil' film, I noticed that Chris had a studio in Kent, (and) it just blew my mind to learn that a producer of Chris' calibre was operating on our very doorstep!

"I contacted Chris' management who passed on our demos and then he set up a meeting with us. We went along and hung out at his studio, The Ecology Rooms, for a couple of days and jammed on the rest of the songs for him - Chris liked what he was hearing, and agreed to produce our record.

"There weren't really any issues during the recording but I think we are possibly the most extreme band that Chris has ever worked with, so it took a bit of adjustment from him with the more guttural vocals and the piercing screams and whatnot, but I think he (Tsangarides) relished the challenge of something a bit different. We mixed and sequenced the album with the vinyl format in mind, making sure that the sound had some proper depth and atmosphere to it. This more organic approach is something that you won't often find on 'modern' metal albums, which tend to be over-digitised and rather sterile these days. We're proud of the fact that “Veronica” sounds like a real band playing real songs recorded by a real producer - because that's exactly what it is."

I ask Steve if there are any stories (good or bad) about the recording of the album? "Well, we definitely had our own moments of crazy, booze-fuelled silliness because it's quite isolated up there, but our stories pale in comparison to some of classic antics that Chris shared with us, like how he and Tony Iommi developed a penchant for setting surfaces (and each other) on fire – a game which ended in hospitalisation and skin-grafted hind-quarters, or how Chris and (Exodus guitarist) Gary Holt prank-called a zoo and attempted to order the tenderest primates to make "Monkey Soup" much to the proprietor's confusion and dismay. The phone call was even recorded and used on the Exodus 'Force Of Habit' album!

wretched soul

"Chris kept us entertained for hours with hundreds of cool stories from his past, from tales of ice-cream and archery fights with Judas Priest to cat-food baguettes being fed to some unsuspecting Black Sabbath roadies! I think he'll be including all of the best anecdotes in his forthcoming autobiography, and who knows, he may even make mention of Wretched Soul in there too!"

Bringing the conversation back to the present, I ask Steve about Wretched Soul's touring plans to support the 'Veronica' release: "We're touring the UK in mid-November with upcoming Finnish Death Metal band, Re-Armed, which we're all looking forward to. We were originally scheduled to play some other dates in the UK including one in Glasgow, but unfortunately we were forced to cancel this gig due to a double-booking with an industrial metal band from Minneapolis, American Headcharge.

"We'd like to apologise to all of our Scottish friends who were looking forward to seeing us, and we'll almost certainly be organising a show there in 2014 – so watch this space! Ideally, we'd also like to make it over to Ireland next year too, because 'Veronica' has received some awesome reviews from numerous fanzines and websites there so it'd be great to follow that critical success up with some live shows. In the gig diary for next year, though, we're already booked to play the Hostile Terrortory Festival in Norway next year and have UK shows with (American Death Metal band) Massacre and the legendary Cradle of Filth lined up for 2014 too."

For someone like myself who has yet to experience the Wretched Soul live show, I ask Steve what someone coming to one of their shows can expect? "Some vital, forward-thinking, modern day British Heavy Metal with an impassioned stage-show to match", is his short and to the point answer, but with plenty of shows in the pipeline for 2014, I look forward to seeing the band first hand next year.

Talking of the future, I ask if the band have any plans/timescales in place for album number two to which Steve tells me: "No, not really, we've only just begun putting a few new song ideas together. Our priority for the next year is to promote 'Veronica' as much as possible through as much touring and as many festival shows as we possibly can. I'll go out on a limb and say that if all goes well, and the finances are there, then we'd hope to be recording sometime towards the end of 2014/early 2015."

Bringing the chat towards its inevitable end, I ask Steve what, realistically, he wants the band to achieve: "Realistically, the Music Industry is on its knees - a raped and dying whore turned blind and riddled with disease, but as long as the band can keep working and moving forward whilst making chartable progress then we're happy.

"In the next year or so we'll be looking to play many more shows in Europe and possibly even a European tour with Re-Armed, but we'll continue to play live as much as we physically can and get our music heard by as many people as possible. We have no greater aspirations than to tour this album enough to be able to make a second one but we're taking things one small step at a time. Some more European festival bookings would be fantastic too, and (Scotland's only Rock and Metal Festival) Les-Fest too, if we get the chance!

"I first stumbled upon the Les Fest website back in 2012 when searching for UK festivals, it looked really impressive and this year even more so. I've heard great things about it from the Virus and Bull-Riff Stampede guys, so it's definitely a festival that we'd love to be a part of if we get the chance. As for which European festivals that we'd like to play; any that'll have us really!

Like I said, we're appearing at the Hostile Terrortory in January alongside bands like Taake, King of Asgard, Abbath's Bombers and Koldbrann, (but) we'd love to do other festivals in Scandinavia like Inferno, Sweden Rock, Wacken, Bang Your Head, Graspop, and Hellfest, if we get the chance."

Bringing him back to UK Festivals, Steve's quite keen on a return to Bloodstock: "It is so unique because it's basically the UK's answer to all these great annual European Summer festivals. With Bloodstock, you get all the quality of Wacken but at a quarter of the size, making for a very special atmosphere indeed. Walking into that arena always feels like coming home to me, (and) I know the other guys in Wretched Soul share this same feeling with regard to Bloodstock."

Thanks to Steve Clifford for his time, and to Gary Levermore for arranging the interview.

You can catch Wretched Soul live here:
Saturday 16th November - Gasworks, Bradford (with Re-Armed)
Sunday 17th November - Surya, London (with Re-Armed, Karybdis, Scutum Cruz and more...)
Monday 18th November - Fuel Rock Club, Cardiff (with Re-Armed)
Tuesday 19th November - The Unicorn, London (with Re-Armed)
Wednesday 20th November - B2, Norwich (with Re-Armed)
Thursday 21st November - Scruffy Murphy's, Birmingham (with Re-Armed)
Friday 22nd November - Shades Nightclub, Bridlington (with Re-Armed, Teras, Deformation of Man and more...)
Saturday 23rd November - South Sea Live, Sheffield (with Re-Armed)
Sunday 1st December - Electric Ballroom/Underworld/Jazz Cafe/Black Heart Camden, London (with Iniquity, Katalepsy, Unfathomable Ruination and more...)
Friday 6th December - The Ivy Leaf, Sheerness (with Neonhalo, Impuritas and Then the Wave Came)
Thursday 23rd January - Saturday 25th January - Hostile Terrortory Festival 2014 Stavanger, Norway (with Bombers, King of Asgard, Koldbrann and more...)
Tuesday 25th February - The Borderline, London (with Savage Messiah)
Friday 2nd May - Sunday 4th May - Rad Fest 2014, Powys (with Breed 77, Massacre, Cancer and more...)
Friday 15th August - Sunday 17th August - Alt Fest 2014, Kettering

Wretched Soul are:
Chris Simmons - Vocals
Steve Clifford - Guitar
Luke Mayell - Bass
Andy Clifford - Drums

Online:
Official Website: http://www.wretchedsoul.net
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/wretchedsouluk


15.11.2013






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metal church VOCALIST RONNY MUNROE QUITS METAL CHURCH
The band posted a statement on their official Facebook page assuring fans that the band is alive and well and that "big announcements" are expected soon...

bloodbath BLOODBATH STREAM FIRST NEW TRACK FEATURING NICK HOLMES AND REVEAL ALBUM TRACKLISTING
Sweden's masters of horror Bloodbath are set to release their fourth album of supreme death Metal, 'Grand Morbid Funeral', on 17th November 2014...

ac/dc AC/DC ANNOUNCE NEW ALBUM, 'ROCK OR BUST', AND CONFIRM DEPARTURE OF MALCOLM YOUNG
AC/DC have announced details of their 17th studio album, their first for six years and their first ever not to feature Malcolm...

lordi LORDI RELEASE FIRST SINGLE FROM NEW ALBUM 'SCARE FORCE ONE'
Tour dates to follow for the Finnish sensations. "The overall sound of the band is more modern this time, and we've tried out some new tricks here and there..."

bloodstock CANNIBAL CORPSE WILL PLAY AN EXCLUSIVE UK SHOW AT BLOODSTOCK 2015
Cannibal Corpse, Sepultura and Ihsahn join the line-up that also includes Within Temptation and Opeth...

helix HELIX ANNOUNCE TOUR OF EUROPE
This will be the first Euro tour for Helix since heading out with Kiss and Ian Gillan in the 1980s...

threshold THRESHOLD DISCUSS HOW THEY FOUND THE NEW ALBUM ARTWORK ON THE INTERNET
Damian Wilson and Richard West discuss Threshold's new album 'For The Journey', out today...

quireboys THE QUIREBOYS RELEASE 'THIS IS ROCK N ROLL II' IN ADVANCE OF NOVEMBER TOUR
Re-packaged, re-styled and with 4 bonus tracks, the rare 2001 classic from The Quireboys will be available on 23rd October...

gwar GWAR REVEAL TWO NEW MEMBERS - BLÓTHAR AND VULVATRON
Meet the latest warriors to don the latex and styrofoam and join the intergalactic crew for Gwar's "Eternal" tour...

fear factory FEAR FACTORY SIGN TO NUCLEAR BLAST ENTERTAINMENT
The journey continues for one of the groundbreaking Metal bands of our time, with new material to be released in 2015...

tank TANK BEGIN WORK ON NEW ALBUM; BAND CONFIRMED FOR BANG YOUR HEAD
The band are scheduled to enter the studio in November with a release planned for early February...

blitzallica DIAMOND HEAD TO HEADLINE COUNTY DURHAM'S BLITZALLICA IN OCTOBER
Plus legendary Metal party band Dumpy's Rusty Nuts and old favorites Holosade who are reforming especially for this headbanging estravaganza...

saille SAILLE COMMENT ON FORTHCOMING THIRD ALBUM
"'Eldritch' differs quite a bit from our two previous albums," keyboardist Dries Gaerdelen says...

winger WINGER RELEASE VIDEO FOR 'BETTER DAYS COMIN'
Winger have released a new music video - the title track from their Billboard chart breaking album...

voodoo six VOODOO SIX ANNOUNCE SIX HEADLINE SHOWS IN EUROPE
This Autumn, Voodoo Six will play six headline shows in Germany, Belgium, and The Netherlands...

michael schenker MICHAEL SCHENKER ANNOUNCES DECEMBER UK TOUR
Schenker will perform songs from the new album, which features the new single, 'Lord Of The Lost And Lonely' plus all the classics...

johnny thunders LOOKING FOR JOHNNY: THE LEGEND OF JOHNNY THUNDERS MOVIE TO BE RELEASED NEXT MONTH
When Johnny Thunders died in New Orleans on April 23rd 1991, he left behind a mystery...

metallica METALLICA TO RELEASE 27 LIVE ALBUMS BEFORE THE END OF THE YEAR AND APPEAR IN THE GUINNESS BOOK OF RECORDS
To commemorate the anniversary of the LiveMetallica.com site, the band are offering CDs and LPs of every gig they played in 2014...

kobra and the lotus KOBRA AND THE LOTUS AND THE TREATMENT ANNOUNCE UK TOURS
Kobra And The Lotus will be kicking off their Headline Tour on 24th September in support of their latest record 'High Priestess'...

rival sons RIVAL SONS RETURN TO UK FOR DECEMBER TOUR
The band appear on Letterman in the US on October 9th, and will have an exciting UK TV appearance to announce soon...

linkin park LINKIN PARK PLAY TWO NIGHTS AT LONDON'S 02 ARENA IN NOVEMBER
Following their exhilarating headline sets at the European summer festivals, Linkin Park return for their own headline tour in November...

evil scraecrow AT LAST! A NEW VIDEO FROM EVIL SCARECROW
"It's an emotional thing for us to watch back. We hope that translates to everyone that watches it too!"

sabctuary SANCTUARY POSTS LYRIC VIDEO FOR 'EXITIUM (ANTHEM OF THE LIVING)'
Sanctuary continue that legacy that they started decades ago, delivering yet another fresh take on "classic-sounding" Metal...

electric mary ELECTRIC MARY ANNOUNCE MINI ALBUM AND UK TOUR
Australian five piece Electric Mary are back to spread Rock n' Roll's genuine flavour to Europe...

accept ACCEPT REVEAL LIVE CLIP OF 'PANDEMIC' FILMED IN FRONT OF 750,000 PEOPLE AT WOODSTOCK FESTIVAL 2014
UK fans can catch the band live at The Forum in London on the 27th November 2014...

hornet HORNET ANNOUNCE NEW EP AND SINGLE
"We really wanted to just expand the sound we already had by incorporating more of our influences to make our sound more modern and diverse..."

jimmy barnes JIMMY BARNES ANNOUNCES NEW 30th ANNIVERSARY ALBUM 'HINDSIGHT'
2014 marks the 30th anniversary of Jimmy Barnes' debut as Scottish born Australian rock singer-songwriter...

dragonforce DRAGONFORCE SUPPORTS ANNOUNCED FOR FORTHCOMING TOUR
London based hard rockers Neonfly will support in the UK mainland, with Northern Irish Metalheads Conjuring Fate doing the honours at the Belfast and Dublin shows...

within temptation WITHIN TEMPTATION TO HEADLINE BLOODSTOCK 2015
Within Temptation appear as a UK exclusive. Prog Metal titans Opeth will also appear on the bill...

emigrate EMIGRATE CONFIRM NEW ALBUM FOR UK RELEASE VIA SPINEFARM RECORDS
'Silent So Long' is the second album from the band formed by Rammstein's Richard Kruspe...

highway to hell WINNERS OF HIGHWAY TO HELL 5 ANNOUNCED
Texas Flood are the overall winners from an outstanding field, winning a contract and an appearance at Hard Rock Hell...

grim reaper THE LEGENDARY GRIM REAPER RETURN TO LONDON
Get down to the Boston Music Room on 27th September for Grim Reaper with Amulet and Dark Forest...

quireboys THE QUIREBOYS ANNOUNCE UK TOUR FOR NOVEMBER 2014
The 30th anniversary celebrations continue with a world tour including a trip to North America and a nine date UK leg...

eric martin MR. BIG SINGER ANNOUNCES UK SOLO ACOUSTIC TOUR
Eric Martin will play nine unplugged dates in December 2014 with a mix of solo and Mr Big material...

absolva ABSOLVA ANNOUNCE NEW BASSIST
British classic Metallers Absolva are delighted to announce the appointment of new bassist Karl Schramm...

manowar MANOWAR ANNOUNCE NEW ALBUM PLANS AND UPDATED TOURING SCHEDULE
Manowar will headline Loud Park Festival in Tokyo on October 18th 2014 and will then resume the 'Kings Of Metal MMXIV' World Tour...

skyscraper SKYSCRAPER RELEASE VIDEO FOR 'MONDAY MORNING'
This dynamic band has been taking critics by storm with their inimitable brand of melodic hard rock...

the more i see THE MORE I SEE ANNOUNCE OCT/NOV TOUR WITH SAVAGE MESSIAH AND BULL RIFF STAMPEDE
Featuring world renowned guitarist Gizz Butt, the band always deliver incredible live shows that combine passion, energy and breathtaking musicianship...

devin townsend DEVIN TOWNSEND REVEALS Z DETAILS AND ANNOUNCES SPECIAL ROYAL ALBERT HALL PERFORMANCE
Devin Townsend is extremely pleased to announce the release of long-awaited new double-album...

blastfest AT THE GATES, DARK FUNERAL, ROTTING CHRIST AND MORE ANNOUNCED FOR BLASTFEST 2015
Bergen, Norway, former home of the legendary Hole In The Sky Festival and considered thee black metal capital of the world...

exodus EXODUS REVEAL SPECIAL GUESTS ON NEW ALBUM 'BLOOD IN, BLOOD OUT'
Bay Area thrash Metal provocateurs Exodus proudly announce the special guests appearing on their latest showcase of unrefined rage...

panzer PANZER STREAMING LYRIC VIDEO FOR 'THE LAST MAN ON EARTH'
Brazilian thrash/stoner act Panzer have just released a new lyric video on for the second track of the album 'Honor'...

bush BUSH ANNOUNCE OCTOBER 20th RELEASE FOR 'MAN ON THE RUN'
Multi-platinum alt-rock band Bush have announced an October 20th release date for their highly anticipated new album...

absolva ABSOLVA RELEASE VIDEO FOR 'LIVE FOR THE FIGHT'
The video features Luke Appleton (Iced Earth) who is playing bass for the band on the forthcoming European Tour...

giants of rock GIANTS OF ROCK FESTIVAL: FIRST BANDS ANNOUNCED
The reformed Family and pomp rockers Magnum will headline the event...

weapon uk ESTRELLA TO SUPPORT GILBY CLARKE ON TOUR AND ANNOUNCE A NEW SINGLE
The band are currently gearing up for a thirteen date trek with Clarke that includes dates in Wakefield, London and Edinburgh...

weapon uk WEAPON UK ANNOUNCE TOUR DATES FOR NOVEMBER
Weapon UK have tour dates confirmed in support of their critically acclaimed album 'Rising From The Ashes'...

amulet AMULET DEBUT ALBUM 'THE FIRST' RELEASED IN SEPTEMBER: FIRST TRACK NOW ONLINE
The album track 'Mark Of Evil' has just been uploaded to Soundcloud. Raise your fists and bang your heads on this one...

michael schenker MICHAEL SCHENKER'S GUITARS STOLEN FROM GERMAN RECORDING STUDIO
German police are examining evidence and the studio for fingerprints and DNA evidence to help catch the criminals...

jimi jamison JIMI JAMISON OF SURVIVOR PASSES AWAY AGED 63
Jimi Jamison, lead singer of Survivor, very sadly passed away on Sunday night...

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