Saturday, June 4, 2011

Ironhide: Interview with Lochlan Watt

For whatever reasons there’s a common sentiment in music that somehow metal is derivative of classical and orchestral compositions. In a broad sense this could considered true – after all, all music is derivative of historical forms – but for some reason the tempo shifts and, at times, over-blown theatrics of metal draw parallels with Wagner or Bach or whomever.

Though classically trained, Lochlan Watt of Brisbane metal outfit Ironhide doesn’t necessarily adhere to these comparisons. For Watt the attraction to the heavier forms of contemporary music was born less from compatibility of application and more out of frustrations with the modern world. “It’s just the outlet I guess,” he says. “Metal’s for me basically. I started getting into metal when I started questioning the world around me and I decided to learn a bit more about how life actually works. My introduction into metal coincided with finding frustration in life and even from a musical point of view; I had classical training so technical music has always held my attention. I get bored of simple song structures, not many other genres really give me that same kick.

“Some people will say that metal is really similar to classical music, I don’t think so. It’s not that similar really, although with Ironhide, you could look at it in that way in that our guitar player [Shaun Burke] is pretty much the composer. He writes it all, demos it all; I guess the only real difference is that when we get into a jam room with it as a group we’ll make a few changes and suggestions.”

In terms of defining Ironhide’s sound, the words blistering, brutal and absolute spring to mind. In metal circles it’s not that simple. With so many sets and sub-sets existing within the same musical realm it can be difficult to differentiate styles without forcing parameters of sound or listing band comparisons. This may all seem like unnecessary pigeonholing but the genre of ‘heavy metal’ is so vast these days that one man’s metal can be another’s nursery rhyme. “In terms of where Ironhide fits into everything, we’re in a bit of a no-man’s land I think,” continues Watt. “If you had to find a succinct term to define our band then metalcore would probably make sense but I don’t think we sound like a typical metalcore band. We’ve been describing our sound as technical metal with punk vibes and post-metal influences. There’s a bit of sludge in there and doom as well. It’s definitely technical and definitely heavy, but definitely not death metal and it’s too metal to be hardcore so I’m not sure... we just float around. Some of the younger bands coming up, we feel a bit of a musical connection to, like The Idols, Acid Snake and Capeweather – bands that have elements of metal and hardcore and punk or whatever without having to be like a big scary metal dude.”

The loss of the Arthouse in Melbourne and the impending doom facing Brisbane’s bastion of heavy music Rosie’s is flagging tough times for metal in Australia. Thankfully the (albeit brief) resurgence of interest in ‘90s sludge and doom bands along with the ascent of cross-genre festivals like Soundwave and more specialist festivals such as Doomsday are allowing a new cohort of metal fans access to the healthy outlet that the music allows. “We’re about to lose Rosie’s, which is the main metal venue up here,” Watt continues. “Most of the shows are supposed to be moving to the Jubilee Hotel, but it’ll be interesting to see what happens over the next few months, it’s a bit of a turning point in terms of Brisbane metal. I don’t know what the fuck I’d do if it wasn’t for metal and heavy music. I’d have to find another outlet – maybe I’d be in jail. There’s nothing else quite like it to give you that release.”

Samson McDougall

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