INTERVIEW: William and Omid of BATTLETORN (part 2)
Well, here we are with the second part of the Battletorn interview. Again, this was a Battletorn interview that was done a while back by their friend Mary and submitted to Maximumrocknroll.... who, for some reason or another, rejected it. Rather than posting some more pictures with this interview, I'll throw up some of the artwork and flyers that have accompanied Battletorn on their journey thus far. In the meantime, there's two related things I should take the time to mention. First of all: Battletorn's Japanese tour is imminent. They were hooked up by the rather awesome japanese band MGT and are playing some shows with them and a host of other great bands. Get a load of this itinerary:
March 15 Sendai @ Birdland w/ Marubullmen
March 16 Tokyo @ Wall w/ MGT, Slight Slappers, Vivisick, No Value, Life
March 20 Osaka @ Pipe 69 w/ MGT, Sk8niks, Completed Exposition, Tone Deaf
March 21 Kochi @ Chaotic Noise w/ Marubullmen
March 22 Nagoya @ Imaike Huck Finn w/ Marubullmen, Ada Max, NK6, Analizer
March 23 Tokyo @ Nakano Moon Step w/ Marubullmen, Crucial Section, Abigail, Fastkill, Mad Maniax
Crucial Section? NK6? Vivisick? The Slight Slappers? Not bad, huh? Battletorn just released a split tour 7" with MGT with awesome songs by both bands. It's limited to 200 copies and will be hard to track down if you're not in Japan (you might have some luck if you contact the band themselves via their own website...
But, if you you missed out on the Terminal Dawn LP, you can now get it on CD. Limited to 500 copies (again) and includes a remixed and remastered version of the Burn Fast 7" on it as well. Enough news, here's the interview.
Mary: And now you're on a label based out of New York, and…Canada?
Omid: Yeah, Dan just went up to Canada. He put out The Misguided, Major Conflict, all these old NYHC bands. One of the guys in Major Conflict is putting out that movie, American Hardcore. [note: actually, it's "A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints" and has no relation to American Hardcore, but did do quite well on the indie film circuit] It's a big indie film right now. I haven't seen it.
Mary: What is a "true" Battletorn fan like?
William: She likes to buy me drinks, she likes to party…she likes to fool around a lot (laughter)
Omid: I don't think there's any women who like our band, except for you, or maybe a handful of women we were sharing intimacies with who would tolerate our noise, and then they learned to hate us (laughter). I think it's just dudes. The guy that likes fast music and likes to have a good time and who's not worried about it. Not worried about what his hair looks like and not worried about if he's got enough coke to get through the night, he's just raging on his own. Having fun. That's the people that I like. There's usually one of those people there. One. And that's who we have fun to play with and hang out with after the show and talk about metal with. The other people most of the time are not as interesting.
William: Sometimes there's might be more than one, there might be two. Every night when we were in England there'd be at least two guys that you could see other people were snickering at, and those people would turn out to be the most fun, cool ones. We'd feed off their energy in their audiences. It's always better when people are just standing around and then there are two people going apeshit. And then you're just like, wow! And then you're just like, alright, there's two of them and there's two of us up here, fair.
Mary: Did you feel any flavor of the month vibes when you played with Boris in England?
William: They got a very good reception.
Omid: Someone threw up during their set. We were on a boat, you know. Some other people were asleep. I was worried that the people at that show were not going to be into it, because we're really fast and they're really slow, but they were really cool people. I drove their tour bus over here. The best response was when we played with Wolf Eyes at this sort of rave, this big party. People were partying and it was this huge place. We'd never played any place that big.
Mary: How did you get on those gigs?
Omid: Kamikaze, man. They did everything. They're awesome.
William: They hooked it up! They did a split with…. What was that band they did a split with?
Omid: Army of Flying Robots.
William: Yeah. There's a big grind scene over there. Kids would go nuts as soon as anyone started blasting. That's all you need.
Mary: Was there the same palpable feeling of falseness in England?
William: Yeah, there's plenty of that everywhere. It's nothing that makes our blood boil.
Omid: It doesn't define us or anything. I think that we're attracted to people that are true and attracted to people who are honestly into it and doing they're thing. We like cavemen, people who are primitive and simple and not distracted and put together by what they think is cool.
Mary: Why does the primitive appeal to you guys? What does that have that the ornate lacks, for you?
William: well, for me, my attention span is pretty, uh…well, I did lots of drugs over the years and now when I listen to some music like that, it just doesn't do it for me. I can't tell one song from the other after awhile. It's like ok, here's a lead, oh wait, here's another lead, yeah, hmm. It's fun to watch people do live, seeing bands shredding and stuff is great, but if I'm just listening to a record or something, it's like, all I can think about is that they're in the studio like "Oh I messed up. Oh I messed up. Can we do that over? I messed up." And the engineer rolls it back until they get it right, fixes it in ProTools… when I hear something that sounds like they just recorded it in their basement, and it's just them playing by themselves, it doesn't matter about the mix because there's no need for production to hear the nuances and subtleties because they're just banging it out.
Omid: Hey, that answer was longer than our set! That was amazing, that's the longest thing I've ever heard William say! I'm in the same boat as William. I stopped doing drugs a long time ago but I'll be the first to tell you that it doesn't matter if you stop doing them, because a lot of the effects don't go away. I'm still buzzing from those Grateful Dead shows. It was a good time but my attention span is null, I've just been to so many shows where the first ten minutes is awesome, and then you're just like, fuck! Why do they keep going? What is their point? And I also liken it to wanting to punch somebody with your bare fist, to pummel them and walk away or do you want to put on the gloves, and slowly beat them down over like 45 minute period? We just want to rock 'n' roll. Fast and ugly, pretty much. I'm limited, musically, I can't play leads. So that's not gonna happen.
William: Our songs are so short that if we had long ones, if we did more of the same, then I think it would lose something. You just keep repeating riffs after awhile, it lacks the punch.
Omid: The Dwarves "Blood Guts and Pussy". Best album of that era. There was a lot of great hardcore bands with fast short songs, but I mean, whoever put out a 12 minute album before them? Pretty cool.
Mary: Who are the bands that you've seen lately that have been punching and running, straight through the bullshit?
Omid: We like Watchmaker! We're excited to be playing with them. I mean, just watching Brian's fucking eyes pop out of his skull you can watch that for more than 10 minutes. Not every band sucks after 10 minutes, but it takes some talent. Obviously we don't have that, but a band like Slayer can play. Black Sabbath, Motorhead. They can play longer but there's a lot of bands out there that don't have talent and don't write songs like Slayer does, but they'll play for just as long as Slayer. And it's just fucking boring. We don't see much that really knock us out anymore. Maiden was cool but they played their older albums.
William: I liked Kamikaze. Who else? I can't remember!
Omid: We like local bands, we like Valient Thorr, we like Prowler, Triac are good because they grind but they don't play for too long and Blake is a good front man who can keep your attention for more than 5 minutes.
Mary: What were the circumstances that lead to the new lineup?
Omid: Let's tread lightly on this one, but I guess I'll answer since I basically spearheaded that. It basically came down to personality, that's all, we were in different places. I'm 32 and I wasn't into the lifestyle that was coming in with our old singer. Obviously, that doesn't define her and I don't think she's going to be into that for her whole life, but what she is right now was incompatible with what we want, and it was too difficult to balance it. We just couldn't be in a band together anymore.
William: After awhile, we'd have a show, the three of us would show up, we'd play but we wouldn't hang out, we'd get on stage and play and when it was over we'd all split. You could tell this isn't healthy for a band that hasn't been together for too long.
Omid: When you're touring, you have to be able to get along together. The first show where we played as a two piece, it wasn't pretty, but essentially it just came together and was sort of organic. We've got to take some leaps of faith and go out there and if it doesn't work out or if it sucks or you lose some money than, fuck it, at least you tried. I recognize opportunities because I've missed so many of them. I remember [back in the days of Enemy Soil] getting asked to go to Japan with Corrupted, and at the time Richard wasn't the manager type, and he didn't book it and I didn't book it so we didn't go. End of story. It takes somebody to do the work and go out and get it done, now that it's just the two of us and we're going out to do it, for whatever it's worth.
Omid: We agreed to never play any of the three-piece songs again. I had thought about having another singer but in the end it was like fuck it, that would just be someone else, someone who wants something, who wants to have a say that we're not going to agree with, so we were like, why bother? It just worked.
William: It was easier to strip down, It was easier to do that then to build up again.
Omid: It was like taking off your pants and just walking around in your underwear. Feels kinda loose. You can feel the breeze.
Mary: When you're going out to do it, what are your goals?
Omid: Have a good time all the time.
William: That, and we're trying to do one more LP.
Omid: I like William and I like playing music with him. It's what I want to be doing and I know I'm doing the right thing. We have fun! We go out and we play live fast music, and some people dig it and some people hate it.
William: We write three songs and practice, and then we go home and figure out what riffs have been subliminally ripped off our favorite records.
Mary: With what conscious changes did you approach the new Battletorn?
William: I don't know if it was conscious, but it was unavoidable. The lyrics are very different now.
Omid: There's not as many big words. Because we're writing them and we're dummies and we didn't go to art school.
William: Well, I went to art school, but I still didn't know what some of those words meant.
Omid: I write a good portion of the lyrics and now William does too. I've got a ton of shit in my head. I have trouble remembering it, though. I'll play a riff and William will be like, that sounds cool, and I'll be all fuck! Hum it back to me, I can't remember it! Or I'll have to call my cell phone in the middle of the street or something and sing it to my voicemail. But there's always this stream of shit in my head, always riffs.
Mary: What are you proudest of now?
Omid: I just feel like we're doing it.
Mary: What do you mean by "it"?
Omid: We'll get on the Chinatown bus and come to Boston, you know? Just to play for 10 minutes. We're just fucking playing music and having fun, and doing it. That's what "it" is, to me. We're not gonna be on the cover of Vice magazine but fuck it.
William: In three years we did three tours, stuff that I never thought I was gonna do in any of the other bands I was in, more stuff than I've ever done in any other band. We did a UK tour, a Southern tour, a free LP someone paid for us to record…
Mary: Do you think it would be fair to say that you guys stripped yourselves of the things that were leading you in the wrong direction?
Omid: Yeah, that sounds about right. That's a good way of putting it. There were too many distractions, things pushing us in the wrong direction. We don't put as much thought into our direction as maybe we should, but they're our ideas and we want to do it our way.