Latest release: Triumph and Beyond (Prime Cuts)
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Hale and hearty ale hounds Claim the Throne will hit the bevy trail again in September for their second national tour this year, after storming the country in March with the rowdy Finntroll tribe. This time, the lager louts and ladette will be headlining ten of their own shows, as well as adding a mead-fuelled folk touch to several Bastardfests.
“We’re doing four out of the eight of them: Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne and of course Perth where we’re from,” says guitarist Glenn Dyson, also one of the festivals’ organisers. “There was just Sydney, Melbourne and Perth last year and they were pretty huge… this year they’re going to be even bigger. We’re definitely looking forward to being part of that on the east coast and playing with awesome bands like Blood Duster, Psycroptic and Pod People and heaps of the local bands as well. We’re just itching to get there and do something a little bit different for everyone.”
Free from the time constraints imposed by support band status, Dyson – Dysie to his mates — promises that Claim the Throne will be able to give their crowd a little more of their victory feast metal than on previous tours.
“There might be just a bit more milling, some more funnels on stage, general tomfoolery,” he says with a laugh, “might be a few more jokes on stage between songs. Just showcasing the latest album and giving everyone a chance to see us again and maybe if they didn’t buy something off us last time, maybe they will this time!”
While other bands can tend toward the grim, the dour and the stern, Dyson’s band relishes in bringing a good time. With their songs about ale and mead and feasting, they bring an element of the boisterous banquet and beer hall to the often po-faced world of metal.
“We get up there with a bit of gear on from the medieval times,” Dyson says. “It’s all about the Triumph of winning battle and the Beyond is the celebration and the party and having a few drinks; celebrating the fact that you’re triumphant in battle. We just wanted to have that fun element so it’s all about feasting and being hearty and wenches… all the good things in life!”
No stranger to silliness in his role as frontman for porno-grinders Cuntscrape, Dysie nevertheless acknowledges that metal is essentially staid and angry music. And he’s quick to point out that in spite of their riotous frivolity, Claim the Throne is as serious about their art as any band.
“I like the fact that most metal is pretty serious and people have their points of view that they want to get across,” he says. “That’s all cool. Metal is angry, but not everyone has to be like that. To our advantage, we can get up there and jest a lot and have a lot of fun, and still put on a good show of course. There’s lots of milling and swilling and cheesy moves, just to show that not everyone has to be serious about it. We’re on the lighter side, but we still want to be taken seriously though with the music. We think it’s a good mix of good music and good times on stage.”
Following up Triumph and Beyond has not been the priority for Claim the Throne to this point. Right now they’re concentrating on the upcoming shows, and, in Dysie’s words, “getting as tight as can be and getting the stage-show right so that we can come out there and kick a bit of arse and drink a few beers, and hopefully impress a few people.” The band is looking at 2012 for another album and to get to their prime audience – the blood and ale-soaked fields of Europe.
“Europe is definitely our target market,” Dyson admits. “We’ve definitely got to try and suss out some distribution over there and some representation. We’ve got a little bit of interest from over there at the moment from a couple of places, but they’re keen to see what we come up with next. If we can deliver the good with the next album, hopefully we can get signed to something a little bit bigger located in Europe and get some representation and go tour over there. I’d love to do it. 20 or 30 shows, 15, 20 countries… bit of a dream, I guess. But that’s what we all want to do.”
Even as recently as a decade ago, touring the east coast was a daunting proposition for any band from Perth, and even some of the hardest-working and most dedicated came unstuck. But the Internet has helped to bridge the distance, exposing the WA scene to more people, making contact with the eastern cities easier, and widening the prospects for Perth bands. Dyson has seen the changes taking place, and with his touring company Soundworks has been party to them.
“Perth was isolated, and no one on the east coast knew about anything happening on the west coast… they probably preferred it I guess. A lot of people did,” he laughs. “Now the way things are, it’s really easy to get your music heard and make the contacts everywhere from Melbourne and Sydney to out-of-reach places like Wagga Wagga and Orange and Port Douglas, and all these places. Coffs Harbour… these places where you thought you’d never get to do a show and now you can.”
The WA capital has a fearsome reputation as a breeding ground for excellent bands of all kinds. Many have suggested the city’s isolation as being a factor in the peculiarly high ratio of quality musical talent it churns out. Dyson works with a string of Perth bands, and agrees the theory has some merit.
“There’s all these bands over here and not many venues, so it’s quite hard to get a gig… to get good gigs as well, so it’s kind of a bit of a fight. So you’ve got to be good at what you’re doing with your songs and with your playing to get a good slot. I think that’s forcing people to practice more and concentrate on the song writing and developing something that’s really good,” he says. “It’s not like you can just hop in a van and do a show in Adelaide for the weekend. Over in the east it’s a little bit easier. You can jump in a van and do a couple of shows elsewhere. Here in Perth, there’s no regional areas. There’s just Perth, that’s it.”
Moving on to Bastardfest, which Dyson helps co-ordinate and at which Claim the Throne will appear during their current tour, the guitarist is hoping for a big result. It will mark the first time the headlining acts have played Australian venues in several years, and the Melbourne show is already reportedly close to a sell out.
“We tried to make each show pretty big,” Dyson suggests. “Some of them are two stages, and some of them are a bit smaller because we had trouble finding a venue that will accommodate 20 bands for a day. Obviously there’s new local bands, some of the younger bands to give them a bit of a chance, and then there’s the core bands: Psycroptic and Blood Duster. Psycroptic haven’t toured, by the time this happens, for a year-and-a-half in Australia and it’s been ages since Blood Duster did a tour. And both are working on new albums, so they’ll have new stuff.”
Following the success of the three-city event last year, Bastardfest extends to every capital city in 2011, and also to Auckland. The focus is on local metal talent with a diverse line-up featuring a couple of well- known headliners and a solid supporting cast of other bands still making a name for themselves.
“We only want, every year, to have three or four core bands and the rest made up of local bands,” Dysie explains. “Just to give it that all-Australian… because you know, some festivals don’t give a shit about Australian music, so this one does. It’s all about Australian metal and how good it is, and embracing the bastard culture of Aussies as well!”
Already the plans are to have different headliners and line-ups for next year’s Bastardfests, to keep things interesting, and even though Ringworm adds an international flavour to the Melbourne event, there are no immediate plans to invite other foreign bands in the near future. Dyson is adamant that was merely serendipitous and ended up avoiding what would have otherwise been a gig clash.
“Eventually down the track we might incorporate an international or two, but it will never be more than that. I mean, this year in Melbourne we’ve got Ringworm headlining. They just happened to be touring at the same time so it just worked out better for everyone having them on the bill. I think it’s worked out well having Mindsnare on the bill too. That should be a really good show.”
The same could be said for Bastardfest Darwin. While it won’t feature all the headliners from the other shows, being in arguably Australia’s beer-drinking capital probably more than makes up for it, as everyone knows nothing goes better with metal than imbibing ridiculous amounts of the amber fluid. If Perth is an isolated scene, Darwin’s is an overlooked one. Overlooked, but thriving with bands like F.E.M.A., Calabria’s Fall and the brilliantly-named Aborted Jesus Milkshake, among others.
“There’s a guy up there, Nico [Liengme], who’s got a company called Top End Terror. He’s brought over a couple of bands like LORD, and Desecrator from Melbourne. We just approached him and he was down for it,” Dysie says. “He’s expecting a pretty good turn out: three or four hundred people. Which is great! For Darwin that’s pretty huge considering there’s a not a massive population like the rest of the capitals. He’s got bands from Alice Springs, and obviously Darwin, and a couple of remote places playing. So that’s really good for people in the Northern Territory to get involved. I didn’t realise there was so many bands in NT until we put this Bastardfest together with Nico. It’s really, really awesome to see. We’ve never had any kind of event in Darwin, so I’m really keen to see how this one turns out.”
With their penchant for substantial beer intake well documented, Glenn Dyson’s only possible regret about it is that he didn’t book his own band to play there.