Latest release: Wasted on the Living (Independent/Firestarter)

Perth’s Devour the Martyr sprang up out of nowhere in 2011 with a scorching debut EP and before long were out on the national highways touring it all over the country. With shows in SE Asia coming up and then an east coast jaunt with the Whiplash Festival in October, Loud caught up with guitarist Liam Ford to talk about what drives him.

Liam, Devour the Martyr will be out on the Whiplash Festival soon, probably taking the EP out to some people who may not have heard it before, but you’ve toured a few times already now.
We’ve done a couple of Australian tours in support of it. We’re just really, really trying to get people to pay attention in Australia as much as overseas. We’ve been really lucky with our response overseas. It’s just been overwhelming actually. We’re playing with Decapitated in September in Indonesia. That’s all stuff off the back of the EP.

A few Australian bands have been to Indonesia recently. It seems to me to be the next market for our bands, from what I can tell.
I think it really comes down to a working class population. I mean, metal is working class music isn’t it? It’s what, I guess, a development of rock, really. You know back in the day you had Barnesy and stuff (laughs).  You know, “Working Class Man” and all that. Now it’s more metal bands. I think that’s why we’re doing so well in countries like Indonesia. They really understand what it’s like to really work your arse off and suffer through things, and that is what metal’s about for me.

Things have come along very quickly for you. It wasn’t even until the middle of last year that you played your first show, and now you’re up to your third national tour.
Yeah. Well, we were really lucky. Every member of the band has the same aim – we throw everything at it. Our first show was support of Death Vomit from Indonesia and that was great, because it was packed! We all have a great chemisty. The line-up’s different to what it was then, but there’s two of us original guys in it – myself and Matty (vox). Just because of touring commitments basically. It’s really hard to juggle that, and a life. But if you’re like myself and Mat and the other guys in the band now, Dan (drums) and Marty (bass), there isn’t a life outside of music! The first tour was completely off our own back. Just to get out there and get people’s reaction. And it was so positive we did it again a few months later. Now it’s every four or five months.

It must be great to have someone like Killshot PR behind you now as well, to make things that much easier.
Absolutely. Killshot have been fantastic to us. It’s good because they can recognise hard workers when they see it. That’s what the industry really needs.

What plans have you got for further recordings?
We’re actually in the middle of pre-production of the album. That’ll be out at the end of the year.

Are you re-visiting some of the songs from the EP on the album?
It’s all new. We thought about putting a few tracks from the EP, but really I don’t think that needs to be done. It’s got national distribution through Firestarter, and now internationally, so I think it’s only fair to give the fans new material.

And the EP’s been out for a while now, so people have had ample opportunity to grab those songs. I didn’t get it until quite recently, but it’s been out now for about a year, hasn’t it?
Firestarter only grabbed hold of it at the beginning of the year. Which is why if you searched for it on the web there’s about a hundred different places you can buy it! (laughs) Those guys are great! Prior to that we were distributing it ourselves through iTunes.

A lot of bands now are using iTunes and Soundcloud and the like to get your music out there, but looking at the packaging you have for the physical CD, it’s obviously still important for you to make a marketable copy of the CD itself.
That caters for people like myself, who will buy a hard copy simply to support a band. And also, I think, attention is generally paid to the overall presentation of a CD. You can see the effort that was put into that artwork on the EP, and we’ll be carrying that through on the album and we’ll continue to carry that through in future releases. It’s really important because it gives people more of an idea of what we’re about. The Angel of Justice who’s on the EP has become our mascot, and we’ll probably get more graphic and realistic [with that].

Is there a deep meaning behind where the name came from, or did it just sound cool?
Unfortunately we over-analyse it. Every single one of us… it has to mean something. We wanted something that people could take and mean what it could to them… make it very personal. But for us it was about taking on our own responsibility. I… when this band first started coming out, it got me out of… I was in drug addiction for ten years. It pulled me out of that. It was about responsibility and stopping doing that sort of stuff for me. Taking responsibility. No one was gonna do it for me. Rather than being the martyr, I was going to devour it.

People who have fought addictions in the past end up finding something to replace that addiction with. It sounds to me like you’ve replaced it with something much more positive in making heavy metal music.
Absolutely! I mean, I didn’t find God or anything like that. I tried everything, mate. Ultimately, it was going back to what I wanted as a child, which was to be a metal musician. That is what drove me at a very young age. I could feel it, and it started with bands like Deep Purple and Led Zeppelin and then, as I’ve got older, it’s got heavier. (laughs) But the core of it is emotion.

I can see how you could have come so far so quickly. It’s like you’re totally driven by this now.
Well, I was totally driven by addiction. To replace that with something, it has to be life-changing. And metal for me, music in general… art. That’s what it is. Hopefully people can get something out of it for them. All our lyrics and all our stuff will always be personal. We’re not into fantasy; we’re all about reality. For the titles, they probably sound a bit more fantasy than what the lyrics represent, which is all about addiction, fucked up family. We all come from the product of interesting family situations and we all grew up with that sort of stuff and we’ve all got reason to be angry. And not just angry, but emotive. When you’ve seen enough bad things, what do you do with it? We scream about it.

Anything final you’d like to add?
I’d just like to shout out to Dead Set and Soundworks, all the boys in the Australian metal scene. We’re not a local band, we’re an Australian band, and that’s courtesy of bands like Scar the Surface, Lynchmada, Katabasis, Order of Torment… everyone who continues to show us unbelievable support. We don’t hire equipment. We rock up and people lend us gear and we crash on their floors and they feed us (sometimes)! And we’re really grateful that they continue to support what we’re doing.

Catch Devour the Martyr at the Whiplash Festival with Mnemic and Merauder:
20/10: Sandringham Hotel, Sydney NSW
21/10: HiFi Bar, Brisbane QLD

26/10: Cambridge Hotel, Newcastle NSW
27/10: ANU Bar, Canberra ACT
28/10: HiFi Bar, Melbourne VIC