Latest release: Katabasis (Independent)

NSW Central Coast blackened death metal crew are one of the country’s real up-and-coming talents, and have spent much of the past few months on the road earning themselves a strong reputation. The band will also be appearing on the Darwin leg of the Loud-sponsored Bastardfest in support of their self-titled debut album. Drummer Andrew Craig talked to Loud about the album, Bastardfest, songwriting, touring plans and more.

Q: Katabasis is likely a new name to many heavy metal fans in this country. Tell us a little about the formation of the band, your primary influence and the like.
A: The band originally formed several years ago as a project for the two guitarists, Shane Wall and David Butler, to develop and work on the different song ideas they had. As the years passed on, the need for other members to make the material sound more complete became more apparent, so they recruited bassist Neil Mcnaughton. Their search for a drummer came to the end when I was asked to play a one-off show for them for a good friend’s birthday, so after learning an 80-minute set in just under a fortnight, we managed to pull it off… just (laughs). Since then, everything’s kind of just happened. I stayed on, making the project become a full-time band, the songs were crafted through countless rehearsals, the album was made, and now we’re on tour. There are countless bands and artists we could name as influences as there’s a major amount in which inspires us to write and play. Within the metal realm though, I’d have to say some major ones would be Enslaved, Anathema and Opeth, among others.

Q: Interesting. Our reviewer indicated that your self-titled debut album displayed a great deal of promise and diversity. What has the reception to the new material been like otherwise?
A: The reception for the album has been amazing so far. We’ve had some stellar reviews and some great responses from the people who’ve bought our album either at our shows or online. We honestly can’t thank these people enough, especially the ones who, after purchasing our music, return to our online sites to let us know how much they enjoy it.

Q: Good to hear. Was it the band’s initial intention to craft 13-minute songs, or was this something that occurred naturally as the band grew and developed?
A: Definitely something that occurred naturally. If we didn’t have to eventually record and work out certain lengths of song sections, most tracks would go almost double that (laughs). When writing, we work on the basics of the song, then develop ideas around these and play together based on feel. Often the feel of a song can take us way beyond the 20-minute mark, but we try to narrow it down and just keep the really interesting parts.

Q: Are you already writing material for a follow-up release?
A: We’re starting to develop ideas for the next release, but with the hectic tour we’re doing, we haven’t had a huge amount of time to work on these. Once the tour is over, we’re going to lock ourselves away and write till we can’t write no more.

Q: How has the touring in support of the album been going thus far?
A: The majority of the tour has been going really well so far. We’re currently about two- thirds of the way through the 30-plus dates. Our main aim for this tour was to get our name out there as much as possible throughout Australia. This is why it was imperative for us to make sure we visit every state and territory in Australia to achieve this. There’s a great metal scene all over Australia, you just need to work hard to get yourselves out to it.

Q: As part of that approach, the band will be appearing on the Darwin leg of the upcoming Bastardfest tour. What are your expectations for the show?
A: As we’ve never been to Darwin before, we don’t really know what to expect. I’ve heard great things about the scene they’ve got going on up there, and apart from us and Psycroptic, all the bands on the bill are local, so I’d imagine it’s going to be a massive turnout. I can’t wait to see what they’ve got going up there as it’s definitely one place you don’t hear much about as most bands aren’t able to put it on their touring schedule due to distance and price. We’ll be surviving on two-minute noodles for a while just to afford it (laughs).

Q: What do you think Katabasis can bring to Bastardfest that the other bands can’t?
A: Our approach to our music is quite different to many others. We’re not the kind of band who expects the crowd to be up the front head-banging away to our music. We much prefer to allow the listener to sit back and take in the musical journey. Oh and genital herpes, we can bring that too.

Q: Useful information to know (laughs). Many heavy music bills in Australia seem to focus on quantity over quality. However, Bastardfest incorporates not only many of the country’s best bands, but a diverse collection of them. Do you think more promoters in this country need to make their shows more of an “event” like this?
A: Honestly, I think diverse shows like this work the best. It brings out people from each of the sub-genres of the scene to enjoy one great day of music together. People often find bands they wouldn’t expect to like on these kinds of bills, and it gives bands a chance to play in front of crowds which they wouldn’t normally get the chance to. I personally would love to see many more of these style of shows and I really think Bastardfest is set to become one of the best things Australia has going for it the metal scene.

Q: On a more personal note, what new releases have you been enjoying lately?
This previous week I’ve actually had time to sit down and catch up on a few new releases I’ve been meaning to get around to for a while. The new Edguy, Leprous and Ghost Brigade albums have all been very impressive. I’ve also been listening a lot to my other band Hemina’s debut album as we just got the final master back, and it sounds amazing – end shameless plug (laughs).

Q: Any famous last words?
A: Well, the Katabasis ‘Journey Beneath’ tour is already two-thirds of the way through, so if you haven’t had the chance to catch us live yet, do so before we stop playing the ‘old’ material and only play new stuff (laughs).