Latest release: Alliance of Thieves (Independent)Website: www.meshiaak.com
Meshiaak brings together two of Melbourne’s strongest metal talents, former 4ARM frontman Danny Camilleri and Teramaze mastermind Dean Wells. With journeyman drummer Jon Dette also in the frame and Nick Walker on bass the course has been set for the release of their album Alliance of Thieves on August 19. It’s a strong comeback for Camilleri, who suddenly dropped from sight a few years back just as 4ARM looked like they had it all before them. We caught up with him for some insight into his thrash metal resurgence.
Can you give us a little bit of the history of Meshiaak for those who may have come in late?
Dean and I had spoken about doing something together for ages, even before we got together (in 2014). I’ve really admired his work in Teramaze. He’s a great musician, a great song writer, and I guess he thought the same about me. So I guess it was something that was in the pipes for a while, really. Then in 2014, circumstances got to a stage where we could do something, finally. We just started out writing material, to be honest. I had a bunch of songs ready to do anyway, but Dean and I got together and started working on it and we were pretty happy with how the music was turning out, so we decided to turn it into a band.
How did John Dette get involved?
[Sydney publicist] Chris Maric is the guy who suggested Jon in the first place. He said, ‘Why don’t you ask Jon Dette?’ And I said, Look dude, ‘I don’t know Jon Dette! I know a bunch of other drummers, but I don’t know Dette!’ He said, ‘Well, I do, so I’ll put it to him and see what he says’. At first, Jon was just going to be the guy who plays the drums on the album. Do the job and off he goes, sort of thing. Then when he heard the demos, he was pretty impressed and said he’d do it on one condition: He wanted to join the band. It worked out better for us, and Jon Dette’s just as much a member of the band as me and Dean are. Things just seem to have fallen into place for Meshiaak man, with very little effort.
Dean’s playing is very different to what he normally does in Teramaze. He seems to be wearing a very different hat with Meshiaak.
That’s something that Dean wanted. He wanted a complete separation between the two. And it’s that for me too. Meshiaak is something that allows us to do things that we haven’t really done before. I guess people that know me know my roots are in thrash, and with Dean it’s the prog stuff, but the both of them together allows us to do things that we aren’t usually doing, which is awesome. There was some instances of us writing something where I would go, No, too proggy! We’d have to pull him up on a few things here and there, but when we came to the crux it was a really good thing for both of us to try new things. Even vocally, man, there’s a lot more singing on this album than on anything I’ve ever done, and that’s the reason, because we’ve come into this with absolutely no rules. We’re not trying to fit into any genre. We’re just writing songs.
Are there plans to hit the road and play live? Is that going to be difficult with Dette’s other commitments?
Jon’s priority is Meshiaak for himself. Everything’s on hold for him when there are things on for Meshiaak. Now, in saying that, there are plans underway at the moment for us to be doing a substantial amount of touring. Whether that includes Australia at this stage, I’m not sure, but there are a number of people involved in getting us on tour overseas next year.
Word is spreading internationally about Meshiaak, and everyone has a bit of a profile with their various other bands and projects. You obviously have a lot of the groundwork laid for you already.
I’ve been around the traps a little bit now, I guess. Jon’s got a big repetoire of friends and a long history as well. Things are falling into place without even trying. It’s almost like it’s a sign, like it meant to happen.
How long have you had some of these songs? Were they tracks that you’ve had for a while and didn’t use or were they written recently?
A lot of the underlying tones of the songs, I guess, I’ve had for years now. I lot of it was material I was writing when I was still in 4arm. I sort of brought that with me to Meshiaak, so a lot of it is three and a half, four years old, but some of it is fresh and relative to the time when we were writing from scratch during our sessions.
You must be pretty happy that you’ve been able to bounce back and do this thing after being away for a while, and that it’s being so well received by everyone.
It was one of those things where I needed to step away from a lot of things for a while. I needed to do a lot of soul-searching and just reflecting and growing as a human being, really, and figuring out reasonings for a lot of things. I had a pretty horrible three or four years there where things were turmoil, absolute chaos and I just needed to take a step back for a little while and really re-evaluate. I think every individual goes through periods like that in their lives. It depends on when it happens, really, and for what reasons. My instincts caused me to have to step back and re-evaluate and go back to the roots and rebuild.
I’m not doing music to try and conquer the world or be the next anything. For me if it’s well received that’s a bonus for me. Music is what I do. I’m very appreciative. Even with the oppotunity I’ve been given now, I’ve got nothing but appreciation for all the people involved. I’ve always said that anyone who takes five minutes to listen to what we do, I appreciate it because you wear your heart on your sleeve when you’re writing music, for the most part, and if that connects with someone, then that’s all the eggs in the basket really. It’s a good feeling. I’m filled with a lot of gratitude man, to be able to continue to do what I want to do.
Are there any tracks that epitomise that particular period?
Two songs, actually – ‘At the End of the World’, and ‘Death of an Anthem’.
Were you reaching pretty deep when it came to recording them?
Oh yeah. It was hard to record them, to be honest. Tracking those songs… Dean and I probably spent the most time vocally on those songs. Obviously they’re not the sort of songs I’m known for singing. I’ve never been able to do anything like that before, which, again, was just awesome to be able to do and there’ll be more of that sort of stuff on the next album. Dean and I are really looking forward to getting into that. I still reflect on that period of time when I hear those two tracks. It takes me back to that period, but in a different way. Now I look back and think how far I’ve come. It’s a constant reminder of where I don’t want to be!