Danny Tomb, the co-founder and former guitarist/vocalist for thrash band 4ARM, has hit the ground running following his unexpected departure from the band back in January. Whilst the reasons behind Tomb’s exit might still be a mystery it seems the front man is happy moving forth with his career launching a new band, Meshiaak. LOUD tracked him down for an insight on his hectic last twelve months, the new band and personal history.
Tell us a bit about the new band, its beginnings and the members.
Meshiaak will be as metal as it gets! Hard, heavy, aggressive metal! Dean Wells (guitarist) and I used to chat a lot about doing some kind of project together and had been talking about it for months prior to actually doing anything. Just so happens that the timing became right and things fell into place and we were able to seriously begin to look at it. I’ve known Greg Christian (bass) for a little while now and since touring with him and Testament we have always kept in touch. Again it just so happened that the timing was right. I didn’t really expect him to commit to it but he did. Since then we’ve thrown a few tracks at him and he’s been laying down bass on some pre-production stuff. Unfortunately I can’t let the cat out of the bag just yet with who the drummer of the band is, I mean, we do have one and yes, everybody knows who he is but I just can’t give the name yet, you’ll just have to wait and see.
Where does that come from?
The pronunciation of the word is Meh-she-yuk. We’ve played on the spelling a little but it’s actually the Hebrew word for Messiah. Dean and I felt it had a strong appeal and we both share the same faith and beliefs in things, we both kind of felt it was fitting for us.
I’ve heard snippets of the band that you’ve posted online, I’m glad to say the riffs have continued and it seems a thrash orientated project?
I’m a thrash head through and through, I grew up on it, and it’s in my blood. When I write music it definitely comes through. That’s another reason why writing with Dean is so cool, it’s like everything goes to a different level and it all comes together so easily and effortlessly. What’s real exciting for me at the moment is for the first time ever, I’ve been able to write music with someone that can have an input or idea about riffs. I’ve never had that before so it’s something very fresh and new for both of us. Before we started anything I had a heap of material just sitting there but since Meshiaak started we’ve worked on it all and changed or pulled it apart and put back together almost everything. I’m really looking forward to the end result.
Are the band already recording material, or still just jamming as a band and coming up with ideas? How close is an actual album?
We have a heap of songs at the moment that we’re fine tuning. We’ve kind of set our bar very high and are absolutely scrutinising every aspect of every song. We’re heavily into the pre-production stage of an album at the moment with most of the tracks written. I would love to have the debut album out by the end of the year if I can swing it. We haven’t set a date just yet but I would expect something to drop around November, fingers crossed.
Could we see Meshiaak playing some shows before the end of the year?
If I can get the album out there before the end of the year then absolutely.
Leaving 4ARM after such a huge year in 2013, were your thoughts immediately to starting up a new band or where their other offers on the table, such as other bands?
I’ve been involved with music my whole life, I don’t know how to do anything else (laughs). I wasn’t sure upon leaving if I would start another band or just work on the material I had. Like I said earlier, Dean and I had spoken many times about doing something together and the more I thought about it the more it just made sense. I really needed to do this, besides, I wasn’t about to give up and on the other side of things, I don’t think I could join someone else’s band so to speak, I mean it would have to be something that I absolutely loved for me to be able to do it and that can be difficult to find. I’ve done the whole join a band for the sake of being in a band and being able to play music before and to be honest, playing a bunch of songs that you’re not really into just flat out sucks. At the end of the day, starting a new band was the only thing that made sense to me.
You played in some incredible shows last year as part of 4ARM with some incredible bands including Testament, Overkill, Slayer and Gojira. Can you tell LOUD about that experience?
Wow, where do I begin? I mean the touring side of things is an absolute rush and a blur at the same time. I was always the driver on these tours so I had to drive thousands of miles on very little sleep and perform like a hungry lion every night. What kept me going was the absolute rush of getting on stage every night and actually being a part of these monster tours with these incredible bands and the amazing people involved with it all. Just the very thought of touring through North America and Canada with Testament, Overkill, Flotsam and Jetsam, Gojira and Slayer is enough to blow anyone’s mind! I grew up listening to some of these bands, they sparked the drive and desire in me to do what I do and now and somehow I’ve gotten to a point in my life where I’m touring with them, it was crazy to say the least. After you manage to swallow and come to terms with all of that there’s the whole getting to know everyone on a personal and professional level that blew my mind. Dudes like Chuck Billy and Kerry King invite you to their place after tour to hang and just chill out. Kerry King himself walks across the stage at the beginning of a Slayer sound check and hands you his guitar and you end up actually sound checking with Slayer! So it was me, Tom Araya, Paul Bostaph and Gary Holt smashing out ‘Raining Blood’, ‘Angel of Death’, ‘Post-mortem’ and ‘Dead Skin Mask’. I’m pretty sure Gary and I belted out a couple of Pantera and Metallica tracks too. I’m like, What the hell is going on here? (laugh). The experience is priceless and literally unforgettable.
And Madison Square Garden, that must have been a surreal experience?
Again… wow! Mind blowing stuff. The actual venue on the Slayer tour was the theatre at Madison Square Garden which is actually separate to MSG itself but within the same complex. I remember we had to leave our RV just outside of New York because they actually have a law that tour buses and RVs are not allowed to drive through the city with trailers. We had to pretty much park outside the city and hitch a ride with Gojira to the MSG grounds. Then of course is the security (laughs). Everywhere you go, you’re forever having to show your laminate. I can safely say, we don’t have anything even close to the awesomeness that is Madison Square Gardens. It’s huge and very impressive.
How was the chemistry, playing with these other thrash bands, most seasoned vets and you guys coming from Australia and relatively young?
Honestly, any band I’ve had the pleasure of touring with, it’s always been the band themselves and the guys behind the scenes that have just been awesome. There’s a heap of respect and a real sense of belonging. I can only really speak for myself but I found that it really is a brotherhood. The seasoned vets are more than welcoming, more than happy to share advice and thoughts on what to do or not to do. It’s strange as I would hear so many horror stories of how some bands that are still trying to climb a ladder would be treated and I’d usually start out a tour not really knowing what to expect. Bobby Blitz (Overkill) would tell me that he’s out to kick my ass every night and that I should be out to kick his (laughs). I mean these guys would actually come down and watch our set. I’m positive I saw Gary Holt at almost every set we did on the Slayer tour, as well as Kerry and everyone else. It was all very cool.
Is there much difference in audiences for thrash music around the world in your experience? From the US to Europe to Australia? For instance, there was a bit of commotion last week in Melbourne for the Carcass show, where the crowd was quite sterile.
I would have to say, yes. Absolutely. The audiences across the North American and Canadian tours were like nothing I’d ever experienced before, extremely energetic and frantic. The crowds love their metal. Europe is the same. They’re crazy over there (laughs). It’s much different to what most bands back home would expect or be used to.
Back to Meshiaak, looking forward, what are the goals for the band? Can you foresee the band heading overseas at any stage? You must have a vibe about the music being created and the band’s chemistry by now?
Well first and foremost, continue working on the debut album and get that out there. It’s something I’m really looking forward to and something that I really kind of need to do for myself. I can’t wait for people to hear it. If the opportunity arise I will definitely take the band overseas for some touring. I love the United States and would be happy to go through with Meshiaak. The chemistry so far has been great, everyone is happy to be working with one another and we’re getting along really well. Everything just seems to be gelling and coming together effortlessly. It’s like it was meant to be, which makes it all just that much better to be a part of.
A bit about yourself: growing up, what kinds of bands lead you into the world of thrash metal?
The first thrash song I ever heard was Metallica’s ‘Fight Fire with Fire’ and I was absolutely blown away. I couldn’t believe how it went from this beautiful sounding acoustic guitar to this massive barrage of distorted speed, I was instantly hooked. Metallica are still my favourite band today and one of my biggest inspirations. What shortly followed was actually Testament’s Souls of Blackand Alex Skolnick quickly became my all-time favourite lead guitarist. Then came Megadeth and finally Slayer. I actually remember the moment of when Slayer kicked my ass. I was just finishing up primary school, fresh out of grade six and I went to a friend’s house, a guy by the name of Jason Freeburn. To me he was like the cool kid, a few years older than me and he played a wicked Ibanez. He’d later be one of the guys that helped me to first learn how to play the guitar. Anyways so I go past his place which was a little bungalow out the back of his parents place and he’s like, “Dude have you heard the new Slayer” and I’m like, Slayer? You could imagine the look of disappointment on his face upon realising that I had no idea of who he was talking about (laughs). Anyways he throws on the film clip to ‘Seasons in the Abyss’. Needless to say, my jaw drops and my eyes can’t look away from the screen and I’m hooked. I go out the next day and buy everything I could find.
No doubt you would have ticked off some ‘bucket list’ bands to have had played alongside with 4ARM, if you had the opportunity to play alongside any other band in the world, who would it be?
Would have to be Metallica. I remember Gojira front man Joe telling me about what it was like to tour with them and I couldn’t stop smiling. It would be an amazing experience. Another band I would love to go on the road with is Machine Head. I absolutely love that band! I even spoke to Robb (Flynn) in Sacramento about touring with him, though it was after he drank our beers (laughs).
Ha, I actually enjoy a bit of Johnny Cash from time to time and believe it or not Alanis Morisette. Her non-commercial stuff is very different and I find it intriguing. I also really enjoy a band by the name of Casting Crowns, a Gospel band. Their songs can be very deep and confronting and you can really feel what they do. One thing I’m very big on is music you can feel, not just listen to.