Latest release: Never Dead (Riot!)
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Unlike many bands which only make the dreaded decision to call it a day when their profile has waned beyond repair, Wollongong metallers Segression were actually still riding a wave of popularity when they opted to take a break in 2003.

“We just stopped and had a little breather,” bassist/vocalist Chris Rand explains. “During the break, we built a recording studio. I wanted to learn as much as possible about recording and songwriting. I wrote a solo album not in the metal vein, just to hone my skills. [We wanted to do Segression again] at a time when it felt right to do it. We stopped Segression at a time when the band was extremely popular. We loved doing it, to the point where we wanted to try something different [the melodic hard rock project Side Effect X], and we did that.”

During their initial run from 1996-2003, Segression supported the likes of Pantera, Ozzy Osbourne, Slipknot, Fear Factory, Soulfly and Strapping Young Lad. In late 2009, Segression reconvened and began playing live again, including a recent stint as national support during Fozzy’s Australian jaunt. They’ll also release their new album Never Dead in March (produced by Rand at his home on the NSW South Coast suburb of Barrack Heights), which features the slightly re-jigged lineup of Rand, drummer Red and guitarists Shane Partridge and Michael Katselos.

“We never thought this album would be released,” Rand revealed. “We just wanted to do something unique and true to where we are now and show people that missed us, who and where we are as people. It’s the first time I’ve produced anything and I loved it. It gave me more freedom. During all the time we’ve written and recorded with Segression, we’ve never been as much ourselves as this. We don’t care if it’s heavy or rap-py; it’s what felt natural to play. It took two to three years to write and record. There was no rush; it just had to be good. We want every album to be the best thing we can possibly do, even if it takes ten years. It’s heavy, it’s diverse, it’s not just pedal to the metal – there’s even an instrumental. We tried to do everything as dry as possible – there’s not a shitload of on effects on the vocals. When you get a bit older, you realise not every idea you have is great – that only comes with hindsight. If you don’t like it, tell us what we’re doing wrong and we can be better humans by learning more.”

Having previewed a few tracks from the new record, Loud can vouch for Rand’s claims that it is a diverse one, covering a wide range of sources of heavy music inspiration, but still incorporating the beloved elements of their blistering back catalogue.

“I think we’ve stumbled on a little bit of originality,” he says. The band incorporated elements of hip-hop – especially in the vocal delivery – into their previous albums, and that element is again present on the new material. However, Rand insists if it did occur it was an organic process. “I put my rap on other records if I thought it fit with the riff. If I didn’t feel like this needed it… I just matched my voice to the message of that particular song. If something fits that rhyme and rhythm I’d put it in. If it needed to be sung powerfully or growled, I tried to match it to what the instruments were doing, or vice-versa. But we all had to be on the same page. For example, there was no point rapping for the sake of it – every note had to say something about who we are, how we think and this is what we love.”

Of course, the fusion of metal/hard rock and hip-hop carried hefty commercial weight a decade ago; a seemingly never-ending stream of nu metal bands featuring DJs, rapped vocals, tracksuits and eschewing of guitar solos ruling the heavy music roost for several years. When asked about his attitude to fads within heavy music, Rand is straight to the point.

“When we did it (rapping), we never did it because we thought it would be ‘in’. We just did it at the time other bands were doing it. It wasn’t predicated on what would make us popular.”

Perhaps due to their success, in the past the band was also subject to a considerable degree of criticism and even outright abuse – the root of which Rand laments.

“We just do what we do,” he says. “When all the bands were busy fighting with each other for the crumbs, we were about giving young bands a go. If you build a big enough cake, there’s plenty for everyone and we feel like this album is our cake. I wish other bands appreciated the work that goes into it, rather than stooping to jealousy.”

Much of the shit-talking appeared to have its foundation in the number of high-profile support slots the band landed in years past; naysayers laughably suggesting the band were swimming in wads of cash due to playing with huge international names.

“We did heaps of them,” Rand enthuses. “But we said no to as many as we said yes to, just to give other bands a chance. We did them and we’d spend lots of money… We didn’t use to make anything from those tours. We put the money in. If other bands want to put their money where their mouth is; if they want to play for 20 minutes to a half-full room and pay for doing it, that’s great. It’s not always as it seems; there’s a lot of smoke and mirrors.”

Referencing a recent Loud blog which suggested bands, particularly younger ones, should spend more time practicing and honing their craft before gigging and also be careful about which ones they do play, Rand says in the future Segression would be active, but selective, on the live front. “The (music) world would be better if, rather than rushing out and playing six thousand shows, bands took their time, rehearsed for ten months and worked hard. We’ll do a few shows – we can make more playing millions of them – but we just want to do stuff that’s meaningful to us.”