Psython – Predominant AngerSaturday, 16th February 2019
Bursting at the seams with productivity, Psython may be a relatively unknown act to some outside of UK shores, but it’s quite apparent that their brand of musically advanced thrash has caught on well through the underground. Three albums now in three years – and their latest The Last Days of the Good Times intertwines everything from progressive and hardcore to grunge, death, and New Wave of British Heavy Metal influences, while still maintaining this thrash base that should get followers scrambling and headbanging at will.
Feeling the need to gain more knowledge about the group, we fired a series of questions to guitarist Will Price and vocalist Bing. They were happy to discuss their relatively quick turnaround from album to album, thoughts on the UK thrash scene, how they handle the work/business tightrope within the group – and you’ll hear some interesting encounters and special moments with Iron Maiden as well.
Dead Rhetoric: Psython started in 2014 out of the remnants of Septic Fatality, a more straight-ahead thrash band. Tell us about the early rehearsals and formation – did you know right away that you wanted to veer into more of a speedier, intricate form of thrash with outside influences or did this develop over time?
Will Price: Septic Fatality was an already established thrash band I joined with our ex-guitarist Luke. Strictly thrash only! We eventually ended up disbanding and a couple of us started Psython. None of us aim to write a particular kind of metal… thrash is a big influence for me, NWOBHM, Death, Prog, Hardcore, Grunge are other big influences for everyone. I wrote a lot of material on my own at the start with a lot of ideas initially from Septic, but as we’ve progressed and the more we have written together as Psython the more we have explored!
Bing: I joined Psython when I was at a bit of a loose end; was happy to be able to join a metal band of any description. We were gigging as soon as we got a set together – in fact, before we had a bassist! As the line-up changed, so did our approach to the songs; Psython started as a thrash band writing thrash songs – Will does the most writing, and as we’ve gone on we’ve just kept writing the type of metal we want to hear. We just keep saying that each record is more interesting. We’re just a metal band, and that is where we wanna be, using elements of metal that we dig… ‘tis a broad church after all…
Dead Rhetoric: You’ve recorded three albums to date in three years – starting with …Outputs in 2016 and the follow-up H.A.T.R.E.D. in 2017. What can you tell us about the recording and songwriting sessions for these two albums – as well as specific memories, surprises, obstacles, or challenges that took place as well as your feelings about the final product today?
Bing: I remember late 2015 with myself, Will and Luke (our ex-guitarist). We’d just lost our original drummer and bassist and were deciding what to do… and we basically said, ‘screw it – let’s crack on’ and decided to write and release three albums in three years. Which is what we did… always nice to finish what you’ve set out to do! I’m glad that we did it… makes me proud of the work we’ve done.
Will: It’s like documenting a process, checking in every year with where we are at musically and what we learned since the last one. The first album was just myself, Bing, and Luke, with a lot of songs written for Septic Fatality. H.A.T.R.E.D. allowed us to open up a little, rather than writing ‘for’ a band we were writing for ourselves which was great! For Last Days of the Good Times we had Eddie in the band, and with him and Bing contributing to the writing process rather than myself alone in a room it really brought out the best in all of us.
We can all sit and write a metal song, we did “This Town” in an hour for a YouTube video… so we’re confident enough in our writing… but for me the obstacles/challenges are finding our ways around the production, promotion, learning what works and what doesn’t and trying again next year with a brand new batch of songs!
Dead Rhetoric: Your latest album is The Last Days of the Good Times – another blitzkrieg outing of primal thrash with progressive intricacies and crossover appeal. How do you feel this record sits in the Psython catalog, and what did you hope to get across this time that may be different than the previous two full-lengths?
Will: For me, this album feels like the first real ‘Psython’ album. Everyone has credit here for making this album what it is, and it feels like a natural movement.
Bing: It’s just more interesting. Don’t think we’re trying to do anything too different… I think we’re starting to open up a bit, perhaps. Certainly we’re all contributing to the writing, and I think we’re all a bit egged on by each other… we want to write fun, heavy, fast, interesting metal. And I think we’ve got a bit more conviction than on the first record… we’re confident in our playing and writing, so we’ve just let rip a bit more… more metal. I am really enjoying this new record, but the newest is always the favorite, until the next new one!
Dead Rhetoric: Where does the band come from on the lyrical front? Do current events and personal experiences play a factor into the topics you channel – or do you find other influences from television, books, films, etc. plays a part in what you wish to convey?
Bing: All the above. The process is; write some songs and whoever came up with the basis of the song has to name the song… once it’s got a title I use it as a starting point for lyrics. Being a gobshite, I can pretty much post-rationalize anything. Anger is the predominant emotion of course, and there’s plenty to be angry at, personally and politically. I’d hope that anyone who took the time would be able to detect some level of seriousness in the songs, and while there is a load of humor there, I try not to be glib. Bitter, hostile, repressed; absolutely… but hopefully not without a point.
Dead Rhetoric: Your motto is :Write:Record:Practice:Play – which has helped in maintaining steady fresh output for the fans. Why is it important to continue to release product on a yearly basis, especially when it seems that bands are taking longer and longer to record studio efforts these days in the digital age?
Bing: To be frank – I don’t know if it is important to a band like us. We do it cos the NWOBHM bands did it, and we feel like there’s not a good excuse to not write a record a year. It’s what a band should do, isn’t it? Write music and perform it… dunno – seems obvious to us…
Commercially –I’m not sure anyone would notice whether we released an album a year or not – if we released an album a month, I don’t know that it’d raise us out of the lower tier of underground metal. There are bands that have been around for less time that we have, have released an EP or two and have a way bigger profile than us, so it’s all down to supply and demand I suppose, and there isn’t a great clamour for straight metal – things go in phases don’t they, so maybe our time will come… either way – we’ll keep writing… until we stop.
Will: Why push the same album for five years when we could write a new one? We’re very lucky in that our band has the facilities to create and produce music off our own back. So why not?! We’ll learn more along the way, keep ourselves on our toes while simultaneously remaining fresh and up to date with ourselves musically and for those who follow us… and I love doing it!
Dead Rhetoric: How would you describe Psython when it comes to a live show and performance? What do you want the audience to get out of seeing the band live, and what have been some of the best shows you’ve done to date either in opening slots or as headliners?
Will: Reyt Metal. I want people to feel the power of metal in their faces. The aggression, the euphoria, the beauty of our gross gang vocals. The best gigs are full of the dirtiest metal nerds you ever did see yelling our songs back at us.
Bing: I would like to think it comes across as a frantic and panicked mix of repressed anger, bitter humor and good musicianship. I’d hope that folks watching Psython, assuming they were fans of metal, would be entertained; whether the music was to their specific taste or not, I’d like to think that we look like we know what we’re doing and folks would pick up on that and be able to appreciate a job well done.
We’ve had a fair few fun shows – opening up for Akercocke or Ross the Boss; playing a tiny show with Cattle Decapitation; Thrashersaurus 2018… but the final of M2TM Sheffield last year was the very best. It was super busy and people were cheering us, knowing a few of the tunes, just having a big crowd to play at, who knew us, was lovely…
Dead Rhetoric: What are some of the biggest obstacles or challenges that you’ve had to overcome so far with Psython – and are you satisfied with where you are in terms of establishing a fanbase or do you always strive to ascend up the ranks, even as you are a self-released, self-financed/DIY type of band?
Bing: Always more, ever upwards. We’d love to be able to do more stuff, especially bigger shows and shows abroad…
To date our biggest obstacle has been putting the band together and then managing to keep it together! Things are settling down, so hopefully the choppiest waters are behind us on that front!
We’ve had a load of kindness directed at us; some really nice reviews of the music, folks buying our merch, and a few helping hands to boost our profile a bit. But really, I secretly hoped we’d be a bit further along than we are – and we’re always trying to get on… but the reality is, we’re all skint, so all we can do is work at the tunes, do whatever we can to promote the band – however inadequately – and hope that someone might pop up who thinks we’re good enough to take a punt on and give us a helping hand.
Will: The main challenges are self imposed… the write/record/practice/play… so getting things done in time or deciding when is best to halt the work on one thing and move on to the next. It’s always better to strive for more and expand our fanbase, and the more we manage off our own back the more it drives me the next time around.
Dead Rhetoric: How would you describe the band chemistry and relationships at this point? Are you able to share the workload when it comes to the administrative/ business activities as you are able to when it comes to the music portion?
Bing: We’re just rejigging things at the minute actually… Ed is moving over from guitar and we’re getting a new bassist in. Other than that, things are fine – we tend to be able to talk to each other, we respect each other as players and we pretty much want the same thing out of Psython – a touring band, more records, the whole thing…
Where we struggle is promoting the band, doing all the business/admin stuff. We all hate it and are pretty crap at it. We try and delegate and pick up tasks that might be useful, but really, it’s so difficult to get a break; so many bands, so few opportunities, and you’ve gotta play the game. Gotta want to and be able to do it and know what work is worth doin’ and where to direct our energy… and we aren’t really cut out for it. So we make do, and crack on.
Will: It’s always a work in progress! There are certain band members who are looked to for different areas of work, some of us can work better in one area than another. We’ll let you know when we figure it out! But I do love all of us.
Dead Rhetoric: How would you describe the UK thrash and crossover scene at this point in time? Do you believe there is a healthy amount of support between bands, venues, promoters, and fans – or do you think that international tours seem to get more support/recognition than the local talent?
Bing: Personally, I don’t know too much about the thrash/crossover scene, if I am being honest; we’ve played on a few thrash line-ups, and had a great time. As for support between bands, venues etc etc, everyone does what they can in a pretty desperate situation… see below!
Will: We’re all in the same boat, we gotta help each other out. The thrash/metal scene seems to have taken a break for a few years, in our local area anyway. But there’s still a good few venues and promoters pushing it! Thrashersaurus Norwich, Badgerfest Promotions are a couple, with our local bands Thrashsquatch and Forgotten Remains pushing strong!
International bands likely get the most support, but there’s so much music around that it’s easy to get lost in all the noise! But when people do notice and become fans they do end up a loyal bunch!
Dead Rhetoric: How do you view the metal scene as a whole? If you had the opportunity and unlimited resources to be able to change a few things, what would you think about changing and why?
Bing: This is a question that gets asked at every gig we do… and I always give the same basic answer, which I think cannot be overstated, and should be on the tip of everyone’s tongue.
You cannot leave the wider economic and political picture out of the equation when it comes to this. Since 2008, the general picture has been less money in people’s pockets. Austerity in a word. This means that, through no fault of the metal scene, venues have been closing, punters are staying home or saving their pennies and there is less money sloshing about at the bottom for the lower rungs of the music industry. I also think that the way we socialize, in general, has changed massively in the past decade. I think that there is a lot of back-biting that wouldn’t happen if we could bear this general economic point in mind.
If I had unlimited resources, I would instigate a total restructuring of society, beginning with mass expropriation of the ultra-wealthy – parasitic misanthropes that they are because that’s the only real long term answer. Tinkering at the edges will do nothing.
Do we do this for the money? I mean – it’s not a hobby, but it ain’t a fucking business either!!! That there isn’t a penny to be had doesn’t deter any of us because being in a band gives our lives some meaning. So not making any money from it is no major deterrent, but it would be nice to be able to see some sort of remuneration for the work we do… it is work.
Dead Rhetoric: Being that Psython are fans of the twin guitar harmony action – and Iron Maiden are one of the innovators of said style on the metal landscape through their 80’s discography – what would be some of your favorite memories, songs, albums, or shows of these gentlemen? Have you ever had any chance encounters with members of the band or their entourage?
Bing: Being 13, sitting listening to Powerslave on tape, for hours on end, with my mate, pouring over the lyrics, liner notes and artwork… first Maiden album I heard and to this day it is my favorite. Maiden and Def Leppard were the reasons I grew my hair and learned to play guitar.
I shook Bruce’s hand outside a bar in London once. I was on tour with Twin Zero and had a day off, so we had a few shandies, got well hammered, and I think I embarrassed myself; “Mester Dickinson” says I; he kindly shook my hand and disappeared into the bar. My mates were mortified that I’d bothered him… figured a Yorkshire lad in The Smoke would be fine with another Yorkshire lad saying hello – I was in a fair old tacking mind you!
I also saw Bruce and Adrian performing with Roy Z at the Wapentake in Sheffield when Bruce was doing an acoustic tour to support Accident of Birth. Got a load of my vinyl signed… Adrian nearly fell over when I pulled out my ASAP single for him to sign!
Dead Rhetoric: What’s on the horizon for the next twelve months for Psython? Has work already begun on the follow-up outing for songwriting and pre-production – and if so, what direction does this set of songs seem to be taking?
Bing: Well, once we’ve sorted a bassist out, we might be recording a little EP… nothing set in stone, but we’re on about doin’ a 4 track EP of NWOBHM covers. We put the album out, but we weren’t really able to do anything to support the release, so another short release will give us something new to promote as we start gigging again.
Writing has already commenced for the fourth record; the plan is to release it this year. It is early days, but it’ll be another metal record; fast, heavy, more interesting. I don’t imagine we’ll depart to drastically from anything we’ve done previously- maybe a ballad, for a laugh… and cos metal ballads are fucking cool… dunno!
Will: We didn’t feel like we’d done much different last time until we sat back at the end and listened through it! So it’ll be interesting how it turns out next time.