Shadowkeep – In the BloodThursday, 26th April 2018
Dead Rhetoric: You are now on Pure Steel Records – do you believe this is one of the best labels for your style, given their love for traditional forms of heavy metal and passion for their work on both the European and American sides for staff?
Robson: I’ve known Andreas, the head of the label, for quite a few years actually. What I like about Pure Steel is they are always behind their bands, and they are passionate. They are putting their time into the bands, they have really good people in the US helping. It’s not necessarily about money for me- it’s more about the promotion and what they will do to get behind the band. I’m really happy to be working with them, they are very nice guys – so we’ll see. When we played in Germany in March, we met him for the first time- it was cool to be part of the Pure Steel family.
Dead Rhetoric: Do you have a personal preference when it comes to the studio versus live work for Shadowkeep – or are both equally satisfying in their own unique ways?
Allen: I think they are both uniquely satisfying in their own unique ways. We make recording sometimes rough – but if you make a mistake in the studio, you can always record it again. But live…
Robson: We’ve been friends with Karl Groom, who produces all of our albums, for years. He’s got such creativity, and he helps to get the best out of you in the studio. It’s not just about recording, but he pushes you to the top of your playing, which is great. This time, he couldn’t mix our album because he was on tour with Threshold- we would have had to wait for a longer time, and Pure Steel were interested in signing us.
Allen: We had a certain window for promotion and the label had to prep for that. So we had to take the album and mix it with someone else.
Robson: Mixing an album via e-mail was something very different for us, as we are usually there in the studio with Karl. He did a great job.
Allen: Going back to Karl, we had a great foundation established anyways because of the guitar sound- so what Rob had to work with was really decent. We also used new amps with the EVH heads- which sound totally awesome.
Dead Rhetoric: What would you consider your top three metal albums of all-time – and what have been some of your favorite concert memories that’s you’ve had just from being in the audience, and why?
Robson: That’s quite difficult.
Allen: One of mine would be Sanctuary – Refuge Denied. That’s one of my favorite albums. But it’s so hard to choose three.
Robson: Flotsam & Jetsam – Doomsday for the Deceiver. To me that’s another album like Helstar, it’s timeless- no matter how many times you hear that album, it seems like yesterday that they did all that.
Allen: Crimson Glory – Transcendence– but the trouble is now, I would exclude some brilliant albums that I would also be putting in the top three. (laughs). I suppose I’ve got to say, Helstar- either Nosferatu or A Distant Thunder would be in there. Or could it be a Vicious Rumors album- could be an Agent Steel album?
Robson: Digital Dictator from Vicious Rumors has to be there. There are so many albums. Especially for me I loved all the Carl Albert albums from that band, I thought his vocals were superb. I didn’t actually start playing the guitar until I was 20 years old, believe it or not. And it took that many years for me to get as good as Chris (laughs). One album that made me want to play the guitar was a Phantom Blue album – I heard “Frantic Zone”, and I wanted to play guitar like that. When I saw it was all girls I thought this is awesome. I went out from there and got a guitar, the rest is history.
For me seeing Ben Jackson and Midnight do an acoustic set at the Bravewords festival, they did a lot of Transcendence there and that was totally awesome. Even for me – when Warrel Dane did a gig a couple of years ago at the Underworld, seeing him do the Sanctuary songs was awesome.
Allen: One of the more recent shows that blew me away in recent years was Todd LaTorre with Crimson Glory. It was the hair standing up on the back of your neck, it was that good. One of my favorite gigs of all time was Manowar, at the Hammersmith Odeon, on the Hail to England tour.
Robson: One of my recent favorites is when King Diamond came around and did the Abigail album- and that was just awesome. The 30th anniversary, he played in London. Some guys from Tad Morose and Morgana Lefay came over, it was really good. More bands are coming to London- even if it’s in small clubs. Testament recently was completely sold out.
Allen: That was in an old Victorian theater, but it was absolutely packed.
Robson: The thing is, every band did a really long solo that seemed to go on forever (laughs). I was thinking they could have played a couple more classics, come on, hurry up! I like watching Gene Hoglan on drums, and it was really cool to see Testament.
Allen: There are so many shows to mention this could go on forever. Vicious Rumors at the Marquee, that was phenomenal. Crimson Glory, the original band, back in the day. Even Heathen- Breaking the Silence, that was a classic.
Dead Rhetoric: What are some of the great misconceptions you would like to set straight for the average person regarding the activities of a metal band? What do you think are the biggest challenges to overcome these days?
Robson: I think a lot of people ask us about where we have been and what has happened. A lot of people think – Chris and I work full time, you’ve got your house, you’ve got your mortgage, I’m no rock star. We still live normal lives. For musicians it’s quite a struggle to survive. We do have the ability to record more things at home, so that can help. With your computers and the Ipads, you can do so much more.
Allen: I think another thing that we in the UK, and maybe as well for other bands in Europe, we have to pay for band rehearsal space. From our point of view, we are seeing bands in the US that have their own garages. We wouldn’t be able to do that here because our neighbors are right there against the side of the garage. We have to go to a rehearsal studio- that costs money. It’s an expensive business and you are always outlaying money. You may not get it back, and we don’t get it back- we do things for the love of it and we hope to get some of it back.
Robson: That’s why Chris and I always keep going. I play this music and this style because I love it, I don’t want to stop playing guitar. If we could continue to put albums out, I’ll be happy. Even if you put out an album every single year, that doesn’t necessarily mean it will be a great album. We won’t wait another ten years to put out another album – but to me it’s about the quality of the songs, and putting album out every six months you may only get seven good songs out of that. Everything has to be at the level that we want it to be, and I think it is. We write as we do, and we love what we do.
Allen: It’s better to take the time and make it good, rather than rush it obviously. Maybe a couple of years the next time.
Dead Rhetoric: How do you see the rest of 2018 shaping up for Shadowkeep in terms of shows, tours, and promotion? Will there be a conceptual video for one of the songs, and have you already assembled material for the next album?
Allen: There has been talk about doing a video actually. We are not any further forward with that.
Robson: There is also a possibility of going to the US to do some tour dates later in October/November time. And hopefully get some other shows. We’ve got ideas.
Allen: We’ve got ideas for the next album, we’ll see how it goes. We need to do some more shows.
Robson: James has a lot of contacts in the business, so he should be able to get us some more shows- with all the years he’s had in the business. A lot of people are like ‘Shadowkeep – who’. We can be patient and let the album come out, and go forward. We haven’t had anything but positive feedback for this album. Of course, you will get the people that will just say, ‘ah- this is just another Helstar-like album’. I am a Helstar fan, and I think this is quite different vocally than what James does. I’m not complaining!
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