Stimulated by a free download of “Blood Soaked Banner” available at the Rocksector Soundcloud Page, Mudkiss quizzed drummer John Curran about the forthcoming release, gigs and plans for the future.
ANDY: Firstly, congratulations on signing with Rocksector Records. It must be a massive relief to eventually have November 19th as a release date for the album.
JOHN: Thank you and yeah it is a huge relief to finally announce the album's release date. We had to keep the release date and our signing with Rocksector to ourselves for about a month and a half and now that it’s out there, it feels real.
ANDY: Originally, you hoped it would be out around May. Has the delay been due to time spent securing the deal with Rocksector or have other factors been involved?
JOHN: We have had a number of delays this is true, losing a band member and acquiring the studio time hindered us to an extent. But when we began recording the album we talked as a band and decided that we had to be really clinical and precise in our approach. Each song on the album has been dissected multiple times with every minor detail receiving attention. The Rocksector Offer happened towards the final stages of mixing, Mark Appleton came down to Gracieland and loved what he heard, he's been keeping a close eye on us for a while which was pretty humbling.
ANDY: What do you feel will be the major benefits of releasing the album in this way, instead of an independent Incassum release?
JOHN: Well having the support of a label is always beneficial to any underground Metal band. Rocksector especially are very passionate and committed to working with bands. Releasing the album independently was an option but we felt with Rocksector on board it would allow to focus on our music.
ANDY: And what’s the story behind the album title “Rite of Passage,” Is that simply what you’ve been through over the last few years.
JOHN: The album title kind of reflects the last 18 months of the recording process, somewhat emphasising the obstacles we've had to overcome to reach this point and after 8 years of ups and downs, it definitely feels like we've paid our dues!
ANDY: Fittingly, the album artwork is very Gothic, who designed the cover.
JOHN: The very talented Stephen Williams. He came to us with several design ideas but the one we chose just stood out. We loved the immense depth it contained, it’s a pretty chilling album cover.
ANDY: You’re output as a band since inception has been limited, are you hoping the album will kick start Incassum to bigger and better things, including producing more material in a shorter space of time.
JOHN: Yes, our main goal is to get recognition for the album. We want big tours with big bands, that’s what we set out to do from day one. We have already begun playing around with new material for album number three.
ANDY: From what I’ve heard of the new material live, it certainly sounds to as though as a band you’ve moved on massively since the “In Vain” EP, do you also feel that is the case?
JOHN: Yes of course, but that’s a pretty natural occurrence for most bands and artists right? All of us have developed as musicians, which is going to shine through on the record. Sharleen most of all with her vocal ability, our use of vocal harmonies have certainly improved on this record.
ANDY: You would certainly hope so, but a lot of bands seem to produce their best work with debut releases, perhaps due to being signed early in their career and pressure from a record company to produce new material quickly. Do you feel the years of being unsigned, have been beneficial in allowing time and space to develop?
JOHN: Yeah that’s very true, a number of bands have produced masterpieces with their first release, Iron Maiden’s ‘Iron Maiden’ is a prime example. But if you think how bands like Pantera , Lamb of God even Korn have developed over the years. Pantera brought out ‘Far Beyond Driven” in 94, their third studio album (As Pantera). ‘Sacrament’ was Lamb of Gods fourth album and ‘Follow the leader’ was Korns third album. So I guess it varies from band to band.
ANDY: Do you prefer playing live to the process of recording?
JOHN: Good question! After 18 months of recording an album we prefer playing live, but I'm sure after 18 months of touring, we will prefer recording.
ANDY: What gigs do you have lined up around the album release? Will there be an album launch and are you hoping to tour on the back of it?
JOHN: We have just confirmed our album Launch party which will be Saturday 24th November at Club Alter Ego, Manchester, so make sure you come along that. Our plan for 2013 is play as much and tour as much as we can. We are already in talks for a couple of tours in early 2013.
ANDY: There’s always appeared a strong bond within the Manchester Metal scene between a number of bands. As you all start to progress, is that bond still there, or does it become more difficult to maintain?
JOHN: There will always be a bond between Manchester metal bands, the Metal genre can sometimes get frowned upon by the wider mainstream market and in Manchester it seems to be a tight unit of bands and friends. Manchester is competing in some ways with London, so no band can afford to be a ‘Rival’ band.
ANDY: And to finish, just a general question on the metal / rock scene. As a band with a female vocalist in still a predominantly male genre, have things moved on to the extent women are judged purely on their talent, rather than looks?
JOHN: Anyone who has seen Incassum live is amazed by Sharleen's vocal ability, people who judge her for anything else are not worth mentioning. The new album will surely put to rest any doubts about Sharleen vocal ability, she can compete with the best in the world.
I couldn't agree more with John's sentiments, all the Manchester outfit required, a larger body of recorded wok for recognition within the metal world as genuine contenders, rather than just regular gigging pretenders. The release of “Rite of Passage,” through Rocksector, projects beyond that local sphere, destined to garner far more attention from a wider national, even international audience. It’s been a long hard road, if ever a band deserved more appreciation, it’s Incassum.
Interview by Andy Barnes