As I mentioned before, I grew a bit tired of doing interviews and often have to wait for a month or more to have it published. One of my aims with this site is to be the first (or at least among the first) to present interviews with new and exciting metal bands. My main interest has always been discovering bands, both old and new, and having a pretty good view of what’s happening in the metal world, I finally have the chance to make my interviews available ASAP. TERMINUS from Northern Ireland is a band I discovered only a few weeks ago, after downloading their demo off their bandcamp-site. I then got in contact with drummer David Gillespie, and here is the finished interview, just about two weeks after their demo went online.
Please introduce the band to our readers. When was TERMINUS formed? Do the guys have experience from other bands, or is TERMINUS your first band?
– TERMINUS were formed in early 2012 and we have had the same lineup since, namely: James Beattie (vocals), David McCallum (bass), Paul Duffy (guitar), Gavin Coulter (guitar) and David Gillespie (drums) Paul, Gavin and David M have played together for a long time in devilmakesthree (although that band is currently on hiatus) and David M also plays in Fuckhammer and Belfast sludge behemoths War Iron. David G and James have no real band experience worth mentioning.
I think you have just done a couple of gigs warming up for Grand Magus. Tell me about this experience and also your relationship to the music of Grand Magus.
– It was a really good experience; we were offered the support slot for Belfast and then Dublin on the back of that. The Dublin show was our first outside of Belfast and it was good to be able to get out of town so quickly to play to a different crowd. Regarding our relationship with Grand Magus and their music, I wouldn’t say it’s anything out of the ordinary. We enjoy their music but wouldn’t say they were one of our favourite bands and certainly not an influence on what we do.
I guess this were the biggest crowds you have performed in front of so far. Have you managed to get some live experience, even though you just released your first demo?
– We had played a couple of times before those gigs, just a couple of local gigs around Belfast but Paul, Gavin and David M have a wealth of experience playing live. This is by no means the case for myself and James so we’ll continue to play live when we get worthwhile opportunities to build up some experience and build up a local following but it’s a difficult balance between getting your name around and just wasting your time playing to empty halls. The crowds were good for both Grand Magus-shows and thankfully a lot of people were there to watch us despite us being on quite early. Crowds for local gigs in Belfast have been down somewhat in recent years so it’s always nice to see well attended gigs and even better to play them. I think we went down well with the audiences; when you play gigs like that you get exposure slightly above a level you would get at a normal local gig and to people who normally wouldn’t attend local gigs. We’ve been described in reviews by some local journalists who are less attuned to the underground as simply “classic metal” which does fit our sound in a broad sense but our direct influences are really bands these people will never have heard of so we’re unlikely to be slick enough or “pro” enough for them or for most of the gig goers.
So far, the demo is only available on tape, but the way the underground network works these days, I know for sure that songs with this sort of quality will be of interest to small independent metal labels.Are you comfortable enough to say “yes” if a label comes along and offers to press the demo onto CD and even vinyl?
– We’re more than comfortable – we’re extremely keen to see the demo pressed on vinyl. I could see a nice 10” pressing or maybe a 12” with an extra song or two. I think the artwork we have would look superb in a larger format.A CD release would also be cool but vinyl has to be the real goal. We haven’t had a chance to send any promo material round labels yet but we’re keen to hear from interested parties.
Your bandcamp-site has “terminusni” in the address. I guess this means that you are already aware of the several other active bands using the same name? If so, how will you handle this in the future?
– We don’t really see it as being a massive problem. The band who have the “terminus” bandcamp address are listed as “electronic indie folk” and we’re also aware of an Indie Rock band from Bangladesh using the name so it wouldn’t seem to be a problem. The name does have a meaning in relation to our music which I would imagine differs from these other bands.
The songtitles on your demo give me an impression that everything is linked together lyrically. Are we talking about a concept of some sort? What can you tell me about the lyrics?
– You are correct, the songs are all linked together. Each song is based on one of the short stories from the book Foundation by the great science fiction writer Isaac Asimov. The stories tell the tale of a future society where a scientist and scholar, Hari Seldon, predicts through mathematics and observation of patterns of large population groups that their current society is at its peak and is about to sink into a long, self-destructive dark age. He presents his case to the societies’ leadership and is branded a malcontent and sent into exile with 100,000 followers, ostensibly to work on a great Galactic Encyclopedia with the purpose of preserving the sum of human knowledge so that the dark age might be shortened from many millennia. The planet to which they are sent is called Terminus hence the name of the band and also the title of our first demo, “Into Exile”. It’s not a concept we’re tied to but we are comfortable with it. Science fiction has been linked with Heavy Metal for as long as it has been around; “Sad Wings Of Destiny” is rife with such imagery not to mention “Sinner” although it did become a lot less common in the 80s. It makes sense to us from a lyrical standpoint as well as being something that we’re into.
The material on the demo sounds very coherent. Are the songs written to be a part of a demo, or a concept? Were these the only finished songs you had at the time of recording, or did you pick the the material you felt were your strongest?
– They weren’t the only songs we had but they were the songs that we had rehearsed and finished off. As we were starting the band we essentially had one song finished and the rest were nearly done barring lyrics and a few tweaks to the arrangements plus some other stuff that we haven’t used yet but probably will in the future. While we were rehearsing the material we we gelling as a unit as much as simply learning and rehearsing the songs. We decided that four songs for our first release was more than sufficient so we stuck with what we had; what you get on the demo is our live set minus a cover we usually throw in. If the material sounds musically coherent it’s because it was written with a view towards having variety whilst keeping a consistent style.
What would you name as the main influences of the band? One of the things I like about the demo is that the whole thing sounds quite familiar, but at the same time I can’t honestly say that you are copying one particular band.
– Well again you’re correct, we’re not setting out to copy one band or copy anybody really but obviously we are directly influenced by the bands that we love. To name a few outside the obvious big bands it would be Exciter, Savage Grace, Omen, King Diamond, Attacker, Angel Witch, Helstar and Warlord. From more recent times Twisted Tower Dire and Solstice. Vocally James takes his cues from Damien King I of Warlord, Moz Ingram from Solstice’ New Dark Age album and Chris Gordelier from Marquis De Sade of the NWOBHM.
That one hell of a list, lots of personal faves there. No wonder I enjoy the tape so much. Do you think coming from Northern Ireland puts a stamp on your music? Here and there the atmosphere feels a little familiar to what can be heard on the latest Darkest Era-recording.
– Musically I would say definitely not. Darkest Era are a lot more interested in projecting a sense of “Irishness” through their lyrics, promotion and even their musical influences while our music really could have come from anywhere. Where it does put a stamp on us is the attitude that is fostered by coming from a small place and a quite conservative one at that. Even within the Metal scene in Northern Ireland most people are into mainstream stuff and there’s a general attitude that if you’ve never heard of a band they can’t be any good – mind boggling. It tends to be either those with a clear vision or the especially stubborn who manage to do anything halfway decent. Belfast in particular has become a more “Classic Rock” type of environment over the last few years which does leave us in a strange position as a band – we’re too fast and too heavy for the rock crowd and probably not extreme enough for many of the Metal crowd. Make no mistake though, we are a Heavy Metal band and not interested in presenting ourselves as anything else – you won’t find us using halfway house labels like “rock/metal” or “Hard Rock/Heavy Metal”. Belfast is generally a pretty good scene to operate in but not without flaws like I imagine any small scene would be. The scene here is in something of a transitional phase where many of the older stalwart bands have split in recent years and the people who were in those bands are either taking a break or are in the process of getting new bands off the ground. There is still some good Metal around – I should mention our friends in Rabid Bitch Of The North who will greatly please any NWOBHM fans. The new material they’ll be recording soon has a distinct whiff of Satan about it.
That reminds me, I bought the RBOTN-EP from the band long time ago, but really haven’t had time to check it out properly. Will do now for sure, and everything connected to Satan (the band that is) is interesting. Listening to your demo, I was a bit surprised how melodic, almost laidback (in a lack of a better expression) it sounds. It can of course have something to do with the production, because there are some more aggressive moments, for instance in the song “The Traders”. Do you feel that the sound that you have achieved on “Into Exile” brings out the best in your songs?
– Well the demo was an entirely self produced effort from start to finish; the drums were recorded in our rehearsal room and the rest was done at home. We’re happy with the sound we achieved considering it was a zero-budget recording undertaken by people with no experience of recording anything on this scale. Obviously there are things that could have been done differently but I think that would have been the case had we gone to an outside studio to record.
At first I was a bit unsure about the vocal delivery, but after a few listens it has grown on me. Although I can’t free myself from thinking that James can only get better and that he may not have a lot of experience as a singer. James himself steps in to answer this one…
– My voice will undoubtedly divide opinion. However our songs are sung the way I wish to hear them. If others like it, thats great! If not, it is no loss to me. I have no intention of trying to sound like anyone else or conforming to any preconceived idea of what my voice “should” sound like.
Where do TERMINUS go from here? Are there already plans for another recording? Will it be a full length next time, an EP or perhaps another demo?
– We don’t have any immediate plans to do another recording but, should an offer come along that we would like to take up, we are prepared. As I write the last month has been extremely busy; in that time we recorded all bass, all vocals and half the guitars on the demo, mixed & mastered, created the layouts and duplicated cassettes all whilst preparing for and subsequently playing our biggest shows so far so we haven’t had much time to plan for the future. The demo is still very fresh for us; it’s been out as a physical release for less than a week and available online for just over two weeks. As I say we will be prepared for any opportunities but also happy to work at our own pace if no offers we’re comfortable with come up. We’ll write some new songs and see where we end up and choose whichever format we feel will best serve us at the time; a split 7” with another cool band would be nice. Unlike many bands we don’t intend to simply write the next ten songs that come into our heads, pay thousands of pounds to record it and press it onto CD just so we can say we have an album out or because we’re ashamed to use the term “demo”. 99% of the time these bands won’t have eight or ten really good songs and would be better served by putting out three or four but it’s their money and they can do what they want with it. We’ll walk our own path.
So to sum up we intend to do it all again and try to do it better; more riffs, better riffs, more heavy metal.
Thanks for your time! I will make a review of the demo in the next issue of Scream magazine.
– Thanks for listening! Copies of the demo are still available on cassette priced at £3/4 euro plus postage. Get in quick, they’re selling fast!