Alongside the established acts that we featured quite a few of lately, the main idea behind Metal Squadron is to give exposure to new and upcoming acts. Having only released a promo tape containing two tracks, Australia’s Teuton is probably a new acquaintance to many, but judging from the quality of the material, the band, featuring a couple of members currently also in Outcast, needs to be followed. Singer and guitarist Jake gives you everything you need to know about this promising act.
You and Harriet are also in Outcast who released a great tape last year. Was Teuton born out of the need to play in a band while Outcast was on ice since Chris Fong has been here in Norway for a while?
– First off I’d like to say thanks heaps for the interview! I’d been meaning to form a band like Teuton for many years but never really found the motivation, confidence or likeminded musicians until I’d joined Outcast. We thought there was a severe lack of ripping heavy metal in this town and wanted to change that! When Chris went over to Norway it gave me a chance to put all of my energy into creating something new, something where I had the chance to work on the music as opposed to just the vocals. Harriet, Luke (Holland) and I got together one day and started jamming on some riffs we’d written (the original lineup in these early days featured Harriet on drums and Luke on bass!), we recorded a rehearsal demo that day and I bashed out some lyrics and recorded the vocals over the top and, thus,” Firestorm” was born. From there we began writing more songs and, having playing live in mind, we focused on “Full On Power” as it was the first song I’d written to fit around singing and playing guitar at the same time (which I’d never done before and am still learning, it’s a prick of a task I tell you what!). I really must say that without Harriet’s help we wouldn’t be where we are, she really pushed me to get things going because otherwise I probably wouldn’t have due to being a pretty lazy individual. Her support from the very beginning really got us worked up and excited about the idea, not to mention all the driving to rehearsals!
Do you see Teuton continuing parallel to Outcast also when Chris returns from Norway, or is this the start of the members of Outcast splitting up into two different bands?
– I definitely see us coexisting. Outcast is Chris’ band whereas Teuton is mine, and I don’t plan on giving up on either! One band playing proper heavy metal in this town is great, however, two is even bloody better. Melbourne needs a big old kick in the arse I reckon.
Which ideals and ideas is Teuton based upon?
– Not much other than the love of heavy metal! Loud and proud! Have a good time doing what you love or don’t do anything at all!
It would be interesting to hear how you compare Teuton and Outcast to each other? What are the similarities and the main differences both when it comes to the idea behind the band as well as the musical outcome?
– Good question. I think they are both pretty drastically different bands, despite sharing half the members. Chris and I have different influences and different ways of writing songs, for example the slight punk element that can be heard in Outcast is nonexistent in Teuton as I don’t take any influence from that sort of thing. That being said we share quite a few influences otherwise! Chris is going for the old Swedish sound in his songwriting, whereas I’m leaning more towards the Dutch & American styles perhaps. My vocals are also pretty different in each band; in Outcast they’re more heartfelt and restrained, in Teuton they’re rough and pretty mental at times. I guess Outcast is the heart whereas Teuton is the balls in that respect, though there are undeniably elements of both in each.
Like in Outcast, you are handling the vocals, but in Teuton you are also playing the guitar. Do you see yourself as a singer or a guitarist primarily?
-I’ve been playing guitar since I was 15 but I only really gained the confidence to sing when I was in my early 20s, I’m not really sure what I see myself as. It’s easier for me to sing than play guitar but I wouldn’t really call myself a singer. I guess I’d just call myself a musician.
Do you have any experience when it comes to combining the two on stage? – I’ve had plenty of experience doing both individually on stage but as to combining them: none as of yet! Rehearsing is really helping me get an idea of how it’ll go down though. I’ve written the songs mostly around the vocals to make sure I can actually pull it off so I reckon I’ll be alright. Time will tell.
How and where did you find your other members, the guitarist Holland and the drummer Parker?
– I’d been playing in a couple of bands with Harriet and Luke prior to forming Teuton so it seemed like the logical choice to get Luke involved as he’s as passionate about heavy metal as we all are, he was there from day one. As for Lee (Parker), Harriet suggested we give him a go, I’d never met him prior. We called him up and asked him to come round and give it a shot to see how he went and as soon as we’d finished jamming on just one song we promptly stopped looking for a drummer, he was it! That guy sure can beat the fuck out of the skins!
What is the purpose of the tape? Just to record some of your tunes, to spread the name around or to look for a record deal?
– We made the promo as a little teaser (hence the short running time), just a little taste of what was to come. Mainly to get our music and name out there and heard and hopefully raise some interest, we didn’t really have a record deal in mind as Heavy Chains had already expressed some interest in releasing something down the line after we sent Will the demo recording of” Firestorm” back in the early days of the band.
Did you have other tracks than these two ready when you recorded the tape? Why did you choose “Firestorm” and “Full On Power” as the first tasters of what Teuton is about?
– I had four songs written if I remember correctly, the two songs on the tape were the first we had gotten down tight enough to be confident with, “Firestorm” specifically because it was the first song we wrote. The other tracks I’d written were a little more complex and needed a lot more work on them to get them ready to be heard, we’re still working on them!
I was a little surprised to see you not being connected to Heavy Chains already, as the label seems to have a hand in almost everything great coming from Australia these days.
– Our next release will be released by Heavy Chains (I think!), we wanted to do the promo tape ourselves as I didn’t really think it was worth releasing such a short demo in a professional sense. I guess I was wrong.
The people I have spoken to seem to prefer ”Full On Power” to ”Firestorm”. Is this the impression you got as well, or is the full picture more balanced?
– I’d say the picture is more balanced, I’ve heard people say they prefer Firestorm. I chose to put “Full On Power” rather than “Firestorm” up on the internet for people to hear mainly because I thought the energy of it would really pique people’s interest, that and the fact that everyone I’d shown it to before then had told me they’d had it stuck in their heads for days (which is a bloody good sign!). But in the end it’s not really up to me to say which song is better, it’s for others to work out themselves.
In my ears, “Full On Power” has the potential to be a future classic, killer riffs and awesome vocal lines are just some of the ingredients I love. Would you say this is a typical Teuton-track, or is it too early to say?
– I’d like to say it is but it’s a bit too early to tell. I guess we’ll all find out a bit later on down the line.
According to the information in the tape, the recordings took place in Teutoburg studio in Melbourne. What is this, an actual studio, or the place you rehearse?
– To tell you the truth it’s Luke’s bedroom, which is where we rehearse a lot of the time.
Even though I think the sound turned out rather well,I guess you will look for something else for future recordings?
– I reckon so, but that being said I don’t want Teuton to sound like the newer bands these days. I reckon the clean studio sound bands have been going for recently does not suit us at all! I can’t stand it, it sucks the soul out of the music. I like it dirty and dusty, not to the point of not being able to tell what the fuck is going on, but I like to feel as though I’m listening to a band and not to a sterile computer, if you get what I mean. The production on the promo isn’t great. I would’ve liked to have been able to make things sound just a little bit clearer, but it’s a demo so it’s not supposed to be anything fancy.
Have you had any offers or at least interest from labels in the wake of the promo tape?
– From the beginning Will from Heavy Chains was heaps keen to have us on his label, I don’t think we’ve had any other offers so far but my memory is pretty terrible.
Apart from the songs featured on the promo, how much material do you have ready at the moment? What can you tell us about the songs, are they in the same vein as the two presented on the promo tape or do they show even more diversity?
– I’ve written at least 6 songs including the two on the promo so far but they are pretty diverse I guess. For example we’ve got a tune that’s really influenced by bands like Rose Tattoo and AC/DC with a bit of an old school rock’n’roll shuffle going on in the riffs, to be true to our roots, but it’s definitely not indicative of our overall style. Then there are songs heavily influenced by Scorpions, but not to the point of trying to sound like them at all. What’s the point in that? We’re still trying to find what fits us best.
– It’s a hoot! Gives us a chance to really mould together as musicians and as a band, trying different things out to see what fits on the whole is a fun experience. It’s always exciting when you’re playing what you love. I think we’ll forever be evolving, there are so many different facets of heavy metal that it’s hard to settle on just one without either stagnating or coming off as uninspired and unoriginal. It’s hard work but good things take time and effort, that’s for bloody sure!
Was the decision to make a tape and not a single or a CD/CD-R an economical one, or do you have sentimental feelings attached to the format
– It’s a bit from column A and a bit from column B, Luke runs a tape label so it seemed like the easiest option as he’s got good connections to tape suppliers and way too many tape dubbers for his own good! CDs aren’t as tough as tapes, they’re too easily damaged and or discarded as beer coasters! I guess I don’t really see CDs as a sustainable format these days.
The first press of the tape sold out quite quickly. Do you feel you underestimated the potential in your songs and your appeal to the metal audience world wide?
– Fuckin’ oath I do, I had no idea! I was blown away by the amount of interest in “Full On Power” particularly, as I wrote it in one night stoned off me gourd. I’m my own worst critic though… The other guys in the band really helped mould it into what you hear on the tape.
Being your own worst critic, aren’t you in danger of killing good ideas at an early stage?
– Perhaps, but I always keep recordings of any idea I come up with just in case I change my mind at a later date. I reckon that’s the way to do it, I don’t have the best memory so it’s always good to have some sort of record of an idea lest it fades into complete forgotten obscurity!
Are you awaiting the response to figure out what your next step will be, recording wise, or have you already decided on what you want to do?
– Not long after we started it was my intention to put out an EP titled “Full On Power” and we still firmly plan on doing so, but I fear people are expecting too much now because of that one song, I don’t want to release an EP full of songs people will skip in order to get to the title track so we have our work cut out for us that’s for sure.
Do you think all the material for this EP is to be found among the songs you have already witten, or is there still some songwriting to be done? – There’s definitely still some songwriting to be done but I’d say the majority of the tracks are written already. There’s no concrete track listing as of yet so it’s always good to have a few extra tracks written/recorded just in case, to be able to choose the best of the bunch from what you’ve got. The songs are always subject to changes once the other guys start adding their own touches too, I usually write the bare bones of the songs at home by myself and then we get together to see if we can improve upon them.
On your facebook-page, your music is described as “heavy bloody metal”. Pretty fitting I thought, when I heard the promo, not lot of other inspirations to be heard in your sound?
– I don’t think so, no. We wanted to make some proper balls out, leather and chains, pure and simple, up ya clack, no way back, traditional heavy bloody rip-roaring metal. We all love a vast array of musical genres for sure but I don’t think any of them have a place in Teuton’s music.
I enjoyed the fact that you thank only yourself in the tape. Do you believe that everyone is their own fortune in this business?
– I reckon you’ve gotta put in the hard yards yourselves, in any business, that’s for sure. You are only what you make of yourselves and you only get as far as you want to! Sure, if we’d had any help, they’d be thanked, but we wanted to do it ourselves to make a point: we don’t need anyone else.
Still you want to work with Heavy Chains or another label in the future? What can they do for you that you can’t do on your own?
– Of course! Putting out a release yourself can be bloody expensive and, as I’ve found, being bombarded with orders can be pretty confusing! Ultimately I’d like to leave it all to someone else so we can focus 100% on the music, I’ve found that while we’ve been occupied with putting the tape out we’ve had little time to sit down as a band and really work on getting the new material together. That being said I would like to have some input! Labels also help a great deal with getting the name out there, having a lot more contacts overseas for example.
Have you performed live yet? If not, are you looking to do so, or is Teuton mainly a studio project for now? Alongside your own material, I guess you might also do some cover versions, if so which ones?
– We started the band with playing live in mind and, since Chris went overseas, Outcast hasn’t had a chance to do so yet. We’re trying to get tight enough for a show some time in the coming months and I’m looking forward to it when we finally get up to scratch! We’ve talked about doing some covers and the ones I’m most keen to do are: “Warrior” by Riot, and “And the Bands Played On” by Saxon.