With no less than four (!) new releases, Ice War, a one man project by Joe Capitalicide, formerly of Iron Dogs, has really made a mark on the start of 2016. One 7” as well as three different tapes are the physical formats available so far, all released on different labels. Just as the split of Iron Dogs after two well received full length releases, this seems to be a little confusing. We spoke to Joe to get all the necessary information on his new project.
What was the reason why your collaboration with Dan in Iron Dogs came to an end? After all, you were able to create some interest in the underground with your two full length albums?
-One day he simply said he wasn’t interested in doing another record. He is busy in bands that are more active like Occult Burial. Iron Dogs was more of a side project. Iron Dogs encountered all kinds of supportive people. Really dedicated people that helped us with records, merchandise, promotion and so on.
I have spoken to a couple of bands recently that have considered changing their name, but decided not to, because it would make things harder promotion wise when they have already built some kind of following…Was this something you considered?
– Yes…. but also a lot of bands, if not most bands, drag their name into the ground when they keep it and change for better or for worst over the years. Iron Dogs was the brainchild of two people, and since it split into two, I didn’t want to keep the name. I’d rather start from zero again.
What do you see as the main difference between Iron Dogs and Ice War? Musically there are similarities, but at the same time I guess you wouldn’t have made the name change if you felt the music was identical to what you did in Iron Dogs?
– I think playing absolutely alone in this band gives me to the option to do anything. While its obvious that I can’t play instruments for shit, if I wanted to play some disco or prog rock, I could. Nothing would stop me.
I see your point and the fact that you now have full freedom, but musically, what do you see as the main difference between the two acts?
– Well for one , Ice War isn’t a ‘Strat-metal” band! Now I don’t just use a Fender Stratocaster. I use mostly a heavier guitar like a Gibson V and Rickenbacker bass playing through Orange amps. Sometimes still Marshall Plexis. Its gives a heavier sound overall.
Especially when you listen to the first Iron Dogs-album, it’s pretty clear that what you do in Ice War isn’t as fast and intense, but already on the second Iron Dogs-album, there were some slower songs and more melodic stuff, like for instance “Adversity”. Is the change from Iron Dogs to Ice War a result of a shift in your own preferences when it comes to writing and performing music?
– Now you’re really getting specific. I guess over all the music has slowed down.
I was really just trying to point to what I thought was a small difference between the two Iron Dogs-album, and wondered if had something to do with other influences coming into the creative process?
– There certainly was a big difference in between both Iron Dogs albums because the first one was recorded live with a few overdubs after about six rehearsals as a band. Aidan Donovan, who played second guitar, lived in another city and couldn’t make it to band practice enough, so a lot of those songs are improvised! Alot of the shredding leads that Aidan did were recorded in my livingroom at 8:30 am! Let’s just say that my insane wife beating, juggalo tattooed downstairs neighbour didn’t take kindly to that. It’s because we didn’t have enough studio time. Also another problem is that as soon as it was recorded, I went on tour in Europe as a hired bassist for Cauchemar and would have to listen to mixes on a laptop while on the road. That certainly doesn’t help with quality!
While you worked with drummer Dan Lee in Iron Dogs, you are doing everything on your own in Ice War. Everything also includes mixing, mastering, layout and cover art. Is this important because it allows you to work in your own tempo, or do you simply want full control of the process to be able to do things exactly the way you want?
– “Battle Zone”,”We Will Stand”,”Reverence of Gold”and “Dream Spirit” were all written and recorded within two-three weeks in October or November 2015. Working at my own pace definitely makes things more productive. Actually there’s an older version of a song that is like “Battle Zone” that Iron Dogs recorded two years ago. No one has heard this song except for Patrick, head honcho at Iron Bonehead.
Doing everything on your own, I guess it gives you a lot of freedom, but you must also feel you have some shortcomings in one or more areas? Do you feel that your abilities limit your musical or visual expression in any way?
– Honestly, I’m really frustrated that I can’t sing to save my life. Recent reviews are comparing me to Gene Simmons or Jello Biafra. What the fuck?
Are you doing anything to try to improve your vocals?
– No. I never practice or anything like that. Should I take vocal lessons? I don’t have that kind of patience or money! I used to have a better vocal range. I think with age, it has changed!
For the stuff you have released, or is about to release, there are no less than four different labels involved. How did this happen? Did the labels approach you, or did you approach them? Are you looking for a more long term cooperation with one of these or with another label?
– Most of these labels approached me once they heard one song posted online. In fact, ten labels approached me initially. There’s still more in the works for Ice War!
What would be your next step? Are there more songs written and more releases planned already?
– Basically I’ve got a master plan in my head on how to make a great sounding full length record on a budget. I can’ t tell you with what label I’m going to work with,but an album is in the works. Its just a matter of transporting the songs from my brain to a record!
The singles could have been an album as well, why didn’t you go for that instead? What is your philosophy when it comes to recording and releasing music with Ice War?
– I prefer doing singles on various labels, because that essentially quadruples my promotion. It’s all a big marketing scheme!
Really? Most of these labels are really small, and the releases seem to be pretty limited. Wouldn’t the promotion be more powerful and everything less confusing if you released everything through one label?
– Unless your on a very big label or even a major label, I think my strategy is a winning one . It’s good to have a foot in the underground scene and stay well informed.
One reason why I am asking, is the fact that fans have to spend a pretty ridiculous amount of money to get all material, if they want it on physical format that is. I have ordered everything, and with postage involved, it cost me at least 50 Euro to get the 11 tracks.
– Then I don’t know whether to commend or condemn you my friend! Record collecting is a disease of which I suffer as well. I’m down in the dollar bins looking for disco records. It sad really.
I can handle it, no problem, but what about the average fan of your music living in a country with a more moderate income than here in Norway, who wants your music on physical format? Do you see that this can be frustrating for some?
– Yes, but if you really want to get into this argument, one could easily say that any music released in a physical format is purely for the sake of novelty or collectabillity. I like the idea of songs being released on as many formats as possible. If a label would offer to do a VHS tape,8 track, minidisk or even a fucking video disk or Edison Scroll, I wouldn’t be opposed!
Do you plan on releasing the stuff you have released so far as full length compilation in the future?
– Yes. All in good time!
You have done quite a few cover versions already, tracks by Death SS, Randy, Crystal Pride, Running Wild. How do you approach the cover versions? Is it important for you to do versions true to the originals, or to add your own twist?
– The twist comes by default, because those bands had real musicians… essentially, technically competent people. Haha! Randy and Crystal Pride are staples of mix tapes, so I figure I would give it a whirl! My other band Zex totally ripped of “The Beast” by Randy in one of our old songs.
I was quite surprised at the Randy-cover. I do own their single, but “Razor’s Edge” was unknown to me until I heard the compilation with the demo tracks. One of the best on the demo, for sure. Why did you choose to cover this one?
– The other songs are too hard to cover! I could more or less pull off the vocal range in this one. It’s bands like this, that you can’t help but wonder what happened to these people. Where are they now ? Waiting for “Keep It True” or some other festival to call, so that they can try and fit their fat asses into their old leather pants and write new songs that sound like Lamb of God or something?
Talking about Keep It True, you performed there once yourself with Cauchemar, did you enjoy the show and the festival?
– Absolutely! The organization and overall vibe was good! A lot of friendly people, although not enough women. It would be nice if dorky retro metal was more welcoming to women. I’de love to go there again one day!
The diversity in bands covered by Ice War so far is huge. What do you feel these acts or the tracks have in common?
– These songs don’t have much in common aside from the eighties heavy metal thing. I could easily cover a more diverse plethora of songs raging from folk, doo wop, electro disco, post punk or hardcore if I wanted to!
But would you do it in Ice War? Or is this project just about celebrating eighties metal?
– I wouldn’t discount the possibility of doing that, but for now its pedal to the heavy metal.
The vocals are one of the things that make Ice War pretty unique. Not only does your voice stand out, but there are also some pretty unusual vocal melodies in a few of the song, “Warrior Of The Sea”, for instance.
– That song is ripped off almost note per note from a cartoon I’ve watched since childhood. If you can figure out which one, you win a prize.
Is you vocal style a result of the fact that you “can’t sing” as you say?
– Well, I’m a million miles away from someone like Ronnie James Dio or Ian Gillan. I’m not some cock rocker. I come from the anarcho punk scene.
At this early point in your career, is there one Ice War-track that is particularly close to your heart, either musically, lyrically or both?
– “This was Our Home” means a lot to me lyrically. Musically, I’m satisfied with all the Ice War songs. I even listen to them once in a while!
“Dedicated to all forms of indigenous resistance!” is printed in the cover of the “We Will Stand”-tape. Indigenous resistance, or at least something related seems to be a reoccurring theme in some of your lyrics?
– Yes! Songs like “We Will Stand” deal with indigenous resistance here in the Americas. The front cover is a drawing I did of a famous photo of a Mohawk Warrior standing on top of an overturned police car during the Oka Crisis near Montreal in 1990. “This Was Our Home” talks of 500 years of colonialism and assimilation that is still going on today. These are subjects that really hit home. There’s other songs that deal with history in the Americas such as “Reverence of Gold”, which is about the Spanish conquest of Central and South America, and “Deep in The Pit”, a song about the infamous Oak Island treasure in Nova Scotia.
Being from Montreal in Quebec, with the history and also where I believe there are various types of indigenous, I guess this is one of the things that it’s natural for you to write about.
– I’m not from Montreal.That is a two hour drive away. I don’t like it there. I live in Ottawa, Ontario, although I grew up on the other side of the bridge in the province of Quebec , in the city of Hull, now called Gatineau. I’m of Metis descent (mixed blood), but honestly, I’m quite disconnected from that culture.
The “Battle Zone” single carries the following message: “Fuck off to nazis, racists, homophobes, transphobes, sexists, cops, politicians and liars! Death to colonialism”. It’s refreshing to see someone trying to get this message across in metal scene with lots of prejudice and bigotry. How do you feel about this? At the moment I am really disgusted by that Anselmo-guy from Pantera who was throwing a nazi salute and yelled “white power” during a recent gig.
– I was already aware of Anselmo saying racist things on stage back many years ago, so my perception of him has been pretty low already. This “whte wine” incident didn’t come as much of a surprise. It’s nice to see people from the mainstream metal scene speak out against racism and bigotry as a result. Now if only all these NSBM “I live in my mom’s basement and jerk off to pictures of medieval weapons on tumblr”-loosers can cool it with their pathetic racism, metal would head towards the right direction! My friends in New Orleans say that when they go see locals like Eyehategod, fucking Phill Anselmo always has to show up and weasel his way onto stage to play a song with them, and it’s become a tired joke. This planet is about to burst with racial conflict and religious wars. It’s sad to see people in the west spout out hatred towards Arab people, because of the terrible acts of a few. Its terrible to see this huge wave of Islamophobia perpetuated by the same people who can’t see how many hundreds of years Christianity has held us back. Were still in the Dark Ages!
I guess Ice War, just like Iron Dogs is a studio project only. Don’t you feel the desire to perform live, or do you feel you get enough of that in the bands you have contributed or are contributing as a live member?
– It would be hard for me to play live, all by myself, now wouldn’t it ?!
Of course, but if you really wanted to do perform live, I guess you could have found some musicians up for the job?
– That would be fun, but I don’t have much friends around here!