Interview by Demitri Levantis
Interview with: Shane – Rhythm Guitars
Australian death metal force, The Plague are to release their debut album “Within Death” later this month. I caught up with the Sydney band to discuss what makes their take on the genre unique, what the metal scene is like in Australia today and what they do for fun.
Hi and thanks for joining us, lets start with Within Death, how is it different to your last release “Mass Genocide”?
Member-wise a new drummer and we have a bass player on this one as I played bass on the EP. Music-wise there are 3/4 songs that were written back then and old members opted to do an EP instead of a full length. But they blend in with the new songs and it makes a good overall balance to the album.
Does the album reflect any stories you’d like to tell or any themes that are of particular interests to you?
Lyric-wise Mike writes with a mixed bag of ideas with a whole range of stuff which keeps it interesting. And I think the song “Within Death” just suited the art so well.
Speaking as a history lover, is the band’s name a reference to a historical plague or just in general, as I’m sure lots of history lovers would be interested?
Yes in reference to the plague, the Black Death. It was a song name before we had a band name and it seems to fit as a band name. There was also an idea to call it Black Death.
How does it feel now with the Covid pandemic having such a name, do you feel it makes the band more relevant today?
Ah, there’s a few jokes last yeah with the timing with mates haha. But at the moment there’s a few plagues and plague this and plague that going around but we’re sticking to our guns, haha.
What would you say is your personal favourite song on the new album and why?
Tough one, there’s fast picking stuff there’s slow heavy stuff, either “Effigy of the Rotten” or “Slave to Addiction”. Both songs have a bit of everything in them and are made to sound old school like Pestilence, Entombed, Carcass.
Do you have any fun or humorous stories from the writing and production process you’d like to share?
Not much, maybe me and Chinch went in the studio for 2 days for guitars and we bought 2kg of Chinese bbq pork and bread and ate that and drank beer for 2 days.
What made you want to sign with Bitter Loss Records, and would you recommend them to any upcoming bands seeking a label?
We got mucked around with a few labels leading up to this and gave Rob a ring and sorta went from there. Yes, I’ve been showing bands to Rob and telling bands to get in contact with him. Being the 1st release on his label we want some other brutal bands on the label too so the label can get a good name releasing great Aussie death metal.
What sets The Plague aside from other death metal bands today, not just from Australia but in general?
I wouldn’t say we’re set aside from anyone, we’re humble guys and just about everything has been done in death metal. We’re simply trying to recreate 90s death metal, riff wise/song wise/sound wise of our favourite death metal bands. With the new album, we tried to make the production both old school and a little bit clear like the new.
How do you find the Australian metal scene today, and what would you like to change about it?
As I’m the old cunt of the band I’ve seen it change from 300 people at local shows to less. When Carcass or someone big comes to town there are thousands of death metal heads yet only a few hundred turn up to local shows. Age ago everyone met at the local shows, it was how everyone met, now people are glued to their computers or phones and meet there and get music online, but there’s nothing better than meeting new bands and mates at gigs.
Would you say Australia is a new haven for extreme metal or has it already gained a firm place on the metal stage for you?
Australia has always had loads of great death metal and grind bands. I’d say the world’s taking more note of it in the last 10 plus years but even in the last 4/5 years, there are so many good ones. Just a lot easier to do a good recording these days.
For any new fans discovering The Plague, whom would you liken yourself to, so that fans can get an idea of what to expect?
So yes our sound is based on Dismember and Entombed and bits of their early music but all in all our music is 90s death metal in general. I wrote just about all the music and the biggest influences would be (along with the above bands), Pestilence Consuming Impulse-era, Death middle era, Early Grave early Asphyx. I’ve always loved a good raw guitar and album.
Did you work with anyone notable in recording the new album or with the artwork and would you work with them again?
We recorded with Chris Blancato again, who did our EP. He’s great to work with on every level. He totally got what we wanted in overall production. And the killer artwork is by Demura Artem. We’d love to use more of his work.
You describe Within Death as “no fat, no filler, no escape!” what’s the attitude or message behind that mantra?
We just like to put a bit of everything in there. Fast/blast/slow/heavy. Overall we just want it to be heavy and hopefully crushing.
What made you want to take up music in the first place, and can you remember the first instrument you owned or first time you played a gig?
I was the youngest of 4 brothers. Eldest had a guitar and was into metal so we all were. I played in 4 or so bands with him over the years. First gig would have been with him in Proliferous or Aftermath maybe.
What do you enjoy most about being a musician, is it the lifestyle or getting to see the world or being creative in general?
I think it’s just expression in music we write and play it live and yes creativity.
How has the global pandemic affected the band, did you have a lot of things to cancel or did it help get the new album out quicker?
Well, the album actually got recorded at the end of 2019, and after getting a big label in Germany the pandemic hit so everything was on hold. Then 6/7 months later we got the news they had to drop some releases to stay afloat so we had to start looking all over again. We nearly released with another label, then to Bitter Loss records. So it’s been a long time coming haha.
Are you or anyone else from the band involved in other projects you’d like to tell us about?
Most of us are just in this band, Zac our drummer is a bit of a band slut and floats around, haha.
Do you have any favourite books, films or works of art that have influenced your music, and if so, why?
I always keep an ear out in older horror movies for themes or eerie things.
Finally, do you have anything you would like to say to our readers?
Have a listen, check us out and if we’re playing in town, come to say G’day with a beer cheers
Thank you for dropping by, I wish you all the best for the future.