AXEMASTER are metal to the core, bringing with them a sense of defiance, groove and balls to the walls music that gives them a true metal feel. Their new record Crawling Chaos will be released later this year, and I had the opportunity to sit down with Joe and Geoff, to talk about the band and their approach to life:
- What inspired the name of the band, and what are your influences?
JOE: I first saw the word “axemaster” when I was like 14 or 15 in a headline about the guitarist Pat Travers on the cover of the old music magazine called “Circus”. I thought right away that it would be a cool band name. Then a couple years later, I recorded a little demo of tunes I wrote just basically to give away to people at my school so they could check out what I was doing. Even though I did everything on the tape but drums, I wanted to use a band name and not just my own name on the cover, so I decided to use the name Axemaster. Then a year or 2 later when I was putting together a full band to play my songs, we thought of a few different names for it, but couldn’t think of anything we liked better than Axemaster, and it obviously stuck!!! I actually still have the original cover of that edition of “Circus” where I got the name from!
My influences as far as songwriting goes would be Heaven and Hell and the Dio years of Black Sabbath, Iron Maiden, early Metallica, early Savatage, and some Slayer. There are a WHOLE HELL OF A LOT of other bands and musicians that have influenced me to some degree, but I would say that those are the main ones.
Geoff: Joe and I have spoken many times about influences and I am more diverse having musical tastes in many different genres. However the big one that Joe and I share musically is Black Sabbath, after that I would include Sanctuary, Anthrax, The Almighty….really there are many. However the folks that hold my attention the most as far as frontmen and vocalists go really don’t ever change Ronnie James Dio and Warrel Dane just make me stand in awe every time they open their mounths.
- How has the process behind writing and recording songs changed as your career has progressed?
JOE: It has changed quite a bit, but for the most part, the main reasons for the changes were because of the other musicians I was working with at a particular time and/or the circumstances at a particular time. I always tried to be flexible and adjusted the process I used to best fit the situation. Over the years, there were times I worked with guys who were good songwriters and we worked together on the writing, which is the way things are now. But during other times I had to do more or all the songwriting on my own, like I wrote all the music and lyrics on “5 Demons”. A good example of changing the way I write due to the situation are the 2 Axe albums since the band returned. Because of different circumstances that would take too long to totally get into here, I basically wrote all the music and did almost all the musical arrangement for the “Overture to Madness” album while Geoff wrote all the words. But after that the situation ended up totally changing which allowed us to do the writing as a total band effort. Most of the time I wrote the basic riffs, then everyone took part in writing the song overall. I DEFINITELY prefer the way we’re writing now. There are checks and balances built into the way we do things now which leads to better and more diverse material. And the bottom line for me is that I just want to be a part of putting out the best songs possible for the fans, I don’t care if I totally write a song, co-write it, or even don’t write any part of it, I just want every Axemaster album to include the best tunes possible!!!!!!
Geoff: It’s true, when I joined the band Joe had the music written and arranged for “Oveture To Madness”, aside from just the slightest bit of rearrangement all I had to do was add lyrics. This time there was a lot of give and take and everyone put in musical and arrangment ideas, then once I had a feel for the song I put lyrics on it, it was a far more relaxed way of writing
- Could you talk through the process of writing and recording for Crawling Chaos?
JOE: Other than one song Geoff wrote most of the music for, and that we included a new version of the Axemaster tune “Death Before Dishonor” from 88, like I mentioned in my last answer, we developed kind of a formula for most of our writing. I put together demo songs from riffs I wrote, recorded them in my studio, and played them for everyone at rehearsal. When the guys wanted to use even a part of a demo tune, we would then work on it all together as a band; change things, add or delete things, and arrange everything. Then Geoff wrote all the lyrics. As far as recording the album, we recorded the drums and bass at a great studio with producer Rick Fuller who has worked with bands like Kiss, Prong, Powerman 5000, and Type O Negative. I then took the tracks to my studio, recorded guitar and vocals, added all the sound effects we used, did final editing, mixed some of the guitar, and gave all the tracks back to Rick for final mixing and mastering. He and I worked together on the final sound at his studio, and the album was created!!!!!
Geoff: Damin Bennett our new 2nd axe slinger also provided the instumental track on the album, which is a cool trippy track.
JOE: Yeah, my mistake. Damin totally wrote and played everything on “Mystify the Dream Hypnotic”. It’s a very cool change of pace that breaks up the album nicely. Has some really killer guitar work!!!!
- Which songs are you looking forward to playing live from the new record?
JOE: A couple of the new tunes are maybe my all-time favorites to play. I always have a hell of a good time playing especially “Axes of Evil”, “10,000 Pound Hammer”, and “Shallow Grave”. I dig playing all the songs, but I would say that those are my favorites to play live.
Geoff: I don’t think there is a song on the new album that isn’t fun to play. “Shallow Grave” is particularly fun because of all the changes, “Axes Of Evil” is just a ripping song, “Flowers For The Dead” is really nice to sing, “Crawling Chaos” has changes in it that make it fun and the bass lines just feel so big, I love it. I do like all the tunes though.
- What’s the hardest song to play in your repertoire?
JOE: Hmmm, I would probably say overall the toughest song for me is “Flowers for the Dead”. There are a few songs that took some work to get tight as a band, like “Knight of Pain”, “Sanitys Requiem”, “Crawling Chaos”, and “Thirty Pieces of Silver”, but out of all these, “Flowers” is the most challenging song for me to play personally.
Geoff: I would agree that Sanity’s requiem is the most difficult overall….it doesn’t sound all that complex but there is some strange timing in it for each of us.
- What plans do you have for the future?
JOE – The things I can say FOR SURE are that we will be doing as many cool shows as possible to support the new album and promote the hell out of it in general. We are trying to set up some touring and I REALLY want to play in Europe, we will just have to see whether any of those things work out. But no matter what, we will doing all we can to get “Crawling Chaos” around and heard as much as possible!!!!!!
Geoff: The future is coming, wee need to reach out and grab any and all opportunities and ride them as far as we can. I want everyone out there to get a chance to see this lineup and hear the new tunes as well as experience the old stuff too. The only thing that can hold us back is ourselves.