Truth Corroded: Gonna Be A Jailbreak
Breaking out as an extreme metal band is nigh impossible no matter where you come from. But when your home country happens to be Australia, you're about as cut off from the mandatory North American and European touring circuits and irreplaceable markets as you can get.
So, bands from the antipodean nether realms that flirt with metals harshest borders seem to go one of two routes. One, they build up a good following at home, covering massive spans of distance between isolated cities on red-earth continent and hope the hometown hype machine is enough to catapult them overseas on the strength of a European or American record deal. It got King Parrot signed to Candlelight and over the U.S. It got Psycroptic signed to Nuclear Blast, which sent them all over the world. Adelaide/Newcastle grinders Captain Cleanoff have also manged to tour both the U.S. and Europe on occasion. This is by no means a comprehensive list of Australian bands that have managed to tour outside the borders of their kangaroo and koala-infested homeland.
The second route is that the band builds up a following at home and stays there, in the pocket, so to speak. There's no shame in it. Though far more accessible than the previously mentioned acts, Adelaide's Double Dragon largely stayed at home for the bulk of its existence and regularly opened up for heavy metal royalty such as Megadeth and Slayer, winning the opening slot by famously writing a promoter and saying they wanted to be the ones to get bottles tossed at them by the band's violently loyal and at times cerebrally challenged fan base. It's just reality. International flight tickets are hard to front out of your own pocket on a regular basis. And as time marches on, new priorities are found, and it gets harder and harder to justify the outlay of cash on something that at times offers little in return save a lingering hangover, a dismal financial and professional future, and debts that cling like so many bloodsucking ticks.
Another Adelaide band, Truth Corroded, has forged its own path. Since 2005 the death metal/thrash outfit has released three blistering albums heavy on the old-school influences. Strictly of its own accord, the band has toured throughout Asia and Europe alongside bands such as Malevolent Creation and Krisiun, paying their dues both literally and figuratively. Now, the band is in the midst of yet another Asian tour, this time in support of its latest album, 2013's The Saviours Slain, a record that won them a worldwide distribution deal with German label AFM Records. This tour will see the band share some dates with Michigan melodic death metal juggernauts The Black Dahlia Murder. Metal Underground caught up with bassist and lyricist Greg Shaw, who got us up to speed on what has kept Truth Corroded progressing, evolving, and constantly striving for that next level all these years.
Metal Underground: Tell me about what it has taken in terms of personal sacrifice to rise to this point in your career where Truth Corroded has an international record deal, tours around the world, and supports some of the biggest names in underground metal.
Greg Shaw: I think the biggest sacrifice is the commitment to the form. It can limit what you may want to do outside of music, as you need an element of flexibility in regards to your employment if you are not a full time band. Our success in touring overseas and securing the support you mention came later in our career, at a time when our commitments outside band life and our age meant we could not do the band full time. That said though, it is a full time commitment nonetheless, and requires a lot of work to balance both your musical career and life outside the band.
MU: What would you say is the biggest challenge Truth Corroded has faced as a band thus far?
GS: Finding band members who are committed to taking things as far as possible - its a big commitment once you start touring overseas, and requires dedication, so it's not for everyone. However, we have a great line up that has been steady for the past four years, which has been the time in which our overseas profile and activity has been growing. Over the years we have had several line up changes, and the constant reason has been due to the commitment needed for touring. Jason ( vocals ) and myself are the only original band members, with the founding band member, Mark Lennard, leaving in 2010.
The other challenge has been to gain recognition and support outside Australia. This has been hard work, but it has paid off, and we have been able to build ourselves to the point where we now have an international label representing us, and international management (who will be announced following the Asian tour).
MU: From a lyrical standpoint, the music of Truth Corroded is full of strong messages regarding religion, politics, and humanity's failings in general. What comes first for the band, the music or the message?
GS: Its equal. Truth Corroded is founded on a strong lyrical standpoint, which was established by the founding member, Mark. When he started the band he had been strongly influenced by hardcore and metal bands that had strong political and social commentary. Mark and myself have always written the lyrics, and now I solely handle the lyrics. For both of us we are products of our times, looking to start a band at a time when there was a lot of change and upheaval, particularly through the 90s. Since Truth Corroded was founded there has been countless crises, crimes and upheavals that have shaped our lyrics. Our lyrics and message is a reflection of our ongoing concerns and anger, and what we have come to see over time as root causes of the issues we collectively face.
The original band members all come from a similar background with many shared influences, late 80s and early 90s thrash and death metal being the dominant influence and inspiration. Many of these bands confronted issues and subject matter that also concerned us individually. So apart from lyrics, the shared aim was to stay true to our musical roots when the band reformed in 2004, and pursue a sound and vision that was built on those founding elements and do our part in developing the form.
MU: If there was a single encapsulating message behind the music of Truth Corroded, what would you say that message is?
GS: I think it is like any group or organization with a concern for an issue, event or body that is causing harm, mayhem, or murder, that it is important to maintain the rage, to confront and address in your own capacity. So perhaps 'Confrontation' is the message I think that sums up the band, its music, lyrics and identity.
MU: The latest album, The Saviours Slain, was recorded with drum legend Kevin Talley, and also features some big name guest appearances (Bret Hoffman, Greg Locicero). How did these collaborations come about?
GS: We worked with Kevin on our previous album Worship The Bled and found it worked incredibly. His drumming challenged our ideas and brought the needed aggression we were looking for. Kevin has the right musical background to complete the Truth Corroded sound. He is a great to work with, understands our sound and we look forward to working with him again. Fortunately for us we have a great live full time drummer, Kieran, that can play his work.
Regarding Craig and Bret, we met both of them while touring in Europe and Australia together. We became friends and reached out when the time came to writing and recording the album. The original band members are hugely influenced by both Forbidden and Malevolent Creation, so to have individuals who are iconic both in influence and inspiration to start a band, it is a huge deal for us to have them a part of our album.
MU: Speaking of Bret Hoffman, I hear a lot of Malevolent Creation in the sound of Truth Corroded. What are some influences you feel the press or fans may have missed out on, or that might not be so obvious?
GS: Thanks man! That's great that you picked up on that. I actually wrote the riffs that Bret sings on while we were touring with Malevolent Creation, Krisiun and Vital Remains in Europe in 2012. The song has a distinct MC influence and it was written to achieve that. Fortunately for Jason and myself, MC were only playing songs from 'Ten Commandments' and 'Retribution' for that tour. Both of those albums are huge key influences on the original band members. I think there are many of our key influences that are overlooked by music press so I really appreciate you have picked up on it. I think comparisons are often made with the contemporary, and I think that is reflective of perhaps the terms of reference writers have who come from a different generation, or relate TC as a recently emerged band. Or lazy journalism. But our key influences are bands such as early Sepultura, Dark Angel, Exhorder, Slayer, Testament, Malevolent Creation, Solstice, Obituary, Kreator and later Neurosis. More contemporary influences can be heard, such as Gojira, and The Black Dahlia Murder but this is secondary to what is essentially our root influences.
MU: Truth Corroded is coming up on ten years as a band. When you were first starting out, is this where you envisioned you would be in a decades' time?
GS: No. When we first started we had a strong local profile, but it took us some years to build a national profile and even longer to get international attention. The first time we ever played overseas was in Singapore in 2007. We were blown away that we had that chance and actually thought it might be our first and last chance, but we would have been satisfied if it was.
However, since then we have performed extensively across Asia and Europe and there is plans for further touring in Europe, Asia and the US between now and mid next year. We are grounded in our expectations, and every tour we are grateful for. It's a great experience that comes with a huge respect to the people who have made it possible, to the people who have come to our shows and shown their support and the bands we have shared the stage with. We are not looking to achieve a status that will see us come and go as a momentary part of a musical movement, we want to just do what we feel is right, enjoy the experiences along the way, and be grateful for the opportunity, support and friendships we develop along the way. Our job is to thrash, and we thank everyone who has helped with that endeavor.
MU: What are some of the important lessons, be they either in the vein of what to do or what not to do, that you have learned from touring alongside bands that are household names in the world of metal?
GS: Be yourself, as people and musicians. Don't overstep your place, seen too many bands do that. You are no different than the person in the audience, than in the band you are supporting or that is supporting you. For bands starting out, stay true to your sound, don't embrace what is trending, just do what you feel is real, what is inspiring. There are too many younger bands writing djent, math riffs, breakdowns to be what they think is relevant. Attempts at fitting the outline can be seen through and will not last.
However, if that sound is why you are starting out as a band, and it is what you are inspired by, then cool, do it, but build on it with your identity and develop the sound in your own way. If in a few months time some bands are moving on to some new trend in writing, but you feel that it is not what you identify with, then kick out the first band member that says 'I think we need to do this because thats what ( insert trending band here ) is doing.' Kick him or her out, they are doing the band for the wrong reasons and will not stay the distance. Sell outs!
MU: Currently there are a few Aussie extreme metal bands breaking out and touring the world, with King Parrot being one of the latest, and it seems more and more are going beyond Australia's borders nowadays. To what do you attribute this rise?
GS: It is great to see ! I don't know if there is a definitive answer to that. In Australia there has been a lot of growth in the quality of the bands and ability to reach an outside audience over the past decade. However, that has largely been from the more 'core' related bands-Parkway Drive and similar acts. These bands also have a large domestic market which helps with funding overseas growth.
In terms of 'metal' bands there has been less breaking out and there is comparatively a small domestic market to back it up, so when an extreme band breaks out the success is harder won. Psycroptic have really made an impact over the past few years, and in doing so have really opened doors. King Parrot are an extraordinary success, and are exporting a sound that is unique, and very much forged from the development of a particular Australian sound, with some of the band members being from iconic Australian extreme metal and punk acts.
No matter a band's background, I hope to see more of it. From Karnivool to King Parrot to The Amenta, you are seeing a range of Australian heavy music make an impact and I hope to see many more break out yet. There is much to check out such as Kyzer Soze, Hadal Maw, Aeon of Horus and Rome, these bands are outstanding and deserve greater recognition, and there are many more on top of that.
MU: Once this Asia tour wraps up, what plans does Truth Corroded have for the future?
GS: We are off to Europe later this year. Before then we will return to play some shows in Australia, but our primary focus is overseas, as Australia is a small country and expensive to tour due to distances between major cities. As previously mentioned, the US is likely early next year and we want to get to SE Asia and New Zealand sometime between mid to early next year. We are also looking to tour South America during this album cycle, and if so, hopefully performing alongside our brothers in Krisiun. Trent and myself are already plotting ideas for new songs and he has written some killer riffs and song templates already. So work on a new album will start in between touring so we are ready to record sooner than later.
Joe Henley is a freelance music journalist and editor currently living in Taipei, Taiwan. In addition to pulling vocal duty in a death metal band, he maintains a website on the Taiwanese metal scene and writes regular features on the touring bands that come through Taipei for a local monthly music magazine.
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