Mark reviewed System of Hate’s punky new offering, Unhallowed Ground, back in December. The band took time out of post album-recording shenanigans to answer a few questions we threw their way. Pat Crawford, the band’s guitarist, took the lead.
Simple things first – where are you guys from?
Hi, we are from Barnsley, a small ex-mining town in Northern England.
How did you meet?
Three of us had been in a band called Total Confusion. Two of that band could not commit to much live work, so we took the best parts and added a drummer who the guitar player knew.
How long have you been playing as a band?
We started the band in 2012 but we didn’t play our first gig till 2013.
Well, we knew the theme of the songs were going to be dark and the music brooding. The bass player threw in the idea, something ‘Of Hate’. After a few weeks and many suggestions, the singer said ‘System’, and we all agreed.
What are your influences?
UK Subs, Angelic Upstarts, Damned, Motorhead, Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds, Discharge, Ministry, Johnny Cash, Pixies, Evil Blizzard and many, many more.
Describe your music. What makes you unique?
We call it Dark Punk. The keyboard definitely makes it different, there’s not many punk bands with a keyboardist. We mix together punk, goth, industrial, metal, rock and anything else we can sneak in.
Do you have any particular lyrical themes?
The main lyric themes are; death, hope, war, crucifixion, insanity, murder, pain, redemption, chaos and love.
What’s your live show like? How many shows have you played?
Our live shows are intense, full of energy, with darkness and light. We have voice samples as intros, which set an eerie tone to proceedings. We like to pound the groove round and round, no talking between songs, it’s a constant battering-ram of rhythm. We are tight and love every second up there in the spotlight. We’ve played a lot of shows including the last four Rebellion Festivals in Blackpool, the largest punk festival in the world, and we’re booked again for 2017.
What’s the wildest thing you’ve seen or done at a live show?
We played one venue, soon to be demolished and the rain was coming through the ceiling. If that wasn’t danger enough, the rain was seeping through rusty iron girders, so it was actually raining blood, or that’s how it looked! This was great ’til it came to cleaning off our clothes and instruments. Anyhow, we are all alive to tell the tale.
The wildest thing I ever saw, was an old school punk band, back in the day. The singer had been banned from the pub, so he was fed the mic lead through the window and sang the whole set from outside. You couldn’t make it up.
What kit do you use / guitars do you play / etc.?
Carl on drums – Tama Swingstar – 12/13 rack toms, 16″ floor tom, 22″ bass drum, Zyljian cymbals, Pearl snare.
Paddy on bass – Fender Blackstar Precision Bass Guitar, Gallien-Krueger 1001RB head, X2 G-K Neo 410 Cabs, Tech 21 Bass effects fly rig.
Pat on guitar – Fender Telecaster, Marshall Head JCM2000 TSL100, Marshall Cab, various pedals; Delay, Chorus, Reverb & Noise Reducer.
Martin’s on keyboard – he only plays with us occasionally now live, but was essential on the album of course. He wants to play on the next album as well.
What are your plans for 2017?
Gig as much as we can, write as many songs as we can towards the next album, maybe release an EP. Sell more of the Unhallowed Ground album and generally enjoy ourselves, with a few drinks and loads of laughs.
If you were second on a three-band bill, which band would you love to be supporting and which band would you choose to open for you? A chance to plug someone you’ve toured with, or a mate’s band we’ve not heard of before!
UK Subs and Angelic Upstarts joint headliners (we’ve had some amazing gigs supporting them both), so System Of Hate would have to open. Now that’s a gig.