As we draw near the end of the Wildfire interviews for this year (thankfully – any idea how long it takes to type these things up? Seriously – click on the beer icon to the side, I’ve earned a flipping pint!), we come to Preston’s finest old-school thrashers Solitary – a band with as much history as North End themselves! As ever, responses in the text are collected from replies given by all the band members.
You played here last year. Are you gluttons for punishment?
Dave asked and we loved it last year. Great fun. We’re further up the bill this year. Next year off, then headline the year after.
You’re from Preston?
Yeah, one of us via Essex. Preston… hotbed of thrash. We formed in 1994, with our first album out in 1998. We re-released it in 2003. We’ve just finished our latest one now and we’re looking for a label. We’ve fulfilled everything with our current label and we think we owe it to ourselves to go up a level. We’ve passed it around to a lot of labels and nobody has said “no” yet! Century, Nuclear Blast…
Did you consider going completely independent?
We’ve more or less been doing that for the last twenty years. It’s been our own money going back in to keep us going. We’d like to move to a point where someone’s helping with that. We’ve got a great team around us now and we’d like to move forward with that.
So the album’s finished?
Yes, done and recorded. It’s the finished product that’s gone out to the labels. Fingers crossed… everything crossed!
Is it frustrating sitting on a finished product like that?
We were lucky enough to have Simon Efemey involved with the production so we had to wait for him anyway as he was out doing sound on the Deathcrusher tour. We were ready and had done everything we needed to do in November. We were supposed to do vocals in December, but he came home after two-and-a-half-months and his mrs wouldn’t let him go away again to Wales to record the album! So we waited until February and started work then.
Are we hearing new material this weekend?
Yes, four or five songs on the set. We want to test them out live, that’s always been our intention.
What’s your live schedule been like, or what’s coming up?
There’s a night in Burnley next month – some kind of Bloodstock thing. And we’re doing a major festival next year. With Imperative looking after us, they’re telling us what gigs to do. Only do gigs that are of benefit to us as a band. If we play down the road for free, it doesn’t do us any favours when we’re trying to book a paying gig in London. We need to get abroad, really. Doing this kind of stuff is brilliant, but we need to get the other side of the channel.
Do you think playing live is more important now than it was, say, ten years ago to keep a band going?
Yes, but it’s difficult with the number of venues closing over the years. I think one of the big things was the smoking ban. A lot of places which used to pay us to play have closed down – and some venues where you can still play, your audience is sat outside smoking when you’re playing. But you have to cope with it. The Internet is partly to blame as well, as is people having less money to spend. Getting people to come out and spend money is a challenge. All day charity events are still going which is a great thing, but there’s a lot of work going into them which people don’t realise. You owe it to yourself to put on the best show you can and you turn up to a really crappy backline or whatever. It’s one reason I’m so impressed with what Dave’s put on up here – it’s brilliant.
I mean, it has ups and downs. Because the demand is lower we can now afford someone as good as Simon Efemey to work on our album. The guy’s worked on so many milestone albums in the UK – The Wildhearts, Paradise Lost… He was telling us, the royalties for Draconian Times alone were incredible. He was on some kind of commission and every so often a fax would come through with more big numbers on!
You mentioned Europe – have you been over there before?
No, but we’d love to. Germany would be mental. We’ll leave it to Imperative to decide what’s best for us. We’re fine to just turn up on a ferry and do whatever! But they’ll organise the best things for us – tour, support slot, festival… we’ll do it!
If you met a band today who were at the stage you were at twenty years ago, what advice would you give them?
Believe in yourself and your music. Don’t play to the fads. If you start as a funk band then you’re going to be a funk band twenty years later! And be cautious. There are a lot of people out there who’ll just take your money and run.
Can you name a band we’ve not heard of but who we should be listening to?
Of all the people we kind of know, I’d go for Darkane from Sweden. They’re the band to watch out for. Their singer, Lawrence, mastered our live album. Their last album was incredible.