Remember the days of good old British heavy metal where metal bands were taking off as punk was beginning to fade? NWBHM was starting with bands like Saxon, Iron Maiden and Judas Priest who were playing pubs regularly and getting more and more popular. Well Newcastle four-piece The Filth Hounds are stuck in that time warp and play melodic heavy metal the best way, namely raw, in your face and full of power. After being contacted by the band, I had to see them in a live environment on youtube and that is really where their latest album Hair of the Hound is at its strongest. Having signed with Pure Steel Publishing on a worldwide deal, this sounded like an ideal time to catch up with them and see what their plans are for 2019.
Simple things first – where are you guys from?
We are from Newcastle-upon-Tyne, England and surrounding areas.
How long have you been playing together as a band?
In this lineup we have been together just over two years, but the band has been together for 7 years.
Describe your music. What makes you unique?
Melodic heavy metal. We are a live band and we have a lot of influences in our music, but none of the influences overpower the music, so people find it hard to ‘pigeon hole’ our sound.
The Filth Hounds have released two albums. How does it feel to put in all your blood, sweat and tears and get an album out there?
It is an awesome feeling, when the songs that have been in your head and then played live eventually get recorded. We have had some great reviews from our latest release.
You have released your second album Hair of the Hound in October 2018? What can you tell us about it and how would you say the sound is compared to that of your debut album Release the Hounds?
The new album is very melodic, with heavy riffs and twin guitars on it. There are some great songs, with many different stories behind them. The first album was written entirely by Bryan and they were songs which he wrote over the years in different bands, so the songs have different styles. The only song that was written for the album was the first track: “Nowhere to Go”. The new album has had many collaborations with other band members and ex-band members alongside songs Bryan has written. With the exception of “Tonight”, which was quite a new song when we recorded it, (it’s a lot heavier now), the songs on the album have been well gigged throughout the UK.
Hair of the Hound was released through Pure Steel Records. How did this come about and are you happy with the way things are going so far?
We recorded the album in 2017. It took a long time as we had problems with our personal lives which hindered the recording of the album. Bryan’s wife had a heart attack and John’s wife broke her arm. It was finally finished in January 2018. We have been told by a lot of people over the years that in Europe people would love us. So, we decided that we would prefer a European label to release our new album. We sent our album to a few record companies in Europe and Pure Steel were the first to come back to us. They were the most excited about our songs and they came across very eager to bring us on board.
Yes we are happy with the way things are going, we have had many magazines and radio stations contacting us and we hope that 2019 will mean more fans and more gigs in Europe.
Where was the album recorded and who mastered and produced it for you?
The album was recorded at a studio in Newcastle called Nemix. It was recorded and mixed by a guy called Mark Stafford. This is where we start name dropping, as it was mastered by Thomas “McRocklin” McLaughlin of Steve Vai fame.
We learned a lot working with these guys and we learned a lot about ourselves too. The album has an eighties feel, which has a great deal to do with how we have our guitar tones. It was not intentional at all. I think we will look at our sound this year as we start to write the third album.
You are very active on the live front, from local pubs and clubs to various metal festivals in the UK. What should we expect from a live show and what is the experience like playing in front of a crowd for the band?
Playing in front of a crowd is amazing, we are a live band and put on a show to entertain, the bigger the stage the better it is. If you come to see us expect to be entertained, we don’t stand around looking at our fingers, we play the shit out of our instruments and our frontman will be in your face from the start.
What are the lyrical themes of the songs from the new album? Is there a main lyricist?
Bryan McGill is the main lyric writer, he is very influenced by Phil Lynott so all of the songs have a story. There is a preface in the album cover which tells and explains what all of the songs are about. However, one song on the album “Keeping the Pain Alive” has most of the lyrics written by John Allom. John and his wife, Jackie, suffered the agony of having a stillborn child. The song is all about the pain of losing his son, James, with only a few days before he was due to be born. The song ends abruptly and too soon, just like the life that was torn away. It is the 9-minute epic at the end of the album.
How often is the band able to get together and rehearse in the studio? Where do you get together and record?
We try and practice most Wednesday evenings at either Nemix in Newcastle or The Rocking Horse studios in Durham.
How are the songs constructed in the studio? Are there the main songwriters of songs that take care of everything or is The Filth Hounds a band where all members contribute to the songs?
Different songs come about different ways. Bryan may come in and have a song fully written in his head and it is just a case of trying to get it out of his head and play it live, other times he may have an idea that the band will work on, or one of the band members will come up with a riff or a piece of music and we will jam it out. Then, the test is, if Bryan can still remember it later in the week he will start and write some singing melodies and then lyrics. If he can’t then it must not be up to scratch. We go along the lines of, if it won’t stick in our head, then we can’t expect it to stick in anyone else’s head.
Being a four piece band and having different musical influences within the band, is there sometimes a lot of negotiating in the studio or do you feel you are writing the music you want to for the band?
We work together well, we all have different musical influences, but we all have the same love for the style of music we play. I think we are on a journey with our music, we experiment a lot, I guess that is how songs are so long at times.
How hard has it been to juggle the touring side of things with the everyday jobs?
It is difficult to juggle work and our families with what we want to do with the band. It would be difficult for us to go on the road for a month or so, with the commitments we have. Our long-term plan is to tour by doing long weekends away, over a few months. Not many people want to see bands on a Wednesday night.
Do you have plans to go on bigger tours and further afield in 2019?
Yes we do have plans to tour the album this year, I think it would be a waste if we didn’t. We are trying to book gigs in Europe and the UK, we have played a lot around the UK, but we seem to play the same venues and cities, so we would like to play a few more different cities this year. We went down really well when we played in France, so we definitely want to play more places in Europe.
How hard is it for a metal band like The Filth Hounds to survive in the current climate where bands have to tour non-stop and sell merchandise in order to bring money back into the band?
This is very difficult. We have had to resort to playing a few covers gigs at local bars to get money into the kitty to record the album and for expenses for our gigs. This year will be even more difficult as a couple of the covers venues are struggling, so, that will be a big hole to fill, if they close.
Thankfully we are just about past the stage of playing original gigs for free, but what we get from the venue rarely covers all of the cost of playing the gig. We have been lucky enough to sell quite a bit of merch last year, but it is an expense to fork out when it needs replacing, because you have never sold everything, sometimes it is just a couple of sizes that you sell out of and there is a minimum order for t-shirts.
Being from Newcastle, are there any other bands from your local scene that you would recommend?
The music scene in Newcastle is very good at the moment. We have struck up a good friendship with Fallen Mafia, they are sounding really good now. We have both been about for a similar length of time but have only just recently started to play together. If death metal is your thing then you can’t go wrong with Live Burial. There are another couple of bands that are getting some hype, but I have yet to see them. When I have, I will let you know.
A fun question to end this interview. If you were a DJ and were allowed to bring 5 CDs to the party, what would they be?
Hair of the Hound? without a doubt!
Dokken – Tooth & Nail
Y&T – Earth Shaker
Five Finger Death Punch – Got Your Six
VolBeat – Seal the Deal & Let’s Boogie (this is only because I can’t get one of the songs from this album out of my head at the moment)
If I could have 6, I would go for GanG – All for One
Any last message for our readers here at Moshville Times?
Have a filthy 2019 guys, please buy our album and come and see us, help us keep doing what we do. #spreadthefilth