UK thrash has been well represented at Bloodstock over the years. 2019 is no different, with Preston legends Xentrix hitting the Ronnie James Dio stage. We managed to get guitarists Kristian “Stan” Havard and Jay Walsh for a quick chat shortly after their set.
You played second on the Ronnie James Dio stage earlier today – how did the set go?
Kristian “Stan” Havard: It was great. It’s great to actually get on the main stage. It’s one of those things where we looked at it thinking “I hope we get to play on it some day”, so to actually play it was a bit of a dream come true!
Jay Walsh: We played the Sophie Lancaster stage in 2017, and I think having the new album coming out a couple of months ago, everything has kind of fallen into place to get us here.
This year you signed to Listenable to release Bury the Pain – can you tell us how that happened?
KH: We actually recorded this album with the original Xentrix singer Chris Astley. We started recording in 2014-15, the album was mixed by Andy Sneap and then he decided he didn’t want to do music anymore. We thought that there was no point in putting the album out and we might as well just shelve it. We got Jay involved, originally as just a guitar player, we auditioned other singers…
JW: It took about a year didn’t it?
KH: About a year of trying to find the right person. We found people that sounded great but didn’t fit… and in a fit of just pure anger after the last guy didn’t I said to Jay, “You can’t sing can you?”, and he said, “I’ll have a go”. That’s where we’re at now.
Talking about Bury the Pain, it’s been out for a few months now – what’s the reception to the album been?
KH: Really good. The reception to this album has been one of the best to any Xentrix album. I think a lot of people were actually quite shocked that a) we managed to get an album out and b) it’s any good.
JW: I think for the real Xentrix fans, it’s the one that follows For Whose Advantage? before Kin. It’s a mix of those two and everyone’s happy about it. I heard it when Chris had done the vocals on it and I thought “that’s where that album is”, and I was happy about it then.
Hearing some of it today that pretty much describes it. It sounds like the natural progression from For Whose Advantage? But with modern production.y
KH: That’s exactly what was intended.
Besides Jay as a newer member of the band, you also have Chris Shires on the bass. How have you guys fit into the band, and what sort of things have you brought that are different from what Xentrix had before?
KH: Chris Shires is a totally different bass player style-wise and personality-wise to (original Xentrix bassist) Paul Mackenzie. If you’ve ever met them you know the two people are completely chalk and cheese. Chris plays with his fingers, that’s a different playing style. He brings a different sound to it. He’s actually the youngest member of Xentrix – he was actually 4 when Shattered Existence came out.
JW: He was on the planet!
KH: He was on the planet but only just!
JW: He was in Stan’s other band (Hellfighter) after Xentrix…
KH: He was the guy. We actually asked him to join the band at this festival. We played and we knew Paul couldn’t do it anymore for medical reasons so we were looking for other bass players. Having Chris in the band is a natural thing because we know him. It’s massively important for us that we get the right people in the band because you can have the best players, or the best sounding people, but if you don’t get on, there’s no band! It’s a pointless exercise – you end up hating each other and falling out.
JW: You’ve got to take the hit on whether they’re good or not.
KH: Exactly! It’s a mix of things. We’re realistic and we know that personalities count for everything. That’s why it took a long time to find Jay because we had to find someone who would fit in. We found people that sounded great but didn’t fit in.
JW: When we’re away it’s good, we’re beaten up and having a good time. If it’s not that then it’s a chore. We look forward to seeing everyone again.
KH: The music is super serious. That doesn’t take any back seat. It’s super important that what we do is at the forefront.
JW: You have to have the same mindset when recording the music and delivering it live. Then the rest of is time to hang out.
KH: It’s important that we actually get on with each other, and have fun and enjoy doing it. Otherwise there’s no point in doing in.
It’s been about 30 years since Shattered Existence came out. Looking back over your career, did you ever think Xentrix would be where it is today?
JW: Not for me! I was learning to play guitar, I was 13 or 14 playing along to Shattered Existence.
KH: I remember getting to age 27 and thinking, “I’m a bit old for this thrash metal lark, I better pack it in!”, and here I am at 49 having just played the main stage at Bloodstock, and having a new album out. Then we’re off to Japan. We’re massive fans of this music, that’s the big thing. We’re not doing it for any other reason than we’re massive fans of it. We always have been. That’s the core of it. Hopefully that comes across when people meet us.
Wrapping it up, what’s Xentrix’s plans for the future after Bloodstock? Is there going to be any more tours or festivals? Maybe a video from Bury the Pain?
KH: Yes. We have plans to do a promo video for one track off the album very soon. There’s gigs in the pipeline. Ultimately we’ll do some shows next year, then we’re gonna do another album.
JW: We’re all quite chill with it. Wherever it takes us we’ll go. We’re gonna be driving home the point, “everyone listen to Xentrix”. We’re doing what we’re doing and we hope people want to hear it, like it, and come with us.
Photos by Sean Larkin