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We had a conversation with Old Season a band from Ireland and their final “strong” Epic/Melodic Metal sound. Read what they told us.

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Hello John,James,Jimmy,Dave,Dermod,Anto.
Hello Old Season from Ireland.
Please can we re-introduce your selves, because after 2007 that you were in Athens for the "Up the Hammers" you had a lot of changes?

We are Old Season from County Kildare in Ireland. We play our own style of Epic/Melodic metal.
We have John Bonham on vocals, Dave Copley on Bass, Jimmy Blanchfield on guitars, Jimmy Kiernan on guitars and backing vocals, Anto Walsh on Drums and Dermod Smyth on keyboards/piano. Yeah, it's only Anto, Dermod and I (Jimmy Blanchfield) that have been to Up the Hammers - Twice! Hopefully, we’ll get to show the other 3 lads around the city and the Greek hospitality soon!

 

Your first EP called ‘Volume One’! How anticipated was the start from Dublin to the world?

We played a lot of shows around Ireland, particularly in Dublin, before the release of Volume One. We pretty much took any gig that was going just to get our name out there. Some people on the scene were familiar with Karnayna, which was the name of the band before Old Season, and with Frank (Mourning Beloveth) joining there seemed to be a bit of a buzz around us. I think we were so different to any other band on the Irish scene back then that it helped us stand out a little from the rest. Having played so many shows at the time, it meant that our name was starting to spread so that when we did go in to record Volume One, it was very well anticipated. Social Media was not a ‘thing’ back then so we really did push ourselves to get in people’s faces and to network ourselves amongst metal fans in Ireland. It seemed to work very well as we got a fantastic response from the public in Ireland and abroad.

‘Volume One’ debuted at No.1 on the Sentinel Metal Charts and suddenly you were able to share the stage with Sodom, Obituary and Anvil. How can you manage this fast recognition from all metal fans?

Like I said previously, we did a lot of groundwork prior to the release of that record and it helped us create a very positive momentum. It also helped that people really seemed to enjoy the record and we were getting great reviews from as many as 16 different countries. We did have to put in a good bit of work to promote it as we obviously had no label. Although we only had a limited supply of cds to sell , we had promo copies that we strategically sent to people around the world whom we thought were influential in their prospective scenes. Most of these people went on to write online reviews, blogs or magazine articles and it helped us gain a foothold into the underground, international scene. We also actively looked for support slots with some of the bigger international acts visiting Ireland, like the ones you just mentioned, but also bands like Slough Feg, Brocus Helm and Blitzgrieg, bands that would allow us to access the type of fans that we wanted.

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Idols and influences?

There really isn’t any one band that we draw our inspiration from. It is very hard for us to nail down specific influences because we all listen to such a variety of music. Some of the bands that come to mind would be Amorphis, Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, Dream Theatre, Opeth, Thin Lizzy and the list really goes on and on, sometimes extending outside the metal genres. We try to blend them all very subtly, to the point where you could have 4 different people listening to the same song and have all of them name 4 different bands as possible influences. Iron Maiden is certainly a band that have coloured our style throughout the years. I think they set a great template for how drums, bass, vocals and twin guitars should interact with each other throughout a song, how they weave in and out of the limelight and step back at times to leave the other members room to develop their own part. It’s a real team effort and they're not battling each other for attention the whole time. They’re a foundational influence for a lot of metal bands in the last 20 years, including ourselves. However, in general there are a massive variety of influences within the band as each member has his own set of influences that they bring to the table.

Can you tell us a few things about your experience in Athens?

Yeah, it was absolutely fantastic! I think we were all really struck at how friendly and welcoming the people are. It’s a beautiful city, but it’s really the people that make it such a magic place. Athens was our first gig outside Ireland so it has a special place in our hearts. I think we have a great connection with the Greek fans in general. Up the Hammers, even back then, was very well, professionally organised. We hope to be over again for 2019. The spirit of metal is truly alive in Greece. The fans there are very loyal and committed to the scene.

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2009 were the most significant point to your career (until now). You were at Day of Darkness in 2008 and The Hammer of Doom in 2009 but the key to unlock everything was your first full-length album called Archaic Creation. Many people anticipated this album but what went wrong?

Yes there were a lot of people who anticipated Archaic Creation, in Greece especially, and when it was released it was very well received by those people. The problem was that soon after the release we had a couple of line-up changes, the most difficult being our singer. In Ireland, there were not too many singers that were available to us in the style of vocals that we needed, so we started a 3 year long process of auditioning singers. Obviously, we couldn’t gig, and although we still were rehearsing and writing songs weekly, we had no public presence. This took away all the momentum that we had built up for ourselves up to 2009, and we’re only starting to get that back now.

Just to clarify: The official Irish flag does not have a trefoil. Our official flag is the Tricolor of green, white and orange. But anyway, I get the point you are getting at.
It probably does seem unlucky, but this kind of thing is just a part of life. We did not let it get us down or stop us from trying to write the music we enjoy playing and listening to. Although it was a pain of course, I like to focus on the positive. A lot of positives came out of that situation, and in fact, looking back at it now I actually feel we were extremely lucky. If we didn’t go through that small bit of ‘pain’, we wouldn’t have gained 2 great members and 2 great friends. John and Fuzzy (Jimmy K) are the silver lining on that cloud. As well as being great guys to spend time with, they are also very creative. The main problem now is keeping up with all the new stuff coming out in the rehearsal room! Also, as well as the 2 new members, there was a point for a while where we were rehearsing and writing with just 4 members. During this time, it really brought home the level of enjoyment we have for just getting together and writing and jamming stuff out. When you are missing 2 members and have no idea when you’ll be able to gig with the band again, it strips away the bullshit reasons for being in a band and leaves you with a purity of intention that was a revelation to me personally. So, after all that, I find it hard to see the changes as unlucky.

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You released ‘Beyond the Black’ last year. Can you tell us about it?

From a lyrical view point; ‘Beyond the Black’ is essentially an exploration of the everyday human psyche in our modern world. There is a major theme of inner turmoil and the inability to control one’s own inner reality when faced with the pressures of external reality. People often get trapped in a negative thought cycle which can make them feel like a prisoner in their own heads. This often comes to a head when faced with the stresses and pressures of modern life, particularly in a society that doesn’t naturally equip people with the coping mechanisms to deal with these problems. ‘Beyond The Black’ is an exploration of this, and as a result it touches on themes like depression, anxiety, psychosis, seclusion, personal development and there are more in there for the listener to explore and decipher. There are also hints of positivity and ‘a light within the darkness’, but we’ll let the listeners uncover this. I mean, different things resonate with different people, and some will find meaning where others won’t, so we won’t spoil the discovery!
Musically, we stayed around the Melodic and Epic style, although we have been told that there are large elements of Prog and NWOBHM in there also. We really tried to bring the guitars more out front and we focused on expanding the scope and depth of guitars. This really suits John style of vocals. John has a great dynamic range in his voice and the music has been able to mould around his style, and vice versa. I think for people who’ve heard the previous records, they’re going to be able to hear our definitive Old Season sound, but they’re also going to hear some surprises with how we pushed out the boundaries from the previous records. And like the other recordings, the more you listen to the songs, the more the narratives and musical themes become clearer

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Since 2005 at Dublin when you've first recorded the ‘Volume One’ until now after 12 years of limited but triumphant appearances what left for you to wait and hope for ?

Loads! We want to return to Greece soon! We’d like to expand our base within Europe within the next year and we’re also working on the next record with the aim of hitting the studio in 2019

 

A small message to the Greek fans please?

We’d all like to thank the Greek fans for the amazing support given to us throughout the years. You have been some of our biggest supporters outside Ireland and we will always have a strong bond. You hold a special place in the band’s heart. We hope to see you all again soon and look forward to meeting old and new friends there next time.

 

In our music lists are already playing the «Scavenger» long before ask you for interview. Can you tell us 2 more songs of the band that are your favourite to put it in our lists?

I think we all agree on ‘Nevermore’. It gets tricky after that, as we may have different songs we prefer. I’ll go with ‘A New Dawn’ next.

 

Old Seaon will be with us in Athens on March 15 and 16, 2019. We will be there to meet them. Stay alert…

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Interview Editors : Danny Abas, Peppy Panou

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