💿 Hi,it’s a pleasure for us to have on Hardrockheavymetal of JOE SIMS and GEOFF McGRAW of AXEMASTER, a well-known name in US METAL history!!
JOE: Thanks a lot for the kick ass intro! Even after all these years, it's still unreal to me that people look at my work with Axemaster as being significant in the history of the music that has been such a huge part of my life since I was a kid. I have been a die-hard metal fan most of my life, and have worked my ass off at it for a lot of years, so to know that other fans view my work in a historical way means a hell of a lot to me! It's so damned cool to know that I have created a legacy in music!!!!!! GEOFF: Joe asked me to come along on this for another voice, thanks for having us Giovanni. 💿 Let’s start talking about the early days of the band..When is this all begun? Which bands have influenced you?
JOE: I started Axemaster as a band in '85, but I had used the name a year or so before on a demo tape I made that was basically just a solo thing to let people hear some of my tunes. When I actually put a band together a little while later to play some of those tunes, the name just stuck. As far as influences go, through the first couple years of the Axe, my main ones were probably Sabbath, Dio, Ozzy, Maiden, and Savatage. Then in the late 80's I started to also get into some thrash, so around that time bands like Metallica and some Slayer were added to my list of influences. If you check out all the old Axe releases in order you can hear that progression in my writing, little by little over time there is more of a thrash influence in a lot of what I wrote. It seems like the older I got, the more thrashy music I got into, but I never stopped also being majorly influenced by the traditional metal that started the whole thing for me.
💿 On November 24th will be out your new full-length CRAWLING CHAOS. Can you tell us somethin’about this platter and its composition process? We had the privilege to listening to in preview this new album and we’re very satisfied! A right combination of classic/power metal and somethin’ modern, a work respectful of the past but looking to the future..
JOE: I appreciate your cool comments about the new album, that's pretty much EXACTLY the way we hope the fans will think of it!!!! The way a lot of the songs were written is that I would put together demo songs from riffs I wrote, recorded them in my studio, and played them for the other guys at rehearsal to see what they thought. We would take the ones that everyone wanted to use and work on them as a band; sometimes would add, delete, or change some parts, arrange everything, then Geoff wrote the lyrics. But there is also a song that Geoff wrote most of the music for, and another that we all wrote together from scratch at rehearsal, so overall the writing was a band effort that shows off everyone's individual influences and style, which I think turned out to be a very cool combination! Then also throw in the new version of the old Axe tune "Death Before Dishonor", and I think "Crawling Chaos" has a diverse collection of songs, each having its own unique "feel", while still having an overall consistent style throughout the album. Plus, us adding Damin Bennett as a second lead player also made quite a difference. It's the first time the band has ever had a dual axe attack and having 2 guitarists with somewhat different styles both doing leads I think makes a lot of the stuff a little more interesting. GEOFF: Don't forget that Damin provided the instrumental on the album as well, and I think that is a really cool addition. As far as the song for which I wrote the music it was great to see what everyone added to it, and between the bunch of us we altered the end to give it more impact, but the concept as a whole remained the same so I am particularly proud of it. As far as the lyrical content of this album, unlike the last one this one is a bit more diverse, where on "Overture" I was in a specific frame of mind that colored everything, this one has a lot of different topics. The album as a whole still has that darkness, but it's not all depression and death this time....lol.
JOE: Geoff is absolutely right about Damin's song "Mysify the Dream Hypnotic", it definitely deserves to be mentioned here!!! It's an instrumental featuring clean & distorted guitar with keyboards; Damin not only wrote the entire song, but he also played everything on it. It was great to be able to include the tune, not just because it's a very cool piece of music that has some really interesting and complex guitar work, as well as being a kick ass change of pace to break the album up; but it was cool to be able to include something Damin wrote because he joined the band after the tunes for the album were already pretty much written so, although he was able to add some killer guitar parts to a lot of the tunes that really spiced a lot of the stuff up and made it a lot more interesting, he wasn't able to be involved in the main writing process. He will DEFINITELY be VERY involved in the writing for the next album, he already has some kick ass riffs ready to go! 💿 Also this album will be out via PURE STEEL RECORDS. Can you tell us somethin’about the relationships with this label?
JOE: Pure Steel has always treated us well, especially me personally. Before we even signed with them, they knew I was producing/mixing/mastering the album that became "Overture to Madness" in my personal studio, which is something I was told that they DO NOT like their bands to do. But even without knowing me very well, they put a lot of faith and trust in me to go ahead and sign the band knowing the circumstances. I'm really proud that I didn't let them down and was able to produce an album with quality sound! What also really means a lot to me is that they have always listened to all my suggestions about different things, and actually ended up using most of what I suggested. Overall, everyone there has always treated me in a very friendly way, a lot of the time it has felt more like working with friends than business associates, which is damned rare in the music business!!!
💿 The real “news” in music industry is the return of vinyl; What’s your feeling about this classic format and the current music business? What’s your opinion about the renewed interest for classic hard’n’heavy?
JOE: I LOVE BOTH!!!! When I first started in music, it was a REALLY BIG DEAL when a band was able to put out a vinyl album on a record label. It kind of gave the feeling that the band had "made it". So when Azra Records put out the "Blessing" album on vinyl it was like a dream back then! I honestly never thought my music would be on vinyl again, but to have 19 of the old tunes on a vinyl double album is AMAZING! You are right, classic/traditional metal has definitely made a big time time come-back, which is awesome! It's a perfect time for a band like us, so it's great timing for us to have have the new album and vinyl coming out, and that the band is at its all-time best!!!!!
GEOFF: I think having vinyl around is great for the nostalgia of it all, of course it will not replace CD and digital, but having the large format makes reading the liner notes and looking at art become part of the experience once more.
💿 Can you tell us somethin’about your next live projects to promote the new album?
JOE: There are a couple of tour possibilities that I'm working on, but nothing is sure enough for me to talk about. Hopefully we can get some kind of tour going, but if not or not right away, we will surely play as many cool shows as we can in the meantime to support the album! Personally, the main thing I want to do is play in Europe. Hopefully we will be able to do that as well at some point!
GEOFF: It simply kills me that we haven't been able to get over the pond yet, so any promoters reading this, we are ready!
💿 Thank you so much for your time! See you soon on HARDROCKHEAVYMETAL!
JOE: Thank YOU for the interview and wanting to hear my ramblings!!!!!!
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And I always like to give a shout out to all the kick ass metal fans worldwide. YOU are the reason we are able to have success playing the music we love, and will never forget that YOU are why we are able to be where we are.
AXEMASTER SALUTES YOU!!!!!!