There’s much more of a scene here for progressive metal…
Over a pint in The Gryphon, I caught up with Irishmen Shattered Skies ahead of their set.
Thanks for coming guys, I’ve been looking forward to this since Bloodstock 2012, which was awesome, and the Reanimation EP – It’s been one hell of a journey, hasn’t it?
Ross (drums): Absolutely. It’s been a long one. We’ve lost a person along the way, and gained another one [gestures at Jim, bass]. We’ve released an album that we’ve been working on for the best part of two years. Moved to England! We were kind of stranded in Ireland, music-wise. When you saw us at Bloodstock, we were still living over there. Just to travel over for that one festival cost us each about 150 Euros. We just decided we needed to move over here to get closer to the scene. This tour wouldn’t have been possible if we didn’t live over here. We’ve always wanted to move over here really, so we finally got our shit together and decided to get it done.
Many would see the move as a big gamble, but you all believe it has paid off in the long run?
Ian (guitar): Oh, absolutely. It was never going to be a quick and easy thing, there were a lot of logistical issues to work out, with getting our lives together over here, but in the long run for sure, we’ve had way more opportunities. The fact that we can do a tour like this, we could only do here. To do so from Ireland would have involved multiple plane journeys, ten tonnes of planning, whereas here it involves much less. There’s also much more of a scene here for progressive metal, so it just makes much more sense for us to base ourselves here.
The whole move was obviously a huge amount of upheaval. Did it have a profound effect on your song writing and the way you compose music?
Ian: It will! The funny thing is, the album we’ve just put out, The World We Used To Know, we’d been sitting on the music for a while. We had really committed to it, so we wanted to put it out as an album even though we’ve been writing newer stuff. The stuff we’ve written now, post move, will be on the next record, so it’ll be interesting to see what the next record will be like. It’ll be much more of a reaction to the transition process.
Ross: We had to move and get new jobs, so there was a lot of stress and and took a lot of time to get our stuff together.
Sean (vocals): It was just about getting our lives together! Then the album came.
Ross: But we’ve all got a lot of stuff written, so I’d say the next album is a good 60% there. The beauty of Shattered Skies is that we’re a very self contained unit. We do everything ourselves, so time isn’t really an issue when it comes to getting our stuff done. We really feel you can get the best results when you can eliminate money from the equation, and just work at it until it’s finished.
Sure. You mentioned that a lot of the new album’s material was already there, but regarding the title in particular, ‘The World We Used To Know’, is it self-referential or autobiographical?
Ross: Moderately! The idea had come before the move, but it became more relevant, and we certainly tweaked a lot of the album, thematically, based on what we’d experienced. So yeah, it’s like a self-fulfilling prophecy.
Ian: The album artwork, of a guy reaching into the unknown, is essentially what we’ve had to do to get where we are now. So yeah, it’s all tied in together.
Absolutely. It’s all self produced, right? [nods around the table] The production side is really self-evident, it sounds like you put a lot of time and effort into that side of things.
Sean: Ross did!
Ross: A lot of time smashing my head against a wall! If you really want to go into the production that’s a whole different story. I think the next album will be a big step up again.
The album kind of feels like it’s a world away from Reanimation. Don’t get me wrong, that EP was great and everyone enjoyed it. It certainly feels like you moved a long way, really quickly.
Ian: Well, there was a lot of work put into this record. With Reanimation, we effectively rushed it out as quickly as possible. Sean joined the band in January 2011, and it was out by May. So in contrast to this album, we shot it out really quickly.
Sean: This was the first time I had joined a proper band. I had come from musical theatre and cover bands. So with metal? Let’s just say I had no fucking clue. It was a different world for me. So when we were doing Reanimation, I don’t think I was ready. I’d like to re-record it in later years. Maybe a tenth anniversary or something!
It’s certainly been a bloody long haul. You must be delighted to be finally touring the new one.
Ross: Oh, yeah! We’ve definitely been wanting to do an actual tour, as opposed to a lot of isolated shows that we’ve been doing. We’ve never really done more than two or three shows in a row, so now we’re doing a week’s worth, it’s just great.
So now you’re halfway through, and it seems to have gone well so far. Now that you’re here in our wonderful Bristol, have you had a chance to explore the city at all?
Ross: No, we just drove straight in from the motorway. But we saw some, like the bridge. It looks great! I wish we were staying here longer. We should have some time to look around tomorrow. Maybe we’ll have a drive around.
Ian: That’s so Irish. “We’ll go for a nice drive! Why don’t we drive around and look at stuff? That’ll be grand.” [laughter all around]
Considering it’s at the beginning of the year now, it’s been a great start for you guys. A tour and a new album. What’s next?
Ross: Yeah, we’re really pushing for festivals. I think our biggest problem right now as a band is that we don’t really have management, in terms of people who will get in touch with festivals or book tours for us. Since we were doing everything else by ourselves, we haven’t had the chance to find the right person. We have PR, but we’re really looking for a booking agent. We’ve had a couple of festival offers anyway though, and we’re definitely going to try to do as many as possible. We’ll probably do a second leg of this tour too, up north. This one has just been the south of England, so we’d like to tour the north, and Scotland too.
Awesomesauce. Thanks for joining us guys, I look forward to your set.
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The upstairs of The Gryphon is well attended by the time Shattered Skies rock up and launch into lead single ‘The End and the Rebirth’. They’re immediately on great form, with Sean hitting superb pitch, Ross delivering perfect kicks, and stringsmen Ian and Jim running spider-like hands over their fretboards. The band as a whole are commanding, imposing, and unfathomably tight. As the grooves of ’15 Minutes’ shake through us, I wonder if I’m watching a band destined for very special things indeed, and whether I’ll be able to brag about this tiny intimate show in a few years’ time.
We’re treated to a couple of oldies in ‘Beneath the Waves’, and ‘Attrition’, which as well as going down superbly amongst the crowd as a whole, feel like a wonderful throwback to the time I discovered this lot at Bloodstock Open Air, in the summer of 2012. More choice cuts from the new album close the set out, and the band leave having made several new friends. These lads have come a long way over the last couple of years, and I’m confident there’s much more to come.
Check out ‘The End and the Rebirth’ right here: