There is not much of an introduction needed for WARWOUND anymore. It is no secret SANCTUS PROPAGANDA are die hard fans of the band, but who wouldn’t, when you get musicians of your favourite bands put together into one. It was time to finally ask some questions to Damian, Stevie and Rat. Enjoy.
Note: the interview also appeared in a Polish fanzine called CHAOS W MOJEJ GŁOWIE. Here, is the English version.
SP: Warwound arrived unexpectedly in 2015 and instantly you are very busy gigging and getting loads of attention. Is it because of the line up with well known musicians from well known punk bands? I bet, not many people had known or heard Warwound before, so if it wasn’t for the members …
Stevie: Warwound was formed by Damian in 1982, prior to him joining The Varukers. After then going on to form Sacrilege he took a long hiatus from playing guitar and became an instrument maker and played other instruments and styles of music. He has always been actively involved in music and living his life on his own terms but it was time to pick up a guitar once again. Warwound was an integral part of the history of The Varukers and Sacrilege, which was a great platform for Damian and Rat to reunite and tell the world they are still angry and have something to say. Its fair to say that people are going to show interest in Warwound because the members of the band have all been actively involved in punk throughout the years and a lot of people know their other work, however, without a new record, it is just nostalgia and we are all about moving forward.
SP: Damian, what was your real intention to put Warwound back together? The impossibility to reform Sacrilege the way you wanted it to be done, the urge to play some Sacrilege stuff or simply find a new old platform to write more metallic riffs?
Damian: To be honest it was a chance meeting with Rat in a train station in Newark in the UK. We discussed playing together then and there on the platform. Rat was already working with Stevie in The Vile and they asked me to play guitar as I was initially the bass player in Warwound. I said If I was going to play guitar then I wanted Ian to play bass so I asked him and he agreed for us all to get together and jam really. We met in Nottingham, England and from that first time playing together we clicked. Sacrilege is a whole different band with its own set of logistics just like all bands and whatever happens with Sacrilege will happen if and when it’s the right time to do so and everyone is willing and able. Warwound are out there and it’s a chance to let people who never saw or heard Sacrilege to hear the songs played live again. We play a couple of Sacrilege songs and use some of the riffs from some of the others to bring in songs in the set. Sort of like a tip of the cap to Sacrilege. We do the same with one or two Varukers songs I wrote and played on in the same way but we dont always put them in the set. Its great to play the songs live again and Warwound naturally put their own spin on them, which is fun. As for writing, we don’t consciously set out to write in any particular way. All the members of Warwound are capable players with a lot of experience in songwriting so the process tends to come from all of us. It seems to work and its refreshing to have so many ideas buzzing around.
SP: Back then, the band was one of the first to incorporate metal into d-beat. Do you feel the precursor of it, in a sense?
Damian: Ha ha, I get asked this from time to time and its difficult to answer. I wouldn’t presume to say I was the precursor to anything but I’m proud of the early records I did with all the bands I played in. Like everyone at that time, I was getting into bands and the ethos and message of punk. I started writing and it evolved into what it is, I don’t do anything any different really today. When the Realms record came out, it was well received and I’m blown away by its place in the history of our scene.
Stevie: Damian is very modest and humble but I would say The realms record was in my opinion one of the most influential records to come out of that period.
SP: Why did Warwound split up in the 80s?
Damian: We werent doing that much, just kicking round the doors and Andy and myself saw an advert for The Varukers looking for a drummer and guitarist. We answered the advert and got the job so that was the main reason they split. There was another band in Lichfield, UK took the name for a short period and played some local gigs but disbanded shortly after.
SP: Your debut record contains a heavy load of wall of sound. Brutal, intense and heavy. How did you achieve it in the studio? Did you have a reference or is it 30 years of experience? Or a sound engineer?
Stevie: We gave ourselves 12 weeks from nothing to write and record this record. We are spread all over the UK so the logistics relied on writing riffs and sending them to each other so when we got together to rehearse we had plenty to work on. We never had any discussions on how it was going to sound, we just wrote together and hammered them into songs in the rehearsal room. I suppose when you put four people in a room together with that much experience something was going to happen and it did. We demoed the whole album and used it as a template when we came to record the actual record. Stu McKay recorded our album and he has a lot of experience in recording bands within this genre. We produced the record ourselves and knew what we wanted. It is a reflection of where we all are right now.
SP: You managed to produce the sound a young and angry punkers would do. Is it due to passion and devotion rather then experience or both?
Stevie: Its simply about attitude. None of us are weekend punk rockers, this is who we are, its how we live our lives, its what we see all around us every day. The music is an expression of our view of society and what is happening within it. We are obviously still full of fire.
SP: Tell us how the idea for recording Sacrilege songs with Tam came about?
Damian: I suppose it came about as a result of playing it live. Tam has seen Warwound play the Sacrilege songs live and when we approached her with the idea to record it and would she be interested in putting vocals down on it, she kindly agreed. Its kind of that simple really. Were all really happy with the way it turned out, I think we did it justice.
SP: Rat, your vocals on the record sound like nothing you’ve ever done before or do I just get this feeling due to the metal sound you achieved? Did you push yourself hard in the studio?
Rat: I never really think of punk or metal or anything like that. My job is to front the bands I play in and I wanted to approach Warwound differently to The Varukers to kind of separate the two bands and give people a slightly different style to my vocals. I believe in the words I write and I represent the whole band and its angry and aggressive and I suppose after the fellas laid down the music like they did, that was my interpretation of my part in it. I pushed myself really hard but I always do. Warwound as a band are very hands on in every part of the process so I was encouraged a lot in the studio. We all poured our hearts and souls into this record and I think you can hear it in the way it came out. I’m very happy with it.
SP: I guess it is difficult to arrange tours with you all having commitments in other bands? How do you manage? Do other bands come first?
Stevie: Logistics are complicated but if you want something bad enough and you put the work in you make it happen. Its not about priority, more about being accommodating.
SP: What is Warwound tour like? Punk style like in the old days, partying with the people or actually minding your age and hair colour?
Stevie: Ha ha, we sometimes refer to ourselves as a band of two halves. Rat and Damian are more predisposed to be up most of the night partying. There is no denying Warwound aren’t 21 anymore but we are jovial and sociable for the most part. One of the biggest parts of touring is meeting the people we are playing to and with. We are approachable people, come say hello.
SP: Touring all over Europe and US what would you say is the average age of punks on both continents these days?
Stevie: The U.K tends to have an older audience but we see people of all ages at the gigs we play worldwide. Its reassuring to know that the punk scene it all its forms will carry on past us.
SP: You function within the DIY punk scene yet you wrote Scenebullshitdotcom. What is the songs about and how do you see the scene in 2017 in UK, Europe and US? Any differences, comparisons, things we can learn and take inspiration from?
Stevie. That song came about as a reflection of what we’ve seen as a result of the rise of social media within the punk scene more than anything else really. For the first time in our history we have a platform where everyone can comment on and influence anything or anyone on any subject, 24/7. It has a huge impact on the punk scene and is clearly changing it, for better or worse, you decide. There is so much assumption and judgement on social media without ever really knowing if the source or information is actually credible. We see small bits of third party information turn into witch hunts, which seems an almost everyday thing and what is deemed acceptable/unacceptable is beamed across the world and interpreted in so many different ways with all sorts of repercussion with tabloid like reverence. There is a constant argument of complaining about the punk police versus unacceptable behaviour within the punk scene, which seems like a contradiction in terms. There will always be the argument of clothes horse v politician in punk. What we are saying in that song is don’t lose sight of what is most important, which is the unity we have built worldwide over the last 40 years. The internet has brought the D.I.Y scene closer together but its also a platform for a lot of negativity, segregation, judgement and alienation, which is a rot that can very easily spread and kill our scene if we lose sight of what we are all about.
SP: Can you recommend to other bands your favourite places and festivals to play at?
Stevie: That’s a tough one. We have been so lucky to have played so many great places and met so many amazing people. We experience the best of the punk scene in so many ways through travelling around the world and sharing in how people interpret our scene in their own unique ways. It seems ungrateful to favour one over the other.
SP: How did the split 7″ with War//Plague come about? Is it the same recording session as the LP or a different one?
Stevie: Predominantly through Andy Lefton from War//Plague. Andy is an extremely talented artist, who did the redesign of the Sacrilege Behind the Realms of madness cover. He also did the artwork for the split and our new album, Burning the blindfolds of bigots. We played with War//Plague on our last US tour and they were amazing and we got on really well. It just seemed like a natural thing to do. The recordings were done at my place, Boss Evil Studios so separate from the BBB recordings.
SP: Silence in the House of Gods – the problem of sexual abuse of children in the institution of church is a common one around the world. How to deal with conspiracy of silence when you face a powerful institution and scared to death children?
Stevie: As with all tyranny and oppression, abuse we face it through unity. The greatest hurdle to any injustice and to identifying, catching the predators of this world is enabling it and them through our silence and lack of action. Remember we have all the power in this world, it is we who choose to delegate that power to the people who have it.
SP: How much is religion a thing in everyday people’s life in UK? How religious is UK these days and what is the level of church-politicians cooperation?
Stevie: Sadly it has reared its ugly head again in the UK as the age old tool of fear and division within the people. It is being used by the elite rulers of this world through their blanket control of the media to bolster pseudo patriotism, fear and hate and the demonetisation of the Muslim community. Obviously its all about power. If you control the natural resources and the food, the tax, you control the people and the world. Its that’s simple really. The church is a tool of the state and the state is the tool of the rulers, always has been, always will be if we let it.
SP: You’ve probably been asked about Brexit many times. How do you see this in terms of good / bad for people in UK and yourself? Do we really know what it is going to be like after the exit or it is just different propaganda from different political parties?
Stevie: Brexit is a real fucking mess, It should be renamed Messxit. I have no love or trust for any government body but I think Brexit is a car crash of an idea. The UK government are so blatant in their corruption, they became complaisant and their greed and arrogance will cost the UK in so many ways it will take us back three hundred years. I’m hoping the EU tell the UK to fuck off with Brexit as they clearly don’t know what they are talking about and to come back and talk when they do.
SP: After Brexit the world learned that the majority of people in UK are intolerant to the newcomers and they immediately showed it by using violence in the streets. How is it possible that just one vote instantly triggered street violence against many British citizens only of different origin?
Stevie: There are a lot of gullible and frightened people in this world. We can see this in the rise of the right wing governments worldwide. Most people in the UK are fine with newcomers but the media presents it in a way that paints a very different picture. That being said, the medias campaign of creating fear within the general populous has been very successful. Most people are starting to become aware of this though and the wheels of change are slowly turning. Misinformation is the new religion, we must fight it at every level.
SP: Social media is the thing to use these days, also punks, anarchists use it on a large scale. Wouldn’t you say that using social media is letting people know who you are, where you are, what you are up to and what you can be up to? In other words – revealing your identity for free and not being asked to do so…
Stevie: As I said before, the internet is a blessing and a curse. Its kind of like a chainsaw put in the hands of everyone. Some will use it for the tool that it is and get the most out of it, some will hurt themselves with it accidentally and some will wipe as many out as they possibly can in the process of killing themselves with it.
It is also the greatest misinformation machine and tool for gathering information there ever was. It if only benefited the people and not served the purpose of those in power we wouldn’t ever have access to it.
SP: What are the plans for Warwound apart from touring?
Stevie: We have started preparing for the next record. These things seem to come around really quickly and we want to be prepared. We will probably look at recording august/september next year. We will be playing around the world as usual, so look out for us and come say hello.