Disorder caught up with longtime friends Thom and Ash from God Damn at the Reading Festival in 2015, chatting about their first performance at the festival, the tragedy of losing a friend and member of the band, and recording their debut album ‘Vultures’.
A long way from home (Wolverhampton) boys!
Thom Edward (guitar/vocals): Yes, we are! Is that your first question? Well, Reading is not as far as London is it? But it’s nice to be away.
Ash Weaver (drums): It’s a good thing though to be away from home for Reading Festival, that’s pretty cool!
Is it your first time here?
T: I used to come here with the Lady Fortune gang quite a lot, because Lady Fortune played here quite a lot. We used to be like “Oh my god, Lady Fortune are playing Reading festival!” And now we’re playing it so it’s pretty cool. Yeah, I came here three or four years in a row.
But it’s your first year playing?
A: It’s something that we’ve always wanted to do.
T: Yeah there’s been a couple of years where it was like “Ahh we didn’t play Reading festival this year and it would have been really nice to play”.
A: We’ve been speaking about it forever.
T: We kinda bypassed the smaller stages and now we are playing one of the bigger stages, which is pretty cool.
Yeah we just watched you, and you guys seem to me more than a band, more a sound system now! Do you agree?
T: Hahaha, cheers, thank you very much. I think it’s just part of who we are, we are just quite loud but it’s about achieving certain frequencies. We just like the songs to be as powerful as we mean them to be. I’ve never said that before! Haha.
A: We just like to play loud basically!
T: Yeah, yeah, yeah, haha.
How do you go about your writing concepts?
T: We kinda both brings ideas and then we just bash them all out really, don’t we?
A: Yeah, we’ve got no set way. Most of the time Tom will come up with an idea, but sometimes a song will come from a drum groove.
T: I prefer that. Part of why I like playing with Ash is because I like being creative from a groove. I think that’s a really important thing; You can take yourself in far more places starting with a groove. You’ve got your feel there, and that’s the important thing. On the flip side, sometimes we’ll sit at home with an acoustic guitar.
Ash, you’re looking more and more like John Bonham every day!
A: That’s a big thing to say, that just basically means I’m getting fatter! Haha. I’ve gotta live past 34 yet. I shouldn’t even joke, I f#cking love the bloke!
T: He definitely plays like Bonzo.
A: I wish I could grow a beard or a moustache like him!
So are you doing anymore festivals this year ?
T: This is our last festival this year.
What have you done prior then?
T: You can reel them off!
A: Basically, throughout the summer it’s been like a lot of European festivals. We done two or three in Holland, Welcome to the Village, Best Kept Secret, plus a few more. We done one in Belgium which was mad, one in Germany.
T: Pretty much every weekend we do UK or European festivals we did two in one day once. We did HeavyFest a couple of weeks ago, Download and stuff, and they’ve all been super fucking receptive which is really surprising and really nice. It was one of those things where I was like “I’ve got no idea who’s going to come and turn up”. You’re setting up and you’ve got like 10 people there and then you start playing and there’s loads of people there. I have to keep my head down sometimes because I’m looking at my pedals, I’m playing guitar but then I’m looking at the crowd and then there’s shit tonnes more people there!
T: Shit tonnes, I said taaans.
A: You’re getting a bit southern mate!
You’ve got real showmanship, is that because your doing a duo now?
A: Well I think it’s just because you know, you ARE playing a show so why not put a show on?
T: We do it because we enjoy it. If I’m not enjoying myself I’ll still put in maximum effort but it probably won’t be as—I’m never not enjoying myself on stage it’s only ever technical things that get me down.
A: Fuck just turning up and being miserable man, people want to see a show by a band who enjoy playing.
T: On the flip side I have enjoyed watching mardy bands in my time, but then sometimes you’re going “cheer up mate, why are you even doing this?”. There’s bands that go far more mental and put on far more of a show than us but I think that for us it’s about being honest and believable and enjoying yourself and hopefully that translates.
You are an honest band for sure. There’s this battle of the two-piece that is going on at the moment. I just think down to the wire that you are far more sincere and real.
T: Cheers man, I think we are kind of the more left of centre one. It’s one of those unfortunate things where there have always been a lot of two-piece bands but some of them have had a lot more success recently so people seem to think that it’s a fucking genre and it’s really not! It’s all different kinds of music.
How did the recording of Vultures go?
T: We took our sweet time doing Vultures!
A: We did, we kinda of sat on it for quite a long time. We took our time with it, to make sure it was right really.
T: We had several people try and mix it. And that can take a while when you’re trying to find the right people to mix it. Eventually, the guy who recorded it was the guy who ended up mixing it. We’re so fucking proud of it. It’s like I’m really chuffed that we’ve made an album that’s a body of work. I know we are not the most instantly accessible band but hopefully we can keep releasing albums. [Vultures] can be something that people come back to and then it’ll probably be people’s favourite album because it’s the most awkward one.
You said on stage that your sound guy has problems with your sound as a whole.
T: Haha, not problems, but we are not the easiest band to mix with because we’re quite loud and by being really loud you’re taking the control away from the sound man.
A: Noise police love to have a little dig as well!
T: Yeah we got told off, the noise police turn up to our shows, especially in Europe. The festival organiser came and told us to turn it down today because we are the loudest band at the whole festival, haha! It’s quite funny but it’s not intentional. It’s just a by-product of what we are. I think he took the faders down so there was no PA and was like “can you tell any difference?” It’s just one of those things you know.
So how long did it take to record the album then?
A: To be honest with you, the whole basis of the album was done in what, in a week? We just kept going back to it for a bit.
T: Yeah, we kept going back and being like “hmm is it right?” and it was our producers first rock album that he’d let somebody in on but it’s made for quite an epic album. It’s got a lot of layers and it’s textured and it’s a soundscape. It’s not actually a loud album, it’s quite a quiet album. We wanted it to be very loud and quiet, and to get that in and have very subtle textures and very huge textures also. We wanted to do like a big prog-rock album. I think we went in and wanted to do Ok Computer or something! They said “we’re going to let you make an album” and we just went crazy; it’s cool and I’m dead happy with it.
Well I hope you do venture further afield after your first album!
T: Oh yeah we definitely will, we’re always experimenting, we’re always pushing our boundaries, but I think we will never do that album again. It’s important to say that that album has been done and don’t expect that album again; it’ll still be us, it’ll still sound like us but it won’t be that album again.
How’s Dave (Copson, former Bassist) getting on?
T: Next question!
Did the exit of Dave accelerate the new dynamic?
T: No not at all, the thing is, me and Ash have been playing music together since we were very young. It was the natural thing for us to do, to just carry on.
A: It’s what we’ve always known, it’s what’s always brought us together anyway. That was all we did anyway.
T: It was therapy and it was “right, here we go”. Unfortunately, we did take off afterwards because we were just more driven than ever. Like “well, let’s just keep working really fucking hard, we don’t need to stop”.
Does that kind of heartbreak inspire you to write?
T: Some of it yeah. I don’t want to say all of it. A lot of the stuff on the first album is quite anti-Capitalist there’s a bit of that in there.
What are your political views ?
T: Personally I’m a Humanist. I used to vote Lib Dems, and obviously they shot themselves in the foot.
Are you a [Jeremy] Corbyn fan?
T: Do you know what, I was brought up in a very Labour family so that’s obviously had an affect on me. Corbyn, no comment, I don’t really know enough about him to be honest I need to go away and have a think about him.
Have you been back to play The Wolverhampton Civic?!
A: We haven’t man but fucking hell it would be great to play The Civic!
Why haven’t you been back to play the Civic?!
A: We have to sell enough tickets for it first! We have played the Slade rooms.
T: When we get to the next level that’ll be the biggest tick off the box ever, headlining The Civic.
You played The Civic with your original band Your Biggest Fan Club?
T: Yeah we played, as Your Biggest Fan Club with Pigeon Detectives. I think the sound was really bad for us. We turned up, this really inexperienced band, and they were like “oh so you haven’t brought a sound man?” and we were baffled. “do you wanna have some monitors?...well you’re going to have to pay for some monitors”. The money that we got for our gig paid for our monitors! We are a lot more experienced now.
Does the history of heavy metal in the Midlands influence your music now?
T: I think so, I’m not going to deny that at all, we are pretty much a mixture between Slade and Black Sabbath really aren’t we?!
A: I think it’s just one of those you can’t get away from. We don’t sit and listen to it constantly. Of course there’s some stuff that I was exposed to as a kid, but there’s a load more other stuff as well.
T: It’s that dilapidated industrial part of town that we used to practice in so I think that’s got a bit of influence. I’m a firm believer in if you pick up a pink guitar you’re going to play a different song than if you pick up a black acoustic. It does influence you, I don’t care what people say, unless they’re writing blindfolded or something.
So what else influences you apart from music?
T: Hmmmm, friends and family. Listening to them and to new people that we meet.
A: It’s kind of hard as a drummer really, apart from music what influences me? In a total different way, it’s just support from my friends and family in doing what I do.
T: Friends and family like our band now. At first they’re like “what’s this horrible noise?” and then they figure out that it’s alright. My mum used to hate it but now she’s totally into it. It’s quite cool really.
So what have you got left to do this year?
A: Well, throughout the year we’ve pretty much toured non-stop. But we’ve got a bit of a break now until September when our UK headline tour starts. Starts on the 28th of September, it’s pretty much the longest time off we’ve had this year. But we will still be keeping busy one way or another.
T: Yeah, we’ll be finishing writing the next one and ready to record. If there’s any time off we have, we’ll be writing and finishing stuff off.
Are you going to be releasing something a bit smaller like an EP?
T: People keep saying this, like “an EP would be a great idea”. I think it would be quite cool.
A: Nothing’s been discussed on anything like that.
T: We’ve been doing some demoing and recording, stuff like that. But that’s something we’ve always done anyway. But no direct initiative on what’s next.
A: Thing is, Vultures only came out 3 months ago so we’re still touring that really!