OneMetalSo, how’s it going?
Shane:Good. We’re a couple of shows in and getting better and better.
OneMetalSo where was yesterday?
Shane:That was Aberdeen, Scotland, and that was the best show we’ve played in Aberdeen. It’s been at least a couple of years since we played there. The old saying applies though, like you say about women ; ‘absence makes the heart grow fonder.’ People were stoked to see us because we hadn’t played in a while.
OneMetalA very versatile idiom; it applies to both women and Scotland! So, I was wondering about your influences; obviously a lot of old school stuff in there, which puts your sound somewhat at odds with the contemporary metal scene.
Shane:Absolutely, I mean our influences range far and wide. There’s the obvious ones that I probably don’t even have to mention, but we gravitate towards the dual lead guitar bands, like Thin Lizzy, early Judas Priest, Iron Maiden. For me though, I always go back to Reign in Blood, …And Justice For All, they’re kind of my benchmarks for precision right-hand playing. But we do try and keep it fresh, you know? I don’t really listen to a lot of metal like you’d think I would listening to what we play.
OneMetalSo, more about the classic rock then?
Shane:Yeah, lots of classic rock, also a lot of stuff that’s much heavier. I love Entombed, Nihilist and often listen to Enslaved. There’s also this band from Louisiana, Goatwhore that I listen to once in a while [glances over at Goatwhore playing cards].
OneMetalOh, yeah, total hacks I hear!
Shane:Yeah, I met some of those guys once [smiles]. I think metal’s like food; you can’t just eat peanut butter sandwiches for breakfast, lunch and dinner. It’s important to have broad tastes, and depending on how you’re feeling or what kind of day you’ve had, you just have to listen to what has to be listened to.
OneMetalYou can certainly hear more diversity in the new record Long Live Heavy Metal, with more Deep Purple creeping in. Would you attribute that to your broad tastes?
Shane:Oh yeah, for sure. And it helps when you have two guys writing as well, and Justin’s got just as broad tastes as I do. He’s also an accomplished keyboard player, so that’s where the Deep Purple and Rainbow stuff comes in. I know what you’re talking about there, that song ‘Look Out’ right? That’s actually a Dio tribute.
OneMetalWell sure, hence the name.
Shane:Right, but you wouldn’t believe how many people don’t get the references in the songs. But to go back to the influences, we also have a song called ‘Die for Gold’ which has some old Bay Area thrash kind of riffs, and also the instrumental ‘Chief of the Blade’ which goes to my acoustic influences. I love a lot of bluegrass, and I was brought up on a twelve-string guitar and mandolins. I also love Led Zeppelin, so there’s a lot of acoustic lead stuff there. So that kind of breaks it up nicely for the metal head! Like ‘Orchid’ on Master of Reality. Having an acoustic interlude just breaks up the chaotic metal nicely.
OneMetalHow do you maintain any continuity? You’ve had a lot of lineup changes, I believe it’s only one, or no original members left now?
Shane:If you want to get really technical and go back to when we were like young teenagers, garage bands – since the band became a serious touring band, Cam’s the original. The way I look at it, the core of the band’s been the same – we had a second vocalist from the beginning until he quit in 2004, which made the band a little more streamlined and focused – having a lead singer, that definitely helped the band, then we had a drummer change. Ash is the first drummer in the history of the band to play on two albums back to back. Then we had a rotating bass player. Justin and I played bass on the records. So basically I look at it like – somebody leaves the band because they can’t tour – we’re a touring band. It may seem like a cool idea and you may see a great opportunity, but after two months and you want to go home, and you’re not going home… I’ve seen it happen. The last two bass players quit – that’s the way it is, being a lifer, as well as a touring band – you’re either gonna do it or you’re not. So with all the line-up changes, you essentially weed out the weak and get together the strong. So, now; it’s the first time we’ve had the same line-up for two records, which is why I think this record is as strong as it is. It’s because there’s no getting to know a new member, no time wasted working in a new member when you could spend that time writing new songs. And just, having the line-up the way it is, the album wrote itself in like a month. We wrote and recorded the album in just under three months, which is fast for us. We’re all on the same page – I had a really interesting conversation with Shane Embury from Napalm Death because our bands mirror each other with the same line-up thing – because they have no original members. If you want to get technical about it, he joined for side two of Scum, but he’s not on the first side of the record . And he mentioned that people make note of that, then you’ve got your total elitists- he said “fuck people like that, chances are if your band’s still alive then spirit’s stronger than it was in the first place”. So I look to him, he’s like one of my heroes.
OneMetalSo have you had any backlash from your ex-members not being on board anymore? Or from fans?
Shane: You wouldn’t believe it, I don’t pay too much attention but it’s hard not to. You get your teenagers, the internet, leaving comments and shit. The one that we laugh about the most is ‘bring back Jamie’ [Hooper, original second vocalist] – people say “I listened to the new album, bring back Jamie, the songs aren’t written properly”- we laugh about that because Jamie never wrote a fucking song in his life. If anything, his voice was buried in the background. It’s funny that that’s one thing that we hear. It is what it is, you see videos, you see pictures, you see Youtube stuff. You know certain members appear like they have really quite a presence in the band. Not taking anything away from Jamie, as he did have a big part in the band in the early days. And you know he has a distinct way of singing, aside from Jamie, we haven’t really had much, like – our last two bass players, no one has even noticed those guys changed (laughing). That’s the rule of the bass player up until now.
Shane:Like I said before – Justin and I are actual bass players. We play on the record, but Byron Stroud is our actual bass player; he’s a Vancouver guy, where we’re from – I’ve known him for around 15 years – he’s this accomplished bass player who we’ve worked with on the business side of stuff. His schedule freed up when we needed him. We were originally going to get another touring guy, but then Byron’s schedule freed up and we all know him really well. There were no stranger anxiety issues. So he’s an official member now. So that’s a new chapter for the band really. It’s nice to have someone who knows what he’s doing – he’s been on about a thousand more tours than we have! He started touring really young, and he’s a little older than us so he’s been touring since like 1989/90 or something.
OneMetalYeah, So like a seasoned vet compared to you guys?
Shane:Yeah, it’s kind of like a hockey team – or, you know, a football team – you’ve got your veterans. You need that on the team for experience, you know. It’s good. It’s a good thing.
OneMetalSo going back a little bit to what we were talking about earlier, about Jamie leaving, a lot of people assume that he was kind of the extreme metal element of the band as he was literally the vocalisation of that side of 3 Inches. And since he left, you seem to have gone down a more classic rock path, so would you say that perhaps there’s less of an extreme metal influence – and how much is Jamie’s departure responsible for that?
Shane:I’d say no and this is why – it’s because (and this is just for the hardcores who want to know), rewind it to Advance and Vanquish, that album is very, very Iron Maiden – this is before Justin and I were in the band. The previous song writers had less of a broad influence. It was very Iron Maiden, very, you know ‘Hallowed be Thy Name’ in every song, pretty much. You know Cam and Jamie both equally sang on that stuff. Enter Justin and myself for Fire Up The Blades, the introduction of some black metal influence from Justin – he played in a black metal band called Allfather (http://www.myspace.com/allfather). Enter our type of influence, the real heavy, blackened, some death metal influence too, that we wrote for Jamie to sing on, you know, using our broad influences, getting everyone’s strengths writing some still-blazing Priest kind of shit. Black kind of stuff for Jamie, putting it all in a melting pot and letting everyone do their thing.
And then Jamie left and it was one of those things – we don’t like to repeat ourselves. [two inhebriated fans knock on the tour bus window trying to peer through wearing English Dogs T-Shirts]. Oh look, the English Dogs! Anyway, we just didn’t want to repeat ourselves. We didn’t want to do Fire up the Blades again – it’d be creatively stifling for us. You’re always dammed if you do, damned if you don’t with fans anyway. Jamie had left, but we had decided to take a chance and do something quite a bit different with the next record. That had a very seventies Rainbow /UFO type of sound. It was a drastic musical change in the first place – not super drastic, just recording and everything. It would make sense for someone to say “Oh Jamie left, they sound way different. It must have been Jamie.” But as I was jokingly saying before, I was being truthful, Jamie diid not write any music. I would say the heaviest influence in the band is Justin. I don’t know if you’re familiar with Allfather?
OneMetalOneMetal: Can’t say that I am.
Shane:I’d say to do some homework on that, then you’d get where I’m coming from. So I guess I would be second in line as far as heavier influences go. But it is what it is, fans through the history of the band have liked different elements of the band. Everyone can like what they want, but whenever I hear “Bring back Jamie” I’m like “WHY GOD WHY?” If anything he was bringing everyone down, like fucking bumming everyone out. He owned up he didn’t like touring anymore, that’s really why he left.
At the time we were on Roadrunner and we were always on some weird probationary thing with them, because of the big line-up changes. So when Jamie wanted to leave, it was under the guise of having vocal problems, but he had just had it, he didn’t wanna tour anymore. That’s an exclusive right there for you.
OneMetalMy editor’s going to be having kittens! You were saying about your probationary period on the record label, I was wondering about the less commercial elements of your music, you know you’ve got your power metal lyrics and pirate metal elements that aren’t traditionally that commercially viable…
Shane:Not really, I’d say the anti-Christian sentiments here and there are far from commercial too.
OneMetalNo, in fact I mean the whole of what 3 inches seems to stand for is ‘fuck commercialism’ ‘do what we want’, you know fuck trends. BUT on the other hand you do seem to be quite a successful, commercially viable band. How would you explain this?
Shane:Well Roadrunner, when we were on that label, especially on Advance And Vanquish, they did a great job of giving that band its initial push. That’s what they were good at at one point, breaking bands. The way they pushed ‘Deadly Sinners’ was great, but you can’t go anywhere without someone going ‘Oh you like 3 inches? Oh yeah ‘Deadly Sinners’’. So they did a good job on that, but a year after we were signed they changed their whole business thing and we all know what it’s like in the record industry, so they were scrambling to find new ways of making money. Nickleback and Slipknot are the whole reason the American office I think is still open. See, Trivium are not that big in the states – I hear they’re pretty big here.
OneMetalTrivium are massive here.
Shane:I think that they shut the office over here and in Canada, where we’re from. So everything got absorbed. Luckily, they wanted to renegotiate our contracts, which we weren’t too interested in. So that was a nice little gateway to amicably… well, we got dropped. So we were like free agents for about a year. All the while metalcore was massive. Trivium ‘s music kind of goes with what’s popular, right?
OneMetalWell, one of your first tours I saw advertised was you, Chimaira and Trivium.
Shane:It was us, Trivium and Still Remains – Christian metalcore!
[Editor's note - I actually went to see the band on this tour, at the Wolverhampton Wulfrun. I interviewed Corey from Trivium for UltimateMetal.com, and ended up running into Justin the night before the gig and taking him to the Little Civic to see a friend's band play, which ended with us both pretty hammered on whiskey. Wonder if he remembers that one? Aah, memories - PW]
Shane:But all the while I think our band have been more interested in writing what we want. Everyone’s a little older too, whereas younger people are still finding their voice.
The success we’ve had is through constant touring, rather than playing what’s popular. We’ve achieved what we’ve achieved with zero commercial input. Also since we started the internet’s really exploded with Youtube and social networking sites really becoming a great new tool for bands.
So here we still are, and the likes of Still Remains come and go, they’re not going any more ironically, and I believe The Agony Scene were on that tour, they’re not around any more. How many of these breakdown bands do you think’ll be around in a year?
OneMetalWhat, how many realistically or how many do I hope will be around? So, you have quite a diverse line up on this tour, wih elements of thrash, death, black and trad metal. How’s that been going down with audiences?
Shane:Awesome, yeah. We all share more similarities than differences. Especially with us being more of a heavy metal band, you can trace where everything comes from. With the thrash elements, which you’re a fan of judging by your sweater, Skeletonwitch are a great fucking band, fans love a package tour like this, because not every band’s the same. As a kid there’s nothing I hated more than going to see Cannibal Corpse and there’s six bands who sound exactly like Cannibal Corpse opening up! But diversity’s important, and ther’s a lot of monster guitar players on this tour. Havok, and Angelus Apatrida, they got great shredders. Then you got Goatwhore who are just out there on their own taking care of the black and death metal elements, like Celtic Frost, and I even hear some Obituary in there. Then we take care of the 3 Inches!
OneMetalSo how is the response in the UK as opposed to other parts of the world?
Shane:Really good. We have our die-hards here, and we’ll always play the same whether it’s for five or five hundred people. A couple of years ago we toured here and some of the dates were a little dicey. I think that was to do with who we were with and it was festival season, so we played a few bad dates. But London’s always amazing, Manchester too. We’ve recently played some places in the UK that are new to us like Birmingham, they really got it there. So we’ve circled the states and Canada like a fucking hundred times, but we want to concentrate on coming over here more often. Repetition is the key. Spread the word and get the music to the people.
OneMetalI’m sure a lot of people would be quite happy to hear that. I wanted to ask, but I think it’s actually before you were on board, but one of your first bits of exposure over here was actually supporting The Darkness.
Shane:That was right before my time. I joined in 2004 and that was 2003. Just having heard stories form the other guys, that was pretty key in building bridges over to the UK because The Darkness were breaking at the time. They had certain venues booked, which they had to change for bigger ones, so nothing bad came of it and people got to hear of the band. I think the one bit of stigma is that people didn’t understand the sincerity of The Darkness. Again, the falsetto thing, commercially people don’t get it. Cam sings in the same register. Not necessarily the same delivery, but people thought we were taking the piss out of metal. People from magazines aren’t always into heavy metal, but they get the assignment to go to a show, and they need something to latch onto, so that’s what they latched onto. So it was kind of a double edged sword.
OneMetalWell, yeah, my cousin actually saw you on one of those dates and he’s not a metalhead by any stretch of the imagination, but he remembers your name to this day purely because you stood out.
Shane:Yeah, it was great that it wasn’t a slow little climb here. Our name was just instantly put out on the rock scene, and that was actually before we were even signed.
OneMetalAs we were saying earlier, you could be accused of poking fun at metal some times. Let’s just get straight down to brass tacks here, you can’t have song titles like ‘Destroy the Orcs’ and not get accused of that kind of thing!
Shane:Well sure, I listen to that with a smile on my face, I totally get it. But take Dio for example, who’s my number one influence as far as fantasy-driven metal goes. Just look at the artwork on Sacred Heart, it’s all dragons and castles, but then you have Dio looking straight at you, and it’s a serious business. So I look at it that way, that we’re storytellers. We don’t take those type of songs totally seriously, but then when you go and see ‘Batman Begins’ at a theatre, how seriously can you take that? We’re at the line between storytelling, fantasy-driven metal and like Steel Panther that’s just pure pastiche. We’re definitely not out to poke fun at metal.
OneMetalHave you ever found yourself venturing a little further towards the boundary, and had to reign yourselves in?
Shane:No, the quality control really rests on Cam as he writes 90% of the lyrics and no one’s ever told him “Man, that was just silly”. We’re all on the same page. I think there’s only one time I’ve been really uncomfortable with the title of a song.
Shane:I’m not going to say, because it actually is the title of a song! But I don’t take myself so seriously that I get bent out of shape about it. So, I didn’t get my way, but hey, life goes on.
OneMetalSpeaking of which, what’s on the cards next for 3 Inches?
Shane:More touring. We’re going to tour the rest of this year and next year. We’ll definitely be back here. Within this album cycle I’d like to be back here at least three more times; once before new year and twice afterwards, with one show around festival season. After this we’re doing another run of the states with Municipal Waste which should be a good one. Then we’ll do a short week-long run in Eastern Canada. They don’t get a lot of bands there, it’s where a lot of Canada’s barren land lies. We’re playing Newfoundland for the first time which is pretty exciting. Then, I can’t say anything in print yet, but I’m really excited about the tour we have lined up for coming back here. But that one’ll have to be off the record.
OneMetalWell in that case, I’ll cut the mic and we’ll talk! Plus we’ve run over a bit there too.
Shane:No man I appreciate it, an in depth interview, set the record straight.
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