Due to the ‘internet eating my homework’, this year’s Bloodstock only saw fit to grant me a ‘Review Pass’, which in essence entitled me access to everything but a room full of people charging their laptops and a small fenced area outside. Darren Brookes of Benediction fame was good enough to transcend that boundary for long enough to exchange a few drunken platitudes…
DarrenAlright! [steps around fence]
OneMetalOh thanks, that’s saved me a job.
DarrenSaved me a job too [looks disdainfully at assembled performers]. This ain’t gonna be your normal rock star interview, you know that?
OneMetalYeah, well my mate Jack interviewed Dave and…
DarrenAlthough that’s not bad [stares at scantily clad lady].
OneMetalYou’re right, that’s not bad. [Darren continues to stare lecherously...] OK, now there’s rock star interviews and then there’s just fucking off in the middle of an interview!
OneMetalAnyway, i’ve got some shit to ask you, so, it’s been four years since Killing Music. Any plans for a new album?
DarrenWell, Killing Music we, err… [eyes wander]
OneMetalAhem, attention please!
DarrenOh sorry. Well we’ll be recording soon, it’ll be released in maybe February or March, and then we’ll do the festival thing again, and that’s the plan as it stands.
OneMetalLast I saw of yourselves was at Hellfest. How does playing the UK festivals compare to playing on the continent?
DarrenThe weird thing is we’re better received in Europe, we often get better billings as well.
OneMetalWell, yeah you’d have to have gotten up pretty early in the day to catch you today.
DarrenAbsolutely. On the continent we get a lot more recognition for our twenty five years. Here We’re playing below bands that haven’t had anything out in fifteen years. But you take it on the chin, and still get bumped down and bumped down. We’re playing before bands that haven’t even done a live gig or a festival before, and it just feels a bit disrespectful. So we look out at 10:50 and there’s no one there. I say to the lads “we might’ve fucked up here, we could have a problem”. Then by 11:00 the place is full. Two songs in we’ve got a circle pit going at that time. The organisers told me they’d never seen that happen for the first band on the main stage before.
But still you see write-ups from festivals that are like “this band does this, this band does this” and then “Benediction are aggressive as ever”. They’ve clearly just gone to the bar whilst we played, and it hurts my feelings sometimes.
OneMetalYou’ve been associated with Anvil, covering one of their tunes before, are you stoked to be on the same bill finally?
DarrenWell I remember the first time we played with Anvil in about ’92. We gave them a drum skin and they signed it for us and sent it to my house! When we first saw them at With Full Force or Wacken or wherever it was, we said “shall we go speak to them”? And before you know it we’re chatting away to Robb and Lips like it’s nothing. They’re such lovely guys. I’ve seen that film of theirs and you know what? If there was a death metal version of Anvil we’d be it. And they’re so down to earth.
OneMetalYeah, I’ve met Lips and Robb before too and they’re great guys, just doing it for the fun of it really aren’t they? Never taken themselves too seriously. As far as the band associations go, you had a close relationship with Death, I’m sure our readers would like to hear a little about what Chuck Schuldiner was like.
DarrenWell, when we did the first tour with them we’d heard stories about his arrogance and his attitude, but I tell you what, he wasn’t arrogant, he was just confused. He was very paranoid about what people were saying about him. Now, we in Benediction don’t suffer any kind of egos, we’re just having a laugh. Now, after two days on tour with us Chuck starting coming out of his shell. Then their next tour rolls around and they’re asked who they wanna go out with? Benediction! He was such a lovely guy, but because of his paranoia he was really inside his own shell all the time, and because of that, people perceived him as arrogant, when he wasn’t. He was such a lovely guy. And such a shame that someone could be like that, unable to express themselves. I mean we couldn’t give a shit.
OneMetalI’m getting that.
DarrenWe did some shows with Deicide, and you know we heard beforehand that “they’re like this and they’re like that”. We didn’t give a fuck, we got in, late, and got the stereo going, hit the Jack Daniels and that was it. Anyway after the show Glen comes up and he’s bought us a bottle of Jack Daniels! He says “I’ve never heard you before but you were really good”.
Like I say we hate egos. At the end of the day we’re no different, we’re just the same, we’re punters, but I’m just in a very privileged position to be here. We got lucky getting picked up because of the demos, I’m dead lucky. But we hate the thought of being rock stars. I fucking hate rock stars. You know, we’re not Def Leppard! I hate when bands sell a few albums and this and that and then suddenly they’re saying “I want this and I want that”.
OneMetalWell, exactly, I mean what’s all this fence shit about? Do you know a guy actually said to me that I might have to do the interview over the fence?
DarrenYeah this fence is bullshit! You know, people sell a few albums and they think they’re better than you, but it’s you buying the albums so how the fuck does that make anyone better than anyone else? I hate rock stars man, and if I see ‘em I have a tendency to tell ‘em!
OneMetalFair do’s man. So, moving along, what’s the key to your longevity?
DarrenThe fact that we don’t do this for money, the fact that we don’t do this to be on magazine covers. When we started it was because there was a metal scene on the underground in Birmingham. And it might’ve been on a small scale, but it’s the same whether we play to ten people or a hundred thousand people. The record labels say “you might sell more if you do this”, I don’t give a fuck!
OneMetalExactly, at least you kept your integrity.
DarrenDamn right. We might not’ve made a lot of money at it and everything, but i’m not bothered. At the end of the day i’m just happy to be here.
OneMetalWell, speaking of covers, as we were, you’ve covered Anti Nowhere League as well. Do you ever worry that that’s becoming a bit ‘cool’?
DarrenWell when we were growing up there wasn’t so much metal to be influenced by, so I listened to a lot of punk, ’cause punk’s just like a kick in the balls right? So when we started playing, it was pretty much punk. We’re only death metal ’cause people say we are, and ’cause of the vocals. And we have a similar outlook as well. It’s not about money or fame, it’s just about this; playing having a good time. Do as much as you can in your life, you know? I never want to get to a position where I lose sight of that.
OneMetalWell, by the sound of things, you’re not gonna do any time soon. So tell us about your punk influence, and how this compares in importance to your metal influences. Is there a clear winner?
DarrenNo, not at all. We listen to all sorts you wouldn’t believe, like dance music! We barely ever listen to death metal on the bus, you know we do it all day, I don’t wanna do it all night as well. As a band our biggest influence is Benediction.
OneMetalSo lots of Benediction on the bus then? So I had a question which is more for Dave really, since you never know who you’re interviewing until the last minute. Since Anaal Nathrakh are also playing, does Dave have any plans to do anything else with Mistress?
DarrenNo, Mistress won’t happen.
OneMetalWhy do you say that?
DarrenThey’re gonna do an off-gig in Birmingham and then that’s it as far as I know.
OneMetalSo Dave doesn’t look in a good way with his leg. What happened there?
DarrenIt’s gout! We tried to think of something interesting like he was in an explosion or something, but no, it’s gout!
OneMetalOK, cheers for that.
DarrenGood to meet you mate, i’ll see you about no doubt.
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