Friday, May 24, 2013

Posted by \m/ The Power of the Riff \m/ | File under :

Bakken for me are with out a doubt one of the best bands around at the moment flying the flag for all that is good and down right blinding about metal, whatever label you want to give it. I prefer to call it the new wave of awesome metal or NWOAM for short. The band play what can only be described as a blend of all that is classic and true about the metal genre. The young band who's debut album"Death of a Hero" has been creating a proverbial storm through the metal underground since it's release in 2012 and was one of the albums of the year for ThePower of the Riff, have
been good enough to take the time to answer some questions for us.

TPOTR - How has the response to the album been so far?
Overall its been great :-) We offered the album as a free download to get our name out there and have sold way more CDs than we thought we would. Reviewers like yourself have have been very kind.

TPOTR - Did you expect to create such a reaction amongst fans, your music seems to have struck a chord with metalheads looking for straight up metal they can get their teeth stuck into and just enjoy the beauty of listening to pure metal flowing.
To be honest no! [laughs] we didn't expect such an overwhelming response, in fact we didn't know what to expect at all, having not released anything previously. All the members of Bakken grew up listening to metal (pretty much exclusively!) and its still a big part of our lives, I probably speak for all Bakken members when I say I was always drawn more towards the classic metal bands like Maiden, Megadeth, Thin Lizzy, Ozzy etc. And that hasn't changed. Most of the modern stuff just doesn't do it for me!
For us there was no preconceived plan to write a strictly 'classic metal only' influenced album, but as a metal fan Ive just been kind of waiting for the glory days of Metallica, Helloween, Priest etc to return and have been dying to hear some new metal that isn't all about shouting and breakdowns! [ha] I guess that was a main driving factor behind forming Bakken, just to make some music that Ive been dying to hear myself for 

TPOTR - Tell us a bit about the history of the band, how did the Bakken story begin?
Actually, its quite a mental story, it even got published in our biggest National newspaper in Northern Ireland :-) In short, I had another life in England as an academic studying birds, but I fell very ill with lyme disease after being bitten by infected ticks. I came back to Northern Ireland (where I grew up) to recover. My old pal Mark-Anthony (who I wasted most of my teenage years partying and learning guitar with) had actually returned back home too after his brother was murdered a couple of years before, I was surprised to see that he still played guitar and so we jammed quite a bit. For me forming the band initially just seemed like a good way of taking my mind off things because I was very ill. We sought out Niall to have a jam with as he was well known as 'the best drummer in town', he was actually trying to sell his drum kit because he was going to give up playing! Just as well he didn't, because my jaw nearly hit the floor when I saw what he could do :-) As I got a bit better we started playing small small gigs in the local area, by that stage we had found a singer (Neil McIvor) and Brian O'Kane on bass. We played a mix of covers, mostly Maiden, Priest, Metallica etc, then I started to write originals. Eventually we parted ways with Neil and I reluctantly stepped up to the mic (basically because we couldn't find anyone else!). Since then we've been playing more and more further afield and of course recorded the album, its all happened rather fast! :-)

TPOTR - What is the scene like in Ireland, do you feel more isolated from the rest of mainland Europe, for example touring opportunities must be harder to find with all of the major festivals in the metal callandar taking place for the most part in mainland Europe?
Its a fairly small scene in Ireland (as with the rest of the UK), but there are a stunning number of decent bands over here. We are isolated from the main touring circuits on mainland Europe, but once our new bass player (Adrian Stockman) is over his surgery we will plan an assault! We definitely will focus on getting to Mainland Europe (e.g. Germany) as much as possible.

TPOTR - Ireland seems to be a country left out when it comes to the history of metal but the island has seen some great bands come and go over the years "Sweet Savage","Thin Lizzy", and "Primordial"  to name a few and now add "Bakken" to that legacy. Why to you think this
is, it's certainly not got to do with the quality of the music?
To be honest I'm not sure but you definitely have a point. If anything I think the quality of grass roots/underground rock and metal here is unrivalled, but its certainly difficult to get noticed by the mainstream media when you are stuck on a thinly inhabited rock on the edge of the Atlantic! [ha] Obviously I'm joking, actually I think its easier for bands now to get noticed regardless of your location with the aid of the Internet, but yes I think Irish bands have generally been overlooked in the past.

TPOTR - You decided to release the album yourselves independently this seems to be the road taken by a lot of bands  these day's, was this your choice or did it come out of necessity?
A bit of both. Obviously 'getting signed' is every bands dream, but record labels are signing less bands now than ever because of lost revenue from illegal downloading. As an unknown new band its difficult to attract attention from mainstream labels, but we will carry on giving it our best shot! Actually going it alone these days as an indie works really well for small bands with all the social media sites available to advertise your music.

TPOTR - I want to ask you about one of my favourite tracks from an album made up of classic after classic, the song is "Voyage of Aodh" which is a sprawling epic metal journey so much so that when I heard it first I had to lift my jaw up from the floor several times? My question is how did the song come about and who is Aodh?
Thanks Austin very kind, glad you liked it, I agonised over that track for months trying to get it perfect! Actually Ive been asked a few times before what its about... Unlike the other tracks on the album which often rant about politics or whatever :-), that one is a simple story about a guy who dreams of leaving in search of a better life, but everything quickly turns bad and he spends the rest of his time trying to get back home. It was partly inspired by the history of the potato famine in Ireland where many people left for America, so we thought it apt to give the guy an Irish name; I guess it's also inspired by the film Cast Away with Tom Hanks (I love that film). In this story, Aodh leaves Ireland but ends up getting shipwrecked and fighting to survive, in the end he is a cast away on a raft and the song ends without you finding out whether he makes it or not. The whole thing is a homage to the saying 'the grass is always greener' I suppose.... Musically, its a bit different to most of the other tracks, the structure is complex (to add to the sense of adventure) and there are some more overtly Helloween influenced parts in the song. I think it was a good way to end the album.

TPOTR - Have you managed to do much gigging in support of the album?
Yes, quite a few, although all of them have been in Ireland. Before the end of the year we are hoping to do some touring in the UK and beyond.

TPOTR - Where are some of the places you have been to and where would you like  to play live in the future?
I'd love to play in Germany, they really appreciate heavy metal there! I'd also really love to get to South America too, they also love their metal and it would be a real experience playing in a hot country for us :-)

TPOTR - A lot of bands these day's release their albums directly to the fans via bandcamp or some other media, you yourself having released yours through bandcamp. Is this the future or is it merely a temporary step needed before you sign to a label and get the much needed backing I suppose every band needs in order to survive?
We all work full time jobs, so financially we can afford to pay to be in the band, because unless you strike it lucky, bands cost a hell of a lot of money! If we get any label attention that would be great, but for now we are happy with everything we've achieved in the last two years and will keep doing what we do and see what happens 

TPOTR - Facebook as well seems to be a new tool for bands to spread their music directly to the fans, kind of harking back to the 80's with bands spreading their music through word of mouth, what is your opinion of the whole facebook thing?
I think its great in terms of your ability as a band to easily reach a wide audience. On the downside, every band under the sun now seems to have a presence on the Internet so its becoming increasingly difficult to find the good ones...

TPOTR - Looking ahead have you put any thought into the follow up to " Death of a Hero"?
Yes! We are writing all the time in the background. We have a timetable for when the next album is going out already, but for now its all about promoting our current release.

TPOTR - What can we expect in musical terms form the band?
I guess more of the same in terms of style, lots of long songs full of riffs and melodies, although its fair to say some of our new ideas are a touch more progressive and technical than before, with a thrashier edge...

TPOTR - That's just about it, thanks for your time and if there is anything you want to add go ahead.
We'd all just like to say a big thanks to everyone who has supported us in any way, it really makes it all worthwhile! A big thanks to you too Austin, guys like yourself have been a major part in us getting our name out there, very much appreciated mate! \m/


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