Warpath - 20/05/2009

WARPATH is a UK based thrashband which was formed in 2003, the band's debut album ‘Damnation’ was released worldwide in May 2008. The self-released album was recorded in Kevin Tally’s (Daath) studio and it was produced by Orlando Villasenor. James Murphy (Testament, Death, Obituary) took care of the mixing process. At present, ‘Damnation’ has received positive reviews from all of the major magazines on the map.

 

 

So it seems there is much to talk about, Richard Goss (Rhythm guitar / vocals) & Pete Hawthorne (Lead guitar) where available to answer some questions. Here you can read what he had to say to the readers of Metal-Experience.com

 

First of all, could you start this interview off with a short introduction of the members and the origin of the name of the band?  And could you give us a little update of what’s been happening since the album came out?

Rich: Sure. On bass we have Joel Jordan, on drums James Davenport, and on lead guitar Pete Hawthorne. I front the band, playing rhythm guitar and main vocals. The name Warpath came to me when I first started putting the band together, six years ago. We were writing names down on a list and I decided on Warpath. It seemed appropriate at the time with the political situation with Iraq and terrorism. Since then we've gone on to record our debut album ‘Damnation’, which is drawing a lot of attention to us. Since it was released a year ago (May 08), we've been named 'The Best Unsigned Band of the Year' in this year's Terrorizer Magazine readers’ polls. The video for ‘Damnation’ is now the No.1 rated video on Scuzz TV in the UK. The album was the No.1 most added record on USA metal radio (FMQB & CMJ National Charts) and has stayed in the top 50 for over twelve weeks. We were chosen by Scuzz TV fans to play at the prestigious Bloodstock Open Air festival last summer alongside Iced Earth, Dimmu Borgir, Nightwish and many other top bands. We've been named 'Band of the Month' & 'Album of the Month' in many metal & rock magazines across the world. We've also now been confirmed for Wacken rocks in Germany this August. It's been a great year for the band, and we have a lot more planned to continue promoting the album.

 

How did you launch into writing material for ‘Damnation’ and how much time did you spend on the songs?

Rich: Three of the tracks I already had written from years before; “Life Unworthy of Life”, “Infernal” and “Face To Face”. I decided to re-vamp them for the album as I felt with the previous lineup they were never recorded or played the way I'd envisaged them when I originally wrote them. When James joined on drums, he said he could play them a lot faster and heavier than our previous drummer. So I listened, and he absolutely annihilated what had been played before him. So it was a no-brainer for us to include those tracks. It makes me laugh when I think back actually; some of the previous members had given me a lot of hassle about those tracks. They wanted to either ditch the track “Life Unworthy of Life” or simplify it and cut most of the riffs out because they couldn't play them at the speed I wanted. It was great when James joined. I remember thinking “Yes! This is the right guy” when he talked about upping the tempo for the tracks and adding in fast kick drumming. The guy is incredibly talented. I then spent around a month writing the five other tracks and getting a decent structure together for them, then James and I polished them up and perfected them.

 

Pete: Hey Eugene, nice to talk to you and Metal Experience! When I joined Warpath all of the songs for ‘Damnation’ were already written and just needed the guitar solos, I was so impressed and blown away when I first heard them. Music that really kicks your ass from all directions!

 

Did ideas come easily so that you just had to write them down or was it more of a careful composing thing?

Rich: It was a bit of both. Sometimes a riff would just appear out of nowhere. I'd be sitting there watching a film and playing a bit of guitar and I'd have “Spitting Blood”. One track, “W.M.D” was written in one sitting, easy. “Expendable Forces” was an absolute nightmare to finish. Every time I'd think “OK cool time to wrap this up” I'd get another bunch of cool riffs that just had to be worked in somehow. “Expendable” was the last track to be finished, both lyrics and song-structure.

 

 

What were the goals you had in mind when you started to record ‘Damnation’, any elements you definitely wanted to have on the album?

Rich: Musically...I wanted to make a record that would kick ass and that critics would love. I achieved that. The album's gotten killer write-ups and reviews. On the business side of things, well, when I started planning the album I said we'd get it into all of the major UK stores and that we'd get a video on TV. We've done both and then some!

 

Could you please describe the implications of the title ‘Damnation’, what does it stand for and is there a special meaning behind it?

Rich: ‘Damnation’ is basically how people don't give a damn anymore. The world is messed up. The UK is quickly turning into a total shit hole to live in, and the main factors involved are politics, religion and money, three symbols which Lee Gaskins, (the artist), incorporated perfectly into the front cover. Politicians are more corrupt than ever. Religious insanity is still causing conflict and wars, thousands of years later.

 

What about the lyrics, where do you get your inspiration from and can you tell me something more about them?

Rich: I get inspired from a lot of things; personal experiences, books, films, tv, things that are going on in the world. I'm really not into the whole 'party, zombie, beer, mutant, nuclear waste' style that the new thrash bands are churning out. There's nothing to connect with and with everyone jumping on the bandwagon, it's difficult to tell these bands apart. 

 

Pete: When you read the lyrics to ‘Damnation’ and every other song on the album and you look at the imagery on the front cover you can really work the words and their meanings to so many different aspects of life and the world today. Whether it be war and its effects on people around it, poverty, crime, religious exploitation and propaganda, it’s very deep and serious stuff that isn’t light hearted at all. You just don’t find that kind of meaning and thought from “zombie” and “comic book” bullshit lyrics.

 

How important is it to you that people pay attention to the lyrics apart from listening to the music?

Rich: It's more of a personal thing for me really. Some people don't pay much attention which is fine, it's up to them, but the ones who do might think “yeah I can connect with that” or “I know how that feels” which is great.


Can you give us a little background about the songs on the album, is there a story behind them?

Rich: Yeah there's a story behind each one. I think it's important to have a proper meaning and story to a song. Without it you end up with songs that mean nothing. I'll write a bit about each song below.

 

Damnation – The title track and music video, had to be a good opener. The first riff in the song I actually wrote about ten minutes after parting ways with our previous drummer. It was in the summer, I was playing guitar out back in the garden in the sun. Blistering solos from Pete and some ace lead lines. Lyrically, this song is about wars and the way the world is turning, no one gives a damn. Politics, religion and money are involved. The lyrics also reflect strongly in the artwork. The video is partly inspired by Megadeth 'Holy Wars'.

 

Infernal – This song's about ending up trapped and condemned. People can interpret that anyway they want. They can be trapped in hell, underground, in prison, even in a job haha! Our previous bassist Gareth wrote the bass line in the middle of the track.

 

Hostile Takeover – Weird timing on the first few riffs. James totally nailed the fast kick drumming in 7/8 time signature. One of my favorite choruses! “TAKE OVER!” The only song on the album that I play a solo on actually. A hell of a lot of riffs in this track. 

 

Face To Face – The lyrics are about drug abuse and addictions. Inspired partly by a film, but mainly by the tedious parties I'd been to where everyone was doing drugs. They thought they were cool, but they were the dullest people I'd ever met in my life. In the end they could barely string a sentence together. It was sad to see because some of these people were friends that I'd grown up with.

 

Spitting Blood – A revenge song. Ever had anyone rip you off? Check out the lyrics for this track. Heavy as hell to play live when everyone kicks in after the bass intro. A real mid-paced head banger. Great to hear the crowd singing the chorus. 

 

Life Unworthy Of Life – I was pissed off when I wrote this! Nothing new there. One of my favorite tracks. The crowd goes wild to this song. This was one of the first songs I ever wrote actually. It has everything; a wicked solo, technical riffs, furious kick drumming, fast parts, slow parts. A music video will be filmed for this later in the year. Keep an eye out for it.

 

W.M.D – Can't find any W.M.D's? No problem, we'll make them up! This song riff and structure wise was written in one go. I don't remember much else about writing this one.

 

Expendable Forces – I'd been messing around with the idea of having a heavy triplet riff intro for a while but couldn't come up with anything. I got so pissed off that I ended up writing this. This song was written in many different sections. Drove me insane trying to finish it. Lyrically it's inspired by the Metal Gear Solid and Rambo series and some of the stories you hear about how soldiers are treated when they come back home. One reviewer said it had a kind of Metallica, 'Disposable Heroes', vibe to it. Cool!
 

 

What is the utmost important ingredient for a song according to you?

Rich: Good song writing. It has to have a structure and some hook or catchy parts. I absolutely despise this new screamo style of metal. Just because its heavy metal, it still has to have structure and be memorable, not just noise.

 

Pete: Absolutely 110% has to be good song writing. If there is no structure or foundation for the riffs and so on then the song will go nowhere fast and will not be memorable in the slightest! Something about it has to stand out and grab the listener by both ears otherwise it’ll just be another song getting skipped on the CD player.

 

About song writing, how can we imagine you work on new songs, what's the typical writing process like for Warpath?

Rich: Other than the bass line in “Infernal” and one riff in “Face To Face”, I wrote all of the riffs and lyrics for the ‘Damnation’ album. Usually I'll write the riffs and get a rough song structure. Then James and I will demo it and polish it into it's final form. Lyrics and solos are added afterwards. It might work differently on the next album though.

 

Pete: Yeah like I said earlier, all of ‘Damnation’ bar the guitar solos were already written when I joined the band, saying that, Rich wrote the solo for the song “Hostile Takeover” and it’s without a doubt one of the best and kick ass solos you will ever hear! I wrote the harmonies on that one. For new material Rich is still churning out some of the best riffs you will ever hear that really do push the boundaries of heavy metal, I mean real kick ass stuff that will leave you thinking “what the fuck! Hell yeah!” But also we are working on new riffs and song ideas, structures together which is awesome and I have a good few solid metal riffs thrown into the pot as well.

 

What comes first, lyrics or melodies? Is it like you sit down and write a new song because you need more material now or do you wait until you get an idea?

Rich: Well right now we play all of the ‘Damnation’ album live. I have 4-5 new songs kicking about that are half finished, and hundreds of other riffs written, but (other than the rest of the band), no one will hear these until we record the next album. Usually the riffs and melodies come first then lyrics second. I don't really know why, that's just how it works for us.

 

How did the recording process proceed and how much time did you spend in the studio?

Rich: Recording was great, a lot of hard work. We'd do on average twelve to fifteen hours a day. Drums were finished fairly quickly. James got a lot of the tracks in one take which is just a testament to his skill. Pete came down and recorded his solos, I think we got them all nailed in a week or so. His fingers were shredded by the end! Rhythm guitars and vocals took the longest. I did three to five rhythm tracks on each song, usually one left, one right, and one thicker sound for the middle. But if there was the slightest bit I wasn't happy with, I'd scrap it and start from scratch. Really worked hard on locking in the picking with the kick drumming. Vocals took a while before I found a style that I was comfortable with. Death metal or screaming, growling cookie-monster vocals would sound ridiculous with our style.

 

Pete: Haha yeah, could you imagine growls or scream vocals over real thrash? I couldn’t! The solos were amazing and a bitch to lay down because it was great working with Rich and sharing ideas and writing different sounding solos for each song to get a contrast. For example the one in “Face To Face” has a lot of blues sounding runs where “Expendable” and some other songs have a lot of diminished and Arabian/Eastern style parts. I remember we did like 8, 10, 12 hour days recording them in the height of summer with no air con or fans on as they would be picked up on the mics, trying to nail the solos in one take with sweaty hands, my finger tips were literally fucking shredded of skin by the time we finished! I like to think you can really hear the blood, sweat and swearing that went into them!

 

Which element of the CD are you most proud of?

Rich: There's a lot that I'm proud of. All of the accolades we've achieved. We've got the No.1 rated video on Scuzz TV, we played the prestigious Bloodstock Open Air, our album is stocked by all of the major UK stores, it was the No.1 added record on USA metal radio. All of the kick ass reviews we've received. The fact that we're doing all of this without the backing of any label is cool. There are bands out there with labels that are complete wasters. Making all of these new fans and getting to meet them is great. I mustn't forget to mention either, that I'm extremely proud of everyone's performances on the album!

 

Pete: Yes I agree. I too am so proud of and totally pleased with everyone’s playing on the album and the fact we have taken this finished album on our own and got it around the world and played some huge and memorable great gigs to some great people is awesome. From literally unknown to “Best Unsigned Band Of The Year” in one of the biggest metal magazines in under a year is just phenomenal!

 

 

How do you look back on ‘Damnation’ now, would you have liked to have changed anything in retrospective?

Rich: There's nothing I'd change about the album. It shows our abilities at the time it was written and was the best music we could make then. The next album will of course evolve and move forward from that, just as we are as musicians and song writers.

 

Can you tell us a little about yourself and the kinds of things that motivate you in your writing, your poetry, and your lyrics? What are you personally into?

Rich: I've played music since the age of five, classically trained. I don't actually listen to that much thrash anymore. My main favourite thrash bands are Megadeth, Testament, early Metallica. I also like Death. I don't know if they'd be classed as thrash or death metal. I listen to a lot of rock, flamenco and classical. Outside of music I enjoy hanging out with my girlfriend, family and friends. Watching films, a lot of really bad horror movies. I love the cinema and movies. I play some video games but I don't have that much time anymore. I like to keep fit, Krav Maga and also read a lot of books. I don't watch much TV but when I do I love comedies, Two and a Half Men in particular.

 

Pete: Yes I think Charlie Harper is the biggest inspiration a guy can have! Haha! For me I am the complete opposite musical upbringing to Richard, I didn’t go the classical route and didn’t start learning music or the guitar till the age of 11 and it was by a real rough n’ tumble rock n’ roller who taught me what real rock guitar meant! But that was only for a few years and from then on I am completely self taught. I also hardly listen to thrash anymore apart from Annihilator, Testament and Megadeth. My taste goes from one extreme to the other, from death metal to melodic 80’s AOR! But it takes all sorts right? When not playing and writing music I also love to watch horror movies (yes, bad ones) and read horror novels especially James Herbert and H.P. Lovecraft.

 

What have been the highlights and low points throughout your career?

Rich: The highlights are everything we've accomplished so far with the album, everything that I'm proud of. It's always cool meeting new fans too. Low points..being ripped off by certain other bands, and illegal downloading.

 

What makes Warpath different from the other Modern Thrash Metal bands out there?

Rich: I'm not a fan of most of the new 'thrash' bands coming out. They all think that because they wear white trainers, bullet belts, and sing about zombies and mutants that they're a thrash metal band. They tend to forget and neglect the song writing itself, so what you're left with is a bunch of average thrash bands that no one wants to listen to except their friends and drinking pals. They're all obsessed with comic book artwork, geeky subjects for songs, they're a bunch of clones. They fuck around on stage and treat everything as if it's a joke.

 

Pete: It’s not 1987 anymore and most of these jokers weren’t around when it was! All these bands calling themselves thrash today are a joke and I’m sick of seeing new ones pop up every week like a bunch of unwanted weeds. Our style is so much faster, more aggressive and technical… I’d like to see them try and write anything close to “Life Unworthy Of Life” for example, their little pint-holding hands wouldn’t be able to cope and they’d be back on their Play Stations before the first chorus!

 

What goals did you have when the band started out and how do those goals stand now?

Rich: We've achieved a lot of the goals we set for ourselves with the ‘Damnation’ album, and long-term we want to become a major name in the metal scene. We're working hard, and we won't give up until we get there.

 

 

What’s the most precious thing you would give up for landing a great record deal and/or lots of publicity?

Rich: Hmm...I'll have to have a think about that one. The band is my life, and there's nothing I wouldn't do to succeed and get to the top.

 

Are there any particular bands who’ve been a big influence on your song writing, metal or otherwise and which album has been your biggest musical influence, one that made you think “this is what I want to do!”?

Rich: Megadeth, Guns N Roses and early Metallica. They're the three main bands that really made me want to play in a band and are a big inspiration for me. Megadeth's 'Rust In Peace' was a big influence on my playing. I learnt the whole album's rhythm tracks when I first started playing and it really inspired me. I also love Guns N Roses’ ‘Illusions’ albums and ‘Chinese Democracy’. ‘Appetite for Destruction’ is great but I love Axl's more epic melodic songs.

 

Pete: Iron Maiden were my first love. I remember seeing the “Stranger In A Strange Land” video when I was very young and seeing Adrian Smith’s face so calm and collected as he played the most amazing solo and thinking “Fuck, look at him! He’s so relaxed, I want to do that!” So Maiden was my first insight into metal but in terms of thrash metal and guitar playing my biggest influences are Jeff Waters of Annihilator, Dave Murray and Glen Drover, those three have had such a big impact on me as song writers and for all three different lead styles and sounds.

 

How would you describe your own music and what are your musical influences?

Rich: It's heavy / thrash metal. I don't really know what other label to give it. There's some fast stuff, some slow stuff, some catchy stuff. It's aggressive, it's pissed off. There are no jokey subjects, or Exodus-wannabe riffs and vocals.

 

Pete: It’s very fast and technical metal with a really aggressive edge to it that you just don’t find in other bands around in the genre today. You can really hear the Megadeth, Testament and even Death influence in there! It cracks me up when reviewers say things like: “It’s clear Warpath are very influenced by Exodus and Slayer.” And I sit back and think, no, we’re really not!

 

Have you already launched into writing songs for a new album? If so, what will these songs sound like? Will there be any new elements on it which weren't there on the first one?

Rich: I have four or five half finished songs but we're not going to focus too much on a new album for at least another year. We've got a lot more planned for ‘Damnation’ first. The new material will move on from ‘Damnation’. I'm not going to go into too many details but there'll be some acoustic material on there, and Pete has a wicked track written in a different tuning.

 

Pete: It’s a really punchy track that will stand out and kick serious ass! I can’t wait to work on new material and put all these riffs and ideas we all have together and make something that with our own vision will really push the boundaries of heavy metal and turn people’s heads!

 

Have you been in contact with a label for the release of your next album?

Rich: We've talked to a few labels but none of them have offered us anything worth signing. We'll see what happens. It's up to them if they want to offer us a good deal.

 

What can we expect from Warpath in the near future, any touring plans?

Rich: Yeah, we've recently been confirmed for the Wacken Rocks and Thrash Inferno Festivals in Germany, which is a massive opportunity for us. We're very excited about that. We're working on playing all across Europe on a tour. We also have another music video coming, for “Life Unworthy of Life”, new T Shirts with the ‘Damnation’ artwork, and a DVD at the end of the year with both music videos, tour footage, recording/rehearsal footage, and maybe some sneak peeks of the new album.

 

Where do you see the band going within the next couple of years, and where do you see the band’s musical direction going for the next album?

Rich: The band will continue to grow, we're making new fans daily. A major label might pick us up. Musical direction...well everyone will just have to wait and see.

 

Pete: We will make sure you don’t forget the name Warpath, because you will be screaming and wind-milling to it later!

 

Anything left to say to our readers?

Rich: Thanks for taking the time to read this, check out our album, support real music, keep supporting Metal Experience, you guys kick ass!

 

Pete: Thanks for the great questions Eugene, we hope everyone at Metal Experience and all your crazy readers enjoy reading this interview as much as we did doing it. You all rock & don’t stop supporting real music & real metal! Cheers!

 

Thanks for your time,

Eugene Straver

 

 

Members:

Richard Goss – Vocals, Guitars

Pete Hawthorne - Lead Guitar

Joel Jordan - Bass Guitar

James Davenport – Drums

 

Former Members:

Gareth Allen - Bass Guitar

Luke O'Sullivan - Drums

 

Albums:

(2008) – Damnation

(2006) – Cataclysm (EP)