Battalions: Exclusive Interview with Phil Wilkinson

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Hullensian quartet Battalions will release their third album “Forever Marching Backwards” on 30th November. We recently dropped the title track as a single and video, and it has gone down a storm with fans and critics alike. The album will see the light of day on vinyl (a limited edition blue one as well as a standard black), digipak CD and digital download – and there’s a sexy t-shirt and CD bundle version as well.

It’s taken nine years of hard work for Battalions to get to the cusp of bigger things, which must surely now be just round the corner for them. APF Records signed the band last autumn, having foolishly passed on releasing their staggering “Moonburn” record a few months before. We all make mistakes, and that was a big one. But the band now have the full force of the label (and their PR partner Hold Tight!) behind them as the three month campaign to promote the album begins.

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We caught up with vocalist Phil Wilkinson for a chinwag about past, present and future.

APF: You’ve been around for a while. There seems to be a rising wave of love for Battalions right now. Have you noticed it, and if so what do you think has caused it?

Phil: We have been around for a while! Closing in on 9 years of the band now, which is insane when I think about it. The love for the band has never been bigger, and I think that’s through hard work and sticking at it for as long as we have. Over the past few years we’ve stepped up our game in terms of writing, recording and playing live further afield. On top of this we are completely lovable idiots and people seem to warm to us, which certainly helps.

APF: How was the writing of Forever Marching Backwards? Was it easy pulling the 8 songs together, or like pulling teeth?

Phil: We started writing pretty much the moment we finished recording “Moonburn” last year. We had the majority of the album written, but in the months coming up to recording it we still had a few songs to finish and one to write to make the full record. Luckily, we have Pete ‘The Riff’ Cross in our employ, so we set him to task and he pulled those riffs out of his many hiding holes in those riff-filled layers he constantly wears.

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APF: How was your week recording at Skyhammer? For those who haven’t been, what’s so great about it and why did you choose it?

Phil: This was actually our 3rd time there, choosing to return to Skyhammer was a no-brainer. Chris Fielding is an absolute gent to work with, and the studio is top notch. He knows us and we know him, with each of the previous albums being a step up in production values as he’s gotten to know the band better, and this time out he has well and truly knocked it out of the park. It’s always one of the band ‘holidays’ in the calendar for us, as well as tours, as you stay in the accommodation at the studio. It can get a little claustrophobic at times as you’re all on top of each other for days on end, but in the main it’s a completely fun experience for us, especially the end-of-recording blow out!

APF: What’s your personal favourite track on the album and why?

Phil: Honestly, it’s hard for me to choose, which is strange because personally I’ve had a song on the previous albums that I’ve preferred above all others. I guess if I was put on the spot, I would choose “Devil’s Footsteps”. The groove in that just gets me moving!

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APF: Tell us about the making of the Forever Marching Backwards video.

(You can watch the video here: https://youtu.be/G65bVLXtzns)

Phil: It was one of the hottest days of the year, a Sunday morning following another awesome Humber Street Sesh we were involved with playing. The day started with a trip out to a well-known derelict building in Hull – Lord Line – breaking in and filming all the walking shots. This was followed by us all meeting up at our practice room and turning one of the rooms into a mini studio for the second half of the video. I was ridiculously hungover and throwing up all day, one of the first shots I had to film was me screaming into the protagonist’s face, in full fear that it may include accidental vomit. Luckily this didn’t happen.

The video’s protagonist is no other than Kris Barford, our original drummer and key architect in forming the band. It was great to have him involved as we’re all still great friends and he is now gracing the cover of the album!

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APF: When you look back over your ten years in Battalions, what shows stand out as being your favourites?

Phil: Well, not quite 10 years yet, closing in on 9 years this January haha. But still, this is by far the longest I have ever been part of a band and I can’t imagine life without Battalions these days. There have been hundreds of shows and it’s hard to pick. However, since I have to, here are some of my favourites:

Bloodstock Festival 2017

Headline Slot at Humber Street Sesh 2017

Supporting The Ocean, Sworn Enemy and Church of Misery (twice!)

The whole tour with Pist

The whole tour with 1968 / Ritual King

Any show we play at Rebellion in Manchester

Tech-fest 2018

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APF: There are stresses and strains in being an underground band, but also in being a successful one. If Battalions ever became big do you think you could cope with the fame and attention?

Phil: There are times when I want to scream with dealing with a band and having no management. But when it all comes off it’s the best feeling in the world. I’d have no qualms with stepping up and gaining more fame, I don’t think any of us would change, that’s the working class northerner in us all!

APF: You’re an integral part of the APF Records family? Which other bands on the label do you have a particular affinity with, personally or musically?

Phil: Thanks! We certainly feel a part of the APF Family now, even before we signed we felt a part of the wider APF community. Obviously, we are best buds with Pist following our tour together earlier this year, so much so that Dave and John feature on the new album, although maybe not in the way we initially intended in John’s case. We just like hanging out with other APF bands when we get a chance, the Barbarian Hermit boys have been good to us recently, I think being signed and releasing albums around the same time has given us a shared goal and we both want each other to succeed.

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APF: What’s your highlight of 2018 so far?

Phil: It’s got to be getting the album recorded, artwork completed, and everything ready to go before the deadlines. We just cannot wait for this record to be out and for people to hear the rest of the record. The feedback we’ve had so far from the release of the single has been mind-blowing, and if people are reacting like this to just one song, I can’t wait for the rest of the album to get a listen and hear what people think because we couldn’t be prouder of what we’ve achieved with this one.

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APF: Who’s the biggest bellend in Battalions?

Phil: We’re all bellends in our own way. But, without a doubt, it’s (Bassist) Dennett. The man doesn’t have an “off” button and is, as I have said to him many a time, ‘unnecessarily loud, all of the time’. He’s a bellend in the most lovable way though, and we’re usually in hysterics laughing at him being an idiot, sometimes even laughing with him and not at him…….

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Forever Marching Backwards is available to pre-order now from:

https://apfrecords.bigcartel.com/

https://apfrecords.bandcamp.com/

 

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Barbarian Hermit: Exclusive Interview with guitarist Adam Robertshaw

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Barbarian Hermit released their new single “Reawaken” earlier this week. Taken from their debut full-length album, ‘Solitude And Savagery’ (which is out on 16th November), it encapsulates all that is good about the band in 2018.

Since the release of their ’01’ EP in 2016 guitarists Mike Regan and Adam Robertshaw have bedded in a new rhythm section (Rob “Spadge” Sutcliffe on bass and Gareth Manning on drums) whilst welcoming back vocalist Ed Campbell – who fronted the band before, in its early days. Their shows have become more like events than mere gigs, as anyone who saw their incendiary live performance at this year’s Bloodstock Festival will attest to.

As the PR campaign for the new album kicks off, we grabbed Adam for a quick chat about all this Hermit.

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APF: You’ve been around for a while. There seems to be a rising wave of love for Hermit right now. Have you noticed it, and if so what do you think has caused it?

Adam: It’s been a slow rise over the last couple of years. It’s noticeable in terms of our social media following creeping up, more people turning up to shows that sort of thing. I think it’s just because we’ve purposefully kept a presence on the scene, gigging as often as we can in as many places as we can. It seems to be paying off!

APF: How was the writing of Solitude And Savagery? Was it easy pulling the 7 songs together, or like pulling teeth?

Adam: It was the easiest and the hardest thing we’ve ever done. We gave ourselves plenty of time to write and we love writing riffs so most of the songs came pretty easy. Some of them like Reawaken for example, we spent months honing and perfecting and I think that shows when you listen to it. As it got nearer recording time we started to feel the pressure a bit but thankfully that lit a fire under our arses and we ended up writing Laniekea, which is probably one of the most ambitious songs we’ve ever written!

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APF: How was your week recording at Skyhammer? For those who haven’t been, what’s so great about it and why did you choose it?

Adam:It was amazing, a dream come true. We’d always said from the very start of the band that Skyhammer would be our studio of choice, just because of the output they’ve done over the years and their reputation as being the best in the business for our kind of music. It didn’t disappoint. Chris Fielding is a pleasure to work with. His attention to detail is astounding and he really knows what’s best for the song. Plus they have all this amazing gear for you to play through so we were like kids in a candy shop. On top of that you sleep and eat there while you’re working so it was like a little holiday for the band, and we actually came out of it having bonded more. We can’t wait to go back!

APF: What’s your personal favourite track on the album and why?

Adam: This changes every time I listen to it but I think Black Mass. I wrote the main chorus riff years ago and we’ve been banging our heads against a brick wall for years trying to fit it into a song and we finally did that, so that’s pretty satisfying, plus the rest of the song is journey through all our repertoire of lightness and darkness, groove and brutality. Ed’s vocals on that song are fantastic, Gaz hit it out of the park, and there’s some lovely interplay between myself, Reegs and Spadge. It’s a good snapshot of where the band is at right now.

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APF: When you look back over your time in Hermit, what shows stand out as being your favourites, and why?

Adam: Obviously Bloodstock, as it was the biggest crowd we’ve ever played to and it was the result of months of blood, sweat and tears going through the M2TM competition. HRH in Sheffield was amazing. Again, a great turn out and it was one of the first gigs we did with the newer lineup. We’ve had some crazy shows at Riff Fest in Bolton over the years too. One sticks out where the boss of our record label came flying over the barrier and landed on my pedal board!

APF: There are stresses and strains in being an underground band, but also in being a successful one. If Hermit ever became big do you think you could cope with the fame and attention?

Adam: I think we’d have a good stab at it. Praise and attention is always flattering so I’m sure we could handle a bit more of that. Plus the money and other trappings that come with fame would be nice. One of us might end up dead though.

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APF: You’re an integral part of the APF Records family? Which other bands on the label do you have a particular affinity with, personally or musically?

Adam: Under have been our boyfriends for years, I can’t wait to hear their new one. I think we’ve played more shows with Pist than we have any other band, it’s like we’re their unofficial support band. And I think because we were signed around the same time as Battalions, we’re releasing near to each other and have the same PR in Hold Tight! there is a bit of friendly competition going on but also a fraternity, like we’re going through the same stuff together, which is cool.

APF: What’s your highlight of 2018 so far?

Adam: That’s a tough one as it’s been a big year for us. It’s got to be recording at Skyhammer for me. With Bloodstock being a close second.

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APF: Who’s the biggest bellend in Babs, and why?

Adam: Haha! Spadge. Have you seen his helmet?!

APF: How do you manage to not fanboy Mike Regan every time he walks in the room?

Adam: I really don’t know. I was a huge Bisonhammer fan back in the day so I still find it surreal that I’m in a band with him. The man’s a beast! All hail BIG DADDY REEGS!

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Barbarian Hermit’s “Solitude And Savagery” is available to pre-order now from:

apfrecords.bigcartel.com

barbarianhermit.bandcamp.com

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Barbarian Hermit – Solitude And Savagery

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BARBARIAN HERMIT new album available to pre-order from:

https://apfrecords.bigcartel.com

Hailing from Manchester, UK, BARBARIAN HERMIT are scheduled to release their album  Solitude and Savagery on November 16th via APF Records. The quintet play a heady mix of downtuned, fuzz-laden guitars kicking out some of the raunchiest riffs in rock over elephantine grooves to create a sound that is as irresistibly catchy as it is crushingly heavy.

Working with the legendary Chris Fielding at Skyhammer Studios, the producer behind such mammoth sounds as Electric Wizard, Conan, Primordial, Witchsorrow, Winterfylleth and mastered by James Plotkin (Khanate, OLD)BARBARIAN HERMIT’s Solitude and Savagery bares seven bruising tracks of pummelling groove metal that smoulders with swampy rawness and feral energy.

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Comments guitarist Adam Robertshaw: “At its essence, Solitude and Savagery represents an evolution of Barbarian Hermit in more ways than one. The year before the majority of it was written the band went through a weird period where we lost three members for various reasons within about six months. Thankfully Ed, Gareth and Rob stepped in and stepped things up a notch in a big way. Working with Chris Fielding at Skyhammer studio was a dream come true for us. The man is a genius and such a pleasure to work with. His ear is incredible and once he got to know us and what we are about he really got on board, suggesting harmonies or adaptations here and there, which really gave the songs a boost. With anyone else we’d have recorded a good album. With him made a great one. We hope people have as much fun listening to it as we did making it.

Solitude and Savagery is the follow up to the band’s 2016 self titled EP and is bristling with swagger, soul and groove, but the band have ventured further into heavier territory, exploring the darker side to their sound whilst making a conscious effort to experiment more with dynamics and texture. Lead single ‘Reawaken’ for example, takes as much inspiration from Hans Zimmer as it does Sepultura.  And while it’s not exactly a concept album, there are themes and recurring motifs that vocalist Ed Campbell has woven through the album’s lyrical tapestry, such as the struggle between dark and light, the exploration of one’s inner self and the search for truth.

About Barbarian Hermit

Barbarian Hermit are a five piece doom/sludge/Stoner act, based in Manchester, England. Formed in 2013 from former members of disbanded Manchester bands (Bisonhammer, Arke, Severed Fate, Random Act of Violence, Mountains Became Machines and That Sunless Tide) and the disbanded South Korean band FatalFear.

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The band have been gigging heavily around the UK for the last few years. Recently, playing at big events like HRH festival, Bloodstock Festival and supporting big names like Raging Speedhorn, Dopelord and Crowbar. Their debut self-titled EP came out in early 2016 and received rave reviews from the press and will follow this up with their debut album Solitude and Savagery which is set for release from APF Records in November 2018.

LEAD TRACK: Reawaken

FOR FANS OF:  Crowbar, Corrosion of Conformity, Raging Speedhorn, Acid Bath

BARBARIAN HERMIT ARE:
Gareth Manning-Drums
Ed Campbell-Vocals
Mike Regan-Guitars
Adam Robertshaw-Guitars
Rob Sutcliffe-Bass

TRACKLISTING:
1. Enter the Hermitage
2. Black Mass
3. No Sleep
4. Beyond the Wall
5. Lifebreather
6. Reawaken
7. Laniakea

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TOUR/GIG INFO:  
2018
September 8th – Sanctuary Rock Bar, Burnley
November 10th – Cvltfest, Café Independent, Scunthorpe
November 16th – Album Lunch, Kosmopolitan, Manchester
November 17th – Ale Fest, Northern Monk Brewery, Leeds
December 22nd – Rebellion Christmas Party, Rebellion, Manchester

2019
Feb 2nd – APF Showcase II, The Bread Shed, Manchester
March 2nd – Lizard Fest, Bradford
March 30th – Riffolution, Rebellion, Manchester

FOLLOW THE BAND
FACEBOOK: https://www.facebook.com/barbarianhermit/
TWITTER: 
https://twitter.com/barbarianhermit
BANDCAMP: 
https://barbarianhermit.bandcamp.com/
INSTAGRAM: 
https://www.instagram.com/barbarianhermit/
SPOTIFYhttps://open.spotify.com/artist/5l3TCGNbFvd6uJOoV6Z6Qo

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