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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Battalions – Forever Marching Backwards

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BATTALIONS

“Forever Marching Backwards”
For fans of Iron Monkey, Eyehategod, Weedeater, Black Sabbath, Clutch, Scissorfight
BATTALIONS, belligerent champions of the UK DIY underground scene, revered by fans worldwide, lauded by the press and hairier than a bucket of black bears. The band are back with a meaty, confrontational-as-fuck new album entitled Forever Marching Backwards which is released by APF Records on November 30th.

Recorded and mixed by Chris Fielding at Skyhammer Studios in the UK, the resulting album is a danger-fuelled 30 minutes of Battalions own brand of bleak, swaggering, riff-infused groove metal-meets-harsh-punk sound. To quote the band, this is ‘pure Humber sludge’.

Comments vocalist Phillip Wilkinson: “Since beginning writing, pretty much straight after the recording of our 2017 album Moonburn, the new slimmed-down lineup has enabled us to let Pete’s riffs shine through and has given us the chance to grow as a band to make what we believe is by far the most accomplished album of our career. If you’ve followed Battalions for the last few albums you can expect a tighter production, bigger riffs, more of a focus on structure and song writing along with the usual self-depreciating humour peppered throughout. The album itself is based around lead single Forever Marching Backwards from which the album takes its name, essentially an allegory about how society seems to be hardwired to follow blindly without the majority questioning motives. The blind leading the blind.“

Watch the video for Forever Marching Backwards here: 

https://youtu.be/G65bVLXtzns

Forever Marching Backwards is the follow up to the band’s 2017 release Moonburn and brings to the table a tighter, punchier, dirtier sound with bigger riffs and extra swagger. The whole album is littered with Phil Wilkinson’s trademark bile-encrusted vocals which envelope the absolutely crushing, corroding heaviness of the music. Across eight tracks the band exorcise a wide array of sorrow and raw human emotions. But then there’s also a song (Tyskie Vampire) about being on tour with their label mates Pist, dropping cans of strong Polish lager on the floor and having to suck them dry when they split open. So it’s swings and roundabouts – heavy human emotions versus songs about touring and sucking your beer off the floor. Typically BATTALIONS.

This is their third album in three years and they show no sign of slowing down, with each album becoming a little more ‘BATTALIONS’ in style and flavour but more than that, showing a band working on a formidable musical output. Forever Marching Backwards is certainly an excellent sign for the future, it’ll leave you wanting more, possibly with the urge to grow a beard, definitely with the need to catch them in a live setting. It’s their most hook-packed collection of fury and hirsuteness yet.  We are truly living in an age of wonder.

“Forever Marching Backwards” is now available to pre-order on limited edition (of 100) transparent blue vinyl, black vinyl, digipak CD and T-Shirt & CD bundle. The vinyl will include a digital download code, with a guarantee that you will own it at least a week before it is available in HMV, on Amazon and in other record shops.

Track listing:

A1: Forever Marching Backwards
A2: Cities Of Ruin
A3: Goat Feeder
A4: Vaseline (G)Love

B1: Tyskie Vampire
B2: Infinite Void
B3; Brick Hole
B4: Devil’s Footsteps

Battalions is:

Phil Wilkinson – vocals
Peter Cross – guitar
Matthew Dennett – bass
Matt Walker – drums

Recorded, Mixed and Mastered by Chris Fielding at Skyhammer Studio
Artwork by Blair Shaw at Daggersforteeth
Photo by JWA Photography

 

PRE-ORDER YOUR COPY OF BATTALIONS “Forever Marching Backwards” NOW:

https://apfrecords.bigcartel.com/



 

APF Showcase Interviews: Drian Nash & John Carberry of Nomad

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You’re all in for a shock when Nomad drop their new album on 30th May. It marks a giant leap forward for the band, and is going to turn many a head: because of both the killer songs contained within and the frankly stunning front cover artwork. All the other bands on APF are going to have to be on their game if they want to prevent the new Nomad record being everyone’s album of the year.

But before that comes along, Nomad are headlining the second stage at the APF Records Showcase on 3rd February at The Bread Shed in Manchester. In advance of that, Drian Nash (vocals) and John Carberry (bass) had some stuff to say……

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APF: What was your highlight of 2017?

Drian: Signing to APF Records and finally making moves on getting the album done. I can’t wait to get it out.

John: Without a doubt signing to APF, and recording a full length! And getting to see Will Smith and Jazzy Jeff live!

APF: As a member of Nomad what’s your proudest achievement so far?

Drian: That’s hard to say but it’d probably be sharing the stage with Eyehategod who are a band I had loved since High school, so that was pretty surreal and a big deal for me.

John: Being in the band is an achievement for me; playing shows up and down this island, actually selling merch, meeting people who actually dig what you’re doing! Not everyone gets to do what they love, and here I am doing it. Also, being asked by Wort and BongCauldron to join them on stage – those moments were really cool. 

 

APF: Which of your label mates are you most looking forward to seeing at the 3rd February APF Records Showcase, and why?

Drian: I’m gonna say The Hyena Kill, as it’s been a while since I last saw them, and I have only seen them a handful of times – whereas I think I’m pushing double figures with most of the APF roster. I am also looking forward to finally seeing Tronald.

John: Too hard to pin it down. Under, because they’re just amazing. Bongers, because I love those guys and the album – I can’t wait to hear it live! T’Hermit, because I haven’t seen them since their shift and I love seeing Gaz play. Diesel King – all round nice lads would you believe! Then there’s Redeye – they make me feel like Andy Field when he sees every band – Joe, Shaun, Joey, Paul, I love your band!!! xxx

APF: What’s the best gig you’ve ever played?

Drian: Probably the first Riff Fest or the first Red Sun Festival. Both fests had a line up packed with our mates and just general decent people floating around. Or the gig we played in Cardiff where towards the end of the set a bunch of people wandered into the venue grinding their jaws off. Then at the start of the last tune when I looked up there was a guy painted yellow, dressed like the Simpsons Sea Captain and Par Man from Wort started shooting a water pistol like a fountain over the crowd.

John: Too many to mention. Playing Cardiff, and Coventry has always been a treat, the Riff Fests we’ve played. And opening for some of my favourite bands (and bands I’ve known for years!) like Dopethrone, Conan, Church of Misery, Eyehategod, My Ruin, Prong, and RaginfuckinSpeedhorn! 

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APF: What are your plans for 2018?

Drian: Release the Pop Songs. Play the Pop Concerts around the country and hopefully outside the country. We have a few things in the pipeline for next year that I’m really looking forward to.

John: I really really really can’t wait to release the Album. Then touring and playing live… …A video maybe??? If a big time promoter sees this I will suck dick to to play with Body Count/Slayer… …well maybe not fellatio, but I will give thanks, hugs, and many emojis.

APF: Tell us something we don’t know about you or your band?

Drian: We actually won the Eurovision Song Contest in 1976 but the decision was overturned at the last minute and we were edited out of the final aired program. We still think this is an injustice and that is the reason we refuse to share a stage with Marie Myriam.

John: Hmmmm… …this is my first ever band. Like I’ve not even played in a school band!!!

APF: Anything to declare?

Drian: Too much.

John: Bill Jacobs is a sex god.

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The APF Records Showcase takes place at The Bread Shed in Manchester on 3rd February. Tickets available from: wegottickets.com/event/418903

Event information: facebook.com/events/791925504312658/

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APF Showcase Interviews: Jason Hope of BongCauldron

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BongCauldron finally saw their album ‘Binge’ released on APF Records at the end of November 2017. The Leeds trio have often talked of their bad lack and thus it was so again this time round: vinyl delays, merch issues, having to deal with Andrew Field of APF on a daily basis. It’s turned out well though. The album was released to ace reviews, sold like stink, and they let me put out their pre-Riff fest tracks ‘Scrubber Cider’ and ‘I’ve Been Sick’ plus their Acid Cattle EP appeared on Spotify via APF for the first time.

BongCauldron are best experienced after both they and the audience have had an industrial vat of alcohol. As they will be appearing at around 10pm at the APF Records Showcase at The Bread Shed in Manchester on 3rd February another killer set is almost guaranteed. In advance of that, drummer Jay agreed to answer a few question.

Photography by John White.

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APF: What was your highlight of 2017?

Jay: Getting the BongCauldron album out. Giving depression the boot. Cutting down on booze and cracking on with real life. Rancid and Marilyn Manson releasing new albums.

APF: As a member of Bongers what’s your proudest achievement so far?

Jay: Six years in and we’ve accepted this band is cursed. Nothing ever goes as it should and we live in fear of turning a tap on and burning the house down. But despite that, our proudest achievement is we can still laugh when we crash hire cars hired for pointless gigs. Or when we get robbed. Or when we forget the money tin and leave it in London after a decent night on merch. Or when our EP doesn’t arrive in time for our EP launch. Our when our vinyl doesn’t arrive in time for our album launch. Its nice to have another thing to worry about.

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APF: Which of your label mates are you most looking forward to seeing at the 3rd February APF Records Showcase, and why?

Jay: It would be impossible to pick favourites, but I have. Pist, Mastiff, Battalions, Redeye Revival. Looking forward to hearing new Desert Storm, Nomad and Barbarian Hermit.

APF: What’s the best gig you’ve ever played?

Jay: The first Riff Fest was the first time we ever saw it properly kick off for us which was a proper buzz. Desertfest and HRH Doom Vs Stoner have also been superb.

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APF: What are your plans for 2018?

Jay: Touring and writing for whatever we release next. Writing is slow as we’re at our most creative just before we’re too pissed to play.

APF: Tell us something we don’t know about you or your band?

Jay: LEEDS.

APF: Anything to declare?

Jay: “That’s another old trick, spike the drink, pop you in the boot of the Lexus and dump you in the North sea. I’d tie a jack to your leg, you’d sink like a stone.”

Binge

BongCauldron’s “Binge” is out now on APF Records and can be bought from:

apfrecords.bigcartel.com

bongcauldron.bandcamp.com

The APF Records Showcase takes place at The Bread Shed in Manchester on 3rd February. Tickets available from: wegottickets.com/event/418903

Event information: facebook.com/events/791925504312658/

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