Interview with Adam Agius from Alchemist
Interview by Militia
HailMetal.Com: For our American and European readers please tell us exactly what category or subgenre Alchemist fall under? Which fans in your view should seek to listen to your music?
Adam: In my opinion all metal fans should listen, there is something for Death fans, extreme fans, Thrash, Traditional fans, Prog fans even Hard rock fans. We are an extreme metal band unbound by genres, we just don`t care who listens to it. Over 20 years we have been able to melt all influences into a fairly consistent and cohesive style that is unmistakably Alchemist. It is a problem that we and record companies have always faced, it`s very hard to pin our sound down, except to say its Alchemist. Alchemist is a melting pot of styles. We are AGGRESSIVE PROGRESSIVE PSYCHEDELIC SURFTHRASH.
HailMetal.Com: It`s been announced that Tripsis is the name of your forthcoming release. What does Tripsis mean or represent?
Adam: It has many meanings that`s for sure. It depends on what dictionary you use, but its basically the action of a mortar and pestle, grinding massaging ingredients together, Its a good analogy of Alchemist music.
HailMetal.Com: Can you describe what the atmosphere is like in the studio when you record? It can`t be just filled with work now can it?
Adam: Yes our time in the studio is totally full of work, we are on a small Indy label budget and certainly isn`t any time for fucking about, we do smoke a bit of pot and drink some beer and crack jokes whilst we record and mix.
HailMetal.Com: How long did you guys spend in the studio recording the album?
Adam: We recorded Tripsis in my home studio over one year and mixed it at Backbeach Studios in Rye Victoria in 11 days.
HailMetal.Com: What, if any, external influences are we going to hear on this album?
Adam: I`m not sure what you mean by that, If you mean outside the metal genre, well yes there are some heavy surf and psychedelic influences but that`s typical for Alchemist. There are some great sounds, and the like, that are not metal but it all melts together to make a heavy as fuck metal album.
HailMetal.Com: You`ve said in countless media interviews that the band started out playing old school thrash? You`ve also said that Tripsis will be fairly heavy thrash-filled release. Can you reveal specifically what the album will sound like?
Adam: Specifically, hmmmm that`s hard, Um its fast and thrashy, extreme and melodic and flat out in your face bastadory bombastic heaviness in parts. Its a lot more cohesive and dense than our last record, its a headbang fest.
HailMetal.Com: Can you please reveal the concept idea of the album to us?
Adam: No concept to this record; it`s a collection of songs, plain and simple, and really I like it better that way. We have done too many concept albums I believe.
HailMetal.Com: Who comes up with the ideas and writes the lyrics for most part?
Adam: We all have equal input; this album was about two songs of lyrics per person, worked really well, generally its myself and drummer Rodney. I have the last say as I have to believe in what I`m yelling about.
HailMetal.Com: What are you hoping to accomplish after the release of the album? It`s due out in October is it not?
Adam: Yep, well first of all we tour Europe with a headlining festival spot at Prog Power in Baarlo, Holland on the 6th of October followed by Australian and New Zealand touring all the way through till end of January 2008. Can`t wait. We are just trying to accomplish making as many new fans and selling as many records as possible, also to try and sell some records in the USA and get there for some shows.
HailMetal.Com: It has been 4 years since your last record (not counting the Embryonics compilation CD). Can you tell us why the band has taken so long to deliver its next album?
Adam: Many reasons firstly our drummer moved 2000 km`s away so we had to reinvent the way we went about writing songs and rehearsing, It took at least 12 months to accomplish a good work programme that suited everyone , now it seems to work fine. The next one may not take so long.
HailMetal.Com: What has the reaction been like to Embryonics by fans? Any reactions to Tripsis as yet?
Adam: Embryoncs has been great to fulfil the desires of new fans who could not get the old stuff. The reaction has been great, some new fans have liked the alternative versions of songs, generally it was not a ground breaking release for us. Then again we never expected it to. We are very glad that it is available though.
HailMetal.Com: Everyone knows that you play a guitar, keyboards and do all kinds of vocal screams, but what we don`t know is if you`re self thought or have had professional training?
Adam: No, I do it all from just wanting really bad to be able to do it. Its desire and passion that make it possible. I have no vocal training. I`m sure my style would send some vocal teachers crazy. I did take guitar and key lessons as a young teenager.
HailMetal.Com: I am sure there are many younger musicians who look up to you in terms of technical proficiency can you offer them any advice?
Adam: Well that is a lovely thing to say but news to me [laughs]. My advice is practice a lot and love doing it for a start. Do it because you have desire and passion not because you want to make money. Try and have fun doing it as well, and mostly try to appreciate all GOOD music, don`t limit yourself by genre.
HailMetal.Com: Do you or any other members of the band have any urge to delve into outside projects?
Adam: I do outside projects. I`m writing and recording music of various styles for various projects, I just love to write. I have no plans on release but have a couple of tracks for my band GrindPony, it`s on a MySpace site. Its super fast grindy thrash, funny as hell. www.myspace.com/grindpony Check it out. I`m writing heaps more and will post sometime this year, No one really knows we exist. This is the first link I have ever made to GrindPony.
HailMetal.Com: You guys obviously know each other too well as you`ve kept same lineup for over 15 years in one place. Is there anything left to learn from the other members?
Adam: Yeah, I am still surprised sometimes, but there are always new things to learn about people, we are close as brothers so we fight like sisters [laughs].
HailMetal.Com: Do you think for this reason the sound of Alchemist might become stale? How do you keep it fresh, providing you will for Tripsis?
Adam: I don`t think so. Drive keeps us fresh, each album is different and makes it fresh, It`s really up to the fans to decide if they think we are stale?
HailMetal.Com: Do you find yourself being more creative when you`re drunk and do you have any funny drinking and performance stories that you can share with us?
Adam: I have never performed drunk, and no, getting drunk is totally uninspiring to me. I have wrote some good stuff stoned and performed stoned on weed, but the best results are when I`m sober.
HailMetal.Com: Where do you personally draw influences from? Can you recommend some bands you think fans of Alchemist sound would like?
Adam: I like all kinds of music; here are some: Discordance Axis, Napalm Death, Meshuggah, Pink Floyd, King Crimson, Yob, Devin Townsend, Pig Destroyer, the young Gods, Sabbat, Slayer, Exodus, Xysma, The Stooges, The New York Dolls, The Heartbreakers , Sabbath, Unearthly Trance, Pod People, Celtic Frost, Blood Duster, Captain Cleanoff, The Porcupine Tree. Any of these bands I would recommend, plus a thousand more.
HailMetal.Com: Your music is responsible for bringing lovers of other music into the world of metal. Do you think that`s one accomplishment the band hasn`t really seen coming?
Adam: I agree , because that`s the first time anyone has said such kind words to us. I am happy that we can turn non metal fans into metal fans. I know for sure that we have many female fans that most metal bands don`t, and its all about the ladies so I am happy as shit.
METAL FOR THE BRAIN
HailMetal.Com: Metal For The Brain has recently ended its 15 year reign. You guys have obviously been responsible helping run the festival for some time. Can you please tell us what were some of your most memorable moments during all the years of playing and being involved with that annual event?
Adam: Well for a start we are thinking of relaunching it in 2008 because we have received thousands of letters asking and begging us to return to Metal For The Brain. We have a lot of touring to do over the next 18 months so I think we will relaunch it. This is exclusive to your site at this stage so spread the word. My favourite memories are playing every year to the best response of the day, and of course sharing the stage with VoiVod in 2000, also Volatile on stage BBQ`s were a smash hit for me personally.
HailMetal.Com: What was your responsibility at Metal For The Brain?
Adam: Alchemist responsibilities was the whole thing, but I am the financial provider and director of show day and Promoter. Fucking cunt of a Job that is unthankful most of the time. My duties seem to never end, so as im heavily involved it is very personal to me. I have invested so much money over the years for no pay that it hurts me when people speak uniformed shit about Alchemist`s involvement with Metal For The Brain, mostly uniformed jealous fucks, who never get of there arses to make anything happen in their own lives.
HailMetal.Com: Why were the doors finally shut?
Adam: Well, because we needed to concentrate on Alchemist for a couple of years, we have turned down numerous offers for Alchemist over the years because we were tied up with Metal For The Brain.
HailMetal.Com: How successful did MFTB become while it lasted and what impact do you think it had on the metal scene in Australia?
Adam: It was hugely successful and I am happy we nurtured the Aussie scene. When it comes back, it will be for Aussie bands mostly. There are plenty of festivals popping up that just don`t come anywhere near being as well organised or as good for aussie metal as MFTB was. I see a lot of cut corners at most other festivals.
HailMetal.Com: What is your view on violence at heavy metal concerts?
Adam: It has not happened at Metal For The Brain or at Alchemist shows. This stupid beat the shit out of each other and bleed is gay as fuck and dumb as fuck. Mostly dumb kids into Emo and Metalcore - kids mosh to bash not to have fun... fucking dumb. They are not really into it for the music but the image... again fucking gay kids. Fuck those kids! Of course there are fucking super great kids that still come to shows for the music, thank god.
HailMetal.Com: Are there any tours rumoured to take place between now and end of year for Alchemist?
Adam: Absolutely, many, many shows go to. www.alchemist.com.au or www.myspace.com/alchemistau Keep an eye on them. I update MySpace daily and the Alchemist site will be revamped in a few weeks.
HailMetal.Com: For those few that haven`t seen you live yet, what can they expect?
Adam: The songs of the album played perfectly, shit load of energy from the band members, and a metal experience that many have not experienced. Lots of contrast and even a few laughs if my wit is turned on, heaps of fun!!!!
HailMetal.Com: Relapse Records has been your label now for a few years. How did you end up signing to it and what message can you send to our local talent that hasn`t been quite as fortunate in that respect?
Adam: Umm well it took us years and years of pushing and promotion. Finally they licensed Organasm, and then offered us a deal. Its been pretty good for us so far, as far as bands go just keep sending attractive packages. Don`t send CDR`s, print a real CD demo and obviously be prepared to do everything yourself at first.
HailMetal.Com: What are some of the benefits of being signed up to an international label?
Adam: The promotion, getting your music in as many peoples faces as possible, and it also opened up Europe so far for us to play shows. It`s great!!!
HailMetal.Com: You`ve done some videos too. Can you tell us the names of some of the videos the band has done and reveal to us if there are any plans of making further videos in future?
Adam: We have done Fist contact, Alpha Capella nova Vega, Solarburn, and we are making one for Wrapped In Guilt for our new record.
HailMetal.Com: How much money does something like that cost to produce?
Adam: A few thousand to 5000 dollars. It depends.
HailMetal.Com: What were some of the bands (international and local) you`ve seen in the past six months live? Where do you hang out when not working with Alchemist?
Adam: I have seen Slayer, Mastodon, Celtic Frost and hundreds of Pod People shows and local bands. When not touring I basically kick around home making music or listening to it, and I try and get to the downhill BMX track near home as much as I can for a ride and crash [laughs].
HailMetal.Com: What was the scene like just before you started the band Alchemist?
Adam: Well that was 1986. It was Thrashy and huge. No one toured back then so local bands got great respect and shows were always packed, kids are very, very spoilt for choice these days and don`t appreciate what`s on their front doorstep.
HailMetal.Com: What made you start the band in the first place? How difficult
where the first few years.
Adam: I just loved music and playing guitar so much that I had to do it. I don`t remember struggle I was 15 years old and just remember it being heaps of fun. That`s why I still do it, I love music and fun.
HailMetal.Com: What did you most rely on to spread the word about your band?
Adam: Local gigs and doing demo tapes, trying to support bigger bands, tape trading, whatever you could manage.
HailMetal.Com: Do you take advantage of the internet to spread further words about Alchemist today?
Adam: You bet, there is heaps of competition so you have to, Alchemist will utilize any technology to make things better and to spread the word, no use being a stickler for the past.
HailMetal.Com: Let`s leave it at that for now, please use the means of Hail Metal to spread further words to your loyal followers:
Adam: We will add a link on our new site when updated , thanks a lot mate. Ads.
HailMetal.Com: Been a pleasure, thank you!