Achren: Bare knees not required, but desirable.
How would you describe the sound of Achren?
(John Paterson, bass): We play a mix of death, thrash and black metal with a few other influences thrown in here and there. We all listen to wide range of stuff, from classic to extreme metal bands and also a lot of stuff from other genres, so we incorporate a lot of different elements into the sound of the band. The Achren sound has taken on the term ‘Blood Metal’, which was the title of the first Achren EP, so I suppose that’s as good a term as any to have because it doesn’t really pigeonhole the band into any particular area.
What does Achren mean?
It’s an old Celtic word for ‘Otherworld.’
You’re releasing a DVD of your performance at Bloodstock 2010. Is it a visual spectacle of epic proportions?
Haha, well, we hope so! It’s a great festival and it went really well for us. We managed to do a lot of promotion before and during our time there which helped a lot, especially as we were up against much bigger bands on the main stage at the time. The opportunity came up to film the whole set and produce the DVD, and getting the chance to do a full DVD production wasn’t something that we wanted to miss out on. It will give people the chance to see what the band can do on a live stage and hopefully help with booking as well. With the debut album coming out this year we want to try and use every possible means we can of raising the profile of the band, so it’s a good step for us to take in achieving some good exposure.
And you’re playing at the Wacken festival this year too. Will it be a proud moment taking to stage there?
Yeah, we’re ecstatic about the whole thing – it’s the biggest metal open air festival in the world, so we can’t wait to play! It’s still a bit strange when someone asks you what gigs you’ve got coming up and you say Wacken. Again, it’s a great opportunity and having been there myself before as both as a festival goer and in a press capacity, it’s amazing to be going back this time as an artist.
When you start going to metal festivals as a teenager you always hope that someday you might get a chance to play at these kind of events, so it’s a total privilege to be at Wacken. We just need to make sure that we make the best of the time we’ve got there, make sure we put on the best show we can and make sure we do our best in promoting the band off the stage as well, which is equally as important when you’re a lesser known band at an event that size with so many amazing bands playing.
Is the Scottish metal scene alive, barely breathing or dead?
The Scottish metal scene is most definitely alive. There are some amazing bands in Scotland doing a lot of hard work and some of them are doing really well. Daemonolith, Co-Exist, Hell Above, Man Must Die and Nerrus Kor are a few that come to mind.
It’s always more difficult for Scottish bands to make an impression in the UK scene with the added travel times between cities and obvious higher costs of getting to gigs. When you look at the population of Scotland I always find it a bit of a shame that we don’t get recognized on our own in the metal scene – we kind of get stuck on to the whole UK scene. We’ve got a similar size population to Norway and Finland but 99 people out of a 100 here will be able to name and own albums by a lot more metal bands from those countries than our own. I think a lot of Scottish metal bands get a bit overlooked sometimes and I don’t think its due to a lack of quality. A lot of the problem stems from lack of funding and the fact that most of the funding allocated to the music and arts industries in Scotland tends to go to areas of music which benefit a very limited amount of people and a very narrow audience scope compared to metal.
Another weird thing as well is that a lot of metal bands that progress their careers relying lyrically and musically on Scottish themes tend not to be Scottish. You only have to look at German bands like Grave Digger and Suidakra to see that.
What is the quintessential metal album?
Not sure on that one. Obviously it’s a generation thing though so ‘Reign in Blood’, ‘Master of Puppets’ ‘Peace Sells’, ‘Live After Death’ or something like that for me – but there’s so many good albums to chose from and the good thing is to keep discovering new stuff you like and keep an open mind.
Do you think metal is a misunderstood genre?
Sometimes it is, but it depends on how serious you take things. It definitely has been traditionally misunderstood in terms of social acceptability but I think that’s becoming less apparent as time goes on and age barriers decrease. Everybody today gets bombarded with death, war and destruction in every newspaper and commercial news story every day so if it’s done through music logically to me it shouldn’t be nearly as offensive as turning on your TV.
Hopefully when metal becomes a religion in the next census all the metal bands in the country can declare themselves as registered charities and take to the streets in corpse paint asking randoms on the street for money. Thats my vision, although I’ve not noticed an increase in Jedis on Buchanan street in recent times. Hail Satan!
What’s the lowest guitar tuning the band has ever played in? Z?
Haha – speaking as the bass player and using a five string most of the time, its actually a low ‘A.’ I get to play the lowest notes! We tune down a tone from standard tuning. I would reckon that more people probably tune down these days than play in standard tuning. And…of course, it is a bit more metal!
And finally, what is Achren’s drink of choice? Vodka and lemonade? A cheeky swig of Lambrini?
Well, we’ve built up a healthy relationship with some Devon monks for purely medicinal on-stage purposes, you understand – apart from that and since you’re asking, I’ll take a pint of council lager please!