Peter, now after 30 years since your First Album “Scriptures” has my vote for best DM Album of 2020. What has been your personal feelings about such a strong response from The Metal Press and The Fans all over The World to this great success? What are the immediate plans?
Firstly thanks for your thoughts… I am a bit blown away by the response, I knew it was a pretty good album but I didn’t expect such wide spread adulation. I think the key was just to keep it real and just make the best Benediction album we could staying honest and true. The way the line up all came together when it did also helped, it was almost fate. As for the future we want to just get out and start playing the new album live. We have lots of festivals re-scheduled from last year and not surprisingly plenty of other offers coming in, fingers crossed they will let us play soon. We have some dates next month, we will see. I have also been really busy writing more material, I have tons but we need this album to have its time before a follow up.
Sounds like a solid plan to just keep writing while giving the current Album the attention it so deserves. Tell us a little about this line-up and the story that entails?
Well, a lot of the album was written a while ago and sitting with Dave Hunt to write his lyrics and after a year or so it became pretty obvious to us all that he just couldn’t commit to it so he decided to move on. Cue Dave Ingrams return, we just contacted him to see if he was interested in doing a couple of gigs but he was well up for it so we sent over some demos to see what he could do… Well, he certainly hadn’t lost his touch and before you knew it we had a full set of lyrics. We continued writing and changing the songs right up till they were recorded but it was like it was just meant to be and finely some positives happening for the band. Dan Bate on bass had been we us for a while and a top musician and he introduced us to the final piece of the jigsaw Giovanni Durst on drums, who blew us away from the off but he hadn’t been with us for very long before we recorded the album so we didn’t know what to expect but he certainly nailed it, top job. Like said earlier we were in a position with our long-term singer Dave Hunt leaving the band and struggling to find a committed drummer with a new album waiting, far from an ideal situation but it all just feel into place.
So basically you write all the Material musically and then show it to the band? With a solid line up do you think the next Album you mentioned will give you time to really work as a unit or have you always been the one behind the riffs? A lot of great bands are done this way with a main musical contributor.
It has always been Daz the other guitar player and myself writing most of the music and the vocalist writing the lyrics but the rest of the band always has opinions and ideas for both and we have to agree, together, we are a sum of our parts. We have plenty of time for the follow up, only just the other day we sent off 7 new songs ideas Daz and me are happy with to the rest of the band so we are up and running.
So in years past you have had Tours lasting nearly 2 years of non-stop dates out on the roads. There must be some wild story that you guys still talk about?
Oh yes indeed, especially from the earlier days when touring was the only way as festivals were few and far between. I miss those days as it’s all about festivals now, they have their place as it’s good for the fans to see so many bands but to see a band that have been playing every night for months in a small intimate sweaty club is the best way for me. We have been lucky to tour with some great bands over the years and I could talk about it all night. We toured with Death twice, amazing times and with Bolt Thrower many times to name but a few. If I ever get to meet you in person my friend I am sure we could share a beer or two and talk about the old days.
Absolutely \m/ and while reading the last answer I get a feeling that you truly really enjoy that more personal connection with the audience. A band becomes so much more comfortable with crowd interaction on stage in these small clubs. What are your personal thoughts on more Sterile Environments for bands? What I mean is these “Mainstream” bands using Death Metal influenced Riffs. And your thoughts on bands branching out and away from the Roots of Metal?
Well, Metal music will always evolve and each to there own everyone has different tastes and of course you will always feel a bit of jealousy towards bands using extreme metal riffs that you know so well and doing so well with it but for me metal is more a way of life not a means to make a living.
This is the best Attitude Peter. When you play your live sets what are you going to be doing at the shows? What can readers expect to hear for a set? You have so much great material.
Yeah, it can be a problem especially playing big festivals as you get less than an hour. We always try and mix it up a bit with old and new but with the reaction to the new album we may have to play a couple more from that. We have some shows booked next month, fingers crossed and we are looking at doing 15 or 16 songs. They are covid restricted shows in Germany so if they happen should be interesting. Seated shows, one is in a church but I think parts of Germany are going into lockdown. We have some shows booked in Sweden early next year that should be okay as they seemed to have got there shit together.
I agree Sweden should be the model for moving forward thru this COVID Pandemic. So I am curious since Dave was the first person ever to receive the Church of Satans “Warlock of the year award” if he is the only Satanist in the band and what Glorious Blasphemy it must be for him to play a DM show inside of a Church?
Yeah, Satanism is Daves bag and has little influence on the band we like to keep it old school DM style, keep the devil shit with the black metallers and the political stuff with the hardcore bands. We don’t mind a bit of irreligion. We did ask him about the possibility of playing in a church just to make sure he was okay with it and he is… I’m really into my horror and sci-fi, movies and reading and have been from my early teens.
Yes, it is nice to have a band free of any tensions like Religion or Political things and to not be boxed in Lyrically and imagery. So in early answer you mentioned continuing to write and change the songs right up until recording. Have you ever written anything and thought later you could have done better then? Also is there anything you are less proud of you have done Musically?
Yeah of course as a musician you are striving for perfection in what you are trying to achieve but it is easy to over do something equally and lose the feel or edge. Once it’s been recorded that’s pretty much it so I have plenty that I wish I could do again. We hate the production on Sub T but a lot of people love and it was just where we were at as a band at the time.
Peter, obviously you are not only one of DM most legendary band members but also a person. What helps you to get thru the day? Perhaps some hobby or other interests and are you a family man?
Yeah, I have a family and did have a really good job until recently but Covid has wrecked that.
Sorry to hear that. One of my favorite topics is also more Traditional Metal what are some of your favorites from the early years of bands Like W.A.S.P. and Judas Priest and such styles other than DM? What else do you like Musically?
Obviously anything with good guitar playing, I’m a big Schenker fan so UFO for sure… other bands like Saxon, Diamond Head, Twisted Sister, Accept but the first band’s I really obsessed on with were Venom and Mercyful Fate until a friend at school at the time gave me a copy of GBH City Baby Attacked by Rats… that changed everything for me. Not long after I started playing in bands. For me I have always played metal music from then on with a bit of punk attitude and edge. I think it fits well into old school DM.
Yes it fits very well! So what are some of the newer bands in the DM scene that you have had a chance to hear and that stand out to you?
Shrapnel are pretty cool but they are a bit trashy but for me the best way to come across band’s is playing with them. Sodomized Cadaver from Wales were pretty cool we got to hang out and drink a few beers and Distruzione from Italy who plays in a bit of a Swedish style.
Damn you make me wanna hit the Road too I know exactly what you mean by “best way to meet bands.” Peter, I know you have so many plans for the band and this release but Covid is still an issue. Maybe instead take us way back to the First Full Benediction concert? What was it like for you and do you still remember this well?
Yeah it was in our home city of Birmingham we were supporting Naplam Death this was with Barney on vocals and I remember it well. We hadn’t been going that long so we only had about 5 numbers so we had to play a couple twice and we did a Master cover as well and I have heard a bootleg of the gig recently and it didn’t sound too bad. I think we only did about three or four gigs with Barney in total. Must have been late 88, I think.
Of course you guys must have been really big into the Cassette tape trading of the times? I was just speaking with old friend Chris Forbes of Metal Core Zine on the phone about these awesome memories. Kids these days have no idea how cool it was to get a Package stuffed with ads and bands stamped logos on the back of them in the mail back when nearly every band was different. Now it’s a strong scene but not the same. What were some of your regular contacts then and what were your favorite Zines?
Yeah they certainly were great times, the demo’s that stick in my mind from those days were the first Death demo and Nihilist and we were hearing recordings of bands rehearsals just days after recording them amazing really. We spent hours crowded around an old tape recorder in rehearsal studios.
That is truly something special. It would be great to have these memories done with justice made into a Film. I hope the readers will agree this has been a fantastic interview today. Ok Peter any last words are yours and all of us in Chicago can’t wait for your Tour. It will be jam Packed wherever it is!
I just want to say thanks to all our old fans and hello to any new fans and we will hopefully see you all soon on stage in your part of the world and after for a few beers. Metal Rages On…
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