Thank you for taking the time to talk to us, how are things in your world?
Joseph: Warm *laughs* We live in Malta.
So, what have you guys been up to the last few months?
Shawn: We just played a gig with Blaze Bayley.
Joseph: Yeah, we supported Blaze Bayley about three weeks ago. That was quite exciting. We are writing some new material now, getting ready for our next gig, which will be supporting Fleshgod Apocalypse.
Joseph: That’s in Malta. And fingers crossed, we’ve got some things in the pipeline, but we can’t sort of disclose them yet because they’re not yet confirmed 100%. But there should be some interesting stuff coming up soon. So basically just material, trying to promote the album, and that’s about it at the moment.
Well, we love surprises at Metal On Loud, so once you have confirmation, make sure you tell us!
Joseph: Oh yes, yes. We will.
Shawn: What we have for sure coming is the gig on the boat, which we are really excited about.
A boat gig?
Joseph: We’ve also got a local gig, which is on a boat, which goes around the Maltese island, and stops in between Malta and Comino, and we are playing on the boat. The interesting thing is, me and Shawn on a boat, we get very seasick *laughs*
Shawn: We are going to feed the fish!
Joseph: Yeah, I think we’re going to feed the fish very well. I just hope that I don’t announce a song like this: The next song is called bwaaaaaaah *laughs*
Cool, a new song called “Puke your guts out”! *laughs* You guys have been around since 1997, and you gained a loyal following over the years, yet many of our readers probably won’t have heard of you yet. So, can you tell them, who is Angelcrypt?
Shawn: Angelcrypt started in ‘97, I am the founder of the band. From that time the whole lineup changed. I am the only survivor of ‘97, but we’ve had a steady lineup for about six years now I think. In my opinion personally, we are at our best right now. Throughout the years we’ve had (counts) eight releases. I’m counting because right here we have all my cd’s on the shelf *laughs*. So, eight releases, countless local gigs, abroad… We played abroad, but now we are really booking gigs, touring and all that. In our whole history of twenty years we’ve been very local, with a very local fan base. A good following. But now we are like targeting Europe.
You’re ready for the next phase in your careers then!
Joseph: Yeah, I think Angelcrypt as a band, I remember going to gigs to see Angelcrypt. I remember seeing their very first gig, and I thought to myself, interesting. This is a bit different from the rest of the bands that were playing. I never, never, never thought that I would end up being the vocalist for the band.
That’s very cool.
Shawn: It was really funny how he got into the band.
Joseph: Yeah. I actually got in, not by mistake, but what happened was, the previous vocalist had split up with the band and I was in between bands as well. I was singing with a band called Oblique Visions and another local band called Weeping Silence, which were Gothic Metal, Gothic Doom. I was playing this gig and Shawn came up to me and he said listen, we’ve got one of the biggest local festivals apart from Shellshock, which is Shawn’s festival, which is the Xtreme metal festival on Malta. He said Look, we are supposed to be playing Extreme Metal, we don’t have a vocalist. Would you feature as a guest on three or four tracks? And I said, okay? So I said I would feature as a guest on these tracks. This was 2014. After the gig finished, they turned around and told me: you’re our next vocalist *laughs*
Those are cool stories, yeah. Almost like a movie script! Even though you’ve been around for a long time, last year you released your first full album. Why did it take so long?
Shawn: It took so long because of the lineup changes I think. We release a single, we release an EP, and someone leaves and we take a step back. Then someone new comes along and we release another EP with their influences. I think even the financial part played a factor. In the past, with the first albums we were kids. We didn’t have any money, nothing, you know? So it was hard to release something. Now we are adults with kids and everything and it’s easier to afford it.
And it’s easier as a non-established band to do smaller releases. I do get that. Your album that you released last year, “We Are The Dead”, what can you tell us about it?
Shawn: Joseph wrote the lyrics, so.. *laughs*
Joseph: Right. What happened was, the concept of the album was already written with the ex vocalist, and when they asked me to join they said we’ve got this album ready, but we want you to redo the vocals, redo the lyrics and everything and change the concept to suit you.
Make it yours!
Shawn: In fact, we didn’t even let him hear the previous vocal tracks. We just handed him the full length album without vocals and gave him a deadline *laughs*.
A clean slate, very cool!
Joseph: Yeah, so what happened was, I have always been a vocalist with either a Gothic/Doom Metal band or a Death/Doom Metal band. Oblique were Death/Doom and Weeping were Gothic/Doom. So, my vocal style was slower, the lyrics were more about despair and death and that sort of things.
About Happy things then! *laughs*
Joseph: *laughs* Yeah, yeah. I thought to myself, this doesn’t go with Angelcrypt. They are a different band, slightly more upbeat, and there’s a bit more of a Thrash influence than I’m used to, so for me it was a learning curve even to match with the band’s style. I wasn’t used to that. What happened was, I thought to myself, I want to try and find an identity.
For myself and for the band. I told it to the guys and they said yes. Let’s go for that. I was actually at home and I my wife who is half English, I used to live in the UK for a long time, she found out that her grandfather was a sniper in World War 1. They had written an article about him. I read this article and I felt inspired. I went home and I turned my television on and suddenly there was a documentary on about the battle of the Somme, World War one. It was like someone was telling me, go for this. Yes. Go for this. World War 1. So I approached the guys and I said listen, I’d like to go for this direction. They seemed to like it, so I started. I was always a fan in school of the works of Wilfred Owen, so I went back to one of my favorite poems and I ended up the first song, which is “Bullets & Decay”. It’s based on a Wilfred Owen poem, and I started from there. Basically the band’s direction, not musically but lyrically and maybe theme wise changed, into something what it is today. I am truly fascinated by World War 1. It was a very very brutal war, you know?
Yeah it was. Trenches!
Joseph: Yeah, trenches, gas… it was bad. All the songs are based on World War 1, apart from the bonus track, which we redid, but the lyrics were written by the previous vocalist. There’s issues of the first time the Germans used gas in the battle of Ypres, there are accounts of certain survivors… There was one guy that died a couple of years ago, an account of how he and his son fought in WW1.
Shawn: It really worked well. I like the concept and the lyrics. It was perfect.
I can tell from your videoclip for “Serpents of the Sun” and the live recording on YouTube of the Full Metal Mensa show, that you do a lot of things yourselves. How do you deal with the current music industry, can you survive as a non-established band?
Shawn: We can’t live of it, for sure. We put in a lot of money from our own pockets. Last time we calculated that if we sell our our cd’s, we won’t even break even.
Joseph: *laughs* That’s true. I think you can tell by the video that we did it on a really, really, really low budget.
It still looks good!
Joseph: I’m not going to disclose the actual budget, how much, but it was… (Shawn makes a zero with his fingers) *both laugh* . Yeah.
Shawn: It was a zero budget, really. *laughs*
Joseph: A zero budget video. We brought everything from the house, we had GoPro setup, and iphones and stuff, and we did a video. We did a lot of editing, and swearing.
Shawn: But it came out good!
Joseph: You know, it is difficult. I did do a few tours with my previous bands in the UK. I actually came off pretty disappointed about the turnouts. We played with some bands that were really big in the Manchester area, in the Birmingham and Bradford area, and the turnout was abysmal. It was terrible. It was like fifty, sixty people I’m thinking. But these are bands from your city, and they’re big in your city. And I’m thinking, the English don’t go to these small gigs anymore. They wait for Bloodstock, wait for the festivals and go and see twenty, thirty bands. Here in Malta it’s a different story. We don’t have a huge festival. Obviously, when you have less than half a million inhabitants on an island, you can’t expect thirty- forty thousand people to go to a gig. If you take the percentage of Metalheads in each country, I think that compared to our size, 500 to 600 is probably the most we had. Which are active and go to gigs. I’m not saying that there are only 600 Metalheads in Malta, but the ones that go to gigs, that’s 600 or 700. I remember when Paradise Lost came here a few years ago, there were less than a thousand.
And that’s Paradise Lost! A big name!
Joseph: Paradise Lost, you know? And there were 800 the day before for Cannibal Corpse. And we went to Germany, for Full Metal Mensa. The headlining band were Grave, and we played before them, and no one knew us. And we had about a thousand people there, you know? And I couldn’t believe that Paradise Lost came to Malta, and they had less *laughs*, you know? It was amazing. But that’s because of our size. We play local gigs, we do festivals, and we get 500, 600 people to turn up.
Joseph: Yeah. 400, 500, it’s okay, and we enjoy it, and it keeps us going. We are very close to a lot of people that come to our gigs. We know a lot of people. I think it’s a bit different when you play places like Holland. When I went to Fortarock a few years ago, I really loved it.
Yeah, it’s a small one, but it’s nice.
Joseph: Actually, that day, they said that there were over 60,000.
Yeah. A small one *laughs*
Joseph: *laughs* Yeah. When I went it was still one day. I think it’s two days now?
This year there isn’t one. I believe there wasn’t enough budget or something. They will skip a year.
Joseph: Wow. Because when I went the headliners were Rammstein.
Rammstein, that was a good year, yeah!
Joseph: I went because I wanted to see Rammstein and Amon Amarth and Opeth basically. I never heard of the band Textures, a Dutch band. They played and they were really good. They had a really good sound. They were amazing, to be honest. When I think of Dutch metal, I think of Pestilence. My favorite Dutch band, you know?
We have some good ones! Like Gorefest.
Joseph: Gorefest, Pestilence, yeah. But to return to the question, it’s hard, but we all have fulltime jobs. This is our passion and our hobby. Well, slightly more than a hobby, because we invest a bit more time and money into it than a normal hobby. It’s a passion I think and that helps us keep going.
True music needs to be that, absolutely.
Joseph: We are not in it to make money, for us to promote our music is to express ourselves. It’s a passion, it’s a hobby we love, so I think that actually helps us keep going, even when other people would say that it’s not worth it. We’re not doing it for the money.
I know the feeling. I help a few bands write lyrics as well, and it only costs *laughs*. You have described your own style as a blend of old school thrash / death with groovy riffs, power melodies and in your face crushing vocals.
Now that you are in the band, will any of that take a bit of a different direction?
Shawn: Because that description, that was our description, right?
Joseph: Yes. *laughs*
Shawn: Is it still valid? *laughs*
Joseph: Ehm, I think, yes, it’s still valid, but I do think that since I joined that the band… The album, the songs were ready, so I didn’t have as much input where it comes musically on this album, but the two new songs which we are playing live, I think the band has sort of like evolved around me. I’m not a clean vocalist, I can sing clean but I’ve never actually done it, to an extent, that much. He knew that I was a growler *laughs*, that I won’t be like, singing Opera.
Shawn: We wanted to take that direction. We wanted to be a bit more heavy and Amon Amarth-ish *laughs*.
Joseph: Definitely, Amon Amarth are one of my favorite bands, and on the two new songs there is a hint of that coming through. I think it’s not just me changing them, but they’ve changed me as well. We’ve become a really tight partnership now, especially me and Shawn. If I write lyrics in my head and a vocal line, I’m thinking of how the band plays, and when they are doing the guitar riffs, they’re thinking about my vocal style. We are thinking about each other all the way.
Shawn: I think it really shows in the new songs.
Joseph: In the new songs, yeah.
There’s more synergy.
Joseph: There’s more of a synergy in the new songs. It’s more my style coming through, but also we have a new drummer who didn’t play on the album. Obviously he will have his impact as well in the band. He plays for a local Power Metal band, so he has his drumming style, which is going to influence us in a certain way as well.
I’m excited to hear what will be next! In the past, you’ve also done a Saxon tribute. Were they a big inspiration to you?
Shawn: Yes. We like Saxon, but that tribute was more like, we always wanted to do a Saxon cover but never did it. We were searching for a record deal, and this company told us, right now we cannot give you a record deal, but we can put you on this album, this compilation with a lot of popular other bands. It was this Saxon tribute, and we did Altar Of The Gods. It came out good!
It’s a good song, yeah!
Shawn: Yeah, we didn’t do it exactly as the original. We put some different things in it and did some different vocals, but at that time we were a different style as well. We had a clean vocalist, but that was a long time ago.
If you were asked to record another cover right now, of another band, which band would you prefer to cover?
Shawn: *laughs* Amon Amarth I think.
I saw that coming! *laughs*
Shawn: When we were in Germany, where we played with Grave, the day before they played in that area. We drove, I don’t know how many miles.
Joseph: A long time. And that was all my doing. I bought them the tickets. But actually, it was strange, because I have photo’s of the three bands that played. It were Testament, Amon Amarth and Grand Magus, and I gave the photo’s a title as in very honorable mentions, because I never actually heard Grand Magus, I should be ashamed. I think they are a really good band. Very honorable mentions, childhood heroes, because when I was growing up I loved Testament. And the modern days Gods which are Amon Amarth, my favorite band. I actually saw Testament, and my favorite drummer of all time, Gene Hoglan. I really like him. And also Steve Digiorgio on bass. I couldn’t believe him. Ex Death. Anyway.
Do I understand correctly that Shawn has his own festival on Malta called Shellshock?
Shawn: Yes it is. I just announced that it will be happening in February 2018!
Cool! How did that happen man, how did you get your own festival?
Shawn: About seven years ago I think, or eight, I was in contact with Contradiction, the German band. I still am friends with them. They wanted to come to Malta and I told them I would organize a gig. From a two band gig, us and them, a couple of other bands joined in and it was an eight or nine band gig. So I said hey, it’s a festival now! *laughs* I named that Shellshock Metal Fest. I didn’t know if I wanted to do it more than once, but it went very well, a lot of people came. Two years passed and I said let’s try this again. I made the second edition of Shellshock and all of the Maltese Metal scene came. It was really big, and it was with 12 bands. Then the next Shellshock was with 16 bands. The last edition was one of the biggest successes I think.
Very awesome! Well if you’d like that, we would love to cover it in one of our editions!
Shawn: Yeah, thanks!
Absolutely. We love success stories like these in the Metal Scene.
Shawn: Yes. And the last one, with the last Shellshock I had Comic Con going on at the back of the festival *laughs*.
Joseph: It was really awesome, because this asshole ended up spending a lot of money on Walking Dead stuff *laughs*. There was lots of Walking Dead stuff on the Comic Con and I spent a lot of money on that.
Shawn: I talked to the Comic Con guys of Malta and they told me it’s really interesting, because a lot of Metalheads are into comics as well.
Also, yeah. It’s a bit of a crossover, absolutely.
Shawn: And they were very excited about it. They came and it was a really big success. There was cosplay going on, all the nerdy stuff that happens at Comic Con *laughs*
So, any zombie mosh pits there? *laughs*
Shawn: *both laugh* No, the mosh pits were at the stage.
I would love to see that *laughs*.
Shawn: But at the next edition they will be there as well.
Very cool. I think it’s a smart move.
Shawn: It is, because I contacted them again, last week, asked them are you in again, guys? *laughs* They said sure, we really had fun and we will do it again. So, that’s my thing now! *laughs*. A Metal festival with a Comic Con going on.
Then you should try the zombie mosh pit next edition! And film it! *laughs* That leads us to our last question, and that’s do you have any last words for our readers?
Joseph: Any last words for your readers… As you’ve noticed, he keeps putting the microphone in my face… *both laugh*
Shawn: Because he’s the talker! *laughs* I tell him I leave the PR and stuff for him.
Joseph: This English accent, they love it. The chicks love it *laughs*.
Shawn: I’ll tell your wife *laughs*
Joseph: Let’s see, for the readers. Obviously keep reading your magazine, because, you know..
Joseph: Great advice. Keep reading the magazine, stay Metal, keep supporting the scene, and keep an eye out for us. Hopefully we can start growing a bit more than we have so far. Not in size *laughs*, and we hope to see you guys soon in your country.
Great words, and we would love to see you as well. Thank you very much for your time, enjoy your evening.
Joseph: Thank you, it was awesome!
Shawn: Thank you Randy!