Interviews : 3 Inches of Blood

3 Inches of Blood : The current (Canadian) state of metal
3 Inches of Blood
With Brian Redman
Interviewed by

As I rolled into the venue, the concert room was empty, but the stage was already crowded for sound check. 3 Inches of Blood's six members barely fit onstage alongside their equipment, even while rocking out to a soundcheck version of "Axes of Evil," one of the brand new songs from the band's latest album, and Roadrunner Records debut, "Advance and Vanquish."

Mixing old-school metal mentality with in-depth storytelling, "Advance and Vanquish" is reminiscent of the heyday of Judas Priest, Accept, and Iron Maiden, thanks to singer Cam Pipes' fierce falsetto. At the same time, second vocalist Jamie Hooper adds an almost death metal element to the band with his ferocious harmony-laden screams.

New 3 Inches of Blood bassist Brian Redman was kind enough to sit down with me after soundcheck to discuss the band and how they became one of Roadrunner Records' newest signings, restoring a classic metal sound to the label that in its infancy had supported Mercyful Fate.

First off, I was reading on the website that you guys dig the old-school metal sound. It seems like you guys are against all the heavy metal subgenre labeling that has popped up in the past few years. What's your take on that? What do you say when someone says, "Oh, you're in a band?"

Yeah, I just tell 'em we're a heavy metal band. If someone wants me to describe the sound, then I just tell them it's traditional influenced heavy metal with a bit more of the teeth and balls of modern thrash...similar to the old style, but definitely a bit more heavy-handed.

You have the new blood in the band, too, either right after recording or right before the new album came out...

Well, I'm part of the new blood.

Yeah, what is it like coming into that, then? What is it like for these guys who have an album under their belts, and you come in and, you know...fresh off the news of getting signed to Roadrunner Records, what's that like?

It was exciting. It was definitely ... a large task to take on. Matt [Wood, drums] and I had about just under a month to learn all those songs, then a month to record them, so it was a lot of fine-tuning in the studio. But there were great songs. I had been in bands that had played with 3 Inches of Blood and I'd known 'em for a little bit, so it was cool to be a part of that, we all get along really well. The two brand-new guitar players [Justin Hagberg and Shane Clark] are doing great, they picked up the songs really well. They're playing amazing. The whole personality of the band is just like a bunch of brothers. There's no weird moody guy, and there's no ego. We're all just a bunch of jokers. It's a rolling comedy tour.

For me, it's exciting to be a part of just such an incredibly band, but also to be a band that's not doing what everyone else is doing.

Going with that, what is it like for the new guy in the band? Do you have to learn the past albums' stuff, or just the stuff you're focusing on for the tour?

Pretty much for this tour, we're just playing through most of 'Advance and Vanquish,' but we recorded "Ride Darkhorse Ride" and "Destroy The Orcs." "Orcs" is of course on the record, and "Darkhorse" will probably show up as a bonus track somewhere. But we're probably going to... well Jamie and Cam, the two "OGs" don't have a whole lot of interest in digging up a whole lot of the old songs. We'll probably dig up a couple...

Like "Balls of Ice" is a huge one of those ones that everyone wants us to play, but they don't wanna play it. That's one of those songs that they wrote in like 5 minutes and it caught on. And I think we'll probably try to learn it and like throw into a medley, like an extended bridge in a song, so people can have their "Balls of Ice," but we can have our not playing the whole thing...

But right now, we're focusing on "Advance and Vanquish" and writing some new stuff. We've got some new riffs and when we're home in April [2005], we'll probably try to jam some of those out.

You were talking about "Balls of Ice." What do you say to the people that pop in "Advance and Vanquish" and say "Oh, they're some joke band fooling around in the studio?" I mean when you're touring the country, it's not a joke to you guys, so what do you guys say to them?

I honestly think that we don't have to say shit. If they come out...you know, I understand the 16-18 year olds or some of the people who never got into Maiden or Priest or King Diamond or Mercyful Fate, and maybe they got into Korn or whatever, and none of that's wrong...but for somebody to so boldly say they love metal and say falsetto vocals and traditional heavy metal is a joke, I mean get the fuck out of here...come on.

If they come out and see us, we're not dressed up in loincloths like Manowar. We're rocking out until we pass out. The sincerity definitely comes out in the live show, as if it doesn't come out on the CD. None of us feel we have to apologize for anything or make up for anything like that. I mean if you look back to the metal bands that have definitely influenced our sound, like Priest or Accept...they wrote about stuff. They told you different stories, they didn't sing about like, "Oh, it's so hard, and it feels so bad, and my girlfriend left me" you know? Some people want to write about that stuff, and that's fine, but we don't choose to do that. I don't see how that would lend any credibility or take it away from us. We're just doing what we love, and what we've ALWAYS loved: the traditional heavy metal sound.

You touched on songwriting, what do you have to say about the trilogy on the album....Running Wild gets mentioned on the website...

Running Wild is a HUGE influence on my life.

Do you want to talk about that trilogy ["Upon The Boiling Sea"] on 'Advance and Vanquish,' then?

Well, Jaime and Cam, they wrote the lyrics. They write predominantly fantasy-based song. Whether it's songs like "Swordmaster" or "Wykydtron," dealing with futuristic battle or whatever...

The "Boiling Sea" trilogy came alive from rocking some Running Wild for quite a bit, and they were like "Let's do some riffs like that, some swashbuckling riffs," you know, and let's try and tie in a pirate theme...And so rather that write one song, they had so much material, why not try to break it up and make it a three-part story? It worked out pretty well.

When I read their lyrics, it's awesome, I get totally excited about it, and it makes playing it even more intense because they're well-written. A lot of people out there just don't get it, but it's like listening to a movie. You go to a movie to escape, so why can't you pop in a CD and go on a trip, you know? I love it, it's great.

You talked about all the old-school metal bands, Accept and Running Wild, so what was it like to find out that Ed Repka, you know of Megadeth-fame, what is it like to have him do your artwork?

It is insane. It pretty much blew all our minds. When we were looking around for artists to do the cover and coming up with ideas, we were talking to the guys at the label, Roadrunner, about what our options were, and somebody mentioned Ed Repka.

We were like, "What!?! Bullshit." Ed Repka is a mastermind artist...You know, they're saying Colin Richardson [engineer (Cannibal Corpse/Napalm Death)], Neil Kernon [producer (Judas Priest/Queensryche)], Ed Repka, and the whole time our heads are spinning. This was our first record out on a major, and we just got all the right cards in a row. It should never happen, we're just a bunch of kids just trying to make a rock record. We're working with all these gods, in our eyes, and it's still very surreal to this day.

Coming up, you're going on the Roadrunner Road Rage Tour with Trivium, The Agony Scene, Still Remains, all those guys, what's that like to be heading out with other bands that have the same intensity, the same passion for crazy, long guitar solos, story telling in their lyrics...What is it like to know you get to head out with them for weeks on end?

It's gonna be awesome...We got a chance to hang out with The Agony Scene...and we've gone out with Trivium before. Still Remains I haven't heard yet, but I hear they're awesome and good guys, so you know, it's cool to be on a label which has a history of some awesome bands, Obituary, Mercyful Fate, Sepultura's earlier stuff.... To see it go through the metamorphosis that it's gone through all the bands in its recent path to come back and start pushing more traditional metal...to go on tour with bands that are our age or under, and be playing with guys that have the same passion for metal in their blood, it's good to see it.

You mentioned the rise of heavy metal in the recent years, what's it like to be involved in the rise of heavy metal again, especially like the Northeast bands...Shadows Fall, Killswitch Engage...? Do you worry about oversaturation, with so many bands hopping on the bandwagon, or is that something you're embracing with all these new bans?

First of all, it's an exciting time to be involved in metal. All those bands, Shadows Fall, Killswitch Engage, Lamb of God, all these bands I dig, I remember when I was a kid, metal was huge...metal was everywhere. It seems like it's coming back to that. Metal never died, some people turned their backs on it in America, and now it's such a young draw, the young kids. To be part of that, it's amazing.

Oversaturation...I don't worry about that, 'cause I don't....if you look at true heavy metal and rockers in general, are some of the most sincere fans, collecting down to the most limited edition shit, you know ... It will never die. Maybe the comparison to the 80s hair metal saturation is like it blew up and fell off.

This is really nothing against the bands that do that stuff, but maybe some of that emo-metal crossover shit, there are so many bands out there doing it. There's so many different versions of it, and so many different subgenres of it. I think maybe that is what's gonna be a victim of the oversaturation of that. I'm not so much worried for us, but at the same time, metal had its heyday and it left, and it's having its heyday again, and I'm not gonna fool myself and think it's gonna last forever, but I'm glad to be part of it while it's around.

On a different subject, you said you guys are maybe gonna be cranking out some new riffs and stuff by April [2005], do you guys have plans for a new record by the end of the year, or what?

No, we're only really gonna be home for like a week and a half at the most, but we're gonna do our best to jam our asses off and write some riffs on the road. It's hard to write on the road, especially when we don't have much gear. We're still pretty broke.

We're gonna be home, then from home we're gonna head off to Canada, then from Canada we're going to New England Metalfest and we'll go to Europe and be back in June. Depending on how the summer shapes up, if we have time in June, then definitely we'll bust our ass and try to start writing as much as possible...good quality stuff, but we don't want to rush a record, by any means. We're definitely conscious about trying to evolve and keep a real steady work pace, and not get lazy...As much time as it allows, we'll be working our ass off.

And you guys are from Canada, like you said...But is it different when you tour the States, or do you not even notice when you cross the border?

No, you totally know. I mean in certain ways.... Everyone in the band is from Canada, except for me. I'm from Tacoma, Washington. Touring the States is touring the States. It's cool in some places, it's not so cool in some places. I've been really surprised in some of the east tours...I mean, like Boise, Idaho was fucking awesome. I mean when you think of Boise, Idaho, you think of white supremacists and potatoes, but it's totally a progressive city with awesome restaurants, awesome people, cool coffee shops, a college, an art museum...it's totally a cool city. And Salt Lake City was a great show, and Colorado Springs was a great show, and all these places are awesome.

You go through your hot spots, and your low spots. The Midwest is sometimes hard, and the East Coast, you know when you go up there, like New York and Boston it's always awesome. The south is kinda spotty, and Texas kicks ass. Southern California is awesome, Northern California is...hit and miss. Seattle's always awesome, Portland's always awesome.

Getting into Canada, Vancouver's pretty cool. There are some great places to play in B.C. [British Columbia, Canada], like Victoria and Cologne are great.

The drives are longer in Canada. Way longer. Way, WAY longer. Like, once you get to Alberta and Calgary and stuff, there isn't shit until like Montreal. And that's a lot of fucking land to cross. It's cool 'cause it's a really beautiful country, and it's scenic and really clean. That's the one thing it's definitely easy to notice: it's really clean. That sounds like maybe a dumb comparison, but these are the things we notice, 'cause we spend our whole time driving pretty much.

But the shows,...I mean kids are kids. Canada and America pretty much have the same crowd. You've got cool places and then you've got your jaded kids who are just trying to look cool, like L.A. You know, L.A., some kids are way into it, and some kids want to get into it, but are maybe afraid of getting into it and getting made fun of.

But then you go to Europe...we haven't been there yet, but I was there one of my other bands, and European kids totally eat this shit up, they go crazy, they're passionate about it. And maybe over here we're spoiled 'cause we have shows all the time or something, I don't know.

I'm about done, although I have one more important one. Is it cheesy to rock out to your own stuff? Is it okay to be cranking 3 Inches of Blood when you've got four hours to drive across Canada? Is it cheesy, or is it lame, or what? Do you do that? Do you wear your own band t-shirts up on stage?

We definitely don't wear our own stuff. I've always felt weird about that. I actually have an old t-shirt of a band I used to be in...It's an awesome t-shirt, but I never wore it when I was in the band. I just feel weird. We think they're cool, we don't want to put out stuff that doesn't look cool, but it feels weird to wear your own stuff.

As far as listening to our own stuff ... Some guys in the band just WON'T, like they refuse to. Maybe it's because it's weird to listen to yourself play or sing or whatever. Most of the time, I don't listen to anything I've made, but there are a few records that I have been a part of and just totally love, and this is definitely one of them. I really, really dig this record. The songs are solid, the whole record through. It just gets to me, I love listening to it, I love playing it. I definitely listen to it. I know a couple of the ... Well, I think mainly the new kids listen to it. The singers never want to listen to it, singers never want to listen to their voice .... I totally listen to this record. As a collective band, we don't. And you probably won't catch us wearing our own shirts, unless someone steals all our clothes .

3 Inches of Blood are road warriors, so they're always on the road and playing quite cheaply (this show was only $8 or $9), so anyone into Maiden, Priest, Mercyful Fate, and the whole gamut of traditional metal immortals should definitely do their best to check out a show.