Interview: ALESTORM’s Gareth Murdock… Posted: 11/03/2015 by John O'Brien
During ALESTORM‘s raping, pillaging and plundering of Cork last October 2014 (I know… but better late than never…), I had the opportunity to sit down and chat with the band’s bass player and Belfast native, Garath ‘Gaz’ Murdock. We chatted about the incredible success that ALESTORM has been having in recent years. And also reminisced about his past exploits in the Irish metal scene.
I know ALESTORM are playing in town, but being the Irish Metal Archive I want to also focus on the Irish side of things which is why I wanted to talk to yourself.
Well! The first thing is… the new ALESTORM album “Sunset Of The Golden Age”. It isn’t the first album you or Pete Alcorn have done with the band?
You’re obviously with the band for a good while, then!
So, how does a Belfast man end up in a Scottish based band?
Haahhhh!!! Good question!
It was actually from just going to gigs in England. I think I first met Christopher at a HAMMERFALL gig in London a few years back. And it just kinda fell into place and we got to know each other. He was re-shuffling the band, you know! And he was like, “How would you like to play with us?”. Originally the guitar player left and Danny switched to guitars, so I came in on bass. It was a strange kind of circumstance and we just partied together and I just realised it would be quite fun if I did join the band. And all kind of just fell into place.
Yeah! Sure, if you know the guys and were already friends with them, why not? And being from Belfast yourself! Did you find traveling for rehearsals and practice difficult?
In the first place, I was kinda dropped into at the deep end, you know! I was basically told to go to Germany and we had like one day rehearsal before we set off and we just went and played. We’ve never actually needed to live in the same place as each other because just tour so much. During soundchecks we’d do new songs any time we needed to rehearse new songs to go to the studio or stuff like that, which actually worked out alright as far as having to live in different countries. So it’s been fairly easy. There’s never been a situation where I can’t travel to this or that.
Yeah! That’s one thing that stands out with ALESTORM, is the touring schedule is very hectic.
This last six years for me has been like no time at all. I mean! One day I was working in an Asda supermarket and the next I’m on tour and have been on tour for six years now, pretty much. It’s been mad!
Living the dream, so?
Living the dream! It can be a bit tired at times, but yeah! hahaa!!!
The current tour is going very well I see, with sold out shows in quite a few places?
Yeah! It’s been a massive success. We weren’t quite sure what to expect, you know. Especially back in the UK and here in Ireland. I’m not sure if it’s because if the Piratefest brand that we’re doing or if it’s generally just because of our new album, or whatever, but I’ve been super impressed with how it’s going so far.
Whatever it is, it’s working. And the album is doing very well also?
Yeah! It got into the charts and that kinda thing which is pretty exciting. Something I can tell my Grandmother, which is pretty nice.
Back on the current tour…
You were in Dublin last night. Was there a good turn-out for the show?
Yes! We were. Yeah! It was a pretty good… More people than I’ve ever played to in Dublin before with any band, so it was interesting to see. Cause it used to be back in the day, you’d play gigs in Dublin and you’d know 75% of the crowd. “Ohhh!!! there’s you, there’s you and you, How’s it going?”, but last night there’s all these kids I’ve never seen at a show before. And I’m expecting the same thing tomorrow in Belfast, if I’m honest.
Well that’s a good sign. For the band and the local crowds. And you’re bound to get a good turn-out in Belfast with yourself and Pete playing.
It’s looking good, alright! The venue is great and I’ll have some family there and all that. I don’t even know if that many people actually know that Pete and me are from here, cause they just assume Scottish band… Scottish members. But that’s just they way it is.
Hopefully there will be a good turn-out here in Cork tonight too!
You’ve played here before, yourself? Yeah?
I was here with SKYFORGER back in 2005. We played in Nancy Spains. I think it’s closed down now. And then we did an acoustic performance in Fred Zeppelin’s. So, yeah! We’re talking about ten years ago now.
Fred’s hasn’t changed that much at all, really!
Still the same. hahahaaa!!!
I’d love to actually go down later on, just for a memory lane trip, but I’m not sure how much time we have. I’m just happy to be here, to be honest. Because it’s been so long, I’ve never played here with ALESTORM before so this is going to be a first for us. I was quite shocked to see Cork on our tour list.
Cork can be a very funny town as regards metal gigs. I was surprised myself to see the Piratefest coming here. Given the climate for live metal here in recent years, I would have expected to see you play Limerick over Cork, actually!
Speaking of which… The Siege Of Limerick is taking place in a couple of weeks and is probably the biggest local metal event in the Irish scene at the minute. Have you been to one yet?
No I haven’t!
And the last date our tour is actually on the same day.
Who’s playing at that this year?
The Siege is a real mixed bag! MAEL MÓRDHA are playing with Steve Roche, their new singer. ABADDON INCARNATE are playing… a few UK band, CRUCIAMENTUM, BLOODSHOT DAWN, SEPREVATION. And THE SWARM are doing a one-off reformation show for it. OLD SEASON are playing it with their new vocalist, also! It should be great. You can’t go wrong with a free festival twice a year.
I’m excited for Steve. That’s a good gig for him. Good on him! And it’s been a long time since I’ve seen OLD SEASON. It would be good to catch them again cause they were always brilliant. When their “Vol.1” album was released, that was like one of the best Irish releases ever and then they just kind of disappeared.
I remember doing the Day Of Darkness 2004. I was doing filming for that and THE SWARM played at that as well. Those older festivels were great. I got to see loads of local bands… saw OLD SEASON and MAEL MÓRDHA for the first time. I miss like… Day Of Darkness. And all that kind of stuff! They were always fantastic. And there was one in Fibbers in Dublin out in the beer garden. There was always much more of a sense of community back then. It used to much more close-knit. But it doesn’t seem to be like that anymore, I think. One thing I have notice in Ireland would be more international gigs. Back in the day it either huge bands like JUDAS PRIEST or W.A.S.P. or someone like that. Or underground bands that some one would bring over. But there was never usually any middle-of-the-road bands like ourselves. There seems to a lot more like AMON AMARTH, OPETH… you know, that kinda thing. So that’s good to see, I guess. People actually going to gigs in Ireland, cause there was a time when no one did unless it was someone like MEGADETH or something like that.
There’s so many gigs coming up in Dublin lately, actually! It’s always the same time of year too. The Winter glut… it’s insane the amount of touring gigs scheduled for December and into February/March.
I’ve noticed that too! Even since this tour began… In Belfast they had CARCASS, they had DRAGONFORCE, they had ANATHEMA. There’s so much going on and that’s just in the last month while I’ve been away. It’s great for the scene and I live on the same street as the Limelight in Belfast which is handy for gigs.
Maybe it’s the UK connection or something? But I get the impression that most Ulster bands are more driven and aware of what needs to be done to get themselves out there beyond Ireland. The whole Province, or six counties at least, work together regardless of genre. Have you seen much of a difference between the Metal scene up North and the scene down this side of the border?
You could be right! That could very well be it. I don’t know many local bands at the minute in the South of Ireland. I’m not sure if I’m just not paying attention or that they haven’t been doing enough promotion and stuff.
I would have been better able to comment on this seven or eight years ago when I was more involved. Now because I’m on tour so much and lived in England for a while, I’m slowly getting back into it now that I’m living back in Belfast. I always found that there was a massive difference between the North and the South scenes. I’m not sure about now, to be honest. The only reference points I have now are our own gigs. Yesterday was good. Today is looking good. And tomorrow I’m sure will be good. so as far as I’m concerned the scene is quite healthy. But I really need to start going to gigs again to see what’s really going on.
Right! Like I was saying earlier… this being the Irish Metal Archive, we may as well dig into some of your past bands.
Oh! Here we go…
One of the earliest well known bands I know you were in was WAYLANDER, back in the day?
That’s right! I was sixteen years old when I joined WAYLANDER. I think there was a twenty year gap between me and the oldest guy in the band, at the time. That also came out of nowhere. I was just in the right place at the right time. And that gave me a kind of an incite to what it’s like on a bigger scale, you know. We went over to Germany and played and we went to France and places like that, so when I did join ALESTORM it wasn’t completely mad for me to play in a foreign country. I was in WAYLANDER for about four or five years. Did one album with them and it was incredible.
Unfortunately I had to leave the band to join ALESTORM, but they understood, I think. I needed to move on to bigger and better things while those guys all had work commitments and various other things which couldn’t let them do it on a full-time basis. So yeah! That’s pretty much what happened. But it was great… I was only reminiscing yesterday, actually! Cause we played in the Voodoo Lounge in Dublin and I played a gig there with WAYLANDER goodness knows how many years before and I was getting all these flashbacks.
Another band you would have been in before WAYLANDER was RUNECASTER?
Yeah! RUNECASTER. Me and Pete were both in that band. We were called UNCHAINED first and then changed to RUNECASTER cause we went down a kind of a folk route. We did some cool stuff in that band too. We supported ENSIFERUM in Dublin and other cool stuff… but again it just one of things that didn’t really work out. We were all young, you know! Yeah! That’s a blast from the past… hahahaaa!!!!
There’s other projects you’ve been involved with as well. I was on to you before for the Archive about PALLID FLESH?
PALLID FLESH… Jesus!!! I think I was fourteen when we started that band. That was incredible. I’d love to get my hands on that demo, actually! Was it you that was messaging me about it?
Yeah! I actually have a copy of it. It’s only a dodgy rip so I’ve no cover, but I’ll send it on to you.
Wow! I would love to hear it again. And see it, cause we did have hard copies of that demo. Goodness knows where they are now? I remember speaking to one of the guys from GAMA BOMB and the actually had a copy of it. But yeah! I’d love to see it again? hahahaha!!!
And I have a couple of demos from the band WHIPLASH that you played in, also! But have no other info on that band at all, if you can help with that?
Hahaha!!! WHIPLASH was a while back, that was
probably my first band in fact. We had no idea for a start that there already was the quite well known thrash band named WHIPLASH. We had two demos, “Sands of Time” and “Demo-Lition”… both were equally awful! WHIPLASH also featured Saul McMichael from WAYLANDER. WHIPLASH is pretty much how we ended up being mates and both joining WAYLANDER. We were sort of local celebrities in our hometown of Lisburn though.. good times!!
And there’s also your latest project called called MEKKWARRIOR that you’re involved with?
MEKKWARRIOR is actually my current side project. We’re mainly based over in Leeds in England ’cause I was living there for a year and met all those guys over there. We’ve released a demo and done a few gigs. Obviously they’re all on my schedule and are like, “Oh, can we do another gig?” and I’m like “Sorry, I’ve got a European tour I have to do”. But I would really love to do more of that. There’s talk of more stuff happening with MECKWARRIOR. I’d love to do some more shows and some irish shows in paerticular.
Yeah! The MEKKWARRIOR stuff that was up on bandcamp sounds really good actually.
Oh, good! You’ve heard it. That was only recorded a couple of years ago and we did our first gig last year and another gig in April of this year. and I’d love to do more with it, I really would! But it’s just timing, which is a bit of an issue, you know.
Well! That’s about it really!
Thanks a million for taking the time to sit down and taking the time to talk.
Yeah! No problem at all. It was really nice to talk about the old days. Something different for me. And I don’t really do much stuff in Ireland with ALESTORM so it’s nice to be recognised as a local. hahahahaa!!! And you delve deep… I’ve notice that! Even asking about PALLID FLESH. Like WOW…!!! I can barely even remember that it was so long ago.
Interview by John O’Brien