Interview: TWISTED WRATH frontman, Pat Fitzgerald… Posted: 04/02/2016 by John O'Brien
IMA: I suppose we’ll just start off with a history of the band and where you are today?
Pat: Well! The band started about this time, since 2007. So it’s been going for about eight years now, at this stage. It started off with myself and Colin (Dunne) when we were playing in our own band, mainly a covers band as we were only seventeen at the time, and Colin said “Do you fancy getting an original thing going together?”. And so that’s exactly what we did. We met up in December 2007 and we just got through the process of learning the likes of IRON MAIDEN songs to play and we very quickly kicked into our own stuff. And it’s been a fully original thing since and grew over the last eight years. So yeah! We are the only two original members left. It has always been neww bass players, new drummers coming in every couple of years. And the band has kinda progressed then in style and in our technicality as well. And this current line-up with Dave (Mahony) the drummer being in the band since 2010 is the most solid line-up we’ve had in quite some time.
Style wise we really did wear our influences on our sleeves and we played music that pretty tried to be some hybrid between METALLICA and IRON MAIDEN and maybe a bit of JUDAS PRIEST thrown in there as well. I suppose that’s what a lot of young bands do… they fall into that trap where you just don’t really have the technicality or creativity when you do start off writing music at a young age to form your own REAL original content. You just really emulate what you listen to. And when I listen back now on the earlier stuff that we recorded ourselves and released out into the World, a lot of it is very PRIEST or MAIDEN, a lot of dual harmonies and stuff like that. A very classic metal type thing and I look back now and think if we only had sense back then to maybe do things a bit differently.
IMA: Definitely the progression has been noticeable over the years as your releases have gone on. Particularly from “Hath Fury” onwards, which was the border release between REBORN and changing your name to TWISTED WRATH.
Pat: Exactly! Yeah… Nowadays we’re a bit heavier and not as constricted by styles as we were when we were younger. And that’s the point where we crossed over into a little bit more maturity. The music get a little tighter, more polished, more thought out and more original as well. Every band wants to be a bit more original and I think we’re still striving for that ourselves. I mean it’s never a good thing to just think you’ve hit the nail on the head and that’s it, you know! You don’t have to challenge yourself or try to do something a little bit different. And we realised not too long after “Hath Fury” that we needed to move, not necessarily away from, but forward from a classic heavy metal or NWOBHM sound. We decided to not restrict ourselves in any particular style and so it kinda developed towards “Madman’s Chorus” where we moved towards a heavier more modern thrash and you can definitely hear it’s gone away from the MAIDEN and PRIEST influences. It wasn’t a conscious attempt to move away either, but what actually happened was more members in the band started to have more of a say.
The writing used to be limited to just myself and Colin and it wasn’t a great way of doing things. Some bands can do it well like IRON MAIDEN and Steve Harris who would write a serious amount of their music. But towards “Madman’s Chorus” and on to this new “Jackals” release, more of the members started to really put their stamp on things. There’s more of a technical drumming style on them than on previous releases, which will happen anyway when you get new members in with different skill sets. Especially with the new release you can really see it coming in to play where the songs are very much influenced by the two mebers who have been in the band the least amount of time, one of which isn’t even in the band any more (Niall McGuinness). They like to mess around with different time signatures and look at a song and say, “Right… well what’s the natural transition here?” or “What would you expect to hear as the next part of the song?”, and then say “Well let’s try something different, and see how that sounds then!”. And not simply keep to those structures. If it works it works then great, and if it doesn’t so be it.
IMA: Well the two new tracks definitely stand on their own, I think. And you took a different approach to it as well because you’re after switching from guitars to bass yourself.
Pat: Yeah! Which means my influence on the guitar side of things has taken a lesser role, and I think that comes out in a lot of the riffs. Very little of it was written by myself, guitar wise. I just basically took it upon myself to focus on the vocals and tried to come with as interesting bass lines as I could. But that goes to show when Colin is allowed to go off and come up with whatever he can for these songs that he’s able to express himself and be more creative. Simple isn’t always bad, but I think at the moment he’s enjoying being able to have a monopoly on that side of things. That being said, he’s always open to my ideas on riffs as well.
IMA: Yeah! You can really pick out the individual members and their influences, alright. And it seems to be a more focused and defined release. Even style wise it’s a step up. Take ‘The Jackal’… when the main riff at the start kicks in, the first thing that comes into my head is ANTHRAX. But then as the song went on, all I could relate it to was a DEATH style with the harmonies and especially the vocals. Not to their death metal intensity, as such. But the general feel to it.
Pat: I would agree with you, there. DEATH are a band I’ve only really discovered in the last couple few years, and that’s pushed me on to a lot of that style of music. And I’m not surprised that it’s come out in the writing either. But if you asked Dave, he wouldn’t hear DEATH at all in it. And if you asked Colin he’d tell you he gets a SLAYER vibe off it. And it’s funny how many people who have heard the tracks who tell us the different things they hear in them, so it’s interesting to have such different opinions. Even within the band.
On the other track ‘The Beast’, some people have come back and said they hear a bit of TOOL in there, which is interesting as well. And then others say it feels very doomy or even proggy, but I wouldn’t necessarily agree with the prog comparisons as I feel it’s a word often used to generalise a song that sounds a bit technical. It’s interesting and I hope the people find what we’re doing interesting.
There’s something to be said for unorthodoxy in metal bands. And some people would say if you’re a classic metal band then you’ve gotta play classic metal, or if you’re a punk band then you’ve gotta play punk. Or whatever genre! Take for instance a band like STEREO NASTY here in the Irish scene… they’ve released and absolutely killer album in that style that they’ve absolutely nailed. If they were to out on their next album with a more modern metal sound, you could say well that’s a bizarre choice. I would at least hope that if you listened to TWISTED WRATH from say “Hath Fury” onwards that it doesn’t sound like a jump from one style to another, and that it comes across as progressing steadily and evolving naturally. And even the newer songs that we’ve written for our next release again, even they have moved on from ‘The Jackal’ and ‘The Beast’ and have taken their own path.
IMA: Speaking of the next release… You had a deal before with Pure Steal Records. Is that still in place or what’s the story?
Pat: Right now, I don’t think anything is set in stone. When we had this agreement with Pure Steel it was based off “Madman’s Chorus”. They were quite impressed with it, although they were unable to get involved with it as they mainly work with albums. And we said we were in the process of writing an album with a view having it out within 12-18 months, but that was two years ago. Of course we had a member leaving and the whole process became stalled and we didn’t really know what our next step was going to be. And then the music started to change, too. And we started to write a bit differently. And I suppose the problem with writing sporadically over a long period, is that sometimes the songs can sound a bit disjointed and not sound the same as songs written a year previous. We didn’t really push on with the proper writing sessions when we had this agreement with Pure Steel, even though it wasn’t really anything set in stone either.
I do feel however that with the next one we will release it independently again and have a lot more control over it. But again that’s all up in the air and we’ll probably review that situation a little down the line, I’d imagine next year. We just want to focus on getting this one out, promoting it and getting it to as many people as possible.
IMA: Do you plan on going for an album next time?
Pat: Right now! I think the best thing we could do next is go for a full album. We have a fair number of songs written. Not completed, but then songs are never really fully completed until you’re in the studio and can edit on the fly. But right now I think we’re well on the way to having an album written and the general quality, from my own biased opinion, I think we have some absolutely fantastic songs and will turn into a very cool album. We’re already even starting to play some of these newer songs live and getting a better feel for them and getting great comments on them from those who have seen us play them.
IMA: Do you think it will be all new recordings and new tracks? Or will you possibly see yourself re-recording some previously released tracks?
Pat: No! There will be no re-recording as far as we’re concerned, unless we change our minds drastically. The way we see it… when we recorded our first EP it was a home studio, sitting room job. A bunch of 17-18 year olds just recording what we had. Songs like ‘Forever Known’ and ‘Patriot’. We re-recorded some of those again on “Blood And Hell” then ‘Forever Known’ again was re-recorded a third time on “Hath Fury”. And that was because it was a song that we really liked and was a song the people really responded to. We still even get people asking why we don’t play it live that much anymore. But I think after that we agreed that it wasn’t in our interest to re-record anything again and the reason why is that we like to look at each individual release as being indicative of that particular time period for the band, the time they were written in and the context they were created in. I don’t see any reason to re-release them again. Certainly not from “Hath Fury” backwards any way. I don’t think it would benefit us at all, unless maybe it was a case of taking a song and completely re-working it.
Take the latest release again. We just feel that these two tracks work better together and compliment each other. So we decided to get these two out on their own separate release because standing on their own they’re a lot stronger than in a group. At least that’s our opinion on it, anyway.
IMA: You recorded the new EP with Ciaran Culhane. Why did you decide to keep it local and go with Ciaran this time around?
Pat: Well! A number of things came in to play. First of all we kinda fancied to go with someone a little more stripped back and make it a little less polished and a raw sound, as the tracks we felt suited a more raw sound. We recorded our previous two EP’s was Lasse Lammert in Germany, who is an absolutely incredible producer and got the best out of us. He even played a part in pushing us in new directions as well by making us question ourselves. He also commands a pretty substantial fee, so we took a financial decision as well. We wanted to be able to afford to promote it and release it properly. So we decided to go for someone more local. And you can see that with “Madman’s Chorus” where we released it online and maybe shot ourselves in the foot when we didn’t release it physically. It was very well received generally. We had it online for free so it did well in the download numbers with people and reviewers really seeming to enjoy it. So we made the decision to do it that way this time.
We were familiar with Ciaran and some stuff he’s done with the likes of RITES and others. He’s not only an incredible musician, which is more than evident with his own band SHARDBORNE, but he’s great in the studio. He will give his honest opinion if he thinks something or someone is not good enough. And the work rate for the couple of days we were with him, he just did as fantastic job and we’re very happy with how the tracks came out in the end. We’re happy with the production and the sound that came out, particularly the drum sound. And I thought he handled to vocals quite well, which I’m always overly critical of my own vocals, and Ciaran did a great job.
IMA: OK! So one last question for you. Being the IRISH Metal Archive, Are there any other Irish bands that you’ve been listening to lately? Are there any new releases that have caught your ear?
Pat: Yeah! Of course. The new STEREO NASTY release is just absolutely blistering. I remember when they had released the stand alone track ‘Black Widow’ and I just thought these guys have absolutely nailed it. Their image and everything is fantastic. Even the artwork for the “Nasty By Nature” album. They’re certainly showing a lot of people how it’s done when you market yourself, present yourself in the right way and simply have a lot of confidence in what you’re doing. One album in and they’re already standing head and shoulders above most others.
I’ve always enjoyed BRIGANTIA’s stuff as well. We’ve gigged a few times with them back an 2009-2010 and they’re a band that for me are absolutely incredible. When they’re on, they are very much ON. I also really enjoyed THREE HOUR CEASEFIRE, a Limerick based band who I was very much into four or five years a go when they were doing the rounds.
But yeah! There’s a lot of really cool bands out there. Galway band ILENKUS are really interesting. I remember gigging with them in Sally’s back in 2009 and they’re still going today, and are just getting better and better. They had that very cool video wandering through Shop Street which was really interesting and bold and I thought to myself, “How is he not mortified?”. But then that’s the difference sometimes between bands. They just broke the mould and did something that was just different and didn’t bat an eyelid.
I also have a lot of respect for DEAD LABEL who have really gone all out and promoted themselves and pushed themselves to get where they are. I mean they’ve just gone on tour with FEAR FACTORY across Europe, the UK and Ireland. They’ve gone out and toured across America. They’ve played Bloodstock and I think are playing Metal Days. That’s a band who have serious commitment and are really determined try and get out there. They’re setting the bar high in that sense, as well.
IMA: Alright so! I won’t keep you any longer. Thanks a million for taking the time to talk.
Pat: No problem at all! Thank you, John!
Interviewed by John O’Brien
Catch the TWISTED WRATH live…
Feb 6th – Metal 2 The Masses, Fibbers, Dublin.
March 27th – Siege of Limerick, Dolan’s, Limerick.
April 16th – Night Of The Exorcism, Warzone, Belfast.