Interview by Elek Malcolm-Madill
What do you think of first when you hear the words "New Zealand"? From my own Canadian point of view, the first things that pop into my head are Peter Jackson, the Lord of the Rings movies, Flight of the Conchords, and the All Blacks. It's not often that you'd (or I suppose I should say "I'd") associate New Zealand in particular with extreme music- but my own associations will be forever changed because of Auckland, New Zealand band Slavedriver, who crank out some great tunes that incorporate aspects of grindcore, sludge metal, hardcore, and black metal all into one nasty/tasty production. I recently reviewed their album "Marauders of the Wasteland" and enjoyed it so much I asked the band for an interview, to which they obliged me. What follows is a back-and-forth exchange between myself and Glenn, Slavedriver's drummer.
FBN: To start with could you tell me who you are and what Slavedriver is for introductions sake?
Glenn: I'm Glenn the drummer for Slavedriver. We're from Auckland, New Zealand at the ass end of the globe. Slavedriver exist to be musically abhorrent to the general population so that a few random munters can vibe out on us. We listen to and rip off a whole bunch of shit from different bands and genres but I guess we consider ourselves a heavy hardcore punk band or punk/metal hybrid, whatever. Really we just like to get ridiculously high and come up with the most intense shit we can.
FBN: How did you and the rest of the band meet and start playing together? Is it hard to find other people such as yourself who like hardcore and other extreme music in Auckland or New Zealand in general?
Glenn: Not at all, the scene's small and somewhat incestuous down here with the same people cropping up in different bands all the time but there's always people who are committed to this music and keen to start something up. Jag and I have been friends since school and we've always been in some sort of band together while growing up. We knew Mike, Ahmed and Ahnand from going to shows and they've played in their own bands in the past. Just from seeing each other at shows all the time we ended up good friends so it was only natural we'd start jamming as well. Pretty much Slavedriver started when Ahmed and our former guitarist Andy wanted to start up a kinda grindy hardcore punk band and they heard I drummed so hit me up at a show about jamming with them. We had a few practises and a few line up shifts then Mike jumped in on bass and Jag on second guitar. Andy left to travel so we floundered around for a bit doing fuck all except playing the occasional horrendous, bourbon-fuelled gig/abortion. Then Mike moved into a new place (333hunna!) that we started practising in again but he wanted to jump on guitar instead of bass. Ahnand was always hanging around at the same place so luckily he just followed the riff to the smoke filled room, picked up the bass with us and here we are now.
FBN: What would some of your own personal, as well as the band as a whole's influences be-musical or otherwise?
Glenn: I like all sorts of shit as do all of us in this band, it’s cool ‘cos we all collectively dig the same shit. On the whole I’d say the shit that influences our sound is Integrity, Amebix, electric puha, Catharsis, dank nugs, Extreme Noise Terror, orange roughies, His Hero is Gone, Obituary, the almighty jah essence, Gehenna, Dystopia, spots, Full of Hell, space herb. Bathory, Trap Them, gandalf gunja, Entombed, pungent kush, Napalm Death and Neurosis. We're also fans of different books, films, just pop culture shit in general. Ahmed's lyrics are real influenced by comic books and dystopian sci-fi films. Oh and Dragon Ball Z. Shout outs to Kakarot.
FBN: Well now I have to ask as well after that Dragon Ball shout out- if each member of the band were DBZ characters who would be who?
Glenn: I’m Gotenks, Ahmed would be Picon, Mike is Vegeta, Jag is Broly and Ahnand is Master Roshi.
FBN: Have you and the rest of the guys in Slavedriver found it difficult to gain exposure due to living in New Zealand or has the internet bridged that gap to an extent?
Glenn: It was something we hadn't even thought about when we released the EP, we were just happy for the people we know to dig it and get local shows so it came as a bit of a shock to us that people overseas would even give a shit. In terms of New Zealand acts getting success overseas, I think it's a lot easier than it used to be thanks of course to blogging, downloading and whatever else. You don’t even need to tour for some dude in fucking Albuquerque or what have you to be fawning over your stuff. You just have to look at the props bands like Diocletian and Ulcerate are getting overseas to see how NZ bands can fare overseas.
FBN: Do you see any possibility for future tours in New Zealand or in Australia?
Glenn: Nothing set in stone but we definitely want to do a big NZ tour soon and real keen on doing something in Australia in the near future.
FBN: Any idea at the moment on what you have in store for future releases as Slavedriver?
Glenn: Think we're working on a split with another band at the moment, just need to head in and record some stuff for it. Other than that we're just gonna keep smoking up large and writing some new stuff, hopefully come out with an album next year or something. Watch this space plebs!
FBN: I've gotta ask, where was the sample on the opening track to Raiders of the Wasteland taken from? And who did the album artwork?
Glenn: It's from Blade Runner, towards the end of the film where Harrison Ford and the replicant have a mean scrap, like I said we're pretty big film nerds in this band and it fit in with a lot of what Ahmed’s lyrics are about. Ahnand our bassist did the artwork, he's one talented motherfucker, hit him up people.
FBN: With you being pretty big film buffs then, what are some of your other favourites? Think you'll be using any more samples in future releases from stuff like Blade Runner?
Glenn: Yeah for sure, gotta keep that shit sounding sinister. Some of our other favourites include Ghost in the Shell, Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer, Predator, Boogie Nights and The Good, The Bad and the Ugly. Also local classics like ‘Little Johnny Drifting his Cifero’ and ‘Krak Upzz.’
FBN: Finally, to wrap things up do you have any final words, shout outs, or otherwise you'd like to get in?
Glenn: Shout outs to the 333 abode for giving us a place to aurally terrorize Kingsland every Saturday for the last year or so and anyone who’s been sucker enough to buy our shit. Also for other sweet NZ bands check out With Teeth, Parents, Graves, Caroles, Losses, Conniption and Trepanation.
FBN: Awesome, thanks for taking the time to do this interview with me Glenn.
Glenn: Thank you my man!
Head over to Slavedriver's bandcamp page and grab "Marauders of the Wasteland" if you haven't already and be sure to keep an eye out for that split Glenn mentioned as well as other releases from the band.