Not only have Sydney’s own Justice For The Damned had to work hard to get to where they are today, they’ve also had to play that much horrible waiting game at the same time!
Over the last few years, the home-grown quintet of Nick Adams (Guitar), Chas Levi (Drums), Ben Mirfin (Bass), Bobak Rafiee (Vocals) and Nathan Kershaw (Guitar) have painstakingly planned their journey to the release of their first album. Along the way, they have shared the stage alongside other homegrown talent as Polaris and Northlane. The first seven months of 2017 haven’t been slow either: not only has Justice For The Damned toured alongside upcoming acts such as Void Of Visions and Graves, they’ve also performed at the sold out Melbourne Invasion Festival AND Unity Festival 2017.
Last year Justice For The Damned got to step into the recording studio and lay down their debut album Dragged Through The Dirt, after already releasing two EPs previously. Dragged Through The Dirt is available August 11th via Greyscale Records. OVERDRIVE Music Magazine got the opportunity to talk to Adams about the band’s upcoming debut album, as well as what lays ahead; our first topic of discussion was that previously mentioned waiting game.
“It’s pretty special for the band that the moment is finally here!” was Adams opening statement, before elaborating further: ”We definitely have been waiting a long time; the album was recorded roughly a year ago, so we’ve been sitting back and waiting AAAAGES for it (laughs) Now that it’s finally coming, we’re just sitting grateful and thankful to see the day.”
Dragged Through The Dirt was produced by Sam Basal (Ocean Grove/Endless Heights) back in 2016; Adams let us how that came to light and how much fun the band had during the experience:
“Man, that was actually really cool! It was pretty interesting how we came to that decision. Because we’re all friends, we had been in correspondence and talked about it before; it was a little while ago that we were going to do one show in Adelaide and we thought “that’s a long trip for one show, how can we make it a bit more worth the trip?” We had this song waiting and we thought “why don’t we give Sam a crack and record it?” That’s how we ended up doing Please Don’t Leave Me and then obviously we decided “yeah, let’s do this album!” Being able to do it was really exciting and really cool, because it was such a comfortable working environment; it was definitely a lot more laid back than what we had done previously, you know with proper studio rooms. We were able to go to go to his house where it was a bit more homely and inviting; Sam and his family were really nice and welcoming, so overall the experience was much more relaxed but equally productive and awesome!”
As people on the outside, we’ve been able to assess the last year of progress that Justice For The Damned have had; have the band been able to reflect on what they’ve achieved this last twelve months? Adams informs us that: “Definitely! There have been a lot of moments; I’m sure individually we’ve sat back and looked at what we’ve done this last year since recording and thought “that’s just crazy all this stuff has happened.” At the moment, one thing that is worth saying is that it’s almost hard to reflect because what’s in out head and what’s coming up is much more daunting!”
And what is coming up you may ask? Not only would that be two small tours around Australia , but also a MASSIVE tour across Europe supporting Thy Art Is Murder in which they will be playing 28 shows in 30 days! After playing alongside Thy Art Is Murder at Unity Festival this year, it would seem that Justice For The Damned impressed them with their live set to earn that support slot; Adams explains that wasn’t the case though:
“We didn’t actually get to hang out with them or play that much at all during the festival (laughs). It came about with our label head/booking manager Ash, as he’s quite close enough with Andy Marsh who runs a lot of the operations with Thy Art; there was correspondence about what we were doing and Andy got to listen to the album pretty early on. From what he saw, from what Ash told him and what we would from doing his research, I think that’s how he made the decision and gave us the chance; we’re thankful that he did because so many great things have come from it!” Touching on the daunting feat of doing 28 shows in 30 days, Adams explained how “the best thing for us preparation wise is that we’re not a band that always practises a lot; we usually only sneak in a couple of practises if there’s a tour coming. With this however, we’re practising A LOT (laughs) There’s a lot more rehearsals making sure our set is exactly how we want it to be. It’s really hard though, because we’ve sat and reflected on what’s coming and we sort of come to a unanimous agreement that we won’t truly be prepared for what we’re going to see. Having said that though, on the day we found out our bass player was In tears and calling everyone!”
With the band flying all the way over to Europe for their first overseas tour, were they getting to take some time out to sightsee after the hectic tour? Adams had a small chuckle before explaining what is in store for Justice For The Damned after the tour concludes:
“You know what, it’s funny that you mention that; we didn’t actually have anything planned but do you know the band Polaris from Sydney? We’ve been tight with them for so many years and it turns out that their European tour starts only a couple of days after ours, in the same place; we’re actually going to leaving places as they’re arriving! We’re in talks at the moments about staying a couple of days back and just hanging out with the guys, I think it’s in Germany and sinking beers or whatever we feel like doing in those few days (laughs)”
Knowing that Justice For The Damned most likely aren’t getting to spend much time sightseeing after they finish touring Europe, this interviewer wanted to know where the band not only wanted to get to experience as a tourist after performing a tour, but also where they would like to get to take their live show around the world. Adams replied with “You know what, there’s an answer for both of those things! When it comes to getting our music around, we’re really excited to get to the United States one day; there’s been nothing solid but we’ve sort of been in talks about what we can do to make that happen, but that’s definitely somewhere we’d love to take our music! When it comes to somewhere that’s really cool that’d we want to see a lot of; that’s Japan. We definitely want to go there, not only to play but also to check it out. Our singer Bobak has been there already and he just says it’s the best; when he talks about all the food and all the attractions it sounds like so much fun!”
After finding out that Justice For The Damned have been waiting SO long since recording Dragged Through The Dirt for it to be released, this interviewer was curious as to whether the band has started making progress towards writing any material for a second album; Adams informed me that “I play guitar so I do a lot of the riff writing. Actually, within the last couple of weeks I’ve been cooking up some song structures and some riffs at home. Not only just developing an idea and a vision of what will come next, but how I want it to happen with sound and how we want to approach it; we haven’t really sat down together yet to do much as I’ve just started the most primary workings on riffs. Plus obviously it’s going to be pretty busy coming up, but when we definitely have a chance to we’ll talk about it more; I sort of show the guys a small trickle here and there by going “I was doing this the other day and this the other day, what do you reckon?”. But when we can and we have more time, we’ll definitely start coming together and get a bit more collaborative by going “this is where we want to take it” or “I like where you were heading with this/I don’t like where you going with this”.
Alongside playing guitar, Adams is also the main song writer in Justice For The Damned; he explained a little more about the writing process that takes place:
“I actually do the lyrics as well. I’ll have a phrasing in mind and what will come next is when we actually hit the studio; I’ll show what I’ve got, then Bobak will go to sing it and he might make changes on phrasing or words depending on how it’s sounding. You’ve got how it’s meant to sound in your head but when you actually get there and do it something different might come up. So essentially, I’ll come up with what you hear, then we get to the studio and we’ll change things on the fly and make alterations as we see fit.”
Considering this interview was originally also meant to have Rafiee alongside Adams, the original several questions that were written down to be asked only took up just over half the allocated interview time; that meant this interviewer had to think on the fly and rack his brain to think of more hard hitting questions to ask Adams. Thankfully, the first one that came to mind was whether Adams got more satisfaction from a technical standpoint working on the guitar riffs or the lyrical content: this was the initial response, “Wow; that’s a pretty good question!” After reminding Adams that it was thought of on the fly, he let out a chuckle before continuing;
“That’s really good; well you know what, they both have their merits; there’s things that are most definitely attractive about both! I’m definitely more of a guitar player than I’ve ever been a vocalist. I done bits and pieces with my own voice here and here, but I’ve always struggled with vocals. I think at the end of the day that although it is satisfying with vocals to write what’s in your heart and do all that sort of stuff, I can’t get past writing a delicious riff and going “yeah that was mad!” (laughs). Don’t get me wrong; it’s pretty overwhelming when you’ve got people singing lyrics back to you because you’ll obviously think back at what those lyrics mean to you but I just love me a good riff!!”
Dragged Through The Dirt has been labelled as “the heaviest Australian album of 2017” and upon listening to the album when preparing the questions for the interview, this interviewer’s first thought was that of a love child between very early Parkway Drive and very early I Killed The Prom Queen that had managed to turn it up to 12, somehow surpassing Spinal Tap’s amps that go all the way to 11! Upon mentioning that to Adams at the end of the interview, Adams let out a good heart felt laugh before saying “I love it, it’s hectic that you thought that!”
Justice For The Damned are heading out to do 4 shows in August and then another 8 shows in September, before supporting Thy Art Is Murder on that insane 28 shows in 30 day European Tour starting on September 29th. As mentioned previously, Dragged Through The Dirt is available August 11th via Greyscale Records; make sure to get your hands on a copy and support these hard working Australians!