Well, earlier today I reviewed their EP, then a few hours later their frontman got in touch with me about an interview we'd been planning to do. So here it is folks, my interview with James "Maddog" O'Lewis the mighty thrash metal behemoth!
G'day James, how's it going this arvo? Let’s start things off with a bit of background on Teratornis. Who's in the band? How long have you been at it? What style you guys play? And any other relevant info for the readers out there who may not have heard of you guys yet.
Not too bad thanks Wayde. Cheers for giving us the oppurtunity for an interview!
Teratornis has been gonig for a few years now, started back in high school just playing playing covers and after we left school we got more serious and started writing our own shit.
Our first real line up was Jackson on drums, Sean on Bass, TT on guitar, me on guitar and we had a singer. Played one gig with this lineup but our sound was changing to more heavier thrashy sound and we decided to ditch the singer and I took over on vocals as well as playing guitar. This has been the lineup for a bit over a year now and things are starting to come along with our debut EP "Back From Extinction" under our belt and some decent shows coming up in the future. So the lineup now is:
James - Guitar/Vocals
TT - Guitar/Backing Vocals
Sean - Bass
Stone Cold Jackson - Drums
We are all mates out of the band anyway so we take the piss a fair bit and that keeps it fun.
How would you describe your sound to someone who hasn't heard the band before? What influences and elements go into making a Teratornis song?
Pretty much straight forward thrash with some technical and progressive thrash influences thrown in. We are influenced by a heap of stuff, some outside of thrash too. When I’m making a song I usually listen to one band a shitload and then get inspired to write a song. I’m a big Coroner and tech thrash fan so I like to throw in some tricky riffs and song structures to keep the listener guessing, makes it a bit more interesting that way haha. The bands we all listen to and influence our sound the most are Destruction, Coroner, Sodom, Sepultura, and Kreator to name a few.
Classic influences right there mate!
Tell us a bit about your recently released EP "Back From Extinction". Where was it recorded? What went into the recording and writing process? How long did it take? etc etc.
Will do. We wrote the songs a while before we went into recording, because it was our first recording we just did it when we were ready, Even though it took us long enough to finally record a release! haha. Recording took place at LA Studio in Wetherill Park, Sydney. We recorded the EP with jENK, who has recorded heaps of other Aussie metal bands and knows what he's doing that’s for sure. We were in there for about 7 days in total, which cost a lot more than we expected, and with no label backing or anything we were pretty poor after it all. Had some difficulty recording some parts of our songs that are odd time signatures because we just play them by feel so setting up the click track for those parts was a nightmare! But we are happy with the recording and feel it does us some justice for the hard work we put in.
It's good to know you're happy with the finished product, I think it turned out great!
I understand that recently you guys had to pull out from playing a show because your drummer had surgery. What was/is wrong with him? How has his recovery process been?
Yeah we were looking forward to that gig too haha! Jackson our drummer has Crohns disease and it makes his intestines swell up which is fucking painful.
The night of our EP launch he was in alot of pain, was lying in the car while the other bands were on, then he spewed and somehow he played the tightest set he's every played!
His condition was only getting worse so his doctor reccommended he get surgury asap and that happened to be on day before the gig we had to pull out of. We tried to get a replacement drummer but there wasnt enough time to properly learn the songs and practice etc. The surgery went well and he's been healing up pretty well, he tells me hes itching to get back behind the kit and jam, so hopefully hes well enough soon! Our next gig is on the 29th of April and he should be back behind the kit for that.
It's good to hear he's doing well, I wish him a speedy recovery.
While on the subject of gigging, what bands have you shared the stage with and what has your overall experience been playing with these bands? Where is your favourite place to play a show?
Cheers mate ill let him know.
Some notable bands we’ve shared the stage with are Hellbringer and Rampage. Always fun playing with them and its great to play with other Thrash bands. One of the most fun shows we’ve played was at the Lansdowne with Rampage and Hellbringer and there were stage divers and people were pulling the monitors and throwing the mic stands into the crowd, don’t see that much these days around here so it was great to see it during our set.
I’m putting on a gig in May with Hellbringer, Kill For Satan, Teratornis and Rampage so we are looking forward to playing this as it should be a killer gig!
Hellbringer and Rampage are great bands! You don't get many old-school shows like that anymore, do ya?
Have you or any of the other guys been involved with any other musical projects, metal or otherwise? If so what are/were they?
Agreed, sadly there arent many all thrash lineups anymore, but hopefully there will be a few more in the future.
Teratornis is the first band for all of us im pretty sure. TT plays other guitar styles apart from metal such as jazz and he plays at cafes sometimes for some extra cash.
What are your thoughts on the whole "neo-thrash" thing and the "thrash is back!" attitude a lot of kids are into these days? Do you think it's a positive or negative movement for thrash metal? What newer thrash bands do you like listening to?
To be honest thrash never went away totally. There were still bands sticking to their roots and releasing solid thrash in the late 90s/ early 00s. One band that released an awesome album in this era was Hypnosia from Sweden, fucking killer band.
I guess the neo-thrash scene is both positive and negative. A positive movement for the thrash scene because it is getting more people into it which makes a bigger audience for us newer bands to appeal to. But there will always be people who hate new thrash and despise kids in Municipal Waste flip caps.
I do like some of the newer thrash bands in the "neo-thrash" scene but there is heaps of great old school thrash coming out of Europe that is worth a listen such as Hellish Crossfire, Ketzer, Cruel Force to name a few.
Well, it seems we share a similar yet slightly varied opinion on that subject! The fact that it never went away is what makes me dislike a lot of the newer bands and fans with their attitude. I prefer to support bands such as you guys who make the music for the love of it, not to fit in with their local "scene".
What do you think of the current state of Australia's metal "scene"? And what Aussie bands are you into?
There are some killer Aussie bands, that’s for sure, but then there is some shit as well in my opinion. I can't really say much about the scene in the 80s and 90s because I wasn’t involved in it then but from what I’ve heard it was better than what it is today. But instead of just complaining about how shit their local scene is and not doing anything about it like some people do, we are doing what we can to try and put on some good quality gigs and show that there is still life in the Sydney scene in particular.
Some Aussie bands I enjoy are Destroyer 666, Armoured Angel, Assaulter, Kill For Satan, Hellbringer and Innsmouth to name a few.
What are some memorable and/or funny experiences from your musical "career" so far that you would like to share?
Our most memorable one so far would be the whole recording process of our EP. Learned a lot during it and hopefully next recording we will be more prepared haha.
Our first interstate show was early this year in January and it was cool to play to a new crowd and see new people getting into our music.
A funny experience was going to the abandoned tram museum in Glebe to get band photos. We had to climb in through a roof and while we were in there it started pissing down so getting out was a messy experience, good fun though and we got some rad photos out of it.
So what's next for Teratornis now that your EP has finally been put out? Any plans for future gigs? Merchandise? Are you working on new material yet?
Got a few gigs coming up in the coming months. May 13th we are playing at Total Desaster at the Valve with Hellbringer, Kill For Satan and Rampage. A week later we are playing in Canberra with Hellbringer and Kill For Satan again. Then we are heading to Newcastle for the first time in June.
We have just put out our first run of Teratornis t shirts, and I have been working on new songs for the upcoming gigs. They are a bit different to the songs on the EP but they still have the Teratornis sound, that’s for sure. When we have enough material for an album we will head back into the studio, but that will be a year off I’d say.
Cool man, I wish you guys the best of luck with everything coming up!
I’d like to thank you for doing this interview, it’s been great. Is there anything else you’d like to share with myself and/or the readers?
Cheers man and thanks for the interview.
Teratornis is back from extinction so be sure to catch us at a gig in the future!