Friday, 23 September 2011

Alex's thoughts on 'North of Nowhere'

Alex's thought on the North of Nowhere experience!

Hello all, this is Alex the drummer of XIII as Dan mentioned I can now babble on
about Drums and the whole recording experience!
Everything Dan said was spot on this whole experience to me has been very special
indeed learning to play with Click tracks to actually be in time
working together closely as a band and making everything that we wanted to come to
life with the songs.

Equipment used for recording of North of Nowhere.

I used a Mapex M Birch Drum kit along with Zildjian Cymbals & 1 Meinl effects cymbal.

10" x 6" Mapex Pro Series Snare Drum (Remo Ambassador Skin)
2x 22" x 18" Bass Drums ( with Remo Falam Slam pads on beater side for clicky tone)
10" x 8" Tom tom (Remo Pinstripe Skin)
12" x 9" Tom tom (Remo Pinstripe Skin)
13" x 10" Tom toom (Remo Pinstripe Skin)
16" x 16" Floor tom (Remo Pinstripe Skin)


14" ZBT Hi Hats.
17" Z Custom Medium Crash.
19" Z Custom Projection Crash.
8" ZBT Splash.
10" Meinl Filter China.
21" Z3 Mega Bell Ride.
18" Oriental China Trash.

Drum Sound..

To be honest I really was aiming for my own personal sound I dont like to copy I
like to be original in all I do! a sound that was really capturing me at the time
was Trivium's Shogun, Bonded by Blood's Prototype Death Machine album and With chaos
in Her Wake's Treason album all of these sounded great as drum sounds
so I wanted a big mixutre not copying but sort of like that sound. I Chose Remo
Skins for the Warmth and great tone they give off, I use Zildjian Cymbals
because clearly and Obviously they are the best and give me all the playability and
volume i need. Mapex drums cos they to me are the best drums in the world!

Firstly, My drum parts were recorded along with Dan he came along to play along so
we could get tempo's of songs correct and get the right BPM clicks on the go
the 1st day consisted of alot of setting up getting the sounds right and most
importantly getting my self comfy with my kit and the environment around me which
creates a good mood and vibe for me. Micing for the Drums!

.Bass Drum, We had one bass drum mic in each bass Drum pointing directly to the
center of the beater hitter
.Tom tom/Floortom, were miced I think all Shure mics wre used!
.Snare, to give it that crack we had an Shure SM57 on the top and another shiny nice
silver mic on the bottom facing towards the center.
.Overheads, Very expensive Telefunken's were used for over heads. Trust me these
mics are amazing and picked up every cymbals clarity
couldnt of done a better job then what they did.

The Album Experience.

This is our 1st Debut proper album so basically this is one we had to get spot on I
feel I myself and the rest of the band have grown as musicians
and can finally write music properly kinda.. lol! Click tracks were a major part of
this for timing issues as you may have noticed at more recent gigs
tracks are no longer played in a fast sloppy mess they are played in time and
properly structured to give that effect of heavy! To me the songs sound
amazing at Album speed!. It was a special weekend to me tracking Drums and is
something I will always remember we had a very good laugh whilst recording which had
to be done obviously!

I really appreciate all the help and time that Gary Wainman, Simon Jacques & Paul
Brady are putting into us I am glad they have the vision we do!
Gary really got me that sound I have been looking for, for a very long time! I mean
he is spending most his days just mixing this thing over and over again now to get
it perfect.

Are we really Thrash!!??

Personally this whole genre thing we dont fit in with we have always and always will
play what ever the fuck we like!
you either like it or hate it we just hope you like it we all like different styles
of music and this is what i feel makes us so diverse and unique
because we don't just stick to writing one thing we want to be ORIGINAL!... NOT THE

Yeah on this album you are going to have your few thrash classics, in Trisk,
Eclipse, Breaking Point but al these songs have unique edges to them they aint just
fast they have
Heavy grinding verses, Breakdowns, and many interesting parts that if you listen out
for are very clever.

But we also have a ballad type song in Retribution which ends up been heavy as FUCK!
and Beaten Path which when we wrote was just like holy fuck this is cool!

Final Say...

I really really hope you all love this album and appreciate all the time we have put
into this when it does finally come out I know its been a long wait already and
there is still
some time but I can really promise you it's gonna be worth that wait! To all the
XIII fans we thank you so much for all your support so far as they say it is the
fans that have really got us the
notice and come to see us play were ever we are we really appreciate it.

Alex XIII Drums!

Dan's thoughts on 'North of Nowhere'

Ok so here goes. I haven’t written a blog for the band before. On the course I was studying last year the class was encouraged to keep a kind of online diary so we could stand back and reflect on what we had done the past week, be it related to the course or otherwise, in order to reflect on what had happened; weigh the pros and cons of it, see if we could learn anything from something that had happened, or just have a general rant about something that pissed us off. Well that’s how I used it sometimes anyway. I actually began to enjoy just typing out these little rants and observations, they were only small and focused on one thing really, and here is where I get to the point of this opening section. I’ve never attempted to do a proper blog (other than little myspace updates. You remember that crazy site don’t you?!) for the band because I find it quite difficult to get my thoughts and feelings about the band and all things related to it down into a comprehensible statement. So if you read this please try to endure the tangents I might veer off into from time to time.

The reason I’ve finally decided to do this blog is that recording for our first full-length album is drawing to a close, so I thought I would share some thoughts on the experience and shed a little bit of light on what to expect from it. As well as this, the album probably isn’t going to be released until some time early next year now, what with mixing, promoting etc. So this blog will hopefully whet some people’s appetites enough that they’ll stay interested about it during the wait. We’ll definitely be ramming the promotion down your throats. I also wanted to share some of my opinions about the band in general as I’ve never really gotten to talk about this thing that I am so passionate about in great detail other than to those who are involved in it.
The first thing I should probably talk about is the amount of time we have spent working on it. We began recording this album in early March, it is now nearing the end of September, and it is still not completely finished. To be honest, possible a third of that time has probably been spent laughing at the most ridiculous shit. But I’m glad of it though. Not only has it helped the environment become quite relaxed, that relaxation has made the environment quite creative; no stress. Fair enough, we could probably have released the album by now, and finally been able to play some new songs, but fuck it. It’s been worth it to get the best possible result, which I do believe we have achieved. If you’re fed up of hearing the songs we play live, I won’t be offended if you would rather go and listen to the newest Justin Bieber album while we do our thing. The other lads might be though.

The effect this time has had on our musicianship, especially my own, is quite stupendous. I don’t class myself as a great guitarist or vocalist, or even a good one for that matter. “Average at best” is probably the best statement I can think of for my level of playing. But the solos that I’ve recorded on this album I can finally listen to and say “yep, that’s me”. They’re not amazing, but I believe they’re actually passable as guitar solos this time instead of just Slayer-esque fast noise. The two people to thank for this are Peter Delaney of Pastel Jack fame (or notoriety) and Gary Wainman, the genius who has recorded this album for us. I view both as really good friends, and they have helped me immensely in my ongoing quest to be a decent guitarist. Pete gave me a couple of guitar lessons a few months ago, and just those two lessons have helped me improve immensely. Gary was great in helping to get the creativity flowing. I’ve never written a guitar solo before, I usually just play the first thing that comes into my head, which is why they all end up sounding the same. But Gary was brilliant at pointing out the bits that worked, the bits that didn’t etc. I would recommend everyone who wants somebody to not just record your album, but put the same amount of passion, time and effort into it as you, to go to him. He is brilliant, and worth every penny. In fact, you should just pay him double up front. Right now.
This has already turned into a dissertation.

Anyway, I’ll crack on. The songs on the album will surprise some people I think. Since we started XIII way back in the spring of 2007, people (including ourselves at first) have labelled us a thrash metal band. I think at first we were aiming to be a thrash band. Maybe because I wasn’t listening, or just because we weren’t plugged into and aware of Hull’s metal scene, but nobody that I knew of was doing an old-school thrash thing at the time, and I was getting sick and tired of the stuff I was hearing: Drop tuned, muddy guitars with screaming vocals you could barely understand. Or bands singing about being dumped by their girlfriends. So I thought “I want to do something that has the attitude and balls that some of those thrash bands had.” And that’s what we set out to do. Nowadays though, probably since Mark joined the band and as we’ve grown up and our tastes have changed, I think we have a more rounded sound that isn’t just limited to the high speed thrash sound, so I would like to state for the record that I don’t believe we are a thrash band now. Fair enough our roots are in thrash, and we have a few up-tempo songs, but not all of them are, and not many of them are fast enough to be labelled thrash. I think speed used for a purpose is a very good thing. Listen to “The Beaten Path” when our album comes out and tell us that’s a thrash song!
Anyhoo, where was I? The songs on the album. Right. Don’t say I didn’t warn you about the tangents. If you’re still reading this, that is. Maybe you’ve got the night in by yourself and are waiting for a takeaway. Let me know what it’s like. I digress...
I’ve tried some new things on this album. The aim has been to try and do something a bit different to everything else people are hearing these days. The same guitar sounds, the same production etc. Fair enough it won’t be completely different, I’m of the opinion that there aren’t many things new to be made or heard. We have the token slow song, in the form of “Retribution”, but I think people will still like it. We have another slow song, “Forever”, that is completely acoustic. I can’t wait for people to hear that one. As well as the band trying to move in new directions, I myself have tried to do some new things. As I mentioned before, I actually sat down and thought about my guitar solos. I’ve gotten well into my guitar harmonies and scales now. Perhaps most exciting for me, though, is that I’ve actually done some clean singing, complete with harmonies, and worked hard on them so that I can actually bear to hear them (*cough* “The Ballad of Marv, Pt. 1” *cough*). I’m still far from being a good singer, but as I say, I can actually listen to them now without being ashamed. We have a pretty progressive song called “Fahrenheit”, that I wrote about a year before XIII kicked off, that we’ve learnt for this album. I’ve tried to do something different with the vocals; I’ll just say that Apocalypse Now was a big influence. Whether it worked or not is another matter. Probably not going to be one that we play live, but I hope people will like it on the CD. The really big one that I can’t wait to show off, though, is “When God is Gone... The Devil Takes Hold”. Formally known as “The Ballad of Marv, Pt 2”, this is another one that I wrote before XIII began, but we have gotten our heads down, learned all 8 minutes and 50 seconds of it, tweaked and perfected it. This one is going to be the epic of an album already overstuffed with epic songs. It’s got pretty much everything, and I would probably say is the best song that shows what we’re aiming for in XIII; the aggression, the epic feel, a bit of speed, a bit of that slow head-wobbling groove, clean vocals, shouting vocals, guitar solos, a bass interlude, a clean section. Everything.

As I said before, everything I was hearing at the time that we got XIII together had drop tuned guitars. So everything on this album is in E standard, except “Forever”, because I think acoustic guitars just sound so much more badass in drop D tuning. It also helps with the singing that it’s not that low, because I don’t have lowest or most powerful voice. I’m trying to go for a more unique guitar tone as well, which I have only started taking a real interest in since the album started. The biggest influence for me has been the guitar sound on “Revolver” by The Haunted. One of the most aggressive guitar sounds I’ve ever heard. We’ve re-amped (a recording technique that I think helps to be more flexible with the guitar sounds) the album once, using a Peavey 5150 head and a Line 6 cab, (that was the only cab available to us at the time) with a scooped guitar tone. We’re planning on re-amping the album again, using the same Peavey 5150, but this time with a Marshall 1960 cab. Also going to try and get hold of an overdrive pedal (possibly a Biyang OD8, I’ve heard some good things about it and it’s in my price range LOL) so we can really get that chainsaw, go-for-the-throat, visceral guitar tone. I’m being a bit biased with this stuff; guitar and vocals are the only thing that I know anything about, albeit very little. I’ll see if we can get Alex to do a bit about the drums for you skin-beaters out there!

I’ve already mentioned two of the people who have been instrumental (Eeeeyyyyy!) in making this album the beast that I think it is going to be. I’m going to mention Gary Wainman again. I can’t really put into words how awesome the guy has been on this album. He doesn’t just sit and press record, he puts his heart and fucking soul into every detail of it, while still letting you be the creator. You can’t get any better than that. I still don’t think that statement does him justice, but it will have to do for now or he’ll start feeling my shoulders follow my head up his arse.
The other two people who have been equally important in making this album what it is are Simon Jacques and Paul Brady, who are as important members of XIII as us four musicians who play the gigs. Most of you know who Paul is, what he’s done and is doing for us. The guy is a fucking legend. His knowledge of metal music borders on intimidating, and he’s one of the nicest and most honest guys you will ever meet. Not many of you will know who Simon is. He’s the quiet dark horse guy who works more behind the scenes for us. This guy has been hugely important in organising the recording schedules, getting me to recording sessions (unfortunately I can’t drive and happen to be a massive control freak who has to oversee everything), giving bits of music advice here and there, and being (again) one of the nicest and most generous people in the world. We’re incredibly lucky to have them both on board. You might be thinking “Why do these tossers and their scrawny choirboy singer have two managers?” Well let’s get down to the nitty gritty. The stuff people read these shite, bitchy magazines for to get their daily dose of drama. Things have not been smooth sailing in the XIII camp for the last year or two. I don’t actually know if we would still be a band (I’m even more certain the line-up wouldn’t be the same. Speaking of the other guys, they might not appreciate this little section here, but tough shit. I’m trying to be honest!), if it weren’t for these two brilliant guys who have somehow managed to focus and whip the hyper-active, energy drink-fuelled, shit storm that is us four guys, into shape.

I think I’ve finally ran out of things to say. That doesn’t happen very often. I’ve just tried to be as honest as I can about how obsessed I am with this band, our new album and what we’ve accomplished. I’ve have probably crossed the border into ponce territory more than once. One thing I will say is that the support we’ve gotten is far beyond anything I could have imagined. I often find it difficult to show my appreciation when people compliment us, beyond a simple “Cheers mate, thank you very much”. So I will say this. We know we’re far from being the best musicians, we won’t be winning any awards for what we do, but the things you guys have said to us are just fucking amazing. Yes we’ve had our criticisms (“They sound too much like Slayer” “they’re not really metal”, “They’re shit”. I can think of “Emo, poser and arrogant” that have been aimed personally at me! LOL), but criticism is par for the course. I expect people not to like us, I don’t want everybody to like us because the haters drive us on and only make us more defiant. So thank you to everyone, on behalf of all the guys in XIII. The people who love us, the people who like us, the people who hate us, our families and friends. Everyone.

Also a big fucking Thank you to the other guys in the band, everyone has worked so hard to get to where we are today and its all showing tenfold with this album! Like we always say "This is just the start of it all"

Guess I didn’t run out of things to say just yet. Thanks again for reading this. I hope this self-indulgent and narcissistic essay hasn’t put you off the band too much.

Saturday, 17 September 2011

Heat-rays farewell gig

You know when you have one of them shows when things just don't go according to plan?

Tonight was the farewell gig one of Hull's most popular metal bands Heat-ray whom we are all sad to see leaving the scene but as we all know have their reasons. Iron Harvest opened proceedings with style, now with guitarist Chris Best on vocals too, the band have improved tenfold and provided a perfect opening slot for this gig.

We was up next, we opened up with the title track from our new album 'North of Nowhere' the crowd started off a little small but as the set went on more and more people came up to see us. Halfway through 'The Longest Day' Dan's guitar seemed to cut out, its always weird to hear a song without one of the instruments, i don't think the crowd noticed too much hopefully.

Not long after the guitar incident Alex cymbal decided to implode on him leaving him drumming like some sort of retarded ape, but in true XIII fashion the band decided to leave him like it and laugh at him instead of helping him and as Dan said after one of the songs "It wouldn't be a XIII gig if something didn't go wrong", how true that statement is!

We also debuted a new song 'Down 'n' Out', which we have never played live before and we played it almost perfectly and the crowd seemed to love it, which is always a bonus.

All in all a fun set with the crowd laughing along with our mishaps and realizing maybe today wasn't a day for XII to play a serious bad-ass gig, unlike Pastel Jack who followed us and gave what could only be described as a good ass-kicking. Being friends with Pastel Jack, we knew how much a good gig at this time meant to them and their set was nothing short of amazing with the crowd hanging onto every one of Neil's words.

We should be touring with Pastel Jack in the near future and if tonight show is anything to go by then they are going to be some of the best shows we will ever play.....Watch this space! Farewell Heat-Ray!!

Sunday, 4 September 2011

XIII to support ex Cradle of Filth member

XIII are to support ex COF keyboardist/Vocalist Sarah Jezabel Deva at her Hull show on the 22nd October 2011 at The Ringside in Hull.

To some, Sarah doesn't need much of an introduction. After spending 14 years in Cradle Of Filth as a backing singer, singing on all of their albums apart from the first and the latest one, she also spent 6 years in Therion and Mortiis. Sarah has sung on over 35 albums with bands including The Kovenant (In which "Nexus Polaris" won a grammy award for) , The Gathering, Mystic Circle, Trigger The Bloodshed, Mensrea (GWAR side project), Graveworm, Tulus (Name later changed to Khold), Creations Tears (Features ex Paradise Lost drummer Lee Morris) and many others. She has been part of many dvds and books and finally, in 2005, joined forces with Chris Rehn (Ex Evergrey/Abyssos) and created Angtoria in which she took center vocals. Angtoria signed to Listenable Records and released "God Has A Plan For Us All" and received an amazing response in Europe. Sadly, Sarah still favored Cradle Of Filth and Angtoria took a back seat. In 2008, Sarah decided it was time to walk away from Cradle of Filth and follow her heart and released "A Sign Of Sublime" on a UK based record label and then later signed to Candlelight USA.

"A Sign Of Sublime" contained guests such as Dave Pybus (COF/Angtoria/Anathema) on Bass, Chris Rehn (Angtoria) Keys/Programming, Martin Powell (Ex COF/My Dying Bride/Anathema) Keys and Max Blunos (Trigger The Bloodshed) on drums. The album did ok but lacked promotion but she finally completed her first ever tour as a front woman in the UK July 2010 and also played The Female Voices Of Metal in Belgium.

Although under her solo name, SARAH JEZEBEL DEVA is a touring band and a tight, hardworking one at that. She enlisted some amazing musicians that have an impressive back ground and with the new album being recorded at Legacy London Studios, England (Formally Escape Route Studios) and having Pzy-Clone from The Kovenant adding the final touches, Sarah feels "The Corruption Of Mercy" should have been the first album.