NHC Music In Conversation With Centrilia - Yvonne Russell

On the back of their recent release 'Memento Mori', I threw some questions at fellow metalheads Centrilia and here's what stuck!

Instead of the standard, 'Centrilia are a band from blah and members are yadda...', I'll let you introduce yourself:

Ok, well… we are 4 heavy metal fans who grew up with Pantera, Machine head, Sepultura, Fear Factory, Metallica, Nothingface and many more blaring from our cassette players in the 90’s. Skip forward 20 years and nothing much has changed (except greying beards and thinning / non-existing hairlines) and the fact we’re now able to write and play our own music. 

Something I noticed in both releases were the numerous elements of metal - NWOAHM, progressive death, stoner even! - incorporated into your overall sound; genre-defying almost. Is this intentional, down to experience, or, is it something you don't even consider?

There is absolutely no intentional direction when writing, it honestly is just a case of “here’s a riff, lets see what happens” - Although we’re aware that sometimes we sound close to some of our influencing bands, it can be too hard to resist playing a part that you feel sounds amazing, just because it reminds you of Pantera, or Machine Head or something. I would say though, if your bands sound is based on say… 2 bands, maybe 3, it wont take long before you sound just like an amalgamation of those 2 or 3 bands. If you have a much larger pull of bands to draw from… like 20 bands… all those wee influences will be more diluted and you’ll be closer to finding a combination which sounds more original i think.

I'm aware that 'You Are In Error' was released pretty efficiently after the arrival of vocalist, Gav.  In the 2 years which have elapsed since then do you feel anything's changed; both in regards to relationships within the band and the songwriting process itself?

Yeah, Gav joined the band last in Feb 2013 and we were recording our first 5 songs by May 2013. I think we were strong together from day one, but without a doubt we’re even stronger now having got You Are In Error out to some amazing feedback and starting to get our name about on the live scene. So just over 3 years later, we’ve now played some amazing live shows, got our second EP, ‘Memento Mori’ out and started to get some serious support slots and the feedback on Memento Mori has been amazing. People are really getting into it and I think it feels like people are listening because they want to listen and not because they’re a friend, or a friend of a friend etc and they like what you do but your still a ‘local’ band in their eyes, i think that’s changed. The song writing process hasn’t changed at all, sometimes you get lucky, but more often than not, we take a long time to write a song. Not because we’re slow, but because we really do try and set our own standards pretty high. Another pretty big change though is there’s now 3 babies and a 4th on the way in the last 2 years!

Bloody hell, I'm surprised you had the time to rehearse, never mind record!  Speaking of which, it's hard to believe that this is a self-released EP, the sound production quality is immense.

Well thanks! we’ve been very lucky, Memento Mori was produced by Nick Scholey and You Are In Error was produced by Thomas McNeice, both amazingly talented at what they do! They weren’t accidental choices though i have to say, we knew they were good before committing to going with them, and to be honest, neither of these EP’s were cheap or quick to make but we really want our music to sit along side established bands when its played on tv, radio, podcasts and rock clubs, and so we definitely think they tick that box!

I could mention the numerous impressive bands you've supported - the most recent being none other than the mighty Decapitated but, instead of asking who you'd most love to share a stage with, I would rather find out who you would want (dead or alive) to support you?

Ha… well. That's a very hard question. Without a doubt, you want to have a band you think is great supporting you, and if at all possible, ideally you want to be helping someone out by giving them that support. So… The band doesn’t exist anymore, however, Nothingface were a band who have been a massive influence on all of us since about 1997, I believe they only made it over here to play once, in London in about 2001, so if they randomly got back together and decided to play Glasgow, we would burst our arses to put together a gig and have them play with us as i would assume most people don’t know about them and we could possibly help!

I mean, not many bands can claim to lend such varied support from Karnivool to the likes of Soulfly.
Yeah. We actually had a pretty positive response from Karnivool’s crowd, I think we’re lucky that we’ll appeal to balls out metal fans and less heavy but techy fans. We try and be quite technical (but not meshuggah level technical) so, i think that’s how we can be accepted by some prog fans as well, its not always their cup of tea but I think we’re competent enough in what we do that even when some people don’t like the music, they respect what you do.

You've mentioned previously that the 2013 release came from a place of despondency and disassociation but this recording has a real fire in it's belly, anthemic-quality to it from the get-go within the frenetic opener 'Tsunami'.  With lyrics such as, 'The system, is failing, so cold and calculating,if ever, a reason, to overthrow was needed' in 'The I in Evil' are you now responding to current societal issues with a sense of anarchanistic misanthropy in place of apathy?

Em… again, good question. That's hard to say, I suppose calling for an overthrow can’t be anything but anarchy, but i think apathy is the problem. If more people paid more attention to what the system is set up to do, there would be an overthrow anyway! ‘The I In Evil’, is not specific to any incident, but a good way to illustrate the meaning of it is ISIS. As you know, ISIS is a horrific group, who murder innocent people around the world, regardless of their age, sex, religion colour etc… it doesn’t matter… you’re not in ISIS, so you deserve to die. So, quite rightly, we all hate them. But do many people stop to think that we are ruled by a governing system which created ISIS? Tony Blair and George Bush started an illegal war, in which they went into knowing full well that the ‘weapons of mass destruction’ they told us were going to kill us in 45 minutes, never existed. They knew they didn’t exist and the internal documents that reveal them saying that they were going to war regardless of finding weapons have been exposed. So there’s no doubt, something as disgusting as ISIS only exists because ‘we’ helped create it and now we call them evil. They are of course but “We dug our own hole, We put The I in Evil” - just quoting the song there. Obviously when I say we, i mean the system, our representative governmental system, not the millions of ordinary people in this country who opposed that war.

Some would say that politics and music don't mix, it would seem you disagree with that sentiment?

Tell that to Rage Against The Machine! - I think it depends. If its purely political lyrics and there’s little to enjoy in the music, I would agree. Music is meant to be enjoyed first and foremost. Taking RATM as an example, their debut came out when I was 12, a friend at school gave me it (on a copied cassette obviously) and it absolutely blew me away…I listened to RATM non stop for god knows how long. I had absolutely no idea what the songs were about, or what the message was… i was too young to understand it was all politics. I just loved the music, the genius was a few years later when you realise you love these songs which had a very important message. I think with Centrilia, the music as a whole comes first, and if the political message clicks with you… brilliant… (not all songs are political though) but if not, hopefully your just enjoying the music!

No ageism implied (I'm no spring chicken myself!) but you guys have been around the jaggy metal block; with members having had previous stints in locally lauded bands Man Must Die and End of Everything.  Is there now a greater urgency to achieve grand-scale success, a feeling of 'now or never' almost?

Yes we have!  But, no. I would say we’re all victims of having ‘some’ success in the past, just getting to the point where you are in magazines, on music tv channels, getting to play with your favourite bands etc… but never getting to that next level. After a while of trying really really hard you need a break to re-think things. That happened to all of us individually about 2009/2010 and after a few years off, that drive to get back on it kicked in and we started practicing. What was obvious from the start was that there was no feeling of “OK, OK… we need to get a tour, we need to get songs out, we need to get in some magazines” - that self induced pressure had gone and the actual enjoyment in playing had come back. Actually enjoying playing is massively important and its only then i think we realised, previously, we had all stopped enjoying what we were doing because we were so eager to push ourselves. Ironically, not having a ‘now or never’ attitude or planning a grand scale success has meant that we sound better as a result. Nothing is forced!

On that admirable note I'll leave you with one final question.  Where do you go from here?

Well… although its moving slowly, I definitely think we’re building an audience and defining the sound and performances so, hopefully, the next steps are some bigger support slots and tours, then we’ll have enough interest to justify an album release.

So, if you like your metal to sound as if coked-up members of Pantera, Mastodon and Machine Head got trapped in a lift together with nothing to drink but white wine then this is the band for you!  Marinated in a heady blend of 90s groove and spiced with the raw technicality of 00s core, Centrilia once again deliver a fleshy slab of thoroughly modern metal in 'Memento Mori'.

Memento Mori & You Are In Error are available on iTunes, Amazon MP3, Google Play, Spotify.  Physical copies are also available at centrilia.bandcamp.com and in-store at the New Hellfire Club Glasgow shop.