October File - Heralds of Oblivion

Interview by Dr. Abner Mality

It's getting to be fairly obvious to anybody who has eyes and a brain and who gives a shit about life on Earth that the Armageddon Clock is ticking dangerously close to the final alarm. The ultimate consumer, Man, is using everything up, including himself and nothing seems to be able to stem the approaching destruction. As the narration of "The Road Warrior" said, "their leaders talked and talked and talked but nothing could stem the tide".

In these critical times, heralds appear to cry out warning to the masses. They can hold signs on street corners, blog anonymously on the net...or they can use music to cry outrage. Such an outfit is England's October File. I first became aware of them with their "A Long Walk Off A Short Pier" effort, which promised an interesting career. But with their follow-up "Holy Armour From the Jaws of God", the band has become nothing less than a revelation. Heavier, darker and all the more impassioned, this is an album you listen to and feel the anguish and anger leaking from it. I find myself returning to the album time and again, revisiting thunderous protest songs like "In My Magnificent Circus", "High Octane Climate Changer" and "Religion?". There's something about this band that just doesn't get old, that stays energetic and timeless everytime you hear them.

So it was the perfect time for me to speak to the newest October File member, drummer John and find out the history and exact motivations of this exciting, if foreboding, newcomer to the heavy music scene. Herewith is a transcription of our discussion...

WORMWOOD CHRONICLES: First, some brief background on October File for our readers. I know most of you guys were veterans of other bands before meeting?

John: Oh we’re all from different bands! The full history of October File is a little hazy for me as I’m so new to it all but basically the band began from the ashes of a band that Matt (guitars) and Steve (Bass) had played in previously but decided to leave and start afresh. They formed what became October File but the band had a very different sound to the one found on the current record. Over the course of a few years the band released an EP and a full-length album before changing their style slightly for the ‘Monuments’ EP. After that the band lost their drummer and took on a replacement which led to the ‘Hallowed Be Thy Army’ EP. Not long after it was released then that drummer left too!

In the Spring of this year, I heard that the band were looking for a new drummer with a view to finishing an album they’d been working on for some time and finally getting back on the road. So here we are towards the close of 2007 with myself as the third October File drummer and an album that’s effectively taken a few years to pull together and a totally different sound and style….

WC: The band really intensified between "A Long Walk Off A Short Pier" and "Holy Armour From the Jaws of God". What was responsible for this heavier and more explosive approach?

John: I wish I knew, it’s well before my time in the band that this change started to happen. All I know is that somewhere between “A Long Walk…”, “Monuments” and the “Hallowed Be Thy Army” EP things started to get progressively more metal. Here we are with “Holy Armour…” and it’s another step forward from the EP, I think it’s just that much more focused, aggressive and defined than in the past.

WC: I am fascinated by this odd painting on the cover of the new CD. Tell us about this image and what it represents.

John: I think it’s a fantastic example of cover art! There’s something about it that really fits both the title, the sound and the feel of the album…I just don’t know what it is! I’d say that it’s a reflection of the album on a whole: you can look at it on the large scale and see the big picture or you can look closely and there’s so much more to it like the songs on the record. You can listen to them on their own or you can listen closely and hear what it’s really all about.

WC: You guys are one of the most outspoken bands around. Do all the members share the same views? Who is responsible for the lyrics?

John: I’d say that we agree on a number of topics but we disagree on far more. We’re far from the same and we sure as hell don’t have the same outlook on things.

Most of our lyrics come through both Ben (Vocals) and Steve (Bass) either separately or as a joint effort and the two of them will spend time working on them together to come up with a finished song. If I remember rightly, the lyrics to “Friendly Fire” were written by Matt (Guitar) but I’ve personally only helped with tiny adjustments, lyrics just aren’t something I find easy in the slightest.

WC: You really have anger and outrage over the state of the world. Is there any way you can see mankind overcoming its natural predilection for greed and violence? They seem built into our DNA.

John: I’ve been saying that for years! It really does seem to be something hard-wired into the human brain: self destruction!! Who knows why it’s in there but I wouldn’t dispute the fact that it clearly is, you never see anything else senselessly destroying it’s own environment and everything else around it ,do you? Yet we not only do it but we do it on purpose and we know exactly what we‘re doing and what the consequences are... surely that’s even worse?

WC: "High Octane Climate Changer" is one of the most impassioned songs I've ever heard. The line about being so desperately short of coffee tables is brilliant. What do you think needs to be done to make sure anything but humans and cockroaches are around in a century or two?

John: Well, if we knew that then we’d be able to do something about it! There’s too many things that need doing and some people just don’t want to admit it’s happening and others will admit it but don’t want to have to do anything to help with it. I’d like to think that if we’re lucky and we do as much as possible that maybe it’ll all be ok and the world will carry on just fine. To be fair, it’s gone through a lot worse already and gone full circle and been ok, so maybe with a little help we’ll not wipe everything off the face of the planet.

WC: What exactly is the song "Another Day" about?

John: It’s a song about everything we’ve just discussed! One day, if we carry on doing everything detrimental to the environment that we’re doing then sooner or later it’s probably going to end. Maybe it will and maybe it won’t you know? Though if it does then this is the song that really looks at that….if we keep doing everything we’re doing and we keep on fighting with each other on a greater and larger scale then eventually there’ll come a point where there won’t be the chance of “Another Day”, there will be no tomorrow!

WC: How do you guys compose your committee, by individual members?

John: For us, a song can start with just one or two ideas for a guitar or bass part that Matt or Steve might have; it might be completely new or has been sitting around for a long time waiting to be used when the time is right. They can also come about through a drum pattern that sparks off an idea amongst the rest of the band and sometimes a song will just happen spontaneously….so I wouldn’t say we have a typical writing method at all, we just go with the flow when a tune starts to take shape.

WC: The riffs on the new CD are pretty basic and hypnotic. Do you think simplicity is one of the hardest things to achieve successfully in modern metal?

John: I’d not say it’s hard to achieve but I would say it’s hard to be sure that what you’ve written is good enough to stand proud within the metal scene. At the moment so many people are preoccupied with playing the most technical guitar parts possible or having the fastest drum parts they can manage and I don’t think there’s anything wrong with having parts like that in places but I believe it should be in moderation. A good solid groove is something that’s starting to be ignored by some of the musicians within the scene, I think it’s nice to be that little bit different and write songs that are still really catchy and hard to forget.

WC: On the song "Religion?", are you knocking ALL religion or just the ORGANIZED form of it? It would seem spirituality is a basic part of man's nature and obliteration of religion would be impossible and impractical.

John: More than anything it’s a song that’s aimed at people who hide behind organised religion in order to get away with manipulating other people through their beliefs into doing something extreme or drastic that’s often totally unwarranted and then getting away with any and all blame despite the fact that they chose to start it all.

WC: Is it possible for peace to be as profitable as war? This would seem to be one of the challenges you are urging mankind to face.

John: I’d like to think so but chances are people won’t change enough to ever find out if that’s true. War seems to be something that we’re good at naturally, far easier than widespread peace to the point where there’s always more money to be made through warfare and technology is often said to advance far faster during wartimes than during peace.

WC: How do you see the October File sound evolving in the future?

John: I get the impression that everyone’s really happy with the direction the band has headed in this time but we can’t stand still with one style and sound. I’d love to see us get heavier, darker and faster in the near future!

WC: You worked with Jaz from Killing Joke, what was that like and how big of an influence have Killing Joke been on your work?

John: Obviously it’s great to have anyone well known on the level that Jaz is providing guest vocals on your album. At the time Jaz came in to lay down is parts, we’d already finished recording almost everything else so I’m afraid I wasn’t around in the studio when he was there recording so I can’t say what it was like.

As for influences, I know Killing Joke are a pretty big influence (amongst so many others) for the rest of the band but I’m the one who never really listened to Killing Joke when I was growing up and I still don’t now, that form of Industrial just doesn’t appeal to me really. Musically, I think it’s better for a band to always have someone who doesn’t have similar influences just to keep things moving….it stops you inadvertently writing songs in one way sometimes. 

WC: You also had some interaction with the late Paul Raven. Any comments or words concerning Paul's connection with October File?

John: Paul’s connection to October File isn’t something I know too much about. I never had the opportunity to meet him but I know he was good friends with the other members of the band but I’m told he was a great guy and that he really like October File. I’m told he had a lot of faith in this band and he said a lot of encouraging things about the direction the band had begun to head in. I’m sure he’ll be sorely missed by his family, friends and the bands he took time out for.

WC: Any chance of playing in the States in 2008?

John: Well I don’t think we’ve got any plans yet but there’s plenty time still! Personally I’d love to play in the States, I’ve never even been on a holiday to America!

WC: What was the last CD/album you got just because you wanted to pick it up?

John: The new Arch Enemy record, “Rise Of The Tyrant”. I’m a huge Arch Enemy fan, I must have nearly everything they’ve ever done.

WC: What was the last gig you caught just because you wanted to?

John: Apocalyptica at the London Astoria a few days ago, that was immense!!

WC: Have you any "Spinal Tap" story of screw-ups or mishaps that you might want to share with our readers?

John: Well, I don’t think I’ve been with the band long enough for anything major to have happened like that. Though speaking of “Spinal Tap”, this band’s been cursed with a string of drummers so far…I’m the third one!

WC: Any final words?

John: Yeah, thanks for taking the time to do this…..hopefully I’ll get to see America soon!

October File's Official Website