“Jesus was a bastard”, says JJ, vocalist and lyricist of York’s local metal quintet The Bastard Sons, and he’s right, in fact, Jesus is the poster child bastard, or as JJ puts it, “The most famous bastard going.” It’s an exciting day today. No, not because it’s the New Year. That’s mundane, like a New Day, which will doubtlessly be the same as yesterday. No, because today is the day this writer can say the word bastard again and again and not be censored. And appropriately so, because this isn’t a dull conversation we had with The B****** Sons, or The Sons, as the ludicrous marketing industry can and does demand of them, but The Bastard freakin’ Sons! A band this music fan has been enthralled about since hearing their ‘Bones’ EP seven months ago, and not only fell in love with it, but became determined to see them live and, if possible, sit down and chat with them for a bit, and thanks to this Soundspherical soapbox, this was possible. Prior to their phenomenal performance on the December 20 (review here) we catch up with JJ and Ollie (guitarist). What do the lads have to say? Many exciting things await both the band and the fans in the future.
First though, let’s go back to that debut EP. JJ says, “I think we’re all heavily influenced by Every Time I Die mainly, so naively I think we went in wanting it to sound as much like that as possible. It was fun because we recorded it with our friend Dave who’s in The Fear, another York band. We fitted it around each other and we swapped it for tattoos, so essentially it cost us nothing. It was a fun learning curve, we’d only been together six months and it took about three weeks to do the recording and the artwork and everything else.” Ollie adds, “We all have different tastes but Every Time I Die are our main influence, but we added more of a metal twist to it.” Hmmm, a metal twist must surely be the most positive twist you can get…actually stop. Ignore that. Don’t even know what it means anyway, and don’t ask. Ever. Ollie adds, “We wanted to get it out there as soon as possible, to show people what we’d been doing.”
Ollie Dykes has some live favourites to whip out, what’s his insight about the performing, we wonder? “I think ‘Salem’s Rot’ always goes down well. It’s got a big ending and a chant, so it’s good for crowd participation, and the new stuff is always fun.” On the topic of new stuff, JJ says that “It’s quite different to our old stuff but it’s still got our sound, which is good for a band that hasn’t been around very long.”Ah, new stuff. Let’s delve into it! You can hear their new track ‘Winter’ here:
But when’s the new EP out? “We haven’t got a solid date yet,” says Ollie, “It’s all ready to go, there’s just stuff we’ve gotta do to get it out there. We’ve been plugging a couple of tracks, but it takes time, we’ll get it out as soon as possible.” JJ adds, “Should be by the end of march. Lyrically it’s a story, but it’s on different time scales. ‘O Brother, Where Art Thou’ isn’t, it’s just on there. I’ll go into that further when it’s released, it won’t make sense now.” Ollie says, “The tracks we’ve released have been received really well. It’s like putting a bit of sausage down for a dog. And then putting that dog down,” says JJ, and after the RSPCA threaten us, Ollie takes the wheel. “It’s been going down well so hopefully it’s been getting people’s juices flowing,” and JJ responds, “I’d love to know what juices we’re talking about,” he says. “Saliva,” says Ollie. Just to clear the air, the RSPCA didn’t actually get involved. That would’ve sucked.
Let’s talk influences! If you just checked out ‘Winter’, or if you heard it beforehand, you must admit, it raises your curiosity when you hear Game of Thrones references in metal music. JJ claims that “Lyrically I don’t write about my life, because who gives a fu** about a nearly thirty-some guy from York? I write about things that have happened, history. Not as a lesson because that seems self-righteous, but things that aren’t about me. There’s been loads of teenage angst bands, and everyone’s sick of hearing it. I’m starting to write a lot more stuff about what’s happening now.” Ollie talks to us about the musical influence, “Myself I’m more into Gallows, Every Time I Die, and stuff like that. Alex is into modern day metal, so we’re both into riffs but his are more complex and mine are simpler. When you’ve got two people into different stuff and you come together it creates a fusion of the two.” JJ later explains how tough the writing process can be, “Don’t start a band with your friends, because it is a gruelling process, writing. It’s horrible, and you just end up falling out.”
Props for the honesty, JJ! How does he cope with the difficult times, we wonder? “Beer,” he says, reminding us that we are in fact speaking to the most reckless two of the band. Apologies, lads. Ollie explains, “We just want people to hear our music. We’re not out to make millions, that’s not our game, we just want people to hear our music and it is tough, the industry’s changed so much.” True indeed. Heading further into that territory we chat about the challenges and hardships of the industry, and the challenges of being an independent Northern band. JJ explains how, “The only challenge is the fact that the big gigs are all down south, and we’re all trying to make our way in life, we’ve gotta keep up jobs and stuff but we just wanna put it out. The good side of being from Yorkshire is the amount of bands that are coming out that are just amazing, like While She Sleeps and Asking Alexandria and stuff like that. It’s good to know those guys and be part of that scene that is hopefully occurring again like it was ten years ago. It’s a hub though, we’re so close to Leeds and Manchester, and we’re not even that far from the Midlands, so it’s not a bad place to be.”
We move on to talk about new bands. What words of wisdom would a band who are beginning to catch on give to the little guys who are still blasting it out in their garage? “Don’t look at everything else that’s happening,” says JJ. “Look further than that. Like Ollie said, we’re not in it to make loads of money, we’re here just to play. And I guess everyone says that ‘cos they wanna look cool, but the problem is there’s too many people trying to make a life of it, and it’s just so saturated with people wanting to be rockstars. Play music if you enjoy it, if not go work in an office or somethin’ like that. Do what you enjoy.” Ollie adds, “If everyone just wants to be a rockstar and noone’s doing it for the music, the music will dry up and it’s just gonna be shit, so people just need to keep playing and keep the industry alive.” JJ reminisces how “Twenty years ago it was different. Now everyone and everything about it is a business. It’s sad, there’s so many bands with so much behind them, but they’re just the faces that are emoting what others are putting towards them, and so far we’ve managed to stay independent.” He then casually states, “People need a musical revolution.”
One day perhaps, JJ. An epic tour could be the answer, and the band had a good run of that with Throw The Goat in 2013, and now, excitingly enough, The (BASTAARD!) Sons are now planning a tour of California next year with the same band. “We’re doing ten days with Throw the Goat in California. We were meant to be touring the West Coast but it wasn’t really feasible. But it’s the Spring Break, so that should be good. We’re doing Mardi Gras.” Ollie laughs, “Yeah, they got Sheffield and Birmingham, we get Las Vegas. It’s gonna be awesome though, it’s a dream come true.” Then after that, the boys head down to “Metal Butlin’s” to rock the second stage at Hammerfest VI, which is currently recruiting a pretty interesting line-up. Relating to this, Ollie claims that they would be satisfied with half the audience and half the positive reception they got at Bloodstock, a performance this writer was lucky enough to catch on the Jagermeister stage. Fingers crossed though, this one could be big.
Now we’re moving into 2014. Pretty bastarding (lolz) soon too, with a mere five hours left at the present moment. Let’s see what the bastardly (yep, another one) five are gonna get up to as well as the American tour and performance at Metal Butlin’s. “We’re recording a video with Ben Mills from The Smoking Hearts. Great guy, we took the band out in York after we played and they like to party as much as we do. We’ve got the video script and everything, so that should be coming out in February, then we go to America and Hammerfest and hopefully the CD will come out during that time. It’s gonna be called ‘Roads’. Ollie also has some aspirations for the new year, “I’d love to do another English tour, playing the new EP. It’s definitely on the cards. We’re still figuring out what the rest of the year will bring.” JJ answers, casual, slightly hungover and chilled, “We’ll leave that to the big cheeses, when we’re sat in our Jacuzzis lighting cigarettes with twenty-pound notes.”