BATTLE BORN's Jack Reynolds: "I definitely try to sing them as if I'm throwing down the gauntlet. There are exceptions, but for a while now power metal in this country has been a bit too afraid to show its fucking teeth."

BATTLE BORN are new to the Power Metal scene back in Southampton, England. They just […]
July 5, 2020

BATTLE BORN are new to the Power Metal scene back in Southampton, England. They just released their self-titled EP back at the end of June. They are taking the world by surprise with their unique blend of traditional Heavy Metal mixed with the masters of Power Metal. They are cooking up a storm and making a name for themselves in the genre. England was never really the hotbed for Power Metal but with the likes of BATTLE BORN, that will surely change in a heartbeat. They literally bring the Metal back where it should rightfully be! Writer Jean-François Poulin had the privilege of interviewing all members of the band for this in-depth interview.

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So how has been the reaction to your self-titled EP debut?

Will (Kerr, guitar and keyboard): Unbelievable, really. To think, in April no-one had heard of us; we can't believe how many positive comments we've had.

Chris (Beattie, bass): Is there such a thing as a positive baptism of fire? Everything has happened so quickly and has been overwhelmingly well received. It's hard to believe that we were the ones behind it!

How did all of you guys meet to form this band?

Tom (O'Dell, guitar and vocals): Will, Jack and I were at university together, and the early stages of the band included help from a few of our other peers. When it became time to properly form the band, we got Chris in on bass as another university alumni, and he knew Charlie from college. We owe everything to educational establishments!

Chris: When I was brought in on bass we still needed a drummer to complete the lineup. It just so happened Charlie and I went to go and see DragonForce together a couple of weeks later and Will was there too. The three of us gelled really quickly and Charlie joined the band shortly afterwards.

''Bring the Metal Back'' seems like a battle cry, an anthem, what does this song mean to you guys on a personal level? Is it a critic of the whole watered down Power Metal genre at its core?

Will: There are a few subtle and not so subtle meanings to the song. One of our frustrations embedded in the lyrics of this song is that we feel the UK often gets overlooked when great European bands are doing European tours. I'm sure there are good reasons for this, but as fans we just want the metal back!

Jack (Reynolds, vocals): I didn't write those lyrics, but I definitely try to sing them as if I'm throwing down the gauntlet. There are exceptions, but for a while now power metal in this country has been a bit too afraid to show its fucking teeth.

How was the recording of the album at Willy House Studios and doing so as independent artists?

Tom: All of us have a fair amount of experience of recording due to previous bands and projects, so it was all quite straightforward to put together. We strived to make it as a truly collaborative process, and that helped to really bring out the best in each song.

Will: Fortunately we were afforded plenty of time to get our parts just right by the good people at Willy House Studios. Tom makes a good point about the collaboration. We really benefited from working on all aspects as a team.

What were the bands that influenced you guys when you were thinking of possibly forming the Band?

Tom: We're big fans of Anton Kabanen-era Battle Beast and Beast in Black, which I think you can definitely hear on the EP. All their songs are very full of energy and just great fun to listen to.

Will: If you listen to the track Man of War, you'll definitely hear influences from 80s German heavy metal, bands such as Bonfire, Accept, and who could forget everyone's favourite: Doro!

I saw a number of videos of you guys in the studio, you seem to have a whole lot of fun and it shows in your music, what is your perspective as the uncompromising work that is involved when creating an album?

Will: Fun is at the absolute core of what we want our music to be. If we're not having fun creating and working on the music then that's surely going to show.

Charlie (Lamacraft-Perrett, drums): I couldn't agree more - if it's not fun it feels far too much like hard work.

In your eyes, what band from your country is the next to really break out?

Tom: There's a band called Fellowship that started out at a similar time to us and are swiftly gaining support. Their music is amazing and really uplifting, and they're truly great guys as well. We're hoping to play lots of shows together as soon as possible!

Chris: We have done our utmost to connect with as many power metal bands in the UK as possible in preparation for the post-lockdown shows. But amongst them all Atorc and Grimgotts also spring to mind.

What's with England? So many classic bands in so many different styles in Metal that have had a lasting influence on bands of today? Is it the landscape? Is it the social-economic situation? How come that England has had so many awesome bands in Metal?

Jack: Good question! I suppose England was where it started; metal is more or less American rock music with a bunch of English classical sensibilities slapped on top, and then gradually exaggerated over the years until it became its own beast. I guess England was culturally close enough, but not too close, to that mid-century American spirit of rebellion. Also English people are good at being angry but not really expressing it, so passionate musical outbursts come easily to us.

Festivals are so much important for Metal bands out there, is there any Festivals you guys would love to be part of in the near future?

Tom: We formed this band travelling back home from Wacken, so it would be really fitting if we could play one of the big open stages there at some point. "Bring the Metal Back" was written with that huge crowd in mind, all chanting along!

Jack: Bloodstock Open Air must be my most-attended festival, so it will be really awesome whenever we get to play there. It's a great festival with a great history, and it started out with a huge power metal focus. So nowadays you end up with 15,000 extreme metalheads drunkenly remembering that they love uplifting power metal anthems about dragons and brotherhood and stuff.

Charlie: I've been to Download Festival loads of times now and it would be so good to go there as an act. The history of rock and metal that has taken place in Donington Park over the last 40 years is immense and has seen some huge names, so seeing our name on the bill would be a dream come true for me.

When on hiatus or in downtime (especially in these trying times), what do you discover about yourself on a personal standpoint and as a musician?

Charlie: I recently spent some time unemployed and it gave me the opportunity to work on personal projects that I'd put off for years, including putting more time into music. I feel so much happier and actually quite proud of a few things I've achieved in this downtime.

Will: When on hiatus I realise just how important downtime is. Working too hard causes tunnel vision.

If you guys had one hall-pass, a band from any era you would love to see in their prime, who would that be and why?

Jack: It's a rogue choice but I'd pick Bowie, on the Diamond Dogs tour. That counts as a metal answer, because Michael Kamen (Metallica's S&M conductor) was playing keys.

Charlie: Queen in the Freddie days. I grew up on Queen and wish I could have seen him. Michael Jackson, too. Two incredible front men.

What in your mind is the one thing that truly unleashes an artist's true potential?

Will: Continued humble learnings. It's easy to think one's own music is great. It's a lot harder to be open to change. Feedback can be cutting and personal, but more often than not there are reasonable motives behind it. The only way to learn is to embrace as much of that as you can stomach.

Charlie: Always learn new things. If you think you're at the top of your game on your instrument, you're wrong. When it comes to music there are so many styles and techniques to learn that you can constantly evolve how you play and work in new elements that you didn't know a year ago.

How has the political turmoil and the state of the world affected the lyrical content of your music?

Chris: The whole of Skyrim has been overshadowed by the dark hand of the Thalmor and the Imperial puppet it controls. Our music is a call to arms to bring light to our home again. A war cry to bring fear to our enemies, and hope to our allies.

In your eyes, what makes a good foundation for the dynamic of a band?

Tom: I think the twin cores of a band dynamic are drive and camaraderie. You have to all be on the same page in terms of work ethic and commitment, and you also have to all get along effortlessly. We're very lucky that both of these have come very naturally to us as a group.

Chris: I agree with Tom, but it's also having the openness to critique what others bring to the table. We established very early on that nothing is sacred, and everything can be up for debate and any idea we put forward is a collective idea that can be changed and adapted.

What 5 albums would you bring if you were stuck on a deserted island?

Jack: "The Gathering Wilderness" by Primordial, "The Scarecrow" by Avantasia, "The 59 Sound" by The Gaslight Anthem, "The Bones of What You Believe" by CHVRCHES, and of course "Seventh Son of a Seventh Son" by Maiden.

Charlie: "Allegiance" by Firewind, "Rust in Peace" by Megadeth, "The Book of Souls" by Iron Maiden, "Systematic Chaos" by Dream Theater, and "10,000 days" by Tool.

What do you think has been lacking this last decade in Power Metal?

Chris: I think very little has been added or taken away from power metal since its beginnings. Power metal is a very unique beast and to deviate from what it traditionally consists of can very easily take away the very things that make it special. You can listen to the first 5 seconds of any power metal song and pick up on those defining elements.

You decide to form this Supergroup, who would be the members of it and why?

Chris: I put the very same question to a power metal group on Facebook yesterday! Tobi Sammet on vocals without question, followed by Elias Viljanen (Sonata Arctica) & Anton Kabanen (Beast In Black etc.) for the technical leads and ability to lock into the keyboards of Tuomas Holopainen (Nightwish). You'd need a power house on drums in the form of Hannes van Dahl (Sabaton) and, of course, I'd play bass. I might stick Olli Vänskä's (Turisas) violin in there too. Fuck it.

What is the one thing you would eliminate from the music business?

Charlie: The lack of mainstream coverage, at least in England, metal gets in general. The BBC for instance had highlights from previous Glastonbury Festivals broadcast over the weekend of this year's cancelled Glastonbury. Something like Download, which I think is the second biggest UK festival behind Glastonbury, was relegated to doing their own highlights on YouTube.

Tom: Stoner doom.

Any music gear company you would love to endorse in the future?

Chris: I have played Yamaha basses ever since I was 16 years old and would love an endorsement from them. My main 4 string bass is the very same RBX 374 that I bought from one of my first pay slips. Since then I have bought the equivalent 5-string and 6-string models.

Charlie: I play Meinl Classics Custom Dark cymbals because they sound great and look sexy - I'd love to get some custom made ones if ever i was endorsed because something that particular range is missing is a megabell ride and a cheeky little 8inch china splash.

What is your earliest musical memory?

Tom: I started playing piano when I was about 4, so my first memory is pretty hard to pin down! As an early memory, I very clearly remember being given the Star Wars: Return of the Jedi soundtrack for a birthday and being enthralled by it.

Jack: Listening to "Bat Out of Hell" on long car journeys. Thanks mum!

Charlie: Not quite my earliest musical memory, but my first instrument was the trumpet and I could nail the Wallace and Gromit theme tune.

Is there an artist any there, no matter what genre, you would love to collaborate with?

Tom: I think Kendrick Lamar would be fascinating to work with. He has such a great way of telling a story through both his lyrics and musical production, and doesn't seem to limit himself creatively.

Jack: If I could sing just one chorus on an Avantasia album, I could die happy.

If you were not in the music business, what do you think you have done as a profession?

Chris: My day job is being a science teacher which I love, and when I'm not teaching my lessons I spend some time down in the music rooms jamming with some of the students. It's the best of both worlds.

I was wondering who thought of the name of the band?

Will: I think it was me although I don't remember! We had a few names floating around such as Frozen Heart and Riff: 10.

Tom: I'd forgotten about those! I think Frozen Heart was my suggestion, and I'm very glad I was outvoted. Battle Born just screams power metal!

So what's in store for you guys in the near future and is there any bands you guys would love to tour with?

Will: We're at the stage where we'll take what we can get! We will have a bit of downtime and at the end of July we'll do a review of where we're at, then in August we'll start work on the next album.

Jack: I'm really enjoying our friendship/rivalry with the boys in Fellowship. One day we'll do the joint Battleship Tour and finally see who emerges victorious!

Any side-projects you guys are working on that we can expect in the near future?

Tom: I have a solo atmospheric metal project called Dwarrowdelf that's been around since 2017 and has met with relative success. Although I can't give too much away at this stage, there's a new album under that moniker coming out in a few months that blows all of the previous Dwarrowdelf albums out of the water!

Jack: I sing in a pretentious proggy black metal band called Asira, which is about as far away from Battle Born as you can get. We released our debut album a few years ago, and the follow-up is well on the way. I can't wait for people to hear it.

Thanks for the solid EP, it's been on repeat for most of June in my household and thank you for the opportunity to interview you guys for Metal Temple!

Metal Temple
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