Canterbury thrashers Wretched Soul are well-known regulars at Pandemonium Club shows, both as punters and as performers; we've asked them back many times, possibly more than any other band we've booked. The reason is simple: every time that they have played for us, they have performed with passion, acted professionally and shown respect and camaraderie to all the other bands on the bill, making things a lot easier for us as organisers.
Since we first got to know them their reputation has spread like wildfire across the UK. They have had the opportunity to play with some very well established bands such as Orange Goblin, Savage Messiah, Vreid and Brutal Truth, as well as numerous festival appearances at Bloodstock Open Air and Beermageddon. The shows just keep on coming, with a full UK tour scheduled for this month, a festival appearance in Norway early next year and UK shows alongside Massacre and Cradle of Filth in the summer. As was inevitable, the band was signed to Dark Lord Records in 2012 and released their critically acclaimed debut album,Veronica on September 23rd 2013.
We spoke to guitarist, Steve Clifford, to find out a little more:
Q: When was your first gig?
A: Our first gig was a Halloween event called "Crow Worm", which was an illegal gathering in an abandoned railway tunnel near the University of Kent in Canterbury. We had only been a band for about three weeks and were asked to support our friends, River Freshney and Ted Maul (these days known as Dripback.) There was no stage and no ceiling, just amps, beer-crates, a generator and a couple of small flood-lights; very DIY. The precise location of the gig had to be kept secret, for obvious legal reasons; so the bands were led from a secluded meeting-point and through the woods via glow-sticks placed on the floor! We played four songs --three originals and a cover of Megadeth's Mechanix-- in front of about 100 people. Incidentally, we ran into the Dripback guys backstage at Bloodstock last year and reminisced fondly with them about the crazy Crow Worm show all those years ago, fun times!
Q: What line-up changes have occurred over the years?
A: We've been through a few different configurations over the years with a couple of different vocalists and a couple of different bassists but the core --myself and Andy-- has always remained constant. We recruited Luke on bass back in late 2009 and Chris on vocals in 2011 and haven't looked back since.
Q: Who/how was the band name chosen?
A: The name came from channel-hopping late one night and landing on an old TV series about haunted locations in Britain. In this episode, a particularly malevolent spirit was angrily referred to as a "Wretched Soul." The phrase struck us like a lightning bolt and we'd find ourselves randomly repeating it to each other, so we just knew that it was the right band name. Even to this day, whenever someone asks "what's your band called?" they almost always feel compelled to repeat it back to me after I tell them. It has a certain power for sure. I also like its versatility; a wretched soul could refer to any number of different mindsets from that of a victim to that of a villain, it covers a lot of ground, as does our music.
Q: What was it like working with the legendary Chris Tsangarides?
A: Working with Chris was an amazing experience, in the 6-8 weeks that we were in the studio we learned so much about songwriting and performance and also the inner-workings of the music industry, it's the kind of insight and advice that money can't buy and I think he's really helped us to stay focused on our goals and conduct ourselves accordingly. He's into all the same whacky comedy shows and movies that we love, so there was a lot of merriment and mirth during the course of the recording offset by a lot of serious, to-the-grindstone hard work! We're very pleased with the results, so it was worth it.
Q: Are you pleased with how well Veronica has been received so far?
A: Our only concern when writing and making Veronica was to create something that we were all happy with and that didn't sound like anyone except us. That being said, we have been absolutely overwhelmed by the positive response from the fans and the press thus far. It's encouraging to know that the music we create and enjoy is resonating with other people too -and has received 9/10 and 10/10 reviews from some Metal magazines-, that's just mind-blowing!
Q: Is it important to sound like your influences?
A: No, it's important to sound like ourselves, so we try to put all our influences together and present them in a way that sounds different -or at least somewhat unique- from the source material, rather than just being a pointless re-hashing of our favourite few bands. Our influences are important but we use them to to gain proper, genuine inspiration rather than just copying them verbatim. I think this is reflected in our sound and will be reflected even more so in the future.
Q: Is there any new material in the works?
We do have a few new songs at various stages of development, we're excited with what's coming out so far and are looking forward to finishing them off when we get some time in between tours. I think we'll be taking an ever darker direction with the next album, it's hard to say at this early stage though.
Tell us about the forthcoming UK tour, what can we expect?
You can expect four young, hungry (literally and figuratively) Metalheads laying waste to the United Kingdom with a little help from our crazy Finnish friends, Re-Armed. We can't wait to get out there and spread the word about Veronica.
Q: Who has given you a massive amount of support and deserves a mention?
So many fantastic people that it would be impossible --and unfair-- to try and name them all. I've given it my very best shot in the album credits! I would like to thank the Pandemonium Club, Top Rock Radio and Project Alpha TV for their incredible support. Also, everyone at Dark Lord Records, our Producer, Chris Tsangarides and everyone who has come to see us live. We'll see you all on tour!
Q: Which bands would you kill to go on tour with?
A: Aside from the obvious dream answers --Metallica, Iron Maiden, Slayer etc--We'd love to do a full tour with Orange Goblin at some point, as we had such a great time supporting them last year and got on really well; great guys and consummate professionals. Another band we'd love to tour with is our friends, Savage Messiah, we're supporting them again at the Borderline in London on Feb 25th. I know that our singer Chris and myself would kill to support Anihilated and Onslaught, now that'd be a killer tour too! We're looking to embark upon a proper European tour next year (possibly with Re-Armed again) and we'll almost certainly be doing more UK and European festival dates next year too.
Watch this space...
Re-Armed / Wretched Soul UK Tour 2013
Wretched Soul's critically acclaimed debut album, Veronica is available now from all good music stockists including Amazon.co.uk, Play.com, iTunes, HMV and Sainsburys Entertainment, you can also order directly from the band at www.wretchedsoul.bigcartel.com
Official Site: www.wretchedsoul.net
Article written by Pandemonium Tom, November 2013