Paul has been a massive inspiration to me over the years with his writing, music and outstanding work ethic. As well as playing in a number of quality bands over the years, he founded the sorely missed Raw Nerve Promotions website and has worked on many other projects...
What happened with Reth, and how did you come to be in Diascorium?
For the last six to nine months of Reth, everyone had other concerns really. It got so difficult to even get us all in a practice room all at the same time, I think we managed it a couple of times, and had a handful of gigs. It was a massive shame really, no fallings out particularly, only at the frustration of things not happening, we had loads of songs written and were gearing up for the next album, but just never made it. We had 'the chat' and decided it was for the best to play the last gig we had booked and call it a day (a fantastic all dayer in Bradford where we headlined, and had 2 guest vocalists on the final song 'Decathexis', it got messy!). There's talk of a million pound Re(th)union Tour on Twitter don't you know.
Video for 'Shibboleths' - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dx80eEkBigk
As far as the setting up of Diascorium, as Reth was folding, I asked around for any guitarists up for doing another band, as, well, it's in my blood, after playing in bands for more than half my life already (started at 16, now 34). Bond, the guitarist of Morkret got in touch first, and we started jamming and writing and putting together riffs we had laying about into coherent songs. We soon had a good collection and thought about filling up the rest of the band. An original intention with the band, under that name was for it to be a big 7 or 8 piece entity, I first thought up the name quite a few years ago, but it never came to fruition, but once Gaz (drums, also in A Forest Of Stars) and Bernard (vocals, also in Revokation) returned interest in the band once hearing about it, and once we started jamming, it just seemed natural to keep it as a 4 piece. Something worked pretty well right at the start, as within just under 3 months of starting jamming we'd recorded the first EP, had a small feature in Terrorizer and got our first set ready for the first gig supporting Desecration.
How is Diascorium going at the moment?
Very well thank you. The 5 way SPLIT ROAST cd has just come out on Condate Records, and has been getting some fantastic reviews around the place. Playing a decent amount of gigs with a few more goodies lined up. The free first EP is approaching 55,000 downloads (that we know about) worldwide, and we're still having tons of fun playing ludicrous songs. We're writing for the full length album, hopefully done around the start of next year realistically. Got a few epics finished and a few more in various states of existence.
We've had a great time of it in our first year and a little bit. Some cracking support slots to Man Must Die (twice), Prostitute Disfigurement, Magrudergrind, Wodensthrone, Winterfylleth, The Ocean, Keelhaul, Knut and many more, and played alongside some of the best bands in the UK to boot. We got on Damnation Festival and have played some other awesome all dayers, as well as general nonsense wittering at people, getting various zine and mag coverage, and having a good laugh generally.
Link for video of 'Triptych', in our rehearsal room, a song that will be on the upcoming album.
How would you sum up your experience of running Raw Nerve?
Raw Nerve, in its many guises, lasted for about 12 years, and, whilst there were many ups and downs, stresses and strains, frustrations and such, it was an immense time. Even though all trace of the site, club night and gig bookings have all but gone, there is still chatter about it going on on the interweb, and many groups of friends were made through it, its community and the gatherings that ensued. Whilst it's a shame that it's gone, and one of those things that could have been so much more, there are plenty of proud times to take from it, involvement in some HUGE gigs (and in total around 300 gigs either put on or co-promoted), some cracking and messy club nights (a rough guess of around 200 nights), putting on a couple of tours, a double page feature in Kerrang! of all places, and seeing things on the site grow from an idea on scraps of paper to a site with thousands of reviews and forum members, plenty of interviews, profiles, and in total, over the years, approximately 5 million hits.
Over the years you’ve played in bands, promoted gigs, written music journalism and run websites – can you pinpoint what drives you to do all this?
Insanity most probably. I guess a tiny bit of background can go in here, just so some folks aren't sat there reading this over their tea and toast wondering who the hell I am... Previous bands (gigging / recording bands anyway) are Canvas, Tangaroa, Narcosis, Reth and now in Diascorium, also done quite a few projects on my own, mainly Incandescence and Cerebral Constriction, and am also playing in a weird doom / noise project called Sloth Hammer. I ran Raw Nerve Promotions, and also put on a load of gigs and clubs under the Lovely Time Promotions, Devastator and Arise Metal Nights names. All the promotion outlets are RIPped now with no plans to resurrect. I also did a music blog called The Knowledge Of Sound which is unfortunately laid to rest as well. I contributed reviews and articles to the first dozen or so issues of the awesome Zero Tolerance magazine too.
I could be all romantic about it and say 'Metal saved my life when I was a kid, so I feel I owe it that in return', I don't consciously think that way about it, I just like to stay pro-active and productive. It keeps me relatively sane. Being so involved has let me always hear all the latest sounds, no matter how obscure the origin or style.
I find your dedication to music very inspirational – where do you get the energy and drive from?
Insanity Level Two! I want to get to the end of my life and feel like I've been involved in something good, somewhere along the way. I'm not going to be happy with having just been there, I want to have done it, designed the t-shirt, and told thousands of people about it. I still don't feel like I've done as much as I COULD have done, but life has its restrictions and impossibilities here and there as well, I do have a few 'what if' moments, but I have to learn not to dwell on them really. Easier said than done I guess.
Do you know what, I can dress it all up in any various fashion or superlatives, but when it comes down to it, it's as simple as this. I absolutely fucking love music. It's immense. So many amazing styles, incredible musicians, great people involved. Some of it comes from being frustrated at various times when something that should have been done to aide the scene wasn't done, so I just thought 'Sod it, I'll do it'.
Promoting bands and gigs and clubs, or running a website, doing a few reviews, all that stuff, it isn't really THAT difficult, so long as you have the right frame of mind about it, and a passion for what you are doing. You don't need to have that much technical ability, you just need to be able to take pointers from a few folk when you need it, realise what you want to achieve, be realistic, and then crack on, using all the awesome outlets there are. It only takes a bit of nouse and some get up and go, and anyone can do wonders to promote their local scene, to push their friend's band, to be pro-active.
I've got to be honest, I'm seeing it more and more again, even just in the last six months, where people who aren't in bands (or not in the bands playing specific gigs), just who like going to gigs, are re-posting event pages, or bands music pages as their Facebook statuses, or texting friends to build up excitement about gigs or releases or bands, and it's encouraging to see. One of the reasons I got out of putting on gigs and being more hands on, was the lack of support for great things happening. People got really blasé and apathetic about things going on in their local area. Because of it, a lot of promoters stopped, a lot of venues closed, a lot of damage was done, especially in Leeds, but I saw effects of it all over the country.
There is something of a rebuilding going on I feel, and, I'll be honest, I don't have AS MUCH energy and drive as I did, say, ten years ago, but I still like to get involved with word spreading wherever I can on a more relaxed basis, and it's great to see that there are other people coming through that have that youthful energy required to make the difference.
That said, I have something of a new project on the boil, not so much dedicated to music particularly, but that's one of the strings to the bow of it. This is pretty much the mother of all 'projects' really for me, the biggest undertaking in my life, putting together everything I've learnt from all aspects of promotion, music, and my day job (which is in newspaper advertising, and has been for 10 years).
Can you tell me about your blog, Cathartic Purging of The Self?
NO! NEVER! Okay. It's something I wanted to do for a long time. It's more of an editorial type setting really. I'll happily admit it, it's inspired by the rantings of people like George Carlin, Bill Hicks, the column of Danny Wallace in Shortlist, the mighty genius of Charlie Brooker, and is just me having a rant, having a clearout of all the nonsense cluttering up my brain, and something that will hopefully help me get my life in some kind of order. To be honest, after getting off to a good start with it, and having some good feedback as well, I've let it slip, but have re-started posting on it, and am looking for it to be one of the few projects I have in the stripped down version of my life.
I was doing a music blog for a little while as well, but that requires a lot more time than I have available to me, and, as much as I would love to be able to get back into doing reviews en mass how I have in the past, I know that if I start again, it'll take over my life, at one point I was getting 40-50 CDs a week, and keeping on top of it, but then it got a little more and Raw Nerve was going through a bit of a change about, and I never got back into the routine of doing the write ups.
The 'Cathartic' blog is something that I can do as and when required, I'm not tied to a daily column, or have to do x amount of posts or comments per month to keep on top of it, and, if it just becomes me rambling incoherently at 3 in the morning when I'm in the grips of another crippling bout of insomnia then so be it. It will hopefully be something that help keeps my mind focused and active, helps me continue the learning spree that I seem to be on, and be something that keeps me vaguely holding hands with sanity.
Do you set yourself goals or just let things happen organically?
Well, in hindsight, looking back over my life, I really SHOULD have been setting goals, and sticking to them, but I haven't. The blog though was originally intended as something to help me purge and finalise and put to rest everything that needed to dissolve out of my brain, drop any projects that were left unfinished, in bits, almost complete but not quite etc., and then that became one of those things that suffered in the same way, but, I am currently on a productive spree once again, trying to get things all in order, fixed, and then, with the incoming force of the huge project on the cards, I can be fresh and ready to tackle it fully.
In the past though, yes, as you say, things have happened organically, or, being more precise, 'haphazardly'. Ideas fall into my brain, either from out of nowhere, or as a process of evolution from other projects or situations around me, and I grab them and see what happens from there. Sometimes it's worked and spiralled into awesome things, sometimes it's failed and left me wanting to give up everything and bury my head in the sand a million miles from everything, but, at least I'm having a go I suppose. That's just how things go I suppose. I definitely should have been more 'plan' orientated though for some things I think, but hindsight is both a killer and a teacher. It's whether you then choose to listen to the lessons, and way more importantly is if you are able to remember the lessons at the times you need to.
Thanks to Paul for the interview and all his hard work over the years.