A few weeks ago I received a message from Winterhearth, after listening to their breed of Black Metal and finding out that the based are based in Newfoundland Canada, I set up a little Q&A with their frontman Andrew Marsh. It was pretty interesting talking to a band from the other side of the world, and to get a glimpse into their music scene and what its like trying to make a name for yourself in what is a remote part of the world, have a read! –
Hi Andrew, it’s fair to say your band is based in a fairly remote part of the world, how is the music scene in Newfoundland, and more specifically does Extreme metal have much of a scene there?
It’s funny because once upon a time that wasn’t necessarily the case. Before jet engines, planes flying between North America and Europe almost always had to stop at Gander airport, and that led to having some bigger acts of the time (Beach Boys for example) performing in Newfoundland. The music scene in Newfoundland is very vast, but it’s mostly known for its Irish & Traditional music roots. The Extreme Metal scene is certainly there, our shows have great turnouts, and in the past bands like Misery Index and Crytopsy have played here. But in regards to local Extreme acts, Winterhearth are one of the longer running acts next to Deadgaard and Devastator. Of course there’s been lots more bands in the past but that’s just in context to bands that are still active. There’s also a young band called Tormenta that have been playing more and more often who have a strong Groove Metal vibe to them.
Is Newfoundland where the band grew up, and if so was it difficult to see the bands that influenced you play live growing up?
Every member who’s ever been in Winterhearth has been born and raised in Newfoundland. In terms of mainstream touring acts I can probably count all the ones I’ve seen live on one hand. First concert for me was Alice Cooper at Mile One in 2008. I’ve also seen Black Label Society at the same venue in 2012, or 13 (can’t remember the exact year), Whenever the Canadian Carnage Tour was happening. Taking the stage with Anvil last year was great and culminating 2016 by playing Cauldron’s headlining stop at the 709 Metalfest 12, plus kicking this year off in support of Mokomokai’s St. John’s date were wild times. Not to mention Voivod also came through recently. However they were recent gigs, growing up it was next to impossible to see the bands that really influenced me, unless I booked flights to Toronto or Montreal. I grew up listening to a lot of Thrash Metal as well as Black Metal and when European Black Metal bands do tour in Canada it might only be one or two dates.
Your Facebook bio states Winterhearth are from the foggy Hellish shores of Newfoundland, do you feel your location has an effect on the outcome of the music?
Big time, Robbie (bass/vocals) and I grew up in Bonavista, a small town three and a half hours away from the capital. It’s very windy and you can bet you will have fog at least three days of the week. Not to mention summers where we had to light our wood stove cause it was probably 4 degrees Celsius in the middle of July. With that being said we have beautiful sunny days too! As for the music we make the invention of the internet made it no trouble to discover so many bands from other parts of the world. That’s a big factor to what got me into the whole Scandinavian Metal scene. Just seeing those guys who also live in colder parts of the world and surrounded by nature. For example, when I first seen Satyricon’s Mother North video I felt a connection because there is a lot of woods in Bonavista area as well. It was just a middle finger to what’s considered proper music structures. Black Metal always hit me in the soul for the reason of going against the grain of what’s considered good production and your typical intro, verse, chorus, verse, chorus, bridge, chorus, and then outro song structure. Growing up somewhere you feel desolate at times, you can feel rebellious inside thinking the rest of the world doesn’t care about you outsiders. That’s where my Thrash Metal and Punk influences came into place.
Your sound borrows from a vast array of heavy/extreme bands, but I can also hear a lot of old school influences in there too, with the likes of Megadeth and Venom (the black metal pioneers who are based in Newcastle England just 40 miles up the road from where I live) is this melding of styles something you aimed for?
For the core of Winterhearth absolutely! Dave Mustaine is my all-time favourite guitarist. I can’t even begin to describe what I felt when I listened to Venom’s Black Metal album for the first time, in the early days it was what I was going for. I was also big into Death, Immortal, Mercyful Fate, Sepultura, Carcass, and Celtic Frost when I was writing the Speak No Evil EP and Curse The Summer. Now when I was writing Resettlement I was writing in Drop C tuning. Normally I write a whole step down completely, but as you can probably tell by hearing Resettlement it shows my love and influence for Melodic Death Metal and the Gothenberg scene. I’m big into At the Gates, Dark Tranquility, and Children of Bodom in addition to many others from that area of the world.
Your latest release Resettlement is available on Spotify, how has this album been received both in Canada and the rest of the world?
It’s been received very well in Canada as well as rest of the world. I noticed we’ve been getting great reception from Mexico along with Austria. Now, that being said it can also be risky because it’s obvious that the style of both Curse the Summer and Resettlement are night and day. So of course we got the “it’s nothing like they use to be” reception and the “this is nothing like the first album, I like this way more.” You can’t please everyone but at least we’re honest with our music.
How do you feel about platforms such as Spotify, are they good for music in this day and age or are they having a negative effect on up and coming bands?
I don’t think there’s any negative effect to it at all. From a business perspective it’s cheaper for independent bands to have their music on digital platforms than the agony of either doing a small run of albums for a big change of money or manufacture a big shipment and just see your money sitting on the basement shelf for years upon years. We still do CD runs but they’re limited issue geared toward die-hard fans. I would love to do vinyl runs of our albums but that will come as we progress. With digital platforms you can promote on the internet and literally the sky’s the limit because with the right marketing tools you can promote wherever and whenever. Then you can see which areas of the world respond to your music and lower the risk of planning a tour.
What’s next in the pipeline for Winterhearth?
Right now all I can tell you guys is we’re playing the fifth annual Maritime Hard Rock & Metal Festival in July which takes place in Windsor, Nova Scotia. Happy to say we’re the first Metal act from Newfoundland to participate in the festival and we’re ready to rock the place with Skullfist. Perhaps, a video in the near future, maybe haha.
Thanks very much guys, is there anything else you would like to add?
Keep on the lookout for upcoming Winterhearth news. There’s always excitement happening. I also wanna say to other bands that live in parts of the world where people say you can’t do anything, don’t listen to any of that nonsense and you can do anything as long as you’re honest and willing to work like a dog. Thanks very much for the interview!
Check out the band at all the usual places and you can find their music on spotify too!