Picture the End
Take A Picture
17 September 2007
Words by Justin Donnelly
The metallic hardcore scene has exploded in recent years, particularly in Australia, with groups such as I Killed The Prom Queen and Parkway Drive giving international acts a run for music fans hard-earned money.
Another newcomer to the scene is five-piece act Melbourne based outfit Picture The End (Who comprise of vocalist Rob Taylor, guitarists Jon Green and Stu Callinan, bassist Clint Pateel and drummer Scott Birnie), who in a short three years have released a three-track demo through Sightline Records (Distributed through Shock Records), before making the jump to Stomp Records for their debut full-length album They Swarmed Like Locusts in March.
With gigs lined up with international acts Darkest Hour and Obituary lined up in the coming weeks, I caught up with vocalist Rob Taylor at home (Who at the time was relaxing with a couple of well earned beers) to find out how he thinks the band will go down in front of a predominately death metal audience, the details behind the making of They Swarmed Like Locusts and their move from small independent label Sightline Records to Stomp Records.
“When we first signed to Sightline Records way back in 2005, it was all well and good. They managed to secure us a lot of shows off the back of our three-track demo, and that really boosted our profile to an extent, which was really cool. But towards the end, we got to a point where we wanted to work with someone that appreciated our music a lot more. And that's when Darren Cherry from Stomp Records approached us. We were really wrapped, because he just loves the album. So it's better to work with someone who's into the music as much as we are.”
According to Taylor, the response to the demo was favourable, even if the band's sound was completely different to what its like today.
“Anyone who has the demo in their hands definitely has something rare! It's pretty embarrassing to me, but I guess you shouldn't forget where your roots are. So anyone who has got a copy of the demo, hold onto it because you're not going to get another one! (Laughs) Now that you bring it up, and now that I think about it, the release of the demo was a fair while back. Our former guitarist Aaron Winwood was in the band at the time, so the songs were a lot different. I think we were still defining our sound at that point. Even on the new album, there's some old songs on there that have been reworked, such as They've Got Their Magnums. I've Got My Magnums. We're Going To Shoot This One Out. We though it was a good song, and since there were only five hundred copies of the E.P. released, we thought it would give people a chance to hear it again. So we stepped it up a little more, and polished it up, and decided to keep it on the album. The only problem is that since They Swarmed Like Locusts was released, we've had a lot of people asking us to play the other two songs from the demo! (Laughs) I just kind of laugh it off and hope they understand that they don't really fit with how we sound now.”
With the album barely five weeks old, reactions and reviews for They Swarmed Like Locusts have been coming in thick and fast, with the overwhelming majority favourable.
“The album came out a whole lot better than we expected. Man, each time I listen to it, I'm happier with thew production on it, and that's a good sign. We spent a lot of time on the album. I think it was around three months in total. It didn't take long to record it, but mixing it and getting it up to the standard that we wanted it to be up to took a fair while. We were pretty picky. We weren't about to release anything that was less than awesome. And it has paid off. I haven't heard anything negative about the album. Stomp Records have put a lot of promotion into the album, so we're getting a lot of people coming to the shows that wouldn't otherwise come. They're coming out to see us, going nuts at the shows, and that's great. The more people coming out and getting into it, the better I say. The album is really taking off, so hopefully it stays on the same path and we can get out there and tour more. We're not really prepared to sort of go out of our way to change ourselves or anything like that in order to get any more sales. We are who we are, and the music speaks for itself. If people dig it, then that's a bonus.”
One of the more striking elements about They Swarmed Like Locusts is the cover artwork, which was put together by Sheri J. Tantawy of The Bodycage Media.
“I totally agree. The original concept came from Leith Gow (In Name And Blood guitarist), and he was originally going to do the artwork. His concept was of the locusts swarming over something pure. But unfortunately, he just couldn't get around to doing the artwork because he was really busy at the time. So we got our friend Tantawy from The Bodycage Media to get on the case. I had seen her artwork beforehand, and it was just crazy. She does some pretty gruesome looking stuff! (Laughs) We wanted a really metal looking album. We didn't want some trendy looking piece of art that saw us jumping onboard the latest trend. We wanted something that truly represented the music. I think it does that quite well. It looks very fancy and distinctive, and really stands out. I had this image of the cover in my head before she did it, and I'll tell you what, it's pretty much exactly the same as my artist view of it. It's awesome. She did such a good job.”
Apart from the nine tracks on the album, there are also a couple of samples from some select movies in between the tracks, including the band's tribute to B-grade action film star Dolph Lundgren.
“(Laughs) There's one at the start of They've Got Their Magnums. I've Got My Magnums. We're Going To Shoot This One Out. That's Jesse Ventura from Predator. And the other one is probably something a lot of people couldn't pick, and that's from an old school movie called Dark Angel from way back in 1990. That's the movie with Dolph Lundgren starring. We're really into our old school stuff! (Laughs) We're all fans, and we thought it was a good way to honour his incredible film work.”
Also worth mentioning is the last track For The Abotts, which is the band's tribute to Pantera.
“You'll find that a lot of the song title meanings are mixed in the lyrics there somewhere. On For The Abotts, there are definitely some lines that are dedicated to Dimebag. But then there's a lot of it that's more about the difficulties within bands, and keeping those bands together while struggling to have a life. It's definitely a tribute to Dimebag. I wanted to put something on the album that was a tribute to him because he's a star. He's my hero, as well as being everybody else's hero within the band.”
It's funny that Taylor should mention the struggles of existing within a band, as the thank you credits on the album gives a one finger salute to those who didn't help out Picture The End in any way.
“There has been more than a few people over the couple of years that have gone out of their way not to help us out. In life, no matter what it is you're doing, there's always going to be people that want to bring you down. That's a message I want to get really across in the end. A lot of my lyrical content is about rising to the top, and not caring about what people think it is you want to do. I want people to know that they can live their dreams. They don't have to live the life that someone else wants them to live.”
With the explosion of metalcore acts on the national scene, I couldn't help but ask just what Taylor thought Picture The End offers that the other metalcore acts on the scene don't.
“I'll say this now, we're not into this whole trendy metalcore thing that's happening right now. We've got some metalcore moments on the album, but that goes back more to our older influences like Madball, Turmoil, Hatebreed and bands like that. We wanted to have a more traditional sound to it. Although we're a very modern sounding band, especially with the layout of the album, we wanted to keep a lot of the traditional guitar harmonies and things like that. We still love our Pantera, Guns N' Roses and Iron Maiden stuff, and we wanted to keep that. We didn't want to be the next big thing that's jumping onboard this trend that's going around. I would definitely say that we're more of a metal band. Like I said, there are some metalcore moments on there, and even hardcore moments as well. We all still listen to a lot of hardcore, along with a whole range of styles within music. We're a metal band, straight up. Anyone that thinks that we're a hardcore band is stupid. Metalcore to me is something like Turmoil or Hatebreed. It's that sort of heavy/hardcore sounding stuff. To me, I think we have a lot more metal moments on the album.”
Moving onto more relevant topics, I spoke to Taylor about the group's upcoming dates with Obituary and Darkest Hours, as well as what the band have up their sleeves in the future touring wise.
“The Obituary tour is going to be crazy! (Laughs) We're hanging for that. I've been listening to Obituary since I was 15. That band has been around for 20 years, so for me, that's an absolute spin out! To be supporting them for their first visit out here is overwhelming. It's going to be great. As for their fans, I'm not sure how the old school Obituary fans will see us, but we'll see how it goes. We'll just do our own thing. Onstage, we'll always be the same. We'll just have fun, and if the fans get into it, then that's a bonus. If they don't, it doesn't matter. We'll still do our thing. We're not going to change. Having said that, I think we'll slot into Darkest Hour's crowd a bit better. I didn't get a chance to catch them last time they were down here, but the other guys in the band did. We're all absolutely stoked to be a part of that tour too. I think our sound will go a lot better with that band for sure. I thvink the crowd will probably dig us. A bit more than the Obituary fans at least! (Laugh) We're definitely looking forward to that. We're stoked to be a part of any tour we come across. We just want our fans to get a chance to see us play live. We also want to enjoy it while we can. As for beyond that, you always have to look pretty far ahead. We just want to tour this album as much as we can. We're definitely looking to get some distribution overseas so that we can tour Europe and the U.S. If the labels over there pick the album up and really dig it, then hopefully we can get over there and tour before we write the next album. We've actually started writing the next album. We have a couple of songs written already. But we figured we have enough time between albums to write some really kick arse stuff. We figured we would use that time to polish these songs up for the next time around in the studio.”
Picture The End's latest album, They Swarmed Like Locusts, is out now on Stomp Records. For more information on Picture The End, check out www.picturetheend.com.