As Our Army Grows, the newest release from the England based metal band Intense, is just that, INTENSE. The songwriting shows their maturity as musicians and the lyrics are brilliant. Intense recently signed with German based Napalm Records and they are on tour this summer playing festivals throughout Europe and the UK. I recently had an opportunity to speak with Sean Hetherington about the band and their newest record. Here is how it went:
What was it exactly which led to the formulation of the idea for Intense and furthermore to the group’s name? Sean: That was a long time ago and at the time it was just a bunch of friends getting together to make music, our first rehearsal was at my house and there were major storms that night and lots of damage. We took that as a sign. There are only 2 of us left from those days and things have gotten a bit more serious. Intense sums up my personality pretty well and the band definitely live up to the name live.
When playing together and ultimately recording this album, did you find that you could each express yourself creatively enough? Sean: Yeah absolutely, for me the big part of how well this album turned out was that fact that everyone put their hearts and soul into their individual performances, it sounds a little clichéd but the individual performances were really good and that led to the overall outcome of the recording. Karl and Rich are both very good at drawing a performance from you and that was shown on this album.
Many of your songs are so hard and intense that I’m sure they translate well into a live environment taking on a whole new life in front of an audience. How does it make you feel when the emotion or power which you envisioned when recording a song comes to life when playing in front of a crowd? Sean: Playing to a decent festival or club crowd is one of the best buzz’s I think you can get, and when it’s your music people are getting into or singing back to you it gives you a perfect high [LOL] , sometimes it takes a little while to come down but it is immensely rewarding and one of the reasons we do this.
Different groups have unique ways of writing their songs. How do you guys go about writing your music? Is it a collective effort (i.e. rehearsing and jamming together) or is it more of the efforts of one particular member of the band? Sean: Well 3 of us (Dave, Nick and myself) are the core songwriters, with Dave and Nick providing most of the music and I supply the majority of lyrics. We all have home studios and put our ideas down there, get some feedback from the other guys and then everyone learns the material and we turn up at rehearsal and jam it out to get a feel for it, sometimes we re-arrange parts but generally they’re good to go at this stage, it works really well for us.
Every band has its musical influences. What are some of the other bands or artists which have greatly influenced you guys and your music? Sean: We all have quite a cross section of influences in the metal world, most relevant I guess are Iron Maiden, Nevermore, Dream Theatre, Iced Earth, Kamelot etc.... Steve and Nick are both old school Thrash heads and I think you can hear some of that in Nicks riffs and Dave is really into his classic rock hence the amount of wah in his solos... ha ha!
Rock and heavy music in general has recently begun to make quite a comeback in the mainstream. Even though Intense technically happens to fall into this category, do you guys actually want to be considered part of the mainstream? Sean: I don’t think we’re really bothered how we’re classed as you can’t really class us as anything other than a metal band. If our music crossed over in to the mainstream a bit I wouldn’t have a problem with it. It’s not something we’re working towards and we won’t be changing our style to make us more accessible to anyone in the pop world, I think that’s the important thing, I have a problem with people who call themselves metal only to become pop/rock bands and then deny they planned things that way.
What does the near future hold for you guys as a band? Sean: Hopefully massive album sales and success ha ha.... Our immediate future is that I’m booking shows now so we can get out and play and then we’ll be writing for the next album and recording it next year.
You guys have recently signed a deal with Napalm Records. How has that affected your careers? How has that been going for you so far? Sean: Yeah we signed in Jan '07 after some negotiations. Signing to Napalm has been the biggest event to hit this band, they have put a lot of time and money into promoting the band and we’re doing all we can to do our bit too, everyone we’ve dealt with at Napalm have been really cool and extremely supportive of the band, we feel we’re on the right label that’s for sure. We’re getting good press in the big magazines and our video is being sent to all the metal shows plus appearing on Covermount DVD’s which is great.
What has been the most memorable moment of your career so far? Sean: The most memorable moment was when we opened the Bloodstock Festival main stage on the 2nd day in 2004. Children of Bodom were headlining and Sonata Arctica, Primal Fear and lots of other really good bands were on the bill so the pressure was on. We hit the stage at 11:55 AM not knowing what to expect as everyone would be either still in bed, hung over or eating or something but No.... We went onstage to a massive roar and were greeted by a near full hall of 2,500 metal heads going nuts... we were all taken aback and the crowd sung all the songs with us and it was a great 30 minute set... we didn’t come down for hours.
How has As Our Army Grows been received by your fans? Sean: Well it’s creating a more broad fan base for us if anything as it’s our first world wide release. People that know the band though have all been blown away and I think we’ve surpassed expectations which is really cool to hear. There’s a lot of good metal in England at the moment and we needed to put out a strong album and I think we succeeded.
How do you feel your live show differs from you CD? Sean: Musically, I hope not too much, but we deliver it in a very full on way, lots of energy, lots of head banging and some funny moments too, we try and make people smile and punch the air... we come off stage drenched every night due to the effort we put in.
Any plans to tour the States at all? Sean: Not as yet but as soon as an opportunity comes up we’ll be over like a shot.... We all can’t wait to play the States as we’ve heard how receptive the crowds are over there and from some of the reactions we’ve been getting through the websites I think most people will get our music. Thanks for the interview.... and Regards from the UK... Sean. [ END ]