INTERVIEWS: Ian O'Sullivan

HALLOWED IS THY NAME.

Yet another Power Metal band from Germany? No, not quite so this time. Even though that's where they live now, the roots of this band lay in Ireland from where guitarist and main composer Ian O'Sullivan and vocalist Camillus Croke come. This fact is evident when you listen to their debut album "Forgotten People" and their music is not something you'd forget and put back on the shelf after one hearing. These songs seem to reveal more and more with every spin, which is not quite a common thing. While aggression, heaviness and speed are the main factors, the band can blend them flawlessly with memorable multiple vocal-harmonies and complex melodic guitar-lines. But these are not the happy-sweet melodies that overflow the so-called power metal scene of today - in Hallowed's songs there's a lot of darkness and a bit of melancholy. You can also clearly hear their different than standard inspirations. Even though the first band that came to my mind was old good Maiden (especially from the "Powerslave" era, but in Camillus' voice you can also hear Blaze), sometimes the fascination with bands like Agent Steel or Anvil is quite evident (some say Thin Lizzy too - in the vocal department, but I can't judge, not knowing them). Through this energetic and powerfully played Heavy Metal the aforementioned Irish folk elements show, but rest assured: they're nothing dominant - they only give unique character to their music and perfectly fit into the whole concept. Let's see what Ian has to say about his band and the album which was released on 21st of July...

Jowita Kaminska: What are the beginnings of HALLOWED? How and when did you all come together?

Ian O'Sullivan: HALLOWED was formed just over a year ago in Germany. I had the concept of the band in mind for a number of years but it was just a matter of getting the right group of musicians together so that it would sound right.

JK: Did you play in any other bands before HALLOWED?

IO'S: All the band members have played in very diverse types of bands. I played in a trash-band called MISCREANT back in Ireland for a number of years. We did some demos and got some Radio air-play, but it was too hard in Ireland at the time. John (A.B.C: Smith) played with German melodic metallers SCANNER, and did two albums with his own band GALLOW'S POLE. Drew (Myers) and Jesse (Braun) played together in Punk and Metal bands in the States, but never did anything serious before now. Camillus' (Croke) background is more in Irish music so he obviously had to adapt a lot to singing in a Metal band, but this helps his voice to be more unique than a lot of metal-vocalists.

JK: "Forgotten People" is your debut album, but it sounds very mature. How old are those tracks? Did you record any demos? And how long did the album take to complete?

IO'S: Thanks a lot! I'm glad that you think the music sounds mature. This is definitely one of our aims. The tracks were all written in the past 16 month. A couple were written only weeks before the album was recorded. We recorded one demo in October 2002. It contained: "No Escape", "Impact", "To See Is To Believe", "Mask Of Sanity", and one cover song "Jailbreak" from Thin Lizzy. The album was recorded, mixed and mastered in just two weeks in February 2003. It was a very exhausting and stressful couple of weeks!

JK: Could you tell something about the music to those who have never heard any of your songs? What are your musical influences?

IO'S: I would describe our music as very honest Heavy Metal. We don't have songs about dragons or knights on crusades, so if you like that stuff you won't find it in our music. Each song is a concept - not just riffs with some lyrics thrown over them. The lyrics are determined by the mood of the music. Our influences include: Thin Lizzy, Iron Maiden, Mötorhead, Slayer and some Thrash and Death Metal bands.

JK: One of the distinguishing marks of your band are the Irish influences. They show not only through the music itself, but also in lyrics... Are the books you read or movies you watch any inspiration for you when you write them? Tell us please about the lyrics you wrote for "Forgotten People".

IO'S: Yes definitely. "Mask Of Sanity" was written about a child-killer in America in the 1930's called Albert Fish that I'd read about. This is probably our darkest song. "Forgotten People" is about a group of people who are over-run by a more powerful majority and are forced into sub-servience. It's based loosely on Celtic and Irish mythology, but it could also be about a capitalist elite. It's open to interpretation - you decide!

JK: Who was the producer and the engineer of your album?

IO'S: The engineer was Detlef Mohrmann who's been recording Metal bands in Germany for about 20 years. He's recorded Sacred Steel and Holy Mother among others. The album was produced by our bassist John A.B.C. Smith with myself as co-producer.

JK: Are you totally satisfied with the final effect?

IO'S: I don't think I ever would be. I think the album captured the energy and the atmosphere of our music which are the main things. So for such a short time in studio we did a good job. But I would hope to eventually work with a bigger production budget.

JK: What reactions to your album have you received so far?

IO'S: It's been very positive so far. We haven't gotten a bad review yet and a lot of people have said that we stand out from other new-comer bands. So we're happy with that. (see reviews)

JK: How did your record deal with Shark Records come about? Does your label give you enough support?

IO'S: a. Through the pain-staking process of sending out demos and calling record companies etc. It's hard today, there are so many bands. We've been lucky.
b. Not really to be honest. As soon as the album was done we were on our own. We have to promote ourselves, for the most part and book our own gigs, so at the moment we're seeking good management.

JK: You are quite an international band - it must make practicing a bit awkward, I guess...

IO'S: Not really - 'cos for most of the year now we are all living in the same part of Germany.

JK: So you moved from Ireland to Germany. Was it because Germany's a better "metal market"? What's your opinion on the nowadays metal scene?

IO'S: It's not the reason I came to Germany, but it's the reason I stayed. I wanted to be closer to record companies, good studios and I wanted to be able to see a lot of live shows. In Ireland it's harder to see good metal-shows that it is in Germany. The nowadays metal-scene is confusing. What is Heavy Metal these days? You have Power Metal, Symphonic Power-Metal and Epic, Symphonic, Power-Metal etc... it's all bullshit really. A lot of it today is radio-friendly rock dressed up as metal. We still have Slayer though! There are a lot of good bands though if you can look past the stuff the bigger labels are trying to stick down your throat! Death-Metal seems to be alive and well I am glad to say, and Thrash looks like it's making a welcome come-back.

JK: What are your feelings towards getting music from the internet?

IO'S: It has to be regulated someway, because it's getting out of hand. Nevermind, mp3's, you can download songs to play as a ring-tone on your mobile phone. Music is too accessible today - it used to be something special.

JK: Have you played any tour or only single gigs so far?

IO'S: Just single-gigs in Germany so far, but we hope to organise a tour soon. Our label does nothing for us in this regard so we have to organise this ourselves.

JK: What bands would you like to play with most?

IO'S: Any band really. The competition is so fierce now to get support gigs, I'd be happy to play with anyone. Drew says his dream is to open for Mötorhead though.

JK: What are your plans for the nearest future? Have you already started to write new material?

IO'S: At the moment we are working hard promoting the band and we are talking to as many people about our music as possible to get our name out there. We are also in the process of securing steady management. We have a lot of new material already and we are committed to making our next release even better than our debut.

JK: OK, I think I've covered everything I wanted to know. Now it's time for you to say whatever you wished I had asked!

IO'S: I just like to say to the Polish Metal Fans that if anyone wants to hear a new comer band that isn't trying to be the next Helloween then they should check us out. We're a Heavy Metal band with an emphasis on the word "Heavy". We'd appreciate any comments you have. Send them to: hallowed@gmx.de

August 2003
Copyright by: Jowita Kaminska