New Power Metal warriors BATTLE BORN are due to release their most anticipated self-titled debut EP at the end of the month. Given their strong sound, it’s no surprise that fellow warriors are eager to join their clan. Rock Out Stand Out’s Lotty Whittingham speaks to lead vocalist Jack Reynolds and guitarist/backing vocalist Tom O’Dell about their new EP, their influences and who they would call if a battle ever commenced.
Hello guys, thank you for joining us today. Ever since you guys introduced your sound, you have gotten a lot of attention already which is great. For those who are still living under that Power Metal rock, how would you describe your sound?
Tom: The analogy we end up going with is that we’re equal parts classic Judas Priest Painkiller and Finnish Dreamtale and Beast In Black. It’s those two styles thrown together with a bit of appreciation for all things fun and over the top.
Your upcoming EP is all about Skyrim, which is awesome. What made you decide to write an EP about Skyrim?
Tom: It’s one of those origin stories that you wouldn’t believe it if I told it to you. Some of us had been to Wacken in 2018, we drove there. So we were driving back after five days of metal and beer, it’s all power and folk metal there so it’s very silly. We were driving back, feeling a bit glum to be heading back to rainy England and then when we stopped off for a Burger King break, one of our number decided to buy a Sudoku book.
He did about two numbers in the easy Sudoku challenge before deciding to write some random Skyrim lyrics on the side of the book. By the time we got back to England, we’d written the first song of the EP on an iPad and a full set of Skyrim lyrics about taking back the metal. Obviously the only thing to do with that was to form a full band, write an EP and carry on regardless.
That explains the song Bring The Metal Back, who are you influenced by as musicians and as a band? You seem to have an eclectic range of influences.
Jack: Yes I suppose we do. Tom mentioned Painkiller and that’s huge of course. That’s kind of the generic answer for every Power Metal album that’s been made since the early nineties. I think for me personally and the singing, it’s got to be Bruce. Bruce Dickinson from Iron Maiden. I love his voice to bits and have done far longer than can be considered healthy so I am sure quite a bit of it ends up in how I sing.
Tom: I think in terms of singing, I am huge fan of Christopher Lee on the Rhapsody Of Fire album he is on. I think it’s The Magic Of A Wizard’s Dream where he comes in the pre-chorous and it’s deep, magnificent and classical. I like to sing in a choir environment so I have a very different voice to Jack’s. Mine’s clean and choral whereas Jack goes for the rasp and for Bruce-style. I think these work quite well together.
Guitar wise, I’m not sure. I learnt to play along to Beast In Black songs, Iron Maiden and all the other metal I like. I think the guitar work is an amalgamation of mine and Will [Kerr]’s styles.
Speaking of choral work, is that both of you singing on the track For Our Home?
Tom: Yes so I am the low voice and Jack is on top of that.
I take it this EP was recorded before lockdown?
Jack: Yes, quite a while before lockdown.
Tom: We have been slowly working on this for about a year and half I think. I must have recorded the vocals in For Our Home in 2018, a couple of months after Wacken.
Jack: I think it was.
Tom: There was ups and downs of momentum given that we were all busy in the day jobs as well so. We didn’t have a full line up for a while, we took a while to solidify the bassist and drummer positions. Once we had got that down, momentum got bigger and bigger. Now we have hit the ground running I think, so hopefully it won’t take quite as long for the next one.
Jack: Everyone is really into it, there’s no sense of people dragging their heels. As soon as there is something to do in the group chat, everyone gets on with it.
Do you have a favourite song on the EP?
Tom: We were actually discussing this in the group chat the other day whilst doing our orders for the album. My favourite song is the finale, Sovengard Awaits. It’s the big closer, it has a bit of everything from the EP and it ends in the biggest climax. In the chorous, the drums are in half time when originally they weren’t. I remember going through the production, we moved the snare and we listened through. It turns out it has this cool bit where Jack starts singing, the guitars kick in and all the metal comes back in. We were all headbanging and shouting ‘this is amazing, what have we done?!’
Jack: That’s my favourite too.
When it comes to vocals, particularly you Jack as you have a wide range. Do you have in mind what vocal techniques you’re going to use in which tracks or is it case of singing and seeing what fits?
Jack: I guess I do. I don’t really think about it too much beforehand but I always have in my head how it’s going to sound. Sometimes, the decision is made for me by the pitch. Let’s be honest. But yes, I know how it’s going to sound before I get in there and try it out.
Once we get out of lockdown and get back to gigs, from your answers I take it you’re looking forward to playing Sovengard Awaits the most. Are there any others you are looking forrward to playing live?
Jack: We’re going to do them all live for sure. We managed to get in quite a few rehearsals before lockdown started. I have got to say, the whole EP is really fun to play so I struggle to pick a favourite as far as gigging.
With regards to lockdown, how have you guys been dealing with it?
Tom: I’m somehow busier than I have ever been. I’m not really sure how I manage that, it’s been non-stop for about eight weeks.
Jack: It can be quite exhausting when you can’t leave the house and do anything. I don’t know how.
When lockdown is over, what are Battle Born’s plans?
Tom: We want to hit the road. As Jack said, we managed to get in a few rehearsals before lockdown started and it was starting to take a really good shape. We started planning the show aspects of it as well as the music and I think we are all just really keen to get on a stage, have fun with it and spread the metal around.
To round things up, which five people would you take into battle with you? They can be dead, alive, fiction, non-fiction.
Jack: Okay, I would have Conan. Saruman and Count Dooku, so two Christopher Lees. I think I would have Charlie, our drummer and I think will finish off with Sonic The Hedgehog.
Tom: I’m going to go with Oberfett, you never know what’s up his sleeve and he’s crafty. I am also going to go with Saruman, he’s a powerful man, knows his way and is quite wise. Obviously, Ulfric Stormcloak the true high king of Skyrim. Professor McGonagall from Harry Potter because I don’t think I have ever seen her loose an argument so she would never loose a fight. I’m going to go with my brother because he’s younger than me but more atheletic and more sporty so he would be good in that situation.
Thank you guys for speaking to Rock Out Stand Out and best of luck with the EP release.