Since forming in Reading in 2003, Malefice have gone on to play the big UK festivals Download and Sonisphere, released 3 albums, toured with major metal musos like DevilDriver and Anthrax and recorded the song ‘Omega’ with Everton goalie Marcus Hahnemann for Jägermeister.
Currently touring with young upstarts Rise To Remain, we sat down with Malefice’s vocalist Dale Butler at Portsmouth’s Wedgewood Rooms and tried to find out a bit more about them…
How’s the tour been going?
Really really good, it’s our second night so it’s still all a little bit new, but last night was cool, all the bands are cool. We’ve known Rise To Remain for yonks and the Adept guys are fucking crazy so we’re going to get on like a house on fire.
Have you played a few shows with Rise To Remain before then?
I don’t think we’ve ever played with them before, I think they opened up for us a few times when we were younger, I’m not sure though. This was more like an opportunity to get out on the road, we joined the bill really late, which is why we’re so low down (on the bill), but we just wanted to get out, we were getting cabin fever. I was in the studio with Austin (Dickinson, vocalist of Rise To Remain) and he said “we really should tour together”, so I said “when?” and he said “well we might be able to squeeze you in on this tour…” so I just said well let’s fucking do it! A couple of beers later and here we are…
Last time you were here you headlined and recorded it for a DVD release – what’s the latest on that?
Well, basically we were just about to release it when we changed label so we couldn’t. It’s basically pricks who sit behind desks BUT we have got it and we are going to do something quite special soon. We’re kind of going back to our roots and giving away some stuff like that that people haven’t got hold of, like lots of stuff from the ‘Entities’ era, so it will be out.
What’s more of a challenge for you – headlining or supporting?
It’s different challenges. The main reason we wanted to do this tour is because Rise To Remain have got a very different kind of audience than what we’re used to – we’re used to going out with bands like DevilDriver and Arch Enemy – this is a very young audience for us.
All of those (other) bands have the same kind of fans and it’s not that we’re turning our backs on those fans, but because we crossover quite well to a younger market, it’s something we’ve been trying to consciously do as a band to get into that younger market so that when we go touring again. We’re attracting two different audiences which is going to make the show a lot fucking better, so for us to come on this tour that was the main thing for us, just to get in front of kids and I mean kids – I think these are all ages shows and last night the front row must have had a combined age of about 30 it was crazy but it was cool.
It’s nice to play in front of the people who’ve seen you 7 times and that’s awesome, but what’s also awesome is those who say they’ve never heard of you until now but they’re definitely going to check you out again. Making new fans is something we haven’t done for a good 12 months because we’ve been doing the same circuits.
Having just mentioned those other tours, as a band that’s played outside of the UK, is there more of camaraderie between UK bands than say US bands or perhaps more competition?
The thing is with UK bands is they’ve been shit on for years because everyone’s turned to America for metal while there’s been some great bands on our doorstep and now people are starting to warm to that.
There’s always been a camaraderie between metal bands in the UK, I don’t know what it’s like in other scenes. It’s not really us against them, I think anyone in the same situation will bond, this tour’s really good because everyone’s doing splitter vans, you haven’t got the headliner in a tour bus which always separates them. We’ve done it and it always separates you from the rest of the tour because you’ve got somewhere to go and no one else has, but we’re all backstage at the moment and hanging out and it forces you to get on and bond with these people.
The album ‘Awaken The Tides’ has been out for a while, how’s the reception been?
It’s been really good. We’ve started changing our sound a bit with loads of electronics and synths and fucking strings everywhere!
Was that a conscious thing or an experiment on one track that worked so well you carried it on?
Yeah, we wanted to make our sound a lot bigger and we’re going even further with it on the new stuff we’re writing at the moment with pianos and stuff. We listened to the last two Biffy Clyro records and realised this stuff does work on rockier progressive music, why don’t we give it a go? We didn’t want to turn into Dimmu Borgir, but we wanted to find the happy medium of groove based metal but chucking in all the melody with strings and synths. Some of the more elitist fans didn’t get it, but for every fan we potentially lost on that album we gained like a hundred.
Have you personally revisited it and what are your thoughts now that you’ve perhaps had more distance from it than when it was released?
Yeah, every time you walk away from an album 6 months down the line you think you could have done things better. If you’re 100% happy with a record you’re not good enough. You need to be super fucking critical because if you can be, you can get better. We always pick our stuff to fucking pieces afterwards and try and learn from it.
So going forward?
Our sound’s definitely evolving and we’re getting some new gear and rolling back the gain on our guitars. We’re still being metal we’re just doing it in a different way. We’ve done 3 albums and toured round the world being angry bastards, now we’re starting to mellow out. We’re not selling out, we’re trying to be a bit more progressive and a bit more artsy. It’s a much bigger production now.
Where’s the inspiration come from for these changes?
We got a new guitarist (Andy Wilson) just before we toured with Sylosis last year and he’s fucking amazing! My two favourites bands have always been Misery Signals and Mastodon and they’re both quite fiddly bands and we just wanted to try something different. There’s so many metal bands out there you’ve just got to try and be a cut above the rest. We can either go stale and fizzle out or try and evolve and stay on the road.
I’ve got one word –’Omega’ (the song Malefice recorded with Everton goalie Marcus Hahnemann on backing vocals). How did that all come about?
I’ve got one word – Jägermeister! They like doing weird things. They got in touch with us because they knew we were into our football and asked “What if we could hook you up with a Premiership footballer?” and offered us Marcus Hahnemann or Martin Skrtel and I wasn’t having fucking Skrtel coz I can’t stand Liverpool, so let’s get Hahnemann in. We’re from Reading, he used to play for Reading and is a cult hero so let’s give it a go. We spoke on the phone a few times, met him down the studio and we just fucking did it and it’s a fucking sick track! I was really happy with my vocals and feel like it’s the Malefice sound for this line up because it’s the first time Andy’s written anything for us.
Would you do something like that again?
We’re happy to do anything as long as it works. Jägermeister have put a lot of money into us and so anything we can give back to them we’ll do it.
So Download 2012, Jäger Truck Acoustic Stage…
No, that won’t be happening! We won’t ever be doing an acoustic set! We’ve been offered it loads but we’re like “How the fuck are we going to do that?” We’ve got some softer tracks but that’s not what people want to hear. You can’t play modern thrash metal on an acoustic guitar, it would just be me screaming over one, it would be awful.
What’s Malefice got planned next?
We should be announcing a headline tour soon. I can’t go into details yet obviously, but maybe some European festivals…
Any UK ones?
We don’t know, we’ve done a major UK festival every year for the last five, so we might focus a bit more on Europe because a lot of them clash now. There’s no point us playing a UK festival if we don’t have a decent slot. There’s no point wasting the opportunity to play Sonisphere or Download or Bloodstock and being in the wrong place and clashing with fucking Slipknot because what’s the point? You can’t play the following year because you played the year before so it’s got to be right for us and it’s got to be right for them. You’ll see our name floating about though.
Photography by Mark Latham Photograpy