Hey Den, thanks for your time mate. Firstly, a brief history of Espionage?
Cheers for having me, mate! The idea for Espionage was born during the final days of my old band Seppuku. We played a show with Darker Half and NZ’s Razorwyre in November, 2013, and I was just blown away by the high, soaring vocals and insane falsettos from both bands. No one in Melbourne (to my knowledge at the time) was doing that kind of thing. In a city that seemed to have an endless supply of thrash metal bands, it seemed like the next logical step for me to take as a musician. A few days after the show, I started writing and demoing songs for Espionage (don’t ask me where I got the name from), and then put out a call to arms on Facebook and a couple of other places. Frosty (lead vocals/bass) jumped on the project almost immediately as a bassist originally, before he took control of lead vocals. We had a couple of other people we were jamming with during the first few months, but we don’t talk about them haha. We played our first show at the very first Legions Of Steel Festival in 2013, and it’s been a ball ever since!
We’ve got a few shows left on the tour, and a couple of things I’m not allowed to get into just yet, so I’ll try to keep it brief! We’ve got an album coming out later this year. I’ve been writing and demoing songs since the release of our Wings Of Thunder EP in August 2016, and I’ve got 12 tracks ready to go! It’s just a matter of rehearsing them and possibly doing some last minute changes to them before heading back into the studio with Chris Themelco at Monolith Studios to get stuck into it! Hopefully we’ll have that out for your listening pleasure before the year ends, and then we’ll tour some more. We’re really keen to hit Japan and Europe, so who knows what’s in store!?
Who were/are your biggest influences in becoming a musician?
I think I started playing guitar back in 2006, where I was mainly just teaching myself classical and flamenco guitar. Then I got into Randy Rhoads and Eddie Van Halen and it all changed forever! Along came Megadeth, Pantera, Testament, Arch Enemy and all that heavier sort of stuff, and I just couldn’t get enough of it, so I started searching for more and more stuff. Some bigger influences are probably just friends and family members that I was jamming with in my earlier days of playing. In terms of my biggest guitar heroes who influenced me, you’ve got the aforementioned Randy and Eddie. Marty Friedman, Gary Moore, Jason Becker, George Lynch, John Norum… Anyone who has tasty vibrato and melody in their playing, really. As for Espionage, we’re not afraid to show our influences, which is basically anything 80s haha!
If you (Espionage) could support one band in one venue, who would it be and where?
That’s a hard one! In a dream world, probably Judas Priest (Frosty will argue Iron Maiden). Venue doesn’t matter. Budokan, perhaps?
You’re currently running/promoting the Legions Of Steel Festival in Melbourne, which has grown considerably. How did it come to life back in 2014?
Legions Of Steel Festival was pretty much born alongside Espionage. Prior to that, I had been booking and promoting shows since around 2010, and tried my luck with a couple of “fest” type shows, but they never really went anywhere. To be honest, I had no idea what I was doing back then haha! I kept seeing all these local festivals, and to a degree, even larger ones such as Soundwave, and for me; the line-ups were always so disappointing. The traditional heavy metal/power metal scene was still kind of new to me, as I was a thrash head, and I think Dave Balfour’s Steel Assassins Festival opened my eyes to all these great bands that I didn’t know about otherwise. That, and his consistently good line-ups! So once Espionage kicked off, we wanted to play a huge debut show, and what a perfect excuse to pull a festival out of my arse! It was a success too!
What is your selection process involve in selecting bands for Legions, it must be a tough task?
If their logos look good on the poster, I book them. Haha. Joking aside, you’re right. It’s a very tough task indeed. Frosty once said “We basically just book a bunch of bands that we want to play with”. He’s right in a way. There are certain bands I know I can always count on, and it’s always a safe bet putting them on the bill, hence some repeat offenders such as Harlott, Taberah and In Malice’s Wake. Not to mention that band Espio-something that seems to play every year… Seriously though, these days I have an idea of the line-up of bands I want roughly mapped out, then fill the remaining slots with bands who have sent through submissions. I try to have at least 2 interstate bands minimum, and a mixture of sub-genres. The hardest part is having to say no to bands.
With a good steady increase in the popularity of Legions, where would you like to see it in 3 or 4 years’ time?
There are two things that come to mind. 1) I want an international band to headline in the near future. And 2) I wouldn’t mind taking the festival itself to Japan… So for those people reading this – buy a ticket and help me achieve this!
Thanks for your time, Den. It’s appreciated and all the best for “Legions Of Steel 2017” see you in May.
Cheers mate! See you then!