Q & A With Byzanthian Neckbeard

Q & A With Byzanthian Neckbeard

On a fog-covered island stranded in the English Channel, Byzanthian Neckbeard dragged itself into existence in early 2013 to set about creating their own brand of sonic doom. One year later, on August 2014 the fruits of their labors were inflicted on the world when “From The Clutches of Oblivion” was released. Later that year guitarist Jon Langlois chose to depart the band

The loss of a member unleashed a new, heavier, 3 headed beast set to walk an altered path. Dan added a second voice to the mix, giving the songs a new direction. Retaining their signature groove and mixing different aspects of Sludge, Doom, Thrash, Black and Death the band has moved on to plumb new sonic depths. From those depths, new horrors have arisen.

The creation of the second album has been a long and arduous road, but in 2019 the second age is finally upon us.

Tell me about the latest band news? Any new projects coming out, live shows or announcements?

Phil Skyrme: We’ve actually got a fair bit going on. We released a 3 track digital EP, “Extinction”, on 27th September (available through our Bandcamp). We have our 2nd full album, titled “Minaton”, coming out on the 1st of November and will be available on vinyl and digitally. And we have 2 release shows planned, one on Guernsey, one on Jersey on the 1st and 2nd November respectively. So we’re good and busy at the moment!
 

How long has the band been together?

PS: We’ve been together since early 2013

 

What was your main motivation for starting or being in a band?

PS: All 3 of us have been playing in different local bands for a long time. We all started young. For me, it was really listening to bands like Slayer, Sepultura, Pantera, Deicide to name but a few that were on constant rotation when I was young (and they still all get played a lot). You listen and want to make your own kick-ass tunes, oblivious to the amount of time it’ll actually take to get good enough to actually achieve it. I think I’m nearly there now haha!

Paul Etasse:  I just thought drums were cool.  I’d make kits out of anything, lego bass drum pedals, and stuff, so the first time I actually sat behind a real kit in the music rooms at school (I went rogue and went in on lunchtimes, because only the orchestra drummers were supposed to touch the drums) I could play a basic beat.  At 14-15 years old we were always into the more guitar-based stuff, tastes got heavier, it was the next step to have a go ourselves.

Dan Robilliard: I’d always liked music but never considered learning or getting involved until a mate asked if I wanted to learn the bass for their band, incidentally the same one Paul was in. From then on I moved through a few bands of different heavy styles. This band was something me and Phil had spoken about for a while from opposite sides of the planet before we actually got it going. It was always going to happen but it was just a matter of when.

 

 

What is your music background?

PS: I had some guitar lessons when I was pretty young, but the stuff I do now is all self-taught. All the bad habits and daft notions that inhabit my brain are solely my own fault!

PE:  At primary school, everyone got an informal test where they see if you have any natural rhythm or a good ear for notes and stuff.  I passed that, and for some reason ended up being taught violin.  That lasted until I was about 12 when violin lessons clashed with football, and football won!  Around 13-14 I started teaching myself drums ‘properly’ on an old kit I bought.  I’ve never had a drum lesson in my life, my drumming is more about the groove and making the riffs sound as good as possible rather than any technical stuff or speed. 

DR: Played a little in school, like most people over here, that is all long forgotten. Everything else is self-taught, for better or worse. I like to tell myself that having no recollection of theory means I can write without any constraints, not that it comes across in my playing with this band at all haha.

 

 

What image do you think your music conveys?

PS: Being crushed under a rock that’s been dropped on you by an 8ft bearded lunatic?

PE: It’s pretty grim and dark, but powerful.  I’d imagine anyone who’s never seen us or met us would probably have a totally different mental image to those that have.

DR: the other guys have done a good job, so I’ll simply say mass.

 


What are your immediate music career goals? 

PS: Push the album as much as we can and get over to both the mainland UK and the Continent to play as many shows as we can

DR: Yeah pretty much what Phil said along with writing new material… also, the Continent, how old are you, Phil?

 

 

What are your long-term career goals?

PS: Keep writing new material, record, keep getting better. Hopefully, we’ll have a far quicker turnaround for the 3rd album than the 4 years it took to record the 2nd!

 

 

Which do you prefer? Writing new songs and recording or playing for a live audience?

PS: Can I be a cop-out bastard and say both? Because both are really different feelings for me. When you finally nail a new song and it’s all suddenly clicked and we all agree that it sounds badass, it’s a great feeling. Then playing in front of a live audience is killer in a different way. You get lost in the lights, the energy of the crowd, the onstage sound, and the sweat!

PE:  I love the recording process, getting nerdy with mic placement, eq and stuff like that to try and create the drum sound that’s in my head, and also a representation of the live sound.  Playing live just rules though, when everything is loud as hell and the crowd is into it, you can’t beat that.

DR: Writing in this band is always a blast. Just finding that new hook that puts a grin on everyone’s face is class. I find recording pretty stressful generally, but finally hearing the tracks we’ve written recorded well is awesome.  As for playing live, I love it. Especially when the crowd is up for it.  So yeah both…. oh helpful.

 


What are your songs about? (What specific themes do they cover?)

PS: It’s a fairly broad spectrum when it comes to themes. From Old Sci-Fi, to obscure video games, to something that one of us reads online and just thinks would make a good song. We don’t have any standard things that we sing about and we try to stay away from lyrical themes that others have covered a lot

DR: It can literally be anything, but the key criteria is generally that at least 2 of us think its a cool idea.  We do have one consistent source, which we’ll continue using for as long as we can get material out of it.

 

Do you have any outrageous tour stories from the road? 

PS: Not really, unfortunately. We’re not in the situation where we tour or even play regularly off-island. We did support a pretty well know UK death metal act when they played Jersey a couple of years back. Me and Dano “borrowed” their vodka and proceeded to drink all of it..err…by accident? 

DR: That’s as rock and roll as we get.  As Phil said it’s such a pain the is arse to get off this island that we don’t get away that much.  Bit of a cop-out answer that one.

 

What’s the strangest request that you’ve ever received from one of your fans?

PS: Most of them who come and see us are too drunk to do strange requests most of the time! 

 

 

Were your parents supportive of your aspirations to play in a rock band?
PS: Thankfully mine was. My dad used to play drums in bands when he was young. Also, I think they figured that if I was spending time practicing with the band then I wasn’t out causing trouble. Not strictly true, but no one tells them.

PE:  I don’t think my parents have ever seen me play live, and I’m fine with that.  They were totally supportive (you have to be when there’s a drumkit in the house!), but I know it’s not their thing and I’d hate to have had pushy parents as I’ve seen with some people.  My dad, in particular, is not in the slightest bit musical, but I know he’s proud of what I do and that’s amazing.

DR: Always supportive, but equally surprised as neither of them is musical in the slightest.  A consistent theme while growing up at home was, “I like the music, but I don’t like singing, at all”.  I’ve always taken that as a compliment.

 

 

What are your favorite tracks to play live?

PS: For me, there’s a few. Off the first album, Doppelganger is a belter and gets people moving. From the upcoming 2nd album, the title track “Minaton” is ace and Out of the Deep always goes down well!

PE:  Definitely Minaton, it’s straight into slamming away (I’d been listening to Nails a lot when we came up with that one) it’s also got some cool cymbal and bell bits going on when the double kick stuff comes in, then it goes super slow with massive double crashes keeping the time.  My 3 favorite things in the same track!

DR: Tough one that.  Condemned is always a blast to play, its got such a smooth start that we’re all dialed in on that we’ve started mid-sentence on Pauls’ cue.  I’ve also got a soft spot for Out of The Deep as I find it one of the most atmospheric tracks to play.  Finally Minaton as its such headbanger.

 

Which band or artist inspired you to perform? Why?

PS: I think I’d be lying if I didn’t say, Slayer. They were the first really “extreme” band I heard back in the early 90s, they were the first band I got off the island to go and see. They just fucking rule. How can an impressionable young gimp like me not want to get up and do what they do?

PE:  Pantera and Slayer for me.  Growing up as a bit of a nu-metal kid and then discovering them, life is never going to be the same again! 

DR: I went down the usual route of Pantera, Slayer, and Sepultura in the 90s, which got me into playing heavy and fast, but something didn’t just click it bloody slammed into place when Odd Fellows Rest was release.  That set me off down the low and slow path.

 

If you could design a dream tour for your band, who would be on the bill?

PS: Man that’s hard. I’d probably go with High on Fire, Crowbar, and Conan

PE: Phil’s nailed that one I think!

DR: Yep.  We’ve played on the same bill as Conan, so just the other 2 to go.

 

What do you consider your greatest accomplishment so far?

PS: It’d have to be playing to a packed New Blood tent at the Bloodstock Festival. It ruled!

DR: Bloodstock was awesome, but I’ll be the one to say it…  The new album.

 



If you weren’t performing in a band what kind of career do you think you would have?

PS: I don’t really want to think about it. Playing music is such a huge part of my life, I dread to think how much of a mess I’d be without that outlet.

PE:  I’m lucky that I have a really good day job.  Music is a hobby, and I think that keeps it fun.  Dream job-wise – offshore powerboat racer.  I used to race my own smaller boats (Slayer Racing – look us up, metal fans will dig the boats!) but I’d love to get paid to be the throttle man in the big endurance racers.

DR: Paul wins that one.  We kinda need a music career before we can talk about what we’d be doing if we weren’t.

 

 

What type of equipment do you use for live shows?

PS: I use two 4×12 cabs. I’ve 2 head units, a Blackstar Series One, which I go straight into, and an Orange TH100 which I run into through a D.A.M. meathead fuzz which runs through a Quantum Mystic OD. I use an AY splitter to control em. On my explorer, I’ve got a pair of Zombie Dust Doomster pickups and we’re tuned down to A

PE:  Either my brother’s big Pearl Masters (I sold it to him and regret it!) in 24, 13 & 18 which sounds incredible or my double bass drum Tama if I’m in a more of a High on Fire/Vinnie Paul mood!  With either kit, it’s huge cymbals, no crashes, just 24, 22 and 20 rides, and a brass Pearl snare that sounds like a shotgun.  The cymbals and snare are the core of my sound definitely.

DR: A customized original Bass State with a set of EMG Geezer Butler pickups (although I have something new on the way).  That fires through a ToneHammer and an OD into my Orange OB1-500.  Simple yet effective.

 

What do you think of the current music scene?
PS: I love it. Despite there basically being more new music than I can keep up with, there are more amazing new bands than ever before. Obviously it’s a struggle for all our bands to be heard by everyone, as we’re all vying for space, but that’s just life. For those that are obsessed with metal in all its forms, it’s a damn good time to be listening! 

 

For anyone that doesn’t know you, what would they be surprised to know about you?
PS: That I’m even older than I look. Wait…

PE:  what my day job actually is!

DR: I’m a very boring person, so usually the thing that surprises people is that I’m in a band, once that’s out, not sure there’s much else.

 

 

If someone had never heard you before, how would you describe your sound?
PS: Like a bag of spanners falling out of your speakers

DR: Low, heavy and riffs.  That’ll do.

 

 

Is there anything that you’d like to promote or say to your fans out there?
PS: Well firstly, as massive thanks to everyone for the awesome support and reception that “Extinction” has gotten since its release. And on the 1st of November, the full new Album “Minaton” is coming out. It’ll be on vinyl and digital, all available through our Bandcamp, along with new shirts for both “Extinction” and “Minaton” 

Thanks again for taking the time to talk with us at XS Rock!

 

BYZANTHIAN NECKBEARD IS:
Phil Skyrme – Guitar and Vocals
Dan Robilliard – Bass and Vocals
Paul Etasse – Drums

https://www.facebook.com/ByzanthianNeckbeard/

https://byzanthianneckbeard.bandcamp.com/

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