Andy chats with Ashley of BESIEGED
Hi Ashley! Thanks for taking time out to talk to me. Can you tell us how Besieged was formed?
Hi Andy. Yeah, it’s kind of a culmination of many bands to be honest. Years ago Jez & Barney were in a band together and I’ve been in 2 different bands before with both Matt & Dan. Besieged started in late 2012 when Jez and Barney decided they wanted to create some new music that was fast and heavy. They wrote and recorded a 2 track demo and it was well-received so they began recruiting a full band to take it further. Dan had known them both for many years and when he joined he suggested myself and Matt as we’d had good working relationships as well as being good friends.
How do you all manage to juggle other commitments with other bands?
Well with regards to our other bands (Benediction & Anaal Nathrakh), their gigs tend to be booked a fair bit in advance so we all work our schedules around that. With enough forward planning it’s not a problem at all.
It’s good to be organized in that way. Does playing in different genres of extreme metal help blend the music together to create Besieged?
I guess it helps yeah, it also keeps things fresh. Jez and Barney are the sort of masterminds behind Besieged’s music but having members in other fields of metal means that we all put our individual stamp on the overall sound, so to speak.
Your EP Aggressor is an awesome debut for the band. I guess the influences came from early death, thrash and black metal roots. How on earth did you manage to create such a brutal sound and remain original without sounding like a specific band or genre?
I guess it was just a case of thinking “what is it in music that excites me?” and then aiming for a feeling in the music rather than a sound. Obviously you can hear aspects of our main influences in our songs because Thrash Metal is a very stylistically recognizable genre. If it’s thrash it’s thrash, so to speak but as we’ve all played music in different areas of metal we brought in a few aspects of those other styles. Plus, we wanted to make music that’s as enjoyable to play as it is to listen to.
I can certainly hear that the main element is thrash, with an extra helping of death metal. There’s a chunk of European thrash in your music, but it has a very British accent firmly stamped on there. Has the British thrash/death sound crept in by pure chance, or was this targeted?
I think that’s mostly just been a happy byproduct if I’m being honest. This music has a much larger appeal in mainland Europe so that’s always been in our minds but the fact that it still sounds British is really great to hear.
Do you feel that the UK metal scene has been disregarded in recent years, during the wave of the metal core, screamo bands? I know a lot of bands in the UK were/are struggling to find gigs, both here and in Europe due to the sheer volume of bands touring. Germany and Holland seem to be two countries that seem to bypass all these bands preferring to book ‘real’ metal bands, extreme metal bands in particular. Do you think that thrash is yet again, making another huge comeback?
I’m not sure about UK metal being disregarded, there are quite a few metal bands over here doing really well but I think the fact that a lot of those bands are finding it more difficult in Europe is that it’s just less popular there than the more traditional genres of metal. Saying that Screamo/Metalcore genres are not ones I follow so I may very well be completely wrong haha. As far as Thrash making a huge comeback, who knows? It had its major boom in the early ’80s and it’s not likely it’ll ever reach those highs again but in my experience, it’s never really gone away. I daresay that there’s a sort of loyal following out there that are probably eager to hear something new though.
Being a thrash head since the early 80’s I don’t think it will ever reach that scale again either. With a lot of the old bands reforming or reverting back to their heavier side, and more younger fans catching on to thrash, seems to kick of a chain reaction. There are a lot of young or new thrash bands coming through the ranks now, and death metal going strong once again. It’s interesting to hear what bands like yourself, incorporate into their music. Besieged’s style is so in your face, aggressive, technical, but yet not over-complicated to the extreme of the tech-death bands. It’s truly amazing to hear such quality thrash again. How does a typical live Besieged show go down?
Thanks very much. Well, we’re not really into gimmicks or anything like that and we’re all very passionate about what we’re doing so we hope that comes across. Also, I find It’s hard not to get caught up in the moment and rock out while we’re blasting these tracks live haha. Or to put it more succinctly, we try to be as brutal as the music without being too flashy and we take no prisoners haha
If the EP is anything to go by, then it’s a full-on thrash assault. Do you use a different set up live with Besieged than you do with Benediction?
Well with Benediction we pretty much always fly in for gigs so I don’t get to take all of my own gear but with Besieged I can use all my own stuff so I guess it’s slightly different in that respect but I play with the same amount of toms and cymbals with both bands.
I guess with bigger bands it’s always the way, using the gear that’s provided and hoping for the best outcome on the night. It must be relaxing playing on your own gear. Are there any labels interested in Besieged, or are you releasing all your material yourself?
So far we’ve been doing everything ourselves. For instance, Jez recorded, mixed and mastered the EP at his home studio. Perhaps in the future, we’ll look into getting some label backing but for now, it’s just us.
I’m sure there will be a label that will snap you up soon. So what’s next for Besieged?
We’ve already got an album’s worth of songs written, they’ve just got to be worked on as a band a little more to get them exactly how we want them. Once we’ve done that we’ll get them recorded. So yeah there’ll be some more Besieged material at some point in the not too distant future.
That sounds very promising. If the new material is anything like the Aggressor EP, then mark me down for a review! The way the tracks on the EP are orchestrated with such creative brutality, really left me wanting more after the final note faded. Any tours lined up, or are you just playing sporadic shows at the moment?
We’ve got no tours planned at the moment as a couple of us have prior commitments but there are 1 or 2 things in the pipeline for next year.
Good to hear that. Does touring with Benediction break up the momentum when in the writing process, or can you flick the switch from one band to another?
As I said Jez & Barney do the main writing for Besieged so by the time I hear the songs they’re already in pretty good shape and just need minimal input from me cos those guys know what they’re doing and write some excellent stuff. Benediction has been on a bit of a hiatus this year so it has afforded me a little more time to put into Besieged though.
Sounds like a dream job. Thanks for taking time out to have a chat with me. I wish you all the best in the future for Besieged. I’ll be waiting impatiently for the new album.
Excellent. Thanks very much!