Tuesday 12 March 2013

Interview time with Tom Martin of Lich King

The Lich King is the titular antagonist of World of Warcraft: Wrath of the Lich King. Sadly he wasn't available for an interview so I had to settle for the five piece thrash band out of Greenfield, Massachusetts. Much to many a listeners surprise, the band is not name after World of Warcraft and sadly will be haunted by that game for a very long time.

Lich King are one of many bands to bring back the glorious sound of 80's thrash metal, keeping their own distinct style without sounding like a blatant rip off. Tom Martin the vocalist took some time out of his day to sit down and answer some questions. Below we learn that he is an artist, likes to joke around, loves to shame haters and is an all around normal dude, check it out!

While you check out the interview stream 'Born of the Bomb' their best album to date in its entirety.

1. Who are you?
Tom. Hiya.

2. Where are you from?
Amherst, MA

3. What role do you play in Lich King? Asides from the band what else do you like to do?
I do vocals, songwriting, art, promotion. Outside of the band I do things that are of interest to me.

4. Why did you choose this lifestyle, what is the attraction to it?
Nothing about this is a lifestyle for me. I like the music, I make the music. I don't follow a "metal culture," and the only typically metal behavioral stuff I've adopted is going to and playing shows. Everything else is just me being a normal dude.

5. I know you aren't named after World of Warcraft, but many people make that assumption. How do you cope with this?
Mostly by complaining amongst each other. Screaming at the person in question isn't really going to turn things in our favor, but that two things called "lich king" can't possibly exist without us having ripped off WoW is a soul-crushing if not unfair assumption we have to live with.

6. What in fact is the "Lich King". What is the story behind the name?
A long time ago I played D&D, and I thought of a lich king, which would be an undead wizard who claims a throne. It seemed like a completely badass villain for a game and I jokingly said to a friend with a band that I was going to name my band that. Looking back, it's odd that his band is long gone and my name for a band that I joked about is a very real thing.

7. Can you briefly explain what Thrash metal is? What sets the 80's apart from present day and where does Lich King fit in?
This is like three questions in one, you're really milking this you big jerk. Thrash metal is metal that- to me, when done correctly- sounds like someone sprinting downhill and only maintaining just enough control to keep from falling down. It's the most musical expression of anxiety, aggression and desperation. I'd like to say the 80s are separated by time alone, but honestly, a good point was made on Thrash Unlimited and it was that thrash artists then were inspired by NWOBHM and were trying to outdo each other in brutality. Now that the boundaries of brutality are way beyond thrash, we're keeping within a framework where we know exactly where things can go and the surprise isn't really present. We fit there. Comfortably.

8. You re-did 9 songs in oldschool 8-bit style for 'Super Retro Thrash' which is surprisingly catchy. Was this project well received? What made you decide to create something so different?
This project wasn't well received, nor should it have been- it wasn't supposed to be a thing, we made it as something to have on April Fools' Day 2011, then Stormspell offered to put it out on CD. Someone listed it as a full-length on Metal-Archives. It's really not, it's just a goofy collection of 8-bit songs I did in my spare time because I was bored. No one's supposed to take it seriously. Not that I don't appreciate your enjoyment of it, sir!

9. Your social interaction with fans and haters alike is something that most bands neglect. How important is it to converse with fans and how do you handle the haters?
Is it? I guess I'm not up on how much other bands talk to fans and haters. I know a lot of them don't deal with haters, but haters are more fun to deal with than fans. A fan will say I like you, you're great, and you say thank you. A hater will say something insulting and if you're good, you can pants them in front of the entire internet with their own words. It's like a little brainteaser, a bit of sarcastic sudoku in your day. It's important to converse with fans and let them know you see what they say, NOT talk down to them (unless they deserve it), and engage them in a conversation. I couldn't tell you why, but it is.

10. Vio-lence, Exodus, Slayer, these are just a couple of bands you have covered. What other
The Lich King Mascot
bands inspire you to play and do you think thrash would even exist without the 'big' names of the 80s?

I think it'd exist, sure, but it'd have about the same impact as tibetan throat-singing instead of its current level, which is about the same impact as bagpipe music. It's still not much, but it's something. Sepultura, Mass Extinction, SOD, Overkill are all influences.

11. Megadeth, Motorhead, Dio, Iron Maiden, what do they all have in common? Mascots. How important do you think the heavy metal mascot is? also what was the design process behind yours?
A metal mascot isn't important at all UNLESS you're into branding and marketing. A mascot does the same thing for you that a logo and album art do- it's not vital to your craft at all, but it helps the listener connect with your mythology and mental rhythm. It's the toy in the Cracker Jack box.

12. At the moment I am listening to 'Born of the Bomb' which is by far your best album to date. How has Lich King progressed and matured over the years?
Thanks mister. Well, we took on multiple members in 2009, that was a big step. The members got better and now we've got actual guitar solos, which is nice. We also started taking on songwriting that was more varied than what we were doing before, which was very much in the classic thrash mold. Now we're branching out ever so little into... I dunno, stuff that's not entirely within the blueprint for thrash. Our song Wage Slave has a long section that I felt was a big departure from the sound we've been after, but it also felt very us.

13. What do you think is your best album or the defining song that tells the world 'This is Lich King'?
Uhh... that would probably be Attack Of The Wrath Of The War Of The Death Of The Strike Of The Sword Of The Blood Of The Beast. It was the first time I really hit upon what would be our sound, and I think it's one of the best overall examples of what we do. We Came To Conquer is a close second though.

14. You are embarking on a rather extensive tour at the end of March, care to share your thoughts on it?
I'm looking forward to touring. I'm not looking forward to the shows nearly as much as I am the traveling. I like traveling through the south, seeing strange signs, meeting strange people, having strange adventures. Touring is a collection of adventures holding hands. You jump from one to the next. It's pretty cool that way.

15. Has there been a moment where you guys thought to yourself, "Wow I can't believe we have made it this far!"
More like "holy shit, I can't believe this nonsense has gotten as far as it has," but that translates to the same thing. I never set out to do this as an actual thing, this was always just an on-the-side hobby for me that happened to succeed despite my not really caring about success and at no point have I seriously thought another big milestone was attainable. It just seems to happen. It's very odd.

16. What else do you guys have planned for 2013?
Ummm... another tour or two that we're looking into. Gonna start writing for album 5. Hopefully we're going to put a certain cover on that I'm dying to do.

I don't want to take up too much of your time so before we finish I have two questions I ask of everyone, what are your thoughts on music piracy? Does it hurt or benefit the artist? and if you could only listen to 3 albums for the rest of time, which 3 would you choose?
It hurts the artist. I know everyone blah blahs the pirates like they're staunch defenders of freedom, this is the way it is and we should all get used to it, bands should look into new ways of monetizing their presence, but at the end of the day you're rationalizing stealing the work of others. They made something and are selling it for money, and when you decide to go against their wishes of paying for their creation, you're stealing work DESPITE whatever Robin Hood shit you tell yourself so you can sleep at night. I see so many of those shithead downloading sites boast that they actually help the bands, they're providing this wonderful free exposure and hey, we provide a facebook link to the band in the download so you can like the band. One downloading site actually said that to me like that explains away that they're giving away something working people worked hard to create. It's abominable.

If I had to listen to 3 albums for the rest of time... .... ... the Conan The Barbarian soundtrack, Black Sabbath, and Born Of The Bomb (because I'd hate to start forgetting our own stuff).

Big thanks for giving me the time, I hope you enjoyed answering the questions and well, any last words to your fans?

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