Solitary | The Lockdown Interview:
Answers: Royston Miller – drums, Andy Mellor – guitar, Rich Sherrington – vocals & guitar & Gaz Harrop – bass
So, how is ‘lockdown’ treating you?
Royston:It’s not too bad, I’m lucky enough to be able to get outside as we have a decent sized garden so I’ve been busy trimming hedges and cutting grass.
Andy: It’s no different from any other day really for me; I’m not much of an outdoor fellow so just doing my normal routine of guitar, gaming and TV. Only thing that has changed is I can’t go to the gym.
Rich: It’s not too bad, there’s always something needs painting or fixing.
Gaz: It’s all good, but the house gets pretty boring.
Are you still working?
Royston: Thankfully yes. I’m still on my usual 4 on 4 off shift pattern so I’m getting out the house at least.
Andy: Yes, I work at a supermarket so it’s business as usual, albeit a little crazier and giving people a wide berth more than usual.
Rich: Yes doing very long days at the moment, setting up home-working for all the staff. I seem to constantly be on calls or in Microsoft Teams meetings which isn’t much fun.
Gaz: Yes, I’m NHS by day, working on the research and education side. My whole office set up has been sent to my home, so I’m still working 9-5 every day and busier than ever as you can imagine.
What’s your daily routine look like at the moment?
Royston: If I’m on shift I’m generally up at 05:30 and not home until 19:30 so when I’m not at work it’s nice to do things at my own pace.
Andy: Same as normal; up at 5:00am, go to work, come home, house chores, practice or gaming and watch some TV with the Mrs.
Rich: Get up, walk the dogs, start work at around 8:30 until roughly 6:30, then go out in the evening with the kids for a walk with the dogs.
Gaz: My routine is no different other than I don’t walk to work in the mornings.
Are you able to keep up with individual practicing? What is your practice routine?
Royston: No, I haven’t even got a pair of sticks in the house!
Andy: I’ll run through a few of the more challenging songs and solos so I can remember them and practice a few classic metal solos and riffs. I don’t really have a routine it’s more if I feel I want to play I’ll pick up my guitar or listen to something that might inspire me to play. I suppose I should do something more constructive and learn what the notes on a guitar are, or scales and shit.
Rich: Yeah if I have time I try to play through the set a couple of times a week at least. I just go through the songs on my guitar I don’t plug it in or play along with the tracks I really have to force myself to do it.
Gaz: Yes, if anything there’s more time to practice. I have my Helix set up through my computer and stereo so I can play along to anything, from the band’s latest album to anything I feel like playing along with on you tube.
Any tips for fellow isolated musicians?
Royston: Not really…stay safe I guess.
Andy: Don’t be in a band….it doesn’t pay very well.
Rich: Nope I’m hardly best placed to give anyone any musically advice.
Gaz: Well I’m modding my guitars/basses, a good project to finally have gotten round to – maybe it’s time to learn some theory.
Has the band been forced to make any cancellations or changes to release schedules?
Royston: Not yet and hopefully we won’t have to as we’ve nothing planned until late September.
Gaz: We were in the process of planning our year when this hit so I’d say it’s more everything on hold than cancellations.
With gigs becoming a distant memory at the moment, What’s the best you can ever remember playing – and witnessing?
Royston: Playing Bloodstock was special – and the last time we played live. As for witnessed…there’s so many, but seeing Slayer do Reign In Blood in full at the Astoria in 2003 was special.
Andy: I can’t really remember a specific gig where we played ‘the best’. These days I try to just enjoy it and have fun. As for gigs I have seen, there have been so many over the years I couldn’t even pick one. Recently I enjoyed watching Lynyrd Skynryd and Act of Defiance a couple of years ago as I was stood right in front of Chris Broderick who is a phenomenal player.
Rich: I’m not sure there’s been so many, but Bloodstock this year was really special. Witnessed? I’d say Clash of the Titans in 1990 – takes some beating as all those bands were at their peak then.
Gaz: Playing Bloodstock last year was very special, as was getting over to the Czech Republic to play summer festivals. Best I have ever witnessed? Possibly At The Gates when I saw them reform and perform the entire Slaughter of the Soul album in Germany, incredible.
What’s the latest news from the band?
Royston: We’ve just finished our new album so hopefully we can have that out for when we’re back playing live in September.
Andy: Things are happening behind the scenes but there’s nothing concrete as yet, our new album is finished so that should be out later this year.
Gaz: There’s new music waiting – anything else would be telling!
Anything that people should be checking out at the moment?
Royston: The news I guess.
Andy: Lots of porn!
Rich: There’s some really good playlists on Apple music and Spotify which Nath out of Shrapnel has been putting together – just search for Face Melting Thrash!
Have you been able to use this time to work on new material?
Andy: I’ve been recording a few bits here and there as ideas for possible Solitary stuff.
Rich: Not for me. The last 12 months have been pretty intense for us having to write and record a new album whilst still gigging, so I’m not even thinking about it yet.
Gaz: I’m always working on a few things, we’ll see if any of it makes it onto a Solitary record in the future.
What have you been reading and watching to keep yourselves sane?
Royston: I’ve been reading Ant Middleton’s First Man In when I’ve had the chance. Can’t say I really watch anything series wise… re-runs of boxing and plenty of gigs on YouTube. Probably drives the missus mad.
Andy: Don’t really do any reading. I’ve been watching a few Anime series S.A.O., Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba… TV series such as Brooklyn Nine Nine, Phoenix Nights, Supernatural and Law and Order SVU… a few low budget horror films for a virtual film night with friends like LLamageddon and Terror at Bloodfart Lake.
Rich: I read all the time on the kindle, but I couldn’t tell you the names of any books or authors – I just pick the crime books up for a couple of quid. I’ve been watching Brassic, that’s been hilarious.
Gaz: I’ve been reading Fingerprints of the Gods and Magicians of the Gods, two very important books by Graham Hancock discussing the origins of civilization and the world’s ancient monuments. TV wise though I’ve been catching up on some Anime, the new Baki series on Netflix is fun and I finally got round to watching One Punch Man – brilliant and hilarious.
What are you listening to at the moment? Your Top isolation albums?
Royston: I’ve had the new God Dethroned album in the car for the drive to work…
1. God Dethroned – Illuminati
2. Therapy? – Greatest Hits (The Baby Road Sessions)
3. Witchery – I Am Legion
4. Body Count – Carnivore
5. Slayer- The Repentless Killogy
Andy: Testament, Metallica, Queensryche, Nevermore, Mors Subita and some ZZ Top…
1. Dead Heart In A Dead World – Nevermore
2. …And Justice For All – Metallica
3. Appetite For Destruction – GNR
4. Rust In Peace – Megadeth
5. Slave to the Sword – Exmortus
Rich: I listen to loads of stuff… I’ve given the Testament album a good go and there’s one or two I like off it, but it’s really background music when I’m working…
1. The Isolation Game – Disharmonia Mundi
2. Empire – Queensryche
3. The Ride Majestic – Soilwork
4. The Early Years – Def Leppard
5. Mask Of All Misery – Meshiaak
Gaz: The last Baroness album – I had been struggling with the awful production but the song writing is just so good that I had to give it another chance.
And what are your Top 10 albums of all time? The greats that have shaped you and never get old…
1. Slayer – Reign In Blood (all of us – 100% Solitary approved)
2. Testament – The Gathering (Rich, Gaz, Royston)
3. Metallica – Master Of Puppets (Gaz, Andy)
4. Guns N Roses- Appetite for Destruction (Royston, Andy)
5. Machine Head – Burn My Eyes (Gaz, Royston, Rich)
6. At the Gates – Slaughter Of The Soul (Gaz, Rich)
7. Metallica – …And Justice For All (Andy, Royston, Rich)
8. Testament – The New Order (Andy, Rich)
9. Queensryche – Operation Mindcrime (Rich, Andy)
10. Stampin’ Ground – A New Darkness Upon Us (Royston, Rich)
What’s the first thing you’ll be doing when lockdown ends?
Andy: Hopefully rehearsing and recording a video for one of the new songs.
Gaz: Pub and a gig.
What plans do you have for the band when you’re free to get working again?
Royston: Before all this kicked off we were seeing what new songs would work best in the set, so we’ll just pick up where we left off. We’re also looking at doing a video for at least one of the new tracks.
Andy: We will be working on a revised set list to incorporate tracks off the new album. We’re out playing live again from September onwards, so hopefully things may have returned to some kind of semblance of normality by then.
Gaz: Get out there and bring the metal to the people!
A message for your fans, followers and friends at this difficult time…
Royston: Stay safe and stay metal. We’ll hopefully see you in September.
Andy: Behave and stay at home. You’ll never have an opportunity like this ever again to do all the things you’ve been meaning to do for years. Make sure that you and everyone around you is safe and still able to thrash forever.
Gaz: Stay safe everybody.