Xerath, formed in 2007, is the collective force of guitarist Owain Williams, vocalist Richard Thomson, drummer Michael Pitman, and bassist Christopher Clark. A brilliantly unique concoction of Orchestral Extreme-Metal, their symphonic samples combined with their epic song structures have gained considerable appreciation world-wide, and some will say that this is potentially the most exciting period for their fans as they expectantly await the hugely anticipated third album release following their highly-appraised 1st and 2nd. Currently signed to Candelight Records, they have had the extreme pleasure of performing with “Textures, Devin Townsend, Ihsahn, Vader, Decapitated, Gojira, Abigail Williams, Anaal Nathrakh, Testament, Sylosis…” and many, many more.
As for Chris, well, he’ll certainly be able to tell you more about himself then I ever could…
“My name is Chris Clark and I am 27 years old. I started bass when I was about 11, when my dad made me one. I knew some of the guys at Candlelight Records and they knew that my previous band had become inactive so they passed my details onto Xerath when the position became available.”
“When they first got in touch they forwarded some tracks and tabs. So I got learning and went for a rehearsal and that was it!”
Listening to Xerath it’s hard for you not to pick up on Christopher‘s prominent bass, and fans have notably complimented his talents in particular. But just who taught him how to play in the first place?
“I originally was self taught for a few years then went onto having private lessons with a guitarist in Shrewsbury called Mark Williams. I saw him for a few years but then there wasn’t that much I could learn from him towards the end because he specialised in guitar. So at about 15 I started playing with lots of bands and started learning that way. A few years later I studied GCSE and A Level music and went back and finished my grades with a bass tutor from Shrewsbury called Clive Rainbow.”
The first thing surely on any fans mind is how the band has managed with Owain‘s departure in mid-May, particularly over the Summer?
“Owain‘s departure was a very amicable decision, there wasn’t any bad feelings or anything. We are still really good friends.”
“We only had a couple of festival shows this summer, as we have been writing a lot of material for the next record. So Owain was cool to do the shows until we had a replacement guitarist.”
Chris admittedly recognised quite how quiet Xerath has been in consideration to the amount of shows over the Summer, but this year how have the shows compared to previous years? And what are his personal highlights from the festivals?…
“The summer is always a key period for a bands festival cycle. We only played a few festivals this year. We played UK Tech Metal Fest and Bloodstock. We are going to play Euroblast at the end of next month too.”
“But don’t worry… We are planning to be a lot more busy next year!”
“Bloodstock was probably a personal highlight for me this year. It’s always a good place to catch up with a lot of friends, so there’s the social side which is always awesome and the show itself was insane as well! We had circle pits and wall of death’s…”
“…But the best thing I heard was about a guy we know, who was doing roley poleys around the circle pit… Mental!” (laughs)
He mentioned a desire for more shows next year, could this potentially mean that there’ll be a new Xerath release to promote?
“Yes. There will definitely be another release next year.”
I wanted to get an understanding into the songwriting process, just where does the influence come from to get the ball rolling? What bands influence their inspiration when they’re creating new music?
“Usually songs will start with riffs and ideas will get bounced about on a shared dropbox folder. Most of the tunes are written by Mike and Rich (drummer and vocalist) who are both incredible multi-instrumentalists in their own right. But we all go over the tunes and work out what’s going to work and what actually isn’t physically possible to play.”
“Influence wise… I guess there would be a lot of bands like Planet X, Steve Vai, On The Virg, Pantera, Devin Townsend… But I think that it’s important to get inspiration from music which excites you, but to try and transfer that to your music and not copy theirs which can be hard.”
So how does Chris think that the new album will build upon the successes of the previous two: will there be any radical change to the themes of their music, or will they maintain the sound that they’ve stuck to so far – but bettered?
“All of the music is already written. I would say it’s pretty much exactly that. A continued yet more refined idea that we have previously explored. I’d say it’s more heavy, more symphonic and more groovy.”
…And that’s certainly what Xerath fans will be happy to hear. For some, nothing is more frustrating then when their favourite band takes a risky new direction with their sound and abandons the ideology that made them into what they are today. Surely the next question had to be asked: when is the album expected to drop? Has the band got any songs laid down already?
“The exact release date isn’t something we have sorted yet. We have about 14 songs ready and a studio booked to record the drums. So I guess everything else will get arranged as the recording progresses.”
So it looks like we’ll need to keep an eye out for any band announcements in the near future. Patience can be a restless virtue at times…
The last question that I had to ask is if Chris had any particularly funny stories from his times touring?
“(Laughs) I do have a few…”
“I’m not going to name names, but there was once a trip back straight after a boozy gig in Dublin which lead to certain members of certain bands getting very drunk on the ferry and confusing real life with level 7 from Goldeneye on the boat… Exploring areas people aren’t supposed to go i.e. the helideck/ engine room etc and which ended up having stomach pumps.”
Euroblast Festival 2013 is probably the best opportunity that you’ll get to witness Xerath‘s incredibly refined sounds first hand, if you by any chance happen to live near Cologne, Germany… But for more gig announcements, general news regarding the band and to find out more about Xerath, check out their webpage & Facebook on the links given below: