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    Posted: 24 Mar 2016 at 3:17am

Books should not be judged by their covers, and neither should Auckland band Graymalkin. From the outside, they would seem like a nice bunch of lads. The band covered "Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic" for a Japanese tribute to The Police, one of them once played with legendary New Zealand alternative band The Chills, and even the band name seems like it is inspired by Lord Of The Rings. In theory, Graymalkin should probably be an alternative pop band with a liking for stories about wizards and goblins. Reality though, is far more disturbing.


Graymalkin have been tearing up the New Zealand underground metal scene with their politically charged grindcore ferocity, spitting forth a furious yet focused sound both live and in the studio. The band’s most recent release “Revenge On Mankind” has proved their uncompromising reputation is well deserved. So who are this band? MMA’s Vim Fuego investigated and spoke with vocalist Gareth Craze.


Vim Fuego: So where do Graymalkin come from? Where do you call home? How long have you been together, and how did you get together? What other bands, if any, have you been in/are in?


Gareth Craze: All of us are based in the greater Auckland area - Mike, Phil Kusabs (bass) and Phil Osborne all reside in the central-eastern suburbs and I'm the bands lone West Aucklander. Phil Osbourne and Mike started Graymalkin as an experimental two-piece recording project sometime in 1999 and did a couple of demos together with that format; playing more or less straight up Hemdale style dirty gore-grind. I joined the band in May 2002 having met Michael at university where we were both studying at the time. Phil Kusabs joined around April 2003, replacing our old bass player Joe who still plays with Phil Osbourne in Dawn of Azazel. Mike also plays drums for Grenade Kills Three. Phil Kusabs has been in numerous bands in the past - he's played with Spine, Vext, Canis - even an overseas tour with The Chills at one point! I've been in a couple of previous bands that aren't really worth mentioning!


Vim Fuego: How would you describe your sound? Who/what have been your major influences? What sets Graymalkin apart from other bands?


Gareth Craze: The stuff on 'Revenge On Mankind' was a bit more grindcore influenced I guess; a bit more straight up. Our newer material has moved in a more technical and brutal death metal direction while still retaining a lot of the groove and grind that's on 'Revenge on Mankind'. Influence-wise, we're all pretty big on Suffocation, Immolation, Morbid Angel, Nile, Deeds of Flesh. Phil Kusabs is right into black metal, Phil Osbourne and Mike are gore-grind fans from way back, I'm really into Dying Fetus and Cryptopsy plus a lot of stoner rock; and we all love a bit of good old fashioned thrash! I'd be hard-pressed to name a single factor that sets us apart from the rest, but certainly we have a degree of groove in our sound which seems to rub off on a lot of people, especially since it's within such an utterly brutal context.


Vim Fuego: How has "Revenge On Mankind" been received? Is it selling well?


Gareth Craze: Yeah, the CD has been very well received. Looking back there's a few things I think we could've done differently in terms of production, and we probably should've released it a little earlier than we did. But for the most part we're very positive about the feedback we've received and the fact that we've almost sold out of copies.


Vim Fuego: How did you end up recording "Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic" for a Japanese label? Do you have a following over there?


Gareth Craze: Haha, well we'll wait and see! I correspond over the internet with this guy Yoshihiro who runs a very small metal label and ‘zine out of Yokohama called Blood Red. Apparently in Japan there's this bizarre little trend of extreme metal acts doing pisstake covers of old retro songs. When he mentioned he was putting out an international compilation of these covers we were more than enthused about taking part and that's where the Police cover came from. The compilation is due out in 2004, so we'll wait and see how the Japanese hordes dig it!


Vim Fuego: When you write as a band, does one person do most of the music and lyrics, or is it a shared effort?


Gareth Craze: I write all of the lyrics and Michael writes all the music, though sometimes we'll be jamming a new song and one of the other guys will make a suggestion which sticks. The crafting of the songs and the development of them together as a unit is most definitely a band effort.


Vim Fuego: Where does your lyrical inspiration come from? Politics and politicians seem to be a target. Is there any particular reason for targeting them and not writing, say, straight gore lyrics, which often accompany extreme metal? Do you hold any strong political opinions?


Gareth Craze: I hold very strong political opinions on certain subjects and that has stemmed from my libertarian ideology; which is based around a minimalist government that has a limited sphere of influence and control in society, and is pro-capitalist, anti-tax, anti-treaty, anti-politician, anti-welfare, pro-science and pro-individualism but is NOT anarchistic or pro-anarchy in any respect. My lyrics reject all notions of enshrined collectivism, be they under the guise of conservatism, socialism or so-called social democracy etc etc - in each case they are systems which require institutionalised self-sacrifice and which binds an individual’s life and livelihood to the whim of a state which merely assigns them an IRD (Inland Revenue Department) number at birth; and I think that's terribly wrong.


Having said that, the lyrics aren't solely derived from politics - a lot of it is inspired by my disdain for the sheer mediocrity of the culture in New Zealand, and I draw a number of parallels between the broader socio-political culture in this country and the walks of life which I deem to help perpetuate it - everyone from environmentalists to boy-racers; moral reform lobbyists to dance bunnies. Without sounding clichéd, I think New Zealand suffers terribly from a herd mentality and the ramifications of it are that those that wish to stand tall and take control of their life and property are cut down to size at every step; be it through tax, social ridicule and castration. My lyrics are a direct riposte to the conformist, mediocrity-worshipping nature of life in New Zealand and those that either allow themselves to or want to be a part of it. As for the gory stuff; a good deal of what I write is violent in nature, be that express of metaphorical, but I try to avoid writing straight-out horror story stuff as it doesn't tie in with the broader Graymalkin concept, at least not these days.


Vim Fuego: How is the New Zealand Metal scene looking from your point of view? How well are you guys received live? With 8 Foot Sativa hitting the charts, and what seems like a swell of metal coming from the underground, is real Metal going to break out in New Zealand? What bands should we be watching out for?


Gareth Craze: I think the underground metal scene in New Zealand, or at least in Auckland, is in a fantastic state right now. Shows are becoming more and more regular, and the turnouts seem to be at a steady level of high attendance, with a lot more younger faces popping up which I think can only be a positive thing. The bands that make up the New Zealand extreme metal scene are in a totally different boat to the likes of 8 Foot Sativa, who I think play a much more digestible style of metal as far as the broader New Zealand musical palate goes, hence their success. I think the problem with a lot of people my age in Auckland is that they gave up on metal once they left high school; once it became "cooler" to hang out in dance clubs and cafes, and thus their interest in metal only goes as far as bands that play the more accessible Pantera or Metallica style of metal. Many probably wouldn't even give death metal or grindcore or whatever the time of day, which is sad. That said, the following the extreme scene does have in New Zealand is small but dedicated and passionate and I think it's only gonna get better with time.


Other bands to watch out for are Forced To Submit, who I cannot say enough good things about, they're absolutely mind-blowing, Skuldom, Backyard Burial and Dracoaerius from Wellington, Ulcerate from Hamilton, Corpsefeast from Napier, Meatyard and Aphelon from Christchurch, and of course Dawn of Azazel who are truly taking NZ extreme metal to the world with their recent 7-inch and their upcoming full-length, which is going to be absolutely killer!


Vim Fuego: What are your views on the internet /computers/ filesharing/ piracy/ trading? Some claim it is harming small bands, while others think of it as a useful tool. Graymalkin have a professional looking Internet site. How much help is it in promoting the band? Does trading and the like hurt the band, or is it still helpful as a promotional tool, like tape trading was through the 1980s?


Gareth Craze: Yeah the internet site has brought us a bit of exposure I guess. It'll probably be of more use as we develop our reputation, but certainly I think the internet is a great medium for band promotion. The whole file-sharing thing hasn't affected us as yet so I don't have any problems with it. I can see how it would be damaging to bigger local artists that rely on record sales to pay the bills and all, but for us and I suppose most local extreme acts it can only be a good thing as it creates exposure and garners interest in an accessible medium that more and more people are using every day. I'm all for trading, and would rather have a hundred or more people with burnt copies of our CD than not having a copy at all.



Vim Fuego: So what’s next for Graymalkin. Are you planning new recordings, tours, more tracks for compilations, Spinal Tap-style free form jazz side projects?


Gareth Craze: Hahaha, no Spinal Tap stuff just yet - wait for our home video! Seriously though, we'll probably look at a full length release some time in the reasonably near future and we're almost certainly going to be doing a reasonably large scale NZ tour. Until then, thanks for the interview, and to all who are reading this, thanks for your support and we hope to keep seeing you at our shows.

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote UMUR Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 24 Mar 2016 at 4:22am
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