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Interviews : “It was a long process doing this album” – An interview with Lord Tim (LORD)

By on August 19, 2019

Australian metal legends LORD have returned with their new album Fallen Idols. I caught up with Lord Tim to chat about the process of making the album, the way that the band works and Australian metal in general.

Fallen Idols has clearly been a mammoth effort for the entire band. When asked what he was most excited to share with his fans, Lord Tim was candid: ‘That it’s out, I’m sick of listening to it! [laughs] I just want the damn thing out the door! It was a long process doing this album; it was a very difficult recording in a lot of ways but I’m just happy to get it out.’ Lord Tim then related the idea behind the new album: ‘What we were trying to channel was the nostalgia aspect of growing up listening to all different sorts of rock and metal and it just being the stuff that was the story of your life. It didn’t kind of matter if one thing was thrash or… melodic metal, or prog or whatever it was; it was all just stuff that we kind of enjoyed and it became almost like the soundtrack to us growing up. It’s kind of nice to get that out there and have people come along for the ride and enjoy the story of that rather than just being yet another album.’

Mixing genre comprised a core element of LORD’s goal with this album. Fallen Idol displays a great range of influences and depth beyond the conventional aspects of power metal, the genre that LORD is typically classified in. ‘It’s business as usual really… there’s always been like this big heavy/thrash/extreme metal thing always going through what we’ve been doing for the last 20 years… I think more the production has brought things out more. We put the focus on – we love extreme metal – so we put the focus back on to a lot of the extreme stuff that we love as well as the light stuff as well’. The production style is quite bass-heavy, a deliberate choice by Lord Tim who also handles the band’s production: ‘The loudness wars has always been a bit of a problem for us to try and compete with a lot of overseas masters and everything like that.

You look at Metallica for instance, Death Magnetic was just slammed to hell! With this one, we just went “You know what, we don’t care anymore, the loudness wars are kind of settling down a bit and we’re kind of making this first for ourselves.” So, it’s a little bit quieter but by the same token because it’s a little bit quieter we have a lot more leeway, so we can put a bit more bass into it, a bit more clarity. I think that’s really benefited the production quite a lot, especially for the heavier songs.’ Beyond a choice of production style, the mix of the genre on Fallen Idols is based heavily in the personal history of the band. Lord Tim explains: ‘For me in particular, and I don’t mean to say that I’m old, but I’m fuckin’ old [laughs]. I grew up in the 80s this was like before everything got really kind of hyper-segregated with all the different subgenres… When we were growing up a lot of this stuff didn’t exist yet or we just didn’t care. We knew what metal was, it was ‘that’ sound, so we knew what that was. For me, just listening to a wide variety of styles… Somebody would put on Judas Priest and then the next thing you know there’s Kreator, then there’s Iron Maiden, then there’s Motley Crue… that’s just how it was. For Mark [Furtner, guitars] and Andy [Dowling, bass] I think, because they grew up in the era a bit later than that, they’ve kind of connected in a way where they may not necessarily be exposed to it but they were sort of open to it… It’s worked out really, really well where we’re sort of just channelling stuff that we dig.’

The organic process of the band producing music has also been a core element of how Fallen Idols came about. ‘We’re pretty much all self-sufficient in almost every way now… I do production, mastering, artwork layouts and all that sort of business, usually a lot of the video clips as well… I’m generally the guy flying the ship, as it were, so if Mark, for instance, comes to me with a strong idea, it normally passes through me towards the end of the process just to make sure it’s going to fit int the style we’re going to do… somehow that all still sounds like LORD. That’s mostly because there’s kind of one guy focusing that to what we do, and that’s my job. Obviously, if it wasn’t for the great songs that the other guys were writing in the first place, I’d have no job to do but, yeah, it’s really kind of up to me. We don’t really dictate that the writing be in any particular way as such, but it just kind of ends up sounding like us because we have a vision of what we want to overall product to sound like.’ However, this breadth of style comes with some complications: ‘From a marketing point of view… [record labels are] very specific when they think about how they want to promote you… when we were signed to LMP, we were a power metal band. Now, we were nothing of the sort! We do power metal songs, but we’re not a power metal band, and I think that’s done us damage over the years where people kind of expect us to just play the first Helloween album over and over again, which we don’t. We do melodic rock, we do extreme, we do thrash, we do some power and all that kind of business, it’s great. But when you sign to these particular labels, they’ve got a very specific way that they want to market you. I think a lot of bands get caught up in the fact that they need to appeal to a certain demographic and get pushed in that direction by their label to help market it. That one thing might be fucking brilliant, but it just seems… I think I’d get bored if I had to do that.’

When discussing Australian metal, the broad genre mixes that exist in our metal scene was our first topic: ‘It’s fucking great! I think there’s nothing better than turning up to a mixed bill. You go to see a metal night or something and there’ll be a thrash band, there’ll be a black band, a melodic rock band or whatever, all put together on this one bill. That would be like suicide if you went to a local gig in some places around the world but here, I think everyone just digs it. I think it’s because the scene is a little bit smaller and you know, we are struggling to fill it up with good quality bands, but I reckon that’s worked to our advantage, to be honest. We’ve got this great variety of music of different styles that we can all enjoy rather than just ‘Oh here’s death metal band #5′ and getting bored with the sound by the time you go home.’ For Lord Tim, other things also characterise the sound of Australian metal: ‘I think as a general thing overall there’s a bit of a harder, grittier edge to Australian metal that you don’t find, especially in Europe. You might find heavier bands over there, but I think there’s just this dirtiness that the Australian scene has got that even finds its way into the melodic bands that I think is… a bit more immediate, I think, it’s a bit more exciting than a lot of places around the world. I think people get a little too caught up on making things sound professional and slick and they miss that almost unpredictable, almost ‘not-quite-nailing-it’ kind of job that the Australian bands do. I think it adds a real vibrancy to what Australian bands do.’ This, in turn, affects the crowds in Australian versus the rest of the world. ‘Everyone’s got their own kind of weird thing that they’ve got, and it even changes from city to city; anybody who’s played around Australia knows you get different vibes from different cities. You’ll find, for instance, if you go to Japan, they’re so into you but they’re also absolutely respectful. So, they’ll be going absolutely nuts while you’re playing music and then they’ll stop and wait for you to talk, and then react, and then shut the fuck up again while you talk. So, the first couple of tours we did to Japan was really off-putting. I’d say, ‘How’re you doing?’ and they’re like “Yaaaaay!” and then dead-fucking silence. We’d all be looking at each other on stage going ‘What do we do now?’ and we’d say something else and they’d all get into it and then they’d respectfully listen and then we’d play the next song and they’d go apeshit. And this would go on all night. You’ll find places around the world where there are just crowds that are like, they’re very different but they’re all passionate in their own way, it’s fantastic to see.’

In closing, Lord Tim underscored the investment that each member of the band has in their work and their new album. ‘The thing is, we’re our own production company, we run our own record label, we do everything more-or-less in-house for about 99% of the stuff. We obviously have to send out for T-shirts and that sort of stuff… but for the most part, we do everything underneath the ‘Dominus Records’ label which means we pay for everything. That means every time we put an album out and we do promo, video clips, tours and all that kind of stuff, we dig ourselves into a mighty debt-hole. It is brutal, absolutely fucking brutal. We’re very fortunate that we can get out there and make a bit of money and do presales and get our money back and it’s going really, really well, but we’re certainly not rich by any stretch of the word. Any little bit that will dig us out of this hole so we’re not going to be in crippling debt and miserable for the rest of our lives, the better. We appreciate anyone who has put the time in and ordered and parted with their money to sort of does anything for us, we really do appreciate that.’ With so much effort going toward an excellent final product, it is well worth supporting such an excellent Australian metal band.

About

Ben is a metalhead originally from Sydney, who has now moved to Hobart to pursue a PhD in Australian extreme metal. When not studying, writing about or playing metal, he can be found playing video games, browsing Reddit, knitting, fending off his cat or helping out at his local church.