Interview with Matt Damon, Tian Jing & Willem Dafoe

One of the most surprising films in cinemas at the moment has to be The Great Wall. When you consider that a studio took amazing director Yimou Zhang, who brought the world films like “House Of Flying Daggers” and “Curse Of The Golden Flowers” and then gave the reigns to direct what is pretty much a big action monster film with a cast featuring Oscar winner Matt Damon, the Oscar-nominated Willem Dafoe and Asian actress Tian Jing who has recently made the cross into Hollywood films like Pacific Rim: Uprising and Kong: Skull Island.


With so many haters on the Internet asking how Western characters get caught up in a world of Asian battles Matt Damon is quick to explain. “We have heard about gunpowder, so we go in to try and steal it, but suddenly we arrive, and we see that there is this incredible army. We see that is extraordinary disciplined and they fight in a way that we have never seen before and we get swept up in the defence of the wall. My character was captured and raised in the Army at a very early age, and he knows nothing but war. He has fought for everybody, he doesn’t really fight for a flag he will fight for anybody that pays him, and he has a very cynical view of the world. He is an extremely capable fighter, as is his best friend Tovar (Pedro Pascal). Together they are a two-man wrecking crew. He and Tovar are pretty comfortable using any type of weapon. They have been in thousands of battles together, but William does prefer the bow. He has a bow that he uses, and he is a speed archer so he can fire multiple arrows very quickly basically from anywhere. So he is most comfortable with a bow in his hand. Tovar, his best friend, has two swords that he has collected in his travels and he is most comfortable fighting with a weapon in each hand, so they are pretty versatile fighters, that is what their deal is. When they get to the Wall, they’ve heard of it but never seen it before, but they see that it is above any feat of engineering that they could ever have imagined  and on top of the Wall and protecting the Wall is this army called The Nameless Order, this mythical Chinese Army that essentially lives and dies to defend the Wall. Eventually as they start to see the defence of the wall and they start to understand what is happening and why Tovar remains committed to our original plot to steal the black powder he thinks these people are crazy and they are all going to die so let’s take the gun powder, whereas William  for the first time sees that they may be something bigger than his own personal gain to fight for and he admires them in a way that he can’t even articulate.”


With the hater’s comments put to bed with that explanation, Damon turns to talking about just how impressed he was with the film’s director. “Yimou Zhang is one of the greatest filmmakers on the planet, and I have wanted to work with him for a long time and everything aligned. The stars aligned this time and I finally got a chance to work with him. It has been a real privilege for me and for all the actors, we all talk about that and even the crew members… we were all there for him. He paints on this extremely large canvas, and he does it in such a way that nobody ever has before or can. He uses cover and this sweeping scale of what he does. There are very few people who can do it and do do it.”

Appearing in the movie as Damon’s love interest is Tian Jing who plays Commander Lin Mae, and she is very quick, to sum up, her character. “ She is the Commander of the Army, and she is a woman of many virtues,” Jing explains. “She is strong, brave, reliable, determined and very daring. She has all the talent and wisdom needed to lead the entire Army. As the female General, she is the girl-power in the film which is dominated by male characters – she is the balance in this film. Lin Mae is part of this secret organisation that nobody knows about except for the Emperor. The duty of every soldier is to protect country’s people and to defend the Wall.”

Jing spends part of the movie hanging off the wall as director Yimou Zhang introduces a new form of acrobatic fighting to Hollywood so how hard was it for Jing to prepare for the role? “When I got the call to do this role production sent me to L.A. for training. I spent half a year training and studying including dialogue classes, stunt training, horse riding and physical training. It was a tough but memorable experience to prepare for this role. And then every day on set was like taking more acting classes, so I learned so much working with the director. He is a director that I ahve wanted to work with for so long, so it has been like a dream come true. I think that he is the pride of the Chinese film industry.”

Directors aside what was it like to work with such a talented cast? “It has been a pleasure to work with this cast,” she says. “It was great to work with Matt, Pedro and Willem, but especially Matt because we have a lot of scenes opposite each other. Over the months I learnt so much from him as we worked side-by-side. He is a true professional and a dedicated actor.”


The last piece of the puzzle is award winning actor Willem Dafoe who also loved working on the film. “Ballard is a character who has found himself trapped,” he says explaining his character. “He has been trapped with this military group in China on the Great Wall for twenty-five years. He arrived there with a caravan pretty much to do business, things didn’t work out, and he got stranded there. His colleagues didn’t make themselves as useful as he made himself, he made himself because he is a clever guy. So he’s found a way to survive among this Chinese cultural… this military culture.”

Despite working on big blockbusters previously, films like Spider-Man, Dafoe says he was blown way by the scale of The Great Wall. “They actually rebuilt a part of the wall,” he says wide-eyed. “To scale and study enough to hold a thousand people plus horses. It really was an amazing site to work on. I don’t think I have ever been on a production this grand before… the scale is enormous. The degree of detail is just fantastic and I think what’s nice about that is that it gives you the opportunity to… I guess it frees you up because it is a complete world. SO when you get on the set, there is none of this ‘oh you can’t go over there because that’s not really dressed properly.” You would go into a huge room to knock out a scene, and you could go anywhere. Ultimately it is a beautiful match of Chinese sensibility and Western sensibility, and that was the other really important thing about this film, that we made it in China, it’s a Chinese production with Westerners, and that is very exciting to me.”


The Great Wall is currently showing in cinemas and is reviewed on


Written by David Griffiths


The DIY road is a trusted route for bands without the financial means or at war with record labels and the control they often hold. For Wednesday 13, keeping things in-house has been something that has always worked, and with seven Wednesday 13 records to his name and a dedicated fanbase, Wednesday knows what he’s doing.

The band recently announced they’ve signed with label, Nuclear Blast – a big change that is sure to send them higher. “I’ve been self-releasing stuff for all these years and I can keep doing that,” Wednesday says, “but as the band’s grown and as the shows are getting bigger, I’m starting to grow out of these small venues that I’m playing, and I want to reach a bigger audience and get it to a bigger stage. I know how to tour, but with a label on our side this time they’ve opened up a lot of bigger doors.”

One of those doors is a string of music videos to promote the upcoming record, Condolences, with the first video to be released next month. “It’s for a track called ‘What The Night Brings’ which will be our first single,” Wednesday reveals. “This is something that I made the treatment for and it’s all my ideas for it. It’s definitely gonna be a big make-up for the wait of not having videos all those years.”

The band also welcomed producer, Chris ‘Zeuss’ Harris (Murderdolls, Rob Zombie) on board for their seventh release and wrapped up recording in September last year with a June release date. Wednesday tells us to anticipate a ‘darker’ record. “I think Skeletons [2008 release] is the easiest I can compare it to because at the time it came out, people had heard Transylvania 90210 [2005] and Fang Bang [2006] and those were more kind of fun, kind of rock records, and then Skeletons was definitely a darker route. I don’t know if the fans liked it at first or expected it, but now it’s one of the records that people come out and tell me it’s one of their favourites.” Wednesday says, “Condolences is a really different record to what I’ve released in the past, but it’s also my favourite thing I’ve ever done so I hope the fans embrace it the way I have.

“Every time I do a record I try to do something completely different and not repeat myself. As the band evolves, I try to let that come across in the music, but we always try to pay respect to the past with the lyrics and with the imagery. There’s enough of the old Wednesday 13 there to keep everybody happy. I don’t think that side will ever go away.”

While Condolences features more of a focus on death, with a catalogue of tongue-in-cheek songs playing on horror movies, murder and monsters, the darker, more serious route of death won’t take too much for fans to ease in to. While Wednesday quashes the aspect of a concept record, the songs are from the point of view of a serial killer and a victim. “I read a lot of serial killer books and read all these really disturbing stories,” he says with disgust in his tone. “Over the years, horror movies have become kind of normal and nothing really shocks me in that aspect, so now when I read about true life horror – that is some disturbing things, so I just started writing about it. The title, Condolences is about dying and what happens after that,” Wednesday explains. “It’s my first record I actually talk about those subjects and deal with it, so it’s another side of the Wednesday 13 world.”


There’s no doubt that Wednesday is a fan-centric artist, creating setlists with his fans in mind, right down to the reception of his ‘personal’ songs. “When I listened to music as a kid I didn’t wanna hear people complaining and moaning about their problems, you know? For me, music was an escape,” Wednesday says. “But as I’ve gotten older, there are life things I [do] wanna sing about and I try to determine how it will portray to my fans.”

With that, Wednesday reveals a more personal track we can listen out for: “There’s a new song on the record called ‘Good Riddance’ [about the death of a relationship]. When I was writing it I was like, ‘woah, this is a really different, serious song – how do I relay it with the audiences?’. It’s hard to write personal stuff and I try to stay away from that, but if I do write personal stuff I try to cater it so that the audience can make it about them and not about me.”

Catering to his fans translates to the Undead Unplugged tour in which Wednesday offers the ultimate fan experience – an interactive Q&A session where anything goes. After Wednesday’s ‘southern fried’ country set for Bourbon Crow with former Wednesday 13 bass player Rayen Belchere, Wednesday will be joined by guitarists Roman Surman and Jack Tankersley for the Undead Unplugged experience. The setlist follows the suit of the acoustic record by the same title, which features fan favourites as well as tracks from Wednesday’s shelved projects, Murderdolls and Frankenstein Drag Queens From Planet 13. Having trialled the shows in the UK, and now recently the U.S., Wednesday 13 is heading to Australia in March to give us the same experience.

For a seasoned performer like Wednesday 13, the Undead Unplugged tour shows fans another side of the singer. “It’s the weirdest thing ever. It’s like a nightmare. It’s crazy, but I somehow like it,” he laughs. “It’s really strange, it’s very uncomfortable and very unnatural for me to do the acoustic shows, but somehow I’ve made it work.

“It’s made me a better musician, and I guess a better communicator. But it is scary, it is completely raw – there’s nothing to hide behind. With the full band we have the lights, the amps, the sound, the makeup and all that stuff, so the acoustic show is literally me walking out the way I’m pretty much dressed every day. It’s exposed – like a turtle out of their shell.”

Written by Nikki Russian


Listen to BATTLE BEAST while you read.

“We have kept true to our old themes”, explained Battle Beat vocalist Noora Louhimo of the band’s recently released album Bringer of Pain. “We have a couple of Berserk theme songs in there and then we have this fantasy world and also one from reality so I think we have kept these three main themes in the lyrics but we don’t have the lion fantasy world on this one. We have actually introduced a new one which is created by myself in the song ‘Bringer of Pain’. You will hear more about that story and how it is going to contribute later on in the album cycles but in the song you can hear a glimpse of the theme. It is a theme that I will continue to tell the story of throughout the next couple of albums.”




“I feel like this is fresh Battle Beast material,” she continued. “We have developed our sound and our music. With all of the feedback we have had so far it seems like we have done a pretty good job (laughs). Our first priority is always to do great music and music that we like first of all and then we hope the people like it too.”




Bringer of Pain marks new territory for Battle Beast in that it is their first album without founding member and guitarist/vocalist Anton Kabanen. Often losing a key member of a band proves insurmountable but according to Louhimo the band chose to take the positives out of a negative situation and in the process learn more about themselves and their abilities.




“Of course it was totally different,” she said of the process of writing and recording without Kabanen. “In the previous albums Anton wrote all of the songs and he didn’t want us to participate in any way. This time we got to do it more as a team and some of the songs were co – written and some of the songs were independently written by someone from the band. I think that’s made the album stronger and the whole band stronger. The atmosphere is better in the band and it also comes through with the music and songwriting.”


Louhimo herself is relatively new to the group, having taken over from original singer Nitte Valo when she left the band for family reasons in 2012.


While she agrees that she has always felt welcome as the frontwoman of the group, she also feels that after the release of this her third album at the helm that she has finally made the spot her own.




“I feel like I’ve earned my place and I’ve found my own style of doing things,” she said. “I feel very comfortable now. I feel like I know what I’m doing and this is the right place for me to be as an artist and performer.”

Stepping into the vocalist’s position is perhaps the most challenging assignment in music, with fans having become accustomed to a particular sound of their adopted band, and Louhimo admits that finding the right balance between keeping up with fan expectations and carving her own slice of Battle Beast immortality wasn’t easy at first.


“Of course I took some influences from Nitte as a vocalist,” she concurred, “and she was really helpful with that. When I was listening to her singing… the whole thing was they needed a singer who could do the same stuff as Nitte could do and to my advantage I’ve always been good at imitating sounds so the first thing when I was asked to join the band was I tried to deliver things that Nitte did and hopefully I developed my own style at the same time, combining the heavy metal style of my idols like Rob Halford, Bruce Dickenson, Ronnie James Dio and all these great singers that I have been listening to since I was a teenager and I could put all of these influences to use. Of course you can hear also in my style of singing all of my pop influences as well as blues and rock. I think it is good and I’m really pleased I can combine all the singing styles I have learned over the years with this band.”




As the only female member of a five-piece band, Louhimo says that having a large band and being surrounded by so many personalities is an interesting experience.




“It’s got its good and its bad points,” she laughed. “On one hand it’s great that we have so many talented people putting in their influences but on the other hand we have six different opinions so it can… of course we have fights and that is a normal thing in any family. I see the band as more of a family with a lot of brothers and one sister (laughs).”




This family bond is one of the binding factors of Battle Beast and gives Louhimo faith that the unity within the group can afford them the luxury of a long and sustained career.




“We just be true to ourselves,” she affirmed, “and do things the way that we like to do them. I think that is very important. We don’t try to mould ourselves to please others: I think that is the key rock and roll attitude.”




Written Kris Peters


Nine years after directing the well-received “The Great Debators” legendary actor Denzel Washington decided to once again sit in the director’s chair to bring award-winning theatre production “Fences” to the big screen. The result was a film that received a Best Picture Academy Award nomination. It also saw Washington nominated for Best Leading Actor while it picked up a Best Supporting Actress Oscar for Viola Davis who plays Washington’s embattled wife in the film.


For Washington this was a passion project and it obvious listening to him talk about the film that he fell in love with this story way back in 2010 when he appeared in the play the film is based on on Broadway. He begins by recounting what it was like to meet with the play’s author – the late August Wilson – for the first time. “I spent a lovely day with him. I flew up to Seattle. It rained all day and he just smoked cigarette after cigarette and he was writing… I don’t know who set it up… but he was writing Gem Of The Ocean and it might have been my agent who suggested that I go up there, but I went up to see him and we just talked all day. He talked about how he writes plays, how he locks the doors, shuts the windows and he basically writes what the characters tell him to write so I guess he was telling me ‘I’m not just writing for you I’m writing what I’m compelled to write’ which was just fine with me. I just remember that day was a lovely day.”

Not many actors get to reprise their role from a theatre production up on the big screen and Washington is only too happy to talk about what the differences were playing Troy on the stage to what it was like bringing the character to film. “I think it only helped that I was able to, I couldn’t imagine trying to do this having not done it on stage first. There was no time to try and figure out who Troy was when we were shooting the movie so to number one know the character and to know that we did a production that worked, you know we got the response from the audience and the accolades and that kind of stuff, so I knew it worked but that also added more pressure because it was like ‘don’t screw it up now.’ But I just knew I had to get the camera in front of the actors and just let them do what they had been doing all along.”


So what did he focus on capturing as director? “The truth!” he exclaims. “The truth. That was it – period. The camera is always going to capture what you are doing so if you are lying and you’re not supposed to be then it is going to catch you doing that. The universal stems from the specific, so everything down to the last button. If it says 2.30 on the clock on the wall then it should say 2.30 on the watch – whether you see it or not.”


As we saw on Oscar night it was the stars around Washington in the cast that also made Fences such an enjoyable film and Washington is not only full of praise for all of them but tells us what it was like to direct them. “You never want to crush an actor,” he explains. “I’ve been on the other side where a director has been like ‘well I think he would do this’ and I’m always like ‘well why don’t you get up here and do it then if that’s what you think?’ There are all kinds of truth, just because I’m the director that doesn’t mean that I know THE truth, I’m there to discover just like everybody else. You know what they say – eighty percent of it is about casting, so get the best and let them do what they do then just see what happens. With Jovan Adepo (who plays Washington’s son) I remember him coming in and I wasn’t hard on the young actors but I wanted to push them around to really see if they could handle it because Jovan and Saniyya Sidney (who plays Washington’s daughter) they had to catch up to the rest of us, especially Jovan, and he was just head-and-shoulder above the rest. He just had this naturalness and honesty in him. He was actually up for a role with Antoine Fuqua (who directed Washington in Training Day) and he said he was the best kid going around and I said ‘well why aren’t you hiring him?’ and he said ‘well I want somebody edgy in my film’ but he was the best actor who had come in and read. Needless to say that gave him a leg up on everybody else.”


While Denzel Washington himself didn’t walk away with an Academy Award for Fences it is a film that is a highlight amongst his acting career, it is a film that reminds audiences that he is also a fine director in his own right as well.

Fences is in cinemas right now.


Written by David Griffiths


Listen to JIZZY PEARL & LOVE/HATE while you read.

To celebrate the 25th anniversary of Love/Hate’s second album ‘Wasted in America’, frontman Jizzy Pearl heads over to the UK in March for a 14 date tour. He’ll be playing the album in full for the first time ever. I caught up with Jizzy for a quick chat about the upcoming tour, his future plans, and a little of his past exploits.


Jizzy is currently in the process of writing a new solo album. Obviously, I wondered how the writing was coming along and when will he start recording. “I’m in it. I’m hiding away in my Unibomber shack with coffee and a guitar and I’m kicking ass! I plan to start the actual recording process when I return from my March UK Wasted in America tour.” A lot of artists feel the need to write on the road these days, to basically keep the cash flow rolling. I asked why he prefers the old school process of taking a break from touring to concentrate on writing an album. “The road is physical and song writing is mental, they don’t usually go together. It’s an Energy thing”


Being no stranger to the UK, Jizzy must have built up quite a contact list over the years. “I did book this whole tour myself without an agent so yes it’s all built on relationships and everybody doing well financially, both promoter and band. This will be my fourth time at The Diamond and God knows I’ve played the Camden Underworld more than I can count.” And being a regular visitor here, I wondered if he’d ever considered leaving the California sunshine to relocate to this side of the Atlantic “I fantasize about it, I love the people and the culture. And THE BEER! Did I mention Beer?” Other than playing the ‘Wasted in America’ album in its entirety, are we to expect a few surprises? “I always give the UK fans what they want and that is the first two Love/Hate records. I can sneak in a few outside songs but the sing-a-longs would suffer…ha ha”


On his last tour, in December 2015, Jizzy hired the 3 members of Scottish rock band The King Lot as his backing band. It worked well, so is he using the same band again this time around? “Nope. But I am still using Brits and Scots, Stevie Pearce and Christian Kimmet from Warrior Soul and Mickey Richards from Ryan Hamilton’s band.” The only possible way to rehearse when in a different country is via Skype or Dropbox. I asked if he embraces modern technology. “I like certain aspects of the tech age like Garage Band and Protools, I’ve cut my teeth for years writing and recording so I know what I’m doing…it used to be a rarity when bands made records but now anybody can make music in their bedroom and think they’re Sergeant Pepper.”


Not only a longstanding musician, Jizzy found the time, a few years ago, to write 3 self-published books ‘I got more Crickets Than Friends’, ‘Angst for the Memories’ and ‘Unhappy Endings’ I wondered had the songwriting process become easier for him over the years, and, even though it’s a completely different discipline, has the experience of writing 3 books had any influence on his songwriting? “Sometimes it’s easy, sometimes it’s hard. The reward for all the hours of work and concentration is a kick ass song and that’s what counts really, raising the bar and trying to outdo what you’ve already done. As for book writing they are two separate disciplines but the beauty of prose is you can say things you couldn’t say in a three-minute song”


For the younger readers, on June 1st 1992 Jizzy performed one of the most memorable publicity stunts ever when he hung from a cross, as a mock crucifixion, erected on the Hollywood sign in Beverley Hills. I asked if he expects to be asked about the Hollywood sign incident in every interview he does? “Yes, I do. Someone recently changed the letters on the sign to ‘Hollyweed’ and it made the national news and I thought…”So what?” And does he think that as a publicity stunt it’s served him well personally over the years? “We were scheduled to be dropped from our record label Columbia anyway so the Hollywood Sign thing was a sort of a ‘fuck you’ to corporate greed and the mentality that selling records was the only goal you should have. Mind you I wish I had sold millions of records but what we had and what we did was light years beyond most people’s dreams.” One thing I’ve always wondered, how long did it take to get him up there along with the cross, and how did nobody notice him for a few hours? “It’s a long story but I do plan on telling it when we play


One thing I’ve always wondered, how long did it take to get him up there along with the cross, and how did nobody notice him for a few hours? “It’s a long story but I do plan on telling it when we play Bannermans Acoustic March 30th, ‘Songs and Stories’ my first foray into the Storyteller thing. I can spin a good tale trust me.”


After Love/Hate, Jizzy has fronted Quiet Riot, LA Guns, Adler’s Appetite and Ratt, I asked are there any bands that, if they needed a singer and came calling, and everything felt right, he couldn’t say no to? “Well I’d play with Warren DeMartini again in a heartbeat but they already have a singer! Warren was the best, Tracii Guns too, great guitar player and a nice guy.”


And finally, since rock ‘n’ roll became his way of life, what moment or experience comes to mind as being so good as to represent why he chose this life? “When you’re young you get into music for all the wrong reasons, fame, women, status but as you get older you realise that true success is measured when you can do what you love and pay your bills doing it. It sounds cliché` but it’s true, I always count my blessings and try to remember I could be behind a desk or out loading boxes instead of being what I am, a working musician.”


Written by Mike Brierley


Listen to COFFIN WOLF while you read.

“We started up a couple of years ago after playing in lots of other bands and sort of getting nowhere,” explained Braiden Mann, vocalist/ guitarist for Melbourne’s Coffin Wolf. “I put this band together, found a drummer, found a guitarist and a bass player and went from there. I think by the time we first played a gig, we already had a release, Shadow Life, out so we put that out first and then started hitting the shows. We played maybe 60 shows in the first year or something like that and just put ourselves out there and got ourselves in front of as many people as we could. It started to progress from there with more shows, more releases, bigger supports and a couple of tours.”


Coffin Wolf are about to release their latest self-titled E.P, and to celebrate are releasing the single ‘Winter Blues’ and its accompanying film clip exclusively through HEAVY.


“The E.P is a four track, seven-inch release. It’s got about of a new direction for us as well. Our previous stuff was very punk, very fast and hard hitting and this is more of the same but it gets heavier in some parts as well. The lyrics are a bit closer to the heart and it’s a bit darker overall. We put a lot more into this than our previous releases. It’s got a fast side and a dark side. It’s brutal.”


The album artwork, featuring a snarling wolf in the foreground of an alley with a crowd of onlookers at a distance is not only a reflection of the band and where they have come from, but is also a backhanded response to the doubters.

“There’s a bit more that was going to go into that cover art that never made it,” smiled Mann. “The people in the background are laughing at the wolf and it was a sort of symbol of trying to make some headway and get somewhere with the band; trying to push the band forward and getting no response with people just saying yeah, good luck mate. It represents that sort of thing and the wolf coming out of the alleyway is a sign that he’s not going to give up, he’s going to keep going – it’s something that means a little bit to us.”


Since their formation in 2014 Mann feels that Coffin Wolf have grown not just musically, but personally as well over the journey and are at the stage now where the fruits of their labour are starting to back up the years of work.


“The band is a different amalgamation of itself from when we first started,” he mused. “We’ve had slight member changes, Matty O, our original guitarist, has come back to us which is awesome because he’s a fucken shredder. He could solo for days and apart from that I think we just have more experience. The songs that we’re putting together these days – even after our E.P that’s about to come out – we’ve still been writing and hitting the studio pretty hard and the stuff that we’re coming up with is clearly more experienced. More experienced songwriting, more experienced performing and I think we care a lot more about it now as well. It’s something that we all… we don’t just WANT to do it any more, we NEED it.”

As mentioned earlier, Coffin Wolf defied popular trend when they started their career, releasing the Shadow Life E.P on an untested market with practically no runs on the board and no live exposure, but Mann says the experiment paid dividends.

“I think if I had the chance over again I would do it the same,” he reflected. “It sort of guaranteed the fans would come through the doors at our first show which was a bonus. That was sort of the way Coffin Wolf has always been driven – we just went for it straight away. By the time I’d gotten any members in the band I had pretty much written an album by myself. I was new to guitar and vocal at the time. I’d played drums in bands for ten or twelve years so being a front man and a guitarist was new to me so I figured the songs might not be of the best caliber so I thought I would write as many as I could and record them all at home and that would make it easier to get members in because it showed I was keen and ready to go. It turn out they really dug a lot of the songs so we just narrowed it down and then put out a release. We had all the tools on hand as well. We recorded at my house in my flat mates room and it all happened really quick. Before we knew it we were playing two gigs every weekend.”


To date, Coffin Wolf have released two E.P’s, plus a seven inch collaboration with The Fck Ups , but have not ventured into the full album territory where the true fabric of a band is tested, but Mann assures us that that is more a reflection on circumstances than in the bands confidence in their ability.


“I suppose that’s the downside of playing so any shows,” he shrugged. “You only have so much time while working full time jobs but we’ve started to change things now. We’ve done the whole play as many shows as we can and getting in front of as many people as we can so now… the albums coming is what I’m trying to say (laughs). We’re all hanging for it too now, we want the big twelve, and then we want to just keep releasing them from there on. In this fast paced world we live in you just have to keep churning out stuff and keep things moving. Do a release and do a tour type thing. The full length is coming. It’s not the next release but let’s hope it’s the one after.”


Written by Kris Peters


  • 1 x Coffin Wolf singlet
  • 1 x Coffin Wolf T-Shirt
  • 1 x Coffin Wolf Brewtality Fest Promo CD
  • 1 x Coffin Wolf Promo CD
  • 1 x Coffin Wolf split 7″ with The FckUps
  • 1 x Coffin Wolf Badge
  • 1 x Desert Highways T-Shirt
  • 1 x Desert Highways Tote Bag
  • 1 x Desert Highways Patch
  • 2 x Desert Highways Stickers
  • 2 x Desert Highways Postcards
  • 1 x Desert Highways Badge
  • 4 x Desert Highways Guitar Picks


Listen to LIKE A STORM while you read.

“Excited would be an understatement,” exclaimed lead guitarist for Like a Storm Matt Brooks on their upcoming support slot with Alter Bridge. “Alter Bridge is a band we have so much admiration for. We’ve been lucky enough to tour with them in America, the U.K and Europe and this is our first time coming to Australia so it seems right for us to be coming down with the Alter Bridge guys.”


Originally hailing from Auckland, Like A Storm have forged a path to success that is the dream of every young musician who packs their bags and leaves home with that elusive dream of making it in the music industry.


“It was one of those things where you look back at it in hindsight and think everything panned out well but at the time we had no idea what we were doing,” Matt laughed. “We packed up from Auckland where we grew up and the first place that we moved to was Vancouver in Canada. We thought that if we could start playing in Canada and get a foot in the door there that just maybe it would lead to being able to play in the U.S and so we turned up in Vancouver and didn’t know a soul and we just started playing shows at local rock clubs. You start as the new band in town from the other side of the world so you are playing on the worst nights and then you work your way up and by the end of our time there we were headlining on the weekends in the best rock club in town and that led to us meeting a lot of people. One of them was a producer who made records in Las Angeles who we met through a mutual friend and he invited us to L.A to make a record and that got everything started for us and we’ve been touring in the U.S ever since.”


When I point out that it sounds like a pretty easy ride Matt bursts into laughter.


“I would say it was a fun ride, but I wouldn’t say it was easy,” he managed to get out between laughing. “I don’t think you get into rock and roll because it’s going to be easy. I think you get into it because you love it and can’t imagine doing anything else. There are definitely periods in time where you really have to dig in but that’s ultimately what makes it rewarding. If it was a journey then in a way you have been shortchanged if it’s easy because you were never challenged and those challenges continually come up. I think that’s what makes it rewarding is that it’s difficult.”


Given that three quarters of the band are related, (Chris Brooks on lead vocals and rhythm guitar and Kent Brooks on bass guitar and backing vocals – drummer Zach Wood rounds out the band), the potential for family bickering could possibly be a destabilizing influence but Matt says it is in fact the opposite.


“Fortunately we get on really well,” he laughed. “We got on well growing up and we still do now. It’ a funny thing being in a band with your brothers because one thing about family is you don’t pull any punches. Any time somebody bothers you you are going to tell them but I think for a touring band – you spend ten or eleven months of the year together – you have to be able to work through conflict like that and I think being family helps because you just talk stuff out or occasionally scrap it out (laughs) and then everybody moves on. More than that it’s awesome to share these experiences together. We’ve got to do a lot of things that are difficult to explain to anybody else. There’s incredible moments and to look across the stage and see your brothers there is even more special.”

Like A Storm have built a reputation based not only on the quality of their music, but also on their willingness to incorporate new instruments into the metal landscape. They have used piano, church organs, the djembe, jaw harp, mandolin and even the didgeridoo in their music and Matt says that the ability to be able to experiment with different sounds and instruments is one of the highlights of being in the band.


“To be honest one of the cooler things about making your own music is you get to try whatever crazy ideas you want,” he explained, “and we’ve always been really into bands that pushed the envelope musically and weren’t afraid to take risks and so Chris taught himself to play didgeridoo. Our grandparents lived in Brisbane so even though we grew up in Auckland we would come to Australia every single year and on one of those trips he taught himself how to play and to circular breath in three days or something ridiculous like that. As soon as he played it in front of us we were just… I think every Kiwi sees the didgeridoo a lot and it has such a unique and hypnotic sound but now we had someone in the band who could actually play it so we thought what happens if we work it into our music? Initially we started using it as a sort of ambient, soundscapey type of instrument – which it is amazing for – and then with our song ‘Love the Way You Hate Me’ we thought what would it sound like with a heaver riff? So we put it with guitar and metal drumming and treated it the same way you would treat a guitar with distortion and that was one of the things where we thought dude, I can’t believe no one has done this before! The way that this ancient instrument fits with the anointed rock instruments is crazy. I guess we’ve always had that approach to trying things. There’s a lot of things we try that other people never hear (laughs) but the ones that work they really work because it’s something different and I think that’s an attitude we’ve always had and is one of the things people identify with us.”


As well as the Alter Bridge tour, fans of Like A Storm also have a new album to look forward to, with the band currently recording their third album, Catacombs.


“That’s what brings us to Vegas,” Matt admitted.”We’re here writing and starting to record Catacombs and we have our first single out off it called ‘Pure Evil’. Catacombs for us is a chance to grow musically. We’re fans of a lot of different kinds of music and ultimately I think our dream is to write songs that are new to us and that connect with people, but also push the boundaries musically and show how we grow as a band and to push the envelope of what people expect from us. Catacombs is a record that brings those influences that we’ve been listening to for a long time but have never really incorporated into our music and that’s a lot more progressive metal type stuff. As a guitar player it’s an incredibly exciting genre to be playing. It’s a record that we’re really excited about. I think it will definitely be an evolution from the last one. It will sound like Like A Storm but I think it will be much more of a push into heavier territory and also more progressive musically.”


Written by Kris Peters

Interview with Hugh Jackman & Patrick Stewart

Over the past twenty years, comic book fans have had the immense pleasure of being able to watch nine films set in the X-Men universe (if you include the stand-alone Wolverine and Deadpool movies). For a generation of film goers now Australian actor Hugh Jackman is Wolverine while acclaimed actor Patrick Stewart has shared the role of Professor Charles Xavier with James McAvoy, who has played the younger version of the fearless leader in the newer films.


Now as the curtain falls on this world of mutants and heroes for Jackman and Stewart they team up with director James Mangold (who dipped into the franchise in 2013 with The Wolverine). The film has a much darker tone and this time is more graphic than its predecessors… something that has earned it an R-Rating from the classification board.


That ‘different’ tone is something that the man himself Hugh Jackman is only too happy to talk about. “I think the whole film feels different,” he says shifting his chair. ‘Tone, character wise it’s different to any of the others. And that was our goal; I didn’t want it to feel like the final chapter of a saga I wanted it to feel like a whole new, fresh thing. I wanted to stake some new ground. Logan in this film is more human… hence the title… he’s sick, his powers are dwindling, he’s vulnerable, he’s also looking after an ageing father-figure in Charles Xavier and hiding him out. He’s also under stress; he doesn’t have money – he’s a limo driver trying to earn enough bucks to get by and to buy the meds that Charles needs, and he’s got a lot of very mundane, everyday stuff going on. But clearly he has checked out, he is at the bottom and so want James Mangold and James Frank did was kind of create a world for a character whose biggest fear is love and intimacy, because that only brings pain, but now he is surrounded by a family that is forced upon him.”


The new story brings about a whole new relationship between Logan (Wolverine) and Charles Xavier with Jackman explains precisely. “Charles has dementia,” he explains. “Charles Xavier has been a father figure and mentor and probably understands him the best because Logan is a closed book. He quips, and he is tough, and all that but Charles knows where he comes from and knows his background – he knows the demons that he is fighting. So he knows him and but in this one the tables are turned a little bit because he has dementia, so he is confused, and he is vulnerable, and he’s angry, and he is many, many, many different things. At times he is child-like, and then at other times he is abusive and Logan is just in that carer role, that role of taking care day and night day in and day out, he also has to keep him hidden from authorities so it is a great dynamic and it was a lot of fun to play. And it was even better because it was with a great friend and one of the greatest actors I have ever met.


But then a quick look at the poster and of course trailer and fans of the series will notice that there is another potential relationship for Logan in this film as well. “Yes, then there is a young girl that has been created from DNA,” Jackman says almost teasingly. “And that DNA may very well resemble my own, and that was stolen so it wasn’t like he chose to have a daughter, which she may be, but he is confronted with genetics that are very similar to his own and a task to rescue/protect/save her. He doesn’t want that task, and he pushes it away for as long as he can but that relationship between those two characters, that father/daughter relationship, is very strong, and this young girl Daphne that plays that part is absolutely astonishing.”


So what does Jackman hope that fans will take away from this film? “My hope for fans with this film and I talk to them every day, maybe every second day, over the last seventeen years is that they say that this is ‘the Wolverine movie that they have always wanted to see,” he says smiling. “That is my hope and dream, and that was my guiding star while making this movie.”


The other actor also farewelling the series here is Patrick Stewart, and he says audiences will also see a very different side to his character, Charles Xavier. “Not only will you see a different side to Charles you will see a transformed Charles,” he explains. “The controlled, intelligent, sensitive intellectual has been replaced with a scatter-brained, crazy, physically-fragile and highly dangerous individual. No one could ever imagine that Charles Xavier could become a dangerous being in society, it’s unthinkable, but here he is putting the world at risk.”


He to explains how this changes his relationship with Logan. “From the very beginning, Charles has had a very caring relationship with him. He knew everything about Logan – his past, how he came about, what had been done to him, the misery and agony of that. He always felt a protectiveness towards him. Logan has always been a difficult personality – independent, sometimes aggressive, sometimes mean-spirited, hostile even, but essentially he has always had his heart in the right place. Now there has been a turnaround, and the carer is Logan, and the vulnerable, weak, fragile one is Charles. And as I said not only vulnerable but also very dangerous.”


“Our primary duty is to entertain,” says Stewart talking about his hopes for the film with fans. “But entertaining can have very different aspects to it. There are themes within this film which some people have already identified as being a contemporary commentary on present day society, particularly in Europe and the United States. I don’t think that was the overt intention of the producers and the writers of this movie, but I think that has unfortunately come about that way. But yes there is some instruction in this movie. There are warning contained within this movie and if they are listened to in any way whatsoever then not only have we entertained then perhaps we have also been a benefit.”


Of course, fans have also been very excited to see director James Mangold return to the franchise so what was it like for Stewart to work with him and the rest of the cast. “I had only ever done one day’s work with James previously,” explains Stewart. “Ian McKellan and I shot a one day short movie scenes as a fill-in for the first Wolverine movie, but I met with James very early on in the process, and I enjoyed that two/three-hour conversation that we had about the screenplay and about the character of Charles and particularly about his disintegration. I love working with James, he is a craftsman, and he knows filmmaking so well. He knows on the one hand exactly what he wants, but I have never before worked with a director that is so open to other possibilities and to input from his cast, even bringing up the unexpected and at times even inviting us to improvise which is something that always appeals to me and some of those little improvisations even made it into the movie. With the cast – well the X-Men are reduced down to two in this film and to have such a close relationship with Logan being Hugh Jackman has been a delight as it always has been for seventeen years.”


So it seems that both cast and fans alike are sad to see Hugh Jackman and Patrick Stewart leaving the franchise, but at least they all have one last film to savour before the curtain-call.


Logan is out in cinemas right now.


Written by David Griffiths




Listen to DRAGONFORCE while you read.

“I guess it is to show more than what we have before,” detailed Dragonforce guitarist Herman Li when asked about the bands goals for their upcoming seventh studio album “Reaching Into Infinity”.


“People always know that we’re a fast band with fast solos and fast guitars but I guess if we wrote slower material and different songs people would always want us to go back to the fast stuff (laughs), which is cool but we try to show that we can do different things and not just play fast songs all the time.”


“The album is a construction of what Dragonforce have been doing,” he continued. “Of course we have our own sound which is rocky, catchy and melodic songs, and it is getting more and more tuned as our sound because we are always trying to improve it. We have even reached our normal song limit and expanded our length of time. We finally have a twelve minute epic song and fans have been asking for that so we have delivered.”


When pressed on writing lengthier songs, Li admits it isn’t something that the band gives a lot of thought to in the writing process.


“It just happens naturally,” he deadpanned, “like ‘hey, let’s try that, it would be a lot of fun’ (laughs). Our previous songs have come in around the nine or ten minute mark but with that couple of extra minutes on the clock it looks even better!”


Bass player Frederic Leclercq has been quoted as saying that Reaching Into Infinity has more diversity than previous releases, with Li admitting it has been a long time coming.


“We constantly have all of these ideas,” he offered, “that we may or may not use because we were so obsessed with just being fast in our earlier days but now we are finding the time I guess to give them a go. We’re not just going in the one direction.”


The recording process for the album was unusual in the respect that the band wrote and recorded the album while on the Killer Elite tour, with members often flying in to different studios between shows to lay down tracks.

“I think doing it that way was fine,” Li said. “If you stay in the studio or just sit and record for months at a time you pretty much go crazy so you have to get out in between. When we go on the road we get a chance to talk together about the albums and the music and the creativity. Modern people don’t like to pick up the phone, we send text messages, but on tour we actually have topspeak to each other so it actually helped doing it like that.”

The extra flying, however, did claim one casualty.


“We lost our backdrop,” Li exclaimed, “so someone on the world has a massive Killer Elite – fourteen foot high – backdrop in their house or it’s just sitting in the airport somewhere or in the laundry room somewhere (laughs).”

With Reaching Into Infinity being vocalists Marc Hudson’s third outing with the band, Li also believes that the vocal delivery on the album is far superior to anything that has preceded it.


“He’s definitely improved,” Li enthused. “When the fans hear the album they are going to be really impressed with his voice. I don’t want to give the game away to people until they hear the album but even the guys in the band were like ‘is that Marc? I can’t believe it’ and I thought the same myself (laughs). It was like ‘is that our singer?’ Don’t tell him but, we don’t want to give him an ego (laughs).”


With the guitar work already at a premium and continuing to reach new levels on every release, Li admits that the three guitarists are constantly looking to breathe better life into their playing.


“There’s not so much pressure to do something better, but the pressure is more in adding something new to the music that doesn’t sound completely different to what we do,” he admitted. “The good thing about music is it is completely objective. Who is going to say what is better? One note can blow you away so that is one major thing that is great about music but can also be bad as well (laughs).”


In saying that, Li does admit that when preparing for a tour there is always extra emphasis on the guitars and practicing for the demands that lay ahead of them.


“Before a tour there is a serious workout on the guitars to get us up and going,” he said. “Doing a song for a few minutes in a studio is fine but playing for an hour and a half and jumping and sweating at the same time is a lot different and more difficult than playing in an air conditioned sound rom. You have to be more aware of what you are capable of because it goes to the next level when you play live shows.”


With a tour of Australia planned for June, Li says that Dragonforce are eagerly looking forward to the imminent album release as well as the tour.


“It’s been a while since we played in Australia,” he recalled, “but of course the fans can expect some new songs in the set list because it is an album tour but we also want to play songs we had to leave out previously because of time restrictions when we played the Soundwave shows so we try to add as much as possible. Australia is a difficult place to tour because of where it is. You have to go to Japan and a couple of other places to make it work and the last time we were there was 2009 so we can’t wait to play for you again.”


As a bit of parting advice, Li has one thing to say – or rather plea to make.


“Forget about bringing your phones and camera,” he urged. “Just come and enjoy the show. I went to see Dream Theatre recently and you weren’t allowed to record the show or get cameras out and it was great! I finally got to see a show without someone sticking a camera up in front of my face (laughs). Even for the audience, you get in other people’s way by sticking your camera up so please try it just once and leave your camera at home. It doesn’t have to be our show, but try it. You might find you actually enjoy the show more…”


Written by Kris Peters

Listen to Aaron Keylock while you read.

Despite being just nineteen years old British musician Aaron Keylock is no stranger to the scene. Keylock first picked up a guitar when he was eight years old and by the time he was thirteen he was playing every night of the week and was working with icon Joe Bonamassa.


Since then Keylock has caught the attention of music outlets right around the world including Kerrang! Including him on their Fresh Blood List. Now with his debut album “Cut Against The Grain” being released in Australia Heavy Mag’s Dave Griffiths sat down and had a chat with him.


When asked about what were his inspirations behind the album Keylock says, “With most of it I wrote the songs when I was still a child coming out of school and going into professional music. So I think a lot of it was simply that going against the grain and writing about life, going about things the way that you want to do them and not really worrying about what everybody else says. I was really just trying to find my way in and through rock ‘n’ roll and I think that is really what most of the album is about. The ups and downs and struggles of doing that. When it comes to the process of putting tracks together sometimes I might have the music bit first but I never really write to that. I’ll save it in my phone and that but I really need the inspiration of what I want to say with a lyric before I can write, and then it normally just seems to come out the way that I want it to come out and the way I want it to say. I think that is where it usually comes from though the lyric always has to be the kind of statement that I want to make at that time. I do piece a lot of different things together though as well. I mean Down was three songs pieced together.”


One of the things that first hits the listener with Cut Against The Grain is how many ghostly sounds from rock’s past come through on the album so it is not surprising when Keylock tells me that he was into music from a very early age. “I got into music at a very early age,” he explains. “All my earliest memories are around music. I think I really wanted to get it because of what I heard my Dad playing around the house, that was mainly 1970s rock ‘n’ roll, things like Lynyrd Skynyrd and The Rolling Stones, that kind of thing, and then I discovered the blues when I started playing guitar around nine. I really appreciated that and got really addicted to it and I then I got into everything from Black Sabbath to Bob Dylan and everything in between, so there was a lot of different stuff there. As long as it is real and has honesty I will always try and take what I can from different forms of music so that’s where I’ve always come from – if you like the sound take something from it.


Having started playing live gigs at age thirteen Keylock has had many interesting things happen to over the years. He laughs when I ask him what it was like starting out at such an early age. “Most of it was really easy and fine,” he says. “But every now and then you would get a doorman who would say ‘hey you are not allowed in there’. If I did get kicked out though I’d just sneak around the back and go in one of the side doors though and then you’d get on stage and then you’d get thrown back out again, but that is just what you go through to do what you want to do. The biggest thing for me though was I never knew if people liked what I was doing because they liked what I was playing or whether they just liked me because I was a thirteen-year-old kid with a guitar. That was in my head for a lot of years.”

As if dodging doormen wasn’t enough Keylock has also had the experience of playing at Biker rallies and being on stage during the London riots. “The biker rallies were cool,” he says laughing. “At that stage, I was taking every gig that I could get, and it was a pretty cool gig. They were always well put on and looking back at it now it prepared me for every situation possible because you are just background music for them. They are there to talk about their bikes and do whatever else and you are just the music in the corner, so there are different aspects to just playing a gig. It certainly shows you how to hold a show with stuff going on around you, things like having bikes on stage. I was told there was going to be bikes on stage, but I had no idea that they would be doing burn-outs behind us, so looking back I can’t imagine any stranger situation than that. That certainly prepared me for everything. With the London riots, I had no idea what was going on. I only got to play half a song, and suddenly they were ushering me out the back door. The riots hadn’t fully hit Camden yet, so I had no idea what was going on. I was too young to fully understand what was going on.”


One of the biggest things that Keylock has had to undertake in his career so far was leaving England to go to Los Angeles and work with producer Fabrizio Grossi who has worked with the likes of Alice Cooper, Dave Navarro, Slash and Zakk Wylde. “That was a great experience because it was an entirely different experience,” Keylock says. “I’d never done any recording before; I’d only done my live shows. It was a whole new world for me. I’d been playing live and playing music for so long but this a new experience. And I love new experiences. I mean when you are in a studio you are in the studio, so it doesn’t matter whether you are in L.A. or whatever, you’re just locked in a room for two weeks. I got into it, though, I liked it, and Fab was cool. He had lots of good ideas, but he also wanted to make my record so that’s how we looked at it and he didn’t make a record for himself. Everything worked for me, and we got the sound that I was going for so basically it came down to choosing what were the best tunes to go on the record and you know that is where the honesty on a record comes from. Rather than just having an artist do whatever the producer wants them to do to sell more records it was a more artist orientated album were there really is a statement on the record.”


Cut Against The Grain is out now through Mascot.


Written by David Griffiths




Listen to TAKING BACK SUNDAY while you read.

Taking Back Sunday are a band on a mission as they prepare to head back to Australian shores this March. It doesn’t take long during my catch up with lead guitarist John Nolan to realise that this isn’t a band that is prepared to rest on their laurels. Seven albums into their career, tours with the biggest bands in the world and having their songs used in Hollywood blockbusters hasn’t changed Taking Back Sunday over the years. They are still a band that wants to do amazing shows for their fans and show the world they are still capable of creating ‘great’ albums.


Nolan explains a little about that mission as we begin by talking about the band’s latest album Tidal Wave. “We went into this album feeling very conscious of the fact that it was our seventh album and it felt like we were really at a point where we needed to make a statement, so we didn’t settle into that place where you just start doing the stuff that everybody expects from you. So that was the starting point for us and how we approached it. I think we were a lot more open to trying to bring in influences from music that we have all liked over the years but not necessarily channelled into our own music. I think the statement that we wanted to make is that we are still a band that is capable of putting out great albums and still capable of doing something unexpected and surprising.”


“When it comes to those influences that I’m talking, about that really changes from band member to band member but I think some of the things that came through really clearly are things like on the title track that really clear Ramones slash The Clash influence which are bands that I think we have all really enjoyed over the years but never really worked into how we feel before. There is also a bit of a Tom Petty thing that we all have as well, and some of that has worked its way in there as well. There’s also a bit of hardcore influence in there as well, especially that early New York hardcore scene. For me personally, when I grew up I grew up listening to Christian music. My Dad was a Pastor, so I was only allowed to listen to Christian music. I can remember listening to Amy Grant, and there is still something about her voice and melodies when I listen today that’s special. Then after that, I really got into classic rock from the ‘60s and then came Pearl Jam, Nirvana and Soundgarden… things like that. It was really about that time that I started to say ‘I really want to be a musician’. It was during that grunge time that I started to learn guitar and begun to think ‘yeah this is something that I really want to do with my life.’”


While a lot of bands go into a songwriting hiatus during tours Nolan explains that things are very different for Taking Back Sunday. “We sort of work on all our ideas on our own while we are touring and then when we finish touring we get together and start sharing those ideas around with each other and see where they lead to. How it normally starts is that somebody will have an idea for the music for a song and then we all get together to add to that. There is no set way that we go about doing things, and the idea can come from anybody in the band, on any instrument, but it always has to be something that we all gravitate towards.”


The one thing that Nolan says hasn’t changed for the band over the years is the way that they feel when their new album is about to be released to fans. “We get very nervous but also very excited. By the time an album is released we normally have finished working on it about six months earlier so there is a huge window of time there for us to listen to it and think about it and kind of process it before anybody else gets to hear it and I think that it when we start to get really nervous. You have this thing that is coming, but you just have to wait for it. But it is also incredibly exciting getting to put out a new record every time.”


As we talk about that excitement and nervousness pre an album release it brings me to ask Nolan that age-old question – ‘who do they listen to for responses more, fans or music critics?’ “We really just try to stick to what we think of our albums,” says Nolan with a laugh. “Because I think once you start making music for critics or even if you just start making music for fans I think that you can get lost in some place where what you are doing is not really rewarding or exciting anymore.”


Fans eager to see Taking Back Sunday when they arrive in Australia in March should certainly take a listen to the band’s new work as Nolan explains so far on this worldwide tour they have been playing the entire Tidal Wave album as part of their set. “We are playing the album,” he says with a deep breath. “That’s big, we had to get together for a full four-day rehearsal before the tour to do that, but even before that we were all doing things at home alone to prepare in the lead up to do that. We have been working really hard to get it right live, and it certainly has been a challenge and you know it is kinda scary to get out there in front of people and play an album that they don’t really know really well yet. But I think as a band we are at that point we were are excited about challenges like that. We are definitely excited about coming to Australia as well; it has been way too long since we have been there and we don’t actually know how big we are there. I guess with this tour we’ll kinda gauge that. I also love going to the beaches in Australia. I normally can’t do that on a show day, but on a day off the beaches there are fantastic.”


Of course over the years a way that a lot of the music fans have discovered Taking Back Sunday has been through pop culture. The band have had songs used in the popular Madden NFL franchise of video games and of course were hand-selected by Michael Bay to appear on all of the Transformers soundtracks. Nolan says it is pretty ‘cool’ to know that their music is being used in such projects. “It’s great,” he says. “And I really hope that it continues with this album. It’s a really cool thing to happen for a band because people can’t really discover new bands on radio anymore, at least not here in the States… things like rock radio just aren’t a thing anymore. One of the last ways now you can stumble onto a band without really trying is through video games, movies and television shows, etc… so it’s just really cool.”


“I really don’t know how the thing with Michael Bay started,” says Nolan laughing hard. “I mean a couple of times our songs didn’t even feature in the film they just turned up on the soundtrack. I actually don’t know how that has happened, though. Usually, somebody just gets in contact with our manager and she comes up to us and says ‘hey there is this opportunity for your song to be used in this thing’ and we say ‘okay, cool’ but we don’t usually know why. It could be that Michael Bay is a huge fan of ours, but I don’t know…it could be…I’m not sure if I’d be happy about that or not,” he jokes laughing even harder.


Whether or not Michael Bay is a fan of the band may remain a mystery, but if you are a Taking Back Sunday fan, you don’t want to miss them as they hit Australia in March.


Written by David Griffiths

Listen to THE MAINE while you read.

Hailing from Arizona The Maine have been crafting their work since the release of their first EP way back in 2007. When I chat to the band’s lead singer John O’Callaghan he is not only busy preparing for the release of the band’s new album Lovely, Little, Lonely on April 7th but also gearing up for a tour to Australia with All Time Low and Neck Deep.

O’Callaghan says the band are just as excited about teaming up with All Time Low and Neck Deep as the fans are who are already eagerly buying tickets. “Oh man, we are just as excited,” he says with a laugh. The way it kind of fell into place was we’ve known the guys in All Time Low now for about nine years, maybe even a little bit longer and we’ve toured with them a couple of times and we were just sent an offer and we took no time to say yes. We’re excited to be touring with them and we’ve also looked at the size of the rooms and they are huge so we absolutely couldn’t turn it down. We’re excited about not only touring with All Time Low but being back in Australia so soon, and hopefully we will be able to share some new tunes with everybody.”


So what do The Maine enjoy doing when they are in Australia, do they like to explore our cities or would they rather head out to a wildlife park? “We’ve done both of those,” says O’Callaghan again laughing. “I am actually into trying really great restaurants so I’ll pull out the Yelp Ap, I’m very a Yelper, although I never seem to review anything. It’s funny because I go off of other people’s reviews so I’m looking forward to eating really good forward. And I can’t surf but I’m definitely okay at swimming so I am hoping to hit the beach as well.”


When talk turns to The Maine’s brand new album the excitement in O’Callaghan’s voice rises. “So we recorded this album in Northern California…um on the coast,” he says. “We chose to do it there because basically the feeling that I wanted to convey, at least sonically convey, was this feeling of not unsettling but a comfortable feeling of being and recognising that we are very much alone, but it is a comforting thing. I kind of had this image in my head of that feeling that you get when you in the pool, in the deep end, and you close your eyes and you kind of recognise that you are a part of something and that you are taking up space. We were really focussed on creating a seamless album, so we feel that this album flows more so than any other album that we have ever created. So yeah we are in that limbo period at the moment where people have heard one song and we’re trying to get that song into a lot of people’s ears, but we are really anxious and chomping at the bit to release this whole thing. So hopefully people dig it!”


O’Callaghan tells me that this album is very different to what they have done in the past when I talk about the fact that songs from their past, like Am I Pretty?, show that they are band that still writes lyrics that mean something. “It was different to whole we’ve done past albums in a few ways,” he says. “The big way was that I kind of did everything in what they call ‘in the box.’ That means I created all the songs on my computer using Pro Tools as opposed to really standing up as a full band and performing them and working the songs out that way. We kind of worked off my original idea but then just built on top of whatever that was in the computer. I think that means that they aren’t many songs on the album, in our opinion, that don’t serve a purpose. I think in the past there has always been one or two songs on an album that I kind of regret that I put them on there and I regret that we followed through with them but with this one there was no room, in our opinion, for anything that didn’t belong or anything that didn’t feel like it did. As far as the lyrics go I kind of held off with writing them until the end of the process. That differed from our other songs in that I usually have a basic concept of what a song will be about before we even hit the studio but this time I was more focussed on melody and then filled in the blanks. It is important for me as a lyricist to push myself and to write from different perspectives because having this be our sixth album it would be very easy to run the gambit of my normal go tos so it was important for me to do it with this process and I think that really helped me. Even though we used Pro Tools I still utilised the guys in the band’s brains. I think that it is important that we come together as a band and I bounce ideas off them. You know song writing is very intimate and as the song-writer I can be very biased towards my ideas, so to hear, I wanted to really hear this time around and I conveyed to our producer that I really wanted to hear what he didn’t like. I wanted to hear what he enjoyed and but I also wanted to hear truthfully and honestly. We’ll probably re-visit that method of standing up and jamming as a full band on the next record but it was important for us to gain a new perspective and a new approach because we felt that was the only way we were going to deliver a new feeling.”


So before the new album comes out and the guys head here O’Callaghan says he just wants to thank all their Australian fans. “I want to say a big thank you for the past ten years or so, spread the word about Lovely, Little, Lonely and spread the word about positivity and kindness.”


Lovely, Little, Lonely will be released on April 7th. The Maine will be touring alongside Neck Deep and All Time Low throughout May – check for all the dates.


Written by David Griffiths

Interview with DIRECTOR Richard Bates Jnr.

It is a very brave director who decides to try and create a film that not only contains elements of comedy but also remain a poignant film that makes its audience think. One director who has recently set out to achieve this feat is American director Richard Bates Jnr.


Australian film fans were first introduced to Bates several years ago at Monster Fest when his film Excision was presented to the audience but now he teams up with actor Adrian Grenier, who most people would know from hit series Entourage, to bring audiences his latest film Trash Fire. With the film now being released in Australia on DVD, we sat down with Richard to discuss the film in-depth.


As we start to talk about the fact that Richard both wrote and directed the film, he admits that the film did come from a dark place. “I was depressed, and I mean really upset, and I was like that for a year,” he explains. “So I wrote the film about depression, so I wrote these kind of quirky, funny depression like characters and I wanted them to show their selfishness and how wrapped up in your own problems depression can make you. So I wanted to hold up a mirror to people who are like that in the hope that they may see something of themselves in the movie and want to change.”

For a lot of screenwriters writing something very personal is the hardest thing that they can do but Richard says that wasn’t a problem for him here. “My first film Excision was pretty personal, but I had a bit of a rougher time on my second movie so I went into this one with the thought that I will never make another film again unless I can make it the way I made Excision. So the big difference between this movie and Excision is that Excision is a three-act movie, it has a beginning, a middle and an end, whereas Trash Fire is just a two-act movie. And the second act is really only ten minutes so as an audience you are really smacked in the face, and you’re shaken as we get our point across that sometimes it can be too late to change, so pull your head out.”


I can’t help but ask what the issues were that made his second film such a wild ride. “Well my first film was really personal, and I had final cut, it was a miracle, it was wonderful, but on my second film, there were all these things happening behind the scenes. There was interference. There were a lot of fights, and it didn’t end up being what I wanted it to be. The fact that I was never happy with it killed me inside quite frankly. So I didn’t want to do this one unless I could do it the way I did Excision and luckily I could, and again it was a miracle.”


Of course, a lot of people are going to be interested in the fact that Adrian Grenier is part of the cast, but Richard said he wasn’t always somebody that he imagined would be in the film. “I didn’t always imagine him in the role,” he says.

“I actually didn’t think of anybody in the role, to be honest; I hadn’t given a thought to cast at all when I was writing it. So the way I cast Excision and Suburban Gothic was to make it personal because I have already put so much of myself into it. So with Adrian these days everybody just knows him as the Entourage guy but the first independent movie that I saw him in was The Adventures Of Sebastian Cole, and that film meant something to me. So I said to him let’s go back to when you were taking all these chances and go with it. It turns out that he isn’t ‘this Entourage guy.’ I think Entourage is pretty specific because in that he sleeps with a lot of girls and hangs out with douchey guys and to people he has become that kind of character and I know that a lot of people love that show, but it’s not a kind of show that I particularly enjoy because I blame a lot of the hassles that I have to go through on that show existing. It’s meant that every single shithead in my country has moved to Hollywood just to get laid.”

So Adrian aside how did Richard go about casting the rest of the film? “Well, AnnaLynne McCord I put in because I trust her completely. We’re good friends, and I knew that she could pull that off. She will always push it right to the limit, and she will go to the depths of her soul to deliver, she is perfect for these kinds of characters. Likewise, Matthew Gray Gubler is one of my best friends, we both had pretty religious upbringings and Fionnula Flanagan I just love her. With things like Waking Ned Devine and that I knew she would be perfect to be the ‘someone’ commanding that I was looking for. When they drive back home, they are driving into another genre so there is 30-40 minutes of a romantic comedy, a dark romantic comedy and then they drive into a horror movie where everything is larger than life and exaggerated. I knew that Fionnula is somebody that could just chew scenery and intimidate them and she could just own every situation. She got the sense of humour immediately, and as soon as she read it, she called me and was laughing about all these things that people normally at her age wouldn’t even find remotely funny. With Angela Trimbur I met so many girls but Angela completely impressed me, and I could tell that if I could just put them all in the same room together that this thing would sell itself. This is the darkest comedy that you are ever likely to see and certainly the darkest I will ever make so just don’t watch it with your Mum… my Mum f**king hates it. But the main value is filmmaking is that you have to learn to ‘kill’ your parents. You can’t make a film for your family.”


Hot after winning an Audience Award at the Boston Film Festival Trash Fire is being released in Australia on DVD through Bounty Films.


Written by David Griffiths



“Mate, I don’t know whether you’ve seen the photos on Instagram but it was a great time,” enthused bass player and all round larrikin for King Parrot, Slatts, on their last overseas tour. “I had a massive hematoma on the side of my body. I got blackout drunk twice and I haven’t been that way since I was a teenager so I’m really settling in to adult life at 37 years of age (laughs).”


“It was awesome man,” he continued. “We were on tour with people that helped create and shape a genre of music. It was the first time that Exodus and Obituary have toured together. Obituary helped build that whole death metal scene in the States and obviously Exodus, shit, they are massive progenitors of thrash metal. Each of them have been together something like 37 years and you watch them and they are so tight it’s amazing. I actually didn’t even watch them for the first five nights and then when I finally did I was like fucken hell! Every night after that I would watch them play and then get on line and learn more about them. Even though I loved them as a kid it was just amazing. You see them with crowds and they just know how to work their shit.”


Touring through foreign countries can also give a band perspective on touring in local conditions, and when it comes to overseas hospitality compared to that at home Slatts says there are small areas where some, but not all, venues could improve in.


“Fucken oath!” he laughed. “They could all feed you every gig you play (laughs). They could provide accommodation at most venues. They could… nah, just feed me and give me a place to lie down (laughs).”


When I bring up free alcohol as well Slatts laughs before turning serious.

“Don’t ever drink with Polish women,” he almost whispered. “They drink way better than you and that’s how you end up blackout drunk…”


And is this outcome favourable or not?


“I honestly don’t know,” Slatts laughed again. “I’d have to consult the footage! I couldn’t even tell you the dates we did over there but basically we did seventeen countries in just under five weeks. We did about 15,000 kilometers, went through 4,500 litres of fuel and across that we had maybe three nights off. Obviously people who don’t work in the industry or haven’t toured like that say ‘you’ve just been on a holiday’ and I’m like fuck off with your holiday! Sure, I slept 23 hours of the day but it wasn’t a holiday. It’s not like you get to really experience most of the cities. You get to meet lots of great people and you start to get a very immediate sense of how people consume their music in different countries.”


You could be in Germany and the majority of people might prefer to stand and stare and watch and listen to it all but you can drive two hours down the road and play in another country and they are all going fucken spastic and stage diving and crowd surfing and that sort of stuff. It’s really interesting and a challenge for the way you perform – obviously you’ve seen us and we like to get people involved and we like to have people having to watch what’s going on because they never know what’s going to happen – but sometimes you have to work a little harder to make it happen.”


Another thing you learn on tours away from your comfort zone is about each other and what things make you tick or ticks you off, and Slatts says it all boils down to one major consideration. Space.


“We’ve been a band for six, maybe seven years and we’ve been touring together between six and seven months overseas every year for the last three so I think we’ve learnt a lot and certainly the most important thing is respect and giving each other space when no space actually exists. We were sharing a bus with Prong and, again, to me it’s awesome to be on a tour bus with these guys but you realize pretty quickly there’s certainly no privacy and you’ve just gotta… I know my personality and sometimes when I’m in the mood I like to be loud – okay, all the fucken time (laughs) – but sometimes I know it’s time to shut up and leave everyone alone.”


Through consistently good albums and a work ethic that is the envy of many up and coming bands, King Parrot have assumed the mantle as the kings of Australian metal, but Slatts says that although that may be true, it is not something the band members even consider.


“I still don’t feel that,” he countered. “I look at other bands and I get excited and I wanna be around them because they seem awesome. Recently we were in N.S.W and we played with a bunch of different local bands and it always comes back to the fact I am so stoked that I grew up in Australia because all my heroes, all my favourite bands in the world are from Australia. Of course not all of them, but the majority and it was cool to be in Wollongong and have three other bands from Melbourne playing because we never get to play with these guys. In Melbourne music is inclusive. We might play heavy metal but we hang out in places where you are talking to people like Dan Sultan or Dan Kelly or The Drones or whoever. Your peers are a wider group so to answer the question, it’s pretty great that we have established ourselves in bringing an underground, particularly disgusting and awful style of music to the people (laughs).”


(continued below)



So now that he has admitted to being somewhat of a role model to the up and coming metal musical generation, does Slatts feel like it’s time to actually… um… grow up?


“Fuck no!” he laughed. “I do feel an obligation to actually try and not be as much of a mess. I did mention I got blackout drunk a couple of times which I’m not actually proud of. When we started going overseas three years ago and doing shit… to get to the point where we actually respect each other and understand what people need while they are away we’ve fucked up a shitload. I don’t necessarily even drink when we’re away. We stay away from all temptations and that sort of thing because essentially while all of that is fucken great what’s the most important thing? The most important thing is to play our music. Honestly, I fucken love performing. It’s the best thing in the world and I hope that’s how we become cutting edge because of the commitment to actually doing the job as opposed to… I never understand why it’s sex, drugs and rock and roll. It should be rock and roll and everything else is kind of a bonus.”


To answer questions about the eagerly anticipated next album, vocalist Matt Young steps into the chair.


“We’re actually up at Bribie Island at the moment,” he began. “We’ve got a couple of QLD shows and they will be the last shows we play up here for quite some time I reckon. We’re doing a bit of jamming in a mates studio and we’re getting close to having all the writing finished and probably head into the studio in the next week or two and start laying down the real thing.”


For this, their third album, King Parrot return to their native country and local studio, namely Goatsound in Melbourne, with Youngy excited to be back on home turf after recording the last album overseas.


“It’s good to be doing it at home man,” he said happily. “We’ve been keeping a close eye on what Jason Fuller has been doing down there and some of the stuff he’s been putting out of that studio is really awesome. I think the King Parrot sound is really stooped in the Melbourne underground sound and scene and we’re heavily influenced by bands like Blood Duster and Damaged and Beanflipper and bands that came out of that 90’s scene and if anyone knows that sound it’s Jason.”

“We’re obviously not… we try to produce our own original sound but we certainly want to be influenced by the music that came out of Melbourne in the 90’s which is a huge part of what we grew up on. For us it’s very important and feels good to be able to record with someone who was there and right amongst it. For the most part what has come out of the new stuff so far with pre production has been really positive and there’s a few cracking tracks on there already so we’re getting excited to lay it down properly and then have a little break before we fire up again and get the new album machine rolling.”


“The new stuff is straight down the King Parrot direction,” Youngy continued. “I don’t think we’re gonna deviate too much from what we do (laughs). This time around… when we did the last record we had Toddy in the band for probably six months and we got straight into it and started writing and recording. I think this time around there’s a lot more chemistry in the band and we’re a lot more used to each other’s playing style. Obviously your drummer is a main component of the band and can change the feel of everything and I think now we’re much more comfortable with Toddy and we’ve had a lot more time to work on these songs and write them together. It’s been a really cool sort of process and I’m excited to get the songs out there. There’s a few little bits and pieces – nothing straying too far from the King Parrot formula – but I would hope to think there’s a general improvement all round in every aspect of the performance and the playing and the songwriting. I think that has come along in leaps and bounds. I think in some of the songs there’s even elements of simplicity that kind of harp back to rock and roll structures which we have always been a fan of. There’s also plenty of vicious, ferocious stuff as well (laughs). You get the whole spectrum of King Parrot on this new record.”


Written by Kris Peters

Photos by Carl Neumann at Unify ’17 for Rolling Stone


noun – information, especially of a biased or misleading nature, used to promote a political cause or point of view.

Listen to EzekieL OX  while you read.

Such is the dictionary definition of the word which is featured alongside a spray can with the words PROPER GANDER emblazoned across the front which is also the title of Ezekiel Ox’s new solo project that takes some of the best parts of his musical career and spits them through the nozzle in a pounding barrage of riffs, venomous lyrics and drum blasts.

Ezekiel Ox is not just a man who sings about things political, he is the embodiment of a political musician who is not afraid to share his views and beliefs with the world via his music and a man who stands proudly behind every word that escapes his lips.


“The title is a pretty basic pun,” he pointed out. “A proper gander is having a real good look at something, as in the Australian vernacular of the word, or the actual meaning of the word which is on the cover. I think that in this modern age the connotations are strong and whilst we are forced to confront a lot of propaganda and quite negative stuff about homeless people or refugees there’s a lot of stories also in the paper about why it doesn’t matter that working people get their penalty rates cut but we have the power to put our own propaganda out. We can look at it from our point of view and put our incredibly biased, and in my case incredibly rock and funk propaganda out there.”


The project, featuring Steve Smith (Briggs and Caiti Baker) on drums/vocals, Sarox Martin on bass/vocals and Leigh Davies (Sleep Parade, Lunar Sea) on guitar is yet another extension of Ox’s personality, but one which he feels needs no title aside from being his solo outing.


“The big reason is because I’m playing Mammal, Full Scale and Nerve songs with some new arrangements of old classics with the band,” he explained. “When you see us play live we play the E.P but we’ll also be going back through my four piece rock band catalogue because that’s what the band is. In the case of Nerve and Mammal those bands no longer exist so this is the only place you can hear those songs. With Full Scale me and Jimmy talked about it – because Full Scale is currently writing a new album – and Jimmy thought it was a great idea. He said he would really enjoy watching someone else interpret his music. The show is pretty much my legacy. It’s a four piece rock band which is the line up people know me for through these bands and I think there’s a certain purity to that. The main reason is because I wanted to play Mammal songs again but I didn’t want to be in Mammal (laughs).”


In another display of bucking conventional methods, Ox says that the recording process for the E.P was unlike anything he has done previously, but the results still speak volumes for the eclectic methods.


“Steve Smith and I locked ourselves in the studio to do the E.P and he played drums and I did vocals so we just freestyled a click track of rhythms and voice. Then we’d go back over the ten minute freestyle session and we’d cut them up and put them in song structures and hooks and then we put the guitars and the bass over it. Steve played the lion’s share of the guitar and bass as well as the drums and I played some guitars so it came about from kind of bringing music back to the source which I imagine before we had technology and electricity was the way it was done. You would have people singing and dancing and it would have been drums and hitting things with sticks and there would have been singing and dancing and that would have been the beginning of music. We started these rock songs like that and then we put these monstrous riffs in and then just really went hard on the politics because it’s my solo stuff and I’ve got so much to say there.”

With so many current and former projects on the go, it would be difficult for Ox to put his whole self into each one, although he admits after deliberation that each outlet is an extension of his personality.

“That’s an interesting one,” he mused. “I think they’ve all got things that are similar about them. Obviously the main one is they all have the same vocalist (laughs). Anyone that listens to everything I put out will realize how different they are but having said that I guess there’s an inherent creative aggression in what I do and the volume itself… Over Reactor has got a new album coming out midyear, Full Scale is writing again, Superheist is back in the studio and we have three new ones and another debuting soon, and then you have the solo thing… so I think the volume says something and it all sounds like my intensity and my work ethic and my aggression for life. I want to change the world and like so many thousands of others around the world I want to be with people who think we can win. There’s so many great people out there and if you’re willing to have a crack and not just sit back and say she’ll be right mate you can make albums with them, you can shut down intersections with them and you can organize with them. You just have to be willing.”


Fans of Ox and all of his above music get the chance to see him in action in the coming weeks with a show in Sydney on March 24 and Melbourne on April 1, with the Sydney show also doubling as birthday celebrations.


“I always like to play on my birthday,” he laughed. “I’ve done it every year for about the last six years but I always ask my manager to book it on that day if he can. It’s always good to play for yourself on your birthday, I would hate to not have a gig for it.”


Presently, there is only the two dates booked for the solo project, but Ox promises other states are firmly on his to do list.


“We’ve got to take it elsewhere,” he promised. “We’re getting a lot of chatter from Perth, Adelaide and Brisbane so we’ve got to get there eventually. We’re introducing a new guitar player for this tour and we’re also currently building our studio so there’s a bit going on but the best thing about the Ezekiel Ox project is it can’t break up! (laughs) Whatever happens I’m still gonna be playing Mammal songs and I’m still gonna be playing the new solo stuff. I’m gonna have a kick ass four piece rock band and I’ve got some of the most amazing musicians that are interested already and that will be playing so it’s really exciting. People know what they’re gonna get when they come. They’re going to get a good punk rock show with me out the front finding the highest thing I can and jumping off it!”


Written by Kris Peters


Interview with “Fifty Shades Darker’s” Dakota Johnson

Love it or hate but the Fifty Shades franchise is one of the biggest movie series in the world at the moment. As is the way with these blockbuster franchises they also make actors household. Think Harry Potter with Daniel Radcliffe and Emma Watson and think of Twilight with Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson and you’re on par with what Jamie Dornan and Dakota Johnson are going through at the moment.


Dornan is making a name for himself as the handsome, very sexual but also very damaged Christian Grey while Dakota Johnson plays Anastasia Steele the eager, young submissive that he has fallen in love with. Together they have become two of the most recognisable actors on the planet and now have a legion of fans behind the franchise.


While talking about the latest film in the franchise to hit cinemas – Fifty Shades Darker – Dornan says that appearing in the franchise and coping with its popularity has helped him form a special bond with co-star Dakota Johnson. “What’s a great thing about Dakota is that only she knows what I’m going through, and only I know what she is going through. We both really need each other through this process because there are days when it is not that easy, and there is a lot being asked of us. I think a lot is being asked of her, particularly with the physical stuff as she is normally wearing less of what I would be although that is kind of changing in these two movies but you need to have that person that understands and has been there with it since day one as well.”


One of the controversial storylines to surface in Fifty Shades Darker is the story of the fact Christian was sexually abused by his mother’s best friend Elena (Kim Basinger) so how does Dornan answer the question that a lot of fans are asking – ‘why doesn’t Christian just steer clear of Elena?’ “I think in some ways he still needs her,” says Dornan after some thought. “She still understands him; I think she is one of the only people that he can talk to. Christian really doesn’t have any friends, like he doesn’t have a group of guys that he grew up with like most normal people do. For me, I have the same group of mates I’ve had since I was a kid and I could call them up about anything, but he doesn’t have that support network. Elena he would use as that, someone to talk things through to you know, someone that can help him understand situations and someone that he feels understands him.”


That leads to asking about the damage that she has done to Christian which has left him with traits including his controlling personality. “There is a part of him that can be completely unhinged,” he says looking down. “To control that he is actually very controlling in everything that he does.

Of course, the other side to this love affair is Dakota Johnson’s Anastasia – so would she say Christian and Anastasia are firmly in love now? “There are components of sensuality and sexuality,” she agrees using her hands to illustrate the two sides. “But it is primarily a love story between people that are so intricate and so intelligent and so multi-faceted that even the different aspects of their personality and the different aspects of their life, whether they be family or work or sexual preferences are all kind of in orbit around the fact that they are just madly, deeply, fiercely, severely in love with each other.”


That statement might confuse those who are of the belief that the relationship ended in the final scenes of the last film so what brings Christian and Anastasia back together this time around? “They decide that they will try and work things out if he becomes more honest and open with her,” Johnson explains. “That was really all she wanted in the first place. How the last film ended was quite heavy on Anastasia, and I think that the fact that it was so intense and such an awful thing happened, and she still wants to go back, so that is a real testament to just how strong their love is.”

In the early days of the franchise, a lot of people criticised it for being sexist yet along the way we have seen Anastasia grow as a character that is something that Johnson agrees with. “I feel so lucky to be able to play a young woman who not only experiences so much and has such a journey but also becomes someone of such honour and substance and grace and elegance, and there is nothing thankless about her, and I love that. In the first movie Anastasia is quite nubile and innocent and virginal and soft, and I think through this exploration of her love for this man and through her exploration of herself and what she wants in her life, whether that is becoming a figure of authority in her workplace and also becoming more comfortable with her sexuality I think she discovers this strength within her is so extreme and is so powerful and that makes her be able to match Christian.”


The big change this time around is the inclusion of experienced director James Foley, and Johnson says he was great to work with, something that added with her trust for Jamie Dornan helped throughout the film. “Jamie is this wonderful, hilarious and talented human and we also have this kind of friendship that is… we built it around trusting each other so it wasn’t something that was like ‘oh I realise years later that I can trust you.’ Foley is a really great director, and he has such trust with his cast members that it sort of instills this kind of freedom, and that’s really lovely, and he’s a really nice person, and he is nice to be around, and he doesn’t have this outrageous personality and he isn’t like… you know. The set has a very, very mellow vibe.”


Fifty Shades Darker is in cinemas now.


Written by David Griffiths