That Ginge Knievil’s at it again for a Mass Movement interview first with Rhys Harris from new Welsh punks Ill Fate. Get ready to pogo!
Interview by Ginge Knievil.
MM: Alright, Rhys? Who are Ill Fate? Let the world know!
RH: [laughs] Some sort of punk rock band we hope! Basically, a 3 piece band comprising of me on bass, Owen on guitar and Will on the drums. Shit man, he’s such a great drummer; the best drummer BY FAR that I’ve played with. Always wanted to be in a band with a genuine punk drummer who can double-time like a beast. The pink fluffy zebra striped drum kit is a happy bonus.
MM: I’m surprised our paths haven’t crossed on the South Wales punk circuit before. Well, they might’ve; I was probably drunk! Were you guys in any bands previously?
RH: Prior to us forming last summer, I hadn’t played in a band for around 8 years; proper Billy No-Mates. I played in bands since I was 16 though. My first band was a metal band called New Breed, we had 2 songs Murder Mayhem Anarchy War (which we called WAMM!), and a fast thrash song called Cromwell Street. We sucked but we loved those days in Dave Cotgrave’s mum’s garage. After that I formed a punk rock band with some mates called Casual Knitwear. We supported a local band in the Midlands for a while called GASH. I recently found their first album on Spotify, you need to hear their song Townie!
Anyway, following my Fine Art Degree I moved home to Cardiff. I was in a band for a while called Black Anemone. I wrote loads of songs for them with an old school friend, but he was far too into chilled indie stuff for me and there I was trying to bring in the punk influence. It didn’t work! So he left, the drummer joined another band and in a way I was glad. I carried on writing my own songs, just for me. Life was mega busy, having kids and paying the horrendous mortgage – you know the score! I always knew I’d get back into the punk scene one day though.
As for the other lads, they’ve been pretty consistent. Will played in a ska punk band called Sterilizers for a while and a band called Frontrunner. Owen’s been on a power metal bender for years! He spent a decent amount of time playing in the metal bands Triaxis and Serpentine, but I know he’s always had a penchant for punk rock!
MM: You’ve not long released your debut EP, Times Got Tough. I know you guys recorded it yourselves and it was initially intended to be a demo but the results exceeded that. Was this due to financial restraints, was it a pure DIY ethic, or something else?
RH: It started as just the need to have a demo of the songs so people knew what we sounded like and we could use that to get shows, but as we started recording we realised it could be a bit more than that because actually the songs were ready to go out. The DIY concept is really important to us because we want our songs to represent ourselves, not anyone else’s idea of who we are. The other thing is the fact that Owen is a whizz-kid at the home recording shit. He’s absolutely essential to this band due to the fact we are so so skint [laughs]. He studied music production at uni so he knows a decent amount about recording.
MM: When I reviewed the EP I mentioned that you’d probably be swimming against the tide. I didn’t mean that as a derogatory comment, but there’s not many bands doing what you do. I guess you don’t hamper to trends. Would that be a fair assessment?
RH: I dunno man, I guess the scene is quite hardcore at the mo. We have written a few harder tunes, but the melodic sort of American influenced style I guess is just something that we love. For us, this was just the right time to write these songs. I know there were things that Owen needed to deal with and things that he wanted to express that he couldn’t do in the bands he’d been in before. We’ve spoken about it a lot; I have my own issues too. We probably aren’t gonna be writing songs about trying to get a date for the prom but that’s because it’s not who we are rather than deliberately thinking about trends. If it was 1989 and we were in California maybe you’d be asking us why we were ripping off everyone else! Our style wasn’t a conscious decision either, we both love bands like NOFX and No Use For A Name. I grew up listening to Green Day and Silverchair, you know, the post grunge scene from the mid 90s onwards. It was around that time I learnt guitar and penned my first few songs as a kid, I guess that’s just carried on, you know?
MM: Ill Fate are now a few gigs old. How have the shows gone thus far and what’s the response been like?
RH: We are officially 5 shows old! The last gig at The Globe [Cardiff] was the best yet. Big crowd, huge sound, Will was a demon, loads of smiling faces, especially when we played Nukes of Hazard and Your Band – a song basically ripping into the Facebook narcissistic generation of bands. We’ve had mostly great comments from punters, some have said no-one is doing what we are doing. I take this as a huge compliment!
MM: Many will draw comparisons to Pennywise, NOFX et al, but are there any influences outside of the genre you play?
RH: Maybe, yeah. I listen to Wonk Unit a lot, they’re cool. My fav song from them is Old Trains. I think maybe it’s because it reminds me of when I was a kid, but I love the strings in it and the acoustic vibe – love that song! But generally, I love their originality. Just heartfelt songs crossing over a range of styles yet still retaining that punk edge. The harder, but very funny, Pizzatramp are another band that I can say personally have impressed me. Though a lot more thrashy than us, some of their lyrics are very clever, for example, My Back’s Fucking Fucked. I mean that genuinely! I think it’s hard to find lyrics that smash you in the face like that. I defo try to find a similar impact in some of the songs we pen.
There’s definitely some metal influences, some grunge, a bit of pop and folk all thrown into the mix. The 90s’ punk is clearly the strongest, but really we’re happy with throwing different bits around and just seeing what sounds best. Sometimes it’s heavier, sometimes its lighter. I guess the point is whatever works really, without sounding too similar to the last tune!
MM: Quick fire time! 60 seconds to name the line-up in your dream band.
RH: [laughs] I love this question. First guy that comes to mind is Dimebag Darrell on lead. Then, let’s have Donald Tardy on drums – I’m a huge Obituary fan! Err, Lemmy on bass just ‘cos he’s Lemmy, and Tim Armstrong from Operaton Ivy / Rancid on vox. Under pressure, I’ve created a sort of metal punk fusion band [laughs].
MM: What’s next for Ill Fate?
RH: We’re about to record our debut album. We’ve got 17 tracks going onto it, 7 of which no-one has ever heard before as we’ve never played them live yet. Not that many people have even seen us play live yet! It’s planned to come out this year once we’ve done a few more shows. We are gonna probably need help from a label for PR and distribution and all that stuff, but that’s another conversation!
Our next show is in London at one of the Punk Rock BBQ sessions at The Windmill on the 27th May. There’s talk of a bus heading down there with a bunch of friends; make a day of it. I think we’re gonna headline too. It’s gonna be a challenge to stay sober enough to make it to our set!
We’re also hoping to get on a couple of compilations too. There are plans for a charity show in Fuel Rock Bar [Cardiff] later in the year and to make a compilation CD to raise money for Help For Heroes.
MM: Thanks for chatting to Mass Movement Rhys, It’s really appreciated. As always with these interviews, the final words are yours. Go!
RH: If you like what you hear, tell your friends about us! Also, we are making an acoustic song and plan to film it while busking in Cardiff. It’s a pre-album song, basically introducing the band and our ethos, so look out for it in a couple weeks and share it with EVERYONE!
Check out Ill Fate here