On Saturday 24th August, metal events in Malta will be given both a new meaning and a newer perception!! Celtic heavy metal band SIROCCO will be visiting the Maltese islands for a night that should be written in the history of the local metal events.
Formed in 2003, SIROCCO has played in over 100 shows, including supporting acts to MEGADETH, WASP and Exodus. We caught up with Jim Tobin, Guitarist of Sirocco for a One-on-One interview about the band and their upcoming event.
Thank you for allowing us to interview you. For those who don’t know, could you introduce your band members to our readers?
Hi Jeremy, thanks for the opportunity. Sure – Sirocco was formed in February 2003 by myself and a few local musicians (who didn’t last too long) in our small town of Lismore. We played a few small pub gigs, doing some Metallica and Alice in Chains covers before the other guys left, leaving me as the only original member.
By June, I had written some original songs and invited a friend, John Owens, to come and record some lead tracks. Our playing styles and love for balls out heavy metal clicked together straight away, almost to the point where we knew what each other was thinking when we jammed on new material, so of course we continued on to write three albums together.
Rob Kiernan joined us on drums a few weeks later. He was skeptical at the start, of joining the band full time, but it’s been 10 years now and he’s still with us. I think we’re very lucky for that because it’s his time signatures that give us our “galloping” sound. Most of our songs were written with a completely different tempo in mind. I think you’ll also be surprised to see how hard he hits live – nothing in half measures as the saying goes.
Ciaran O’ Cearuill joined us at the end of 2004 on bass. He had been a guitarist with a few other local bands before that, and he hated being relegated to the role of “bass player”, but over time he’s come to enjoy it. We spent 3 years looking for a singer to complete the puzzle, until Ciaran finally decided to try out. The 4 of us are all from the same town and went to school together so we were already quite close – it would never have felt right to bring in someone from outside our group, so to have Ciaran take over the vocal duties was a perfect fit.
In 2011, John left the band to move to France and Padge Maderson took over lead guitar duties (Padge has also been a good friend of ours for quite a while, and I think he was also one of John’s guitar students, so it made sense in terms of his playing style).
‘Sirocco’ a Mediterrenean Wind that comes from the Sahara and reaches hurricane speeds in North Africa and Southern Europe (thank you WIKIPEDIA). Why did you choose this name?
This was really a desperate attempt to find a name as quickly as possible so we could get out and start playing some gigs. We wanted something that was synonymous with “destruction” or “disaster”, and we found this word “Sirocco” in the thesaurus. In retrospect we could have researched it a bit more, but I’m happy with what we’ve accomplished under this name, and hopefully the music can speak for itself.
As I’ve read on your Website, you define your band as having the music genre of ‘Celtic Heavy Metal’, where did this style derive from? Did you always play CHM or did your style evolve through the years?
Our original motto was “Celtic Thrash Metal”. John brought a big thrash metal influence to the band whereas mine was more traditional heavy metal. The Celtic lead parts started when we wrote “Christian Cry” and “Abyss”, which were influenced a bit by Thin Lizzy and Iron Maiden, and from there we continued in that style. Of course I mentioned earlier, Rob’s time signatures played quite a part in the sound as well, as did Ciaran’s bass lines which really work to carry our twin lead parts. By the time the third album was completed, there was very little thrash in it – it was mostly heavy metal, bordering on rock. So after a few reviewers couldn’t find the thrash that we suggested, we changed it to “Celtic Heavy Metal”.
What were the main influences that led you here?
Our influences have always covered a broad range – For me it’s Accept and Thin Lizzy, and a lot of melody from Rotting Christ, but also a lot of Irish metal bands that I listened to as a teenager (Carnun Rising and Belinus were huge to me). Ciaran is a big fan of Megadeth, John of Slayer, and Rob of Tool. We also had common influences from Metallica, Iron Maiden, etc..
If you had to deliver your biggest ‘fuck you’ ever, it will be directed at?
I have thought quite a bit about this question, and as much as I would love to name someone, we’ve really been very lucky in our career so far. Our promoters, bookers, bands we’ve worked with have all been really great to us. Maybe we’re too relaxed to let the little things bother us, but mainly, our goal is to play as many new places and make as many new friends as possible – we’re musicians, not politicians.
What do you think about music in general nowadays?
I think the game has completely changed – with youtube, bandcamp, etc, there is so much more opportunity to discover these great bands that we would otherwise have never heard. And that works for people discovering our music too. In fact we encourage people to download our music if they can find it – if you like it, come to our gigs or buy a shirt. We released it so people can hear it, not to make money from it. But something I’ve noticed is that there are no new rock legends out there – it goes without saying that there will never be another Lemmy, Dio or Phil Lynott, but I can’t think of anyone from this era that even comes close. Maybe it’s a sign of the times we live in.
What are your expectations and what will you be looking forward to the most in this event?
We’re very excited to play in Malta for the first time, and to play at the launch night for the new Metall Insula promotion – even more so that we get to play at the old military prison on an open air stage. It’s quite a rare thing for us to play outside because it always rains in Ireland. I just hope that people will come and support and that the metal scene in Malta will continue to thrive.
Will your performance be featuring work from your first, second, or third album?
We’ll definitely be playing a mix of songs from all of our albums, but we’re going to mix it up a little bit this time. We have a 10th anniversary Irish tour coming up at the end of this year, so I’ve asked the guys to fly in a few days early to rehearse some songs that we haven’t played in 5 or 6 years, and some that we’ve never played live at all. So this show in Malta will be a special one!
What should the Maltese metalheads be expecting from you guys?
Expect it to be loud and epic.
Everyone should come to this gig because it is the birth of a new era of heavy metal in Malta. Only through the support of the Maltese metal community can the promotion expand to bring over bigger, more established bands. Also because you have 3 awesome Maltese bands on the show who have been practicing very hard to leave you with an experience that you won’t soon forget.
And on that note, as Jim pointed out, we must not forget that there is going to be some really awesome local talent at the gig. Names, which are pretty familiar with the local underground music. The rest of the line up for the night includes: Heavy Metal band ‘12th Ode’, Heavy Desert Rock band ‘It came from the desert’ and Thrash Metal band ‘WAR TRIGGER’. 12th Ode and WAR TRIGGER were each asked what the crowd can expect and they had this to say:
Well basically, four bands will be playing at this event: Sirocco, It Came From The Desert, 12th Ode, and us, War Trigger. The crowd should be expecting a wide range of sounds, from Desert Rock, NWOBHM (New Wave of British Heavy Metal), Thrash Metal, and Celtic Heavy Metal. This means that the event will cater for the musical tastes of most metal fans on the island and hopefully, attract some new people to the scene. Overall, it should give the metal scene in Malta a bit of a push, and of course, we want to see the crowd getting thrashed and enjoying themselves!
The next gig will feature a mix of originals and covers, including some tracks which we’ll be doing for the very first time live. Expect your usual loud classic metal sound, so get ready to head bang! This gig also marks a debut for a new addition to the band’s line up, however we’ll leave that as a surprise for our friends! Looking forward to play at this gig with such a strong line up.