Download festival 2015: behind the scenes Q&As 3

Download festival 2015: behind the scenes Q&As

Backstage at Download Festival 2015: a hive of bands, publicists, and photographers all milling around, working but still enjoying the same buzz of the weekend as the fans out front. We caught up with members of H.E.A.T., September Mourning, Pop Evil, Testament and The Qemists to chat about all things rock’n’roll.

First up were  Eric Rivers (Guitar) and Jona Tee (Keyboards) of Swedish rock band H.E.A.T.

H.E.A.T_Download 2015_c

So where in Sweden are you guys from?
JT: Stockholm

How does the Swedish music scene differ from the UK scene?
ER: I think less people go to gigs in Stockholm, at least bigger gigs, as they’re so expensive. There’s a lot of hipster bands in Stockholm right now.

Is it true you entered for the 2009 Eurovision?
JT: Yes, though we weren’t in the finals. We got a lot of mainstream radio attention.

What’s the best and worst thing about touring?
ER: The asphalt, just the road going on and on… The best thing is playing each night, obviously.

How do stave off boredom?
ER: Porn!

Did you know each other growing up?
JT: Yeah, there were two different camps in our school: team ‘Maiden’ and team ‘Metallica’.

If you were on Game of Thrones, who would you be?
JT: Oh, he’d be Jon Snow, ’cause…the hair.
ER: You’d be Tyrion, ’cause of your mouth.

To find out more and listen to H.E.A.T. visit their site.


September Mourning are a very theatrical American Rock band; imagine the offspring of an unholy union between Marilyn Manson and Lady Gaga. We chatted with singer Emily Lazar about her influences and her comic book crossover.

Emily Lazar from Spetember Mourning

So how has Download Festival been for you?
EL: It’s been great! It’s our first time playing in the UK and Download’s an amazing festival.  It brings a lot of people together for rock, so that’s always a good thing.

September Mourning is producing a comic together with Marc Silvestri, how’s that going?
EL: Marc is amazing! He’s one of my personal favourite comic book artists, especially because he develops female characters that are super strong, intelligent and sexy.  Working with him has been a dream.

How did the writing process go with your album?
EL: Oh, it was great!  I wrote with a bunch of different people; a lot with Sahaj Ticotin from the band Ra. He’s kind of like my main writing partner.

So how does it work?  Do you sit down with guitars? Make loops on your computer?
EL: It kind of depends on the song.  Usually I come up with the lyrical ideas and the drive of the song. I usually bring in choruses, and then he’s like, “Oh, what if we do this?”  So, we start with the chorus and develop the song from there.

What were your musical influences in your teenage years?
EL: My mom liked Souxsie and the Banshees, and David Bowie.  She was into musical theatre and my dad was a jazz pianist, but my uncle liked only Death Metal.  So basically that’s what I became, in a weird, sort of messed up way.

Where did you get the idea to cover ‘Stand by me’?
EL: First of all, I love the lyrics of that song.  They say it’s a ‘coming of age’ song, but I don’t get that at all.  To me, it’s super creepy.  So the spirit of this changes the song for me.  We changed the tempo and we made it our own; something very ‘September Mourning’, something a ‘Reaper’ would sing.

So a Reaper is the character you play?
EL: Yes, September is a human/Reaper hybrid.  Reapers have no humanity; they’re the soldiers of Fate.  September fell in love with a Reaper and he sacrificed his power for her.  She’s like, “Hey, I don’t want to take souls and not give them a chance to do what they want,” and that totally screws up Fate, who then sends all these Reapers to get her.  That’s the story in a nutshell.

Is there any other bands you want to see today?
EL:  I’ve never seen Kiss live, so that’d be great.

Finally, do you have any other plans for the rest of the year?
EL: We’re going to be touring in the fall and we’re releasing an EP.  Everything’s coming together and it’s really exciting!

To find out more and listen to September Mourning visit their site.


Hailing from Michigan, heavy rockers Pop Evil had an early start at Download. We had a word with guitarist Nick Fuelling about life on the road and his approach to the music.

Nick from Pop EvilHow has Download been for you so far?
N: It’s been awesome. We got here yesterday so we’ve spent a lot of time just hanging with bands, meeting friends and stuff. We played a show this morning and it was absolutely awesome.

Why were you on so early?
N: We’ve definitely done it before at a lot of the festivals, especially back in the states. We’ve been the ‘Breakfast band’ before, so to speak. It’s a thing to be able to get people warmed up, and we take pride in being able to do that.

Tell me a bit about ‘The Big House’.
N: Ah, ‘The Big House’… It was a song that the band did for the University of Michigan.  It was done before I joined the band, but I’ve had my fair share of playing it.  It’s one of those ones that, if we’re in Michigan, we might play it and people always love it.

Are there any favourite songs in the set?
N: It depends.  Today we only had about six or seven songs, so they’re all favourites.

Any plans for the rest of the year?
N: A lot of touring; we’re on the European leg right now.  Then we’ve got a couple of dates with Marilyn Manson and some headline shows as well.  Then we get home and we’ve about a week off before heading out for pretty much the rest of the year in the States.

Any other bands you’re looking forward to seeing here today?
N: Tons!  We just saw 36 Crazyfists, and I hope to see Tremonti. Obviously Kiss – never seen them and I’ve been a fan for a long time.

Do you have any pre-show rituals?
N: Everyone does their own thing.  For the most part, we put on a Sevendust song and get amped up right before we hit the stage.

What are the upsides and downsides of tour bus life?
N: Well we don’t have to drive anymore, plus everything you need is right there.  The downsides are that it’s cramped, you get a lot of people in there and there’s not much space.

Where would you most like to play?
N: We haven’t been a lot of places, but I’ve always wanted to play Japan and South America.

I’ve noticed you’re a fan of the Digitech Whammy Pedal?
N: Yeah, I use it a lot, but I forgot my power supply for it this time, so I’ve been having to use my whammy bar.

What sort of guitars/effects do you use?
N: I’ve a few: a PRS, got some Les Pauls, some Fenders.  I like to keep a wide variety.  Effects are pretty simple.  I’ve been running an Axe-Fx so it’s got everything right there in the box.

I’ve noticed a lot of bands feel they don’t have to have a full cab on stage anymore.
N: Yeah, everything goes direct into the front of house.  It’s very simple and it’s foolproof.

To find out more and listen to Pop Evil visit their site.


Legendary Bay Area thrashers Testament have been banging out the riffs consistently for over thirty years. Guitarist and founding member Eric Peterson shared the secrets of their longevity.

eric peterson

How have the line-up changes affected Testament over the years?
EP:  It’s definitely been a good thing.  Most of the changes have been on the drums and what that has done is make the band heavier. It’s made me more adventurous with my riffs and what I want to do with the music. I started the band so I have a vision of just being heavy, heavy and melodic.

So you’re the boss?
EP:  I don’t carry that hat around but, yeah, I am.  I don’t enforce it.

Going back to the drums, how is it having Gene in the band? (Gene Holgan, ex- Strapping Young Lad, Fear Facory, Death and countless other bands).
EP:  Of all the drummers that we have had Gene is the one that can accomplish anything. He’s super heavy but smooth.

Can you tell me a little about your early influences?
EP:  I remember getting my first (Iron) Maiden record.  For me, it was that, Punk Rock and Judas Priest.

How has touring for Testament changed over the years?
EP:  Well, we’re all getting older.  When I started I was still living at my mom’s so I couldn’t wait to leave. Now I’m older and I got my own house, I wanna go home and fix my house. But when I get out here and play onstage, I love it!

Are you going into the studio again this year?
EP:  Sometime after September.  We don’t really know what it’s going to sound like ’til it’s done. It always gets changed at the last minute.

How are you getting on with writing at the moment?
EP:  I try to come up with as much stuff as I can.  Alex (Skolnick) tends to come up with the more melodic stuff, which it’s totally different.  You have to transpose it into metal.  I think both of us complement each other. Like I listen to Mayhem and Dimmu Borgir, Anaal Nathrakh, Arianna Grande. I’m all over the planet; I listen to music.  He’s more of a jazz guy, a ‘musician-y’ guy, and that’s what makes Testament kind of fucking work.

Finally, if you were on Game of Thrones who would you be?
EP:  I would have been dead a long time ago. I would have been Eddard Stark.

To find out more and listen to Testament visit their site.


Finally, we asked Liam Black of Brighton based drum & bass rockers The Qemists a few questions about his writing and collaborating with Mike Patton.

Liam from the Qemists

Can you tell us how you hooked up with Mike Patton on the track ‘Lost Weekend’?
L:  We’d written this instrumental and given it to our label, which at the time was Ninja Tune.  We needed a vocal, and one of the guys in America had said, “Have you thought about sending it to Mike Patton?” We were like, “No, but is that possible?”.   So he said, “Yeah, we’ll get it to him”.  We heard nothing for awhile and thought it was just one of those things. Then somebody said ‘oh yeah, he’s done it’.

It sounds quite seamless.
L:  He just went on what we gave him, and we went on what he gave us back. We didn’t change very much. It’d be nice to meet him at some point, just to say ‘Hi’.  But he was cool, very down to earth, and ultimately professional.  It’s just a testament to someone like that.  At the time we didn’t even have an album out, we were completely unknown and he just went on the strength of the music he was hearing. That says a lot about somebody.

Is your writing process guitar-orientated or more about the technology?
L:  It depends.  I’m a guitar player so sometimes I might come up with a riff.  But then I want to translate it quite quickly into a medium I can work on the computer with.

So for example, the riff on ‘Stompbox’ – would that be you?
L:  Actually that was Leon, the drummer.  He cut up some guitar samples and played it on a keyboard.  Then I came in and made it ‘whole’ or ‘real’.  So we’re all in a position to write riffs, there aren’t boundaries between the three of us. It’s about what makes the best record at the end of the day. Normally, it’s one person who takes an idea to a conceptual level.  Then it’s like ‘what do you reckon?’  If it’s got legs then we all get involved.

So how does that translate to playing live?
L:  We have two laptops connected to synths.  Dan has free reign on that so he’s able to trigger things live.  Leon has an acoustic kit, which is mic’d but also triggered, which is paramount to us getting the sound we need.  Our engineer is very skilled so he can balance the live element of the kit and processed signal part.  Then I play through a guitar modeller, which gives me the flexibility of Midi controllers and I also run my signal into a laptop onstage, which allows me to process the guitar sound even more. It took a lot of time to build, and a lot of thought into how we can maintain the liveness without sacrificing the sonics. We’ve always wanted to maintain the sonics of dance music in a rock environment.

Finally, what are your plans for the rest of the year?
L:  We just put down the mouse and keyboard on the third album: it’s finished, ready to go. We’re just working with management and promoters, planning the end part of the year and next year for touring.

To find out more and listen to The Qemists visit their site.


Photo credits: Peter Noble, Mark Williams

Read our full review of Download 2015 HERE.

God is in the TV is an online music and culture fanzine founded in Cardiff by the editor Bill Cummings in 2003. GIITTV Bill has developed the site with the aid of a team of sub-editors and writers from across Britain, covering a wide range of music from unsigned and independent artists to major releases.