INTERVIEW: Jason Mendonca & David Gray – Akercocke

AKERCOCKE are one of the gems of the British extreme metal scene. The band’s unique blend of savage riffs, guttural growls and progressive sequences set the band apart amongst their peers and to great effect; hailed by fans and press alike. Four years have passed since the band decided to disband but this year, after a series of cryptic clues, AKERCOCKE roared back into the scene. Now, after a performance at this year’s Bloodstock Festival and a headlining tour under their belt, the band are truly back. We caught up with guitarist/vocalist Jason Mendonca and drummer David Gray on the last night of the headline tour in Manchester (read our review here) to talk about the band’s return, their upcoming new album and the reception of AKERCOCKE‘s return.

So to start, I’d like to go back to when you guys broke up originally in 2012, what was the mood of the band at the time?

Jason: Well, we never really broke up really, we just sort of ground to a halt to be honest. From my perspective, I had far too much on my plate generally, I couldn’t commit to the band 100% so that meant I didn’t want to do it at all so it’s that simple. But the other guys, they cracked on and David, Sam and Peter formed VOICES, so they forged on in different directions with their music, it was just that I wasn’t able to participate at that time.

And then with the reunion that came about, it was all through cryptic clues that you sent to people. Where did that idea originate from?

Jason: Well, you have to spice things up a little bit haven’t you? To try and generate interest and get a buzz about what you are doing so, it was fun doing that! We had our little AKERCOCKE arts and crafts session, the boys would come over and we’d drink tea, it was like Blue Peter.

David: It wasn’t quite like Blue Peter!

Jason: But yeah, it was great fun!

So with all the clues, they were all shared across social media. Do you feel that if social media didn’t exist, the clues wouldn’t of had they impact they had?

Jason: I have no idea, I can’t really speak for the other guys but I’ve got no idea about social media. I use BookFace to keep in touch with my friends and family because it is convenient but we have someone who does all the Instagram and Twotter, have you got an view on it Dave?

David: I think it is like anything, when we first started to write music, you write music and it is just something you do. As soon as you release that, everyone has an opinion on it. I started the Facebook page when I was on holiday and it was just one of those random things where I just started to collect the information and that was it.

Jason: Where were you on holiday?

David: Marrakech! But again, like now we have someone who looks after it and sees the traffic, is that the word you would use? It’s like something else, it has a life of its own. Even things like going into your messages and it just too much! I’d love to speak to all these people but we just don’t have time. It’s like the band isn’t it? It becomes something for other people, that we share.

Jason: The Facebook messages I often answer personally, if I’ve got a bit of time I’ll login and have a look because you maintain that contact with your fans that you wouldn’t have otherwise so it keeps that communicative channel if you will. But the relevance of it? I’m sure that is well documented, for my part we just concentrate on heavy metal really.

Speaking of focusing on new music, AKERCOCKE are working on a new record, which is the first record in nine years.

David: By the time it comes out, it will be ten years!

That leads onto my next point, do you have a release date in mind?

Jason: Spring next year.

I was going to say, is there a pressure for the new record?

Jason: No, not at all.

David: Even with release dates, the thing for us is that we can be happy knowing we’ve done our best as opposed to it has to go out on this date. In the past we’ve probably been guilty of getting records done under pressure or whatever but not in an artistic way. The most important thing is that we make a record that we think is really good and then when it’s done get it out there!

Jason: Our MO has hardly changed in 20 fucking years. We still rehearse in the same place we always have and a lot of the creative process is centred around that, particularly the location. The personnel is largely the same so it therefore follows that the way in which the material is created is in our own little bubble. But we are all excited by it.

So it is very much you are picking up where you left off?

Jason: In a way yeah, I think there has been some conscious thoughts that move around driving the project forward but that’s again, very much part of the MO.

Since you guys have come back, you’ve done this headline tour and you’ve played Bloodstock Festival in the summer just gone and you’ve got Damnation coming up as well. Have you been happy with the reception towards the shows you have done so far?

Jason: It’s been outstanding! It’s been overwhelming, having been away from this environment for so long, to come back and have the reception we’ve received in every location has been nothing short of phenomenal. I can’t express enough how grateful and how big an inspiration it has been for us to have that reception.

Well brilliant, thank you for talking to Distorted Sound and best of luck for the future guys!

AKEROCKE perform at this year’s Damnation Festival. Tickets are still available here.

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