Bloodyard Speak To SonicAbuse

Proud purveyors of the finest heavy fucking metal and formed in 2010, Bloodyard have already forged an impressive reputation for themselves; playing Bloodstock in 2015 and sharing stages with the likes of Savage Messiah, Evil Scarecrow and Meta-stasis. Dealing in brutal death metal, the band are fronted by Donna Hurd who’s description in the bio accurately refers to her as a vehement banshee. This year the band played a storming set at Hard Rock Hell metal, in Birmingham, and we had the opportunity to interview both Donna and drummer Matty Lee.

So the first question is about recording. You had the ‘dark rage’ EP in 2015 and you’ve subsequently been working on material, but so far nothing’s finished?

Donna: Was it in between or after when we attempted to record an album? Technically we recorded an album but it wasn’t working out in terms of the mix and it just wasn’t how we wanted it to sound at all and in the end we ended up parting ways with the person that we were recording it with. On our part, amicably, we just… it didn’t represent us at all. So we had to sacrifice that entire recording, it was a big chunk of time, a big chunk of effort… a big chunk of effort. It was a year’s worth of traction, where we could have been gigging and people could have been learning about us and things. Lesson learned really. But yeah, I can’t remember if that was between the two EPs…

Matty: It was – we’d just recorded ‘set to fall’ and it sounded really good. Then we tried it again and it wasn’t… so good

Donna: That’s why we’re trying somewhere else next time.

Matt: So we recorded ‘Darker rage’ at the Lancaster College, which was really nice. Nice room, nice space… a lot better than where we rehearse which is a little bit of a…

Donna: Well, it’s metal isn’t it?

Isn’t it all band rooms that are just grungy and horrific?

Donna: Well the problem is that, many, many years ago, it was the place to be but it doesn’t get any funding. All the funding it gets is what bands put into it, the council doesn’t support it at all. In fact they want rid of it, effectively. They’ve been fighting to get rid of it for a long time…

Matty: It is, more or less, a derelict building.

Donna: The problem’s the roof isn’t it? If they fixed the roof, it’d stop leaking, it’d stop trashing everything else, but they need the money to do that which they don’t have from the struggling bands that are just there recording and practicing.

That seems to be a general problem – music production in England isn’t supported by the state at all is it?

Donna: No.

So in terms of the album, you’ve got the songs down and, obviously, it’s such a  sacrifice having to sack that off, are you going to try to redo the album, or are you going to start over?

Donna: We’ve already written new songs. I think the plan is that, this summer, we’re going to bite the bullet and invest… because if you don’t invest in the band, then who’s going to? So we’re going to invest, we’re going to record and certainly attempt an extended release, hopefully an album. That’s the plan. That’s what we’re hoping for. But it’ll be songs that would never have been on that original recording.

In terms of traction, you said that you lost a lot of traction doing the album, but then you’re here playing Hard Rock Hell and you seem to have shared a stage with a lot of well-known bands, so you have made headway…

Donna: Considering we have two recordings…

Matty: It’s a massive cliché, but it’s made us stronger. It’s bought us together as a band having these bad experiences.

Donna: We’re quite old fashioned in a lot of ways in which we’ll play… we’ll do the groundwork, we’ll go to gigs, we’ll travel around, we’ll invest in ourselves in the hope that people will feel the same way about it and reciprocate. Hopefully this year we’ll give them something that we can really market and see if we can progress a bit further.

Matty: We need to make something that we’re proud of. We’re proud of what we’ve done previously, but this next one is something of which we’ll feel even more proud… prouder… prouderer… even more prouderer [at this point Matty overheats and has to be rebooted] Sorry for my poor grammar…

Donna: we always say something stupid in interviews… It’s like Grammar Jenga…

Speaking of which, I believe that you, Donna, are a teacher in a behavioural unit?

Donna: I do, I work in a Catholic high school believe it or not…

So, I was wondering… when you teach, you put on a persona, which is how you portray yourself to students, and being a singer in a band is not dissimilar in the way that you adopt a persona and I was wondering how the two feed into one another?

Donna: Do you know, you’re not wrong at all. In terms of working… not in a classroom as such, but my little cave, as I like to call it, my behavioural unit… it’s a very professional front, obviously, I have to keep quite stern with the kids because they’re there to be punished, although that doesn’t mean I have to be horrible to them at the same time. But they are in there to sort of have a term of punishment with me. And yeah, on stage… I’m quite a quiet person, really, and I’m not the most confident person in the world, but when you’re on stage with a death metal band, that’s who you need to be and I think that, over the years, I’ve sort of slipped into that character a bit more and I enjoy it more. Today in particular, the crowd were so receptive and… we’re not po-faced, we don’t take ourselves seriously, we go wandering around that stage grinning…

Matty: Sometimes the teacher role and the band cross over… many’ s the time she’s put Dave in the naughty corner…

Donna: Dave should be in the naughty corner – he gave me a cold three days before HRH Metal… Git!

Being in a band now, you’ve got more opportunities to reach an audience than ever before, through social media etc. etc. But on the other hand it works the other way that you’re competing with every other band. What have you done, that you think has helped to push the Bloodyard name further and to make people more aware?

Matty: Almost anything that’s offered we take it. Keep on gigging, keep on gigging. Never rest on your laurels and think that you’re Metallica! Do the little pubs, do the toilets, do people’s cellars, do whatever. Get your name out there and experience… it’s what it’s all about.

Donna: We said it after Bloodstock that, yes, it was the biggest gig that we’d played. Significantly the biggest gig we’d played, but that it didn’t mean anything. It did to us, at the time, and we enjoyed it and it was brilliant at the time, but it didn’t mean that we’d made it as a band. That was a step for us, but to stay at that level we knew we’d have to come straight away and do more, because if you don’t do more than you go backwards. You’ve got to do more to maintain, never mind go backwards, so that was the big thing for us. Also just  not spamming people. It’s so in your face, social media is on your doorstep, it’s delivered to you on a plate on a daily basis so if you’re saying constantly “hi, listen to me! Pay attention to me” People switch off; you become visual wallpaper, so we try to target our posts to be of interest. We don’t just put things up there because… if we have something to say we don’t put it up there too much. We try to nurture the social media aspect.

Matty: Yeah, don’t get on people’s nerves too much! They get sick of the sight of you!

Donna: We get that on a daily basis anyway don’t we!

Matty: It’s a generational thing… I don’t know, is that called ‘spamming’? [Matty has another meltdown and adopts a stern, northern accent] When I were a lad, spam was something you had on your sandwiches…

That’s horrific…

Donna: That is a horrifying thought…

You’ve started off the year very well with this HRH appearance – is there anything you have particularly lined up, or that you want to do?

Donna: We’re playing a smattering of gigs…

[Matty gets excited]

Donna: Do you like that? Smattering?

Matty: It just reminds me of cling film over the toilet…

Remind me never to visit your house…

Donna: That’s what we say… Anyway, yeah, a small selection of gigs in the early part of the year. But yeah, the main point of the year is to produce a good quality, representative recording of us and, with any luck, maybe play a few festivals over the summer. Nothing solidified as yet, but that’s the plan and then we’ll pick up the gigs at the back end of the year and boot into 2018 hopefully.

Bloodyard filmed at HRH by the incomparable Steve Russ. 

How do you prefer to do record as a  Live band or individually?

Matty: All individual parts. Lay down my drums first, Nick’ll be playing along with me and once we’ve got that foundation, we can do the rest.

So that’s what takes the time…

Matty: Yeah.

Donna: I’m always last, I get what’s left.

Matty: It can be very frustrating as well. I get very frustrated with myself. I am my own worst critic.

There is that tendency to over check everything you’ve done…

Matty: Well that’s it…

Donna: we’re not too bad with that, I don’t think, we tend to trust each other. We have a go at ourselves and come back to the back room and some people are “Yeah – that’s fine!” and you have to take it on faith because you’re so in it, so in the moment, that you don’t know. And then you listen back and you realise that it wasn’t fine and you do it again.

All the mistakes suddenly become apparent…

Donna: Oh it’s horrible – I hate it!

Matty: But if we play all the mistakes live, then they’re not mistakes are they?

That’s an interesting point, I’ll have to try that…

Any final words?

Donna: A lot of people checked us out today that probably hadn’t previously heard us or had any affiliation with us and we really appreciate them coming down and checking us out. We hope they enjoyed us and we hope to see them again.

Matty: We’d like to thank everyone back in Lancaster for supporting us and all the bands and various pubs for letting us play.

Find out more about the awesome Bloodyard here.

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