Virus Speak To SonicAbuse

Back after a twenty-year hiatus, Virus, one of the prime movers of the nascent British thrash scene in the eighties, returned when Coke Mcfinlay gathered together a new line up in 2008. Despite reaching out to the original line up (an offer that was rebuffed), Coke went ahead and found that the music scene had finally caught up with the brutal strain of thrash that Virus deal in and, after a number of line-up shifts, he finally settled with Andy Kimmet (bass), Paul Randall (lead guitar) and Pete Garrow (drums). An EP in 2014 (‘a new strain…’) was well-received and the band are now set to head into the studio to record a full-length outing.

We had the chance to hook up with the band at Hammerfest… and…

…The interview… well, it’s disturbing.

So disturbing we urge anyone who is easily offended to stay well clear. In fact, stop reading now and head elsewhere regardless of your disposition as there’s a fair argument that this interview should not be read by anyone ever.

In uttering this warning, we absolve ourselves of all offense that may be given…

We really tried…

Photo: Jola Stiles

The first question is mainly for Coke because you made a decision to reform the band and you’re the sole original member, what was behind the timing of reforming the band?

Coke: I think it was definitely a chance to take the band to a new level. The stuff that I was listening to, I was thinking “Christ! We were doing that twenty-odd years ago!” And kids love it in this day and age and I thought, well, there’s a chance here to bring it back and I wondered what the outcome of that would be, I wondered what the public would think of that sort of thing, so yeah, it was a conscious decision to do it and it was sort of like… I was influenced by guys around me who really liked the music and kept telling me to get the band back together again and I kind of thought about it for about six months but I didn’t really want to do it, I didn’t think it was worth doing. But, I still had the passion for the music and that’s what really spurred me on…

…that and sex! With men!

Paul: Yeah? You never told us!

Is this why I have this interview? Don’t let the long hair fool you!

Coke: Young men…

Paul: We’re not even in the band….

Coke: They’re my victims…

Andy: We just happen to play instruments, it was a coincidence that went really well…

[Attempting to keep the band on message] The band has a legacy, was it daunting for you guys coming in and picking up on the legacy and also taking it forward writing new material.

Paul: Yeah, I’d never played in a thrash band or anything like that, so for me it was definitely…

Coke: Well after that acoustic set…

Paul: That’s the new direction. We thought tonight, after the acoustic stuff, we have a new direction now…

Pete: We’ll just come out with acoustic guitars, I’ll get the brushes out, it’s going to be hilarious…

Coke: I’ll just get my cock out

Paul: You do what you want!

Coke: I normally do! I like that train of thinking… get your cock out… yes.

I apologise for putting that idea out there

Coke: Everyone apologises for me. You’ve got to laugh… or fucking cry!

Pete: I knew about Virus before I joined, I heard about the band when I was still living in Dundee, and I was just working with my other band and they were just looking for a drummer, and I grew up with thrash – Metallica and testament and Exodus and stuff, so it was a good opportunity for me to exercise that influence in a new way. It is daunting, knowing that you’re writing new material but there’s this legacy as well of the band, back in the day, touring with the likes of Megadeth and Suicidal Tendencies. But it’s big shoes to fill and even bigger knowing that this album’s coming out pretty soon.

Coke: And now you’re playing Hammerfest…

Pete: Hammerfist?

Coke: That’s tomorrow… that’s on the way back, in the car!

The last thing you recorded was the EP in 2014, ‘a new strain’, so now you’re working on a full length?

Coke: Yes, it’s a full album with ten completely new tracks. No covers, nothing. It’s all new material. Sexual.

Paul: Overtly…

Coke: Overtly sexual material.

Paul: To the point that it’s…

Coke: Freudian…

[Giving up] Isn’t all metal just a metaphor for penises?

Coke: Yes! It’s a metaphor for people with small penises.

Andy: We’re digging deeper into that well…

Into the penises?

Andy: Yeah…

Coke: Let’s get into penis lore… [the interview breaks up completely]

No, seriously…

Paul: No, seriously, that’s what it is…

Coke: It is about me being gay… and me coming out. It’s my coming out album…

Andy: Like Rob Halford?

Coke: Fuck yeah, has he come out?

I don’t think he did it on an album…

Coke: Maybe he did do it on an album, I don’t know! It’d be a bit messy.

[Heroically trying to get back to the plot…] So, when it comes to writing, is it collaborative, or is it more focused on Coke?

Coke: it’s kind of a collaboration. I come up with something and then I let the guys hear it and then they put their own spin on it. Pete comes up with beats and Andy’ll put a good bass line to it. Generally, me and Paul work together quite a lot and we work on it from there. We kind of made it a bit more… old school because I don’t really want to tread on anyone’s toes and do something new… partly because I can’t… but I like the old school style. I like the old Bay Area style, it appeals to me, it always has done, so the album’s kind of Bay Area-ish.

Andy: Kind of Testament-y, Exodus-y, you know…

Coke: With the Rick Astley vocals….

Andy: Yeah, definitely.

Paul: A lot of it is the rhythmical ideas, so it’s not really fast all the time. There’s some stuff that’s really fast, because… well it’s thrash…

Coke: We put the happiness back into thrash because the seriousness… people can get too fucking caught up in the seriousness of thrash and there’s a lot of young bands that think you have to play absolutely shit-hot perfectly and you have to intrinsically hear every fucking note. No you don’t…

Paul: You need to feel the notes….

Coke: Yeah, and fucking have that passion for it.

Andy: Soul and thrash man…

Coke: This guy brings the soul to thrash. He’s a cosmic blues player. His fucking head’s in the stratosphere… too many drugs…

Andy; All of them! Paracetamol. Orange juice… mad for it.

Coke: we’ve got a track called ‘parasitic invasion’ but we can put a spin on that, ‘paracetamol invasion’!

Paul: That was really good…

Coke: Sorry! I digressed…

Paul: And I was talking over that…

Coke: It’s turning into shit! It’s turning into sludge as we speak…

The big change, I guess, from when you recorded in the 80s and now is that there is that potential to pro tool everything to death, so are you deliberately trying to focus on a more traditional style of recording where you get to the soul of the music?

Coke: Definitely… It is tight…

Paul: We practice a lot…

Coke: Rather than approach it with the click track and shit like that and the metronome side of things, I come up with a riff and I am hopeless with timing, as these guys know…

Paul: Yep…

Pete: in that there’s none… there’s no timing!

Coke: These guys have all got degrees in…

Paul: I don’t…

Coke: Shut up!

You all have degrees in music for the purpose of this interview…

Coke: Anyhow, I digress. I think it’s a more aesthetically pleasing type of thrash that we play now. It’s more mature… definitely more mature and I am… old.

Paul: Yes!

Coke: That’s where the maturity comes from – the oldness…

…I’m speaking like a total prick and I’m not even drunk.

Andy: It’s all that driving…

Coke: It IS all that driving… ten hours of driving.

Pete: The cymbals in the car hit me in the side of the head at least 89 times…

Coke: His brain fell out of his earhole.

That is the problem of driving a whole band…

Coke: We’re getting off the subject. I’m trying to be serious here and talk about aesthetically pleasing thrash.

We’re back to your genitals again aren’t we?

Coke: Yeah, yeah, we’re going to revert to genitals.

Paul: You’ll learn in time that it always comes back to genitals…

Coke: Don’t forget the bumhole… [starts singing] “I just wanna rock, DJ, I just want to suck your cock all night…”

Pete: [resignedly] We hit the first petrol station coming out of Dundee and he was listening to Robbie Williams in the car, he went to get a coffee and came back…

Coke: [still singing] I’m sucking angels instead…

Pete: yep…

Andy: …of course…

Pete: And he was like “oh, I’m going to do that at Hammerfest tomorrow!”

Coke: Yes! We’re going to do Hammerfest, the Robbie Williams set. And on the acoustic stage we didn’t get to do it and I asked them, and they all said no. No, no, no. Robbie Williams is gold for taking the piss out of…

Andy: We thought he was deadly serious…

Coke: Is this interview going well?

It’s going fantastically!

I’m looking forward to typing it up…

Paul: Really?

I might just type it so that you’re all one person… you’ll come across a bit schizophrenic but…

Coke: I am… a sexual predator….

That’s the title…

Coke: It’s the title of the new album…

Paul: I like it.

Coke: Sexual predator is the title and the b side – ‘sticky fingers’…

Paul: You know… it would say we’re ‘edgy characters’… we’re real go getters….

Coke: We’re a serious thrash band…

Serious thrash?

Coke: We’re as serious as Kreator…

They are very serious…

Coke: Why so serious? I don’t get it. We’re old but experienced… just fucking chill out! Enjoy it! [at this point the interview degenerates into noise as all the band members try out German accents]

Paul: Moving swiftly forward…

Coke: Next question!

Back to the recording… where are you tracking?

Coke: A studio in Dundee…

Paul: DM Studios – Dundee Music studios.

So, have you started?

Coke: No, we’ll start as soon as Hammerfest is done.

How long are you planning to go in for?

Paul: As quickly as possible…

Coke: As quickly as possible, as short as possible, and as many drugs as possible…

The Megadeth school of recording!

Coke: Yeah, the Megadeth school of recording!

Drugs / hotdogs…

Coke: Megadeth stroke Mayhem…

Andy: The initial process is we’ll track what we’ve done so far to hear it back and see how it fits and melds and then we can do the rest.

Paul: We’ve been playing long enough and we want to do as few takes as possible to get as much of a live sound as possible.

Coke: And I’ll be awake as little as possible. In the studio…

Do you have a theme for the record?

Coke: It’s kind of like an end of the world type thing, it’s all about… gay liberation from my perspective. It’s all about the baboon’s arsehole…

Gay liberation is surely only the apocalypse if you’re Donald Trump?

Coke: That’s it…

Paul: That’s a whole other kettle of fish. That’s like the next album…

Coke: That’s a whole different apple cart right there…

Paul: Sometimes I think about giraffes when I’m playing…

What do you think about Giraffes?

Paul: No, that’s it…

Coke: The album’s called ‘evolution apocalypse’ and it’s all about the end of the world and it’s kind of…

Paul: It’s pretty self-explanatory…

Coke: There’s a theme running through it…

Paul: Evolution and apocalypse… It’s like the evolution post-apocalypse…

Coke: Like what happens… people get mutated and all that fucking bollocks! The usual fucking thermo-nuclear pish! Nothing new there…

Paul: I’m sold!

Coke: Twenty years and I’ve done fuck all…

Aside from collective insanity, how did you come together?

Andy: we were in the wrong pub at the wrong time…

And you’ve never been set free since?

Andy: No! I’ve known Coke since I was about fifteen and…

Coke: That’s not a euphemism… we’re not a partnership!

Andy: I was once a redhead…

Really?

Andy: No…

Traitor to the cause! How can you have been a redhead with that beard??

Coke: I was once the back-end of a donkey in mid summer’s night dream…

Andy: You never told me that…

Coke: I wanted to smell his arse…

Andy: I didn’t know it was him at the time… That’s news to me…

Coke: You joined the band and then you found out it was all about toilet sex…

Andy: I’m OK with toilet sex, it’s the thrash thing I’m not sure about…

Pete: I got into this band thinking it was going to be serious thrash… and so far I’ve heard about chubs and willies and giraffes and gay liberation…

This is not what you signed on for?

Coke: Next question!

One of the things that marks out bands that have been around for a while is the old-school presentation – artwork, liner notes and so on. Is that something that’s important to you?

Coke: You’ve got to make a statement. You have to make a statement in this day and age like any artist and part of that is very important. We’ve got Andy Pilkington doing the cover for us and he’s made a fantastic job of that, he’s fantastic! It’s important to me, but the music’s more important. It’s the message we want to get across, saying that I’m still alive and still up for it… in any shape or form!

The rest of your band do not look encouraged by this!

Pete: This is just how things usually are. He talks, we look discouraged.

Coke: Somebody’s got to be lubed up first…that’s…

Paul: [firmly and from out of nowhere] We all like playing thrash…

Coke: Where did that come from? You’re talking about thrash? I’m talking about bumholes… What’s next on the list?

We went beyond the list ages ago… I gave up round about the time we hit giraffes…

Paul: Interesting story, I didn’t play much thrash at all and now… I play lots of thrash.

[Stunned silence]

That was not an interesting story.

Pete: That was literally a statement…

Coke: That was fucking random…

 I might release that as a separate interview…

Andy: There’ll be a lot of cutting and splicing…

You hope!

Pete: You’ll have two minutes of good footage…

Coke: I’ll be the shame of the nation! No one will interview me ever again… great!

Paul: You’ve not slept in a while have you…

Coke: I’m looking forward to the next one, I want to talk about bumholes again…

You might get serious questions in the next interview…

Coke: Yeah, but I might not answer seriously…

Paul: It’s going to be a long afternoon… Maybe we could split off… I have so much to say that I’m saving it up…

Coke: I can treat them to my haemorrhoids…

Paul: Oh no… he’s been telling everyone…

Coke: I’ve got my haemorrhoid and I’m proud of it… Mine are hanging like tubular bells…

Pete: Oh no, I’ve just got that image…

You’re the drummer, you get to watch from the back… explosive blowback… that’s the way to finish your set…

Paul: [horrified] Explosive blowback?

Coke: I’m going to use that, that’s a song title right there…

Paul: Anal blowback…

Coke: Explosive anal blowback…

I’m sorry, my contribution to your lives is… explosive blowback…

Coke: Don’t apologise for that! Pebble dash from the haemorrhoid…  

 

Related posts:

Share

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Time limit is exhausted. Please reload CAPTCHA.