Jason, your band Ilium has just
recently released it’s new album “Permian Dusk” on the Italy-based
Underground label Steelheart Records… what do you think about that album
now, when you look back at it from a little distance?? Are you still happy
with the result or would you have changed anything with hindsight??
Jason: I’m very happy with how it turned out. It was a real
nightmare to record! The only thing I would have changed is that I would
have rerecorded the drums with Tim (Yatras) – he’s recorded drums for our
third album “Vespertilion” and they are very impressive!
And what do you think about Steelheart’s work?? Have they done a good
job with the makeup and package of the album, as well with its promotion??
Jason: Steelheart’s a small label and it’s tough for them to
get the album the distribution it needs. The packaging is exceptional – I
organised all the paintings but they’ve been great in getting it all
together and I’d say that’s been the highlight of working with Steelheart.
It’s unfortunate that we haven’t been able to capitalise on the great
reviews we’ve been getting due to the difficulty in getting a proper
distribution – stores just don’t want to take on unknown artists, but our
profile is growing.
“Permian Dusk” is not only the second fulllenght album by Ilium so far,
but also the first one that features the amazing vocals of former Dungeon
singer Lord Tim!! Thanks to his work with Dungeon, as well as with his
other band Lord, he’s quite well-known and respected in the Aussie metal
scene, I think… how did it happen that he joined the Ilium horde and how’s
the cooperation doing so far?
Jason: Tim’s been with us since our first EP. He was always
going to be working with us to help us record “Permian Dusk”, so when Mark
pulled out the week before we were due to start recording it was logical
to ask Tim to sing for us. Tim is a very good friend of ours and because
Lord is his main focus it means Adam and I can concentrate on the
direction of Ilium, so things are going quite well with Tim.
Musically, I’d say that Iron Maiden are one of your biggest influences,
aren’t they?? But since Ilium’s everything else than just a bunch of
copycats and since your music bears so many different faccettes, I’d like
to know, what other bands or musicians have had an impact on you!? Who
were your idols when you started making music and to whom are you still
looking up to?
Jason: Basically anything powerful, melodic and dramatic.
Judas Priest and Black Sabbath are my two biggest influences, followed by
Iron Maiden, and Iron Maiden is Adam’s favourite band. I have thousands of
albums, so my influences are broad. I started out listening to Twisted
Sister and W.A.S.P. and they are still two of my favourite bands.
Individual songs like Black Sabbath’s “Die Young”, Kiss’ “Heaven’s On Fire”
and Iron Maiden’s “Murders In The Rue Morgue”, as well as albums like
Judas Priest’s “Ram It Down” (that was the one that got me into Priest and
from there I immediately bought their entire back catalogue), Helloween’s
“Keeper Of The Seven Keys Part 2” and Anthrax’s “Spreading The Disease”
had a big impact on me growing up. Bands that have really impressed me
since include Scorpions, Megadeth, Rage, Coroner, Rush, Blind Guardian,
Ozzy, Dio, Rainbow, Riot, Savatage, Gamma Ray, Queensryche, Fates Warning,
Rhapsody, Metal Church, Symphony X – the list goes on….. Guitar wise I
think Tony Iommi (plus he’s left-handed!), Glenn Tipton, K.K. Downing,
Michael Schenker, Ulrich Roth, Michael Romeo, Victor Smolksi, Manni
Schmidt, Jake E. Lee, Mark Reale, Criss Oliva etc
And, when you compare “Permian Dusk” to earlier Ilium recordings, where
do you see the biggest differences? In what way would you say has the band
developed over the years?
The main difference is Tim’s vocal. He has a much bigger range than Mark
and I think we stretched him even further with Permian Dusk. We’ve
definitely gone more for melody rather than speed since the Oracle days
and we really finally feel comfortable with ourselves as songwriters –
we’ve always written music that we’re proud of but
we never know how to
categorise ourselves, so we’re basically a heavy metal band.
As far as I’ve understood correctly, “Permian Dusk” is a concept album,
telling an interesting and complex story somewhere in between the past,
the present and the future… is that true? And if so (or if not), would you
please explain the main idea(s) behind the lyrics and – if possible –
maybe even go a little more into detail?? What is “Permian Dusk” about and
what can we learn from it??
The album itself isn’t a concept album but most of our songs are
conceptual. Singing about riding down the highway on a motorbike whilst
screwing ourselves stupid isn’t really that interesting to me! “Permian
Dusk” is definitely a warning though . The Permian period was the period
of time just prior to the emergence of the dinosaurs – you can see on the
cover some of the animals from that period such as Dimetrodon,
Edaphosaurus and Erythrostega. It is important as it marks the single
biggest mass extinction on the history of the planet. The song itself is
about a vision looking back on this time, then coming back to the present
and seeing it happen all over again... and this time it’s our fault. Most
people are intelligent enough to care about the environment, but life
these days is so frantic we often don’t get a chance to put into practice
the things that can help reduce our impact. To me the diversity of life is
the greatest gift we have on this planet. Animals are real good at
representing themselves in parliament but we have a responsibility to take
care of this planet. Basic human decency demands it, all religions demand
it yet the ruling fossils like Dick Cheney still think it’s a good idea to
blow birds out of the sky and the corrupt Japanese government think it’s a
good idea to sully the name of a great country of people by allowing
barbarous acts like whaling to flourish. I just don’t understand how
short-sighted we all are.
I really like the colorful artwork and booklet pics!! Am I right, that
they do not only look pretty cool, but also illustrate some of the main
events of the lyrics and serve as some kinda guideline for the listener to
navigate through the album and it’s lyrical content??
I love the artwork – it’s like therapy for me! I have the paintings all
over my house! Each painting represents a song, in fact for “Vespertilion”,
our next album, will feature a painting for each song! You’ve pretty well
nailed it though. Iron Maiden always had a different painting for each
single, I just wanted to take that further. Eventually we’ll have a
painting for every song. We did six out of ten on “Permian Dusk”, so
that’s not a bad effort!
I’ve already told you before, that I really enjoy “Permian Dusk” and
consider it an awesome album that really gets better and better with each
time I listen to it!! But what do the other people think about it?? How
have the reviews and fan feedback been so far?? Was everybody happy with
the CD as well or have there also been some negative comments??
There are always negative comments on every CD ever released. You can’t
please everyone and that’s fine – we’re not getting any money so at least
we should enjoy it! Having said that the response has been excellent. We
got 9.5 out of 10 in Rock Hard! And the reviewer rated it the best album
of 2005 – that was amazing! The negative comments have all been minor and
these people still enjoyed the album, so we’ve been very lucky in that we
seem to have struck a chord with the metal community.
OK… enough about “Permian Dusk” and on to another topic: Ilium on
fuckin’ stage!! What do your concerts look and sound like, what kinda
people go there and what can they expect when Ilium hit the stage??
Unfortunately people in Newcastle aren’t interested in playing in metal
bands. We can’t get a lineup together so we haven’t been able to play
live. We’re looking though – we want to at least get some gigs under our
And what about your fans? Do you have a strong and trusty following
down under?? Are there many people interested in Oldschool Heavy Metal and
does a great band like Ilium get a lot of backup and support??
We don’t get a lot of support in Australia, but that is changing. There
are a lot of fans but down here there isn’t really a scene like there used
to be – everyone kind of keeps to themselves. There are some excellent
bands coming out of Australia these days, so hopefully that will change.
Still I think it would be damn cool to see you in Europe once… maybe
as part of one of the cool underground festivals like Swordbrothers, Keep
it true, Headbangers Open Air or Heavy Metal Maniacs… maybe, with the help
of your label, you could make such a trip reality and play your powerful
80s Metal to the fans on the old continent??
If we could afford to come we’d love to – we’ve had quite a bit of
interest in touring but it’s just not economical to do so – we have
mortgages and families and they have to come first.
And what other plans and aims does Ilium have for the future? What can
we expect next from you guys??
We’re currently doing a couple of film clips for “Chloroform Divinity” and
“Permian Dusk” as well as recording our third album “Vespertilion” which
we’re hoping to have ready soon so we can start looking for a deal.
Before we get to an end, maybe you can name us some cool Aussie Metal
bands that are worth to check out… so what would you say, which bands from
your country do deserve a little more recognition and should therefore be
checked out by the Metal Coven readers??
There are some great Australian bands to check out. Besides Ilium and
Dungeon/Lord there are Black Majesty, Crimsonfire, Black Steel, Enter
Twilight, Transcending Mortality, Eyefear and more on the way!
Where can those who didn’t know you before but are now curious about
you and your band get additional information?? And where can your fans buy
some cool merchandise and records??
We have a website at
www.ilium-metal.com which is a great site and you can
contact me at
email@example.com. We have some great shirts for “The
Celestial Sphere” and “Permian Dusk” which are extremely limited edition,
and of course our albums “Sirens Of The Styx” and “Permian Dusk”.
OK, Jason… that’s it… I hope you liked the questions and had some fun
answering them… thanks a lot & all the best, TOBI
Thanks Tobi – it was a great interview! All the best with Metal Coven!