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¬ Ilium - Aussie Metal & Dinosaurs!!

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?

Jason: 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??

Jason: 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??

Jason: 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??

Jason: 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??

Jason: 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 belt.

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??

Jason: 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??

Jason: 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??

Jason: 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??

Jason: 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??

Jason: We have a website at which is a great site and you can contact me at 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

Jason: Thanks Tobi – it was a great interview! All the best with Metal Coven!

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Questions: February 2006 by Tobi
: February 2006 by Jason Hodges