Anyone familiar with some guys called LOCK UP? You may know Shane Embury and Nicholas Barker, don’t you? And what about mr. Kevin Sharp? The latter we had the honour to interview for his participation in the last record of the band named LOCK UP. Anything around the new album “Demonization”, the upcoming tour dates and the extreme passionate scene of grind in general from the words of a living veteran. And even more as mr. Sharp gives us his own dreamy supergroup of extreme metal.
Hello and welcome to metalpaths webzine. How are you doing first of all?
I am doing well. And yourself?
I am well too… First of all congratulations on your release with LOCK UP; “Demonization”. How do you feel about it?
I am super excited about it. I think it sounds really good. It is definitely a good reflection of where we were at the time. In terms of a record, it is pretty complete. So I am pretty excited about it.
After quite a while – it’s been six years already – Lock Up are releasing a new album and this time with you in charge of the vocals. How would you describe this project called Lock Up? What is the first thing that comes on your mind?
What comes in my mind is how grindcore was back in the day. Why we started and how music was at the end of this. Doing it out of passion. These are all friends that I had for most of my adult life. For me it’s nothing but good memories. There is no expectation to be this or do that with this band, because it has been around for so long. And it does give you the opportunity to spend as much time you want rearranging and rewriting. With some of the other bands there is no time, because labels want everything on a particular time schedule. That kind of crap that comes with the music industry and this is not happening with Lock Up and Listenable Records.
We know that you are really old friends with the guys in the band. What do you think are the differences between this and the previous releases?
That’s the thing you know after 20 years that they are working with the band. And because there are limited releases and you always see changes in the band, for me it seems that the songs are stronger. The song writing is a bit stronger than before. You can timeline things on their particular times! You cannot do only kick and screams, now you must have a structure; if that can be used in grind! And there are a lot of dynamics, not just tempos. I think the difference between the first record and this one here is that after so long time everyone has its band and they roll with it. Twenty years later we were on to win this. Nowadays to entertain ourselves it has to be more than a siege on the blast in the Lombardo beat.
Despite the two founding members, you and Anton are living many miles away from each other and the band’s base. How does this actually work? How do you rehearse songs?
Well I kind of do my own thing. It happened for a while with Brutal Truth. There was period of time where we totally weren’t around each other so I had to write my own parts. This was the first time that I actually collaborate with Shane (i.e. Embury), which was really wicked. In terms of PC and stuff I recorded my stuff they did theirs and we got together and mixed it. I actually went over and for three days we just wrote and we put things together. Although we were separated, we all work on things together. There is the process where Anton (i.e. Reisenegger) and Barker are writing and arranging things together and then Shane and Barker do the same and then everyone got together and recorded the music. Then me, Shane and Russ (i.e. Russell the producer) we did the vocals, because there was limited time to work with Russ. After that we did a show here in the US and the boys hang out for a minute and we track some additional vocals. And at that point I step away a bit. I can mix someone else’s stuff, but everyone is in fear of their own voice, if you know what I mean. At that point I let Russell do its thing. And Barker is absolutely specific about things. He’s got this OCD thing that clicks, but my ears after so much live music can’t tell any difference (laughs).
Are you also in charge of the lyrics on this release?
Like I said I wrote about the half of it and Shane wrote about the other half. Somewhere in between there we split up two or three songs, where we wrote different verses at. It was a first time in a long time I actually collaborated. But I think the interesting thing about this record against some other stuff I did, it is that there are different elements included in it. There is Shane’s take on phrasing and enunciation. There are also some parts of the older songs for the live act that he looked at Peter’s and Tompa’s (i.e. Peter Tägtgren and Tomas Lindberg former vocalists respectively) techniques and made a conscious effort not to sound like neither. And I made a conscious effort not to sound like Brutal Truth or Venomous Concept. There will always be a handful of people who’ll say that you’re not Tompa. I am never going to be Tompa and for me acting like him it is kind of stupid. Try to do your own thing and hope that people are going to appreciate what you did. I would say that picking up parts from Tompa’s stuff for the lives; I learned a lot of things from his phrasing. It was interesting to dissect with the other dudes and what they’ve done previously and applying into what I did. I know that is sounds stupid, but there were a lot of shit going on. (laughs)
Now the lyrics are regarding on social and political issues. Am I right?
That’s the thing. Shane does these morbid and dark personal thing and mine are more a social commentary of what’s going on. And you combine these two together and it is a pretty dark record. You can listen to parts into the lyrics and say that this is obviously about what is going on in America with the election. But it’s not necessarily that. It is more like a cultural thing that is going on right now that would explain that Trump is acceptable. And you can say the same for England with this Brexit thing. All these radical far right weird things that I would never in my lifetime think this mentality would return. It is fucking scary for once. It is interesting to me in a sense that the mainstream population adopt this thinking. When did it become appropriate to be a total dickhead? That’s “Demonization”.
I think also the cover artwork defines what you said exactly with all the stuff that is going on around us.
Ironically now that you mention the artwork, it is more of a traditional sense for grindcore. It has the traditional elements in that sense and the evolution of the band musically. There’s some interesting dynamics if you pin it all together, but what obviously pops out from the artwork it is a world downfall. It is a lot more intense than regionomics. Everyone is keep cracking that he’s going to make great records, but let’s see if the world blows out first.
All of you guys in the band are more than 25 years on the scene. How do you think of the idea going on for 25 more years?
It is funny that you mention it. I had a couple conversations about how odd it is. If you think about it you’ve got Incantation, Immolation, Napalm Death, Obituary and all the classics they are still around and they are doing it. And it seems odd if you figure that back in the day when we started it was really difficult to make things happen. There were no booking agents and here in states back in the 90’s you just had to play some gigs. And I remember when Brutal Truth got started; we didn’t have any equipment and any van. We would take the north east railway up and down; from New York up to Connecticut. But we toured by train! We would take our guitars on the train and we would borrow a drum kit on the gig. We were fucking poor man! We would take fifty bucks and it was ok to take us to the show. And it was good back then like that. What’s the mentality of the kids now? I was talking to Bill Steer a while ago, when Danny (i.e. Lilker) was talking about quitting metal, and he said that he thought he do a record and a couple of European tours and go back and have a normal job like everyone else. Sometime you have to accept who you are. What am I? I am a general contractor and I make records. At some point I got ok with that. I don’t have to have what is considered a normal life. So yes I see myself out with a microphone in my hand. Well you know I am working on another record right now. If anything I am trying to get as much songs written as possible. I am not stupid. I look around and see a lot of people that I grow up with pass on. I made some conscious changes in my life to die slowly! I am fifty and I have seen a lot. I am going to write and record as many records I can until the end. And that’s how it is going to work out.
Are you having plans for a tour? Are there going to be some shows?
We’re waiting for the final answers from some persons. And when we are done it will be an announcement and it is going to be on April or May. I‘ve seen the dates, I want the dates, hopefully they going to give me the dates (laughs).
Are we talking about Europe or also North America?
We are talking about Europe right now. And there are talks about Australia. But Australia is the wild frontier. And then again there is Japan. Nothing’s set and standard. And maybe the next Decibel Tour.
I like to ask about your influences and your inspirations, therefore I am always making up questions for this reason. As Lock Up is considered to be an all star super group of extreme metal, I would like you to form an imaginative super group with your favourite musicians. Which ones would you choose?
Ahh… A metal one? Well I would say let’s get Dan Lilker and Gene Hoglan at the rhythm section, ok? James Murphy would be an obvious and excellent choice. And vocalist would be Travis Ryan. He is like the Mr. Bungle as an extreme metal vocalist.
Thank you very much for your time. Your last words?
Well you know I hope to get an answer so that we can be in Europe to do some shows. And I appreciate the fans that support grind in general. You know grindcore is a passionate thing and I am glad I made a life of it.