YEAR OF THE RAT is a new hardcore band out of Melbourne that blosters an all star lineup of members who have played in some of the country's biggest bands.
We caught up with gitarist Lloyd Denovan for a chat...
Let's start at the beginning, how did the band initially form?
Colin & I (Lloyd) had a couple of songs written after our last band kinda finished up and we had a better idea on the style & direction we wanted to go with new stuff. We wanted to incorporate more of a D Beat and punk style and mix it with some heavier percussive drums & riffs. But also tie in some different metal genres too. Lots of different styles in the mix and try to keep interesting.
Pretty all-star lineup in Year Of The Rat, what bands have members previously played in?
Yeah I guess it is… but when you've all been playing in bands for a while it kinda just ends up like that. Colin on drums played in Most Precious Blood for a long time, but also played in Damnation ad for some time too. Aaron's main gig is I Exist, but always has other stuff on the go too like Mental Cavity and helping play in Outright occasionally. Chris played bass in Blackout, Helmet was the vocalist for The Daylight Curse and I played guitar in Within Blood, Hitlist & Meatlocker. So that's the USA, Perth, Canberra, Sunny Coast & Melbourne all together in one band, which is pretty cool!
How does a former Most Precious Blood /Damnation AD drummer wind up living in Melbourne?
Colin married a girl from Australia and hedged his bets that shit would get worse politically in the USA and decided he was safer living here.
How would you describe the sound of the band to someone that hasn't heard you before?
It's a great mix of lots of sub genres for hardcore, punk & metal. From when we released “Primus Inter Pares”, everyone hears something different which is awesome. It's heavy, it's fast and it’s aggressive. A really aggressive sound was what we wanted. I think we definitely got what we wanted with this album.
What bands have influenced the sound and style of Year Of The Rat?
All of us listen to tons of different stuff and we all have an eclectic mix of influences. I think it really helps keep the songwriting interesting when there's influence from all over. To be honest I'd be apprehensive to list a bunch of bands. There's influence from D Beat, Metal & Hardcore, hip-hop, rock and popular music. We just wanted to mix all that up, follow Colin's kick pedal and try to do something that doesn't follow a trend in hardcore.
Where did the name come from and is it a reference to anything in particular?
Year of the Rat was Colin's idea. He spends a lot of time working in Asia with his job in foreign aid. I think he was at a restaurant in Asia somewhere that had an old calendar on the wall and thought it would work. But who the Rat is, I think that's subjective.
You're about to release your debut album through Resist, where was the album recorded and how was the process?
First up. Let us remember how lucky we are to have Graham & Resist Records in Australia after all these years. I don't take that for granted. For Graham to put his faith in Year of the Rat and release this album for us means a lot. So we recorded the album in Melbourne with Mike Deslandes who plays in YLVA & High Tension. He was incredible to work with and he worked tirelessly on the album going above and beyond what we expected from him. The studio we chose has a nice big drum room and getting a warm, roomy, aggressive drum sound was the basis for it. If you have the drums on point, and the band has the riffs and the songwriting rehearsed, it all works. Colin knew the songs so well and had everything mapped to a metronome, so he just played drums on his own for two and a half days. Then we spent the next two days on guitars. Helmet's vocals were all done at Mike's home studio and gang vocals were at our rehearsal space with a bunch of our close friends.
Got a favourite track off the new album? Why that one in particular?
For me it's “Primus Inter Pares” - First among equals. You can listen to it below. We spent a lot of time getting that one right and it has powerful lyrics along with a mix of riffs that capture the feel of the album.
What are you most proud of with the release of the album?
Hmmm that's a tough one. There's a lot I'm stoked about with it. So I'll pick one thing and that's the artwork. All the photos we used, are taken by a good friend of mine, that I grew up with. We both got into punk hardcore at the same time and he ended up spending years working in Iraq photographing the war there. He continues to work in photo-journalism with some of his latest work in Europe photographing Syrian refugees. To have his photos included with the album and tie in with some of the political themes we have in the lyrics is really special to me. You can check out his work here: http://www.ashleygilbertson.com/
What's in store for the future of the band?
We'll be playing a few shows in Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane once the album's out, and then we're planning on playing in Asia and Europe after that. Also planning on following up with a 7" next year.
How can people hear the band and keep up with what's happening?
instagram & facebook @yearoftherathc
Year Of The Rat “Hell Bent” out April 21 through Resist Records. Preorders now live here.