Far West Battlefront practically vanished off the face of the Earth over two years ago, and for a while many thought they had done just that. Game over, man, Game over. Yet last month the band finally teased their new material and suddenly the album that was almost 18 months in the making was going to be gracing the local scene. With a far tighter and cleaner production, much stronger song-writing, and a whole new sense of passion and drive, this metal outfit are definitely back into it. We recently spoke with guitarist Chad Hayes about where the band have been since 2013, and the finer points of their new record, ‘Status Cross’.
So Chad, it was about late 2012/early 2013 I was seeing all this news from the band about new material and then nothing ever came out. I thought you had gone the way of Resist The Thought and just sort of vanished. What happened in that 18 month period?
It’s funny because behind the scenes, there was a lot going on. 2012 was when we were doing our last major stuff, but to everyone else it looked like we had vanished. But we were pumping away at it. We were pre-proing everything, we had like 40 something songs, which we scaled back to the current songs on the album. We were just writing and writing and writing. But we weren’t rushing it. We wanted to spend a quality amount of time on it so that we end up with a product we’re happy with.
We deliberately stopped posting on Facebook to not piss people off basically. As we always used to say that “It’s coming soon. It’s coming soon” and everyone was getting a bit shitty. So we’ve been really busy, and once it’s released everyone we’ll see what we’ve been up to.
It’s good to hear that nothing bad had happened, just that you were really taking your time with the album. With the 40 songs, do you think that these tracks now are the cream of the crop?
Definitely! We cut it down from about 40 songs, some were just in the conceptual stage, to about 16 songs that we were 100% with. We then cut it down to 12, and the other songs – they didn’t really fit with what we had. That’ still 51 minutes of music so if we kept adding more tracks it’ll be a couple albums worth and that may be a bit much [laughs].
I’m curious, were there ever any moments in that time frame when it seemed like Far West Battlefront wasn’t going to continue, that maybe it was all getting too hard to come back?
Yeah, for sure man. But, as a band, the four of us get along really well. There’s no stress now. In the past we put so much emphasis on getting things released that we missed the mark in terms of how happy we were with the music. Now we’re just trying to enjoy it all, and we eventually got there, which is good.
It’s one of those things that you could work on forever, at least in my eyes. You could’ve just kept writing and adding stuff until it’s finally done. It was a bit like, “Play, this is it. We’ll release it”. That was harder to do than worrying about whether we’d get it out or not.
Well I’m happy to see you guys come back with the new stuff, I’ve been digging it. So with many other local bands breaking up since then and also just recently, feels like the right time for you guys to come back.
[Laughs] well I’m glad you think so. Maybe we’ll help people coming out to more shows.
I’m curious, what does the title and meaning, ‘Status Cross’, represent?
Our singer, Ron, he’d be the one to talk to about that, as he’s had a set theme for the album. It’s fairly personal for him, even though we’ve all contributed lyrics and what not. To be honest, we just want people to perceive the songs in their own way, a bit like a piece of art. I could sit here and give you an in-depth look into each song, but I think it’d be cooler for you to come to understand it on your own.
I’m a massive fan of Deftones, and I love the way they write their songs and lyrics, it’s just so intriguing as you’re never really sure what each song is about. As a listener, I can pull all kinds of things from each song.
The Deftones comparison is interesting, as I get a strong Deftones/Korn-vibe from ‘Pale Horse’. I think it’s just how the groove of the song goes. Is that intentional at all?
Well, we lost our singer Adam and our old guitarist, Nick, and both were fairly into thrash metal. But for myself, I love all of those old nu-metal grooves, riffs and chords and wanted more of that because I’m writing a much bigger percentage of the album, so that was my intention.
Sweet. I’m just wondering, was the record self-produced? And who mixed and mastered it? Because everything is so much tighter and cleaner now.
It was all done by us – everything. I fitted out a small studio in my house and it’s been great. We all work, one of us goes to uni, Ron’s up in the Adelaide hills, and whenever we got time, we’d really nail time. Just getting that quality studio time that you wouldn’t get if you were on a budget. In the past, we’d budget for these big studios we’d go to, and we’d always blow the budget and come out with a product that we’d want to spend more time on. This time round we wanted to challenge ourselves, to take that raw sound and convert that it into a full album, which is probably why it took so long. We’re really happy with it though, I think it’s the sound that we wanted on Chapters, but we didn’t quite get there.
Well said man, and hey, perfection takes time. With the self-producing and mixing, the only other band I can think of who’s done that was Bring Me The Horizon, so maybe this will be a “game-changer” [laughs].
[laughs] that would be nice man.
With the music video for ‘Somerset’, was it shot over near you guys in SA?
It was actually shot over in NSW, just 40K’s across the border in a town called Broken Hill. Myself and our drummer grew up there before we all left for uni. We knew the area and we knew all these picturesque spots, as movies like Mad Max were shot out there. It’s something we always wanted to do – get out there and film where Mad Max was shot [laughs].
I found that video to be very ambitious and I really dig the post-apocalyptic vibe of the clip. That area was a good pick for sure.
Yeah, thanks man. Ed Reiss [director] really nailed it too. It was 40 degrees over the three days we filmed. That fire we lit, we needed a permit to do that. He actually knocked his camera on something, and that’s a $40K camera, the same one they filmed the last Lord Of The Rings with. He bumped the screen and it died, but we managed to find a guy at the local ABC radio station who was filming a doco on bugs and they had the exact same camera and we swamped it out for a carton of beer [laughs]. It was a great adventure.
Dude, that’s hectic. And what are the chances of finding a replacement screen? With the past two videos, this shows you guys going all out on the scale of it.
We’re so over the moon with it, man. We actually filmed it this time last year, and we’ve been sitting on it for a year. It was like holding a smoking gun. The people in the video kept contacting us and asking when we were going to release it, which was funny.
Shit, that’s pretty big. Then again, loose lips sink ships. Now, you do the whispered vocals in the song, and that was really unexpected to me. It’s like a middle ground between having no singing and having clean vocals. Do you think that will take a few people back?
That’s a question I’ve been asking myself actually. Will the people who have been with us from the start, whether they’ll be on board with it or not? That particular part, I was watching TV and I thought of the part, ran into the studio and sung it. Pretty much what you hear there on the song was just that spontaneous thing I had while watching TV. When I sent it to the other guys, they all really dug it. We did a few mixes and sent it through to Make Them Suffer and Josh from Northlane, and they all came back and said it was awesome. So we decided to keep a similar vibe. I’m not sure what you’d call those parts?
Maybe a Marilyn Manson vocal part?
Yeah that’s it! It was very natural for me really. Again, on Chapters, I felt so much of that was pushed. The whole album, all up, it was like $20,000. It was ridiculous. So were left wondering if we should have gone overseas or even spent more money. Cause we weren’t all that happy with it.
I guess hindsight’s 20-20 man. But from what I’ve heard so far, doing it yourself seems to work best.
Yeah, that’s the thing man, some bands kill it in the studio. We have so many ideas that we really like them to come together really organically. This approach seems to be yielding results we have never seen before.
I 100% agree with you dude. I imagine there’ll be some tours coming up?
We do everything DIY. Our bass player manages everything and books it all so he’s looking at getting a local release show set up and some inter-state dates. It’s going to be awesome, I can’t wait to play it all.
Finally mate, any guess on who may be headlining next year’s Soundwave? [update: he got it right].
I’ve heard all the rumours, and I’m hearing Disturbed and Guns N’ Roses…but I’d say Disturbed, as they’ve got a new album. My money’s on them man.
Yeah I think they’ll be it for sure.
I’m just waiting for the year BMTH headlines, honestly. That’d be sick.
Give it a year or two and I’d say they’d be a headliner. Well with that Chad, we’ll wrap it up there, been at this for a good 20 minutes. Thanks so much for your time man, and I hope the album release goes well dude.
No worries man, thanks very much.
‘Status Cross‘ is out November 13th