From touring South East Asia, being apart of the ever-growing Newcastle scene, the cover artwork of new album ‘Twisted Visions’, to Blink-182’s Travis Barker scoring himself a copy of their new LP, Tom Maddocks of rising Australian hardcore heavy-hitters Ill Natured talks to us about all that’s been going down in the Ill Natured camp of late. Have a read of it all below:
First off guys, how was playing overseas in parts of South East Asia and the like for the band? What kind of response did you get from the fans over there? Will you be heading back?
It was awesome, we all really enjoyed it. Got a great response at all the shows, kids go wild over there and are super appreciative of bands, which is a nice change to how things are here sometimes. We’d like to head back at some stage for sure. Play a few of the places again that we played this time and then branch off into some other spots as well. There are so many places over there that bands could play that it’ll probably take us a few trips to cover them all.
The first thing you notice about ‘Twisted Visions’ is how visually striking the album artwork is. Paolo Girardi’s art really speaks for itself, but this piece, in particular, is fucking intense. Was there any input from the band into his creative/design process, and does the artwork link in thematically to what ‘Twisted Visions’ is trying to say? Or was it chosen because it just looked fucking sick?
I’m stoked with how the artwork came out; I think it’s a great companion piece for the music. Our guitarist Posi came up with the general idea and we sent that to Paolo along with the record, and that was what he sent back. I don’t think it was exactly how Posi had pictured it would look when he came up with the concept, but I was telling him and everyone else the entire time that it might not look how you expect, but we have to trust Paolo’s vision, as he is the artist and it will no doubt look great regardless. We would happily work with him again.
The one recurring theme of the new record really seems to be that of a false paradise; of this twisted vision of something perceived to be better or purer than it actually is. Where did that idea come from for the band – religion? Work? Everyday life? Touring in a hardcore band?
I don’t think Sal had any actual themes or anything in mind when he was writing the lyrics for the record, he just wrote it about things he faces and experiences in his everyday life. But you’re right that it does kind of tie together and have similar themes at times, which I think is cool considering it wasn’t intentional.
Ill Natured have been stirring things up in Australian hardcore for a few years now, and with ‘Twisted Visions,’ it definitely feels like the band is getting ready for a very big year. What was the intent behind this new record other than just riffs and shows, and how did you take the songs from those initial concepts to the fleshed-out compositions we hear now on the record?
I think we are still pretty underrated here in the grand scheme of things despite playing a lot of great shows and getting some good attention off the back of the last 7”, so we wanted to really step things up with the LP and prove to everyone that we can match it up with everyone else. Hopefully, now that the LP is out it will allow us to get more of a look in and be on the table for some opportunities that we weren’t really being considered for previously. Not a lot of hardcore bands actually make it to releasing an LP, so I think it’s a cool achievement for us. We started writing the record in early 2015, shortly after the 7” was released. Some of the songs have been played live since about September 2015. We started tracking the record in September 2016 and finished in December of that year, so it’s been quite a while between finishing tracking and the record actually being released. It was worth the wait though and we’re all happy with how it ended up.
Coming from Newcastle, there’s an obvious through-line of local influences in Ill Natured’s music, and a pedigree of renowned hardcore acts that built their legacy on that scene. How influential was the Newcastle scene itself to the members of Ill Natured, and how do you feel the scene is moving forward now into 2018?
Super influential for sure. Newcastle has always had a long history of having some of the best hardcore bands in the country. I’d like to think that we are cementing our place in there and flying the flag for NCHC in 2018, and hopefully, we can inspire some younger bands to start up and have the cycle repeat itself. Things are a bit slow at the moment, there haven’t really been many newer bands starting up or releasing records. Shows seem to be a bit few and far between at the moment, but I’d love to be proven wrong and to have things build up again this year.
I actually saw that Travis Barker recently got his hands on a copy of ‘Twisted Visions,’ which is pretty wild! Were you guys involved in that somehow, or is that just one of those ‘because the Internet’ things?
Yeah, I was the one who mailed it to him. Basically how it happened was that our man Tom Sweetman in Perth who has done a lot of our merch and design type stuff has done some design work for Travis as well, so he knows him through that. Sweetman posted a photo of the design he did for us for the Asia tour, and Travis replied to him saying that it looks sick. I got him to ask Travis if he wanted one and he replied saying he’d love one and sent through his address, so I mailed him that shirt and a copy of the record. I have no idea if he even knew we were a band or if he thought we were a clothing brand or something, but I guess he’s aware now! Hopefully, he gave the record a listen and enjoyed it. The fact that he actually took the time to find the band’s account and do that post and tag us in it was really cool.
With the recent news of Stone/ex-Expire member Zach Dear being outed by multiple women for harassment and misconduct (among other individuals and band members being called out), it must be saddening for you guys – as a band in Australian heavy music scene – to see these transgressions then pervade into the hardcore scene by the hand’s of a vile few? It sure is disheartening for those of looking in from the outside…
It can be disheartening for sure, but hopefully with the attention that this kind of thing draws, that people can learn from it and educate themselves and this type of thing will be less frequent. It’s good to see that people are being held responsible for their actions and that there can be major consequences involved. It’s wild that Stone had all these big tours lined up and their LP about to drop on Pure Noise, but now that record seems to have been shelved and the band has broken up. It can all go downhill very quickly.
2018 is only just getting started, but what are some new/recent records that the band is stoked on? Any bands that are under-the-radar, local or otherwise, that you feel are doing something very cool and fresh? What’s the one record of choice in the van that everyone agrees on? (Can’t say Ill Natured or ‘Twisted Visions’).
Ill Natured – Twisted Visions for sure! Other than that, the new Mammoth Grinder LP is off its head. The new Line Of Sight and Discrepancy 7”s that came out on Youngblood are great. As far as heavy hardcore goes, I think that Candy 7” on Triple B is about as good as it got for 2017. Looking forward to hearing the new records by Endless Heights, Paradise Club, Freedom, Fury, Waste Management, Fiddlehead, Blacklisted, and whatever else I can’t think of that’s coming out this year. Bands that seem to be agreed on by everyone that gets regular rotation in the van are probably Turnover, Nothing, Violent Soho, Black Breath, and Pantera. But everyone has their own tastes and we like to mix it up.
‘Twisted Visions’ is out now via Last Ride Records, stream it below. Read our review of it here.