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The Rock Pit - Hard rock, Metal and Blues Interviews, news & reviews from Australia and around the world
Nucleust Interview 2014




In the extreme metal world, it's fairly difficult to get much attention aside from the few hardcore fans that love that kind of music. But with the right attitude, some solid writing and obviously some talent in the musical part, things can happen. One band coming out of Perth that is looking pretty promising is Nucleust, a band that is hard to pinpoint in style but clearly one who has a no compromising sound and attitude that would rival any extreme metal band in Perth. We caught up with all 4 band members at their rehearsal space - Shay William Graham Smith (Drums), Shannon Marston (Vocals), Max Palizban (Guitars) and Josh Fox (Bass) - to discuss songwriting and future plans.

Andrew: So tell us how you guys first met and how you formed the band.


Shannon: I guess we start with Josh and Max.


Josh: Me and Max, we've known each other for about 3 or 4 years?


Max: More than 3 years, close to 4 years so I met Josh...very funny actually, we actually met each other through Lee (mutual friend), I can't remember how Lee found me at that time. We were just jamming just for fun with a guy named Adam, then Lee knew you from somewhere?


Josh: No I knew Adam.


Max: Oh yeah, then I met Josh. I wasn't actually thinking about it at the time. I wanted to do music...


Andrew: You weren't thinking about forming a band?


Max: Yeah and Josh called or texted me the day after or something and said 'Hey you wanna play?'. And I said 'Yeah let's do it'. Then after that, me and Josh had a common friend, Luke, this drummer, we played with him for a little while. Then Cody joined the band (vocals) but it didn't work out with him.

Andrew: And this was obviously before you guys had gotten the name Nucleust.


Max: Yeah Nucleust and Josh were basically just jamming together for about almost a year, playing with different drummers. None of them really worked that well.


Josh: We went through about 6 drummers I think.


Max: I reckon, yeah.


Andrew: What were you playing at the time? Like cover songs or original stuff?


Josh: Na just original stuff.


Andrew: So you had already started writing songs then?


Max: Yeah but the whole style which you can now see in Nucelust sort of...


Josh: Evolved.


Max: Evolved, exactly! It was very different.


Shannon: Then I rang Max and organised to meetup the next day or the following day.


Max: Yeah that was pretty exciting cause we found these 2 awesome guys in like less than a week.


Shannon: I actually did bring another guy with me who wanted to do the drums.


Max: Jack Beer!


Shannon: Jack Beer.


Max: He ditched us!

Shannon: We literally rocked up and was like ok cool let's do it. Hen House (rehearsal studios), first rehearsal, he didn't show up so it was like ok.


Josh: Fucking drummers!


Andrew: Haha!


Shannon: Back to no drummer and then I got a message from Max saying he's had a call from a drummer, we're gonna go to the The Hen House to meet and have a jam with Mr Shay.


Shay: Yeah that was a fun night.


Max: Yeah it was pretty awesome.


Shay: It was horrendous because I didn't have my accoustic kit at the time.


Shannon: Did I even make it to that?


Max: No you couldn't make it.


Shannon: So I missed out on that and these two met Shay and then the following week, I met Shay and then we started throwing names around. I think at one point we were going to call it...


Max: Yeah Nucleust was more Josh's idea.


Max: It started as Nucleus.


Josh: But that was taken.


Andrew: That's what I wanted to ask you guys. Where did the name come from?


Josh: Just spinoffs and stuff from Nucleus.


Shannon: We wanted something that was meaningful and professional. We didn't want a normal or like Anal Piss or something.


Max: And then I came up with the idea that Nucleus is such a good name but how about we just add like a "T" or "ET".


Josh: Yeah put a spin on it.


Shannon: Sort of like the Nucleus is the base, the starting point of everything and then to add the "T'" to the end of it is to say we are that.


Andrew: Well that's the impression that I get from the name as well. It's like a unit kind of thing, a centralised thing.


Shannon: We didn't plan it to be that way, as it evolved it's just worked out.


Andrew: OK so by that time that you had gotten the name and you guys had gotten together, at what point in the song writing process were you guys at? How many songs had you already done?


Max: Man we had like thousands of riffs I reckon.


Shannon: A whole reverb nation page full.


Josh: A whole encyclopedia.


Max: Because there was no band, we were just playing riffs and recording.


Josh: We used to get our phones out, make a riff and record it on our phone and then show each other.


Max: But when the band formed, we finished "Whisper" in like 2 days I reckon?

Andrew: From start to finish?


Max: Haha yeah but when you have the whole band, we finish it pretty fast.


Shay: Better motivation. And then bringing in the songs into the jam room, bringing the ideas that these 2 guys have had into the jam room was just great because then we sort of got the opportunity to work on them as a band.


Andrew: Sort of tweak stuff here and there and things like that.


Shay: Yeah. When we first started we actually wrote "Whisper" one way first and then there was a change or something in it that I didn't think fitted the song and we had this big, long dialogue about it, Me and Max and then we ended up with the song sounding completely different.


Andrew: So how many songs have you actually got done?


Max: 5.


Andrew: Were they all written in all the same kind of way?


Shay: No all completely different.


Max: We are not actually one of those bands that are jamming...I don't know how to explain it. It's not like we are jamming and composing the songs together. It's just basically just jamming and then Shay gets an idea and says 'Ok I'm going to go home and work on this'. I was lucky because I was always given the chance by these guys in trusting me with a couple of songs. Same with Shay. Let me cook the idea first and then let's work on it so yeah that's what happens most of the time.


Shay: There are 2 songs that I kind of started off.


Shannon: "Dazzle The Shadow Priest".


Shay: Yeah and "Rogue Planet". Rogue Planet I came up with the lyrical concept to that first.


Max: It was a bit of a mellower song but then I fucked it up and made it heavier haha!


Shay: Max had some brilliant ideas on that one, that started off being a bit more mellow. And "Dazzle The Shadow Priest" is like...there were a lot of different musical ideas that I had in that song, that I wanted to pull off. I kind of just arranged them into a sort of song structure and then the rest of the guys kind of fleshed it out for me which is great.


Andrew: That's one that you play live and it's one of my favorite songs actually. I couldn't remember the name, I just remember Priest being in that name.


Max: That's the one that you really liked.


Andrew: Yeah that's exactly right.


Max: It's the 3rd song that we always play.


Shay: I'm not going to give anything away but the name is a reference to something. Dazzle The Shadow Priest.


Andrew: I'll let people figure that one out then!


Shay: One of these days I'm going to see someone at a gig who's going to work it out and I'm not.


Andrew: I'm sure there will be someone out there that will haha!


Shay: Particularly in the middle of the song when I yell something unintelligible out.


Max: Now that we are on "Dazzle The Shadow Priest", the funny thing about that song, we never worked on the lyrics or the melody for the vocals. Shannon just came up with the whole thing and I still have no idea most of the time...


Shannon: What's it called when improve'd? The first 3 or 4 times we played it I just improve'd it until I had a basic idea in my head and then it just started coming the same every time.

Andrew: Do you come up with the melody first and then the lyrics after?


Shannon: Yeah. A lot of the time, a lot of the stuff I've done the lyrics for, I have actually written the lyrics anywhere since the age of 12 til now. Just random poetry things. When I rang up to meet Max, I couldn't exactly just rock up go yeah I wanna sing but not have anything. So I basically went through everything that I had written over my lifetime and sort of put them into poems you could say. And then Max helped me a lot with the melodies for them.


Andrew: That's an interesting way of coming up with lyrics, getting stuff that you had written way back from the past when you were younger.


Shannon: One of the main things in Whisper that I like - "She never had a father to whisper in her ear" - Originally it was "Satan is my father who whispers in my ear to make me forget all that I forget". But obviously I re-worded it but it gives the same idea.


Andrew: So when you play these songs now, you've done 3, 4 or 5 gigs, something like that?


Shannon - 4 gigs.


Andrew: Have any of the songs evolved in anyway or have changed stuff since you have been starting to do shows? Or have they pretty much kept the same?


Shay: The only thing that we've really done so far...


Max: The end of "Rogue Planet".


Shay: We've just sort of abridged 1 or 2 of the songs to give us a little bit more atmosphere when we play them live. Because when you look at a song in the jam room , you're looking at the song but when you're setting something up to play a gig, you look at the set and you just want to try and make things flow through becuase I mean you don't want to blast out a song for like 4 or 5 minutes and then just stop and have this gap and then 'So has everyone got a drink?' you know? You want to join a couple of songs up.


Andrew: Obviously a live setting is going to be different than a studio setting. So that brings me to another question then. So when you guys are going to be putting out your EP or album, how much do you think is going to change going into that, in the recording?


Shay: Actually I hope it will change quite a bit because one of the things that I would really like to do on any recordings that we sink a lot of resources into, is get a producer involved. I think we are a band that could benefit a lot from having a producer.


Shannon: We would expect the sound to be better quality.


Andrew: And someone to give you ideas and bounce ideas off.


Shay: I would imagine for the most part, the songs might stay the same but at the same time you may have a producer come in and go 'you need to switch the verse and the chorus and make it so it has 5 verses and 1 chorus instead of the other way', just stuff like that.


Max: Now that we're on this topic, like for Blunt magazine we had to shorten "Whisper" from like almost 6 minutes to 4 minutes which is a hell of a job to do. But the funny thing when I listen to the Blunt Magazine version of "Whisper", it actually sounds pretty heavy, it actually sounds pretty good. It changes, it's like a different song. I prefer the original as well but the original has a more progressive feel to it for the most part but the Blunt Magazine just has the heaviness.


Andrew: Obviously because it's all compressed.


Max: I'm playing so many things right now live. I'm not playing the exact same thing that we recorded. Especially with Shay's song, I'm just playing all around.


Andrew: So you're basicaly improvising on stage then.


Max: Sometimes yeah!


Shay: We all do. I have far too small brain power to memorize fills.


Shannon: I try not to as much as possible because there are certain words that go for but there has been a couple of times at gigs where I've missed a cue and then to get back into the flow of it I've had to change the melody of the first little bit to get into time at the end if that makes sense.


Andrew: Yeah that makes sense.


Shannon: I think that's normal.


Andrew: Yeah because the more you play live, the more you start seeing the songs a bit more and obviously the songs will evolve over time as well. Even after you have recorded it and put it onto an album, you're still going to play it differently.


Shannon: And I suppose at the same time too, I know with guitar you can get an exact tone but with vocals, you're never gonna get...until you get all the training and're never gonna get the exact note every single time. You might have a dry throat or all sorts of factors.


Shay: Could be excessively humid, could be excessively dry.


Shannon: Could be a cold day so all these different factors so I think vocally, it's show to show it's going to be different but the music itself, Max is pretty tight with what he does.


Andrew: Just as a reference point for a lot of the readers, who would you consider your main influences and comparisons to other bands.


Max: Locally or?


Andrew: Bigger bands, bands that people may know.


Shannon: I'm a massive Suicide Silence fan myself. But I wouldn't say that ncessarily influences any of...


Max: Yeah like I like Meshuggah but if you listen to the new song, there's no sign of Meshuggah. I like Dream Theater and Petrucci is like a legend but when you listen to our music, there's no sign of Dream Theater.


Andrew: The Meshuggah thing I can kinda see, there's a little comparison to Meshuggah especially in the heaviness.


Max: Yeah right. But I have a friend who also compares it to Gojira because Gojira have a lot of like the same notes and I never really thought about it but now that I'm listening to it like the start of Whisper, I'm like yeah why not. But Suicide Silence as well, we have some death-corish sort of thing, old death core sometimes.


Andrew: So you can't really pinpoint what genre you would belong to then. It's kind of a bit of this and a bit of that I suppose.


Shay: We're not really worried about it though.


Shannon: We set out if anything to not be stereotyped.


Max: It's just metal.


Shannon: I mean our first photoshoot, one of the biggest issues was not wearing anything that had something written on it just so that we didn't get branded...


Andrew: That sort of bands yeah.


Max: Like pink t-shirt's haha!


Shannon: Yeah like a pink shirt! That's pretty hardcore.


Shay: I'd like to point out at this point that I wore a minecraft shirt and noone noticed.


Andrew: Haha!


Shannon: Although that's also a personality like minecraft which I just got into that recently. But we didn't want you're all wearing quicksilver and surfy clothes, you're going to get that 'oh look at these richy riches into all the labels' or wear stuff from k-mart and then you get 'oh look at these scrubby poor bastards, can't even afford a decent shirt'.


Andrew: You can't really win in those situations so why even bother.


Shannon: Yeah so just go for what you like. But at the first shoot we just tried not in those photos you can't really see anything but black just for that purpose of not getting stereotyped straight away. Once people get to know who we are and what we do, they're gonna give stereotypes anyway. But we can avoid it for a little while.


Andrew: Well the best way to do is to simply see you guys live and that's it.


Shannon: Yeah exactly.


Andrew: OK so one more questions for you guys. As far as your first release, EP or album or whatever, When do you think that will happen?


Max: That's actually a nice plan. We actually have a couple of offers like we have had a big offer from an agency from New South Wales which they are really into doing that for us and doing some productions and also organising gigs for us at the same time.


Shannon: They were saying something like 1 in Brissy, 2 in Melbourne and 2 in Sydney.


Andrew: Now how did those guys get in contact with you?


Max: Triple J. And this guy is really keen, he's called us at least 2 times already.


Shannon: No 3, twice while I've been there with just you.


Max: Yeah so they really like the music, it's not just...this is not a genre they want to make money off you. The way they do the promotions process, everything is based on commissions, we're not really paying anything upfront. So whatever we make from gigs, they are just gonna take like 10% or whatever which is fair enough.


Andrew: Is that a continuous thing like a contract?


Shannon: What they said to us is it's like around $30 for 8 weeks promotions. So we go over and pay all the money to produce the EP obviously and for the $30 we get 8 weeks worth of them advertising the shit out of it and then they organise the 5 gigs which is their starter package which is 5 gigs and then that's obviously to cover their own arse too, cause if noone rocks up to all 5 gigs, well then they haven't got you booked in for another 10 on top of that. But if everything goes well for those 5, I'm pretty sure they're the type to keep doing it. If they're making money, they're making money.


Max: This all depends though but hopefully I reckon July.


Andrew: When the EP comes out you mean?


Max: Yeah somewhere around July maybe.


Andrew: So you'll probably have some big launch party or something for that.


Shannon: But that would depend because if we were to do it the way the guy was saying on the phone, it would be to record the EP and then do the 5 shows straight after.


Max: Because if we're flying over and paying for the tickets, why not do some shows while we are there or something.


Shannon: But that was a little bit of me because I said to him well to fly over there just to record an EP and then come home, it's a bit of a wasted opportunity.


Max: He actually suggested that before.


Shannon: It's a bit of waste opportunity and we want to do as much as possible whle we're there.


Andrew: OK well good luck with that and also good luck this saturday for your gig. It's good to see some new heavy stuff out there! Thanks guys!



You can catch Nucleust this Saturday March 15th at YMCA HQ in Leederville



Nucleust spoke to Andrew Schizodeluxe March 2014





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