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Stu Marshall Blasted To Static - Interview
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Blasted To Static

Blasted To Static is a relatively new band that initially began as a side project for many of it's members who are well known in the wider circle of classic rock and metal. Featuring legendary vocalist Jeff Martin (Racer X / Badlands / Surgical Steel), Aussie guitarist Stu "The Hammer" Marshall (Death Dealer / Empires of Eden / Dungeon), bassist Rev Jones (Michael Schenker Group / Steelheart / Leslie West / Gundriver) and drummer Clay T, this stellar lineup came together to come up with their self titled debut album released in May. We talk to Stu about the idea behind the band, working with the lineup as well as discussing the Australian metal scene and his work with Death Dealer.



Andrew: So the new band that you are working on with this self titled album "Blasted To Static", it has a fantastic lineup. Tell me a little about how all you guys formed together to come up with this band.

Stu: Essentially Blasted To Static came out of, firstly many years of being a fan of Racer X and Jeff Martin. I have completed 4 albums under the name Empires Of Eden and the snapshot of that is, I write all the music and I contact and hire singers that I'm a big fan of and over those 4 albums I had Udo Dirkschneider from Accept, Rob Rock, Zach Stevens from Savatage and guys like that and just really wanted to get Jeff involved on an album for many years. He was just a really tough guy to get a hold of so I was getting guitar lessons from a guy named Bruce Bouillet who used to play in Racer X and I just said, 'Look can I get Jeff's contact details because I would like him to sing on an album'. So I reached out to Jeff and I did a deal with him where I sent him 5 songs and basically he would do one song for Empires Of Eden and then there would be 4 songs left over for my solo album or something like that. And he just turned around and said, 'Man I really love these songs, can we make a band out of it?', and that's really where it all began is that he really liked the material and it resonated with him and over the course of 18 months we wrote and recorded the debut Blasted To Static album.

Andrew: Obviously people know Jeff Martin from Racer X and stuff like that, what was it about him and his particular voice that you wanted him to be on the vocals?

Stu: Being a fan of Jeff, he was really one of the first high screaming metal vocalists that I heard because I got into Racer X when I was quite young. I just really loved his sense of melody and his power, he's kind of [got] like a Rob Halford vocal thing but had a little more aggression and I just wanted to write for that kind of voice. That's where my heart is at which is that kind of fist punching power metal, that's what I'm into so contacting him seemed like a good idea and we made it work.

Andrew: Well I do hear a lot of influence from bands like Judas Priest and stuff like that. The song "The Hammer" in particular I definitely love because it's more laid back with a lot of groove to it but there's a lot of variety on this album, I guess that was something you were trying to achieve and not just sticking to one type of thing.

Stu: Yeah definitely mate. I think one of the things that myself and Jeff have in common is that we love a lot of 70's rock bands like Queen and [Black] Sabbath, especially Sabbath. We share a real love for Sabbath. One of the things that's great about Sabbath is, and your listeners will know who they are, but a lot of people who don't know who Sabbath are kinda think they are only one dimensional. But if you listen to "Sabbath Bloody Sabbath", you've got the song "Fluff" and some incredible acoustic passages and songs like "Changes" that they did and so you're talking about bands that kind of just did their own thing and created their own language. And so we just thought, 'Look, what music do we really want to do?', and that was the kind of stuff that we wanted to try. And while we're certainly not saying we're Queen or Black Sabbath, this time we just wanted to have an album that had some different textures on it and we just went with our heart to be honest. This is one of the most diverse albums that I've ever done and that's why there's a couple of ballads on there and then you've got the acoustic passages and then you've got the face melting metal as well, so there's a lot I guess that we're comprised of musically. We like all these classic bands and we just wanted to release an album that represented the kind of width of who we are. Apparently in Germany it's doing really well, the Germans really love it so we're all proud of it and we hope you like it.

Andrew: Yeah a lot of the things about this band does remind me, as you say of the classic metal, especially in a song like "Suicide King" which has a bit of the power metal influence. What was it like working with the other guys as far as the creative side of things?

Stu: Obviously working with Jeff, he's an incredibly creative guy. He'll throw some crazy stuff left of field and because I trust him so much, we just go ahead and do it and 9 times out of 10 it works really well. Our bass player is a guy called Rev. Jones, for those that don't know Rev, think Billy Sheehan on steroids. He's a really interesting character and an incredible bass player. And then we've got our drummer, a friend of mine for over 20 years called Clay T. who has been doing session work forever. We came together and did some shows in January in the States, we played the Whiskey up in Northern California and places like that and had a blast. So we got together and we decided it really did make a lot of sense, musically it works but personality wise it also works.

Andrew: So what are the plans for the band now? I know all of you guys have a lot of other stuff going on so is this band considered to be a side project or is it a band that you want to take full on?

Stu: Yeah that's a good question. I guess it started out like a project but when we took it live, it fused into much more of a true band for us and certainly a priority for me. Right now the label is looking at some opportunities for European festivals, we just missed the summer peak over in Europe at the moment so we might be doing some stuff early next year. Right now the focus is looking at album number 2, we just released the album on May 27th and like any album, it has a release cycle so we're sort of hitting the end of that release cycle now and [we'll] regroup and say, 'Hey what's next?' We were looking at some touring with Steel Panther which may still happen at the end of the year in the States, Jeff's really good friends with Russ Parish who is Satchel in Steel Panther, so that could be on the cards. But we're just really enjoying the release of the album at the moment and seeing what people think of it and promoting it.

Andrew: Mentioning Steel Panther, that would be a fun band to tour with and would go down pretty well I would think.

Stu: Yeah it's really super cool because we got to hang with Russ in Sydney when they played just the other week. Myself and Clay went along and hung out with those guys and they are really nice dudes. They are a professional touring band so what you see on stage, they are pretty well controlled on stage and just great people and so yeah, I think musically it would be a really good mix as well. We tried actually to get on the Australian tour and got really close but clearly it was a good decision to go with Black Stone Cherry as they are a headlining unit themselves so it made for a big double bill. But yeah, we just want to get anywhere we can get on at the moment and [so] talking to some promoters now. Andrew: So I guess there are some plans to do some shows in Australia then?

Stu: We had some plans, spoken to some promoters here and to be honest man, I'm really not sure. We need to make sure that some finances are available for the band and recently my other band Death Dealer had a tour cancelled here because of some issues with promoter funding and whatnot. So I really don't know, we're just waiting on finding a promoter that's prepared to bring the band out and can support it.

Andrew: Yeah I wanted to ask you about that. Death Dealer was supposed to do some shows which I think was supposed to be last month that it was scheduled, we were looking forward to that so what's the deal with them? You guys doing an album or something?

Stu: Well the band is still very active and together, we're basically starting to write album number 3. The last gig that Death Dealer did was the Motorhead Cruise with Anthrax and Slayer in the Bahamas late last year which was an incredible experience not just as a band but as a fan [laughs]. The absolute dream come true to be on the package and see the sights, it was really super cool. So we did that and then started writing a few tracks but our singer Sean Peck is singing in a band called Denner / Sherman which is 2 of the guys from Mercyful fate and he's actually in Europe right now touring. So we got Ross The Boss who is back out on the road with his Ross The Boss band, so we'll regroup and get the third album done. Quite a bit of material has been composed for that so we are all really excited for it. We'll talk with the label and see what touring opportunities there are, that will more than likely be on the European festival circuit next year and we're looking also at going out in March probably towards Sweden and Denmark.

Andrew: OK so speaking of places like Australia for example, what's your take on the music scene in Australia compared to how it is over in the US and Europe? Because it seems like everything is huge in Europe at the moment which I guess has been for a number of years.

Stu: Yeah man, I think when you consider that the Australian population is smaller than California and I always take my hat off to promoters in this country and local bands that are touring because it's a small market. It's very dedicated, there's nothing like an Aussie metalhead but the numbers are a lot smaller because the population is smaller. So it makes it harder for promoters to know that they are going to at least break even or make a few bucks and so the take on it for me is kind of the reality of numbers, Europe is a place that can sustain 80 thousand people turning up at Wacken and I gotta tell you mate, I think the Australian metal scene has had a resurgence over the last 5 or 6 years. When I finished up with Dungeon in 2005 - I can't believe it's that long - things just started to seem a lot quieter out there and for the last 5 years there's been a resurgence of killer bands. I can rattle the bands off for you, you got Lord, Darker Half, Vanishing Point, Black Majesty. I haven't even scratched the surface, these are just guys that are personal friends of mine. Taberah, Silent Knight from W.A., so the scene is incredibly strong with festivals happening here and there. It's just a shame there's no actual recording industry here to support the reality of that, we have 13 thousand people a night that will go and see Iron Maiden. There's a market for metal in this country but there's actually no labels funding artist development and that's what it all comes down to mate. The cash, who's got the money. But as far as metalheads, the buying public here and the fans, I think it would be hard to find a more dedicated scene in truth.

Andrew: Yeah definitely. I mean I follow the underground metal scene in Australia and especially in Perth and it's funny you mention Silent Knight as we just saw them with Taberah at a show a couple of weeks ago. But as you said, there are all these bands doing some great stuff, it's just a pity that they can't have the same opportunities that some other countries overseas do.

Stu: Another reality too is the reality of the government. I'm not a political guy but Sweden has an arts program that funds heavy metal bands, like actual government cash and I think that's the problem. Metal is really not recognised I don't think, I mean there's the Tamworth Music Festival, like come on!

Andrew: [laughs].

Stu: So I think the bands will keep playing, the metal will keep going, it's not going to go away. It never has, people thought it was dead. And so whenever I see a promoter bring out like Symphony X or any of these bands, I'm just immediately in awe of and respectful of the risk they take and the money they put out. I think we got a really good fertile scene, we just don't have the financial support.

Andrew: You were speaking of that stigma of heavy metal amongst the mainstream public's perception, do you think that stigma will ever go away and be accepted into the mainstream or do you think that's just how it is because of the nature of the music?

Stu: Well first thing I think is that's just how it is and I don't think we want it any other way, it's my music. I'm actually sitting behind a truck at the moment and it's got an Iron Maiden sticker on the back.

Andrew: [laughs] Well there you go!

Stu: So that's our badge of honour and I don't want Miley Cyrus fans to like Slayer, but you know what man? It's the same thing, we all know the story. My wife when I first met her, she came to a Dungeon gig and she was at first really concerned about it and whatnot and walked away going she never felt safer in a room because the friendship, the brotherhood is there and try finding that in another kind of music. You walk in as a stranger to an Iron Maiden concert and you wear a Priest shirt or something, you're part of the tribe. So that's something that I'm super proud of and I think that we all should be, it's kind of who we are. I've made some of the most incredible lifelong friends from touring and the experience of heavy metal so it sounds a little bit cliched but I think it's that way because it's true.

Andrew: Yeah I totally agree. I think the metal community at a certain level, is stronger than anything else out there in whatever genres of music that is out there. It's very cool to see that even though we don't have the same acceptance as other genres, that there is a certain camaraderie amongst all the fans out there.

Stu: Yeah it's never been any different man. From when I was a kid, you put on a Priest shirt or whatever and you're part of the crew. And the bands are the same, unless you're a tool, we're all fans. I've had a real pleasure hanging out...if I was to name drop a bit, but I've hung out with some really cool people like Zakk Wylde who I got to hang with him for 2 weeks. A few of the celebrities, they're no different than anyone else. They're just making a living and doing their thing and it's a day in the office so I think there's very little that seperates us.

Andrew: Yeah definitely the music connects everyone together. Well it's been great to speak to you today, I love this album and the band that you are doing, Blasted To Static and I hope that it takes off for you guys and hopefully at some stage we can see you do some shows in Australia maybe.

Stu: Mate thanks very much, I've rattled on about a whole bunch of stuff but there's some videos online on Youtube, you can check out some stuff at the Whiskey that's been uploaded if anyone is interested in seeing the band. We got a facebook page, Blasted To Static which we would love you guys to drop by and check out. The band will definitely be doing a second album, we won't be going away in a hurry so I appreciate your support and glad you liked the album bro!

More info on Blasted To Static at their Official website.

Interview by Andrew "Schizodeluxe" Massie on July 14th 2016