The Band: Ironsword
The Man: Tann - guitars, vocals
Interview by Vpower
Today I'm happy to have the opportunity to steal some time from Tann, the leader of the Epic underground Ironsword. They have just released a new album this year and despite the pass of time they still sound so under and barbarian as ever, which means they are back to make us enjoy. And enjoy is the thing I guess we are going to do right now with Tann's comments.
Hi Tann, you have released a new album, “None but the brave”, this year. How do you feel about it?
It feels good and it’s always great to be back with new music! “None But the Brave” is the album I really wanted to record, I am really proud of this new album. It’s a very honest album! A real homage to some of my underground fave 80s Heavy Metal bands...
Seven years between this “None but the brave” and its predecessor “Overlords of Chaos”. What have you being doing all that time?
Basically, composing new material. Unfortunately due to health problems I was forced to stay calm and still for more time than I expected. Anyway, I kept composing stuff so I ended up with enough songs for 3 future IRONSWORD albums! I am not sure if I will use all material, some songs are more primitive, others more complex, so right now I’m trying to compile the songs I want for the next album and start from there, besides I can’t stop creating new music. It’s in my blood! We are already working on the succesor of “None But the Brave” and it will be a very different album. Don’t worry, it will be in the same tradicional raw epic style of IRONSWORD, but different, because I always like to give our sound a different approach and re-invent ourselves at each release. Right now the line up is Tann on guitars and vocals; João Monteiro on drums and Jorge Martins on bass guitar.
I hope you are totally recovered from those health problems, at least your music transmits so… Anyway, you have not lost time, we are still enjoying this “None but the Brave” and you put already the carrot in front of us with a new album coming soon! Great! So, the fans were hungry for your music and live shows, I think this album is a good way to return, it sounds powerful. How was the reaction to the new release?
The reviews we’re getting so far have been extremelly good, from magazines and from our supporters. People were really surprised about the return of the band and the new album. Of course the expectations were very high and in general people really liked our new album and more important, our supporters kept our music alive. Even if “None But the Brave” is not their fave album, but as long as people continue to like our music and find it interesting and exciting, there is always a certain responsability in putting out great Metal music. I guess some people were dissapointed because they wanted something more in the vein of “Overlords of Chaos”. My main goal is always to create good quality Heavy Metal music and not follow the trend. We’re still faithful to our own sound and style, our underground attitude is the same!
As we say in Spain: “fos tastes, the colors”. But, sure, this is an underground full of attitude album. The epic riffs and the barbarian vocals are already part of your sound, something like a registered mark, easy to recognize...
Well, some people claim we are kind of pioneers in this sub-genre. I just think I took my main musical inspirations to a step further, making our sound heavier and faster, to a different level. It’s not the common Epic Power Metal thing. This is more Barbaric Metal! Some bands from the 80s were just a faster and heavier copy of PRIEST and MAIDEN. IRONSWORD basically is a mixture of several underground 80s Heavy Metal bands with our own personal touch and my crazy ideas. I know some people don’t like too much my vocals, sometimes they need some time to get used to it, especially when they hear it for the first time, but it suits best our style. I just don’t see it how different it could be nowadays. I tried in the beginning to do clean vocals, but I am no Halford, no Dickinson or no Eric Adams, so it didn’t worked and I was not too pleased. I felt more comfortable doing this Lemmy type of vocals, and that made the difference between IRONSWORD and other bands. It was almost sacrilegious to have this kind of vocals in this style. It became our registered mark so it’s easy to recognize our sound, it gives the band personality and charisma.
Certainly. Some days ago I published another interview with Grey Wolf, a Brazilian band thas has just released a very good Epic Metal album, and they had you as a refeence of their sound too, so it seems that, yes, you are already a kind of pioneer in this subgenre. How is the composition process inside the band?
I am the only one responsible for writting all the music and lyrics for the band. More or less it’s the same process I’ve been doing since the beginning. Writing one song at the time. I Write the song on my home studio, then we work together the song at the studio we rehearse. If it sounds good enough and give you goose bumps I don’t even try to improve it. Of course the other members contribute with ideas and suggestions. Some songs may take weeks or months to be finished, others are composed in 5 to 10 minutes. For me it’s a natural process and I don’t like to rush things. Yesterday I was listening to ANGELES DEL INFIERNO “Pacto con El Diablo” album and I was immediately totally inspired to compose new stuff! Maybe next week I’ll just hear some CIRITH UNGOL, EXCITER or HEAVY LOAD and the inspiration comes! The “None but the Brave” album was different. I did a pre-production of the album in my home studio, gave a copy to the new members and went straight to a professional studio and recorded the album.
Well, in my opinion, as long as you get inspired by acts such as Cirith Ungol, Heavy Load and so on, we can sleep quiet hahaha. What has changed in Ironsword since 1995?
In terms of sound, style and attitude nothing has really changed. Nowadays everything is a lot easier and faster to promote your band because of the internet, with all facebook pages, youtube etc, I guess that’s the main difference, the means available to spread your music everywhere and all technology, but in my opinion the scene is saturated with bands which lack originality. But, nothing is perfect, I guess you have to live with it and adapt...
When you started up Ironsword, you ever thought you would reach so far as you have gotten?
No, I never expected the band to survive this long. In 20 years we’ve managed to play live in several countries with cult bands and release 4 albums and I guess since we never changed style, never followed the trend, it was our undying resistence and risilience in the underground that gave us some respect and recognition and of course gain some popularity over the years. I never formed the band to become rich or to compete with other bands! I just hope we can release much more albums and be able to play live in other countries we haven’t visited before.
In general, to be a Portuguese band is a drawback to attack the international market? And for Ironsword?
Portugal is a very small country and never had as much attention as other Northern European bands, for example. In a way I believe we kind of broke that tradition and all rules. To me it’s the music that matters and not because we come from Portugal. I believe we opened the doors to some Portuguese newcomers as well. As I say, if you play Metal music from the heart and soul it does not matter where you come from! This is what really happened with IRONSWORD. We became popular in the underground over the years because of the music we create.
I totally agree, it’s the magic of the underground scene, no bounderies! You are touring around Spain this year, aren’t you?
Yes, so far we are confirmed to play 10th October at the Black Magic Night V in Madrid, and 28th November at Metalcova fest in Barcelona. We had much more invitations to play in Granada, Murcia, Almeria, so we are trying to book more dates to be announced soon for 2015 and 2016. It’s crazy! It’s awesome! I am really excited about it and I never expected to play this much in Spain. It’s time to practise my Castellano, last time I did it people thought I was coming from Burgos ahahaha....
Hahaha Not bad, well, when they believe that you are from Andalucia that will mean that your “Spanish” is perfect, so crazy as any local guy’s hahaha. I saw you some years ago in Madrid, playing in the first Pounding Metal Festival, alongside Ram and Omission. The show was intense as hell, I think your music is made for the live show...
Well, IRONSWORD is a different band live. We have a much more rock’n’roll vibe and there are songs we don’t play live because they work better on studio. I don’t like to reproduce the songs live exactely like they are presented on the albums. We like to play live a much more raw version, so our supporters can bang their heads, scream and put fists in the air! So, we try to be as intense as possible...
You are, indeed. How is the situation of Metal in Portugal and how has the crisis affected the Metal business?
In the last couple of years things are developing slowly in a good way, I think. Fortunately there are more new bands playing traditional Heavy Metal, more support from magazines and radioshows, more support from people attending to local shows, but it took some time. When we started, Heavy Metal was considered out dated, nobody cared for this kind of music, except a few headbangers that were into tapetrading etc. Portugal is a small country and of course back in the mid 90s everyone was into the Black or Death Metal scene. So, things are a lot better now in my humble opinion but it took some years for people change their mentality and start respecting other bands.
It’s good to hear it! And hope it continues this way for many years to come, with Ironsword ahead leading the army. Let’s dream (or have nightmares), just a little... You would reject Metal if...
I would reject Metal if Mortadelo and Filemón started doing IRONSWORD covers!
Hahahahaha Well, as this interview is in English and for sure we will have a wide foreign audience, let me explain that “Mortadelo y Filemón” is a very popular comic in Spain, that has been published for decades already, they work in a secret police agency and they are big disaster... So, I understand your fears hahaha. What bands you consider as Metal Brothers and which countries live Ironsword delivery with more passion in your opinion?
Well, it doesn’t matter where you play or how many people are attending the show, we always deliver the same passion, intensity and brutality live. Of course having a good or bad sound on stage can affect your performance, or if people are banging their heads and screaming their lungs out during our show, instead of being too busied on their iphones, sleeping or whatever. We try not to think too much about it, we kind of enter the stage like a bunch of brainless barbarians and let it roll, it’s the music that matters. As for bands I consider Metal Brothers, there are too many to mention, and it would be disrespectful if I mention only some and forget others. Hope you understand....
Brainless Barbarians hahaha very graphic and true. Do you have other projects apart of Ironsword?
No, I’m only focused on IRONSWORD. This is my life so I don’t have the time and patience for other projects!
A loyal warrior. Well, man, it’s time to be absolutely sincere: how many swords you have at home hanging on the walls?
To tell you the truth, currentely I only have 1 sword and it’s not hanged on the wall, it’s safely guarded on a closet. There was a time I had 3 swords, I ended up of selling one, another one was stolen, so nowadays I only have 1 sword. Unfortunately, the sword that appears on all band photos of our 3 previous albums was stolen from me some years ago...
Oh, it’s a shame, it would something as a emblem for Ironsword… Well, may be it’s time to order a replica or so.. What plans do you have for the future?
We hope we can record a new album next year if not we will try in 2017. Of course we hope to play more live shows everywhere possible, especially in countries we haven’t visited before. I really would like to put a new record out every year...
The thing is hotter than ever, uh yeah! Surely, we will have many news from Ironsword in the following months, so we will follow you. Thank you very much for your time and courtessy, if you wanna add something...
Thank you very much for this cool interview and all the support! Let me inform you that the vinyl version of “None But the Brave” should be out by now! To all our friends in Spain, hope to see you all on our shows! Come celebrate with us our 20th year anniversay. Check our updates and news on our official facebook page! Keep supporting underground Heavy Metal!
I am sure you will deliver great shows in Spain and elsewhere. Collectors, don’t miss that vinyl! Thank you, Tann, it has been a very interesting conversation, you are a true warrior and a nice guy too.