Don Slater, bassist for Battlecross, sat down with Maine Music News backstage at Rockstar Energy Drink Mayhem Festival July 17th to talk about metal, touring, and their new album. This is a tough job, but we are happy to do it, and wish this band all the best as they make their mark on the metal music industry.
MMN – So your new album, War of Will, has been out for a couple weeks now. How has that been received?
DS – Very well. We just received our charts in today. We are Number 2 on the Heatseeker chart, and 134 on Billboard. It speaks for itself. The fans have been coming out and having fun. I wish we could play more off of it, but we still have Pursuit of Honor to play. Now we actually have a diversity of music that we can play along with giving them a taste of the new songs. We are getting ready to roll out the music video for “Never Coming Back,” I don’t have a specific date yet, but soon. I wanted to write a good b-side, a good thrasher, man, something short, sweat, punkish. Our label, Metal Blade, listened to it and said “we like that song the most.”
MMN – Can you talk a little bit about the writing process, where do you get your song ideas from?
DS – For me, I just like to play around on the bass. I will hear something that clicks, and I will write off of that. I will record that and send it to Tony and Hiran and ask what they think about it. Tony, just being who he is, will respond with “I love your ideas. Here is what I built off of it. This is what I want to play.” It’s really about throwing stuff on the wall and seeing what sticks. That’s how we make our songs, it’s really that simple. If it feels like it’s Battlecross – if it’s heavy, aggressive, fast, energy – then we have a winner.
MMN – Let’s talk a bit about the Indiegogo Campaign. Fans seem to have the idea that once you put out an album that you must be hugely rich. What would you like your fans to know regarding how expensive it is to record, tour, and run a band like Battlecross?
DS – I want my fans to know that I am now 3 months behind on my phone bill, and it is now suspended so I don’t get any phone calls or texts. I am flat broke. I do this because I love it. Touring – especially on Mayhem – we were advised being on a bus was definitely more money. It gives you a place to go, a place with air conditioning, however, even buses break down occasionally. There are also gas and other expenses. Thankfully, we fill up food wise on catering as much as we can throughout the day, but when we have a day off, we are on our own. We don’t assign per diems in the band because its typically just one day. Touring is not cheap. No, we are not Metallica by any means. We are not waited on hand and foot. We are still out here just like we were another local band just hanging out with people and doing what we can and having fun.
MMN – Are you happy with the results from the Indiegogo campaign?
DS – I am, I am beyond happy. The outpouring from the fans has been incredible. We actually met and surpassed our goal so we could afford to be on this tour. Otherwise we were going to lose our ass. I have never liked being a beggar. The Indiegogo really helped out. Fans really want to see us come to their town. They were willing to give up $35 for an early release CD and shirt. All of that adds up so quickly. It’s incredible. It really is. Just to see the fans do that – Thank you! Thank you, guys! You, the fans, made this happen for us.
MMN – What was your goal?
DS – $25,000 and we exceeded it by about $2,000. We gave away some pretty cool perks. If anyone donated $1,500 – we will pick them up and they get to see what the tour life is like, what it is like to be on the bus, which I am sorry to admit is nothing special. You hang out, watch TV, maybe have a beer or two, and you go to sleep.
MMN – You had people that donated $1,500?
DS – Ya. They are getting signed guitars and going to hang out with us. We are going to give them the time of their life. They gave us $1,500 of their hard-earned cash; we are going to give them the best time of their life.
MMN – You mentioned that your music is heavy, aggressive and faster. What do you call what you do?
DS – Good old fashioned metal. High-energy. We give the fans what they want – they come out and have a good time, circle-pit, whatever it is, bang their heads. We are going to be out there doing the same thing, and that is why we are non-stop headbanging onstage. It is just pure energy. That is what metal is about – just good riffs, high-energy, and kicking ass.
MMN – Can you talk a little bit about the exposure you got from the Orion Festival?
DS – Ya. We got introduced by James Hetfield of Metallica! It does not get any better than that. Our set time was at 2:30 and he came out around 2:00 and was hanging out by our trailer. He’s hanging out, chewing the fat with us, having a good time. I’m sitting there thinking, “Here I am, hanging out with James Hetfield, back stage. All right, be still.” I had no idea he was going to be introducing us. I ran to the porta potty just before we had to go on stage, and the crowd went insane. I’m thinking, “What is going on? Am I late?” I ran outside, and I see Hetfield on stage, saying “Battlecross!” This is incredible. Then Trujillo runs by and pushed me aside with a friendly pat saying “Sorry, dude” and he gets on stage to introduce us as well. The exposure we had from Orion was incredible. Huge crowd and a huge thanks to James for doing what he did for us. Plus, being one of the home town bands for Orion was really awesome as well.
MMN – What is up next after the Mayhem tour is over?
DS – After Mayhem I think we are taking a few weeks off. Then we are going out with Hatebreed, Shadows Fall, and Acacia Strain. It’s going to be pretty much East Coast and a little Mid West. I think as far West as we go is Des Moines, however I believe there will be more dates to be announced. I would really like to see a California run added to that. California fans love Hatebreed. They are starting to love Battlecross. I love to get out there as much as possible, plus I love California.
MMN – Don, thank you for your time and good luck with the rest of the Mayhem tour and the rest of the year.
DS – Thank you guys, I love what I do, I love playing our music, and, man, it’s just a lot of fun.
Now, wait a minute. This wasn’t the whole conversation. True to form, Ann of Maine Music News, took full advantage of being able to interview the bands and ask some seemingly off the wall questions. As she says, “How will I know if I don’t ask?” After watching Don and the Battlecross boys on stage, she had to know how it is even physically possible to do as much 360 headbanging as this band does and not end up in traction. Don didn’t bat and eye and replied that he actually asked some friends, who happen to be chiropractors, for their advice. They suggested, of course, stretching, a neck stretching routine of 8 points, nice and slow. It works like a charm, but he did admit the first three days of a new tour are painful as he gets the neck back into the swing of things, pun intended. He also said that a couple of beers certainly helps as well. Ann however is quite certain that there isn’t enough stretching, or beer, to make the Battlecross headbanging style ever, ever, ever possible in her lifetime. Check out the video, people – these guys are amazing.