WHEN it has been more than two years since your last hometown show, the last thing you want to hear is “postponement”.
Pandemic, quarantine, cancellations – it is an experience shared by all recording artists the world over. Bleed From Within had been set to hit the road in support of their fifth album Fracture – released on Friday last week – but may have to wait until next year to do so.
Of course, it is a sacrifice the metal band willingly make in order to help keep the country safer. Of course, for some, a return to some kind of normal is on the horizon, but it won’t be quite as simple for those trying to organise months of touring across the UK and Europe.
Yet, to say that Bleed From Within were eagerly anticipating their show in Glasgow is an understatement.
Ali Richardson, drummer and founding member, tells The Weekender: “We do our best shows in Glasgow. There is just so much love for the hometown crowd; they have had our backs since day one, and it’s just grown gradually over the years.
“Whenever we do a headline tour, we always make sure the last show is in Glasgow. By the time we are all back, it will be 2021 at some point. So, it will be three years since playing. Hopefully, by then the new album has been digested and we’ll be able to come back and unleash hell.”
Of course, the band will happily play anywhere in the city – the size of the venue won’t matter. Indeed, the five-piece have cut their teeth in the same fashion as most bands in the country, playing up from the likes of Audio before sets at the Cathouse, which holds a special place in their heart.
Richardson added: “I’ve lost count of how many times we have played the Cathouse. It is an insane atmosphere when you sell that place out – it’s a sweat-box and a half. Glasgow has loads of wee venues like that, we did a show at Audio a few years back and that was awesome as well.”
It was looking to be a huge summer for Bleed From Within with international tour dates and a number of key dates. Among them was a much-anticipated return to Download – the biggest hard rock and metal festival in the UK – as well as a major tour in support of Fracture.
I’ve lost count of how many times we have played the Cathouse. It is an insane atmosphere when you sell that place out…”
The band has reached far beyond their roots, with mainland Europe a huge market for them. Previously, they have performed in China and Japan, and had dates in American also lined up. But the phrase ‘no place like home’ still rings true.
“The UK is still a special place for us,” Richardson adds. “We did our first ever tour here in 2007. From there until 2010, we toured the UK relentlessly. It will be interesting to see what the support will be like when we are back and headlining.
“I’m really excited to tour the UK again and see if the new album has changed anything. We have some pretty solid streaming numbers.
“Although it’s not in Scotland, Download has always felt a bit like a homecoming of sorts. We’ve not played there since 2013 – seven long years and we’ve had two albums out since then. We were booked to play this year, but it has been moved back. It’s always a good one for us, it will always be a special show.
“We’ve missed a few shows [due to the Covid-19 outbreak]. We are meant to be on tour just now – we had a five or six-week tour booked – and we had plans to go to America. It’s fallen through and it’s been a bit of a devastating blow.”
For Richardson, the pandemic – and the fact Bleed From Within are unable to play shows right now – has reinforced his love for playing live.
He recognises that there is a lot to give up when going on the road, but there is often a moment, right around stage time, where everything falls into place.
He reflects: “Touring can take its toll, for sure, but I live for it; being on the road is a huge part of who I am and what I do. I miss it immensely, at the moment.
“It’s not easy to leave family and friends behind when you go away. You miss birthdays and weddings and gatherings left, right and centre. It is tricky in that sense.
“But when we are all in it – when the intro starts, and you are seconds from going on stage – all that falls by the wayside. You go on and you realise why you are out there and why you are slogging it in the back of a van.”
Bleed From Within spent the weekend celebrating the release of Fracture. The album was teased by a handful of singles: The End of All We Now, Into Nothing, and Fracture.
Most recently, they unveiled Night Crossing which features a ravenous guitar solo from Trivium frontman Matt Heafy.
Initial reception has been largely positive for the material, with Richardson effusive in his pride for the ten-track powerhouse.
He says: “It is quite mad to be 11 years on from that first album and to still be as excited as we are [to release new material]. This is our strongest album to date – I am immensely proud of it. Everyone has raised the bar.
“The singles have gone down well and the reviews for the album have been great. They’ve all been raving about it. We are forever grateful for that. Honestly, that support and love is never wasted on this band.”
He adds: “We are a lot more driven now than we were back then [on our first]. At that time, we were new to the industry and we maybe got caught up in it – a deer in the headlights sort of thing – whereas now we are a lot more grounded We’ve been through the mill and we know how challenging and brutal this industry can be.”
With each new release, the band emphasise a need to progress as a key objective. Whether they are testing their technical ability or their grasp of complex musical ideas, they embrace any and all avenues. However, that is not to say it is an easy road.
“We are incredibly hard on ourselves,” the drummer continues. “I think a lot of bands are quite similar, but the lengths we go to to make sure that we are better on each release is actually quite detrimental in some respects.
“We are constantly trying to push the envelope and raise the bar for ourselves. And that sense, we are always in our own little bubble. When it comes to writing, when it comes to putting an album together, we tend not to look far outside the rehearsal room or recording studio. It is more about focusing on the task at hand, and how we can improve and how we can beat the previous release.
“Every album we have put out has been our best work at that time. But as soon as it is out there, we look back on it and look to see where we can improve and how we can progress.”
He adds: “The progression in our sound is glaringly obvious to anyone who listens to it. If you take our first, second and third albums and compare to Fracture and [fourth album] Era – which we put out two years ago – the evolution is obvious.
“We now have more tools at our disposal; we have a wider musical vocabulary, and we understand a lot more about ourselves. The band has never worked with a producer, so we’ve learned how to produce a little bit better.
“We just have more at our disposal – especially, in the form of [Scott] Kennedy, our vocalist, who continues to raise the bar massively over every release. He keeps getting better and better and, through his voice, we are able to incorporate a little more melody. We have Steven, our backing singer who can hit those notes as well, so we are always adding more things to the mix.”
…When the intro starts, and you are seconds from going on stage…You go on and you realise why you are out there…”
As well as calling upon more from their own ever-expanding arsenal of talent, Bleed From Within were able to enlist a heavyweight in the form of Trivium’s Heafy. Not only did he contribute to Night Crossing, but he also joined the band in making a unique music video which shows all six rattling through the track in a group chat.
Despite humble beginnings in Lanarkshire, Bleed From Within have made an impression on a number of big names in the worldwide metal scene. They have played on the bill with Megadeth and Lamb of God and stand their own against anything the genre can produce.
Richardson looks back on the link-up with Heafy and admits he still gets a rush from hearing those from some of the industry’s biggest metal acts sounded their appreciation for Bleed From Within.
He explains: “Just after the release of Era [in 2018], I remember Matt and a couple of the other guys in Trivium were tagging us on social media and saying it was their favourite album of the year. Which was pretty cool; obviously, we’ve been big fans of them for years and have seen them live countless times.
“So, we reached out to them and sent them a care package. Then, last summer, we had a wee day off [while in Europe] and reached out to Matt and he got us on the guestlist for a Trivium show and went backstage and had some beers and hung out for a few hours.
“We sort of spoke about the idea of working together on something and he was pretty keen. As we were writing the track, Goonzi [guitarist Craig Gowans] had this big open melodic section and he was like: ‘F*** it, I’m going to see if Matt wants to do a solo on this…’
“He jumped at the chance and it was cool to get him on board because he is an insane guitar player – and he absolutely smashed that solo, man. Still not sick of listening to it.”
“It’s nuts,” he added. “We had some shows last year with Lamb of God and Of Mice and Men, and obviously met up with Trivium. These are bands that we have listened to for so years, and so hearing them complimenting your music or getting behind what you are doing is just an amazing feeling.
“Bleed From Within played some shows with Megadeth back in 2013 after [Dave] Mustaine picked us out from a list of bands and was like: ‘Yeah, you guys are great’. Afterwards, we have Chris Broderick and Shawn Drover coming into our dressing room after each gig to compliment us.
“It’s so cool when bands like that just leave their ego at the door and they are not afraid to compliment the younger bands. There will come a point when the legacy bands – the likes of Metallica, Iron Maiden, Rammstein – will have to take a step down. The new generation will then have to take a step up, and it’s cool to see the older guys supporting that.”