Fresh from a drum editing session at Sydney’s The Brain Recording Studios, three of the four members of local metal band Foundry Road have assembled to talk about their upcoming EP. Perched on randomly assembled chairs, drummer Brad Thomas and guitarist Scott Daniels allow the mysterious front man eXplain to take the lead. Simon Vincent is absent, but they joke that all “the important people” are present. “He’s a bassist” they laugh good-naturedly. “You can put that in there, that’ll piss him off!” “Just so we can show him!” It’s clear from their sense of humour that despite their brutal and aggressive stage presence, this band is a real family of like-minded musicians working together for a common goal.
The current goal, as publicised on social media, is the recording and release of their new EP, three years after their album Flood of Isolation. But wait! Releasing an EP after an album? “Money,” eXplain states bluntly, although the band adds in that the number of songs they have ready to record is also a factor. Still, it’s clear that money is a major concern, given that this new work is receiving much of its funding from the fans, who are essentially prepaying for the EP and various other rewards ranging from creepy clown hugs all the way to Simon’s signed bass. A relatively new concept, crowdfunding has given Foundry Road a significant boost to covering their studio expenses. “That’s why we started the Indiegogo campaign. We couldn’t afford to finish recording.” eXplain mentions that he was sceptical of the concept at first. “Do we actually ask people for money now? Before we do it?” But after seeing so many other artists from all over the world turning to crowdfunding, it soon became clear to them that it was almost necessary, given the changing and competitive nature of the music industry. Having surpassed their target of $1500, the pleasantly surprised band has no regrets, with further pledges received now going towards mastering and CD production. “The amount of support we got, within … not even two weeks of having the campaign up, we’d almost reached our goal.” Of the most surprising contributions made was a $400 pledge from a new fan in Canberra who had only seen Foundry Road play once. This enthusiastic fan will soon receive his copy of the EP, tickets to the launch, and Foundry Road merchandise, along with the major prize: eXplain’s shirt and vest, signed by the band.
This brings us to another question – with the shirt and vest gone, what is eXplain going to wear now? Finally the band reveals that there’s more to the upcoming EP than simply releasing some new music. This project brings with it some exciting changes. “We’re definitely going for a theme,” eXplain begins. “We’ve got some ideas we’ve been playing with, especially with our appearance and that… It’s Steampunk…” and it seems this time the entire band may be getting in on the image. Suddenly it all makes sense, with song names such as “Derail” and “Mechanical Mind” currently in the recording process, the EP is definitely shaping up to be a well-planned work of heavy metal art, and the launch is bound to be quite a show. “I’m pretty much building my own outfit,” says eXplain. “It’ll save some money, and I don’t think anyone will get what’s in my head onto something without me standing over their shoulder, so I might as well do it myself.” And so, with this EP, the band is refreshing itself in the ongoing quest to entertain the heavy metal crowd. “We want to keep putting on a show and not just playing music, and throw something different out there.” eXplain also talks about the Steampunk scene in America and other countries, revealing some of the more ambitious plans for Foundry Road. They hope that the new image will catch the attention of metalheads overseas, thereby expanding the band’s potential fan base further afield.
But despite the current success and progress the band is experiencing, it hasn’t always been easy for Foundry Road. Perhaps one of the factors that slowed the band down after their album was eXplain’s struggle with vocal problems. Unusually for a screamer, this appears to have had little to do with technique. At first identified as a possible cancer, the huge growths swelling in his throat turned out to be an especially bad case of tonsillitis, the culmination of a lifetime of smaller cases of the illness. eXplain reveals that this ordeal actually began during the recording process, in which he refused to undergo surgery in order to finish the album. “You can actually tell the difference between my voice throughout the album,” he says, describing how the swelling only became worse with time. “After I finished recording, I went and got them taken out. Had a 36mm and a 45mm tumour from each side of my throat.” Thankfully they were benign, but eXplain was forced to take an extended break from the band in order to recover. When he first tried to scream again, everything had changed. “It was bad. It just didn’t sound right. And then after time it sort of got better.” He describes the end result as being neither worse nor better – just different – and from the enthusiasm of the crowds at Foundry Road gigs, it’s clear this challenge has done nothing to diminish the band’s strength in the local scene. In fact, eXplain’s recovery has been so strong that he’s been able to do more than just scream. “One thing I’ve been working on is my singing,” he says, in contradiction to the common perception that screamers will always damage their voices beyond repair. “One of our new songs, Pecuniary Idols… I’m singing the choruses and that. So, interested to see how that goes down.” Of course, fans will already be familiar with his sung chorus vocals on the track Away From You, the film clip for which has recently passed 2000 views on YouTube.
Clearly, there’s nothing that can stop this band. Even from a short meeting with the guys, it’s obvious how dedicated they are to their music, and how well they work together. With their success in crowdfunding the EP, the thoughtful artistry of their new image, and their ability to overcome just about every obstacle in their path, Foundry Road is sure to keep smashing their way through the local metal scene and beyond. It’s in their name after all – turns out the meaning behind “Foundry Road” is, as elucidated by Scott, “the journey of metal”. So, in the words of their song Derail, “This ain’t nothin’, let’s make this fucking train roll!” \m/
There’s still time to get in on the action! Foundry Road’s Indiegogo campaign remains active until August 17th. Check it out and show your support at www.indiegogo.com/projects/recording-of-foundry-road-s-new-ep