For the second successive year, PlanetMosh is delighted to be the main media partner, and main stage sponsor, for Monsters Of Rot V, the annual celebration of the best in the extreme Irish metal scene. As part of our continuing build up to the August 1 event, we today turn the spotlight on Dublin grinders Abaddon Incarnate – for whom the fest will mark their last gig with current bassist Steve Finnerty.
AI (pictured right) are perhaps the most experienced band on the bill, having been around since the mid-1990s: so, PM kicks starts our conversation with guitarist/vocalist Steve Maher (whose dedication to the band cause is clearly demonstrated by the fact that he is based in the UK and travels back to Dublin for gigs, recording and rehearsals) by seeking some enlightenment as to what he attributes the band’s longevity in an era when many bands are “here today gone tomorrow” on terms of audience, media and record company whims?
Die hard attitude? If the band is inactive at all, I get really stressed out and pissed off; so, if we need new members or a new label, or anything, it tends to get sorted. I guess for the past ten years now me, Bill [Whelan – guitars and vocals] and Johnny [King – drums] have been pretty close and motivated to persevere even if we get knocked back. We all seem to get along well and there are plenty of other projects and interests outside Abaddon Incarnate to keep us all fresh.
Looking back to the early days of the band, what first inspired Maher and his bandmates to pick up their instruments, and is that same inspiration still fresh today?
Watching Napalm Death on BBC’s ‘Arena’ inspired me to be in a grind band… I still listen to and get excited by Dorrian/Steer-era Napalm Death, so I guess yeah it’s the same shit and it’s just as fresh.
Does the frontman see any similarities between the music scene and social situation back then and the circumstances today which seem to be aiding an emergence of a new breed of extreme metal acts?
It’s very different, both pluses and minuses. It’s cheaper to get high quality recordings nowadays, the young people are better musicians than we were… but, the internet has killed off a lot of income for bands re hard copy sales. The social situation is better, more jobs, better quality of life, better communication (mobile ‘phones, internet), 100 more channels of shit on the TV… [it’s a] more tolerant and open society today.
There are more extreme bands in Ireland today. I think in this modern age the environment is better suited to spawning extreme music. [There] just seems to be more talent and money around.
As we mentioned at the outset of this piece, the band is based in Dublin but Maher lives on the other side of the Irish Sea: so,what challenges does geography pose to you, or does it not really matter than much in these days when technology makes it so easy to share and swap things over the internet?
It takes about 34 hours for me to get to a three hour rehearsal! Technology is helpful in doing the admin stuff, but all musical stuff is done face to face, so geography is a definite hindrance… I did have a full time day job so if I wanted to jam every week all my free time was sitting on trains and ferries. I’ve cut back my hours at work now so my creativity can breathe a bit better now as last year I was suffocating.
I’m psyched to be able to start writing again and practicing properly and creating a new album. But I enjoy living in the UK: it has broadened my worldview. Looking back on my personality whilst living in Dublin, I can see now I was a definite redneck, small minded and limited in vision. Living abroad opens your mind – which makes for deeper lyrics. And the time travelling lets me gather ideas and have time to myself to organize my mind and make plans and check out new music and read new books,
I was reading on your Facebook page about how you came across a version of your 2001 album ‘Nadir’ which had been released in the Ukraine: not naming any names, but there are a lot of acts who would have flipped their lids and tried to sue, etc., but you embraced it and even went so far as to track down a copy for yourselves. Why did you go down that route rather than “hey, that’s our property and we want paid for it”?
It was licensed to (Ukraine label) Irond by Sentinel, so I guess it was something official to do with that. But when I received the copy of the tape it looked like a bootleg; it looked like Irond licensed it to someone else… But it’s flattering: I’m just happy somebody likes it enough to do that stuff and people over there buy it.
Abaddon Incarnate will never get rich, especially off Ukrainian cassettes! And Cory, our old bass player, used to always say “life is too short for drinking bad wine”: why fill your life with negative vibes? People bootlegging Abaddon stuff is good… I’m into shit being free anyway, so if you can make a few quid out of the band [as long as] you’re not producing crap or giving us a bad image or anything, then do it.
The real rip offs are the established labels. They take everything from you with minimal risk to themselves. Small underground bootleg labels are spreading the word, it proves there’s a market for the band too, there’s people making patches and shirts all over the place, you will never be able stop it. Why stress? Enjoy the attention!
Can you tell us a wee bit about your involvement in the ‘Fractured’ project (a series of documentaries being produced by film-maker John Mulvaney about the Irish underground music scene)? What is that all about?
John got in touch and said he wanted to make a documentary… It took a while to get everyone together as we had some problems – I broke a vertebrae in my back last year and slipped a disc so I couldn’t really walk very well, which made being in Ireland difficult to film it. But, it got done and it was massive exposure for us and it turned out great, so happy days… cheers John!
Apart from Siege of Limerick, MOR and the occasional one-dayer such as Perverting The Innocent and Unleashed (both of which are also backed by PM), Ireland as a whole seems to have a distinct lack of festivals. Do you think this is an issue, or is the balance just right, given the relatively low profile extreme music has in the overall scheme of things, especially when it comes to the mainstream media?
I don’t live in Ireland anymore, but I remember about ten years ago it was only Day Of Darkness – but there are little fests popping up all the time now, so the scene must be getting bigger, and there seems to be plenty of bands to go around. So, I guess the balance is right: it’s a small country and, unlike Britain, where the scene is very thin and spread out, Ireland has a unique closeness to it. Most of these festivals are a chance to meet up with people from around the country you rarely see week to week. But I can’t imagine festivals getting any bigger, to be honest.
Have you played with any of the other bands on the MOR bill before? And are there any bands you are particularly looking forward to seeing?
[We’ve] played with Okus and Guttrench. I’m looking forward to seeing both these bands… [and] also Jobseekers.
We hear we can expect something a bit special from you guys at MOR, as it will be the last gig with your current line up? Can you elaborate a wee bit more on what you have in store for us?
We are doing a hippy show! Johnny’s playing bongos, Bill’s on the sitar, I’m belly dancing and Steve F is rollin’ the joints, to kick start our new ‘Sgt Pepper…’ direction.
Hopefully people will start chucking pints of piss at us!
Seriously, though, it’s the last time you will see this line up. If you’re an AI fan, that might be important to you.
- Monsters Of Rot takes place at the Halfway Inn in Letterbreen, County Fermanagh, on Saturday August 1. It should be another great day, and one which PM certainly is looking forward to… Next in our series of previews, we’ll be catching up with the guys who make up Guttrench.