One of the bastions of the Northern Ireland scene for the last decade or so, Triggerman landed the biggest gig of their lives – and, many would argue, a deserved reward for their grit, determination and sheer feckin’ work ethic – when it was announced that they had landed the support slot with Sepultura when the Brazilian thrash legends play their only UK headline show of the year, at Belfast’s historic Limelight on Sunday August 12th.
With a stunning new album under their belts to boot (http://planetmosh.com/triggerman-hail-to-the-river-gods/), there’s no better time to sit down with the band’s charismatic frontman, Bap (he’s the one with the rather impressive beard), and introduce Planet Mosh to the world of the men with their fingers very firmly on a trigger that delivers riffs and more riffs…
Bap, thanks for taking the time to keep it metal with PM… The reason we’re talking to you, of course, is twofold – first of all, and most news worthy, is the fact that you’ve landed the support slot with Sepultura on their only UK headline show this year: you must be pretty stoked! How did the gig come about?
We are really excited at the prospect of playing with such a legendary band who have written some of the heaviest riffs ever. We have been in regular contact with the promoter for a while since we were lined up to play with The Sword some time back but, unfortunately, the gig got cancelled. The promoter got in touch when Sepultura were confirmed and asked if we were available to do support – and, of course, we jumped at it!
The name Triggerman won’t be familiar to too many PM readers outside of Ireland, so can you fill us in with the story to date? Where is the band from and who is in it? How did you all meet?
OK, the band is from Derry in N. Ireland and the band members are myself on guitar and vocal, Niall on guitar, Rory on drums and Dixie on bass. The current line-up has been together for about two and a half years now, but the band has been in existence since about 2002. We have all known each other and been friends in the local music scene for a long time as the Derry scene is quite close knit, and different musicians are constantly working with each other.
Musically, where does Triggerman come from?
From the slightly heavy side of heavy…
We all love bands that have huge riffs and monster grooves. But in saying that we are partial to the odd bit of folk music now and then.
How would you describe your style of music? With your own almost spoken vocal style, and imposing onstage presence, a popular adjective among journos has been ‘preacher metal’: fair?
That seems fair enough: it just seems to be the right delivery for the lyrics and you tend to have to push the point across more vocally when all the amps are at full tilt – so it probably comes across like that. Frankie McClay, the sound engineer who recorded ‘Hail to the River Gods’ called it “Muscle Rock”… either way, as long as the music has groove and weight we are happy.
The other reason for us talking to you, of course, is your absolutely stonking new album, ‘Hail To The River Gods’. While you’re renowned for your consistent (kick-ass) sound, how much of a progression is this from what has gone before, in terms of song writing ability, production values, etc.?
Thank you… We’re really happy about how the band has progressed with this line up in place. One of the main reasons for this progression is that Rory has definitely been pushing things rhythmically. The stuff that he was coming up with as we wrote the album was exceptionally good… it really gives the album a different feel.
When it then came to the recording, we felt that it was important to make sure that the drums were high in the mix and really hitting as hard as the riffs. We also wanted the vocals to be crystal clear as we feel that the songs have something to say.
Tell us about some of the tracks: at first glance, there seems to be an almost mystical influence behind them (I’m thinking particularly of the title track and ‘Rage Of The Goddess’) but, if I’m right, it’s a bit simpler than that….
Well, ‘Hail to the River Gods’ is a tale of hardy men in olden days going off to sea, and giving praise to the ancient river gods to keep them safe. It does have a mystical element to it. Ancient Celtic mythology certainly plays its part, and I love folk music and I love the ability to tell a story in a song.
‘Rage Of The Goddess’ also comes from that part of my brain… but,there’s also nothing wrong with an intense two minute tune about steadfast mountain men with axes who’ve got your back (‘Rise Of The Woodsmen’)!
Is ‘Thon Strange Brew’ about Harp lager?
Ha ha!! No, it’s not, actually… it’s about any strange concoction… A mixture of people, a mixture of events, a set of circumstances… but, aye, it can also be about beer.
What’s your assessment of the Northern Ireland music scene at the moment? As someone who’s been working in it, on and off, for nearly 30 years, it seems healthier than it’s ever been?
I would agree with you there. There are mountains of great bands to choose from. And the thing is, with so much to choose from these days, what with free downloads, etc. Bands here are doing well making their presence felt.
One advantage about this particular part of the world is that it’s a very small country, and therefore the scene is very close knit: the bands, venues, promoters – everyone helps each other out (well, most of us anyway). This is something that you would agree helps to make the NI scene stronger?
Definitely. The fact that everyone knows each other creates a community feel to things. An example of how we benefited from this was on the night of our CD launch in Derry. In the middle of our first song Niall’s guitar head packed in. We were panicking about what to do for about 15 minutes, when another local musician comes charging through the door with his Marshall head and saved the day… we didn’t even know he was away to get it. Without that close knit community we would have had to abandon the gig.
The best known Northern Irish bands, to a wider audience, at the moment are Million $ Reload, Trucker Diablo and Stormzone – what other NI bands would you recommend that PM readers check out?
One band we love who have been going for years and just do their own thing, no matter what, are Slomatics. I can only describe their sound as crushing. Heavy beyond belief: they definitely aren’t for the faint hearted. Another band who I would recommend is Droids: they aren’t together that long but they write some brilliant riffs and are getting a lot of attention.
Thanks for your time. Catch you for a drop of ‘Thon Strange Brew’ at the Limelight…
Thanks very much for the interview, Mark…and the review. We’re really happy that you enjoyed the record…
We’ll see you at Sepultura… Can’t wait \m/
Triggerman support Sepultura at The Limelight, Belfast, on Sunday August 12th. Their third album, ‘Hail To The River Gods’ is out now and can be bought from