LOCK UP – “A Contemporary Take On Old School Grind”

May 1, 2017, 2 months ago

Aaron Small

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LOCK UP – “A Contemporary Take On Old School Grind”

Talk about big shoes to fill. Grindcore supergroup Lock Up – featuring bassist Shane Embury (Napalm Death, Brujeria), drummer Nick Barker (Cradle Of Filth, Dimmu Borgir), and guitarist Anton Reisenegger (Pentagram, Criminal) – have always featured the crème de la crème in their vocal spot. The 1999 debut album, Pleasures Pave Sewers, had Peter Tägtgren (Hypocrisy, Pain) behind the mic. Tomas “Tompa” Lindberg (At The Gates, The Crown) sang on 2002’s Hate Breeds Suffering, and 2011’s Necropolis Transparent. After an amicable parting of the ways with Lindberg, Lock Up enlisted good friend and metal powerhouse Kevin Sharp (Brutal Truth, Venomous Concept) as the frontman for their newly released and utterly relentless fourth album, Demonization.
 
Although it’s only just begun to delight fans around the world, Demonization was actually recorded in March 2016. “Yeah, that’s when I did the majority of my vocals,” recalls Kevin. “The process was a little different because the writing was broken up a lot between Anton and Shane; those guys wrote with Barker separately. Barker, other than being devastatingly handsome,” chuckles Sharp, “he’s really good at arranging stuff. Drummers are like that; they can put mathematics together. He would go and work with Anton on his tracks, work with Shane on his tracks, and then I demoed a few things. Actually, out of the gazillion times I’ve jammed with Shane, this is the first time we sat down together and worked out ideas. In Brutal Truth it was a situation where they would be like, ‘Here are these really fucked up tracks, now try and make songs out of them.’ Cause if you take away the vocals, you have no idea what’s going on in Brutal Truth; it’s just all over the place! Trying to make a song out of it was a little complicated, and there wasn’t much help from the other guys, they were too busy, lost in their own fucking issues,” laughs Sharp. “But this is the first time in a long time I actually sat down with someone and worked on different phrasing, different ideas.” 
 
Unbelievably, Kevin tracked all the vocals for Demonization in just three days at Russ Russell’s Parlour Studios in The UK. “We went in and the first day was like nine hours, second day was like 13 hours, and then the last day was like eight hours. By the end of it, I was fudge, I couldn’t think straight! Nothing like listening to blasting assholes for three days in a row non-stop; your brain just turns to goo.” After collecting his thoughts, Sharp elaborates, “We’d come in with ideas… Shane would run up and do a track, I would throw something against it. We’d just fuck around until we got what we wanted to hear. When you talk about tracking… the band obviously had other vocalists that were known – Tompa and Peter. There’s always going to be people who complain that I don’t sound like that, but I didn’t want to go and do an Extreme Editions Two or anything like that. I wanted to do something specific toward the music written. So we’d run through the songs and I’d have my lyrics in there… I wanted to do something a little bit more up in the register. I didn’t want to sound like any of the bands I’d been in; especially when I’d worked with Shane, I had to consciously make it not sound like Venomous Concept. The best way to deal with haters who say, ‘The demo days were the best’ is to try and steer away from sounding particularly like any of them. You can take aspects of it, like the way Tompa enunciates things; but tonally you don’t want to go anywhere near what they did cause he’s a legend at what he does. Tompa’s a friend of mine, it would be weird to try and sound like him.”
 

 
Demonization is available through Listenable Records, was the band’s previous label Nuclear Blast not interested? “Here’s the thing, Monte Conner – I’ve got tons of friends at Nuclear Blast; but they’ve got a lot of records! Laurent Merle from Listenable, he’s really fucking smart! I can’t speak highly enough about some of the logic that comes out of his mouth. For me… there’s no pension or retirement on Lock Up records; there’s just the ability to go out and play your music live. You do these records, you break even on your recording budget, you play the music, hopefully sell a t-shirt or two and come home with enough money to pay the rent. Listenable are absolutely into the record, and they’re full of cool people. It was a question of prioritizing, versus something that could get lost. I’ve seen plenty of records with bigger labels that… what’s the point? These guys are super stoked to do stuff for us, like print drink coasters and things like that. They’ve had good success with certain bands and I know we’re a priority, so that’s why we’re with Listenable.”
 
The artwork adorning Demonization is certainly a striking piece, rife with detail. “There was some Latin kids who came up with some t-shirt designs, and Shane really liked the devil character over the guy on his knees. Originally, we thought about doing something that was more symbolic. Then we decided that since the record’s basically a contemporary take on old school grind, we would try and do the same thing with the artwork; the whole political/social collage type image. I basically picked the images I liked, added other things, changed this and that; I do the art for the vinyl, and therefore it’s in a large format. Whoever the label has doing their artwork can always resize things down, and I know the colour tones will be consistent with what I laid out; it’s just a control freak’s way of making sure the artwork’s done right.”
 
“Demonization” is the name of track four, how did that become the album title? “Well, I wrote that one,” admits Sharp. “A lot of people loop it loosely around the election process in The States. Certain elements are obviously in reference to that… but Demonization, technically, is more like the psychological aspect of it; it’s the mentality that allows something like that. Everyone’s all freaked out about Trump; this is a Global thing. You can go to England with the Brexit thing; it’s a connection and a fear campaign – the whole Islamic fear. You know, I’ve read all this shit in history books several times over and I’m really confused as to why this is happening right now? This has never gone down well. I’m confused as to what the mentality is – that is the Demonization. I’ve got to be clear about that because when there’s songs like ‘Locust’ – I was doing some stuff overseas and learned that Locust is a derogatory term towards immigrants; I had no idea! In my mind, the Locust is the politician that’s swarming around and controlling the puppets; it’s quite the opposite of what’s perceived over there. It’s like whoa, whoa; good you asked that question!”
 

 
Track 13, “Secret Parallel World”, is a really intriguing title, and a great song – what inspired that? “Shane wrote the lyric to it, Anton wrote the music; it was actually one of the last tracks I recorded. If you can place your head in the song; the manic buzzing of the riff, Barker’s going off like a motherfucker. You’ve got to understand; I was in headphones for… there was a point where I literally fell down on my knees. I was almost in tears. It was like, ‘I can’t listen to anything right now, I need silence. You’re fucking killing me!’ It was so insane because we had so many songs written; there’s tons more. I would just be about done and Shane would come into the room, ‘I’ve got an idea!’ Shut the fuck up dude! Quit thinking, stop. There’s my memories and laughter on that song.”
 
Drummer Nick Barker is phenomenal behind the kit for Lock Up. As unbelievable as it sounds, one of the greatest has got even better. “The thing with Nick, it’s well executed and even though it’s extreme and over the top, I don’t think it’s too flash. He’s got some cool little ticks with the Rototoms, but what makes Nick great at what he does is that although he does play with triggers, he’s not enslaved by triggers. Most drummers, when they play with triggers, they get dependent on that and they hit lighter and lighter until they’re basically tickling the drum kit. That’s not the case with Nick; he hits like an asshole constantly! He just uses the trigger as something to give him a little more exacting tone that he wants; not because he’s not hitting hard. Nick’s a good fellow, man.”
 
In closing, Sharp comes full circle, revisiting the fact that he’s replacing a pair of legendary death metal vocalists. “There’s people who are purists and want Peter back in the band with that raw sound from the first album. But that was then, this is now. He’s got a certain style to him. There’s an off-kilter thing, the way his phrasing is, and his tone’s different. It’s the same thing with Tompa. Everyone’s going to have an opinion, and hold their records dear and true. But metal to me is more about unifying and supporting. Any time metal wins, that’s a good fucking thing! I hope the kids like what I did, I do.”
 

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