Interview: Alan Daly
Pics: © Olga Kuzmenko Photography
We had a chat with the winners of the Bloodstock Ireland Metal 2 The Masses competition This Place Hell shortly after their debut performance on the New Blood Stage on Sunday afternoon to talk about how they recently re-branded themselves, how they ended up on tour in Russia, and how several bowls of breakfast cereal were consumed during the making of their most recent music video. It doesn’t get much more metal than that…
Alan: Firstly, congratulations on your first performance at Bloodstock festival. I know you’ve been working towards this for a long time. How was it?
Stephen: Surreal. Because there was such a build up to it, it was weird that it actually happened. Now that we’re off stage it’s just like “That was awesome!”.
Dylan: It’s still sinking in. I need to go back home and then it’ll hit me.
Ryan: We don’t usually get nervous before gigs, but there was something about this one, in a good way, there were good nerves. Butterflies.
Alan: Were you happy with how it went?
Dylan: The sound was fucking immense. Standing up there, I could feel every hit behind me.
Mick: The crow was a bit slow moving. I think it’s just the day it was. It’s a Sunday.
Alan: It would have been nice to see a bigger crowd, but you were up against Jasta on the main stage. And it wasn’t raining!
Stephen: I was doing a rain dance this morning, so I was!
Alan: And this isn’t your first big festival. You played KnockanStockan!
Mick: That was actually amazing! The crowd was nuts at that. They were all off their heads on MDMA and stuff. It was brilliant. [Everyone laughs]
Ryan: It was almost a novelty as well because we were the only metal band that day, and probably the first band of the festival.
Alan: I’ve never been to KnockanStockan, but I didn’t think there would be any metal bands there.
Dylan: They’ve had Red Enemy there before, and Ilenkus I think maybe. But they’re few and far between. I think it’s just the people that run it, they’re like “I know those dudes. I like them. Get them on the fucking bill. Who cares if it’s metal. People will enjoy it.”
Alan: Do you think you converted a few new fans there?
Damien: Hopefully, yeah.
Ryan: Entertainment wise… We may not be their cup of tea, but you can definitely have a good time at a metal gig.
Dylan: I was talking to some dude who knows us, and he said he didn’t even know we were playing that day, and his friend who isn’t into metal just grabbed him and said “Come into this tent. This sounds fuckin huge”. And he was like “I know this band”.
Alan: Of course, some people from Ireland may remember you guys as The Devil Wants Her Swagger Back…
Alan: Tell us why the change of name, and if it has worked out for you.
Dylan: It was just the evolution of the sound. The name didn’t suit it anymore. It felt a bit juvenile sometimes. And the thing I always say is, if I was scrolling through Spotify and I saw that name, I’d be like “No”. So why would anybody else?
Mick: It very long as well. It was hard to remember. People always got it wrong.
Dylan: Especially in Russia.
Mick: People couldn’t pronounce it. It made more sense.
Stephen: We totally took it as a chance to rebrand ourselves as well. Damien had just joined the band, and the sound completely changed.
Alan: So you just released a new music video for ‘Filth’. Tell us about that.
Dylan: I went through about five bowls of Rice Krispies that morning to try to do that shot, and then he put his fag out in it in the last take, but I still took a bite. I nearly passed out at one point doing the video. That wooden shed was so insulated and it was a scorcher of a day. It was fuckin ridiculous.
Damien: I think it was about 33 degrees that day.
Stephen: I was also horrifically hungover.
Ryan: Wait till you see the bloopers video. That’ll be coming out soon.
Alan: I’ve noticed a pattern with your EPs and song titles – ‘Malice’, ‘Contempt’ and ‘Filth’. Nice short one-word titles. Is that a conscious decision? You already mentioned moving away from long names like The Devil Wants Her Swagger Back.
Mick: It’s not that. It just kinda works. Our new EP is going to be called ‘Lost’ as well.
Stephen: That’s it. From now on, we can only have one-word titles.
Mick: We’ll eventually just go down to just the first letter of each word. We are TPH.
Alan: So tell us about the new EP you’re working on.
Mick: We’re finishing off the new EP next weekend, but it won’t be out until the beginning of next year. And after we release that, maybe we’ll do something longer. We don’t even know if there’s any point in doing an album these days, you know? We’ve loads of stuff that we’re in the middle of writing that we want to put together.
Dylan: There are so many songs together. I want to put this out or I want to put that out. We have all these songs that we have recorded that aren’t out yet.
Alan: Do you find it’s better to release music in small EP sized chunks?
Ryan: For now anyway. It’s cheaper.
Mick: Personally, I prefer albums, but I think for modern people these days, everything is disposable.
Stephen: I don’t think the attention is there anymore with the millennials.
Ryan: We’ve so many songs stocked up, that we really have to find out which are the right ones to make it work. You have your whole life to make your first album.
Stephen: I also find that people generally have quite a small attention span nowadays as well. It’s one of those things that you constantly have to be putting stuff out. So we just try to keep the ball rolling.
Alan: You’ve another big gig coming up next week, supporting DevilDriver. How did that happen?
Mick: I don’t know!
Dylan: Pestering H [of DME Promotions].
Ryan: Basically just changing our arm.
Dylan: More or less. Every time gigs come up that he’s doing, we email him and ask if there’s any chance. Sometimes he’s like “Nah”, sometimes there are other bands touring with them, sometimes he has other bands already confirmed. This time he said he didn’t know, then we heard nothing, emailed him again, heard nothing, and then all of a sudden, he’s like “Oh yeah, the support slot is there for you if you want it.”
Ryan: It’s going to be an absolute stomper of a show.
Alan: Tell us who you’ve already seen at Bloodstock, and who you want to see.
Stephen: I saw Emperor and Judas Priest. Oh and Power Trip. They tore the place apart. They were unreal.
Ryan: Nightwish should be a great show.
Mick: Mr. Big.
Stephen: I think Watain are going to put on a fucking awesome show.
Ryan: At the Gates should be really good as well. But after Gojira last night, there’s no point in anybody going on stage. It was just unbelievable. That was our first time seeing them live because we missed them the last time they came to Dublin. They’re almost inhuman. Every hair on my body was standing up for the whole show.
Stephen: The drummer is an absolute machine.
Alan: So what else can your fans expect from This Place Hell in the near future?
Damien: New music. We’ll release more songs off that EP.
Dylan: We’ll be doing a tour off that EP as well. Hopefully, we’ll finally do a proper UK tour.
Alan: You toured Russia as TDWHSB. That was a big step. Had you toured abroad before that?
Mick: We had done a handful of dates in England. Some lad messaged us and was like “Do you want to go to Russia?”.
Ryan: We were very skeptical at first.
Stephen: It was St. Stephen’s day, and I remember messaging the band chat group and saying “This has to be fake”.
Dylan: We were thinking they were going to murder us or steal our money or something.
Mick: Of course, we had to pay. It cost us an absolute bomb to do it. But it was worth every cent.
Ryan: It was the experience of a lifetime. It’s a whole other world over there. Everybody was so grateful for every show they came to. We were surprised that people came in general. I would do it again in a heartbeat.
Alan: How about Metal Days or other European festivals?
Mick: I know they say that when you play here, they might pick you for Metal Days, but I don’t know how that works.
Dylan: If you go over there as a fan, you can hand a CD in as well. We’re just broke as fuck!
Ryan: We’re going to hassle as many people as possible to listen to our band.
Mick: This is where the work begins. It gets harder from here on in!