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Interview with Tom Woodlock (Drums) and Batman (Bass) of zhOra at Bloodstock 2017

Pictures : Olga Kuzmenko

Interview by: Alan Daly



Alan: Hi guys. Congrats on winning the Dublin final of Metal 2 The Masses. For those that don’t know who you are and what you do, let them know now:

Batman: We’re zhOra from Tipperary.

Tom: Yeah, it’s true. We’re definitely not from Dublin.

Alan: Yeah, I noticed that the guy that introduced you on the New Blood stage yesterday said you were from Dublin.

Tom: I didn’t correct him because my mammy would kick me out of the band, and probably her life, if I said the band was from Tipperary because we’ve been practicing in their garage for nigh on six years now, and if I just let some little blow-in influence where the geography of where the band is based, I’d be disowned.

Batman: I know better. I’m from Dublin. One quarter of the band is from Dublin. I’m the blow-in.

Alan: Tell us your roles in zhOra.

Batman: I’m Batman and I play bass.

Tom: I’m Tom and I play drums and vocals. He [Batman] also does vocals, but it’s actually only one word, in one song. He just says “No”.

Batman: Yeah. I also have the best undercut out of all the lads.

Tom: It’s actually an overcut. We went into the same barber and Batman went first and they cut off all his hair, and we were like “yeah, we’ll take half of that”.

Batman: My undercut is so high it just keeps going.

Alan: Tell us about your music.

Tom: zhOra’s music is what we are calling Irish progressive sludge. It’s not like regular sludge, it’s more progressive. And it’s from Ireland.

Alan: Like Ronseal… It does exactly what it says on the tin?

Tom: It does, yeah. What it is, to us anyway, is trying to put riffs inside the riffs Then you take those riffs and you put some more riffs into it. We like doing a lot of time signature stuff. We obviously love a bit of Tool and Mastodon and all that kind of stuff. Everybody has their bands that you’d see their sonic footprint in. I think you [Batman] were saying that Phil Anselmo was saying that some bands today try to take one or two bands and try to do that. But you kinda want to take your influences from everywhere. Like 11, 12, 13 bands and make it something slightly newer. It’s a familiar sound that we have but not in a way that you’ve heard.

Alan: So if someone was to say “If you like X, you’ll like zhOra”. Who or what is X?

Tom: Mastodon.

Batman: Gojira.

Tom: Those are the ones that are definitely the strongest.

Batman: But then there’s little four-second black metal breaks here and there, and down-tempo bits and up-tempo. What was that analogy you had recently? You’d look at us in the same way as someone slowing down to look at a car crash. Kinda like that. What the fuck are they at?

Tom: Oh yeah. It’s like a rubber-necking thing, where you see someone after driving their car off the M7 and you think “That’s gone wrong for him”, but you still slow down to look. It’s so bad but you can’t look away. So I’m not saying we’re really bad live and we’re like a car crash. It’s like the best possible car crash you could have. A good car crash.

Alan: You have a release coming up in October. Tell us about that.

Tom: Yeah. Ethos Pathos Logos. The 27th of October. What we’re doing at the moment is we’re going to self-release at The Siege of Limerick [one day festival in Limerick], and get it out there and into people’s hands. To be fair we’ve been writing and recording this for about three years. It’s been a long time, but we needed that time to do it because the concept behind it and the way we were trying to work the lyrics in with the general mood with the music, it took a long time and a lot of editing and rows about whether it should go this way or that way. But we’re going to get it into people’s hands at the Siege on the 29th of October, and we have some other launch dates in October as well; 20th 21st, 27th, 28th 29th. After that then, the next place we’re going to is Facebarmageddon in Reading on the 8th of December.

Batman: Hopefully after this weekend there will be a few other English shows.

Tom: I think it would be irresponsible of Bloodstock not to bring us back to be honest. We’ve been such nice guys.

Batman: On the Main stage!

Alan: Ambitious!

Tom: If you want something, you’ve got to want it!

Alan: What did it mean to you to get here through the Metal 2 The Masses competition.

Batman: It was great. I’m only with the band this year, but it’ll be the third time the band have given the competition a go. Third time lucky. We were delighted.

Alan: You previously played in Nautilus, right?

Batman: I was yeah. We did the competition three times as well. I kinda knew the feeling in parallel with the lads, even though I was only with them for the last competition. A similar kind of vibe. I was as ecstatic to get through as they were, because I’d done it the same number of times.

Tom: Third time’s the charm it seems. My mammy always told me to never give up my dreams.

Alan: And you played at Wacken last year?

Tom: That was a big bargaining chip for us. We got the footage of our performance from the show, so that’s a thing you can send around to other festivals, going “here, this is what we’ve got”, rather that your usual wall of text in an email. It’s a statement or testament to it. Also, Testament were really good the other day.

Alan: What’s been the highlight of the festival for you so far?

Tom: Decapitated so far. Ghost were unreal, but I’m just a huge Decapitated fan.

Batman: That was my first time seeing them, and they were great.

Tom: Did you like that part where they did all the riffs and stuff. That was my favourite bit.

Alan: What about tonight?

Batman: I’ll be all over Megadeth, big time. It’ll be like my fifth time seeing them.

Tom: Arch Enemy AND Megadeth tonight.

Batman: I haven’t seen Arch Enemy before.

Tom: They’re good. The new singer is unreal.

Alan: Ok, we have to wrap it up there. We look forward to hearing Pathos Ethos Lagos soon.



Upcoming “Ethos, Pathos, Logos” Album Launch Tour Dates:

20th October – On The Rox, Dublin
21st October – The Poor Relation, Cork
27th October – Central Arts, Waterford
28th October – Fozzys, Clonmel
29th October – Siege of Limerick

8th December – Facebarmageddon, Reading, UK

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