Dealing in savage Death/Grind, the UK’s Black Skies Burn are among the country’s hardest gigging bands. Tearing up and down the country with alarming regularity, increasing forays overseas, and regularly promoting their own shows. Guitarist Chris Marks gives Transcending Obscurity the low down on all things BSB.
Transcending Obscurity (Ewan): Firstly, could you introduce yourself, tell us who’s in the band and what they do, and provide a brief history of Black Skies Burn
Black Skies Burn (BSB): We are based in Didcot the Bowel of Oxfordshire and our style is Death Grind!
Simon (Wormy) Manion – Vocal , Chris Marks – Guitar, Will Michalak – Bass, Steve Butler – Drums
We started in 2005, myself (Chris) and former drummer Lee created the project which was far more Thrash/Deathcore orientated. We had some great shows early on, I think our second was support to Gojira, Lee left in 2012 to start a family, his last show was at the Oxford O2 supporting Chimaira. Steve took over drums from here and after a rocky start we started releasing Grindcore/Death Metal which is a truer passion for all of us. We are all huge Grind fans but struggled previously to cohesively get the tracks together, that is now a thing of the past as we continue to blast hopefully the world over, check out our website for a full history of all sorts of shite.
TO (Ewan): Could you tell us where the band name comes from, and who in the band came up with that suggestion?
BSB: The name was a random choice way back when, a mix of the Cataract track Skies Grow Black, we were also huge Burning Skies fans so it was kind of a hybrid of the two.
TO (Ewan): How would you describe the sound of the band to someone who hasn’t heard you before?
BSB: Controlled chaos with the added party riff thrown in. We aren’t serious in the slightest, a Grindcore party disco aka The Travelling Shit Circus.
TO (Ewan): And how would you describe the sound of the band to someone who has no idea what Thrash/Death/Grind are?
BSB: Fast as fuck, blast beats, party riff, some shitty beatdown to be finished off with as many swears as we can fit in the track
TO (Ewan): Who’re the band’s primary musical influences, in terms of style and sound, and also as individual musicians?
BSB: We all like Napalm Death, Cannibal Corpse, Dying Fetus, Slayer, Magrudergrind, Brutal Truth etc. so plenty of that, personal favourite of mine (Chris) are Scott Hull and Pig Destroyer so there the main ones, Worm likes a lot of cheese but that gets thrown out, were party but not that party, I think Steve would bum Danny Herrera (Napalm Death) if he had the opportunity!
TO (Ewan): Do you have significant influences from outside of Metal, or even outside of music as a whole?
BSB: Prodigy, Cypress Hill, NWA, Hayseed Dixie there’s likely more but these are accepted listening travelling between shows.
TO (Ewan): You have a new live album out, ‘Stuck on a Name Live’. Tell us all about it. How did the idea come about to do a live release for your 2nd album?
BSB: We were lucky with this one, Ian Boult recorded our set at Malusfest at SOAN (Stuck on a Name) last year, it sounded alright so Tim at RRSS Records decided to release it, the sounds pretty decent for what it is, huge cheers to Ian for letting us release it.
TO (Ewan): Does ‘Stuck on a Name Live’ contain any material which is new since your debut ‘To Punish and Enslave’? If so how does the new material compare/contrast with your older material?
BSB: There’s a few tracks yet to be released so check them out on our bandcamp page (http://blackskiesburn.bandcamp.com/) they will hopefully feature on our next studio album as soon as we finish writing it. Fingers crossed mid-2016 so keep ’em peeled.
TO (Ewan): The cover of the new album features a particularly graphic photograph. How did you come about this choice of picture? Where’s it from?
BSB: Fuck knows, Will created this beast as with nearly all of our art. He manipulates images to create the filth you see, the sicker the better! Hopefully he will set up a page for his hardgore designs very soon.
TO (Ewan): How does the creation of new material work in Black Skies Burn? Is it a band effort or do you work individually then come together?
BSB: Usually I write the riffs and attempt to get a song started, Steve will then add the drums, we will all try piece the puzzle together and eventually get somewhere we are happy with, Will then adds the bass and Worm adds the vocals sometimes aided with lyrics from Will.
TO (Ewan): When do you think a 2nd studio album will see the light of day from Black Skies Burn?
BSB: Fingers crossed mid-2016, we are about 5 tracks off I think, that will get us 15 tracks with 2 covers to finish, a mix of Death and Grind.
TO (Ewan): How would you describe Black Skies Burn’s prevalent lyrical themes? Are there any hidden messages or metaphors going on within Black Skies Burn’s subject matter?
BSB: Political views, propaganda, corrupt bastards, drugs, booze, porn, party themes aswell as taking the piss out of ourselves.
TO (Ewan): ‘To Punish and Enslave’ came out in 2013. So it’s still not that old. How do you view the album now? Does it still do a good job of representing the band in the present day?
BSB: Not really unfortunately, we play a bit off it still, but personally the newer stuff kills it, it was really a case of getting something out as we had not released anything for about 6 years, I’m glad we’ve done it but the newer stuff we have in our set wipes the floor with it.
For a better idea on BSB pick up our new 8 way split featuring 8 new tracks, ‘TO GRIND AND POUND’ out now on Grindscene Records, also featuring Holocausto Canibal, Kadaverficker, Shit Fucking Shit, Basement Torture Killings, Gout, Nagasaki Birth Defect and Judas Cradle. 41 tracks in all!
TO (Ewan): The album was self-released. How have you found going down this route?
BSB: DIY all the way, cuts out all of the bullshit and hasn’t slowed us down in the slightest, as long as you meet the right promoters along the way anything is possible.
TO (Ewan): ‘To Punish and Enslave’ has artwork by Phil Tolfree. How did you come to work with Phil?
BSB: We have known Phil through Burning Skies and Flayed Disciple, top lad and his art is mint, his tattoo work is killer so it was an obvious choice, would recommend him to anyone.
TO (Ewan): The design of the artwork, did that come from the band or the artist, or a bit of both?
BSB: We told Phil the title of the CD and the rest is history, Phil is the man !
TO (Ewan): Black Skies Burn has many many shows lined up for 2016 already. Here’s your chance to plug them to death. Do you plan to continue booking booking booking throughout the year?
BSB: We just see what comes in to be honest, see whats about and try get on the shows, currently we have our first mainland Euro shows, first in Lille with Unsu, then Xl Grindfeast in Arnhem headlined by Fermented Masturbation. I’ve also sorted us a tour bringing Cliteater over for the first time in 9 years this October which also features Forced System Fest, the UKs equivalent to an Indoor Czech style grind party. We might try book some more tours, watch this space!
TO (Ewan): What should an attendee expect of a Black Skies Burn show?
BSB: Stupidity, lots and lots of stupidity, piss taking, songs that suck and recently Party Cannons. Drunken debauchery is also accepted.
TO (Ewan): Are there any bands that Black Skies Burn would like to share a stage/tour with? How about festivals you’ve not yet played you want to play?
BSB: Cannibal Corpse, Napalm Death, Venomous Concept, Magrudergrind for bands, festivals any really Obscene Extreme Fest would be the winner but any open air fests would be grand.
TO (Ewan): What have been the best live experiences of Black Skies Burn’s career thus far?
BSB: Supporting Sepultura in Dublin is probably the best, the honour of supporting Sepultura on their 30 year tour was unreal, also having a personal chat with Andreas on the ferry back to the UK was a ridiculous situation, unbelievable to be honest, legend! A close second has been our weekender with Extreme Noise Terror, all the shows on that run were mental, a very recent favourite was our first show in Glasgow, the crowd there were nuts, shout out to Chris from Party Cannon for hooking that one up
TO (Ewan): How about a music video? It seems every band, no matter how small, does a music video these days. Does Black Skies Burn have any plans to create a music video?
BSB: It’s been in our plans for a while now, hopefully for our track hits from the mong, we will see what footage we get in Arnhem in January.
TO (Ewan): If there are plans for a video, what’s it going to be like? If not, what would you want to have in an Black Skies Burn video?
BSB: I’m going to guess a very smoky, drunken set up with as much stupidity as we can fit in the track length.
TO (Ewan): As someone who’s active in the underground, what’s your format of choice when purchasing new music?
BSB: CDs for most of us, Steve has a mix of CDs and Vinyl, not a huge fan of digital, or tapes or Floppy disks – fucking Nagasaki Birth Defect hahaha!
TO (Ewan): With the underground specifically in mind, where do you see the CD’s status currently and in the future? Can you see a point where they will no longer be used? And if so, how would that affect the labels and bands of the underground?
BSB: I hope they continue as well as vinyl, I hate digital if I’m honest. I’ve always been a huge collector of music and the package is as much a part of it as the music itself, I don’t understand the re-emergence of tapes but fuck it, at least it’s something to pick up, fuck digital fucking up record stores!
TO (Ewan): The scene in the UK is incredibly healthy at the moment. Who’re your favourites among the current crop of such bands from the UK?
BSB: Sorry if I miss anyone this could honestly go on and on but off the top of my head.
Warpath, Seprevation, Scordatura, Party Cannon, Necrosis, Judas Cradle, BTK, Desecration, Foul Body Autopsy, Unfathomable Ruination, Inebrious Incarnate, Gout, LWD, Dysteria, Gets Worse, Afternoon Gents, Decimate, Nagasaki Birth Defect, Crepitation, Cancerous Womb, Zombiefied, Beautician, Abhorrent Decimation, Atonement, Hades Lab, Omnipotent Hysteria, Engorgement, Atrocity Exhibit,Hot Cops, Foetal Juice, Anoxide, Iniquitous Savagery, Acid Shark, Merciless Terror, Daemona, Mother Corona, Desert Storm, NFG, Rectal Implosion, Body HarvestBrainshit, Nothing Clean, Vicious Bastard, Burden of the Noose, Warwound, GirlPower,Fetus Christ, Sefless,King Of Pigs, Horse Bastard, Evisorax – sorry if I’ve missed anyone, ya no who we like!
TO (Ewan): What are the aims and plans of Black Skies Burn for 2016?
BSB: Hopefully to meet more cool people who hopefully like us, release more music, new merch and not fall out with each other haha! I’ll try not to drunkenly quit this year.
TO (Ewan): Are the members of Black Skies Burn involved in any other bands? If so, here’s a chance to plug any non-Black Skies Burn shows or releases that are happening.
BSB: Not currently although I might be helping Forced System Carlos with a little project at some point, who knows what’s in store?!
TO (Ewan): Finally, thank you for taking the time to answer these questions. Is there anything else you’d like to add?
BSB: Get your ass out and support your local bands, your local promoters and your local venues, without you guys supporting shows this shit will die, GRIND the FUCK on 420 !!!