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TORTURED DEMON's Joe Parkinson: "There’s no denying that our main sound is based around Thrash Metal, but we also have melodic sections, breakdowns, and everything that we enjoy about metal as a whole."

Interview with Joe Parkinson from Tortured Demon
by Leanne Evans at 02 February 2022, 12:19 PM

Thrash trio TORTURED DEMON have taken the UK by storm and firmly imprinted the thrash underground with their progressive thrashcore vibe, notably in their debut album release, “In Desperation’s Grip”. Barely out of school, these rambunctious musicians prove that age is merely a number, and talent speaks for itself. Having already floored Bloodstock in 2021, opening for XENTRIX and smashing the shit out of their own headliner, the lads have also been personally selected by EVILE to join them on tour, after seeing their unflinching ability to wreck necks and wreak havoc. Leanne Evans, Editor for Metal Temple, caught up with the band’s drummer Joe Parkinson to talk more about the band’s dynamics and the foundations of TORTURED DEMON and see what the next step is. Mark our words, TORTURED DEMON is a well-oiled, hefty thrash machine with a MASSIVE future ahead; these lads are set for BIG things!



Hey up Joe, how’s it been going for you all?

We’ve all been great, thanks! The last 12 months in particular have been sick, and we are looking forward to the year ahead.

I think the most natural place to get started, first of all, is to ask more about your beginnings as a band and dig deeper into the concept behind Tortured Demon. You’re a three-piece and all brothers, all relatively young, yet you’ve got such a mature output to your sound, almost as if you’ve been doing this band lark for years! How did you all get into music and playing, and then when did the idea to form a band come about?

It’s actually only me and Jacob who are brothers, but a lot of people always think Freddie is too haha. Our dad introduced us to heavier music at a young age, as he was always listening to Motorhead, Ozzy, Monster Magnet etc whilst we were growing up, and as soon as we were able to walk, he was showing us how to play drums and guitar. We’d jam stuff like Saxon, Cream, Ted Nugent, and Monster Magnet together all the time after school. Me and Jacob have always written original music too, and I still have cassette tapes from DIY recordings we did when we were 6 and 7 (even though they’re pretty bad!) Skipping forward to when we got into secondary school, we started playing covers with some of our mates, most notably doing the cliché ‘playing Master Of Puppets at the school concert’, and it was after this in mid-2018 when we realised that Freddie (who’d been friends with both of us for a couple of years prior) played bass, and we began writing our first EP as a 5 piece with the three of us, as well as another vocalist, and an extra guitarist. That formation remained for around a year, following which we parted ways with the two extra guys, solidifying our current lineup in January 2020. We then began work on In Desperation’s Grip shortly after.

Well, every day’s a school day! I genuinely thought you were all brothers, you’ve got a very brotherly bond about you, which is a something money can’t buy! So how did the name “Tortured Demon” culminate?

We thought it sounded cool, so we went with it!

And who’s the ‘brains’ behind the band, or do you each have equal measure of input?

I write 99% of the music, and around 80% of the lyrics, and that works well for us. The door is always open for ideas from Jacob and Freddie though. I usually dedicate 4-5 hours of each day to writing music, and recently I’ve been doing even more as I have begun work on demoing for our next release.

Do you find any challenges with striking a decent balance with being young, footloose, and fancy free and the commitments of the band, or is the band your complete passion and your way of indulging what you love?

As you might have guessed from my previous answer, I dedicate everything that I have to music, as it’s my passion, whereas Jacob and Freddie are more typical teenagers, although they still enjoy being in the band and contributing wherever they can.

Do you feel that there are benefits to being in a band with your brother? Does it add to the experience and enhance the intensity of the good times? Equally, do you find that if you have any challenging moments, those kind of “Smackdown” sibling moments, can get the better of you?

It definitely helps having Jacob in the same house as me, since I can show him new songs etc really easily, and he often comes in just as I’m stuck for a riff, and he’ll bring something sick to the table that I’d have never thought of! As for ‘sibling smackdowns’ haha, when we’re at shows or in the studio, we all recognise that we have a job to do, and we always make sure that it gets done properly.

Now your debut album “In Desperation’s Grip” was released this year. How did the concept of the album come about, and did you use the multiple lockdowns in the pandemic as a means of getting a shift on and creating your release?

Funnily enough, it was actually when we first went into lockdown that I started writing those songs, and at first, we were aiming to do another EP. However, eventually we had a chat and decided the challenge of doing an album would be exactly the sort of thing that would keep us ticking over through the pandemic, but also set us up nicely for when gigs could happen again, so we just kept writing songs until we had 9 that we were all happy with. It also meant that we wouldn’t need to keep playing older songs (from the time when we were a 4/5 piece) in our live set. We went into the studio for 4 days in the last week of August 2020, then an extra day in November to record an additional track, before releasing the album in February 2021.

If you could point a newbie of Tortured Demon to any of the tracks on your album, which would be your highlights you’d recommend and why?

For a newbie, I’d say “Cold Blood” for our melodic side, but if you’re after something heavy, “The Invasion” or “A Knee to the Face of Corruption” would be good choices! However though, if you’ve got the time, the album is best enjoyed from the start.

So where was your first ever gig and what was the point that you felt people started to ‘notice’ you on the underground scene?

Technically, our first ‘gig’ as Tortured Demon was at school in 2018, where we played some songs from our first EP, but our first ‘proper gig’ was July 2019 at Rebellion in Manchester at one of their (now sadly discontinued) Untamed Nights. For the first gig that we felt ‘noticed’ although there’d have to be only one contender, and that’s Bloodstock 2021. With the work that we put in during the pandemic, it was amazing to be invited to play Bloodstock, and seeing a record-breaking amount people crammed from the barricade of the Jägermeister Stage (which gave in under the pressure) all the way back to the stalls on all three sides at 12PM meant so much to all three of us. We weren’t expecting anywhere near that many people to come out for us, and selling out of merch a matter of minutes after our set came as a great shock too, so if anyone reading this was there, we love you all! Ever since then our inbox has been filled with messages from followers asking if we’ll ever be back, and we really hope that we will get the chance again one day, as it was definitely the highlight of our time as a band so far!

And am I right in thinking your dad is in a punk band? Have you drawn a lot of inspiration from him to create the band, too?

He is, and I’m actually filling in for him currently as he’s had to deal with some health problems, but I really look forward to seeing him onstage again soon! And yes, he’s been a massive inspiration to both me and Jacob over the years.

With you thrash trio being young, have you ever experienced anyone judging a book by its cover and thinking that you can’t possibly know what you’re doing because of your age? Personally, I find it mind-blowing that you each have such exceptional talent already, but human nature can unfortunately dictate that some folk may be driven by making assumptions…

Thanks for the compliment! But yeah, there’ve definitely been some people and organisations who’ve taken advantage of us in the past, and we’ve also had our fair share of older band dudes giving us underhanded comments along the vein of ‘You’re only getting opportunities because of how young you are’, but for the most part everyone has been amazing with us. James and Jayne Bennett as well as Drew Scott from the 0161 MUMC have been incredible with us right from day one, getting us gigs on the local scene back when we didn’t even have any recorded material, and they’re still supporting us to this day, which means the absolute world. We’ve made so many friends so far and the scene as a whole is such an inclusive and welcoming community!

Now, moving onto some of the sublime highlights you’ve amassed already (just to stick up a metaphorical middle-finger to any haters), you’ve been MEGA busy over these last few months, with some real pivotal moments in a relatively short-spanning music career. What have your personal highlights been?

Bloodstock definitely, but also our headline show in Manchester, getting to open for Gama Bomb, and our sold-out Album Launch Gig. It’s also been super rewarding to see our fanbase growing and seeing more and more people buying our merch and coming down to our gigs. We really appreciate absolutely everyone who’s supported us over the last 2 years, and we hope to meet as many of you as possible as we play further afield this year.

I’m sure I’ll touch on it more later on, but it’s also been absolutely mind-blowing to be booked to open for Evile and Xentrix this year, and we can’t wait to get to play those shows!

I mean, your set at Bloodstock was absolutely BLINDING and so well-received! You guys achieved the biggest attendance the Jägermeister stage had EVER seen, the barricade collapsed under the sheer volume of people and ferocity of the crowd, with your merch flying off the stalls in no time and the crowd absolutely lapping up what you had to serve. You’ve had an experience that most bands can only dream of, do you remember how you felt when you found out you’d be playing at BOA?

Thank you! I’d just got home from college when I saw that Simon Hall had messaged on FB letting me know that he’d sent the band an email, and I didn’t want to get excited at first in case it wasn’t what I thought it could be, but it was, and we were all so excited! We’re so thankful to Simon for booking us in the first place, and it was truly the best experience of our lives so far.

And were you absolutely bricking it when it came to your set, or were you fearless and just like, “let’s do this and smash shit up?”

A bit of everything! It’s an indescribable feeling that I hadn’t felt before, and I haven’t felt since… seeing more and more people arrive and us saying to each other “there must be 500 people here now…” and then “…1000 now…” and very soon “…I can’t see the end” but then the adrenaline of playing the show kicked in and we were back in the practice room playing the songs together.

There were some phenomenal acts in the thrash realms at BOA this year, namely Evile, Shrapnel and, of course, the mighty Kreator… who did you guys enjoy? Did you get star-struck at all with rubbing shoulders with anyone?

We enjoyed all of the thrash bands that we saw at Bloodstock, however Evile, Shrapnel, Divine Chaos, Onslaught, and Beyond Salvation were the highlights for me as they all put in flawless sets. Getting to meet members of Evile and Xentrix was sick, and we’re really looking forward to opening for them both this year. It was also really cool to meet Matt Alston, as he’s a sick drummer and Machine Head have been my favourite band since I was 13.


You’re supporting Xentrix at The Underworld and Manchester Academy and will also be supporting Evile on the impending “Hell Unleashed” tour, alongside other Thrash smashers Divine Chaos, did you guys think it would ever be as good as this as quick?

Honestly, it’s all been such a blur, and we can’t thank Evile, Xentrix, and K2 enough for giving us such sick opportunities. If you’d have told me two years ago that we’d be playing Bloodstock, and being booked to support two of the top thrash bands in the UK, there’s no way I’d have believed you!

And where do you think you guys will go from here? How big do you feel Tortured Demon can go? Are there any limits to your talent and what you aspire to achieve?

I have no idea! We have plans in place for 2022, and we are hoping to take the band up to the next level on our next album (I know it’s a massive cliché but it’s true). We’re going to be aiming to make the whole record sound more cohesive, and less like two albums mixed together. All in all, we’re going to continue to craft our sound, and we believe that we will be releasing an album that will place us away from the pack, but still appeal to metalheads of almost all tastes. I know every band always says that their new album is their ‘best’ because they’re ‘more mature now’, and most of them are lying haha, but 2 years for us is a seriously huge chunk of our lives so far, and we will be looking to make a big step up in terms of songwriting and overall quality on this next release, reflective of all of the lessons we’ve learnt since In Desperation’s Grip.

To date, what’s been your best experience in Tortured Demon?

BLOODSTOCK! And being booked to open for Evile and Xentrix, which will be killer, in February and April respectively.

And what’s the weirdest… I mean, have you had the opportunity to have any weird stalkers, odd things thrown at you on stage, or just something all out “what the hell happened there!”?

Seeing our friend Jonio AKA Papa Thrash dressed as a whoopie cushion at Summerslammer and then getting kicked offstage by security, even though we’d told them we were cool with him being up there was pretty funny… He definitely got the crowd going!

Which musicians have personally influenced you and do you feel there has been any relevance to this inspiration in Tortured Demon’s sound?

I listen to a wide range of metal, and everything from Thrash and Death to Metalcore inspires me. If I like something, then I like it, and I don’t see the point in only looking at one subgenre with blinkers on, refusing to take influences from other areas, because it’s only when bands open their minds with their influences that they start to create new styles. There’s no denying that our main sound is based around Thrash Metal, but we also have melodic sections, breakdowns, and everything that we enjoy about metal as a whole.

What’s the best piece of advice you’d give to any young, aspiring musicians?

Practice is key! I’ve been drumming since I was around 3, but I only really started to feel fully confident behind the kit when I upped my practice game around 3 or 4 years ago. My biggest tip would be to play your own simplified versions of songs you like, and then work up to getting more and more accurate to the original over months or even years, and during this process you should teach yourself the necessary techniques to pull off the more complex parts. At least that was my experience!

Now, tell me, hypothetically, if Tortured Demon could gig anywhere in the world, alongside three dream bands, where would you go and who would the bands be?

I’d probably say my dream show would be at Brixton Academy with Machine Head, Trivium and Cavalera Conspiracy. That’d be killer!

Finally, to round things off nicely, the signature “Leanne question” I ask in my interviews, indulge me and tell me who your fantasy celebrity metal tea party guests would be! You need to choose someone to cook, someone to chat with, someone to entertain you and someone to party with…

I don’t know… Honestly, I think I’d just chill with Jacob and Freddie and play GTA 5 haha.

Thanks a lot for the chat!

Thanks so much, Joe, it’s been an absolute pleasure!

You can catch TORTURED DEMON on the EVILE tour with DIVINE CHAOS, starting from Tuesday 15th February in Glasgow, tickets are available at http://myticket.co.uk



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