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Heavy Sentence's Gareth Howells: "…some of the bands have been great and some quite awful. I don’t really know much about the market because rock n roll is not a business to us"

Interview with Gareth Howells from Heavy Sentence
by Lior "Steinmetal" Stein at 14 May 2021, 10:15 AM

It is about to true to yourself, stay focused and set yourself goals. However, not every plan has to end up with something physical handed to you, like a bargain. Music is done from the heart, and doesn't really have to be a chip on the table to sold. There is that saying that it may as well be just a hobby, but it is more than that, it is a way of life, even though not so beneficial. The British Heavy Sentence reached back into the golden age of Metal and stayed there, embracing the good times and fortune of that age. With the coming "Bang To Rights", an old school debut that would make you wish you were there at the time, Steinmetal had a talk with Gareth Howells, co-founder of the band, about the new album, releasing, old school music and more…

Hello Gareth, it is great to have you for this interview for Metal Temple online Magazine, how have you been doing mate?

Good day sir! I’m great cheers, just tackling second coffee of the morning.

The UK, from what I gathered, is still under lockdown due to the third wave of the Covid-19 pandemic. How have you been coping with the situation? How does one keep his sanity in these rather trial times?

As I write this we’re awaiting the next wave of lockdown easing, so it’s looking positive, cases are down and beer gardens are open, but it’s been pissing down most weekends in true British fashion! It’s been easy to keep in touch with mates during lockdown and I was staying with a good pal during most of it. I’m missing my family overseas the most, but hopefully won’t be long before travel is back on.

Looking forward to the not too far future, do you see an end to this pandemic and a smooth return to the lives that the English society had prior to last year?

There’s an end in sight! I will just say this, please support your local independent businesses as much as possible when they reopen, don’t let corporate greed turn our cities into copy and paste replicas.

It was a first time for me to come across with your band, Heavy Sentence, but when I did and read about you guys, it was as if I was getting to know one of the old NWOBHM bands of the late 70s. Everything has been done in the old fashion way. What has been motivating you to follow similar footsteps of bands of the early British Metal scene?

It’s the music that we live for! We’re just being true to ourselves and keeping the flame alive, the same way those bands did.

Earlier on, Heavy Sentence released two EPs, which are actually 2 song 7’ vinyl EPs, reprising the dawn of the old NWOBHM scene. With plenty of bands releasing singles mostly in digital form, was your intention based on simply because it is old school or due to the fact that you believe in vinyl generating sales nowadays?

It was always our intention to release Heavy Sentence on vinyl. Bandcamp etc is good for many things, but for me it’s not a substitute for a physical copy. Records are the one!

At one point, you knew that you were heading for a debut record, and eventually you are set to release “Bang To Rights”. How did you know that the timing was right to head on and gather up an album instead of dishing appetizers for just a little longer?

Myself and Tim wrote the songs on the first 7” and we recorded with Tim playing all the instruments and me on vocals. We then put a full band together with Mike, Ed and Bry. Songs on the second 7” were written and recorded as a full band and we wanted to release something with the new line-up – at the time we had a live set of about 8 songs but not enough for an album. Once we had enough songs for the LP it was natural to do that next.

One of the album’s peak interest points is the artwork and its simplicity. Unlike the vast majority of bands, no matter the Metal subgenre, you guys decided that being modest was better. The drawing itself is quite impressive, generating a form of a rebellious nature. What is your opinion about the artwork? Was it a venture of a band young wild and free sort of thing or rather attacking the system?

The artwork is killer! It suits the record perfectly and brings to our minds the Punk and Heavy Metal singles we love from the 80’s.

 “Bang To Rights”, as a title, feels underground, a street driven kind of main theme, blue collar style that aims at the truth, brutally honest, yet unforgiving. How do you find the essence of this phrase? How does it represent the album as a whole?

‘Bang to Rights’ means you’re caught, guilty of a crime with no possible defense. We came up with it very early on as the album title and it stuck.

Slow and easy I came to the understanding that NWOBHM as a label of musical orientation for Heavy Sentence, was too general for what actually goes on song after song. When it comes to old school and proto Metal, you guys are all over the place. Whether it is paying tribute to the gods of your scene’s swagger and sound, but also generating great fusions of Punk, Hard Rock and early Metal. How do you find the band’s musical style and its direction?


It’s a natural blend of many styles of heavy music that we’re inspired by. We’ll keep heading in that direction and playing what sounds pure to our ears.

How would you say that “Bang To Rights” developed you as a songwriter? Would you say that didn’t leave any stones unturned with the experience that you have gathered up until now?

We all have experience writing music in other bands so the writing process is pretty natural and good fun. We’ll bring a few raw ideas into the practice room and take them away to work on between practices. In terms of my songwriting, it’s a pleasure to write with this band and see my ideas become part of something great.

Only recently Heavy Sentence became an actual full time band unit, since earlier on you were actually two members if I am not mistaken. How do you find the impact of the newly recruited musicians to the band on “Bang To Rights”’s songwriting?

That’s right, it started as myself and Tim, but really that was just to get the ball rolling – intention was always to put a full band together, so the lads are not really new recruits as we’ve been writing and playing live together since 2017. We tragically lost our good friend and guitar player Mike Woods at the end of 2019 and he was so important to the band - not only his songwriting but also his friendship, spirit and energy and we miss him every day, he was a true rocker! We have our good mate Jack (from Eliminator) in the fold on guitar now, so he’s the newest recruit - he came in to help out with some gigs after we lost Mike and he plays some killer leads on the record.

With “Bang To Rights” being made through the Covid-19 pandemic, how were you able to handle the process with all the restrictions and such?

We didn’t really take too much notice of the restrictions – it limited us somewhat in getting practices in, but we managed to get the album recorded during a period where restrictions were eased a little, honest guv’.

It is true that there has been a revival of old school Metal in the past decade or so, and also in the UK with a series of bands serving as somewhat of a reminiscent of the early 80s, maintaining the flame. Nonetheless, the contemporary form of Metal music has the larger portion of the market. With that factor, do you think that Heavy Sentence has to prove itself and its worth to gain attention?

It is very true, some of the bands have been great and some quite awful. I don’t really know much about the market because rock n roll is not a business to us. We write and play from the heart and if you like what we do then come with us and we’ll raise some hell together!

“Bang To Rights” is a record that is a swift piercer, it celebrates the classic with finesse, and shares several hits that could be a foundation of something great. Which of the tracks would you like to elaborate about in order to channel that greatness?

Have to leave this one up to the listener, we like them all.

With the UK scene currently shut down, in hopes that the tide will turn on a positive note in the coming months, do you see Heavy Sentence taking the stage near the end of 2021?

Aye, I hope so! We’re meant to be playing something in July that looks like it will be a wrecker so keep an eye on the usual places for details.

 Gareth, I wish to thank you for this interview and also major thanks for the old school dedication that sets the driving forces of the past in full throttle. Cheers mate

Thanks again pal! Bring the hammer down!!!


 



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