April/May 2015

by Darryl Kirk

Tainted: Playing Metal Catch Up

by Darryl Kirk

Tainted: Playing Metal Catch Up

There may well be some kind of warning here about adopted band names attracting their literal meaning, but let’’s hope not. Long regarded as one of the country’’s premier metal bands, Christchurch’’s Tainted have endured a tumultuous four years since the Canterbury earthquakes, the band striving to rebuild the momentum that was lost in those dark days after the February 2011 disaster. Personnel changes have been part of that process with only three of the five members remaining from the last time NZM caught up with Tainted, back in 2009. Six years on, but seemingly several steps back, the band got together with Darryl Kirk to discuss their upcoming third album ‘’Into Temptation’‘.

Tainted’‘s new album is a high water mark for local metal releases and has been a labour of love for a band totally committed to their vision of recording no compromise music.

Produced by Clint Murphy (Shihad, 8 Foot Sativa, Devilskin among numerous others) at Christchurch’’s Quicksand Studios, the touchstone here is death and thrash metal. Their sound is an intense blend of the five personalities that make up the band. Slim (Campbell Jenkins) leads from the front on vocals. Tim Facoory and Linly Baxter do the heavy lifting on guitars, while Morgan Oliver and Liam Stevens are the engine room on drums and bass respectively.

Tainted’’s first two albums came out quick succession, but it has been over six years since ‘’Carved and Created‘ was released. What have you been up to in-between?

Earthquakes. We were peaking before that but when September and February earthquakes happened all bets were off, everything stopped dead for us. Each of us was in our own different worlds, finding places to live, family worries, losing jobs… it was a terrible time for all of us.

Has a working scene returned in Christchurch by now?

The haunts have disappeared, it’’s flat. The venues are history. There is no real local scene. International bookings have mostly dried up, or only go to Auckland now. Until some places open and more people start going out, the scene is dead. It reminds us of old school days where we’d find an empty warehouse to play to people until noise control turned up and shut things down. The Christchurch earthquakes have damaged everything.

You had Clint Murphy producing as you did for ‘’Carved and Created’’. What discussions did you have about the sound you wanted to achieve in comparison  with that album?

We didn’t want it to have the same feel as ‘’Carved’’, and that was one of the early conversations. We wanted it to be in a sense bigger. We also spoke to Clint about pursuing different sonic elements, trying to push the boundaries. We sought to experiment with various tones with the guitars, bass and introduce new depth to our sound.

Did he bring some ideas you found useful?

Clint has an ear for textures and would pull out some interesting sound effects that are unusual for metal. It added a unique layer that guys just playing their instrument are less likely to come up with on their own. In one of the early discussions with Clint, he asked us to what degree we wanted him to push us and suggest things, or were we straight cut and these are the songs? He had some off-the-wall ideas, and we were receptive to those instead of being too precious about the songs.

How do you approach songwriting?

It’’s a group thing, someone will bring a riff to the room, and we jam on it then we start throwing beats around it. We each dissect and then add, it’’s a real group process. The songs don’t originate in the same place every time. A big buzz word for us is contrast; we didn’t want to make this album like the last one – it had to be a progression.

There were 14 songs and everyone discussed which ones they wanted to go on the album. They are like our babies, but in the end some had to be put down. Clint also had a lot of input on the song choices.

‘‘Into Temptation’’ is a very complex record, what was the toughest part to get to tape?

The emotion. The emotional element is the hardest thing to try and capture. Listening to ‘’Carved’’ we have learned so much. It’’s about hitting all those notes with the right intensity.

You’’ve played with a lot of metal royalty. Who has been your favourite band to play alongside?

One of our favourites was Chimaira, those guys were rad. We were there at soundcheck. They’’re totally down to earth going around introducing themselves to everyone. At the Metallica show, Liam forgot to tape down his pedals, so we snuck out to do that. We heard this noise and looked around, and Lars was standing there –– we kind of freaked and scuttled away.
After our second gig with Metallica, Lars came by to say hi and hang out. He was shaking hands and introducing himself we were like, ‘’We know who you are’.’ He thanked us for doing it –– we were shocked he was thanking us.

What gear do you rate as essential for your sound?

Slim: Live, for me it is wireless. Going from a cable mic to a wireless solved so many problems. I used to destroy the guys’’ gear and trip them up and strangle the audience. I use a Shure wireless, it’’s excellent.

Liam: For me, I have two pedals. I have a Sansamp V-Bass, which is the basis of my sound, but the big one is from Pepers’’ Pedals in Dunedin. It’’s a fuzz pedal called the Big Hefe. It’’s all over the album, it sounds fantastic. I’ve retrofitted it to all the songs now.

Tim: It’’s all about knowing your gear and how to use it. It’’s a trade secret.

Linly: With Tim and I there are small variances in our set ups and that gives us an edge.

Morgan: Coffee, I can’’t live without it. I often play live with other people’’s gear, so my kick pedals from Chicago are essential as any drummer would tell you.

Regarding management, do you do it yourselves or do you have outside help?

We do it ourselves. We haven’’t found anyone who has the same goals and aspirations as we have. We juggle the load between ourselves, depending on what we are up to at the time. We also have a good network of promoters who have our backs.

How do you handle promotion of the band?

Promotion is difficult. Things have evolved with online forums, Facebook, all those things. It used to be posters and word of mouth. Up until September, the Axe Attack was an outlet for metal, but sadly appears to be on an indefinite hiatus. Previous avenues are getting whittled down. It is so much easier to get the word out in mainstream genres. With metal you have to reach out to individuals rather than the masses, so they are harder to reach. We need to be more inventive; that’s part of our job.

Any plans to go overseas?

Yes. We need to stop giving New Zealand such a hard time and take it overseas.