Interview: Facing The Gallows
I think as a whole the South African alternative scene has so much potential and there is a lot of unnecessary politics that go on which I think is down to the fact that there is very little going on.
“Damn, this sounds so powerful – it’ so heavy! It’s almost like he’s painting a story with the lyrics,” James Irving says about his Facing The Gallows band mate and vocalist Bryan Binneman on their album Dead Mindset. “That was a big focus for us; making sure that what we’re trying to express on our album is very clear and strong. That’s why it took us so long to complete the album because we wanted to make it as solid as possible. We wanted to make people get the release and be blown away,” continues James as he acknowledges the band’s brilliance in their smashing full-length album released in February 2018.
31-year-old guitarist James, met his musical match four years ago when he joined the South African-based metalcore band Facing The Gallows. Being the newest addition to the band – James is in agreement that this is the best thing that has happened to him and he’s looking forward to getting that all-important dolphin tattoo. He explains, “Yeah, those tattoos were to celebrate ten years of Facing The Gallows – though me and drummer Vic [Monginho] haven’t got those yet because he’s coming up to his seventh year, so once we hit that ten year mark – we’ll get those tattoos. It’s super cool!”
While celebrating a big milestone for James and Victor is on the cards – there are plenty of other reasons to rip the cork of a champagne bottle. So far in 2018, the band has been working closely with South African events company Jam Packed Productions touring with international acts such as Secrets (US), Fit For A King (US) and coming up is Dance Gavin Dance (US), Our Last Night (US) as well as Hands Like Houses (Australia). And don’t for a second think that the band stops there because as James hints – things are in the pipeline for another release, “It’s not so much of a concept album but it follows our previous works like you know, there’s Doom I and Doom II, so we kind of want to progress that and have an album of just absolute wild, nosebleed songs. We’ve got plans, we’ve got ideas and projects that we want to do in the future.”
Those future studio sessions and long nights spent burning the midnight oil at the Facing The Gallows headquarters won’t be futile as fans are loving the current ear candy and high energy shows. Tells James, “Any opportunity to play on stage is amazing and watching the crowd moshing, crowd-surfing, headbanging is just awesome!” Songs that received the highest accolades from Dead Mindset are ‘Virginia’, ‘Pessimist’ and title track ‘Dead Mindset’. “Everybody has said that the progression from Chapters [which was released in 2016] to this is like ‘oh my god’. It’s so deep how people are going and you don’t expect that because, you know, you’re local. And you don’t expect a lot of these people to say anything because they’re considered friends. You’re chilling and having a good time and people are giving you great feedback and we’re thinking ‘holy smokes, we actually did what we intended to do’ so that’s just great,” continues James.
The future of South African metal is always hotly discussed with some bands falling off the register yet Facing The Gallows continue to thrive and here’s why. “I think as a whole the South African alternative scene has so much potential and there is a lot of unnecessary politics that go on which I think is down to the fact that there is very little going on. It’s kind of like we’re all stuck here in this giant fish bowl and we’re all becoming big fish and it’s causing a bit of friction. We need to support each other and set a standard for other upcoming bands. That line between local and international [standards] is very much blurred now and we have so much to offer. Every band’s formula is different but there’s just so much available to us that we really can utilise,” adds James.