Shane Clark, guitarist with Vancouver’s metal crusaders 3 Inches Of Blood spoke with PureGrainAudio on the night of May 13th, 2010 before a show at Toronto’s Mod Club alongside Goatwhore, Burning The Day and Remain. Clark was happy to speak candidly on topics including the band’s current direction, plans for the next album and his taste in country music.
So, you guys are making your way west towards Vancouver on this tour. How’s it going this time around? Pretty much par for the course?
Shane: No, actually, the momentum goes up and down but right now the timing is good. Our momentum went down a bit in Canada because it had been so long [since the last tour]. About 6 months ago we had some great shows, especially in the Maritimes. We just laid some good groundwork.
Introducing people to your sound? Or is it that you’re better known now?
Shane: Well at least our name is out there now, to a point. But now it’s like more people may have heard the band but not a lot of our stuff. Maybe they’ve heard “Deadly Sinners”, which is from a few albums ago. With this tour though, we’re seeing the hard work [from previous tours] pay off. We toured Canada the month the new album came out, but now more people have had a chance to hear it.
So the response has been good, fans are liking the new stuff?
Shane: For sure, and it’s good to see, especially because we took a few chances. You get nowhere in life if you don’t take chances. Some of the new songs kinda threw people initially, but now they’re singing along.
Do you still get fans bringing plastic swords and axes to shows?
Shane: Not as often as we used to. That sorta happened back in Vancouver before Advance & Vanquish. There’s a lot of that in there, a lot of Tolkien references – and this was before the movies came out – a lot of that fantasy based stuff. We still have that but we’re not just about that. You know what? This is something I’m actually kind of happy about – a lot of the people that brought that stuff to shows, those were the crowds looking for a novelty.
Those who thought you were a joke band.
Shane: Ya, like they heard “Deadly Sinners” or “Destroy The Orcs” and they heard Cam’s voice and they were like “huh huh, this is great!”. Then they found out shortly thereafter that we’re not joking, Cam sings like his idols do. Those fans who brought the swords and shit, they don’t really come around anymore and I kinda like that. It’s great when there’s enthusiasm but then you realize that enthusiasm isn’t really sincere. It’s the kids that didn’t grow up with Mercyful Fate, and even the kids who missed out on Cowboys From Hell by Pantera. People would say [Pantera frontman] Anselmo was the next Rob Halford. And then he stopped singing that way, and the musical climate for vocals changed in the 90s. But there are a lot of people who were introduced to this kinda shit by us and then did their homework. Through interviews I’ll drop names of bands and they’ll discover “Melissa” by Mercyful Fate, just great stuff like that. We may be introducing people to their new favourite band through our style, so now it’s positive.
It’s too hard and grueling to do this if you’re doing it for a joke. But it’s part of the band’s history, being confused for a joke band. You know what’s funny? I remember hearing about 3IOB being a joke band before I was in the band, and I didn’t really quite get why people thought they were a joke. Joke bands to me are like Steel Panther, who admittedly are a joke. Back then I thought people were really reaching to discredit these guys and it had a lot to do with the fact that in Vancouver, the band didn’t come up through the metal scene. The came up through the skate scene, playing metal music at all ages nights. I was involved with the metal scene myself, where we’re grinding it out with all kinds of other metal bands, and then here comes 3IOB getting all these fans because they’re playing for everybody. They’re not doing this secular kind of thing.
You’ve gotta branch out to succeed. What are you listening to these days outside of metal, just as a music fan?
Shane: Lately, my music tastes differ a lot, especially on the road. I like listening to Waylon Jennings, and I’m into a Primus revival recently. I grew up listening to them, so I kinda killed Primus as a teenager. But I’ve been going back into the archives. I always listen to the Melvins and Clutch. Those are a few rock bands I like. I’ve also been listening to Jerry Reed. Ever listen to Jerry Reed?
Not really, no.
Shane: He’s a country guy. He kinda had a lot of crossover hits in the 70s. He wrote “East Bound and Down” and some stuff for Smokey & the Bandit and he had a couple novelty gigs. But he was actually one of Chet Atkins protoges. Chet Atkins is a country singer. He’s pretty obscure, a little before our time.
It’s good to have influences outside of metal, outside of what you do every day.
Shane: For sure, I listen to metal, I listen to Goatwhore. But I don’t really listen to bands who are doing the same thing as us. I don’t want to get tainted and fall into that adolescent mentality – “I only listen to death metal, I only listen to black metal” or whatever.
Cool. Helps you keep a fresh perspective on things.
The new album is more a blend of styles instead of one consistent sound.
Shane: Definitely. The last two are the ones Justin and I have been involved in. We were fans before we joined the band, but they had already done one kind of thing which – not in a bad way – was pretty samey. So what we wanted to do was keep that vibe, and put our personal influences in on this new one. The first one we did, Fire Up The Blades, was a big brawling aggressive album. But this new one is everything we’ve all been listening to, with influences from all over the place. So you’ve got that late 70s hard rock in there – proto-metal like Scorpions, UFO and Black Sabbath.
So you felt more comfortable doing that since you already had a certain sound dialed on Fire Up The Blades and the other releases.
Shane: Definitely man. We have short attention spans. As a music fan I listen to all kinds of music and I don’t like when bands repeat themselves, using the same producer every time and doing the same kind of songs. I want to hear different sonic qualities, and I want to hear people take chances. Probably the most perfect example, even greater than Neil Young when it comes to taking chances is Tom Waits. He’s a guy who has a crazy body of work, you can hear all kinds of stuff from that guy. I want to make something for the passionate listeners. For metal fans, look at the first four Metallica records, the classic ones. All four of those sound completely different. So we’re thinking about that kind of thing.
You can instantly tell this album is a lot more diverse in sound than Fire Up The Blades.
Shane: Totally. It’s kinda funny, the album comes out and we’re like “OK, what’s going to happen?” We’re going to lose certain fans and pick up certain fans. The response has been great though, especially in Canada. Our biggest fanbase is in Canada. We actually just shot a video for the first single, “Battles & Brotherhood” and for the second song, “Silent Killer”. I actually edited a little behind the scenes video which will be online soon. The video’s going to be cool. There’s some gore, there’s some blood.
And “Silent Killer” is very different from your typical 3IOB, it’s got more of a catchy rock sound.
Shane: Ya, there’s more rock in that one, I was just going to say. This is going to go down in the band’s history as the ‘rock record’. There was rock on Fire Up The Blades – “Trial of Champions” is pretty much a rock song. But we wanted to explore a few other things and it kinda happened by accident. It’s not like we were like “OK, let’s make a rock record”. It just happened that way. I think we can do better though. There are a couple songs that I wrote, and one in particular which I’m not going to name, and I didn’t like the way it turned out. I don’t think the quality control was quite there.
You mean in terms of songwriting or production, or what?
Shane: Well, it turned out OK but you’re never satisfied, you know, as artists.
It keeps you moving forward at least.
Shane: Ya, as long as I don’t ever cringe when I hear one of our songs. [laughs]
So the tour finishes up in Vancouver at the Rickshaw where you’re recording the show for a live DVD. Can you tell us a bit about the DVD and what can be expected from that?
Shane: Yeah. We’re really excited to do this because we’re not going to go back and fix things with it. It’s going to be how we are at the end of a tour. Just however it comes out is how it comes out. Whatever happens happens. DRI put out a live record when I was young, and it said at the bottom of the liner notes, “This is the show that happened”. It’s live. It’s cool that a band was confident enough and had the balls to go “here, this is the show that happened”. There’s going to be the show, some easter eggs and whatnot as well. There are a lot of fans in Canada that don’t actually get to go to shows, because of where they live or where they’re at in their lives, so it’s for them too.
Then it’s off to Amsterdam after that. Looking forward to it?
Shane: I really like Holland. Amsterdam is actually kind of a tourist spot. There’s great restaurants, there’s the bud. I come from Vancouver so I appreciate it for that, but there’s lots of jock dudes running around with big joints going “Can you fuckin’ believe this??” [laughs] But ya, there are a bunch of great cities in Holland that have all the things that you like about Amsterdam but without all the typical tourist stuff. We’re playing a festival called Dynamo there, and a few festivals all over Europe, and it all ends up at Download [at Donington Park] where we last played 5 years ago.
Back in the Advance & Vanquish days. Great album.
Shane: Thanks, but I can’t take credit for that, I’m not on that one at all. And the guys who did write and record it actually didn’t do any touring for it. They quit right after they recorded it, so the timing wasn’t good on that one. But I can’t thank those guys enough. Just giving us a chance with the band – they had laid down a lot of groundwork. But they weren’t interested in the grueling travel schedule. It started off when the drummer and bass player quit, because there were arguments in the studio, and then the guitar players quit at the same time. I don’t want to sound like I’m talking shit but some people are just different. Some people don’t really have a clue what the music industry is and what it does for you. They had a vibe which kinda stayed with the band [after they left] and the vibe was this: let’s say you get this great opportunity, say, to go on tour with Machinehead and another band. They’re maybe bands you don’t listen to. But you look at it like “there’s a lot of people that will be at these shows, so why wouldn’t we do it”? They’re like “we don’t like Machinehead, so we’re not doing it”.
So you’ve got these principles, and I look at it like an adolescent popularity contest. So what? Your five crust buddies at home are going to think you’re a loser. Who gives a fuck about those people. And in turn they would burn bridges with booking agents and other bands. There’s this domino effect if you get a reputation as a band that turns down offers – those offers stop coming. So when I joined, there were remnants of why those other guys quit. And Justin and I were the opposite. We were both looking for a full-time touring gig where you’re crossing new boundaries and stuff. We all know what happens when you have your pride and you end up staying home. We all know what’s at home. We all know what’s at the Cobalt in Vancouver, we’ve played there a thousand times. I’m thinking I want to see what’s going on over here or over there, I’m looking forward. So attitudes have changed, the band has morphed into whatever it is now and we’re collectively saying we don’t give a fuck and just want to write music that we like and tour with whoever. Luckily this time we got to tour with one of our favourite metal bands, Goatwhore. It’s icing on the cake really.
There’s this festival in the States we played once and there were a lot of bands there that I don’t like, personally, but that has nothing to do with it when you’re playing in front of thousands of people. If anything, it works to our advantage because we don’t end up sounding like anybody. I look at it all as positive. I’m keeping my tone low here, and my vibe mellow, but that pisses me off to no end – when someone basically has this opportunity of a lifetime and just pisses it away. I think it’s bullshit and it makes me angry.
Anything in the works for a follow-up to Here Waits Thy Doom?
Shane: There are song ideas going around. Justin and I have been talking a little bit about a direction, what exactly we want to be doing. The formula of not having a formula – I want to make that go away. Because that’s been kind of our catch phrase for a long time. But you know what? I want one. I want to get a formula going down. Maybe just streamline ideas and shit, instead of just throwing spaghetti at the wall to see what sticks.
Cool, we’ll look forward to hearing how it turns out. We definitely appreciate having the chance to speak with you. Thanks a lot.
Shane: Thanks, have fun tonight!