We all have bad days where we just want to scream until our throats bleed and, now, in the form of Hellblind, we have the perfect soundtrack. The band, an exciting new project from long-term collaborators Mark Clayden (Pitchshifter) and Paul Fletcher (Romeo Must Die, This Is Menace), formed to conjure up the heaviest, most pissed-off music they’d ever written and, as you can hear on their new EP, A Plague On All Your Houses, the pair certainly succedded.
Joining to provide Hellblind with the throat for this rage, is former Stampin’ Ground frontman Adam Frakes-Sime. We recently caught up with Adam just before the release of the EP to find out about all things Hellblind. Read below and listen along to the full audio via SoundCloud here or below.
What’s going on? You’re back. Back in a band. How’s it going?
Adam Frakes-Sime: “Yeah, I’m back, back in black. It’s good. So yeah, Paul and Will were in my last band. Romeo Must Die. I haven’t played at all since 2014, which was some Stampin’ Ground shows. Since then, it wasn’t like a conscious decision not to do anything, but stuff finished and I was busy with work. I have my own business. It was probably like, a year and a bit ago now and Paul phoned me asking if I wanted to come and jam. I said no and he said he’d got some songs and they were pretty good. He told me Will was playing the drums now and I still said no but I’d come and hang out and have some beers. So, I went down but it just seemed like a waste of time to redo something similar to what I’ve already done.
“In my mind, now, don’t get me wrong, it’s still going to be shouty metal but, in my mind, it’s coming from a different place. We started writing but most of the bands that I’ve ever done there’s always been like a general sort of plan like you’re going to merge a bit of this with a bit of this and see what happens. We didn’t really have a plan. We just started playing. I think they’re playing like guitars like five, eight strings or something so it sounds like if you’re in a room, it’s instantly quite crushing. Now, that’s not a new thing for bands to be doing that but it’s new for me to be in a room with it and to try and write songs in that format.”
You’d been asked a few times to come down but you’d said no, had you missed it up to that point?
“I kind of missed it. Playing is the most fun thing I’ve found that you can do pretty much. So yeah, I always kind of missed it, you go to a show and you’d like to be playing. But, at the same time, it wasn’t like I felt unless you’re really connected to something and it’s sincere it feels like a bit of a waste of time. If I’m honest, in 2014 we did those few Stamping Ground shows and it was awesome but, by the last show, because we weren’t writing anything and there wasn’t a plan it felt a bit… it didn’t feel true.
“I didn’t really notice until the last show which was Damnation and it was really good. I felt like, if you’re not pushing something, the levels of success don’t matter. It’s that feeling of being with other people and going towards a common goal that we believe in this and I want people to hear it and push it. If you’re playing songs that are 15 years old, whilst it’s great fun and awesome you haven’t got that same feeling of trying to push yourself and it’s not got quite the same grit.”
If you’re playing songs that are 15 years old, whilst it’s great fun, and awesome you haven’t got that same feeling of trying to push yourself and it’s not got quite the same grit.
I suppose that goes back to what we talked about before about Tom Araya playing Raining Blood…
“Exactly. I bet he was still having a great time, but it hasn’t got that feeling.”
Any apprehensions about jumping back in then?
“No, not really apprehensions. For someone who can’t hold a note, I’ve been asked to join quite a lot of bands. But, you know, over the last few years, nothing’s really taken my interest. This just sounded a bit different. It’s super aggressive in a different format than I’ve had to try and write to before. It also feels really nice, and the way it works is quite organic. As I said, we’re not trying to do something but the EP it’s quite diverse, and it wasn’t intended to be like that. We’re trying to find our sound so I think going forward, it will probably be a bit more streamlined because until I’d heard the EP, I didn’t know what was gonna sound good and what wasn’t gonna sound right.”
Mark and Paul said they wanted to write the heaviest, most pissed-off music possible. What did you want to bring to it when you heard it?
“I wanted and this is gonna sound ridiculous. Have you? Have you heard the Kirk from Crowbar solo album? It’s good. It’s quite a bluesy rock style, but there were aspects of it that I thought I would I quite like to give that a go stylistically in choruses and stuff. It’s not singing but it’s like a kind of tuneful growl, I thought I’d like to try to introduce a bit of that.”
Lyrically, there’s some quite personal stuff on there like Hitched. Are you coming from a personal point of view?
“Thank fuck it isn’t. No. I kind of wrote it about one of my best friends who’s going through an awful break-up at the moment. I find it really upsetting to be honest with you. I’ve found it with a lot of friends, you see them lose part of themselves to someone that they care about and the minute you get married you’re meant to be a team, aren’t you? It would seem that isn’t usually the case and it becomes a game of one-upmanship, spiteful jibes and there’s always got to be a winner or a loser and someone’s not doing exactly what they want to do. It’s bullshit. So yeah, that’s what Hitched is about. It’s about people living in a world that they’ve created but it’s all going tits up.”
Have you ever felt like that in a band because it’s kind of a similar relationship?
“It is a similar relationship. Do you know what… I’m lucky in that I really like everyone that I’ve been in the band with. Apart from the person that’s only been in the band for a couple of weeks and I’ve told them to fuck off but anyone that I’ve actually I spent a great deal of time with, I’ve been fortunate that they’re all a good bunch of guys. But, yeah, the song could relate to a friendship or to a band especially.”
What about other themes as the band came together during the lockdown and the shitstorm that the last two years has brought on? Are any of your lyrics inspired by that?
“Well, I was speaking to the others about this and they were saying that a lot of the musical was coming from that direction because they felt cooped up here and frustrated but, if I’m honest, the only frustration I felt about the whole pandemic was that I just wanted everyone to stop fucking moaning and get on with it and that’s harsh and probably not right but there are worst things that have happened. We’re not all being sent to go and fight in a trench. Yeah, there’s an illness which you can do best to try and avoid so fucking get on with it. It made my job a hell of a lot harder. I’m a self-employed builder and it was hard but you just adapt.
“The only thing I really miss was going to shows. I miss my socialising with mates I didn’t see a lot of people and stuff but it wasn’t the end of the world. I’m quite comfy. I’ve got fucking beer. Netflix. What more could you want? So it wasn’t really a motivation for me. It may be I think in retrospect lyric-wise it made me think about things that I wouldn’t have thought of as much just out of irritation. It’s generally about relationships that people have with each other or the way that I want to project or don’t want to project.”
On the subject of relationships, you recorded the EP with Scott and there is a lot of history with you guys as you were in a band together for a long time. Is that the first time you’ve worked together since Stamping Ground?
“No, I don’t think I’d ever go to anyone else because Scott’s so rude that you just become used to that. It would feel odd going to anyone else. I feel that anyone else was just was being fake. There’s no bullshit, we lived together for years. Scot’s downfall but also what makes him good is that he hasn’t really got much of a filter or he will just say that is fucking terrible. For me personally, obviously, we speak the same musical language. He can use reference points that make it very easy. He can say more Chuck Billy less fucking Evan and I know what he is talking about this. He’s really good.”
Yeah, I spoke to Venom Prison recently who said the same. If it was shit it was shit, keep doing it until it is right…
“So his studio Grindstone Recordings, we did the Romeo Must Die album in there. We didn’t have a deal. We didn’t have any money. So I said to him, I’ll build your studio if you record our album. So that was the deal. I built the studio he recorded our album.”
So, you scratch my back. I’ll scratch yours. The EP is coming out in a couple of weeks. Have you spoken to the guys about the long term future and where do you see your involvement?
“I would like to… the good thing is that there’s no pressure at the moment which while it is nice, I kind of like a bit of pressure because I think that can bring out the best in you. You know, so I’m thinking I would ultimately like to be busy with the band. As would the others, but I’m not gonna go and break my back to play some fucking two months of awful gigs. I’ve got no interest in doing that. But, if we can get a nice tour, a good tour with a good band that I want to watch every night and hang out we’ll see.”
Do you have anyone in mind?
“Not really. Just someone fucking good but I don’t really know who we would be paired up with. As the EP isn’t out yet I’ve had no feedback. I haven’t heard anyone say it sounds a bit like this. Or it sounds like this. I don’t really know what it sounds like. It doesn’t sound like, which might be a good thing or a bad thing, it doesn’t really sound to me like it’s of the time that we’re in.”
I’ve only listened to it briefly like once or twice, but I find it hard to pigeonhole it except to say that it’s heavy.
“Yeah, it’s heavy but it’s not old heavy. It’s not fucking Desecration or something. I don’t really know who would be a good fit for us to play with which could be a blessing or a curse that it doesn’t sound like someone because when you’re trying to sell a new band… Like when we would say we were Stampin’ Ground, we would say do you like Slayer? Do you like the Cro Mags? You’re gonna fucking love us. With this idea, because it was very organic, the way we just sort of wrote what sounded good, I don’t know who we would try to get on board with. I think all we can do is play. Ideally, I suppose you want to you open up some festivals are something where there’s a big mixture of people then you’ll find your tribe then…”
So, does something like Bloodstock appeal to you then?
“Yeah, it’d be great. If we got that opportunity to play it’d be fantastic.”
Okay, musically, where would you like to take it?
“Musically? Well, we’ve started writing and we’ve got another couple of songs already. Yeah, I really like the songs where there’s space. So the new couple of songs are a little more bass-driven to allow that that’s that space. Probably a bit more frantic drum-wise, but they sound like there’s a bit more space. It’s good that the second guitarist in the band, Charley, she’s a different age group to me and she has different influences and that makes it quite interesting for me. She’s the first person I’ve been in a band with that will give me ideas for vocal patterns. No one’s ever, ever done that before and some of her ideas are really the things I wouldn’t think of. It’s really refreshing and fun.”
This just sounded a bit different. It’s super aggressive in a different format than I’ve had to try and write to before. It also feels really nice and the way it works is quite organic.
Whereas you could sell Stamping Ground as a mishmash of Slayer and Cro Mags, it must be quite exciting for you to be in a band that doesn’t fit comfortably anywhere?
“Yeah, it is quite excting. Like I said, I’ve been asked to join quite a few bands in the last few years but nothing shown has really interested me. When I heard this, I didn’t really know what it was and it intrigued me. I know that we can split off in any direction that we want. I know you always can, you’ve always got the freedom to do that.”
Well you have and you have really have you? I mean, if you’d have taken Stamping Ground in a completely different direction and started sounding like Megadeth you’d have had your arses handed to you so, while you can do it, you run the risk of alienating your fans…
“Yeah, you’re right. I mean, this doesn’t sound anything like Pitchshifter I wouldn’t say but there are elements. What I liked about Pitchshifter is the claustrophobic feel that I feel they always have. It’s not a band that I would ever be drawn to usually, but they had a real claustrophobic feel and I’d like to maybe try and incorporate that a little more. Without the electronics but keeping the claustrophobic vibe. I don’t think we really ventured into that this time around but I would like to.”
The EP is just a taste of what’s coming up and we’ve talked about the long term. What about the short term?
“I think we need to get on the phone and try and get some shows. I really want to get that sorted.”
Going back to what you said earlier, last year I spoke to Colin from Hundred Reasons about his new project and how he had no interest in going out gigging in the Frog and Bucket to seven people a night for two months. What is the current short term plan for Hellblind?
“There is no short term plan. I’m literally making it right now as we discuss it, but the short term plan is that we need to play so we just need to secure a few support slots, I guess. Ideally, if we can manage to get into the festivals this year, do that because, whilst I had a great time at Bloodstock, I didn’t see very many bands with half the fucking balls that we’ve got. Now, whilst that’s a very egotistical thing to say, I think if you’re given the opportunity to play, whether you’ve got the talent, or you haven’t, you should be leaving fucking everything on the stage.”
In Stamping Ground, I don’t think I ever saw you guys play a bad show. Now, given your friendship with Scott and the current state of the world, this would surely be the perfect time for something again?
“It’s not gonna happen. I’m on good terms with everybody so it’s not personal issues or anything like that. Now, it’s just five individuals who are very different. It was never like, with Romeo Must Die. When we went on tour, it was really fun whereas Stamping Ground was not like that. There’s nothing wrong with that but yeah, you know, we’re just very, very different. It’s not like with Romeo, we’ll go and have occasional rehearsals once a year and have a little reunion, go in a studio and blast through a set then go out for a drink. That’s never going to happen with Stamping Ground because it would only be Scott and I that would want to go to a pub.
“We chatted and it was brought up because I think last year was actually the 25th anniversary of Carved From Empty Wounds but it won’t happen. Ian and I were into the idea and we got a lot of offers but Scott and Mobs just weren’t into it and if you’re going to celebrate an anniversary like that, it’s got to be the full line-up. However, it is an ambition of mine to… we haven’t all been in the same room for literally about 20 years. I’d like to just go for a curry and maybe have a little bit of a jam just for us but we’ll see.”
They were great times and it’s great to see you back doing this again. For those people who haven’t heard the EP yet, what do you think Hellblind can offer the metal fan in 2022?
“You can’t force people to like something so I don’t really care. Obviously, it’s nicer if people do as I’d rather be playing to more people than less, but we’re going to do it anyway. You know, you’ve got to write for yourself. It’s not forced, it’s sincere music because we’re not trying to do something. We’re just trying to write some fucking heavy songs. There’s a song called “Evil Eye” and the riff, I think, when Paul wrote that riff, I think we played that for about an hour and a half just that one riff because it is so fucking slamming, you know?
“I’m critical and I’m old, and I’m jaded, and I don’t like stuff and I’m not even playing so if I can sit in a rehearsal studio banging my head for that long surely someone else is gonna like it. It’s gonna make some other heads bang. But, if it doesn’t, like said, it doesn’t we’ll carry on going. It’s fine. I’m looking forward to playing. I haven’t played a show since 2014, and, yeah, I’m ready…”