Interview By Ville Krannila / October 2009
Hailing from London, England, Savage Messiah was formed in 2007. The band currently consists of lead guitarist/vocalist Dave Silver, lead guitarist Sy Taplin, bassist Sasha Cron and drummer Ernie Nogara. In October 2007 the thrash maestros released their debut CD “Spitting Venom”, via bands own label. The album was produced by Andy Faulkner (Bolt Thrower, Siam) and received great press from all corners of the world, seeing the band drawing comparisons with acts such as Judas Priest, Arch Enemy, Carcass, Lamb of God, Metallica and many others. In early 2009 they signed a new record deal with Candlelight Records and entered studios to work on their second album. Results are now in our hands, produced by legendary Chris Tsangarides, “Insurrection Rising” is full of band’s trademark thrash riffs, furious rhythm work and ear splitting vocals. Steel Mill was happy to sit down with Dave Silver and get updated on Savage Messiah’s status.
Hello Dave. First off, you have just completed recordings for your second album – how have the sessions been?
Hi Ville, Yes we have just finished mixing the album and it’s sounding pretty serious! The sessions have been awesome; we’ve had an absolute blast making the record and we’re all really excited for people to hear what we’ve done.
You worked with legendary Chris Tsangarides on the new album, what kind of input did he give to overall sound of the band and the songs?
First off Chris is an excellent producer and we really worked well together. The great thing about working with Chris is obviously he brings a lot of knowledge and experience to the table but also he’s a total pro in terms of the psychology behind making a record i.e. getting a great performance out of you. He really pushed us to bring the best out of the songs and helped me out immensely as a singer. We worked on the vocal arrangements a lot and he really helped us realise what we wanted to hear from the album.
What would you say is the main difference between the new material and your first album “Spitting Venom”?
The new album as a whole is on a different level really in terms of maturity in both composition and performance. I would also say that there is a lot more variety as well as experimentation going on. I would consider this record to be the first true Savage Messiah record, in the sense that it was a group effort, we rehearsed a lot and then we all went up and stayed at the studio together and performed together. So the main differences for me are simply that the songs are stronger and more epic and the production is really strong so sonically the record is just a lot better.
You signed a new deal for Candlelight Records recently, what does this deal mean for the band and the future?
Signing with Candlelight is a really big step for the band, it will mean that we will get a strong worldwide release with much better promotion and support than we’ve ever had before and we’re really happy to be part of the label.
Let’s talk about the past for a moment, how did you start your career in music, was it obvious right from the beginning you wanted to sing and play guitar?
Well I started playing guitar at 13, I don’t actually remember my exact reasons why I thought I wanted to play guitar but I do remember when I got hooked I thought this is cool I would really like to pursue this. The singing thing happened by default really, we were rehearsing at this school hall in Worcester and the singer that we had was…well a little bit unusual and I was trying to show him how I wanted the vocal to go in some song that we were doing and so I just sang it and it sounded not too bad so I thought…ah fuck it I’ll be the singer then.
As a guitar player and musician, who and what bands were your biggest influences?
My biggest influences are Criss Oliva from Savatage, Yngwie Malmsteen, Michael Schenker, Alex Skolnick, all pretty traditional stuff really. Actually Mick Box from Uriah Heep is alright and I’ve seen them probably more than any other band so I suppose there must be an influence in there somewhere! My favourite bands are Priest, Maiden, Metallica, Testament, Queensryche, Savatage and then I dig contemporary stuff like Nevermore, Arch Enemy, Machine Head etc…
Before Savage Messiah you played with a band called Headless Cross. What kind of memories do you have from those days?
Yeah that was my first band, I had that going for about 5 years. We were based in The Midlands / Birmingham area which is where I am from and yeah, we were totally over ambitious and naïve and made lots of very strange decisions, but it was a laugh and I have only good memories from that band.
What was the main reason for splitting up that band and forming Savage Messiah?
Well, my old band had kind of ground to a halt, we were rehearsing in Cleobury Mortimer which is somewhere in Shropshire and apart from the nice countryside and the local country pubs which produce some excellent beer there is basically 0 chance for networking with other bands, musicians etc…so I thought it would be more happening for my music to move to London, and plus loads of other ridiculousness that happened between myself and the guys, so it was a no brainer in the end and moving to London was the best thing I could have done.
Savage Messiah, from left to right: Ernie Nogara (drums), Sy Taplin (lead guitar),
Dave Silver (lead guitar & vocals), Sasha Cron (bass)
© Savage Messiah
I understand you recorded “Spitting Venom” mostly by yourself? Was kind of process was that for you?
That CD was recorded in Coventry, and was actually intended to be released under the old bands moniker, but as it turned out that wasn’t to be. Recording things by myself though, well…it sucks really. Andy Faulkner who produced the CD did a really great job, but doing things like that on your own, having to do all the bass then vocals then guitar solos, rhythms, acoustic stuff well you end up spreading yourself too thinly. I’m still happy with the result though, and for what it is it’s a cool CD and it got us the deal with Candlelight so it has served its purpose I suppose.
Since the last album you have established a new line-up? How’s the chemistry in the band these days?
I think like most bands that aim to be successful, it is not dependant solely upon one person, it is crucial that you establish a core of like-minded people in order to share the work-load and basically just work together towards your common goal. So, like every band in its infant stages it takes a little bit of time to get the right group of people settled and unfortunately as it happened the first guys that jammed with me had other commitments to other aspects of life or no commitment so it was destined to failure. However, when I hooked up with Sasha and Sy it became apparent that we had a really good chance to build something solid and then when Ernie joined everything seemed to click into place, and so with patience and a lot of hard work from everyone we’ve managed to get the ball rolling and so one year on everything’s going really well. It also helped that Sy and me go back years as friends, because he is from Walsall and I knew him from the little scene of bands and musicians in and around the Midlands and just by coincidence I bumped into him in London where he’d moved also!
How did the songs on the new album come together, were you the main song writer or did you all collaborate?
All the songs were built up in rehearsal, so what would happen is that we’d come up with loads of ideas and then thrash them into songs and then I did the lyrics when we hit the studio, although I had the themes and titles done in advance. The whole process has been a lot of fun and I think having done this as a collaboration it has come out all the better for it.
What are your touring plans after the release, any gigs outside the UK coming up?
Yeah, touring is definitely on the agenda. The next few months for us are basically planning, organising, structuring etc…but I’m confident all these things will happen, so in the meantime we’re going to start writing the next album which all things going to plan we will start recording in about 12 to 18 months time.
How do you see the current London metal and thrash scene? Any new promising bands breaking through?
Yeah there are a couple of good bands down here, my friends in Damnas are excellent, and there’s a couple other notable acts kicking about. Across the board there seems to be a lot of interest in this type of music which is cool because its been so long since any really great band came out of England I think the next few years will be a really cool time for English Heavy Metal.
Speaking about guitars for a moment, what kind of gear do you currently use?
At the moment I’m using a Jackson Kelly, and the other guys are playing BC Riches. On the record though we were very lucky, we used just about every guitar available. We used an awesome Gibson Les Paul Gold top, Stratocasters, Telecasters, Superstrats, Steel, 12 string, Those old Blues guitars that I can’t remember what they’re called but the type that BB King or Alvin Lee would use, I recorded most of the solos with Chris’ custom ESP that I believe was actually used on the Priest-track “Between the Hammer and the Anvil.” Amp wise we currently use Marshall and Messa Boogie but on the album we used a Peavey JSX and a Crate Blue Voodoo, real amps, real guitar sounds, no processed shite and it sounds cool.
What in your opinion makes a great guitar sound?
Chris Tsangarides and his arsenal of custom gear!
The band has cited Judas Priest being an influence on Savage Messiah, in what way do you think Priest’s music is most clearly heard in your songs?
Yeah, Judas is a major influence on us particularly myself. I think the most notable influence is probably in the sense that with our song writing there’s a lot of variety and we’re not afraid to experiment, in fact we embrace it. And I feel that this mentality is very prevalent throughout the Priest catalogue and I believe that’s how things should be. And when you hear the record you’ll be able to hear that we haven’t made just a generic thrash metal record there’s tons of stuff going on, different styles, tunings, vocals, we’ve got keyboards on some tracks, Hammond organs, melotron flutes! Loads of mad stuff but somehow it’s cohesive and sounds how we want to sound. This is something we totally learned from Priest.
If you had to name just one, which would be your favourite Priest album and song?
My all time favourite Priest album is “Painkiller” or “Defenders Of The Faith.” Well, actually that’s a difficult question because I listen to Priest records in context so I think there are some awesome songs on every album. So instead here is my dream Judas Priest set list instead:
Between The Hammer and the Anvil
Out in the Cold
Screaming For Vengeance
When the Night Comes Down
Metal Gods/Breaking The Law/Living After Midnight medley 😉
Ram it Down
Some Heads are Gonna Roll
You’ve got another thing comin’
Finally, Any last words for the viewers of K.K. Downing’s Steel Mill?
Thanks for reading! And hopefully you’ll dig our music. Look out for the new record when it comes out and stay Metal!!!!
Thanks a lot for your time!
Savage Messiah on the web: