Local rock band Stormbringer have a sound that’s going to take them to the biggest stages but they’re happy to pay their dues in smaller clubs and venues. With a string of critically acclaimed albums and fresh from their support slot at Sixfields Rock Festival, Peter Dennis spoke to vocalist Jimi Brown and bassist Darren McCullagh for an exclusive chat.
Jimi joined the band just prior to the release of the bands second album. How did you fit in?
Jimi: The thing I’m most proud of is we didn’t cancel any shows. It wasn’t planned but I slotted right in. They went ‘Right, you’ve got three weeks before the first show, learn an entire set’. OK, now it’s time to re-record the second album, got that done. Then when it was time for the third album, Born a Dying Breed it was the first one when the playing team and the writing team were together and I think you can hear it in the album, how much smoother and together it is.
The band look very cohesive on stage and you always look like you really enjoy yourselves.
Darren: I’m a big believer that when you pay to see a band, Iron Maiden or Metallica, they don’t stand and look at their shoes. They move about, they interact with the crowd. Anything that makes it a show, and people have paid to see a show.
Jimi: It’s all about a good time and it shows in the audience, if they can tell you’re having a good time then it filters through. I’ve never been shy but knowing that I can rely on these guys to hit every note they’re supposed to, that fills gaps, it allows me to run around.
How do you feel you’ve developed from album to album?
Darren: The second album was kind of rushed, we had to get Jimi in, get him on the album then get it out there. The third album we all wrote together, we had time and we were relaxed. That’s not to say there wasn’t arguments. Every band has a bluey.
Jimi: I think you can hear album one, a bit raw. Album number two was that straddle between me coming in to overlay rather than write. With the third album we really found our niche and it flowered. The lyrics on it seemed a lot more together, there’s something to say with a message in there.
What musical direction is the new album moving in?
Jimi: It’s a little more of the same. We straddle a couple of styles anyway and one of the things we’ve always said is it’s hard for us to describe our sound. It doesn’t matter what we write it still sounds like us. It just seems to work for us: it ain’t broke and we ain’t gonna fix it.
Darren: What we don’t do is write an album in the genre that is popular at the time. If there’s a load of heavy screamo bands we don’t think ‘we’ve got to get on that bandwagon.’ We just do what feels right and we’re starting to get our signature sound.
You seem unashamedly proud to call yourself metal.
Darren: Yeah, 100%. If you’re metal you’re metal. If you drift into other things then you’re heart wasn’t really in it in the first place.
Jimi: We get called hard rock, we get called metal. That’s fine: we’re just Stormbringer. If you take a track like ‘Stick To Your Guns’ that’s metal all over but it’s what people nowadays would call the lighter side of it. We’re unashamed of what we do. You see the patches we wear, our tattoos, you can hear it in the sound we’ve got and it ain’t stopping anytime soon!
What are the musical influences you bring to Stormbringer?
Darren: Bass wise mine are the legend Cliff Burton, the genius Steve Harris, Jason Newsted who I think is underrated and strangely enough Roger Waters. I integrate little bits of their playing into my style and I’m happy with that.
Jimi: For me it’s Judas Priest and Black Sabbath. I don’t think anyone can write without referencing them. My biggest influence growing up was Metallica but my top 5 bands growing up were Metallica, Slipknot, Muse, Oasis and Viking Skull so you always go back to those things that gave you that drive.
And how about lyrical inspiration?
Jimi: For me it’s got to be real, you’ve got to live it. There’s a lot of politics in there, more in some tracks than others. The biggest compliment I’ve had is, we’ve had ex-servicemen come to talk to us about the Dying Breed song, others about Stick To Your Guns, it’s about resilience and not backing down. Whether it’s food banks or services being cut everyone’s got their own fight. It’s what we’re going through.
Darren: I’m totally in Jimi’s ballpark when he says we write about the now. We don’t write about fantasy and stuff like that. Not that there’s anything wrong with that but it’s writing about the now, the struggle, the banks, stuff that annoys us and Jimi does the job.
You’ve had some real milestone’s in your career. What’s been the highlight for you?
Darren: For me playing the main stage at Bloodstock was a dream come true. Playing Download was a bucket list but selling out The Roadmender, a venue in my home town would have to top it for me. I’ve been in that place watching so many bands and you look up and think ‘one day’. To actually have that come true was pinch yourself time.
Finally, what are you plans and aspirations?
Jimi: We’ll get over to Europe soon. That’s in the two or three year plan definitely. Keep your eyes on the smaller stages at festivals, that’s where we’re going to be. Keep your eyes on a support tour, that’s where we’re going to be. Spring next year when the fourth album comes out I hope to see you all there. We know we won’t let you down!