If you had at least half an eye on the British metal scene, you would have most likely heard of Sylosis. They have worked hard on stage and off stage to get where they are, picking up support slots with the likes of Megadeth, Devildriver, Trivium, and Lamb of God along the way. During their co-headline tour with Decapitated, I chatted with drummer Ali Richardson (also of Bleed From Within) before their gig at the Colchester Arts Centre. We discussed the tour, opening Wembley, playing in the aftermath of the tragic Paris attacks, his future work, and more in a revealing chat with one of Britain’s most talented young drummers.
Jack: So Ali how’s the tour going?
Ali Richardson (Drums): Yeah tour’s been going really well man. Obviously it’s an absolute honour and pleasure to be sharing the stage with Decapitated every night. I’ve been into them since I was 14 years old and I’m nearly 27 now so I’ve been listening to them for a long time. They’re one of the greatest death metal bands of all time, they keep us on our toes. It’s nice touring with a band you look up to and respect, it gets the best out of you every night.
Jack: How did this tour come about? Did you approach Decapitated, did they approach you or was it something the label sorted out?
Ali: I think it was something we’d always wanted to do, if it had been suggested then we’d be like “oh we’d like to tour with Decapitated definitely.” I think it was just management and stuff that got worked it, the idea got put forward to us, we were interested, they were interested. Both camps worked on it and got it sorted.
Jack: You mentioned that you look up to Decapitated and you look up to them. What drew you to them?
Ali: The first big album Nihility, when I was 14-15 I was listening to stuff like Lamb of God, Slipknot and a couple of Iron Maiden and Tool albums; that’s the sort of stuff I was listening to. I then started to get into the heavier stuff like Cannibal Corpse and someone gave me Nihility and that was that. They’re very heavy and their very groovy, it’s very well executed death metal and I’m a fan of that.
Jack: Black Tongue were scheduled to open the tour but pulled out.
Ali: I have no idea, we turned up on the first day and our tour manager told us they’d pulled out. It’s a shame, I’ve heard a lot of good things about the band. I’ve not actually heard the band but I know a lot of people who like them.
Jack: Yeah I was disappointed as I like them and have a few of their albums.
Ali: Well, that’s a bummer.
Jack: Opening their place is Essex’s very own The King is Blind who have current and ex-members of Cradle of Filth, Entwined, New Model Army and Extreme Noise Terror. Have you heard of them?
Ali: I haven’t actually no. I didn’t realise they had an ex-member of Cradle of Filth. I know they opened the Electric Ballroom in London last night. It’s frustrating being last on and headlining the shows as by the time these opening bands are on I’m usual getting something to eat; especially in London I’m out meeting people as everyone comes to London shows. I missed them last night but I’ll be sure to check them out tonight.
Jack: Tonight you’re playing at Colchester Arts Centre which is a former church, do you think playing in a former church adds to the show?
Ali: [Laughs] I don’t know. When turned up and first walked into the venue and saw the stained glass windows I was like “well this is pretty fucking metal”. I guess so, it’s cool surroundings like walking through the church grounds to the venue adds to the atmosphere.
Jack: A lot of bands I’ve interviewed like playing in the church as it adds a little bit of blasphemy, do this appeal to you in some way?
Ali: A lot of the lyrical content that Sylosis sing about is not very blasphemic but you know I think there’s a lit bit of that. Well me personally I’m not a religious person by any means but I guess there’s something kind of funny about it. But you take it at face value, playing heavy music in a place of worship is kind of funny.
Jack: On the subject of touring you did an arena tour with Megadeth, Lamb of God, and Children of Bodom. How was that?
Ali: Yeah that was the biggest tour I’ve ever done and it was something else. It was an honour, we were very privileged to be put forward for it and very very happy to be chosen. It was something else, ticking Wembley off the list. It’s the one venue everyone in UK wants to play. If you’re in a band in the UK you’re like “Wembley, one day we’ll play Wembley.” So being 26 and being able to say I’ve done it is massive and a big thing for me. We got treated really well too. Lamb of God’s crew, Sylosis have toured with them in the past, are really nice guys who were looking out for us and stuff. It was a great experience.
Jack: You previously toured with Megadeth in Bleed From Within.
Ali: Yeah that was about three years ago.
Jack: What was it like touring with Megadeth, one of the most legendary, famous bands in the world? It must have been quite surreal.
Ali: Oh definitely. You grow up listening to these bands or hearing about them and their name and seeing the t-shirts everywhere. It’s kind of weird, the way I view it personally is that you’re not in it to get famous by any means and if you are you’re in it for all the wrong reasons, you’re it for the love of the music. As cheesy as that fucking sounds it is a pure cliché. I’m in it for the live shows and to play my drums and that’s what I love doing is being on stage. You do these smaller tours and go up the ranks and after a time you find your self at a point where you’re on stage with a band like Megadeth and then you have to pinch yourself. The first time we played with Megadeth was at Brixton Academy and then the second time we did Wembley and you’re sitting on the stage there doing soundcheck going “holy shit I’m supporting this band I’ve heard so much about this band over the years”. It is quite surreal to get to that point.
Jack: Did you get to meet Dave Mustaine at all?
Ali: We did in 2013 he introduced himself on the very first day. I guess there’s quite a few stories about the guy but he was so nice and accommodating. He said “if there’s any problems you guys are just come and see me and ask for Dave you know where my dressing room is”. In Manchester on that tour, we were playing Manchester Academy and there was a big exam in the hall so we didn’t get allowed in until later and the doors got pushed back and it looked like we weren’t going to play. But Dave Mustaine went out of his way to make sure everyone moved very quickly so we could play and got the promoter to open the doors a little bit earlier. We only got to play two or three songs but we still got to play the show and it’s all because of him, he’s a good guy.
Jack: What was going through your mind when you opened Wembley as you said it’s a dream for every band. So when you started the first few notes did it not sink in till after?
Ali: Not really, it’s very important to try and not to get caught up in that moment. I don’t tend to get nervous or anything before shows but I think if you over think it you put yourself in a position where you could maybe make a mistake or get too stressed out. I do the same warm up routine before every show no matter if you’re playing Colchester Arts Centre or Wembley its the same thing when you take to the stage. But when I walked off stage I was like “holy shit, that just happened.” I had my Mum and Dad, my brother, and girlfriend there, as soon as I walked off stage it sank it that it just happened.
Jack: That show occurred the day right after the tragic attacks in Paris, was this in your mind during the show or discussed a bit beforehand?
Ali: We actually played the Batachlan venue a week before the attacks happened so we were actually there with Children of Bodom. The night before Wembley we played in Chester and we came off stage and our tour manager ran downstairs and was like “guys everyone just take a minute, this has just happened in Paris”. It knocked us all for six, us and Children of Bodom especially. I think it helped us bond as bands as well, they were really nice guys and great guys to tour with. It hit us pretty hard so it was always something we were always thinking about and after Wembley we were heading back into Europe to tour all the venues again, so we knew we were going to be into the middle of it all so to speak. I still when I think about it to this day I still can’t believe it actually happened. In a venue with music where everyone’s going to just chill and celebrate, they’re going there for the music and then for that to happen, horrible.
Jack: You just released your new single ‘Different Masks on the Same Face,’ as this was your first time recording with Sylosis. How was recording with Sylosis different with other bands?
Ali: The writing process was a bit different as it was a leftover from an older session. It’s a song that’s been kicking it about for a while now so Josh [Middleton, Vocals/Guitar] just sent me the track, he reworked it a bit and he said “shall we make it a song?” and I feel in love with it straight away. I’ve been eager to do something and just to put my drums on a Sylosis track and just to let people hear me, you know this is me with the band now. But yeah it’s quite an easy process as we’ve all got a lot of respect for each other in the studio. I definitely think it’s one of Josh’s favourite times is writing and being in the studio, I think I favour playing live but that’s still one of my favourite things is creating the music.
Jack: It must be a great feeling playing it live and seeing the response to it.
Ali: Yeah and being in the studio and hearing it all come together. It was a great process and I look forward to doing the album and everything else.
Jack: You’re in the new guy in the band and you’ve been in it for two years since 2014?
Ali: Yeah it’ll be two years this years?
Jack: Are you involved with picking the setlists at all or do you leave it to Josh?
Ali: No it’s a team effort, everyone has their say and especially for this setlist I have a couple of ideas and stuff saying “this should be here and that should be there”. That’s healthy, it’s the sign of a healthy band when everyone can throw ideas off each other. There are still a lot of songs I obviously don’t know [Laughs] we play the songs that we think are going to go down well live and then I had a few I was like I think we should try this live and everyone was up for it. On this tour we’re opening with ‘Indoctrinated’ and that was one I was really pushing for. Following the stage after Decapitated, who were one of the heaviest and tightest bands so we need to go out there and punch people in the face after that. So starting with ‘Indoctrinated’ was a really good opener for this tour.
Jack: You are also known from your work with Bleed From Within, is it stressful balancing both bands?
Ali: Not at the moment but I think the next year will be difficult because both bands are going to have albums coming out. It’ll get trickier but up until this point it’s been absolutely fine juggling the two. I try not to think about it two much, when a problem arises I’ll deal with it when it’s there but until that point I’m having a great time.
Jack: Do you have any jobs outside of Sylosis or Bleed from Within?
Ali: Aye, I do. I’ve worked various jobs over the years I think anyone that’s in a band in this day and age has about three of four jobs on the go. I’m doing drum lessons from my studio in Glasgow and that’s something I’m concentrating on this year. I’m going to have a website and doing some session drumming and just making drums everything at the moment because I’ve got no time for everything else.
Jack: What plans do Sylosis have the rest of the year?
Ali: It’s quite a quiet year actually. We’ve got a festival in Norway I think we’re playing and after that we’ll be writing. We’ll be looking to get a new album down and that’s the plan. I can’t and won’t say too much about that but yeah that’s the plan, writing some new songs and keep the ball rolling.
Jack: How will the new album be different from Dormant Heart or is that something you’ve not thought about yet?
Ali: I don’t want to say anything just yet, it’s still very early days but you know there’s always slight change… I wouldn’t say change more of a progression and evolution in Sylosis’ sound. I was a fan of the band before I joined and I always noticed it myself, now being a part of it and sort of hearing the new material is a direction I’m very happy to be going along?
Jack: Finally, I read an article Josh did with Music Radar about what albums meant the most to him. So is there a specific album that means a lot to you?
Ali: I probably got a few but straight off the top of my head my favourite album of all time is Pantera‘s Vulgar Display of Power. But there’s a few, Lamb of God’s As The Palaces Burn that was a big one for me and one of the first big, pivotal metal albums. I don’t really have a solid favourite album but if someone put a gun to my head I’d probably be like Vulgar Display would probably be the one. I like a lot of different kinds and styles of music so it’s hard to choose but I’d go with that one… Vulgar Display.
Jack: That’s all thank you very much for your time and I can’t wait to see you on stage later.
Ali: Brilliant, thank you very much.