We caught up with the bands whilst they donned the war masks in preparation and polished axes in advance.
Harv (Stormzone) and Joe (RBOTN) talked exclusively to us about their plans for the metallic assault on Derbyshire...oh, and how exciting a year it has been for both bands.
"Being invited to play Sonisphere 2014 was a massive honour for Stormzone, a real boost to our confidence and an indication that the work we have been putting into the band's development has been worth it," said Harv
"The Sonisphere festival is truly massive! We arrived the day of our performance and we were staggered with the vastness of the arena and how many people there were attending. We stood, the five of us, in the middle of it all back to back and surveyed everything around us, swamped at that moment by the sheer numbers there, but knowing that later that day we would actually be playing this iconic event. Sonisphere at Knebworth, where Led Zeppelin and Deep Purple had graced the stage in the past and Iron Maiden and Metallica were about to let loose, and we were part of it!
Harv continued: "But, it was no time to be caught in the moment like rabbits in headlights and we shook ourselves and made our way to the Jagermeister stage and played our hearts out to those who took the time to come to our part of the festival. It was a brilliant moment that disappeared all too fast, but memories of it will last forever! I think we achieved our objective, we played with smiles on our faces, and the audience watched with smiles on theirs, so for us, along with their fantastic reaction to our set, it was mission accomplished!"
|John 'Harv' Harbinson|
With that under their collective belts, Stormzone are preparing for the next stage of their summer rampage.
"Although we were undoubtedly blown away by the prestige involved in playing Sonisphere, to us Bloodstock has the capacity to be a much more important festival for us, we are playing a bigger stage at a better time with less going on around the festival to distract people away from coming to check us out.
"Bloodstock is also a festival more dedicated solely to various styles of heavy metal, we definitely suit an event like Bloodstock and having a longer set to play this time we are truly ready to take full advantage of being part of this massive festival. It also gives us the chance to catch up with our friends in Saxon, who are on just after us, and with whom we are embarking on an extensive UK tour later on this year."
Game faces on, then! Harv declared that they are ready to kick up a storm and they are right in the zone to rock!
"We have never been better prepared, we have rehearsed relentlessly, played an excellent warm-up show at the Diamond Rock Club last weekend and the reviews of Sonisphere have been excellent and urging people to check us out at Bloodstock, so everything is in our favour and we're looking forward to once again representing Northern Ireland in another important major event!"
Joe from Rabid Bitch of the North is equally excited about Bloodstock, and also reflected on what has been a tremendous year for the band
"It's been a fuckin' fantastic year for us, to put it nicely," he said. "I think we can honestly say our year of madness started when we were approached by James Loveday, after a sweaty packed out gig at The Limelight in Belfast (late summer 2013). He said he wanted to help us make the next step basically, and we didn't know what to think at first.
"We're the type of band that's suspect of any positivity or helpfulness, as it's always been RBOTN getting on with our own agenda, not giving a shit what anyone else thought. Rabid Bitch have been live gigging (at first as a four piece) since 2007, so James had known us for a while and I guess he'd seen us progress to this tight, focused three piece ensemble we are today.
"Whatever his reasons ( we thought he was mad to want join up with us) we said 'yes' to his offer of help.
"From there we were offered to play the Ulster Hall as part of Belfast's Music Week. The gigs we'd been playing up until then were varied, anything from a 10 person pub/club, to a packed out punk venue, to a reasonable large metal audience in the likes of Dublin, so it was a bit of a leap to be playing such a large, established venue. That was really day one of the new face of Rabid Bitch for me. It was like a milestone we'd passed. All the hours and years in a garage or practice space, and all the thankless, unpaid gigs made sense again.
|Joe McDonnell from RBOTN showing|
off the Defending Two Castles release
"That's actually the first venue we saw and met Motorhead, so it meant allot to be standing on the same stage.
From there the year got even better as the band hooked up with Dublin label Sarlacc Productions to release a cassette ep.
"We chose two new tracks (Defending Two Castles/Sisyphus) and another (Us Against Them) that we love, and feel is our anthem. The cassette release with Sarlacc again had a snowball affect, turning a lot of heads across Europe our way, and a lot of sales of tapes. We posted as far as Japan!"
Add to that, ahead of Bloodstock Greek label Alone Records has signed RBOTN up for a vinyl and CD release...But as far as Bloodstock goes the band had to remain tight-lipped for quite some time
"We were approached by Bloodstock earlier in the year, and sat on the information for months before we could tell anyone. From the Ulster Hall last year to a massive English metal festival. "Holy shit" was probably my reaction when I was told. About two months ago Alone Records then got in touch, again unexpected, and made a great offer for an Anthology, and a vinyl with all new material.
"Basically we've never been busier, or more satisfied that we feel we're maybe making a mark. All three of us are intent on absolutely killing at Bloodstock, and keeping the momentum going".
Being selected for Bloodstock was, naturally a great opportunity, and Joe's reaction was probably the same as any band selected.
"As I said before "Holy Shit!" and maybe a double take of the email!" he said as he reflected on the year.
"You know what though, it was a surprise, but so many positive things were, and are still happening around us, I guess something mental was expected to top it all.
"I don't expect this to be the best we can do though this year! Still allot of time left in 2014. Maybe two releases from us and exciting support slots. If more offers come we'll step up to the challenge. As Twisted Sister say 'Stay Hungry'."
Two bands, one mission, to play metal.
Bloodstock attendees can expect huge riffs, classic metal and unfeasibly high vocals at times from these two front men. But most of all, they will get a taste of Northern Ireland's metal scene. Horns raised for Stormzone and Rabid Bitch of the North.