Interview – Artillery Breath
Artillery Breath are one of a strong showing of Ohio bands on the bill during this year’s Berserker fest, and the first of three interviews conducted at the venue. Although the name has been thrown around my regional-metal-radar for years, I never had the chance to see them play before the festival. I didn’t know quite what to expect when I walked into the Vernor Room but I stumbled out bruised, shaken, and thoroughly impressed. I caught up with drummer Ronnie Miller and guitarists Dru Silverand James Morey after their set to talk about house shows, the Ohio music scene, and their upcoming DIY album.
There have been a number of attempts at a “regional” midwest metal fest in Michigan in the past. Many of them, sadly, don’t seem to go very far, but Berserker is really taking. How does it feel to be a part of the upward ascent of this festival and represent the midwest metal community here?
Ronnie Miller: I’m pretty excited to be honest. I always see the Berserker lineup online and think “damn, I gotta get to that show” because there’s always awesome bands playing.
Dreu Silver: I’ve had friends who played in the past and had nothing but good things to say about it so it’s awesome to be here.
James Morey: I didn’t even hear about it until last year, and when I did it was like “oh shit, how did I miss that?!” It’s kinda like a mini metal dream come true.
Silver: There’s a band from Cleveland playing tonight, Fuck You Pay Me,
Morey: They’re setting up right now!
Silver: But I don’t know if there’s any other bands from Ohio here…
Silver: Oh, what am I talking about, of course! Yeah, it’s crazy, but we’re the only band here from Columbus… probably. It’s a town that has always had a lot of metal bands, but has never been known as a music town outside it’s own little circle.
I feel that could be said for a lot of cities in the midwest. But then nobody on any of the coasts even knows that it exists out here.
Silver: Oh, definitely
There are a lot of Michigan and Ohio bands playing, any friends of yours playing tonight? Anybody you’ve got a past with?
Silver: I mentioned Fuck You Pay Me, I play drums in a punk band who has a split with them coming. My other band (Locusta) played a fest called Blood of the Wolf with a band from Detroit called Shitfucker, and a couple guys from that band are playing in Nuke who are playing tonight but I haven’t had a chance to see them before.
Miller: We don’t have much of a history with any Detroit or Michigan bands, really.
Silver: Our first singer’s wife is from Flint.
Miller: And so is my girlfriend. We actually met both of them from playing shows in the Flint area. We’ve been a band for ten years, and early on we were playing in Flint a lot. Like tattoo shops and house shows. And I feel like a lot of the bands we played with back then aren’t around anymore. But Flint used to be our second home.
Let’s talk about rethrash…
Silver: The “thrash revival” that’s been going on since thrash was a thing?
Yeah, you’re absolutely right, that people talk about thrash in waves and revivals when it never really dies out. But it comes and goes a little bit and around the time you guys were getting big, Municipal Waste had put out Hazardous Mutation and Toxic Holocaust…
Silver: Municipal Waste had been around by that time though. They were my first show when I was like 14 or 15 and I’m 28 now.
Morey: That was a helluva first show!
Would you say that influenced your growth as a metalhead down the line?
Silver: Oh yeah I was 14 getting dropped off at this house called Legion of Doom and this squatter dude gave me a copy of the first Iron Maiden album that was all beat to shit and that was my first exposure to how awesome metal could be.
Miller: Legion of Doom is… somebody should do a documentary about that place. It’s this house in the OSU campus area that’s been doing shows in the basement for over 30 years. Like GWAR played down there, the Ramones used to party there, when Lamb of God was still known as Burn the Priest they played shows there a bunch. There’s a story that Henry Rollins wouldn’t sleep there and he slept in the van because it was so gnarly. But just imagining what it must have been like to see a band like GWAR in a basement; I meant they still had their props and stuff.
I think that’s the best place to see some of these kinds of bands. Like, watching Negative Approach play just before we met up? I was thinking “they’re great up there, but they would be ten times as good in a room half as big.”
Silver: Yeah I can totally see that. But some bands sound great on a big stage, but it’s as your were saying, the vibe is different.
What’s next for you? You guys have music in the works?
Silver: We have an album coming out.
Do you have a release date?
Silver: This year.
Silver: It’ll be this year
Miller: It’ll definitely be this year. It’s very self-made thus far, so if we can’t find somebody to put it out… We actually have an offer on the table from a label in Europe but we’re still trying to feel out what we can get with regards to that. As far as recording goes we’re pretty much done with that; speaking of Municipal Waste, LandPhil is gonna do the mixing once we’re done with tracking, and we’re gonna go from there. We played four of the songs tonight, two of them for the first time ever, so for us it was very exciting.
People downstairs seemed to be very excited as well, I mean I came in and it was just storm of mosh pits and riffs.
Morey: That’s what we want.
So real quick, it seems kinda obvious from the front row, but for all the people reading on the internet, what is your musical mission and where do you intend to take the band from here?
Miller: My take on the whole thing is: when we started this whole thing, we were just a group of friends who all found out about heavy metal together and we’re basically using it as an excuse to hang out and have fun instead of writing riffs trying to “be something”. You might listen to us and think “oh, that’s a thrash riff, that’s a black metal riff…” but to us, Artillery Breath is just an embodiment of the totality of everything we love about heavy metal