Centurions Ghost and the compliments of Fenriz

Centurions Ghost paints the town heavy and reflects on a stunning new album and a successful tour with Saint Vitus.

Having been a fan of this London Heavy Doom crew since their beginning, it has been a pleasure and a worry to see what happens to this band next. Plagued with the loss of a vocalist twice after the release of an album, I caught up with “The Ghost” prior to their gig in Kentish Town, London. Following a successful tour with Saint Vitus across Europe, what does the future hold for this hard working doom crew? Gareth Millsted (Drums) and Richard Whittaker (Bass), two original members of the band checked in for a chat and a pint, and once they had finished taking the piss out of my small Dictaphone, it was down to interrogation!

Your new album ‘Blessed and Cursed in Equal Measure’ came out at the start of the tour with Saint Vitus through Church Within records, what are your thoughts on the response to the album so far?
GM: Very positive, there has been a lot of love for the new album. I have read the BRUTALISM.com review, and seen reviews in Metal Hammer, Terrorizer, Kerrang etc, all very glowing.
RW: Very pleased actually

Does the album title reflect the band recent fortunes?
RW: Ha, partly.
GM: It is a lot to do with that actually, I thought about it one day as I was walking into work, it relates to my own worries and then I also thought that it was fitting to the band and the people in the band. Everyone was going through their own personal shit over the last year or so. All good things were happening with the band but then there were these other issues that we all dealt with at the same time.

I have heard stories (and it is depicted in the albums liner notes) that the studio you recorded the album in (Parlour Studios, Kettering, UK) was haunted; can you shed any light on this?
GM: It could be haunted, here is the funny thing, I had a number of instances where my drum microphone stands were suddenly pointing downwards, pretty weird as I was in the drum room by myself at the time, so it was not as if someone had knocked them walking past.
RW: Ever since it was rebuilt, there has been stuff going on apparently, maybe they built it on some ancient burial ground or something, ha!
GM: There was another thing were there was some noise picked up by one of the channels, but it wasn’t a microphone channel, it was on a line going directly into the desk, so that was weird, it was none of our voices.
RW: Nothing legible, a typical ghost sound.

How do you think the new tracks went down on tour?
GM: Obviously we were playing to Saint Vitus’ crowd; it was their thing, but people seemed to appreciate what we did.

The new album brought a more dynamic, heavier sound, was this a conscious recording decision? Did you do anything different?
GM: Well, what is the Ghost’s sound (laughs)!
RW: From my point of view, the only thing different was the addition of Fed (Fedrica Gialanze) on guitars and going from a 5-piece to a 4-piece band.
GW: People throw in riffs, we jam on them, there was nothing deliberate in the way it came out. I was thinking about this the other day, there were a lot of songs that were not even finished by the time we were recording the album. With things going on at the time we just had basic structures and put jams over the top of them.

Being in the market that you are, will there be a vinyl release of the album?
RW: Maybe!
GM: That’s up to Oli really (Church Within Records), he is up for it, but I think we have to say not right now. Oli has just released the CD, so we shall see what happens.

On the opening gig of the tour in London, we were all surprised to see that Mark (Scurr) had left the band and was replaced with 2 weeks notice, by Jake Harding from London Sludgemasters ‘Dead Existence’. Can you tell me why Mark left the band?
RW: Ask us a question and we shall give you an answer! Mark had a few financial issues that he needed to sort, which all of us have at some point, sadly, he had left it till the last minute to tell us about it.
GM: It would not have been so bad if he had called us a month or more earlier, or before we signed the contract for the tour really, I think up until Christmas was our break point. It was just a little late in the day; more warning would have been nice.

Are you still in contact with Mark?
GM: Essentially yes, it was not the first time this had happened (letting the band down), it was just done the wrong way, the situation could not be helped, but I think now he has learnt from it and we all now know better ways to deal with these situations. Mind you, we did well out of it with Jake, he did a great job for us.
RW: Yeah really good, pleased with that

Will this be a permanent role for Jake on vocals?
RW: All parties know it was a temporary thing, and to be honest we are still debating on what we want to do next really.
GM: Jake knows the situation, it’s not a done deal, but in the same sense Jake is really up for it. We as a band have to decide on way or the other.
RW: We came off tour, we had a week to calm down, get away from it.
GM: We also have to think about musical direction as well.

How was the tour like with Jake?
GM: Here is something I want to put on the record for sure; all of Saint Vitus, every member were very complimentary about Jake and his vocals. That much vindicated us in that respect, and the crowd response of course. I don’t think we had even one night when we got a poor performance from Jake he was great.

Best gig of the tour?
RW: Blimey, there were so many! Switzerland was great, so was Vienna.
GM: Switzerland. The review we read said we were good and all, but the crowd was quite restrained.
RW: The crowd were going fucking insane actually!
GM: Yeah I don’t understand that comment.

So you have been all around Europe, Centurions Ghost is rather a fine English ale, what was the best beer you had?
RW: Can’t remember, ha ha!
GM: Norway was fucking horrible, Carlsberg, I thought there was “No-way” (pun definitely intended – PM) I am drinking that (laughs burst out across the table).
RW: German beer, obviously great, you know, its all heavy metal!

On your tour blogs, you met a lot of famous musicians on tour, and what was it like meeting them and what did they think about Centurions Ghost?
RW: Fenriz (Darkthrone) came up to me at the merchandise stand in Norway and said that he liked what we were doing, and his exacts words were “I can write or play about 50% of your riffs but I could not perform them as good as you”.

Do you have any more thoughts on the Saint Vitus tour?
RW: We got great reviews everywhere we went.
GM: It was certainly a great thing for us to do, the album came out, and we went on the road. It is a bit of a cliché, but it does open you up to a wider audience, to those people who would not normally check you out. The other thing I would say is that I think a lot of people in the doom scene are misguided about what Saint Vitus are. If you talk to the guys in Saint Vitus, this doom-thing came about very late in the day, when they were plugging away in the 80’s and 90’s they were never on bills with these “doom” bands. They talk about bands they have toured with like L7, Black Flag, Pantera etc. They see a lot of parallels between them and us because no one can kind of pin Centurions Ghost down into a particular market, where do we fit in rock and metal, much like Saint Vitus. They went alone and suffered all the arrows and shit along the way, much like us.
RW: It was a good combination for the tour. Dave Chandler said if we had been some fucking Vitus clone band or something like that he would have been really pissed off. It was the same when we were announced on the tour, people were saying what the fuck are Centurions Ghost doing on the tour, what about this doom band, that doom band, but I think the package worked well and Saint Vitus seemed to love us.
GM: I have to say too, Henry Vasquez who is now on drums for Saint Vitus; he is “the man”. Not taking anything away from Armando, Henry seems to be the glue that holds it together and he has pushed them in new powerful directions.
RW: Every night they were on fire! A great band to tour with and much respect both ways.

The tour is done, what are your immediate plans?
RW: We just need to re-group and sort out the singer situation and then get out there and tour our fucking album man. One place we have neglected is the UK; we need to tour our own country definitely.
GM: It bugs me; we need to go to Ireland too. Britain and Ireland all way!

Lets hope so anyway guys! Thanks very much for your time, you have to get ready for the gig, and I need a beer!

Well, there you have it, now all you need to go and do is check out their new album on Church Within records and have a wonderfully heavy time.
Interviewer: twansibon
Mar 19, 2010

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