Rockstar Mayhem Fest is in full swing right now, and one of the bands who are KILLING it (alongside Huntress and the Butcher Babies) on the Jagermeister stage is Battlecross. They deliver a pulverizing set day in and day out, and in their off time they’ve hung out with fans in Pittsburgh at a mall and had to deal with bus breakdowns and all the other fun stuff that comes along with touring. I recently acquired both Battlecross albums and made it my mission to interview someone from this great band. Guitarist Tony Asta was nice enough to take some time out to speak with me after the band’s set in Scranton, PA:
Amps: First of all, how was the show today in Scranton?
Tony: Oh yeah, it was great! But I gotta be honest, Pittsburgh was a liiiitle better than all the cities so far, dude! The fans are a little more extreme there, not just for us, but for all the bands. Scranton kicked ass, not gonna dog them, but Pittsburgh makes everybody look like pussies! Best show so far, before that it was Denver. But…Pittsburgh set the bar, man.
Amps: Two weeks in, how are the crowds?
Tony: Yeah, everybody’s been real receptive and it seems like we’re doin’ better with merch as we go, better than we anticipated, which is great. We’ve had pretty good feedback and we’re staying as tight as we can performance-wise, and we’re just havin’ a great time and I think we’re more in the groove of how things work on Mayhem. That first week was chaos, man! Trying to figure out where we gotta be and when and of course, the bus issues, and waiting for a new one, and stuff like that. Pretty rough beginning, but it pays off, and there’s no such thing as quitting, we’re in this for the long haul.
Amps: Tony, don’t be mad, but I didn’t know anything about you guys, other than your name, UNTIL-
Tony: Oh, you sonofabitch!!! I’m kidding!! (We both start laughing)
Amps: -hahahaa, until the bus incident, because I’d just gotten into Huntress 11 days ago, and following their Facebook and Twitter, and when that bus issue happened, they kept mentioning their bus mates Battlecross, so I knew I had to see who the fuck this Battlecross is, and when I listened I was like, “Holy shit!” and bought both records. The reason I bring this up, is that Huntress and Butcher Babies talk about you guys ALL the time on social media. Is that cool, or what?
Tony: That is cool, man. And I’m actually a little surprised by the extra promotions. I didn’t know they were doing that, and that’s just really, really cool. It’s a great vibe. We’re all cool as fuck with each other, and both of those bands just kick ass live. We’re having such a good time with them, and making friends every day out here.
Amps: You’re here in Dallas August 4, and I’ll be covering all your sets, too. I can’t wait!
Tony: Yeah, Dallas is gonna be sick as fuck, dude! Anytime we play Texas it is off the hook, so we can’t wait to come back there.
Amps: You’ve played with Five Finger Death Punch, Killswitch Engage, Trivium, and countless others in a relatively short time, up to and including now. What have you learned from these guys, as far as playing and touring?
Tony: You gotta be prepared, you gotta be easy to work with and most importantly, you gotta be professional. It’s a do or die situation, and you gotta be on your game. I think being easy to work with and efficient, those things go a long way. You know we’ve had our green moments where we didn’t do exactly the right thing, but I think we’ve come a long way since, and you never stop learning, especially from the bands we’ve been fortunate enough to go out with. You learn what to do and what not to do, for sure, and I look up to all of those bands.
Amps: How does it feel to have accomplished all this in a relatively short span?
Tony: My gut feeling is unworthy; I have to tell you that. But, at the same time, we are a confident band, we put our all out there, and it’s great to feel that satisfaction and that connection with the fans, and they get it. That they relate to our honesty. I think the style of music that we are, our mindset, people can relate to it. It’s honest and straight to the point. Some things may sound like other things, because of our influences, but we write what we want. And it’s so cool that there’s this fan base out there that just wants to hear something that kicks ass. And if we were the only ones doing that, it would feel kind of shitty. But it’s awesome to know this music is still alive and well, and it’ll never go away, and I know that’s strong, so it’s a good feeling to relate to that honesty. We’re taking it all in and taking advantage of every minute, and we’re very humbled by all of this. It all starts with our hometown fan base, who has done everything to support us, and then a great team, management, booking agent, and our label, Metal Blade Records.
Amps: What’s your favorite track off the new record? Mine’s “My Vaccine”. Love the time changes, the kind of stop and start thing.
Tony: That’s awesome, dude! That’s one of my favorite songs, too. That’s actually an old song I wrote that totally got restructured into what it is now. I wish we could play it live, but right now we just don’t have enough time. In addition to that, “The Will To Overcome” is another one of my favorites. It’s just a very pissed song, and in the moment of writing it I felt that aggression that I had to get out. You know, when you just wanna destroy, and that definitely came out in that song, so if you play that one, you might feel that vibe, and the lyrics that Gumby (Kyle Gunther, vocals) wrote for that, I can totally relate to.
Amps: Shannon Lucas plays on the album, and Kevin Talley is the touring drummer, right?
Tony: Shannon is a good friend of ours, who helped us out after we parted ways with Mike, who still is a good friend of ours. He was available, and ready, and hungry, and we know each other well, so it was a really cool thing that came together, and he fuckin’ delivered, brother. We offered him the gig full-time, but he had other things he wanted to do, but he wanted to help us out as a friend. Shannon’s on the album, and it’s fuckin’ sick, but with Kevin Talley that was another very surprising thing. He hit us up, and was available, and was like, “Let’s go!” We said, “Fuck, yeah!” and we jumped on it, and it’s been going great.
Amps: What do you do on off days from the tour, besides descend upon unknowing malls in Pittsburgh?
Tony: (Starts laughing) Oh, it’s crazy because we haven’t had too much down time. But we’re very in touch with our fans on social media trying to interact, and stuff. We watch movies, and we all hang out, but we just spent that one day hanging out at the mall with two fans, and we had a ball!
Amps: Anything you’d like to say to the Battlecross fans who’ve been there from day one, as well as us new ones?
Tony: I just wanna say thank you to everybody for having faith and being there for us and being a part of this family all along. And for the new fans, thank you for turning your head when you heard something and giving us a chance. It’s tough to get that chance, and a lot of why people check out bands is personal recommendations, that goes a long way. So thank you for telling friends and family about Battlecross. Check out our new album War of Will, I hope you like it, and if you don’t, send me some hate mail (laughing)!
As you can tell, Tony and I had a good time on this phone call, and I can’t wait to catch Battlecross tear it up here in Dallas August 4.