Last month I was able to get a few minutes with Mick Vafiotis, drummer for Australian thrashers 4ARM at their tour stop here in Dallas, TX with Gojira and Slayer. For those of you not already in the know you should be rocking and thrashing to their body of work (13 Scars, The Empires of Death, and newest album Submission For Liberty) on a regular basis immediately after you finish reading this. Got that? OK, good. Read on and see what Mick had to say to us:
Amps: So we’re about 11 or 12 shows into the tour. How have the crowds been treating you?
Mick: Really good, man. Exceptionally well, and we’ve had some good numbers turn up early to see us. That also happened on the Testament tour earlier this year. We were pretty shocked to see that. We don’t get that much at home when international bands tour, so it’s been great to see.
Amps: You’re out here with Slayer who are doing an “old school” set. How have you enjoyed seeing legends up there doing their thing?
Mick: Yeah it’s good, and I haven’t heard some of those songs in a long time, so hearing them never gets old. I could watch them every night. I try to watch from all different angles when I do.
Amps: The U.S. really seems to have embraced 4ARM. What do you think of the positive reaction from the metal scene?
Mick: It’s great, man. Really great. We finally feel that we’re getting recognized internationally since the release of the last album. It feels like the rest of the world is starting to wake up a little and know about 4ARM. The first two albums were pretty much stuck in Australia. Submissions really got out there and made some noise.
Amps: As far as writing goes, do you do any on the road, or no?
Mick: We’ve already written stuff for the next album. We knew we were gonna be doing the whole Slayer tour for quite some time now. It’s hard to write on the road, especially in the vehicle we’re in. It gets tight with all our stuff. So when we finished the Testament tour we started writing, and then we stopped when we toured Europe. So it’s been on and off, whenever we got a break and would go home, we got together and got some material down. We’re not far off of a release, sometime early next year. But as far as writing on the road we’re not really comfortable doing that. Plus, we’re soaking it all in trying to enjoy our time while we’re here.
Amps: What is the writing dynamic within the group?
Mick: It’s always been from day one me and Dan, our singer. We just belt it out whether it’s at his place, or I come up with something and send it to him online. We get together regularly and write. We just have that connection; our influences are very similar in styles. And it’s worked so far, so for the next record I don’t think that will change. Dan writes all the lyrics, that’s his thing. I leave him to it because he’s an awesome writer and singer. That’s the formula.
Amps: Overkill, Testament, and now Slayer…safe to say your touring wish list is pretty much getting filled?
Mick: Well there’s one that hasn’t happened. That would be Metallica. For me that would be a childhood dream come true. THIS, what we’re doing now is a childhood dream come true, but Metallica would be nice!
Amps: Oh, man. A Metallica/4ARM tour would be one hell of a bill!
Mick: I think our music would suit their audience. And that’s kind of what’s happening at the moment. Fans have sort of turned to us and appreciate what we’re doing. Because there’s a connection between our music and Slayer’s. We’re very similar styles, so it’s not like the crowd is going, “What’s this noise??” So I get it. We’re winning them over with what they’re hearing, initially.
Amps: I’ve interviewed some of the Elder Statesmen of Thrash if you will and Zetro from Hatriot named you guys as one of the newer bands he really likes. He named Havok, Warbringer and 4ARM off the top of his head without any hesitation.
Mick: I’d really like to see a tour like that. It’s all good touring with the big guns, but sometimes you’ve gotta hold your own and get out and do some major tours yourself. I think those bands you mentioned and us would be an awesome tour. So to everyone reading this, you know…
Amps: Havok is definitely a favorite of mine, too.
Mick: We did a show with them on the Testament tour. I met Pete and all the guys. They’re awesome dudes!
Mick: Yeah, he is!
Amps: SO what’s gonna be happening for 4ARM these next few years?
Mick: Touring. More touring. That’s what we love doing. I’d like to get back to Europe maybe in summer and of course getting the album out is the main focus.
Amps: Do you miss home in Australia?
Mick: Not really, I can live like this. The guys think I’m a little bit of a princess on the road because I have to have showers every day. You don’t know the rest of these guys! Less hygienic, so to speak.
Amps: Ummm, I’ve read some things. Some of which are more disturbing than others.
Mick: We went to Walmart and bought Febreze and air fresheners and we had a good laugh because we were like, “This ain’t metal!” (laughs). But I could live like this, it’s fun. You get to see the world, hang out with cool people, see some great bands, and play.
Amps: Tell me something about the band right now that I CAN”T find online, or anywhere else. Something 100,000 interviewers haven’t already asked you.
Mick: Me and Dan used to be in a band together prior to this. Not many people know that. Uhh, I can’t swim. Off the top of my head, you’ve got me there.
Amps: Mick if you’re gonna travel the world I think you’d better learn how to swim.
Mick: Yeah, I nearly drowned in the Ukraine, the Black Sea.
Amps: (Laughing) 4ARM needs you!!
Mick: (Also laughing) yeah, hopefully!
Amps: What do you want to say to the 4ARM fans out there?
Mick: Well thank you first and foremost for your ongoing support. I hope to see each and every one of you out there rocking it.
As I stated in my earlier review of the show, 4ARM came out and just absolutely shredded South Side Ballroom that night. They may have been the opener, but they play with the confidence and swagger of a headliner, and you can see it and hear it. Definitely catch them when they come to your neck of the woods, and if you haven’t checked out their albums I strongly urge you to do so. Because 4ARM are here to stay, people. Get onboard now!