Ahhh, the trials and tribulations of covering festivals. All too often you’ve got to be somewhere working as one of your favorite bands hits the stage. Such was the case with Battlecross at last month’s South By So What?!? festival in Grand Prairie, TX. But hey, at least I got to spend some time hanging out with guitarist Hiran Deraniyagala in what had turned into a rather chilly evening. He’s a great guy, and just as cool (and fun) as his counterpart in the band, Tony Asta. It was really just two guys talking. See for yourselves:
Amps: First things first. Between Mayhem Fest, and going out with Metallica for Orion, you’ve been really busy with some big name acts. What have you learned from being on tour with these bands?
Hiran: Number one, it’s amazing and just a humbling experience to be out with these big bands. What I’ve learned, and what I basically aim to show them is that we work hard and we take what we do seriously. But we’re also down to earth dudes, very professional and respectful. We don’t try to step on anyone’s toes, and we’re easy to work with. And most of the time we find that the crews of those bands really love us because we’re so easygoing.
Number two, we see those bands doing what we wanna do, you know, and that drives us. We see what they’re doing and push ourselves to get there. And for that to happen we know we gotta work hard. I just see that and I’m inspired to keep pushing at what we do.
Amps: With your work ethic I definitely see the Mayhem main stage in your future sooner rather than later.
Hiran: Thank you, I appreciate that. Who knows what will happen? We’re definitely working our way up. We feel that we’ve got a ways to go to get where we wanna be. In our heads we’re never satisfied, so we just keep pushing, like ‘Ok. What’s next? What do we have to do to get to where we wanna go?”
Hiran: Absolutely. I think 2014’s gonna be busier than 2013. I see us hopefully going overseas then coming back to the States for a little bit, then more overseas stuff. Usually toward the end of a second album cycle, there could be a headlining run. Then more writing for the next album. But 2014 is gonna be lots and lots of touring.
Amps: Ooh, you know what would be an awesome bill? You guys, Havok, Hatriot, and fuckin’ Death Angel! That would be a sick dream bill!
Hiran: Hell yeah! I would actually like to have been on that Killswitch/Lamb of God/Testament tour, but kudos to our friends in Huntress for getting that one.
Amps: Yeah, I say this because you know, this is MY site, no one’s paying me, and when I love a band, like Battlecross, I get behind ‘em and try to promote the shit out of ‘em. We set up tweets to go out like crazy, just anything we can. Then I’ll be like “Oh shit! Battlecross tweeted me back!” (Hiran laughs). Dude, I’m 40, but I’m still a total fanboy!
Hiran: (Laughing) no man, that’s cool. We love that, man! I’m the same way. Goatwhore is here tonight, and I’m a big Goatwhore fan. So to talk with them, so down to earth, and I’m cheesin’ inside like a little kid! You meet bands like Death Angel and those guys are so cool. It’s funny, Ted (Aguilar, guitar), every time he sees me he’s like, “Whoa, whoa, whoa, Battlecross! Quit killin’ it every night, stop it!” Those guys are so cool. It’s awesome to see a band of their caliber doing what they’ve been doing for so many years, and you can tell they’re all about the music and they love what they do. I love that, and I respect it so much.
Amps: I gotta ask….that part in “Flesh and Bone” where you and Tony go, for lack of a better word, BATSHIT! Who the hell came up with that, man?!?
Hiran: Definitely Tony, man. He’s the mastermind on that song. I remember hearing the demo and being like, “Oh my God!” When it was done I just thought it was fuckin’ incredible. All credit goes to Tony on that one for sure. It’s actually one of my favorites to play live. It’s tricky to play, just making sure that we’re on, and that the monitors are working just right. Such a fun song to play and the crowd loves it. We had an insane Wall of Death on that one during Mayhem, it was sick.
Amps: What are the biggest differences between album one and album two?
Hiran: To me, there was more focus in the songwriting this time. On the first album, some of those songs were written in 2007. And I think we were still trying to find our sound and develop. Also, I think it was the studio we recorded at which, no disrespect to that studio, it was great for what we did, but after hearing the record there were things I wish I could’ve done differently. On the second record we really got to do that, and experiment with sounds. We really pushed ourselves this time, and we really had more of a songwriting aspect to it. Catchy songs, but each one had character to it. It’s not a flatline record; there are different grooves on it. When I stepped back and listened I was really proud of what we did.
Shannon Lucas did the drums, and he’s an amazing drummer and a great guy to work with. I think that stepped up what we had to do as musicians because he’s such a great drummer. I think Gumby (Kyle Gunther, vocals) really delivered on this record, too. War of Will was the first album this band got to write together because Pursuit of Honor had some songs with our old singer, some were from 2007, and it was kind of like a mish-mash of songs that were kind of new and old. And Gumby had to come in and sing songs that already had lyrics to them. And you don’t have that kind of emotion when it’s not your own song. This time it was all his stuff; he got to write from his heart what he wanted to do. This record is Battlecross.
Amps: What would you like to say to the legions of Battlecross fans out there?
Hiran: I just wanna say thanks to all the fans that support us and show us love. We truly appreciate you guys. We love what we do and we love the fact that you guys support us. All we ask is that you spread the word and tell your friends so we can infect everyone with the Battlecross Bug! We love you guys!!
There you have it. We’ve now successfully interviewed both of the axe men from Battlecross and lived to tell the tale. They are both such great guys, and such hard working musicians, no wonder things are taking off for them. And mark my words; the bigger stages will come calling sooner rather than later for this band.