Interview: Ben Whitfield (Colonel Blast, Condate Records)

An interview with Colonel Blast on Dose of Metal? What the hell is going on? Confused much? Not sure what I’m talking about? Well, let me give you a little background information before we get started.

In May of 2011, I was contacted by Condate Records’ PR agency. They sent me the Split Roast album, which included songs by Colonel Blast, Cancerous Womb, Diascorium, Magpyes and Dyscaphia. I reviewed said album a couple of days later.

I was very impressed with Colonel Blast’s contributions to the split, so I tried to get their debut album next to review it aswell. I was promised to get the album soon afterwards, but in the end nobody gave it to me, even though I was in contact with people from the PR agency, Condate Records and even the band. I decided to just buy the album instead and then write about it, which I did in July.

People from within the band apologized, for not giving me the album, a bit later on Facebook. Shit happens. I offered them an interview, and even contacted two seperate bandmembers about it. I never received an answer. That annoyed me a bit, so I moved on and tried not to talk about them on our site anymore.

Fast forward to Thursday of last week. I found out about This Is Turin, Darryl Jones’ (Colonel Blast vocalist) original band. I liked their songs, but wasn’t sure if I should or shouldn’t post about them. The incidents surrounding Colonel Blast and Condate Records (to which This Is Turin are also signed) were still in the back of my mind. I decided to write about them anyhow, with a detailed backstory as to why I was reluctant to write about them.

I was pretty open in that article, and Ben Whitfield took notice of said post. Ben is the mainman behind Condate Records and Colonel Blast, of which he is also the guitarist. He contacted me and we discussed the incidents of last year and patched things up. We agreed to do an interview and talk about it all openly.

This is where we stand today and, if you go on reading after the jump, everything will be explained. I’m ready to move on and close this chapter, and so is Ben. We discussed these past happenings and then moved on to talk a bit about Condate Records, their roster and finally Colonel Blast. Now click ‘continue reading,’ to… continue reading.

Dose of Metal: Hey Ben, how are you doing?

Ben Whitfield: Hi Guido, I’m doing OK thanks, could be better and could be worse!

DoM: I must say, just a week ago I wouldn’t have thought we’d see an interview with a member of Colonel Blast on our site anytime soon. Things have changed since though, and we’ve talked things through privately. I’m all for making it public now to clear up that some of my assumptions were wrong, even if these thoughts weren’t unjustified. I’d say it was basically a case of quite a few single mistakes, which summed up and gave away a wrong impression. How would you describe it, and what would you like to add?

Ben: Yeah, as soon as I saw the recent article up on the site I knew something had gone seriously wrong but I wasn’t sure what! There are a few different people involved in Condate/Colonel Blast and we aren’t the most organised of people at times. It’s all voluntary, we don’t make any money from the label and so things get fitted in around work/life/wives/etc… and I guess the others involved with talking to you got weighed down with other things on their minds. Despite that it’s no excuse and it was unacceptable for communication to have been so appalling. Being out of the loop personally meant I was unable to keep tabs on whether people were replying to your messages. I was really upset that so many crossed wires would have led to making you feel the way you did. All the reviews for Colonel Blast/Condate stuff have been top notch on this site and the last thing I wanted to do was refuse or snub such generous promotion and kind words. I knew I had to get in touch to see if we could get to the bottom of it and I’m glad we have been able to speak and now do this interview!

Condate Records logo.

DoM: The music business is unforgiving but I’m glad we’ve got to sort things out. We’re all in it for the love of music after all. In my case writing about it, and in your case playing it. Did something similar ever happen to you before? Maybe it’s just bad luck but I’ve had similar things like that happen to me before, albeit in a smaller dose.

Ben: Speaking from the band perspective, we have had so many people promise us the earth in our musical “careers” to date and been let down each and every time. It’s the curse of not being business minded. We are musicians at the end of the day, we write what we want to write and don’t think about anything else! We know that realistically we will never make a living out of this, we do it because we have a need to and when that need goes we’ll stop. Starting the Condate label was a direct response to the problem of people not sticking to their promises and it has been a STEEP learning curve getting used to playing the game. At the end of the day we are genuinely nice people who don’t go out of our way to rub people up the wrong way. Hopefully we can learn from this situation and make sure it doesn’t happen again!

DoM: I guess we can now say ‘case closed,’ and move on to different topics. Tell us a bit about Condate Records. How did it start and what are you trying to achieve with it?

Ben: As I touched on above Condate Records was started as a direct response to how badly we’d been treated by other music industry “people” and labels. We are in this, as pretentious as it sounds, for the art of music. Creating something that we can enjoy is the main aim and Condate will hopefully grow in to the conduit for other people to enjoy it too. As I have no money to pump in to the label in a traditional way, our deals with artists offer free recording/mixing/mastering at my recording studio, cutting those up front costs for the band. We then digitally distribute their records and try to promote them as best we can. typically we do a 20%/80% split with the bands so really we aren’t even close to covering the cost of the work we put in up front. What we do get out of it though is knowing we have put something out there that we feel is genuinely good music. I’d never dream of crippling a bands progression for my own personal greed. We do it because we love the music we are involved with.

Condate Records' Split Roast.

DoM: According to Condate Records’ website, Colonel Blast, Face Of Christ and This Is Turin are signed to the label. Only Colonel Blast contributed to the Split Roast album, why is that so? And how do Cancerous Womb, Magpyes, Dyscaphia and Diascorium fit into the picture?

Ben: Well because all the work that goes in to the label is done in our spare time and mostly by myself in terms of recording the records etc I don’t want to take on too many bands, spread myself too thin and completely defeat the point of helping out bands in the first place. It’s hard enough to keep on top of the 3 bands let alone signing anyone else! The Split Roast album was initially only going to be a two way thing. I love split EP’s and I’d spoken with Mike from Cancerous Womb and he was up for doing something that would hopefully help out both bands by splitting our audiences and introducing them to a new band. Somewhere down the line they had agreed to do a split with Diascorium and the next thing I know that Owl Man Paulie P from Diascorium has announced it’s going to be a five way split online haha! Well I knew I’d look a right arsehole if I didn’t go along with it so we thrashed out the details and got it done. I love each band on that release but I’ll be fucked if I’m doing it again. Trying to get 5 bands and nearly 20 people to agree on anything is like herding epileptic cats in a disco…

DoM: What will Condate Records bring us in 2012? I’ve read that This Is Turin’s debut album is coming out this year, can you elaborate on that? And what are Face Of Christ up to?

Ben: This is Turin’s record is being tracked at the moment. Hopefully it will see the light of day within the next 6 months. It’s been a long road so far trying to get it done but we are slowly working towards completion. Face of Christ are writing a new record as a follow up to last year’s “Year of the Prick”. They have 3 or 4 songs pretty much down and when they have another 3 or 4 they will be recorded and released pretty quickly. We’ve also got a little something extra called “Condate Singles Club” which is essentially all the random recordings and tunes we record in studio downtime for a laugh. The idea is people join the “Condate Singles Club” and get a little pack of Condate related goodies and a free track download each month for 12 months. It may turn in to an area where members get to hear new releases early and stuff like that too. The details are hazy at the minute but feeling promising!

DoM: Let’s move on to Colonel Blast, shall we? You released your debut album For The Greater Good two years ago. How do you feel when you listen to the album nowadays? Are you still happy with it?

Ben: It’s hard to believe it’s been two years already! I still put the record on every now and again and yeah I’m still happy with it. It denotes the beginning of this bands particular journey and was a bookend to a lot of shit that came before with our previous bands. When I listen to it it always makes me feel positive about what we are about and what we have achieved so far. With that in mind I wouldn’t change a thing about it. I love what it represents to us. Hopefully people who like the band can still listen to it and to them have it not sound jaded.

DoM: What can you tell us about Colonel Blast’s history as a band?

Colonel Blast - Management Coat Competition

Ben: Colonel Blast was formed around Ineal, Mike and Myself after our old band name got “taken back” by a vocalist who left. We decided that despite our management at the time offering the option to sue him and keep our old name, it was the perfect opportunity to cut this guy from our lives completely and start fresh. (Interestingly it also gave us a nifty exit strategy off a label who were doing fuck all for us). We’d already been working on the first few tracks that made up “For the Greater Good” and Matt had already joined the old band to replace the vocalist who left so it was all set up to go. Andy joined after the record was finished so we could replicate some of the harmony stuff on the record live. Then Matt left for New York after an opportunity he and his wife couldn’t pass up so we enlisted Darryl as his replacement throwing him straight in to an appearance at Damnation Festival haha! We wrote the two tracks for the split and we are slaving away at trying to make the difficult second record right now!

DoM: After your original singer, Matt Bolton, left the band, Darryl Jones of This Is Turin joined Colonel Blast. Is this temporary or will he stay permanently and continue with both bands?

Ben: Darryl offered to help us out after Matt left so we could keep gigging. Turns out he quite likes being in the band so it’s a permanent arrangement now! He’s going to continue with both bands, This is Turin is his baby, he has been playing in that band for a long time and we have no issues with him doing both. I’ve always been in multiple bands, I think it helps creativity and allows you to get different things out of different projects. It’s the same for Darryl, he gets to do stuff in Colonel Blast that he doesn’t in Turin and vice versa.

DoM: What does this change mean for the band as a whole?

Ben: Well Darryl is a different vocalist to Matt but both are very distinctive. The trick for us as a band is to make sure that what we are doing is still good enough for our high personal standards. Obviously the tone of the Split Roast tracks is different to the tracks on For the Greater Good but they are still essentially Colonel Blast tracks. So nothing has really changed, we like Darryls vocals now and we liked Matts when he was with us.

DoM: You’re supposed to be releasing your first album with Darryl this year. How far into writing/recording are you? And when do you think it’ll be finished?

Ben: The going is slow at the moment! We have a host of riffs and ideas and we are sifting through them bit by bit. One rule we always work by is if it’s good it’s good and when it’s done it’s done. We hate to force things and prefer to develop ideas naturally over time. It means the writing process takes an age but I would hate to put something out there that I wasn’t 100% about and the rest of the guys feel the same. I’ll tentatively say the end of the year…

Colonel Blast - Power By Proxy

DoM: What will be the main difference between For The Greater Good and the upcoming album, obviously excluding the vocals?

Ben: The new stuff we have come up with so far is still raw sounding and it kind of follows on from where the last track on For the Greater Good left off. Quite Black Metal sounding chord sequences played in a raw Hardcore style with some speedy riffs and blasts?! It’s difficult to describe as a general feel hasn’t made itself apparent yet but once we hit that vein of writing it will start to become more cohesive.

DoM: Try to sum up Colonel Blast’s sound in 5 words.

Ben: Very loud and very harsh.

DoM: What else are you working on right now?

Ben: Other than the Colonel Blast, FoC and This is Turin records I’ve personally been writing for another project I play in called Flying Cheep Cheep. It’s not metal at all but it is the kind of music I grew up playing and have continued to play alongside the metal stuff as another musical outlet. It’s kind of Pink Floyd meets Battles via Thom Yorke if that makes any sense? Definitely quite depressing music! You can find it on that Facebook if you search the name.

DoM: Is there anything else you want to tell your readers at doseofmetal.com?

Ben: First of all thanks for reading this if you made it through my ramblings! I want to say thanks to you Guido for having the good grace to chat through our issue and allow me to do this interview. And finally if you have read through this and you are in to what we do please check out the bands and the label’s sites/social networks and say hello. It would be lovely to hear from you!

DoM: Thank you for your time!

Condate Records website, Facebook, Youtube
Colonel Blast Myspace, Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, Soundcloud
Flying Cheep Cheep Facebook
This Is Turin Myspace, Soundcloud
Face Of Christ Facebook

About Guido

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