Heading For Internal Light: Val Interviews Crust Legends Hellbastard

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Written By: Val Landrum
Dec 27 2011

Hellbastard band portrait

Almost 30 years ago this UK band coined the term "crust". Now, with several tours (including two US jaunts) and new releases under the HELLBASTARD name they are probably more popular than ever!

They shared some great stories of the early days in Ian Glasper's book 'Trapped in a Scene' and here ThrashHead's Val has a chance to talk to main man, Scruff as well as Paul and Buda from this legendary band about the present and future of HELLBASTARD.

ThrashHead: So who is playing in HELLBASTARD today? Looks like there have been a lot of lineup changes in the past year.

Scruff: Hello Val, Ahem ! Lineup changes, yes you could say so. At present we have Mr Thomas Mc Combe on guitars, Mr Paul O'Shea on Bass, Mr Josh "Budda/Mr. Tibbs" Harris on Drums and myself on Vocals /Guitars. I won't go into what caused the lineup changes and all that, but needless to say this is definitely the best HELLBASTARD has had yet. Definitely one of the most open-minded line ups and definitely the best line up HB has seen, ever.

Paul: During the past year we have had to replace both Danny and Michael. We have Tom McCombe on lead guitar. Tom is a very close friend of mine who played in a previous band with me. He is surely destined to become a guitar legend. We also have Mr. Josh "Buda" Harris on drums. He lives locally, unlike Michael, which has made it a lot easier for us to write and rehearse on a regular basis. We have created more music since Josh joined 2 months ago, than we have the entire past two years! Danny and Michael now have their own band together...something to do with David Carradine I think?

ThrashHead: Lots of fests for you guys this coming year! I see that HELLBASTARD is playing Maryland Death Fest. It is the most renowned metal fest in the US. Will this be one of the biggest crowds for you guys ever?

Scruff: No, this will not be the biggest thing we have done. But we are all very much looking forward to it.

Paul: It will be the biggest crowd I will have played to in HELLBASTARD, for sure.

ThrashHead: What about Obscene Extreme Fest in the Czech Republic? How did you end up playing?

Scruff: I asked if we could play.

ThrashHead: I also heard about Pouzza Fest in Montreal Canada. It's your first time there right? Your mates PANZERBASTARD are playing that with you too?

Scruff: Yes it is our first time in Canada as a band, I asked if PB could play it too, and after the organizers checked them out the answer was a nice "yes".

Tom: The Bastards over Europe tour with PANZERBASTARD was the most action packed time of my life thus far!

Paul: PANZERBASTARD will be playing there too, yes. Can't wait to see them again. It's the first time we've played in Canada, correct. I did visit Canada for about an hour on the previous US tour. That was due to a few of us accidentally crossing the border near Niagara Falls! Luckily they let us back in after a mild interrogation!

Hellbastard kicking back

ThrashHead: How did last years US tour go overall? Best Show? Worst show? Did you have any trouble coming into the US?

Scruff: It was a very trying time to be honest. Apart from hassle by customs and a few scares along the way we met some lovely people and got to play some awesome shows. The best show was probably in TEXAS where we played this crazy HOUSE SHOW, it was JAM PACKED and absolutely mental. That was with DISSENT and a few other bands,.... We played an awesome place in Virginia called "ALLEY KATZ" with BLACK TUSK, PARASYTIC,CANNIBAS CORPSE and HELLBEAR,..... ALL the bands were just fucking AWESOME. That was a very special night. I think the day after this we drove into Canada by Accident so me and dean and our friend John from Boston jumped out the van (not wanting to be arrested) and checked out Niagara Falls. That was brilliant. We also played in Chicago with Ex CELTIC FROST new band "Tryptykon", that was quite eventful, and straight afterwards went and played a house/basement show with a load of bands, and that was fucking PACKED, jammed. It was very very good. The WORST show may very well have been in a tiny house on the way to Philadelphia (I seem to remember), the electricity went off and they had to steal a live feed from a church right across the road...Stealing DIRECT from the house of god. The cops came by 4 or 5 times too and each time they came by someone would rush in and tell us to SHUT UP,...and as soon as they passed we would launch into another song. HAHAHAH that was fucking funny...They were really nice people at that house as well.

Paul: Scruff had trouble getting in as I'm sure he will tell you. I loved every show. I live for the road, I love everything about it. I have a DVD of the last show we played on that tour. It was in Minneapolis. We sounded so damn tight by that point. The energy on that stage is intense. Mind you, I was a right fat fucker by that point. I discovered Steel Reserve and Burritos on the US tour and overdid it a bit.

ThrashHead: Tell me about the spider bite incident and how it affected the tour? ( I am still kicking myself for not taking you to the emergency room myself)

Scruff: Well, the spiders bit me around a week before we reached Denver, (That was what the nurse at Denver Hospital said) I just thought I was getting ill because of all the different climates in the USA and all that, but no - I was bitten THREE times by BLACK WIDOWS and in the end it just had me incapacitated. You remember, I woke up in YOUR house and just couldn't move,...Uuurghhhh that was so fucking bad. I was given THREE Percocet's at the hospital and it made me HIGH and I didn't like that, but it made the pain go away for sure...... which was nice. They sorted me out in that hospital and it felt so good to feel "Normal" again, and not one show missed either! I am very proud of that.

Paul: Scruff was ill for a while if I remember correctly but still battled through the shows. He's a tough fellow.

ThrashHead: So Scruff, are you still a gardening postman?

Scruff: I have been gardening since I was a kid, my father used to take me out to the countryside and tell me all the names of flowers and plants and the different families to which they belonged etc etc. He used to take me into the garden and say - "You know how much you like carrots and turnips and lettuce and inions" ? And i would say - "YES! YES ! YES! and he would place in my hand some small seeds and say, "Well, these little things called seeds will turn INTO those very things if we plant them correctly, and wait a little while....." Then he'd show me how to sow the seeds and keep them from being nicked by the birds and all this stuff. Of course, I'd be out there EVERY DAY looking at where we planted the seeds thinking "LIAR ! NOTHING IS HAPPENING...." hahahahaha, then about a few weeks later little shoots appeared and I was hooked. Gardener for life.

Yes, (Sigh...) i am a still a Mailman, the early mornings kill me - not to mention the sheer volume and WEIGHT of what we here in the UK carry on our backs every single day..... everybody's gotta make a living somehow huh?

Paul: Last I heard, he was working as a stripogram at a holiday resort in Bognor Regis.

Buda: Poor Bastard!

ThrashHead: HELLBASTARD is recording new material in December for a 12" split with DRESDEN. What can you tell us about the new material?

Scruff: Well, there are the classic HELLBASTARD touches in all the new tracks, the anger is still there (that will never go) but there is a maturity to the songs that the last few releases never had. Some of the new titles are "System Whore", "Sons Of Bitches" and "I Miss Your Company". They are refreshing to hear even on this practice tape I'm paying right now. I have always said this, and I will keep to it, ANY band is only as good as their drummer. We have a fucking STUNNING drummer in the band. Mister Tibbs aka "Tibbsy", AKA "Budda". HE makes everything shine, so no matter how many good songs I write or ANY FUCKER writes, if we didn't have MISTER TIBBS we would be fucked.

Paul: There are 3 new tracks ready for the release. It's the best HELLBASTARD ever and it will be both pounding and caressing your ears very soon.

ThrashHead: There is also a special edition of the Heading for Internal Darkness LP coming out soon right? What will be special about it?

Scruff: The thing that will be special about the re-release of the "Heading for Enternal Darkness" Lp on CD is it also includes a free LIMITED EDITION 7" ! It should look and sound awesome.

ThrashHead: How was the split with DISSENT received by the fans?

Scruff: I just heard news this week (Dec 2011) that Torture Garden recs sold out of that EP.... none left ! That speaks for itself.

Paul: They loved it.

ThrashHead: Any plans to re-release the Hate Militia demo? It was a tape-trader classic from way back!

Buda: Tape trades are awesome!

Scruff: Well we have had a few offers to re-release that recording, but it'd be better if it was remixed properly don't you think? I still have the 1/4" Master Ampex Reel tape of that recording..... Any offers anyone ?

Paul: It was released as a limited edition under the title "The Good go First" about 12 years ago.

ThrashHead: What else are you guys up to in 2012? What does the future hold for HELLBASTARD?

Scruff: We are writing the next full-length album and THAT is the main priority really. Everything else is secondary at present.

Paul: More shows, more songwriting and hopefully a full length album.

Thanks guys! Val

Hellbastard - Pylons II by Gareth Strange

Hellbastard - Sea Shepherd by Gareth Strange

Cold Ones & Rolled Ones with Ami Lawless on Radio Valencia online at radiovalencia.fm or 87.9FM in San Francisco, also available on podcast in iTunes. Shit talk and shenanigans, arts/culture, guests/interviews and giveaways all set to hardcore/punk/metal! Yes, this might seem like a contradiction... but really, aren't we all? Stop by for the party Thursday evenings 6:00-8:00 pm, Bay Area time zone, bitches.
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