Interview with Dr Tom Robinson-Perry Bass with NEANDERTHAL and Pete Devine of Pete’s Rock News and Views (http://petesrocknewsandviews.com)
PD: How would you describe yourself or your band as an artist?
TRP: We tend to default to “metal band” a lot, as it’s a difficult one to answer – especially now that we have a new line up. Our sound is largely thrash, but thrash that’s come full circle: taking in and absorbing all the subgenres that have spun off from it. So we incorporate a lot of groove, melo-death, prog metal, and all sorts. Whatever feels like the right tool for the job.
PD: Can you tell us briefly about your background – i.e. where you’re from, how you came to make music, etc.
TRP: I was born and raised in Stockport, just south of Manchester. Mainly discovered music through my dad: a lot of Rush, Genesis, Thin Lizzy, Marillion, Alice Cooper and all that stuff. I was about the right age for the pop/skater punk boom and fell into that quite hard for a while in my early teens, until I picked up a copy of MetalHammer when I was thirteen or fourteen – it came with a Nuclear Blast compilation. Opeth, Soilwork, Mastodon. It completely blew me away. After that I dived into bands like Arch Enemy, Slayer, Strapping Young Lad, and then Daath.
PD: Who and what inspires you to make music, both in terms of musical and other influences? What do you like to write about in your songs?
TRP: Daath are a huge one for me. I remember being 15 or so and thinking guys like Petrucci and Steve Vai were the be all and end all, until someone sent me a clip of Eyal Levi and Emil Werstler ripping through From the Blind. That mix of gypsy jazz and death metal hit me like a freight train, and a lot of my own playing is an attempt to recreate that feeling. Devin Townsend is another big inspiration – the guy is a live wire with the insulation stripped away, all raw feeling and energy. Speaking for myself, I write music to expel or express something that I either don’t have or can’t find the words for. The stuff that goes beyond language – that needs that rawness and total transparency.
PD: What are your aspirations as an artist?
TRP: To keep going until something goes BANG, essentially. Outside of music, I write fiction, and I’m building my career as an academic and I couldn’t be happier with how everything has fallen together – a life where I can express and explore in fundamentally different mediums. Focusing specifically on music – I’d like to create something that feels honest, that connects with others, and doesn’t make me want to tear my own ears off in shame after six months.
PD: What is the proudest moment in your music career so far?
TRP: Playing at Chinnerys in Southend-On-Sea last month. It’s a 14+ venue and we’re used to playing to slightly older crowds, and I remember looking up at the crowd at one point and spotting some younger faces – younger than we’d expected. There was this weird feeling of inertia, remembering going to gigs in my teens and how alive I’d feel at gigs – how connected to something bigger and wilder than myself. To be the artist in that scenario (hopefully) was incredible. Also to hear people chanting during the Death of All Emotion solo gave me chills – still does.
PD: Promoting one’s music is such a challenge these days, especially with so many new artists emerging from bedrooms in the day of the home studio. How is that going?
TRP: Better than we could’ve hoped for. We’ve found a global community of artists on Facebook – bands looking to build a worldwide scene where everyone is lifting each other up. It’s pushed us into numbers we couldn’t imagine and introduced us to some top-shelf people. We’re starting to dabble in Instagram and TikTok as well and whatever we’re putting down, people seem to be picking up.
PD: And how do you book and promote your live shows and tours? Any performances coming up?
TRP: We’re not really the kind of people to sit down and wait for things to happen so we go direct to venues, a lot. Post-Covid we’ve found a lot of smaller venues are desperate for acts, especially in genres they haven’t really dabbled in before. Then, once we’ve got a spot – a foot in the door – we throw it open to other bands we like. From every gig we’ve played there’s been one or two acts we want to hang out with again, so the first opportunity we get to book them alongside us we take. We’ve also started putting on a semi-regular mini-festival of metal bands from London and the South East called Relentless Aggression, thinking it’s the best way to spread the love within the scene. As for promotion, we try to split that equally with the venues and the other bands wherever possible: a good spread across our platforms, videos or reels when we’ve got ideas, pushing it towards blogs and podcasts, stuff like that.
As for upcoming shows: we’ve got something pretty much every month until Jan 24. The full details are on our Facebook page, but our next gig is at the 4th Metal 2 the Masses Heat at Coda, Colchester on April 20th. It’s going to be a wild night.
PD: What do you think about downloading music online? What about streaming sites like Spotify?
TRP: I’m all for keeping access as open as possible. I want as few barriers as possible between audiences as art – but there’s that horrible trade-off with the artists and their ever vanishing bottom line. It’s one of those tricky situations where I’m all for it in principle, but frequently horrified by how it’s playing out in reality: big bands, bands I love, struggling to get by. There’s no easy answers there – but I think if you’ve got the opportunity to buy direct from a band or an artist, then do it.
PD: What song do you wish you’d written and why?
TRP: I’m on a huge Zeal and Ardour kick at the moment, Death To the Holy is a monster of a track – that delta blues vibe transitioning into hard hitting black metal is sublime. But it’s narrowly beaten out by Daath’s latest track: No Rest No End. It’s everything I love in a song: the riffs are inventive but melodic, a solid vocal hook in the chorus. Musically it’s expressive and interesting without becoming pretentious and self-indulgent, and that is an extremely hard line to toe.
PD: Is there anything you don’t like about the music industry, which you would change if you could?
TRP: As the resident opinionated jack-ass, I’ll try to limit myself here. Like with many things there’s an obsession with profit to the exclusion of all else – with money for money’s sake, rather than what you can do with that. If you’re engaged in the arts, I think eyeing up and hoarding large profits is kind of obscene. Why wouldn’t you re-invest that? Why wouldn’t you take your money mountain and start shovelling it into exciting and ground breaking projects? There’s more than enough going around to make sure artists can survive, at the very least, and that should be a priority – not stakeholders and upper management. Other than that I’d also say that, in metal in particular, there are still pervasive issues in access, representation, and equity of treatment in contracts, PR campaigns, and so on. But these are all wider cultural and political issues and not just limited to the music industry.
PD: So, what are you working on at the moment?
TRP: We’re diving deep into new music at the moment. It’s a new line-up, and both Spewy (bassist) and I are keen to make our mark. The material we’re currently playing around with is different to Rise, in some cases drastically. Darker, heavier – moving towards an emphasis on overall composition rather than a few breakout sections in each song. We’re still retaining that progressive edge, but dialling it back a touch. Hopefully we’ll have something ready to show for it by the end of the year.
PD: Where can we learn more about you and buy your music/merch online?
TRP: First and foremost, if you can – come to one of our gigs. We’re insufferable windbags who will gladly talk your ear off. But if that doesn’t appeal, then I suppose you could find us on Facebook, Instagram (@neandergram), Youtube (neanderthalbanduk), TikTok, Bandcamp, Spotify – pretty much any social media platform. We’ve got merch stores on Facebook, Bandcamp, and a separate one on Dizzyjam.
Band/Artist location – Essex England
Facebook – You Tube – Twitter – Instagram –
Apple – Spotify – Amazon – Deezer – DistroKid –TikTok –
Check our page gor NEANDERTHAL