It’s not often a band is afforded a strapline as bold and grand as ‘the metalhead’s metal band’ but that’s exactly how South Wales-based heavy metal band Triaxis are described in certain quarters. With two albums under their belt to date, with a steadily-growing reputation and a loyal fan base, things are looking rather splendid for Triaxis. However, with album number three, ‘Zero Hour’ officially upon us as I write, I predict that things will only get better for the talented and hard-working quintet.
If you’ve yet to read my review of ‘Zero Hour’, be sure to check it out here. To briefly quote the review though, I am on record as saying that ‘Zero Hour’ is the very best that Triaxis have ever sounded and puts the Welsh band into the upper echelons of the British metal scene’. I think I might like the new album then.
In light of this, I felt it was my duty to offer the band the chance to tell the world a little more about themselves; after all, that’s what this blog is all about. I contacted lead vocalist Krissie Kirby and, happily, a few days later we got together over Skype to have a chat. It went something like this…
After a minor mix-up over the time of the interview and profuse, yet unnecessary, apologies from Krissie, I open the conversation by asking for a brief history of Triaxis for the benefit of those coming to this article blind.
“Ok”, begins a very bubbly, warm and friendly Krissie with a deep breath as if she’s about to launch into a rendition of ‘War And Peace’, “CJ (rhythm guitar) and Giles (Wilson – drums) formed Triaxis originally in around 2006 I believe. Like every band that has ever been in existence, they started by playing covers. They had a guy singer to start with, so I wasn’t the original singer. He left for family reasons and they got another girl in for about a year. They were toying with the idea of recording originals but then she went to university up Sheffield way. So an opening came up for a vocalist in Triaxis and by that time I’d known CJ for about a year and a half. I worked at the university that she studied at; she was always in my office gassing away”, Krissie laughs heartily, the first of many throughout the conversation, as it turns out.
“Everyone as they went past my office, would hear Megadeth, Skid Row, Whitesnake or Iron Maiden, I was so down with the kids.” Cue a naughty, self-deprecating chuckle from the vocalist.
“So we got talking and CJ realised that I was a singer. They asked me originally to audition for the band some time before but I was doing my masters at the time. CJ eventually wound me down and I went and auditioned. I joined and we started writing a lot more original material. ‘Key To The Kingdom’ came out in 2009, Gio (Gavin ‘Gio’ Owen – lead guitar) left, Glyn (Williams) joined, ‘Rage And Retribution’ appeared. Owen (Crawford – bass) left, Becky (Baldwin) joined and ‘Zero Hour’ is upon us. There you go, the history of Triaxis.”
Having filled in some of the blanks surrounding the creation of the band, I bring things more to the present by asking Krissie’s opinion of the ‘the metalheads’ metal band’ tag-line that has developed more recently. You can almost hear the awe and pride in her voice as Krissie replies.
“I love it, I think it’s awesome. We were chatting to someone the other day and they asked us to define ourselves. We’ve always defined ourselves as a heavy metal band. We have so many elements from so many different subgenres that we are difficult to pigeonhole. The only time that people have tried to pigeonhole us is because there’s a female at the front of the band. It doesn’t matter what your favourite style of metal is, there is something in the Triaxis sound, I hope, for everybody.”
If ever there was a truer statement, I’ve yet to find it. Given the fact that ‘Zero Hour’ is so chock full of great music with a wonderful diversity to it, it would be remiss of me not to enquire about its origins and how it all came together in the first place. Krissie happily explains.
“Glyn did the bulk of the music for the album and he really pulled on a hell of a lot of other influences that maybe we overlooked in the past or didn’t feel comfortable bringing them up. I mean we’re still growing as a band and it was one of those moments when we let Glyn loose with his imagination. A lot of the music he came up with is just so varied and different but we were hard-pressed to find anything that we thought did not fit in with the Triaxis sound.”
“You can still hear CJ and Giles’ riff element in there with the more thrashy sounds”, continues Krissie apace. “Those two are the thrash children of the band, they really are and CJ is ‘Miss Thrash’. And so, when I read your piece, I actually agreed with it because we do have a lot of thrash elements in this band. When you put us amongst other female-fronted bands, we are a lot more thrashy.”
Having been questioned by more than one person over my ‘thrash’ definition of Triaxis in a previous blog post, I’m naturally pleased to hear this from Krissie. However, rather than indulge in a smug ‘I told you so’, I instead let Krissie continue uninterrupted.
“That’s what we always try to say, that we just happen to have a female singer. I can’t do pretty, I can’t. As much as I love listening to Tarja, Within Temptation or NIghtwish, I’m too much of a tomboy and I can’t do pretty”, she chuckles. “However, I’m not saying that Floor is a symphonic singer – she can do opera stuff but her rock voice is phenomenal.”
At the risk of sounding a tad fawning, I suggest to Krissie that I personally consider her to be the female equivalent to Bruce Dickinson, principally due to the power that they both display by the bucket load.
“Woah, thank you”, Krissie replies genuinely. “We’ve had a few ways of being described and my favourite is ‘Iron Maiden fronted by Ann Wilson. I’ll take that, thank you because Bruce Dickinson is one of my absolute idols.”
“He’s not the principal song writer”, Krissie corrects me when I use this description of Glyn, “he’s the principal music writer. When we write, it’s a collaborative process in Triaxis. Because of the various things that have happened in our personal lives over the past year or so with Giles and CJ getting married, me starting my own business and things like that, Glyn started writing and we let him run wild with the music side of things.”
“Glyn would therefore share snippets of riffs with us and maybe CJ would come up with an idea off the back of it. She’d maybe write a bridge too and everything would go into a giant pot. One of us would then suggest a lyric idea, it would then be developed. Then someone else would agree with the theme but suggest a different perspective. It would basically be a huge melting pot and we’d all add to it.”
That being said, Krissie is again quick to correct me when I suggest that ‘Zero Hour’ has the feel of a album that came together thanks to a lot of jamming around with ideas in a rehearsal room.
“That’s sort of true but it’s a virtual room though. This is because we all live so far from each other and plus, with the way my work is, it is difficult for us to all get together into a room and jam. We find it a lot easier to put our ideas down electronically and throw them up into a dropbox and then work on them from there. In the old days, you’d have a band in a garage and they’d jam and create a song in maybe a day or whatever. It can take us anywhere up to five or six weeks to come up with a completely-crafted song.”
Unlike a lot of albums these days, ‘Zero Hour’ is not short of music, with a full twelve songs featuring. I ask Krissie to explain the reasoning behind creating such a big ‘value for money’ record.
“The decision”, she responds with characteristic honestly, “was very much down to ‘damn it, let’s just throw it on there’. It was a case of whether to put all twelve songs on the album or hold some back, maybe put out an EP later in the year or something like that. But then we just thought that all twelve songs were too good and they all work so well together. We just had to put them all on the record.”
“No, I don’t think so”, muses Krissie after a short pause when I ask whether she thought it was a risk to put the epic title track at the end of the disc, when those with a shorter attention span may miss out on it altogether. “We realised that we’d got a bit of a theme going on where the longest song appears as the last track. And the way it was written with the reversed intro as the outro, it was always in our minds to be the last song on the album regardless of what other songs came in between.”
The aforementioned outro was one of those genuinely eyebrow-raising moments as it sounds so different from Triaxis. So different in fact that I’m reminded of neo-prog giants Marillion as it plays. Fortunately, as Krissie reveals, I’m not the only one.
“A friend of mine commented on that and said the same thing”, she laughs. “It was just that we knew we wanted to put an outro on the song and CJ, because of the lyrical content, suggested that it might be good to do something new with the intro as the outro. Glyn suggested we just reverse it and see what happens. It sounded so cool, so we decided to go with it.”
There’s no doubting the quality of ‘Zero Hour’ in its entirety. However, I’m keen to identify what specifically Krissie is most proud of with this new album. As is her way, she tries to deflect the attention from herself initially.
“I think as a band, we’re proud of how the album has come together and we’re proud of Glyn because he headed up the entire recording process. He really worked his arse off and has infinite patience. In Triaxis, there are three girls who are all perfectionists and we get very frustrated with ourselves when we don’t get things absolutely right. He lets us get our frustrations out before saying ‘deep breath, let’s start again’. He’s wonderful and we’re proud of him for that. We’re very proud of the way our fans responded to our pledge campaign, we couldn’t believe that we hit the target within nine hours. You never know where to set the target; have we set it too low or too high, is our fanbase as big as we think it is? But it turned out that our fan base is even more huge than we thought.”
“Personally”, Krissie finally admits, “I am most proud of the ‘Lest We Forget’ track. It is inspired by an ancestor of mine and when I heard the rough copy, I had an emotional moment shall we say.”
One of the things that makes Triaxis so interesting is, arguably, the fact that more than half the band are female. In terms of the band’s output, this shouldn’t, and doesn’t, matter one iota. However, I’m interested to find out what this is like from the band’s perspective given that there are many people out there who apparently do care about such things. Krissie understands the rather ham-fisted way in which I word the question and once again chuckles before offering her considered view.
“We always get people who call us ‘femme metal’ or ‘female fronted’ but people will always try to pigeonhole you”, she states matter-of-factly. “The human species is terrible about wanting everything put into compartments. So people will do it whether I get uppity or not. So it’s a case of taking a breath, smiling and saying ‘thank you’. As long as people enjoy our music and come to our gigs, I really don’t mind.”
“It was an eye-opener a year last January”, Krissie continues, “when I decided to cut off all my hair. I had in the region of 250 comments asking why and if I’d lost my vocal powers. I was like ‘really?’ It’s just hair, it will grow back. But up until that point, it hadn’t registered with me how much people focus on the appearance of a band. I was quite shocked because I didn’t expect it in the metal world. I’d expect it in the pop and dance worlds where image is absolutely paramount, way above the music. I was disappointed to be honest but, to be fair, they got over it. And, to be honest, I think it works to our advantage having three girls in the band, but the boys are just as pretty.” Insert more raucous and friendly laughter here.
At this point, I decide to wind down the interview. Not because I want to, but because I can hear my toddler and baby instigating World War 3 downstairs. The closing topic focuses upon Triaxis’ touring plans in support of the new record.
“We were in Europe in March for a few dates that we viewed as a warm-up”, Krissie replies. “We played a couple of new songs from the album because we didn’t know when we’d get out there again after the album launch. We wanted to treat the Belgian and Holland crowds because they’ve been very good to us over the last few years. We’re hoping to get out again in the autumn and hopefully go into Germany and some of the Scandinavian countries. I think it depends where things start to go from with the album launch. But having Metal Hammer stream the album this week has helped somewhat.”
I saw that. That must have been a great moment for you as a band?
“I had the notice that it was happening from our PR lady one night when I was coming away from teaching a client. I was in the middle of Tesco when this notice came through and I may have been loud and done a happy dance down the aisle at that point”, Krissie laughs underlining the point that Triaxis are still very much ‘normal people just like you and me – they just happen to be very talented musicians as well, damn them!
“If it takes us further afield and increases our fan base, then we’ve done our job”, Krissie continues more seriously. “It is a helpful tool but you should never pin your fanbase on how many likes you get on that god-awful social media. However we’ve gone up over 300-400 likes in the last week alone which is phenomenal for us. And then there’s the pledge stuff – we’ve sent things out to Japan, Australia and America, so the Triaxis tentacles are starting to spread across the globe.”
And rightly so too. However, as a final plea from someone with two very small children who finds it tough to get out to gigs currently, I ask Krissie to bring Triaxis to East Anglia, preferably Ipswich. The reply is not a flat-out ‘no’ either. Result.
“In the UK, we’re constantly looking at getting gigs in all sorts of places. We recorded the drums up near Ipswich so we should be able to play a show up there sometime I would think. And a friend of mine owns a gym in Colchester, so I will nag him as well.”
And with that, we say our goodbyes along with a few more laughs and a bit of friendly banter. Have I ever enjoyed an interview more? If I have, I’m hard-pressed to remember it. Triaxis really are the real deal; lovely people, highly talented and very driven to succeed. And, on the strength of ‘Zero Hour’, they deserve all the success that they can get. So do yourselves a favour and acquaint yourselves with Triaxis; you’ll not be disappointed, trust me.
‘Zero Hour’ is out now on Rocksector Records.
If you’ve enjoyed this interview, please check out some others that I have conducted: