IRONSTONE

Dan Charlton – Lead Vocals
Edward Warren – Lead Guitar, Vocals
Aidan Kalms – Rhythm Guitar
Oliver Hosking – Bass Guitar
Jackson Whyte – Drums, Vocals

Ironstone is a progressive metal band from Bendigo, Australia. With influences coming from a range of modern metal genres, their music features the duality of clean and distorted vocals, djent driven riffs and breakdowns, atmospheric layers and catchy choruses. The result is a contemporary metal sound that is sophisticated, melodic and hard-hitting.

I had an epic chat to Dan and Eddie this week to find out a little bit more about Ironstone (who I will forever now call Wafflestone!) their new EP Prophecy and the latest single Hollow

Dan: I’m Dan and this is Eddie.

Eddie: I’m the guitarist and Dan is the singer. I’m the lead guitarist, there are two guitarists in the band. Twice as nice! 

And three vocalists?

Eddie: Yeah. So Dan is the lead singer and Jack and I sing harmonies.

Dan: So Ironstone started a long time ago when Eddie was a young kid wanting to play guitar with his friends in a band. I guess Ed should probably tell this bit.

Eddie: I was probably about 10 years old and I had played a bit of guitar before with bands doing covers. I just really got hooked on it and wanted to do it more. I gathered some friends together from school, we played covers in pubs under a different name. It eventually evolved to the point where we decided that we had to do original music. This was going to be something serious.  It then turned into Ironstone. I’m 18 now so as a band that I am in, this has been going for about 7 years. As Ironstone and our current sound its only been going for about 18 months.

I was assuming that Hollow was your third single and when I jumped on Spotify to have a listen the whole EP is up there.

Dan: Yeah so we released Prophecy on May 29th.  We released two singles before we released the EP and then Hollow which we dropped a few days ago. 

Eddie: Ideally, if corona virus wasn’t a factor, we would have released all of our songs as singles. We would have built them all up with launch shows and maximise the hype out of it and then go now we are dropping them all together in an EP.  A lot of discussion went into our decision. We had a lot of things planned. PR plans, we’d been talking about touring and all these wonderful ideas that we were going to do. It just never ended up happening. So we decided to put Prophecy out as a body of work because we had nothing out there apart from one single with me singing, which is a good song, but it’s really not indicative of our musicianship or skill.  We really felt it was important to get a good body of work out there so that when people listen to one of our songs instead of going ‘What have they got?’ they can go and look and listen to six songs. That’s enough to keep people entertained I think. Six songs is a good amount, they can become invested in the band and go ‘wow I really love how they sound’ instead of going ‘I really like this song I hope they can pull it off a second time’.

Corona has been interesting! But there is still so much good music coming out.

Dan: There has been a lot of good music coming out. And I think that people have had time to actually sit down and focus on their music as well. A lot of people would have had jobs and that would have been their main priority, but a lot of people have been sitting at home doing nothing. Instead they have sat down and said right let’s dissect this music and that’s what has made it a lot better.

Eddie: I think also when people go to write its kind of a scary prospect going underground for several months because you have that fear of missing out.  Like crap what show opportunities are going to pass us by while we are all sitting down trying to find the time to write.  You get creative, sometimes songs pour out of you fast and sometimes it can take months to wrestle a song out that’s mediocre. It can often be a frightening prospect. Now that we are all locked down there is no fear of missing out. No one else is getting ahead while you’re left behind. Everyone is taking the chance to write songs. Everyone has been very adaptive. Lots of outside of the square stuff. And bands don’t have that external pressure. Everyone is writing what they want to write and it’s producing some amazing stuff.

And Chris Themelco, of Monolith Studios, mixed and mastered Prophecy.

Dan:  Bound was about a year ago and that was well before the EP and we weren’t really sure where we were going with it, as in album or EP. All we knew was that we wanted a song out.  Again at that time it was all about getting a body of work out one single at a time. Bound was initially mixed by Chris Lilac and that sounded really good so there is a single version of that but obviously when we got the EP done we got Chris to redo it. And we are very glad we did; the EP version just sounds exquisite. It sounds amazing. Chris Themelco is a bit of a god.

I’ve actually learnt a bit from doing these interviews. I was always more interested in the end product but now I’m finding myself asking more about the process.

Dan: That’s a really interesting point with the engineering. There’s always more to learn. As soon as you think you have it worked out something changes. There’s always a bigger fish. More to it, a bigger band that’s taken it further, that have utilised more technology. We’ve really learnt a lot about our production and our sound at least during the process of working with Chris. We have a much clearer picture of what we are doing next time. I can guarantee that what comes next will be better because we won’t have all these false steps at the start while we try to figure out what we are doing.

It takes a while to work through that process too. It’s not something that happens straight off the bat.

Dan: We’ve definitely learnt by our mistakes, well not mistakes, but the going back and forth.

Okay, the cover of your EP where did you get the inspiration from?

Eddie: Well, that’s a brilliant question!

I have a reason for asking but I’m not going to say it until after you’ve answered!!

Dan: I think honestly as much as I would love to say there is really something conceptionally significant behind it and that it all ties into the theme it really doesn’t.

Eddie: We just thought it looked really cool. There’s no shame in that either.  We’d done a bunch of different designs and had gone for really whimsical stuff but then we realised that although our sound is progressive it has a raw, mean, in your face kind of sound. We ditched those designs but there were a couple of elements that we came up with that just evolved into what we have. The frosted look makes it look like there is paper on the top that you are ripping off and there is a label underneath. I just love that idea, I wanted it to look like it was a special edition cd, give it multiple dimensions so that is was interesting to look at. We’re quite pleased with it.

I love it. So now I’m going to ask you who are your influences?

Eddie: This is the thing we all have different influences and that’s what make Ironstone’s sound. Dan has a real pop sensibility and loves a lot of pop artists and I listen to what is fundamentally music for crack heads so when you combine the two you get our sound with this really pop melodic influence. The guitars and drums are very aggressive and unpredictable.

Dan: Mine and Ed’s musical range just goes from zero to one hundred.

Eddie: It’s kind of an interesting thing and I think that’s why in the writing process cos I write all the instrumentals, like the music and orchestrate that. I feel that because I don’t listen to a diverse range of music it’s probably the reason why I write such strange music. I listen to a lot of progressive metal, djent and math metal. Stuff that is so technical it’s almost unlistenable. Having to marry that to the pop idea in a way that works the two together. So I love Periphery, TesseracT, Northlane, and I adore 12 Foot Ninja. Those sort of bands, the more technical and aggressive the better.

Thank you that is the answer that I wanted to hear. The moment I saw the EP cover I thought Periphery!

Eddie: Yes it is very Periphery-esque. I don’t think that was deliberate even though we adore them. Jack and I are like two peas in a pod. We love TesseracT and Periphery. It’s kind of us writing the crackhead side and then Dan and I trying to write the pop side.  Dan comes in and really gives it that epic pop sensibility. The more epic tracks you hear it’s definitely a lot of Dan at play with the beautiful melodies. Tracks like Killed A Man and Better Unseen that are more like what the hell is going on, they are the ones that I have had more to do with. It gives a real eclectic sound. All the tracks are vastly different. Every song is a complete new experience and quite frankly we never know what we are going to write.

Dan: Yeah we have no idea. It’s like I’ve got this sick ass in your face riff and I’ll be well I came up with this nice soft melody, let’s make a baby and put them together!!

Eddie: Or I’ll be playing a riff and think this needs more sitar or oboe or something bizarre. It’s just indiscriminately throwing in elements that we enjoy. We don’t care if we are breaking new ground or reinventing or redefining something. If it makes us smile then that’s good enough for us. A good thing about Chris to was that he did things that we would never have even thought of.

Dan: All these little tricks that he has accumulated over the years of being an engineer and its really why it is so smart to go with someone who has that much experience. You can try and be a martyr about it, we could have does it all ourselves at home, but I have no doubt the result would not have been as spectacular.

Tell me a little bit about all the songs on the EP

Dan: The first song Downpour was written before I joined the band.

Eddie: Downpour was written quite a long time ago. I reckon I would have been about 14 when I wrote it. It was when I first had the ability to drop tune guitars and that changed a lot for me, listening to 12 Foot Ninja and Periphery and realising that you could go lower. The lyrics are all about its kind of a bit like Murphy’s Law that when it rains it pours. I ignored all the warnings. As soon as you ignore one problem all the problems suddenly happen at once. Its not that you get a nice even distribution of problems its that it feels like everything piles up at once. Obviously, I used the sitar and middle eastern elements along with some synth in the verse that was added last minute. This song has evolved so much its crazy.

Next song is Bound. That song is quite interesting too. Bound came into existence at a point in time when we didn’t have a singer. So that song was optimised for me to be able to sing it on my own hence the verse is singing with no guitar under it.  It was designed so that I could play and sing live at the same time. It makes it really unique in that it is kind of industrial, we had to rely on dub-step and backing track elements to stabilise the live show. It ended up being a favourite of a lot of people.

Dan: Then I came along!

Eddie: Haha yep you ruined everything! The lyrics to that one are around being in a relationship where one person is more aggressive and controlling that the other. How your are always tossing up saying something or leaving. How you feel physically and emotionally bound. It’s about breaking free from that.

Sorry if I’m waffling I’m trying to keep this concise.

I’m a firm believer in waffling!!! That’s how most of my interviews go. Waffling and tangents!!!!

Dan: We’re experts at waffling! 

Eddie: Good we see eye to eye.

Dan: Better Unseen is next. It was the second to last song we wrote for the EP and I felt we needed an absolute belter. One that makes you want to punch something.

Eddie: Yeah and I knew exactly what Dan meant at the time. Jack and I had been listening to a lot of power metal and if I’m perfectly frank we had been laughing about it in an endearing way, remembering the old school metal. I decided I was going to write the most power metal riff ever! 220 bpm is what we are going to do, and I tracked this super full on riff that has guitar harmonies. I don’t think I’ve ever been so inspired. When Dan came in he was so stoked, and we went straight to writing it.

Dan:  We deliberately tried to make it a juxtaposition between super aggressive old school and then really new school funk and djent.

Eddie: And you have that melodic chorus. The song itself is about letting your rage get the better of you. When you have that outburst and show your ugly side and people never see you the same again.

Dan: Its that snapping feeling once you’ve been pushed to far. And you’ve finally let it all out.

Eddie: Is that one moment of rage really worth potentially losing someone. It’s about kind of having a mastery over yourself.

I’m waffling so hard (laughs)

Waffle away because that seems to be when I get the best content!!

Eddie: Oh you want me to waffle…. You shouldn’t have said that (Laughs)

Dan: I have to get to work in the morning and I do need to sleep!!!

Eddie: Kill the Man was really interesting. That mostly came to me because the drummer and I were playing around with this synthy bouncy thing that you hear in the intro. We came up with this bouncy riff. After a few days I though how cool would it be to write a song about murder or something really dark but talk about it in such a trivial sense like ‘Oh no what have I done’ or ‘Oh he’s scratched his car’ I wanted to sing that in a really trivial sense. It’s kind of a sarcastic or humorous take on a similar thing to Better Unseen, keeping your rage under control. How one action can affect the rest of your life. That’s actually the overall theme of Prophecy, it’s about taking control of the present to manifest your own future.

Eddie: To the single Hollow; this one was the biggest pain in the ass ever. It really didn’t come together at all. It was jolty.

Dan: It was very hollow

Haha nice pun!!

Eddie: It was very jolty and none of the bits fitted together. It sounded really good until we played it live and the switching between the intricate bits sounded shithouse. It was really horrible. We were like how are we going to save this song. We gigged it once and it sounded okay, it definitely wasn’t a stand out song. It just had this kind of weird appeal to it, this disjointedness that we decided we were going to put it on the EP. There was a heap of stuff we added literally right before we sent it off the Chris. When it came back it just gelled together, and it became a real favourite of fans. I think its because its so quintessential Ironstone, like they have no idea what they are doing! Lyrically this song and Origin are where Dan had the biggest impact. Dan and I talked about this a lot and we really wanted to get something that was about ecology and the greater idea of the present affecting the future without it sounding like a lecture. We really wanted to say it in a different way so in the chorus probably one of the lines that stand out for everyone is “Feel free to gorge upon the bounty but it’s a lot to swallow’. It’s that thing of go on, do it, buy it don’t worry about it you won’t be here in the future. It makes you stop and reverse analysis and think oh my god. I was only 17 when I wrote this, and we thought that fans might not take it so well if we wrote it from the other perspective. I think it’s a beautiful ode to that and an ode to our generation who at some point are going to have to pick up the responsibility for the mess.

The next song Origin, once again a really big contribution from Dan. It’s very similar to Hollow in a lot of ways. Its kind of got that soft and heavy sound about it. As the chorus says, ‘being seduced by the great unknown’. Going off and thinking you want to explore the world but always understanding that at some point you will always come back home. It’s really about home, it’s a hard song to describe, that melancholy and complicated feeling that you can’t really describe unless you go somewhere for an extended period of time. It can be taken as trying to find your origin too by heading out into the world.

Dan: I’ve always felt that musicians would feel this song too. When you’re on a long tour, that pull to be back home.

Eddie: A lot of people have said this is the most emotional song for them. It came about organically because we were talking about something very genuine. I think that’s the beautiful thing about Ironstone. We feel no requirement to shoehorn our songs into any specific vibe or feeling.  We are really pleased that we ended up with Origin as our ending track. We wanted to finish Prophecy on a real reflective, philosophical note. It’s a bittersweet note that I think will leave people wondering about what the next chapter of Ironstone will be.

Any new material being written?

Dan: Yes we have still been writing

Eddie: We’ve been writing quite a lot. The writing process is so weird. The way it works is that I write all the music. Only recently someone pointed out that there is a distinct difference if Dan is with me when I write. Dan seems to steer me in a beautiful melodic way if he is with me while I am writing. When I do it without Dan’s direction it ends up going in a strange sort of musical direction. We have 4 tracks now that are very solid, better than what is on Prophecy. I think the more we are writing the more our character as a band is coming out. The songs are becoming more particular and we are becoming more progressive.

What other bands have you guys played with?

Eddie: Trigger who are another band from Melbourne. They are really great guys and have been really supportive of us. The metalcore scene is really strong in Melbourne. It’s a bit weird because we feel like we don’t quite fit in with the progressive bands and we also don’t have that raw screaming aggression which is the core of metalcore. So we are kind of in limbo between two genres. It’s hard in these teething years to find where we fit exactly.

I think the best show was when we got to play with Rhapsody at Max Watts they are an Italian act who were touring Australia.  

Dan: That was a big gig. I think there were nine bands playing.

Eddie: To say we played with Rhapsody is probably a little bit facetious. We were on a lot earlier than they were. We were long gone before they played because we legally weren’t allowed in there at that time.

You were on the same bill!

Dan: We were on the poster and we got to meet them. They were really nice blokes. We also picked up a lot of fans from that show.

You guys have nearly 5k followers on Facebook

Dan: We have a lot of fans in Bendigo

Eddie: Our fans are legends. And even when you consider that our family and friends like the page that still leaves thousands of people we don’t know. It’s not insignificant. The first 5k is probably more significant then the next 5k. It’s something we are really proud of. The engagement you have with your fans on social media is really important too.

Dan: Once we can start playing shows again hopefully we can build on that number.

Thanks for that guys you have waffled well!!

Dan: Yeah that’s what we are better know for, not our music!
Eddie: We’re not known for out concise nature.

Dan: Ironstone the Wafflers!!

Eddie: Wafflestone!

That’s gold.

Ironstone, for their age, have so much potential and I can’t wait to see what they continue to deliver.

Their new single ‘Hollow’ is below along with links to their socials.

https://www.facebook.com/ironstone.official

https://www.instagram.com/ironstone.band/

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