"You Never Know What People Are Gonna Think. You Don’t Know If They’ll Love It Or Hate It": Peasant To A King - Senatus EP [Interview + Review/Stream]
Since the recent release of their EP Senatus, Ireland’s Peasant To A King have been gaining some nods within the established music circles, giving a thumbs up to the EP and the casual listener reviews have been no different. With both feet on the ground, running into an already fast paced 2019, the band took a moment to talk with us followed by a review of Senatus.
MHW: Thanks for taking the time to talk with us. Congratulations on the recent release of Senatus! How are things moving since the release?
(James) Great! We've received nothing but positive reviews. A YouTube channel with 4k subs uploaded our EP in full which really helped expand our reach across Russia, Ukraine, even Japan and Sweden. That's insane!
(Ben) Things have been moving smoothly. We’ve been setting up gigs for the year and have entered some festivals as well. It was such a great help having this EP out there so we can show people what we are and let them know there is so much more to come.
(Stephen) Everything has been going brilliantly so far! Happy out! We like to keep things moving, as soon as the E.P was finished we began booking gigs for 2019 and writing more music, we hate having idle hands so we’re always working on the next thing.
(Lee) The funny thing is, when you bring something out, you never know what people are gonna think. You don’t know if they’ll love it or hate it. Luckily we’ve been hearing great things. The feedback has been incredible yet so far!
(Evan) People have received the EP very well. We’ve heard nothing but good things about it which is sick! We put our heart and souls into our music and when people turn around and compliment us on it it's always a great feeling! As the lads have said, we’ve a lot of gigs already lined up for 2019 so its onward and upwards from here.
MHW: For those that may not know much about PTAK, Tell us a little about yourselves…
(James) I play guitar in PTAK. I'm from Athlone, Ireland. My influences are honesty all over the place, I listen to a lot of metalcore and djent so my writing would be similar to a mix of Slipknot, Thy Art is Murder and Chelsea Grin, with some elements of 2010 era BMTH. I formed the band in or around 2016, but we didn't get a full and solid lineup until 2017 after finding Evan to play drums for us.
(Ben) I was born in England but have spent most of my life living around Ireland. My first major metal music influence was Kevin Sherwood, a sound engineer who works at Treyarch. I started listening to the songs he was making for their games. I started getting into my local scene when I moved to Australia in 2013. I surrounded myself with bands such as Promethean(Aus), Thy Art is Murder, A Night in Texas, Royal Blood, Stepson and She Cries Wolf. Since then, I have been delving deeper and deeper into the culture and the community. I had started practicing vocals when I was 14 and I was keen to join a band since I moved back to Ireland in 2017. James sent me a message over Facebook, asking if I was interested in joining his band. I was. And here we are.
(Stephen) I’m from a little town Called Athenry in Co. Galway. Evan and I first met once when i was about 11 and he was 13, we didn’t meet again until I was about 16, but he’s been one of my closest friends since then so when he mentioned his band was looking for someone to play lead guitar in his band i jumped at the opportunity. I went to a rehearsal with them and that was that. My main influences are pretty varied, Jack White , John 5, Josh Travis, Dimebag and Hendrix to name a few. I’m constantly pushing myself to learn more and grow more as a musician and i honestly don’t think i’ll ever be satisfied because as soon as that happens I’ll stop improving and I just can’t have that!
(Lee) I’ve been doing this around 10 or so years now. I played drums since I was about 14 and was actual one of the original drummers for the band. What a lot of people don’t know is that me & James are actually 2nd cousins...or something. There’s a relative in there somewhere. I switched over to bass about 2 years ago. I bought a bass a few years ago that kind of just sat in the corner with no use that I eventually decided to learn how to play and then It was until I James asked me do I want to play bass instead and then when Evan joined, that’s when things really started moving forward.
(Evan) Music has always been number 1 for me. As i kid i was listening to Guns n’ Roses, Billy Talent, Rage Against The Machine and the likes. I was 9 when i first stumbled across Slipknot and I’ve never looked back. As the years went by, i started to understand the whole genre labeling and stumbled across Deathcore and Metalcore; Bring me the Horizon, Architects and A Day to Remember were some of the bands that really drew me in! I started playing Drums in 2016, Punk drumming was really where my heart was at in the beginning. I made a few drum covers for YouTube and that was how James found me. I guess the rest is history and the future is our playground. Excited to see where this band can go!
MHW: What type of inspiration or experiences went into Senatus as far as songwriting and lyricism?
(James) Well, the title and its meaning was all Ben's idea. SENATUS, in this sense, is Latin for Senate, being a metaphor for all those different voices in your head telling you different things and how you should react. So a lot of the EP is focused on that, “Ashes” and “Vain” are about different things. “Ashes” is a song Ben and I sat down and wrote after something happened to me, so when you listen to the lyrics you can kinda guess what that something is. As for “Vain”, it's just a fat punch in the Catholic Church's jaw, a big “fuck you” to all the rapists, defilers and abusers. In Ireland, there's a lot of corruption in the Catholic Church. “Vain” mainly focuses on the time people found out about the 800 dead infants in a septic tank. It was a really fucked up time.
(Ben) It was Stephen’s idea to write “Vain”. He wrote the first draft and then I rewrote it until we went to studio and it was finalized. I finalize all lyrics and vocal patterns in studio. The song is influenced by the crimes against humanity by the Catholic church. “Ashes”, James and I wrote the first draft over the phone after something happened to him. Like most of my writing, though, I like to leave the who, what, where and how open to interpretation, so that it may appeal to whatever situation you are in. “Requiem” and “Ashes” are similar in that sense. Although “Ashes” is a more empowering song, holding less doubts and more self confidence. “I, Unsatisfied”, I wrote about one’s mentality and all the voices in one’s head. I use the metaphor “senatus in my mind, I unsatisfied” to convey that theory. Senatus, meaning “senate’ in Latin, refers to all the different voices and opinions in your mind. “I, Unsatisfied” refers to your state of being and how you feel within yourself. “Speak of the Devil”, is my favorite song out of all our songs. I love to write fiction and this song gave me a chance to write a fictional story of how women have been oppressed through the ages. On one side it is about how God betrayed Lucifer and cast her down to the earth, and after spending a millennia in Hell, she has broken free and seeks closure and change. One the other side, it is the story of how the patriarchy have dominated the world and women have been mistreated and that they are sick and tired of being treated like shit, so they must rise up and face the issue head on. Together.
(Stephen) Our music is all fueled by rage at a multitude of serious problems, oppression , sexual assault , etc. I personally don’t write lyrics unless its a topic I’m really passionate about. For example I’m extremely passionate about spreading the word about what actually happened to those children, it was swept under the rug for so long and i felt that needed to be addressed, So i wrote the first draft for “Vain”. I took it to Ben and from there we worked on and finalized the lyrics in the studio. Ben honestly made that song into more than i could’ve ever hoped both lyrically and vocally, and with everyone else’s contributions it just became a beautiful noise monster which i hope will always be part of this band.
(Lee) Despite being the (very) old one in band, I’ve probably the least experience when it comes to writing music. This is the first real metal band I’ve been in and it’s been nothing but fun. So to see these guys with this much fire in them being able to write stuff this incredible is so inspiring for me. I’m just here to learn from them and help out when I can. To me, this is all Ben’s voice, and i’m just here trying to put some music behind it.
(Evan) My writing comes from the heart. My inspiration includes Dan Searle of Architects and of course the animal that is Travis Barker, but when my drumming is my drumming. I wanted to walk out of the studio after finishing Senatus with an EP I can be proud to say I played drums on, and i did just that!
MHW: What is the metal scene like in Ireland? What are some other locally popular underground acts?
(James) In Athlone there's no scene at all, but we always play in Dublin. In Dublin the scene is pumping. There's so many great bands all across Ireland that come and play in Dublin, This Place Hell is one of the best around I reckon. Mad energy and (filth)y riffs.
(Ben) The scene seems a bit lost at times. It is still here but, to me, it feels like it is scattered. There are tons of fans out there and tons of great bands. But something just feels off. It’s not as strong as England, Scotland, Europe, America or Australia. It’s sad. I want to change that. A local band that I really like are Greyface. They have such a powerful vibe when they perform. Their presence is heart sinking, but in a good way. They have a many different songs with different sounds.
(Stephen) In my honest opinion it’s pretty hit and miss. The crowd could be 40 or 200. It varies a good bit . There's still some amazing bands here all the same (Organ Blender, More Than Machines) they just don't get the recognition they deserve. I wish the scene was a bit bigger and more prominent, but it is what it is. One thing's for sure, whatever happens we don’t plan on leaving the scene here the same way we found it.
(Lee) Like James said, there’s no real scene in Athlone for it. We’re both born and raised here. Despite knowing a lot of people here who listen to metal, not a lot of people actually play it.I would love to build a name with the band and be able to bring some if it back here. I guess there’s a certain trope that comes along with small town. Everybody just wants cover bands in bars that only play the same 6 songs. Don’t get me wrong. It all has its place. I just wanna do more, you know?
(Evan) Over on the west coast here in Galway there’s next to no metal scene. You’ve a few heavy hitters like ILENKUS and Black Shuck, it’s just a shame its so hard to get your name out there. Dublin can be very hit and miss, as Stephen said, the crowd can we great or it’s like playing in a morgue. You really never know until the doors are open.
MHW: Have you played any shows with other seasoned bands passing through? If so do you try to learn from working with these artists?
(James) We've had the privilege of opening for I Set My Friends On Fire to kick off their European tour. That was an incredible night, one I'll never forget. We've also played the Academy which is a great venue in Dublin, the same venue bands like Motionless in White and Beartooth have played. Pain in Vain headlined that show, their vocalist, Mikey, is the promoter for every show we play, so thank you Mikey xx.
(Ben) We’ve played with veterans, I Set My Friends on Fire. They have been in the scene (Globally) for years. We got to play alongside Pain in Vain at the Academy, which was phenomenal.
(Stephen) Playing with I Set My Friends On Fire was a memorable one
(Lee) Honestly every show I go into, I always try and take something away from the other bands. I love checking them out and learning from them whether they’re just starting out or have been doing this for a while. Everybody can bring something new. The guys from Razor Sharp Death Blizzard, especially Jamie, are definitely people I would want to work with again.
(Evan) As the lads all mentioned, we had the honor of kicking off I Set My Friends on Fire’s European tour. I cannot put into words how that made us feel, it was honestly just surreal.
MHW: With 2018 now behind us, what is something you have taken from the past year that you plan on using going forward?
(James) Definitely to play more shows, after seeing how much the audience enjoys our performances, why not print some merch, spread the word of PTAK.
(Ben) To play more shows, spread our name across the globe and just get ourselves out there.
(Stephen) Keeping up the momentum we’ve built up , we really don’t want to stop moving and honestly we’ll travel across the world to see a pit in front of our stage.
(Lee) Starting it all, I think we just had to head straight in, play every show we were offered and not say no. With the people we have now and the people we’ve met it’s been outstanding. I think we’ve built a good little backing behind us with what we’ve done but it hasn’t been without struggle. And I just wanna keep going.
(Evan) We need to come out of 2018 swinging! We’ve already multiple gigs lined up, including the official launch of Senatus, and we don't plan to stop the gigs any time soon! We’re really just focused on getting our name outside of Ireland.
MHW: What type of plans do you have going into 2019?
(James) We plan on getting a shipment of physical copies of SENATUS, hopefully tour across Ireland and get ourselves out there more, cause chaos!
(Ben) Write more songs and cause mayhem at every venue we play.
(Stephen) getting the name out there, our gigs always have a very welcoming atmosphere, we treat every single person who comes to see us or buys our E.P or even just checks us out as a friend. We want to tour and meet people and basically just get our following as big as possible.
(Lee) Without a doubt hit all the places in Ireland we haven't hit yet. We're going to playing at Siege Of Limerick on April 21st which I'm really excited for because I've never gotten a chance to play or even visit before.
(Evan) Gig Gig Gig! We have physical copies of our EP in the works along with some merch too! We’ve also been talking about a possible mini tour too but as of now there's nothing set in stone.
MHW: You are headlining a music festival and can book any three other bands, past or present. Which bands would you want to share the stage with?
(Lee) (Laughs), well I'm the only one in the band who didn't grow up listening to as much metal as the other guys but I would love to play with Beartooth, Polyphia, and I've gotta give a shout out to one of my best friends bands, Chemical Sacrament. They're good guys. I'm always saying I'd love to play a show along them.
(Evan) I’m going to answer this from past experience of getting to see these bands live. Without a doubt; Polaris, their stage presence is huge! And Jamie Hails really knows how to get the crowd going!; Architects had to been another one, the emotion they can fill a room is next to none! And finally it has to be Beartooth. The riffs those guys throw down are insane and you cant go wrong with have Conor Denis as your backbone!
MHW: Thank you again for speaking with us! We wish you nothing but the best in any future adventures entering 2019! Anything else you would like to add?
(James) Thank you!
Dear readers: check us out, spread the word. Buy a shirt if you feel like being generous xx
(Stephen) thanks a mil guys!
(Lee) Thank you for being you, and giving us a chance!
(Evan) Thank you so much for this opportunity and i wish you the very best going into 2019.
Senatus starts out with a very short creepy piano intro sweeping into “Speak Of The Devil”, which kicks in like a punch in a face. The sound quality itself is very sonic. The Black Metal style riffs coming from Lee, Stephen, and James and the drums blasting from Evan with a furious double kick, blend well together giving a full blow of what the EP is going to sound like. Ben’s vocal range is phenomenal and you get that feeling of “metal possession” in his performance. “I, Unsatisfied” is very catchy and the change-ups flow nicely. The music and songwriting itself is just as crazy and sick as Ben’s vocals. A true representation of madness. “Ashes” is commonly discussed in the interview. The track showcases the versatility of Evan’s drumming as the styles change from hardcore based to a Deathcore breakdown. The rest of the band compliment this style nicely. “Vain” is another commonly discussed track and as a closing track, it leaves a great lasting impression with it’s Deathcore style and dark riffs and Ben’s vocal’s seemed the most controlled in this track. The EP goes out in a gradual fashion. By the end of it, I had to disagree, it was more like “I,Satisfied”.
Lee, James, and Stephen make a formidable force with their brutal assault style of riffs. There is some solo playing along with the riffs which adds a nice touch where it’s added. Josh Side Robinson of JSR Audio (Ireland), who mastered and recorded Senatus as well as the album artwork, did a great job capturing the sound and making it a striking, blow by blow effort that should be representative of PTAK’s sound and image. Except for one thing, which I will state below…
I heard this album when it first came out in December so I have listened to it off and on the past couple months. In revisiting it and catching up with the band with this interview, it was all a pleasant experience.
In listening to Senatus, my first thought was that it sounded great for a debut EP and the songwriting is very cohesive with today’s modern style of European Metal. Ben’s vocal’s, as stated, are very intense. This is a quality I love in a vocalist. The intensity and energy backing you up is supposed to flow through you and out your mouth. You get all that and more with Ben (along with one of the greatest mustaches in Metal today), but as great as his range is, it comes off a little scattered and uncontrolled at times. “Vain” shows what he can do when he does have a grip on it, but at the same time lacked the same intensity as the “Metal Possessed” vocalist on the other tracks. Finding that balance takes time and practice and if Ben keeps at it, he will blow down doors in the scene. To me, his true potential is still untapped, but we heard what he is capable of as well as the rest of PTAK. Looking at their recent live performances, it looks like Ben is already finding that stride.
I kind of felt the songwriting, much like Ben’s vocals, were a little scattered at certain points of the album. This is understandable given the band’s diverse influences, but it almost seemed like with Senatus, PTAK is still trying to find it’s stride which is very common with debut efforts. For those familiar with the band’s single from 2017, Senatus sounds nothing like it. Especially vocally. You still leave knowing these guys are going somewhere.
Another issue I had on this “fighter in training” of an album is that sometimes the processing was a little obvious. This is more of an audio engineer personal peeve than anything else as it doesn’t take away from the album. I personally would have polished the sound a little bit more for this style of metal and blend the effects a little bit better, but that’s just me and should in no way underrate Josh Side Robinson’s contributions in the explosive sound of the album.
All in all, Senatus is a pleasurable listen and it was a great pleasure getting to know the band. Go to their Bandcamp and purchase it and support Peasant To A King directly!