Among the hardcore and thrash releases I got really excited about last year, there was IRON REAGAN‘s neck-breaking and 100% fun-infused “The Tyranny Of Will”. Newly signed on Philly-based powerhouse Relapse Records, they are yet no rookies in the heavy music scene, with members of Municipal Waste, Cannabis Corpse and Darkest Hour in its ranks. Clocking at only 33 minutes for 25 tracks, “TTOW” sure is a “fuck you, let’s kick it faster” statement, and the live experience we had on this sunny Sunday morning at Hellfest was even more ass-kicking. So, I met IR’s bassist Rob Skotis after their set on the main stage to know what these cheeky fellas have been up to lately… And it’s nothing but fun. (PHOTOS except cover: Gaël Mathieu)
I’m going to start this interview with a silly question from a random dude named James Hetfield: « how does it feel to be alive ? »
Rob Skotis (bass): (laughs) Actually it feels awesome right now! I’m in Europe playing these festivals, and it’s cool to see that people are actually enjoying our presence over here, since we’ve never been here before. It just shows that our hard work in the States turns out to be worth it, so it feels great.
To you, is the feeling different between the band’s reception in the US and here in Europe?
Rob: I feel like that people in America take our music as more punk and hardcore, and here they consider it more thrash metal. We don’t cross it with hardcore that much, and I like to play here a little more, people are more receptive. They’re more open-minded, and they love rock music a lot more.
Your bio on the Relapse website presents you as a crossover thrash band. What are the elements that influence that crossover?
Rob: All of us have super wide writing influences. That goes from noise, to thrash, to punk and rock’n’roll. Personally, one of my biggest influences, I was given three tapes when I was like four: one was Masters Of Reality, Testament’s « Practice What You Preach » and then I got Metallica’s « Master Of Puppets ».
It’s like you were born in the pit already.
Rob: (laughs) Yeah, I was born in the pit and there was no turning back after that! There’s a lot of punk rock influences too from the later years, like Discharge and all that.
So what’s the less metal artist or album you’re listening to at the moment?
Rob: I’ve been listening to a lot of Return To Forever, some jazz fusion with Stanley Clarke and Chick Corea in it. Also a lot of Magma, noisy rock stuff. It’s kinda cool to look outside your window and listen to some weird noise, gotta keep your vibe rollin’…
On the new album « The Tyranny Of Will », you have a song called « Bored To Death ». So, what bores you to the utmost point? Doing interviews, maybe?
Rob: (laughs) Actually doing interviews is not the most boring thing ever. The only time I’m bored on tour is when I don’t have a book to read, or my cell phone or iPad has died. There’s like nothing and then you’re just staring… But at least you can meditate or something. In the end, there’s no reason to be bored. If you’re bored, then you’re not doing anything and that’s your fault!
Speaking of, what’s the vibe like in the tourbus?
Rob: 100% positive, and it’s awesome. I guess that’s why we continue to tour so much in the States. Everyone has so much fun with each other it’s crazy! Honestly, never in the 15 years that I’ve been playing music, I’ve been in a band that got along this well. It’s just pure positivity all the time.
That’s great, and I think that’s a thing you really convey to the people when on stage.
Rob: We just want to have fun, hey!
So IRON REAGAN is now signed on Relapse. That’s huge, man.
Rob: That was a really big deal for me, yeah. I grew up listening to a lot of Relapse bands, and it’s funny because growing in Richmond too, a lot of my friends were getting signed on the label. I love everyone that works there, they’re so nice and supportive of us.
Who got in touch first?
Rob: We’ve been talking with them because we’re all friends with all the dudes there. We played Denver Black Sky festival, and there was a lot of Relapse dudes there and they saw our concert. We were thinking of signing and then we worked out a contract.
That was quick, then!
Rob: Yeah, it just kind of happened. We even joked on it, you know!
So you got this awesome video for « Miserable Failure », directed by the even more awesome Whitey McConnaughy. That’s a fucking insane vid.
Rob: It’s cool as shit, man. Three days of filming, he had everything lined up and we rocked it out. It was tight. A lot of the shots were improv with a few guest attendance, but most of the people were just staying public, like in the coffee shop.
That final scene in the grocery store is just too funny!
Rob: I was getting really excited about it, then I knocked Mark over and broke his guitar…
Something you want to say to the French peeps as a final word?
Rob: Thanks for coming out, being so supportive as we played at ten in the morning. Everyone came out and was fucking thrashing, circle-pitting… Last time we were here, much people come to the indie hardcore fest (Xtreme Fest in Albi), and rocked out for us. Hey man, what more can you ask for? Just 100% great support. Love you, guys.
Check out IRON REAGAN’s latest bomb “The Tyranny Of Will”
Find the band on Facebook
Last modified: 15 July 2019