One of my favourite bands right now is the Glaswegian Old School Death machine BrainBath. The lads very kindly took some time out to speak to me about their new EP, horror films, crazy live shows and the explosive Scottish DM scene. As well as the reasons why you shouldn’t overlook Scotland! Enjoy! (Marksson)
Hails to the mighty BrainBath. How is everything up in sunny Scotland today?
Kendo: Doing well, been on my travels a lot recently… so it’s good to get home where I can talk normally (as I’m too Scottish apparently), plus get to enjoy small things you cant get elsewhere like a good roll and square sausage and a bottle of Bucky!
Kwondo: Fucking Pish, I’m working too much, hahahaha – Ach, keeping the head down running my business which is a kennels that I do with my wife as the day job which can be some graft, although it does allow me to listen to an obscene amount of metal!
Without trying to blow smoke up your arses, the debut EP you dropped earlier this year is an outright banger. What are your own thoughts on it now that a few months have elapsed?
Kendo: Absolutely blown away with the response, it’s all completely unexpected! Due to lockdown’s effecting studios opening and closing and not being able to record when we would’ve wanted. We were almost kind of accidental old-school in the way it panned out, by playing gigs before recording any music tail end of 2021… and then eventually recording and releasing the EP April 2022. The gigs helped us build up a little bit of a following, although we weren’t expecting anything like we did when the EP released. Blows our mind that we managed to sell out of our Blood Red vinyl pre-orders with orders from all around the world and additionally the support for our shows has been insane, with most of them being sold out bills! We’re so fortunate and really grateful to everyone who picks up a copy, buys merch or comes to a show! Genuinely still pinch ourselves, and so pleased people enjoy the EP.
Kwondo: Personally, there’s a lot of things when I hear it back that I could have maybe done better, but in the way it was recorded basically being straight up mic’d with all the instruments and with one takes in the studio etc. pure DIY or DIE – I can honestly say it’s the best experience of making a record I’ve ever done. Definitely things we’ve learned and we may do different on the next one, but what a brilliant experience we had and just so chuffed folk like it
How about external feedback? What kind of comments are you getting from outside the band about the EP?
Kendo: Well, we’re just five mad alchy metal punks from the Lanarkshire and Greater Glasgow area of Scotland and if we’re honest, we wrote the music for ourselves with no expectations – So to see so many comments, listens, questions and reviews come in from multiple countries and support from a wide range of different bands absolutely blows our mind. I get messages all the time with people saying they bang their head to ‘Stripped Clean’, or that they yell the end chorus to ‘Stench of Burning Human Flesh’… It makes what you do so rewarding, we never expected our first release would have such a wide reach!
Kwondo: The response has been sensational and it’s took as all by surprise! It’s not just the amazing feedback but people, bands and labels being so supportive of what we’re doing, they love our brand of old-school and 80’s inspired death metal that’s came from Scotland. Audiences have really enjoyed our unique style, there’s also YouTube channels such as ‘Marc G with a C’ or ‘Death Doom Metal Head’ and zines that review metal that have included us in their favourite releases or put us together with some major acts as music to check out, and it is something I don’t think any of us would have thought would have ever happened.
You play an old school death metal sound. What kind of influences were you channelling into the EP?
Kendo: I feel the influences within the band members are what has helped us discover our sound… Traditionally, myself, the drummer Gillen (Blooter) and Barrett were probably most used to playing more black, first wave or war metal. Kenny (Warmaster Kwondo) was in a thrash band for years, and Blacky (Lobotomizer) mainly death and thrash fan who was new to rehearsing and playing music at gigs or recording. So we had no real basis or specific band we were trying to sound like. Just all jammed out riffs or rhythms and played along with lyrics and what came out, came out. Listening back or talking after the jams, we noticed it had that mid-80’s extreme metal sound where it was blurred whether it was Death, Black, Thrash, Punk, etc. and we just continued in that vein.
Kwondo: I think the thing about ourselves that the reviews and people have picked up on, is BrainBath and the bands from Scotland seem to have our own sound. Of course there’s bits of our favourite OSDM bands that we get compared to with a lot of nods to Autopsy, Impetigo, Hellhammer, Repulsion, Obituary, even Discharge etc. – But what’s been to our surprise, is that whilst there’s references, most of the reviews have said they get the vibe of those bands, but that we don’t actually quite sound like them, or that we’re not a clone or trying to sound like anyone, we have our own sound and that’s just the biggest compliment you can get when making music…
Some of your recent live dates have looked unmissable. (Says the guy who missed them) Any interesting or funny stories from your recent shows?
Kwondo: In terms of the crazy side, Fuuuuuuck, where do we even start, haha… Our third ever gig at the ‘Flying Duck in Glasgow, with Slimelord, Rancid Cadaver and Penny Coffin where there isn’t a big stage it’s like a step at most, and the pits where lethal, looked like a Royal Rumble or MMA fight out there. Folk were going wild, so wild in fact, John McDade (singer of another Glasgow OSDM band, Embolism) flew into the drum kit mid set. We somehow managed to put the drums back together seamlessly and play on as if it was meant (still don’t know how that worked). The other belter was in Hartlepool, the power went down on one side of the stage and Blacky’s (Lobotomizer) amp went down and we couldn’t climb behind mid set to plug everything back in, so he just went straight out and crowd killed the pit whilst rest of the band completed the set much to both the surprise and pleasure of the crowd, Haha.
Kendo: Hands down my favourite gig is when we got to play with the mighty ‘Eternal Champion’ who me and the guys in band are big fans of. I believe it was Manorfest that had went wrong, cancelling too late for them to stop flights, so they were coming to the UK without any equipment. The great guys behind Damnation festival on short notice managed to get a tour sorted in cities around UK and we got asked if we would support them in Glasgow and if they could borrow some gear (they had guitars, but needed amps, drums, cabs etc. which we were happy to help out with). When the guys got to Glasgow, we wanted to show the world class hospitality Scottish people are renowned for, so we made sure there was plenty of Buckfast and lets just say something to smoke on the night… To the point where there’s videos of the guys, who had never tried the stuff downing it on stage and the audience loving it chanting BUCKY, BUCKY! haha. On paper, I don’t think anyone would put Epic Heavy Metal and Death Metal together, but the venue was packed, the audience was loving the free booze flowing from the stage and it was just an incredible vibe. I mean EC have members like Arthur Rizk who’s a Grammy winner and played in other big acts like ‘Power Trip’, so to become friends with these guys, see them jump about to our songs, share beers, food, and have such a brilliant show and great memories is just amazing for a new band such as ours.
I’m loving the Death Metal coming out of Scotland right now. Which bands local to you would recommend to our readers?
Kendo: Well with the focus on Scotland and having mentioned the New Wave of Scottish Death Metal, here’s some of the excellent bands that make it up… Firstly, ‘Coffin Mulch’, who’s debut EP was on many favourite 2021 metals list with an HM-2″ chainsaw sound and killer groove. The pummelling ‘Rancid Cadaver’ who are just crushing live. if you want laser precision 200bpm drums and stylish rhythms and leads, look no further than ‘Penny Coffin’… on top of these guys, here’s a list of Scottish bands tearing up the scene with recent killer records or performances: Chestcrush, Tymvos, Embolism, Putrid Fate, Sacrificial Burial, Rend Them Asunder, Tempered, Night Fighter, Caustic Phlegm, Tyrannus, plus more established acts who have been going a while that are a massive support to ourselves and the overall scene in Scotland, like Party Cannon and Scordatura… So yeah, not bad for place that supposedly doesn’t have a scene or any bands!
Kwondo: I’ll cover the the wider bands who have been very supportive of us and are just top bands to see right now, the likes of Coffin Rot, Seven Doors, Blood Rage (who all share members), ‘Slimelord’ & ‘Cryptic Shift’ again sharing members who are great guys, ‘Burial Rot’ with a brilliant putrid sound, plus the brilliant dark ‘Vacuous’ from London. From the north east closer to us, we can’t leave out our boys from ‘Live Burial’, ‘Vulgar Dissection’ & ‘Vacivus’. Then we’re fortunate to have great pals like Dave Ingram from Benediction who’s like death metal royalty that’s really championed us from day one!.. Also a nod to Liam from ‘Consecration’ who has a great band, but also does a great job shouting up the UK bands on YouTube… it’s a great time for underground metal in UK!
What would you say has contributed to the explosion of all the high quality Death Metal bands shooting up in Scotland right now?
Kendo: Two things I feel has driven it, obviously the lockdown has effected everyone’s lives where they couldn’t leave their homes and it meant for guys that loved live music or gigs, if they wanted the next best thing was to create and write or be creative with their instruments at home… But I believe the second factor which has resulted in a positive out of a negative situation, is bands and tours often miss Scotland. When big Metal acts come to the UK for a tour, Scotland can quite often get missed. Sometimes there’s the odd Glasgow or Edinburgh date, but a lot of the times – people often have to travel to a Newcastle, Leeds, Manchester or even further south for bands or metal tours (we know that can happen in England too where it’s just a London date). I think Scottish people have actually got fed up of being dismissed or treated like Scotland doesn’t have a metal scene or any bands, and that’s grew into people picking up their instruments and creating the music they want to see and hear. So yes, that’s what has birthed if you like the ‘New Wave of Scottish Death Metal’ and with gigs being packed and a real appetite for that music here, Glasgow and Scotland really is the place to be right now for underground Death Metal!
Kwondo: I think there really is a massive appetite for old school metal here in Scotland… Not just Death Metal, but Black, Speed, Thrash, etc. – If it’s got that almost 80’s early 90’s metal sound, Scotland really has it covered in terms of the bands that are up here just now, which is brining in the people to gigs, not even from just Scotland anymore, people actually coming up here and mainly it comes down to the audiences in the underground who really want an older school style of metal rather than the contemporary or what you would perhaps call modern or core! Although yes, Scottish folk want old school metal, and bands have switched on to it, and we’re starting to notice people and bands coming north of the border to experience it!
Getting back to BrainBath, how did you all come together to form the band? How did you choose the name? Was old school Death Metal always going to be your sound?
Kwondo: I’ll let Kendo answer that one as it’s unorthodox, maybe a bit long winded, but it has to be told and gives the reason why we started.
Kendo: The band primarily kicked off around end of summer 2020 during lockdown. At that time in Scotland (and I’m sure pretty much the entire world) it was not permitted to go to someone else’s house, although certain businesses were allowed to operate, one of those being a studio. So originally, it was a way to see our friends via lockdown in a legal way… We grabbed our instruments, a bag of cans and met up in the studio/rehearsal space – there was no real plan to be Death Metal or any style really, like I mentioned earlier, just jam, have a good laugh and drink some tins. In terms of members, or who was involved – it originally started out with myself on guitar, Kenny (Warmaster Kwondo) on vocals, Blacky (Lobotomizer) on 2nd guitar and David McLennan of ‘Coffin Mulch’ (drums).
We met up in a small drum rehearsal space called the DrumpadML in our home town Wishaw, Lanarkshire and started jamming. Kenny put a snippet of what we were doing via video on Facebook and the response was mad! People we didn’t even know asking if we were a band, or if we would be doing CD’s, shirts, etc. – we were stunned as it literally was just pals jamming ideas!? From that video, our good pal Sean Barrett of ‘Nyctopia’ seen what we were up to and wanted to join in with playing and drinking cans, so joined up on bass and that was the line-up originally.
Dave was unfortunately unable to continue on drums, so our other good friend Sean Gillen (Blooter) came in on drums and that’s been the line up since: Vocals: Warmaster Kwondo, Guitar: Kendo, Guitar 2: Lobotomizer, Bass: Barrett & Drums: Blooter.
Kwondo: In terms of how we got our band name. I’m sure you’re aware of the hobby where people urban explore. Well people were exploring this old hospital/mental institute which was abandoned in late 90’s or early 2000’s. I think they lost funding and people just didn’t go back to work and the building was shut (something like that). So there was loads of equipment, furniture and items that have been left. When looking in the rooms of the basement, they noticed an old bathtub with a tarp on top. Thinking nothing of it, they pulled it off and there was this bathtub absolutely full to the rim of human brains! Blacky was messing about with his phone showing us pictures from Reddit or similar and there it was, this picture of brains in a bath. when we discovered the above story and the more we thought about the bodies or people that have since been buried and their brain was left in a bath somewhere, the more mad and morbid it got – I mean, there’s no exactly name tags on these things, who knows who these brains belong to or why they were stock piling them? Mad, eh?.. So that was that, band was called BrainBath – still have the picture if you want to see it! haha (*Luke has messaged the band for the picture haha)
The horror film influence is obvious from your music. Which classic horror flicks have contributed to the BrainBath perversion we hear today?
Kendo: Just like the previous question, I’ll pass it on and let Kwondo answer that as he is the real horror aficionado!
Kwondo: I got into horror though grindhouse films old kung fu films then into old school Italian horror and 80s obscure slashers. Stuff like creeping zombie flesh, Body Melt, The Stuff even cross over things like Shaw brothers and Hammer Horror co-productions like Legend of the seven golden Vampires or Shaw Brothers kung fu serial killer Human Lanterns. There is a wide range out there beyond the normal fare of jump scares and remakes just got to look for it (chances are I probably already own it though, haha)… Most of the Kung Fu movies were shown as double bills that came with a horror movie, I seen my first horror movie which was Return of the Living dead, and the rest is history, I genuinely couldn’t put a number on it although between video and DVD I probably own over 400+ movies so the influences are probably more subconscious than deliberate, just comes out me!
That’s all we have space for. Thanks for answering my questions. I’ll leave the final words to you.
Kendo: Just a big thankyou for taking the time to speak with us, we’ve had a blast answering the questions… Got some killer shows playing with outstanding acts around UK for remainder of 2022, then focus will turn to writing the full length which we’ve had many questions and requests about, so if you haven’t already – Give us a follow on BrainBath Facebook, Instagram and Bandcamp for all the latest updates, and we hope to catch you at a show soon… KEEP IT MACHO!