A chat with Aussie bruisers Decimatus

It's not easy being a fresh new band on the Australian scene, but Decimatus is well on their way to making a real impact. MaF catches up with the group's bassist, Andrew Rondinelli, for a chat.

Fresh from whatever forge is responsible for creating bands of cast-iron, Decimatus is a group that looks set to create major waves in the Australian metal scene. With a crisp, aggressive sound, a penchant for hardline live shows and a debut album recently out, the timing seems right to jump on the Decimatus bandwagon. Metal as Fuck has a chat with bassist Andrew Rondinelli about the band, their ongoing tour with fellow Melbournians Envenomed and the booming Australian metal scene.

Hello Andrew, nice to speak with you. For the benefit of those readers who might not know you, can you give us a rundown on who you and your band are? “Well, I’m the bass player for Decimatus. My name’s Andrew. Decimatus is a 5 member group, we come from the Melbourne Northern Suburbs and play groove metal. The band just kind of happened; Decimatus just came out of nowhere. Our old drummer and Booga [guitarist] got together and wrote a few songs in their lounge room and before you knew it we all were jamming and it took off and grew week by week until the band was who it is today.”

Who would you say are the primary influences on Decimatus? “Each of us have our own separate influences that we bring in, Booga for example is really into John Petruci and Dream Theater and he loves to listen to Zakk Wylde and Angus Young. Collectively our major influences are bands like Testament and Pantera and Lamb of God. But some of the dudes love 80’s metal, and they bring a little bit of that in. It all moulds in to one, it’s hard to explain, but we all bring our individual tastes together.”

How about yourself as a bassist? “My biggest hero would have to be Geezer Butler. I love John [Campbell] from Lamb of God, Rob Trujillo, his stuff with Suicidal Tendencies is really cool. Also the guy from Mastodon, I forget his name…” Brent Hinds? No, that’s the guitarist… Troy! “Troy! Troy Sanders is a big influence and of course so is Rex Brown. I just love that fat tone and that driving power behind it, especially with Geezer because there’s only one guitar so the bass really has to be the driving force behind it. That’s how I see my role y’know?”

You also have an album out called Catalyst for Rage; can you tell us a bit about that? “Catalyst for Rage is a 10 track album of pure aggression. The album is non-stop and relentless from the first song to the last, it’s got some great hooks and killer grooves in there but also with those thrashy elements. It’s an aggressive record but also a bit intricate. We’ve recorded two EPs in the past and that was with Chris Thelmeco from Orpheus and we decided to go with Julian Renzo [to produce] this time because we wanted something a bit different, a different perspective. We had heard his past stuff and had a few beers with him. We were just on the same page. It was a very new experience for us, a big learning experience. Renzo has a great ear for melody, he’s just an all-around great guy and we learned so much from him. By the time the second album comes around, everything we’ve learned from him will result in an even bigger and better album. But as for Catalyst for Rage, I’m pretty damn proud of it and I wouldn’t change a thing".

You have just recently gone on tour with fellow Aussie band Envenomed. How has the tour gone so far? “We’ve done a couple of shows in Victoria and NSW, and they’ve gone very well. We’ve been good mates with Envenomed for quite a while, so to jump on tour with them was just like hanging out with your buds really. We’re actually just about to start the next leg. It feels really good to get out there and play the album for people; the response has been really overwhelming actually. To have hardly anyone know who you are at the start of a set and then have everyone rush the merch desk after you play, especially in Newcastle, is a very humbling feeling.”

You and Envenomed are actually hitting quite a few places together over the next few months. How did this double header come about? “What happened was that last year, we were arranging for our album launch to actually be in October, but our drummer ended up getting a hernia, so that pushed us back for about three months. We just couldn’t settle on a decent temporary lineup, so I asked the guys in Envenomed because I had known some of the members for quite some time and we had wanted to go on tour with them for a while now. Then one day their singer Anthony [Mavrikis] called us up and asked if we wanted to go on tour together. It was like we read each other’s minds and away we went. So Anthony and myself put the tour together, booked and organised everything, and we’ve become a pretty close bunch because of it.”

I saw the announcement video you did for your tour with Envenomed. It was pretty funny, where did the idea for that come from? “It came from us wanting to broaden the horizon when it came to promotion. We wanted to grab everyone’s attention, as opposed to having another facebook post telling everyone we’re going on tour. So, both bands put their heads together; we’d have these pizza meetings and just chuck ideas around. We also worked with Garry Kilby, who filmed it, edited it and helped with the script. It was a blast making it; it was something we’d never done before. Actually, we asked Yeti, who used to play in Frankenbok, to come along to do it because he’s an old fucking character. His lines that were in the video were actually improvised on the spot. It was great having him come up with that, not knowing what he was going to do or say and every time he would come out with something it would be completely hilarious.”

I was wondering if I could get your opinion on the Australian metal scene? “The Australian metal scene just seems to grow every single year. The bands that we used to play with and co-headline with are now going overseas and playing with even bigger bands. The Australian scene I personally think is one of the best in the world with the amount of talent we have here. If you look overseas to Europe of America, so many tours have Aussie bands on them. The scene is absolutely booming and the talent is just beyond.”

It really is. I’d say that every major city in Australia has managed to produce at least a handful of world class bands. “Yeah, in Sydney we played with this band called Daemon Pyre, we’d never heard of those guys before, never seen them, and they just managed to blow us completely the fuck away. We were just like ‘holy shit’, these kinds of bands should be playing Wacken or something. It’s just a shame that our population and our continent aren’t very touring friendly.”

That actually leads nicely into my next question, what are some of the big struggles you face as a small unsigned band? “The biggest problem I think we face is population and the distance between cities. In terms of our style of music, we can’t really be playing the RSL in Byron Bay, so unfortunately in Australia there’s only so many places you can play. The population’s only 20 million too. There’s, what? 60 million people in Italy? And you could fit half of Italy in Tasmania. So, when you think about it on that kind of scale, it’s a struggle. It’s a struggle because we don’t have the people here. Whereas in North America and Europe, you could travel for 8 hours and go through two cities, here you travel for 8 hours and you’re still fucking nowhere. With our type of music, we’re very limited I think. I mean, you can play anywhere you want, you can do the Byron Bay RSL, just don’t be surprised when not many people show up.”

Too true. Well, thanks for the chat Andrew, to finish this up I just wanted to know if there was anything Decimatus related that you’d want to plug. “Yeah sure, our merch and stuff you can find over at our bandcamp (http://decimatus.bandcamp.com). We also have a new video coming out next week that was filmed at out launch night and we’ve been holding onto that for a little while, so we can’t wait to bring that out. Our next tour dates can be found over on our facebook (https://www.facebook.com/DecimatusMetal) as well as twitter, instagram and all the rest of it.”

Cheers Andrew!