16 Feb
Interview with TOWER HILL


Welcome to the FILTHY DOGS OF METAL Webzine. 

Tell us a few things about TOWER HILL (Members, Starting Year etc).

Tower Hill is a traditional heavy metal band playing fun, beer-drinking, riff-centric music. It just started last year. I’ve always wanted to start a traditional heavy metal project, and a lot of the riffs that have become Tower Hill songs have been bouncing around my head for ages. The COVID lockdown gave me the time to get the idea off the ground, so at least one good thing came out of 2020 for me! ‘Tower Hill’ was actually the name of an old apartment I used to rent. I always thought it sounded like a band name, so once I got the ball rolling on this band, Tower Hill it became. I’m the only member right now, but I’m definitely hoping to expand the lineup with the goal of playing live. 

You have recently released your demo ''Fighting Spirits''. What is the Feedback from your audience as well as from the Press?

The feedback has been super great! I’m really encouraged by what I’ve heard from fans and from the press, especially as so far this has been totally a DIY, one man project. I really think releasing it on Bandcamp has helped a lot in getting the name out there, just thanks to people buying and sharing it. I can’t wait to hear what folks think of the full demo when it releases at the end of the month.

Label or DIY and why?

Currently Tower Hill is completely DIY. That said, my goal is absolutely to get Tower Hill picked up by a label. There’s nothing inherently ‘better’ or more ‘true’ in going DIY, and I think part of what’s really made the traditional metal scene kind of explode the last few years is the work that labels are doing to constantly find and boost new bands and to work with them to put out really cool music. If you look at a label like Dying Victims or Cruz Del Sur, they’re CONSTANTLY putting out new material from bands all across the world. They have their finger on the pulse about where the genre is going.I definitely think that you get out what you put in, and the hope with Tower Hill is to keep that hustle going whether on a label or not. Tools like Bandcamp, Youtube, Instagram, etc are a big part of that, especially without live shows at the moment.   

Do you prefer Vinyl, Tape, CD or Digital Format and why is that?

Honestly, I dig vinyl, but I’ve got to go with tape lately. The great thing with vinyl or cassette is that you can throw it on and really listen to a side or the whole thing the way the artist intended it to be heard. There’s something charming with cassette in the sense that you have that shared quality with vinyl, but you also have the added portability and convenience, plus that kind of warm, VHS style tone. I went up to the mountains last summer with some friends and brought along my boombox and some Priest and Scorpions cassettes, and we had a great time – you can’t do that with vinyl!

Your music style is Heavy Metal. Which are your main influences (Favourite Artists / Bands etc.)

Tower Hill is really a mix of stuff from across the traditional heavy and power metal spectrum. I’m aiming for the middle between 80’s German and US power metal, like Running Wild or Helloween meets Riot, but with a little bit of greasy NWOBHM sound in the harmonies. ‘The Claw is the Law’ is definitely more of a Priest or Maiden style rocker, but the other two tracks have more of that driving power metal sound. I’m also very inspired by the lead guitar work from Dark Forest and Lunar Shadow, those kinds of long, melancholic and folk-inspired dual guitar harmonies, but that’s not as present on this demo as it is in some of the other songs that I’ve got in the idea bank.

Which things, do you think, a Band should sacrifice in order to succeed? Have you ever sacrificed anything in your life for a better future of your Band?

I think it’s about balance. Most of this demo was recorded while I was working from home and I just went back to school in the fall, so it’s definitely a struggle keeping things balanced. That’s one of the assets in a one-man band, is right now I’m only accountable really to myself. If you’re working with two or three or four other people, its both easier and harder as you all need to make sacrifices to balance each others’ needs, but you can also all have each others’ backs. I’ve definitely spent time on Tower Hill that I should have been spending on school or work, and paid the price for it, but in the end I feel like I keep a pretty good balance while being satisfied with the music. 

Describe your ideal live show as a performance Band. Have you already experienced that?

I really think an ideal live show requires a dynamic stage presence. If you are not constantly moving with the audience and getting them fired up, it kills the vibe. If I wanted to see a guy stand still and look at his guitar for forty-five minutes, I’d watch cover videos on Youtube. I’ve played live with my other band before and I’ve always tried my best to embody that ideal. My ultimate goal with Tower Hill is to be a killer frontman, with a high-energy and dynamic live band holding things down. I’m hoping to fill out the lineup to bring in some new energy and ideas so we can hit the ground running when live music comes back.

Which attributes, do you think, that a new Heavy Metal Band should have in order to gain identity and be unique?

I really think your ‘identity’ as a band is determined not only by your music, of course, but also the visual aspects of the ‘product’ you’re putting forward and the attitude that you project. The cornerstone of everything, in my opinion, is writing riffs and hooks that stick out to listeners. But if you hook them in with the music, developing a strong visual identity helps make that music shareable and memorable: if you see the same bold artwork in your friend’s collections or hear the name on social media or review sites, you’re going to want to see what the hype is about! But if you don’t have the riffs as that cornerstone, it’s a bit of a paper tiger.

Do you believe that Bandcamp and other Digital Platforms help the new Heavy Metal Bands? Which, do you think, is the ideal way for a Band to promote its work?

That’s a difficult question to answer as a band that’s just starting out! I’m very much still trying to see what works and what doesn’t at this point, but I’m pretty sold on the RIFFS FIRST strategy as per above. Bandcamp is absolutely a boon right now – other streaming sites like Spotify and Apple Music have a bit of a disconnect between the artist and their music, but with Bandcamp, you’re in control and can communicate directly with your listeners. There are no third-party barriers to go through, you just throw up whatever you want. Bandcamp Fridays have been awesome in really getting the direct support, we’ve almost paid for our cassette run just from a day’s sales! The community aspect is also massive strength – it’s cool to be able to browse your feed and find new bands and to directly support your friends’ music while they return the love.

Tell us a few things about the New Underground Metal Scene in Canada (Bands, Fanzines, Webzines, Metal Clubs etc.)

Canada is a bit weird! It’s a very big country, not necessarily in population but definitely in distance. There’s certainly a traditional metal scene, you’ve got bands like Traveler and Riot City from Calgary, Smoulder from Toronto, Allagash out in Newfoundland, Gatekeeper in BC, but it’s all very spread out! A good label to follow is Temple of Mystery records – they put out a compilation of Canadian bands a couple years back called ‘Trapped Under Ice’ that’s really worth picking up. You’ve also got your ‘legendary’ Canadian bands like Cryptopsy and Voivod, and once-local bands who have worked hard and become huge like Unleash the Archers. I’d say we tend to punch above our weight in the metal world! But the tough thing is definitely the distance – I’d almost feel there’s not so much a ‘Canadian scene’ as there are regional scenes in each city or province. You’re looking at a 3-8 hours drive minimum between major cities especially in the West where I’m from, and the scene can vary a lot between cities. Edmonton for example tends to have a lot of death metal bands, so I’m hoping that Tower Hill can offer something new and different and make our mark here!

Do you know anything about the Hellenic Metal Scene?

The Hellenic metal scene is incredible! If there’s one thing I admire about the Greek scene it’s that they know the magic of the riff, and that they’re not afraid to blur lines between different genres to put out the craziest, most powerful and heroic metal they can. You see that a lot in the Greek black metal bands, like Varathron, Agatus, even the first couple albums from Septic Flesh, etc., where they’re writing these black and death riffs but they’re big and tough with this layer of mysticism baked into it that veers into epic doom or heavy metal at times. It’s definitely an underrated scene in the metal world, there are some really great, even bizarre Greek releases from the 80’s like the Vavel record, and then you’ve got newer bands putting out completely WILD, bonkers stuff like Sacral Rage. A couple newer Hellenic acts I’d really like to shout out are Black Soul Horde from Athens and Steel Arctus from Thessaloniki, they both put out great albums last year. Greece is on the top of my post-pandemic travel list, and the third track on our demo, ‘Antigone’, is about Sophocles’ tragic play!

What are your future plans?

Well as mentioned, I’m hoping to put together a live lineup and take Tower Hill on stage as soon as possible! In the meantime, I’m still working on new music – I have about another ten tracks pretty much ready to go for a full length with more still in the idea stage. I’m planning to push this demo as hard as possible in the spring and hopefully get the ball rolling on a full length this summer, ideally on a label. So we will see what’s in the cards!

Thank you very much for your time & Keep up the good work! The closure is yours.

Thank you for the time and for your support! Our demo tape, ‘Fighting Spirits’ releases on February 26th. You can pre-order it on cassette or digital download on Bandcamp here: https://towerhillmetal.bandcamp.com/ 

Cheers from Canada!

By Steve the Filthy Dog.

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