One man band Hellripper is a fierce blend of black and speed metal, tinged with the stylings of NWOBHM outfits such as Motörhead, Tank and Warfare and drenched in an extra dose of first wave black metal for good measure. 2017 saw the release of debut full length Coagulating Darkness, an album as infectious as it is articulate. Relentless in speed and delivering some of the filthiest, most memorable riffs in recent history, the only real flaw here is simply that you’ll wish the fun lasted longer. James McBain was recently kind enough to take a pause from other projects (Lord Rot, Lock Howl, Rats of Reality) to answer our set of Profile questions. Check out what he had to say and make sure to give Coagulating Darkness a listen while you’re at it.
How did you first get into playing music and have you achieved the level of success that you always hoped to achieve?
I’ve been into music since I was really young but I think the first thing that made me think “I want to do that” was when I first watched the DVD of Red Hot Chili Peppers live at Slane Castle. John Frusciante is my main influence on guitar and RHCP are still my favourite band. Soon after that, I got an electric guitar and just started teaching myself how to play. I had a couple of lessons but hated it haha. I think I started writing music “seriously” when I was 14/15.
I have achieved far more than I initially thought I would with Hellripper. I just wanted to record an EP by myself at home for fun and maybe a couple of people in the local scene would like it but it got quite a bit of attention straight off the bat for some reason. Now, my main goal is to spread the word as much as possible and get as much people as possible to hear the tunes.
What’s the most you have ever debased yourself to get your band onto a show, into a magazine or otherwise promoted, covered, debased and praised? If you don’t have a story please tell us any embarrassing story.
I don’t think I’ve ever done anything stupid to get onto a show or anything. We’ve only played like 8 shows or something up until now anyway haha. I don’t really have any embarrassing stories to share unfortunately for you.
What do you see as some of the great things happening in metal and what are some of the worst things happening inside the scene right now?
Right now, there’s a lot of new, great bands in almost every genre which is very cool. There seems to be an increase in speed / thrash metal recently which is great for me personally. One of the worst things in my opinion is the elitist crowd. I don’t need to go into detail on that, everyone knows about that haha.
It seems that now everyone has a passion for some cause and that those people are very open about displaying their passions. This is probably a very, very good (and progressive) thing socially. What are some of the most important issues (social/political/humorous/etc.) for you and how do you insert those issues into your music? (This question is especially appropriate for you since your music is quite an outlet for your physical and emotional pains).
I like to help those less fortunate than myself and I consider myself very lucky to be in a position where I can help people in some way through the music which is why I often donate a share of sales to charities. That is the only thing that you could say deals with an issue regarding Hellripper. The music and lyrics aren’t politically motivated at all and aren’t really an outlet for physical / emotional stuff. I do it because it’s fun, that’s it really.
What, or who, got you into metal and how old were you? How did your family take the news?
I can’t remember when it was, sometime in my early teens I guess. I heard “Peace Sells” and I think “Blackened” somewhere and went out and bought “Peace Sells… But Who’s Buying?” and “…And Justice for All” the very next day. My family don’t care at all, it’s only music haha.
What advice do you have for aspiring music critics and outlets out there? How can we all better serve the genre in the eyes of a hard-working musician?
Most critics etc. that I have dealt with are very good. They promote the band and give constructive criticism or justify their opinions and they do a lot for bands, especially in the underground and I appreciate that. One thing that can be annoying is when the person clearly has no idea what they are writing about and get the song names wrong or even the band name wrong and just compares anything to something that is vaguely in the same genre. For instance, saying that a band sounds like Cannibal Corpse just because they are death metal and that is their only reference point. It’s fine to write about things that you aren’t too familiar with and it can make for some interesting reading but be honest about it.
What’s your goal? You guys thinking world domination? Maybe saving a continent? Maybe invading one? Any interest in starting a cult? Do you guys have day jobs or hobbies you want to share? Whatever it is, please let us know.
My goal is to spread the music of Hellripper as much as possible. In 2018 there will be a bunch of new music released and we are aiming to play more live shows than we have in any previous years. We just confirmed our first couple and they are looking good! I’m a student, studying Business IT and in my spare time I mostly just do music-related things.
When you’re not obsessing over your own material, what are some of your favorite albums to listen to currently? (Feel free to include non-metal)
Currently I am listening to the new Grave Pleasures album “Motherblood” and have also been listening to a lot of Type O Negative and Alice in Chains recently. A bunch of bands have released cool albums this year too that I’ve been playing a lot such as Blackevil, Bonehunter, Trivium, Warbringer and Lich King.
Summarize your band in exactly one word. (Disclosure: If you include additional words, we will select our favorite for the final publication.)
Many thanks to James for his time!