University bands get a bad reputation. Here today, gone tomorrow or just a group of guys pissing around in halls with some instruments.
Not Mutant Zombie Foetus though, who through blood, sweat and booze have made quite the name for themselves as you will see in this interview with vocalist and guitarist Toby Gibbons.
Live and Loud Rock: How did Mutant Zombie Foetus come to be?
Toby Gibbons: “We started out in our first year at university with me and bass player Sam getting together and trying to impose our musical preferences on each other. Once that failed we started finding the middle ground and learning a few Ramones, Metallica and Sex Pistols covers, you know, the usual song list for a new band.”
Live and Loud Rock: Who would you say are the bands main influences?
Gibbons: “Our main influences in the beginning where the ones whose songs we we’re playing, so Metallica and the Sex Pistols. However as we’ve developed as a band so have our influences. Bringing Ed (Lead Guitar) and Nick (Drums) into the band has allowed us to spread into a more “extreme” territory and so our influences have also spread in that direction. So now Napalm Death and Discharge are big influences, as well as the new wave of Thrash bands that myself and Sam are dedicated followers of, like Gama Bomb, Evile and Municipal Waste. Though we still maintain our individual influences, Sam is a huge pop-punk fan and takes his fiddly bass lines from them whereas Ed is an extreme Metal fan and Nick loves Lars Ulrich of Metallica.”
Gibbons: “Choosing one of the two albums over the other is like choosing a favourite child. I’m proud of both our albums for different reasons. The first one mainly because it got made. It was a great experience, especially as we had to record the vocals and mix it ourselves, so it has a huge DIY feel to it. We spent more time in the studio on the second album so it sounds more professional and shows how we’ve developed our style but while maintaining what makes us us. I’m also proud of the fact that we used the same recording engineer on both albums, and have developed a friendship with him, he’s a great guy.”
Live and Loud Rock: How does the creating process work for Mutant Zombie Foetus?
Gibbons: “We write our songs individually and then bring them to the band. So either me, Sam or Ed will write a song and send it over to the rest of the band to learn then we’ll come together and practice it. Occasionally we’ll swap riffs, like for example the last riff on Dead By Dawn was one of mine that Sam asked if he could use. I think this is what gives Mutant Zombie Foetus its own unique sound as it’s not a band writing songs, it’s three individuals, so there is the potential for three completely different styles of songs. What makes them ours is we all stamp our own playing style on each song.”
Live and Loud Rock: Which are the biggest and best gigs you have played as a band?
Gibbons: “The biggest gig we’ve played was when we supported Napalm Death for the first time at Sub 89. That was huge for us. For me the best gig we’ve played was probably the second time we played with Napalm Death, the day after we released our second album. The response was great and we had kids at the front going crazy which was a real thrill. So it’s that one or it’s the gig we played at the Upin Arms pub (R.I.P) in Reading. We packed the place out. It was such an intimate gig and I love being up and close with the crowd in a crowded sweaty room.”
Live and Loud Rock: How did you find being in a band at University?
Gibbons: “Being in a band at university was great. It was the best thing I did at university socially. It gave me an outlet for a lot of frustrations I had and resulted in some great experiences and new friends that other activities wouldn’t necessarily have done.”
Live and Loud Rock: Is there a third album on the cards in the near future?
Gibbons: “A third album? I don’t know, as it’s becoming increasingly difficult for me to play with the band. Having had to leave the area I’m not playing with them, I’m still in the band officially although I not currently playing. I’d love more than anything to do a third record and I really hope we do. I think we’ve got a lot of good material in us still.”
Live and Loud Rock: If you could support any band live, who would it be?
Gibbons: “Napalm Death again? I’m not sure. There are a lot of bands that we spent our university years listening to that would be good to support, Gama Bomb for example. It would also be amazing to support a really big band like Slayer or someone. I would love to go from playing 500 capacity venues to 5000. A band can dream right? ”
Live and Loud Rock: Where do you see the band in the future?
Gibbons: “The future isn’t terribly certain at the moment. If I can get back then I can see us continuing in the trajectory that we started on the second album, exploring our hardcore roots a lot more, which Sam is thrilled about. I can also see us getting more and more support slots with some of the bigger bands that come through Reading. We started to really make a name for ourselves in Reading a year ago and started making waves across the rest of the south but we lost steam and I had to step down so we’ve had to take a step back. I think we have a lot of potential left in us as a band and I’d like to see us make a comeback and reclaim what we used to have.”
I’d Buy That For a Dollar – Mutant Zombie Foetus (Taken from the 2nd album, Celebrity Deathcamp)