Time for the next edition of Metal Anarchy’s “Music In The Age Of COVID-19” series, the feature where I discuss the ongoing pandemic with various musicians. This time I have an interview with Sophie and John Fraser of Hand Of Kalliach.
METAL ANARCHY: How have you been holding up during the coronavirus pandemic?
JOHN: We’re doing alright thanks! Whilst it has certainly been a grim few months, we actually only started Hand of Kalliach due the pandemic restrictions – being stuck inside with instruments and a lot more free time was a good prompt to get writing the music we’d been thinking about for some time.
SOPHIE: The band was born because of the pandemic as a way for us to channel some of our rage and stifled creativity. We’ve found it to be a lifeline in these weird times.
METAL ANARCHY: Have you been using your downtime to work on new music?
SOPHIE: Absolutely, we’re working hard at the moment on a new album. We’ve really strived to distill the best elements from our existing tracks into it, and as a result this album is a lot more focussed than our debut EP. So far we’re really enjoying making it.
JOHN: Yes, we’ve really tried to refine the sound whilst keeping all the power, atmosphere and aggression that got us positively reviewed from our debut EP last year.
METAL ANARCHY: What was the last show you played or attended before the shutdown?
SOPHIE: We actually managed to catch the Dropkick Murphys which played in an old theatre not too far from Edinburgh, it was awesome!
JOHN: Yeah, it was really fantastic, that seems like a very long time ago now… Definitely miss the venues, looking forward to getting back!
METAL ANARCHY: Are you planning to play any livestream concerts during this time?
JOHN: We haven’t live streamed yet but are definitely looking into it – the challenge is it’s just the two of us, so without some backing tracks or other musicians we might struggle a little… but definitely exploring options.
SOPHIE: The pandemic has made us far too used to being at home, and it would be a great challenge so we are definitely keen to give it a shot!
METAL ANARCHY: Do you think the live entertainment industry will ever recover?
JOHN: It’s definitely been a dire time for musicians and venues, no question. However, longerterm we’re quite optimistic that things will bounce back, possibly even stronger than before as a resurgent crowd looks to make up for lost gigs – in our view, music, and metal in particular, will always be something that is best enjoyed live, and we think there will be a huge level of enthusiasm for gigs returning once vaccines are circulated and infections are under control.
SOPHIE: It’s hard to imagine being at a gig, surrounded by people but yet it’s all we can think about. Not being able to experience live music has made us realise how important it is, it’s good for the soul and I think when we’re able people will rush back.
METAL ANARCHY: Lastly, is there anything fans can do to help your band or others that may be struggling during this time?
JOHN: In the digital age, the support bands receive from streaming and some digital music sales are generally very bleak – if you want to help your favourite bands out, particularly the smaller independent ones, then buy their merchandise or physical music, Bandcamp is fantastic for that sort of thing and it really helps. Buying one single t-shirt can provide a band with as much cash as if you streamed their album literally thousands of times!
SOPHIE: And if you’re listening to something and you love it – tell the band, it never gets old and it really makes our day!