It’s not very often a band come along that literally knock you off your feet. Invasion are just that sort of band. The opening notes of any of their songs are like a shot of tequila to the system. First heard via their Moongazer EP earlier this year, I was instantly hooked.
I was fortunate enough to catch up with guitarist and self confessed metal geek Marek and Zel (who is renowned for playing her drums whilst they are on fire!) for an insight into Invasion. Here's what they had to say for themselves:
Thanks for agreeing to chat with us at The Music Fix. For those people reading this who don't know who Invasion are can you please tell our readers all little bit about the band?
Marek: We're a drunk London three-piece metal band with a space diva front woman. We get wasted and play the biggest riffs we can in short songs that are exclusively about wizards.
Zel: Yeah, they are huge riffs, fire, high powered vocals, booze, metal, wizards, blood, drugs, high energy live shows. Two tough girls and one geeky dude having fun sharing the love for heavy metal but throwing some soul into the mix.
I’m certainly feeling the Wizard love in the room. Can you tell me how you came together to form the band?
Marek: I've playing this stoned thrash thing for a long time with various line-up issues and wasted a lot of time. I found Zel really quickly when my old drummer left about three or four years ago. She is such a heavy drummer, I couldn't believe it.
Zel: I moved to London to pursue music and an advert Marek placed on gumtree caught my eye. When we met up we hit it off about musical direction straight away - basically heavy as fuck, straightforward, raw, retro, metal but with a more interesting twist on the vocals. Chan saw us doing an instrumental gig shortly after our first singer left for NY and asked if we needed a singer. At the first rehearsal we had together she killed it - we knew what we had was gonna be fucking cool!
You don't have a bass player in the line up. Did you ever have one or has it always been the three of you?
Marek: Yeah, Invasion has always been bassless. I've only got three seats in my van! It's something I realised could work when a bassist left my previous band. It's good to limit yourself I think.
Zel: People are always shocked at how much noise we make just with drums and one 3 stringed guitar! Its good to keep it as simple as possible and I think once you have a chemistry within a band it's unwise to fuck with it.
Marek: I play with lots of bass anyway so it doesn't lose too much. It just makes everything a bit quicker and easier, but it can mean our recordings are a bit thinner than our live show.
I can't remember hearing of a British hard rock band as exciting as Invasion for years. How would you describe the music you make?
Zel: How lovely of you to say so. I would describe our music is a rabid drunk attack of metal soul fusion with huge choice riffs, super-loud chaotic drumming fronted by a bewitching be-robed space diva!
Marek: We're just trying to make some heavy, kinda old school metal but with very good soul vocals to give it a different but still retro feel. It's basically a bit like early Metallica mixed with early Sabbath but rough around the edges.
So, what music are you into? Is there a common band that all of you love? What are your influences?
Marek: I've basically been obsessed with decent metal since a little kid. I've always liked classic metal, thrash and doom and so on. The good stuff that seems to be becoming popular, finally!
Zel: We all love the classics - Sabbath, Zeppelin, Pink Floyd and Metallica. Chan loves rock, metal and obviously classic Motown and soul too. I personally have a huge love for metal but love to listen to all sorts of music: punk, drum & bass, dubstep, acoustic, hip hop and good pop. I think drummers can draw from a wider range of influences than other musicians - it's all about the rhythm.
I can certainly hear that it the music. So, is there a manifesto for Invasion?
Zel: Heavy, loud, never too self absorbed and just interesting I guess. You’ve noticed we have a bit of an obsession with wizards, fantasy and fire. We're just always excited about writing new music then thrashing it out live to bigger audiences.
Marek: Yeah, It is basically to be as heavy and intense as we could, but not too indulgent. As Zel said we also have a non-ironic fantasy theme. I've always been into fantasy and in every band I've always only wanted songs about wizards and magic. All the best early metal had this grand, escapist element. It just seems to fit with the vibe of the music.
Is this from a childhood spent painting lead miniatures and rolling multiple sided dice?
Marek: Yeah, my older brother was massively into war gaming and I got deep into Advanced Dungeons and Dragons at a young age. I even started a society when I was at uni. I really miss playing it actually. The Lord of the Rings movies sucked after the first one. The Hobbit movies should be cooler I hope - better director.
Zel: I liked Warhammer but the little figures always seemed to break or get lost after a while. After you spend so fucking long painting them too.
Have you played at any festivals this year or visited any as fans?
Marek: Yeah man, we played Camden Crawl, The Great Escape (which were both a bit badly structured this year in my opinion) and a cool new city festival in Sheffield called Tramlines, which was great. We also met Hawkwind when we played the boutique festival Standon Calling! Naturally we went to Download to hang out as always. We played Download last year but the line-up was a lot better there this summer.
Zel: I love Download! We didn't play this year but I always go - it's fucking awesome. Yeah, Tramlines in Sheffield was great - so well organised and everyone there was really friendly. I went to O2 Wireless which was fucking cool - Example, Kanye West, Dizzee Rascal and The Streets were all excellent.
Marek: I also went to the amazing Primavera Festival in Barcelona which I'd love to play next year. I almost had a brain-gasm watching my favourite band Sleep who reformed for ATP. Next year I have to make it to Hellfest and Roadburn.
Do you prefer playing live or studio work?
Zel: Nothing compares to playing live, I'm sure anyone from a band will tell you that! We really try and push ourselves with our live shows and make them as insanely heavy and entertaining as possible. Studio time is great as it makes you a much tighter player and the songs are really sharpened up - also it's nice to have an actual product of all your hard work that you can hold in your hands!
Marek: Being in the studio is really exciting but definitely stressful. The pressure is on and clock is always ticking. Playing live when it's going well is easily some of the most fun you can have as a human being. Being in a band is a lot of hassle but nothing competes with the buzz of playing live.
What was the first gig you went to?
Marek: It was either Iron Maiden just before they lost Bruce Dickinson or Black Sabbath around 91 when they had Dio for the second time. I’m not sure which but both were absolutely fucking amazing. My older sister took me, I was very lucky. It basically doesn't get much better than those two shows. Dio is incredible.
Z: I think it was 3 Colours Red and Cay in Hayle, Cornwall when I was about 15. I was pretty wasted.
Watching hard rock bands play they never seem to know when to stop playing. It feels like there is a battle to play the very last note. With Invasion the tracks are very short. Is this a conscious decision or a by-product of your song-writing process?
Marek: A bit of both really. I definitely got inspired to keep things short from seeing some bands live who maybe are too indulgent. I went to ATP two years ago when there were about 10 atmospheric type bands there. I wanted to fucking scream by the end, it was so dull and pretentious.
Zel: We just go with a riff or a drum pattern, throw a few changes in then just play it until we get bored! If something sounds unnecessary or over done then we get rid of it. There are definitely some bands out there who drag out bad ideas for too damn long.
Your debut album The Master Alchemist'is due out in October, how is it sounding? I understand James Shaw is on production duties.
Marek: Yeah we did it at Toerag in 5 days, total, last year. But these things take a while to come out. It's retro, raw and real, kind of like a live record due to lack of any computers or overdubs. It's got awesome artwork. Personally I wish I'd made time to put some more guitar on it to make it beefier. I'm excited about doing a heavy as hell new record for early next year.
Zel: It's our debut album and although I know we can (and will) do better on the next one I'm so fucking proud of it. It's straight from our booze blackened souls, dude.
What are you plans after releasing the album?
Zel: Tour, Tour, Tour, Tour, Drink, Tour.
Marek: We desperately want to play around the country more and we have a tour in October which is great. The show offers seem to be picking up nicely now and it looks like we should have a Euro tour early next year too, which makes it all worthwhile.
How far have you fallen into the world of rock and roll decadence? Any televisions through hotel windows yet?
Marek: We're polite types, but we do like to party pretty hard. I think you have to really if you're in a band. If you don't like that side of things it would probably be too much for you.
Zel: I started working at the Underworld in Camden around the same time I joined Invasion and it all went downhill from there - I'm now the stereotypical alcoholic drummer. We haven't really had the chance to do the TV out the hotel window thing yet as when we play outside of London we sleep in the van or on people's floors. I'll let you know as soon as we can afford a hotel to throw a TV out of!
Is it even exciting now with televisons being flat screen? If you could pull together artists either living or dead into a super-group who would be in your fantasy rock three piece?
Marek: Bill Ward (Black Sabbath) on drums, Cliff Burton (Metallica) on guitar (he played guitar a lot) and Al Cisneros (Sleep) on bass and vocals. If they were all in their prime they would look fucking cool as well. Hair everywhere - hippy metallers united.
Zel: Keith Moon (The Who) – drums, Keith Richards (The Stones) – Guitar and Keith Flint (The Prodigy) – vocals. I'd call the band Bleep - after Dennis Nilsens beloved mutt.
The concept of supergroups who all share the same first name goes on for some time and tends to dominate the conversation. Concentration is lost as I desperately try to think of a drummer called Steve to go with my Steve Albini and Stevie Nicks power-trio. It becomes abundantly clear knowing the names of lots of drummers is a competitive advantage as Zel storms to victory time and time again.
So I bid these two rock Gods in the making a fond farewell and wish them all the best for their upcoming album release and tour. If you want to hear more visit their myspace page:
Or If you want to catch Invasion live they are playing the following dates:
05 Sep - LSD blotter art exhibition at Underdog Art Company(UDAC Gallery), London,
26 Sep - Bardens Bourdoir with Ungdomskullen, Stoke Newington High Street, London
02 Oct - Cargo for LAST FM (’The Master Alchemist’ album launch), London
06 Oct - Pure Groove in-store show, Faringdon, London
08 Oct - Moles Club, Bath
13 Oct - Sneaky Petes, Edinburgh
15 Oct - Captains Rest, Glasgow
17 Oct - Whelans / Dublin
20 Oct - Buffalo Bar with Gaggle, Islington
29 Oct - Flapper for Top Man (Curated by Gallows) with Shapes, Birmingham
30 Oct - Club NME Halloween Ball at KOKO, Mornington Crescent, Camden
05 Nov - Off Modern night at Corsica Studios, Elephant and Castle
07 Nov - Metal Alldayer at Windmill Brixton (End of Level Boss, Alabaster Suns(, Brixton
12 Nov - Liverpool Music Week at Slater St Project, Slater St, Liverpool
Invasion photographs by Dan Wilton