4ARM, already a ferocious force in the Australian metal scene, have set the world in their sights since the release of their third album ‘Submission For Liberty’. We caught up with drummer Michael Vafiotis ahead of their Saturday June 9th performance at this years Download Festival as part of our Sick Summer Six interview series to find out what the four piece thinks about performing with metal legends and their recent international breakthrough.
In the UK scene the name 4ARM seems to have come out of left field in the past year bringing with it your powerful sound. For the uninitiated, could you give us a crash course in the history of the band?
We are a metal band that formed in 2004. We hail from Melbourne Australia. Up until now we have three albums released, most recently the album ‘Submission For Liberty’, where we were fortunate enough to be picked up by the UK label Rising Records late last year for its release. We have toured nationally with the likes of Testament and Destruction and now we are about to head off to Download Festival for our first ever international show.
Our music can be describe as a brand of metal that is aggressive and hard hitting, taking elements from our Bay Area influences, whipping it up into our idea of a modern day thrash metal sound.
You have had quite a busy year so far following the release of Submission For Liberty. How has the band been holding up with the strain of constant touring?
I think so far it’s been busy for us more behind the scenes, just laying down the foundation for the band, getting the name out there globally just not nationally anymore and doing a lot of press and what not. We are a hard working band and like to get our hands dirty in the process. For us touring is actually the part we love, so it’s not a strain at all for us. We have enough mileage and experience to stay grounded and know how to prepare for each and every show.
Our upcoming touring schedule after Download will be more a test with three weeks worth of back to back shows in the US and some 30 dates in Europe. That should test us all no doubt, but I welcome these challenges.
This is your third album, what is it about Submission For Liberty that differs from previous releases to make it your international break through?
Definitely maturity in both song writing and the recording process. This time we took a lot longer to create the music in a much relaxed environment and time frame allocated. We sat down before the writing process and picked out all the problems from the last two albums and worked hard on strengthening those areas. Also we knew in order to compete in an international market the product needed to sound huge and polished. It’s not 1980 anymore and there are certain standards for how albums should sound these days. We have our engineer Matt Hyde to thank for achieving a quite awesome sounding album.
From the brand of guitar strings used to the album artwork we went big. It was really make or break for us on this album. I think we have achieved positive things already from this album giving us the drive to work on more releases in the future.
As a through and through thrash band how does it feel to be playing at the same event as three of the big four(Metallica, Megadeth, Anthrax)?
It’s kind of surreal at the moment. I remember watching the big four concert at the cinemas saying “how amazing would it be to be a part of this”. Now to be given the chance to join a festival with not only those three bands but so many others is mind blowing. This year’s lineup for me is probably the best it’s ever been.
What can fans who haven’t experienced 4ARM live yet expect to see in your Download performance?
We try to capture the energy just like what you hear on a 4ARM album. So many times you see bands that sound so powerful on an album but very weak and sipid live. This is something we pride ourselves on not to do. Our goal is to outdo the album for intensity and aggression at each show. We have so many different personalities in the band so we each bring something unique on stage. You shouldn’t find a dull moment in the show. This I promise… All in all expect a lot of neck breaking thrashing tunes from start to finish.
Do you expect to be staying around for the rest of the weekend? Who else are you hoping to see?
Well since we have flown 24 hours to another continent we may as well make the most of the time we are there. Playing 30 minutes and going straight home isn’t just value for money (laughs) Not many opportunities down under like this. So many bands I would like to check out, where do I start?? There is of course Metallica, Machine Head, Megadeth. You can never really get sick of seeing these guys. I’ve yet to see an Anthrax show so ill make sure I do on the Sunday. Trivium, Fear Factory, Shadows Fall, Ghost, Black Sabbath are at the top of the list. Even try and see Soundgarden. Chris Cornell would have to be one of my all time favourite singers.
Closing the interview with our ‘Sick Summer Six’ set of questions:
1. What 3 things are essential for a kick ass festival experience?
Women, Whiskey and clean toilets.
2. What is your most memorable festival moment?
For me it was sneaking in a Jack Daniels flask at the Big Day Out, dropping it in the pit whilst watching Fear Factory only to find it 15 mins later on the ground. Woo hoo!!!!
3. What’s your poison or festival fuel this weekend?
Anything free with a good kick to it.
5 What’s the sickest thing you’ve ever seen go down at a festival?
Two dudes making out to Nothing Else Matters. That was sickening!!!!!!
6. What’s the most important thing to remember while rocking out at Download?
Everyone is out there to have a blast so be good to each other.
Do you have any final messages for Download attendees?
See all you maniacs at The Red Bull stage on the Saturday.
4AARM will be performing on Download Festival’s Red Bull Bedroom Jam Stage at 12:35pm on June 9th.