Interview: Ezekiel Ox of Superheist
When Superheist disbanded back in February of 2004, they left behind a promising career that had already spawned two ARIA Top 20 albums as well as countless singles that also cracked the magic mark. They seemed to break up just when they were starting to find traction in the music world, and fans and critics alike were left bemused by the sudden announcement. Now, twelve years later, the band are back and bigger, brasher and louder than before with a new, instantly recognisable vocalist better known for his work in Full Scale and Mammal. It was a return to the fold that was as swift as their exit, with the official announcement coming in August this year along with a new album, Ghosts Of The Social Dead.
“I think DW [guitar] did an interview and he said he was bored,” vocalist Ezekiel Ox explained of the band’s reinvention, “which I guess is a good reason because it’s the same reason they broke up. I think there’s a real hunger and desire from Drew [Dedman, bass] and particularly DW because he hasn’t been playing since Walk The Earth, and there’s a real hunger from them to achieve success, write more songs and go out with the best possible live show. That’s what Superheist has always been about – a good live show – and I know that the guys are very excited about that.
“The new drummer Ben [Clark] and myself are something pretty special to add to the live show, so they went and got this dream line up now and we’re gonna go out… I mean, how much fun is being on tour? [laughs[. It’s also about ticking off a few boxes that they never got to tick off, like going to the States to record an album and those sorts of things. We’ve done that, and now we’re gonna go on tour with some big, heavy riffs and with some good hard rapping and screaming. It’s going to be shitloads of fun!”
There have been a couple of failed attempts to revitalise Superheist over the last twelve years, but none of them amounted to anything more than false promises, with Ox saying he has been on the bands radar since last year.
“About a year ago, DW called me and said he had to talk about something, so he picked me up in his fully sick HSV Holden and he drove me to a bar called Whole Lotta Love in Melbourne. He said that they wanted to get Superheist back together and I was the singer they wanted. At the time, I was doing an Over-reactor record, which is now finished, and then a solo EP which is also finished – I was interested, but I just didn’t have the time to commit, so they said they would keep me in mind for the future. They worked with a couple of other singers – I think Clint Boge had a crack but wasn’t working out – and then they came back to me about four months ago and said they weren’t willing to do it without me. My schedule was a bit clearer, so we started working on some tracks. From there, we went to Hollywood and made the album, got the artwork done and released a few clips.”
“We really wanted to make an album that was commercial, if possible; something that people could listen to and think that it’s heavier than Foo Fighters, but not quite as soft as Ed Sheeran.”
While maintaining the old Superheist sound, the addition of Ox and the wealth of experience he brings has added an extra dimension to the music. As such the album sounds like a Marshall stack turned up to eleven.
“I’m more of a Pantera – Far Beyond Driven man than I am a Tool – 10,000 Days person,” he explains. “Superheist is delivering good, punchy, short, heavy fucking sing-alongs and non-bullshit heavy metal on this record. If you don’t have fifteen minutes to spend listening to one song and you also like your vocals a bit heavier at times, then this is the album for you. In a world where everyone seems to be going a little more progressive, Superheist have gone more Pantera and Beastie Boys.”
“In saying that, we wanted to make this a really emotional record, so we were not really focusing too heavily on politics – which is what I have my solo projects for – but we wanted to write an album about love, loss, grief, anger and healing. So that’s what we did. The songs are really about healing relationships, ending relationships and the feeling and the need to punch some people in the face [laughs]. It’s about feelings and emotions. All of my albums are about feelings, but this one is very different to me as a vocalist because it’s not really a political record.”
Although Ox has a plethora of different vocal styles and ranges, he is best known for his rapping and heavier songs, but with Ghosts Of The Social Dead, he also gets ample opportunity to sing clean vocals – which many of his fans would have rarely heard.
“Superheist were always a band that had a vision,” Ox points out, “particularly DW as a songwriter. Listen to songs like “A Dignified Rage” off the 8 Miles High EP – songs like that always had ambition to be big songs, and they were always the kind of band who were thinking bigger than playing in the local pub. They played Big Day Outs and went to America, and I always liked that about them: that they were ambitious and wrote songs for success. What me and DW tried to make sure of with this record was that what we were writing was good and excited us. The songs that were dropped from the album and the songs that we left on are indicative of the fact we really wanted our songs to be listened to across different borders of genre. I’d like to think it’s not too macho for women, it’s not too feminine for men and it’s not too metal for secretaries or Triple M. We really wanted to make an album that was commercial, if possible; something that people could listen to and think that it’s heavier than Foo Fighters, but not quite as soft as Ed Sheeran.”
“Full Scale has always been an example of my singing voice. I come from an opera background, I come from a folk background and I come from a musical theatre background, so I’ve always had a good set of pipes. But when I look around the world and think about politics, I always feel like barking and screaming and yelling, so when I approached this album, and I was thinking about how much I love my fiancé, it called for a different approach. I really hope that people like this album and can listen to it and get some healing and some growth and grieving.”