With their driving new single ‘Freaking Out’ in tow, angst-rock luminaries The Last Martyr make a striking case for themselves as mosh-primed maniacs ready and rearing for a hectic year of live shows.
It comes as the Melbourne quartet’s third release for the year – ‘Hindsight’ landed back in April, and was followed up with the genre-bending ‘Afterglow’ in August – after an involuntary hiatus in 2020. With that full year to stew in their creative juices, motivated by a sure-to-be chaotic return to the stage (which, by all accounts, marked a truly life-altering experience), The Last Martyr knuckled down on the first longform offering: a six-track showcase of punishing riffs, propulsive drums and powerful vocals titled ‘Purgatory’.
Ahead of the EP’s release on December 10th, BLUNT caught up with singer Monica Strut and shredder Ben Rogers to vibe on how it all came to life, why ‘Freaking Out’ stands as its catastrophic cornerstone, and why you should definitely check The Last Martyr out at one of their many upcoming festival appearances (ie. the 2022 UNIFY Gathering, the inaugural Uncaged and/or Halloween Hysteria III).
What’s the story behind ‘Freaking Out’? Can you run us through the process of production and creation?
Ben: For me, musically, this track was a product of mindset. I wanted to do something we hadn’t tried before and wanted to have something that grabbed any listener’s attention with the opening section. I actually listened to the demo of this song recently and realised that a lot of this track didn’t change between the demo version and [the studio version. That’s something I had almost forgotten, considering we had been sitting on these songs for a while due to extended lockdowns and other COVID interruptions.
Monica: The memory that sticks out most about ‘Freaking Out’ is Zooming into the studio from my home, sitting on the floor – where I feel the most creative and grounded – and honing the lyrics with the guys [while they were] working on the track in the background. When I first heard the blastbeat intro I wasn’t sure what to make of it, but after performing it in front of a live audience a few times, it really sticks out and grabs people’s attention, which is cool.
Where did you draw your influences from for this single?
Ben: This one was more emotional in terms of the guitars and music. It came from a place of real anger and frustration at what the world was like at the time. We couldn’t see our friends or family, and were were struggling with work and feeling unable to help. This track was really seeded for these reasons, and came out in an “I don’t care how it sounds” way. This is personally my favourite track. I had expected it to be put on the shelf, as when it was written and recorded, it was quite different to the other songs we had been demoing at the time. Also, blastbeats…
Monica: The chorus is collectively our favourite on the EP, and I recall that when we were writing it, we wanted to do something similar to Bring Me The Horizon’s ‘Doomed’ – something quite theatrical and slow. The backing vocals always remind me of musical theatre, for some reason… Specifically a song from Disney’s Hercules. I don’t think anyone hears it but me, but hey, fun fact!
You announced that you’re dropping your debut EP Purgatory on December 10th – how long has this been in the works?
Ben: Initially we were going to run a couple of singles that we had recorded in late 2019 and early 2020. When we [finished recording] the second track, I remember the conversation with our producer, Chris Lalic, was basically, “Why not record a couple more tracks?” With lockdowns and different levels of restrictions, we thought, “Yeah, why not?” So it was almost accidental that we ended up recording a full EP. During the varying levels of restrictions here in Melbourne in the earlier parts of 2020, each of us played a different role – whether it was onsite tracking and recording with the allowed numbers of people being in the studio, or listening in via Zoom and adding our spice through that medium.
“We always take ten minutes together to do a backstage run-through of the first two songs. It gets us on the same page and means we kick things off already warm!”
Monica: One of the hardest parts about last year was holding onto music, not feeling like the band was able to move forward because we couldn’t shoot photos or videos. But it gave us a lot of time to actually plan the release and visual concepts, and set some goals. The reception to the new music so far has been beyond our expectations, so it was totally worth the wait!
You’ve found a home on a number of shows and festivals coming up – what’s the most satisfying part of a set for you? And do you have any pre-show rituals?
Ben: If you asked me that question at the start of the year, all I would be thinking is “Shit, the live rig works!” Pre-show it’s more about warming up. I’m not very ritualistic in that sense. The way we have evolved our live show since the beginning of the year has made it an experience to play all the way through. Getting back onstage each time has been euphoric; getting to the end, feeling extremely satisfied with how we had played and the reactions we have been receiving have been the most satisfying parts. When someone you have never met comes up to you after a show, talking about how the performance and music were so unexpected, or that it made them pay attention and resonated with what we were doing in any form, those are the most exciting parts of the night.
Monica: Yes! We went from playing zero shows in 2020 to kicking off next year with three festivals – it’s nuts! The best part of the set for me is probably the second song in, when the audience has started to get a feel for what you’re about and that connection forms. ‘Freaking Out’ is currently the second song in the set, so it’s also fun to let loose some screams!
As for the pre-show, I try not to do much on the day of. A lot of my rituals come from getting ready, and I never feel fully prepared to go on stage unless I have my false eyelashes on. They transform me into who I need to embody to put on the best show possible. One thing Ben forgot to mention is that as a band, we always take ten minutes together to do a backstage run-through of the first two songs. It gets us on the same page and means we kick things off already warm!
What are you jamming on your playlists right now?
Ben: Right now I’ve been hitting up the new Limp Bizkit, Spiritbox, Windwaker, Falling In Reverse, Void Of Vision, To Octavia and some very early-days Incubus.
Monica: I’ve been jamming the new Papa Roach, Spiritbox, Turnstile, To Octavia, and a small band I discovered recently out of Chicago called Mechina.
Purgatory is out December 10th independently
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