A take on Rainbow's seminal Long Live Rock 'n' Roll, the title of 3 Inches of Blood's new Long Live Heavy Metal is serving as a sort of rallying cry for the band. It makes quite a bit of sense considering the band's very vocal appreciation for the metal arts, something that goes all the way back to their 2004 Advance and Vanquish album. If anything, it's a reactionary title to 2009's classic rock-angled Here Waits Thy Doom, which was reputable in its own right, but doesn't quite have the vim and vigor of Long Live Heavy Metal. It’s about as telling of an album title as possible. And yeah, “long live heavy metal” indeed.
For many, 3 Inches of Blood have long straddled the line between mass acceptance and polarization, in part due to singer Cam Pipes' ear-splitting falsetto. The bearded frontman doesn’t quite have an “off” switch when it comes to his very hot, yet refined vocals, but in the land where 3 Inches of Blood dwells, it’s hard to imagine anyone belting songs about swords, leather, and protecting the metal throne. And on Long Live Heavy Metal, the frontman has his fair share of spirited moments, including lead single “Metal Woman,” “Dark Messenger” and “Men of Fortune.” We’d also be remiss if we forgot the Maiden gallop of “Leather Lord” and glorious acoustic interlude “Chief and the Blade.” All make for what is perhaps the band’s most complete album to date.
Currently trekking across North America on the Metal Alliance tour with Devildriver, Dying Fetus, Job For A Cowboy, The Faceless, and more, we grabbed guitarist Justin Hagberg for a round of questions regarding the aforementioned tour, previously-mentioned new album, what exactly is a “metal woman,” and much more. And here’s how the Canuck responded…
Blistering.com: You're currently on the Metal Alliance tour with several bands of the extreme metal variety. Do you find it easier to win over these crowds because you're different and better yet, more accessible?
Justin Hagberg: Our music definitely stands out in this tour, but it works for the Metal Alliance tour. Most of the bands on this tour are technical death metal, and we bring to the table traditional heavy metal, but we fit in nicely. We're conjuring the rock and people are really digging it.
Blistering.com: Do you prefer doing tours like this? As in, going out with bands that don't sound anything like you?
Hagberg: Touring in general just rules, period! Metal and rock and roll is something we have in common with every band we ever tour with, but it is awesome to see a tour with a variety of music. Granted, we've never been asked to tour with any pop bands. It would probably get boring if you toured with only one specific style of bands. We've toured with Goatwhore, Type O Negative, Toxic Holocaust, Cancer Bats, etc. so many to list, but touring with those bands are great. We all sound different, and they were awesome shows with very killer well-rounded metal crowds.
Blistering.com: You recently added bassist Byron Stroud [ex Fear Factory, Strapping Young Lad] to the ranks. Considering the wealth of experience he has and other factors, what made him the right choice to fill the bass spot?
Hagberg: Byron is a killer dude! He is the right choice because he is a great bass player and he has more touring experience than anyone in our band. We can all learn from him.
Blistering.com: Obviously, the early part of your career entailed quite a few lineup changes, but outside of Byron, the band has been largely stable. Do you think you're in the clear in terms of 3 Inches of Blood’s lineup being stabilized?
Hagberg: We are in the clear, fuck yes! If we never have to teach someone how to play “Destroy The Orcs” again, it will be too soon. But seriously, we all know what we're in for. Touring is our life. It's not for everyone though.
Blistering.com: Here Waits Thy Doom wasn't as full-on metal as some of your other releases, but it appears with Long Live Heavy Metal you're back to your metal roots. Was it the goal from the onset to write a total metal album?
Hagberg: It was our goal to do something different, which is what we always try to do with every release. People love variety, and people love consistency and we try to not put out the same thing twice, but still make it sound like a 3 Inches of Blood record. Here Waits Thy Doom was very inspired by 70's rock, and we came into writing mode for Long Live Heavy Metal wanting to step everything up. I feel we accomplished that.
Blistering.com: How much or at all did you look back to Advance and Vanquish and Fire Up the Blades to take inspiration?
Hagberg: I went to those records a few times for references, making sure some of the new riffs weren't too similar to older stuff, but I don't really listen to them often. After writing, recording, and listening to mixes I feel I've had my fill.
Blistering.com: The title of the album is pretty self-explanatory. Was it created as a reaction to those who question metal's staying power, or is there something more personal to it?
Hagberg: We chose that name for a few reasons. Obviously, the title for Rainbow's album Long Live Rock 'n' Roll inspired the title. But we are fans of heavy metal. We live heavy metal. We're proud to play heavy metal music, and metal will always conquer all! Long Live Heavy Metal is something any metal comrade can proudly say.
Blistering.com: Love the placement of "Chief and the Blade" and it's overall sound/feel. What was the inspiration behind this one?
Hagberg: Shane [Clark, guitars] wrote this track. We all liked the idea of having some sort of prelude to the metal. We all love folk music, and “Chief and the Blade” worked perfectly as an intro to “Dark Messenger” but also is a great stand alone folk tune.
Blistering.com: "Metal Woman" is a sure-fire live hit. Was the premise to recognize the various metal chicks you have met over the years?
Hagberg: The Metal Woman is that smoking hot intimidating metal chick that's dressed to kill. She will drink you under the table and beat the shit out of you and fucking rock harder than anyone. We all know some die-hard fucking gorgeous dangerous heavy metal Valkyries! This song is for them!
Blistering.com: You're into your second decade as a band. Did you think with all of the lineup changes and overall difficulty of being a touring metal band, you'd last this long?
Hagberg: We don't let anything stand in our way. We're road warriors! We accept challenges, and rise above them every time! Some people can't handle the road, and that's their problem. We fucking love touring! We love everything about it! And that's what makes us a strong band now.
Blistering.com: By your estimation, where is metal headed? Do you think it's going to continue to go back to its roots?
Hagberg: I don't know, I'm honestly not paying attention to where metal and certain scenes of metal are headed. I know that real fucking awesome heavy metal will never die, and that's all I need to know. I don't care about what's hot and what's not bullshit.
Blistering.com: Finally, what's on the agenda for the rest of 2012?
Hagberg: We're gonna be touring our fucking asses off this year, and next year. We're also gonna get back to writing mode sooner than later. The creative juices are still flowing, so we can't stop now. Gotta strike while the iron is fucking hot!