Recently Phoebe Pinnock was the feature artist on overseas website MetalDivas.Com
METAL DIVAS INTERVIEW by Kriss Metal Diva
The first thing that comes to mind when somebody says “Australia” is kangaroo’s, Steve Irwin and AC/DC. Well from now on you may add the explosive female fronted hard rock dynamite HEAVEN THE AXE on the list. HEAVEN THE AXE is a 9-piece act, living and breathing heavy metal in the purest form. Having released their debut album ”Sex, Chugs & Rock ‘N’ Roll“, in September 2011 the band has been touring relentlessly ever since, gaining a strong fan base every day. We had the opportunity to ask, lead singer, Phoebe Pinnock a few questions to learn more about the band and here’s what she told Metal Divas.
Metal Divas: Hello HEAVEN THE AXE, welcome to MetalDivas.com! How’s life down under today?
Phoebe: Its pretty good, I’m counting my blessings today, been for a bike ride after a truck took out my bandwagon earlier this week when I was driving, ha! You never know whats about to hit you, do you? So I’ve had a lovely bike ride in the sun around Melbourne this morning, getting some bits and pieces for my outfit for our headlining show tomorrow night in the city.
Metal Divas: Please feel free to introduce yourself and the band to our readers. HEAVEN THE AXE, what does it mean?
Phoebe: Sure… my name is Phoebe Pinnock and I’m the singer for Australian hard rock and soon to be more metal outfit HEAVEN THE AXE. Its a representation of the choices we make which impact our lives; a tap on the shoulder on the brutality religion has inflicted on the world; a wide verbal picture of destiny outlined in astrology and a synonym of our musical tastes where mine are more centered in popular structure and melody coupled with the boys in the band’s absolute brutality and unrestraint in taste being extreme metal which they live to breathe more than air.
Metal Divas: So, correct me if I am wrong, 9 members in total but 5 playing live. What’s the story here?
Phoebe: We’re like a family. Steve Watts, guitarist, is my husband of ten years,(yup I did my nuts when I was very young I even wrote my first song about him) this band is a reflection of what we create with our friends. Mat Silcock and Trav Price are permanent members on guitar and bass but we have three drummers, Aramis, Skitz and Tommy. The reason is, we’re all best friends, they all sleep over a lot and they all have different strengths and chemistry. One’s better for random jamming, one’s better at writing and nutting out a structure and one’s best for the demands of touring. One of our drummers is currently touring Europe playing in Hobbs Angel of Deathsupporting Slayer and all kinds of bands. The demands of being in a band are a big commitment so we take the “life happens” approach and share the love, that way we are free. Some shows all three drummers will play. Is there a rule where you have to only have one drummer? I don’t think so! We also consider our guitar tech Jimi to be a “member” because he is there at every rehearsal, show, everything. He’s a dude. He deserves to be in the band. He contributes, he’s just as important as any of us. And we have a number of co-writers, backing vocalists, all kinds of random ring ins. Most of us live together and life is so busy, if our friends want to meet up with us they really gotta say “hey lets jam”. So thats why it becomes a big collective.
Metal Divas: All right, let’s talk “Sex, Chugs & Rock ‘N’ Roll”. Your debut album has been released a while back, what has been the feedback?
Phoebe: It was released in Sept 2011. The feedback has been really amazing considering its our first release and worldwide the attention is so appreciated. We toured relentlessly around Australia playing our own shows and festivals. We toured with Rose Tattoo and our music has been used all over TV and movies which has been amazing considering were not a signed band. “Housos” is a hit cult Australian TV show and they use our songs in all the fighting and sex scenes in the series and movie. Our mums would be so proud. We’ve sold so many copies from our web store. I’m so grateful for people who spread the word about us continually and it reflects in how many orders we get. I never pictured that if I ever was going to be a rock star that I would spend so much of my time mailing CDs and T-Shirts at the post office. We are an independent band and we love what we do. We’ve just completed a huge regional tour and are about to launch our new single. It’s a lot heavier than the release thats out now. I cant wait to see what people think of it. It’s a real progression and its something entirely new for our fans.
Metal Divas: I have been listening to it for the past week and I really like it. Sounds like straight, bad a** rock ‘n’ roll. Please share details from the song-writing process and the recordings.
Phoebe: Thank you! A lot of those songs I wrote on the acoustic guitar, just as basic songs, thenSteve will work them up like a mechanic taking a body of a car and turning it into a hot rod. Theres a lot of detail in the songs, people often remark that theres so much to listen to, that they don’t hear the first listen. So much work has gone into writing all this little bits and then rehearsing them sooooo many times until I cant stand it any more. But its all worth it when we play live to hundreds of people who come from all over to see us, that just blows us away and they deserve the best performance we can give!
Metal Divas: Is it safe to assume Steve [Watts] is the main composer based on his past with MANTICORE? Who’s writing music and lyrics?
Phoebe: Yes! Steve was the frontman and guitarist of brutal metal band Manticore, he’s a mastermind, he thinks the songs over and over then translates it to the band who all contribute in their own ways. The basic ideas of music and lyrics are often written by me then created into realHTA songs by him but I think in future we will be progressing into utilizing a lot more of his heavier ideas and more brutal melodies and lyrics that are an expression of both of us on every level as well as working with more collaborators who help us to build the damn bridges. We just want to write the best songs we can with the people we love.
Metal Divas: Can you describe a “typical” HEAVEN THE AXE rehearsal session?
Phoebe: Sure… so Mat, Aramis, Steveand I live together in a big old house called the “Axe Mansion” .Trav lives in Ballarat so he drives 90 minutes every rehearsal (2-3 times a week), sometimes Tommy and/orSkitz will be there. Tommy’s night is usually Thursday night where he and Stevenut out newer songs. The boys generally hang out together a whole bunch and talk and laugh like a bunch of hens while I might cook some kind of dinner or make liquorice tea (its expensive but we love the hell out of it). Thats what rocks rehearsing from home, you can just keep carrying on living. Until the songs are at a workable stage, I wont really sing on them until they have the nuts and bolts in place. We always run through the set because of the detail, its like a musical workout. Generally every rehearsal I’ll hassle them to work on new songs. Theres always a million things to talk about so we’ll always carry on for hours. Thats our life and we love it.
Metal Divas: How’s the female fronted rock/metal scene look like in Australia? Do you guys get any local support?
Phoebe: There isn’t many female fronted hard rock/metal bands. Bands such as Bellusira,Temtris, Imogen Brave, Smokin’ Mirrors and Vanity Riots are friends of ours (look them up) but there aren’t any making mainstream inroads because the radio support is not there. There are two hours late night dedicated to hard rock and metal on two radio stations each week other than community radio who are just bloody great support. Those two hours are playing overseas bands as well as supporting local talent. So to tour around the country relentlessly like we have comes down to social media connection, local promoters and word of mouth and we honestly couldn’t expect any better than what we have here in this country doing it on our own. We would very much like to get to Europe. Australia has no preference on being a female fronted act. “If you’re good, you’re good, shut up, you’re not a rockstar and put your clothes on you’re a musician not stripper”.
Metal Divas: Most of the European bands compose “delicate” Gothic and Symphonic songs, while HEAVEN THE AXE is straight forward, dirty, rock ‘n’ roll that’s not afraid to be vulgar. What’s your influences?
Phoebe: Haha, I have no interest in gothic symphonic music whatsoever. Our influences range from Napalm Death, Slipknot, Aborted, Revocation, Mariah Carey, Whitney Houston, Tracy Bonham, Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath, Metallica, Britney Spears, Dolly Parton, Kyuss,QOTSA and Red Fang just to name a few!
Metal Divas: I understand you guys are getting ready to release your new single. Any details about that?
Phoebe: OHH MYY GODDD…SOOO EXCITED! We just got the final master last night! Its produced by Reggie Bowman who is a local mad scientist making a huge name for himself. It was mastered by Scott Hull in New York who did Garbage andMotorhead and has worked on Joan Jetts records. The new song will be released next week its called “Good Things Come To Those Who Hate“. We tried to work on it when I was younger but I couldn’t sing it then, I hadn’t experienced the outrage and hurt that it is a picture of. But now I can. Its the right time for this song for us, we’ve been touring consistently with some of the best metal bands in the country, were a lot heavier live than on the record. This song will really get the attention of our more metal oriented fans. It features more of our friends who come over to “hang” – Matt Young(King Parrot), Dan McDougall (Frankenbok) as well as Steve and Skitz (Drummer) on backing vocals and a guest spot on the recording from Richie Poate (Dreadnaught). Its a liquorice all sorts of who we are, and who anybody is, is who their friends think they are.
Metal Divas: Phoebe, what’s your background and what made you wanna be a vocalist in a rock band?
Phoebe: I grew up in the country in a town called Wagga Wagga. Music was always my ABSOLUTE love and direction in life since before I can remember. I taught myself guitar at the age of ten and wrote my first song at the age of 13 when I saw a long haired tattooed HOT AS HELL guy driving a panel van cranking metal out of its subwoofers. It was called “Hey! Mr Bad News (I wanna see the back of your panel van)“. Playing guitar and singing was awesome – the cute boys wanted to “make bands” with me, so I was a happy band camper. I saw Steve in his band Manticore when I was 15 and snuck into a pub he was playing at. I WAS BLOWN AWAY. I cut his picture out ofRolling Stone and plastered my school folder with pictures of him and his band… When he asked me to play music with him, I thought all my greatest teen dreams had come true. I played him the song “Hey Mr Bad News” and told him about the story behind it. Turns out it was him driving the panel van that day and we haven’t looked back.
Metal Divas: “Enemy” and “Unconditional Love” are my favorite tracks of yours, could you please tell us more about them?
Phoebe: “Enemy” was a song written in a group jam, thats why I love it so much and wanted to make the video clip for it. It’s a song inspired by people I met when I first moved to the city from the country. I had never had enemies before, in the country if you have a fight with someone you cant avoid them. It the city, people I had met just cut me off over what I thought was nothing. I was dead to them. It was tremendously hurtful but it was my journey into creating the incredible true friends I have now. This was my own song about owning whatever it is that creates this in the world as I know it. “Unconditional Love” is my most proudest song. When I was younger I went through a really tough time and my mother was right there for me no matter how many times I let her down. I wrote this song for her from a rehab to give her as a present for her 50th birthday. She died shortly after that suddenly, so above and beyond this is the song that Im most proud to have created as it told my mum how much I loved her and I really got who she had been for me. We’ve raised a bunch of cash for different causes (such as families suffering terminal illness to child sex slaves in Nepal) based on this song so Im proud to say it makes a tangible difference in the world through action. Steve and the boys did an amazing job translating this ballad into the full band creation, and people love this song everywhere we go. Its always the toughest, greatest weathered-faced person in the crowd that comes up to me and thanks me for that song and tells me how much it means to them. Unconditional love is the toughest most hardcore emotion on the planet because you have to be fearless, committed and selfless to fulfill it. Emotions are so escapable these days, being strong and fearless takes incredible strength and Im so lucky to have experienced it in my life.
Metal Divas: I’ve watched your music video for “Enemy” and I was very impressed. How did you guys produce such a Hollywood like video with no label support?
Phoebe: Basically, being unstoppable, not taking no for an answer and being relentless. Businesses who would normally charge venue hire fees gave to us for free because I told them the importance of supporting us as a female fronted hard rock band for this country and they believed in us and supported it. It was inspired because we were arrested by the police. I didn’t accept that cops could hold us and search us for no reason and objected so they arrested me and Steve and locked him up for the night. Just cos you are in a uniform doesn’t mean you’re always right buddy. There is so much visible corruption in the modern day world of free information sharing, I wasn’t going to take it and I knew my rights. So I told them I objected because they had no reason to even approach us. I had to give the court what they wanted in an apology to get out of any trouble. It was the police’s word against my true facts and as the police held the “truth” just by being police, I had to play the “game”. There is so much injustice placed upon the regular system in Australia, so many laws and procedures and the general population pays their fines and cops it up the a**. So much apathy. Im a human being, I stood to make a difference. My dear friend Thanassi Panagiotaros directed and produced the clip. He is an angel and the clip is all thanks to the time and care he put into it. We had a lot of support and are truly grateful.
Metal Divas: Do you have any shows confirmed on your agenda? What’s your future plans in general?
Fri Aug 9 – The Espy St Kilda Free Entry
– Melbourne Sept 21 – Reverence Hotel, Footscray
– Melbourne Oct 12 – Brewtality Festival for Heavy Music Magazine
– Melbourne Oct 26 – Rock For Catchment The Evelyn
Metal Divas: Phoebe, are you much of a daredevil?
Phoebe: I’m not keen on sky diving or bungee jumping, but Im a daredevil of the heart. I love enormously and I have “murderers thumbs” like Megan Fox basically that look like toes, which means I am destined to create crimes of passion, meaning, if you cross me, you better watch out! Just ask the boys for a reference…
Metal Divas: All right, here’s the question everybody has been waiting.. do you know the dance steps to “Gangnam style“?
Phoebe: F### YES
Metal Divas: Thanks much for taking the time to answer my questions, I appreciate it. Metal Divas would like to wish you best of luck and much success. The final words belong to you.
Phoebe: You’re most welcome to join us in our lives: www.facebook.com/heaventheaxe
And find us from there.
HEAVEN THE AXE is:
Phoebe Pinnock – Vocals
Steve Watts – Guitars
Mat Silcock – Guitars
Trav Price – Bass
Tom Rossell/Aramis SV – Drums