» Stuart Pendergast - H.O.D.
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Interview conducted October 04 2009
Interview published October 05 2009

Those UK stormbringers of death known as - H.O.D. - have just released their sophomore outing - 'Surge, Kill, Steal'. You can read my review of this, and their debut at this site. Since they are offering both albums as free downloads, I want to do whatever I can to wholeheartedly support them.

Thankfully, I was able to request for the bold and bearded -
Consultant M. Lord (Stuart Pendergast) - to agree to do an interview with me. So journey with us down the hatch, as we descend the stairway to hymns deep, and, Ooh that's it.... together, let's go apeshit!

MettleAngel: Hey Brother, as you know I just reviewed your new CD, and I reviewed the last one as well.

  • Stuart: Thanks Michael, it is nice to have such an in-depth review, and I am really glad you liked it! I will send the link to the other lads, and I really need to make a blog on My Space, so that I can list all our reviews.

MettleAngel: That is a great idea, and it will help you to gain even more support and better recognition. When did H.O.D. initially form? Where did you come up with the name?

  • Stuart: The Original H.O.D formed waaaay back in 1993, when we were still in high school; although, at that time it was only Kev, Ste and I.

MettleAngel: By the names Kev & Ste, I assume you are referring to Dr. H.R. King (Stephen Bratt) and Matron D.J. Feemo (Kevin Fleming). So, you were just kids into metal, who decided to form a band?

  • Stuart: We knew Dave, as I had been in a band with him previously, but Shak was only five years old at the time!

MettleAngel: Physician Shak Attack (Shak Raza) was only five, what is he another Andy Galeon, once the drummer of Death Angel? Where did you come up with the name?

  • Stuart: As for the name, I really do not remember how we came up with it, but it could have been much worse! The band I was in with Dave was called Head In A Blender. We disbanded when we left school, and got back together a couple of years ago, as we thought it might be a laugh...and it is!

MettleAngel: That is a cool name, but I think H.O.D. is more befitting, and you are still having a laugh, I guarantee! Why do you use stage names? Is each member also a character, like with Gwar, Lordi, Imapler, etc?

  • Stuart: The stage names are basically just nicknames we have anyway, but with medical prefixes, as in the beginning (well, the second beginning). It was all going to be a lot more medically themed. However, they just sort of stuck, and I suppose it might be a bit lame to suddenly start using our full names, like we were going to become serious or something!

MettleAngel: Well as long as you do not become another Carcass clone! I actually like the names, and I feel they contribute to the whole persona of the band, overall. When creating the name for the band, were you playing on acts like S.O.D., M.O.D., or F.K.Ü.?

  • Stuart: Probably! At the time we were well into S.O.D., so [insert word] Of Death seems like it would have been our thought process.

MettleAngel: So, all it took was just one trip to the hospital run by brain dead doctors, and you were in! I understand that you were originally in the Power Metal band - Strength & Honour - when did you decide to join H.O.D.?

  • Stuart: Ahh Strength and Honour!! The greatest epic and majestic Power Metal band that never was… The plan with them (it was just Ste and me, anyway) was to record three triple albums, each charting a period of Ancient Roman History, then unleash them all at once on the unsuspecting public.

MettleAngel: Looks like Ex Deo beat you to that, as did Aska, Virgin Steele, and a whole host of Metal acts that glorify the Republic of Rome. I assume you knew you were biting off more than you could chew, or we could swallow?

  • Stuart: We got to about an album and a half before Ste moved away with work, and it all just stopped. When he came back to the North-West ,we started H.O.D. instead. Some S&H riffs and parts are actually starting to make an appearance in H.O.D. songs now, (such as "Helms Deep"). I suppose that as I run out of fresh ideas, you will probably be hearing more of them! We will complete the nine album set one day though.

MettleAngel: That shows determination, and I imagine that it will be quite voluminous, indeed. You should contact the author Michael Grant, and read his nine book set for the Rise And Fall Of Ancient Rome! Were you always a classic thrash band?

  • Stuart: Hmmm, well first time round, we did not write anything, and we only learned three songs - "Enter Sandman", "Refuse / Resist" and "From Here To Eternity", but at that time they were still pretty new songs!

MettleAngel: That is a decent variety, with Metallica, Sepultura, and Maiden, and all had videos for those songs actually getting played on MTV, back in the day!

  • Stuart: This time round we just wrote the kind of thing we would like to listen to. This is what so many bands do these days, and it just came out quite thrashy, naturally.

MettleAngel: Like Gama Bomb, Evile, or Fatality, you embody that tengo and thrash technique. Is there a strong retro thrash scene now in the UK? Many great '80's acts like Sabbat, Anihilated, Onslaught, Grim Reaper, etc. are making killer comebacks!

  • Stuart: Yeah there is a really good scene across the whole of the UK at the moment. We have played with loads of amazing unsigned bands recently, such as Let 'Em Burn, Heretic, Visceral Attack, Mutant, Seregon and so on.

MettleAngel: Wow, I am not familiar with any of those bands, except Mutant! I am excited to hear new Savage Messiah. The only Heretic band I know was the '80s act signed to Metal Blade which featured Mike Howe, who left to sing for Metal Church. They then added the late David Wayne to the band, and changed the name to Reverend.

  • Stuart: We only really realized the extent of the scene when we joined this site: www.ukthrash.co.uk. As for the 80's bands, it seems that every band that ever existed, are having a come-back of some sort - some are shit, some are great, good luck to all of them!

MettleAngel: That is a total mettle attitude! Your song 'Kicked To The Kerb" was featured on - "The Heavy Metal Killers Compilation' for Earrache Records. The self made video you guys did for that song, which can be viewed at your MySpace, is downright hysterical! It also just dawned on me the super double - entendre' for the song "Enter Titanus". It is not only a combination of "tit" and "anus", but it also a "tight anus"!

  • Stuart: Yep!

Has Earache ever considered signing H.O.D., like they have with Evile or Gama Bomb?

  • Stuart: Well, it is no secret that we had a few conversations with Earache on the subject, but in the end we did not fit the criterion they were after. To be fair, it was probably a good decision, as it keeps the pressure off us, and thereby allows us to do whatever the hell we like, which is nice. We have already nearly broken even after the release of the new album, so things are going really well in that respect.

MettleAngel: That is good to hear, and encouraging for those bands who feel they must be signed to be successful. I always advocate the D.I.Y. attitude, and you are your own boss, and will set you own goals. What made you decide to make both of your albums available for free download? Are you just trying to honour your fans, by keeping up with the times?

  • Stuart: Initially we gave the first album away for free, as we did not want to go to the effort of pressing up a load of CDs that we did not think we would sell, as we have done with previous bands. However, this decision ended up being probably the best decision we ever made; because, it turns out that many people will download an album, and then if they like it, they will actually seek out a CD and buy it.

MettleAngel: That is very true. Us writers are always getting digital promos, but when I really like something, I will buy the CD. I did this with new Dethklok, Megadeth, Shadows Fall, and I will do it Tuesday with new Kiss!

  • Stuart: I think we have had over 50,000 downloads of the first album now, which I find incredible!!! With all this in mind, we decided to do both with the new album. We are offering the free download, and two versions of the CD. One with the full 12 page booklet in a jewel case for £6, and a cardboard promo wallet one for only £2.

MettleAngel: I would love to get the version with the booklet. Thank you for sending me the lyrics to do my review though!

  • Stuart: No problem! We figure that we have downloaded a lot of albums over time (as well as buying some, of course!) so it is good to give something back to the metal community.

MettleAngel: I totally agree, you give to receive.

  • Stuart: I wonder how much of coincidence it is that Earache will be giving Gama Bomb's new album away for free over the internet? It is worth noting that we can afford to give the albums away for free, as we record them ourselves and so we have no overheads; except for mastering and pressing.

MettleAngel: The new Gama Bomb will be free from Earache, awesome! I just hope that it is not replete with those annoying beeps like with new Evile! I am grateful that you are able to recuperate the cost for mastering and pressing. This is why myself and other writers promote the band, in order to assist you in any manner in which we are all capable.Where can one go about getting either version of your new CD?

  • Stuart: There are many ways to get the new album! Apart from coming to watch us play, all our merch (including four lovely T-Shirt designs!) is available from our shop: www.hodmerch.co.uk.

MettleAngel: Well as an American, I probably will not be attending any of your shows too soon, but I may check out the site, and the T's. I always find your lyrics to be clever, witty, silly,and very tongue in cheek. Why do you choose to have such bizarre lyrics? Is this just to lighten things up?

  • Stuart: It is just something we have always done. Although, we are 100% ultra-serious about our music. We just find it very difficult to write about serious subjects.

MettleAngel: So you have the Edguy/Avantasia attitude?

  • Stuart: The whole Nu-Metal minded Bull$hit of , "Oooh life is so hard, and I am so unhappy..." approach just sucks balls! I like to feel good most of the time when listening to music.

MettleAngel: As do I and I agree that those idiots do not have their "Balls To The Wall"! This is just a reminder that I am so excited, because I will be interviewing Mr. Udo Dirkschneider next week! I assume that you and the boyz like the party down aspect, and all things metal related?

  • Stuart: We love to party, and especially good time party bands like Steel Panther and Municipal Waste. That is why we write songs about partying!

MettleAngel: Steel Panther are awesome, totally hardcore, with very XXX rated lyrics. Their new album finally cums out in America Tuesday, the same day as new Kiss, which those Christians at Wal-Mart will be heavily promoting! I appreciate the breakdown for each song at your My Space. On there it is mentioned that "Two Glass Eyez" was written after returning from The Gods Of Metal Fest. Did you perform there?

  • Stuart: No we did not perform there, but we made the epic journey, as there has never been a better festival line up than Gods Of Metal 2008!!! It was amazing! Amazingly hot too. There were so many tremendous moments on that trip, I really love playing "Two Glass Eyez" live, as it just reminds me of that time and makes me smile!

MettleAngel: Wow, sounds like you had a killer time, I am envious! What inspired the oddly titled song - "Mole In The Ocean'"- your personal theme for metal?

  • Stuart: Our original Drummer (second era) was Nurse Max Pilat (Mike Pilat). He, as some of fans may know, sang for the band: The Ocean, until recently.

MettleAngel: I am vaguely familiar with that band, are they signed to Metal Blade? I think I recall receiving a promo for the album - 'Precambrian'. Mike also played bass on that release.

  • Stuart: He used to send us his tour diaries, so we could live vicariously through him. Wherever he went, he would spread the word about H.O.D, which was nice.

MettleAngel: That is so cool that a symphonic sludge band from Germany promoted H.O.D.

  • Stuart: We had this song about how much we love metal (as every metal band should!), and it was obvious we should pay tribute to him, as he was our "Mole" In The Ocean!

MettleAngel: Now I get it, and that totally makes sense! Thank You for clarifying this for me! I should also point out that some songs have a more straightforward lyrical base. What inspires Dave and the band to write these lyrics?

  • Stuart: Hmm, that is a tough one, I only write daft ones, so it is hard for me to say what gets into their heads. Usually, it will be a film or something that will get them going. Kev wrote some lyrics about "Robocop" once, which I promptly lost.

MettleAngel: Does he not recall any of those "Robocop" lyrics?

  • Stuart: He was gutted, but it may have been for the best.

MettleAngel: Paul Verehoeven, who directed "Robocop" is my favourite director of all time! He just published a new historical work on the "True Jesus", which means that most of the stories in the New Testament are pure B$, or heavily exaggerated.

  • Stuart: Really?

MettleAngel: Unfortunately, he has only written it in his native Dutch, and it has not been translated into any other language, as of yet. I know he plans to do this, and he wants to make a movie based on his careful research. He is one of the only members of The Jesus Seminar, who is also connected with Hollywood. He is viewed as an outcast among those arrogant elitists, primarily for his work with "Showgirls" and "Basic Instinct", and because he does not hold a doctorate in theology. I pursued a Masters in Theology, and I have the greatest respect for him! His last movie - "Black Book" was so involved, and so well done!

  • Stuart: Wow!

MettleAngel: So back to the Metal, what is with the hard infirm hospital melodies like - "Iron Matron", "Second Opinion", or "Fear The Ambulance"?

  • Stuart: It's because we are HOSPITAL OF DEAAAAATH!

MettleAngel: Ha, silly me, I guess that was a ludicrous question! Just as long as noone confuses you with the San Antonio, Texas Black Metal band - HOD. What inspired the song -"King Of Sweden''? Are you a big Yngwie Malmsteen fan?

  • Stuart: I only recently became a big Malmsteen fan. I have never really been into the major guitar wankery experts, because I like good songwriting too. This is usually something of which most of these people fail miserably.

MettleAngel: I agree some of those shredders are waaaayyy overrated!

  • Stuart: I had previously just assumed this was the same for him. I must admit that I was WRONG! Ste ripped some of his albums for me, and I was absolutely blown away! It was not just his ripping, mind you, but also by the songs. I can not believe I have been missing out on this stuff for so long! This is why I wrote a song to tell people just exactly how good he is, in an effort to stop people from missing out like I did.

MettleAngel: I have been listening to him ever since he was in Steeler with Ron Keel and Mark Edwards. I guess being from Cincinnati, Ohio, I am more partial to David T. Chastain. Do you think on this song, you nailed the solos?

  • Stuart: I did my best to emulate his style on the opening solo, and although obviously I am but a mere mortal in the shade of his magnificence, I think I captured his essence as well as I could.

MettleAngel: Dude, I think you are being just a bit modest. Your guitar playing is magnificent. I suppose since I do not play guitar, is one of the reason why I am not a huge Malmsteen advocate. I read that you really enjoyed Metallica's - 'Death Magnetic', though.

  • Stuart: Indeed I did!

MettleAngel: This along with Judas Priest's - "Nostradamus" were my two favourite albums of '08. I have just played those brilliant titles again in the past few weeks, and I love them even more. I am still not sold on what will be the best of 2009, but I do love the new Heaven And Hell, and we will see about Kiss. Do you think the new Megadeth is deserving of as much praise as it is receiving, or do you think it is just more of the same?

  • Stuart: I really liked 'United Abominations', and I have only actually listened to 'Endgame' once, so I can not comment that much, right now. From what I heard it was pretty good.

MettleAngel: It is a good album, but not a remarkable comeback, as so many writers are suggesting!

  • Stuart: My first impression was that I expected more from Chris Broderick, it did seem to be shredding by numbers, but maybe I will change my opinion when I listen to it again.

MettleAngel: I have played the new Megadeth many times, as well as all their other albums. I dig it, but it is no 'Rust In Peace' or 'Countdown'. I too feel that Chris was a bit overrated, compared to his work with Jag Panzer. A fellow writer of mine at BW&BK gave it a 10, WTF!

  • Stuart: Now that you mention it, I think I will go play 'Endgame' right now.

MettleAngel: Good idea! Now back to H.O. D., have all the reviews for - 'Surge Kill Steal' been very favorable? I have enjoyed both of your albums very much. I have told many metalheads to obtain the music, and hear it for themselves.

  • Stuart: So far all the reviews have been very positive. There have been a few people who say the first album is better, but what they fail to realize yet, is that the new one is a grower, whereas the first one was quite instant.

MettleAngel: I do definitely agree with that.

  • Stuart: We are very happy indeed with the reaction though, and thanks very much for spreading the word!

MettleAngel: You are most welcome! Speaking of the title, why not use the word: "Steel"? Were you aiming for a flow of verbs in the pun? On 'Beer, Bitches, Blood', you had the alliteration thing going.

  • Stuart: Well, the title is a play on words - Surgical Steel - and it would have been too obvious if we spelled 'Steel' correctly!

MettleAngel: This is what I kind of figured. Now on a sadder note, it is mentioned in one of your blogs, that a key member had to take a leave of absence? Was this owing to the birth of Dave's new child, or is it of a more serious concern?

  • Stuart: Well, I can not really say anything about that, other than it has nothing to do with Dave, just personal business that needs sorting out.

MettleAngel: That is understandable, and as a father of a child who is now six...Six...SIX! I send him all the best! How will the band get on without this member? Has it led to many show cancellations?

  • Stuart: We have had to cancel or postpone a few gigs, but first and foremost we all are all old mates, so we are 100% behind the member in question, and he will return to the stage on October 24th to rock some socks off!

MettleAngel: That is good news, and only a few weeks away! So in closing, what can we expect from H.O.D. in the near future?

  • Stuart: You can expect a re-vamped H.O.D Christmas song, and some classic covers. Also, if you live in the UK you can expect some hard rocking shows!

MettleAngel: Man, I am stoked to hear your Christmas cover! We just saw Stryper last night, and they soundchecked with "Winter Wonderland! I am sure given your knowledge of Metal, you will choose some killer bands to cover! Possibly Anthrax?

  • Stuart: Wait and see... We are also going to enter the Eurovision Song Contest.

MettleAngel: Good luck with that! Look what it did for Lordi's career! Stu, thank you so much for taking the time to indulge me in the fun and metal madness.

  • Stuart: Michael, Thank You! Those were some interesting questions you asked there ...

MettleAngel: Well, I try to keep it lively and entertaining. All the best with everything! Oh, and by the way, I love Jim Henson and the Muppets. To this day, next to the "Star Wars" Movies, "The Muppet Movie" is my favourite film! I mention this because I noticed that they were listed as an influence on the band.

See also: review of the albums Surge, Kill, Steal and Beer, Bitches, Blood

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