Please tell us about the history of your band and its members.
It's all me basically. I am a solo artist and I sing and play all the instruments on my albums. Occasionally I have other people do guest spots. Jim Hodge from UK sludge titans Mastiff has sung on a bunch of my tunes, half of my debut album We Have Bift Off and Baobhan Sith from The Necromancer. Most of the drums are programmed or loops, but Mike Sowerby played drums on The Wizards Bones, The Necromancer & Emperor of the Moon. I quite often try to get more people to do guest spots, but end up losing interest if people can't show up immediately and deal with it while the idea is still fresh. I hate waiting about for folk, and at the end of the day I can just do it myself.
I have been playing in bands since the late 80's, my first band was a progressive thrash band called Warp Spasm who you can check out here https://warpspasmhull.bandcamp.com/ . This band featured Mike from Mastiff on drums and me and him did a bunch of other bands throughout the 90's. In 2000 I decided to start doing solo music, as I was becoming a bit fed up having my ideas diluted by other people. I still continued to play in bands, but I have always been making solo music since then. So far I have done five full length albums, and two EP's including my latest release Trauma which is three tracks left over from my last album Unrelaxed.
How would you describe your style? Which bands influenced your music?
The easy answer is progressive metal. However each album takes on a theme of it's own, which is something I take from bands such as Celtic Frost and Ulver. For example, The Necromancer has a much heavier feel with stronger black and death metal elements, Emperor of the Moon has a much more 70's psychedelic feel to it and We Have Bift Off has an industrial theme throughout. I wrote both Unrelaxed and Trauma with the specific concept of trying to amalgamate all of the varied styles and feels of my music into one cohesive album. Not sure how successful it was in that, in some ways I think it complicates matters even more, which is great. Put it this way, it's not easy music.
Bands that influence me in my solo work are definitely Arcturus, Ihsahn, Enslaved and Amorphis. But I am not sure how much I sound like those guys, as I am not really trying to sound like anyone at the end of the day. Sometimes influence is different to 'sounds like', for example I am hugely influenced by Wino and Alec Empire, but you would be hard pushed to detect either of them in my music and it would be even harder to find anything that they have in common with each other musically. A lot of reviews have compared me to Devin Townsend, which is a great compliment, although I had never heard any of his music until I was nearly finished recording Unrelaxed, so make of that what you will.
Why should a metalhead buy your demos/albums?
If you want a musical challenge I will definitely provide that. If you like sitting indoors and blowing your mind with 'out there' dark metal psyche then try me out. It's music that rewards you if you give it the time. I don't really make easy soundbite chunks for the modern attention span and I have never done a 'dance floor filler' but if you want to go on a journey that takes you all over the place, then here I am.
What have you released so far and how were your releases received by the public/media?
I have released five albums, We Have Bift Off, The Wizards Bones, The Necromancer, Emperor of the Moon and Unrelaxed. I have released two EP's, Trawler Tales and Trauma. The Wizards bones has been my biggest seller and so far the only one that has had a re-press, but Unrelaxed is my most critically acclaimed album. The others have been steadily popular, but Emperor of the Moon has been a slow grower since it's release with more and more folk getting into it as time passes, which is cool as I have a personal extreme soft spot for it.
Do you play live as well? How's your live activity so far?
I don't play live as a band under the name Tommy Concrete very often at all, maybe only three times ever. I have done a lot of spoken word solo gigs, although not for a while. My second book 'Brollachans' should be coming out next year in 2020 and so I will very likely be doing a whole bunch of spoken word gigs to promote that. As a band I play in Tommy Concrete and the Werewolves, we do some of my solo stuff, but mainly we have our own music that we play separate to my own stuff. We have a very different sound to my solo stuff and are a Motorhead / The Exploited sort of thing. We have one album This Can't Get Any Worse and are currently working on a follow up to that.
What should labels/zines/promoters know about your band? Why should they be interested in it?
Usually labels/zines/promoters latch on to the fact that I used to play guitar for Scottish punk legends The Exploited, because at the end of the day it's a pretty mega name drop. I have played in a whole bunch of bands, but absolutely none of them have the profile that The Exploited do. Usually folk comment that they are surprised that my solo music sounds nothing like them which is an interesting bit of weirdness. On Unrelaxed I did a song called Leith Punk Flat, which is a bit of a musical homage to them in the sense that it starts out very punk/thrash but then the songs slowly introduces elements of prog, symphonic metal and even chiptune! I reckoned that folk who discover my music will most likely play Leith Punk Flat first, due to it having Punk in the title, so in one song I take the listener on a journey from punk to prog all in under four minutes.
What plans do you have for the near future as a band?
As mentioned earlier, Tommy Concrete and the Wereolves are working on our second album and all being well we will be spending the majority of 2020 promoting it. That and my previously mentioned second book. As far as my solo stuff goes, I will be digitally releasing a collection of early Tommy Concrete demo's from 2001 in a few months, this will no doubt be a bit of an 'under the radar' type affair as I don't to distract from Trauma and more importantly Unrelaxed 2, which will be out by the end of the year. Unrelaxed 2 was recorded during the same sessions as Unrelaxed but has a very different mood, most of the songs are around the ten minute mark and it has a much doomier musical approach, with heavy nods to bands like The Gathering and 70's underrated legends Frank Marino and Mahogany Rush.
Where can we listen to your band and where can we buy your stuff?
Head over to the Howling Invocations bandcamp, where you will find all of my solo albums as well as the music I have done with Tommy Concrete and the Werewolves and Psychotic Depression. https://howlinginvocations.bandcamp.com/
For those of you who do Spotify you can find my artist page here. https://open.spotify.com/artist/4K3A8izO8ytLsrW2r5iRvd?si=XqjvzSRASxurFRnzv77Tow
Thanks for the interview and support, it was fun to do.