Jason Tarpey of Eternal Champion kindly talks to us about hammers, hot steel, and good old American heavy metal…
Hi Jason, 2016 has been a year of ups and downs. You and your mates in Eternal Champion have certainly given us one of the better highlights with The Armor of Ire.
Thank you, it has been a rough year for a lot of people for a lot of different reasons, we’re glad our album could offer a ray of light to some.
There is a revival of epic metal in the US with bands like While Heaven Wept, Slough Feg and Khemmis. Do you feel a part of this movement?
Yes we do feel a part of it, America started this thing we call epic heavy metal, but after Manilla Road laid the ground work Europe took epic heavy metal flag and bore it for the entire world. Now, we are seeing a return to the glory of American Epic Heavy Metal and it’s back where it started, with Manilla Road still going strong and a handful of other great bands popping up all over the States.
Texas Metal was a trademark in the 80s and early 90s. Is there still much of a ‘scene’ left out there? Are there any promising Texas metal bands we should be looking out for?
Yes Texas has a glorious history of heavy metal, some of my favorite bands of the 80’s were bands kicking around here and only releasing a demo, maybe an EP. Nowadays the scene is not as it once was, but places like San Antonio and Houston still seem to have a love for traditional heavy metal. Venomous Maximus, Expander, Power Trip, are a few bands that I love but there isn’t much new traditional heavy metal being played right now that I think is worthy of mentioning.
Coming back to your album. Now that some time has passed since the release – is there anything you would do differently?
Yeah added another song so everyone would just shut up about the length!
My friends and colleagues agree that ‘I am the Hammer’ has an absolutely crushing main riff. Was it inspired by anything in particular?
Yes it was inspired by a hammer striking hot steel at the anvil. Blake wrote that riff and I think he was just trying to write the hardest riff that people have heard in years.
It’s a pretty impressive leap from your split EP with Gatekeeper to opening up Keep It True, the biggest Underground Metal festival in the world. Can you talk us through this journey?
We had a long break in between the release of the split and the release of our debut full length, in that time we did some house cleaning, got our minds right, and tried to craft an album that is undeniable. That work, I think, is what gave us the opportunity to play Keep It True.
Have you got much planned in the run up to KIT?
Yes we have a Texas weekend coming up in March with Sumerlands and Magic Circle, then we go to play Keep It True and a one-off gig in Munich. Then we come home try to demo some new material before June when we will fly up to New York to play Defenders Of The Old festival. It’s shaping up to be a good year.
Most people would agree that The Armor of Ire is reminiscent of early Manilla Road and Cirith Ungol. How do you feel about sharing the stage with Mark Shelton and Tim Baker next year?
Every time I get the chance to share the stage with Mark it is very special for me, I really look up to the man and as an artist he has given my life so much. As for Cirith Ungol, that is something I thought would never happen so it is very surreal to have it happen all at once in Germany. I think a portal might be opened at KIT and Conan and Elric will come stepping through to hail this conjunction of the spheres of epic heavy metal coming together.
I understand you are also a professional blacksmith. I saw some amazing stuff on your ‘Hammerhall Forge’ Facebook page, like the chess set, and battle axe bottle openers. Is there any chance of some special edition handmade merchandise making its way over to Germany for KIT?
Yep, black smithing is what I do nowadays to put food on the table and I also do it because I love it. I would do it even if I lost money doing it. It is therapy for me, striking the hot steel. Hopefully I will have time to forge some little things that I can bring over to Germany without customs going ape shit. I wish I could bring some axes and swords to sell but I doubt that can happen haha. Anyone reading this can get in touch with me through my Hammerhall Forge Facebook page and I can make anything custom, from swords to kitchen utensils.
Any last words to the Eternal Champion supporters?
Thank you for the support, blood and souls for Arioch!!
There is also a German translation of this interview available from the good people over at Streetclip.tv