Xentrix - A Cup Of English Thrash
By: Alon Miasnikov
Interview With: Kristian Stan Havard (Guitar), Xentrix
The Thrash wave that overtook the world in the late 80's did not pass by the UK. Even though bands such as Slammer and Onslaught received some praise and respect in the thrash scene, probably the most important British thrash band of that time was Xentrix. Having heard that the band is active again with its original line up, I contacted the band's guitarist to find out more about the band's past and present.
Hey Kristian, I'd like to start with current events, I understand the band played some shows with the original line-up, does that mean the band is back together, writing new material and such?
The band hasn’t reformed, we just getting back together to play a few shows in our home towns (were from the Preston area and Macka our Bass player comes from Barrow-in-Funess up in Cumbria) We did start to write some new stuff, we decided to direct our energy towards remembering how to play the old stuff…it’s been a while.
Now to some history, can you give us a short history of how did you guys start out?
Sweet Vengeance was started by Chris Astley when he was still at high school and they were doing NWOBHM cover and learning how to play their instruments. In 1986 ,I was in a rival band and I heard that they needed a guitar player, so I gave Chris a call and went for a jam and got the job. After a few line up changes our drummer at the time didn’t want to play metal so he invited Dennis down to a rehearsal and we were blown away. After Macka joined the band in 1988 we got our demo reviewed in Metal Forces Magazine and got signed to Roadrunner in 89.
What other thrash bands operated in the UK back then?
Slammer, Onslaught, Acid Reign, Sabbat and Re-animator were the main bands playing at the time ( hope I havn’t forgotten anyone)
How was the name Xentrix conceived, and what does it mean?
I think it started as eccentrics and then we decided to make a word that just would be related to the band and nothing else. We actually all hate the name and we just somehow got stuck with it.
You did a tour with Sabbat back in 89', what do you recall from that tour?
That tour was our first time playing with a band that had played to more than 20 people, it was awesome. I remember Sabbat had taken out a security company called Principle security and they actually helped people stage dive it was insane... and very cool also.
You received a lot of press attention because of the Ghostbusters Single, what made you guys decide to cover the song, and did you guys regret doing so?
We did the Ghostbusters thing mainly just for laughs, it was a time when you were supposed to take yourself totally seriously and we wanted to goof around with things and laugh at ourselves. We did regret the fact that it was our most popular recording and people didn’t know us for anything else, but when we played it live the pit was intense, people went nuts, the stage diving was incredible.
For Whose Advantage was quite a progression from your first album, what do you think did it include that made it as good as it turned out?
For whose advantage, was more thought out and technical, we spent more time on the songs and had more musical capabilities, we actually all hate the sound of that record, particularly the guitar sound and would change it if we could, but most of the songs are pretty good and stand up even today.
The thrash metal scene died out after that, why do you suppose such great bands such as Slammer or Onslaught threw in the towel?
It’s hard to keep going when your playing gigs to 30 people and making no money, and I mean... NO money, bands can only slug it out for so long.
Why did Chris leave the band after the recording of Kin?
Chris left because the interest in the band was pretty much zero, also we had been dropped by Roadrunner and couldn’t get another deal. The once exciting U.K. thrash scene was over, grunge music took over and heavy metal was a really un-cool type of music to play.
How happy were you with your last album, Scourge?
Scourge was a different band (The only reason we kept the name Xentrix was to actually get the deal in the first place) and we tried to get a different sound, I am still very proud of that album, but I don’t see it as a Xentrix album.
Why did the band stop making music after it was released?
After Scourge finally came out we did a handful of dates, mostly to an audience of about 30 and it just felt as though it was time to call it a day
What were you doing as a musician since?
Dennis, Andy, Simon and myself carried on playing cover tunes for a while, just to keep playing, but after a few years it wasn’t what I wanted to do so I stopped.
How did the regrouping of the band take place?
Macka asked us all to get back together and play for his birthday in his hometown of Barrow, so we all agreed and set about the task of relearning the old stuff
To sum up the interview, what kind of metal music do you listen to these days, and do you write music that's influenced by current music or similar to your older material?
I really like Killswitch, Arch enemy, Machine Head, In Flames, I just bought the new Children of Bodom album and it’s really cool, I like old stuff too like Preist, Sabbath and Maiden, and I saw the Scorpions in Germany last year and they still were awesome. We have done a bit of writing and I would say that the stuff I was coming up with has been influenced by the newer bands, maybe with some old school thrash thrown in for good measure. I think Metal music is really strong at the moment there are loads of great bands out there and as for me I love Heavy Metal and I can’t understand anyone that doesn’t, so you can count on me to always be a die hard fan.