Metallion has grown the pluck up. The little festival with maximum roar has carved a foothold in the Prince George summer and the evidence is flying in today from Michigan. Metallion is announcing its hard-earned authority with the blue-collar thrash of metal stars Battlecross.
"They played Loud As Hell Festival in Drumheller last year," said Metallion's Prince George organizer Brad Foster. When he talked to the Drumheller organizers about which bands were both good on stage and good to work with behind the scenes, Battlecross got recommended.
According to Battlecross band member Kyle "Gumby" Gunther, the feeling was mutual.
"I love me some Canada," he told The Citizen just before the band caught the plane for P.G. "When they offered it we were taking a break for a minute and they said 'hey, you wanna play a Canadian festival?' and we were like 'f*@k yeah we do.'"
There's not much financial return for a thrash metal band performing international shows, with all the costs of travel, but Battlecross is a band that puts experience ahead of finance as long as the basic bills get paid.
"I've been on three continents screaming into a microphone. I wouldn't have been able to do any of that if I'd just sat at home and been scared of the world. We went out and we lived some life," Gunther said. "We beat ourselves into the ground to do this, because we love it so much. I don't go to shows anymore because I want to get up on stage myself. Rrrrawwww...lemme up there! It's what we love to do. We're not fakes about it, we work hard, and it's what we love. If you're not willing to have that as payment, you should probably not do it."
Battlecross has been slamming out a reputation since 2003. There have been lineup changes. Some family members have passed away while others were born. The business side of the music industry has sometimes been painful. But they have four studio albums, the two most recent landing in the Top 5 on the Billboard Heatseekers chart and both cracking into the Billboard Top 200 overall album chart. Six of their singles have video support. They have also performed or otherwise collaborated with a who's who of the metal world.
But Gunther has one three-word mantra for the aspiring musicians of the world. He doesn't mean to be cynical but he was emphatic about it.
"If you really want to know (what the music industry is really like), bro, I'll crush your dreams so quick," he said. "When kids come up to me and ask my advice I tell them go to college. 'Well, no, how do I make it music?' Go to college. Go. To. College."
Which does not at all mean avoid the stage and quash your musical creativity. By all means embrace it, he said, just make sure you're building a certified life foundation. Get a degree in the classroom while you're rehearsing in the garage.
All of this advice comes in rapid fire bursts of conversation. Gunther is animated and excitable on almost any topic.
He said, "People say I should do comedy, because I refuse to go on stage and be (taking on a faux growl) the serious badass metal guy. Let's just have some fun. Life is s*@t. Might as well forget about it for a half hour. Don't wallow in it."
Did he say half an hour? At Metallion he and Battlecross have a 77 minute set. This is a headliner, here.
"Seventy-seven minutes...That makes my throat hurt just thinking about it," he laughed.
It's plenty of time to scorch out some songs and also burn his band mates. You see, they all cut their hair, and Gunther is ripe to rib them about it.
"I'm still mad about it," he said. "We might have to do something special where the long-hairs make fun of them."
Foster said the pending appearance of Battlecross still feels surreal. He was bowled over when they accepted the offer "to come and play in the middle of a 100-acre field in the geographical centre of B.C. for hundreds of diehard metal fans. Also, on top of the business side, I am a fan. I was turned onto them by Deveined band members Sean Robinson and Les Figura about five years ago. Battlecross shreds. Pure metal. I can't wait to hear them screaming over the Brookside Resort's field, under the stars, everyone there in a positive vibe - kind of an end to summer for the metal festivals."
The Metallion festival is on today and Saturday about an hour's drive west of Prince George. Twenty-five bands are on the bill. Passes are for sale at the gate.