Eric Ireland is into classical music.
Classic heavy metal, that is.
He’s the lead singer and guitarist of Nemesis, a Whitehorse thrash-metal band that celebrates its tenth anniversary with one of its raucous, ear-bleeding, bone-rattling shows at the Jarvis Saloon on Saturday.
Over the past decade, new bands have tried to meld metal with rap, pop and other musical genres. Not Nemesis.
“That’s just something we’ve never cared for,” said Ireland. “We’re purists.”
By that, he means their music is modeled on the sound of Judas Priest, Iron Maiden and Slayer.
And Ireland has noticed a revival of this classic metal sound of late, with the rise in popularity of Canadian metal acts like Three Inches of Blood, Cauldron and Savage Blade.
“I think metal is coming full circle,” he said.
Ireland formed Nemesis while in high school with two other core members: Mike Jones on guitar and Yves Paradis on drums. They’ve seen a revolving-door of bassists over the years, but that job has been held for several years now by Glen Emond.
From the start, the band built a reputation as “young teens who could really play the old school stuff, and play it well,” said Ireland.
Ireland, 27, became a metal fan early in life. He credits the Deep Purple tape that was always playing in his father’s pickup.
Then he found a copy of Metallica’s Kill ‘Em All when he was about 10. By then, there was no turning back.
Ireland found that music exhilarating then. “Now, it’s kind of soothing,” he said with a chuckle.
Nemesis has released two albums: a self-titled release in 2005, and Bad Blood in 2007.
“We should have more albums than we do,” said Ireland. But there’s always demand for Nemesis to play classic metal covers. And, for the past year, they’ve doubled as the backup band to JJS3, fronted by Jonas Smith.
Nemesis is loud. Once, during a show at the Alsek music festival in Haines Junction, a technician gauged them above 130 decibels.
That’s equivalent to hearing a four-engine jet plane take off from 30 metres.
“Nobody would stand at the front,” said Ireland.
In the early days, Nemesis was the house band for the old Capital Hotel bar. Once during that time, drug dealers tried to pay off the band to wrap up their set. “They didn’t like our music,” said Ireland.
“We just turned it up louder and played faster. As soon as we got off the stage, we got out of there as fast as we could, for our own safety.”
Ireland’s received a few fat lips during performances, after rowdy mosh-pit participants slammed into his mike stand. He usually responded in kind, with his boot.
“We were the guys you’d be kicking out of your house parties,” said Ireland. “We were maniacs.
“By the way,” he adds. “You should put this in: We’re still maniacs. We just don’t get kicked out of parties any more.”
Saturday’s show starts around 10 p.m. Ireland suggests arriving early. Cover is $5. Whitehorse punk-rockers the Kung Fu Aliens are opening.
Nemesis will also play at Whitehorse’s Sunstroke Festival on Friday, June 24.
Then Ireland is heading to Europe.
“I’m going on a heavy metal pilgrimage,” he said.
First stop is the Masters of Rock festival in the Czech Republic.
Then Ireland plans to visit the Auschwitz concentration camp in Poland.
“It’s sort of a morbid fascination I have,” he said.
Then it’s on to see Viking artifacts in Sweden, followed by the Wacken Open Air Festival in Germany. It’s billed as the world’s biggest outdoor heavy metal concert, attended by upwards of 80,000 people.
“It’s huge,” he said.
Ireland attended in 2008, when Iron Maiden headlined.
“It gets pretty gnarly. Weird smells.”
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