There is a damned lot of popular stoner and southern rock bands, the modern doom rock scene is overcrowded, and it’s our sacred duty to search for you bands which are worth of your precious time and consideration! Castero are from Ireland, they’re active since 2006 and their first album “Consequence of Thoughts” (2010) was warmly welcomed by those who do value heavy bluesy drive and good riffs. It was good work, but second full-length “Revolutions” is a real big step towards European heavy scene. Take care and check Castero killer “He Must Rule” while reading this interview with our honoured guest Johnny Mc Mahon (vocals, guitars). Support Revolution!
Hi Johnny! How are you comrade? How many portion of ale did you finished for previous weekend?
Hi Aleks, I’m doing great. I don’t drink that much anymore so just the 2 cases for me last weekend.
Sorry man, I just have taken two portions of ale, that’s why I’m asking. Okay I see that you have big news and Castero second full-length album “Revolutions” is already published – my congratulations! So what kind of meaning do you put in this sonorous title?
Yes at last we have a new record out after a 3 year struggle with band members coming and going and recording sessions that didn’t make the light of day but its finally done and dusted and we are really happy with the finished product. The title “Revolutions” came about due to the changes in the bands line up and the theme running through some of the tracks. It seemed fitting to call it that!!
I hear it in every song of “Revolutions” man – Castero sounds more professional and bloody masterfully, the band really grew up since “Consequence of Thoughts” release. How did you practice your skills for last 3 years to gain such good result? Did you spend this period in sacred meditation in your cellar studio or did you pilgrimage to holy places of Ireland or pubs and bordellos?
We held Black Masses and got some wizards to help us find the gift haha. No, with the line up changing we got in two new members in Richie Donovan on guitar and Davy Doyle on drums and they brought their own expertise to the Castero ranks both in the playing and writing department, Richies guitar melodies catchy hooks & solos really add something extra to the tracks. We haven’t gigged that much over the 3 year period because of not having a steady line up but that’s all sorted now and onwards we ride to greater things. We are all settled in to the Cazzie way of life now.
Do you mean that you just got two new guys from the street and let them take a part in songs’ composing? Do you rely on them? How do you share responsibilities in Castero?
The two new guys in Richie and Dave were in other bands and Davy is still with another band in Dublin. Richie was previously with Fivewilldie and Wardog so he was already a proven guitarist and songwriter, some of the tracks on the album were written before the lads joined but little things were changed on those like drumming sections etc. We always like each member to add their own touch to the songs. They are both excellent musicians and really added more to Castero, myself and Bob are old hands in the band but we all get along great and I can see us going from strength to strength with this Castero line-up (Mark V) J
The first song that supposes to be a teaser for a new album is “He Must Rule”. It’s a bloody hit – you know it. What do people usually say about this song? Does this bait work well enough to lure new listeners?
“He must Rule” has been received very well and its lyrical content is based on the Cuban revolution, Castro being exiled and returning to oust Batista in the late 50’s and taking control of the country. The track has had loads of airplay all over the globe so far and its really catching peoples attention and getting us new fans which is what its all about.
Castero is active for about 7 years, did you ever get any feedback from Cuba? What were most unusual and odd responses which the band got?
I don’t actually think we have any Cuban fans, I must check that out, we haven’t looked into the Cuban music scene at all but we must do. We are not aiming ourselves directly about Castro as I’ve said to you in the past its just a play on words and revolutionaries being a theme which takes us to this point and an album called Revolutions, bit of a coincidence there that I forgot about.
Odd requests from fans hmmm well the normal signing of tits after shows is one of those Rock star moments haha but that didn’t happen tome it was one of the others, I wont mention names though! We also get requests to play for birthday parties (21st birthdays which is a bit odd too), next it’ll probably be weddings haha.
I guess that such question is still important: did you find a label for Castero? And how active the band was since release of “Consequence of Thoughts” release? Did you tour somewhere besides Ireland?
We don’t have a label yet but we haven’t contacted any labels or had any offers as of yet, we’re hoping to tie up a good distro deal first and get the album out there and then with a bit of luck someone might take a shine to our sound and puts us on the books, its not a priority but it would be nice. We haven’t ventured outside our homeland either yet but a European tour is planned for next year, we’ll probably do Holland, France, Germany, Belgium and the UK for the first one.
But the Cds are already pressed, isn’t it? How can listeners support Castero in this hard time of revolutionary struggle?
We have the first run of cds pressed they are mainly on sale for live shows and for anyone who wants a hard copy the old fashioned way via post, we also have the digital format through our bandcamp page ( castero69.bandcamp.com ) for streaming and download and the price of the album is very reasonable. When bands do it themselves without label backing it can put a financial strain on the band to make back what they put in or even break even but we love what we do so we keep going. Never say Die!!
I remember that Ozzy is one of your favorite vocalists on heavy scene and first verses of “He Must Rule” remind me about that. Did you hear last Black Sabbath album? Is it worth of listening?
I’m still a big Ozzy fan even though he’s pushing on in years, I have to say the new Sabbath album is a really good album, far better than what I was expecting, its always good to see the pioneers of Metal produce a gem of an album and 13 is just that.
Would you like to be like Ozzy one day? :-) Hah, oh I know it’s not politically correct question, so did you want to be a rock star when you were kid?
I’d like his money but not his wife haha
I grew up in the late 70’s and into the 80’s when the mainstream was full of shit bands on keyboards electro pop type stuff, I always hated that and then I discovered Iron Maidens Powerslave one day and it all changed from there, I loved the sound of Dave Murray and Adrian Smith, I’d never seen anything like it and straight away I was hooked. I then picked up a guitar and amp when I was 13 and started playing with friends covering old 60’s stuff like the Troggs and The Animals and then onto Maiden tunes which led to joining local thrash bands.
“Too Much Sleep” is too strange name for song ‘cause you know it – we live in era when everyone hurry up everywhere! None of us have time enough for sleep, how did you solve that problem Johnny? What’s this song about?
Too Much Sleep was written a few years ago, I was listening to the band Sleep a lot at the time and that’s where I got the title, I was jamming out a riff and thought that sounds like Sleep and took it from there, the lyrics are loosely based on a out of body experience so I took it onto a space Journey with the flying express train being the spaceship and also suspended animation came into the theme. It’s a song I love playing live because it always takes me away from reality for those 5 minutes or so!!
I remember that your killer song “Smokes of Doom” (from “Consequence of Thoughts”) has a funny yet didactic story behind it as it was based on your own personal experience (http://www.doommantia.com/2010/05/interview-with-johnny-mac-from-castero.html). What kind of revelations did you expose in new songs?
The new songs are kind of a different approach in my lyric writing, I based most tracks on certain subjects like The Chase is based on John Dillinger and Warped mind is based on the unknown and not knowing what is out there, I have taken more time in writing lyrics than before as I have done draft after draft and came back and changed certain parts, the only exception being Surrender of the damned, I didn’t want to change that because the meaning of the song is in the two different sections and repeated. To me I couldn’t change that because I find it works and suits the anger in the theme of damnation.
How do you plan to support “Revolution” release? And what’s about Ireland scene and listeners? Do you support each other there in Eire?
Well we have a load of shows coming up in the next few months to support the album and we’ll be playing Revolutions in full along with some new and old stuff. We cant wait to get out gigging after the album took so long to wrap up, its like the album is done now so lets go and play it live.
The Irish scene is still a funny one, loads more venues are closed down so theres not a lot of places to play and bands don’t always get along with each other apart from some counties like Limerick where they have close relations within the local scene, outside that bands are like rivals in fighting for gigs and a bit of back stabbing etc but most of the bands we know do get along so its just a few rotten apples trying to spoil the fun for others. We in Castero are an easy bunch of lads who get on with most bands. We like to play and party afters!! It should always be fun or else theres no point I think…
Fidel Castro passed away 5 years ago, the band title reminds me of him every time I listen your songs; why don’t you have a song dedicated for this virtuous revolutionary besides “He Must Rule”?
Fidel is alive and kicking, well just about haha, He Must Rule is a song about him and for his beliefs and I said when writing the lyrics for it that I have to pen a song about him because of the Castero (Castro) naming. It just came about without any real planning but it seems to work in that song.
Okay, Johnny, then let us finish this interview with my wishes to you for gaining such good reputation and achievements as comrade Castro had! Good luck man!
Cheers for the interview man, its always a pleasure to talk with you.
Final thoughts are go and buy or even just listen to the album, its 30 minutes out of your life which is not a lot and we hope listeners will like what they hear. It is a step up for us in terms of writing and structures and they is plenty more to come!!
Now I’m off for an ale or 10 ;)