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Band Interviews Features Interviews

An Interview with Hiran Deraniyagala of Battlecross

Battlecross has got to be one of the Vault crew’s favorite bands to catch live. Hailing from Michigan and constantly touring, these masters of death thrash produce high energy shows full of blistering riffs and scorching leads! We were lucky enough to catch up with guitarist Hiran Deraniyagala to talk about the current state of thrash metal, their tour with Superjoint, and more!

Indy Metal Vault: What is the history behind Battlecross and how did the band start?

Battlecross Hiran Deraniyagala

Hiran Deraniyagala: Tony Asta and myself both started the band back in 2004. We started out as a four piece. Tony was actually doing guitar and vocals on that. Different bassist and different drummer. We did that in the local scene for a few years and we split ways with the other guys and it was just Tony and I left. And we went a different direction with the band and kind of got heavier on the instruments. Around 2007 is when our drummer Mike Kreger joined the band and our original vocalist Marshall Wood. And that’s when this sound of Battlecross started. We just locked ourselves up and began writing some songs and getting some tunes down. Then we started playing locally again. We were doing the local scene for a while and our original bass player left in 2008. That’s when Don Slater stepped in and then 2009 to 2010 our vocalist Gumby (Kyle Gunther) joined the band. We actually recorded our album with the old vocalist and at the time Kyle had joined we were also talking to Metal Blade. When talking to Metal Blade they wanted to hear some stuff with him on it so we recorded some tracks with him. They dug it so we got hooked up with Metal Blade right around 2010 and we put out Pursuit of Honor in 2011. So that’s the beginning of this band and like I said, we were doing a lot of stuff locally. We did some stuff out of state but when we got signed to Metal Blade and put out our first record we did any tour that we could get. We put ourselves to work. Any offer that came through we were jumping on it. We knew that we had to get out there and prove ourselves.

IMV: You guys are heavily influenced by thrash. What made you all decide upon the genre?

HD: I’d say we are a mixture of thrash and melodic death metal. Its just been taking our influences and more or less putting them together in a way of creating songs that we’ve always wanted to hear or taking parts of songs that we like and mashing that together. It wasn’t anything premeditated. We just started writing songs.

IMV: What are your thoughts on thrash? Do you think it will make another full revival and stand up against newer genres?

HD: Thrash has definitely sort of came back within the last ten years or so. I feel like there’s a lot of resurgence of throwback thrash bands. You’re seeing bands like Vektor. They’re kind of doing the throwback thrash but they’re evolving with their sound as well. I think a lot of other thrash bands are doing that as well and other bands are taking that thrash genre and putting their own stamp on it. I think that goes for a lot of metal genres that are out there. Bands are always trying to bring back an old style or reinvent it in their own way. And I think there’s a constant sort of thing that’s going. It has its ups and downs but I think its something that’s continuously happening.

IMV: Battlecross has a couple full-length albums, played huge festivals, sharing the stage with national acts and are signed with a pretty solid label, Metal Blade Records. How did you all accumulate so much success?

Battlecross Rise to PowerHD: Number one I think it’s the hard work ethic that we put out there. We were showing people we were willing to work and also we took risks and when we went out and did tours we tried to be as professional as possible and be easy to work with. When you hear, oh this band is great live, they’re very professional and easy to work with, I think that helps build a good reputation. We’ve also had a lot of success from Liquid Metal. We were getting played a lot on Liquid Metal and getting a lot of requests and I think that was really what was helping us. Being played on Liquid Metal and getting pumped up by Jose Mangin. And then on top of that we were starting to do these tours. I think on our third or fourth tour we were out doing an arena tour with Five Finger Death Punch and Killswitch and that was a huge opportunity for us. And that was because of Zoltan from Five Finger heard us on Liquid Metal and liked the band. I think it’s just a success of putting a lot of effort into our songs and really delivering live and also putting on a professional attitude. I think sometimes it’s easy to get lost in that with touring on the road. The older bands sometimes get worried about the younger bands being party animals. We’re not like that. We’re here to work, be professional, put on a show, be on time and all that stuff. I mean, obviously we like to have fun but its just a mixture of keeping that attitude on the road. I also think to add to the success things its also the interactions we have with our fans. We’re very personable with our fans and were always the band who is hanging out before the set and after the set. We’re hanging out by merch. We’re always open to taking pictures, signing stuff. A lot of that is being approachable and people coming up to talk with us. And we’ve built good friendships with a lot of fans over the years. We have friends that will come out and bring us stuff to help out on the road or whatever. We’ve built a good repertoire with our fans and I think that has also led to the success of where we’re going.

IMV: Your tour kicked off Jan 12th how did the tour form and how has it been going?

HD: Yea, its in full swing and we’re on our fifth show right now. Originally it was Superjoint, Power Trip and Child Bite. While we were doing the Winter Warriors tour we got a phone call and my manager said Power Trip dropped off the tour and Superjoint wants you guys. So it was a last minute thing jumping on the tour with these guys. I’ve met Phil a couple times and talked to him so I think he got familiar with who I was and what band I’m in and I think that helped. As well as our booking agency is the same so I think all those things aligned to work out perfectly. The shows have been incredible so far. We’ve done three shows in Texas, which have been awesome, incredible shows. Its been a lot of fun, the shows have been killer and we’ve been having a good time.

IMV: With it being new year, does Battlecross have anything in store for 2017 or are you just touring off of your last album?

HD: We’re still doing some touring but were also thinking about writing and working on some new stuff because were definitely due for a new album but we’re also taking our time. Still more touring and in between that we will be working on some more writing.

Want to check out Battlecross?:

Click here to go to their website. Make sure you follow them on Facebook here, Twitter here and Instagram here.

Battlecross’ next show will be Wednesday, January 25th at the Emerson Theater with Superjoint and Childbite.

Show starts at 7 p.m. / All Ages

Tickets available here.

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