Richmond VA’s Enforced have been making a name for themselves among thrash/crossover enthusiasts since the release of their 2017 debut At The Walls.
Little wonder, since Richmond has long been a breeding ground for some of the best music out of the east coast.
Recently signed to Century Media, the band has just released their killer new record Kill Grid. We caught up with guitarist Will Wagstaff to talk about the record, Richmond, and old school metal setups.
What’s in the water in Richmond that the city churns out so many great bands, from Avail to GWAR to Strike Anywhere to Municipal Waste to Enforced?
Richmond is a great city with a very tight knit, eclectic, art, tatto, food, music, skateboarding, scene. There is so much alternative culture here that I think it brings a lot of very interesting people together into the same place.
How did the band deal with the lockdowns in 2020/2021? Did you guys end up spending more time on Kill Grid than you might otherwise have, either in writing or recording?
Lockdown has sucked man! We haven’t been able to tour, which is the number one thing we like doing.
I think we have been focusing more on writing, practicing these new songs a ton and just getting to be as tight as possible so that when we come back we are not rusty. Most of Kill Grid was written in 2019 actually and we could’ve recorded a little bit sooner than I think we actually did go to the studio, but only by a couple months.
Were you guys at all slow to put out a record that you can’t immediately tour behind?
I think so a little bit honesty. We want to make the biggest bang we can obviously and I think touring is a huge part of that. We’ve done some cool video assets that I’m hoping will keep people’s pallets wet so when touring finally comes back we can hit it hard and play some awesome shows.
How did things with Century Media come about? That’s a pretty prestigious label! How has working with them been different to how you’re used to releasing records with your previous bands?
Yeah they are an important label to metal and tons of my favorite releases were released or shown new light by Century.
Basically, Phillip who is now head of AR hit us up and was like “yo I came across you guys on bandcamp and I’m interested in chatting” and I definitely thought it was someone just bull shitting us but we ended up chatting that same day and he kind of told me what his vision was going forward and how Century is hoping to take some of the label back to a more old school/roots approach and I was like hell yeah that is badass!!
So it was very friendly and simple and they’ve been great to work with. It’s been a more official process, but Melanie, who is our now AR person has been so amazing. There is some red tape, yada yada, but I think ultimately with the goal being to play shows, tour as much as we can, and get our music out there, they’re doing a great job.
So guitars! What did you guys use on the new record in terms of guitars/amps/pedals?
We use just old school metal setups. Zach and I essentially use the same stuff but different years, some different pickup combos etc. so I will only be speaking for myself.
I play BC Rich and Jackson guitars. My main guitar is a 2016 BC Rich NJ Series Warlock – neck through, 24 frets, DiMarzio Super D in bridge, PAF Pro in neck position. Original floyd, planet waves locking tuners. Amps are vintage JCM800 2203. Mesa Rectifier cabs with V30s. EQ, noise suppressor, TS9 and a tuner.
That’s pretty much the tone!!!
Did you have any reference records going into Kill Grid in terms of how you wanted the finished product to sound?
I love how just balls to the wall the Slayer records are. They are always pushing the mid range and we do that too a bit. I also love the guitar tones on Heartwork which are 5150s- I asked Bob to try to go for Heartwork but more old school Slayer type of tone.
The album has been done for a while now, is there any new Enforced material in the works?
Yes there are a few songs that are “done” – I say this in quotations because we are constantly changing stuff and it seemingly only gets really solidified once we’ve actually cut the track in the studio LOL!
Obviously you guys have only just released the record, but I’m curious if there was anything from the recording session that was maybe a lightbulb moment, or things that worked in the practice room that didn’t translate on record, that you guys will take to writing your next record?
I think the toughest thing regarding metal is being fresh and new and innovative. We definitely prefer like old school metal and so trying to innovate on that is somewhat difficult because we are kind of nostalgic and don’t want to stray too far from the past when it comes to just bashing you over the head with speed and brutality.
I think we will always be trying to push the song writing/catchiness in hook writing whether it’s lyrics or riffs or whatever. I think as we all progress more and more on our instruments the music will get someone more technical as well.
If someone wanted to learn a song from Kill Grid – where would you suggest they start? Any riffs or passages that are particularly fun to play?
I saw a guy recently did a guitar cover of Malignance and I think that was probably a good choice, it’s a fairly straight forward song and is pretty easy to play by ear, but it still has some cool chug/lead riff parts to throw in some complication. My favorite riff on the record may be the end breakdown on UXO.
Does the band have any 2021 plans, or are you still in a holding pattern?
We are somewhat holding as things kind of open back up. We’ve been in discussions about a few things but right now they are just irons in the fire.