Hong Kong metal band Shepherds the Weak talk about their latest album release
Fresh from their launch show at Hidden Agenda, guitarist Glenn Bogador and bassist Tommi Svinhufvud talk to the Post about the local scene and the process of self-producing their album Biformity
After their recent album launch show at Hidden Agenda, guitarist Glenn Bogador and Finnish bass player Tommi Svinhufvud of local metal band Shepherds The Weak spoke to the Post about their latest release, Biformity.
How did the band form?
Bogador: we started in 2001. We were originally called Milk and Cookies. Please don’t ask us to explain why.
Where did the name Shepherds The Weak come from?
Bogador: from the movie Pulp Fiction”. Samuel L. Jackson’s character read a verse from the Bible which mentions “shepherds the weak”. . The funny thing is that Bible verse doesn’t exist.
How is Biformity different from your debut?
Bogador: it represents us embracing our true identity. It got tiring trying to swim between being a metal and hard core band. The new album is all of us collectively allowing our true musical influences to speak through our writing, but we still love those old tunes.
Are there any main themes on this record?
Svinhufvud: we see it as a description of how people and things have two sides to them, like the “wolfboy” on the cover. We’re a loud, angry metal band, but at the same time, we’re really laid-back, nice guys who have jobs, families, and kids outside the band. Some of songs on the album reflect this duality.
Have you always self-produced?
Bogador: yes. It’s the only way for a metal band to do it in Hong Kong. You can make an album in your bedroom and have someone from a different country mix it. And we have absolute creative control.
Why did you choose Black Rain and 2083 A.D. as lead singles?
Svinhufvud: 2083 A.D. is one of the songs that really stands out from the album, as it has a different feel to it, and is very melodic. We are very proud of it, so we wanted to get it out there.
Bogador: I think Black Rain is the most accessible song on the album. It’s a little easier to latch onto if you’re just discovering us.
How have the songs been received so far?
Bogador: really well. A lot of our old school friends are really happy to hear us sticking to our guns.
Svinhufvud: it’s still early days, but the first reviews have been really positive, and people like our music video for Black Rain.
How did you end up working with [filmmaker] Jacqueline Donaldson on the video?
Bogador: she’s been a friend of ours since [the release of 2013 EP] Aeons and we knew she’s a filmmaker. She’s cool and knows her stuff, so she was the obvious choice to work with.
The album artwork was created by Santino Baraquiel. How did you come across him and his work?
Bogador: we played [Philippines music festival] Pulp Summer Slam back in 2009 and we met Santino around that time. He’s super talented and his style fits us very well. Many of the people we work with are good friends.
How did the launch go?
Svinhufvud: there was something special about that night. The audience was one of the best we’ve ever had, and everyone had a blast.
Has your way of writing changed since the band first began?
Bogador: we are a “feel” and “groove” band and have never been overly concerned with theory, so when we write we always make sure it moves us first. The process though is still the same. I mainly arrange the songs. Tommi writes most of our lyrics with input from Terence [Salinas, vocals] and Richie [Paril, vocals]. Bryan [Vallejo, guitar] and I come up with guitar parts, and Mike [Salcedo, drums] oversees the whole thing and adds changes here and there.
What do you make of the metal scene in Hong Kong?
Svinhufvud: for a city of 7.5 million people, the metal scene is pretty small. Having said that, everyone in the metal scene really is in the metal scene. The people who come to shows live and breathe metal, and support the bands to the full.
How has it changed since 2001?
Bogador: there are more talented bands nowadays – and more guitar shredders. It makes me want to go practise.
Svinhufvud: Hong Kong is a city that really does not support local underground bands, and there are not a huge number of venues for metal bands. The government tries to close venues down, and “develop” areas where this activity happens, but we have organisations that work hard to support underground music, such as Hidden Agenda, Hong Kong Metal Alliance, The Wanch, The Underground and Clockenflap.
What are your plans after the release of this album?
Svinhufvud: naturally, we want to play as many shows as we possibly can, in Hong Kong, in the Philippines, and hopefully China as well.
Bogador: to become as big as Metallica, tour the world and quit our jobs – sigh.
Biformity is out now