1. Where did your GBHBL moniker come from?
Well mine is my Xbox Live gamertag. That came from my love of Terry Pratchett’s Discworld series. I wanted something that reflected my love of the world, not just an individual character. It was originally The Disc 84 as just The Disc wasn’t available but a few years ago Microsoft released thousands of unused account names back into the wild and I checked to see if it was available & it was!
2. What made you want to write?
Man where do I start…I’ve always enjoyed writing. As a kid I used to write short horror stories having been inspired by the Goosebumps series. I had my own running series called ‘The Monster Zone’ that went up to at least 10! Once I hit my teenage years I stopped for a bit but became inspired by a few low-key horror movie sites (eatmybrains.com) and magazines like Fangoria. I had a brief run with a few gig review sites before I took to blogging daily over at True Achievments.
I like to think I had a fair bit of success there with my most popular moment being my live blogging of my 7-day survivor run in Dead Rising (a feat that takes some doing). Eventually I decided I wanted to start my own site that would focus on my gaming history. It was called ‘disc does retro’ with the plan being to draw in readers from my blog on TA.
It did OK, I didn’t work that much on it really but it slowly began to morph into what we see today. More writers, more content and I couldn’t be happier or prouder of it.
3. What area of GBHBL would you say is your strongest?
I’d probably say the horror movie side of things. It’s often the part that I feel most comfortable with but lately I’ve been loving writing album reviews. As a huge rock and metal fan it’s really easy for me to get lost in a great new piece of music and I love sharing that with our readers.
I also think I’m good at writing free to play mobile gaming reviews as I like to focus on the important aspects of those…the in-app purchases. I see far too many other sites just gloss over the in-app purchases which I think is unacceptable considering that is often the entire nature of these ‘games’.
4. What would you like to see in terms of growth over the next few years?
Well the most obvious is more readers & followers. We struggle on Facebook and it can be frustrating. Some might think that we spam their feeds but we’re a prolific site and can churn out articles at an intense rate. It’s not a quality over quantity thing either as I personally think we consistently put out high quality articles. I’d like to see us reach 180,000 hits by the end of 2016. We’re only 40-odd thousand away so it’s not out of the realms of possibility.
Oh and I love to see the forums grow, that is something we’re struggling with. Fancy registering?
5. If you could add one new category to the site, wat would it be?
Wrestling. It’s a big market and I’d love to be able to write reviews for the weekly shows etc. but it’s a huge under-taking that requires speed and effort. I would be forced to focus on that to the detriment of other areas and I don’t want to do that. Throw in that it’s often hard to sit through a 3 hour Raw show so I just don’t see it ever happening.
6. What is your favourite memory in gaming? That moment that just made you go, wow?
I have a few here, be warned there will be spoilers. The first that comes to mind is a modern game, Thomas Was Alone. It’s one of my favourite games and has one of the best soundtracks in gaming ever. I remember that moment when I realised what I was going to have to do to Thomas and his friends, that their deaths would bring life to others. I put my controller down and just sat there for a few minutes trying to take it all in. Crushing but absolutely amazing…gaming is a fucking art.
Playing Goldeneye with my brothers back in the day, we would do split screen multi-player with the rule being proximity mines only. It was so much fun.
Beating Ornstein and Smough in Dark Souls, I don’t think I’ve celebrated that much for doing something in a game ever!
Oh, and just being blown away by the first time I saw it snow in Shenmue. That still amazes me.
7. What does the achievement/trophy system mean to you?
The system is genius, extending the life of a game and adding challenges that often can’t be found elsewhere. The system can force people to try things they never would, play modes they never would and just strive to do everything possible in a game. For me it changed the way I play games for the positive mostly, sure it has it’s drawbacks with many a gamer losing sight of why we even game at all but for me it’s enhanced my experience and it’s something that will likely be around forever now.
8. Where do you see the future of gaming?
The doom and gloom side of me worries that we’re moving further into a more casual, free to play style of gaming. The mobile market has been flooded by pay to win games and it infuriates me how that side of gaming is ignored by many ‘big’ review sites. 10 minutes of game play followed by a cash wall isn’t what I & many want but the casual market loves this shit! I mean look how nuts everyone has gone for Pokemon Go? A free to play with some shocking in-app purchases. It’s making so much money though & many other companies will have taken notice of that.
On a more positive side, the console market is very exciting and there is plenty of innovation begin shown with gaming. The indie market is very exciting but is also open to abuse, the saturation of Steam is a good example. I do think indie, small budget yet imaginative & exciting games are definitely the future on consoles.
A lot of people have said to me that download only, non-physical copies is part of the future but for me that requires the customer to get on board, we all saw what happened when Microsoft tried to tell their fanbase what they would be allowed to do back when the Xbox One was first announced. The customer will only get on board if it is worth it, if the price is right which brings me to the biggest problem with it. A new game is released today in stores and online…in stories it costs £49.99, for that you get a physical copy. Online the game costs…£49.99 (sometimes £54.99), considering the lack of overheads, how the hell does that makes sense?
Also over the next few weeks & months the price of that game will drop, online that doesn’t happen. There are games in the store online that are over a year old, some even more & still cost full price! You can buy Titanfall brand new in store for less than £10, it is still full price online. Until they get their act together I can’t see online only happening because the gamer won’t support it.
9. Single player or multi-player? Why?
Single player all the way, I pay for stories, I want to enjoy them without some annoying twat singing down a mic or screaming insults at me.
I know that’s an unfair way to sum up multi-player games but it is the majority of high profile gaming experiences & one I’ve had far too often. Simply put if I do play multi-player games every fucker is on mute!
I used to think I would be dead against multi-player only games but having enjoyed Titanfall and Plants vs Zombies recently I think the idea can be good if handled right. Balance is so important.
It’s well worth remembering this in the single player/multi-player debate…in 10 years time the servers for Titanfall are going to be either dead or switched off but your single player story…that’s still playable. We’ve also seen games that were successful with just single player try to jam unwanted multi-player in and fail. Batman: Arkham Origin’s terrible 3 v 3 and Assassins Creed: Unity’s Co-op crap are two quite recent examples.
10. What has been the biggest step-back in gaming for you?
The free to play model, specifically the rise of free to play mobile gaming. I find the practice disgusting and hate that it’s a model that has proven to be successful. The casual gamer would rather sink hundreds of pounds into a pay to win, pay to play game with next to no gameplay then a fully fledged retail game offering tens of hours of story, gameplay and often multi-player. Games like Clash of Clans and Game of War are raking it in with little effort and I hate that many companies have seen this and are now trying to get on board (Konami and Nintendo to name but two).
Many companies are selling their history & reputation to try and make as much as possible because they can’t be content with just having some money, they must have all the fucking money.
11. Your favourite horror movie, what is it and why?
It’s a toss up between Halloween and The Return of the Living Dead, two movies that couldn’t be more different. I tend to lean towards Halloween more just because of how iconic it is. A movie I can watch over and over again and still love every second if it. It’s chilling, brutal, exciting and satisfying from beginning to end. The many, many bad sequels and the Rob Zombie remake has done nothing to diminish the quality.
The Return of the Living Dead is just a blast, a fun tongue in cheek movie that warms my horror-loving heart.
12. What are your earliest memories regarding horror?
Having folks who didn’t really care too much about age ratings helped turn me into the horror nut you see today. It’s hard to pinpoint exactly where it all started & my memories are pretty vague but my love of The Return of the Living Dead started when I was a kid. I used to be terrified of zombies that could run, the pack mentality of them all working together to eat your brains! Fucking hell.
I saw so many horrors on VHS back in the day…movies that I wouldn’t be able to appreciate until I was much older. The younger me hated A Nightmare on Elm Street (probably because Tina in a body bag scared the shit out of me) but older me thinks it’s one of the finest pieces of horror ever. I remember loving the Critters movies (the first two) and watching a lot of Stephen King horror, like Cujo, IT and Pet Sematary.
Horror has been a major part of making me who I am today, I’m just glad I’m able to appreciate it now!
13. What frustrates you the most about the genre?
The lack of imagination and innovation. I get it, it’s near impossible to come up with a new idea in the genre…everything has been done but the lack of effort in taking what’s there and putting a new spin on it is terrible.
The horror cycle means a certain style of movie is taken and hammered into the ground by sequels, remakes and pure laziness. Don’t believe me…compare the horror scene in the 80s to the horror scene of the last 10 years. It’s miles apart in quality, the rise of the slasher sub-genre was exciting but that was beaten into the ground with sequels and remakes (Ten Friday the 13th movies, one crossover with Freddy and a remake, Seven A Nightmare on Elm Street movies, one crossover with Jason and a remake, Eight Halloween movies, one remake and a sequel to that remake).
The torture porn cycle was initially fresh and new before countless Saw sequels saw that become a laughing stock. Remember how innovative the found-footage idea was at first? Remember how exciting The Blair Witch Project was? Now it’s one of the most insulted sub-genres in horror. I despise it so much that I sincerely believe that a disclaimer should be put on covers or in descriptions saying that the movie you’re about to watch is a found-footage movie.
Unfortunately it’s not getting better as now, for far too long, we’ve been stuck in the spooky/paranormal/ghostly-goings-on cycle that should have died 5 years ago. It’s so frustrating to see yet another jump scare laden movie arrive in the cinema and get moderate success because a casual audience enjoys things jumping out at them and saying boo.
No-one will take a risk anymore in fear of failing. It’s incredibly sad and frustrates me no end.
14. What excites you the most about the genre?
Not a lot to be honest, my interest in TV based horror has waned over the years with shows like The Walking Dead slowly turning me off as it disappears up its own ass. It’s nice to see risks and ideas being taken in TV shows but we’re still not seeing much in the way of imagination.
It does seem as though we’re going to get more risks being taken through the TV side of things but with ratings still being key it’s still always going to be limited. The best area to look is with the streaming services like Netflix and Amazon and it’s nice to see proper adult orientated horror rising up.
15. Where do you see the genre going in the next couple of years?
More of the same really…I’ve gotten tired of waiting for the horror cycle to move on to the next cash grab & I think we’ve got 4 more years of Winter at least. The problem is that the causal horror audience just keep eating these paranormal/ghostly-goings-on movies up. To see the excitement over The Conjuring 2 was a real surprise because that story had been told only recently with a 3-part TV show (you can read that review here) with far better actors and less Hollywood glitz.
I also really don’t like how movies like that are romanticising the Warrens, a devious & nasty pair as far as I’m concerned (all you need to know about the true Warrens is available online).
I think, similar to gaming, that the rise of the small studio, independent & non-cinema films are the future. That’s where imagination is, that’s where scares & horror is. Remember if a movie has got a cinema release its because it’s been perceived as a money maker, for the causal viewer who love any & all jump scares.
Lastly I have to mention shorts, 5-10 minute films that can chill, excite & wow with their delivery & execution. There is a lot of hope for horror when you see these shorts but sadly even these aren’t safe from major studio interference as one of the most successful shorts in recent years (Lights Out) has been turned into a glitzy Hollywood film (due out in August).
16. What got you into metal?
Well my earliest memories regarding rock involve Meat Loaf, he is was a major player in my family. That dude is amazing, incredible pipes on him & he has made some of the most important rock music to ever exist.
Rock music was something that was played a lot in my household growing up & it certainly made an impact but I didn’t really get started properly until the early days of nu-metal. Before that it was the likes of Metallica’s The Black Album. Nu-Metal changed everything for me & I started to become obsessed with trying everything out.
I can still remember the first album and single I bought, Marilyn Manson: Smells Like Children & Iron Maiden’s Out of the Silent Planet from the Brave New World album. Man, I fucking loved those records.
Bands like Korn, Linkin Park, Disturbed, Papa Roach etc. like many, they where my gateway into the harder side of metal. From that I became really interested in Cradle of Filth (I still remember my reaction to hearing From the Cradle to Enslave).
So in regards to getting into metal, I owe a lot to family and the early rock bands but I owe just as much to the nu-metal era….expect Limp Bizkit, I hated them then and I still do now.
17. How much has your taste changed over the years? Is that a good thing or bad thing?
Bloody hell has my taste changed…well, I like to think it evolved. From my early nu-metal days to a more traditional thrash/speed to my obsession with black metal & now my interest for all within our spectrum.
Like one of our writers said…I’ve looked outside our genre many times & I really don’t like what I see. The furthest I’ll go is in the soft rock direction & that’s often just for reviewing purposes. You could argue that makes me closed minded but I don’t see it that way. There are so many sub-genres of metal that all the variety I need is there. Some of my favourite bands can be categorised as black metal, death metal, rock, hardcore, industrial, progressive etc.
I definitely think I enjoy metal more today then I did, say 8 years ago & that is most definitely a good thing.
18. The music industry is in trouble; it has been for a while. Why do you think that is? What would you do to change that?
First this is aimed at the so called fans who continue to illegally download music.
How aren’t you getting this yet!? If you don’t support the bands you love they can’t afford to do what they love. I swear to fucking any god that is listening if I hear one more stupid twat try & justify their theft & lack of support because the band should be doing it for the love of music and not be about making money, well I’m gonna continue to complain loudly on the web.
Stop trying to justify your theft with arguments about how you bought the t-shirt or you went to the gig. That helps, sure, but for bands to survive they need to make money, they need good album sales so they get more popular, they need our full support.
It makes me laugh when I hear fans moaning about how there are no big bands anymore, that the likes of Metallica, AC/DC, Iron Maiden etc are the last of a dying breed. That’s because people won’t pay anymore! Before the rise of the internet you had no choice but to buy albums and singles if you wanted to hear the music. How the hell are bands supposed to get big if they sell 1/10th of what they might have done in the early 90’s!?
Physical albums are expensive, I get that but you just have to be smart where you spend your money. If you can’t afford all 3 albums that you want to buy this month…buy one & get the rest next time.
There is even less excuse for stealing an artists music now that we have several streaming services to choose from. Sure, this is far from perfect but for a few quid a month you can listen to as much music as you want & some of that money is going to the artists!
Now this part is aimed at record labels.
Pull your fucking finger out and start adapting to the world we live in. Staggered releases? Still? A massive part of piracy is that a lot of albums don’t get world releases. An album can be released in the US but not in the UK until two days later. How dumb is that?
See the difference between positive promotion and someone that is actively trying to steal music. This relates to YouTube & the way labels behave over the use of a bands music in a persons video. A 30 minute video regarding….let’s say, Slipknot & their career that uses 20 seconds of People=Shit is good promotion for the band. It’s 20 seconds, not a whole fucking song. Attacking the video, the channel & the maker isn’t exactly wise.
Labels still seem to be disconnected to their fan base & the further they slip into obscurity, the more aggressive they have become (Roadrunner & Warner Music Group are two that are pretty heavy handed).
Finally on the labels part I would like to see smarter pre-order incentives. Nothing excites me more then getting something unique. A few bonus tracks isn’t good enough as people will just download that stuff anyway, no, I think packages that include limited edition t-shirts or patches are a good idea. For example…the full album and a pre-order only t-shirt for £30. That’s the kind of shit that people want!
The last part relates to festivals and their bookings.
It’s time to start again. Time to stop booking Iron Maiden, Metallica and Rammstein every other year. It’s time to try and make some new and future headliners. We can’t carry on this way & if they continue in this path I can’t see the likes of Download surviving another 10 years.
I get it, AC/DC sells tickets but surely you could cut costs by scaling back the festival? Instead of having 160 bands over the weekend, you have 100 with one less stage and longer band set times. Instead of 8 bands on the main stage, you have 6 and the first couple play for 45-50 minutes instead of 30.
This just seems so obvious to me but here is the problem…fans moan about the lack of variety & new bands being given the chance to headline yet if tomorrow Download announced that Bring me the Horizon were headlining 2017 the shit storm would be insane. I personally think their shite but they have headliner written all over them. Remember the reaction to Avenged Sevenfold or Biffy Clyro at Sonisphere?
Festivals want to make money, they need too but the prices are getting beyond a joke, a desperate need to cater too all is not working and it’s refreshing to see a lot of smaller, more genre-specific ones rising up.
19. What 3 bands (living only) are still at the top of your bucket list?
Van Halen, I know the chances are slim but just look at Guns ‘N Roses…we never thought that would happen! In an ideal world it would be a show where Van Halen play for two hours: one hour with David Lee Roth in vocals & the other with Sammy Hager. Now that’s something that’s never going to happen!
Then we have Guns ‘N Roses which seems likely to happen in our neck of the wood next year be it at festivals or a set of arena shows. Finally my third is Tool, something that probably will happen, it’s just a matter of when. A band not exactly well known for their prolific releases and live shows.
Living in London has afforded me the chance of seeing many more bands then most & my bucket list is incredibly small nowadays. Even this year a few that are on it will be ticked off at Bloodstock, bands like Twisted Sister, Venom, Satyricon, Ghost Bath, The King is Blind, Goatwhore and more!
20. What is your favourite live music memory?
Oh wow…this is a toughie. I have a few I think. Nine Inch Nails a few years ago in Nottingham, hearing Hurt live, it was unbelievable.
The first time I saw Metallica live on their Sick of the Studio event in 2007 at Wembley Stadium. Not the best time I saw them but a hell of an event with Mastodon & Machine supporting them too!
Turisas at Hellfest in 2014, it was incredible with a crowd that loved them as much as I do. We Ride Together at the end packed a serious emotional punch!
Seeing the legendary Emperor at Bloodstock in 2015.
Prince at the O2 Arena many years ago as part of his residency shows.
The first time I saw Rammstein at Wembley Arena.
Finally the times I’ve got to meet some of my heroes. Machine Head on their ‘An Evening With…’ run of shows. While She Sleeps, Turisas way back before I even cared about them as a band, The Black Spiders frontman at Airbourne’s gig plus a few more here and there (nothing like talking to Dr. Hell of Evil Scarecrow in the toilet of a venue!)