Shrapnel Interview

Andy Ford

UK thrashers Shrapnel return after a four year absence with their latest crusher, In Gravity. We caught up with vocalist/bassist Dan Moran and guitarists Nath Sadd and Chris Martin for an update on all things Shrapnel.

Chad Bowar: How did your newest member, vocalist/bassist Daniel Moran, come to join the band?
Nath Sadd: I was aware of Dan through his other band Reaper. They had released a new album that landed on my radar and I was blown away by some of the tracks, and his voice in general. When it became clear that we were going to need a new frontman, his name automatically came up.

Did the lineup change impact the songwriting process for In Gravity?
Nath: Yeah, absolutely! We’ve been lucky to have some great players in the band and everyone new has always brought in their own skills and influences. Dan gave us the ability to explore some much more melodic elements that I’d been hoping to pursue for a while. He also brought in some songs (“So Below” and “Absolution”) that really made the end of the new record amazing.

How did you come to work with producer Jens Bogren, and how was the experience?
Nath: Our label Candlelight really came through for us and hooked us up with Jens. We’ve been lucky to work with incredible producers (Russ Russell, Scott Atkins, and Sam Turbitt), and having Jens on board was another amazing experience for us. His production is phenomenal. I’m used to building lots of layers and harmonies in our songs, but Jens has this much more stripped down approach. All the layers of guitars were gone, yet the album sounds massive and lush.

What will be your strongest memory of the recording of the album?
Nath: There’s been a bunch! I think the first vocal session we had for the record will always stand out for me. It was great hearing the songs starting to come to life and realise the new direction was working. We do a lot of tracking in this pool house that belongs to Chris M’s family, and it’s always a super creative and fun environment to be in. We spent some great late nights working on vocal melodies and arrangements.

Chris W tracking drums was memorable in the worst possible way! (laughs) He managed to get violently ill when we were up north in Sam’s (Turbitt) studio again producing the drums. We were pretty worried about him, and in hindsight probably should have pulled the session. Somehow he managed to get it all recorded and it’s some of his best work! Even if it got a little Weekend At Bernie’s towards the end.

Dan Moran: For me, it’s difficult not to think back to the night “In Gravity”’s chorus was written. Nath and I were having a couple drinks listening to the song demos and, eventually, the lyrics just came about in a way that felt so organic. In the cabin with a dude that’d later become such a fantastic pal and a fascinating person to write with was really special.

What was the biggest challenge in its creation?
Nath: The album took us a long time to pull together given all of the crazy life stuff we were each going through. Musically it was pretty swift, but production took us from summer 2020 all the way through 2023.

Chris Martin: We all live around the UK and we’ve all been dealing with our own personal issues over the last few years so getting everyone together has been challenging. It’s amazing the music fell into place as quickly as it did! Like Nath said, the biggest challenge has been the long wait between delivering the record and it now coming to release, it’s been frustrating but we’re nearly there.

How has your sound evolved from Palace For The Insane?
Nath: We’ve gone through a pretty big change. That was always going to happen after getting Dan on board, but we’d been undergoing a shift after Palace anyway. We really wanted to focus on sharp, tight songwriting, and pulling in different influences that we love.

Chris M: You can definitely hear where we were aiming to go on Palace but we were able to finally pull it off fully with Dan. He’s an amazing vocalist and has swung the door wide open for us to experiment and be ambitious with vocal melody, harmonies and try some new things.

What lyrical topics do you cover this time around?
Nath: The idea of the disc was to talk about how coping mechanisms can become the problem you used them to beat. So we talked about cyclical behavior patterns that can lean into that theme. “Amber Screams” being about substance use beginning as a way to take the edge off and ending as a way to fend off the pain of sobriety, “Guardian” being about co-dependency and how relationships with people can be used as a crutch for self-development until they dissolve and you’re left with a hole to fill where that relationship could have been something healthier; it’s about the displacement of self that comes with employing something as a crutch past the point of its use. The last three songs kind of identify the cycle as something very human and, whilst manageable, shouldn’t necessarily have to come with guilt.

How did Scott Kennedy (Bleed From Within)’s guest appearance come about?
Nath: It was the result of our label really helping us out again. We knew we wanted a really big, modern metal screamer on the title track, and they were able to get Scott on board with us. He absolutely smashed it and sounds incredible, so we’re pretty lucky.

How was the video shoot for “Guardian”?
Nath: It was a blast! We produced it ourselves with help from a group of students at the music college Chris M works at. Chris took the lead in directing and editing the whole thing, so I think it was a massive opportunity for him to hone those skills he’s been developing over the past few years. He smashed it! I think the style of the video really fits the pace of the song. It was shot in this old TV studio and was a really cool space to work in. We were really happy to be able to produce it in-house because it gives us so many options in the future.

We’ve also been lucky to work with Loki Film for the other videos we’ve shot for “In Gravity” and “Amber Screams.” Shaun (Loki Films) is an incredible filmmaker, so we were super excited to work with him. Videos can be pretty hard work, but he made the whole process really effortless. Shooting “Amber Screams” was a really surreal experience. We filmed in a giant infinity room that has been used for movie making and documentaries. It’s just this massive white room with smoothed out corners, and you feel like you’ve been removed from physical space. It was pretty trippy!

How important are videos in the promotion process these days?
Nath: I think they’re still super important. They’re one of the few ways a band has to portray a certain aesthetic and identity to your fans alongside the music. That was even more important on the new album since we’ve taken such a big stylistic change. We wanted our videos to reflect the change, as well as showing where our heads are currently at creatively.

It’s still a medium I value for finding new bands too. I love really creative, interesting video ideas, so when I find a new band I’m enjoying; a great video can completely solidify my fandom of something. We’ve been able to reach a bunch of new fans with the last three singles because of the videos we’ve made. I think they’ve become increasingly important to us since Spotify seems to have shaken up their algorithm quite a bit too.

How much attention do you pay to reviews?
Nath: Depends on the quality of the review really. If you can tell they’ve pretty much just ran the bio or ripped into you on account of you not conforming to the genre you were associated with for a while, very little notice is given. Without any disrespect to those who were along for the ride in our “previous” sound and didn’t vibe with the newer stuff, it doesn’t exactly give us anything to work off of in terms of improvement and we’re fortunate that a decent chunk of those folks just respectfully wished us luck and had constructive talk with the majority that have really dug it. I’d sooner see 2’s and 9’s out of 10 with legitimate praise or concerns, even if the latter is explained with a lot of heat, than a slew of “6/10, this is an album that came out” write ups.

How did your ESP guitar endorsement come about, and what about ESP’s guitars do you like the most?
Chris M: Nath has been playing ESP guitars since he was 17 and I had been using Charvel guitars for a good few years. After the new album came up we started talking to the guys over at ESP and they were immensely helpful and supportive of the band and the new record. We have been lucky enough to get some guitars really quickly and plan to pick up a few more before the touring cycle kicks in for this record. It’s a dream come true to have a company like ESP backing us and we are so proud to be able to play these guitars every night.

What are your upcoming tour plans?
Chris M: We have had to move things back a little after the cancellation of Metal Days but we will be doing a few shows this summer before hitting the UK and Europe hard towards the back end of this year and into 2025. We are also looking at going a little further afield this time round which will be amazing.

What’s the coolest site/attraction you’ve visited while on tour?
Chris M: On the last tour we were able to stop off at quite a few spots that we may not have otherwise got to. Auschwitz was an amazing place to see but was certainly not ‘cool.’ It was an emotional stop off in Poland last summer, glad we did it but man… As far as cool sites, we stopped off at a Rob Halford themed bar in Berlin with Chemicide and Hidden Intent. Floor to ceiling Judas Priest worship, giant Rob Halford effigies and old school metal blasting all night. We were made up.

What’s your favorite way to occupy down time while on the road?
Chris M: Most of the time is spent traveling and we do a lot of the driving ourselves so most of it is spent listening to music. When we aren’t on the road we tend to get out into the city we’re in and see as much as possible. Touring definitely isn’t the way to get the most out of traveling and seeing places but we do what we can. Sadly 99 percent of the trips are the inside of the van or the inside of a venue.

What are some of your non-musical interests and hobbies?
Chris M: In the very minimal spare time I have between band, being a dad and working I’m a gamer. Me and my partner have been nerding out on Baldur’s Gate, Dragon’s Dogma 2 and the Final Fantasy 7 Remakes. Anything remotely high fantasy or sci-fi and we’re all over it.

Are you ever mistaken for Coldplay’s lead singer?
Chris M: Because I’ve got the same name or because I can’t sing?

What’s currently in your heavy musical rotation?
Dan: New Judas Priest album has been absolutely stellar. Would be my album of the year were it not for Charcoal Grace by Caligula’s Horse; absolutely unbelievable disc. Also EXTREMELY excited to finally sit with the new A Burial At Sea project! Saw them at ArcTanGent last year and they were probably my weekend highlight!

Chris M: I’ve been running the new Priest album out as well but I have to show some love for the new Bleed From Within album Shrine. Guitar playing wise it’s been quite influential on me recently along with the most recent Gojira records and the last Killer Be Killed Record.

Anything else you’d like to mention or promote?
Chris M: Only that I hope people can continue to support the band and help us make more records by heading out and buying merch and music. It helps us out a lot. Everything can be found over at

(interview published May 28, 2024)

Watch Shrapnel – “Guardian” Video


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