Meshiaak burst onto the metal scene in 2016 with their debut album, Alliance of Thieves. Led by ex-4Arm vocalist/guitarist, Danny Camilleri, the band featured Teramaze guitarist Dean Wells, bassist Nick Walker and Jon Dette (Slayer, Anthrax, Testament). It was supergroup of sorts and their debut collected lavish praise across the metal community. Fast forward two years and it seems the band has stagnated or stalled, to the point where a lot of fans of the debut album are asking the question, “Where the fuck is Meshiaak?”
If you hadn’t caught the recent news, the band is heading off to support such thrash luminaries such as Overkill, Flotsam and Jetsam and Destruction in Europe early next year, as well as appearing on a few metal festivals. Alas, things have changed considerably for the band, so we tracked down frontman, Danny Camilleri to fill everyone in on what’s been happening since 2016.
Danny, thanks for your time mate.
Fuck man, I actually first interviewed you four years ago when Meshiaak was first mooted. You were excited this band was happening, happy how the chemistry with band members was going, Greg Christian (bass) was in the band at that stage, and you couldn’t tell me who the drummer was but it turned out to be Jon fuck’n Dette! You go onto record a killer debut album, Alliance of Thieves, then it’s kind of stalled. So what’s been happening? A few band changes. I mean your bass player is gone (Nick Walker), Jon Dette walked.
Oh dude, Dette didn’t walk (laughs). It just didn’t work out with Dette unfortunately. We’re pretty happy with Dave (Godfrey) though, he’s a good drummer, a good dude. He’s on the same page, so it’s good if you know what I mean. He’s a local boy. It’s good to have someone local to be honest.
And what about on the bass? As Nick Walker departed also.
We’re using Andrew Cameron (Teramaze) at the moment.
What happened with Nick departing?
Creative differences, that’s all. Nick’s a great dude, there’s no bad blood there or anything he just felt that he wanted to express himself a little bit more with his instrument than what he could in Meshiaak, so he decided it was time for him to move on and pursue that. We wish him all the best. He’s a great dude, a great bass player, an all-round top guy.
Jon Dette was always quick to point out a few years back when it was his turn for the round of media interviews that Meshiaak was his main band and he was all in on this. Can you shed anymore on the Dette situation? Or you don’t really want to go into that?
Oh man, not really (laughs). I mean, I love Jon, I think he’s a great guy but Meshiaak is very grassroots. We had to start from scratch, from the ground up and when things like tours came up, I think Jon realised quite quickly just how grassroots Meshiaak actually was. I think that obviously persuaded him to make the decision and that didn’t agree to well with myself and Dean (Wells) and all the rest of it. In the end it was a bit awkward. I mean I loved making the album with Jon, he’s a great guy and drummer.
Talks of shows, then not of shows, then an appearance at the Cherry Bar I think from memory a few months back.
Yeah man, that was fun. We didn’t obviously do that as a business show or anything like that, it was just good to get back on stage. It felt good.
But Meshiaak shows have definitely been few and far between. So, obviously the band members are finding it hard to get together to play as a committed band, but suddenly you’re signed up for a string of shows on the Killfest tour next year in Europe playing with Overkill, Destruction and Flotsam and Jetsam. Fill us in about this upcoming tour and how it came about.
A good booking agent (laughs). We’ve got a good booking agent in Germany and she was able to negotiate some cool things. I mean that’s not the only tour we’ll be doing next year, we’ve got a few other things lined up through Europe. Killfest is just the first of a few that have been announced so far. I’ve toured with all those bands before, I’m really looking forward to it. I mean I caught up with the guys from Overkill when they toured here recently but I haven’t seen Flotsam since touring with them in 2014 or whenever it was. I’m looking forward to it, it’ll be like a family reunion of sorts. It’s going to be a good tour.
Will this lead to a few shows back in Australia? I know you’ve said it’s hard to play around Australia because of the money side of things. For instance, can you foresee a day where Meshiaak will play on the West Coast?
I mean we will play some shows in Australia before heading to Europe. Where we will play is anyone’s guess at this stage. It’s not really if money involved or not, that’s not the real issue. It’ll be whether it’s a good business move or not. It’s come to the stage of things where it’s a business, we’re not playing in pubs every week if you know what I mean.
And what is the future of the band? It is a more part time thing these days?
Nah man, it’s very much full time. We’re committed to three albums with Mascot Records. About to start recording the second album. Touring schedule coming up, so when that rolls around, we’ll kick into it and go with it.
How far along is the new Meshiaak album and what parts have been recorded? Is it ready for studio time and to lay this thing down?
We’ll be starting to record in a few weeks. We’re ready to do this.
Alliance of Thieves from memory was recorded in Oakland, California right?
The drums were, yeah but most of Alliance of Thieves was recorded back here (In Australia). But yeah, that was Green Day’s studio.
So, has the studio been booked and who will produce?
Dean (Wells) will produce again. Same people involved. It’ll be much the same process but it’ll be a much different album to what Alliance of Thieves was.
Okay, that’s interesting so any hints? Are Meshiaak going to go more technical or proggy or throw a few softer ballads into the mix?
It’ll be one of those albums where people will be expecting Alliance of Thieves Part II. I’ll just say, don’t expect that, because that’s not what it is (laughs). Meshiaak is all about growing, exploring, and seeing how far we can take things. It won’t be anything proggy, I’m not into that. It’ll be more a metal album. I mean people try peg us into being a thrash band. I wouldn’t say Alliance of Thieves is a thrash album. I mean there are a couple of thrash style songs but not enough to call it thrash so to speak. The new album is branched out way further. More singing, and more melody. A lot harder in places though, a lot heavier in places. It’s a different kind of album, all about growth. As far as vocals are concerned I was never able to do that kind of vocal in 4Arm. Those clean vocals just wouldn’t work in that band. Meshiaak I can actually use my voice, so it’s good.
I remember Bobby from Overkill having some great words to say about you, personally, in an interview I did with him a while back. Then 4Arm finished up, you hopped into Meshiaak and then two years in the wilderness again. Has it been a frustrating ride or these days you’re more relaxed about these kinds of things?
Way more relaxed now. It wasn’t so much a bumpy ride with the band as such. Personally, they’ve been turns and twists in our lives. Just for everyone in Meshiaak, we’ve all been through certain things that have required attention in other places, so that’s played a big part on why Meshiaak has taken a little bit of a backstage. It’s all good. We’re all in a better place for it, more clear headed and more driven, and dedicated to our lives, becoming important to ourselves, so we can be better people.
On a personal front, you’re a successful artist, a tattooist, so plug away mate, where are you working at the moment and how’s it all going?
Yeah mate, I’m working in Bishops Domain in Melton, Victoria about 45 minutes out of the CBD. Been doing that for a little while, I love the job. So yeah, drop in anytime for some ink!
I might just do that mate. Good luck in Europe and we all look forward to the next phase of Meshiaak becoming a reality.
Interview by Jim ‘Plugga’ Birkin