Marc Jackson is one of the North East of England's rising stars. In a relatively short space of time he has gained a lot of respect from his peers whilst fast earning a name for himself as one of the best drummers in the UK. Described by industry heavyweights as a "Drumming Sensation" and "One of the best drummers to come along in a long time" there seems to be no stopping him. The future for this talented and all round nice guy looks bright. We had the pleasure of sitting down with him and talk about his influences, his career so far and what we can expect from him in the future.

R&MIMB: Who and what inspired you to begin playing and want to become a drummer and at what age did you begin playing?
MARC JACKSON: What inspired me to begin playing was hearing Bill Ward play Symptom of the Universe, no-one has ever been able to play that song like Bill Ward so he's my biggest influence by far. The way I started playing drums was when my mum's boyfriend and I were in a shopping mall, and there was this electronic drum kit, it was a DD 505 or something, it was basically a beginners electronic kit, not a proper Roland kit or anything and he basically said, have a go, I had a go and he said hey you're pretty good at that, you should take it further, so, I took it further and it just went on from there.

R&MIMB: How old were you when you had a go on that kit?
MARC JACKSON: Oh man, I wasn't that young really, maybe 13 or 14.

R&MIMB: Tell us about your early career, did you start off playing in cover bands?
MARC JACKSON: The very first band I was in was with my mate at the time, Alex , we started a band called Destitute we used to play covers like Megadeth, Metallica and Testament and all that kind of stuff but we wrote our own songs as well and they were pretty good to be fair. We used to practice at school and we used to perform at the school concerts, we were probably the only two musicians in the school who played drums and guitar, well certainly the only ones who took it seriously anyway. So it just started off with me and him and it kind of grew into other members trying out and us basically saying uh no! Hahaha because we were so picky as we just wanted to be the best band we could be, no-one else was good enough hahaha!!

R&MIMB: So at that point, were you taking lessons or were you self taught?
MARC JACKSON: Ah this is the thing, I am self taught, I used to practice and play along to CD's. I used to play along to Black Sabbath, actually the CD I had on when you arrived, the Black Sabbath Past Lives CD, I'm a big fan of that album, I also used to play along to Metallica's Black Album, Rust in Peace by Megadeth, and a lot of songs from the Classic Rock CD', The Who, Led Zeppelin, Dire Straits and all that kind of stuff. Then I went onto playing along to Slipknot, Korn, Testament and then Metallica's Master of Puppets, And Justice For All.

R&MIMB: So you said you started off with the Black Album, did you then go back and discover what Metallica had done previously?
MARC JACKSON: Well how I discovered Metallica was with And Justice for All but when I was learning to play, I was playing along to the Black Album because although it's very basic its very powerful, it's really good playing from Lars, so yeah I just started playing along to those, it was just the power in the drumming that attracted me.

R&MIMB: Which drummers inspired you and still continue to inspire you?
MARC JACKSON: I was drawn to power drumming like that of Lars Ulrich and Nick Menza. As I said earlier, my biggest inspiration by far is Bill Ward, he is still my favourite drummer of all time. I also love Cozy Powell and Ginger Baker, actually another band I used to play along to was Cream. As far as more modern influences go, I would say Martin Lopez, Lars Ulrich, Nick Menza, Travis Smith, and the first Megadeth drummer Gar Samuelson, he was just amazing, and also Randy Castillo. It was only recently that I realised that a lot of these guys play jazz too and that's the reason why I recently started to learn jazz, as Bill Ward, Martin Lopez, play and Gar Samuelson played jazz, rock and metal, so I seem to be drawn towards those drummers who can play more than one genre of music.

R&MIMB: You're a very versatile musician, which genre of music is it that you like to play the most?
MARC JACKSON: Hmm, it's strange as I used to say rock, but due to the bands that I've played in, especially after M:Pire of Evil, my style of drumming changed a lot and that's when I became that sort of straight edged heavy power drummer, just laying back with a beat rather than using fancy fills, actually I'd probably still say I'm most comfortable playing rock, but metal at the same time, as that is me down to a T, that's my style, rock and metal, as obviously starting off with Black Sabbath and Cream and playing along to metal that's where my style came from so the two combined and playing along to metal drummers who were also jazz drummers, that came into my style too. Metal is my favourite genre to play.

R&MIMB: Let's talk about your first band Minnikin, how important was that band in forming you as a musician?
MARC JACKSON: It was definitely the most professional band I had been in up until then, (laughs) I mean after Destitute, which was just a school band, it was a lot of fun, but we never really got anywhere, as I say me and my mate Alex were really picky, we were the two main members and there were other people, but no-one was ever good enough hahaha. Minnikin was a professional band, we had a manager, we had our own studio, we also had a guitarist, who has only one arm, he's called Marc Playle, you should check him out, he's an unbelievable guitarist, not just because he's only got one arm but because he is mind blowing.

R&MIMB: How does he play?
MARC JACKSON: He created a stump for his arm and he cut a little gap to hold the plectrum and he plays like that, he is outstanding. So there was Marc Playle, Glen Minnikin, that's how they came up with the name, the band was going before me and Alex joined, we were writing our own songs, we recorded an album called Europa which got really good reviews, and we started off as a cover band, but then it spawned into an original band, that was the first time I actually started gigging, getting the experience of playing in clubs and proper venues.

R&MIMB: So you had a bit of success with Minnikin, but your first real taste of success was with Beyond the Grave, tell us about your time with that band?
MARC JACKSON: With Beyond the Grave, I'd seen them once live before I joined, it was the final of the battle of the bands, at Trillians Rock Bar in Newcastle and I remember being really impressed and I thought to myself, I'm going to be in that band! That's how that happened hahaha.

R&MIMB: So how did you go about it?
MARC JACKSON: Hmm, Ah yeah, I remember, in Destitute we had a bass player called Andrew Needham, and Andrew Needham didn't last very long in Destitute (funnily enough!) we all had a fall out but we all stayed in contact and Andrew told me that Beyond the Grave would be looking for a drummer because their drummer Paul Jackson was leaving. So, Paul Jackson left, I auditioned for the band, and at first I didn't actually get in the band, they were in two minds about it because Paul had really fast feet, his double bass drumming was impressive, and I didn't really practice double bass drumming at all before then so to get another audition and be successful with the audition I had to buy myself a double bass pedal and every day I just worked at getting better on the double pedal. I had a second audition two weeks later and I got in the band! I did my first tour with that band in 2007, it was the first proper tour I had done, and it was on a double decker tour bus, for two weeks straight, touring the UK, we sold out the Academy in Newcastle. That was a successful tour. We did a festival in Prague that year too. We supported Cradle of Filth at the Academy, we played Hard Rock Hell, which Cradle of Filth were headlining, it was the first Hard Rock Hell festival, Twisted Sister were headlining too. From that we went on to record the Sands of Desolation EP which received really good reviews, we got 9/10, 4.5/5 for every review pretty much, that was successful and we toured that EP in the UK. After that we recorded the Human Tide, which received even better reviews it mostly got 10/10.

R&MIMB: Beyond the Grave hasn't been active for a number of years, do you think there is any possibility of working on future projects? Maybe a successor to "The Human Tide"?
MARC JACKSON: Well actually I've tried to get the line up back together, as before we disbanded, we wrote some new songs which were really good, I mean, I really liked them, and we were all proud of what we came up with, but the EP that those songs were meant for just sat there and it's still sitting there not doing anything, it's hard as they are really good songs. We played some of them live and people were commenting on the new songs saying how good they were. They were more energetic.

R&MIMB: So there could be a successor to the album? Are they playing in other bands now?
MARC JACKSON: Well, as I say, I have tried to get that line-up back together, just to release that EP and do a one off gig and see how it goes, but the other members have moved on. don't think so, I think I'm the only one who's carried on playing in bands, as far as I know.

R&MIMB: What inspired you to write the kind genre of music you did with Beyond the Grave? How involved were you with the writing process?
MARC JACKSON: Well, before I was in the band they had an EP called The Craven Betrayal and it reminded me of early Sylosis, but more laid back, just heavy metal, very straight to the point, nothing much to it, I mean, don't get me wrong, it was a great EP, it received good reviews, once again. When I came into the band they'd already recorded two songs for the Sands of Desolation EP that were going to be on the Craven Betrayal EP but they would have had too many songs for it to be an EP so they wanted to keep those for later as they had a different sound to the rest of that EP. Once I heard those songs, I thought that they had a different vibe about them, so when I joined the band they had two songs that they were working on and I had my input into those songs, so with me, when it comes to song writing, my strength is in structure, how parts get into other parts, how verses flow into choruses, that's where I felt that they struggled, sometimes I can come up with harmonies, so I'd sing the harmonies, as I couldn't play guitar back then, so I'd come up with the harmonies, and my own drum parts, but I would ask for their input on whether or not the drum parts were good enough or if they thought anything else should be there for the drum parts. With the Human Tide it was me and Warwick Bennett, we were the main songwriters for that album we pretty much wrote all of the songs except for Dead September as Luke Harrison already had ideas for that, that was actually a song from the very first EP they had, Forged in Retribution, it wasn't great on that EP but it had a lot of potential so Luke came up with a thrashier version of that song.

R&MIMB: From 2012 to 2014 you were the drummer for M:Pire of Evil, how did that collaboration come about?
MARC JACKSON: I was playing in a band called Sabbatica, a Black Sabbath tribute band, and we were performing at a gig called classic rock legends which was at the O2 Academy in Newcastle, basically all the best tribute bands in the North East played a gig together at the Academy and Jeff Dunn a.k.a Mantas, was stage manager for that gig. Before that I'd seen his band Dryll, at Trillians, it was difficult to get into Trillians that night as they packed the place out, the queue was massively long to get in. I asked my friend about who Jeff was, and my friend told me he was in Venom and I had absolutely no idea it was him! So I found out about his musical background and did some research found out a bit more about Mantas... I was really impressed by his band Dryll, so when I saw Jeff at the Academy, he was smoking a cigarette outside and I just went up to him and said you know if you ever need a drummer jut keep me in mind, I'll never let you down, I'm fully committed.

R&MIMB: How long after that did the phone call come?
MARC JACKSON: It was a year later that Jeff came up to me at another Classic Rock Legends gig and he said, we might need you for something, I can't say what it is, but if you can give me your number, I'll be in touch and we'll go from there but I can't say what it is.

R&MIMB: So you hadn't given him your number the first time?
MARC JACKSON: No, he was really busy that evening, I think he thought nothing of it at the time, but it shows that as long as you've put your name out there, I guess you are always going to stick in their mind, and I didn't know this at the time, but Tony Dolan (The Demolition Man) was actually at the first Classic Rock Legends gig, the one where I met Jeff, and he was looking for drummers, and he had recorded me at that gig, without me knowing. So I did the second gig, and Tony was at that gig as well I think, and both Jeff and Tony were recording me, Jeff was recording me behind the kit and shouting and screaming at me going "Go on, Go on son" hahaha, I was like what the hell is going on here! Hahaha. I actually performed really well at that gig, I don't know if it was because I had Jeff recording me and Tony recording me from the crowd. Then a few weeks later Tony got in touch and asked me to do a tour with M:Pire of Evil in America, so we did a three week tour in America.

R&MIMB: What was your first meeting with them like and what was it like working with musicians like Mantas and the Demolition Man?
MARC JACKSON: It was awesome, when someone like that comes to you and says do you want to do a tour in America, it's amazing. The first meeting with both of them was right here in my practice room, Tony came up from London, me and Jeff met here and rehearsed through the songs once, and then we did the tour!! Hahaha.

R&MIMB: What is your favourite memory of the experience you had with M:Pire of Evil?
MARC JACKSON: Oh my god, there are so many, I was in the band for three and a half years. This is kind of weird as I don't think anyone else would say this, but Reality Check TV came along to one of the gigs to do an interview with M:Pire, and all I could think about was, fucking hell, Metallica have been on Reality Check TV and all my favourite bands have been interviewed by these guys, so seeing Danny Shipman and going that is that guy, it was really surreal, I was just like an excited kid hahaha.

R&MIMB: How old were you when you did that tour?
MARC JACKSON: I was 23/24 something like that, but honestly, the whole thing is a great memory as I was just really excited about going on tour with legends like Jeff and Tony, it was the first full on professional tour I did. It was the whole thing, also hanging out with Onslaught, it was actually their tour, as it was M:Pires first tour, so I became really good friends with them, so we've always stayed in touch. There were a lot of things that happened, there was a radio advertisement that Tony got asked to do for Newcastle Brown Ale, we drove ourselves there but we had been warned not to because of the weather, as there was a massive storm. We were going over the mountains and you couldn't really see anything as the storm was so intense. Tony kept looking at his phone, and the edge of the cliff was like so close, and every time he was on his phone you could feel bumps, Jeff just didn't say anything, I was like Tony, get off your phone man we nearly going over the cliff!! There are lots of memories, lots of good (and dangerous) times! Another time, everyone was in bed on the tour bus apart from me and Cordi (Cordula Abston), who sadly is no longer with us, and Jeff from Onslaught. We were drinking, chatting and listening to music. All of a sudden the road started to feel really bumpy. I looked through to the driver's door, he was just driving through stop signs, he carried on going and we ended up in the mountains, I told Jeff and Cordi and we all just sat there and kept looking through to the driver's door to see where we were going, he was driving far too fast and there was turn up ahead. I was looking through the driver's window at this point, I said to Jeff and Cordi, "I don't think he's going to make this turn". He eventually slammed his brakes on after attempting to make the sharp turn without using the breaks and literally had to reverse to stop us from going over the cliff, everyone woke up and ran downstairs screaming at him because they had literally been flung out of their bunks. It was mental! He was a nutter that driver. You should have seen the state of the bus by the end of that tour,

R&MIMB: Since 2015 you have been the drummer for thrashers Acid Reign. How were you asked to join the band and how would you describe this collaboration so far?
MARC JACKSON: A year after I had been in M:Pire, Howard Smith, the singer and founding member of Acid Reign, was looking for a drummer, and a guitarist called Edward Box, who played for a band called Vendetta, a really good band, who is good friends with Howard and has been for years recommended me. Jeff Williams, the bass player for Onslaught, also spoke to Howard and recommended me. What was really weird is that a week before I had spoken to Jeff at the Onslaught gig they had played in Newcastle and said if you ever hear of any bands who are looking for a drummer then can you recommend me? So that's exactly what happened a week later, as Howard was at another of their gigs and Howard asked Jeff if there were any drummers about that he would recommend for Acid Reign, so voila here I am!! When I joined the band we recorded Plan of the Damned and we recorded it with Martyn "Ginge" Ford who has also recorded with bands like Trivium, Bullet For My Valentine, As I Lay Dying, and a lot of other bands, and he was also the first drummer in Skindred. That got really good reviews and good feedback from the fans, but to me it sounds very different from their last album Obnoxious, which was more mature than the previous albums, but this song and the new songs that we are writing at the moment are even more mature than the Obnoxious songs as those songs are all over the place structure wise, but now the songs flow, and it feels much more like a band, you can feel it's a band, and everyone has input on the songwriting, the main songwriter is Paul Chanter (rhythm guitar) he's the one who came up with the riff for Plan of the Damned and Howard put the lyrics to it, but we all have input. It feels a lot tighter as a band.

R&MIMB: You are due to headline the Sophie Stage at Bloodstock this Saturday 13th August, how do you feel about that?
MARC JACKSON: I'm really looking forward to it It's going to be awesome, I don't really know what to expect but I know that Bloodstock is very true to metal, that's the kind of festival it is, it's very much just about metal, other festivals seem to be a collaboration of different genres, which isn't a bad thing but when it's true to metal, to that point, then you know it's going to be pretty crazy, so it's going to be awesome.

R&MIMB: What projects do Acid Reign have lined up in the future?
MARC JACKSON: We have the new album which we are hoping to get released at the beginning of next year, we are still writing for it at the moment, there will probably be a tour after that, that is why Acid Reign has been quiet at the moment as we are concentrating on writing.

R&MIMB: What are your plans for the future? Do you have any other projects/collaborations on the horizon?
MARC JACKSON: I've recently formed a new band with Micky Crystal who is the guitarist of the Tygers of Pan Tang, Nick Jennison who has done soundtracks for computer games Sonic the Hedgehog, Tekken, Devil May Cry and he is the guitarist and vocalist in Saints of Arcadia, he is an incredible vocalist and Steve Ireland who is the ex bass player of NWOBHM band Blitzkrieg. I perform with so many bands, hahaha too many, there's a huge list. With that band we have only had two rehearsals so far but we plan on writing more stuff, from the writing that we have done so far its leaning more towards the rock sound but it's still pretty heavy at the same time. We are still trying to find our own sound to some extent, we are just seeing what comes out naturally, we aren't trying to be any particular band or have a certain sound. Also NWOBHM band Hollowground have asked me to perform with them in Belgium at the Negasonic festival in November

R&MIMB: How did that come about?
MARC JACKSON: The guitarist, Martin Metcalf, known as Metty, is also the guitarist in Sabbatica, and he said he would like to perform in a band with me again, as I left Sabbatica to join M:Pire, and he got in touch with me and asked if I would be up for playing that festival with Hollowground. So I said yes! There is also something else planned just before November but I can't talk about that yet, but it involves a tour in South America and I have also been asked to record an album. I also have my own band Sin Theta, we've been working on an EP for a long time now, we are on to recording lead guitar now.

R&MIMB: So, who are the other members of Sin Theta?
MARC JACKSON: Jason Macdonald who is the rhythm guitarist, Martin Bradley on lead guitar, Craig Elliott (ex Dryll) on bass and Jack Reed is the vocalist, I do backing vocals as well as playing drums. Jason and I are the main songwriters but everyone has their input, we come up with the seed of the song if you like. It's not just metal, it sounds to me, and I've been told this by a couple of friends who have been in a rehearsal, like Opeth, Metallica, the Dillinger Escape Plan and Black Sabbath all rolled into one!! There's a lot of heavy quite doomy stuff and then a beautiful gothic sound about it, a lot of vocal harmonies, and a bit of progressive thrash metal thrown in, it's just really cool.

R&MIMB: Let's talk about the scene where you are, which emerging bands can you recommend to us, and why?
MARC JACKSON: Arcite are a good band and there are so many more but the scene in Newcastle has changed quite a bit, it used to be more open to music, as soon as metalcore came around everyone kind of jumped on the bandwagon and suddenly there were a load of bands doing the same thing, people kind of forgot about other bands and just stuck to the metalcore bands. It's starting to change again now though.

R&MIMB: Is there anything you would like to say to our readers?
MARC JACKSON: Thanks so much for your support, see you at Bloodstock and hopefully I'll see some of you when I'm next on tour!

Interview by Amy Louise Hamilton and Marek Vladescu. Edited by Yader Lamberti