Interviewing Australian band ELM STREET, a real young group (average age 22) already known for their debut album "Barbed Wire Metal", heavily influenced by thrash and heavy metal. They're now touring throughout all their home country: we are pleased to talk with Ben Batres, lead vocalist and rythm guitarist of the band.

R&MimB: Elm Street comes from a band formerly called Raid. Would you like to tell us something about this band and the reasons why you decided to change name?
Ben Batres: RAID was the orignal name for ELM STREET, we were still the same band with the same members and even the same songs! As we matured into metal artist we found our image and what we wanted to do more comfortably so around 2008 we decided to find a name more suited to the band and nothing was more tradtional than ELM STREET!

R&MimB: How long have you and your bandmates known each other? Were you already in touch before playing together?
Ben Batres: Myself (Ben) and Aaron have known eachother since we were around 5 years old, we went to school together and became best friends quite quickly. As we moved into a new school, when it came to high school, we found our selves in the same friend circle as Tomislav & Brendan. Even though we were friends nobody was actually into heavy metal except for knowing the main bands like Metallica or Pantera.
We started taking up music subjects together in high school and slowly began finding older bands like Iron Maiden, Manowar and Savatage so from then on we fell in love with the music and shortly was the only type of music we listened to. The band was made purely because we loved watching heavy metal bands play live and we really wanted to do it for a living. Nobody in the band really knew how to play an instrument so we all assigned each other an instrument and made a promise we'd learn how to play it as best as possible. That was in early 2003 when RAID was born and the journey began....

R&MimB: You are all very young in the band, in spite of that your musical influences are deeply rooted into the 70s and 80s. You quote as main influences Judas Priest, Manowar, Maiden, Savatage but, though the Maiden influence is more than evident, it is noticeable that your music takes a lot from Overkill, Metallica and generally from a thrashy heritage. Do you agree with such a statement?
Ben Batres: Back when we began recording the debut album it was more of a power metal feeling we were going for, none of us had ever been in a studio before, let alone recorded any music at all, so we didn't know how it was going to turn out. Shortly after a couple of sessions we discovered that the power metal sound we were going for wasn't really strong enough for the songs we had written so we were left in quite a problem.
Luckily for us our influences come from all around the 70's/80's & 90's metal era, we love the tradtional, power, glam and thrash side to metal so even though we listed those as main bands we have a HUGE list of influences which would take us days to list ahaha.
The songs were quite angry songs and we did have something to say to the world so I think the thrashier side to the album worked out really well for all the songs and did the trick in projecting an 'in your face' type album.

R&MimB: Elm Street is clearly a tribute to the Nightmare movies, which made the character Freddy Krüger famous all over the world. Does this mean again that you love the 80s? Is there a link in your opinion between heavy metal and the Nightmare movies?
Ben Batres: That's exactly why we named the band ELM STREET! The link between heavy metal and the nightmare movies purely comes from ONE thing and that's DOKKEN! If you've seen part 3 at the beginning they play 'Into The Fire' and in the credits along with the soundtrack it features 'Dream Warriors' so that's what actually appealed us to the watching the movies.
I think when you think the word ELM STREET you straight away think of Freddy Kruger, nightmares and a scary street but to metal heads and to us especially when I hear the words ELM STREET I straight away think of Dokken and the 80's haha!

R&MimB: Sometimes things are odd and funny. Did you know that in Italy there was a band named Elm Street? What do you know about Italian rock and metal? Do you like any bands from our country?
Ben Batres: HAHA! I heard that a while ago and knew there was bound to be another named Elm Street but I guess that's life, ay? I'm sure they're a killer band so I'm keen to see them play if or when we come to Italy. As for bands though we've always been fans of the Italian power metal from Rhapsody to Vision Divine so great things come out of your country!

R&MimB: How does a track by Elm Street come out? Who writes the music, lyrics and arrangements?
Ben Batres: We always try to do it as a team, an idea usually comes to a member and we either send it to each other via email or at the next rehersal we show each other and get everyones opinion. We've always been pretty helpful to each other and because we grew up together we already know each others styles and what were thinking so it all comes really natural. The songs have always been completed 100% and if one person dislikes something we always push to make it better without any disagreements.

R&MimB: Would you like to tell us something about the themes of your songs? Do they have a link to real life or do they refer to past experience?
Ben Batres: For the debut album we based it on things that we love and things that we hate, we wrote about subjects that are close to our hearts and ones that we thought we could deliver the best lyric to. Ofcourse, being fans of metal, we had to base a lot of themes on as it's a topic that we have a lot to share with the world so those songs came out really strong. Then we also touched base on things like religion which we grew up with & horror which was something we all discovered together as teenagers.

R&MimB: The band's technical level is quite high compared to other people your age! Where did you learn to play music?
Ben Batres: We all had lessons when the band began, as nobody knew how to play an instrument we all needed proper training to get to a high standard. All the training was done by great teachers we still keep in touch with, although I learnt guitar off Aaron's dad who is an awesome player/teacher. That was really handy as anytime we are stuck with things we can always ask for his guidance.

R&MimB: The cover of Barbed Wire Metal recalls the roughness of the 80s. Would you please explain us this choice? Does it come from a specific intent?
Ben Batres: The artwork was done by one of our all time favourite artist, Ed Repka, who was famous for his constant kick ass artwork in the 80's/ early 90's for famous thrash bands like Megadeth. We asked him to paint a picture of a metal head basically taking no shit from anyone else and that's exactly what he did haha! It's based on the lyrics from the title track of the album and I think he did a killer job, couldn't have asked for better!

R&MimB: In my opinion, the best songs in the album are the title track and "Metal is the Way". Would you like to explain how these songs were born?
Ben Batres: "Metal Is The Way" was actually the first song we wrote together, it came alive I think back in 2004. The arrangements have been changed over the years but the theme and melodies have always remained the same. I think it's a really strong song for the metal community as it's a type of anthem to those struggling to be noticed. It's a song that we always take inspiration from because we always want to stay true to the metal scene and lifestyle. "Barbed Wire Metal" was the first thrashy song we wrote and had the catchiest chorus of them all. We wrote it back in 2007 when RAID was going through that change of name period so it could of been responsible for that whole decision. It's a great song again for the metal community as it's basically giving a big f**k you to everyone who looks down on the scene haha.

R&MimB: Which musicians inspired you to play? If you had the chance to jam for a day with a line-up of your choice, even made up of completely different musicians, which ones would you choose?
Ben Batres: We have always been influenced heavily by the 80's metal scene, it doesn't really matter what instrument they played or what type of metal they played, we always loved the type of things they created.
An all-star jam would most likely look like this though:
Steve Grimmett - Vocals
Joe Satriani - Guitar
Reb Beach - Guitar
Joey Demaio - Bass
Vinny Appice - Drums
Now that would be killer!!

R&MimB: You toured with some of the most important bands on the Australian scene: can you tell us some tales about the bands you played with?
Ben Batres: We're really thankful for having the opportunity with playing some crazy ass shows with some of the craziest bands in Australia. I think playing alongside so many bands big or small as giving us the experience we need to tackle the world.
We've done shows were there has been 1 or 2 people in the room and then we have done shows that have been packed clubs or bars which is absolutely crazy!
Actually the other night we played a show in Tasmania, Australia which is about an hour flight from Melbourne and during the song "Elm St's Children" everyone from the crowd jumped on staged and went nuts! I'm talking EVERYONE from the crowd so we literally couldn't even play haha it was crazy and we loved every minute of it!

R&MimB: What about the producers of Barbed Wire Metal? How did you manage your work in the recording studio? Was it difficult to record the album?
Ben Batres: We worked with Ermin Hamidovic from Systematic Productions which is easily the best Australian based engineer in the country. He's worked with so many great bands and even from the start he's delivered nothing but quality albums so we were extremely excited to work with him when he agreed to co-produce the album. It was an extremely difficult album to record as it we had never been in the studio before, nobody had the experience of recording and not only was Ermin a perfectionist but we were too! The whole process took around 2 years in making the album sound the way it did but it was well worth it.

R&MimB: Are there any plans for a future European tour?
Ben Batres: Of course! We plan to hit the main cities in April/May this year with the hope of us basing ourselves in the UK for a couple of years after that. It will then allow us to travel between European countries a lot easier.

R&MimB: You played at the Arthouse in Melbourne. Can you explain us why that place is now closed?
Ben Batres: It was a great venue but like a lot of the Melbourne venues it was a real hard one to keep open. The government had recently brought in an increase to the price of holding a liquor license so it made it really hard and almost impossible for smaller venues to keep operating. Sadly it's still happening in Australia and more venues are closing so I couldn't imagine it being easy for any band to find regular gigs.

R&MimB: Do you think there is still the possibility of creating new things in the world of rock music or has everything been already written?
Ben Batres: We believe there is, everytime I listen or am exposed to a new band I always find something new. Even though every chord or progression possible could have been already played or recorded it doesn't mean you can't do it in a different way. I think a lot of bands that are influenced by similar artists like us have made metal their own and are putting their own spin on things which is really refreshing. I personally believe some of the bands coming out now like Skull Fist, White Wizzard or Ravage are 100 times better than some in the late 90's and early 2000's, so things are definitely looking up!

R&MimB: How about a message from Elm Street to the fans of "Rock & Metal In My Blood"?
Ben Batres: Thank you guys for all your kind words and kick ass support! We hope to see you on the road in 2012 and beyond and please don't be shy to jump on stage and headbang your hearts out with us!
Stay true and stay metal \m/!

Thank you very much to Ben Batres and ELM STREET! We all hope to see you very soon in Italy... Good Luck!!!

Paolo Valhalla Ribaldini