2013 delivered a nasty blow for London’s hotly tipped heavy metal mob, Collapse.
Vocalist Duncan Wilkinson could no longer be a vocalist. Not just for Collapse, but for anyone. The singer had developed throat problems and medical advice was to refrain from singing again.
It couldn’t have come at a worse time for the band, who had just delivered their debut full length album “Arms and The Covenant” to blanket critical praise. But that wasn’t going to keep the lads down. Oh no.
Fast forward to March 2014 and Collapse are now back in motion, announcing the addition of new vocalist Harry Watson (ex- InComa) to their ranks, completing once again, their decimating quintet.
Founder member and Guitarist Andy Ongley commented on the union:
We were bowled over by all the standard of vocalists we had get in touch and took our time to try them all out, but there was no doubt in the end that Harry was the right guy for the job. Everything about him fits the band perfectly, his personality, his approach and work ethic but most of all that monstrous voice. We decided to re-record a track from Arms and the Covenant with Harry’s vocals to give away so everyone can hear how us sounding like Collapse on steroids!
Because we’re nosey, MetalMouth got in touch with Harry to get the skinny on the new singers background and vitals, and whilst you’re reading, do check out the free download track to get a taste of what is to come from the new incarnation of one of London’s brightest metal hopes.
Firstly, please tell me a little about yourself and previous projects, and what vocal pedigree does Harry bring to Collapse?
I am based in London and have been messing around in bands for a good few years now. I started out primarily playing guitar before taking a shot at singing for a laugh. Since then I’ve handled vocal duties for some really awesome bands including Blackout, Ventflow, Hostile Dawn and InComa. I’m very lucky to have played with some excellent bands on the UK scene, and to have met some very very awesome people.
How did you land the position of vocalist and how long ago did this happen?
The position was recommended to me by a friend (Craig Daws – SMT) towards the end of last year. He put me onto the band as well as helping me to get an audition track recorded. I submitted the track and the guys brought me in for an audition in December which was fucking awesome. Pretty nerve wracking but it was a great vibe and they are extremely easy to work with. Following my audition they had a few other guys to try out, I was brought back in early Feb for a second audition which turned out to be successful, they offered me the job a week later!
What was the criteria they sought, did you tick all their boxes instantly?
Collapse have achieved some immense things already and that’s been through hard work, dedication and producing spine shattering tunes. I think they were looking for someone who understood that and was prepared to put in the same effort. They set me some writing tasks as well as auditioning their current material, talking to the guys at the time it was pretty clear we are all on the same wavelength.
I know the other guys they had audition were all amazing, so I’m pretty chuffed to have made it through!
I still feel terribly sorry for Duncan with his voice issues, have you spoken to him? Has he given you the approval nod?
I have never actually met Duncan, although I am familiar with some of the work he’s done with Needleye and obviously Collapse. The guy is incredibly talented and is a HELL of an act to follow. I don’t know if he’s given the nod of approval but it would be a huge compliment to me if he did so!
Was it ever a disbanding situation for Collapse or was there always a plan to find a new vocalist?
I don’t think there was ever a threat of the band being derailed even with Duncan being a founding member, there’s a drive to succeed in the band which comes before everything else. I get the impression that the communication between Duncan and the guys was open and amicable, which allowed them to be handle the change as well as possible.
A new vocalist will always have comparisons drawn to the previous, do yourself and Duncan have similar vocal tones and styles?
This is something I was dreading after doing the initial recording of The Cursed! I think there are similarities but there’s enough of a difference that we both have our own identities. I’m coming into this from a background of vocally extreme music, less melody and less dynamic range, more aggression and low end. Taking on the tracks that Duncan has already recorded meant adapting to his unique style and learning a few new techniques, which all goes towards expanding what I can do and making me better as a vocalist.
(Collapse have re-recorded their track ‘The Cursed’ with Harry’s vocals, which they are offering as a free download below)
How do you think Collapse fans will react to you?
So far the response to the track we released has been mental! It’s very much put to rest any doubts I was having and has got me totally stoked for the live shows! That’s where I have to really make it count I think, taking this to the stage and giving the fans a brutal show.
What about prior material already written, how do you plan to approach performing those songs live?
I’ve got the current set list pretty much nailed down now and I’ve been pretty faithful to the original recordings in how I’m performing them, because it just sounds devastating. Every band I’ve been in has seen me evolve as a frontman, I plan to hit the stage with the same intensity the rest of the guys have and make the songs my own in doing so.
What are you going to bring to the band aside from a new set of pipes? Are you a confident kick ass frontman?
Being a frontman is something I’ve had to work at and I think that there will always be places to improve, if you’re not learning then you’re standing still. That being said, the noise we’re putting out there is so aggressive that I think it will be easy to get into the groove and dominate the stage!
Who are some of your own personal influences, both vocally and musically?
Vocalists such as Jens Kidman, Philip Anselmo, Travis Ryan, Daniël de Jongh and Guy Kozowyk all had a big influence on me vocally and musically. The guy that inspired me to start doing vocals in the first place was Chuck Billy of Testament, the guy is a legend! Watching and gigging with some guys from more local bands in the UK such as Jason Smith (Stoneghost), Mark (Alternative Carpark) and Jonas Hellborg (F.S.I) also helped me to develop as a frontman.
Have you begun writing as yet? And again, will Collapse remain as we knew them or is this a total musical phoenix rebirth situation?
The guys brought me straight into the writing for the new material and simply put, it’s crushing. I think there will be a noticeable progression from the older material thanks to how open the writing is and how focussed we are on creating something timeless. From the tracks we have already, I know the new material will be much much heavier!
Any tour dates locked n loaded as yet, will we see any outings in 2014?
We are confirmed for Alt Fest (15th – 18th Aug) which is looking amazing, as well as the Out Of The Ashes Festival (11th – 13th July) which has a blinding line up! There’s a couple of shows being lined up in May with Bull Riff Stampede and Cambion, and a couple of festivals that are still hanging in the balance at this point.
Lastly, visually speaking you are another marked departure from the long haired Duncan, will you be growing your barnet?
I only recently chopped it all off! I had long hair for almost 10 years and decided it was time for a change, although when I get back on stage and have nothing to whirlwind with I may end up regretting it!
“Arms and The Covenant” is out now on iTunes via Transcend Music