Terminal Gods

Svenja Block
Adam Mark Bennet
Adam Mark Bennet
Adam Mark Bennet

Ferocious and powerful, Terminal Gods meld dark, heavy rock sounds with classic British pop songwriting, and are making waves across Europe and the UK. Live, these ‘Disciples of Armageddon’ mix 70s hard rock and 80s new wave beats, backed by rows of drum machines, and they blast through their overdriven pop songs with real raw energy. Citing influences from Nick Cave to The Cult and Jesus & Mary Chain, they combine dark imagery and glorious production to great effect.

Their 12” EP Machine Beat Messiah on their label Heavy Leather had rave reviews, and they have teamed up with Palm Zone Records to release a Velvet Underground tribute EP with their wild version of ‘White Light/ White Heat’. Terminal Gods are: Robert Cowlin – Vocals, Robert Maisey – Lead Guitar and Drum Programming, Jonathon Campbell Ratcliffe – Bass Guitar, JC – Rhythm Guitar.

Heavy Leather

“Machine Beat Rock and Roll”

Terminal Gods have been creating waves with their powerful mix of riffs and brooding vocals, held together by brutal drum machine beats - the call their sound “Machine Beat Rock and Roll”. Their song Cold Life sees them bringing together dark themes and pop music, and they even got a mention from Steve Albini, the legendary producer and musician who’s worked with Nirvana and The Pixies.

When Rob wrote the original riff he had been listening to a lot of Big Black. Once it was recorded he sent Steve Albini a link to it, and Steve wrote back pretty much the same day saying how he appreciated the tribute, and that it ‘wasn’t bad’! We probably need to start using that quote a bit more….

Raw power

They are a great band to see live - powerful and compelling, and Robert Cowlin is a frontman to watch. He thinks it’s important to put everything into that role, and the songwriting and stage persona are crucially linked, even though he is not a ‘gun slinger’ off stage.

Normally the inspiration comes from cult movies and character style song-writing. One of the great things about rock n roll is that you can create any persona you want on stage and through your songs, I like taking advantage of that.

I’m most inspired by bands that have a “proper” singer - someone who isn’t playing another instrument and merely singing as an afterthought. Desperate Journalist and Partly Faithful come instantly to mind. Two great singers with real presence and character.

Songwriting - a collaborative process

Jonathan talked us through their songwriting process.

(Robert) Maisey will come up with a skeleton - usually drums, a guitar riff and a few hints of structure. JC and I add our instrument parts to it, then the four of us get together and jam it out. Once it’s at that stage (Robert) Cowlin will put some vocals to it and we’ll make final structural changes, maybe add a bit of texture. We’re constantly refining throughout. For instance, I never consider my bass parts to be finished, even once a song has been recorded. I always keep adding and changing parts here or there, it keeps the songs fresh for me, and hopefully also for audiences!

It’s all a pretty collaborative process, and I think our different backgrounds (both musical and otherwise), mean we all bring something interesting to the table. Also it probably helps that we all have quite high songwriting standards, so if at any point something doesn’t seem to feel right we don’t have a problem leaving it and moving on.

Keeping that live feel

The band are fans of venues that are rough around the edges, and give them an energy they don’t always feel when playing larger stages. They try and keep that feel when they record their songs such as Cold Life, says Jonathan.

We demoed and recorded it at a local studio where Rob (Maisey) works as a technician. We deliberately tried to keep it rough with a punky live feel, as the intention was always to put it out on tape at that stage. I think we’re all pretty happy with how it turned out, we’ve talked about re-recording it and while we probably will do it at some stage as it deserves the full treatment, I really like the energy we captured in this version.

The band have a keen eye for music production, making sure the sounds are exactly as they want right from the source, says Robert Cowlin.

The more ‘production’ you get done at the instrument end (i.e, before a note is recorded) the better the recording sounds. I’d much rather have our music sound authentic than processed. Our live performances are quite dynamic, and I’m keen for that element to be retained right the way through from recording to pressing.

Setting up a guerrilla studio

JC says recording Cold Life was a pretty relaxed affair.

We also have a great working relationship with Alex Gettinby, the man behind our previous EP ‘Machine Beat Messiah’, personally that was the first recording experience I actually enjoyed! We set up a guerrilla studio at his house in South London – there were cables running up and down stairs into different rooms, we’d stay up late listening to our work and eat pizza… we were drunk for a lot of it. Thinking back, it’s strange that we got such a crisp clear recording out of it.

Adam Mark Bennet

The band also realises that a relationship with an engineer needs to extend beyond the studio.

We always insist that an engineer/producer see us perform live before they record us. We want to get as much of that live energy (both aural and visual) into the grooves as possible. Alex also came to see us a bunch and got to know the band - that’s very important to us.

The band’s inspirations are varied says JC.

I like to think we balance each other off nicely, there’s a lot of cold new wave influence in there but at the end of the day, we’re all rock n’ roll fans. I guess collective inspirations would include bands like Depeche Mode, The Cult and The Stooges. When we go out together, bands that tend to inspire us all are probably just the loudest, we’ve all taken inspiration from local bands we see like Dressmaker, The Sly Persuaders and Cold in Berlin.