THE SHREDDERZ Guitarist VINCENT BARLOW Breaks Down Star-Studded Debut Album, Hopes to Help Spotlight Unsigned Bands

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The Shredderz have been unleashed from hell! Heavy overlords Raz, Vincent, Weasel, Donny, Nigel, and their manager Lydia burst into the collective consciousness of the metal masses earlier this summer with the release of their self-titled debut album, which features a legitimate who’s who of special guest contributors.

Guitarist Vincent Barlow caught up with Metal Injection for a deep dive Q&A, touching on the ensemble’s inventive and fan friendly presentation, The Shredderverse, recruiting legends of the genre for their debut album and much more!

Take us through the idea of constructing a band like Shredderz with a lore and mythology established straight away in the vein of Gwar, Dethklok, etc. It really adds another layer that fans can immerse themselves in. Almost throwback, or retro, yet with a completely modern approach.

Weezel, myself and Donald had been playing together for a few years in a band called Leather Sword. When we fired our singer and our bass player and added Raz on vocals and Nigel on bass, we felt that a new name and attitude was called for. Everybody in the band comes from a little different background, so everybody brings something unique to the table music-wise. We’ve always looked at our band as just five guys playing the heavy metal tunes that we love, but I suppose every band has a back story and we’re no different.

But yes, since the record dropped more and more people ask us about how we got together and want to know more about us on a personal level. Our management has really been pushing us to put “our story” out there. I’m told that they’ve hired an artist to tell our story in comic book form, which is actually kind of cool. I think that comes out pretty soon.

Involving fans in the Shredderverse is a fantastic idea. Can you walk us through the inspiration to give fans such an in-depth involvement in so many aspects of the project? The fans are almost a seventh member at this point.

Ha yes, The Shredderverse. Some of our loyal fans started calling it that. As this record started to come together and as we grew a bit closer to having it wrapped up, our management suggested that we involve the fans more in our decision making process for some things. At first, to be honest, we were a bit dismissive, as we always do things how we want to do them.

But we eventually warmed up to the idea, and frankly it’s been really cool. We have a pretty devoted fan base, so we thought we’d take that into consideration and open up the floor to what they want. We don’t always listen [laughs], but they really do come up with some great ideas.

To say this record has a who’s who of special guest collaborators would be putting it mildly. Can you walk us through the inclusion of so many legends in the scene? Were there any massive bucket list ‘gets’ or those you were stoked to have on board?

All the guest shredderz on this record really came out of nowhere. It’s quite an odd story that we still haven’t been given a real answer on how exactly it all came to be. Basically, we had the record nearly complete when our manager came into the studio and informed us that Alex Skolnick was going to do a guest shred on the album. We were floored.

Personally, I have been a HUGE fan of his guitar work since the first Testament recordings and beyond. So having him on the record was a massive compliment to us as a band, being worthy of his guitar greatness. It was incredible to watch him work. But shortly after that our manager told us that George Lynch was going to do a guest shred. GEORGE LYNCH?! Holy crap. Then it was GARY HOLT, BRANDON ELLIS, and it went on and on and just kinda snow-balled.

Next thing we knew the record was LOADED with metal guitar heroes. It’s very humbling to have so many greats involved on our very first record. There was some “disagreements” on who’s solos, mine or Weezel‘s, were going to get replaced. But in the end ALL of our guest shredderz made the entire record so killer, it didn’t matter.

From a pure songwriting or musical standpoint, this band feels like a love letter to the thrash, death and trad heavy metal so many of us grew up idolizing. Did you aim to have Shredderz rooted in a particular time, while also staying maneuverable enough and layered to keep things fresh?

As I was saying earlier, we all come from different backgrounds, so when we get into the practice spot to write, we all bring our own personal influences to the songs. Weezel [our other guitarist] is a tried and true thrasher. He comes from a lifetime diet of bay-area thrash. So his riffs, speed and solos really bring that element into the mix.

Donald, our drummer, is a total animal, but he’s as technical as he is hard-hitting and really drives the ship. Our singer Raz brings in all sorts of vocal influences. He’s got such a unique style and delivery and a great range. Plus he’s constantly working at improvement and stretching his boundaries.

And our newest member Nigel, oddly enough, comes from a punk rock background. Weezel described him as John Entwisle on speed, and that’s a pretty on point description. As for me, I’m more a student of the heavy metal guitar. All the greats like Schenker, Satriani, Blackmore, and others have been my inspirations since I started playing. BUT, when you put it all together, we all have the same vision musically. Occasionally we clash and butt heads, but in the end we all agree on the same goal and overall sound of what we want to do.

We love our old-school metal roots, ripping solos, dynamic vocals with a hard-hitting backbone holding it all together. I guess you can call what we do a fresh approach on classic 80’s heavy metal.

Can you see yourselves taking the next step with Shredderz and performing live? Perhaps where member-anonymity remains intact through cinematic means or costumes, or do you see a day where you will pull back the curtain a little more? Or conversely, has this always been aimed at being solely a creative project?

Yes, we’d eventually take the band on the road, but like everything else it’s got to be the right situation and timing. There’s plenty of bands these days wearing masks and such. I dunno if we’d feel the need to do that. As you can see from our press kit, we are all pretty decent looking. Well, Nigel is a little “worn”, but he’s charming, so…

Perhaps this is a cliche, but what’s next? What’s the future have in store for The Shredderz?

Actually, we have plans to get back into the studio for some more recording sessions. Perhaps a short EP. There was talk about some original music for some films, perhaps a cover song or two, but we’ll see. For the release of our new record we were able to construct our own imprint label, so we actually might release some recordings of the band members’ previous bands. But also we might start helping unsigned bands get their music out. There’s so many killer bands out there that NEED to be heard.

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