by Ferdy Belland
CALGARY – “It’s our first tour of Canada,” beams Joshua McMorran, lead guitarist / bandleader / sole original member of the United Kingdom’s melodic death-metal Uruk-hai Bloodshot Dawn.
“It’s our first North American tour in general – 14 shows over 15 days, so it’ll be awesome! Æpoch’s our tour-buddies for the whole stretch. They’ve been really good to us; they arranged our tour-van and have been driving us around. It’s so great to have them on board. They’ve just released their own album, so it’s good timing for them as well!”
Bloodshot Dawn’s Canadian tour is no mean feat, and the result of long, hard work.
“Unfortunately, the cost of American work visas is out of our range right now,” McMorran confides. “We’re self-funded. We rely on concert receipts and merchandise sales to get from A to B, like every other striving band in the metal scene. To get to the United States, it takes a mountain of paperwork, and lots of confirmed advance bookings, and lots of money up front to make it happen. Of course we want to play the United States in the future, so touring Canada is a stepping stone of sorts where we can prove that we can do the long drives. It’s a different beast than touring the [United Kingdom], or even Europe in general. Hopefully we’ll attract the attention of motivated promoters who’d be willing to get us into the US. If it were worth it for us, we’d definitely grab it by the horns!”
Formed by McMorran in Portsmouth (Hampshire, U.K.) in 2003, Bloodshot Dawn has spent the past 15 years in gradual high-decibel acceleration up the global metal ladder, gradually moving from strong release to strong release and making a much-respected name for itself as a sweat-flinging live band, almost as wild as the riffs themselves. Despite the lurching agony of having all three of his longstanding bandmates quit around him, McMorran reassembled a new Bloodshot Dawn and has flung forth a new, third album: Reanimation – a terrific return to form all around.
“The critical response to Reanimation has been epic,” McMorran shares. “It was a bit of a comeback album for us. We almost had to start over from scratch. But the positive feedback we’ve gotten from fans and critics has been nothing short of fantastic. It’s reignited us to be bolder and tour outwards to audiences we haven’t reached before – such as Canada!”
Few bands (metal or otherwise) survive such a drastic upheaval in personnel, but McMorran’s never-say-die determination has certainly ran him through the emotional (and professional) gauntlet, emerging out the other end bigger and better than ever – with a little help from a Canadian.
“Morgan Reid was born and raised in Toronto, so we certainly have legitimate Canadian Content!” quips McMorran. “With the previous lineup, myself and the old bandmembers had our own stubborn ideas of what we wanted to achieve. Obviously we all had common musical ground to write our first two albums together with, but there was more than a bit of struggle involved. As there always is, with every band. With the new guys, everything changed. We now all wanted to strike the same targets and approach the same sound. We’re definitely a more cohesive unit on the composing side of things now, as well as a better live unit. It’s such a good feeling all around.”
A respectable rebound for Bloodshot Dawn – and a revitalized creative atmosphere to boot.
“Fortunately for me, Morgan contacted me the very day Ben (Ellis, previous guitarist) left, if you can believe it,” says McMorran. “I’d appreciated Morgan’s series of online guitar videos. He’d been successful with many Internet guitar competitions, landing in the Top Ten and such, so he was already on my radar. I already knew I’d be eager to work with him. So when it was him reaching out to me? I felt pretty damn good about the future. Losing a band member and gaining a band member in one day? I’d call that a rare occurrence, especially when you’re talking about a musician of Morgan’s caliber. It was very encouraging, just to know that it wasn’t the end of Bloodshot Dawn. To know that there were heartfelt musicians out there who believed in Bloodshot Dawn, and wanted to be a part of it, and wanted to push it in the direction it needed to go. Our two composing styles compliment each other, for sure. It was a completely fresh approach for both us when we got together. We both know what we like, and we both like similar things. So that’s awesome.”
McMorran’s respect for his new guitar-slinging sidekick shows that his bandmates are peers, and not subordinates.
“Morgan’s full of ideas,” says McMorran, “And he just machine-guns the riffs out of nowhere – hundreds and hundreds of them – and to be involved with someone THAT creative before we even sit down to song write? It’s just amazing. We had riffs piled up to our knees! It made the songwriting so easy. We’d be inspired by certain riffs that we’d treat almost as separate entities from each other…wow. His talent is unbelievable. He inspired me into doing my part better than before, and it was so fun and exciting. Discovering the creative magic between us was something else.”
One of the many blood-racing highlights of Reanimation is the guest appearance of Nevermore / Arch Enemy guitar god Jeff Loomis, which was a thrilling personal victory for McMorran.
“Jeff is an idol to us, obviously,” he gushes. “He’s one the first 7-string guitar heroes. I love Nevermore’s earlier work, such raw talent. We always wanted him involved as a collaborator, and guest musicians in the studio have always been part of our thing. To get our favorite guitarists to play solos for our songs? Just awesome! Fortunately for us. our producer was good friends with Jeff, and put the bug in his ear. He checked out our music, and liked it, and from there? I composed a part for Jeff to solo over, and it ended up just incredible, really. What he sent back to us was mind-blowing! So of course we were more than happy. And Jeff himself was a complete gentleman. He told us openly that he enjoyed Bloodshot Dawn, and invited me out to an Arch Enemy show. Just a super genuine guy. It was a honor to have him on our album.”
The newfound fire and fury in the band shows no sign of slowing down as the year roars onward.
“2018’s turning out to be a very busy year for us,” says McMorran. “We’re booked to play Hellfest in France, so it’ll be incredible to play alongside Iron Maiden! The thing of dreams. We’re also playing Bloodstock in the UK, which has a passionate metal crowd too. And we get to play with Judas Priest! And then we’re heading off for a four-day tour of Japan. Our fourth Japanese tour to date – and playing to our largest audiences there yet! It’s building really strong for us there. That’s by far our hottest market.”
Bloodshot Dawn’s upcoming Calgary appearance holds a special place in Joshua McMorran’s musical anticipation.
“Calgary’s our last show of the Canadian tour, so we’re eager to have a great party!” he says. “Looking forward to seeing all the Calgary metalheads up front in the pit. We’re here to have a good time and enjoy ourselves – and hopefully that’ll translate over to the crowd! And please come say hello to us! We’re very approachable people. We love to talk. Say hi! Have a drink!”
Bloodshot Dawn perform on April 27 at Starlite Room (Edmonton) and on May 1 at Distortion (Calgary) with guests Aepoch, False Flag, and Detherous.Bloodshot Dawn, death metal, False Flag, technical death metal