Krokodil: For Those About To Krok

"Slipknot? First I’ve heard of it, mate. There’s nothing I can say, sorry.” “That’s what the rumours are, right? It’s none of my business.” Currently, the attention of every metalhead with an internet connection is centred on the rumours that the upcoming riff-storm that is Krokodil have a member – V-Man – serving double-duty as the new Slipknot bassist.

It’d be careless of Hammer not to hound guitarists Laurent ‘Lags’ Barnard (he also of Gallows) and Daniel P. Carter (also of A, Hexes and the radio) for confirmation of something that, if true, could have huge implications for their band. But, as expected, they remain tightlipped.“If you look online, everyone seems to have made up their minds,” offers Dan, playfully. “It’s just rumour and conjecture. I’m sure Slipknot will be happy to tell everybody who is in their band at some point.” They continue to hold their tongues when we try to pry further by mentioning that since the new Slipknot drummer has been semi-confirmed as Jay Weinberg, it looks like it won’t be long until V-Man is revealed to the public, but it is, for now, to remain a mystery…

What isn’t a secret are the gruesome images that greet anyone who Googles the word ‘Krokodil’ – a highly addictive homemade drug with flesh-eating side effects and, now, this exciting new British metal band also featuring members of SikTh, Cry For Silence and Canaya. On the nature of that grim choice of moniker for this latest and most promising of supergroups, the guys are much more open.

“It blows my mind. How good does a drug have to be that you don’t give a fuck about your skin hanging off your bones?” wonders Lags.

It was Daniel who chose the band name, and he, too, is in awe of the toxic intravenous drug as he regales Metal Hammer with the horrific details of a video in which a Krokodil addict has his fleshless legs lopped off at the knee by a doctor wielding a wire saw, who then tosses the detached limbs into a bin bag while the guy watches on from his wheelchair.

“I can’t even fathom how desperate you’ve got to be to start using opiates anyway,” says Daniel. “But to then go, ‘Actually, as heroin is kind of expensive, I’m just gonna make my own out of codeine, caffeine pills and petrol…’”

Indeed, the extremity of it is hard to wrap your head around if you’re free from the throes of serious opiate addiction, but there’s no doubting that, as a band name, the brutal premise behind Krokodil is metal to the bone.

As for the band, their genesis goes back a few years to a fateful evening when Daniel and Lags were DJing the opening of a Birmingham club night. Lags invited his mates, SikTh bassist James Leach and Cry For Silence guitarist Alex ‘V-Man’ Venturella, to hang out, and the four guys got hammered and decided to form a band, one focused on the unbridled power of the riff.

“About four days afterwards I called everyone and I was like, ‘Now that we’re sober, are we still gonna do this?’” laughs Daniel, “and everyone seemed quite up for it.”

Daniel then set about crafting demos at home to send to the rest of the band, which now included Sikth’s visionary drummer Dan Foord, while vocalist Simon Wright (ex-Tangaroa, Canaya) joined shortly thereafter.

“There was a lot of file sending,” confirms Lags. “A lot of ideas started with Daniel, so he’d record demos at home and then James and Dan Foord would take the ideas and structure them, adding a more progressive/tech touch to it all.”

“I’ve played in a fair few bands,” adds Daniel, “but never one with a drummer like Dan.”

Indeed, Daniel played in a number of bands before becoming a respected radio personality. He first came to consciousness as bassist for chart-bothering alt-rockers A, who had some serious commercial success in the past. So, how does the former A-man compare his old music to the heavier, more technical Krokodil?

“I dunno… I’ve never really thought of it,” he admits. “They’re both just bands that I play in or have played in. When I write music I don’t sit there and go, ‘Today I’m going to write a song that sounds like this…’”

After speaking to Daniel and Lags, you get the impression that heavy music has always been a huge part of their lives. But while Gallows set the British underground alight over the last decade, their music, though not short of metallic moments, doesn’t really reflect how much of a metalhead Lags actually is.

“I’ve always been into heavier bands,” confirms Lags. “Growing up I just seemed to like the heavier end of Mogwai and things like that, so you’re only a step away from Neurosis. It’s fun to do something that’s just solely heavy. There’s no bullshit on this record, it just immediately grabs people’s attention.”

Indeed, regardless of Slipknot’s impending announcements (Hammer’s money is on V-Man, by the way), Krokodil’s debut album, Nachash, will undoubtedly grab the attention of metalheads worldwide, given the fact that not only are the members sourced from first-rate UK acts, but because the music demands it. Daniel states that in the end they decided against having a bunch of mates appear on Nachash so as to prevent it from becoming “Krokodil and their Famous Friends”. Although, Biffy Clyro’s Simon Neil sings on Sun Riders and they also came close to securing what would have been a God-like guest spot.

“There were a couple of other people besides Simon that we asked,” reveals Daniel, “but the only other person we got down the line with was Tony Iommi, which would’ve been amazing!”

Shit. The. Bed. How did that come about?

“Well, at the end of one of the songs there’s this real doomy riff and I was like, ‘We need a solo there!’ So I sent Tony that section via his management and he said, ‘I like it, can you send me the rest of the song so I can get a feel for it?’ But I’d only sent him the end section because it is the fastest song on the record and I thought, ‘He’s not going to get to the end if he puts this on!’ So we reluctantly sent him the rest… and it was a bit much for him, I think. But fair enough, the guy’s really busy – and he invented heavy metal. I’m happy that if I’m gonna get blown out by anyone… it’d be him!”

Because of their instantaneous status, Krokodil have already played some huge shows such as Download 2013 and this year’s Sonisphere and Bloodstock (Download was actually their first gig together, which they played after one proper rehearsal). Now they’ve secured a support slot on Mastodon’s November UK tour – all of which are truly impressive achievements for a new band about to release their first full-length on an unsuspecting world.

But, as is the case with other bands made from established musicians (Daniel quips that he prefers the term ‘superb group’ to ‘supergroup’), there will unquestionably be razor-sharp yet undeserved criticism aimed at Krokodil from those who claim they haven’t paid their dues. Daniel has personally smelt the foul scent of cynicism in the past, particularly when he formed the hardcore punk band Hexes in 2006.

“People were like, ‘Oh that guy was in A, he can’t like music like this as well!’, and it’s kind of close-minded,” states Dan wearily, before becoming more fiery when we mention that possibility of further condemnation from disgruntled bands spouting negative comments because of the opportunities presently falling at the feet of Krokodil.

“We’ve all driven around in postal vans and we’ve all slept on floors. That wasn’t just ‘back in the day’, that’s recently. So if one of our mates in another band asks us to play shows, and that band happens to be one of the biggest metal bands on the planet, who’s gonna go, ‘Actually we should do another 60 shows around the toilets!’ If people have a problem with that, tough. Put the hours in that everyone in this band has over the years and then we can have that conversation, but until then, suck it up.”

“A lot of people are going to think, ‘They only got this far because of who they know,’” notes Lags. “That’s half true, but we’ve got this far because of the hard work we have done before. And the music speaks for itself. I’m just looking forward to people hearing what a bunch of friends can do after a drunken conversation!”

Nachash is out now via Spinefarm. Krokodil will be hitting the road with Mastodon this month.