"We're the first band to play a gig on an iceberg, no-one can take that away from us!" The Defiled synth wizard The AvD sounds so jubilant and awestruck you'd think he was still standing on the floating hunk of ice in Greenland where the band recently set up their gear and performed to an audience of safety guides and boat drivers. "Playing the gig was mental. Who does that?!" he laughs. "We kept looking at each other going 'What the hell?!' I've never played a gig in a life preserver and wetsuit before! It's such a beautiful place but such a mental experience, we got to do things that not many people get to do. I feel blessed, I can't use any other word really."
Helping them in this heroic endeavour was Tom McShane, a former Marine who works for pioneering expedition team Secret Compass, specialising in “far-out, remote and crazy adventures.” Jägermeister approached Tom to ask if they could put The Defiled on an iceberg. They could.
“It is an inherently risky concept, it can’t be taken lightly,” Tom intones. “There’s a huge amount of planning and resources that go into making this happen. The band were brilliant, they were really up for it. There was a bit of apprehension, it is a dangerous thing we were undertaking, if anything went wrong there could be very severe consequences, but we mitigated the risks as much as possible.”
“I’ve never been surrounded by the prospect of death so much!” reckons AvD. “You can fall in the sea, get hit by some ice, pass out, get eaten by a polar bear, an iceberg cuts your boat in half… Every step of the way our guide had something to say about how we might die at any minute! But they’re such hardy people, everyone has a story about nearly losing their lives, or know someone who lost their life over there.”
Weather conditions demanded the gig take place the day after they arrived, so after boating off at 4am to find the right iceberg for the job, it was a question of hopping on and setting up as quickly as possible.
“I got a PA system and mini-generator and got it all fired up so they were actually playing live,” explains Tom. “I used to set up bands at my student union, so I ended up being the sound engineer. We taught the safety guides to be techs, even though they didn’t have a clue of the difference between a snare and a bass drum! I had to scale back the PA to 1000 watts, but it worked. It took about twenty minutes until we were good to go, it was quite slick!”
“It was a bit unnerving, getting from the boat onto the ice,” recalls AvD, “but when we started playing we started playing, you know? I was trying to stomp through the iceberg! Playing metal you do see red. We were so disoriented on there because it’s spinning around in all directions, everything around you is moving, you have no concept of where you are. But it’s harder playing a sweaty pub on a tiny stage! That’s how we started, so a nice big iceberg is a step up from that!”
“It was my first time in Greenland,” reveals Tom, “but it was incredible, the beauty of the mountains and icebergs and glaciers and whales. It was a truly unique experience that will be hard to beat.”
Check out the mini documentary about The Defiled’s iceberg experience below.
The Defiled tour the UK and Europe in November. Tom and Secret Compass are currently “trying to come up with some even crazier idea for what to put the next rock band onto.”
Dates for The Defiled’s tour are:
24 Nottingham Rescue Rooms 25 Glasgow Cathouse 26 Stoke Sugarmill 27 London O2 Academy Islington 28 Brighton Audio 29 Leeds Cockpit
1 Manchester Academy 3 2 Wolverhampton Slade Rooms 3 Bristol Thekla 4 Southampton Talking Heads