Stampin' Ground are definitely one of the best British hardcore bands around. Now celebrating ten years in the making, Room Thirteen meets vocalist Adam 'Bomb' Frakes-sime and drummer Neil Hutton to find out about the current state of play.

R13: So when did Stampin' Ground get together?
AF: Stampin' Ground formed in 1995 as basically one of the first metallic hardcore bands - definitely in England and Europe. There were bands in America like Integrity, Stampin' Ground formed and took the lead from those bands really.
R13: Who was in the original line-up?
AF: That's still in the band now? Mopps who plays guitar and Scott who plays guitar. I joined New Years Day '98 and we signed to Century Media, that's when things started to move along a little bit. Since then we've made three albums. Neil joined...
NH: 2002 and Ben joined the following year 2003.
AF: That's the line-up we've really pushed and toured a lot with.

R13: Are you still promoting the album you released in 2003 'A New Darkness Upon Us'?
AF: Yeah.
R13: What was it like working with the legendary Andy Sneap?
AF: It was great. It was cool because we'd recorded our last couple of records at his studio but not with him doing it. We had another guy, Dave Chang, who isn't really a producer, he just records bands. But we'd wanted Andy for a long time, so we renegotiated with the label for a better deal basically so we could afford Andy. He really pushed us and I think we came out of recording a better band to be honest.
R13: Were there major differences between recording with Dave Chang and Andy Sneap then?
AF: Oh God yeah.
NH: You can hear it in the albums. If you put on 'Carved...' and then you put on the new one then there's a definite...well each Stampin' Ground album has been a progression.Musically and production wise.
We're still in touch with him [Andy Sneap] now. Scott goes down and has curries with him once a month.
Scott's actually got into that sort of thing now, mixing and producing.

R13: What have you been up to for the last two years since the release of the album?
AF: Basically, from when the album was released we've been playing the whole time until about four months ago. We toured with The Haunted, a couple of headline tours ourselves around England. One-offs in Europe headlining. All round Eastern Europe and Greece. We supported Anthrax all round Europe and Arch Enemy, Chimaira.
R13: Have you written any new material?
AF: We're not writing at the moment, no.
R13: Are there plans for any new releases?
AF: Yeah, I should expect so, we'll see what happens. We've played for a long time then we've had a break from the band. This tour we're not promoting anything we're just basically playing, we want to do some shows, it's good fun and we've missed it. We haven't got round to writing anything yet so if we do it it will be straight after this tour I imagine.

R13: In the last ten years of touring who has been your favourite band to tour with?
AF: AFI were really good fun to tour with because it was just so different to what we play, it was a real challenge and I was surprised at how well we went down. That was going back a while now but it was really good fun. Anthrax and Hatebreed were good fun too. Soulfly sucked fucking arse, they were shit.
NH: Soulfly?
AF: They were shit.
NH: Amazing drummer.
AF: Amazing drummer, yeah.
NH:But we haven't really come across anyone we've not got on with.
R13: Do you prefer to headline or support?
AF: I really don't care. In a way it's kind of a challenge to win people over who haven't heard you before and watch them leave with a CD and a couple of t-shirts. But of course headlining...
NH: You're established if you're headlining, you know most of the people in the venue are there to see you and that makes you feel good, like you've made an impact. You've kind of got the run of things, a bit more control.
R13: Have you ever been put off by people in the crowd?
AF: No, in fact people years ago used to heckle more and were more hardwork. I liked that in a way, it's fun. But people are to polite nowadays. I heckle hardcore bands, just trying to keep the spirit alive.

R13: When was the last time 'Demons Run Amok' was on your stereo?
AF: You've never had it on your stereo have you Neil? Demons Run Amok.
NH: No.
AF: Mine is...a lot of years ago. I think it's rubbish. Well no it's not, it's just...
NH: I asked for it but nobody would give it to me, so that's what they think of it.
AF: The band was in a transitional stage, they weren't getting on with their singer. When I joined we played a couple of songs off it but just wasn't happening live, it didn't work. The material is alright to listen on your stereo it's not a record that's built for live. But if they hadn't made it we wouldn't have learnt vital lessons.
R13: It's not a must-have album for metal enthusiasts then?
AF: It got reviews and people like it but for me, if I can't see something happening live then I know I won't like it pretty much.
R13: You wouldn't recommend it to someone who hadn't heard Stampin' Ground before then?
AF: It's not a good representation.
R13: Which would you recommend then?
AF: The latest one 'A New Darkness Upon Us'. It's our strongest songs to date and it's more aggressive than anything we've done.
R13: Which are your favourite tracks?
AF: 'Dead From The Neck Up'.
NH: It's a fucking tough one...
AF: Performing live I enjoy 'Bare The Scars'.
NH: 'Dead From The Neck Up' always goes down well.
AF: After 'Demons...' we finally realised what worked live and what didn't and just capitalised on it. We played so many shows you just see what moves audiences and what doesn't.
NH: We've tried to take the best elements from each album on this tour. Lately we've been touring and promoting the latest CD and doing a lot of new songs. This time the set list was more geared towards the older tunes.
We're not promoting anything, the album's been out for a couple of years now, we just wanted to tour and celebrate ten years of the band.

R13: Has Stampin' Ground's outlook and goals changed over the years?
AF: Totally. There weren't any hardcore bands when we started out and we couldn't get shows because we weren't metal or didn't have long hair and stuff like that, even getting press was hardwork. Then people started paying attention and now you've got a million hardcore bands.
R13: Do you think the changes in the last five years to the genre, especially the fact it's got a lot more commercial, are a good thing or a bad thing?
AF: It's the kind of music I'm into so it's good. There are a lot of good bands around, it's not like it's all shit.
NH: The good bands don't get to be as big as they should be.
AF: It's all about money at the end of the day. It's hard enough being a British band even though you wouldn't think it.
NH: You can make a record label money then the record company will look after you, absolutely never rule that out. I think Roadrunner are an amazing label and the way they promote bands is outstanding. A lot of their bands aren't very good but they still get all the kids so fair play to them. Century Media is a great label for us, it's seen to be a major label now but it really isn't. It was set up by a couple of guys that wanted to release their own material. So even though it's a big company now it was brought about by a DIY work ethic.
R13: Have you felt under pressure from the label to meet certain criteria?
AF: It makes no difference, we ain't gonna change. Ten years is a long time and we've seen so many bands look like they're going to do really well, they get really good reviews for the album and then split up. It's fucking bullshit. If you were really into music in the first place you'd carry on, fucking keep playing if you love it.

R13: Are there any bands that you've seen go past you in the notoriety stakes?
AF: Sick Of It All. That's the only band.
NH: Without sounding arrogant all the bands we've toured with, certainly since I've been in the band, not that it is a competition, but you can judge how well you did on nights on tour. A lot of times we've pushed a headlining band. I think we do warm the crowd up, especially if it's a big crowd.
AF: We give it our all every night. One thing we've kept from the old hardcore scene is audience participation.
It's a musical meeting. Our aim is to get everyone involved and make them feel like there are no outsiders at a show.

R13: What's been the biggest achievement for Stampin' Ground?
AF: I think the biggest achievement for myself is making the album. We're all quite critical people, we all like listening to bands and it's rare that I think anything is actually good. Ninety-nine percent is shit. I think we've made an outstanding album and I'm proud of it. Also I don't think I've ever let myself down, for instance there may not be many people at a gig but I'll still give it my all, it doesn't matter what injuries I have, that's just me.
NH: We have achieved a hell of a lot. We got to play Donington, we made this killer album - I haven't read a negative word about it yet.
R13: Is there anything that you hope for?
AF: I wish the music industry would get behind us a little more.
NH: If we could be in a position to earn a living from doing what we do.
R13: You all have jobs then?
AF: We all did give up work when we were touring, but it backfired. So we've gone back to square one and back to full time jobs.
NH: I work in a drum shop. Adam...
AF: I'm digging holes.
NH: Adam's a builder. Scott's an engineer. Paul's an electrician and Ben's....
AF: I don't know what the fuck Ben does.
NH: As long as we get to play that's the main thing.

R13: So parting words from Stampin' Ground...
AF: We've been playing a long time now and we fucking love it and that's the only motivation to play. We live so far apart rehearsing isn't easy, everything is like an uphill struggle. We get betrayed every step of the way. We haven't been to America promoting this latest release, even though we get press. The record company paid for our visas but we just keep getting fucked over on tours which is very irritating especially when people want money to play with them. But we're still going and our output is better on every release, it surprises me in a way. We might come across as happy but we're bitter as hell. But if you ever come and see Stampin' Ground one thing you can guarantee is we'll give it our all more than any band I can think of.