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An exclusive interview with Exit Strategy's Berwyn Waddon in April, 2015, with Paul Rance asking the questions

Q) Berwyn, can you tell us about your musical background and influences?

A) I first started playing guitar when I was 11, so It's been a long time.....It was kind of an accident really as my elder brother had bought a guitar and amp and was pretty much getting nowhere with it, so I thought I would give it a go and found that this was something that I could do and I have played ever since. As far as my background in music, I did all the usual, played in numerous bands etc and did session work for others etc, past is past. My influences are many and varied, as I tend to listen to different things for different reasons. But I suppose it all started with Punk and Post-Punk for me, everything from The Damned, The Clash to PiL, Killing Joke and everything in between. But over the years no matter what the genre was supposed to be I've always leaned towards the darker aspects of music, usually something with a message, whether it be political, social, combined with elements of the esoteric or the occult.

Q) Do you think the underground music scene has really benefited from the net. It can still seem, to me, a bit like banging your head against a brick wall to make an impression creatively because of all the competition?

A) This is a really difficult question to answer, as it's all swings and roundabouts. In my opinion it's definitely given musicians a bigger platform for getting themselves heard, plus it has given them the ability to collaborate with other musicians from all over the globe - which would have been nigh on impossible, and far beyond the means of most to do expense wise before the internet...All good things in my eyes. It's hard to say if the market is oversaturated or not, as you have to factor in the fact that people's listening habits have changed massively. People have more choice now than what they have ever had before, but also people's attention spans don't seem to be what they were. So if the music doesn't grab them within the first few seconds of a track they will move on without giving it a chance. Like I said, swings and roundabouts, many good things, many bad things...In some respects things haven't changed. If you want to get your music heard then you will always find a way to do so...That's always been the case.

Q) What are your ambitions for your music?

A) Simple answer to this really, just to get better at it and to keep evolving...I have always primarily made music for myself, if somebody else likes it and wants to listen to it then that is a bonus...Don't get me wrong, I'm very flattered that somebody may like or understand what I'm trying to do, but that is not the be all and end all for me - as I would certainly continue to create even if there wasn't any interest In what I do.

Q) You've referred to your music in the past rather humbly as "My noise". But don't you think people are more open now to music that's not just cheesy pop. You're probably having more success than Cliff (Richard) right now, eh?

A) Ha, ha, ha...I'll tell you the story about me referring to my noise as "My noise". All goes way back to when I was a kid. I would being playing stuff by whatever punk band that I was listening to at the time, as it was what I enjoyed listening to and playing as a means of practice. But obviously I could, by that point, play all sorts of different types of music...My mother would say to me you can play really nice music, so why do you always insist on playing that noise...So it's been "My Noise" ever since...Also, another reason, perhaps a more serious reason, I'm totally self taught. I have never had a lesson in my life, so I don't really consider myself to be a "Real musician". I'm just adept at making a noise that some may find favourable...Me and Cliff Richard in the same sentence, never thought I would ever see that, Ha,ha, ha.

Q) Who are some other artists you think we should keep an ear on, but who are still under the radar at the moment?

A) To be honest, at the moment, I'm not getting much time to listen to many other artists, as I'm so busy with recording with Exit Strategy, Voodoo Bible and a few other things. Of course I like all the projects that my partner in grime from ES and VB is involved with, such as Fear Incorporated (here's an exclusive, for which I will no doubt get into a lot of trouble for mentioning), whom I will be on guitar duties for shortly. Infra-Red, Dark Sinfonia and a few others William (Westwater) is involved with - he is quite prolific. Also, the thing with this type of question is that if I forget to mention someone, they will get upset as I mentioned such and such. So best I mention no one and then they can all be upset with me instead, ha, ha, ha...There are loads of great bands out there at present, and I don't think one has too go to far to find them.

Q) It's a brutal world out there and you don't flinch away from that in your music. Do you think too many artists are too scared to take risks and worry too much about what is commercial or not?

A) Good question...Yes it is indeed a brutal world out there, as you say. I certainly don't set out to make music which preaches to people in any way, and I'm sure that William doesn't do that either when writing his lyrics. But I'm not one for ignoring things and burying my head in the sand, so I guess we write about what we see is going on in the world currently. But I also think we take a different slant on this, rather than it being all about dystopia and the breakdown of modern society, as we combine this with a metaphysical approach encompassing the esoterical, spiritual - and to some extent the occult and how it may or may not relate to modern day thinking...I think you will always get those that will be afraid to take risks and maybe worry about what is commercial or not, which is a shame. But, at the same time, there are many like ourselves that won't shy away from using real issues as content.

Q) Best musical memories?

A) I have loads...I don't really know how to answer this. Seeing Iggy Pop for the first time, seeing PiL, seeing The Banshees. I could go on and on, the list would be endless.

Q) Do you take negative reviews on the chin, as opposed to chinning negative reviewers?

A) ha, ha, ha...All depends. I think that everybody is entitled to an opinion, and that opinion, whether it's negative or positive, is valid as long as it's a constructive and an informed opinion. I will say that I have noticed a trend lately for some reviewers to slate artists for the sake of doing so - with nothing constructive to say, just an outright bashing...We have been lucky so far and not really experienced this. At the end of the day I guess nobody likes to see that their work is being slated by someone, but you also have to respect that not everyone is going to like or understand what you are doing. So, you have to take it on the chin...Or put the reviewer in the boot of your car and take them for a little ride somewhere and explain to them the finer points of your latest artistic endeavour, ha, ha,ha.

Q) Who are the people that inspire you, generally?

A) Musically there is a lot that inspires me...In general I get more inspired by events rather than individuals, but, if I were pushed to say an individual, I would have to say that my daughter inspires me. She has Cystic Fibrosis, and her everyday struggle, without any complaints or moaning about her ailments, and the copious amount of drugs she has to take to get by is very humbling and inspiring. Puts a lot of things into perspective for me...Hope you wasn't expecting the stock answers like Gandhi, the Dalai Lama etc...

Q) Future plans - releases, gigs?

A) I/we are really busy at present. I'm currently recording guitar parts for the second Voodoo Bible album 'Black Tarot', which is due for release later this year on the Venus Aeon Record label. Other projects also on the go (which I can't really mention yet, one of which I mentioned above in an earlier question - which I know I will be in trouble for)...A few other collaborations may be on the cards for me also - providing I get the time, and then it will be back to working on new Exit Strategy material, as it has been some time since I have written any ES noise due to all the other things I have going on...We currently have no gigs planned, as we are simply so busy, but I really do hope that situation will rectify itself at some point. As it would be really good to see how some of this noise that we create will go down. I feel a lot of it would really come across well live.

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Last Modified: 25 April 2015