Glaswegian metallers Syth released one of our favourite straight up modern metal albums at the tail end of 2018 in the shape of Road to Infinity. What with the world in lockdown we thought it would be the perfect time to catch up with Syth guitarist Baz Fitzsimmons, to get a bit of background to the band, the Road to Infinity album and to ask a few less serious questions. Fortunately Baz was happy to oblige.
When did Syth form?
“A good many years before I was in it! Mark (drums) and Shaun Nelson (guitar on the Warzone album) met in North Glasgow college in 1999 and quickly came up with the idea of starting a band. Various incarnations of the line-up came and went before I joined the band in mid 2005 during the recording of Warzone.”
Why such a long gap (9 years) between Syth’s second album The Reckoning and Road to Infinity ?
“When we recorded The Reckoning that was going to be our big push as it were. We were in our mid to late 20’s so felt it was a now or never moment in terms of getting ‘that deal’. Despite getting some great support slots, we had a real run of personal bad luck which impacted us, there’s no doubt. Our bassist at the time wanted to focus more on his cover band, so I ended up becoming disillusioned and threw the band on the scrap heap.”
We loved Road To Infinity, how long were you working on it for?
“The songs, in some form at least were largely written before the band split up in 2010. This had always sat badly with me as I felt our song writing ability had reached a really good level. Over many beers I had brought this up in conversation with my good friend Alan Stares (who I actually replaced in Syth). He said he’d love be to play bass and offered to record the album as a kind of farewell to Syth. Over the space of two years we recorded it at Staresy’s home studio. We spent hours working on the guitar tones, working on melodies and more or less crafting the sound. We’d never been able to spend so much time working on an album before and we were never happy with the end outcome. Thanks to Staresy and his time and effort we ended up with the album Syth always wanted.”
Where does the inspiration for your music come from?
“In relation to the lyrics it has largely been myself for the past two albums, Niall wrote all the lyrics to “My Bitterness” off the latest album with Dave (singer) writing the lyrics for “Sea of Madness”. My lyrics veer from personal struggle and doubt to outright positivity! I think that anyone who has struggled with depression can recognise that you have bad days and good days and my lyrics reflect that. “Road To Infinity” and “All Is Not Lost” are very positive whereas “Liars Eyes” and Niall’s “My Bitterness” are inspired by feelings of hatred and vengeance. I’m also inspired by history in a big way with “The Seige” from our second album and “Defiance” and “Where Valkyries Cry” from our third being based on historical events. “Demons Of The Kirk” is inspired by Robert Burns epic poem “Tam O’ Shanter”. I love lyrical story telling so in songs where the music isn’t necessarily the most complex, I like to create the landscape with the words. Dave does a great job bringing these to life.”
Did you play many shows in support of Road to Infinity and do you have any plans for a follow up?
“Believe it or not, we managed one show in support of it. Mark, our drummer had to undergo life-saving surgery as we were getting gig ready. We managed just one gig in January 2020, which was an absolute blast and very emotional and then Covid-19 hit! Being in lockdown has given me more time to get creative and I have been writing a lot of songs. Time will tell if we ever record a follow up. I think this is the best Syth has ever sounded, so I’d love be to explore the possibilities with this line-up.”
Would you like to be able to tour more?
“Oh to be in our 20s again! I think we’re all very lucky in that our significant others would fully support us if we wanted to go off and play a string of dates somewhere. They’d probably be glad of the break from us! The reality is with our careers and stuff getting in the way,full touring would be difficult but never say never.”
What do your family think of the band?
“Well, I met my wife through the band due a mutual friend so she was always a fan and on my case for years telling me to get Syth back together. She knows it’s food for my soul. My daughter likes some of the songs but metal is not her thing. I’d like to believe she thinks I’m not too embarrassing though haha.”
With the formalities out of the way we decided to get a little silly and Baz was kind enough to play along….
First metal album you owned?
“The first metal album I bought for myself was Kill Em All by Metallica. Being eleven and in the pre-internet days, I thought it was the follow up to the Black Album as it was the only one missing from my big brothers record collection. It certainly sounded different haha.”
“Iron Maiden, Glasgow Barrowlands, 5th November 1995. This was a watershed moment for me. Seeing a band I’d grown up with in a stage was mind blowing. I still like Blaze’s two Maiden albums and still go to see him whenever I can.”
None of this Download pish, we’re doing it Monsters of Rock style! Seven bands from any era?
“Tough, here goes: Rainbow (Dio era), Thin Lizzy, Judas Priest, Slayer, Megadeth, Iron Maiden, Metallica.”
Book of Souls, yay or nay?
“As a massive Maiden fan of have to say nay. The songs feel bloated and ponderous. The best Maiden grabs you by the balls and my balls remain ungrabbed by this album! Time they changed producers as it’s getting very ‘by the numbers'”
Rank the big four in terms of your favourite?
“Going from my favourite:
It’s unpopular to like Metallica in metal circles these days but they’ve got the best songs! Slayer are just fucking Slayer. Anthrax I’ve seen more than any other band and just kill it. Megadeth are clearly the most technically proficient but the line-up has been a revolving door for the past twenty years and I don’t think they’ve released a really good album since Countdown To Extinction. Sorry Dave!”
Considering I have my daughter indoctrinated to think Metallica fired Mustaine because they were jealous of his ability, your big four rating deeply hurts! [You’ll get over it – Ed)
Your house is on fire and you can save just three of these albums:
Metallica – St Anger
Megadeth – Super Collider
Celtic Frost – Cold Lake
Danzig – 5 Blackacidevil
Fear Factory – Digimortal
W.A.S.P. – Helldorado
Machine Head – Supercharger
Any Annihilator album after Never Neverland
“I’d save Fear Factory, more out if nostalgia than anything else. The rest can burn!”
Syth have the opportunity to be main support on one of these tours, which one do you pick?
Metallica – Damaged Justice
Motörhead – Ace of Spades
Judas Priest – Painkiller
Iron Maiden – Seventh Tour Of A Seventh Tour
“We’d probably join the Maiden tour but I think we’d go down well on any of them.”
Inspired by our chums at the Sabbath Bloody Podcast, you have the opportunity to go drinking with one of this lot in their heyday. Who do you pick?
James Hetfield and Dave Mustaine
Tony Iommi and Bill Ward
Phil Anselmo and Dimebag
Lemmy and Biff Byford
“I’d maybe avoid big Phil Anselmo in case he had any “white wine”! Personally I think the craic would be best with out poor dear departed Lemmy and Biff. Sounds like a laugh.”
Four non-metal albums you’d bring with you to a desert island?
“Nick Drake – Five Leaves Left
Pink Floyd – Dark Side Of The Moon
Joni Mitchell – Blue
Rory Gallagher – Live In Europe”
Road to Infinity is available now on the Syth Bandcamp page along with the rest of their back catalogue. Also, go check out Baz’s “riff” videos that he’s been regularly posting on the Syth Twitter account!