GHOSTLY make-up, bizarre gas masks and tattoos are all in a day’s work for local singer/songwriter Erik Grieve, frontman of Metaltech.
The 36-year-old, known to fans of the glam industrial rock band by his stage name Erik Tricity, is on a high having made the radar of Allan Amato, one of America’s top photographers and documentary makers, who is set to jet from Los Angeles into the Capital next week, to document the band’s gig at Bannerman’s Bar on Wednesday.
It’s an opportunity for the band to break into the States, believes Grieve, fulfilling a long-held dream.
“Someone told us they had passed on our album, Burn Your Planet, to a friend in LA. Of course, we never expected to hear anything back. Then, ages later, we got an email saying ‘You guys are awesome.’ Suddenly everything started falling into place and now Allan, who is bringing one of the States’ top independent talent scouts with him, is flying in to see us, all because of accidental luck really.”
Not that Metaltech haven’t already made an impact at home. With sets at Rockness, Wickerman and Belladrum to their credit, their theatrically outrageous antics are already a massive draw on the music festival circuit. They have even appeared in a nationwide TV advertising campaign for T-Mobile.
With two EPs and an album released, and another album on the way, Metaltech also caught the eye of cult Japanese cyberpunks Psydoll, who have booked them as their support for their Scottish tour, which kicks off at Bannerman’s.
“They requested we support them in Edinburgh, Glasgow, and Aberdeen,” reveals Grieve, “during which all our performances are being documented by Allan. The idea is that he will record ‘our voyage to fame,’ hopefully. And if the talent scout likes what he sees.... well, anything is possible.”
With an image inspired by legendary American rock band Kiss, there will certainly be plenty to see. Recalling how Metaltech came together to create their very individual identity, Grieve says, “It was actually Paul Croan of Alex Tronic Records, in Leith, who gave me the idea for Metaltech. That was five years ago.”
Croan had heard Grieve’s music and asked him to play guitar on a number of projects. He later suggested he should make an album of his tracks... Metaltech was born.
“Paul said, if I had ten tracks, he would release and distribute them. It’s all very well releasing an album, but who is going to buy it if nobody knows who you are. You have to get out there and gig.
“So I decided to put a band together and get us known.”
Metaltech was formed in a matter of days, playing their first gig just three weeks later.
Grieve, a tattoo artist at Tribe on Broughton Street by day, recalls, “I had a customer I got on well with. His name was Emmet Christie. I’d tattooed him a number of times and discovered that, musically, we had a lot in common.
Laughing, he continues, “He once told me he was ‘the best bass guitarist in the world’.
“Then he came around one night for a jam and it turned out he was the best bass guitarist in the world.
“He was the first person I asked to be in the band. Next I emailed a old friend, Rory Alsop, and he jumped at the chance.” Fusing electronic beats, coursing synthesizers, chugging guitars, and vocals with tongues firmly in cheeks, Metaltech have now entertained for half a decade, winning nominations in 2011 at both Scottish New Music Awards and Scottish Alternative Music Awards.
“We wear our influences on our sleeves. There’s Kiss in there, punk, Adam Ant, all sorts. Pretty much every band I have ever been into has been mashed up into what is Metaltech,” confesses Grieve.
As for their outlandish appearance, he explains, “Originally, Emmet was going to wear a chopped up motor-cycle helmet, but that was a bit heavy. I just happened to have a gas mask lying about the house - it gave him a look of Kroenen from the movie Hellboy, and had connotations of Star Wars storm-troopers, so that’s where the gas mask influence came from.
“The Venetian mask I bought on my honeymoon, much to my wife Mel’s bemusement. It was a blank and I pained on some neon orange lightning flashes.
Despite their look, Metaltech have garnered a surprisingly wide fan base.
“Because of all the festivals we’ve played, we’ve attract people aged eight up to 60. We have a very diverse following, not that our lyrics are necessarily all that child friendly,” he cautions. “But every gig we do, we just seem to get new fans. I think it’s due to the fact that we are very visual and have lots of audience participation, pyrotechnics and even glo-sticks.”
Metaltech, Bannerman’s Bar, Cowgate, Wednesday, 8pm, £7, 0131-556 3254