SOUND: So you guys are hitting 2010 pretty heavily, with an album just out, and tours set up for most of the year. Howâ€&#x;s it feel to be in We The Kings right now?
DD: Right now, as it always has been, it feels pretty damn good to be a King. We had one of those real moments just the other day where we really took it all in. We revived memories from the journey so far and looked at how far we've come. We couldn't be more excited for the upcoming year.
SOUND: And first up is the Take Action Tour. Howâ€&#x;s the lineup looking?
DD: It's looking unstoppable. Kicking off the show is a band called, Call The Cops. We met these guys from one of our very first tours we ever set out on. So when we heard that they were coming along, we knew the tour was going to be a blast. There For Tomorrow always brings the ruckus and are our Florida brethren. A Rocket To The Moon has got some mighty fine tasty licks (and will give Travis another redhead friend to play with, ha-ha). Mayday Parade are such good friends of ours that I'm surprised it took us this long to tour again. Amazing, amazing dudes. I'm so excited for this lineup.
SOUND: The Take Action Tour is something that I do hold dear to me, because I used to catch it every year a long time ago, when it was the Plea For Peace tour. Years later, the tour itself is still going strong, but it seems like the style of the music on the tour has changed completely. Have you noticed that, too?
SOUND: I definitely have. I remember just a couple years ago it being a predominantly harder style with bands like The Bled and Every Time I Die. I also remember wanting to go to that show so bad but couldn't. But the way I see it, even if the style of music changes, the tour is always going to have the same message of bringing people together with music for a good cause. I'm proud to be apart of that.
SOUND: But as a whole, the tour is a great thing, both for the day of music, and for the social issues and non-profits attached to it. Who are you guys affiliating with this time?
DD: The organization is called Driving For Donors. It was started in 2007 to raise awareness and draw donors (a simple cotton swab of the cheek) for the National Marrow Registry. Every year, thousands of people are diagnosed with life threatening diseases like leukaemia and lymphoma that can be treated with cellular therapies such as marrow transplant. 70% of these people will not be able to find a matched donor within their own families! There‟s a very strong, very charismatic 14-year-old boy named Patrick Pedraja who was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukaemia at age 10. We met Patrick in L.A. and he told us about how he started Driving For Donors. When he was 11, he and his family would drive around the country in a "Donor-mobile" helping to raise awareness and sign donors up for the National Marrow Registry. Ever since he's been helping save lives and raise funds for the cause. Pretty inspirational.
SOUND: Then after a jaunt to the UK, you‟re back headed across the country with the Warped Tour. It‟s not your fist time out on this big production, what‟s it like being a part of something this big?
DD: Warped Tour is a whole different breed of tour. It's pretty much a summer camp for bands. You shower out of buckets, wear sandals 98 percent of the time (when you're not barefoot), and you make tons of friends. I love everything about warped tour. Some would say it‟s too hot but it‟s perfect for Florida kids like us.
SOUND: Any great or crazy memories from last year?
DD: It was awesome sharing the stage with bands like Thrice, All Time Low, 3oh3!, UnderOath and many more. I would stay at the main stage after we played just listen to all of the other great bands.
RC: Then, after all this touring is said and done, what‟s next for you guys?
DD: Our future is packed with touring and lots of Smile Kid. We hope to start promoting another single after “Heaven Can Wait‟s „‟success; we‟re just not sure which one to go with. For every song on the record, I've already met someone who has said, "That‟s my favourite song!” That‟s an awesome feeling.
Bring Me The Horizon: the Marmite band, or so one of their t-shirts proclaims. “Love us or hate us we‟re still a fucking obsession.” As self-aware of their polarising ability as they are, you‟d be forgiven for seeing them as a little paranoid tonight. The venue is packed and tickets for their latest UK headlining tour sold out at a rapid rate.
The Sheffield quintet (BMTH to fans) launched onto the scene in the mid 00‟s with their debut album Count Your Blessings, which generated sufficient hype to make the band a swift success. Naturally, this brought both armies of fans and legions of doubters who targeted their fashionable image which ground gears with the heavy genres that their music touched on.
Refusing to write the same album twice the band introduced electronic elements into their metal roots (including an ambitious dubstep remix album) and continued to take shots at established norms. Their second album, Suicide Season, saw Bring Me the Horizon forming their own niche of extremity.
The announcement of this tour and the imminent release of their third album, There Is a Hell, Believe Me I‟ve Seen It. There Is a Heaven, Let‟s Keep It a Secret, (so that‟s TIAHBMISITIAHLKIAS for short) makes this a really exciting time to be a part of the BMTH camp. Sitting down at the Oxford 02 Academy, guitarist Lee Malia and bass player Matt Kean lay out the plans for the next few weeks.
“It‟s a lot easier headlining… everything‟s your rules,” asserts the guitarist. This is certainly the case with eclectic support acts UK electronic/dubstep outfit Tek-One and hardcore Canadians Cancer Bats. “It‟s cool that we can sell out big venues quick,” adds the bassist. “But we wanna play where the kids can jump onstage.” Oxford marks the beginning of a full UK, small-venue tour. “At first we were a bit apprehensive…we just want people to have a good night out and want to come back again,” admits the bassist, “and you can‟t tour unless you enjoy it!” adds his bandmate.
With a new album on the way, conversation quickly turns to this: the obvious source of their enthusiasm to hit the stage. “The studio had moved to an industrial estate on the edge of Gothenburg,” the bass player says, explaining the BMTH tradition of heading to Scandinavia to work on new material.
“We wanted to incorporate everything that everyone has been listening to and do whatever we wanted. I don‟t think any of us listen to metal anymore, every other style of music is coming onto the CD,” Malia adds on the subject of the band‟s style and sound. “I think we kinda found it with Suicide Season. That was like starting from scratch again…we‟ve progressed on that sound.” Clearly the band feels itself at a real creative peak and their excitement with musical experimentation is obvious.
The new album also marks a change in thematic direction. “It is not about the actual heaven and hell, it‟s more like an inward heaven and hell: your own personal heaven and hell. Most of the tracks are positive buts it‟s also the contrast…and it‟s about getting through it.”
Contrast has always been a big part of the BMTH experience and this is more evident than ever. Lead single „It Never Ends‟ adds orchestrated parts and a full choir to their „party-metal‟anthems and the new album is full of interesting collaborations, notably with electro-pop singer Lights and a new single with You Me at Six front-man Josh Franceschi. “We‟re playing both new tracks live,” explains Malia while Kean adds enthusiastically, “we‟re all insanely happy with how it went and now we‟re excited for everyone else to hear it.”
As for dream collaborations, both agree quickly on Freddie Mercury or, with trademark humour, Craig David. The feeling persists that with their popularity at an all time high, their creative juices flowing and their adoring fans blocking up the Cowley Road, this band could easily get away with anything.
After releasing their first full-length record six months ago, "Fixed At Zero," with the very successful Fuelled BY Ramen record company, VersaEmerge has been tearing up with scene with their high energy shows and hard-hitting music. I got a chance to briefly speak with two of the three members of VersaEmerge, before a show in Atlanta... How is this mini-tour going? Just five dates right? Kusterbeck: Just five days. In our headlining tour, we didnâ€&#x;t get a chance to come to Florida. With it being our home state, we had to find a way to come somehow. When we did this run, it was just making up for it. Due to all of this weather our got stuck up in Pennsylvania, so the first two days we played acoustic. This is going to be our first night with the full band. How did the acoustic shows go? Kusterbeck: Pretty good! Harnage: Yeah! Especially Fort Lauderdale, but they were both awesome, with a lot of people singing along. It just felt really good. You guys have the U.K. after this right? Kusterbeck: That is correct.
Harnage: Yeah, last time we were there was just for a little while in 2009. It was a short tour, but we got to go outside of the U.K. as well. We did Whales, Scotland and Belgium, but this tour is only going to be the U.K. though. Still going to be awesome and we are really excited. The first time that we went over there it blew our minds. The kids were awesome. Is there a completely different crowd response when playing shows over there? Kusterbeck: Not completely different, but the kids seem to just appreciate the shows a lot more, especially American bands. They are just very, very supportive over there and they have a lot of fun. Now you guys have done some of the biggest tours in the scene, (Bamboozle, Warped, SXSW etc.) so which one is your favourite? Harnage: Bamboozle is fun, because it is only two days and it is every band just hanging out. Kusterbeck: It is so overwhelming! When you are pulling up in your van, it feels like you are going to Disney World! Itâ€&#x;s all of your friends coming back together, and there are so many people to meet, and there are some many things to do and bands to see. Warped Tour is so long, so
imagine taking Warped and scrunching it into two days, that‟s kind of how it is. It‟s a lot of fun! With the writing process for your full-length, “Fixed at Zero,” I heard that you guys tried to write on the road, but were unable to. Did you guys just go home and crank the songs out? Harnage: Writing on the road is tough because you think there will be a lot of free time, but it turns out you are sleeping, showering and eating in the time that you are not playing. It‟s really tough to write on the road, unless you are in a bus full-time and have the luxury of playing a normal tour and not Warped Tour. We did come off of the road and go straight to start experimenting on writing with some different writers, which worked awesome for us and kickstarted the whole writing kind of thing. It helped us to get some ideas going. Was that the first time that you guys had co-written songs? Harnage We co-wrote a little on our self-titled EP, but we did branch out and try a bunch of different writers for the full-length. Kusterbeck: It‟s interesting, because we write a majority of the songs and then you have this “third brain” that is thrown in to spark these new ideas. It is really cool to collaborate with other people like that, and it brings out something new in us and even in them, and brings some many new elements to the music. Harnage: We definitely like writing with writers that are a little more laid back, and open to letting us do our thing, but just mediating and making sure that everything sticks to the game plan. Is co-writing something that you would do again? Harnage: Of course. Are you guys working on any kind of writing right now? You thinking about it yet? Harnage: Yeah, not hard-core but we are defiantly thinking about it. Kusterbeck: Every winter I always seem to write a lot, just lyrically. We talk about it a lot, we always talk about ideas and get creative about it. We like to be on the same page, but at the same time we don‟t want to lose focus on what we are trying to do with this current record. When you were writing the lyrics for “Fixed At Zero,” did you guys sit down and decide what you wanted it to say as a whole? There seem to be trends and an overall theme… Kusterbeck: Yeah it just kind of fell into place, because I had no idea what I wanted to say. I had absolutely no clue, and it was just a bunch of mumbled jumble. You don‟t really know what you
are talking about it. As it all fell into place, it was like “it all makes sense now.” It‟s like your mind is talking for you when you consciously don‟t know. I didn‟t really have a set theme, but as it all fell into place it created its own theme. If that makes any sense… I haven‟t seen you guys live in person, but I have seen a bunch of clips and it seems like you guys have a great connection to the crowd. What kind of advice would you have to a newer band in terms of connecting with a crowd in a live setting? Harnage: Thank you! It kind of came naturally for us. You know, when you are first starting a band one of the hardest things to do is creating that vibe and hype for the live show. First the first two or three years as a band, that was the hardest part… Kusterbeck: It is really important for us to make a good live show, because that is what we do for a living, we tour. Especially me just starting off in the band, we were trying to work everything out, and go through and make it great. At the same time, we were taking advantage of getting to be there (with fans) and meet people. The people that were at the shows (in the beginning) were there to see other bands, so we just tried to connect with them and get them to come back and see us. There are people out there that have been with us since the beginning, and now they are even at this show today. So it is really cool to see that connection show, and onstage they love it. Harnage: There was so much hype on the last tour we just did (their first headlining tour), and the vibe was incredible. We would come out every night, and people would be just super stoked and singing along to every song! It‟s the greatest feeling ever. Kusterbeck: It‟s so unreal, that it is surreal! Ha That‟s so good to hear! Changing it up a little bit, how important do you think social media/networking is to building a fan base? Harnage: I think that it is really important, especially for getting it started, but there really is no substitute for getting out there on the road and doing it. That is a big thing that a lot of new bands are missing in the big picture, which is just getting out on the road and just touring. It is a slow build. You see bands that will come out of nowhere and blow up. That happens every once and a while, but if you want your band to have longevity and be a real band, you just need to get out there and do it. Kusterbeck: Social networking helped us out a ton in the beginning, because MySpace was huge at the time. That‟s how I got hooked up with them, that‟s how we got our stuff(music) out there and that‟s how we promoted, that‟s how everything kind of went.
So this is the first time you have been to the UK right, excited? What have you heard about our country? We are a super pumped on traveling over there in May for 2 weeks. Mostly, we are excited about meeting all the people that come out to the shows, we have heard AMAZING things about their response to our genre of music. A ton of people that we have talked to are giving us great feedback on our tour to the UK, spreading the word and keeping the hype up! We are usually always either all about a song, or not having it at all. We have a rehearsal studio that we pretty much lock ourselves in and work together collectively to push out the best quality songs. Everyone in this band has an input, nothing gets shot down until we are all on the same page about the creativity. Your band wants to go on a night out, what is mostly likely to happen?! Most of the time, beers will be drank, and good times will be had. Hands down, we love to party, so you UK guys, JOIN US! Question 4- How can fans-to-be gain access to your music? Do you have a website with sample
How can fans-to-be gain access to your music? Do you have a website with sample songs or a demo cd? Why yes we do! Anyone can head over to these sites and "Add" us, "Like" us, "Share" us! www.myspace.com/rememberparisrock www.facebook.com/rememberparis To hear all our songs check out the links You may also purchase our songs from iTunes, Rhapsody, Amazon, eMusic, Napster and more digital retailers around the world! Any last words? Shaboomya!
Is Tinie Tempah next? I would certainly think so. The UK hip-hopper has amassed several number one singles and awards in his home country and in Europe and has become a global sensation. However, like soccer, it seems like UK hip-hop has not caught on in the States. Trying to break this market is one of the hardest tasks for any new foreign artist, and it takes money, time, and patience to even make a dent on the charts here. But if there is anyone that can lead the UK hip-hop charge in America its Tinie Tempah. His lead single “Pass Out,” has gotten buzz on the blogs and he‟s even caught the ear of Snoop Dogg among others. But will this translate to success? We can only hope. Last week I was invited along other journalists and bloggers for an intimate meet and greet with the UK artist as the Capitol Records headquarters in New York City. This is Tinie in his own words… On having a Number 1 Album in the UK… It‟s pretty crazy man, in the UK it‟s a whole different thing. We kind of look at America as our counterparts, the Jay-Z‟s, The Drakes, and the Wiz Kalifah‟s, so to have that type of vibe in the UK, with the album doing 85,000 in the first wee, and obviously the UK is kind of small. That just shows me that that good music is good music, wherever it‟s from, whatever accent you‟ve got. I‟m trying to come over here [to the US] and not try to be Jay-Z, or Lil Wayne. I just want to be Tinie Tempah From the UK and show you guys what I have to offer. On his name… Tinie Tempah is basically my interpretation of Ying and Yang. Two opposites that are not supposed to go together but they do. It‟s my revamped and reworked 2010 version of that. On being a new UK Artist In The US….. I like the fact that I can come over here and it‟s fresh and new, and people talk about how I look different and talk different. It‟s exciting for me. For people to understand me as an artist there gonna have to be a cultured person. And that‟s no disrespect to anybody, but I understand what it‟s like to hear a rapper with another accent. Even how it was back in the day when Southern rappers breaking through. It‟s like “I can‟t familiarize myself with the accent so therefore I‟m gonna be ignorant to it.”
On The Internet…. Music and the state of music is a constantly evolving thing. The more technology savvy we get and the more ways we discover new ways to interact with each other the easier it‟s going to be to share music. I think its something that we need to embrace. It‟s no point for [artists and labels] to say “shit, we‟re not selling as many records as we used to because people can get it for free.” You have to try to figure out a way to use that to your advantage. The Internet puts everyone in the same space. Music is now a global thing. There is no East Coast or West Coast anymore. I got signed by using the Internet [and his Milk and Two Sugars Blog] first and foremost. On the globalization of hip-hop… People are shifting units right now in the everywhere else in world by rapping. It used to be only an American thing but now in England rappers are going platinum and selling out shows. London and New York are very real places. [To accept UK hip-hop] is definitely a different state of mind. We have or slang, we have our gangs. It‟s the same, man, it‟s just a different take on things. About his music… It‟s pretty eclectic and experimental. I definitely fuck around with a lot of genres. That‟s my thing. I like to put together a lot of genres that people wouldn‟t think would work, like drum and bass and hip-hop, and dub and reggae and electro. I try to mix them all into one song and make it happen. In this day and age we all have iPods. I think it‟s safe to say that we‟re in an era where we all have Kanye and Coldplay in our record collections. That‟s the way music is, and I like to make music bearing that in mind. On Snoop reaching out to him via Twitter to do a Pass Out remix… Having him on your record is one thing–he‟s a hip-hop legend–but performing with him….man, I was standing next to Snoop Dogg and I was like “Damn! I‟m just a little kid from London and I was standing next next to HIM?” I met him 45 minutes before I went on stage. He was in the dressing room getting his hair braided and he was like “After sexual seduction, I‟m going to play „Pass Out‟ and you‟re gonna come on stage.” He says to the band “guys, do you know Pass Out?” And his band looked at him like “no.” Then Snoop pulls out his iPad and played the song and immediately everyone got it and we went
and rocked the show. On competition in hip-hop… I think that‟s what I like about that, and there are a lot of other genres that don‟t have that. If there is a rapper that drops a hot verse, no matter if it‟s Jay-Z or the guy down the road in London, I‟m like “shit, I have to come better than that.” Other genres don‟t have that [mentality] and that‟s why hip-hop is continually evolving and changing. On his realistic expectations in the States… I‟m really expecting a slow burner man. I know how things work in the States and the Billboard Hot 100 and a lot of people don‟t generally release a song that goes straight to number one. It could be in the charts for weeks and weeks and eventually build up. And that‟s completely different from the UK [singles] chart where usually your first week is usually the best you will do, ever. Slowly but surely. I‟ll release it in March and I plan to be in the States a lot next year. Any progress is progress to me. Tinie‟s album DISC-overy is in stores now in the UK.