AC/DC vocalist Brian Johnson has been advised to stop touring by doctors or risk losing his hearing completely. They’ve cancelled their remaining US dates. No word has been made on their forthcoming UK and European shows.
Motion City Soundtrack will be breaking up after a farewell tour. Architects have confirmed their new album will be titled 'All Our Gods Have Abandoned Us’ and will be released through Epitaph Records on May 27th. The full list of releases for Record Store Day 2016 has been revealed. The UK releases include Anti Flag, Architects, Beach Slang, Bring Me The Horizon, Death Cab for Cutie, Deftones, Disturbed, Frank Turner, Gerard Way, Iron Maiden, Jack Off Jill, Killswitch Engage, La Dispute, Linkin Park, Marilyn Manson, Metallica, METZ, Mew, Motörhead, Nirvana, NOFX, Nothing, Parkway Drive, Self Defense Family, Sublime, and Twenty One Pilots. Record Store Day 2016 takes place on April 16th.
Kvelertak will release their third album, 'Nattesferd’ through Roadrunner Records on May 13th. The new EP from Fort Hope, 'Manne of Lawe’ will be released on April 22nd. Members of The Chariot have formed a new band called Holy+Gold. A debut album is set to be released later this year.
Hatebreed are set to release their new album, 'The Concrete Confessional’ on May 13th via Nuclear Blast Entertainment.
Recreations is the new project from Sam Duckworth, best known for his work as Get Cape. Wear Cape. Fly. His new album, 'Baby Boomers 2’ will be released on April 29th through Xtra Mile Recordings.
All Hail The Yeti are set to release 'Screams From A Black Wilderness’ this May 13th in the UK via minus HEAD Records.
Katatonia have confirmed their new album will be called ‘The Fall of Hearts’ and it is set to be released on May 20th.
Astronautalis will release his fifth album, 'Cut The Body Loose’ through Side One Dummy on May 13th. New York City based four piece Cilver will release their debut album 'Not the End of The World’ via eOne Music on April 30th. Bridgwater posthardcore five-piece Cardinal Bay have set a release date of May 13th for their second EP 'Answers’.
Thin Lips have announced their debut LP 'Riff Hard,’ will be released on May 20th via Lame-O Records. The next 11 bands for the Slam Dunk Festival are Young Guns, Coldrain, As It Is, Trash Boat, WSTR, King Prawn, Spunge, Heart Of A Coward, Astroid Boys, The One Hundred and The Qemists. The first details of Cardiff’s Throwndown Fest 2016 have been revealed. The first names are I Killed The Prom Queen, Knuckledust, Broken Teeth, Silent Screams, Create To Inspire, Lock & Key, When We Were Wolves, Empires Fade, To Kill Achilles and Machete 187. It will take place at Clwb Ifor Bach and Fuel on August 21st.
Down have cancelled all of their European festival appearances including Download and Hellfest. Milk Teeth will follow up the release of their ‘Vile Child’ LP with a headline tour in May. Support comes from Black Foxxes and Kent upstarts Eat Me. April 30 Live At Leeds, Leeds* May 01 Stag & Dagger, Glasgow* 03 Think Tank, Newcastle 04 Sound Control, Manchester 05 Bodega, Nottingham 06 Wells Forum, Tunbridge 07 Rainbow, Birmingham 09 Louisiana, Bristol 10 Cavern, Exeter 11 Clwb Ifor Bach, Cardiff 12 Barly, London 14 Joiners, Southampton *Milk Teeth Only
Into It. Over It. and The Hotelier will be touring the UK together in May. Support comes from Rozwell Kid. May 07 Joiners, Southampton 08 Thekla, Bristol 09 Scala, London 10 Sound Control, Manchester 11 Restless Natives Fest, Glasgow 12 Brudenell Social Club, Leeds 13 Bodega, Nottingham
Fatherson will mark the release of their new album 'Open Book’ on June 3rd with their biggest headline shows to date. June 02 Scala, London 04 ABC, Glasgow
coldrain will return to the UK this May with their first ever run of headline shows. May 20th Thekla, Bristol 21st Borderline, London 22nd Sound Control, Manchester 23rd King Tuts, Glasgow 24th Rock City Basement, Nottingham 26th Engine Rooms, Southampton 27th Sub 89, Reading
Transit will be splitting up following a final US tour. ROAM have parted ways with drummer Charlie Pearson. Vinnie Caruana of The Movielife and I Am the Avalanche has revealed details of his debut solo album. 'Survivor’s Guilt’ will be released in the UK through Big Scary Monsters on May 27th. Minnesota’s Tiny Moving Parts have set a release date of May 20th for their new album - 'Celebrate’. It will be released in the UK through Big Scary Monsters. Experimental post-hardcore 5-piece Dance Gavin Dance will release 'Tree City Sessions’ on May 13th via Rise Records.
Henrietta have shared details of their new album - 'Paper Wings.’ It’s set to be released through Animal Style Records on April 29th. Progressive post-rock fourpiece FOES have joined Basick Records. A new single, 'Beautiful Fiction’ is out now! South Wales’ Casey have inked a deal with Hassle Records. Hamilton, Ontario, Canada’s Rarity will be releasing their Rise Records debut full-length, 'I Couldn’t Be Weaker’ on April 8th.
American Hi-Fi will be releasing an acoustic version of their self-titled album through Rude Records on April 29th.
Rival Sons have revealed their new album will be titled 'Hollow Bones’. Biffy Clyro and Fall Out Boy have been announced as the final co-headliners for this year’s Reading and Leeds Festival. Other names included in the latest announcement are: Lower Than Atlantis, Skindred, Five Finger Death Punch, Savages, The King Blues, State Champs, Basement, Modern Baseball, Chvrches and Haim. The second batch of bands for UK Tech-Metal Fest has been revealed with Animals As Leaders being confirmed as the third headliners. The other new additions are Intervals, Humanity’s Last Breath, Plini, Novelists, Frontierer (worldwide exclusive debut), Yvette Young, Port Noir, She Must Burn, Ghost Iris, A Night In The Abyss, Loathe and Zephyr.
ArcTanGent have revealed the line-up for the early entry day portion of this year’s festival. The bill has been dubbed the “returning all-stars” day and sees Mono, Three Trapped Tigers, Rolo Tomassi, Talons, Tangled Hair, Body Hound, Axes, Quadrupède, Delta Sleep, Samoans and Poly-Math (plus the already announced TTNG, Alarmist and ANTA) playing exclusively for those with early access.
The next round of bands for Camden Rocks Festival have been announced and sees Carl Barât and & The Jackals, Creeper, Glen Matlock, CC Smugglers, Tellison and Billy Bragg join the bill. The other new names announced are Gun, Zoax, The Hell, Youth Club, Vukovi, Goldray, Reigning Days, Wearing Scars, AvaGrace, Francobollo, The Hyena Kill, The Pearl Harts, Anita Chellamah, JPNSGRLS, FAERS, S.E.X, Staring Out The Sun, Shea and Alive With Eyes. Camden Rocks takes place on Saturday June 4th. Corrosion Of Conformity, Unearth, Ghost Bath, Evil Scarecrow and XII Boar are the latest editions to be announced for Bloodstock Open Air. Details of Liverpool’s Jump on Demand Festival have been revealed. It will take place across two nights at Maguire’s Pizza Bar on June 24th and 25th. Headliners come in the form of Montroze (Friday) and Highlives (Saturday). Other names announced so far Breathe In The Silence, Coast to Coast, Red Winter, Landmarks, Willowside Park, Storyteller, Martyn Ellis and Summer’s Colour.
Garbage will return on on June 10th with a new record called 'Strange Little Bird’. They will play two UK shows in June. June 13 Troxy, London 14 Rock City, Nottingham
Don Broco will be supporting 5 Seconds of Summer on the following UK and Ireland dates. April 15 Motorpoint Arena, Cardiff 16 Motorpoint Arena, Cardiff 18 Metro Radio Arena, Newcastle 19 SSE Hydro, Glasgow 20 SSE Hydro, Glasgow 22 Arena, Manchester 23 Arena, Manchester 25 SSE Arena, Belfast 26 3Arena, Dublin 27 3Arena, Dublin
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Interview with Luke
Can you tell us about the formation of The Dirty Nil? As young teens, we used to burn things in the forest. After some minor disfigurement and maximum neighbourhood annoyance, we decided to pick up guitars.
How did you get to the band name The Dirty Nil, and what does it mean to you? Quite literally nothing. Well I guess if anything: avoiding real life in favour of rock and roll.
To an unfamiliar reader, how would you describe your sound? Sweeeeeet stadium trash. Mmmmm!
What was the hardest track to put together on ‘Higher Power’, and why? 'Bury Me At The Rodeo' was completed very shortly before tracking so we were still solidifying the arrangement while we recorded. I'm very happy with the results.
What can you tell us about the recording process for ‘Higher Power’? Bass and drums were done at candle studio in Toronto, produced by Shezhaad Jiwani and engineered by Josh Korody. The guitars and vocals were done at Tape in Hamilton with Adam Bentley and Jordan Mitchell.It was fun working with our friends, the guitars were recorded at cringingly high volumes, on principle.
How did the music video for ‘Wrestle Yü To Hüsker Dü’ come together, and can you tell us about the narrative behind the track? We shot a couple of shows with a dozen VHS cameras we acquired from Craigslist. A lot of them didn't work, which made the filming a little more exciting. There are no digital effects in the video, it's all analog hiss! The final scene features a wedding that was left on the tapes when we got them, we just left it in. As for the narrative of the song, it stemmed from a particularly inspired instance of “lust at first sight”. It's a middle finger driven love-letter, of hopeless futility.
How excited are you for your upcoming UK/European tour, and what can attending fans expect? Couldn't be more excited! Expect more volume, stars, sweat, high-kicks and grinning.
What else can we expect to see from The Dirty Nil in 2016? An infinite stream of live shows that will mercifully lead to our deaths. Until then, bow down to a higher power and kick out the jams!
Interview with Aymen + Ryan
Can you tell us about the formation of Holy Pinto? We've known each other for a long time, and have always been into the same music. We went to the same school and coincidently the same university, but foolishly did not ever play music together until after all of it! Only after graduating did we make the decision to sack off the ominous “real” world and start making music together. Two years later and Aymen and I remain the core of Holy Pinto, with a rotating family of bassists that bolster our live sound.
How did you get to the band name Holy Pinto, and what does it mean to you? A lot of people ask if we are devout worshippers of the Mexican pinto bean, and although we do love a burrito, our love of Mexican food doesn't quite stretch that far! The name comes from a pseudonym that Aymen used to dupe me into playing in his former band Handsome Panda on our student radio show. He came in and said I should introduce and play this great new track from Holy Pinto and when I did live on air, it turned out to be his old band Handsome Panda in disguise!! When we came to form our own band, the name was a no brainer!
So how did you get to the album title 'Congratulations', and what does it mean to you? The album is named after a track on the album – ‘Congratulations’ It’s a mire of choices – do you stay here and settle, nurture relationships with people you love or do you go out recklessly and experience the world? Is the comfort of home as good as wandering out there? If I go, will I come back to anything? It’s the age-old dilemma of settling vs. roaming, and the song paints this in a romantic context – you’ve already made your decision and now just contemplating the effects on the people you left. The story contained in that song is a recurring theme at various points in the album – so Ryan suggested we run with it on the front cover and it works, we think!
Can you tell us about the themes and influences that run throughout 'Congratulations'? There’s the theme I discussed in answer to the question above – that’s a big recurring one. I feel like it’s a very dreamy album, with lots of nostalgia – ‘Flowers’ and ‘Mexico’ come to mind. There’s a few slightly less fun and chipper themes that come up, like hospitals – on ‘Fairylights,’ ‘Hospital Room’ and the secret track. Soft Speak Records’ boss Michael mentions that we won’t stop banging on about teeth – there’s some talk about the recurring teeth falling out dreams on several songs, for sure! We’ve left it all on this album… I guess now the dreams have stopped and we’ve decided to retire it, ha!
How did you end up working with Bob Cooper, and what was he like to work with? We wanted to record ‘Phantom Limb’ at short-notice – we were just so buzzed on that song – and the engineer we previously worked with couldn’t make the date. Bob happened to have just had a cancellation, so we ran straight into the studio together. It came out great so we approached him about handling engineering duties on our album. He’s a complete professional of the most endearing variety. In the studio he’s extremely methodical in bleeding out the best performances, which we loved.
What made you want to release 'Matches' first, and can you tell us about the narrative behind the track? ‘Matches’ is a little ditty that has a couple of young people falling in love with each other, although with much apprehension and reluctance – they’d both rather be out living an untethered life instead of settling down together. It’s almost a pre-cursor to the “settle vs. roam” dynamic of the title-track. It’s track one, so why not it be the first taste of the album for everyone!
There's a bit of keyboard, organ, trumpet on the track, so can you tell us about some of the instruments that made their way onto the album, as well as how those ideas came about? Working with Bob was such a great experience and once we had the core of the songs down, it enabled us to get creative by adding more instrumentation. Plenty of the songs feature Organ/Keys as well as additional percussion. Along with those elements the opening track 'Matches' has a guest trumpet performance by our good pal Francis, and it was a ton of fun to record. In terms of how they came to be there, I think we were careful not to just have it for the sake of it, but only include extra instrumentation where it really added to the song - so for example we wanted 'Matches' to be as impactful an opener as possible, and so we really went for it!
What else can we expect to see from Holy Pinto in 2016? Well, the aim is to keep getting busier year on year. So working closely with Soft Speak Records on the album release has been a great start to 2016. We've played some great shows already, and have a UK and EU tour coming up in the spring. We're looking to keep the momentum going right the way through the year, so you'll definitely be hearing more from us!
How did you end up signing to Holy Roar Records, and what have they been like to work with so far? We shopped around for labels for a long time and wanted to make sure we were signing the right deal for the album. We were chatting to different people for a while and after meeting Alex from Holy Roar, we felt that he really understood our vision for the album, and they could offer us the support we needed for it. It's been great so far, they have a great team and we're happy to be part of the Holy Roar family alongside some really awesome bands!
How did you get to the album title ‘Break The Cycle’, and what does it mean to you? ‘Break The Cycle’ is the title of the 8th track on the record and the first song we released. It's a big song, short, punchy, and has a lot to say. We felt like that song is home to a lot of frustrations with the way things generally are these days. “All for one, nothing for all”.
Can you tell us about the main themes and influences that run throughout ‘Break The Cycle’? The themes on the album are all essentially mixed, but I feel it is honest. Of course there are the standard “there was this girl that I loved and she screwed me over” songs, but we also speak about organised religion, social issues, the music industry. It is essentially one big (positive) complaint. I guess we don't really offer solutions, but we're trying to ask the right questions.
Interview with Pete How did you end up working with Neil Kennedy, and what was he like to work with? Neil Kennedy is a legend. Anyone who has worked with him will tell you the same. He's creative and funny, and has an awesome understanding of the state of the British music industry. We've had quite a long relationship with Neil, and also with Daly George who also deserves a huge shout out. We have always loved The Ranch, it's a great environment to work in, I just loved staring out all the horses.
What was the hardest part about putting ‘Break The Cycle’ together for you guys, and why? The hardest part for me personally was cutting songs, we had so many tracks to work with, and putting it together in a way that made sense wasn't easy, but deciding which songs were going to be put on hold for future projects, or just “not for now” was really difficult. When you write a large body of work, you really put a lot into it, and it is hard to be critical of something you have lived with and taken a lot of pride in. I can definitely say though, I think we got it right!
How did the artwork for ‘Break The Cycle’ come together, and what does it mean to you? The photograph was taken by a friend of ours in the London skateboarding scene called Rob Gifford (check out his work). We were really struggling for something to use for artwork as we didn't want to use something sketched as it creates certain impressions and we wanted this album to speak for itself. The photograph just really caught our eyes and we felt it suited the tone of the record along with its message, without being too suggestive!
How did the music video for ‘Against The Grain’ come together, and what can you tell us about the narrative behind the track? We wanted to change things up a bit, we know that for hardcore bands, a music video usually means a video of the band performing their stuff... But we wanted to add a twist, so the whole split screen idea was brought into play by our videographer friend Ashley. We felt it suited the song's message of striving to be different as both the sides of the screen are doing different things etc. We managed to do that video for about £30... we weren't really sure on how it'd turn out, so we were stoked with the results!
How would you say ‘Break The Cycle’ compares to anything you've done before? I feel that as a band we spent so much time playing and touring our previous EP's that, knuckling down writing songs that all work together as a large body of work was always put on the shelf. We were much more concerned with "does it sound good? Ok let's go play it now, go!". Which was great and we don't regret it a single bit, but I guess we kind of missed the whole 'collective album feel' stuff. With this album we really took the time out to make sure it was all there, we have made sure the material is, in our opinion, the best it can be. We slightly re-worked a few of the older songs that made the cut too. We just wanted it to make the best impression possible as it's our first album.
What can fans expect from the vinyl release of ‘Break The Cycle’? Currently we have three colourways which all look amazing, there's a super limited colourway only for retail, so certain stores like Banquet and All Ages will be stocking them. Who knows, there might even be a surprise somewhere in the vinyl release....
Touring wise, can you give us a couple of personal highlights since you started out? What can I say? We've done a lot of touring. Highlights... generally just being able to see parts of the world and meet people I would never go to or have an excuse to. When you touch down in Denmark or the furthest point of Germany and are treated like a friend after the longest drive ever, all because of a piece of wood with four wound strings attached and I jump around like a nutter, I would say that all touring regardless of who with, or which venue is a highlight, it's just a bit of an honor to get in a crappy van and meet so many awesome people! Loading into the venue will always suck though!
What else can we expect to see from GIANTS in 2016? Well, I would love to ruin the surprise but you're just going to have to wait and see! But yeah we're with Avocado now, which is great! Obviously Hevy Fest is going to be incredible, Europe is always good! There will be more singles being released as we go with a few videos. I guess you can expect GIANTS to continue along the path we always have, and we'll just continue to try and make music that we enjoy, and hope everyone else does too!
Interview with Jack
How did you get to the name Grumble Bee, and what does it mean to you? It’s just a sort of playful version of my Grumpy (Grumble) side, balanced against my happy, more upbeat (Bee) side. Band name’s in particular never really mean anything to me, until their music has an impact or resonates in that way - then the name just becomes a “thing”. There’s lots of more extravagant versions of why my project is called that, but I think that’s the one worth sticking with now!
For an unfamiliar reader, then how would you describe the sound of Grumble Bee, and can you tell us a bit about any artists that may have influenced you since you started? I’m just trying to create really catchy pop/RnB melodies buried within an alt/rockier structure to try to appeal to a wide audience, without them being able to pigeon-hole why they like it, or if it’s “acceptable” to like something of whatever genre this is. I’ve grown up with having my brother playing me stuff like Craig David’s ‘Fill me in’ - through to my dad, playing me, The Smiths, The Cure, Pearl Jam etc. And personally, I’m massively into Brand New, Thrice, Biffy Clyro & right through to Beyonce & Justin Timberlake. So whatever that makes me!
What made you want to be a solo act, and what can you tell us about the line-up that you have with you when you perform on stage? Writing and producing as a solo artist, was just a natural progression & platform for somewhere to put my ideas after I finished with the band, PaperPlane. The live set up is a three-piece, made up of Zach Phelps on Bass guitar & Callum Connell on Drums - who also used to drum in PaperPlane, so having this team live is a massive thing for me!
What can you tell us about the narrative behind the track 'Francium'? It’s lyrically about not making my girlfriend upset ever! That’s it really. I wasn’t always open with my lyrics and was far more metaphorical, but I’ve found being as honest as possible is pretty beneficial sometimes - as you’ll always find more people can relate to it and get into the songs more.
What can you tell us about the themes and influences behind your ‘Disconnect’ EP? It’s strongly based around the longing to disconnect from everything & everyone, which I know is pretty dark but I tried to balance that sort of emo/alternative undertone with a more positive/uplifting major melody in a lot of the instruments. So there’s hopefully something for everyone, as ironically I’ve connected with more people in support of this EP than any friends/fans before, so it’s unreal to see the amount of positivity.
Can you tell us about the recording process for this EP? I recorded the pre-production and the organs/strings/extra percussion on the final EP in my home studio, before heading to the talented Kris Crummett at Interlace Audio in Portland, Oregon (USA). It was a unique situation, trying to do everything on my own, but his influence and engineering/production style was key to the sound of this particular EP.
Touring wise, can you give us a couple of personal highlights since you started out? Well I’ve played about 15 shows now, but had my first tour with a band from Sweden called Like Torches (check them out!) - who I’ve known for a very long time now, and it just finally aligned to get a tour fixed up with those guys across the UK, last November. The best thing is just being able to play the songs in a live format finally and having that connection with other musicians in a performance situation is great. It’s also amazing to see people at gigs this early as well, so I’m a little baffled by it, but trying to slowly scale and reach out to more & more people.
How would you say Grumble Bee compares to any other alternative upcoming act in the UK? I always have a hard time describing my “qualities”, as I just do what I do, and hope people get what I’m doing. It’s working ok at the minute, so I’m just sticking with that! I’d say I’m trying to write pop songs, with an alternative twist or darker underlining aspect, so I guess it’s just comparable in the way I choose to structure the instruments & melodies within those songs versus anyone else doing the same thing. I’m just doing whatever works in my head really.
What else can we expect to see from Grumble Bee in 2016? I’ll be playing a few smaller festivals this year & I’m also hoping to release some new music around June/July time as well, so I’m working on that at the minute amongst other ideas too! Mainly looking to just gig lots and get my name out there, whilst supporting the EP!
Interview with Edd
We've read that Once Upon a Dead Man has been a long time in the planning, so can you tell us about the formation of the band? It begun with many conversations initially between us three brothers. We talked for a long time about collaborating together at some point, but schedules often got in the way. When we decided we were going to make a go of it, I brought up Simon's name as someone we'd love to get involved. He was my guitarist in USS and Will and I have been involved with him musically for a long time. He's a really close friend and we knew he'd be a great addition. We started meeting up and developing ideas, that happened pretty casually at first, but once we knew the direction we wanted to go in we were meeting more regularly, often in the company of Adnam's Ghost Ship (beer from our favorite Suffolk brewer), and red wine, recording demos at Simon and Charlie's.
For an unfamiliar reader, how would you describe your sound to them? I guess Electro-indie music.
Can you tell us about any bands that have really influenced or shaped the sound of Once Upon a Dead Man? We've been inspired by the likes of the Postal Service, the Mark Kozalek and Jimmy LaValle record, The National, American Analog Set. We've also referenced bands like Chvrches and Phoenix along the way.
How did you get to the band name Once Upon a Dead Man, and what does it mean to you? It's nothing too deep really, it was a name that Will was going to use for a Brigade song and Charlie and I really liked it, so we asked him if we could steal it!
What made you want to release ‘The Canopy’ first from your upcoming EP ‘Concepts and Phenomena’, and can you tell us about the narrative behind the track? 'The Canopy', I guess, gives the listener the most immediate smack in the face from the tracks on the EP, and struck us as an obvious first release. We all really love the track, and none of us have made a lot of music in the past that you might feel like dancing to, well here's a chance! The song is about moving outside your comfort zone really. We often find it very easy to remain in a place that, despite us knowing that it will do us more harm than good, we do so anyway. They often provide a solace that we're reluctant to leave for all the wrong reasons, 'The Canopy' is about meeting that challenge.
How did you get to the EP name ‘Concepts and Phenomena’, and what does it mean to you? 'Concepts and Phenomena' is about the narrative of the record as a whole. It's about questioning and challenging the realities we each experience, being humble enough to challenge our idea of what we call truth. The phrase is taken from Plato, who urged people to ask questions of what we accept to be true. He suggested that our understanding of both physical and conceptual reality was a shadow of its true self, I think an outlook like this encourages a more humble perspective of the world around us and allows for a greater amount of tolerance, which can only be a good thing.
What else can you tell us about the themes and influences that run throughout the ‘Concepts and Phenomena’ EP? Quite a few of the songs hang on the main narrative behind the record, there's also other themes such as love, loss and escapism.
You guys "stepped outside the traditional label structure" when it came to making this EP, so how would you say creating this release has compared overall to anything you've done before as musicians? I think for Will, Simon and myself, this is familiar territory. We've all done label releases as well, and have relied on others to push campaigns, but have had experience with self-release as well. For Charlie, he's less used to self-releasing an album, but we're all really enjoying the freedom. To be honest, it was about keeping the release in the same vein as the making of the record. Everything has been very “home-made”, we've enjoyed the lack of pressure with the whole process.
How did you end up working with Jesse Quin, and what was he like to work with? Jesse's been a friend of all of ours for many years. He used to play guitar in my band, and Simon used to play in a band with him called 5 Monkey 12 in their teens. We've played lots of shows together, supported each other as musicians over the years. Will is a partner with him at Old Jet, which is a building on a disused American airbase which they've converted into creative spaces for different kinds of artists. Jesse has a recording studio there as well. We worked with him on one track, and then it was a no-brainer to do the rest of the record with him as well.
What else can we expect to see from Once Upon a Dead Man in 2016? I think, first thing's first, we'll see how the record's received. After that, we'll be looking to get back to writing and planning our next release. We'd like to play some shows down the line as well, it's a lot of fun.
So, how did you get to the album title 'Love & The Death of Damnation', and what does it mean to you? I always want a title that encapsulates the whole album, I don't ever want to choose a song title, as I think that's a little vague. There's themes of love, and there are more love songs on this album, than I've had on any of my past albums. Then the idea of the ‘Death of Damnation’ is the end of shame, and the idea that maybe God or sin is not as present as some might think.
With 'Love & The Death of Damnation' you've said that "you wanted to get back to writing individual stories, as opposed to an extended narrative", so with that in mind, can you tell us about how the lyric structures compare overall to what you did on ‘Shadows, Greys, and Evil Ways’ which is more of a concept album? My approach was just different. I had a much shorter time to tell a different story. I wanted to tell different stories, and different narratives, but the process was still very similar. Equally as challenging, but that was a new process for me, the whole of idea of writing longer songs, I look at songs like little movies, so it was just a longer movie.
You also said that ‘Love & The Death of Damnation’ "Is more varied musically" so can you tell us a bit about how your sound has grown/progressed overall on this record? I think lyrically and musically it’s more diverse. It has different grooves, kind of swampy grooves. I try to get outside of just my standard way of finger picking or strumming. I need to know there is stuff like that on there, there's even like a gospel song!
We've read that you have a "very spontaneous writing process", so can you tell us about how a track normally comes together for you in the studio? The bones/beginnings of songs are always very spontaneous, or just a stream of consciousness, and then I figure it out, tweak it. Figure out what the song could be. I don't really finish the lyrics almost until I have to sing, it's about figuring out how long the arrangement is, and how long I have to tell the story. Then I'm tightening it up, almost until the moment I hit the mic.
Can you tell us about the producers you've worked with on 'Love & The Death of Damnation', as well as how you originally ended up working with them? This is actually my third full length with them, they're the owners of the label, and also the producers, so it was pretty set in stone! We really work well, there are two guys, Bruce Witkin has a arrangement/musically kind of mind. Then there's Ryan Dorn who is the engineer/tape guy, making sure you get the performances vocally, or the guitar. So they're a great team, and a combination of two minds that both look at things in a different way, they have a great ear.
How do they react to that spontanous writing process? Yeah, I think they trip out, but they always know that I'm going to get there in the end. Recording situation wise, it is at a home studio, so I'm not really punching the clock, so we have time. So if there's a day where thereâ€™s one line, or one word that isn't working for me, weâ€™ll head down there and tweak it until it is really right. So we do have the luxury of time, which is cool!
What made you want to pick 'I Got You' as the first single to release, and what was it like to work with Audra Mae? It was awesome, I was thinking what would be a really good fit for a duet, and just a little bit of her grit and vocally I thought she was great. It was actually my manger who challenged me to write a duet, and they said they'd love to hear what a song would be like with a female voice. I had her verse already started, not thinking of it as a duet, but thinking of it as a male/female part, and then it sort of kind of steamed from that. I wanted to write a no bullsh*t, no fluff love song, a song that was real, about relationships. Love is not always simple, so it was kind of straight to the point, but I wanted it to also be optimistic, as there are struggles.
A lot of people know you for your work on Sons of Anarchy, so can you tell us a bit about how you first ended up working on this TV show? It was actually my lawyer, he called the music supervisor as he was a big fan of the show. At the time I was independent, I wasn't on a label, or a management, and I didn't really have much support around me. So he asked the music supervisor to lunch, and played him some songs, saying that these songs were the perfect match & fit under the idea of good and evil, the conflict emotionally within all kinds of aspects.
Can you tell us about the meaning behind the track ‘Come Join the Murder’, as well as what it was like to work with Kurt Sutter? Kurt just gave us the lyrics. I tweaked them a tiny bit to make some of them more singable, and some of them a little bit more cooler but almost 100% of it is his lyrically. Bob Thiele Jr. (music supervisor for SOA) and I just put it to music and melody. It was actually slotted for an earlier episode, but Kurt ended up loving it so much that he used it for the finale.
‘Come Join the Murder’ got you an Emmy nomination! So what was that like for you, and why do you think people have reacted so much to this track? It's a cool song. The connection with the show, and the actual scene, people were just very invested in it. With the emmy it looks good on the bio to say I've got one, but emotionally I was just like “cool...that's great...hope we win...but whatever”.
Did you get a lot of people coming up to you thinking that you’d wrote the song, when Kurt actually put it together? I don’t know what people are aware of as far as my involvement with that song. It's weird, I don't feel super connected to it, because it's not my lyrics. I'm always very close to my work, and with that one, I don't even play it, which maybe I should as I kind of cheat people in a way. I just don't feel so connected to it. I think it's cool, people love it, and I've seen some crazy lyric tattoos for it already.
Out of the other tracks that featured on the show, which one was a highlight for you to watch being played in the background the most, and why? The first one was probably the most exciting one. ‘The Matodor’, which is of my very first EP, and it's just this kind of evil song about this guy who you can’t totally tell if he is a Matador bull fighter or if he is a murderer. So I wanted to leave it loose and interpretive, so that was kind of the coolest one. They actually told me it was going to be on an episode, which it wasn't, so we all sat around watching it, and it turned out to be on the following week!
Ernie Ball recently released ‘Capturing The White Buffalo: The Recording of an American Songwriter’, so what was this like to be a part of, and what do you want fans to take away from watching this documentary? It was really great. There was just one guy in the room, he did everything, and I think he did a pretty fantastic job. It just gives people an idea of what happens, and hopefully it's entertaining. Hopefully people can see some of the hard work that goes into it, and of course the joy, as well as going deeper into the whole process. But yeah, I thought it turned out great, and I'm super proud of how Will put it together, and thankful to Ernie Ball for making it happen.
How did the album artwork for 'Love & The Death of Damnation' come together, and what do you want it to mean to your fans? I had the title, and it was this guy called Simon Castle, who is actually a Brit, and a friend of mine, I was mulling over different pictures and artwork, and it's always a difficult choice to make. Then he just came up with that with the album cover, and I was like "oh this is it", so I showed it to the producers, and they were like “yeah, this is perfect!”. I'm in the water, with this look on my face, am I drowning myself? Is it a baptism? What’s going on? I thought it was just visually intriguing.
You've toured with Jack Johnson, Ziggy Marley and many more since you started out, so how has that been, and what do you bring to your live performance to make it stand out? Yeah, it's cool, almost every time that I've opened I've done it solo, which with different crowds, I can get a different reaction. With Ziggy Marley for instance, that probably wasn't the best fit, but they always react quite well. I've been headlining a lot, and really I just give it all, perform with passion, and perform the songs to the highest ability, and take people on an emotional journey. Try to have a roller coaster, try to have some drama, and hopefully people can get some feelings from it.
What else can we expect to see from The White Buffalo in 2016? Basically just touring on this record, we've got a bunch of shows coming up. We are coming over to the UK, with the Ramblin' Man Fair, and hopefully we’ll put some shows around that. I'm going to get writing and do all of that, but yeah at the moment that's pretty much the agenda.
What has it been like for you to tour in Europe? I don't really have much history in Europe, I did a couple of shows there to see if people would show up. I think it's spread considerably because of Sons of Anarchy, and my past, I've got four full lengths, and three EP's, and I've been around for a while, but people are just getting introduced to me overseas.
Interview with Anton
How did you get to the album title 'Endless Light', and what does it mean to you? It's the title to one of the songs on the record. This might be one of our most genuine songs we've written thus far. It's about our friend, Daniel, who passed away about a year before we started writing for this record. He did merch for us the first couple of years when O'brother started touring.
What was the hardest part about putting the 'Endless Light' together for you, and why? This is the most fun I've ever had writing and recording for an album so the most difficult thing for me was.... since I live in Chicago and we weâ€™re doing the record in Atlanta, after initial tracking I had to go back home so I was unable to be there for the last part of the recording process.
Can you tell us about the themes and influences that run throughout 'Endless Light'? This is actually our first release where it didn't have a common theme or concept really. I think it opened up options for Tanner lyrically. Musically though, we tried to explore the use of space and openness more. We were listening to a lot of Portishead and Puscifer before writing and they utilize the use of space and silence very well.
'Deconstruct' has a huge and impressive sound to it. Can you tell us a bit about how the track came together, as well as the narrative behind it? Tanner had started writing this song months before we officially started writing for the record. It sounded completely different then from what it is now. The other guys in the band jammed on this song one day, I was in Chicago so Tanner played bass. They finished the song, recorded it, and sent it to me. Tanner wasn't sure about the bass parts but it was my favorite part about the song so I kept it how it was. Bass slides galore. Also I think the song is about the end of the world.
How did you end up working with Andy Hull, Robert McDowell, Brad Fisher, and what were they like to work with? It was the worst. Those guys are the worst. I'm kidding. I think it was a huge part in why pre production and recording went so smooth. We had worked with Brad Fisher and Andy Hull on our EP 'The Death of Day' and with Andy Hull and Robert McDowell on 'Garden Window'. We've toured and made a record together so many times that everyone is truly comfortable around each other. Everyone wasn't afraid to say or try anything because we all knew that it was for the sake of the song.
How did the artwork for 'Endless Light' come together, and what does it mean to you? Our friend Daniel Bressette, that I spoke about earlier, was an amazing artist and the cover art for the record is a section to one of his pieces. It's a good symbol for us to remember him by.
How would you say 'Endless Light' compares overall to what you did on 'Disillusion'? It's less dense as a whole without sacrificing what O'brother is.
Touring wise, can you give us a couple of personal highlights since you started out? We've made friends all over the world, that we will be friends with forever and ever!
What bands/artists have really influenced you since being a part of O'brother, and why? We're always discovering new bands and artists and our taste will change from time to time but our constants are Radiohead, Sigur Ros, Cave In, Jeff Buckley, Torche, and Clint Mansell.
What else can we expect to see from O'brother in 2016? A lot of touring and possibly and hopefully more new music.
Interview with Shaun
How did the music video for ‘Neighbourhood’ come together, and can you tell us about the narrative behind the track? Haha, it's a bit cheesy really. The video is set out from the album artwork, the band is playing above clouds, below the stars, somewhere in between the after life, the cut away shots are the streets of a town I live in which tie in with what the chorus of Neighbourhood is - “Cause lately I've been wandering the streets at night alone, it's likely I'll be found beneath my name that's etched in stone” meaning below my grave. The final shots are of myself walking through a cemetery which is situated on the same road I live on... it's also the same place where I wrote the song ‘Cemetery’ for our previous album ‘Life Gone Wrong’. The underlining message is that I'm just a ghost in my town and my personal heaven is playing music with my band.
How did you get to the album title ‘Modern Earth’, and what does it mean to you? ‘Modern Earth’ to me has many different meanings, It means the title of every song on the record, it's the status of the planet as it hangs today, everything that's wrong with it, everything that is wrong with us as a human race; war, famine, death, disease, homelessness, recession, depression... but then you look outside your window and all you hear is crickets... But it means whatever you want it to mean, whatever makes you feel comfortable admitting to.
What was the hardest part about putting ‘Modern Earth’ together for you guys, and why? There wasn't anything easy about putting ‘Modern Earth’ together, it's an uncomfortable place to be, writing about what makes you upset and angry. Finding the right sound and not drifting away from your roots. My favourite and hardest part of it all was building the entire set for the album cover and video for ‘Neighbourhood’. I had to come up with the ideas and then create them to what was in my head. To me, it's an embodiment of artwork as a whole. Its entire concept, meaning and visual display is all a part of each other.
How did you end up working with Sam Pura, and what was he like to work with? Sam works with a lot of bands on Pure Noise Records as he is friends with Jacob Round who runs PN. Sam is a master at his work, the way he looks at sound is nothing short of an experience in its own self. I'm not going to say it was a breeze working with him because it was far from what we were used to in comparison to working with Neil Kennedy at the Ranch Production House but our time there was definitely inspiring on many levels. I will never forget the first night we all sat together beneath the dark drumbrella, all the lights were out, it was a bit of a “real talk” moment and then suddenly, Sam claps his hands and shouts “LET’S SET UP MICS!”, the lights came on... but dimmer than before, he played Animals As Leaders extremely loud (which was the first time I had ever heard them so my mind was blown) and we just began setting up... I can only imagine that is what it feels like to be on set with someone like Steven Spielberg as you watch the magic unfold. I will never forget that.
We've read that this record will "see the band evolving their sound whilst maintaining their punk rock ethos", so can you tell us a bit more about how you feel your sound has grown/progressed since the release of ‘Life Gone Wrong’? I just feel like we have matured in a lot of ways, our approach to some of the songs on this record are different to anything anyone has heard from us before, some people don't like change, they like your band because of that sound and moment in time, altering that can change your perception sometimes. We have evolved in many ways not just musically or vocally but also as a collective group of friends. We all understand each other’s needs, we're more aware of when someone isn't feeling it the same way. I like to think that our evolution as a band is always kept carefully subtle. You will still hear a lot of what you expect there to be from what you enjoyed about ‘Life Gone Wrong’ but each step is a step forward as far as we are concerned.
Also, looking back on ‘Life Gone Wrong’, how happy are you with this record still, and what do you think it has done for Landscapes? ‘Life Gone Wrong’ will forever be a huge turning point in my life. If it wasn't for that record and the people who followed us, I can't honestly say if I knew I'd still be alive today, let alone if Landscapes would still be going. I had been down some really dark roads prior to ‘LGW's’ release and writing about it was something that allowed me to let go but also reflect. We are all so thankful for what ‘Life Gone Wrong’ has done for us as a band and for us personally.
What else can we expect to see from Landscapes in 2016? 2016 will primarily have us focussed on touring and playing lots of different kinds of shows that you would normally expect us to be at, we want to give our followers a new experience and more of an intimate show where you can be involved. We have already begun writing new material as well which we would love to see released either later in the year or at the beginning of 2017.
Interview with Hiro
Touring wise, what did you get up to in 2015, and can you give us a couple of personal highlights from your time on the road? We had our headline tour in Japan last September, and those shows were the first time we played with Kaz again onstage after his accident. My friend Jonny TV (who does visuals for The Chemical Brothers, Metallica etc) made a video of Kaz walking out of the dark with his guitar before that tour, then we put a huge LED screen on the stage and played it. I knew what’s going to happen but when I saw it I was speechless. I missed him so much and I’m so happy that he’s back now.
So, how did you get to the album title 'XENO', and what does it mean to you? On the first day of recording in LA, we were chilling and drinking in Teru’s room when he showed us the title ‘XENO’. We thought it sounded cool, and the meaning was what we were looking for which is “Unknown” in a futuristic way, so we loved it.
Can you tell us about the main themes and influences that run throughout 'XENO' ? A female artificial intelligence who is living in the mind of one human to understand what a human is. Their feelings and behavior. And she snakes through each song’s character’s mind. That’s the main story of ‘XENO’.
How would you say the sound of Crossfaith has grown/changed since you first started out? Since we released the ‘Zion’ EP, we got the chance to play in front of over 10,000 people at festivals. And we watched big bands playing at the main stage, and thought about why they were playing at this BPM and the beats, so many things. They were thinking about how the song is going to work on the big stage, and so do we now. Not all the time, but those things are always in our mind when we are making songs. That’s the big difference I think.
How happy have you been with the initial reception to 'XENO', and what songs are you enjoying performing live the most from this record? It’s ‘XENO’. As a bassist, this song gave me so many opportunities to try new things like a bass synth, wah, envelope filter and more technical and groovy bass phrases. This song definitely pushed us to the next level and we have fun playing it in front of people.
How did you end up working with Benji Webbe & Caleb Shomo on the record, and what were they like to work with? Both of them are our favorite singers/screamers and good friends so it was really comfortable and quick to work together. We had played ‘Ghost in the Miror’ with Caleb in Tokyo recently and that was a great moment!
How did the front cover for 'XENO' come together, and what does it mean to you? My friend ‘Maxilla’ made it for us and it's about the future and past. AI is really futuristic but at the same time, understanding other people's feelings is not, so they made it in a cool way I think.
Can you give us a couple of personal highlights from performing in the UK over the years? Definitely playing on the main stage at Download Festival. We kept saying “We’re going to play there!” from the start of the band so it means a lot for us. I didn’t even remember what I was doing on the stage after the show, but I do remember the feelings. Now It’s like a confidence and I can’t wait to be back there as a headliner.
What else can we expect to see from Crossfaith in 2016? We are going to release new songs, new videos, and we’re coming back to the UK as much as we can, so I hope we see you there and give me some Jägerbombs when you find me at a venue! Ha.
Interview with Andrew
For those that don't know, why did Ryan Leger end up parting ways with Every Time I Die? He's got two kids and touring was taking a toll on them.
How did Daniel Davison end up joining Every Time I Die, and what has he been like to work with so far? ETID took Norma Jean on their first ever non Christian tour. So we've known him for years and years. A drummer was needed and we happened to be in Chicago where he lives now and we asked him. Daniel is great to work with, he's got a complete different way of looking at music as we do, but it's an amazing fit.
You recently released a teaser of your next album which sounded awesome! How is everything coming along with that, and what can fans expect from it? It's going great. Since all I've really done has been ETID, all I can really say about writing this stuff is that it's coming along the exact same way ‘Hot Damn!’ was. That's really easy, extremely fun and feels natural as hell. I'm really pumped about this.
Looking back on 'From Parts Unknown', how happy are you with this record still, and what do you think it has done for Every Time I Die? I'm extremely proud of every single record we've done. I always think it's rubbish when someone that has never done anything but sit in their bedrooms and listen to records, criticizes someone who genuinely tries to write music that is real and from the heart. That's what FPU I think showed, we've never compromised for anyone. It shows that we’re still true to what we believe and why we started this band and that's to write original music that will never follow any guidelines.
What songs are you still really enjoying performing live of 'From Parts Unknown' at the moment, and why? I honestly love playing every song we've ever written. I was made to be in this band. So it's what I do. They're all me and the rest of the band!
How was your last UK tour in November, and can you give us a couple of personal highlights from your time on the road? That was one of the best UK tours we've ever done. It ended badly, but as it was going on, it was amazing. Those Muck dudes are a trip. Everything was a highlight having them around. I'm really glad we could bring them back.
How does performing in the UK compare to anywhere else in the world? I really love the UK. Out of every place I've been to in the world, it's still one of my favorite places to be. It's a very real environment and it seems like no one is jaded and bitter, which is great.
The last time you played Slam Dunk festival was 2012, how would you describe your experience from the last time you were there? I don't think we had played a show in awhile. I remember being so wound up, like a spring as coiled up as possible and we went on and were about as loud as a band could play. I remember feeling like I wanted to kill the crowd sonically. Haha.
In comparison to say Download Festival it is a smaller festival, though it has got bigger over the years. What do you think is the best thing about “smaller” festivals such as Slam Dunk? The crowd is far more intimate and for me, that's always a better feeling. You can see how they're reacting and you can get a pulse off that. It really charges you up, and it's like there's an aura in the air.
You’ve been signed to Epitaph records for six years, how did that initially feel to be signed to such a major label, and what have they been like to work with so far? It's one of the greatest labels on the earth. Just look at the bands that have been on Epitaph or are currently on Epitaph, it's elite, and I feel like we're apart of something special. Like the special forces of rock. So yeah, that's how it felt when we got asked to be on Epitaph, we’re sitting with the bad asses in the corner of the lunch room.
What else can we expect to see from Every Time I Die in 2016? kickin' ass and takin' names, like we have been since '98. Party all night, teenage wasteland!
Interview with Michael
For those that don't know, how come Ty "Scout" Acord, decided to part ways with the band? He is still a collaborate to a certain extent though right? When Issues first started it was never intended to have Ty tour with us. We admired his writing abilities and creativity. He brings a lot to the sound of Issues. Long story short, we ended up convincing him to tour with us. We wanted a live DJ/keyboardist on stage, as it really enhances the live performance. A couple years into touring he was finding it hard to do the things he was truly passionate about. Tour was taking away from his writing/producing. So he decided to not be apart of the tour aspects, however he was still very much involved with the writing of our new album.
Looking back on your self-titled album, how happy have you been with the feedback to this release, and what do you think it has done for Issues? It actually blows my mind that after two years of it being out people are still jamming it daily. I never expected for it to break into the top ten on billboard. It definitely has carried us a long way from the EP. I feel as if bands have started to notice that we aren't just some kids out here joking around. We take our music very seriously.
What songs are you really enjoying performing live from this release at the moment, and why? I personally love playing ‘Life Of A Nine’, ‘Sad Ghost’, and ‘Personality Cult’. Some of the other guys really like performing ‘Langdon’ as well.
How excited are you for your upcoming UK tour including Slam Dunk Fest, and what can attending fans expect? Well this is our first official headline tour in the UK so I'm excited to see the response. Also, we are fans of the support bands Hacktivist and Astroid Boys. Both really cool bands. We did a co-headliner a few years back with Crown The Empire and that was a lot of fun but we've never done an official Issues headliner over there.
How important would you say festivals like Slam Dunk Festival are to the alternative rock scene? From what I've seen it seems to have received a great response. I'm all for anything that keeps rock n roll, and heavy music alive .
Can you give us a couple of personal highlights from performing in the UK over the years? One of my favorite performances we did in the UK was when we played Reading and Leeds fest. I was blown away at how many people came out and the response we had. People lost their minds and it was one great band after another. It was if the fans never even got tired. Another time was when we were invited to play on BBC Radio 1 with Zane Lowe. That was so much fun and it was such a legendary studio. So many greats came in and out of that building.
How would you say touring in the UK compares to touring anywhere else in the world? Well, as far as the weather goes I do miss the sun when we play in the UK, However I will say that rock is alive and well in the UK, it's awesome to see that. People are much more open minded when it comes to music and I love that. Even in America it's as if rock has just almost come to a stand still. It's kind of sad to see that.
How would you say the metalcore scene has grown/changed since you first started out? The metal scene has definitely grown! It's cool to see some of these bands playing 3,4, and 5 thousand cap venues. When I was growing up it wasn't like that. Some of my favorite bands were playing 500 cap venues. Even a band such as Underoath who were very successful. First time I saw them was in an 800 cap venue. Now you have bands that can easily sell out a 5 thousand cap venue. So it's cool to see it grow and branch out. Also, I think bands are branching out as well, incorporating different genres into their music.
Where would you really like to tour this year that you haven't already, and why? I personally would like to tour Russia. I've heard the response over there is great! Also we had to cancel our show in Ireland a while back so I think we definitely owe them a show. I promise we are coming, we appreciate the patience!
What do you like to do in your free time on tour? Well we aren't really a band that likes to sit around on our computers all day. We try to go explore, a few of us really like history so we like to go see new things. We try to take advantage of that when we visit countries that have deep/interesting history! Also, we love food so if there's a great place to munch near by then we are down.
What else can we expect to see from Issues in 2016? We have so many things coming. Couple music videos, new album, tours, the guys will probably be putting up a play through or two of some songs on the new album. Also, we will be playing some new songs on the upcoming tour in the UK. So we look forward to that, and we hope to see you there.
Interview with Jamey
So, how did you get to the album title ‘The Concrete Confessional’, and what does it mean to you? So we needed to have that kind of juxtaposition between something that was unwavering as well as something that was venerable and honest. So going back and forth with ideas between all of the band members, we came up with ‘The Concrete Confessional’ which was the one that everyone could agree upon, that really represented the music. ‘The Confessional’ is like, it's an admission, or an acknowledgement, it doesn't always have to be something that you're ashamed or embarrassed about. So that's why we put ‘Concrete’ in front of it, because with concrete it's a hard and unwavering, solid matter.
You chose to work with Chris Harris (Zeuss) again, so can you tell us a bit about what your working relationship with him is like? It's funny, because people always say "Hatebreed is just doing Hatebreed". They're not reinventing the wheel or whatever. If you listen to our first three records (Zeuss produced our third record), and then if you listen to the last three records, they're all completely different. There are all different elements there. I don't even think the first record has one drum fill, on the entire record. People are like "it's the same sound" well "how"? If there's a new song that has ten drum fills on it, compared to some of our older tracks from the first album which don’t even have one, then how is it even the same thing. I guess, it's all in how a record is perceived. People will pick up a record and go "It's produced by the same guy, it's mixed by the same guy" so already you're walking into the experience thinking that's it's going to be the same record. But really, we just played to our strengths, and added new ingredients, while completely throwing a curveball, where people will go "there's no rapping, there's no acoustic guitar, there's no dub-step beats, there's no pop punk choruses, there's no djent riffs" but there are new ingredients to the record, that fans will have to listen to the record and find. That was one of the things that Zeuss did very well was to say “this part is hard and heavy, can it still be Hatebreed? But it's new and fresh, it sounds great, it’s memorable whilst also brutal” and that's what you want out of a producer, you want someone to say "this sucks" or "this is great".
You guys co-produced ‘The Divinity of Purpose’, so what was that like, and is this something you'll continue to do on future records? Well with ‘Divinity’ there was stuff that I was like, alright it's different enough when people listen to this record and compare it to say ‘Rise of Brutality’ or ‘Supremacy’. However, people then just said "oh it's the same old Hatebreed!" so you're like damned if you do, damned if you don't! On that record we did do three part harmonies, we did put solos in, and we did do poppy choruses. There's a song called ‘Bitter Truth’ where there's like a clean and melodic chorus, but nobody acknowledged that really, in any of the reviews etc but that song is now a fan favorite. That song was conceived by doing co-production, saying like "hear me out on this, we're going to try this!", "really? you are going to sing like that?". It's screaming, but it's screaming in a note, in key. So it's not clean singing, but it just sounds like it, you're screaming in key. "Oh right, let's try it", and the producer would be like "hmmm!". We did have one song like that on the self-titled called ‘Every Lasting Scar’ which ended up being a huge hit in Europe, so we were like "it worked, why don't we try it again?", with this album on ‘Bitter Truth’, and they were like "okay, but just this one!". So yeah, that's co-production, it's a lot of bouncing ideas back and forth. This is just us, yeah Zeuss has a role in getting a great sound, and working with me tirelessly whilst I'm trying to perfect a riff. We are sitting there for hours, and I'm like "please dude, I'm telling you this is the riff" and he is like "I don't get it, and I don't like it", and then when we click, and he gets it, it's like wow! That's co-production.
Can you tell us about the lyric subjects we can expect to see on ‘The Concrete Confessional’? This is the first time I've ever delved into anything that could be viewed as somewhat political. We're in a weird time in America, with this election coming up, there's so much talk of capitalism, greed, socialism, but all these ideas, I used to be kind of ignorant towards. I've always worked very hard, but I never really knew much about what was going on in election years, and what sort of issues were hitting home for people, and how politics related to those issues. So, that was something I delved into a little bit on this. I don't choose a side, I don't believe in the two party system, as I don't believe it works, it's kind of baffling to me that it's still perceived as that, because there are other parties, but they are just not represented in a larger form, and they don't have the figureheads, or the leadership yet where it could be a deciding factor. So I touch on that, and I touch on where I feel like the American dream has gone extremely wrong, and the hypocrisy of it. There's a couple of songs like that, one called ‘A.D.’ which is kind of loosely based on where it has gone wrong, and it touches on various topics, it doesn't matter what side you are on, as you could listen to this song and it will still spark a fire. There's all this back and forth, all this bickering, arguing between people across party lines. But when you actually get down to the issues, people actually see eye to eye across party lines on so many issues, but they don't know as they're just too concerned with being aligned with some party. Then there's other subjects, like the violence in Paris, and with it hitting close to home with the fact that the rock band Eagles of Death Metal were playing whilst it happened. This happened whilst we were writing and recording the album, and it kind of shifted my focus, I just couldn't get it out of my mind, I was fixed to the screen. I was watching CNN, FOX, and so many people were getting on their "soapbox" as we like to say to discuss their opinions and passionate feelings about why, how it happened, and what could of stopped it from happening, and all these people who identify as one a "liberal", they then get a statement from the leader of the band who was there, and survived it that sounded almost like a conservative type of response. As he said guns would of changed the outcome if the people of France were able to have them (I could be wrong on this). So obviously we don't make the policy on France, we are not citizens of France as we are more citizens of the world. We believe that as musicians, I would think that we all have the same sort of mindset where we never want this type of thing to happen again, it's a horrible situation. Everybody should be given the chance to fight for their life, and be given a dignified chance at surviving this already tough world to live in. People now say if rock is now a target of this, and if rock is representative of the decay of humanity, then we all need to have this conversation and talk about it. So I started to think about how my words effect people, and how my words have this platform (whether I like it or not!). Originally, I was going to edit the whole record, tone it down, but I was like "screw it" life is hard, it's not fair, our record is a speck of sand in an endless beach of records, of millions of records (punk, hardcore, metal etc). So what are you going to do, are you going to let your voice be drowned out? It already is! We are already cutting through a lot of records, so I ended up just singing about what I wanted to sing about, for better or for worse. There's some personal stuff on there, that I think people will relate to. This record is more like how ‘The Rise of Brutality’ was half and half with some anthems, and some personal songs that were representative of that time. However now, we are in a completely different time, but you know, flash forward thirteen years and the world is still in a messed up place...
What was the hardest track for you to put together on ‘The Concrete Confessional’? Lyric wise, probably ‘Walking The Knife’ but it came together at the end. I thought, I've said all that I've been trying to say about the various addictions and recovery on other records. At the 11th hour we were going to keep the record to 12 songs, but Chris came up with this end part, he sent me a couple of riffs where Zeuss and myself just combined two of the riffs that he sent, we literally just chopped them in half and combined them. I started doing this hook over the chorus, and we were like “that could be a chorus!” and then I was like “alright if that’s the chorus then I’ve got to write new verses!”. Having Chris re-think those two riffs, made me re-think the two verses, and all of a sudden I had this story that was to me different to what I'd said in the past, but also still made the point that I wanted to make. The chorus goes "follow what your gut is telling you, or swallow what they're feeding you", and so that's it. I have a history with alcoholism in my family, alcohol is our kryptonite, it's the gateway to all sorts of other destructive patterns, and I know that in my genetics I have a history of this. So it doesn't matter if I know people that can casually drink, it doesn't matter that every time I turn on the TV I see someone chugging a Corrs light. Literally a mile from my house there is billboard after billboard where you're just reminded of alcohol. On the radio the adverts are talking about bacardi rum etc. You go to a rock show and it's sponsored by whatever... I just can't do it! There's other people out there who are struggling with it, and then they hear a song like that and they go “I can't he is right, I've got to follow what my gut is telling me, or swallow what they're feeding me and neither seems bright when you're walking the knife” and that's the chorus "death is on one side, the other is life, neither seems bright when you're walking the knife". So I was like "put it on the album!" we've never had an odd number of songs I don't think, it's either 12 or 14 and I was just like "screw it!" we are making it 13 songs. I even went to the casino and put ten bucks on black 13, and I won, so I was like there you go, make it 13!
Looking back on ‘The Divinity Of Purpose’, how happy have you been with the response to this album? I'm pretty happy with it. When you go to a new label, and it's a one off or there's a possibility that it might be a one off, and if the label knows that you might not be on their label for the next record, it's like any other business. They're not going to be able to do all of the work that you'd expect them to do, because they have other bands that have five or seven album deals, and they just need to devote more time and more money to those bands. So with limited resources, we didn't get the songs on any soundtracks, games, or a big movie. With the selftitled we had the video of ‘In Ashes They Shall Reap’ which was on the DVD for Saw 6, and that was big exposure. On ‘Perseverance’ we had ‘I Will Be Heard’ feature on the soundtrack for xXx. Then we had other songs like ‘Below The Bottom’ which featured on Texas Chainsaw Massacre. So you get this big exposure because the label is out there working the track, and we didn't have that for that record, but it was okay. We ended up having a mild hit with ‘Honour Never Dies’ so that song got a little bit of radio play in certain places, and ended up becoming a hit across Europe, I'm happy with it. With Hatebreed we've been really lucky with the fact that with every album we've had one or two really big culturally significant songs, and that’s all you want, you just want a song that can connect, and for people to say "that's my jam!".
What film would you want to be on now, soundtrack wise? It's funny that you asked me that. I was following the director of the new xXx movie, and I thought how funny it would be if we could get back on it. Right after that I looked on Instagram and Christa Campbell who/they have the rights right now to Leatherface, they’re doing another one of these Texas Chainsaw Massacre spin-offs. But it's just hard to reach out to these people properly. They are re-doing the predator franchise. We had a song on Freddy vs. Jason, that was great for a lot of bands like Ill Nino and Killswitch Engage. There was more of a synergy between horror and metal back then. I guess there still is now actually, we played Rock and Shock and I went and talked to some of the people, you can walk through the convention part of it and talk to the guy who played Jason in the movie, or the guy who played Predator and a lot of these actors and the people that have worked on these projects, they've worked in metal videos, or they've been in metal videos. So there is synergy there, so it would be nice to work more together, because everyone could benefit.
How excited are you to be headlining this year's Impericon Festival? I'm really excited. It's going to be great. I think fans can expect a career spanning set with a couple of new jams thrown in. I hope that for the UK shows people realize that these could be our only UK shows of the year. With the way that the world tour is shaping up right now, obviously we want to comeback, we love doing the small clubs in the UK, everybody in the band loves it there, we go to Nandos every day, we have a blast, we love the fans, people, culture, scenery. The last time we came I was doing more touristy stuff. We did the Ghostfest shows, it was a lot of fun, and that's how it should be. When I saw the line-up for Impericon I was like "yeah ok, it's a little similar to Ghostfest, but maybe Emmure will announce their new lineup, and that will create some excitement, hopefully they'll do it soon, or maybe they'll add another band to the two UK shows, I don't know", but the rest of the year is really filling up quickly, so I say look, this is really your opportunity to see us, do it now.
We heard that you missed the chance to play Download Festival this year, can you tell us a bit about that? We did get the offer for 2016 but we were unable to do it because we had already announced our home state show. Download is one of the best shows to play, so I just wanted to say how painful it was when the offer came. If we were to cancel our hometown show because we got offered Download do you know what kind of backlash that would create? It's already on sale, and it's almost sold out. It's our record release show. We had waited for Download Festival, and we were like “what can we do?”, we left that weekend open just in case we got the offer for Download, but for our release show the only two dates they could do were the Download Festival dates. Our agent said to us that he doesn't think the offer for Download is coming, so we confirmed the home state show, we put the tickets out, I'm on the radio announcing it, social media etc. Literally as that happened we got an email. I had this pit in my stomach, I had physical pain having to say no, and so I've got to give Andy a shout out. You can tweet for Hatebreed to play at Download Festival next year...@Maverick_AC
How happy have you been with the feedback from ‘Walk the Plank’ so far, and what tracks are you really enjoying performing live at the moment? The reaction to the album has been great so far. We’ve been getting a lot of new song requests from fans when we play live. That’s always a good sign. ‘Who Brings A Knife To A Gunfight?’ is a blast to play and it get’s the crowd going.
In total with the greatest hits you’ve released 12 albums concluding with ‘Walk The Plank’, that’s pretty amazing! Where do you continue to find inspiration for the awesome songs you make? We draw upon the experiences we have while we are touring or hanging out at home. Sometimes Taylor Swift drops by and gives us a song she doesn’t want to use. She has a thing for Dan...!
‘Blue Light Special’ was somewhat of a quiet release, how come it didn’t make the cut for ‘Walk The Plank’? We actually released it on a split EP we did with Man with a Mission this past year. It was a song we wrote a couple of years back that just needed a little tweak here and there.Taylor loves it!
You completed a massive tour through the UK in November, so how did that go, and can you give us a couple of personal highlights from your time on the road? Interview with Ali
Yeah, we actually started in Japan and then headed to Europe and finally ended it in the UK. It was a great time. We finally got to play in Budapest, which is a beautiful place. I think the most memorable part of the tour was playing in Paris a few days after the attacks. They told us we were the first American band to play after what happened. The atmosphere was pretty tense, but I remember seeing parents bring their kids to the show, encouraging them not to be afraid. It was a very special show, and one that none of us will forget.
You’ve just completed a short stint in Japan, that must be insane to have a whole different culture love your music and shows, any awesome moments? Japan is an amazing place. We had the chance to go to a hot springs resort on our day off in Nagoya. It was up in the mountains overlooking the beach. We hung out in the hot springs and were treated to an authentic Japanese twelve-course meal. Not bad for a day off!
And in May you’ll be returning for Slam Dunk, what are your feelings when it comes to this festival? Slam Dunk is a great festival. The crowd is always very energetic and come to party. I can’t wait!
In the past you’ve expressed a lot of love for Birmingham, how does it feel to have Slam Dunk in the centre of Birmingham this year, and what can attending fans expect from your performance? We have always had a soft spot for Birmingham because we seem to constantly get in some sort of trouble there. The fans can expect to be bruised and battered (in a good way), there may or may not be lots of drinking, Harry Styles might fight Adele, and someone will most definitely get pregnant.
Slam Dunk is the one place in England you’re likely to get some awesome pop punk and rock bands, is there anyone you’re excited to check out or hang out with while you’re there? I'm looking forward to watching New Found Glory and Every time I Die.
You’re almost veterans of this festival dating back to 2008 when you headlined a stage, how would you say it’s changed in all the years of playing? I don’t feel like it’s changed very much really. It’s a great festival that supports punk music and has amazing fans that come to have a great time. It’s a positive atmosphere and that’s the reason we keep coming back.
You’re always one band that is more than happy to stand around and talk to fans either before or after a show. What is the strangest thing a fan has said to you or given to you? Our fans are the best. I once got a bottle of Japanese rattlesnake whiskey with a real rattlesnake fermented in the bottle.
So youâ€™ve just wrapped up your tour in Brazil, can you give us a couple of great moments from your time on the road there? We got to play some of the best shows we've ever played. The vibe was great and the crew we had working with us was the best. We got to swim in Rio and see Christ the Redeemer, it was cool to do some typical touristy things.
What's it like for you guys to perform in countries/places where English isnâ€™t the first language? It's pretty mind blowing. You never think that your music would reach a place like that, so it's very humbling to have such a positive reception in a place like Brazil.
You guys tore up the UK in December! How was that for you, and can you give us a couple of personal highlights from your time on the road? It was such a great tour. Drug Church and Turnstile really set the bar each night with their performances. It was very fun and some of my highlights included eating vegan english breakfast, it ruled.
How does performing in intimate venues compare to touring in arenas for you guys, how hard can it be to keep that intense live approach that you're known for? We don't really think too much about it. With the smaller venues we feel like we need to perform better and focus a little more because so much more is going on. But when it comes down to it, we treat it the same, we want to sound good and not mess up our songs.
Interview with Will
What do you guys do with your spare time on the road? We're usually playing Halo!
Your self-titled album was released last May. How happy have you been with the feedback to the album, and what do you think it has done for The Story So Far? We're pretty excited that people like it. We're very proud of the record and feel that it best represents the band, so we're happy to have new music to play.
What songs have you really been enjoying performing live from your latest release at the moment, and why? â€˜Distasteâ€™ is very fun to play, it's just a sick 3/4 banger that's got this high pace and energy to it.
How excited are you for your upcoming appearance at Slam Dunk Festival, and what have you enjoyed the most about being a part of this festival over the years? We're excited, it's been awhile since we've been there! We enjoy making friends at the fest and watching bands. It was the last time I saw Set Your Goals perform, so it'll be cool to be apart of a show with them again.
What else can we expect to see from The Story So Far in 2016? We're going to be doing some touring in the summer and kicking ass.
Interview with Dan
Pop Punk/Melodic hardcore is one of the most dominant genres in rock music at the moment, how does it feel to be one of the bands at the forefront of that? It’s great to be part of, there are tons of bands who are playing some amazing and creative music. I wouldn’t say we are necessarily at the forefront, only because, depending on how you mean it, there are lots of bands who are doing incredibly well and influencing the direction the scene is going much more than we currently are and there have been pop punk and hardcore bands for way longer than we’ve been playing music that really paved the way, even though they may not be active right now. We by no means take credit for how much the scene has exploded. Pop influenced punk and punk influenced pop have been part of the popular mainstream for decades.
How happy have you been with the feedback to your self-titled record so far, and what do you think it has done for Four Year Strong? We are extremely happy and grateful for the response for the record. We really worked hard to put out something fun to listen to and make people want to come out to the shows, so to see that being so warmly accepted means a lot to us. We’ve been a band for a long time and were inactive for a little while in-between releases so we had no idea what to expect.
What songs are you really enjoying performing live from your self-titled record at the moment, and why? I love playing the new songs. They are the quickest songs to be so widely embraced live. Fans yell these songs out as much as the older material. I would say my favorites to play are ‘We All Float Down Here’, and ‘Who Cares?’. ‘Float’ is fun because it’s just a bouncy song and the crowd really get wild for it. ‘Who Cares?’ is probably our most “90s Pop punk” song, it has a high energy and it’s fast, playing it is super fun.
How did the music video for 'Stolen Credit Card' come together, and can you tell us about the narrative behind the track? That video really was the brain child of the director, Kyle Thrash. We asked a few directors to send us their interpretation of the song in a video treatment. We wanted to see what happened if we let someone really let their artistry flow. We usually come up with the ideas for our videos and try to convince a director that they’ll be cool, this time we wanted the directors to try and convince us. With Kyle's treatment, we didn’t need much convincing. it sounded super cool and came out even better. we couldn’t be more happy with it. Long story short, it’s about different stories of people who feel lost in their day to day lives, and their journey in finding their place in the world that leads them to happiness.
Slam Dunk festival has always been good for you guys, you’ve sub headlined once and then last time you headlined the second stage. How did that feel, and what do you love so much about being a part of this festival? The fest has always been amazing for us. We always have a great time and the shows are always insane. The UK is one of our most favorite places in the world to play, so to play a fest that is all about high energy fun punk bands in the UK, is the bees knees. It means a lot to us to be able to return to the fest again and again and always be welcomed back with amazing shows. it also doesn’t hurt that we always have tons of friends playing the fest as well. So it’s always super fun.
What advice would you give to the smaller bands or even the main headliner Panic! At The Disco who are playing at Slam Dunk for the first time? hmmmm, I dont know if I have any advice that would be warranted. If anything I would say, the Slam Dunk crowd is there for a high energy, fun show. So don’t take yourself too seriously and have a ball!
A lot of pop punk inspired bands would say that the pioneers are the likes of Green Day and Blink 182, you guys supported Blink 182 in 2013. So how was that? Those shows were absolutely incredible for us, and we couldn’t believe that we had the opportunity to be part of them. The tour itself wasn’t super long for us because we had to fly out to start warped tour, but the biggest highlight for me was the O2 show. Not only was it insane to play that venue but to play it with Blink and be so accepted by their crowd. That show was so incredible, despite the fact that we screwed up the very first note of the set and had to restart, haha!
How would you say the sound of Four Year Strong has grown/progressed since you first started out? Well considering the band started when I was 15 years old, and I am now a 31 year old man who has spent more than half of his life playing in the band, I have grown quite a bit. When we started this band I was a kid who wanted to play music and hang out with my friends, now I am a man who wants to play music and hang out with his friends, you see? a lot has changed for me. But for real, it’s just harder for me to stand being cold now, that’s the biggest change to me personally. I’m such a little bitch when it comes to being cold!
What else can we expect to see from Four Year Strong in 2016? We’ve got a good run of shows/tours spread out through the year. I’m sure we will do some writing and all that, we’ll see what happens. right now we’re just planning to spend some time ripping some gigs.
Interview with Matty
So you guys posted the other day saying that you were going back into the studio. How's the preparation going, and what do you think fans can expect from your next release? We've been writing this record for over a year, on & off tour. We've never been this prepared before. It definitely feels more rock influneced but it's still a Memphis May Fire record through & through.
How does Memphis May Fire spend their down time? Write write write. Practice practice practice. I don't feel like I've ever had REAL time off. That's ok though, I love what I do!
You’re playing a small show at the Electric Ballroom in London, so what can fans expect from that, and are there any chances of any other side shows while you’re over this side of the pond? I love London, I love the people there, & I love that venue. Needless to say I'm really excited for the show. That run is going to be on the tail end of a long stretch of touring for us so we're keeping it pretty short. I believe the London show will be the only side show.
You’re playing the likes of Rock on the Range and Rock N’ Derby with acts like A Day to Remember, Bring Me The Horizon and Red Hot Chili Peppers. So how do you go about creating a presence that can fill both large festivals and relatively "smaller" ones like Slam Dunk? What an honor! We've been touring for eight years & it's still crazy to get on stage at festivals like that. All we can do is give it our best & hope our equipment doesn't fail haha.
Last time you played Slam Dunk you sub headlined a stage below Pierce the Veil, what can you remember the most from this performance? That show was awesome! We played outside & it was a little chilly (perfect weather to perform in). The crowd was amazing!
How excited are you to be back at Slam Dunk Festival this year, and what can attending fans expect? We couldn't be more excited! We'll definitely be incorporating some new songs into the set.
If people were looking at acts to see at Slam Dunk and hadn’t heard of you guys, what would you say to convince them to see you? That's a tough question, becuase I have a lot of respect for any band playing that day. If you stumble accross our stage & like what you hear, we'd love for you to stick around! If not, show your support to any other band playing & that's just as awesome.
You released a deluxe edition of ‘Unconditional’ which featured a couple of new tracks and some acoustic songs as well. What inspired the decision for the deluxe edition? Was it because this album felt especially unique to you? That record will always be very special to me. I wrote it at a very pivital time in my life. We had the record remixed & re-mastered to bring out some of the production that got a little burried the first time around & decided to add the bonus tracks to make the re-release something really special.
What else can we expect to see from Memphis May Fire in 2016? A brand new album & a whole lot of touring!
Interview with Levi
So ‘Deathless’ came out last year, this was your fifth effort as a band, how was it different to your other albums? This record shows another side of MMI. We were in a mental state we have never been in and we really wanted to show it. Our attitude and aggravation really came through this record and made it our darkest.
‘Deathless’ only came out just over a year after ‘Rise of the Lion’, do you feel like the industry has changed so much that you have to throw out new material constantly, or did it just come together that quick naturally? Yes I feel that music is so over saturated today and the listeners need constant content or you will get left behind. There is too many bands releasing too many things so you have to be quicker then the rest to keep that attention.
In October you supported Parkway Drive on their North American Tour, how was that, and can you give us a couple of personal highlights from your time on the road with them? We love the guys in PWD. It was our third time touring with them with every time being in different countries. This tour especially was great because we were both on new albums and the crowd loved the new material. My favorite part on this tour was playing The Wiltern with them because it was a legendary venue that MMI had on our bucket list.
You’ve had this band going since you were all in high school, if Miss May I hadn’t made it big, then what do you think you’d be doing as careers? I think we would all be doing different things but still jamming either with each other or on new projects. I know myself personally would probably be working in advertising somewhere, and working on art.
For ‘Deathless’ you went back to Joey Sturgis, what inspired that decision, and what do you love so much about working with him? Joey is like the 6th member of the band when we work with him. It’s not like working with a producer but a friend and a fellow musician. His ideas and passion for our songs is just as strong as ours and we missed that about our last records so we decided to go back to Sturgis and he knew exactly what we were feeling.
In May you’re going on a pretty massive tour with We Came as Romans, Shvpes, The One Hundred. How does it feel to be part of such a strong lineup, and what are you most excited about on this tour? I am excited to tour with We Came As Romans again over seas because our first time ever on a full tour over there was with WCAR. We used to play local shows with them and we grew up together in the industry. It’s always a nice friends reunion touring with those guys.
And then heading for three days to Slam Dunk festival as well, so how excited are you about that, and what can attending fans expect? I have always wanted to play Slam Dunk and I always find myself every year on instagram seeing all my friends having all the fun. this year though should be a blast because we are one of the few metal bands on the bill and that is always a good time. There is nothing better than being the heaviest band at the show.
How did the music video for 'Turn Back Time' come together, and can you tell us about the narrative behind the track? We all loved this song in the studio and really wanted to take it to the next level. With the video we wanted to portray an abstract vision of someone having time slip away from them and be distorted. The entire meaning of the song is about having those moments in life that you really want to take back what you did at a certain time and change the outcome.
How do shows in the US compare to shows in the UK? Shows in the US are not followed by a nice meal at Nandos.
Aside from the fanbase what would you say is your favourite thing about touring the UK? Being in another country is always an exciting time because you feel like you really are doing something with music and making dreams come true internally. We always wanted to travel the world playing music and I feel even though it’s not our first time there it always feels that way and we appreciate being there.
‘Deathless’ was only released last year but as proven in the past you guys aren’t ones to sit back and watch stuff casually, so is there any writing happening at the moment, and what else can we expect to see from Miss May I in 2016? We are always writing and I already have folders of songs piling up. This year though we have a lot of international touring and great surprises for our fans. 2016 is going to be a good one!
Interview with Telle
How did you get to the album title 'Dark Matter', and what does it mean to you? It was originally a working title of the song ‘Dark Matter’. When we were discussing titles we just kept coming back to it, seeing as it fit the vibe of the album and lyrical content.
We've read that “Dark Matter is the result of our most in-depth writing and recording session we've done” so can you tell us about this process for you guys overall, as well as how it compares to anything you've done before? Well we originally started talking about writing in January of 2015 because we knew we wanted to change up our cycle and not be releasing a 4th full-length album in the summer. We entered the studio in mid-June and by the first week of September the album was completed. We just picked apart every aspect of our band, and really honed in on the direction of the band. We knew we were ready for a change but we wanted it to be one that felt natural for all of us given our respective influences. The result is ‘Dark Matter’.
Lyric wise, can you elaborate on some of the main themes and influences that can be found on 'Dark Matter'? There's several stories told on the new record, not all of which have happy endings like many of our previous material. The band wasn't in a good place for much of the last two years internally and a lot of that comes out in the songs. I really hope people dive into the lyrical content and create their own meanings this time around.
You also said that â€œDark Matter is your most 'dynamic and expansive' release yetâ€?, so can you tell us about how you've progressed musically on this release? I think we just all took a back seat individually and focused on what was best for the greater good of the song and for our band. We wanted to write a career defining album and I think that's what this is.
What was the hardest part about putting 'Dark Matter' together for you guys, and why? Probably just deciding whether or not to write another album. Like I said, we were at rock bottom when we came together and really bonded again as friends upon entering the studio. We knew we hadn't given our best yet, and that we couldn't go out like that. Now, I think we're in the best place personally musically and artistically. It really has lit a fire within us, one I think will give us the career we have hoped we could have.
How did the music video for 'Sellout' come together, and can you tell us about the meaning behind the track? The bare bones treatment for the music video was a concept that I wrote out after discussing ideas with Tony. We knew that with the lyrical content and punk rock vibe of the song it was time for us to open up a bit more as a band about how we view the world around us. We are in dire times, and I hope that we can be a small voice in the back of people's heads that makes them realize there's still hope for us all.
How did you end up working with Matt Good, and what was he like to work with? We originally were set to record with our friend John Feldmann but scheduling conflicts got in the way. We then decided maybe it was best that we found someone who we trusted, who believed in our band and had just as much to lose or gain as us. Matt is an amazing musician and as you can now hear on ‘Dark Matter’, an incredible producer and engineer. He was like our 6th member and really kept us on a path of progression and passion. It was the best choice we have ever made.
How did the artwork for 'Dark Matter' come together, and what does it mean to you guys? With the artwork we gave mostly free reign to Sam Kaufman who did an amazing job. We gave him the record and told him to create what the music made him feel and envision and he created the artwork from there. It really encompasses the dark aspect of the album, and makes you want to take a deeper look, just like the songs will do.
How excited are you for your upcoming performance at Slam Dunk Festival, and what can attending fans expect? We couldn't be happier to be playing a 3rd time. It's an incredible festival and I think this might be the best lineup of the three times we will have played. We are going to play several new songs and a few of the classics and give the best set of the day if at all possible. Don't miss it!
Can you give us a couple of personal highlights from performing in the UK over the years? My personal highlight was when we played the 1st time back in 2012. It was Luke's 1st overseas festival with us and we played direct support to Architects to over 5,000 people. We had the crowd in the palm of our hands and loved every second of it just as much as they did!
What else can we expect to see from The Word Alive in 2016? We'll be announcing several more Euro festivals that will bring us back over in August but not before our ‘Dark Matter’ Tour headlining run in May leading up to Slam Dunk. We play a small intimate show in London just before the three festival dates that looks to be sold out and crazy, we can't wait for our biggest year yet.
Interview with Dave
How happy have you been with the feedback to your self-titled album so far, and what do you think it has done for We Came As Romans? I'm beyond happy with how the album was received by our current fan base and how much it reached new listeners. Our goal since day one, from record to record is to make each one better than the last and to grow our following. I feel this record accomplished that and I'm very proud.
What songs are you really enjoying performing live at the moment from your self-titled album, and why? ‘Regenerate’ is always fun and can get any crowd moving. And ‘The World I Used to Know’ is a favorite because everyone sings along to it so loudly.
How did the music video for 'Who Will Pray?' come together, and can you tell us about the narrative behind the track? My band mates are some of the most hilarious and fun people I've ever met so we wanted to do a video to showcase that. Many of our videos are very serious with deep underlying themes. This one was all about having a good time creating something different and making people laugh. It was interesting to do a video with no live performance, just fight scenes and acting. We even had a stunt coordinator to run through the fight choreography with us! A cool "behind the scenes" fact about this video... We shot a music video for an older song called ‘To Move On Is to Grow’ at this same location. Specifically, where Kyle and I’s car is parked when we take the cover off it. So next time you watch it, be sure to look out for that.
How did you end up working with director Sam Schneider, and what was he like to work with? Sam was amazing to work with. He made creating this video so much fun and stress free. My favorite thing was watching him act as the villain because he nailed the part.
How excited are you for your upcoming UK tour including Slam Dunk Festival, and what can attending fans expect? We always play our hearts out and those festivals won't be any different. We hope to gain some new fans those days and keep our existing ones entertained and we can't do that without putting on the best show we can.
How did your last UK tour go, and can give us a couple of personal highlights from your time on the road then? We were with a band called One Ok Rock and they were some of the best people we've ever met. We played in front of a lot of new fans in an environment we don't typically play! One Ok Rock isn't heavy by any means, so we played a very melodic set which was a nice change of pace.
How would you say shows in the UK compare to anywhere else in the world? I see a lot of similarities between the US and the UK when it comes to playing and attending shows and that’s awesome, being an american band, because it makes us feel more at home.
How would you say the sound of We Came As Romans has grown/progressed since you first started out? It’s been a gradual change from record to record but when you compare our first with our last, our sound has changed so much. A lot of that comes from us changing as people as we've grown into adulthood. When we started this band, we were between 15 and 17 years old, doing it solely for fun on the weekends to get away from home and drink beers in places our parents couldn't catch us drunk. It’s turned into so much more now that we're 24 to 27 years old. Over the course of those 10 years, people change a lot, and with that, our sound has changed as we've all become different people. Over time, we've grown into our instruments, we've learned how to write music and lyrics on a professional level, and performed in more countries than I can count. It all comes through from record to record as our sound develops and we continue to look for what makes us, "us".
What else can we expect to see from We Came As Romans in 2016? We have several exciting tours lined up and we've already began to write for our next record. A lot of awesome things are happening and I still think the best days are yet to come.
Firstly, you were at The Borderline in London recently to support The Teenage Cancer Trust charity, so how was that? It was a lot of fun. It was really our first show back since October and it was just a cool thing to be able to play a venue like that, kind of break down any barriers we might have, you know from playing bigger venues. It shows we're not above doing stuff like that and it was an excellent cause, so we were just so glad to be a part of it.
You just finished a tour in the UK, and from the response it’s clear to see that this country is a great fit for your music? It's showing to be that way, every time we've come over here there has been an overwhelming feeling of support and appreciation, even from our first time coming over here there was just a special bond. The people just seem to have really taken on to our music and what we're all about and we are very grateful for that.
What can people expect from the new Black Stone Cherry record ‘Kentucky’? It's probably the heaviest rock album that we've done, it's intense, it's soulful but it has a live feeling because we got to self produce this album on our own which is something we've always wanted to do. I think it really transposes on the album that we were given free reign to do what we want to do, that was really refreshing.
Going back to the start of the project, when did the process for ‘Kentucky’ begin? We started writing for it around the end of winter last year (2015) and we wrote at home and then more when we were on the road. We began recording it in October and finished it up at the end of it so it didn't even take a month to do it all, we had a blast doing it, it was fun.
erview with Ben Does writing at home and on the road bring a different kind of material to each other? We try and pick the same mentality, there's always the four of us that write. Obviously when we're at home, we're in our element to feel comfortable but many of the songs were written on the back of a bus which is always refreshing, you get a different perspective because you might see something on the road and be inspired that night. You've got to do that on the road, you can't just stop writing.
There are some pretty ferocious moments and riffs on the album, where were you digging for some of this material? It's hard to say, we always want the riff to groove and to have a good motion but a lot of it is just going back and forth, piecing them together with another part. Some riffs are Frankenstein because there's been different ideas that we've had and put them into one. Some of the songs we've had on the album, we've had for several years now and they're just now seeing the light of day. Ultimately we just want the riffs we know are going to rock and people are going to head-bang to, get up and down to, that's what we think of when we write the music.
And of course you can showcase a much more tender side with a song such as 'The Rambler'? Yeah, that is a special song. With every album, we like to throw a curveball. A guy called Jason Todd brought that song to us and he had his original version of it and we took it and added to it with him on it and it's become a beautiful song. One that I think is really going to do well for us.
The album was produced by yourselves this time, as you mentioned, what new creative freedoms did that bring to the band? Well we've always been hands on with albums but being able to fully self-produce this time was very freeing because we didn't have anyone else to answer to but ourselves. We were able to do the things we wanted to do like bring in horns, female background singers, put some strings on the album, we had the freedom to do that without having to go through the record label first.
As a guitarist, how much opportunity do you have to experiment in the studio? A lot of that, we don't want to do too much because we don't want the album to sound too processed and over produced but we'll try anything we want. Any guitar, any pedal for the right sound we'll try it. Nothing is off limits, we try it and if we like it, we do it.
The albums artwork has a simple but very effective look to it, what is the story with it? Basically we wanted a darker vibe because the album is heavy but the house is our practice house, that's where we rehearse. Thatâ€™s our place, not just a random place so because we wanted to call the album â€˜Kentuckyâ€™ and take it back home so to speak, we wanted to show where our roots come from and that is our practice house to this day. The house goes back to the 1800s I'd say, it was a farm, given to our drummers Dad for their band The Kentucky Head Hunters when they were kids. We kind of took it over when we started so it had a lineage for sure. So many great songs were written in that house.
The fact that you are the same band as started out ten years ago with no line up changes is a bit of rarity, apart from obviously being friends, it must make things a lot easier creating an album? We've always done everything equal, from the day we started so that's been the platform we've worked on and created from so there's never any kind of thing of making it harder when it comes to writing or any part of the business end. That's just how we do it.
With the tour beginning before the albums release, is it difficult to prepare a set before hand? It is, we haven't even started that yet. We're trying to figure out what new songs we're doing and where they fit. It's difficult anyway, I know the new album isn't out just yet but we have five albums under our belt so we have to work out what songs they want to hear. It's difficult but hey, that's part of it.
What does the rest of 2016 look like for Black Stone Cherry? More touring, we're doing Australia for the first time, that'll be fun, more touring in the US and coming back to the UK to do a festival in the summer. We hope to do another tour in the UK as well, we're just figuring out when it's going to be so we're staying busy promoting the album and staying on the road.
What made you want to do a deluxe release for ‘Resurrection’ entitled ‘Resurrection: Ascension’, and for those that might of not picked it up just yet, then what can they expect from the release? The deluxe release came about for many reasons. First off, we had a few acoustic versions of songs that we had recorded when we originally tracked the album, and had the idea to redo ‘Vicious Love’ as a duet with a female vocalist as well as redoing ‘Ready and Willing’ with guest vocalists. We approached Hopeless with the ideas and after all agreeing that it would be a cool thing to do, we went out and wrote and recorded the two new original songs and put it all together on one album. We thought it would be a cool thing that might attract some new listeners, but also had enough added content to also appeal to those who had already purchased the original version of ‘Resurrection’.
‘Resurrection: Ascension’ has two new tracks 'The Enemy' and 'The Crown', can you tell us about the narrative behind these tracks, and also, are they any indication of the future sound of New Found Glory? The two new tracks were originals that we wrote well after the initial tracking of the album. The songs were pretty much written while we were on tour, with us jamming out ideas at soundchecks and recording demos in the bus. The story behind ‘The Enemy’ is pretty simple. We've all had people who end up taking the other person's side in a relationship that's ended, and this song is basically saying that when you've made up your mind that you're no longer going to have a relationship with someone and someone else you know has taken that person's side, then unfortunately it's hard for you to be friends with them, since they're now "friends with the enemy." -
Interview with Cyrus
- As for â€˜The Crownâ€™, it's a pretty universal topic, relating to almost everyone. It tells the story of someone who's at the brink of giving up, yet showing how there is always hope, no matter how bad the situation might be. And then as for the sound of those tracks and whether they're an indicator of the future direction for NFG, that's a hard question to answer. Most of the time we write songs in the present, meaning that whatever is influencing us at the time finds its way into the lyrics and music of our songs. So it's hard to predict what we will be going through when the time comes for our next release, and I think that's one of the main reasons why most of our albums seem to have their own place and identity in our discography.
Are you guys currently working on any new material just yet, if so how's that coming along, and what can fans expect from it? We aren't working on any new material at this time, but we are starting to talk about the timeline for our next release, and we're expecting to have something out sometime in 2017.
How excited are you for your upcoming performance at Slam Dunk Festival, and what can attending fans expect? I'm super excited to be returning to Slam Dunk again after a few years away from the festival. It has grown so much since the last time we took part in it, and the lineup this year looks pretty awesome with tons of great bands and friends of ours sharing the bill along with us. As always, fans can expect an energetic set from us with songs spanning our entire catalog and lots of crowd participation and singalongs as well!
What do you remember the most about the last time you performed at Slam Dunk Festival? What I've always remembered from Slam Dunk besides the shows being awesome was the fact that so many of our friends were there performing as well, and I remember how fun it was to see them and hang for the weekend.
Can you give us a couple of personal highlights from performing in the UK over the years? We've always said that the UK has some of the craziest NFG fans there are, and throughout the years of playing not only club shows but also festivals there we've been fortunate to experience some of the best shows in our career in the UK. We always look forward to returning and this time for Slam Dunk it'll be extra special as it will be our only UK performance for the year!
What do you guys like to do with your free time on the road at the moment? When on the road, most of us have our own routines, but usually it involves exploring whatever area we're in, finding some cool coffee shop or store or attraction to check out, and then relaxing before the shows, maybe using that time to catch up on all of the TV shows we miss while traveling!
Going back a little bit here, but how did the vinyl artwork come together for 'Snow', and can you tell us a bit about the narrative behind that track? The vinyl artwork for â€˜Snowâ€™ was put together by a friend of ours, designed to resemble old Christmas postcards from the past. The idea behind that song was to write about how sometimes when you are totally happy and content in a relationship you feel as if you have everything you need.
At this point you have a huge list of impressive tracks to pick from, so how do you go about putting a set list together? That's honestly one of the hardest parts of our career right now. There's a fine line between including enough "hits" versus making sure to cover all your bases including new material in each set. A lot of times we'll actually revisit old sets to see what we've played in certain markets in the past in order to try and avoid playing duplicate sets. Also obviously the time constraints of sets can really throw a wrench in the process of coming up with setlists. But I think overall we do a pretty decent job of making sure there's something for everyone in our sets, and still sometimes throwing in surprises like cover songs, requests, etc.
What else can we expect to see from New Found Glory in 2016? Touring, touring, and more touring. Plus, we're always trying to come up with cool ideas of new things to make and release so be on the lookout for some special stuff from us throughout the year!
Interview with Joel
So, how did you get to the album title ‘Incarnate’, and what does it mean to you? This whole new record, is I guess the new incarnation of Killswitch with Jesse. Being in the band for the start of the whole writing process for the first time in many years.
This release marks the second album since the return of Jesse on vocals. So with that in mind, how would you say the sound of Killswitch Engage has progressed since 'Disarm The Descent'? I don't think we've changed a ton musically, we've gotten a lot more comfortable with writing together, and hanging out and playing together. It's been really great having Jesse in the band, being able to tour with him and spend some time with him before writing this record. The band feels really together at this point, and it's just been really fun to get back into the swing of things with Jesse.
With 'Disarm The Descent' being a sort of come back album for you guys, with Jesse returning to vocals, then was there maybe less pressure in the recording studio for 'Incarnate'? Now that you've re-established the line-up? I'm not sure if there was any more or less pressure either way. Everyone was a little bit more comfortable this time around, like “yeah we can take our time with this, Jesse's back, we already did a record with him, and a couple of years of touring”. It was a nice place to be as far as going through the whole creative process with everybody. Everyone was just comfortable at this point, hopefully not too comfortable...
How did you originally end up having Adam as a producer, and what do you like the most about having one of your own produce your own music? Adam has pretty much done all of our records, except for the second self-titled which we did with Brendan O'Brien. He has kind of matured a lot as a producer and engineer over the years. He is always great to work with, he has such good ears, it's just nice to have someone in the band who is actually producing the records. So there's never really a fight about where the song should go, or what should happen. Adam just seems to get it, and always has the band's best interest at heart. He is very picky too which is good, he is hard on us when we’re tracking, but he is hard on himself too. He holds himself to the same standards, which is very fair.
Killswitch have a great way of creating heavy music with an impressive melodic approach. So can you tell us a bit about the writing relationship between you and Adam when it comes to the guitar parts, as well as how a track normally comes together for you? I can speak for everyone in Killswitch really, we listen to all types of music. Everything metal to folk and everything in-between. Having some sense of melody has always been something we like to incorporate in our music. As far as playing guitar with Adam, I've been playing with him for well, pushing twenty years now at this point, and that's 17 years with Killswitch. We’ve got to the point where we know what each other likes to hear, it's very comfortable. As far as recording, usually the way we track stuff is whoever writes the part plays it, and that's the way we do it, just to keep things easy. We always try to come up with material, especially when it comes to playing live as well, that compliments each other, and hopefully it sounds full.
As a guitarist, can you tell us a bit about what musicians have really influenced the way you play over the years, and why? When I started playing guitar, I listened to a lot of metal. At the time I was listening Metallica, Slayer, Megadeath. A lot of Testament, they were one of my favourite bands whilst growing up. So I kind of learnt guitar by playing all of that stuff. As I got older, I got into Jimi Hendrix, and that was the first kind of music I ever really listened to other than metal, that I played on guitar, and I was like “wow there's other stuff you can do with this thing called a guitar?”. So I just opened my ears to a lot of other stuff. At this point I just listen to everything I can.
Can you tell us about your guitar rig setup and the equipment you personally used for putting this record together? Sure, I’m still playing Caparison guitars, I have kind of a signature with those guys called the JSM. We pretty much used the JSM for most of the guitar tracks on the record. The Fishman pick ups. As far as amps we are using Laneys (Tony Iommi’s), playing those live. The record is a combination of amps, obviously the Laney stuff, we always go back to the 5150 for rhythm tones. I think this time we are using a Rhodes which is now KSR, kind of a small amp company based in Indiana. They make really nice products, so we used one of their two X twelve cabinets for the recording process. Live we use the Laney Tony Iommi signature cabs. Nothing too different to the last one.
So how long did it take you to find that perfect rig set up, or is it more of a constant work in process that hasn't ended yet? It's always a work in progress, although some of the things have always been constant. I've been playing the Caparison guitars for 11-12 years at this point. I've always been very happy with those. We have been with Laney for a long time, we played Ironhearts for a few years. Now with the Iommi signatures they are a little bit bigger and also have a more grind sound to them, where as ironhearts are more percussive & tight. So with the songs, especially on the new record we wanted a little bit more grind, and something a little bit thicker, so the Iommi amps really kind of fit the bill for that.
Jesse has admitted that he slightly struggled when it came to writing lyrics for ‘Incarnate’, so can you tell us about that experience from your point of view, as well as what lyric subjects he ended up bringing to the album? Yeah this one actually took Jesse quite a while. We had a lot of the music recorded for some time. He spent several months putting everything together, and I think part of it was because it was a very personal record for him. Some of it’s slightly political, some of it is about religion, and yeah a lot of it is just very personal to him, dealing with inner struggles, depression, things like that. One of the clever things about Jesse and the way he writes is you can kind of listen to a song, and you can interpret it in three/four different ways. "What's that about?", and then when you actually ask him what the song is about it's like "wow, I never would of thought of that". He has a clever way of putting things together, where it’s almost open for interpretation, it's really cool. It did take him a long time to put this one together, but in the end I think he did a really great job, and hopefully it's worth the wait!
What made you want to release ‘Strength of the Mind’ first, and can you tell us about the meaning behind the track? ‘Strength of the Mind’ is one of those fist pumping songs, it's a little bit of a rocker, and it sort of encompasses everything that we do stylistically. I think the verse riffs are kind of Pantera style a little bit, but it's got the melodic bits going on, with a big chorus as well. It seemed like a good representation of where the album was going. It also happened to be one of the first ones we had finished, so there you have it!
Looking back on the first tour you did for ‘Disarm the Descent’, what was that whole experience like for you guys, to be out on the road with Jesse once more, whilst also showing the world your re-established line-up? It was actually really great. Everything happened really fast. It was kind of a tough thing when Howard decided to leave, and we weren't really sure what to do. Do we get a third singer? Or do we change the name of the band. It was kind of a relief when Jesse decided to come back, and he really did a great job. I think it was really cool for us to go out and do a little bit of touring, hang out together, and just re-establish the family a little bit before we had to go into the studio and do ‘Disarm the Descent’. By the time we actually went into record that record, it was fairly easy, it happened quickly. Everybody was very excited to do it, and everybody was just really fired up, like "Hey, we're still here, and we still get to do this!". It was very cool.
You are hitting Download Festival again this year, so how excited are you about that, and what do you enjoy the most about being a part of this festival? Download is always great, it’s huge, and it's always an honor to be a part of it. It's an intimidating amount of people. You get on that stage, and it's a little bit scary, but it's always fun, and we've had the pleasure of doing it a few times over the years at this point, so it's always nice to be welcomed back, so we're looking forward to that.
Can you give us a couple of personal highlights from performing in the UK over the years? Obviously Download, that was the first really huge festival that we got a chance to play. One of the first tours we ever did outside of the US started in the UK, it was with 36 Crazyfists, and Five Pointe O back in the day. Immediately the UK was one of the best, and most welcoming markets for us. The shows were really good right off the bat, we've always enjoyed playing there, it's very cool!
Touring wise what else are you getting up to this year, and are there any places in particular that you're really excited to be performing at? We're not entirely sure what's happening just yet. We're going to be touring in the US for the next two months (roughly). We'll be over in the UK/Europe in June for a little bit, probably do some more stuff in the US. I'm not really sure where the end of the year is going to take us. We always enjoy playing in the UK, going to Europe. Always enjoy going to Australia, hopefully getting there sooner than later, and I guess we will just make our way around.
Finally, what else can we expect to see from Killswitch Engage in 2016? Probably just a lot of touring. Obviously having a new record out, we're very excited about that. We are just going to get out there, and spread the word!
Interview with Matt
The first set of shows for your final tour were in Australia, so how was that, and what was it like to perform there for the last time as Funeral For A Friend? Australia is great, and playing there is pretty awesome. I've always been a fan of that country and its music scene, so getting to go back and play some shows there before we go off into the sunset was really nice. It was obviously tinged with sadness, and I didn't really consider how much of an impact it would have until we played the last shows in each city. Just knowing that you're not going to see these people again (maybe not never), but in that capacity. It's a weight, that's hard to ignore. We did get a bit emotional, it's hard not to. It wasn't a negative heaviness, it was a positive one. The whole idea of these shows, were for us to celebrate something that's been inherently a big part of our life for a number of years, and getting to do it with people that have cared about us. It's meant to be fun, it's meant to be a singalong, like one big giant karaoke opportunity really, for people to get into it, not for people to just stand there and look at us while we play our last ever shows. It's not structured, there's no light shows, there’s no dictated in-between songs banter. I just went out on stage each night and just thanked everybody for the last 15 years, and giving us the ability to be able to do this, and this is what it's about. We started small, and in our mind we're still small, we are consistently still blown away that people still care.
Can you tell us a bit about why Funeral for a Friend originally decided to call it a day, and what was that whole process like for you? There's nothing else for us to do. We've done everything musically that we were going to do as a band together. We all started to go separate ways musically/personally, and other parts of our lives started to take more prevalence. When those things become more prevalent in your life, then you've got to take more notice of that. We've been pretty hard at it for the last four years, we've made records that we are extremely proud of, and we've pushed the boundaries of our art in every way we possibly can. There's no animosity, or fights where we all hate each other, it's just the end of the road. We are not the kind of people to overstay our welcome, or push past the point of something that we should be doing. It was one of those moments where one of us was like, “do you know what? This is kind of it to be honest”, and it was like someone addressed the elephant in the room. After ‘Chapter and Verse’ it felt like a full stop. That album was kind of where we were when we first started, and it was like coming home, it was like we're done. There was a feeling of relief amongst all of us when that got acknowledged. We knew at the end of making that record that was going to be it.
So did ‘Chapter and Verse’ feel full circle? For me it felt like the band was coming back to where I wanted the band to be when we started. Not just Funeral, just any band that I wanted to be in at the time, in my late teens. It felt like a record that was massively representative of everything that I grew up listening to, and that I loved. If I could be really selfish or controlling of the entire band, then that's the kind of the direction I would of wanted the band to go in from the start. But when you're young, and you're making music together, and you go into it, what you do, is what you do. In the hindsight, youth allowed us to be way more flexible in our mutual creativity, and acknowledge influences amongst other people that we probably wouldn't of noticed. As we've gotten older I think our influences have become way more directed, and we know exactly what we like. We ended up making a record which was inherently born from the base influences that we had from when we created the band in the first place. It's a record that we are incredibly proud of.
So what made you want to pick ‘Casually Dressed & Deep In Conversation’ & ‘Hours’ to perform in full on your final tour? For me ‘Hours’ is my favorite record that we've done, period. If I wanted to find a cross reference where I feel like we were all working on the same page, very cohesively in our influences, then that record is my all time favorite FFAF record. There was no way on earth we were going to say goodbye without doing something like that. With ‘Casually Dressed’, as much as we always play it down, and wonder why people like that record, it's a record that for a lot of people who like our band, it's the one that they fell in love with. In the context of the album the songs gain much more of a sentimental quality compared to when we play them individually, which is the power of not knowing what you're doing at the time, when you're making a record, and putting it together in a particular way. When we did it in Australia, I thought it would be one of those records that we might go through the motions with, but it turned out to be an explosive event. It really was quite an enjoyable experience, to play those songs in that particular order. There are songs on there that we haven't played in a good while. Not since Darran left the band, so yeah, it's been good. I like those songs, but for me ‘Hours’ feels like our first proper album, and ‘Casually Dressed’ feels like a collection of EPs/songs with some additional songs, yeah, and I think that's the crux for me. That's the one thing that let's it down in my head (it's a very small thing), but I don't warm to it as much as I do with ‘Hours’ as it's the first thing we made straight off the bat, as all of us.
Before ‘Casually Dressed’ even came out, there was already a huge following surrounding FFAF. So can you tell us a bit about this time, as well as the lead up to release of that album for you? Snapshots...I can't recall what it felt like to be honest with you, it was just a massive blur. I recall recording ‘Four Ways to Scream Your Name’ in January 2003, it was freezing cold, we got snowed in, and all I can remember was white snow. We were out in the middle of nowhere in Lincolnshire, in the middle of a huge snowstorm. So that EP for me, was just like being stuck. So then, between January and late Spring we were already back in to make the record, we did it in two sessions. I can recall what it was like to be in the studio, but it was always just a rush to complete, because we were up against the schedule, and we were being worked incredibly hard, it was our world at that point, studio, studio, studio, and a couple of shows just before it. The album came out in October 2003, and we finished recording in June/July. ‘Juneau’ came out before we even finished the album properly, and I got hospitalized because the work ethic that Colin put me through almost killed me, that was August!
What happened there? We ran out of time. So we had to do all of the vocals in the mixing sessions. So I was in the studio at 10am in the morning until 2am at night for eleven/twelve days straight, and it just killed me. I wasn't trained vocally, and that's a lot of time singing, with an hour for lunch! We didn't have the time to finish two of the additional tracks, which were ‘You Want Romance’ and ‘Ten Scene Points To The Winner’. I had to stop because my voice completely blew out, I had a day off, and then we were on tour with a band called The Beautiful Mistake. I got an abscess in my throat, and I had glandular fever, which I didn't even know I had at that point. We did a seven day run, and on the last day I couldn't carry on. My Dad drove all of the way to Southampton to pick me up to take me home. I spent about a week in bed, where I couldn't eat or swallow anything, and then I got taken to the hospital to get the abscess drained because it burst. So I was in hospital for about a week where they gave me antibiotics and I had all kinds of rashes (which is when they discovered I had glandular fever). I lost a lot of weight because I couldn't eat, and then about two weeks later we did the Reading/Leeds festival for the first time, I felt incredibly weak, and excited. This experience was where the track "Hospitality" came from, and it's why I have a love/hate relationship with my experience from putting ‘Casually Dressed’ together. I know my limits now, so if someone tries to push me to working that hard, I just won’t do it.
When it came to creating the follow up album ‘Hours’ was there a lot of pressure on you guys at that time? Or maybe something entirely different? There wasn't as far as I can remember, the only time we ever let pressure take us, was with the third album in a weird way, and I don’t know if I’d even say that was pressure. I didn’t feel any pressure when writing ‘Hours’, In fact I was quite eager to expand and explore/discover new things. It's more mellachonia, it's a sad album, it’s a reflective album, and a very dark album, it's much more confrontational in its content, and I'm not sure why that is. I think it was a lot of the topics that were being addressed in the newer songs that we wrote for ‘Casually’ coming more formed for me, during that period. I was becoming more distant from a lot of things in my life, like my religous background, it was becoming more of an exploration of myself and who I was. ‘Hospitality’ was like I said, when I was in hospital, contemplating a lot of subjects like mortality. It fed into a lot of things that I was trying to put through. That's where my social/political kind of elements and mindset were coming through. I'm still a bit shy to address these subjects head on, and back when this album came out, I didn't like explaining myself. There was a lot of topics I was dealing with, equality, sexual equality, abuse, physical abuse, mental abuse. These were the kind of things that I latched onto, and that I wanted to dig into. In itself, it feels like much more of a broader step, I know a lot of people don't consider it a massive depature from ‘Casually Dressed’, but I do. Working with Terry made that album be realised in the way that it is. He was very serious about the themes, and he was very serious about me, he knew that I was struggling with a lot of subjects, and he could see that. Rather than push me to places where I didn't want to go, he allowed me the time to breathe, and how I needed to approach the songs. He wasn't interested in making ‘Casually Dressed’ Part 2, and neither were we really. The songs became much more broader, you've got ‘Hospitality’ which is very dramatic, ‘All The Rage’ which is very much a homage to Boysetsfire in its influence, and what it's trying to say. Obviously they are my lyrics, and it feels like my album in a weird way, it's very much a diary of what I was going through at the time. I was very conflicted, and I didn't really know what I wanted to do, it felt like what I didn't really want to do. A) I wasn't really that sold on making a living through music. B) I find it difficult to trust people in the music industry when it came to our band. I always felt like I was trying to sabotage things. I probably was, I never hung out with any of these people, and I always distanced myself from them. I never really liked that aspect of it. The bullsh*t never washed well with me. I make music because I have to, not because I want to be succesful or famous, so I kind of struggled.
‘Tales Don't Tell Themselves’ was described by you as a concept album, so how did this idea originally come about, and what do you remember the most from putting this record together? I remember that I didn't really want to make a record at that point. I think it was stupid that we went into making a record that quickly after we finished touring ‘Hours’. None of us had any ideas, and it was just a futile exercise. In hindsight, I'm happy that the record came out, but it was a work through, Kris and I had a difficult period, we wrote most of the ideas, basic song ideas and we were just pretty burnt after the first two albums writing/recording/touring. I've grown to really appreciate the record for what it is, I just wish we could put another band name on the album cover. It was kind of a group band thing, it was more lead by other people. The one thing we did to save it, was to just make it a concept album, that was just completely nuts. I mean, I was just done, at that point I was out of ideas and I really had this drive to do something else, which was the ‘The Secret Show’ album. I got critized for that a little bit by my guys at the time, but I had to, otherwise we'd still be in the rehersal room trying to figure out what we were doing...it was my work around as we were just all blocked. So we got past that, and we wrote a bunch of songs that just ended up turning into a strange sort of Queen album really. It probably sounds like I'm degrading the album, but I'm not because I think it's an experiment, and it's something that I'm proud of because we didn't really care in a sense. I don't know what the record label thought, I think they liked it because for them it was a huge slab of melodic rock really, but it completely split everybody down the middle. I kind of like it for the album that it is, it was recorded great, the songs were great, but it's not a Funeral For A Friend album really. We’re all playing on it, but for me it wasn’t a Funeral album. Purely because, if I had to go back to the individual I was when I joined the band, then I don't think it's an album that I thought we would of made. It was not on my creative agenda. So time has allowed me to have that distance from it to say yeah I liked that album, but I kind of wish we put it out as a side project, and then had a break, and then comeback with something else. Who knows, our band might of ended in 2007. It's a very strange album to a degree, as we just threw everything at it, it's got a lot of harmonies, and as much as I love harmonies, I'm not a huge fan of doing them. We've played some songs at our recent shows (which is giving a lot away) because they are so different and just fun to play. At the time it was such a difficult position to be in, because like I said we were burnt out. Other members of the band contributed more stuff to it, and there are a few songs on the album that I wish we hadn't done.
On ‘Welcome Home Armageddon’ you decided to work with the awesome Romesh Dodangoda again, so what made you want to work with him so much, and what does he bring to the recording process for Funeral For A Friend? A) He is local, we were getting tired of having to go far away. We all had ties, families, wives relationships. We heard the stuff he'd done with Kids in Glass Houses, and we thought it was great. Cardiff isn't far from where we are, so it was great. He is cool, and we love him to bits. He worked on some of the more difficult records. I wish he was more well known as he does it for the right reasons, and just has a good ear.
This is a hard one but, looking back over all of your records, can you give us one track that you still remember as being emotionally hard to write for you lyric wise? I can give you one in particular, and it's the hardest track I ever had to write, and that's ‘Roses for the Dead’. I've never been good at dealing with loss, and dealing with my own emotions when it comes to that aspect of life. Being able to articulate in some metaphorical way the loss of some very important people to me over the years, in that song allows me to gain some sort of cathartic closure, and as much closure you can get in regards to that. Every night/time we play that song, it's difficult. It doesn't show to people, but it's always a very transcendent song, and it'll always be the most personal one of every one really, that always hits home, and always has a resonance, as those loses are always going to be there.
So how “excited” are you for your upcoming final UK tour, and what can attending fans expect? I feel grateful, I feel happy, I feel content. Judging from Austrailia, the emotional levels at the UK shows are something I'll be completely unprepared for. So I’ll just bide my time, and wait for that to happen.
Maybe some of the old members will take to the stage? I've had no contact or conversations with anyone about this. I don't know who is there, or not there. If people are there we haven't rehearsed anything! People ask me why don't we perform the shows with the old line-up, and I'm like “that's kind of a disservice to the work that Richard & Gavin have put into this band”. They joined the band at probably the toughest time, and it wasn't easy. We've had huge struggles with things that have almost derailed us, long before now, and they've stood there with Kris and I, and they've sort of shouldered a lot of the weight with the repercussions that's been left by other members, and they've put the work in to make sure that this dream and this huge part of our life could continue, and that means more to me than anything. That loyalty, and that dedication, they could of walked away at any point, but they didn't. They believed in it as much as Kris and I believed in it. So for me they are more Funeral For a Friend than anyone. So it's important for me that when we bow out, we bow out as what we think Funeral for a Friend is, and I think Funeral for a Friend is this. It's never been about the individuals, it’s never been about posters on bedroom walls, that never mattered. It didn’t matter if it was Gareth, me, Kris, or anybody. The songs were always going to be there regardless, and I think Funeral for a Friend is about that, it's not about the people, it's about the music.
You’ve started up an acoustic project, what can you tell us about that? Kind of, I started doing some touring last year by myself, I went on tour with Derek from Defeater, his side project. All of this stuff has mostly been on the mainland in Germany at the moment, and yeah it's fun. I've never really done anything by myself, so it's a bit scary. It's something new, and it's a different experience. I don't really want to do it at the level Funeral for a Friend does things though.
When did you first realize that you wanted to become an artist? It’s hard to pinpoint a moment. I’ve been drawing all my life - or rather, I have never stopped drawing. Everybody draws when they’re kids, just at some point they drop the pencil and go on to do less childish stuff. So I basically kept on going, and I always had comics around, be it Spanish comic books or US superhero stuff. And at some point there between 12 and 16 it all just clicked together. Somebody drew those comics, and I could not live without drawing, and on top of that you got to tell those great, great stories… So when it came the time to decide which way to go, career-wise, I tried to go as close to getting a job in comics (hard as that was in Spain in the early Nineties) as possible. I picked a cool fallback career and went on trying to make it into comics while in college.
What was your first major project, and what was that like for you at the time? That has to be my first paid work. There’s a book here in Spain called Fanhunter, by a guy called Cels Piñol. It tells the very, VERY epic tale of the fight between comic book, movie and roleplaying fans against a religious oppressor bent on banning all those types of entertainment, all that’s fun and cool, basically. It’s hugely referential, wonderfully told, and fun as hell. Well, Fanhunter started as a fanzine in Barcelona, but by the time I made a move on the getting-a-comic-book-job it had climbed up to the top and was being published by Spain’s biggest comic book publisher. I was a fan, and thought that it might be a good idea to compile a portfolio with my stuff and send it over to Cels. To be honest, it’s not like I was hoping to get a job out of that. It was more the need to try and get feedback from someone who was actually working on comic books! So I was pretty surprised when Cels called me himself and offered me a job. And that was my first paid gig, a 48-pager for the Fanhunter franchise
How did you first end up working with DC, and what did you enjoy the most about working with them? At that point, I had spent some time working on animation, but I was looking forward to getting back to comic books, which is my first, unmatched love. I moved to Barcelona and started getting as many US editors’ email addresses as possible. And every time one of them came around to Spain I would try to get to the convention or festival meeting him or her so I could show my portfolio. The Salon de Barcelona had started bringing DC and Marvel editors back then - and that was HUGE. I got an interview with Joan Hilty. She was working at DC then… And she was wonderful, by the way. One of the nicest persons I’ve had the pleasure to work with. She took the portfolio back to DC, and that was it. A few months later Eddie Berganza, also from DC, came to a festival in Aviles, a little town up in the North, and there I went. I showed him the portfolio and to my surprise, he already knew the stuff! Joan had circulated it ever since she went back home from Barcelona. So he took it back too, and a few weeks later I was offered some samples, and then my first US gig in the Blue Beetle book. What I enjoyed the most about working with them was just the fact of working with them! And of course facing the actual deadlines for the first time, and getting to toy around, if briefly, with characters like Robin. And getting to know the people! When they were part of an impossible plan I could not imagine how very nice they were, how much they love comics. I’ve been very lucky that way, I have always worked with really, really nice people.
You got work on ‘Blue Beetle’, as well as ‘Robin’ whilst you were there, so how was that, and what do you remember the most from putting these comics together? Facing scripts from people whose work I read when I was a kid! And the high, the rush, the learning curve. There was just no time to feel scared, or excited or anything, the job had to be done. That’s what they’re hiring you for, that’s why they put their trust in you. Well, except for the ten-minute session of jumping around the house screaming when I got offered a Robin issue.
After this, you moved to Marvel, so how did that happen, and how would you say it compares to working with DC? I had been doing some fill in Blue Beetle issues, but never got to be the assigned artist to the book. And at one point, they just stopped calling. I was booked to do a Spoiler miniseries. Spoiler is a Batman character, the Robin-esque daughter of a villain. But that fell through, and I found myself without a job. So I kept knocking on doors and going to US conventions whenever I could. And at the New York convention I met an assistant director in Marvel who told me they had an eye on me for some time and asked for my contact information. And that’s how I got my first job at Marvel, a few pages and a Marvel adventures issue.
You started there by working on ‘Nomad: Girl without a World’, so what was that like, and what did you enjoy the most about working as a part of this unique story? I met CB Cebulski in Barcelona, and I had just finished that Marvel Adventures gig. So, basically, I was IN Marvel. I had signed the freelance contract, I had been tested. He saw my samples, and made the connection with the Nomad project. I was introduced to the editors, and a week or so later I was officially assigned the Nomad book. What I enjoyed most was the character herself, and working with Sean McKeever, the writer. Nomad, Rikki Barnes, was the new identity of the Rob Liefeld version of Bucky, from the days of the Heroes Reborn storyline, and that was… Let’s say it was kind of infamous. But I was not going to let go of the chance of doing a whole mini! And then I got the first script and I completely fell for Ricky. She was beautifully written, perfectly fleshed out as a character by Sean. She was completely alive, and believable, and heroic, and tragic, and fun. She felt like our own version of Buffy. She was a character ahead of her time, I think. She would be great in the current landscape of Ms Marvel, Spider-Gwen, Batgirl and the like. She was just right there, only a few years too soon. I became very fond of her, and was very sad when I had to let her go at the end of Young Allies, the book we did after Nomad.
What was it like to work on ‘Zombies Christmas Carol’, and how would you say this project compared to anything else you’d done before? That was strange. At one point, I was only the second artist on the project, doing flashbacks and so on. Then the project fell through, and the editor, at my proposal, went to the bosses with a few sketches of mine to try and refloat the project. And we did it! And it was incredibly fun! Needless to say, it’s a very different kind of book than the usual Marvel stuff, more in the vein of european albums, style-wise. We went crazy, we had fun, and I enjoyed working with Jim McCann, the writer. One of the funniest guys I’ve had the pleasure to work with. My only regret there is that the powers that be in Marvel were not confident that we would be able to make the deadlines for all five issues, and they hired another guy to do two of the five books. It was not a choice I agreed upon, and I can’t say I was happy with their pick. And to top it all, I ended up doing almost half of each of those two books I was not supposed to do because of the deadlines. It still bothers me, because it’s a book I’m very fond of, and we should have been able to do the whole thing and keep its integrity. And the deadlines too, because we would have made the deadlines, for sure!
How did you end up working on ‘X-Men Legacy’, and if you had to pick, then which character did you enjoy working on the most, and why? After Christmas Carol I went to the Talent Management department to ask if they had something in mind for me… And they did. They told me I had been eyed by the X-Office, and a few days later I was requested to give a few sample pages to see how I managed the mutants. That’s been the one time I’ve been asked to do samples after I first got hired in Marvel, but I could see why: I was fresh out of Christmas Carol, and that was a completely different animal! But I got the gig, along with my friends Rafa Sandoval (a TERRIFIC artist) and Jordi Tarragona, who inked us both for a whole year run, I enjoyed working with Rogue a lot. She was the main character in the book, and she was wonderfully melodramatic, in that sense of superheroic soap opera the X-Men are so good at. And Gambit was great too. I had always hated Gambit. I always felt it was a forced try at coolness, with a glorified jumpsuit as a uniform to top it. The worst of the Nineties, all there in one single character. Not a lot of love then, as you can see I was really worried because he was the love interest! And then I got it. He was the Han Solo of the X-Men! So I began drawing my version of Han Solo, who himself has always pulled of the tight pants… And it just clicked, and became one of my favorites in the book.
How fun was it to work on ‘Scarlet Spider’, and what was the most memorable moment for you, when being a part of this run? Fun part of Scarlet Spider: I never felt I was part of the book. I had been off Marvel for half a year, and I got an e-mail from the editor Tom Brennan asking if I’d be interested in doing half issues of Scarlet Spider, ten pages a month for three months? Sure thing. So I got the first ten pages. Then I got TWELVE pages from the following issue. And then they asked me to fully take on the book to its closing issue, three more issues. I found myself being the regular artist in Scarlet Spider just in time to close the book. I never had the time to adapt to the book, or to think of myself as its artist, or anything like that, so it was… Strange. Enjoyable, because it’s a great character and it was very well written, but strange.
You've started work on ‘Web Warriors’, so can you tell us a bit about that, and what fans can expect from it if they haven't checked it out just yet? It comes out from a Spider-Man crossover from a couple years back, Spider-verse, and from one of the Secret Wars book from last summer. And it is FUN. Unabashed fun, summer-tentpole-movie fun. Alternate versions of anyone you can think of, as crazy as you want, and action, and lots and lots of Spiders. We’re having FUN. But the best part is that Mike Costa, the writer, is doing a wonderful work of characterization, giving arcs and voices to all the Spiders. which is to me the real meat of the book. Each one of them appeals to one side of the hero we know as Spider-Man, and are at the same time their own thing. It’s a very, very good, fun book. A wonderful toy they have given us.
What’s the hardest scene you've ever had to work on with ‘Web Wariors’, and why? Wow, I don’t know… We get to do one of these books every month, so there’s plenty of difficult scenes to pick from. I guess it would be the crowded scenes (of which we have plenty in Web Warriors, by the way). They’re not exactly hard per se, but you have to play with a lot of elements and share the focus between all of them. And it takes WORK, it takes hours!
How did you end up working on ‘Nova’, and what can you tell us about it? I was about to finish that run on Scarlet Spider and I went on my usual routine, which is ask the editor I’m working with if he has any other project he wants me in, and then go to Talent Coordination if the answer is no and then off house if the answer is still no. So far I’ve only got to the Talent Coordination stage, I’ve been lucky! Anyway, when I touched base with Talent Coordination I did something I never do, which was somehow “push” in a certain direction. I sent an e-mail requesting to be used in a longer run than in Scarlet Spider and attached a Nova pinup I had done. I had my eye on the book since it had started a year or so before, but I didn’t think I would get it. But still, it was in the Marvel office I was interested in. And when they got back to me the first line was “Funny you sent a Nova pinup…”. And I got a three-issue stint with the book. And when we were about to begin with the third one, again, I went to the editor to ask about more work and he said “Nobody told you? You’re our Nova guy! You’re there until we’re done or you want to leave!” And there I stayed for a year and a half.-
-This iteration of Nova with Sam Alexander as the titular character was (and is) a new example of a Marvel superhero in the Spider-Man trend, only cosmic. A fun, cinematic superhero adventure with a teenager that learns about life, and responsibility and heroism as he soars the universe wielding a fantastic power. Slightly kid-oriented, but with an awesome amount of layers for every age. And man, did I feel at home in that book. And the writing! Gerry Duggan is an absolute genius. He made that kid real, and fun, and absolutely lovable. Pretty much like with Nomad, I fell in love with the character.
Can you give us a couple of personal highlights from working on the ‘Nova’ comics? There was this very funny moment in issue #25 when the whole thing clicked in my head and I knew what I was really doing. It’s a special issue where Sam gets to join the Avengers, and as I did the layouts for the book I kept humming the Back to the Future soundtrack. I never do that. When I layout, I need silence. And I actually had to switch on the soundtrack! And then I realized that Sam was my Marty McFly. But the best part is that right after that issue I did the Annual, where Sam joins Doc Green, which was the name the Hulk had given himself in his then current status of intelligent Hulk. He was basically an impossibly smart scientist in the body of the Hulk! And for the whole issue Gerry had written this fantastic dynamic between Sam and Doc Green that was as if I was doing a Back to the Future book! So, so very fun! And since you ask for a couple of highlights, I’ll throw in there issues #23 and #24, in which Sam fights, well, Evil Hulk. I’m so very proud of being part of those issues. They’re about growth and consequences, about what does it really mean to be a hero and be brave, about Sam standing up against an undefeatable enemy and beating the odds just because it’s the right thing to do. Nova has been my longest run in a book so far, and has very much put me out there as a comic book artist the way only good runs in good books can do.
What else can we expect to see from David Baldeon in 2016? There’s more Web Warriors coming, we’re going to be in the book for some time. And I’m also doing the Micronauts book for IDW. It’s a lot of work, but it’s a classic I was offered the chance to do, I could not let it pass! And hopefully some of my own stuff will start rolling some time at the end of the year. You can only plan so many things in this job!
How did you first get into writing? I was totally art-oriented as a reader, and broke into comics as a budding artist, but Marvel handed me a 6page monster story to script, and I liked writing it, and they liked reading it, so they gave me more writing, and that was that for the art.
What was your first major project, and what was that like for you at the time? After a few Westerns and romance stories, my first major project was The Beast in Amazing Adventures. A very low-level book for a low-level writer, but it was a Marvel comic featuring an X-Man, so I was in heaven.
What was it like to work on ‘X-Men's Beast’, one of your first major Marvel projects, and what do you remember the most from this time? I remember that Marvel gave me complete creative freedom, the way they did with everyone on the totem pole, from highest to lowest. I never had to put myself in a box.
How did you end up working on ‘Captain America’, and what did you enjoy the most about writing for this character? They liked the Beast so they very quickly gave me two more books, Captain America and Defenders. Captain America at that time was a failing book because no one had figured out why a relic of World War II actually mattered in a world with an extremely unpopular Vietnam War. I sat down in my pure confidence and decided to fix that, and I did - casting him as the representative of the values of America, the things they taught us in school, as opposed to whatever the government might be up to. That moved the book from near-cancellation to the #1 seller in six months (which was possible then), and that pretty much solidified my career as a writer. It also solidified the image of Cap we still have today, especially in the films - so devising that image would have to be what I enjoyed most - both for my career and for Captain America, whom I genuinely like, the way any writer likes his characters.
You quickly added ‘The Defenders’, ‘Doc Savage’, ‘The Avengers’ to your workload as well, so how did this happen, and what was it like to write on all of these at the same time? Yes, and The Hulk and Luke Cage and Dr Strange. Once you proved you could do the job, they kept handing out assignments until you filled your dance card. My schedule was basically thus: two days to work out the plot (both in the single book’s terms and the overall Marvel Universe terms) - three days to write the script one day to let it “marinate,” to see if I’d forgotten anything, or could improve anything - one day to chill - and then do it all over again on the next book up. For a certain period of time - in my case, about five years at a crack - I could not have been happier to write a new story every week, as I cycled through all my different characters. But I realized that if I wrote a story a week forever, my brain would eventually turn to cheese, so when I started to find that schedule a grind, I went off and did something else (game design, children’s books, Hollywood) to cleanse my palate. But in my comics-writing periods, I was always a comics fan working on his dream job.
Can you tell us about the creation of ‘Shang Chi, Master of Kung Fu’? Jim Starlin and I saw the Kung Fu TV show and wanted to do our take on that world. Marvel was unimpressed, and insisted we put a commercial character like Fu Manchu in the book, so Jim and I melded all that together. My personal interest was in the Eastern philosophy, which I could contrast with the Western occultism of Dr Strange. So we started the series, and with the third issue, the whole Kung Fu phenomenon hit big. Marvel, now impressed, added a black-and-white magazine, and Jim, seeing our little labor of love becoming time-consuming, bailed. I stuck with the book, but with the fifth issue, the phenomenon caused the addition of annuals and specials, and I saw that I couldn’t do my thing, with the philosophy, if I were turning out all those stories (disconnected stories, at that), so I bailed as well. Fortunately, the books were then taken over by Doug Moench and Paul Gulacy, who proceeded to do their own classic run.
How did you end up working on ‘Doctor Strange’, and what the most iconic moment for you to write about with this character, and why? Frank Brunner was drawing the book, and when the previous writer left, Frank asked for me. I had what I considered a full workload by then, but I wasn’t about to turn down that offer, so I squeezed it in. The most iconic moment is certainly the end of the Sise-Neg-Genesis story, which was hugely satisfying and caused a huge stir.
How did you end up working on the ‘Green Lantern’, and what was the most exciting part about writing for this character? I’d done comics and left comics in the 70s. When I came back in the 80s, I decided I’d work for both Marvel and DC at the same time, to demonstrate independence. Since by then I’d changed the fortunes of a number of books, from Captain America to Detective Comics and Justice League, they offered me GL, which had been stuck in mediocre sales for years. (With Joe Staton as my artist, we doubled the sales,) And the most exciting part there - well, one was just working with the incredible fantasy world of the Green Lanterns, and one was deciding to keep John Stewart as a lead GL instead of sending him back to the background, which led to the Green Lantern Corps, with half a dozen leads, which meant creating Kilowog and Guy Gardner… Basically, GL was fun on every level, comic-book-wise. Unfortunately, it also demonstrated how DC treated its creators, especially those who do them a solid, leaving Joe and me sorry we’d gotten involved with them.
In the 80s you got to work on ‘West Coast Avengers’, ‘The Vision’ and the ‘Scarlet Witch’, so how was that whole experience for you, and if you can, which project did you enjoy writing on the most, and why? It was interesting as a writer to return to some characters after my time off, and to write a different version of the Avengers. The West Coast Avengers were a looser group than The Avengers, so it was fun to try for “classic” material with “less-classic” heroes. As for Vision/Witch, Richard Howell (artist) and I came up with the idea that since I’d married those two in my last go-round, it would make sense for them to have a child this goround - especially since it made no sense, him being an android and all. So I wrote the book keyed to time, as we played out nine actual months - and that was unique.
How did you end up writing for the ‘Silver Surfer’, and what was the hardest part about writing for this iconic character? The Surfer was another of my reclamation projects. He was iconic visually, but he’d worn out his welcome with his “I’m trapped on earth, woe is me!” shtick. I really wanted to get him off Earth - Marvel initially said no - and then for whatever reason reversed itself. So I got to open up the entire universe to this guy, all the Marvel space characters. I got to imagine what it’d be like to soar through the vast void of stars… The only hard part was at the end, when Marvel decided to shut down the Marvel Age in favor of using the company as a cash cow, and complete creative freedom finally came to an end.
You penned some movie spin offs in the early 90s, ‘Jurassic Park’ being one of them, so how was that, and how did it compare to anything you'd done before? I liked Jurassic Park because it was different (as you maybe can tell, I like different). We did the story in fourissue bundles, each with a different artist, and I like to think our story compares favorably with the films.
What was it like to work on ‘Batman: Legends of the Dark Knight’, and how did you go about making the story stand out, whilst making sure that it reflected the signature style you've become known for? I did that story for the editor Archie Goodwin, who was known to be suffering from cancer, so I wrote a Batman story about fighting for your life. Stylistically, it was just me, for better or worse, but in sentiment, it was a gift to Archie. (As noted above, DC’s reflexive response to my redefining the Batman in the 70s was to keep me as far away from the character as possible, so it was only by coming in from the side, via Legends, that I was able to write the character at all.).
You worked on ‘Batman’ again with ‘Batman: Dark Detective’, so how was that, and what do you enjoy the most about writing for this character? Oh, I’ve loved the Batman since I was a kid, and when DC finally asked me and Marshall Rogers and Terry Austin to revisit our run (thirty years on), I jumped at the chance to get back in that world. Again, my feel for the character and his world is just my feel, for better or worse, but it’s one I get a lot of pleasure from. The pulp vibe, the darkness, the villains, and the one man in the world who can stand right on the edge of that…
How did you create the iconic ‘Star-Lord’ character, and can you tell us about this whole experience for you? Having written a number of heroes by then (the 70s), I wanted to do a complete anti-hero, and the idea for the series was, this guy would travel from the sun outward, each issue on a different planet, until he came out of the solar system, into the stars, and be a complete hero named Star-Lord. But after writing the first issue, I left Marvel, and the guy just kind of drifted for decades after that. So imagine my particular surprise when I heard he was going to be in a movie…
Have there been any comics that you've really struggled to write for? If so, which ones and why? Just one or two - ones that I just felt nothing for (e.g., Skull The Slayer and Justice). In both of those cases, I took over a book my editor had created, as a favor to him, but they just didn’t grab me.
People say that with ‘The Avengers Defenders War’ you pretty much invented the concept of the mega-crossover? So would you agree with that, and can you tell us what that project was like to work on? I would agree with that. My model, clearly, was the two-issue JLA/JSA team-ups that DC had done in JLA, but the idea of tying two books together for three months was new. (The idea of company-wide crossovers then came from that.) Since I was in charge of both series, and had complete creative control, and was a fan at heart, it was fun from beginning to end - especially working out the various combinations of characters.
What else can we expect to see from Steve Englehart in 2016? Well, you can see Steve Englehart at the London Film and Comic Con at the end of July. Beyond that, I’m writing an epic saga that I’m not at all worried about selling. If, when I get done, I think I can sell it, I probably will, but I’m not putting any deadline on myself - just using whatever skills I’ve developed since The Beast to go wherever the muse takes me. You might call it complete creative freedom. I’m pretty much post-deadlines these days.
How did you first get into illustration/art? I always loved to draw. I was very young when I began to show my work to some Spanish publishers, I received their suggestions month after month and tried to improve. Finally, at 19, I got it. I started working, along with Lola Moreno, in small stories first then, in a short time they became longer stories and as well as a series.
What was your first major project, and what was that like for you? I started to contribute to Cimoc, that was the most important Spanish monthly magazine at that time. It was a real challenge and thanks to these short stories, I had the chance of working for Marvel UK.
You briefly worked for Marvel UK in the 90s so what was that like, and can you tell us a bit about your time there? We were a small group of four or five artists, among which were Carlos Pacheco and Salvador Larroca. I began to work on my own series for them but unfortunately, Marvel UK was about to close, and at the same time new opportunities of illustration and advertising came to me, so I made the most of it.
How did you first end up working on ‘The Age Of the Sentry’, and what was that whole experience like for you? My illustration style is very different than the one I use for comics, and I proposed to Marvel USA to work in this way, but they thought it was not what they needed. Then I showed them the things that I have done before in comics and they loved it! What was really fun was that I had to draw the The Age of the Sentry in the 50’s Superman Curt Swam way. I did all the art and color and some variant covers and my best memory of it is the very nice work environment between all the artists, writers and editors involved on it.
How did you end up working on ‘Marvel 1602 : Spider-Man’, and what was it like to draw this iconic character in your own way? After The Age of the Sentry, I was offered to complete the series that created Neil Gaiman. It was a wonderful assignment because I did an exhaustive and rigorous search of historical documentation and in turn I had all the creative freedom to adapt, to the age and the story, characters like Spider-Man, Green Goblin, The Lizard or Doctor Octopus. I didn’t feel too much responsibility or pressure for reinterpreting the characters, on the contrary, I always had the support and the approval of my editor and the writer, and with that freedom I could draw the mini-series just as I saw it.
You worked on the ‘Iron Man 2’ film adaptation, so what was that like, and what did you enjoy the most about working on ‘Iron Man’? There was very little time to work on this story, and we didn’t have the rights of image of the actors of the film to draw them, so the characters couldn’t seem too much like them. I love Iron Man and I would love to work much better on his adaptation.
You got to work on the ‘Night of the Living Deadpool’, so how was that, and what do you remember the most from working on this project? I really loved the idea and the development of NOTLD. I wanted to represent my way in the zombies issue and to focus them in a post-apocalyptic world, giving them the look of hyenas carving up a prey, and with the usual setting of the Hammer films: brume, full moon, dead trees…I also liked the idea of coloring it so I could give it the effects that I had thought.
You got to work on ‘Last Days of Ant-Man’, so how was that, and what did you enjoy the most about illustrating this fun, and "small" character? I like Ant-Man more every day. He’s like Iron Man but of limited resources. Someone who wants to leave behind his past and lead his life again. After Deadpool, Axel Alonso wanted me to work on Ant-Man, to bring him to life before the film was in the theaters. I didn’t know anything about the film, so we worked in parallel, It was so exciting.
You've carried on working with this character with ‘Astonishing Ant-Man’, so how is that going, and can you tell us a bit about what fans can expect from this project? He still has a lot to say. His daughter is a teenager that is full of contradictions, and she’s looking for his personal identity, and this can be a bit of a headache for him but somehow he has to help her even if it’s not the best way to do it.
What's the hardest part about what you do? To start every day. This is not a routine job that can be made automatically, it is influenced by outside forces. If the neighbour decides to remodel his house or a personal or family medical emergency happens, it brakes your usual pace, You have to be alert if something comes up and integrate it to your lifestyle. And it’s so difficult.
When did you first realize that acting was what you wanted to do with your life? Edinburgh Festival 1977. In a nutshell, I was doing a Law Degree at LSE when I chose to go to Edinburgh for the summer break, performing in a play at the Festival with The National Student Theatre Company. The entire cast, save for me, were at Drama Schools. They would all ask me “you’re going to be a barrister??”. When an audience member asked me after the show which part of America I was from, I realised that I could be a professional actor. I still finished the degree and now have a ghost career as a lawyer walking alongside me!
What was your first major job role, and can you tell us a bit about that experience for you? My break was doing Steven Berkoff’s West at the Donmar for five months in the summer of 1983. I’d seen at least three productions of his while I was a law student, and adored his work. When I heard he was auditioning for a new play I focussed so heavily on that audition that he couldn’t really turn me down. It was hard work, Steven was hard work, but I loved doing it, more than any theatre show since. He inspired us all with his energy. Everyone came to see that show and in particular Danny Boyle, who cast me the following year at the Royal Court, Elvis Costello and Madness and most of Equity. I rarely go onstage these days, I think roughly once in the last 25 years which isn’t too often...
How did you end up working on ‘Alien3’, and what was it like to work with David Fincher on these visually incredible sets? I had quite long floppy hair at the time - I was at the RSC doing Paula Milne’s Earwig (my last play onstage until 2009). When I heard that Alien 3 was set on a prison planet I went and got a number four buzz cut in Fish on D’Arblay Street in Soho just for the interview. The RSC were furious because I was supposed to be a sexy long-haired fantasy geezer. I auditioned with David Fincher at Pinewood Studios that afternoon. When I left the room the producer Ezra Swerdlow said - "he was good. Now, when is that Withnail actor coming in??”. David looked at him apparently (he told me this later) and said “That Was Him !”. David actually called me back in and asked me which part I wanted to play. I chose Aaron, but that little love affair went too far. Sigourney got wind of David and I getting on “too well” and had the part re-written as a dumb guy - hence the ’85’ nickname… It’s a long story but put it this way - my first Hollywood barbecue, and yes I got my fingers burned. Fincher was sensational and became a good friend when we moved to Los Angeles shortly afterwards on his suggestion.
You went on to work on ‘Wayne's World 2’! So how was that experience, and how did it compare to anything you'd done before as an actor? Kind of peak Brown I suspect in retrospect, I expect my name is checked and I collect. Sorry just broke into a little rhyme there. It was hugely enjoyable. I felt that the part had been written for me - the dialogue for Del Preston was soooo Withnail - but Mike Myers always denied it. I actually called Bruce Robinson for his blessing since I knew I would be repeating - in drugless format - the Danny Performance from Withnail & I. But then I felt that Danny deserved another outing too. Bruce waved my doubts away: “ It’s your performance Ralph, nothing to do with me. ” Danny Goes To Hollywood. Relax, don’t do it was my motto. I was living just off Sunset Boulevard and Fairfax. I was late on my first day, two hours late, overslept. Got lost driving down to Baldwin Hills. It was the “beat them to death with their own shoes” scene, they got me a driver after that. I had to get to work at 2am most days because the tattoos were hand-drawn, it was just me and the artist sitting there drinking coffee and chatting til dawn. I was very happy on that movie, and I had good moments. The London premiere was pretty cool too sitting next to Paul & Linda McCartney who were really sweet.
How did you become a part of ‘Star Wars: Episode 1 - The Phantom Menace’, and can you give us a couple of personal highlights from this time? I was auditioning for a voice part. A non-human part - one of the various creatures. I must have offered about 20 different voices. On my birthday later that week I was offered Ric Olie and a buy-out. Four weeks work, and sign away my rights forever to any residual interest in the film or its merchandise. That included Pizza Hut boxes with my face, Mountain Dew cans with my face, Taco Bell and so on, as well as a small plastic figure in a box which people ask me to sign from time to time. A Ric Olie doll. I think my favourite part of the Star Wars experience was being Bravo Leader and flying the X-Wing. The completely fabulous Celia Imrie was Bravo 5 and we kept each other amused.
Also, what was it like to work with the legendary George Lucas? He’s pretty mono-syllabic to be honest. His direction was simple: “Faster, more intense”. Hugh Quarshie and myself and some other speaking-part actors were not invited to the London Premiere, or the party and we had to watch as Brookside and Eastenders actors walked the red carpet. Not my favourite experience in showbiz, but one that has garnered a lot of attention from fans. It was like working on a giant toy commercial without the pay.
How did the idea for the ‘Lock, Stock...’ TV show come together, and what did you enjoy the most about working on this show? I have no idea how the idea came about, but perhaps the TV show idea came before the movie? This is one of my favourite characters, his head was shaved every morning, his spray tan was applied, his name was Miami Vice. He was uber-cockney and horrible and really funny. The dialogue was brilliant. I chewed the scenery and it was tasty!! My wife didn’t like him, I think I may have tended to take the character home just a little. It was such good fun for me. The four lads were great and all the guest stars. Happy memories.
What was it like to work on ‘Flood’ alongside Robert Carlyle, and what do you remember the most from working in this apocalyptic atmosphere? A great opportunity - and a wonderful first-time visit to South Africa and Cape Town. I asked to visit the township on my day off and the set nurse took me out to Khayelitsha and her project there, a kitchen and school for AIDS orphans. It was an overwhelming experience, no water, no electricity, mile after mile. When I went back to South Africa on Dark Tide I took my co-star Halle Berry back to the project and we had a wonderful day with the staff and the children and brought some publicity to the place, which was subsequently taken over by the ANC. All of my scenes on Flood were with Jade Davidson my daughter, but I did say hi to Bobby one day.
What did you enjoy the most about working on ‘Jack the Giant Slayer’? I love being on horseback and have been lucky enough to have sat on some lovely steeds during my career. They are - if we’re filming in the UK - from Steve Dent’s stables in Rickmansworth where they make sure that you can trot, stop on a mark, get on and off without humiliation, and if you’re lucky, canter or maybe gallop. This is of course not allowed by the film’s insurers, all actors must be protected from danger because injuries are very costly. But my horse was a beauty. I also had the chance to hang out with Ian McShane and we talked endlessly about music which we are both obsessed with.
Leading on from that, what's been the most exciting costume/outfit for you to wear/work with on a project, and why? I don’t know about exciting, but I had to strip down to my underpants onstage at the Bush Theatre in 2009 in Mike Packer’s brilliant play The Dyfunkshonalz (about an ageing punk band reforming for one last sell-out tour advertising a new credit card). Funny and scathing, at the end of the show I’m changing to go onstage - putting on my armour for battle. This included tartan trousers and a Union Jack headscarf, and a moment when I decide to include a rolled-up pair of socks into my underpants to enhance my manhood. Got a laugh every night. I had an actual suit of armour in Jack the Giant Slayer, they would tell us 30 minutes before turning over to get ready for a shot. The film was 3-D which also slows things down. It took us 25 minutes and a team to put the armour on, but it looked splendid. The hat was very heavy, and I couldn’t wear it between takes. I had to walk up a stepladder to get onto the horse. My other costume story is working with the legendary Sandy Powell on The Crying Game. She wanted us all in suits, but I fancied that my geezer would wear a shellsuit. She hated me, but Neil Jordan agreed and thus I was the worst-looking fool in that fine film. I understood that my role in the story was quite specific. And when Neil won the Oscar for best screenplay we were there in West Hollywood and I picked it up and stroked it.
How did you get the part of ‘Dr. Ivchenko’, and what is it like to be a part of the Marvel universe in ‘Agent Carter’? I was offered it, dependent on my Russian accent, so I still had to self-tape, which is how most auditions go these days - fewer and fewer meetings. I’d played Russian before and enjoyed wrapping my vocal cords around those rolling Rs and heavy Ls. Marvel is pretty daunting from the outside - signing non-disclosure agreements, high security and scripts that only appear on heavily password-strengthened websites, but once you’re in the family it is very friendly and genuinely relaxed and creative in the best way. I had one of the very best experiences of my life working on Agent Carter. I like working in Los Angeles - rather than hanging out there looking for work - and I liked the cast and crew of that show. The tone is usually set by the Number One in this case Hayley Atwell - and she was very relaxed, very warm, she loved her work and spread enthusiasm and love throughout the unit. It was a pleasure to work with her. People say that if you finish in prison in the Marvel Universe that is a good thing: because eventually you will escape and live to fight another day. So let’s see...
What has it been like to work alongside Sean Bean on ‘Legends’, and can you tell us a bit about your character on the show? I’d worked with Sean before on a show called Extremely Dangerous in the 1990s, and we’ve hung out a bit in LA together. Sean is easy to work with, pretty low-key and undemanding, but always there in the scene with something else to offer on each take. A proper actor in other words. We get on well, we talk football and politics which means Brighton & Hove Albion for me and Sheffield United for him. We both have strong memories of the miner’s strike in 1984. In the show I played Sean’s handler, MI6 officer Terrence Graves. Without giving too much away, this character had a number of interesting levels which played out over the ten episodes of the show.
What did you enjoy the most about working with James Spader on ‘The Blacklist’? Talking about William Shatner, who James had worked with on Boston Legal. He is a legend of course. James is very demanding on set, very picky, and very much in charge of everything, every detail concerns him, including your performance. This is faintly oppressive, but he wants the show to be great. It means you have to show up to work, and I am grateful to him for keeping me on my toes. I’m ready for anyone these days.
How does working on a TV show compare to what you'd do on a film? The same. I feel that most of the creative people in the industry are working on television at the moment and it feels as if we are going through a golden age of television, particularly in America - I’m thinking of The Sopranos, The Wire, Breaking Bad, Mad Men, Empire, or How To Get Away With Murder. So much interesting stuff being made at the moment. Films seem to have retreated into superheroes and re-makes, apocalypse and car chase. I really liked Room last year, and Foxcatcher the year before, but so many film actors are elbowing each other into TV shows now that the competition is fierce. Both TV shows and films will have a decent crew and a professional approach. It’s not quite the same on a low-budget feature in the UK for example, where some of the crew will be young people learning on the job, but that is vital to keep the industry evolving and the personnel experienced, so I do one of these gigs when I can. I try to use my experience in the industry to pass on to the kids. In the end all filming is a collaboration which is what I enjoy about it. We won’t print a take unless about 25 people on that set are happy, from the focus-puller to the make-up lady, and that’s the reality of it. Everyone knows and respects everyone else’s job, what makes it easy for them, what makes it harder, and there is a real joy in this interactive teamwork across different disciplines to create a whole storytelling which involves collaboration. I’m hooked on it.
What else can we expect to see from Ralph Brown in 2016? Doing some of my own story-telling, a different section of the collaboration, the other side of the camera. I have written a fair bit in my life, two plays and five screenplays. One of the plays was performed and one of the films was made. Time for some more… Oh there will be some acting performances too. Always.
How did you first get into drawing? Around age 6 or so. My grandmother was a painter and a draftsman. She encouraged me to draw and paint from then on. She made sure I had an artistic education from the age of 12. Iâ€™ve had many teachers and mentors since.
What was your first major project, and what was that like for you at the time? Hit:1955 was my first major project doing comics. It was a mini series published by BOOM! in 2013. I had not done any long form comics ever so this project was very exciting and very challenging for me. I had no idea how the publishing world of comics was. I learned a lot about the language of contracts, about the difference between work for hire versus creator owned work. I learned self-discipline and how to manage my time better to reach deadlines. It was incredibly fulfilling.
Can you tell us a bit about your time with BOOM!, as well as what they've been like to work with? Working with BOOM! was great. My editors there were very helpful and accommodating. They gave me quite a bit of freedom to express myself and own my vision.
How did you end up working with Marvel, and what have they been like to work with? Marvel approached me after a few months since Hit:1955 came out. I had worked on various small comic projects before that. They came to me with a short script for Once upon a Time: Out of the Past Anthology. My editors at Marvel have been incredibly accommodating as well. They give me a lot of freedom to do with the script as I please. I usually get very little notes on the work I turn in.
What has been the most exciting project for you to work on while you've been at Marvel and why? I recently worked on the Spider-Women Cross-over event with a script by Robbie Thompson which was a lot of fun because I was working with more than one main character in one single issue. The book features Spider-Woman, Spider-Gwen and Silk as they get through a day on Earth-65. It will be out in stores April 6th.
How did you end up working on ‘Once upon a Time: Out of the Past,’ and what did you enjoy the most about being a part of this? I got an email one day from an editor at Marvel to do a short story based on the show Once Upon A Time. featuring the Evil Queen. The project sounded really fun so I agreed to do it, I couldn't pass up the chance to draw the Evil Queen!
You got to work on ‘Constantine: The Hellblazer’, so can you tell us a bit about that, as well as what it was like to illustrate this cult classic character? Constantine was something else I couldn't say no to… It was a great time working with Ming Doyle, James Tynion IV and Chris Visions. The character is very realistic and visceral, these characteristics I think go very well with my style as it is pretty gritty and dark. I had a lot of fun, I wish it had lasted longer.
Also, what was it like to work with DC! It was great working with DC. I got called in to fill in for Riley Rossmo on two issues. My editors were really great there too, very lenient and understanding. I was given a lot of freedom.
In a comic, what has been the most iconic scene/moment for you to illustrate on and why? hmmm..I’m not sure, I think there is one in every issue I do. I try to tell a story the best I can every time. I try to find new ways to tell them too, not just continue to use things I’ve seen before in a different way.
How excited are you to be working on the ‘Scarlet Witch’ series, and what can fans expect from it? Scarlet Witch was very exciting to work on. It came out in December of last year. The response from fans was really great, a lot of people had positive things to say about it. It was quite fun for me to illustrate as well. I tried some new ways to integrate sound effects on my panels which was really challenging, but a lot of people seemed to enjoy the work.
What does a typical day involve for you? I work 6 days in a week and about 10 hours a day. I wake up at around 9:30am, clean up, do a bit of chores, I have breakfast at my computer while I do e-mails. After that I relax in my garden for about 30 minutes. By noon I get to work until about 3:30pm when I have lunch for about an hour. After that I continue to work until about 8 or 9pm, then it’s gym time. I work out for about an hour to get the blood pumping and de-cramp from sitting all day long. At night I usually do some research, watch a movie, read a book, it varies…And I’m in bed by 2am. Repeat.
What's the hardest part about what you do? I think trying to not stress out is the hardest part. Being disciplined is always hard, specially when your life depends on it. I have to manage myself and make sure I can do my work and meet deadlines so I can get paid.
What's the most rewarding part about what you do? I do what I love, which is tell a story. Make viewers and readers feel emotions with my images.
What else can we expect to see from Vanesa R. Del Rey in 2016? I’ll have a project coming up with Image Comics and a couple more things with Marvel, but I can’t talk about them yet! My apologies!
Set Your Goals There was a collective groan in the pop punk scene when the band announced a hiatus in 2013, the band which brought us so many pop punk classics like ‘Goonies Never Say Die’ and ‘The Few That Remain’, Set Your Goals are now back with the original line up and take to stage at this year’s Slam Dunk! The band have a fantastic energy on stage and their extremely fun brand of pop punk will go down very well over the Slam Dunk weekend, expect some older fans to go crazy when the band play songs from the superb album ‘Mutiny!’ Hopefully the band will have some new music to perform as well creating even more excitement!
Hit the Lights Ohio’s Hit The Lights are still going strong coming into the festival off the back of their fourth studio album ‘Summer Bones’ released by Pure Noise Records, the band have had a few brilliant bangers in the past with songs like ‘Drop the Girl’ and ‘Body Bag’ which will be greatly received by plenty of pop punk fans across the Slam Dunk venues. They’ve played in the UK ( including Slam Dunk) countless times, and with every performance they always give the crowd a memorable show. So make sure you don’t miss out, as these guys are one of the most dynamic pop punk acts out there right now!
Creeper The savvy Southampton band Creeper have launched onto the UK punk scene in recent months with their soulful sound and extremely catchy hooks. The band come into festival on the back of two very successful EP’s ‘The Callous Heart’ and ‘The Stranger’ the group are very unique with their twisted punk style and are very entertaining on the live stage, the track ‘Lie Awake’ will be one of the crowd favourites. Hopefully the band will be opened up to hundreds of new fans who will recognise one of the most underappreciated bands in the UK!
The Starting Line Anyone seeing this band will enjoy a complete nostalgia-fest, The Starting Line burst onto the pop punk scene when it was growing at an incredible pace thanks to the likes of New Found Glory and Sum 41, ‘Say It Like You Mean It’ is considered as one of the most influential pop punk albums of the early noughties. This is a very rare opportunity to catch one of the heroes of pop punk perform extremely popular tracks like ‘The Best of Me’ and ‘Leaving’. What is even better is that the band recently released an EP so hopefully they’ll have even more new material to show off at Slam Dunk, this is a must see set for people to experience a nostalgic and hopefully memorable performance.
Mallory Knox This alt rock five piece from Cambridge UK, are no strangers to Slam Dunk Festival, having featured on the line-up in 2013 and 2014, and now they are returning for the latest run! For a band that haven’t been around long, they have achieved so much, with their debut album, ‘Signals’ reaching 33 in the UK charts, and their sophomore climbing even higher to 16! They just seem to get better, so make it a must to check them out performing their trendy anthemic rock, mixed with post-hardcore and even a dash of indie, which can be heard in hits such as ‘Shout At The Moon’ and ‘Ghost In The Mirror’! They are doing the British rock scene proud, now show them that we are grateful by rocking out and shouting along to their set!
Young Guns Young Guns were announced in the new wave of acts to hit Slam Dunk 2016! This is actually their first show of 2016 and they have said it will be a special one, so that is reason enough to go along! They have quickly become one of the UK’s most popular bands, with heavy air play, packed crowds, including the main stage at Reading/Leeds festival, and their critically acclaimed latest album, ‘Ones and Zeros’, to add to their impressive collection of alt rock perfection! They have great energy and presence in their performance which won’t disappoint as they pelt out massive singles, the ever successful ‘Bones’ and newer songs, ‘Daylight’ and ‘I Want Out’!
Of Mice & Men These heavy metallers from Orange County, California are a ‘force’ to be reckoned with during their live sets, with their hard hitting blend of metalcore injected with nu-metal. This can be heard on their latest, and most successful album, ‘Restoring Force’ which is their highest charting album, peaking at number 1 in the US hard rock charts, as well as appearing in the UK rock chart for first time, at number 17. They sound just as good live as on the CD, and the shared vocals between vocalist, Austin Carlie and Aaron Pauley are striking, and need to be witnessed! Not to mention that this is a UK festival exclusive, and is their first UK appearance of this year! So you just know they are going to be full of energy and give it all they have got! They have hinted at working on new material, so you never know, they may decide to give us a preview! They have a busy touring schedule ahead this year, so you don’t want to miss their UK set, before they head back to the states!
Cancer Bats Canadian Hardcore Punk act Cancer Bats are amongst the latest acts to be announced, asserting that this year’s slam dunk may be the heaviest and most diverse yet! Get ready to let go and mosh like crazy for the mental antics that they will undoubtedly unleash! They have not long finished playing an extensive tour in the UK and Europe in January of this year, and it seems they can’t stay away long… luckily for us! Be prepared for the carnage they create whilst playing songs from their latest fifth studio album, ‘Searching For Zero’, and hopefully they will blast out popular songs, ‘Sabotage’ and ‘Hail Destroyer’! It will be a wild set, so brace yourselves!
Panic! At The Disco For a lot of people the likes of Panic! At the Disco was the soundtrack to their teenage years. The groovy melodic synth sounds combined with rock rhythms piloted ‘A Fever You Can’t Sweat Out’ and since then there have been highs and lows for the Las Vegas group. Now a one man group led by original member Brendan Urie Panic! Have re-established themselves in the scene and are ready to bring their all to Slam Dunk. It’s “Time to Dance”.
Chunk! No, Captain Chunk! Everytime I see these guys plastered on a bill I lose it, their combination of metalcore/pop punk is astounding and their live shows are even better. Last year they released their greatest work yet with ‘Get Lost, Find Yourself’ which featured the awesome tracks ‘Playing Dead’ and ‘The Other Line’. It’s safe to say these French rockers will once again dominate Slam Dunk. There will also be that cheeky ‘All Star’ cover as well.
The Amity Affliction Having recently discovered The Amity Affliction I am so excited to check them out at Slam Dunk. Their combination of melodic hardcore crossed with metalcore is insanely perfect and the latest effort from them ‘Let the Ocean Take Me’ has received a lot of recognition and acclaim. I’m excited to see what these Australian boys can do with their live show, I’m sure with tracks like ‘The Weigh Down’ and ‘Shine On’ it will be a stormer!
Mayday Parade Last time Mayday Parade played Slam Dunk I was reluctantly dragged along, however I was pleasantly surprised. The vocals provided by Derek Sanders were amazing and the harmony he had with the rest of the band was in one word perfect! Their upbeat pop punk anthems got the whole audience going and their rendition of ‘Miserable At Best’ was unbeatable.
Yellowcard As if you needed more than one reason to see one of the best bands to ever write pop-punk, the boys from Florida are also playing their seminal, platinum-selling fourth album ‘Ocean Avenue’ in full. Besides just being a great band live anyway, rest assured that the songs from ‘Ocean Avenue’ haven’t lost any of the quality in the thirteen years since they were written, and if they then follow it up with a greatest hits set you can bet your bottom dollar that you won’t find a better, more feel-good show across almost all of the rest of the festival. Just think of the sing-alongs!
Moose Blood A perfect natural fit for Slam Dunk, Moose Blood’s emo-tinged poprock is sure to go down incredibly well with both the younger and more experienced crowd. Their songs are catchy enough to be entertaining but lyrically and emotionally resonant enough to entice those who want a bit more thought in their music. Throw that in with the raw ability that the band possess in a live scenario and fans who are “dedicated” in the same way that very few other bands’ followers are and you’ve got a show that could be twice as long as it will be and still leave you wanting more.
Real Friends Some detractors of Real Friends claim that they are the direct middle of the road when it comes to generic pop-punk. Whether that’s true or not the jury is still out on, but you know what they are? Fun. Fun! If you like hearing catchy, songs written and performed with genuine feeling then Real Friends must surely be on your radar already, and if they’re not then experiencing their set at Slam Dunk will almost certainly carve their name with a hunting knife into your good books.
Being Eugene - The Amara Clades (single review) Metalcore is such a strong genre and it’s got some of the best names in music fighting in its corner, it’s no wonder so many bands are taking note from the likes of Architects and Northlane. One such band is Being Eugene. Coming straight out of Oxfordshire this six piece band get right up in your face with ‘The Amara Clades’ and make sure you know who they are. The electric guitar work is something to be admired and it’s an awesome riff throughout. One thing I was a fan of was a short dancey part to the song created only with the percussion instruments, that was special. The screams from Being Eugene produced by Lewis Rodwell are incredible, you can feel the energy they’ve packed into this single and by the end I was left shocked by how great this song is.
bad ass! RO
Oxfordshire has another reason to be proud, this is a band who have been influenced by some of the greats and the result is massive. ‘The Amara Clades’ is
Max Cowley - Believe In Me Now (single review) The best thing about writing for a magazine as diverse as this one is that every so often I’ll be thrown a track that is completely different to anything else I get to review. It was refreshing but not amazing. Max Cowley clearly has put a lot of effort into his latest single ‘Believe In Me Now’ and he is a talented guy, however when I listen to this song I can’t help but think ‘failed boyband member’. The keyboard tune is fantastic, it’s a beautiful combination of melodic and soft rock and does go well with Max’s voice which again is good. However the simplistic lyrics let this talented guy down. For the finale of the song it features Max singing three times over which I’m sure is supposed to sound harmonic but just comes across as lost in translation in a sea of boyzone vocals. Max Cowley is an extremely talented man and ‘Believe In Me Now’ has some good points with the music but lyrically and how it’s presented is it’s downfall. RO
Ghost//Signals - Trauma! Trauma! Trauma! (single review) Ghost//Signals take on the classic indie sound that has been done time and time again but with a few funky basslines and perfectly timed drumming they manage to come out on top with a new breed of music. Hailing from Newcastle this is the sound of classic British rock and roll, no gimmicks needed, no out there lyrics just simple music that is down to earth and easy to listen to. The chorus of ‘Trauma, trauma, trauma trauma’ is like an infection that’s hard to shake off, once it’s in it’s there for a while and won’t leave until you force it out. It’s nice though, a genuinely good sounding catchy song that doesn’t let go. That’s hard to find.
The classicly sounding vocals create that authentic homegrown British sound and combined with the fantastic musical accompaniment creates a catchy indie anthem that any old school Pulp fan would love. Ghost//Signals have got the right stuff when it comes to making music and now they just need to release more and more. RO
Matchstick Men - For No Reason (single review) With a very Breaking Benjamin sound Matchstick Men make a huge impression with ‘For No Reason’. With an impending build up behind every chord struck and beat drummed this track seems to be a classic rock track intertwined with some old school punk. The Liverpool based quintet have made waves this side and over the pond and it’s no wonder with the brilliantly technical songs they can produce. ‘For No Reason’ is just another awesome song in their collection. The music behind the vocals is pure and just rock and roll all over. Though the vocals do sound a little familiar they are still extremely good and they come from a talented place. Combine that with the amazing instrument work and you’ve got a hit rock song on your hands. Matchstick Men have opened for such prestigious acts such as Electric 6 and InMe but now it’s time for them to be in the spotlight. The future’s bright. RO
Ashes to Angels - How To Bleed Bristol based Ashes to Angels have an interesting musical style, labelled as Goth Punk, they seem to stretch this to its furthest as they touch on a lot of genres in one fully packed out album. It was probably quite a daunting task to produce a second album after the first was produced by William Control AKA Wil Francis of Aiden. A band they have clearly tried to blend into their music. The transition however is successful, the eagerly anticipated ‘How to Bleed’ will tick all boxes with any Ashes to Angels fan and it seems as if that number is growing daily. The recently released single ‘Horror Cult’ opens this album with a earworm of a chant, most likely to be played live to get any crowd pumped before coming onto the stage. The chorus of ‘We are the horror cult, lost and lonely souls’ is perfect for the teenage angst audience they are clearly trying to reach. It’s clear this band have got a lot of influences and they’ve been thrown into this album at full force. ‘Something to Believe’ is more of a soft pop/rock song with a catchy guitar solo thrown in for good measure. Contrasted with titular track ‘How to Bleed’ which sounds like a classic rock anthem. The extremely versatile vocals provided by lead singer Crilly are certainly a highlight on this album, but they would be nothing without the fantastic guitar work that is displayed track after track. Intricately worked out to perfection, the performance given is second to none. One track that was a stand out was ‘Down We Go’. It’s like a schizophrenic maniac chasing you down, one moment all is calm and collected and the next minute the rock guitars kick in closely followed by the screaming vocals. Ashes to Angels’ popularity is building and building and with an upcoming UK tour and a spot at the prestigious Download Festival it doesn’t look like they’re going anywhere soon. RO
The Dowling Poole - One Hyde Park I’m unsure of how to start this review so I’ll just say The Dowling Poole are a breath of fresh air in the as of late mediocre world of music. If I switched on the radio and heard ‘Receiving Rebecca’ blaring out I would be loving it, something I hope for soon as it’s the single off this album. From the start of this effort I knew I was listening to something special. It was, without sounding too cheesy a magical journey to a simpler time when music didn’t need to be in your face to make it big in the charts, too cheesy. I like this album because it’s beautifully old fashioned and is almost a tribute to the greats of British music. The tune to ‘Adam and Eve’ sounds like it would be perfect for a whacky TV show hosted by Dowling and Poole. That’s not to sell it short, it’s a fun and dancy track that is very reminiscent of the great Madness. The end of ‘When She Knows, She Knows’ has an awesome guitar solo that is almost Queen worthy and certainly displays how talented these two guys are. ‘One Hyde Park’ is full of absolutely amazing tracks, it would be impossible to pick the best ones from this bunch but ‘Receiving Rebecca’, ‘Hope and Glory’ and the psychedelic (only way to describe it) ‘Whatever’ are the standout tracks on this fantastic album. It’s so awesome that this is the culmination of two guys (Dowling and Poole) and their vision to make music, the result is something that’s not been heard for a long time. With a sound that’s reminiscent of The Beatles, The Kinks and a little bit of Kaiser Chiefs their new album ‘One Hyde Park’ could be the beginning of a beautiful thing for this two piece rock and roll machine. RO
Monster Truck - Sittin Heavy Opening with a track that more than matches up to the bands name, Monster Truck thunder this album to life with swagger and poise. 'Why Are You Not Rocking' has an infectious quality to it with an immense groove coupled with some great organ work and makes for an impact opener that sets the rest of the album up nicely. The Hamilton, Ontario natives have been making a good name for themselves of late with some high profile tours and shows, they have, of course, the musical quality to hold their own with a live set that is as high octane as the record. After the short sharp opener, the second song finds them soaring and showing an arsenal of ability, 'Don't Tell Me How to Live' is so fluid and almost glides along, by the time it has finished it feels like another shorter song but it is in actual fact nearly five minutes and what a top notch five minutes it is. It is clear where the influences comes from for the band, ranging from the 60s to some more modern ones, from country to metal, but, they are still able to keep a very clear identity of their own which is a tight rope to walk at times. They manage it comfortably and have an absolute crusher of an album here, one that is ideal driving music! Definitely one to keep an eye out for in 2016. AN
77 - Nothing's Gunna Stop Us There is something very familiar about this album, right from the opening licks of 'It's Alright', most bands have clear influence, so manage to sound original in spite of that, some however don't. 77 have an unmistakeable debt of thanks to AC/DC for their sound, everything about them just swirls with AC/DC from the sound, grooves and solos. That said though, there is something extremely likeable about the songs on show from the Barcelona boys, they are groovy, catchy and very enjoyable. There is a lovely simplicity to the songs that is refreshing. In an age where many bands are becoming more and more extravagant with their songs with longer songs,more intricate, complicated structures and time signatures, there is something to be said for stripping things right back to basics and just letting a bit of raw feeling take the lead. There is even an opportunity to hear how DC doing Thin Lizzy with 'Nothings Gonna Stop Us Now', it is very catchy and simply good fun. The songs are on the whole short and sweet, just enough to be able to make an impact but are full of passion and soul and damn it, it is impossible not to like them. If you are looking for something original then 77 are not going to be it, but if you are looking for something enjoyable then they will tick all the right boxes and considering AC/DC have been making the same album for longer than not, then it's maybe not a bad thing. AN
The Stone Foxes - Twelve Spells San Francisco blues rockers fire back with a fourth album of alluring and fiery rock n roll that finds them coming out all guns blazing with fast, furious and dirty melodies that are like a punch to the gut. 'I Want to be You' has this enigmatic and dark feel to haunt that conjures up Tarantino like soundtrack visions the organ swirls around in the background giving it sufficient atmosphere to sound truly menacing. It is more upbeat with 'This Town' with a jumpy, staccatto tempo that is feelgood but still keeping the grim hints in the lyrics while the grimy build of 'She Said Riot' explodes into another set of chaotic sections that add a little bit of quirk to the album but there is yet still that gloom hanging over it. There is something quite superb about this album, the grim overtone to it while still having an upbeat bounce to it. It is an album that I will be coming back to later to really sit and dissect, there is so much going on that it is impossible to take it all in with just a few listens. Some of the vocal work is masterful, gritty but showing a great amount of talent in the various pitch changes while the guitars have some great hooks and licks that are everywhere ensuring the need to listen deeper to them. This is a band hitting their peak, and this is a superb record to add to their catalogue. AN
Acoustified - We're Not Going Home - I Believe (single reviews) A pair of well worked if by the book 80s style metal songs from Portland rockers Acoustified. 'We're Not Going Home' splices in some good melody in the chugging boom of the riffs while the raspy vocals have that kind of Jizzy Pearl/Vince Neil venom to them which gives it a far more raw quality that would have been missing in the crisp and clean production of the instruments.
feel like there is a good song in there! AN
'I Believe' doesn't pack as much of a punch as the previous with a bit of a hollow feeling in it that I can't quite put my finger on, it sounds very polished, a bit too polished with very little organic feeling to it which is a shame because there does
The White Buffalo - The Love and Death of Damnation Fuelled by a voice exuding aggression, tenderness and a raw beauty, The White Buffalo have got a fantastic vibe that crosses the country/bluegrass boundary over into rockabilly/blues with a fluidity that not many can conjure up. They found some high profile outlet through Sons of Anarchy and although you would love a band like this to get the way on their own merit, it is still great to see a huge show like that know how to pick their music well and give a new platform for a great set of players to grow their name. 'Dark Days' is a brooding masterpiece of a song, the words being fired out by Jake Smith are thoughtful and beautifully delivered with top notch backing from the rolling drums and steel guitars. It is deep and almost melancholic at times but what a fantastic start to this record. With 'Last Call to Heaven' you have a song that is haunting, Smith's voice lead the way masterfully but the backing vocals and harmonies coupled with the strings make this a real spine tingler, dark and majestic with a jazz trumpet solo bringing an epic moment in this slice of Americana. This album is a terrible beauty, truly stunning. AN
Say Anything - Don't Say It Is It’s worth saying that as I began to listen to ‘Give A Damn’ I had to check my headphones were plugged in correctly, mainly because of the sound distortion but this only added to the value of the song. A lot of rock bands are too preoccupied in making the perfect sound that the pure music is forgotten. The chorus of ‘we don’t give a damn what they say’ is incredible also. Say Anything have always been a band that don’t have one defining sound, they’re a mix of rock, emo, punk, hardcore and whatever else they feel like throwing out. That’s why this album is so successful, there is no one song that even feels similar to another. ‘Goshua’ has a wonderful almost dream like keyboard strike going through it before a long protruding bass line interupts. All the while Max’s vocals doing what they do best and being rough and angry sounding, that’s what Say Anything do though. ‘So Numb’ is a fast paced all out rock song that is over too soon. The guitar work is the pinnacle of this track and it is definitely a stand out. It seems that the band aren’t afraid to poke fun at popular culture, especially with titles such as ‘#blessed’ and ‘The Bret Easton Ellis School of Witchcraft and Wizardry’. The latter sounding like more of a backstreet boys song than a rock song, apart from the lyrics, referencing a past it player from back in the day. The one thing that has always made Say Anything brilliant is the vocals, they’re of a whole other range to what is everywhere else in this genre. The vocabulary used is totally out of the box and combine that with the voice it is the perfect combination. Say Anything released this album dead on midnight on a random day with no other information given on when it was coming or if it was indeed coming, just another cog in their strange style of music and timing. However it worked out amazingly and this album is another addition to their brilliant catalogue. RO
Parks Landing - Little Planes Quality sounding soft rock/indie from over the pond, this is Parks Landing and they’re the band you didn’t know you needed. The combination of gentle electric guitars, melodic keyboards and mellow drumming makes this EP a win in all directions. I think the reason why this particular CD seems to be so good is that all the songs are completely different. There doesn’t seem to be any formula they follow, unlike other bands that have a whole album that sounds like one song. The titular track ‘Little Plane’ has a funky dance beat throughout created by the talented guitar work and assisted by the keyboard intersections. This is a complete contrast to ‘At This Point in Time’ that follows a softer path until the chorus which has all the makings of a brilliant anthem.
‘Another Coast’ begins as a simple acoustic number and quickly adapts itself into a high energy rock song that culminates in a fantastic climax bringing an end to this awesome EP. Parks Landing are making their mark all over Baltimore and it wouldn’t be too difficult to imagine their sound spreading like wildfire all over the United States and eventually the world. RO
Like Torches - Shelter Like Torches manage to break out of the generic pop punk that is currently taking over the scene and take it back to its roots. The one thing the genre seems to have lost along the way is the fact it’s an angry genre, it’s not supposed to be happy all the time. From the very beginning of ‘Swing By Swing’ it’s clear these guys want to take it back to this, the shouting vocals in the background of the pop punk vocals introduces this band perfectly. This band have clearly taken influences from a lot of people, there’s essences of old Blink 182 and even touring partners Yellowcard, particularly the funky rhythmic bass line on ‘Bit a Bullet’ or ‘Snowfall Without You’. At points on this album they do seem to take cues from more heavier rock bands and really let loose with the awesome riffs and intense vocals, this is particularly displayed on ‘Coma’ and ‘Walking Home’. One thing about this band is that they’ve managed to cram so much energy into this one album. Every lyric, chord and drum beat just seems to ooze with energy and passion. Like Torches hail from Stockholm but have that American pop punk sound that make them a massive contender in this rock and alternative market. With two albums now under their belt it seems they’re on their way up. RO
MCEG - Self titled (EP) For a band that have been established for no less than four months they’ve managed to create a funky, rocky, rhythmic EP for themselves. While it is refreshing to have the music speak for itself, the quirk behind this band of having no vocals does seem a little misguided. The awesome and intricate guitar work in ‘Murder Party’, particularly near the end when a fantastic climax is built is second to none. The insane drumming in ‘Bonerfunk’ would definitely go a lot better with some singing accompanying it. As I said though, it is refreshing, it just feels like a waste of amazing music to not have any brilliant lyrics to go next to it, I also think a lot of people will overlook them for this fact. ‘Daddies Coke’ starts off with gentle percussion work delicately combined with a funky bassline and slow building guitar before being slammed back down to earth to begin its slow journey again. This song in particular demonstrates the talent this band has, the guitar work alone is fantastic and effortless! It does seem strange in this time of rock to release an EP with entirely no vocals, however MCEG seem to make it work! The amazing rhythms created by this three person band are awesome and with no vocals it does actually allow the attention to be focused on the music. RO
Grumble Bee - Disconnect (EP) From the quiet start of ‘Lapwing’ it was evident that the music Grumble Bee presents is well thought out and complex. It then becomes very difficult to imagine that this whole EP was written by one man, Jack Bennett is the rock genius behind this host of amazing tunes. It’s refreshing to find an EP that genuinely sounds different, while it’s evident that Grumble Bee does take influences from the likes of Brand New, with slow uprising bass tones and Biffy Clyro with high intense guitar solos he culminates it into his own unique brand. ‘Sky Writer’ is the single off ‘Disconnect’ and it’s easy to see why, with a funky dance beat to introduce it before slamming into an intricate and catchy electric guitar solo that any rock fan would fall in love with instantly. This is a total contradiction to the follow up song ‘Soft Filter, Black and White Picture’, which is certaintly the anthem of this EP. The emotional vocals combined with the hard rock instrument work would make this song the perfect festival tune. Grumble Bee’s ‘Disconnect’ is a fantastic piece of original music in a world full of repetitive lalas and nanas. It manages to take influence from some of the biggest acts in the world and somehow create a unique sound all his own. RO
Trevor's Head - Tricolossus Stoner rock has experienced something of a resurgence in recent years and there are some cracking bands out there at the moment and the genre is as strong as I can remember it being. That being said there is of course some that are better than others. Trevor's Head don't fall into that category however as they unleash an album that is as storming as it is technically minded but still able to take things simpler when needed. From the opening drones of 'Blood Moon' the bass jumps out with its melodic implants among the sludge groove of the guitars adding a nice progressive element to things partciularly with the Eastern flavour dropped in at the midway point along with some fine guitar work to lead into a raw and gritty ending. The raw qualities of the album very much stand out, 'Deep Blue Fish' strips the sound back in parts before a superb bluesy mid section which is top notch and the atmospheric, acoustic, spoken word, 'I Had Dreamt I Was Man' is a good interlude section before the bluesy grooves of 'Pan-Galactic Peacniks' brings the groove. Despite the fine technical playing on show they show they can just tear it up too, 'Roll It Over' is fast and furious, bordering on the punk in its aggression and hitting like a pile driver. I've seen a few bands at my old stomping ground of Redhill and this has to be about as good as I've heard coming out of the â€œSouth Easts shittiest suburbâ€? (a little harsh perhaps but.....), these boys have some big potential and when the jazz fused 'Casa De Eduardo' closes the album off, you know you've just heard a stormer of a record. One that is well worth parting with a mere fiver, that barely gets you a pint these days but it will get you a corker of an album! AN
Giants - Break The Cycle Hardcore punk is an enjoyable style, done right it gives you the chance to let loose whatever negative feelings you may possibly have swirling around your head at a particular given time, well Giants do hardcore punk right. They do it with a bit of style as well, adding in some melodic elements that you don't always get and at the odd moment even managing to find some tenderness in among the chaos that they are firing out. It cuts a frantic pace right from the opening notes and continues on a route of furious aggression while still sounding thoughtful. The clean vocals that regularly cut in among the screaming always hit the right notes by coming in at the right moments. The guitars at times take on a distinctly thrash overtone and I love that, it is isn't one dimension and a hundred beats a second, they blend things around nicely and everything has a point and no doing it just for the effect.
'Against the Grain' manages it soundly and 'Another Day Another Year' blends the elements together in a frankly superb manner and absolutely smashes it. Giants are pushing the hardcore elements, and the way they do sounds very organic, there is an obvious thought process with these songs, they are also going to be absolute beasts to hear in the pits! AN
One Step From Falling - The Wayside This quartet from New York describe their music as a new breed of metal, called ‘Heady Metal’, curious to find out what that sounds like? Then keep reading... To open we have the very unexpected, ‘Lungo La Strada’ which is beautiful and feels very natural and ritualistic almost. This was a welcomed surprise that certainly held my attention and leaves you anticipating what is to follow. ‘Wayside’ explodes into action, and has a brilliant dishevelled atmospheric sound, incorporating nu metal and other rock genres, whilst creating something fresh and exhilarating, aided by the effects and vibes. The second half, cleverly relates back to the exotic intro song, and works wonderfully to create a very dynamic inspired sound. ‘Black Cosstice’ particularly highlights lead vocalist, Steve’s clean flawless vocals in an emotive manner. The whole song is well constructed and flows seamlessly, resonating in a highly effective way. ‘Eyeferu’ has a great clanging intro, before angered and frenzied vocals accompany, all heightened by bouncy catchy dark riffs and rhythms. ‘Paroxysm’ adds more depth, by opening on a sound recording of a doctor working on a patient who they are trying to revive to set the scene. It has a faraway ethereal dream like state, which is darkly deliciously, especially through the lyrics and ambience created through the instruments – this is striking and memorable. ‘Man From Outer Space’ as you can imagine has an interesting strange sound, which is vibrant, crazy and infectiously catchy. The whole production and structure is clever and well thought out, making this an intelligible and exciting song to escape reality! ‘Rigamortis’ use of group vocals is effective, and adds more power and emphasis, which is used well throughout the album, but displayed particularly here. This song acts as their more mellow sound, but again as you come to expect the song takes a strange crazied turn in parts. Final and longest song, ‘Left Behind’ they inject all their experimental mad quirks into this immense ending, which is gloomy and hopeful in parts. The sound displayed in The Wayside is invigorating and genuinely exciting – they had me at the start and gained my full undivided attention to the very end, which is very refreshing for a band to do. They truly have created an individual sound, and hopefully they will get the attention they deserve to step up to the spotlight.
Tragic Earth – Self Titled (EP) Hard Rock quartet from Melbourne, Australia, hit hard with debut self-titled EP, and with a debut full length on the horizon later this year, there is no stopping them! Opening song, ‘Pins and Needles’, has a nice instrumental build up before the vocals come in, which quickly asserts the bands talent and composition skills. This is a changeable number, with largely classic demanding rock vocals that are piercing. This is a soaring and impressive introduction to Tragic Earth... On to the first single featured, ‘Feel Good Could Be Better’ which instantly hooks you with its catchy riffs and impressive opening scream from vocalist, Dima, and goes on to exhibit great attitude and swagger! ‘Obsessive Depressive’ has a moody gloomy vibe, before the vocals come in and give it a fun flair, bringing a punk inspired sound. Again, as with all songs so far, we are graced with skilful guitar work and solos from Gavin. ‘Stumbelina’ stands out, being a slow paced chilled back acoustic number. This offers something completely different to the other tracks initially anyway, before loud soaring vocals come in with hard hitting riffs. The transition between the mellow verses and the powerful chorus, is executed wonderfully, making this a diverse must hear! ‘Parasite’ features melodic riffs that will get you moving, with more of a classic 80s rock sound, it possesses a powerful surrounding chorus, as you would expect from an old rock anthem! ‘Sad Pretty Lame’ is a mixed bag; having a haunting feel, a psychedelic malfunctioning vibe and straight up hard rock! This is ‘pretty’ awesome to be honest! This is one exciting and diverse debut EP! They take you on musical discovery of different sounds and styles, and you will enjoy every moment of it! CL
Yashin - The Renegades Alt rockers from Glasgow return with their third and most successful and heavily endorsed album, ‘The Renegades’. It has gained support from fellow musicians, such as WWE superstar and frontman of Fozzy, Chris Jericho, YouMeAtSix guitarist, Max Helyer and Benji Webbe, so what’s all the fuss about… The opener, ‘Spreading The Disease’ sounds defiant and rebellious, whilst being beautiful and atmospheric, with a hard edge. The song progresses and gets heavier as it goes on, and displays a taste of what is to come… ‘The Beginning Of The End’ picks up right where the first track left off, letting of some weird angry yet fun steam! The chorus especially shines through, with clean vocals and a group effort, whilst Kevin unleashes fierce unclean outbursts. The ending has a very ambient and powerful feel to it, something that they master well throughout the album. Next up is the interestingly titled, ‘Dorothy Gale’, referring to the protagonist featured in the Oz novels, which has fitting lyrics about ‘no place like home’. This is a powerful fierce track, which is also one of the heaviest and stands out even more, with a guest appearance from Itch (vocalist of King Blues) that adds something different. ‘D.E.A.D’ is centred on the rebirth and reinvention of the band, and proves to be very honest, eye opening and powerful. It is delivered in a tight extremely catchy package, making it some of their best material to, “loose your sh*t” too as it suggests! Title track, jumps into gear immediately, and screams of a rock anthem, that will no doubt be a fan favourite, with its highly melodic chorus, energetic verses, and varied clean and brutal vocals, that effortlessly blend together, again this is another highlight and certainly lives up to the title track status! ‘Mocking Bird’ reigns in on the softer side of the band, with ambient calming instruments, with pleasant and soothing vocals from Rebecca from Anavae, who compliments the vibe perfectly. Closing the album is, ‘Circle The Sun’ which opens on a moving piano piece with stripped back delicate vocals, before the synths and instruments creep in, but without overpowering the vocals. They aid them to add to the strength and depth displayed. The context of this is very real and provoking, with lines such as, “We circle the sun, we love we hate, we live we die, we all go to waste”, and the music portrays the message in an effective way, ending on a memorable note. This album is full of fast pumped shiny hard rock anthems and well placed surprises, which should hit the spot for most! They display more aggression in parts, but equally measured with calming effects to create the right balance between the two, and in whichever mode they are in, they give it their all, as well as keeping the energy levels high! CL
Cold Summer - Fight To Survive (EP) Cold Summer are a dynamic post-hardcore quartet from Leeds, UK, who have created an interesting experimental sound, by combining elements of melodic rock with angsty hardcore and punk vibes thrown in the mix! The band are very hard working and determined, which has led to the successful release of their previous EP’s and self-titled album, which earned them the pleasure of supporting the likes of Funeral For A Friend, Polar and more! Now they are back to heat things up again with their third EP, ‘Fight To Survive’. To start, we have the atmospheric powerful force, ‘Bear Eats Wolf’, which is seriously catchy and possesses interesting rhythms, which help it stand out more so, along with diverse, strong and unique vocals. The whole affair is lively and a breath of fresh air, or more fittingly, like being slapped in the face for your own good! ‘A Time Imagination Forgot To Inspire’ again luckily, has the same inspired sound, with euphoric resonant instruments, paired with flawless varied clean vocals. Towards the end, they show another depth to their sound, taking a fast hard punk turn, keeping things unpredictable in a welcomed way. ‘Car Crash (In Progress)’ has well written lyrics that are impressively delivered, backed up with layered instruments and high energy as you come to expect. The composition and positioning of everything is impeccable, as it unfolds - this one will have quite an impact, with the balance of melodic rock and enraged moments! ‘Coins Fall (But Don’t Make It)’ is hard to find fault with, having strong engaging verses and a brilliant chorus, which is very pleasing on the ears. You are hanging on to every note and word, through appreciation, creativity and fascination! ‘Waiting’ pierces with its demanding screamed outbursts that are matched with delightful vocal tones, swirled with brilliant ambience. Unfortunately we reach the end with, ‘Something, Nothing, No-one’ where energy and flair is running high, at its peak even! The changes and transitions in mood and sound all entwine wonderfully and effortlessly, making it very coherent. In its final moments it still grips you and leaves its lasting effect, with a distant dramatic climax. This is a true pleasure to listen to, the only issue with this EP, is that it isn’t longer! Their high spirited anger driven cacophony is sublime, clever and stimulating. CL
Hollow Leg – Crown Sludge metal masters from the US make a hell of an impression with their third album, laced with southern heavy roots! First song, ‘Seaquake’ has quite an impact, with booming drums and slushy guitars, with guttural screams penetrating through, all delivered in a heavy dark groove, which is hard to resist… ‘Coils’ has a slower paced dirty rhythm, which is very melodic, and here we see some more vocal variation, with a distant vibe, whilst remaining very powerful, and it fits the instrumentation wonderfully, showing their song writing capabilities and skills.
They know how to hit hard!
A dramatic drum intro that builds up, greets us in, ‘The Serpent In The Ice’ which drives the song throughout. The vocals remain as dominating as ever, making a crushing unstoppable force, with resonant stand out dysfunctional guitar sounds.
‘Atra’ is an exotic intriguing instrumental, created by percussion instruments and didgeridoo being rather chilled, with an uncertainty looming over it… ‘Electric Veil’ is a slick sludge fest, which surely and steadily consumes you! ‘Seven Heads’ ties in with ‘Atra’ at the start, having a similar feel, keeping things consistent, before highly catchy riffs and all-encompassing vocals storm ahead, creating what could be the best song so far! And finally, we have ‘New Cult’, which I imagine by now, could refer to the new fans they have undoubtedly earned upon the completion of hearing this album in its entirety! This features some of the best gloomy instruments and menace, and brings together all the finely crafted elements of their alluring chug heavy metal, that is layered with resonant licks to stand out from the crowd! This is an easily accessible and damn right groovy must hear stoner doom metal – you will be hard pressed to find better! CL
Tantal - Expectancy Tantal from Russia formed back in 2004 and went on to release their debut album, ‘The Beginning Of The End’ in 2008, and finally six years later resurfaced to unleash their follow up album, ‘Expectancy’ in 2014, opening a different sound and creativity with it. They have a dark complex sound, which touches on a range of metal genres, from modern metal to progressive and death. Opening, ‘Through The Years’ is fast and furious, in an almost alarming way, with melodic and seriously impressive guitar work, inspired by guitar virtuosos, such as John Petrucci (Dream Theater) and Malmsteen. This is paired with brilliant vocal performances both fierce and clean, especially from front woman, Sofia. They quickly assert that they mean serious business by putting everything into this first song – making a long lasting impression that is a thrilling masterpiece! The first part of the title track, ‘Expectancy Pt. 1 (Desert In My Soul)’ keeps the steam running high, exhibiting more expressive guitar work, complimented by strong powerful contrasting vocals. Each moment is a joy to listen to, with cleverly crafted structures and mastery. We are treated to a sorrowful and beautiful instrumental, with ‘In Times Of Solitude’, which is a wonderful song to let your troubles melt away to. ‘Pain That We All Must Go Through’ is slower paced and particularly highlights Sofia’s powerful soothing voice, which is tangled with unclean vocals, hard hitting riffs and impressive shredding. This is their signature style, that you come to crave. Up next we have a continuation of the strong opening, with ‘Expectancy Pt.2 (Despair)’ which hooks you with a tuneful resonant guitar lick that rings out like a siren, which is very effective. The guitars continue to strike with blistering speed and bliss, matching the vocals. Luckily one isn’t compensating for the other, as the whole package works as a perfect puzzle. Another must hear, is the skilful impressive acoustic number, ‘In The End Pt.2 (Epitaph)’ which demonstrates that the band can handle stripped back subtlety just as well as full on power metal. Sofia gets to show off her full vocal capabilities, with some softer lower pitched tones, dancing around upbeat gleeful guitars. To close this musical assault, is ‘V Moih Glazah (In My Eyes)’ which charges back in full loud striking force, possessing ambient effects and tones, that later as the song progresses have conflicting effects, having a dark force running through it, to balance the tranquil elegant moments. This is an exhilarant release, which is dynamic, beautiful and layered, ranging from despair to hopefulness. Individually they all stand out, and as a unit they are very talented and unstoppable! Each song is executed to an extremely high standard and won’t leave you disappointed. There is so much going on, but in a structured and intelligible format. The long wait and hard work that they put in, thankfully pays off big time! CL
Killswitch Engage – Incarnate Three years after their, ‘Disarm The Descent’ album, Killswitch Engage are back with their seventh album, ‘Incarnate’. The number seven is meant to be lucky... Dark sinister sounds open with, ‘Alone I Stand’ and clean striking vocals hit just as hard as Jesse’s aggressive side. This is metalcore mastery that ticks all the boxes, and sounds all powerful through to the end! Next up is second single, ‘Hate By Design’, which has a brilliant melodic chorus, with mental rages surrounding it, through the verses. This is a must hear, with relentless riffage and a slick solo that sounds epic. You will quickly have this one invading your mind over and over again! Their timing and structure is impeccable, as you come to expect throughout the rest of the album. Now the latest single, ‘Cut Me Loose’ has a slower pace to start with, with a heavy backdrop and well timed beats. Again this is intelligible composition and has a dark captivating atmosphere, but they still manage to highlight their more melodic contained side. For continuity we have another single, ‘Strength Of Mind’, which storms in with bouncy fast riffs. This is a brilliant first single, as it incorporates all the best elements of the album and sits well amongst their most popular offerings! This is a particularly cathartic track, which is provoking and inspiring, making it powerful in many ways, musically and lyrically, in fact this makes the perfect song for body and soul – the mind will like the message and you get a good work out moshing along to it!! ‘Just Let Go’ again continues the positive empowering message, with honesty running through its foundations. The transition between clean and fierce seems effortless to them as always, with every riff and rhythm matching in perfect harmony, something they always pull out of the bag! ‘Embrace The Journey..Upraised’ clangs to life with an almost heavy sludge intro, which speeds into action quickly, making this the fastest brutal song featured so far! We are led into a false sense of comfort momentarily before all hell breaks loose in ‘Quiet Distress’, where the lyrics are delivered well to portray the context and meaning. ‘Until The Day’ is full of rich harmony and melody and stands out for this! It may be short, but it’s to the point and full of surprises! ‘It Falls On Me’ sounds like a begrudging plea, which tugs at your heartstrings, especially with the ambient instrumentation and use of contrasting vocals. ‘The Great Deceit’ is super charged and full of negativity, making it a brutal contender for one of the best songs to blast out. ‘We Carry On’ has a faraway feel, driven by a motivational courage that keeps the album coherent and fluent. ‘Ascension’ picks up where we left off, and has well thought out time signatures and break downs to convey the act of rising to a higher level! The last three offerings are the most brutal, especially ‘Triumph Through Tragedy’ and closing song, ‘Loyalty’ where they let all their demons lose to transcend to a higher purpose! Each song is crafted wonderfully, showing us once again why they are so highly regarded in the metalcore scene, after all this time, they are still going stronger than ever with a fresh creativity that sits well amongst previous releases, whilst also raising the bar. Although we are early into 2016, this has the sound of an album of the year, with the perfectly chiselled and crafted metalcore, that grabs you and violently shakes you to fully engage and enlighten you! CL
Rise – Resilience Rise are a French rock band with a difference, perhaps living up to their romantic roots associated with their country, they describe their sound as romantic rock with a classical feel, but don’t be fooled into thinking you’re in for a smooth relaxing journey. As things take a harsh turn… Opening title track, ‘Resilience’ is eerie and ethereal, making for an interesting atmospheric instrumental start… ‘About Oceans’ crashes into action with a dramatic edge with creepy synths and atmosphere, combined with fierce and beautiful yet sinister vocals. It has a horror cinematic vibe to it, which they continue throughout. ‘About Childhood’ again manages to sound ultra-sinister, yet sweet in the same sweep, messing with your senses. It is like an alarming lullaby that has gone horribly wrong. ‘About Friends’ strikes hard with dishevelled guitars and pounding drums, before the fierce vocals pierce through, but it also features some softer calmer moments, which although contrasting work in wonderful harmony. Okay so I think by now you may have noticed all the songs bar the opener, have ‘About’ in the title, so next we have, ‘About Duality’ which opens on atmospheric beautiful piano, which is quickly accompanied by brutal vocals, and seeps between tranquillity and uneasiness, evoking a dream like state. We are treated to a guest appearance, from Dutch guitarist/producer Jochem Jacobs, known largely for his work with metalcore band Textures, in what is the longest and most relentless song of the album. To add to the depth and context, war sounds are featured, not that they need any extra help creating the desired effect. ‘About Roots’ is elegant blissful progressive metal at its best, although this may be an unusual pairing of words for this genre, this is ingenious and very well composed and structured. Penultimate song, ‘About Regrets’ immediately possesses an all-encompassing huge sound, with hard intricate guitars, soaring screams and to balance it out, we have a serene backdrop of calm vocals and synths, moulded together, making for an enthralling and captivating sound. The final dramatic mastery, is ‘About Memories’ which is slower paced, and thought provoking, with a dark charming tone for the most part, created especially through the piano and deep raspy vocals, until we reach the second half, where the darkness fully consumes and resonates out. To add an extra layer of texture, some ominous yet delightful recordings close this deliciously dark affair. This debut is magnificence, their romantic prog metal sound is alluring and dreamy, yet dark and dangerous, especially with charming vocals entwined with fierce outbursts, all wrapped together in a intelligible atmospheric package, creating an offering that can only be described as epic, in both creativity and composition. CL
Brian Fallon – Painkillers Brian Fallon is an American singer, songwriter and guitarist. He is best known as the lead vocalist, guitarist and songwriter of the rock band The Gaslight Anthem. This is his first debut album as a solo artist, where he is embarking on his own journey to divulge his deep expressive alt rock. The album opens with lead single, ‘A Wonderful Life’ which has a soulful passionate sound and vocals to match, exhibiting a warm and fuzzy upbeat rock track that everyone can enjoy! Title track and latest single, is a very Americana offering, which is emotive and melodic, making it a perfect summary of what this record is all about. ‘Smoke’ is a very catchy stripped back acoustic number with clapping beats driving the song, and twangy guitars and powerful vocals, which you come to crave. ‘Rosemary’ injects some more high fun energy, like the opening song, being the most positive sounding, with great swagger and tone, making this a must hear easy listen, with some slick guitar work immersed in effects, to add more finesse. ‘Mojo Hand’ is the biggest surprise on the album, having the most different and distinct sound, which is extremely cheery and laid back, but with a country rock ‘n’ roll vibe running through it. Brian pulls this off extremely well and comfortably. So maybe there will be more of this in the future?!... Closing song, ‘Open All Night’ is a downbeat acoustic number, with a merry flair blended in, making a nice compromise to end, mixing the happier and sorrowful sound that is displayed throughout the album. Like the album title, these collection of songs portray moments of pain and woe, with blissful upbeat songs to sooth you, and take your troubles away, even if it doesn’t last for long, at the time you are bloody grateful and relieved. This is enjoyable, however at times the songs can sound similar. Overall for Brian’s first debut movement, this is a big step in the right direction and the path ahead is looking strong. CL
Natural Stranger – Sometimes Always Leads To Never Natural Stanger from New York, could be said to be an alt indie rock band. Although to be honest, I’m not sure you can put a label on them, and even they admit they have trouble defining their sound. They certainly have diverse influences and tastes and encourage open ears for their debut album. To open is, ‘The Trigger (On and On)’ which in its initial opening slightly alarms you, before delicate guitars greet us, and evokes a chilled out jazz vibe for the first half of the song. With impressive crooning vocals, you are thrown into a setting of a slick dance band in the nicest sense, seeping with professionalism and charm with an indie twist that is just good fun. ‘Shooting Star’ has a fast pop rock rhythm driving it, which is catchy and the tones make it a delightful shiny number, layered with smooth varied vocals that are in perfect synch with the instruments. ‘Romance’ has a more rock alt edge to it, with hard hitting riffs and dark negative lyrics, even though on first glance you may think this will be the most fuzzy warm track going, it’s definitely not the case! And just shows they are full of surprises and intrigue and like to keep us guessing! This is my favourite, with an anthemic large dominating sound that will linger for some time.
‘Machine Gun Serenade’ has the balance of light and serious down to a tee, making the perfect track to showcase the band, so make this a must hear! ‘Specter’ has a super cool sound, oozing class and contains memorable bouncy riffs and charming deep vocals. It has even more swagger, especially with the use of trumpets, again having a high energy jazz burst. Single and closing song, ‘Laniakea’ is a strong one to go out on, with striking riffs, impressive vocals and the most melodic chorus yet. This is a tantalising debut, we are spoilt with musical exploration and creative flair. They have created a fun unique sound, which is hard to pinpoint, but this adds to the enjoyment and means there is something for everyone to enjoy! CL
Pipedream – Secret Beach Cardiff’s Pipedream return with their very first full length album ‘Secret Beach’, the band’s elegant stylish sound is immediately noticeable on the opening track ‘Brain Cell’ with a very crisp guitar riff creating an interesting combination with the fatigued vocal style, it reminds me a lot of the opening to Title Fight’s most recent album ‘Hyperview’. ‘Amia’ is dominated by an intriguing and clever guitar riff which at times makes you feel like you’re on a beach in Hawaii, there are parts where the vocals gets a little overpowered by the joyous instrumentation. ‘Through the Blinds’ is a much more polished track with the catchy lyrics and equally appealing riff. ‘Pipedream’ exerts a little more power than previous tracks with a heavier riff which is followed by an immediate American Football esque contrast creating a pleasant track of two halves. ‘April Showers’ is one of the more uplifting tracks on the record; the lyrics are especially enjoyable almost creating an image of spring in your mind, a sweetly executed number. I got ten seconds into ‘Run’ before I thought wow, what a nifty little opening – the title is reflected in the style of the guitars and drum beat with a quick sequence followed by a deep bass line which could have burst into a Bouncing Souls or Jawbreaker song, probably the best track on the record. ‘Secret Beach’ definitely has a seaside feeling to it instrumentally, the drained vocal style is an excellent complement to create an atmospheric number. ‘In The Ridge of Ash Trees’ is a short obscure interlude showing off the band’s experimental influences with the addition of bongos! The penultimate track ‘Imbalance’ is your typical 90s emo post punk influenced track with the Mike Kinsella style vocals clashing with The Smiths esque guitar riff which is an unusual yet curious combination. The album concludes with ‘The Black Lodge’ - a laze fest with its clean, relaxed instrumentation which has been recorded and mixed very well throughout this record with non-disruptive vocals which act as a cooling companion to the sharp guitar riffs. JP
The Word Alive – Dark Matter Experimental hardcore quintet from Phoenix, Arizona, ‘dream’ big on fourth album and strive to reach new heights. ‘Dreamer’ is a very appropriate opener, with the whole atmosphere and effects taking you into an ethereal state. The use of backing vocals and variations, is brilliant, quickly striking with their signature sound. Lead single, ‘Trapped’ has a dark mood which will take a firm grip on you – it’s powerful with melodic substantial riffs, striking screams and vocals, making a hard hitting track. ‘Sellout’ surges to life, with fast rhythmic vocals and an anthemic chorus, this is sure to get your head banging. This is the fastest song, as well as having the most impressive aggressive vocals so far, but swirled in with softer clean variations, making this a very well rounded, getting best of both worlds! Latest single ‘Made This Way’ has an immense sound, with technical guitars and electronics working in harmony. ‘Piece On Me’ sees the only guest appearance, featuring Alicia Solombrino of alt rock act, Beautiful Bodies. This makes for a great collaboration, entwined with effects, her tone sits perfectly with the song. Although lyrically this isn’t the most cheerful, it has a hopeful sound that is charged and strong throughout. ‘Grunge’ is a bit of a curveball, being a heavy grunge inspired track as you may have guessed, which can be heard especially in the sounds used and the guitar arrangements, but this is a very much modernised fresh take, so definitely worth listening too. Title track, has an all surrounding sound, which is fitting and highly atmospheric. This is undoubtedly the bands more voluminous and dynamic release to date, taking a more sophisticated approach lyrically and musically, rather than full on in your face aggression. Not that this is a bad thing, the composition and subtlety and flow between the fierce and calmer moments, is well executed and ambient, as well as their most technical. The album has a ‘dark’ sonic atmosphere at its core, but some may feel it falls short on the heavier threshold. I think ‘Dark Matter’ is the essential sound of what the band represents and what they were trying to achieve. CL
Hatebreed - The Concrete Confessional 'A.D' opens the album in a typically ferocious fashion, the break neck speed cranks up the aggression straight away and you know Hatebreed have got a banger on their hands. Taking to task the state of America today, there is nothing being held back as they spit back in the face of the American dream in 2016 and there isn't even a chance to take stock as 'Looking Down the Barrel of Today' continues their assault on today's society. The more melodic is also explored with 'In the Walls', a song that has a more straight up metal vibe in sections but still keeps up the fire of their hardcore roots as does 'From Grace We've Fallen' but the venom is never far from the fore as they continue to crush through the short but always firmly in your face songs. The ominous overtones of the bass intro to 'Something's Off' begins probably the most complete song on the album, broken into numerous time changes and chanted vocals among the carnage it combines everything this album is about.
Adding new elements in but always keeping what they are best known for, Jamey Jasta gives an immense vocal performance. Always keeping the snarls and guttural roars he is known for but also dropping subtle nuances in that makes it a very complete showing Energy and aggression has always been an integral part of Hatebreed and they are channelling it better than they have ever done on ‘The Concrete Confessional’. Seven albums in and they may well have the finest work of their career. An album like a haymaker to the face, complete with knuckle duster. AN
Black Stone Cherry – Kentucky Hard rockers from Kentucky, release fifth release, named after their home state, which was also created in the same studio as their critical debut album eight years ago. This is the band’s heaviest and most aggressive album to date, but with the typical Southern groove and charm you expect! Opener, ‘The Way Of The Future’ dives into a heavy slab of a riff to open and continues throughout, possessing a great groovy sludge rock number, and asserting their heavier side immediately... ‘In Our Dreams’ fools you briefly, into thinking it will be a traditional ballad, but the killer riffs still pack a punch, but not as much as the ballad rock huge chorus! ‘Shakin’ My Cage’ rattle us hard with the big chunky riffs and ambience, topped with impressive lyrics and super melodies and rhythms that are sure to get everyone moving! ‘Soul Machine’ offers something different, they let go and just have a tonne of funky groovy fun, and of course with a choir effect to add extra spice and ‘soul’! The slick guitar solo elevates it further, with an interesting instrumental backdrop. This one will get the crowds going wild! To soften things and slow down we have, ‘Long Ride’ which has the feel of a stadium rock ballad if I ever did hear one! Be ready with those lighters! ‘War’ has the wow and shock factor, packing an extra dose of feel good cheesy rock! With the lyrics of, “War, huh, good God, y’all, what is it good for?” it certainly gets your attention and leaves you slightly bemused. Again this will be a gem to hear live. ‘Hangman’ opens on a heavy stomping riff, with emotive drawn out and varied vocals, this has a massive presence and an almost classic rock or grunge vibe running through it. ‘Cheaper To Drink Alone’ is a broody hard rock number to moan about lives woes.
‘Rescue Me’ has crushing tones and effects, and a nice transition of a stadium anthem and dark atmosphere. ‘Darkest Secret’ has an eerie intro before the big rock riffs crash in with strange effects. Later on a heavy breakdown and screeching solo highlight this is a must hear and manic aggressive screams create extra surprises. ‘Born To Die’ is infectiously catchy and demanding with a thought provoking message, delivered in an effective and memorable manner with eclectic riffs and ambience. Final song, ‘The Rambler’ is an emotive, passionate acoustic offering with a country rock southern charm, this is delightful and a pure Black Stone Cherry way to end in a beautiful powerful style. This is a stunning, cracking album that surges on with heavy memorable anthems and well placed unpredictable and well needed softer elements, in what is most definitely their darkest and dynamic release yet, all delivered in a demanding and irresistible manner. CL
Holy Pinto – Congratulations This Indie punk/pop duo from Canterbury, UK possess a highly desirable and engrossing sound for their debut album, ‘Congratulations’ which is to be released via Soft Speak Records. To open we have the short but sweet ‘Matches’, which has a nice slow guitar intro and vocals and well written lyrics telling of a love story, it progresses as trumpets and power kick in towards the end of this quick affair! Next up is new single, ‘Hospital Room’ which has bouncy riffs and clever lyrics that are deep and strange, with honest words and comparisons, all wrapped around in lots of fuzziness! Another single ‘Mexico’ has some great backing vocals and indie anthem moments, being uplifting and very catchy, a great one to get you ready for the hot weather! ‘Tooth’ highlights their most gleeful sounds, despite the somewhat bleak lyrics, this has some of the most memorable melodic rhythms and dynamic drumming. ‘Phantom Limb’ has a darker conflicting side, and stands out for this, showing some of their most emotive and truthful lyrics. Title track, ‘Congratulations’ has a more mature downbeat context, with lower toned vocals to fit the still playful melodic rhythms of the instruments. To close is the longest offering, ‘Flowers (with Hospital Room pt.2)’ which cleverly relates back to, ‘Hospital Room’ after an intriguing gap it has the same kind of feel throughout, but is delivered in a touching stripped back delicate acoustic. This is glossy, creative and intelligible bizarre indie rock, with an up and down sound, going from happy to sad in a flash. It has a strong well focused attention to lyrics, which help portray their story, and make them stand out further. Their unique sound will get them some well needed attention, which they clearly deserve. CL
Landscapes – Modern Earth Hardcore rockers from Somerset, UK unleash their anticipated follow up to 2013’s ‘Life Gone Wrong’ by diving into the abyss with ‘Modern Earth’. ‘Mouths Of Decadence’ is atmospheric and bleak, setting the scene, with this instrumental prologue… ‘Observer’ continues the mood and feel of the opener, but packs even more heft, with piercing passionate aggressive vocals, effective structured and progressive gaps, which gradually sounds more hopeful, exhibiting brutality and fragility. ‘Death After Life’ features more emotive fierce vocals and all-encompassing instruments. ‘Remorser’ is an ambient reflective offering, possessing a truly powerful sound, with a huge presence and slow deep vocals to fit the sombre feel. It naturally flairs up as it closes, which is highly effective, and is something they excel at. First single, ‘Neighbourhood’ perfectly highlights all their best elements, with the right ratio of calm and fierce, top melodies, and of course resonant guitars and backdrops. ‘Escapist’ has an eerie and ethereal distant feel, in what is the slowest paced and diminished sounding. ‘Aurora’ acts as an interlude, and throws something different in the mix with a dark spoken poetic element, this is short lived and ‘Radiance’ picks up the pace and mood with aggressive screams, and yet more hopeful instrumentation. The end we have, ‘Heaven Ascended’ which is laden with angry emotions and sounds like a drawn out plea, but with graceful guitars and instruments, embracing all that they have embarked upon throughout. This is a raw and intelligible release, which is very fluent and consistent. It combines aggression and serenity, misery and hope, with glimmers shining through the darkness, created by the powerful embracing presence of the instruments and vocal adaptions. There are a lot of melodic hardcore bands on the scene, but Landscapes deserve your attention! CL
Neck Deep @ The Great Hall, Cardiff - Feb 5th Welsh pop punk giants Neck Deep were headlining in their native capital city of Cardiff at the Great Hall to an absolutely packed out room of excited fans. First though the supporting bands took to the stage; Ohio’s Light Years took to the stage to a half filled room with their no nonsense old school pop punk sound, playing songs from both of their full length albums from the past three years; the band may not be as popular due to their small record label but they did give a very solid and professional performance, the odd joke in-between songs kept the crowd entertained and the band seemed to have a lot of fun and they did a great job. Next up were Southampton’s Creeper who initially looked like a Marilyn Manson tribute act when arriving on the stage, what followed was simply superb – the band had incredible energy and there were several people in the crowd singing along to their catchy punk anthems – ‘Lie Awake’ was particularly enjoyable with the tireless vocalist Will Gould willing the crowd on to participate, it was definitely an eye opening set and refreshing to see such a talented UK band perform so well supporting two big US pop punk bands. Next up were State Champs who have recently established themselves as a big player in the US and the pop punk scene with their extremely catchy and heart on the sleeve tracks tackling issues of adulthood and relationships, the band played an interesting blend of songs from their highly successful album ‘The Finer Things’ and their most recent sophomore album ‘Around The World and Back’, the band always deliver on a live stage with vocalist Derek DiScanio’s unlimited energy on his stage giving a superb vocal performance and demanding numerous stage dives and mosh pits before the tracks kick in, after the crowd was completely sapped with energy by the last track they were soon bouncing into life again once ‘Elevated’ kicked in sending the crowd into an arena of chaos, the icing on the cake was the band announcing their return to the UK sometime later in the year. The first hiccup of the night was waiting for the headline act to take to the stage, it must have been around half hour later before the lights deemed to a barrage of screams and excitement amongst the packed Great Hall. The stage was set up superbly with giant Neck Deep graphic props creating a cool visual stage, the next hour was complete mayhem with seismic shifts amongst the crowd during every song, vocalist Ben Barlow did well to grab a drink of water with the sheer pace each track was rolling by, luckily there was time for an acoustic song which was performed very well to a sea of lights in the crowd and a collective response from the vocally impressive Cardiff crowd. It was a very entertaining set from an energetic and uplifting band, ‘Serpents’ was a particular highlight, the band performed a set of sixteen songs (three in the encore) with a mix of old and new from both studio albums, I was shocked at the response this seemingly small band from Wrexham (a few years back) received and you have to respect how quickly and how far they have grown not forgetting their touring adventures worldwide which has created incredible success for this band, they may be questionable on record to some pop punk fans but they certainly provided a decent and memorable performance for their fans on this particular night. JP
Trivium @ Engine Shed, Lincoln - March 26th Queues are what we British people love, organised and filled with people moaning about how long it’s actually going to take to get to the front, of course with Trivium in town there’s going to be a monstrous queue. Scattered Trivium shirts lather the queue and with tightened security measures on an easter weekend it takes absolutely ages to get in. With word of over 900 tickets sold a month before the gig, Lincolns Engine Shed hasn’t been this packed in a while. First up are As Lions, former Rise to Remain vocalist Austin Dickinson’s new band. Due to the tight security we only managed to catch the last few songs, powering through their set well, some sound does fall flat but all in all it looks like Austin has taken more influence from his father this time round.
Heart of a Coward were next up, with an unbelievably sinister entrance, tracks ‘Hollow’ and ‘Shade’ open the room up, with arms flailing and heads banging, the Milton Keynes boys give Lincoln a good run for their money. A near flawless performance, Heart of a Coward are just as good live as they are on record and judging by the crowds reaction, wherever these guys go the venue is going to be full.
With the stage decorated with their trademark ‘Oni’ masks, the cover art of their latest record ‘Silence in the Snow’, Trivium casually strut center stage to a flood of noise. Starting off with the title track, Matt Heafy and co equally as confident on their new material, ‘Silence in the Snow’ sounds much meatier live than it does on record. Performances of old material ‘Dying in Your Arms’ and ‘Like Light to the Flies’ show the crowd that these guys are not done with ‘Ascendancy’ material and still love playing it. Keen to get the crowd involved choruses of ‘Like Light to the Flies’ are down to the crowd to fulfill. Playing to the crowd and keeping all fans in check, Trivium blast through a set filled with at least one track from each album, ‘Shogun’s’ ‘Down from the Sky’ proves to be a fun one with the pit goers and equally as brilliant is ‘Ember to Inferno’s’ ‘Rain’ inciting a stadium-like reaction. Perhaps interestingly of all is how much fun new drummer, Paul Wandtke is having, the sticksman for hit musical ‘Rock of Ages’, shows his metal and blitz’s a phenomenal drum solo at the peak of the night. ‘In Waves’ sets the room on fire and with that ends Trivium’s set. The reaction alone and the scope of the band’s catalogue proves why this band are such a hit with all metal fans alike. If Trivium are coming to your town, do not hesitate and pick up a ticket. GD
Enter Shkiari @ Motorpoint Arena, Nottingham - Feb 20th It’s been hard to put into words how it felt to see Enter Shikari on the big stage at Nottingham’s Motorpoint arena. Sure I’d seen them main stage at Reading a few times but to see this many people supporting the St Albans quartet was overwhelming and I think the same could be said for the band themselves. But we’ll start at the beginning of the night; As the sound of ‘Let’s Hang the Landlord’ packs the arena and draws in all the fans from the crowd it’s clear that recently reformed The King Blues are having the time of their lives. Showing the same level of excitement and enthusiasm as the crowd. The classics of ‘My Boulder’ and ‘I Got Love’ get a huge response. A small chunk of the crowd begin to chant ‘whose streets? Our streets’ just before ‘The Streets Are Ours’ is played, something that looked like it impressed frontman Itch. The newest track ‘Off With Their Heads’ of which the lead man explained had been taken off facebook due to its offensive language got a massive response, well it is about killing the Prime Minister which a lot of people want to do at the moment. Culminating in Itch hopping on a security guard’s shoulders and shaking hands in the crowd. Ending on ‘Save The World Get The Girl’ the Ska Punk heroes leave the stage after proving they are back and more pissed off than ever. Up next, all the way from the United States is the pop punk outfit The Wonder Years, although a decent show was put on it just felt as if this wasn’t the best choice to support the St Albans foursome. Kicking off with ‘Brothers &’ and ‘Cardinals’ this begins as a slow burn but eventually develops into a classic pop punk anthem bringing in a much larger section of the crowd to belt back every word. The Philadelphia group bring out all their hits like ‘There, There’ and ‘Passing Through A Screen Door’ and end with ‘Came Out Swinging’. While they did put on a good show it just felt as if their predecessor had beat them hands down...’whose streets’?!
‘Enter Shikari aren’t an arena band’ the little voice in the back of my head was saying, thankfully I was proven wrong, this was going to be special.
The crowd begin to chant the familar tune of ‘and still we will be here, standing like statues’. Clearly having taken note of this in the past the band run out and quickly bang out the end part of their self titled song belting the words back to the audience before slipping straight into ‘Solidarity’. The crowd below becomes like water. ‘If we’re starting anywhere, it might as well be at the begining’ Rou says to the audience as the infectious ‘Sorry You’re Not A Winner’ is played and an arena full of thousands clap in unison. Next up the awesome ‘The One True Colour’ from latest album ‘The Mindsweep’ of which Rou says “as soon as they started writing it they wanted it to be played live, but this was only the third time”. It was polished and well done, combined with the video in the background displaying nature in all its wonder, it was a show stopper. This set was about what Enter Shikari can do in an arena with no restrictions, they showcased a lot of their back catalogue and prove that they’ve always had the calibre to be where they are today. Including splicing songs into others. The final part of ‘The Last Garrison’ turned into the catchy radio friendly ‘No Sleep Tonight’ which the audience quickly picked up on, and the insanely crazy ‘Slipshod’, (including the vase breaking over Rou’s head) turned into the end of ‘The Jester’ which got the audience dancing like maniacs. As the arena went quiet it was a question as to what was going on, until the lead singer appeared in the centre of the audience with a piano and gave a beautiful rendition of ‘Dear Future Historians’ including Rou standing on the piano and playing the guitar and a trumpet, true rock and roll. After this he quickly named sides A and D for his makeshift choir and the audience gave themselves a beautiful version of ‘Juggernauts’, a moment that will no doubt go down in Enter Shikari’s personal history...until the piano cut out. “We think we’re rockstars with our wireless piano” joked Rou. As a forfeit of the piano breaking he decided to grab a random audience member and crowd surf back to the stage. A true showman. The show quickly regained momentum as the whole band shot into ‘Arguing with Thermometers’ with a remix intro, followed by ‘Gandhi Mate, Gandhi’. This featured a snipet of the religious figure coming on screen like a Monty Python cut out speaking like a Canadian from South Park. The holy man explained that the band were as bad as Robbie Williams...the St Albans boys asked “what’s wrong with Robbie” before cutting into the chorus for ‘Angels’...something I personally never thought I’d see. The last song before the encore was the ever popular ‘Mothership’ which has never lost momentum since their early days as a band. Newest single ‘Redshift’ took the honour of being the encore, a slow burner with a huge payoff at the end, to say it was only released recently it went down extremely well and the whole crowd were loving every second. The set ended with the politically inspired ‘Anaesthetist’ followed by ‘The Appeal and the Mindsweep Part 2’ which even on CD sounds like an excuse to go crazy and lose all inhibitions, and this is exactly what Enter Shikari did. I was skeptical about Enter Shikari playing an arena, I’d seen them play main stages at festivals before and seen them in tiny venues but never believed they’d transfer well. Thankfully I was wrong, the St Albans lads prove that they are ready for the big time. RO
If you've been reading our talent feature interviews, then you'll notice that now and then we like to talk to acts that are appearing at comic cons across the UK. So, when we heard that Walker Stalker was coming to London with pretty much all of the main cast of The Walking Dead, then how could we resist the opportunity to head down to the event, and cover it. With events like this you'll find that a lot of the staff are volunteers, as this is literally only for the weekend. This can be a good thing as they actually want to be there, and support The Walking Dead show and its cast, however, it can at times be a bad thing, as they might not of been briefed on everything that's going on at the event, or be able to answer every question that you might have. When there's thousands of people in a building constantly walking around (especially for something like this) becoming tired, or waiting in queues for a while to meet guests, then it's no surprise that people can become frustrated with this, however, I found that the staff at Walker Stalker Con were all very helpful, and helped to maintain a happy atmosphere through the weekend with an organized approach. We spent a lot of times at talks over the weekend, where cast members from the show come up and get interviewed by the people that help put Walker Stalker together, whilst having a microphone in the middle of the crowd so that audience members can line up and ask questions when the interview comes to taking questions from them. This works really well, as you end up getting a really in-depth interview that covers a lot of topics, and viewers end up going away with a good experience from the talk process. So let's take a moment to discuss some of the talks we really enjoyed from the weekend! One of the first ones we got to check out was from Charlie Adlard (illustrator of The Walking Dead comics) who gave an extremely interesting interview on what it has been like to work on the comics alongside Robert Kirkman so far. It was fun to hear what characters he thought were portrayed well in The Walking Dead TV show, as well as the ones that he wasn't massively fussed about (the Governor being the main character that he mentions), overall, a well presented talk. We got to see Michael Cudlitz, Christian Serratos, Josh McDermitt, Alanna Masterson, who told us about their time on the show, and from watching these guys talk it was clear to see that they have a blast working together. Although Josh McDermitt confirmed that he was jet lagged, the chemistry between them all was still at a high, and from this they gave a lot of great stories from the set, whilst answering intriguing questions from the audience. On the second day we got to witness Andrew Lincoln & Norman Reedus do a talk. All the money from their talk was donated to charity, which is of course great to see. The hall was absolutely packed out, and there wasn't a spare chair in sight. In a strange way, these guys are like rock stars (Norman even wore sunglasses to add to that idea). When they took to the stage they got an overwhelming response, and from that moment alone, you could see how well this event had gone down with fans, as well as just how far The Walking Dead has come since it started in 2010. Similar to the rest of the talks, we got to hear interesting stories from their time on the show, as well as one fan who pretty much knew where Andrew Lincoln lived! Stalker alert.
Walker Stalker did something interesting at their con, they brought in some guests from another well known TV show called Breaking Bad. Of course, no one was going to complain about this, as this is an incredible show that we are sure a lot of fans of The Walking Dead also love. We got to see Giancarlo Esposito & RJ Mitte tell us some tales from working on this now iconic show, as well as what it was like to play those great characters. In a way, having just a couple of guests from another show made the event a bit more dynamic, and it was slotted nicely within all of The Walking Dead talks that had been running throughout the weekend. The last talk we got to see was from Alexandra Breckenridge & Ross Marquand. They provided a lot of laughter for the audience, and the impression of Jesse Pinkman being in The Walking Dead by Ross Marquand had us in tears, brilliant! If you haven't been to something like this before then we need to warn you that you can't just turn up and meet the guests for free. They'll be behind a desk with an assistant or security guard (both, depending on how big the guest is!), and you''ll need to pay for a selfie photo or signature on something that you want signed. There are also exclusive photo ops where you book a time to meet the guest, and get a professional photo done with them. It's a strange world right, you have to pay to meet another human being? However, if you want to meet someone of The Walking Dead, then attending Walker Stalker Con or randomly bumping into them in the street are the best chances you are going to get. The prices for Walker Stalker Con were reasonable to an extent, unless you wanted to meet everyone from The Walking Dead, as you'd be looking at hundreds of pounds! So when it comes to this, we can only review this part of the event by saying you can pretty much do whatever you want, depending on how much cash you are happy to part ways with. When it came to the queue times to meet a cast member, the time for waiting obviously became longer based on how well known the guest was. We've heard that some people spent the whole day just trying to meet one or two guests, so this may be something Walker Stalker Con might want to look at. However, if you were to spend two days there, then you could probably meet a nice amount of guests, and leave the event pretty satisfied. When it came to actually meeting the guests, they were great. We managed to chat with Michael Cudlitz & Giancarlo Esposito who were both a pleasure to talk to, and stayed in high spirits throughout the weekend. Our least favourite part of the weekend was the Zombie Apocalypse Experience, where you are equipped with tactical laser M4â€™s to go around and shoot people dressed as zombies. Sadly the atmosphere for this just wasn't great as it was just metal fences put up in the hall with no roof to it. So we are not sure how anyone could enjoy that, or really even be scared of it. Things like this do give a nice balance to the event, however, hopefully they can step it up a bit next time! The stalls at comic con conventions are always absolutely ace, when most people in the UK think of alternative places to buy comic books from they think of Forbidden Planet, so imagine lots of little tables with that same kind of alternative style selling their own alternative products. Artists are also there selling paintings/prints that they have worked on exclusively for the event, and all in all it's just great to walk around and see how many alternative talented people are out there. We had a fantastic time at the Walker Stalker Convention. The organisational level of the people that put it on was very good, and the only thing they need to work on is maybe the queue time for some of the bigger guests. However, we left the event feeling fully satisfied with the guests, talks, stalls, we got to witness throughout the weekend, and we are looking forward to attending again next year (which has already been confirmed for next March!). AD
You can find out more information about this event right here: Walkerstalkercon.com Facebook.com/WalkerStalkerConvention
As I write this review I can see hoards of people slating ‘Batman VS Superman’ (BvS) on all forms of social media and while Zak Snyder’s latest outing falls short in some places, it does definitely not deserve the negativity. The story comes along short and sharp and stretches out well until the climatic titular battle that we all know is coming at the end of the movie. So how do the two biggest heroes in the (DC) Universe end up going to logger heads? It’s simple really. During the enormous fight at the end of ‘Man of Steel’ running around among the debris is non other than Bruce Wayne and unknown to Superman he destroys a Wayne enterprises building killing a lot of his employees. Bruce hates Superman. Ben Affleck’s first on screen outing as Batman and the billionaire tycoon is in one word spectacular, the Dark Knight is bitter and resented and is having trouble with his chequered past having been a crime fighter for twenty years in Gotham. So angry is he that he has begun to brand criminals with the bat symbol, something that any other onscreen Batman would not have done which is a nice touch to show that this caped crusader has lost all sense of empathy. Clark Kent however finds the branding of criminals distressing. Because apparently branding people is much worse than killing them with a building. Clark hates Batman. The stage is set for them both to go to war but this doesn’t even seem to pass until Lex Luthor works his magic on the two. I won’t give anything away to say what Luthor does but it’s devious and fiendish. Jessie Eisenburg as the orphan business heir is on another level. From the offset you can see there’s something not quite right about him. We’re introduced to him playing basketball at his enterprise and quickly his carefree side leaves when the discussion of his future nemesis comes into the conversation. There’s almost elements of Alex from ‘A Clockwork Orange’ combined with the scientific wonder that you’d find in an over enthusiastic school teacher in his performance. Though most of his psychotic tendencies fester you can see there’s more to this quirky little rich kid than meets the eye.
The supporting cast of ‘BvS’ compliment the film wonderfully. Jeremy Irons a fed up and skeptical Alfred provides tiny moments of humour that’s needed to hit back against the Batman he has grown to hate but the Bruce he’s always sworn to protect. Amy Adams returns to play Lois Lane again and although it was nice to have her as a big feature a lot of the time she felt like more of a hinderance. The introduction of Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman felt natural and helped push the film along nicely, she however doesn’t make an appearance until there is a common enemy which brings the three together for the Justice Trio. At first I believed the dream sequences in ‘BvS’ to be a downfall but after looking further into them I can see they were Easter Eggs to the underlying enemy that will eventually fight the Justice League. Keep an eye out for Darkseid’s Omega symbol and the alternative future that may or may not come to pass. Much like Marvel before it we are introduced briefly to the other members of the Justice League and it is just enough to whet the appetite for the future of this franchise...if ‘BvS’ is successful enough. As with Zak Snyder films there were some brilliant fight sequences, the eventual battle between man and God was well choreographed and it showed that while Superman does have the power Batman has the knowledge and the skills to beat the Kryptonian...but does he? Ultimately I found Batman VS Superman to be a brilliant part sequel to Man of Steel and the introduction of Affleck’s Dark Knight. As everyone knows about the past of Gotham’s saviour we didn’t need much of a back story before the action started and this was refreshing for a Batman story. The film came along nicely and helped with the pay off of the final bout which was brilliant and edge of your seat worthy. Now it’s just a matter of waiting to see if ‘Dawn of Justice’ will be big enough to give us the League.
Features interviews from the following: Funeral For A Friend, Killswitch Engage, New Found Glory, Black Stone Cherry, We Came As Romans, The...
Published on Mar 31, 2016
Features interviews from the following: Funeral For A Friend, Killswitch Engage, New Found Glory, Black Stone Cherry, We Came As Romans, The...