We are at 2000 trees – so how’s it going for you guys so far? Jock: Good man, we played and then come back to the press so we haven’t really got in amongst it yet, but we are planning too. We are going to pitch our tents, We have only got two one man tents between the four of us so, we’re going to see how that plays out.
Billy: We are very excited to be here and actually just from the small bit we have seen so far, it’s seems like a really cool place to hang out, like a really amazing party. It’s very safe, there’s a lot of room to hang out, it’s a good vibe
Jock: It’s like a garden party where refused are playing so it’s great . How important do you think festivals like this are to the UK? Jock: So Important, to look at this line up – it’s a lot of up and coming bands, you know. Obviously there’s a couple of big bands too, but I can look out and see bands we play with, some bands we just see on the live circuit, like last night we played with a new band. Most of the bands are more well known than we are, it’s cool to see that and to have a line up that I would go and see and not in the sense that they are on the front of magazines all the time but they are cool bands and good bands
Billy: I think also it’s the way it’s created the higher bands feel like kind of really good role models so you have got refused, you've got Ash, and Sixth and these are bands that have been around for a long time and who are really good. I feel that they have always conducted themselves in a really good way, they have never embarrassed themselves, they have always put out really cool shit so it’s quite a nice example to the younger people. So I think it’s like school, like a summer camp.
Interview with Jock Billy & Will
How did your set go? Billy: We go into every single gig, anything expecting the worst. So if there is more than a few people there, we are happy. The tent was pretty packed out, it sounded good, I could hear everything. I had a great time, I really enjoyed it.
Jock: Yeah, As did I. It was really fun, again there was people there who thought it was a new band, who come to see us play and the nice thing is you can see some people who know the words to some songs and get excited at the beginning of a song, it’s exactly what you want to happen. I guess it’s that thing, as a new band, as a band who people don't know you always are trying to prove yourself. People turn up who have never even heard of us just to see how we are. So it’s always kind of a bit nervy for you having to impress them. You can’t just play a chord of a song and everyone’s going to be like woo, but it was nice, we had a really positive reaction. It was actually really cool, like it was a very mixed age crowd, It’s not just kids watching us so it was cool.
Can you tell us about the formation of Puppy? Jock: So Billy and I were kids and we have always played in bands together. This started out in January 2015, we got a bit of attention, got our EP out last year and Will joined us not long after it came out, and he was the missing piece of the puzzle. It’s cool man, we had pretty strong ideals about it when we started. We kind of wanted to do something musically, which really reflected us. It was the first time; I think that we hadn’t really looked to anyone as closely as we had before. This is the first time, we all sat down and started talking about genres and different music we listen to. What we wanted to do.
Billy: This is music that reflects us, that reflects our tastes and its’ just totally honest. Not that we are lying, but I guess you can tailor your interests in music and the bands that you like and you can channel that into a certain direction So with Puppy we were like let’s just play stuff that we really enjoy.
Jock: Yeah, and wanted to hear aswell. I think that was kind of relevant. It was growing up with a lot of heavy music. I mean we are the generation that had like Limp Bizket and Korn were some of the biggest bands when we were like 13 years old, so us and a lot of our friends come from that world where heavy music was the biggest thing at that point. So even though that was a long time ago and that it’s maybe not what I listen to now, but it’s that kind of feeling of getting excited about music is still important to us. When we created puppy, It was something that we wanted to incorporate just for ourselves and it’s fun to play.
Billy: It’s fun to watch too, It’s really nostalgic. Even when we were playing music that’s a little less heavy [in our youth]. The kind of gigs that I would go to would be ones that were loud and heavy, ones I could most too. I’m not one to go to a gig and stroke my chin and stand at the back. I would rather get punched in the face by a big bearded guy.
Jock: I remember thinking, we would go and see bands in and around where we live, small bands that are playing bars and there was a similar scene in London and you get a lot of DIY rock outfits. So we basically got to this point where we were like imagine seeing a guitar band like Metallica crop up in a tiny bar and how excited we were, when you first start. So we try to incorporate an element of that, so yeah that’s kind of how we came up with what we were tying to do.
So what’s it like to be an up and coming band in London? Jock: It’s difficult because there isn’t much of a scene because bands are so spread out. Especially with the internet, you can kind of group bands together that aren't necessarily geographically linked.
Billy: The thing about being in London really, is it is hard for a band. Like space is such a commodity, I have got my drum kit in my living room, I can’t really play it because it’s too small to set up. We rehearse in a basement below a carpet shop, it’s pretty great actually.
Jock: Having said that, there are a lot of really great things about London. Like round where we live there are really cool band, and a lot of great places to play. .
Billy: We take it for granted really, there is some really good infrastructure to support bands, if you want it it’s there to be used.
Can you tell us a bit about how you got to the name Puppy? Jock: We literally went through a list of words and names we thought were cool. Billy: John got really set on the name slush puppies, and I was like nah if we are going to do that we should just go with Puppy, puppy is a better name. I actually think that's the least cool name there has ever been, so maybe slush puppies would have been better, sorry guys.
Jock: We could change our name to that Billy: Yeah haha, *We are the Slush Puppies* What can you tell us about your new mini album Volume II? Jock: It’s nice, I think compared to our first EP it’s different when we approached it because we wanted like 4 kind of sharp songs, so this one has more of a narrative in the entire thing. I think the album has a curve to the entire thing.
Billy: On a micro level, we wanted to have more of a feeling where you can chill a bit, Jock: It’s got a bit more light and shade then our last one, and hopefully people will like it, we will see. It’s also the heaviest stuff we have done..
Can you tell us a bit about ‘My Tree’ and the meaning behind that song? Jock: Yeah, it was one of the kind of first ones I had written for the EP. I think it’s nice musically it think it incorporates a lot of what we like. On our first EP there was a heavy sections and light sections were fairly different between the two. With this one we tried to blend it together a bit more. With this EP and that song in particular, I think they tie together really nice. Meaning wise, I’m always a lyrics last kind of guy, people can probably tell by listening to the EP, but it’s just kind of typical angsty nonsense.
If you had an infinite budget, what would you do with your next music video? Jock: Infinite budget, We are currently working on a music video for one of the songs on the EP so hopefully it’s got abit more budget. It’s not infinite at all, but hopefully we can go a lot higher than the last one. So look out for that one. It’s our mood board is pretty cool at the moment.
Will: Have you ever seen the video for November Rain? That would just be the intro, and then the fun starts. The rest of the video would just have people coming out of cakes. .
How did you get to the band name As Sirens Fall, and what does it mean to you? We used to have a different name, but it also had the word 'Siren' in it. It's a good word and it's really fun to say, but someone else had the same name and it had to go! We threw around a couple of other names, it just fell out of us and kind of stuck. I do a lot of drawing and at the time I joined the band I was drawing a lot of mermaids. I really like the art and visual side that the name has to it, all the Greek Mythology and seafaring ideas are really cool to me.
To an unfamiliar reader, how would you describe your sound? We've taken to the word 'mixtape' recently. We all come from different musical camps and influences but there is also a lot of common ground, and when you mix all that together writing songs gets even more exciting because you never know how it's going to turn out. The one thing that's consistent is big choruses and hard guitars and an awesome time. I think if we had to pick a genre we'd be aggressive pop.
Interview with Mikey
What bands have influenced you over the years, and why? So so so many. My Chemical Romance, The Misfits, The Used, The Blackout, Aiden, Queen, David Bowie, Billy Talent, it goes on and on and onnnnn. We all grew up listening to bands like these and so many more and they're all very responsible for each one of us wanting to make music and art ourselves. I love dramatic music, stuff that wouldn't be out of place in a West End musical, I feel like the more dramatic a song is the clearer it can be. It needs to be uplifting but also clear and honest and needs to convey a very clear image, at least for me. That's why I love bands like Queen and Foxy Shazam and My Chemical Romance. Stories and images!
Can you elaborate on some of the other main themes and influences that run throughout 'The Hospital Party'? The EP is a essentially a very blunt cross section of my mental health over the last couple of years. People aren't open enough about mental health problems and their internal struggles because of so many different societal expectations of people, but things like depression and anxiety are far more common than people realise. If one small fish like me starts shouting about it, maybe some other fish will too and the soon the whole pond will be talking about it. That was an infernally stretched metaphor, but the point is there I guess. The EP focusses a lot on different triggers for poor mental health, the effects of it and how incompatible it is with who I am. Hopefully some other kid out there who is where I was mentally a couple of years ago will hear it and know that they're not on their own.
How did you end up working with Romesh Dodangoda, and how would you say he helped shape the release? I was down in Cardiff picking up my super shiny/super heavy mic stand from Aled from Kids In Glass Houses. The plan was for me and Adam to go get it and go back to Leeds in a day, but instead we booked a cheap hotel and made a night of it, and wound up partying with Romesh. We basically got to talking and within a couple of weeks of back and forths, idea exchanges, we were booked in. He helped shape the release by bringing the best out of us without over stretching us. It was an awesome experience.
What song means the most to you from 'The Hospital Party' at the moment, and why? At the moment it's definitely â€˜Where You Areâ€™. That song is kind of the umbrella song for where the whole EP comes from. It's the first track and I feel like all the other lyrics on the EP branch off from it. It's about the guilt of not being able to love someone back and the crippling self hatred that hurting someone else will bring you.
How did the artwork for 'The Hospital Party' come together, and what does it mean to you? Neon always makes me think of strip clubs and dirty backstreets. I think of the tackiness that it reeks of, the completely see through falseness in it. Like that scene in the modern Romeo + Juliet, with all the neon crosses in the cathedral. The EP is about that balance of sadness and joy, cancelling eachother out and landing at emptiness, and I wanted something to represent that. It had to be tacky and shallow, like that neon, but also have this element of sarcasm and darkness to it.
Touring wise, can you give us a couple of personal highlights from your time on the road since you started out? We are on tour at the moment and we're having a wonderful time. Personal highlights include Band Pads in Birmingham being very lovely and putting us up, and also every show we play with Elements and The Rooz. Those guys are family now. At our London show I blacked out in the first ten seconds. Our set starts with complete darkness and an intro track, then when we start playing we have a ton of strobes and energy. This works, but sometimes we (I) get hurt because of low ceilings/loose cables/poor sense of balance. Anyway, I was jumping, I started to fall left, I didn't want to grab an amp or a cymbal and pull it down with me, so I just let myself fall and I felt my face hit something hard. It stopped me from falling but it fucking hurt! Once I regained my sight I realised I'd head butted Jason with my entire body weight. I was seeing spots for most of that show. I feel quite bad about that. It was an incredible show though, even though I was ridiculously discombobulated.
What sets you apart from any other band out there right now? We're unpredictable. We have a plan and we know what we're doing, but we never know what is going to come out of our fingers when we pick up our guitars and I love that about us. Every song we write is so different to the last and I love writing with this band. That variation also makes for a really cool dynamic in our live show.
What else can we expect to see from As Sirens Fall in 2016? Very cool things very soon. Visual, audial, physical, material... Things are rumbling in the distance. Stay tuned.
Can you tell us about the formation of Milestones?? Andy (drummer) and I were in a hardcore band previous to this one, and decided we wanted to make a much more career driven project. Matt (vocals) was a promoter in our local scene and we wanted to work with him because he was just as passionate as we were. We practiced as a three piece while looking for new members, and found Mark (bass) after putting out a few ads online. I then met Eden (guitar) in my first year of university and we eventually completed the line-up for Milestones, after auditioning about thirty other people haha. ?
How did you get to the band name Milestones, and what does it mean to you?? Choosing a name was a very difficult process and Milestones was the only one all of us agreed on. We thought that ‘’Milestones’’ best represented the ethos of the band which is: working hard and always striving to achieve bigger goals. ?
How did you end up signing to Fearless Records, and what have they been like to work with so far?? Once Fearless had got in touch with us after hearing our EP, we were super stoked to sign with them. After all, they had some of our favourite bands on their roster, that we had grown up listening to. Their reach in terms of a new audience has been insane! We’ve had people from all over the world check out our music. ?
How did you get to the EP title 'Equal Measures', and what does it mean to you?? Matt: ‘Equal Measures’ is about balancing your life correctly. It's about learning lessons of love, life, grief and ultimately finding out who you are and what you're made of inside. Some songs focus on relationships, break-ups and the moving on process, whilst others touch on bereavement, mentality, state of mind and getting over life's hurdles. ‘Equal Measures’ is a way to reflect that it's a part of life to feel pain, and that in order to bounce back you need to realise that it is okay to not be okay.
Can you elaborate on some of the other main themes and influences that run throughout 'Equal Measures'?? The main theme of ‘Equal Measures’ was to show a variety of situations somebody can face in broken relationships or friendships. ?
What made you want to release 'Nothing Left' first, and can you tell us about the meaning behind the track?? We felt that ‘Nothing Left’ really represented the roots and sound of our band and it was one of the first songs we had ever written.
view with Drew and Matt
How did you end up working with 'Phil Gornell', and how would you say he helped shape the release?? We wanted to work with Phil because he seemed really interested in our music and the band from the start. Working with him in the early stages of the EP really taught us a lot about writing as a band. I think it played a crucial part in how the songs turned out.
What bands have influenced you since you started out, and why?? Crooks, You Me At Six and Mayday Parade are all bands that have not only inspired us musically but also how they first started out as bands and the lengths they went to for their music to be heard. For example following the entire run of Warped Tour selling CD’s to people in queues or roughing out independent tours on mega buses. We’ve always been a group of people that wanted work hard so it was really cool to see bands we looked up to having the same attitude. ?
Touring wise, can you give us a couple of personal highlights from being on the road?? We recently just finished a short run with a band called Fort Hope, which was awesome because each show we played was either sold out or close to selling out. We also got to play some venues we had always wanted to play, like Rock City in Nottingham. One of the shows that sold out was this little bar called the surf café in Newcastle. It was that small we didn’t even have a stage, just a rug for the drum kit to go on and all of the amps had to be set up around it. It was that cramped on the ‘’Stage’’ Eden (guitar) and I were shoulder to shoulder and we couldn’t move around for the entire set without falling over the drum kit or each other. Despite all of that it was one of the best shows of the tour, and something I’ll never forget from that run.
What else can we expect to see from Milestones in 2016? Our summer is full of touring round the UK and we will be playing our first overseas show towards the end of August in the Netherlands with Tonight Alive and As It Is which we are really excited for. Expect more UK tours later this year too, we have big plans for this year so keep your eyes peeled!
Interview with R
We're at 2000 Trees, how excited are you to be here? Rob: Very. We came last year for the first time, and we did an acoustic set. This year, we did a full band set on the Axiom stage. So it's nice to be back, and bring the full show. There's a really good vibe here. The thing we noticed is just how friendly the atmosphere is. Everyone is pumped about watching every band. You don't often get that at festivals.
How important do you think festivals like 2000 Trees are to the UK? Rob: Massively so. Frank Turner did this secret set yesterday, and he summed it up really well. He was saying that “he doesn't like to be put in part of a scene, where people are throwing him in with bands that he doesn't actually like”. That's where you get the idea of a scene. But what he said was that “the scene was everyone here”. It does feel like that everyone who is here, is into every band that's playing. Whether it be like a hardcore band or acoustic guy or girl. It's nice that everyone's all in it together. Jonny: I think the scale of it really lends itself to great exposure for all of the bands. Because there's only a few stages, but they're full of great bands. You could just walk around, and not know anyone or anything, and still have a great time, and listen to music that you might not of heard of.
Rob: Or heard of, and never checked out. Like "I've been meaning to check out that band, I'll go and watch them!". The tent’s full, everyone's loving it, so you're like "this is great!". It's amazing, it's a really special festival.
How did your recent tour go with Recreations, and can you give us some personal highlights from this run?
Rob & Jonny
Rob: It was cool man, I did that solo, rather than a full band. It was a long one, like a month together. Sam and Sean are just two of my best friends. So it was great to get in a van together, play shows together for a month, and travel the width and breadth of the country. It was a big learning experience, being in such a confined space with your close friends. I took a lot from how they act, how they are, and just how they perform, and I'd like to think that it was the other way round as well, so yeah it was good.
How did you originally end up working with Sam Duckworth & Jay Malhotra, and how would you say they helped shape your music? Rob: Yeah he produced it, alongside a guy called Jay Malhotra. Jonny: Sam's ear was invaluable. it was the first time I recorded with him, and he is just constantly buzzing with ideas. He is always excited, and nothing is a bad idea to him. You can suggest something to him, that's completely off the wall, and he is willing to try it. He hears things that no one else really does, he'll say "you should try this here", and we are like "are you sure!?", we'll do it, and then we'll be like "awh that's great!".
Rob: We'll have a song that we thought was finished, a perfect structure, it's done. Then he'll come in, and be like "how about you move this bit there, cut that bit, double that bit at the end", and we are like "oh YAY!!!". He is like "listen to me, I know how this works", so we try what he suggests.
Jonny: We trust that guy a lot, and that's really important. Rob's built up a really good friendship with him, so it doesn't feel like work. It's a really creative process, and I couldn't think of anyone better to take the reigns on this record. It made sense, and it worked out well.
Rob: He's had to put up with a lot of my shit, and he's dealt with it. He's been positive about it, rather than telling me to go away.
Jonny: And they still talk to each other, so it's quite an achievement... How did the Rob Lynch band come together? Rob: I was touring a lot solo, and the idea of putting a band together came into my head a bunch of times, I just didn't know when to implement it, or who to get involved. But I got offered this tour, which was like big rooms, and a big support slot. It was suggested to me that I should probably do that tour with a band. So I put one together, and it worked really well. It was all the people that I knew, but weren't like, close friends, that were in other bands. I found the right guys, and we all just became really close friends. It works on stage dynamically, and it works in the studio when we are recording/writing.
Jonny: It works in a social aspect as well. We all hang out, when we are on tour together, we spend a lot of time together in the same room. It can get quite tense because you're round the same three people constantly, and you have to kind of juggle your own emotions with everyone elses, but I think everyone in the band is the right person for the job, and we've found that niche where we all just kind of gel, and get what each other is about. We know when to leave each other alone, we know when to like...give each other a little hug. That's something special, you've got to have those hugs when you need them!
Rob: It has spread out into the social world as well for sure. The first person, like as soon as anything happens in my life, that I think is funny, cool, or sad, I'll text Jonny. We weren't like massive friends before he joined the band. We kind of knew each other before, and played shows together with different bands, and were just like "Facebook friends", but now, it's like we are "official friends".
Jonny: We signed the paperwork!
You just released ‘Prove It!, so what made you want to release it as a single, and can you tell us a bit about the meaning behind the track? Rob: It's one of the songs on the record that sounds least like one of our old ones. So we thought let's put that out as the first song to test the water. The response has been great. I just wanted to write a really uplifting summer tune.
Jonny: Very early on in the writing process it kind of came out, and we were all very excited about it. It kind of felt like the defining statement of where we wanted to go with the album, and what we wanted it to be. Like, if we are going to do this, then let's go all in. See what sticks. It defiantly felt like a single for a long time, as soon as we wrote it.
Rob: Yeah, as soon as we wrote it we were like "this one has to be one of the first ones that comes out". So, it's a statement of intent. It's like a party jam, not like the rest of the album doesn't necessarily sound like that, but that was the one we wanted people to listen to first, and then come into the rest of the album through that.
Jonny: It was a good indicator of “if you're not into this, then this ain't for you!”. How did the arm wrestling video idea come together? Rob: Yeah, Ben directed it. We had a date locked in for shooting if for about a month. Ben and I had been talking over emails, going back and forth with ideas. He was suggesting like funny, and joyful videos, and I was like "Ben, I just want to do something serious this time around!". With the album, I think it's got a serious, well new direction that we are moving in. I had nothing for a month, and I was sat on the tube on a Tuesday morning, when the shoot was on the Friday, it was packed, and it was then when I thought, what we have to do for the video is not be serious or funny, we have to go above what we thought was a funny idea, and so we just made the most ridiculous video that we could. It turned out that we were shooting on the day of the referendum result, so I woke at 6am, saw the result, and I was devastated. Everyone involved in making the video felt the same way that I did. I felt like I was in no mood to go and shoot a fun video. Then we all got there, had a couple of beers, and were just like "let's forget about this for the rest of the afternoon, let's shoot this, and just have the most fun we can". We all went into it head first, and just kind of let out our emotions from the day.
How did you get to the album title ‘Baby, I’m A Runaway’, and what does it mean to you? Rob: It's a chorus to one of my favorite songs on the album, ‘Runaway’. I was thinking about the theme of the album overall. It's about dealing with, and living out the dream of playing music, and touring, which we've been able to do for the last couple of years. I sat down, and thought about how that affected people that were close to me in my life. With keeping away so much, and being unrepentant about the fact that I'm going to go away for two months at a time. I hadn't ever really thought about what impact that would have on my loved ones, and when I sat down to write the new record it felt like it supported those themes a lot, and ‘Baby I'm A Runaway’ felt like the crux of it, and just really summed up the album.
Jonny: It's a really good sentiment in the fact that anyone can relate to it. Robs situation is specific to Rob. It's interesting because anyone who is doing what they want to do, ultimately has to juggle that against their responsibilities, make sacrifices, without hurting anyone, or upsetting anyone. It can be very selfish to do what you want to do, and I think that's hard for people a lot of the time. So yeah, a good sentiment to kind of wrap up our head space at the time of recording/writing. It's an interesting time for all of us, and ‘Baby, I'm a Runaway’ kind of resonates as the resounding tone of the album.
Rob: It also sounds pretty cool...I never thought I'd get Baby into an album title!
How did you end up signing to Xtra Mile Recordings, and what have they been like to work with? Rob: They've been amazing, it's like a big family. Everyone's striving towards a common goal of putting out good music, and putting on good shows.
Jonny: In a world where every band is just trying to step over each other to get to where they want to be. It's great to have a body that's really supportive. Everyone's on the same page, and just working towards the same goal. It's very special.
Rob: In terms of signing, it was one of those things that had been mentioned to me a lot of times. Like "ah you should work with Xtra Mile". When I met Charlie, he said he has had loads of people saying he should work with Rob Lynch. So it was like, "shall we work together then?", and that's how it all came together, and it's been great.
Members of We Are The Ocean and Deaf Havana joined you whilst you put this record together, so how did that happen, and what do you think fans can expect from that process when they listen to the record? Jonny: I got to the studio, we recorded the album initially over two weeks, but we did a few sessions over a couple of months. I finished work one day, got to London and down to the studio at about 9pm. I remember that week as it had been a tough one for me. I walked into the room, and Liam and Alfie from We Are The Ocean, and James from Deaf Havana were all there with Rob in the recording booth doing the most insane harmonies. There were voices all over the place. It lifted me instantly, I was like "this is great, this is what we want to get across".
Rob: I've known those guys for years, so I hit them up and said we were going to do some group vocals. â€œYou guys have got the best voices that I know, do you want to come and hang out?â€? and they were like "of course, we'll come and hang out!". I'm fans of both of those bands, so it was really cool that they wanted to be involved, whilst also being so passionate about it.
Jonny: It defiantly supported the songs as well. We didn't want their voices taking center stage so much. Rob: Yeah, it wasn't like they recorded it in America, and then just sent it over for us to use in a middle eight section or something. It was much more comfortably involved in the writing/recording process, and it was an actual layer, more of a collaboration.
Jonny: There are one or two songs that they work on, but it's still very much a Rob Lynch record. What else can we expect to see from Rob Lynch in 2016? Rob: Touring, getting out there, and promoting the record. Jonny: The release of the record is really just kind of the start. We've got a lot of playing to do. We kind of want to transcend the vibe we had when we wrote and recorded it. We want to get that across live. We want people to come out, forget about work, forget about bills, and have a good time with us. That came across yesterday actually, we had a great response here at 2000 Trees, and that's going to continue for the rest of the year.
How did your performance at Download Festival just go? Danni: Amazing, seriously I’m absolutely pumped about it. It was chucking it down, and we had a mega stressful morning. Basically our van driver was listening to music all night, so then the van wouldn’t start. So yeah, we had to get the van working, get all the equipment down. Just a really hectic morning. But we went and nailed it, thank god!
You performed some new material as well right? Danni: Yeah, we did two new songs. They went down really well, especially when you are performing in front of crowd that big, and they haven’t heard it before. It was a really good reaction, and we couldn’t of asked for more really.
What made you want to perform those songs from the new album first? Danni: We just wanted to hit the crowd with something new. It’s the fourth time we’ve done this festival now, so if anyone there has seen us before, then they’ll have a new one! They’re very electronic, and they go with the flashy led trainers that I wore!
Interview with Danni & Matt Can you give us a couple of personal highlights from playing at Download Festival before? Danni: Every time we play here. They are all highlights. We are really lucky that we’ve done it four times. It’s only one stage up to go now, the main stage. Then we can retire!
Matt: We came to the festival every year before we started playing here, and when we had the chance to perform, we started on the Jager stage, all acoustics, and then we worked our way up. Yeah, like Danni said, we’ve only got to do the main stage now, and then we’ve done them all!
Also, what do you enjoy the most about playing here? Danni: Just the energy, and the fans. People have had their tents flooded this year, but they are still in the mood to party and have fun. You wouldn’t get that at a pop festival. It’s pretty hardcore here. It’s good.
What was it like to tour with InMe & Alien Ant Farm? Matt: To go on tour with InMe and Alien Ant Farm, the bands that we listened to so much when we were younger. We had a few phone calls saying that the gigs were sold out, and then everything got upgraded. It was incredible, some of the venues we had done on that tour, I never thought we’d get to play in. We went on in KoKo, and it was already a full crowd. So it felt like people had come out to see us as well. Which is always a bonus.
Danni: Yeah, KoKo was one of the highlights for me.
What other festivals have you really enjoyed playing at, and why? Danni: We did one for Cancer charity, which was wicked. The guys dad puts it on every year, and gets funded. He has done it for a few years now, it’s amazing. From the sons memory, he has personal touches. He drove us on a quad, and you know, sometimes you don’t get that personal approach at a festival. We do here at Download, as Andy Copping always comes and says hi, which is awesome.
Matt: Camden Rocks was pretty cool as well. It was a small little venue, sweaty and rammed. It was nice to do that, before we came and did this.
So, what can you tell us about your upcoming new album? Matt: It’s done, it’s finished. It’s good, it’s kind of gone a bit more electronic, and we pushed it. Today with the new songs, people were already singing along. It was great!
Danni: We are buzzing so much of the new stuff, that you know, you just want to get it out there straight away.
Where was it recorded, and have you always self produced? Matt: Some bits at Rockfield studio, and I’ve got a studio myself. It just made sense to do it ourselves as I’ve had so much experience in the studio anyway.
What can you tell us about the lyrical themes that run throughout the album? Danni: Complete mix. We played a song today call ‘San Frandisco’. You might have a few too many drinks, get carried away. Meet someone, and then think the next day that you should of actually got their number. This record is a lot deeper, and a lot darker, but more electronic. It’s got a kind of Muse vibe in terms of the synths, but at the same time, it’s not like Muse. Buzzing for it, we can’t wait.
Matt: It’s kind of a lot more, going back to where we were on the first album. Like just having a laugh. It doesn’t sound like anything else out there.
How would you say the band has grown since you started out, and has there been any pressure on you whilst you’ve put this album together? Matt: Our fans have always been quite loyal. We do push it, and basically just do whatever we want to do on an album. Because we’ve kind of done everything ourselves. We’ve never really done the label thing, and our fan base has just grown gradually. I remember when we released ‘Fight’, and we were sitting in front of YouTube wondering if it will hit maybe 1,000 plays? Then we got an email the other day, saying that it had gone into the millions. Like “how did that happen?”. We are definatly an online band, as we’ve got a world wide fan base, people from Australia & Japan have been buying our merch even though we’ve never even been there before. We’ve even got a full on tribute band in Japan!
Danni: With a third album everyone says it’s always “make or break, it’s really important”. With ‘Fight’ it went viral, and we hit a million pretty quickly. So there was some pressure, as we felt like we had to follow that up, but it’s worked out really well.
Looking back on ‘Gold Dust’, how happy are you with this album still, and what do you think it’s done for TDY? Matt: It was our transition album really. It was one of those albums where I wouldn’t say we lost ourselves on it, but I think that’s the only time we’ve tried to conform a little bit. Looking back on it, there’s some great tunes on it, I love ‘Alive’, I think it’s one of the best things we’ve wrote. But some of the stuff is a bit out there. This time, we just said “let’s just do what we do best”. No one can pigeonhole our sound. I was speaking to Benji from Skindred, and he was like “you’ve always been like that, no one knows what we are, but you stick around long enough and people will realise that you’re not going away”, and that’s what we want.
Danni: With Skindred, they have never been massively world wide famous as you would call it, but they sell out, and they are one of the main festival bands in the UK. They are absolutely amazing, and that’s basically what we want to be. They have been a massive influence on us.
What else can we expect to see from The Dirty Youth in 2016? Matt: We are going to release an incredible album, which is going to change the world. We’d like to head out to Japan, Las Vegas, the Bahamas, Australia. Everywhere.
Danni: We need to do a headline tour, as we haven’t done one now for about a year and a half. I can’t wait to do an hour, hour and a half headline sets!
Interview with Witt
How is Warped Tour going, and what's it been like to perform some of the new songs live? Warped has been great. It's pretty fun finally playing new songs. Definitely a breath of fresh air from constructing two years of setlists off seven songs.
So how did you get to the album title 'Smile', and what does it mean to you? I think we just wanted to be overtly ironic. To the point where it's not humourous anymore but more jarring. It matched the honesty and bluntness of the music.
Can you elaborate on some of the other main themes and influences? It's everything we see that pisses us off. Unless you live with your senses contained there should be something you think is worth fighting for or speaking out against. That's what I do with my lyrics, at least. I tried to touch everything from misogyny to religion to modern-American ideology.
You've just released 'MGGDA', so can you tell us a bit about the meaning behind that track? America is a materialistic wonderland. Everything is enjoyed as a passing trend. You don't see popstars last, let alone rockstars. Music is a commodity. Art is a commodity. Life in general in this country is treated with such little respect.
How did you end up working with WZRD BLD, and how would you say they've helped shape the record? We've worked with WZRD BLD since our inception. He's been a helping hand in helping us hone in on what we wanted to be when we couldn't quite place our finger on it. He's absolutely an integral part of the team.
What was the hardest part about putting the album together for you guys, and why? The stress of time. We're always a little under pressure and we were in a new environment.
How did the album artwork come together for 'Smile', and what does it mean to you? It's the vomit of material objects. It's everything that's over-glorified and over-endulged.
How would you say the sound of Cane Hill has grown since your self-titled EP? We're older. We've been to more places and seen more shit. Two years in the 2010's is a massive gap. So, naturally, weâ€™re writing music that's a little more evolved than what we wrote before.
Also, looking back on your self-titled EP, how happy are you with this release still, and what do you think It's done? More than we ever imagined it would. We've traveled overseas and across the country for the last two years off of seven songs. That's extraordinary.
How excited are you for your upcoming UK tour with Bullet For My Valentine/Killswitch Engage, and what can attending fans expect? Absolutely beyond stoked. We'll be playing a lot of new songs violently.
What else can we expect to see from Cane Hill in 2016? Extensive touring is really all I know about.
Interview with Reilly
How is your current tour going with letlive. and can you give us a couple of personal highlights from your time on the road? The tour is going great. With all the bands (Silver Snakes, Seahaven & letlive.) being based out of the general LA/OC area, there seems to be an unspoken vibe and a kind of understanding between everyone, which is nice on a tour this long. Each band has a unique sound and appeal to them too, which makes it enjoyable to watch everyone each night. We're only into the 2nd week of it but all the Florida dates have collectively been the highlight for me so far. The crowds and shows were really fun.
How did you end up signing to Graphic Nature Records / Equal Vision Records, and what have they been like to work with so far? We were approached by Will Putney about the idea of Graphic Nature / Equal Vision while we were writing for our new album ‘Into The Vanishing Light’ and finishing up the touring cycle of our first album. He told us about his and EVR's ethos behind the label, a lot of which we saw eye to eye with. After a few discussions with Will and the EVR team it seemed like a very natural and good fit for our band particularly. Graphic Nature / EVR have been extremely supportive in helping us maintain our specific vision for ‘Into The Vanishing Light’. They were open to letting us do our own artwork, do our own music video (premiering soon), record with Ross Robinson, and just generally work from a different path that a lot of bands don’t do now-a-days. We’re really grateful for that. Without all of those elements this release could have had a very different outcome, and we're thankful for the artistic freedom we had.
How did you get to the album title 'Into The Vanishing Light', and what does it mean to you? The album title represents the whole theme of the record. The way we recorded it, the process of writing the record, the influences we took from, the things we love as a band and consider important in music - all seem to be vanishing in the current musical climate. For me, the album title means a complete embrace of all of those things.
Can you tell us about some of the other main themes and influences that run throughout 'Into The Vanishing Light'? Opening ourselves up as people and as musicians, freeing ourselves from the static of today's culture, being honest, playing and working together, connecting as a band, focusing on the importance of art itself those are all themes that run deeply throughout ‘Into The Vanishing Light’. Before we recorded each song, our producer Ross had Douglas explain each and every lyric to us. Ross would guide us through a personal reflection that we could each relate to in the lyrics, which helped us focus on those feelings while we recorded. He helped us stay connected as a band throughout the whole process. From the beginning we were pretty ambitious in what soundscapes and influences we wanted to apply. Between our bands wide-range of musical and artistic interests and Ross’ extremely extensive background and knowledge of music, the combined amount and variation of influence that went into the album is pretty insane when I think about it.
What was the hardest part about putting 'Into The Vanishing Light' together for you, and why? For me, initially switching the whole approach I was used to in the studio was the hardest part. Using unfamiliar instruments and recording to tape was all new and tough at times. After Ross and I would finish a challenging song or section, for example, I would understand and be able to hear how the struggle on it created tension that you could actually hear affecting the song in positive ways.
How did you end up working with Ross Robinson, and how would you say he helped shape the record? We actually met with Ross quite a while before we went in to record ‘Into The Vanishing Light’. We had a mutual friend introduce us and we initially met just to talk about music and who we were as a band. After we finished touring for our first album ‘Lift Your Existence’, we contacted Ross and it was luckily around the same time we signed to Graphic Nature / Equal Vision so everything lined up. Ross became a 5th member on this album; he helped not only our songs but helped shape our outlook and mindset going in. He took our individual and collective strengths and pushed them until it all began to shinethrough and reflect in our songs in a way we’re extremely excited about. We recorded drums together in a room with no metronome; instead we operated off of Aric’s internal pulse. We recorded to tape. We used different instruments, pedals, and amps to create new & different sounds. Ross didn’t let anything just slide-by. There were nights where he’d be up until dawn after already recording me for twelve hours, still working on the songs. I can honestly say there is not a single producer I’m aware of that works in the way Ross does, and without his process a lot of people’s favorite records (including my own) wouldn’t have came out the way they did.
We've read that "the album puts a newfound emphasis on utilizing your instruments", so can you tell us a bit about how you've grown/progressed musically as a band on this record? We wrote extensively before even going into the studio. Any time off we had from touring the past four years we spent writing music. We initially had around 50+ songs done, about half instrumental and half with vocals. We condensed those to around twenty we felt strongly about and brought those into the studio to record with Ross. While writing those songs we each did our best to push different and weirder sounds out of each instrument. Instrumentally, we are a three piece but we didn’t want that to hinder any possible influence or sound we wanted to apply. That being said we are also very particular about actually playing the songs and sounds we create live, with no backing tracks or any bullshit like that. Anything we were able to create in the studio and record onto the album, we needed to be able to physically play live between the four of us. Aric plays digital percussion on two separate live pads while drumming throughout the whole album, Nick and I found the necessary pedals and attacks to recreate all the bass & guitar effects, and Douglas has done the same for the vocal effects. In addition to all of that, recording with Ross progressed us as a band enormously. We learned the importance of playing as a unit, however that needed to happen. We got to explore the importance of creation, art, and feeling deeper and more collaboratively open than I ever could have imagined. We stayed in that world, as a unit, the whole time we were recording ‘Into The Vanishing Light’ and I do my best to continue to do so while approaching anything musically related now.
How did the album artwork come together, and what does it mean to you? The different visual concepts we used in the artwork were put together by Aric. He directed our friend Sean Fujiwara in taking the photographs that were used throughout the album’s artwork. From there, I did the full design and layouts for the vinyl gatefold and the CD using those images and other textures / styles that (I hoped) would accompany the album’s sound. We wanted the artwork to visually represent the album properly, and be thorough in doing so. The imagery can be looked at in many ways (the CD layout and vinyl layouts are different) but all contain visual accompaniment to enhance the title and theme of ‘Into The Vanishing Light’. In the end I think we’re all pretty happy with the way it turned out.
How did the music video for 'A Dialogue In Cataplexy' come together, and can you tell us a bit about the meaning behind the track? Aric and our good friend Christopher Abouabdo put together the ideas for the video. We shot it in two different phases and locations, one for the shots that mirror the album artwork and one for the performance. We did everything DIY, from Christopher being able to recreate green screen ideas we had in our minds to building a 12 x 12 foot plexi glass cube in the middle of the woods, to playing inside of it all night until 5am, it was a lot of work. We were lucky to have a good group of friends and loved ones help us execute everything we needed to accurately give, what we feel, is a good visual representation of “A Dialogue In Cataplexy”.
What do you want this album to do for the representation of Night Verses? Ideally, I want people to know we’re a real band who put our all into this record in every way. I want people to know we didn’t follow the typical format for recording or let ourselves fall into some disingenuous trend to feel safe. I want people to know the process and know where we were taking influence from and why.
What else can we expect to see from Night Verses in 2016? We will be touring and continuing to support ‘Into The Vanishing Light’ in every way possible.
Interview with JT Woodruff
Looking back on your last full length album 'Zero', how happy are you with this album still, and what do you think it has done for the representation of Hawthorne Heights? ‘Zero’ was one of our favorite albums to make because there was a loose concept attached. We were able to craft stories along with the music, which was a bit of a new experience for us. We had a blast recording the album in Nashville, which was also an entirely new experience for us. I think that some of the songs are the strongest that we have written as a band, but not a lot of our fans know that these songs exist.
What made you want to do a trilogy of EPs, and can you tell us about the themes and influences that run throughout each EP? We initially wanted to do EP's because we thought it would be a way to write, record, and release them quickly. This turned out not to be the case because it's always hard to find time off the road. We chose themes that we felt everybody deals with. You always want your music to be relatable to both yourself and the listener. We also chose to do EP's because we had never put out an EP prior and it was a new adventure.
What made you want to self-release the 'Hurt' EP, and how was that whole process for you guys? We kind of made it our goal to release all three EP's independently. We didn't want anyone to tell us to just record a full length. We didn't care about the business and economics of releasing less songs. We had the idea that the emotion and title behind the music was more important than the band name being on the cover. These are all ideas that we know record labels hate.
Are you working on any new material for a full length just yet? If so, how's that coming along, and what can fans expect from it? We are working on new music right now while we have a few weeks off from the road. It's too early in the process to have any true details, but we think it's time to release a new full length. We will continue to write and demo as we go to prepare for a release next year.
How excited are you for your upcoming UK tour, and what can attending fans expect? It's been a few years since we've been to Europe and the UK, so we are very excited. We have always enjoyed our time there. The fans are great and we really enjoy the scenery. The USA looks very different, so we are excited to see the countryside. Our fans can expect all of the energy that we can give them. We will be playing all of ‘If Only You Were Lonely’ along with other fan favorites. We are excited for Kebab shops, great coffee, and our fans.
Can you give us a couple of personal highlights from performing in the UK over the years? We have really experienced the UK in a lot of different ways. We have been on tour buses, vans, ferries, trains, and airplanes. We've played giant shows like Reading and Leeds and tiny pubs. They have all been amazing. We truly enjoy the people, the culture, and the countryside.
So what made you want to do a ten year anniversary tour for 'If Only You Were Lonely'? For the fans. Since we have been touring and recording music for thirteen years straight, sometimes songs get left out. This was our way to play every song from the album without any excuses. It was also a way for us to reconnect with music that has been locked away in the vault. In an industry where most bands don't last five years, we are happy to still be able to give fans what they want.
Can you tell us about what you remember from that time, when you put 'If Only You Were Lonely' together? I remember life moving incredibly fast. We were excited to play every night of the week with every band in the world. We still share that same enthusiasm, which is one of the reasons why I think we are still here. This was way before iPhones, so we couldn't capture as many moments as I would like, but we got to live in those moments and nothing can take that away.
What was the hardest part about putting 'If Only You Were Lonely' together for you, and why? The hardest part was constantly being on tour, which made for some great lyrics due to the isolation we felt, but it was hard to find the time to just sit in a room together and write new music. We took all the inspiration and all of the youthful energy that we found on Warped Tour 2005 and molded that into songs. The hardest part as a musician is to find the time. Everything else can be given to you, but time is the one thing that we don't have enough of.
How would you say the album compares to every other album you've put out? Each album was made under a different set of circumstances. We knew what mistakes we made on our first album and made an effort to correct those this time around. Expectations were really high due to the success of our first album, so we had something to live up to. We tried not to consider that pressure and tried to write songs that we would want to play live. We never really talk about the songs beforehand, we just sit down together and write until the album is ready. This process tends to make each album different.
What was it like to actually rehearse the album then, like going over tracks that you hadn't visited in a while? The rehearsals for this tour brought up a lot of memories. We thought about all of the fun times that we've had and all of the mistakes that we have made. It was good to be able to view the songs now from an entirely different perspective. It was also good to have a setlist that was already locked in, so we couldn't talk ourselves out of playing songs that we aren't used to playing live.
What else can we expect to see from Hawthorne Heights in 2016? We will continue the world tour for the 10 year anniversary of â€˜If Only You Were a Lonelyâ€™ throughout the rest of the year and continue working on new music for a new full length.
Interview with Nick
So how are you enjoying Slam Dunk Festival so far? Awesome, we just had the first day in Leeds and it was amazing, looking forward to the next two days. I think one of our most memorable times was when it was an after party and our guitarist Kevin, there was beer all over the floor, he slipped and wacked his head. We had to take him to the emergency room, and stitch his head up. So that’s one memory that will always be here.
What do you love so much about playing here? The crowds, the fans, and the fact that we get to see all of our friends in bands that we don’t usually get to see. Bands like Set Your Goals, it’s really great to see them.
How did you get to the EP title ‘Just To Get Through To You’, and what does it mean to you? It was hard, it was just an acoustic EP, so it was like “what do we do? What do we call it?”, we were just kind of going through things. The line is taken from a song called ‘Count It!’ from ‘Skip School, Start Fights’. The EP in general is for our fans to get by, whilst they wait for a new record. So, we thought it was a cool way to say “hey, this is for you guys!”, it just made sense.
What can we expect from the next Hit The Lights record? We are going to start writing it shortly. It’s going to be heavier, nastier, but we’ll still get some pop in there. We can’t not pop!
Lyric wise, how does a song normally come together for you? It just depends. It’s getting harder and harder to find things to write about. Things that inspire me. A lot of times, it’ll start with a riff or just one line, and then I’ll just build of that. As far as how it happens, I don’t know, you just have to find inspiration, like “what’s this song going to be about?”, and just go from there. Which like I said, gets harder and harder for me every year. We don’t sing about parties anymore, as that’s got a bit old. So it’s been a struggle to find content that really means something, when you sing about it.
What can you tell us about the new song on the EP ‘Lighthouse’?
It’s a straight up love song. Something that we don’t normally do. It was actually really hard for me, to write lines like “make love to you”. That was one of the lines that I just didn’t feel right putting down, but I was like “dude, you’re 32, you can have a song that contains that, you’re allowed now”. So it was a different song in that respect, as I had to just open up and be like “it’s okay to just write a love song, and not have a negative connatation to it”.
How do you maintain your vocals?
Lots of water, it maintains your vocals at Slam Dunk, because it’s called Slam Drunk! All you do is drink. So I have to continually drink a ton of water, all the time. I try to do warm ups, and things like that. You have to learn how to sing correctly, so that it doesn’t hurt you, but yeah, staying hydrated is number one! Lots of water! More of it than you ever want to drink.
Looking back on ‘Summer Bones’, how happy are you with that record still, and what do you think it has done for Hit The Lights? I’m incredibly proud of the record. I think it’s personally one of our best records. It was a record that was kind of something that really shouldn’t of happened. We found ourselves again on this record, our groove, and we were confident in our sound again. So really it was like a stepping stone that we needed. It was a diving off point, where we could take our music to another level. It’s similar to our older records, but at the same time there’s enough progression there, that it’s not the same record as our other ones.
With the new material, can we expect more lyric themes like we saw with Lighthouse? I don’t know, I think there’s still some stuff to be angry about. Energy is the most important part of a song. On an acoustic EP, you can do some lighter topics like that, because you don’t have to be stringed into a microphone saying stuff that means something to you. As far as, when you are doing big riffs, you have to say something that kind of matches the intensity of the music. So yeah, there’ll definitely be some angrier songs, for sure.
How would you say the Pop Punk scene has changed? There’s been a lot of back tracking to a lot of 90s alternative, like a grungy sound, which has been interesting. So yeah, I’d say like the cycle is coming around where the 90s are coming back into play a little bit. A lot of the older bands are turning into these 90s bands, which I’ve never been into. I’ve never been into grunge. There’s a whole new sub genre. Whereas when I was growing up pop punk was this divergence to what was on the radio, now I think that the newer bands have kind of taken that/embraced that kind of rawness, and put it into their music as well. So they’ve kind of made their own thing out of it.
Interview with Greg
How did George Rebelo become a part of The Bouncing Souls, and what was it like to work with him on the recording process of 'Simplicity'? George was the first person we thought of after Michael decided to leave the band. We have been friends with George for a long time and think he is a great drummer so it was just a matter of playing together and trying it out. It worked out great right away. The songwriting process with George was great too. George is very musical so he had a lot to offer, and he was pretty patient with us haha! The infusion of a new personality into our process was really good for all of us too.
What made you want to release 'Up To Us' first, and can you tell us a bit about the meaning behind the track? It was Rise's idea to choose ‘Up to Us’ as a single. It’s usually difficult for the band to decide that kind of thing after you have been working so closely with all the songs. We thought it was a good suggestion so we went with it. Most of the songs we write start with a basic idea that gets brought in by one person and expanded by the group. The song ‘Up to Us’ started with an idea Pete had. It was shortly after David Bowie passed and he was feeling inspired to get his feelings across about the idea of losing our many great musical mentors one by one. He had the words, chords and melody of the first verse and chorus and it grew from there.
How did you get to the album title 'Simplicity', and what does it mean to you? When we started out writing for ‘Simplicity’ we had decided we wanted to try to write songs we would want to play live. It sounds a little crazy but we have recorded a lot of songs that we like but we don't end up playing them live. We made a conscious effort during the whole process as best we could to write songs that would all work well in our live set. Later on when the title ‘Simplicity’ came up during the recording it really stuck. It summed up our original inspiration pretty well. We wanted to write some simple rockers and that’s what we did.
Can you elaborate on some of the other main themes and influences that run throughout 'Simplicity'? We explore a lot of the classic themes we have always covered like relationships and the inspiration that is music itself but we covered some new ground too. I'm really proud of the dark humor in the song ‘Hey Aliens’. I love when a song can successfully touch on serious subject matter that affects all of us but with a sense of humor. In this case the topic is the financial takeover going on in our world by big corporations and their owners. That’s heavy subject matter that I want to address but it isn't easy to infuse into a song that makes you feel like rocking. Nobody wants to hear about this stuff when they are rocking out. It can be a real downer. So I was stoked when I thought of the perspective of ‘Hey Aliens’. The idea of asking Aliens to rent us their death ray so we can rub out greedy destructive humans really cracks me up and I hope it does that for other people. I think having some humor about the intensity of our world can help us see in a way that isn't fearful. That kind of perspective can be empowering for people and help to create change.
What made you want to work with John Seymour once more, and how would you say he helped shape the record? We had a great experience working with John on ‘Summer Vacation’ and ‘Anchors Aweigh’ It just made sense to us when we were thinking about who we wanted to produce and engineer this time. Once we started working we realized what a great choice we had made and had forgotten how much we enjoyed recording with John. There is definitely a chemistry with us and John that you can hear in those early records so it was fun to hear it popping out in the new songs we were recording as the session moved along. How you feel in the actual process of recording is really important. We all had a great time making the music so you can feel that in the recordings. John definitely helped us create that mood and did a great job on the technical side of capturing that in the recording. He is really good at letting us do our thing, if that makes sense.
How did the album artwork for 'Simplicity' come together, and what does it mean to you? Bryan Kienlen created the art and I love how it came out. It’s simple and beautiful so it works perfectly with the title. He worked on it in the studio during the recording process so we all kind of gave him our two cents as he was playing around and working on different ideas. If you can say something really simply it can have a big impact. I think that’s what we strive for as artists. The big impact. Simplicity in art and in life is an ongoing process we are always working for and I think Bryan really hit the mark with the album artwork.
How would you say the sound of The Bouncing Souls has grown/changed since you first started out? I guess the simple answer is our sound was created pretty organically and has been through so many growing stages. We went with the situations and producers that presented themselves over the years as we wrote and recorded our songs. The sounds we were making live developed over the years and I think we kept trying to capture that in the studio recordings.
Looking back on 'Comet' how happy are you with this album still, and what do you think it has done for the representation of The Bouncing Souls? I love ‘Comet’. It’s kind of Bill Stevenson's representation of the Souls which I think is a pretty cool version of us. It’s awesome sonically and the songs are good so I'm really proud of it. It was great to be recording with someone as iconic and accomplished as Bill and having him feel the same way about recording with us. There was a great love and respect between us so I feel very fortunate to have had that experience. People seem to like it too!
What else can we expect to see from The Bouncing Souls in 2016? We are doing a few runs in America on the east coast and the midwest to support the new record. I'm looking forward to getting back to some places we haven't been in a while.
Interview with Davey
Touring wise, what have you been up to this year, and can you give us a couple of personal standout moments from your time on the road? We did a killer full US tour in the early spring with For Today, Like Moths to Flame and Phinehas. That whole tour was pretty stand out for us mostly because we had never played to most of the people who came out to those gigs. I suppose it was a new demographic for us but it ruled. The people were so cool and we loved every band we got to hang with. It’s always sick when a tour just vibes well like that.
What made you want to release 'Mutter' first from 'All Hell', and can you tell us about the meaning behind the track? I wanted to write an anthem for this new generation of kids that are constantly being told "they can't" or "no" or that they'll never be more then some no good punk - kind of like a lot of us got told at a young age, heck we still get told that. We just wanted a banner track to raise our fists to and fight back. Tell all those voices to shut up. That's ‘Mutter’. In writing and recording it, all I could think about was Warped Tour. The response has been unreal so far and I'm hoping that song will pop off on the tour.
So how did you get to the album title 'All Hell', and what does it mean to you? We were sitting around talking the record and what I was writing about - sharing stories over the last few years. I was mulling over titles and our guitar player Nick just said it, “when all hell comes down”. Boom. I knew that was it as soon as he said it,
Can you elaborate on some of the other main themes and influences that run throughout 'All Hell'? This record is about the hell we've gone through to become the people we are. What happens when all hell comes crashing down, how we've dealt with it. But it's us being proud of what we've gone through, the good, the awful, all of it. Our hope is that fans make these songs their own, that maybe they've overcome odds or whoever they used to be and can hold their heads high and be stoked on who they are now. It's for us and them.
How did you end up working with Will Putney, and how would you say he helped shaped the record? This is our second record with Will, we were so stoked on ‘VOID’ that working with him on this one was a no brainer. We felt like we started a story with that last record and wanted to finish it. Will brings a cool outside perspective into Vanna and has always helped shape our songs and push us, not just to be better but to just be us.
What was the hardest part about putting 'All Hell' together for you guys, and why? Honestly there wasn't much hardship with piecing together this record. Everything fit and fell where it needed to go. Of course being away from our families for a couple months was rough but it almost fuels us more. To make them proud ya know?!
What do you want this record to do for the representation of Vanna? We just want what we always want, to let fans know that they’re not alone. That we've struggled through the same issues that they may be dealing with right now, but we've not only made it out but are better because we went through it all. That there is not just light at the end of the tunnel, that you can light that tunnel on fire and burn your way out. You hold the power in your hand.
How did the artwork for 'All Hell' come together, and what does it mean to you? So using the idea of you holding the power in your hands, you hold that hell. Everything you've gone through, you need to own it. Own that fire and use it for future burning. That hand with fire represents that. The power that can be harnessed but overcoming your past.
How excited are you for your UK tour with Beartooth, and what can attending fans expect? Are you kidding?! Tour the UK with our best friends? I'm just apologizing now to the United Kingdom for the ruckus that will go down this fall/winter. Expect what you'd always expect from a Beartooth/Vanna gig, absolute total mayhem. Yes we will be playing each other's songs, swapping members out for fun, yes we will be having stage dive contests, and yes you will go deaf.
You are hosting workshops at Warped Tour this year, so can you tell us how that idea came about, as well as what fans can expect from that experience? I've been speaking at schools for years now and when TEI approached me to host these classes it made perfect sense. A chance to cross my two worlds. So when I found out they were doing Warped and so were we it was a no brainer to continue teaming up. These will be discussions, a chance for me to share how and why I got to where I am and how you can take your passion and make it a reality. Mostly I'm just excited to get to know our fans more and what drives them. Gonna be sick!
What else can we expect to see from Vanna in 2016? Record release will unleash hell. Touring around the world, maybe our own headliner, and lots and lots of sweat. Come hit a gig and find out what you've been missing out on.
Interview with Garret
How is Warped Tour going, and what's it been like to perform some of the new songs live? Weâ€™re having a BLAST! The response to playing â€˜Wallsâ€™ has been incredible. Huge sets every day, massive signing lines, and more people singing along than ever!
Can it ever be a nerve-racking experience to perform a new song live for the first time? That first time is and will always be sketchy. You definitely need to play it a few times through in a live setting for it to make sense. Once people start learning the songs and singing along, everything comes together.
What made you want to release 'Walls' first, and can you tell us a bit about the meaning behind the track?
This song and its video are a represention of the personal and social disconnect in relationships. This is a topic heavily debated within social media and a reflection of the songs lyrical content which deals with creating barriers to avoid vulnerability to another, or confrontation within ourselves. We decided to release this first because it was a great example of the songwriting that went into this record. This is the best album weâ€™ve written to date, very focused and executed extremely well. When we first started writing this song, it felt like it could be in a movie soundtrack.
So how did you get to the album title 'Desolate Divine', and what does it mean to you? Over the years of being an artist, I've experienced some of the greatest reward and greatest loss in my entire life. â€˜Desolate Divineâ€™ was written in an honest and vulnerable state of self realization that I am in a current isolated detriment. These songs are a collection of memories and truths of experiences that have led me to a state of unaccompanied strife that I no longer want to carry. They are stories of damage taken and damage given the same. The only way to abandon this state of apathetic vulnerability is to convict myself, share it, and destroy it.
Can you elaborate on some of the other main themes and influences that run throughout the album? The album in general deals with social disconnect, self destructive behavior, and themes thoughtout dealing with vulnerability within relationships. I guess I’ve personally gotten to a place where Ive become increasingly decensitized to being vulnerable. This is a result from being hurt and was definitely a heavy theme and focus on the record.
On this album we've read that you went "out of your comfort zone" whilst putting the record together, so can you elaborate on that, as well as how it compares to anything you've done before? Honestly when I was growing up I wasn’t “vocal”. I was introverted and very socially withdrawn. Any time I make my life an open book it can be very uncomfortable. The reward is shaping it into my own art creatively and giving away to another to help, inspire, or motivate them. It’s also been a struggle writing with other artists. I can’t just write with anyone, I have to have a relationship of trust and respect established before I can work with someone. Our band and its following is extremely close, and the integrity involved is something some producers/writers just don’t understand. This record however was created with 100% trust and respect to ourselves, our fans, our label, and the art direction involved.
Who was the album produced by, and how would you say they helped shape the record? Dan Korneff in Long Island NY. Dan is the king of tone, and played a pivotal role in the sound of this album. He was extremely patient and worked with us diligently to create a sound unique and unlike anything else right now. This record has a very unique and organic sound, and these songs sound massive. That’s not an easy feat when you don’t solely rely on production and backing tracks to be a band.
How would you say the sound of The Color Morale has grown since 'Hold On Pain Ends'? That was a specific time and a specific record that had a reason. This album is entirely different. I no longer do screaming vocals. This record is based heavily on lyrical content and songwriting with focused melody first. Every song was written on a piano melodically before I sang a single note. This was new for us for sure as a band. Aaron and I spent a lot of time in LA co-writing this record with writers like Scott Stevens, Arnold Lanni, Matt Wentworth, Erik Ron, and Courtney Ballard.
Also, looking back on 'Hold On Pain Ends', how happy are you with this release still, and what do you think it has done for The Color Morale? This record was definitely rushed. We wrote the entire thing in about a month. The guitars had pretty flat and unexciting tones, and most of the vocals were scratch place holders. You can’t always have things perfect and for the situation and timing, this record came out great. We weren’t happy with many factors within the album, but the message and the lyrical content resonated very well. I will never forget the closing self titled track that consisted of 37 fans singing the chorus to end that album. That moment will always remain priceless.
What else can we expect to see from The Color Morale in 2016? We’ll be releasing ‘Desolate Divine’ Aug 19th and announcing tours non stop overseas and in the States! You can preorder it now on Apple Music and iTunes. Preorder packages are available as well at merchnow.com/catalogs/the-color-morale. This record came out incredible and we worked extremely hard to create it. We are very excited to show everyone!
How did your most recent UK tour go? It was a long one that’s for sure but it went well. All of the fests were the main reason for the tour so I can definitely say that they were the highlights. We also played some places we’ve never been. We did some more intimate shows in some smaller towns. Really cool to play places we wouldn’t normally go.
Touring wise, what else have you been up to this year, and can you give us one or two stand out moments from the road? We began the year recording the new record and hit the road for a short US run in March. Summer fests in Europe and we’ll be in South Africa and Russia later this year. After that, we have a US support slot on a sick tour that we’ll announce soon. Stand out moments from this year. Number one is that I got to watch one of my all time favorite bands, Slayer from side stage. I turned into a little girl at an NSync concert or something. It was embarrassing… but everyone else was doing the same thing so I was in good company. Amazing time! A close second for me on this last tour was meeting Alice Cooper. He was super nice and very happy to talk to me about a million different things. I love the summer festival season! Playing outside, tons of new faces, and sharing the stage with some amazing bands.
So how did you get to the album title 'Polar Similar', and what does it mean to you? It’s something I made up. I visualize two poles and a planet but what we can’t see is that those two poles meet in the middle and if they aren’t connected as one thing they are at least similar or close in a lot of ways. It’s meant to be taken from there and expanded on or interpreted by anyone. I like the idea that there are things unseen that are bigger than we think they are.
We've read that much of 'Polar Similar' centers around abuse, inspired by a tumultuous relationship. So, can you elaborate on this, as well as some of the other main themes and influences that run throughout the album? Yes, some of the songs talk about this subject. I wrote about abuse from different perspectives. From the victims perspective, the onlooker, the abuser themselves. I was in an abusive relationship for some years and I am very distanced from it now, I feel like it’s something I want to talk about and try to make a difference in someone's life. Some of the songs aren’t within that theme but still fit within the flow of the record in a broader sense. Songs like ‘I. The Planet’ are about abuse of power from a national leader standpoint for instance. Some would rather the world burn to nothing so they can rule the ashes. I think it’s a powerful way to start ‘Polar Similar’.
You've just released 'Synthetic Sun', so can you tell us a bit about the meaning behind that specific track? The song comes from the frustration of watching a very close loved one abuse themselves. That helplessness that you have and how it can turn into anger or blame and tear a family apart. The ‘Synthetic Sun’ represents the center of a family or group. A Sun that isn’t real and doesn’t provide real light. Again, something that can be interpreted in many different ways. I prefer not to go into too much detail.
Looking back on 'Wrongdoers', how happy are you with this record still, and what do you think it has done for Norma Jean? I love it! It’s definitely one of my favorite records and recordings we’ve done. It pushes really hard almost the whole way through, and it’s super fun to play those songs live. I think ‘Wrongdoers’ helped reinvent ourselves. Basically, the band started over from scratch and took what we learned over the years of being in different bands and brought it all together.
You guys put this record together in a secluded studio in the woods (Pachyderm Studio), so how did that idea come about, and can you tell us a bit about this whole process? Yes, Pachyderm was a studio that our producer, Josh Barber found out about. It’s where Nirvana recorded ‘In Utero’, as well as Failure’s ‘Comfort’ album. It’s an amazing place. We wanted to be somewhere that was kind of isolated so we could really focus on the record and the emotion behind the songs. The studio allowed us to live there and basically wake and record. No daily commute. And since we were out in the woods, we could track anytime we wanted without any curfew or closing time. We mainly wanted the live room for drums. The live room is massive and allowed us to use a natural room reverb for everything we tracked. The house had an indoor pool so that room ended up being one of the highlights of tracking. We had a second studio there where we tracked some very haunting sounding guitar and keys / piano parts. I went for a handheld approach for vocals which I loved! I haven’t done that since ‘O’God The Aftermath’. Pretty sure I am sold on that approach from here on out. Front to back you are getting a very natural recording but it hit hard!
How did the artwork for 'Polar Similar' come together, and what does it mean to you? We had seen a lot of ideas while we were tracking and after but nothing was really hitting us like we were looking for. One of the ideas had fallen through when we found out there was a licensing issue so we were all pretty discouraged, but it was my Wife Rachel that actually discovered the source of the art. She was looking through really old book archives and showed me. After that, I just searched through them until I found something that popped out to me. It was a series of pictures from an old science lab book. The four rats really stood out to me. I jumped on photoshop and changed one of the rat's color to red and thatâ€™s all I did. After that, I prefer people make their own interpretations of what it means to them without my instruction.
What else can we expect to see from Norma Jean in 2016? We will be on the road as hard as we can, the record drops September 9th. You can preorder the record at
Interview with Alex
How fun was Download, and how has your European tour been going so far? We had a really good time on the main stage. Every time we've played has been a great, it's such a huge festival. The last time we played was 2010, it was raining! At this point we are only a couple of days in, but the European tour has been awesome, and a lot of the shows have sold out! We've also been playing 'Long Live' and 'Do You Know Who You Are' from the new album!
How did Atreyu get back together, and what was it actually like to be back on stage in 2014? Well, we were all talking together and just decided that it was the right time to do it. When we first performed, it was great, you know, it felt like we never stopped doing it. We have been a band for so long, so I guess it was kind of an easy process.
Looking back on â€˜Long Liveâ€™, how happy are you with this record still - and can you tell us a bit about what it means to you? We are stoked! We made the record that we wanted to make, and I also think that it's been well received, which is great. In regards to what it means, you just got to read it, you've got to enjoy it! I want people to read the lyrics, and just decide what it means to them. I want them to interpret this record in their own way. So get out there, buy it, and just decide what it means to you. I used to go out, and buy a record the day it came out, and just read the lyrics. I mean, I don't know, do people do that as much anymore? I really hope so.
How would you say the sound of Atreyu has grown since you first started out? I think it's always evolving, sometimes we want to be really heavy, and then other times we don't want to be as heavy. So there's always this juxtaposition with the band, like a back and forth. It's hard to explain overall, so I'd just say that we are constantly evolving. We want to touch new ground, but not get too far away from old ground!
'A Death-Grip On Yesterday' is ten years old now, so for you, looking back on that album, what do you remember the most from that time, and how would you say this record compares to the rest of the Atreyu records? The producer never showed up to any of the sessions, so we pretty much made the record ourselves, which is rad as we ended up making a really good record on our own. It's one of my favorite Atreyu records, and there's just a lot of good songs on it. Lyrically for me, I think it's pretty spot on. Everything is pretty open, and it's an emotional record, which is what I wanted to do.
What was it like to basically produce it in your own way? It was good. We are kind of used to it anyway, and I don't think that we'd have it any other way. We wouldn't want someone else coming in, and telling us what to do, or how to sound. So yeah, in that way and with that record we were pretty much just doing our own thing!
What was it like to tour the record in full? It was great, it felt like we toured for a really long time, we did a lot of shows! So yeah, all I remember is pretty much just a whirlwind of that! Also yeah, there was one or two songs which I think we have never actually played live, so it was really cool to just cross those off the list.
Have you started on any new material just yet? No, well, we are always kind of working on new stuff, but when it comes to actually cohesively working on a new record, then that could be in January! When it comes to what you can expect from the album, then at the moment I'd just say "who knows"! So just another Atreyu record.
How excited are you to be playing Warped Tour, and how do you go about keeping it cool whilst being on the road for so long!? Yeah, it's our first time back, it's been about ten years. We are only doing it for three weeks, so we can get off it right at the time when I start to lose my steam! Well, you can go workout, eat healthy, take up hobbies that occupy your time, and keep you happy. Basically, you just try and live like you're at home, whilst playing shows.
Touring wise since can you give us some personal highlights since coming back after the hiatus, and what else can we expect to see from Atreyu in 2016? I think Download today would actually be one of them! Yesterday at Nova Rock, we had a couple of thousand people rowing, so yeah, that was pretty memorable! Well for the rest of the year we'll mainly just be touring, and then we'll start work on a new record!
Interview with Benjamin
So how has Download Fest been so far? It's been awesome, the fans have been absolutely incredible, and we are very, very grateful to be here. This seems to be the one that everyone is talking about. I mean, Maiden are here tonight, so how cool is that!? It's just really awesome to be among so many incredible bands.
Also how has the European tour been going so far? We've been to Amsterdam, Germany, Switzerland, Austria, London, and now we are here. Weâ€™d just love to see everything that we haven't seen so far, and just go back to back to everywhere that we have been! As it's just been an absolute pleasure, and an honor to be touring here.
Your latest album 'Dark Before Dawn' peaked on iTunes at #1 in 5 countries, #5 in 15 countries and was Top 10 in 25 countries! So how happy with the response have you been, and what does this kind of success mean to the band? It's incredibly humbling, and we are really thankful. It's really about the fans support, than the bands accomplishments. It's just really all about them. They are the ones that gave us everything we have, and they're the ones that allow us to be here talking to you right now. So we owe everything to the fans, we would be nothing without them, and we'd have zero accomplishments if not for our incredible fans.
How did the current line-up come together? Yeah well I've known a lot of these guys for a very long time. Before we played together Keith and I had toured together, he was in a band called Adelitas Way. Jasen and I had toured together, he was in band called Red. I met Shaun out on the road, and I've known Aaron for over ten years, from the local area. It's just a tremendously talented bunch of guys, and when we got together it was absolutely perfect, and the chemistry was just great. It's been about three years with this line-up, it feels like day one every day, and I'm just grateful to be with these guys.
So this is the cemented line-up now then right? Absolutely, it wasn't like it was a business thing, these guys are my friends. Whereas before it was more like a business relationship, I guess there's nothing wrong with that, as that works for some people, but that's not what any of us want to be in a band for. It is kind of a business, but that will never be the overriding force for us. It'll always be friendship first. All that matters is that the music is the best it can possibly be, and you make great music with people that like to have a great relationship.
So what do you think has kept this line-up so solidified? Well, we say it all the time, and it might sound funny but it's the truth. It's not about the things that we have in common, it's about the things that we all think suck. That makes it work. People can like the same things, but somebody can still do something that you think sucks. So when you all think that the same things suck, it makes such a wonderful relationship because nobody is going to do anything like that because we all have the same opinion on it.
What songs are you really enjoying performing live from the album? Well I'm really enjoying performing 'Ashes of Eden', because it's our new single. It's a little bit more of a slower song, more of a ballad. That one as well as 'Failure' & 'Angels Fall'.
What else can we expect to see from Breaking Benjamin in 2016? Well, we are just going to be touring, and I think we are going to do another album within the year!
Interview with Gustav
Touring wise, what have you been up to this year, and can you give us a couple of personal highlights from your time on the road? We've actually spent the first few months of this year writing and recording our new album so we haven't toured that much. however we're now on our first ever Vans Warped Tour and it's a pleasure and a privilege to be surrounded by so many great bands, bands that in some cases we grew up listening to like Every Time I Die, New Found Glory and Yellowcard. It's been great looking back each day as we play and seeing bands that we admire watching our set.
You guys have managed to do really well in America. So what do you enjoy so much about performing there, and what do you think it takes for a UK band to become successful over there? It takes a lot of things. We were very lucky to have our first ever single â€˜Bonesâ€™ go to number one on the rock radio circuit which helped us to get back over here time and time again, and allowed us to grow our audience by supporting bands on tour here. we were the first British band since Bush to have that happen which tells you how special and unusual it was for that to happen. It's very expensive to get over, and because of the size of the country takes a long time to tour here and build things up. Fundamentally what I like is that there's a real appetite for rock music over here and it's perhaps not as niche a genre as it is in the UK.
Also, how is Warped Tour going, and what's it been like to perform some of your new songs live? It's been great performing new songs as it's always nice to reenergise your set and keep things fresh for yourselves as the people playing the songs. It's great to see how audiences react to songs that they haven't heard before and we're enjoying it. Warped has been amazing, it's hard work but it's great to be a part of such a passionate community of music fans, all the people that work here from the stage managers to the press ladies love what they do and contribute to making Warped such a unique touring experience.
You've just premiered your new single 'Mad World', so can you tell us a bit about the meaning behind that one? It feels like we're living in strange times and I just wanted us to have a song that talked about that a bit without being too school kid political about it. it was fun to play with post apocalyptic imagery a little and paint a picture. fundamentally it's just a song with some attitude and swagger and is a lot of fun to play.
So, how did you get to the album title 'Echoes', and what does it mean to you? It's about the fact that when writing the record I was in a place where I'd ended a serious long term relationship, we'd lost an original band member, and we'd changed record labels. it was a time of upheaval and so â€˜Echoesâ€™ is about not living in the past or being stuck reliving memories of good times past but rather looking towards the future and not focusing on memories or 'Echoes' of times past that need to be put to bed.
Can you elaborate on some of the other main themes and influences that run throughout the album? It's about looking forwards and not backwards and not focussing on the echoes of the past in different ways, be it reliving old memories because you don't want to let things go, or focussing on lessons learned from those experiences.
For those that might not know, can you tell us why Ben Jolliffe decided to leave Young Guns? It was on great terms and our lives were simply headed in different directions. he wanted to settle down and we wanted to push the band to greater heights than we'd ever scaled before and he couldn't commit to the degree that we needed him to. we're still great friends and that won't change, we just wanted different things!
What has it been like for you guys to put this album together without him? it was actually really refreshing and it felt like a fresh start for us. the dynamic changed, writing songs became easy again and having Chris Kamrada come in and kill it on the drums made us excited, even playing older songs that we maybe didn't enjoy as much is fun now that someone new is adding their flavour to them.
How did you end up working with David Bendeth, and how would you say he helped shape the album? We'd spoken about doing ‘Ones and Zeros’ with him, but it didn't work out for various reasons. We share a manager with Of Mice and Men and when they delayed their studio time with him he had five weeks free and we jumped at the chance to record with someone of his calibre. He helped us have faith in ourselves as musicians and challenged us to be better song writers and musicians than we'd been before. He helped give the album a really 'live' and spontaneous feel and the record wouldn't be what it is without him.
This is your third album with Windup Records, so can you tell us a bit about how you originally signed with them, as well as what you like so much about working with them? They loved our album ‘Bones’ and were passionate about it and presented us with a great plan for what they wanted to do with it. They worked very hard to make our very first US single a number 1 and have backed us all the way ever since. They are engaging and involved and believe in the band and that's what you really want out of the team that you work with when promoting and pushing your band. We're very thankful.
How would you say the sound on 'Echoes', compares to anything you've done before? It feels like a return to the spirit of some of our older material in some ways, but is just basically an immediate, urgent attitude filled record that makes a statement. It feels like a line in the sand and a statement that we are here and are good at what we do. It's my favourite body of work that we've done.
'All Our Kings Are Dead' is now six years old. So, can you tell us a bit about what you remember from putting that record together, as well as what it went on to achieve for the representation of Young Guns? We were finding our feet, sleeping on studio floors and just trying to write the best record we could with the time and resources we had. our friend and long term collaborator Dan Weller helped steer the ship and we couldn't actually believe that we were getting to do a full length at the time! I'm still proud of it, it is the sound of a bunch of guys finding their feet and trying to announce themselves to the world.
How excited are you for your upcoming tour with Billy Talent, and what can attending fans expect? We're back with a vengeance and will give every show 100% percent. playing with great bands like that inspires you to work hard and be better every day and we can't wait to get back to Europe - it's been too long! we're so excited. there will be new songs, old songs and we're out there to meet new people and impress with our performances.
What else can we expect to see from Young Guns in 2016? We'll drop ‘Echoes’ in september, be in America at that time for festivals and some headline shows, then back to europe with BT in October before coming back to the USA in november. We have a busy year!
Interview with Mark & Eddy
How has Slam Dunk been going for you guys so far? Mark: Good, we had some issues earlier. My head wouldn’t work, no sound out of it, and we had a couple of issues yesterday, but other than that it’s been great, such an awesome festival! We loved it last year, so we couldn’t believe that we were lucky enough to come back again, and jump up from the smaller stage to the main stage. It’s mind blowing really. Eddy: The amount of people that are coming out to watch us, I mean today, was by far the most people we’ve ever played in front of.
After the loss of festivals like Hevy Fest, how important do you think Slam Dunk is to the UK? Mark: Massively, it’s such a shame with Hevy Fest, especially for us, as it was a bit more of a local festival. To have a festival on that sort of scale, was amazing. But for it to not work out and by having whatever issues it had, it’s just really sad. You just don’t want things like that to stop. The scale and organisation of what goes on over three days at Slam Dunk, sort of reminds us of shorter version of Warped Tour. Eddy: Slam Dunk is getting better and better. It’s going to be around for a long time,
How did you get to the album title ‘Blush’, and what does it mean to you? Eddy: Glenn! We knew we wanted it to be one word, to kind of be a little bit different from the last record. We had a few ideas knocking about, but Glenn just said that one day, and it just stuck! There’s no story behind it.
How did you end up signing to Hopless records? Mark: It came about when we were out recording. Basically our manager Stu came down to the studio and was just like “this is what’s going to happen!”. They work with No Sleep, and he said that they wanted to take us off that and put us on Hopeless. There are some incredible bands on there. Eddy: It was a progression to go up to No Sleep, it’s been great so far, and I’m really happy about it!
How does a song normally come together for you guys? Eddy: Mark and I sit around my house. Drink a lot of coffee, sit in the front room with a couple of guitars and a Macbook around, and we just put an idea down, email it to everyone else, and then from that, we all try and make it a full song. Mark: It’s probably the way we are the most productive. We find it quite difficult when four of us are in a room, trying to write something from nothing, it just doesn’t happen. It becomes a very furstrating experience. The best way for us to write, is for Eddy and I to just get together, create some ideas. It’s just how we’ve always done it.
So you don’t write on the spot sort of thing? Mark: Yeah, we tried to do that, but it’s normally stuff that we end up scrapping. Or we’ll be like “yeah, there’s a bit of an idea, we’ll take it away, and maybe we’ll come back to it!”, so yeah, that way of writing just works the best for us. I guess everyone does it differently, but that suites us.
Can you tell us about some of the themes and influences that run throughout ‘Blush’? Mark: It’s all just personal life really. We’re not particulary good at making stories up, or anything like that. So we just write about what we know. That’s just what we do. Eddy: Relationships, family and that’s it really!
What was it like to record in LA, and did you get up to much whilst you were out there? In LA with Beau. So the guy who did our first record, we were lucky enough to go back out and record with him again. We spent so long recording. We had long days, I mean one night we tried to go and see Frank Iero who was just down the road, but we didn’t finish in the studio until ten. We just worked, we had a lot to do, and we had a lot to work on. We went out there with eight sort of demos really, to make the record, and two of which were instrumantals. So we just literally grafted when we got out there, worked on ideas, structures, rewrote stuff, took bits out. Eddy: It was so much fun, but we had quite little time to write/record it while we were there. It was an incredible experience, but it was hard work, as we were just working non-stop.
What’s it been like for you guys to grow as a band in America then? Eddy: Warped Tour is incredible, for us, such a small band, so far away from home. The amount of people that came and sang along every day, it was crazy. And then once we recorded the last record, we had a headline show at the Chain Reaction, and we sold it out. It was crazy. Mark: Yeah, it’s been insane. It felt like we were at home in a way. It was almost like we were playing London, or something like that. Just the reaction that we got, it was crazy.
What do you think it is that fans love so much about Moose Blood? Mark: I don’t know, and I don’t know if it’s for us to say. We are just trying to work hard, we love it, and it’s all we ever wanted to do. Apart from being a professional footballer. We just want to be as busy as we possibly can. Eddy: We are just trying to make the most of it while we still can, and whilst we are still lucky to have these opportunities be given to us. Mark: Yeah, the album might flop when it comes out, and then, that will be that over with! So we are making the most of it while these opportunities are here. It’s just really exciting, and we just feel very lucky. The things that we’ve got lined up for this year, are just things that we never thought would ever happen. So we just want to work, play as much as we can, and go to as many places as we can.
So what was it like to go back to the same producer as your first record? Eddy: We wouldn’t work with anyone else, he just gets us as a band, where we want to go with the way things sound, and how we want to be as a band. He just understands it. We’d turn up like first thing in the morning, and he’d already be in there, and he would also still be working on stuff when we went home. He really cared. Mark: Amazing, The experience of the first record working with him, and being with him made that experience what it was. He just gets it, if we are struggling with bits here and there, he’ll really push us, and attempt to get the best out of us. He sort of bounces of us, and then that gives him ideas, and he is just fantastic. And like Eddy says, we wouldn’t want to work with anyone else. He isn’t someone that’s there to just press record. He produces us properly, he will tear us apart.
How would you say you’ve grown musically since your first album? Mark: We worked a lot on our song structures. We were really working hard on the choruses, we felt it was important, and it was maybe something that we lacked on the first record. So for us, it was kind of just like structuring songs properly, and thinking a lot more about it. Instead of just maybe putting together bits of music to make a song. It might be a bit more poppy, purely because of the song structures. There are mabye two songs on the record that sound a lot different to that, and by being a bit slower. We just think they are better written songs, and we gave a lot more attention to it. We had to make it better than the first record, we knew that going in. We couldn’t just make the same record again, it has to be better. So I think, that’s what we’ve done! We’ll have to wait and see.
Would you say there was any pressure whilst putting ‘Blush’ together? Mark: A little bit, only from ourselves really. It was coming from no one else. Maybe because we are a small band, so there isn’t really a masive pressure on us, like you have to make an album that’s going to sell. You want to leave the process knowing that you’ve put everything you can into making that record. And it isn’t something that you walk away with feeling like “we could do better than that”. I don’t think we can do better than that. Eddy: We love being in the band, we love the band, and we love the music. So we just wanted to be as happy as we could, and just make the best record that we could. We couldn’t of done anymore than what we did. We are really proud of it.
How excited are you to be on Warped Tour, and what memories do you have from performing there in the past? Extremely excited! We always have a blast doing festivals and this is one we've all grown up attending. My first time playing Warped Tour was in 2003 and I just remember being so nervous to play in front of a couple hundred kids. We played under a tent and we had to stop our set short because the kids were going so crazy, they almost brought it down. They don't have stages under tents anymore.
What made you want to do a live acoustic release? It wasn't something we were originally into the idea of doing whatsoever. We had been talking about doing a small, intimate acoustic tour for a long while, but that was really it. We realized early on when we did that tour that the sets were very special. Each show was very unique and we decided to try & capture that. The last two shows were recorded and we thought the fans would really appreciate those recordings as much as we did.
This is your first live album, do you think we can expect to hear a full band set up live release in the future? Interview with Nick
We'd love to do that! It's also something we've talked about for a long while now. It's all timing to us. We'll know when the time is right to do that properly. We don't want to just record a show -- we'd like it to be much more intimate. I'm a huge documentary fan, so I'd prefer it to play out more like a movie as opposed to just the live show.
What made you want to cover 'Santeria' & 'Iris', and can you tell us a bit about what it was like to put those songs together with a Sleeping With Sirens approach? 'Santeria' is a song that Kellin would sometimes do vocal warm ups to, or just sing, in general. So it just made sense for us to try acoustically. 'Iris' is a song the band did a cover of that ended up getting a bunch of attention on YouTube years ago. That was easy enough to revisit. We really don't have a set "way" to go about covering them. We just naturally jam on those songs and see what feels right for all of us with giving the song justice.
Was there much pressure when you guys were performing and knew that you were recording for a live album? Absolutely! It made me really nervous every night. When you're playing through electric guitars and loud amps, you can flub up every now & again without anyone really hearing you mess up. Playing acoustically in a quiet, more intimate setting makes you play better. I couldn't have as many cocktails before those sets.
Looking back on 'Madness' how happy are you with this record still, and what do you think it has done for the representation of Sleeping With Sirens? I'm extremely happy with ‘Madness’. It was my first album with the band. But even without the bias statement, I think it's an expanded sound the band already had. Do I wish we would've had more time? Maybe. There was a lot of pressure when we made the album. We had recorded another album that we ended scratching completely and then started fresh going into ‘Madness’ -- even though we were all burnt out. We definitely learned a lot making that album. All positive stuff.
What songs are you really enjoying performing live from 'Madness', and why? I love playing 'Kick Me' and 'We Like It Loud'. Just fun, aggressive songs.
How excited are you for your upcoming performance at Reading/Leeds festival, and what can attending fans expect? We are soooo amped!! I can't even begin to describe how much fun we had when we played Reading/Leeds a few years ago. It was absolutely insane and still goes down as some of my favorite shows I've ever played in my career. We'll see if we can outdo ourselves from the last time. Fans can expect a high intensity set and we hope everyone will go as crazy as we'll be going.
Can you give us a couple of personal highlights from touring the UK over the years? Our last show in London at the Roundhouse was a personal highlight to me. The history of that venue, the fans. The overall experience was beyond words for me. We truly consider the UK a second home for us. I have more fun every time I come over and we've made some amazing friends there. I'm ready to move to the UK.
Have you started work on any new material just yet? If so, how's that going, and what do you think fans can expect? We have started on new material. It's still very early stages. We've played some new songs to a very few select people and we've been told they're the best Sirens songs they've ever heard. I tend to agree.
How would you say the sound of Sleeping With Sirens has grown since you joined the band? We sound better with me. I'm kidding. I think I add a different dynamic as far as sound, but also personality. I've been in bands a lot longer and my music tastes are extremely eclectic. That's brought new flavor to the band.
What else can we expect to see from Sleeping With Sirens in 2016? Lots of touring. But also lots of things I can't say yet. 2016 - 2017 are going to very defining years for the band, and no one has a clue what's about to hit them.
Interview with Sam
We're at 2000 Trees! How excited are you to be here? Yeah, very. We're honestly talking about it before we came down here, that we're very excited to play. We haven't played here for five years, but that was like one of the best first festival experiences we had. So I'm shocked that it has taken us five years to come back, honestly.
Playing stuff live for the first time can be quite scary right? I used to absolutely shit myself doing it. We are playing a brand new song tonight at Trees, which we have only played like, four times. We're pretty under rehearsed for it, so I'm a bit nervous with that one, but only because I really, really love the song. But yeah, we've got a couple of bad memories of playing new songs live for the first time! It can go horribly wrong, but no one has heard the song before, so at the same time you can just do whatever you want! All the amps catching fire, yeah, that was supposed to happen!
So, how did you get to the album title 'GLA' (I'm guessing it's a reference to Glasgow?), and what does it mean to you? It's kind of a two sided thing. Firstly, we've done three records now, and everyone always likes to find out about the meaning of titles etc, and we felt like we were done kind of trying to explain things like that. Where we are from in particular, has always kind of defined us as a band. People always pick up my Glaswegian accent, it was a reccuring thing to happen. So we were just like "let's not mess about, call the album where we are from, and sort of marry those two things once and for all". That kind of contributed towards the songwriting, how we picked the tracks, and the general attitude. Going through a bit of a change in that sense. It wasn't a deep conversation, it just helps us be ourself, as where we are from is the thing we know the most about, and it just helps us stay that little bit more grounded. We are at quite an exciting point with our band right now, so getting to go around and talk about where you're from is pretty relaxing and enjoyable.
What was it like to be an upcoming band in Glasgow? A mixture of amazing, the best thing ever, plus ten times harder than being anywhere south of Manchester. The music industry is based in London so we made about 100 trips to London, and they never seemed quick, it was always like a minimal travel time of 8 hours. So we'd go for gigs, or even if it was a last minute interview for something. We were always at the bottom of the pile for convenience. It was difficult that way, but not in a sob story kind of way, as it actually really helped us not getting caught up in all of that. It was all essentially bullshit, like someone works at a magazine, they get promoted, then someone else would end up on the front cover. Things like that used to frustrate us, because you get into music because you are really passionate about it, and want to do it for the rest of your life, and then you start to see the smoke and mirrors behind it all. We were tucked away in Glasgow, where there's a thriving local scene, and all these different venues/bars, and this little like Seattle in the 90s esq scene. There was all these bands coming up helping each other, so it was really exciting, but it was difficult.
Going down to London did show how much you werenâ€™t just in it for one night as well though? Yeah, definitely. There were times when we nearly said no, like "again!?" three days after we'd just been down or something. Looking back it was all fun and worth it. We love going to London now. We know it quite well now, we've been going for like ten years so we know certain pubs, restaurants, and we have lots of friends there. I think we were probably scared of it. We all had like zero money. We'd get like a twelve pack of pita bread, and some hummus, and we'd eat that for lunch. That was the life source, but it was pretty smart actually! I was healthier then, than I am now.
So itâ€™s had a massive impact for you guys then? It definitely has. We've grown up, and become adults, because of this band. It's given us a lot of responsibilities, and just moments of awesomness, we've been genuinely in awe of the places we've been, and the people we've met, other bands we've got to play with, and the festivals we've got to be at. That kind of gives you a sense of worth, and gives you a bit of confidence in who you are becoming. Once you get a bit of time to adjust to that, it's kind of like finding your voice, and learning how to use it. And that's where we have arrived with this album. We've learnt how to use who we are confidently now, rather than tip toeing in and out of it, pretending to be something. It's like, I like just being me, I want to tell everyone about it, and again, that's why we named it after Glasgow.
What made you want to release 'No Sleep' as the first single from the album, and can you tell us a bit about the meaning behind the track? Yeah, it doesn't have any meaning, which is why we went with that first, just because it's kind of dumb rock, it's literally spelt out for people, like the builds and stuff, in and out of choruses. Ross our bass player came up with a riff, and the idea of having a bit of a throwback for us, to simplify it all. The reason the four of us are in a band, is because we love playing loud rock music. We hadn't really done it the way we really wanted to for a couple of years, we got a bit distracted with it. Trying to be perfect, and prove to ourselves that we could write a perfect song, whatever that was. I think when we heard that riff it was really refreshing, we wanted people to have the same like first experience of the album.
We've read that you guys â€œhave changed your approach to writing and recordingâ€? with 'GLA', so can you elaborate on this, as well as how the record compares overall to 'Great Divide'? It's really different. Consciously we didn't say, "oh we don't like this stuff we've done before, let's take that out". It kind of happened a bit more naturally, because of the way they were written. I used to sit on one guitar, and if something sounded good on guitar I would start putting melodies and words over it, and take it to the guys. We'd all be in one room for months and months on end, sculpting all these songs. We've done it so many times, it wasn't like it was getting boring as we love making music, but it was getting a bit stale, a bit samey, and our results were getting a bit samey. We were falling into habits that were making it sound like Twin Atlantic, doing the same tricks over and over again. So Ross and I just set up little home studios, and wrote more kind of fuller/finished songs, sending them to each other, and then on to the producer. Before we knew it, we kind of finished the album. We didn't really mean to do it that quickly, because all we've ever known is that it takes about a year to write and record. With this one it took like four or five months to write, and we recorded it in six weeks. We didn't use like a big anologue board, all of this studio stuff. We never used like a conventional studio, as we recorded in a converted garage at someones house. It felt like a much more fun/quick process. We were reacting rather than pre-planning it all.
How much of an input did the producer have? Probably more than ever. Whoever has produced us before, has always had a huge impact. These guys had made hundreds of albums, so we were learning little tricks, because we'd never done it before. Whereas this time, the producer made us really engage in the process to make the whole album work. We'd always try to make it sound like a body of work, but we kind of haven't nailed it until now. So that was the main thing, as our producer had us focus on that more than ever.
Touring wise, what have you been up to this year, and can you give us a couple of highlights from your time on the road? Well I've been all over the place this year, in a good way. We were in Germany first, then Canada, then Eastern Europe, and now we are in central Europe again, as I'm in Germany today. It's all been going swimmingly. Highlights, we did our biggest shows in January in Germany, so that was pretty cool. The Canadian tour was really fun actually, as well as Eastern Europe as I got to go to a bunch of places that I'd never been before, which is something that I really enjoy doing. So it was cool to see some different parts of the world.
Okay, so can you tell us a bit about how you first got into playing guitar? Rock n roll sort of hit me like a tidal wave when I was about ten or eleven years old. I got into Maiden and Queen around the same time, and it was just this sort of light switch moment as the very first thing I wanted to do was play the guitar. I like to participate. I kind of bugged my parents for a guitar at Christmas, and they got me one of those Argos starter packs, a kind of crappy strat copy, with a lead and an amp. I just started hammering away, and I just taught myself. The big kind of thing that I did was that I was really into Counting Crows, well technically my sister was into Counting Crows as I was listening to stuff like Megadeth, it's just Counting Crows was a lot easier to play. I had a sheet that had every open chord on it, and a lot of Counting Crows songs are open chords. So by process of trial and error I figured out how to play all of the songs on that record, and that's just how I taught myself to play guitar.
When did you first realize that your solo work had potential to be a career lasting move? I don't know, that's an interesting question. I mean the reason why I played solo shows after Million Dead broke up was partly because the band had broken up and I had to do something with my time. I didn't want to be in a band per say as I felt quite burned after what happened at the end of Million Dead, which was that we all essentially fell out with each other. I wanted to do something on my own, and I wanted to keep playing shows. The other thing that is important to mention was that I wanted to do something outside of my comfort zone. I think it's really important to push yourself as an artist/musician or however you want to put it. Playing solo shows was something that I had no idea how to do, so I gave it a go, and it was terrifying at first, but again that was kind of the point. I don't know at what point I realized it was actually going somewhere. It took a good few years before I was playing in front of the amount of people that Million Dead had been playing in front of. So there was a long period of time where everybody, my friends and my family, my mum, and everyone in the music industry had thought that I'd lost my mind. But I stuck with it, I guess when I started playing bigger shows than I did with Million Dead was a kind of pivotal moment for me.
â€˜Sleep is for the weekâ€™ will turn ten years old soon. So what did that record do for you, and will you do any anniversary shows? We might do some anniversary shows, but I'm not sure about a whole tour. One of the things is I did quite a lot of stuff in quick succession at the beginning of my career and I don't want to particularly turn into a heritage show just yet, if you know what I mean? If I'm doing a 'Sleep Is For The Week' tour then I'm doing a 'Love Ire & Song' tour the year after, etc. It's fun looking back, that record is enduring to me at this point. There's a lot of things which if I was being strict about that I would change or do differently now, but I don't really see the point in throwing that trail of thought too far, as it was what I was able to do at the time. It was a learning experience for me and Ben Lloyd who is now the guitarist in Sleeping Souls, we were making that record together at our bass players house, and we were just feeling our way around making an album, we had never really done it before and I feel like we learned a lot in the process. I feel like 'Love Ire & Song' was a better record because we had gone through the process of making 'Sleep Is For The Week' kind of completely on our own.
Whatever happened made it as it is? Yeah, quite. I'm proud of the songs that are on that record, for what they represent for someone who was 24 and didn't really know what they were doing.
What musicians have influenced you in recent years? There's a record by MeWithoutYou called 'It's All Crazy! It's All False! It's All a Dream! It's Alright' and that record had a huge impact on me when I heard it a few years ago. The Hold Steady changed my opinion about the future of rock n roll. Nick Cave is also an endless lyrical inspiration. There's a lot of them, and the reason for their influence is that they make good music, which is just interesting to me.
How happy have you been with the response to 'Positive Songs for Negative People' so far, and what do you think it has done for the representation of Frank Turner? I'm still very happy with it as a record itself. It hits all of its notes, and it does everything that I want it do as a record. Both when we were making it, and still now in retrospect it feels like kind of the conclusoionary statement of a certain period of my songwriting and of my music. It's not to say that I'm about to stop doing anything, but I certainly feel like I kind of put a lot of stuff to bed with that record, and I feel like the field is wide open for me right now to do something quite different, which is what I'm planning on doing next.
What made you want to have yourself perform a lot of electric guitar on this record, and on a live basis what's that been like for you? Well I think every record that I make is kind of reactionary to the previous one in a way. 'Tape Deck Heart' was kind of layered, and it was a very sort of dense album, which is fine for what it was but with 'Positive Songs' I wanted to make something that was short/sharp/direct. Where the songs were kind of three minutes or less, and kind of got going straight away. Lyrically simpler, I just really wanted it to be straight down the line.
Leading on from that, what songs are you really enjoying performing live from the new album at the moment, and why? Well, I generally enjoy performing the ones that people like to listen to. I think 'Get Better' has sort of become a main stay of the set, and I don't think that one is going to go away any time soon. 'Mittens' as well actually. I like songs that get the crowd juiced up, that's my job.
Ben Morse and yourself are putting together a kind of retrospective gallery of your career. So can you tell us a bit about how that idea came together, and what it's been like to work on? Ben was a guy that I met as he sent me an email out of the blue, maybe even a MySpace message inquiring about taking some photos, and making a music video. At the time no one was doing neither of those things for me. He sounded nice on the email, so we met up, hung out, and we just sort of got along. It's kind of been fun, because I feel like he has learnt his trade at the same time as I've been learning mine. We are both much better at what we do now, compared to when we first started out. It's kind of nice, because I was looking through the photos for the expedition the other day, and Ben has been hanging out doing stuff with us for the past eight years now, and there's a lot of cool stuff there. We've become very close friends, and it's lovely to see him excelling at what he does.
As a touring musician, what personal goals do you have that you still want to achieve? Well I want to get to countries that I haven't been to so far. I want to get to South America, that's something that I'm currently working on, as it's a difficult place to get to, but we are working on that. Anytime I go to somewhere that I haven't been before I'm always excited, it's always a good thing. Beyond that I just want to play good shows. Keep what I do interesting, not repeat myself and make my shows a worthwhile experience for those that come to them.
The track 'Song For Josh' had such a huge emotional connection to me when I saw it live, as I lost a close friend in a similar way. So can you tell us how you go about putting together songs that can have such an intense kind of impact? In terms of the artistry it's kind of difficult to talk about it, as it's songwriting and it's what I do, and I tend to write about things that have an emotional impact on me. In terms of that song specifically, I got the news about what happened to Josh when I was on tour in Europe with a band called Lucero who are not only good friends of mine, but introduced me to Josh in the first place. I don't want to use the word fortunate to describe any part of that situation but it was kind of reassuring for me to be on the road with people who knew Josh really well. It meant that every night on that tour we would all just talk about our grief, and talk about Josh, and how we missed him. The song sort of crept out in the middle of all of that.
What have you enjoyed the most about touring in America, and what do you think it takes for a British musician to succeed over there? I like touring America because it's endless. It's a culture and society built on movement, so it's very well set up for touring. There's also the stereotype of a band that goes over and does New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, and when the world doesn't fall in their lap, they go off in a huff. We've done the hard graft touring in the States, we've played like Ohio more times than I can remember, and I think I've done 43 states out of 50 now. We've really put the work in. It feels honest to me, and you have to put the miles in if you're going to make an impact in that country.
How excited are you for your upcoming slot at Reading/Leeds festival, and what can attending fans expect? Well it's exciting for me because it's the tenth year in the row where I've been there. I mean we're slightly cheating on that in a sense that we're including Mongol Horde, but then that is a band that I'm in so that works for me. Reading and Leeds have always been really good to me in my career. Every year that I've played there has always felt like a moment to mark time and see how my career has built in the previous year, and it's always felt good on that level. I just appreciate them being supportive of me. Reading is the festival that I went to when I was a kid so it has that kind of impact for me as well.
Just like anyone else, you have your own opinion when it comes to politics. But at one point one, when you voiced them out, you received a lot of death threats, so what happened there, and can you tell us a bit about that harsh time? Well an awful lot of people spent their busy days making assumptions about me, who I am, and what I think, and when confronted with the reality of what I actually think, they threw their toys out of their prams. I'm at losses to see why I should care about that personally, but it wasn't a particularly nice time, receiving hate mail, and death threats from idiots. None of them could spell. It certainly taught me that the tone and intelligence of an awful lot of the public debate, particularly in the context of the music scene is laughably lame, and I'm just not really interested in being a part of that. So yeah, I tend not to share my opinions, because I'm not interested in getting into arguments with idiots.
What else can we expect to see from Frank Turner in 2016? There's some bits of news coming down the pipeline, but I'm not yet at liberty to divulge. There's some big news for the UK coming which is exciting. I'm on tour right now, the album has nearly been out for a year, and we're probably going to tour for near another year after this. Keeping us busy and moving. That's what I want to do with my life, so I'm pleased about that.
Can you tell us a bit about how you first got into playing guitar, and who your main influences are? I got into playing guitar, probably through my older brother. He was a huge Zepplin fan when I was a kid. He pretty much had every record. One day he was watching â€˜The Song Remains the Sameâ€™, then me and my little brother watched it, and it just blew my mind. I was so impressed, like playing live could be that incredible, and after seeing Jimmy Page I just really wanted to pick up a guitar.
As the guitarist of Billy Talent, you get to play some insanely cool riffs. So when it comes to playing live, can you give us a couple of songs that you really just love getting to perform, and maybe why that is? Probably 'Devil On my Shoulder'. It kind of has every element of what I love about blues, and rock, and it even has a couple of jazz chords that I just threw in there. It sums up my style really well. It's a really fun one to play live. That one for sure, and 'Fallen Leaves', as it's just another riff that's super fun to play, really staccato, and it has a really cool descending scale to it. I love riffs that give a little bit of suspense, and with that song, the band all just kicks in as well.
You just did a huge show at Rock Am Ring in Germany. So what do you think it is that Germany in particular like so much about Billy Talent? Germany was one of the countries that really embraced us right from the beginning. On our first album, when it came out, we started to grow organically over there. When we first played, it was to 85 people, and in some really small clubs in Hamburg, Munich and Berlin. The next thing you know we were playing every smaller town as well as the bigger ones. So we really toured heavily over there from 2003 - 2006. It worked out for us, because by the time our second and third records came out, we were really well known over there. You've got to put in the hard work, and put it in the touring. Especially when you realize that one country in particular really likes your first album. Youâ€™ve got to go over there and tour more!
What's it been like to perform the new songs live? We are currently playing three songs live, 'Big Red Gun', 'Afraid of Heights', 'Louder Then The DJ'. With Rock Am Ring, we were still figuring out our current set list then, so I don't know if that was the best idea, but we all thought it would be great to open with a new song, instead of doing the same old where we would just open with a song that everyone knows. That was probably a one time only thing, but we'll be playing a lot more this summer, and in the fall. Maybe not first, but then again, that depends, because after the album comes out we can just play it first, as people would of heard it!
When did you first start producing the music Billy Talent creates yourself, and what is that whole process like for you?
It's really fun, and it's been fun from day one. When we were called Pezz, rehearsing in my parents basement John had brought in a four track recorder that he got one day. I started recording not only our first demo, but other bands, and my other band that I was in at the time. It was just w with Ian something that I really enjoyed doing and here I am still just doing that. This new record, Billy Talent II & Dead Silence would of been the three albums that I would of produced so far.
It must be interesting to have that approach? Yeah, we've got a studio in Toronto, that we kind of invested in, a building that we could rehearse in years ago. I've sort of been collecting gear, and we've built it into a studio. 75% of the record was recorded there. The only thing that wasn't recorded there was the drums. We've got it really dialed in now, as the sounds that are coming out of that place are pretty amazing.
So, how did you get to the album title 'Afraid of Heights', and what does it mean to you? Well 'Afraid of Heights' is a bit of a metaphor for where we are right now in the world as people. I mean with everything that's been happening, like for you guys in the UK with the BREXIT vote. I respect the decisions that people make but it just seems that everybody wants to go back to something that doesn't exist anymore. I think we need to embrace the change, embrace the future. So the title for 'Afraid of Heights' is a metaphor for that. Like why are we not embracing this?
The guitar work on the actual track 'Afraid of Heights' is really cool. Can you tell us a bit about how that came together? We were on the Warped Tour about four years ago, and I was just playing guitar in the back of the bus. The drums actually came first, like that drum pattern I thought was really cool. So I programmed that drum pattern in, and I was just fooling around on guitar, and that opening riff just laid in perfectly right on top of it. It was really fun. I always bring a recorder with me on tour, and I had this groove going and I love when a riff just comes up in your head, and it lays in perfectly over something else. It also had a cool back beat to it. With the rest of the song, it went through so many different incarnations over the years to how it is now on the record.
W C so be of D
W is ha pr se
N ha ar re de gu he
Ir as w ju re co
Can you tell us a bit about â€˜Louder Than The DJâ€™?
When it first started out, it was kind of a fun throwback song to all of our favorite bands from the 70s. Like The lash, The Sex Pistols, and the UK punk bands. It's got that sound to it. We thought it would be fun to write a ong about being in defense of rock n roll, as it feels like it's taken a back seat in the last few years. It's not really een the most popular style of music, where it has been for the last thirty years. So this song is about the power f rock n roll. It's a bit tongue and cheek. It's not meant to offend any DJs as we have a lot of friends who are Js! It's more of a reminder that rock is still here, and that loud guitars are cool!
What's it been like to work with Jordan Hastings, and what has he brought to the Billy alent world?
We've known him for ten years or more. From touring with Alexisonfire we really got an idea of how he plays. He a great drummer, a great guy, and a really good friend of the band. All of us thought immediately when Aaron ad a MS relapse last fall, he was the first guy we talked about who could fill in for him whilst he recovers. It's a retty good fit, he knows the band really well, he has toured with us so he knows all of the songs. So it just made ense.
Also, how is Aaron right now?
othing has really changed drastically so far, but he is doing better. He is still in the middle of the relapse that appened last September. He is on medication which is going to take some time for his body to get better. We re keeping our fingers crossed every day. We stay in touch with him, and are hoping that he will make a full ecovery by the end of the summer at least. You never really know a time frame with these things, that's why we ecided to move on with the touring for the new record. It's such a horrible disease, that there's really no uarantees in anything. We've been really lucky for the last fifteen years with his health being amazing. I know e'll be back on the drum kit soon.
How did the artwork for 'Afraid of Heights' come together, and what does it mean to you?
really liked the work that Igor Hofbauer (a comic book artist rom Zagrab Croatia) had done in his comic books, s well as some of the work that he had done for other bands. His style was exactly what we were looking for ith this album art. Almost like a Russian propaganda feel to it. It's very old school, eastern European, and we st thought that it would be a perfect fit. So we reached out to him, and I sent him all of the songs/lyrics. He eally listened to the meaning of them, and he translated them into the visuals. People will see once the album omes out that they are really amazing illustrations. So yeah, I couldn't be happier with the artwork. It's amazing.
How would you say the sound on 'Afraid of Heights' compares to anything you've done before? The sound of the album is a little bit different to previous albums. We weren't afraid to hold back, or experiment. There's synths on this record, acoustic guitars. You name it. Anything that we thought would lend itself to the song, we weren't afraid to hold back on. But it's still got that distinguished guitar tone/sound, as well as how John sounds on bass. It sounds like us, but it's got a little bit more instrumentation on it.
How come 'Kingdom of Zod' and 'Chasing The Sun' didn't become a part of 'Afraid of Heights'? Also, did they have an influence on the new material? They would of ended up on this record. With the greatest hits we wanted to put a couple of extra songs on it, so those are the ones that we had ready at the time, so we decided to put them on the greatest hits album instead. 'Chasing The Sun' was a bit slow, so I think 'Kingdom of Zod' was a closer indication to the sound on this record. However, there's a song called 'Rabbit In The Hole' on the new record, it starts of as an acoustic ballad as well, so really both of those songs were a pretty good indicator of some of the parts of this record. Some of the other songs on this record show something that we've never even tried before. All round I think it's our most experimental record to date.
It's been ten years since the release of Billy Talent II. So looking back on that record, what can you remember from that time, and how would you say it helped towards shaping the bands career? I just remember that we recorded that album in Vancouver DC at the Warehouse in the Bryan Adams studio. We were all still fairly young, I think we were in our late twenties at that point/or early thirties. It was one of those records where we knew we wanted to try something different by having a change in our musical direction. We were out growing our screamy/angsty youth, and that record was a result of that. It's up there, and it's still one of my personal favorites out of our entire back catologue. It was a great time for sure, and it's become one of our fan favorites as well.
What does it take to become a successful band? Over the years you are going to go through a lot of ups and downs. I think perseverance is the key if you want to play in a rock band. I think you really have to understand that it's never going to always be going the way you want it to go. You have to be prepared for the highest of highs, and the lowest of lows. It's like a roller coaster. Some years are really great in the band, and then some are not the best. Once you prepare yourself for that, and figure out why you're here, and why you want to do this. If you're really into music, and really enjoy playing with the band you're in, then that should be your main focus, not fame or anything like that. Those are the most important things. Of course, being an amazing live band, and writing great songs that mean something. If no one's showing up, then you aren't going to be a very successful band. You have to really connect with your audience, and know how to communicate with them.
How excited are you for your upcoming UK tour, and what can attending fans expect? Super excited. We haven't been over for a headline tour in four years, so we're excited to come back, and we have a whole different show this time. We have more production. I think the UK fans are going to love the visuals that we are bringing on tour with us this time. The light show, and everything is a lot more ambitious than anything we've ever done before. We are excited to play all of these places that we've played before like Nottingham Rock City, Roundhouse, and it's just always good to come back.
When did you first get into acting? I first got into acting when I was at school. I wasn't the best student and was kicked out of a class for mucking around. I wandered into a drama class and was allowed to stay. I had so much fun during the class I asked if I could join it instead of the class I was doing. The headmaster allowed me to swap. As a result, I joined in some school plays and that's where I fell in love with the idea of storytelling through character.
What was your first major role, and can you tell us a bit about that experience for you at the time? My first major role was a touring theatrical production of Strindberg's Miss Julie. I was hired as the understudy and toured with the production around the UK. I was still studying acting on a part time course every sunday so had to make it back for class, but toured with the show the rest of the week. One evening, several weeks into the tour, the lead fell ill and I went on in his place. The play is just three characters and my role, Jean, is on stage the entire time. I was incredibly nervous, but the moment the curtain opened those nerves were replaced by exhilaration. I was lucky enough to take over the lead when the play transferred to the West End.
You've put together a lot of shorts, so can you tell us a bit about your most recent one 'Wish You Here'? Wish You Here was an idea I had whilst I was filming Sleepy Hollow. It's an allegory for the broken heart, about how a person mourns the "death" of a relationship. I sent it to a director friend of mine in Australia and he loved it. He and his producer quickly raised funds and I flew over to shoot the film in between filming for Sleepy Hollow. The film was a lot of fun to shoot as we explored how to make people fall in love with Karl the lonely zombie. We then succeeded in making the finals for Tropfest, the largest short film festival in the world, and won several awards.
You've done a couple of films, so do you think you'd like to write more films in the future? I have been writing longer than I have been acting. I love the storytelling process and look forward to doing this for the rest of my life. I currently have a feature that I have written that is being set up in the UK at the moment.
What was it like to be a part of Alexander? Did you get to work on any epic sets like the film portrays? Alexander was a wild dream come true. That was the biggest film I have ever been a part of. And to be one of the principle cast for the entire 6 month duration was just crazy. So much fun.
Can you tell us a bit about how your fight scene came together in Quantum of Solace, as well as what that whole experience was like to be a part of? The stunt crew that did Bond were the same guys that I worked with on Alexander - Gary Powell and Ben Cooke. When I was offered the role it was after the most extensive casting process I have ever been through. There was a "stunt rehearsal", where men and 15 other potential actors for the role were put through our fight paces by the stunt team in Pinewood Studios. Thankfully, I was awarded the part and then spent 3 weeks in Panama rehearsing the fight scene with Daniel before taking two days to shoot it.
What was it like to play Victor in Push, and what did you enjoy the most about working in a Sci-Fi environment? Victor was a lot of fun to play. When I was brought on the film they hadn't yet defined the parameters of the world and how the powers were displayed. It was great to explore how Victor physicalised his abilities - though I'm sure there are a million out takes of me waving my arms around like I'm dancing to a Bee Gees track!
Fitness wise, what kind of preparation do you have to do for projects like this? My background is in boxing and I train every day. My motto is that I would rather stay in shape than have to constantly fight to get there.
You did some samurai training for your role in Blade as well right? How was that!? I knew that at some point they were going to have me and Sticky (Blade) have a sword fight so I got in training early. I found a samurai master and worked with him privately for six weeks in LA before shooting started, and then worked with Kirk Jacques, a sword master in Vancouver, whilst we were shooting. By the time the fight came in the last episode it was so much fun because I'd been training for it for six months.
So how did you get the part of Abraham in Sleepy Hollow, and can you tell us a bit about what this character is like to play? I had worked with the show-runner, Mark Goffman, before on a show called White Collar. They needed an actor who had good sword fighting ability and so Mark called to see if I was available. I loved the role of Abraham. As a fan of the show, it was so cool to finally hear the thoughts of the headless horseman.
What scene has been the most memorable for you to do so far in Sleepy Hollow, and why? I loved the fight scene I had in ep ten of season two with Tom (Ichabod) in the cave. The anger and venom of that scene was so fun to play.
What's the hardest part about being an actor? The uncertainty. Not knowing where the next work is going to come from or when.
This is a hard one, but can you give us one or two directors that have been really rewarding for you work with over the years, and maybe why that is? It was amazing to be on set with Woody Allen and have conversations with him. We were talking once in the green room while we were waiting for the lighting set up. Myself, Woody and Josh Brolin. Josh was explaining to Woody about the Transformers movies and Woody couldn't quite grasp the concept of these cars from mars that could change into robots. It was hilarious.
What can you tell us about your upcoming project Nocturnal Animals? It's a really dark and interesting story. And the costumes looked amazing.
What else can we expect to see from Neil Jackson in 2016? I am currently shooting an Alan Rudolph feature called ‘Ray Meets Helen’. I will then be shooting a feature I have written called ‘After The Lights’.
So Alan, near the end of the first day of the festival and it seems to have pretty well! Yes, I'm quite pleased about it yeah!
When did the idea to come back and do it again after so many years come around? It was Sue's idea to get it going again, the reason we stopped doing it in the first place was it was starting to take up too much of our time. This was when we lived up the road, you know how big that house was and we had also had the four holiday cottages so we had about 18 people staying at the cottages and maybe another 15 in the house with us and they didn't go home when the convention finished! They'd say “can I have an extra week?” or “is it okay if I stay for 10 days?” or whatever. It was taking up too much time, we thoroughly enjoyed it but we decided after five years we'd stop. The specific reason for doing the comic convention in the first place was to counter act the effect that foot and mouth had in this district, every one was out of work and it was to bring some tourists back and get some business for the shops. They were much more successful than we thought they would be. Last year, Moniaive won £50,000 from Creative Scotland, I can't remember what the competition was, there was the video with music from Alex Kapranos (Franz Ferdinand, Moniaive resident), Sue did the filming and she decided to go for festival again. The Festival Village isn't paying for it, we're hoping that enough people have turned up that it will pay for itself but I don't know if that's true or not.
The new book is out, Rok of the Reds, where did the idea of a Football story come from? It's been in John and I's idea file for the last 20 years, we cam up with it as a spoof of Roy of the Rovers and I can't remember if they'd refused to publish it or we thought it was too good for them so we just put in a file which we did with all the ideas we don't use and John was looking through it last year or the year before and decided that he'd like to write this Football comic now.
Yourself and John Wagner have been collaborating for so many years now, how does the dynamic of the two of you writing together work? I'm talking the way we used to do it, we don't work work together so much any more but we'd sit down on the floor, crossed legged facing each other, ash tray in the middle, spliff in another ash tray and because most of the stuff we writing was humorous to some extent, you get immediate feedback from the other person. He'd say to me, “I had this idea last night, what if Judge Dredd does this or Judge Dredd does that?”, you know immediately from the other persons reaction, either “that's funny” or “no, I don’t think much of that”. If they say, “I don't think much of that”, then that's that and you go on to the next thing. That's why so many T.V comedies are written by teams of two because you get immediate feedback on the comedy, when you write comedy on your own, I've written sequences that I've thought were funny and I've got Sue to read it afterwards and she's said “that's not very good is it!”. Then you go away and think about it again, where as if you've got a writing partner, it's immediate.
Unlike most characters, Spider-Man, Superman etc. who have had numerous reboots and new starts, Judge Dredd ages by the year like we all do. Eventually, is there going to come an end point to Judge Dredd? Well.... I'd have to say my feeling on that is no, or my feeling on that is yes, there should be but no there won't be because NO publisher will ever kill off a character that is making a profit for them. When John and I split up our partnership, Strontium Dog was one that was one my side of the sheet for doing and I started getting more and more work from America and I decided I couldn't continue doing Strontium Dog. When I told John, he just said, “kill him off, I don't want anyone else writing him apart from me and you” so I had to kill Johnny Alpha off and a year later he was back in print!
With the Q and A's here, because it isn't a big convention with DC and Marvel etc. representatives around, some of the answers seem to be a bit more truthful than perhaps they would be at big cons? Ha, yes! When I was at DC Comics, I was quite happy doing what I was doing but they decided to close Lobo down, it was only selling 22,000 copies and I think their break even was 20,000 so they start thinking about closing down the comic. I knew from going to the conventions that Lobo was huge a huge hero in Mexico, Argentina, Chile so I suggested to the Vice President of DC that I'll keep writing the scripts, get them drawn by Spanish artists and publish them first in these countries because they already had a thriving industry publishing the reprints so I said you can sell it in the Spanish speaking countries first and then reprint it in English for the American market. She was absolutely horrified, “DC don't do things that way around!” and I said yeah but you've got to make money and that would be a great way of doing it.
They're big population countries as well Well Lobo, as I said was only selling 22,000 copies in the States every month but was selling something 50 or 60,000 in Mexico a month, another 20,000 in Argentina, more than 100% over the States, they could have four or five times over the circulation. The reason that the Spanish countries love it is because they love the macho man style and Lobo is a macho man but the way they were written, they were taking the piss out of macho men so even though Lobo was the hero, you could still have a laugh at him!
He's kind of the anti-hero, much in the way Judge Dredd is Yeah, not your usual hero at all and you can see from the way DC have tried several times to rejuvenate or revitalise Lobo and it hasn't worked and in my opinion it will never work until they go back to the kind of Lobo I did with Simon Bisley and Keith Giffen. They don't want that, even though it's likely to sell better than anything else they're doing because anything new they do with Lobo is withdrawn from circulation couple of months later because it's not doing anything. Editors aren't always as bright as they should be.
Or as bright as they think they are? Yeah, in fact I think it was just about the time they were closing Lobo down I was on a panel, I can't remember where the show was with Mike Carlin, who was or is still the Vice President of DC, he was also the Superman editor at the time, basically I thought he was telling the fans, there was about 500 fans in the hall listening and I figured he was telling them lies. He was just spinning the official DC line, there was nothing personal about it and I kept interrupting saying, “well that's not true, that was written that way because the editors said it had to be that way”. Mike Carlin got really annoyed with me and I figured that's why they dispensed with my services at DC. They did offer me other work but I told them look, what you're offering me isn't suitable for me, they offered me Books of Magic which is something Neil Gaiman started, 1 – I hate magic and 2 – well I don't think there is a 2, I just don't like magic as a basis for stories. Al though from JK Rowling's adventures, you can see how much money can be made off it but I don't like it. If you don't like it, don't do it because it will always end in fucking heartbreak for you!
Photo by: You Be You Photography
Cam, you've been involved with 2000AD for many, many years, what were your earliest experiences of working for them. Well, I got work from them very quickly I remember that, I'd been working on Battle Comics before that. I was living in France, came back and sent a couple of sample pages to IPC as it was then called, in London. They sent me a script to turn in to a story, I can't actually remember what the story was, it might have been a second World War story. Then I'd been doing more for Battle and the editor of 2000AD saw my work because it was the same company and in the same building, he gave me a call and said would you like to work for 2000AD. I wasn't sure who 2000AD was at the time to be quite honest with you being away in France and six months doing Battle away in my own little world! They sent me a Judge Dredd script and I did that, it was one written by John (Wagner) and Alan (Grant). They then put me on to a character called Rogue Trooper, so I thought okay, fair enough and I was doing that, Unbeknown to me, John and Alan had been asking them to get me back on to Judge Dredd because they'd liked what I'd done on the first one but the naughty editor had been telling them â€œno no I can't do that, he's very happy doing Rogue Trooper, that's what he's to stay at just nowâ€?. Anyway one of them called me and spoke to me, I then called the editor and told him I wanted t do Judge Dredd and that was it!
Judge Dredd has been around for nearly 40 years, while numerous comic characters go through numerous reboots, he's been constant, what do you think has given him such longevity? You've got such prolific writers in John and Alan, I mean they were producing a story every week, it was six pages a week but they were doing plenty of other things too. As a character, Judge Dredd, I don't think it had been seen before in comics, they touched a nice nerve and people thought â€œthat's good, I like that character, he's something differentâ€?. Then as different artists started doing it, everyone started getting their favourite version of him but for all there's different styles of artists doing him, he's always as recognisable. I think what John and Alan found when they started writing him, you see them come up with funny scripts and we know each other so well and for a long time, they know immediately that script is for me. It was an absolute dream to do that, you just finish one Dredd, phone them up and you've got another one. It's very lucky, at that time, a lot of people were trying to get work.
For a lot of the guys who've gone on to work for Marvel and DC, they very much cut their teeth with 2000AD, for you how different was it working for Marvel and DC compared to what you were doing at 2000AD? Well, I really enjoyed doing Dredd. He's a really great character so I suppose doing the stuff for DC and Marvel was me, sort of, exercising myself and seeing if I can lengthen my bit of string in to the American market which I did and I did a few things. Often there, like John and Alan would take a character like The Punisher and bring him to Scotland in the story. The American public only ever saw the American characters in America, which is fair enough, that's not a criticism, it's very understandable. I did a few other things with various American writers but I could always fall back on Dredd, I had that for as long as I wanted. That was dead lucky and because I could do it fairly fast, if I needed a little bit of funds, O would do a Dredd in a week and that was it!
How much has the internet changed comics in your time? If people want to go down the shops and pick up 2000AD they can, I believe now, I'm a real dinosaur when it comes to computers but as far as I know you can go on the net and download it, as they say and look at it on your screen. For a few years yet, I think there will still be people who want the feel of a book and paper. We were supposed to believe that novels like you get in Waterstones and the like were going to go under and books were only going to be in Libraries, I'm sure I read recently that sales had gone up and Waterstones had increased their sales. With what Alan and Sue Grant have put on here, one thing jumps out, almost immediately is the number of children that are here taking notice of the stories and art. Yeah, the great thing about the children being here getting the comics is that they're going to read them and that's what you want to do, encourage them to read. The pictures are an added bonus but if you get them to read that's a great thing.
You're pretty much retired now, how do you feel your time in these days? Fortunately I have a few friends who are still alive and are real comedians so much of the day is spent laughing, next step the home! I still try to do a little bit of drawing and this and that but it isn't easy, I have though rediscovered my collection of vinyl so that keeps me occupied.
Were the numbers of different comics as big as today when you were growing up? There were a lot of comics, let me see, there was Radio Fun, Film Fun, T.V Weekly, The Eagle, Wizard, Topper, Beezer. There was a hell of a lot of comics, that was a big day when you went in to the newsagent, sometimes I would buy The Eagle then things like The Beezer and when a new comic came out, you'd often get a thunderclap thing with it, which was a triangular thin cardboard that you flicked and it made a sound. It seems sad that some of those comics are gone, even the Dandy is digital only now, or was at least That's right, I'd heard that but you see this family at the next table sitting with a big pile of comics, you never know this could be the next vinyl revolution!
Your new book with Alan Grant is out now, how would you describe this book? I would say it's a throw back to the comics of my youth, the comics I loved of the 60's and 70's with an added alien element. That's basically what it is, there's nothing revolutionary about it, it's just a good story with good characters. The way I think comics should be done.
It could be said there is a little bit of a Roy of the Rovers feel to it? Yes, there is a Roy of the Rovers feel to it but with a twist. I was never in love with Roy of the Rovers, I mean people say it because it's such a clichĂŠ but the comics I loved were the DC Thompson comics, The Victor, The Hornet, Hotspur, I thought they were much better written than Roy of the Rovers.
A story that just won't go away is of course Dredd and Karl Urban has been meeting people about it, some time's gone by now but there is still a clamour for it... Oh yeah, there has certainly been talk between Rebellion and certain interested parties. If this doesn't come off.... talk is cheap and a lot of people talk about things, I should know because Button Man has been optioned for the past 25 years by various different people and never been made but Dredd will get made. At the moment the talk is a T.V series. There is so much you can do with it, I think it would make a good animation but the talk is a live action. I think Karl acted the part really well, to have someone like him, who has done it and is committed to a follow up is just great.
When Dredd originally came out in America, what do you think hindered it? I think the first film screwed the pitch for it, it would have done a lot better without the Stallone movie, the original Stallone movie had nothing to do with Dredd apart from the uniform and the name. It was ridiculous, the new film corrected a lot of that but not enough people realised it, we saw from the DVD sales afterwards they were beginning to pick up on what Dredd was about, the DVD's sold really well. I think if it came along again, the major American audience would be more receptive to it.
Where would you have liked to see the story go after the first one? I'm very keen on a Judge Death movie, that was actually the first script that Alec Garland wrote but Fox, who were the interested buyer at that point thought it was too metaphysical, they'd rather have nuts and bolts, cops on the street. That's why they went for the paramilitary aspect in the film but his first script was a Judge Death script and that's what I'd like to see.
Scotland seems to have produced a staggering amount of the big writers and artists in the past 30 years? There's nothing else to do up here and they have big imaginations! It's amazing how many Scots there are in it, I don't know why, there are lots of English and American of course but it's proportional compared to how many people there are up here, I don't know why!
Milestones – Equal Measures Pop Rock Manchester quintet raise the bar by joining with Fearless Records to release their debut EP, ‘Equal Measures’, which is impressively produced by Phil Gornell (Bring Me The Horizon, All Time Low), and appropriately the release sees them achieve some important milestones for themselves. ‘Call Me Disaster’ is loaded with flawless blissful vocals, sweet hooks and melodies, and one of the strongest choruses, aided by catchy gang vocals, giving this a anthemic feel; a perfect way to kick off. Luckily ‘Hindsight’ keeps levels and standards high, again showcasing extremely melodic sounds with great memorable riffs. ‘Nothing Left’ slows things down and offers something different, adding some more diversity and depth. While the title track, ‘Equal Measures’ captures their essence, with ambient riffs, vulnerable vocals, hard hitting rhythms and well placed backing vocals to make it a well-rounded representation of them as a band, showing a harder edge at times. End track, ‘Shot In The Dark’ opens on a serene atmosphere with angelic vocals that go down a treat especially in the verses, before the chorus gleams with resonance and soaring instruments that particularly shine here. You are immediately hooked upon first listen through their glowing upbeat fast and infectious sounds. Whilst it sounds upbeat for the most part, they possess a maturity beyond their years, and for a debut release, this is very promising. What other achievements lie ahead for Milestones? I’m sure a lot more are to follow. CL
Chelsea Grin – Self Inflicted Salt Lake Metallers thrust fierce fourth album out through Rise Records, marking their first release through a new label. Opening, ‘Welcome Back’ makes quite the first impression with piercing vocals, colossal riffage and drumming that puts you on edge before some beastly chugging breakdowns take hold with demonic vocals tightly wrapped around. ‘Four Horsemen’ injects more bleakness, in this malicious track that seeps with evil fittingly, with dark whispers mixed with signature screams, complete with eerie and haunting instruments, this certainly has the makings of a warning of the end of humanity. What is this a, ‘Love Song’?! Don’t worry it’s not warm and fuzzy like you would expect, more like a pissed post love regret rant. New single, ‘Broken Bonds’ is a mighty force of pure brutality, whilst still being extremely melodic and zealous. Offering up a delightful yet deadly surprise is ‘Never, Forever’ which is extremely resonant and slick, and is the closest thing to a ballad as you are going to get from them, showing a slightly softer side, portrayed through the cleaner vocals and sweeping instruments and general slower pace. This helps cement them further as serious contenders in the metal genre, who can pull a trick out the bag. To wrap things up neatly and tie back to the beginning of the EP we have, ‘Say Goodbye’ which opens on creepy choir-esque vocals, before soaring melodic guitars dance around like flames, and it features some brilliant chunky groovy rhythms. The use of angelic yet sinister sounding voices, help match the theme and tone, of beauty and darkness as the artwork depicts. They are still going strong with their mighty deathcore after a decade and this new release highlights some of their best and most expansive work yet. This is one album you won’t regret being inflicted upon you. CL
Hunter Dumped Us Here – I Understand Iowan experimental heavy indie rockers pair storytelling and emotion to unfold tales of loved ones and lifes struggles in a fascinating and exceptional musical voyage, taking us on many ups and downs along the way, representing growth and surviving in this unforgettable debut. It opens on the soothing and blissful, ‘Beautifully’ which is the perfect name, although halfway through the vocals pick up and strike hard with a more dramatic turn. This is unpredictable, layered and clever, especially with the ending matching the lyrical content. ‘Cavendish’ gets straight to it with strong demanding vocals, hard hitting rhythms and a poetic rap further in that is excellently delivered in an urgent manner with effective vocal variations, which are raw, manic and emotional to go with the unusual melodies. First single ‘Lost My Name’ is strangely upbeat with very honest open lyrics, and still has a bizarre dark cynicism whilst showing a lighter indie mainstream side. In total contrast we have, ‘Ornate and Carved’ which is interesting and alarming through use of sound effects and synths, with well written strong lyrics, dark instrumentation and eerie vocals in parts that turn to impressive screams, somewhat reminiscent of Oli Sykes (Bring Me The Horizon). The whole song takes you on many twists and turns and begins to sound like a demented circus or fairground at times. The hardest song to listen to is ‘Above The Treeline’, due to it consisting largely of a heart wrenching poem from guest Courtney Snodgrass about the tragedy of cancer. The band come in towards the end to offer a desperate plea of hope. ‘The Worst Shepherd’ sees another guest, from Nick Booth of Avoid. Injecting more powerful screams. To oppose the beginning song we end on ‘Sad’ which starts off stripped back with delicate vocals, before the aggressive emotions take hold in a mighty manner, before transitioning back to harmonic melodies, where yet again the sound and lyrical content match that of the opening song cleverly, coming full circle in more ways than one. This band don’t hold back in terms of quantity and quality luckily, as we get the full package. You can tell they have poured their heart and soul into this stunning and unique debut and take you on an honest and raw emotional journey which is uncomfortable yet compelling, as well as being highly meaningful and full of depth and intelligence. CL
Evarose – Invisible Monsters The all-female Oxfordshire 4-piece Evarose have released their latest album ‘Invisible Monsters’. The record begins unfortunately flat and well, if I’m brutally honest, struggles to find its feet for most of the album. Lyrics seem painfully cringe worthy at times, and a sound which just fails to inspire the listener. Little hope is held for the lead single ‘Glitch’ too, which falls into the same trap. It all just feels a little too ‘safe’. Things do perk up towards the latter half of the album. The slower ‘Telephonic’ provides a lovely little blend of depth and power, really showing off the depth of vocal range in Evarose. All in all ‘Invisible Monsters’ is a rather bland affair. PD
Black Rose Cadillac – Hey Now (single) Black Rose Cadillac have really found the right gear with this single ‘Hey now’. A hard rocking, rip roaring hook fest which snags you from the off. This single has got some fantastic finish, it sounds brilliant, and is a instant catch. The video shows the boys doing what they do best, albeit a little cheesy. But that’s what music videos are all about, right? A fantastic single and a brilliant effort from the Tamworth lads. Here’s one punter looking forward to hearing more. PD
Fatherson – Open Book Those who have been missing Deaf Havana in the few years that they’ve been strangely absent may want to gravitate towards this album. It has a similar vibe, in the same lively yet melancholy way. Clearly pop-rock influenced but with the mournful lyrics and emo vocal lines that make it a mid-way point for fans of Mumford & Sons and Lower Than Atlantis. Even if sad-based rock music is not normally your thing, Fatherson’s unique approach to songwriting, that make songs like ‘Lost Little Boys’ and ‘Wondrous Heart’ so engaging, puts ‘Open Book’ far above the average. ‘Open Book’ is the perfect album for the existentially inclined. For putting on, chilling out, and perhaps considering the deeper aspects of the human condition. For long evenings in the summer and cheerful afternoons in the winter. For those times when you need something that sounds both upbeat and sad at the same time. AL
Whitchapel – Mark Of The Blade Whitechapel are straddling a strange line at the moment. They seem to have their sights set on becoming a legitimate force within the deathcore scene, and perhaps they are. But at the same time, they can never become that popular whilst still being as heavy as they are. Quite simply, music this heavy is not supposed to be incredibly popular. ‘Mark of the Blade’, their sixth album in nine years, is very much exactly what you would expect to find from a Whitechapel album now. There really isn’t that much that couldn’t have come from one of their other albums. The downtuned deathcore-y riffs are still there, with the occasionally tasty groove (see ‘The Elitist Ones’) and Phil Bozeman’s typical low growling. However, there are actually some clean vocals on this album. Some bands, when going from all screaming to singing and screaming make it sound natural, a progression of their sound. Whitechapel fall a little short of this. Closing track ‘Decennium’ sounds a bit like a bad cover of a latter-day Darkest Hour song. ‘Mark of the Blade’ isn’t necessarily bad, but it is very much average modern heavy music that neither brings nothing new to the table, nor improves on a formula that is very easy to make incredibly stale. AL
Hotel Books – Run Wild, Stay Alive Hotel Books are a spoken word-based band from America. Sorry, not band, “art collective” as they wish to be known. There is something incredibly artsy about Hotel Books, and not just in the way that their songs are based predominantly around the poetry of Hotel Books’ mastermind Cam Smith. ‘Run Wild, Stay Alive’ is a somewhat confusing album. Whereas Hotel Books used to be purely spoken word, on this album there are actual choruses, and singing, and screaming no less. Mostly it’s reminiscent of somewhere in between Being As An Ocean and Real Friends, but some of the big choruses like ‘I Think You See Where This Is Headed’ and ‘Constant Conflicts’ sound like Bring Me The Horizon, or a post-hardcore 30 Seconds To Mars. If you’re very into artsy, hyper-American, flannel-shirt-beard-and-glasses, faith-based music then ‘Run Wild, Stay Alive’ is very much dead centre in your ballpark. If you like your music a bit less read-between-the-lines in the way that only poetry can make it then you may find yourself getting a little bored by Hotel Books. AL
Beartooth - Aggressive Caleb Shomo, the young prodigy of the hardcore scene. At age 19 Shomo created Beartooth by writing and recording an entire EP (Sick) virtually by himself. His gift of crafting a more mainstream form of metalcore took the world by storm as he formed a band to unleash his inner demons. On the debut full length ‘Disgusting’, Shomo took his project to a bigger stage, both literally and figuratively. The band surged in popularity as every music publication was releasing a new song; and they were rightfully fantastic. Shomo and company’s energy streamlined them into massive tours, even headlining over veterans of the industry. After such a huge and promising release, Beartooth return with ‘Aggressive’, their sophomore similarity. “Who knew you’d be hated for being who you are,” cries out Shomo on second track, ‘Hated’. It feels like a cop out; for someone who lead the cries of the youth with tracks discussing parental abuse, suicide, depression and addiction, now we have Shomo at the top wondering why all the hate. On ‘Aggressive’, Shomo calls out everybody and everything, even proclaiming that ‘Rock Is Dead’ (I’ll be it in an emotional fit of backlash to that statement). It’s not the same vulnerable cry we heard before, instead working out a rather youthful ‘aggression’ that feels as forced as the music. Nothing in Beartooth’s sound changed from ‘Disgusting’. Which isn’t meant to be a negative strike, because the point of listening to Beartooth is to indulge massive beat downs and be sandwiched between infectious as shit melodies. ‘However You Want It Said’ is a hook laden tune that is bound to have every audience member shouting along, yet again proving Shomo’s natural affinity at finding the right voice to channel for larger than life refrains. ‘Burnout’ shows Beartooth in the opposite light, a pissed off Shomo leading a charge that caresses bombastic chord progressions with a visceral vocal delivery. ‘Aggressive’ is a record that feels familiar already, and with Beartooth still delivering these same songs, it’s not hard to see why they succeed at what they do. Nothing is out of line, save for the rather ticked off Shomo in the spotlight. His creative intellect still shines throughout the sophomore LP. His frantic delivery is still cathartic by nature, but you have to wonder if this is too forced. SG
Pierce The Veil - Misadventures Four years can do a lot for a band. It can kill the career of some, but for hype reasons Pierce The Veil never defaulted or lost anything by taking their time. Armed with a killer touring schedule and a debut that grabbed the hearts of many, the quarter have finally put new music on the table for the masses to first salivate over then consume until their ears are raw. ‘Misadventures’ is the sophomore release from the band, and one that shoots with a tight grip, not missing any target or mark that was in the band’s path. Pierce The Veil ride the thin line of charged rhythms and lush vocal melodies without over stepping on either side. They make each transition effortlessly, letting their songs build naturally; finding a way to progress each new pattern into a sling of contagiously fun tunes. ‘Misadventures’ makes adventures that much more fun when it is blasting through your ears. Opener ‘Dive In’ takes no time setting up the stage that Pierce The Veil then spend the next 40 or so minutes seducing the audience. After an opening monologue sung out with delicacy, the band explode into a machine gun styled orchestration that rivals early Alesana and Chiodos. Their constant change in rhythms help keep things fresh, punching through the mix with an over the top, grandiose refrain. In this way, it can be safe to say that Pierce The Veil have wrangled in their sound that matches their talents. Across ‘Misadventures’ are larger than life anthems that will find audiences across the world singing along. SG
The Employment - Anxiety Arriving with an arsenal of precise, shoot-to-kill radio rock, Somis, California’s The Employment do their damndest to make noteworthy ripples in the vast ocean of new music with their debut release. It peddles the mantra of “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it” and so, despite offering little in the way of ingenuity, their proficiency for churning out convincing and instantly familiar alt rock makes up for that. Whether snaking slowly to a polished, crescendo chorus through brooding guitars and buzzing keyboards on ‘Low’ or unleashing the big grooves on ‘Help From Me’, there is plenty to get your teeth into on ‘Anxiety’. Having played in bands together since 2011, vocalist/guitarist Chris Traylor and bassist Matt DeMartini sought out the rhythmic skills of drummer David Allen to complete the trio. With producer Ken Andrews (Nine Inch Nails, Paramore, A Perfect Circle) at the helm, they have laboured over the creation of a solid and consistent EP dripping in commercial potential. The hip-shaking lead single ‘Bring Us Back’ recalls the post-grunge vibes of ÆGES and Seether and the swaggering hard rock of Raveneye, its lilting chorus aiming to infect all those who hear it. ‘In My Head’, a racing pop punk number meanwhile shows their more energised side. As an opening statement, everything is abundantly clear. There is no absurd expressionist experimentalism, no thrills and spills; just good old fashioned, innocent rock songs that are as easily digestible as an ice cream on a sunny day. They’ve worked hard to ensure the five tracks here display a well rounded band while maintaining that all important commercialism. Whether or not they’ve done enough to make their music stand out from the plethora of competition and carve out their own path is down to how the public respond. For this writer, while the songs may be enjoyable in the moment, they don’t particularly inspire heavy rotation. Depending on your personal taste this could be their downfall for you too. PW
Quick Wicked - Hustle Monkey So before I begin talking about Quick Wicked please can I just ask you to look at that artwork for thirty seconds. How terrifying is that? The more you look the more frightening it becomes, that made me think I’d be listening to something dark and heavy but to my surprise it wasn’t. I think the best thing about Quick Wicked is they seem to have taken influences from a lot of places, the very staggered instrument work is very post grunge but the faint background screaming vocals are almost related to The Automatic (remember them?). ‘The Collective Nobodies’ stops halfway through and almost adopts an Interpol like bass line which finishes the song off in perfection. In comparison to ‘Like Two Drops of Water’ which approaches with a very harder rock perspective. The intro has a very Rage Against the Machine style. The instrument work in this band is spectacular and combined with the lead singer’s unusual vocals they seem to have found a sound that works on a lot of levels. Hailing from Ontario this four-piece take the usual conventions of music and completely throw them away. Their varied and diverse sound is amazing and I don’t think it will be long until we hear a lot more from them.
Biffy Clyro - Ellipsis When you're a huge band, the release of a new album means masses of anticipation and huge expectations. But, when you're a band like Biffy Clyro whose latest album will be a follow up to an incredible conceptual double album, the weight of that expectation is even greater. The trio (yeah, comprehending the fact that the sound the band produce comes from just three blokes is still hard to grasp 21 years later) is probably the biggest band to ever come from their wee country and their records have cemented them in British musical history forever. How does ‘Ellipsis’ fair in their back catalogue, though??? ‘Wolves of Winter’ plunges us into the Biff's 7th LP with no gentle introduction, slapping us in the face with that colossal opening line of “HOW’S IT GOING TO FEEL WHEN THERE’S NO-ONE TO SUPPORT YA?!”. It then persists in doing the same time and time again, when that chorus comes in, in typical Biffy style. It was the first track heard from the album and hence set the bar for what could be expected, much like the video did for filmmakers and animators around the world.? The Scottish Alt Rockers have never done things conventionally; whether that be their notorious “fuck off time signatures and conventional song structure” attitude, Simon Neil’s seemingly nonsensical lyrical outbursts, or their production and fine-tuned intricacies, right down to the echo of a pair of snipping scissors in the background of a song. Sophomore song ‘Friends And Enemies’ is bouncy, like a pop song with a little more substance, and lyrics ten times more out there. It treats us to gems like “they had eyes like a backwards sunset, a golden curve/they gave me armbands of concrete, I have to swim”. They’re open to interpretation (answers on a postcard, please), which is always a great thing, but they’re cryptic and deeply personal for all involved: a real talent. This leads us through to what is potentially the song of the album, and one of the best out and out anthems they have ever written: ‘Animal Style’. It’s one of the paciest tracks, has a scarily huge chorus and best of all, rings back to the signature Biffy of ‘Puzzle’ and the likes. In a very different, yet likewise manner, ‘Re-Arrange’ pays homage to extracts of their middle albums. It’s a beautifully slow, acoustic ballad, with an opposing nature to its follow-up track ‘Herex’. The former is near enough a typical love song, albeit slightly sombertoned, with lines like “cause I would never break your heart/I would only rearrange/all the other working parts will stay in place/listen to me when I say, darling you're my everything”. Compare that to “we are all contestants in your silly little game/your love's only expression is your personal gain” and you’ve got a solid idea of the two kinds of very different love songs that they are. Aside from ‘Medicine’ (Ellipsis’ next acoustic number), ‘Re-Arrange’ is probably the most stunning track that Biffy have coined since ‘Machines’. Returning to some of their roots is something of a recurrent theme here, be it may with higher production and far more hindsight. ‘On A Bang’ is a direct stab at pre-Puzzle biffy; a frantic, desperately screamed rager that still manages catchiness and includes incredibly delicately played percussion in its chorus. In ‘Small Wishes’, we find that signature oddball of the album, this time in the form of a Country-esque number complete with wolf howls and lyrics like “the lizard shit/and held it under our nostrils”. ‘Howl’ is upbeat, chirpy and poppy in melody; ‘People’ is a song tinged with self-loathing and regret, ‘Don’t, Won’t, Can’t’ is another anthem that just screams to be played at Summer festivals for mass sing-alongs, and closer ‘In The Name Of The Wee Man’ is another return to pre-Rock Biffy Clyro (like, right at their very beginning), gory, raw imagery and all. ‘Ellipsis’ may not be the best album that Simon, and brothers Ben and James Johnston have ever written, but when you consider their back catalogue, that’s far from an insult. It’s sure to be yet another classic, and when you consider the mental health battles Simon has had, his grievance and respiratory problems, that may even make it one of their biggest successes. All we know, is that this is going to blow away fans worldwide, and that it is going to sound phenomenal at their remaining summer festival performances (Reading and Leeds, we’re looking at you.) Mon the biff! ND
Versa Mynor – Strangers In Friction EP Versa Mynor’s hometown is not to be confused with that of The Crucible (20th Century Play) and countless other horror films and TV series, based on the 17th Century witches of Salem. They, instead, represent Salem, New Hampshire. How disappointing (kidding, kidding). A four-pierce that sound like a love child of every band ever, they describe themselves as a musical project that “straddles two very different Metal ideologies”, with vocalist/guitarist Brian Boshar drawing influence from Post-Hardcore and Progressive Rock such as the mighty Coheed And Cambria/Chiodos. Whereas, bassist/vocalist Dana Campbell let his love for classic Metal like Iron Maiden and Megadeth slip through. Perhaps a bold statement, Versa Mynor have a mission statement of being “dedicated to exploring the limits of progressive Metal”. How true does that feel on their new EP, ‘Strangers In Friction’ though? Opener ‘End Game’ goes in strong, with the inception of the first of many weird amalgamations of sounds. The track would likely be the product of a messy unplanned pregnancy, had Jimmy Eat World and Alter Bridge had a one-night-stand. As odd as that description might sound, it’s pretty damn good. It benefits from vocals akin to an under-developed Myles Kennedy, with melodies Emo-tinged just enough that JEW would be proud of them. The title-track carries on in a similar vein, beginning with a promising, slick riff before the re-introduction of Boshar’s sterling, progressively wailing voice. As one of the EP’s stronger tracks, this is also one of the more eccentric, featuring a melody that wouldn’t sound out of place in a Disney Classics soundtrack, and the evil laugh of a villain from such, too. Much to our disappointment, and the misfortune of Versa Mynor, the EP falls into all filler mid-album syndrome, with its central two tracks ‘Elysium I: Harmageddon’ and ‘Elysium II: Revelations’ feeling very stagnant and tedious. The former really just seems to have little going on, whilst the latter suffers from sloppy mixing and messily layered vocals. It’s too drawn out, and completely lacks the vigour and creativity of Strangers In Friction’s three other solid tracks. Much more to the band’s fortune, those three tracks salvage an EP from being one that may be completely slated and forgotten, to one that shows a deal of promise and anticipation for their future. They establish a strength in their original songwriting and lyrical content; often a weakness in many band’s first albums. With verses like those below, its clear that much of their writing is inspired by the powerful lyrics of late 80s/90s Metal. Thematically, it is far from untrodden and fresh, but its treatment is what makes it unique and frankly poetic. “Two as one I dream you as I wish you’d be But that’s not how that’s not how this works I’m hating myself for being myself so whenever I can I’ll be someone else” Versa Mynor wind up on ‘Le Petit Prince’, a track that begins with sonic similarities to early Maroon 5 and climaxes with a cracking chunky riff, perfectly harmonised “woahs” and gang vocals that all make for a solid finish. Their second EP may not completely fulfil their mission statement, but it certainly does a lot of exploring in the genre, and shows a hell of a lot of promise. ND
Carried Away – Common Case EP Carried Away bring their own brand of Hardcore from Bucks County, Philadelphia. Their own brand of Hardcore happens to be, however, not too dissimilar from the plethora of local Hardcore bands born out of the States. Things are kicked off with ‘Let It Go’, which starts with long and emotional screams, before dropping into a more intense and familiar sounding brand of Hardcore Punk as we are introduced to customarily strained Hardcore vocals. This is except for the fact that Carried Away are certainly more melody-heavy, straying away from the incessant drum pounding and feedback-heavy guitars of traditional Hardcore. The vocalist screams “QUIT TALKING ABOUT IT!” to close, sounding like a teenage kid annoyed with his parents. It’s all very angsty. ‘Common Case’ is far from a bad album; it just lacks inspiration so far. There’s an interesting break in ‘Don’t Look’ where we are introduced to a funky bass line and metronome-like drum, before the song kicks back in, that offers a refreshing disruption and something a little more original. Similarly, the anger in the breakdown that is conveyed whilst still retaining a lot of the melody is almost (ALMOST) reminiscent of the Beastie Boys. The rap-shouted vocals at the beginning of final track, and potentially the record’s strongest, ‘Memories’ are very cool, too. This is one of the album’s most energetic and high-octane tracks, weighing in at just 1:51 in length. What of Common Case, then? It’ll go down well at a local Hardcore show and it’ll get the kids two-stepping, but does it serve any greater purpose, or will it go much further? Probably not. Carried Away, go ahead and prove us wrong. ND
The Old Red Wines - Piel Reptil Given their location, The Old Red Wines’ music makes a lot of sense. Their music borders the lines of Americana, providing a sonically vivid description of what the landscape would sound like if we could hear it. ‘Piel Reptile’ could background the tale of a western film, riding off into the bright colored sunset. Each song is packed to the brim of gigantic movements as most songs play out over four minutes. Their hazy brand of psychedelic trance bleeds into some of the tunes, making the tales seem as if they are being told right by the campfire in the brisk evening. ‘HeShaTan’ is one example of this, with the guitars riding the waves of dizzying effects behind a chant like vocal performance. It sounds like a beckoning call for the spirits of the desert to begin their meditation. Their melodies captivate the atmosphere of the land, possessing a ethereal blend of soaring melodies and pulsing rhythms. Their dynamics expand with the movements of the earth, and that is why ‘Piel Reptile’ is such an interesting listen.
SG Revil In Romance - Right and Wrong EP Revel In Romance bring a familiar appeal to the table with the ‘Right And Wrong’ EP. Warm synths mix with glittery guitars and powerful vocals for an all around fun time. The three songs are energetic, sprinkled with upbeat rhythms and happy sounding melodies. ‘Summer Nights’ is a reflective tune built for the fun embedded within summer vacation. The growing build before the chorus is full of a happy-go-lucky catharsis that just feels so damn good. The instrumental breakdown is a bubbly atmosphere full of popping guitar leads. Even when Revel In Romance slow down with deep piano chords on ‘Dust’ there is still a feel that things are okay, it’s why it feels so right to listen to the ‘Right And Wrong’ EP. SG
Billy Talent - Afraid of Heights I’ve always enjoyed the music of Billy Talent, the roots of punk infused with old school rock and roll. In addition to this the vocals provided by Benjamin Kowalewicz just resonated with me on a high level when I first heard them, back in the days when ‘Try Honesty’ was spread round AOL chat rooms like a naked celeb selfie. It’s amazing that even after all these years they can still produce the best music they possibly can. As always they’ve found the perfect combination of tracks on each and every album. The titular track ‘Afraid of Heights’ is notably one of the more mellow tracks on the album and is sandwiched between ‘Big Red Gun’ [which holds the political stance adopted in their last album, ‘Dead Silence’] and ‘Ghost Ship of Cannibal Rats’. The latter of which just screams classic Billy Talent with its funky bass intro and chaos controlled drum rhythms making it one of, if not the best track on the album. I love the different styles and sounds these guys use; Louder than the DJ is an upbeat song about the state of modern music and how rock is nearly dead, which in some respects can be true. In comparison, ‘Rabbit Down the Hole’ has more of a personal feel and there’s a sense that every word sang stems from a very emotional place. Much like ‘Rusted from the Rain’, this track erupts with an electric guitar section in the middle.
It’s evident they’ve taken influences from a lot of major acts in the process of creating this album. The rhythm for ‘Horses and Chariots’ has an epic style, that could have been created for a stadium act such as Muse. Likewise later in the album, the big build up in ‘This is Our War’ sounds almost like classic metal with elements of Iron Maiden fused in for good measure. The album culminates with a down tempo version of ‘Afraid of Heights’ with some added electronica mixed in for good measure, it’s an odd way to finish but strangely it works. I think it’s truly spectacular that twenty years after their conception they’re still managing to produce amazing music. Billy Talent are one of those acts that can be like Marmite, Benjamin’s voice is truly unique and not to everyone’s taste but you can’t deny they’re damn good at what they do. ‘Afraid of Heights’ is the fifth studio album produced by the Canadian group and it’s clear that to be big you don’t need to throw out any old garbage year after year, you need to produce great music that will last as long as your band will. This effort is proof that these guys are still relevant in rock and roll and they can still be “louder than any DJ”. RO
Black Ocean - EP It’s difficult to pin down how to describe Black Ocean, they’ve given themselves the title of alternative rock however I’d say it’s closer to a cross between The Vines and Oasis with some classic Nirvana mixed in. Whatever it is, it’s entertaining. Since debuting in 2014 this Yorkshire four piece have been making a name for themselves by playing shows all over the country even supporting bigger artists such as Max Raptor and Brawlers. Now their latest EP has hit and it showcases exactly what they can do. With electrifying guitar rhythms and head pounding drum beats they’ve definitely solidified their sound just two years after their formation. They still sound delightfully DIY as well, the beat of each drum sounds like it was recorded in a tin can rather than a studio and that’s how music like this should sound. ‘I’ve Got A Plan’ is a very grunge-esque track that where as ‘Biffy Kills’ is more of a modern rock track that wouldn’t feel too out of place in the charts. It’s nice to see that a band can have a lot of diversity when there’s not a lot of it these days. Although this EP is only five songs long it definitely gives off the best impression for this young up and coming band. Yorkshire’s Black Ocean are another band that have made their way into the elusive label known as “alternative rock”. So elusive because it seems to have no demographic to stick to, as long as there’s some sort of strained vocals and electric guitars then you’re in. This band are certainly ten for ten when it comes to this. RO
Lonely The Brave - Things Will Matter If I had a pound for every time I’ve heard how Lonely The Brave are “the next big thing” and “these guys are amazing, how have you not listened to them” and “other cliche thing about next big band” I’d have enough money to give each member of Lonely The Brave enough money to just stop for my benefit. However these guys are good at what they do and I can see why a lot of people would enjoy it. I consider myself adept to a lot of music genres, I feel I wouldn’t be able to do my job if I wasn’t diverse in my music selection but everything about this band for me is just boring. They’re somewhere in between rock and indie and it seems to be a purgatory of boredom. It’s a very useful tool used by rock bands, start the first song nice and mellow and make the rest as hard hitting as you can. ‘Wait in the Car’ uses this well, the build up with the use of a melodic keyboard and steady guitar puts the listener into a false sense of security only to be followed by an all out rock track in ‘Black Mire’. The single ‘Rattlesnakes’ truly takes the spotlight on this album, it’s easy to see why this was the one they chose to release. The delicate way the lead guitar is utilised is incredible and combined with the very unique vocals from Mark Trotter make this a brilliant alternative rock track that is perfect for the airways. It’s easy to see how people wouldn’t like Lonely the Brave, I certainly don’t, they are not to my taste at all. However their style of indie rock is exactly what the airwaves are loving right now. Like Bastille before them they are conquering left, right and centre. ‘Dust and Bones’ begins with an awesome drum introduction and truly displays how good these guys can be at what they do. The chorus when the vocals kick in full force make this an awesome classic rock song that would be hard to top. Lonely The Brave are everywhere at the minute and considering they’ve been going for eight years perhaps it is their time in the limelight finally, I’m not a huge fan but they’re damn good at what they do and definitely aren’t leaving any time soon. RO
Rob Lynch – Baby, I’m A Runaway Everyone’s favourite English singer-songwriter (who isn’t Frank Turner, Ed Sheeran or Newton Faulkner) has returned to grace us with another folksy album that will no doubt be unnoticed by exactly the kind of people who are likely to enjoy it. There’s something undeniably likeable about Rob Lynch. Even if you aren’t a huge fan of the accent which doesn’t seem to have one exact point of origin, there’s no way that the catchy, acoustic-but-now-with-a-full-backing-band-aswell, pop-rock won’t tug on your heartstrings like a baby koala dangling above a lake of lava. The use now of a backing band has given Rob’s music a much grander feel. No longer are we treated to acoustic songs that, while lovely, all felt a bit token and same-y at times. Now we have actual songs, and the backing band bringing something more to the overall feel of the tracks has really given something to the songwriting as well. Songs like opening track ‘Prove It!’ are a Deaf Havana-esque journey through excellent British songwriting. Even though Rob Lynch is only now starting to build the kind of acclaim he deserves when you’re able to consistently write songs as good as he does, it feels like ‘Baby, I’m A Runaway’ may yet endear the audience to him further. The songs are just as good as ever, but now there’s something a lot more full and thought-out to them, and hopefully there will be a massive push for him to be heard by the crowd that like Deaf Havana or We Are The Ocean, because those are exactly the sort of people who will get a massive kick out of it. AL
Deaf Or Glory - The Anger Management EP Excellently named Deaf Or Glory from Blackpool are another in the line of twopieces that sound like there is about six of them all playing at the same time. Although it would be nice for it to not just sound like there’s a guitar playing through an octave pedal, the riffs in songs like ‘100 Ways To Say Sorry’ are just about big enough for you to not care and put your foot through the coffee table in rock-induced mania. Bands like Deaf Or Glory are perhaps always destined to play in pubs until the end of time, but not every band like them is able to write hard rock songs the like of these. After a few listens the cracks do start to become a bit more apparent – Deaf Or Glory aren’t bringing anything particularly new to the table of musical innovation, the songs are all quite formulaic and they sound modern in the same way that the New Zealand rugby team are spoilt little girls. Nonetheless, Deaf Or Glory are perfectly adequate at least at what they do, and those of you so inclined in the dad rock scene may even stretch to: “great, or whatever word it is the kids use these days.”AL
The Crash Mats – Now That’s What I Call Crash Mats 69 Every once in a while here at Stencil HQ we get sent through things that we’re not entirely sure what they are. It’s music, yes, but exactly what the hell is it trying to accomplish? ‘Now That’s What I Call Crash Mats 69’, though a hilarious title for an album, is one such piece of music. Sometimes it’s ska, sometimes rock, sometimes reggae, sometimes it sounds like the entire career of Rancid being played all at once by Bob Marley and the Wailers. As interesting a notion as this sounds on paper, it’s actually not that great. ‘Now That’s What I Call Crash Mats 69’ would be a perfectly functional thing for a live band to play at midnight after a particularly messy wedding reception, but it loses some of the fun and immediacy when placed on record. The first song is about smoking what we can only presume to be narcotics all night, and when you’re listening to it at 11am in the front room in your pyjamas or taking the dog for a walk, much of the impact is more lost than the plot of, err, Lost. Thankfully the album is 11 tracks and only just over 20 minutes long, which some of you may find to be a blessing. The wackier-minded out there are sure to get a bong hit of gigantic proportions from this but those who like music for the art may find themselves getting annoyed and/or bored within the first 30 seconds. AL
Sinnergod – Sinnergod What if we told you that the new Sinnergod album opens with a goth-rock track that uses a MAJOR CHORD?! Hailed as the “new goth kings of Manchester”, Sinnergod’s second full-length album is a surprising aural assault from nowhere the likes of which hasn’t been seen since the first Muderdolls album. Though the bands they could be compared to range from Alter Bridge to Motionless In White, Sinnergod’s sound is very clearly defined on this album. Stompy goth-rock, complete with creepy synth sounds, no small amount of clever studio elements, a singer with a lower-mid range singing voice and massive choruses that are as dark as they are inspiring. Even if you aren’t so much into the goth tinge that sits over the whole album like a big dark cloud occasionally throwing chapters of The Necronomicon at you, the choruses especially in songs like ‘The Endless’ are so well-written and wonderfully executed that fans of any rock music in general would be hard-pushed to not nod their head in wide-eyed appreciation. AL
Red Hot Chili Peppers - The Getaway After a five year gap, the Chilli's are back with their 11th album and one that could well be my favourite since 1991's ‘Blood, Sugar, Sex, Magik’. It is an album that is subtle in its brilliance, managing the balance what is, at times, a mainstream sound with the raw and wild way they have of songwriting, the opener is listener friendly and fairly straight forward but it is with 'Dark Necessitates' that they really start to open it up. The classic Flea funky, slap bass alongside some great guitar work from new man, Josh Kliffhoffer makes for a great listen with a so loose it makes it so tight. Anthony Kiedis's voice rings with emotion throughout with thoughtful lyrics that need that subtle passion ringing through them. I've used the word subtle twice already but that is very much the story of the album, for the most part at least, it is subtle. Everything is very deliberate but done in a way that leaves it open to interpretation as to how to take it. It is very chilled out for large portions, essentially making it a chill out album able to let you just take it in. There is no need for large time spent concentrating on what is happening. The formula that has made Red Hot Chilli Peppers what they are is all over the album, the funk, the groove, the occasionally ridiculous lyrics which I have always loved about them. Kliffhoffer has settled well into the band, some of those little licks that sit in the background at times simply have an ability to bounce out, grab you and make you think “yes, that was cool!”. He even takes over bass duties on the superb 'The Hunter' and does a great job. There are not any particular weak points on the album and even by the time 'Dreams of a Samurai' begins to close out the album it is obvious how accomplished this album is. It isn't anything spectacular or going to win album of the year but it’s so solid throughout with so many potential singles on it and it’s easy to flick the repeat button on at the end. It is to a certain extent another reinvention of the bands sound but still keeps the distinct Chilli Peppers sound in a, and here's that word again, subtle way. A worthy addition to the Red Hot Chilli Peppers story. AN
The Strokes - Future Present Past The Strokes return with an EP that finds them on good form, catchy and classic strokes sounding opener 'Drag Queen' has all the sounds that made them stand out over the years. It is a slow builder, laden with little hooks that are building blocks to the main grind of the song. Although it has potential to be a real stormer of a song at times, it never really kicks into it. It is slightly too by the numbers in its approach and while listenable, doesn't quite match up to what it could have been. The same can't be said for 'Oblivous', this starts with a great flow to it, groovy and a little funky with catchy bass lines and a great jump to the high points with great vocals that lift it higher. The melodic middle section is top class and makes for a very enjoyable song that is the stand out track. 'Threat of Joy' continues the good work with another groovy undertone that gives it a kind of swagger, suave and simple but again has it nailed. This one falls slightly behind 'Oblivious' for no other reason than I just preferred the previous, it's still a great tune. The EP closes with 'Oblivious' being remixed by Fabrizzio Moretti which having enjoyed the normal version so much really doesn't do anything for me. It's fun and decent enough I suppose but after enjoying those two song so much after a lacklustre opening is a disappointment. That said though, it's a fun EP, the middle songs are the stand outs and make it a worth while buy, but given the choice? I'd download those two songs separately because unlike when I was a kid, you can do that now!
WACO - Uprise These London boys have been a busy bunch of late, hitting the road hard across the UK and Europe and they have a top notch EP to promote, ‘Uprise’ starts with a banger in 'A Mighty Hope'. A fast punk fused number that although is the best part of three minutes seems to be over a lot quicker than that. There is a build that explodes into a fantastic wall of noise and also packs a surprising amount of sections into the quick fire song, an absolute belter of an opener. 'SE17' brings with it a bit more melody and a feel of The Wildhearts in the opening section, it is a simple song but so many of the best songs are just that. Simple but laden with hooks and for me, a few “woah woah woahs” are always a great thing. It is a bit more of a raw sound on 'Rotten Teeth' but it has a great beat and melody to it, short and sharp, one to really lose it to before 'Nancy Guntrip' settles into a slower, more soulful vibe. It is a nice change of pace before it kicks back into a high gear with a high octane continuance while still holding the charm of its opening. 'Salem' cuts lose from start to finish and makes a great finisher, edging to the heavy end of punk but with memorable sections. Ideal for crowd participation. A great closer for a great EP, catchy, heavy and simply great fun. AN
Trash Boat - Nothing I Write You Can Change What You’ve Been Through You just have to read the album title to realise this is a very personal album, St Albans’ Trash Boat are ready to rise to the top of the pop punk scene and with Dan Campbell (The Wonder Years) on board to produce the album, it got me excited to check it out. ‘Strangers’ has a peaceful introduction before exploding into powerful vocal and in particular drumming exhibition, the verses flow very well and it’s an impressive opening to the debut album, the addition of Dan Campbell was clever and the different vocals work well in tandem. ‘How Selfish I Seem’ is equally explosive with its Set Your Goals esque opening, despite a solid chorus the aggressive vocal style gets a little tiring towards the end of the track. In contrast to track two, ‘Tiring Quarry’ finds the perfect balance with very slick verses and Tobi Duncan’s more reserved vocal style blending well with the simple riff and potent drum beat, this is definitely one of the highlights of the record. Again I would like the hostile vocal style to be toned down to complement the beautiful instrumentation on ‘Brave Face’; I understand however how the passion in the vocals reflects the very personal message in the lyrics. ‘Eleven’ is another solid number with a furious drum beat which is then reduced cleverly half way through the track to build up to an awesome collective outcry of “rip my heart from my sleeve, sink it deep inside my chest; Bury me beneath my skin, a stranger to those, who knew me the best” which creates a highly effective and emotional end to the track.
Again I’m getting Set Your Goals vibes with the short ‘Pangaea’ with its clever variation of riffs and a violent drum beat, you can definitely hear some possible hardcore punk influences. ‘Second Wind’ is another experimental number instrumentally until the chorus where the riff is more predictable and cleverly lets the vocals take the front of the stage. ‘Catharsis’ is possibly the best track on the record; it has the most mature sound, at times the different instruments have clashed during this record, this is the most consistent track; the chorus of “Affliction’s left its mark on me, my temper vapid and heartless, submission force feeds my apathy, but every breath is catharsis” is one I can imagine screamed back at the band on a live stage, the song gets even better towards the end with an excellent atmospheric piece of guitar work. ‘Things We Leave Behind’ doesn’t do much for the listener; it acts as an interlude for the remaining tracks. There’s a reawakening with the powerful penultimate track ‘The Guise of a Mother’ is possibly the most angsty track on the album, this track’s verse is the most emotive on the entire album and seems to convey a very strong message. Trash Boat end their debut full length in style with ‘You Know, You Know, You Know’ – the lyrics give the listener an insight into the sentimental vocal style, “so I’m writing songs, staying strong” indicating the importance of music to the songwriter. Overall this is a strong debut album; it has only minor flaws and there are a few memorable numbers, as the band go on to write more music, they can only become more experienced at songwriting and their future looks positive indeed. JP
Blink-182 - California Pop punk legends are back with ‘California’ their 7th studio album – with a bit of a twist. Matt Skiba (Alkaline Trio) replaced Tom DeLonge after a disagreement between the band members, I was intrigued after hearing this news how this record would sound. The record kicks off with ‘Cynical’ which reminds me of the band’s earlier sound but with less oomph, the chorus is superb and the more aggressive vocals from Matt Skiba complement the softer vocal style of Mark Hoppus. The second track ‘Bored to Death’ is your typical Blink-182 single with the simple riff and another contagious chorus; which however does get slightly monotonous over the duration of the song. ‘She’s Out of Her Mind’ is easily one of the best tracks on the record and has a very early 2000s nostalgic feel to it, the pre-chrous line ‘She's a-a-a-antisocial, a-a-a-antisocial’ is particularly appealing, personally I feel this song may have acted better as the first single. ‘Los Angeles’ is a much more anthemic and powerful tone compared to the pop punk style numbers so far on the record, the production is very good and makes Mark Hoppus’ voice stand out. ‘Sober’ is another enjoyable and easy number, you can definitely hear the influence of Patrick Stump (Fall Out Boy) who cowrote this song, it has a ‘Sugar We’re Goin Down’ feel to it, it’s a solid track to maintain the flow of the album. After a pointless 17 second joke song in ‘Built This Pool’, we move on to possibly the best song on the album – ‘No Future’ the chemistry between Hoppus and Skiba is superb and they both execute their parts in this song very well, the hook “they don't care about you” is ridiculously addictive and stays in your head despite listening to the remaining tracks. The band’s track order is impressive on this record, following the extremely fun ‘No Future’ they tone things down with ‘Home Is Such A Lonely Place’ which reminds me of more recent bands like Real Friends and Transit, the drum pattern is very neat and the lyrics are very poignant. ‘Kings of The Weekend’ is one of the more weaker numbers on the record, unlike previous tracks on this record the momentum doesn’t really carry all the way through, the riffs are pretty impressive though. ‘Teenage Satellites’ mainly features Matt Skiba on vocals and I can’t help feeling the famous lackadaisical vocal style of Tom DeLonge would have worked better on the verses and chorus, Skiba’s effort is pretty solid nevertheless. Any doubts about Matt Skiba can be quickly forgotten after listening to ‘Left Alone’, Hoppus takes the back seat on this track and Skiba’s vocal reach is impressive and again provides an interesting edgy element to Blink-182’s usually simple sound. ‘Rabbit Hole’ is one of the quicker tracks on the record and is a combination of the older Blink-182 sound and the more modern pop punk sound that has grown in popularity, again their choice of this being their second single is questionable as there are some tracks on the album which deserve their own limelight. Unfortunately ‘San Diego’ is not as potent as ‘Los Angeles’ – it’s still a strong catchy number and Mark Hoppus is particularly strong on this song. ‘The Only Thing That Matters’ sounds like a less aggressive early 2000s Sum 41, the bass line gives this track a strong pop punk feel, personally this track is a little uncomfortable as the pace of the guitars and drums seem to rush the vocals, it may have been better as a longer track. The penultimate and title track is tribute to ‘California’ which is fitting seeing as the band formed in Poway, Calfornia but it’s not a particularly good song. The record finishes with a 30 second ‘Brohemian Rhapsody’ which is a rapid mix of instruments and one closing line. Overall it’s a mixed bag from the one of the best pop punk bands of all time, the addition of Matt Skiba was an inspired choice and he has a few solid moments on this record, the first half of the album is much more memorable than the second half, overall it’s a good effort considering the changes that were made. JP
Good Charlotte - Youth Authority Good Charlotte are back with their sixth album ‘Youth Authority’, six years after releasing ‘Cardiology’. It hasn’t taken the band long to get the new record after returning back from hiatus in 2015, the band took an extended break in order to find their creative side once again. They begin with a bang with ‘Life Changes’ which is a fast number with a very clean chorus, this song is particularly personal to the band – “we said we'll never give up 'til we die, and try to help our friends, we learn to live again, we'll never say it's over 'til the end”, indicating a clear message that the band are clearly back and want to extend their music career. ‘Makeshift Love’ is more pop than punk, it reminds me a lot of All Time Low with its summery riffs overlaying the simple lyrics; it’s an enjoyable track with a very enjoyable chorus. ‘40 oz. Dream’ is a bit of an odd song with the band reflecting the cultural changes since the band’s prime back in 2003, the band seem to indicate their rap influence music describing how rappers have become singers rather than the days when they “Grew Up on MTV when they had Eazy-E”, I’d compare the sound to something like Wheatus, I’m not sure whether I like it or not... ‘Life Can’t Get Much Better’ is another softer melodic number with a real positive and uplifting sound which is contradicted by the depressing song title and depressing chorus. The record continues with ‘Keep Swingin’ which is a message to say those who believe the band have sold out, the lyric “we keep swingin' and we all just go down, saying and playing what we think” implies a sense of stubbornness from the band, the almost feminine vocals from guest Kellin Quinn add an interesting element. Suddenly you’re listening to Biffy Clyro with Simon Neil opening up ‘Reason to Stay’, despite some fairly ordinary verses this track becomes a big anthem thanks to a boisterous and very enjoyable chorus. ‘Stray Dogs’ is unfortunately one of the more laborious heartbreak songs on this record; it’s what I would call a ‘filler’ track on this album, things unfortunately don’t improve quickly after the unnecessary ‘Stick to Your Guns Interlude’.
‘The Outfield’ is one of the strongest songs on the record and reminds me of the classic Good Charlotte sound which made them such a success, the song has a great flow with a slick riff and probably the catchiest chorus and hooks on the entire album. ‘Cars Full of People’ has a country western feel to it with its pleasant acoustic tune and bouncy beats; it could easily be in your summer playlist. The album finishes strongly with the excellent ‘War’ which has probably the best vocal performance on the album; the arrangement of this song deserves credit and the bridge is one of the main highlights on the album. ‘Moving On’ confirms the whole message of the band returning from hiatus, most notably in the post-chorus “we're not breaking down, we're not breaking up, we’re just moving on”, this song helps conclude my thoughts on this album – for every good moment there is something that lets it down (the long outro on ‘Moving On’). There are couple of memorable anthems on this album, but there are times where the band may have had a lack of ideas, Good Charlotte fans will just be happy that they are back from hiatus and in full swing. JP
Night Verses - Into The Vanishing Light Night Verses are chiefly an experimental, Progressive Post-Hardcore outfit whose second album ‘Into The Vanishing Light’ dropped just a couple of weeks ago. Formed in LA, the four-pierce have a wealth of experience independently, despite this current project only being in its fourth year. Debut record ‘Lift Your Existence’ was fairly divisive in its critics’ opinions, but was generally overlooked by music fans and possibly didn’t receive the credit it was due in some areas. Can their sophomore release propel them in the right direction, though? If there’s one way to hook new listeners and to make a good first impression, then that would be to roar into a couple of the most blinding songs your band has ever written, right at the start of the record. Alongside having a mouthful of a title, ‘The Future as History: I Love You Did’ is wonderfully complex in its song structure. Pulling in all the weight of his Emo roots from former band The Sleeping, vocalist Ross Robinson wails with words spilling with sentiment atop an organised mess of disjointed riffs and thunder. Its successor has a slightly different offering, with an amalgamation of rap-shouting verses and a big radio friendly chorus. Similarly, ‘Drift’ lets us into something even more tranquil and seemingly off kilter, with delicate production courtesy of Ross Robinson (responsible for Slipknot’s self-titled, KoRn and Limp Bizkit.) It’s almost beautiful.
Night Verses are unafraid of pushing and exploring boundaries to breaking point, and do so with greater purpose and to a much better extent than their previous release. If you made an attempt to decipher their influences, you’d find yourself at a loss: there are huge, haunting, atmospheric sections, harsh and aggressive parts, the most Emo of vocals, the most fragile of songs and then vocals akin to a screaming Fred Durst (be it may an influence of the record’s producer). Despite its ridiculous longevity, album closer ‘Phoenix III: Into The Vanishing Light’ features some of the record’s highlights. Its winding guitars, soft and delicate snares to thunderous, pounding drums and visceral, throat-tearing screams take you through a nausea-inducing amount of twists and turns. The album has other high points, too, but is unfortunately inconsistent. Where experimentation and turn taking can be so crazily original and captivating, it can also lead to a feeling of no direction and ‘Into The Vanishing Light’ does suffer from this. Powerful, it may be, but ‘Faceless Youth’ really does lack direction and ‘Growing Out of Orbit’ is arguably the weakest offering from the album, providing nothing more than unnecessary filler. It’s blindingly obvious that Night Verses have boundless talent and more importantly, individuality – it just needs to be honed. This is definitely a progression in doing so, but they’re not quite there. Not just yet. NH
For the next couple of days we'll be soaking up the incredible atmosphere that 2000 Trees Festival provides. A couple of cool pointers to give you a feel about the place. It's a bit smaller than a lot of the more well known festivals out there, so this means that you are more than likely to get your tent etc to where you want to camp quicker! You can pretty much eat and drink what you are allowed to bring into the festival anywhere you like. Which is unlike other festivals as you are sadly forced to buy food and drinks at horrendous prices for the the worst quality. There's an acoustic stage in the middle of the forest, as well as campsites named after Frank Turner and the band Reuben. Not forgetting a gaming tent where you can travel back in time by playing games like Goldeneye!
THURSDAY We manage to catch Dave McPherson on the acoustic stage first. His vocals are just perfect for that setting. He treated us to some InMe tracks including 'Turbulence' 'Faster The Chase' & 'Firefly' as well as mixing in his own solo material such as 'Snowball' & 'If I Could Change' which all get a pleasant response. Not forgetting his awesome cover of 'Boom! Shake the Room'! And So I Watch You From Afar are always so awesome to watch live, they always send the crowd into an absolute frenzy, literally, just a wave of people drenched in beer and sweat who just visually look like they don't want to be anywhere else in the world. 'BEAUTIFULUNIVERSEMASTERCHAMPION' 'The Voiceless' & 'Set Guitars to Kill' all just knocked me off my feet, they destroyed The Cave stage. For those lucky enough to be in attendance at 2000 Trees Festival, then they were in for a treat tonight, as Frank Turner did a surprise acoustic set on the Axiom stage to end Thursday in style. He decided to play 'England Keep My Bones' in full, which was fine by me, because I like every album he has done...ha. As expected, he got an exceptional response, and to top it off at the end he added a couple more tracks to the set list including 'The Ballad Of Me And My Friends' and 'Get Better'. Perfect.
FRIDAY The first band we see today is Crooks, who bring their infectious and haunting melodies to the days sunshine. They are defiantly something a bit different, but after their intense & atmospheric performance then we have no doubt that these guys will capture fans wherever they decide to play. We also managed to catch the last two songs of Press To MECO who other than having a packed out tent when it wasn't raining, sounded really, really cool! Their special take on alternative rock went down well, and the crowd interaction was kept at a high throughout. Happy Accidents provide an interesting indie rock style, and although they've just started out, they pull in a big crowd and prove that the future is already looking good. We went back to The Forrest stage after this to watch an acoustic performance by The Xcerts! It was only the early afternoon but it was simply impossible to get a good view already, simply proving how popular The Xcerts are now becoming. 'Shaking In The Water' & 'Slackerpop' were stunning to watch in an acoustic way, and we have nothing but good things to say about that band. Neck Deep bring their now well known take on pop punk to the main stage at 2000 Trees Festival. 'Gold Steps', 'Can't Kick Up The Roots' & 'A Part of Me' create a great crowd atmosphere, and at some points their lead singer Ben Barlow doesn't need to sing too loud because the crowd are full on going for it. Mallory Knox continue to display how good British rock music is doing right now, by performing killer tracks from both 'Signals' & 'Asymmetry'! 'Lighthouse' especially has everyone dancing, moshing, crowd surfing, singing...you just can't go wrong with this band. Moose Blood are just absolutely killing it right now, everywhere they go, everyone there knows the lyrics to every song they play. Tonight was no different. On the Axiom stage you could barely hear the band sing, as the crowd were just ready every time their lead singer Eddy gestured towards the mic. You could tell that the band were visually blown away by the response, which is always great to see. 'Honey' 'Bukowski' 'Gum' 'Cherry' are just some of the memorable moments from the set. Right now Twin Atlantic are prepping to release 'GLA' to the world, an album which is as you guessed is based on where they are from 'Glasgow'! So to get their fans ready for that, they hit us with a couple of new tracks including 'No Sleep' & 'Ex El' which both go down really and keep the audience entertained. To add to this, we are of course treated to the classics such as 'Heart and Soul' 'Hold On' 'Make A Beast Of Myself' which are all executed to the highest quality, with not a wrong note in site. 'Free' featuring Murray from The Xcerts was my personal highlight though, the icing on top of an already very impressive headline show.
SATURDAY Itch starts the day for us over at The Forrest stage. With his ukulele tracks combined with poetry interludes, it was really just chilled out to watch. He even played a cover of 'Bat Out Of Hell' on the ukulele! So two thumbs up for that, not forgetting that he stayed after the set to collect goods for a charity that he currently supports. All in all, a positive time. We stayed at The Forrest stage to see Jamie Lenman do an acoustic set next. For me, the last time I saw him was when he was actually in Reuben, so it was great to see him after all of these years and see how happy and energetic he is when it comes to performing live. Although he only played covers, it was good fun, and he made sure that the crowd was having a great time throughout. We even got to see a cover of the theme tunes for Neighbours & Home & Away! Amazing. With their fusion of rap rock, hip hop, rock, and even pop The LaFontaines were a pleasure to watch, and just something completely different in a positive way. At the end of their set the crowd were chanting "one more song", which of course can only be a good sign.
Creeper are a band that a lot of the music media have been watching right now, some are already calling them the next My Chemical Romance, and rightly so, because they are brilliant. Not only do they come across as just nice people to be around, but their music is simply intoxicating. 'Henley's Ghost' 'VCR' 'Gloom' are some of my personal highlights from the set, and I'd recommend that you just don't miss this band if they come to a town near you any time soon! Arcane Roots are just ridiculously talented, seriously, if you just watch how Andrew Groves (lead guitar/vocals) performs for one song then you'll agree with me. There's no one else with an alternative rock sound like these guys, and we can only hope that they continue to get more well known as they continue. Their performance at Trees today was just brilliant, and you can get started with this band by just listening to 'Over & Over'. Recreations (previously Get Cape. Wear Cape. Fly) takes on The Neu Stage with his funky new project. He played a great set, and with each track you can tell that the effort that goes into to what Sam does is unreal. He'll be playing about with the peddles, changing guitars, and just making sure that everything sounded as good as it could. I hadn't heard the Recreations release just yet, but after this, I certainly will give it a listen! I wasn't a huge fan of 'Red Spex', but loved everything else.
The King Blues dominate the main stage next by performing all of their hits like 'My Boulder' 'I Got Love' 'The Streets Are Ours' 'Save The World, Get The Girl'. Although they've had some line-up changes it's fair to say that they are still putting on a great live show, and we can't wait for that next album! If you read a recent issue of Stencil Mag then you might of seen an article about an upcoming act called Grumble Bee! Well, this is who we watched next, and in short, yes, he is as good as we made him out to be, and from the performance we can only strongly recommend again that if you haven't done so already, then you should check this act out right now! 'Sky Writer' was just absolutely brilliant to witness live. Ash cram in as many of their hits as possible, as well as a couple of new tracks from their most recent album 'Kablammo!' to provide a set that gets everyone going crazy as the night progresses. They are one of the most important indie-rock bands to come out of the UK in the last twenty years, and if for some reason you're reading this, and haven't heard them just yet. Then get stuck in! They put on a note perfect show, and the standout moments for me would include 'Orpheus' 'Burn Baby Burn' & 'Girl From Mars'! Cheers 2000 Trees Festival, that was fantastic.
So here I am at Download, or should I say "Drownload" for another year of as many rock bands as you can possibly imagine watching in a weekend, as well as weather that changes from blistering sunshine to torrential downpour within an hour. I went for the full five day experience this year, and by doing this, you are more likely to get a camping spot that isn't by a toilet, and you can also just relax and enjoy the Download Festival vibe with your friends. If you don't want to know what happens on Game of Thrones, then you might want to give the festival a miss, as for the last couple of years, whatever has happened recently on the show, can normally be heard being shouted across the campsite. Anyhow, let's take you through some of my personal highlights of the weekend:
FRIDAY Getting the weekend started with their sweet take on rock I witness Royal Republic who came all the way from Sweden to give a very memorable show. If you like The Hives, then this is a band for you to check out. 2nd on the main stage it's Alien Ant Farm, other than being well known for their cover of 'Smooth Criminal' they've actually built an impressive back catalogue of tracks, which comes across as they knock out a great performance and remind the audience why they are still clearly more than worthy of our attention. Babymetal provide something just completely different, and although their energetic take on Japanese metal wasn't for me, they seemed to get an incredible response from the crowd who stood through the afternoon rain to catch their set. Now fully cemented with Jesse on vocals, Killswitch Engage are back and just as strong as they ever were to provide modern metal hits such as 'Rose of Sharyn' 'The End of Heartache' 'Alone I Stand' & 'My Curse' which all get the circle pits flowing in full motion. I always feel like these guys have the potential to headline Download, and if they keep releasing hits like they've already got, then it may well be possible! Obviously this year has been absolutely awful for losing musical legends, Lemmy from Motorhead being one of them. So to remember this icon the festival not only named the main stage 'The Lemmy Stage' but in the time slot they were supposed to perform today, they took an old video of the band performing at Download and played it on the big screen, so that people could mosh out, and remember him together. A very appropriate reminder of how important Lemmy was. InMe take on the 4th stage next with their powerful metal fused with infectious rock sound. As they celebrate 20 years as a band, and as the material they come out with only gets stronger, then you can only be left confused as to why they're not much higher up on the line-up than where they are right now. They put on a storming set, and knock it out of the park by ending with 'Faster The Chase', brilliant. Rammstein bring an actual sea of people to their set, and provide a stage show that is just mesmerizing to watch. Flamethrowers on guitars, flying, oh and stomping tracks that get the crowd going crazy, they've got it all. 'Du Hast' was just awesome to witness.
SATURDAY Last year they were performing on one of the lower stages, and now they're second on the main stage. It's clear to see that their first album 'Disgusting' has done nothing but great things for Beartooth on a global basis. They get the crowd moving right from the first note, and tracks from their brand new album 'Aggressive' go down just as well as the older gems, this is 100% a band to watch out for. Atreyu arrive on stage to perform at Download for the first time in years. The crowd accept the band with open arms and instead make it feel like they were there just yesterday, by providing circle pits as far as the eye can see, whilst singing loud to every track. It's great to have them back on the touring circuit, and how can you not love watching 'Right Side of the Bed' live? Nikki Sixx is here with his project Sixx:A.M., a ridiculously talented group that provide some of the catchiest hard rock tracks I've ever heard. Sixx is an extremely talented bass player, James Michael has a voice that hits every note in existence, and DJ Ashba played for a little band called Guns N Roses. They may of been around since 2007, but from the unstoppable show they put on at Download, then it looks like they are just getting started. Have a listen to 'When We Were Gods'.
If you haven't listened to Rival Sons yet, then you're missing out. For those that complain about "the same old bands" playing at Download Festival, then Rival Sons are for you. Literally as soon as Jay Buchanan started singing, the whole crowd fell silent. He is obviously naturally gifted, and will go on to be one of the best rock singers of our generation. 'Electric Man' 'Hollow Bones Pt. 1' & 'Keep On Swinging' are all just epic to watch, and as the rest of the band provide the same effort in what they do as Jay does on vocals live, then it's obvious that these guys will just be rising up the line-up from this point in. As the weather still continues to show no signs of getting better I'm now watching Skindred who do what they do best, keep the spirits high, keep the crowd moving, and just ensure that everyone is having a great time. The Newport Helicopter happened (YouTube it) and hits like 'Warning' 'Kill The Power' 'Nobody' had the crowd moving in the same way Rage Against The Machine would with their hard hitting riffs. I've said it before, and I'll say it again, Skindred could headline Download Festival, and I really hope it happens in the not so distant future. Currently on their final world tour, Black Sabbath are here to remind us of their legacy by sharing hit after hit with a crowd that is just of every generation. In short, it's insane what this band have accomplished. Ozzy Osbourne gives it his all, by running all over the stage, and just making sure that the crowd are fully engaged in the show. Tony Iommi also provides his incredible guitar work in full force throughout the set. 'War Pigs', 'Iron Man' & 'Paranoid' blow me away, and just leave me sad with the notion that that's the last time I'll ever see Sabbath take on the main stage at Download. An incredible band to say the least.
SUNDAY It's Sunday, and yes, it's raining still. I managed to see Halestorm briefly, and from what I saw Lzzy Hale had a voice that captivated the crowd in a similar way to Jay from Rival Sons. After only a couple of tracks, I felt that they were certainly a band that I'd like to go and see at their own headline show. Shinedown launched onto the main stage and absolutely smashed it with a hard rock sound that is just in your face for the whole time they play. 'Cut the Cord' and 'Sound of Madness' were highlight moments for me. The band also received a great reaction from the crowd throughout the set. These guys will defiantly be back, and after their set today they could well be climbing up the bill a little bit more the next time they play. After the huge global response to the return of Disturbed and their comeback album 'Immortalized' then it's no wonder that they are third from the headline slot tonight. 'Ten Thousand Fists' is an appropriate one to open with as the band have the crowd instantly pumping their fists in unison to the track. 'Prayer' goes down as well as it always does, and then they follow that up with their unique cover of 'The Sound of Silence'. As the show continues we are surprised to see three cover songs with guests on each 'I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For' (Lzzy Hale), 'Baba O'Riley' (Blaze Bayley), Killing in the Name (Benjamin Burnley), which all amplify just how good every musician is on stage, whilst the crowd absolutely lose their minds. They end a hell of a set with another classic Disturbed song 'Down With the Sickness'. You really couldn't ask for more. Unfortunately by this point everything we owned had been flooded, including our clothes, clean clothes, just everything! So we only managed to survive one more band, which was the mighty Billy Talent. Currently promoting their new album 'Afraid of Heights' we are treated to a handful of awesome new songs including 'Louder Than The DJ' & 'Afraid of Heights' as well as their new stage set up, which just looks cool (take a look at their interview in this issue to see for yourself!). Jordan Hastings (Alexisonfire) is holding the fort well on drums whilst the band wait for Aaron Solowoniuk to recover from an MS relapse. The band mix in classics from all of their albums including 'Devil in a Midnight Mass' 'Red Flag' 'Try Honesty' 'Surprise Surprise' & 'Rusted from the Rain' which all get the crowd moving, yeah, that's right even on a really, really muddy hill, Billy Talent are still getting mosh pits all over the place. At this point the band have just built up a solid set list, but they've done that by consistently releasing great albums . After ending on the powerful 'Viking Death March' the crowd were left wanting more, but the good news is they can do just that when the band return to the UK for a full headline tour in October! So yeah, here's to another great year at Download Festival! Don't let the rain put you off, as it's always worth it in the end. AD
The sun was shining down on Slam Dunk festival in Birmingham and people were ready to enjoy a full day of alternative rock from all over the world. After being handed a free Desperados on the way into the venue it certaintly felt like it would be a good day. Up first on the Impericon stage were the relatively still new kids on the block The One Hundred. Their blend of metal/rap is something that is missing from the alternative scene at the moment and they fill it well. With just their EP to back them up they open this stage in style and have it packed out in minutes. The lead singer explains that there are some ‘tough guys’ in the audience and he wants them to sit out as they’ve been brave enough. In truth they were pit warriors just hurting people. The biggest reactions were Downfall and Tale of Two Cities. Over to the Desperados stage for some old school ska punk bought to you by [Spunge] (yes, that really is their name). Skanking song brings in some younger crowd members, it’s so amazing to see such a small stage be completely crowded by a band with so many members. Kicking Pigeons gets a huge reaction from the crowd and pits of skanking erupt as the trumpets are utilised to their full extent. Unfortunately it was damn near impossible to get in for French’s own Chunk! No Captain Chunk, proving that they’re becoming bigger all the time. As I left the Impericon stage I caught a bit of Dead! They had drawn a massive crowd who were struggling to still get access to the outdoor stage. The lead singer gave it his all as he danced around stage in a jumper that was far too big for him, his mother probably told him he’d grow into it. Over to the main stage to watch a massive act from the USA tear it up. These guys are no strangers to Slam Dunk having headlined the third stage a few years ago. The brilliant Mayday Parade with their style of alternative rock/emo anthems. They begin their set with One Of Them Will Destroy The Other, a song that is notably nothing like their other tracks and is quite heavy. However soon they break into their classics such as Black Cat and Three Cheers for Five Years. The lead singer gives his thanks for being there and the band leave the stage. This next act are blowing up at the moment, their blend of metalcore and melodic work is being loved by everyone at the minute. It’s Australia’s own The Amity Affliction, Open Letter, The Weigh Down and Don’t Lean On Me get a massive reaction from the crowd and it’s clear these guys are getting used to playing to bigger and bigger crowds. The future is big for these guys with a headline UK tour later this year and a high spot at Download festival. On the previous day at Slam Dunk Yellowcard’s set was cut short due to technical difficulties. Thankfully today this was not the case. They run onto the stage and break straight into the amazing single Way Away. Having promised to play Ocean Avenue in full they weren’t set to let people down. Lead singer Ryan says he expects ‘end of show energy’ from the crowd as their most famous track Ocean Avenue is always played last. He’s not disappointed by the response given from the crowd. The usual tricks are thrown out including the Violin player doing a backflip. It’s a shame that shortly after they announced their split. I suggest getting tickets for the farewell tour. For me I feel if there’s one band that do not get enough praise for what they do it’s Zebrahead. They’ve been going for over twenty years, had countless successful albums and provide possibly one of the best live shows around. Although the crowd was small it did not deter them one bit, coming out to America (Fuck Yeah) they kick in with Save your breath and the party is started straight away.
The band bring up an ‘afro guy’ from the crowd and invite him to drink with them shortly before playing Hello Tomorrow. Their mix of ska punk and rock has always been brilliant and there’s something about their live shows that doesn’t stop being incredible. I mean where else will you see a man in a bunny costume in a rubber dingy going across a crowd? Nowhere that’s where! It’s sad to say but clearly New Found Glory only reach near the top in this bill because of Nostalgia. Their appeal seems to have run out a long time ago, even with getting a fan on stage to select their favourite NFG song that wasn’t on the setlist they still seem to lack something. I feel their time should probably come to an end quite soon. The classics such as My Friend’s Over You and Kiss Me prove to still be favourites but ultimately the voice of lead singer Chad Gilbert has definitely got more grating over time. The headline act should possibly be renamed the Brendan Urie show as he sprints onto stage wearing tight jeans and an open jacket exposing his (quite podgy) stomach. A rather self indulgent set kicking off with Don’t Threaten Me With A Good Time, using the lyrics of ‘who are these people’ to view the crowd. The set mostly consisted of the songs that he had written himself meaning a lot of tracks were off the latest album Death of a Bachelor including Golden Days and Crazy = Genius.
The back catalogue was dived into however and the crowd were treated to the amazing Time to Dance and the classic I Write Sins Not Tragedies. ‘I’m not on drugs’ Brendan explains. ‘I’ve been up since 4AM, I went to Radio One’s Big Weekend and then drove all the way here!’. He is a brilliant frontman and seems to have a reason behind every song be it ‘this bitch who fucked me over’ introducing Miss Jackson or ‘crazy nights happen in Vegas’ before playing Vegas Lights. The biggest highlight of the set is easily Brendan taking place at the piano and blasting a rendition of Bohemian Rhapsody. Though a lot of people would doubt that the pop/emo superstar wouldn’t be able to pull it off he does with style and does the song justice. So much so it’s confirmed to be on the Suicide Squad soundtrack. Ending the set with Emperor’s New Clothes Panic! At The Disco/Brendan Urie show that they’re still very much relevant in the alternative music scene. RO
By now you've probably realised that as well as liking alternative music, we also like Comic Cons. In the past we've attended Walker Stalker Con, London Film & Comic Con, Optimus Comic Con, & more! All of them have been great fun, so we thought we'd give MCM Expo a go. We were not let down... This event is absolutely massive. I was just mind blown when I turned up to Excel which I had never visited before. The Comic Con was in two HUGE halls, then running through the middle you could find food shops and restaurants. Which worked well, because by the time you'd finished walking around one hall, you probably needed to get something to eat. There was sooooo much to see and do there. To start with you had an endless amount of different consoles, and video games to play on. From retro games, right up until really recent games such as Overwatch. You could easily spend a weekend just doing that! They had a massive array of tables there, with independent designers selling anything you could imagine. People had created their own jewelry, artwork, pillow cases, t-shirts, and even books/graphic novels! That's right, people were able to bring their brand new ideas to MCM Expo and sell them to the public. You just never know, on a tiny table one person could of created the next Lord of the Rings, or Harry Potter, and that's a very exciting thought. There was plenty of space to walk around whilst you were there, so the event didn't feel over sold. It felt safely organised, and every steward I asked for help, would drop everything and try and help me the best they could. For Anime fans there was loads to do there. There was an area called Pop Asia, which would cater for food, music, culture & fashion. You could expect to see Anime dances, screenings, performances, cosplay contents. It was really just a great area that brought everyone who loves Anime in a very positive way. There was really just something for everyone, there was a massive Walking Dead display, with a zombie just trying to survive on a boat...and there was even an event for Preacher! Where they had a church giving a preview of the show. There were plenty of talks from the celebrities that were attending the event. Including Tom Mison, Warwick Davis, John Noble, Nick Blood, Sean Kelly, and many more. Where they all tell the fans about the time on their shows, and as well as that, the fans would sometimes get the chance to ask them questions. The queues to get autographs, or meet guests were very well organized, and once again, if anyone had any questions then the event organizers would do everything they could to help. As far as Comic Cons go. MCM have nailed it. Organisation. Stalls. More video games than you can ever play. And more importantly, it's a community that can just get together and talk about the media they love, whilst maybe even making new friends in the process. It's a great time. AD
So unless you’ve been living under a rock or you’ve for some reason just not been outside, on social media or watched the news then you’re fully aware that Pokemon is officially back! In reality it never really left but just went quiet, however the comeback has been huge! Pokemon Go is an idea that people in my age group have been waiting for since before we reached double digits. I still remember the first time I played Pokemon Blue and opened a pack of Pokemon cards. If you don’t remember the feel of a shiny Charizard then this article isn’t for you. I still remember who stole mine...and where he lives. Revenge will come some day. I think it would be pointless to do a review for Pokemon Go. Everyone knows about it and everyone has their opinions. I suppose I want to write this article because I’m getting frustrated by the amount of people I hear saying how childish it is and grown people shouldn’t be playing this. I want to state once and for all that this game is not a game for children, they may be out on the streets catching the little pocket monsters but in retrospect this is a game for the kids who were there for the first generation of Pokemon. The kids like me who at around eight years old were introduced to this amazing world where these bizarre creatures lived and you could catch them and battle them and be friends with them. It even showed us that evil people still exist in this world with the blundering Team Rocket.
In the past two weeks I’ve seen a number of my friends who suffer with crippling anxiety leave their house to go out Pokemon hunting, even meeting up with a group of people to go out with. People would finish shifts with me at work and instead of going home and watching TV they'd go out and excersise and socialise. As I was walking to work the other day I caught a Pidgey, Pidgeotto, Metapod and Ghastly, the walk would usually be boring but with Pokemon Go it’s just improved so much. If that isn’t a selling point for this game I don’t know what is. I went out to the park with some friends Pokemon hunting and found that the park was covered with people who were doing the same thing as us. I even stopped at one point to ask one person what team they were on, their response Team Red (scum) but we stood and chatted and under any other circumstance I’m not convinced this would have happened. I appreciate what Niantic and Nintendo have done, they’ve infused video games with going outside, it’s something that defies logic but works so well. I have just grown tired of people who bad mouth it and hide behind a Facebook status. I will just ask one thing, if it’s childish to go out and get some fresh air while finding small monsters then what is it called staying inside and joining up lines of candy to win some coins or turning yourself into a dog on Snapchat? because honestly, that sounds pretty childish to me. RO
Features interviews from the following: Billy Talent, Frank Turner, Twin Atlantic, Sleeping With Sirens, Moose Blood, Young Guns, Breaking B...
Published on Jul 30, 2016
Features interviews from the following: Billy Talent, Frank Turner, Twin Atlantic, Sleeping With Sirens, Moose Blood, Young Guns, Breaking B...