sleeping with sirens
The second round of acts for this year’s Reading and Leeds Festival has been announced. It includes Jimmy Eat World and The Amity Affliction joining the bill. Other names announced are Kasabian, Two Door Cinema Club, Flume, Fatboy Slim, Circa Waves, Rat Boy and Wiley. The latest wave of bands for this year’s Slam Dunk Festival has been made with nine new names announced: Beartooth, Tonight Alive, Against Me!, The Bronx, Goldfinger, Mad Caddies, The Movielife, Trophy Eyes, and Like Pacific.
Outbreak Fest has announced Gorilla Biscuits as their second headliner joining the previously announced Turning Point. They have also added Title Fight, Cro-Mags, Breakdown, Broken Teeth, Fury, Freedom, The Flex, Mizery, Higher Power, Insist, Renounced, Revulsion, Blind Authority, Frame of Mind and Firm Standing Law. Outbreak Fest takes place at Canal Mills in Leeds on Saturday 29th and Sunday 30th April. Late last year, Frank Turner and OneFest announced ‘Lost Evenings’, a four-day festival taking place on 12th-15th May at London’s iconic music venue, The Roundhouse. The special guests for each night have now been announced. Night one sees Brian Fallon and The Crowes supporting, with Seth Lakeman, Frightened Rabbit’s Scott Hutchinson and Skinny Lister supporting on nights two, three and four respectively. May Fri 12th: 'Last Minutes & Lost Evenings’ (Greatest Hits set (1 of 2)) with Brian Fallon and The Crowes in support Sat 13th: 'Sleep Is For The Week’ (10th Anniversary performance) with Seth Lakeman in support Sun 14th: 'Sensible Sundays’ (solo acoustic night with Frank Turner) with Scott Hutchinson from Frightened Rabbit in support Mon 15th: Huw Stephens ‘Label of Love’ Night featuring Xtra Mile Recordings and Frank Turner & The Sleeping Souls performing the Greatest Hits (part 2) with Skinny Lister in support
We Are The Ocean have announced they are splitting up and will be playing three farewell UK shows in March. March 22nd Cathouse, Glasgow 23rd Sound Control, Manchester 24th Tufnel Park Dome, London
Converge have announced they will release a live album featuring their 2001 classic ‘Jane Doe’. ‘Jane Live’ was recorded during their set at Roadburn Festival in the Netherlands last year, and will be released on March 3rd via Deathwish Inc.
Basement have announced a UK headline tour that will see them perform two nights in each city. Support comes from Higher Power. February 28 The Joiners, Southampton March 01 The Joiners, Southampton 02 Bush Hall, London 03 Bush Hall, London 05 Deaf Institute, Manchester 06 Deaf Institute, Manchester 07 King Tut’s, Glasgow 08 King Tut’s, Glasgow 09 The Key Club, Leeds 10 The Key Club, Leeds Vocalist C.J. McMahon has rejoined Thy Art Is Murder.
Falling In Reverse have announced April 7th as the release date for their fourth album 'Coming Home’. It will be released through Epitaph Records.
Counterfeit have revealed details of their debut album. 'Together We Are Stronger’ will be released on 17th March via Xtra Mile Recordings. Code Orange and Car Bomb will be supporting Gojira on their March UK tour. March 11 O2 Academy, Birmingham 12 O2 Forum, London 14 Academy, Manchester 15 O2 Academy, Newcastle 16 O2 Academy, Leeds 17 O2 Academy, Glasgow 18 O2 Academy, Bristol
Sorority Noise have announced 'You’re Not As _____ As You Think’, their third full-length record. It will be released on March 17th via Big Scary Monsters/Triple Crown Records. Can’t Swim and Microwave have been announced as support for Real Friends’ rescheduled UK tour. April 06 Club Academy, Manchester 07 Asylum, Birmingham 09 Riverside, Newcastle 10 St Luke’s, Glasgow 11 Stylus, Leeds 13 Thekla, Bristol 14 Epic Studios, Norwich 15 Engine Rooms, Southampton 16 Electric Ballroom, London
Brutality Will Prevail have detailed their fifth studio album ‘In Dark Places’, which will be released via Holy Roar Records on March 24th. The Dirty Nil have been added to The Menzingers’ UK/EU tour with The Flatliners. April Tue 18 Talking Heads, Southampton Wed 19 Koko, London Thu 20 Academy 2, Manchester Fri 21 Bierkeller, Bristol Sat 22 Oran Mor, Glasgow Sun 23 The Venue, Derby Mon 24 Epic Studios, Norwich
Decade have announced Big Spring and Wallflower will be supporting them on their forthcoming UK tour. March 03 Asylum, Birmingham 04 The Cookie, Leicester 05 Think Tank, Newcastle 06 Audio, Glasgow 07 The Key Club, Leeds 08 Star & Garter, Manchester 09 Boston Music Room, London 10 Rock City Basement, Nottingham 11 Moles, Bath Nottinghamshire pop-punks Catch Fire will release their second EP, 'A Love That I Still Miss’, on 24th March via Rude Records. LA based ska-punk quartet The Interrupters have announced a run of UK headline shows following their prestigious support to Green Day on their arena tour in February. February 9th 02 Academy 2, Sheffield 10th 02 Academy 2, Liverpool 11th Tufnell Park Dome, London
Helloween have announced a one-off show at London’s O2 Brixton Academy for 14th November. The show will be part of their 'Pumpkins United’ world tour. Chicago trio Meat Wave have detailed their third album - 'The Incessant’. It will be released in the UK through Big Scary Monsters and in North America on SideOneDummy Records on February 17th.
Deez Nuts have detailed their forthcoming new album, 'Binge & Purgatory’, which is set for release on April 7th. Michigan rock band Cheap Girls have split up. Leeds’ Pulled Apart By Horses will return on March 17th with the release of their new album - 'The Haze’ via Caroline International. Seattle’s Minus the Bear have announced their first album in five years. 'VOIDS’ will be released on March 3rd via Suicide Squeeze Records.
The Maine will return on April 7th when they release 'Lovely, Little, Lonely’ via 8123. They will also be visiting the UK for a one-off show at London’s Electric Ballroom on March 25th.
Crown The Empire have parted ways with vocalist David Escamilla. Motionless In White have announced keyboard player Josh Balz has left the band. Emmure have confirmed their new album will be titled 'Look At Yourself’. It’s due for release through Sharptone Records and will be released on 3rd March 2017.
Better Than Never and Coast to Coast will be going out on a co-headline tour in April. Support comes from Pine. April 15 TBA, Leeds 16 Maguires, Liverpool 17 Sound Control, Manchester 18 Asylum, Birmingham 19 Stag & Hounds, Bristol 20 Fiddlers Elbow, London Academy, Oxford (no Pine) Belgian math metal group BEAR have revealed details for their third full-length album ’///’ set for release on 7th April via Basick Records. New Jersey metal act Fit For An Autopsy will release their new album 'The Great Collapse’ on 17th March via Long Branch Records/SPV. Birmingham’s Coast to Coast will be releasing a EP, 'The Length of a Smile’ on 24th March via Fox Records.
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Interview with James
How did you get to the EP title 'Head Under Water', and what does it mean to you? It's comes from a lyric in one of our songs, from the line "She keeps my head under water, most nights I'm just feeling afraid". The song itself is all about how things like depression and anxiety can make you feel like you're drowning, and as it's a recurring theme in a lot of the songs we write we felt it worked really well as a title.
'Head Under Water' “covers the idea of how dealing with depression and anxiety can sometimes just feel like you are drowning in a sea of hopelessness.” So can you elaborate on what this personally means to you, as well as what else we can expect to see from the EP lyrically? Since about the age of twelve I've struggled with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder which has lead into an ongoing struggle with anxiety and depression. I struggled a lot throughout the writing process to find motivation and reason to write the lyrics at first, but then I started to realize if I put my feelings down on paper, the inspiration and lyrics just started flowing. It means a lot to me personally because every time I get up on stage and sing them, it feels like a temporary relief from something that still plagues me on a daily basis.
How did the artwork for 'Head Under Water' come together, and what does it mean to you? We wanted to re-use the superhero theme from our previous studio release ‘Homemade Hero’. We'd seen a lot of working by an illustrator called Mark Bell, and we were all really impressed with what he'd done before. We spoke a lot about what we wanted from the artwork, and as the lead single was called ‘Learning To Swim’ we decided that having our character trying to learn to swim at the bottom of the ocean would be a really ace way of representing that. Mark had the idea of adding the ball and chain, to try and show how struggles like anxiety and depression can make you feel anchored at rock bottom.
How would you say the sound of Better Than Never has grown/changed since the release of your first EP 'Homemade Hero'? We've learnt a lot from the release of ‘Homemade Hero’. We rushed a lot of our previous EP, and we made some mistakes along the way, so we really put a lot more focus into the writing of this release, we spent countless hours holed up in Will's flat tracking demos and tearing them apart until we were really happy with the end result. Back when we released our first EP, a lot of us were still pretty new to the game, so it was a great learning experience, and one that I think we used well when going into ‘Head Under Water’.
For 'Head Under Water' we've read that you worked on "every track for several months". So how would you say the writing process has changed for you with this release? It really was just a matter of being way more intense and critical with our writing process. Even if we were originally happy with a segment, we'd come back to it a few weeks later and see how we felt about it then. We found a lot of the time we realized we could still improve on what we'd created, and we basically kept doing that over and over until we really were happy with it.
How did you end up working with Ian Sadler, and how would you say he helped shape 'Head Under Water'? We had a few people in mind when it came to recording our EP, but Ian was always top of our list, we loved his previous work, especially his stuff with ROAM and our label mates Coast To Coast. We are so glad we chose him as we felt he helped so much in helping make this EP what it is. We found he had this great knack for making our ideas come to life, and even more so he helped us build on them and perfect them until we were all happy with what we'd created.
How come you ended up doing another EP instead of an LP? We'd released a previous EP ‘Homemade Hero’, earlier in the year, and although we were happy with what we had made, we still felt we could do better. We spoke to the label and they said they'd be keen for putting out a second release towards the end of the year, we'd decided an EP would work well because it could tie nicely into the previous release, almost making this one seem like a sequel to our first EP.
Touring wise, what did you get up to in 2016, and can you give us a couple of personal highlights from your time on the road? We played an average of one gig a week in 2016, which considering we all work full time around the band, we found quite an achievement. One of our favorite tours in 2016 was when we did a UK tour with Coast To Coast, it was our first time hitting the UK on a proper tour and we made so many great friends and memories along the way.
What bands have really influenced you since you first started out, and why? When we began we fancied ourselves as more of an easycore outfit, taking a lot of influence with bands like Four Year Strong and A Day To Remember. As time has gone on I think we've taken a lot of influence from some of the more Pop Punk bands, such as As It Is, Trash Boat and Knuckle Puck. What we've tried to do on this release is combine elements of all five of those influences and create something we all love to play.
What else can we expect to see from Better Than Never in 2017? We are going to be hitting the road harder than before, we've already got a lot of exciting tours planned for 2017, we're hoping to use this year to really push ‘Head Under Water’ as hard as we possibly can, we are so grateful for everyone that supported us throughout 2016, and our hope is that we can go through 2017 growing that support further.
Interview with Alex
How did Acres originally form? Acres was meant to be an instrumental project started by myself after I struggled to join a band that I believed in. Eventually I started jamming with a few friends in practice rooms, and we decided to take it seriously and start looking for a vocalist. The rest is history.
How did you get to the name Acres, and what does it mean to you? It's not a very interesting story. Our first drummer lived near a road called Long Acre and I thought that sounded cool but we decided Acres sounded better
How did you get to the EP title 'In Sickness & Health', and what does it mean to you? In sickness and health is taken from the title track and to me personally it means "no matter what". Finding a new vocalist and recording these songs nearly tore this band apart. I think over the last year we've all realised we love what we do and we're going to do it no matter what.
Can you elaborate on some of the main themes and influences that run throughout 'In Sickness & Health'? Lyrically Acres has always been about personal struggles and reflecting on them or overcoming them and that hasn't changed much with the new songs.
What was the hardest part about putting 'In Sickness & Health' together for you guys, and why? I think deciding to find a new vocalist after pre-production and before tracking began was daunting. Every night after we spent the day at the studio we were all combing through the internet trying to find the right dude. For me, that was the hardest part.
How did you end up working with Jonny Renshaw, Lewis Johns, Neil Kennedy, and how would you say they helped shape the 'In Sickness & Health' EP? Jonny came to see us a while ago in Bristol and shortly after the show asked if we'd be interested in working with him, which was a huuuuge deal to us as DSHS were a pretty big influence when we started. We chose to have the album mixed and mastered at the ranch with Neil who we've worked with before a couple of times. And Lewis helped us out when Neil was busy.
How did the EP artwork for 'In Sickness & Health' come together, and what does it mean to you? We wanted to use something that would make you want to pick the album up and take a closer look whilst portraying the themes of the album. The concept was "sickness" being the fire and â€œhealthâ€? being nature. And it ended up being a really cool image thanks to our pal Felix Russell-Saw.
How excited are you for your upcoming UK tour with Hellions? Hellions are one of those bands that have been around the block a few times. They're on their third album so it's always good to learn from a more experienced band. Their new album ‘Opera Oblivia’ is actually structured like a traditional style Opera with acts giving the album a loose theme throughout and really makes it into a piece of art. Seeing a band have so much passion into what they put out makes us very excited to see that same passion in a live situation. With this upcoming tour, we're playing some new songs live for the first time. We have a few oldies but we're so excited to play this new material and see how it goes down. Some of it’s lighter than before, some of it will be surprisingly heavy. We haven't toured the UK for a while so we're super stoked to be on home soil again. It's going to be great.
Touring wise, what did you get up to in 2016, and can you give us a couple of personal highlights from your time on the road? We started the year off with touring with our pals in Casey and Burning Down Alaska for like three and half weeks which was a super fun tour. And ended by touring with Sights And Sounds which was also great. My highlight was seeing great bands perform every night, being able to see places we've never been to and meeting a bunch of cool people on the way.
What else can we expect to see from Acres in 2017? An album!
Touring wise, what did you get up to in 2016, and can you give us a couple of personal highlights from your time on the road? We had a mad busy touring schedule in 2016, we started off by headlining Europe on our album which was insane, played some places we'd never played to near sold out crowds which was incredible. Throughout the year we've done some huge support slots too, Sum 41, Simple Plan, Good Charlotte to name a few! We did Warped Tour, Reading and Leeds and Slam Dunk throughout the summer and I'd have to say they were huge highlights not only this year but in our whole career.
For us in the UK can you tell us a bit more about your experience with Warped Tour, and what you learnt the most from this run of dates? Warped tour was amazing, it changes every day and there are so many great bands playing. We played something ridiculous like 40 shows across that tour so I think it taught us really how to be tight as a band and learn exactly what each other were doing during each point in the set.
What is it like to tour so far away from home, and have people sing along to your tracks? Especially in places like Japan, where you're on the other side of the world with a bit of a language barrier? It's incredible, it's such a warm feeling hearing people sing along in a language that's not their own. You can really hear the different accents when you play places like Japan and it's awesome to hear because it makes you realise how far from home you are.
Interview with Alex You've just released a music video for 'Leaving Notice'. So can you tell us a bit about the meaning that runs throughout this track? This song is really about being fed up with people expecting something for nothing. Everyone has a goal or ambition in life and it's very easy to come up with excuses as to why that can't happen, this song is about people who never even give it a go because it seems like too much hard work, those people need to wake up.
How did the (mostly) live music video come together for the music video? It was all just shots from our recent headliner in the UK so it was nice to shoot it on home turf, our first time headlining the album in the UK.
So, how happy have you been with the feedback to 'Backbone' so far? Honestly amazed at the reaction we've had, hearing people singing songs that weren't even the singles all over the world is a feeling I will never get used to but it's incredible. I feel it definitely encapsulated us at the time but it's about time to redefine that I think.
What songs are you still really enjoying playing live from 'Backbone' at the moment, and why? I love playing â€˜All The Sameâ€™ because it's a fast, short, fun little jam, nothing too emotional or epic. Our sound is quite big and epic in places and it's nice to take a break from that and just jump around for a bit.
How did Miles Gill end up becoming a part of ROAM, and what has he been like to work with so far? We knew Miles because he worked in our local music shop and used to give us loads of discounts on stuff haha, he's an amazing drummer and when we parted with Charlie it seemed like a logical step to have him fill the gap. He's been perfect, exactly what we needed.
How excited are you for your upcoming UK tour with Lower Than Atlantis, and what can attending fans expect? We're really excited for that tour, it's the biggest rooms we've ever played so we're looking forward to making those huge stages feel intimate.
How would you say the UK pop punk scene has grown/changed since you first started out? It's grown tenfold since we started out. There are so many good bands around from the UK now, there was maybe three when we started out but it's amazing to see it. I just hope people are able to have their own take on the sounds coming out now as it's very easy to oversaturate the scene.
What else can we expect to see from ROAM in 2017? A lot. New everything. Music, merch, tours, band. We're going to make our mark in 2017 for sure.
How did WSTR first form? The way we formed was kind of unusual in that we met for the first time the night before the video shoot for ‘Graveyard Shift'. I used to go to uni in Liverpool and I somehow ended up meeting Swift. We got this practice room together and started writing songs. A year later, I’d moved back home and I got a call from Swift to say he'd finally found a vocalist in Sammy, who then hit up Alex on bass. Sammy did his thing to the songs me and Swift wrote together and that more or less gave birth to our first EP ‘SKRWD'.
Also, how did you get to the band name WSTR, and what does it mean to you? I’m pretty sure it was Sammy’s idea. All of us work dead end jobs and haven't really done much with our lives so I guess the name reflects us as people quite well. This band is by far the most exciting thing any of us do!
Touring wise, what did you get up to in 2016, and can you give us a couple of personal highlights from your time on the road? We had a great year in 2016. It started off with a little acoustic tour which was chill, and we went on to tour Europe/UK with Neck Deep, play Slam Dunk Festival and go on another headline run. My personal highlight of this year was playing the Guildhall in Southampton though. It’s always been a dream of mine to play there and I honestly never thought I’d do it - but here we are! So thank you Neck Deep for taking us out and giving us the chance to play some ridiculous places.
Interview with Kieren
How did you get to the album title 'Red, Green or Inbetween' and what does it mean to you? Sammy came up with the album title very early on in the whole process. I remember sitting at the computer writing and demoing songs in his bedroom and he walked in like “yo I’ve got this idea for the album name” and I instantly loved it. There never was any other names thrown around, it’s always been RGOI. The meaning people can take from it is being stuck in limbo, like in our situation for example should we keep chasing this dream or should we grow up and pursue a boring, stable career? The other meaning to it is something kind of soppy but I dig it a lot - most of the songs are written about a particular girl whose name you can figure out from the album title, it’s a little play on the colours of a traffic light.
How did the album artwork for 'Red, Green or Inbetween' come together, and what does it mean to you? Unlike the album title, the artwork came very very late. We were literally about to get Jake (Carruthers) to start working on something completely different, meanwhile we had this idea of making a t-shirt with our faces as voodoo dolls for some reason. We were never too stoked on our original artwork idea so I said “well why don’t we go with a voodoo theme for the entire album?” and it stemmed from that. To me the little voodoo doll represents Sammy and the girl holding it is the one messing with him. The amber coloured pin goes through his heart, I think that’s a pretty cool little touch not many people will pick up on.
As this is your debut album, then what targets/goals did you guys set for yourself when you headed into the studio to put it together? We didn’t really have any specific targets as such, we just want our new music to take us to more new places and give us the opportunity to play bigger shows. We never set out to write anything entirely ‘groundbreaking’, we just wanted a solid set of songs that we are proud of and that’s what we’ve created. We couldn’t be happier!
Looking back on your EP 'SKRWD', how happy are you with this release still, and what do you think it has done for the representation of WSTR? I wouldn’t change a thing about it! It couldn’t represent us any better than it does to be honest, although now I think we’re at least a little better at writing songs. It definitely took our band to a level we never thought we’d ever get to, so we can’t really ask for more from a first release.
How did you guys end up covering 'Break Stuff', and how did you go about giving it that WSTR approach? The sole reason for us ever playing this was purely down to us not having enough songs to fill a standard half an hour set. We didn’t change anything about it from the original, it’s no different, it doesn’t need to be! We won’t be playing it anymore though, I think we’ve got about 17 or 18 songs in total to choose from now so unfortunately you’re going to have to listen to an entire set made up of WSTR songs from now on.
What else can we expect to see from WSTR in 2017? We’re right in the middle of a UK run with Seaway at the moment and we’ve got a few festivals lined up later this year too but I can’t really say anything about those yet. All we want to do is tour so hopefully there will be a lot of that this year!
Interview with Olli
Touring wise, what did you get up to in 2016, and can you give us a couple of personal highlights from your time on the road? We did quite a lot of touring this year and it's very hard to say all the memorable moments as there were so many of them. We did over a hundred shows and that's quite a lot of time spent in the tour bus. Straight after the release of ‘InVader’ we headed out for a five week tour around Europe in the spring. That whole tour was one of the highlights in itself. So much happened on the road and we experienced all the best and worst parts of touring. Eveybody got ill at one point, however the shows were full of people and it all went really well. One thing that felt particularly good was to finish of the tour on a sold out show in London.
How did you get to the album title 'InVader' and what does it mean to you? Pepe and I started thinking about cool rock album titles from the 80s and we came to think of ZZ Top's ‘Eliminator’. Pepe then thought of the word Invader and as we both got excited about it, of course we went to Google it straight away. We were kind of surprised none of our idols had used it before. The word also includes the letter I and V, which of course stand for the 4th Reckless Love album.
Can you elaborate on some of the other main themes and influences that run throughout 'InVader'? Experiment. That's what it is basically. We wanted to see how far we can go from both ends of our range. We wanted to make our poppiest tracks even more catchy than before and our heaviest tunes harder hitting than ever. The process wasn't easy at all, we made a lot of demos and finally got to the finalized composition by the method of trial and error. There are some really embarrasing and funny left overs nobody's ever going to hear.
What was the hardest part about putting 'InVader' together for you guys, and why? the hardest part is always to try and find something new. All the chords and notes have been used millions of times before, but there is still a way to write songs that are completely original. It's kind of like you would have the same map that everyone else has always had, and you need to read it "wrong" in the way nobody's ever read it before. So that you can get lost and find a place no one's ever been to.
How did you end up working with Ilkka Wirtanen, and what was he like to work with? Ilkka has produced all of our four albums so far, he's become the fifth member of the band during these years. However, we wanted to refresh the team a little and used a different man for the mixing process. His name is Mikko Karmila. He really put his own touch into our sound and we ended up with the biggest sounding album we've done.
'Keep It Up All Night' ended up being a bonus track just for the UK fans. So how did that idea come about, and can you tell us a bit about the meaning behind the track? Well, I think it's a pretty straight forward simple song about not wanting to give up on good times eventhough one wouldn't have the energy to go on. Some people claim to hear sexual references in the lyrics. They are right. KIUAN was one of the last songs we wrote for the album and it was supposed to be a part of the tracklist everywhere, however it was the first track to be mixed and it was mixed by our producer Ilkka, before we got Mikko to take over the mixing duties. Mikko then went on to make the rest of the album sound significantly different to our ears, so we kind of felt it wasn't a natural part of the whole overall sound of ‘InVader’ and we then decided to leave it in as a treat for our UK fans only.
What bands have really influenced you over the last couple of years, and why? One actually picks up influences randomly from all the stuff one hears over the radio or spotify or whatever. Sometimes we intentionally try out some new fresh input. For example we draw some influences from hip hop for a couple of tracks on ‘InVader’. However, you always turn to the favourites you fell in love with as a teenager. Time after time. Kiss, Def Leppard and Van Halen are still our biggest influences, propably untill the day we die.
Looking back on your self-titled album. How happy are you with this release still, and what do you think it has done for the representation of Reckless Love? Personally I'm very happy with it. There are plenty of moments on it where I wish I could have done a better job but I know that's just in my head. I think the rest of the band is also very proud of it. We still do plenty of material from it live every night out on the road. I think it left people a good and honest picture of what Reckless Love is all about. A good time.
Which music video have you enjoyed putting together the most, and why? I will always remember when we shot the video for ‘Hot’. All in all, it was a week long pilgrimage to Sunset Strip in Los Angeles. We stayed right next door to the "Riot House". We went to the desert, strut around the streets of Hollywood, went to Rainbow Bar and Grill, went to the beach, I met Sebastian Bach at the hotel lobby and ended up drinking with him in his hotel room. We also went to the House of Blues and played Van Halen’s Panama with Steel Panther. Such a great time. One of the best videos we've done too, in my opinion.
What else can we expect to see from Reckless Love in 2017? Maybe some new music later during the year. We have a few shows lined up for the spring in Finland together with our finnish collagues The 69Eyes. We also have a festival show booked for Ibiza coming up. Hard Rock Hell Road Trip. It's going to be crazy!!
Can you tell us about the formation of Young Legionnaire? It began around 2009. I had a year off from playing in my then band and had long wanted to try getting something off the ground with Paul, having worked with him on a collaborative record in 2007 called ‘Print Is Dead’. Paul suggested Dean to play drums for the band and that’s how we came together.
How did you get to the band name Young Legionnaire, and what does it mean to you? I’d suggested Legionnaire originally but discovered there was a band from New York called that. Then I remembered a track called ‘Thirty Frames A Second’ by Simple Minds that has the lyric “young immigrants and legionnaires fighting back, back, backwards” which prompted the “adjectival qualifier”.
So, how did you get to the album title 'Zero Worship', and what does it mean to you? A play-on-words, obviously, but meant to be somewhat of a comment on the empty things we’ve come to worship: money, status, power, orthodoxy.
Can you tell us about the themes and influences in Zero Worship’? There are a few things: the way the internet has kind of killed off rebelliousness in culture by making every new word, song and idea thoughtlessly replace the last; the fetishisation of celebrity; the hypocrisy of our leaders, how power is for sale. But in-between all of us, the hope that lives in hearts and in minds, a desire to start over.
What was the hardest part about putting 'Zero Worship' together for you guys, and why? The hardest thing was bridging the physical gap that’s between us, given that I currently live in Austin, Texas and the other guys are split between Berlin and London. If it weren’t for that, we’d have a lot more time together to write and create and hone what we do.
How did the album artwork for 'Zero Worship' come together, and what does it mean to you? I wanted to depict some of the things I’ve described above and I came across an image of a torn, scuffed up suit online and I thought it summed up what I was getting at quite well. In the end, to really do justice to the idea, I went out and bought a cheap suit from a charity shop, and scuffed it about in my back garden, going at it with scissors and a tin of red paint. It is supposed to be a juxtaposition of an image of order and orthodoxy with rage, chaos and violence. I hope that’s the effect.
How did you end up working with Tom Bellamy, and how would you say he helped shape the record? Paul and Tom have been working together for a number of years now in the band Losers and, conveniently, out of the same studio we wrote and demoed most of this record in. It was the logical choice, not least because Tom gets us and really values the strengths of our band and how to tap into them.
Looking back on 'Crisis Works' how happy are you with this album still, and what do you think it has done for the representation of Young Legionnaire? Interview with Gordon
Yeah, it’s rare to stay happy with a record but I think it’s aged pretty well so far. I always felt it tailed off a bit towards the end, but if you add ‘Colossus’ and ‘Killdozer’ to it that’s most of the range of what we do in one cohesive set of songs. I’m definitely not mad at it.
Between the band you have been involved with Bloc Party and The Automatic/Yourcodenameis:milo. So what would you say those experiences have brought to the creation process within Young Legionnaire? In my case, a lot of experience playing and in the studio so it’s a head-start in terms of making music and getting results quickly. I think we can blast pretty quickly through what we do and it took me a fair while to get a confidence in myself in that sense. Everything you do as a musician is a building block to the next thing, I think.
How excited are you for your upcoming UK tour, and what can attending fans expect from the show? I’m as excited as a fat kid on drugs in a pizza factory. Expect the usual onslaught of guitars, songs, hopes and dreams.
What else can we expect to see from Young Legionnaire in 2017? Some festivals hopefully. An appearance in a town near you* soon**! (*probably quite far from you) (**probably not that soon).
So how did you get to the album title 'Bury Me In Philly', and what does it mean to you? I had the song that became ‘Bury Me In Philly’ for a few years actually, it was the first song I wrote for this album. When it came time to name the record, I was going to call the record ‘The Mermaid’. I had told Tim I wanted the band to be called The Mermaid, and Eric Bazilian and Tim both pointed out that naming the band and the record ‘The Mermaid’ would really put an undue emphasis on that song, and urged towards ‘Bury Me In Philly’. They were convinced that was more of a indicative title for the overall theme of the record.
Can you elaborate on some of the other main themes and influences that run throughout 'Bury Me In Philly’? I think it’s the next chapter in life after ‘Devour’. That record is about the adult crash, the reckoning that comes when everything that’s promised doesn’t quite add up. This record is about figuring out how to live after you’ve come to all of those conclusions. Are you going to get swallowed up by the pain? Is there a better way? What do you put on the line in order to find love? How can you find some inner peace? And what are you willing to sacrifice in order to get those things? What makes you who you are, and how do you retain that essence when your life is constantly changing as you chase the things that will fulfill you?
What was the hardest part about putting 'Bury Me In Philly' together for you, and why? The hardest part about this job is self doubt. The slow crawl towards finishing songs, and then doubting them to the point of paralysis. I want to do good work that will be sturdy through my life, work I can be proud of later, and sometimes the weight of that pressure makes it hard to create freely. I’m learning.
Can you tell us a bit about what it was like to grow up in Philadelphia, and maybe a bit about the music scene there as well? Philadelphia is a roughneck town, a working class, under dog town. I grew up in the 80s and 90s, and it was a true melting pot of cultures rubbing up against either, trying to be tolerant while trying to retain each of their immigrant cultures. The biggest change that seems precarious is how hard it is for working class and poor people to own decent homes in neighborhoods with good schools these days. It seems in the Reagan and Bush years, much of the fiber of the working class was starting to get torn at. The music scene was reflective of the town. The proximity to New York and DC made it hard for Philly to really shine, but that has drastically changed in the last 5-10 years. The insane pricing on rent in NYC and DC has made Philly a safer haven for artists to survive, which is why there’s been such an explosion of talent hailing from Philly in recent years.
How did you end up working with Eric Bazilian, and how would you say he helped shape the record? A local Philadelphia radio DJ Helen Leicht really fell in love with ‘C’mon Kid’ and was very encouraging to me on ‘Resolutions’. She found out somehow that my first ever concert was the Hooters in 1985 as a 7 year old kid, and introduced me to Eric Bazilian. She thought he would like the music I make, and he really was positive. I invited him to the Philly headline show, and he ended up playing ‘And We Danced’ with me and my band. We kept in touch, and when it was time to make this record he let me know he’d love to produce. I was already working with someone else, and when that situation ended up becoming clear that it was not working, I called Eric. We booked studio time immediately and within a few months had the whole record recorded.
You also worked with William Wittman, so how did that happen, and again, how would you say he helped shape the record? William was suggested by Eric. They’ve been working together on records for 30 years, they started together on Cyndi Lauper’s debut, made the Hooters’ ‘Nervous Night’, made the hit Joan Osbourne record, and many others. He was really influential, he has a vast musical vocabulary and not only was very well versed in The Beatles and The Stones, but also knew the world I come from. He was familiar with Alkaline Trio and The Bouncing Souls, so he was very committed to preserving the punk rock roots of what I do while making a record focussed on songs. He would bring Eric and Tim and I back down to earth if we got too carried away, he is extremely disciplined and focussed. A massive talent, and a killer bass player. There’s a reason he’s been leading Cyndi Lauper’s band for so many years.
How did your backing band 'The Mermaid' come together, and what do they bring to your live approach? I’ve been quietly waiting to put this kind of band together for awhile. Bringing Tim out on the road and watching him blossom into a great performing musician has been really awesome, I found my musical soul mate. The rest of the band I’m going to introduce over the course of the next few months, they’re a varied group of unique and killer musicians. It’s going to be really fun.
How excited are you for your upcoming UK/European tour, and what can attending fans expect? I’m really fired up. It’s been too long since we’ve played there, and to bring the band is really exciting. My plan is to make sure that by the end of that European tour in March that we’ve played every song on all three records at least once. So many European fans come to multiple shows, and they’ve waited so long for a full band tour, so I want to make sure they feel like we really bring the fire.
Can you give us a couple of personal highlights from touring in UK/Europe over the years? I have had so many great experiences touring Europe. The first solo tour I did in the UK was with Franz Nicolay and Jack from World Inferno in a car, that holds a lot of fond memories. The Revival Tour really was really special, ‘Resolutions’ had just come out, and people just seemed so ready for that kind of tour. To follow that tour up with support tours of Alkaline Trio and then Gaslight Anthem was really crazy, I was the luckiest to get those tours. Headlining though is always the mountaintop, that ‘Devour’ tour at the end of 2013 and then the festival runs in ’14 were magnificent. It’s truly my favorite place to play shows.
What else can we expect to see from Dave Hause in 2017? I wrote around 40 songs for this record, and I was just going back through some of the material and felt pretty good about a lot of it. I would love to release another record pretty quickly, maybe even before the end of the year. If not, for sure there will be tons of touring. I want to make the Mermaid into a formidable live act that brings these songs to life.
When did creating music first become a part of your life? I was in my first band at 15. We wrote some pretty terrible songs.
When you first started putting material together for your solo work, was it ever a nerve-racking experience, as you didn't have the input from your bandmates in The Get Up Kids? No, it's kind of nice actually. Tension and conflict can lead to good work but sometimes it's good to not have to fight about stuff with people.
What does 'Memento Mori' mean to you? It's a way of remembering the dead.
Can you elaborate on some of the other main themes and influences that run throughout 'Memento Mori'? A lot of people in my life have passed on in the last few years and I wanted to memorialize them and to think about my own mortality.
Can you tell us about the meaning behind â€˜A Small Explosion'? It's about life being short and not being afraid to take chances.
You self produced this record. So what is it like for you, to have this kind of control? Empowering.
What did you bring from what you learned with The Get Up Kids into the process for your solo material? How to use Pro Tools.
Is there more pressure on you as a solo musician, compared to being in a band? Nope, if anything there is less pressure.
Also, what do you think you have learned the most from being a solo musician? How to handle hecklers by myself.
How excited are you for your upcoming tour with Dan Andriano, and what can attending fans expect? Very excited. I love hanging out with Dan. We're going to play some songs together and have a great time.
What else can we expect to see from Matt Pryor in 2017? Hopefully some new TGUK songs.
Interview with Dark Vadar When did your love for Star Wars first start? What is this Star Wars you speak of? I don't love that the galaxy is a mess, but I'm trying to fix it by bringing peace and security to my new Empire by playing really cool heavy metal arrangements of my theme music all the way to the outer rim territories. Also I watched the films when I was like four years old and haven't ever been the same since.
How did the idea for this band originally come about, and how did you all get together? The Emperor commissioned me to put together a group of the most reveled super shredding awesome dudes from the Empire. I searched the stars for talent, and I found them. Using the holonet I was able to send them emails and got them to all come to the Death Star for a trial run. I knew I had the right group of guys from the get go. Our drummer situation is a bit interesting at the moment, as we only have a Bounty Drummer. But I'm hoping he will stay in it for the long haul without disintegrating anyone.
What do you love so much about the work that John Williams has created? John Williams wrote my theme song. It's one of the most iconic pieces of film score of all time. We all bow in his honor. Nothing is more memorable or recognizable than the work he creates, and he knows how to invoke the right feeling at the right moment.
How did you go about taking what he has created and then give it that Galactic Empire approach? I have my own recording studio on the Death Star. I took the music, imported it into Pro Tools, and laboriously recreated each layer of the orchestra as guitar by ear. Then I just added my own heavy metal twist (since my armor is mostly comprised of Metal anyway).
What was the hardest song to put together on the release, and why? â€˜The Asteroid Fieldâ€™ was definitely the hardest song to arrange. It's all over the place, and bonkers. But the Emperor seemed really stoked about it and thought it needed the be on the album so we learned it.
Can you tell us a bit more about the recording process for this release? Well, we traveled from a galaxy far, far away to your Milky Way System. Here on your planet earth, we worked at a recording studio called Atrium Audio, where we did all of the production. Some really cool dudes named Carson Slovak, Grant McFarland, and Chris Kelly helped with the recording process. It took over a year to make, but I am ultimately proud of the product. I think Padme would be too, if she were still alive.
So what made you want the album to be a self-titled release? I felt that Galactic Empire needed no explanation. The music speaks for itself, and it seems fitting that a different title was not needed. The album quintisentially describes the band.
How did the album artwork come together for the release, and what does it mean to you? We contacted an artist from your UK system named James Hayball. He is incredibly strong with the force, and his artistic rendition of our likeness can be recreated by none other than himself. He's so talented. I'm going to get sentimental if I keep talking about him. I miss mom and Padme. Now I'm angry and I want to do Dark Side stuff. Any Tusken Raiders tryin'a front right now? Come at me, I dare you.
How excited are you for your upcoming UK tour, and what can attending fans expect? I am incredibly passionate about our UK tour. The passion fuels the fire for my Dark powers, and I am going to riff out so hard. We will blow the roof off the place harder than the Death Star festival @ Alderaan.
Can you tell us a bit about where the music video for Star Wars Main Theme was filmed, as well as how it all came together? We filmed the music video on your Earth at Aurora Films in Lancaster, PA. Incredibly strong willed with the force as well, they have an excellent crew. They doubled their efforts, and the Emperor was most pleased with the result, as were we. They were a local business who did great work and the Emperor thought it best that we sub contract the work for the video out to them. It went so well we may hire them to help build the fourth death star....as long as they don't have a shield generator or an exhaust port that gets overlooked.
How did you end up working with Rise Records, and what have they been like to work with so far? The humans at Velocity/Rise Records are long time allies of the Empire. They have proven their loyalty since the original Music Video/Single on iTunes. Their work can be paralleled by none other. Leave no stone unturned. With our combined strength, we will end this destructive conflict and bring order.
What else can we expect to see from Galactic Empire in 2017? We will tour relentlessly to support our self titled debut, and put out more really cool music videos with myself in them. Join us as band, and audience. Together, we will rule the Galaxy!
Interview with Jesse
Let's take a back a little bit here. What was it like to be an upcoming band in Orange County, California? At the time when STYG first started our local scene was great to new bands. Very supportive. We were lucky. We had our share of people messing with us and trying to fight us and whatever other stuff punk and hardcore bands deal with but overall it was the greatest. A lot of great hardcore and punk bands came from Orange County. OC tends to get over looked in that regard because mostly what people know about it is Disneyland, that TV show and plastic surgery. Don’t get me wrong, it is those things but it was also a lot of other things too.
When did you first realize that Stick To Your Guns was becoming a career lasting band? When I got handed money after a tour. I remember being like “what is this!”. It was strange. I felt guilty. But we worked so hard and eventually I became proud and so grateful for the fact this stupid band somehow survived the gauntlet of other stupid bands and came out… on top? haha definitely not on top. just not on bottom I guess. Works for me.
How did you become a part of Pure Noise Records, and what have you enjoyed the most about working with them so far? Jake and PN have always been the best. We have known each other for a while now and he seems to completely get and understand and SUPPORT what we do. It’s relieving. He plays his "business guy" and "genuine fan of the music" parts perfectly. He knows how to be both. Not many people that I know can do that.
How did you get to the EP title 'Better Ash Than Dust', and what does it mean to you? The name came from a Jack London poem that is called the Jack London Credo. It’s pretty much the perfect way I like to live my life. Even when everything seems messed up, you still fight. Even if it seems like a lost and dying cause, you still fight. Because in the end if we’re all going out, I’d rather be ashes than dust.
Can you elaborate on some of the other main themes and influences that run throughout 'Better Ash Than Dust’? BATD is pretty much about what I just said above. ‘Universal Language’ is the understanding that if one combats violence with violence then we are no longer allowed the luxury of being surprised when people blow themselves up or when planes are flown into buildings or when people open fire in crowded places. We are addicted to violence and yet we still act surprised when we are faced with it. We fight wars for money and greed and our governments tell us it’s for other more patriotic reasons. The person who trusts their government is a fool. ‘No Tolerance’ is about how there will be no tolerance for racists, fascists, sexist homophobes in our scene. They will not be allowed. Go somewhere else. ‘The Never-ending Story‘ is about cry baby jaded people who say things like “this scene used to be better when I was a kid”. I’m reminded of a quote “those who criticize this generation forgot who raised it”. And I don’t mean the way parents raised their kids. I’m saying what was left for us. The idiots our parents put into power. The way they made money worthless. The wars they signed up for. and the same goes with our scene. If you think it sucks now well then that’s on you. Try caring about something and then you’ll start noticing that your world will change. ‘The Suspend’ is about my mom.
How did the music video for 'Better Ash Than Dust' come together, and can you tell us a bit about what it was like to film? We never felt like we’ve done very good in this department. I wrote the storyline for the music video and I found a guy from Latvia named Pascal with Tre films and him and I pretty much talked everyday. He kept me in the loop with every little detail and if I wanted to change something, he changed it. No questions asked. He didn’t have an ego. He didn’t think “oh I know what I’m doing so just shut up”. He has great vision and he did an incredible job.
The track supports Standing Rock, so how did that idea come about, and can you tell us about what they do? Because the standing rock struggle and many like it are the things that we fight for. For people who have been oppressed their entire lives to just have this disgusting oil pipeline go right through their land that was sworn by treaties to be protected. It just goes to show that the law only matters and must be followed by people who aren’t wealthy or have special interests. and people ask me why I boycott elections. I will never choose for someone else to lead my life. Ever. It’s an indoctrinated and frankly, idiotic way of thinking to believe that this is the way things need to be.
Also, looking back on 'Disobedient' how happy are you with this album still, and what do you think it has done for the representation of Stick To Your Guns? I like the record. It’s not my favorite. We wanted to try something new and so we did. I learnt a lot from the process and it was an overall positive experience for me. Having said that I think moving forward we will stick to what we do.
What was it like to tour with Architects recently, and can you give us a couple of stand out moments from this run of shows? That whole tour was a stand out moment. I love that band. I love those guys. It was that best way to end my year. I am forever an Architects fan.
How excited are you for your upcoming UK/European tour, and what can attending fans expect? I’m always excited and they can expect the same energy and chaos we always bring. Let’s do it.
What else can we expect to see from Stick To Your Guns in 2017? TOUR TOUR TOUR… and a record. :)
Interview with Mick
How did you get to the album title 'Xenocide', and what does it mean to you? We had a bunch of potential titles for the album, but this was the one we felt encapsulated the album as a whole. It essentially means to cause the extinction of an alien species.
Can you elaborate on some of the other main themes and influences that run throughout 'Xenocide'? Our vocalist Mark Poida wrote a story that flows through the lyrics in the album. We like to leave the lyrics up to the listener's interpretation so I won't give too much away.
What was the hardest part about putting 'Xenocide' together for you guys, and why? Compared to previous albums this one seemed to come together much more effortlessly. I think a big part of that was due to all the personnel involved in this project. Aside from a few minor setbacks, I feel like we managed to achieve what we set out to do when we started the process of putting this album together. The hard yards are yet to come when we try and tour this release as much as possible.
How did you end up working with Mark Lewis, and how would you say he helped shape the record? We'd worked with Mark on our previous album â€˜Tyrantâ€™. We were all big fans of his production and knew he was great to work with. There were certain things we felt we had learnt from and could improve on from the last album. We approached Mark before we began the tracking process and he was able to work with us through that to help us pull the tones we were chasing. We wanted a crushing modern metal sound, but still wanted that "real" drum sound. We couldn't be happier with the way it's turned out.
How would you say the sound of Aversions Crown has grown/changed since the release of 'Servitude'? I think the sound of the band now is a natural songwriting progression from the first album. We've all matured, and become better players. So while the technical aspect of the playing is still there, there's a bigger focus now on song structures, melodies, hooks etc. The most obvious change though would be the addition of vocalist Mark Poida. He's got an incredibly diverse range and really opened up possibilities that we would never have considered previously.
Also, looking back on 'Servitude', how happy are you with this album still, and what do you think it has done for the representation of Aversions Crown? I still think for its time it was a great album. The fact that fans around the world are still requesting songs live is a testament to that. We'll continue to sneak a song or two from this album into our live set.
How did the artwork for 'Xenocide' come together, and what do you want it mean to your fans? We were discussing possibilities for the cover, and the â€˜Servitudeâ€™ cover kept coming up in conversation. We thought it could be cool to contact Ryohei Hase who designed the artwork for that album and see if he'd work with us again. He was given a bunch of lyrical ideas and concepts and we didn't give him too much guidance, we wanted to see what imagery it conjured up on his head. I guess people will take what they want from it, but it all ties in with the album title, lyrics, themes, and over all heaviness of the songs.
Touring wise, what did you get up to in 2016, and can you give us a couple of personal highlights from your time on the road? In 2016 we did our first international headliner through Europe and the UK. We did a few trips around Australia and came back over to Europe at the end of the year to play on the Taste Of Anarchy tour. Personal highlights for me included playing a sold out headline show in London, sharing the stage with Soilwork, seeing some amazing countries for the first time, meeting some great people along the way who I now consider good friends.
How would you say the Deathcore scene has grown/changed since you first started out? Music is always going to evolve in some way, shape or form. Some of the veteran bands in the scene have been experimenting with new sounds which I think is an important thing. It potentially opens up the scene to a whole lot of new people.
Can you tell us a bit about music scene in Brisbane, Australia. As well as what it was like to be an upcoming band in that area? Brisbane has had a pretty strong heavy music scene for a long time. I started attending shows there in 2004 when there were a lot of good hardcore bands, as well as good venues putting on regular shows. Many bands and venues have come and gone over the years. These days there are definitely less opportunities for people under 18 to watch live bands. Definitely was a pretty good place to start out as a new band. In Australia it's definitely easier to start a band in a major city. Bands starting in regional areas have a much harder slog ahead of them.
What else can we expect to see from Aversions Crown in 2017? Definitely a load of touring. Planning on getting to places we haven't been yet. We also haven't stopped writing music. So who knows what might happen later in the year.
Interview with Sherri Dupree-Bemis Can you elaborate on some of the main themes and influences that run throughout 'I'm Only Dreaming'? When we were writing this record, we really tried to focus on not over-complicating sounds and instrumental parts. I think one of the cool things about Eisley’s whole back catalog is the theme of catchy melodies that aren’t cheesy. They sound sincere, because we, as people are truly sincere about our music! I wanted it to be a album you could put on and it would take you to a mindset of a place that was safe and beautiful and fun to be in. And we were also very adamant about having no track on the album that you wanted to skip to get to the one you liked more. Every track was created equal.
‘You Are Mine' seems to be anchored in relationships. So can you tell us a bit about the lyrical content for that specific track, and maybe what it means to you? That’s a track that my bandmate/bassist/cousin, Garron, wrote the music for and passed to me for melody and lyrics. I was instantly obsessed with the music. It was the MOST challenging song on the album for me, personally. I would put my kids to bed and work on it every night in our bathroom (the only quiet place) for a week until I got it just right. The song is for my husband, but it’s definitely not so-specific that it can’t apply to anyones relationship. I think it especially will resonate with people who have been in long term relationships. My husband and I fell in love towards the end of ’07 and we’re married in ’09. We’ve been through Heaven, Hell and high water and are stronger for it and love each other more because of our weaknesses. Our imperfections are what make us unique.
What was the hardest part about putting 'I'm Only Dreaming' together for you, and why? Pushing through my own self-doubt was the hardest! It was a huge learning curve for me writing and recording for the first time without my sisters (who left the band this past year for personal reasons unrelated to the band itself) but everyone (from my sisters themselves, to fans, our label etc.) were so encouraging that it really helped me! Also, vocally, handling the whole vocal load by myself, which had previously been split three ways, was a cool but challenging experience. Will Yip pushed me so hard and it was intense but so much fun.
How did you end up working with Will Yip, and how would you say he helped shape the album? My husband, Max (Say Anything) actually suggested him to Garron and me. He had been playing me a lot of Will’s bands and we all loved his production and sounds. We got in touch and found out he was actually a big fan of the band and was so excited to do the project. Up to ‘I’m Only Dreaming’, we had typically worked with either big name producers when we were with Warner Brothers or self-producing. Working with Will, who is someone with a really fresh and exciting perspective, was extremely fun. He knows how to put a song together. I learnt a lot from him and absolutely want to work with him again!
What did Anthony Green & Max Bemis bring to the tracks that they feature on, and when it comes to guest vocalists, how do you go about deciding who will be the right fit for the song? That was another thing that Will brought to the album. We wanted a few guest vocals on it and he’s tight with Anthony and really felt ‘Louder Than A Lion’ would be a cool fit for his vocals, and he nailed it! And my husband, Max helped me a lot with the specific song that he sang on, so I thought it would be fun to have him sing with me on it. Plus, it’s a cute love song so it was perfect.
You've said that "Musically, you could say it's classic Eisley" in regards to 'I'm Only Dreaming'. So if possible, can you tell us a bit how Eisley originally found their sound? We grew up listening to a lot of The Beatles, Pink Floyd’s ‘Dark Side of the Moon’, Radiohead, Sunny Day Real Estate, Kent. The melodies and the general vibe of the music was always something that resonated with us and really influenced us at a young age. I don’t think we ever tried very hard to make a certain style of music, we just wrote what came out and thankfully it’s been consistent. I’m all about consistency with the style of our music. I want fans to be able to put on an Eisley record and not be thrown off by us trying to sound like something we’re not. We write from the heart and always will.
You are now five albums in! So how would you say you have grown/progressed as songwriters over the course of these releases? If you’re open to personal growth as a person, it will come out in all aspects of your life. Wether it’s your relationships, parenting, art, writing, music. I know that I, personally, have grown a lot as a person, especially since becoming a mom in 2013 and having so much more perspective definitely comes out through my lyrics. Musically, I’m always pushing myself to write melodies that aren’t throw-away. Ones that stick with you and move you.
'Combinations' will be ten years old this year. So looking back on this album, what do you remember the most about putting it together, and how would you say it compares to anything else Eisley have done? That was an interesting one to make because we did it in Malibu. We’re a bunch of kids from small towns in Texas, so even living in Malibu for a short time was head-trippy. I remember watching a lot of Lost when we would wrap recording every night, in a giant house that Warner Bros. had rented for us. Looking back, with the perspective I have now, I think “Oh my GOSH, how much money was wasted on that project?” But, at the end of the day…we made a beautiful record that I’m really proud of, so who cares about any of that. One of my favorite moments of recording that album was watching an entire symphony track strings to my song ‘Marsh King’s Daughter’. I cried! It was the first time I’d ever seen anyone add strings to something I had written. I think the songs still stand up this many years later. At least they do for me. When something comes from your heart, how can you ever look back and be disappointed in what you created?
What else can we expect to see from Eisley in 2017? More of everything! With a new album out, that means tours, collaborations, music videos etc. So keep your eye on our social media for all those good updates!
Interview with Tom
You got to perform with the mighty Weezer recently, so how was that whole experience for you guys? The show came about in a very quick way. The entire experience was kind of a whirlwind. We’ve been huge fans of that band for a long time and it was a bit surreal to open for them in a casino in the middle of Pennsylvania. So many of our family and friends came out and the whole thing was a great way to kick off the holiday season. Their crew were so friendly and easy going.
You've just unleashed a music video for 'Lookers'! So can you tell us a bit about the meaning that runs throughout the track, as well as how you ended up working with director Sean Stout? That song was so much fun to record and it’s such a god damned blast to play live. We wrote the verses in a way to thump along like an 80s or 90s jam. It’s such a fun way to get the toes tappin’. We ended up working with Sean as a means of expediency really. Turns out he is a fantastic filmmaker! We didn’t have huge plans for the video. We thought we’d use a bunch of live footage and chop it together for a quit cut video. Turns out Sean is a phenomenal filmmaker with very cool insights into aesthetic.
'After the Party' "taps into the Menzingers’ everyman romanticism to reflect on getting older but not quite growing up" So can you elaborate a bit on this, as well as maybe some other themes/influences we can expect to hear on the record? I suppose that is one way of looking at the record. We tell stories to feel better about ourselves and make people feel better about themselves. The record is self reflecting and frames the future as a place we want to go even if it still uncertain.
In reference to the last question this album refers to the fact that "we don’t have to grow up or get boring". So is this is something you have seen in your personal life? Like for example, maybe a friend or family member sticking to a job they hate, just because they are getting older and feel like they have to settle down in that respect? I mean, is there something like that that has particularly influenced you? Just the world in general. Growing up isn’t working sixty hours a week. That’s not really growing up at all - hell that’s not a life. Growing up is conquering the fears and uncertainties stopping you from being the person you want to be. Growing up is being you in your own skin, accepting responsibility for your faults, and celebrating your successes. It’s helping others. A lot of people can go through their whole life keeping up with the Joneses and doing what they feel they are supposed to do instead of living a lovely and examined life. Teachers and engineers and builders and farmers make the world go round. There’s no rule that they can’t have a blast doing it.
How did you end up working with Will Yip, and how would you say he helped shape the record? We like his sound and we met up with him. After a tour of the studio and a few hours of talking we were completely sold. Will is hands down the most hardworking and focused individual I’ve ever worked with. I’ve read so many articles about the importance of focus in your work but I never really understood it until I met and worked with the one and only Will Yip.
How did the front cover for 'After the Party' come together, and what does it mean to you? I love the cover. To me it covers a whole range of emotions and feelings regarding my experience in life so far. The contrast of the park to the physical and emotional state of the guy covers a whole lot.
'Rented World' hit a lot of albums of the year lists in 2014 (including ours!). So with the huge success that this record achieved, did you ever feel any pressure when putting 'After the Party' together? Not any more than before. If people didn’t like the record then of course it would be disastrous, but worrying is like praying for something bad to happen you know?
How would you say the sound of The Menzingers has grown/changed? We’ve gotten a lot better at songwriting. We’ve gotten better at playing with each other and have sharpened some of our tricks and really honed in on what we like. With that said we’ll always be taking in new types of music and trying to sneak it in somehow.
How excited are you for your upcoming UK tour, and what can attending fans expect from your performance? Very excited. Can’t wait to play some new jams. They can expect a whole new twist on the same old bangers! Not bangers and mash bangers but song bangers. Also we’ll be playing some new songs.
Can you give us a couple of highlights from performing in the UK over the years? Got to love a good Spoons after a night of boozin heyna? I think my fondest memories of the UK are sitting in an interestingly named chain restaurant surrounded by old men drinking beer for breakfast with my friends. That and once I was attacked by a parrot in the Netherlands. I know that isn’t in the UK but it happened.
What else can we expect to see from The Menzingers in 2017? Fire (pyrotechnics), probably another inch back on the hairline, I’m putting out a podcast, lots of swimming (you can take that any way you want).
Interview with Alan
Touring wise, what have you been up to in 2016, and can you give us a couple of personal highlights from your time on the road? 2016 was a good year, we did a few tours but also had a lot of time at home with our families. Warped tour was definitely a highlight, it always is!
It's nearly been ten years since the release of 'Rise or Die Trying', so can you tell us about what you remember the most from putting this record together? I remember a lot of making this record - the writing and the recording. How could I forget? It was such an importantly huge part of my life. Most of all I remember just how much fun we all were having and how exciting everything was. The world was ahead of us and there was nothing that could stop us! Thatâ€™s how it felt anyways. I like to try and keep that mind set as often as I can.
You guys have said that this record "started you on a path that would lead you all over the world". So can you tell us about the time just after you put the record out? Was there maybe a turning point, where you just knew that the record was catching the attention of listeners all over the world? I don't remember a specific moment when I realized that, no. But I do remember how exciting it was that people actually seemed to like our music. And even the first time we went overseas we didn't expect people to care, but it was crazy!
Can you tell us about some of the themes and influences that run throughout 'Rise or Die Trying'? The biggest thing we had in mind when we were writing that record was connecting with people at our live shows. We just wanted people to react to the songs in a way that reflected why we wrote the songs. We wanted people to go crazy and scream their hearts out and put everything on the table and let loose. And more than anything we wanted people to have FUN. That is what it’s all about!
How did you end up working with Matt Robnett & Nik Tyler, and what were they like to work with? They were great! I don't really remember how we ended up with them, but they did a great job on the album and it was a lot of fun working with them. Neither of them are involved in the music industry anymore. Weird.
What would you say was the hardest part about putting 'Rise or Die Trying' together? The hardest part I guess was committing to the songs on the album. We had so many songs written and had been preparing for that album for so many years, but we wanted to put out only the best of the best, and that wasn't always easy for us to all agree on which songs to use.
So what has it been like to rehearse for this upcoming tour? Have there been any songs that have been really exciting to re-visit for you? We haven't rehearsed yet, but I'm sure it’s going to be a lot of fun playing all of these old songs. Some of them we've never played live ever. Should be interesting!
How did the album artwork for 'Rise or Die Trying' come together, and what does it mean to you? It came together as a complete joke and then we just went with it. What it means to me is - Who cares what the album artwork is? It’s about the music! So here’s a stupid squid and a shark battle. COOL!
When it comes to putting the lyrics together, how would you say this process has changed/progressed for you guys over the years? The writing process is the same as it’s always been. Dan and I write separately about whatever it is we want to reflect on at the moment, and then we come together and hash it out together. A lot of the lyrics end up changing completely when we work together because we work so hard on making it meld together with the music.
How excited are you for your upcoming UK tour, and what can attending fans expect from your show? We are extremely excited for the UK tour! We will be playing ‘Rise Or Die Trying’ in its entirety (along with some other favorites from other albums) and we're going to go crazy playing these songs - that means they all have to go crazy too. That’s how it works. We can feed off each other. Let’s have fun!
Have you guys started work on any new material just yet, and if so, what do you think we can expect to see from it? We haven't actually started working on anything new, but we're starting to talk a lot about it. We hope to start writing and maybe record in 2017. Who knows?!
What else can we expect to see from Four Year Strong in 2017? Lots of touring in support of the Rise Or Die Trying 10 Year Anniversary, and hopefully we will start working on new stuff!
Interview with Tyler Touring wise, what did you get up to in 2016, and can you give us a couple of personal highlights from your time on the road? We've been grinding all year. We started touring on January 3rd of 2016 with a co headline world tour with Neck Deep. That entire tour was a rather large highlight for us because it was our first "world tour" and the North American leg was 99% sold out. We got to go to Alaska this year, that was awesome and definitely something we never thought we'd do. We were also on the main stage at Warped Tour all summer. That was a huge accomplishment for us!
How happy have you been with the response to 'Around the World and Back', and what do you think it has done for the representation of State Champs? We've been very happy with the response! It's awesome to know that the fans liked our second record because there's so much hype going into it. "Can they really make a record as good, if not better, than ‘The Finer Things’?" I like to think we did.
What songs are you still really enjoying playing live from 'Around the World and Back' at the moment, and why? I love to play ‘Shape Up’ and ‘All Or Nothing’ because they're both a bit challenging for me. They haven't hit that automatic processing level where it feels like I can do it in my sleep so that's why they're the most enjoyable. To be honest, I'm not really sick of playing any songs off of ATWAB yet!
What's the hardest part about being a touring band? Keeping your wits about you in the middle of a heavy touring schedule, I'd say. It's really easy to feel really bad when you spend the majority of time away from home/loved ones. You just need to find the things that keep you happy and healthy. Things that keep you going. Whether it be walking to a coffee shop and reading for an hour or partying at night, you have to find something to do!
How excited are you for your upcoming UK tour, and what can attending fans expect? We're very excited! These shows are going to be some of our biggest headline shows of our career thus far. We're going to have our own production (lights and that) for the first time ever in the UK and we're going to be playing the longest set of our career as well. Expect lots of songs and energy and fun!
Can you give us one or two personal highlights from performing in the UK before? Opening the main stage at Reading & Leeds was an absolute honor, such a cool experience for us. A second highlight has to be when we came over for the first time, we were so tired and run down but the crowd riled us up like crazy. We were so small in the US at the time and we figured not too many people would know us in the UK. Boy was I wrong! The crowds in the UK are electrifying. There's so much passion and energy in every club, I love it.
What does it take for a US band to become successful in the UK? I honestly have no idea. I think you have to be a good live band because the UK seems to appreciate gigs more. It feels like it kind of just happened for us. We obviously did something right, I'm just not sure what!
Have you started work on any new material just yet, if so, what do you think fans can expect from it? We have! Fans can expect what they've always expected, great catchy melodies and fun upbeat songs.
'The Acoustic Things' went down really well. So what do you think fans enjoyed so much about that release, and do you think this is something we will see again from you guys in the future? Growing up, I've always loved acoustic CDs/songs by bands. It shows the artists in a much more vulnerable light. I think acoustic versions can sometimes feel more impactful than normal versions because the raw emotion is right there in front of you. We'll always do some sort of acoustic stuff. We write most of our songs on acoustic guitars so stripping them down is hardly an issue.
What was it like to cover 'The Sharpest Lives', and how did you go about giving it a State Champs approach? It was an honor to cover â€˜The Sharpest Livesâ€™. Most of us love MCR. For me, they were a huge part of my teen years so I was stoked. It was a bit hard giving it our approach without completely changing the song. I hate when bands cover a song then completely rework it. It's sacrilegious! We more or less just took it head on as it was and added little guitar things here and there and slid in some cool vocal things too. All subtle changes that overall puts our finish on it.
We've read that you guys really enjoy playing video games on the road. So what are you guys playing right now? Tony loves Overwatch. Ryan's been playing the new Pokemon game on his DS. Derek and I like NHL/Madden. Evan plays a bunch of iphone games but he enjoys Mad Skills MX2 the most.
How would you say the pop punk scene has grown/changed since you first started out? It's definitely become way more popular! There's a large influx of young bands, lots of new fans coming from a bunch of different backgrounds, lots more opportunities for everyone big and small than six years ago when we started. It seems to be growing with the bands which is definitely awesome.
What else can we expect to see from State Champs in 2017? Some form of new music and some cool tours :-)
Interview with Aaron and Brandon How did your recent UK tour go with Eskimo Callboy, and can you give us a couple of personal highlights from your time on the road? We love coming to the UK and this time was really great. The last two times we played the UK, it was only for a day. Birmingham especially had a magic in the air that night. The crowd was wild, and it was the first time playing our song â€˜Through Hellâ€™ so it was nice to get a great reaction to that.
Touring wise, what else did you get up to in 2016, and are the any particular moments that stand out to you? 2016 was a very busy year for us. We started headlining in the US, which was exciting to do because we were given the opportunity to play some older songs that we haven't played in awhile for the fans, as well as play newer material. We went to Russia and Belarus for the first time, and it was amazing. The fans there are very loyal and are super energetic. They made us feel like the biggest band in the world! The one moment that sticks out for me was playing Download fest this summer. We played to so many people that the crowd was outside of the tent! We love playing in England so to play a huge English festival was a real treat this year.
So what made you want to have a self-titled album? We went through so many different album titles and nothing truly explained what the record is about. We feel that self-titling the record is the most fitting name for it. It describes who we are, and what this record is about. It is truly us.
Can you elaborate on some of the main themes and influences that run throughout the record? There are themes of whatâ€™s going on in the world. From being a person just living in today's society to living and dealing with anxiety. On this record, we are a little more broad, we talk about the things that effect everyday life, and we explore how to conquer certain obstacles.
What was the hardest part about putting the album together for you guys, and why? I saw a quote from Ben Wieman of the Dillinger Escape Plan while we were in the studio that I had written on our board that said, "No great art ever comes from comfort." For me that quote nails it. We were in a lot of discomfort. We were pushed to being a better band, we had to work harder to be better musicians and lyricists. This album was not easy to make, by any means. We had to really focus our attention and energy on making our band and our music better than we ever thought it could be, we had to evolve as individuals to become better.
How would you say the sound of the band has grown/progressed since the release of 'Mind Games'? ‘Mind Games’ is overall a pretty fun record. There is a stronger EDM, and Hip Hop influence on that record and, while we still have those influences today, they are included differently. On ‘Palisades’ we focused on the band again, we focused on stronger songwriting, and toned down the electronic element to remind ourselves and our fans that we are a band first and foremost.
Also, looking back on 'Mind Games', how happy are you with this album still, and what do you think it has done for the representation of Palisades? In the story of our band, ‘Mind Games’ is our teenage years. It's our fun album, and it is an important part of our lives and history as a band. At that time it represented Palisades pretty well, but as of right now in 2016/17, it doesn't. We have grown so much as a band, and as individuals and it shows on our new album and in our live show.
How did the front cover for your self-titled album come together, and what does it mean to you? We had been talking a lot about what was going on in our world one night, the same time we were tying to develop the album artwork. We had a lot of different ideas going on, but we referenced what we talk about in the album. There’s a lot of fear, there’s a lot of hope, and there is a lot of overall sense of accepting. The girl in the center of the cover represents humanity, society, and the overall good in life, while the hands reaching to us are the trials and struggles in the world trying to grab you and bring you in. There is a reason the center is left clear. There is always a way to deal with those evils and there can be clarity.
How did you originally end up signing to Rise Records, and what have you enjoyed the most about working with them? When we were a small little band, we had gone down to Florida to record with producer Cameron Mizell and he thought we had a good chance of getting a deal from the label. So we sent over an email to Craig and just said "Hey we love your label, we hope you love our songs" and then a half hour later they sent an email back saying they wanted to work with us. The staff at Rise is amazing. They are extremely knowledgeable and fun to work with and have always supported us through thick & thin.
What was it like to cover 'House of Wolves', and how did you go about bringing your own sound to the song? The opportunity was brought to us in the middle of recording our album this summer. We jumped at the opportunity to be part of it. MCR was a big influence on us early on as a band. We listened to the song a couple of times and started to bring it into our own style. We dropped the tempo, and the tuning and knew exactly where it had to go. It all came together fairly quickly. It's our favorite cover that we have ever done.
What else can we expect to see from Palisades in 2017? We are making a lot of moves this year. Touring, lots of things we have never done before as a band, and of course doing things that make us uncomfortable so we can break barriers and push ourselves further.
Interview with Tom
When did you first get into drumming? When I was about 8 all I could think about was playing drums. I used to play on the table with pencils at primary school, and get into trouble. Then I started having lessons at about 11, and then got my first kit at about 13.
How would you say you have progressed as a drummer over the years? I think I’ve progressed a lot back when I first started learning. From about the age of 11 to 16 I got pretty good but I stopped having lessons after that because I didn't see the point in learning Jazz Swing or Blues, I just wanted to play in a fast punk band. Then during the break we had in Deaf Havana I started taking lessons again, and Im so glad I did. I feel that I've improved drastically between ‘Old Souls’ and ‘All These Countless Nights’, and it’s definitely down to taking lessons again. I now feel like I want to learn about different genres of music and play different styles, rather than just hit things as hard as I can.
In regards to your drum setup, have you finally found the perfect approach, or is it still just a work in progress? I always feel like I’ve got the perfect set up, then I look on the internet and see someone else using something new, buy one, then add that to my set up. I think I’ll always mess around with the way I have my kit set up, it’s a terrible habit of mine. I love the current kit and cymbals I use though, I probably won't change them, just maybe where I put them and add more to them.
So let's take it back a bit here! When did Deaf Havana first form? We formed Deaf Havana 10 years ago in college. It was myself, our old guitarist and our old vocalist that came up with the idea of starting a band, then I was introduced to James and Lee, everything then followed from there really.
What was it like to be an upcoming band in Norfolk? It was pretty hard actually. The local music scene wasn't big at the time, and because we were all young and most of us didn't drive, it was hard to get out of town to play some shows. We felt like we’d done all we could do locally, and just needed to play as many shows in and around London, or other bigger cities, as possible to try and get recognised. Once we started playing out of town we slowly gained a fan base, and people slowly became interested in us. It took a few years of constantly touring to get to that point though.
When did you realise that Deaf Havana was going to be a career lasting band? I’m not sure, I guess it was when we started selling out smaller venues and moving into the bigger 2000+ capacity venues all over the UK. At that point it took over our lives and we were all far to busy with the band to have normal jobs, so we all just concentrated on Deaf Havana.
So, how did you get to the album title 'All These Countless Nights', and what does it mean to you? It’s a line from the song ‘Happiness’, and it's the best way to sum up the collection of songs that we put on the record. All of the songs are written about nights that we / James can’t really remember, or that are a bit of a blur, so I guess it sets the tone for the album.
How did you end up signing to 'So Recordings' and what have they been like to work with so far? We met with a few labels about the new album and SO were the best. They are incredibly passionate about our music, and creatively are on the same wavelength as we are, so it's great. It’s actually just like having another band member.
We've read that this album is the most brutally honest album you've done yet, so can you elaborate on how you think James has progressed with lyrics on this album? I think he’s stopped looking at all of the negatives in his life and tried to overcome them. Rather than singing about how miserable he is and how he hates everything, ATCN is more about overcoming those problems and taking control.
Can you tell us about the recording process for this album? Toward the end of the ‘Old Souls’ campaign we went into the studio with Adam Noble to record ‘Trigger’. It was supposed to come out on a re-release of ‘Old Souls’, but it never happened. We really enjoyed working with him so we decided that if we were going to record another album, we would do it with him. James spent about a year writing songs, until we had about 30 to choose from, then we went into a small studio in London to play all the songs, pick them apart, change bits, etc etc. This was something we’d never done before so it was interesting to actually work on the songs, instead of having a “that will do” mentality. We then got to know the songs so well that we recorded them all live together at AIR studios in north London, which is an unbelievable studio! We then went on to Vale studios to finish tracking guitars and vocals, then onto Adams own studio for final touches. It took a good few months to record the whole thing, and tracking it live is pretty risky these days, as no one really does it anymore, but I think it was worth it. I want people to listen to it and for them to appreciate that it’s actually five guys playing music in a room together.
Also, looking back on 'Old Souls', how happy are you with this record still? I’m still incredibly proud of that record, it turned out exactly how we wanted it to and it is a pretty good representation of what we wanted Deaf Havana to be at that moment in time. Our albums are like time stamps, so every time we release a record everyone gets to hear what we’re thinking, or feeling at that moment in time.
After 'Old Souls' there was one point where James was close to quitting, can you tell us a bit about that, as well as what that whole time was like for the band? Well we didn't really have a plan after ‘Old Souls’ was released, which is why everything fell apart. We had six gigs in the UK to promote our record, which wasn't really good enough. I think we all became complacent and lost interest, so we just let everyone around us sort things out. When it went wrong we’d blame each other or people that worked for us, and it left a really bitter taste in our mouths. At that moment James wanted to quit, I think we all wanted to, but no one had the guts to say it. I’m not sure what stopped him, but I’m glad we got the chance to record another album.
How excited are you for your upcoming UK tour, and what can attending fans expect? I’m more excited about the UK tour than I ever have been about anything to do with this band. We’ve not really toured the UK properly in three years and we have a bunch of new songs that we’re looking forward to playing. I’m looking forward to showing people how far we've developed as musicians and as people, and it’s going to be a great show. The guy we have designing the stage and the lights is throwing around some really cool ideas, so people will have a great time.
Looking back over your live shows, can you give us one or two shows that really stick out to you over the years, and maybe a bit about why that is? My favourite show we’ve ever played was at the end of the FAWL campaign, when we headlined Shepherds Bush Empire. It was the first time we’d sold tickets in big venues in the UK, and to sell 2000 tickets in London was just mental for a band like us. We played the set and had a great time, then for the encore we invited the London Youth Gospel Choir onstage with us and it was one of the most memorable moments of my career. My parents and wife were there and they said the encore had the entire crowd in tears.
What else can we expect to see from Deaf Havana in 2017? We just want to promote this record and have a good time. At the end of the day, we started this band because we’re all very good friends that enjoy playing music together and above anything else, we want to keep it that way. We’re going to be touring a lot more, taking this album to as many different countries as possible, and playing as many festivals as we can.
Interview with Dec
How did you get to the album title 'Safe In Sound', and what does it mean to you? We were actually having a conversation in our band WhatsApp group just throwing a few ideas out there one evening and when Mike suggested it, everyone immediately agreed. It just kind of sums up the whole vibe of the album. Using music as escapism for whatever it may be to you personally. I think it's really interesting how people use music in so many different ways and obviously the songs on the record have a meaning but at the same time people may create their own meaning or attach the song to a time period or memory etc. I guess ultimately, they do it to feel comfortable and happy.
Can you elaborate on some of the other main themes and influences that run throughout 'Safe In Sound'? Every song definitely has its own story on this one. However obvious or cryptic it may be.
What was the hardest part about putting 'Safe In Sound' together for you, and why? With our last album being way more successful than we thought it was going to be we had kind of unintentionally set the bar really high for ourselves which at first is quite a scary concept but you know good music doesn't mean anything without some kind of hardship or massive obstacle in the way when trying to create it.
Can you tell us a bit about where 'Safe In Sound' was recorded and who with, as well as how you think that process has compared to anything you have done before? It was produced by Dan Lancaster who did our last record and Ben engineered the guitars on the record. The record was recorded in a few different Studios. The drums were done in a studio called the pool in London, the guitars and bass were done in the LTA studio in Watford and vocals in a few different places in London too. It's a kind of similar process to the last record but we've learnt what and where sounds and feels better on this one. It massively makes a difference recording guitars in our own studio because It completely takes the stress of studio time etc and we could just focus on getting the best takes etc.
You have said that this record is "big enough to be played in those venues" in regards to your upcoming huge headline tour. So as a band, how would you say your sound has grown/changed since your self-titled album, and did you know what style/direction you wanted to push the album in before you even went into the studio? ‘Had Enough’ was the first song written and we gave ourselves a mission statement of making a ‘track 1’ for the record. That was the starting point and it all slowly fell into place from there. I don't think the songs are necessarily written specifically for “big rooms” but I think they will definitely sound good in them!
So how excited are you for your upcoming UK tour (biggest headline tour to date!), and what can attending fans expect? SO SO excited. The fact this band is headlining Brixton is so mental to me. I grew up seeing bands in that venue and we are just going to put on the best show we possibly can. The setlist is almost there and it is 100% the best ever LTA headline set already!
What was it like to take on the main stage at Reading/Leeds festival, and what do you remember the most from these shows? Again, it’s just one of those “Is this actually real” moments and you get caught up in a frenzy of nerves, adrenaline and general excitement. When I really take a look about what we are achieving with the band right now, 15 year old me is loosing it with every big thing we tick off the list!
What's been the most enjoyable music video for you to be a part of since your formation, and why? I think so far it’s still ‘Here We Go’. I am personally just really happy with how that video turned out and it was a massive turning point for the band when we released the song and video.
How would you say the alternative rock scene has grown/changed since you first started out? It’s very easy these days to just see what is popular and just completely a rip off and copy. I see so many bands doing that and that’s good for them right now but I want to be playing music when I'm a haggard old man. I’d rather spend the time now grafting and trying to create our own vibe than take a fast track ticket to the top.
What else can we expect to see from Lower Than Atlantis in 2017? New album, new shows, hopefully festivals and just soaking up the good vibes all round.
Interview with Arya When did you first get into playing drums? I think it was probably round about the age of six. I was really drawn to it. My parents were getting me lessons and I had to stick with them for a year or so before they brought me a drum kit and that happened. so here we are! It’s great.
What drummers have really influenced you over the years, and why? My favourite drummer of all time is probably Roger Taylor from Queen – ‘We Will Rock You’ is one of the first drum things that I remember hearing and it was all drums and vocals and I have never heard anything like that before. I was like “that is so cool.” As I sort of got older I realised he was a songwriter as well and was always very musical. He was, and still is a big influence. Stuart Copeland from The Police is a massive influence, especially with the reggae style thing…obviously Gun N Roses, Metallica. I was into like rock music straight out of the bat really. And it’s just the big guys, the ones that everyone says I guess, like Phil Collins, just the sort of legendary drummers. I was always drawn to them, seeing them sat behind the kit playing in front of hundreds of thousands of people. I would be like “wow that is rad.”
Can you tell us a bit about the formation of Skindred, and maybe how you found your sound? Benji was in a band called Dub War earlier on and they were mixing the sort of Jamaican sounds and more sort of indie rock stuff in the 90s and Skindred came about to be a bit more on the heavier side, so the influences were more like Helmet, The Ruts, more of an aggressive sort of sound and then it sort of turned into metal. I don’t know how the metal influence came, I guess it was touring with those sorts of bands, we were put on the road with lots of metal bands like Korn and Disturbed and Soulfly early on and you could sort of feel the power of metal and from that we got a bit heavier over the years, which has been great. I think with Benji you have a secret weapon because he can sing anything in any style so it’s very easy for us to provide a background thing for him to sing over. With Skindred we are very lucky because we can do whatever we want musically and we can change things up, there’s not really a box that we have to sit in. It comes quite easy, there’s not a real thought about “we have to make it sound like this.”
How did you get to the name Skindred, and what does it mean to you? Our bass player came up with the name. It was using the reggae sound with the “dred” you know the reggae element, with the heaviness of skinhead, you know the punk skinhead – skindred pop them together. As far as band names go I think we got a decent one there didn’t we!
When did you first realize that Skindred was going to be a life changing band? I don’t want to sound arrogant but I knew straight away. For me, the idea of playing music in front of as many people as you can is still the goal of the band, to grow and spread the message, spread the different kind of sound we have to as many people as possible. I wouldn’t have been satisfied with us just playing in the practice room all the time, it had to get bigger and it had to grow otherwise I don’t think we would be doing it for as long as we have. Yeah I guess when we joined there was a scope for it as I don’t really know any other bands that are doing it…maybe that’s a bad thing I don’t know. When you have a unique sound you want to push it out there as far as possible. System Of A Down are a good reference point for us, not in terms of the sound, but there’s no band on the planet that sounds like them and they’re a massive band everywhere they go and I think that was inspirational for us, as we were like “okay they are a different sounding band and they’re massive.” Faith No More, no one sounds like them, Chilli Peppers…those sort of bands that have gone into the mainstream by doing their own thing, and I think that was sort of the influence for me anyway.
So, looking back on 'Volume', how happy have you been with the response to this album so far, and what do you think it has done for the representation of Skindred? I think ‘Volume’ for me did what it said on the tin. We wanted to make an aggressive heavy album again and we wanted it to be concise and I think we did that. It’s been out for just over a year and the response from when we play songs from ‘Volume’ now is amazing. I think ‘Saying It Now’ is one of my favourite songs we have ever written and ‘Sound The Siren’ are songs that I think are great. ‘Volume’ is the first step in the new Skindred, if that make sense? We want to continue with those ‘Saying It Now’ and ‘Sound The Siren’ type songs. So you have got some really amazing lyrics from Benji and really touching subject matter and then you have the Skindred all right craziness of ‘Sound The Siren’ – I want to take that kind of sound to the next level. People seem to really dig ‘Volume’, I’m pretty proud of it. It’s good to do something quickly, we wrote and recorded it in three months which for us was really quick. It felt good though, I’m just a believer in don’t think about it too much – if it feels good do it. If it sounds good then everyone is happy, I don’t like fighting over songs which happens quite a lot of the time.
Which songs are you still really enjoying performing live from 'Volume' at the moment, and why? I love playing ‘Sound The Siren’ because it fits in a pocket. It fits in a groove where a lot of Skindred stuff jumps around, there’s lots of different feels in one song, there’s a metal bit, a rock bit, a reggae bit, the dance bit, and ‘Sound The Siren’ fits in a pocket of a whole song, it’s really comfortable and you can just see people dancing and jumping around to it, like I say, going back to if it feels good – that song is a great example of that because it’s very simple and it’s got a great vocal line that Benji will do his acrobatics over, but the actual groove and the riff of the song is simple and it’s really satisfying for the band to play.
There was only just over a year between 'Volume' and 'Kill The Power', which marks the shortest time ever for a Skindred album coming together. So how come this record came to life so quickly? It was funny because we recorded ‘Kill The Power’ in 2012 but it didn’t come out until 2014, so for us it felt like there had been a long gap, so it was written and recorded and then came out so it didn’t feel long. I think when you look it says ‘Kill The Power’ 2014, ‘Volume’ 2015 so people assume it’s a year gap. When ‘Kill The Power’ came out in January 2014 then ‘Volume’ came out October 2015 so it was almost a two year gap anyway. It’s just one of those things. You don’t want people to think that you rushed a record as it’s an easy way to strike it off if it’s crap you know. “Oh it’s a year between record’s they must have rushed that!”, but it wasn’t the case.
How did you end up signing with Napalm Records, and what have you enjoyed the most about working with them? Napalm tried to sign us probably about 5-6 years ago, they tried twice before and we went with other labels at the time as it didn’t seem it was the right home for us, but now we’ll see. I don’t want to be down about record labels but to me they’re just a necessary evil for us. We have been doing what we are doing for so long I would like to have longer relationships with labels but the problem with labels is that everything is personal. It can change so quickly, so you have one guy who loves it, and in our case the guy did, as he signed us but by the time the record came out he left the company, so it just seems very transient. If we ever do another record with Napalm that would be great, if we don’t that would be great. As long as we can make music I don’t really mind who puts it out.
How did the idea for the Newport Helicopter originally come about? There was a point in the set with ‘Warning’ where we would get people to do like a wall of death or jump around and go crazy like “ahhhh!” you know and count to three and everyone would go mental. We did it at Download Festival and before we went on the promoters said “we don’t want anyone instigating a wall of death or anything violent, like proper moshing, circle pits as we have had injuries”, then Benji had this idea that he had, and he hadn’t told us where he saw an old hip hop video where everyone took their t-shirts off from the 80s, and so we got to that bit and he just started telling everyone to take their shirts off, he hadn’t told us and we’re all like “what the fuck is he doing?” Everyone went mental, and that’s how it was born really, it was his brain child and he hadn’t thought about calling it the “Newport Helicopter” it just came out – a little stroke of genius from Benji which was great. I think it’s bigger than the song, it’s my favourite part of the set to be honest because you know everyone is going to do it and at that one time everyone is unified. It’s really satisfying as when we play festivals other bands get the best view of the house with everyone doing it. They are like “oh ‘we’re going to rip that off.”
Touring wise, what did you get up to in 2016, and can you give us a couple of personal highlights from your time on the road? 2016 everyone is going on about what a crap year it’s been but personally it’s been a great year, I got married, I’ve been on the road with the band, and the band is doing the best they have ever done if you ask me. We played some great festivals, we did Download and Reading, we played sold out shows in Europe, America, it’s been the year of Skindred. I haven’t got anything negative to say about 2016 apart from the obvious things that happened to the world, and everyone was a victim to that, not just one person or one type of person, everyone has been affected by the crap that has happened. But for me with the band it’s been great, I think just being able to do what we love as not a job, but a passion…you have to pinch yourself every day.
You guys played to over one million people at Polish Woodstock. So what was that whole experience like for you, and what do you remember the most from the set? It was pretty remarkable, I think talking about pinching yourself to see if it’s real, I mean I think that’s probably the best example of that. You can’t see where the people end, from the left to the right, to the back, it’s very weird. We were lucky to be one of the first, it was an incredible feeling, I can’t really describe it. We are used to playing in front of big crowds. The thing about Skindred is we play a big gig at Polish Woodstock, then in February we are going to small venues and playing to 250 people, I think it’s great. We are lucky that we can still do that, it keeps you in check, it keeps you normal. If you were doing Wembley stadium every night I think it would probably be hard to keep your feet on the ground, I can understand why people get weird when they get big. It must be a strange feeling. I think for us we do a bit of everything which is great.
Talking of festivals, why haven't you guys headlined Download yet? Do you think that would ever be on the table or be a goal to aim for? It would obviously be a massive honour, we would love to headline I mean I don’t know if we are there yet. I think it could happen, we are still doing this for the band to grow and Download is our hometown, it’s our market, we are like a house band so I like to think they would give us a shot one day. We would blow each other up with pyro, not knowing how to use it!
The music you guys have created has always worked very well in a live atmosphere. So if you can, tell us how a song normally comes together for you guys? It’s so sporadic, I mean Mikey (guitar) will have ideas and some concepts he will bring to the band and Dan (bass) will do the same, myself and Benji do it with everyone. Sometimes Dan will come with a whole song then sometimes Mike will come with riff ideas, but none of it comes complete until everyone has had their input on it. Sometimes Benji will send a vocal idea to work on or sometimes I will send the grooves to someone as inspiration – there’s no right or wrong way to do it. I think if we found the perfect way, all the albums would start sounding the same. We will probably look at doing something different when it’s time to write the next one.
How excited are you for your upcoming UK tour, and what can attending fans expect? Like we were saying about playing small places, this is what we did in November and this month we are playing small clubs so we can get up close and personal with people and give an old school Skindred show…the production is very scaled back, it’s just the band on stage rocking out, really hot, really sweaty. Talking about the Newport helicopter, if do the Newport helicopter in a small club you’re going to feel that, you know?. That’s the idea, It’s time to get back and give the fans who have stuck with us a long time a chance to see us in a small venue again, because a year ago we were headlining Brixton Academy and now we are going back to playing Concorde (Brighton) all these small rooms, which I think is great as it shows you’re a band of the people, and that’s important to us.
How would you say the alternative rock world has changed/progressed since you guys first started out? It’s weird because I feel two ways about it, you know they say “the cream always rises to the top.” There are so many bands that started out when we started out that are all gone. My one theory is because “the cream rises to the top”, the other theory is, that it’s really hard, so I’m a bit in the middle with it. To be in a band for as long as we have, you have to have the support of the fan base to continue to do it. If you don’t get that support you physically can’t do it, financially, mentally, everything, so we are lucky that we have that. There is a lot of great bands that started out with us who had to pack it in because they just couldn’t make ends meet doing it. Real life gets in the way, so I think the metal scene has a big strong community out there, people are showing support. You know that thing that happened with Team Rock, and I think it was fantastic that big Just Giving page that Orange Goblin started, that’s just proof that the metal community is really strong. Anything I would say is just take a leaf out of their book, if you have got favourite bands support them, otherwise they won’t be your favourite band because they will have to stop.
What else can we expect to see from Skindred in 2017? Well we just confirmed a couple of festivals, Bloodstock and the headline of Steelhouse Festival (Wales). I would like to think we are not going anywhere, we are around annoying people for as long as we possibly can. After the February tour we are going to go to Australia, then we are going to go back to America and I think back to Japan, I think the UK is just going to be festivals other than shows mentioned, not sure if we’re doing anything else. After that I think probably a little break before we do the new record. I would like to have a new record out in 2018, I don’t think it���s going to happen in 2017, I think 2018. I don’t want to leave it too long as people forget about you, don’t they?
How did you first get into playing bass? I was first playing bass when I was eleven years old and me and a group of my friends were having lunch at school one day and decided we wanted to play at this yearly festival. So we each pretty much picked an instrument and I picked bass. It suited me. We played things like ‘Dammit’ by Blink 182 and I played ‘For Whom The Bells Tolls’ by Metallica. That was pretty much how it started!
Can you tell us a bit about when you first joined Trivium, as well as what it was like to be an upcoming band in Orlando, Florida? I’m actually from South Florida so we’re about three hours apart and we get together for like a year, so we kind of knew each other and they needed a bass player urgently, as the original guy left on the first tour and the next guy didn’t work out on the second tour. I had just graduated high school and it pretty much just went from there.
When did you first realize that Trivium was going to be a career lasting band? It wasn’t really until we came over to Europe and the UK, it felt like this could definitely be something much bigger than I thought it would be. It makes you think there are possibilities for life here. It’s pretty mind blowing that it was twelve years ago now, but yeah it’s been awesome.
So what made you want to re-release 'Ember to Inferno', and personally, what track means the most to you from that record? Well the original deal was a couple of years ago, the record came back to the band after the original deal was up. You couldn’t get it on pretty much all of the streaming sites, stores or online, everyone was having to buy it off Ebay and Matt decided to put all the demos from ‘Ember To Inferno’ and take it to Corey and I and some others. He came up with this whole kind of total beginning demos or early Trivium days type thing to put out. It’s really cool and it’s a bunch of different coloured vinyl’s .
What has the response been like so far for the reissue of ‘Ember To Inferno’? People that haven’t heard it before are hearing it for the first time online, it’s exciting – if we play it live it will be good to see how people react.
How did the new artwork for 'Ember to Inferno' come together? Ashley Heafy designed the artwork and layouts. The "black metal" Trivium logo was done by the awesome Christophe Szpajdel and the photos are by our friend Jon Paul Douglass.
You guys were only in your early 20s when you Interview with Paolo started to become successful, so what was it like, to have to tour the world that young? It was an experience. We learnt more about people all over the world and how music brings people together. It definitely changed my outlook on life and the world.
What songs are you still really enjoying performing live from that record, and why? One I really like to play is ‘Rise Above The Tides’ because of the vibe. It’s fun and treated well live, it’s very melodic and I think it sounds better live than on record. It’s been fun to work them in and see which songs kind of latched on with people live as the record has gone from being a new release to a year old.
How did you end up working with Ihsahn on the track Snøfall, and what was that whole process like for you? We had a pretty good idea of what we wanted, so we hit up Ihsahn and pitched the idea of him doing the intro... he gave us a rough idea of what he thought he would like to do. We were just really stoked with what ended up becoming this cinematic/dramatic, menacing intro. So really we just let him go at it!
It's been ten years since the release of 'The Crusade', so looking back on that time, what do you remember the most, and how would you say this record compares to anything else Trivium have done? It was kind of a little bit of a contentious time for us. We just finished all the ‘Ascendancy’ stuff and we never really thought about the record so I just kind of remember we learned a lot of lessons and the benefits of preproduction and taking your time and having some space away from touring to really think about what you want to do. That’s one of those things you have to go through and learn. It was a little rocky behind the scenes, but some of the songs were my favourite to play live.
Touring wise, what did you get upto in 2016 and can you give us a couple of personal highlights from your time on the road? If the right tour comes along then we will do it and just keep doing the festivals. I mean all the festivals we did this year including Rock On The Range were incredible.
How excited are you for your upcoming UK tour, and what can attending fans expect? We are very excited because it’s going to be the last tour of the album and we want to end on a high note before the next break. Before we start thinking about any new music.
Can you give us one or two of your highlights from performing in the UK before? Download Festival! It was huge! Also, the gigs we did with Iron Maiden in 2006 definitely stick out.
Overall, how would you say the sound of Trivium has grown/changed since you first started out? I mean Matt’s become a more melodic singer. It would be weird not to feature him more as a melodic singer than just like a screaming vocalist with bits and pieces here and there. When you play live it’s awesome because we can really cover any of our albums and we are able to pull them off exactly the way they were on the record and it’s nice to have such a dynamic set and songs.
What else can we expect to see from Trivium as we head towards 2017? Once we have finished the touring we are going to take some time out and think about what to do next. For us we just want to like renew the energy in the band and we are also excited about a new record.
Why did Jason Richardson end up parting ways with the band? We had different views, and different tastes in writing styles.
Also, how did Stephen Rutishauser become a part of Chelsea Grin, and what has he been like to work with so far? He's been a long-time friend, and he's actually been touring with us for a while. He's done everything from merch, to guitar tech, to filling in, and everything in-between. He's one of the hardest working dudes, as well as an awesome musician.
How did you end up signing to Rise Records, and what have they been like to work with so far? They came to us. They made us feel really comfortable, and we felt as though we'd be taken real good care of. So far, it's been amazing! We really feel like we're part of the family.
Interview with Alex How did you get to the album title 'Self Inflicted', and what does it mean to you? The lyrics on the album range from depression, addiction, heart break, betrayal, and so on. The title just seemed fitting.
Can you tell us about some of the other main themes and influences that run throughout 'Self Inflicted'? It's all supposed to be relatable. It's all based on real life experiences that I have experienced first hand, or someone very close to me had experienced.
What was the hardest part about putting 'Self Inflicted' together for you, and why? This album was honestly pretty stress free. For once! Ha.
We've read that this is your most "extreme release" yet, so can you elaborate on how you've progressed musically with this album? We've all grown, and have progressed as musicians. At the same time, we wanted to release a ridiculously heavy album again. I'd say we found a pretty solid medium.
Who was the album recorded with, and how would you say they helped shape the album? Instruments were tracked with Stephan Hawkes, and vocals were tracked by Stetson (Buckett) Whitworth. Both of them really understood, and shared our vision for the album. Made it really easy to work together.
Looking back on 'Ashes To Ashes', how happy are you with this album still, and what do you think it has done for Chelsea Grin? I love it! There are still songs that we haven't played live yet, and I'm really looking forward to doing so. I think this album was a good stepping stone for what's to come in the future.
What was it like to perform 'Desolation of Eden' straight through on tour, and what was it like to re-visit songs that you hadn't played live much/or at all? It was definitely nostalgic. I was 18 years old when we wrote that record. It was kind of funny playing all those songs again, but still a lot of fun.
How did the front cover for 'Self Inflicted' come together, and what does it mean to you? It represents what you see, and what other people see. The good, and the bad. Completely divided in two.
How excited are you for your upcoming UK tour, and what else can we expect to see from you in 2017? Personally, I always look forward to coming to the UK in general! Our fans there are incredible, and we've always been treated well. Expect an intense, and ridiculously heavy show. As far as the rest of the year, we're going to be touring like crazy on the new album, as well as putting out a few new videos, and some other fun surprises along the way.
Interview with Charlie
So let's take it right back to the beginning here. How did Anthrax first form/when did you join and at that point did you realize that Anthrax was going to be a career lasting band? The band actually formed in Queens NY with Scott and ex bass player Dani Lilker starting the band back in ‘81/’82. I joined the band at the end of ‘83 and then we actually made our first record called ‘Fistful of Metal.’ From there of course the band changed. With the next record, which would be our first major label release ‘Spreading The Disease’ so at that time it was just four of us, we had no singer. So Scott took over more of the lyrics and I took over more of the music. We’ve had this kind of marriage ever since STD and I think from that moment on the sound of Anthrax really started to happen.
Where did the name Anthrax come from, and what does it mean to you? Oh boy! Well that came from back in school, Scott heard the name Anthrax in like a biology class or some science class and just liked it. It just stuck.
Looking back on the recording process for 'Among The Living' what do you remember the most about this time, and how would you say this album compares to anything else you've done? It’s funny you should say that because I consider this last record like ‘Among The Living’. The reasonI say that is because I felt ‘Worship Music’ was us being a new band again. We had Joey come back and we were really firing from all cylinders at that point. We just had that vibe and that momentum. That’s the same thing that happened with ‘Spreading The Disease’ which was our second record and then the next record that would go into it was ‘Among The Living’. So that’s the way I feel about ‘For All Kings’ we had such a good momentum going into it that I think the music just kind of came out, and the vibe came out. That’s why I compare the two records. There’s a lot of good songs on both records.
How did the really cool artwork for 'Among The Living' come together, and what does it mean to you? Well I’ve been designing the Anthrax covers basically since ‘Spreading The Disease’ and I remember meeting with the art department at Atlantic records because Island was through Atlantic and WB. I had this idea in my head and this image like an aerial view of all these people who basically looked alike and you had this one person in the crowd who didn’t, and he was just kind of tipping his hat and waving his hand like: “I’m here, the evil is among us.” I just think it’s a very iconic cover after all these years. I’ve seen the show Homeland kind of take it and do something like it. I’ve even seen Star Wars Rouge One do something like it. So that’s pretty impressive! Maybe I took it from somewhere and I don’t even realize it….
'For All Kings' has nearly been out for a year now. So looking back on this release, how happy are you with it still, and what do you think it has done for the representation of Anthrax? I’m extremely happy with it. It was one of my favorite records to make and we still haven’t even gotten into playing a lot of these songs. There are a lot of really cool songs to play on this record that we haven’t even touched yet. I would love to just do one show of just playing the whole record. I know it’s a little bit of an undertaking but who knows, what kind of magic could happen from doing that.
How did Jonathan Donais end up becoming a part of Anthrax, and what has he been like to work with so far? When Rob was considering leaving the band, I think he put feelers out there without us knowing, and one was John. I think Rob wanted to make his departure easier for us so he had someone in mind who was a great guitar player. We all knew John, he’s a great guitar player, great dude. So it was kind of seamless and John has worked out so great. Some of his leads on this record are some of my favourite leads that we ever had.
How excited are you for your upcoming UK tour, and what can attending fans expect from the set? Well it’s no secret that I love the UK and I love coming there and it’s a place where I think for me I’ve always looked to musically speaking. Some of my favourite FAVOURITE artists and bands have come out of there. I loved the way back in the 60s a lot of musicians and artists were looking to America, that American sound like motown and the blues and stuff like that. They took it but they did something totally different with it and just changed the face of music. So I’m always looking to the UK for that type of inspiration. Plus I just love the people there, it’s just a great place.
Can you give us one or two of your personal highlights from performing in the UK over the years? Ok that’s easy! First show that we ever played was at the Hammersmith Palais. And it’s one of these shows that always sticks out, we always remember it. We just felt so welcomed and so loved. It was one of those experiences that you probably won’t have again. It happened the first time we were there and it was amazing. To top it off, Lemmy was there too. I’ve been a Motorhead fan for so long and to see Lemmy in our dressing room that night, it was surreal.
What else can we expect to see from Anthrax in 2017? Well apart from the tour we’re putting out a box set version of ‘For All Kings’ and this is a pretty amazing piece of merchandise. It’s made up of a bunch of singles, different colored. It has bonus tracks, demo tracks, great artwork and I think it’s a fans dream. For me putting it together I was just so excited. I think everybody is going to really like it. So enjoy that. Anyway, see you soon!
Interview with Dan
What made you want to have a self-titled album and what does that kind of title mean to you? I think it was time we finally made a self-titled album as this album is the most genuine, true to ourselves, "cut ourselves and bleed on the canvas" type of album we have ever made.
Can you elaborate on some of the other main themes and influences that run throughout your self-titled album? This album is very very personal to each of us. No matter if it was a topic Eddie wrote about, something we talked about, or even something we were thinking about when writing or recording these songs. Everyone was in their own headspace at the time but I assure you feelings were at an all-time high of actually feeling deep stuff. I can share that this was one of the most depressed Iâ€™ve ever been in my life while recording due to personal reasons. I was fighting the feelings really hard but sometimes you just got to let it go and rip and blackout. When I did let it go even for a bit, it hurt but I felt very alive.
How did the artwork for your self-titled album come together, and what does it mean to you? I think it was actually an idea my little brother had a while ago and shot out at me and the guys and we were all intrigued. He said something like "why don't you guys just put a picture of you guys on the cover." When we finally got into the writing and recording the idea set in more. This record is so "US", so letâ€™s put a photo of us on the cover and name the album "Suicide Silence."
How did you end up working with Ross Robinson, and how would you say he helped shape the record? It's always been a dream for us to work with him. I would of even loved to meet him back then. But we got to work with him and we got to build a lifelong friendship with the guy. We tried to get in touch - we did, we wanted to have a meeting - we did... The cards fell into place. Before I knew it, we were living at his home and recording our record daily. I didn't realize I was going into Ross Robinson "therapy" as well but I did and I am thankful for his wisdom and guidance. The music follows the heart and Ross made sure that our hearts were ready to record before recording.
Touring wise, what did you get up to in 2016, and can you give us a couple of personal highlights from your time on the road? We toured a whole bunch in many different countries. We flew a lot and if you know me I LOVEEEEEE FLYING... NOT! A personal highlight for me was finally going to Japan! I have always wanted to go and we had a great time there with the shows, culture, and people. I also ate ramen just about every single day. I can't wait to go back. We also played the Gathering of the Juggalos in Thornville, Ohio. That was wild! Debauchery I tell ya.
After losing Mitch Lucker. Can you tell us about how you went on to find your new lead singer with Hernan "Eddie" Hermida, and maybe a bit about what that whole process was like for you? After losing Mitch we took some time off after the memorial show. Then I moved from San Francisco to Temecula to be closer to the band. We then started writing ‘You Can't Stop Me’ without a vocalist. When the time came, we had personal talks and Eddie was the perfect talk. Only thing we needed for him to do was to say yes. We asked him to join the band when we took him to Disneyland. For me, it felt like proposing. Will you marry us Eddie? haha! The rest is history.
This is your second album with Eddie now, so how would you say your sound has grown/progressed since the release of 'You Can't Stop Me'? How is this record different? This record is much different. I will say we finally feel more free to be ourselves on this one. No shackles holding us back in any sense. ‘You Can't Stop Me’ had everyone breathing down our necks and we could feel the breaths. This time we felt more comfortable to be US! Eddie killed it on both albums. but this new one, he certainly was more "EDDIE" which I can't wait for everyone to hear.
Also, looking back on 'You Can't Stop Me', how happy are you with this album still, and what do you think it has done for the representation of Suicide Silence? I am still very happy with it. I love it! It was the perfect record for the time and is a fun chapter of the band to listen back to. It has some real fun heavy tracks on it.
How excited are you for your upcoming UK tour, and what can attending fans expect? Very excited! We love the UK. Shows are always great, along with the fans. I am excited for the shows, fans, venues, food... etc. You can expect a loud heavy metal show with tons of energy like always. Also, you can expect new songs being played live for the first time.
What else can we expect to see from Suicide Silence in 2017? Our new album, music videos, rock gigs, and us being us!
Interview with Cyrus
Touring wise what have you been up to in 2016, and can you give us a couple of personal highlights from your time on the road? 2016 was a busy year for NFG, starting with our “Florida Vacation Tour” in late February playing in smaller venues throughout our home state of Florida leading up to an amazing time on the 2nd Parahoy! cruise. After that we came over to the UK to participate in the 10th edition of Slam Dunk (and totally loved it), and then we headed out on the Vans’ Warped Tour in the US all summer long. Warped was super fun, especially having so many friends on the tour this year like Less Than Jake, Yellowcard, Sum 41, The Story So Far, just to name a few. I think my personal highlight would definitely be from Warped Tour; I had the privilege of not only playing with NFG every day but also filling in on drums for Yellowcard the entire summer, so besides getting a “double” workout in every day I got to play some songs that I’ve been listening to for over 10 years on a daily basis and I got to help out some good friends on their last Warped Tour ever.
So let's take it right back here. How did New Found Glory first form? Long story, but in a nutshell, NFG was formed in 1997 by Jordan and Ian (who were in a different band at the time) wanting to start a new band, and hearing that Chad (who was singing in Shai Hulud) wanted to play guitar in a pop-punk band. They were all acquaintances from high school and being part of the same local scene. The first NFG show was in the summer of 1997, with a different drummer. I joined the band a few months later, and the rest is history!
What was it like to be an upcoming band in Coral Springs, FL? At first, it didn’t seem like anything special. We would just do what we liked — write songs that reminded us of our favorite bands, record and rehearse them, and then try and book shows at whatever local venue would have us. It seemed like we were always playing the same few bars, but each time we would get all of our friends to show up and they would end up bringing a few of their friends. The shows grew slowly but surely, and eventually we started getting the attention of local promoters and being asked to open up bigger shows at these same venues. Looking back at the scene then it was really something special because it seemed like every local band knew each other and supported each other, no matter what we sounded like, even if that meant that a show had a ska band, a hardcore band, a punk band and a pop-punk band all play together. We put in the work and eventually it did pay off for not only us but a decent amount of South Florida bands.
When did you first realize that New Found Glory was going to be a career lasting band? I think my first moment that I realized that we really had something special was when we were first played on MTV. It’s pretty surreal to be played on the TV (or radio for that matter). You just sit there in disbelief for a minute…in addition to our friends and family being proud at that same time we had been asked to support Blink-182 for a summer tour and we were playing every night to thousands of people all over the US. That was stuff that we had dreamed of but never thought possible, and it was all coming true. For us we knew that we had something special and that our goal as a band would be to try and ensure that we continue doing what we do best for as long as possible.
So you are twenty years in now. How would you say your sound has grown/changed since you first started out? I think we’re constantly growing, as people and as musicians in the band. Throughout the years we’ve not only become more comfortable with our instruments but also more comfortable with who we are as a band, allowing us to really explore our creativity and not feel “forced” into making songs sound a certain way. We still no matter what write and play songs that first and foremost we enjoy, but we also aren’t afraid to take chances. One of the best things about our sound is the uniqueness of Jordan’s voice, so we know that pretty much anything we write and play will sound like NFG once Jordan’s voice is put on top of it.
It's been just over ten years since the release of 'Coming Home', so can you tell us a bit about what you remember from putting that record together for you guys, as well as how you think it compares to anything else you have done? ‘Coming Home’ was a very important record for NFG in many ways. First off, that record came at a difficult time in our professional career, because our label at the time (Geffen Records) was undergoing massive changes internally, and as a band that’s one of the worst things that can happen. After spending years getting to know some great people at our label, it seemed like in an instant they were all gone and replaced with new people that didn’t quite “get” us and had different ideas for how we should approach our career and music in general. Also, that record was interesting because we rented a big house for a few months, setup all of our gear, and just played and recorded whatever came out. So we spent a considerable amount of time trying and testing different ideas and sounds, and that’s one of the reasons why that record is a little slower and has more elements like keys on it. Like I said, I think ‘Coming Home’ was a very important record for us because we purposefully tried some new things, and although there were some who questioned what we were doing at the time, looking back now for many that album is one of their favorites, and for us I think it proved that anything was possible as far as songwriting and sounds were concerned.
So what made you want to do a "Twenty Years of Pop Punk" tour, and how come you won't be performing 'Radiosurgery' & 'Resurrection'? Well, it’s not often that bands even make it to 20 years, so we’ve been talking about this for some time now. We wanted to do something special to celebrate not only our career but also celebrate the amazing fans that we’ve had throughout the years, and playing our older albums in full was a perfect way to do this. We’re really excited to not only play songs that we’ve played practically every show for the past 20 years, but also to play songs that we’ve literally never played live. When we did the album anniversary tours for our selftitled record and ‘Sticks and Stones’ a few years back we had a great time playing all the songs from those records and we felt like we needed to add a few more albums to the mix this time around. As far as not playing any of the newer records, there’s a few reasons: 1) we had to save something for next time!, 2) we really wanted to showcase the older stuff since I think many times fans always expect the bands to just play their new record and that’s it, and 3) to try and play 8 albums in full would kill us! I mean even going for 6 albums is going to be a lot of work, and unfortunately we don’t even have the time to do that in a lot of cities. But so far it seems like the idea is going over amazing, and I’m sure there will be more things like this in the future!
The artwork for 'Catalyst' is really cool. Can Also, what is it like to re-visit your older material, I mean has there been tracks that about how it came together, as well as what you have just really loved playing that you Oh yeah, I love the artwork for ‘Catalyst’ as well! That a might of not done for such a long time? Yes, definitely! I’ve already started to go back and listen to some of our records. It might sound weird but I don’t sit there and only listen to NFG, so I honestly haven’t heard some of these records in full for years. There’s songs that I almost forget until they come on, and then I’m like “oh yeah, this is one of our songs!” There are songs that we do play live, albeit rarely, that are always fun, even if it seems like it’s more fun for us than the fans, but there are also songs that we have never played live. And going into this tour, because we’ve not only advertised the fact that we are playing these records but also advertised exactly which records we’re playing each night, we know that the fans will be excited and ready to hear some of the less popular songs, and it won’t feel awkward to play them. It’s going to take a bit of practice for us to remember some of these songs, but in the end I think it’s going to be a great time for all and a great way to celebrate and experience some of these classic albums.
This will come as a time of reflection for you guys, so can you give us one or two moments from your career that you would say are just absolute highlights? For me, I will always remember the tours. Whether it was opening up for Blink-182 or Green Day, or walking out on the main stage of Reading or Leeds, being able to travel and play shows all over the world has been a dream come true. I remember going to my first concert a long time ago in South Florida at a small club and just wondering what it was like to be on stage playing in front of people, and now 20 years later I’ve not only played that venue countless times, but I’ve played concerts in all 50 states and something like 20 countries! So the touring and traveling is definitely a highlight for me. In addition, I think having had a few records that have received sales awards in not only the US but other countries as well is a highlight. ‘Sticks and Stones’ was certified Gold here in the US, and Silver in the UK and Canada, and our self-titled record and ‘Catalyst’ were both certified Gold in the US as well. I have plaques hanging on my wall to always remind me of this, because that’s an easy way to put all of this in perspective. Somewhere, and at sometime, over two million people (and counting) have purchased and listened to our music, and so the impact that we have had as musicians and as people is such an amazing thing, and something I don’t think any of us had thought would happen when we first started.
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Your music has featured on films, TV and games. But for you, has there been a particular standout when it comes to hearing your music this way? Well, I’ll never forget when our music was featured in the movie “American Pie 2.” At the time that movie franchise was really popular in the States and I remember all of us being on tour when the movie was released and going to a theater to watch it. We were in the middle of nowhere in a theater that only had a handful of people in it, and we literally cheered when our song started playing. We stayed for the whole movie, including the credits because it’s awesome to see your name scroll up the screen as well! Also, I think being included on the Madden 2005 soundtrack was huge for us. There’s nothing quite like scoring a touchdown and hearing your own music play in the background…BAM!
So if you could have your music feature on any film, TV or video game right now. Then what would you personally go for, and why? That’s a tough question. I think I would take any of those honestly. It would be nice to be a theme song for a movie or TV show, because then when there’s weeks and weeks of the trailer getting played you’d have your song being played in the background. So, if you know anyone, put the word out that NFG would love to be on their soundtrack!
This might be a hard question, but if you had to pick, then which music video has been the most exciting for you to be a part of, and why? Actually that not’s that hard of a question. I always go back to the ‘My Friends Over You’ video as one of my favorites. Even though we’ve filmed countless videos, and a lot of them were really fun and exciting to shoot, that video in particular was great because it seemed very relaxing to create. All of the ideas in the video came from us, either as inside jokes or just things that we wanted to try to see if we could actually pull off on camera. It was super fun to have all of our fans and friends in the video as well, and all of the gags were fun to shoot. For instance, the toy drum thing was a last minute idea, but I went with it, and no one said to kick it over but I felt like it was the right thing to do at the time. And, there’s really funny things that a lot of people don’t know about that video, like how the choir conductor is Neal Avron, who produced the record. I also have one of my best friends in the video, he’s in the crowd for some shots and then he’s on stage with Ian during the shot with all of the big guys with their shirts off. We just had a great time making that video, and obviously it ended up becoming one of our most popular videos (and songs).
What can we expect from your upcoming album ‘Makes Me Sick’? We’re all real proud of this record, and I think it sounds amazing! We had our friend Aaron Sprinkle come in as a producer, and it’s been a few years since we’ve had a producer, so it was a relief (and a great thing) to have another amazing musician’s point of view and guidance throughout the songwriting and recording process. Also, the record is being mixed by Tom Lord-Alge, who mixed ‘Catalyst’ and ‘Coming Home’ (as well as hundreds of other legendary records), and he has made it sound so HUGE. With our last record (‘Resurrection’) we entered the studio with a mission — to prove to everyone that going from two guitarists down to one wouldn’t change our sound — and we purposely would record with that in mind, making sure not to add too many layers of guitars or other instruments. This time around, all of that is now behind us, so we were able to enter the studio with an open mind, and record whatever we wanted, so in the end, I feel like this record has so many more layers of stuff going on and makes the songs that much more interesting each and every listen. We can’t wait to share these songs with everyone and get out there and start playing them live!
What else can we expect to see from New Found Glory in 2017? In addition to our 20 year tour here in the US we’ll have the album being released before the summer, and I know we’re making plans to come back to the UK as well as other countries throughout the year. We’ll be on the road for most of the year so expect us to be coming to a town near you sometime very soon!
Can you tell us about the formation of Avenged Sevenfold? Yeah, we were a bunch of kids that either grew up together or we were playing in punk rock bands around Huntington beach. When we were in high school, Zacky and I had a guitar class together, and we decided that we wanted to make something that was more of a hybrid between metal and hardcore and punk rock. We hadn’t heard of many bands doing that before, although there were some like Posion the Well and Eighteen Visions that were influencing us at the time. So we got my best friend, The Rev who was an awesome drummer, and we got Mr Synyster Gates, and we started a band. Basically just a bunch of childhood friends.
When did you fist realise that Avenged Sevenfold would be a career lasting band? Oh god, hard to say. Every single day is a new challenge and a new day of obstacles. I guess that’s life though. I’ve always wanted this, and the band always wanted to be musicians for a career. So we kind of just said that we were going to do it no matter what. Even if we were living in a van, or off a dollar a day, which we did for a long time. We just said “we’re going to do it”, and luckily it worked out better than expected.
Let's talk about that time you headlined Download Festival. When did you find out that this would happen, and what was that whole experience like for you guys? Well it was great, because it was always a lifelong dream. We’d seen photos, and listened to bootleg concerts from Download Festival. Obviously we didn’t grow up in England, so it wasn’t something we were able to attend. But we talked to Andy Copping, and they were looking for a new band to kind of push the genre forward, and maybe start getting some new headliners, because it’s been recycled for a long time. Basically he told us if we could sellout the three arena dates that we were doing prior to it, then he would give us a shot at Download. The tickets went on sale, and they sold out immediately, so we were like “yes, we’re going to Download!” So then that created a whole new set of worries, and us thinking about it, and getting really pumped up about it. It was a huge step for us.
What do you remember the most from the set? I remember that it felt really good, but that it also went by really fast. Everyone has an experience where you get really excited for something, and it builds up. We had a week off before that show, so we were just hanging out in the countryside in England, just outside of London for a full week, so we had a full week to think about it, which was not good, because then you start to think about all of these things that could go wrong, and that’s very not normal for us to do, but we did. I remember it just going by very quickly, and then getting off stage and going “man I don’t know, was that, did that just happen.” It was just very exciting, and obviously when you’re that excited about something then it just flies by.
So you've probably had this question a lot, but we must know what made you want to have 'The Stage' be a surprise album? We’re just weird guys at this point in our lives. We really wanted to make a record, and we had a lot to say on it. But it was a little bit Interview with M. Shadows harder for us to put it out into the world, and it just didn’t feel like we wanted to go through the same process of three months of press before the album, and talking about a record that no one had heard, trying to hype things up, and then you get a couple of critics that review it, and then the impression they give, either good or bad all the fans just copy exactly what they hear from what the first review says. It’s the way of the internet these days. So we just said “why don’t we just surprise release it?.” We loved the way that Radiohead and Beyonce did it. We loved the whole idea of a spontaneous release, with all of the fixings right off the bat, no promotion. So all of these things came into play and we just said “we’re doing it” we didn’t care what the repercussions would be. We just really wanted to do something different for our genre.
This album is about artificial intelligence and the self-destruction of society. So how did these ideas originally come about, and what do you find the most interesting about these hard hitting topics? A lot of people are saying the destruction of society, but I don’t believe it’s about that. We’re already destroying ourselves, without the technology. Maybe if you think about nuclear weapons, which is technology, but when you’re talking about AI it’s more a posing a question to the human race. Like what do you think is going to happen when we create something that is smarter than us? What happens when we create something that is going to grow even more powerful than us? What do you think happens if you can create consciousness, or whatever we believe consciousness is. So it really just poses the questions of, who are the people making these things, and what kind of impact is it going to have on society? It also goes into space exploration, the good that AI can do, and it goes into some of the things that could potentially go wrong. So for us, it’s an overextending arc of a concept. What interests me about it is everything. I look up at the stars at night, and get blown away at how small and lonely it really is on this planet, in this vast universe. We really wanted to encapsulate all of those feelings, and all of that on this record. Also, tie in AI, which will be the next big question for mankind. It’s all interesting to me.
What would you say worries you the most about the future of Artificial Intelligence? What worries me the most is people not being educated or caring enough about these big questions. The people that are going to be creating these things are going to have all of the power in terms of what gets released, and how the programs are. If you create AI that understands that human life is the number one, most important thing, and you are able to program that in properly, then you have a chance, a safeguard against a computer completely wiping out the human race by accident because of a mission it’s supposed to do, or a job we’ve given it. At the same time, if people are too worried about putting food on their table, and too worried about their own family, and too worried about wars going on between the Middle East and America, or religious wars that still go on till this day. They’re not going to have time to even pay attention to some of these big questions that are kind of creeping up on us. That’s the most worrisome to me, that they don’t even know what could potentially be happening in their own world.
Some of your lyric writing is inspired by Carl Sagan & Elon Musk, so can you tell us about that, as well as maybe any other figures that have really influenced some of the lyrical content behind the album? There’s a lot, people like Richard Dawkins, and Sam Haris. I’m big fans of them, Neil Degrasse Tyson is obviously on the record. Kyle Sagan was an innovator, he is a man that can bring Science into pop culture and the masses, which is important. Elon Musk, he is thrown in there just because he has had some interesting theories on simulations, as well as interesting concerns about AI. So when you put all of those guys together, and you listen to their podcasts, read all of their books, and you are kind of weighing and balancing your own ideas against some of the people that are on the leading edge of this stuff. It basically influenced us in a way, which comes out in the record. But yeah, those guys to me all have their own little special niche that we pulled from.
Suitably with the overall idea of the album, Neil Degrasse Tyson features as a voice over on 'Exist'. So how did this idea happen, and can you tell us a bit about what he was like to work with? We wrote him an email, and kind of explained to his manager what we were doing, what our record was about, and how we wanted to educate our fans, and we felt that this song would be helped by a narrative from him. His manager didn’t think there was much of a chance of him doing it, but he said that he would pass it along, lo and behold he wrote back and said that he wanted to do it. So I got on the phone with him, and we had some discussions about what he would say. He pushed back a little bit, he said “are you sure you want me on the song for three and a half minutes, I feel like John Lennon was able to say so much with just a few amount of words on ‘Imagine’” and I was like “this isn’t ‘Imagine’, this isn’t a Beatles song, we are doing like a progressive rock type thing.” So yeah, he was very much for it, and it’s probably just as surprising to you as it is for me. It’s pretty cool though.
'Exist' is your longest song to date. It's about the big bang itself, which is kind of perfect for closing this album. Can you tell us about how it came together, and how it ended up becoming as long as it is? We never put together tracks with any kind of time limit involved. We actually try to make tracks as short as possible, as well as getting as many ideas in there as possible. So if something ends up being 7 minutes long, we just feel like those were all of the parts that needed to be in there, it was probably 11 minutes at one point, and we’ve cut it down. For ‘Exist’ we just really wanted to take our time with it. The beginning of the big bang, and then it goes into the radiation period, where everything is cooling down. Then it comes to earth, and then at the end it’s got that long narrative. So by design it had to be long, but we definatly didn’t want to put anything in there just for times sake. We just wanted to make it as cut and dry as possible. But when you’re dealing with big ideas like the big bang, it might get out of hand a little bit! So yeah, we never really look at time length as a direction at all.
So how did you end up working with Joe Barresi, and how did he shape ‘The Stage’? It’s a long, complicated story of how we got him, but I will say that with our dispute with Warner Brothers, we were not able to use Mike Elizondo again, and we found that out just literally a couple of weeks before the record was going to be recorded. So we were kind of stuck. We decided that we were going to do it ourselves, we started booking studio time, and Brooks came to us, and said that we should look at Joe Barresi, who he had done seven Bad Religion records with. He is great. So we looked into Joe, and he was kind of on the fence about doing something that soon, without properly being able to work on the songs at all. So I sent him all of the demos and he basically came back and said “all right, I’m in, this is cool!” His whole thing was all about vibe, so we would just go in there and do a bunch of takes, and that was the record. It was nothing more than that, it was full vocal takes through full songs, which I had never done before. Drum wise, every mic was open. There was no triggering, no samples. No autotune, anything like that. He just said look “all you guys can play, let’s just get takes that we like, and we’re going to leave it at that, that’s just how it’s going to be”, we had tons of dynamic range on the record, which most people don’t have on their records these days, they like to compress it to hell. I think a lot of it had to do with a good team of people that liked organic music, and don’t want to mess it all up.
When it comes to the music, there's a lot of experimentation on this album. So is there maybe something in particular that you did on this album that was really rewarding for you, which you have never done before? Yeah, for me it was, we used a lot of weird notes, things that don’t come naturally to your ear. It’s something that I know is an acquired taste. When I was 15 I used to listen to Superunknown or Faith No More, a lot of those groups that use dissonant notes, I didn’t really understand it as much. But as I’ve grown older, I’ve come to appreciate it. I’ve been able to really incorporate that into my writing style. I know that the other guys have as well. I’m proud of that. We’ve been able to incorporate a whole new outlook on what we think is melodically pleasing. Things like the horns in ‘Sunny Disposition’, they rub against the vocal melody, they rub against the guitar chords. But they do it in a way that I think is tasteful. And I feel like the whole record has stuff like that. I think that’s why the record takes a little longer to appreciate, and let it sink in. But at the same time I feel that’s what adds a lot of originality to it, and a lot of different feelings that we hadn’t really had before, because we weren’t really accustomed to writing like that. I’m proud of that.
This record looks at the future of mankind, and its sort of unpredictability. So for you, what would you really like the overall message to be for listeners? I hope the message overall, is for them to educate themselves on whatever peaks their interest in there. Whether it’s nano technology, or whether it’s just looking at themselves in their life, gaining a new perspective on it. Or whether it���s the class systems, and nuclear war in ‘Sunny Disposition’. There’s a lot of different things that people can take away from it. I just hope that it opens peoples minds a little bit. Maybe we are out here on this planet, and we’re not as important as we think we are, so everyday here is special. I hope they take advantage of it, and can find some beauty in the big question of the universe. Find some beauty in that we’re on this blue planet, sitting out here in the middle of this vastness. I think that’s a pretty cool thing. I don’t think it’s depressing, I think it’s pretty awesome. I hope people take that away from this record.
'Roman Sky' is such a cool track, how did the arrangement come together? We’ve always loved some of that Zepplin style, where they tease the song, have a lot of patience with it, and then have the drums come in at the end to solidify the groove. There’s also a lot of Bowie and Beatles influences in there. When they had to have, in the way the eight tracks were set up, or the way they were recording. You’d have like the vocals in one speaker only, or you’d have, the guitars only in the left, and the strings only in the right. And we did that with this song because we felt it added such a separation, where you were really able to pick things out. We wanted to use left instrumentation, in terms of orchestration. Orchestration instruments. We just felt like it would stand out more. For us, we just wanted to find an arrangement where listen, “if you listen in your left speaker you’re going to find all guitar, and if you listen to your right you’re going to find that you’re going to hear the orchestra, then right up the middle is going to be those vocals. We’re not going to try and, in the second verse throw the drums in, because that’s the most typical thing to do. We’re going to wait until four minutes into the song before we solidify that groove.” So, a lot of thought process went into it, and we just wanted to make it as impact full as possible, and do it in an old school kind of analogue way. I think we did with that.
We've read that you want your live show to be your version of 'The Wall'. So with that, what do you think we can expect from your live approach in 2017? We’d love to do something as extensive as that. With ‘The Wall’ they’re playing just one record, and as well as ‘The Stage’ has been received, we don’t feel like the first tour out should be only ‘The Stage’. So we are going to back off that a little bit, we are going to make a live performance, that makes you feel like you’re in outer space, dealing with AI stuff, then at the same time, we are going to be adding other songs, that people want to hear from other records. So it’s going to be a nice blend, where we are not going to overload you with new stuff, but we are definitely going to be pushing the vibe of the artwork, and the vibe of ‘The Stage’ throughout the whole set. So when you get there, you’re taken into this world, that won’t let you go until the show is over. We thought it would be counter productive to jump back and forth, and say “okay, here’s a song about space, then we are going to throw you into ‘Nightmare’ or ‘Hail to The King’” it just wouldn’t make sense. We’ve worked on something that will really blend all of these worlds together, but with an emphasis on ‘The Stage’.
What else can we expect to see from Avenged Sevenfold in 2017? We have a very cool plan moving forward. This record is going to evolve, that’s always been the plan, we have some very interesting cover songs, and we have another song that didn’t make it onto the record, but we are going to release as time goes on. One song at a time. We are going to do some speciality items with those songs in certain countries, and I know the UK is going to be one of those countries that we specifically point out. I can’t really say what that is yet, because we want it to be a surprise. We are also going to continue to do pop up stores, show up in certain cities, roll in there, maybe play some music, or just show up and do some signings, and then we are also going to do a huge tour of the US that we can’t announce yet, it’s going to be good in the summer. We are looking forward to just kind of unveiling this plan slowly as the year rolls out. We have so much stuff coming out, and so much stuff that we are going to be doing. At the same time, we want it to happen organically.
When did you first get into writing? I’ve always wanted to be a writer, ever since I was a kid. So honestly, I don’t remember a time when I didn’t want to be one.
What did you do before you started work on The Martian? I was a computer programmer for 25 years. And I didn’t quit my job or anything to work on the book. The book was something I did for fun in my spare time. Evenings and weekends, etc.
So, how did the idea for The Martian originally come about, and what was that whole experience like for you at the time? I was imagining a manned Mars mission, putting it together in my mind. Naturally, you have to account for failure scenarios and have plans for what the crew could do. I realized those failure scenarios made for a pretty interesting story. As for the experience, it was pretty fun. I didn’t know it would be so popular so I didn’t take it very seriously. I just had fun with it.
When did you first realize that this was going to be a life changing book? Once it got to the top of Amazon sci-fi lists, I knew I had something unusual.
Is there a major part of the book/film that just wouldn't happen in real life? The storm at the beginning. The atmosphere of Mars is only about 1/200th the density of Earth’s. It does get 150km/h windstorms, but the inertia from the thin atmosphere is so small it would feel like a gentle breeze. So there’s just no way a storm could do that kind of damage. I knew this at the time I wrote it. I had an alternate beginning worked out where an MAV engine test causes an explosion that leads to all the problems, but it just wasn’t as cool. The Martian is a man-vsnature story and I wanted nature to get the first punch in.
Some of the ideas that he comes up with in the book, in regards to how he stays alive are just so in depth and clever. So what was that like, and what would you say was the hardest theory to put together? I really liked making the science as accurate as possible. By far the hardest part was calculating the orbital trajectories that Hermes took during the book, including the “Rich Purnell Maneuver”. That took me weeks to do and included special software I had to write to help me.
You've said that "astronauts are unbelievably professional.” and just wouldn't have this tension that some films/books normally give to these characters. So what was it like to create the crew, and how would you say their relationship compares to any other crew in the sci-fi world? The core components of the Ares 3 crew is camaraderie and discipline. They care about each other enormously and will risk their lives for each other without hesitation. And they all have 100% faith in Commander Lewis. At all times, they obey her orders instantly and without question. Not because they fear retribution, but because they respect and trust her that much.
So, when did you find out that it was going to be turned into a motion picture film starring Matt Damon, and what do you remember the most from that moment? It wasn’t a single moment. It was a bit by bit kind of thing. Fox bought the film rights. Then they had Drew Goddard write the screenplay. Then nothing happened for months. Then Matt expressed interest in playing the lead. Then nothing happened for a month. Then they got Ridley on board to direct. Things started to fall into place pretty quickly from there.
What was it like to meet Matt Damon & Ridley Scott themselves, and how rewarding was it for you to talk about what you had created with these guys? It was awesome! Matt is a quiet kind of guy — polite to everyone. I get the impression he’s kind of an introvert and would rather be at home with his family. Ridley is a pretty funny guy, with that British wit. He’s got a very low, quiet voice and a thick UK accent. So he’s hard to understand at times.
You didn't have much input with the film itself, but we read they sent you the screenplay to see what you thought. So what was that like, and was there anything you wanted to change when you first read it? Mostly my job was just to cash the check. Though they did send me the screenplay to get my opinion. They weren't required to listen to anything I had to say. They kept me updated on the production because they’re cool. And in the end, the film is very true to the book, so I'm happy.
We've read that Mark Watney is "who you wish you were" however, he is still clever in the same vein as you. So in what ways would you say Watney is different to you? For starters, he’s much better at dealing with adversity and problems than I am. I have anxiety issues and tend to get very upset at minor issues. If I were fighting for my life like Mark was, I don’t think I’d have the emotional fortitude to get through.
Do you think humans will eventually colonize Mars? If so, what would be the benefits of that for our race? I think the key to space travel is for it to be economically viable. Until that happens, no one will be willing to do it. Once the cost of getting to low Earth orbit is pressed down far enough, then we will absolutely colonize Mars.
How did the idea for The Egg come together, and can you tell us a bit about it? It was just a story idea I came up with. I wrote the whole thing in 40 minutes and posted it immediately after one editing pass. I never imagined it would be a big deal.
What else can we expect to see from you in 2017? I'm working on my next book now. It’s about a city on the Moon. It’s another hard sci-fi novel where everything is accurate to real-world physics. The main character is a woman who is a low-level criminal. I hope to have it out by mid 2017.
So how did you first get into writing and illustration? I've always been into creating my own stories and drawing pictures. I've probably written stories for almost as long as I've been reading and I started drawing the day I first grabbed a pencil and saw that I could make marks with it. My mom and sisters remember me drawing pictures when I was two-years-old. I think that the spark for me to be an illustrator was first ignited by a teacher whom I had in first or second grade. She would play these Disney story albums and have us imagine what was going on while we were listening to the stories, then draw the scenes we were seeing in our heads. She always seemed to love what I was doing and gave me a lot of encouragement. Similarly, my mom would give me a paper and pencil to keep me quiet in church. My dad was a Baptist minister, so mom would have me draw whatever dad was preaching about. Samson and the Prophet Elijah were favorite subjects of mine. Otherwise, I'd try to sneak in a few sketches of race cars or cowboys when mom wasn't looking.
What was your first major project, and can you tell us what you remember the most from that experience? Wow, that's actually kind of a tough one, because I had so many experiences early in my career that were really personally monumental, if not "major" in the historical scheme of things. The project that was the first for me emotionally was a little job I did for a magazine called Weird Worlds for Scholastic Publishing while I was still a student at the Joe Kubert School in New Jersey. It was written by a young author named Bob Stine, who later was known as R.L. Stine, writer of the best selling Goosebumps children's books series. But my first work as a pro, after I'd graduated, was a cover painting that I did of a spaceman for a magazine that SPI games in New York published, Mars. It was horrible! I was working from a sketch that the art director provided. The thing I remember most is the fact that I realized how much I had to learn as a painter at that point! I was so bad! I was far more comfortable with black and white work. A year or so later, my insecurities were only reinforced after I became part of the art staff at TSR Hobbies/Dungeons & Dragons and was working in a studio environment every day with such phenomenal painters as Jeff Easley, Larry Elmore, Clyde Caldwell and my very dear friend Keith Parkinson. I pretty much gave up fiddling with acrylics or oil paints and dedicated myself to pen, red sable brushes, bristol board and india ink. It took me years and years to discover my painting technique.
Can you tell us how the role playing game Rifts Dimension Book 1: Wormwood came together as well as what it was like to work on? The Rifts work came several years after I'd quit role playing games and had gotten into comic book work full time. Someone remembered my work with TSR and asked me to come up with a characters and concepts which they would, in turn, flesh out into an expansion module for the Rifts game series. It was a cooperative thing. Pretty fun, as I recall. Not a major undertaking, but kind of an interesting little side-step-- something that seemed like an interesting thing to try to do. I gave my pal Flint Henry a call to help me out with that. He had such a wild imagination and I knew he'd be perfect for the job. I came up with the concepts and characters. Flint and I split up the character designs. I'd always wanted to integrate comics into role playing games as part of a module-- something that TSR had always resisted, for some reason, but which the Rifts folks were very receptive to. I thought it would be a perfect and logical way to walk gamers through scenarios, visually. This project gave me the opportunity to investigate that. So I wrote a little story -- nothing really groundbreaking, admittedly. I think I did some rough layout work, Flint did the penciling and I did the inking. If I remember correctly we also did some single interior illustrations. Sorry, but I don't have a copy of that around anymore to refresh my memory. Hard to believe it was so many years ago.
From 2005 until last year, you were also one of the main writers for Dark Horse Comics' Conan books. Can you tell us how that came about and how it compares to anything you've done before? I'd been a Conan fan since I was a kid. Robert E. Howard, Conan's creator, has always been one of my favorite writers. When I learned that Dark horse had landed the license for the character, I'd originally called them about doing covers or whatever. As a result they asked me to do art for the Conan: Songs of the Dead miniseries with my old friend & frequent collaborator, author Joe R. Lansdale. That led to my doing some very rushed artwork for a few fill-in issues for the ongoing Conan title that writer Kurt Busiak was doing. While we were working together, I guess Kurt was impressed with how much I knew about the character. So when he decided to give up writing the title, he suggested that I be the one to take it over. It was a dream come true for me. Later on, Dark Horse wanted to try something different with the main title but still wanted me to stay a part of the franchise. So I became writer for the King Conan miniseries titles. Artist Tomas Giorello and I both think that we did an even better job with those. We're really proud of the King Conan stuff and won several awards for that work. In 2013 I was Guest of Honor at the annual Robert E. Howard Days Convention at his home in Cross Plains, Texas. Sentimentally, it was truly one of the high points of my career. The Conan work differed from my other work mainly due to the fact that it was the longest period that I've ever been affiliated with a single character, believe it or not! I've worked on so many comics titles over the years, but almost all of them-- even my creator owned stuff like Scout and Wilderness -- have been special projects -miniseries, graphic novels and the like. So as a result, it's been rather startling to realize that I had to make a mental adjustment to re-sync with my own "voice" as a writer! I've had Robert E. Howard's meter and syntax and way of stringing words together in my brain for 10 years! It's not really been a problem-- in truth, most of my post - Conan projects have been more art - than prose - oriented. But it was pretty interesting at first.
How was Grimjack created, and can you give us a couple of personal highlights from working on this classic comic book series? When I was working at TSR in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin, some friends asked me if I wanted to go with them to check out one of the comic conventions that happened one Sunday every month in nearby Chicago. Lately, a young indy comics publisher called First Comics had been showing up there, so I decided to bring along my portfolio. I had a few comics pages from my Kubert School days in there as well as a bunch of black and white fantasy and science fiction illustrations that I'd been doing for TSR which I borrowed from their files for the day. I found First Comics' table & showed my work to editor Mike Gold and art director Joe Staton. It was really cool meeting Joe, because I was a huge fan of his work from his Charlton Comics days. Anyway, they paged through all these pics of swordsmen and sci-fi mercenaries that I'd been doing, sort of looked at each other and grinned, asked for my contact info and said they had a new project in mind that I might be perfect for. A couple of days later I got a call from them in my boss's office at TSR, asking if I'd be interested in taking a look at a story proposal and working up some art samples for a science fiction mercenary character named Grimjack. I told them "sure." When I got the proposal, I loved it. The design for the character jumped into my head full-blown and I drew it all in one pass. The character just flowed from me very naturally -- easiest thing that I'd ever done. I did a sample page of continuity, same thing. Sent the samples off to First and and few days later I had a job offer from them. It was a really fortunate series of events -- exactly the perfect character for exactly the perfect guy, done with the perfect collaborator (writer John Ostrander) at exactly the perfect time. I suppose that's why your question above about my first "major" assignment was a little tough for me. I'd gotten a bit of attention with my role playing game illustrations, because my sense of design was so different for that field at the time, but Grimjack was really the project that "made" me. Working on the title was the beginning of my comics career. The character started as a backup series but became so popular with fans and the publishers themselves that he was almost immediately given his own title. The old boy became an overnight star and ended up influencing not only comics but the science fiction "cyberpunk" genre as well. The highlight, of course, was meeting and working with John Ostrander. We were a match made in heaven. He's one of my favorite collaborators and a true friend. A brother and a part of our family, in every way.
How did the idea for the science fiction comic series, Scout originally come together, and what did you enjoy the most about creating for this Apache Native American character? My major influences were European comics and American Underground comics -- work that was creator-owned and usually driven by the the art and writing of a single person -- Hugo Pratt, Spain Rodriguez, Jean Giraud, Phillipe Druillett, Jack Jackson, Victor de la Fuente, Richard Corben, Robert Crumb, George Metzger and folks like that. As much as I loved working with John Ostrander, I'd always been as interested in writing as I'd been with drawing. After a couple of years of working with First I started getting the itch to create my own character and handle everything from the ground-up -- covers, story, pencils, inks, everything I could. I'd gone to visit my friend, comic book artist Thomas Yeates, in California, and while I was there we were invited to have dinner at the home of Dean Mullaney and Cat Yronwode, who owned Eclipse Comics. Dean, Cat and I hit it off great. I really admired what they were doing with Eclipse. Sabre, a comic by Don McGregor and Paul Gulacy which Eclipse had published, is my favorite comic of all time, hands down. And frankly, unlike First, Eclipse were an indy publisher who really walked-their-talk insofar as creator rights were concerned. If you published something with Eclipse, you retained full ownership of your character and work, no smoke and mirrors, strings attached. They invited me to submit something to them and the time seemed right. I'd been formulating the basic concept for my Scout character for quite sometime. I come from a long line of union labor folks, I've always had a leftist populist streak, and it was the height of the Reagan era. There were certain industrial trends and social policies going on that were really concerning me. I started speculating what might happen if certain trends continued and came up with this dystopian narrative. Because my family has Southeastern Native tribal roots, I've always had an interest in Indigenous culture, current affairs and history, and at the time I'd been following what had been happening in the American Indian Movement and doing a lot of research about Southwestern cultures, especially the Apache and Navajo. Anyway, Cat and Dean's offer gave me the excuse I needed to get off my ass and put a concept together. Within a week, I had it all worked out and ready to go. I sent the pitch to Cat and Dean and, luckily, they really loved it. If TSR was my prep school and First was finishing school, then Eclipse was my post grad program. Working on the Scout books and the other projects I did for them was a really intense creative period and focused my creative vision. It's hard to look at the artwork from those days now. Man, I was really bashing out those pages- covers, stories, and interior art, every month, never missing a deadline. Plus, while I was working on the second miniseries, Scout: War Shaman, I was honcho-ing the 4Winds imprint for them as well, so I was also doing concepts, editing, drawing occasional stories and covers... Wow. When I look back on it now, it's unimaginable. Still, out of everything that I've done, Scout is probably the thing I'm proudest of. The character broke new ground. And the fact that it was and remains so well-regarded by Native American readers is something that I truly consider to be the greatest accomplishment of my career. Now, my son Benjamin and I have just started work on a brand new Scout series, Scout: Marauder -- the story of Scout's sons, Tahzey and Victorio. When readers last saw them in Scout: War Shaman, they were small children, and they were split up after their father was killed. Now they're teenagers. Marauder tells the story of what happens when they're reunited. I think I'm even more excited about it than I was the original series. Ben and I are co-writing the story, Ben is doing the script and I'm drawing the book. I love working with him -- he's truly one of my favorite collaborators, right up there with John Ostrander and Joe R. Lansdale. Anyway, we're currently negotiating with a publisher to produce the new series plus what looks like two big omnibus editions that would reprint all the original Scout and Scout: War Shaman material in its entirety for the first time.
Also, Scout is heading for the movie world! So how excited are you for that, and what do you want to see from that version? Well, it's optioned, but the producers are major players, are giving it a lot of "push", and have already assigned a good writer/director, so fingers crossed. A lot of producers have approached me over the years. Native American novelist Sherman Alexi was even attached to a film treatment at one point. However, the people who approached me were usually typical Hollywood folks who would always find reasons to argue with me about my desire for a Native American to play the title role. You wouldn't believe the outright racism I've encountered through the years from supposedly "liberal" filmmakers. Native actors and creative people aren't the least surprised by it, of course, but I've heard some really unbelievable comments during phone conversations with producers over the years.
However, when Jon Silk and Braden Aftergood at Studio 8 contacted me about Scout, they immediately "got" it. From day one, they seemed to be intent on doing the right thing. Plus Jon knows Scout inside and out-he's been a fan since he was a teenager. And I really like writer/director Chris MacBride. We've had some great conversations and really seem to be on the same wavelength. He's an extremely smart, imaginative, well-informed, talented guy who welcomes my input. At the same time, I try to respect his own artistry and give him some room to move. He's had some great ideas. He's already made a research trip to Arizona, to get a feel for the country and speak with people on Apache reservations and has settled down to start on his first draft of the script. Without giving too much away, it looks like the studio is approaching the Scout movie as the first of a series of films, so I'm really eager to see what Chris comes up with. I have to admit, though, I'm still a bit terrified. Of all the characters I've ever created, I'm the most paternalistic about Scout. Creating that character is probably my landmark achievement. I'm proud of everything I've ever done, but, early and primitive as they were, if the Scout comics were the only creative projects that I'd ever have put on paper, they probably would have been enough.
What was it like to work on Turok: Dinosaur Hunter, and how did it compare to anything else you had done before? Actually, they'd approached me several times to work on the book and I'd resisted it. For some reason, I felt a little weird about getting pigeon-holed as comics' go-to "Indian guy". Also, while I really enjoyed the originaI Gold Key Turok books when I was a kid, I didn't feel good about portraying a Native character in a modern setting with fringes and feathers. It's just a really bad stereotype to help propagate. But once I thought about things I could do with the Andar character -- making him a modern, jeans-wearing indigenous kid who'd been disenfranchised from his roots -- a concept started coming together for me, so I agreed to take a stab at it. As it turned out, I had a lot of fun. Getting the chance to write stories for Paul Gulacy, one of my biggest artistic influences, was the icing on the cake. And later in the series, working with artist Rags Morales on the book was really fantastic. He was absolutely amazing -- one of the best artists I've ever had the pleasure of working with.
More recently you worked on Convergence: Hawkman, so what was that like for you, and what's it like to work on a character like Hawkman? It was fun to revisit the character, for sure. The best part was working with Quique Alcatena again. That was our two-night reunion gig, you know? I thought my work was a little stiff, though. I'm really, really horrible at drawing super heroes. I always fail miserably at it. And I was disappointed that the old 1970s Jack Kirby post apocalyptic character Kamandi didn't show up! When they'd originally approached me, the editor had told me that Kamandi was supposed to be part of the mix! He's one of the few comic characters I've ever wanted to draw. Timmy sad.
Can you tell us how much being a musician has impacted your work in the comic book world? Oh, a lot, I think. Most guys in my field collect comics and geek out on various characters, but I've always collected CDs and albums and musical instruments and geek out on guitar players, songwriters, bands, producers, studios, vintage guitar gear what have you. I think that music informed a lot of my work politically. Lyrics influenced my writing poetically. The Scout and Scout: War Shaman story titles were always blues titles. I think of song structures sometimes when planning panel arrangements and scenes -- think of particular songs as I lay things out on paper, using the music like soundtracks in a movie. Until recently, I always had music going on in the background whenever I was drawing. (I have a smaller studio now, though, and music tends to bother me, for some reason.) And whenever I need to take a break, or when I'm having trouble with a page or a story, I'll pull out a guitar and improvise for 10-30 minutes. I purchased a Digitech Trio+ last year that I'm really having fun with-- you play chords and it adds both a corresponding drum beat and bass pattern to what you were playing. Really amazing tool for practicing, like having an instant band. I found out years ago that playing puts you into sort of a zero-state where you're not thinking of anything else... a mental reboot. Sometimes that's all you need to refresh yourself. Plus, now that I'm almost 61 years old, I find that it really helps to keep my fingers limber. Being a musician also came in very handy when I started doing so much work with the Grateful Dead. They really loved the fact that I knew how to draw guitars! It's kind of a rarity in the comics and illustration filelds! Not many guys know their way around 1930s National Duolian or know that Jerry often played a Stratocaster or Gibson SG in the early '70s. But like I say, I'm a geek for that stuff.
Alternatively, what's the most rewarding part about what you do, and why? These days, being able to look at a piece of artwork I've done and actually being able to say to myself "Hey, that's not bad." I'm proud of the work I've done over the years, but at the same time I've always been incredibly self-critical and insecure about my artwork. Like I said above, I really developed some bad habits early on and sort of became a "speed guy". Plus, like I said above, I'm 98th percentile ADHD, which didn't help. Before my diagnosis in 1996, it was simply very hard for me to stick to one page for very long. I wanted my work to look like Kaluta, Wrightson or Moebius but I only had the concentration of Spain Rodriguez or Hugo Pratt. However, as I get older, I take more time with the work. My illustration is starting to have the qualities that I wish I'd seen developing when I was in my late 30s. But that's cool. It keeps things fresh. It makes Facebook fun. People often remark that my work seems to get better as I get older. That's not often the case in my field, sadly. Another thing that's been really rewarding is getting into digital painting. I've still been doing all the finished inking for my comics and tight under-drawing for my illustrations tradition-style, on 2 or 3 ply bristol board, then scanning it. But a year or two ago I bought a Yiynova drawing monitor and some painting programs and just dove in head first. I love it. I read a lot of interviews with guys from my generation who seem to shy away from doing stuff digitally, but for me it's been really exciting. I love the digital realm -- scanning, painting, editing, composing, working with modeling programs, the whole bit. It would be hard to give up inking on paper, though. The feel of a pen or brush on bristol board is like the heart and soul of it for me.
What else can we expect to see from you as we head towards 2017? The Grateful Dead asked me to do the A - and B-side cover sleeves for the first release in a new, limited edition 7" vinyl single project they're doing. I just completed the illustrations for those. Over the winter, I did illustrations for a childrens' book version of Beowulf for Learning A-Z Publishing in Tucson which will be out in June. I'll continue to act as consultant on the Scout film. The thing I'm probably most excited about, though, is the Scout: Marauder project that Ben and I are working on. When Ben and I did A Man Named Hawken a few years ago, I realized how many years it had been since I'd cut lose on a creator owned project. I've done a ton of illustration work for books and record companies in recent years, but as far as comic book work goes I've spent too many years working on other people's properties. Hawken really woke me up. It was such a liberating experience and it was so much fun to work with Ben. So now, I just want to jump back into doing my own stuff. I'm really looking forward to concentrating on visual storytelling again with Scout: Marauder. It's been too long. People have been waiting far too long and the time is right.
When did you first get into writing? I've always wanted to be a storyteller, even if I didn't always know what form that would take. In school I dabbled in everything from poetry to screenplays, but I didn't try my hand at full-length fiction until I was in college. And then, I was hooked.
What was your first major project, and what do you remember the most from this process? The first book I ever wrote was awful. It had lovely prose (thanks to my background in poetry) but zero plot. The writing was enough to get me my first agent, and it even went to acquisitions at publishers four times, but in the end it never sold. Over the course of the process, I learned as much about craft and revision as I did about rejection. It really thickened my skin and tested my resolve to stay in the game, and to improve.
So, when did you come up with the idea for Vicious, and can you tell us a bit about what you remember from that moment? I studied archetypes in college, and was really drawn to the notion of the anti-hero, and the idea of labels (i.e. Hero, Villain). I wanted to play with a project where the labels were totally arbitrary. I also wanted to see if I could write a book full of bad people, and make you root for at least one of them.
For those that haven't read it just yet, then can you tell us a bit about the main narrative to the book? Two pre-med students discover the key to superpowers are near-death experiences, and set out to manufacture their own abilities using their own deaths and resurrections. It all goes terribly wrong. The book opens 10 years later, when one is breaking out of prison, and the other is on a rampage, killing every superpowered person they can find.
The books sees characters discovering superhero powers upon surviving near-death experiences. So what was this approach to becoming a superhero like to work on, and how would you say it is different to any other story in the same vein out there? It was a blast--mainly because I'm continually fascinated by creative ways to kill my characters. Plus, I wanted to treat VICIOUS as a kind of comic book without pictures, so I treated those near-death experiences as the origin story. In VICIOUS, the nature of the near-death experience itself, paired with the character's mental state in that moment, shape their abilities. A man freezing to death might come back with the ability to set himself on fire, because all he wanted was to be warm.
So how did the idea for This Savage Song come together, and how would you say this book compares to anything else you've done before? It was born during the first chapters of a violent time in the US. Like so many, I would see these shootings, and stabbings, and abuses of power, this terrible cycle, and think, how does nothing change? And from there I began to wonder what our world would look like if there were a concrete aftermath to that much violence, hence the monsters in TSS, who are all born of violent acts. It's one of my darker books, definitely, and also the most grounded/realistic, strange as that seems.
Where did you find influence for the monsters that are in the book, and what was the most challenging part about creating them? I wanted to create a gradation of monster, and also twist the classic archetypes of demon, vampire, angel. The most challenging part was breathing individuality into what could have easily been a faceless force.
What did you enjoy the most about putting This Savage Song together, and why? Books are like puzzles, so for me, the satisfaction comes at the beginning--the dumping of all the pieces onto the table--and the end, when it's finally come together, despite all odds.
What can we expect to see from Our Dark Duet, and what has that been like to work on? In many ways, THIS SAVAGE SONG is the origin story for Kate and August, and OUR DARK DUET is the result. Beyond that, spoilers. But it's been scary, and sad, and hard, and hopeful to work on. I just really hope the readers come away satisfied.
You are also working on Shades of Magic. So how did that idea originally come together, and can you tell us a bit about the narrative that runs throughout the books? I gather pieces of a story over long periods of time until they come together to form something more. Shades of Magic was like that--it took a long time, and then it didn't. I always write about doors in my books, but often they're metaphorical; this time I wanted them to be real. I wanted to play with magic. The blueprints for the Londons in the book are identical, and yet the resulting places are so different because they are shaped by their interaction with magic. I also wanted to play--as I always do--with the notion of outside and insider, what it feels like to be out of place, even in your own world.
What did you enjoy the most about creating the character Kell, and how would you say he compares to any other character you have created? I adore Kell. As much as I want to be Lila, I know that I'm Kell. He's unique in that he truly cares, he wants to belong, to be loved, to feel at home in his skin and his world.
What is it like to actually see a character in a book grow/progress as it goes on. I mean do you know well in advance where a character will go, or do the ideas for that sometimes come out of nowhere? I know the end of every story before I start. Sure, the characters surprise me along the way, but I have to know where they end up, to know how they should begin.
What else can we expect to see from you in 2017? In addition to A Conjuring of Light and Our Dark Duet and a short story in the Because You Love to Hate Me anthology (I write about Death)? Nothing. I plan to take a nap. And then get back to work.
Lamb of God - The Duke EP American groove metallers from Richmond, Virginia. Forming back in 1994, Lamb of God have been going for over two decades, and in that time they have had many accolades, including a number of Grammy nominations, showing their impact in the metal scene. They have to date released eight albums, including a live record and now with their new EP release they offer something very heartfelt and personal… ‘The Duke’ EP is to pay tribute to Wayne Alan Ford, a friend of the band who sadly passed away from cancer. Wayne was diagnosed with leukaemia in 2010 and spent years battling it up until his passing in 2015. Front-man Randy Blythe was inspired by their friendship and wrote the song ‘The Duke’ during the writing sessions for their seventh album, 2015’s ‘VII: Sturm und Drang’. The band decided they would rather do it as a standalone release. The opening song is the title track, ‘The Duke’ which immediately initiates a solid groove, with melodic vocals, and thought provoking lyrics, that are evidently about their departed friend. Front-man Randy Blythe, said that the lyrics for the song arose from actual conversations he and Wayne had, as well as Wayne’s wife and some of just Randy’s own thoughts. This is powerful both musically and lyrically, with Impressive and polished guitar-work driving it throughout. Next up is the ‘Culling’ which with its fresh feel gets straight to it with fast guitar licks, sharp vocal bursts, and stomping riffs. This is one heavy slab of metal that is as hard as bone. To finish up the EP we have some live versions of songs from the ‘VII: Sturm und Drang’ album, ‘Still Echoes’ at Rock AM Ring, which demonstrate the bands tight performances. ‘512’ live from Bonnaroo is crushing and demanding and helps show how well the song translates live and the crowd responses which flows nicely into the second live song from the same set, making you feel like you were actually present with ‘Engage The Fear Machine’ which is wild and has the crowd eager. With the adrenaline running high it’s time to end this emotional and thrilling journey. This release acts as a brilliant tribute to their friend. CL
TesseracT - Errai For those familiar with TesseracT’s style of music before, Errai has a unique atmosphere. The songs here are reimagining of songs off of their previous full length Polaris. Gone are the predominant choppy, heavy guitar riffs. Instead we find the band finding a way to incorporate more atmosphere into their music, with more acoustic dynamics taking the forefront. “Survival” is perhaps one of the largest changes in the sonic palette, with more of a focus on the vocals dancing on the patterns utilizes by the group. The drums still have very rhythmic, atypical structures, but like this song, Errai plays more like an ensemble with an ear for harmony even in the discord of the syncopation. It’s not that all the distortion has been left out, it’s the fact that band feels they can use it more sparingly and still have ear shattering changes in ambiance with a more clever approach in their sound. “Seven Names” plays more like a rock ballad with a beaming, emotional solo then the aggressive end it has on Polaris. For a band as talented as TesseracT, this is just another slew of songs that show their depth and understanding to how they can approach creativity. SG
Trivium - Ember To Inferno : Ab Inition (Deluxe) Massive Florida metallers re-release special debut album which was first released in 2003 and then went on to become a rarity as it was hard to find, so the band treated fans to a remastered version of their successful debut that helped shaped the band they are today. It comes complete with new artwork along with a deluxe edition that includes 13 additional tracks that have never been available yet, which have earned a revered status amongst true Trivium fans. The re-lease comes in four configurations, with the deluxe editions containing the band's early demos ‘Ruber’ (a.k.a. the Red Demo), ‘Caeruleus’ (a.k.a. the Blue Demo) and ‘Flavus’ (a.k.a. the Yellow Demo). Front-man/guitarist Matt Heafy stated: "The purpose of this release is to show the very early beginnings of Trivium — perhaps an era unbeknownst to most listeners of the band”. The debut was the starting point of their worldwide recognised success today. First proper track, ‘Pillars Of Serpents’ gets off to a blistering start, with harsh screams and fast dark riffage throughout, a relentless initial offering. ‘If I Could Collapse The Masses’ is extremely melodic, and is a nice medium between their early origins as well as elements of their sound today, making it a stand out track. ‘To Burn The Eye’ features some kick ass evil complex riffs, which are thrown around in large measures for the album’s entirety. Title track, ‘Ember To Inferno’ surges with urgency making an instant impact that is maintained throughout, especially with a clean melodic chorus that is highly memorable and acts perfectly as the representative song. The last proper original album track number 12, ‘When All Light Dies’ has a dark looming ominous presence which has you drawn in and head banging immediately with fierce anguished vocals from Heafy. Again it features a clean melodic chorus, which you come to crave from the band, as they pull this off so well, the balance between “light” and dark. The end half especially rampages with soaring solo/lead guitars, before trailing into an defiant melodic instrumental section which carries on and escalates into the next song, ‘A View Of Burning Empires’, which is beautiful and sorrowful, a great ending before we dive into 13 extra new demo version songs.
The first demo is ‘Pain’ which is actually the longest song featured on the entire album. It quickly shows off the talented guitar work from both Heavy and Cory Beaulieu in an epic fashion with reverb effects making it sound even more consuming, before the vocals kick in two minutes in in short pissed burst and have a very raw and straight forward approach. In contrast the shortest demo, ‘Demon’ crashes and charges like it’s going into battle with interesting and impactful rhythms and tempo changes to keep you guessing. The variation and composition is extremely well crafted and again is easily comparable and bridges the gap between their early and present material. Closing song, ‘The Deceived’ (demo) is brimming with complex riffs and pounding drums to accompany Heafy’s belligerent and powerful screams, which are also complimented by his clean vocals in contrast, making it highly memorable, with all this adding up to an unbeatable metal equation that Trivium have always and since taken to a new level. This is a brilliant collection of classic rooted metal with all the modern twists. It’s great to go back to the beginning for a metal band that have come so far since their formation, nearly two decades ago. This is a privilege to listen to. You can hear the progression and how these early tracks stand alone on their own, as they went on to help craft what they are today. CL
cd reviews AFI – The Blood Album Punk veterans show they can still make impact with thrilling and anticipated tenth album titled, AFI (The Blood Album) which is the first release through Concord Records. This multi-platinum-selling US quartet have come a long way since their formation, over two decades ago and now they are back to strike again with a new inventive sound. The album was produced by Jade Puget and co-produced by Matt Hyde (Deftones) and is the follow-up to 2013’s ‘Burials’, which hit Top 10 on The Billboard 200. The album release includes four limited vinyl colour options matching the four blood types (A | O | B | AB). Which is a brilliant concept. Are the results positive or negative? Opener, ‘Dark Snow’ is very ambient and bouncy, with great melodies and textures aided by the electronic/synth emphasis, adding more depth and giving it a big presence. This is a great introduction to the band’s new inspired and refreshing sound and certainly leaves you eager to hear more. Next up, ‘Still A Stranger’ possesses an urgency with fast instruments and a heavier vibe with more harsh vocals, but has an air of excitement carrying it, making it very changeable. The big chorus with gang vocals pack a pleasant punch, which will go down well in a live environment. It is very dynamic and short, making a lasting impact. ‘Aurelia’ slows things down a bit with a more pessimistic vibe which help highlight Davey Havok’s endless varied vocal capabilities. Again it has a huge chorus that soars with an upbeat vibe driving it, colliding with light and dark tones. ‘So Beneath You’ is a blast – this stands out with loud melodies and very strong rhythms and fiery vocals and another powerful chorus, that by now you come to expect, and luckily we are never let down. This is a straight up rock anthem. First single, ‘Snow Cats’ is slower paced but is immense and very catchy, making a great single choice to represent the new sound, being all surrounding and captivating. ‘Dumb Kids’ changes things up again, being a great fun song that is anthemic, which you can imagine being a big singalong live. ‘White Offerings’ takes us back to a fiercer sound with extremely tuneful instruments – perfect balance of old and new so we can see why it was released as the second single. Closing song, ‘The Wind That Carries Me Away’ has a completely different chilled vibe, which is striking especially with stripped back parts that help Davey’s vocals shine, and sweet tuneful guitar licks. The beautiful exotic ambience “carries” it far and helps to give it a far reaching sound. They say blood runs deep and the band really take this to heart – as there is so much musical depth and texture displayed throughout the album. The use of electronics help give it a sonic all empowering sound, whether it be in the form of slower burning songs such as ‘Aurelia’ or in your face high impact numbers, ‘White Offerings’. The ebb and flow between the pace and sound is pristine and well crafted, like a continuous wave that crashes and glides. For a band that have been going for so long they have clearly demonstrated that they are full of creativity and have found the perfect ground between their old punk roots to something fresh and innovative. This should appease old diehard fans and without a doubt will earn them new ones. CL
Better Than Never - Head Under Water This is one of those check your brain at the door, don’t over analyse it and just enjoy it EPs, when you see the opener ‘126’ is just over a minute long you’d think it is just an intro track but they manage to cram a full blown track in there, how they did it I have no idea but it is great! From there it is a straight jump into ‘Learning to Swim’ which allows itself a bit of time (not heard compared to the opener) to grow and it makes for top class party punk, fast, melodic and just brilliant listening, ideal driving music. Through the other three tracks, well it’s much the same with their own little stamps to make them unique to the other. It’s the simplicity of songs like these that really grab me, when so much music nowadays is crammed with different sections, key and time changes, these keep it so you can just listen and enjoy without having to be a rocket scientist to take it all in. Although ‘Forty Eight’ does take a very different route with its opening! Take nothing away though, it isn’t easy to do and these boys smash it. They have an EP that is enjoyable and more than that, it’s really good! AN
Matt Pryor - Memento Mori Matt Pryor best known as the main singer-songwriter for The Get Up Kids has a vast musical array of projects and now he is releasing his fifth solo album, ‘Memento Mori’ via Equal Vision Records/Rory Records. In his solo efforts he explores his skilful acoustic songwriting with an indie rock emo flare and a touch of folk to add to intrigue. First song, ‘Mary’ opens with a nice yet sorrowful acoustic intro, it is emotive and very tuneful and shows Matt’s pleasant and easy to listen to vocal tones. This is beautiful, powerful and vulnerable, making a great start to the album and sets the scene for what’s to come. Single ‘A Small Explosion’ is ambient and deep musically and lyrically. The big melodies wash over you and put you into a reflective and thought provoking mood. Although it has explosion in the title name, it is massively soothing. ‘Sidney’ has a country style southern vibe giving it a hopeful sound, although the actual vocals seem rather bleak at times, but work well in contrast. ‘I Won’t Be Afraid’ is one of the more positive upbeat songs, making it highly enjoyable, especially with a jaunty guitar solo. ‘Stay’ is probably the most emotive and heartfelt song featured with lyrics such as “Goodbye it’s just too hard to say, tonight there is no more pain”, paired with delicate guitars and beautiful female vocals to compliment against Matt’s. Closing song, ‘Virginia’ is calming and even more stripped back and peaceful. It feels like it ends on a very reflective and personal note which is a fitting way to wrap up this album. This release is the perfect wind down album, to just sit back and relax, reflect and ponder life and go on a journey or road trip, but ultimately arrive in the comfort of your own home. It is well crafted and composed and feels very cathartic upon listening. Matt has put his heart and soul into this latest offering, and we are lucky to be able to hear this laid bare for all. CL
Workhorse III - Closer To Relevance Straight and to the bones is Workhorse III’s ‘Closer To Relevance’. It’s punk mixed with a style of thrash rock to keep the heart rate amplified and the beats per minute as fast as possible. It’s this kind of power that helps songs like ‘Life Of Crime’ and the title track feel raw and gritty. This album takes about everything that went right with the 80s and puts it into a modern, yet vintage sounding record that spits nothing but fire. The vocals have a couple of distinct styles, with a raspy yell taking some songs, and it becoming a high pitched operatic belt in others. The mix can feel a bit muddy, even damp with how much is happening at once, but overall the project brings home a classic feel that is sure to gain the attention of many. There’s an extreme charm in the track ‘When I’m Gone’, which bursts with a pop influence in the bouncy melodies. For Workhorse III, this record rings like a band striving to make the exact music they want, for themselves and for their own fun. At the same time, the song ‘Nothin’ From Me’ has such a feel good groove it feels it is coming from the banks of a river, sludgy with riffs that make their own waves. What ‘Closer To Relevance’ perfects is a band being honest and expressing when they are fed up with anything but their music. SG
Proll Guns - Horseflesh BBQ Proll Guns hailing from Austria formed in 2012 and describe themselves as western thrash ‘n’ roll in true Texas cowboy style and fashion. Their unique blend of sounds creates a hell of a live show, pairing hard rock riffs and fierce growls with Western roots running through it to ensure that they win in any show down… Opening song ‘Texas Banjo Massacre’ is a great suspenseful and atmospheric instrumental to wet the appetite, and is certainly a bizarre way to kick off that leaves you bemused but highly intrigued to stick around… Comical title track, ‘Horseflesh BBQ’ hits hard and fast, in this humorous heavy madness with lines such as “alone in the dessert, I got nothing to eat, I smell like shit, I need fucking meat”! It takes the saying “I’m so hungry I could eat a horse” to a literal sense, and for its in your face and melodic delivery, this will get seared into your head. “From Texas To Hell” takes a more chilled back approach initially before all hell breaks loose with gnarly screams, crashing drums and melodic riffs. It smashes it with catchy hooks and southern hard as nails charm. ‘The Revolver’ features nice effects and instrumental parts, with an air of madness you now expect. It is slower paced than previous tracks, but with doom thrash vibes and a classic typical “yeeeehaw” for good measure. This is a great chug heavy anthem, which has everything you would need and more. Closing song, “Southern Slavery” is actually the most bare bones, stripped back track but highly effective nonetheless. Helping to demonstrate isolation and despair in an atmospheric manner, especially with dark vocals and a distant fading ambience. Not the ending you might expect, but even better for it. This album at times is just crazy western rooted metal that makes you chuckle, but this is also seriously wellstructured and talented metal that has a serious and deep side. This was a joy to listen to and will certainly stick with you. There aren’t enough heavy hitting western thrash ‘n’ roll bands around, but luckily there is Proll Guns and this is all you need to fulfil your Texas chainsaw massacre banjo induced music. What a hell of a ride and feast they deliver! CL
Arcane Roots - Curtains (single review) Alternative rock trio from Kingston Upon Thames are always full of surprises and have been since their formation in 2007, with their progressive indie rock meets math rock blend, and have been impressing fans and press alike. They have to date only released their debut album, ‘Blood & Chemistry’ in 2013 which went down a storm, but they also unleashed EP’s and singles to tide us over for their anticipated sophomore release. So to give us a potential taste of what their next release will sound like, latest single ‘Curtains’ may just be the unveiling of this… The new single, starts with and maintains largely throughout, isolated high pitched vocals, which grace your ears immediately, having a very serene and beautiful tone that draws you in like a lullaby. The electro vibes help create an ambient and chilled setting, to just sit back and relax to, unwind and let flow over you…then as we glide further into the song, it builds momentum, before finally we are greeted by a loud cry that startles, which marks the start of the powerful full in swing motion with fierce aggressive vocals to wake you from your false sense of comfort. The song never digresses from its all-consuming and ethereal state however, whether it be calm and quiet or brash and angered. This is the true Arcane Roots signature style that makes them stand out in the crowd, and this certainly has the same desired and expectant effect that you were waiting for. It leaves you even more excited about the bands next offering. CL
Beans On Toast - A Spanner In The Works With his annual release for 2016 Beans on Toast is one of the most fruitful artists out there. Welcoming listeners to the record is an overview of the past year and the notable events that happened. It catalogues many of the pop icons that passed, points out the political turbulence mainly in the UK but there is a nod towards the president elect, “An angry whiteman on a microphone with his finger on the button and a nuclear code”. This song reflects what we all knew about Beans on Toast, a man and a guitar singing about relatable topics. But that knowledge is only a part of what there is to learn about his work, this record is diverse with piano based tracks and electronic pads all over. I was not expecting the diversity on show. Often changing genres completely from track to track which for some may be jarring, as it does not follow the “typical” album structure and the constant change in style could put people off. That could not be less true this wide variety brings a lot to the album other than the singer song-writer aspect you may have been expecting. Not everything changes all the time there are two critical constants the lyrical themes and voice of Beans on Toast. Cleverly fitting the relevant, sometimes comical but always topical lyrics around whatever the music is doing even if it goes in a ska direction in ‘Afternoons in the Sunshine’ or the drum and organ based ‘We Made It to the Waterfall’ which has motown-esc shoop shooops gaining extra brownie points. ‘A Spanner In the Works’ is a pleasant entry into the yearly expansion to Bean on Toast’s musical catalogue.
EJ Freddy James Band - Same Old Song (single review) A dark underlay of bass is stacked upon with superb classic psychedelic organ, bluesy guitar and singing. Hearing the single you would think that the band are from New Orleans or somewhere else in the south of the USA but you’d be mistaken, they actually hail from Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire. That is how authentic the sound is, the tones are perfect from the first second until the last, ending after 3:20 minutes. When ‘Same Old Song’ was over I was sad, but I then remembered that there is a repeat option! So I found out this “Same Old Song” doesn’t get old after double digit plus listens! EJ
Start The Scene - Strike The Queen (single review) Straight off the bat it is distinct with Drew Kramer’s voice being ear perking, it is similar to others in the genre but different enough to stand apart. Playing against the clean vocal is Bryan Bernoski’s completely harsh singing which balances nicely. Musically there are some really, really enjoyable parts especially one moment after the first chorus. It brings in a clean guitar line played by Gabriel Lechuga (whose input is great through all of ‘Strike the Queen’) over muted striking of the rhythm guitar creating the great relationship that has always worked in the rock/hard rock/metal genres. The rhythm section, made up of Christian Brown (Bass) and Mike Bingman (Drums) lay down some solid drum fills and the bass fits in well. All in all it is a decent single. EJ
Anyone’s Guess – Commitment Issues There’s something quite refreshing about hearing a good rock song. There are a lot of bands releasing pretty average rock material and somehow doing quite well out of it. So when I stuck on ‘So Long’ and it turned out to not just be a good rock song, but one that was actually better than a lot of stuff that’s being thrown at us these days, I nearly jumped for joy. It isn’t perfect – it is still a pretty basic rock song. The vocals are strong, although the lyrics are occasionally a bit questionable. Still you can’t have everything and if it takes that to have the rest of the song then I’ll take it. The riffs are pretty basic, but when they do step up they step up in an acceptable manner. There’s still a way to go before Anyone’s Guess are Pearl Jam, but it’s a good starting point.
AL Code Orange - Forever Hardcore outfit Code Orange return with their new album ‘Forever’ released via Roadrunner Records, known for their unconventional but brutal sound Code Orange are one of more intriguing bands in the hardcore scene. The album kicks off with the title track, a chaotic track with incredibly heavy riffs and audacious changes of pace; the final thirty seconds are magic. ‘Kill the Creator’ is a much faster number that really hits your eardrum, the track hits you lyrically too – “The death of your bully mentality, the death of your mentor hypocrisy, the death of your political strategy” implying a very personal issue of the band members. ‘Real’ opens like a hurricane with a ferocious drum beat which work perfectly with the dragged rough vocals indicating a sense of desperation.
‘Bleeding in the Blur’ is both eerie and experimental with a change in vocal style creating an insanely clever dark pop punk song, it reminds me a lot of Superheaven, it’s a real highlight and interesting diversion from their usual sound. ‘The Mud’ is a combination of a 90’s game theme and Weekend Nachos, it’s one of the poorer tracks on the album despite the incredible guitar work. Next up is the brash lively ‘The New Reality’, this track reminds me a lot of the powerful nature of their previous works; it’s unfortunately a short two minute track but it is one of the highlights. ‘Spy’ continues the powerviolence theme, it’s a three minute track dominated by a monstrous riff. All of a sudden you’re listening to Nirvana with ‘Ugly’ with its hollow guitar effects and a killer chorus, it’s another side to Code Orange that I haven’t encountered before and it’s awesome to hear their progression. ‘No One Is Untouchable’ is another brutal number with particularly angry lyrics – “So if you fuckers wanna find out, I'm like a ghost that never leaves, Ready to receive.” The Penultimate track ‘Hurt Goes On’ exhibits the bands stranger side with a series of creepy interludes, the only positive is that it leads well into the final track ‘dream2’ which is beautifully executed it’s supernatural riff reflecting the idea of the word dream in the title. This album stretches the musical ability of Code Orange and it’s an intriguing 3rd full length. JP
Goliath Theory - Family Ties EP Starting off with a cover ‘The One That I want’ is a bit of master stroke, it’s a song we all know and I think, deep down, it’s one most of us find catchy and perhaps a wee guilty pleasure. These fellas manage to make it a bit of a banger as well as being immensely good fun! Bedford three piece, with a set of raw and ready songs, are showing masses of potential with songwriting that is kept simple and that make for some good listening, flowing, energetic and very much on for pressing that repeat button. ‘Don’t Let the River Run Cold’ is a firey smasher while ‘Family Ties’ is a more progressive number in an emotive way. ‘Gushing Blood’ is more a builder showing another side to the songwriting although I’d have to say the more simplistic and edgier songs on the playlist are more to my taste but as I said, there is plenty of potential and these boys could be on the move. AN
Ethics - Ethos Progressive metal is a genre that can be construed a lot of different ways and a lot of the time there isn’t much that is actually progressive about it. While Ethics are certainly a very precise and good band, that is the main problem, it is very predictable leaving nothing to really grab you and pull you in, having said that, one thing that does go in their favour is the incorporation of the spoken word elements. That is being done by others of course but I like the way it flows from spoken word into the screaming vocals. It is decently done and does give them their signature hook! This is far from a bad EP, they are very good at what they do but apart from those spoken word sections there isn’t much to separate them from the myriad of bands in the style. They, like many more need something to set them apart. AN
Dave Hause - Bury Me In Philly Dave Hause has been on my radar for a few years now, ever since I saw him as part of the Revival Tour in…… The year escapes me now, but suffice to say he made an immediate impression on me so in the days after I looked into him further and found myself listening heavily to The Loved Ones and digging deep into his debut album. A few years on from his second album comes ‘Bury Me in Philly’ which, as has happened with anything he has been involved with, he has again honed his immense songwriting talents to bring another superb body of work. The opening ‘With You’ is vintage Hause, full of energy but with a certain bleakness and a voice that sends shivers down the spine, getting vocal range sounds simple when you hear him do it but it is anything but. Lyrically it is grasping for the companionship of friends and home, in the music business you have a lot of acquaintances but long weeks on the road may not bring a lot of friends, on the whole. Dave Hause has been referred to as the songwriters songwriter and there is very little to doubt this, the stories he is telling lyrically are captivating and compelling, from asking if Jesus loves me on ‘Shaky Jesus’ to tales of growing through losing sports team, the unpaid bills to come and even potential jail time on ‘Devine Lorraine’. This album, as the title suggests is heavily set in Philly, it makes me feel envy for a feeling I’ll never have about a hometown having never really had one. Albums like this, people will be able to take things from it that they will know but it stirs something for those who don’t. That’s what Hause does, he stirs things up in folk and he has another superb album to go with it. AN
Galactic Empire - Self-Titled The first thing I thought on hearing Galactic Empire for the first time a while ago, apart from “holy shit this is awesome” was why has no one done this before? They probably have but these guys have just done it better and are making a real go at it, it was no surprise to see the initial costumes and names having to be modified a little but it shows that there is a buzz about this band and they have come to a few important peoples attention. The question is though, above all, how do they stack up musically? To take on the music of John Williams, which to me is the bigger story, it just so happens this music was on Star Wars. John Williams is a true master songwriter as has been seen by the fact his music has gone on to be iconic. His Jaws work, you know the one, isn’t so much just soundtrack but a character. Well, they stack up pretty spectacularly, there is an understanding of the music, the build of dynamics and while putting their own obvious signature on it, keeping it faithful to the source material. With the ‘Imperial March’, a song that has achieved a status on a par with the main Star Wars theme is executed superbly keeping the menace of the original and the big power chords are worthy of the man in black himself. With ‘Dual of the Fates’, about the only memorable thing to come out of the pr**ual trilogy is a great reminder of what a superb song it is, ‘The Force Theme’ is epic and grand while ‘The Asteroid Field’ takes some of those Williams medleys and crunches them together and sounds fucking great. One of the highlights must be ‘The Cantina Band’, an unbelievably catchy song in its own right, one that thankfully survived the numerous George Lucas dissections (I could rant on that subject but I won’t) and this one perhaps works best of all, getting the groove and hooks absolutely bang on. This album is a real triumph, their understanding of the music and the ability to capture it is something to behold. How much longevity there is for this band is open to debate of course but I’d like to think that as the wealth of Star Wars, much like the franchise in general continues to grow than there is plenty for them to dig into. I’d love to think of John Williams sitting back and enjoying this too. AN
Frank Carter & The Rattlesnakes - Modern Ruin He’s back, still angry, still fired up and more importantly, still very hungry. There has been a lot of hype and build for this record and it needs to deliver, we’ve had a few previews in the months leading up to it and the signs have been very good that we will see an album that will build on the ferocity of ‘Blossom’. The sound is very different, taking in what is essentially everything that Carter has learned from his time in Gallows and Pure Love, the content of the lyrics shows up some very personal moments where he is literally pouring his soul into it. From the beginning with the tender and soft ‘Bluebelle’, a surprising song to open the album given what has come before with album openings from him and what a way to start it. At a little over a minute long it shows that things are different and he isn’t going to do what you expect. ‘Lullaby’ and ‘Snake Eyes’ have been available for public consumption for a little while now so I’ll skip them and get into ‘Vampires’, a sludgy, moody song that has a great tempo and dynamics, dropping back where it needs to before roaring right back in your face. It is with songs like ‘Acid Veins’ that show just how good a singer Carter has become, soulful and full of emotions and not the emotion of anger which made his name, that isn’t gone of course but there are far more shining through. It isn’t just down to Frank of course, the band, as seen on tour are tight, he seems to have guys that are in it for the long haul and that will continue to allow the band to build on the momentum they have right now, and they have a lot of it. ‘Modern Ruin’ shows that momentum, mainly driven by the word of mouth is justified, it is the most complete album Frank Carter has made so far in his career and if things continue this way, then the arena tour with Biffy Clyro will not be the only arenas the Rattlesnakes play this year. If you don’t have tickets, then assuming a venue near you has any left for the coming UK tour you better get on it soon, this could be the last opportunity to see them up close, sweaty and chaotic for a while. AN
The Menzingers - After The Party Back with their fifth album, The Menzingers have produced an album that is high on melody, energy and stadium worthy anthems. I’ve never listened to much of their stuff in the past, only bits and pieces here and there but this one is a real banger and one that has me looking back at their previous work. ‘Tellin Lies’ is a storming opener, taking a look at where things go “when our twenties are over”, Vegas? Put it all on black and get married by Elvis? Despite the melody and softer sections, it is a stormer with some massive power chords, a great song to get a listener hooked from the get go.
‘Lookers’ takes a nostalgic look back at the Asbury Park days while ‘Midwestern States’ take them back to early touring days as younger men and being taken to court by landlords for unpaid rent, luckily things have worked out fairly well and they hopefully don’t have those worries anymore! There is a lot of different sounds on this record, sometimes several times a song but it all fits together extremely well. There is early years of punk influence on the album which fits the album well but it does not over power it or dilute the other sounds which are all stamped with a unique Menzingers stamp. This album could be classed as a musical autobiography, they are really digging in their youth while looking ahead to the future. This is a superb album and could be an early album of the year contender, there is one or two of them already despite it only being January (at the time of writing) and it makes for an exciting look ahead at the rest of the year. If like me, you are slightly ignorant of The Menzingers, then ‘After the Party’ is the perfect jumping on point, you won’t be disappointed. AN
Hellbound Hearts - Film Noir There has been a lot of great stuff already in 2017, Hellbound Hearts can add themselves to that statement with a debut album as impressive as any debut I’ve heard in the last couple of years. With a sound that stamped made in Britain they rocket out of the blocks with ‘Suffering the Radio’, packing melodic choruses and well-built verses. ‘Poor Disguises’ takes its time before launching into a fast paced, high octane riff machine, change the distortion sound and you have a thrash song but they make it sound pure rock n roll. These are songs that are made to be played live, you can just picture the scene, a pit of sweat and with such memorable and catchy choruses, the words being spat back at the stage. There is an energy and at times a ferocity about these songs, a slow song is teased once or twice with the likes of ‘Still We Wait’ and the piano opening of ‘We Are All Alone’ but they soon kick into perhaps some of the heaviest songs on the album. That unpredictability is something to be savoured and kept in their arsenal, it adds that little something else that will make them stand out from the rest. As ‘Silent Horror Movie’ wraps things up with a swagger and power, Hellbound Hearts have made themselves contenders. Things can only get bigger and better for them after this debut. AN
Dearly Beloved - Admission At only 35 minutes there isn’t much time to get settled in listening to this one and that is because Dearly Beloved don’t give you any chance to, they are full on firing these songs out. ‘RIP’ is a straight up ball basher, leaving the odd moment of breathing space but overall just kicking serious ass and spitting out the venom. This band have a sound that is all too lacking nowadays in the modern digital fused world, I’m guessing this record is recorded on analogue because it has that warmer, fuller sound that you simply don’t get with digital. It makes the album more chaotic which is ideal for this style, part grunge, part punk, chuck in some doom and you’ll start to get the idea. It is an album that doesn’t make you feel comfortable while you listen, heavy on the fuzz and just a great sound. This album deserves to be heard by everyone, in an ideal world it would but alas, it is anything ideal but if you fancy something new, they could be your new favourite band. AN
WSTR - Red, Green or Inbetween WSTR have been making their mark across the UK pop punk scene over the past few years. Their EP ‘SKRWD’ was met with positive vibes and with no surprise. This is a band who take direct influence from the major pop punk hard hitters including classics like Blink all the way up to new comers and touring mates Neck Deep. Their debut album ‘Red, Green or In Between’ follows on with the classic anthem making creativity that has already got them this far. The first song kicks proceedings off with a very rocky start. Cementing their mantra for this band with “we’re fucking great at being basic” going back to the fact they started this band because they were all stuck with just going to work and not really living. ‘Footprints’ is definitely a stand out on this album, the high powered pop punk profile oozing from this track is outstanding. You can feel the energy coming from each and every member of the band. This song seems to be about growing up and leaving the younger side of yourself behind; “Most people talking parseltongue and I still don’t know what it means” is a brilliant segment of the lyrics.
The 38 second track ‘Gobshite’ is basically for circle pits at their shows, it is a pure angst rollercoaster that ends in less than a minute and it sums up this band perfectly. With the compelling lyrics created by lead singer Sammy Clifford and the experiences he has gone through this album comes out as a fantastic piece of pop punk that could make the history books. ‘Lonely Smiles’ hook of “tell me what’s the fucking problem” is nothing less than awesome. Sammy has said about this album “This album is mainly a breakup album however it's not a 'fuck you' album it's more a 'mad at myself' album”. Which is something a lot of people can relate to. Not only do WSTR have the potential to go far with this album but I think they now have what it takes to be counted amongst the ranks of pop punk idols. RO
We Fall Slowly - Lose Your Heart EP We Fall Slowly join the many artists who have attempted to make great indie music, only they’ve succeeded. It’s a difficult genre to get into considering the goliath’s you have to compete with such as Arctic Monkeys and Kings of Leon, not to mention the classics like Oasis. This Netherland’s group have managed to hone the maturity required for indie rock and combine it with the sheer energy and life force required to create great indie anthems. While this EP is only 2 tracks long it demonstrates just how good this band are. The vocals for this band are probably the crux and make it a stand out in the sea of other indie acts. The smooth but almost grungey rock sounding vocals combine well with the intricate guitar music. Together with the fantastic drumming this band create a sound that is both totally unique and familiar enough that you can fall in love straight away. Though this is only a 2 track EP it’s quite easy to pick up and very difficult to put down. I would recommend these songs to anyone who is an indie lover. RO
Lower Than Atlantis - Safe In Sound For a band that began ten years ago Lower than Atlantis have come a long way for a couple of guys from the South of England. They’ve always released the music they want to and have been on the cusp of the British rock scene, keeping it alive representing what the genre is. Their previous efforts have always been met with aplomb and praise and I believe that this record will be no different. I think what makes Lower than Atlantis so good is that unlike a lot of bands around today they shy away from their roots. Lead singer Mike Duce doesn’t hide his distinct British twang in the music they produce and that allows them to stand out a lot. Especially with the “who are ya, who are ya” on ‘Long Time Coming’ it works very well. This band have always managed to blend old style hard rock with funky beats. ‘Boomerang’ is a step down from their heavier stuff and creates an almost poppy undertone that mixes well with the rest of the album. The heavier tracks on the album however are the ones to pay attention to, ‘Had Enough’ and ‘Dumb’ boast a deep baseline which would shake any festival floor with delight, whilst the drumming destroys your ears from the inside. Obviously the single ‘Work for It’ makes an appearance and is a delightful listen. Lower than Atlantis have always pushed themselves musically and energetically. Their shows are a roaring sensation of sweat and awe and this album proves they’re easily one of, if not THE best band in the UK Rock scene. With the loss of WATO this year and KIGH previously we need to keep bands like this alive and I can see LTA are going to be here for a long time. RO
Courtesans - Better Safe Than Sober EP Dark and brooding, ‘Mesmerise’ opens up the new Courtesans EP with a bang, slowly building before exploding into a wall of sound and atmosphere, it brings with it a lot to take in. It conjures up the epic and layer upon layer of angst, these London ladies are bringing the A game. ‘Feel the Same’ opens with a spoken word/rap which like the opener ends with some big noise and creates some cracking dynamic as it tears through its bridges between the spoken word which evolve from raps into singing while keeping the spoken word delivery. It is nicely done and grows the song given it very defined sections as the chorus’s do the same. This EP is one I may not have heard had it not been sent, as the description is really not one that makes me excited. However, from start to finish I’m hooked, there is so much to enjoy about this EP. ‘Knowhere’ shift the style slightly to a more L7 feel with dirty riffs although it does also a distinct industrial tone in spots, it’s a fucking quality song and takes you into the closing and again very epic ‘The Tide’ to round it off in style. For an EP that I wouldn’t otherwise have heard, it is pretty high on my listening list just now, it should be on plenty of other peoples as well. AN
Deaf Havana - All These Countless Nights I was under the impression that Deaf Havana had had their day. The debut album ‘Fools and Worthless Liars’ was a huge hit in 2011 and it certainly carried them to the forefront of the alternative UK scene. It was a collective effort of years of touring and writing and it translated beautifully ensuring the band got the exposure they deserve. ‘Old Souls’ was their triumph in 2013 but it didn’t quite tick the same boxes as their previous one. After this, it was a rocky time for the band. Their lead singer James has since admitted that he believed their Reading and Leeds performances in 2014 were to be the band’s swan songs as he had grown distant from the band. ‘Ashes, Ashes’ begins this album and as James describes it is the end and also the beginning “It’s laying to rest the old me.” Referffing to how he felt about the band previously compared to now. ‘L.O.V.E’ is a brooding dark piece of music that encapsulates an on the road romantic encounter knowing a loved one is back home waiting. The outro that finishes this song is truly beautiful, a piano melody interspersed with soft drumming and delicate guitar work. ‘Happiness’ is a song that I believe a lot of people will be able to relate to. Even more so now that Deaf Havana’s chief audience are older. This track deals with how anxiety can impact a relationship. James muses “I knew you’d get sick of all the stupid things I did and how I never think far enough ahead. Cause my drinking takes its toll on everyone around me especially you.” This is a soft ballad with more of James’ soft approach to singing. A great track that speaks a thousand words. What I’ve always loved about Deaf Havana is the pure uncensored lyrics straight from lead singer James’ personal experiences and his ongoing anxiety with life. It takes a brave man to admit any problems he has and this man has a wonderful touch when it comes to putting pen to paper. ‘Like a Ghost’ displays this band’s ability to write an amazingly catchy song and shrug it off as if it’s nothing. Not to be released they left this as a surprise for the fans. The rhythm is addictive and the solo to end it is awesome. It’s good to see that Deaf Havana haven’t totally turned their back on their old sound with ‘Trigger’ as it encapsulates that stlye of the band brilliantly. Deaf Havana may have gone a bit off the reservation as of late, their previous effort was not received well and could have easily ended them. ‘All These Countless Nights’ could propell them back to the top where they most definitely belong. RO
Krysthla - Peace In Our Time British five piece Krysthla continue to tear up the British metal scene, following up the success of their A War of Souls, debut in 2015 is a big ask but they have managed to progress and build on those foundations with another strong album. As ‘The Minor Mystery of Death’ gradually builds they manage to build suspense and by the time it explodes with its neck breaking pace and ferocity, you can see they have lost none of the fire. To continue that way is would be to stick to the tried and tested formula that did them well previously, they are however progressing and adding new layers in to their sound. Subtle changes of tempo and pace are sometimes hard to realise at the time but they are there and it gives so much extra to the quality of the music, those little hooks are ones that will be well appreciated. Some people dismiss this style as being just noise when the truth is the musicianship and ability to craft the songs and make them in to mini epics all their own is a fucking talent and one that those who realise this will respect even more, especially with a crusher like this one. AN
Bowling For Soup - Drunk Dynasty I never thought in a million years Bowling For Soup would still be around when I’m in my late 20s (just going to have a little cry). Not only do some of my favourite albums turn 10 this year but now I find out that BFS are over 20 years old, this isn’t good for me. Anyway, they’re still around and releasing music. Even though it’s clearly intended for drunk or stoned college kids or even younger they still produce brilliant tracks. The opening of ‘She Used to Be Mine’ just shows how good this band still are, their fans may have grown up around them but they’ve remained true to their original vision and have never faltered. Even with ridiculous lyrics “She took the pickles off my burger and fed me fries as I drove.” Obviously in true BFS style most of the songs on this album are about girls or getting drunk. That’s what they do and they’re amazing at it. The second track on this album is fantastic, the bridged start mixed with a little bit of light keyboard sets it up perfectly and it’s a song that everyone can relate to. Sometimes everyone just has to say I’ve got “Shit to Do” coupled together brilliantly with “and it don’t include you” creating an anthem two songs into the album. Good work boys. Upbeat heartfelt ‘Hey Dianne’ is almost a sombre moment for Bowling For Soup. Trying to pick up a down and out mother by saying she’s going to have an amazing life and she will be great. It’s nice to see this band can stretch their writing to more than just titties and beer. Of course usual routine is resumed on the follow up track ‘Go to Bed Mad’. A song about all the things Jared would like to do when he’s mad at his girlfriend/wife such as she moves to a different city or he takes the job and leaves only to come to fruition in the middle when she gets her boobs out. Titties and beer Bowling for Soup. Titties and beer. I love nothing more than a good opening riff of a pop punk song, combined with the vocals from Jared this just roars into ignition straight away. “Whatever happened to chivalry?” demands the lead singer’ followed with “whatever happened to loyalty.” The chorus of this song is incredible. “Don’t be a dick, don’t be an asshole.” This track is awesome and again pinpoints a lot of things that people can relate to. There’s nothing better than a good ol’ fashion style folk song and that’s what the end of this album gives out. ‘Drinkin’ Beer On a Sunday’, typical for this band. It’s a head rocking, feet tappin’ hootenanny and it ends this album perfectly. While Bowling for Soup aren’t Main Stage headliners or selling out arenas worldwide they’re still doing what they love for the fans and making fantastic music after all these years. Never change BFS. RO
Blood of Angels - Rise of the Fallen Gods Blood of Angels offer plenty of high speed fun in their newest release, ‘Rise of the Fallen Gods’. The Death Metal act pulverize with consistent pounds of drums, gnawing guitars and an overall flurry of instrumental patterns. Opening track ‘Miscreant Deeds of Loki’ almost never has a moment to breathe with how aggressive the band are, and it kicks this heavy right out from the gate. ‘Rise of the Fallen Gods’ is high quality, and highly impressive but a bit dry because there’s no other real musical offering. Across the EP riffs shred, the solos are interesting, but overall it’s a standard release. The songs feel a bit lengthy, but they really are not — it is just the pacing of Blood of Angels. Closing track ‘Final War’ offers a bit more rhythmical identity with the grooving breakdown in the opening half, and I wish there was more of that. Not to say this music is not fun to blast loud enough for your next door neighbor to hear (especially when channeling your inner Norse Mythological god), because it really is fun. Its livelihood outweighs the rather straight forward pulse.SG
As It Is - Okay After my third listen of this album I truly have begun to appreciate the talent that is hidden beneath the latest band on the pop punk scene. As It Is are the new diamonds to come out of Brighton with their second album ‘Okay.’ which manages to take them from new to new and improved. Their debut album ‘Never Happy, Ever After’ took the alternative scene by storm and how could it not. Their pop-rock anthems combined with lyrics that were truly relatable meant this five piece were ready to take the world starting from the bottom. Kicking off pretty typically, the pop-punk anthems come thick and fast. ‘Pretty Little Distance’ is an instant hit and starts this album off on a massive high. We then come down to the almost sombre ‘Hey Rachel’. The hook of “I was selfish and stubborn. A terrible brother” works very well and can be relatable for a lot of people. A gem on this album is easily the less pop punk and more metal track ‘No Way Out’. This is a hard hitting full on angst track, even stopping halfway through for a moment of clarity and the lead singer talking solemnly. Before kicking it back up to 11 again and rocking out. In contrast to the angry and bitter ‘No Way Out’ the beautiful ‘Austen’ is truly one to tug at the heartstrings. The whole point of this album is to be real “it is okay to not be okay” muses lead singer Patty Walters. This song shows love towards a father who is being taken away from the world far too soon. ‘The Coast is Where Home Is’ brings the album back up to it’s happy and poppy glory before being bought down to a slower tone with the final track ‘Still Remembering’. A slow beautiful track that further projects what this band are capable of. Recently I’ve been thinking a lot about a certain lyric from Frank Turner “Well I guess I should confess I’ve started to get old. All the latest music fads all passed me by and left me cold”. That’s how I was feeling about modern music, like some kind of grouchy ancient man I felt the “great” time of music was gone. However after listening to ‘Okay’ I can see it’s not gone it’s just moved on. As It Is are the heroes of tomorrow today. Give it a few years and they’ll be at arena heights. RO
Aversion’s Crown - Xenocide If you’re nostalgic for the time before deathcore became the cool thing to be into, when Job For A Cowboy and Oceano were pig-squealing their way across the globe, then you could do a hell of a lot worse than listening to this record. Aversion’s Crown are continuing the wonderful Aussie tradition of making bastard-heavy music at the expense of anything in the vicinity that isn’t nailed down. From start to finish this album is uncompromisingly heavy, bleak, and extremely angry. It isn’t really anything new. Their approach to deathcore has been done many a time before, albeit in several different guises that don’t all sound the same. The instrumentalists in Aversion’s Crown pay particular attention to their craft, throwing in interesting little guitar flourishes, lead lines and fills that make the songs stand out just that little bit more. AL
The Darkest Hearts - Loose Ends And Ashes Grim at times but able to lift a song from the depths with big choruses and melody, The Darkest Hearts have a fair amount of arrows to string into their bows. With elements of Alice in Chains in points, Creed at others, it is nothing you haven’t heard before but they make that up with big songs. They keep it straight up without feeling the need to make them any more complicated than they need to be, songs like ‘Resistance’ and ‘Mistakes’ are slow burners that build new levels with each section and backed up by passionate vocals. There is plenty of atmosphere in the background that gives a hint of what might be to come, if there is one word I would use to describe this EP, it would be “potential”. Far from the finished article but there is plenty they can do to reach it and it shows on ‘Loose Ends and Ashes’. AN
Uvtraveler - Stormchaser Heavy on the prog and the technical, ‘Stormchaser’ is a bit of a mixed bag, there are moments where they wow me and there are moments where they just lose me. Opener ‘Deaths Call’ is a stomping start, fast paced and full of energy, dropping it back and roaring back again with a superb middle section and concluding with some top notch guitar work as they shred the melodies.There is a lot of build in these songs, perhaps too much at times, more than once I found myself about to hit the skip button but just in time they hook you back, whether by design or accident it is well done because you are glad you didn’t skip. For me there were too many of those moments despite the shortness of the songs which in this genre is a nice change to see, in perhaps a contradictory way to my previous statement, they are short enough to keep you dangling, just but they do. Albums like this deserve proper listening, I’m sure my complaints will be forgotten once I’ve listened to it a bit more. AN
Ice On Mercury - Blind Leading The Lifeless Ice on Mercury have built a big reputation in their native Australia, their style of blending hardcore with balls to the wall metal bordering on grindcore at times will hit a lot of the right notes with fans of each of those genres. Opener and title track ‘Blind Leading the Lifeless’ changes even from those styles adding in elements of thrash and finding itself going all early 2000s with Limp Bizkit like breakdowns, it is packing in a lot in to its four minute length and finds it being a little over saturated. When they keep it comparatively simple is when they really shine, ‘General Justification’ is a banger and flows a lot better, the time changes are organic, it is a great song and the way it stops dead at the end is really fucking cool. Keeping it heavy with plenty of melody attached and zips between clean and gruff it ticks all the right boxes but it just doesn’t do much for me, the songs are well written and are sure to be pit swirlers but it isn’t one that I’d rush to hear again but, if they had more in the style of ‘General Justification’ it could be a different story! AN
A Day To Remember / Cardiff Motorpoint Arena / January 22nd Kicking in with 'All Downhill from Here' the arena sized crowd instantly starts moving, and you can already see a couple of mosh pits opening up in the audience. 'Understatement' keeps the momentum to a high and is of course a classic for any old fan of the band to hear. Reminding us how well they can write as a four piece we are hit with 'Selfless' which with its rifftastic approach has the crowd wanting more as soon as it ends. To take it to the next level, and as Cardiff is the first date of the tour we get to hear their new song 'Happy Being Miserable' being performed live for the first time ever! For any NFG fan, it doesn't really get any better than that, and from the response, then it looks the band are ready to release another killer album. Their classic cover of 'Kiss Me' gets the circle pits going once more, as the band provide their approach to the song. Then we head out of the set with 'Failure's Not Flattering' & 'Viscous Love' which both get an exceptional response. If you've been to any rock club ever in your life, then you'll know the track 'My Friends Over You', every person in the audience sings along. With their addictive mix of metalcore and pop punk A Day To Remember have become one of the biggest bands in the world at the moment, and with the recent announcement that they'll be second to the headline act at this years' Download Festival, it looks like there are some extremely big moments ahead for these guys. Launching straight in with 'Mr. Highway's Thinking About the End' the mosh pits "WAKE UP!" as far as the eye can see. This song simply has the crowd erupting into a chaotic frenzy. The band go on to perform one of their newest singles 'Paranoia' which judging by the response from the crowd is already a massive hit for the band, and just like 'My Friends Over You' by NFG I expect to hear 'Paranoia' in rock clubs from this point in. ‘Bad Vibrations' was pretty crazy to hear live, and if you are in the mosh pit at this stage, then you just have to hope that you'll survive. A very powerful song to witness. Every song is a highlight tonight, and it's clear to see that the band are on top form. 'All I Want’ is probably one of my favorite A Day To Remember songs, and on a live basis it goes down very well. A hectic song throughout, that can only get an awesome response from the crowd. The band mix in confetti cannons, t-shirt guns, inflatable dolphins to the performance to give it that extra fun level, and it works. You look around, and it seems like everyone is enjoying the set. ‘If It Means a Lot to You’ is always a pleasure to hear live, and as an acoustic song it gives a really good dynamic to the overall set. You can barely hear the band at this point, due to the crowd belting every word back at them as loud as possible. They end on ‘The Downfall of Us All’ which has every single person in the crowd jumping to the track. The perfect end, to a VERY impressive set. I can’t wait to see what these guys do next. AD
Yellowcard / 02 Bristol Academy / December 11th It’s very saddening to be writing this, my last ever feature/review about Yellowcard. I’ve personally loved everything they’ve come out with, and will be listening to them for years and years after this. Such a tragic loss to the rock music world, and they will be missed by many, fact. ‘Believe’ gets everyone moving straight away, a classic anthem from the ‘Ocean Avenue’ days that has everyone in the room singing along at the top of their lungs. ‘Lights and Sounds’ gets the circle pits and mosh pits moving at a fast speed, a track that simply doesn’t give the audience a chance to breathe. Absolutely awesome to hear in a live atmosphere. The band go on to perform some material from the later side of their material, including ‘Always Summer’ ‘Rest In Peace’ ‘What Appears’ which all get an ecstatic response, and remind us just how well this band have progressed as musicians over the years. ‘Rough Landing, Holly’ takes us back to the ‘Lights and Sounds’ era, a bouncy track, that is probably one of my favourites from that album. ‘Awakening’ does not let anyone stand still, with its simplistic and brilliant lyrics “I want this to be my awakening” everyone is once again singing at the maximum volume. The band take it down a notch with ‘Light Up The Sky’ and ‘Sing For Me’ which both give the crowd a moment to get their energy back, before they propel into ‘Transmission Home’ an atmospheric track that shows a completely different side to the band in an exciting way. From the Spiderman 2 soundtrack the band perform ‘Gifts and Curses’, which is an absolute treat for any fan of the band, as they rarely play this song in a live atmosphere. Awesome. ‘Breathing’ & ‘Empty Apartment’ have everyone spitting out what they have left of their vocals, and at this point you are left in awe when it comes to thinking just how many great songs this band have. Ending on ‘Only One’ & ‘Ocean Avenue’ the band couldn’t of played a better set for their last ever UK tour, I mean, if I was nitpicking then I would of loved to of heard ‘For You, And Your Denial’ one last time, but other than that, it was flawless. These guys have had an incredible career, and tonight is 100% evidence of that. AD