More new names have been added to this year’s Slam Dunk Festival; Andrew McMahon in the Wilderness, Crossfaith, Waterparks, With Confidence, Milk Teeth, Decade, Counterfeit., Black Foxxes, Fort Hope, Puppy, SHVPES, The Gospel Youth, Ocean Grove, VUKOVI, Area 11, Sylar, Homebound, Casey and MAKEOUT. The latest additions to the 2000 Trees Festival has been announced. Mallory Knox will headline the Thursday night. While Frank Carter & The Rattlesnakes will join Nothing But Thieves as Friday night coheadliners, with Lower Than Atlantis joining Slaves as co-headliners on the closing night. The other new names just announced are The Menzingers, Honeyblood, Young Guns, ROAM, Feed the Rhino, Rolo Tomassi, Big Spring, Tall Ships, Skinny Lister, Will Varley, Kevin Devine, Ducking Punches, BRUTUS, Decade, Puppy and Kamikaze Girls. Seven new bands have been added to this year’s Bloodstock Festival: Winterfylleth, Dendera, Kroh, Abhorrent Decimation, Bossk, Courtesans and Wretched Soul. Seven new names have been added to Fort Fest. The latest announcement sees Black Foxxes, Normandie, Tigress, Big Spring, WeCameFromWolves, SEASONS and New Device joining the three-day festival. Fort Fest takes place at Scald End Farm in Bedfordshire on 4th - 6th August.
Feeder have been confirmed as headliners for this year’s Camden Rocks Festival. The other names announced this week: Turbowolf, The Virginmarys, Desert Mountain Tribe, The Dirty Youth, Reigning Days, Bad Nerves, Goan Dogs, Reverted, Lock, Wide Eyed Boy, Blank Parody, WeCameFromWolves, Tiny Giant, False Heads, Valeras, Curse of Lono, Damn Dice, Sleepfire, Panic Island, Matty James Cassidy, Couples, Lilith and The Knight, The RPM’s, Via Dolorosa, Glam Skanks, They, Uncultured, The Luka State, Two Year Break and Nash. Camden Rocks Festival takes place across 25 venues in Camden, London on June 3rd. The final names for this year’s Handmade Festival 2017 have been announced: Goat Girl, Baba Naga, Kovic, Courtney Askey, HAUS, Little Hours, Peaness, Miriam Franklin, and Lea Porcelin. Taco Hell, Drawstring, Night Swimming and Penthouse are the latest names to be announced for Brighton’s Washed Out Festival. It’ll take place across five venues on April 15th - 16th.
blink-182 will release a deluxe edition version of 'California’ on May 19th. It will included 11 new songs and an acoustic version of 'Bored to Death’. On June 2nd, Flogging Molly will release 'Life Is Good’, their first studio album in six years via Spinefarm Records/Vanguard Records.
BabyMetal will release a new live DVD/Blu-Ray, 'Live At Tokyo Dome’, April 12th. Following recent allegations online, Moose Blood have announced drummer Glenn Harvey is no longer with the band.
Papa Roach have confirmed their ninth album, 'Crooked Teeth’, will be released on May 19th through Eleven Seven Music. The deluxe edition of the record will include three songs and a live album - 'Live at the Fillmore Detroit’.
Puppy have signed a worldwide deal with Spinefarm Records. Tigers Jaw will return on May 19th with the release of 'spin’ through Black Cement Records, a new imprint of Atlantic Records.
Beartooth will be giving their second album, 'Aggressive’, the deluxe treatment on May 26th. It will include six bonus tracks as well as documentary footage and a full 14-song-set from their recent hometown show in Columbus, OH.
Terror will release a new EP called 'The Walls Will Fall’ on April 28th via Pure Noise Records (digital, CD) and Triple B Records (vinyl).
Malevolence will release their new album, 'Self Supremacy’ on May 19th via BDHW Records. Leeds four-piece Weirds will release their debut full-length, ‘Swarmculture’, on 12th May via Alcopop Records.
Gun Shy have announced their new EP will be called 'The Long Dance’. It will be released on May 12th via Wrong Way Round Records. Leeds shoegaze band Walleater announced they have split up. Canadian post-punk quintet PINE have signed to No Sleep Records. An EP called 'Pillow Talk’ is set for release on June 9th. Guildford pop-rock newcomers Seasonal have revealed details of their debut EP. 'Bloom’ will be released on 19th May.
Metallica will bring their ‘WorldWired Tour’ to the UK in October. Support comes Kvelertak. October 22 The O2, London 24 The O2, London 26 SSE Hydro, Glasgow 28 Arena, Manchester 30 Genting Arena, Birmingham
Weezer will embark on a UK tour in late October. October 23 O2 Academy, Leeds 24 O2 Academy, Glasgow 25 O2 Apollo, Manchester 27 O2 Academy, Birmingham 28 SSE Arena, Wembley, London
Prophets of Rage will follow up their appearance at Download Festival with a headline show at the O2 Academy Brixton.
Incubus have revealed the track listing for their new album - '8’. It’s set for release on April 21st through Island Records.
Set It Off and With Confidence will play a handful of UK shows together around the Slam Dunk Festival. May 23 Marble Factory, Bristol 24 Sound Control, Manchester 25 G2, Glasgow 27 The NEC, Birmingham (Slam Dunk Midlands) 28 City Centre, Leeds (Slam Dunk North) 29 The Forum, Hatfield (Slam Dunk South) 31 O2 Academy Islington, London
Young Guns have just announced a UK tour for this September. September 21 Engine Rooms, Southampton 22 Student Central, London 23 Asylum, Birmingham 24 Garage, Glasgow 25 Club Academy, Manchester 26 Globe, Cardiff
Mogwai will play two UK shows in December. December 15 O2 Academy Brixton, London 16 SSE Hydro, Glasgow
Turnstile have announced their only UK show of 2017. Itâ€™ll take place on Sunday August 13th at The Brudenell Social Club in Leeds. Support comes from Higher Power and Insist.
Jeff Rosenstock will tour the UK in May. He will be joined by Doe. May 19 The Star and Garter, Manchester 20 Durham Students Union Cafe, Durham 21 Stereo, Glasgow 22 Rough Trade, Nottingham 23 Underworld, London 24 The Cavern, Exeter 25 The Exchange, Bristol 26 Fighting Cocks, Kingston 27 The Hope, Brighton
Seether will follow the release of their new album, 'Poison The Parish', on May 12th with a short run of UK shows this October. October 15 The Forum, London 16 O2 Ritz, Manchester 17 O2 ABC Glasgow, Glasgow 18 O2 Institute, Birmingham Ambient rockers Anathema have announced their eleventh album will be titled 'The Optimist'. It's due for release on 9th June through Kscope.
Grime/hardcore collective Astroid Boys have announced a UK headline tour, that will take place in May. April 28th Hit The North Festival, Newcastle May 2nd Music Hall, Ramsgate 3rd The Horn, St Albans 4th Empire, Coventry 5th Vintage Bar, Doncaster 6th Parish, Huddersfield 8th KU Bar, Stockton 9th Tunnels, Aberdeen 10th Alma Inn, Bolton 11th Focus Wales, Central Station, Wrexham June 9th Download Festival, Donington August 13th Boomtown Fair, Winchester Toronto punks The Flatliners are preparing to release their new album, 'Inviting Light', on April 7th.
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How did you get to the band name Can't Swim, and what does it mean to you? In kindergarten, my teacher asked for one defining characteristic about yourself and to share it with the rest of the class. I was a very shy kid growing up and I had no idea what to say. The kid before me said "I love to swim" and when it was my turn, with a nervous last resort, I blurted out "I can't swim" and the whole class laughed and I was made a fool. 20 years later I started the band.
Can you tell us about how you found your sound as Can't Swim? I'd like to think we haven't yet. With only a handful of songs, it's too early to say. I think in time we will realize what we gravitate more towards and try go in that direction.
So, how did you get to the album title 'Fail You Again', and what does it mean to you? In my early 20s, I heard countless times that "time heals everything" and "you'll understand it once you're older". Now, in my late 20s, I still feel exactly the same. The negatives in my life hit me just as hard and the people I have put faith in over the years have failed me over and over again. I think it's a good synopsis of what the majority of the songs are about.
Interview with Chris
Can you elaborate on some of the other main themes and influences that run throughout 'Fail You Again'? Anything from my grandfather passing away to my parents losing their house, all the songs are about the events that have happened to me in the last 27 years.
This is your debut album! So what goals/targets did you set for yourself when you went into the studio to put the release together? I don't think we had many. We recorded it all ourselves, so the process was very relaxed and enjoyable. We worked on a part till every member of the band was happy with it and then we would move on. We really kept it simple and focused on the songs themselves rather than fitting them together or comparing them to our prior release.
You recorded the record by yourself, so how did this decision come about, and what do you love the most about having this kind of creative control? We did that in the beginning because we had no money and that was our only option. Once we started talking about who would record the full length, we decided if it wasn't broken, why would we try and fix the process? I like that it gives everyone in the band equal say and makes it really feel like "we" made it.
How did the music video for 'We Won't Sleep' come together, and can you tell us about what you want it to mean to your fans? It was just an idea I had one day listening back to the song. I wanted something that was relatable to a majority of people who would watch the video. I hope it spreads the message to support your kids, support their differences and love them unconditionally.
How did the front cover for 'Fail You Again' come together, and what does it mean to you? It's who I write my songs about. She's the face on our first release and the main reason I started the band.
How excited are you for your upcoming tour with Real Friends, and what can attending fans expect? We are very exited to get back to the UK. I have not met the Real Friends dudes personally, but have heard they are a lovely bunch. Fans can expect some old songs and some new songs, a new drummer and a bunch of new merch.
What else can we expect to see from Can't Swim in 2017? More touring. More music videos. More grey hair.
Interview with Rob
Can you tell us about the formation of The Winter Passing? Jamie (guitar in TWP) and I had been writing music together for years really as was Kate and I. We had spoke and suggested numerous times about starting a band together and in 2012 we wrote a demo and formed TWP.
How did you get to the band name The Winter Passing and what does it mean to you? We originally wanted to call the band “Winter” but later felt like The Winter Passing had more relevance to the project sonically. To us, the name is a silent metaphor for the journey we are on so to speak, it symbolizes reflection and progression.
Can you tell us a bit about how you first discovered the sound of The Winter Passing? In the beginning I guess we were listening to a lot of 90s & early 00s emo along with a bunch of older indie rock while existing in a DIY punk world, we had many contrasting ideas on the sound, I feel like we first discovered the sound of The Winter Passing when we began working on our debut LP and I maybe even feel like we’ve only discovered the sound of TWP from recording our latest EP ‘Double Exposure’.
What was it like to be an upcoming band in Dublin/Tipperary? It was a great learning curve for us I guess and still is! You learn so much from just sharing stages with other great musicians. We’re a Dublin based band but we’re from Tipperary!
How did you end up signing with Big Scary Monsters, and what have they been like to work with so far? We met the guys from BSM properly at Fest (Gainesville, FL) in October 2016 just as we had recorded our latest EP, they expressed their interest in working with us and we had been fans of the label & many of the artists they work with for years, it was always a label we admired so it made sense for everyone involved and that’s basically how it all came around. They recently just released dog fit shirts in their store which obviously means they’re doing something right!
Where did you go to record 'Double Exposure' and how does it stand out against the rest of your material? We travelled to Richmond, Virginia to finish off putting the skeleton of the record together last October before going to Baltimore to record it with J. Robbins. I feel like it’s our strongest piece of music to date and a much more personal, sentimental piece of work. We are all very proud of ‘Double Exposure’.
Can you elaborate on some of the other main themes and influences that run throughout 'Double Exposure'? We used this recording as a self help project almost, we were surrounded by a number of tricky situations personally in between touring the last record and I feel like ‘Double Exposure’ expresses the feeling of The Winter Passing more prominent and relevant than ever. A lot of the recording from a lyrical stand point speaks about our well being, loneliness and mental health. I guess we got more real with ourselves and the feelings we wanted to portray for the record. It is a self analysis of the mind and the battle to find a common thread in life, the ability to feel ok.
How would you say the sound of the band has grown/changed since the release of 'A Different Space of Mind'? I feel like we have more of an idea at this point of the band we want to be and the music we want to write, I feel like we’ve progressed into a better representation of TWP.
What is like to write as brother and sister, and how would you say this approach has progressed over the last couple of years? We work better together now more than ever because we have spent so much time on tour together, we respect each other’s boundaries quite well and have become better musicians because of it I guess.
How did you end up working with J. Robbins, and how would you say he helped shape the album? We spoke with our label manager Sean about it when we were on tour in the US in 2015 first, we were all big fans of J. Robbins and his work, we all wanted to track the record in America and thought he would do a great job at capturing the sound of the band in its purest form. So we reached out to J and he was keen on the project.
How did the artwork for 'Double Exposure' come together, and what does it mean to you? Our label manager Sean designed the artwork, and we loved it. There’s a song on DE called ‘Paper Rabbit’ which may have sparked the idea for the artwork and we were all super stoked on the idea of the rabbit.
Touring wise, can you give us a couple of personal highlights from your time on the road, and maybe a bit about why those shows are so special to you? When we toured with our friends in Moose Blood last year in the UK that was probably our favorite tour to date, we just had a lot of fun every day on that tour and the shows were great. Our album launch show for ADSOM in Dublin was also a big highlight, it was just great to see how far we came with the band at that point and when we played Brooklyn in 2015 for the first time ever with PWR BTTM, that was a super special moment for us all personally. Those are just a few that come to mind. So many great/funny times though!
How excited are you for your upcoming UK tour, and what can attending fans expect? Super excited to go on tour with our friends in Personal Best next month. You can expect a snazzy/really cool new set with a bunch of stuff from the new record, we’re stoked to finally play the new songs.
What else can we expect to see from The Winter Passing in 2017? Who knows! We’re just hoping for fun.
How did the music video for '1986' come together? The video roughly follows the journey of the lyrics. I don’t really watch music videos and when I do, I prefer them to focus me on the lyrics. It’s archive footage from the beginnings of what we now see as the present. Previous generations versions of the future.
Is there a moment when you realize your music will work better as solo material/Recreations/Get Cape? Absolutely, the problem is trying to explain that without having the benefit of catalogue. Hopefully it will get easier as I release more songs. As a rule of thumb, Recreations is more electronic, Sam Duckworth is solo and Get Cape… is full band and quite party but that moniker is in retirement. As a live band we have are going out as Sam Duckworth’s Bohemian Soul Orchestra. A nod to get cape and the only way to describe the 12 piece big band. It’s a lot of fun, as we are playing both SD and Get Cape songs. Reworking songs from ‘Kingdoms’, but also switching up some old favourites.
What scares you the most about Brexit? Racism. Sadly this phrase the “will of the people” exists. Essentially it’s become an umbrella for xenophobic attitudes. The idea that Brexit is an anti migration at all costs movement, is not the will of the people I know. I have friends on both sides of the political spectrum and whilst economically and socially sometimes we disagree, principles like freedom of movement, the NHS and helping refugees remain between us and many are disgusted. A vocal minority, fuelled by the Murdoch press, have hijacked Brexit, it’s allowing racism to rise to the surface and mask the good progressive communities we live in. Integration is difficult, many people have been let down by the government and the free market, but they are being told by the press that the EU migrants are to blame, when simply they are not. It is corrupt and extremely poor governance. There are ways and means to make it work, but the rich don’t want to budge. Nobody is prepared to say Brexit could bring the country to its knees and it’s spineless leadership. It could still happen, but wouldn’t it be better to have an honest conversation about such a big decision rather than resorting to type, childish grandstanding and mass confusion. Spurred on by Trump this is an international movement to make the very rich even richer. Also, the whole £350 million pledge was a lie. Does that not matter anymore?
What worries you the most about Trump being in power? The speed at which rights are being stripped and the ease in which it is gaining support. Many people see him as a comedy figure and it is going to allow extreme measures to slip through the net. The feeling of White supremacy, is masked by a comedy figure. It’s easily distracting. The judicial system is under attack and it’s the only thing preventing measures like the Muslim ban.
Looking back on 'Recreations - Baby Boomers 2'. How happy are you with this release still, and how do you think it compares to anything else you've ever done? I think it sounds like the beginnings of something, but not something that currently fits with the music I am making. It is really fun to play and I will no doubt play some more shows and bring the songs into the BSO. I think zones 9&10 could sound really great as a live band. I am really excited to make another recreations album in the future and have a few preliminary ideas, but I would like it to go more electronic, so the chances are it will take a while, as I’m more focused on the sound of ‘Kingdoms’ and how the live band progresses. I love the album as a listen and with the artwork being so special. I feel it’s something that will hold up over time, which was the most important thing for me. As it’s a project I look forward to revisiting.
Can you tell us about the formation of The One Hundred? The One Hundred actually started off as a studio project, I was writing music casually with our guitarist, Tim. We recently left a god awful 'metalcore' band with Phil, our bassist so had no intentions to start performing again; purely started writing a style of music that appealed to us more than a generic sound that’s been heard a million times before. After about a year we collated a fair few tracks, (most of which ended up on ‘Subculture’) and decided rather than them sitting on our desktop, we should start a band, a band which would appeal to us if we weren't musicians and something that could create diversity in a clogged up metal/rock scene. We were friends with Joe (drummer) from our local gigging scene and knew he would be interested in doing something different, he was on board basically from us pitching our style and what we were hoping to do, we played our first show in October 2013 and the rest is history.
How did you get to the band name The One Hundred, and what does it mean to you? Everyone always has high expectations when they ask us this question, I think people hope there’s a real gratifying story or meaning behind the name, but in all honesty finding and sticking with a name which has no relevance, as you have no substance to bind it with is harder than writing any song. We had horrific band names in the mix and even resorted to the dictionary hoping to find interesting words that wouldn't pigeon hole us to a specific genre. It got to the point where we gave ourselves one week to create and find a name, I think I mentioned that we went through about one hundred names and we were never going to have one, then it clicked that The One Hundred was a strong, bold name with no ambiguity, so it stuck.
How did you end up signing to Spinefarm Records, and what have they been like to work with so far? Spinefarm have been an absolute pleasure to work alongside, they see our ambitions and have a real clear vision of what we want to achieve. It's great to find a label that understand our intentions and want to work as hard as we/our whole team does. They have a great team and we're super stoked to be a part of the gang!
How did the music video for ‘Dark Matters’ come together, and what was it like to work with Jeb Hardwick? We heard of Jeb through his creativity and diverse style in cinematography. We were all massive fans of his Architects videos, again with our style we didn't want to be in a warehouse, with water on the cymbals, nailing every embarrassing clichè. We decided that in theme with the tracks lyrical content, we should refer to Final Fantasy VII to help create a moodboard in which Jeb interpreted and made a reality. We were all really pleased with the outcome and hope everyone enjoys it.
So, what can we expect to hear from your upcoming debut album?
New tracks, 12 original One Hundred songs. It's such a clichè thing to read and say "our new album is so mature", "we've stepped up", "it's so different" etc. It's not an arrogance thing with us, we just know that our album IS different, yes obviously in metal everyone uses guitars, and having nu-metal vibes and influences doesn't instantly give you a higher chance of being considered “different”, however what we've created and written isn't your everyday metal/rock album, I almost feel we're just a unique pop band rather than a cool metal band. There's a lot of different vibes Interview with Jacob and sounds, I'm waiting for the “you sold out” quote, even though it's our debut record. Every track sounds different, but instantly recognisable as a One Hundred song, even if you don't like us, there'll be one song or moment in this album that will appeal to you.
As it was your debut album, then what targets/goals did you set for yourself when you went into the studio to put the album together? We didn't really, I think if we did give ourselves targets and goals, we wouldn't be writing the music for ourselves and it would be obvious. I think maybe that’s why we have confidence in what we do, we make music which we would want to hear and we're super lucky that we have a growing fan base that think the same. I think a lot of bands probably do have targets when writing maybe their second and third albums, but we know what we're hoping to achieve and intending to do.
What was the hardest part about putting the album together for you guys, and why? Luckily with our style, we're not confined to creating tracks with specific guidelines and bullet points we have to stick to. We try to expand our capabilities by writing things which wouldn't naturally work together. We know that if you're in a metal band you have to have the obligatory breakdown, and have almost a checklist to be considered a good band, otherwise you get “fans” that will instantly slate you for attempting to branch out. We've never had that problem because we're almost limitless when it comes to what we can do.
How would you say the release compares musically to anything else you've done before? I think it still has that raw, aggressive element but it’s now been refined and glossed over with a sleek RnB/ hip hop sound that creates this huge blend of music which really does define us. The EP was a studio record, we wrote it in our bedrooms, and it didn't sound like what we did live, we wanted to create that same energy on record and show just how diverse we can be, not purposely just to prove a point, but our intentions are obvious and it'll show when you listen to it.
How excited are you for your upcoming UK tour, and what can attending fans expect? We're really excited to go back out on the road, I think it's nearly been a year since we last played in the UK, we did the Europe/UK run with Crossfaith in Feb and the EU October tour with Don Broco, so to come back to the UK with the album looming is great, we've chosen big cities that have always treated us nicely, so we're hoping new and old fans come out to hear a lot of new tracks, some golden oldies and enjoy all things One Hundred.
Also, how excited are you for your upcoming slot at Download Festival, and what do you love the most about this iconic festival? Itâ€™s an honour to be back at Donnington, it'll be our second time there, the first holds a very firm place in our heads and hearts. It was a real game changer for us, and the start of bigger things, having a packed tent was definitely a dream of ours, so to achieve that so early and to then be invited back two years later means a lot to us. We'll do them and the fans proud. Letâ€™s. do. this.
Can you give us one or two moments that have really stood out to you since your formation, and a bit about why that is?
Having your songs played on radio is always a wonderful experience, it hits all the nostalgic bones in your body, makes you remember how and when you wrote it and hearing the response from people, especially when itâ€™s positive is even better. Doing the BBC Radio One Maida Vale session was huge for us, along with Reading and Leeds, we've been extremely lucky, and I'm sure many people will probably question how we've achieved it all so quickly, as if we have a magical fairy granting us wishes, we don't. We work hard, try different things and have a great team that help and push us in the right direction.
What else can we expect to see from The One Hundred in 2017? The One Hundred film, autobiography and musical. Coming to a local youth centre near you.
Can you tell us about the formation of Hellions? Hellions formed out of the ashes of a band called The Bride, which had featured 3/5 members of Hellions. Our singer decided to leave but Dre, Anthony and myself wanted to continue playing music. Much of a bands identity lies in the audiences connection with the vocalist and we had grown tired of that band name, so a fresh start in the form of a moniker change was well and truly called for. Enter Hellions!
How did you get to the band name Hellions, and what does it mean to you? Dre came up with the band name, inspired by a verse in the song 'Without Me' by Eminem. A hellion is defined as a cheeky or mischievous young person, which we felt was an apt description of us as a collective at the time. I think we'll always be that way at heart so I don't foresee us regretting our choice - thankfully.
So how did your recent UK tour go? It was a pleasure, thank you. The turn out was greater and the reception was much warmer than we could've expected. We played eight small venues and got to see more of the UK than we've ever seen before. The shows themselves were each a personal highlight as they reminded me of how far the band has come. Very humbling. Every night we got to sit down and have a drink with our new friends Danny, Tank and Casey was a pleasure, too. They were our TM, driver and vibe tech respectively - we made friends for life in them.
Interview with Matt How happy have you been with the feedback to 'Opera Oblivia' so far, and what do you think it has done for the representation of Hellions? Ecstatic. OO has allowed the roots and tendrils of the band to reach territory unprecedented for us. We're being taken seriously in a way that we weren't before.
Can you tell us about some of the main themes and influences that run throughout 'Opera Oblivia'? As per the albumâ€™s title, there was a desire very early in the writing process to cultivate and capitalise on the theatricality that has grown more present in our music as time goes on. We wanted to create something that would endure the test of time a little better than our previous records by virtue of a more classic and grandiose approach to the songwriting. We had Queen and My Chemical Romance at the front of our minds, in particular.
How did the artwork for 'Opera Oblivia' come together, and what does it mean to you? We wanted the artwork to reflect the operatic nature of the record so we based its format on some opera playbills of centuries passed. The androgynous figure of death pictured looming above a man and woman dancing is an allegorical representation of many of the themes explored on the record, lyrically. Pat Fox is the true mastermind behind the recordâ€™s art, check out his other work!
How would you say the sound of Hellions has grown/changed since you first started out? I think it has changed most notably in the aforementioned ways - the style gravitating more and more toward the theatrical. As well as the adoption of simpler, classic approach to song structure.
How did the music video for 'Quality of Life' come together, and what do you want it to mean to your fans? For a while we had the idea of physically representing the inner child that resides within an adult, outside of the adult. In the end we decided upon Anthony's girlfriend Geordie and his younger sister Isabel for the roles they look quite alike, strangely enough! The message of the video is to retain that connection with your inner child.
What was it like to be nominated for an ARIA Award, and what do acknowledgments like this mean to the band? It was perhaps the most humbling moment of our career thus far - to be recognised by the industry in that way is incredible.
What else can we expect to see from Hellions in 2017? Lots of touring and work towards the next record!
Interview with Connor
Can you tell us about the formation of Decade? We knew each other from playing in a handful of local bands that all split up around the same time so naturally we formed this almighty supergroup.
How did you get to the band name Decade, and what does it mean to you? It was the end of the decade at the time, we wanted a band name that was a simple, one- word deal that could work across any number of genres should we decide to branch out at any point. It’s fairly meaningless to be honest but you can’t get anywhere without a name.
What was it like to be an upcoming band in Bath? We didn’t really spend much time in Bath to be fair, after a few venue closures the music scene started to dwindle and we found it hard to generate a real following there for quite a few years. We jumped onto the touring circuit of major UK cities pretty quickly and it’s only in the last year or two that we’ve returned to play more hometown shows - which are always awesome!
For me, Decade have a very unique sound. Can you tell us a bit about how it originally came together? Alex went away for summer camp one year and I think he must’ve got struck by lightning or something, because when he came back, it was all bangers, no mash whatsoever. Ever since then he’s been a songwriting machine!
How did you end up joining Rude Records, and what are they like to work with? We were on their radar for a little while. Rude showed interest in what we were going to be doing next and as we left our previous label we felt that an independent was a great option for us, after coming away from a major we wanted more of a family unit scenario.
So, how did you get to the album title 'Pleasantries' and what does it mean to you? ‘Pleasantries’ is an ironic title (in keeping with the theme of 2014’s ‘Good Luck’) taken from the opening track ‘Human Being’. “Exchanging pleasantries with people you don’t really like / don’t care for what they say / have a nice day”. This is representative of quite a few different things really but one in particular is the who-you-know dynamic within the music industry. Schmooze or you lose.
Can you elaborate on some of the other main themes and influences that run throughout 'Pleasantries’? It’s just 11 songs about what it’s like to exist with a brain that never quits. As for influences, we spent some time recording the album at Rockfield, birth place of a lot of incredible records but a personal favourite of ours ‘(What’s The Story) Morning Glory?’. To live at this studio full of relics was inspiring to say the least and it certainly shaped ‘Pleasantries’.
What was the hardest part about putting 'Pleasantries' together for you guys, and why? Pleasantries was written over the course of a couple years. Life got more and more in the way as we got older and it was a real challenge to get from rough bedroom demos to finished product on the shelf.
How did you end up working with Romesh Dodangoda, and how would you say he helped shape the album? He’s been with us for both our records so it felt natural to work with him again here. We’ve got a great dynamic and understanding and the album certainly wouldn’t be anything like what it is without him.
How did you get involved with Guitar Hero, and what has it been like for you, to be a part of this huge game? Wait, we’re on Guitar Hero?! It’s so awesome to be a part of this franchise, they used Brainfreeze and hopefully they’ll be back for some more. It’s a massive compliment as a guitar-based band to be featured on a video game showcasing guitar music.
How would you say the UK rock scene has grown/changed since you first started out? I don’t think it’s ever really been something we’ve been a part of to be honest. If anything it seems it to be more of an exclusive club now more than ever. If you’re not playing the hot genre, then the scene isn’t arsed.
How excited are you for your upcoming slot at Slam Dunk Festival, and what can attending fans expect? Excited is definitely an understatement, Slam Dunk is easily one of our favourite festivals. I’d say fans can expect a special set from us for the occasion, it’s been a while since we’ve played it so it’s going to be a really good weekend.
What else can we expect to see from Decade in 2017? As much touring as possible, loads of Magic The Gathering and some new music....
Interview with Will
How is your current tour in the US going, and can you give us a couple of personal highlights from touring there since your formation? This tour is going great, we’re out in Detroit this evening and it’s been so much fun looking around the city. Touring with this band has been the best time of our lives, I think highlights would be playing Riot Fest in Chicago with some of our favourite bands, eating vegan food and exploring Berlin with Lelive and touring Europe for the first time with Neck Deep.
How did you get to the album title 'Eternity, in Your Arms', and what does it mean to you? The title is supposed to be something the listener applies their own meaning to, after listening to the record. I think it means something different to each person. I would hate to ruin this puzzle by letting you in on what it means to me!
Can you elaborate on some of the other main themes and influences that run throughout 'Eternity, in Your Arms'? The core themes of this record centre around the point in your life where you are too old to be young but too young to be old. Somewhere in your 20s you reach a point where that teenage optimism the world reserves for the young, runs out. This is the purgatory we found ourselves in while we were writing this record.
How did the awesome artwork for 'Eternity, in Your Arms' come together, and can you tell us a bit about what it means to you? The artwork came about as we were reimagining our hometown of Southampton. It is a hyper stylized version of the real city, as with most of what we do we were hoping to take the mundane and turn it into something more interesting. The styling was influenced by Blade Runner, Baz Luhrmann’s Romeo And Juliet and Neon Noir cinema.
What was the hardest part about putting 'Eternity, in Your Arms' together, and why?
I think the hardest part was trying to put together a piece of art that spanned across multiple media in amongst a heavy touring and press schedule. There was a trilogy of music videos, a huge marketing campaign the band pu together ourselves coupled with the actual composing mixing and mastering. There were some extremely late nights and early mornings working on this project.
How did the music video for 'Black Rain' come together, and can you tell us about the meaning behind the track?
The video is part two of a three part trilogy, it was filmed overnight in our hometown of Southampton. We wanted film it in the same manner as the source material was shot, so as in the production of Blade Runner it was shot i long overnight shoots. As in all of our videos there are some very obvious nods to some of our favourite directors throughout the trilogy.
The song itself is a bitter love song, the opener to the album itself. It was actually one of the last we wrote for the record, but it quickly became apparent it was the best candidate for lead single.
How would you say the sound of Creeper, has grown/changed since the release of 'The Stranger'?
I think on each of the EP’s that lead up to this debut you can notice a progression of sorts. We’ve been flirting wi a lot of different ideas for some time now. Each time as we experimented, our audience responded and supporte us. This gave us a confidence to try some more unconventional ideas on this album, one which we may not have had previously if not for the growing period with the EP’s.
Can you tell us about some of the characters that have featured in your music over the years lyrically, and can we expect this kind of writing style to continue on 'Eternity, in You Arms'?
‘Eternity, In Your Arms’ features all three main characters from our story. They very intentionally mimic the narrat of Peter Pan. We have The Callous Heart, a Lost Boys style gang of youths. The Stranger, a Tic Toc (the crocod character representing time and death. Finally we have James Scythe, our Captain Hook and the character this entire album revolves around.
How would you say you've grown/progressed lyrically since the release of 'The Stranger'? When I’m writing for Creeper I am approaching the work in a very specific way. The lyrics though based around concepts, mimic my real life. I think the main difference between The Stranger and this album is that I’m at a different point in my life now. I’ve been writing songs from the perspective of a Captain Hook character because that is the character I relate to now. I think the writing is probably pretty affected by this technique.
How excited are you for your upcoming headline tour, and what can attending fans expec from the show?
We are extremely excited for the tour coming up, it feels bizarre to be selling out some of these rooms. The Elec Ballroom in London is a venue we’ve been going to since we were kids, to be headlining there is beyond our bel The show will be like nothing we’ve done before, we cannot wait to share our vision with our fans.
What else can we expect to see from Creeper in 2017?
We’ll be playing the mainstage of Download festival, we’ll be returning to America and we’ll be touring in support this new record with great excitement.
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So how did you first get into playing guitar? It’s a great question because I love talking about it. When I was just a young little guy I had a cousin that turned me onto the band KISS, I was basically eight years old or something like that and he played guitar and I loved the sound of hard rock music and turned on that KISS record, it was just a cool sound and I wanted to make that sound too. My cousin let me play the guitar, I wasn’t much of a player obviously, but within a few years I got my own guitar and I was twelve maybe thirteen years old. When my parents split and since I had to watch my younger brothers all the time I ended up practicing sitting on the couch late at night while my mum was working. I ended up teaching myself guitar, listening to all my favourite records by Metallica, Ozzy Osbourne, Black Sabbath and Iron Maiden and that’s how I learned to play guitar just sitting there with my ear trying to mimic the sounds I hear in the chords and stuff.
Life Of Agony have been going for nearly three decades, how would you say the sound of the band has grown since your formation especially given your diverse cross over sound? You know I think we just stay true to who we are as people and individuals and when you get four unique individuals with different influences together in a room some magical things can happen, and if it’s the right combination of people. I think we always had that chemistry from day one with the four of us, but what happens over the years with different records you push and pull in different directions so the records ended up sounding different. You have all these different influences in a room and then it’s of course as you grow and mature individually your taste changes so those influences that you bring to the room change. It’s a constant metamorphous within the band, and I think finally with this record, ‘A Place Where There’s No More Pain’ the band was all on the same page with the type of record that we were going to make. After eleven years the stars finally aligned and here we are with the record that we set out to make. We actually superseded our expectations with this one, so we are very happy and we stand behind it 100%. I think it’s those influences over the years and the maturity of the band that contribute to the sound and the way this particular record came out.
Your upcoming fifth album, ‘A Place Where There's No More Pain’ is out April 28th, what can we expect from this latest release? I tell you what, you can expect all the best elements from Life Of Agony combined finally into one record. You have all the heavy grooves, you have the melodic vocals, catchy songs and no filler music on the record whatsoever, there’s not a song on there that we didn’t stand behind 100%. Anything while we were writing this record was a process and anything we didn’t feel was up to par we just got rid of it, we just said “that’s not good enough to be on this Interview with Joey record.” We were very honest with ourselves, and honest and true with each other, we weren’t putting our feelings in the way, we just said “you know what let’s just make a great record, let’s not get our feelings hurt with each other, we all know when a song is great” and it really worked out nicely, we all worked very hard on the record. It took about a year and a half to make the record, so it’s been a long road but we are so happy that it’s almost time for it to come out and be released to the world.
The release of this new album comes 12 years after your previous album, ‘Broken Valley’, why has there been such a long period in between making albums? We have always had big gaps in our career, I just think it’s where we are as people, again if you were to ask would Life Of Agony put out another record in 2011 I probably would have laughed, just because of the state of the band at that time. We weren’t really on the same page, we were hardly playing so it wasn’t a very bright future in 2011. Things changed when Mina went through her gender transformation and became a much freeer person and happy, and more willing to just keep going and that helped the band tremendously. Having your lead vocalist be very excited about the band always helps. Then we started playing in 2014 and the vibe was great and we felt like friends again, everyone was very tight and close to each other and we put a lot of the baggage behind us from the past and we simplified a lot of things, and it’s been working. People were saying “what about a new record?”. We got some interest, but Napalm (records) just put a really good offer on the table for the band, and we felt like it could be a good thing and we would like to keep going, so we thought it was time for new music. That’s kind of how it naturally unfolded.
Interview with Itch
When did you first get into singing? I have played in bands for many, many years. It was just a case of wanting to get into gigs for free initially. So starting a little band, just being able to get a gig so that we could get in to support other bands. There was never anything I took seriously for many years. I don’t think there was a point where I felt like I wanted to be a singer. I guess I fell into it. I was in the punk scene and that was kind of my life. So just playing in bands was kind of natural.
Also, with the ukulele when did you learn that, and what made you want to pick up such a unique instrument? A friend of mine bought it for me for Christmas, kind of as a joke. He was working at a guitar shop at the time, I just thought it was cool. I self taught it and learnt it a little bit. Again I pretty much fell into it.
And now you are of course pretty good on it! Still definitely working on it, but it’s a lot easier than the guitar/piano, and a lot of other things that I struggle with. It suits me.
How did The King Blues originally form? We did our first album in 2004, so I would say probably 2002/2003. A very long time ago now, and we started off when there was a threat of going to war with Iraq. In our kind of youthful naivety (which I’m not at all ashamed about), we thought that if we made music that brought enough people together, then we could change the world, and maybe stop a war. The older I got, the more I see that that was kind of ridiculous. But I do feel at the same time, if you’re starting a rock 'n' roll band, and you don’t want to change the world, then what’s the point.
The King Blues have a very unique sound, so can you explain how it originally came together? We were playing in really shouty punk bands before and we wanted to do something where the words came first, and people could actually listen to the lyrics. We thought there’s no point in having all of these ideas, and having all of these words, if no one can actually hear them. So the idea was that if we were to go out to protests and play, then we need to able to strip it down to a guitar, ukele and the vocals. We need to do something that doesn’t involve drums. We also found in our acoustic ballads that the idea was a little bit boring, we tried what we could, we tried to take that punk/ska sound, and just do it from acoustics really, it was a bit of trial and error.
When did you first realize that The King Blues was going to be a career lasting band? Since day one we always wanted to be the biggest band in the world. Anyone who doesn’t have that mindset is completely lying. We used to go round, into empty buildings, hook up the electrics and throw parties. That’s when we first started playing gigs, no one would put us on because we were just an acoustic duo. No one cared about that, they thought we sounded like James Blunt or something. So people would come down, just for the party, just for the sake of them being able to go somewhere where they could do what they wanted. Then after a while, they started coming down because of us, instead of the party. That’s when we were like “oh okay, we are onto something.”
So, how did you get to the album title 'The Gospel Truth', and what does it mean? The truth means a lot of different things to a lot of different people. I don’t think it should, it should just be one thing. Truth is almost a personal thing. This album is about self discovery, it’s about getting to know myself. So the idea of ‘The Gospel truth’, is that these lyrics are the most brutally honest that I’ve ever written. Before I guess I’ve been guilty of hiding behind slogans a little bit, hiding behind political ideas, in order to protect myself, not to have to expose myself and make myself vulnerable. With this record it was really about being brutally honest and making myself very vulnerable, so I think that’s where ‘The Gospel Truth’ came from.
What made you want to release ‘Heart of a Lion’ first, and can you explain how the track came together? ‘The Heart of a Lion’ is really about fighting back, it’s about being the underdog, and hitting rock bottom. Realising that you’ve got no where else to go, other than to fight back or to give up, it’s about making that decision. 2016 was an awful year for so many people, and it was probably the worst year of my life. I definitely got to a point where I was incredibly depressed and the idea of a heart of a lion was where I was at a point thinking “Am I going to give up on everything? Or am I going to fight back?” That’s what it’s about. The fight back.
How did you end up working with your very own Mike Moore, and how would you say he helped shape the record? When we first started making this record, we were just doing it without a label. Mike is a friend of mine and he is an incredibly great musician, and so again it just really fell into place. I knew that I wanted this band to be in total control of this record. I didn’t want to be outside with producers coming in saying “Can we change this/that?” I wanted to be totally honest, because brutal honesty was the theme of the record. So it made sense that it was all done in house.
Can you tell us about the formation of Mad Caddies? Most of us were all school mates and the band started when we were still in high school. Being from a rural community, there wasn't a lot going on growing up. So we started jamming in barns.
How did you get to the band name Mad Caddies, and what does it mean to you? It was Fat Mike's idea, it mean't nothing to us at the time, but now it has become a part of us.
When did you first realize that Mad Caddies was going to be a career lasting band? Probably the first time we came to Europe, in 1999. Our first show overseas was in Newport, Wales. A kid brought a dead pigeon to the show and threw it onstage. I wonder what he's up to these days.
How happy have you been with the feedback to 'Dirty Rice' so far, and what do you think it has done for the representation of Mad Caddies? We've been happy with the feedback! It was a fun record to make, we got to experiment with a lot of different styles. And the crowd loves the live versions!
It was your first album in seven years, so looking at the record now, how do you think it compares musically to anything else Mad Caddies have done? It's one of the more laid back records we have made. Looking back, both ‘Dirty Rice’ and ‘Keep it Going’ are great records to throw on at parties, there's something for everyone in there.
Interview with Chuck & Graham
It's been twenty years since the release of 'Quality Soft Core', so looking back on the album, what do you remember the most about putting it together? When we recorded it (which took a total of 3 days) we thought we were making a demo. When Fat Mike heard it, he said "sounds good, record's done."
How excited are you for your upcoming slot at Slam Dunk Festival? We're excited! We've wanted to play Slam Dunk for years and there are some great friends on the bill as well. It's going to be a good party!
Can you give us a couple of personal highlights from performing in the UK over the years? Well the dead pigeon story works here too. One thing that sets the UK apart for us is the enthusiasm of the fans all over the country. It is unique to the UK!
Are you guys working on any new material just yet, if so, what can we expect from it? Yes! We've been recording for a few months and are in the middle of a new record. Fans can expect new singles very soon!
What else can we expect to see from Mad Caddies in 2017? Tons of new music, and select dates around the world! Hoping for a full album release by the fall.
Interview with Aaron
Can you tell us how you first got into playing music? I saw the music video for â€˜Talk Dirty to Meâ€™ by Poison on MTV in the late 80s and I knew then that I wanted to be in a band!
Can you tell us about the formation of Reel Big Fish? A bunch of high school kids got together in a garage one summer day in 1991 and jammed on some Led Zeppelin songs...the rest is history
It's been twenty years since the release of 'Turn the Radio Off'! So, looking back now how happy are you with this album still, and what do you think it has done for the representation of Reel Big Fish? I'm just glad that anybody, anywhere cares about any song I've written! It's pretty amazing that people still want to hear these songs that I wrote decades ago when we were a local band who could barely play our instruments.
What do you remember the most about putting this album together, and how would you say Jay Rifkin & John Avila helped shape the album? It really is all a blur, the recording went so fast I can barely remember it happening! John and Jay really just stepped back and let us do our thing, probably because our band and songs were just so terrible that there really was no way to improve them! It was like "Ok Recording...Ok, well...that's what you guys sound like!"
What was the most challenging part about putting 'Turn the Radio Off' together for you guys, and why? It wasn't hard at all, the songs were already written, it was just a matter of recording them and getting them out to people. Our record label was behind us 100% and everything went as easily and smoothly as possible, like it was all meant to be. The hardest part was deciding whether to call the album "Buy This" or "Turn the Radio Off"
How would you say you've grown/progressed as songwriters since the release of 'Turn the Radio Off'? With each each album and each year that goes by, I get worse and worse...
Has work begun on a new album just yet, if so, what can we expect from it? Yes, we've just finished recording our latest album called "It's Better to be Pissed Off Than Pissed On". It's mostly Nigerian Highlife Music and Bossa Nova and it will be released next month!
How excited are you for your upcoming slot at Slam Dunk Festival, and what can attending fans expect? Words can't describe how incredibly excited we are to be playing Slam Dunk this year, it's always a blast! We'll be playing nothing but our greatest hits so it will be a very unique and different RBF show for the fans this time.
Can you give us a couple of personal highlights from performing in the UK over the years? The UK has always been so amazing to us! The fans have been so supportive and have always treated us so well! At least we think so, we're usually drunk the whole time we're there so it's all a blur...
How would you say ska has grown/progressed since you first started out? The ska scene has grown so huge all over the world, there are more ska bands in more countries than ever! we've played awesome and huge ska festivals on almost every continent! Ska is still going strong and it's pretty amazing to be a part of it.
When did you first realize that Less Than Jake was going to be a career lasting band? When we were able to pay our rent and electric bills and still have a little beer money left over.
Touring wise, what have you already been up to this year, and can you give us a couple of highlights from your time on the road? We are at the end of a six week tour with our friends in the band Pepper! The tour has been amazing. Big crowds and lots of energy every night. Next, we get to go to Japan!
Interview with Chris What has it been like to perform some of the tracks from 'Sound The Alarm' live, and do you ever worry about performing new songs live for the first time? It's been amazing and the response has been overwhelming. Usually people go get a beer when we play new songs but they've actually been sticking around and listening.
Okay, so how did you get to the EP title 'Sound The Alarm' and what does it mean to you? It's a lyric in the chorus of the first song on the record. It had a great ring to it so we decided to go with it.
You've said that "These seven songs could be the soundtrack to that passing moment, from calm to chaos back to clarity." So can you maybe elaborate on that? I'm pleading the 5th because that isn't my quote, itâ€™s from our drummer Vinnie. I think the beauty of these songs is they can mean a lot of different things to different people!
How did the front cover for 'Sound The Alarm' come together, and what does it mean to you? Our drummer came up with the concept. I think it's amazing. To me, the symbols represent a call for freedom.
About a month ago, you guys put out a practice video of you performing a track, which is of course really cool for a fan to watch. So can you elaborate on how you guys normally practice, and maybe how that process has changed/progressed over the years? We don't practice anymore! That video was just for show. We used to rehearse a lot back in the day. We are too busy now, mostly touring like madmen!
How did you join Pure Noise Records', and what are they like to work with? The owner, Jake is a fan from way back and offered to put our new record out. Pure Noise has done an amazing job promoting the record.
How excited are you for your upcoming slot at Slam Dunk Festival, and what can attending fans expect from your set? Super excited! The set is going to be a great mix of old, new and everything in between!
What else can we expect to see from Less Than Jake in 2017? Tons of touring and hopefully recording a new, full length album. Check us out at lessthanjake.com Thanks!
Can you tell us about the formation of Acceptance? The band formed in Seattle back in the late 90s as this sort of odd collection of guys from various teenage local bands. The scene in Seattle at the time wasn't too big, so you'd see and play with a somewhat exhaustable catalog of bands. From there, I think it was pretty much a "birds of a feather" sort of play.
Also, how did you originally get to the band name Acceptance? The name, when it was originally decided upon, really didn't have an substantial imperative or, honestly, any other intention than just what was sort of randomly landed on. And to be fair, I don't think I had given the band's name really much significant thought until we started back up a few years ago. What had happened when we reformed, and continues to happen every time we're together, for me, is this process of appreciation and consideration. The name now gets caught up in that crazy process for me, and I think it's this perfectly cliché thing. Meaning, after a decade of being apart and growing in different directions, there are wildly different people in this band with different perspectives, philosophies, views. We are this sort of silent operation of acceptance every time we interact. So, yeah I think the name is cliché but it's also perfect. We generally talk about "cliché" as this bad thing, but sometimes it isn't. This might be one of those times for me.
So, what made you guys want to break up in 2006? You know that scene in Top Gun where Cougar has to give up his wings because he was holding on too tight and lost the edge? You know, in a sense, we were holding on too tight in certain spaces of our career at the time. I think there was maybe this dangerous mixture of youthful naivety, stubborn will and force, and outrageous drive and expectation that we carried with us and set us up for a fall. After disappointments continued to stack up against us with ‘Phantoms’, there was this calm moment when I think the band realized it had lost its edge. Hearts were no longer in it, everything felt mechanical. I think we lost what we were fighting for - to make music that could change people and make a difference.
When did you realize that it was time to get the band back together, and personally, what was that whole process like for you?
view with Ryan
I was probably one of the more patiently hopeful guys in the band when it came to considering a reunion. I'm not much in the camp of believing in fate or cosmic destiny, but I did have a feeling that it would be inevitable. I'm not sure why I carried that thought for so many years, but it had always sat in a quiet corner of my mind. For me, I felt unsatisfied with how things were left, and I felt that we owed something to the folks who never had a chance to see us live. When those first few text messages between the band started to send, I just thought to myself, "Finally." It was one of the most rewarding feelings I've ever had.
How did you end up working with Pledge Music, and how rewarding was that whole experience for you guys? We had heard about Pledge from a few people in bands as well as our manager, Kyle. As we began the demoing and recording process, the cash from the first few shows we did when we came back was going quickly at the time because we were literally funding everything ourselves. We knew we needed help to bring this record to life, and after a few calls with the Pledge team, it just seemed like an awesome way for us to make our fans stakeholders in our record and get the project done. So, for that, to have this record complete, to see all of the support we've been given through our Pledge campaign, it has been wildly rewarding.
Did you ever worry about how it would be in the studio? Working together again after so much time apart? No, not really. Everything had felt like home from those first few rehearsals we had before our first shows back on to the writing and studio work. More than anything, we were just thrilled to be back in a studio working together. It all felt very natural and like the perfect thing to be doing.
Can you tell us about who produced the record, and maybe how they helped shape the record? ‘Colliding’ was produced by Aaron Sprinkle, who had also produced our ‘Black Lines to Battlefield’ EP and our full length ‘Phantoms’. As with those earlier works, Aaron provides so many of these "A-Ha" moments of clarity and expansion. He is the 6th member of this band, and his guidance and ingenuity has made us better writers. As far as the shape of this record, Aaron's fusion with us and our whole vision was just magic. We knew where we wanted to go, capturing feeling and landscape, and he was the vehicle and road we needed to get there.
What's it been like to tour as Acceptance once more, compared to maybe how tour life was back in the 00s? It's different. It's vacant of those pressures and stresses that were so prevalent when the band was our full time career back then. We approach and treat our touring so differently now as older people who genuinely love being around one another. I think more than anything, we are so much more aware of our mortality, if that makes sense. There is a fundamental appreciation of our opportunities and experiences and the other people we share those things with now.
Okay, so how did you get to the album title 'Colliding by Design', and what does it mean to you? The album title was a line Jason had written for the title track, and when we all heard it it seemed to click perfectly in place. In one line there was this whole thing, this whole rebirth and new collection of songs and all the history and all the renewals of friendship and love. Our getting back together was a collision of all that stuff, and so that line just captured it all.
Can you elaborate on some of the main themes and influences that run throughout 'Colliding by Design'? Where I think this record does a good job is in demonstrating this sort of collective maturity. Lyrically, there is much more thematic contemplation and reflection and selfawareness as it plays into the concept of love. Musically, we wanted to set stages or vignettes that gave Jason's words as much thematic support as possible. The word "landscape" kept consistently being used during this whole process because we had this vision of setting up unique places of feeling and understanding.
What made you want to release 'Take You Away' first on your comeback, and can you tell us about the meaning behind the track? When we got back together and announced the shows, we thought it'd be really cool to release a new song for everyone. It felt like a great opportunity to flex our writing together for the first time, so we set to getting the track done. For me, I think from a lyrical perspective, the song talks about this band, who we are, how we got here, and why we're doing this.
What was the most challenging part about putting an album together for the first time in over a decade? Really, the most challenging part was navigating our schedules and locations. We relied heavily on a lot of digital back and forth (heavens bless Dropbox), which was out of the comfort zone we had known years before. We learned a lot from the production of this record, and I think we'll be able to fine tune our new model for future music.
Looking back on 'Phantoms' how happy are you with this album still, and what do you think it has done for the representation of Acceptance? When I look back on the record and really listen to it, I feel wildly satisfied. I think we did something with ‘Phantoms’ that stood up to the trends that came and went over time. To me, the record only feels dated because I've had so much history with it. But, perhaps objectively, most of the record doesn't feel out of place even today. As far as the reputation of Acceptance, ‘Phantoms’ was everything. It's the reason we are here talking right now about a new Acceptance record, in a lot of ways. By whatever weird twists and weavings of fate, ‘Phantoms’ found a real home with our fans who carried the record on 10 years later and grew the band when the band didn't exist. So fortunately, it gave us a platform to continue on with ‘Colliding’.
What else can we expect to see from Acceptance in 2017? You can expect as many live shows as we're able to play and some looks into the next record we hope. We're thrilled and humbled to have this opportunity and we have absolutely zero desire to slow down this year!
Can you tell us about how The Early November first got together?Â Ace: Oh this takes us back to those good old days. The year was 2000, I did a bunch of acoustic things and had a band that came into the studio in my parents basement. It just so happened to be Jeff and Sergio. It was their band, I quickly stole them, and we acquired guitar players Joe & Bill later down the road. Basically it all started just by making songs and stealing people!
Joe: Ace and I played in a band beforehand together, that band fizzled out. So we put together a dream team of the greatest players within an eight mile radius. Ace and I live less than a mile apart. The other two live less than one mile apart, and we live about eight miles from where they lived. We just all came together. So thatâ€™s that origin story.
Bill: I didnâ€™t officially get involved as a band member until 2005!
What was it like to be an upcoming band in New Jersey? Ace: It was different times back then, that’s for sure. This was years ago, you are going back 15-16 years. It was a totally different world to what it is now. It wasn’t the same as it is to be a young band nowadays. It was exciting, and everything was happening. It was really exciting to just play a show, because where we are from, it wasn’t like a city. You weren’t getting shows every night, or even able to go. It was like playing every weekend as much as you could. It was cool, we had a cool little scene.
When the band started to get serious, were you walking away from much work-wise in your life, and also, what was that whole time like for you? Ace: I delivered newspapers and flowers up until we got signed. So it wasn’t like anything crazy that we were walking away from. When we got signed I was 19 Joe was 18.
Joe: Yeah I was working at a music store, I don’t think anybody was doing anything of any interest. But from the inception of the band to getting signed wasn’t really that long of a time.
Ace: Yeah, like a year or two. Joe: It was just a matter of playing local shows, which you certainly don’t need
to quit a job for. But at that time the scene in Southern New Jersey/Philadelphia was so strong that you didn’t need to tour. Every weekend, even if the band weren’t playing you could go and see any number of bands before they became much bigger bands. Like the band Coheed & Cambria in a VFW hall, Saves The Day in a basement. We played with The Starting Line in a house. They weren’t those bands at the time, they were just other bands. I guess Saves The Day were. But you didn’t really have to quit much. You could just bum around New Jersey and Philadelphia, and be a part of it. It was pretty ew with Ace, Joe and BIll incredible, at that time.
What was your first ever tour in the UK like, and what do you remember the most from this time? Joe: So many things, we shared a bus with the band Home Grown. That in itself is another story to be told. It was Meat Loaf’s previous bus. The UK was having some sort of heatwave. It was so hot, and there was no AC on the bus. We had a very mean tour manager who just yelled at us. She was very mean. Her and her boyfriend kind of ran the touring company that brought us on tour. Otherwise I just remember being like mind blown with the small differences, like the way people say different words for different things, and the subtle differences with the tastes in food. That stuff was just really cool to me. I went to McDonalds a bunch the first time I was here, not realizing how good the food actually is in this country. There’s a huge tradition of middle Eastern food, which is something that I didn’t eat at the time.
Bill: Back then I felt that the food was really bland. The food is not bland to me anymore, and I think it’s because I ate so many sweets back then, so I was used to that sort of diet!
What's it been like to rehearse for The Mother, the Mechanic, and the Path tour then, and have there been any songs from the album in particular that you have found really interesting to re-visit? Ace: It’s really cool to have to learn all of the songs again. Because there are just so many of them. One cool one that I’ve really enjoyed playing from the album is ‘From Here To LA’. We never really play that one. Also with ‘Outside’, this was the first tour that we ever played it on. It was really cool to re-visit those songs, and have a chance to play them. That album has some of our more popular ones. So it’s really cool.
It's a big album, so obviously you can't play it all through live, what was the process like, when it came to creating the set list for the show? Ace: We tried to just figure out what the crowd favourites are from it, and just go from there. We’ve been playing a big variety from it, and I think when we first put the setlist together, we didn’t want it to be boring or anything. We couldn’t play everything, because it would just be far too long. We just tried to take all of the highlights and play those.
So looking back on the album, what made you originally want to have a triple disc album? Ace: At the time I really wanted to do something that was different, and that would be very hard to accomplish artistically and musically, and I think it was just at a time, where for myself I wanted to have to push boundaries. My own boundaries in writing. I just didn’t want to do something that was easy to do. At the time maybe it felt a little bit rough, but it’s been a blessing to live with. It’s really cool to look back at it now and be able to say “yeah, this was awesome” because no one else has ever made an album like that. It’s pretty cool to be able to say that. I think we just wanted to show that we could do a little bit more than what everybody expected from us.
You worked with Chris Badami once more, so how did you originally end up working with him, and how would you say he helped shape the release? Joe: He did a record for a band called Lanemeyer, and his name was on that. From that moment on he was like, they guy to go too, because he then did the Midtown EP, The Starting Line EP, A Dillinger Escape Plan record before us. He was just a guy that was doing a lot of records at the time. The scene kind of exploded around him. We went to him, and he became a life long friend. He was at the show that we played in New York a couple of months ago. We learned a lot from him, and he is just a great guy. It was really comfortable to record with him, and he was fun to be around. A real pleasure.
The Path part of the album is very unique to listen to with its psychiatry session, so can you tell us about how the idea for that disc came together, as well as how you think it balances out the album overall? Ace: It was a long process, and there were a lot of different versions that I had made. I spent a lot of time, when we were in tracking the album in one of the random closets with my computer open and sort of making it there! It was done in hotel rooms, the attic of my house. I had so many different versions. I had a visual version that went along with it. It was like a long process. But I eventually made it there.
On this record there's piano, french horn, trumpet, cello, trombones and much more. So for you, what would you say was the most exciting arrangement to put together on the album, and why? Ace: The strings were my favourite to apply to the songs. Just because the guy who did the strings was a fun quirky type of guy who was cool to be around. We would always have the same trio of cello, viola and violin people come in and perform it. Their work is on like half of the songs. It was always really cool to put that stuff in.
This one's for Ace, can you tell us about how the artwork came together for The Mother, the Mechanic and the Path, as well as what it means to you now when you look back on it? Ace: Yeah I just wanted figures that could represent each part of the album. The pureness of the mother and the more engineered defined part of the mechanic. The Path being like a confused shroud of both of them.
How did you come up with the idea for 'Fifteen Years'? Joe: That idea actually came from our booking agent Mike Marquis. He suggested the idea to us, we then kind of ran with it, and executed it. Greatest hits is like a dumb thing, unless you’re Fleetwood Mac. So it was like, how can we go back and re-visit the entire catalogue in a way that looks at it currently/presently, but also in a way that shows how the band first started, which is acoustic based music. The acoustic EP was released alongside our first EP, so there’s always been a tradition of that stuff. Whether it was really implied or not, it’s always been a part of the band, to have this element to it. It’s just nice to go back and have different versions of these songs. We did an acoustic tour, the three of us, back in 2014, and had to re-work the songs, like ‘The Mountain Range In My Living Room’ and ‘Frayed In Doubt’ songs that don’t really feel like they would work. That was a really fun tour. It was kind of like a version of that. Ace did all of the recording. On my end, that was kind of the idea of what to do with it.
Looking back on 'Imbue' how happy are you with this album still? Joe: Hands down the best record that we made. Every band always says that their newest record is their favourite or the best one. I’m doing the same thing. But I truly do believe it. That record came out when Spotify was sort of where everything was going. One of the songs ‘Narrow Mouth’ has fortunately been added to a lot of really big play-lists. If you don’t know the band, and you search for The Early November, then it looks like ‘Narrow Mouth’ is our most popular song. In reality it’s not. But for someone who would of just heard the band on Spotify, you have this whole new way to reach people, who maybe would of never heard your band before. Because you’re on a rock play-list, they come across your band, and potentially we make fans from it. In that way I think it’s been a really great record, it’s reached a whole lot of new people.
How did ‘Narrow Mouth’ come together, and can you tell us about its meaning? Ace: With that one I wrote a part of the movement in the song, and then a drum beat. Jeff came over, and then I showed him that. That was how it was born at least. The melody, when we have songs ready to go I’ll come up with an idea of how it should move at first, and melodically what the song is going to do. I remember that day I did a bunch of them, and that one I ended up liking and showing to Jeff. He is usually the first one to hear everything. I played the idea for him. He takes every idea, and knows exactly what to do, he is funny like that. Five hours later the song was recorded. With the meaning behind the song it’s about hanging on to something, but not being something that you have to.
How does recording a record now compare to how you would do it in the 00s? Joe: Ace does it all, he is the producer, and the engineer, so that’s a lot different. We don’t over think things any more. When it comes to ‘Imbue’ at least two/three of them, were written in real time. We were like “this feels cool” we just learnt more about recording/music and what makes sense. With ‘Imbue’ it was fun to write, and they feel a little bit loose on the record.
Ace: Yeah, we don’t spend too much time taking away the innocence of the part, flaws. Accept that it doesn’t sound perfect, and that it might be a little square around the edges. We embrace that.
What else can we expect to see from The Early November in 2017? Joe: We don’t have to plans to play any shows for a while. We toured a lot more in 2016 than we intended. With 2017 we are already now twelve shows deep which seems like already more than we had planned. Chances are we’ll probably end up doing a few more shows this year. In the States.
Ace: I think we are just going to take time, to let everything re-centre, and then make something again. It’s one of those things where it’s sort of like, you’ve just got to get hit by the right thing. None of us are like “we need to go and make a record right now.” We are at a point in our lives where it’s very convenient. When it feels like it’s the right time, and we’re all most importantly inspired to make something then we’ll make the right thing.
How did you get to the album title 'More Scared Of You Than You Are Of Me', and what does it mean to you? It’s a line from a song on the album! The full line is “I am absolutely, infinitely more scared of you than you are of me.” To me it means a lot of things. It’s something people say about scary animals, like if you see a bear in the wild you are supposed to yell and make yourself big because, despite how it looks, the animal is normally more scared of you than you are of it. I relate to that a lot, I look big and intimidating but in reality am very fragile! It’s also a metaphor for the relationship that inspired the album. I was a lot more scared of her than she was of me!
In regards to the lyrics, we've read that a lot of this record was written while you were on the road. So can you tell us about that, as well as how you think you've grown/progressed lyrically with 'More Scared Of You Than You Are Of Me'? I’ve been concentrating a lot on using less words to communicate my point. I can tend to get pretty rambly and I’ve worked a lot on streamlining those thoughts while still being conversationable and personable. I have also worked very hard on portraying intensity and passion in ways that aren’t just screaming at 100 miles an hour.
Also, musically how would you say you've grown/progressed on 'More Scared Of You Than You Are Of Me'?
Interview with Wil
The four of us have played a few hundred shows between the new album and the last, so we’ve become tighter as a band and as individual players. I also learn so much about guitar tones and just sound in general every time we record. We did a lot of demoing and pre-production before this album so we honed a lot of those tones before even going into the studio. Then being in the studio was about fine tuning them until everything sat perfectly and sounded exactly how it sounded in my head. That’s something you learn from recording, the more prepared you can be before going into the studio the better.
How did the music video idea for 'Birthdays' come together, and what was it like to work with Neal Walters? That was all Neal! He’s a very clever and visually talented person. And a lovely fella to boot! He came to us with this crazy idea about a music video where a robot acts as a surrogate parental figure for a kid and then we watch the two of them grow up together and we were all into it! He got bonus points because we got to do a music video that didn’t star us... we are all pretty awkward on camera, ha!
Also, ‘Death To The Lads’ featured all of your mums, so again, how did idea come together, and what was it like to work with Neal Walters on this music video? This one was as much out of necessity as anything else! We needed to make a music video but none of us were in the country! So we talked about having a surrogate band play us, maybe get some of our friends to dress up as us or something. Then Fitzy, our bassist, came up with the idea of getting our mums to play us and it all snowballed from there!
What was the hardest part about putting 'More Scared Of You Than You Are Of Me' together for you guys, and why? To be honest, none of it was too hard for me! We did a lot of tracking live, which meant spending about a week playing for 10+ hours a day trying to get the songs perfect, but that’s fun in its own nightmarish way. To be honest, I love recording. I love making music, it’s why I got into making music, so being able to spend a month in a gorgeous studio with my best friends who also happen to be very talented musicians is pretty perfect!
How did the artwork for 'More Scared Of You Than You Are Of Me' come together, and what does it mean to you? The artwork was a collaboration of Chris Cowburn, our drummer and graphic designer extraordinaire, and Steve Baker, our mate and graphic designer extraordinaire. It’s a photo of me that has been painted over in different colours. There’s a line on the album about being “a building of a person” and that’s what initially inspired the cover. Like all these things go into making a person, some are beautiful some are ugly, some fit and some don’t but when you look at someone you just see the combined jumble of these ideas.
How did you end up working with Jeff Rosenstock, Jack Shirley, John Agnello, Greg Calbi, and how would you say they helped shape the album? Jeff produced our last album and is one of our best friends. He is a genius, he brings punk energy and atmospheric sounds and operatic chord changes and all these different things. He’s basically an ideas machine and also just a great person to be around. Jack is an engineer that we all admire who had worked with Jeff, as well as other mates of ours, and came very highly recommended. John Agnello mixed some of our favourite sounding albums by some pretty incredible bands, The Hold Steady, Dinosaur Jr, Sonic Youth to name but three, and also was the sweetest person you could hope to meet. The big thing that made us choose John and Jack was that they’d both made a lot of great sounding records but none of the records sounded the same. We wanted people who would get the best sound out of us they could rather than people who would make us sound like them. Oh and Greg Calbi mastered a little album called ‘Born To Run’ by Bruce Springsteen so we had to use him.
Also, how did you end up putting the album together at the Panoramic House, Stinson Beach, California, and what was it like to create music so far away from home? We were doing lots of trawling through studios online when Jeff brought the idea to us. He’d just found the place and was recording his own album there beforehand, so he was our guinea pig, haha! I am so glad he found it! It was the most beautiful, inspiring place to make music! We’re always away from home so being away doesn’t affect me too much anymore. To be honest I feel as at home in America as I do in Australia. We just wanted to record somewhere that we could also live at. It’s important to us to be able to completely surround ourselves in what we are making when we are making it.
How did Pool House Records come together, and what has it been like to run alongside the band? It was something we’d spoken about doing for a long time and the time just seemed right to do it for this record. It’s been a challenge but a very rewarding one. It’s not like we ever didn’t have control at Poison City but being able to completely run things on our own terms makes sense to us, we’re all kind of control freaks! And the excitement and reward for me is all about what we can do for other bands, we have started looking into people to sign and bands that we want to work with and the thought of helping create a community is very inspiring to me.
What else can we expect to see from The Smith Street Band in 2017? A load of touring.
Interview with C Can you tell us a bit about how Beartooth originally found their unique sound? As I was growing into my later teenage years, and into my early twenties I got more into like heavier stuff, thrash, and hardcore. I still love choruses, and good catchy tunes. So I guess it’s just a mash of everything that I like. High energy.
When did you first realize that Beartooth was going to be much more than just an upcoming band. Was there a specific moment maybe? One of the craziest moments so far was playing Download Festival on the main stage. Just playing to like an endless sea of people was really exciting. Hopefully it carries on.
How did your recent UK tour go, and can you give us a couple of personal highlights from your time on the road? The UK tour was amazing. The shows were all really good. Kicking it off in London, was obviously a huge bonus. Shepherds bush is obviously an amazing venue. The highlights probably include Glasgow as that was one of the craziest shows we’ve ever played, in general.
Looking back on 'Aggressive', how happy have you been with the feedback to the album so far, and what do you think it has done for the representation of Beartooth? It seems that the feedback has been pretty good. The shows have also been pretty good. We are all having a really good time out here, and I’m really happy with how it turned out. That’s all you can really ask for when it comes to representing a band. It’s just an honest record, and it’s fun to play live.
What songs are you still really enjoying performing live from 'Aggressive' at the moment, and why? ‘Sick of Me’ is probably my favourite song to perform of ‘Aggressive’ just because it’s really fun to sing. It’s a little bit of a different vibe. ‘Aggressive’ and ‘Hated’ are also really fun. I think more so, the fun part for me is the singing and the melodies. It’s really enjoyable. Seeing the crowd get really involved always helps.
How did the artwork for 'Aggressive' come together, and what does it mean to you? The artwork is just photo based. It’s half me covered in black blood stuff, and half a wolf. It’s just trying to represent what the record means in the best visual representation we can. Which is that everybody has an inner side that is a lot more pissed off, and wild.
Which Beartooth music video would you say has been the most fun for you to be a part of, and why? The most fun music video, was probably for the ‘The Lines’. We got to smash a bunch of stuff, and that was really cool. Ended up smelling really terrible after about four hours of baking in the sun. But it was just a lot fun. We got to work with Drew Russ who is a very good friend of ours, and a great director. It was very enjoyable.
How excited are you for your upcoming slot at Slam Dunk Festival, and what can attending fans expect?
Of course, we’re extremely excited for Slam Dunk. It is going to be cool to be playing on the stage Caleb we’re playing on. We have a great slot, and we are going to try and bring all that we can. Fans can expect a fast pace, and high energy show. We are going to try and cram as much rock n roll into a short period of time as we can.
How would you say touring in the UK compares to touring in the states? It really depends, country to country, it differs a little bit. But it’s more so city to city. The UK can always be counted on to be very loud. Really good singing voices. That’s probably the main thing that’s always there in the UK.
Which band has been the most the rewarding for you to tour with, and why? I don’t know if I can pick one band, that’s kind of tough. We toured with Silverstein and we became really good friends, they are some of our best friends ever. So that was really rewarding. We are on our second time touring with Bring Me The Horizon right now, and I’d say that these are some of the best shows we’ve ever played as a support band. We’ve got to tour with Slipknot, which was also one of the coolest support tours we’ve ever done. It’s hard to put my finger on one!
What else can we expect to see from Beartooth in 2017? A whole lot of touring. Just playing show after show. Trying to promote the record, and have a strong finish to the touring cycle for the record. You can expect some more singles to get pushed off the album. Make sure to come check us out whenever we’re around.
Interview with Alfie
So what made you guys want to call it a day? We feel that after 10 years and five albums it's just time for an indefinite break.
How would you say the rock scene in the UK has grown/changed since you guys first started out? For the scene we came from the bands have a achieved a hell of a lot. Headlining huge venues, touring worldwide, having songs on day-time radio. A lot of WATO's peers these days are looking to put their own stamp on the rock scene and do something original, hopefully it continues to grow and people support the bands staying true to themselves.
So looking back on 'Ark' how happy are you guys with this album still, and what do you think it has done for the representation of We Are The Ocean? Very happy. This was a big milestone for us. We took our time recording it. We had grown up a lot as people since the albums previously and I think this album captures a band really bearing themselves. It has a live band production sound so we had to be tight and the addition of string compositions on some tracks. It's ambitious and, like all our music, very personal.
What songs are you still really enjoying performing live from 'Ark' at the moment, and why? ‘Ark’, ‘Do It Together’, ‘Good For You’, ‘Holy Fire’. They work well in the live set alongside the earlier material. They've got great energy, you can really sing-along with these, we're guilty of this, it’s WATO's way. Plus, the band lay down some face-melting chops that kick you into next year.
When you look back over your career with We Are The Ocean, what do you think you have learnt the most? A case of beers every night can possibly lead to alcoholism.
What was the hardest part about being We Are The Ocean over the last couple of years? We struggled financially. Touring can be expensive and we had a lot of bad luck getting fines for over-weight vehicles because we'd need to take our equipment to places. That can make it difficult to continue to get out and play shows.
How would you say the sound of the band progressed since you first started out? Before we were labelled as post-hardcore, now people call us British rock. I think the band sound progressed at the rate we all progressed individually and each album we're all a bit more older and wiser.
How excited are you for your upcoming shows at Slam Dunk Festival, and what can attending fans expect? We can't wait, Slam Dunk has always been a laugh and a great time for us. It has captured our growing years as a band. Who knows, probably some of those bits from the early days will come out and we'll all sing â€˜Save Me! Said The Saviourâ€™. We'll find out on the day.
How hard has it been for you guys to put together a set list for these shows? In all honesty, not extremely difficult. We've heard what the fans want to hear and we always have a pretty good idea of what we want to play. It's been a matter of making sure we get everything in there, for everyone and also, how those songs sound together. So far so good, we're all really enjoying playing everything.
Can you give us one or two shows that really standout in your memory from performing in the UK? There's been so many. I'm so happy that we played the Astoria with The Blackout before it was knocked down, it's a legendary venue for people our age. Opening the main stage at Reading Festival was another big moment, there were pre-show nerves as it was such a big stage and all of us had been to the festival as punters before, it was surreal and when we took a picture after you can see the grins on all of our faces.
What advice would you give to any upcoming band out there? It's all yours so own it!
What can we expect to see from you after We Are The Ocean play their final show? I'm going to take a step back and have a look around, being in We Are The Ocean has been a roller coaster and if I could do it all again I probably would.
Can you elaborate on some of the other main themes and influences that run throughout 'Modern Ruin'? The entire record is about relationships. With our loved ones, our family and friends, our enemies and even strangers. It's about being so close to something that you sometimes feel like a spectator, and it's about the times when being a spectator makes you feel something more.
How did you end up working with Thomas Mitchener again, and how would you say he helped shape the album? We wanted the opportunity to make something vastly different to â€˜Blossomâ€™. It seemed like he was the perfect person to do that with as we all knew we had more to give.
How did you end up working with Jake Chapman for the 'Wild Flowers' music video, and what was he like to work with? Jake is hilarious, intelligent and sometimes absolutely terrifying to work with. We met on the internet and one day I asked if he would shoot a video for me and he just said yes. I gave him the full budget and told him to do whatever he wanted with it.
How did the artwork for 'Modern Ruin' come together, and what does it mean to you? I asked dean if we could use photos and he said no as "there is no magic in it" apparently. I told him to find the magic in the most banal photos I could take using only my iPhone. It was kind of a challenge to him. He nailed it. He converted the images into text files, then hacked the text files using our lyrics and converted the reworded text files back into images and the resulting images were these beautiful fractured kaleidoscopic versions of the original. He messaged me back and wrote "Magic found". He's a very intelligent friend to have.
What was the hardest part about putting 'Modern Ruin' together, and why? We wrote it in 2015, recorded it in 2016 and released it in 2017. The hardest part was waiting for it to come out!
The album reached the top 10 in the UK! So how rewarding has that been for you, and what do chart positions personally mean to you? Numbers mean very little to me. That said, I never in my life thought I would have a top ten record. It meant a lot to my family I think, and it definitely helps our position within the industry. We are an independent band so Itâ€™s nice to be the one rattling the cages, instead of being in the cage.
What else can we expect to see from Frank Carter & The Rattlesnakes in 2017? World domination.
Interview with Joe and Dave When did Mallory Knox first form? Joe: So we started in 2005, very early. We didn’t really get serious until later on in the year because basically what happened was when we started jamming Mikey went off travelling for five months.
How did you get to the band name Mallory Knox, and what does it mean to you? Joe: It means nothing essentially. That’s the real answer. We decided early on that we wanted a persons name. At the time every indie band was called “the” something and every sort of scene band was like “tears of the bloodlit skyline” and just rubbish like that. We wanted to avoid that thing of seeing us on a poster and going “right, well they’re this genre”. So we felt like a persons name kind of eradicates that. We always thought like a name like Billy Talent was quite cool, as you have no idea what genre it will be. We thought to make it even a bit weirder, as we are an all male five piece, what about if we have a girls name? It was just going through some names that we liked. It’s from the film Natural Born Killers, but that doesn’t have any relevancy either. It’s really dull. Dave: I think one of us watched it at some point, and was like “maybe we should just call ourselves Mallory Knox”, and we were like “actually that sounds fairly cool.” Joe: Yeah, it looked good on the t-shirt! Dave: You sometimes find as well that people would think Mallory Knox is a solo acoustic artist. Then these five lads turn up all tatooed up, and they’re like “what the hell is going on?”
Can you tell us about what it was like to be an upcoming band in Cambridge? Joe: Quite isolated, and quite lonely. There was nothing really there to support us. When we were in older bands there used to be a magazine called Repeat magazine. They used to put on local gig nights, and in our old bands that is what we used to play. These Repeat nights, every Monday, at these pubs in Cambridge. When Mallory started, that sort of disappeared. There was nothing like that. It really forced us to get off our arse and go and tour. Which in the end, turned out to be a good thing. Pretty much from the get go, we were out in the van on the road. Which is really valuable. If you have a strong local scene, it’s quite easy to fall into the trap of playing the “piss & whistle” every Friday night. Whereas we were like “right, if we want to play this weekend, then the only places we can play are Sheffield, Glasgow, Birmingham.” We had to just go out and do it. That really sped up getting a nationwide fan base. We never drew massively, but we were known elsewhere. We played with bands in different regions, who would draw tickets, and they would do us favors, put us on gigs etc. It was good!
When did you first realize that Mallory Knox was going to be a career lasting band? Dave: It was like when we started to regularly get tours. We were all working in jobs at the same time. You could see there was more momentum in the amount of tours that we were getting, and then by the end of it, we all sort of turned around, and thought that we should just probably quit our jobs and just see if we can concentrate on this! And the fact that we ran out of holiday... Joe: I remember, because the first tour that we ever did was with a band called Nevermeansmaybe. So we played in Norwich with them, and they liked us, they were doing a tour, and just wanted us to come along, so it was like “yeah, great!” I remember going into that tour, and going “shit, once this is over, I might never tour again” We had nothing booked, but then all of a sudden, that worry started to go away because the calendar was just chocca. I suppose that’s the moment when we were no longer worried about where the next gig was coming from any more. We were a regularly touring band. We weren’t making any money, we were just busy, and it was great.
Let's fast forward a bit now then. Following the end of your UK tour in 2015 you've said that you were under stress, and feeling a bit adrift. So can you tell us a bit about that time for Mallory Knox? Joe: Well we just came back from a mad year of touring. We spent a long time in America, that year, as we did the whole of the Warped Tour. We also did a huge tour at the start of the year. Plus we did South By Southwest. So we were coming home from America, landing on the day, and then headlining festivals in the UK. It was a very busy time, and I think it bred a bit of a mentality where we didn’t want to do anything. We wanted to stay at home. Which in hindsight was bad. We feel like we’ve been away for too long, and we feel like the new record took too long to come out. I know some of the members in the band went through different stuff, which has been addressed on the new album. But for me, personally speaking, the stress just came from us not wanting to be on the road anymore. I was like “I’m done, I need a few months on my own”. I’m glad it’s turned around now because off the back of it, it’s probably the hardest working Mallory to date. Dave: 100%. I think like Joe said, obviously we just needed a bit of time off. But also it got to the point where we had time to think about writing as well. Like between ‘Signals’ and ‘Asymmetry’ we really didn’t have that much time, but we got it done. Whereas with this one, we had like ample amount of time to write songs. And that’s why we think that this album is the best we’ve ever done. Because we actually had time to have the thought process and conversations about how certain parts of a song could go. I feel like it was bad in a way, because you do worry about dropping off the radar a little bit, but in terms of songwriting, and being a band, it was great in terms of like what we’ve got on this album. It’s swings and roundabouts really. Joe: We got a good record out of it. But I think in like terms of feeling refreshed, in the end it ended up taking too long. All of us would of loved it if the album came out six months ago, before Christmas. For this to be our first UK headline tour since October 2015 is just ridiculous. We’re a band that loves touring. It’s been way too long, and that’s the reality of it. Like Dave said it helped with the writing because we had a real dedicated time. But the album has been recorded since July of last year, so from the second half of the year, to the first quarter of this year. It needed to hurry up really.
Can you tell us about some of the first tracks that came together for ‘Wired’? ‘Giving It Up’ and ‘California’? Joe: ‘Giving It Up’ was the first one where we fully took the chains off, and where it felt like a new sound for the album. I think ‘California’ came first, which is lyrically influenced by our time on Warped Tour. Soundwise, not so much, I loved doing Warped Tour, and we had a great time on it, but I do feel quite disconnected from the sound of it. We don’t really consider ourselves a Warped sounding band, which is no disrespect to the bands that are on it. We consider ourselves more a rock band than a scene band. I know a lot of people don’t, but we do. ‘Giving It Up’ was the first time where we thought “you know what, we don’t consider ourselves part of this, let’s embrace it.” It’s so rock, and so different. We broke out some mad effects, and all of that. The vocals are really angry, and honest. It takes direct aim at the people that have let us down over the last few years. Because in any big thing, management, label, you do have people that you feel are dragging their feet, and not doing their job for you. It was super organic like all of our songs. We don’t write on laptops, we don’t write away from each other. It’s always in a room. We jam together, it’s quite old school. It’s quite funny actually I was speaking to a band we know, and I was saying that we don’t use laptops, and they were like “you don’t use laptops? How do you write songs?” I was like, “what do you mean, how do we write songs?” We play our guitars and Dave jumps on the kit, and we write a song. Even though it wasn’t the first song we wrote, it was the first song that immediately jumped out to us as “this should be the first single, this is Mallory now.” If you liked us before, that’s great, but we’re taking it this way. I know a lot of fans expect the same record over and over, but we felt like we couldn’t stand still. We really wanted to push the boat out. We really wanted to make a statement with this record, and “Giving It Up” felt like the perfect first step to do that, and that’s why we went with that.
Okay, so how did you guys get to the album title 'Wired' and what does it mean to you? Joe: Well it was a song title to start with. A lot of the themes lyrically on the album are about not feeling yourself, issues with mental health. Essentially not feeling quite right ever, always having these little burdens. We felt that ‘Wired’ summed that up perfectly. That feeling of being on edge all of the time is how we felt towards the end of the ‘Asymmetry’ touring cycle. So we wrote that song, and when it came to the album title, we felt like it was staring us in the face. It’s already there, and we’ve already come up with it. It just happens to be a song title. We just thought that it fit perfectly.
Sam in particular seemed to be going through a hard time, how would you say that influenced the record? Joe: I always find it difficult to comment on it, because it is not my place to comment on how he feels, but from the outside looking in, and he has obviously spoke about it in depth before. It looks like it has influenced a lot of the album. Lyrically, there seems to be a common theme of struggle.
He sees it in a positive way as well though? Joe: Exactly, I don’t think he ever lets it win. He is talking about it in a way that’s like “fuck this, I’m not going to let this rule my life, this is how I feel, and I want to get over this.” He said before that he never wrote to be like “This is a song about mental health, I really hope it helps you” it’s just that a ridiculous amount of people can relate to it. Which says something, because mental health gets swept under the carpet a lot. I’m lucky because I don’t have to deal with any of those issues. But, it’s a good thing, it’s become more spoken about. It’s not taboo anymore to have these issues. They’re not shying away from it, and it’s not like a dirty little secret. They are open to talk about it, and hopefully it will help them get better. Dave: He said about ‘Better Off Without You’, where he genuinely went in just writing the lyrics down, and it wasn’t until he read them back that he realised that the whole song was to do with anxiety. There’s not really much we can say about it because obviously we don’t go through those things day to day.
So how did you end up working with Dan Austin, and how would you say he helped shape the album? Joe: Well with Dan, he actually engineered our last record ‘Asymmetry’ and so did a guy called Gil Norton. We just joined a major label for the first time, and we were like “let’s go for this”, Gil had done all sorts over the years Foo Fighters, Jimmy Eat World, The Pixies. We felt that Dan on that record, didn’t offer more than Gil in any sense, they were a team. This time around we felt that we wanted it to be a little more low key. We didn’t want it to have this high budget pressure, instead of doing four months in a studio with a big name producer, get into a studio, for four or five weeks, with a guy who was close to the band, got our sound, and had worked with the band before. And just almost hammer it out. Don’t worry about perfecting it so that it sounds absolutely perfect. A lot of the songs on the album are just us plugging in, and playing the songs through twice, and that’s it. There was no microscope trying to get it absolutely perfect. It was much more of an organic record. Dave: Yeah when we worked with him on the ‘Asymmetry’ record you could always tell that Gil was the man, but if you tried to run any ideas by Dan he would always say “talk to Gil”. You could see that his cogs were always turning, he was always thinking about certain things. So we thought maybe we could give him that chance to be the guy, and have these ideas. You’ve just got to look at the documentary from when we recorded it. He is mad in the studio. He is dancing about like no one’s business. It’s such a great work environment, to see someone that is so excited about the music that you are recording, as you are after writing it.
You've said that this record feels like a big step forward, so can you elaborate on that, as well as how you think you've grown/progressed musically with this release? Joe: It feels quite fearless now. We never wrote for anyone, or with an agenda in mind. Subconsciously there was that little bit in the back of our mind, like “can we go on the radio? We should pick our singles carefully” And also, we were a bit scared to cut loose on the production. It was always like even though it was quite a rocky production on ‘Asymmetry’ it was still very fine tuned and we wanted it to sound absolutely flawless. This time around we just let lose, we didn’t give a shit. That’s what the songs scream out to us, like the title track ‘Wired’ is a three minute rock n roll track. We thought why would we try and neaten that up. Just do it. With ‘Saviour’ literally the riff through the whole song is just feedback, with like a couple of bits in it, there’s so many ways you could of done that. You could of put all these feedback samples over the top, and it would have been like really modern sounding. What we decided to do was put six amps on to full volume, and put me in the room with headphones on to adjust the click track. I could barely hear the music, I just had the click track on full volume. It was a racket. Dan was just screaming down the headpones at me. He was just going “take five steps to the left, and hold the guitar facing the ceiling” it was just mad, but that’s how we tracked it. There were those moments of like being a mad scientist. That’s what is different this time around, it’s just so much more free sounding.
Yeah, the track ‘Saviour’ is pretty relentless! Joe: You know what, I think in the past we might of shied away from that. I don’t think on ‘Asymmetry’ we would of ever said “there is no God coming to save your soul.” We would of never said that. This time there is that, the world is going to shit, this is bad. This is how we feel, so let’s just say it. It’s a fearless record.
What else can we expect to see from Mallory Knox in 2017? Joe: It’s going to be pretty relentless touring. Obviously, we already already have three singles off the album already, so maybe one or two more. But really, we are going to have the biggest festival season we possibly can, and then in the winter we are getting back to touring. We are going to America, and Europe, but the calendar is going to be absolutely chocca. Hopefully I’m hardly going to be home. Dave: Hopefully you can’t turn a page in a magazine, or you can’t go on Twitter without seeing something about Mallory Knox. We just want to be all up in people’s faces at the minute.
Interview with Travis
Can you tell us a bit about what it was like to be an upcoming band in Bradenton, Florida? It was a small town but it did have a decent amount of local bands playing at pizza shops or churches on weekends. Growing up in the Bradenton scene was actually pretty awesome, there were a ton of bands that were always playing shows. Honestly we would play shows every single weekend, sometimes we’d play bars that we weren’t even old enough to get into.
It's been ten years since you released your debut self-titled album. So looking back on this release, what do you remember the most about putting it together, and how would you say it compares to anything else you guys have done? I remember for all of us, it was the first time actually ever being in a real studio, so we more or less had no idea what we were doing. We were just a bunch of kids who loved playing music who never thought in a million years that we’d be able to make an actual record. 10 years later, as I look back at all the albums we’ve had the opportunity to put out, I feel the same. Every record that we make is incredibly special to us.
What has it been like to tour this album by playing it live all the way through. Have there been any songs that have just been really exciting to re-visit, or even play live for the first time ever? This is the first time ever that we’ve played some of the songs so it’s fun to see which songs our fans react to. Over the passed 10 years we’ve collected fans from each album that we’ve put out, so by playing our first album entirely we get to see how many people have been listening for 10 years. It always blows our mind to think that some of our fans were in middle school when our first album came out and they’ve remained a fan of We The Kings ever since.
Looking back on 'Strange Love', how happy are you guys with this album still, and what do you think it has done for the representation of We The Kings? We should have spent a little more time on ‘Strange Love’, when we recorded it, we were so excited to put it out that we couldn’t wait to release it. There are things we would change about that album, but also there are songs that mean more to us than all of our other songs from other records. ‘Jenny’s Song’, I wrote for my wife Jenny Robinson, and I didn’t show anyone the song even my own family until the day that I played it for her at our wedding. So clearly that song, I hold very close to my heart. I think ‘Strange Love’ gave We The Kings an outlet to put out music that is slightly different than what people expect. We never want to put out the same record twice, that’s why each album from We The Kings has been different in its own way. We also love the fact that we have stuff we want to change off every album because it shows growth and creative progression.
What was the hardest part about putting 'Strange Love' together for you guys, and why? I think the hardest part was living in different areas while we recorded that album. Because we tour so much, we don’t get to spend tons of time with our families so we decided if there was a way to make an album that we don’t have to leave our homes for, then that would be a win/win. So for ‘Strange Love’, I (Travis) was living in Los Angeles recording guitar, piano and vocals, Coley was in Connecticut recording harmonies, guitar and keyboards, Danny was in Orlando recording drums, Hunter was in West Palm Beach recording guitars and gang vocals, and Charles was in St. Petersburg Florida recording the bass lines.
How did the remix for 'Sad Song' come about, and what was it like to work with Olivia Holt? I’ve been a fan of hearing remixes of our songs that fans do. It’s fun to hear different ways that people hear our songs, so we decided to make a remix ourselves with the DJ group that I’m a part of called Recycle Jordan. Working with Olivia was amazing, it felt like we were best friends from the moment we met which made it so easy to work out how we were going to sing to the remix version of ‘Sad Song’.
How would you say the sound of We The Kings has grown/changed? Aside from the obvious family dynamic, I think we’re pretty much the same. We’re still 5 kids that love playing music together for people who love music. That’s how we felt when we started this band and we’ve kept that feeling of being incredibly grateful for everything that has come our way through the passed 10 years.
Have you guys started work on any new material just yet, if so, what can we expect? We’ve put out a record every other year since 2007 so expect new music this year (2017)….and trust me, it’s going to change We The Kings forever.
How excited are you for your upcoming slot at Slam Dunk Festival, and what can attending fans expect? Slam Dunk was our first overseas show that we played so it’s a perfect fit for us coming back 10 years later. I think the fans will be really excited to hear a lot of the songs from our first album.
What are you fondest memories from performing in the UK over the years? Nandos, haha and the girls were always very pretty. But musically, I feel like because we don’t get to tour as often in the UK as other areas, the fans really go off when we’re there, which makes for an amazing experience every time we come.
What else can we expect to see from We The Kings in 2017? We have a video for ‘Sad Song’ (the album version) that I wrote the treatment for which is going to be really amazing. New music will be out this year and as always, new tours that we hope to see everyone at.
Interview with Winston
How happy have you been with the feedback to 'Ire' so far, and what do you think it has done for the representation of Parkway Drive? Really, really happy, to put it simply. It kind of exceeded every expectation we had for a record, which is nice considering we are defiantly stepping into very unknown territory. I guess that step was very much calculated, but you can’t really know where it’s going to end up, when you’re stepping off a very well worn path. What that has actually done for us, I think is that it’s kind of re-defined the expectations of our band’s sound. Which is perfect for us, because it takes away any limit we have of the preconceived notion of what music we should be writing. It really breaks down the kind of creative boundaries that we may of set ourselves, over the last, many years! We’ve been around over a decade, so that’s the main thing that it’s done for the representation of Parkway. It established us as a band that you don’t necessarily know what to expect. You have to keep an eye on, which I guess is better than knowing exactly how it’s going to play out. Which is nice for us, going into the future.
What songs are you still really enjoying performing live from 'Ire', and why? All of them that we play, to be honest, playing the ‘Ire’ songs is more fun than playing any of the songs we play, or have ever played. Which is really, really nice. That’s probably because they’re the freshest as well, it’s not like we dislike any of our songs. It’s really fun to be able to play songs that are as dynamic as the ones we created for that record. They all definitely work very well in different ways. And that’s allowed us to have a flow to them, rather than just having a complete relentlessness which has a tendency to burn out, before the set has finished. ‘Vice Grip’ became the biggest song we ever wrote, from just the overall response to it. It’s pretty phenomenal to see what that song did. ‘Crushed’, ‘Bottom Feeder’, just seem to wreck venues when we play them, which is really, really nice. And I’m really loving playing ‘Writings on the Wall’, which is a song that we’ve never created up until this point. To be able to put that into a live environment, is really fun.
How did the touring/live footage music video for 'Bottom Feeder' come together, and what was it like to work with Third Eye Visuals? Third Eye Visuals is actually one of our mates from Brisbane, who is very, very young. The first show that he ever shot on camera was a Parkway Drive show a few years ago, and he managed to become really good at photography very, very quickly. I’m pretty sure that the the trip to Europe with Parkway Drive was his first trip overseas. It was pretty crazy to be taking him around, we had this wide eyed little fresh face in our crew. Kind of freaking out at everything, and being thrown in at the deep end to shoot all of these festivals, with fire going off everywhere. But he is an absolute champion, the work that he did managing a million cameras at once, and capturing all of that footage was absolutely phenomenal. He is a gem to work with, I guess once in a while you come across someone that is very good at their craft, and you expect big things from them, after they move on. So yeah, that’s what it was like to work with Third Eye, it was great. The live footage came together for ‘Bottom Feeder’ over the festival year of 2016, the festivals and shows that we did, and we just threw Third Eye into the pit and said “get these photos!” He was running like three different camera set ups, from three different spectating points every night. I’ve never seen a cameraman work harder than he did. I hate playing video games against him though, he is a genius at that as well.
Leading on from that, which music video has been the most fun for you to be a part of in Parkway Drive, and why? ‘Karma’ was incredible because basically we just got to go surfing. Which is the pretty much the funnest thing that you’ll ever do. Then I think on top of that ‘Vice Grip’ was the funnest, it was terrifying, but it’s pretty rad to be able to say that you jumped out of a plane as part of a music video. So yeah, I think ‘Vice Grip’ was the most fun. Plus having the live aspect in play, like a show with fans, having them go mental, while there’s pyro going off in an air field. It was pretty awesome as well.
What made you want to do a deluxe version of 'Ire' and for those that haven't picked it up just yet, what can they expect from the release? Basically we had some songs which were still part of the ‘Ire’ writing cycle, but didn’t fit the next batch of writing that we did, and we figured that we’d just put them out there. It was more of a cleaning house, and not wanting to sacrifice those songs to nothingness, or to take them onto the next recording cycle. Every time we write a record, it’s a very different entity, and a very different cycle to anything we’ve done before. And those songs get dragged along from a record previously, so that was basically the concept behind those. It’s ‘Ire’ plus two more songs! Similar songs, in a similar vein to other songs on the record, but it’s simply if fans feel like picking up a couple of extra songs, then they’re there. If they don’t, cool! It’s not like we are stopping writing music.
Can you tell us how 'Devil's Calling' & 'Into the Dark' came together, and also, do they represent the future sound of Parkway Drive? They kind of came together simply from tying up lose ends from the writing and recording process for ‘Ire’, and we are stoked with the songs themselves. Really to be able to release them, and be able to play them. It’s been fun. I don’t think they represent the new sound of Parkway. Basically we aim to step forward every time we start a new writing process, and that was the whole idea of putting together a deluxe in the first place. To put things in their place. So I guess the next record, is not going to be so much of another step of that path that we took with ‘Ire’, it’s going to be checking out another path all together. So I don’t they’re representative of the new sound all together, but then again I don’t ‘Ire’ is representative completely of an entirely new sound. It’s not like we are going to go and make ‘Ire’ part two. We are going to make something completely different again.
How did you end up working with Jenna McDougall on the remix of 'A Deathless Song', and what do you think she brought to the track? That was really awesome. So originally ‘Deathless’ was going to have guest vocals on it. I wrote that song as a duet in the first place, but we ran out of time in the studio, and I ended up doing all of the parts and was just really stoked with how it came about. But then we had the opportunity to get the other songs out there as well, we figured we’d hit up someone to create the complete kind of picture of what ‘Deathless’ was supposed to be, especially vocal wise. And Jenna is amazing, an amazing human, and an amazing vocal talent. Her voice just fit the part, really, really fantastically, and luckily she was up for it. Like an absolute champ, she tracked those tracks with our producer, somewhere in America in the middle of a tour. So we did it by correspondence, which was hectic for her, but luckily she absolutely smashed it. It kind of brought the character to the song, that I was originally hoping for. It’s a really interesting scenario, when you end up creating and releasing a song that didn’t quite fit exactly what you envisioned the character of the song to be. But then it ends up far better than you thought. So that then becomes the reference point. To hear what you originally had in mind being brought to life, was a really cool thing.
It's been ten years since the release of 'Horizons', so what do you remember the most about putting this album together? It has been ten years hasn’t it, most of that album was actually written during our first European tour, we spent five months in the UK and in Europe without going home to Australia, the first time we ever went overseas, and we wrote a lot of that in a barn at our friends property in Barrington in the UK. It was during probably the most tumultuous time of the Parkway’s existence, and with losing a bass player, we were also overseas, and completely broke. We put those songs together, in a barn, tried to get Pie to help us write them, because he just joined the band. That’s mainly what I remember about it. I guess just being stoked to still be writing music, but hoping that we can still continue as a band.
Also, what do you think it has done for the representation of the band? It stands as a point in time, I think that with this band, everything we do is simply released as a marker of who we were as humans and as musicians at that point in time. I don’t think it’s any better, or any worse than anything we’ve done. It’s just simply where we were at that point. We’re still super proud of it, and we love those songs. It’s kind of neat to be able to listen to it, and be nostalgic in that sense. I do that with every single album, even the newest one that we have just written. So yeah, that’s what it means to us!
How excited are you for your upcoming UK tour, and what can we expect? Very excited! It’s been a long time since we played the UK properly. About a year I think? We did Reading/Leeds Festival and that was it. We have a very wild show planned. I don’t want to let anything out of the bag yet, but considering if anyone came to the ‘Ire’ tour and thought that was mental, then you ain’t seen nothing yet. Let’s put it that way. It’s going to a whole another level this time, so yeah, very very excited.
Have you started on any new material just yet, if so, what can fans expect from it? I don’t want to drop too many hints yet, but yeah we’ve started writing things. Fans can expect the unexpected, to put it very simply.
What else can we expect to see from Parkway Drive in 2017? A lot of our time is going to be spent creating music, other than that we are going to be doing shows here and there. We have some pretty interesting stuff lined up in the pipeline. Some pretty interesting concepts for our live shows. But we’ll see how they work out later on in the year. Until then, we are definitely focusing on the creative side of the band, and putting some new stuff down. So that’s pretty much us for the year!
Interview with Sean
When did you first realise that singing was what you wanted to do with your life? It was probably from watching my sister when she was younger, she would always sit and play at the piano and sing, and I’d just be sat next to her playing video games, as well as watching her at the same time. That’s when I wanted to have a go at it.
What was it like to be an upcoming band in Weybridge? It was a bit of anomaly really. No one else was really doing it, it was cool and we were lucky because we had a great local scene that we were a part of. We put on our own shows at the local church halls, community collages and stuff like that. Basically it was just an excuse to get everyone together, and get everyone that we knew down to the venue, and to just mosh to each other’s bands really, it was cool.
Interview with Josh When did you first realise that You Me At Six would be a career lasting band, and what was that whole experience like for you? Oh god, probably when I was like 16. My parents said look, I’ve got two options here, I can continue doing this course at college, or this band that I’m in is starting to have a bit of a moment. At this point we had just done the Underworld in London. And I was like "I don’t know any of my friends that are playing the Underworld and are selling it out”, so I just thought that if I didn’t do this now, then I’ll never know. We’d just got an agent, we just got a press person. I just wanted to give it a go for a year, and see how it goes. My college said I could go, and come back next year, if the band doesn’t work out I can carry on with the course. So I did that. I remember being at Reading/Leeds Festival in 2008, we’d just come off the Festival Republic stage. My dad was like “you’re not going back” and I was like “yeah I know!” And then we did it. We’re lucky because we’ve all got incredibly supportive parents, siblings, partners, friends, grandparents, aunties, uncles etc. It’s not just us five that’s been on this journey, it’s been all of them, and at times they’ve navigated us, and given us advice. My dad set up our first ever merch company that we had, we printed merch with him for years. All of the guys parents have always fronted money for gear, and we’ve given money back when we got it. None of us come from rich backgrounds, not like anyone was broke. People assume that because we’re from Surrey, Weybridge, Virginia Water that we all grew up in mansions, and that we had it all very easy, and just blagged the band thing. It was not like that, and our parents made us understand the value of money very early on. It was like, “We can front this, but we need it back with something like a payment plan.” We would do it like that, we’ve never really had any handouts from anybody. Until we got to EMI, and they gave us a real platform to go and record in California, which is something that we thought we’d never do. At that point I was 20! I wasn’t even old enough to go out in the bars or the clubs. We just threw loads of house parties. It was a pretty career defining moment when we realised that stuff was going to happen for us. It’s still unique, and even now when we look back on it, it doesn’t matter what level of success you have, you almost start again when you release a new album. You might already have a platform but you have to re-engage with your fans, and for us, we didn’t put out a record for three years. A lot happened in three years, we changed, the music changed, and we grew from being teenagers into young adults. And as a young adult you’re going through your mid-twenties. A lot changes in that time, and I know a lot has changed for me as a 26 year old man. But not many 26 year olds can say they’ve had five albums, and a ten year career in the music industry. So I just hope that we can keep pushing those boundaries. We keep our heads down, and we concentrate on ourselves to be honest. A lot of people that get into music get caught up in the bullshit. We’ve had our moments for sure, but we’ve tried to keep focus on what we’re doing. Keeping focus on our fans, and trying to deliver good music, and good live shows, and that’s all that really matters. If you can build from there, and you have songs that hit radio, talk shows, or whatever that might be, that’s all great, but it really begins and ends with the fan base. A lot of artists come out, they have an amazing and massive first album, they’re the biggest artist in the world for six months, but then two years later they’re not anywhere really. That’s just the music industry, it will use you as much as it can and then spit you out. I think that’s what has made You Me At Six different, because we’ve never really gone through that system, we’ve always gone through our own system, we’ve never had the chance to see what that would mean, we’ve never had to. We’ve done it organically, by touring constantly. That’s why we took a year out, because for me I was absolutely drained. You go through life without setting a life up outside of the band, so with getting engaged, getting a house, getting a dog, all of that stuff. I needed to do that for myself and for my partner. We wanted to, and it had been a long time coming.
Interview with Jacoby
How did you end up working with Nicholas Furlong and Colin Brittian, and how would you say they helped shape the album? So for the process of choosing what we wanted to do, and where wanted to take the music, the creativity of Papa Roach. We decided that we wanted to shake things up, and work with some new fresh talent. So we rolled up in the studio, and we cut a track called ‘My Medication’ with them, and knew right after we got done with that song that those were the producers that we should work with. They have this young exuberant, off the chain energy. In the studio they are just bouncing off the walls. So to work with producers that have the energy that we have, is exciting. They wanted to bring that element of Papa Roach out in the music. So Nick and Colin were like “yo we don’t want to be collaborating with you unless you’re rapping on a bunch of this record, we want to hear that old school Papa Roach element mixed with this new progressive side in which you are writing, and really just kind of explore and see where the music takes us.” Our vision was to separate ourselves from the pack again, because we felt like we were getting lumped in with all of the rest of the other rock bands out there. So we felt like it’s time to spread out, get funky, weird, and different. They definitely encourage that in our band, and that’s what made this record very special.
They grew up listening to Papa Roach, so it must of been interesting to have them look at creating the record from that perspective? More like fans of the band? Most definitely. We’ve had producers that knew about our music, but we weren’t part of the fabric of music that they were listening to as they were growing up. So that’s what was different about working with these younger producers. This was their first full length record that they had produced. They had done EPs and songs, singles, but they had never done a full length record. So it was a challenge for those guys to do this. For me, I see myself in Nick and Colin and that early stage of wanting to prove myself as a writer, and prove ourselves as a rock band. We had at a young age, and we’ve still got that like “hey, let’s go and prove ourselves, let’s go out there and try something new.” We still have that hungry vibe in who we are as a band. So just to connect with those guys was just a good challenge. It’s so cool, because they were just so excited. It’s cool to see it come together for them as well. I really believe that these guys are in my opinion the next big thing when it comes to producers. They have got something special, and I love working with them.
One of the first songs that came together was 'My Medication', so what was that whole process like, and what was it like to see the initial vision of what the album was going to sound like? So we rolled into the studio, we were like “alright, we’ve got this riff, we want this song to be a riff driven/orientated song.” So we started jamming the riff for the chorus, and scatting the melody to like “I push you away.” We always have this kind of like bratty, punky approach. Like how do we take something that sounds like a nursery rhyme but turn it into like rock, punk. That’s how that was born. When I was coming up with lyrics for the track, I was looking at myself, and it’s no secret that I had substance abuse issues throughout my life. So it was like how has medicating myself messed my life up. It adds to my dysfunction, so I’m just trying to untangle this, and music is my way to do that.
We've read that you'll be revamping some of the classic Papa Roach elements for 'Crooked Teeth', but for you, what do you think fans can expect musically overall from the record? I’ll say it like this, be ready for a ride, because this one is all over the place. It’s funky, it’s freaky, it’s heavy, it’s dark, it’s introspective, it’s emotional, it’s uplifting. It’s a record that you can put on and listen to the lyrics, and really dig into the depths of it, and really feel the guts in it with the personal stories. Or you can put this record on when you are having a raging party with your friends. You can just put it on, and rock out to it. It has both of those elements. Lyrically it’s a deep record. But musically, it’s fun, and I just love the ride that it takes you on. I’m very proud of this one.
You are bringing more of your rap technique to this record, so what has that been like for you, to take that vocal style even further, and how would you say it has become a part of the music scene in general? For me, it’s just a new challenge. I fell in love with rap music over the last few years, and I’ve really been digging this hip hop group called Run the Jewels, loving the energy that they’re bringing. Hearing some of these bands that are younger, who cite us as early influences in music like Of Mice & Men, Bring Me The Horizon, that’s exciting, and it feels like there is this full circle element happening right now in rock and metal. Elements of that nu-metal sound is creeping back up in other bands, and that was the wave that we came in on, and we’re still slaying it. So it just felt natural to dig back into those spaces, and see what we could create from that context. I’m telling you man, just doing that spitfire rapping on the tracks again, it just feels natural.
'Help' sounds very cool, with its acoustic and vocal only start. Can you tell us about how the track originally came together, as well as maybe a bit about its lyrical content? In the process of making records we always go back in the end and listen to the whole complete piece of art that we’ve created, and see if we have any missing pieces to the record. We went back in twice at the end of the record to record a couple more songs, and fill those holes that we saw. The record didn’t have any major chords that were uplifting, a lot of the stuff is minor, it has a minor edge. So we felt that the record needed a bright spot. As the band was writing the major chords to this song, I was just sitting in the corner of the room going “I’m just not feeling this.” I didn’t feel like writing a song that was happy go lucky, uplifting. The reality was that I was in a very dark point, it was a dark couple of weeks in my life. The guys were like “look what we did with a song like ‘Scars’, it’s uplifting with this major chorus, but you’re singing these dark cathartic lyrics over it, and that juxtaposition is where the magic is, we want you to do that again. So if you’re in a dark place, let’s express that over this uplifting major chord song”, and then I got it, I was like “okay cool, I get that, I can do that” because I don’t want to write about shiny happy people holding hands. It’s just not where I am. So we proceeded to write a track that’s like an anthem for my depression. I got the type of depression that’s the manic sort, so I have really high highs, but then my lows are really low, dark, and isolating. I have a tendency to kind of push everyone away, when I’m going through these moments. My front is like “it’s cool, everything’s great” but really and truly on the inside I’m dying. I just like to shut everyone out, and just go away into my deep dark hole, and just come back out when I’m ready, and that’s a big part of why I’ve medicated myself over the years. Why I don’t choose alcohol anymore, because that’s not the answer, so I got to work through this knot of yarn tied up in myself, and music is my way to do that. Music is my antidepressant. I’m a professional at destroying myself, I’ve got that nailed down. Music is a healthy way to deal with that.
You've said that you were initially unsure about the 808 bass drop into a metal breakdown on the title track 'Crooked Teeth'. So what eventually changed your mind, and how have decisions like this pushed what we can expect from the album? Those freaky spontaneous moments, like the 808 drop in ‘Crooked Teeth’ is what makes this record special, and those turns that just come out of nowhere are what make music fun for me. Every section that we dropped into next, it’s a new ride and a new space. We go from half time, to full time, to a half time, to the 808 drop. We went from sounding like West Coast punk rock to East Coast (Biggie Smalls) hip hop. For me, I just love that. I just love music that has a dynamic, and these interesting twists and turns. So this record has all kinds of moments like that. I’ve played this record to death, everyone I’ve played this record for, friends, family, ex-managers, ex record company excecs that I worked with. People are feeling it. There’s a good buzz around what we are doing, and I feel very confident that we’ve created something that will cut through the thick layers of music that are out there, and I feel like we’re going to be able to make a significant impact with this record. It needs to be heard.
How did you end up working with Jason Evigan on 'Born For Greatness', and how would you say he contributed to the track? So Jason is a good friend of ours from way, way back. We’ve known him for years and years and years. He had a band called After Midnight Project that we took on tour back in the day, he is a producer, songwriter, creator, and he is just cut from the same cloth. We grew up listening to a lot of the same bands. Incubus, Deftones, Helmet, Social Distortion, so we just really see eye to eye on music. He stepped away from his rock band and started producing tracks for like Madonna all of these insanely popular people, and I’m like “wow Jason, you’re killing it” and he was like “I’ve always wanted to get in a room and create music with you guys.” He wrote this song for his band After Midnight Project way back in the day called ‘Scream For You’ which he said he wrote after being inspired by Papa Roach. So we rode up to his house, and we were going to create this track with him, and he was like “man I’ve worked with Madonna, and I’m telling you I’m just way more nervous about working with you guys, you were one of the bands that were an early influence on me” and we were like “you’re nervous? We’re homies, we BBQ, eat dinners together, have laughs together, we’ve toured together, why are you nervous?” and he was like “well you know, you were just one of those bands that I was into growing up”, and I was like “let’s do this dude.” He has this moog analogue keyboard which he was jamming on with us. He had this sound of almost like horns, and right when I heard it I was like “oh we need to go down that lane.” It’s almost like this hip hop, beautiful people, Papa Roach meets Kayne West, this odd fusion. Getting in the room with people that see music through the same lens, but also through a different lens. It’s fun to work with people like that, because we don’t just want to sit in the box, and do the same thing. We’ve been creating music for twenty years, so this time around it was really time to just shake things up. Collaborating with Jason was just right on point. I had a great time. We are trying to get back together, and do some more music, which would be fun. He brings out a freaky/funky element in Papa Roach that we want to explore some more.
Lyrically, the song sees you get sentimental about your three children. So how do you go about putting lyrics together for something so personal like this, and what do you think fans can expect from the track? ‘Born For Greatness’ is a great message. I have to remind myself, even though my head tells me differently, that I’m not worth anything, that I’m a mess up, a failure, and all this negative darkness will just beat down on me. And for me music is a great reminder, and a great toll to inspire. So I want to write a song that not only inspires me, but also inspires the youth. To know that we are born for more than being a lump on a log. We are not born to just fall in line and do what we’re told. The greatest ideas have not been thought of, the greatest movies haven’t been directed, written or produced. The greatest books haven’t been written, and the greatest discoveries haven’t been discovered! So I just want to inspire and awaken people. It’s just a goofy song, but music moves people. It’s a powerful element.
'American Dream' also has a really intense lyrical theme. Being about your father coming back from Vietnam. So how did you approach this? Yeah, so growing up in a home with my father, who was a Vietnam veteran, war had a huge impact on my life, indirectly, through my relationship with my father, and how my father coped with life back here in America after being sent away to war. Fighting a war that he didn’t believe in, and killing people that he didn’t want to kill. It’s just a messed up dynamic, and he didn’t know how to cope with that stuff when he came home. He fell into what many other soldiers did at that time, drug abuse, his issues with that. I just feel that like people talk about “let’s take care of the soldiers, and give them care when they come home from being in war” to me, it’s like, they want to take care of that and what not, and I say it in the song, I firmly believe it and I stand behind it, but I think that like war period is a sickness. The PTSD, the soldier, the family, and the breakdown of the soldier is just a symptom of the real sickness which is war. It’s a big topic, and it’s right on point with what’s going on in the world. I just look at it and think “man, I don’t see the answer in the fighting.” Call me a hippie or whatever, but I feel that war is the sickness. And that just goes to show how imperfect we are as human beings. It’s disheartening, but in the reality it’s something that we have to deal with. Music is a way for me to come to terms with that.
It feels like with both the lyrical and musical input, you guys have just not held back? Definitely. I guess our natural process is to always try to push things, and we’ve just tried to push things further on this album. After putting out this, our ninth release, fans are ready for the next evolution of who we are, and what we are doing. I think ‘Crooked Teeth’ is the perfect stepping stone to where we are heading on the next one. We’ve already started to create music again for the next record. We are like 6-7 songs into the next record, and I think we’ll probably create like 16-17-18 songs to narrow it down to the batch of what the next record will be. It’s exciting.This new shit is just dope!
You have already started work on another record? It’s not ready, but the vision and the brainwork is being laid. It’s banging, and exciting.
So what would you like 'Crooked Teeth' to do for the representation of Papa Roach? This record has some more mainstream elements to it, and so I think that the intention for this record is to kill it with our rock fans, and audience, but then to also break out of just always playing with all of the metal bands. We just don’t want to get pushed up inside a box. I want to play Download Festival, but then I also want to play Reading/Leeds Festival. I don’t want to be told we can only play for these fans, at certain types of festivals. I want more. We want more.
It's been just over twenty years since you released 'Old Friends from Young Years', so can you tell us a bit about what you remember from that time? It’s crazy. There’s a picture on the back of the cover, where we are all sitting on this small couch creating music. That’s still where we are. I’m going back to the studio today, back into this small little room, in this grimey little studio in North Hollywood. We can take that same picture today, so much has changed, yet so much is still the same. It’s a trip. Even with the title of the record ‘Old Friends From Young Years’. That was our goal, back in the day we were writing our future. This music would be the groundwork to show us where we should be. So we put it out into the cosmos and were like “yo, we just want to be Old Friends From Young Years.” So when we look back at this thing, that’s what we want. Look at us now, over twenty years later, here we are. We are “Old Friends From Young Years”, and we did what we said we were going to do. Tony is still kooky, I’m still all over the place and erratic/nutty, Jerry our guitar player is still calm, cool and collected, and Tobin our bass player is just this crazy artful dodger, that’s all over the place, but still bringing something new to the table. So much has changed, yet so much is still the same.
What else can we expect to see from papa roach in 2017? Some bang up, rock n roll shows. We’re planning a tour in the UK, and we’re going to be putting on a show this time. We’ve never been one to bring lots of lights and production, but we feel like right now at this time in our career it’s really time to invest in our live shows and really bring something to the table that blows people away. So that’s the goal, and now we must go and create that.
When did your love for comic books first start? I got interested in comic book drawing when I was six. My dad bought me a copy of the mighty world of Marvel Number one. Which was the British sort of reprint of obviously the American originals, because you couldn’t get them then in the early 70s. They would come over rarely, but you could never get consecutive issues. There certainly weren’t any comic book shops, or anything like that. So when Marvel UK started printing them out regularly. My dad, I don’t know to this day why he got me issue number one, perhaps he remembered it being advertised on the TV, and he must of seen my eyes light up. It was something that connected with me, even if it was just on the TV. I suppose it was something that I had never seen before in my life. At that age you get brought up on British comic books. Which tend to be Dandy and Beano, all the sort of comedy stuff. Seeing this, it was a) from another country which is just another world away. And then B) it’s kind of this weird science fiction, realistically drawn stuff. It was just amazing. After that I was hooked, literally issue one. That’s all I wanted to do. That was the catalyst.
It must be amazing when people approach you with work that was influenced by you? It is quite amazing, yeah. Hopefully, over the next couple of years I’ll be able to give a lot that back, as I’ve just been made the comics laureate. So I’ve got a new role, which is to inform and educate. Whether it’s to teachers, librarians, or various other people, organisations, about the benefit of comics books, and what they can give. Not just to education, but what they can give to people as a whole. It’s a literacy that people sort of haven’t taken on board yet.
How did you get into that? Well they formed the comics laureate. It’s the one that is not given by the Queen like the other two. They created that position a couple of years ago. Dave Gibbons was the first comics laureate, and then I took over from Dave recently. I just had my first official engagement. It’s a great honour, I genuinely didn’t think people were considering me at all. It sounds like a horrible/cliche, but it was a genuine surprise when I was contacted by the organisers who said they were considering me for the comics laureate. They were like “would you be interested?” I talked to my wife, because I was thinking, “have I got the time, with The Walking Dead, and all of the other things I’m doing.” We thought it was too good of an opportunity to pass up. You turn something like that down. You don’t want to assume they are going to ask you two years down the line when arguably you might be more free. So I just thought no, I’m just going to bite the bullet, and accept. It is something worthwhile.
So how did you get involved with the world of The Walking Dead? I knew Robert for a few years previously, we collaborated as publisher and creator on something else. Robert being the publisher. We also chatted a few times at various American cons, but only as just polite conversation. I literally got an email from him, saying that “I’m doing this small comic for Image called The Walking Dead, would you be interested?“ And I said, “yeah sure, send me the scripts.” I hadn’t even heard of it. Image at the time, were in this weird limbo period where they had this massive success with their original stuff, where the seven main creators went away, created all of the big superhero art led books back in the 90s. Image had become a very small indie publisher. To be honest, not many people were that interested in working with them, because a lot of people perceived that there was no money in it. At the time, I was just going from job to job. I was still lucky that I was going from job to job, however, every job that I was getting wasn’t exactly moving my career forward. I was still having to ask for work, as opposed to sitting back and letting it come in. I was having to actively seek it. Robert just called me inbetween jobs. It is just one of those things where the planets just aligned!
What do you remember the most, from meeting Robert Kirkman for the first time? He seemed like a really nice guy. I obviously didn’t know him that well. I trusted Robert because of mutual friends. The guy that introduced me was called Joe Casey, and I had worked with him, and I knew and liked him. He is one of the co-creators of Ben 10, he hadn’t actually created it at the time. I was thinking if Joe thinks he is alright, then he must be alright. It’s one of those things by association. I trusted Joe’s opinion of him, and obviously as we have gone along, he was proven right!
What do you think has been the craziest decision you've both made together? For me, one of the most craziest decisions, was to go bi-weekly for All Out War. 12 issues in six months, it was just insane. That’s when I gave up inking it. I’m fast, one of the fastest in the business, but no one is fast enough to ink two books, pencilling etc in that amount of time. Just going to pencil was still crazy, 14 full pages a month. That’s a lot of pages. Plus it was All Out War, so it wasn’t just people talking in rooms, or wandering around a forest, which was really easy to do. It would be, page one “the army attacks!” That’s writers for you, “the army comes over the hill” draw that, and make it a double page spread! That’s two pages I’ve done.
With the illustration being in black and white, what do you think that brings to The Walking Dead world? I mean it still makes it look very unique. I believe we are still the only black and white comic in the top 100. Sometimes when I look at what we’ve achieved. We’ve achieved the highest selling comic in the last twenty years. Which OK I realise we charge 25 cents for it. It’s not a superhero comic, it’s a comic in black and white, so when you think of those sort of factors, everything about it originally would guarantee it not to sell, as opposed to sell. It’s only when I do interviews like this, and sit back and think yeah that’s pretty good! I think it’s great being in black and white, because that’s almost comics in its purest form. That’s not to take anything away from the colouring in comics. Especially nowadays, the colours in comics are amazing. There are some amazing colourists out there. It’s great they’re being recognized as much as an artist now. Quite often you’ll see them on the cover, because their role is just as important as an inker or a penciler. Especially if it’s done well. So I don’t want to take anything away from the colourist. As an artist there’s a certain satisfaction to know that whatever I’ve done will just appear like that. And it will not be spoilt by colour. That’s a bit harsh towards colourists, but yeah, it’s nice to know that whatever you’ve put down will appear as you’ve drawn it.
What do you think makes TWD so different to other zombie apocalypse type media? I genuinely believe it’s just being in the right place, at the right time. Whatever we did, obviously it helps that it’s well written. Robert will be the first to admit that it’s not an original concept, obviously. The only original thing about The Walking Dead is the fact that we’ve been able to tell the whole story. That is what we wanted to do, and that was the most important thing about the book. It would have been a shame if we only lasted twenty issues. We wanted to tell the whole story, but we didn’t sell enough and it got cancelled. We’ve been very lucky, and that’s because of the strength of the book, and the strength of the characters. There is no original concept any more anyway. It’s how you deal with the unoriginal concept, is what makes it original. So how we’ve dealt with it is what’s original.
You've said that the zombies are just in the background, not really essential to the plot at times. So can you elaborate on this, as well as what you think the overall real meaning to the comic is? Absolutely not, the zombies are the biggest mcguffin in the whole book to be honest. They pretty much only exist to get the characters from a – b. To get them into certain situations where they can interact as characters. That’s not to take away from the zombies obviously, but that’s how I perceive the book. For me, I’ve done 160 issues of The Walking Dead, it’s the characters, it’s not our zombie friends. If it was a book about zombies just attacking people, I probably wouldn’t of lasted longer than 20-30 issues, because I would of just got bored.
It’s got heart? Absolutely, that’s the strength of the book. Where the book works the best is in the character stuff. It’s so weird, I react very differently to how other artists in the industry act. I prefer the drawing, the character interaction, the talking head stuff. Whereas most comic book artists would say that they prefer drawing the action. I love the challenge of it, to make the book not boring. It’s time consuming, but it’s actually relatively easy to do action. Most comic book artists can easily picture an action scene. It’s a lot harder to draw two people talking in the kitchen for four pages, and make it look interesting. Rather than just two heads, and repeat, as that’s the worst thing you can do.
You've said that you really enjoy drawing Michonne. So why is that, and if you can, which scene of hers has been the most rewarding for you to put together, and why? After they’ve been exspunged from the prison, and they start to come together again. Carl is on his own, and there’s that bit where he is being attacked by a zombie in the car, and then Michonne suddenly appears and shoves a sword right through the back of the walkers head, and there’s a big splash page. I still look back on that splash page, as perfect Michonne. Just that shot of her.
What was that six page variant issue with Negan on the cover like to do? That was ridiculous. Especially when I was just drawing the bat. All I was drawing was a lot of that and the end of a bat. Very big. But sitting there with six A3 size pages across my drawer, it didn’t fit, so it went onto the floor. Trying to sketch out this scene. It wasn’t as bad as doing the twelve issues for All Out War. Where all of the covers had to link not only across but down, so that it worked out to a twelve issue poster. That was the hardest thing I ever had to do in The Walking Dead. Because you had to go across and down, so you had to make twelve covers fit. And it was the story of The Walking Dead. It was like doing the biotapestry, in the comic book form of The Walking Dead! It was insane!
Okay, so we've got to talk about Negan. What was it like, when you found out about him for the first time, and how did you go about approaching the character? Negan was a weird gestation. For the original run of covers, it was six covers of saviors and you only show their torsoe and their weapons. One of the characters had a baseball bat with barbwire, and a leather jacket done up. I didn’t know at the time, but Robert sort of went “that will be Negan, that’s the character!” I think Robert said randomly, “draw a guy with a crossbow, draw a guy with an axe, draw a guy with a baseball bat and barbwire around it” and that was it. He just desribed the weapons, and I just did various hard looking blokes. That was his Negan, obviously we hadn’t got the face yet. As I seem to remember he just gave me a list of celebrities. Which quite a lot of writers do actually. It’s a lot easier to get a reference for a face, if you just say that “this guy looks like such and such.” So that’s how Negan came to be. The costume was there already, the face was just like “google this guy, google that guy, come up with faces.” It’s a lot easier for a writer to do that, and I appreciate that. It’s a lot easier for an artist as well, to just go straight to a face, and then appropriate that face in comic book form. Simple as.
What else can we expect to see from you in 2017? Well, obviously more Walking Dead! Since All Out War I have just been pencilling the book, which laughably should of given me more spare time to do other projects. So I have been beavering away on a French comic book called Vampire State Building. It’s not horror per se. I took it on because I love French culture. I love going to Angoulême which is the worlds greatest comic book convention. It’s as big as San Diego, But it takes over the whole city. It’s all to do with French comic books, there’s no movies, no American comic books. It’s just French comic books, and there’s 150,000 people there just for that! It’s brilliant, and I love it. I did do a French comic book about 6-7 years ago called The Breath of the Wendigo, which is a World War 1 ghost story. But hopefully Vampire State Building is going to be a bit more pushed as a book, than Breath of the Wendigo wasn’t. It’s an action thriller which is fun to do. I’m working on a few album covers as well. There’s a Belgium band, who are really good, if you look them up they are called The Dukes, and I did a previous album cover for them, and I’m talking about doing another. They are just a duo, it’s sort of hard/bluesy. Their last album was sort of poppy punky sort of stuff, but with their upcoming album it is just more hardcore bluesy stuff, it sounds brilliant. Have you ever heard of The Von Hertzen Brothers? They used to be proggy, sort of rock prog, but they’ve gone more pop rock prog. They’re a Finnish band, and they’re really good. I met them a couple of years ago, and they sort of suggested that I design their logo. So I’m kind of in the logo design. Which is weird, as that is really coming out of my comfort zone. I’ve designed logos within album covers before. I designed one for a chap hop artist who is called Professor Elemental. He is like steam punk, with pipes and does hip hop! I designed this whole album cover for that, and the logo was within that. I’ve never designed just a logo, so it was a bit weird. So apart from The Walking Dead that’s what I’m doing.
Facebook.com/CharlieAdlard / www.thedukesmusic.com
How has your weekend been going so far? It's going pretty good, it's really busy, which is good, keeps up your energy. People in London are really nice, there are a lot of people from Germany and Scotland I noticed particularly. There's people from Hungary, Ireland.
What do you enjoy the most about events like this, and what is it like when fans kind of freak out when they meet you? Honestly. When I make someone happy, that’s the best part, I can feel good about my day. It’s weird also because I totally don’t see myself the way that someone like that sees me. It’s surreal, I don’t think I can fully take in the reality of that, because it’s too much for me. So I just sort of, put myself in a place where I can feel compassionate towards people when they do that.
Okay, so when did you first get into acting? I was 13 or 14 I think. I started doing community theatre, and then I decided to take actual lessons, take acting classes, and then I started working at 15.
Was there a particular moment when you realised that it was what you wanted to do with your life? Yeah, it was about that time. I was also, singing and playing guitar. I decided that I had to do one or the other. I chose acting because I thought “oh if I was musician then I’d have to get a band together.” That’s a pain in the ass. I wrote really bad songs, like pathetic teenage songs. I was like “I just have to rely on myself to be an actress!” Which actually isn’t entirely true, as I didn’t know what I was doing at that time. But it seems to be working out OK.
What was your first major job role, and what was that whole experience like for you? It’s hard to say, because I had been working for years. My first regular part on a TV show was when I did the show Dirt, that was after I had done the movie She’s The Man with Amanda Bynes. That did pretty well. But I had done some other things before that. It’s really hard for me to say, I don’t think I ever had a breaking point. I didn’t do a part that like you know, broke me out. So that people started to hire me all of the time. It was more of a steady climb for me. I think it’s better for your well being as a person, to not climb too fast. In this industry, people can get delusions of grandeur, when you’re just an actor really.
You didn't know who you'd be playing on the show before you signed on. So can you tell us a bit about what attracted you to being in the world of The Walking Dead? Honestly, I went in for a recurring guest star part. I was just like “oh, I need a job, this show is pretty popular, okay!” I wasn’t a big fan of the show, like a lot of other people who were working on the show were before they got their parts. I didn’t watch it!
And when they told you who you were playing, how much research did you do into your character through the comics? I was told by the showrunner not to look at the comic, because they didn’t want to play the role that way.
Okay, so what was your first day on the Walking Dead set like, and what do you remember the most from it? The first day on set for me was the scene where Jessie first meets Rick at his house, and is shirtless. Andy was doing this warm up, I guess you call it, where he screams and sort of crouches down on the ground, and says a lot of curse words. So I was just sort of like “oh, okay!” He is crazy. Later on, he told me that’s why he does it, so that people think he is crazy!
What was it like to work with Andrew Lincoln, and how would you say the relationship of Jessie & Rick grew/changed over the time they were on screen? I mean, Jessie and Rick were sort of like dating, whatever you call that in the apocalypse. I think that they were falling for each other in a way, that seemed substantial at the time. Jessie had to die, otherwise Rick would of never ended up with Michonne.
So let's talk about your final episode 'No Way Out', what was that like to film, and how would you say Greg Nicotero helped shape Jessie's final moments? Greg is a fantastic director, he is a producer, and a creator of creatures on the show. So I think he has a fantastic idea of the direction that the show wants to go, and he is obviously a very creative and visual person. Working with someone like that is always really helpful as an actor. The scene was just very depressing to shoot. I don’t want to be put in that situation. If I have a scene like that, where I have to cry, then I’m not super excited to go to work. I guess I’m an actress, and I’m supposed to be totally fine with it, but we don’t like crying in our real life, it’s something that we try to avoid. So when I have to do a scene, and pull it out of myself, a scene like that, it’s just really hard to go into.
Did you have a death dinner? If so, what was that like? So depressing, but you know what, after not being on the show for a while, I had a fantastic time, I am so lucky, and am so happy that I was able to be a part of the show. It’s obviously very unique, and the actors are fantastic. The situations on this show are life or death, as an actor that’s really fascinating to play, and to just discover those sides of yourself. But I am definitely in a much lighter place in my life, so that’s nice. I’m working on a show that’s a dramody, it’s a much lighter storyline. Not as intense.
You wrote a sort of non serious email to Scott saying you could escape, and come back in a year and a half. So if Jessie did do just that, how do you think she'd react seeing Michone with Rick, as well as of course coping with the whole Negan situation? I think if she had stayed alive, and her children had died, and she came back and they were together, it wouldn’t of mattered to her because I kind of feel like she might have a chip on her shoulder with her children dying, because Rick says that he can keep her and her children safe, but clearly he doesn’t do that. So I would just be like “you know what, you can stay with her, OK! I don’t need you!”.
What did you find the most rewarding part about the story arc for Jessie? Her arc was pretty powerful, she was married to an abusive husband, and during the end of season 5 she finally stands up to him, and after his death really finds her own strength for the first time in her life. And I found that with a lot of the fans that had watched the show, that have had those issues in their own life have come to me, and have thanked me for being a woman that can stand up for herself and be a woman that has become a stronger version of herself. That was the most important part about my work on this show, because it helped somebody else. To be able to play a character that is inspiring to someone in their real life, you can’t get much better than that.
You are known for your roles in Family Guy as well! Who would survive in The Walking Dead from that show? I think Louis and Stewie. Everybody else would die!
What else can we expect to see from you in 2017? Well I’m working on This Is Us, it’s on NBC in the US. So I’ll be doing that. It’s a really sweet show, a tearjerker. It’s totally different from the Walking Dead! I’m definitely not going to be in any danger of getting eaten by walkers any time soon!
What was one of your first major projects as an actor? My first movie was Mommie Dearest. They thought that was going to be a big academy award winning movie, but Faye's performance was so over the top that it became a camp classic from the day it opened. They were bringing wire hangers to the theatre and shouting out the lines in unison at the screen. The unexpected cult hit, kind of a cool way to start out. Then I did Volunteers with Tom Hanks right after he made his first big splash with Splash. Sid Nancy was the next movie that I did that sort of took my career in another sort of culty direction. Terminator 2 and Candyman came not long after that. By then a direction was established toward something edgy or cutting edge or cultish, that would turn out to be enduring. Be it Indy or Big Box Office.
What are events like this like, and what projects of yours do fans enjoy the most? In general I find it fun to meet the people that make up the audience of any given show, as well as the crossover of different shows that they might of liked over the years. I’ve been doing this a long time now. Here In the UK, 24 was extremely popular, so people have a deep affection for that and the character I played, George Mason. And I guess for the character I am playing now, old Gregory, because of the crazy popularity of TWD. Maybe they have a fondness for the actor because he was able to bring these two different characters to life, in these two different shows that they were so devoted to. 24 and The Walking Dead both seem to have that similar binge-able quality to them. They pull people in, and they just don’t let people go! So those are two shows that I’m noticing here. It’s also interesting because Terminator 2 turned 25 this year and it’s almost like clockwork. It’s suddenly triggering some level of significance in people. The cultural contribution it was.
Can you tell us a bit about your death scene in Terminator 2? At that time it was gruelling to say the least. They gave me a sword to practise sword swallowing with for two weeks before we shot it. They brought me in to make a full cast of the back of my head. So that they could fit an appliance on to the back of my head, which would work a pulley system with a retractable blade. So that it would look like the blade that was going into the cupboard was going through my head. Even though it was retracting sideways, it looked like it was going straight through. I had to have the sword far enough down my throat to make it look like it was coming through from the back of my head. I gag with a toothbrush, so for me it was gruelling, having to practice not gagging with that sword. On the day they wanted to put a tube of milk, and a tube of blood to run down the backside of the blade. Because I'd been drinking from the carton of milk when I got skewered. The first time they did it, it just came out pink. So they had to split the tube at the very back, so red is coming out one side, and white is coming out the other. To have that split happen all the way from the back of my throat could've just about done me in! I could barely control the reflex to throw up. Then it made everyone who was watching it throw up, because it was so gruesome. So they took away the tubes, thank God! When that day began, Stan Winston who was the top of the field in special effects make up, had forgotten to take the calculations of the kitchen counter into the equation. That I would be leaning over the kitchen counter, before I would be pinned to the cupboard. To do a back bend for as long as I was going to have to do one. James Cameron just said “thanks Stan, you’ve just wasted 250 thousand dollars, and he was going to call the day a waste.” I felt bad for Stan, so I said I'lll do it I'll do it. So I ended up doing a backbend over the counter with the sword down my throat pinned to the cupboard for about four hours, while they tried to match the glint on the blades going into my mouth and coming out the back of my head. And another four on the floor, in a pool of milk and blood frozen in position while they completed the rest of the sequence.
What was it like to work with James Cameron? Cameron is like a general commanding the troops. He can have a rough personality at times, he doesn’t suffer fools, and he can be tough. But you always feel like you’re with a general who is going to win that war. I knew I was going to be in with a bit of torture with that blade shot. After they took the blade out, and I had to slump to the ground, he was very clear. He said “you know Xander, you now have to be in position for the rest of the night, you can’t move!” He demonstrated moving a decimal fraction of an inch. “If you move that much You mess the shot up, because it'll look like you’re moving.” And Jim is obsessive and compulsive. He had a swirl of milk and a swirl of blood right down where I was lying, slumped against the counter. He himself wanted to keep that swirl looking perfect in each shot. But it kept being absorbed into my jeans, and it was now four o clock in the morning at this point. And the cables were being run through a sliding glass door, in a real house out in the valley, where it was the middle of the winter, ice cold. A breeze was just coming the whole time, as my jeans were absorbing all of this milk. And I couldn’t move an inch. But it turned out to be one of the more memorable death scenes in film history, so it was well worth the pain and suffering that day and night long ago! Plus Jim sent me a bottle of Crystal the next day for being a trouper. That was nice.
What was it like to play George in his last couple of hours on 24? Well it was fantastic, because the character had just started out being a prick, who I was able to bring a bit of cynical irony to. Which they let me keep and continue to write for myself, to prevent him from being despicable. Additionally, in the first season they used my character as a foil. Every time I had a scene with Kiefer I was going “no” and then he would say something, and I would be like “well maybe”, and then I’d say “okay, but this is the last time!” That gets tedious, so I wasn't sure if I wanted to come back and do that again. I only did movies at the time, I wasn’t particularly interested in getting tied to a TV series. So they said “how about this, you inhale plutonium in the first or second episode, but for the rest of the season you only have 24 hours to live. You are going to be dead by the end of the season.” And I said “that sounds great!”, and they said “yeah, because then that way you won’t end up repeating yourself, we can show other sides, and you can have a redemption make up for a life misspent.” It turned out to be the most dimensional, moving work I've ever been given the chance to do. So grateful to George Mason.
So, what attracted you to the part of Gregory on The Walking Dead? Well, to be honest, I hadn’t actually watched the show, they approached me with an offer. I suppose I've played so many “shit-heels” in my day, I'm on that shit-heel short list. Guess they just kinda went “Hey, he’d be perfect for this asshole Gregory!” When Scott Gimple the showrunner called me up, to talk about the part, and gave this list of rather unctuous characteristics...I was like “yeah, but see, one of the things I’m hesitating about is that I've played a lot of these nasty dudes in my day, and I do have two little girls, and I would love for them to be able to look back and see daddy as something other than a douche-waffle.” He stressed how much the show was a family, and how everybody involved with it, even the fans represent a kind of family vibe (and man has all of that proven to be true!). Glad he talked me into it, to say the least. At the time I asked him “what do you feel the show needs? What can I bring to it? How can I help, besides just being another antagonist?" He said he wanted to change up the southern drama feel which could tend toward the turgid at times. So we came up with the notion that Gregory would be a contrast and open the window up a little and let a cool breeze swirl around for a change of pace. We imagined a guy who had run a successful car dealership, a salesman who managed a lot of employees. A boss who was a bit of a charlatan and snake oil huckster from the medicine show, who can adapt and shift, to wherever he is and whoever he's talking to, to make them feel more comfortable. I said “What if the guy has a sense of humour? Not that other people find him amusing, necessarily, but he finds himself amusing, and that’s what's helped get him through the apocalypse?” He's like "I enjoy an adult beverage, a pretty lady, and I'd prefer not to have physical pain inflicted on me. So sue me!" That seemed like a fun adjustment to add to the narcissistic, venal behaviour that was central to who Gregory was.
He doesn’t come across as a full on bad guy? No. He’s not heroic. I think TV loves these larger than life, perfect heroes. The minute you play someone who is trying to save their own skin, they see him as a coward, and people just find that despicable. Maybe it reminds them of themselves in a way they don't want to be. They’ll love a Negan, someone who will bash your favorite characters brains in, because he's rad. He's is tough and cool, so they’ll be fans of that. This has been the interesting thing, coming to the Con situation. People love all these archetypal characters the hero, the villain, the victim who becomes empowered. But woe unto you if you cross an empowered victim and turn out to be a cowardly douche. Good luck selling those autographs. Ha!
What is it like to play a scene where the characters have so much hate for yours? It was a kick to be able to boss em all around right off the bat! The very the first scene I shot was with all the main cast. I had to step out at Hilltop and take over. There’s this moment, where I get right up into Rick’s grill and say “it’s hard to keep this place clean!” There’s a lot of "stars" who when you get in their face, or make them look small, they can't handle being made to look weak for a second. They'll go to the director and say “I don’t know, that doesn’t seem right to me, I don’t think my guy would let someboday get that close!”. But with Andrew Lincoln there was none of that. As soon as we went for a take two, he came running into the study where I was, and gave me this big hug and said "Oh my God I'm SO glad you're doing this!" It was amazing to know that not only could he handle it, he loved it! He's my new hero. He makes everyone right down to the day players feel so welcome on the show. Like we're all pulling on the same end of the rope. And he sets such an extraordinary example (that everyone on the show seems to follow - it starts at the top!). My friend Lew Temple had been on a few seasons back and said "you gotta do this show, it’s your kind of people. You’ll have a ball!" Thank you Lew!
Had you read any of the comics beforehand? No I hadn’t followed them at all. See I’m a painter and a sculptor in addition to being an actor. So when I’m not actually working or trying to raise my kids, I don't ever seem to have time for much else. I did get the comics and binge watch the show when I signed up. I was dreaming zombies. I loved using the comics to find the character of Gregory. The look, the repertoire of postures and gestures. I love the show, too. As I started watching it, I fell in love with it.
Can you tell us a bit about what the Hilltop set has been like to work in? The exteriors of Hilltop is one location and the interiors are another. Creating an environment more along the lines of what people are accustomed to, with civility and decorum. It’s fun, just because it is like this artificial world that they are maintaining in and amongst the armageddon that is out there. I love the sets, the writers, the actors, everybody. It’s just been a ball working on the show.
What scares your character the most about Negan? The man is a killer! Plain and simple. He is not a nice man. He takes persuasion to a level of perversion.
What else can we expect to see from you as an actor in 2017? I just finished a movie called the LAbyrinth. Johnny Depp plays the detective who devoted the last 20 years of his life to tracking down who killed Tupac and Biggie. Forest Whitaker plays the journalist who spent 20 years of his life trying to pull the story of who did it. The wrong story was put out, for a long time. They are having to recant it. I am playing the head of the news network that wants that story recanted, and dissociated with the person who told the story. There’s a conflict between me and Forest, because he still wants to be on the story. It’s a great script. I have a feeling that it will be an academy award contender next year. There’s another film which I'm doing and is about to be announced that shoots concurrently with The Walking Dead. Awesome script in which I play the head of the Ukrainian mob. Also a not nice man, but in the very real world.
How has your weekend been? It’s great here, amazing fans, amazing group. It’s the experience, there’s a great energy, everyone is here to celebrate the show, or celebrate something they like to that energy. It’s pretty damn cool.
What attracted you to the part of Simon? Well, I wasn’t like picking or choosing. But once you see what the show is, and that it is probably going to be an exciting character, something different, then that’s a good thing.
So what was it like to work on the last episode of season 6 and the first episode of season 7, and can you tell us a bit about what it was like to work with Greg Nicotero? Greg is amazing, he was always from the get go very supportive of me, and of me being there. So I feel very grateful to Greg. He is wonderful, and well, everyone on the show is incredibly wonderful. Greg is just such a professional, and such a sweet man. He knows what he is doing, so you feel in very safe hands with him. He immediately makes you feel like you are part of the show.
We are used to seeing Rick being in charge of the episode. So, what's it like to just turn up as Simon and just have this kind of intense relationship with Andrew Lincoln? Well, I’m there to just basically do my job, right? So he is the one that’s standing in the way of me doing that. It could in a sense be anyone, because it’s just “I’m here for this specific thing, be it to find Daryl, or collect the goods.” So whoever it is in front of me, then it’s like “okay, this is what I’m doing!” I don’t care who it is.
It must be just great to turn up and have that control over the main character! Oh yeah! That’s the thing with the show though, everyone makes you feel like you are part of and not exclusive. That starts with Andrew as well, he makes everyone feel like it’s a group effort.
How do you see the relationship between Simon and Rick changing? There hasn’t been much change from since we first met. I’ve still been a bit of a bully, to him. I don’t know if there’s a misunderstanding between us, but there’s definitely room for growth!
How would you say your character sees Negan? I think Negan is someone that he was probably attracted to because of his power, and what he could do. Amass a following. I don’t think Simon necessarily is one that is weaker, he just maybe doesn’t want the power. I don’t know if he wouldn’t know what to do if he had that power, but there are people that can be leaders without taking the leader position. That’s why there’s not so much of a fear for him, as there is a respect for him. Like “okay, you do the job! I’m happy right here!” It takes the pressure off.
What would happen if Simon took over? If Simon took over, I think there would be a lot of the same things that the rules implement, because that is what Simon is attracted to. That state of law that they have. But there’s certainly things that Simon probably doesn’t agree with, so yeah there might be some changes. A lot of it would stay in tact, but again he would just be a different leader. So things would change a little bit.
What do you think Trevor Philips would do if he was in the Walking Dead world? I don’t think that character would follow anyone. I think he would just be everywhere. He would just be a disaster. There’s no way that he could lead or follow. He would be the Tasmanian devil spinning throughout those worlds, creating chaos wherever because he is addicted to it. So I don’t think he would fare so well, because he would be so nuts. He doesn’t know how to survive. Or maybe he does...I don’t know. I think it would just be crazy.
How did you first get into acting? I danced when I was really little, and then that kind of lead me into singing, and that kind of lead me into musical theatre. At musical theatre I eventually had to learn how to act, and then I found a class for on screen acting and I fell in love with it like right away.
Also, when did you realise that it was what you wanted to do with your life? I think like after a few classes I was like “you know what, this is really fun! If I could do this as a job, then that would be amazing.”
We saw you singing a Radiohead cover today at Walker Stalker. So also, when did you get into music? I’ve always been singing. I eventually started writing music in the sixth grade. The music was pretty crappy. I started to progress slowly and surely, but I’ve always loved singing, and it’s always been a part of my life. I try to keep it close. I have an EP called ‘Love in May’ that came out about two years ago, and since then my style has changed a bit, and I have written more songs. I just haven’t had any time to put them together on something.
So how did you get the part of Enid, and what was that whole process like for you? I had an on tape audition. We filmed it ourselves, and then I sent it into casting. Then I found out about three days later that I got a call back, and that they said they wanted to see me again. So I went in and did that. Then three days after that, I found out that I got the part. It was all within about a week. Which never happens for casting, at least well that’s what I feel like. It was really cool. I started crying when I found out that I got the part. I was so excited. I just really loved the character of Enid. It was great.
Can you describe your first day on the set of The Walking Dead? What was that whole experience like for you, and what do you remember the most from it? It was so intimidating. Because you have all these great actors, and everything. There are so many people, and they all know each other. It’s like the first day at school, being the new kid, feeling like “I don’t think I can talk to anyone!” They made me feel at home right away.
Had you read the comics before? I hadn’t read the comics, but I watched the show once I found out that I had got on it. I didn’t even know that there were comics for the show, until I was a part of it. I think it’s really cool, and I have always been a big fan of any kind of artwork, so I’ve always loved comic books, but I’ve never really been able to get into them. I had stupid school reading, they made us read all of these books, and I was like “I want to read some books on my own!”
Enid isn't in the comics, so what was it like to not have a back story, and what did they tell you about the character before you started? It’s cool, it’s pretty exciting actually, because they can obviously do whatever they want. Which is intimidating at the same time. It’s pretty cool, I like it. You never really know what’s going to happen with her, it’s not defined by the books or anything, and so it’s a pretty exciting way to go about it.
Just as you started to work with Steven, he got killed. So what was that like for you as an actress, as well as for Enid in the show? It was so terrible. I hated it, because I was so excited when I found out I was going to work with him. Because Glenn and her character work really cool together. I remember thinking about that, like that would just be a really cool dynamic. My dad told me one day, and I was like “WHAT! Yes, that’s going to be so cool!”, and then I only got to work with him for a little while. Working with him was amazing, he is such a good actor, and it all came very naturally. So I hated that I didn’t get to work with him any more than I did.
Can you tell us a bit about what the big table scene was like to film, knowing Steven and Cudlitz would no longer be in the show? That day was a very sad day! That was the day that Michael and Steven gave their goodbye speeches.
How hard was it to keep these deaths a secret to close friends and family? It was terrible. Sometimes I wish I didn’t know who had died. For Glenn and Abraham’s death I didn’t know for a while. I didn’t find out, till it leaked out of the grapevine eventually. But then I just pretended like “I don’t even know guys!” They really don’t tell me everything, so I don’t know everything that happens. But I know the majority, and so I found out eventually. You’ve just got to say “oh wait and see!” Why would you want to be spoiled by that anyway? Because then you’d watch the episode and it just wouldn’t be as fun.
You've said that you have a kind of mother daughter bond with Maggie. So with her being away from your character right now, what kind of effect has this had on Enid? I feel like it’s kind of nerve racking for her, because just any connection with somone, is just real hard for her. To lose her parents in the way that she did, and then to have to survive on her own for a week/a few days. It’s really hard, and it puts a toll on you. It closes you off from people, as like a defence mechanism. She’s finally letting these people in, so I’m sure she is worried, and sick, and she hates the idea of anyone getting hurt or anything like that. I mean we saw that when she had the argument with Carl, in the armoury closet. All she cared about was Maggie being safe, and getting her to a doctor. Making sure Glenn and her came back OK.
Enid is kind of mysterious, how do you approach playing a character like that? Before we roll, I just put myself through the characters shoes. Like if I went through the events that she went through, like with her parents getting taken away and everything. Her having to survive on her own, meeting these people, all of that. I just put my own life into that situation, and it just turns me into Enid. If I went through all of the stuff that she did, that is probably how I would act. It’s a lot of fun, as you find different sides to yourself. You can also create this whole being, this new person, soul. It’s pretty crazy, and a lot of fun. That’s one of the reasons why I love it.
Can you tell us a bit about what it's been like to work with Chandler Riggs? He’s great! He makes suicide jokes sometimes. They’re really funny! He’s fun, and it’s great to have someone my own age. It was definitely weird when I first went on the show, because I was like “you’re the same age as me, but you’ve been doing this for so much longer!” I would be asking for all of this advice, from someone who is younger than me by like two weeks! I hold that against him. It is kind of weird that he has been on that show for so much longer than me, but he is a great guy, and I love working with him.
Carl and Enid obviously had their big moment recently with a kiss. So how do you think this kind of relationship will effect the way that Enid sees the apocalyptic world? I don’t know, they’re going pretty good. Obviously. You never really know with the show, because with being in the apocalypse they ruin everything that’s pure, innocent, and happy. But so far it seems like they are going pretty good. I don’t see any trouble happening necessarily, but you just never know with the show. They can always throw a curveball, and I’ll be like “What the heck! Everything was so happy, and peaceful!”
Two theories have been going around about your character. One being you were part of the wolves, and the other that you are a spy for the saviors. If either of these were to happen, then which one would you prefer, and why? Saviors, because the wolves are just too crazy. The saviors are like crazy, but in a smart way. If you follow the story of Negan from the beginning, we would make sense of what he’s doing, in a way. So I’d rather be with them, as they seem to be doing much better than the wolves. And I don’t want a W on my forehead. The saviors are just less psychotic.
Leading on from that, what do you think is currently the hardest part about this whole Negan situation for Enid? How charismatic he is. He seems like a guy that you would like. And I think that just makes him a bit creepier and scarier, because he is really a cold hearted killer at the same time. He seems like such a nice guy, but then he slits your stomach open.
What else can we expect to see from you as an actress in 2017? I have a show called Tagged, but it’s called You’ve Been Tagged here in the UK. I’ve finished season two, and that will be coming out soon. It’s a really great show, I absolutely love it, and a lot of my fans love it as well. So you should definitely check it out!
Can't Swim - Fail You Again Can’t Swim are evidence of an underdog story come to life. Imagine being that well known and that amazing at what you do that you’re signed before your first album has even been made let alone dropped. This is the life of the five piece New Jersey outfit, so all that was left to cement their way into the industry was a debut to put any doubters to shame. This is ‘Fail You Again’. The introductory track comes at you like a brick to the face. The chorus of “Hey Hey Hey, what’s the big idea” feels like it should be screamed along with the band while doing your best fist pump into the air. So obviously after getting hemped up with that head pounding track what’s next? Something that sounds more like indie than metal. ‘We Won’t Sleep’ feels more like a modern indie anthem and almost like a completely different band. The chorus is catchy and most definitely radio friendly. It becomes an anthem in its own right and that’s just the second track on the album, it’s easy to see why these guys were signed so quickly. ‘50000000’ (yep, had to count them zeros) goes back to the more rocky aspect this band aim for, it almost displays some Queens of the Stoneage traits. This is one of the tracks where the true power of lead singer Chris LoPorto comes out in a blinding fashion, one minute he has the melodic aspect and next he’s got a certain roughness to his voice that would make the heaviest bands jealous. It’s nice to see that this band aren’t totally against broadening the horizons of the rock genre. ‘Friend’ is almost resonate of a pop punk track with the speedy riff and more rough than melodic vocals, the lyrics certainly does propel it toward this genre too. Totally opposite to this we have the likes of ‘One Shot’ which although is slower holds a much darker tone to it, the slow impending bass lines turn this song into a rock track seemingly unintentionally. Can’t Swim are the band that had a record deal without even having enough songs for their debut album. They have totally pulled this debut EP out of the bag and every single track is awesome. RO
Death Blooms - Self Titled Manchester and Liverpool joint act Death Blooms are just the latest in a long string of alt metal acts to come out of the UK and follow in the footsteps of the big boys of the genre. Only these guys actually make that difference to the already growing sub category of metal. It’s safe to say that there’s been some shit bands. Straight from the off it’s clear that this is a dark EP, kicking off with the more metal than “alt” ‘Hate:Die’ we’re introduced to who this band are and what they do. Of their debut EP vocalist Paul Barrow says: “Lyrically, the EP has ended up on the darker side of things. It wasn't done intentionally, but it's how it came out.” It’s clear that this is a band that are ready to tackle the big issues in life, their song ‘Last Ones’ is a lot about tackling the big problems namely mental health. I think a lot of people will definitely be able to resonate with the message that’s being put across by this band. It’s on this track that the vocals really kick into their own and it’s a lot like Beartooth which is nothing to shy away from. ‘I’m Dead’ is with no other description a two minute head bang fest. The chorus is catchy and the rhythm is so easy to bounce along to at any moment. A truly standout track for these guys. Ending with ‘Sick’ which is probably the most radio friendly of all of their songs, it mixes into an almost Alexisonfire sound. The mix of the rough vocals and the melodic is used very well on this last track and it really shows that this band could be a high horse in the alt metal scene. RO
Decade - Pleasantries This was my first experience of listening to Decade, their first album completely passed me by and I’m unsure as to why. This is a band that have gone against all the norm, they don’t go by the standard garbage you hear on the radio these days. They don’t rely on catchy hooks and cliche’d lyrics. They do what they do and they do it well. The music is beautiful, the lyrics are inspired and the vocals are awesome. Decade are making their mark on the alternative world and they’re not going anywhere. I think the best part about this band is their lyrics, it only took me listening for the third time to realise. The opening line on the whole album is “Driving past an accident, you slow down and wonder why you want to see.” This is something everyone does and this band are saying it’s okay because we are “just a human being.” This is the opening track and it’s a feel good happy song about just being and being happy with it. ‘Daisy May’ almost takes us back to the classic days of rock and roll, a classic riff on repeat and some classic vocals to go with it. It almost resonates with that quirky Weezer feel but somehow feels better. What I truly loved about this album was that the songs were all completely notably different. There are so many albums now where songs merge into one another in an endless sea of noise (however I think that about Metallica so I’m no judge). The awesome intro to ‘Turn Off Your TV’ is a total contrast to the wonderfully delicate ‘Sunbeam’, which at times almost holds a Radiohead torch high. ‘Brand New Again’ is a slow burner but once it kicks in it becomes one of the heaviest tracks on this album. Decade may be the new kids on the block but they are quickly making their mark on the alternative rock world, this debut album is a work of art and it’s exactly what this band need to get noticed. RO
The Early November - Fifteen Years In this job I’m very thankful for the all powerful internet. Were it not for this I would have no idea that ‘Fifteen Years’ is actually a collection of the Early November’s hits redone as acoustic tracks. However even without this knowledge it is a great album. Sure it allows fans to go back and experience their favourite tracks in a more stripped back fashion but it’s also a genuinely great album just from an outsider who appreciates the complexities of music. There’s something very intimate about acoustic tracks, the idea that all you hear is one voice and one guitar. It makes it feel as if you’re in the same room experiencing the same things as one another, ‘Outside’ certainly had that affect on me. The delicate guitar work was awesome to hear and it really does show just how good Ace Enders’ voice is. ‘The Mountain in my Living Room’ though still acoustic manages to become an almost rock song in its own right. The abrupt strumming for the verse intensifies the song very well and the solo leading to the final part of the track is built well and the pay off is fantastic.I decided as an experiment to listen to the tracks as they were originally recorded and then the acoustic tracks. ‘Boxing Timelines’ sounds like a completely different song when compared to one another, obviously the original was a lot more “rock” but it’s more than that. There’s more effort put into the vocals for the 15 years cover. It is awesome to see the progression that Ace has been through. It’s awesome that Early November have gone as far back as 2006 to add to this collection of awesome acoustic tracks. The once funky ‘Decoration’ has been totally stripped back from the electrics and drums that made it incredible and instead has been allowed to thrive on its own and it sounds spectacular. The Early November have been around for a long time and continue to make great tracks and this is an billiant surprise for fans to look back on and enjoy their favourite songs in a whole new way. It also gives a great introduction to this band for anyone who may not have heard of them by now. RO
Mallory Knox - Wired I was expecting not to like ‘Wired’, I felt like my days of enjoying Mallory Knox were over. When they burst onto the scene in 2013 they were new, exciting and filled a void that was missing from the airwaves. However like the world and Adam Sandler I grew tired of them, they were still riding their coat tails and the mainstream were loving them, I however was not. I’ve been once again thrown into the grips of loving them, this album has made me realise why they are so important in the music industry today. The first track alone ‘Giving It Up’ features all the aweosme-ness you expect from the Cambridge group. The raw and uninhibited vocals, the intense drumming and the way they can make all their melodies catchy as hell. This only continues as a habit on ‘Wired’ as we drop into ‘California’, a little lower tempo but we get to see how far the vocals on lead singer Mikey can stretch, the emotion he puts into every single belt of his voice is staggering. It’s clear that Mallory Knox have pushed themselves on this one, this is evident by the totally new sound they produce on titular track ‘Wired’. It almost has a Klaxons feel to it with the vocal range that is reached throughout this track. There are the slower tracks on this album too. The almost melancholy track ‘For You’ is a wonderfully calm track that really slows the pace of the album but in a way that it doesn’t take anything away from it. The lyrics are easy to pick up and will definitely become an anthem at their shows. ‘Wired’ is the next step for Mallory Knox to carry on climbing the ladder that they’re nearly at the top of. The raw and brutal honesty in the tracks is evident and it’s made me personally interested in this band again. RO
Crumb Snatchers - Big House First off the name is both brilliant and memorable. So even if the record does not strike you, you’ll remember them at the very least. But it will be hard not to take something away from the experience of giving this record a listen. They may be labelled as a punk band by some but ‘Big House’ displays far more than just thrashing angry, simplistic music associated with that genre. ‘Rubituckin’ adds a groovy slightly funky vibe, ‘Rubber Trees’ is an indie track with a dream pop undertone given by the keyboards laid down. This may seem as calling the Knoxville band punk is a misbranding and their sound being indie rock which certainly can be argued, however it is the attitude that comes across on the album that is punky. For example ‘Arrogance’ is a track that is at a slower tempo with an old bluesy guitar hook that seems as though it is a bit out of tune, well the tone makes it feel a little drunk, the long sustained notes that play support that feeling. Again vocally people will for the most part hear an indie rock style but I am unable to completely categorise it as such certainly towards the end of the song, where it becomes less disciplined, grittier giving the song a strong ending. Also, ‘Queen of My World’ is a lovely acoustic track that is very sweet. Music that is branded as “punk” runs the risk of becoming monotones but Crumbsnatchers and their groovy playing are never in danger of becoming dull. On ‘Big House’ Samuel "Guetts" Guetterman (guitar/ keys/ vocals), Samuel Burchfield (bass), Philip Mosteller (guitar), and Rylan Bledsoe (drums) have created an album that is packed with the most personality of any ‘punk’ record I’ve heard in a very long time. EJ
Life Of Agony – A Place Where There’s No More Pain Life Of Agony from New York quickly stood out upon forming in the 90s, with their diverse metal/hard rock crossover sound and built a solid fan base with their classic debut, ‘River Runs Red’ and have continued this for the past two decades. The band faced many challenges and struggles, most notably lead vocalist, Keith Caputo who in 2011 came out as transgender and is now known as Mina. Luckily they are back stronger than ever, with a new uplifting energy with their fifth and first album in 12 years, ‘A Place Where There’s No More Pain’ and expectations are running high. Opening song, ‘Meet My Maker’ starts with a sinister voice, which actually contains a hidden message for fans, so if you own it on vinyl then be sure to unravel the meaning. It possesses dark heavy riffs, impressive slick vocals and guitar work throughout, especially the solo; making this one edgy rock hit that warrants some serious head banging and leaves you hungry and eager for more. ‘Right This Wrong’ is bursting with energy and passion, and keeps the heavy fierce riffage flowing, whilst Mina’s vocals fit the tone of the instrumentation perfectly. The production and effects used, give it a great sound which is reminiscent of Alice In Chains. The soaring single ‘A Place Where There’s No Pain’ has an optimistic uplifting sound and is incredibly melodic, making for the perfect rock anthem that you will be singing non-stop. This is a special song for the band as they care a lot about their fans, the idea being that the band feel they offer a safe place at their shows.
The honest and brutal ‘A New Low’ packs a hefty punch both musically and emotionally with Mina’s heartfelt lyrics like, “I feel alone and I don’t belong” and “find it hard to breathe, think I got a disease”. The structure and tones aid the intensity, making it sound slightly unhinged. ‘Song For The Abused’ again strongly highlights Mina’s emotive lyrics, with lines such as, “ain’t the worst you’ve ever seen – yeah. Just an empty shell of what used to be”. Closing song, ‘Little Spots Of You’ opens on an isolated and beautiful piano piece. This is a dark peculiar ballad, with an eerie and slightly deranged vibe, packed with a tense atmosphere and deep sombre sound. It is extremely personal and intimate, making it almost uneasy to listen to, but it is equally compelling and brilliant. This is an unexpected surprise ending on this stripped back note, but feels like the best way to close this epic return from the band, giving you one last profound insight, whilst displaying more creative diversity. Life Of Agony deliver hard rock at its finest. This could be one of the best hard rock albums of the year, it’s a serious contender, combining old school classic rock sounds, mixed with a modern edgy one, giving them their signature well-loved style. Although we had to wait nearly 12 years for this new release, it was definitely worth the wait and is a defining moment in their career. CL
Bleed Again – Momentum New and exciting modern metal act, Bleed Again from the south coast of England cut deep with intense ferocity to ensure their debut album, ‘Momentum’ sees them rise steadily within the metalcore scene with their massive well-honed sound. Opening song ‘Happy Never After’ quickly confirms this with resonant immense guitars, which progress in technical ability, speed and brutality. They truly revel with a melodic hard hitting chorus, aided by dual vocals, which is reminiscent of heavyweights like Darkest Hour. This makes a hell of a first impression. Infectiously catchy, ‘Walk Through The Fire’ strikes straight off with perfect singalong anthemic sections. This is an extremely meticulous track that is very dominating. ‘Legacy’ takes a slight refrain, with a slower drawn out yet effective delivery, acting as their more mellow intimate side. This wouldn’t be out of place on a Bullet For My Valentine record, showcasing mainstream metal at its best. Latest offering, ‘Decimate’ is one of their heaviest, featuring crashing drums and relentless riffage, topped off with fierce growls from impressive vocalist, James Dawson. This is an unstoppable rampage of modern metal. ‘Decimate’ paves the way for next song ‘Drowning In Dreams’ which makes good use of effects to add more musical depth and ambience. The intro of ‘Heart Of Darkness’ is beautiful and delicate before it bursts into fast instrumentation, layered with contrasting screams and melodic clean vocals, an effective and winning combination that they have clearly mastered and refined.
‘White Castle’ offers no salvation, as it pummels you from all directions, especially through its mighty chorus and pounding instruments, while ‘Icarus’ truly soars with savage vocals, hefty melodic riffs and a nice clean vocal section delivered by bassist, Jon Liffen, which sees it shine in glorious style. ‘Slavery’ has a brilliant stomping groove from the off, and goes on to feature yet more delightful melodic surprises, not to mention far reaching guitar work. This is an unpredictable changeable track, but never loses its fluency and shows they can be diverse whilst being consistent. Another stunner and stand out track is final song, ‘Through My Eyes’ which was their first single. Again as you come to expect, this is yet another cracking metal anthem, with the ideal singalong sections and immense build ups, which will truly thrive in the live setting. It’s no surprise they have built a revered reputation for their shows, with their massive melodic metalcore sound that is made to be sung in unison. ‘Momentum’ offers ten highly crafted technical masterpieces, which leave you desperate and eager to hear more. This electrifying upcoming act prove that they are ready to rise to the forefront of metal from the get go, with no time to waste. There are no filler songs in sight, just immense and skilled contributions. This is seriously impressive, to have such a stunning debut, leaving you to wonder just how quickly they can build “momentum” and get their commanding sound heard by the masses. CL
You Me At Six - Night People Ever popular and extremely successful English rockers, You Me At Six bring a heavier and darker sound with their fifth album, ‘Night People’ to follow up their well-received 2014 release, ‘Cavalier Youth’. Title and opening track, ‘Night People’ is a swaggering dark anthem, slickly moving along with smooth lyrics and delivery, such as “We are night people, roaming the streets, night people we get what we need.” This is perfect to sing along too, especially when the whole song is smothered in infectious melodies and rhythms. This song will constantly lurk in your mind and creep in at any opportunity. ‘Plus One’ picks up the pace and is more sonic, with edgier vocals from frontman, Josh Franceschi, along with dynamic striking instruments. It is delivered with a great sense of urgency again showing their effortless approach to push out instant rock hits. ‘Heavy Soul’ matches the pace of the opening track more, adding to the coherency of the album and in this more stripped back track, Josh’s delicate vocals really shine, aided by ambient guitars and well placed structured effects. Upcoming single, ‘Take On The World’ is very mellow and shows off Josh’s vulnerable side more so, demonstrating his brilliant flawless vocal capabilities further. It is a very powerful build up with an air of optimism that is incredibly moving and hard hitting.‘Swear’ injects more diversity with impeccable beats and melodies yet again. I “swear” you won’t get this song out of your head, especially with great lyrics like, “I swear I don't really wanna talk it out, this life is a battle ground, who really wants to hear the sound that comes out of your mouth.” This is one memorable agsty rebellious tune. Closing song, ‘Give’ brings the best elements of high impact rock hits, combined with the effective and striking trimmed back slow almost ballad type vibes, the end result is an immaculate thought provoking offering. This latest release shows You Me At Six at their best, channelling all the best features and developing on it, in terms of creativity and musical maturity, by displaying a more serious and darker sound at times. It manages to remain coherent and connected, flowing between all out swing your body infectious sounds, to moody reflective and moving moments. Whatever their aim or mood, they without fail manage to produce pristine rock anthems and stadium made hits. CL
Ghost Iris - Blind World ‘Blind World’ is the detailed second release from Ghost Iris it is a brilliant mix of metal from the plethora of subgenres with the better known classics. ‘Save Yourself’ quickly became the favourite track of the bunch with there being some very tasteful clean higher pitched singing/screaming that hook themselves in against the low guttural vocals which area is more common throughout the record offering a nice change of pace. Additionally the guitar midsection is really well mixed making it appear as though it is stuttered, something I have not heard before, but I want to hear more often if done this well. ‘The Silhouette’ plus ‘Pinnacle’ are more melodic in their structure so if the brutality is a bit too much for you then put on these tracks as they are centred around less aggressive playing, cleaner but still distorted guitar lines and have more of the clean singing. Plus the static outro gets a thumbs up. ‘Blind World’ the title track is a classic mix of truly heavy metal, screeching lead guitar all kicked off by an introduction from a spoken voice that is backed by an acoustic guitar captivating even if it only lasts for a minute and fifty nine seconds. That is not easy to do or a frequent in any part of the heavy music scene. Only highlighting yet another way in how this group can interest so many people. Ghost Iris are musically tight and manage to make what some consider inaccessible, accessible with ‘Blind World’. By not sticking to one style of metal and integrating less harsh elements also builds the appeal of the music. Being able to hear some metalcore, industrial, thrash and melodic sounds in a number of the songs shows the openness the band has, a value listeners should also share so that this progressive album can be enjoyed as much as it deserves to be. EJ
Acceptance - Colliding By Design Alt rock act from Seattle, Washington US originally formed back in 1998 and then broke up in 2006, but thankfully they reunited in 2015, and marked their return by releasing their first song in 10 years with ‘Take You Away’, and now they are ready to make an even bigger impact, with their second anticipated album ‘Colliding By Design’, their first album in 12 years. First song and single, ‘Diagram of a Simple Man’ immediately pulls you in with its musical depth, aided by electronics and synths, giving it a huge spacy ethereal sound, that quickly asserts their return with a fresh reinvigorated sound and big alt pop hooks. The title track, ‘Colliding By Design’ is doused in pop vibes and chilled melodies, being very mainstream and showing the band aren’t afraid to take risks after their departure. It’s hard not to have your spirits lifted by this overly bouncy upbeat sound. Latest single, ‘Fire And Rain’ quickly captivates you with its pleasant inviting sounds. The chorus is huge and gleaming, with infectious melodies and bouncy effects. This will surely be one of the most catchy pop rock tracks you hear all year. ‘Haunted’ takes a more bare bones and delicate approach, which is a good change of pace, but is equally powerful, showing off Jason Vena’s soaring vocals more. The synths are stripped back and instead are used strategically which has the desired effect, making a bigger impact as a result with this potential breakup anthem. To end their brash and exciting return is final song, ‘Golden’, which strikes the perfect balance between pop rock, with a harder rock sound coming through and blending in and matching the tone of standout vulnerable track, ‘Haunted’. Leaving one of the best moments to last with this offering, and even fading out with inspiring and hopeful lyrics of “it gets better, better than this” perhaps hitting at their bright future ahead. Acceptance certainly make a fresh, exciting and creative return, demonstrating that now was the time for them to reunite. They are truly thriving as a result of their break, giving them time to create this impressive record, which is bursting with massive melodies and well-crafted songs, which readily and easily flow with endless amounts of depth and ambience. They will surely earn a whole new fan base with their unexpected return and change in sound, as well as satisfying existing fans. CL
Cosmic Rays - Self-titled After I hit play on the bands Bandcamp page I wrongly presumed that it would play the first song on the album but it did not, which is not the usual way to go about a review but it is always good to switch things up. It started on the ninth track of the twelve named ‘The Grind’ which is a solid number with it mixing in big lead guitar licks with more traditional verses and the chorus. It is a structure that the band stuck with throughout not varying too far from it. What they do change up are the tones of their guitars specifically on the track ‘Ray’ which takes a more indie approach introducing clean guitar lines that are more akin to early 2000s guitar revival bands (The Strokes, Interpol etc) and shows that the band do not just rely on the more classic rock aspect of their sound. This eponymous record has a classic rock feel to it in the production and the overall structure of the record. At the core it is four guys and their instruments, nothing overly complex in terms of wacky effects or ridiculous time signatures. Creating something accessible with something that likes to be dark at times (’Coils’) or the dramatic rock track ‘Electricade’. By dipping their toes into the various pools of rock, there is more than enough here to keep your attention. EJ
Counterfeit - Together We Are Strong These English punk rockers from London, only formed two years ago but have already caught the attention of many. Front-man Jamie Campbell Bower is no stranger to the limelight, as he is also an actor, who has appeared in successful movies such as the Twilight series and Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows. Now they have finally unleashed their anticipated debut, ‘Together We Are Stronger’, so does it live up to the hype? First song, ‘Washed Out’ kicks things off straight away, awash with melodic and striking riffs, delivered in an fun and energetic way, aided by memorable lyrics such as, “To old to live, too young to die” with a rebellious attitude running throughout – this short explosive episode is the perfect opener leaving you eager to hear more… Previously released single, ‘Close To Your Chest’ is very honest and shows the harsh side of reality, but softens the blow by bringing infectiously catchy melodies, aided by Jamie’s diverse delivery of vocals and range. He has the perfect voice for this style, packed with fiery attitude to match the instrumentation. Single ‘As Yet Untitled’ was recently premiered in style through the popular ‘The Radio 1 Rock Show’ with Daniel P Carter. The song bounds steadily with dynamic resonant instruments and demanding vocals; it is clear to see why they released this, as it marks the perfect representation of their sound. To add some extra depth is a surprise nod to the famous English poet William Shakespeare with ‘Romeo’ in this soaring hard rock ‘n’ roll number, which is uncontrollable catchy. While ‘Enough’ is the most belligerent and dark offering, showing off some of Jamie’s most impressive fierce and speedy vocals so far, giving it an angsty and anthemic vibe, especially with group chants towards end.
Final track, ‘Letters To The Lost’ sees a different side to the band entirely, changing pace and musical style, being a stripped back mournful, bluesy heartfelt punk rock number, which highlights a more intimate, beautiful and vulnerable side. Jamie’s raspy and harsh soaring vocals will stir something up in you, and this will surely be a must see to witness live. This will stick with you and truly demonstrates the bands capabilities and is a stunning one to end on. This is an exciting fast paced and powerful debut. They are straight to the point, firing off with sharp, brunt and fast paced numbers that will get you pumped. However, their change in pace for the final song, may be their most defining and impressive moment. There is more to them than just energetic brash offerings, as throughout there is a lot of deep lyrical meaning and serious themes such as suicide (Letters To The Lost) and terrorism with ‘Enough’. They should be proud, as they have managed to deliver an instantly triumphant and enjoyable sound, with the winning combination of massive melodies wrapped in a punk rock attitude. CL
Heron - You Are Here Now The instrumental Heron come from North Western Pennsylvania with a brand of music that is tranquillity transcribed into musical notes. Albums that have very long songs and are without vocals demand the best playing from outstanding musicians, and there is no exception to that here. To create music that keeps people interested and focused on is not an easy thing to do as the masses far too often dismiss this genre. Wrongly thinking it is drawn out and obnoxious when it is completely the opposite, thankfully that is the case for the whole of this record. It is a clinic in how to create images taking the listener into another space all together some darker (Ender), others relaxing, ‘Stillness’, a fitting name indeed. As the track sways beautifully along the listener is engrossed in gorgeous tones mixed in with soft percussion. ‘You Are Here Now’ ends on the immense ‘Before the War’ which is a culmination of all the tremendous music that precedes it. In doing so it is both rich in textures and grand in scale giving the crescendo that the genre often demands. ‘Before the War’ elevates the album from good to phenomenal. Atmospheric, soothing plus many things in-between ‘You Are Here Now’ should be on your list of new bands you are lovin’. EJ
Breath After Coma – Leaders Presumably named after a rather excellent Explosions In The Sky song, Breath After Coma are a four-piece rock band hailing from Athens, Greece. Four years and one other album after their inception in 2013, here we are at their sophomore album, ‘Leaders’. ‘Leaders’ is a “pretty good” album, to put it extremely simply. The main problem with ‘Leaders’ is also the thing that it is entirely built around. In 2017 there are an awful lot of bands making well-produced, simple rock music with big choruses and decent riffs. ‘Leaders’ is exactly such an album, and although it is perfectly fine to listen to, it isn’t really anything new or original. Breath After Coma list their influences as bands like Jimi Hendrix, Led Zeppelin, Nirvana, Audioslave, Incubus, Radiohead, Pink Floyd and Deep Purple, and whilst there are elements of all of these bands in their sound, Breath After Coma manage just about not to fall into the trap of just sounding exactly like these bands. Yes it’s very clear that they wear their influences on their sleeve, but at least Breath After Coma do have their own sound that isn’t just aped off of something from the 80s.
Still, for what it is, it is done well. In Britain we have a whole load of bands making “nice” rock music, and at least Breath After Coma sound like they’re actually playing their instruments rather than just using computers to make it sound like someone playing a guitar very well. Singer Orestes T. has a genuinely good voice reminiscent of Robert Plant in some bits, and Justin Hawkins from The Darkness in some of the falsetto sections. There’s a lot of very enjoyable sections on ‘Leaders’, particularly ‘Duncan Harris’ and the genuinely excellent ‘I, The Animal’, but unfortunately none of them are quite outstanding enough, nor breathtakingly original enough, to prompt a re-listen to the album as a whole without a reminder. Still, if your bag is less “what the kids are doing these days” and more rooted in simple, solid rock and roll, then you should absolutely check out ‘Leaders’! AL
Within The Ruins - Halfway Human There is always the pre-thought notions that are on most metal records, “you are going to get some crazy, mental riffs, technical playing from all members involved with a healthy amount of face melting solos.” Within The Ruins checked all those boxes on ‘Halfway Human’. As soon as it gets into the first track ‘Shape-Shifter’ you know that it is going to one hell of a ride. It is as heavy as possible but not to a level where it loses all melody and is like trudging through the thickest bog imaginable, instead it is balanced with some killer lead guitar playing akin to Kirk Hammett’s work. ‘Ivory Tower’ is a more straight edge mosh with there being less screaming guitar but more chunky rhythm and destructive drums. A simpler structure meaning there is less to get through as it punches you square in the jaw, over and over again. ‘Antaxia IV’ is the longest of the eleven coming in at 6:52. Here is the best example of the classic metal tones of the lead guitar and the deathcore elements, electronic inspirations (by that I am referring to the rhythm guitar being played and the sound of it) really explode into one great instrumental. ‘Halfway Human’ is itself halfway between traditional metal and deathcore with it being a leading light into just how well the relationship works together. EJ
Minus The Bear - VOIDS Following a five-year hiatus, American indie-rock four piece Minus The Bear are back with their fifth studio album, ‘Voids’. After struggling with founding member drummer Erin Tate, it seemed the band were at something of a loss, but after returning to previous record label Suicide Squeeze, Minus The Bear are back at what they do best. With the first three albums, ‘Highly Refined Pirates’, ‘Menos El Oso’, and ‘Planet Of Ice’, all released under the Suicide Squeeze label, ‘Voids’ definitely feels like a nostalgic nod to what made MTB so appealing in the first place. With mid-tempo dance grooves and frontman Jake Snider’s low-pitched vocals delivered in an almost monotone-esque tone adding to the heartfelt lyrics really culminates in a reminiscent look back whilst simultaneously moving forward, now with only one remaining founding member. Opener ‘Last Kiss’ rings influences from the debut ‘Highly Refined Pirates’ whilst the staccato drum-led track serves as a fitting introduction to new drummer Kiefer Matthias and what he can do. ‘Give and Take’ and ‘Call The Cops’ are soothing calming tracks with Snider’s vocals elongating over an atmospheric guitar tapping from Dave Knudson. ‘Invisible’ is a stand out as this allows all members of the band to share the stage, each taking turns of stepping into the limelight throughout various parts of the track. Alex Rose’s keyboards are kept simple but ring throughout maintaining tempo, Matthias’s drums go from slow build-up to hard-hitting rock but are each kept in line with Snider’s vocals stepping out of the falsetto delivery and reaches slightly higher notes to deliver the chorus hook of “no you’re not invisible”, a more positive approach of lyrics that stands out from the more heartfelt tracks on ‘VOIDS’. ‘Robotic Hearts’ follows a similar template with prog-rock taking presence over the genre, proving that MTB can straddle on both sides with monster tracks being just as effective as ‘What About The Boat?’ and ‘Erase’, tame tracks which truly pull on the emotive spectrum. ‘VOIDS’ is a glorious return from Minus The Bear, with reflective nods to the past and a hopeful look towards the future, fans can only be perfectly content and hopeful after they take a listen. NS
The Poynt – Alpha Queue (EP) The Poynt’s brand new EP kicks off with ‘This Dying World’, an easy number with a cool riff and an interesting summery vibe. In contrast ‘Not Quite Jesus’ shows their grunge influences with its heavy riff and reverb atmospheric instrumental, very reminiscent of Nirvana, the instrumental does however over power the lacklustre lyrics. ‘Open Your Mouth’ is a better track with much catchier verses with a potent instrumental, the quick sharp lyrics create a snappy enjoyable number. The guitar skills continue on ‘Back Home’ with a gloomy bass line and dragging vocals, the intro reminds me a lot of Superheaven, and there’s added aggression on the background vocals which is needed as the track is pretty monotonous. ‘Disguise Disfraz’ is a much more upbeat number with a higher vocal key and an appealing riff, the chorus is full of American soul rock, overall it’s a much more sophisticated solid number. The penultimate track ‘Lift Shadows’ continues the experimental theme with a disjointed riff and echoed vocals, however it’s one of the weakest tracks on the EP. The EP closes with ‘En Somme N’ia Ah’ which is beautifully produced with its hollow riff and industrial bass line. The band do a great job at times on the EP combining the calm vocal style with enigmatic instrumental, there’s plenty to leave you intrigued after listening to it. There are areas which could be more polished but as a first major release, The Poynt should be pleased with what they’ve produced. JP
Next Step – Legacy Metal band Next Step kick straight into action with a punchy riff on ‘Wounds Become Scars’, the ferocious instrumental combines with a soulful rock vocal reminiscent of David Draiman from Distrubed; the solid chorus tops off a really cool opening to the album. The riffs get bolder on ‘End of Falling’ and it reminds me of Rise Against, but with more of a metal influence, the guitar solo towards the end of the track shows some really impressive guitar work. ‘Echoes of a Life’ is incredibly anthemic with its strong instrumental and the superb soulful vocals, again the band use the second half of the song to display their instrumental skills, it’s well produced and makes a great impact. The band change the pace with ‘Nature Calls’ a much more melodic number, with less potency but the simple nature of the track provides a nice bridge between the heavier songs.
‘Price we Pay’ is one the longer tracks on the record, with an eerie intro, which is followed by a good chorus and more extravagant riffs but it does feel a little long when it passes the five minute mark. ‘Follow’ again makes me draw comparison of the likes of Disturbed and System of a Down with the clear vocal style shining through, the band have a clever writing style where they let the vocals/instruments stand out separately, it creates a very clean and solid sound. I’m encouraged by the band’s variety with the more acoustic title track ‘Legacy’, the vocals have a bit more edge and the chorus is huge. ‘Humans’ is one of the bigger anthems on the album, with its frantic riff and another impressive chorus, in contrast the penultimate track ‘Whatever May Come’ is completely stripped back with a more emotional vocal reflecting the lyrics, it’s a really heartfelt number and adds a new element other than the usual power riffs. The album closes with the nine minute long ‘Faith Collapsing’ which may seem a little long, but there’s a series of different sounds and tones making it quite an interesting final piece to the puzzle, there’s some slick guitar work two thirds into the track, and it’s been well produced and projected throughout the album. Overall it’s a solid album that any metal fan would enjoy, the guitar work is sensational at times and even the vocals compliment the bruising sound really well. JP
Katana Cartel - War - Part 1 Hailing from the deep down under land of Australia comes one of the most promising heavy metal bands in recent times and is definitely one to look out for. Melbourne’s Katana Cartel explode onto the scene with the release of their EP, ‘War: Part 1’. It’s a powerful and raunchy display of killer solos, deliciously delivered vocals, all combining together to create a sound Metallica would be proud of, they’re that bloody good. Opening the EP and offering the first insight into Cartel’s sound is ‘Pay My Dues’. If there was ever a trailer or a presentation to show you a little bit of everything of what these guys can do, it’s here. Vocalist Steve Falkingham offers a powerful delivery whereas Rob Georgievski and Aidan Le Gassick on guitars offer continuously high tempo distortion laced with enticing solos which truly epitomize the genre at its absolute best. The title track ‘War’ is a 4-minute adrenaline ride which begins and ends at top speed, refusing to slow down. It’s easy to imagine this track to be a full on sweaty-haired mosh pit inducing track, whose pure function is to get you pumped up to the max.
It’s a trend which they continue throughout the EP in various methods, enabling each track to stand out in its individual glory. ‘Raiden’ allows Falkingham to showcase his lyrical work whilst allowing the musical genius to bleed through with yet another glorious guitar solo taking the limelight. It’s a simple riff continuously played over a fast building staccato build-up which manages to maintain your attention long enough for you forget it holds the majority of the track. High-tempo delivered guitars and lyrics is a theme which continues to ‘Antagoniser’. A track which relentlessly plays with the delivery, changing from upbeat in-your-face aggressive snarls from the front man to then slow things right down with a wailing anthem of a guitar solo to then switch to elongated tones, coming to a standstill and then back to 100 miles an hour pure metal guitar solo to truly catapult Katana Cartel’s musical presence to the top for sure. Bringing the EP to a close ‘The Demons Door’ picks up where all previous tracks have left off with an infectious riff, an insane guitar solo and consistently pulling themselves in different directions, this time with a bassline instrumental before letting loose for the tracks instrumental before coming to a built-up finish and finally letting a gasp of air, leaving you simply thinking “wow, that was insane.” NS
Sam Duckworth - Kingdoms Sam Duckworth has gone by a few names in his time as a musician. Originally under the Batman influenced ‘Get Cape, Wear Cape. Fly’ and later known as ‘Recreation’, the Essex born singer-songwriter is back to his simple birth name as ‘Kingdoms’ brings Duckworth back to his roots, under the folk genre – something he was born to do. ‘Kingdoms’ is an acoustic album, just a man and his guitar and all the gripes he has with the world delivered in simple yet powerfully succinct tracks. Each packs a punch, each is relatable, and most importantly, it’s some of the realist shit that’s landed in a while. Beginning with opener ‘All These Nights’, it’s clear what the album will hold almost immediately. It’s a charming track littered with positivity. The hook line of the chorus of “You can break the cycle if you’re willing to change” strikes a chord with many people throughout the country feeling down on their luck. Creating tracks which resonates with the British public in a unique singing-but-somehow-speaking style is something Duckworth’s got down to a T. In ‘1986’ he points out “everything’s a myth, all the punks like Taylor Swift” and in ‘Lifestyle Concept Store’ he criticises the dying music scene of small venues with the sobering line of “it’s tell or be told, sell or be sold out’. Standout track ‘3rd Generation’ outlines the sadly all too familiar tale of a father leaving the family home, losing a job in the market crash, and moving back home at 21, to have a child of your own at 26. It’s a simple tale, a rhyming story only curated into a song from Sam’s acoustic and a catchy chorus.
Although ‘Kingdoms’ points out the bad in the world, it’s also littered with positivity to create a collection of sincere heartfelt deliveries. Following ‘3rd Generation’ is the delightfully upbeat ‘1993’ it’s reflectory on a childhood in the 90s but the chorus line of “rip it up and start again” assisted with the cherry ‘la la las’ switches gears whilst maintaining Duckworth’s unique sound and delivery. Switching things around yet again is track ‘Wrong Way Round’. Where the majority of the previous tracks have been a simple man and his guitar, this track utilises simple and effective techniques to create a whole new emphasis on the message Duckworth’s delivering. With a double track on his own voice and the added use of an electric guitar overlaying his acoustic and at times alternating, creates a track which outlines a message of picking yourself up when things are going wrong. It’s something that trickles through to ‘Multitasker’. A track which hints towards a possible new direction for Duckworth as this is by far the catchy-est track, still ringing out with positivity and a sobering reflection on society. Overall, Sam Duckworth has created an album which adds nicely to Xtra Miles Recordings family of standout folk artists such as Beans On Toast and Will Varley. A man and his guitar, creating real music and doing a damn fine job at it. NS
Crash Midnight - Lost In The City Hailing from the streets of Boston America, Crash Midnight are a vintage rock ‘n’ roll band who truly pack the punch with hardcore guitar riffs, gut wrenching vocals and pure energy unrivalled by many. With their latest release ‘Lost In The City’ hitting the shelves, fans can finally see what the hype is all about. ‘Lost In The City’ starts with opener ‘151’ A steady yet quick build-up of drums and straight into distorted heavy hitting guitars, they waste no time in getting straight into things with front man Shaun Soho’s rock vocals mixed with Alex Donaldson’s non-stop tasty licks and riffs, it only takes a minute to fall in love with the sound of Crash Midnight. The energy this band leaks is something that continues throughout the album. The sex-driven ‘Roxy’ is a tale of a drug taking prostitute, screaming influences from the likes of Steel Panther. There’s something quite humorous about screaming the lyrics of “Roxy! What’s your price tonight?’ but you don’t care as you’re probably head banging your rock n roll locks whilst fist-pumping in the air. It’s not all distorted guitars and mosh-pits however, there’s an intellectual musical knowledge at play. ‘Welcome To Boston’ chooses a delayed effect mixed with a wah-wee pedal and ‘Diamond Boulevard’ is a monster of a track which lets the spirt of rock n roll take precedence through Midnight Crash’s delivery of distorted guitars. They allow Donaldson and co to truly let rip and is surely a sight to behold for anyone lucky enough to witness them live. Unfortunately, as good as individual tracks may be, they fall into the trap of sounding that little bit same-y. If you were chillin’ in your room having a first listen, chances are you’ll find a few tracks have drifted by. It seems as though they have a set template for tracks in the form of insane guitar solos, slow drum build ups and then shouting the main chorus lyrics. As the saying goes “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it” but maybe try something different every now and then. NS
Synaptik – Justifty & Reason Metal is in quite a weird place in 2017. On one hand there are plenty of bands trying to do something new, and either failing or getting told “we don’t like this new thing play the thing we already know we like”, or there are bands who sound like old bands that get told “boring, we already know this one, do something else”. Synaptik are just on the very edge straddling the two camps – whilst there’s plenty of old-school throwbacks on ‘Justify & Reason’, the production and attitude towards the instruments in particular are refreshingly contemporary. Fans of old-school metal are almost certainly going to love this album. The vocals in particular are straight out of the 1980s, and the musical canvas they are laid over (though produced much better than what was coming out around then – thank God for technology) manages to be both current-sounding and still noticeably rooted in more traditional metal.
There are a few times, in ‘The Incredible Machine’ in particular, where the vocals and instruments seem to be trying to do two different things at once. While the instruments are playing some heavy-metal that wouldn’t sound out of place on a melo-death album, the vocals are wailing away sounding like Judas Priest. ‘Justify & Reason’ is a “pretty good” album. If you’re into your metal heavy and not particularly original then it will absolutely be your bag, and at only 6 tracks but 35 minutes long, it’s short enough to be worth your while but each track is long enough to get stuck into. AL
Less Than Jake - Sound The Alarm (EP) 25 years Less Than Jake have been on the go, it doesn’t feel quite right, but then when I consider it must be at least 18 years since I saw them supporting Snuff at the now sadly departed London Astoria it isn’t quite so difficult to fathom. A few despairing thoughts about my own age with this realisation later, this EP takes me back to why I always enjoyed Less Than Jake as much. If memory serves they were touring ‘Hello Rockview’ at the time I first saw them, I hadn’t heard of them at the time and they blew me away and I have seen them a few times since. The opener has a slight hint of ‘Last One Out of Liberty City’, it is fast paced and melodic with the right amount of anthem init to make it a stand out song. The “Woahs” are used well and the horns as always never overdo it and drop in and out to great effect highlighting the gift for dynamic the band has always had. On ‘Whatever the Weather’ finds the bass and horns taking a more leading role, Chris DeMakes vocal is thoughtful and packs in some big emotions that continue into ‘Bomb Drop’ which musically is heavier and harder hitting but again the vocals give it a new element. DeMakes has a great voice, it brings a character and a depth to the songs, it can change the tone of a song at any point. That isn’t easy to do and he does it seemingly without effort. What this EP shows, especially with a song such as ‘Years of Living Dangerously’ is that even after 25 years, Less Than Jake still have the ability to do something different. Parts of this record seem to be experimenting and it works very well. They still have it and long may it continue. AN
Ocean Grove - The Rhapsody Manifesto There are a lot of good bands coming out of Australia now, Melbourne natives Ocean Grove have one of the countries most anticipated debut albums in a long time. ‘Beers’ kicks it off with a fuzz heavy hardcore sound that has, to my ears, a slight feel of Ministry/Nine Inch Nails at points. It is a crushing start that descends into a chaotic ending that fizzes aggression and is simply put, a banger. ‘Thunder Dome – Running Touch’ shifts style quite considerably into an electronic sound before crashing into an explosion of noise, it certainly wasn’t what I expected but a band that can bring the unexpected can only be a good thing as far as I’m concerned. With how much predictability there is at times with bands these days it gives them a chance to stand out and that makes it so much more interesting to listen to, there is certainly familiar sounds to the likes of ‘Intimate Alien’ with Korn heavy influence on it but taking it among the rest of the album it fits and works nicely. There is differing elements littered throughout the whole album, the first five songs alone had five vastly different styles, while some bands might be made to sound disjointed by this, Ocean Grove have an ability to make them all work and sound like they should be on the same album. This debut might be a band finding what sound suits them best and future records could move more towards a particular style but as a starting point they have something that may not please absolutely everyone but have something that will please enough people, enough of the time to see them grow and take their next steps. AN
Smith Street Band - More Scared Of You Than You Are Of Me One of Australia’s best bands over the past few years are back with the follow up to ‘Throw Me in The River’, the album which very much brought them to many more attentions than ever before, this is a big album for the boys. They kick it off in promising fashion with ‘Forrest’ smashing it from the start, Wil Wagner leading with that distinctive voice of his. He begins ‘Birthdays’ with a bit of teenage angst ringing through, declaring the cleaning of his bedroom with the hopes of a female wishing to check it out. It adds a little bit of humour to the song as it continues to storm into ‘Death to the Lads’. The song has already become a live favourite, with its immediately memorable chorus, it is easy to see why, it was the perfect song to showcase the album in advance. There is a thoughtfulness with this bands lyrics, the delivery of Vincent really makes it though, he has a livedin expression. There’s no bullshit with it, it is as honest as you will get with vocal performances, his telling a story and he’s doing it in his own voice. The powerful output from the band makes it all come together, if ‘Throw Me in The River’ brought them to a wider audience then this one should be the moment it explodes. It would only be fair. AN
Emmure - Look At Yourself Being subtle has never been part of the Emmure philosophy, shear aggression and ferocity always takes centre stage with these guys. It is no different on ‘Look at Yourself’. After the intro track ‘You Asked for It’ it is straight into it with ‘Shinjuku Overlord’, “do you think I give a fuck?” comes the roaring question, the answer is simple and to the point, “because I Don’t.” It isn’t just a line in a song, over the years Frankie Palemeri has shown that is a philosophy well held. There is no let up, the songs themselves have varying degrees of ferocity, there isn’t much time to breath in amongst them and when they do come, it doesn’t mean they are taking the foot off the gas. It continues to be intense and at times even uncomfortable, the wailing of the guitar in the background of ‘Natural Born Killer’ makes it hard to listen to but impossible to pull away from. It is a grand spectacle of deathcore, it’s a crowded genre but Emmure continue to stand out from the pack. They are not reinventing the wheel with what they are doing on this album but it is still far above most of their contemporaries. Once again, they have an album of hate anthems, angry music at its ugly best. AN
Gravil - No More Forgiveness It’s been a while, I suspect far longer than had been intended but Gravil are finally back with the follow up to ‘Thoughts of a Rising Sun’, following a particularly gruelling 2016 ‘No More Forgiveness’ is here and they are making up for lost time. Opener ‘detonate’ wastes no time in showing that the frustrations from the previous year has been channelled well and truly into this record, mixing melody and bruising riffs it is a tremendous start with ‘Are We Alive’ continuing the assault without missing a beat. After such an imposing start it is a little relief to find the gradual build of ‘Plagues, Thieves and Murderers’ to take stock, it is a controlled song that grows in its own time, the pace chops and changes making for an interesting signature on the song. There is a fire on this album, an anger that the band have done well to channel in such a way, it would be easy for it to descend into chaos, which it does but in a positive way that finds the songs having their own individual identities and collectively making ‘No More Forgiveness’ what it is. The first release ‘Decommissioned’ was well chosen as the introduction to the new album, it serves to wet an appetite for an album long awaited and very well executed. AN
Creeper - Eternity In Your Arm Southampton’s Creeper has grown in the last few years with their unique take on punk, and cleverly disguising their sound through their gothic dark image. This was one of my most anticipated albums of the year coming into 2017. The album kicks off with plenty of energy with ‘Black Rain’ a really fast paced song filled with attitude and an incredibly anthemic chorus “And in the rain, I screamed your name” it’s a song that typifies why the band are so enjoyable to listen to. The fast start continues with the supercharged ‘Poison Pens’ which initially reminds me a lot of early Set Your Goals, the lyrics are particularly unusual which adds an interesting feeling to the track. ‘Suzanne’ has more aggressive pop punk vibes and reminds me of Sum 41, the band really impress again with the killer chorus and the repeated shout of “now” will translate well on a live stage. ‘Hiding with Boys’ is one of the more personal numbers on the record, and discusses an ex of someone in the band, or a close friend. The lyrics seem to imply a real personal struggle – “Loving you is killing me” which is sung with real emotion. The emotional theme continues on the brilliant ‘Misery’ the shaky vocals are produced really well and create a stirring number, the song sees the band reflect on things years ago, there’s a particularly intriguing lyric in the chorus – “If you could see the wreck I am these days, you’d have new reasons to stay away” implying that the struggles that the person had before remain the same now.
‘Down Below’ is one for The Gaslight Anthem fans, that easy sound which is so incredibly catchy, the chorus is fantastic with the real potent gang vocals, however the repeated lyric does seem a little repetitive by the end of the track. ‘Room 309’ showcases more of the impressive work from the band’s drummer, maintaining a ferocious pace. There’s an indication of the band’s horror genre with the lyric “I’ve been a man, now a ghost. Two of the things you fear most”, there’s a clever introduction at the end of the song of the band’s vocalist Hannah Greenwood, who shows her vocal ability on ‘Crickets’ the raspy finish on her vocals adds a nice edge, reflecting the heartbreak theme in the lyrics. The soulful punk style returns through ‘Darling’ which reminds me of The Bouncing Souls with the quick bass line and catchy hooks, there’s a particularly hopeless lyric with “Darling, we all die alone” perhaps trying to gloss over the repeated theme of heartbreak and break up. The pace is similar on a lot of the songs on this album – ‘Winona Forever’ again proves the band’s song writing ability with another catchy chorus. The closing track title ends the album on a positive note – ‘I Chose To Live’, the song itself would bring a perfect ending to a Creeper live set – “But life don't seem as dark when I sing with you, with you” and I can imagine an amazing atmosphere when the crowd sing “woaah, oh, I choose to live.” It’s an impressive first full length for a band who will continue to rise in the forthcoming months; they have created a very unique identity and create really fun music that you can sing along to. I hope they inspire more British up and coming punk bands to create great music. JP
Mastodon – Emperor Of Sand American progressive metal act Mastodon from Atlanta, Georgia are back with fifth album ‘Emperor Of Sand’. The album follow’s 2014’s ‘Once More ‘Round The Sun’, and sees the return of the epic concepts, after having two albums with no concept since the trio of ‘Leviathan’, ‘Blood Mountain’ and ‘Crack The Skye’, they are back with a far simpler but equally powerful story. It is inspired by the bands family/friends personal experiences, who were diagnosed with cancer, and follows a desert wanderer who has been given a death sentence and explores the meaning of life/survival and death. First song and single, ‘Sultan’s Curse’ dances around with mighty power and rich hefty guitars that explode with depth and class. The lyrics immediately begin to set the desolate scene with lines such as, “Tired and lost, no one to trust, who is there to give the push” and “my sweet mirage, I bathe in sacred waters”… Previously released, ‘Show Yourself’ is immediately melodically striking and assertive. This is the perfect choice for a single, as it is more accessible and lighter than some of their other material. Having an almost pop rock vibe but not without a dark edge with classic Mastodon charm and style seeping through. ‘Precious Stones’ doesn’t tread lightly, as it features some of the chunkiness and heavy riffs so far and a chaotic sense of urgency. This is well balanced by sweet melodic clean sections that tie in well with ‘Show Yourself’. One of the biggest and most defining moments comes from ‘Steambreather’ with its epic down tuned grooves, the Mastodon speciality. Its belting far reaching chorus and stomping dark instruments, blended with cleverly crafted effects and synths, make this a must hear and will surely be a fan favourite. ‘Clandestiny’ hits hard immediately with heavy instrumentation and emotive almost pained vocals, all delivered and wrapped around in larger than life settings and resonance, which you come to expect.
Latest single, ‘Andromeda’ features two vocal guests, Scott Kelly of Neurosis and Kevin Sharp of Brutal Truth to give it an even more expansive sound, something they have no shortage off. It shows a more aggressive side, especially as we near the end and contains one of the best pelting guitar solos. A pivotal track to aid the concept, with lyrics such as, “Time watching as the sand flows through glass. Light calls to me from future and from past”. Closing and largely elegant song, ‘Jaguar God’ changes the pace, but sits well and is an effective and interesting one to end on, being unpredictable by combining the best elements of all in this eight minute glorious and sorrowful offering. This impressive concept album glides between crushing prog masterpieces, radio friendly rock anthems and weighty heavy numbers, all with massive swooping choruses, which lyrically encompass dark struggles, and although the concept and sound is pessimistic, it shines in the darkness through its ambience and resonance. It is also extremely beautiful and layered, like a work of art, or more fittingly like an artefact that is uncovered in the desert, that needs to be thoroughly examined and sifted through to truly uncover all the meanings and hidden depth. CL
Sorority Noise - You're Not As ___________ As You Think Connecticut’s indie rock band Sorority Noise return with their 3rd full length album, following their successful ‘Joy, Departed’ in 2015. The album kicks off with the summery ‘No Halo’ with its awesome guitar feedback in the background, the arrangement of this song however seems a little confused, I’m not sure if it’s intentional, the chorus is bold though and it’s a solid opening track. ‘A Portrait Of’ has a great storytelling feel in the lyrics, the scratchy experimental riff works well in contrast with the lazy vocals, there’s even some spoken word thrown in to create an atmosphere of anger. ‘First Letter from St. Sean’ is much more stripped back and there’s a noticeable desperation in the vocals reflecting the sad message in the lyrics, the guitar effects are eerie but there’s a particular beauty to it.
‘A Better Sun’ initially has a real bluesy feel to it, the echoed vocals add another dimension to an already innovative album, it is lacking lyrically. ‘Dissapeared’ is more up tempo and has more of a pop punk feel to it; it reminds me a lot of Modern Baseball with the personal story in the lyrics and an upbeat drum pattern, the chorus is particularly enjoyable. ‘Car’ is one of the shorter tracks on the album and gives the listener an insight into the personal struggles of the band, there is another huge chorus, it’s very personal and it may be very relatable for people going through similar issues. ‘Where Are You?’ Continues the unfortunate truth of somebody in the band having lost close friends – “I’ve got friends who’ve died, but everything’s going to be alright” this lyric is stirring and implies that the band are using their music to try and move on and see the positive. ‘Second Letter from St. Julien’ is incredibly motive and tells the story of the band losing friends through drugs and sees the band question their religious belief, there’s a sudden burst of anger in the vocals reflecting the band wanting to get the pressure of their chest. The ending is particularly moving and sees an emotional outburst and tribute to the friends they’ve lost. The penultimate track ‘Leave The Fan On’ is another powerful number with an anthemic instrumental which essentially makes you forget any of the lyrics in the song. The album closes with the homemade ‘New Room’ which sounds very much like a demo, the final lyric “It's not fair anymore” is an intriguing closing statement and leaves you wondering what the lyrics are referring to. It’s a very emotionally charged record and will be particularly relatable to fans that may have lost a close friend, the bold riffs and use of guitar feedback on some of the tracks is phenomenal, it creates a very atmospheric record. JP
Since their formation in 2004 Paramore have risen to the dizzying heights of success, now being one of the biggest American pop rock bands of today. It’s hard to fathom that ‘Riot!’ their second album was released a decade ago now, back in 2007. They have come a long way since then, but this album was a pivotal moment in their career, as it saw them break away more from convention and explore different genres more than their 2005 well received debut, ‘All We Know Is Falling’. It still featured the signature Paramore sound that they introduced, but went the extra mile and went on to deliver loved and treasured songs such as, lead single, the infectiously catchy, ‘Misery Business’ which is still considered today one of their biggest and most well-known songs. Other singles included the massively melodic and popular pop rock anthem ‘crushcrushcrush’ and the more mainstream extremely upbeat ‘That’s What You Get’. I think the reason it soared so well then and still now, is because it offered more fun and upbeat vibes within the rock scene, something a bit different at the time of its release, as well as within just the album itself, it has something for everyone to enjoy. As a fan of heavier rock/metal largely, I embraced this more uplifting sound, as it made a good change of pace, and let’s face it, it was hard to resist their instantly memorable hits, something they quickly mastered early in their career, again standing out as young exciting musicians, displaying creativity and skill, but most importantly inspiring fellow young musicians to write music.
They have gone on to inspire new heavy hitters of today, such as Pvris and Against The Current. The music and context behind ‘Riot!’ was like an outburst of emotions, which the album certainly achieved. It featured high energy pop punk/rock, hints of alt rock and more mellow chilled rock ballad type songs like, ‘When It Rains’. Some of my personal favourite songs which weren’t singles, are ‘Fences’ and ‘Let The Flames Begin’, which is actually one of my all-time favourite songs by them, as it offers a more serious harder edgy sound and is injected with passion, emotive lyrics and was delivered in a striking manner, both vocally and instrumentally, showing a more mature side of the band. ‘Riot!’ was rebellious, fun and chilled, with everything rolled into one explosive package that was much needed at the time of landing in 2007, and is still very relevant and enjoyed today as a result of this. It will always be regarded as one of their biggest highlights as a band for what it achieved for them, and for continuing to showcase their ability to produce huge pop rock anthems – ten years on and Paramore are still going strong and delivering their finest material, so not much has changed there! CL
This is possibly one of my favourite records of all time, the combination of the vocals of Derek Sanders and Jason Lancaster created a brilliant sound. Each song has its own role on the album, I remember when I had my long fringe back in the emo days and I used to listen to this album on repeat, sometimes all day. There are just so many catchy songs on this record, the superb ‘Jamie All Over’ is such an anthem and opens the album brilliantly. Then throughout the album there’s just so many hits, the extremely catchy ‘Black Cat’ was such an awesome song to get the crowd involved when I saw Mayday Parade live, I have great memories of a packed out Clwb Ifor Bach singing the “whoaa, oh, oh, oh.” ‘Jersey’ probably has the best chorus on the entire album; Jason’s vocals added that little extra edge which I feel Mayday Parade have always lacked after he left the band in 2007. The band were so clever with the different changes in pace and ‘If You Wanted a Song Written About You, All You Had to Do Was Ask’ is a perfect example of that. ‘Miserable at Best’ was always a major crowd pleaser, it’s awesome to hear live and join everyone in a good old sing along even if the song is kind of sad.
The brilliant choruses continue in ‘Ocean and Atlantic’ and especially in ‘I'd hate To Be You When People Find Out What This Song is About’ which also has a brilliant riff. The only bad thing about the album may be the super long song titles but you can’t help but love the closing song ‘You Be the Anchor That Keeps My Feet on the Ground, I'll Be the Wings That Keep Your Heart in the Clouds’ which is super emotional but is beautifully performed by the band. This album proved that the band are super talented both as writers and musicians, the album was the soundtrack in many of my teenage years and I still thoroughly enjoy listening to the album ten years on, I also hope to catch their ‘A Lesson In Romantics’ UK Tour later this year! JP
Listening back to ‘Take To The Skies’ now it’s hard to imagine that it’s already ten years old. I can remember one of my friends handing me his headphones in the school playground and playing me ‘Sorry You’re Not A Winner’ and thinking “what the hell is this??” Though I’ve now had plenty of time to become more than acquainted with ‘Take To The Skies’, and the subsequent albums Enter Shikari have put out, ‘Take To The Skies’ is still no less baffling now as it was when that spotty teenager with his fringe in his face first heard it all that time ago. Songs like ‘Mothership’ and ‘Labyrinth’, as some of the standout tracks from the album do still hold up. They sound dated, but in a nice nostalgic way. Maybe it’s the not-so-clean production, the blend of bleepy synths (rather than deep bass or dubstep wubs) and early 00s hardcore, or the absence of the political commentary that would go on to dominate much of Rou Reynolds’ lyrics in the years to come, but this album is very much “Of Its Time.” Having said that, if you go to any given rock club night these days, chances are you’re still going to hear ‘Sorry, You’re Not A Winner’, in all its clappy glory.
The main joy of listening to ‘Take To The Skies’ now though, is not in listening to the album itself, but in letting it play as a soundtrack to thinking about what came after. Enter Shikari have released a whole bunch of albums themselves and played some legendary gigs, but they also helped influence a countless number of bands. Musically without them we probably wouldn’t have Crossfaith or Astroid Boys or the last Bring Me The Horizon album. But ‘Take To The Skies’ also made it cool for greebo kids to listen to more than just rock music. “You’re a kid who likes hardcore? You love ‘Take To The Skies’, Boom, now you listen to Skrillex.” Just putting all of our embarrassing MySpace pages documenting our scene kid days aside for a second, the crossover appeal of ‘Take To The Skies’, and especially what Enter Shikari did later in their career with this as their Launchpad, is a massive point that it seems a lot of people don’t give them enough credit for. Obviously there are holes in ‘Take To The Skies’. No album is perfect. That’s not what I’m saying. But even listening to the bad or boring bits on ‘Take To The Skies’ is still enjoyable, because it reminds you of a time when you would go absolutely mad for it. It’s a trip down “nostalgia Avenue,” yes, but one where you’re constantly looking back up the road to now and reminding yourself of how much enjoyment this thing brought you and countless others like you. AL
There are a bunch of other records I could write about here, including Foo Fighters - Echoes, Silence, Patience & Grace, Arctic Monkeys - Favourite Worst Nightmare, Linkin Park - Minutes To Midnight, Funeral For A Friend - Tales Don't Tell Themselves and MORE, and I guess just looking at those albums you can see that it was quite an experimental time for a lot of bands, they all seemed to be on that bridge between the sound that made them who they are to the sound that they are known for today. Another band on this exciting journey was of course Jimmy Eat World, who were taking on the world with their exceptional album 'Chase This Light'!
After the insane response to 'Futures' the whole alternative rock scene was extremely excited to see what Jimmy Eat World could come up with, and they managed to surpass the hype by giving us 'Chase This Light', which from the moment you put on will have you absolutely hooked. 'Big Casino' is a brilliant way to open an album, and as soon as Jim Adkins starts the song with "before this world starts up again, it's me and night", you'll already be intrigued to hear the rest of the record. Another great line from the song is "there's still some living left when your prime comes and goes" which for me means that maybe when you've sort of found what you wanted to do with your life, and feel like you don't know what to do next because you've achieved it, to not think so much into it, because everything isn't as bad as it seems. But hey, that's just my meaning for the lyrics. 'Always Be' is another massive Jimmy Eat World anthem, and from the first time I heard it I had it on t repeat for many weeks to follow. An uplifting song musically that also runs parallel to some intense lyrics from the band "I'm alone in this, I'm as I've always been, Right behind what's happening." 'Electable (Give It Up)' is so addictive to listen to, with its ridiculous and somewhat fuzzy backbone from the band fronted with the catchy "oh oh ohs!" in the chorus, you'll have this great song stuck in your head for years to come. 'Gotta Be Somebody's Blues' is the most chilled out track on the record, and with its stunning mix of dreamy vocals, strummed acoustics, violin melodies, heavy drums and bass to back, the song acts as the perfect half time moment in the album. 'Feeling Lucky' jumps straight back into it, with a whirlwind of alternative rock sounds, that will have you tapping your feet throughout. 'Chase This Light' is a beautiful song, and like many JEW tracks will work well on a long night drive to who knows where. One of my favorite tracks on the album is 'Firefight', I wish they'd play this one live more, because it's such a hard hitting anthem that you can only listen to at max volume to feel the full impact of its intensity. It's a reminder of how furious the band can be when they want to, and again gives good dynamic to the roller coaster of the album that that is 'Chase This Light'. With its unique chords and melody 'Distraction' acts as the perfect end to the album, it's a relentless song that doesn't stop to breathe, and when I heard it in 2007, I was left wanting more music at this level from the band. Thankfully I didn't need to worry, because the ten years that followed were just as rewarding as what the end of the album left us promising. AD
Long before All Time Low became the poster boys for the pop-punk genre, there was one album that truly catapulted themselves forward to the arena sell-out acts they are today. Known for their exhilarating live performances, catchy tracks and crazy amounts of hairspray in their hair, ‘So Wrong, It’s Right’ is the album that cemented the boys from Maryland as a staple of the pop-punk genre. Strictly speaking, ‘So Wrong, It’s Right’ is All Time Low’s second outing as 2005’s debut ‘The Party Scene’ hit the shelves as an explosive introduction to the band. It’s the plethora of hard-hitting tracks of album number two however that truly showed the world just what they can achieve. In its first week of release, the album sold over 14,000 copies with thanks to monumentally massive tracks such as ‘Dear Maria, Count Me In’, ‘Six Feet Under The Stars’ and ‘Poppin’ Champagne’ which featured Automatic Lover’s Juliet Simms. These are the tracks which beamed through every teenager’s headphones going through the emo phase at high school as they tirelessly backcombed their hair and lathered it in hairspray in an attempt to look like frontman Alex Gasgarth.
Some bands when going through “the phase” however may drift away and be forgotten, however the sheer essence of these tracks are the ones which get carried over into adulthood. With the news of arena tours hitting your local music venue still gurentees to raise a smile as you reminisce with your friends on those days in the sun screaming out the chorus of “Dear Maria, Count Me In”. It’s fair to say that without the second album becoming such a pivotal release for All Time Low, the consistent success they’ve gone onto would never have been possible. The bands third album, ‘Nothing Personal’ arguably holds the bands biggest tracks in the form of ‘Weightless’ and ‘Damned If I Do Ya, Damned If I Don’t’ as the tracks could easily be slotted into ‘So Wrong, It’s Right’, showing the importance of and exactly how the band got it so right. As the album turns 10 years old this year, the last decade has been a constant incline for the band as they sit on their perch as the best of what they do, and it’s all thanks to the masterpiece of ‘So Wrong, It’s Right’. With the release of album number seven ‘Last Young Renegade’ hitting the shelves this year, it’s clear that All Time Low are still getting everything right, and nothing wrong. NS
Ten years, not far off to the day, Machine cemented their place among the biggest metal bands in the world. After returning with the superb From the Ashes of Empires they had begun to rebuild the reputation that had taken a bit of a kicking over the Nu Metal era and now they were on the verge of the, as good as, perfect metal album. The addition of Phil Demmel with 'Ashes had brought Flynn the perfect sparring partner to compliment his immensely improved, over the years guitar work (not that he was ever a slouch) the way the two bounce off each other on this record is Smith/Murray like. Songs like and the move to epic ten minute compositions such 'Clenching the Fists of Dissent' and 'A Farewell to Arms' showed the masterful way they link intricate, almost classical with sections of sheer brutality.
'Halo' is just something else, I couldn't possibly do it justice describing in a few words so will just recommend checking it out if you haven't already. I'm proud to say I've been a fan since the beginning, Burn My Eyes has always, and will always be one of my favourite albums and as much as I'd like to say it was their best album, hand on heart? It isn't. A triumphant, and certainly one of the best sets seen in the Download era of music at Donnington Park that year just added to the Machine Head reputation as THE metal band of 2007, They have come a long way, the road had been tough at times but with ‘The Blackening’, they had their ‘Master of Puppets’, their ‘Reign in Blood’, their masterpiece. AN
Roll the clock back ten years, ADTR are just a small band out of Ocala, Florida. Sure they’ve already released their debut album but this one was about to propel them to a whole new level. Even now I listen to every single song on this album because of their intensity, their raw charisma and their ability to blend pop punk seamlessly with metal. I’m sure a lot of people would love this album because it gave ADTR the chance to thrive and show what they’ve got with the anthem ‘Monument’ and of course their fan favourite, ‘The Plot to Bomb the Panhandle’. However for me it’s the lost gems that make this album one of the best from the pop punk heroes. The bridge in ‘Danger in Starting a Fire’ is still enough to make me do my best electric guitar impression (it’s not good) and break out my best Jeremy pop punk voice.
It’s also good to look back and see where these guys started from, their last album was lacklustre to say the least. I barely listen to any tracks off that and I can’t see that changing soon. However the heavy hitters such as ‘Speak of the Devil’ and ‘A Shot in the Dark’ are still absolute goliaths in the metal/pop punk world. Especially the latter’s hook at the end “Keep running your mouth” which would cause many a pit all over the world. ‘For Those Who Have Heart’ was the start of A Day to Remember being recognised for the amazing band they were. This album wasn’t just another release to be forgotten, rather it was a way for this band to connect with many new fans all over the world. This was for me the moment I fell in love with them. The powerful vocals produced are next level and the catchy-ness of each and every track is incredible. RO
Touché Amore - The Fleece, Bristol - 17th February A solid crowd gathered in this sold out gig with Scotland’s Depatures kicking off the night. The crowd were pretty quiet throughout most of the set, possibly spellbound by the excellent deep emotional messages conveyed through the band’s songs. Departures set was mainly made up of songs from their impressive 2016 album ‘Death Touches Us, from the Moment We Begin to Love’ , despite a quiet crowd the band delivered a very tight set with a solid vocal performance with the track ‘Waiting’ a particular highlight. There is a lack of emotional hardcore bands in the UK and it’s encouraging to see a good band like Departures, they should only increase their fan base after their tour with Touché Amore. Next up were Angel Du$t from the US. I’d heard a lot of hype for this band before the show and I resisted listening to them hoping for a surprise. I was surprised, and more! The band squeezed fourteen songs into a frantic incredibly fun set, it’s difficult to compare them to another band but you can definitely hear influences of the likes of Descendants and more recent bands like Turnstile. Particular highlights of the set were ‘Toxic Boombox’ and when the band helped around 5/6 girls get on the stage to sing one of the band’s songs, they created such a fun atmosphere, it was one of the most impressive sets I’ve seen in a while.
And so, to the set that everyone was waiting for. I was particularly excited to hear how the band would translate the incredibly emotional songs from their latest album ‘Stage Four’ in a live setting. Like Angel Du$t, the band like to perform a really fast set, and the band were non-stop with a packed set list full of the best tracks from their last three albums. I felt as though the newer songs did not capture the audience as much the older tracks they performed. However I was particularly pleased when they played the likes of ‘Water Damage’ and ‘Displacement’ which sounded incredible with Jeremy Bolm’s energetic and stirring vocals. The set list was such a clever mix of old and new songs keeping all the fans happy in the venue. There was an incredible reaction from the crowd to the likes of ‘Art Official’ & ‘Honest Sleep’ and the band seemed to thrive off the energy of the crowd. It was great to hear fans clapping their hands with excitement as the band began playing particular songs; it was a really great atmosphere but nothing too extreme apart from one fan nearly knocking Jeremy over. The highlight of the set and any Touché Amore set you will watch is when they play ‘Harbor’ which I feel personally is their best song, the genre of emotional hardcore can be defined in that single song. It was awesome to see a bill of bands all in their prime after they all had great releases in 2016. The packed crowd had a lot of fun and I really hope Touche Amore return really soon, it’s always great to hear their emotional songs in a packed out smaller venue. JP
Sum 41 - 02 Academy, Bristol - March 3rd After coming back from a time where their frontman Deryck Whibley literally nearly died, the band have spent the last couple of months on the road under the suitable tour title of 'Don't Call It A Sum Back'. Taking to the stage Deryck looks visibly much healthier than he has been in recent years, which is great to see, and to add to this, they've even got their old guitarist Dave Baksh back in the line-up! Launching with two new songs 'A Murder of Crows' and 'Fake My Own Death' the band get an insane reception from the crowd and are just welcomed with open arms from the moment they start to play. Taking me back to mixtapes my brother used to make in the 00s we are then treated to 'The Hell Song' an absolute classic pop punk track that surely the majority of people into alternative music know. 'Underclass Hero' is a great song to hear live, and for me, it's kind of a song that just harnesses a lot of the different styles that Sum 41 are known for. Going back in time again the band perform 'Motivation', which of course gets a brilliant reaction from the crowd, and has everyone in the room moving throughout the song. Before their first encore the band hit us with 'Still Waiting' and 'In Too Deep', two songs that can be found on any skateboard collection CD from the 00s to this day, and probably songs that you'll hear at many rock club nights. Just absolutely awesome to watch live as from the front to the back the crowd jumps in unison to 'In Too Deep'. Coming back to the stage after demanding chants from the crowd, Deryck takes to the piano to perform 'Pieces' a much slower song, but a classic for all of the Sum 41 fans in the room as well as being a song that gives a healthy dynamic to the intense set. This wouldn't be a Sum 41 show without 'Fat Lip'! Another HUGE song, that just works so well in a live atmosphere. For those that remember 'Pain for Pleasure' from the music video, then you would be loving the moment the guys come back to the stage for their SECOND encore to perform 'Pain for Pleasure' dressed head to toe in 80s gear. What. A. Set. At this point it's hard to deny just how important Sum 41 have become over the years, they've put together a lot of defining tracks, and tonight is just evidence of that. With the band now back on top form, then it looks like the touring cycle for their latest album '13 Voices' is going to be one of their most rewarding runs yet. If they're touring close to you soon, don't miss out. AD
Mallory Knox - 02 Academy, Bristol - March 20th With what felt like an infectious mix of Kings of Leon, Biffy Clyro and The Manchester Orchestra the guys in Fatherson were a very unique way to start the evening. You could easily imagine this band on much bigger stages with their uplifting and in your face sound, and personally I'm excited to see what they do next. Lonely The Brave are second on tonight, currently promoting their awesome new album 'Things Will Matter' we are treated to a nice dynamic setlist that encompasses the huge sound that the band are known for extremely well. These guys are such an interesting band to watch, for example, their lead singer doesn't move much or give too much crowd interaction, but visually you can see that he is well and truly engrossed in the music, which in turn, keeps the crowd glued to the band throughout. Very cool. After touring relentlessly the band hit a bit of a full stop and just had to take a break to get some fresh air and make sure that they only came back when it was right. That time is now, Mallory Knox are back after their longest time away in their career with their brand new album 'Wired', and the crowd tonight couldn't be any more excited. Kicking straight in with a new track 'Giving It Up' it's a strong start, as already you can see that only after a short time since its release the audience already know the lyrics to the song, and are throwing them back to the band as they come out. Brilliant. 'Ghost in the Mirror' obviously goes down really well, and as this was the first show of the tour, it was just great to see how excited the band were to be back on the road whilst performing one of their biggest hits to an addicted fan base in front of them. Shows like this are all about seeing which new songs will stay in the set list for the future, and from the reception that 'California' got, then we have no doubt that this song will be cemented in their setlist from now until the end of time. It's an infectious mix of pop rock, and just provides something a little bit different to the Mallory Knox we have grown used to. As we come towards the encore, the band perform the crowd bouncer 'Wake Up', the sing a long classic 'Shout at the Moon' whilst ending on 'Saviour', a song that lyrically shows how fearless the band have become on 'Wired'. Coming back to the applause from the crowd 'Lighthouse' gets an exceptional response as well as confirming why Mallory Knox are one of the most important alternative rock bands in the scene today. Ending with one of their most recent singles 'Better Off Without You' it's clear to see from the mass singalong that the refreshing progression achieved on 'Wired' will make it their most rewarding release yet. AD
The Early November - The Exchange, Bristol - March 23rd First on tonight is local band Our Nameless Boy. With a fusion of aggressive rock with a style that will remind some of the last Brand New album 'Daisy' these guys are a refreshing and exciting act to watch. There's a couple of notes missed here and there, but it's obvious to see that there is a lot of potential in this band. Dryjacket are up next, and with their brilliant indie rock approach (which is very raw around the edges) these guys perform a handful of tracks to promote their awesome new album 'For Posterity'. Certainly a band to look out for this year. So tonight we are here to celebrate the tenth anniversary of 'The Mother, the Mechanic, and the Path', a three disc album that contains some of the most intense lyrical and musical content that the band have ever created. The band purposely wanted to make something that was completely different to anything else at the time, and as they are out on the road touring the record, then yeah, it looks like this decision was a very good one. Obviously the band can't perform all three discs, as it is just simply too long, so they instead share a handful of tracks from that album to take us back to the 00s in style. Taken mainly from the The Mother and The Mechanic part of the release the band dive between pop rock and chilled out songs. Some of my personal highlights include 'Hair' 'Money in His Hand' and '1000 Times A Day' which even features trumpet from Joe Junod (Dryjacket) to make it sound even closer to how it does on the record. My absolute favorite track from 'The Mother, the Mechanic, and the Path' part of the evening has to be 'Decoration', a ridiculously catchy song, that is extremely powerful to witness live. To make the setlist even more epic, the band take the second part of the set to perform a mix of really old songs, and really new songs, just to make sure they've got everyone covered. 'Narrow Mouth' probably one of the best songs from this decade of The Early November material is just a beautiful track that for me, harnesses every sound of the band in just one song. For fans of 'The Room's Too Cold' we get to see 'Baby Blue', 'Fluxy', 'The Mountain Range in My Living Room' and of course, one of the biggest TEN songs to date 'Ever So Sweet' which has the crowd singing along to every single word. From 'In Currents' the band perform 'Tell Me Why' an infectious indie rock anthem that shows just how well the sound of the band has progressed over the last couple of years. Although we have no idea what's next for the band, we really hope that they come back to the UK very soon, because their performance tonight was nothing short of exceptional. AD
The King Blues - The Fleece, Bristol - February 5th If you've been to a local gig in Bristol, then we have no doubt that you would of seen Mad Apple Circus live before, or even, just seen one of their stickers around town. This band are one of the hardest working bands in the area, and it's clear to see this with how tight their performance is tonight. With a cocktail of ska/rock/funk/rap they are unique and just completely refreshing to watch. They will surely be headlining venues of this size very shortly.
It's been a while, but The King Blues are finally back and ready to promote their hard hitting new album 'The Gospel Truth'! 'Let's Hang The Landlord' gets the whole crowd moving and singing along, and from the second song in the mosh pit is turned into a chaotic sweat box of fans singing along as loud as they possibly can. Another one of my favorites is the politically moving 'The Streets Are Ours' which is just as relevant now as it was when it first came out, a very emotional track that gets an intense response. 'My Boulder' unexpectedly goes down a storm, and after that The King Blues drop a new song entitled 'Heart of a Lion' which gets the crowd jumping throughout the chorus, and could easily be the next England World Cup anthem. 'The Bullingdon Boys', another politically charged anthem goes down really well, and indicates that the new album is already shaping up to be a corker. Carrying on with classics such as 'Mr Music Man' and 'Five Bottles of Shampoo' the band end on the brilliant 'Save The World, Get The Girl'! A great set from the band, which reminds you of how far they've come, as well as how bright their future is already looking. AD
Lego Batman brings the caped crusader to life in a way that’s not been done before, it’s not just a brooding tale of masculine charm and charisma thrown together with rescuing Gotham City. Rather it’s a story of a lonely man learning that he needs friends to enrich his life. However like all children’s stories the protagonist has no idea that he is lonely or needs other people, as far as he believes he’s just a kick ass dude with a great job and an awesome life. It’s only when the new commissioner Barbara Gordon puts a halt on Batman and his vigilante ways that he’s forced to reevaluate his way of existence. His one concern though is putting Joker into the Phantom Zone with all the other super criminals, and so a plan forms. Through certain events he becomes lumbered with the boy wonder Robin, a chirpy little orphan who wants to impress his new “Batdad” as much as he can. It’s at this point of the film where we see that Batman is detached from everyone in his life. He questions Alfred’s authorities on surrogate sons, which is a heart breaking scene and then he accidentally gate crashes the 57th annual Justice League party, of which makes for hilarious viewing. This coupled together with describing young Dick Grayson as “expendable” was brilliant. One awesome thing about this film is that Batman is aware he’s in a Lego universe, he destroys the top of a building and creates a dog style Batmobile which for me was a definite highlight. There’s also the brilliant fact that he doesn’t take off his cowl for a lot of occasions, perhaps adding to the fact that he doesn’t want to let people in. This is one film where instead of counting the hours he was Batman it’s easier to count when he wasn’t.
The ridiculousness of this film comes thick and fast towards the end, before you know it Gotham is once again overrun with definite only DC criminals. Joker, Harley Quinn, Voldemort, Godzilla, Gremlins and a whole heap more...as I said only DC. All of the different villains really push forward the dynamic and make for awesome fight sequences. Seeing Jaws pilot a submarine was an incredible moment, along with Sauron being an all seeing eye for the joker was a work of genius too. Of course by the end of the movie all the bricks come together and everything is awesome. It really is a fun family film and will raise laughs, cries and probably give you a bit of a dance too. Lego Batman for me probably goes down as one of the best Batman films to ever be released, it has comedy, violence, sad moments and an amazing Batman to boot. Within the first five minutes of Lego Batman I’d laughed, gasped, danced and my heart strings had been plucked like a cello. We begin proceedings with a master plan orchestrated by none other than Batman’s greatest enemy (although the Dark Knight would disagree) The Joker. This involves all the super villains you love and some you may not have heard of attempting to destroy Gotham, however they fail...obviously. Batman is praised by everyone and then he’s left to return to his home, it’s here where we see the side to the caped crusader that’s never been revealed. He’s lonely. There’s a beautiful moment where he’s talking to his parents in a photo, while still wearing the cowl and a dressing gown. For a children’s film the plot isn’t as straight forward and narrow-minded as I would have suspected and at times the narrative could get quite intense.
I had no idea that Gandalf driving the Batmobile over Springfield Gorge was missing from my life, or seeing Batman inside the Tardis was something that could even happen. Lego Dimensions fills all of those wishes and more. After 2 hours of making the “portal” brick by brick, along with the Batmobile I was ready to play the game at last, the start of the game was pure genius and intended for more of an adult audience than children. The three main characters need no introduction, Gandalf, Batman and Lego Movie’s Wyldestar each are in their own dimension when they’re thrust into another. It was quite amusing to see Batman fighting the Balrog with Gandalf. The three heroes quickly learn that they need to work together to fix their homes. The characters bounce well off one another and surprisingly it’s hilarious. A brilliant example was when they were thrust into Oz. The trio see Dorothy, Tinman, Cowardly Lion and of course Scarecrow; As soon as the caped crusader sees Scarecrow he obviously has to relate him to his own scarecrow causing major havoc. Wyldestar makes a point of Batman “going crazy” to which Gandalf responds “going? My dear he’s wearing a bat costume.” The script writing for this game is absolutely top notch and adds to every single scene. The handling of the game is brilliant, it’s quite standard for lego games. Simplistic controls, an open world and fight skills based on the certain character. Special moves can range from Gandalf’s spells to Homer Simpson burping to destroy glass. Each special move is related to each character and there’s no charge time so it can be used unlimited times. The whole point of the game is to find the smashed dimension particles and bring them back together so everyone can go home, however in order to do this at some point I am going to have to buy every single expansion and that’s where we hit a snag.
Obviously (and I hate to use the word downside but...) a downside to this game is the purchase factor behind it. I’ve bought the starter pack, Simpsons Pack, Sonic Pack and Doctor Who pack and I’m quite scared to look at my bank balance. While it is expensive, it is awesome to have whole new levels to bounce around in. Not only that but each character can interact differently in all worlds. Which is a bit frustrating as it could mean I may never complete a whole world 100%. The characters interact with one another really well, including the newly purchased ones. I can’t recall how many times I’ve heard “BATMAN” gasped from Homer and then when the world’s fastest and most dynamic hedgehog was presented in front of the Doctor he said how happy he was that the screw driver was named after him. A fanboy moment for me personally. One major adaption for a game like this is the use of the “portal” that is physically in front of you. This has 7 spots in total and any character you want to play with has to be on a marker. This allows the player to choose how many characters they want at one time but also brings in another side to gaming. Every so often puzzles will be encountered that can only be fixed by moving the characters around the portal, this brings to life a very physical element and it was one that I think added something so different to this game. Lego Dimensions is a brilliant but albeit expensive game, but for the amount of characters and levels it has I personally think it’s all worth it. The characters interact with each other perfectly and the worlds that can be travelled to are the stuff of which both child’s and adults dreams are made of. Next up Back to the Future pack.
Features interviews from the following: Papa Roach, You Me At Six, While She Sleeps, Parkway Drive, We The Kings, Mallory Knox, Frank Carter...
Published on Mar 30, 2017
Features interviews from the following: Papa Roach, You Me At Six, While She Sleeps, Parkway Drive, We The Kings, Mallory Knox, Frank Carter...