Don Broco have announced a one-off show at Alexandra Palace in London. It will be the band’s only UK headline show of 2017, and will take place on Saturday, November 11th.
Nothing will be coming to the UK for two headline shows in London and Brighton, as well as a handful of shows supporting Car Seat Headrest. August 27 The Lexington, London 28 Sticky Mike’s Frog Bar, Brighton 29 Forum, London (w/ Car Seat Headrest) 30 Ritz, Manchester (w/ Car Seat Headrest) 31 Leeds Uni, Leeds (w/ Car Seat Headrest) September 01 Electric Fields Festival, Thornhill
Veridian and Catch Fire will be playing three co-headline shows next month. June 16 Ex, Corby 17 Castle Tavern, Luton 18 Tunnel 267, Wimbledon
Bloodstock Festival have added Broken Teeth, Lionize, Black Moth, Wolfheart, and Mantar to this summer’s bill.
Pvris will return to the UK in November for their biggest headline shows to date. November 22nd o2 Academy, Bristol 23rd o2 Academy, Birmingham 24th The Academy, Dublin 25th Mandela Hall, Belfast 27th o2 Academy, Glasgow 28th Apollo, Manchester 30th o2 Brixton Academy, London
Maryland-based rockers Lionize will be touring the UK in between fesival appearances this summer. July Fri 28th Craufurd Arms, Milton Keynes Sat 29th Ramblin’ Man Fair Sun 30th The Flapper, Birmingham Mon 31st Rebellion, Manchester August Tue 1st O2 Abc 2, Glasgow Wed 2nd O2 Academy 2, Newcastle Thu 3rd Key Club, Leeds Fri 4th O2 Academy 2, Oxford Sat 5th Our Black Heart, London Fri 11th Bloodstock Open Air
Rancid will return on June 9th with a new album called 'Trouble Maker’. It will be released through Hellcat Records and Epitaph Records.
Bullet for My Valentine have announced plans to release a new live set. 'Live From Brixton: Chapter Two’ documents the band’s two shows at O2 Academy Brixton last December, which saw the Welsh metallers play two different sets each night. Night one saw the band play highlights from their career, with night two seeing the band perform their 2005 debut, 'The Poison’, in full. Bullet For My Valentine - Live From Brixton: Chapter Two’ will be available on DVD, Blu-Ray, CD & Vinyl. Fans can pre-order through PledgeMusic. Released July 28th: • ‘Night One’ CD (career-spanning setlist) • ‘Night Two’ CD (‘The Poison’ in its entirety setlist) • DVD (feat. both nights) • Blu-Ray (feat. both nights) Autumn 2017: Triple disc Red Vinyl (‘Night Two’ only)
CKY’s new album called 'The Phoenix’ is set to be released on June 16th via Long Branch Records / SPV. Candy Hearts have become Best Ex. It will see Mariel Loveland be joined by a rotating lineup. A debut EP, 'Ice Cream Anti Social’, will be released soon. Irish rockers Fangclub have announced their self-titled debut album will be released on August 4th via Vertigo Records. The venue and headline sponsor for the very first Heavy Music Awards have been announced. It will take place at House of Vans in London on August 24th and will be sponsored by rock and metal merchandise company, EMP. Metal/Hip-Hop group Powerflo have announced they will release their self-titled album on June 23rd via New Damage Records. Baltimore’s Us and Us Only have detailed their debut album, 'Full Flower’. It’s due for release on July 14th via Topshelf Records. Chicago-based punks 88 Fingers Louie have revealed details of their first album in 19 years. 'Thank You For Being a Friend’ will be released on June 30th on Bird Attack Records.
Black Star Riders have welcomed Chad Szeliga (formerly of Breaking Benjamin and Black Label Society) as their new drummer. Anthemic melodic-punk and reggae group, Authority Zero, have joined Bird Attack Records for the release of 'Broadcasting To The Nations’, which is due for release on June 2nd. Hassle Records have welcomed Dutch grunge trio Paceshifters. A new album entitled 'Waiting to Derail’ will be released later this year. Australian alt-prog band, Figures will release their second EP, 'Chronos’, on June 16th. Midwest powerhouse hardcore band Spine have joined Bridge Nine Records.
Barabbus will release their self-titled album on June 9th via Undergroove Records. London-via-Athens punks, The Burnt Tapes have detailed their new EP. 'Alterations’ which will be released through Lockjaw Records (UK CD/Digital), Umlaut Records (Vinyl) and Cannonball Records on Friday 2nd June.
Winsconsin hardcore punk band, Conveyer will return on June 23rd with a new album called 'No Future’. It will be released through Victory Records. New York hardcore legends Agnostic Front will be returning to the UK for four headline shows in November. November 9th Mama Roux’s, Birmingham 10th Audio, Glasgow 11th Eiger Studios, Leeds 12th Underworld, London Canadian melodic hardcore band, Counterparts will return to the UK for a headline tour. Supports come from Polar and Napoleon. November 11th Patterns, Brighton 12th Clwb Ifor Bach, Cardiff 13th Vintage Bar, Doncaster 14th Rescue Rooms, Nottingham 15th G2, Glasgow 16th Rebellion, Manchester 17th Think Tank, Newcastle 18th The Dome, London 19th Joiners, Southampton Norwegian math rock/emo duo After Words are set to release their second EP, 'Tip, Tap, Toe’, on June 1st through Backpack Records. Alabama deathcore quintet Widowmaker have joined SharpTone Records. Boston’s Aviator will release their sophomore LP, 'Loneliness Leaves The Light On For Me’ on June 23rd through No Sleep Records.
Manchester Orchestra will play an intimate acoustic set at The Lexington in London on Wednesday June 7th.
Rise Against will play an intimate show at The Garage in London on June 2nd. Waterparks have announced their first full UK headline tour for September. September 21 Fleece, Bristol 22 Rescue Rooms, Nottingham 23 O2 Academy 2, Newcastle 24 King Tuts, Glasgow 26 Key Club, Leeds 27 Academy 3, Manchester 28 Underworld, London 29 O2 Academy 2, Birmingham 30 The Haunt, Brighton
Milk Teeth have joined Roadrunner Records UK. The first of two new EP’s, 'Be Nice’, will be released on July 28th.
Evanescence will be releasing a new album titled 'Synthesis’. It will see old songs reworked with full orchestration and electronica. Hertfordshire based post-hardcore band, Fort Hope have revealed details of their debut full-length. 'The Flood Flowers Volume 1’. It is set to be released on June 16th via Virgin EMI Records.
Faux will release a self-titled EP on June 16th through Speaking Tongues. Chasing Cadence have announced they will be splitting up this summer after a farewell tour. Fort Fest has added seven bands to this year’s festival. The latest announcement sees Toploader being confirmed as the first headliner. They will be joined by MassMatiks, Veridian, Rory Indiana, Chasing Cadence, Diamond Days and Sweet Crisis.
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Interview with Liv
You've said that the lyrics for ‘Altogether Not Together’ were inspired by the journey refuges take across Europe. So can you elaborate on that, as well as what else we can expect from the track? I saw a documentary last year about the unbelievably dangerous journeys refugees take across Europe out of sheer desperation for theirs and their children's safety. Something that any of us would do. The song specifically focuses on the ordeal refugees had to go through at the Calais camp named 'The Jungle' and no doubt have to go through in others. Nobody chooses where they're born and the cards they're dealt with. As privileged people of the western world, we should open our doors to other human beings who are persecuted in their own country. The song brings this kind of suffering to the surface so that we can hopefully be more aware of people knocking on our door in the future.
‘Gunnar Hansen’ talks about PTSD, so how did this concept come about, and why should people be more aware of this important subject? Gunnar Hansen touches mainly on the military, the concept of war and what drives young men to enlist and travel thousands of miles away to fight a war they don't fully understand instead of questioning it. PTSD is referenced but not the main subject. However, it's important to raise awareness as it often is a silent condition, which is often left untreated. Hopefully there's a kid out there thinking about joining the army who will hear this song and think about it a little more before making this very important life decision.
So how did the music video idea for 'Altogether Not Together' come together, and what was it like to work with Kyle Webster? I had the video concept in my head not long after the song was written. I thought straight away of our good friend Kyle Webster of Chog Zoo Animation Studio. He's a super talented animation artist who worked previously on videos for Oceansize frontman / Biffy Clyro touring guitarist Mike Vennart's solo project. What he came out with exceeded all our expectations and perfectly visualises the song as a whole. We worked together on the storyboard and he worked his magic. I hope the video gets the exposure it deserves.
How did you end up working with Peter Miles? We worked with Pete on our previous album, we tracked the drums and guitars at Middle Farm Studios and Guy (our drummer) recorded vocals and mixed the whole thing. This time around we wanted Pete to produce the whole thing, just to see how it would turn out and have a different vibe to the album. We don't like to repeat ourselves too much so this made all of the sense.
You guys recorded everything in a week! So how did that idea come about, and how would you say the recording process for this record compares to anything you've done before? The recording process was nothing like any of us had done before. We just wanted a live feel to the album and discussed the options with Pete. He was well up for tracking the backline live and adding overdubs like piano and vocals later. It was super fun and kept us all on our toes as musicians. I highly recommend it to anyone but make sure you know your songs well before entering the studio or it'll quickly turn into a nightmare.
How would you say the sound of Freeze the Atlantic has grown/changed since the release of your self-titled album? The departure of Sean (Shreeve - former bass player) meant an inevitable change in our song-writing as he was one of the chief song-writers in our previous incarnation. So of course this means the band has evolved into what it is now, which isn't a million miles away from what we've always been. It's important to note that Andy, Guy and Tom have been there from the beginning so they're part of the FTA DNA throughout our entire back catalogue.
What was the hardest part about putting 'The People Are Revolting' together? Probably time. This album really is a testament to hard work and determination. We all have day jobs and most of us have families to support. None of us really have the time to fit any of this in our lives. But we make time for it because we love it, simple as that. And we hope this honesty comes across on the album.
How did the artwork for 'The People Are Revolting' come together? A guy named Ed Kirwan does all our artwork. He did the first two albums as well. We don't give him a brief as such, we just give him the songs, lyrics and album title... and he does the rest. So it reflects the album as a whole basically, it looks rad and as always we love it!
How would you say the rock scene has grown/changed in the UK? I think the music industry as a whole has changed massively in the last 10 years or so. It's all about live music now, which is great for live music lovers but not necessarily great for bands with day jobs, like us. You have to go on the road for weeks on end to make a living as a rock band these days and we simply cannot do that. Most of us have families to take care of and going on tour simply doesnâ€™t cut the mustard unfortunately. We just do it because we love it and we're lucky enough to still be able to do it. So we're grateful.
What else can we expect to see from Freeze The Atlantic in 2017? A few festivals in the summer (2000 Trees, Amplified and a few more) and probably another tour in October, no details about that as of yet.
Interview with Dean
Can you tell us about the formation of Slydigs? We formed just after leaving High school. We all went to St Aelreds High School in Newton-le-willows. Myself and Lead Guitarist Louis Menguy with a drummer and bass player who we had to give the boot to, to make way for drummer Peter Fleming and Ben Breslin on bass, who incidentally went to the same school. Ben being a few years younger. Myself and Louis became friends only in the last couple of years of High school. It was at a time when walkmens were all the rage and we used to trade different tapes with one another. It was our mutual love for the likes of The Beatles, Bob Dylan, Rolling Stones and all the blues greats that we seem to connect with. We all went through the Oasis stage and that gave us desire and certainly the idea to form our own band. The â€œindieâ€? era with the likes of The Strokes and the Libertines was just about to break then as well so something was in the air at that time. We had a very similar taste in most things not just music so our friendship grew instantaneously.
We started writing music as soon as we could string three chords together. I distinctly remember thinking if we are going to do this then we must find the correct bass player and drummer. Albeit a few years later, we finally asked Pete and Ben to join. Pete was in another band at the time that wasn't really “working” but I knew the first time I heard him play that he was going to end up playing for Slydigs, I think maybe he did too. Ben was in the baby stages of forming his own band and having the similar troubles with members just going through the motions. There was something about him and he had a similar desire to ourselves so it just seemed to make sense for us to invite his skinny arse along. We threw him in at the deep end straight away. We gave him about a week to learn about 30 songs on the bass before a three week tour of Ireland and to be fair to him he nailed it. So he got the gig and the line-up was completed.
How did you get to the band name Slydigs, and what does it mean to you? It was rather nonsensical at the time. We used to dig each other as friends about anything really - just having a laugh, taking the piss out of one another. Someone just said it one day as the name of the band and I can't remember anyone even questioning it, it just stuck. I was never really a fan of it but people love it, everyone we meet seem to like it. Maybe it's catchy in its own imitable way. I think I cope with it by thinking that the origins of it came from a place of camaraderie. At the end of the day it’s just a name and it’s distinctive. Very difficult to find names that haven't already been taken anyway. One thing is for sure it ain't as bad as half the band names you hear today. I saw a band the other day called “Yes Lad”, I mean come on who calls their band Yes Lad? Good luck to him, it made my eyes rain.
Was there a moment where you thought that you'd be more than just an upcoming band? If so, what was that like? I always dreamt/thought we would at some point be more than just an upcoming band. I think when Pete joined and I could hear my songs being played with the “correct” beat, things just seemed to fit into place. There was no need for battling with Pete, he can feel what you’re doing sort of instantly and he listens before moving. I usually have some sort of beat in my head when I write a song but he would naturally always come up with other options that I may not always think of. Having that choice as a songwriter is invaluable. He gave me and Louis a freedom with our songwriting. We were able to try things without any sort of constraints in that aspect. Ben can hear a song and hear bass parts straight away, quicker than I can now. He’s very creative in that aspect. Since then I have always thought the songs and our playing became more refined. I did then and even more so now feel that I’m in the band I always wanted to be in.
What bands have influenced you the most over the years, and why? The Rolling Stones have a sort of slickness to them that has always intrigued me. As if everything can fall apart at any minute but it doesn’t, it just keeps on driving along. Usually for me intrigue turns into obsession and then obsession manifests itself in the songs I write. Same with Bob Dylan, The Beatles Peter Green’s Fleetwood Mac and The Clash. There’s certain characteristics that I get obsessed with in those artists but I’m constantly listening to new music. I’m still gorging myself on as much as I can. I can’t see that ever stopping. I think without knowing it I always take things from here and there and elements of what I listen to always influences the ways in which I approach our songs.
So how did you get to the EP title 'How Animal Are You', and what does it mean to you? It’s from the single first of all ‘How Animal Are you’. I was working on the song in rehearsal with the lads. I think I had a slightly different title for it. Something like ‘the Animal in you’ or something or other and I think Ben thought I was singing ‘How Animal Are You’ as he was singing along with me on the chorus and I thought that sounds good. I like that it can be used as a statement as well as a question. I think it’s the animal inside us all that gets you up in the morning. It’s the ferocity, anger, animalistic nature inside every human that makes you kick against the grain.
Can you tell us a bit about some of the main themes and influences that run throughout the EP? I think there’s a mix array of themes in there. We didn’t want to just make it an all-out Rock N Roll record. We realised we could only get six tracks on there so we wanted a little snap shot of what an album would be. You need the calmer elements to any record as well. We thought about the dynamics of the track listing on this EP. Lyrically, there’s certainly elements of our upbringing in there. Living on the breadline and all that, Suburban Confinement, that says a lot about what we have all felt growing up. Few social comments and there’s the sex and drugs thrown in there too.There’s out and out Rock n Roll tunes there, that’s always been our bread and butter but there’s also the tender side. ‘To Catch A Fading Light’ and ‘The Kids Feel Underrated’, although they’re slower in tempo, they’re huge live and I think they work perfectly on this EP. They give the EP and also in our live shows an essence of calm and retrospect which In turn highlight the upbeat tracks. All well and good being AC/DC smashing out Rock n Roll songs one after another but for me diversity and variety is always key.
How did you end up supporting The Who, and what was that whole experience like for you guys? We played a few gigs around the UK and got the attention of Trinifold, The Who’s management who we’re now signed to ourselves. We got invited to play with The Who in 2014 in the UK and from there we got invited on the North American tour and European tour. It is every musicians dream doing what we did here and over there. Travelling on a tour bus, seeing the world, playing to thousands of people each night in arena’s supporting your heroes is something that no one can ever take away from us. I was proud of how well it all seemed to come together. We cherished every inch of the experience out there and picked up as much as we could from the crew as well as the band. We picked up a lot of new fans out there and when we returned home all we could think about was to get out there and do it again. It’s an addiction, stronger than anything I’ve ever experienced before. I’ve got to doff my cap to Robert Rosenberg and Bill Curbishly at Trinifold though for making it all happen. They set the precedent for us. They gave us the platform for us to shine really and shine we did. 19 standing ovations for a support band no one had heard of before is something I’m very proud of. I will always be grateful for what they did for us there. There’s a reason why they are where they are and giving bands like us that opportunity is what the music industry is very much lacking in these day. I believe you do make your own luck in this game but as a band coming up you need people like that to take the risk on you. I think it’s paid off in the sense that we will be going over there again at some point and with the experience we have gathered from supporting The Who it has given us the tools to play in the big league.
What do you think you learnt the most from being on the road with The Who? I think being able to work a crowd. On stages like that you can’t hide and as a performer you have to be in the mind set of wanting to blow people away- always. Even on your off days, the moment you stand on that stage the focus needs to be on one thing and that’s entertaining the audience. But obviously you have to entertain yourself at the same time so everything is down to being as comfortable as possible. Slipping into the feel of the back beat, taking in the atmosphere and remembering why you’re there in the first place.
Interview with Patty
What was it like to be an upcoming band in Brighton? The scene here is always active and never pretentious. Our first show was in someone’s living room, put on by the scene for the scene. We played the same set in the same rooms to the same friends for two years before we started slowly gaining traction on our first tour in 2014. It definitely instilled the right work ethic in all of us, preparing us for how tough touring and making a living in a band can be.
Touring wise, what have you been up to this year so far, and can you give us a couple of personal highlights from your time on the road? It’s been a pretty busy year of touring already. Our first two tours of the year were our headline runs in Japan and Australia. It was our second time in both countries, and it always feels amazing to play consistently fun shows so very far from home. We were only home for two days before we left again, supporting State Champs around mainland Europe and the UK. There wasn’t a bad crowd on the entire month-long tour, and we just had a generally awesome time, both onstage and off. Playing the newer songs for the first time, seeing such warm, enthusiastic reactions from the crowd has been amazing, honestly.
So how did you get to the album title 'okay.', and what does it mean to you? Once the song ‘okay.’ was written, it basically acted as the glue for the whole album. All the songs that came before had a theme, and all those that came after had a precedent. It also felt like a fitting evolution, to now be ’okay.’ after being ‘Never Happy’.
Can you elaborate on some of the other main themes and influences that run through okay.'? The message of the album is that it’s okay to not be okay. We’ve portrayed ourselves vulnerably, imperfectly, and transparently on this record, and we want our listeners to know that if they’re struggling, so are we and so is everybody else. The song ‘okay.’ is my story and my emotions; it’s just a blunt, truthful portrayal of how wounded I was for so long, pretending like I was fine. It was stubborn and shortsighted of me to act like that, and it only perpetuated a painful situation. We wanted this album to dissuade anyone from suffering in silence, like I chose to for so long.
You've said that you've pushed yourself musically on this album. So can you elaborate on that, as well as how you think the band has grown/progressed overall since the release of 'Never Happy, Ever After'? We just allowed ourselves to write absolutely anything for this album. We didn’t concern ourselves with what “did” or “didn’t” sound like As It Is. It was pretty fun and fulfilling to know that nothing was musically off limits. We’ve definitely become better musicians and performers since releasing ‘Never Happy’; that’s just what happens naturally when you play over 170 shows in one year. And that’s not to suggest that we’re good musicians now, we’re just less terrible than we used to be.
You take on the intense subject of mental health on this album, so as a band how do you go about taking on topics that are just this important and influential to the listener? We’ve always written about our insecurities and struggles, but mental health is undeniably more serious, much darker at times, to write about. We just wrote plainly and honestly about ourselves, our families, and our lives. It’s been really amazing to hear how relevant the lyrical topics have been with our listeners, because it was a genuine concern that writing so personally, so individually, would make the lyrics less accessible. It’s amazing that people can see a piece of themselves in a song about my sister, or a song about Ben’s grandfather, or a song we wrote about our parents.
How did you end up working with Mike Green, and how would you say he helped shape the album? Mike was one of the only producers we approached with this album. ‘okay.’ is a relatively diverse record, which demanded a versatile producer and was one of several things that attracted us to Mike. To at least some degree, he shaped every song on the album. We co-write three or four songs with him, and the rest he tweaked and tinkered with. It’s a better record because of Mike, and it was a real privilege and a pleasure working with him.
How did the front cover for 'okay.' come together, and what does it mean to you? The artwork is one of five illustrations, each of which is centred around a wholesome scenario with a sinister twist. Each represents how our society promotes a superficial, convenient existence and glosses over our struggles and imperfections. The illustrations are all by Yannick Bouchard, and we all loved his interpretations of the ideas we sent him.
How did the music video for 'Hey Rachel' come together, and can you tell us a bit about the meaning behind the track? The song was written for my sister. Years back, her struggle with depression and anxiety took over her life, making going to school, having friends, and leaving the house tasks too overwhelming for her to handle. I felt terrified and helpless, unable to understand or empathise, which led to my sister and me speaking less and less over time. I spent years regretting how badly I handled her situation, how I should have been there for her. ‘Hey Rachel’ was the apology she deserved years ago. We worked with Joshua Halling on the music video, and he really beautifully reimagined mine and Rachel’s story for the video. It’s one of my favourite videos we’ve ever released.
Looking back on 'Never Happy, Ever After', how happy are you with this album still, and what do you think it has done for the representation of As It Is? I’m still really proud of ‘Never Happy’ as an album. It was the first album any of us had ever written, so we were kind of crossing our fingers and pretending we knew what we were doing. It feels kinds of odd and amazing that it means so much to so many people, because it definitely means a whole lot to us.
How excited are you for your upcoming slot at Download Festival, and what can attending fans expect? This will be my first time ever at Download, so I’m just as excited to perform as I am to attend. We always aim to create a really fun and authentic atmosphere, for us onstage and for those in the crowd. The whole festival format and vibe is perfect for the show we aim to put on. We’ll be playing our loudest, bounciest, fastest songs, putting on the best show we’re capable of.
What else can we expect to see from As It Is in 2017? We still have a lot of touring left to do. Right now, we’re getting ready to fly out to North America and kick off our first ever North American headline tour. Then we’re performing Download and some other great festivals around mainland Europe in the summer. We also have some very big, very exciting things happening later this year that we genuinely can’t wait to share with you real soon!
Interview with Brandon
Can you tell us about the formation of The Movielife? It's a blur now. I generally resort to Wikipedia to update myself on myself and my bands.
How did you get to the band name The Movielife, and what does it mean to you? It originally represented the idea that sometimes life can be so unreal and/or outrageous, that it is almost like living in a movie. But, I think nowadays, real life could never be imagined into a movie, as reality has become more absurd than cinema.
What was it like to be an upcoming band in Long Island, New York? It was exciting. During '98 - '03, people from all over the country (and overseas) were always looking to Long Island for what was coming out of the scene. Bands from LI have traditionally done well and inspired current and future generations of other bands. I think that's because there was something sonically unique and fresh that LI bands offered - we were all into, and influenced by, a vast array of musical genres - not just punk and hardcore.
Was there a particular moment when you knew that The Movielife was going to be much more than just an upcoming/local band? Yes - being able to go to North Carolina and West Virginia and drawing 50 - 100 kids in '99 on a headlining tour was when I started seeing that it would become something more than just a local draw. I would say the defining moment was during the This Time Next Year album cycle, when a fairly popular band brought us on tour, and we outdrew them most nights.
Touring wise, what you have been up to recently, and can you give us a couple of personal highlights from your time on the road? Our touring has been sparse (that will change soon), but we are sure to always hit the U.K. at least once a year, as it's essentially our favorite place to play (besides NYC).
Looking back on 'Forty Hour Train Back to Penn', what do you guys remember the most about putting this album together, and how would you say it compares to anything else you've done? I would say up until a few months ago, it's by far the most mature music we've ever recorded. I let myself go more and explored a lot with unconventional chords (at least for punk and hardcore), which shaped me a great deal into where I'm at today with guitar chords. It was a darker, rawer vibe - yet still quite melodic - and recording it was a very happy time in my life.
How is the new Movielife material coming along, and what can fans expect from it? It's coming along swimmingly. It's powerful. It's melodic. I believe our current fans will be pleased, and I expect we'll make many new fans from it as well.
How does writing music together now, compare to how you put music together with your earlier material? It's more or less the same. Typically, I come up with the music and bring it to Vinnie - he then puts melodies and lyrics to it. The only thing that's different now is that every musical moment and nuance is a lot more collaborative between Vin and I. The lines have blurred somewhat when it comes to writing. Over the years, Vinnie has become excellent at writing music on guitar, and I've grown more in the vocal part area, so there is a big exchange of ideas on all aspects of each song.
What are you fondest memories from performing live as The Movielife in the UK? There are too many to name, honestly. You guys produce the best music and have the best fans. Hands down.
What else can we expect to see from The Movielife in 2017? More than you think; but it's a surprise for now.
Interview with Schuylar
How did you end up joining Spinefarm Records, and what have they been like to work with so far? We've been friends with our A&R guy Darren for quite sometime now. We would always hang out when we played around the city however this was the first opportunity that we had to work together on a project so the timing was perfect after we finished the production of â€˜Fewâ€™.
So for your new album 'Few', how did you end up working with indiegogo, and what was that whole process like for you? Well we were at a crossroads at the time standing alone with a record in our heads. The options were slim and after studying the process of crowdfunding we decided to go all in. It was daunting to say the least. We chose to have an all or nothing option and allow the fans to dictate whether or not we were going to be able to get back in the studio. It really was quite humbling to see this project take flight and it certainly made this album become one of the most important things we've ever done.
How did you get to the album title 'Few', and what does it mean to you? H. P. Blavatsky's book the Voice of Silence was dedicated to ‘The Few’ in the very first pages. I took this to mean the few who followed the path not often wandered. To us Few is a similar dedication. The few who have been with us from the beginning, the few who donated to keep this alive, the few who have gotten Legend from day one. This album is dedicated to them.
Can you tell us a bit about some of the other main themes and influences that run throughout 'Few'? This album certainly stays true to form as any other He Is Legend record would however I think the importance really got into our heads. the fact that we were doing this for a greater purpose. Not that any other album hasn't been strictly for ourselves and the fans but this one was actually given to us by the fans! so we pulled out all of the stops. Lyrically it deals with some very personal subject matters to me. The stories I usually create are peppered with experiences but I was really challenged over the process of recording ‘Few’. Without giving away too much I think I took in the emotions of what was going on around me. From the stress of a maddening country, to the passing of my idols or the foreshadowing of loss. This record is as heavy as it glows.
How did you end up working with Al Jacobs, and how would you say he helped shape the album? Al owns the studio that we recorded ‘IT Hates You’ and ‘Heavy Fruit’, Warrior Sounds in Carrboro North Carolina. So that is our Abby Road. We really feel at home there and our sound comes from our experiences there. we are left to our own devices and given a freedom that comes from being out of the city and out in nature. Al and his partner Mitch Marlow who played guitar with us for a few years produced those two prior records and after Mitch moved to LA we were happy to continue our relationship with Al and the studio. It's just where we feel most creative and are given an outlet to really push ourselves.
Also, how would you say recording in a cabin impacted the creative/recording process for making an album? Again, this idea of the Cabin being the place that we recorded was some how fabricated or lost in translation. we did house ourselves in a cabin deep in the woods but the actual recording process was done where it always has been at Warrior Sound. I'm not saying that the cabin didn't have a huge part to play in this process, especially for my part in the record. but it wasn't where we recorded. I did feel it necessary to scrap entire tunes and rewrite lyrics from the experience of being alone there for weeks. It was very inspirational and dark and creepy at times for sure and I think it did a lot for my creative spark in this process.
How did the music video for 'Air Raid' come together, and can you tell us about the meaning behind the track? ‘Air Raid’ was just a banger from the album that went over really well live. So when Justin came with us to record that one seemed to have the most energy and vibe that a live Legend show could produce. Naturally it was time for us to give a peek into what that experience is like. As for what the song is about, well, I think that is self explanatory. I thought the riff sounded pretty earth crushing from the first time I heard it which gave me the idea to personify the earth that way. Walking outside and noticing clear changes in the weather I decided to use that song as a platform to offer the idea of the earth's sickness. Imaging the earth has a fever seems so terrifying to me. I guess that song sounded like the ‘Air Raid’ sirens we all should be hearing in our heads.
You've said that 'Gold Dust' might be your favorite song on the album! So can you elaborate on that, as well how you think the track standouts? ‘Gold Dust’ to me, offers some interesting ideas we like to toy around with on each record. I think we always find this metaphoric waiting room on our albums that tend to bring out a maddness or a beauty that doesn’t necessarily sound like an area we have visited before.
You've said that "I want fans to feel like this album is theirs", so also, can you elaborate on that, as well as how important that approach is to you as a band? Well that was the approach we had to take after we decided to take this avenue with the album cycle. We couldn't go backwards and make an album with less support and we felt like it was time to prove ourselves. I don't think any of us felt that we needed to negotiate with a record label to make a killer album. so we left it up to the fans to help us if they wanted to hear another album. That ultimately made this more important than any other album we have done thus far.
It's been just over ten years since the release of 'Suck Out the Poison'! What do you remember the most about putting this album together, and how would you say it compares to anything else you've done? I remember everything about that recording process. We were fish out of water with the whole thing, being thrown into Los Angeles to record fresh off of tour and I think that really put us into a nostalgic moment. We were exploring music from our roots and also feeling as though we had to represent our southern backgrounds maybe more so than we would have recording that record at home. We maybe put more longing into the sound just due to the way we noticed what was inspiring us being so far away from home
How excited are you for your upcoming UK tour, and what can attending fans expect? We couldn't be more excited. It's been far too long and we have been rocking pretty hard in the states so we really can’t wait to bring it over the sea...
What do you remember the most about touring the UK for the first time? Well to be honest it was all pretty much a blur. We might have had one or three too many over there. That’s the advantage about being the first band on the bill... lol. I remember vividly enjoying that every club turned into a disco after the show. I love dancing obviously. That's such a fun release after a rock show. I secretly long to be a club DJ.
What else can we expect to see from He Is Legend in 2017? We expect to be rocking all over the world. We'd love to be supporting acts that we love and look up to but our plans are up in the air at the moment. We are waiting for the other shoe to drop so to speak... We know big things are coming so keep an eye out.
How did Lemuria first get together? Sheena and I started the band in 2004, we had been friends since grade school and both of us were still learning how to play our instruments. Some friends of my family had a house that they had just moved out of in a very small town called East Otto, NY that was about an hour drive from Buffalo and they said during the meantime we could set up and practice there. So we would drive out to this house in the woods, which was pretty eerie, but it was a place that was so isolated we could play at any hour of the day. Both of us had played in hardcore bands prior to Lemuria, so our avenue of booking shows was mostly through hardcore promoters, so when we first began we were playing a lot of eclecticly billed shows.
How did you get to the band name Lemuria, and what does it mean to you? The band name is based off of a hypothetical, or I guess mythical continent that was possibly in the Pacific Ocean. Basically, just Atlantis, but on the other side of the globe. Around the time we started the band I was reading a lot of conspiracy books by David Icke and other people, including people who believed they were descendants of the ancient land. These were books you'd find in the New Age section of a bookstore.
What was it like to be an upcoming band in Buffalo, New York? Buffalo is a big hardcore town, so we played a lot of hardcore shows. We love Buffalo, and even though life has brought us to live in different cities now, Buffalo still feels like our hometown. The scene has always been very supportive of us there, even when we were the confusing band on the show.
When did you first realize that you were going to be a career lasting band? For the past 7 years we have all lived in different cities. In fact, all 3 of us live in different time zones. But we get more accomplished under these circumstances than we did when we all lived in the same city. We make the most of the time we have together, we take turns going to each others cities for weeks or months on end to work on our songs. When we realized this worked out well for us, we decided there is no point in ever breaking up. Even if we go a year without doing much, we don't really feel the need to call it quits or limit ourselves by announcing a breakup. We don't want to be a band that breaks up and reunites. Not that there is anything wrong with that, just something we personally don't want.
w with Alex
So it's been nearly a decade since the release of 'Get Better', so what do you remember the most about putting this album together, and how was this whole experience for the band at the time?
Writing and recording the album was a tough time for me. We had been on tour with Kind of Like Spitting for almost 6 weeks while on the road I received a call that my dad had passed away. So we came home from that tour early and during the processing stages of this event, we began working on ‘Get Better’. I remember recording the album was exactly the escape I needed.
What has it been like to rehearse for the tour, and have there been any tracks that have been particularly rewarding to re-visit? We hadn't played the song ‘Buzz’ since around the time the album came out. As we were preparing the song we all were wondering why we hadn't been playing it as a staple to our set all of these years.
What has it been like to visit that album for you personally then, maybe seeing how different you are as a person now? It's been very interesting, it’s like looking at your reflection in the mirror but you're 10 years younger. It's been pretty rewarding to revisit the songs with a clearer perspective on them.
How would you say musically you've progressed since the release of 'Get Better'? I think as musicians we've improved with our instruments. With this tour we are bringing out a 4th member, Tony Flaminio, who played all the keyboard parts on the album to fill out the parts that are usually missing from our live set. That's been very exciting for us. I think we've all become much more confident with playing and a little more adventurous with executing the harmonies live.
Looking back on 'The Distance Is So Big', how happy are you with this album still, and what do you think it has done for the representation of Lemuria? We are very happy with it. 'The Distance Is So Big' came out in 2013, only 6 years after recording 'Get Better'. We also released 'Pebble' in 2011. All 3 albums have very different moods. 'Get Better' is very somber, but optimistic. 'Pebble' is much darker and more emotionally raw. 'Distance' to me is somewhat of a hybrid of its 2 predecessors mood-wise, but I think a little more colorful lyrically. It was written while I was in a very toxic environment, but recorded when I was in a much better place. It shows some of the darker themes of 'Pebble' through a more optimistic lens similar to 'Get Better'.
How excited are you for your upcoming UK tour, and what can attending fans expect? We love touring in the UK and we jump on any opportunity to visit. We'll be playing 'Get Better' in its entirety, but since the album is only 28 minutes, we have many other songs we'll be digging up and some fun surprises!
What do you remember the most about your first ever tour in the UK? Our first UK tour was over 10 years ago before 'Get Better' came out. We were on tour with a band called Ringers from Boston. It was a 5 week tour that also visited mainland Europe. It was incredible, but now that so much time has passed it is a little bit of a blur because every day we experienced on that tour was sensory overload because our friend Jan from YoYo Records was such a great tour guide, he made sure to pack in all of the site seeing for each city we went to. It was one of the greatest months of my life and I wish I would've kept a journal so I could clearly remember the details of each city we visited.
Have you started work on any new material just yet, if so, what do you think fans can expect from it? We have a new album completely recorded. We went into the studio last year and recorded with Chris Shaw in Austin, TX. He engineered the first Weezer album along with an eclectic roster of artists like Bob Dylan, A Tribe Called Quest, Cypress Hill, Ween, Cheap Trick, Leonard Cohen and so many other great artists. It was an honor to work with him and it was all so surreal. Right now we are just going back and forth on some mixes and when those are done we'll hopefully have it mastered and released before the year is over.
What else can we expect to see from Lemuria in 2017? After this tour, we're mostly focusing on the release of a new album!
Interview with Andrew
Can you tell us how Basement originally got together? Me and Alex wanted to do something at university to help keep in touch and because we just wanted to start a band. Alex was at uni with Ronan, James is my brother and then Duncan was conveniently around when we were writing for the first LP.
How did you get to the band name Basement, and what does it mean to you? It doesn't mean anything. I just wanted a name that didn't have any specific connotations. When you hear Basement, not knowing anything about the band, you wouldn't be able to guess what we sound like. I like that idea.
What was it like to be an upcoming band in Ipswich? Hard. No venues, not many other bands, no one came through. We tried to change that though by putting on shows ourselves. Ipswich had a pretty decent punk and ska scene at the time, but for alternative stuff there wasn't really anything happening. I'm proud to say we helped that out a bit while we were involved in putting on shows.
How did you end up becoming a part of Fueled By Ramen, and what have they been like to work with so far? They hit us up. We met them. They seemed really great, we took a shot, here we are. So far everyone has been great. We feel comfortable and supported and part of a close knit family. We love RFC still and always will, but it felt like a good time to try something new and something bigger.
You guys are on one hell of a tour right now, with Thursday, Touche Amore, Wax Idols and Cities Aviv. So how rewarding have these dates been for you so far? Honestly these shows have been so great. We have been truly spoiled with some of the reactions we have gotten on this tour. Some shows have felt more like a headline shows rather than a support slot. Thank you so much to the people coming out to see us. Also, Thursday are such wonderful people. They have been nothing but sweet and welcoming since day one. It's been a really fun experience.
How did your recent UK tour go, and can you give us a couple of personal highlights from your time on the road? It was incredible. Almost all shows sold out, small venues, wild reactions. Higher Power were great fun, our friend Stan was with us the whole time. It was great. Leeds for me was the highlight. Both shows were batty. Really wild. Leeds is always so sick. At this point, it feels more like our home than London or Ipswich.
Also, looking back on 'Promise Everything', how happy have you been with the reception to the album so far, and what do you think it has done for the representation of Basement? Honestly I don't read any press or anything, and I steer clear of social media, but if the shows are anything to go by, people seem to be enjoying the newer stuff. ‘Aquasun’, ‘PE’ and ‘Brothers Keeper’ all get good reactions and that is so sick. Thanks to people getting into the new stuff. Your support means a lot.
For the deluxe edition of 'Promise Everything' you re-recorded that track. So what made you want to re-visit it, and what was that whole process like for you? It was a suggestion from the label. At the time I was against it, because for other reasons I was feeling kinda down about the record in general at that time. But after taking time to cool off, it made sense to go back to the song. I think it's a great song and I think the original was lacking in how it was arranged. I'm so glad we were given the opportunity to go back to it, because now I love it. It's so much better than it was and it was such fun really recording it. We did it almost all live and that energy and aggression shows on this version. It's a better representation of us as a band how we operate live, so for that reason especially I really like it.
How did the music video idea for 'Promise Everything' come together, and what was it like to film? We had another idea originally that didn't work out, and this idea was based off of something James's girlfriend Stephanie Unger (who also does a lot of great designs for us) came up with. It was something we could do on tour, so we decided to do it. It was honestly really stressful and a lot of hard work that we didn't plan for, but I'm glad we did it because it would have been awful to have gone through the issues with the first video and come away with nothing. This is an honest and more realistic representation of us as a band right now. I'm not saying we don't want to do more “impressive” videos in the future, but right now this feels right.
You guys have had a lot of success in the states, so can you tell us about what you think it takes for a British band to make it out there? Honestly no idea. We don't have a particular British sound, so maybe that helps? All the bands that influence me are American anyway. I don't think we do anything special. I think the RFC association was a big selling point. That did a lot for us - so Jeff and Tom, cheers very much!
How excited are you for your upcoming slot at Download Festival, and what can attending fans expect? Honestly so stoked. Such a cool festival. Never been or played so that makes it even MORE exciting to me. I want to see Mastodon. We all love Mastodon. You should see everyone air drum to ‘The Motherload’.
What else can we expect to see from Basement in 2017? A bit more touring. Trying to tie up some loose ends right now. That and we want to start writing new material. So a decent mix of that. Being a band I guess ha!
Interview with Ben
Can you tell us how Tigers Jaw originally got together? When I was about 14 years old, my cousin was playing in a band called The Swims. I went to see them play and became totally enamoured with playing music. I had met Adam Mcilwee a few times prior when I saw his early bands play, but we bonded over The Swims and other bands they used to play with regularly in Scranton, like Okay Paddy, Strand of Oaks, and Lewis & Clarke. We got together a few times and I played second guitar at a couple practices for Adam’s band at the time. In late 2005, Adam told me he was writing some new songs for a new project, and he asked if I wanted to start a band with him. I went to see him play an acoustic show in the basement of an art gallery, and he played an early version of what would become ‘The Sun’. That year, he got an 8 track recorder for Christmas, so we got together a few days after Christmas to write and record some songs and Tigers Jaw was born.
How did you get to the band name Tigers Jaw, and what does it mean to you? The name is a reference to a song title/lyric by The Microphones. The Microphones/Mount Eerie were hugely influential when we were starting the band and also throughout Tigers Jaw’s career. Adam and I really bonded over them in the early days and I revisited them intentionally during my writing process for ‘spin’. Phil Elverum’s style is so uniquely strange and lyrically vivid while being simple in its presentation. His music has been a constant source of inspiration, so it has been very meaningful to me.
What was it like to be an upcoming band in Scranton, Pennsylvania? Coming up in Scranton was definitely difficult but rewarding. Music scenes in Scranton seem to ebb and flow based on how active young people are in creating and sustaining them. When Tigers Jaw formed, there were three music scenes in the area – a ska punk scene, an indie/art scene, and an alternative/heavy rock scene. All three of these were fading out as we started. In Scranton proper, there really weren’t any all ages venues at the time, so we had to make things happen on our own. We booked basement shows and community center shows, we became friends with some local artists who ran a gallery called Test Pattern, and they let us book shows there. Using Myspace, we networked with other bands and started branching out and doing show trades to play outside of Scranton and bring other bands into Scranton. Bands like Three Man Cannon, Captain We’re Sinking, and The Menzingers from Scranton, and Title Fight from Kingston, PA were a huge part of this as well.
When did you first realize that you were going to be a career lasting band? The band started as something we did completely for fun. It felt different from the music that other people our age were making, and it was exciting to feel like we were developing our own style. We always wanted to do the band as much as we could, but committed to finishing college before we made any leaps. Back in 2013, we had a shift in the lineup of the band, and Brianna and I were faced with a difficult decision. How do we continue? We decided to complete our touring commitments and then reassess when we had some time to reflect. That tour turned out to be the best and most fun tour we had ever done at that point. The outpouring of support and encouragement that people gave us really helped us see that it still felt natural and fulfilling to pursue Tigers Jaw. Brianna and I knew that we never wanted to stop doing the band, we just needed to make sure it still felt right, and it did. It was at that point we really decided to take the band full time. We are grateful for the opportunities we’ve had, and we know that this “business” is fickle and difficult to navigate, but we want to be in Tigers Jaw forever, so as long as it is still fulfilling and feels right, we will keep doing what we do.
How did you end up on Black Cement Records, and what has that like to be a part of so far? ‘Charmer’ was our third and final full length with Run For Cover, so we found ourselves as free agents of sorts. We’ve had an awesome time working with RFC and are grateful for how supportive they have been and continue to be. We decided to see what other options were out there for us while we started to write for ‘spin.’ Our good friend Will Yip was approached by people at Atlantic Records about starting an imprint, and we were curious to see how a major label could hope to assimilate with our DIY-leaning punk “scene”, and I knew that if Will was able to reach a level of comfort to work with them, then it was definitely an option worth exploring. We were very sceptical, having heard many major label horror stories, but the people that would eventually comprise Black Cement Records truly impressed us. They had such an immense level of respect for our world of music, and for what we’ve been able to accomplish by doing things our own way. They stayed on the sidelines and basically researched our world before making any moves to ensure that they truly had an understanding for how the bands operate. We really saw eye-to-eye on a lot of things, and they turned out to be the most exciting option and the best fit personnel wise. We signed to Black Cement earlier this year, and it has been such an amazing experience so far. We have complete creative freedom over all decision making. The team that is working with us on ‘spin’ is extremely motivated, smart, and creative, and we couldn’t feel more comfortable. It will be very exciting to be the first Black Cement release and to see what the future holds for us and for the label.
How did you originally end up working with Will Yip, and can you tell us a bit about how he helped shape 'spin'? We had a lot of mutual friends that worked with Will, and we expressed a mutual desire to work together, so we met up at a Title Fight show and discussed it. From those first conversations, I was so impressed with Will’s creativity and positive attitude. I knew he would be a great fit. We worked with him for our previous album ‘Charmer’, our Cure cover for the split with Kevin Devine, and our live acoustic album, and developed such an easy-going, trusting creative relationship. There was no question that we would be returning to Will for ‘spin’. He helped shape the record in many ways. He really made us spend time on song structure and keys to determine the best presentation of the songs. We ended up switching a few keys around, which resulted in us exploring different areas of our vocal ranges. It was really satisfying to try new things and it resulted in a very dynamic album. Will also worked with us on some vocal melodies, which he has such a good ear for. He also helped us out by structuring our recording sessions in a “song by song” model. Instead of recording all the drum tracks, then all the bass, etc., we focused on one song at a time. This allowed us to really zone in on each song’s specific vibe and tone and performance. As a producer, Will is also great at cultivating a positive creative environment. He is excited to try any idea, no matter how grand or small in the scheme of a record. His enthusiasm and encouragement in the studio is invaluable.
This is the first album to be completely written as a duo. So what has that been like for you, and how else would you say the creative process has compared to any other record you've put together? Personally, I have always had a very solitary writing process. I played drums as my first instrument, so when I write songs, I map out and demo the song completely before showing it to anyone. So my writing process for ‘spin’ wasn’t much different from previous albums, except that I set a personal goal to have 10 finished songs by the time we started recording, which was the most songs I’ve ever written going into an album.
You also experimented with stream-of-consciousness writing, so how did this idea come together, and what did it bring to the album? I was talking to my friend Tom May (The Menzingers) about how sometimes when writing lyrics, it’s easy to hit a wall and get discouraged. You can work on the same song for weeks and not get anywhere with it. He told me about a book called Writing Better Lyrics, and then he actually bought me a copy. I found some writing exercises in that book to be really interesting and helpful. Basically, I would write freely for 10 minutes right when I woke up in the morning, using one word as a launching point. First thing in the morning, before I’m fully awake, I don’t have all of my usual self-critical filters up yet, so I can generate lots of different ideas I might not get out otherwise.
So, how did you get to the album title 'spin'? The word spin comes up in two of my songs, and it’s meant to represent feeling overwhelmed. The imagery of the room spinning or anxieties making your head spin felt vivid and relatable, so we felt it was a concise way to represent a lot of the lyrical themes of the album.
How did the front cover for 'spin' come together, and can you tell us a bit about what it means to you? Brianna has always done the artwork for our albums, and with each album she tries a different medium. This time around she wanted to do a painting, sort of inspired by a still life portrait of unrelated items that you might paint in an art class. She came up with the idea to have each of us contribute personal items that represent us in some way. She really did an amazing job of creating something that represents our collaboration as band members.
How excited are you for your upcoming performance at Reading/Leeds Festival, and what can attending fans expect? We are very excited for Reading/Leeds! We’ve seen the amazing lineups year after year and are thrilled to finally have the opportunity to play. We really love touring in the U.K. but have never played a festival before this. Fans can expect to hear some new songs from ‘spin’ and a nice mix of older songs as well.
Can you give us a couple of personal highlights from performing in the UK over the years? Our first time ever playing in the U.K. was Jan 1, 2011 at the Purple Turtle in London with End of a Year and Basement. Our flights got cancelled and rescheduled due to snowstorms, and we got to the venue in just enough time to play. Within 15 minutes of parking, we were setting up on stage. We were jet lagged, and stressed out, but we started playing and people were singing along, and it was just such a surreal and rewarding end to such a stressful journey. In 2015, we did a tour with Foxing, and the last night of tour was our bassist Luke Schwartz’s 100th show with Tigers Jaw. We surprised him onstage by having Foxing come out on stage dancing with balloons and confetti and one of them in a Kermit the frog costume. The positive energy that night was so palpable and it was the perfect way to end an amazing tour.
It's been just over ten years since the release of 'Belongs to the Dead' so looking back on that record, what do you remember the most about putting it together, and how would you say it compares to anything else you've done? ‘Belongs to the Dead’ was sort of an experiment inspired again by the Microphones. We learned about how Phil Elverum created thick tape distortion on certain tracks by recording through a cassette machine. We decided to take 10 songs and strip them down and record in a very specific way. We used a simple drum setup of just kick snare and hi-hat, acoustic guitar, bass, and synth. We recorded everything ourselves without really knowing how to do it, so it sounds very grainy and lo-fi, but it felt really special at the time, and still has such a unique feel to it that I don’t think we could ever re-capture if we tried.
What else can we expect to see from Tigers Jaw in 2017? First off we can’t wait to finally share ‘spin’ with everyone. We want to tour all over the world and play new songs. We are hoping to do one or two cool music videos. We plan to do some more acoustic material/performances as well. We hope to keep meeting great people and bands.
What was it like to be an upcoming band in Richmond Hill? Richmond Hill is your quintessential suburban town, meaning that it was pretty boring. Not a bad place to grow up - just boring, really. I think it’s those sleepy suburban towns that give birth to a lot of musical talent, because you’ve got to do something with all that downtime… Richmond Hill didn’t have a scene really at all. It tried a few times, and there were some great people who gave it a go and put on shows, but nothing ever stuck… Our friends and us would head a bit north to Newmarket, Ontario - yet another boring, sleep suburban town, but where there was a really vibrant punk and ska scene. We had our young minds blown by bands who were comprised of kids only a few years older than us playing every weekend, putting out their own records, connecting with people, and really making an impact. At least to us and the other couple hundred kids in the room. It was a really special place to visit, and we were eventually welcomed into the Newmarket scene when we started the band. We started so young that our folks would drive us up to the shows, drive home, and come back later to pick up 4 very “loose” teenagers after their gig. Drinking beer out of McDonald’s cups in the parking lot did us a lot of good back then I suppose, until our ride home showed up...
How did you get to the band name The Flatliners, and what does it mean to you? When we started the band at 14 years old, myself, Scott and Jon all agreed in the hall of our high school that we’d go home that night and each return to school the next day with 5 band name ideas. That night I went to a Blockbuster video with my mom and saw the movie ‘Flatliners’ sitting on the shelf. I thought it sounded like a cool name, but I guess not enough to rent the thing, even with that star-studded cast… I returned to school the next day with only one name to contribute: The Flatliners. This beat out the only other name that was contributed, which will remain a secret, largely due to the fact that it was a horrible name. Still to this day, none of us have seen the movie Flatliners. I mean, what if we think it sucks?
How was your tour with The Menzingers, and can you give us a couple of personal highlights from the run so far? Touring with friends is always great. Touring with friends you’ve known for almost ten years?! The best. Seeing them grow with every record - as songwriters, as a touring force to be reckoned with - has been amazing. We’re all very happy we could join them in Europe for a couple weeks. Playing at the beautiful and legendary Koko with them was a trip - especially after the show sold out. Punks doing fancy things!
What songs are you currently really enjoying performing live from 'Inviting Light' at the moment, and why?
I really like playing ‘Hang My Head’ live because there’s a moment in each verse where I’m yelling a long solid “yeah” that I start to see stars and almost pass out. It feels like right before that happens, my body snaps back to it and we’re onto the next part of the song. It’s a nice challenge to see how far I can bend, so to speak. And if my body ever fully follows through with the passing out, well then I think it’ll make for a nterview with Chris good show!
So how did you get to the album title 'Inviting Light', and what does it mean to you? There are a few meanings to the title. Sonically and tonally speaking, in comparison to our previous albums, this one is brighter and happier sounding. Though the lyrical content is still pretty dark, there is a vibe that the “light at the end of the tunnel” I so often depict in my lyrics really has never been closer. A lot of the record touches on the dwindling art of conversation and use of human interaction to fulfill one’s life and time. These things have been replaced by things like phones and other means of technology that put us in our own little bubbles. You get a rush when you open your phone to some messages, some notifications, what-have-you. The inviting light of that little box in your hand can replace the real people in your life if you’re not careful...
Can you elaborate on some of the other main themes and influences that run throughout 'Inviting Light’? Other than the ones above, there’s a solid theme of feeling your age, and feeling as though you’ve slowed down that moment of walking through a door. You’re able to look back and see where you’ve come from, and you’re also looking forward to see where you may end up. I think that just comes with age and the experiences from doing the same thing for the last fifteen years with the same four guys in the band. They’re all positive things really, that just make me think over and over about life and where it can take you. There are songs about how the road can wear you down (Burn Out Again), and there are songs about how even if the future seems terrifying in the state the world is in, you’ve got to believe in love and the prospect of life (Wedding Speech). But in the end, the record’s main theme is being aware of mortality and not wanting to waste any time on useless, petty things. Every moment counts. That light at the end of the tunnel has never felt so close as it does now.
How did you end up working with Peter Pablo & Derek Hoffman, and how would you say they helped shape the album? We worked so well as a team, the band, Peter and Derek. It was a new approach to recording, and I’ve got to say it worked out beautifully. It’s the quickest we’ve ever worked in the studio, and the most explorative we’ve ever been. Music shouldn’t be about sticking to one thing. It shouldn’t be about figuring out what you can do and only doing that. You should go so far down that rabbit hole you’ve created with your friends. Why wouldn’t you? There are no rules to what we do as musicians. Peter and Derek backed this theory of ours, and with their help we reached some new territory that really excites and fulfills us all as artists. Instead of thinking what kind of band we’ve been, or what kind of band we wanted to be, or any of that confusing stuff, we just set out to make a solid record that we could look back on years from now and still be proud of. And we accomplished that as a team.
In 2015 you guys didn't have a jam space. So how would you say this time contributed towards the writing/creative process within the band? Things were more sporadic once we lost our jam space. It forced us to go with our gut and trust our instincts during the writing process though. If it works, you can just feel it usually. And we went a lot on how things felt on this one. If it feels good, then you’re going down the right road.
You've said that "there’s not as much value placed on face-to-face human interaction as there is in elevating the profile", so can you elaborate on this, as well as maybe how you think social media has changed the world we know? These technologies are meant to benefit us as people, keep us connected, make us more efficient, all these things… And in a lot of cases, sure, they do that. But how much time do you waste staring at your phone everyday? Reading every silly thing your friends write on Facebook. It’s either people bragging or complaining, and none of it really means anything. But as people, we start to place so much value on how many people like our status update or our photo on Instagram. You can buy likes and followers and all these things now. Buy them… It’s all silly when you step back far enough and think about it for long enough. And I do understand there’s a rush involved with it all though - I do - but it makes me nervous for future generations of people. Will they even have to speak to one another at all? That’s a world I don’t want to live in.
How did the front cover for 'Inviting Light' come together, and can you tell us a bit about what it means to you? Our friend Jonathan Minto took that beautiful photograph. I have no idea what caused that insane looking light, and I never want to know. Sometimes the mystery is all you need. Minty is an incredible photographer though, and we were so happy to be able to use his artwork to tie our record together.
It's been ten years since the release of 'The Great Awake', so looking back, what do you remember the most about putting this album together, and how would you say it compares to anything else you've done? It’s truly wild to think it’s been 10 years since that record came out… We just wanted to make a positive impression on Fat Mike and the good people at Fat Wreck for taking such a big chance on some 19 year old Canadian kids. We worked our asses off making that record, to the point where it wasn’t really all that fun to make, haha! I think there was some self-imposed pressure at play back then when making the record, and we couldn’t see it as that in the moment. But in the end, that record, and the vote of confidence from Mike and everyone at Fat helped us reach an audience we probably would have never if they didn’t give us that chance. I remember getting the phone call from him saying he liked our band, which prompted us to go into the studio and demo every song we had written for it at that point - which was something like 16 songs. I remember doing the vocals for the demos on Christmas Eve 2006, and sending it along to him between Christmas and New Year's… A couple months later we were making the real record, but none of it felt real, you know? We were about to begin living our dreams of releasing an album with Fat Wreck. Everything changed after that, and I’d like to think for the better of course!
How excited are you for your upcoming UK tour in the autumn, and what can attending fans expect? Very excited to come back and play a full set of a good mix of all our records. It will be loud. It will be sweaty. It will be the best night of our lives, and hopefully yours too!
What else can we expect to see from The Flatliners in 2017? NO SLEEP TIL 2018!
Interview with Tuk
Can you tell us about how Biters first got together? I started Biters in 2009. I've always played music, so after one band broke up the next step was to start another one. Biters have been the one that's lasted the longest. It's kind of difficult to find like-minded people who want to do our style of music. Our guitar player lives in Baltimore and I knew him from his previous band. I told him I was starting and he wanted to join.
How did you get to the band name Biters, and what does it mean to you? Honestly it just sounds cool, it has no real meaning to me. After 50+ years of the name game, itâ€™s slim pickings out there. Maybe that's why so many artists have long names at this point.
What was it like to be an upcoming band in Atlanta, Georgia? I grew up in the south, so it felt like home to me. Atlanta is a major city like anywhere else, there's lots of rock n roll here. Outside of the city it's pretty rural and blue collar but most of Atlanta is hip hop and tractor rap culture. I don't pay attention to that scene, so it made no impact on me.
How did your recent UK tour go, and can you give us a couple of personal highlights from your time on the road? The whole tour was great. We supported Blackberry Smoke, who are our labelmates at Earache and also from Atlanta and they're awesome guys. Our tour manager ate giant chocolate bunnies and soda for breakfast. Amsterdam is always fun and the Viking countries love their rock n roll.
How does touring in the UK compare to anywhere else in the world? The UK like any other country has their own little nuances specific to them. I really enjoy being in there. The UK has such a big music history and it's great to be surrounded by so much legacy.
Okay, so how did you get to the album title 'The Future Ain't What It Used To Be', and what does it mean to you? I'm fascinated with the idea of reincarnation, the idea of going through many different lifetimes to learn different lessons on a large scale just makes sense to me. I also think that you go through many different stages in a single lifetime as well. Constantly evolving on a micro and major scale. You never know what's going to happen or where things will take you.
Can you elaborate on some of the other main themes and influences that run through 'The Future Ain't What It Used To Be'? There's really not a main theme lyrically on this record, it covers a lot of ground. From psychic vampires feeding off your emotions to songs about just wanting to come home and sleep in your own bed are all covered on this record. I just wanted to write songs that people could relate to without being too literal.
How did you end up working with Dan Dixon, and how would you say he helped shape the album? Dan is one of my best friends and a real mentor. He lives down the street from me. He's worked on several Biters recordings and he and I have produced several other bands together. He knows me so well that he knows what I want and it's just easy to work with him.
How did the front cover for 'The Future Ain't What It Used To Be' come together, and what does it mean to you? I'm really attracted to Hindu imagery and the tiger heads tie in with the album title. Each tiger head represents time on a linear scale. The past, the present and future versions of yourself and everything in between. The three eyed tiger is our logo as well.
How would you say you've grown/progressed musically since the release of 'Electric Blood'? I've Just been trying to work with as many talented people as possible. I was blessed enough to be able to be in the situation last year to go work with very inspirational, driven people, as well as working with a lot of other bands. I'd like to think it's worn off on me and I've kind of soaked up some of the magic like a sponge. The new record is different than the last one and I kind of blocked out a lot of outside opinions and just focused on making something I really wanted to make. It's got a very different feel than 'Electric Blood'.
Also, looking back on 'Electric Blood', how happy are you with this album still, and what do you think it has done for the representation of Biters? There are some songs on there I really dig but I also look back and wish I would've done a lot of things differently. I had a lot of people pressuring me to be this idea they held in their head of what Biters were supposed to be. The album was not insincere by any means, but I am in a completely different headspace now and so I don't connect with all the songs as much as I did then. That's just me personally, because I go through a lot of phases. I don't know if 'Electric Blood' is the proper representation for what Biters stands for. I think the new record is more true to our roots.
What else can we expect to see from Biters in 2017? Hopefully some killer music videos, some great tours and a lot of new friends and fans!
Can you tell us about how Northlane originally got together? I had an idea of a band I wanted to start, after playing in a few local bands before Northlane I thought it was time to start something I really wanted to play, thus I found Jon online through some friends and showed him him what I was working on. That later became our first song â€˜The Deadminesâ€™ and Northlane was born.
When did you first realize that you were going to be a career lasting band? I think itâ€™s still sinking in, but nothing is ever concrete when you think about it!
So what made you want to have 'Mesmer' be a surprise release? I guess mainly to do something different, everyone releases records the same old way and we thought we would do something special not letting the fans wait and just bang put it out, it all worked out way better then we could have imagined.
What was it like to put together, without anyone knowing that you were putting a record together? Well this wasn't the first time we had done this, ‘Singularity’ was also recorded in secret and although it wasn't a surprise release we definitely had some practice at writing and recording a record as a secret.
Interview with Alex
So, how did you get to the album title 'Mesmer', and what does it mean to you? ‘Mesmer’ was actually the song ‘Render’ until the late stages of the recording process, Josh thought ‘Render’ was a better suited name and proposed the album be called ‘Mesmer’. It’s unique and we all thought it was a good idea. ‘Mesmer’ is the last name of a German physicist that josh was reading about and one of his theories caught josh's attention and that inspired calling the song ‘Render’, ‘Mesmer’ and the late change to the album title.
Can you elaborate on some of the main themes and influences that run throughout 'Mesmer'? There is a reoccurrence of loss, which is something that we haven't really delved much into before.
How did you end up working with David Bendeth, and how would you say he helped shape the album? He is responsible for some of our favourite records collectively as a band and when we had spoken to other people about working with him and spoke to him ourselves we really were excited and loved his approach on recording a band. He definitely helped shape the record lyrically and musically pushing us to not settle for average instrumentation or lyrics pushing us in anyway he could to get the best possible end result. He would always say that he was fighting for the song, it was always his priority!
You said you've "grown immeasurably as people and as a band through the toughest record process we've ever endured." So can you elaborate on that, as well as what you think made this record so hard to put together? Personal life endeavours was a big factor when ‘Mesmer’ was being put together, we suffered the loss of an inspiration and friend Tom Searle and two of the members of Northlane had to deal with some personal loss of loved ones and relationships, this all fuelled ‘Mesmer’ and even though it was a tough time for members in the band, some tougher than others it pushed us as a whole in the right direction for this record.
How did the front cover for 'Mesmer' come together, and what does it mean to you? We had a very vague idea of what it should look like and when we found the artist (fvckrender) on Instagram we approached him with our ideas. The first revision wasn't quite what we expected but he uploaded the album art work a few days later as part of one of his personal projects and we loved it. A few little changes and that was the front cover!
How would you say your sound has grown since the release of 'Node'? I wouldn't say it’s dramatically changed by any means, the songs are their own songs and have their vibe and feel to it. Some songs on ‘Mesmer’ might be heavier or softer but as a whole I feel like ‘Mesmer’ is a reflection of the 5 of us at this current time in life and ‘Node’ was much the same. Marcus is a whole lot more settled now in his role as Northlane's frontman and you can definitely hear that on ‘Mesmer’.
How excited are you for your upcoming slot at Download Festival, and what can attending fans expect? Very, the last time was great and I'm sure it will be the same again this time. I guess, come and find out! ;)
How does touring in the UK compare to anywhere else in the world? Touring in that UK is great, we have really noticed that the fan base is growing and every time we come back it just gets bigger. Itâ€™s no Sydney Australia but it's close!
What else can we expect to see from Northlane in 2017? We cant give away all the secret's, wait and see!
Interview with Josh
How did '68 originally get together? Pretty simply, after The Chariot parted ways I started '68. I asked my friend (from my hometown) if he wanted to play drums, he said he would think about it. But then I offered to pay for his burrito and he said yes.
How did you get to the band name '68, and what does it mean to you? My dad owned a '68 Camaro near the end of his life and this car was great. He has passed away now and it seemed fitting to name this band after some real good times.
So how did you end up signing to Cooking Vinyl, and what have they been like to work with so far? After our first album we talked with a lot of labels. As soon as Cooking Vinyl showed interest though they became our first choice. Thankfully it all worked out. So far they have been phenomenal.
What made you want to release 'This Life Is Old, New, Borrowed And Blue' as the first single from 'Two Parts Viper', and can you tell us a bit about the meaning behind the track? Well, this song has heavy parts and chill parts so it seemed like a good one to pick. It was difficult (for me at least) because I typically write albums, I don't just write songs, so any one song outside of the album could be misrepresentative. Like if you heard Track 8 first you might think '68 is not a riff-heavy guitar band. But as the 8th track of an entire album it is nice when that song comes up in the mix because it has zero guitars in the song. So it is a breath of fresh air.
So, how did you get to the album title 'Two Parts Viper', and what does it mean to you? It came to me in a dream. A man in a fancy suit came up to me and said if I were to make it in this life I would have to be ‘Two Parts Viper’. The dream is very long winded but that's the short version.
Can you elaborate on some of the main themes and influences that run throughout 'Two Parts Viper'? This album was written and recorded over the course of about 7 months, which is unique for how I typically write/record. So its themes vary throughout. But it is still the usual suspects of death, love, and mediocrity.
Can you tell us a bit about the recording process for 'Two Parts Viper'? I recorded with Matt Goldman. He has done all of my albums since The Chariot. As I mentioned before, this was written and recorded much differently though because our touring schedule was so strenuous that we never had more than a week or so off last year to sit down and record. So we would do bits and pieces here and there. Sometimes we would only pop in for a day or so. But it finally came together like a giant puzzle.
How would you say the sound of '68 has grown/changed since the release of 'In Humor and Sadness'? Not sure really. The main difference is that I know a little bit more about guitar and effects pedals. When I wrote ‘In Humor And Sadness’ I had never played guitar full time, (I only wrote songs for The Chariot on guitar, I never performed them on the instrument) so hopefully with increasing my knowledge, I'm increasing my ability to write.
You are known for your chaotic live shows, but for you can you give us one or two moments from the road that have just really stood out to you as '68, and a bit about why that is? One time the cops came in and shut down the show, they said it was all too loud. So I asked if it was much quieter, if we could continue on and the cop said yes. So we finished the rest of the set as a surf rock band. Keeping the volume low with nearly no effects just a reverb-y twangy sound. In '68 we never use set lists and we have a ton of free jam parts that we just make up on the spot so, we were able to continue on and have fun. Most "computer-driven" rock bands of this day and age could not have done anything but stop their set completely since it is all backtracked and pre-recorded.
What else can we expect to see from '68 in 2017? We are touring the planet Earth.
So why did you decide to call yourself Wednesday 13, what’s the story behind it? I have been trying to track this down when I started using the name Wednesday…I think it was around 1995 I was in-between doing my band Frankenstein Drag Queens (from Planet 13), actually I hadn’t started it, I was about to, and I had this band before that called Maniac Spider Trash and the band was splitting up and I started playing guitar in another band around that time, and I was trying to kind of hide that I was playing in another band so I started using a different name, and I made up the name Wednesday 13 and I don’t know exactly where it came from, but I’m sure it was basically influenced by The Adams Family and the character Wednesday and I liked that nickname and the number thirteen, I wanted something that sounded futuristic, like a space villain of something, like “Oh my god, it’s Wednesday 13!”…like this evil scary weirdo thing, that doesn’t sound like it’s from this earth. So I wanted something that sounded strange and weird, and I think I got it. There’s no other Wednesday’s, except Wednesday Adams so I feel good about that.
How did you first get into playing music? I started discovering music and really getting into it, I went like straight from G.I. Joes to like Alice Cooper and music like that, so I pretty much got straight into it. I think I was probably ten or eleven years old and I was in my elementary school and we had a talent show, and there was this girl that I liked, so I wanted to get her attention, so I got me and my friends to lip synch to a Whitesnake song that was popular on the radio at the time, and we did that in front of my whole school, I went out with just like a cardboard cut-out guitar and all my friends doing it whilst lip syncing to Whitesnake, when we had finished, everyone stood up and cheered for us. After we got off stage, I got that girl’s attention, so she became my girlfriend and I was like “Wow, this rock ‘n’ roll business works!” At that point I realised I wanted to do this, then I traded in the cardboard cut-out and told my parents that I wanted to get a guitar. So I got that for Christmas and just sat in my room for all those years and learned how to play guitar, and play all my favourite records. Now, here I am today.
How are your other current projects going and what are your future plans with them? My main focus right now is Wednesday 13. I’ve just finished three months of doing an acoustic unplugged tour for my side project Bourbon Crow. It was really fun to actually be able to do that live, because we had been wanting to do that for some many years. As far as doing or having plans to do anything else outside of Wednesday 13, I have so much going on with this right now and the new record coming out. I don’t even known when I will have the time to do any other projects, so that’s definitely going to be in the future. Most of my projects are just kind of recording things and having fun when I have down time, it’s not a live thing that I have to concentrate on doing. As of right now I’m just focused on doing this, and if there comes time to do any side project stuff then It will definitely be in the future, a couple of years from now.
You are known for a horror punk sound, and just generally bringing horror themes into your music, what made you decide to do this? For me, it was just a natural thing. When I was growing up I remember my first memory just sitting in front of the television as a kid, which seemed like the biggest television in the world. I basically just sat in front of the TV and watched cartoons, back in the day they would show some like bugs bunny, the stooges and then like the monsters and Adam’s family, all back to back and it was like a natural thing, going from bugs bunny to Frankenstein or something. At the same time I played with a collection of toys, I had a G.I. Joe figure and then at the same time they had horror movie figures like Frankenstein, Dracula and The Wolf Man, so they have always kind of been like a family to me.I don’t think I ever looked at them as monsters, they were the weirdos of the group but they weren’t a strange thing. So, when I started doing my bands and started making imagery for it I just went with what I know and what I know is movies. I just started taking my favourite pictures from movies and putting them on our flyers. Frankenstein Drag Queens wear a picture of Frankenstein, so it just became our imagery. It was just a natural thing for me from growing up.
Following on from that what are some of your favourite horror films? Too many to name…they’re usually the same ones I have been saying for years. My favourite horror movie of all time is Texas Chain Saw Massacre, and it’s really hard for me to separate part one from part two, I kind of love them both as one movie. If I had to pick another one it would be The Shining and Phantasm, Return Of The Living Dead, they’re just ones I grew up on as a kid. I’m really fortunate that I grew up in the 80’s and I got to see a lot of these movies when they were like brand new movies. I remember seeing Nightmare On Elm Street for the first time when it came out, before Freddie Kruger was a household name, it was terrifying at first. It was really cool that I got to grow up and experience that. If I was growing up now as a kid now, I don’t think the horror scene is nearly as exciting as it was in the 80’s.
So you have your seventh album ‘Condolences’ coming out this month, which you have described as more serious and full on metal, what made you decide to take this approach and style, and what are the main themes behind the album? For the way this record sounds and where we are as a band, it’s just been a natural progression. It wasn’t like we sat down and went “alright guys, we are going to change everything up”. We just played how we normally play, fans who have been following the band, even on the last record up until now will think this sounds like natural progression. If you haven’t listened to us in like ten or twelve years since the first album, this record probably sounds like a completely different band to you. For us, it’s just been natural and I have had the same line-up for like six or seven years now and we just gel as a band. For me I have just become a metal head over the past seven, eight years and that’s definitely incorporated into the music now. It’s not so crazy metal that it’s not Wednesday 13, it’s still very much Wednesday 13 and pays respect to the past. For me I feel like this new record is like the greatest hits of brand new songs already, it’s like each song is reminiscent of something from the record before or a little different. It’s my favourite thing I have done, probably since the first record. I turned forty last year and the guys in the band are all around the same age. It’s just where we are. I hate to use the word serious, but I guess compared to the other releases this record is definitely more serious compared to those.
What was the recording and writing process like for the album? Very long, it was detailed and probably the most focused I have ever spent on recording and songs. We basically took last summer (June, July and August) off and it was cool. We just sat down in a room and started from scratch writing the songs, we came in with a couple of ideas but nothing was followed, we were just like “we are going to spend three weeks, write a song a day, and we are going to make it be the best song we can, and when we are done in three weeks we will see how many songs we have, see what’s the best and pick the best” and that’s what we did. We basically wrote all the music in three weeks and then went home for July and then I made up all the lyrics and our guitar player went home and did all his guitar leads and all the cool guitar stuff on top of it and then we spent August recording, so it was a three month process writing and recording this whole thing. When it was all done, I felt like we had been away for like a year writing. When I listen to the record, and I hope when the fans listen to it, they can hear how much work we put into it. For me it’s the best sounding Wednesday 13 record, I wouldn’t say it’s the best Wednesday 13 record ever, but it’s the best sound. Production wise, our producer Zeuss (Chris ‘Zeuss’ Harris) came in to do our record. It’s just the biggest Wednesday 13 record ever, it sounds huge and I’m so happy with how it sounds. Every time I hear it on a different sound system I’m like “Woah, it sounds even better now!”, it’s really cool to have your record when you’re finished with it and just have it sound amazing like that, and we owe that to our producer Zeuss.
‘Condolences’ will be your first album out through your new label, Nuclear Blast, how has it been so far and how excited are you to release via them? It’s been amazing, for me it’s like my fourth album on a big label. I have been with Roadrunner Records with Murderdolls and my Wednesday 13 record, it’s been seven years since I have dealt with a label, and every year the music business changes. For me I don’t know if it’s just because I have been doing everything DIY myself for the past two years, just having the label help me do things I’m just like blown away by, every day I wake up, I turn on my social media and there’s tonnes of news about me already and I didn’t have to post it. So I’m like “Woah, that’s great!”. So having a team behind us was great. I spend nine months out of my year touring the world and playing shows I know how to do that, I don’t know how to work the record company side of it and make sure my music is in front of everybody so it’s cool to have a team that’s pushing that. I feel like things are just falling into place, like a natural thing, like the record turned out amazing. I feel like there’s almost a wait for the punch line, like a big joke and go “Hey, just kidding!”, it’s crazy, things are going good for us. I’m usually the bad luck master and now things are the exact opposite, so it’s a good time for us right now.
How happy have you been with the response to the first new single ‘What The Night Brings’ and can you tell us a bit about the song? You know it was really weird, I didn’t really know what the first single was going to be, because it was the first album we recorded that I didn’t have the first track picked out. Normally I have a song picked and think “oh that’s the first single”, but when we kept playing the record for a few of our friends and people, that was the one track that stood out and everyone was like “this is a great song. it’s got a good swing and groove to it”. Also for me, the song lyrically and the vibe of it, kind of sets the tone of the whole record I think, and the video as well. I read all the YouTube comments and there are tonnes of positive comments and there’s also a handful of people critiquing it and it’s kind of funny, because it’s cool to see how people see the video, some see it as perfect Wednesday 13 and some see it as scary, as I’m dressed up like a devil in it, so it’s funny seeing all the different reactions to it.
How would you say ‘Condolences’ compares to the rest of your back catalogue? It’s different, like I think with every record it’s different, I don’t try to do the same thing, maybe that’s not the smartest thing in the world, some bands changing their sound or just evolving, I don’t know if our music drastically changes but I feel like it’s just the natural progression. Every record I’ve done I look back on and it’s just a chapter of my life and whether the record is personal or if I sing about personal things on it, they represent a time and place. So every record is personal to me, like they’re my children. The ‘Condolences’ record for me represents what’s been going on in my world for the past four years, so it’s really close to me. I hear a little more emotion as I know what went into it. It’s definitely my favourite since the very first one. The first record I did was so special because I spent so much time, like a year writing it and it was my very first thing. So close to that one, as I put so much work into it.
Interview with C
How did you first get into playing music and singing? Playing music as a kid I got piano lessons at school, because that’s what you do, then I realised the piano was a bit lame, so I started playing the drums. Me and my friends formed a band called The Fetals, which I guess is like The Beatles, but with fetuses, we were like a really crappy punk nu-metal group, we were just like stupid thirteen year old kids and that was that. Then I realised keyboards were actually quite cool so I started playing them again and then Alestorm happened, but back then it was called Battleheart, and a bunch of friends said “Hey, do you want to start a pirate metal band?” and I was like “Sure”, so then I wrote a song and it happened to be about pirates. It was never a conscious decision being a pirate band, so I wrote a song about pirates and then suddenly we thought it was cool and then I wrote another song about pirates, and the whole thing just spiralled out of control!
When did you realise that Alestorm would be a career lasting band? We started playing a couple of shows in 2006, and I was like “yeah whatever” we were just a band doing some local stuff, that’s cool, and then Napalm Records approached us and we were like “sure let’s be a band”, and then I think it was actually our first ever gig as a signed band, it was supporting Turisas in England in 2008, we were just the opening band and people were going crazy for us, like I think we sold out of merch on the first day, and everyone was getting their stuff and we were like “what the hell is going on”, because we sucked, we were really not a very good band back then, the whole thing was just thrust upon us. Then we started to realise that we were on to something, and then just over that year, it got crazier and crazier. I never really took the time to think “what the hell is happening here”, it’s just insane.
You recently headlined at Hammerfest in Wales, how was it? That’s a great little festival, because you get to spend all day in a chalet or almost like little trailer trash kind of thing up in the hill. It’s not much like anything else in the world, so it’s something fun to do, and of course headlining is always cool. It’s an honour being the top billed band.
What can we expect from your fifth and new album, ‘No Grave But The Sea’? I guess we have sort of condensed our song writing to what makes it good, what makes Alestorm be good, because in the past we have had a lot of sections and riffs in songs that were sort of crappy silly in joke bits with weird things. So we cut that all out and just stuck to what makes Alestorm great. I wouldn’t say the songs are shorter, but more focused. It’s still all about choruses and big stupid singalongs and pirate melodies, and songs about drinking. Basically it’s an album to be played live, that’s the main thing. It’s fun and it’s catchy.
What was the writing and recording process like for the album? Well we started writing it last February when we were on tour with Sabaton in the UK. We thought we should probably get writing an album, so we started coming up with ideas and building songs. Everything we do, we do all remotely, we don’t ever get together and jam or anything like that. It’s a much less romantic thing, where I just sit at the computer and type stuff into the music software and eventually a song pops out at the end, and yeah this was actually the first time we recorded demos for the entire album, usually we go into a studio but everything is in notation, so we have never actually played it, so we go into a studio and go “wait a second, it sucks” or it’s unplayable, but this time we made demos so that really helped. After that when everything was done and dusted we sat on it for a couple of months, and then for a change went to Florida to record it, because why not. Usually we record somewhere in northern Germany, and it’s not really the nicest place in the world to be in January, as you can probably imagine. We flew our producer and the whole band out to a studio in Orlando with palm trees and swimming pools and all this ridiculous stuff and I was like “Yes!”, so we had a great time recording this album. It all went smoothly and swiftly as our songs aren’t difficult to play, so a couple of days per person recording an instrument, and then our producer went back home and he got some of his friends to play violins and trumpets, trombones, all this epic sounding stuff, he got them to record all these parts for it, and it just became wonderful, magical nonsense. We are all very happy with it, I think it’s the best produced album so far. We are getting better as musicians and our producer is also getting better at making the sound so it’s really big.
2017 is a busy year with you guys hitting lots of festivals, including playing the Vans US Warped tour and Download UK for the first time, how does this make you feel and what can attending fans expect from your sets? Well Download is going to be great as like you say we have never been there. We did Bloodstock in 2008 and they have not invited us back since, as far as other major festivals we did Sonisphere once, but that festival has gone now but now we are finally doing Download so it’s good. The UK is nice to us, it’s nice to play big shows there. The Warped tour is going to be great, because that’s like forty shows all over America, it involves a bunch of pop punk bands and emo bands, it’s not metal at all, maybe like three metal bands in the whole thing, so it’s so exciting and apparently the average age of attendees is seventeen years old, so that’s going to be fun and different for us to do. I’ll be honest, I was a bit disappointed I was hoping it was going to be loads of super pop punk, but they have made it a little bit more heavy this year, it’s a shame, I was hoping to be like the weird odd one out amongst some angsty pop punk bands.
Is there going to be a full UK tour this year also? The UK might have to wait until early next year, as the UK was like the last place we toured with Sabaton last year and it was a lot of big shows, so we don’t want to come back too soon. We need to play some mainland Europe, for some reason we haven’t played Germany in years, even though Germany is probably the biggest market for the nonsense we create, so they are going to be the first on the radar for Europe, a big tour in the fall sometime, and then the UK will happen, maybe the pirate fest thing again, that would be fun, it’s going to be big!
Are you looking forward to playing some new material and what songs do you enjoy playing the most and why? Yeah we are worried because our next show is Download Festival, which is the first show after the album comes out and we have been playing one song live which is ‘Mexico’ since last October, but the plan is to break out a couple more for Download, probably like three new songs total. Except we have never rehearsed them or practiced them and we are going to be playing them in front of thirty thousand people, so that’s a bit terrifying. We are actually going to have a rehearsal, hopefully the day before as we haven’t rehearsed since 2011, that’s the last time we rented a practice room and just jammed for a few hours. We don’t rehearse, but I think we are going to have to for this one. So yeah probably like three new songs, and then as the summer progresses and the big tour at the end I was talking about we will probably do a couple more, because they are all great songs. I just hope people like them. The songs I like playing are the ones like ‘Drink’, ‘Keelhauled’ and the ones where people just go crazy, the big cheap and simple crowd direction party songs, you get that amazing buzz and the whole crowd is singing back at you, that’s the best part.
What are some of your highlights personally and as a band since your formation? I mean it’s almost like the first time you get to go somewhere really crazy and then you realise someone’s paying you to be here, and it’s amazing. Back in 2009 the first time we went to America, 2010 we went to Australia for the first time and there’s people on the street screaming your name, going “Oh my god, it’s Alestorm!” and you’re like “What the hell?”, I have never been in this country it’s ten thousand miles away from home and you all know who we are, just always those things. When I was younger I never thought I would get to see half these countries, I thought maybe I would go to Florida once on vacation but instead we have spent our lives just going all over Australia, over America, Russia, Japan, we are going to go back to South America, we get to go to all these new places, and to me that’s the most amazing fun thing, just seeing the world.
What else can we expect from Alestorm this year? The album, big mad festivals, couple of tours and we were going to do a Christmas single, we actually recorded it in the studio but it’s so incredibly vulgar, it’s disgusting. Basically it’s a graphic description of all the band having a horrendous man on man orgy, it’s vile. We get these people to play brass on our album and they refused to play on this song because it’s so disgusting. It’s not going to come out, we decided it’s probably for the best, genuinely it would reflect badly on the band, I could probably see us getting banned from places. Maybe we could re-work the lyrics and sanitise it a bit, if it’s censored it would just be like “beep beep”.
Interview with John
What made you want to release 'Bad Behavior' first, and can you tell us a bit about the meaning behind the track? That tune seemed like the smoothest transition from ‘American Candy’ to the new one. Never want to scare folks off, so ‘Bad Behavior’ felt like the best introduction to ‘Lovely Little Lonely’. The song itself is about finding trouble. The middle of the moment is a dangerous place to be sometimes.
How did you get to the album title 'Lovely Little Lonely', and what does it mean to you? I’d had the title sitting around for some time and figured that if it stuck around long enough and I still enjoyed it I’d run with it. To me it represents a certain peace found in solitude. Lonely doesn’t always have to be synonymous with depressed, there can be comfort within isolation as well.
Can you elaborate on some of the other main themes and influences that run throughout 'Lovely Little Lonely’? I really wanted to focus on a sonic theme throughout this record. We focused heavily on dissonance this go around, and with the help of Colby Wedgeworth we attempted to create audible tension throughout the entire thing. Weightless and uneasy is what we were aiming for.
What was the hardest part about putting 'Lovely Little Lonely' together for you, and why? Lyrically this was the most difficult record I’ve written for. I admittedly waited too long to pen any words because I was so focused on melody. To me, it’s important to find that rub in anything you do creatively because that’s how you arrive at some place new. Doing five records before this, it would have been easy to run through the motions, but that’s not where we’re at in our heads thankfully.
You guys had an online web series following the studio process for this album, so how did this idea come about, and how rewarding was this whole process for you? It’s radical having things documented for perspective’s sake. We really wanted to allow people to view the process in a different light this time. We’ve developed a great relationship with Lupe Bustos who has been filming and taking all the photos for us, so it’s really easy to be comfortable in letting our guard down in front of him. The big thing is, we’re having more fun now than we ever have before and we want people to feel like they’re responsible for this whole thing.
How did the almost live music video for 'Bad Behavior' come together, and can you tell us a bit about what it means to you? We threw a festival called the 8123 Fest to celebrate ten years of being a band and I thought it would be the perfect event to capture on film and put to our new tune. We wanted to show people what our world looks like, with friends and family and all the familiar faces we’ve met along the way.
How did the front cover for 'Lovely Little Lonely' come together, and can you tell us a bit about what it means to you? Dirk Mai shot it in my backyard. I had a vision of what I wanted that looked nothing like what we ended up putting out, but that is what makes me love shooting the covers via photography. Aside from the first record, we’ve only done photos with Dirk. I love having someone else’s creative mind involved in representing the face of the music.
At the start of the year you hosted your very own music festival! So can you tell us a bit about how that came together, as well as what that whole experience was like for you? We’d been wanting to throw something like 8123 Fest for a while and felt like us celebrating ten years as a band was a good enough excuse to run with. Our manager Tim really took the lead with the whole thing, as he does for a lot of what we do as a band. We got to hang and perform with so many old friends that we’ve known for even longer than we’ve been a band which made it very special. We’ll do it again, I’m certain.
What songs are you still really enjoying performing live from 'American Candy' at the moment, and why? ‘Diet Soda’ has been a ripper. People really have been vibing that tune, and we feed off of all that energy. ‘English Girls’ has still been a lot of fun too.
How does touring in the UK compare to anywhere else in the world? It rains a lot, but we always enjoy ourselves thoroughly when we get to visit the UK. People dig music everywhere, man.
What else can we expect to see from The Maine in 2017? Hopefully you can expect to see a lot of us. We plan on doing a lot of touring on this record because of how hyped we all are on it. And, for a limited time, if you come to a show I’ll give you $20.
Interview with Mike
How is your current tour going with Anthrax and Killswitch Engage, and can you give us a couple of personal highlights from your time on the road so far? I love support tour roles, so when this opportunity popped up, we were very excited. Very happy to be a part of the tour.
Looking back on 'Transit Blues', how happy have you been with the response to the album so far, and what do you think it has done for the representation of The Devil Wears Prada? After the release some months ago, we’re still pleased with the response and how the album reflects the band. We still sense growth and look forward to making more songs, however ‘Transit Blues’ is most certainly the best representation of our band at this moment.
What songs are you still really enjoying performing live from 'Transit Blues' at the moment, and why? ‘To the Key of Evergreen’ is a favorite for us across the board. The song reaches a number of different dynamics, unlike a lot of our previous material. I’m proud of the story and the narrative and it’s also a song I get to play guitar within, which is always a plus for me personally.
How did the music video for 'To The Key Of Evergreen' come together, and can you tell us a bit about what it means to you? Maria Juranic directed the video, who’s done two videos for us previously. I think the world of her talent and knew automatically she was the right candidate for that song in particular. I knew she’d be able to integrate the organic sort of warmth I had intended.
The song 'Lock & Load' focuses on the important subject of gun violence. So what was this track like to put together, and how would say it this kind of violence has changed over the last couple of years? Things haven’t changed, to be forthright. There is still no reform and with the party presently in office, I don’t see any change coming about within the next four years. Putting it together felt as honest as possible: this is an issue that stands in the forefront of the band’s political climate.
How excited are you for your upcoming slot at Download Festival, and what can attending fans expect? We’ve been coming to the UK for about nine years now, so I think the audience knows our band and what our performances are like. All the same we’re excited to be back overseas and playing Download once again, this will be our third time. Participating in something so huge is pretty cool.
What do you remember the most from your first tour in the UK? We were doing tiny, tiny shows with A Day to Remember, which is bizarre seeing how huge those dudes are now.
How would you say touring in the UK compares to anywhere else in the world? Being American, it’s pretty comfortable due to the language; but it’s still a departure, which is something we appreciate. We didn’t spend as much time overseas within recent years as we’d like to, so now we’re really focusing on establishing our footprint outside the States.
It's been ten years since the release of 'Plagues'! What do you remember the most about putting this record together, and how would you say it compares to anything else you've done? Yeah it’s a nostalgic record for a number of our fans, although it isn’t something we showcase. We’ve had dozens of requests for a ten year tour, and to be honest that’s just not something we’re interested in. It isn’t to disrespect fans, but the means of catharsis as an artist directly contradicts a record we made with half of the present members, ten years ago. We were different people. I’m proud to know I was still as honest then as I am now, but we’d rather focus on the present.
Also, how did you originally end up working with Joey Sturgis, and how would you say he helped shape the earlier sound of The Devil Wears Prada? Joey Sturgis created a world out of the sound we concocted years ago. He was playing in a mosh band in Indiana that happened to be playing shows with Prada. He introduced himself and said he’d like to record us, which is exactly what we needed. Things came together quite naturally I’d say.
It's still early days, but if you have guys started on any new material just yet, then what can fans expect from it? We’ve got plans to be writing again later this year. Another sort of offhanded project that I think fans will like as much as we’ll like creating it.
Interview with James
Can you tell us a bit about why you guys decided to break up in 2007? I think we got to a point during the last album cycle where we realized things weren’t getting any easier for us. We had been at it touring for about a decade. Grinding it out on the road. You get to a certain point in your life when you hit “the wall” when it comes to touring and I think a couple of us were at that point. The self titled album didn’t quite materialize the way we had hoped and after just a few short months, we were dropped from Epic/Sony. We kind of found ourselves in no man’s land. Rather than try to regroup and find a new label or work on new material, we felt it would be best to lay it to rest. The timing just felt right to us.
What did you all get up to in that time? We all had a hand in new bands to some extent. Keith and Trevor were doing NEVER ENOUGH which was this really awesome industrial rock band with an 80s feel to it. After that, Keith had MONUMENT TO THIEVES. Trevor was out with Combichrist and Imperative Reaction for a while and started his own band that he went on to front called THE WITCH WAS RIGHT. Ken started working behind the scenes a ton. First doing tech work and then working his way up to sound engineer. He was always super talented on that end. Mick was also out doing tech work for a bit, but didn’t stay the course. As soon as 18V split up, I started working on what would later become BURN HALO. I did that up until the end of 2015. Made three albums and did quite a bit of touring.
So, when did you first realize that it was time for Eighteen Visions to come back? We started talking about it back in 2012. Keith had written a handful of songs and I ended up writing and tracking vocals to one of them. Everyone was on board, but then Mick ended up passing away so things just got put on the shelf. We started talking about it again a couple of years later. I think we were more interested in the writing/recording side of things than we were the live/touring aspect of the band. We had brought up writing some new music with Ken, but he was out on the road and his workload was just getting greater and greater. At that point, we just felt it wouldn’t be right if Ken were not involved.
What was it like, just stepping back in a room together with everyone for the first time in a while, to start putting 'XVIII' together? This all happened in the most innocent and organic way possible. I was driving to work one day in September when Keith sent me a text asking about recording gear and that he wanted to finish some of the songs he had written a few years back. I was super excited because I hadn’t written any music in a couple of years. We briefly discussed what the platform would be, but sort of left it alone. I think we demoed a handful of songs and I brought up the whole 18V thing. Before reaching out to Ken and Trevor, we had established what we wanted and didn’t want if we were to resurrect 18V. Trevor was on board right away, but unfortunately Ken wouldn’t be able to commit. Considering where he’s at in his career and his obligations to it, we totally understood. We decided to continue working on new music, but at that point, I was under the assumption it would just be a new band with 18V members. As we started cranking out some of these songs in the studio, it started to feel more and more like an 18V thing. We had the conversation one night about playing live shows and if we were to play, would we want to do 18V songs. Considering that there were three of us from 18V, we felt like it would be cool to go that route. After coming to that realization and the sound of the songs, if we called it anything other than EIGHTEEN VISIONS we would only be fooling ourselves.
What made you want to release 'Oath' first, and can you tell us about the meaning behind the track? We wanted to lead with something short and sweet, but super aggressive. I know the progression of 18V took the band to more melodic places, but writing this album, the goal was to just have fun. Writing and playing heavy music has always been fun. We wanted to come back with something that made a statement. Something that people might not have been expecting. Lyrically I wanted to create a Straight Edge anthem. A song that spoke of our integrity and commitment to values that we had ten years ago before the break up that we still keep today.
'Live Again' is a tribute to your very own Mick Morris. If you can, can you tell us a bit about what this very personal song was like to put together? Keith had mentioned that he wanted to contribute lyrically to the album after we’d been working on the first batch of songs. I loved the idea because I thought it would bring a different feel lyrically and melodically to what I would end up singing. He had the majority of the song written and arranged. His side of it was much more focused on the time we spent in the band together with Mick. I chose to focus my direction on what things were like after 18V. It’s definitely a sad story, but as we’ve come to know, the music/entertainment industry isn’t immune to loss and death.
How did you end up working with Mick Kenney, and how would you say he helped shape 'XVIII'? Mick has been a close friend of Trevor’s for a while and worked on THE WITCH WAS RIGHT stuff with him. To be honest, when we first started working with him, I thought we were just trying to put together some really great demos. It all ended up sounding incredible from the get go. All of the material we brought to the table was pretty much production ready. I’d say his biggest contributions outside of helping us recreate and capture our sound was how easy he made this process for us. Because we all have careers at home, spending full days and weeks in the studio just wouldn’t work for us. We would go in a few nights a week after we were getting off work and we were really able to take our time making this album. We never wanted things to feel rushed and we were really able to dig in deep with Mick. Re-tracking or re-mixing when need be. I know we would not have had this luxury with anyone else.
What else can we expect to see from Eighteen Visions in 2017? We’d love to get out and play some live shows. We started this back up with zero expectations so we don’t really know what to expect. I think the hope is that there is some sort of demand for us and our music. That we might get to go back to some cities and countries that we used to covet.
Interview with Stix
Can you tell us about how Steel Panther originally got together? We were all playing in different bands in Hollywood and realized that if we joined forces, we would be able to get more women than Motley Crue and Ratt combined.
How did you get to the band name Steel Panther, and what does it mean to you? Steel and Panther are the coolest 2 words that you can say together and it means heavy metal.
When did you realize that Steel Panther was going to be a career lasting band? Day 1
So, how did your recent UK arena tour go, and can you give us a couple of personal highlights from your time on the road? It was excellent as always. I can't give you highlights because I can't remember much. We were pretty hammered. But we were told it was smashing.
How does touring the UK compare to anywhere else in the world? Well, the U.K. is like a second home to us. We love it because you were the first country outside the US to embrace us.
So, how did you get to the album title 'Lower The Bar' and what does it mean to you? It's a way of life. The less you expect, the more you get!!!
How did you end up working with Jay Ruston, and what was he like to work with? We have been tight with Jay for years. He's a total pro. He loves beach volleyball and sometimes he likes to mix medium and hot salsa in order to form a kind of medium-hot blend.
How did you end up working with Robin Zander on your 'She's Tight' cover, and what was he like to work with? Robin was great. We all love Cheap Trick and it was a cool thing to get to do. Robin also seemed to really like Jay's salsa blend.
How would you say the sound of Steel Panther has grown/changed over the last couple of years? I think we have been and always will be a heavy metal band. Obviously if your sound doesn't change, people will say you are boring so we opt for being consistently bitchin.
Which music video has been the most exciting for you to work on, and why? There was a full porn version of â€˜Just Like Tiger Woodsâ€™ that we shot. That was really the most fun video to make. It has yet to be released.
How excited are you for your upcoming performance at Download Festival, and what can attending fans expect? I'm very excited. Download is a monster festival. Fans can expect to get rocked so hard that they crap their pants.
Interview with Brandon
What has it been like for Andy Leo to take on lead vocals so far, and how has the creative process changed/progressed in the band since the departure of David Escamilla? I’ve never been so proud of him honestly. To go from singing a portion of the vocals to singing and screaming everything was a huge step. Not only has he gotten better as a frontman but he’s developing this whole new persona I haven’t seen from him before. We’re all very stoked for the future. The creative process is finally back to what it used to be like and we’re all able to sit down and talk about what really matters to us, which is the music. No more bullshit drama.
Also, with the line up change, then musically, where do you think the sound of Crown the Empire will go next? We just recently started talking about what we’re going to do next. I can’t say anything official yet but we’ve been bouncing back tons of concepts and ideas. More news to come on that at some point this year!
Looking back on 'Retrograde', how happy are you with this album still, and what do you think it has done for the representation of Crown The Empire? ‘Retrograde’ is something we’re very proud of. We were able to do exactly what we wanted and not give in to what anyone wanted us to do. It was cool to experiment with a new sound that the fans hadn’t heard before. Every album seems to have its own identity and I think it’ll always be like that.
What songs are you still really enjoying performing live from 'Retrograde' at the moment, and why? I still love ‘Zero’ and ‘Hologram’ a ton! Those were the first two singles we released and they really hit home with the fans. A couple of songs we’ve recently added to the headliner set, ‘Aftermath’ and ‘Are You Coming With Me’, are some of our favorites to play live as well. But we haven’t just been playing new songs live we’ve been mixing songs from our whole catalog and it’s worked out very well.
How did the music video for 'Hologram' come together, and can you tell us a bit about what it means to you? The concept of ‘Retrograde’ visually was influenced by the Stanley Kubrick film 2001: A Space Odyssey. The song’s about us being away from home for most of our life and realizing how much we change while we’re gone. But when we get back home, nobody has changed. Everybody is exactly the same as when we left and it’s a weird feeling.
How excited are you for your upcoming slot at Download Festival, and what can attending fans expect? We’re so stoked about this festival! The last time we played none of our in ears worked. Mine BARELY worked so I sat behind Taddie and tapped his shoulder to give him a tempo while I played guitar…it was a wreck hahah this year we will have our full crew out there with us so everything will go smoothly. Fans…prepare for a full energy Crown show.
How does touring in the UK compare to anywhere else in the world? There’s a nostalgic feeling when you’re touring the UK. It’s the birthplace of some of the biggest bands in rock n roll. The weather, the fans, the food, it’s very different from the U.S. But we’ve been over there so many times now it almost feels like a second home. Can’t wait to cross the pond soon!
Also, what do you remember the most from your first ever tour in the UK? I remember Tree wasn’t able to make it out with us while we were on tour with Pierce The Veil so we had to back track all the bass. We were lousy, it was our like 3rd tour ever but the Pierce dudes were awesome and there was a dope band opening that tour called The Getaway Plan who were cool dudes. We were also crammed in this small van and all of us got sick after like the 2nd day!
What do you like to do with your down time when you're on the road? We’re stoners so we’ll just get super stoned and write music, read books, watch movies, play videos games. When you’re on a bus with 11 dudes it’s kind of hard to do anything but be kids!
What else can we expect to see from Crown The Empire in 2017? We’re about to head out to the UK and Europe in June I believe! More touring in the US and around the world this year, writing, developing a new sound and growing as people. Can’t thank the fans enough for sticking with us through all the bullshit. You guys are the best. See you guys soon!
It's nearly been ten years since the release of 'A Flair for the Dramatic', looking back on this album, what do you remember the most about putting it together, and how would you say it compares to anything else you've done? At that time, we didn't even have the full lineup of the band yet. That first one was written and recorded by just my brother Mike and I. We lived in an RV in front of the producer's house and watched Entourage every Sunday together. I loved living in Seattle and walking around the streets at night working on lyrics. The lyrics are what set that album apart from our other albums to me. My head was all messed up from a girl who disappeared on me, literally. One day I thought I had a girlfriend and the next she was gone. No phone calls, no nothing. If I hadn't heard years later that someone saw her, I would have assumed she had died or something.
What was it like to work with Vic Fuentes & Casey Bates at the time, and how would you say they helped shape the album? I don't think Casey ever understood, or will ever understand how much he meant to me and our band. I would tell him that he made my dreams come true with that album and he would just laugh it off. He was the perfect fit for that album and I wouldn't change a thing about it. He's a very organic producer, and we're an organic band.
Interview with Vic
So, looking back on 'Misadventures', how happy have you been with the response to the album so far, and what do you think it has done for the representation of Pierce The Veil? It's been like a vacation for me touring on this album. I worked so damn hard on it, and took myself so close to the edge, that playing the songs is like therapy now. I'm just happy to be on the road with the fans everyday.
What songs are you still really enjoying performing live from 'Misadventures'? I like playing ‘Floral & Fading’ because it's the first love song I've ever written for a girl that I'm in a relationship with. It feels like I'm fighting for her every time I sing it.
Have you guys started work on any new material just yet, if so, what do you think fans can expect from it? I actually just started accumulating some new recording gear and can't wait to test it out on some new songs.
You guys have had the same lineup since the early days, so what does it take to keep things fresh, and just stay on good terms with each other for over ten years? You can easily compare a band to being in a relationship. You have to learn to understand each other over time if you want to survive. You’ve got to learn what each person likes and dislikes, and also respect them for their differences.
What do you like to do with your down time when you're on the road? I enjoy exploring cities and walking around listening to new albums and getting inspired by new surroundings. I don't get a lot of “me time” since I'm always surrounded by people on tour and at home I live with my girl, so it's nice for me to just start walking in any direction.
How did the music video for 'Floar & Fading' come together, and can you tell us a bit about what it means to you? The idea was called â€œthe invention of the mosh pit.â€? My best friend and I came up with it together. We thought it'd be fun to witness the exact moment when moshing at a show became a real thing. Then, we decided to take it even further and watch the invention of all sorts of iconic, rock show symbolism. Shining lighters in the air, smashing instruments, crowd surfing. It's as if it all happened in one night at a bowling alley.
How excited are you for your upcoming slot at Download Festival, and what can attending fans expect? I can't believe it! Download holds a special place in my heart, reserved for bands like Slipknot and Rage Against The Machine. So, I am very honored to be a part of it. I'm already feeling the energy. I want to leave everything we have on that big stage.
How does touring in the UK compare to anywhere else in the world? I think the UK has more musical tradition and rites of passage than anywhere else in the world. As a new band, you have to work your way up, just like all the other bands before you had to do. You play this place, then you play this place, and you graduate to this bigger place. As a member of a band who started out playing the very smallest clubs in the U.K., to now playing the main stage at Download, I think I have seen every step of the way. I love looking back and seeing the steps it took to get us here.
What else can we expect to see from Pierce The Veil in 2017? We're going to continue to push our live show to new heights for our fans to experience. We're currently working on a style of production that we've never done, and it's been a challenge. But we want every tour to be different and special, so we need to keep changing and trying new things. Besides that, we'll be writing new tunes on the bus and during breaks at home.
When did you first realize that you were going to be a career lasting band? Looking back itâ€™s awfully hard to say exactly when we realized we'd be a "career lasting" band but I'd imagine it was probably not all that long ago. Surely we had aspirations and seemingly far fetched goals of putting out 10 albums and things like that but to pin point a moment when I sat back and said "Wow, we are a career band" is tough. Maybe right now! When you said that. That's when I realized we are a career band! Thanks!
Looking back on 'The Color Before the Sun', how happy have you been with the response to the album so far, and what do you think it has done for the representation of Coheed and Cambria? TCBTS was certainly off the beaten path for us. And the beaten path was already 2 miles wide for Coheed. But to its credit, I believe TCBTS has staked its claim as it's very own thing and for a band to accomplish that on its 8th album is pretty special in my eyes. The reception has been awe inspiring. Coheed fans willingness to journey with us into uncharted territory is part of what makes this band/community so special.
You'll be performing 'Good Apollo, I'm Burning Star IV' in its entirety in London in June. So how did this idea come about, and can you tell us a bit about what fans can expect from the show? Long before the trend of playing a specific albums in its entirety was the rage Coheed was doing this. It's a concert series known as Neverender. It's something unique to the Coheed experience and something we take great pride in. The GA1 Neverender continues what we consider to be a perpetual rise. They keep getting better.
Interview with Josh
What has it been like to rehearse for that album then, have there been any tracks that have been rewarding for you to re-visit? The whole thing is like a time capsule if you will. To venture back to that head space is an extremely reflective and powerful experience. Some of those songs haven't been played in years! It was very special.
What was it like to work with Michael Birnbaum & Chris Bittner, and how would you say they helped shape the album? Working with any producer brings its own unique things to the table. Working with Mike and Chris for GA1 was really a dream come true. We had all made the first 2 albums together and this was the culmination of a lot of work, a lot of dreaming, a lot of ambition.... all that stuff. Ya know, there was pressure for us to go with a big name producer in certain ways but we finally had an actual budget and time and other luxuries not afforded to many bands and we took full advantage of that. Full string sections etc... it was amazing. GA1 is in my opinion a crowning achievement for Mike and Chris and I'm glad we shared that together.
How excited are you for your upcoming performance at Download Festival, and what can attending fans expect? We are very excited to play Download! Anytime we have a chance to travel abroad and play with so many great bands we are very excited. We can't wait!
What do you remember the most about the first time you ever toured in the UK? I remember sharing a van with From Autumn To Ashes and feeling very far from home. It was a trip. I couldn't believe we were there. Then I got mono and felt like I was going to die. Needless to say the trips have gotten better since then haha!
Interview with Brandon
Can you tell us how Incubus originally got together? Yeah, I grew up with Jose and Mike. I met Jose when I was in elementary school, we went to school together, all the way through high school and junior college, and we met Michael in middle school. We started our band when we were in tenth grade, we were fifteen years old. We started to mess around with music together, by playing other people’s songs that we could figure out. It was me just mostly trying to yell over loud drums and guitar, as we didn’t have a PA of any kind. Then Michael and I were in a literature class together in tenth grade, and our teacher assigned the class a project and we were allowed to partner up with somebody. The assignment was to compose an original poem or song, and perform it for the class, or make a video of it if you didn’t want to perform it in front of the class. So we named our band, recorded a couple of songs and played them for the class, so that’s kind of how our band was born. Then people just started to ask us to play in their back yards after that.
What was it like to be an upcoming band in Calabasas? It was fun and it was exciting for all the reasons that being in a band are. One of the most fun parts of it, was that we had no idea what we were doing. We were just imitating the bands that we loved and were obsessed with around that time. But it was interesting, because very quickly, on the heels of us starting this band, some of the other more established bands at our high school and surrounding high school hated us! They wanted to destroy us, and none of us could really get our heads around it. Like “why can’t we just play together?” They would start rumours, and things like that. Maybe they felt threatened, I don’t know, but they hated us. That was a long time ago, we forgive them.
How did the unique sound of Incubus originally come together? It was kind of a mixture of a couple of things. Like I said before, the fun thing about it was that we had no idea what we were doing. But we had a handle enough on our perspective instruments, and just enough ignorance about how things were supposed to work. We were unafraid to try, so that lead itself to a hotchpotch sound or a mildly confused approach. A lot of really cool things have happened because of a lack of know how, but what we lacked in music education we made up for in our enthusiasm for music. So mix that with a healthy obsession of Mr. Bungle, Primus, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Rage Against The Machine, Pearl Jam, Soundgarden, Nirvana. All of these bands that were emerging in the music scene at the time. We were going to see these bands play, buying their records. You put all of this together with maybe a dash of natural talent in there, and you get these sounds that we are now honing in on today. We are finally getting the hang of it 26 years later.
When did you first realize that you were going to be a career lasting band? You know, that revelation comes and goes. Sometimes I wake up and think “oh my gosh, we have like a real career, we are real musicians, and we’ve sold a bunch of records” A lot of people around the world know our music, and some of them even like it. Then there also days when I wake up and I’m sort of like “God, when are we going to figure out how to be a real band.” There is a feeling among many artists in all walks of life that I have talked to that any minute now they’re going to get figured out, people are going to realize that they’re a fraud. The whole thing is going to be stolen away from them and they’re going to have to go back to school and learn a real trade.
What made you want to release 'Nimble Bastard' first, and can you tell us about the meaning behind it? I’m definitely obsessed with so many parts of the song writing process, the recording, the presentation, and so many aspects of making music, that I’m just lovingly obsessed with. It’s a place where I allow some of my obsessive tendencies to really flower. One of the only places that I relinquish the reigns of quasi control is when it comes to choosing singles. I like to defer to “experts” in these apartments. The other guys in the band, and in our record label all felt really strongly that ‘Nimble Bastard’ was a really good representation of where this band is right now. They felt like it was reminiscent of other glorious parts of our career. They felt like people would really respond to it, as a way of re-introducing the band to the world. I was happy to oblige, I was like “cool, sure!” that’s as far as choosing singles comes into my head! As far as the story/content of the song goes. I have had a number of experiences in my life where I have been kicked to the curb, and I have been about as low as a person could be. Emotionally and physiologically I have been at deaths door a couple of times. There have been moments where I have really felt like completely giving up. You know like the scene in a movie where our heroes are on their journey and one stubs his toe, and he’s like “you got to leave me here man, go on without me.” I have definitely had those moments here and there, but in amongst those moments I have encountered people who have been even lower than I have ever been. They kind of cry a little bit, get up, then just walk it off, and keep pressing forward. I’ve always admired that capacity to adapt. To have an eternal optimism even in the face of some overwhelming circumstances. So essentially with the lyircs I am in praise of this person, the idea of this person. I am kind of asking them to show me like “how do you do that, how could you possibly smell roses?”
The song came together late in the process right? Yeah it was definitely late in the process. I don’t know if a casual listener will be able to tell, but there are songs throughout our career where they just kind of spill out of us at the 11th hour. So with ‘Nimble Bastard’ for example we had written/recorded most of the album, and we were just kind of jamming one day in the studio, Mikey started playing that percussive atonal riff that you hear at the beginning. The guys then really quickly jumped on it, and started playing with it. I responded with enthusiasm and then we all kind of put the music for the song together really quickly, in the span of like a day. I took a simple demo of it home to my house, then that night, the lyrics kind of really spilled out of me. So I brought it in the next day, showed it to the guys, and recorded the vocals kind of as you hear them now. Nobody had any criticism or critique which is very rare, it was just one of those things where it just happened, and everyone was like “cool, awesome, this is good, next!” So yeah, there wasn’t a lot of thought that went into it, which like I said is very rare for us, as there’s normally a full on panel of critique! “I think this could be better, etc.”
When it comes to the lyrics, you were dealing with a breakup yourself. So if you can, can you tell us about what we can expect from the lyrics on this record? Yeah, I struggle to call it a breakup, even though for all intensive purposes that is exactly what it was. I was in a very long, wonderful relationship with my best friend in the world. Her and I, we spent the better part of ten years together. Our breakup was a little bit more of an unfolding. It was graceful, if I can be so bold to say. All that being said, it doesn’t mean it wasn’t extremely challenging. It was maybe even more challenging than any other relationship I’ve been in in my life. Because, we were consciously trying to make it graceful because of how much we love each other. She is still my very best friend in the world. But with that comes all sorts of complications. New people start coming into your life, and then you start making old mistakes again with new people, and new mistakes with old people. All of these things inevitably become fodder for lyrics, and my way of processing my eternal life has always been to write it down. So on this album, in certain moments we are getting little snippets of some of my misadventures, my unfolding of this relationship, and the days of new relationships.
So how did you end up working with Dave Sardy, and how would you say he helped shape the album? I’ve known Dave for a really long time. For the better part of ten years I think. This was the first time that we have really worked with him professionally speaking. It was really interesting because he came to us initially, when we first agreed to work with him, and we started really talking about what this album needed to be. We were sort of philosophising about what the record needed to be, which is kind of rare for us. Normally we just go in and throw paint at a canvas, and then organise it from there. We definitely did that on this record, but there was a philosophy going into it coming from Dave’s producer stand point. He said to us “I hold Incubus in an unusually high regard, I’m a fan of what you guys do. I’m not going to let you make a record that doesn’t get past the fan in me” and so we were all like “rad, what a cool thing to say man, that sounds great!” I do believe we accomplished that, but oh my god it was actually really challenging. Dave evidently, was some kind of a super fan who was incredibly critical of everything that we did, and brought into the studio. Even more so than anything, he was hyper critical with the lyrics, the melodies, and the delivery on my part. So he really did not hold back on me, when it came to constructively criticising everything that I was doing. Down to the way I was singing, to the rhythm of my vibrato, everything. He made me sing everything dozens of times, like over and over and over again. There were moments when I would like nail it, and I’d be like “yeah man, I got that one,” and then he’d be like “okay, give me ten more like that!” There were truly moments where if I had a blowtorch I would of set the studio on fire. It was really, really challenging, but all that being said, it was actually really fun too. I’m all in at this point, I’m definitely committed. I’m not really a quitter type, even if I’m frustrated, tired, overworked, I’ll still hang in there. So I hung in there past moments where normally I’d be like “I’m done”. I’m so happy that I did because I felt like Dave helped me unearth different levels of what I know how to do. It was a really good experience.
He is a massive fan of the band. So what's that like, to have that kind of input from a producer, who is maybe more a longtime fan of the band, instead of just being there to record what you create? Yeah, his magnifying glass was like cartoon big. He came up with like a microscope on this record. Zoomed in and got into the sort of cellular level of how we construct a song. He never told anybody what to do. He never told me how to sing, he is just an incredible problem identifier. Even down to the most minute level, he would not be afraid to point a very clear finger at a place where something could be better. “This moment right here is losing me, I need you to focus on that.” Then we would spend days and days on an entire song. Build up a song to the point where most people would feel like it was finished. He would bring us into the studio, we’d listen back, and he’d be like “hey everybody, what’s your favourite part of the song.” There’s a song called ‘Undefeated’ on the record, and in the bridge of the song, there’s a hard left turn and the rhythm changes, and there’s this really neat moment at the beginning of the bridge. That was a completely different song, it was an entire song with the lyrics, and a melody. We were listening to it, and everybody agreed that the bridge part was their favourite, and he was like “mine too, throw away the rest of the song, we are going to start off with the bridge, and we need the rest of the song to be as good as the bridge.” Stuff like that. So ‘Undefeated’ became a completely different song, we built it around the bridge itself. Frustrating, but incredibly brain tickling challenges for all of us, that we were very willing to partake in.
In-between this album and the last, you all worked on different things. For example Mike worked on the hit 'Wake Me Up', and you worked on a solo output called 'Sons of the Sea'. So how would you say this contributed to the creative process for '8'? Yeah, definitely. I think that anything any of us get into, regardless of what those things are, are going to inform a larger process. Even things that aren’t necessarily creatively recognisable are informing that. Everyone just having the opportunity to have a little bit of a shred of normality in their life, away from being on tour. Building a life individually informs a larger process with this band. Everything that we are reading, watching, listening to. They are all coming in. In Mike’s case he went off, put on his producer hat, wrote with other people. I’m sure that had a lot of informing values as to how he approached this record. Me, making a record, and writing with Brendan O'Brien. After working with him, he was our producer for almost ten years, so just working with him as a writing partner was an incredible experience, and extremely educational. So yeah, definitely.
There's a bit more of a heavier approach on '8', can you tell us about how you'd say you've grown/changed musically since the release of 'If Not Now, When?'? In so many ways. There’s a vast difference between the kind of emotional health of the band from the time period around ‘If Not Now, When?’ When we started writing that record we were collectively in the worst emotional state we had ever been in as a band. I think most of us were starting to wrap our head around the idea that we weren’t going to be making music together any more. Or if we did, then it was going to be a very long time. Just because things got very dark for a moment there. There are so many factors. I’m sure as anyone can attest to, the older we get, the more kind of finely tuned our understandings of not only ourselves but our relationships we become. As we grow up we are more apt to except some of the complexities and work with the complexities of our relationships, and our understandings of ourselves. As artists those understandings, and the willingness to be a part of some of those complexities kind of comes across in the music that we make. All that being said, we are in a really lovely place right now as a band. We feel like a family again, we are having a lot of fun, and you can hear that in the music that we are making.
In songs like 'Glitterbomb' & 'Undefeated' it sounds like you are really pushing what you can do as a vocalist, so what was that like for you, and how would you say your vocals on those tracks compare to anything you've done before? Yeah, those two songs in particular are really clear examples of how kind of far I was not only willing to be pushed by our producer, but also my willingness to be pushed, I guess you could say. I’ve always had a general ethos when coming into projects, and working with producers. We’ve only worked with a small handful of producers in our career. I’ve always said to all of them that “I want you to push me, I want to be a better singer.” I always want to be a better singer, and I always try to find new territories lyrically, but also in my performance. Sometimes that, on my best day, what I say to a producer comes back to bite me in the arse. Sometimes I feel like I’m at my very best, “I’m rocking right now”, and they’re like “yeah you’re not, you are going to have to do that again, remember you told me to tell you.” So yeah, those two songs in particular are perfect examples. But I’m so happy that I requested to be pushed.
Initially Skrillex was just brought in to work on the one track 'Familiar Faces', but he ended up working on the entire record. So how did this happen, and what do you think he brought to '8'? Initially he wasn’t going to do anything. He came in just as a friend. We just played him the record, and he actually honed in on ‘Familiar Faces’ on his own. Just casually asked if he could mess around with it in a remix capacity, at least that’s what I thought. It turned out so much better than we thought it would, in such a surprising way. He didn’t like pee all over the tree, he kind of just watered the tree! That’s a really strange visual, but he helped it along in a way that was subtle and profound at the same time. He went in on another track called ‘Loneliest’ and he ended up lending a co-producer element to it. He changed a couple of things in very simple ways. He made the song better. So we just kept trying more and more songs with him, and eventually two weeks had gone by and we’d gone through the entire record, and he ended up mixing the whole thing. It was a lot of fun. It was a very welcomed surprise. It was really cool, because a lot of us felt like the record was done, we all loved it, and we had been working on it for a year. Then at the eleventh hour Skrillex came in and showed us another layer. We loved it even more, it was really cool.
What can you tell us about The Boy on the Bridge? It’s not quite a prequel. It starts before Girl, and then it finishes after Girl. It’s mainly the voyage of the Rosalind Franklin. So the big harboured laboratory that they find, mobile laboratory, in the first book, in the middle of London. It’s about that journey, and that crew.
When did you first get into writing? It’s something that I’ve always done. At school creative writing was the thing that I enjoyed more than anything else. I would kind of smuggle it into whatever I was doing. I would be set an assignment that was meant to be analytical, and I’d do a short story instead of it, and then get told off by the teacher. So storytelling has always been in my life. I did it as a hobby for many many years before I ever did it for money. I guess it was mid to late 80s I started doing reviews and articles for magazines. Then I drifted into professional writing through that. I met people who were editing comics, and writing for comics, and then I started pitching things. But long before that in my late teens/early 20s I was writing novels, or at least writing things that were called novels. They weren’t really novels, they were more big shapeless bags of story, because I didn’t have a structure to anything. I’d write a chapter, go away, have a cup of tea, and then write another chapter. I never had the faintest sense of where I was going. It was only when I started writing for comics that I thought I had a grounding of what structure was, and how to pace a story. Because with a comic you have a very limited canvas, you’ve got to get to the end of the story before you run out of pages. You’ve got to pace yourself. Think really carefully, and make conscious decisions about structure.
What was your first major project, and what do you remember the most about this experience? The first thing that ever got published, or I theoretically got paid for (the cheque bounced!) was a comic called Toxic. It didn’t last very long, it was in 1990/1991 published by a company called Apocalypse Press which is basically just one guy. They were a rival/wanted to be a rival to 2000AD. So it was a weekly anthology comic published in the UK, and I got a story accepted for that. And it appeared in the last two issues before the company went bankrupt and the comic ceased to exist. My story was called Aquarius. It was absolutely ripped off from Watchmen. I just read Watchmen and thought “wow this is so good”.
How did the original idea for The Girl with All the Gifts come about? So what happened was I had been in correspondence with Charlaine Harris and Toni LP Kelner, and they’d invited me a couple of times to write for a themed anthology. Every year they were doing these anthologies with a very, very innocuous/innocent everyday topic. One year, the brief was Stanley holidays, another year it was home improvement. And the brief was to write a really dark fantasy or horror story, based around this theme. The year that I finally said yeah, I was free and I’d love to do it, the theme was school days. Having said that I would do it, I sat there for months staring at the wall coming up with nothing really, and then I just woke up one morning, I was in Norway for a comic convention called Raptus. I woke up in the hotel room with the idea of Melanie in my mind, the idea of a young girl writing an essay, sitting in a classroom writing an essay on the theme of “What I want to be when I grow up”. The essay that you write again and again during your school days, but the twist being that this little girl is a zombie. One of the undead, and is not going to grow up, that’s not an option. So that was the seed for the short story, and I wrote it in four days. It takes the story up until the point where the base falls. It ends with Melanie fighting back to back with Parks, while everybody else is evacuated. It was much more about Melanies relationship with Parks than anything else. After I had sent that in I just thought that actually I really enjoyed writing that character, and I really think there’s more to this world.
For you, how would you say it compares to anything else in that kind of world? The timing was good. We’re in second stage zombie now. Most of the early zombie narratives from Romero onwards. Obviously Romero condensed the zombie horde movie. Most of early narratives are built around the theme of a zombie apocalypse. They are telling that story, the story of the breakdown of civilization, the breakdown of order. People sort of finding their destiny against a world in chaos. Then you reach a certain point where the audience know that story, and you take it for granted, so you start doing other things with that sort of happening in the background. So I think The Girl With All The Gifts fitted itself into that moment. The moment when you could just assume certain themes would be instantly recognizable. I was very much riffing on Mary Shelley's Frankenstein. The idea of a monster who is also an innocent. We do a sort of one/two punch, because obviously you engage with Melanine as a child first, and then you find out that she’s a monster. She eats people!
What did you enjoy the most about putting the character Melanie together? Discovering that I could do it. That I could convincingly write a pre-teen girl. The other significant thing that was happening in my life at that time, was that I’d written two novels, which were collaborations with my wife Linda and our daughter Louise. ‘The City of Silk and Steel’ and ‘The House of War and Witness’. So I spent three years co-writing with two very strong willed woman, that had distinct and very vivid voices of their own. I came out of that sensitised to my own default choices, in a different and new way. It gave me the confidence to try Melanie, and to try writing for that character. I think she comes from there. You have to believe in her as a child, and you have to buy into her innocence. Then that impression has to stay with you through all of the horrors, and all of the things that you see her do. It even informs the decision that she makes at the end.
When did you find out they were going to turn it into a film? Ah well they didn’t, that’s not what happened. It’s weirder than that. So I wrote the short story, and then after I sent it in, and it had been well received, I kept thinking that I wanted to do more. I wanted to sort of keep on visiting and exploring this world. So I pitched it to my publishers. I said “This could be a novel.” And at the same time I pitched it to an independent producer, who I was just sort of talking to at that time Camille Gatin, and said that this could be a movie. I got two yes’s at the same time. They weren’t in conflict with each other. I was actually sort of planning the breakdown to the movie at the time as writting chapter summaries for the novel. Then I was doing drafts of the movie alongside writing the novel. There was a certain point when the novel was finished, handed in and I was still working on the movie. So toward the end of the movie there are scenes that I would of put in the novel if I had thought of them in time. Like the final confrontation between Caldwell and Melanie. Where Melanie is saying “so are we human.” We were casting as I started to write for the specific actors voices. Earlier on when I knew that Glenn Close was going to be Caldwell, I started thinking very hard about some of those later scenes with Melanie and Caldwell. I wanted to dramatise the clash between Caldwell and Justineau, and the clash between Cladwell and Melanie in different ways.
So how would you describe the film to someone that hasn’t seen it? So it’s a story about a young girl who is intelligent, curious, sensitive, generous, kind, brave, and is also a monster. It’s a coming of age story, where with the character we are following is a zombie. She’s a high functioning zombie. She’s got a perfectly normal emotional range, she’s got a better than average intelligence. It’s a story about finding yourself, in a world that is quite literally falling apart. It’s a story that is ultimately a very personal tale about that one character. It’s also the story of opening pandoras box, and as a child deciding the fate of the whole world.
Other than being stuck in a military base, what do you think was the hardest for her to come to grips with in this world? In a way it’s everything. I think one of the things that fascinated me about her as a character is that she is someone who hasn’t experienced the world. She is limited to three rooms and a corridor, that’s all she knows. In her imaginative life she builds an image of the world out of the stories that she’s told. I think that’s something that we all do. Obviously the more limited your real world experience is, the more sort of distorted those images will be. So Melanie has nothing to go on, except Greek myths, and a few other stories that Justineau has bought into the classroom and told the children. Every version of the story, from the short story to the novel, to the movie, there are specific narratives, specific stories that she kind of latched on to to understand herself and the world. In the original short story it’s indigenous, she’s been told about a trojan war, so she assumes that the children are kept in the base to protect them from their parents, because their parents want to sacrifice them as if indigenous would sacrifice them. Then in the novel it’s pandoras box. Then in the end she gets to decide whether to open the box or not.
Were there any apocalyptic influences for you that went into writing the book? I guess all of the zombie narratives that I love were in the mix somewhere. Strangely David Attenbourough is in there because of the fungal pathogen that creates our plague is from The Secret Life Of Plants. In the short story I fudged it, I just said it’s a virus, don’t ask any questions. In the novel and in the movie the search for a cure is so central. Such an important plot engine, that there had to be scientific rational for it. I don’t think it would have been enough to just say that “people get sick, they turn into zombies!” So I went looking for a pathogen, and I remember that sequence from David Attenbourough. Weirdly since the novel came out I’ve discovered that there are pathogens that effect humans in that way. Hijacking the nerve system.
Did you get to spend much time on the set? Yeah I did, they didn’t need me at all. By the time I completed the final draft, I had done all that was necessary. But Camille Gatin the producer who is just a fantastic human being, she was determined that I shouldn’t be kept out of the process, so she kept inviting me onto the set. Colm had made it clear that I could see and be present for any of the scenes, I ended up getting a cameo in the film. The scene where the base falls, I’m one of the zombies who dies on the fence. I get a really bloody death, my head explodes, thanks to a rifle bullet.
What was that like then? It was three days, and it was awesome! It was the last week of July, the height of summer 2015. There were hundreds of zombie extras, about 50-60 soldiers. We filmed it up at Heyford airport base in Oxfordshire. All of the other filming was done in the Midlands. We needed an army base that was still in a reasonably good order, a bit overgrown is fine. We found this base that had been decommissioned at a certain point. It was colossal. Those huge bunkers, at one point they were nuclear shells. Pretty much all of the sets were real, the interiors. The cells were a real build. Rosie was a build interior and exterior. Almost everything else you see is real.
Let’s talk Fellside. For those that haven't read it just yet, what can they expect from it? It’s a ghost story set in a woman’s prison. It’s a story about guilt and redemption. It’s about a women who in the grim of addiction accidentally kills a child, and goes to prison for it. Basically she just can’t live with her own guilt, and the thought of what she’s done. So she’s trying to kill herself, but she then encounters the ghost of the child she killed, and then the ghost says “it’s not going to be that easy for you, there’s something else you have to do first.” It’s about prison life, addiction, and confronting the consequences of your own actions.
What was the hardest part about creating a prison environment? I have been in prison, but not as a prisoner. I was a court clerk, in my late teens and early twenties. I read a lot of prison memoirs, I watched a lot of prison drama, and boiled it all down. More recently we’ve been talking to prisoners and ex-prisoners and to people who did drug rehabilitation in prison. All of that stuff fed into it as well.
How did you originally end up working with Marvel, and what are they like? With an organisation as huge as Marvel or DC it’s basically compartmentalized. I worked in the Ultimates and X-Men universe. So I met those editorial teams. So I was really lucky with my editors, and really lucky with my art teams. They were great. It helped that I wasn’t writing the flagship books. The flagship book in the X-men universe back then was Uncanny, I guess these days it’s Astonishing. I was writing for one that didn’t have an adjective. X-men, and then it became X-men Legacy. I got to choose my teams, after the writer from Uncanny had decided which mutants were going to be in the A-list, I got to have my pick of everybody else. So I put together a team out of all of the characters that I loved when I was reading X-men in the 70s/80s. It was fantastic. It was a really fun gig, and I grew up loving those characters, and reading those stories. Adding chapters to a story that you were reading when you were a kid.
We must ask, which X-men did you enjoy working on the most, and why? Probably Rogue, and Gambit was also in the mix! I think Gambit fans don’t like me very much because I created a love relationship between Rogue and Magneto. Well I re-visited a love relationship, it was Jim Lee that created it. I went back to it. Some fans like Gambit without Rogue, and some fans like Gambit with Rogue. The Gambit fans who were into the relationship were really hacked of because I split them up and brought in Magneto, particularly because Magneto is about 150 years old. He is getting on. They said that the relationship was distasteful!
What do you think of Lucifer, and what would you bring to the show if you could? A little bit weird. I worked on it for seven years, I don’t have any proprietary interest in those characters, because most of them are Neil Gaimans characters. Occasionally they’ll use a character that I created like Amenadiel, but they were in Sandman long before they were in Lucifer. What you see on the TV show is very different from the Lucifer of my comic, and very different from Sandman as well. But it’s OK. As Neil puts it, “when you’ve finished playing with the toys, you put the toys back in the box for someone else to come along and play with them after you.”
What else can we expect to see from you in 2017? Well I’m going back to the world of Girl with all of the gifts for the prequel/sequel Boy on the Bridge. That’s out right now. I am working on a movie, and I’m working on some TV stuff. I’ve got several comics coming out, I’m doing a comic with Peter Gross, which is going to be getting a French release before it comes out in the US and UK. I’m quite excited about that. It’s spectacularly different, they have a completely different format. French books are like albums, they do hard covers with 40-60 pages. The pages are much bigger than an American page, about twice the panel count. So you pick up one of those books, and it’s actually like a mini-series. Four issues worth of material. So you are working in bigger units, more of an epic feel to it. So we’re having a blast with that, we’re three volumes in, and we’re really enjoying it. We are doing a book for IDW called Darkness Visible and maybe doing another book for them at some point.
Will there be a film for The Boy On The Bridge? It might happen, you never know.
You need to get shot again! I think it should be worse this time. I need to get killed by a chainsaw or something.
When did you first get into acting? That would have been probably around the age of 12, doing plays at school and yeah, I had no interest in it prior to that, did a play and just fell in love with it.
Was there a particular moment when you realised that it was what you wanted to do? Well, I'm still not sure if it's what I want to do with my life... Just walking out on that stage for the first time, during that first play was transformative and just having the lights and feeling the energy of the audience. I've basically been chasing that feeling ever since. after college, I realised that I couldn't not pursue it, I had to at least try and it took a few years but eventually I found a way to make my living out of it and until something better comes along, I guess this is what I'll do.
Did you get into voice acting around the same sort of time? To me it's all the same, I did a sketch comedy show in the late 90s called Mad TV and the really odd thing is when I was doing that, no one ever said "so how did you get into TV acting?" or "do you not want to do movies?" but for me it’s the same thing, the job I have is simply the job I have and I am open to all of it. To me, acting is acting, whether it's on a stage for an audience, for a camera or for a microphone. I've just been really fortunate to find consistent work in voice over.
What was your first major job role as an actor? Well it's hard to say because I had a very small part in Pulp Fiction. As far as the part goes, it wasn't that significant, but being a part of that film was I think very significant. Personally, career wise for me the first big step was Mad TV the television show. It was the first consistent work, because generally speaking in show business we are all temporary workers. Every job, even if it doesn't end right away, it could. If you do a movie, let's say you’re Tom Hanks, you would do a movie for 18 months and then you would have to go and find another job. For a television show, you get a year at a time which for a struggling actor is huge, it's like "oh my gosh, I'm going to be working for a year!". With Mad TV, I was lucky enough for it to go on for five years. Having that kind of consistency, either drives you mad or allows space to really figure out more of who you are and what you want to do creatively. So that’s why something like that is significant, it wasn't necessarily a big hit, it wasn't earth shattering art but it allowed me space, time and the money to relax and figure out who I was as a performer. I would say about two years prior to that I had started making my living solely from acting, I had no side job or anything but it was inconsistent work. I figured “well okay, I will just keep adding it all together.” It's like going out and finding bricks to build a wall. Then all of a sudden, someone comes along and brings an entire pallet of bricks, just for you. It's like "wow, my wall is a lot more solid right now."
Could you tell us about what it was like to work on Pulp Fiction with Quentin Tarantino? It was lovely, it was a really wonderful set. I think when you have a script that’s that good and everyone knows it. There is a positive energy, because everyone knows they are working on something good and they are all there for that one purpose. There was very little ego, even with the big stars that were involved they all took much less money than they usually got paid just to be a part of it. That set a wonderful tone, everybody wanted to be there and work hard, and do their best. To have it turn out to be so successful is icing on the cake.
When you look back at it, what do you think made it such a cult classic? It was the best script I've ever read. He captured a tone that was of its time, yet also transcends its time. You know, that movie holds up in a way that many movies made that year, that decade don't and it's simply because of the quality. He wrote something, that is not real life in any way shape or form, no one lives like that, no one walks around in suits like that but at the same time every line that every character speaks feels like exactly what they should say after the line before. It all makes sense, it all feels "real" even though it's fantastical and that’s not an easy thing to do.
How did you originally get the part of Hermes Conrad on Futurama? The people who were in charge of casting for Mad TV, were also in charge for casting for Futurama. They knew that I did characters and character voices and so they brought me in to audition for Matt Groening and David Cohen which was fairly intimidating to do. This was the man who created The Simpsons. I wound up auditioning for them and they liked what I did! Even though, four episodes in, they ended up completely changing the voice of the character. Hermes had no Jamaican accent in the beginning, it wasn't until we were a little bit in the series, that Matt walked up to me and said "can you do a Jamaican accent" and I was like "sure" and it just helped give the writers a little more to play with. The character popped more after it!
Was there was a particular moment when you realised that Futurama was a hit? It certainly wasn't in the beginning, we were cancelled three times. Fox did not really support the show. After the show was cancelled though, fans began to watch the reruns and buy the DVDs. So I guess it was when the show was brought back. At the time, that was really unusual. Most shows, that get cancelled, disappear of the face of the earth never to be seen again. However, the fan base for this show was a combination of die hard animation fans who are very devoted viewers as well as science fiction fans who are also equally devoted. So Futurama was kind of a double dipping into the fandoms and those fans really showed fox that there was a huge audience for it and basically convinced the corporation that they had left money on the table and then Fox ran back to Matt.
How did the process of creating 4 DVDs of Futurama differ to anything before? Yeah, that was actually a real challenge for the writers, because they had to create these four movies for straight to DVD that could also be cut up into 16 episodes and put on television, I don’t envy them. It's like "write us a movie that’s funny and great, but also stops every fourth of it" but they did a fine job, good enough for us to come back as a full fledged series a couple of years later!
Which episode was the most enjoyable for you to work on as Hermes and why? There have been a lot of episodes, there was an episode called "how hermes requisitioned his groove back." and getting to do a musical number, is always fun
What was the Simpson-rama episode like to work on? That episode was a blast, although it was a little strange because both shows were produced by the same companies and had a lot of the same people and both shows were run in the same way. We would do table reads (a reading of the script before you record it so everyone can hear it) and we would do them in the same room, obviously Futurama used to do theirs in that room on a certain day, and The Simpsons would do theirs in the same room on a different day. All of a sudden we were doing a table read in our old room but for The Simpsons and your impulse is to go to your regular chair but "oh that's not my chair today, that’s Yeardley Smiths' chair" it was like being a guest in your own house and having Homer Simpson to visit which is pretty mind blowing.
What would you like the future to hold for the show? Actually, part of that has already come true. we've gotten together again to do a Futurama mobile app called 'Futurama - world of tomorrow' which will be out later this year. and that's been a blast to get back together with the cast members, the writers and to delve back into it in a new way. It's always great to get the band back together.
What originally attracted you to playing the character Samurai Jack?? The wonderful thing about it was, when you audition for a voice over part, you can't really get a sense of the whole thing because it's usually a handful of drawings, or some descriptions of the character, so you don't really know what you’re getting into until you're well into the process. We record the voices nine months to a year before the animation is done! Samurai Jack was a little different because the creator Genndy Tartakovsky had this short animation that he had done, to show the network the concept of the show. So on my first day on the job, I got to see that and it was spectacular. The sense of action, the Hong Kong action movie live action stuff mixed in with this really unique animation style, it let me know right away from the start that this was something different. The fact that he was able to create what I consider to be "a work of art" on a children's cartoon cable channel in the early 2000s just adds to the level of accomplishment, you look at that show now and it still holds up. You can see how great it is but you can't really appreciate it unless you go back in time and look at everything else that was being animated with it at that time. It was head and shoulders above the rest.
What was it like to return to the show after a decade long break? It was fantastic because, again Genndy has just got this incredible sense. He knew how to come back to the show. We were talking before about how so many shows have come back from cancellation, and are being rebooted. Most of them there’s not really a reason other than everybody already knows this show, so let’s show it again. A lot of them either sort of miss the mark on what made it cool originally or they try to do the same thing again and it feels old. But Genndy was able to capture what was so cool, the style, the action, the artistic design elements from the original show but also update it in a way that was was true to the character, to the world, to himself and the other creators as artists. He was like "it's 15 years later, I don't do the same thing I did back then so I'm not going to try and pretend to be myself 15 years ago, I'm going to do the show from where I am now." I think he's done a fantastic job and and people who loved the original show and people who have never seen it before have recognised just what a fantastic job he's done here. So for me to be able to come back and play this character has been a blast and also a challenge because it’s not just a hero it’s a hero who was tortured and as an actor you love that.
In Samurai Jack the episode Jack and the Spartans won an Emmy, can you tell me what it was like to work on as well as maybe why you think it was so iconic? In the original series there were some episodes where as a voice actor speaking lines I had very little to do and because the heart of the show is visual. I don't think there is any denying that. Between the painted backgrounds and the incredible character designs in the world that they've drawn. That is the thing that makes this show stand out, over and above. Which is not to take anything away from the sound design, the music, and the voice acting of myself and the other actors who are part of it. Really the heart of it is the visual design and the spartan episode is one where they took it to their limit, and thankfully people recognised it.
What do you think you have learnt the most from working with Mako? Mako was always so easy going. He had been doing this work for decades before we even started the show. He had a level of ease and professionalism, he never treated the show with anything other than the utmost professionalism and respect. He didn't think it "oh this is this crappy cartoon job" he came in there fully committed and played the character to the hilt every single time. What he taught me most was it’s not about the voice, it’s about the acting, even the smallest character. You have to embody it fully and if you do that then it's going to be great.
What was it like to be Stockman on Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and how did you approach playing this iconic turtles character? Well ninja turtles is just fun. It's funny because I had some of the original comic books back in the day and I love this new series because it had some of that grit that the original comic had but also the sense of fun. It was originally a parody of all of these ninja gritty cartoon shows, so it was like "what if we made daredevil a turtle?" I feel like this series really captured that feel and Stockman, he's a comic relief villain, he was the bad guy who's the brunt of the joke at the same time and that’s always such a blast to play. When he transformed later in the series, that was hard because you have to do all that buzzing talk which is lot of fun. The rest of the cast, Sean, Seth, Rob & Greg all those guys are really, really great performers and any time we get to hang out is a blast.
You also got to play Darth Vader in the Lego games, how was that? It’s amazing how many Lego versions of everything there are these days. If I remember correctly we did a weird version of it, I think it was one of the versions where the Lego characters don't talk they just sort of grunt. All the times I've gotten to play anybody in the Star Wars universe, is just a dream come true. I was ten years old when the first Star Wars came out so to be able to be in that world, of my childhood as a Jedi, as a senator, as an alien, anything it's always just a treat.
You voiced a bunch of characters in injustice 2, so how excited are you for it to now be out, and can you tell us about the actors union strike that happened around its release? I'm very excited for that, because of the really interesting way they've added on to the game. You add on pieces of armour and equipment, as you move forward. I was a huge Injustice player. Yeah, unfortunately since we started the game and before we finished it over here in the US, the actors union were actually on strike against Warner Brothers and several of the other companies. Warner Brothers are the company who make Injustice. It's really a shame because we do this work because we love it. Nobody becomes an actor to not act. We also need to be respected and safe and be able to make a living. Unfortunately, a lot of the video game companies haven't understood that in order to have a pool of actors available to bring these worlds to life, you have to help these actors survive. It's crazy that some little preschool cartoon that I did six years ago has actually generated more income for me than the Metal Gear series, or the Injustice series because those games are selling hundreds of millions of copies. It’s odd. Fortunately, a lot of competitors have signed on with the unions new agreement agreeing to share if a game becomes a huge hit, and that way we've continued to go on working. The new Futurama game is under the new terms. We're not asking for anything crazy but just for billionaires to share! I think eventually they will see the light and understand that if you want these kind of performances that these huge games have you've got to pay a little and you've got treat these actors with a little respect, and you've got to have stunt coordinators there when you're motion capturing people hanging on ropes. I think eventually they will do it or they will just go back to making Mario games!
What else can we expect to see from you as an actor in 2017? I've been working on the new Futurama game, the Disney show The Lion Guard. Episodes of the politcal comedy Veep for HBO that I've worked on. I'm working on a new television show, called Get Shorty which is a TV version of the Elmer Leonard novel about gangsters who wind up in Hollywood and they try to figure out which business is more dysfunctional and unethical. It's a lot of fun, and it’s got Chris O'Dowd and Ray Romano in it. They are so good.
When did you first get into voice acting? I started voice acting in my first year of college. I was doing local theatre in the Dallas area and was asked by a castmate to come in and audition for DragonBall Z. I was so nervous. I actually lost my voice in the callbacks because I was so unaccustomed to doing fighting reactions. Which was good, you know, because that show was about 75 percent fighting.
What was your first major job role? Even with losing my voice, I ended up getting cast in the role of Kid Trunks. I was 18, I had no clue what I was doing! But Chris Sabat was such a wonderful director and did an amazing job of showing me the ropes. Dubbing is such a unique process, but it forces you to get good at cold reading. I always say that my early time recording anime was like voice actor bootcamp. It was both really hard and really rewarding.
What was it like to work alongside Nolan North and Troy Baker on Uncharted 4, and what was the most rewarding part about working on this game? Well I’ve worked with Troy on a ton of projects over the last 15 years. We both started in Dallas. So anytime I’m with him on set there’s an instant comfort level, and our scenes together are always stronger for it. Nolan is brilliant. And hilarious. It was so hard staying angry at him during our scenes throughout the filming because he kept making me want to laugh.
Without giving away any spoilers. How did the idea come together for Uncharted: The Lost Legacy, and what has it been like to have even more acting time with Nadine Ross? Neil approached me about a possible DLC involving Nadine before Uncharted 4 was even released. Nothing was set in stone, but he wanted to know if it was something I’d be interested in. Which, of course, I was. There was so much more story to tell with her. In U4 we got to see little glimpses of her personality outside of her fighting. A hint of playfulness with Sully, something softer with Rafe… so I was beyond excited to come back for Lost Legacy and get to dive in further.
What did you enjoy the most about being Olympia Vale in Halo 5, and what did you bring to this iconic sci-fi world? Oh my gosh, I freaked when I found out I actually got to be a Spartan. One of the interesting things about playing Olympia Vale was she didn’t become a Spartan in the usual way. She joined the program after excelling in her training but had a more diplomatic background than most. She had a deep appreciation for Sangheili culture. Those little sidebars of dialogue she had as you explored the world were filled with admiration. I loved that duality of her personality - she could be full of wonder but also no nonsense at the same time.
What was it like to work in motion capture? Motion capture has really become one of the main things I do now. I mean, with so many games moving into this realm, I spend almost as much time on the stages as I do in the booth. It’s such an encompassing experience. With full performance capture, we film the scenes you see. The face, body and audio are all captured at the same time so the little little nuances one brings to the character have a chance to shine. Mocap is this wonderful mix of film and theatre with a dash of schoolyard imagination thrown in.
You were also Kait Diaz in Gears of War 4! So how excited was it to be a part of the Gears of War franchise, and as this was set a bit apart from the first three games, then how did you go about bringing a fresh approach to this epic series? I freaking love what I do. And having the opportunity to voice Kait in the Gears franchise was one of the best experiences in my career. Rod Ferguson is so wonderful and so involving. He made sure that the bulk of the scenes with Kait, JD and Del were recorded together. So the camaraderie the three of them felt was able to grow organically between us actors as well. Then you throw John DiMaggio into the booth too and the whole process just becomes amazing.
What's it like to voice 'Black Widow' in Avengers Assemble, and other than being an animation, how would you say your version compares to that of Scarlett Johansson? The last few years of playing Black Widow has been wonderful. Getting to record with whole cast is a riot. We always joke about it feeling like a group of kids sitting in detention, acting up. I think back in the first few recording sessions I kind of played around with giving Black Widow the smokey sound Johansson portrays so well. I leaned into a sort of film noir vibe. But once we got going, she just became her own entity within the show. It was less about trying to do what someone else had done, you know?
What can we expect from Supergirl in Injustice 2? Yes! Injustice 2! Technology in game development is growing so quickly; every time you step into the booth you get a new experience. Injustice used facial capture in the booth so that the emotion of every line was fully realized in the gameplay. It’s crazy having a helmet with a camera on your head and two super bright lights directly in front of your face while you’re screaming battle dialogue. Hehe, but such a blast. And I was so impressed at how in depth the writing was. It really elevated the performances of everyone involved.
Critical Role sounds like an interesting project for an actor to be involved with? Critical Role started because a group of my fellow voice actor friends and I had an ongoing game of Dungeons and Dragons we’d been playing and the fabulous Felicia Day heard about it. She asked if we’d be interested in playing in front of some cameras for the Geek and Sundry Twitch channel. We honestly didn’t know if it would be something that anybody would want to watch but decided to give it a go. Turns out, people had a lot of fun with it! We’ve been playing on the channel live every Thursday for a couple years now, and after the live stream the episodes go up on youtube. I know there’s been this wrongful stigma associated with D&D for so long, that it’s something you can’t talk about because it’s too “nerdy.” But what’s nerdy anyway? Everybody in the world is a nerd for something. It seems like people are starting to realize that there are a ton of others out there who enjoy it too. I hope our game can continue to grow that acceptance.
As you've become more established in the voice acting world, do you feel like you've been able to do more with your characters than ever before? I think so, yeah. The more you work, the more those you work with become your friends. A lot of the jobs I have now are because someone liked what I did in a previous project. That history creates an environment of trust, which in turn lets everyone shine creatively.
What's the hardest part about being a voice actor? The hardest part of being an actor in general is not knowing what your next job is going to be. For a long time I worried if I was going to be able to pay rent, because I didn’t know if I would be cast in anything I was auditioning for. It can be scary to commit yourself to something that you have no guarantee you’ll be successful at. I mean, you can be the most talented person in the world, but if you’re not in the right place at the right time, you may never get a break. I know every time I step into a room to record that I’m so lucky to get to do what I do.
Looking back on your career, can you give us one or two other moments that have just really stood out to you as a voice actor? My first time recording up at Cartoon Network and being in the booth with Mark Hammil was pretty freakin mind blowing. All I kept thinking about was how much I had looked up to him growing up. My brain was doing summersaults, but I was trying to be totally calm and collected on the outside. I wanted him to think I was professional. haha. Super nerve-wracking though.
What else can we expect to see from Laura Bailey in 2017? Well, Farpoint for Playstation VR just came out. I play Dr. Eva Tyson. And Uncharted The Lost Legacy drops on August 22nd. But outside of that?... Just a big pile of secrets. Suffice it to say, I’m beyond excited about what’s coming up.
When did you first get into acting? When I was in grade school I auditioned for my school musical Oliver Twist and ended up landing the role of Oliver, and it just kind of continued from there.
What was your first major acting project, and what was that whole experience like for you at the time? The summer before my last semester in college I was cast as Maggie Hartigan in RIFFRAFF, a feature film shot in Chicago. It was like nothing I had ever done before. I went through 3 rounds of auditioning for multiple roles, after the 1st audition I heard nothing for about a month which was a bit nerve wracking. Once I was cast we jumped from rehearsals right into shooting. We spent 3 weeks shooting all over Chicago and it went by incredibly fast. What I had to get used to was the idea that you do so much work on something and it might be years before you ever see it. With RIFFRAFF the movie did not premiere until 4 years after we shot it. So I had to learn about patience.
So, how did you get the role of Mia Winters on Resident Evil 7, and what do you remember the most about your first day working on the game? I saw a casting call where they were looking for a female who could play a demonic possessed type of character which is something I love doing. The 1st audition I had with them was quite physically demanding. As I had never done motion capture before, I was not totally ready for that but I just threw myself into the character and luckily they liked it. The next day they called me back in to read for the normal version of the role. After they saw I could be “normal” I was cast as Mia. My 1st day in the studio was crazy. I remember being nervous when I saw that I had to wear a spandex onesie. Once I got past the outfit it was a full day of “possessed” Mia, so I just got to have scary fun. I do remember the look of surprise on the crews’ faces once I started doing the voices. My demon voice definitely shocked people.
What attracted you the most to playing the character of Mia? The fact she was 2 characters was the coolest part. I got to play sweet, loving and scared wife and then crazy chainsaw-wielding killer chick. It’s the type of role I’d been hoping to play for a while.
Had you played any of the games before? I remember playing the original as a kid, but I hadn’t played any of the others since. After being a part of this one I’m anxious to go back and attempt to play some of the others. Anyone have any tips for me?
What was Todd Soley like to work with, and how did your working relationship grow the more you worked on the game? Todd was great! He is a super down-to-earth guy and we got along really well. I think when you know you’re going to be working so closely with someone you have a little bit of worry inside that they might be a little crazy, but we got lucky. He also reminded me a lot of my brothers so it was super easy to hang out when there was down time on set.
The game is getting huge praise from fans all across the world. So if you can, what do you think makes it stand out, compared to any other survival horror game out there? I feel like with this game we were very conscious of making people (the player) feel like they are a part of this world. We wanted the players to care about characters, and we wanted to give some really good scares! So I feel like we accomplished that.
What scene was the most enjoyable for you to work on, and why? Spoiler: By far the screwdriver/chainsaw scene was my favorite! I think because I got to go from sweet to psycho all in the same scene, and who doesn’t love chopping off their husbands hand...but he kind of deserved it, he tried to kill me first. ;)
In parts of the game Mia would flip from normal to being infected running around with a chainsaw within a couple of seconds. So what was that like for you to work on? Those scenes were my favorite to shoot because I was able to throw all cares out the window and just become Mia. To be able to go from one to the other so comfortably I really just couldn’t be self-conscious, I couldn’t be in my own head too much. I just had to be comfortable with my choices. And most important was being able to laugh at myself when they yelled cut.
You did special effects make up on it as well, so can you tell us how you got involved in that side of the industry, as well as what it was like to do on Alone in the Dead of Night? I have always loved effects makeup. Halloween is my favorite time of year and that’s kind of where it all stemmed from. My family goes all out with costumes every Halloween, almost to the point of it being a competition. Then, I became obsessed with the show FACEOFF and that’s when I really started to teach myself. Getting my hands on books, videos, classes, and friends who didn’t mind lending their faces and bodies for me to practice on. Finding this other creative outlet has only helped my acting, as the two have gone hand in hand on multiple occasions.
What advice would you give to someone who is looking to make it as an actor? Honestly don’t do this for fame or money, do this because it’s what you love, and you could never see yourself doing anything else! I have always felt that we create entertainment for people who, even if just for a few hours want to step away from their everyday lives. They want to be transported to another place, and don’t want to have to think about what’s happening in the world around them. We give them that escape.
What else will you be getting up to in 2017?
I am working on several projects, but unfortunately, as is the nature of our business, I’m not allowed to talk about them as of yet. But, if you follow me on facebook or instagram (@katieoacts) I am always giving updates on what I have coming out!
I just want to say thanks so much to all the fan of the resident evil franchise for all the love and support you’ve shown. I’m really proud of what we accomplished and I hope I did Mia justice. Enjoy playing!
When did you first get into acting? Even though I've always had a knack for performance and entertaining others (ever since I was a kid), I only gave it serious thought as a career option after I started to grow displeased/bored with my college studies (in bio-chemistry) after high school. So I switched over to Dawson college, auditioned for the theatre program, got refused, took some acting classes, auditioned again the next year on the recommendation of one of my drama teachers, and got in! That kind of set the course for the rest of my life. After I graduated, I got an agent, started auditioning, and after about 10 years of intermittent work I started to work/book more regularly. Now here I am!
So how did you first get involved with Watch Dogs, and can you tell us a bit about your time working on the first game? I actually got involved with the first Watchdogs in a bit of a roundabout way. I was initially contacted (through my agent) by the director of the first game, they were looking for a reader with motion capture experience to help them cast the part of Clara. So I agreed to it (I really like working for Ubisoft, so I like doing them a solid whenever I can), and then one audition became four, which then became two more motion capture auditions as they narrowed their search. But they got to work with me throughout, the director and producer took a liking to me, and wound up giving me a small part in the game. I also did a bunch of mocap for it, and played a bunch of minor characters. One of the directors then came back to direct the DLC Bad Blood, and he really enjoyed my work so I was cast in that as well. I got to work with the fabulous John Tench in a really gripping scene. I was really happy with the experience, so I was thrilled when they asked me to come back for Watchdogs 2.
In the second game you play Wrench, so how fun was this for you, and how would you personally describe the character to the fans of the game? Playing Wrench was a dream come true. Lars Bonde, whom I had worked with on the first game, told me that he immediately thought of me as the perfect choice for Wrench when it came time to produce a demo of the game. It wasn't what the designers originally had in mind, but I think it was an inspired choice. It certainly worked out pretty well! The best thing for me was that I just got to cut loose with him, I was allowed to tap into my love of comedy, which I seldom get to express in projects. For those who don't know Wrench, he's a lovable, motor-mouthed, smart, no-bullshit hacker and anarchist, the engineer of DEDSEC (his hacker collective), and the guy you go to when you need something blown up.
Can you tell us a bit about what the cast from Watch Dogs 2 were like to work with? They were all terrific. I already knew John Tench from the first game in the DLC, so working with him again was just great. Ruffin is one of the most generous actors and one of the kindest people I've ever had the joy of working with, and Tasya is not only talented, but a beautiful person inside and out. Jonathan Dubsky is a wonderful, sensitive soul, and he played Josh with such skill and respect for the character. Michael, Chris and Ashleigh were also really fun, creative, and immensely talented, which made the entire process really rewarding. The fun we had as a group was really captured and translated into the game, I find, and I think that's one of the greatest successes in Watchdogs 2.
Leading on from that, how much of yourself did you get to bring to the character? As an actor, I was really blessed with the part of Wrench because I just got to mostly be myself. I'm naturally someone who has a lot of energy, I like joking around, I don't like to take things too seriously. Lars, who was in charge of Watchdogs 2 (and whom I had worked with on the first game) wanted that unique quality of mine for Wrench, he fought for it. But I think his vision was pretty inspired (if I may be so humble), because the mix of Wrench's look and his / my personality was a real hit with the fans. I initially was only supposed to play him for the demo, but the producers liked the job I did so much that they decided to keep me on. After that, the writers, who had known me for a while from this and other projects, started to change the dialogue to suit me a bit more, so that it would fit the character even better. I think that was a smart idea, the results speak for themselves.
Also, what do you think makes Wrench such a memorable character? I think it's a combination of his personality and his look. I think when you first see Wrench, you expect some kind of gruff tough guy, but once he starts to speak and act, you see that he's something totally different. I think the mask also gives him a certain amount of anonymity that people can relate/project into, which makes him more accessible to fans. And again, not to pat myself on the back too hard, but I think my choices with him, coupled with my comedic stylings an attitude, made him a nice, new, fresh kind of character, different from anything that's come before. I think that makes him memorable, for sure.
Let's talk about Outlast! How fun were those games to work on, and what would you say was the most enjoyable part for you? These games were a blast to work on, though to be honest I won't say they weren't without a certain amount of psychological stress. A lot of the imagery in situations I found myself in as both Miles and Blake were often quite disturbing. I'm a guy who can take a lot of gore and creepiness, but this game really tested my limits. On the plus side, I think it definitely pulled a good performance out of me... and really what are a few psychological scars for the sake of an awesome video game? I also got to do a fair amount of motion capture for the denizens of Temple Gate, that was also a ton of fun. I love a good physical role, and those NPCs certainly qualify! So I guess my favourite part was seeing it all come together in the final product. The sound engineers, the designers, the animators, everyone did such a terrific job. It really makes me proud.
Be honest, did you manage to complete any of the games yourself? No spoilers! I am a bit ashamed to say that I have not. I had the chance to play the first one with some friends who were doing a stream of it, that was fun. But I was surrounded by people I knew, had some beer handy, the room was well lit, and I had people watching, so I managed to get through it OK. And I only played the first hour or so. I haven't touched the second one yet, and I will freely admit that it's because I'm kind of terrified to. I mean, I acted in the damn thing, I know what's coming, and I still don't want to face it! But I will. And when I do, I intend to do it by myself and with no lights on. Because in life, you have to either go big or go home. I'll just make sure to have plenty of adult diapers handy.
Also, in real life, how long do you think you'd last exploring an asylum like the one in the game? Well in real life, I'd take one look at the scenery presented at the beginning of the game, exclaim a giant "NOPE!", then turn around and head for the hills. Sorry Lynn, you're on your own. I kid. If my wife found herself a prisoner of those people, you'd better believe I'd try to go and save her. And unlike Blake, I'm a trained martial artist, stuntman, and choreographer, and I can get pretty creative when it comes to violence. I don't enjoy or condone real violence, but I don't think I'd shy away from it if it was necessary to save someone that I cared about. I'm not saying I'd survive, of course, I'd probably get butchered pretty early on, but I guarantee you that I'd take a number of those people down with me before I died. But I mean would it kill Blake to break off a piece of fencing to use as a weapon? Surely he can improvise something! A pitchfork? An axe? a sharp stick? A rock? Anything! Come ON, man!
For those that haven't played it yet, can you tell us a bit about the character you play in Outlast 2, and maybe what they can expect from the game? Outlast 2 follows the story of Blake Langermann, a cameraman who is en route to a news story with his reporter wife Lynn when their helicopter crashes (of course), and they find themselves trapped in one of the worst places on earth. Blake must avoid the fanatical residents of Temple Gate while looking for his wife, trying to stay alive, and most importantly trying to retain his sanity. There are no weapons or powers to be used in this game, just your wits, and the ability to hide and most importantly the ability to RUN! Great story, beautiful graphics, but definitely not for the faint of heart.
You got to work on Far Cry Primal, so how fun was that, and what do you remember the most about working in this intense world? Far Cry Primal was a lot of fun. I didn't get the chance to do any motion capture on the game, but I did get to voice one of the prehistoric tribes. The writers literally invented a language for the game, an amalgamation of actual historical languages that were speculatively assembled to form and early working language for primitive man. So learning a new language was a lot of fun, though quite challenging. I thought it turned out great in the game, though. Very immersive.
You also got to work on Assassins Creed, so how was that, and how would you say those games compare to anything else you've worked on before? The Assassin's Creed series hold a special place in my heart, because it's where I really got started in motion capture and in working with Ubisoft. I started off playing Niccolo Machiavelli, which was awesome. I also played Duccio, and father Maffei (they even kept my face for the character), so players got to kill someone who looked just like me in a video game! I also got to play StĂŠphane Chapheau, the meat cleaver-wielding, English-hating butcher in AC III, he was probably one of my favourite characters of the series, just so much fun to play. I also got to do some stunts and choreography for AC II, and did a ton of living world and secondary character work for pretty much every game of the series thus far. I'd say it's what really got me started in the business, and ignited my love for motion capture, voice and video game work.
I read that you were a stunt performer on Dues Ex: Mankind Divided. So can you tell us a bit about that, as well as maybe what it is like to work on stunts in a video game world? Working on Deus Ex was probably my second favourite job, after playing Wrench in Watchdogs 2. I was hired as Adam Jensen's takedown choreographer, so I got to conceive, design and motion capture all of his close combat takedowns. They initially asked me for about 80 takedowns, but I was so inspired and enthusiastic that I wound up delivering around 200 instead. Unfortunately a large number of them didn't make it to the game for reasons outside of my control, but I'm still very happy with the work, plus I got to voice some secondary characters in the game and do a lot of stunt doubling for Adam Jensen in many cinematic cutscenes. What's great about stunts in the video game world is that you have the freedom to get creative that's not afforded on film (or live), yet there's a layer of safety that can be added because contact is no longer necessary. I love the creative freedom that comes with it, and I really got to apply that with Deus ex, which I found to be immensely rewarding. I'd love to do another one!
What is motion capture like to do as an actor? I love motion capture because it is the perfect amalgamation (in my opinion) of film and theatre. You have the freedom to create your space without the confines of film acting, and as a lifelong gamer, the thought of being able to influence and participate in video games from the ground up is an amazing opportunity. I see more and more actors discovering the world of motion capture and voice acting, and the environment and the technology keeps on growing and improving every day, so I think the future of video games and how they're made will remain very exciting. As an actor, I really look forward to the opportunities that will come my way in that regard. As someone who revels in creativity and has a lot of passion for his work, I find motion capture the perfect medium to express myself. And judging by all the actors who are flocking to that world with every passing year, I think a lot of people are discovering that as well.
What else can we expect to see from you as an actor in 2017? Nothing major for the immediate future, though I am working on a new project with a friend of mine, which I am pretty excited about but can't really reveal any details just yet. What I can do, however, is point people towards a fan-film I made a few years ago that I'm quite proud of: https://youtu.be/ZFvIULVPEC8 Why share a link to a fan film when asked if I have anything else coming up? Could it be that I'm making another fan film? Only time will tell...
Alestorm - No Grave But The Sea Heavy metal pirate masters Alestorm return with their fifth album ‘No Grave But The Sea’ their most ambitious and mighty release yet, which sees them tackle new ventures and explore new territory in this epic battle soundtrack. The album commences with the self-titled track ‘No Grave But The Sea’ which kicks things off in true Alestorm fashion, with a typical fun catchy chorus and some nice surprises in terms of some dark heavy moments, a very welcome and reassuring start to the album to set the scene for what is to come… New single ‘Mexico’ immediately asserts a new direction and sound not seen before the band, with an almost arcade game intro, before resonant guitars and instruments accompany Christopher Bowes well written and delivered lyrics. This has a smashing and memorable chorus, which is very melodic and features some humorous and brilliant lyrics to go with the theme of Mexico – “Yo! Ho! Mexico! Far to the south where the cactus grow, tequila and a donkey show’” which is the perfect singalong chant for the live setting, especially with big symphonic sections. ‘To The End Of The World’ and first self-titled single released ‘Alestorm’ continue the new exploration of sounds from the band, with a heavier influence, aided by the vocals from Elliot Vernon (keyboards), which is especially evident in ‘Alestorm’, with an almost thrash and melodic death metal sound coming through which is exciting to see, and I think works really well against Christopher’s piratical tones. ‘Bar und Imbiss’ opens in a dramatic yet stripped back acoustic manner, before it swings into classic pirate fashion. Another song to play loud and drink lots of alcoholic beverages to accompany it, whilst heartily shouting along with fellow crew. It tells a great story of an adventure to the bar and the battles of pirates, which the lyrics portray nicely “Drink up me hearties ‘til we’ve had our fill, raise up your tankard, into the sky, pirates forever from now ‘til we die”. To top it all off it also has brilliant melodic solo guitar work, this is pirate metal perfection. We salute you! It is obvious that next song “Fucked With An Anchor” is going to be another bizarre and hilarious offering from the band, and is perhaps their strangest yet. No one will be able to get through this song with a straight face that’s for sure, with obscene and funny lyrics such as “Fuck! You! With a fucking anchor, you’re all cunts so fuck you!” which are delivered in a merry and joyous manner just to add to the madness. ‘Pegleg Potion’ picks up the pace and is extremely satisfying with lots of instrumental variety and depth, making it a must hear and is the perfect balance between old and new Alestorm, with a heavier chorus and sweet harmonic guitars. It’s not just all nonsense and shenanigans, the band are highly talented and have honed their craft finely, and this particularly highlights this. ‘Man The Pumps’ sounds like a battle song and continues their soundtrack of a pirate’s quest and lifestyle, it sounds sorrowful yet has an unwavering determination to it. It also displays some nice atmospheric symphonic sections again. The greatly titled penultimate song ‘Rage Of The Pentahook’ goes back to a darker sound and has great singalong lyrics that will go down well live with its thrash riffs and fast tempos. So the adventure comes to an end with final song ‘Treasure Island’ which is mental and grandiose, with a hopeful and exciting story of their unbelievable quest of divine treasures which is in grasp. The song is epic in both musical structure, style and length, being the longest song featured. This certainly quenches your musical needs, along with the rest of the hearty numbers we are graced with. This will be an instant hit with Alestorm fans, as it has all the best characteristics and defining mechanics that give them their signature sound, but this release is also likely to recruit some new swashbucklers with the presence of some new ideas and techniques. This is certainly a defining moment for the band, as it displays some of their most creative and finest songwriting, with an added depth and heavier tone to appease the masses. This is an absolute must-hear for fans and for anyone else for that matter. It is thoroughly satisfying and the perfect soundtrack to for being merry and having a great time whilst embarking on an interesting endeavour. CL
Six Impossible Things - We Are All Mad Here Six Impossible Things are an acoustic emo punk duo from Italy comprised of Nicole Fodritto on vocals and Lorenzo Di Girolamo on guitars along with sharing vocal duties. They formed in 2014 and released some demos in 2015 but now their anticipated full-length debut titled ‘We Are All Mad Here' has arrived. Opening song ‘I Don’t Know’ quickly shows off the nice dual vocals between Nicole and Lorenzo, Nicole’s vocals are especially beautiful and powerful with delicate guitars to accompany, before the song builds up more and goes between quieter and louder sections effectively. A great start to the album, as well an introduction to the band with their stripped back emotive and dreamy sound. ‘Our Own World’ is very catchy and upbeat, so be prepared to get swept up in their ‘world’, which brings us nicely onto next track ‘Why Has The World Gone Mad?’ which has a more edgy rock vibe, with some great lyrics, and the instruments push it to make more powerful, aided by their strong vocal capabilities, as seen throughout the album. Debut single ‘Memory’ features beautiful upbeat guitars and is a joy to listen to with a powerful chorus that really drives the song, along with the instruments used and clever arrangements. Another stand out song is ‘Words’ as it has a different feel to it, being more downbeat an almost sorrowful, and highlights some of the best and most diverse vocals from duo collectively so far, which is hard hitting with a nice use of softer and louder vocals and musical placement. The closing song, ‘Children Forever' is heartfelt and a soaring, taking you through the motions, a great way to end and reflect. Six Impossible Things have a great stripped back organic, acoustic sweet rock sound. ‘We Are All Mad Here' is a delightfully unusual and uplifting debut that offers something different in the rock genre, so it’s a nice break from the norm where you can to sit back and relax, as well as rock out too, with its great outbursts and more full on rock moments which are well placed throughout. This is a standout debut that they should be very proud of. It will be very interesting to see what they do next. CL
Elyne - Alibi In my 4 years of writing about music, I have been introduced to a few bands by having to write about them. Some of those bands are now favorites even. I am not saying that Elyne will become of favorite of mine but this 4 piece post-hardcore from Ravenna, Italy will become a staple in my rotation when I want to listen to heavier music, as Alibi is a very good release. Upon the first notes of “O.B.E.”, the first track from Alibi, I was not sure what to expect from this release or this band. However, that quickly changed with the next track, “Empty Mirrors”. Right away I was drawn in and I was wanting more. I may have listened to it 3 or 4 times. And from that point on I was interested in what was to come. And let me tell you these guys did not disappoint. The next track. “Demons” was just as infectious as the first and left me wanting more. I soon forgot I was listening in order to review the album. I also happened to be at work and I was caught bopping my head a few times. My coworkers are used to this from me as I listening to a lot of music at work. Anyways moving on, the instrumental track, “From Within” is a nice little break and placed at a good spot on the album. The band that I can mostly compare them to is Atreyu, their good stuff anyways. You can mostly hear this on the tracks “White Light, Black Rain” and “Broken Faith”. The album ends much like how it started, a track that is somewhat bland. So what you have here is 8 good songs and 2 that are kind of just there. The thing about that is it starts with one and ends with the other. Overall this is a very solid release and I will be recommending to my friends. As I said this was my first time hearing of this group, so I’m curious about how they are received here in America. I can see them having a pretty good following here. They are one of those bands that just needs that “big break”. In this case, it would be a tour. I hope that happens for them, as I would like to see them in the states. RM
Wednesday 13 - Condolences American musician Wednesday 13 (aka Joseph Poole) has been around for nearly two decades whether in the form of other music projects or as a solo artist, but new album ‘Condolences’ is set to be his most terrifying and best work to date. The album also marks the first release via new label Nuclear Blast and is his seventh offering, so is this lucky number seven? ‘Last Rites' sets the scene in an eerie and suspenseful fashion before the first single ‘What The Night Brings' swings and swaggers in a gloriously dark and creepy manner. The effects used help to give it that well known and expected horror edge but with a straight up modern metal sound. This is a great alternative anthemic offering, especially with singalong lyrics such as “In the night there are bad things, that you can’t understand, an abomination a devil commands” and “no one knows what the night brings”. This is an instant fan favourite. New killer single ‘Blood Sick’ is a great transition song between the old and new sound of Wednesday 13, with a bizarre and horror theme vibe coming through, and exhibits brilliant dark lyrics as always. This is dangerously and infectiously catchy. It is hard not to be allured by this. ‘Good Riddance’ takes a more serious front with dominating guitars and a slick guitar solo, along with nice tempos, and brilliant gravelly vocals – this is a soaring number that is deep and dark. ‘Cruel To You’ fits in well amongst tracks such as ‘Blood Sick’ and possesses the older fun punk horror sound but with an old school heavy metal hint. This fast song will easily get you pumped up and will be a great live song for sure. Again this is extremely melodic like all these devious offerings. ‘Omen Amen' steams ahead with a demonic bizarre voice to open before stomping riffs drive it. It has a madness running through it but it is devilishly irresistible with crazy outbursts, making it ridiculously fun but gloomy at the same time.
‘Prey For You’ is very powerful and hard hitting. Wednesday 13’s passion for all things dark is infectious and alluring, especially when delivered with such urgency and enthusiasm it’s hard not to enjoy this. Title track ‘Condolences’ is splendidly evil sounding and heavy as hell with chugging guitars and hushed sinister vocals that add to the macabre feel, especially given the context and lyrics. This is one very atmosphere epic hellish track. Final song ‘Death Infinity’ has a dark and almost ethereal ambience, with deep lyrics and meaning, exploring the possibilities of an afterlife, giving it a more positive spin and coming full circle, through the themes and stages surrounding death. This is a very clever and fitting way to end the album, both in terms of concept and musically. This is a fascinating and wonderful album, even though it’s weird and puts you on edge it has a dark charm which is utterly tempting and aided by Wednesday 13’s foreboding lyrics which add to the albums depth and help to explore all the themes of death. It is a very personal, dark and violent album that embraces all the best elements of his past releases as well as offering something a bit different, having a straighter metal edge to surround the horror sounds. Even through the terror and sorrow, he manages to inject some more playful songs and some hints of hope, with plenty of untraditional metal anthems throughout, giving it the right balance. This is without a doubt some of his finest and most essential material to date. CL
Incubus - 8 American alt-rockers Incubus from California are back after a six-year gap between albums following their last release ‘If Not Now, When?' and their eighth anticipated album, simply named ‘8' to mark this. To kick the album off in true rock style is the powerful ‘No Fun’, which is very melodic and has an instant Incubus sound to it, with a more playful feel to it also. Frontman Brandon Boyd is on point with his powerful and flawless vocals, getting things off to a great start… Keeping up the momentum is first single ‘Nimble Bastard’ which is unusual, with great rhythms and transitions and has a brilliant angsty vibe. The two opening songs are brilliant additions to the band's back catalogue but after these, there are still some really good moments, some odd ones, and some just not needed like the mildly theatrical and comical interlude ‘When I Became A Man' which tries to add to the mix of weirdness and experimentalism throughout, it does however give it some more character and boisterous charm so perhaps it does add something. There are some other highlights on the album such as ‘Love In A Time Of Surveillance' which has an ambient and spacy sound to it, a great balance between old and new Incubus. This is dynamic and kooky, which is a fitting way to describe this album and just Incubus in general. Final song ‘Throw Out The Map’ is atmospheric and large with random tempos and outbursts which are something they do well and seems the perfect closer for the album. Overall this album is compelling and dynamic, with interesting and bizarre experimentalism that you welcome and expect from Incubus, for the most part, their offbeat odd sounds work. The album is very well produced and there are some brilliant hits to add to your collection such as ‘Nimble Bastard' and ‘No Fun'. The album sees them try some new things, without losing their signature sound and has a sense of newly injected energy. CL
At The Drive-In – In-ter a-li-a It’s certainly been a wild career for At The Drive-In. From widespread celebrated success, especially 2000s ‘Relationship Of Command’, to a nasty break-up only a year after, to various side-projects from most of the members, to their first reunion in 2012 which spawned an incredibly disappointing set at Reading festival that year, to their second break-up and now, finally, their follow-up to ‘Relationship Of Command’, released a mere seventeen years later. Unfortunately it isn’t all good news on that front. ‘In-ter a-li-a’, as well as having a name that makes sub-editors across the country start looking longingly at the top of high-rise buildings, is far from the perfect album that many were hoping would consolidate the At The Drive-In “final reunion”. There’s certainly still some of the ATDI we know and love here and there, but it feels more like a band that spent their entire childhood listening to ATDI rather than the genuine article themselves. The insane guitar lines and off-kilter time signatures are all but gone, only appearing every now and then as a homage to the band of the past. The main problem that is the root cause of this is the absence of guitarist Jim Ward on this album. His guitar writing and gruff vocal delivery would have made this album much better than it is. Despite all of this, ‘In-ter a-li-a’ is not a total disaster. There are occasional glimpses of, if not ATDI at their best, then at least a band making quite enjoyable music. ‘Continuum’ is a good song in its own right, a little repetitive (as much of the album is) but full of enough catchy vocal hooks from Cedric Bixler to make a good, solid rock song. In fact there are many vocal hooks throughout the album, chiefly on ‘Governed By Contagions’ and ‘Call Broken Arrow’ that turn what would otherwise have been a bit of a dreary listen into an album with occasional stand-out moments of brilliance. ‘In-ter a-li-a’ is far from the perfect album that many were hoping from a reunited At The Drive-In. It’s occasionally a bit turgid, it’s quite repetitive and it gets to be a real slog towards the end. But there are moments that do make you think that there’s life in the old girl yet. AL
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 ‘Decimate’ is one of their heaviest, featuring crashing drums and relentless riffage, topped off with fierce growls from impressive vocalist, James Dawson. A crushing way to kick things off. Infectiously catchy, ‘Walk Through The Fire’ strikes straight off with perfect singalong anthemic sections. This is an extremely meticulous track that is very dominating. Whilst ‘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. Flowing on nicely next song ‘Drowning In Dreams' makes good use of effects to add more musical depth and ambience. ‘Slavery' has a brilliant stomping groove from the off, and features yet more delightful melodic surprises, not to mention far-reaching guitar work. This is an unpredictably changeable track, but never loses its fluency and shows they can be diverse whilst being consistent. Instrumental build up ‘Kurzt’ paves the way for next song, ‘Heart Of Darkness’ which has a beautiful and delicate intro, 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. The short-lived ‘Only We Can Save Us' is fuelled by anger and determination, the perfect set up for ‘Happy Never After', which is filled 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.
Saving some of their best offerings until last with ‘Icarus’, which 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. 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 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 proves 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 must hear 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
Northlane - Mesmer Australian metal outfit Northlane have released their newest adventure making it the fifth in six years so they certainly have never been stuck for ideas or lack the work ethic to churn out full lengths. Musically there are a lot of bands out there that merge metal elements with a softer cleaner side, vocals switch between singing and screaming, guitar tones reverbed to distorted. It is that distorted/metal side that I have a problem with on a lot of this album, the heavy guitars are not heavy enough it feels as though they are one level below what it should be to really add the thump needed. It is only equal to the level of weightiness that the vocals bring on a few occasions. ‘Savage’ seems to be going in a direction at the beginning with its rising electronic sounds but that is where it ends and goes back to the bands template for the rest of it. The song does have a certain bite comparatively but again I feel as though it needs to be turned up a notch. ‘Zero-One’ is the mix that did it for me the balance on this track improved my impressions because it is actually heavy and hard hitting. Production of ‘Zero-One’ is improved as on ‘Savage’ and multiple other songs it seems off where the levels seem unbalanced leading to some parts harder to hear though it shouldn’t be losing effectiveness. ‘Render’ again is one of the stronger songs because it pulls no punches even when the vocals are not harsh over the heavier music it is more captivating. Northlane seem to be at their best when they go from one extreme to the other or have one laid over the other. Mixing ultra guttural screams with the melodies you would find on a Ghost Brigade number. Northlane have made an album that does have its flaws but a number of solid tracks that keep you engaged. It just needed balancing out production wise to make it fulfil the potential it has. EJ
The Short Necked Giraffes - Almost A Six-Pack Punk mixed with the horn section of a Ska band is a foreign pairing to many. That will change for the better after giving this album a spin and you shall be a fan like me. If that isn’t a sign of a good extended play then I don’t know what is. With each of the five songs running for 3 minutes on average then the 15 minute run time is a perfect taster of what the band offer. ‘I Wanna Be a Mud Hippie’ expresses what many people want, just to be free from the shackles of stress that comes from jobs or school and finding their Hippie partner in a fusion of sax, trombone, trumpet, guitar rhythms that reflect the warmth of the islands it is inspired by.
‘All the Cool Kids’ recalls more relatable feelings of wanting to be a cool kid doing whatever silly, rebellious stuff to try achieving that status. ‘All the Cool Kids’ has a nice acoustic line, electric guitar solo, a chucky rhythm but interspersed alongside all that is the band talking like they are at the show which apparently they ‘think the band sucks, But I still wonna go’ just because the cool kids will be in attendance. Whilst also commenting on the bass player’s attractiveness, you even find out when that Kevin’s game is on at 19:30 at the begging after a belch is heard. Oh and it rounds out with a top notch cover of ‘Ghostbusters’. Ska-punk has always been a criminally underappreciated genre, The Short Necked Giraffes’ ‘Almost A SixPack’ strengthen that claim. It’s real good and happy! EJ
Our Hollow Our Home - Hartsick Melodic hardcore five piece Our Hollow, Our Home have just released their new album ‘Hartsick’ which came out on May 19th, 2017. Overall the fourteen track full length (including an acoustic version of ‘Throne to the Wolves’) has all your check boxes for melodic hardcore. Nasty breakdowns, guttural growls and screams, expressive riffs, and extremely strong drum and bass lines. ‘Throne to the Wolves’ opens with a beautiful piano sequence before it drops into the intro riff and the moving vocals that transition extremely well from the previous as a scream heavy track. The first verse of course brings the heat with the fast paced abrasiveness and growl heavy progression. Following through with this in the entire track, the balance between singing and screaming is thought out extremely well and not overdone on either part, mixed with a hint of delicate beauty from the piano. ‘Worms Wood’ immediately throws the listener in a head banger - mosh worthy - punch you in the face kind of brutality that doesn’t let up for the entire track. Being this way, this track is a personal favorite off the entire album as the chorus brings the same brutality with strong vocals and equally as strong lyrics. The tempo takes on a fast pace that suits the heaviness of both the vocals and the overall tone well. ‘Hartsick’ as the title track certainly doesn’t disappoint. As a roundabout, full circle kind of song, this track sums up the message of the band and the album as a testament to the punk and metal community; always being there for one another and understanding each other’s obscurity. Later on, at the thirteenth track, ‘Fox Blood’ takes on challenging riffs and a dense breakdown. This song especially being one that can assure a brutal pit, even though if we’re being honest with each other that’s basically all of the tracks, the bridge brings in the slightly out of tune, ripping your heart out kind of pull on the sound (which for the record has always been one of my favorite things in a heavy set song). Overall, I applaud these guys for their hard work and heavy set tunes. The fourteen track piece is a head bangers dream and brings in a lot of idiosyncrasy to the individual tracks. As a self described sucker for hardcore, and really anything “core,” I found that these guys took a refreshing take on the heavy set nature of a lot of hardcore while introducing new elements and delicate vibes to an otherwise aggressive and abrasive genre. LD
Simplefast - Apocalypse Simplefast is a five-piece thrash metal/modern metal band from Athens, Greece. ‘Apocalypse’ is their debut full-length. And it’s a nice introduction to this band. I’ll be honest I don’t listen to a lot of thrash metal or metal for that point. I did when I was younger. And younger high school me probably would have been all over this. Older me is just like “oh it’s just another metal band.” Let me say this, this is not a bad album by any means, just something I do not normally listen to. So why should you listen to this album? Well for one it has a nice throwback sound. These guys have done their homework for sure. Everything from bass to guitar to drums to vocals is straight from the early pioneers of this genre. If these cats were around during the heyday of thrash, they would be mentioned along with Anthrax and Exodus. There is no doubt about that. You want further proof, go listen to the song, ‘The Escape’. This song has all the elements that made thrash what it was and still is. Another reason you should listen to this album is, it is catchy as can be. Any band that can write catchy lyrics and catchy music are good in my book. A good example of the catchiness is ‘King of the World’. The chorus is very infectious. One of the best tracks on the album is an instrumental song called, ‘Enter the Maze’. It is on this track that you get a real taste of their musicianship. They step away from the thrash sound and it almost sounds nu-metalish. Which is not a bad thing as that genre is trying to make a comeback. Overall it’s a solid album. I think any fan of thrash metal or modern metal will be pleased with this release. It’s worth checking out. RM
Slydigs - How Animal Are You? To anyone who says that rock is dead, the appropriate answer would be to show them ‘How Animal Are You?’ by Slydigs; their most recent release on May 12th, 2017. The six track blistering piece moves with soul, pop, and jazz, all the while with a rock n roll edge and twist. The title track, ‘How Animal Are You?’ captures the essence of rock n roll as perfectly as your dad’s favorite old school vinyl. promising not only a clap worthy live set but also a tune for everyone who digs raw electric guitar and timeless vocals. ‘Give it Up Brother’ takes a more upbeat approach, with a catchy progression and driving riffs. Channeling old school tunes and retro jams, these guys are turning back the clock with their riffs, a new age twist mixed in. ‘To Catch A Fading Light’ was a personal favorite, as it brought in vulnerable acoustic riffs and some hints of piano that make this song have a hint of a country vibe with a hardened edge. Combined with lyrical content that paints a picture of learning through experience and letting life take you on its journey, this song hit home for me as not only a relatable track but also a beautiful piece. Rough vocals and delicate notes mesh flawlessly, as smooth as a porcelain doll. ‘Suburban Confinement’ follows the latter, with a rough and tumble, walking riff that sets the stage for a banger of a track; a strong choice in terms of track placement to come after an emotion riddled tune. Challenging ideals of society, this song takes on a more abrasive stance which is reflected in both the lyrics and the sound. An old school sounding classic rock n roll song, this song would make for a fantastic show opener in its hypnotic and minor key nature. To round out the EP, ‘The Kids Feel Underrated’ takes the last spot. Opening with piano notes and chords, and vulnerable vocals, the song then moves into adding some acoustic influences before progressing into a swinging, strong stance, power track. As one of the strongest tracks on the EP in its subtle sound yet outspoken intensity that packs a punch in the buildup to the chorus. These guys have put out a slammer of an EP! LD
The Young Vines - Habits + Heartbreak One would think by now I would have learned not to judge a record by my first few listens. You see a few of my all-time favorite records I did not enjoy at first, albums such as ‘Around The Fur’ by The Deftones, ‘Tell All Your Friends’ by Taking Back Sunday, ‘Black Sails In The Sunset’ by AFI and most recently ‘Old Bones’ by Broadside. All four of these albums upon first listen I was not a fan. I just was not feeling them. But there was something that led me back to all of them and years later, and they are now all favorites of mine. I am not saying ‘Habits + Heartbreak’ by The Young Vines will become an all-time favorite, who knows, it may. Right now I’m just saying I almost missed out on a really good album. After three listens to the EP I thought it was a good album. One of those, “not my cup of tea but I can respect what they are doing” albums. And I was ok with that. However when I went to listen the next day I was instantly taken by it. I enjoyed it. And I couldn’t wait to hear the next song. The EP starts with a nice little instrumental intro. It’s very soothing and it helps set the mood/pace for what you are about to hear. It also just happens to segue into the next track, ‘Wild Lines’. It is on this track that I first hear a Kings of Leon feel to them. So for the rest of the EP, that’s what I hear, an Indie Kings of Leon. ‘Ride’ is the next track and it very might be my favorite. It’s the one that I catch myself singing or humming the most. It’s very catchy. ‘Habits + Heartbreak’ is the next track and here the pace of the EP slows down a bit. It’s a good midway point song. Another favorite of mine on the EP is ‘High’. This one showcases the vocals of Caleb James very well. It’s one of those songs that you can just get lost in, sit back close your eyes and bob your head. The album ends with ‘String Me Alone’, the strongest track. The delivery on this song is amazing. This is the one I would recommend to new listeners of this band. It showcases what this band is truly capable of. Every single instrument is on point. The cohesiveness of this song is what bands dream of achieving. Overall this is a very solid release. One that I will keep in my rotation. One that I feel may show up later in the year on my year end lists that I like to make. It really is that good. I’m always thrilled to discover new bands and this is one that I’m glad I did. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did. RM
Sorrow Plagues - Homecoming As far as atmospheric black metal goes - I think I would definitely not have expected such a masterful project to come out of Sorrow Plagues. David Lovejoy out of the United Kingdom is the mastermind behind the depressive, remedial atmospheric project which is inspired and produced by him start to finish. With the shortest track coming in at seven minutes and eleven seconds, all of these pieces are aural puzzle pieces that come together as one whole mural of audio. Most noteworthy being the opening track, second track, and the last track, we can start to begin to piece together the overall picture. ‘Departure’ begins with a earthly toned, settling beginning that makes a flawless transition to the “black metal” element of the track. Perfectly expressive, and unmatched in surreality, this song sets the tone for the rest of the 6 track EP in its dystopian-like vibes. ‘Disillusioned’ as the longest track of the EP coming in at ten minutes and three seconds starts us off with solid drum lines and a slightly faster and different pace to the setting. Opening the world into the beauty of loathing, suffering, and all that is negative, there seems to be a bigger and moreover more succinct picture that needs to be seen. Truly you don’t start to see the beauty in pain until you have suffered yourself or walked through the valley alongside someone there, but through this EP it becomes easier to understand what the world is like through the eyes of someone who struggles or has struggled. Lastly, is the title track of the EP, ‘Homecoming’. Beginning with sixteen seconds of silence followed by echoing, water-like, drowning notes, the last track brings the EP full circle with its melancholy, flowing notes of subtle agony. Bringing in saxophone influences in the first five minutes, the track then moves on to add a swelling bridge and triumphant finish. This entire EP is highly recommended as an emotive, moving piece that legitimately gave me goosebumps all over my arms. There is not a single thing that I would change about it, as a harmonious audio painting that is as revolutionary as it is wholesome and full circle. LD
Srednep - Social Masks As an industrial metal project focused on exposing humankind and its final days, ‘Social Masks’ transports the listener into an era seemingly out of World War Three and a post apocalyptic world. Using electronic influences as well as mind boggling riffs and skillful drumming that pulls the entire piece together, the thirteen track album moves to paint a bigger surreal photo on the digital age of today that explores “dissonant landscapes.” ‘The Formidable End (Intro)’ acts as a setting placer for the viewer, moving you to a haunting, tormented, chilling piece that left me personally with goosebumps. ‘Cyberspeed’ has a grappling hook and a uber dense beginning that differs from the rest of the album with the use of monotone vocals and repetition that express the monotony of our current society. Combined with aggressive bass lines that will probably break the subwoofer in my car, this track certainly wound up as one of my favorites; fast pacedballs to the wall-riffs, one of my most beloved sounds in the world. Following ‘Cyberspeed’ was ‘The Sinner 2.0’ which throws the fast paced-balls to the wall-riffs right in the intro to the track. Adding in elements of haze and quiet dystopia, then slamming into another wall of death worthy bout of aggression, ‘The Sinner 2.0’ captures the overall essence of ‘Social Masks’ and also Srednep as a band. Overall as an entirety, the industrial metal take on a portrayal of a dystopian society is a wonderfully complex and fascinating subject to explore through music. Although there were some tracks like ‘R3born’ and ‘Ww3 2.0’ that weren’t necessarily my cup of tea being that they were a little too industrial without a balance of finesse in some ways, overall I think the concept of this project is dope and I’m stoked to hear more from them. LD
The Maine - Love Little Lonely The Maine has been kicking around since 2007, an alternative pop-rock five piece from Tempe, AZ. From their early days with pop punk influences to now, with their most recent release of ‘Lovely Little Lonely’ on March 4th, 2017. The twelve track piece ranges between sweet love songs, to more textbook examples of The Maine’s signature pop-rock sound. Opening with ‘Don’t Come Down’, and ‘Bad Behavior’, the album starts off right with catchy melodic songs that not only are ear worms but channel a sound reminiscent of a summertime road trip and good memories. While they are not “bubblegum” pop oriented, the rock element of these songs shine through and combine flawlessly with the seamlessly introduced pop elements to make the mark of The Maine. With tracks like ‘Taxi’ and ‘Do You Remember? (The Other Half of 23)’, the album rounds out with a balanced sound that again blends pop and rock well, as well as showcasing the knack for mastering simplicity these guys have finessed. With ‘Taxi’ specifically, this track does an extremely good job of stripping down in the verses to just the necessities which allows the chorus to shine through even more. As a personal favorite to this album, this track does an excellent job as a turning point in the album to wrap up the overall sound into one and sum up the essence of this release. Continuing on in the track list, ‘I Only Wanna Talk To You’, and ‘How Do You Feel?’ wrap up the album. These songs focus on a more heavily “rock” influenced sound, with the raw and vulnerable nature of these tracks finishing out the full length extremely well. More noteworthy, the third, seventh, and eleventh tracks of the album are so dubbed ‘Lovely’, ‘Little’, and ‘Lonely’. The first being 34 seconds, the second being a minute and thirteen seconds, and the third being two minutes and thirty two seconds, it’s no coincidence that the album was so named ‘Lovely Little Lonely’. As far as the entirety of the album goes, the piece captures the beauty in life despite its despairs and its downs; a great example of growth as artists and a well put together album. LD
The Five Hundred - The Veil The Five Hundred is a five piece metal band from Nottingham, UK. These guys have been kicking it since 2014. So they are still fairly new. If you have never heard of them, then this release is a good introduction to them. ‘The Veil’ is their second release and if it’s any indication, it will not be their last. If you like your metal loud, fast, and chaotic, then this is for you. This EP has everything that metal fans like in their music. There is even a little breakdown in ‘The Rush’. Upon first listen I am transported to the late 90s, early 2000s. I can see them on a tour with Fear Factory, or Spineshank, or Chimaira. However as much as they would have fit in then, they still have a sound that is relevant today. They would do well with Carnifex or Whitechapel, or even an opening spot on Summer Slaughter. My point is this, this a band that needs to be heard. Another aspect that sticks out about this release is how technical it is. That very well may help them in the long run. Because their sound is diverse it will help them land more tours. If you want to hear how technical they can get, then look no further than the track, ‘The Veil’. The guitars in this song are insane. I mean you play an eight string guitar? There is no wonder the guitars are so sick, you have to be a beast in order to tame an eight string. The EP ends with ‘The Veil, Pt. II’. It’s a nice relaxing closing number. This is also where you get a good taste of the vocals. Overall this is good EP, again if metal is your poison, then I would highly suggest giving this release a listen. Just know it is an EP, so it clocks in at around 15 minutes. It’s over before you know it. RM
Moovalya - Kings (EP) If you are the sort of person that judges an album/extended play off the first song then the ‘King’ EP is not for you as the opener is abysmal. What kills it are the vocals they’re beyond annoyingly whiney, I am not getting mistaken for nasally here. Just imagine your 13 year old self throwing massive stereotypical teenage tantrum then times that by ten and that is what you are given on this song. It cannot be excused as just a punk style either it is simply terrible. Gladly the later two songs are an improvement ‘Flatline’ is really enjoyable and instrumentally strong with a great guitar throughout. Vocally it veers away from what was thankfully on the opener resulting in it being listenable. Moovalya do have a lot of attitude that is undeniable but that can only take them so far, it is safe to say this EP does not elevate them to kings of the punk world. EJ
Drama Club Rejects - Self-titled Drama Club Rejects’ self titled long play is on the less serious, loud side of things leaning heavily on a slightly 1980s hair metal feel the classic metal of that era championed theatrical visuals with technical playing. You got an image of how they looked/the members eccentric personality when you were listening to them. A similar thing happens with this eponymous. Oddly enough despite the band’s name Dram Club Rejects the sound they have chiselled out for themselves has a grand somewhat dramatic feel to the vocals. Further magnifying that are the titles of some of the tracks that make up the album for example ‘Homesick Alien’ which is a more reserved song, slower less distorted tones, a warped effect is applied to the vocals giving it even more of that extra-terrestrial flavouring. Side note the way that the word space is sung in the same way that every shoddy David Bowie impersonator sings it (see Flight of the Concords’ David Bowie in Space for reference).
Other tracks like ‘Hate Song’ and ‘King of 2nd Chances’ are built on guitar rhythms that follow the standard structure you find on a good number of rock songs, they do it no better or worse either they are fine. Lyrically the band doesn’t try to do anything deep or meaningful as that does not fit this style of music. They are throw away admittedly but neither harm nor propel songs to a higher level. There is a thick layer of cheese lathered on this record so it inevitably won’t be for everyone, but if you want a fun, run of the mill hour or so of rock music then yes, give this album a listen! EJ
Between The Lines - Self-titled First of all let’s talk about that epic intro on ‘Rumour’ the opening track of this 7track album by Between The Lines… The song starts with some delicate guitar picking and general soundscapey vibes then before you know it you’ve got this insanely catchy guitar riff looping around you and your speakers underneath some tool-esque vocals and drum parts. This is the sort of song I will hear my metal head fiancé listening to in the study when he’s getting ready for work, not necessarily something I would listen to off my own back but I can definitely appreciate how appealing the heavier side of this song is. At points in the second track ‘All Free’ I was getting a real Jim Morrison vibe from the lead vocals, which I was more than happy to sit with. Interestingly enough the lead guitar also began to take a psychedelic sound at certain parts too which I also loved! I felt the longer songs in the album however were just that…perhaps too long? Each section was well written and delivered; I just felt for me personally the impact was lost a little due to the length of the song as a whole. For example ‘For Your Sanity’ I absolutely loved the lyrical vibe and content alongside the slightly disjointed musicality of the other instruments, but I felt if it had been packaged up into a slightly shorter song it would have made it that bit more enjoyable. I think as a heavy rock record, this band have delivered a solid foundation for themselves and their fan base with each song giving some real gems of head banging gold and drum breakdowns blowing the listeners socks off. The only thing that perhaps made me as a listener not connect with so well was as previously mentioned the song length of various tracks. Long songs definitely isn’t a bad thing either, I just felt that perhaps doing only 2 songs below the 4 minute mark on a 7 track album to be a bit too much. But would I recommend this album to someone who I know is really into this genre? Yes, I absolutely would. AW
68 - Two Parts Viper For a band that are only a two piece, they make one hell of a racket, fuzz fuelled and spitting venom without mercy. It’s groovy and swaggers its way from song to song, despite the thickness of the fizzing distortion there is a lot of melody. ‘Whether Terrified or Unafraid’ just sways among the explosion of noise, the words being rasped. Where do you even start with ‘2 parts Viper’? The fact that it is a two piece? That they have a sound that would floor an elephant? How about that these are just seriously good songs, able to take you on a ride through sonic exhilaration with constant ups and downs
There is a certain amount of this that takes me back to the early 90s with the angst-ridden sound of grunge and more particularly Nirvana and the great Kurt Cobain, ‘Without Any Words’ could have found its way on ‘In Utero’ nicely. There really isn’t anything quite like this out there, at the moment, or if there is I’ve missed it, it is a super charged explosion of an album. One that if there is any justice out there will see them hit it big. Josh Scogin left his mark on metalcore over the years, he and Michael McLellan could be about to stamp a bigger one with 68. AN
Alvarez Kings - Somewhere Between I was really surprised when the opening song of this album began, as first impressions from the band’s name led me to believe it would be a heavier rock album but as it turns out Alvarez Kings have given us a 2017 summer belter in the form of ‘Somewhere Between’. The opening track ‘Cold Conscience’ blesses the ears with hooky guitar lines behind melodic smooth vocals delivered by lead vocalist Simon Thompson The track has hit number one written all over it and could sit quite easily as a tune playing at summer parties with guests holding their phones up to the speakers exclaiming, “I’m just going to shazam this track so I can play it in my car later!” As the album progresses each track delivers the alternative indie sound that this band have clearly spent a lot of time working on and developing. Each vocal harmony is given consideration and care, delicately woven together by each musician involved. I also really enjoyed listening to the production used on both the electronic and acoustic drum sounds. One moment you would be sent back to an 80s pop record with the electronic samples, and the next minute you were slammed back to the 2000s like you were listening to a huge stadium rock band blasting your ears away with the deep solid tones of a single bass drum. After a couple of bigger dance numbers, Alvarez Kings deliver a more slowed down song in the form of ‘Run From You’. This song genuinely blew me away. Initially I was just really enjoying the steady pace, heartfelt vocals and that 80s drum vibe again, but then at the half-way mark when that heavier guitar riff comes in…yes! We’re standing in that stadium again, impressed by the ability of these musicians to make a relatively simple guitar part sound so damn good! This album has all the elements I love…80s vibes and epic guitar parts, all neatly tied up underneath some stunning harmonies and vocal parts. With the UK’s serious lack of nice weather during the summer months these are the albums we need to make us feel sunny and warm, despite standing outside with a long trench coat and umbrella. Check this album out and let the glowing tones of this seriously talented bunch of musicians keep your good mood alive regardless of what that darn weather is doing outside your window! AW
Motionless In White - Graveyard Shift By all accords, Motionless in White is a band I should be a fan of. A band I should have listened to by now. My only experience with them is I watched two songs of their set at a festival a few years back and I was not impressed in the least bit so I went and sat down under a tree, as no one else worth watching was playing at that time. So back to the first sentence. Why should I be a fan? It’s really simple, I am a fan of bands that have a gothic influence. Whether image or lyrics. And their singer and I like a lot of the same bands. He at times also reminds me of Davey Havok, my all-time favorite front man. But for some reason, I have never given them a chance, until now. ‘Graveyard Shift’ is the fourth album by this metal unit from Scranton, PA. Right away I am transported to 1999. ‘Rats’ the first track is a great mix of Nu-Metal from that era and the band Orgy. It is a mix that I enjoy a great deal. At that point, I thought, “Have I been missing out?” I then proceeded to play that track again. After 4 listens to the first track I finally went on to track 2, ‘Queen for Queen’. And yep I was still enjoying this album. As I don’t listen to the radio, so I’m not sure if this track is on the radio. If it isn’t, it needs to be. ‘Queen for Queen’ is a radio rock hit waiting to happen. ‘Necessary Evil’ is my favorite track on the album, as the Nu-Metal King himself, Jonathan Davis from Korn makes an appearance. And it’s something straight out of Korn’s playbook. From there the album continues to dive deeper into the nu-metal pool. This is a release that would have fit perfectly with the heyday of the genre. Ozzfest would have been their summer home, no doubt about it. As for now, today. It will stand up against most metal that is out there. As they are very marketable and nu-metal is trying to itch its way back into the mainstream. And this one of the bands that very well could be at the front of that revolution. RM
Paramore - After Laughter The release of Paramore’s ‘After Laughter’ is making waves in the scene, with their roots in pop punk and now bringing in indie- alternative influences to their new material. Featuring singles ‘Hard Times’ and ‘Told You So’, the twelve track full length is channeling a light, Carribbean-like, airy tone that is reminiscent of pop-reggae mixed with indie energy and punk passion. Hayley Williams never ceases to amaze me with her versatility behind the microphone, however I’m not sure if I’m fond of ‘After Laughter’ in the way I enjoyed their early punk hits. Certainly the new album is meant to be distinctive, and moves in the direction that we saw from their last release, Paramore: Self Titled Deluxe in 2013. After having admittedly taken a hiatus as a Paramore listener, the album nonetheless jarred me from the early days with tracks like ‘Misery Business’. Taking a pop approach to each song and forgoing the hard hitting riffs and vocals, ‘After Laughter’ shows true development and growth in their sound as artists. The indie-pop take on a full length (while showing full growth and development) also had its drawbacks as the entire album seemed to blur together a little, as if each track was quite close in sound to the next and the last. Overall I would give this album a 6/10 because of the close similarity; one of my biggest pet peeves is when there doesn’t seem to be enough differentiation between tracks on an album, especially one on the lengthier side such as this one. However, I can appreciate the path that this band has taken to come to this product, and note that the indie-pop approach is certainly one that I think will do well with them in the future to come. LD
Halflives - Empty Rooms Modene, Italy’s, Halflives, dropped their debut album ‘Empty Rooms’ on April 14, 2017. The alternative-pop five piece have already racked up a solid fan base who seek their blend of emotional lyrics, delicate vocals, and gripping tracks that use hints of EDM influences; a distinct flavor that shines through on the album. To kick off, Empty Rooms begins with ‘Lone Wolf’ that has a captivating beginning that is more true to that of a pop-indie song rather than alternative rock but the taste of rock comes in at the beginning of the verse. As the first track to their 8 song premiere, ‘Lone Wolf’ certainly showcases their identity and overall sound well to the uncanny bland of subtle heaviness mixed with a gripping, and strong female lead. To follow, ‘Burn’ rounds out the second track of the album. We get a little more of a glimpse of the pop and EDM influences through here, with a great up and down to the song overall; an aurally pleasing experience. The album finishes out with ‘Mayday’, ‘Echo’, ‘The Sickness’, ‘Half Alive’, ‘Empty Room’, and ‘Collide’. ‘Echo’, being admittedly my favorite took a lead in its ballad-like tempo and ear worm natured lyrics, with a pop take on what is a otherwise a heartfelt, melancholy song. As far as the album goes, ‘Echo’ is the most distinct, placing it in the middle of the album but also leaving the listener wanting to sing the chorus over and over and possibly pretend you have an audience filled stadium, rather than a shampoo bottle and soap. ‘The Sickness’ takes on a deeper level of quiet simplicity through its intro and notably darker lyrics; a great transition to the upswing of the album to contrast ‘Echo’. All of these songs have remarkably catchy melodies, and lyrics that have obviously been a product of long hours of hard work. To wrap up, ‘Collide’ finishes out the eight track album on a strong note as a closure filled, rocking heavier set song that doesn’t focus on frills but rather wondrous simplicity. However through the last three tracks of the album I felt as if something was amiss, which at that point I could see where a listener may start to feel as if the tracks are sounding too similar; crossing the line between establishing artist identity and similarity. I would imagine for someone looking to get into heavy music, but isn’t sure where to start or is learning to like heavy set music, Halflives would make a great listen. Being that ‘Empty Rooms’ doesn’t emanate a aggression riddled vibe, yet has incorporates some of those elements into their pop/EDM-like touches, Halflives brings a whole new meaning to the alt-pop-rock scene. LD
Luxury Stranger - Darkness Falls Upon the Light As far as timeless vocals, and innovative redefinition goes in the world of punk, Luxury Stranger brought a whole new meaning to their self described genre of “evil indie”. The UK based alternative-progressive - evil indie act recently released their 9 track album, ‘Darkness Falls Upon The Light’. Focused around the songwriting of Simon York, the group is “considered to be artistically 'Jekyll and Hyde' - a methodical architect in the studio and a passionate powerful monster on the stage.” Darkness Falls Upon The Light opens with ‘Another Intoxicated Release’, a 90s garage punk light peeking out from underneath a steady drum intro and chilling haunting tone of vocals. Following is ‘Dismissal’, which is the track that secures the ideal that Luxury Stranger is dealing with a vibe that plays on old school punk with new age techniques. The third track, ‘Wash’ brings in more of a gripping intro, and a tone that would set the stage extremely well for a hot summer festival day. Albeit a little jarring, ‘Wash’ takes on a darker lyrical content yet combined with an upbeat tempo makes for a distinct song and is the first instance we can see the term “evil indie” come into play with a deceitfully dark content and seemingly innocent pace. ‘A Triumph of the Heart’ touched a Brand New-esque intro, where the vibe was tonal, earthly and another great example of old school punk stirred in the pot with new age indie and techniques. A personal favorite is ‘When The Lady Takes The Blame’ as it’s a prime example of the capabilities of this band. A jazz feel was introduced into the intro (the first track on the album that we see this on) and quickly turned into a rich, power ballad with acoustic influences and deep, hypnotizing vocals.
‘The Real is Done’ created a utopian world, where the vocals are very classical and reminiscent to that of a baritone singer and a timeless sound that will never get old. The following track, ‘Side of the Road’ made for an excellent transition with the same distilled, timeless vibe. The album finishes out with ‘Diver’, and ‘Darkness Falls Upon The Light’. On the contrary of the entire experience as a whole, ‘Darkness Falls Upon The Light’ moves into a piano filled, quiet space that was certainly unexpected but welcomed. As the final hurrah to this album, this song did especially well being the wrap up because it is so starkly different and easily remembered, as well as being the title track. ‘Darkness Falls Upon The Light’ will be follow up to their 2010 release, ‘Commitment and Discipline’. LD
He Is Legend - Few As stonking an opening to an album as I’ve heard in a while, ‘Air Raid’ is a riff fest that takes no prisoners and sets things up for an album that marks the latest chapter in the career of He Is Legend. They have changed and evolved over the years but seem to be returning to an earlier sound, albeit in a more polished, yet no less brutal manner. Between the opener and following ‘Sand’ they have a mighty impressive start that makes it hard to turn away, they are grabbing a hold and delivering knock out punches, the way the sound swirls it makes for a psychedelic quality among the ball churning riffs. Vocally, things move from gruff and hard hitting to moments of tender and the blend makes for some nice dynamics as the riffs continue to swirl with healthy tastes of their Southern metal roots. It makes for a more satisfying listen and fits better than the raucous screams of earlier albums, which of course worked and fitted with their sound at the time but would simply not work as well with these songs with the mesh of southern, metal and in the case of ‘Alley Cat’ distinctly bluesy. ‘Few’ sits up there with the best work that He Is Legend have produced so far, this one is a banger. AN
Steel Panther - Lower The Bar There are not as many bands who have had as meteoric a rise as Steel Panther, ‘Feel the Steel’ turned them into house hold names (so to speak), it tapped into things that the glam rock bands hinted at but never went into intimate detail. Steel Panther went further and in graphic, hysterical detail. The best part was that the lyrics were accompanied by a band that, talking strictly musically was f*cking outstanding. The album was a triumph. Fast forward to 2017 and ‘Lower the Bar’, which unfortunately does lower the bar in terms of the standards, the gritty and filthy lyrics remain but now rather than finding me in fits of laughter with tears down the cheeks, it is more a smirk here and there. Musically it isn’t up to the standards they have set, they have had masterful hooks in the past and this one, bar one or two moments, doesn’t cut it. Exceptions come in the form of ‘Poonatang Boomerang’, which actually simplifies compared to the over saturated of other songs such as ‘Anything Goes’ and ‘Goin in the Backdoor’, which despite the title, isn’t as filth ridden as I’d hoped. ‘She’s Tight’ is a great song, a cover of Cheap Trick and bringing Robin Zander for a guest appearance, Steel Panther are masters of covers and making it their own and they have done just that with this one. Perhaps the joke has run its course for me but this is a band that seems to have more fuel in the tank. AN
The Flatliners - Invisible Light A band that have been under rated over the years, the Flatliners return with their fifth album since 2002, it is a tight knit record full of punchy, anthemic songs. It doesn’t start well though, the intro to ‘Mammals’ is overly long and comes close to losing momentum before they even start that is however remedied with the immediately catchy ‘Hang My Head’ and it is all forgotten by the time ‘Nicotine Lips’ takes them into full flow with a mile minute groove and nicely worked backing vocals filtering in with the lead. ‘Indoors’ changes tact with a song that is full of differing style, punk, melodic rock and hints of reggae, it brings with it a catchy swing, with ‘Human Party Trick’ they have perhaps the song of the album, lyrically and musically it is a gem. Powerful with themes of hope and regret and a crushing ending. The album makes for entertaining listening, tight and at times enthralling, it isn’t perfect but fans of this style will love it and it is great listen for casual or new fans.AN
From Eden To Exile - Modern Disdain It’s not as if Eden to Exile’s existence is not known in the metal community, they’ve won their fair share of competitions and this album has been a long time coming for a lot of fans all over the UK. The impressive vocals on the album are provided by Matt Dyne, of the album he has said; "we've taken our time and sweated bullets nailing this album to the point where everyone in the band can honestly look each other in the eye and confidently state this is the best of us, right now." This particularly shows on the opening track ‘Gospel Untold’, everything seems to be on point. It’s evident that a lot of effort has been put into this album and almost manages to capture the insane live shows they have become renowned for. A memorable moment on this album is the intro for ‘Victim’, the guitar solo is a thing of beauty and even when the insane screaming begins it doesn’t engulf the intricate guitar playing that’s being displayed. What is brilliant about this album is that there seems to be no off button, from the moment ‘Gospel Untold’ begins to the very end of ‘Sentiment’ it seems like a faster ride than being in the Daloreon with Doc Brown. Exile to Eden’s debut album ‘Modern Disdain’ is everything that’s come to be expected of this up and coming metal group. Their guitar work is a fascination to listen to and the vocals seem to be on another level compared. These guys are going to dominate when this album drops. RO
Freeze The Atlantic - The People Are Revolting Freeze the Atlantic’s third album is a stunner, the alternative rock act have come back with some of their best work. The very foundation of this album lies with the intricate work from each and every member and culminates into a masterpiece. ‘El Nitro’ kicks off this album and it’s a nearly two minute instrumental that demonstrates the kind of sound these guys are going for. It’s an easy listen that builds slowly until it fades into the rock anthem ‘Annotate My Fate’, the chorus for this song is one that will get stuck in your head. Freeze the Atlantic were born when two other bands (Hundred Reasons and Reuben) decided to take hiatuses. They manage to capture the essence of alternative rock with their heavy vocals and classic anthems to boot.
Titular track ‘The People Are Revolting’ is an all out solid rock and roll track, the chorus is brilliantly designed and the way the melodies bounce off one another is astounding. The vocals are a mixed bag on this album, at some points lead singer Liv Puente sounds like Fightstar’s Charlie Simpson and at others has certain qualities of Josh Homme. Freeze the Atlantic manage to incorporate that old style of rock and fuse it with some of the modern day massive acts we all know and love. RO
New Found Glory - Makes Me Sick It’s a marvel to see how music has changed in the past 20 years, I was only eight years old when four scruffy guys came bursting onto the scene with their happy go lucky attitude towards partying and girls. Of course New Found Glory were an act that were destined for greatness, however perhaps their moment in the sun has come and gone. The single ‘Happy Being Miserable’ was a good choice to release by the pop punk icons, this is a song that would definitely reach out to today’s generation as well as the older New Found Glory fans. There are some moments on this album where NFG have truly gone above and beyond their usual sound. The opening sequence on ‘The Sound of Two Voices’ is almost reminiscent of ‘Under the Sea’ and seems to be a recurring theme throughout the track. I find the opening track ‘Your Jokes Aren’t Funny’ hilariously ironic. The lyrics state “your jokes aren’t funny anymore to me, I’m not the same person I used to be.” This is how I feel about the ageing New Found Glory. Your songs aren’t good anymore to me, unfortunately. During a lot of this album I was struck with Deja vu, it seems as if this band haven’t really truly ever grown up. The formula for every song seems to be the same for all their other previous songs of the past twenty years. The acts that were influenced by them have gone further because of their ability to adapt and change however it seems as if NFG are stuck in the past and will always be there. ‘Makes Me Sick’ is a good pop punk album it just feels like it’s all been done before and this is where New Found Glory have failed to make an impact with their latest offering. RO
The Dirty Nil - Minimum R&B If you ever hunger for the old days of punk, when music was harsh in sound, lyrics and style then look no further than Canadian outfit Dirty Nil. This is the best album to try and get into these guys as it’s a complete collection of their early singles and EP tracks. The opening ‘Fuckin’ Up Young’ resonates with the classic punk scene and sound and demonstrates what this band are about. The choppy instruments combined with the raw vocals makes for a fantastic track, originally released in 2011 it’s got a makeover for 2017 and thankfully it still holds that D.I.Y aspect. It’s clear this band have had a lot of influences, the likes of ‘Hate is a Stone’ and ‘Verona Lung’ are grunge pieces that would even allow the undisputed king of Grunge Kurt Cobain to give his approval. There are some moments on this album that are totally “out there” even for a punk EP. ‘Little Metal Baby Fist’ would be one of these moments. It’s almost as if all members lose their collective “shit” and thrash about like bulls in china shops. The ending result is the singer screaming “you are a toy” over and over. In all honesty it’s a 2 minute screamfest but sounds incredible. This is a band who aren’t afraid to take risks or stay true to their origins. A lot of bands are scared to do that now, it’s refreshing to see. ‘Guided by Vices’ has the steady tempo and beat of a standard indie rock song all the way through until it kicks in at the end and essentially fucks shit up. The final track ‘Cinnamon’ is a little slower than the rest of the album but holds the most important message of all, especially within the punk scene. “You can be pissed off if you want to.” The Dirty Nil manage to incorporate that brand of punk that was lost so long ago to the different sub-genres it’s created. Their brand of punk merged with grunge is a delight to listen to and shows that the old days aren’t dead just yet. RO
Vendetta - Pale Glow Hertfordshire natives Vendetta are on to something, they have a sound that takes in a variety of style, crushingly heavy, surprisingly rhythmic with some hook laden melodies. That is before we even get in to the frankly absurdly brilliant voice on front-woman, Megan Targett. Until the moment the vocals become a little cleaner you wouldn’t know what sex you were hearing. Not that gender should matter a toss, however with a number of established bands with female singers taking on the previously male dominated area, it is great to hear a British band with as good a metal singer. The sound is chaotic but ordered and polished, they give the impression of a seasoned band who are tight and understand their roles perfectly. Moving through strokes of Nu metal sound before crashing into death and thrash territory with a drop of metal core, they navigate the potential pitfalls well and keep it moving smoothly. Songs like ‘Martyr’ and ‘Swine’ are brutal and leave very little breathing space as they grab you by the throat and squeeze tighter. Their debut finds them laying a very solid pathway for the future, one to keep an eye out for. AN
Tigers Jaw - Spin Scranton’s Tigers Jaw are back with their 5th full length album ‘Spin’, the band has had a turbulent career thus far with changes in lineup, they always deliver an easy, catchy pop punk/indie sound. The album begins with the summery ‘Follows’ however the tracks subject matter is one of regret - “I should have listened to you when you said nothing will make this easier" - it’s a simple, pleasant start to the album. ‘Favorite’ is a shorter track, with some great melodies and a punchy instrumental, the chorus reminds me a little of Weezer. ‘June’ opens with the delicate vocals of Brianna Collins, the verses are much more catchy in what is one of the better numbers on the record. ‘Escape Plan’ showcases the band's acoustic side, the instrumental is solid but I find the lyrics lack the potency in comparison to other tracks on the album, with the exception of the two lines in the chorus. The tempo is much better in ‘Blurry Version’ which sees both vocalists take turns in what is a cool number, I’m relieved however when the guitar solo kicks in as I found myself losing interest before that interesting twist. ‘Guardian’ is one of my favourites on the album, with its huge verses, it reminds me a lot of The Dangerous Summer who share a very similar simple but mightily effective sound, this track’s chorus is probably the best on the album.
‘Bullet’ is another good track, with its varied pace and uncomplicated lyrics which unfortunately get a little repetitive, before we hear Brianna launch into ‘Brass Ring’ which is a lively number with an inclusion of the keyboard. ‘Oh Time’ is vintage Tigers Jaw with excellent melodies and a funky instrumental. ‘Same Stone’ in contrast, is stripped back and has a very poignant keyboard riff which works well with Brianna’s vocal style tinged with sadness. I’m reminded of their early works again with ‘Make It Up’ with the scratchy riff and melodic vocal style, it’s definitely one of the strongest tracks on the album, it’s one for the long term fans. It’s another great addition to a bright discography for this band, the album ends in style with ‘Window’ which has another cleverly written chorus, and will easily get fans singing along on their UK tour later this year! JP
Blink 182 - California (Deluxe Edition) Classic pop-punks Blink-182 from San Diego, CA are bringing the heat with their 28 track release of ‘California’ (Deluxe Edition). Featuring an extra eleven tracks and the acoustic rendition of ‘Bored to Death’, (in addition to the 16 track original album) the re-release brings in a new perspective to the trios sound with the addition of vocalist/guitarist Matt Skiba from Alkaline Trio who joined the act in July 2015 with the second departure of Tom DeLonge. With tracks like ‘Bored to Death’, and ‘She’s Out of Her Mind’, the piece finds ways to add touches of summertime adventuring and textbook pop punk that appeal to new listeners and long time fans. Tracks like ‘Kings of the Weekend’ and ‘The Only Thing That Matters’ channel a nostalgic sound reminiscent of ‘Dude Ranch’ era Blink-182. On the second disk, songs like ‘Misery’ and ‘Last Train Home’ take a more emotive and heartfelt approach while still incorporating the classic Blink sound. As a whole I think the second disk has a more innovative and boundary pushing vibe that the first disk doesn't necessarily have, where all of the tracks are seemingly misfits that have a home with each other.
‘Bottom of The Ocean’ was a personal favorite, with its subtly dark tone and exposed verses which used the value of strongly stated simplicity to stress a strong track with intense lyrics and a faster pace than some of the tracks. ‘6/8’ takes the same intensity to the table with underlying piano influences and an outstanding strong drum line to lead the way. ‘Long Lost Feeling’ channels a more walking pace to the same touch of aw-worthy lyrics, with a hint of remembering and heart break. Overall the entire edition (all 28 songs and its full glory) takes a new twist on the sometimes painful and unfortunate nature of life, very well reflected in each track; differentiated appropriately and showcasing the potential of the band as a punk classic on the west coast and the world. The ‘Bored to Death’ acoustic rendition took my breath away. As the original, the song is extremely catchy and the textbook formula for a hit, with a minor key to introduce the ear worm chorus. Stripping down to roots with just vocals, and an acoustic guitar, this track is truly the best way to round out this excellent release; bringing back humble beginnings and a timeless sound. LD
Employed To Serve – The Warmth Of A Dying Sun Employed To Serve are rapidly becoming one of the most celebrated extreme bands in the UK right now. Their debut album ‘Greyer Than You Remember’ was released to tumultuous applause, and its follow-up was recently streamed prerelease on The Independent no less. And what a follow-up it is. It’s only two seconds until a heavy-as-fuck drum beat comes in and guitarist Sammy Urwin’s scream cuts through the static like an aircraft carrier through a child’s paddling pool. ‘The Warmth Of A Dying Sun’ is a somewhat different beast from its predecessor. Where ‘Greyer Than You Remember’ was more in keeping with bands like Poison The Well or Botch or The Dillinger Escape Plan’s early output, ‘The Warmth Of A Dying Sun’ channels those influences, but turns them into something that is distinctly, uniquely Employed To Serve. The driving force of the album is the vocal duo of frontwoman Justine Jones and aforementioned guitarist Sammy Urwin. Jones’ caustic, pained shrieks and howls have a character about them that make Employed To Serve so recognisable, whereas Urwin’s gruffer, more traditionally “metal” screaming provides a counterpoint that comes more from grindcore and death metal than the kind of bands that Employed To Serve are usually lumped in with.
‘The Warmth Of A Dying Sun’ is an absolute stormer of an album, choc-full of grooves, frenetic riffs, white-hot fury and musical experimentation that some bands spend their entire career trying to achieve. First singles ‘Good For Nothing’ and ‘I Spend My Days (Wishing Them Away)’ bring a groovy heaviness that occasionally borders on being more accessible (if you found ‘Greyer Than You Remember’ to be too difficult, start with these tracks); the title track is a very Converge-esque, more drawn-out affair that culminates in a monstrously huge half-time section, with Urwin screaming “I bathe in the warmth of a dying sun” over and over until that becomes all you can think about; closing track ‘Apple Tree’ could have been taken from the best work of ‘Alcest’, with its slower, more serene clean vocals and guitar passage that brings the album to the most appropriate end you could think of. We haven’t even begun to scratch the surface on how well-crafted and magnificently put together ‘The Warmth Of A Dying Sun’ is. High scores are thrown around often in music journalism by people who don’t really understand the importance of them, but truly if you are a fan of heavy music in any way, you are doing yourself a disservice if you don’t listen to this album. AL
Nothing More Since the early days, Nothing More aspired to satiate music driven boredom and a DIY attitude, pushing harder every day to build themselves from the ground up. From fixing their first tour van from a raccoon ridden RV, to hand building stages for live shows, these guys brought the heat then from their passion driven musical creations, to now with their aggression riddled riffs, monstrous bass, and tribal percussion that succeeds all conventional “rock” sounds. More recently the band introduced a new tool to their live set, so dubbed “The Scorpion.” A master joystick for the overall effect and sound of the band, “The Scorpion” sets Nothing More apart from others by acting as a synthesizer/home control of the entire band’s sound, and all the more incentive to go catch them on the Zippo Encore Stage at Download to see “The Scorpion” in action. The quartet has been known to introduce DIY tools to their sets to bring distinction and border pressing vibes to the scene, adding a whole new meaning to progressive rock. The piece bring their relentless attitudes onto the stage with note worthy stage presence and raw, unadulterated feeling to each and every song. Along with well timed lights and special effects, their performance on the stage comes out on top; quality and focused on the real reason we are all there, to enjoy music. With the most recent release of the self titled album ‘Nothing More’ via Eleven Seven Music in 2014, the band has been seeking innovation since their first release of ‘Shelter’ in 2004. LD
The Raven Age Featuring members, Michael Burrough, Matt Cox, Dan Wright, George Harris, and Jai Patel, The Raven Age is a melodic metal band hailing from London! Birthed in 2009, the five piece has since supported Steve Harris British Lion, Tremonti, and Iron Maiden on separate respective tours. After the release of their 2014 EP, ‘The Raven Age’, the band most recently released their full length album ‘Darkness Will Rise’ in March of 2017. Being dubbed the “Best New Band 2017” from Planet Rock Awards, The Raven Age are sure to bring the heat as one of the underdogs of the Download lineup. On ‘Darkness Will Rise’ heavyweight producer Matt Hyde, whose resume contains Slipknot, Machine Head, Bullet For My Valentine, and Trivium. As far as slamming, whiplash giving, mind blowing abrasive riffs and jacked tracks go, these guys are on track to make some nasty pits whilst having thousands of horns in the air all set long. For seasoned moshers, I would expect some gnarly pits to form and when push comes to shove (literally) there’s no better way to kick off festival season like a big ole pit of metalheads. Catch these guys on day one of Download, Friday June 9th and get your shoelaces tied up tight, and arms ready for some brutal pits. LD
Simple Plan Rising from Canada with their impressive take on pop punk the guys in Simple Plan are no strangers to performing in the UK. Their shows over here have been nothing less than awesome, and I have no doubt that they have more than what it takes to be headlining the The Avalanche Stage! Their recent album 'Taking One for the Team' has been a great reminder as to why people love this band so much in the first place, and it is also a record that shows a promising future for this highly influential band. Expect to hear hits such as 'Welcome To My Life', 'Perfect' 'When I'm Gone' and MANY more! Certainly not a bad way to spend a Saturday night! AD
Issues Composed of members Tyler Carter, Michael Bohn, Josh Manuel, Skyler Acord, AJ Rebollo, the Atlanta based fusion metal five piece takes elements of hip hop, R&B, metalcore-punk, and pop punk to blend and form a union of genres artistically unique to them. With their most recent release of ‘Headspace’ on May 20th, 2016 through Rise Records, ISSUES channels a vibe that showcases Carter rapping on some tracks such as ‘Flojo’ ‘Blue Wall’, and ‘Someone Who Does’. There were hints and touches on country in ‘Home Soon’, and ‘Yung and Dum’ that amount to an unmistakable sound and distinction; a must have for your Download schedule. Since their formulation in 2012 the group has grown and developed exponentially, forming a steady following of dedicated fans. For an energy filled, hyped up set ISSUES won’t disappoint on delivering the antics and scorching fire to the stage. As Vans Warped Tour alums and festival favorites, ISSUES is sure to be a crowd pleaser for avid headbangers, and moshers looking for a new kind of heavy set music. Since their birth, ISSUES has released the ‘Black Diamonds’ EP in 2012, singles ‘Stingray Affliction’, and ‘Hooligans’, followed by the 2014 single ‘Never Lose Your Flames’ and the 2016 singles ‘The Realest’, and ‘COMA’. All of these singles eventually appear either on the 2014 releases of issues, or ‘Diamond Dreams’ and the 2016 release of ‘Headspace’. The aforementioned have become prime examples of the diversity and courage it takes to step into other genres, to draw an create your own sound. ISSUES promises a hot set, sure to deliver a bangin’ time. LD
Mastodon Proving that Mastodon just don't do bad a album, ‘Emperor of Sand’ once again shows the versatility the band have and the ability to make a new album sound different while always keeping that Mastodon signature sound. They have triumphed on the fields of Donnington before and are sure to be one of the do not miss bands of the weekend.
AN Clutch American riff masters know nothing else but bringing their A game, a band that brings the groove, swagger and ball crushing sound in spades. They know how to get a crowd fired up and will be sure to tear it up like only they can. AN
Slayer Slayer have a long history at the Mecca of metal and everyone knows what they will be bringing it with them. With a fresh breath of life with the superb ‘Repentless’ album behind them and of course the classics of ‘Raining Blood’ and ‘Angel of Death’ among some of their more modern outputs, expect circle pits and the chaos that Slayer know how to provide. AN
Aerosmith 40 plus years, countless shows, albums and hits and it comes to what is (apparently) their final U.K. Show. They have been on the hallowed ground a few times over the years and their set a couple or so years back was one of their greats. Aerosmith are legends of music and show live exactly why they have endured through the decades and remained as relevant through out. If it is the last chance to see them, take it or you'll regret it. AN
Pierce The Veil This post-hardcore band from San Diego, California was formed by Mike and Vic Fuentes after the demise of their band Before Today in 2006. In little over 10 years, they have released 4 albums on two labels. The first two were on Equal Vision and the last two were on Fearless. With the last one, ‘Misadventures’ coming out in 2016. One of the aspects that sticks out about Pierce the Veil is Vic’s high vocals. He very well may have one of the most recognizable vocals in his scene. However it’s just not Vic that brings something awesome to the table, his brother Mike is one of the most underrated drummers in all of music. He is one that should be mentioned in the same breathe as Tre Cool and Travis Barker. To fully appreciate his drumming, you need to see them live. Their live show is one, as a whole that should not be missed. RM
The Dillinger Escape Plan Chaos, apocalyptic, and loudness. These are just a few things that come to mind when I think of The Dillinger Escape Plan. Oh and their cover of ‘Come to Daddy’ with Mike Patton. If you have never listened to them then that would be a good place to start. After that hit up the album, ‘Calculating Infinity’. It will blow your mind, promise. Let’s just cut to the chase here. The reason you should watch these crazy mathcore veterans is because they are in the middle of a farewell tour. After 20 years and numerous members, they are saying goodbye. Get ready to bask in the chaos that is TDEP. RM
Rob Zombie Does Rob Zombie really need an introduction? Do I need to tell you why you should go see him? Well, I’m going to anyways. Rob Zombie is one of a few musicians leftover from his heyday, his prime. And he very well might be one of the best. I will admit I have never been a huge Rob Zombie fan, at least Rob Zombie the musician but Rob Zombie the movie director, I adore. I like a few songs from his time in White Zombie but never felt the need to own any of the albums. Then in 1998, he released his first solo album, ‘Hellbilly Deluxe’. It caught my attention because it was all over MTV and he had plans to tour with KoRn that fall. It was a good first release. Over the years he continued to release music and make movies. It was not until last year when I finally saw him live that I could fully appreciate his craft. I saw him at Riot Fest, a three-day festival in Chicago, IL and he was one of the best acts I saw all weekend. The only ones that were better were Creeper and Refused. I would see him again. As I sit here typing this, all I can think about is seeing Rob Zombie live again. His set is a MUST SEE!!!!!!! RM
Four Year Strong This is a band I know very well. In the course of my life, this is one of the bands I have seen in double digits, two of them in back to back nights earlier this year. This 4-piece easy core/pop-punk band from Worcester, Massachusetts have been making people jump since 2001. They are presently in the midst of a ten year anniversary world tour for ‘Rise or Die Trying’, their most popular album by far. If you are going to Download to have a good time and jump around a lot, then this is the band you need to catch. I mentioned above that I saw them earlier this year, one of those shows was in a 250 cap room and the entire room was jumping the entire set. At one point people were jumping off the merch tables to crowd surf. It was hands down one the wildest sets I have seen. If you have some downtime or want to catch a new act, then this is the band I suggest you see. RM
As It Is Brighton punks, As It Is comprised of members Patty Walters, Ben Langford- Biss, Andy Westhead, Alistair Testo, and Patrick Foley have been rocking the pop punk scene since their birth in 2012 and Fearless Records signed them in October 2014. With influences like early Taking Back Sunday, and The Starting Line as well as The Wonder Years, As It Is finds a nostalgic, honest, melodic emo-reminiscent pop punk sound that would make for an enjoyable set for almost anyone. The five piece have released four EPs and two full length albums, well seasoned in their artist identity and sound which has found a home in comforting, summertime jams; a staple to any festival weekend. Touring with The Sumer Set in 2014, Vans Warped Tour in 2015, and later with This Wild Life, these guys have supported and toured with many other acts. They will deliver Their most recent release was ‘okay.’ via Fearless Records, debuting on January 20th, 2017. The album brings well thought out lyrics, catchy melodies, and karaoke-worthy choruses with tracks like ‘Hey Rachel’, and ‘Pretty Little Distance’. For lovers of pop punk classics, these guys are channeling the textbook examples of the scene, but adding in new twists and elements with their own personal touch on each track. LD
Dinosaur Pile-Up With the most recent release of their full length album, ‘11:11’ through SO Recordings, Dinosaur Pile Up have been a staple to the hard rock and alternative community since 2007. Their plans for 2017 include a set at Download Festival where they will take the stage along with other names such as The Dillinger Escape Plan, Moose Blood, and Touché Amore. The trio has released hits such as the 2014 ‘Nature Nurture’ album and the 2010 album, ‘Growing Pains’. Based in its pop punk roots, the trio have grown into a more mature and swinging, controlled sound. Using driving riffs, and a pounding sound, these guys pack a punch in their tracks that is hidden under what may appear to be basic notes and lyrics for someone who is used to harder and faster tempos or vibes. Speaking from personal experience, Dinosaur Pile Up puts on a show that is enjoyable for everyone, and not over the top which is a nice break from the rowdy mosh pits of other heavier sets which Download is sure to bring. If you aren’t one for uber-dense material and prefer a set that is purely enjoyment without the worry of 40 foot mosh pits, then DPU is a must. All of their songs make for great live jams, and the bass will surely pound through your chest so that you can feel it. This is 100% percent a set that nearly everyone can enjoy.
LD State Champs Since their formation in 2010, State Champs have been a huge player in the pop punk revival, they released their first full length ‘The Finer Things’ on October 8th 2013, which got all pop punk listeners attention with some huge choruses and memorable tracks. The energetic riffs and incredible vocals make the band very unique. Their second full length record, ‘Around The World And Back’ was another stellar record. I really enjoy the passion and enthusiasm they show for their fans on the live stage, Download will be a piece of cake for them as they look to build their reputation as one of the best pop punk bands in the world. JP
System of a Down This Californian four piece are no strangers to the mammoth main stage of Donnington and they know exactly what it entails when headlining it. Big show, big set and most importantly you rock and luckily System of a Down do all of the above. A sixth studio album has been teased since early 2016 and Donnington seems like the perfect place to show off some of the new songs the band have written. Having released their last album back in 2005 the whole fan community for SOAD have been begging for more. The best thing about this band are that they have amazing heavy tracks such as ‘Holy Mountains’ and ‘Bounce’ but then we’ve got the epic sing alongs like ‘BYOB’, ‘Sugar’ and of course the incredible ‘Chop Suey’. Bring it on! RO
Sum 41 To say that Sum 41 have been through a tough time would be a complete under statement. For a long time it seemed as if the days of the pop punk pioneers were over, Deryck was suffering with alcohol addiction and Sum 41 were almost done. Fast forward to today and they’ve thrown out one of their best albums in years with ‘13 Voices’. The raw passion of each and every song is incredible and will certainly add to their already amazing roster for songs. Obviously the classics will get the biggest reaction ‘In Too Deep’, ‘Still Waiting’ etc but it will be a true testiment to the band themselves to headline the second stage. They’re going up against System of a Down and I still think Sum 41 will have a massive crowd to come out to. This will definitely be a Download highlight.
RO A Day to Remember Main stage at Download is where ADTR come into their own, they’ve not performed since 2015, even at this point when their set was over the whole crowd were screaming for more. This is a band that can headline it on their own but they’ve been given the subheadline spot, most likely to test the waters. 2018 this band will headline. It’s not hard to see why they’re so suited to a crowd like Download, not only have they got the catchy pop punk anthems with ‘Plot to Bomb the Panhandle’ and ‘All Signs Point to Lauderdale’ but they’ve got the heavy tracks like ‘2nd Sucks’ and ‘Violence’. Providing they don’t pin all their hopes on their new material this could be a very special performance. RO
SiKth This one has very much felt like a long time coming. The last time SiKth played it was to a packed-out tent - this time it’s on the main stage, right where they should be. SiKth are a band who very much felt like they never got the dues they were owed, but now they’re finally on the main stage at Download. Let’s hope that a) they play some new stuff, and b) the sound isn’t so bad we can’t hear all of their tech-metal wizardry. AL
Basement I was fortunate enough to see Basement support Brand New a couple of years ago. Their live show then was absolutely ridiculous, and I am sure by this point it has only improved even more. So in short, you're in for a treat! You can expect to hear tracks from their stomping new album 'Promise Everything', as well as (hopefully) tracks like'Covet' 'Pine' & 'Fading'! AD
Biffy Clyro I’ve always liked Biffy, they’re in that weird in between where they’ve got heavy metal fans but also pop fans because they’re very radio friendly. Last year they co-headlined Reading and Leeds with Fall Out Boy but this year will be the special one for them, their own headline slot at Download! They will dominate it. The Scottish trio will be more than ready to bring in their heavier tracks to appease the Download audience and not only that they’ve got the perfect slow rock ballads to put more lighters in the air than an Elton John show. Their new album wasn’t as raw and rocky as their last few efforts so it’s unclear if we’ll actually get a lot of ‘Elipsis’. They’ve always got ‘Golden Rule’, ‘Bubbles’ and ‘Living is a Problem’ to fall back on though. Expect pyrotechnics, awesome guitar playing and thick Scottish accents. RO
Five Finger Death Punch It’s always a great time when Death Punch roll around. Despite the last time they graced the main stage being only two years ago, since then their sixth album ‘Got Your Six’ has been released, meaning there’s even more songs to lose your mind to. They sure do know how to bring the party. AL
Airbourne Yeah, they do sound like AC/DC. No, they’re not quite as good as AC/DC. That doesn’t mean they’re not brilliant though. Expect one of the biggest fun times of the weekend, and bring your earplugs because Airbourne have a reputation for being extremely loud!
AL Prophets Of Rage Despite only having been a band for under a year, when you have the members of Rage Against The Machine, Public Enemy and Cypress Hill you kind of get a free pass to do whatever you want. So if you want to hear maybe a bit of Rage Against The Machine material to really cap your day at Download off before you watch System Of A Down, then look no further. AL
Creeper Probably the best band in the UK right now, I’m sure the Creeper cult will be out in force when they play at Download this year. After releasing some impressive EP’s, they released the fantastic ‘Eternity, In Your Arms’ full length album which gained very positive reviews, they followed the album with a tour of the UK. The band are superb at translating the energy from their recorded music to the live stage with incredible stage lighting, and brilliant synchronization between each other. They are a must see band at Download, they will blow you away with tracks like ‘Poison Pens’ and ‘Hiding with Boys.’ I’m sure those who have not seen the band will come away as fans. JP
The King Blues Known for their electric fusion of punk/pop/rock The King Blues are at Download this year to promote their new album 'The Gospel Truth'. This hard hitting record contains some of the most intense lyrical themes ever for front man Itch, and songs like 'Heart of a Lion' will simply go down a storm. Not forgetting their older classics! AD
DOWNLOAD FESTIVAL PREVIEW AFI Alternative punk veterans are set to make their first ever Download Festival appearance on the main stage on Saturday, god knows why it has taken so long for them to be on the line-up, but with them releasing their tenth self-titled album (also known as The Blood Album) earlier this year, now is the perfect time to see them. Their latest offering combines their old classic punk roots but injects new innovative ideas and creativity, so should be a hit with the masses, especially with singles such as ‘Snow Cats' and ‘White Offerings'. Let's hope they also play ‘Dumb Kids' from the new album as it's the perfect anthemic singalong. I'm sure they will also treat fans to their most beloved songs spanning their nearly thirty-year career such as ‘The Days Of The Phoenix', ‘Girl's Not Grey' and ‘Miss Murder' to name a few. Their debut at Download is not to be missed! CL
Opeth Swedish progressive metal masters Opeth are no strangers to Download, having played five times already and this year sees them on the Zippo Encore stage as second headliners before the mighty Slayer on the closing day of the festival. Late last year (2016) they released their glorious and masterful twelfth album titled ‘Sorceress’, which was a welcome addition to their impressive catalogue, which paid homage to their well-known signature sound heard in the revered ‘Blackwater Park' as well as exploring something new, the end result being a beautifully dark work of art. If you haven't witnessed Opeth live you are in for a hell of a time, they leave you in awe with their extreme transitions between fierce sinister sections to ethereal ravishing moments, and it’s sometimes hard to believe the vocal range frontman Mikael Akerfeldt can muster, from one extreme to another. Go along and relax, be bewildered and frightened all in one set! CL
Alter Bridge Hark rockers Alter Bridge from Florida are obviously doing something right as 2017’s performance will mark their fifth time playing at Download and this year they on the second stage before headliners Aerosmith nonetheless on Sunday. A pretty big spot to land and one which they are more than worthy of taking on. It may have something to do with their reputation for being a live band that thrive in a live atmosphere and speaking from personal experience, they certainly make for an exciting and unforgettable show. They have plenty of fan favourite hits to choose from such as ‘Metalingus', ‘Addicted To Pain', ‘Open Your Eyes', ‘Blackbird' and most recently ‘Show Me A Leader' taken from their latest album ‘The Last Hero', which will be on everyone's wishlist, and I'm sure they will deliver. CL
In Flames In Flames from Sweden are known for their unique melodic death metal and they continue to rise and assert themselves within the metal scene due to this, and their latest twelfth album ‘Battles’ which was unleashed in 2016 is no exception. They are bound to play new fan favourites from ‘Battles’ like the crushing ‘The Truth’ and ‘The End’. They have a brilliant live presence, energy and atmosphere, ploughing through their set, whilst vocalist Anders Friden charms the crowds with his naturally humorous personality and sincerity. You seriously need to witness In Flames live if you haven’t already, and if you have I’m sure you don’t need convincing to see them again. CL
Devin Townsend Project A master at creating epic tracks that will blow you away live, the skill and craftsmanship from Townsend and his fellow band members is up there with the best of them. It is possibly the best on this year’s Download slate. With a back catalogue that stretches on for decades beginning in 1995 as a member of Strapping Young Lad to 2016 with Transcendence The Devin Townsend Project’s latest record. Obviously the set will be concentrating on The Devin Townsend Project discography (2009-2016) the reason why I mentioned the experience he has is because that has lead to a hugely varied sound, Townsend is able to draw upon many differing genres across the metal spectrum, but also from outside the heavy world note that one of his biggest influences as a musician is Ravi Shankar the legendary Sitar player. Any fan of music never mind metal, rock or whatever you align with and you are going to be at Download then Townsend is a must see as there will be a song, musical passage that you’ll like. EJ
Of Mice & Men Chaos, bedlam, pandemonium and mayhem are four descriptions that accurately depict an Of Mice & Men gig. So the question is can they bring that to a crowd of 40,000 people? Yes. A band with the stage presence and ferocity that these men have will flow to the crowd experiencing it. Hits such as Second & Sebring, Unbreakable and Public Service Announcement (the opener to their most recent tour sets) it will make for a memorable set for sure. Especially after the newest single with Aaron Pauley rejoining after original vocalist Austin Carlile departed the band for health reasons has been well received it will be a large platform to impress new people, old fans and maybe even those who liked Carlile will see what Pauley can do. EJ
Good Charlotte The Maryland pop punk legends famous for anthems including Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous & Girls and Boys are sure to deliver an incredibly fun, crazy performance. After a six year absence of writing music, they returned last year with ‘Youth Authority’ which displayed all the charisma and entertaining which made them so popular. They will surely be getting chunks of the crowd leaping in the year with their ultra catchy songs, and everyone will be reminded just how just good Good Charlotte are. JP
Every Time I Die Wanderlust will eventually lead you to finding the now 16 year veterans set at the festival. Energy overflows from this band each member bringing their fair share of talent to create Every Time I Die’s thrashing raw sound. Be it the more brutal sounding rocky stuff (anything off Last Night in Town (2001)) or the newer stuff (New Junk Aesthetic (2009)/ Low Teens (2016) there will be a hell of a mosh pit. All the traits of a quality metal outfit that live bursts from the stage. No doubt you will come out battered, bruised, busted and bleeding. A gig is a place to expel your inner anger in a circle pit with fellow fans Every Time I Die have the perfect music to do so. EJ
The One Hundred - The Aslyum Birmingham - May 10th As I walked out of the Asylum in Birmingham I was struck with the devastating notion that seeing The One Hundred in such a small venue will soon be a novelty. The performance they put in was phenomenal and cements them as one of the best live acts at the moment. I stepped in and was greeted by Light the Skies, their blend of brit rock really helped kick proceedings off. To begin with I thought I was seeing another Mallory Knox until the vocalist busted out some intense screams on ‘Acclimate’. Though the room was only half full it didn’t let the band bring them down. “Everyone ready for a bit of a dance, this one’s dancey” the lead said as they kicked into the funky bass happy ‘Looking Back’. This certainly whet the appetite for everyone in the room and started the night off with a bang. Up next were Massmatiks and at the risk of sounding old I didn’t really get what they were going for, at one point they were resonate of the Gallows and other times sounding like a metal Jamie T. With one track about fighting at the end of a night out and then another being called up at ‘4AM’ by an ex-girlfriend it’s clear this band have an agenda. They drew a huge crowd and interacted well but there was something about their sound that didn’t connect. It was quite humbling to see The One Hundred setting up their own gear, even stopping to chat to people in the front row. The show began when they turned around and the lights went down. Very bizarre. In a ballsy move the band open with a song [Dreamcatcher] the audience has not yet heard. It was risky, it was a less than cautious move and it paid off! The whole crowd moved in and went with the motion of the extremely heavy track that the London group had produced. Next up though was their latest single ‘Monster’ and that hit everyone in the room, even including a circle pit opening up. “We’ve got a few new tracks tonight so if you could just sit back and be like ‘yeah, love this track’ that’d be great” the lead singer Jacob joked to a very understanding crowd. Their new songs included ‘Blackjack’ and ‘Boomtown’, “that’s b.o.o.n town” Jacob confirmed. Both tracks gave a glimpse of the upcoming album and bought the crowd together. Jacob’s vocals were outstanding during the whole performance. The interaction with the audience was incredible and it showed with each band member that they would not want to be anywhere else. Obviously the time when the most crowd participated, including pits, was when the classics were brought out. The band played every song from their debut EP ‘Subculture’. The audience loved each and every moment of this and for every scream they received the band seemed to give back more and more. Their set ended with ‘Tale of Two Cities’ and ‘Kingsmen’. The band said this had been the best night of the tour so far and left as sweaty messes. As did the audience. It’s taken a long time for The One Hundred to have their own headline tour, with their album round the corner and a slot at Download Festival I think this is their year to prove that they’re here to stay. RO
The Menzingers - The Bierkeller Bristol - April 21st Supporting The Menzingers are The Flatliners, hailing from Canada with their ridiculously amazing punk sound, they are simply a relentless force.They mix in older songs with tracks from their awesome new album 'Inviting Light' and are just an absolute pleasure to watch. From the moment they hit the stage they get an instant reaction from the crowd, and they are easily one of the best support acts I've seen this year. Highlights for me include 'Monumental' 'Count Your Bruises' and 'Sew My Mouth Shut'. Don’t miss out when they return to the UK! Opening with 'Tellin' Lies', the band hit a chord with anyone over the age of 30 with the lyrics "Where are we gonna go now that our twenties are over? Everyone's asking me over and over", but how true is this to anything in life. No matter what you do, get married, buy a house, win the lottery. People are always asking you "What's next? What are you doing right now?" is too much to ask to just live in the moment, and enjoy life, instead constantly thinking about the future. That's my take on it anyway. Keeping the mosh pits in full motion, the band take us through an incredible set including, 'I Don't Wanna Be An Asshole Anymore' 'Thick as Thieves'. These are some songs, that show the true capability of The Menzingers. Such as 'Good Things' which is just an absolute anthem, and if you don't at least nod your head to the track, then you should probably be worried. 'Rodent' is a beautiful song to witness, as it dives between intense emotional lyrics, with a melodic backing. One of my favourites from 'Rented World' for sure. 'After The Party' goes down extremely well, and easily shows a promising future for the band. I have no doubt that that song will be in the set list for a VERY long time. The band end the show with 'Bad Catholics' 'Lookers' and of course 'In Remission'. A good mix of new material, with 'In Remission' to make you feel like you're in a Nirvana music video. I mean, those drums at the end of the track are just incredible. I already can't wait to see this band again. AD
Vol 2 of Guardians of the Galaxy begins so brilliantly and leaves off from first in classic fashion. The heroes are defending very powerful batteries from an alien creature and of course Rocket believes payment for this should be one of the priceless batteries themselves. Calamity ensues. Before this though we’re treated to an amazing fight sequence where we get an insight into baby Groot and he makes a stand out performance. The main theme throughout this film is the notion of family, obviously Peter Quill the human from Earth found his makeshift family during Vol 1 and is palling around with the other Guardians but he’s still missing the father in his life. Enter Kurt Russell as the brilliant Ego, he takes Peter, Gamora and Drax to his planet and makes work of telling Starlord his origin. This adds a beautiful touch to the film as Peter is reunited with the father he never knew he had. The biggest star of this film is easily Drax, while he had a few one liners in the original movie they’ve taken him to a whole new level for this one and he is on form all the way through. Even referring to his obvious love interest as ‘disgusting’. Gamora has also managed to find her sister and clearly still pissed off from the first one is desperate to kill her. Gamora decides to leave her pyschotic sibling with Rocket and Baby Groot with hilarious results. This is doubled when Yondu turns up to make amends for his actions in the first film and prove to his squad that he’s not as incompetent as they all believe he is. Both separate storylines work well against eachother and connect well when all the main characters meet up again for the epic showdown towards the end of the movie. It wouldn’t be a Marvel movie without some tugging on heart strings and it was a very emotional finale from the Guardians. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol: 2 was everything I wanted it to be and more and aside from the seemingly pointless cameo from Sylvester Stalone I’d say it’s one of the more solid films in the Marvel repetoire. We’re getting closer and closer to Infinity War, get ready it’s going to be big.
We live in the times when waking up to see the word ‘terrorist’ on the news is not exactly a shock but Tuesday morning was different. While there were a lot of people who were watching as the drama unfolded throughout the night there were people like me who only experienced it in the morning. To wake up and see that 19 people had been pronounced dead was a horrible thing in itself, for the news to carry on through the day and watch the death toll rise was in no other words than sickening. I’m sure I wasn’t the only person to be affected by this. I felt like it really affected me though because it happened at a live concert. I’ve been going to gigs for 10 years now and I feel it’s part of my culture and my upbringing. For me and I’m sure a lot of people they’re considered to be a safe and happy place. It’s a place where no judgement is passed, people can come together to appreciate music in love and solidarity. It depresses me to think that people will now associate this amazing entity with pain, anger and misery. What’s worse is that I’ve seen an absurd amount of people say that they’re going to “sell their ticket” to an upcoming show and this is where I have the biggest problem. This year I’ve got so many shows and festivals coming up and I’m not for one moment considering dropping any of them. Even now I’ve read a report that Justin Bieber’s fans are demanding that his show in Hyde Park should be cancelled following the attack in Manchester. I can appreciate shows being cancelled at the MEN but anywhere else is letting “them” win and we don’t want to give them the satisfaction. I completely understand the mentality of why people want to cancel shows and hide away from the sick and twisted things that happen in the world but I implore everyone reading this to not do that. If we stop living our lives then we are merely existing and that to me sounds like the worst thing imaginable. The children that lost their lives hadn’t been given a chance and that is heart breaking. They were yet to love, learn or even think for themselves. They were coming up to that amazing point in life where they decide what they want to be when they grow up, some even probably left that night thinking “I’m going to be a performer” that’s amazing and sadly will never come to pass. A way to remember the people who sadly lost their lives isn’t to hide in fear that something might happen to yourself. You go out into the wide world and you live your life. You get drunk with your friends, you go to festivals, go to shows. You live your life and we prove that as a society, as a unit and more than anything as a country we are better than they will ever be and we will always fight back for our rights to live as we want to and if you think for one minute “what’s the worst that could happen” instead think “what’s the best that could happen” and I guarantee you’ll have the best time.
Published on May 31, 2017
Issue 43 of Stencil Mag! Features interviews from the following: Incubus, Coheed and Cambria, Pierce The Veil, Crown The Empire, Steel Panth...