Interview with Becca
How did your fall tour alongside With Confidence & Story Untold go, and can you give us a couple of personal highlights from your time on the road? Their fans were intense. In a really great way. Weâ€™d never played a tour where the majority of the audience arrive before the doors have even opened, so playing shows to groups of young people who are so passionate about being present and so open minded to getting into new bands, was really refreshing. We really appreciate it when people who have only just discovered our band take the time to come over and say hi to us afterwards.
How would you say that your live performance has grown/changed overall over the last couple of years? It must have been about two years ago when we took the plunge and decided to play live as a three piece (we bring in session drummer pals.) Before then, we were a straight up, five piece rock band live, which never made complete sense, as Anavae is Jamie and I. We've never really seen ourselves as a "rock band." There’s a load more triggering, sample pads, synths on stage with us now which Jamie plays ALL AT THE SAME TIME. Taking away the label of “rock band” also takes away a pressure or expectation to be a certain way on stage. I can just be me now.
So, how did you end up signing with A Wolf At Your Door Records, and what have they been like to work with so far? We spent a year unsigned, regrouping, writing, figuring out who we were again after the mess of our previous release. We had all these songs but absolutely no money to record any of them, which is what led to our Pledge campaign. (RIP Pledge..) We had absolutely no idea how many people were still out there rooting for us, and wanting to support us. After expecting a very average response, we were definitely astounded and floored by how quickly people came to our aid. We came so close to clicking the release button for the EP we had created for Pledge, until WAYD swooped in out of nowhere. We also came close to saying no and cracking on as an unsigned band, but the idea of finally being able to record and release a full length record, with a label based IN London, who didn’t want to dress me up in glittery dresses or tell us our songs aren’t rock enough… The stars aligned in a now or never formation. Fingers crossed.
Looking back on the release of the 'Are You Dreaming?' EP, how happy are you with this release still, and what do you think it's done for the representation of Anavae? The release of that EP was clouded in so much stress, and unhappiness. The songs were released about a year later than they were meant to have been due to so many unnecessary complications and an unsteady team around us. It was a long year of uncertainty, and fears that we might be shelved and never be allowed to release music as Anavae again. I love that so many of our listeners loved that EP, but, not many people outside of that circle heard it. As much as I still love some of the songs on that EP, I’m so ready for the new.
What songs are you still really enjoying performing live from 'Are You Dreaming?' at the moment, and why? ‘Lose Your Love’ will always be my favourite from that EP. It’s still the closer of our set, so it’s a final 5 minutes where I can use up whatever energy is left. There’s so much space in the music as well. Singing that song feels like breathing.
How is your upcoming album coming along so far, and what do you think fans can expect from it? We really wanted each track to sound completely different, so we’ve played around with genre, and sound more so than we’ve ever done before. Our listeners music tastes can be quite split and varied. Some like the heavier stuff, whereas others are either more into the electronic side of things, or the weirder alternative vibes. I think there’s something for each of them here.
How has your writing relationship grown/progressed over the last couple of years? We are chalk and cheese, which certainly makes for a contrast. Polar opposites with completely different music tastes brings different elements into Anavae, but it also means that every decision and conversation is a battle, with the task of trying to find a middle ground. Sometimes a middle ground just can’t be found, and in those instances we’ll compromise and set out to make a deal, whereby we’ll both get to choose a spotlight song - a song we individually believe in, and we make sure to BOTH put our all into it. This complete split in ideas will either make our debut one of the most interesting rock albums this year, or the chaos will just be too confusing for anyone to want to grasp. Who knows. Our producer Pete Miles works his magic when marrying our ideas together. This album wouldn’t exist without him.
How did your single ‘High’ come together, and can you tell us a bit about the meaning behind this track in particular? ‘High’ was one of the tracks that I spotlighted in our internal battle of the songs. (I believe the next single we have coming out is one of Jamie’s picks, and you’ll notice the difference in sound straight away.) ‘High’ was one of my bedroom demos - there’s a ploddy sounding guitar in the intro/verses which made it onto the record, as did those ambient backing vocals. I sang them through guitar amp presets and just didn’t know how to recreate them in a way that kept the magic. It’s about the feeling of hopelessness and numbing, slow melancholy. It’s the feeling you get when you forget that things can and will change. It’s forgetting how to look forward and beyond and that maybe love is meaningless amongst it all.
How did the music video for 'High' come together, and what was Gingerdope like to work with? The verses of ‘High’ always sounded so vintage to me. A little bit messy. Like a scruffy teenage boy sitting in his room scrolling through his reverb pedals. Martin’s (Gingerdope) work is grainy and raw. There’s an “I don’t give a f*ck” aura to her style which I thought would work so great with this track. She had messaged me a few months prior when ‘Afraid’ had come out, expressing interest in collaborating on something, and this was the something that I thought would be great. We gave her a storyboard/shot list, and she interpreted it in her own style.
What else can we expect to see from Anavae in 2019? The fact we’re releasing a debut record is kind of trumping anything else that might be happening this year. Regarding shows - We’ll be at Great Escape festival in Brighton, and we’ll be playing our first festival in Germany, in Lubeck. There’s a bunch of other cool shows in the pipelines, stay tuned.
Interview with Phil
Photo credit: Ester S
Can you tell us how Final Coil originally got together? The band was initially a project that I came up with at University. I had a little, Boss 8 track recorder and I was recording material on that with a view to finding a band. Richard (Awdry – lead guitarist and backing vocalist) joined me and we played a few gigs here and there with various different musicians, but nothing serious came of it and I moved out to Poland for a few years, although it never occurred to me that the band wouldn’t continue one way or another. This iteration of the band started when I moved back to the UK in 2008. I’d played in a few bands whilst over in Poland and Rich and I had hooked up most holidays to jam on material, so we had a good base from which to start. Very quickly Jola (Stiles) joined on bass, and that’s been the core band ever since, joined by a (seemingly never-ending) succession of drummers. At the heart of what we do is the fact that we make music that we personally enjoy, so we never had any expectations as such – but it’s been wonderful to see the name slowly growing over the last few years. We never expected it, but we’re surely grateful that people are happy to go along on this ride with us.
How did you get to the band name Final Coil, and what does it mean to you? The name is based in literature. I was studying English literature and Politics at University and I was (and still am) a huge fan of Shakespeare’s work. In Hamlet, a metaphor for death is to shuffle off “this mortal coil”, although that name is, of course, taken so no help there (or, at least, not directly). However, coils appear in many places in classical literature, not least in Dante’s Inferno, so the Final Coil could be an allusion to death or it could be an allusion to the levels of hell (the final one being treachery), which certainly fits the somewhat lowering nature of the music! I think it’s a good name – it has resonances that listeners can choose to follow if they wish and, as with everything we do, I like the idea of allowing enough ambiguity that people can bring their own interpretation whether it be to the song titles, band name or music.
What is it like to be an upcoming band in Leicester? It’s hard, I think, although no harder than anywhere else these days. Leicester does have a great scene and some very supportive people within, but it can be challenging to reach out to your audience because, although the channels of communication are there, everyone’s using them. Also, because Leicester gets fewer touring acts than, say, Nottingham or Birmingham, it becomes necessary to reach outside the city to expand beyond the local audience. However, we are lucky to be here - we have some great venues and there are some really passionate people who delight in helping the Leicester music scene to thrive – and that’s essential for any band to grow. There are also a number of great other bands, with whom we always enjoy playing. Bands like Mage, Temple of Lies, Blood Oath… they’re great bands, all stylistically a little different, and there are some great promoters here too.
Was there a particular moment when you realised that you had something special going on as a band? That you could potentially make a career out of this?
I wouldn’t say so, no. I was speaking to a friend, who’s also in a band, the other day, and he said that he always thinks his music is terrible until someone tells him that it’s not; and I’d say I have a similar problem. I work really hard on writing the music for this band, but I know that the music is quite niche, and I can get very self-conscious about it, to the point that I open every new review with a real sense Segarra of trepidation. So, from that perspective, when I see our label sharing our new record or when I read a positive review, I still have this creeping sense of unreality and I just feel very lucky to be able to do things in this way. In all honesty, I don’t really know what a career looks like in music these days. For sure, in a financial sense, I don’t see that we’ll ever make a career out of this; but from a musical perspective – that we get to release CDs and that people from all over the world have the opportunity to buy them - I still pinch myself on that score every day.
So, how did you get to the album title 'The World We Left Behind For Others', and what does it mean to you? The album premise initially came to me shortly after my Grandmother passed away. One of the things we found was a small bundle of letters that she had kept. They came from a much earlier period of her life – a difficult period – and they really reflected the mindset of the time in the sense that they were very patriarchal in nature, with a certain degree of passive/aggressiveness in tone that remains the mainstay of “civilised” society here. Combined with stories that I’d heard, I thought it might be possible to draw parallels between the social attitudes that prevailed in Post-War England and some of the conflicts that exist today (in part with reference to the social schism caused by the vote to leave the European Union); so, the overarching premise of the album is two people looking back across the events of their lives, both together and apart, and trying to articulate how they reacted to those events.
Can you elaborate on some of the other main themes and influences that run throughout 'The World We Left Behind For Others'? Each song is basically a vignette approached from the imagined perspective of my Grandmother or Grandfather. Little has been said, I think, about the curious attitudes that developed Post-War, with soldiers clearly traumatised by their experiences, yet unable to talk about it; and with society facing rapid internationalisation so soon after having been taught to hate and fear other nations. Looking back now, we can see that it led to a bifurcation of society, with those eager to embrace a progressive approach to society and culture standing in opposition to those who wanted to maintain that which had been during the country’s colonial years at all costs, fearful of any change lest it betray the memory of those fallen. The purpose of this record isn’t to vilify either side, but to consider the wider question of why it has become so hard for there to be a rational dialogue over such issues. I didn’t set out to make a “Brexit” record – quite aside from unnecessarily dating the record, I think it would be reductive. Rather, I wanted to consider this wider social question of how we got to a point where we are so in opposition with one another and what the roots of that may be.
Tough question time. What was the hardest song on 'The World We Left Behind For Others' to put together, and why? ‘Imaginary Trip’, for sure. It wasn’t technically the hardest, but emotionally, that song was incredibly hard to write because it was the one song in which I pay open tribute to my Grandmother. One of the things she loved to do was to walk in the hills above Swanage, a town in Dorset, looking out to the sea and watching the birds and (on occasions) dolphins there. Rather than write about her, I thought I could pay tribute by taking her on that walk once more, but it was incredibly difficult to find the words (and even harder to sing them) and the song went through a lot of iterations before I settled on the sound and style that I felt worked. The other aspect, of course, was to make sure that it wasn’t too personal. Grief, unfortunately is universal, and I really wanted to write a song that was for her and not about her. I think that the song has potential to be cathartic for anyone, because it taps into that need to be alone with your memories and I very much hope that that is something I have conveyed.
How did the artwork for 'The World We Left Behind For Others' come together, and what does it mean to you? The artwork, as with the artwork on the first record, was handled by Andy Pilkington of Very Metal Art and once again he did a fantastic job. My original brief was that the artwork should be very organic – I wanted it to be subtle – and that it could not too overtly feature war as a theme because, although war haunts the record, it is not directly addressed and I didn’t want people to be steered too much in that direction by the art. Anyhow, Andy took his time with the lyrics and with the album synopsis which I wrote and, eventually, came back with the beautiful cover that now graces the album. Originally the figure on the bench had a face, and that was one thing I definitely wanted to change because I wanted people to see the outline and put someone there who meant something to them – the importance of imagination once again. Andy made that change and a few others, but the cover (which, by the way, flows right through the booklet) is largely as it was when he first presented it to me. The art as a whole is very much a summary of the album’s main theme – that of someone looking back upon the vista of their life – but, once again, it’s subtle. The images are just detailed enough to suggest the various themes and ideas of the music, but without overtly fixing these in the listener’s mind. It’s a cover at which people can look and, hopefully, develop their own landscape through which the album can roam.
Who produced the album, and how would you say that they helped shape it? The album was tracked by Wahoomi Corvi and Cristian Coruzzi at Real Sound Studios in Italy and they both helped. Although the album was very complete from the demo stage, none of us are too precious to imagine that we can’t be helped to make it better, and both Wao and Ciccio made little suggestions here and there with regards to playing which we were pleased to take on board. Our label boss, Carlo, also came down to give feedback (and he also gave feedback in the demo stage), but everyone was largely very supportive of the approach upon which we’d decided whilst writing the demos. After tracking, the album went over to Johnny Mazzeo at MathLab Studios (also in Italy) for mixing, and he worked closely with me to get the album sounding as we wanted. Johnny is a very intuitive guy and when I gave him the list of albums that helped to make up the sonic template for this record, he immediately got what I was trying to do. One thing he and I both wanted from the start was to make the album as dynamic as possible – we wanted the quiet bits to be quiet and the loud bits to be loud, so we approached the record very much from that perspective. Also, within reason, I wanted to keep things as organic and real as possible, whilst still delivering a professional sounding record, so Johnny went really easy on the studio shenanigans, whilst still adding little touches (like the reverse cymbal in ‘Keeping Going’) that bought out the best in the music. Overall, I’d say all the people I have mentioned helped us to make the best record possible, but we also had a very clear picture of what we wanted from the outset. It was great to work with professionals who were willing to really work to make the album come together in the way that we had all hoped.
There is a limited-edition cassette EP that comes with the release. How did that idea come about, and what can fans expect from it? That was something I really wanted to do for the fans. I think that physical formats are special (especially for fans of a band like ours) and I wanted to create something that would be just for them and not available digitally or anywhere else. The Cassette is an EP, basically, featuring four demos from the album – three that were eventually worked up for the record and one which we didn’t record because it felt redundant, but which I really liked as a piece of music. The demos were all done on my home studio equipment and, I think, capture a special atmosphere which is unique. I’m particularly pleased that people will hear my demo of ‘Imaginary Trip’, as it really captures the emotion of the piece. I love the studio version, of course, but there’s something very raw about that first demo. I’m really pleased with the cassette – we spent some time creating the package (Jola did the layout and I mastered the content) and I really hope it’s something people will enjoy.
How would you say the sound of the band has grown/changed since the release of 'Persistence of Memory'? I’d say considerably. It’s always been the case that I write the music free from self-perceived constraints about what we can and can’t do, because I think that stultifies the music. So, when I was writing the demos, I used the slide (which I’d never done before), I was programming much more adventurous drumming patterns, I was using synth and piano parts and only then did I worry about how we might do it all in the studio. Some of it was pretty tough (learning to sing and play keeping going for example), but I think that challenging the band in that way makes for much more interesting music than simply sitting in the comfort zone. All of us, I think, had to develop our playing for this record and learn to do new things, or at least familiar things but in a different way, and I think we have all become better musicians as a result.
How did you end up signing to WormholeDeath, and what have they been like to work with so far? We signed to WormHoleDeath for the last album, ‘Persistence of Memory’ as a result of our EP, ‘Closed To The Light’. Somehow, the EP found its way to the ears of Wahoomi Corvi who got in touch to say that he’d be willing to help scout for a label if we’d be happy to record with him. Now, obviously, the first thing I did was to pinch myself and then Google the hell out of Wahoomi in case it was some sort of scam! However, once I got past my natural suspicion, I spoke with Wao and it became clear that he could (and would) help us. He sent our demo to Carlo at WHD and he signed us without hesitation, especially after he heard that we had the bulk of an album ready to go, and a year later we found ourselves in Langhirano recording an album. It was the most amazing experience and the band has been growing slowly but steadily ever since. As a result, we had no question that we would do our second album with WHD (there was already an option clause in the contract, although I don’t think they expected us to exercise it so quickly) and so we ended up in Italy once more, this time in summer, I’m happy to say, recording once again. The label have been nothing but supportive. They have a great press department, they’re usually on hand when you need them, and they really try to develop a personal relationship with their artists.
What else can we expect to see from Final Coil in 2019? Live dates!!! Right now, we’re looking at live dates and we hope to put together some shows for later in the year. We’ve had a slow start because our drummer has been ill, so that’s made the first few months of the year difficult, but we are getting ready to change all that now and get out there! We also have plans for another video (working with Jay Hillyer, the same chap who did the excellent ‘Last Battle’ clip) and I’m working hard on some new material as well… there’s always a lot happening in this band! www.finalcoil.com
Interview with Witt
Touring wise, what have you been up to over the last couple of months, and can you give us a couple of personal highlights from your time on the road? We finished up a tour with Sevendust in the states but we’ve been off for about a month. Writing pretty tirelessly trying to figure out what we want to do with our next release.
So when did the initial vision for 'Kill the Sun' come together? Was there a particular song or moment that started the whole process? We had played around with the idea of doing acoustic songs or an EP or reimagined songs from our LPs. We actually wrote a song that would have fit fine on ‘KTS’ for ‘Too Far Gone’ but it ended up not being up to snuff or whatever. But that’s what showed us we had the ability to do it & we all loved EPs like ‘Jar of Flies’ & ‘Sap’ so it just felt like a sensible direction to go, a sick curveball to throw at fans, and a way to explore our own musical boundaries in a new and exciting way.
What made you want to release the title track ‘Kill the Sun' first, and what did you enjoy the most about putting this track together? There's even some saxophone on it! It was a good icebreaker in our heads. It’s mostly production (and yes a good sax part by Devin) so it blends well into our discography. We didn’t want to break brains and release a song like ‘Empty’ first.
So, how did you get to the EP title 'Kill the Sun', and what does it mean to you? I came up with the lyrics for the chorus of ‘Kill the Sun’ and brought it up to everyone because it embodied the entire lyrical content of the EP to me. Every song is about doing something to myself or to other people that I know is the wrong decision. An existential desire for self sabotage and all that. Whether it was avoiding real life with excess usage, or keeping myself in an unstable relationship because I thought I deserved it, etc., it was all killing my own happiness on purpose. It worked.
You've said that with this release "We've embraced the weirder and mellower side of what we do" so can you elaborate on that, and maybe how the sound on this release compares to anything you've done before? We think it fits right in and is very comparable. I guess it’s unfair since we get to see the creative side of everything and we know what the songs that led to each release sounded like before they were final or if they even made it but this FITS to us. We’ve kept all of our trademarks in this EP except for screaming. The content, the builds of the songs, the extravagant experimentation. So sometimes I regret calling it “weirder” because honest to god I don’t think it’s any weirder than our full lengths, just a different path.
How did you end up working with Kris Crummett, and how would you say that he helped shape the release? Rise Records introduced us to him. We had a few people mentioned but when we got on the phone with him we knew how well he would work. We mentioned ‘Jar of Flies’ and he agreed, and then we mentioned ‘Days Of the New’ and he said something along the lines of “oh yeah, so diet Jar of Flies” and for whatever reason that joke hooked us. He brought the genius we needed to this album. We only had 10 days to track this and somehow He helped us create actual soundscapes and put a massive amount of time into the tones of every instrument even down to my voice. He would have me do a hundred takes on one line until every intonation was absolutely flawless. It’s always good to work with a perfectionist when your group is as dedicated to perfection as us.
Tough question time. What was the hardest song on 'Kill the Sun' to put together, and why? Well I don’t know how to answer that. I’d say instrumentally ‘Save Me’ was a massive undertaking for us because we didn’t know what the f*ck we wanted to do with it. We went back and forth between wanting to do a power ballad, or a weird song; do we play it on piano or do we use a guitar; should there be distortion anywhere and soooooo on. But lyrically holy sh*t it was so easy to get those words down for whatever reason. I don’t think I’ve ever had an easier song lyrically. If I’m being really honest I’d say every song was incredibly difficult to get right, but for what it’s worth that applies to every song we’ve ever put out.
How did the music video for '86d - No Escort' come together, and what was it like to work with Ryan Chisesi & Chris Rubey? That was another clutch move on the label. Chris works for our label and has wanted to do a video for us for a long time, and Crummett is stationed in Portland so it all worked out swimmingly. Chris and Ryan were great to work with. Super easy and got good shots on a time crunch.
Also, can you tell us about how that track in particular came together? That one we co-wrote with Drew Fulk (who usually produces our albums). It was the first one to have any electronics in it as heavily so that actually shaped the rest of the album.
How did the artwork for 'Kill the Sun' come together, and what does it mean to you? We worked with an artist our team had worked with before, Justine Raymond, and she knocked it out first try. She captured the loneliness and the disparity which I think runs through the whole album.
How excited are you for your upcoming performance at Download Festival, and what can attending fans expect from the show? Our favourite festival in the world. We can’t contain our excitement. We’re going to play loud and early.
What else can we expect to see from Cane Hill in 2019? Just a little bit.
Interview with Drey
So, can you tell us how allusinlove originally got together? Allusinlove was originally conceived under the name “Allusondrugs.” The band started when Jason (singer/songwriter) phoned me up to explain that he wanted to start a brand new band with me. Jason was full of new ideas for the project at the time, but he was also part of my existing band (Lover Octave) - so he essentially quit my band and we started a new one, all in the same phone call! We had the other potential members already in mind - Jason and Connor (drummer) had been in bands together before, and we knew Jemal (bassist) because literally everyone in the world knew him, so the minute my phone call with Jason ended we met up and worked overnight to assemble everything together. By the next day we had our full line up, a 24/7 rehearsal room and we were already discussing potential sound and image together at the pub that evening. It was really exciting. There’s a certain kind of feeling you get when you know a group of you are all fired up for something new. It still feels as exciting to this day given everything we’ve been through.
How did you get to the band name allusinlove, and what does it mean to you? Allusinlove means “All of us in Love.” The “All us” part of the name is actually Yorkshire slang for “Always” - so “Always in Love” is another meaning. After a few years of operating under the name Allusondrugs, we kept running into problems associated with the band name. It was giving off the wrong impression to fans and potential people we could have worked with, plus it was also very grammatically incorrect. Allusinlove isn’t that much easier grammatically, but it’s certainly void of any negative connotations. As the Beatles originally intended, All you need is Drugs, but they had to change it to Love for essentially the same reasons we did - so that it could travel as far as possible. Regardless, we left it to the very last moment to change our name. Allusinlove was a word that we were using a few years prior as our little community hashtag, did a summer tour in 2016 named The Allusinlove Tour and we’d had t-shirts and artwork made representing Allusinlove as our name. Overall it was a seamless transition. Allusinlove still means that everyone is on drugs, a population misguided and fooled by the greedy 1%, except in our world Love is Drugs, because that’s how they feed you the bullshit - they make you fall in love with it.
What is it like to be an upcoming band in Yorkshire? It’s actually really great - our hometown and surrounding areas are always such a good vibe. It’s especially nice when we leave the North and play shows down South or over in Europe. Seriously, I really don’t get where this whole “Bands should be somewhat out of reach, egotistical and ignorant towards their fans” attitude comes from, because everywhere we go we get people telling us they actually can’t believe we’re being humble and real with them! Why wouldn’t we be though? We have the best job in the world and these are the people that support us and keep us going - why would we ever be rude or nasty to them? Sort it out bands - your fans are there to keep you going so you can continue to do what you do - don’t be d*cks to them. Pop-Punk bands can be the worst for this sh*t.
Touring wise, what have you been up to this year, and can you give us a couple of personal highlights from your time on the road? We kicked off 2019 with a run of 19 UK shows and it was simply amazing! We sold out our hometown shows in Leeds & Sheffield and the response to the new material has been great and we met so many fans new and old. We also played a few one off shows in the UK and we did some promotional stuff in Paris. We played our first show in Warsaw, Poland too and we had such a good time, but it’s been hectic. To have fans singing our songs while we were 1200 miles away from home was just mind-blowing. We’re only a quarter of the way into the year and already we’re banking up so many highlights from the shows and tours just gone. Every time we play ‘Sunset Yellow’ live, someone sends a pack of Irn Bru up to the stage - that always makes us super happy!
When did the initial vision for 'It's OK To Talk' come together? Was there a particular song/track that sparked the whole album process maybe? The original version of 'It’s OK To Talk' came together as a bedroom idea when Jason first crafted the chorus progression and melody back in 2016. The idea sat dormant until we needed to pull together new material for our debut album. Upon listening back to the demo version we had we thought “this would actually make a really great song” - so we developed the idea further by adding two verses for it and we created an ascending delay-style intro to open up the song. Once we finalised the demo version, the final song had almost brought us to tears - there’s a lot of personal meaning in the lyrics and the moody notes in the chords really give way for Jason’s arresting vocal performance.
How did you get to the album title ‘It’s OK To Talk’, and what does it mean to you? We chose the title ‘It’s OK To Talk’ because we wanted to name the album after our most meaningful song. It was the title that everyone felt great about. That song helped us sum up and release exactly what was hurting us at the time, so it felt like an appropriate encapsulation and representation of our main body of work. It’s also a very important phrase and hashtag on the mental health front - not enough people feel confident to talk about what it is that is hurting them, so many of us will bottle up our emotions in order to not seem vulnerable. Many of us will turn to drugs and alcohol or unhealthy food in order to cope. The truth is, we are all vulnerable, we all hurt and we all need someone to talk to. Don’t suffer in silence. If you’re not feeling up to the task of emptying your emotions on a set of ears, then simply just play our music, or any other music - we guarantee this will help.
Can you elaborate on some of the other main themes and influences that run throughout 'It's OK To Talk'? The album is essentially a collection of our best songs, written and recorded between 2012-2018. Various musical themes run through the album as we consider ourselves very diverse and there are loads of different types of music that we adore. We just really love doing our own thing, so the debut album is a perfect reflection of that. We sing about love, sex, heartbreak, frustration, but most of all we use music as a coping mechanism for our shaky mental health - we are all somewhat troubled since our youth so music (in both a listening and performance capacity) has always been a release for us. Each song we make is a summary of emotions we’ve been bottling up, mixed with subliminal influences that have worked their way into our brains through the music we listen to.
Tough question time. What was the hardest song on 'It's OK To Talk' to put together, and why? The hardest song to put together was ‘All My Love’ - an all out guitar rock anthem inspired by Aretha Franklin and the 60s Motown stomping drumbeat. In theory, it’s our most simple song in terms of arrangement and technicality, but it was a real struggle in the studio. We ended up having to re-record the song three times over because we were having trouble with the groove, the tempo and the overall feel. We knew the chorus was a banging piece of music, but creating good verses was proving difficult. Super huge shoutout to Robin Howl and Catherine Marks for helping us bring this song to life. We needed some extra help with lyrics, phrasing and the overall theme. We spent more time on this song than any others and upon hearing the final version everyone was super happy with it. We consider this song the counterpart to our first single ‘All Good People’. The song is about giving literally all of yourself to someone even though they may not necessarily deserve it in the long run. As individuals we tend to do this a lot - we have a habit of diving in head first and giving all without the feeling actually standing the test of time. “Sometimes too much is never enough” is essentially the main lyric that encapsulates the meaning of that song.
How did you end up working with Catherine Marks, and how would you say that she helped shape the album? Our team introduced us to Catherine Marks and through her we met our idol mix engineer Alan Moulder. We were already aware of Alan and his work, so the possibility of having our album mixed by him, and produced by Catherine was extremely exciting. Alan and Catherine came to our pre-production session to watch us perform the songs we intended to record with them. This was the first time we’d met them both in person. Catherine was spectacular and she said she was blown away by our band. She’d literally just won an award for Producer of the year 2018 so we could not have had it any better. Catherine shaped the album in ways we never could - she was efficient at setting schedules in the studio, she made sure we got everything completed, she was knowledgeable on tones and what she was hearing in her head and she was able to translate this very well to us when she had ideas about other variations of guitar parts, drum grooves, vocal delivery or even lyrics. Catherine made some very important calls during the album sessions and her suggestions as producer made all the difference.
How excited are you for your upcoming performance at Download Festival, and what can attending fans expect? We’re extremely excited! It’s Download Festival! It was one of our best shows last time we did the festival circuit so we really can’t wait to come back. We’ve been bumped up a few stages too so that’s always really nice to see. We’ll have our album out by then, so we’re going to perform our standout tracks and we’ll also throw some carnage into the mix. If it’s anything like last time then our fans, and ourselves of course, are in for a real treat.
What else can we expect to see from allusinlove in 2019? All the love! We want to give our fans everything. We have our debut album coming out on 7th June, many more UK and Europe tours, we’re supporting Skunk Anansie in the summer and we’ll be setting up our own headline shows in places we love going back to! We also want to establish a really close connection with our fans this year so we’re going to be implementing a few new ideas across our social media pages - make sure to get involved and keep a close eye on our socials. New music is always our priority and giving it to you is what we are here to do. Make sure you come to a show if we’re playing near you. Love you all. Allusinlove x
Touring wise, what have you been up to this year, and can you give us a couple of personal highlights from your time on the road? Well, we’ve played everywhere, including Europe. Highlight would definitely be playing in Europe, to see some completely new faces.
When did the first glimpse of 'OK, I'm Sick' come about? Was there a particular song or moment that maybe sparked the whole album cycle for you? Summer 2017, right after we got off tour. The first song that sparked the style and vibe was ‘xANAx’.
So, how did you get to the album title 'OK, I'm Sick', and what does it mean to you? We went through a few different titles before we landed here. It’s a lyric from ‘xANAx’ and it felt like a great all-encompassing phrase to describe the album.
What else can you tell us about the themes and influences that run throughout 'OK, I'm Sick'? There’s a range of themes and influences on this album but other than the songs that speak directly about my personal struggles with panic disorder, I’d say it’s very observational.
Interview with Josh
How did the acoustic version/idea for 'Ghost' come together, and can you tell us a little bit about the meaning behind this track in particular? We were asked to do an acoustic version and there was a piano in the room at the time so I played it - done!
How did your latest single 'Promise Me' come together, and what did you enjoy the most about working on this track? Like the other songs on the album it started when a few small ideas came together. The most exciting part was deciding how it sounded sonically. It started as more of a singer/songwriter vibe - very soft. But then we decided to put it through this 2000s pop-punk filter because it felt appropriate for the story we were telling and we really loved the way it turned out.
We read that there were 50 ideas for the album itself. What was it like to actually get it down to the 13 songs that appear on the album? Painless. It was easy! These were the best songs and made the most sense as a collective idea.
How did the artwork for 'OK, I'm Sick' come together, and what does it mean to you? Tyler Shields, one of our favourite photographers, shot us and we decided to experiment with blood and that was that.
Tough question time. What was the hardest song on 'OK, I'm Sick' to put together, and why? ‘Promise Me’ because it was the song that was the most important to me and it took a lot of trial and error, and time and money, to get it to sound to the listener the way it sounded in my head.
What do you want the listener to take away from 'OK, I'm Sick'? A t-shirt!
How did you end up signing to Big Machine Records, and what have they been like to work with so far? We followed John Varvatos to Big Machine when he moved from Republic. We really, truly feel like we’ve found a family with Big Machine. They’re so supportive of everything we do - it’s been great.
How excited are you for your upcoming performance at Download Festival, and what can attending fans expect? Very excited. It’s a legendary festival, we’re honoured to play it.
What else can we expect to see from Badflower in 2019? Touring. Lots of touring.
Interview with Teddie
So, can you tell us how Yours Truly originally got together? Mikaila and I met on Facebook and we started playing together shortly after. I met Lachlan through a music program we both went to in high school and so I asked him to come meet Mikaila and that’s when things really started to form. We met Brad on Facebook when we were looking for a drummer to play a few shows we had coming up and we all just got along instantly.
How did you get to the band name Yours Truly, and what does it mean to you? We had been trying to decide on a name for months and so one day I was in class at school, fell asleep (as you do) woke up and that was the first thing that popped into my brain so I messaged everyone and they all said they didn’t hate it so it just kind of stuck.
What was it like to be an upcoming band in Sydney, Australia? There are so many amazing upcoming bands coming out of Sydney at the moment and it’s really amazing to have all these people around you who have the same passion for music as you. So it’s very positive!
Was there a particular moment when you realised that you had the potential to make a career out of music? For me it was the first time we all jammed together, everything just felt so right and I just had a feeling that we had something good but I never expected it would turn out like this.
How did you end up signing to UNFD records, and what have they been like to work with so far? They have been amazing to work with! They have just been helping us with anything and everything and a whole bunch of stuff we never would have even thought of. I feel like we have a really good relationship with them and we’re so happy to be one of their artists!
Touring wise, what have you been up to this year, and can you give us a couple of personal highlights from your time on the road? We started our year at Unify which was probably our favourite weekend as a band, we just had the best time watching all our favourite bands and getting to hang out with some of our closest friends. We followed that up by a quick run of Australia with The Faim who were some of the nicest people we’ve ever met!
When did the first glimpse of 'Afterglow' come together? Was there a particular song/moment that sparked the whole cycle for the EP maybe? ‘Afterglow’ first started with ‘High Hopes’. We wrote that song about a year before we released it and that was probably the spark that started it all. We also just spent a lot of nights at my house and someone would just play an idea and we’d all join in and try to write something on the spot!
How did you get to the EP title 'Afterglow', and what does it mean to you? We named it ‘Afterglow’ because we liked how it tied all the songs together and how they’re a description of the feeling after these events Mikaila sings about.
Can you elaborate on some of the other main themes and influences that run throughout 'Afterglow'? The main theme throughout ‘Afterglow’ is the things we have learned and experienced since releasing ‘Too Late For Apologies’ and how we have grown from these and have learnt to better ourselves and others in a positive way! We wanted to touch on the issues and turn them around to express how we feel.
Tough question time. What was the hardest song on 'Afterglow' to put together, and why? They all seemed to come together quite quickly and easily but in a way they were all quite tough just because we wanted them all to be perfect. ‘Delusional Paradise’ took the longest because we wanted Jake to have his own take on the song and write his own parts, so organising that between different states was hard!
How did the artwork for 'Afterglow' come together, and what does it mean to you? We asked our good friend Georgia Moloney because we love all of her photos and artworks that she has done! After Mikaila and Georgia had a chat about the whole meaning behind each song and the EP as a whole Georgia came back to us with a few different designs and we worked on something we all loved.
How excited are you for your upcoming performance at Download Festival, and what can attending fans expect? We’re super keen to be playing outside of Australia for the first time! People can expect four super keen Australians on stage playing the whole ‘Afterglow’ EP, having a great time!
What else can we expect to see from Yours Truly in 2019? We’re just about to go on tour with Hellions and Dregg around Australia then we’re off to Europe for Download Festival! BUT we have loads to announce for the rest of the year!
Interview with Pete and Zac
Can you tell us how Parting Gift originally got together? Pete: We came together following the end of various musical projects we’d been involved in previously. It was a dark period in our lives but we managed to turn it into something positive which we’re very grateful for.
How did you get to the band name Parting Gift, and what does it mean to you? Pete: It was quite literally inspired by a parting gift one of us received before moving abroad. It was a fitting name for something that went on to liberate us from some of the pain we’d had to go through.
What is it like to be an upcoming band in Manchester? Pete: It’s a very inspiring place, with a long history of great alternative / indie / rock music. That in itself is enough of a reason for any musician to live here and take it all in. The sound of this band would have definitely taken a different direction had it not been for Manchester’s atmosphere and weather too.
So, how did you end up signing to Fearless Records, and what have they been like to work with so far? Pete: Amazingly understanding and caring team of people. For such a big record label, they embraced what we do and welcomed us with open arms.
How did you get to the EP title ‘Ensom’, and what does it mean to you? Pete: We decided to use this title to pay homage to a place that gave us inspiration once. Also, if we were to sum up what we’ve done on this EP in one word, this would be it.
Can you elaborate on some of the other main themes and influences that run throughout ‘Ensom’? Pete: The themes in Zac’s lyrics and my lyrics kind of converged to form the concept. We don’t like being literal. In metaphorical terms, we’ve touched on such themes as OCD, impostor syndrome and some of the pressures we face in our lives.
You've said that "Going into Parting Gift, I was viewing everything in a really negative light. Even though things have changed now" can you elaborate on that, and maybe how you still go about channeling important negativity into your music? Zac: I think when I headed into Parting Gift originally it was off the back of a really bad year for me. I was at a loss with music and didn’t have any direction. When Pete and I crossed paths I found that it was easy to pen down these negative thoughts into songs. I still battle with these negative thoughts on a regular basis so although they are not as bad as they used to be I can still use them when it comes to writing new songs.
You've also said that you want people to "feel like they are an integral part of all of this." so can you elaborate on that, and maybe how you want to go about building a community kind of fan base, instead of being detached from them? Zac: I think it’s always important to feel part of something. A lot of our success is down to the people who have supported us so why shouldn’t we share our climb with them? Sometimes people forget that once they reach a certain level but I think we always want people to feel as much a part of this journey as we do.
Tough question time. What was the hardest song on ‘Ensom’ to put together, and why? Pete: ‘Pale’. It was such a massive step outside our comfort zone and we had to do a lot of things we’d never done before to make it work. That song was a real purgatory but we love the challenge of doing something like that.
How did the music video for ‘3:07 (Moonlight)’ come together, and what was it like to work with Olli Appleyard? Pete: We have worked with Olli for almost as long as this band has existed and he is a big part of what we do. We couldn’t do a lot of things without him and we love him very much.
Also, how did this particular track come together? Pete: In about two hours for the instrumental and not much longer in terms of vocals. Rapid fire inspiration I guess you could call it.
How excited are you to be taking on Download Festival, and what can fans expect from your set? Pete: It will be marking a new era in our career and we are working on a very special kind of show in the context of our band. The way we’ve always intended us to come across. If you’re puzzled by what we do or can’t quite make sense of it but you’re still drawn to it regardless, our appearance at Download Festival will clear it all up for you.
What else can we expect to see from Parting Gift in 2019? Pete: Lots of work behind the scenes in preparation for the biggest leap of faith of our career so far.
So when did the first glimpses of 'Fresh Produce' come about? Was there a particular song or moment that maybe inspired the album idea? I guess it was early 2018, not long after ‘Vacation’ came out that we decided to do some alternate versions of existing songs. We had an unreleased B-side in ‘Blur’ and in spring of 2018 we stayed in LA after a tour to work on a new single. With our previously released covers we realised we could have a full release already done without really planning it so that’s how it all came together.
What was it actually like to put together the track listing for this kind of release as well? The track listing was easier for this release compared to other LP’s just because there are previously released songs on it. We figured it was best to start the record with the newer full band tracks and work back from there.
How did you get to the album title 'Fresh Produce', and what does it mean to you? We didn’t want to call it a compilation because we felt people would write it off. ‘Fresh Produce’ to me kind of explains the fresh unreleased songs and takes on older songs.
Tough question time. What was the hardest song on 'Fresh Produce' to re-visit or put together, and why? I think it was probably ‘40 Over’. We had certain vibes we were rolling with for the others but ‘40 Over’ is such a dynamic song we wanted to do it justice in a new way.
How did the two new tracks for 'Fresh Produce' come together, and what were they like to work on? As I mentioned before ‘Blur’ was a song we did during ‘Vacation’ that didn’t make the cut for whatever reason. ‘Pleasures’ however was done while we had a little bit of time off in LA. We did it with Mike Green the same producer we worked with on ‘Vacation’ so it has that same polished upbeat feel. It was a lot of fun doing that song because there wasn’t the pressure of doing 10 more songs, just a one and done single.
What do you want the listener to take away from Interview with Ryan listening to 'Fresh Produce'? I just hope everyone enjoys hearing different takes on the older songs. It’s a release for the fans, a thanks for sticking around.
Looking back on 'Vacation', how happy are you with this album still, and what do you think that it's done for the representation of Seaway? I would say I’m happy but hungry. We love where it has taken us but are always looking to go further and get to that next step.
What songs are you still really enjoying performing live from 'Vacation' at the moment, and why? I still love playing all of them. ‘Blur’ is from the ‘Vacation’ era and we just threw that in the set so that’s been really fun revisiting after all this time.
What else can we expect to see from Seaway in 2019? We are currently writing a new record and plotting world domination for 2020.
Photo credit: Dana Trippe
So how and when did the idea for this solo debut first come about? Well, I have had it in the back of my mind for a long time really. Probably ten years, or even before The Killers I thought about a solo album, but it wasn’t until I took this break, hiatus from touring, or whatever you want to call it that I had the time to record at home, and finally spend time finishing songs. That’s what I did, and it was a lot of fun.
It's important to note that this isn't the reason you took the hiatus right, this release sort of naturally happened whilst being at home? Yeah, there’s a few things that I’d like to clear up. I didn’t quit to go solo, I made the solo album because I finally had time. My studio is at home. So I didn’t go somewhere to record, I did it all at home. Playing shows is my favourite part of it all. I’m playing a little bit here and there, I wish I was playing a lot more, but I can’t.
What was it like then, going back over your files/voice memos from your career so far, a process that saw you starting to piece together this new release? Was it nostalgic maybe? It was very nostalgic to try and remember where I was when some of them were wrote. Some of them have noise in the background that give clues. Some of them are labelled like “Demo from Dubai!” There were 100s, and it took a couple of days, because sometimes you get stuck on one. You listen to it, and try stuff out. You want to go straight through them all, but it takes a little bit of time to organize them a little bit.
So was there a particular voice memo/demo that you latched onto, that maybe started/sparked the whole process for your debut solo album? ‘Stuck Here On Earth’ started the whole album. I had this thing on guitar and I always liked it. There are certain riffs that I’ve hung onto over the years, as I felt that I had to do something with them, and that was the first one.
Also, at the time were these ideas all for The Killers, or did you think that they had the potential to be used for something different in the future? I would say that some of them were Killers demos, and then they ended up not getting used. I treated it like they were going to get used either way. I would just use them myself if those guys don’t want it. Then it seemed like on the last couple of Killers records that there’s too many songs on the board, and it seems hard to get yours in. It’s hard for anybody to get theirs in. A lot gets cut basically. They pick 10-12 songs, and cut like 40 – 50. There’s a lot left behind.
You've said that with the last few Killers albums it’s become harder to stamp your own identity on them. So can you tell us about how maybe, creatively rewarding this release has been for you to put together? Creatively it was extremely enjoyable for me. Just soul fulfilling to just be like “Okay, I like this song, and I’m going to finish it! I’m going to play this guitar part, and no one can stop me”. I did whatever I wanted, and I didn’t ask a whole lot of questions about why I liked this, or if it sounded like something else etc. I just thought “Do I like the way this sounds? Yes” Then I would keep going with it, and see where it goes.
How did you end up working with Brandon Darner, and how would you say that he helped shape your debut album ‘Prismism’? He has been a friend for a while. He produced another one of my friends bands actually, and I really liked the way it turned out, and the way that it sounded. I was like “Wow, he did a good job!” So I just thought that I’d work with him, instead of trying to go out and find some “Hollywood guy”. I like to work with guys that I know personally, that are maybe a little bit underrated. Maybe a lot of people didn’t know about him, but he is actually really good.
Every song on this release is different, and the record is diverse overall. Was that approach intentional, or did it just happen naturally? It came together naturally, because I like a lot of different stuff. I like bands like The Smashing Pumpkins, Queen, their songs flip all over the place as well. That’s how I felt like, I just wanted to treat each song like “on this one I’m going to do more guitar, and this one I’m going to do more acoustic”. I wasn’t sure if I could pick one sound, and make an album with just that, I wasn’t sure what that should be. So instead, I was like “I’ll just do one song at a time” and if I have one that’s keyboard heavy then that’s just that song, then the next one will be different. That’s probably how I’ll proceed moving forward, because I have a lot of different tastes in music that I like.
You got to do the guitar, bass and keys for the album so can you tell us about that process, and how exciting it was for you to just have that kind of creative control with every aspect of the instrumentation? It was free, and it was also convenient. Like sometimes no one else was around. It was fun because I don’t get to play on those other instruments in The Killers, I get to play guitar, usually. So it was just fun for me to finally do whatever I wanted, and not have to worry about some other guy saying “Oh, well that’s really my instrument” it was just fulfilling.
So, leading on from that then, when did you decide that you were going to do vocals yourself for this release? It was probably the first few months of recording where I wasn’t really sure that I wanted to sing. I had a lot of music done, and no vocals, I was thinking about having friends from other bands sing. I considered reaching out to singers in bigger bands, just to see what they would say. However, it just felt like that would be inconvenient, and I was already at home with the computer and microphone, and all I had to do was hit record and do it. You’ve just got to have the guts to do it, and I was just like “I’ll give it a shot!” It took me a while, because I’ve sung back up before, but this was different. I had to find my range, and how I should sing, what I can do, what I can pull off.
At first you were originally going to find someone else for the vocals right? So, what made you change your mind? Not a lot of people offered, but that’s probably because they didn’t know that I was doing it. It was like my secret at home. A few people knew, but like I said there wasn’t going to be many easy options. This was easier for me in general, because now I have a way to make music for the rest of my life. I can just finish it, instead of waiting on somebody.
What has it been like to write all of the lyrical content for this debut? I'm aware that Brandon pens most of it for The Killers, so how did it work for you did you just dive in and write what felt natural, or was it completely different? The lyrics are probably my least favourite part of this whole thing. I had a lot of vocal melodies right away, in my head. Then the lyrics are tough, and I can give you a few reasons why at least. I’m a little more forgiving to other people’s lyrics, now that I’ve had to do it. The tough part of lyrics is not knowing whether to sing some kind of line that has probably been sung a 100 times, that fits, and is relatable, and feels good. Or to try and have some theme that’s more complicated and artsy, elusive to some people. It’s tough. I’m probably not as good at writing lyrics as I am playing instruments, I’ll admit that for sure. Next time I’m going to do things a little bit different. This is my first go around. I took from all kinds of places for lyrics. I would think of any good line, and write it down in my notepad, and at least that would be a place to start. It’s not easy.
How much have The Killers fans been trying to dissect what’s going on? They are always dissecting it, and it’s funny the stuff that they dwell on, and stuff they don’t which I thought they would! It seems like people have missed a lot of the personal side of the record more than I thought. They are so focused on what it means in regards to the band or something else. It seems like they’ve focused on the wrong stuff.
What made you want to release 'Restless Legs' first, and can you tell us a bit about how that track in particular came together? I’m glad that you asked that question, because I didn’t necessarily want to release it first, but when it came time to talk to "radio people", and all of these other people that have their opinions, they were like “That’s probably your most radio friendly song” and I was like “Really?” It was like a pop experiment that I did at home one day. I felt that the album needed a pop song, so I just wrote one. I was experimenting with keyboards until I came up with something, and I wrote that song pretty quickly. It was lot of fun, I remember thinking that when I wrote it. That was my pop experiment, and then of course, that’s the one that they wanted. It would be hard for me to pick one song that represents the record, because they are all different from each other. So we went with that one, even though it’s one of the more poppier ones. I would of almost rather be known for my more rock stuff, but hopefully when people dig a little bit deeper they’ll find it!
With the song 'Prismism' it's mainly keyboards. How did it come together, and what was it like to work on? I love that one. That one was added sort of fairly late as well, I had a weird thing that started with this keyboard. It was a sound. I’ve had this keyboard ever since my mum gave it to our family for Christmas in the 80s. I took it with me to college, to Vegas with The Killers etc, and never used it. I didn’t really use it for any recording, and then I decided to start using it for my solo album finally. There are a couple of cool unique sounds on it, and the first ‘Prismism’ sound is from that. That’s just where the song started. The song was actually a lot weirder and more experimental, and then we cut it down to be only five minutes. It’s still the longest song on the record. I think because I don’t get to play keyboards as much in past other bands that I just had a lot of fun with it, because it was all new to me. I play sounds that are like stock sounds, and some keyboard players are like “You shouldn’t play that” and I’d be like “I don’t care what you think, it sounds good to me, and it works for the listener.”
Tough question time. What was the hardest song on ‘Prismism’ to put together, and why? It might of actually been ‘Stuck Here On Earth’. That was the first song that got us started, but then it kept evolving. Most of the evolving was a lot of fun, and I enjoyed it. I sang different at the start of the record, than I did at the end. So that one was one that I almost resang a couple of different times. I think that we kept some of the resinging, and I think that I second guessed the vocals on that one. Even though it’s probably my favourite one. I found that some people didn’t like it. Some people are lyric people, and then some are not. I feel like that song is more about the music and other things more so than the lyrics maybe, just a little bit, because I have some strange lyrics. I just kind of threw them together on some of the verses, and I guess, it works for me.
So how has your UK tour been going so far? Well that’s the thing, I had to come over to the UK, as it is a must play. I love the UK, I love the fans. I flew a band over and everything because I knew that it was going to be fun, and it’s been a really fun tour so far, and it’s something that I’ll probably always try and do on other albums that I put out, I’d at least like to make it over here a little bit. It’s always been good to The Killers. America is a little tougher for music in general.
It must be interesting to be playing in these somewhat smaller venues for yourself? Being closer to the audience? It’s a lot of fun, I always like the smaller shows, and the big shows. My shows aren’t big ones right now, and that’s fine. I’m so happy if anyone shows up, and knows the words. That just makes my day. It’s been a lot of fun, and I meet most of the fans afterwards. It’s been great!
How important was it for you to ensure that coming from The Killers, these solo shows included sets of only your own material and not The Killers? As some musicians do just that to appease the audience? It is tough. It’s something that I thought about a lot, and I’m not ruling it out for the future. Playing Killers songs, or just one Killers song. For at least the first time around, I wanted people to not expect that at my shows. It’s weird because I’m not the singer of those songs, so I shouldn’t be expected to play those songs. I understand the audience as well, because those are good songs, and I like them! Maybe we should just all have fun with it, and treat it like a cover. I’ll see if I ever cross that bridge, because I can see the controversy in it also. Everyone will be like “You should play a Killers song!” then the second I play a Killers song they’ll be like “Hey, you shouldn’t be playing those songs!”
So, what was the actual first live show for you like as a solo musician with this album cycle? Stepping out onto the stage for the first time to take on lead vocals? It was in San Diego, and the first song was the toughest. After that I got it rolling. I wasn’t in my basement any more. I just tried to focus on the monitors and hearing myself, and not worry about the crowd. Just trying to sing right. When it was over they cheered, and that made me feel better. Instead of like booing and heckling. I think I sang one song when I was in high school with this band I was in, and I got heckled afterwards. It really made me scared to do it again, and I wish I wouldn’t of been so easily scared off, because then I would of sang a lot more in the past.
So sorry, but I've taken a look at the setlist for a couple of the other dates, and noticed that you had a couple of covers in there, from Depeche Mode to Rex Orange County! What made you want to cover them, and how did you go about bringing your own approach to the tracks? For Depeche Mode I’ve always liked them. Someone recommended it to me, and I was like “Yeah, I love that!” It’s probably my favourite Depeche song, and it’s just a fun cover to do. It works well, I seem to be able to pull it off. With Rex Orange County, I was just like “Man, I need a cover”. I was driving, and I couldn’t think of what it should be. I didn’t want to have all 80s stuff. It came on the radio, and I was like “That’s a cool song, that I wish I wrote.” Just such a simple chorus, a perfect song. I was like “Well, I didn’t write it, but I can cover it!” Just appreciate it. I drag it out with the guitar solo, because it’s just an excuse to play a guitar solo. So we just have fun with it live.
Now that you've got a taste of the solo musician life, and you've got your first release out there. What do you think we can expect from this side adventure going forward? Especially as you must have a lot of material still to share? Just more stuff. I don’t know when it will be when I put out the next release. I think in the future I might put out like one song here and there. I see bands that do that occasionally, they’ll put out one song. I’m for sure going to put out albums as well. Those might take longer. I’ve got a lot of demos made already for whatever will be the next record. Hopefully fans will keep an eye out for them, and I’ll be playing shows here and there. I have more shows later this year in North America. I love playing shows. Not like hardcore touring, but like a festival here, a two week run here and there. That kind of thing.
Yeah, with the digital age, people are unsure of how to release material? No, and with some of my upcoming material I might not even promote it. I might just put it out. Make a song at home that I really like and just put it up on Instagram, like “Hey, there’s a song if you want it, it’s on Spotify!” just do it that way.
Touring wise, what have you been up to this year, and can you give us a couple of personal highlights from your time on the road? We did a run with Waterparks recently and are just starting a headlining tour, which began last night in Salt Lake City (Our home town.) My wife and kids were side stage. That’s always a highlight when I get to have them with me.
So, how did iDKHOW originally form/get together? We began playing shows in secret after getting together to make some recordings. It was all just for fun initially. A way to have a creative outlet of my own. And it just sort of took on a life of its own.
How did you get to the band name I Don't Know How But They Found Me, and what does it mean to you? It’s a line from an old film, Back To The Future. I’ve just always loved that phrase. I wanted to use it for a song or an album title, but when we began playing shows in secret it really seemed to fit what we were doing.
erview with Dallon
When did you realise that you had the potential to make a career out of iDKHOW, or maybe, that there was longevity to this band? It was soon after I posted a lyric video for ‘Choke’. It just sort of took off and we realised that people may actually want to be a part of what we’re doing.
How did you end up signing with Fearless Records, and what have they been like to work with so far? There were a few labels that came our way, but Fearless Records was the one label that offered 100% creative control over everything that we do. So the choice was easy.
Looking back on '1981 Extended Play', how happy are you with this EP still, and what do you think that it's done for the representation of iDKHOW? I’m very proud of it! Part of me wishes that I could’ve had more time to work on the songs, but sometimes recording a song is just capturing a moment. And that’s definitely what the ‘1981’ EP is.
So "iDKHOW are offering fans the chance to design their own artwork" how did this idea come about, and what has it been like to work with your fan base this way? Our fans have always been amazing artists. From the get go they’ve been sending art our way, and it’s a little bit overwhelming how amazingly talented these fans are. The contest was put together by our team, I don’t really know a lot about it, but I hope it’s something that turns out being really positive for everyone who is contributing, it’s amazing to see.
It might be early days, however, if you've started work on any new material just yet, what can fans expect from it? We are further into the process then people think, but there is still a lot to do. Unfortunately the album process always seems to take longer than you want it to. As far as expectations go, I can’t really say. I hope the people end up liking it, but speaking for myself this is probably the most excited that I’ve ever been making music.
How excited are you for your upcoming UK/European tour, and what can attending fans expect? Very! They can just expect songs from the EP, some old Brobecks songs, and a cover that’s very near and dear to my heart. ‘Debra’ from Beck’s ‘Midnite Vultures’, it’s a little bit self indulgent, but I love it so much and I’ve always wanted to do it. I really hope the fans like it, though.
As a UK based publication, we must ask, what do you remember the most about coming to the UK for the first time as iDKHOW? Playing London for the first time. I’ll remember that for the rest of my life. The crowd and the energy was overwhelming.
What else can we expect to see from iDKHOW in 2019? My greatest hope is to have an album out as soon as possible
Photo credit: Vince Sadonis
So, why did now feel like the right time to bring back The Color Fred? The Color Fred is what I use instead of my name. It's like my rap name. I'm lucky enough to have talented players that help me play live and turn it into more of a band.
Can you tell us a bit about the current line-up in the band, and how it all came together? Keith Gibbons, my bass player, hit me up when he heard I was starting to play again. I knew Keith from when he sang for Modern Suits which is a Philly band that toured a lot with Terrible Things. Keith said he learned every song I ever wrote and I was like, â€œdamn, where am I gonna find more dedication and enthusiasm than this guy?!â€? After we played together we tried a few drummers and guitarists out. I really felt like I needed this to be with new people. I wanted to be inspired again and I wanted things to feel fresh and really positive. That was the main requirement, no egos, just positive vibes.
Also, we know that you produce as well as play in other bands, so can you tell us about what else you've been up to in the last couple of years? I've been through a lot these last 5 years. They were probably the hardest I've ever had. I built a studio in my house. I did a good amount of writing and producing. I recorded about 10 bands over 2 years and then we wound up needing to move. The day we moved, I was standing in my empty studio and I realised I hadn't recorded anything of my own that whole time. That was pretty much my mid-life crisis right there. We got to the new house and my wife wanted to make sure I had another studio. I built it by myself a year ago and this one's my dream studio. Our house is much smaller but the studio is twice as big. So, this time, I said, I can't record anyone else until I have my own songs out. Now my goal is to finish a song every month or so.
When did the first glimpses of 'Don't Give Up On Me' come about, and what else can you tell us about how this song in particular came together? I've been playing the intro riff and the verse riff for years but could never figure out how to turn it into a song. That's always the hardest thing because if you can't sing over it or find a decent chorus, then the world's best riff is just an incomplete part. In this case, I just kept re-recording it with different choruses. It took more work than most songs I've written but of course, you want it to sound natural, so I just kind of waited and over time each part came together.
Also, if possible, can you elaborate on the main lyrical content that runs through the track? The first verse is about my journey to try to better myself. I've never been an overly positive guy even though I show that on the outside. So, I've really been working on that. After I started playing again this year and I felt like things were heading in the right direction for me, I found that my grief affected my relationship along the way. Even though I finally felt better, I found myself in a position that I was trying to save my 20 year relationship. It was on one particularly bad week that I wrote the main lyrics to this song.
How excited are you to be playing some shows this year, and what do you think fans can expect from you on the live front? We play Philly and New York in June. The band is sounding amazing right now, so I want to play as much as possible. I think a tour will happen but we'll hit up all of the Northeast this year and then branch out from there.
It's been ten years since the release of 'The Intervention' EP! Looking back on it, what do you remember the most about putting it together? That was done for Record Store Day. It was recorded for free by students in the basement of Drexel University. I had a terrible cold when we did the singing but it was the only day we could get the studio. It kind of drives me crazy because I can tell that I was sick on some of the songs. But, I think for what it was, it came out good. I could see re-recording some of the songs from that in the future.
We must ask, have you started work on anymore new material just yet, if so, what can we expect from it? Even though my process is very meticulous and organic, I basically have the song factory set up now. More songs are almost ready and I'll be releasing them very soon.
What do you enjoy the most about being a part of the music scene in Philadelphia? When Breaking Pangaea played our reunion show last month, we had to add a 2nd show because the first one sold out. I made a joke that “if only” that could have happened back when we existed. Philly still surprises me with how awesome it is now. I went to college at Temple in the 90s and it was not always this great. Philly was always the underdog city. But, I have to say I'm really glad it's gotten so good. Let's keep it going.
What else can we expect to see from The Color Fred in 2019? My plan is just to create everyday and see what starts to accumulate. The plan for 2019 is anything is possible. I started a video series and podcast called “In The Shed with Fred.” I started it as a way to give fans a look into my world. I do some playing and storytelling but it's also about my processes. I take fan questions to keep it interactive. My thought was rather than just put songs on Spotify and wait for plays, I want to give people a lot more and I also wanted to do a lot more.
Interview with Sammy
So when did the first glimpses of 'Eternal Forward Motion' come about? Was there a particular song or moment that maybe inspired the album cycle? I would have to say that the title track probably was the spark that initiated the fire for what became the overall theme for the album cycle. It wasn’t the first song that was written for the record but I would say it was the one that brought it altogether. There’s a lot of negative themes on this record but the overall message is to strive to overcome these hurdles in life, and the title track is the track that truly represents what the album is about.
How did you get to the album title 'Eternal Forward Motion'? The title represents to me faith in tomorrow. When going through a difficult time you really need to grab a hold of your future and direct it where you want it to go. It’s so easy putting this into words compared to actually having to deal with these issues and bettering yourself but you are capable of doing such incredible things but unfortunately your mind sometimes wants to tell you otherwise.
On 'Eternal Forward Motion' there are themes to do with technology taking over, as well as maybe people taking each day for granted. So can you maybe tell us a bit more about the lyrical content that runs throughout the album? On the technology side of things, ‘Reality Filter’ is the only song that talks about that directly. It’s a hot topic these days but there truly is a problem with people’s relationship with social media and self comparison. People use tools like Facebook and Instagram to show the highlights of their lives, and people really need to remember that’s all it is. Social media gives an unrealistic idea of what people should have achieved in their lives when in reality all you should be pursuing is your own happiness, and sometimes that is achieved with the most simple things.
What was the hardest song on 'Eternal Forward Motion' to put together, and why? In all honesty there wasn’t a particularly difficult track to put together on this record. If anything we were fairly spoilt for choice as we had to pick 10 songs from the 12-13 we had written. It was a good time for songwriting where everything seemed to be coming together very naturally.
Leading on from this, how would you say that you've grown/changed as musicians? I think we’re all very comfortable in who we are as a band now and how we all play together. We’ve been doing this for a while and playing together is completely natural.
You've said that "This is the album that defines who we are as a band", so can you elaborate on that, and maybe how you think this record compares overall to anything you've done before? I think a band/artists third record should be a staple for who they are and I feel like we’ve really achieved that with ‘EFM’. We still have elements from our first two records but I feel like this album has seen those ingredients solidified into a solid and cohesive sound.
How did the artwork for 'Eternal Forward Motion' come together, and what does it mean to you? The idea came from noticing how we’re all guilty of taking a lot of the good stuff in life for granted. The factory is supposed to symbolise all the stuff we clutter our minds with, that when it comes down to it, doesn’t really matter. The heart/central cog covered in vines and organic life is supposed to represent the incredible beauty that surrounds us everyday.
What else can we expect to see from Employed To Serve in 2019? More shows and keeping busy as always!
Interview with Kaan & Noddy
So, when did the first glimpses of 'The Disconnect' come about? Was there a particular song or moment that maybe sparked the whole album cycle? Kaan - ‘The Disconnect’ was started back in 2016 with a bunch of rough demos, but was nowhere near complete until mid-2018. The key moment in the writing process was September 2018 when we locked ourselves away for 2 weeks to finalise all the tracks before going into the studio. I guess the song that sparked the whole album process was ‘Collapse’ without that song we wouldn’t have the album.
In regards to the writing process for this album, you've said that it "was not an easy process to begin with", so can you elaborate on that, and maybe how you initially overcame this hurdle? Noddy – It took us a while to get back into the swing of things and finding the inspiration to write. Many early songs got binned off or completely re-written from scratch. In the end we set up a studio external from our homes and locked ourselves away for ten whole days in a rented studio space. We didn’t come out again until we were happy with the tracks. This process gave us a chance to break apart songs and put them back together again and explore different options vocally.
How did Kaan Tasan become a part of Heart of a Coward, and what has he brought to the band so far? Noddy - Kaan was a friend of that band that we had met on the road many years ago, he actually drove us on a few tours and we had played shows together at various times. Having toured with us we knew he would fit in and be able to put up with the mental barrage of sh*t this band fires at each other, this and being a great vocalist meant it was a no brainer.
How did you get to the album title 'The Disconnect', and what does it mean to you? Noddy - ‘The Disconnect’ refers to no longer feeling a connection to the world around you. For most people life is a struggle and you can’t turn a corner without seeing some sort of injustice or destruction happening. Sometimes the face of humanity appears so ugly you just have to turn a blind eye.
With the lyrical content, you've said that it refers to "the feeling of a complete lack of control over your surroundings", so can you elaborate on that, and maybe what else we can expect from the themes & influences that run throughout the album? Kaan - There’s so much f*cked up sh*t going on in the world at the moment, it’s hard not to feel that things are getting out of control. The album draws inspiration musically and lyrically from everything that f*cks us off!! Could be political, could be personal, the influences across the album vary.
How did the music video for 'Collapse' come together, and what was it like to work with Sitcom Soldiers? Kaan - Sitcom are the best dudes and really know their stuff!! We shot the ‘Drown In Ruin’ video with them too – you pretty much just send them the track plus lyrics and they’ll do the rest… like put an idea together, build props, hire actors etc. It was a great experience all round, their compound is awesome!
How did you end up working with Justin Hill & Will Putney, and what did you think that they brought to 'The Disconnect'? Kaan - We’ve all known Justin for a long time and the guys recorded the vocals for ‘Severance’ and the whole of ‘Deliverance’ with him, so it was a no brainer when it came to recording ‘The Disconnect’. The guys used Will to mix and master ‘Severance’ and we wanted a similar aggressive, punchy mix for ‘The Disconnect’, so yeah another no brainer to hire Will.
Leading on from this, how would you say that the sound of Heart of a Coward has grown/progressed on this record? Noddy - I honestly feel like we have written our heaviest but most melodic album. Don’t ask me how that works. I guess, as we grow older and develop as both musicians and people, it’s reflected in our music. Whatever happens, there’s always that core HOAC sound that never dies.
How excited are you for your upcoming UK tour, and what can attending fans expect? Kaan - Absolutely buzzing for the album release tour, fans can expect the same high energy, brutal, hard hitting live set with some new tracks in there to spice things up!
Also, how excited are you to be taking on Download Festival, and how crucial do you think this festival is to the UK? Kaan - We’re all extremely excited about playing Download, it’s a bucket list festival for sure. There’s so much history at Donnington, it’s a huge part of the UK heavy metal scene, so many great bands have played there. It’s a real honour to be playing.
What else can we expect to see from Heart of a Coward in 2019? Kaan - As you mentioned we’ve got our UK tour 4th - 8th June with our album launch party on the 7th at The Underworld in London, then Download and Radar Festival in the UK, then a bunch of European festivals over the summer and we’ll be touring again later in the year.
Interview with Hannes
Touring wise, what have you been up to this year, and can you give us a couple of personal highlights from your time on the road? There hasn’t been much touring so far this year. We did play our first summer festival show a couple of weeks ago though. In -10 degrees celsius. A very surreal but fun experience. Our fingers hurt like hell and every piece of equipment broke down. Very beautiful scenery though, on the top of a mountain in Switzerland. Not complaining.
So, when did the first glimpses of 'Club Majesty' come about, was there a particular song or moment that maybe sparked the whole album cycle? Yes. There is usually one specific song that gets the whole process going and that really sparks the creativity. On the ‘Weekend-Man’ album that song was ‘When I See You Dance With Another’. For ‘Club Majesty’ that song was ‘Fireman & Dancer’. Once that was finished we knew in what direction we wanted to take the album and we kind of built the album around that one song.
How did you get to the album title 'Club Majesty', and what does it mean to you? When we very first started out we had three ideas for a band name, with one of them being Club Majesty. After having finished about 50% of the songs for this album we figured that it sounded like something you’d want to dance to in a nice, almost posh kind of nightclub. I think it was Adam who said something along the lines of ”we should just call it ‘Club Majesty’, it’d be like going full circle”. And that’s what we did. It really fits the whole mood of the album. Once the album title was nailed down, all other pieces of the puzzle fell into place i.e artwork and the whole visual concept. All these things sort of go hand in hand and if there’s one piece missing the whole house of cards come crumbling down.
Can you tell us a bit more about some of the main themes and influences that run behind the album? While writing and producing this album we had one set of rules; anything goes and there is no such thing as taking stuff too far or doing too little or too much. We have too much fun making music to set boundaries or censor our own ideas, no matter the level of stupidity. We wanted to make an album with the purpose of getting people in a good mood. A lot of bands out there deal with social and/or political issues and that’s great. The world needs that. Maybe now more than ever! But we decided a long time ago to offer something different. A get-away if you will. This sort of songwriting comes naturally to us and we’re prouder than ever with the result.
How did the music video idea for 'Boomerang' come together, and what was it like to work with Leo Åkesson? Leo is a dear friend of ours. We love him, respect and admire him. He did a couple of videos for the last album and we trust his visions and ideas. So what happened was basically this; we called him up and said “Leo - we need a couple of videos. Just tell us where to be, when to be there and what to do.” He did, and the results are awesome. It’s so good having someone that you trust completely and feel completely safe with. He totally gets what it is we’re trying to do but he also has a big portion of creative integrity which is very much a must in order to come up with something original and cool.
Who produced 'Club Majesty', and how would you say that they helped shape it? It was produced by Christian Neander, Michael Tibes and Adam. Neander and Tibes also produced ‘Weekend-Man’ and we saw no reason to change a winning team for ‘Club Majesty’. The main thing about having a producer stepping in is getting the input from someone on the ”outside”, i.e someone who is not in the band. Not to tell you what to do, which we would never allow him, her, or them to do, but to point you in a direction that you might not have thought of going. Someone to make sure you don’t get stuck in a routine and make sure you put in your very best performance in regards to not only writing, but also performing in a studio situation.
What was the hardest song on 'Club Majesty' to put together, and why? I think ‘Anna-Leigh’ was at least one of them. We had the riff, verse and verse melody but could not for the life of us figure out where we wanted to go with the chorus. We must have recorded at least five different choruses for that song until we stumbled across the huge and glorious chorus that is now one of the proudest moments in Royal Republic history. Love that sh*t. Some songs happen in an hour, some take years. It’s frustrating at times but totally worth the effort when things come into place.
How would you say that the sound of Royal Republic has grown/changed on 'Club Majesty'? We decided early on never to let ourselves be hindered by rules or the do’s and dont’s that sometimes seem to surround the music industry. Whatever the genre, there seems to be a set of rules that you’re not supposed, under any circumstances to break. That sort of thinking just triggers us to do the complete opposite. We have no guilty pleasures - only pleasures. We come from such musically different backgrounds and I think that one of our strengths lies in the fact that we have the sense to use that to our advantage. If a song idea cries out for an 80s influenced chorus or an EDM-drop, then that’s what we’re going to do. We have always been, and will always be a rock band. And going against the grain is what rock n’ roll is all about. It’s in the DNA - doing your own thing. So we’re doing our own thing. Even more so on this album than previous ones; it’s something that we’re very proud of.
Looking back on 'Weekend Man', how happy are you with this album still, and what do you think that it's done for the representation of Royal Republic? We are still extremely happy with ‘Weekend-Man’. A lot of things came together for us during the songwriting process of that album. It was, as are all Royal Republic albums, a pain in the ”a” to write but we found out a lot of things about ourselves as individuals and as a band and it helped to push us in a musical direction that is now what we consider the sound of Royal Republic. For ‘Club Majesty’ we basically picked up where ‘Weekend-Man’ ended and pushed the envelope even further.
What songs are you still really enjoying performing live from 'Weekend Man' at the moment, and why? I really enjoy playing ‘Walk’ since we came up with this ridiculous choreographed dance during the guitar solo. Dancing is fun!
How excited are you for your upcoming slot at Download Festival, and what can attending fans expect? Download has always been extremely good to us and a lot of good things came to us off the back of playing Download. So saying that we’re exited is sort of an understatement… People can expect us to do our very best - to put on the most entertaining, fun, well sounding and good looking show we possibly can! The rest is pretty much up to the people attending. Takes two to tango, You know…
What do you remember the most about touring in the UK for the first time? A lot of the stuff we grew up listening to came out of the UK, so going there for the first time was sort of overwhelming and very humbling. I also remember being very well received from the get go and enjoying the fact that people actually took their time to go check out a band they’ve never heard of before. That doesn’t happen everywhere and you guys should be proud of that. Thank you!
What else can we expect to see from Royal Republic in 2019? Right now we’re super excited to start doing shows again. We’ve already kicked off the festival season and we have a huge tour coming up starting in October, which includes eleven UK dates. Touring, touring, touring. The best part of this circus that we’re fortunate enough to call our job. Can’t wait to take this beast of an album on the road!
So, how did Too Many Zooz originally get together? The year was 2012. Leo P and the King of Sludge were playing in a band in the subway called the Drumadics. After a long hit in the subway one day, Sludge asked the band if anyone wanted to come down to the subway the following day to play off permit to make a few extra bucks. The next day came, and Leo was the only guy who showed up. And so it was, and they jammed. After some time, this became somewhat of a normality; playing the permit hits with Drumadics, and then playing off permit on days off, that is. They jammed for a month or two, sometimes accompanied by Sludge's son, who was playing djembe at the time. One day, Leo and I were hanging out at his apartment. He was leaving to go play with Sludge, and invited me down. We played that day, and there very clearly an energy was created... something tangible and cool that we all vibed with. So, with that, we started playing every day. Fast forward 7 years and I'm sitting here typing this email.
Was there a particular moment when you realised that you had the potential to make a career out of Too Many Zooz, if so, what do you remember the most from this? I'm not sure how it is for everyone else (perception is a funny thing), but I rarely experience these type of grossly specific movie-like moments such as the one you're describing. I think this is partially due to how my brain categorizes my memories and feelings. I remember eras, not moments. Time periods - ya know? The songs I was listening to for a certain few months, or what kind of food or fashion I was into for that year. It takes something really outstanding for me to remember it with clarity. It was around the beginning of 2014, around February or March. I woke up to the sound of my phone buzzing repeatedly. I turned over and looked at my phone - I had something like 150 text messages, and 100 emails, and 75 missed calls, all from the time I went to sleep to when I woke up. I thought something really bad had happened. As I hastily began reading all of the messages and listening to the voicemails, I quickly discovered that we had gone viral through the front page of Reddit. There was tons of coverage. Phone was off the hook. TV shows all emailing us asking us if we could come on, or if they could use our footage. It was f*cking mental mate. That's basically the only moment where I can remember thinking about the success we might have.
Interview with Matt
Touring wise, what have you been up to over the last couple of months, and can you give us a couple of personal highlights from your time on the road? We’ve been all over the place. Too many places to count. The band has essentially been on the road for the past 5 years. Doing something like 200+ shows a year... it makes it a bit harder to remember and keep track of everything. The reality is, it’s always pretty mad playing a show and looking out into a sea of people screaming their faces off asking for another tune.
You guys are currently rehearsing for your summer shows! Can you tell us a bit that process, and maybe how long it can take to go through a song or even a set? Rehearsal for us is just about doing what we need to do to make the show better. That can mean a million different things, whether it’s musical rehearsal, choreo, blocking, lighting, etc. I think the most important part of rehearsal for us is just getting in a room together with no time constraints, having fun, and focusing our energy together to better the show. A lot of the times, we'll just talk for hours. It’s all about finding what we need to help us and or the show and doing that.
So, looking back on 'Subway Gawdz', how happy are you with this album still, and what do you think that it's done for the representation of Too Many Zooz? I'm very proud of that album. Years of time, hundreds of thousands of dollars, blood, sweat, and tears went into that project. I think it's done nothing but good things for Too Many Zooz. It’s a project that I think will stand the test of time.
What songs are you still really enjoying performing live from 'Subway Gawdz' at the moment and why? To keep it one hundred, all the songs are the same to me. I've played and or listened to them more times than I can count. That's not a bad thing, That's just how it works. Again, I'm always focusing on the future.... waaayyy more worried about what we’re doing next. This is just stuff I simply don't think about.
Tough question time. What was the hardest song on 'Subway Gawdz' to put together? I can't say what tune was the hardest to put together because I just don't view it like that. They all each took our undivided attention to detail. Months and months went into every single record you hear on that project, and the same amount of love and dedication was shown to each one.
Is there anything you learnt from creating that album, that you'll maybe take with you going forward as musicians, and maybe apply to future material? Absolutely. That album taught me love, patience, and pain. It showed me how I like to work, and what not to do.
Have you guys started work on any new music just yet, and what do you think fans can expect from it? We're sitting on a ton of music right now. We know it’s been a minute, but this is the sort of attention to detail I was talking about. I have 2 1TB hard drives, both of which are filled to the brim with songs. Now, a lot of that is my own sh*t, but the mentality carries over to Zooz. We write a lot. We record a lot. Most importantly, we care a lot and we want to make sure that what we release is of the highest order and something our fans can take home and listen to 1000 times without getting tired or bored. Stick with us, and be patient. I promise that it will be worth it.
How did the song 'Get Busy' come together, and what was it like to see it become a part of the movie 'The Package'? We're all fans of Sean Paul, and decided to cover the tune way back. It’s always nice to see our music in movies or TV or whatever. No complaints.
How did you end up collaborating with Jess Glynne on the track 'Warriors'? Honestly, that was orchestrated by the label. We both work with Sony, and we were looking for a top line to put over the KDA record. Our AR reached out and got the tune to her. She heard it and fell in love. Soon after, she put the scratch vox over it. Did one final session after that to lay the official vox and it was a wrap.
How did the idea for the 'A Very Too Many Zooz Xmas' come together, and what did you enjoy the most about giving the Too Many Zooz approach to these classic songs? We just wanted to record some music, and put it out for our fans without it being our true sophomore effort. ‘Subway Gawdz’ took a lot of time and effort, and on our second full length, we want to give the same sort of attention to detail. It was fun to take the tunes and mess with them, make them our own.
Touring wise, what are you getting up to this year, and how would say that your live approach has changed? USA, Europe, Canada, South Africa, UK. That’s off the top of my head, our live approach hasn't changed, and that’s what I think people like about us. With that being said, we’re always adding new elements, like new lights, and new sound, etc. Generally speaking, fans can expect a great show.
What else can we expect to see from Too Many Zooz in 2019? Music, videos, tours. I don’t know, what do you want to see?!
Interview with Spike
How did the idea for Me First and the Gimme Gimmes first come about, and can you tell us how the original line-up came together? Mike and Joey were fond of saying that the only good songs on most ‘90s punk records were the covers, so they decided to form a covers only band. I was in the Fat Wreck Chords shipping department, singing along to Stevie Wonder records. I think Fat just needed to get me out of the shipping dep’t, as I was doing some real damage there.
Was there a particular moment when you realised that you had the potential to make a career out of this? If so, what do you remember the most from that time? I’m still kinda stuck in that time of potential, which is very motivational. There are other musical projects such as my punk boogie band, the Re-Volts, and my new Panamanian boleros band, Los Nuevos Bajos, whose potential have yet to be realized, and I’m very excited to see what comes of them. I like to think about potential rather than past effort or accomplishment.
Touring wise, what have you been up to this year, and can you give us a couple of personal highlights from your time on the road? We went to the Antipodes earlier in the year, and saw good friends and stunning victorian and art-deco architecture. Some nasty looking muscle-cars, too. I love the energy in Japan, even if it is a little radioactive.
What was the touring cycle like for ‘Rake It In: The Greatestest Hits’, and can you give us a couple of highlights from looking back over your career with this release? We hit the road quite a bit that year and the following one. Travel to faraway places is always a gas, and getting paid to do it is a privelege.
Were there any songs that you really enjoyed playing live that you maybe hadn't done in a long time? If so, how exciting was it for you to perform them for the masses? Everytime we tour I pick a new song to play on ukulele, and if we’re going to non-English speaking places I try to get one together in the native tongue. That is scary and exciting.
It's been twenty years since the release of 'Are a Drag', looking back on that record, what do you remember the most about putting it together? Everything was about potential at that time. We had only done one record so far, which was actually just kind of a collection of singles. It felt like we were catching a groove with that one.
We must ask, has work started on a new release just yet, if so, what do you think that fans can expect from it? We have been diligently demo-ing and practicing new material in the hopes that we’ll have some releases out very soon. Expect a surprise.
How excited are you for your upcoming performance at Download Festival, and what can attending fans expect? I can barely contain myself. I’m like a teenage girl at a Beatles concert. Expect spectaclular costumes, dancing, witty repartée... When Jerry Cape hits tone-town all bets are off.
As a UK based publication, we must ask, what do you remember the most about coming to the UK for the first time? Binge drinking, fried foods, good-time rock and roll music.
What else can we expect to see from Me First and the Gimme Gimmes in 2019? Hi-jinks, double-entendres, laffs, a sickly-sweet taste in your mouth that won’t seem to go away...
Interview with Josh
It's been four years since the release of 'FM', why do you think this release took a little bit longer than the last album cycle to come together, or did it just naturally happen that way? Yeah so after the release of ‘FM’ we did 2 years and 10 months of touring where there was no longer than 3 weeks at a time without being on the road somewhat. When you’re touring to survive, we unfortunately got caught in a bit of a trap where we had to play to pay for our own lives and all the costs of running the band, and studio time was kind of a luxury we couldn’t afford until we were ready to record an album. On the other hand, we’re very lucky to have eaten off of our last album for so long, but yeah, this one definitely took longer to get together than we would of liked due to the reality of finances, as we paid for everything ourselves.
So, how did you get to the album title 'Swimming Lessons', and what does it mean to you? ‘Swimming Lessons’ is from a lyric in the first single ‘Learning To Swim’. ‘Swimming Lessons’ as a concept felt like something that was applicable to many songs on the record, and also the band. Learning to swim and stay afloat pretty much sums up the feeling of trying to survive as an independent band a lot of the time!
We've read that this is "Lyrically your darkest and most introspective release to date", so can you elaborate on that, and maybe a bit more about what we can expect from the lyrical themes that run throughout the album? Yeah, I mean I want the lyrics to speak for themselves, but there’s not really any songs about partying or having a carefree time on this record. Jamie has written a whole bunch of heartbreak music on this album, we’re also dealing with the political anxieties of the Trump/Brexit era, our smart phones listening to our conversations, the passing of a young family member and the end of the world.
You've said that "on Swimming Lessons we’ve tried to take things a step further" so can you also elaborate on that, and maybe how you personally think that your sound has grown/progressed over the last couple of years? Yeah just trying to push things further. The four of us have been playing together as The Skints for nearly 12 years now and this is our fourth record, we’ve never had a hit, never had anyone telling us what to make so we figured we’d literally just do whatever the hell we want! Absolutely not giving a f*ck if what we’ve done fits what other people’s perception of what The Skints sound should be. Taking the elements of what we love, treating it with respect, but twisting it up and trying to do our complete own thing and make an album that’s truly original.
How did Protoje, Runkus, Jesse Royal, all end up becoming a part of this album? Protoje and Jesse Royal are two artists that we are huge fans of, befriended on the road a few years back and have kept up the link. It was only a matter of time. Runkus was someone that Protoje introduced me to the music of a few years back and we’ve since been fans of each other’s music ever since. The ‘FM’ album was very “London-centric” in its concept and themes, and to reflect that, all the features (Tippa Irie, Horseman & Rival) were all Londoners. With ‘Swimming Lessons’ we were thinking more expansive in terms of genre jumping, so as well as the punk and rock moments that are on the album, we wanted to have the cream of the crop of current Jamaican reggae on there, as we felt like no one else in the world would have those two ends of the spectrum on their record!
Tough question time. What was the hardest song on 'Swimming Lessons' to put together, and why? Hmm that is a tough question. Maybe ‘What Did I Learn Today’? Or ‘Learning To Swim’? Both were recorded in a way where the respect “rock” and “reggae” sections were cut at different times at different studios with different engineers and had to be spliced together. A strange way to do things, but pretty cool we thought. Going to different places, literally, within the same song.
Who produced the album, and how would you say that they helped shape it? This album was a bit of a mish-mash production and collaboration wise. Our long time producer and friend Prince Fatty had moved out of the studio we did our last two albums in and gone to Thailand, so we linked up with his friend and long time studio collaborator Ben Lamdin AKA Nostalgia 77 and booked twelve days at the Fish Factory in north-west London and laid down the foundation of the album. We then worked with our friend Jack Longman to cut a bunch of vocals and extras, as well as the producer of our first album, Peter Miles at Middle farm Studios in Devon to record all the rockier/heavier moments on the album, as we know he is the master of that sound we like. Finally the majority of the album was mixed in Siracha, Thailand by Prince Fatty who has taken all his outboard gear out there, and was mixed in a beautiful tropical setting. I had the pleasure of flying out and sitting in on a lot of that work and it was pretty magical! Overall, the executive direction and production vision was called by the band.
What do you remember the most about touring/performing alongside the awesome Ranking Roger from The Beat, and why do you personally think that he became such an iconic musician? Yes, we’ve done a handful of shows and festivals with The Beat over the years and I will first and foremost remember Roger as being an incredibly sweet, clean hearted and humble man. I first heard The Beat when I was about 13 first getting into ska and I’ve been a fan ever since. Roger’s energy and charisma onstage was so infectious, his lyrics and style so original, he will go down as the icon he is and a true original. A legend.
What else can we expect to see from The Skints in 2019? New album, lots of touring, lots of music, hopefully some more videos and more nice time.
Interview with Chris
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? So far this year we've just finished our first tour to kick off the new album cycle. We toured with Atreyu, who I've been a fan of since I was in school. I think the best memory from this tour is that we were worried about playing one of our new songs called ‘Brand New Numb’, and finally we decided to play it and the fans went crazy. We were just like… uhh… why were we so worried about playing it? We love when fans prove us wrong.
So when did the first glimpses of 'Disguise' come about? Was there a particular song or moment that maybe inspired the album idea? I think the first song that came about for the record was the music to a song called ‘Holding On To Smoke’. I was working with a producer friend in Chicago and we were writing a bunch of music together but nothing had really felt like it was good enough yet. We were getting frustrated and it was late at night and we were about to just call it an evening, but then we picked up the guitar one more time and started playing the music to the song and it immediately connected with me and I knew that that song would make the record right away. The feeling I got from the music played into what I knew I wanted the common lyrical thread to be for the album and I just ran with it. The song ‘Disguise’ didn’t actually happen till towards the end of the process, but as soon as I heard the music to that song I knew it would be the title track.
What made you want to release the tracks 'Disguise' and 'Brand New Numb' first, and can you tell us about how they both came together? I think the idea was that we wanted to give a glimpse of what the far ends of the spectrum of the album would be right away. ‘Disguise’ is a song that feels very much like a classic MIW song and we wanted to make sure fans knew that we were still keeping it heavy. ‘Brand New Numb’ is the most different song on the record and we wanted to have a song that had a ton of energy and would make people want to put their middle fingers in the air and scream along. ‘Disguise’ was a pretty easy song for us to write because we stuck to all of the elements that we feel makes MIW the band that we are. The lyrics are very personal and I wanted the opening track to give you a good idea of what to expect throughout the rest of the album. ‘Brand New Numb’ has a really cool story because the main guitar riff of that song was written in 2012 and we saved it in our music bank for a time that felt right to work on it further. This record felt like the one and it just came together perfect. The lyrics are trying to inspire people to celebrate their individuality and not care about any negative criticism.
How did you get to the album title 'Disguise', and what does it mean to you? The title came about as I was looking for a single word that would embody all of the lyrics I was writing about. I wanted a single word that was powerful and made a statement. ‘Disguise’ is very personal to me because it’s relevant to how I’ve been feeling the past few years. Like I’ve been wearing a mask and hiding my true self from so many people. I don’t want to live like that any more and this album was supposed to be my release and my letting go of wearing the mask and hiding myself from myself, if that makes sense, haha.
Can you tell us a bit more about the themes and influences that run throughout 'Disguise'? Most of the songs are centered around addressing different aspects of my mental health and the personal struggles that I’ve been dealing with, as well as issues that the band has been dealing with together. However, there are some songs that stray from that. There is a song that is a throwback to our album ‘Creatures’ and is about the ‘Legend Of Sleepy Hollow’. There is a song about my views on how religion is responsible for humanity standing still and refusing to better itself in a multitude of ways, and a few more assorted topics spread out throughout. I try to keep things spread out so it doesn’t get too boring hearing about one thing all the time.
Who produced 'Disguise', and how would you say that they helped shape it? I worked with my friend WZRDBLD as the producer of this record. It’s the first time I’ve ever worked with a producer twice. I really loved what we did together on ‘Graveyard Shift’. He and I have a really unique bond and a great understanding of each other’s vision and he has been a crucial help in achieving mine. We sit together for hours each day and focus on making every single part of every song as good as it can possibly be. It’s tough to find people that want to sit there and put so much time into the little things, but he appreciates that and really helps amplify the vision for each song.
Tough question time. What was the hardest song on 'Disguise' to put together, and why? Haha, I enjoy the tough questions! The hardest song on the record for me was probably ‘Brand New Numb’. As I said earlier, the music wasn’t very hard and that came together fairly easily, but with the lyrics and the vocal melodies, that's a different story. I knew all along what I wanted to say with the lyrics but I was having a hard time getting it on paper. And even more than that, the vocal melodies were a B*TCH to write. I knew I wanted the song to be special, so it felt like any melodies we were coming up with just weren’t cutting it for me. I think I just got to a point where I had tunnel vision and nothing was good enough, so we had to step away from the song for weeks just so I could come back later and hear it fresh again. We ended up going with a few melodies that we initially liked and then trying some new ones and it all came together. Every record there is that one song that just gives you a hard time throughout the entire recording process, and ‘Brand New Numb’ was that song with the lyrics and melodies.
How did the artwork for 'Disguise' come together, and what does it mean to you? The artwork was created by my artist friend Zack Dunn. I was scrolling through Instagram one day a while ago and I came across one of his paintings and I was like “THATS THE ONE!”. I knew I wanted him to paint the album art before we even had a title. So once I knew the title and what I wanted the record to be about, I approached him and we spoke about what I was trying to accomplish. I think he captured it perfectly and I absolutely love that it sort of has a bit of a throwback vibe to our ‘Creatures’ record artwork that fans have said they love so much. We also did an alternate album cover of a piece he had already painted that I loved so much. I felt like they both really captured the aesthetic of the band as well as the message of the title.
What do you want the listener to take away from listening to 'Disguise'? I think with most of the lyrics being about personal struggles with issues someone could be facing every day, I want people to know that there are others out there dealing with the same things and that it’s manageable to get through it. Don’t be afraid to reach out for help and admit you have some problems. I think this record will give people some confidence to confront their personal issues and hopefully overcome them.
How did Justin Morrow end up becoming a part of Motionless In White, and what has he brought to the band? Justin offered to fill in playing bass for us during a transition period of the band in which we were looking for a bassist. After playing a few shows with us over a couple of months he told us that he was interested in joining the band full time and we said “hell yeah!!” He is a really good person and we get along with him in such a great way. He's really solid on stage and really helps emphasise the theatrical side of the band with his makeup and stage presence. He checked every box we needed and we’re really happy he reached out about wanting to play for us.
Looking back on 'Graveyard Shift', how happy are you with this album still, and what do you think that it's done for the representation of Motionless In White? I think ‘Graveyard Shift’ set a new standard for the band as a whole. I think it showed a lot of listeners out there that we are for real and we’re here to stay and make some noise. I am still incredibly happy with the album because I put so much personal effort into it and I hear that every time we play one of the songs. It really helped show us the true identity of the band, which we took into account when making ‘Disguise’. These are the most two similar albums to each other that we’ve ever done.
What songs are you still really enjoying performing live from 'Graveyard Shift' at the moment, and why? We switch our setlist up almost every day, but we play ‘Voices’ every night regardless. I think that's my favourite to play because you can feel the energy in the room for that one. As soon as it starts, you can see the fans light up and start singing along as loud as they can. When we were making that song, it was exactly what I was hoping for.
What else can we expect to see from Motionless In White in 2019? Well… we just announced that we will be headlining the UK, Russia and across Europe at the end of the year, which is incredibly exciting. The last time we headlined Europe was our first time and it went so well that we are giving it another shot. The past few years it seems like a lot of the European markets have really turned on to our band so it’s been a pleasure to be over there. We’re just going to tour our asses off on this album cycle like we usually do. The road is our home.
Interview with Brit & Charlie
Touring wise, what have you been up to this year, and can you give us a couple of personal highlights from your time on the road? Brit: We’ve been relaxing at home for most of the year.... April Fools! There's always lots of touring on our calendar. Feel free to check out our website for details! Currently we have just returned from our month long US 'Break It Down Acoustic Tour'. We’ve done some acoustic shows before, but nothing on this level. I think our fans loved it. I had a great time beating on a suitcase every night!
Charlie: We’ve been quite busy this year. We went on the Southern Rock Cruise, took the winter leg of the ‘Find A Light’ tour out west and back in the US and just now finished the month-long ‘Break It Down Acoustic Tour’. A personal highlight was definitely wrapping up the winter tour with two shows at the Ryman in Nashville. Lots of friends sitting in including Chris Shiflett, Marcus King, Jerry Douglas and the Wood Brothers.
A number of the recent shows have been acoustic only, right? How rewarding has that been for the band, and what do you think you've learnt the most by touring in this way? Charlie: We had an absolute blast playing the acoustic shows, stripping away all the volume and bombast and just getting to the naked heart and soul of the songs. A band can learn a lot from doing that. It lays bare what everyone is doing musically and really lets you hear one another. Plus, it tests the fans. You find out if they really want to listen.
What songs are you still really enjoying performing live from 'Find a Light'? Brit: We enjoy all of them and we play all of them. Our setlist changes every night. We aren’t a band that is focused on singles, because we really don’t have a team that does that type of business. We like and are proud of all the songs or they wouldn’t get recorded. I am most proud that I can listen to our records and not cringe and say “oh man, that’s embarrassing”, or “why did we do that”. Like I say, these records represent a moment in time. That’s where we were at that particular time in our lives and career.
Charlie: We are literally playing every song from the record on tour and we are loving it. I believe ‘Run Away From It All’, ‘Flesh And Bone’ and ‘I’ll Keep Ramblin’’ seem to be the fans’ favourites.
You guys once more self-produced the album. Can you tell us a bit about that process? Brit: We learned a lot along the way. Producer or no producer, we have to like what sounds we are getting and performing. Sometimes we self produce a record not because we don’t want a producer, but more like, “Hey we’ve got some time to record and whoever we’ve thought of that might be fun to work with isn’t available.” We are really controlled by our touring schedule. Anyone we’ve ever worked with is someone that we really wanted to work with and we always have been satisfied with the outcome. But at this point, 19 years of recording together, we operate just fine with a good engineer and the band.
Looking back on the album, how would you say that the sound of the band has grown/changed on this release? Brit: I think the more you record, you learn how to get sounds you want and that makes things easier and allows you to spend more time on creating. I feel like you start to think, “Hey, I love congas and Hammond B3, harmonica and trombones and this song would be perfect to shove all that in right now!” So you do it and if you like it, it stays!
So, how did the idea for ‘The Southern Ground Sessions’ EP come together? Charlie: We went in to Southern Ground Studios in Nashville to capture some video footage of us playing acoustic versions of some of the songs from the record in a very laid back atmosphere. We invited some of our friends to come and jam. We weren’t terribly concerned with the audio until we listened back to it. I think we captured some cool stuff.
What was it like to re-visit songs from 'Find a Light' in an acoustic way? Brit: These songs were born in that format with a guitar so it was easier to “break it down” if you'll pardon the pun. Like I say, you really see what a song is made of when someone plays it acoustically and without a bunch of production.
It might be early days, however, have you started work on any new material just yet? Brit: We’ve heard some great riffs at sound check and around our travelling vehicle. The plan is that we will be taking our time releasing the next record.
Charlie: I have several songs written. Much like the last few albums, they are all over the place. Haha. How excited are you for your upcoming slot at Download Festival, and what can fans expect from the performance? Charlie: I couldn’t be more excited about it!! Fans can expect Blackberry Smoke songs played loudly! What else can we expect to see from Blackberry Smoke in 2019? Brit: We'll have a new live DVD to share with everyone very soon. It was filmed in our hometown of Atlanta.
Interview with Ben Touring wise, what have you been up to this year, and can you give us a couple of personal highlights from your time on the road? We actually just started a Spring co-headline tour with Tyler Bryant and The Shakedown across the US! It’s been going great so far. We’ve got some of our great friends supporting on the tour as well, The Josephines, Thomas Wynn and The Believers, and Kyle Daniel. Each night is fun and different, so it’s been good!
Looking back on 'Family Tree', how happy are you with this album still, and what do you think it's done for the representation of Black Stone Cherry? We are very proud of 'Family Tree'! We feel like it’s a fresh and fun direction for the band. It really takes us deeper into the core of what we are, which is just a southern bluesy rock n roll band. I think the album has given us new opportunities and hopefully will continue to open some new doors and expose us to new fans out there.
What songs are you still really enjoying performing live from 'Family Tree' at the moment, and why? This is actually the only album, other than our self-titled debut release, that we have successfully played every song live from. Playing these songs is fun every night because theyâ€™re still somewhat fresh and exciting to us! 'Burnin'' is a great opener, and we love playing 'My Last Breath' as it sets a different mood in the set.
Looking at the album, how would you say that the sound on it compares to anything that you've done before as Black Stone Cherry? It really stands apart as far as sonics go. We didnâ€™t want to over produce or over mix this album. We wanted it to sound fun, raw, exciting and different. I think we achieved that!
Is there something that you've learned from putting together this record, that you'll maybe take with you going forward as musicians? The biggest thing was not to over think or over rehearse the songs. Some of these tracks we played together only once or twice before recording them and I think that adds to the “off the cuff” feel that we wanted to achieve. I believe we will definitely carry that mentality forward
How excited are you for your upcoming UK dates, and what can attending fans expect from your performance? Oh, we're very excited! It’s always a pleasure to play for our fans overseas and these shows have been on the books for a while, so we are beyond ready!! Fans can expect a fun, high energy show like we always try to bring. We’ve also added a new element into the live sound by touring with an organ/pianist named Yates McKendree. So the live show we believe has gone up another musical level!
As a band that have become so established over here so quickly, what do you think it takes to build up a fan base in the UK? I don’t have the exact answer, because all we did was come over and do our thing. We just played and took every opportunity that came our way. The most important thing is to be genuine, and I believe the people will latch onto that. We never tried to emulate any other artists. We took influences, of course, but also kept, and still keep it very much our own.
As a UK based publication, we must ask, what do you remember the most from coming to the UK for the first time? Probably remembering to look both ways before we crossed the road! Haha! That, and trying to figure out the money difference. Other than that, it was the amazing feeling we had playing for an audience who were so passionate and excited about live music. We love that!
It's probably still early days. However, have you started work on any new material just yet, if so, what can we expect from it? Honestly, it’s been about touring for us lately. We do have some ideas we have jammed on and recorded on our phones, but we want to ride this album as long as we can!
What else can we expect to see from Black Stone Cherry in 2019? Touring! We have a new music video for 'My Last Breath' coming out soon as well! We're very proud of that. Our good friend Mike Rodway directed and edited the video and it’s just so amazing, so look that up on YouTube! We also plan to record another blues EP at some point, so needless to say, we’ll be busy!
So, when did the first glimpse of 'Flesh & Blood' come together? Was there a particular song or moment that started the whole album cycle? Probably in a very strange way. I went to David’s to work on what became ‘Unzipped’. Initially he was going to have some new acoustic material on there. The first thing we did was put together ‘After All’ which eventually went on ‘Flesh & Blood’. While I was out there, I think we got a little bit sick of acoustic and then just plugged in a Les Paul and wrote ‘Trouble Is Your Middle Name’. At that point we had written two songs for the album before we officially knew that we were doing an album. I think that it gave David his first insight into knowing that he could write with me.
The release date for the album got pushed back a little bit, why did that happen, and how frustrating was it to sit on the new material that you wanted to play live? Well, the first little setback was when we went to shoot the video for ‘Shut Up & Kiss Me’. David got really sick, and that set him back for a few weeks at least. He wasn’t right for a bit. Then there was basically an issue with the hard drive, where none of the sessions would open. I don’t think that the full amount of time of the setback was because of those setbacks, it just became like, “When is it smart to release this, so that we can be on tour to support it.” So those two little setbacks just basically pushed it till this year, where we could do a proper tour.
'Flesh & Blood' is your second album with Whitesnake, and you actually co-wrote six songs on this release. So what has that been like, and how sort of exciting has it been to be working on these brand new original Whitesnake tracks? Yeah! It’s obviously an honour to write with David, and also with Reb. We had a lot of fun actually as well, and we were not taking ourselves too seriously. It was a really fun album to make, and it was great to play guitar on it. It feels like the natural next step for me in Whitesnake.
How did you end up coproducing the album alongside Reb & Michael McIntyre, and can you tell us a bit more about that whole process? Interview with Joel I think that along the way, David saw that I had more to say about the big picture of the album, and not to just turn up my guitar! So, I think that he respected that, and then from that he started to ask my opinions on things as we went. Then, eventually I earned a coproduction title.
Can you tell us about what David has actually been like to work with on this album, and maybe how your relationship as musicians has grown/changed over the last couple of years? It’s been great. In general with the writing process we’d start with an idea and just think about where to take it from there. It would either be him and I, or him and Reb, or all three of us. Reb and I would then demo the songs up, and get David’s opinion on that. So it was really great. Like I said, we had a lot of fun as well, which is great, because you shouldn’t get lost in there.
With the guitar being so in sync throughout the album, I wanted to ask, what do you think you've learnt the most as a guitarist by working alongside Reb Beach for 'Flesh & Blood'? I’ve probably just learned a lot about Reb’s insight into what a good song is, and how his songwriting process goes. We had already played enough together, that I think I fully understand all of his strengths as a player and everything. It was really more about the songwriting end of it, his opinions and tastes that I think I learnt the most in that creativity area.
photo credit: Ralph Arvesen
In the music video for 'Shut Up And Kiss Me' there are a couple of nods to 'Here I Go Again' including the Jaguar and David's jacket. So can you tell us how the video idea came together, as well as what it was like to work with Tyler Bourns? There are two separate cuts, and I think that eventually, you’ll see the one without the car, that’s just a lot of the band playing. David had the vision of doing the Jaguar and everything, and I think that it ended up fitting the mood of the song (which is fun!). That video came out really great, and David really finds a way to strike gold with these things.
The track itself starts off with a cool guitar intro, so can you tell us a bit about how the song came together, and what it was like to work on? So with that song I wrote the slide part in the chorus, and my intro solo. I actually had the idea of what David could sing for responses in the chorus, the “Whatever you want” and “Whatever you need” that kind of came from me. I just had some ideas that made their way into the song.
Another song that really stands out to us already is 'Trouble Is Your Middle Name', it just sounds huge, and again, has some insane guitar solos within the track. Can you tell us about how this one came together, and what you enjoyed the most about working on it? So yeah, with that one like I mentioned earlier that came about when I went out to work with David on acoustic material. I think we just got a little bored from playing acoustic. I just kind of came up with those riffs on the spot, and David was digging them, and then he had me lay them down. He said that he wanted to do something with them later on down the road, and then voila!
'After All' sounds absolutely brilliant, and it's always good to have an acoustic number on an album. So can you tell us what you enjoyed the most about working on this acoustic track, and how you think that it maybe gives balance to the album overall? With that song it’s David’s Beatles influence. He does write on acoustic guitar. He had the basic idea for it, even the finger picking one. He just asked me to build it out a little bit. So I think that I came up with the chords for the b section, and the instrumental, and the introduction etc. He fully had the chorus written. I think it’s something that David considers to be new territory for a Whitesnake album. So that’s always fun as well. It’s something different, and it is expanding the horizon.
Tough question time then. What was the hardest song on 'Flesh & Blood' for you to put together, and why? Let me think about that! I guess I would say, ‘Sands of Time’ due to the length. It was a song that Reb was really specific about the rhythm, having it be really locked and doubled. I think that he was thinking “Let him (Joel) play all of the rhythms, so that they are extra tight.” I always love a challenge, of matching someone’s rhythms exactly! So yeah, maybe that one. Just because I had to really work on playing it super tight with him.
We wanted to touch base on the 'The Purple Album'. For you, looking back how happy are you with this record still, and what do you think you learnt the most from being a part of this record with Whitesnake? That was a great introduction to being in the band. It was a lot more creative than I think people realise. Especially on my part, because Reb had basically recorded the one guitar part that was on most of those songs, and we weren’t going to be using a keyboard as heavily as on the original Purple recordings. I had to invent guitar parts for a lot of it. For as much as people think that it was just a covers album, it was really re-imagining songs that David had co-written. As far as I’m concerned, it’s more creative than people give it credit for, but when it comes to ‘Flesh & Blood’, that is certainly a step further.
With the album itself, although it's Deep Purple tracks, we read that you still had to come up with a lot of original guitar work for the album. So can you tell us about that process, and what it was like to add, and build upon these already classic tracks? Yeah, it was fine. Because I came in with the album already in the works. I just viewed it as a great opportunity to join the band, and to be a part of a really interesting project. Reimagining those classic songs.
So what has it been like to tour with the band as they celebrated their 40th anniversary? It’s great. The band is a bunch of really funny guys as well. I don’t want to diminish the musical end of it, as certainly these guys are all really great players, but on our bus, it’s a lot of laughs. Sometimes on the road that is what it is all about.
This could be a really tough question now, but as a guitarist, what tracks from the Whitesnake back catologue do you really enjoy playing in a live format? Well, I enjoy all of the music. All the way from the initial releases, through the ‘Good to Be Bad’ and ‘Forevermore’, to ‘Flesh & Blood’. All of it. I like the style of music that Whitesnake play, and I’m really glad to be a part of it. I’d say that some of the best examples would be some of the stuff that we did with ‘The Purple Album’. We really built those songs out. So with a track like ‘You Keep On Moving’ we were really doing our own version of the song. That stuff was great to play live! Even though now I’m giving you a Deep Purple example for a Whitesnake question! Overall, it’s an honour to play any of the material, whatever David or Reb’s vision is, I’m happy to step forward and play more, or less, whatever it takes to make the whole thing work as a band. That is the key.
Leading on from this, how excited are you to be taking on the main stage at this year's Download Festival, and what can attending fans expect? Obvously we are VERY excited. I think that we are just going to come out as a fun rock band, firing on all cylinders. Having a great time, playing great music.
What else can we expect to see from Whitesnake in 2019? I think with the release just coming out, people have been excited to hear the first original album from the band in some years. So there you go, a new album and a tour. What’s not to like!
What was your first major project as an actor, and what do you remember the most from this experience? I think performing Metamorphosis adapted by Steven Berkoff from the story by Franz Kafka was my first professional engagement as a paid actor. We performed it at the Birmingham Repertory Company and I played the role of the Clerk and their Lodger (I was also the movement director on that project). What I remember the most from that experience was how Gary Sefton (who played Gregor Samsa and had to create a beetle like movement and hand from the bars of a cage) embodied a man trapped inside the body of a beetle and how powerful it was. Also that I actually had to play his part for one night in the run when he injured himself and how hard it was!
So, what attracted you to the part of Syrio Forel in Game of Thrones (you did initially audition for Varys as well right?)? I did read for the part of Varys initially and although they liked my reading they didn’t think I was right so I was offered the role of Syrio Forel to read. The casting breakdown asked for someone who had sword fighting experience and I had had a lot of experience working with fight choreographers with The Royal Shakespeare Theatre Company. With TV filming you don’t get a lot of time to rehearse so my experience came in very handy and I was also given a fantastic man to work with, William Hobbs, who was my mentor and created the style of the water dance with me.
What do you remember the most about your first day on set? What I remember the most is how nervous I was. Literally shaking, difficult when you are trying to balance a wooden sword on the back of your hand! I also remember David and Dan (the creator of the show) telling us how important theses scenes were and how we would take as long as it needs to get them right. We spent nearly 3 days filming the first lesson with Maisie and we did all the sword play ourselves which we were very proud of.
Can you tell more about what those huge sets are like to work on, and how working in an environment like that helped shape what you did as an actor in the show? Well the balcony room in the red keep was huge and even though what looked like a balcony and a view over looking King’s Landing was in fact a painted backdrop, it looked so real, even on set! We were surrounded by the greatest minds and crew in TV and so felt incredibly well supported, it all felt “right”, we had time and all the encouragement to do the best job possible and as film making is an incredibly collaborative process everyone made it what it was, in front and behind the cameras.
Can you tell us what it was like to work alongside Maisie Williams in the show? Maisie was 13 years old when I worked with her and it was her first professional acting experience and she taught me so much. She was natural and instinctive and reminded me to not over think things too much. Older actors can be very self conscious but working with her was effortless and easy. She has only grown throughout the last 10 years.
What's it been like to see Arya go on and achieve so much within the show, especially knowing that Syrio of course helped shape her into who she is right now? I would be lying if I said I didn’t shed tears of pride watching what she has done as a character in this epic story. Her revenge story hasn’t been the easiest to watch as Arya lost herself in that pursuit but right now I am hoping she survives.
What was your most rewarding scene to work on in Game of Thrones, and why? There is no question the fight between Syrio and the Lannister guard was so exciting. Hope often in any actor’s career do you get to play a character who is cooler, wiser, cleverer or more of a badass than you could ever be in real life. Plus the Hungarian stunt men made me look so good! It’s all down to them and the fight choreographers.
Alternatively, what was the most challenging scene to work on, and why?
The most challenging was the first lesson. It’s 3 and a half minutes of me talking and teaching and demonstratin and I thought we would shoot it in bits, but once we were on set the director said that they would have three cam (tracking, steady cam and fixed) and that we would go through the whole scene from beginning to end and capt as we were doing it. It’s one thing to remember your lines, it’s another to also remember your choreography. Ma and I looked at each other, swallowed down our nerves and just got on with it. Everyone was so supportive that just nailed it and we were very proud that we did it all ourselves and never used our stunt doubles at all.
Why do you personally think that Game of Thrones has become so successful?
I think its emotional grip on the viewer is what makes it so successful. Most stories play out according to normal expectations, characters are depicted as good or bad and there is a formula. George R. R. Martin over turned th tables so to speak when it came to telling a story and so characters change and hero’s die and so this kept us gripped. These unpredictable characters and events make us so connected emotionally that we have to know w will happen next. Also at a time when we have stopped watching TV at a certain time and at a certain hour Gam Thrones now encourages us to watch it in groups. It’s a communal experience and this makes it so powerful as reconnected us, even if it is a small way.
What would you really like to see come next from this already iconic TV realm and why?
I like the idea of the story of how and why the wall was built. And how the Night King became who he is. It’s hint in the current show but I think that may be where I would like it to go.
You got to play Old Turk Baker in Murder on the Orient Express! How exciting was that?
I have always admired Kenneth Branagh and getting to work with him in even a tiny way was revelatory. Watchi him direct and act in front of the camera was just mind blowing. The way he could hold all these thoughts in his while working every single day such long hours was a mental and physical feat that is impossible not to be inspi by. I remember him whispering to me while we were locked in our embrace: I said “your mustache is magnificen said “it’s like working with another actor stuck to your face”.
Can you tell us a bit about your time working on Star Wars: The Force Awakens?
Working withJ.J. Abrams on The Force Awakens was a dream come true. I have always been a Star Wars fan (I actually am old enough that I watched The Empire Strikes Back in the cinema when it originally came out!) and being on a set with hundreds of alien characters on the set of Maz Kanata’s castle was just too exciting. Se the character drawings of my character and costume and how they made it real has never left me and also bein asked what my weapon of choice would be (the armory guys come into the room and offer you a selection of blasters and ask you which one you think your character would use!).
As well as on-screen you act in theatre. So, what have you been up to in theatre over the couple of years, and what do you think you've learnt the most from working in this world?
Working on stage is where the best actors learn their craft, and when I call it a craft I mean that it is where we le to communicate ideas and characters and humanity (without sounding too pretentious - too late I know!) but when you are on stage you are in control of your performance from beginning to the end of the play, wherea film you try to simply express the thoughts and emotions of a character as sincerely and directly as possible. Onstage you do the work in rehearsals and then it is up to you and you need to communicate these ideas even the people in the back rows. Great actors do this effortlessly and it’s something I am still working to perfect. It’s a long process. I recently worked with Talawa and the Royal Exchange in Manchester on King Lear, I played the fo Don Warrington’s Lear and it was a profound experience. I love Shakespeare and do it as often as I can. there i reason why we are still performing his plays to this day.
What else can we expect to see from Miltos Yerolemou as an actor in 2019?
I have just finished filming the sequel to the Hitman’s Bodyguard with Samuel L. Jackson and Ryan Reynolds an be seen in an episode of series 3 of The Crown. I’ll be performing on stage from October in the Bristol Old Vic’s production of Cyrano De Bergerac.
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So, how and when did you first get into acting? I wanted to be an actor since I was five, my parents got me into acting classes when I was thirteen as I was difficult and pushy. I went into drama school in Montreal where I’m from and then I started working in Mask Theatre relatively around the same time I was in drama school, and then after that I graduated and had my first professional role in theatre. So yeah, my acting was really in mask theatre. Then, I moved to the UK in 1991 when I was 23 years old, I literally came over here on holiday and just stayed on a whim, I just fell in love with London. I didn’t really think too much about whether I would work as an actor or not but I ended up working quite a lot in theatre doing musicals, touring a lot around Europe, Middle Eastern Asia. Then, a director who was producing a mini-series for Hallmark called Dinotopia got in touch with me as he had seen my work in Canada at Odyssey Theatre. He invited me into the studio at Pinewood to see if I would be interested in playing one of the dinosaurs in the mini-series, that was the early stages of motion capture and it was sort of how I got into what is known as my “creature phase”, I suppose. From that I trained at Henson’s (Jim Henson’s company) as a puppeteer, then worked as one on a kids TV, BBC show called Bear Behaving Badly for a number of years, which was a spinoff based on the series Smile. While I was in that show I got Clash Of The Titans where I was playing one of the witches, the makeup artist on that ended up being the makeup artist on Game Of Thrones which is how he recommended me for White Walker, my defining role and a bit of a break out for me. So there’s my background!
Okay great, so what attracted you to the role of a White Walker in Game of Thrones? They were attracted to me, they asked me to come in and look at the role as there was no speaking. I went in and looked at the visuals of the role, the drawings and the story board the artist had scratched up, which were really amazing. They had a vision board for the character, which included pictures of warriors from all over the world, throughout the ages. I looked at that and they asked me to come up with a movement type of audition that we do which is where you like just turn on the camera and play around with it, and that was really how I came into it, I had never heard of Game Of Thrones before I went to the audition. I literally said “I’m here for King Of Thrones” and Nina Gold said “It’s not called King Of Thrones, it’s called Game Of Thrones and it’s been on HBO for a year already, it’s doing very well and it’s based on a series of books”. I thought “oh maybe I won’t get this as I hadn’t really done my homework.” However, they were pretty keen to have me, I guess I was the right size, right build and energy for the role. You sometimes just end up with a role, and you don’t really know what it is going to be like until you do it and it’s aired. It wasn’t until it really aired that I realised how big it was, and how impactful it would be.
Can you tell us about the make-up process for the White Walker? How long did it take, and what were the make-up team like to work with? It took five hours, so we started early, usually around 1am in the morning and then you’re camera ready for about 6am, the makeup team are there about an hour before me so that is important to note that I’m not there the longest. So camera ready for 6am, and then we do a twelve hour shoot. After this it takes about two hours to get out of make-up and then we go back to the hotel, have a glass of wine, a little cry, a little sleep and then we are back in the studio in a couple of hours. It’s pretty intense but the good thing is we are given time to nap during the day, the producers and production team often say to us we have got an hour here etc, so you guys can go and have a lay down for a bit. So we get our breaks in the day, you nap where you can, it’s a bit loose around the edges. They aren’t running a horrible sort of army camp or anything.
What was the most challenging episode for you to work on in Game of Thrones, and why? Probably the combination of being in that makeup and working with a horse and riding that horse bare back without a saddle. In season four, I was carrying a baby, which was not real, it was rubber but it was still a bit of a balancing act and sometimes very difficult when we were shooting in a manufactured blizzard. The horses get very spooked from the fan noises and shredded paper being blown around so my horse would rear and it was challenging and scary, so that was probably the hardest part. The operating of a horse and wearing all that make-up was the most challenging for me. I would imagine Vlad who plays the Night King had a much bigger challenge as he has a lot of stunt work to do, and he is a licensed stunt man, working with all that makeup and doing stunt work has to be really challenging.
There's actually not a lot of CGI on the White Walker character himself. So it must have been extremely exciting to see this character come to life for the first time on screen! I mean of course the makeup is so dramatic and incredible, as very little of it is CGI, it’s really just the eyes and the steam that comes off my body, so it largely looks like that. When it was on me I thought this is incredible but when it aired I realised this is really big, you know it was the season finale and they wanted a finale that rivalled the previous season which was Sean Bean’s head being cut off (obviously I’m not spoiling it for you), so they wanted something that would really rival that and I guess with Daenerys’ little dragons that appear at the end of season one, they wanted something really impactful. They got it because it was probably the most watched series finale in television history. It was pretty cool…my social media went crazy, my family watched it in Canada and they were like “Oh my God, this is incredible!” I hadn’t seen it and I didn’t watch it for another couple of days after it aired, it took me a while to get a copy of it to actually see what I had done I thought it was pretty cool. I mean they put the sound effects onto it to which we didn’t have when we shot it, as we shot all that on green screen at the studio, so it wasn’t winter at all, it was actually boiling hot, myself and the horse were sweating. So when you see all the effects put on it, it was like wow, and that awkward screeching sort of sound that they put on it sounded beautiful.
You got to play Pemphredo in Clash of The Titans (2010)! Looking back on the film, what do you remember the most about being a part of it? The thing I remember the most was the overheating, overheating in our prosthetic suits, it was very very heavy and hot, we were working with real fire, real steam. Richard Zanuck who is no longer with us, was the executive producer on it and he really saved the day by making the conditions much better for us, he changed it from a really difficult shoot to a much easier shoot where we were cooled down regularly and that’s the difference between an unexperienced producer and a very experienced producer, he worked with some of the greats. I had a great time on set with Sam Worthington, Gemma Arterton and Liam Cunningham (Game Of Thrones) was in that, people I have met again along the road like Liam and Gemma and Liam Neeson, whom I got to work with on A Monster Calls. It was an interesting grouping of people that I eventually got to see again.
In Doctor Who you got to play Silent, The Teller and Wraith. Which part did you find the most rewarding to do and were you a fan of the show before? I wasn’t a fan of Doctor Who, really the only Sci-Fi show I grew up loving was Star Trek, the old one with William Shatner, I wasn’t a big Sci-Fi kid either. I didn’t really love Star Wars when I was a kid, although I had a R2D2 toy. Doctor Who was on TV in Canada but I never really watched it. Being invited onto Doctor Who was an honour. To be part of a franchise that is so warmly welcomed and loved and revered in this country (UK), of course I knew a lot about it and as an actor you just kind of go into these things with an open mind and do something to the best of your ability. You want to be a part of that, you don’t want to disappoint. The similarities between Doctor Who and Game Of Thrones are that they are really put together beautifully by an incredible production team who love and respect and want to do the best job possible, so you never felt like you were working with people who didn’t care about their product. My first job was working on Doctor Who at the Proms down at the Royal Albert Hall, replacing Spencer Wilding who played the Ice Warrior, he was unable to do it so once I did that (they were also impressed with the White Walker that I had done on Game Of Thrones) they invited me onto the show. I worked as The Silent in Matt Smith’s last episode (The Time Of The Doctor) and then they gave me my own kind of creature playing The Teller in Time Heist with Keeley Hawes which was really really great. She and Peter Capaldi are awesome, both of them were big fans of Game Of Thrones so that was really lovely. I loved working on Doctor Who.
Also, how has acting in theatre helped backbone and support what you do when it comes to working in big motion films/TV shows? I think theatre is a great basis, for me it really helped me carve my teeth in the connection between you, people and storytelling, that’s a beautiful thing, you are on stage and the audience is right there, so you see their reaction right away. So when you are working in front of a camera you kind of can judge a little bit about the fact that there are going to be people watching you, just like there are people in the audience. The other thing that is nice about what I have done on stage is that a lot of my stage work was quite physical and big, so it really helped me create big characters for the screen. I love all aspects of this career, I love doing voiceovers, puppeteering, mask work, theatre work, film/tv, and it’s just in my blood a bit, even though my family had nothing to do with this industry. Weirdly this summer I’m going back to The Mask Theatre Company who I worked with thirty years ago at Odyssey Theatre in Ottawa to do the lead role in their show Bonds Of Interest so it’s going to be a full circle for me, the people who gave me my first break in this industry. I’m a little bit frightened of it because I have been doing film and television for the last number of years but I love the challenge and I love the fact that I will be in front of an audience. Although they are very different in their mediums they still feed into each other. It’s hard to describe unless you are kind of doing them but I think film and television is a little bit more introverted for an actor because there is no audience and you have to be very subtle at times but you still need all that work behind your character when doing theatre work. You need to be able to project that in a very large and over the top way, so it’s a tricky kind of reigning in of your communication skills.
What else can we expect to see from you as an actor in 2019? Conventions in Plymouth, New Jersey, Great Yarmouth then I’m going home to Canada and spending summer at Odyssey Theatre in Ottawa so please come down and see it if you live in the area, it’s a beautiful outdoor theatre with beautiful masks, so I’m there until the end of August, then I come back and will be shooting a short film that I’m helping produce of a play that I did in London last year called Pocketful Of Bread. So myself and the other actor that I work with in that are producing it with a couple of really amazing people, one of them being Barney Harwood who is the Blue Peter presenter, he is helping us out producing it. Then hopefully I’m doing a couple of features that I can’t really talk about unfortunately but they are on the cards. So I’m either there shooting at the end of this year or next year and in between all of that, more conventions, I think I’m doing Belgium on Halloween, then Lucca in Italy at the beginning of November and a number of other locations, so that’s my year. www.rossmullan.com
So, when and how did you get into acting? I came pretty late to acting - in the early noughties. My charismatic, wild and excessively handsome older brother had recently broken free from the shackles of this physical realm - it was a miracle it contained him for as long as it did and I thought well, that’s a life done right there - and it’s what you make it. So I was open to new things. And also felt perhaps it was my time to shine. I got into acting through a friend of my sister who was studying with the rather wonderful John Osborne Hughes whose approach is very engaging. It was part-time a weekend every few weeks which fitted in with my work. I had just started working as a secondary school teacher. Before that I had been living for a few years in Co. Mayo with my burgeoning family where I had among other things had a taste of acting whilst on a Council scheme which included performing in street theatre projects as part of the celebrations for the Year of the French. That was great funbouncing off the crowd and improvising responses.
Who were your major influences as an actor growing up, and why? Aside from my brother who was an amazing mimic hilarious, anarchic my early influences were Leonard Rossiter, the cast of Dad’s Army, Porridge. The first British actor whose name I sought out as totally believable was Ian Holm.
What was your first major project as an actor, and what do you remember the most from this experience? I played a coachman in The Mystery of Edwin Drood for the BBC. Not even what my Dad would have called a “bit part” but it was great as I got to do a day’s training driving a coach “and two.” Because I studied acting part time and never went to drama school I was not aware of what to expect on a large-scale production. It was the first time I had come across call sheets, daily sides let alone pink pages, blocking or how people rehearse (or don’t), tech rehearsals, even line run-throughs before the scene were all totally new things to me. And I had missed the whole cast read-through because I was up in Norfolk learning how to drive a coach and horses. It was all a bit in-at-the-deep-end but great fun. Also because of everyone having their own trailer there was not a place where everyone hung out and I could casually find out stuff- it wasn’t just that I was scared to ask but I didn’t know the extent of what I didn’t know so I didn’t even know where to begin.
So, what attracted you to the role of Rattleshirt in Game of Thrones? It was a paid gig! Seriously? My wife had read the books and said this is going to be massive. Also the show’s writer and co-producer David Benioff was someone who’s novel City of Thieves I’d loved so I knew it would be good and I was excited about meeting him.
What do you remember the most about your first day on set as Rattleshirt? The cold! Minus 15. We were in Iceland in the middle of December when as you can imagine the days are very short indeed - a few hours of dusky light from 11.30 until 2 or 3 maybe, so I was looking forward to some late calls and a lie-in but no such luck. Call was at the usual stupid o’clock for costume and make-up before the long trip up the glacier, about an hour and a half in total in a car and then these massive Russian military personnel carriers for the last part. We’d rehearsed the fight scene between Corrin the Half Hand and Jon Snow over the previous couple days so that everything could go without a hitch when the light was good enough for cameras to roll. When it came to blocking it out on the glacier our backs seemed pretty close to the edge of a kilometre high drop straight down to the valley below. There were safety people behind and a rope on the ground to mark the no-go zone and it was totally safe but the cliff edge was maybe only 15 feet behind us.
Can you tell us a bit more about your time playing Rattleshirt, as well as what it was actually like to act within this highly detailed costume? I was the warmest bunny on set. It was great! Kit Harington and Rose Leslie in particular must have been freezing bless them in their relatively flimsy outfits but they never once complained. Of course that may well have changed now they’re massive stars but back then they were good as gold. I had been to the beautiful city of Belfast for a couple of fittings so I know it was all going to be comfy, it wasn’t too heavy, well not so as you’d notice on my burly frame - those bones are all made of rubber with the sound Foley’d in post. It was fairly easy to move in and in any case they wanted the character to be a bit underplayed - in such a great costume you don’t have to do much to convey power or invoke fear so half the work was done for me.
Looking back on Game of Thrones, why do you personally think that it’s gone on to become as successful as it is? Great writing and the attention to detail - every penny spent can be seen on screen and they had some massive budgets - largest ever for one episode of a TV show. The battle scene in season 2 I think it was. Which was a bit frustrating for the producers who took a large cast and massive crew up to the top of a glacier in Iceland in the middle of winter only for so many viewers to think the screen was filled with CGI!
How did you get involved with The Hybrid, and what did you enjoy the most about working on this film? Well it was directed by Billy O'Brien whom I’d met on a beach whilst he was scouting for locations with his colleagues when I lived out in Mayo. They needed a van and I had one so I hung out with them and am still good friends with them most of whom have gone on to greater heights in the industry. So I knew he was going to make a feature with this script he’d adapted and I asked if there was anything for me, as I always do. The only Alf’s or I asked was to get me in the auditioning room which he did but didn’t introduce me as his friend so the producers including Craig Conway who also starred in it could judge me on merit. So I smashed it and it was great fun. Despite the unseasonal cold - it’s set in a former soviet republic and the Yorkshire weather obliged with some if unseasonal, then uncommon snow. Highlights were being trained by an old SAS fella - tiny but the most scary person - his casual assumptions when teaching us how to kill at close quarters.
What's been the most challenging project that you've worked on so far as an actor, and why? I have done a fair few computer games over the years and the steepest learning curve for me was doing motion capture where I had dots on my face and a camera attached to a bike helmet trained on it. I had to sync up my lines directly in scenes in which the bodies were already animated so there was a need to match words to actions. And pretend I knew what I was doing!
What else can we expect to see from Edward Dogliani in 2019? Not a lot I am allowed to talk about I’m afraid - I’m working on about four computer games a couple of them massive franchises but I can’t speak about them until release. I have only just this year started doing Comic-Con events with Rattleshirt amongst other bits like the games Get Even, The Witcher III and will be appearing at Manchester ThronesCon August 18th. A big part of my daily life revolves around a rock band called The Family Dog and they’re the future of Rock ‘n’ Roll - they’re my five sons so I would say that but trust me they’re very good - we’ve just got back from a mini-tour of Ireland. You can find them on instatgram -it’s: thefamilydog
So, when and how did you first get into acting? By accident really. I was running a performance art club called Cabaret Futura in Soho in 1980/81. It was a very creative time - the beginning of stand-up, a lot of spoken word, of video art, short films, performance art etc. Someone assumed I was an actor, and introduced me to a director called Franc Roddam (Quadrophenia). Franc was making a film called The Bride (Sting/Jennifer Beales) at the time. I didn’t get a part in it but Franc introduced me to my agent, Michelle Braidman. She took me on for 3 months and I have been with her ever since!
What actors influenced you the most growing up, and why? Always loved the big Europeans like Lino Ventura, Eddie Constantine and Klaus Kinski. They seemed to have gravitas and intelligence, as well as a commanding screen presence.
What was your first major project as an actor, and what do you remember the most from this experience? I had done lots of fringe theatre stuff before I got my first film role, as a pornographer in Mona Lisa. I remember arriving at work in a sex shop in Old Compton Street. While Bob Hoskins and I were doing our scene, we kept getting interrupted by customers asking if we were open yet. It was 6am!
So, you were a goon in Batman! What was that like? We were on that film for about 12 weeks in all. There were six of us goons in the purple leather jackets, and that meant that filming could continue even when Jack Nicholson was absent from the set. We could be up to no good somewhere, or doing the mime scene outside City Hall, or the museum scene. I also remember in the makeup room very early every morning, having prosthetics put on in the next chair to Jack, and chatting about music… he loved music. A lot of funny stuff going on around that production. Tim Burton was pretty new and was getting it from all sides - producers, old actors, set designers, young starlets… that was a baptism of fire!
Another huge film that you got to be a part of was Gangs of New York, as an undertaker. What do you remember the most about working on this film, and if possible, can you tell us a bit about what Martin Scorsese is like to work with? Marty was a dream to work with and for. Probably the greatest director of his generation…definitely for me. His body of work by then was colossal, Mean Streets, Taxi Driver, King of Comedy, New York New York, Raging Bull…incredible. Intelligent, sensitive, educated, and very kind to actors. We shot in Cinecitta in Rome, where they shot all the epics in the 60s - Cleopatra, Ben Hur etc. What an experience for this kid from South London! I remember having to revoice my scenes in London months later, because in the test screenings, no-one knew the coffins that were being landed were from the American Civil War, so they gave me some lines to say to clarify the scene. I remember being in Wardour Street dubbing theatre with Marty on one phone, his editor Thelma Schoonmaker on another, and a dialogue coach on a third! Welcome to the world of movies!
How did you get the part of a Death Eater in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1, and what did you enjoy the most about working in this legendary world? I think I was the last living British actor who hadn’t been in Harry Potter! I remember working with Helena B-C who was always fun. I’d worked with her before on a British movie in the 80s, I remember being overwhelmed by the sheer scale of the art direction, the secrecy surrounding the production, and the respect that I suddenly got from my kids!
In Mister Lonely, you got to play an Abraham Lincoln impersonator! So how was that, and what else can you tell us about working on this project? I was a huge fan of Harmony Korine, and met him at a party while I was doing The Black Rider, the musical stage play created by William Burroughs, Tom Waits and Robert Wilson. I didn’t know it was Harmony, but we had such a laugh together, as I was about to leave the party, and fly to LA the next day for rehearsals on The Black Rider he called out to me “Hey! I want you in my new movie…are you back in the UK for August?” I said “yes” and he said I would be Abe! We shot up in the remote highlands of Scotland. It was so much fun, shared a B and B with Anita Pallenberg who was playing a Queen Elizabeth impersonator. Such a brilliant cast - Denis Lavant, Diego Luna, James Fox, Samantha Morton and Werner Herzog!! Beat that! In one scene Harmony asked me to recite the Gettysburg Address while spinning a basketball on one finger in a strobe light! He said “Don’t worry- I am going to put a banging Danish techno soundtrack behind your speech- it’ll be great!”
As well as the on-screen world, you've also acted on stage! Looking back on The Black Rider, what do you remember the most from that experience, and also, as an actor, what do you think you've learnt the most by working on stage? The Black Rider was a job in a million. I was a Burroughs fan since the age of 14, a Tom Waits fan since the 70s and a Robert Wilson fan since Einstein On The Beach. Add to that the fact that Marianne Faithfull was playing the lead, and we did the show for long runs in London Barbican, San Francisco, Los Angeles and Sydney and you can imagine why I loved it so much. Working with Bob (Wilson) is like working with Leonardo da Vinci, Picasso or Pina Bausch. Someone whose signature style has informed so much on contemporary culture. A fascinating, funny and singular man - you can’t help but learn from him just by being in the same room. With Bob it’s about light, about creating unforgettable images, about movement, about the physicality of the human body onstage.
Tough question time. What's been the hardest project for you to work on as an actor? I did a world tour of Hamlet with a Russian director called Yuri Lyubimov in 1988/9. It was my first ever stage role, playing one gravedigger (with James Nesbitt playing the other), the Player King and the Ghost. Danny Webb played Hamlet. Lyubimov didn’t speak a word of English, it was all done through an interpreter. This was another very physical piece of theatre, with fabulous tableaux being created on stage. Eight shows a week Jimmy and I buried Ophelia! In Australia, one audience member, an undertaker, was so impressed by our skill that he offered us a job at a society funeral upstate. Alas we had a matinee that day! I felt totally out of my depth as an actor in that show, and only later found out that so did everyone else in the cast! I learned a lot and made friends for life.
We of course, cover a lot of music in the magazine, so we must ask you. What can we expect from Doctors of Madness in 2019? This is a massive year for the Doctors of Madness. We have just finished recording our first album of new material since 1978. Everything fell into place - we have the sort of global political situation that is always going to get me writing. I have been blessed by having the greatest people wanting to work with me - Joe Elliott from Def Leppard, Sarah Jane Morris from The Communards, Terry Edwards of PJ Harvey, Nick Cave and Tindersticks, have all been into the studio with me to contribute their skill, their talent and their love. The songs sound amazing and this record is going to blow some minds. I have already had such great feedback, with one reviewer saying, “’Dark Times’ is the bold and brilliant 2019 offering from seminal British band the Doctors of Madness. Drawing from his years of experience in the music and creative industries, front-man and writer Richard Strange has crafted and delivered a body of work that is both daring and diverse in its influences, an album in which the central concept is introduced, sustained and hammered home in every lyrical, melodic and instrumental detail. This is pure craftsmanship and it’s a joy to the ears.” I’ll settle for that at this stage - before the record is even finished! Can’t wait to perform it live. We have a single, ‘Make It Stop!’, coming out in June featuring myself, Joe Elliott and fierce young London protest singer Lily Bud on vocals. I shall be doing gigs in Japan in September and in the UK in autumn, with the album, ‘Dark Times’, out September/ October
What is John Leckie like to work with, and how has he shaped what you've created? John is the best! I first met him in 1969/70 in Abbey Road Studios, where he was engineering my friend Roy Harper’s records. When the Doctors of Madness got signed to Polydor in 1975, it was my dream to give John what I think was his very first job as a producer…in 1976 he produced our second album ‘Figments of Emancipation’ at Abbey Road. He obviously went on to become one of the top producers in the world, working with XTC, Simple Minds, Stone Roses, Radiohead, Pink Floyd and God knows who else. When I started writing the songs for the new Doctors of Madness album, I phoned him and asked rather speculatively if he would produce it, knowing that I could offer him about two quid to do so! He generously agreed, and we have made a very special record together. Can’t wait for the world to hear it. John has brilliant ears and has brought all the sonic, lyrical and performance elements together to create something magical. I am very excited by this - the best record I have ever made.
Looking at the music side of your career, what else have you been up to recently? I have been lucky enough to work on some fabulous projects over the last few years - I wrote a cantata with the internationally acclaimed composer Gavin Bryars, based on the life and work of William Burroughs. It’s called ‘Language Is A Virus From Outer Space’, and was performed on London’s South Bank. A film of the entire evening, devoted to Burroughs and featuring artists from every discipline, by the film maker Neville Farmer won the Best Art Film Prize at the Portobello Film Festival last year. I curated an evening at The Tate Gallery called Cabaret Apocalyptica, responding to the works of the Victorian artist John Martin and the Apocalypse; I have written a memoir, ‘Strange Punks and Drunks and Flicks and Kicks’, I have collaborated with Anni Hogan on a new record, and am working on a piece of live theatre with Portuguese artist Antonio Olaio, for performance in 2020. I have also been lucky enough to teach Contemporary music students in Japan, the USA, Finland, Portugal, Sweden and the UK.
What else can we expect to see from Richard Strange in 2019? Something really special in September. Wait for the announcement soon!
So, when did you first realise that acting was what you wanted to do with your life? Pretty much since as long as I can remember. I think the thing that sealed the deal was when I was five, I insisted my mother write a letter to the local cable station in Southern Wisconsin to ask how I could be on The Brady Bunch. When I got home from Kindergarten, I would always watch the reruns in syndication. One of the producers at the TV station actually wrote me back and said while they were sorry The Brady Bunch was no longer shooting, if I was interested in being an actress, I should look to take acting classes.
Who were your major acting influences growing up, and why? Olivia Newton John impacted me beyond measure, believe it or not, because the first time I saw Grease I wanted to be Sandy. It solidified my love of musical theatre. And Carrie Fisher, as Princess Leia, made me want so very desperately to be an action hero.
What was your first major project, and what do you remember the most from this experience? I had a number of small roles in TV and indie projects, but I’d say my first “major” project was Shameless on Showtime playing the role of Patty opposite William H. Macy in the finale of season three. We were in a pushup contest, and I remember having to do almost 500 pushups during the multiple shots and just praying that my arms wouldn’t give out. It also happened to be Halloween and the last day of shooting, so the day was short and because they were so nice, I ended up at the wrap lunch which was the nicest lunch spread I had ever seen on a set.
So, how did you get the part as Hammerhead in Doom Patrol? My agents submitted me for the role, and they called me in for an audition. I was rocking a bald-head thanks to the chemo therapy I was going through which might have helped, but the rest, as they say is history.
What was the most rewarding episode for you to work on in Doom Patrol, and why? My first episode Jane Patrol was the most rewarding for a number of reasons. I am always thrilled when I get to utilize my physicality in a role, and the stunts I got to do in this episode were pretty badass. Dragging Karen around was tougher than it looked, but man was it fun.
Can you tell us a bit about what the cast were like to work with, and maybe how they helped shape the way you approached your character throughout the show? On account of who Hammerhead is, I am usually interacting with Diane as Jane or one of the other Jane personalities, except for the first episode where I got to work with both Diane and Brendan. Both of them were incredibly generous, both as people and scene partners. When I auditioned, the season hadn’t premiered yet. Warner Brothers is very protective (for good reason) about the scripts and storylines, so while I had read the script and all the Grant Morrison comics, Diane was the most helpful when it came to how I approached Hammerhead. In the audition, casting was able to let us view some of Diane’s version of Hammerhead, so I used that as a jumping off point. On set, she was incredibly open to questions, which was great because I’m kind of her, you really have to watch the show.
For those that haven't seen the show just yet. What can you tell us about it, and why should they watch it? Doom Patrol is a series about the most unlikely set of superheroes. They are broken, damaged, and potentially insane, yet they are stepping up to save the world. The writing on this show is the funniest and most irreverent I’ve seen in a superhero series. The cast play their roles with such grounded truth, that you can’t help but love every last misfit one of them. Not to mention, every shot looks like it could be art.
Jane has 64 personalites! What makes Hammerhead so important, and why is she so crucial alongside the rest of these? On the surface, Hammerhead is the enforcer. She will physically destroy anyone who tries to hurt Jane. Once you get to the underground, her role changes a bit. I prefer to think of her as a “den mother with an iron fist.” Her job is to keep the other personalities in-line, so that if one goes to the surface, they don’t destroy them all.
So what attracted you to appear as Melissa, the best friend of Chrissy Metz, in the film Breakthrough? The thing that attracted me to Melissa in Breakthrough, is her humour. So often in films that are faith based, characters can be lost in service to the miracle in the film. I think sometimes religious people end up getting a really bad rap. When it comes to Melissa, Grant Nieporte, the writer, did a great job in crafting Melissa so as to show her humanity while still being able to be a devout church goer. I loved that; she’s got some spunk.
For our readers, can you tell us about what they can expect from the film? Breakthrough is the true story of the miraculous survival of John Smith. I’d say be prepared with tissues, because you can’t help but be affected. It’s a film about the power of love and unwavering faith.
What did you find the most rewarding about working with director Roxann Dawson? Roxann has had me telling everyone I know over the last year, “Why the hell aren’t there more female directors?” In the midst of a long day with 600 plus people on set, she never seemed overwhelmed, and was fully available to her actors. Also, after years of playing characters who carry guns, cops, etc., she entrusted me to play Melissa who requires none of those things. I will forever be grateful to finally play a role where, the only “heat” I needed to pack was the bible.
What has it been like to play two totally different characters at the same time in your career, and how do you go about switching from one mindset to another so quickly? On the outside the characters look incredibly different. However, when you climb inside their heads, their motivations are so much the same: Protect the people they love. Now, how that love manifests looks very different. But my “in” is always in the relationship. Also, while the release of both these projects happens to coincide, they were shot a year apart from one another.
You'll be playing Postmaster in Call of the Wild! It’s early days, but what can you tell us about this project so far, and how does it compare to anything else you've worked on? It is by far is the biggest film I’ve ever worked on. Because of an NDA (non-disclosure agreement), all I can say is Chris Sanders the director did a phenomenal job at bringing Jack London’s story in particular the character of Buck the dog, alive.
You've battled three types of cancer alongside your career as an actress. Is there anything that you’d like to share with us from this part of your life? Being treated for a cancer puts things in a laser-like perspective. You really don’t have time to sweat the small stuff. Acting, great acting is about being in the moment. My particular journey with my cancer trifecta, has gently forced me to stay present in my life. As a result, it has made the work I’ve booked that much sweeter, and has given me a new appreciation for enjoying exactly where I am.
What else can we expect to see from you as an actress in 2019? Besides Call Of The Wild in December, I am involved with a group of actors who is set to start production on a series called I Friggin' Love You, exploring love in ALL of its facets, good and bad. Other than that, there’s other stuff in the pipeline, but until I’m on set, I am superstitious.
After a long two year stretch from releasing their debut LP ‘Distance’, the Hasty Page boys are back at it. Their new LP titled ‘Things to Do Before I Die’ picks up right where ‘Distance’ left off. While introducing us to new music, new ideas, and new styles with this release, the band stays true to who they are by continuing to write honest, heartfelt lyrics, as well as rock-driven guitar riffs and catchy pop hooks. The project was recorded in August of 2017 with the intention of releasing the final product exactly a year later. But instead, the first single from the album, ‘Body Shots’ was released the following June. A few months later the second single, ‘Vices’ was released, henceforth naming the two singles off of the newest LP. As of April 2019, ‘Vices’ has been placed into four different Spotify playlists with over 4,000+ all-time streams. The band has also seen a 663% jump in Spotify streams with a total of 3,000 monthly listeners and climbing. Now with a new music video release for ‘Vices’, things are starting to take off for this young band. Hasty Page is an alt/indie rock power trio from Albany, NY comprised of Josh Morris, Zane Agnew, and James Paolano. Since late 2015, these three young musicians have used their band as an outlet to channel creative energy and mold it however they see fit. The sound in which they’ve pioneered is without any boundaries. Crossing genres, taking risks, and simply writing how they feel is what this group is all about. Alt/indie power trio Hasty Page is set to release full length album on June 21st, 2019 Apple Music pre-sale will be available May 3rd, 2019 along with new single ‘Lucid’ The release will be available across all major music platforms including Apple Music, Spotify, and Bandcamp “Hasty Page is an amazing Alternative/Indie Rock band that deserves all the attention they can get.” - Daniel McAree (The After Hours Review)
The Damned Things – High Crimes American rock supergroup consisting of Joe Trohman and Andy Hurley of Fall Out Boy, Scott Ian of Anthrax, Keith Buckley of Every Time I Die, and Dan Andriano of Alkaline Trio release their sophomore album ‘High Crimes’ via Nuclear Blast. Opening track ‘Cells’ is brash with feel good vibes and a very catchy chorus, all members get their moment to shine which makes for a great and memorable way to kick things off and pulls you in immediately…‘Something Good’ is upbeat yet features a sinister side such as the chant intro declaring “Y-E-L-L All of my friends are going to hell”. Keith’s evil sounding vocal tones paired with contradictory fun clapping and up tempo beats and an infectious chorus, have an end result that is irresistible. It’s a creepy fun track! ‘Omen’ features another highly memorable chorus and has largely upbeat sounds but with dark lyrics such as “You dragged the body home”. With hard-hitting rhythms as seen throughout and great bass lines this is another must hear. Closer ‘The Fire Is Cold’ is frantic, fast and one of the most fierce with screamed and diverse vocals, although it is the shortest track featured at just over two minutes long, it makes a hefty impact, keeping it short and deadly, managing to pack in a lot in that time and ending on a exceptional high. It’s very impressive to fit so much in such a short space of time but as seen throughout the composition, songwriting and structure, the entire album is crafted brilliantly, as you would expect from such a high calibre super group of skilled musicians. This album keeps you gripped with their optimistic yet eerie sound and is unusual, gritty and refreshing with some epic alternative rock anthems. All members bring their notable skills to the table and manage to expertly cram all they can into each track. The Damned Things are an unstoppable force and ‘High Crimes’ needs to be heard. CL
Gasoline Outlaws - Light Up The World Gasoline Outlaws are a rock act from Ireland. They released their debut album in 2015 which was well received and now return with their follow up titled ‘Light Up The World’. Title and opening track gets things off to a good start with upbeat moments, melodies, slick guitar work, with motivational and rebellious lyrics delivered well by Matt Fitzsimons unique vocals. It simply sparks interest immediately. ‘Livin This Way’ follows and changes the tone with a grittier sound in comparison, being more soulful with varied vocals and a strong chorus and some nice bluesy vibes. ‘Better Days Coming’ feat Amy Montgomery is powerful and beautiful with Amy’s vocals complimenting the song wonderfully and adding another dynamic. ‘Psycho’ is darker and progresses nicely, delivering a stomping rock track and is the heaviest offering with intense vocals and brilliant guitar work. ‘Breathe Again’ is another hard-hitting fiery piece of work and features some interesting tempo changes, making it a must hear as it offers something a bit different. The closer ‘Hard Times’ is unexpected and brilliant with acoustic guitars accompanied by high pitched vocals to open, making for their most mainstream approach yet but the rest of the track goes on to be sombre and bluesy. A very effective and powerful note which highlights their depth and variety. This is highly satisfying hard rock, and if you’re a fan of the genre then this will be very enjoyable and accessible. Plus with Matt’s characteristic vocals it makes them stand out further. A great collection of songs and a strong follow up to their debut. CL
Whitesnake - Flesh & Blood Well known classic rock heavyweights Whitesnake formed back in 1978 and four decades later they are still going strong and doing what they do best. Their thirteenth album ‘Flesh & Blood’ enforces this. The album follows the 2011 critically-acclaimed studio album ‘Forevermore’, and 2015’s ‘The Purple Album’, a reimagining of Deep Purple classics from Whitesnake mastermind’s David Coverdale’s time in that band. Joining Coverdale on ‘Flesh & Blood’ is Reb Beach and Joel Hoekstra on guitars, Michael Devin on bass, Tommy Aldridge on drums, and Michele Luppi on keyboards who prove they are quite the force, not to be reckoned with. Opener ‘Good To See You Again’ immediately sports their classic epic vibes, with upbeat feel good sounds and high impact riffs that pull you in right away. ‘Gonna Be Alright’ changes the mood with a lighter yet slightly sombre sound with some nice melodic moments and adds more depth and variety to the album. The awesome ‘Shut Up And Kiss Me’ is a very 80s anthem with slick guitar work. It is a gritty upbeat classic rock love song, with standout guitars and drum beats. ‘Hey You (You Make Me Rock)’ has fantastic lyrics such as “Lightning strikes me when I feel your touch. Your love burns me to the bone”, and I have no doubt that this will be a new fan favourite live with everyone singing in unison. ‘Trouble Is Your Middle Name’ is a fast, high impact output and it’s a great throwback to their classic 80s sound. It is instantly enjoyable like most of the songs featured throughout! ‘Flesh And Blood’ is a brilliant hard edge track and as expected it features hot blooded lyrics like “You're flesh and blood, skin and bone make a grown man weep, make a young man moan”. David Coverdale’s vocals continue to compliment the instruments wonderfully and it does a good job at representing the album and their sound. ‘Heart Of Stone’ is a stand out moment where David truly shines with his gravelly vocals and well written lyrics like “Eyes as sharp as diamonds Cutting thru' the pack. Then you stood before me like an Angel dressed in black.” This is a slower tempo yet powerful listen, with beautiful intricate guitar work. A must hear with its tuneful sombre instruments. ‘Sands Of Time’ is the longest offering with a darker sound and soaring riffs throughout, ending the album on an epic and serious note. With such a long spanning career Whitesnake certainly assert that their creativity isn’t fading and impressively, thirteen albums in manage to still create a strong feisty and enjoyable rock album that is easily accessible to any avid rock fan to fit any mood. CL
The Stolen - Self-Titled So far pop-rock outfit The Stolen got off to a relatively mediocre foot with me. These guys are definitely heavier into the synth-pop side of the genre, and are lighter on the rock side of things. Many of these tracks blurred together for me like ‘Change the Record’, and ‘Overboard’, however I think on a track like ‘Millennial’, these guys shine much more than my initial impressions gave off. The vocal style really suits a lot of ears, and has a good depth and spectrum of dimension. ‘This Is Good For You, Yeah?’ utilizes a more middle school slow dance like ballad, and despite my lack of middle school slow dance experience, and a botched high school prom attempt, this track is one of the shooting stars on this album. It is starry, atmospheric, and romantic, and a wonderful contrast to the faster paced, pop anthems earlier on in the album. ‘Stuck’ enjoys a good dose of summertime homesickness, and is reminiscent of old school Weezer mixed with a softer vocal style and an acoustic guitar. A sound that’s hard not to dig. Overall, while these guys are more pop than they are rock, I think this album is a good nod to their roots, and a solid release for them that they should be proud of. LD
Yours Truly - Afterglow Fans of State Champs, Waterparks, and Grayscale better stop what they’re doing right now and check out ‘Afterglow’, a new EP from Australian pop punkers, Yours Truly. I am enamored, and charmed by this little 5 track release. Each track has its own personality, and is a release I could listen to over and over again with exhaustion. ‘Circles’ opens the EP, and if this track isn’t successful at catching your attention, then I think that sounds like a big case of “your problem.” Vocalist Mikaila truly shines in her bodily and swelling vocals which shows throughout the EP but particularly in this song, and title track, ‘Afterglow’. The remarkable thing about this release is that every song has an unmistakable ear worm quality. In a few years, these guys will be a much bigger force, I’m sure. ‘I Can’t Feel’ brings a punchiness that feeds into that “earworm quality.” What I think a lot of pop punk bands lack, and what makes me sometimes turned off to them, is that drive and punch which these guys certainly have no shortage of. ‘Delusional Paradise’ slows it down just a smidge, and features a more rocking rhythm. They have certainly mixed it up and completely turned the page with ‘Afterglow’ which has a lovely little acoustic jam for an intro and hauls it down with a hard hitting driving riff. Aside from ‘Circles,’ this is another time where the vocals really hit you in the face with a big ole sucker punch. I am sometimes wary of a higher pitched vocal style, but the riff driven nature of these tunes combined with impossible-to-ignore jams makes it a cinch for those vocals to drive it home. Pop bunkers everywhere, Yours Truly is for you. LD
La Dispute - Panorama For the longest time I wasn’t a huge spoken word fan— I’m not sure why because now, I can’t get enough. “VIEW FROM OUR BEDROOM WINDOW,” the seventh track to bless our ears utilizes more of a powerful hitting riff and vocal punch than the other tracks. It blanches out and has a more distressed, and haunting manner that without, the album would be missing something. “FOOTSTEPS AT THE POND” uses a more bummer punk, summer garage rock style riff to drive it — the lyrics are brisker. “FULTON STREET I” and “FULTON STREET II” have a earthly, atmospheric, rich tone that swells and falls in triumph and despair. Overall, these are, in my opinion, the two strongest parts of the album. If you want to get a taste of quality spoken word, and want to dive deep, then start here. And if not, still listen. La Dispute absolutely crushed it with this album. Each track has its own personality, symbolic of the trials and tribulations of life. The beauty of spoken word is that it speaks directly to human emotion, and this album is a prime example of that. LD
Centrilia - In the Name of Nothing ‘In the Name of Nothing’ is here to bring the flames! ‘Symptoms of Betrayal’, immediately drops a blistering riff and has unrelenting screams to infiltrate your brain at break neck speeds. Talk about some new gym rips. ‘Splitting Hairs Spitting Teeth’ was certainly no exception to the rule. I am very happy to announce that for those looking to have their face melted off due to insanely brutal jams, this song is here for you.‘In the Name of Nothing’, and ‘Tamam Shud’ uses a dry and earthly instrumental work to introduce but almost immediately drops into a groovier, heavier style. What I can appreciate is that there are constant new little easter eggs to be heard throughout. Nothing gets old, and sometimes with heavy music, that is the drawback that it can have. These guys pump adrenaline, and refuse to cease and desist. For those of you looking for absolutely nasty pump up tracks, then this band have just the shot of whiskey for you. LD
Convey - City of Skin and Bone Convey are a unique alternative post rock act from Los Angeles who take pride in sounding different and putting their own spin on rock music. They are unleashing their debut ‘City Of Skin And Bone’ via Revival Recordings on June 14th. First song ‘Devour’ has immediate thumping beats, nice varied vocals from vocalist Ben Cohen who has a very distinguishable voice, making them stand out further. It’s an impactful opener. ‘Inside Out’ changes the pace with a groovy upbeat approach in this very mainstream electronic track. The vocals are impressive and strong and this will appeal to the masses for sure. Latest single ‘The Way’ again takes a different direction, being slower paced. It has great wellwritten lyrics, dynamic riffs and beats a plenty, making for a strong single choice. ‘Terror’ has a more indie and gloomy sound along with ‘Nutrition’ later on which has a darker eerie style, being atmospheric with a loud and high impact. This is one of their most rock fuelled and it is going down a storm for it. A must hear which shows off the bands talents wonderfully. Title song and closer ‘City Of Skin And Bone’ is very well composed, with a brilliant impressive range of vocals as seen throughout, great melodies and progressive changeable moments, a powerful way to end this musical rollercoaster. There are many sounds explored throughout these ten well-crafted songs and there is definitely something for all, this is a very fresh, exciting and enjoyable album which will grab your attention, especially with their unique take on rock music. CL
Awake At Last - The Change Awake At Last are an American dark pop/hard rock act who have an interesting sound combining melodic pop with rock, metal and post-hardcore delivering a powerful cocktail. ‘The Change’ has an inspirational message about changing yourself to live more fulfilling lives and lead a good example for others to do the same. ‘Rebirth’ starts off with atmospheric, haunting and beautiful melodic vocals and sounds which build up and close in a soaring fashion, setting the scene well…. ‘Welcome To Life’ immediately opens with a larger than life sound, bouncy vibrant riffs, and varied impressive vocals from Vincent Torres. It makes for a gripping and nice proper “welcome” to their debut. ‘Dead Generation’ is seriously melodic and is a definite rock anthem which is motivating and thought provoking, this will surely be a fan favourite. ‘Unobtainable’ follows and is supercharged and fierce, it is very reminiscent of Of Mice Of Men, being a good melodic metal song with a hint of nu metal. Single ‘Let Go’ has a powerful fun upbeat striking sound, with melodic riffs and energetic and varied vocals, it is soaring throughout and is bound to get everyone moving with its infectious sound.
‘The Change’ features Spencer Charnas, vocalist of American metalcore act Ice Nine Kills and helps give another dynamic. It works wonderfully with Vincent’s vocals. It is dramatic with a heavy dark electronic sound and is ambient and seriously catchy making a wise choice for the representation of the album. Closer ‘Fallen Stars’ strikes hard from the off and features more inspiring lyrics like “we stand together united like fallen stars” and ‘we are stronger together”. It has brilliantly delivered vocals with emotion and passion, helping to convey the message further and makes for the perfect summary of what the album wanted to portray. It is very powerful. ‘The Change’ delivers irresistible anthemic rock, all twelve songs are absolute belters and will appeal to many fans within the rock/metal genre. At the core it holds their bold and motivational message to change for the better. CL
Frank Carter & the Rattlesnakes - End Of Suffering Frank Carter and the Rattlesnakes have returned with a brand new album ‘End of Suffering’, this follows 2017’s ‘Modern Ruin’ which was the band’s best charting album yet, peaking at number 7 in the UK. Frank of course came from fronting punk hardcore band Gallows, with whom he had great success. Will this new offering from the band be a hit or not? The album doesn’t so much come roaring out of the gates, instead it trots, with opening track ‘Why a Butterfly Can’t Love a Spider’. The band sounds fine but Frank’s lyrics set a rather depressing tone. That’s just Frank being Frank, he wears his heart on his sleeve. One of the most surprising things about this album is the lack of raw aggression. Frank doesn’t scream once, which is difficult to imagine, given his reputation for being angry and in your face when he gets behind a mic! ‘Tyrant Lizard King’ features an appearance by Tom Morello, his guitar sound works well with the Rattlesnakes’ and it’s rather catchy, particularly in the chorus. However, it still lacks the bite people have come to expect from the band. ‘Heartbreaker’ is the first point of the album where they pick up the pace, while Frank sings about being in love with someone who challenges you at every turn of the relationship. In a live setting I think this song will go down very well. ‘Crowbar’ is full of raw emotion and passion, and hits you full on in the face about not conforming in the modern world and being an individual. As the song states “it’s a trap and there's no comfort fitting in, a fake safety that no one believes in, and if it goes against who you think you are, it's the death of happiness go and get the crowbar” which I think is a lyric a lot of people would agree with.
The first track that really stood out for me was ‘Love Games’, with Frank singing about his past relationships with lyrics like “If love is a losing game, then why do we play it again and again?” The use of a piano really added a lot of depth to the song, and Frank’s lyrics do give this a different quality. ‘Angel Wings’ has a slow tempo and dark outlook, as Frank describes fighting his inner demons as well as alcohol and drugs. You get the impression he wrote this in the darkest night of his soul, it really is a glimpse into the struggles he’s had. This trend continues in ‘Supervillain’ to haunting effectiveness. One of the three singles for this album ‘Kitty Sucker’ sounds a bit more upbeat and punk. One thing that still rings true is that Frank is a “Punk Rock Renegade” who will never conform, no matter what people think of him. We come to the penultimate track ‘Little Devil’. Frank is talking about the little voice in the back of your head “the devil with the lizard tongue and the gator smile” trying to tell you to do the wrong things as they are more fun. It’s summed up by the line “making sure you’re never on your own, even when you’re alone”. ‘End Of Suffering’ is a beautiful way to close out the album. The track is all about Frank’s love for his daughter Mercy Rose, interspersed with audio of frank and his daughter playing and clearly enjoying life together. The song contains a very meaningful line right at the end with Frank singing "your happiness will be the end of suffering” as we hear Frank ask his daughter “what’s complicated?” to which she replies “nothing.” Showing how Frank being happy with his little girl has brought an end to his suffering as well as an end to the album as the last notes of the piano fade away. This album represents a change in sound, a change in direction, and a change from all the madness of the last two records. However, from the madness something beautiful has evolved. Frank Carter and the Rattlesnakes look stronger than ever for the change. LS
Defeater - Self-Titled American hardcore mainstays Defeater are back with a brand new album, a self titled offering and the 5th album in their 15 year career. One very consistent part of the band’s continued success has been frontman Derek Archambault and his continuing ability to come up with outstanding lyrics. Once the awesome two opening tracks of ‘The Worst of Fates’ and ‘List & Heel’ are complete, the album kicks it up a gear with ‘Atheists In Foxholes’, a track whose fast pace and raw sounding aggression grab you and doesn’t stop for a second to let you comprehend what you have just heard. Lead single ‘Mother’s Sons’ probably has the best vocal performance on the album, describing the grief of losing a son with haunting honesty and openness, complimented well by some amazing guitar work from Jake Woodruff. If you listen to the different elements of each track you can clearly hear how they differ slightly in style, to give each moment a sense of individuality, with some creating their own unique atmosphere. It’s something that was either going to make or break the album, fortunately for the fans it works really well. My favourite listen on the album is ‘Hourglass’, as it feels like a song you might find on a horror movie soundtrack. It’s unbelievably creepy and yet still an outstanding listen. This is one of those albums where you will notice a little something new on every listen. Defeater feels like a statement for fans old and new, reminding them that the band does what they do better than anyone else could. LS
The Skints - Swimming Lessons The Skints formed in 2007 with their first album ‘Live. Breathe. Build. Believe’ coming out in 2009. Since then they have taken their musical fusion of ska, dub, punk, dancehall and soul across the globe, performing at festivals far and wide and gaining a reputation as a phenomenal live act who at one point played 150 live shows in a single year. The band has grown to new heights in more recent years with their album ‘FM’ peaking in the UK charts at number 5. They have returned with the new album ‘Swimming Lessons’. This is probably their darkest release so far, but with all the different elements the band has at its disposal it makes for a very interesting listen. Tracks like ‘Gets On Top’ with its mix of electro and reggae, and its catchy beat. Or the title track ‘Learning To Swim’ with its pop punk come reggae sound and very nice vocals from Marcia Richards. This is a song I can see going down very well at live shows. They really showcase how diverse their musical range can be which makes a refreshing change to things in the modern day music industry.
There’s such a mix of contrasting sounds and subjects on this album, and it works well to their benefit to be so broad on ‘What did I learn Today’ ‘New Kind Of Friend’ and ‘Armageddon’. However, and alternatively, there are moments on this album where having such a mix of all the different styles does become a drawback, ‘Donkey Brain’ being an example. The Skints haven’t really done anything revolutionary, but they have kept doing what they do best. ‘Swimming Lessons’ carries their bizarre genre mash up on with its wide range of styles on display. LS
Periphery – Periphery IV: Hail Stan Periphery for the longest of time has been the stepping stone for which each modern metal band tries so hard to overtake instrumentally and lyrically since the band started out in 2005. Since then they have climbed their way to the top, getting the biggest of achievements to ever grace their careers with a Grammy nomination for Best Metal Performance. To this day they continue to be the trail blazers for their genre and are only getting better with time. Their new masterpiece ‘Periphery IV: Hail Stan’, is no exception to the rule From the get go with ‘Reptile’, they are already coming out of the gates strong with an almost 17 minute epic. In fact ‘Reptile’ is so perfectly balanced, one doesn't even to begin to notice that it runs for that long until looking at the time stamps for the album. With a rewarding chorus that is magic to your ears it clearly pushes the envelop with melodic and metal instrumentality. This is sure to come off with a bang in the live world. Another notable entry in this album is ‘Garden in the Bones’, one of the most identifiable tracks for fans of the band as a whole sound wise, it’s a moment where they create something so amazing that one cannot help but gush about thanks to the drumming talents of Matt Halpern and the guitar genius of Misha Mansoor. We then jump to pop influenced ‘It’s Only Smiles’, which is one of the only moments that exist like this on the album, with this release they’ve created one wonderful chorus after another and this song really brings out the best of them. It also shows that despite this band being more progressive metal in sound, Periphery isn’t afraid to switch gears and play around with other styles. ‘Periphery V: Hail Stan’ is a terrific music experience that is truthfully a unique soundscape worth spending the hour and thirty minutes listening to. They have struck gold with this release. SA
Brutus – Nest Brutus are out for blood and are quickly showing that this female fronted and drumming powerhouse may be what this genre needs to kick things into high gear. Undeniably refreshing, Brutus is such a different sound when it comes to fusing rock genres together. Especially when listening and taking in an ear full of the new 2019 album release ‘Nest’, each track simply comes alive. To start things off, ‘Fire’ is exactly what it is. A moment that literally from the get go shows how explosively powerful this band can be. With a slow-burning start that cruises into hard-rock intensity, splashed with black metal flair and math rock tones that will dazzle the listener from start to finish, it sets the tone for what to expect moving forward. ‘Techno’ is another darling on ‘Nest’ as it changes up the energy somewhat with its punchy bass patterns while still letting its math and hard rock influences shine. This is bound to be one of those songs that you will need to hear live as the vocals are top tier in every sense of the word and it will definitely get the crowds going wild. ‘War’ is a different kind of beast for this album as it is one of the more subdued and lyrically heavy tracks on ‘Nest’. Showcasing more of the technique behind the vocals and less of the bells and whistles that the previous moments on the album have showed, it’s another finely executed listen that jumps from a slow burner which then eases into more speed and energy. It is one of the best crafted pieces on ‘Nest’ and shows just how much talent this band has with presenting instrumental and vocal environments for the listener to dwell in. Overall, ‘Nest’ is just one of those international beauties that come around every so often in the rock music world that tests the limits of what you can do when you rather ingeniously mix genres together to create a perfect work of art. ‘Nest’ has done exactly this. SA
Employed To Serve - Eternal Forward Motion Ever since Employed to Serve got well renowned recognition for their last album ‘The Warmth Of A Dying Sun’ their popularity has soared. One would think with their new found claim to fame that their sound would change to reach other genre demographics in rock to appease new fans. This hasn’t seemed to be the case as they have stuck to their abrasive and electric roots. We get the same unrelenting instrumentality we have always enjoyed from the five piece band with ‘Eternal Forward Motion’. From there we get treasures such as ‘Force Fed’, which still maintains the style that the first track has already introduced to us, but what makes ‘Force Fed’ so different is the feature of clean vocals, something the band hasn’t really done up to this point with their music vocally. Please don’t mistake the presence of clean vocals as being soft, as by no means is this subdued at all. It is the kind of difference old and new fans will enjoy as it doesn’t give up on their relentless musical nature. In fact it only makes for a riskier, bolder appearance on the album Other moments such as ‘Beneath It All’ bring a whole other kind of heavy nature into play with its chugging guitars and chaotic vocals that really bring this to the forefront. ‘Sore Tooth Twin’ is by far the stand out attraction, as it is one of the softer hits that brings something different to the listener with an interlude that gravitates to the hard punch heavy guitars and violent drums we have enjoyed this whole time from ‘Eternal Forward Motion’ onward. This album is overtly heavy and is a fun musical roller coaster ride from start to finish. We get an angry thrashing as it concludes with the outstanding and unique ‘Bare Bones On A Blue Sky’. This is without a doubt a great album. SA
Am I Dead Yet? - Self-Titled ‘Leaving Me Behind’ starts with an ominous violin before whistling a tune reminiscent of a western film. The vocals are backed by a soft drum beat, and are almost spoken word. The guitar becomes more prominent throughout the song, and there's even a slow guitar solo midway through. The outro has a mixture of guitars, drums, and piano, and finishes with the same whistle, making it come full circle in an exciting way. ‘Solid Gone’ starts off with the outro of previous track ‘Loneliness’, and there’s a drum beat that sounds electronic in the background, adding to the variety of instruments used. Unfortunately, there’s a synthesiser that’s used so often throughout that it becomes tiring after a while. Furthermore, the vocals are very one dimensional, making each song hard to differentiate.
‘Joe Meek Shall Inherit The Earth’ has some very strange lyrical content, including the memorable opening line being, “Britain’s got talent/You bet the f*ck it has”, whilst the instruments sound like they’ve been taken out of a Bruce Springsteen song and distorted a bit. ‘Ghosted’ adds interesting diversity with its toe tapping drum beat and sounds almost jazz like with the strings. Other highlights on the album include the heart thumping bass on ‘People Are Dangerous’, the smooth rock of ‘Wasted On Me’, strange eerie synthesisers on ‘Futuristic Paranoia’, and a unique piano piece being played at the start of ‘Fake Flowers’. ‘Thanks For Sharing’ has a huge bass riff that echoes throughout, and therefore makes it a very sombre closing. In conclusion, Am I Dead Yet?’s self titled LP is a very interesting collection of fantastic and mysterious elements. KB
The energetic vibes of Jeffrey Allen (bassist) combined with the artistic compositions of Jacob Kirby (guitarist) ignited a fire in the music that couldn't be ignored. Now with their first single â€˜Sing Alongâ€™ streaming on reverbnation and soon to release on iTunes and Amazon markets etc. they are spending countless hours in the studio to record their debut album. Bittersweet Empty is a North American band out of Atlanta, Ga with ranging vocals along with catchy riffs guaranteed to get stuck in your head and beats to rumble through your entire body shaking you at the very core. The lyrics are meaningfully written to give the listener a sense of emotional connection to a song if they relate to what it speaks on."music can save the world, one song at a time" says Jay Jordan,vocal and rhythm guitarist.
They can be found on many social media platforms such as Facebook, instagram, YouTube etc. They try to be as interactive as possible so don't be shy. in fact, to keep up with new songs and upcoming events, merch and shows be sure to like and follow them on any of their social media sites and be sure to let your friends know as well. These guys plan to push the envelope and bring you all the best The band is built on two founding members, Jay music possible, so stay Jordan (vox/guitar) and Scottie Hensley (drummer) whom were both on hiatus from music indefinitely until tuned in and be listening, cause you never know meeting through a mutual friend Jeremiah Griffen (studio engineer) and something awoke inside of them when Bittersweet Empty might be coming to a city and ignited new inspiration to write again. The sound though, was missing elements so they tried many new near you. members until finding the right fit. Artwork by Jeremiah S Morgan / Photo by Joe Renko
Like Satellites - Nothing Left to Say Toronto based band Like Satellites have come out with a rather unique gem of an EP, ‘Nothing Left to Say’. Since the band started out back in 2018 with ‘Muscle Memory’, Like Satellites have given us effortless melodic vocals, a crafty and catchy sense of lyricism, dynamic percussion skills, glittery use of synths, and summer driven/atmospheric guitar and bass. They are quickly proving why they are gaining attention this year in the alternative rock genre. Launching in with ‘Catch My Breath’, this energetic summer sounding track is enough to keep listeners invested with what will come next. This is no different from another great moment on the EP ‘Anchor’, which clearly states Leah’s talents as a vocalist with such passion and emotion. ‘Anchor’ sets itself apart from the rest because of the hefty weight of the lyricism compared to the upbeat, exciting, shimmery feel to some of the others on the EP. It’s something that will really register with listeners on a heartfelt level. While most of the EP continues to have these edgy guitar tones and sun-drenched beach over tones like on ‘Take This’, more softer emotional elements open up to us with ‘Homesick’ (this is a must listen even though it’s on the lighter side). The last slow track ‘CA’ is bound to take a few breaths away with feathery vocals and delicate yet energetic instrumentals as it closes out the remainder of the EP. This EP is a must have, and it will be a fantastic inclusion to any summer playlist. SA
Toreador - Hot Glue This Southhampton band have come out with a brand new exciting EP ‘Hot Glue’. From the gate we get nothing but straight fire and energy in ‘Get A Grip’, with tenebrous riffs and agitated percussion elements, it’s a prelude for what’s to come for the rest of the EP. Some moments that stand out in the rest of the EP are ‘Grenade’, ‘Ashes’, and ‘Be Your Fool’. ‘Grenade’ has creativity, edgy guitar patterns and drum elements within. It’s sure to be one of the more memorable ones on this EP for those reasons. ‘Ashes’ creeps up on us as a great second listen because of its unique guitar distortion while also creating a very nostalgic rock and roll feel vocally. Lastly, ‘Be Your Fool’ tops all of these by tenfold because of its addictive guitar work and effortlessly smooth vocals. Out of all the songs on this EP, this is by far the most entertaining as it captures their identity as a band the most. This is also one that feels like it would be great to hear live as there is a lot going on instrumentally and vocally to really get a crowd going.
For a small EP, there is a lot to praise to give and to the band itself. They catch the nostalgic muse of early 2000s rock which is something we really don’t hear too much of these days from bands. They continue to push their identity and vivacity until the very last track. ‘Hot Glue’ is a must add to your playlist if you are into early 2000s rock that packs a punch with energy and character. SA
Erica Drive - The Hate, the Hurt, the Healing Many people might wonder how a 4 song EP can show the potential a band can have, especially as the whole run time is only 15 minutes. Erica Drive are here to show bands how it’s done. The first song, ‘All We Are’, starts off with a distorted guitar that gets louder as it’s joined in by the drums. The main vocals are - at first - reminiscent of pop/punk band Neck Deep, but by the time the chorus hits, they make their own defining mark. The more aggressive backing vocals fit well in this song, and it sounds like a conservation back and forth as each line is either sung by the main or backing vocals. ‘Better Man’ starts off calmly, and - for the most part - is a slightly more mellow song, that builds up, leading to a crescendo that would sound amazing live, especially with a crowd singing along, whereas ‘Anchor’ is a more rockier song with heavier instruments and stronger vocals.
‘The Fall’ starts off with a simple guitar melody before the drums and vocals kick in with a mellow beat. The vocals lead this track, as the pre chorus is almost a capella like due to the instruments being very faded in the background. The background vocals blend in with the main ones during the second verse, but the mellow tone of the song turns into soft rock by the bridge, as an instrumental solo briefly takes place before the main vocals take the lead again. In conclusion, ‘The Hate, the Hurt, the Healing’ is a strong EP full of a variety of genres, and Erica Drive have proven that it doesn’t take a 12 song album to show off the talent; sometimes, it only needs 4. KB
The Bouncing Souls - Crucial Moments Opening the EP, the titular track is upbeat, bouncy, and the instruments and vocals are very strong. The only downside is that it is only 2 and a half minutes long, so the listener is left wanting more. Second song ‘1989’ is a fast punk number with thrashing guitars and heart pounding drumming. The vocals get their time to shine as they take centre stage. The background “heys!” and claps make it really come alive. ‘Favourite Everything’ is uplifting just like the opener, but it is also quite mellow. Ultimately, the catchy chorus and toe tapping beat will get people dancing in no time. ‘Here's To Us’ starts off with a groovy guitar riff that is reminiscent of early 2000s pop/punk bands. The drums take a back seat in this song, but are not underused as they come in during crucial moments of the song and the gang vocals at the end are almost Kings Of Leon-esque, which is the opposite of the next output, ‘4th Avenue Sunrise’, another fast punk interlude, where the calmer vocals are in contrast to the instruments. The final song is entitled ‘Home’, a rock moment that starts off with vocals and a guitar riff, but is mainly carried by the vocals which shine, before the drums kick in with a funky punk beat. It's overall a fun song that will get people jumping around when played live. In conclusion, ‘Crucial Moments’ is an energetic EP that, despite some production issues, defines what The Bouncing Souls are all about. KB
She Made Me Do It - Drenched The first track 'Bones' starts off with a slow rhythmic guitar riff that - aided by drums - picks up speed. The musical intro lasts for around 50 seconds before the vocals by Shaheena Dax - who is most famous for being in a punk band called Rachel Stamp - kick in. Dax's vocals are reminiscent of the grunge scene from the 1990s. Will Crewdson, who plays guitar and keyboard in the band, gets to show off his talent by playing a guitar solo that leads into an electronic outro plucked straight out of the 1980s. ‘Broken Morning’ is a slow song that doesn't rely heavily on the electronic side of music. This is a bonus as it shows a rawer side to Dax's vocals, as the only instruments used are an acoustic guitar and a simple drum beat. There's a rhythmic guitar solo in the middle that feels a little out of place, but the simplistic drum beat in the background reminds the listener that they're still listening to the same song. ‘Ashes’ is the polar opposite to the previous track as it starts off with a bass heavy beat and synthesisers in the verses, but listeners would be mistaken that the chorus is from a completely different song as it's guitar heavy with Shaheena Dax's vocals being emphasised by the melody.
The final song, ‘Time’, appropriately starts off with the sound of a clock ticking, that continues as the instruments and vocals are introduced. The vocals are very soft, and almost sound like they're being whispered right up against the microphone. The song isn't too long, with a run time at just over 3 minutes. Unfortunately, the lyrics are a bit repetitive as it's an instrument heavy song, which is a shame. Overall, ‘Drenched’ is an amazing EP that shows off both the electronic and rock sides of She Made Me Do It whilst also introducing listeners to a very interesting and diverse duo. KB
Nova - Polar ‘Mære’ is a 47 second introduction track that has eerie and calming synthesisers and an electric guitar. This then launches into ‘Devil’ which is the complete opposite of the opening as it has unclean vocals, thrashing guitars and drums, and big arena like singalong choruses. ‘Cradle’ starts off with a funky guitar riff, before launching into frantic instrumental. Unfortunately for this song, the drums are less prominent than what we’ve heard so far. ‘Drive’ opens with a guitar riff so similar to the Bring Me The Horizon song ‘The House Of Wolves’ that the listener could mistakenly think they were listening to the wrong band. Luckily, the riff soon becomes more distinct. The outro has some very powerful vocals as the production makes them sound slightly distorted like the song is being played through a radio. ‘Prey’ contains death metal vocals and thrashing guitars that - when played live - is certainly going to get the mosh pits started, whereas ‘Dusk’ is a slow interlude that’s only a minute and a half long, that has haunting vocals that serve as an introduction track to ‘Midnight’, which has “arena anthem” written all over it, the chorus and the bridge of the song are just waiting to be sung along to. In conclusion, ‘Nova’ is a strong album that has some production issues on certain songs, but the instruments and the interlude tracks redeem it. KB
Simple Creatures – Strange Love A side-project is a project started by one or more people from a band that is already known. Typically they are different from what they are known for. Hence why I for one enjoy them. I don’t want to hear someone make music that they are already making. It doesn’t make sense to me but that’s just me. Why do I mention this? Well, upon the release of their first single, Simple Creatures were not well received. A lot of people thought they should sound like a mash-up of Blink-182 and All Time Low. Nope, they do not, as this is a side-project and a very good one at that. If you are a fan of pop, then you will love this release. When I listen to this album, all I think is why aren’t these songs all over the radio. This is a “radio release” and it should be burning up the airwaves. It sounds like it would fit perfectly on a block with 5 Seconds of Summer, Post Malone, Jonas Brothers, and Panic! At The Disco. The first single, ‘Drug’ came to us as a surprise and I was instantly hooked. I like that it has that typically Mark Hoppus delivery. His voice is very recognisable. The chorus is very catchy, as a good pop song should be. It gets stuck in my head often. The music itself is also catchy. ‘Strange Love’ is one of my favorite songs on the release. I like the idea behind it. We get one life, so why not enjoy it. Go and experience things, have fun. ‘How to Live’ really should be the next single, if it already isn’t. I’m a fan of good closers and ‘Lucy’ is just that. It feels like the end of the night or the last song you would hear as you are pulling into your driveway after a night out on the town. It’s the perfect ending. Overall this a solid release. I’m not sure if they have plans to record another album but if not, this is a good standalone. It just needs to be given a chance. If minds are expanded I think this release will take off a little more than it has. RC
August Spies - Corruption of the Human Heart Justin Schlosberg, noted frontman of Hell Is For Heroes, has revealed his new side-project August Spies. The first EP is ‘Corruption of the Human Heart’. The sound of a drum machine starts things off on the opening track ‘This Is How It Ends’, from the moment you hear the first words you can feel the emotion of not only the lyrics but also in the voice singing them. The use of a range of different instruments - Piano, violin, guitar - work well with the lyrics and help them have a deeper impact. Justin Schlosberg uses his impressive vocal range to make a promise to his lost love “I’ll never let them take you, even when I’m dead or paralyzed.” The song makes for an intense, emotional and powerful opener. ‘Accidents Happen’ is next and after a slow build up, once again Schlosberg’s vocals are the standout aspect. You can feel the raw emotion he’s putting into every word he says as he bares his soul for the entire world to hear, in a performance that leaves you depressed one minute and happy the next. ‘You Killed My love’ is a haunting and dark listen, with its piano melody it feels like something you would hear at the end of a movie after a final heart-breaking scene. Schlosberg’s vocals add even more emotion to the already emotive lyrics, the song just keeps building to the breaking point as the piano softly fades away, I think some fans might shed a tear or two at the end of this one as it’s just incredibly powerful. ‘Corruption of the Human Heart’ sounds like a folk song, there are some nice female backing vocals in this track that work incredibly well with Schlosberg’s, together they propel the song towards its crescendo. The lyrics talk of being outside and looking around at the emptiness. It’s easy to feel alone even when surrounded by people, so this is something that will strike a chord with many. The rock riffs and hard drumming combine fantastically with the vocals to bring the song to an almighty finish before a feedback sound ends the penultimate track. The last song ‘Put Your Hands Together’ leaves you in a happier place than the rest of the EP might; it’s certainly the most upbeat song of the lot. The use of a choir was an inspired choice, it works surprisingly well with Schlosberg, and the recurring chants of the choir will leave you feeling on a high of sorts. ‘Corruption of the Human Heart’ showcases Justin Schlosberg at his most talented, not only with his vocals but also his songwriting and his rare ability to manipulate his listener’s emotions. August Spies has given us just a taste of what could be to come from this rising star; I can’t wait to see what he makes next. LS
May 26th, 2012, the Nightmare began. Originally founded in Odessa, Texas, by Aaron Steadmon, (Lyricist/Vocalist) David Natividad (Lead Guitar/Composition) and Alexander Cox (Percussion/Production) and later joined by the newest additions, Kody Guynn (Bass Guitar/Composition) and Robert Wester (Rhythm Guitar/Composition). Nightmare Canvas consists of heavy influences from blackened thrash metal, paired alongside a stage performance that will burn an everlasting image into your mind. Their debut selftitled album was self produced and released, April 20th, 2018. The sophomore album (â€™Abyssal Incantationâ€™) currently in production, is set to be released by the end of 2019.
The Great Flud are a 5 piece Alt Rock band from London, bringing back the sound of the 80s in to the modern day. Influenced by the likes of The Police and Fleetwood Mac, their music has something for every music lover, leaving you wanting more. The band consists of Marie Choquet (lead vocalist), Adam Mason (electric guitar), Aiden Scott (electric guitar), Stephen Field (bass guitar) and Louis Cowling (drums), all ranging between the ages of 19 to 24. The band met at their university BIMM London, where they still study till this day, currently finishing their second year. Just by looking at them you can tell they are influenced by the likes of The Smiths, The Police and The Cure, which adds to their unique sound. Forming back in late 2017, The Great Flud spent their time working on their craft, creating their unique sound which fuses 80s guitar tones, hard hitting dancing rhythms and catchy vocal melodies which will be stuck in your head for ages, making you go back and listen again. They’ve spent the last year gigging around the local London scene, having the opportunity to support Ecca Vandal and Deaf Havana at Under the bridge, and most recently Estrons at the famous Esquires in Bedford. Aswell as these shows, they have also played on the main stages at 02 Islington and 229 and many other stages all over London. The Great Flud were able to get themselves into BBC MaidaVale studios to record their debut single ‘Drive’. Releasing this back in November 2018 they have gone on to receive a great response from the single, racking up thousands of streams and releasing a music video for it on January 1st 2019. Since then they have partnered up with producer Arzh Productions, helping them release their second single ‘Don’t Ask Why’ which came out at the beginning of March this year. They continue to work with Arzh on their debut EP, which they are hoping to have out for the summer. The EP will consist of the 2 singles ‘Drive’ and ‘Don’t Ask Why’, plus three new tracks for everyone to hear. They can be found on all major streaming platforms such as Spotify, iTunes, Deezer, Apple Music, Amazon Music and Tidal. Some exciting festival news is coming soon for The Great Flud, which they can’t wait to share with you. To keep up to date and find out this news, go follow them on all social medias. You won’t want to miss it! It’s safe to say The Great Flud are using 2019 to make a name for themselves. The up and coming band are going from strength to strength and with them all being so young, who knows what the future could hold for them. They are ready to hit you big time. Watch this space!
Instagram: @thegreatflud Facebook: The Great Flud Twitter: @GreatFludBand
I Prevail – Trauma One of the coolest things I like about writing for blogs and magazines is it gives me the opportunity to listen to artists I never would have. The latest is the Michigan metalcore band I Prevail. From the moment I heard their Taylor Swift cover, I was not impressed. And I also don't listen to a lot of modern-day metalcore, it’s just not my cup of tea. This is something I've been wanting to work on but it just isn't happening. However with their newest album ‘Trauma’, I Prevail very could be the gateway band for me. As I mentioned above my only experience with I Prevail was their cover of ‘Blank Space’ in 2016. Hearing that was all I needed to hear. Up until a week ago I hadn’t since and that was a mistake on my part. This band is full talent and it’s all over this album. I’ve been meaning to go back and listen to their first release but haven’t yet. Maybe I will after I’m done writing this. Because I’m curious how that album compares to this one. And that alone is a sign of a good release to me. If it hits home for you and makes you want to go back and listen to their other work, then it is a winner. The thing that sticks out to me right away is the honesty on this album. From my understanding, lead vocalist, Brian Burkheiser damaged his vocal cords a few years back and that took a toll on him and at one point he wasn’t sure if he could continue with the band. The realness that you hear comes from that. Imagine having something you love been taken from you, that's what he was facing, so of course, he is going to deal with it, the way he knows how, write about it. The album begins with ‘Bow Down’ and it’s a great opener. If the band is new to you as they were to me, it should keep you interested, especially if you are a fan of heavier music. It’s a right in your face kind of track. And the clean singing just adds an extra aspect to it. Next up is ‘Paranoid’, this is the one that really caught my attention the first time I listened to the album. After hearing this song, I wanted to hear more. I was on my way home from a show and I had to stop in my tracks. It's one of those songs that you may think was written for you, I know that's how I felt after hearing it. ‘Every Time You Leave’ is another superb moment. The aspect that really sticks out is the guest vocals from Delaney Jane, they mash so well with Brian Burkheiser. I always enjoy when musicians do guest vocals on songs outside of their genre. ‘Gasoline’ is by far my favourite on the album. It sounds like ‘Hybrid Theory’ but heavier. This is what rap-metal could be. You can feel the anger in both of their voices. If you are a fan of modern-day metalcore, then this is for you. If you have been wanting to get into metalcore, then this is a good album to start with. There is no doubt in my mind that these lads are about to take over the world. RC
Beezewax - Peace Jazz ‘Everything Happened’ brings back all memories of summertime nostalgia, and hits you with small pangs of earthly vocals and riffing. I quite liked this track as the opening, but the transition into ‘Rainbows’ as the second track was a little jarring. ‘Rainbows’ utilizes a more upbeat, funk-like beat. Despite my surprise at the change, I grew to like the track for what it was. On ‘Closer’, these guys brought in two other guest features (Jon Auer, and Sophia Pettit) which I think worked to their benefit for the sake of some variety in vocal style. My main complaint with this album is that the vocals really only have one side to them, and I think a bit more variety in that regard would add a whole other dimension. Some grit, some punch, some softness, and some aromatic layering in there would take this album from good to great. ‘Peace Jazz’ I was particularly curious for it both for the fact that it was the title track (so I had high hopes) and also because it was over six minutes long. Anytime any song is over the length of five minutes, there is a small part of me that wonders, “This is either going to be a long few minutes, or this is going to change my life.” Sadly, this track was neither. Although I am happy that I did not feel like those six minutes were the longest minutes of my life (trust me, it’s happened!) I also did not feel as if I was particularly charmed or enamored by it. I think that this album, while it shows a lot of promise and a good, deep, foundation, needs a few more layering touches to add some more dimension. LD
Dampé - Hour of the Wolf Nashville, TN based rock duo Dampe made up of Matt Everett and Tyler Simmons have released their first EP ‘Hour of the Wolf’. The band formed in 2017 and love to mix a range of different genres into their music including post hardcore R&B and 80s pop. Opening track ‘Helping Hand’ has a relaxed guitar sound to its start and some nice sounding vocals to match. The combined vocals of Matt Everett and Tyler Simmons work well together to get the emotion of the song across while keeping the song moving along at a nice pace, a solid opener that will keep the interest of the listener. Lead single ‘Pick Your Poison’ shows the band trying to mix together a few different genres. In terms of the music the song flows effortlessly along with all the instruments working as one to deliver a track that you will be listening to again and again. When it comes to the vocals they do very well, particularly on the chorus. The dual vocals really work as they let the listener hear the raw emotional feelings that are contained within. The guys here know their vocal range and use it to get effectiveness. You can see why they chose this track as the lead single, as it’s a well put together song that will get a lot of attention with the right crowds. ‘Jailbreak’ feels like a pop punk song with a post-hardcore guitar riff at its core. It would fit perfectly in the early to mid part of the 2000s and it ticks all the right boxes, it’s short, sharp and to the point. It has very catchy guitar sounds that are showcased throughout and again those rhythmic style vocals drive the song home. ‘Words (That Don’t Mean a Thing)’ Once again has a more relaxed feel to it as the band sings about a lost relationship. The emotional vocals hit home. An Interesting thing to note about this song is that it was originally going to be done as an acoustic which I think would have made the emotional vocals sound even better. It’s another good track from the band that showcases how diverse they can be. ‘Hour of the Wolf’ is last up and it is also the longest track on the EP. The song itself is another emotion-driven rock listen that again makes good use of mixing genres together. It’s solid throughout with all the different elements again working together to end the EP on a high note. This first offering from Dampe is a very interesting listen. The use of mixed genres and the outstanding duel vocals of both Matt Everett and Tyler Simmons really give the listener a taste of what this band has to offer going forward. It will be interesting to hear what their first full length album will be like. LS
Horse Jumper Of Love - So Divine Hailing from Boston, the wonderfully named Horse Jumper Of Love have returned with their second album, ‘So Divine’. Coming almost three years after their debut, self-titled album, Horse Jumper Of Love offer a sound that sits somewhere between post-rock, shoegaze and lo-fi indie. They've been described as "slow rock", a label that seems to fit quite well at times and does them a bit of a disservice at others. ‘So Divine’, despite its rather short running time (sub 30 minutes), offers plenty of variety in its approach. Often, this is a good thing, but in the case of ‘So Divine’, in places it feels forced. The sudden stylistic changes that occur midsong in the likes of ‘Volcano’ seem like deliberate decisions have been taken, that particular songs need to suddenly "musically veer off course", whether it suits the song or not. The shorter songs like ‘Cops’, ‘Aliens’ and ‘Twist Cone’ offer little. With that said, the album isn't without enjoyable moments. The opening ‘Airport’ is a very effective post-rock / fuzz-rock song. ‘Ur Real Life’ has tinges of Red Sparowes and ASIWYFA about it with the guitar tones, while ‘John Song’ is a peaceful, melancholic taster of lo-fi indie with natural progression that fits the band well. Sadly the album ends on a bit of a non-event with ‘Heaven’, which tries to be a noise-rock / ambient closing track to the album but just ends up sounding like a random collection of samples with a few bars of bass thrown in towards the end. Overall, it's very much a mixed bag from Horse Jumper Of Love on their sophomore album, but there's enough positive signs to make us hope for real progression if there is an album three. JG
Pile - Green And Gray (Exploding In Sound) Like at least one other band reviewed in this issue of Stencil, Pile are a notable export from the Boston music scene. Their brand of indie-rock meets mathrock has seen them sustain across almost two decades, and their newest album ‘Green and Gray’ is their seventh. At its calmest, ‘Green and Gray’ strays into lofi indie, almost shoegaze territory. At its fiercest, there are blasts of full blooded aggression approaching the levels of the legendary Dillinger Escape Plan. Sitting in-between the two extremes are tracks and sections that wouldn't be too far amiss on albums from the likes of Citizen or even Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds. The skill with an album like this is managing the transitions between the various styles. Given the album's thirteen tracks, each approach is given enough time to breathe, and as a result it feels like a cohesive album, rather than a disparate collection of songs. Where are the standouts? Opener ‘Firewood’ has its stance firmly planted in the indie rock world, though the extended guitar solo and accompanying undertones towards the end hint at what other styles are to come. This comes fully to the fore for the first time with ‘On A Bigger Screen's’ gallopy main riff and fractured, frenetic time signatures which underpin Rick Maguire's vocals as they hit the full extreme end of his range.
Moving through the album, ‘Hair’ is an example of Pile doing lofi indie (and doing it well). ‘A Labyrinth With No Center’ and ‘The Soft Hands Of Stephen Miller’ (especially the latter) take the album firmly back into mathrock territory, leaving a lasting impression with their forceful delivery. ‘A Bug On Its Back’ dials things down a touch, but with enjoyable, intrincate guitar work at the heart of it, weaving its way in and out of the mix to great effect. The end of the album is fantastic. ‘My Employer’ is blissfully peaceful, a total juxtaposition to some of the albums' earlier offerings. ‘Hiding Places’ is a seven minute plus epic that takes the listener fully through Pile's lofi and indie styles, and the closing ‘No Hands’ is another gentle but soaring number, the forceful anger of some of the middle tracks of the album feeling something of a distant memory by this point. Overall, if you are a listener who can handle the changes in style across the album, there is a huge amount to enjoy here. Pile have done themselves proud with ‘Green and Gray’ and it is very much worthy of multiple listens. JG
Keuning - The Fleece - Bristol - 01/04/19 Known for his exceptional work as a guitarist in The Killers, Dave Keuning has now decided to pursue his solo career with his debut album â€˜Prismismâ€™, after taking a break from the band. Supported by a group of clearly talented musicians, Dave has spent time putting together the best representation of his work so far. He takes to the stage and launches straight into 'I Ruined You' which instantly gets the attention of the crowd in attendance with its indie groove. Sure, he is playing at the Thekla, which is a bit smaller than the fields of Glastonbury, and usual endless sea of people that he would be used to seeing on a daily basis, but this hasn't made any difference to how he performs tonight, and that's one of the most important things about music. The set continues with 'Broken Clocks' which displays the incredible diversity that runs throughout the record in an exhilarating way. It works well in a live format, and will surely stay in his set as his career continues. 'Prismism' is a synthesizer drenched anthem, that is just so atmospheric to hear, and it once again keeps the crowd glued to Dave's performance. Talking of performance, it's important to note that Dave isn't usually the lead singer of a band, and if you take a read of our interview with him in this issue, you'll see that he was thinking of finding different singers to take the helm of this project, as he was slightly nervous about doing it himself. However, he decided that it was easier for him to write at home. At this point in his tour, it's clear to see that he has really got his teeth stuck into being a singer, as his vocal deliverance is fantastic, and he also does his best to interact with the crowd throughout the set.
For those expecting The Killers songs, you will have to settle for his covers of 'Enjoy The Silence' and 'Loving Is Easy', which do a nice job at showing just some of his personal influences as a musician. It's plain to see that he wants this to be a set that shows his own new venture first and foremost, without relying on the success of his past work to do that. As he ends on 'Restless Legs' I can sum up by saying that this was an incredible and diverse performance from Keuning, that shows HUGE potential. AD
Chris Shiflett - The Fleece - Bristol - 02/04/19 Well it's not often that we have two reviews where both of the musicians come from HUGE rock bands, but the stars have aligned and I'm here to tell you about the performance of Chris Shiflett (Foo Fighters), who has arrived at the Fleece to bring his infectious cocktail of country rock bangers. Yes, you read that right! So if you attend a Chris Shiflett show thinking that you're going to hear acoustic versions of Foo Fighters songs, then you are greatly mistaken, this is a solo project, and a really fine one at that. In a similar way to the Keuning review above, Chris has surrounded himself with some of the most insane musicians, as from the moment the first song kicks in, they stay completely on point throughout the entire set. As his upcoming album 'Hard Lessons' isn't out just yet, Chris decides to kick off with a handful of tracks from 'West Coast Town', with 'Sticks & Stones' being a personal highlight. As the set progresses he decides to introduce a heavy amount of new songs from his upcoming album for the audience to hear, from 'Liar's Word' & 'The Hardest Lessons' he gives country drenched anthem after country drenched anthem, and he really does an absolutely incredible job at doing it. For me, one of the best songs of the night is 'Welcome To Your First Heartache', the new album isn't even out yet, and already you can tell that people from the front to back have latched on to the song. The lyrics stick with you, and I am certain that it will go on to become one of his most well loved songs from this fantastic project. This really was a brilliant night, as it displayed a different side of Chris's work as a guitarist and singer in an incredible way, and even if Foo Fighters for some reason never happened, he could easily make a highly rewarding journey for himself as a musician based on sheer commitment and just natural talent. If Chris is bringing this music to your town, then don't miss out, as I promise you that you won't be let down. I'm ready and waiting to pick up the vinyl on the day of the release, fantastic. AD
7 MAZES – ALTERNATIVE ROCK FROM GERMANY/BURGHAUSEN 7 Mazes was founded in March 2016 by Max Roxton. Alongside Daniel Gravel he put an album together which was already recorded in August 2016, single-handedly, at the Suiseidl Studio in Rosenheim. 'Stronger in the End' came into being, to process a severe stroke of fate – the sudden passing of Max's father a year before. Max played all guitars, the bass and the vocals, while Daniel did the drums. When the recording came to an end Max and Bo Jahson met, just by the time the search for a bassist should start. Their shared interest in music revealed itself very quickly and fortunately after a 20 year long break – Bo had just picked up the bass again currently. “I want to be in this band!” About a month later, Daniel Davis asked the band for an audition. With his lifeblood and passion on the guitar he convinced Max, Daniel and Bo and in November 2016, he made his way into the band with the words “Guys, I dont care what you say, I want to be in this band!.” After Daniel Gravel left the Band in August 2018, the guys started to look for a fitting replacement. Max met the present drummer rather unexpected at a concert in December 2018. Val Pine played the drums for an 80s-Coverband and thrilled him with his performance. After the gig Max gained access to the backstage area and asked him if he would be interested in a professional band. Since January 2019 7 Mazes are complete again. Rich diversity, that doesn't fit any scheme and which pigeonhole should we open up for 7 Mazes? “Preferably none!”, the band agrees. As life in its variety doesn't fit any scheme, it's hard to find a matching one for the multifaceted guys from Germany/Burghausen. “Life is like a genre-bending movie that seeks its soundtrack and with it, highlights the emotional rollercoaster most suitable”, says Max Roxton. One highlight follows the next. After a sold-out record release show for the first album, simultaneously the first gig of the band, further highlights followed, which they keep in best memories to this day. Assisted by radio-interviews in Germany (i.a. Radio 94.5 Munich) as well as US radio stations such as Rock Rage Radio (California) and Boston Rock Radio (Boston/Massachusetts), the awareness level of 7 Mazes could be increased. The two-week US-Tour “Wintour is coming”, alongside the band One Time Mountain, was a milestone for everybody involved. “With these experiences in the bag, it feels even more like a profession! As a band and as companions, that really forged us together”, Max Roxton the vocalist emphasises and looks forward to many more highlights to come. The next big thing of the four-piece-band is the second album 'Revelations', which was released on May 24th 2019
Fever 333 This is a band that I am no stranger to. Their EP ‘Made An America’ was my album of the year in 2018 and their 2019 release, ‘Strength in Numb333rs’ very well may take the honour as well this year. Fever 333 is a supergroup of sorts, it’s 3 members from bands such as The Chariot, Night Verses, and Letlive. All three bands that were/are awesome in their own way. Their energy and realness make them a force to be reckoned with. Since their inception, Fever 333 have done nothing but be a band that people talk about. Be it their raw, honest lyrics or their live show, they have proved they are a band to know. There is no other band that I can think of that matches their intensity live. Between Jason Butler’s antics and Stevis Harrison’s crazy guitar moves and the throw in the best drummer, Aric Improta, in all of music at the moment, then you know you have something special. But it’s just not their live show, it’s the words of Jason Butler. We are living in a dark world and we need some light, Jason provides that for those that want to listen. RC
Underoath The guys that make up this metalcore unit need no introduction. When they said goodbye a few years back, I remember so many people were devastated, rightfully so, as they were the leaders of a movement. This is a band that have inspired so many newer bands. So when they announced they had reunited, in some circles it felt as if everything was right in the world again. That’s how much they mean to people. I have a love/hate relationship with Underoath, mostly love, however. As they were one of the bands responsible for me getting into heavier music. And I will always own up to that. Since their return, they have released a new album and gone on countless tours. In that time I have seen them a few times and on stage, it's like they never left us. So if there was a band I would tell you not to miss, it's Underoath. You will not be disappointed in the least bit. RC
Stone Temple Pilots This is a name that should be known to all of you. This 90s rock act is still around and making records, even after the death of beloved frontman Scott Weiland. While a lot of people were not okay with that decision, it has proved to be a good one for the band as their fan base has continued to grow. As one that was a huge Scott Weiland fan, do not sleep on them because he is no longer with us. Jeff Gutt who is known for his time on the television show XFactor and as the vocalist for nu-metal band Dry Cell is a fine replacement and he holds his own. I recently watched their performance from a festival and he kills it. He isn’t trying to be Scott Weiland, he has made this his own. RC
Halestorm This band deliver a fiery and powerful set every time and with the powerhouse and talented vocalist Lzzy Hale stunning the crowds with her vocal range, they are not to be missed. Their latest album ‘Vicious’ adds to their collection of instant hard rock anthems so they are bound to perform some of their top hits from this such as ‘Uncomfortable’ and the title track as well as chucking in many of their other biggest songs. Overall, whatever they decide to play they will do it in style and the crowds will be singing along to their anthemic hard rock! CL
Opeth Swedish progressive titans Opeth deliver a stunning yet deadly sound which needs to be seen to be believed. It is always brilliant to see vocalist Mikael Åkerfeldt shift from soothing beautiful clean vocals to ferocious ones. Their sets can offer some nice chilled and calm vibes and some full blown heavy as hell moments, making for an unforgettable and well-rounded set. They have recently revealed that their new thirteenth album named ‘In Cauda Venenum’ will be released later this year, so surely this means festival goers will be treated to some upcoming new offerings. CL
Dream Theater Progressive metal masters Dream Theater will surely stun the festival crowds with their extremely technical and skilful music, it’s very satisfying and impressive to watch the band perform live and play in harmony along to impossibly complicated songs. Their latest album ‘Distance Over Time’ is just as technically brilliant as you would expect, so you don’t want to miss them playing the likes of ‘Untethered Angel’ and ‘Fall Into The Light’, hopefully amongst some of their well-known earlier hits. You seriously need to witness this band live if you haven’t, they are one of the best! CL
Whitesnake How can we have Whitesnake on the cover of the latest issue, and not mention them in the Download Festival preview? We can't, because that would be rude. Taking to the main stage on the Friday the band will be looking back over one hell of a career as they re-visit their MANY hits. 'Gonna Be Alright', 'Slow an Easy', 'Give Me All Your Love' could make an appearance to melt your mind, alongside newer tracks from 'Flesh & Blood' such as 'Shut Up & Kiss Me', 'Trouble Is Your Middle Name' which on record, already sound absolutely huge. Sure, there's one pretty big song that we're missing here, and that's of course called 'Here I Go Again', and if you're in attendance for this song, then you are obviously in for a treat. It's a classic, and most “Downloaders” will already know it. So with their new album 'Flesh & Blood' alongside an incredible back catologue of tracks to support them, then overall, you are in for an awesome show. AD
Skindred We have said it before, and we'll say it again, when will Skindred be headlining Download? This band have all of the songs to get the crowd going absolutely mental, and they have a frontman that knows how to get that result through every second of a performance under the name of Benji Webbe. Sure, they aren't headlining just yet, but with their slot now being 4th to that, it's clear to see that they are well on their way there. Taking to the main stage on the Saturday you can expect complete and utter carnage. From 'Pressure', 'Ninja', 'Stand for Something', 'Warning', 'Kill The Power', 'Machine', all of their songs feel like they have been crafted for the festival setting. This is one of the highest slots the band have ever taken at Download Festival, so if you're a fan of the band, or are looking to see something new that will blow your mind over the weekend, then this is the set for you. It's going to be special. AD
Cane Hill One of Nu-metals greatest acts from Louisiana have been making some waves since they first made their debut album back in 2016. A blend of genres such as post hardcore, nu-metal, hiphop, and indie rock, they have a tendency to make any kind of record as long as you can feel the raw emotions coursing through the veins of each song they have made to this day. This hasn’t changed even with their new EP ‘Kill the Sun’. It’s an EP that is tremendously moving as it is full of vibrancy and atmosphere instrumentally. Just when you thought ‘Too Far Gone’ would be the ultimate creation from this treasure of a band, ‘Kill the Sun’ has proven that if they can continue to create similar subdued flavours like they have created on this EP, then this will be the band to look out for at Download. SA
The Interrupters This powerfully melodic and punk infused band have caused quite the shakeup since their self titled debut in 2014. With a mix of ska and punk that seem to intermingle into their sound in each piece of music they touch, their new album ‘Fight The Good Fight’ has caused another sudden surge of momentum and it really doesn’t seem to look like their approach is stopping any time soon. The band has such a vibrant presence on and off album, and it’s a hard to miss listening experience on both fronts. From their unique talent when it comes to creating catchy anthem-like lyrics to their ability to create bouncy yet aggressive instrumental vibes from start to finish. It’s no surprise that this band is growing in popularity like wild fire. They deserve to be at Download, and here’s hoping they continue to make an impact in music within the years to come. SA
Three Days Grace Three Days Grace have been in the rock game for many years, constantly proving that since they were old enough to play guitars they would lead the charge in the realm of alternative rock. Since the band formed in 1997 they have continued to pave the way with both their albums and live shows, inspiring the punk acts that we see today. They are going to be one of the best acts at Download. Since they became immensely popular in 2003, they have consistently changed the rock game into a genre that could be more open and raw with their emotions. Though they have changed significantly over the years, Three Days Grace has managed to contend with the best of them. SA
Trivium For those who have religiously attended Download Festival over the last decade or so reading this, then you'll already know just how important Trivium are to this event. The band pretty much started their UK fan base here on the main stage, and have returned every now and then to remind everyone just how crucial they are to the heavy/thrash metal world. Where do you even start when it comes to describing stand out moments for the band? From 'Pull Harder On The Strings', 'Built To Fall', 'Until The World Goes Cold', 'Down from the Sky' they have a long list of anthems that will spark mosh pit movement throughout the Download Festival audience. They have a really diverse set of albums, and with that then you can of course expect a very exciting live show. They are third from headline on the main stage on the Saturday, and it's going to be completely mad. Get involved. AD
Enter Shikari Community. It's a word with a lot of impact and meaning behind it. When people think of community, they associate it with an unbreakable bond. Enter Shikari shows are all about that. With five albums released within a decade, Enter Shikari have loads of material covering every genre to make an impactful show. Download will be the first of many festival shows after the four piece band from Hertfordshire finish up their four month long tour across the U.K., Europe and Russia. They are not only known for their energetic live shows, but for the connection they have with fans, and the sense of comfort and community they invoke during the set. Fans have been known to follow Enter Shikari across the country in order to soak up the warm and welcoming atmosphere that comes with their shows, and even newcomers have turned into fans by the end of the night. So if you're looking for a great time and a space to be yourself, head over to the Avalanche stage on Sunday 16th June, to witness Enter Shikari and their community for yourself. KB
Beartooth Despite only being formed in 2012 and having three albums under their belt, Beartooth have brought back the old school hardcore punk and metal core that is craved in a world dominated by overproduced music. With recent album ‘Disease’ packing a powerful punch both lyrically and instrumentally, Beartooth are promoting a release that pushes their unique sound and production style whilst still sticking to their hardcore roots. It’s no wonder why their fans can't wait to see them return for the first of many festival shows in the U.K. and Europe, especially as their last U.K. festival was almost a year ago! If you find yourself wishing for old school metal, head over to the Zippo Encore Stage on Sunday 16th June, and mosh till your heart's content. KB
Slipknot With new album, ‘We Are Not Your Kind’ being released in August, and recent singles ‘All Out Life’ and ‘Unsainted’ getting a lot of praise, not to mention 20 years worth of material under their belt, Slipknot are more than worthy of headlining Download once more. The band from Iowa are known for their chaotic live shows that spawn mosh pits from every corner of the room, the intriguing masks they wear to signify a new era and their longevity in the industry. ‘We Are Not Your Kind’ will be the first album Slipknot has released since 2014's '5: The Gray Chapter', and they're setting off this album cycle by headlining Download. So on Saturday 15th June, head on over to the Main Stage for the most memorable show of your life. KB
I Prevail After their blow up from their cover of ‘Blank Space’ originally by Taylor Swift, these guys were quick to gain rise and popularity amongst the metal core community. Despite only being a band for six years, they have a huge following and it all started in Southfield, Michigan, USA. Currently signed to Fearless Records, the five piece are at Download to promote their newest release ‘Trauma’. Consisting of members Brian Burkheiser, Eric Vanlerberghe, Steve Menoian, Dylan Bowman, Gabe Helguera, these guys have gained popularity for some of their loud, fast, and quick-to-throw-elbows-type anthems. These guys currently have three releases out to the public, but are sure to put up a good rage on stage at Download this year with oldies but goodies like ‘Come and Get It’, ‘Deceivers’, and ‘RISE’. Or new thrashers like ‘Gasoline’, and ‘Bow Down’. Be sure to check out their set in order to get your pit on! LD
Slash Some attend festivals in the hopes of getting into absolutely crazy mosh pits, coming out covered in mud and rips on their t-shirts, others go with the hopes of sitting back a little bit with a camping chair, a cold can, and hopefully some sunshine (it's the UK, we NEVER know what the weather is going to be like). So for those of you that like to chill out a bit at the back, soaking up that Download atmosphere, then surely Slash featuring Myles Kennedy and The Conspirators is the perfect solution. There will be an incredible display of talent on display, from the far reaching vocals of Myles Kennedy to the delicious guitar performance of Slash, this will be a proper "Download Festival Moment", that you will NOT forget. The band will be bringing their new album 'Living The Dream' to download, alongside (potentially, we never 100% know what a band is going to play!) older hits like 'World On Fire' and 'Starlight'. An absolute must watch. AD
Rob Zombie This is a guy that has been at it since the mid-80s and he is showing no signs of slowing down. He is one of the best performers in all of music. His show is pure entertainment. If you are not entertained by the time you leave a Rob Zombie show, then you must not be human. He is a showman and it comes across in every aspect of his performance. If you had asked me my feelings on Rob Zombie a few years ago, my opinion would have been different. I would have said he has a few good songs and he makes awesome movies. He was one of those musicians that I only knew the songs I heard on the radio or saw the videos on MTV back in the day. But all that changed when I saw him at Riot Fest 2016. I was blown away. And also a man his age should not move the way he does. He is all over the stage. So if you want to be entertained, then this is a must-see set. RC
Ripping up the coastlines of New Jersey since 2016, This Year’s Comeback has slowly, but surely, grown to become quite an unexpected, but formidable force in the ever-omnipresent and legendary punk scene of New York’s ugly brother. Ryan, Nick, and Brian first got together late 2014, but it wasn’t until September of ‘16 that they released their first EP as a measly pop punk trio. Some time later, the boys picked up Ken, and Justin, and the power quintet was armed and ready! They released their first album, ‘Far From Fine, A Garden State Tragedy’ on July 13, 2018 and not too long after, released a follow-up album, titled ‘Missing Pages’ March 31, 2019.
Both ‘Far From Fine’ and ‘Missing Pages’ are part of a loose narrative titled ‘A Garden State Tragedy’. GST follows a protagonist along a journey of self-doubt and misery, a disillusioned future, and the haunt of regrets. Touching on topics like selfdestructive habits, reciprocal manipulation and toxic relationships, GST isn’t all doom and gloom. As in the end, the protagonist finds solace in accepting that what is done is done, and that whatever the future may hold, is entirely up to them. Make sure to keep an open eye out as they’re already working towards new projects with far heavier sounds! As for their current works, make sure to give them a listen on any streaming service of choice! Also, you can find them most active online on their Instagram @thisyearscomeback
The Athens 4 piece band, Breath After Coma carry influences, which vary from the garage revival of the 00’s to modern rock and roll, with characteristic riffs and mind boggling energy. The band got together for the first time in a small room in 2013 and introduced themselves with a self-titled EP in 2015. Their first album ‘Leaders’ (2017) led them to numerous appearances all over Greece. Among these loud and high energy shows, sharing the stage with the infamous Nightstalker in a packed Athens venue (Gagarin205 / March 2018) stands out as a night, which contributed in introducing them to a wider audience. The follow up was a packed by mosh heads, headline gig in An Club (Athens), as well as multiple placements in the Greek summer festivals (summer 2018). The band just completed recording their second album (to be titled ‘Woke up in Babel’), which was released this April 5th, by Ikaros Records, with which they engrave, musically and lyrically, their own distinctive sound and character. Check out our new album, released in LP format by Ikaros Records. It is also available on all major online music platforms. You can listen and order right here: https://breathaftercomaband.bandcamp.com
Features interviews from the following: Whitesnake, Black Stone Cherry, Blackberry Smoke, Motionless In White, The Skints, Me First and the...
Published on May 30, 2019
Features interviews from the following: Whitesnake, Black Stone Cherry, Blackberry Smoke, Motionless In White, The Skints, Me First and the...