WSTR (from l-r): Danny Swift (guitar), Sammy Clifford (vocals), Alex Tobijanski (bass), Kieren Alder (guitar)
INTERVIEW by ZAK SLOMAN
Ever since its initial peak at the turn of the millennium, some have been theorising that pop punk is moribund.
However, the genre is still going strong and in the last few years, a new wave of bands, mainly based in the UK, have given it a new lease of life.
WSTR, from Liverpool, are one of the outfits at the forefront of this wave, with a highly successful EP, last year’s ‘SKRWD’ and numerous well-received festival sets under their belts.
With a rapidly growing following and an eagerly anticipated debut album coming out early next year, I caught up with them backstage before their headline gig in Hanley, which is part of their ‘The Inbetween Tour’.
How did the band get together initially?
SAMMY CLIFFORD (VOCALS): I moved to Liverpool, then our old drummer, he was friends with Swifty and Kieren, who went to uni up there and they jammed together before and stuff, messaged me, asking if I wanted to come and jam with their band.
He sent me a couple of old demos, which I put some vocals down on, and they liked them, so then we recorded ‘Graveyard Shift’ and shot a video for that, and it all went from there.
How did the name WSTR come about?
SAMMY: We wanted something that was punky, edgy and ‘fuck you’-ish.
We’re all just lads, aren’t we? What’s the word that people understand that aren’t us?
DANNY SWIFT (GUITAR): That aren’t us? What do you mean?
SAMMY: We’re gypos, aren’t we? Not really doing much.
DANNY: Yeah, just wasters. It sounds so cringy.
SAMMY: But it sounded like a good fit for us.
Which bands/artists influence you?
SAMMY: Too many to name.
They seem to be mostly older bands, I say old, like New Found Glory, Sum 41, Blink-182, so yeah, mainly the older stuff.
What is the inspiration for the band’s lyrics?
SAMMY: Just all stuff that happens to me, how I’m feeling, all different things, it depends on where I am at the time and what’s been going on.
It’s not just about me, it’s also the situation with our friends and stuff, life experiences and that.
Your new single ‘Footprints’ came out recently. How has the reaction been to it so far?
SAMMY: Yeah, it’s been really good, hasn’t it?
KIEREN ALDER (GUITAR): It’s been going down really well on this tour.
SAMMY: We were quite confident that it would be a step up from our EP, so we’re happy.
Your debut full-length album ‘Red, Green or Inbetween’ will be coming out early next year. What can we expect from it?
SAMMY: Basically us, but bigger and better.
That’s literally it, some more well thought out songs, that’s my opinion.
What about you guys?
DANNY: There’s more structure to it, definitely.
How has the recording process been?
DANNY: An absolute fucking nightmare!
SAMMY: It was going great, we did pre-production with our friend Seb, and we were booked in with another producer, which we were going to track with and they were going to mix it, but then, we didn’t, and got an offer from a respected producer, I’m not going to name any names, so we went with them, they gave us a good price, but didn’t like it, so we got another friend of ours, who’s also a respected name, to help us out.
They pushed us to the front of the queue and mixed it for us, but it wasn’t the sound we wanted, so we decided to go back to Seb.
All that messing around that we didn’t really need to do.
Stoke-on-Trent is just one of the places you’re going to on your nationwide tour. How is the experience of touring for the band?
DANNY: Rowdy, really rowdy.
KIEREN: It’s great, we’re able to go all around the country, meet loads of new people, make loads of new friends every day.
They’ve been really good to us, some of them have even put us up in their homes for the night.
DANNY: We all have a good laugh as well.
It must be exhausting for you at times though, mustn’t it?
SAMMY: Yeah, it can be tiring.
DANNY: We’ve had a few days off here and there on this tour.
It sounds weird, but I think we could have done without them and just carried on, because when you’re on tour and you get a day off, you get used to just lounging around.
It’s good technically, but it makes me feel more shit.
SAMMY: Yeah, one day you’re in tour mode, the next you’re not.
KIEREN: We all love touring anyway, even if it does involve a lot of waiting around.
Have there been any hairy moments on stage?
DANNY: Yeah, all the time, don’t we?
KIEREN: I seem to fall over a lot, I’ve hurt my ankle a few times.
DANNY: Yeah, I hurt my ankle really badly when we were on tour with Neck Deep.
SAMMY: This stuff happens, like someone getting hurt in the crowd and shit.
DANNY: It really stinks when something like that happens, dunnit?
SAMMY: It’s rare though, with any band, that a show will go 100% smoothly.
DANNY: I don’t think that happens ever.
What is the band’s long-term aim?
SAMMY: We’ve got no idea to be honest, we’ll just see how the album does and go from there, and I think we would all like to play in as many countries as possible.
We don’t really have a set target as such, we don’t go “We want to be at this point at this certain time.”
We just take everything as it comes.
WSTR’S DEBUT ALBUM, ‘RED, GREEN OR INBETWEEN’ WILL BE RELEASED ON 20TH JANUARY 2017 VIA NO SLEEP RECORDS.