OF LEGIONS (from l-r): Nathan McCue (drums), Sam Morrey (guitar), Luke Mansfield (vocals), Ollie Lewis (bass)
INTERVIEW by ZAK SLOMAN
Influenced by the likes of Slipknot, Parkway Drive, and Black Flag, Stoke-on-Trent hardcore outfit Of Legions pride themselves on crafting a sound that is raw and passionate, taking in elements of punk, rock and metal.
In the last two years, the band have established themselves on their home city’s music scene, impressing with energetic and powerful live performances.
With the quartet’s debut album, ‘Face Value’, coming out in February, which promises to be their most diverse and aggressive work to date, I caught up with them just before their weekly practice, and this is what they had to say:
How did the band form?
LUKE MANSFIELD (vocals): Me and Sam basically formed the band at high school. We knew a guitarist and a bassist, and eventually, we found a drummer who was interested in joining us. That was in our last year at high school, and we went from there.
SAM MORREY (guitar): It’s been a fair few years, hasn’t it?
LUKE: About five years, something like that.
From where did the name Of Legions originate?
LUKE: No-one in the band came up with it. We were talking with our mates about band names and stuff, and one of them said, “What about Of Legions?”
We thought that sounded like a cool band name.
SAM: We didn’t realise until later that it was a title of a song by Whitechapel.
LUKE: It wasn’t even a song, it was an intro, interval-type thing, but the name stuck.
What would you say was your approach to songwriting?
NATHAN McCUE (drums): Well, me and Sam do all of the instrumentals first, the drums, the guitar, we get a rough idea of what we want to do, then Luke hops on, and he starts doing whatever he can do to it.
LUKE: I’m not as musically gifted as the other three! (Nathan and Sam laugh) Sam usually comes into practice, and will say, “I’ve got these ideas“, then, Nathan will add his drums, Ollie will add his bass to it, and his ideas, he’ll then turn round to us and go, “Make it harder!“, and then, it either happens or it doesn’t.
Either way, it ends up being a good song.
What inspires the band lyrically?
LUKE: Mainly things that have happened to me in my life, what I think about other things and stuff, some of them are politically inclined, some of them deal with past relationships. A lot of the more recent songs have been about me having a good time with my mates, but also standing up for one another.
You recently released a track, ‘Suicidal Thoughts’. How well do you think the reaction has been to it so far?
LUKE: We’ve been pretty happy with the reaction so far.
SAM: Within a few days of us bringing it out, the video had had lots of views, and we got quite a lot of press coverage for it, as well.
LUKE: I kept an eye on it, but Sam, obviously, kept more of an eye on it. I first knew of the success the single had had, when Sam popped up on Facebook, and said, “The video’s had over a thousand views.”
At that point, I was like, “Oh, right“, whereas previously, it had taken us months to get that many views.
SAM: This time, there’s definitely been a better reaction, and a quicker one, at that.
The single was taken from your debut album, ‘Face Value’, which will be coming out in February. How has the recording process been up to now?
LUKE: Interesting. (Nathan and Sam laugh) Obviously, the more musically gifted members of the band have got it all nailed down.
NATHAN: I did my drum parts in a day, Sam did his guitar parts, also in a day, but Luke got tonsillitis halfway through recording the vocals.
LUKE: I did, like, three songs, then my throat started getting bad, and got worse.
NATHAN: You had to take a break, didn’t you?
LUKE: Yeah, I couldn’t record for about two, three weeks, but even when I came back and did the vocals, I had to rest my throat for another two, three weeks. When my tonsillitis had gone, I listened back, and went, “We’ve got to re-record this“, because the vocals just sounded terrible, and I felt I had rushed it along.
It was worth re-recording, though, because the sound we have now, we’re really happy with it. Credit to Tom of Riff Factory, where we recorded the album, for making things easier for us. He’s an incredible producer, he really does know his shit.
SAM: It was just such a relaxed atmosphere, just what we wanted.
The band has supported the likes of Desolated, Martyr Defiled, and Continents. How is the experience, for you all, of playing live?
LUKE: I love it. The reason I wanted to be in a band in the first place was to play live. Even if there’s only five people in the crowd, as long as they’re having a good time, drinking with their mates, it doesn’t really bother me.
Obviously, the more people that are there, the better the show, because we like to keep our sets as energetic as possible.
What other plans do you have going into 2018?
LUKE: We want to tour the UK, at least, we really want to get some contacts in mainland Europe, really try to push ourselves further out there, in terms of touring.
NATHAN: That way, we’ll be able to promote the album a bit more. Just get out of our local area.
SAM: This year has been more of a “behind the scenes” year. When the album comes out, we’re just going to go for it, play live as much as we can.
LUKE: Just get any show that we can, really, so we can build up a network, really push ourselves.
What is the band’s long-term aim?
LUKE: I don’t know, really. Just tour as much as we can, and see where that gets us. Obviously, we’d love to play some big festivals.
NATHAN: I think every band wants to do that.
SAM: We would love to play with some bigger bands, which would be fun for us.
NATHAN: It would be a different experience, what with lots more people watching us. The atmosphere would be totally different. One of my ambitions, personally, would be for us to eventually get signed to a label, and see where that will take us.
LUKE: My personal aim, well, one of them, would be to tour Europe. I’ve been told there’s a great atmosphere, everyone’s really friendly. To be honest, I just want to go travelling. To be able to do that with the band would be, for me, the best thing ever.
SAM: It’s nice to think where we are now, compared to when we started out. For us, it’s totally different now, so who knows what it’s going to be like then?
NATHAN: We have that reaction a lot, don’t we?
LUKE: Yeah, people who have missed a few of our gigs come back and will just come up to us randomly and say, “Wow! That was so different from the last time I saw you!”
That’s a good feeling, because then, you know that you’ve improved. We’ve definitely grown as a band.
‘FACE VALUE’, THE DEBUT ALBUM FROM OF LEGIONS, WILL BE RELEASED ON FEBRUARY 16.
FURTHER INFO ON THIS, AND THE BAND, CAN BE FOUND HERE.