ARKDOWN (from l-r): Mike Dyson (guitar), Mike Walker (guitar), Kyle Dawson (vocals), Alex Roberts (drums), Ed Morley (bass)
INTERVIEW by ZAK SLOMAN
Emerging Sheffield metal quintet Arkdown draw on influences including Bury Tomorrow, Miss May I, and Thy Art Is Murder, to create a dynamic sound that is their very own, with heavy guitar riffs and layered melodies at its core.
In the almost three years the band have been together, they have toured all over the UK, supporting the likes of Oceans Ate Alaska, Martyr Defiled, and Shields, and have brought out a debut EP, ‘Paths’, which was very well-received throughout the British underground metal scene, and led Gig Radar to tip them to be “a force to be reckoned with“.
This November, the South Yorkshire collective will be unveiling an eagerly-anticipated follow-up, ‘The Calling’, and they told me more about its recording process, as well as what to expect from the release, when we chatted recently.
How did the band form?
The band formed in late 2015. Ed and Mike Dyson had been in bands together growing up in their teens. Alex and Ed had known each other since nursery, and Ed drafted Alex into the fold to form what would eventually become Arkdown. Kyle and Mike Walker were both contacted through adverts when the band were looking for new members to join.
From where did the name Arkdown originate?
It’s something we came up with that ticked a lot of boxes for us, such as conveying the kind of image we wanted, being unlikely to be used anywhere else, and also wouldn’t help you in guessing what kind of music we played if you just saw our name written down on a line-up.
What would you say was your approach to songwriting?
As we mature as a band, as well as individual musicians, we appreciate other bands for different reasons, such as efforts put into live performances.
We feel a lot of modern metal bands, certainly at independent levels, often forget that it’s at the very least a 50/50 split between what the audience hears and what they see that makes up the quality of a show.
We take a lot of influence from bands and musicians who pay mind to that, and bring a unique live energy to the stage, so thinking about what we can do live with a song is something that is always at the forefront of our mind when writing.
What inspires the band lyrically?
Generally, our lyrics tend to be quite personal to Kyle. Our latest release, ‘The Calling’, is a nod to the French term “L’appel du vide“, which literally translates to “the call of the void“, and concerns our subconscious urge to throw ourselves into danger, which fits in with the lyrical theme around this record, which is about the lure of self-destructive tendencies.
Your self-released debut EP, ‘Paths’, was very well-received throughout the British underground metal scene. Was that something you all were rather taken aback by?
Yes, actually, because when you work on something like that and put it out into the public domain, you open yourself up to judgement and, of course, with something you created, worked very hard on, and are quite proud of, any feedback you receive is taken personally, so to be met with such positive feedback was very motivating for us, and we can only hope that we go through something similar with ‘The Calling’.
And speaking of ‘The Calling’, how has the recording process been for that?
On the whole, the process for ‘The Calling’ has not been too dissimilar to that of ‘Paths’, as we still wrote in a similar manner, and self-produced the record as before.
The difference this time, however, was the extent to which each part of the process had evolved. We wrote in a style that was still clearly Arkdown, but it was a more mature Arkdown sound, in that everything was blended together much better, and every aspect of it had been stepped up, in terms of being heavier and having more hooks.
Where the production is concerned, again, we stepped up in the quality of the recording and the post-production magic we can bring to the record. We tried things during production that we hadn’t done before, and nine times out of ten, they paid off, which was very motivating for us.
And how further will it differ to ‘Paths’?
‘The Calling’ is a far more rounded Arkdown record, as there is a consistent theme being brought to the table throughout, and the songs sit together much better.
With ‘Paths’, we recorded and put out all that we wrote, whereas this time around, we’ve not put out everything that was written, because, whilst they are great songs, they didn’t sit with what we’re trying to do on this record.
You’ve toured all over the UK, and have supported such outfits as Oceans Ate Alaska and Martyr Defiled. How is the experience, for the band, of playing live?
Playing live is where we’re at our strongest. We belong on the stage. Last year, we really honed our live show, and pushed ourselves to try new things that were also bigger and better things.
That has resulted in what is now a very strong live show, which means we can sit more comfortably on line-ups with the bigger bands you’ve just mentioned.
What are the band’s plans between now and when ‘The Calling’ comes out?
Leading up to release, we’ll be on the campaign trail to spread the word. We’ve got some great shows lined up with the likes of Loathe, Martyr Defiled (their final ever show), and I Set My Friends On Fire.
And finally, what is your long-term aim?
The long-term aims are just to work towards all of those milestones that the majority of bands aspire to. We have our sights set on major festivals, we also have plans to start taking our live shows across mainland Europe, and of course, we want to get better and bigger with each record that we put out, but overall, we want to enjoy ourselves doing all this.
‘THE CALLING’, THE SOPHOMORE EP FROM ARKDOWN, WILL BE RELEASED ON NOVEMBER 2.
FURTHER INFO ON THIS, AND THE BAND, CAN BE FOUND HERE.