ASLEEP AT THE HELM (from l-r): Adam Kenyon (guitar/vocals), Brandon Carson (guitar/vocals), Dylan Barrett (lead vocals), Alex Dawson (drums), Ryan Johnson (bass/vocals)
INTERVIEW by ZAK SLOMAN
PHOTO by LUKE ROBIN
Coming up to exactly one year since their formation, Asleep At The Helm truly made a mark on the metal scene of Manchester, their home city, in 2018, and things are very much looking up for them in 2019, having already received much positive feedback for debut album, ‘Dissonance’, which came out just before Christmas.
I recently chatted with the band’s lead vocalist, Dylan Barrett, and guitarist, Brandon Carson, to find out more about their experiences up to now, as well as what they have planned next.
How did the band initially get together?
DYLAN BARRETT (lead vocals): The band initially formed from me and Brandon trying to do a farewell thing with an old band, like a little EP, and then when the songs started to come together the way they did, we were surprised at how good some of the stuff was that we were writing, and then from there, Brandon got in touch with everyone else, and it just sort of fell into place.
How did the name Asleep At The Helm come about?
DYLAN: I’m sure the name came from Adam just firing out an endless list of band names, and we were pretty unsure about any of them, actually at one point, we were gonna go with the name Eyes Wide Shut, but then someone said Asleep At The Helm, and it just felt right!
What would you say was your approach to songwriting?
DYLAN: In terms of songwriting, I can’t really comment for anything other than lyrics, but I feel the general approach is just Brandon and Adam spitballing ideas, and the ones we all like, we work on bit-by-bit and try to develop to a point where we all eel confident we have something we can call a song.
What inspires the band lyrically?
DYLAN: A lot of the lyrics are drawn from experiences, I wouldn’t say specific past experiences, but more in the sense of how something may have happened in life, and it made us feel a certain way, and then the rest is just finding other words that don’t sound cliched or absolutely stupid!
Just before Christmas, you brought out your debut album, ‘Dissonance’. How was the recording process for that?
DYLAN: The recording process was for the best part really fun, but there were days, especially for me, recording when we would have a full day’s worth of recording behind us, but I still wasn’t feeling like I was getting the right sounds to do the songs justice, and those days felt like a proper test, but we did it, we grinned and bared it, and stuck at it.
BRANDON CARSON (guitar/vocals): We produced the album by ourselves mainly, we tracked all of Alex’s drums at my old college I now work at (Bury College), who we would like to thank, by the way!
Tracking drums can be the hardest part during the recording stage of an EP or an album, so they really helped us out in that aspect with the tracking.
We did all of the guitars at Adam’s house, we then did the bass at my house, and then, we went back to Adam’s to do all the vocals there. We then sent all of our tracks off to Oskar Sutton at Infinite Audio, who did an incredible job mixing and mastering the album, and he is someone we would also like to thank!
And how has the reaction been to the album so far?
DYLAN: The reaction so far has been much better than what we could have expected, we’re hardly overnight sensations, but some of the reach the album has got and the support we’ve in turn received from all over has been breathtaking, and again, we couldn’t be more grateful for the people who have listened and enjoyed because ultimately it’s them who give us success.
BRANDON: We’ve also had great feedback from people who are in established bands in the metalcore scene such as Our Hollow, Our Home and InVisions, which we’re very blown away by!
The band hail from Manchester, a city that is better known for its indie music rather than its metal bands/artists. How is the metalcore scene there currently, in your opinion?
DYLAN: Honestly, the metal scene in Manchester used to be a lot bigger, but it’s the general musical influence of the city that allows us to get as many gigs as possible, as Manchester will always be a place where you will always find somewhere to gig, and it’s been that way since I can remember, and me and Brandon have gigged in Manchester since we were 15/16.
How is the overall experience, for you all, of playing live?
DYLAN: Playing live with the band, for me, is bliss. There’s simply no other way of putting it, because I feel like I’m completely unstoppable when I’m on stage with them, whether we’re playing to a small room of people or even just a couple of our friends at a local show, every gig just has that energy, and it’s incomparable to most other feelings.
What are the band’s plans for the year ahead?
DYLAN: So the year ahead for us is just practice, gig, and push the album as hard as we can, as we want ‘Dissonance’ to speak volumes for the work we’ve put in, which subsequently means putting more work in, but I speak for all of us when I say we’re ready for that!
BRANDON: The plan for the Asleep At The Helm camp this year is to just get out there really, we’re gonna be going further out in to new cities like Sheffield, Blackpool, and a few other places, which we will be announcing about very soon.
We’re more than ready to really hammer this year and pull in a lot of new listeners, possible new fans, and hopefully start touring!
And finally, what is your long-term aim?
DYLAN: The long-term aim is to make the music we love, with the people we love, for as long as possible.
Obviously, everyone dreams of seeing their name in big lights and having thousands of fans screaming at them when they play, but honestly, I would still be content with playing the local Manchester shows with the boys.
‘DISSONANCE’, THE DEBUT ALBUM FROM ASLEEP AT THE HELM, IS AVAILABLE NOW.
FURTHER INFO ON THE BAND CAN BE FOUND THROUGH THE FOLLOWING SITES: