ASLEEP AT THE HELM

asleep at the helm band photo

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.

asleep at the helm album cover

‘DISSONANCE’, THE DEBUT ALBUM FROM ASLEEP AT THE HELM, IS AVAILABLE NOW.

FURTHER INFO ON THE BAND CAN BE FOUND THROUGH THE FOLLOWING SITES:

FACEBOOK

TWITTER

INSTAGRAM

SOUNDCLOUD

YOUTUBE

 

 

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SILKRATS

silkrats band photo

SILKRATS (from l-r): Lewis Merrin (drums), Luna Valentine (lead vocals), Adam Kenney (guitar/vocals), Matt Nowak (bass)

INTERVIEW by ZAK SLOMAN

An up-and-coming alternative rock band from Nottingham, Silkrats had a productive end to 2018, having released a first single, ‘Partners In Crime’, as well as making their live debut in the band’s home city, and they have a determination, in 2019, to keep up the momentum that has so far been generated.

Here’s what the quartet had to say to me when we chatted recently:

How did the band form?

MATT NOWAK (bass): The three dudes in the band have been friends for a very long time. We met when we were at school, and we were in a (terrible) band together back then too. We remain the very best of friends after all these years, and the band only gives us another reason to hang out together, other than just getting pissed.

Silkrats formed when Adam persuaded Lewis and myself to give being a band another try – and we did take some persuading, to be honest, as unlike Adam, we had both taken a step back from playing music publicly, having grown disillusioned after the breakdown of previous projects, but we’re very glad that he talked us round.

We met Luna online, and she gelled with us remarkably quickly and easily, both musically, and as a bandmate, but it can’t have been easy for her entering the old and tight friendship that the other three members of the band hold. She’s done an amazing job so far.

How did the name Silkrats come about?

MATT: Honestly, it doesn’t really mean anything. For some reason, we thought it would be cool to have something with an animal in the name, and our drummer eventually suggested the name Silkrats.

By that time, we were about ready to book gigs and start releasing some tunes, so we had reached a stage where we just needed a name, any name, and thought it would do. I wish we had a cooler story behind it, to be honest, but we don’t.

What would you say was your approach to songwriting?

MATT: So far, we’ve written as a group mostly, and I like it that way, as I think it works for us. Personally, I prefer working on something together, rather than one of us bringing a complete idea to the other guys and saying, “Here’s the song, learn it“, and collaborating this way means we all have more of a shared attachment to the songs.

My style is more “riff arrangement“, whereas Adam has a great ear for hooks and choruses. Together, I think we make a decent team, and are able to fill in the holes in each other’s ideas.

Up until now, Adam has written all of the vocals/lyrics, but the vocal melodies inevitably change a bit once Luna gets her hands on them – it’s always a very pleasant surprise to hear her take them on.

What inspires the band lyrically?

ADAM KENNEY (guitar): I’ve always hated writing lyrics, but bringing in Luna has been liberating – I don’t have to feel self-conscious about it, because I’m not the one singing them!

Lyrically, no song is about one particular thing, as there are multiple themes in most of the songs. I get very bored writing about one singular subject, so there’s usually a line about one thing, and then another about something completely different.

Recently, you brought out your debut single, ‘Partners In Crime’. How was the recording process for that?

MATT: We actually did it ourselves – hopefully, it’s not too obvious! We were on a bit of a budget, so we recorded the song at home using fairly entry level microphones, a MacBook Air, and Logic Pro X.

It’s been years since I recorded anything “properly“, the last time being when I did my music tech A-level about ten years ago, but it was fun shaking off the cobwebs and re-teaching myself how to use various plug-ins, etc.

We wanted to self-record, so that we could take our time, both tracking and mixing, so that we could be pickier about the artistic side of things without the time pressures of working in a “proper” studio, and given the circumstances, I’m extremely proud of what we’ve produced.

And how has the reaction been to the track so far?

LUNA VALENTINE (lead vocals): The reception has been overwhelmingly positive. I think there’s no better feeling in this world than seeing other people enjoy something that we’ve created.

The band hail from Nottingham. What is the state of the alternative rock scene in the city, in your opinion, currently?

LUNA: It depends on what lens you’re looking at it through. From a punter’s perspective, it’s pretty great, as we have several venues that put on touring bands (courtesy of the DHP group – Rock City, The Bodega, Rescue Rooms), as well as an arena for larger acts, and a couple of annual urban festivals (Dot To Dot, Hockley Hustle, Beat The Streets).

As a band though, it can be difficult to find a respectable venue (ie. not a pub with a bit of spare floor space) that will put on emerging local acts, there’s only a handful of those. Huge shout out to The Maze though – they gave us our first gig, and are always willing to give local artists a chance.

And you recently made your live debut in your home city. How was that as an experience?

It went really well! It was great to finally get out there, and show people what we’ve been working on all this time, and we think it was pretty well-received too. We can’t wait to do it again.

And finally, what are the band’s plans for the year ahead?

We’re just trying to get ourselves out there, and we would love to play more gigs! We have five other songs in production already, and the plan at the moment is to release them one at a time as singles, but we’ll see.

silkrats single cover

‘PARTNERS IN CRIME’, THE DEBUT SINGLE FROM SILKRATS, IS AVAILABLE NOW.

FURTHER INFO ON THE BAND CAN BE FOUND THROUGH THE FOLLOWING SITES:

FACEBOOK

TWITTER

INSTAGRAM

BANDCAMP

SOUNDCLOUD