Category Archives: Interviews

THE FLITZ

The Flitz band photo

THE FLITZ (from l-r): Ben Strong (bass), Mike Lees (drums), Dan Fishlock (vocals), James Kerrison (guitar)

INTERVIEW by ZAK SLOMAN

From London, The Flitz are an emerging four-piece specialising in an anthemic indie-rock sound that immediately draws listeners in, and takes influence from a diverse range of bands and artists.

Currently getting positive feedback for their latest offering – tracks ‘Shoutout/Dancefloor Dramas‘ – the collective spoke to me about such things as this, performing live, how they think coronavirus will affect the British music industry, and more.

How did the band initially form?

DAN FISHLOCK (vocals): Through necessity, really. I was asked just to play one show at our student union, and I didn’t want to play it alone, so I got Mike, who I was living with at the time, to play cajon and keyboards, then I called James, who I had just met again at a party, to join us. It was all good fun.

JAMES KERRISON (guitar): After that gig, myself and Dan then spent a month or so meeting up and writing songs together. When it came to someone else offering us to play another gig, I wanted to complete the band with a bassist, so I contacted Ben, who I had met recently in our uni music society, to ask him to play bass in the bass, and he was up for it.

BEN STRONG (bass): I was in my first year at uni, the other guys were all about to finish their third, and I hadn’t met Dan or Mike before James asked me to be in the band. At first, I thought he was going to ask me to be the drummer, and I almost said “no“, but after he explained that they wanted a bassist, I said I would give it a go, and now we’re a few years on, and it seems to have gone alright.

MIKE LEES (drums): I met Dan in my first year at uni, and we were in another band with him for a short while, then I moved in with him and some mates in the second year. Dan quit the old band, and asked me to join The Flitz soon after. He introduced me to James and we got jamming, with Ben coming in shortly after.

How did the name The Flitz come about?

DAN: A “Flit” is like a one-off, of the moment kind of thing, which suited the circumstances of our first show. We only ever planned to play that one show. 

JAMES: The “Z” divided the group a bit, but I won’t say who was or wasn’t in favour. 

BEN: We’re stuck with it now, I guess. 

MIKE: Still unsure on the name.

What would you say was your approach to songwriting?

DAN: I’ve got no one approach. I suppose I just write when I’m inspired, and anything can inspire you at any time. That’s the wishy-washy answer, it’s mostly building on ideas all of the time – often, James has a load of riffs that need to be made into songs.

JAMES: Most of the time, Dan comes to me with an idea, maybe some chords, melody, and a few lyrics, and we flesh it out with more lyrics and lead parts. Sometimes, myself and Dan will chill together and play around with some chords and lyrics, and they quite often get worked on further into our new tunes.

BEN: When it comes to the band’s stuff, I’m happy to let Dan and James do the bulk of the work, and then I turn up at the end and fill in the gaps on bass, which, a lot of the time, has some interesting results. I’ll keep changing my parts up from one gig to the next, as well, until I find something that really feels right to me.

MIKE: Ben and I come into the process later on, and we have a lot of fun jamming through it a few times, adding whatever feels right.

What inspires the band lyrically?

DAN: Whatever rubbish comes out when I’m trying to sort out the melody.

JAMES: Dan likes to sing random lines when we’ve got some chords. I like to change lyrics to create a narrative, sometimes, this narrative is based on some of our own life experiences, like nights out. 

BEN: There tends to be quite a few references to Northampton, which is the town where Dan and I grew up, which is strange, considering we never met until we had both moved away. 

MIKE: Dan sings and plays a lot of Oasis and Stone Roses around the house. I feel like it really shows in the way the lyrics are written.

Recently, you brought out a new double-sided single, ‘Shoutout/Dancefloor Dramas’. How was the recording process for that?

JAMES: We had a great time recording those two tracks. We spent a lot of time in preparation by playing the songs live long before we demoed them.

Once we had made a demo in Dan and Mike‘s lounge, we took it to James Simpson (of Indoor Pets), who is also a great engineer and producer. He recorded the drums and bass for the tracks with us at 123 Studios in Peckham in a day, then we took those tracks to a home recording set-up, where we laid down all new tracks for the guitars and vocals.

Once everything was sorted, we then sent it all off to Jamie McIntyre (of The Covasettes), who mixed and mastered the tracks. It was a long but worthwhile process.

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

DAN: We’ve had a lot of love for the B-side, ‘Dancefloor Dramas‘, actually! The A-side, ‘Shoutout‘, was a live favourite that we were inevitably going to record. 

JAMES: We’ve had some really nice feedback on both tracks, likening them to The Beatles and Oasis, which is good to hear. 

BEN: A few of my uni mates have said that the tracks have gone straight onto their playlists. I can definitely see ‘Shoutout‘ as a chilled essay track.

MIKE: ‘Dancefloor Dramas‘ is definitely the underdog, they’re very different songs, and I would say that they have been received very well.

The band have performed live at venues across London, and have supported the likes of The Covasettes and The Baskervilles. How is the experience – for you all – of playing on stage?

DAN: It’s the best way to determine if you’re any good or not, what areas need to be worked on more, and what areas you’re doing well in. A live reaction is the most exhilarating, because it’s honest, and if you don’t get people going, then they’ll be off to the bar. 

JAMES: I always love playing live. I get a real buzz for the lead-up and the day of the gig. It’s a great highlight to my week, and I’m really missing it at the moment. 

BEN: I grew up playing in orchestras, which have some pretty rigid traditions when it comes to playing live, so getting up on stage with my mates and having fun is just the best, although if anyone sees any videos of me on stage, then I might be better off on stage when I’m not allowed to dance.

MIKE: Playing live is always fun, plus it’s a great excuse for a night out. Even on a quiet night, it’s still always a laugh.

In your opinion, how will the current global coronavirus pandemic affect the British music industry?

BEN: It’s honestly pretty scary, but I do reckon the music scene will be back and better, as soon as we can. You just can’t kill British music.

DAN: It’s made bands more annoying on social media, as now, they think that people want relentless content every hour. However, it has given the opportunity for musicians to be more creative, so maybe there will be a surge of album releases after the lockdown is fully lifted.

MIKE: Obviously, it’s pretty crap for the live music industry, and frustrating that you can’t get out and play, or go to gigs, but I guess it’s a good excuse to get some practice in.

JAMES: It’s interestingly showing how important live shows are to people, as most people I have spoken to say that the first thing they will do once the lockdown is over is go to a gig. I’m hoping that once lockdown has been fully lifted, it’ll bring a new wave of interest in small gigs/events, as people may be put off being in large crowds for a while.

And lastly, what is your long-term aim?

DAN: To make it onto those jukeboxes you find in every random pub.

JAMES: To have a room full of people singing our tunes back to us.

BEN: To walk into a supermarket, and hear one of our tracks playing as the weird dated background music.

MIKE: Wembley.

The Flitz Single Cover

‘SHOUTOUT/DANCEFLOOR DRAMAS’ – THE LATEST TRACKS FROM THE FLITZ – IS AVAILABLE NOW, AND FURTHER INFO ON THE BAND CAN BE FOUND THROUGH THE FOLLOWING SITES:

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DISTORTED VISIONS

Distorted Visions band photo

DISTORTED VISIONS (from l-r): Tiziano “Tiz” Baruffi (bass), Marco Cicala (vocals), Davide “Dave” Dalla Pozza (drums/vocals), Emanuele Cicala (guitar)

INTERVIEW by ZAK SLOMAN

Armed with an aggressive yet melodic combination of hardcore and metalcore, four-piece Distorted Visions have built up a solid fanbase, as well as winning plaudits from a host of music professionals, in their native Italy since forming almost three-and-a-half years ago.

Having recently unveiled a debut album, ‘Born Dead‘ – the result of a year of hard work – the band spoke to me about how they put it together, working with Marco “Maki” Coti Zelati, bassist of legendary gothic metal collective Lacuna Coil, the reaction the release has been getting so far, and much more.

How did the band initially form?

This project started with Marco and Emanuele wanting to create a band, with Tiziano and Davide joining soon afterwards. We began as a covers band, playing what we liked, but at the same time, we wanted to share our emotions through our music.

We recorded some songs that then became a little demo, which was the first step towards making what would be our album ‘Born Dead‘.

How did the name Distorted Visions come about?

Distorted Visions are two simple words, but they are the right representation of all the feelings we experienced in the past, and still experience every day, and it’s those feelings that are the underlying theme of ‘Born Dead‘.

What would you say was your approach to songwriting?

All of our lyrics come naturally: following the flow of the songs makes it easy for Marco and Dave to write something that comes out right from our hearts. They have to sacrifice some words to follow the music, but the concepts are a direct form of revolution, strong language, strong sounds, to liberate all of the anger and sickness from within ourselves.

What inspires the band lyrically?

We wanted to express negative emotions that we felt during the recording of ‘Born Dead‘ through music: depression, suicidal tendencies, anxiety, paranoia, or the feeling of alienation from society.

On the subject of ‘Born Dead’, how was the recording process for that?

It was very hard, as it took, more or less, about a year to write and record all of the songs for the album: it was a nightmare for all of us. It was also the first time we had approached the music and recording in professional terms.

From the beginning, we changed and modified every song until the last days before the release date, as we wanted our work to be as good as we were imagining.

How was the experience of working on the release with Marco “Maki” Coti Zelati? 

It was very stimulating for us. He is a unique man, and quickly became a sort of adoptive father to us, because he taught us how to write songs, how the process of a normal recording session works, and, last but not least, how to live and approach this world musically, and as human beings.

How has the response been to ‘Born Dead’ so far?

Very good, and exceeding our expectations! We would like to thank every single fan, from the newest to the oldest, who are continuing to support us. We obviously hope that the response will grow in the future, but it’s been great to have had such positive feedback!

The band have performed live at venues and festivals across much of Italy. How is it – for you all – of playing on stage?

Every single moment we are on stage is breathtaking. It doesn’t matter if it’s the smallest venue we have ever played: it still feels like playing on the greatest stage in the world. We only want to play and make our crowds enjoy the product that we are offering, while making the most of the time spent on the stage for all of you overall!

Also, a few years back, you won the Rock In Park contest – which was headed by a jury of well-known Italian music professionals. That must have been a very positive experience for the band.

Yeah, it was a lot of fun! We had participated in the previous year’s contest, and had finished sixth: it had been a great test for us, that formed our perseverance in what we had to do to improve on and off-stage, and it made us stronger as a band, as well as in our own lives.

Winning was a great emotion, but that wasn’t the most important thing, it was to grow together as a unit.

In the band’s opinion, how will the current global coronavirus pandemic affect the music industry in Italy?

It’s all blocked at the moment, and we don’t know, along with everyone else, when live shows will return.

The music industry will have to make some serious changes, as now, artists will have to reinvent and understand what they are capable of doing: live streams, video performances…all of that can be a temporary solution to this problem.

Keeping in touch with each other has been difficult, as we can’t do all of the stuff that we used to do: for example, recording something in a certain way is trickier, as not everybody has the same gear at home.

We know this period has been, and continues to be, hard, but, along with all of the other musicians in the world, we have to stay strong, and we will not be defeated by this situation.

And lastly, what are your future plans?

Since we don’t know exactly what will happen in the future, we simply don’t know. We hope to reschedule the shows that were planned to promote the album, and we can’t wait to be back on stage with you guys: together!

Distorted Visions Album Cover

‘BORN DEAD’ – THE DEBUT ALBUM FROM DISTORTED VISIONS – IS AVAILABLE NOW, AND FURTHER INFO ON THE BAND CAN BE FOUND THROUGH THE FOLLOWING SITES:

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DIE EGO

Die Ego band photo

INTERVIEW by ZAK SLOMAN

PHOTO by GGTS PHOTOGRAPHY

Since bursting onto the scene in 2018 with their demo ‘Songs For The Insanity‘, London three-piece Die Ego have built up a following within the UK capital’s metal community with a heavy, powerful, eardrum-splitting sound, and highly-energetic live sets.

With an eagerly-anticipated debut album, ‘Culto‘, coming out a few weeks from now, the band’s guitarist, Diego Ignacio Fardel, spoke to me about its recording process, musical and lyrical inspirations, what can be expected from the upcoming release, and much more.

How did the band first get together?

Things got started around 2014. At the time, I was jamming and writing songs with a couple of friends from another band I used to play in back in 2011. Once we had a bunch of demos ready, we decided to take things a bit more seriously and look for a singer, and that was when Gabe (vocals/bass) came into the picture. We musically clicked instantly, and that was the beginning of our journey, as we never stopped working together, writing songs, and developing the band.

After a few line-up changes, and a lot of work pushing the band forward, we met Dave (drums) in 2018, and things started to take shape, as we finally started gigging and working towards our goal.

How did the name Die Ego come about?

Die Ego means the death of the ego, to stop caring only about yourself, and pay attention to what’s going on around you, to become more grounded.

What would you say was your approach to songwriting?

We listen to loads to different bands and styles, from classic metal, to alternative, rock, thrash, doom, the list goes on. We don’t set any boundaries when it comes to write music and always try to write songs that resonate with us without caring much if it fits any “style” or “genre“. We try to blend our influences, and come up with something that sounds exciting to us.

What inspires the band lyrically?

Our lyrics focus on modern society problems, 20th century horror novels such as ‘Lovecraft‘, Shakespeare‘s ‘Emilia‘, to name a few, and dystopian realities.

Myself and Gabe write the lyrics, and we both take different approaches towards it. Gabe is hugely creative, and has the ability to write lyrics out of anything he reads – novels, stories, politics, etc. To me, it’s more natural to write about personal stuff and reality, in most cases, but we help each other a lot, anyway.

Next month, you will be unveiling your debut album, ‘Culto’. How has the recording process been for that?

The recording process was an extraordinary experience. We got into the studio with a bunch of gigs under our belts, and with a clear idea of how we wanted the record to sound.

We had the opportunity to work with Alessio Garavello at his Rogue studios in Wimbledon Park, and it felt he was the fourth member of the band, as he understood our spirit, and the direction we wanted to go in. He truly pushed us to be the best we could possibly be, and I would highly recommend him, as we were beyond happy with the results, and we cannot wait to share it with all of you.

And how will the upcoming release differ stylistically to the band’s 2018 demo, ‘Songs For The Insanity’?

Songs For The Insanity‘ was a handmade demo we put together while we were writing songs, and it was never meant to be an official release. We only did it because promoters were asking us for material when we were booking gigs, and that’s all we had recorded at the time.

We were, and still are, surprised at the good reaction the demo had, and how far it took us, however, ‘Culto‘ will be our first official release, and we will finally be able to showcase the songs as they are meant to sound.

I guess the initial demo captured the band spirit, and some people understood it. At the moment, it is still available on our Bandcamp, but I’m not sure if it will remain on there. I guess it will be a good album to keep as memorabilia for our hardcore fans! (laughs). Those three songs were re-arranged, re-recorded, and will be included on the upcoming album, where you will be able to hear the difference!

You have played at such London venues as The Black Heart, the New Cross Inn, and the O2 Academy Islington, and last year, you performed at the Camden Rocks festival. How were they as experiences?

We love playing anywhere, to be fair, but there are some places that have a special place in our hearts. The Black Heart is one of those, as we played our first show there in 2015, have played there a few more times since, and we love it.

Playing at the O2 Academy Islington was something we did not expect. It was our second gig with this line-up, and luckily for us, we covered for a band who couldn’t make it.

The venue is amazing, and as the gig was rolling, we saw it getting packed! We will never forget that night, and there’s some footage of the show available on our YouTube channel if you want to check it out. It feels special when you have the opportunity to play at the venues where you normally go to see your favourite bands.

Festivals such as Camden Rocks are a different experience, as you get the chance to perform in front of a more diverse crowd, and people are more open to discovering new bands. It was fun to do it, and hopefully, we can repeat it once the album is out.

And how is it overall being on stage?

Being on stage is the best thing that can happen to an artist, musician, actor, etc, as you can express yourself from every single pore of your body and connect with the people in front of you. I have no words to express how much we all miss being loud, raw, and very cathartic on stage, what with the current situation we’re all going through, but, fingers crossed, live music will be back at some point this year.

On the subject of the current global coronavirus situation, in your opinion, how will it affect the British music industry?

It affects not only the bands for not being able to go out and make a living out of their music, but also the venues, promoters, roadies, basically every single person who makes a live show possible.

I see musicians putting their best efforts into recording themselves at home, making virtual collaborations, and trying to get the best out of this situation. It’s the same for us. I just hope this comes to an end by the end of summer, as otherwise, the consequences will be much bigger than we could imagine, because if smaller venues cannot survive the pandemic, and are forced to close, then thousands of bands and music workers will be affected. We could only hope for the best, and look after each other.

And lastly, what is your long-term aim?

The same as we have had from the very beginning, basically, get our music out, connect with people, grow our fanbase, and take this dream as far as we possibly can while having a good time and making the most out of it. Being in a band has loads of ups and downs, and it isn’t the easiest job in the world, but it is worth doing if you truly love it!

Die Ego Album Cover

‘CULTO’ – THE DEBUT ALBUM FROM DIE EGO – WILL BE RELEASED ON JUNE 12, AND FURTHER INFO ON THAT – AND THE BAND – CAN BE FOUND THROUGH THE FOLLOWING SITES:

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DEADLETTER

Deadletter band photo

INTERVIEW by ZAK SLOMAN

SINGLE COVER ARTWORK by HANNAH WOOLLAM

A few months back, I chatted to emerging London indie/post-punk five-piece Mice On Mars.

Now, the band have returned under a new name, DEADLETTER, and with a new single, ‘Good Old Days‘, which they spoke to me about, as well as their opinion on how the current global coronavirus pandemic will affect the UK music scene, and plans for when the lockdown restrictions are finally fully lifted.

First of all, why the name change to DEADLETTER?

Rebirth is the best term for it. We’re certainly not deceased, nor are we evolved – like a phoenix from the ashes, we have emerged with a new direction on our TomToms.

And how did that name come about?

The name change process was incontrovertibly difficult. It involved scrupulously sifting in a few various different pubs (we met to decide a new name a fair few times). Eventually – when this name was said, it was within a few minutes that we all figured it was the one. Thus, DEADLETTER was born.

You recently unveiled a new single, ‘Good Old Days’. How was the recording process for that?

We recorded it with a cracking fella called Rhys Downing. Rhys had seen us play The Waiting Room back in February, and within a week or so, he had beckoned us to Seven Sisters. We recorded the tune in a day that then concluded under questionable circumstances – nevertheless, we were satiated with what amassed.

And how does the track differ stylistically to the work the band did as Mice On Mars?

Mice was rough around the edges, in delivery, and in capture. With this, we wanted to still document the energy we possess, but did so whilst polishing all the surfaces. We’re still a messy band – we just keep our work area within the best bounds of hygiene now.

In your opinion, how will the current global coronavirus pandemic affect the British music industry?

It would be rather banal of us to once again reinstate the conservation of our music scene as a solution – however – it’s great to see campaigns such as #SAVEOURVENUES.

We can’t imagine the government have much planned in terms of preserving the sweet bed of flowers that we love to roll around in – so to decrease the chance of the closure of independent venues – we say we all donate as much as we can, and continue to keep the UK‘s musical output afloat. It’s up to us from here on in.

And lastly, what are the band’s future plans?

Definitely more singles – maybe something a little longer towards the end of this year/start of next. In all honesty, it’s hard to make a call about anything at the moment, though, so we’ll play it safe, and expect a lot of fucking gigs when they resume!

Deadletter Single Cover

‘GOOD OLD DAYS’ – THE LATEST SINGLE FROM DEADLETTER – IS AVAILABLE NOW, AND FURTHER INFO ON THE BAND CAN BE FOUND THROUGH THE FOLLOWING SITES:

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KING KULA

King Kula band photo

KING KULA (from l-r): Louis Wilson, Jordan Gifford, Dan Bailey, Ash Simpson

INTERVIEW by ZAK SLOMAN

Describing their sound as “loud, fuzzy, cosmic rock“, King Kula are a four-piece from Stoke-on-Trent that have become a popular collective on their home city’s music scene these past few years, winning over fans of both rock and indie.

With a self-titled debut EP having just been released, the band’s frontman, Jordan Gifford, chatted to me about this, their journey so far, influences, future plans, and more.

How did the band initially form?

The band formed in January 2017 after finishing with our old outfit Lost Soul Experiment (which was a shit name looking back), in which we were all members of the band, also previously known as Vellocet (2009-2014), where me, Ash, and Wilson were founding members, and our now drummer Dan Bailey joined us on keyboards towards towards the end, alongside drumming in his band Fools Paradise.

How did the name King Kula come about?

It’s just a play on Steve McQueen‘s character’s name in ‘The Great Escape‘, and I don’t really think there’s anything more to it than that.

What are the band’s main musical influences?

Queens Of The Stone Age, Led Zeppelin, Foo Fighters, Pink Floyd, Them Crooked Vultures, Rival Sons, Motorhead, being brief and vague, but we’re influenced by a lot more than rock.

We’re fans of the spaghetti western soundtracks that Ennio Morricone did, that definitely contributes to a bit of our sound. There’s also a slight psychedelic influence in our music, leaning into the more atmospheric and strange parts of it.

Delta blues, eastern instrumentals, the list goes on.

What would you say was your approach to songwriting?

We pretty much jam ideas, and if those ideas turn into something we like the sound of, then we lay down a structure, and pursue it as far as we can, but we’ve definitely learned not to force anything with songwriting, some songs can come all at once, some songs can come months apart, that’s just how it is, each song is different.

We tend to record everything we like, even if it’s just a riff or maybe a tuning we’re trying out, and keep it in the vault for another day.

What inspires the band lyrically?

I think we take a lot from movies in terms of inspiration for lyrics, but generally for us, the music dictates the lyrics and theme of a song. We tend to get a feel of the music first to establish what the songs are going to be about.

You have just brought out a self-titled debut EP. How was the recording process for that?

It was great. We recorded the EP at Lower Lane Studios in Stoke-on-Trent with the wizard that is Sam Bloor. We did two sessions over a couple of long weekends, and we’re more than happy with the results.

Sam has a great approach to recording, he’s incredibly relaxed, encouraging, open to trying absolutely anything, and he definitely gets the best out of you, no matter how many takes.

We initially wanted to work with Sam from hearing how great the drums sounded on recordings he had done for our mates in Psyence and Thieves Asylum. He produced the EP, too, and we feel he’s definitely encapsulated our sound.

And for those who have yet to listen to the new release, how does it differ stylistically to the band’s first single, ‘Strange Love’, which came out in 2017?

Well, all of the songs on the EP were actually recorded around the same time, and have been part of our live set since, but ‘Strange Love’ is definitely one of our calmer songs. I guess the rest of the EP showcases other areas we like to explore with heavier songs like ‘Rogues‘, or leaning into Eastern influences with ‘The Devil Made Me Do It‘.

You have played live at venues and festivals across your home city of Stoke-on-Trent. How is the experience – for you all – of performing on stage?

Yeah, it’s been great. There’s some amazing venues and festivals in our local area, but we’re ready to venture out now. We’re proud to be a part of the local scene alongside a ton of great bands and artists, and we’re lucky enough to play on the fringe of the indie crowd, but also with the heavier rock audiences, so that keeps things interesting for us.

In the band’s opinion, how will the current global coronavirus pandemic affect the British music industry?

Wow, good question…who knows, man. The only thing we can do is hope it thrives again, and do all we can to help that, but it’s going to be a long time until we return to any kind of normality. We just hope the industry survives, as it would be incredibly sad to see so many treasured venues close for good.

And lastly, what are your plans now that the EP has been unveiled?

We plan to get back to playing live as much as we can once the restrictions have been lifted, promote this EP, record EP number two, and hopefully get that out later this year or early next year, gig a lot, and probably do the same thing all over again.

King Kula EP Cover

THE SELF-TITLED DEBUT EP FROM KING KULA IS AVAILABLE NOW, AND FURTHER INFO ON THE BAND CAN BE FOUND THROUGH THE FOLLOWING SITES:

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DRAMALOVE

Dramalove band photo

DRAMALOVE (from l-r): Neil Davey (drums), Diego Soncin (vocals/guitar), Riccardo Soncin (bass)

INTERVIEW by ZAK SLOMAN

Originating from Italy, Dramalove left their home country a few years back to seek opportunities in the UK, and the collective have not looked back since, gaining a devoted fan base and acclaim from much of the British music media for a dark, energetic, and reflective alternative rock sound.

Having brought out a string of positively-received releases, including their latest single, ‘Written In The Stars‘, I thought it was a good time to talk to frontman Diego Soncin about the three-piece’s rapid rise, and a host of other band-related topics.

How did the band initially form?

This band started out from an idea originated by me and my twin brother Riccardo, where, initially, we wanted to impress schoolmates, and re-create the energy and impact that big MTV rockstars were having on us. We started playing covers, rehearsing in the basement of our house.

When a few of our neighbours complained, we started putting on make-up, and spending hours mastering our instruments, all of which then developed into a true passion and dedication, especially after having seen some good results with the first raw performances.

How did the name Dramalove come about?

The very first name of the band was Hypersound (very few people know this), then we changed it to No Gravity when the first solid formation came together (by that, I mean a drummer that lasted five years).

In 2008, we were approached by one of the biggest Italian independent record labels, Bliss Corporation, after they had heard our debut self-titled EP (seven tracks recorded at the SoundVision studios in our home city of Turin, by our brothers Dario and Hermes, and studio owner Edoardo Arrowood).

The label had already had much success with dance and electronic, and they were stepping into rock and alternative, following the emo fashions of the late 2000’s. We signed a contract, and the manager of the label, Massimo Gabutti, suggested we change our name as we noticed there were another three or four musical acts in the world called No Gravity, which could have led to copyright trials if we hit the charts.

So, after a sleepless night (literally), me and my brother came up with the name Dramalove, which sums the endless war between good and evil. That simply sounded good to our ears, and we could also imagine it being written in a big font on a national festival poster.

What are the band’s main musical influences?

Too many to write them all, but certainly late 1990’s three-pieces such as Muse, Placebo, Verdena (Italy), as well as big international acts such as the Smashing Pumpkins and early Radiohead. My brother has always been a massive fan of Michael Jackson, and I also personally tend to listen to a lot of classical and electronic music.

What would you say was your approach to songwriting?

It was, and I hope it still is, the most honest ritual of them all. Writing a song should be the easiest thing on Earth, as you just have to learn to listen.

I remember clearly having a little argument at home once, in my late teens, about the fact that music is not a safe path and the worries of my parents towards me and getting a safe job and all that, and that very evening, I went into my basement, and wrote ‘Qualcosa Cambiera (Something Will Change)‘…”I hope someone will hear me, I won’t just stop here, I won’t surrender, where are we going? Who knows…if something will change“.

Writing should literally rise into your chest, and you feel the burning urge to put it down, whether it’s on a musical instrument or your private journal, otherwise, it might not be worth recording it. I would also say my general point of view looks romantic and dark, but, at its true core, is always optimistic.

What inspires the band lyrically?

All sorts of subjects, everything that happens to us in our private lives. We also wrote a few political ones (‘Stati Uniti d’Italia (United States of Italy)‘, a clear allegation towards the Italian government), but the main bottom line seems to be that 90% of the time, it’s love stories, failed romances and hopes, or fighting for what you really want.

A few years back, you relocated from your native Italy to the UK. What were the main reasons behind making that move?

The event that triggered myself getting on a plane, with very short notice to my mum, was our elimination from the Italian ‘X Factor‘, which was when we realised, once and for all, that there was no room for our music in Italy.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s a lovely place, with loads of fantastic songwriters and musical history, and I still think Italian is the most beautiful language in the world, but it’s just pointless grabbing a guitar and sweat onstage while playing a rock riff and shouting to overcome the drums, it’s not a thing any more. It might still be at a very grassroots level, as obviously there are bands, but you can forget ever hoping of making a living from it.

We felt (and we still feel) that if you make a break as an artist in English, you get a better chance at playing a big festival (look at the BBC Introducing stage, for example), and our decision has paid off well so far, even though we don’t spend a single day not missing home and the places where we grew up.

And how was it adjusting to life in a new country?

I’m not gonna lie, it has been incredibly hard. The initial enthusiasm soon turned into hardship, especially as I came over to the UK on my own. I have been lucky enough to have a friend living in Dover who hosted me for the first month, but I still had to find a job, a room, get the whole documentation, learn to understand how this culture thinks (way different from the Italians, everything is way quicker in the UK), adjust to the horrible weather (sorry, that has to be said), and even though my English was already above the average back then, I had some very bad experiences when confusing some toothache tablets with very powerful painkillers, but that is another story…

In February, the band unveiled their latest single, ‘Written In The Stars’. How was the recording process for that?

It went down as pretty much all of our songs. I wrote the initial idea, the main structure into my recording software on my laptop (used Cubase for years, but recently switched to Reaper), then I presented it to my bandmates when we were in the practice room. Everyone seemed happy with the vibes of it, so we decided to record it professionally.

Lately, we tend to do as much as we can at home to cut the costs (vocals, guitars, bass, synths), but the drums are the only bit that really needs a good studio with professional and expensive mics, in my opinion. We used Magpie Studios in Kent, which is highly-recommended.

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

The song was picked as a track of the week by Classic Rock magazine, which gave us great exposure, resulting in another positive milestone for the band.

You have been championed by The Guardian newspaper – who have favorably compared you to early Muse – the NME, BBC Introducing, and Classic Rock magazine – who made you one of their best new bands of 2019. I can imagine it must have been a good feeling for you all being praised by all of those respected media outlets. 

It is a good feeling, indeed. Our hard work is finally showing some results, but we feel like we’re just at the beginning. All of this will certainly bring credibility to our name, which is a great thing when you’re aiming for the top.

The band have performed live at such festivals as Tramlines in Sheffield, and The Great Escape in Brighton. How were they as experiences?

They were some of the best experiences we’ve ever had. City festivals seem to be a massive thing in the UK, as there are such cool vibes, bands, and crowded venues all over the city, at very corner, and we can’t wait to go back into them. Also, you make more industry connections there in one day than in months with regular gigs!

And you have played at venues across the UK and Italy. How is it overall being on stage?

Being on stage is the best thing in the world, as that is when I really feel alive and connected to my original source. It’s a very interesting scenario going on, the more you give, the more you feel coming back from the crowd, and there’s always that element of uncertainty that adds an unique thrill every single time. Even after 13 years playing live music, I still feel like if it is the first time.

In the band’s opinion, how will the current global coronavirus pandemic affect the British music industry?

Hard to say. There is a big question mark above the whole situation. I know loads of venues were on the verge of closing down even before the pandemic. I can only imagine the struggle they are going through now, and I really hope some consistent help from the government is on the way.

The “new normal” will see new safety measures taken at every gig, and I believe that all across the globe, not just in the UK, we are going to see a spike in the live streaming industry, that will play a big role and make a difference.

And lastly, what are your future plans?

At present, we are recording new songs, leaving an open door in terms of dates and deadlines. As soon as things are a bit clearer, we’ll maybe release an EP (you want to go and play the songs live once you’ve released them), so for now, the main focus is writing, making the most of our social networks, and keep nurturing our dedicated supporters.

Dramalove Single Cover

‘WRITTEN IN THE STARS’ – THE LATEST SINGLE FROM DRAMALOVE – IS AVAILABLE NOW, AND FURTHER INFO ON THE BAND CAN BE FOUND THROUGH THE FOLLOWING SITES:

OFFICIAL WEBSITE

FACEBOOK

TWITTER

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REALMS

Realms band photo

REALMS (from l-r): Jordan Ness (bass), Matt Shore (guitar), Karl Lauder (vocals), Jed Cooke (drums), Jonny Ford (guitar)

INTERVIEW by ZAK SLOMAN

South Yorkshire five-piece Realms have made quite an impact on their local rock/metal music scene since unveiling debut EP, ‘Echo Chamber‘, in 2017, with a compelling, dense post-hardcore sound, heavily influenced by the emo outfits of the 2000’s.

With the band’s recent offering, ‘Burn The Orchard‘, effectively showcasing more of their originality, resulting in an overwhelmingly positive response from critics and fans alike, two members of the collective – vocalist Karl Lauder and guitarist Matt Shore – spoke to me, in-depth, about this, the quintet’s approaches to songwriting and lyrics, how they think coronavirus will affect the British music industry, and much more.

How did the band initially form?

MATT SHORE (guitar): Me and Karl met at uni when we were living in the same dorms. We got talking, and realised we had a very similar taste in music. We had both played in bands before, and we decided we wanted to try forming something together. However, because we’re lazy, the band didn’t actually take shape until after we had finished uni.

Karl already knew Jed from a previous band, and after they had both moved back to Doncaster when they finished uni, we persuaded Jed to record some songs me and Karl had written together. We told Jed that since he had already written the drum parts and recorded the songs, he might as well be the drummer, and he never disagreed, so he’s been stuck with us ever since.

We found Ford and Jordan through online ads in early 2016, and we’ve been going ever since then!

How did the name Realms come about?

MATT: We really wanted a band name that was just one word. We had been throwing around random words for a while, and eventually, Realms just stuck. I think it had something to do with what we would call a nightclub if we owned one, or something to do with Yu-Gi-Oh

What would you say was your approach to songwriting?

MATT: So far, we have always written the music first. It’s usually all done separately. Me or Ford will be jamming at home, will come up with a part that sounds good, and then develop it into a song on Guitar Pro.

With ‘Echo Chamber‘, there was a bit more collaboration where me and Ford might start a song, and then send it to each other to see if we could think of any other parts or ideas, but with ‘Burn The Orchard‘, it’s a 50/50 split of two songs that I wrote individually, and two songs that Ford wrote individually.

We don’t usually share the Guitar Pro files with the rest of the band until they are complete in our eyes. If we’re on the ball, Jed might write some drums to the GP file before we take the new song to practice, if not, we’ll just hash it out all together and see what comes out.

KARL LAUDER (vocals): It can vary when it comes to writing vocals and lyrics, but ultimately, I wait until Matt, Ford, and Jed have laid the foundations, and then I pick it up and work in melodies. I’ve learnt the hard way not to write bits prior to this because of the fluid nature of songwriting and how drums can really change the flow of a song. Sometimes, the melodies sound better on piano, and we can put piano in our songs, which is what happened with ‘Freefall‘.

My lyrics are 50/50 between pre-written and heat-of-the-moment, though I usually have a theme prior to the song being written, then we take it all to the practice room to iron kinks out. Sometimes, some vocal patterns that work in your head just don’t work when it comes to reality.

What inspires the band lyrically?

KARL: I treat my lyrics like an open therapy session ultimately. Whatever is eating me up, something I struggle to say to people in a close setting, etc. It’s an expression of, usually, my frustration of living in an unjust world and dealing with any emotional issues I have, yet I cannot address them directly to that person. I am an opinionated person, and I think that helps to pick the topic for each song I help write.

Recently, you brought out a new EP, ‘Burn The Orchard’, which has been positively received. How was the recording process for that?

MATT: We recorded ‘Burn The Orchard‘ in our friend’s (Liam Dodd) bedroom. We recorded ‘Echo Chamber‘ with him too, and since we were happy with how that sounded, we thought we would go back for round two.

It was a pretty chill experience mostly, we tracked some rough demos with him to begin with, so we could think about any extra production, we wanted to sprinkle into the songs and then went back to get the proper takes done later on. We just programmed the drums for the sake of simplicity. The guitars were done after that, then bass, and the vocals last. We quad-tracked the guitars to flesh them out a bit, and make them sound chunky.

It was quite a long, gruelling experience, to be honest (laughs), we often left our sessions feeling exhausted and mentally drained. I think it was about two full days to track the guitars.

KARL: Tougher than previously, but that was because vocally, it was a massive improvement. I discovered I can sing higher than I thought was possible, and it was really fun doing a song with all clean vocals to be honest. Doing all the screaming in a day was tiring, and I would have preferred to break it up, but we smashed it out the park, and I’m happy with the finished product.

And for those who have yet to listen to the release, how does it differ stylistically to ‘Echo Chamber’?

MATT: I think we learned a lot from writing ‘Echo Chamber‘ and playing those songs live that we incorporated into the new EP.

Looking back on ‘Echo Chamber‘, it feels a lot more “safe” than the new material. We were writing songs that we wanted to sound like other bands, whereas with ‘Burn The Orchard‘, we already had our own sound and identity, so I think it was easier to write songs that just sounded like Realms.

We definitely worked in some different influences and sounds that people maybe didn’t expect from us this time, especially the song ‘Freefall‘, which is entirely clean vocals and clean guitars with a lot of strings/piano layers.

KARL: For me personally, it’s just a massive one up on ‘Echo Chamber‘. Vocally, it’s 100 times better, from a songwriting standpoint, it’s 100 times better, and lyrically, I feel it’s more rounded, but knowing we can pull some of the things off that we did just makes me pumped to get back to the studio to see what we can make next.

You have played live at venues across Yorkshire, as well as in Birmingham and Nottingham, and have also supported the likes of InAir and CaveKiller. How is the experience – for you all – of performing on stage?

MATT: I love how every show is different. The show with CaveKiller, for example (who are great by the way, awesome dudes), was during that massive storm earlier this year. I can remember driving down the motorway to the show in all that awful weather wondering if I was crazy going out in weather warnings just to play a show, but when you get there, and you’ve finished playing, it’s always worth it.

Being on stage is a lot of fun, and chatting to the other bands afterwards or to people who enjoyed your set is awesome. It’s also a good excuse to get together with the boys for a night out.

KARL: I honestly dread it most nights, but in my opinion, it’s what drives me to be as good as I can be live, and when you really nail a good performance, there is no better feeling. Even if the people in the crowd weren’t into it, knowing we got up there and played as well as we could is such a good feeling.

I always get nervous, and even though we’ve been playing live for as long as we have, it never seems to get any easier. I’ll be the first to admit I’m my own worst critic, if I don’t feel I personally did as well as I could live, it really bums me out, and I tend to beat myself, but luckily, the lads will perk me up.

In the band’s opinion, how will the current global coronavirus pandemic affect the British music industry?

MATT: I’m worried about the venues. I’m hoping that they’re getting enough support through all this. I’ve seen that a few venues have set up fundraiser campaigns to make sure they can stay open during all of this, and to be fair, the support I’ve seen so far has been really good.

I’m looking forward to all the music that will come out of all this. This is the perfect time for bands and musicians to be locked away, and to work on their craft, and I think we’re going to have bands releasing some ace tunes at the end of all this.

I’m also hoping that once all the restrictions have been lifted, people will have a new appreciation of the local scenes. I’m hoping the “you don’t miss it until it’s gone” mentality kicks in, and that people will start attending local shows a bit more, especially if they have spent this lockdown period discovering new bands that they might not have checked out before.

KARL: Like Matt has just said, ultimately, it’s the live venues and live music scene that will suffer the most. Any small business is going to feel the pinch, and ultimately, I don’t know if some will survive.

And lastly, what are your future plans?

MATT: Our plans originally were to play some shows in support of the new EP, but that’s been put on the back burner, so we’re using this time to work on new music. Me and Ford have been furloughed, so we’ve had a lot of time on our hands to write songs. It’s been a more collaborative effort this time with joint inputs into what we’ve been working on which has been fun.

We want to steer away from releasing EPs for a little while, and focus on releasing a few singles in the future. EPs take a long time to get written, recorded, and released, and we don’t want such a long gap in releasing new music as we did between ‘Echo Chamber‘ and ‘Burn The Orchard‘.

We’re also hoping to record these singles in proper studios, so we can up our production standards, and take ourselves out of our comfort zones a little bit, so cost comes into it, as well.

KARL: During lockdown, we are currently working on some songs ourselves, and the plan is to do them as singles. I’d love to write an album, but the time it takes to write one means we wouldn’t get it out for a while, and the business model is kinda changing now to single-based stuff to get picked up and noticed, etc.

Burn The Orchard‘ was a big step in the right direction for us, so we are hoping to use everything we have learnt from these songs, and carry that into our next few releases, which we are hoping will be sooner than our latest EP, so watch this space, I guess.

Realms EP Cover

‘BURN THE ORCHARD’ – THE SECOND EP FROM REALMS – IS AVAILABLE NOW, AND FURTHER INFO ON THE BAND CAN BE FOUND THROUGH THE FOLLOWING SITES:

FACEBOOK

TWITTER

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