Tag Archives: Mallory Knox

MALLORY KNOX – The Sugarmill, Hanley, 20/04/2018

Mallory Knox band photo 2

SUPPORT: Dead!, Judas


It may have only been mid-April, but whilst waiting outside for the doors of The Sugarmill in Hanley to open, the lowering rays of sunshine beating down made it feel like a pleasant mid-summer’s evening.

However, that certainly wasn’t on the minds of the predominantly youthful patrons queuing up to get into the venue, as they were eager to see three top bands in action, led by alternative rock juggernauts Mallory Knox, who had stopped by in the Potteries as part of their latest UK tour.

Once everybody had been admitted and settled in, the night’s musical entertainment was ready to begin in earnest.

Judas band photo

Opening proceedings were emerging indie-rock quartet Judas, currently based in London, but originating from all over Britain.

They have been tipped for big things by many in the music press, and judging by what I saw during their set, it was easy to see why.

Despite being a relatively young outfit, they already have a very strong setlist, which was played with much confidence and energy, with silky-smooth transitions between each track.

If there were any nerves from any of the four members while they were on stage, it certainly wasn’t evident, as it was clear that the outfit were having a good time, with frontman John Clancy engaging well with the crowd.

At the front, there were two rather over-excited audience members whooping throughout, some bands would have found this annoying, but not Judas, as John just simply smiled at them and told everyone, “Looks like we have two hardcore fans here tonight.

John further built up credentials with the crowd, dedicating the band’s set finale, and latest single, ‘Wonderland’, which they had recorded at the iconic Abbey Road studios, to everyone watching.

Judas got things off to a good start, and it surely won’t be too long before they will be back at venues like this one headlining.

Dead! band photo

Dead! are a band that when I first saw them play live two years ago in Derby (when Raveneye’s Adam Breeze was their drummer), were in pretty much the same optimistic situation that Judas currently find themselves in.

In the 24 months since, the four-piece have gone from strength to strength, signing a record contract, playing a host of respected festivals and venues, as well as releasing a well-received debut album.

All of that success, as well as a sizable following that just keeps on growing, could have gone to their heads, but here, they were more than happy to play second fiddle to Mallory Knox.

Dead!’s set was abundant with energy throughout, a real showcase for their aggressive style of playing, with frontman Alex Mountford giving a stage performance so animated that it seemed like he had been downing can after can of Red Bull a few minutes prior.

Even though I was stood at the back of the room, I could still see an immense volume of sweat pouring down his face, so much so that at one point towards the end, he had to take a huge gulp from his water bottle and pat himself dry with a towel.

Guitarist Sam Matlock has a Kurt Cobain-esque vibe to him, both in how he looks and the way he plays, and I’m confident that if Kurt was still with us now, he would be championing these guys.

It was clear, both by the way Dead! played, and the reaction they were getting from the crowd, that the band are now well on their way to becoming a real force to be reckoned with.

Following such a sublime set, it was going to be tough for Mallory Knox to top that, especially as it is still relatively early days for the headliners’ new Mikey Chapman-less line-up, and when I had chatted to the band’s guitarists, Joe Savins and James Gillett, earlier in the evening, they said themselves and the other members had been concerned throughout the tour whether their fans would accept Sam Douglas as the new frontman.

Mallory Knox band photo

However, the Cambridge four-piece needn’t have worried, as when they came on stage, one by one, there was such an almighty cheer from the crowd that they could have quite literally raised the roof off of The Sugarmill.

There were no drawn-out introductions following that, as the band launched full-throttle into their set, playing pretty much their entire back catalogue.

Sam wasn’t very animated, but he made the songs that had been sung originally by Mikey truly his own with a powerful vocal delivery.

When each track finished, the cheers grew louder and louder, and Sam did make a few references, albeit indirectly, to the tough time the collective had been having over the last couple of months, and when they had concluded, he took the time to thank everyone for sticking with them.

The set wasn’t very energetic, but it was effective, and it provided concrete proof that Mallory Knox have come through their recent trials and tribulations a stronger, more cohesive unit, and one that can look to the future with much optimism.










Mallory Knox band photo 2


In the second part of my interview with top alternative rock quartet Mallory Knox, their guitarists, Joe Savins and James Gillett, spoke to me about the band’s current UK tour, their journey and achievements over the last nine years, and the advice they would give to emerging outfits.

You said that ‘Black Holes’ was a taster of what was to come on the band’s fourth album. Have you set a date for its release yet?

JOE SAVINS (lead guitar/backing vocals): No, we’re not even close, really. I mean we’ve only recently sorted out a new record deal, but the plan is to just keep on writing and capitalise on those moments, like we don’t think we’re going to go into a studio and record an entire album over a four-week period, I think we just want to keep writing, then recording, then write some more, then record some more, catch those moments of inspiration across the year, instead of recording it all in one go, then maybe writing something better, and then regretting that we didn’t put it on the album, or maybe realising that we want to change direction halfway through recording, we just want to give ourselves the best chance with this line-up change, and be as free and creative as possible, so to answer your question, no, there isn’t an album release date yet.

(Joe and James laugh)

You’re currently on a UK tour. How has that been going so far?

JOE: It’s been great. It’s just one of them, where everything feels like a massive judgement at the moment, rather like when we brought ‘Black Holes’ out, it’s the first time that we have done headline shows, and thought, “People may not like this“, because obviously, we’re playing old songs, but with Sam singing, and even though he wrote those songs, and in a way, he’s taken them back, you never know if people are going to accept it or not, you know.

It’s almost like it throws up a whole new problem, because people are so attached to them, and we’re essentially putting a fresh take on them, but everyone’s been really great, they’ve literally been shouting out words of support for Sam, saying, like, “You’re doing this better than Mikey!“, and I think, “Lovely stuff“, but you know, it’s one of those things where we have had a total show of support, they’re not there just to listen to the music, they’re there to back us, and I’m really feeling that this tour.

The band have been around for nine years now. When you formed, did you ever expect to achieve what you have?

JAMES GILLETT (rhythm guitar/backing vocals): Well, this was a thing for us. At the beginning, it was just a mess around, we were putting our own money into the band, recording an EP and stuff, and it sort of snowballed from there.

Like Joe said earlier, it came about very quickly, and we sort of got carried away. We were always really grateful and keen, but it was always like something new was coming in, and we were all so chuffed about it, to just be going in the direction we were heading in, because it was always a dream of ours to play music and make a living out of it, because early on, you’re working two jobs, the band is just a bit of fun, but it got to the stage where you had to quit your jobs, and devote yourself full-time, but unless it started to pick up quickly, it was going to end, and you would’ve had to have got a proper job again, so yeah, we didn’t think we ever expected it, we’ve always been kind of pessimistic about those sort of things, and early on, the fans were hanging on to us, we weren’t getting any support tours, because no-one would want to take us out, and that was so frustrating, because we just wanted to be out there touring, and we knew from what people who just heard us on the underground scene where saying, there was a bit of hype about us, which felt good.

I think one of the biggest support tours we did early on was with Don Broco, because when they took us out, that was such a great tour, and I still remember to this day, when we played Manchester, starting our set, and the crowd just going mental for us.

It was insane, because we were only playing in a small venue, and it was something we just weren’t expecting.

For us, everything we do is an achievement.

JOE: Yeah, it was just one of those weird things, like what James just said about the support tours, at the start, we just played around Cambridge and the surrounding area, and we were struggling to get out of that bubble, because I don’t think we were considered to be a cool band by other bands and people in the music industry at the time.

A prime example of a cool band are The 1975, I mean I love that band, but almost immediately, it seemed like everyone wanted to be associated with them, whereas at the beginning, we never had that.

Any achievement that we have made has come as a complete surprise for us, I mean we were pessimistic, we didn’t really fancy our chances. We didn’t have much backing then, and it was our fans who took it and ran with it, really.

It was them that made us, the fact that our fan base spread through word-of-mouth, not through any favours from the music industry.

What advice would you give to any emerging bands/artists out there?

JOE: It’s hard, because there’s so much stuff that we look back on, that now, we would have done so much differently, for example, we wouldn’t have written a certain song in the way we did, we would have changed certain aspects of our sound, but at the end of the day, if we hadn’t done things in a certain way, we would never have learnt from them.

What I would say is just consider everything you do, and don’t be flippant with anything, because it’s going to be there forever, you know what I mean?

If you write a song that you’re not 100% sure of, it will always be there, so just really consider everything you do, what you look like, everything you say, because it won’t disappear.

JAMES: Every part of it is so important these days, the look, the online presence, especially, the photos you put up on social media, the way you portray yourself, and it’s a shame to a certain extent, because it should be about the music, but at the end of the day, you can’t fight it, because that’s how it is now.

Some bands are big because they’re cool, and people want to look like them, even though their music might be shite, but because there’s all this hype around them, they’re seen as cool, and it can be a fashion thing sometimes, that could be why they’re so big, but you should still put your all into the music, because at the end of the day, that is still the most important thing, but like I said earlier, every part of it is so important now, you can’t just go and play your music wearing trackies, even though you may think it looks cool.

If you’ve got a passion for it, then you should take every aspect of it seriously.

Mallory Knox Single Cover



Mallory Knox tour poster


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Mallory Knox band photo

MALLORY KNOX (from l-r): James Gillett (rhythm guitar/backing vocals), Joe Savins (lead guitar/backing vocals), Sam Douglas (lead vocals/bass), Dave Rawling (drums)


Since forming back in 2009, Mallory Knox have firmly established themselves as one of the UK’s top alternative rock outfits, having brought out three critically-acclaimed albums, played a host of prestigious festivals, including Reading and Leeds, and the Vans Warped Tour, as well as amassing a dedicated, sizable fan base.

In February, the band dropped a bombshell, in that long-term frontman, Mikey Chapman was departing with immediate effect, and prior to headlining The Sugarmill venue in Hanley, one of the stops on their current UK tour, guitarists Joe Savins and James Gillett spoke to me, frankly and in-depth, about how his departure has affected them, and also how it spurred the Cambridge collective on to putting together and releasing their recent single, ‘Black Holes’.

How did the band initially get together?

JOE SAVINS (lead guitar/backing vocals): We were sort of in two separate bands, Sam and Dave were in one, me and James were in the other, and it was pretty much a case of those bands coming to an end, and me and Dave deciding to jam together, with no sort of idea of what we were going to do after that, but it became one of the those things that just snowballed.

Before we knew it, we were writing songs, then, we decided to get a bassist in, so that’s when Sam joined, then, we wanted another guitarist, so James came in, and finally, Mikey came along and become our vocalist.

Initially, it was one of those things where we were just recording for fun, basically. We would do the odd gig, and then, before we knew it, there were people coming up to us asking if they could manage the band, and from there, it took off really quickly.

How did you decide upon the name Mallory Knox?

JOE: Early doors, we decided that we wanted our band to be named after a person, because…I dunno…I think it’s easy to get what a band sounds like just by hearing their name, so if a band’s name starts with a “The“, they’re most likely going to be indie, and if, for example, we had called ourselves Tears Of A Bloodlit Skyline, people would presume that we were emo, so if we go down the name route, then it’s quite hard to pinpoint our sound, and for someone to judge us before they’ve even listened to our music.

What are the band’s main musical influences?

JAMES GILLETT (rhythm guitar/backing vocals): I think we all have very different influences, but I mean, early on especially, we were all into sort of 90’s emo, Fightstar, and all that, but me and Joe have always been big fans of Oasis, and the more old-school sort of bands, and Sam’s a massive Blink-182 fan, so everyone’s sort of had their differences, but we are all into what each other are into as well.

Now, we’re more focused on what we want to do, but early on, we tried to put in elements of everyone’s influences, so that’s why you would have pop-punk sections, Fightstar-esque riff sections, things like that.

JOE: Yeah, I think now, if you played someone our new song, and they said that our biggest influences were probably, as a band, Blink-182 and Oasis, I don’t think anyone would put those two together.

Our sound isn’t directly influenced by our influences, if you know what I mean, more like they influenced us to play. It’s a bit of a weird one when we get asked this question, because it doesn’t quite add up to the sound that we actually have.

In February, Mikey left the band. Was it his decision alone to leave, or was it more of a mutual decision?

JAMES: It was completely his decision, and it was something that we actually didn’t want to happen, because we were completely happy with where we were going, and the level we were at, but for him especially, I mean early on, he was never quite happy with where we were.

Everyone else, we were all really contented and pleased of our achievements, but Mikey, he’s different to us in the sense that us four love music, we live it, basically, Sam, when he’s at home, will constantly be thinking up of new ideas for songs and writing them down, and me and Joe will play guitar when we’re at home.

Mikey is a naturally gifted, amazing vocalist, but he never really had to work for anything. I think he was happy to do it as long as he was enjoying himself, but I don’t think it was ever a dream for him, whereas for us, being in a band, playing music to people, and making a living out of it, that’s our dream, and that was the main difference between us and Mikey, really.

He said to us that he didn’t want to do any more music, but it depends on what he does now, he’s off doing what he wants to in life, whereas we weren’t going to let that hold us back from doing what we wanted to do, and that’s why we’re still going now.

Had you known for some time that Mikey was going to leave, or was it sudden?

JOE: We’d known for ages.

JAMES: The first time we knew something was going to happen was just after we had recorded ‘Wired’, and at the time, it was a bit upsetting for us, actually, because we hadn’t seen it coming, but then, there was a period where he was really cool with us, saying that he wasn’t going to go and leave us in it, he would see out the tours and everything, but to a point where we were comfortable enough to go on with him, you know, we respected, and were grateful, of that, it was just frustrating that we were just living our lives for a while, and that’s why when he made the final decision to leave, we actually thought that he would quickly change his mind and stay on, because he had multiple reasons as to why he wanted to go, and we thought that they had changed.

When we asked him again soon afterwards, he was clear that he still wanted to leave, so at that point, the rest of us went, “Let’s write some songs and see what happens“, so we could be best prepared for when we had to announce Mikey’s departure, because we knew that it would put some of our fans’s noses out of joint, and that’s why the announcement was made on, I think, a Wednesday, and then by the following weekend, we had released a new single.

It was kind of like, “Here’s the announcement, we know it’s shit, and a lot of you will be upset, as we are, but this is what we’ve been doing, here’s something new. If you don’t like it, great, if you don’t, sorry.

JOE: I think it was really important to not leave any room for any speculation as to the band’s future.

In the same announcement where we said that Mikey was leaving, we also said that Sam was going to take over as the lead vocalist, because we didn’t want all this worrying about whether someone new was going to come in, and if we were going to go down a different route. We were keen to say that we were going to carry on as before, the heartbeat of the band would remain the same, but with a different voice, that’s all.

We didn’t want people thinking, “They’re crap now without Mikey“, so that’s why we got a new track out very quickly, and make sure that our fans weren’t worrying about what we were doing, basically.

Speaking of the recent single, ‘Black Holes’, how do you think the reaction has been to that so far?

JOE: I think the reaction so far has been outstanding, to be honest, because it’s the weirdest song we’ve released.

There was always going to be a little bit of apprehension, because of course, people can get very attached to albums, and the newer stuff, at first, will not feel the same to them, so it always takes a bit of time for that to become accepted, it’s rather like when somebody new comes into a family, they tend to get rejected to start with, and we sort of knew that it would be like that for us this time, because it was our first release without Mikey.

It was so bizarre, because when we initially brought it out, it was the first time that we were worried that our fans might not generally like us, or our sound, any more, but in the end, I think we were overthinking it, because what we didn’t take into account before was that people didn’t like us only because Mikey was our singer, they actually loved our songs and songwriting.

I mean Mikey never really contributed to the writing of the songs, I think he probably only wrote about 10% of the lyrics across all of our albums, with Sam pretty much doing the other 90%, and the rest of us did all of the music, so our identity has kind of remained the same, and that was another reason why we didn’t want to bring a new singer in, because we didn’t want to change too much.

JAMES: We were fully aware that there was going to be that moment where we then found out which of our fans actually loved the band and the songs, and which of them just loved Mikey, because we were one of those bands that got to where we are now because of the people who liked Mikey, so obviously, if you were a person who liked us solely because of his vocals, then you weren’t going to like the new stuff.

I mean you might do, if you can accept that it’s a new thing, if not, you’re not going to like us any more, if Mikey was a big part of you becoming a fan of the band, therefore, we were fully aware of that, but the passion of us four is now more so than ever.

At shows now, we speak to those who have stayed on and stuck with us, who we’re so grateful for, and they tell us how grateful they are of us deciding to carry on, because even though Mikey was, and still is, a great singer, it wasn’t the be-all and end-all for them, and that’s why we’re still doing it.