THE ALCHEMY (from l-r): Sam Ewen (drums), Alex Porro (bass/synth/vocals), Rhys Taylor (lead vocals/guitar), Luke Welch (guitar/vocals)
INTERVIEW by ZAK SLOMAN
Having grown up listening to a diverse range of bands and artists from the worlds of rock, indie, and electronic music, Kent four-piece The Alchemy have used these influences to create, to great effect, a catchy, anthemic sound, which has impressed critics and fans alike since the collective’s formation in 2015, and with their eagerly-anticipated debut album, ‘Chemical Daydream’, coming out towards the end of this month, I chatted to the quartet’s frontman, Rhys Taylor, and drummer, Alex Porro, about this, and much more.
How did the band initially get together?
ALEX PORRO (bass/synth/vocals): The band got together at the end of 2015, following the ending of two previous bands. We decided to join forces after Luke was made aware of Sam, as he was at the same university studying music, and as his group was coming to an end, myself, Rhys, and Luke were looking for a drummer to complete our new project.
How did the name The Alchemy come about?
ALEX: We had a few names, but we eventually settled on The Alchemy as it resonated with us the most, and when said, we felt it had a strong feel to it.
Also, the meaning behind the word, when we later looked into it, reflected us as a band in the way that we bring a wide variety of influences into our music, as well as the four of us all having a part to play in the writing process, much like the practice of alchemy, which was mixing lots of elements to create one.
What are the band’s main musical influences?
ALEX: We have a lot of influences. Everything from modern pop and R&B, to rock and classic stadium bands, examples being Sia, Post Malone, Biffy Clyro, 30 Seconds To Mars, Placebo, and older bands like The Police and Genesis.
What would you say was your approach to songwriting?
ALEX: Like all of our songs, we all have a part to play in its creation, as all of us are songwriters in our own right, and we create in our own time.
To start with, one of us will have an idea for a song, which we will then put forward, and then, if accepted, we will work on that until a demo is formed, which will then undergo changes if any one of us get an idea in which to improve it.
We always approach each song with an attitude of “How can we make this better?“, and I think, by having everybody creatively involved, makes for a better process overall.
What inspires the band lyrically?
RHYS TAYLOR (lead vocals/guitar): The thing with lyrics, I feel, is that they are the statement, the face to the track, the thing that people, I guess, relate to, or put to a moment in life.
When I’m talking about the lyrics in most cases, I never wanna say, “You know this is what this song is about“, but I know personally what I’m writing about or what I am trying to say in the songs, but I do like to cover them in a slightly more metaphorical manner overall, so that people can listen to it and just make up their own mind.
In 2016, you brought out your debut EP, ‘Modern Age’, to an overwhelmingly positive response. Honestly, did that come as a surprise to you all?
ALEX: It was! We didn’t know what to expect, as it was our first release as The Alchemy with a new sound and direction, so to have a great response from every single we put out, even the EP as a whole getting attention in the way it did, we, as a band, couldn’t have asked for a better debut.
Recently, the band unveiled a new single, entitled ‘Better The Devil You Know’. How has the reaction been to that so far?
ALEX: We have had a great reaction. We have had a lot of radio stations pick up the single, and we’ve also had a lot of positive reactions to the video as well, passing 10,000 views in under a few weeks on YouTube, and 17,000 on Facebook, so we’re beyond happy that people are finding our material online and really loving what we’re doing!
The video itself is the second installment of a trilogy story which begins narratively with ‘Better The Devil You Know’.
And the track is taken from your upcoming debut album, ‘Chemical Daydream’, coming out later this month. How was the recording process for that?
ALEX: We recorded in our own studio that we built and run. With the help of our friend and mentor/producer Paul Matthews from the New Zealand band I Am Giant, we recorded everything that is on the album in our own studio from the drums to vocals, guitars, and synths.
Having our own space makes the creative side of recording a lot easier, as we can be in there whenever we want, for as long as we want, and try new things and experiment sonically, and the process was a real learning curve, as it’s the first full length we’ve ever done, along with recording techniques we hadn’t used before.
Rhys is pretty handy in the studio already, but now, he has the experience of engineering a full length LP, as well as producing, so we learnt a lot along the way, which we, as a band, are so thankful for, as we would have never had that sort of experience had we used another studio.
Also, how will the album differ stylistically to ‘Modern Age’?
ALEX: In the LP, we mix a lot more of our electronic influences with most of the tracks having a prominent amount of synths and samples, and we even have a track that’s completely electronic, which is a route we’ve wanted to go down since ‘Modern Age’.
The band have supported the likes of Mallory Knox, I Am Giant, and The Intersphere. How were they as experiences?
ALEX: As a band, we’re always keen to learn from anyone and everyone we meet in the industry, so to have the opportunity to support great bands, let alone ones we admire, and watching how they form a show and their stagecraft, is a golden opportunity.
We’re fans of all three of these bands as well, so it was a real honour to share the stage with them.
And how is it, overall, performing live?
ALEX: It’s an absolute rush. Playing live is what we’re in it for. We love being in the studio and experimenting, but the stage is where we get to let loose and make noise, so we’re always itching to get on tour and play.
We’re fans of bands that really bring a show, so we never hold back, and we even manage to get into the audience!
Lastly, what are the band’s plans following the release of ‘Chemical Daydream’?
ALEX: On April 12, for a week, we will be embarking on a UK tour, starting with a hometown show in Canterbury, to celebrate the release of the LP, followed by gigs in Leicester, Bridgwater, Cheltenham, and Worthing.
We will also be releasing more singles off of the LP, and we will also be bringing out alternative versions of all of our singles, which we are currently recording, and accompanying them will be some live videos.
Then, at the end of April, we will start recording again, so by the end of this summer, we will be ready to blast out all of those tracks.
‘CHEMICAL DAYDREAM’, THE DEBUT ALBUM FROM THE ALCHEMY, WILL BE RELEASED ON MARCH 29, AND FURTHER INFO ON THE BAND CAN BE FOUND THROUGH THE FOLLOWING SITES: