Fiona Stephens

Northshore – Alternative Futures [EP]

Northshore, formed in the UK in early 2017, have already recorded their debut EP Alternative Futures, due for release on 21st August via Scylla Records. With this in mind, the listener will be surprised and how cohesive Northshore‘s sound is, as a newly formed band. The four track EP takes influences from State ChampsThe Maine and Dance Gavin Dance, to name a few. Northshore draw all these influences together and add their own twist to it, making something new and exciting in the world of UK pop punk.

Opening with Read Between The Lines, the catchy riff immediately grabs the listener. The lyrics are relatable, catchy and flow easily throughout the song. The second track is the debut single, Better Days. The juxtaposing cheerful music with the emotional lyrical content really grabs the listener’s attention and is an excellent example of the rest of the EP, and the best choice from the EP for the debut single. The opening track also uses this to some extent, but it is more noticeable in Better Days.

Coming Home is again a relatable song for listeners, the first chorus slowing down and asking ‘When are you coming home? I’ve got so much to tell you‘. The musical content is more dynamic in this track, building up and dropping out as required. The second chorus is more built up than the first. This track doesn’t use the traditional verse/chorus structure, and actually ends at 2 minutes 20 seconds, after the built up second chorus.

The final track, Alternative Futures, goes back to the usual pop punk feeling, and as the title track of the EP would make the best choice for a second single, if Northshore decide to release another track from this EP. Alternative Futures has the best guitar solo out of the entire EP, using musicality over technique, and really flowing with the rest of the song, incorporating themes from the main riff.

Northshore have really released something high quality for having only been together for less than a year. Alternative Futures spells out a promising future for the group, and they are already thinking about their next release. Although they have a tough act to follow with such a good EP, they are sure to outperform themselves and release something even better next time!

[9/10]

The War On Drugs Announce New Song, New Album & Tour Dates!

With six weeks to go until the release of The War On Drugs’ fourth album A Deeper Understandingout 25th Augustthe band present Strangest Thing, their latest track.

You can catch them on their world tour on these dates:

The War On Drugs’ Tour Dates:

Mon. Sep. 18 – Portland, ME @ State Theatre

Thu. Sep. 21 – Philadelphia, PA @ Dell Music Center

Fri. Sep. 22 – New York, NY @ SummerStage in Central Park

Sat. Sep. 23 – Boston, MA @ Blue Hills Bank Pavilion

Mon. Sep. 25 – Charlotte, NC @ The Fillmore Charlotte

Tue. Sep. 26 – Atlanta, GA @ The Tabernacle

Thu. Sep. 28 – Dallas, TX @ The Bomb Factory

Fri. Sep. 29 – Houston, TX @ White Oak Music Hall [Outside Lawn]

Sat. Sep. 30 – Austin, TX @ Stubb’s Waller Creek Amphitheater

Thu. Oct. 5 – Los Angeles, CA @ Greek Theatre

Fri. Oct. 6 – Berkeley, CA @ Greek Theatre

Mon. Oct. 9 – Seattle, WA @ Moore Theatre – SOLD OUT

Tue. Oct. 10 – Seattle, WA @ Moore Theatre

Wed. Oct. 11 – Portland, OR @ Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall

Fri. Oct. 13 – Salt Lake City, UT @ The Complex

Sat. Oct. 14 – Denver, CO @ Ogden Theatre – SOLD OUT

Sun. Oct. 15 – Denver, CO @ Ogden Theatre

Wed. Oct. 18 – St. Paul, MN @ Palace Theatre

Thu. Oct. 19 – Chicago, IL @ Riviera Theatre

Fri. Oct. 20 – Columbus, OH @ Express Live!

Sat. Oct. 21 – Toronto, ON @ Massey Hall – SOLD OUT

Sun. Oct. 22 – Toronto, ON @ Massey Hall

Mon. Oct. 23 – Washington, DC @ The Anthem

Wed. Nov. 1 – Amsterdam, NL @ AFAS Live – SOLD OUT

Thu. Nov. 2 – Amsterdam, NL @ AFAS Live – SOLD OUT

Fri. Nov. 3 – Cologne, DE @ E-Werk

Sat. Nov. 4 – Brussels, BE @ Forest National – SOLD OUT

Mon. Nov. 6 – Paris, FR @ Bataclan

Tues Nov 7 – Lille, FR @ L’Aeronef

Thu. Nov. 9 – Glasgow, UK @ Barrowlands

Fri. Nov. 10 – Glasgow, UK @ Barrowlands – SOLD OUT

Sun. Nov. 12 – Manchester, UK @ O2 Apollo Manchester – SOLD OUT

Mon. Nov. 13 – Manchester, UK @ O2 Apollo Manchester

Tue. Nov. 14 – London, UK @ Alexandra Palace

Wed. Nov. 15 – Portsmouth, UK @ Portsmouth Guildhall

Fri. Nov. 17 – Zurich, CH @ X-tra

Sat. Nov. 18 – Milan, IT @ Fabrique

Mon. Nov. 20 – München, DE @ Muffathalle

Tue. Nov. 21 – Hamburg, DE @ Große Freiheit 36

Wed. Nov. 22 – Berlin, DE @ Tempodrom

Fri. Nov. 24 – Oslo, NO @ Spektrum

Sat. Nov. 25 – Copenhagen, DK @ Tap 1 – SOLD OUT

Sun. Nov. 26 – Copenhagen, DK @ Tap 1

Mon. Nov. 27 – Stockholm, SE @ Annexet

Wed. Nov. 29 – Antwerp, BE @ Lotto Arena – SOLD OUT

NORTHLANE ANNOUNCE HEADLINE TOUR FOR UK & EUROPE

Northlane have today announced The Mesmer World Tour: UK & Europe with support coming from Erra, Invent, Animate and Ocean Grove.

23 NOVEMBER HAMBURG Markthalle

24 NOVEMBER EINDHOVEN Dynamo

25 NOVEMBER LONDON Electric Ballroom

26 NOVEMBER MANCHESTER Academy 2

27 NOVEMBER GLASGOW Garage

28 NOVEMBER BIRMINGHAM o2 Academy 2

29 NOVEMBER LEEDS Stylus

30 NOVEMBER BRISTOL Marble Factory

1 DECEMBER NOTTINGHAM Rescue Rooms

3 DECEMBER COPENHAGEN Vega

4 DECEMBER GOTHENBURG Sticky Fingers

6 DECEMBER BERLIN Bi Nuu

7 DECEMBER LEIPZIG Conne Island

8 DECEMBER KOLN Essigfabrik

9 DECEMBER NURNBERG Z-Bau

10 DECEMBER WIEN Flex

12 DECEMBER MILAN Legend Club

13 DECEMBER MUNICH Backstage

14 DECEMBER ZURICH Dynamo

15 DECEMBER LYON Ninkasi Kao

16 DECEMBER PARIS Petit Bain

 

The Charm, The Fury at Download: The Benefits of Female Vocalists

How have you found the UK metal scene differs from the Dutch metal scene?

Mathijs: It’s very very different, I think the UK scene is all about paying your dues, and it’s very… it’s not dog eat dog but it’s so competitive, and the Dutch scene is a bit more mellow because there’s less competition, and so you notice instantly when you play a show in the UK it’s like… it’s not like you’re treated like royalty here it’s like you have to pay your dues, so here is how we’re going to start you off.

Lucas: It’s like ten other bands are coming to fill that place in for you for free.

Mathijs: Yeah, there’s ten other bands and half of them at least are really good, maybe better than you.

Lucas: Yeah, it’s pretty competitive!

Did you enjoy your set?

Both: Yes!

Lucas: There was so much more audience than we actually expected, because we were kind of early on, and it’s a Sunday and everybody’s hungover… we saw everybody coming from the campsite.

Mathijs: It’s like they’ve come straight from battle, like it’s WWI and they’ve been in the trenches.

I was actually sat outside because I couldn’t get into the stage, your set was awesome! What are your plans for after Download? 

Mathijs: We have a pretty packed festival season, it’s not a full on tour so we’re returning home and after this we’re doing Graspop in Belgium.

Lucas: We’re playing with Slayer this Tuesday.

Mathijs: That’s a bucket list right there!

Lucas: We’re playing in Hungary, Finland.

Mathijs: Finland will be the first time we’re doing Scandanavia which will be great.

Lucas: Czech Republic has a festival called Monsters of Rock. So all of Europe?

Mathijs: We’re mostly played UK and one or two gigs in France and Germany, and obviously the Netherlands because we’re from there, and then we’re doing all these new countries that we’ve never visited before which is really cool.

Are there any challenges that come with being a female fronted band that you didn’t expect?

Lucas: Well maybe not that we didn’t expect, but there are some challenges!

Mathijs: It has benefits and challenges, it’s easier I guess to get in the public eye, but the public eye is gonna be negative, it always is and the first question that they ask is… either they find you not to be deserving of anything, because you’re female fronted and you’re probably shit, or they say the exact opposite, the band us alright but it’s shit because there’s a woman, and people will always frame their opinions based on a woman being in there, so we have to address that first, and then if the music is alright then that’s secondary. But then the benefit is it’s easier to get noticed, but then to get taken seriously it’s maybe harder.

You don’t think you’d have the same challenges if you had a male vocalist? 

Lucas: Different challenges, probably, it would be much harder to get in the picture.

Mathijs: But then, once you start out it would probably be much easier for people to actually listen to the music and see if it’s any good.

Lucas: To look at it without any prefound opinion that people have of female metallists in the music industry… it kind of sucks.

Mathijs: To be fair we get part of it but Caroline gets most of the flack… or appreciation.

Lucas: She gets asked a lot, ‘who are you, are you the girlfriend of the band, are you the manager’ like no, I’m actually the lead singer.

Mathijs: To start off, you’re not in the band, what are you doing here? [Laughs] It gets a bit awkward sometimes.

Do you have any advice for upcoming bands like yourselves?

Lucas: Well, first just set your goals. Do you want to have fun? Do you want to take it somewhere? And then go and do what you want to do. If you want to take yourself seriously like we want to go and get this somewhere, really put every effort in that you can.

Mathijs: Don’t understimate it, it’s very easy to underestimate it, and I think no one in our band ever thought that we were underestimating anything but then when we were thrown into the mix, it was very challenging.

Lucas: What we did from the start was not put anything out that we weren’t totally happy with, so your first track, photoshoot, should be at a level that you yourself are totally confident that it’s right.

Mathijs: Your own opinion should never be ‘this is fine’, it should be ‘this is amazing’.

Which group would you love to support and why?

Mathijs: Probably Metallica. [Laughs]

Lucas: So this is a realistic standard, maybe what we could do in a year.

Mathijs: If I could pick a UK band, I would really love to support While She Sleeps because I feel like they are one of those bands that are refreshing the whole metal sound. They’re the freshest thing coming out of the UK right now and they’re really good live as well.

Lucas: I think our second tour show was with them, and they were nearly as big as they are now.

Mathijs: And they were still kicking ass.

Lucas: We thought they were amazing back then.

So on the flip side, which group would you love to support you guys and why?

Mathijs: Ooh, that’s a hard one!

Lucas: We might actually need to think about that for our upcoming run in Holland, there are some cool Dutch bands.

Mathijs: There are lots of band that are on our level that we would love to support, but we’re not really sure who should be up there as the main act! I still remember at our release show for the previous record, Heart of a Coward supported us in our hometown. Like right now that would be ridiculous, but it was pretty crazy.

Lucas: It’s hard, but the coolest Dutch band are Static.

Mathijs: So our regular guitar player broke his wrist so he couldn’t be here, but our supporting guitar player has his own band and that’s Static. 

 

Keep your eyes peeled for news on The Charm, The Fury!

 

Esprit D’Air Release New Album ‘Constellations’

Since reforming last year, J-rockers Esprit D’Air have gone from strength to strength. Comeback single Rebirth was followed by Guiding Light, both with astonishing videos which are an audio and visual treat for the senses.

Now the band have unleashed their phenomenal comeback album, Constellations. 

You can also catch the group at these locations next year:

Mon 5th Feb 2018 – The Underworld, London
Tue 6th Feb 2018 – Buffalo Bar, Cardiff
Wed 7th Feb 2018 – Mama Roux’s, Birmingham
Thu 8th Feb 2018 – Sound Control, Manchester
Fri 9th Feb 2018 – Jumpin’ Jacks, Newcastle
Sat 10th Feb 2018 – Rockmantic Weekender, Carlisle
Sun 11th Feb 2018 – Audio, Glasgow

Fizzy Blood at Download: World Domination

For those who aren’t aware of you yet, how would you describe yourselves?

Ben: Physically or musically? We’re a rock band!

Ciaran: We don’t mess about, we like riffs, we like grooves and we like everyone to have a good time!

Are you excited for your set?

All: Yeah!

Is this the first time you’ve played Download?

Ciaran: The second time, the first time was in 2014.

Ben: First time this line up!

Paul: The first time for me!

Ben: We played on the acoustic stage last time, we still played a full set.

Yeah, people do that, it’s really odd! So, what’s your songwriting process?

Ciaran: Er generally I’ll come up with, or Ben will come up with a skeleton of a song, and we’ll take it to the group and we’ll deconstruct it and everyone will put their stamp on it, and then we’ll go away and work on the lyrics together and we’ve got a tune! We kind of demo it out first and then we’ll take it to the live setting.

Ben: Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t, but when it does work it’s good.

How did Fizzy Blood start out?

Ciaran: Me and Ben were in a band before when we were teenagers, and that ran its course, and then we decided that we were gonna start a new band, and we found these fuckers, I was studying in Leeds at the time and put ads out for the rest of the band, found these guys, jammed it out and based on the common ground and stuff like that. There’s no fairytale, but we’ve been best buds ever since!

Were you at Leeds College of Music?

Paul: Yeah, I was yeah.

Ohhhh, I auditioned for them but I didn’t get in!

Ben: Ah, I didn’t either.

Well clearly they were wrong! So being based in Leeds, do you have a favourite hometown venue?

All: Brudenell Social Club.

Most people say The Wardrobe, so it’s nice to hear a change!

All: Really?! [seem surprised]

Ben: The Wardrobe is good, it just lacks er…

Ciaran: It lacks a bit of the vibe.

Paul: It’s alright, it’s not bad.

Ben: You take a tenner to the Brudenell and you’ve got your night sorted really!

[All laugh]

What’s the best show you’ve ever performed and why?

Paul: The best show we feel we’ve performed well?

Or your favourite one.

Paul: I think Camden Rocks last week was amazing, but I think disregarding that, we played this show in Korea a couple of years ago and everything was amazing! The sound was amazing, we played really well and the crowd reaction was great!

Ciaran: You threw a t shirt into the crowd and people were literally wrestling over it.

Ben: My favourite this year has been Dublin when we played on the While She Sleeps tour.

Ciaran: Oh yeah, that was sick. Everybody was going crazy and tearing each other to shreds.

How was supporting While She Sleeps?

All: Amazing!

Are they good guys?

Ciaran: They’re awesome, they’re the best guys. They’re probably the most accommodating band we’ve ever toured with, they went out of their way to make us feel welcome, and they taught us a lot and became de facto mentors and took us under their wing. Me and Benji actually got ‘six’ tattoos from Matt on our ankles when we finished the tour.

Oh that’s cool! Have you got any tips for budding artists? 

Paul: Innovate, don’t imitate!

Ciaran: Yeah, be creative, do your own thing, don’t try and copy anyone else and if you do, don’t admit to it!

[All laugh]

Do you guys have an ultimate goal for Fizzy Blood?

Ciaran: World domination.

Ben: That’s the ultimate goal of any band, really! We’re doing this until it’s no longer doable.

Ciaran: Until it’s sad really!

Ben: We enjoy doing it, we love doing it, that’s why we do it, I mean we’re not making any money out of it.

Who does these days?

Ciaran: We’re not in it really for success, I mean that would be nice, but we do it because we love to do it, and it’s a cliche answer but that’s why a lot of bands do it and that’s such a powerful thing.

Apart from Korea what’s the best country you’ve ever played in?

Paul: America, we played South by South West two years ago. Every time we’ve been there it’s been a good laugh.

Ben: I like Germany too.

Simple Plan at Download: A Simple Plan

Which song do you love performing live the most?

Jeff: Um, I’d Do Anything is pretty kick ass, it just gets the crowd going. We’ve been opening the show with that song and it actually really works, it’s one of those – you hear the first notes and you say ‘that’s Simple Plan right there’. It’s a great song, and it’s the song that probably got people’s attention first, Mark Hoppus [Blink 182] sang on it, so it’s a really important song for us.

What influenced you to write music and perform in the first place?

Jeff: The truth is always you want to express yourself and you want to be artistic, but at the same time for us, we just wanted to do all the bands that we loved and saw on the TV and heard on the radio. I remember seeing bands like Metallica playing Monsters of Rock and I was just like ‘maybe someday that’ll be us’, that was the goal. It’s always been about getting out there, touring, playing shows and I think as a musician you want to express yourself and do all that stuff but you also dream about being on those stages as well, and that was it.

What’s been the best part of playing Download?

Jeff: You know what, I’ve never played it, my bandmates have, I haven’t. I was having my second kid at the time so someone replaced me on that particular gig. I never played it but as I said it’s very symbolic for me because as I said, on TV I’ve seen bands that I really love and that I grew up with playing this festival or past versions of it, so it’s important for me because there’s amazing bands today and on the whole weekend, and it’s a celebration of music. I think now more so than ever it’s important that people are going to shows because of everything that’s going on. The kids are courageous, and the parents are even more couragous for letting their kids go to festivals, because there is a threat, you know, and I think what you’re saying by going and seeing your favourite bands is ‘fuck that, I’m not gonna bend over to that regime of fear, I’m gonna go out there and be with people with similar taste as me and I’m gonna celebrate life and celebrate music’. It sounds maybe like overly dramatic but I just saw Rock AM Ring being evacuated while we were playing a set and to be honest it got really real for me. I really felt like ‘oh shit, this is not something on the news anymore, it’s right next to me’. I think it’s serious. But yeah, it’s about music. It’s about loving music, it’s about great bands and it’s also a political statement nowadays.

Do you feel that you still relate to your music in the same way as when you wrote it, being older now?

Jeff: Being old? [Laugh]

Old-er! 

Jeff: I don’t feel old so that probably has something to do with the fact that I’m still playing in a band and I’m still staying very active but um… nothing will beat the feeling that I had when I first heard the greatest bands, when I heard Nirvana for the first time, when I heard Pearl Jam for the first time, I can’t even describe those feelings. These bands said exactly what the fuck I was living, it seems so important my identity was everything I cared about, and I see it in kid’s eyes now, it’s the same for them now. I haven’t felt a connection to a band as strongly as I had in those years, I have to be very honest about it, but I have been blown away by certain bands over the years. I work out to Mastodon, it’s a very very strong exit and escape and I love that band. Biffy Clyro, you have to understand that for us in America, we had no fucking clue that these guys were so huge. They’re just an alternative band in America and they were kind of the band that I discovered and was like ‘I know this band and nobody knows about them and they’re fucking awesome!’ I feel like the first time that I heard Nirvana like I had their CD and I was like ‘shit, this is gold!’ and Biffy Clyro is the same. If anything, that was probably the band that made the biggest impression on me in the last ten years.

Was there a simple plan for Simple Plan?

Jeff: You know that name is probably the shittiest band name ever since Metallica, you know, but when you name a band… well in that particular case we were hoping to change the name. We had a show the next week and were like, ‘oh fuck it, we saw a movie called A Simple Plan, let’s call it Simple Plan‘ and then we’ll change the posters, and it just stuck, and now there’s an afterthought wanting to explain it but the reality of it is it’s just a name. But the afterthought is just to get out there, play shows, travel the world and make records. It sounds all very simple, but for some fucking reason it’s a lot harder than it seems!

[Laugh] So, do you have any particular career highlights?

Jeff, Oh, many! So many, the first time I landed in Japan and I felt like I was in the Backstreet Boys and all the kids were waiting for us, and that around  2003 so I was just a kid. The first time I played New Years Eve in Times Square when the ball dropped down and we were playing right in the middle of Times Square, Mark Hoppus singing on one of our songs, he’s one of our idols. Playing really big shows in Europe, like huge festivals, like Rock AM Park, Rock AM Ring, Prague, we were fucking huge in Praque and I don’t even know how! And playing your hometown arena, that’s pretty sick. Playing with Metallica, having James Hetfield sit at my table while I was drinking wine and just chatting with us like it was fucking normal. I’m like ‘dude, I learned how to play guitar with you’, it’s fucked up. The weirdest thing is when I see kids do that to me, and I’m like, I understand but it’s so fucking weird!

What’s next for Simple Plan?

Jeff: We’re gonna finish touring, we have this 15 year anniversary of No Pads [No Helmets… Just Balls], so we’re still playing shows around that, it was meant to be a couple of shows around it, the release date was 19th March and we’re getting into July and we’re still playing shows! We’re gonna do that probably until September, after that we’re gonna start making a record. We have some material but we feel that we have to keep writing a little bit and recording so, that’ll take us too long again, but we’re Simple Plan and that’s what we do, we nitpick and take too long in the studio.

That’s not a bad thing though! 

Jeff: Well you know, when you’re searching for something you’ve gotta do it properly.

So what have you been listening to lately? 

Jeff: As I mentioned, Mastodon and their new record.

Did you catch them yesterday?

Jeff: No, I wasn’t here, we were playing London.

Oh, they were good! 

Jeff: Yeah I’m sure, they’re fucking awesome! I listen to a lot of Ryan AdamsButch Walker, old blues, fuck a lot of things, I even listen to classical! Newer bands I would say that… what did I get recently? I got a bunch of CDs that I haven’t listened to yet, so that’s pretty much it!

You’ve done a lot of collaborations in Simple Plan, which one has been your favourite and why? Or who was your favourite artist? They’re kind of different questions I guess!

Jeff: We recorded a song with Butch Walker, he’s one of my favourite solo artists, he’s got sort of a cult following, he’s pretty big actually, he’s more known for working as a producer for Avril Lavigne. But oddly enough he’s got his own alternative career, we did a song for a Scooby Doo soundtrack and it was a fucking cool experience working with a guy that I respected so much. Mark Hoppus is a kick ass dude. Sean Paul was pretty cool too, shooting a video with him in Barbados and him just kind of being so chill about it, it just reminded me that it should be fun, it’s not always stressful to do something, he just sits in and does it like he’s the fucking king of the world, and really he is, the king of his world. It was very cool and he’s very humble too.

 

Keep your eyes peeled on Musicology for news about the upcoming record!

 

Silverstein – Dead Reflection

Dead Reflection is the eighth full length album from Silverstein, and is due for release on 14th July via Rise Records.

Launching right into their new album, Silverstein immediately grab the listener’s attention with a catchy riff in opening track Last Looks, which combines heavy rock and post hardcore. Last Looks clearly takes influences from A Day To Remember‘s latest album Bad Vibrations, which has moved away from the pop punk genre and more towards post hardcore, incorporating some elements of metalcore. Following this, Retrograde takes much of the same sound. Another riff centric piece that grows into something heavier, Retrograde introduces the listener into a heavier, deeper side of Silverstein than previously seen.

The album changes again in track three, Lost Positives. The chorus has more of a spaced out feel to it, following from the heaviest riff seen so far in Dead Reflection. To achieve this, the production on this album has been done to perfection, each instrument has a place in the balance of the mix and can be heard even on tiny speakers.

The first track that really interrupts the flow is Ghost, which is not a bad thing. After three tracks that meld flawlessly into each other, the listener is suddenly jarred to attention for Ghost. With a traditionally more metal riff, the post hardcore vocals come as a surprise. The chorus, is of course, spaced out with half time drums, which seems to be Silverstein‘s signature for Dead Reflection.

Aquamarine starts out by sounding more pop punk but moves into something post punk, and actually sounds like Yellowcard for the first half. When the bridge arrives, the instruments get heavier, and the vocals more heated, showing the musical talents of the group. However, the chorus goes back to the post punk sound after the bridge. The heated vocals sound like Frank Carter, and make lead singer Shane Todd sound completely different. This vocal style is repeated later in the album in Demons.

The first slow track on Dead Reflection is Mirror Box, which embraces the post hardcore genre, whilst still maintaining an almost ballad like feel to the majority of the song. It’s a song that lyrically a lot of people will probably relate to as they talk about lost love, and is the first truly different track on the album as it’s not solely based around a riff.

The second half of the album sounds a little boring as the songs channel much of the same vibe as the first few tracks, there’s nothing very new at this point. Fans of Silverstein will enjoy the album, but the casual listener will probably get bored. It begins to pick up again at Whiplash, which is the first track in many with a different riff distinguishable from the rest of the guitars. However by this point, the album is almost over the casual listener has probably already started doing something else.

Finally, Wake Up is the first truly different track on Dead Reflection. It’s one of the few slow tracks, starting with one guitar and soft vocals. Building up through the pre chorus with the introduction of the second guitar and some harmonised vocals, the listener expects a full heavy chorus but doesn’t get one. It’s a song that changes what listeners perceive Silverstein to be.

Overall, Dead Reflection has a few innovative tracks but most of the album feels quite safe, considering content that Silverstein has released before. It would be great to see a lot more variety, we’ve seen Silverstein perform covers on Punk Goes Pop so listeners know they are capable of performing a variety of styles.

Hacktivist at Download: Reaping What They’ve Sewn

On Saturday afternoon in the media garden at Download, Fiona ran into Rich and Josh from Hacktivist. They gave her some solid life advice, as well as a little bit of insight into being a British rap metal band.

Let’s jump straight into it! Rap metal is obviously a very niche area, how did you find breaking into it?

Josh: From my own teenage years to being a young adult, all the kids at metal gigs seemed to go either really techy metal or really hip hop and start wearing tracksuits, the piercings come out and the stretchers heal up, so I feel like there’s still that demographic of like guys who are into rap, but actually used to listen to stuff like Limp Bizkit and Linkin Park.

Rich: These days there’s so much crossover though, because nowadays it’s getting a lot less of ‘are you a greebo’ or ‘are you this or that’ and it’s like ‘what kind of music do you enjoy?’ Most people will say ‘oh you know, a little bit of everything!’

[Laughs] That’s literally the standard answer.

Rich: Erroneously, but most of them have a good heart.

So were there any specific barriers or challenges or anything that you guys faced?

Josh: Oh yeah, totally.

Rich: Purists. Sonisphere France was a particular… [IronMaiden headlined Sonisphere France, the whole first six rows was just Maiden fans.

Josh: Yeah, it can be pretty tough to place us, like a lot of promoters and people who put on shows don’t really know who to put us on with, if there’s any other band with guitars and rappers it’s usually that, even if they’re the complete other end.

Do you have any advice for upcoming bands who are similar to yourselves?

Josh: You can use crisps to spread butter because venues never provide cutlery.

Rich: Make sure you pack flip flops on tour.

Josh: Hmm, yeah, actually very handy.

Rich: Or basically just practise all the time and just get to be the best.

Josh: Get real real used to eating sandwiches. If you can get to peace with that, then you’re halfway there.

That’s pretty sound life advice to be fair [laughs].

Rich: If you can eat sandwiches for breakfast lunch and dinner then you’ve literally made it in the music scene.

Josh: Yeah.

How did you go about choosing a new singer to replace Ben, who left this year? 

Josh: Um… it was an interesting process, we had quite a few people apply from metal bands and different scenes. A lot of people were like ‘yeah, we could do something really interesting’ but we didn’t want to lose the niche-ness and become another heavy band with heavy vocals. So, Jot is someone we’ve all known from Milton Keynes for quite a long time, he featured on the first album, so we had a bit of working history as well. He messaged us, we didn’t know he’d be up for it, but he said ‘what do you reckon?’ and we were like ‘yeah, actually that would work real nice’.

Rich: He’s usually based in France, so that’s why some of us discounted him, but then the more and more you start thinking about these things it’s like, it’s only a flight from wherever to Luton, or if we’re out in, for example when we’re playing in Belgium that’s like an hour drive from where he actually lives.

Josh: It’s literally like five times more expensive to get to Manchester.

Rich: So yeah, the previous history just showed that it worked out back then.

Josh: It’s a testament to modern technology and the future, it’s possible to be a band across different land masses, thanks to stuff like Whatsapp and Dropbox and other web services that are available.

Rich: And migration, until it’s not!

Josh: Yeah that’s gonna be a real pain in the arse, but we’ll deal with that bag of shit when it comes around.

So is he bringing a fresh perspective to the group?

Josh: Yeah, he’s given us a proper kick up the arse, because he’s bringing new stuff in, and he’s listening to the stuff that we’ve got already and he’s getting us all excited about it again. Everything is going in the right direction, and I’m excited about the end of this year.

What’s your personal favourite band that you’ve ever supported?

Rich: Limp Bizkit for me.

Actually I saw them this year, they’re really good!

Rich: We played one show with Limp Bizkit and it was over in France, but they were one of my favourite bands from when I was a teenager, so being able to watch them side stage and have a bit of a chat with them afterwards was a big moment for me personally.

Josh: [EnterShikari still stand out as one of the finest live bands in the UK, and just some of the nicest guys to play a show with, they’ll always make you feel entirely at home.

Rich: I feel like I’m taking something away from [EnterShikari by saying Limp Bizkit.

Josh: It’s obviously a given. We’ve been lumped in with those guys and I’ve got zero problems with that, because they’re an awesome band. If there’s anyone to stick to, it would be [EnterShikari.

Rich: Maybe someday we can all get a joint house together. That’s a plan.

What’s your personal favourite group to have supported you guys?

Rich: Oooooooh.

Josh: I was a big fan of The One Hundred. Those guys are smashing it now. Maybe my opinion is skewed, because I just like bands that are nice guys, because it’s a lot of fun to play gigs with nice guys, even bands that you don’t really like, if it’s a nice group of lads you’ll go out and watch them.

Rich: Asteroid Boys for me I think, they’re a bunch great lads as well, and the music, especially when we’re talking about supporting and stuff, the cross over element with our two bands is really good, so obviously they’re really serious about their thing as well, they slay it and they’re good boys!

Josh: Amen!

[Laugh] What’s your songwriting process, particularly with the new guy Jot as well?

Josh: So it’s pretty studio based, which I think is pretty common across a lot of modern bands. It’s affordable to actually have your own studio, if you’ve got about £200 you can get yourself a set of speakers and an interface. We started off there investing in the band and investing in ourselves. We’ve got Tim and runs his own studio and he’s actually a really talented producer. We spend a lot of time hanging out with Tim. When you’re writing the techy choppy stuff, it doesn’t sound very rock and roll but it’s a lot of hours banging your head against a computer desk, figuring out what works and what doesn’t. It’s maybe more scientific than just rocking up, smoking some doobies and jamming out.

Rich: It’s less of a jam and it’s more formulaic.

Josh: And again because you’ve got the home studio, when you say that nothing’s ever finished and you’ve got to let it go, if you’ve got your own studio you can do version 56 and just adjust a tiny thing.

Rich: You’ve just got to submit it.

Josh: And then you realise you’ve sent the wrong thing at the wrong speed. Or sent it as a jpeg.

[Laugh] Do you have any musical recommendations for our readers?

Josh: If you’ve not checked out The One Hundred or Asteroid Boys, they’re wicked. I imagine if you listen to us you’ve probably heard of Issues, that’s a band we’ve toured with and that’s a great great band.

Rich: I feel like it doesn’t need to be said but Sikth? Do people not know about Sikth? If people don’t, shame on them, they’re always tight, so watch them live.

Josh: Ok here’s a nugget, Fell Silent. They’re a band from Milton Keynes that a lot of people haven’t heard of, but they’re like MeshuggahMeshuggah had a big name by the time Fell Silent came about but they were one of the first bands of that type, it was Fell Silent and PeripheryPeriphery went on and did great things, Fell Silent split up and became TesseracTMoment and Heart of a Coward, so if you haven’t heard of Fell Silent, their first album Hidden Words is the blueprint for most bands out at the minute.

Last question, any plans for after touring?

Rich: Writing.

Josh: Drinking… I mean writing.

[Laugh]

Rich: Lots of writing, because now we’ve got the line up all sorted, we’re gig ready and stuff now, so we stepped up to get that bit, so now it’s material.

Josh: Reaping what we’ve been sewing.

Rich: Or sewing, to further reap. Further reapage.

 

If you haven’t heard Hacktivist‘s debut album Outside The Box, it’s available now!