After Georgia Stephenson checked out the new EP from Earl Grey (which you can read about here), she had a chat to Pedro and Lukas of the band about the work, and threw in some more general questions.
Why do you make music that infuses two different genres – hardcore and pop punk?
Because we grew up listening to both genres and wanted to combine them our own way.
What is your favourite song you have recorded on latest EP Passing Time?
It’s the last track on the EP – Haven.
As our website’s readers will be aware from reading the review we published about Passing Time a few weeks ago, you are German natives but the EP is in English – why did you pick this language and not go for your native tongue?
Do you know any bands expect Rammstein who sing in German?
Is one of your main aims to change the way your home nation perceives the alternative scene, and increase the availability of pop punk to German listeners?
Not at all. We actually play the music we love. We didn’t form a band to create a German version of pop punk. It’s just what we want to do right now.
You have stated that you feel that you have taken a ‘big step forward’ with your latest EP from your first one – explain to our readers why you think this.
I think people our age can relate to our songs. I also think we have a unique sound and don’t sound like another band. The thing with the ‘big step forward’ is about the songwriting and structure of the songs. We tried a lot of new things in the writing and recording process.
Have you written any new songs that you are planning to put on a future release?
Yes! Moritz is working on some new songs and we’re gonna work through them in the next weeks. Writing new material is always very refreshing and we’re all looking forward to it.
After you have released Passing Time next month, do you plan to focus on touring & promoting yourselves throughout Europe, or record more music?
Touring! It’s way more fun and the best way to get your name out there. We already have some plans for early 2016 but there’s still a lot of work to do. But we will also start working on our debut album soon.
Inspired by your band’s name, what is each member’s favourite flavour of tea?
Lukas: Turkish Apple
Benny: Green Tea
Would you rather work with One Direction, or Justin Bieber?
If each of you was placed on a desert island, and could only take one album each with you, what would it be and what are the reasons behind your choice?
Tristan: The Story So Far – Under Soil And Dirt
Moritz: Title Fight – The Last Thing You Forget
Benny: The Menzingers – On The Impossible Past
Pedro: Seahaven – Winter Forever
Lukas: Balance & Composure – Separation
Last Thursday saw noisey four piece White Reaper take to Nottingham’s Rescue Rooms on their first UK tour, supporting beach-pop Canadians Alvvays, fresh off the back of releasing their debut album White Reaper Does It Again. Before the show, we had a chat with the band about touring and their forthcoming work.
You’ve had quite a year so far, including releasing your debut album. What’ve been some of the highlights?
Being able to tour the UK for the first time has been incredible, and we had those songs [on the album] waiting for a long time, it was good to put them in the world. We had a great reaction, it was amazing. Being able to tour and make impressions on people everywhere. I love leaving my house.
You spend quite a lot of time of tour.
I don’t know. Not enough.
Is there anything you miss? Any home comforts?
Nope. Not at all.
Okay – I hate to ask this question, but what’s the best show you’ve ever played?
Forecastle. It was our first somewhat major festival and in our hometown. We played Dallas one time and there was no one there but we did really well. That was on our first West Coast tour, that was awesome. Our shows with Twin Peaks were amazing because their crowd was a rocking crowd, that whole tour was really fun.
How’s the UK treating you?
It’s been great so far, a lot of fun. Last night, we were at a gas station getting some beer, and this lady came in and started screaming. There was a line and she just cut across it and this guy had a four pack of Fosters and she just knocked it out his hand and I’m shocked it didn’t spray all over the ground, and she was going on about how everyone was racist, and screaming at Gavin [the band’s tour manager]. Gavin tried to tell her to calm down and she would not calm down. And then as she was leaving she said, “you’re fine though”, and she kisses me on the cheek and she kisses Nick on the lips. That was the weirdest thing so far.
Is it particularly different playing shows here?
The crowds are more observant. I feel like they’re generally more conservative. We’ve never played a headlining show here so we don’t really know, and we don’t really have a lot of fans here yet. We’re very loud, I don’t think the crowds like it very much.
How does it feel to finally have your debut album out there?
Good. Great. We like it a lot better than the thing we put out before that. We think we’ve gotten better since then, we’re happy about it. I honestly feel like we’re twice as good as when we recorded that because it was so long ago. When we get home, we’re on tour till December, we’re going to try and put new music out as soon as we can.
So if there new work on the way?
Oh yeah. Always on the way.
Do you feel there’s been any more pressure on you now you’re on a label?
There hasn’t been a lot of pressure honestly, we’re just as eager as them to put stuff out. They’re pretty chill. They let us do whatever we want, and they sent us over here.
How much can you tell us about the new work?
It’s probably gonna be louder, it’s probably gonna be more simple. It’s hard to describe. It’s like more simple but also more complex, I don’t know. I’ve been listening to our set every night and thinking what I want to change or add. There’s going to be a lot more keys in our new stuff.
And what are your plans for the rest of the year?
Tour. Touring. This is our first tour with Alvvays, then we’re doing a Canadian tour with them. Then we’re doing a US tour with together PANGEA. Touring. And eating a lot of chicken.
Recently I reviewed the sophomore EP Drop Out from the pop punk outfit which I loved, and now you can read why they always wanted to make pop punk music, their career highlight, and if they would make music for a Christmas soundtrack…
What pushed your decision to leave ‘reality’ as mentioned in your press release, and fully focus on committing to the band?
Every band any of us have ever been in had either not worked or run itself into the ground, we all knew that if we dropped everything and focused properly that we could make something of ourselves this time round and so far we’ve done exactly that.
Was pop punk music always the genre you wanted your music to fit in, and for future releases do you want to stay close to the sound you have developed, or explore different sounds?
When we started this was the initial idea, I would like to say “yeah this is what we’re going to do for the rest of our career and it will never change from pop punk”, but you never know what’s going to happen. For now we’re loving it and we want to make a dent in the scene by attempting to bring pop punk back to its roots instead of every band trying to sound like The Story So Far.
What has been the highlight of your band career so far? For me (Ed) I would say playing our first ever show at the Camden Barfly with As It Is which was completely sold out! I’ve seen plenty of bands there over the years and it was pretty surreal. Also having a chance to play with some of my favourite bands from my childhood (Man Overboard).
Where can you imagine the band in a year’s time?
I imagine us still as strong as we are now, even better friends and hopefully smashing it with our newest release… maybe even touring Europe or further. Who knows.
If you were to describe the ‘unique selling point’ of listening to Best Years, what would it be and why?
We’re not trying to be anything we’re not; it’s all natural and we intend to keep it that way. We just want to have fun ourselves and also make sure everyone else does too.
Who would be your dream collaboration?
Dream collaboration would probably be with Good Charlotte/The Madden Brothers, that would be insane and we would be blown away by it I think!
Have you as a band experienced any setbacks – if you have, then how did you learn to deal with them?
We experienced a bit of a setback with being able to afford new gear to gig with and stuff like that, and with only one of us being able to drive it kind of makes it harder to transport all of us and our gear to gigs, but it’s all fun and we have a good time in the Corsa.
If each of you was placed on a desert island, and could only take one album each with you, what would it be and what are the reasons behind your choice? Joel – Yung Lean / Unknown Death (2002), as it is one of the most emotional albums of all time and would be perfect to listen to for the rest of my life in perfect solitude. Holland – Transit / Young New England because it has my favourite track of all time on it and it sums my life up perfectly. Ed – Alt J / An Awesome Wave because I don’t think I could get bored of it and it’s a very chilled and easy to listen to album. James – Anything by the Foo Fighters – they’re the kind of band that really make me think about the important things in life. Berzins – Slipknot / self titled so I would have a good soundtrack to end my life to and I could also throw up those God damn horns – am I right?!
Would you ever consider making a Christmas-themed track, or contributing your talents to a film soundtrack?
Yeah definitely if it was for the right kind of thing and we all felt comfortable doing it – I guess that would be cool! We’ve had friends who have done some film soundtrack work and it hadn’t worked out that well for them but I guess we would try it.
If you weren’t in the band, what would your dream career be? Joel – Film/ Multimedia Camera work. Holland – Navy / Military / Air Force. Ed – Touring Guitar Technician. James – Rubix Cube factory worker. Berzins – Ralph Lauren model.
Drop Out EP by Best Years will be released on the 28th August, and you can listen to Overrated below.
Last week at Hit The Deck, we checked out Tim Vantol and his band, and were so impressed by them that they made it into the top three of our picks of the festival – read the full review here. We also took the chance to catch up with the singer/songwriter himself where he opened up on his lack of understanding in promotion, but his limitless enthusiasm for making music.
My name is Tim Vantol from Amsterdam, Netherlands, and I’m here right now in Nottingham.
You used to be a solo act and you then acquired a band – why did you decide to make the change, and how did you go about choosing the band?
I started solo because I wanted to keep on touring, but then I started to miss the band, and what we did back then was once a year I’d get a band together, I’d grab all these people that I’d met on the road from different countries, get them all back to my place, practise for two days and hit the road, and that last one, I think it was 2013, was such a good one, such a great tour, and then I decided that we needed to do that more than once a year. So I just got some friends, back then it was all from different countries and it’s still a bit spread out, but it’s good right now. Like, the bass player, he’s always been there, I think I will never get rid of him, and I don’t want to get rid of him, he’s a good dude, he’s one of my best friends. the other two guys, the old guitar player left early this year so the one I’ve got now is a good friend who helps out sometimes, and the drummer is a replacement drummer as well, as out other drummer has a good job, a normal life so he can’t come all the time, so he tries to help us out as good as possible. So that’s the story of the band.
So you’re from Amsterdam; do you prefer playing shows where you don’t know the places, or hometown ones?
Well, I don’t play that much in Holland. How come?
Good question. It’s Holland. I play most of my shows in Germany, that’s my biggest market – I hate the word, but that’s a fact. I love Germany, for music it’s such a good country. If I prefer to play shows where I’ve already been or new ones, I think in new places I love to play as a support act for when people are like “I’ve never heard it, but I like it”, that’s the best thing ever. But I also like seeing how things are going – one time you play for five people, next time you play for ten people, it’s a long way but it’s good.
You’ve already played your set here today – we thought it was brilliant, how do you think it went?
Thank you – it was nice. It’s the same as yesterday, you get like ten minutes to changeover and you get to play a set of like twenty five minutes – I love that. I’m not lazy, I love to play a long set as well, but in front of new people I think it’s good to give twenty five minutes full of energy just to give it all that you’ve got, play all the songs that you like the most and get off stage again. Everyone was singing along so it was a nice show for us too. When we play it’s always good, it doesn’t matter what’s going on, cause my friends are there and we have a good time always; maybe if something bad happens or the sound is terrible, then sometimes we’re bummed out, but then sometimes we go out and have a good time anyway. I think that’s the best thing about me in band situation, the guys I have around me, I pick them out, and I don’t want to play with session musicians – I want to do it with friends. Being on stage is tiny little part, it’s twenty five minutes in a whole day, and the rest of the day you want to spend with friends.
Who else are you going to see at the festival, is there anyone you’d recommend?
John Coffey, those are our friends from Holland. They’re good, they’re like an awesome live band, and I really want to see Cancer Bats.
You released the special edition of your album this year – how do you decide what you want on an extended edition?
The special thing was a session record that I released already before. I’m just a guy, give me a guitar and I will play my music, just leave all the “how can we give them extra things”, or whatever, leave all that to other people. I’ve always been like that with this whole music thing, my first ever tour was in the UK as well, and I played on front of five people, sometimes two, sometimes twenty people, and every time you come back, you see they’ve brought some friends, and that’s exactly how it goes for me. I don’t know anything about marketing bullshit, I don’t know anything about promotion, and if people like it, then let people talk with their friends and let them bring their friends and that’s what it’s all about for me, and luckily I’ve got some help from other people and they know how it works. I always start to panic, like, “we can’t do this, I can’t go on tour that costs me money, that’s bullshit”, and they’re like, “yeah, but next time-“, and I’m like “I just want to make music, you guys do whatever you want”. I still have everything under control, but a lot of people know how it goes, and I don’t know how it goes. I just want to make music. If there’s five people smiling, that’s victory, if there’s one person smiling, I’m happy, of course if there’s a thousand people, that’s great, but for us that’s not a difference. If we sell two CDs it’s like, “eh, we only sold two CDs and we have and a long way to go and it would be nice to fill up the gas tank”, but then we’re like “two CDs! Two people got two new CDs! That’s great”.
And finally, what are your plans for the rest of the year?
Well, hopefully when I get home they won’t give me more last minute stuff, like, “I was supposed to write a new record, how the fuck am I going to do that?”, so after this run I return home for one and half months and then I’m back for some UK festivals, festival season, a German run, that’s going to be amazing, and then at the end of the year some things are gonna happen, and then in January the new record will be here and we’ll be all over the place with a fresh start. I’m excited.
Last Wednesday we headed down to check out We Are The Ocean supporting Lower Than Atlantis at Nottingham’s Rescue Rooms – check out our interview with LTA here, and our live review of the show here. Before the show, we had chance to catch up with Jack from We Are The Ocean about the upcoming album and how it’s different to their previous work. Check it out below
I am Jack from We Are The Ocean and we are in sunny Nottingham on the Lower Than Atlantis tour a few hours before we play.
This isn’t the first time you’ve toured with Lower Than Atlantis – long ago, they supported you. How much do you remember from that tour, were there any stand out moments from it?
It was only a five show tour so it’s hard to really get into it in five shows. We’d known them before and after through festivals and just general knowing. Um, no. It was a big tour for us, it was our biggest headline tour at the time and all the shows were great, but it was very short. I think maybe somebody got in a fight at one of the shows… that’s a memory, which isn’t very clear, because I don’t know who, or if it happened at all.
You’ve got an upcoming record, dues out later this year. How much can you tell us about it?
I can tell you everything. Tell us everything.
It’s called Ark, it’s twelve tracks long, we recorded it in Devon where we’ve recorded the last two albums, and we’re excited for everyone to hear it. It’s a bit of a step out of our comfort zone on some songs, but on other songs it’s the normal kind of We Are The Ocean sound. We think it’s got something for everybody, and we’re looking forward to people hearing it.
This is the longest you’ve had to work on an album as well, before it’s sort of been one per year. Has that changed how you’ve written it?
Having more time has meant we were less stressed for a start, and we just had more time to explore different avenues, I think perhaps before when a song was finished we had to be like, “yeah, that’s good”, and we didn’t have time to really explore a song that was kind of straying from the path a bit, whereas this time we’ve let the songs take their natural course. Now we could spend a week on a song and just go, “nah, let’s scrap it, it’s not working”, we had the time to try things out. Sometimes it paid off and we used the songs, sometimes we didn’t. But having more time really meant less stress and more time to explore every avenue and making sure it was as good as it could be, which I think made a better album.
You’ve so far released one song off it; how representative of the album do you think it is?
It’s quite an eclectic album, no one song would really represent the whole album, and even in terms of the themes of the songs and stuff it’s all quite varied so, there’s no one song that would sum it up, we picked a handful – there’s some more songs coming out – between four of them you get a picture of the whole album and how widespread it is. Ark, we think it’s an important one on the album and we’re really pleased with it, and there are other songs like it and others that are quite dissimilar. It is and it isn’t really, I think it’s a sign of progression and how we’ve stepped out of our comfort zone a bit, but in terms of the genre and the style of it, it’s not all as proggy, not in that way.
This single’s already been on Radio 1 – do you think any of the other singles off the album will have the same success?
It’s funny, ’cause that song was never meant to go to Radio 1, it was just like, it was a song that we really liked but it was never a conventional single. It was like four a half minutes long, the chorus wasn’t necessarily the strongest art of it which is a staple point of single, so we never really planned to take it to them, we just released it as a free song on our website and gave it away and our radio plugger thought they’d try our luck with it and then they liked it, so it kind of exceeded expectations. But based on that, a song that we think might do really well on radio possibly won’t, so it’s really hard to tell what can work. It also depends what’s out at the time, it’s not the kind of thing that’s planned a year in advance like. They pitch it and they’re like, “this is what you’re up against”, sometimes you’ll get played, sometimes you won’t, I mean we’re confident that the album appeals to the masses, probably more than what’s been released so far, so fingers crossed.
What else have you been up to the past three years?
We all have our own outside interests so it’s been good to take those up a bit, but a lot of writing, a lot of behind the scenes stuff, we’ve got a new manager, a new label, all of the boring bits that no one really cares about but that are important to progress, lots of meetings. But yeah, we did spend a lot of time writing, we didn’t just sit around on our arses killing time, we were writing a lot of songs, then scrapping and rewriting, months before we went down to the studio. It was nice to be home for a while, because we could say, “let’s have a week off and just go and explore whatever else we want to explore”. We were busy, time kinda flew by to be honest, it doesn’t feel like it’s taken so long.
And what else have you got planned for this year?
This year is hoping looking to be the opposite of last year, playing shows and festivals. We’ve got dribs and drabs of UK runs, a few headline shows, a few in stores and things like that, and the it#s festival season, so we kinda of jump between UK and Europe everyone weekend to do festivals, mainly those to territories. And then after festival season, another UK tour of some description, to be confirmed and announced… it hadn’t even been organised yet, so I can’t tell you anything. The main plan is, because the label really emphasise on the UK and Germany and France and few in Western Europe, the main focus of this year is hopping back and forth between these places and promo in Europe, and then look at other continents next year, I think.