Best Years interview

BESTYEARSCOVERRecently 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.

We Are The Ocean – Ark review

Today marks a long awaited day for We Are The Ocean fans – not only is the release of an album in itself exciting, it’s the band’s first full length studio offering since 2012, and the extra time to work on it (previously having pumped records out on a yearly basis) has paid off fantastically. Last month we caught up with bassist Jack Spence before they headed on stage supporting Lower Than Atlantis and, with pride, he promised us development (you can check out the full interview here), and the band have delivered.

Now on a new label and having had some times to collect their thoughts in the past few years, We Are The Ocean feel like they’ve reinvented themselves and come out with a second debut. I know that’s oxymoronic, but they certainly feel like they’ve been handed a new lease of life and are willing to make the most of it.

At the back end of last year, Zane Lowe premiered the opening song and title track, Ark, as his Hottest Record in the World, and from its humble guitar lead beginnings blossomed a Muse-tinted epic that seems designed to be a James Bond theme song.

This polished work feels even more like an opening credits track when you consider the fractured start of the next up, I Wanna Be. Liam Cromby’s vocals dip into a wild and raucous side, think of the punky angst that Slaves are currently coming out with, and the music swoops to follow. It’s a world away from Ark, but its still as bloody good.

Changing direction again, there’s a – dare I say it? – reggae influenced mood to Good For You, and everything from the lusting, seductively distorted vocals to the infectious chorus and heartbeat backing spells out “fan favourite”.

Returning to the pure rock style that’s the gravitational force of the music, lead single Do It Together shows they can still make music that’ll guarantee a mosh pit, whilst sweating, punky, fuzzy Shere Khan returns to the band’s wild side.

From its guitar intro, Hope You’re Well asserts itself as an emotive rock ballad that’ll turn a room into a sea of lighters, with solos that mimic some of the album’s more classic influences. Stepping down the anger a peg or two comes acoustic number Letter To Michael, a personal and heartfelt tribute to Cromby’s father that breaks the album up and add yet another direction to their sound.

Holy Fire builds the power back into the album, with vocals soaring over the mounting percussion and dramatic strings of the chorus, whilst Wild bring back the fun in what’s bound to be another fan favourite, punchy and once again worthy of a mosh pit. Certainly set to be wild.

A summery vibe is hinted at with There’s Nothing Wrong, all the power remaining in the vocals whilst the instrumental steps back to a more simplistic format. The Midnight Law showcases the coated-in-fuzz feel again, before closing five minute Remember To Remember Them winds things up with their developed songwriting capabilities.

As well as refreshing themselves, there’s the feel that this is a debut record’s style in how much of a mixed bag the twelve tracks are. Fortunately, they’ve the benefit of years of experience and although some of the tracks seem opposite in style, there’s a continuity of excellence running through the record.

You can catch We Are The Ocean on tour at the following dates:

MAY

Sat 16 MILTON KEYNES Craufurd Arms
Sun 17 CAMBRIDGE Portland Arms
Mon 18 LIVERPOOL Arts Club
Tue 19 NOTTINGHAM Red Room
Wed 20 PLYMOUTH Underground
Fri 22 LONDON Electric Ballroom
Sat 23 LEEDS Slam Dunk Festival
Sun 24 HATFIELD Slam Dunk Festival
Mon 25 WOLVERHAMPTON Slam Dunk Festival

AUGUST

Fri 28 LEEDS Carling Festival
Sun 30 READING Carling Festival

Wolf Colony interview

Yesterday we checked out the new album from Wolf Colony, which you can read all about here, and we thought we’d have a chat with him about the choice behind his anonymity, the importance of it and how it affects his music.

First of all, tell us about the sort of music you make.
It’s very emotional, I write from my heart not my head. I actually don’t write my lyrics down at all, I hear them in melodies.

You work with producer Neal Sarin – how did you meet and decide to make music together?
We met in college, we became friends and shared a mutual love of music. Naturally that lead to us creating music together, he really pushed me and helped me to become an artist.

You write music under the pseudonym Wolf Colony and choose to remain anonymous – has it always been this way?
Yes, its the only music I ever made. Being anonymous liberates me.

How did you choose your pseudonym?
I relate to wolves and their dichotomy of character, being a lone wolf yet part of a wolf pack. And the colony includes my collaborators and fans, my personal wolf pack.

Some people suggest this is because you’re well known for something else and don’t want the two to crossover – what was you reasoning behind this choice?
That’s an interesting theory, although not true. If I am known for anything then it is Wolf Colony.

Do you think this choice affects how people interpret your work, without having a personality to relate the music to?
Yes I think it does, it affects it positively and sometimes negatively. I just do not want anyone to think it is a gimmick, it’s not. I have legitimate reasons for wearing a mask. One being the separation of my art from myself, the other is too personal to share.

How do you feel the internet has changed fans’ relationship with musicians in terms of knowing all about them through social media?
I miss the old days to be honest, although the internet has helped artists in many ways. But for me the mystery is always grandeur than the truth. These days there is an overflow of information.

How do you get around your anonymity at live shows, especially before and after when fans might want to meet you?
I am very strict about wearing my mask when I am on stage or in pictures, but before and after the show I love meeting people and talking openly.

I presume the album title, Unmasked, is lifted from penultimate track Fame, yet considering your choice to remain anonymous that seems quite paradoxical. Could you shed some light on this album title choice?
Well it’s a statement on how I can “unmask” my soul though my lyrics and music without showing my face. “Fame” takes that further. I do want to be successful and famous, but for my music and art and not for who I am as a person.

That track speaks of a lack of honesty in relation to fame – to what extent do you think the two are linked?
Your previous question about the internet is relevant, there is an overflow of information these days. This unfortunately distracts from the work itself. It can put people off or make them like you for the wrong reasons.

Have you had any particularly dishonest moments you could share?
That’s an interesting question, I try to be as honest as possible. But unfortunately, one has to hide the truth sometimes. I think I am dishonest about certain aspects of my life with certain people, but only when it has been necessary.

And, finally, what’re your plans for the rest of the year?
More music and more music videos. And hopefully touring the US this summer and Europe in the winter.

My Favourite Runner Up interview

We checked out the new video for Never Again, the new single from Welsh rockers My Favourite Runner Up, not too long ago, and we had a chat with them about their hometown, music, and upcoming plans.

We make hard hitting rock music with a feel good vibe. Our main influences include Mayday Parade, Jimmy Eat World and New Found Glory, but we’ve thrown our own spin on it and the modern day rock fan will love it!

What’s the music scene like in your hometown of Aberystwyth?
When we started the band in 2006, it was amazing, inspiring and full of life. Gigs almost every night across town. Nowadays, the only live bands you see are cover bands (with some exceptions) and the music scene is very much Dupstep, House and Drum ‘n Bass. It’s a shame because I love Aberystwyth, but for us to get somewhere, we definitely had to gig out of town.

Do you prefer hometown shows or ones in cities you’ve never played before?
That’s a tough one, because I love our hometown fans. They’re our friends and they’ve supported us from the beginning. We’d be nowhere without them and they’re also crazy at the shows!! But there’s something incredible about playing a new city and seeing new people singing your songs back at you that really makes me feel good. I honestly couldn’t decide!

Your new single, Never Again, was out at the start of this month – tell us about what influenced it, musically and lyrically.
Before we started writing the album, our drummer and lyricist Tom listened back to our 2 previous EPs and noticed that he was writing a lot of the time about similar subjects (mainly frustration about being in a band and wanting it so much and frustration at people who said we weren’t good enough and that we couldn’t do it). So before any lyrics were written, he made a conscious decision to make the songs relatable to everyday people and things we all go through. Never Again is a song about 2 different relationships that have a problem with each other. One is between 2 friends that have known each other a long time and have a deep bond. The other is between one of those friends and her partner. The boyfriend doesn’t like her being so close with another guy and the friend is sick of picking up the pieces for her when she gets hurt by another idiot.

Musically, we wanted something huge and Never Again is definitely massive. We just jammed around the idea and it all clicked into place!

Crossroads, your critically acclaimed full length, was released last year. After the success it had with the likes of Rock Sound and Big Cheese, is there pressure to match that in future?
Definitely. Where to go from there? Well, we are already deep into the writing process of the next record, and this time (for the first time) we are consciously pushing ourselves to make better, slightly cleverer music. I love where we’re going with the new material and I can’t wait for you to hear it!

How was it to have your last single, Poison, played on Kerrang & Scuzz TV, and Radio 1?
It was awesome. I had my friends round mine for a party one night and we had Kerrang TV on providing us the tunes and BOOM, there was us haha! It definitely makes us feel like we’ve got somewhere with this band when we hear or see our music on stations and channels that are so popular.

You’ve played Slam Dunk before, does this mean we can expect to see you on many festivals this year?
I certainly hope so! Slam Dunk was amazing last year. Besides the show itself, I got to meet so many of my idols and finishing the night off drinking Jäger with Tyson Ritter from All American Rejects was just insane! Bring on the festivals is what I say!

What’s been your biggest “pinch me” moment so far?
Definitely standing side stage for Less Than Jake at Slam Dunk and mid song, Buddy Schaub (the trombonist) comes over while playing, grabs two beers off the guitar amp, gives me one and says “cheers” before we both opened them and had a swig and he carried on playing. I was just like “wow”haha.

Finally, what’re your plans for the rest of the year?
Never Again was released on 2nd March, then we hit the road from the 16th to celebrate! Here’s the dates:

16/03 // Manchester – Fac251
17/03 // Derby – The Vic Inn
18/03 // Birmingham – The Rainbow
19/03 // Leicester – The Shed
20/03 // Norwich – The Owl Sanctuary
21/03 // Tywyn – Neuadd Pendre
22/03 // London – Surya

We have LOADS planned for the rest of the year, but for now, it’s a secret so shhhhhhhh.