Interviews

Awake At Last – Interview

Monday 30th April 2018

Awake At Last are a band that I’m always stoked about interviewing.  Each time we catch-up there seems to be a constant leap forward, as they continue to tour hard and perform even harder.  Life on the road is a big part of what these guys are all about, connecting with fans, and bringing their music to as many venues and stages as possible. They released their EP “Life/Death/Rebirth” a few months go now, which you seriously need to get on your radar if you haven’t given it a listen yet. It landed at #48 on the Active Rock Charts, stacked up over 100k streams on Spotify, has been requested by fans and spun on a number of radio stations, including SMX Octane!

Hello! It’s been over 2 years since we last spoke and it seems as though so much has happened since then. How are you all and what’s new for the band? 

We have all been doing great!  We’ve been able to keep a slow and steady climb as we continue to tour all over the country and interact with what is proving to be one of the most amazing fan bases ever.  We have a lot of ideas as far as branding is concerned and hope to put out some new music soon.

Your latest EP “Life/Death/Rebirth” has been out for a number of months now. How have you found the response to your music so far? 

It seems like our fans have been loving it.  It’s also been pretty well received by newer audiences and people who may not necessarily be into our genre.  I think that people dig the individualistic nature of the sound because they can’t really peg it as a certain genre, which makes it super exciting to know that we’re developing a sound all our own.  I’ve been blown away at how much support we’ve seen since the release.

You did a lot of funding for the EP through Indigogo. How was that experience and is it a platform you would consider using again to fund for future releases? 

I really like the idea of Indiegogo because it gives those fans who really love what we do a chance to be a part of those early phases and reap some rewards as a result.  I think that with the current meta of the internet, if bands and fans interacted more through 1 on 1 interactions, you can build the kind of fanbase who will always support and help build your career.  It becomes this amazing connection and it really helps with all the pressures of being an unsigned independent band.

You seem like a band that are constantly on the road touring your music. Do you enjoy life on the road, and how has playing so many shows helped your live performances? 

I love being on the road a lot.  It’s definitely not for everyone, but once you get into that mindset of waking up every morning with goals, and a plan to execute it becomes very liberating.  The more we play on the road the tighter the band gets and the tighter our bond as a band gets.  It’s my favorite aspect of what we do.  Even though the corporations have managed to almost turn our country into a giant shopping mall I find that the adventure is in the people you meet.  Interacting with all the people who love what we do, and even the new ones we just meet is extremely rewarding.

What about how you’ve evolved as a band? I’m constantly impressed by your drive, but what has been your main focus with “Life/Death/Rebirth?”  

We just want to continue to elevate and inspire people to pursue fulfilling lives, and do what they love and find a way to make a living doing so.  If we can be living examples that manifest destiny, and the law of attraction work then I hope that people will find the strength in themselves to also do what they love.  It’s too easy to get caught up in the societal machine of everything.  Depression and anxiety are at an all time high because people are taught to make the safe choices.  We want to light a spark in those who decide that making the adventure of your life about what you love doing the most is worth every trial and tribulation.

How are you feeling about performing at this years Vans Warped Tour? That’s got to be an experience for any band, and even more so knowing it’s going to be their final year. 

It’s an immense honor to be amongst the final bands to perform in the final warped tour.  It’s always been a huge staple in our scene and meant a lot to us individually as we grew up in the days when we thought it would never end.  I’m going to embrace and live that experience up to the fullest and continue to carry the torch for the bands of the genre, in hopes that even as warped tour fades, new festivals will rise to take its place and we can continue to evolve the music scene.  When one door closes, thousands open.

Spending time with your fans is something that you like to do after a show. How important is it for you to connect with your fans in this way? 

It’s one of the most important aspects of the band.  We wouldn’t exist if we didn’t have our amazing fans supporting us and helping us continue to live our dream.  We’ve been on shows with other bands where they will hang out at their vans all day before playing, but I think they’re missing out on one of the best parts of being a musician.  I’ve had amazing conversations with fans and it’s always made all of the hardships worth it.  It also creates a closeness with us and our fans and makes us feel like a unit.  It’s something we’ve always loved doing, and hopefully something we can continue forever.

I have to ask you about your single “Never Be A Memory” and the decision behind it being a stand-alone track? It’s a great song but hasn’t made it on to any of your EPs. 

Questions, and Never Be A Memory were both recorded and written during a transitional phase in the band.  In a lot of ways we were still trying to figure out what direction the band was going to go and after doing so it helped us figure it out.  It wasn’t necessarily meant to be a stand alone, it still resonates within the theme of doing what you love and pursuing your dreams, it was just built during a transition period, and when Life Death Rebirth ended up being a concept album there wasn’t really room for it on the EP.  But it’s still a fan favorite, and I’ve always dug the song.

Do you have much downtime outside of the band and are there any hobbies or other interests that you enjoy? 

The band keeps us pretty busy, but since we’re still independent and unsigned we all work jobs as well.  We all enjoy hanging out and we all have different vibes that we get into when we aren’t in the band. I know I dig role playing games, some of the others like the beach and such.  For the most part the band stays pretty focused on music because it’s the driving force behind who we are.

What are your plans for the year ahead, and what do you hope to achieve? 

I’d like to see the vision start to really come into itself.  We’ve been working on some new songs for a while and with any luck I’d like to see a release in our near future.  There’s a lot of branding and thought that has gone into this full length record.  I have a vision for what I hope it will accomplish and look forward to finding ways to bring the pieces together to make it happen.  With that I’d like to get a bit more visual and really help to tell the story of what we do, and why we do it hopefully inspiring others to pursue their passions and dreams as well.

Connect with Awake At Last via their WebsiteFacebook and Twitter

Michael Mancuso – Interview

Sunday 29th April 2018

Creating authentically fun pop music, Michael Mancuso’s songs have the ability to resonate with any listener from the first note. Describing his sound as, “A mix of Justin Bieber, Nick Jonas, DNCE and Ariana Grande,” his work is an extremely powerful blend of today’s Top 40 Pop. Michael’s new single “Give It To Me” marks the beginning of a sexier, edgier chapter in his career. “Let’s just say I was going through a dry spell in my love life. My producer/co-writer, Dan Whittemore decided to play me a track that he had been working on. When he played it I freaked out! I immediately thought of a melody line for the chorus. When I sang it over the chords, Dan got just as excited as I was. From there it came time to decide what we were writing about. Even though we laughed, we both knew it was a fantastic idea and ‘Give It To Me’ was born.”

Photo Credit: Monty Limon

You’re the first artist that I’ve interviewed who has been part of an award winning a cappella group. Could you tell me more about the experience, and how it came about?

I joined The SoCal VoCals at the beginning of my 2nd semester at USC. I was inspired by the level of musicality each member possessed and felt extremely motivated to become better in every way so that I could keep up with the sheer talent in the group! I can tie almost everything I’ve done professionally back to the people I met during my time as a VoCal. While in the group, I got the opportunity to perform at the Beacon Theater in NYC, the Hollywood Bowl, the Queen Elizabeth Stadium in Hong Kong, and the White House during Obama’s presidency. I also toured Florida, Hong Kong and London. Other notable things I did with them include performing at the world premiere of both Pitch Perfect 2, singing at the BMI Pop music awards honoring Taylor Swift, opening for Chris Martin from Coldplay for the Universal Pictures executive retreat, and much more! I wouldn’t trade my time in the group for anything. Those people and the memories I made with them will last me a lifetime!

What music did you listen to when growing up, and has there been anyone in particular who has inspired you to make a career out of music?

One of my biggest musical influences growing up was a group called The Canadian Tenors (who later changed their name to The Tenors). One of the members is a man named Clifton Murray. He was my musical idol! To this day, my friends still tell me that my belt sounds similar to his. I’ll truly know I’ve made it when I get the chance to share the stage with him.

Could you tell me about your writing process? Being a solo artist do you have anyone to bounce ideas off of?

I thrive in collaborative situations! I rarely write alone. I find that if I don’t have someone to bounce ideas off I can’t get out of my own way. To this day I have never released a song that has been written 100% by me, and I couldn’t be happier about that!

To break down my writing process a bit, I usually start with a conversation. I try to find common ground between myself and the person (or people) I’m collaborating with. I consider myself to be a pretty open book, but in sessions there really isn’t anything I won’t talk about! I feel like the only songs that have a chance of going somewhere are songs that come from an authentic place, so I try to find a genuine angle on a genuine topic that everyone in the room can put some real emotion into. Once we have a few chords that we all agree on, I like to try to find a melodic line for the verse, pre and chorus. After the chords and basic melodic structure are locked in, I like to get going with lyrics and finish up the song!

Your single “Give It To Me” has been released for a few days now. How are you finding the response to your music?

People have received the song so well! Every now and then I get tagged in an Instagram or Twitter post that’s related to “Give It To Me” and it really makes my day.

Will there be an accompanying music video for the single?

Yes! We will be premiering the music video soon, so stay tuned!

How does “Give It To Me” compare to your previous material, and how do you feel you’ve grown as an artist?

Give It To Me is a true single, in the sense that it doesn’t necessarily reflect where I was or where I’m going as an artist. But, truth be told, I loved the song so much I couldn’t leave it unreleased. I truly enjoy the pop-rock vibe of the track and the energy of the chorus, but my music following this will be as close to main-stream pop as I can get! Very excited to have “Give It To Me” out in the world, but also extremely excited to share my next couple of songs.

Are you looking to release an EP or album in the near future?

As of right now, no. I will be releasing songs 1-by-1 as singles!

You enjoy creating memorable moments for your fans, such as responding to messages and taking photos. How important is it for you to interact with your fans in this way?

It is probably the #1 reason I want to be “famous”. If people are kind enough to show me and my music love, I would love nothing more than to interact with them and thank them personally for making my dreams come true. I want to be known as the guy who accepts random invitations to things like birthdays/weddings/parties, surprises sick fans wherever they are being cared for, and takes time to stop for any selfie or autograph.

Word has it that you’re a gamer in your spare time. What are you currently playing?

I’m definitely on the Fortnite bandwagon. I don’t have a ton of spare time now-a-days, but when I do have a minute I love jumping on my Xbox and playing with a few friends from college!

What have you got planned for the year ahead, and do you have any tour dates lined up?

No tour dates yet to speak of, but I’m actively searching for a booking agency to help land me an opening act position in either the USA, Europe or Southeast Asia! Follow me on Instagram to see who I sign with and where I end up going!

Connect with Michael Mancuso via his Website, Facebook and Twitter.

The Lids – Interview

Monday 23rd April 2018

Combine songs about teenage love affairs and riff heavy choruses and you’ll get the majority of young bands these days. Add the energy and connection of two brothers, anthemic tunes and support from the likes of This Feeling, Hot Vox and Soundhub Studios and you’ll get Rhys Butler, brother Liam Butler and brother from another mother Sam Deas – aka Leicestershire’s three-piece indie rock band The Lids.  The Lids have been making all the right noises recently, being dubbed as ones to watch in Leicestershire, playing Tramlines and Y Not Festival and recently announcing new single “Delectable”, which dropped on the 20th April.

Your new single “Delectable” is due to be released on the 20th April. How are you feeling about getting new music out there?

It’s very exciting for us because the song is completely different to anything we’ve done before and there are so many more elements to it for people to enjoy, so yeah it’s very exciting and we’ve also got two more all recorded so we can’t wait to bring them out too.

What’s the story behind the single?

It started with Liam just playing around with bass riffs at first and then he brought what he had to practise, and over time we added the guitar and drums and eventually the synth until we thought it sounded good enough to record.

Who did you work with for the accompanying music video, and where was it shot?

We worked with a videographer called Marcus Langford. He’s local to us but he’s done an absolutely mad job on the video we’re really happy with it. It was all shot locally to us as well because we knew a fair few places that would work with the theme of the video, but Marcus knew exactly what to do as soon as we decided where to go so it all worked really well.

Can you tell me about your writing process, and how you work together to create the final track?

We have an unwritten rule in practise whereby if anyone says “let’s write a song”, we go back and play our normal set list because it never seems to work as well as if its more natural. Liam or Rhys will play a riff they’ve thought up and if it sounds good we’ll try and build on it. We don’t know why but that’s just how it works!

Are you looking to release an EP or album in the near future?

Erm, hopefully yeah! We’ve got songs recorded and we’re always trying to write more and find new sounds that work so yeah an EP or album is definitely in the pipeline.

Which bands have inspired your stage presence, and are there any bands you model yourselves on? You’re penned as giving some of the most high-energy performances.

There aren’t really any bands in particular, we just feel that if we look like we’re enjoying it then hopefully that has an effect on the crowd, and they can enjoy it with us!

You’ve been discovered by Christian Fuchs and collaborated with him on his clothing range #NoFuchsGiven. How did the opportunity come about, and what have you been working on?

We met Christian at a meet and greet in Leicester and we got onto the topic of the band and played him a couple of tracks and he really like our stuff, and was keen to work with us! It was unbelievable for a guy of his calibre and a company as big as NoFuchsGiven to want to work with us, but it’s a good thing we’ve got going, it’s just about promoting each other as much as possible and helping each other out.

It’s great to hear another Leicestershire band doing so well. What are your thoughts on the local music scene, and are there any venues in particular you enjoy performing at?

Leicester’s music scene is jammed with seriously talented acts that can go a very long way, so it’s great for us to be a part of something that’s created so many great musicians. The O2 venues are always amazing to play because you’re playing to a lot more people than usual, and the sound quality is amazing, but then so is The Cookie on Leicester High Street because it’s so well known not just locally but further a field too, and you always get a great reception when playing there which is why it still attracts huge names.

Do you have any recommendations of other local bands or artists to watch out for?

There’s so many yes, there’s Easy Life, who have completely blown up and are completely different to anything you’ve heard before but have quite rightly taken the local music scene by storm! There’s Magique too who again are creating a new and fresh sound for people to enjoy and again absolutely killing it! There’s so many it’s great to be a part of it, with our good pals from Arcades too it’s pretty exciting for everyone!

What’s the ultimate aim for the band and where do you hope your music will take you?

We’ve always said Glastonbury would be pretty cool! Aside from festival hopes and big gig hopes we’d like to release a full album at some point that would be amazing, but it’s not something we’re going to rush because when we do release our first album we want it to be as good as we can make it.

Connect with The Lids via their Website, Facebook and Twitter.

Austel – Interview

Tuesday 17th April 2018

Having spent the majority of her time dedicating herself to music, Annie Rew Shaw learnt to play piano from the age of 5 and is also classically trained.  She was part of a jazz band at school and also spent time as part of a musical theatre group. Instead of going to University, Annie decided to move to London to continue to pursue her musical career further.  She has since gone on to perform at Glastonbury Festival and support artists such as Fleet Foxes and Rumour Cubes, to name a few. Now, working under her alias as Austel, sees Annie release her debut single “Crows”, a beautiful expressive track, which relates to the anxiety felt within the unknown.

Could you tell me a little bit about yourself? How did you become a singer/songwriter, and what made you decided to make a career out of music?

I started learning the piano when I was five and was classically trained in both piano and singing. Music has always been a huge part of my life – my parents are both musicians and it was a huge part of my childhood. I was in my school jazz band and went to a musical theatre group for years, so grew up on quite a healthy mix of genres. I always wrote little songs and poems growing up, but started thinking about them more seriously when I was around 12. I had quite a tough time at school and songwriting was a real release – a way to gather my thoughts and find my own way. I loved acting and writing at school, but music always had that extra pull for me. It’s always felt like a very natural part of who I am, and in that way I guess it was an inevitable path. Instead of going to university, I decided to move to London and make a go of it, and I’ve been here ever since! It’s not always easy finding the balance between making music and making rent, but I can’t imagine doing anything else.

How would you describe your music, and where do you take your inspiration from when writing your songs?

For most of my life, I’ve written songs on the piano or guitar, so they’ve often had that singer-songwriter, folky feel. However, in more recent years I’ve started to experiment with more electronic soundscapes and writing from bass lines and beats. So I think Austel is a real mixture of that – classic songwriting with dark, electro-pop vibes. I take a lot of inspiration from human emotion and relationships – not just those with people, but with ourselves and the world. I’ve always been quite a sensitive, empathetic person; I soak up a lot of what goes on around me. I also get really inspired by books, TV shows, art – anything that evokes a story or strong sense of relatability.

You released your single “Crows” a couple of weeks ago. How are you finding the response to your music so far?

It’s been amazing to release my own music after years of working on the sound and trying to find the right home for my songs. There’s been a great response to the single so far – some really lovely reviews in the press, which is nice to see. It feels great to get the ball rolling.

What’s the story behind the song?

I wrote ‘Crows’ with Adam Stark (my producer and bandmate) at the end of 2016, which was a year where I’d had to make some big personal decisions and change a lot of things in my life. The song felt like a new beginning; not for the project but also a mindset – that I could let go of the things that were holding me back.

There are only 5 lines to the song, which are repeated throughout. Was that intentional?

It’s designed to be a kind of mantra; ‘I don’t have to go where you go / I don’t have to speak when you don’t’ was a reminder to myself to seek inner strength and follow my own gut, rather than constantly seeking the validation of others.

The accompanying video is simple and effective, and works really well with the song. Who did you work with to create the video, and how did it feel seeing it finished?

Thank you! It was directed by my friend Dominique Croshaw, who’s a brilliant visual artist in her own right. We made it together in Kingston last year and it felt great to release it alongside the single. The video’s designed to represent the notion that sometimes you have to fall apart to put yourself back together again in the right way. It’s a continuous journey and about finding peace with the different parts of yourself.

Are you looking to release an EP or album in the near future?

Yep, there’s an EP on the way this summer! It’s called Unfold – I can’t wait to share it with you.

You have quite a background supporting other artists. Could you tell me more about your experiences and who you’ve enjoyed working with?

I moved to London a few days after my 19th birthday, only knowing two people in the city. That year, I played Glastonbury Festival as part of a project formed by Sam Duckworth (Get Cape. Wear Cape. Fly), and it was through that that I met an amazing group of musicians (including Adam and Terry who both perform in Austel) and my other collaborations have all stemmed from there. I’ve had some amazing experiences – supporting Fleet Foxes last year with Lyla Foy, touring the UK with Rumour Cubes and Munro Fox, performing gigs of all shapes and sizes across the city. I love all of the projects I’ve been part of. They’ve helped me grow so much as a musician and a human being, and introduced me to some of my best friends.

What do you get up to when you’re not writing or performing, are there any particular hobbies that you enjoy?

I love writing and drawing – they’re both also pretty important creative outlets for me. Long walks listening to records. Reading. Art exhibitions, museums, gigs, theatre shows. Brunch. Can brunch be a hobby?

What’s your ultimate aim and where do you hope your music will take you?

I think my ultimate aim is to create music that makes people feel less alone. To create some sort of relatability – a connection. That’s what I personally love about it; how songs can lift you up out of the darkest places, wrap themselves around you or help you tap into feelings you can’t make sense of. In terms of where I hope music will take me, I would love to be able to travel and see more of the world. Meet more people, create amazing memories. Making music with people I love is the best thing for me and I’m very grateful to be able to do so.

Connect with Austel via her Website, Facebook and Twitter.

Edenthorn – Interview

Monday 16th April 2018

Hailing from Durham, alternative rock quartet, Edenthorn are due to release their second album on Friday 20th April, and following on from the huge response they’ve had to the singles they’ve already put out, all the signs are pointing in the right direction for this to be another storming release. “Exist” displays the bands ability to write and produce incredible music with a solid rhythm and tight harmonies. “Our main aim is to make sure that our listeners never get bored.” States Edenthorn bassist and backing vocalist Faiba Gardner. “There is nothing worse than listening to an album where every single song sounds like the song before. We don’t like to stick to musical trends, we just like to write good honest music from the heart. We strive to keep the listener entertained, and to take them on a journey with us through our music.”

Could you tell me about your latest single “Mind Like A Minefield” and the meaning behind it?

This is influenced by the experiences that we’ve all had with anxiety and panic attacks and generally stressing and overthinking things. The idea of battling with yourself and your mind, a war within yourself/your mind. But the positive message is ‘I will defeat it, I can beat it, In the end I will win’ the war within.

Who did you work with for the accompanying music video, and how did it feel seeing it complete?

We worked with Ross Hannon of Aytball Film for “Mind Like A Minefield” and our previous release; “Heart’s Still Beating” as well as our forthcoming single “The Unknown”. It is always an interesting and enjoyable experience working with Ross. He is very artistic and creative in terms of putting visuals together, so when we’re actually on set you always get the feeling that the end result will be impressive.

You’ll be releasing your album “Exist” on the 20th April.  How are you feeling about getting new music out there, and are there any tracks in particular that you’re excited about being heard?

Judging by the reaction to the first two singles we have released, which have both been extremely well received, we can’t wait to see what reaction we get from the rest of the album. We all have our own favorites, so that is a difficult question but we’re looking forward to our next single release “The Unknown.”

How easy was it to pick the final 11 tracks, and were there any that didn’t make the cut?

There were 14 tracks in total, so 3 didn’t make the final cut. That’s not to say they were weaker tracks, we just felt they stood strong enough on their own either to release later as stand-alone singles or material for the next album.

Could you give me an insight in to the album, and whether there is a theme or a story behind the final tracks?

We never really discussed a theme or story for the album but without us knowing its seemed to have developed into a story of existence, hence the title “EXIST.” Tracks 9,10 and 11 were deliberately placed together as a trio as they are all based on the different stages of loss and grief. As a whole a lot of the songs are based on self awareness, life and existence!

What was the decision behind self-releasing the album, and do you feel this has given you more freedom?

Up to now we’ve enjoyed the freedom of writing, recording and releasing music in our own way and in our own time, it wasn’t really a decision, we just aren’t currently in contract with anyone so it’s by choice as much as it is by that fact. That’s not to say we’re against releasing music under a label in the future, should there be a suitable offer that we feel will benefit us. These days however, a lot can be achieved on your own, so at the moment we’re utilising and exploring all of the avenues in which we can do that to the best of our own abilities.

How would you say this compares to your previous material, and how do you feel you’ve developed as a band over the years?

We would say it fits well nicely with our previous album. This is now our second full length release, both albums have been 11 tracks long. We played a launch show in celebration of the upcoming release and we played 6 tracks from debut album ‘The Maze’ and 6 from the new album ‘Exist’. So that kind of shows we still believe in our previous material as much as the new songs. We have progressed in terms of sound and production for sure. Each time we record we have new skills and knowledge learnt from the last time. We self-produce as well as self-release, Dylan (Lead Guitarist) records, mixes and masters all of our work. He is continuously improving and developing his own skills as a producer and we are all blown away by the result on this new album. We’re all excited and eager to get back in the studio already!!

What’s your writing process as a band, and how do you all come together to create the final track?

It all starts with Dylan mainly. He may have a riff or a few sections, sometimes he comes with fully written pieces of music demos and we then jam that out in a rehearsal room and Kyle then adds melodies and vocals. We all have input in the overall creativity of the songs, both in the studio and rehearsal room.

Do you remember the first gig you ever performed live, and how do you feel you live shows have evolved since then?

Our first gig as Edenthorn was back in 2013, and it was an acoustic showcase gig. We had to come up with stripped back/MTV Unplugged type set list, which was fun! Our live shows have definitely evolved from when we started which all comes down to experience. We never used to think that much about playing live, we just used to play songs… now though, we’re a lot more experienced on how to put a show together to ensure that everybody is having a good time from start to finish!

Where have been your favourite venues to perform?

Trillians in Newcastle is an awesome rock venue that we will continue to go back too! Most recently The Cluny 2 – where we played our album launch party – really surprised us and has been our favourite so far. It has a cool underground vibe to it and has awesome staff, gear and a great sound technician.

Connect with Edenthorn via their Website, Facebook and Twitter.

Second Hand Poet – Interview

Wednesday 28th March 2018

Opening up an email late one evening, and listening to the Second Hand Poet came at the perfect time, as I found myself trying to wind down, but wanting to give my emails that one last check. Listening to the mellow and soothing sounds, I found myself instantly unwinding, yet captivated by what I was hearing. The new mini album “Songs For The Pyre” is a collection of songs that have featured on various long vanished demo EP’s, its the mark of Jamie at his most unguarded and brutally honest. On an album which pulls in two directions, from the classical violin and string clad intro and interlude, to the more traditional acoustic guitar-led balladeering. Produced by Franc Cinelli and recorded in London over a two week period, “Songs For The Pyre” uses Jamie’s DIY ethic as a point of departure, adventurously expanding the sonic palette while retaining every bit of its heart and soul.

Hello! Please could you tell me about yourself, how is all started and at what point you decided to make a career out of music?

Hi! I’m Jamie I play folk music under the moniker Second Hand Poet, I began playing music around six years ago and initially formed a band which didn’t work out, when I say didn’t work out we fizzled out before our first booked show! I then went on to play the show by myself, that show scared me into playing alone I think!

Your debut album “Songs For The Pyre” has just been released. How are you finding the response to your music so far?

The response has been very positive! Which is always nice, the record is still in the early stages of promotion so I’m hoping the response stays the same!

How did you find the process of putting the album together, and did you face any hurdles that you had to overcome?

The album has been a very long journey, especially from when the songs were initially written. The first version of ‘Songs For The Pyre’  was actually called ‘Into The Wild’, and was all recorded by myself! I put way too much time into the record and I decided to step back and let it breathe a little bit, which ended up me deciding to re-record the whole thing with a producer in charge rather than myself! Also, a few of the tracks were previously on another EP, which was put out a few years ago on a label, I had to buy back the rights myself to be able to include them on the album, that was definitely a hurdle!

What about the final track listing, were there any tracks that didn’t make the cut?

Definitely yes, I think its a positive and healthy decision being able to ditch something you’re not quite feeling creative wise. A lot of people including myself hang on to works even if they deep down know they probably should have been put to bed a fair while back! Like I said above, the album previously was something very different and the songs I scrapped just didn’t fit as well on the new sound of ‘Songs For The Pyre’.

How do you feel you have developed as an artists since your previous release, and why is now the right time to release your album?

I feel I’ve developed a huge amount from when I first started this, you definitely need to learn from mistakes to get something your proud of in this musical world, for sure. Unless you have someone that’s already gone through it all who happens to be guiding you! I think I was easily entertained with releasing demos and deciding they were good enough for a few years, I wanted to show a bit of love to the songs that appeared on various past demo ep’s by aligning them on a record! The next album will be more thought out… he says.

Who are your biggest influences and how do you draw upon your inspirations when writing and performing?

I’d say the biggest influence was going to live shows at a young age, it’s really easy to get drawn in to the musical world, but really hard to actually be in it. Obviously what I’m listening to during the writing stages sometimes strays in here and there. I’m a huge fan of Elliott Smith and sometimes when I’m winding down from a writing session he’s usually able to make me pick up the guitar again.

Being in the early stages of your music career how are you finding the process, and what was the decision behind wanting self-promote your new album?

The process is hard, there’s so many musicians and so so many platforms readily available. If anything it’s too much. If you don’t have a label to work with, you then have to use the same routine but by yourself, do you hire in a PR company, and if you do hire a PR company do you then use a tour booking agency? I’m a bit tired of seeing other artists use these companies, it just sugar coats your music and presence when in reality the moment they stop getting paid, the campaign for your record does too. I’m trying a more natural approach to promotion at the moment by not only contacting lovely people like yourselves, but also individually the people who actually follow and like my music!

You’ve picked up quite a lot of momentum from the start and performed at quite a few festivals too. What’s been your best live performance to date, and have there been any memorable moments?

Thanks! It’s always nice to play festivals and have promoters who you can call on although sometimes I find festivals a bit detached from the crowd. It’s usually day time with not much atmosphere! For the more sombre music that is… My favorite shows are the ones that are dead quiet! When it’s just you playing your songs to an audience that are completely immersed in those thirty or so minutes.

What are your plans for the year ahead, and what live dates do you currently have lined up?

I’ll be trying to get the album out to as many people as possible still, and also booking in a few live sessions, maybe a single release also! I tend to shy away from playing live as much as I used to, it started to feel like bit of a chore! It’s lovely getting a reaction from people don’t get me wrong, but more times than not if you play too much the excitement tends to disappear. And its lonely playing on your own! There probably will be a few shows this year, and when they do you’ll know I’ve thought long and hard about playing them or not!

Finally, if you were given the opportunity to perform in the BBC Live Lounge, which song would you cover and why?

I think I’d choose a classic, maybe Roy Orbison’s ‘You Got It’ or Slade’s ‘Everyday’, I’m yet to hear them covered in the Live Lounge, but they should be for sure! BBC give me a call?

Connect with Second Hand Poet via his Website, Facebook and Twitter.

TrueHeights – Interview

Wednesday 21st March 2018

Acclaimed young alt-rockers TrueHeights are back with a bang, announcing their new EP “Days We Found”, and their signing to We Are Triumphant. Hailing from the Midlands, the band have quickly picked up a huge amount of momentum from their debut EP “TH15”, and secured themselves a well-established fan base from their time on the road, supporting the likes of Freeze The AtlanticDEAD!Lonely The Brave, and Fatherson. Armed with the addition of guitarist Alex, and a brand new EP which is due for release on the 6th April, TrueHeights are hoping to put some serious heart and meaning back in to the UK’s rock scene.  I catch a moment with lead vocalist Zakk Poland ahead of the release to find out what we can expect from their new material.

Please could you tell me a bit more about yourselves? Have you been in bands previously, and what has driven you to form TrueHeights?


We are a 6 piece rock band from the Midlands. We have all come from very different backgrounds which I think makes our song-writing process very interesting. Myself and my brother Luke have come from a post-hardcore/punk background then we have the Maugham brothers and Kris who have come from a dance/electronic metal background and then Alex who has been a solo singer songwriter for many years – so our ideas are very diverse in the rehearsal studio to say the least! We formed TH because we wanted to unify a few of our favourite things from the genres we all love and create a sound that was accessible to more than the very niche sub-genre’s we were all a part of before.

Your debut mini album release “TH15” received quite a lot of momentum. How have you found the response to your music so far?

Thank you! “TH15” was received better than we could have ever imagined. Its mesmerising being able to travel the country and have crowds singing your songs back to you – it’s very moving.

You’ll be releasing your new EP “Days We Found” on the 6th April. How are you feeling about getting new music out there, and are there any tracks in particular that you’re excited about being heard?

We are SO excited to release “Days We Found”. Some of these songs have been sat behind the curtains for nearly 2 years and now we can finally unveil them to you guys! The response to the singles so far have been mind-blowing and we are so lucky to have such a loyal fanbase that are happy to stick with us for 3 years without releasing any music. We are so excited for the two songs which aren’t due to be released as singles, because the first time anyone will hear them is when they buy the full record. Keep your ears open for “No Tomorrow” and “Maybe”.

How would you say this compares to your previous material, and how do you feel you’ve developed as a band over the past 3 years?

It pushes the boundaries a lot more than “TH15”, in the way that we have collectively tried to diversify our writing style – making 5 very different sounding songs, with the idea that different people will have different favourites. As a band we have played a hell of a lot of shows over the last 3 years and learned a hell of a lot about each other and about our writing style and what works best for us – especially with the addition of Alex. We have become more of a team and everyone brings their own ideas and interpretations on each others work – I feel the sound has matured a great deal.

What’s your writing process and how do you work together to create the final track? Being a 6-piece band, how do you make sure you all have a creative input?

So, normally one of us will bring an idea to the studio and then we will all build on it. Depending on which instrumental idea is presented as a melody core, that is USUALLY what defines the overall sound and feel of the track, i.e “Stay” was written around a synth hook, giving it a more dancy feel. Whereas “Exit Route” was written around a riff idea I had written in my bedroom on an acoustic guitar! When I write on an acoustic guitar I always imagine I’m playing to a huge festival crowd with a huge wall of amplifiers behind me… 9 times out of 10 I’m sat in my room and I can hear my mum hoovering the stairs…SO rock and roll. We usually write a song in a few phases to make sure everyone is 100% happy with their parts, before our producer rips them to shit and makes us re-write them anyway!

Who did you work with for the video to your latest single “Still Moving Colour”, and how does it feel when you get to see the finished videos for your singles?


We worked with a good friend of ours Jay Hillyer (Cabin Boy Jump Ship). His work is awesome! He’s pretty much done most of our videos. He lets us have a lot of creative input on them which is great. We write and direct all of our videos ourselves.

You released an acoustic version of “City Lies” to raise money for Bedfordshire & Northamptonshire Multiple Sclerosis Therapy Centre. Could you tell me why this charity is so close to your hearts, and how the donations helped the centre?

This charity is especially close to our drummer Kris, who’s uncle is an MS sufferer. The whole charity release was conducted by Kris himself. It was such an honour to have such amazing, iconic people on board with us such as Connor Ball (The Vamps), Nothing But Theives, Madina Lake, BBC Introducing etc.

You’re on the last few dates of your current tour, but thinking about all the live dates you’ve ever played, which has been the most memorable and why?

We always tell the story of how I broke Ash’s leg on stage, but that was honestly one of the best moments of my life. I think on a serious note, one of the most memorable ones was MOM Fest in Eindhoven, ND. We got to play our first show overseas to thousands of people and it was mind-blowing. Not only that, but that was Alex’s first ever TH show.

How do you find the music scene in the Midlands? Being a music blogger/gig-goer from the area too I’m interested to hear your thoughts on the local scene and venues.

Yeah we love our local scene. I’m in the firm belief that we wouldn’t be anywhere right now had it not been for that. There’s not an AWFUL lot in the Midlands but that’s what makes events so special. We have so much love for Zephyr Lounge (Leamington), The Phoenix (Coventry), The Kasbah, and pretty much all of the venues in Birmingham. It’s a close-knit scene and we love it!

What are your plans for 2018, and what do you hope to have achieved by the end of the year?

We would love to have another big tour in place and hopefully some more new music! Keep your eyes peeled…

Connect with TrueHeights via their Website, Facebook and Twitter.