Five o Five – Interview

Friday 18th August 2017

Hailing from beautiful Italy, indie-rockers Five o Five are bringing their Arctic Monkey vibes to the shores of the UK with the hopes of raising their profile and making themselves known.  Listening to their single “Where They Bring Sophie,” I instantly make the connection with the likes of The Black Keys and The White Stripes, who are just a few of the well-known names that have inspired the band and play a big part in their sound.  Intrigued by Five o Five and their ambition I take a moment to discover a bit more about how it all started, their upcoming album and what to expect next.

For those who are just discovering you please could you tell me more about yourselves?  Have you been in bands previously and what has driven you to form Five o Five?

We are just a group of friends and this is our first official band, even though me, Tredo and Piccio had performed before at middle school. Then with Pana, our common friend, we form the Five o Five.

How did you come up with the name for the band and is there a meaning behind it?

The name of the band has a special meaning that reminds us of our childhood spent together, but unfortunately I can’t reveal anything else, it’s a secret.

You’ve just released your single “Where They Bring Sophie.”  How are you finding the response to your music so far?

We’ve had a lot of positive outcomes especially from musical experts. We hope our song will be more popular over time.

You’re due to release your debut album ‘@Y&!’ in September.  What can we expect from the album, and how did you find the process of putting it together?

The album has been recorded in Antonio Polidoro’s studio in Milan, called “Blap studio,” under Giuseppe Fiori’s guide. The production of the album has been very intense and in little time we recorded all the songs in a vey precise way and with a vast knowledge of sound and rhythm.

Are there any tracks in particular that you’re looking forward to getting out there?

We can’t wait to let you listen to the songs of our new album, especially for “May Is Coming,” our most fresh song, and “This House Is All To Be Burned,” which is smashing.

Who are your biggest musical influences, and how have they encouraged and helped you to develop your sound?

Our sound is typical of our genre. We were inspired by famous indie rock bands, like Arctic Monkeys, Blur, Kasabian, mixed with electronic music in style of Air. 

What’s the music scene like in Italy for up and coming artists?

The only possibilities we have is to perform in bars where the pay isn’t very high. Apart from that there are festivals in the big cities which give upcoming artists a chance. Since there aren’t many chances to perform in Italy we would like to have this opportunity to perform in England.

What’s your tour schedule looking like for this year, and when can we next catch you at a show?

We have scheduled 2 different tours: one is from 4th to 12th September and the other one is from 30th October to November 6th. 

Being in the early stages of your music career how are you finding the whole process, and have you been given any lasting advice?

We are trying really hard to create new sounds and lots of new songs. We are trying to improve the instruments and create something innovative. We also received some advice from experts, like fixing the scenic presence.

What would you say is the next step for the band?  If I came back to chat with you in another year, where would you hope to be?

The next step of our band is to put ourselves out there and make ourselves known. We hope to play at some important festivals but I can’t really specify what I would want in 2 or 5 years. All I can say is I hope for the best.

Connect with Five o Five via their Facebook.

Chris Blackwood – Interview

Friday 18th August 2017

Fresh off the back of his debut album release, I spent time chatting with Chris Blackwood about his music career so far, and what has encouraged him to push forward with a career in music.  Upon first listen I was taken aback by the amount of sheer talent Chris has, and it’s aparent that growing up listening to the likes of Oasis and Bob Dylan has played a big part in how his songwriting has been influenced.  The debut self-titled album is a concept album that tells a tail through the different stages of life; starting with birth, then moving in to the confusing middle years, and finishing with a bitter ending.  After playing in and around Manchester, Chris is now stepping out and ready for national recognition.

Hello! Please could you tell me about how it all started for you? Has there been anyone in particular that has inspired you to take the step in to music, and at what point did you know you wanted to make a career out of it?

The first real connection to music I felt was seeing the “Supersonic” video by Oasis on TV. I was only twelve, but it blew me away. The music really connected to me, and I spent the next four years devouring indie rock music. Then when I was seventeen I discovered Bob Dylan and that blew my mind again. This time with words and lyrics. It was at this point I knew I had to make a career out of it. I had been writing songs ever since I started learning guitar was I was twelve, but Dylan made me write different kinds of songs. Songs that matter.

Your single “The Quiet Elude” is the first release from your debut album. How are you finding the response to your music so far?

Fantastic. People understand it which is the main thing. It’s short, simple and effective, which is perfect for a first single from an album. My main worry was that it doesn’t really reflect the album’s sound, but I chose the song as it would be the neatest transition between the acoustic EP’s and the fully fledged full band album.

Who did you work with for the accompanying video for the single, and where did the shoot take place?

I worked with Gaz Davies, who is a fantastic filmmaker. We shot the music video above a jazz bar in Stephenson’s Square, Manchester. It was this cool little photography studio. We got rid of all the backdrops and just kept the room looking bare, as I thought that’d match the aesthetic of the song. We got it all filmed in three hours! A short amount of time that reflect the brevity of the song. Gaz is also filming the album release show on 2nd September.

Could you tell me about your writing process, and how you know when a song is ready? Is there anyone who you can bounce ideas around with?

Songs come from nowhere. Most of the time I’ll have an idea that pops into my head and I’ll run to my guitar to pick it out. Normally I’ll figure the rest out in less than half an hour and the song is done. You can’t just sit down and write. The labour will show. It needs to be natural and unforced to make it seem organic and real.

I always write songs by myself, apart from my single “Unwinds,” which was written with James Fewkes. There is also a song on SoundCloud called “Slipstream,” which was written with Rob Jones. But apart from this I write them all by myself.

What can we expect from your upcoming self-titled album, and how did you find the process of putting it together?

Oh it’s a journey definitely. Everything’s very carefully placed. It’s been a few years in the making in my mind, and it took about eight months to record. It was relatively easy to record because I had all the parts already figured out from years of playing them. The hardest I’d say to get right were the instrumentals. I’ve never done an instrumental track before, never mind three. I wanted to get these to not seem out of place with the rest of the tracks.

What has drawn you to create a concept album, and do any of the tracks draw upon personal experiences?

Every release I do has some kind of concept. Maybe that was inspired by listening to Pink Floyd and The Beatles when I was younger. The two acoustic EP’s had individual concepts, and these were differentiated with each other. Dark and light. This album is like chapter one of a wider concept I’m planning.

All these tracks draw from personal experiences. The problem with this is that it needs to be broad enough to fit into everyone else’s personal experiences. But I believe everyone feels these things when they’re growing up, so I’d like to think the concept is universal. But I don’t force it either. A concept should never get in the way of good songs, then it gets too pretentious. People can find their own meaning in the tracklisting, that is the best way to listen to this album.

Who are your biggest musical influences, and how have they encouraged and helped you to develop your sound?

Pink Floyd and The Beatles as I said earlier are my inspiration for concept-driven music. Apart from that I’m heavily inspired for this album by Elliott Smith and Pavement. Also Arctic Monkeys and The Libertines, two bands I listened to a lot of when I was a teenager.

I used influences as a device on this album. The first half is inspired by the indie rock I listened to when I was a teenager, the second half inspired by Bob Dylan, Radiohead, My Bloody Valentine.

Being in the early stages of your music career how are you finding the whole process, and have you been given any lasting advice?

The only lasting advice I’ve been given is that a career in this industry doesn’t last. That’s why you’ve got to give it your all while you’ve still got it. That’s why I’ve decided to release everything myself. I don’t want to wait for a record company to come along for me to record the music I want. I worked for an entire summer to afford the recording costs of this album. You’ve got to do it yourself. Don’t rely on anyone else.

How are you feeling about your album release show and are there any tracks in particular that you’re most excited about performing live?

Very excited, first time I’ve played with a full band. It’s at a little placed called Aatma, not far from where we filmed the music video. The support acts are fantastic as well. Mystic Rose, The Prions and Scott Lloyd.

I’m looking forward to playing it all to be honest. You can get so much sound out of four people rather than one acoustic guitar. A much more fully-formed sound. But if it’d have to be one track, I’d be “Faraway.” The outro will be fantastic live, and I’m looking forward to how people react to it.

Finally, what other artists are you listening to at the moment and do you have any recommendations?

I’m really liking Sonic Youth at the moment. I’d like to incorporate more noise rock elements into my music. I’ve added partly noise/shoegaze elements to the outro of “Faraway,” but I’d love to investigate more.

Also I’m loving Can. Krautrock is something I’d love to explore further. I did a twenty minute version of my song “Whirlwind” a while back and I’d love to release it if the opportunity arose.

Connect with Chris Blackwood via his Website, Facebook and Twitter.

The Cartographer – Interview

Thursday 17th August 2017

Hailing from Derby with the aim of producing “heavy riffs, melodic choruses, and basically something you can swing your wig about to,” The Cartographer are well and truly putting metal back on the map for the glorious Midlands.  After the release of their debut EP, the band took a break but are now back stronger and more determinded than ever; and with an album in tow the guys are in for an exciting year ahead.  With a sound reminiscent of early Bullet For My Valentine and a likeness to Northlane and Architects, it really has been a treat to receive a meaty release in my mailbox.  I caught up with guitarist, James Millington who gave me an insight to how the band formed and what they’re planning next.

Firstly, I have to say that I’m glad to be introduced to you guys; it’s great having some metal land in my emails to get my ears around. What has drawn you to this genre?

We’re glad we could help with that! Metal to us is like medication. Wether you’re feeling low, happy, angry, confused or even unwell, metal has always got your back. It’s like it caters for all emotions and situations.

How did you all meet and what made you start the band? What was the decision behind the band splitting up and then getting back together a few years later? 

It all started with myself (James) and Jay. We’d known each other from previous bands and mutual friends for a few years. We starting talking about music a lot and decided to give a band a go. After a few member changes we found our guitarist, Dan. The guy is a wizard in the strings. After a while we started gigging and things were going well, until our old drummer went travelling and our old bassist couldn’t carry on because of work. We decided to call it a day. Then just how the band started, we all got talking about music again. Some ideas were thrown about, we wrote our EP “Human Error” and we decided to give The Cartographer another go! Then we found a drummer, which moved things along. Eventually finding our bassist, Tom.

Your single “Vultures” has been chosen as your introduction back in to the music world.  What does this track mean to the band?

“Vultures” is the track that got The Cartographer back together. It was the first song written on the EP. It felt right, it was our gateway back onto the stage and back into the music we all dearly love.

Who did you work with for the accompanying video for the single, and where did the shoot take place?

Our video was shot by Rob Rutley, a very talented man. He brought our song “Vultures” to life! We shot the video in a pub in Derby called The Waterfall. The shoot was a lot of fun, like most things we do!

How are you getting on putting your debut album together and do you have a release date in mind?

The album is coming along great, we’re just putting the final pre-production to it before we go into the studio. We’re so excited to share it with the world. We haven’t got an exact date yet but it’s looking like the beginning of 2018.

How will the album compare to your previous material, and are there any notable differences or developments?

Our debut album is without doubt a huge step up from our EP already. The songs have more impact, more emotion and raw energy!

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

We all usually write parts at home and send them to each other. Then at practices we will run through what we have, develop it more and more until we’re completely satisfied.

If you could pick a song by any artist past or present that you could say you wish you had written, what would it be and why?

That’s a tough one, there’s so many bands and songs that inspire us in what we do. But my personal choice would be “Laurentian Ghosts” by After The Burial. It’s such an emotional and powerful song. It brings a tear to the eye but makes you wanna bang your head. It’s just incredible.  

You’ve got a handful of live dates coming up in August.  Will this be your first time performing since the band got back together, and are there any further dates planned for the year?

We’ve actually just come off of a 5 day tour with our good friends Skies In Motion. It was such an incredible tour too! We have one more this month supporting Loathe in Nottingham on the 28th so definitely come check that out because it’s going to be off the hook! Then playing Alt Fest in Derby on the 30th of September. We are looking to book some more shows so we’ll keep you all updated!

Are there any venues in particular you haven’t performed at that you aspire to play in the future?

Oh definitely! Our 2 main ones would be Satan’s Hollow in Manchester and Rock City in Nottingham.

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

Riva Taylor – Interview

Wednesday 16th August 2017

Following the release of her poweful single “Deeper Than Us” in July; which was co-written with Jamie Hartman, who also co-wrote the stunning Rag n’ Bone Man track “Human,” it’s clear that songstress Riva Taylor is in good hands and that we are in for something special from her upcoming album which is due for release in the coming months. So for now whilst the release is under wraps, I was interested to find out more about Riva and her fruitful background.  Being the youngest singer at the age of 12 to ever sign to EMI has certainly put her in good stead; she has since collaborated with many known artists and producers, spent time travelling, touring, and gained herself a degree in History during it all to boot.  Intrigued by Riva I caught a moment to find out more about her story.

Please could you tell me about yourself, where it all started and how you came to be a singer/songwriter?

How long do you have!? In a nutshell – I started as a kid on the West End stage. I just loved singing and performing and did it as much as I could, whenever I could! It led to a few TV appearances as a kid and being signed to EMI Records. I always wrote songs for fun, but only in my 20’s did I begin to collaborate with songwriters and record my own music.  With age and experience there’s so much more to write about, I’m loving it!

When did you realise you could sing and wanted to make something of it?

I probably answered that above! Its something I’ve always done but I made an active decision to pursue a career as a singer as an adult. After I took a break from the industry between 18 and 22 to go to university.    

You have a great story to tell, starting with being the youngest singer to sign to EMI at just 12 years old. How was the experience for you being so young, and how do you feel it has shaped you as an artist today?

Those years have definitely shaped the way I approach my career, the people I work with and my love of exploring new places. I was very fortunate to have been given opportunities to travel and promote my music in all sorts of fun places like Japan and Finland. I also met some wonderful people who I am still in touch with and have been helpful over the years while I have been shaping this last album. One of the most valuable things I learned is that nothing is given, surround yourself with positive influencers and take your destiny into your own hands!

Following this you went to University to study History. How did you juggle this with your music commitments?

I didn’t. It was the first time in my life that I committed myself full time to education, no juggling or putting my pen down to jump on a plane! Of course I missed it and involved myself whenever I could (after the novelty of vodka shots and reading 5 books a week wore thin!) – gigging, theatre and the odd recording session. But music took a backseat, and I needed time to regroup and work out what I wanted from life… a question a lot of 18 year olds ask for sure!

For your dissertation you focused on the exploitation of black US rhythm and blues musicians.  What encouraged you to research in to this, and what was it that interested you about this topic?

I had begun to specialise in US Civil Rights History and minority groups in the US and read a book on the subject. I knew I wanted to research the subject in more detail, PLUS – I got to listen to loads of awesome music! Music is written at the happiest times, and the saddest times and the struggle faced by African Americans in the US at the time was often voiced through their music. It also shaped the rock n roll style of some of the best loved white artists at the time like the Beatles and Elvis and should be celebrated.

You’ve recently released your first single ‘Deeper Than Us’ from your upcoming album. How are you finding the response so far?

Had a fantastic response so far. The remixes have charted and been played by Pete Tong on Radio 1 and by Tiesto. Its given me opportunities to perform it live too – which is when I’m my happiest! Excited to see where things take me next.

The track was co-written with Jamie Hartman. How was the experience? Did you already have a narrative in mind when you wrote the track, or is this something Jamie helped you to develop?

Jamie was fab to work with! We had no idea what we were going to write when we began, but when you write a really important thing is being a little transparent and honest about what you’re going through. So Deeper was definitely a product of two people putting their heads together and stemmed from the fact I felt self actualised and positive at that moment in time!  

What can we expect from your new album, and how does it compare to your previous material?  Are there any notable differences or developments?

It’s very different. I’m vocally different, its darker, it has more edge and its a product of from my own experiences. It’s ‘Deeper’ (excuse the pun!) and that’s all I’m giving you!

How would you describe your music?

Epic, womanly pop.

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

Imagine Dragons, Believer. Great band and I’m loving their new album…

Connect with Riva Taylor via her Website, Facebook and Twitter.

Natalie Alexander – Interview

Tuesday 8th August 2017

Natalie Alexander is a Country songstress hailing from the beautiful Santa Cruz in California.  She has just arrived on the music scene with her debut single ‘Cruel’ and her self-titled EP, which brings us the promise of powerful music that evokes a range of emotion.  Armed with her guitar, Natalie is inspired by the likes of Carrie Underwood and Taylor Swift and hopes to continually evolve as an artist.

Speaking about her debut EP, Natalie says that “There are countless talented people in the world but what sets apart the best from the rest is artistry. I don’t know that I’m there yet but it’s going to be in the front of my mind as I continue to grow artistically. There’s a song on my EP for every kind of 2017 country fan.“

Listening to ‘Cruel’ it’s great to hear Natalie making something of her talents, and I hope this is the start of something glorious to come.  So as she steps out, I grab a moment with Natalie to discuss how it started and how it’s all going so far.

Photo Credit: Brandon Showers

You’ve recently found your love for song writing and playing guitar. Has there been anyone in particular that has inspired you to take the step in to music, and at what point did you know you wanted to make a career out of it?

Music was always a huge part of my life, but I think it came to a point where I realized it was what I wanted pursue, not just a hobby. That moment came my junior year of college. I had been taking voice lessons for fun and recorded myself singing over a karaoke track, just to track my progress. The producer of my EP ended up hearing it and called me saying he wanted to meet, and that’s really where it all began.

Your debut single ‘Cruel’ has just been released. How are you finding the response to your music so far?

The response has been overwhelmingly positive, it’s unbelievable. I’ve been contacted by so many people who love my music and are asking for things like signed photographs. When that happened the first time I was shocked! I’m so glad people are responding so well to “Cruel” and the other songs on my EP. It’s definitely motivation to keep creating music they want to listen to. 

Will there be a video release for the single?

We’ve been talking about a video for “Cruel.” While no formal plans have been made as of yet, it’s definitely a possibility here in the near future. That would be such a fun video to make.

Could you tell me about your writing process? Being a solo artist do you have anyone to bounce ideas from, or do you just know when a song is ready?

I’m still very new in the writing department, but it thus far has been a very private process. I like to keep a note on my phone of little things I hear or come up with, whether that be a short phrase or sometimes I’ll come up with a whole verse or chorus. I’ll then sing it into a voice memo on my phone and I can build off of it from there. I’m really looking forward to working with other writers on my own songs. The collaborative nature of music was something that drew me to it in the first place, so I’m looking forward to that next step.

What can we expect from your new EP, and how did you find the process of putting it together?

This EP happened very naturally. I knew almost from the second I heard those 4 songs that they were the ones I wanted on my EP. I think the songs I recorded are each unique and collectively they provide a taste of the different things I’m capable of. I hope there is a song on there for each type of country music fan and I’m looking forward to continuing to develop as an artist and experiment more with my sound and what I like to sing.  

Who are your biggest musical influences, and how have they encouraged and helped you to develop your sound?

Carrie Underwood and Taylor Swift are at the top of that list. I’ve always admired them both, my voice and style of singing has definitely been influenced heavily by Carrie, and Taylor Swift’s writing is next to none. Having people in the industry that I idolize gives me something to reach for which is crucial, I think, in my growth and development as an artist, so I thank them for that.

Being in the early stages of your music career how are you finding the whole process, and have you been given any lasting advice?

I’m loving it! It’s really fun and getting to create something for people to enjoy is incredibly rewarding. Probably the best advice I’ve received is to make music that I like, not what I think will sell. Being genuine is incredibly important to me and I think that’s really rule number one to being genuine as an artist.

What other instruments do you play? It sounds as though you have quite a musical family, and your love for music started at a young age, so I’m guessing you know how to play more than just the guitar.

I actually started playing the piano when I was 8, that was my first instrument. Guitar is something I’ve picked up more recently for songwriting and performing. My first music love was definitely the piano – it’s a beautiful instrument with such a rich sound and it’s so fun to play.

You’re passionate about protecting women, children and animals.  Are there any charities in particular that you advocate, and what has drawn you to these causes? 

When I was in high school I saw a number of my friends raising service dogs with Canine Companions for Independence. I think that is such an amazing cause. I love my two dogs and the joy they bring me, so what a beautiful gift you’re giving someone in need of a service dog!

Connect with Natalie Alexander via her Website, Instagram and iTunes.

Ciircus Street – Interview

Tuesday 25th July 2017

Indie-pop duo Ciircus Street have just released their debut single ‘Mouth Like That’ and upon first listen I found the track to be extremely catchy; I just couldn’t get it out my head for most of the day!  So, if a song catches me like that, then I know I’m on to something good.  Taking their inspiration from the likes of Ed Sheeran, The Kooks, James Bay, and most importantly each other, I was intrigued by Ciircus Street.  Watching their videos, including the acoustic version of ‘Mouth Like That’ it’s easy to see straight away how well the pair work together and their connection.  Definitely a recipie for success and lots of fun, so I caught up with Sam Brett and Jim Crowder to find out more about them both and where they’re heading.

Hello! Please could you tell me a bit more about yourselves? It’s clear there’s great chemistry between you. How did you meet, and did you know each other before the night you formed the band in Oxford?

We originally met at Reading College about 5 years ago when we were doing a performance course. After that we stayed in contact for years, just meeting as friends, hanging out, having a pint or nine. Then in October 2015 we went to go see Saint Raymond at the O2 Academy Oxford. After a few beers, and missed buses, we decided to walk to the venue from the city centre, and on the way passed ‘Circus Street’ and we agreed it would make a good band name, and after a few more beers ‘Ciircus Street’ was born. We then wrote a load of terrible songs, scrapped them all, and started some ones we where happy with. 

When did you both start playing music and have you been in bands previously?

We’ve both been playing solo stuff for about 7 years now, but joined as Ciircus Street almost 2 years ago.

You’ve just released your debut single ‘Mouth Like That’. How are you finding the response to your music so far?

So far the response we’ve had has been amazing. Being our first single, we weren’t 100% sure what the response would be like. We felt confident with the track, and enjoy playing it every time, but we are extremely grateful that people have been buying it on iTunes, and streaming it, then messaging us to let us know what they thought. It’s really exciting!

Have you received any airplay or mentions on mainstream radio?

We’ve had a few plays from BBC Introducing Berkshire which we has been great, and we really appreciate the support from them! We’ve also had some play from Bay FM and Kane FM.

Who did you work with for the accompanying video for the single, and where did the shoot take place?

We shot the video with Simon Aukes, who’s an incredibly talented director/film maker. He’s also a really nice guy, and great to work with. If you watch the video, it’s hard to imagine it was all one guy filming and directing. We had the basic concept of the video, and after talking through with him, he put his creative ideas in, and we worked quickly to get the finished idea. It was a great experience, and we look forward to working with him again.

Let’s talk about your inspirations because it’s easy to draw a comparison to the likes of Ed Sheeran, but your biggest inspirations are each other. What is it about your friendship that encourages you?

We both listen to a wide range of music, from Hip Hop to Metal, and anything in between, so inspiration wise, I think the cross genre really opens us musically, to create something a little different sometimes. Each song has a different vibe, but also falls under the umbrella of our sound.

What’s your writing process and how do you come together to create the final track?

Writing wise, usually one of us will get an idea, to a really bad recording on a phone, then we will meet up and create the track. Sometimes we meet up and just start writing a song from start to finish together, it’s a bit of a mixed bag really.

You’ve got a handful of live dates performing around London in July.  Can we catch you further afield over the coming months?

The July shows were a lot of fun, we played our first Sofar sounds gigs, and loved that! We are looking into some dates for later this year… possibly a little tour, you’ll have to check out our socials to see what we are up to!

Being in the early stages of your music career how are you finding the whole process, and have you been given any lasting advice?

Over the years we’ve heard a lot of advice, some that’s great, and some that… well.. we let those ones leave our brains aha. But sticking at it, understanding that this will be a slow build, and generally just being yourselves musically, and as a person, is probably the best advice we’ve taken.

What can we expect next from the band, and can we look forward to an EP release in the near future?

I don’t think we’re going to be releasing an EP soon, we’ll probably focus more on singles for now, and really pushing our live sound, but you never know, maybe next year!

Connect with Ciircus Street via their Website, Facebook and Twitter.

Walkway – Interview

Tuesday 11th July 2017

Having recently been contacted by Chris Ready who is the lead singer for rock band Walkway regarding the release of their 3rd studio album WWIII, the band immediately piqued my interest as not only is rock one of my most favourite genres, but they’ve been touring for almost 10 years and opened up for some of the biggest names in rock (Status Quo, The Darkness, Black Stone Cherry and Slade to name a few), yet this was the first time I was hearing of the band.  However, after checking out their track ‘Mission Impossible’ which I was certain I’d had actually heard before, I decided that it was only best that I asked for an interview as it’s clear these guys have quite a story to tell.  This includes their album containing a tribute to the late Rick Parfitt which they recorded with Status Quo drummer John Coghlan, so make sure you check that out too.

Your 3rd album ‘WWIII’ is due for release on the 8th July. How are you feeling about the release, and what can be expected from it?

WWIII is a step up from anything we’ve done before and we can’t wait to release it to the world. I think the fans are going to absolutely love it and be pleasantly surprised with how much bigger this sounds than our previous albums.

How does this album compare to your previous material, and are there any notable differences or developments?

Top Shelf Content (our first album) was a classic rock album through and through and Streetwise (our second album) was a bit more commercial. WWIII contains a mix from the two, however all in all the record is heavier than our previous albums. We always aim to make each song/album better than the previous and I think that shows on WWIII – the songs and production as a whole are a real step up and I think that comes from how we have matured as artists.

What’s your writing process as a band? How do you all come together to create the final track, and how do you know when a song is ready?

We have worked with a range of very successful and experienced songwriters in the past, however the majority of our songs are written by myself (Chris) and James. With us both being brothers we have a great understanding of each other – James will usually lay down the music and I put lyrics to it. Once we have the main basis we will then take it to rehearsal and work through it with the guys to come up with the finished result.

You’ll be featuring a tribute to the late Rick Parfitt on your album, which you recorded with Status Quo drummer John Coghlan. How did that come about?

We toured with Status Quo over the last couple of years and Rick particularly became a fan of the band. We were going to be working with Rick this year on his solo project – myself (Chris) and James had written some tracks for his solo album, however the opportunity unfortunately never went ahead due to his passing on Christmas Eve. It was a real blow for us in both ways in that he was such a nice guy and fan of the band, and also that the project never went any further. We felt that we had to do a tribute of some sort on the album and we thought that what better way than to record a cover of one of Rick’s Quo songs, Rain. Our Manager then had the idea to contact original Status Quo drummer John Coghlan to see whether he would be interested in playing on the track and he was more than happy to do so. It added that little extra authentic tribute to the track.

Who are your biggest musical influences, and how have they encouraged you and helped to develop your sound?

We all have different individual influences, however as a whole the band take influence from artists like Aerosmith, Def Leppard, Eagles, Led Zeppelin, Nickelback, Van Halen. As the singer my two main vocal influences are Steven Tyler (Aerosmith) and Steve Perry (Journey) – two incredible voices.

Are there any tracks in particular that you’re looking forward to getting out there and also performing live on your upcoming tour?

It’s difficult to choose any particular tracks off the new album as we’re so proud of everything on the record – all of the tracks are going to be great fun to play.

This year you’ll be reaching your 10th year milestone together as a band, and you’ll have performed a staggering 1000 shows. How do you find the experience of being on the road and performing live, and what are your personal highlights?

It’s quite a milestone to reach 1000 shows. We’re constantly touring and play around 120 shows every year as we take on the old fashioned work ethic of constantly touring anywhere and everywhere. Our show highlights have got to be the Quo shows, particularly with Rick’s passing, those shows have become that bit more special, but we played some amazing venues to some huge crowds and it was a great experience to play with one of the iconic legendary British rock bands.

You’ve opened up for many big names over the years. Who have you enjoyed touring with the most and why?

Again the Quo shows, but we’ve also supported The Darkness, Black Stone Cherry and Slade to name only a few. To play with these artists who we look up to is something really special and something that we will never forget.

As soon as I heard your track ‘Mission Impossible’ straight away I knew I’d heard you played before on Planet Rock.  How are you finding the response to your music, and have you been picked up by many stations?

We haven’t actually been played on Planet Rock, YET! But it’s nice to think that Mission Impossible sounds like something you would hear on the radio. The tracks from the new album which we’ve been sending out to radio shows and all other press contacts absolutely love the new material and we’ve had nothing but praise which is great feedback.

[Editors note: I’m still convinced I’ve heard this track played out on the radio.  However, an email is currently flying its way over to Planet Rock HQ in the hope that Murray J plays it on his request show]

Are you managing your own website and social media accounts, and how important is it for you to connect with fans this way?

We do everything ourselves and are very switched on when it comes to social media as it is so important and essential these days. We have such an incredible fan base and we love to keep them updated with everything we do.

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