INTERVIEW: In Hearts Wake (AUS), October 2013

Boy oh boy, anyone remember this lot? Five white boys from Byron – but, get this, they play HEAVY stuff?? Man, where have I heard that one before? Anyways, I never cared for this band too much if I’m perfectly honest, but I remember the guy from this band being polite enough. They were also good with environmental philanthropy, so kudos to that. I haven’t even looked at this article since I sent it off to my editor all those years ago, so let’s see if it holds up.

***

Can one band make a difference? In Hearts’ Wake believe so. Vocalist Jake Taylor introduces us to The Skydancer Project.

It’s safe to say that Byron Bay quintet In Hearts’ Wake have accomplished quite a bit in their relatively short lifespan as a band. They’ve toured both nationally and internationally, scoring slots with bands like Enter Shikari and iwrestledabearonce; and dropped their debut album, Divination, in August of 2012. As the band enters the next stage of their careers, coinciding with their most ambitious project to date, the band’s lead singer Jake Taylor affirms that they have picked the exact right time.

“I feel that, until this year, working with UNFD and working with managers, we didn’t have the resources at our fingertips; to be able to really delve into this kind of project like we are now,” he says. “With the network that we have and the fanbase that is behind us, we felt like there was no other time than now to do this.”

Welcome to The Skydancer Project, an inventive and creative take on a charity drive. “Skydancer,” the band’s new single, has been released on a pay-what-you-want basis. No matter how little or how much you put towards buying the song, all of its proceeds will go directly to three non-profit charities. The song deals with the preservation and heritage of indigenous cultures of the world; specifically relating to the stories of Native American-Indians who were iron-workers in New York City, who would walk the beams tens of storeys above the ground creating what would become the city’s iconic skyscrapers.

“My mother isn’t a Native American, she just grew up there,” explains Taylor; the “there” alluded to referring to the Mohawk region of the state of New York. “I was affiliated with the land, and I’ve travelled it. That’s how I became face to face and eye to eye with their culture and got to really be engaged with it. I was really taken – I found the stories and messages they had to share to be very inspiring.”

“I’ve been a good ten times in my life in various blocks,” he continues; explaining his connection and his fascination with the culture. “My first real memories would actually not be in the Mohawk region itself, but in New Mexico; when I got to visit a few of the reservations. It was like venturing into another world – we’re talking mudhuts with ladders going between buildings. I would have been about five at the time, and back then you could actually visit the reservation. These days, the white man is a lot more cut off from those type of areas. It was quite an experience. New Mexico is a real hub for so many reservations and cultures that are all around there.”

When it came to choosing the charities that In Hearts’ Wake would work with on “Skydancer,” Taylor did some extensive research and scratched substantially below the surface to find people and groups dedicating their entire lives to improving the ones of those less fortunate. The first group chosen was Red Dust Role Models, a group who devise and enact health programs within regional Aboriginal communities within Australia. Secondly, the band enlisted the Seventh Generation Fund, who describe their work as “dedicated to promoting and maintaining the uniqueness of Native peoples and the sovereignty of tribal Nations.” Finally, proceeds will also go to the Hardcore Help Foundation, who work within poverty-stricken areas of Kenya providing medical assistance and much-needed supplies.

“I wanted to find three organisations that weren’t glorified companies that were taking profits from donations to fund their business,” says Taylor on the selection of the three charities. “Literally 100% of the profits that these organisations take in go to their causes – they put their money where their mouths are. We also wanted to reach in on a grassroots level, which meant not going to a charity like, say, World Vision. Not because they don’t deserve it, but because we wanted to touch on the smaller organisations doing the rounds.”

The importance that weighs on a project as big as Skydancer is something that is certainly not lost on Taylor – not only are three organisations involved, but the band’s ever-expanding group of fans are being ushered into issues and ideas rarely spoken of or touched upon within the heavier spectrum of Australian music. Rather than be daunted by such a prospect, however, the vocalist exudes positivity and optimism. He completely realises the importance of Skydancer for his band, his audience and his affiliated charities.

“For the organisations that we’re working with, this also opens their audience up to our audience,” he says. “I say this with 100% confidence: Our audience are people that are willing to listen and wish to sing along. This is the kind of community that gets behind anything that needs its support, whether that’s donations or crowdfunding or helping a band to tour. They are on board with the greater good – and with the great work that these organisations are doing, I feel like it’s a win-win situation.”

Exactly where the band will take The Skydancer Project from here is unclear even to those in the band itself. Ideas such as bringing volunteers from the charities out on tour, further benefit shows and even travelling to Indigenous communities to perform are all in circulation. For now, however, Taylor is focused solely on what is in front of him and the rest of In Hearts’ Wake – the seemingly infinite possibilities of Skydancer.

“As a band, we always want to implement change,” he says. “We’ll take it as it comes, of course; this being the first proper launch into this world. I would definitely like to keep this going, though, and making it a part of what we do without making it too serious – we want it to be a fun and enjoyable experience for everyone involved.” He concludes on a sentiment that is difficult to disagree upon: “There has to be positivity in it.”

INTERVIEW: Mayday Parade (USA), October 2013

I was getting right into writing for Blunt at this point, and it doesn’t get much more Blunt niche than a band like Mayday Parade. Clean-cut pop-punk boys making adorable little tunes, a true proper hangover from the MySpace era. I don’t remember a single song by these guys, but by gosh they were so darn polite that I could have gone out and bought their entire discography based on charm alone.

Around this point, I think I’m really getting the hang of feature writing. I know as much because I was even creating a convincing article about a band I didn’t really care about, and I was starting to pick up more and more work around this time. Not to toot my own horn or anything… he said while building a website dedicated entirely to himself. Anyway, Mayday Parade!

***

Pop-rockers Mayday Parade are here to break hearts and chew bubblegum – and they’re all out of bubblegum. BLUNT spoke to frontman Derek Sanders about the band’s monstrous new album.

The next time you’re told that the Gen Y age group is lazy, perhaps it would be wise to point the perpetrator in the direction of Florida’s Mayday Parade. Since forming in 2005, the quintet have shown a devotion to the write/record/tour cycle that’s borderline evangelical. It’s taken them across the world several times and allowed them to accumulate a fanbase that’s nearly 1.5 million strong on Facebook alone. The cycle continues on into their fourth studio album, Monsters in the Closet, and momentum has not waned for a second.

“Usually, what happens is we record an album, we release it and then we’re on the road for a year or so touring it,” explains Derek Sanders, the band’s lead singer and occasional guitarist and keyboardist. “In that time, a lot of us are usually working individually on song ideas; so a lot of these songs started out as things we were writing on the road. We got together in January at a beach house in Florida, and we spent about a month together writing the album.”

Although he asserts that Monsters in the Closet has developed a vibe of its own as an album, Sanders certainly agrees that if you’ve found yourself tapping your feet and singing along to any of the band’s prior three albums – 2007’s A Lesson in Romantics, 2009’s Anywhere But Here and their eponymous 2011 release – then there is a very strong chance that you’ll enjoy what they have to offer this time around. “It definitely sounds like a Mayday Parade record,” he says. “If people are fans of the old stuff, then they’ll probably be into this as well. Obviously, we tried to do things a little bit different – I think with each album, we try to go a little more outside the box and incorporate everyone’s ideas. It’s all about becoming more comfortable with writing together. This album was just the next logical progression.”

One of the more significant changes that came with the writing and recording of the album was the further inclusion of every band member in the songwriting, rather than centring all of the responsibility around a sole member of the group. “Usually, it’s myself and Jake [Bundrick, drummer/vocalist] that will come up with the ideas or the starting points to the songs; and then we’d finish it all together as a band,” says Derek. “The biggest difference about making this album, though, was that there were a couple that Cabbage [aka Jeremy Lenzo, bass] had the idea for; and one that our guitarist, Brooks [Betts], came up with. Everyone was much more involved for the writing this time around, which is really cool – it made the record mean a lot more to everyone.”

Interestingly, for songs that were essentially born while writing on the road, none of the songs that are featured on Monsters in the Closet were road-tested before making their way onto the album in question. As Sanders justifies, however, it was a matter of not presenting rough drafts that could end in a shambles; and being confident and certain of new material. “We actually haven’t played any of the new songs live yet,” he confesses. “At the time of our last tour, we hadn’t even finished recording the album. We’d given thought to it, but it just seemed to early to play them. We wanted to get them worked out and rehearsed before we tried them out live. The tour we’re about to head out on will be the first time we ever play them, and I can’t wait. It’s always a lot of fun to play stuff for the first time and get a reaction to it. It really keeps things fresh.”

As well as the new album, Mayday also have a very unique project in the works in the form of a photo book, documenting their eight years together as a band; with the finishing touches being added as we speak. “I think the first test copy will be with us really soon, and I’m really excited about it,” says Sanders with a notable tone of enthusiasm. “Tom Falcone is our photographer and videographer. He and our merch guy worked really hard on this book, putting together everything. There are photos from years back when we first started the band up until now; and a lot of fan-submitted stuff, major tours, recording each album and international stuff. I’ve wanted to do something like this for a long time, and I’m really glad that it’s finally working out.”

Talk eventually turns to Mayday Parade’s relationship with Australia, which they have visited three times and attracted bigger and bigger crowds with each return. While many bands will generically talk of how much they love [insert country here], Sanders gives an elated description of his experience with Australian audiences.

“The last tour we did with We Are the In Crowd and Heroes for Hire was so much fun,” he says, speaking of their sold-out run of headlining dates in December of 2012. “We always love it over in Australia. The first time we went was with Paramore and Hot Rod Circuit back in 2007, and that was such an incredible experience for us. We came back with Soundwave in 2011, and to this day I count that in our top three things we’ve ever done as a band.”

Although he is not at liberty to say exactly when the band will be returning, he hints that it will be sooner than we think. “Australia has been amazing to us – it’s one of the places internationally that we’ve seen the most growth,” he says. “In-between doing the Paramore tour and doing Soundwave, there was this dramatic difference. There were so many people that came out that second time around. It’s really built up faster in Australia than any other place we’ve ever been. We definitely want to keep coming back.”

INTERVIEW: Every Time I Die (USA), January 2013

So in case you hadn’t heard, I’ve done a lot of ETID interviews. This was my first time speaking to someone that wasn’t Keith, however – his brother, Jordan, was on the line this time around. This was to promote the band’s upcoming appearance at the Big Day Out – what ended up being the penultimate Big Day Out, actually. I hadn’t written for AHM for a few months, but they knew I was such an ETID fan that they could get me back in just for it.

It’s an okay feature, but I did have to make a change here.

So, one of the hot-button topics around this time was Laura Jane Grace. I, and basically everyone around me, had no idea about trans people at this point. This was our first proper exposure to it, and as such a lot of us didn’t exactly know the etiquette surrounding discussing trans people. I deadnamed Laura in this article, and I’ve promptly removed and reworded that part of the article. I normally leave them up as is, bad syntax and all, but this was the only time I really had to step in and check my past self. I don’t blame me for not knowing, but it’s something that present-day me has control over. So there’s that.

***

Endless touring, clothing lines and one of 2012’s most exciting punk/hardcore records – just another year in the office for EVERY TIME I DIE. AMH’s DAVID JAMES YOUNG caught up with founding guitarist JORDAN BUCKLEY to discuss the year that was, as well as ETID’s imminent appearance at the 2013 Big Day Out.

Make no mistake about it – this ain’t Every Time I Die’s first rodeo. Over fourteen years and half-a-dozen studio albums, the band have cemented themselves as not only one of the genre’s most shit-hot live acts, but even as an influential force that younger bands will often imitate but never surpass.

2012 was another champagne year for the five-piece, sporting a new rhythm section and not only their first album in three years, but potentially their best LP yet in Ex-Lives. With so much going on within the ETID camp, it’s difficult for Jordan Buckley – Keith’s younger brother and one of three remaining original members – to pin down just a few highlights from the year just past.

“I had a great time on Warped Tour, actually,” he offers up after running through a few ideas. “I got to take my clothing line out with me, and I had my own tent up. That was really cool – as well as the shows being great, I actually put an insane amount of time into drawing and designing everything. I guess when you’re watching all of your hard work pay off all day long in the form of when I get to play on stage; as well as people really liking my designs. It was a summer where I felt like just being rewarded every day.”

The clothing line in question is Jordan Buckley World Wide – or JBWW for convenience’s sake – which featured drawings, cartoons and designs by Buckley on t-shirts and hoodies. Jordan says that he began JBWW not as a means to get involved with fashion; but rather that it was an outlet for his art. “I’ve been drawing all my life,” he explains.

“I started doing it a lot more around five years ago, but I didn’t really know what to do with what I was making. I wasn’t really in the position to be doing gallery shows, because the people that like my art aren’t really going to be the kind to be dropping five grand for a painting. I decided to do the clothing thing because that was the easiest way to achieve most of the goals I had set – getting your art out to being seen and making it affordable. A kid at a show might not be willing to put down a thousand dollars for a framed piece – but they can probably throw in a twenty for a t-shirt.”

Indeed, Every Time I Die is a group of individuals that truly seem to have creativity oozing from them. It sees as though the band simply don’t have time for anyone within the band that isn’t 110% committed to the output. It was this that lead to the departure of drummer Mike Novak following the release of the band’s last album, 2009’s New Junk Aesthetic. Ex Lives was the band’s first LP with new sticks-man Ryan Leger, and Buckley insists that this was a major contributing factor to the album’s creative process.

“Even though it was our sixth album, it really felt like making our first one,” he says. “It was less painful. We were trying more things, different things. With Mike in that later period, it honestly felt like we were auditioning riffs at some points. There were times that he wouldn’t even play if he didn’t like your riff. We’re all about trying everything now. Who knows? We could end up doing something that we really like. Some days, we were like ‘Hey! Let’s write a song that has a banjo!’ or ‘Let’s just write a song with two riffs and call it a day.’ It was different things every day for this record.”

After previewing the Ex Lives material in Australia during some headlining shows in September 2011, the band return for their first-ever Big Day Out and for their first shows here since the record was released. Buckley is particularly excited about the line-up, including his childhood heroes in the form of headliners the Red Hot Chili Peppers. There is one act, however, that not only make up the higher-profile punk/hardcore contingent, but have also been one of the most talked-about acts of 2012. Coincidentally enough, it’s also the band that will be playing straight after ETID on the main-stage: Floridian punks Against Me!, who made headlines in 2012 following the news surrounding the transition of frontwoman Laura Jane Grace.

“We’ve been very good friends with them over the years,” says Buckley. “We’ve done a bunch of Warped Tours with them. I’m an Against Me! fan. I had heard the references across the albums and actually gotten them. So when the news came out, it wasn’t a shock thing – it was more of a ‘Wow, hey did you see this?’ thing. I remember we were in Europe, and it was all over the internet. We all just thought it was really cool, y’know? We haven’t seen them since, just because our paths haven’t crossed – but I’m really looking forward to seeing them. They’re an incredible band. It is what it is. More power to her!”

INTERVIEW: Every Time I Die (USA), March 2012

Man, I have interviewed Every Time I Die so many times. I never would have guessed how many times I’ve done it before going through this archive, but it’s a lot. I guess it makes sense, really – they were touring a lot, and they were churning out records. They have to be one of the most scarily consistent bands in heavy music. They have a sound that’s theirs, but they’ve never gotten samey or stale across their career. Here, we’re talking about Ex Lives, which remains one of my favourite albums of theirs. The interview isn’t too bad either, considering I was still figuring out a lot about feature writing in these first few years.

***

When you’re after a good time in the field of rock, punk, hardcore or metal, it’s rare that you’ll go past EVERY TIME I DIE. With a discography and list of achievements as long as your arm, the band have finally dropped their new album Ex-Lives after a nearly three-year wait…and, just quietly, it might just be their best work yet. Vocalist KEITH BUCKLEY got on the line with Australian Hysteria Magazine to shoot the shit and discuss the making of this stellar record.

“The Sabres won!” exclaims Keith Buckley as cheers erupt from the bar which he is standing out the front of. Ever the professional, Buckley has moved away from the noise in order to speak to Australian Hysteria Magazine. He may have missed the final moments of his beloved Buffalo Sabres taking out a huge NHL victory, but it doesn’t seem to concern him that greatly. After all, he is bursting with excitement to talk about Ex-Lives, the sixth studio album from his band Every Time I Die and his return to the ETID fold after going on tour with hair-metal supergroup The Damned Things.

Buckley spent most of 2011 working as a double agent of sorts, hitting the road with TDT in support of their debut, Ironiclast; as well as working on Ex-Lives in his time off. Both bands were on the line-up for the Soundwave Revolution festival in September of 2011, but fate was not kind to the festival and it ended up folding before a single stage had even been set up.

Thankfully, both ETID and TDT toured, the former doing a handful of headlining shows and the latter joining the consolation-prize Counter-Revolution line-up. “The fact that I can say that Van Halen screwed up my year is actually kind of awesome,” says Keith with a big laugh. “That said, them cancelling actually worked out for the best for us. The Damned Things got to come out and play, which was awesome, and all the shows I got to play were really, really fun.”

New songs were premiered on that tour – including the pulverising first single “Underwater Bimbos From Outer Space” – but Ex-Lives had not reached completion at the time of the September tours. Regardless, Buckley was hugely enthusiastic about the album and its sound: speaking to AHM at the time, he emphasised that Ex-Lives was “not just another Every Time I Die record” and that the material was “honestly some of the best stuff we’ve written.” Even with the album finished, however, Keith is still as excited about the record as he was back then.

“We’ve been sitting on it for months, which is crazy,” he says. “We’ve had time to really build up some hype for it and put out the video [for “Underwater Bimbos”] and stuff like that, so it’s kind of like we’ve gone into training to generate interest for this record before we tour it. We’re very excited. I still love it just as much as I did when we were recording it, and it’s crazy to me that we’ve been sitting on it for so long. Normally, when we’re done with a record, it’s straight out so we don’t have to worry about it leaking.”

Naturally, this perceived break from tradition leads the discussion to the topic of album leaks. Both Ironiclast and the band’s previous record, 2009’s New Junk Aesthetic, leaked online prior to the official release date, and so Buckley is questioned as to what a leak means to both him and to the band.

“It honestly depends on how close it is to the release date – because, sometimes, it can actually help a lot,” he responds. “When you get to the point when you’re worrying about record sales… I mean, that’s not the kind of band that we are. We’re not Katy Perry. We’re not Rihanna. We’re just a hardcore band – record sales don’t really justify anything for us. We still go on tour and play to kids who know the words to our songs – whether they downloaded it or bought it, they’re still coming out to the shows to hear the songs live. That’s kind of the point, huh?”

Talk then returns to Ex-Lives – a record which, for what it’s worth, sounds as though it will absolutely thrive in the live environment. With breakneck drums, howled vocals and punishing guitars left, right and centre, it’s an album that expands to new horizons for the band without losing sight of what made them an excellent band to begin with. The album, tellingly, was very rawly recorded, and presented quite a different style of recording process for Buckley in comparison to New Junk Aesthetic. “I was working on the vocals with everyone else in the band watching me while it happened, which is something I’d never done before,” he says.

“Normally, I’d do vocals for the song and then hear the band’s critiques of it later on when they came down. I’d take their comments on board and then go back in without them and do it again. This time around, though, I was doing the takes with all of them watching behind me, which was really weird. I was making all of my mistakes right in front of them. It’s weird, because a lot of people seem to think that if you’re going to perform in front of an audience, that you must not be that self-conscious. But I am. Extremely. Doing that was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. They’d never heard me make those mistakes before. It was good, though – I’m very open to input from the others, and I’m not a diva. It’s a band. It’s a democracy.”

With Ex-Lives finally ready to go, Every Time I Die are finally preparing for a full-scale tour, starting in North America and quickly moving onto the rest of the world. Quizzed on a potential Australian tour, however, and Keith is somewhat hesitant. “Oh, man, I really don’t know,” he says with a laugh. “Honestly, with so much going on I really don’t know when we’ll be able to get back down there. At a stretch, we’re gonna aim for November and see how that goes.” It might be awhile off yet, but do yourself a favour while you’re playing the waiting game and go give Ex-Lives a spin. There’s a very strong chance you’ll like what you hear.

INTERVIEW: Deez Nuts (AUS), March 2012

So, a lot of the interviews from the early stage of my so-called career I have next to no recollection of. For whatever reason, however, I seem to remember this one specifically – I guess because it was in such unique circumstances. I was at a guitar warehouse in St. Peters, where I was reviewing a model for one of the places I write for. My interview with JJ Peters (no relation) was scheduled for around the same time, so I got in the room with the guitars, took the interview, and then played the guitar. I even remember what album I was listening to (Gillian Welch’s Time (The Revelator)) and the gig I went to after I left the warehouse (Cub Sport at the Standard). Strange times!

I’m not a Deez Nuts fan by any stretch of the imagination, so I have no idea why I remember this specific one. The interview itself isn’t much to write home about, either, but there you go.

***

Whether he’s drumming for I Killed the Prom Queen or fronting the hugely popular and entertaining DEEZ NUTS, it’s safe to say that J.J. PETERS is one of the busiest men in Australian hardcore. He took time out of his schedule – literally a day before flying to Europe – to chat to DAVID JAMES YOUNG about watching the scene grow, making fun of himself and his upcoming DVD.

Speaking to Australian Hysteria Magazine from his home in Melbourne, J.J. Peters is laughing, talkative and engaging. Not normally the personality traits one associates with a hangover. “Yeah, I’m pretty gone, man,” Peters croaks with a spluttered laugh. ‘I had a very good night, I will say that much.” He doesn’t really need to explain further than that, and that alone is strangely reflective of the music he makes under the Deez Nuts moniker. If you’re looking for subtlety, nuances and sweeping arrangements of delicate instrumentation, then look as far away from Deez Nuts as possible. It’s hip-hop flavoured hardcore punk that’s big, dumb and brash – and doesn’t care who knows it.

“I guess the Deez Nuts stuff was me basically trying to be a bit more…me,” says Peters, who is the lead vocalist and lyricist of Deez Nuts, the central focus of a revolving-door line-up. “A lot of people see me as a very hardcore-centric kind of dude, but I had a major obsession with hip-hop growing up. I still love it – hip-hop honestly means as much to me as hardcore does, and I get just as much out of my favourite acts from both genres.” In the early stages of the Deez Nuts project, Peters would often find himself surrounded by “bitches,” smoking cigars and gambling in his photo shoots. He’s quick to point out, however, that it’s by no means a mockery of what hip-hop stars do.

“That kind of living, that kind of braggadocio that they portray – it’s legit, y’know, that’s the way they’re living,” he says. “Dudes like Snoop and Dre and whatever can totally do that sort of stuff in their shoots because it reflects on them as people and as musicians. I didn’t do that sort of stuff because I think I’m anything like that. It’s a send-up of myself more than anything – anyone who knows me knows I’m not like that at all, so it was kind of a way to poke a bit of fun at myself, not at anyone else’s expense.”

Although Deez Nuts have been extensively touring across the globe in the past twelve months – and will continue to do so for the rest of this year – the band have not found themselves performing on Australian turf since May of 2011, in which they performed as a part of the Destroy Music tour alongside The Amity Affliction, Of Mice and Men and Peters’ original band, I Killed the Prom Queen, of which he is the drummer and a founding member. “It was a pretty great experience for everyone that was involved,” recalls Peters, “but it was especially interesting for me to go out, do my thing as Deez Nuts, grab a ciggie and then start playing drums about 20 minutes later.”

“In a way,” he continues, “it kind of helped me appreciate a perspective where I know where I’ve come from and I’ve got a pretty clear idea of where I’m headed when it comes to my music. I just saw the whole thing as a really positive experience.” The tour was not without its controversy, with some fans up in arms over The Amity Affliction’s top billing over the reunited Prom Queen. For the record, however, Peters himself can’t stop from laughing when the subject comes up.

“I’ll be totally honest with you,” he begins. “I’ve got no ego, really. If I can play a show, then within reason I’ll do it, y’know? A gig’s a gig. I never felt offended in any way that Amity were playing above us. I never thought that my band was being insulted or whatever. We got to do our thing and then Amity got to do theirs. Watching them every night was just amazing. I remembered seeing them at nightclubs and smaller gigs and stuff like that and seeing the potential to become something massive. They’ve gone above and beyond everyone’s expectations, and that was just as much their tour as it was ours.”

With IKTPQ returning to the back-burner for the time being, Peters has turned his focus back to Deez Nuts and the imminent release of Fuck the World, a package containing the band’s Rep Your Hood EP and their debut album Stay True, both of which have been out of print for quite some time. “Putting them out together is good for a few reasons,” explains Peters. “It’s good for some of the older fans who might not have copies of them, and the newer fans who are trying to figure out what we’re all about.” It also comes with a forty minute DVD, documenting how Deez Nuts came to formation – and, despite not particularly enjoying watching footage of himself, Peters still describes it as “pretty good.” With a knowing laugh, of course.

INTERVIEW: In Trenches (AUS), March 2012

Hey kids! Here’s another interview that I literally have no recollection of happening! In my defence, I can see why I forgot it: This was very clearly an email interview, as the way it’s structured and phrased is not reflective of a proper interview at all. Credit where it’s due, I have to thank Kevin for actually taking the time to carefully reply to my dumb questions and not give me the usual one-sentence garbage I’ve had to deal with in the past. This goes way deeper than I thought it would, considering it was an email interview and it was only for an EP (a fucking great EP, mind you).

I have a lot of time for In Trenches, they only play once every blue moon but they’re always amazing to revisit. I think I’ll throw them one once I’m done uploading this.

***

Melbourne hardcore kids IN TRENCHES have been relatively quiet in recent years, but that is all about to change with the release of their exhilarating and exciting new EP, Sol Obscura. DAVID JAMES YOUNG caught up with vocalist KEVIN CAMERON to get the story so far, and find out what the band have planned as they blaze the comeback trail.

AHM: Hey, Kevin! How has 2012 been treating you so far?

Kevin Cameron: The world’s still here, so we all dodged that ridiculous bullet so far…right?

It’s been quite some time between Relive and Regret and now. Why do you feel it’s taken so long to get In Trenches focused on new material?

I guess this band’s a hobby. I feel like when we actually get together to create something, we can produce something pretty unique; but at the end of the day, it’s a very relaxed group. Also, we took a long time finding a suitable drummer, since the previous guy left the group, so that really slowed us down. Eventually, we re-grouped and slowly started throwing ideas about. Members in the group have higher priority real life-duties, so we haven’t been in any great rush to put out a follow up. That said, the bulk of this material was written early last year, so the time between writing, tracking in mid-year and the thing coming out now has been pretty mammoth.

How do you feel Sol Obscura differs – and, even, betters – your previous material?

I’m going try my best to avoid all the clichés which usually follow that question. Every band will tell you “it’s our most melodic, yet heaviest, yet original, yet…. blah blah” when posed with this question. I’ll just say we honed in, making sure it was structurally better planned than the last record. We’ve found our feet more, and amplified what stood out in the older songs and “trimmed the fat,” I guess. It isn’t as rushed and isn’t as frantic; so, in turn, the songs aren’t as up and down. We just went for a pretty continuous barrage. The intricacies are in the overall sound, making sure everything complements each other to become that wall of sound. It’s still “our” sound, just not limited by both rushed writing and also the without the fear of being too experimental, and not really caring if we’re considered a “hardcore” band.

There has been a shift in the In Trenches line-up between releases. How do you feel the new recruits have worked into the fold of the band? Do you feel the line-up is currently at its best?

It’s worked great. The first record I wrote and structured it all on my own and played all the parts, so this time the jam-room whole band writing process was way better than getting stuck on an idea in my head and just going “that’ll do!” Our new drummer is probably the easiest drummer I’ve ever worked with, in that I can ramble an idea and he’ll immediately decipher it and make it better than I could have explained. Rob’s (guitar) involvement was equally as valuable in making this record a lot stronger. He’s a very talented musician, and contributed really well in terms of writing/ structuring. In all, this was more of a “band” effort, and I think it shows on the finished product. Everyone’s very strong players, and we are very aware of how one another plays, too, which is important in locking everything in. This is the strongest line-up – especially on the live front.

For you, personally, how does the dynamics of In Trenches as a band differ from your previous bands? Do you feel the songwriting is more democratic?

Initially, it was the opposite. On this release, we have become more of an open forum, so even if the skeleton of a song was there, everyone else pitches in to make it into a whole. Dynamically, we’re all very different people and don’t really operate smoothly, to be honest. It’s a weird dysfunctional type of thing. I think that might be why the recording sounds so pissed off. [laughs]

What was your favourite song to record on Sol Obscura and why?

Beneath was the first song written and the first song tracked, so that one got me pretty stoked to finally see it with a full stop at the end of it. It came out pretty much exactly how I wanted it to, but I hadn’t ever felt like it was going to “get there.” The surprise one was probably An Impending Collapse, which went from feeling pretty weak into morphing into the angriest, most abrasive track on the record. I got chills when I finally heard it with Ben and Rob’s vocals completed.

Is Sol Obscura a sign of things to come? Will another LP be in the works?

Hopefully. This was always meant to be a low-key segue release to tie us over ’til the next album. It’s just that the full thing turned out pretty overwhelmingly better than I pictured these songs to end up. Topping it is going to be a bit of a task, but from the looks of how we are veering, I’d hope the next one can be just as strong – if not stronger. It may end up that we just throw some more newer material online when it comes to fruition before concentrating on the next long haul, or there might be a flood of inspiration out of nowhere and the next thing you hear from us is some big opus.

What are the major plans for the rest of 2012?

Aside from continuing to avoid asteroids and bibles, nothing major. We have no agenda. Every other group in the before and after pages of this magazine probably sat around a whiteboard with a great strategy of how to “make it” and that’s just not us. If we can play a bunch of shows without damaging ourselves and our gear too much, and along the way a few people get a grasp on what we’re trying to do and enjoy it, then great!

INTERVIEW: August Burns Red (USA), February 2012

One of the wildest things about going through this archive is realising the people that I’ve interviewed that I have long since forgotten. If you had asked me a few minutes ago if I’d ever interviewed anyone from August Burns Red, I would give a pretty confident reply of “no.” And yet, here is my trusty archive with the timely reminder: “Yes, you have.”

Needless to say, I remember absolutely zero about this interview. It seemed to go okay, though. And Constellations still bumps.

***

Across four albums and nearly ten years in the game, AUGUST BURNS RED have solidified themselves as one of the most respected and hard-working metalcore bands on the planet. Their latest album, Leveller, only cements this status further – and they’re here this April to show you exactly how it’s done. DAVID JAMES YOUNG spoke to lead guitarist JB Brubaker about crazy tours and staying ahead of the game.

AHM: Hi JB, how’s it going? Whereabouts are you at the moment?

JB Brubaker: I’m doing just fine! I’m in Chicago, Illinois. We’re doing the second night of two shows. Last night was a big show – it was sold out! It was great.

Sounds like it. It was around this time last year that the band announced that you would be releasing your fourth studio album, Leveller. Now that the record has been out for awhile and you have time to reflect upon it, do you still feel the same way about the album that you did when you were recording?

I was really excited about the record when it was written, and I’m still excited about it now. It’s my favourite record that we’ve ever written. It’s my favourite record to play live, and I think that one of the reasons is bands always tend to enjoy the latest stuff they write. It’s newer and more exciting. We’re still going to keep playing our old stuff, but it’s not nearly as fresh or exciting to us. Leveller is still relatively new to us, and we’re playing places for the very first time with this record. We’re stoked that people like it.

When I interviewed Dez Fafara of DevilDriver and Coal Chamber, he emphasised the importance that DevilDriver placed on releasing new material every two years. ABR’s discography runs a similar course of new music every 2 years, and I was wondering if you held a similar degree of importance on it?

It’s definitely important to us. It was especially important when we were a younger band, newer to the scene. Bands that put out a record and then don’t do anything for three years, I feel, can be easily forgotten. Especially when you think about how many bands are out and touring there now. It’s important to get your stuff out there – but, at the same time, you don’t want to rush it. If you’re not ready to put out an album, then don’t force it. We’ve kind of scheduled our touring to be able to release new material every other year. It’s something that we wanted to do.

You guys have been touring fairly consistently since the release of Leveler. What have been some of the highlights for you from touring on the back of this record?

We took the record off on the main stage of Warped Tour all summer. That was a career highlight for us – we all went to the Warped Tour as kids, and to be able to play on the mainstage so many years later was completely surreal. We did Loud Park in Japan, which was a lot of fun; and supported A Day to Remember in Europe. Those shows were huge. It was probably the most successful tour in Europe that we were a part of. Kids were really responding and buying merch and all that jazz. We’ve had some great shows for this record.

Across all these shows, you must come across very different types of audiences – whether it’s a festival, a headlining slot, a support act slot. Have you developed any preferences for the types of shows that you play as a band?

Festivals are a lot of fun, because you generally get to play to play to a lot more people than you’d normally be able to. Most of our time is spent playing clubs, so sometimes it’s really fun to go out and just play to a sea of people. At the same time, though, we’ve been headlining shows for the past five weeks here in the States, and some of my favourite shows have been the small rooms with kids going crazy, going all over the stage and stuff like that. Those wild, intimate shows are still the most fun shows that we play. The next show we’re playing in Chicago actually doesn’t have a barricade, and it’s really rare that we get to play shows that don’t. I’m really excited about that.

Having been on the circuit for quite some time, it’s easy to note just how difficult it can be to stand out in a scene that’s often criticised for being incestuous and all the songs sounding the same. What do you think you have done as a band to stand out from the crowd and made August Burns Red successful?

I feel like we kind of pioneered a sound that a lot of bands are trying to do now. We were always kind of at the forefront of what we were doing. I’d like to think we were one step ahead of the curve as far as the metalcore pack goes. We’ve been doing the weird, off-time breakdowns with the really tight rhythms since our first record. I also feel like we are continuing to evolve whereas a lot of bands tend to get stuck in a rut and copycat whoever is popular at the moment. There’s been more of a pop formula towards the songwriting recently, especially with the sung choruses and the keyboards… I’m not into it. We’ll never be that band. We’re not young kids, we’ve been doing this for awhile. We’ve carved out our niche.

You’re coming back to Australia in support of Leveller this April with blessthefall. You must be looking forward to returning?

Yeah, definitely. Australia’s awesome. It’s one of the easiest places for an American to go on tour and feel comfortable, as far as foreign countries go. It’s not very unlike being at home, except the weathers obviously a little bit better [laughs]. Yeah, man, we love Australia. Always have a good time.

What memories and experiences do you associate with Australia and touring here?

We’ve only been over twice. The first time we came, we supported Parkway Drive, which was huge, as you can imagine. It was a really cool way to make our debut in Australia. The crowds were awesome, and all of us had a really great time. The second time, we were a part of the No Sleep Til festival a few summers ago. I mean, those were big shows. The festival setting was cool, and we had a lot of fun with those shows.

One of the things I’ve noticed about Australia, though, is the fact that everything’s expensive. Your prices are higher for pretty much everything. I’m not used to spending fourteen dollars on a McDonad’s value meal! [laughs] You guys are probably used to it, though. It’s just normal to a typical Australian, I imagine. But to spend eight dollars on a pint of beer… it’s crazy!

INTERVIEW: The Smoking Hearts (UK), January 2012

So this is a weird one. I interviewed this guy, we followed each other on Twitter and he said he’d get me into Soundwave 2012. You’ll be pleased to know, reader, that I did not get in to Soundwave 2012. So that was fun. Never heard from the dude again, and I think the band is long gone. Literally the only reason I remember them is because of this shit from eight years ago. I’m a petty bitch, I am.

***

With nothing to lose and everything to prove, THE SMOKING HEARTS are set to be one of the more exciting young bands in punk and hardcore throughout 2012. On the eve of their Soundwave appearances and the release of their debut album, Victory!, vocalist BEN MILLS spoke to DAVID JAMES YOUNG about where the band has come from and where they intend to head.

With such an extensive list of names on the Soundwave bill for 2012, it’s quite easy to skim over and sometimes even ignore the names towards the bottom. Make no mistake, however: UK quintet The Smoking Hearts are in no mood to be ignored. They are the kind of band that will grab you by the scruff of your neck and essentially pound you into submission with their fiery, no-nonsense take on melodic hardcore punk. In other words, they don’t plan at being at the bottom of the pile for too long.

Although the band is just releasing their debut album now, entitled Victory!, the origins of the group trace back to 2007 – back when the band’s current frontman, Ben Mills, was not even a member. “I was performing with a band called Takeover,” he recalls, “and I’d actually played with The Smoking Hearts a couple of times. The guys liked my style, so when their vocalist and drummer left, we all decided to meet up at [UK festival] Sonisphere to see if we all got on, and were going to take it to a rehearsal if it all went well. Turns out within 25 minutes of being at the festival, I was in the band – and the rest, as they say, is history.”

The five-piece have refining their rough-and-tumble style ever since, but it’s only within the past twelve months or so in which it has started to really pay off in the band’s favour. Their touring schedule, which Mills himself describes as “relentless,” has lead to rave reviews and a very solid reputation in their native land. “It’s been a really exciting year for all of us,” says Mills. “The rest of the boys never thought that they would get anywhere close to this point after their singer left, but we’ve come together and we’ve done something much better than we’d imagined. I’ve been in bands since I was fourteen, and none of it has really paid off up until now.”

Victory!, the fruit of the band’s labour, is done and dusted within 35 minutes but will take far, far longer than that to get out of your head. It’s not only high-octane and aggressive, but it’s also a damn catchy affair, mixing throaty hooks with big choruses that aren’t quite pop, but have all of its lasting power. The album is also very much a product of its environment – for Mills, at least. Raised on a diet of The Clash and the Sex Pistols, it wasn’t long into his teens that he discovered hardcore music, subsequently making it a huge part of his own life.

“I’m a massive fan of hardcore music,” says Mills. “Sick of It All, Blood for Blood, Stamping Ground, Knuckleduster… I really do love loads of music styles, but hardcore was the first that really grabbed me. It’s what lead me into playing in bands to begin with – and, to me, for all intents and purposes, The Smoking Hearts are a hardcore band. Not necessarily the style of music, but with our work ethic. We love all kinds of music, though – our playlists can go from Bon Jovi to Cradle of Filth, Meatloaf, The Lonely Island, The Roots, Take That, Rihanna. Nothing gets excluded. Everything gets a chance.”

It’s rare that one finds a hardcore band, self-described or not, taking this very mentality. It’s this open-mindedness, however, that has brought such a broad palette of sounds into the band – and that has certainly worked in the band’s favour. It, too, has made the band exceptionally proud of Victory!, to the point where Ben himself honestly cannot choose his favourite song from it. “They’ve all got their pros and cons,” he reasons.

“There’s no song that I feel is out of place, or that I wouldn’t have on the album had we done it again. I think my favourite right now, just to be playing live, is Blue Nun. It’s a party anthem, dedicated to our friends stuck in vans for months on end. But yeah, I really do love all of the songs on the album.”

Upon the February release of Victory!, Australia will be one of the first places to hear the album live. This isn’t just the first Aussie trip for the band, either – “We’re actually going to be going trans-Atlantic for the first time,” says Ben, excitedly. The whole band are genuinely thrilled to be bringing their music to Australia, especially on what they feel is a world-class bill of acts. “It’s surreal to us that we’re even wanted over there,” Mills says. “To have our album coming out there alone feels ridiculous to us, so be playing what looks like the biggest festival in your country is just amazing. There’s no line-up like it. All of our favourite bands are playing…it’s just ridiculous.”

Ladies and gentlemen, we give you The Smoking Hearts. Get to Soundwave early and ditch the line for beer – you’re not going to want to miss this.

INTERVIEW: Enter Shikari (UK), December 2011

So, I interviewed Enter Shikari once before this. It was with Rory, their guitarist. I was on the bus to uni when I got the call, and I completely forgot it was happening. I had to pull a whole interview out of my arse while I was on the bus. After all of that, I don’t think it even recorded – I have no record of it ever happening, but I know for a fact that it did. You don’t forget a goof like that.

Needless to say, the next time I was assigned to interview Enter Shikari I was much more on the ball. I was also speaking to Rou, their frontman, so I took it a bit more seriously. No offence to Rory at all, he’s a very cool guy. That was just the way my brain processed things back in the day. The band were about to release A Flash Flood of Colour, which is one of my favourite ES records. I wasn’t to know that, of course, so it was interesting talking to the band while they were essentially in a state of flux.

***

From the dirtiest electronic wig-outs to the most face-melting of riffs, ENTER SHIKARI have surely become one of the more fearless genre-hoppers to emerge in the 21st century. Their third album, A Flash Flood of Colour, is set to change the game even more than their previous two combined – and ROU REYNOLDS, the band’s frontman, can’t wait for you to hear it. He got on the line with DAVID JAMES YOUNG ahead of their fourth visit to Australian shores for the Soundwave Festival.

At this stage of their young careers, Enter Shikari are a lot of things to a lot of different people. To U.K. fans, they’re the headliners, the show-stoppers, the kind of band that can pack out any room you put them in. To most North Americans, though, right now they’re that band sticking out like the proverbial dog’s bollocks in a mostly-metalcore bill headling by The Devil Wears Prada. They’re back to where they started almost, clawing their way to the top of the food-chain much like they did for so many years in their native land. It’s not a frustrating experience for the band, however – if anything, vocalist Rou Reynolds says, it’s a change of pace and a change of perspective for the hard-working band.

“It’s been really cool to just do the thirty-minute sets again after finishing up our headliner in the U.K.,” he says. “You can just throw everything into that half-hour. We’ve been finding it to be a really stressful change-over as the second band on – of course, me with my electronic set-up, it’s very hard to get it all working in, like, fifteen minutes on the stage. We’re back to having a smaller crew than we’ve been used to on tour, as well, so the four of us are all helping out as much as we can. It’s essentially a matter of getting everything done as quickly as possible so we can play for as long as possible.”

Reynolds goes on to note the band’s approach to being the warm-up act, agreeing that it certainly differs the band’s demeanour as opposed to performing to a crowd that has come specifically to see them. “It’s weird,” he says. “I think that we embrace it in different ways, I suppose. I mean, certainly, you’re there to win over as many people as you can, so that can add a bit of pressure. There’s less pressure in the regards that you don’t have to worry about it being “your” show, per se. People aren’t going to be up in arms if you’re a bit shit. We usually find that we play a bit better when we’re a support act. I dunno, it kind of makes us feel like the underdog again. It’s a situation where we often find ourselves really relaxed, and it’s one that we can thrive in.”

After taking some time away from extensive touring, the band have found themselves back into the full swing of things as they gear up to release their third album, A Flash Flood of Colour. As the band push themselves further than they ever have before from a musical perspective, Flash Flood is set to be Enter Shikari’s most divisive work yet. Fearless in its politics, off-the-chart in its dynamics and hugely ambitious from start to finish, it is a bold and brazen album that takes no prisoners and doesn’t have time for non-believers. The big question, of course, is exactly where the hell the whole thing came from. Even Rou himself has some trouble explaining exactly how Enter Shikari came to this point in their careers.

“A lot of the actual music is quite old,” he begins. “There are a lot of ideas on here that just weren’t fully formed enough to appear on either of our previous two records [2007’s Take to the Skies and 2009’s Common Dreads]. We were lucky with this record in that we actually got to spend two months just writing and experimenting with different sounds before we actually went in and made the record. We did the record with [Dan] Weller, who is an old mate of ours. He grew up just a few miles down the road from where we all grew up, so he was a major part of the scene that we came up out from. His band, SikTh, were a band that we all really looked up to when we were starting out in the hardcore scene. With how relaxed we were and how confident we were with Weller, this was really a fun record to make.”

Unlike the band’s previous work, A Flash Flood of Colour was not recorded in the U.K. Rather, the band took themselves to Bangkok, of all places; where they spent a month recording at Karma Sound Studios. “Once we got to Thailand,” recalls Rou, “there was such a sense of concentration on the record. There were no distractions surrounding us, so it allowed us to really have fun with it. The mind is best when it’s relaxed and able; and it definitely had an impact on the record.”

The latter half of 2011 saw the band slowly draw out more information about the record to fans. Initially, the band released the single “Ssnakepit” in September to an active and positive online response. It was the second song to be lifted from the album, however, that really shook things up: a state-of-the-union address by the name of “Gandhi Mate, Gandhi.” Part political furor and part ear-splitting dubstep, the song is an update of the song “Gut Up to This,” released by Reynolds as an instrumental under his electronica psuedonym, Rout.

“We feel as though we have somewhat of a responsibility, really,” says Rou on the band’s more political side. “Now that we’re in this position and people are actually listening to us – whether we like it or not. We just feel as though there’s an imbalance in mainstream music – or art in general, really – in terms of the subject matter; what people are talking about, what people are making art about. I mean, so much out there is just used to divide people; whether that’s religion or patriotism or whatever. So many things are being used in order to make us fear our fellow man. We feel it’s important for us as a band to speak up and speak out for things that we think should be addressed.”

As the grind of touring continues, Enter Shikari will soon find themselves back in Australia, where they are making their fourth visit. It coincides with the international release of Flash Flood, which drops in mid-February, and the band are particularly excited to play their second Soundwave Festival. They all have very fond memories of down under, particularly when they were first exposed to Aussie audiences through the 2008 Big Day Out festival.

“Before we started this band, the furthest I’d ever been from home was a little island called Gurnsey on the English south coast, between England and France,” Reynolds says. “Two years later, I’m going to Australia with my band. It was mad. It was something I thought I’d never do. It was amazing for us – everyone that we met on that tour was really friendly, the shows were all really energetic. Every time we go there – I know this must sound so cliché, but really – we’re reminded why it’s our favourite place to tour. In terms of just the band enjoying themselves and having a good time, Australia is always number one.”

Talk shifts to the line-up of the Soundwave Festival itself, and Rou couldn’t be more enthused. “When I looked at it, I just thought it looked incredible,” he says. “It’s going to be so good to be touring with Your Demise and letlive. again. We did the Warped Tour with The Dillinger Escape Plan two years ago – they were one of the only bands who kept us going amongst all this scene homogenised muck. It’s going to be a really friendly, laid-back festival. We’re excited.”

INTERVIEW: Break Even (AUS), December 2011

I admired Break Even from afar for years and years. They’re a band that mean a lot to me, and to a lot of other people as well. I never met Mark in person properly until 2014, when Break Even did their reunion tour. After that, I saw him a lot out on the road as a tour manager for just about everyone. We’re not besties or anything like that, but we always make a point of saying g’day whenever we’re at the same show and he’s always been a big supporter of my podcast.

Obviously, I only knew him as this legend of the scene back when this interview happened, so it’s funny seeing me fangirl over the band a bit and bring up some snark against that Title Fight tour in this feature. Very different times, folks. Anyway, I love Mawds. You should too.

***

One of the hardest working bands in Australia, Perth’s BREAK EVEN spent 2011 playing some of their biggest and wildest shows yet. Ahead of their appearances at the Soundwave Festival, DAVID JAMES YOUNG spoke to the band’s irrepressible vocalist, MARK “MAWDS” BAWDEN, to discuss everything from playing in museums to supporting Australian music.

Normally, phone interviews with musicians are connected through to the musician’s home, or their hotel – or, in some instances, even their tour bus. Mark Bawden is quite a different tale, however. With the band’s touring over – at least, for a month or two – Bawden is back in the workforce, where he takes our call and heroically sacrifices smoko in order for him to do the interview.

“I work transplanting trees, horticultural kind of stuff,” he explains. “They’re thankfully pretty understanding that I can’t always be here, and when I’m here I’m a pretty hard worker, so it’s a good relationship.” Being a hard worker is certainly not a foreign concept to Bawden and his band, who hit the ground running with their 2009 debut, The Bright Side, and have barely stopped for breath since. In 2011 alone, the band toured with artists as diverse as Rise Against, Title Fight and The Getaway Plan, each tour bringing a new challenge and a flock of new fans towards the band’s passionate, melodically-swayed take on post-hardcore.

“We got to tour through Europe in February – that was a really great experience,” recalls Mark. “That was just the start of it. All through this year it’s been about the really big experiences for this band. We’ve gotten to do things that we hadn’t previously had a chance to do. Europe meant playing to a lot of different kinds of audiences through different cultures. With the Rise Against shows, it meant performing these massive arena shows – which was nerve-wracking at first, but soon became really fun. Lately, we’ve been doing shows with The Getaway Plan. We were so stoked to see those guys together and just smashing it; and it was great for us to be playing to these audiences that we definitely weren’t used to.”

This retrospect eventually leads to the Title Fight tour. Already controversial before it even began, due to bloated ticket prices and venue choices, things got even more heated on the first night of the tour, at Brisbane’s Old Museum. “We all got spoken to before the show started and got told that we couldn’t rile up the crowd,” says Mark, giving his side of the story. “We couldn’t have stage diving or anything, because it was a really…y’know… Old Museum. So, from the start of the show, it was a really weird vibe. Unfortunately, the night was really timid, and no-one felt like they could really get into our set or Touche’s set. When it came to the last song of Title Fight’s set, I think everyone decided that then was the moment to get really crazy.”

“It all got a bit too crazy,” he continues. “Some dudes got on stage, and then one of the guys who worked at the venue grabbed the kid, who was really close to Title Fight’s guitarist. At this point, Title Fight’s stage tech saw what was going on and pushed the guy who worked there off the stage or something like that. The cops were called, and I was just up the back watching the whole thing. It felt like a really bad way to end the show, but in a way I think it showed that pretty much everyone that was there was there for the right reasons.”

Amazingly, amongst all of this extensive touring, Break Even have found the time to begin work on the long-awaited follow-up to The Bright Side. Bawden does not give too much away in regards to what we can expect from the record, instead finding himself discussing the context of the album’s songwriting process. “I guess we’re all growing up,” he says. “We’ve all got full-time jobs, so we’re not the kind of band that can just finish touring and then head straight back into the studio. We’re a band that kind of takes our time, and we’re not letting anyone push us – least of all ourselves. This year,we tried to push to finish the record, but all that really did was get the group angry at one another. It didn’t work out at all. The way we’re working now is much better. At this stage, it will probably be ready by the middle of next year.”

Before the release of the record, however, Break Even have one last massive tour ahead of them in the form of the Soundwave Festival. As one of three Australian acts playing the festival – alongside Sydney bands Tonight Alive and Heroes for Hire – many see the opportunity for a homegrown band to be playing an internationally-dominated festival as a privilege. The question must be asked, however: is it really a privilege for an Australian band to be playing an Australian music festival?

Bawden considers this, and answers carefully. “I think if any band from Australia got an opportunity to do this, then they would love to do it,” he says. “With that said, that is something that Soundwave really needs to open its doors to; and that’s having more Australian bands as a part of the line-up. It’s a very different environment for bands – not everyone who goes to shows goes to festivals, and vice-versa. So it’s good for a band like us, where we can hopefully get those people to come out to one of our own shows. It’s not a privilege, not at all. For us, though, it’s definitely an honour to play something like this. I’m sure many other bands would find it an honour, too – which is why I’d love to see a whole stage at Soundwave dedicated to Australian music. Wouldn’t it be great to have that amongst… what is it, a hundred international bands? In the end, it is an Australian festival. I’m glad that they’ve opened it up, but it needs to go further.”