So you found us safely then. Lets pick up the story shall we.
Well, after finishing the Prawn interview, a quick chat with Al ends, and its off towards the bar. On the way there, I meet Ed, vocalist for the next victims, Cynical Smile. He kindly agrees to an interview as well, and rounds up Dan (drums) and Matt (bass). We retire to a different corner of the pub and settle down. Word of advice. Dont give the band a copy of your zine which has your review of their album in it. Cos suddenly you feel, well, kinda dumb as theyre sat there reading it. Its bad enough them reading the zine (are they going to laugh or gag), but the review. Anyway, enough.
After reading the review, I say that its a good album, which it is. Matt starts agreeing, but saying the album was one directional. The reason would emerge.
Yeah, its alright. I think the next one will be a hell of a lot better, but its a good start. These things are hard, you have to set yourself a direction. So it could be really easy to put in a lot of changes. We did kinda stray on a few things, maybe some of the later stuff we wrote, we made sure we kept it a pretty straight direction, for that record anyway. Its really really one directional. The guy in Metal Hammer, when he reviewed it, put it best. He said, Injecting your penis with steroids. The only problem is you may get a permanent erection, but you may get a chance of going limp. Even the thought is a bit much for me. But I think, do what you do and stick with it.
So what kind of direction do you think that one was. The so called new metal, hardcore?
I think with doing that first album, the band got tagged with a fairly heavy image, which is good in a way.We didnt necessarily think, make the album like were a heavy band, I think it was like, the sheer intensity, and the sheer, sometimes I think the word is misunderstanding, of people looking at our band. And sometimes I think frustration is a good word, especially like you say in the review, nothing against American bands, I mean I truly believe there are a lot of American bands who are much better than British bands, and the problem is, the size of their country is so big, it produces so many bands. England is just like an island compared. So I think the scene over here is pretty healthy compared to how many bands you could get compared to the size of a county like America. So, I think thats why the album sounds pretty angry, cos we were at the time. No British bands were really cutting it. Thats definitely the reason. I dont think we said oh lets write a heavy record or lets do this and I know for a fact that a lot of the newer stuff is still keeping our sound, the intensity, but the songs are improving. Theres a lot of new influences coming in. I think on the first record, wed been together over 3 years or so, and wed sort of got our own sound at the end I feel.
Theres been a lot of talk about you sounding like RATM. The first time I saw you, was down in London at the Voivod gig cool show and having not heard anything before, it sounded good. Afterwards I read about the band, and there were all these RATM comparisons, but it just didnt strike me, even listening to the album. Do you think its valid? And if you were American and sounding like RATM, do you think youd be accepted more for it?
I dont think so. There are people that say that we are like RATM and that doesnt bother me at all. Weve been compared to so many different bands , you could say RATM, Stuck Mojo you could say so many bands. And then its the same question, does any of them bother me, and no, cos if you can relate to it then youre half way there.
But do you think if you were an American band sounding like that, that you would then get more attention and recognition for what you do?
Probably be able to answer that in a couple of years. If were in the same position as this in two years time, then yeah. Weve got some American labels looking at us now, some strong interest over there. And America, I think theyre more maybe into putting money into bands than maybe British labels, who are really scared. I mean, they like bands that chart because theres not really a lot to offer on the touring side of things. But in the States, youve got to tour. With bands like us you have to tour, we wont get in the charts. So labels out there put more money into them.
With the Rage thing again, a lot of the time its come up in the press where the comparison with Rage has generally been the worst reviews weve had and its been by jouranlists who I know arent into our music and theyll walk into the venue, quick glimpse, oh, RATM bollocks and then walk out again. But a lot of the people whove bothered to look into it and listen to it, have said quite the opposite, which is yeah you know, were doing this style of music and I think the intensity of the live show comes across very RATMy, but weve always been quite energetic on stage yknow.
You mentioned the touring aspect, particularly in the States. This seems to be the first real tour that youve been able to do in the UK since the album was released.
Were going to be touring more, this tour, and then were going to be out again soon. And writing the second album now.
But its been about 6 months now since I got the album, and the first time Ive been able to see the band touring. Is that time frustrating?
Not at all, cos we deserve it man, we deserve a break laughs Dan. Weve had a lot of stuff on. When the album actually first came out, we did a lot of gigs but we didnt really go out around the country, and at the time we thought wed put the album out and work on the press a bit more, which paid off, cos we did have a lot of press with the album. And we thought wed wait un til the next year, wait for the right tour and the places where we want to go and this came up and is the strongest one. We want to go to a lot of smaller places to start off with and then weve got the tour with like Stuck Mojo. Were playing the London date and then the dates in June. These things all cost money. Its all very well going out doing gigs and touring, but sometimes you can miss the point a little bit yknow,. Youve got to be sensible about it yknow. It costs a lot of money to get out there and do it.
Do you have any expectations when you do these sort of gigs, expectations of the crowd?
You always get a response anyway yknow, whereever you go, whether theres one person there or loads of people there reckons Ed. What I really liked about up North, if I can say that, is that I think people are well into their music yknow.
a lot more than probably down South. Being Welsh, ill leave the North / South discussion upto everyone else.
I mean, early on we did a lot of big gigs with bands like Manhole, Shelter, CIV, Scrap Iron Scientists, Baby Chaos. But in the end,we have to go back to again, cos a lot of people seeing those bands see our band, but if theyve got 10 pounds to spend, theyre going to buy the headline bands album. So we had to go right back to the begining, put our album out, big shows down South to put our name out, get recognition within the industry, then we had to go back and get out there like we are now. sort of work up from the begining again, especially with the magazines sort of thing over here.
The final track on the album, name, the 95 demo, seems to me to have a real Rollins feel to it, especially in the vocals, which isnt present on the rest of the album. Is the influence there, and is its absence a sign of development, changing influences?
I think its so interesting that thats said, cos youve now named like 3 bands now.
Im thinking especially in the vocals.
I dunno, cos when we did that, I wasnt listening to Rollins until after wed actually done it.I think we were a more basic band back then. Id been listening to a lot of Chilli Peppers style stuff then, but Rollins came into it about a year and a half ago really, listening to it and seeing what hed done, but I wouldnt really say it had influenced it.
I just seem to hear these influences noone ever heres. Like interviewing Therapy? the other week, I said I thought one song sounded like Joyrider and from the reaction, they thought I was completely off the mark.
Like that Slayer thing. I can see where you get that from yeah. Thats in reference to me reckoning in YAZ previously, that Gunga-din had a Slayer like riff in it. Thank God someone can, or at least will humour me.
Time to be stupid now, but the meaning of the album title, Stupas. anything behind it?
Speak to this man here laughs Ed, and Matt gets ready to explain things.
You lot ready for this. Come on then.
Right, you ready for this. Theres quite a big meaning behind the whole record really. Saying its very one dimensional is a very good thing I believe, to set your direction with this record. The next one well take it in a different direction, we dont want to be a band that sticks to one thing, were going to be, not just experimentatl, but we like to think that over the next two or three albums that we do, that were going to grow a hell of a lot. But as far as Stupas, well Stupas is bascially, the Bhuddist temple ok, the highest point you can reach is the actual point in the roof, Stupas, and thats their mental state, and to get to that point, Stupas, you are totally at one with yourself. And we called the album that, it was the name of a song, which was The Circle, but we called the album that, just to give a really good vibe. Its basically if you can reach that point within yourself, then you cant better it. So its basically a Bhuddist ritual, so the album is ritualistic ina lot of the titles and things we wrote about on it. So thats it. Its not a made up word. I think its to do with achieving really as well as like getting recognition around you, its more about what recognition you get for yourself, so even if youve done that record and noone likes it, youve done it and youve done your best, and as long as us four are totally happy with it, then thats what its about.
Ok, I read in the last Org newsletter, that youre planning on releasing a single, backed with remixes, and already planning the next album.
Theres a band called Vitro, theyre like a dance crossover rock band, and theyremixed a couple of tracks for us with likeloads of drum loops, and the last thing they did was Silverchair. So we hooked up with those guys, and theyve done it for us, and Ive not even heard the end result yet, but Im told it sounds great laughs Matt.
Is that something that you decide to do, as I still have a problem with remixes, in that when they are so different to the original, why not just do a song in with that style and technology, insteead of including one word from the lyrics, or one portion of the riff and then using the song name.
The whole point of doing the remixes, was that we were going to put a couple on the album, but we decided not to in the end for that reason. We didnt want to set out the record with our sound on it, and then confuse people with what were doing. But I did like quite a lot of the Pitchshifter Vs Therapy? and Im quite into remixes, but we didnt want to put it on the album, its on the single. Its bascially a bit of fun and experimentation really. And if anybody picks up on it radio airplay wise, and plays it rather than something that they wouldnt normally play off the album, then for us in the long run its good. Itll be put out under Cynical Smile, but its really Vitro Cynical Smile, so really its down to them that even though its our single, its their baby yknow. So we didnt have any input on it at all. We just gave them the track. So if you think its shit its not our fault yeah, laughs Ed.
According to the Org info as well, it was planned on having about 70 minutes of b-sides?
What is happening with it is, its a Cynical Smile single, were going to have a new track on it I think, from our new album. Its going to have an A side of our first album, whichll be The Circle, the Vitro remixes, and then its going to have a whole host of other bands from the UK, which can cut it. So its going to be like, no-ones ever really done that before, but its something that weve decided to do, and Sean really wanted to do. I dont necessarily like all th e other bands on there, but if someone gets to hear them through our single, then fair enough yknow. It pushes the British bands a lot more, yknow.
And the second album, any clue as to how it will sound?
I dont know what its going to sound like yet. Weve done our firstindependant releases, weve got a lot of interest from American labels, and were not going to go into it thinking about radio play, were just going to write the second album exactly what we want to hear yknow. Well be playing a couple of new tracks tonight off it. Its got a lot more dynamics, the dynamics of the new one is huge compared to the first album. well have see really, were just playing about a load of different ideas at the moment.
Any solid ideas of when it will be released?
Were going to tour this first album for a while yet, and I think when were happy with it, whether were going to put it through Org, or sign for a major label yet, Im not sure really. Weve had a few offers, but its making that break isnt it, from anindependant to a major label and generally, in my ideal world, it would be really nice to sign to a bigger label, like TVT in the States, or Century Media in Europe and thenstay on Org in Britain. Because I dont really feel that the British scene is big enough for this sort of music yet. So what I think well do is concentrate abroad a lot more, on building the band up a lot bigger over there and stay on Org over here, or maybe get Org to sign to a bigger label, so still have total control over what we want to do. It gets very political doesnt it!
Yep, time to relate the warning of the HWP experience with a major label. Guess its one of my fears for a lot of bands within the current scene. Its only supported while the main labels decide to. Then when theyve had enough, they just find some way to start up another trend, or sub genre, and the carpet is pulled from under a lot of good bands.
It would be nice to stay in control as long as we can really. The new record is going to be a bit more accessible to a lot wider audience than the first one. And Im sure well pick up a wider audience as we start branching out a bit.
Would there be an ideal band that you could get on tour with?
Um, at the moment I think were so individual that a lot of bands I think Id be a bit scared to say go on tour with. I could name loads of my favourite bands to go on tour with so that I could watch them every night, but I think were still finding our feet still. What bands to play with is such a hard thing, I mean at the moment, Ive mentioned Stuck Mojo, Deftones, these kinds of bands. In England, cant think of any British bands ... Motorhead he laughs. The British scenes picking up though reckons Dan.Its a cool place to be, and Id rather be a British band than an American one.
Ive asked a few American bands about the difference between crowds here and in the States, and they reply energy. But when you see a British crowd watching a British band ...
British bands cant just go out there and expect to be adored or expect people to go nuts. And sometimes the American bands, sometimes purely through the hype maybe from the magazines, but even then, you cant doubt that they are really good bands. And I think a lot of british bands tend to look at the American bands and think, well theyre doing this, we can do this and I think they should step back and say well, lets do our own thing in some cases. I mean, Id like to think that we got into our thing 4 or 5 years ago, and im hoping its paid off and weve got a lot more original sound for ourselves than maybe a lot of other bands who signed a couple of years ago. But we want to be associated with as many good British bands as possible, were not just up for saying yeah, yeah, American bands are the best . At the end of the day, we can all give them a run for their money.
Now, I didnt say this at the interview, but as im typing this up, I thought Ill add it. It ok saying they shouldnt exect to be adored. Fair enough. But they should expect some kind of equal treatment, which i dont think they get from the media or the public alike. As the guys said, theyve been doing their thing for years, but they still get the RATM comparisons, instead of the respect for being a good band in their own right. Its lazyness in part in my opinion. But, whatever.
I think its down to the money that can be put into bands. Anyone can ring up and take out a page in Kerrang!, but a lot of the smaller labels that have got the louder, more aggressive bands cant even afford to do that. But hopefully if the bands build over the next few years, and the fans really stick to the bands and get into them and build them up as well, then I think youll find its going to change.
Well, Im running out of questions, so Ill try and bring it to the end. But Ive still not figured out the right way to end these things (laughter, bastards, just cos i tend to be inept at these things!). Final thoughts someone told me.
Yeah, thats alway a hard one as well though (maybe, but at least it does appear to be the one to use, Ill have to remember for the future) . Comments were passed about the zine, but well not dwell on that! I think the more people like yourself who are doing independant magazines, the whole scene. Well yeah, it reaches the underground scene. Which is what counts.
So what better reason could you want for starting your own zine. Believe me, if I can put something together, then anyone can. Do it.
So thats it. One more mob to go, dont know if my brain can cope with it all, and then its the compartively easy part of watching the gig. Which was kin good. The new stuff sounded alot groovier than the old, and everything ends with Ed doing a headstand for what seemed like a lot longer than he should be able. Ive seen people a hell of a lot less stable on their feet than he was on his bonce, but maybe thats something to do with being in a pub!
Contact Cynical Smile at
Org Records, Unit 205, The Old Gramaphone Works, Kensal Road, London, W10 5BZ.
And theyve now got an official web site. Ooooh.