ROLO TOMASSI: time to draw a line
James Spence on the band’s latest nostalgia trip
James: Well we’ve been around for six years, and it took us three years to release a full length because of school and education commitments. We’d write songs and just put stuff out until it was sold out and then we’d move onto the next thing. This was back when we’d just make a couple of hundred copies and that would be it and it all sold out quite quickly. We’d actually been discussing it for a couple of years, the idea of just putting together all the old releases because there are a lot of songs that people didn’t get to hear and we thought it would be quite nice to put everything, that wasn’t on the full lengths, together and package it up as one thing because now, while we’re still doing the smaller releases, we are releasing albums. We saw the opportunity to put all of this together under one thing so the older stuff was available for people to hear, and other things which were only on vinyl and tape which people can now get on MP3 which I guess is important for the digital music era. It just seemed like the right time to do it, we’ve released the second album and we’re writing for the third one, but we’re taking our time on that one, so this was kind of drawing a line under that old material. It was a really cool nostalgia trip; we put together all the old flyers and we’re really happy about it looks. I think it justifies putting it out.
Sonic Shocks: But you also recorded some new tracks for the release…
James: Yeah. Well for the last two years we’ve done the Singles Club, which is a bunch of vinyl releases across a year, and the first three songs on Eternal Youth are part of last year’s Singles Club and the first songs post-Cosmology: Mount Celestia, Titanomachia and Pillfox; there the newest songs we have. So it’s kind of nice that we have stuff from the very first demo which we recorded ourselves and then right at the start we have the newest songs we recorded last year. It’s kind of nice to see the full circle of the last six years.
Sonic Shocks: When you heard the final product was it strange seeing how you’d progressed as band?
James: Yeah it was weird. Some of it we haven’t played in so long and I’m not really in the habit of listening to my own band so it’s kind of been on the die for a long time, but we had it all remastered and it was just weird because there is this visible change, even in some of the older material. I mean with C is for Calculus which was on our self-titled E.P., the first thing we released on Holy Roar, you can see how we were going to develop over time but it still took us a few releases to really push certain aspects of the band which we always had in us, but, I don’t know maybe we weren’t brave enough to kind of push that. It was really nice to hear it ourselves and see that we haven’t been the same band for six years. That we’ve progressed with what we’ve done.
Sonic Shocks: Has the set list for this tour changed due to the release of Eternal Youth?
James: No, it was discussed that we could bring in a few older tracks but the point of bringing that out before the tour wasn’t to do a Greatest Hits, it was more a case of “we’re going on tour here’s a new CD, or we’re releasing a CD and we’re going on tour” so we’re playing one old song and the three new tracks. I mean some of the songs on there we’ve played hundreds and hundreds of times so it would have been a bit of a step back to drop in lots of old tracks when we’re trying to move forward. There are still a lot of tracks off Cosmology that we haven’t played that much in the U.K. because this will only be the second time we’ve toured here after Cosmology so this was our chance to round off touring Cosmology and give an indication of where we’re going next with the new songs.
Sonic Shocks: You’ve only toured the U.K. twice for Cosmology, how has the international response to it been?
James: It’s been cool. We did Europe twice last year and a few European festivals and it’s good but there’s still a lot of work to be done. I mean we toured the U.K. for five years before we really ventured out of the country so we’re almost five years behind but we have had a step up and other countries do take notice. We lucky enough to go to Australia twice last year which was phenomenal and I guess, outside of the U.K. we do best out there so it’s kind of our biggest territory, in technical music industry terms, but yeah it’s really cool going that far from home and having people know the words to our songs and actually having a response. We’re focusing on Europe and other places this summer because it’s so big and you can go four or five times a year and barely scratch the surface. It’s really exciting for us because it’s so small over here that you can really do the U.K. to death whereas over there is new territory for us and by doing less over here it makes people more excited.
Sonic Shocks: Last year was a massive year for you. You supported The Dillinger Escape Plan and played festivals like Damnation Festival. Did you see Eternal Youth as a way of introducing the newer fans to your old material?
James: Absolutely. This is the thing that I think a lot of people, even though we’ve released two albums, consider us a new band which is really bizarre but it’s how it is. You can’t expect everyone to know about all different types of music and by playing support slots and festivals we hope to be picking up new fans along the way and while they may know about the albums, they know have all the old stuff in Eternal Youth. I mean if I get into a band I want to know everything they’ve done and now that we’ve got this package people can hear literally everything we’ve ever done…excluding a few live sessions that we couldn’t afford to buy (laughs).
Sonic Shocks: You were a very different band to appear at Damnation Festival.
James: Totally. It was cool, it was at Leeds University and we did two shows there: Slamdunk and Damnation, and we didn’t really fit on the bill for either but I thought we might go down better at Slamdunk. That wasn’t the case at all, we had the worst time and I was worried about Damnation because it is a metal festival and I thought we stuck out on the bill and that people wouldn’t be into it but we played to a packed room and it was one of the best dates on the tour in terms of people just giving us a chance. The shows we did with Dillinger were really good for us and then at a festival like Damnation, where there’s some really fucking harsh stuff and we’ve got different elements which some of the bands didn’t have and it was really nice that people gave us a chance and didn’t write us off.
Sonic Shocks: You mentioned you’re writing the third full length; how is that going?
James: It’s good! We’ve got maybe two finished songs. There are no vocals yet, we are just writing the music at the moment. There are a lot of ideas; I’d say we’ve got half a full length worth ideas, but only two finished songs. We’re just putting things together and jamming new ideas, as I said we’re taking it slowly this time because we’ve not really got any time constraints this time round. We’re all kind of surprised we even got to the stage of writing a third full length, so there’s no point in rushing it if we are going to release this. We’d rather make it count rather than rush release something for the sake of having something out.
Sonic Shocks: You bring in a lot of different styles into your music; is the writing process difficult?
James: It’s never really the aim to make everything sound different because I think if we did do that it would be difficult going to the next song. It’s always been a case of writing what comes naturally, which might sound strange considering how contrasting the music is, but that’s always how it’s been. I mean there are two of us who write the majority of the music so it’s always kind of reflective of the music we’ve been listening to. Again, going back to Eternal Youth, I think you can see how what we listen to has changed and developed over the six years; like at the start we were listening to loads of really fucking harsh hardcore, like 30 second blasts of noise and that kind of thing and then over time, I hate to use the word, but we’ve matured. It hasn’t been difficult though, just writing things that come naturally and what we think sounds good and I guess it’s more towards the bigger songs on Cosmology like Kasia and the title track and the newer tracks we did last year. Just really big riffs, longer tracks which are more epic sounding with a bit more melody I guess.