This year of all the British rock and metal bands to emerge one has come forth to thrust UK rock music into an exciting and invigorating rapture more than most. From the release of a single demo track, Soldierfield lifted not only the acclaim and temperatures of fans to heady heights but inspired labels and media to sought them out. The buzz generated around the band also led to a heated anticipation for their debut EP Bury The Ones We Love, a release which veined with towering enterprise, rampaging riffs alongside fiery energies, and compulsive melodic imagination, left people breathless and us to declare it as a true classic debut. We took the chance to find out more about the release, the background to the band, and what follows for Soldierfield when having the pleasure of talking with vocalist Leigh Oates and guitarist Andy Trott.
Hi Guys and welcome to The Ringmaster Review
Would you start by telling us about Soldierfield, how the band began, and the initial intent behind the drive of the band?
Andy – It started out with Simon and I really. I’d knocked together about a dozen tracks with the intention of putting a band around me, getting some really quality material and seeing where it went. I brought Simon on board early doors and we tried out various people to complete the line-up but to no avail so I sounded Steve out about producing some pro-quality demos that we could use to showcase what I’d written and he put Leigh in touch with us. We gave him a track called ‘Massive Dynamic’ and he came back with ‘Feel Alive’ and there it was a beautiful thing was born! That was quickly followed up by ‘Skyflower’ and ‘Better Angels’ which became ‘The Path’. ‘Leave You In Dirt’ was next, think that was called ‘Get Your Frankenstein On’, and then ‘Bury The Ones We Love’ was a real last minute bombshell, I wrote the music in a night, Leigh came back with it a few days later and we had our EP. So what started out as a 3-track instrumental demo almost overnight turned into a full-blown EP.
Leigh – The first I knew about Soldierfield was through Steve who mentioned to me that Andy an old friend of his had tapped him up to produce some tracks from his new project; he also mentioned the project didn’t at that time have vocals. I happened to hear the demos from Steve and really liked the vibe of the tracks and thought I could definitely contribute positively so I mentioned to Steve that if Andy wanted some vocals I’d be happy to work with him. We just made it all about the songs and they came together really easily. I thought the potential in the demos was massive. I never get involved with projects unless I can see that potential and really like the music so for me the drive was to record some absolutely belting songs and if we did that other things would fall into place.
Have those original intentions for the band and sound changed or evolved in any way across the past year?
Leigh – For me the original intention remains – it’s all about the songs! Luckily reaction to the EP has been great and it’s meant that we have been able to look at doing more with the band, we always had a plan with the EP – to lay the ground work for an album in 2013 and at the moment the EP is doing a great job for us.
Andy – Yeah, gotta agree with Urco here, we picked the 5 best songs from a pool of about 8 or 9, booked a studio with Steve and went for it. People really seem to like what we’re doing so that’s just spurring us on to make the album sound even better. I think at this stage we’re just looking to write the best songs that we possibly can.
With the experience in bands for some of Soldierfield has this meant there have not been any hidden surprises and shocks in regard to the band and its passage to date?
Leigh – There’s lots of experience within the band but it’s still a great buzz to record and release new music and get a great reaction from fans & press…its always nerve wracking to release a new band and see what the fans/press will make of it, we were really happy with the EP though and as fans of music if we like it surely others will!
Andy – For me, the whole thing has been a surprise already, I’m still getting used to some of the great reviews that we’ve had, including right here! Some of the other guys have a lot more experience in the public eye than me so it’s been good to get their take on things as they’ve progressed throughout the year. It’s been strange, January and February was quite frantic with Leigh and I getting the songs ready and demo’d up, then the Metalbox thing appeared from nowhere and suddenly we were in the studio in May. It’s been a long wait to finally release the EP in October and now everything is going fairly mad again.
Your sound is impressively diverse with a seamless fluidity to its muscular and melodic craft, who are the major influences which have predominately lit your creative fires?
Andy – I just threw everything I knew into the pot! I grew up on everything from Bay Area thrash to LA hair metal, grunge, nu-metal, you name it, there’s something to be taken, or more importantly learnt, from all the different strains of rock and metal that are out there and I’m still finding great new bands all the time. For Soldierfield I always wanted to splice that massive chunky bottom end with huge vocal hooks and bringing Leigh and Jeff into the mix allowed me to do that from both ends. When it came to writing the guitar parts I just pulled on every influence I’ve ever had.
Leigh – I love music and certainly have too many influences to mention as a singer but I’ve always had a real fascination with melody and heavy music, I don’t think enough heavy bands have enough melody for me and enough melodic bands have enough heavy bits! I guess you always run the risk of not doing what everyone else is but I’m comfortable with that.
As mentioned you have just released the outstanding Bury The Ones We Love EP, which for us are five tracks of stirring and blazing power and imagination. Has its acclaimed reception surprised you considering it is your debut?
Leigh – It’s been a great reaction so far to the EP and we’ve all been Ko’d by it. That said, we worked very hard on the songs and knew within the group we had something special, we were confident with it but you still never know what the general reaction will be like!
Andy – It’s frankly amazed me! When I think back to writing the music to ‘Skyflower’ on Christmas Night on a nearly-as-trashed-as-me acoustic guitar… yeah, it’s kind of weird to now hear people telling me how much they love that track. Same with ‘Feel Alive’, I thought it was a great riff but listening to it getting played in a rock club and watching people going batshit crazy to it is a pretty amazing feeling. The reviews have just blown me away, I got called a one man riff machine a while back, I felt like getting that tattooed on my face I was so proud!
You released the EP through Metalbox Recordings who am I right in believing came to you after hearing a demo track you released early this year?
Leigh – Yeah the timing couldn’t have been better for us, Metalbox heard the demo of ‘Feel Alive’ and we went from there, Anna and Larry have been really helpful and I’ve nothing but good things to say about them.
Andy – Can’t really add anything to that, they’ve been fantastic for us!
What was it about the label in a time where more and more bands are going DIY style which appealed to you and led to you signing with them?
Leigh – For me it was their passion for music and their close relationship with the bands on their roster, I’ve been through quite a few deals where you never really have any clue what the label is planning for the band, with this deal its very transparent and that appeals to me. As a band we’re pretty proactive and a lazy label just wouldn’t cut it for us. As well as the ethos they had good physical and digital distribution and a passion for PR, again essential for a new band.
Andy – They were just really excited about it, loved the track, I think we sent them ‘Bury…’ as well so they knew it wasn’t just one huge song that we had up our sleeves. We had already heard good things about them as a label so it was an easy choice to make.
That first song we mentioned helped create a real buzz around the band with many declaring Soldierfield as the band to watch and most likely to produce something special within UK rock. Did that add any pressure around the making of Bury The Ones We Love?
Leigh – Not for me, I just knew I had to get the takes down; no one puts more pressure on me than myself!
Andy – Not at all, we put that one out as it pretty much defined the Soldierfield sound, big and heavy with a great melody, but we knew the rest of the tracks were just as strong so we were all confident that we would come out of the studio with big, memorable songs and a great production on it as well.
Tell us about the recording of Bury The Ones We Love, how long did it take to record and were the final versions of songs as you envisaged going into the studio?
Andy – We did the whole thing in 2 weeks flat, it shat it down the first week and then we had glorious sunshine for the final week. It was still bloody freezing in that studio though! We made a few minor changes as we went along, Steve came up with some really cool ideas to trim some of the fat off and make the structures a lot punchier but other than that we were pretty much prepared beforehand.
Leigh – I did all my vocals in 2 days for the EP; I was really well prepared but kept it simple and made sure the vibe was there, Steve did a great job producing me. The songs came out pretty much as I expected they would, the guitar sounds were massive 🙂
How does the writing process work within the band?
Leigh – On the whole the songs come from riffs mainly from Andy and Steve, I then get the rough songs and add in vocal melodies and lyrics – technology is a massive help to share files and ideas. I really go with my gut feeling on the writing side, keeping it all very natural and don’t over think anything, I’m a prolific writer when I get going and the Soldierfield songs come very easy so I don’t question it! Once we have something that is pretty much a full demo of a song we get in the jam room and turn up 🙂
Andy – This time around I already had a lot of material demo’d up so when Leigh arrived on the scene it was simple a case of chucking it all at him and picking the best from there. Things will be a lot more collaborative going forward so we’re bouncing ideas back and forth, honing everything down into some killer songs.
Is there a more regular spark or more constant seed to how your songs evolve from, such as a riff or melody?
Andy – Most things start with me in my little office/studio with a little 6 track Boss recorder, a drum machine and an amp modeller. It’s all about the riff for me so I’ll just play and mess about and if I end up bouncing up and down in my chair going ‘Oo oo oo oo’ like a rabid monkey then I know it’s a keeper. ‘Skyflower’ was a little different, I had the acoustic track all written but it was only when I started adding in the lead lines that run throughout the song that it turned into something proper. I went back to it the following night, played it in the dark and threw in the harmony guitar lines and nearly reduced myself to tears. That’s when you know you’re onto something.
Leigh is Mr. Melody Man so I’ll demo up a track, send it over to him and once we’ve got a ‘keeper’ then we’ll start looking at the arrangements and adding in a few extra bits of fairy dust here and there.
For the album, I’ll probably kick off most of the ideas again but this time around I’m really looking forward to bouncing off of Jeff and Steve and throwing their ideas and styles into the pool.
You recorded the EP with Steve Wray, he is someone Soldierfield knows well and from before the band I believe?
Andy – Steve and I played together in a band called Swampdiva many lifetimes ago and I was always hugely impressed with the quality of the demos that Steve put together during that time. Same story again when he did the second RTA album, so when I was ready to start turning the demos into something a bit more full-on, he was first choice all the way. Knowing each other made the whole process a lot easier and a whole lot of fun to do despite his many, many terrible impressions!
Leigh – I love working with Steve we have such a great time recording and playing live so I really liked the idea of him producing the EP – good choice Andy! I’ve played for 7 years with Steve in Rise To Addiction and had the pleasure of sharing some choice moments. I knew the EP would sound great and be in safe hands. The fact he contributed to the music and added leads simply meant he was hooked and is now a fully paid up member of the band!
Do you have set directions and purpose for your songs when recording them which you do not like to veer from or are you open to suggestions and ideas from say a producer?
Leigh – We usually have a pretty good idea about what we want having demoed the tracks before recording with a producer; that said you have to be open to ideas especially from an experienced set of ears! Sometimes as a band you can be too close to the song and need that person to be a more objective view.
Andy – As I mentioned before, Steve chopped up some of the arrangements which really helped shape some of the intros and outros. We were pretty much set with everything else, we spent a lot of time on the sounds and the shape of ‘Skyflower’, I wanted to go with something much cleaner and brighter on the verses but Steve kept it simple and it’s definitely better for it. The chorus was originally quite a bit more laid back as well but we ended up just pounding it with the Mesa Boogie sounds which has given it such a massive uplift.
How are you finding the metal and rock scene in the UK being on the inside, is it as vibrant as it seems to us with the emergence of many great new bands over the past year?
Leigh – It seems to be in a good state, there’s lots of good bands about that’s for sure! I don’t see many breaking out of the club scene though which would be nice as it would help the overall scene grow and pave the way for more successful bands.
Andy – There are so many really good new bands knocking on the door at the minute, I really hope that the door opens up for a few of them as well as us. There’s only really Bullet For My Valentine that have made the truly massive leap in recent times, would be nice to think that there are more to follow.
Do you feel bands now have to look at themselves as a business as well as a strong creative force to survive and succeed or can achieve the same levels if their sound is good enough having a split life, i.e. band and personal working life?
Leigh – It’s very hard to balance as there’s not a great deal of money in being in bands until you hit a certain level of sales and attendance at shows…most bands you think are full time probably fund their effort with other work when not on tour!
What is next for Soldierfield, an album in the works?
Leigh – Definitely! We’re well on with the writing and we’re very happy with the direction the songs are taking J we’re also looking at live shows and the possibility of some bonus acoustic tracks in the near future.
Can you give some details about the album and does Bury The Ones We Love give a strong representation of what the release will be like?
Leigh – I think from the 5 songs we’ve got written that we’ll be building on the EP sound so there’ll be all the elements we had before but we’re trying to go a bit further and give the listener an even better fuller journey!
Andy – The album is definitely starting to take shape now, there’s some monster guitar parts on there and now that we’ve pretty much defined the sound that we were looking for with ‘Bury…’ we can look to build on that. ‘Your Bones’ is probably my favourite of the new tracks but that changes every day.
The EP ends with the massive and magnificent track, The Path. It feels like a beginning in many ways, maybe the key to the album ahead? Please tell us more about the song.
Leigh – I think you’re right, we wanted this track to leave the listener wanting to know what happens next…it does set our next release up J The song asks the question ‘Is this the path to see the light?’ the main protagonist of the EP will find out soon I guess as will you!
Andy – Musically ‘The Path’ was one of the first things I wrote for Soldierfield but it wasn’t really until Leigh added his parts to it that it turned into the beast that it is today. We replaced the whole middle section a few weeks before going into the studio which made a massive difference and I was still fiddling with the lyrics to it while Leigh was finishing recording the other tracks. The outro was basically 3 notes on a music box while we had an hour left on the studio clock so Steve and I quickly added in a range of acoustic lines that gives it that rather magical ending.
It sets up the album perfectly, we have a ‘sequel’ if you can call it that, called ‘The Light’ which will probably be the opening track.
Do you have anything planned for the end of this year as a band?
Leigh – You can assume we’ll spend time drinking together, talking rubbish, eating curry and generally looking back on the year as a success overall!
Andy – Did someone say curry???
Thank you so much for sharing your time with us, much appreciated.
Would you like to leave with any last words of thoughts?
Leigh – Thanks for all the support we’re really grateful!! We’re a new band so help us spread the word, pick up the EP and come out and see us live; I don’t think you’ll be too disappointed :). Here are some links:
Lastly if there is one song people should use as the doorway into the striking world of Soldierfield which would you suggest?
Leigh – We have a new video out for the track ‘Leave You In Dirt’, please check out this track for a taster of the EP! TURN IT UP!!!
Read the Bury The Ones We Love EP review@ https://ringmasterreviewintroduces.wordpress.com/2012/10/30/soldierfield-bury-the-ones-we-love-ep/
The Ringmaster Review 25/11/2012
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