Bringing their own character and passion to modern metal with a nostalgic edge, WE ARE SOVEREIGN has been gaining keen and widespread plaudits as they distinctly emerge within the UK metal scene. We luckily grabbed some of their time to further explore their ascent…
Hi and thank you for sharing your time to chat with us.
Hi RingMaster Review, thank you so much for having us! It’s a pleasure to be talking to you. We appreciate the support.
Could you first introduce the band and give us insight to its beginnings?
Hey yeah, We’re called WE ARE SOVEREIGN, a metal band based in the East Midlands. The band is made up of Laura Russell – Vocals (Screams), Ashley Ho – Vocals (Cleans), Sebastian Foster – Guitarist, Sam Maltby – Bass and Alfie Wickham on Drums. If you’re a fan of the early 2000’s alternative era then we’re the band for you!
LAURA: It all started in 2019 in my tiny apartment bedroom in Chaddesden, Derby where I lived at the time. After being in bands since I was 15 drumming and screaming, along the way I felt I never got to truly express the creativity and ideas going wild in my head freely or to their full potential. I felt I was always around the wrong people, people who saw being in a band as more of a hobby rather than a serious potential musical career. I knew if I started something myself from the very beginning I could take it in the creative, professional direction I’ve always longed for. I started writing alongside my childhood friend Arran Bee, then I started looking for members to get on board who were as passionate and committed to the vision of the band as I was. Endless amounts of late nights, lunch breaks at work, staying inside on sunny days, sacrificing time spent with family went into the making of WE ARE SOVEREIGN. With my story of suffering with gender dysphoria and a long battle of mental health I had so much to write about and so many real life events to base it on. When I met Ash we clicked instantly and bounced off each other so well so the lyric writing came so naturally.
How would you define not only your sound but the creative character of the band?
LAURA: Life is a crazy and unpredictable journey and we want to take you through every part of it with our music.
Musically we’ve taken a blend of many genres and influences from growing up, mixed the elements together and are bringing back that early 2000 alternative nostalgic feel. We’d describe our music as a mix of raw story telling real life emotion accompanied by music created from every genre you can imagine blended together. It’s not just music it’s a real life story but instead of being read out it’s being sung and screamed out. We have synth, we have emotional guitar solos, we have screams over pianos, electronics and no song sounds the same. We’re a band with music you can listen to and walk away and think I’ve felt that, I’ve been at that point in my life. If you imagine a mix of 2000 metal core, elements of pop punk and post hardcore along with synth strings and choir you’re about there.
With creative character we’d describe ourselves as the outcasts growing up and with that we want to really fight for people to stand up to be who they want to be and encourage people to be comfortable within themselves. Everybody deserves to feel comfortable within their own skin without judgement and we want people to know that which is why we’re so open with my story and how the band came about. The world is a cruel place and we live amongst so much judgement and cruelty and we’re set to create a family where everybody feels safe and can express who they want to be freely. We stand with our heads held high and aim to spread that powerful message for people to be themselves. Always be YOU. We also want to encourage resilience. We want everybody to know our story as a band and for people to know anything is possible if you keep going. We’ve been through many disasters as individuals and as a band but we all kept going which has brought us here today. We as a band stand for RESILIENCE.
You touched on it earlier but are there any specific previous musical experiences for band members and how have they been embraced in what you do now?
LAURA: I think for every member we can all openly say we’ve all been in bands over the years that didn’t work out. We feel from all the previous bands, musical experiences we’ve all had along the way and knowledge collected it’s brought us all together to create something very special. Our previous musical experiences have built who we are today as musicians and there’s that saying which I think is incredible and fits into the path of band life. “There is no such thing as going back to square one. Remember that you are starting over with more knowledge, strength and power than you had before” which is where the name of WE ARE SOVEREIGN came from. Sovereign means power, at your best and we all feel at this point in our careers we’re all in the best place we’ve ever been as musicians.
Do you have a particular process to your and the band’s songwriting?
LAURA: The way we work in the We Are Sovereign process might not be how other bands do it but it works for us (laughs)! I had all the music demoed out before I met the rest of the guys and had the concepts ready to go. I then met Ash (Clean vocalist) and we worked out bringing the songs to life with the lyrics. What we do is lay down the vocals to the demos which most of the time tends to be to midi, we then give the song a fair few weeks and go back to it and see if there’s any changes we want to make. I think it’s so important to do this as settling for the first idea is sometimes the best thing ever but can also prevent magic from happening. Leaving a demo alone and then revisiting it has always worked for us and we definitely progress it every time. Sometimes we’ll revisit it once, sometimes several times. Once we’re happy with the final vocal layout we head into the main studio and bring it to life. Sometimes in the studio we’ll get ideas and add them in which weren’t on the demo. You never know what’s going to happen as creativity can be unpredictable at times.
Would you tell us about your latest release?
LAURA: Nostalgia (Acceptance) is an emotional track made for those who struggle to leave the past behind and we’re all guilty of it. It’s about reflecting on memories whether that be positive or negative and accepting that we can never go back and feel exact moments at that exact time ever again. Our music video for it is out now on YouTube and takes you back to the nostalgic times of Myspace, Scuzz TV, Kerrang magazine. We really wanted to hit hard with the track and help people who possibly sometimes feel guilty for being stuck in the past, or struggle fearing the unknown. We feel it’s a song so many can relate to as we all have moments we long to go back to, we all fear the unknown and we all at some point in our lives become lost without a sense of direction and long to go back to the times when we felt safe. It’s so important to reflect on life and memories but it’s also so deeply important to remember to look forward and find a sense of acceptance.
There is real intimacy to the song, is there a specific inspiration to its heart?
LAURA: After suffering for years with gender dysphoria since being a teenager and spending many years battling mental health, I had a life changing operation to feel comfortable within my own skin. (Top Surgery) The emotions of my experiences are where a lot of the inspiration for the music, concepts and lyrics come from. When I was on the road of recovery, I spent so long reflecting on everything that I’d been through and every emotion I’d felt along the way.
The things I experienced kind of felt surreal and when I broke it down the concept idea began to come to life. I came up with the idea of having each track based on the different emotions I’d experienced to get to where I am today in order to get the band off the ground. I feel like we all go through life every day but sometimes barely stop and think about the things we’re experiencing.
We’re strongly setting out to bring a strong message with every song released. We want to help people through our music by having written about some of the most defined chapters of life we all go through along the way covering Betrayal, Acceptance and future records set to cover Loss, Heartbreak, Torment, Reflection and Resilience. All the themes are based on true stories and we want to make sure we visually express that in our music videos.
I am always intrigued as to how artists choose track order for albums and EP’s or how they select certain ones as singles and whether in hindsight they would change that. What is the deciding factor for you or do songs do that organically?
LAURA: I’d say it’s a balance between planning on our side but also letting things naturally pan out! We have an album finished at the moment and the original order in which we have the album set out in the studio session won’t be the final. Along the way changes are made, ideas progress and things also get added. For example our new single Nostalgia has a spoken piece on the end and we have a song based on a similar theme so I got the idea of blending it into that track on the album. How a song sounds from being recorded in the demo stage to the final is completely different. It’s hard to settle on a final track order until you know exactly the finished product you’re left with if that makes sense (laughs). Things can change at any time and ideas can come out of nowhere. The most important part is making sure every track blends nicely into the next and making sure you’re also taking into account the listener’s journey. It’s definitely exciting putting it all together!
What do you find the most enjoyable part of being in a band and similarly the most cathartic?
LAURA RUSSELL: The most enjoyable part of being in a band is the therapy it brings. There is no other place to me that feels like home as much as being behind a microphone. Writing lyrics from things I’ve experienced and screaming them from the top of my lungs is a feeling I could never put into words. The band is like a big family with a special bond. We go through the highs and lows together and what we have in WE ARE SOVEREIGN is irreplaceable. What more could you want than getting to play music with 4 of your best mates and having a laugh along the way. It’s also incredible living in the process and seeing everything come to life. Only us as a band and a very few people get to see the progress of how things start out to what it progresses into. I still have all the old demos on my mac for Bridges Burnt Lessons Learnt and Nostalgia and it’s insane to hear how the demos started. The moment things come together and click is something else. It’s a special experience!
ASH HO: Most enjoyable part of being in a band for me is making music with my best friends, we bounce off of each other in and out of the studio and literally there for each other when the troubles come a knocking.
SEBASTIAN FOSTER: I enjoy being in the band because it’s a good group of friends with music, passion and creativity. It’s all round good vibes!
SAM MALTBY: The brotherhood and camaraderie within the band.
ALFIE WICKHAM: The best for me is being in a band with my actual best mates, I assume this isn’t the case for a lot of bands and it makes the experience even better man, we chill outside of the band and always have the best time with each other!!! This is why I can’t wait to tour to spend time on the road with my real homies.
For anyone contemplating checking you out live, give some teasers as to what they can expect.
LAURA: Expect to see a story being told in front of your eyes but instead of being read it’s being screamed and sung into your face. You’ll get to witness the intensity and rawness of what we’re expressing. Every song, every lyric is made from real life events that we’ve lived and breathed. It’s real, it’s intense but at the same time energetic. You can expect each song to hit you hard whether it be from the punchyness of the synth to the emotional samples we’ve placed, each song individually has a strong message and you’ll feel that live. We want you to go home remembering our show and we want to create something special with the audience to make that happen.
Any prominent live experiences on stage to date?
LAURA: Due to the band forming in lockdown we haven’t yet hit the stage to date yet. We’re preparing behind closed doors and will keep everyone updated when we’re about to start. We want to make sure that when we come out of hiding for live shows we’re the absolute best we can be!
So anything planned for the immediate future?
LAURA: We don’t have any dates locked in yet but we have been gratefully offered many shows at many venues when we’re ready which is incredible. If you keep your eyes peeled on our socials you’ll be the first to know when we’re about to begin. We can’t wait to get on the stage and perform what we’ve put our heart and soul into!
What else can we expect in the near future?
LAURA: You can expect another single/music video in the coming weeks and we’ve also just finished the recording process for our debut album. Expect plenty of new music, music videos and live shows from us. The next music video is going to be an emotional one. We’ll give you three words as hints but that’s all you’re getting (Laughs). Resilience, broken glass. We’re so excited for the future!
What are the major inspirations to you sound wise and as a musician?
LAURA RUSSELL: For me vocally there were a lot of bands that inspired me vocally along the way into finding my own scream. The Poison album by BULLET FOR MY VALENTINE was the reason I wanted to become a vocalist alongside BLESSTHEFALL – His Last Walk. Mitch Lucker from SUICIDE SILENCE, Oli Sykes, Jeremy from A DAY TO REMEMBER, CHIMAIRA, CALIBAN, ALL SHALL PERISH, ALL THAT REMAINS, ASKING ALEXANDRIA (Stand Up and Scream), SILVERSTEIN, EYES SET TO KILL, there’s a fair few haha!. If you listen closely to our songs you can definitely hear the inspirations listed in the way I scream today.
ASH HO: This is a hard question as inspirational talent is so broad in the industry that there’s too many to choose from, but as a vocalist, it’s inevitable that other vocalists inspire me, I grew up on a lot of A DAY TO REMEMBER so it’s safe to say that Jeremy was one of my biggest inspirations but the list is probably equivalent to the bible!
SEBASTIAN FOSTER: The major inspiration to me is bands like AC/DC, METALLICA and SLIPKNOT due to their originality and some of the techniques that they use.
SAM MALTBY: ENTER SHIKARI, BRING ME THE HORIZON and ANGELS AND AIRWAVES.
ALFIE WICKHAM: Joey Jordison is my main inspiration and influenced me to become a drummer in the first place, his drumming style and fills he uses are easily recognisable through my drumming, the dudes an absolute weapon, RIP homie
And finally what song or release would you say was the spark to your passion for music?
LAURA RUSSELL: I’d say it’s a tough one between a few haha BULLET FOR MY VALENTINE – Tears Don’t Fall, MY CHEMICAL ROMANCE – Three Cheers For Sweet Revenge, A DAY TO REMEMBER – For Those Who Have Heart, SYSTEM OF A DOWN – Toxicity and BLINK 182 – Self Titled. All those albums are so unique and inspiring and every song on every album is an absolute banger! Those albums made me want to be in a band and strive to experiment and think outside the box. The feels I get when listening to them is something else!
ASH HO: YOU SHOULD OF KILLED ME WHEN YOU HAD THE CHAAANCE!!! An ADTR masterpiece that lit the fire in my belly and fuelled the passion in my soul! From start to damn finish, from riff to snare, this is probably a song I’ll never get bored of, I controversially prefer the version from their first album ‘and their name was treason’ as it sounds more raw but the redux on ‘for those who have heart’ is equally brilliant. Regardless of the version, this song was my spark that turned into a lightning bolt!
SEBASTIAN FOSTER: The spark to my passion for music was The Poison album by BULLET FOR MY VALENTINE as I really enjoyed the sound of the guitars which then I progressed on trying to learn the whole album as a kid!
SAM MALTBY: BLINK 182 self-titled release
ALFIE WICKHAM: I remember my sister showing me Pray For Plagues by BRING ME THE HORIZON when I was about 8/9 years old, the vocals blew my mind and I was convinced they wasn’t real, I also dreamt of learning this on drums one day and within a few years I could play it on drums and also did a vocal cover of it in my home made wardrobe studio.
Many thanks guys once again; anything else you would like to add?
Our new single Nostalgia (Acceptance) is out now available to buy and stream on all major platforms and the official music video is out now on YouTube! If you remember the Myspace, Scuzz TV days, buying Kerrang magazines head over to YouTube and revisit the nostalgic times with us. Thank you to anybody reading this who listens to our music and supports us. It means everything! If you’re new here we’d love for you to join our family.
Check out WE ARE SOVEREIGN further @…
The RingMaster Review 12/07/2022
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