If you ever have thoughts that real rock ‘n roll is on the wane a quick listen to the new album from British rockers The Sourheads will soon make you think again. Care Plan For The Soul is a nine-track debut full-length, a skilfully and passionately woven roar of classic and fresh rock diversity which snarls as it seduces, thrills as it trespasses ears and imagination. Through our friend Garry at SaN, we had the chance to dig deeper into The Sourheads with guitarist MIK CRONE, exploring the band’s origins, digging into the heart of Care Plan For The Soul, The Sourheads live and more….
Hi Mik and big thanks for taking time to chat with us.
Can you, for those yet to be invaded by your rock ‘n’ roll, first introduce the band?
Jake on vocals, Mik on Guitar, Ben on Bass and Lamb on Drums.
We are The Sourheads and we come from Wakefield West Yorkshire. We are a rock band who take influence from the greats and add our own twist. We like to think of ourselves of somewhat multi-genre and we don’t want to be seen as just one specific style of music. A career band like The Stones or The Who dip into different things but still stay true to who they are…So yea we are a rock band who give it our all live.
The band is said to have emerged in 2016 but does its seeds go further back?
The version of The Sourheads now is the result of many years building. Like Oasis the original version was Jake [Coxon]our singer and his brother Sid who played guitar. They had a string of musicians throughout a short period of time. I first came into the picture as a producer for the band. I had been working with various bands and the early version of the band struck me as a very different but awesome set of musicians. I felt with direction the band could be massive. Around this time I was asked to join as a second guitarist and a month later Sid left. So at this point we upped our game and decided to focus on a solid tight band and work on the debut album. The Sourheads you see now emerged in 2016.
Is The Sourheads your first ventures in a band or do you all bring various previous experiences and explored styles of music to the mix?
Everyone in The Sourheads has been in other bands before and we are all have different musical influences. This has proved a major asset in creating the sound and style of The Sourheads.. I had a small amount of success with a metal band I was in. Lamb [Chris Lambert] our drummer was in a relatively successful Indi band. Ben [Taylor] has a more Pearl Jam grunge influence and has played bass forever and grew up jamming with his brother Simon (Inme) and Jake has always been a creative person singing and painting and as I, is more 70s inspired through bands such as The Doors, Alice Cooper, Deep Purple. The combination of these different influences creates the originality of our band. We are what we are.
What inspired the band name?
A Sourhead can be interpreted a number of ways. Bitter and twisted, hungover. There is no deep meaning behind the name.
Was there any specific idea behind the forming of the band and also in what you wanted it and your sound to offer?
As a band we feel that it is easy to be stereotyped into a genre. We don’t necessarily want that as we are all influenced by different styles of music. What we want to do is wear our hearts on our sleeves and be 100% true to what we are. Our image and sound isn’t contrived, it is pure. Our front man is a character and is like that 24/7.
As a band we have evolved over time and we are now as sharp as a razor. In the last few months we have really tweaked everything so that it is the best we can offer. Little things like changing guitar sounds or what bass amp we use. We are always trying to give the best live performances we can. Through time you learn how to fine tune every aspect of the band.
Since your early days, how would you say your sound has evolved?
Before I joined the band the sound was more indie influenced. When I joined we rocked it up considerably. The band used to jam and have beers and chill out more. Since we started writing the debut album and got the record deal we became more focused. It is important to be professional at rehearsals. As a result we worked on emphasising certain parts of songs, making them tighter and adding dynamics.
Has it been more of an organic movement of sound or more the band deliberately wanting to try new things?
We have always tried different styles of music when we write. Some songs sound like the Rolling Stones others sound like Black Sabbath. It depends on who comes up with the first ideas, riffs etc at some point we will bring the Synths and organ back out. Everything we do usually comes from a groove, guitar riff etc
You have just released your debut album, Care Plan For The Soul. From its first breath it shares a multi-flavoured, refreshingly dirty and just a little salacious roar of sound and intent; a mix which suggests a varied range of inspirations to the band and individual members. Who particularly stands out as having an impact on your approach to making music?
We take our inspiration from different places. Jake is a massive Doors fan, Lamb is into his classic British Indi music; Ben is also a fan of different styles of music. I look up to any band that has strong songs. Stone Temple Pilots are a massive influence for me. Deftones, Queens of the Stone Age, The Cult, Shed Seven, Oasis, Clutch. We use many colours to create our art.
How would you describe your sound to newcomers?
Iggy and the Stooges mixed with the Sex Pistols thrown into a blender with The Stereophonics and Nirvana.
Classic Rock with an edge.
It feels like it just follows its nose, always prepared to embrace fresh and unpredictable flavours. Is this something you deliberately set out to purposefully develop or a sound and direction which just grew and evolved organically?
We are what we are. People either get it or don’t. One review says we are original and have rewritten the rule book of what a rock band should be. The other will say they don’t get us. Why do we look like we do and why does the artwork not match the music. Well the answer is we are totally focussed and we are 100% us. Everything is totally focused and this is what we do, our sound and direction develop naturally. Luckily our label saw this and our friends like Red Spektor saw this. So it’s better to have a loyal friendship and business partnership and have loyal listeners than to be fake and try to jump on a scene.
How long was Care Plan For The Soul in the making?
We had a lot of time rehearsing and making sure we could play the songs. We could play without vocals, with vocals, without bass or without guitar and obviously all of us together…Probably 3 months of pre-production and a week to record.
It has an instinctive snarl to its air and open rawness to its energy; at times feeling like it may have been recorded live. How did you approach its creation in the studio?
We decided early on that the band has a live energy that needed to be captured so we decided to record live and then delete the guide vocal and do a main vocal later. I also overdubbed a second guitar rhythm track to fatten the overall mix. We also added congas and cello in the overdub stage.
Can you give us an insight into the trials and pleasing surprises you found when recording the album?
We worked with a wonderful producer called Matt Knee and we used an old 70’s BBC mixing desk, this gave us a warmth that we were pleasantly surprised by. We wanted initially to record full analogue but as we wanted to play live we decided it’s may be better to do it digitally but through old analogue gear. This was due to the fact that digital is instant and we knew we had to keep in budget for our business plan to be effective. We needed to make sure everyone was comfortable and the atmosphere was good. We had incense burning and lava lamps. Pretty laid back.
It was subsequently mastered by Pete Maher (The Rolling Stones, Depeche Mode, U2) and released through German Label Kozmik Artifactz. How did those link ups come about?
Pete Maher has worked with everyone and we liked the fact that he worked within multiple genres. Katy Perry, Pink Floyd, Linkin Park are a few of his varied clientele and he had just finished mastering the LA LA Land soundtrack. We knew that attracting a big name would gain us attention and Pete does great deals for up and coming bands. It seemed like a great idea and he did an amazing job. Around this time we became close friends with Red Spektor and their manager Simon. They were saying good things about us in interviews and we were starting to get noticed. I sent a private link of the album to a number of labels and pretty much instantly Kai at Kozmik Artifactz messaged back saying ‘We don’t usually release this style but we think you would fit our sister label Oak Island perfectly so we did the deal and we are honoured to be part of the Kozmik Artifactz Oak Island family. The label is having great success with bands like Church of the Cozmic Skull and of course our brothers Red Spektor.
Can you give us the inspiration for the album title and some of the themes within its body?
We felt that the title had to reflect the song content. Our drummer Lamb came up with it. The songs are pretty intense in parts and cover lots of topics such as Demonic Possession, Marriage Breakdowns, War veterans, soul stealing creatures. When you take this into consideration and then see the album cover is a lone figure stood in the middle of the beach with his dog it’s kind of like that is the care plan for his soul. He is escaping the turmoil.
Is there a particular songwriting process within the band?
Pretty much straight forward…Ben or me write a riff or two. Lamb plays a beat. We arrange the song, record it on a phone then Jake writes the lyrics.
Apart from obvious pride and satisfaction in Care Plan For The Soul is there a particular moment within it which gives you a specific personal flush of inner pleasure?
The whole thing is a major flush of inner pleasure. We set out with a goal and we achieved it on budget and we didn’t move away from our art and vision one bit. This is amazing to us. To have a vinyl copy of the album in my hands and look at the finished product gives me goosebumps. The fact that the digital streaming numbers are good too also feels good. We want to get out to as many people as possible. From the actual recording there are a few moments I like. I think some of the vocal delivery is the best Jake has ever been. The rush created when he shouts I am the Lotus! That’s a fan favourite moment.
Give us an insight into the live side of the band?
We are told we are extremely good live. Jake is a bare chested beast of a frontman, live truly something that has to be seen and heard. We are very tight and play as close to the album as we can get. I like the idea that we are four individual characters and that as a member of the audience you can get what you are looking for from us. We put a lot into it. I’m swinging my arm in the air and running around; Jake is in the crowd or rolling around on the floor. Ben is grooving away and lam is bashing the living daylights out of the kit. We are an old fashioned rock band. We put on a show.
Obviously the album is in its early days inviting attention but what is next on the horizon of The Sourheads?
We are hoping to tour throughout 2018 and play some festivals. Do a couple of music videos and keep writing. We have 3 songs written for the next album already. We have also experimented with slightly different sounds. Some old school style Stones vibe.
It is not easy for any new band to make an impact regionally let alone nationally and further afield. How have you found it your neck of the woods?
The most important thing to do is gig swap with other bands throughout the country. There are so many bands who are hometown heroes. That’s all very good if it is a hobby but not so if you want to leave a lasting impression and have your legacy respected. What we have found is the more we play the small festivals, the more the promoters share the information. There is a really healthy underground rock scene in the UK at the moment and everybody seems to be looking out for everybody else.
How has the internet and social media impacted on the band to date; is a battle which has to be waged or a constant weapon for success?
Social media is great if the people already know about you. In the last few years the pay to get hits and advertise your band has really hurt the artist. The idea that you pay £50 to get 300 likes in Indonesia isn’t helping anybody. We have had musical instrument companies say you need so many likes on Facebook for us to consider you. This along with people not actually going on bands websites anymore means companies like Facebook and Instagram pretty much have the Monopoly on online presence. Bandcamp seems to work and I would encourage other bands to check it out if they haven’t already. Webzines like yours also help a great deal. I would say use social media but don’t let it be the basis of promoting your band.
Again many thanks for sharing your time; any last words you would like to add?
Thank you for showing interest in the band. We truly appreciate every website, magazine radio station that helps us spread our message and music. We are fans of music and do this because we love playing and creating our art. People like you keep the musical torch burning bright. There is a buzz and new found enthusiasm for rock music and we want to embrace this whole heartedly.
Pete RingMaster 13/12/2017
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