Snuttock: An introduction of Rituals

Photograph by Laurie A Smith

Allow us to introduce you to Snuttock, a band from Baltimore in Maryland consisting of Bryan Lee, a classically trained musician, and Christopher Lee Simmonds, the latter also a founding member of Michigan progressive metallers Thought Industry. There the background to the pair and Snuttock ends though the fun and real discovery of the electro outfit is through their music. Some might pin it down as synth pop and certainly that is its breeding but with sonic and emotion cast shadows, a kaleidoscope of flavours and textures, and more twists and curves than a descending slinky, it makes for a proposition which never leaves ears and imagination lost for adventure.

Formed in 2003, Snuttock released debut album Straight Jacket Life two years later. It was the first insight to the pair’s blossoming fusion of industrial rapacity with the instinctive allure of synth pop; a blend shaping Carved and Sutured in 2008 and its collection of new tracks and dance-floor friendly remixes. Where we come in and cast a glimpse into, thanks to Lee and Simmonds themselves, is with the band’s last two releases, Endless Rituals and Rituals Redux. The first is in a way the duo’s proper second album, though it seems to be classed as the third, and was released in 2013. Its successor came out last year and sees a host of artists presenting remixes of its predecessor’s tracks, the album acting like a companion piece to the originals bringing new sides and personas to their already captivating characters.

What Endless Rituals quickly establishes is the diversity across the sound and creative enterprise of Lee and Simmonds; songs ranging from simply synth pop to industrial, dark electro, ambient and much more.  As expectations and assumptions of what comes next arise they are quickly shot down and left floundering as song by song the release persistently presents a new facet to its swiftly captivating presence. For all its twists and new sides though, there is a coherency to it all which links it all as something truly individual to Snuttock.

From opener Attention, intrigue is an eager response, the opening shadows of the track rich in suggestion and invitation before the track breaks into a vibrant stroll. That vibrancy is soon a flood across hungrily catchy endeavour, grabbing body and ears with zeal and infectious energy. There is a feel of early Mute Records bands to the song, The Normal coming to mind most and the laying down of the first compelling moment in the album’s landscape.

The dark wave scented, robotically natured Single Cell Antenna is the first twist in the emprise of sound within the album, its dance dexterity and pop glow managing to also cast a dystopian shadow over the affair. New turns flow through ears from thereon in, the emotional reflection and melancholic sharing of the Depeche Mode like People Too, the reserved but open funk of We Learn with its BEF air, and the dark ambience of Nameless straight away expanding the broad terrains honed by Snuttock. The last of the three is like a flight across cosmopolitan lands, its instrumental blossoming in adventure and suggestion with something akin to a merger of Kraftwerk, Thomas Dolby, and pre-split Human League.

It is fair to say that every track within Endless Rituals stirs the senses; the outstanding and dark, almost predacious presence of Crawl invading the psyche with a prowess reminding of UK band Defeat giving one particular favourite moment though with its thought romancing, dark atmospherics One Day and Spitting Into The Wind with its Blancmange meets Artery like emotive theatre leave their magnetic mark. Even throwing a handful plus of references to give a hint of the songs on offer, the uniqueness of Snuttock is the driving force and continues to captivate across remaining tracks like the haunting post rock/electro ambience of Ghost and the irresistible electro punk popper Advice.

Endless Rituals is a treat, even more so if you can get the deluxe edition with an additional four tracks, which newcomers to Snuttock should make their entry point though Rituals Redux certainly makes for a potent invitation too. Even after years of taking them on board, we have yet to get our personal heads around the appeal and maybe even purpose of remixes especially when the originals are so impressive and dominate. We can equally understand their popularity and in turn demand for others though, even more so after listening to Rituals Redux. Whether it was because we heard it first and numerous times before Endless Rituals, the album like a film or TV show hinting at the majesty of a source book, or simply the quality of the tracks on offer, the mix of all maybe, it certainly awoke an appetite for the Snuttock enterprise and a fun in imagining their originals.

First the only ‘negative’ with the album and that is its radio show skits and bumpers. Whether they are taken from a real show or are simply cast to suggest that surrounding they do niggle personal tastes, especially when coming back to back. It is a minor thing of course and certainly once the music descends and remixes from the likes of Psy’Aviah, Marsheaux, [:SITD:], TweakerRay, and Sebastian Komor, is forgotten as feet quickly leap and the spirit jumps opening track and a sparkling take on Advice by Leæther Strip. Each track takes the core essence and heart of the original songs and casts them in a fresh landscape of imagination or shadow of dark suggestiveness. Major highlights for personal tastes include Sebastian Komor’s fizzy take on We Learn and indeed Marsheaux’s warmly seductive version, The Metroland Protocol’s hypnotic twist on Single Cell Antennae, the noir lit take of the same song by The Rorschach Garden, and Psy’Aviah’s haunting at times senses stalking remix of Spitting Into The Wind.

As we said though, and maybe surprisingly, considering its 2 CD, eighteen track length, Rituals Redux hits the perfect  spot with artists such as [:SITD:], Amarta Project, Statik SeKt, Retrogramme, Red This Ever, TweakerRay, Guilt Trip, L’Avenir, Diskodiktator, and Deutsche Bank Machine equally lighting ears and enjoyment with provocative interpretation and craft.

So that is Snuttock, a band which if synth pop and broad electronic adventure is your appetite should make for a highly pleasing new exploration.

Check them out more @ http://www.snuttock.com/ and https://www.facebook.com/Snuttock/  and their music @ http://www.snuttock.com/store.html

Pete RingMaster 31/05/2017

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

Defeat – Rise

A handful of weeks short of two years since the eagerly welcomed release of their EP, You Know What You Are, British electro industrial/synth pop duo Defeat return with new album, Rise. This too, such the highly enjoyable offerings from the band before, has been a keenly anticipated encounter since news of its coming; enthusiasm rewarded with the pair’s most accessible yet creatively imaginative and skilfully accomplished proposal yet.

The successor to debut album [Seek Help] of 2013, Rise is a collection of anthems to dark thoughts, corrupted emotions, and invasive shadows. They are tracks which unleash the most virulent hooks and infectious escapades laced with menace and creative threat like a twisted twenty first century Fad Gadget; indeed there are times where you just feel that if Defeat were emerging in the eighties, Mute Records would have had them snapped up.

With inspirations from the likes of Nitzer Ebb, Depeche Mode, NIN, Front 242, Front Line Assembly, and Skinny Puppy teasing their own ever potent and individual sound, the twosome of vocalist/lyricist Anthony Matthews and keyboardist/programmer Gary Walker have taken the evolution and promise of You Know What You Are and pulled it into another realm of craft and maturity, challenging their songwriting and imaginations along the way.

Rise opens up with The Phoenix; its sound elevating from the breath and ashes of an emotional wasteland. Melancholy honed melodies soon surround a rhythmic throb; the menacing and almost frustrated air becoming a hypnotic stroll jut as swiftly with a swagger and character as much a threat as a defiant realisation and action to its initial corrosive state. With catchy electronic flirtation and salaciously dancing shadows, the song is an easy to succumb to trap, Matthews’s words and tone a compelling mix of challenge and resurging hope.

The following Rage starts as an irritated emotional and physical ember which flickers and flames into an EBM nurtured blaze and again washed with defiance. It never becomes a furnace but instead wonderfully nags at the senses and imagination, stroking and provoking both with its relentless catchiness before The Hurt grows in ears. Its opening lure is almost predatory, laying dark electro seeds which swiftly bloom into another niggling refusing to be ignored temptation. Matthews echoes its shadows with his inimitable vocal prowess and presence; the drama within all aspects blossoming and immersing song and thoughts in contagious theatre.

Dirty/Sick crawls and trespasses the listener next, Matthews’s introspective guise a festering depravity surrounded by the deceitfully tempting sounds and invention of Walker, his melodies licking at ears with a relish almost matching the lustful threat of each trespassing syllable. The track is a grievous seduction and just irresistible while its successor and the album’s title track shares a toxic serenade invading and suffocating the senses with its envenomed mist; an ambush which should not be welcomed and embraced such its sinister intent but surely is.

Following track, The Fatalists sees Walker take lead vocals for the only time within the album. With pulsating electronics and shimmering harmonies, the song shuffles and glides through ears, vocals shaping its honest heart and melodies colouring its electro pop scented landscape. As with all tracks, shadows and light embrace and collude; often challenging each other or as here uniting in solemn and rousing beauty.

Even more galvanic and masterful is Nothing You, a lead single if ever we heard one. As its creative kindling smoulders, there is an air of excited intrigue and magnetic compulsion awoken; anticipation swiftly fed with a kinetic canter of creative virulence. With voracious hooks and grooves woven into one deliciously persuasion, the outstanding song is one virulence driven adventure unafraid to change gait and energy on a twist of a note as it pounds, pulses, and provokes the passions with irrepressible majesty.

The album closes with the melodic croon of Live Your Life, a gentle and darkly tender but still shadow wrapped incitement and reminder to find the strength and believe in being yourself. It is a fine smouldering and seductive end to Defeat’s most impressive and enjoyable encounter yet. All of the potential of their previous releases has been realised within Rise creating something deserving of the richest attention.

Rise will be released April 14th digitally and Ltd Ed CD with pre-ordering available now @ https://defeatmusic.bandcamp.com/album/rise

https://www.facebook.com/Defeatmusic     https://twitter.com/defeatmusic   https://defeatmusic.blogspot.co.uk/

Pete RingMaster 06/04/2017

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

The Open Eyed Dreamer – Free Your Own Mind

free your own mind_RingMasterReview

The Open Eyed Dreamer is the solo project of Bracknell hailing Steve Fearon, the former frontman of the strongly missed British industrial rockers Ghost In the Static. The Free Your Own Mind is the debut EP from that project which was in many ways an idea and presence predating Fearon’s previous band. In the words of the man himself though, “For a long time, The Open Eyed Dreamer was nothing more than a persona, a mask worn on stage, someone sung about in Ghost In the Static Songs.” With the striking Free Your Own Mind the first ‘words’, The Open Eyed Dreamer is now Fearon’s voice against a world where “power is misused and misappropriated by those who hold all the card.”, and a release for his inner anger.

Fusing electronic incitements with raw rock and melodic pop textures, Fearon’s sound and EP is an attention grabbing blend of extremes and differing textures. It roars in defiance, snarls with antagonism, both lyrically and musically, but equally seduces while inflaming body and imagination with vibrant melodies and tenaciously infectious hooks. The heart and thoughts of Fearon and songs are unmistakable, their bite and contempt at the injustices running and ruining the world forceful but bound in music and imagination which forcibly but contagiously suggests and highlights without ever breaking into the realms of preaching.

Free Your Own Mind opens up with Press Enter To Continue and the line, “This is a bed time story but not for the innocent; you know what you’ve done and what it meant.” As big portentous beats accentuate the moment and the gentle but open inescapable challenge of that simple line, synths begin to rise and bring their intimidating sizzle to the brewing provocative drama of the brief opener.

The attention and imagination seizing start leads to the magnetic lures of Simple People where instantly it too is wrapped in dark shadows and an oppressively evocative ambience. Simultaneously Fearon’s vocals unveil the track’s narrative and emotion with rich expression and the enjoyably familiar style that helped make his previous band a potent proposition. Warm flowing melodies align to catchy beats as hooks just as magnetically blossom within the darker climate of the song, all seducing and igniting body and spirit as firmly as its tone and words spark the imagination and emotions.

Inspirations drawn upon by Fearon include, among many, the likes of The Prodigy, Gary Numan, NIN, Cease2exist, KMFDM, Infected Mushroom, and Combichrist. They are essences which in varying degrees you can sense across Free Your Own Mind. Third track Waiting though, has a hint of fellow UK band MiXE1 to it, something after investigation unsurprising when learning the song, the only one not solely written by Fearon, was created with Michael Evans of MiXE1 and Defeat’s Gary Walker. The pair also physically feature in the song; Evans’ vocals easy to spot within moments as they provide an excellent companion and foil to the equally impressing and darker tones of Fearon. The song is superb, a swiftly captivating persuasion with also a touch of the Walker Brothers to its melodic and emotional atmosphere. Synths paint a just as potent and dramatic picture as the vocals and lyrics, a combination which infests and lingers in appetite and memory.

It surely has to be the lead track to draw newcomers into the project, though The Last Revolution provides a just as commanding and gripping proposal next. Its shadows are far darker than its predecessor and in some way, especially rhythmically, its drama even bigger and bolder as the song envelopes ears and thoughts. There is also a great predacious nature to a track which at times feels like it is stalking the senses; nudging and imposing on them as an instinctive volatility inspires scything strikes of beats and keys for another resonating incitement.

The EP is brought to a close by The Final Photograph, a smouldering electronic caress with sonically blistered skin veined by melodic and vocal coaxing. The gentler wash of synths and sonic suggestiveness also has an inbred irritability which subsequently erupts and fuels the track’s volcanic and galvanic climax.

It is a fine end to a great, I guess, introduction to The Open Eyed Dreamer. Fearon calls Free Your Own Mind his “call to arms” and indeed it is an arousing of the listener in many irresistible ways.

The Free Your Own Mind is out now @ https://theopeneyeddreamer.bandcamp.com/album/free-your-own-mind

https://www.facebook.com/TheOpenEyedDreamer/

Pete RingMaster 12/05/2016

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

For more exploration of the independent and promotional services check out http://www.zykotika.com

SoulspiryA – Stay Human

SoulspiryA_RingMaster Review

Stay Human, apart from certain moments, took its time to work its way into the passions, but it has to be said that the new album from Italian duo SoulspiryA has become one fascination repeat incitement in recent times. It is an album which at times is an instant virulence of sound and temptation but in other moments a more demanding and certainly intensive exploration of dark emotions and gloom laden ambiences to try and get involved in. Together though both vehicles of the band’s creativity absorb and transfix to ultimately and firmly capture the imagination.

Creating a sound tagged as alternative rock but really is a tapestry of equally thick varied styles, gothic, melodic, and electronic rock openly amongst them, the Venice hailing band consists of Nico (keyboards, piano, synths, programming, vocals) and Alberto Frassetto P (guitars, bass, percussion and vocals). Forming SoulspiryA in 2014, the pair’s expansive musical backgrounds offer some of the influences in the musical and emotional explorations making up Stay Human. Each song is an adventure into the unknown in many ways; unpredictability as enticing as the music itself yet the band also weaves in familiar flavours to tempt ears with an easily accessible ticket into the individual dark climates of tehe tracks.

Stay-Human_RingMaster Review   It starts with We Are Coming, a gripping incitement springing from a shadow rich, atmospheric opening into a melody laced saunter through dark streets of slightly intimidating vocals and provocative electronic radiance. Synths are soon sharing their flames across the expanding landscape of the song, but equally slips into intimate avenues of guitar and intrigue prove to be as the compelling as the opener builds. It is an enthralling start to Stay Human continuing with You Decide and its electro rock croon where again keys and guitars unite in a fascination of sound matched by the enjoyable mix of vocals and their narrative. As in its predecessor, flavours ebb and flow through different colours and waves of intensity, classically honed piano for one weaving amongst the more robust but still reined roar of the track.

The Tunnel wraps ears in a warm glaze of keys and melody next, increasingly brewing its energy and infection until a slip into a momentary calm becomes the spark for a boisterous sonic and emotive vocal expulsion. An eighties hue, not for the first or last time, also aligns itself to the absorbing texture and imagination of the track though its electro rock/metal strength is of modern attitude and intensity.

The melancholic Sorry follows, its array of keys a maudlin instrumental reflection of suggestion and elegance before the virulent body of Be The First steps forward with a flirtation of electro pop and gothic rock to seduce ears and inflame the senses. It is an addictive proposal, with slim vocals allowing again the waltz to cast a portrait of suggestiveness for the imagination to paint its own created canvas. The potency of the song’s contagious core is emulated in This Is Why, a seducing of repetitive tones and inventive textures spun into another proposition as pop infectious as it is evocatively dramatic. Once more vocals are more a texture than a leading incitement and again it works a treat as the song acts like a kaleidoscope of temptation, reminding of UK band Defeat in some ways, more mellow but just as emotively descriptive.

The piano led instrumental serenade of Fading Away takes over, its air increasingly darkening and tempestuous but bound tightly in the melodic charm cast by keys, before Somewhere like mist sonically glistens and lays emotionally invasive on the senses, it subsequently followed by the symphonic angst and majesty of We Will Be Alone. All three are individual inspirations for ears and thoughts, all increasingly captivating proposals with the last of the three carrying a touch of early Ministry to it, when that band was a synth pop proposition.

You’ll Try is a slow burner of persuasion, its industrial haunting and sampled intrigue a magnetic lure into the dramatic heart of a song which never quite ignites the same reactions as found by earlier tracks but still persistently pleases before letting The Night Before bring, with its melodic and atmospheric smothering of ears, the album to an engagingly accomplished conclusion.

More impressive with every venture through its thought provoking climate and landscape, Stay Human is a release which rather than setting ears ablaze entices them, becoming more persuasive with each listen. It is an impressive debut for Soulspirya, a strong base from which to become bolder and even more distinctly experimental.

Stay Human is available worldwide and through most stores now through Sliptrick Records.

http://www.soulspirya.com   https://www.facebook.com/soulspirya https://twitter.com/soulspirya

Pete RingMaster 12/11/2015

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

For more exploration of the independent and promotional services check out http://www.zykotika.com/

Defeat – You Know What You Are EP

Defeat pic

And so it continues, the emotion twisting sounds of Defeat have returned to voraciously crawl through ears and into the psyche. The UK duo have already increasingly trespassed into and seduced the senses through their previous encounters, each bringing evolution to their music and breaching new creative plateaus whilst suggesting there is more to come. The band’s new EP, You Know What You Are, is the realisation of much of this promise yet in turn it gives the feeling that they have still come nowhere to exhausting their potential, even though it sets the loftiest marker yet for the band in sound and invention.

Hertfordshire hailing union consists of vocalist Anthony Matthews and the master of synthetics Gary Walker, two school friends who have continually played together through previous guises from those days onwards. Each exploit has been a stepping stone to Defeat, and the breeding of a sound inspired by the likes of Nitzer Ebb, Depeche Mode, NIN, Front 242, Front Line Assembly, and Skinny Puppy. As Defeat, the pair swiftly lit attention with the release of their Outbursts! EP in 2012. Its emergence around a year after Matthews and Walker were truly able to concentrate on Defeat, lured an increasingly number of eager ears and appetites, backed by a subsequent remix EP entitled simply Defeat Remixed. It was debut album [Seek Help] in 2013 that pushed the band most forcibly onto the European EBM/ electro-industrial map though with its raw and magnetic atmospheres around angst soaked explorations. It was challenging and infectious, a fusion of dark climates and virulent electro pop digging now taken to even more experimental and striking depths with You Know What You Are. There is still that expected and inescapable catchiness, each track whipping up vivacious energies and anthemic temptation but equally they devour the most imposing and darkest corners of emotion and life.

YKWYA_cover     The EP opens with Want and instantly has ears intrigued and hungry as pulsating bassy electronics rap on the senses before being joined by a fiery melodic coaxing, It is a restrained but pungent start, rhythms quickly building up a head of intent and steam leading to a purposeful stride where the always expressive tones of Matthews invite and provoke. His delivery is part monotone, part dour, and all thick persuasion, the perfect temper and compliment to the bubbling electronic tenacity and haunting shadows respectively. As with previous encounters, the band’s sound stirs up welcome thoughts of Fad Gadget, the fusion of light and dark, invasive tempting and compelling contagion similar as Defeat sculpt their own unique incitement of dark pop.

The following Twist is just as dynamically gripping and texture entwining. Theatrical, gothic kissed keys spark the imagination first, the lure never relinquishing attention as a more caustic electro breeze joins the play. In no time the song is sauntering along with thickly jabbing beats, fizzy electronic tempting, and the narrative shaping delivery of Matthews. Things only blossom further as Walker infuses a great blistering of guitar, its presence adding to the sinister ambience evoked and fuelling the encounter. As its predecessor, there are moments of clear pop within the hazy almost portentous embrace of the track, those enticements boldly seeded in the eighties electro/synth pop which has also been a ripe influence on the band’s sound and songwriting.

Resist comes next and dares you to comply with its title, but to no avail as a Numan-esque smog wraps ears first before volatile electro sounds and rhythms rigorously simmer in an expanding provocative landscape of sour melodic tension and vocal prowling. There is always drama to the sound and narratives of Defeat, but possibly this song is their most incendiary on ears and imagination yet, thoughts especially running with its rich persuasion to create their own dark exploits alongside that of the song. It is a transfixing proposition matched by the outstanding Attention Seeker. This is a predator of a track, every beat carrying menace and each syllable a spiteful leer whilst synths cast a web of diverse colour and enterprise; even its addictive swing and spicy melodies seem to have a carnivorous grin to their tenacity.

The song is an invigorating and intoxicating anthem contrasted impressively by the next up Care For Me, a track uniquely individual but a match in magnetism and invention. Whereas Attention Seeker was open in its antagonistic charm, its successor embroils itself in another intriguing imposing caress of sound and reflective exploration. Spatial melodies seep from keys whilst guitars bring a raw fiery texture to the immersive croon, and within it all Matthews slowly releases deep rooted angst and emotional torment in the dark intimate tale.

The industrial air of Goodbye is an early hook which only thickens its bait as the song and vocals create an aural dystopia within an increasingly more rugged and inflammatory infection soaked stomp. It forces its dance upon feet and emotions, chaining their submissive enlistment into its ferocious staging of riveting sound and menacing intent. The track is a pulsating gem, at its heart pure slice of rock ‘n’ roll and in its increasingly psychotic character, pure inventive, belligerent devilry.

You Know What You Are is completed by a quartet of mixes, Ruinizer bringing the Bye Motherfucker Bye Mix of Goodbye, Paresis offering the Blackened Mix of Want, and Cease2Xist casting their Self Loathing Mix of How Pathetic, a track from the band’s Outbursts! EP. The cream of an enjoyable quartet though is the Shaken Not Stirred Mix by X-KiN of Twist, which features the exceptional vocals of Veronick. It is a gloriously fresh slant on the song with the lady’s voice enthralling as it takes centre stage.

Defeat have returned with yet another impressive step in their songwriting and sound whilst, as suggested earlier, implying that there is plenty more still to be unearthed in their imaginations and creativity. So whilst enjoyment boils over with You Know What You Are, anticipation is already on the rise again.

The You Know What You Are EP is available now digitally and on CD @ https://defeatmusic.bandcamp.com/album/you-know-what-you-are

https://www.facebook.com/Defeatmusic     http://www.defeatmusic.com/

RingMaster 23/05/2015

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

Listen to the best independent music and artists on The RingMaster Review Radio Show and The Bone Orchard on Reputation Radio @ http://www.reputationradio.net

 

Entwining shadows, breaths, and sound: an interview with Defeat

defeat

The industrial/electro scene in the UK is aflame right now one with emerging creative and imaginatively accomplished bands and musicians of whom, Hertfordshire band Defeat, is one of the most stirring and promising examples. A duo comprising of Anthony Matthews (Vocals) and Gary Walker (Synthetics), the band has released one of the best of year album challengers in the genre with their striking confrontation [Seek Help]. Eleven tracks of immense, sinister, and fire bred tracks, the release confronts the ear with invention spawned enterprise and compelling provocative mastery. Making up for lost time to learn more about Defeat, we had the pleasure of finding out about the origins of the pair of musicians as well as the band, their thoughts on the industrial scene, personal inspirations, and much more with the help of both Ant and Gary. This is what they revealed…

Hi Guys and welcome to the site.

You two have known each other for a very long time, when did you first meet?

Gary: We met in at secondary school when we were 13 in French class. We were both completely uninterested in the subject being taught and just talked about the music we liked; girls and other stuff teenage boys are into.

Ant: Yes, it was a school in Harlow where we grew up. Although, with regards to exactly when, as ever I have to yield to Gary’s fantastic memory on that score!

When did music come into the relationship?

Gary: Almost straight away if I remember correctly. Part of the class involved making up a conversation in French and telling each other about ourselves and what we liked. We found we had the same taste in music then.

Ant: I remember once we had talked music we would swap lyrics written on scrappy bits of paper in school. I think we immediately had a similar sense of humour as well as musical tastes. There weren’t too many people in our school into putting a band together at our age so it was all kinda hush-hush!!

What were your early influences musically and have they remained still a potent inspiration now or has that evolved like your music?

Gary: I got the music bug seeing Howard Jones on Top of the Pops playing all those synths and thought “I want to do that”.  I’d say that was my biggest early influence as I pestered my parents relentlessly for a keyboard for Christmas, and they got me a Casio keyboard. I then taught myself a few chords and scales and learnt to play some songs by ear.

Ant: The early-eighties electronic explosion and new romantics must have subconsciously influenced me. At that age it was all chart music, but I suppose I was looking for something to follow. Howard Jones was that first big inspiration. I never really know what inspired me to listen to darker electro-bands but I always loved a bit of controversy I suppose. I had always followed Depeche Mode but it was when I discovered Nitzer Ebb and Nine Inch Nails that my head was turned to Industrial influences. I was always a collector of vinyl in those days so and once I’d found a band I had to have the entire collection. It’s been a curse ever since!

Your first musical project was Seek Help, where did that name come from and as we made the assumption that your new album also named [Seek Help] was seeded from then, is the album title just a nod to the past or holding a stronger meaning behind it for you?

Gary: The name “Seek Help” originally came from a joke. The track ‘Revenge’ had existed in some form right from those early days, and we didn’t have a name as such then. We had recorded a very rough and basic demo of the track and played it to friends, and their response was “You two need to seek help”. We looked at each other and laughed, and about 10 seconds later said “that’s our name”, and it stuck. For me, naming the album [Seek Help] is just a nod to that.

Ant: This is where I do have a clearer memory of exactly when it came about. A college mate had always added the phrase “Seek Help” to the chorus of ‘Revenge’. We went into our first proper studio sessions in Chelmsford to record our first proper demo as “Who Cares?”, but as Gary suggested it wasn’t a definite. The guy recording the demo heard the phrase and “Seek Help” stuck.

What brought Seek Help to an end and how long was it before Defeat emerged? 

 pic Malcolm Tyler

pic Malcolm Tyler

Gary: A disastrous gig in Romford did the damage. Technical cock-ups and apathy from the (very) small crowd that bothered to show up didn’t help. I basically had a meltdown live on stage and trashed my drum pads. Shortly after the gig Ant and I both came to the conclusion that the name Seek Help had run its course, and because of the sense that we’d been beaten, Ant suggested ‘Defeat’ as a new name. Musically, we didn’t really change anything and we just set about doing stuff under the “new banner”, as it were, a few months after we’d taken stock of what happened that night.

Ant: That was definitely the end for a while. And life, love, marriages and the day job kept us apart for a good few years. I’d just like to say that Seek Help never really ended. The songs from those days are now under the Defeat banner. And adding to the previous question it just seemed apt to name our début album as a nod to that fact. The name Defeat for me was perfect as a negative and positive. Those days it was only the name that changed. I suppose for me Defeat only really emerged fully in 2011.

There was a kind of hiatus for Defeat from its opening breath I believe, what brought that about and what was the spark to reactivate the project?

Gary: Basically as Defeat was starting up, I got married and had kids so my focus and priorities changed. Ant also had his own stuff going on, so although we still met up and dabbled with music a bit, the other things in our lives at the time had taken over. It continued pretty much that way until mid-2011 when I discovered after coming home from holiday that my mother was ill in hospital. She dropped the bombshell they’d found cancer in her liver and six weeks later she had passed away. I was beside her when she died, and although it was (and still is) painful for me, I am so glad she didn’t die alone. My mother was a person who lived life on her terms and did things as and when she wanted, and I remember at the time a little voice in me said “Seize the day. If you don’t do this thing now you never will. Life is too short.”, so shortly after my mother’s funeral I spoke to Ant about starting up properly again.

Ant: Yeah, I didn’t know at the time that Gary losing his mother was the catalyst for him but he was suddenly very prolific with sending me demos. The advent of new technology and social networking meant that we didn’t need to be that close to bounce stuff back and forth. The process was so much more instant and the spark had not gone.

How would you say the two bands differ in sound and in your intent behind them?

Gary: The sound is different, but only because technology and our own tastes have evolved – I would say it’s a natural progression really as we started listening to different artists too. The songs still come together in the same way they always have for me. In terms of intent, that has remained the same for me – to write, record and perform music I would personally like to hear myself.

Ant: I can’t disagree with that. It has always been about evolution. You cannot help being inspired by what you hear. For me it is an outlet. Music without passion or feeling is not music. You will notice that in our live performances. For me it could be a beat or a lyric or a melody, whatever type of music it is, if there is one or all of those elements, and it is well produced then you have cracked it. If we can do that, and I believe we have, then our work is done.

Was there a core lesson you learned with your first project that you took into Defeat to either avoid or embrace?

Gary: In Seek Help I was constantly worried that our songs didn’t sound hard enough, dark enough or industrial enough and may have been too lightweight and poppy. I don’t think that way anymore and if something is lighter in tone, then that’s how it is – I suppose you could say I’ve learned to trust my instincts more.

Ant: From my side of things, lyrically that is, the songs have always been formed in my head. As Gary says, how light or dark they come out is of no consequence. It’s just that most of the time we do like a darker twist! In terms of lessons learned – that implies a failure. I feel we have never failed. It’s just that in the early days we had no time to push what we wanted to do.

166719_571237349577479_1654124329_nThe four track Outbursts! EP was your first release as Defeats on Static Distortion Records. Did you have a particular idea and intent for the EP and its introduction of the band to the country?

Gary: Initially after getting Defeat up and running again in 2011, we’d put together a version of Outbursts for a competition on Side-Line.com. The track didn’t do anything as far as the competition was concerned, but the process of putting it together and actually finally sending something out gave us an impetus to record. So we hooked up with long-time friend Nik Hodges (Chas Hodges Band / Psykelekrik / Deletists) and we went to his studio. Initially it was nothing serious; the idea was to put a few tracks down (and for me also to have a chance to play with lots of lovely analogue synthesizers – lol). I played Nik a few rough instrumental demos and we started fleshing out the production of the songs musically from there – the lyrics were already written at this point.

Ant: I always knew we had some winning tunes. So we went in the studio with someone who knew the tracks and had the same passion as us for the songs. And I think Gary would agree with me that those few sessions in the studio with Nik have had a massive effect on how we work now. To be surrounded by some lovely old analogue kit, combined with new plug-in technology, I think really opened up our eyes. The original intent was for a self-release. In the digital age, once your work is out there it stays. I just wanted what I knew was a great group of songs out there.

How did the link up with Static Distortion come about?

Gary: We’d been noticed on-line by Steve (Fearon) when we posted the track for the Side Line contest, and he contacted us inviting us to join the label. We met with Steve and after an earnest and honest discussion with him, we joined SDR. At this point the EP was still unfinished, so we agreed this would be Defeat’s first SDR release, providing we could wrap it up reasonably quickly. A month after that first meeting, the EP was mastered and delivered to Steve.

Ant: Yeah, social networking and a lot of spamming around on various sites was where Steve heard of us. I was basically searching out any band of a similar style I could find. Outburst caught his attention and he contacted us. The rest is history.

How does the songwriting happen within Defeat and has that stayed the same from day one?

Gary: Although we do tend to have some lyrics as a starting point, how a song develops and comes together is never the same. Some songs we agonise over and we can and sometimes do argue vociferously over certain parts of a song. On the flip side of that, we have written tracks where everything just falls into place, although that tends to be the exception rather than the rule. One example of everything falling into place happened when we wrote ‘Ripcord’. I had a simple beat going in the sequencer and I started jamming a fairly minimal bass line over it. While listening to this, Ant was rifling through his lyric book and found some lyrics he’d written down that fit the vibe we had going on. I added the other keyboard parts while Ant fleshed out the lyrics he had written down, and in around 2 hours or so, ‘Ripcord’ was completed.

Ant: In essence, Gary is the musician and I provide the lyrics. Which way round a track develops is not always the same. As I alluded to earlier, I often write a whole song in my head. But I then need Gary to get it out of there and sometimes that is very simple and sometimes a drawn out process. Other times, Gary will put something together and I will remember a lyric and fit it to it. We haven’t jammed together for a while, as all the songs we have released so far (with the exception of ‘Scars’) were already there, but when we do I know the spark will always be there.

You have just released your excellent debut album which we mentioned earlier, [Seek Help]. It is a record which builds on the EP, its sound and songwriting, whilst lying just as easily alongside it, how do you regard it in comparison?947044_603508886350325_1407494312_n

Gary: I see it as a natural progression from the EP in terms of production. I’m always keen to learn new production techniques and use them wherever possible. A couple of the songs on the album were actually written before some of those that are on the EP, so from that perspective the EP and the album dovetail each other quite nicely.

Ant: You could almost merge the two. When we put the ‘Outbursts! EP’ together we had enough material for two albums but an EP was suggested as our first introduction to SDR. So the album is a direct continuation. I think we have forged a clear sound for ourselves which is evident in both releases; I am hugely proud of them both. To finally get them out there is fantastic.

What is the biggest evolution of change in your sound for you since making the EP to now?

Gary: I’d say we’ve probably got more layers in the sound now, and everything sounds a little bit sharper and brighter on the album compared to the tracks on the EP, as I’ve gained more confidence in using new plug-ins and trying out production techniques I’ve picked up in the time since the EP was released. For example many of the lead sounds I use now are made from several sounds stacked and layered together, rather than trying to make one massive sound on one particular synth. It does make replicating those sounds for live gigs a bit trickier, but I’m more relaxed about the live sound now than I used to be, and providing the sounds I play are close enough to those on the recording, then that’s fine. And I like to think I’m proficient enough to recreate those sounds without too much difficulty.

Ant: I defer all tech-based questions to Gary! But I would like to praise Gary’s growing proficiency in mixing and production. His work will soon be seen in various other projects around the scene.

Do you have a particular method in recording your songs and especially with the album this time around?

Gary: With this album, most of the songs were musically complete as demos from around Christmas 2012. We then set aside time to record the vocals in early 2013. We work very quickly when the ideas flow and we were able to track about 90% of the vocals for the album in a few sessions. We tend to get the music tracked first and then record Ant’s vocals. I also did some backing vocals on this album, unlike the EP where vocally it’s all Ant, and I was able to do those bits fairly quickly in those same sessions.

Ant: Yeah that’s basically it. Like I said earlier, the tracks just needed fleshing out and adding our vocals. Gary puts the tracks down and I will lend an ear. These were long-standing songs for us so I had a lot to say in terms of how they sounded. Two tracks that we thought were a shoe-in for the album were dropped from the album sessions due to us not agreeing on a final mix. But these are finally the definitive versions for us.

The album has a building malevolence to loosely describe its intensity of breath and seeming nature as you venture deeper into its provocative presence track by track. Is this something you see too and was it intentional or a rewarding by-product of the albums natural progression?

Gary: I think it was a bit of both. We always knew the album would start with ‘Fear’. The album actually starts with ‘In Vestri Genua Descendamus’, but this track is in fact made from parts of ‘Fear’ and is the intro we use for live. On the album it could be seen as a longer intro to ‘Fear’. We also knew that ‘Scars’ was going to be the final track and we just had to put the remaining tracks into an order that ebbed and flowed as naturally as possible. It’s that flow, which is part-planned and part-accidental that imbues the album with this sense of building malevolence.

Ant:  I’m glad you picked up on that because I always had a plan to weave a pattern throughout the album. When ordering the tracks we treated it how we would a gig set. ‘Fear’ was always the big intro; ‘Ripcord’ was always track 2 live. ‘Defeat’, again, had been used as a gig opener. ‘Revenge’ through to ‘Cry At Your Funeral’ was always going to be grouped together. ‘Scars’ was originally an instrumental that was always going to end the album.

There also feels, certainly on the album, at times a strong personal element to songs, is this the case? How close to home are the inspirations for songs?

Gary: Everything lyrically is either from a situation Ant or I have experienced, or from an observation we’ve made of the world around us. I tend to leave the lyrical side of things to Ant, although I do write lyrics sometimes. Whenever I do write lyrics I always then give them to Ant, and he will invariably twist them and take them in a different direction.

Ant: Yeah I always get blamed for the cynicism in the lyrics! Gary never complains though! Following on from the last question, the bulk of the album is from personal experiences. If you don’t get a feeling from a song then no-one will connect to it. I don’t apologise for how personal the lyrics are. It’s what I believe is the core to our identity. All the best songs I have ever known come from the heart, however light or dark they are.

defeat coffin  video stillIs there a particular moment or aspect of [Seek Help] which gives you an extra tingle or glow of satisfaction?

Gary: For me, the satisfaction comes when someone else really likes the album or says “that song is great”. For me that’s the greatest compliment. Of course I still get moments when I hear certain elements in a track and I’ll think “damn, I like the sound of that!” One such example is the intricate “clicky” percussion at the beginning of ‘Scars’.

Ant: The compliments have been fantastic. What amazes me is that when I listen to it now there are elements in there that jump out that I’d even forgotten about! For me, that shows that we have produced something that will not get stale quickly. The ominous opening bass on ‘Ripcord’ gives me a great thrill, the urgency of ‘Cry At Your Funeral’,  the fantastic synth lines across all the tracks still excite me. And I was really happy with the vocals. ‘Scars’ was a real treat at the end as it was always an instrumental with one vocal line so to finally get a full track was a huge bonus. Proud is an understatement.

What comes next for Defeat?

Gary: We’re working on putting a free download single for “Coffin” together which will include a few alternative takes on the song. There’s also a video of the track in the pipeline too to coincide with the single release, but we’re not working to a particular deadline on either at the moment. I think after that, we’ll look in 2014 at doing either another EP or the traditionally-labelled “difficult” second album. At the moment I’m also involved with mixing the new album for D.E.P feat. MiXE1.

Ant: 2013 will hopefully come to a close with the single release. A lot of remixes are surfacing now so there will be some form of remix collection. 2014 will bring that second full album. No dates are set but it is going to be an exciting times as new tracks will need to be written alongside some older ideas. We will also be looking to gig a lot more regularly throughout the coming months.

Many thanks for taking time to chat with us, anything you would like to add?

Gary: I’m just very grateful for the chance we’ve been given to get our music to a wider audience – and huge thanks must go to Steve Fearon for giving us that chance. In addition, I’d also like to state for the record that despite the oft-documented drama that occurs in the industrial scene, everyone I’ve come into contact with in the scene since joining SDR have been some of the friendliest and welcoming people I’ve met.

Ant: I echo those comments. I think I’d just like to say that there is a lot of good music out there that we all need to support if we are to keep this scene going. It doesn’t matter if it sounds old-school or like someone else. If it stirs something in you and is well put together then cherish it. Take a risk on something new. You might surprise yourself!

And finally what are the five most important songs or releases that you feel guided or lit your own musical mind-set?

Gary: Oh, that’s a tough one – and this may seem like a cop-out – for me there are just too many songs that have had some sort of influence on me, and the list changes constantly.

Ant: I know it sounds clichéd but for me it is ‘Violator’ and ‘Masses’ (DM), ‘Pretty Hate Machine’/’Broken’/’Downward Spiral’(NIN), ‘Belief’/ ‘Showtime’/’Ebbhead’ (NE), ‘Headhunter’/’Welcome to Paradise’ (242) and more recently ‘Gelb’ (Neuroticfish). Yes, I know I’m old but those were my early dark inspirations! We are influenced every day by what we hear, see and experience. That’s what inspires me to write but all the above artists and more are guiding the feel of the music.

Go download the EP / Album and come see us live soon – I assure you it is worth it! Cheers.

Something we at the RR wholeheartedly agree with. Checkout the review of [Seek Help] @ https://ringmasterreviewintroduces.wordpress.com/2013/05/16/defeat-seek-help/

Questions:  Pete RingMaster

The RingMaster Review 03/09/2013

Brewing melodic fire: an interview with MiXE1

mixe1 pic 2

   The journey of electro rock pop band MiXE1 has been a striking and thrilling rise for it and its fans; from a solo project of founder Mike Evans to a full line-up with the addition of Lee Towson and Lee O’Brien, the band has brought a fresh and vibrant breath to the UK electro scene as confirmed by the excellent just released new EP Lights Out. With an album in the works and the new EP lighting up a hunger, it was time thanks to the members of MiXE1 to find out more about the band and its members. So pry we did…

Hi Guys and thanks for letting us explore the world behind MiXE1

Mike: “Our pleasure, Pete! Fire away :)”

Shall we start right at the beginning…give us some background to yourselves before MiXE1.

Mike Evans: “Before MiXE1, I was the guitarist in an alternative metal band called Broken Butterfly X. I’d been involved in a bunch of bands and projects before (most of those with Lee T), none of them actually got to the gigging stage apart from BBX though. We got a stash of recordings from those projects somewhere (a lot too embarrassing for public consumption)! But yeah BBX was my last band; I basically wrote the music and contributed some vocal melodies.”

Lee Towson: “I’ve actually known Mike since pre-school and we’ve been writing music in some form or another for the best part of about 12-13 years now. We started off, I think, just as secondary school was coming to an end; so we were about 15 or 16 years old and we’d regularly meet whenever we could (including class time) to write and record together.

This continued into College and through University and gradually expanded to include more outside musicians. Up until this point, while we were putting together music that was coming from a serious place, most of our lyrical output was built up around all these incredibly personal jokes or references to specific situations we’d experienced, particularly during school, and it just didn’t make sense to include anybody else. A lot of my most favourite songs of ours are completely nonsensical in subject matter and often spiralled into some of the craziest stuff you could imagine; maybe one day we’ll get the bright idea to release some of it somehow (and then promptly regret it!).”

Lee O’Brien: “Self-taught drummer. Practice!? What’s that? Just don’t have enough time! Played in a few bands over the years… My last band Load went through numerous line-up changes. We managed to record an album which had a few tracks featured on Classic Rock (Track of the day) and some cover mount CD’s for their monthly magazine. In the end we split due to lack of commitment and enthusiasm.”

What sparked and inspired not only the project but your experimentation with electronics and songwriting?

Mike: “Songwriting in general – I can’t even recall how it started! A love of music, a desire to create 🙂 What inspired the project was wanting to try a different sort of music. In terms of how MiXE1 started…Well a few years ago I was in BBX which was alt-metal. The vibe in general was heavy and some darker vibes, influenced by bands like KoRn…Dir en Grey. It had come out exactly how I planned it but I wanted to try some electronics and the big factor for me – the lyrics were quite dark, melancholy, angry – which worked and sounded great in the songs. With my changing life views and stuff, I wanted to try something more uplifting though…More positive and with a hint of romance. So I fired up Sonar and wrote the first MiXE1 song 🙂 And from there MiXE1 has just grown and grown. I feel the songwriting is only getting stronger. Fast forward to now, we’ve got the Lee’s adding their guitar and drum input to the songs. It’s always exciting to see how a song will evolve.”

Lee T: “It just felt like a natural progression really. Though I’m actually a bass player by nature, playing guitar for MiXE1 felt like a comfortable shift due to the amount of music we’ve written together before; the familiarity in the recording environment was a big deciding factor, I think. To be honest, I’m fully aware of my lack of guitar playing knowledge and if it were any other band asking me to take up the same role for them I’d probably have refused! As for the electronic side, we had tried our hand at a fair amount of synth driven rock in the past so slotting into this project was easy enough and I do feel like I can use my more rhythmic, bass-playing tendencies to my advantage in a genre that generally demands these driving low-end parts. That said though, as we push on with recording beyond the EP, we’re adding a lot more lead guitar parts too – which is really pushing my boundaries and has been a pretty fun challenge so far!”

Lee O: “I love to keep busy with music especially writing. I’m a drummer so not very musical. I didn’t want to rely on people to come up with stuff for me to add my drum parts… end up sitting round waiting for ages (although I can’t say that for MiXE1 as we always seem to have something on the go). I decided to have my own little project MiNiMAL FiLTh. It’s all electronic, samples and stuff. I got great enjoyment out of this and it helped with my song writing skills.”

What were/are the strongest inspirations to your creativity either musically or personally? mixe1

Lee O: “For me I’m really inspired (for this type of music) by Linkin Park, Pendulum, Prodigy, Leftfield, Celldweller and Rammstein. It’s their samples, synth sounds, vocals and song writing ability that makes me want to bop :)”

Lee T: “I guess my very first influence was my parent’s record collection! I grew up listening to bands like The Damned, UK Subs, The Clash and a hundred other bands across the punk spectrum; add to that a healthy dose of reggae, new wave, Sabbath and Zeppelin and that was more or less my start in life. I still remember thinking I was the coolest kid in primary school singing Guns n Roses songs in the playground! These days my inspirations come from a wider variety of media; films, books and life experience, the people around me and of course music is always there. The palette is ever changing really! It’s a lot more fun that way, I find. Over a bunch of genres across the board, 2013 so far has been amazing for music in particular for me.”

Mike: “I’m inspired by life, my wife, my family and friends all sorts 🙂 My wife in particular and things we’ve gone through has been a bit inspiration for the songs. In terms of other bands, too many to say really – a lot of music inspires and sometimes influences come from unexpected places!”

The band initially was a solo project for yourself Mike, was this always the intention or even early on were you looking at expanding the band, as you have since of course.

Mike: “At the time of starting the project, I thought it was always going to be a solo thing! I had no real intention of it becoming a band or even playing live – I was quite attracted to doing my own thing and not having any of the creative concessions you can find in bands. But this really was fuelled by wanting to go in a more electronic and lyrically positive direction than the main band I was in at that time. Since setting the foundation of what MiXE1 is, what it’s about and particularly with these guys – that’s not a problem at all. Everyone’s really open about the music and how it comes out.

How we became a full band… Essentially I was looking for some live band members to play a gig or two. The Lee’s joined the mix and I encouraged them to put their own spin on the songs, add their own stuff to their parts and not just to follow the recordings to a tee. We actually played some album songs in rehearsal and what they were adding was really cool and most importantly really fitting to the songs. I remember thinking that I’d love to have this stuff on the actual recordings! From there, it just made sense and felt right to become a band. We’re fortunate in that everyone really adds something positive to the songs. We were looking for a live bass player for ages too afterwards and we finally found Marcos who tears it up live. He’s really talented too but the important thing is everyone gets along. It’s a laid back atmosphere when we’re all together, fun times…exactly how it should be ;)”

Your previous bands were more guitar based how did you find creating music different with electronics, apart from then obvious, and did it open up a more expansive field to explore than before?

Mike: “Oh for sure! Even in my BBX I was using a lot of guitar FX pedals, so it wasn’t always a straight guitar sound – I was always looking to modify the sound to give it atmosphere and diversity rather than driving every song with the same sound. Moving to electronics just gives you a much wider palette. With synths, there are so many different sounds which can give each song a unique texture. The songs have more layers and get even more epic!”

Lee O: “Mine were also more guitar based. I wanted to move more into the Electro scene, maybe creating a British Rammstein. For me, being an Electro group, I can write more as I have the use of midi programs where I can create synth tunes as I’m not very good at playing the keyboards… hey it’s all creativity at the end of the day ;)”

mixe1 pic 4 Your debut EP was Module 1, tells us about it and what you learnt in its creation which helped with subsequent releases.

Mike: “My attitude for Module 01 was kind of experimental! It laid the foundations of the project – the theme which is essentially all based in a futuristic city called MiXE1. There are some references to that in the lyrics and more in the general sound of the music. But yeah it was very much a case of just seeing what I could do on my own with synths and my vocals on the first EP. I learnt a lot actually. The main thing I learnt was what my voice can do, discovering how to use it and what I can do. That was exciting. I learnt a bit about the importance of mixing through the process too. After I wrote the first MiXE1 song, my attitude was very much like…I have this song I think is cool but it’s just gonna sit on hard drive, I’ll release it so even if it’s not the most polished, people can actually hear it and maybe be affected by it. So I wrote and released the EP. These days I’m more picky about having a good mix to represent the songs well but still have that mentality of if I don’t release it, no-one’s gonna hear it so get it out there!”

There feels like your songs hold a deep personal core lyrically and musically especially in Module 2 your second EP, is that the reality and what inspires your songwriting?

Mike: “Yea definitely! Module 02 is a very specific story with four specific songs/chapters of a couple being separated, dealing with a long distance relationship, remembering a time before and finally being reunited – and the story stems straight from my personal life. The reality (without going in to the long story…or trying not to!) is that I’d met the love of my life, Amie – we were super happy but she was on a student visa and when it was about to expire, she had to leave the country (day before Valentine’s Day if you can believe it). We spent a year February to February doing the long distance thing before I finally got her back and she’s now my wife. So it all worked out well but that year was mental…All the emotion, money, stress of immigration, life changes and long distance relationship-ing etc. We communicated every day, some teary phone calls to boot. We kept positive and it’s all worked out! It was a lot of hard work but infinitely worth it. So yeah that situation comes in to so many songs – those on Module 02, Lights Out and Starlit Skin for sure.”

You have just released your new EP, Lights Out, for us your finest and most mature work yet, though I believe the songs were written between your previous pair of EPs. Did you revisit them or take them further on from their inception on the EP?

Mike: “A bit of both really! The songs were all there structurally – with the exception of ‘Find You’ which was written up to the first chorus. I initially thought of it as a ‘band revamp’ – get everyone on the recordings and see what happens. I mean again, a song like ‘Find You’ for example, it originally had an extremely simple beat and Lee OB came in with this really dynamic and involved rhythm – basically stamping his style and personality on it. Similarly on guitars, the song had none and now it’s soaked in atmospheric leads and chords. Suddenly a song has a different vibe or something unexpected has happened and we’ll feed off of it.”

Lee T: “If you were to go back and listen to the demo versions of each track (good luck tracking them down!), it’s actually mind blowing how far some of them have come.

Largely the structures remained the same throughout, but sonically you could just sense each song coming to life and taking on these whole new personalities as everyone found their groove and these new ideas started bouncing from one person to the other. It was a pretty global affair actually; each part was written and recorded over a number of days, in completely different places and then attached at the end of the day into a group email session we had set up, where we proceeded to nit-pick each song to death before shipping it on over to Lawrie at Studio X in Australia. So the whole recording process was this great experience of finishing a guitar part off one day and then receiving a new drum layer the next, maybe followed by a new vocal idea or synth and just layering this crazy musical Jenga as we went along – I must have about 8-10 versions of every track on the EP sitting on my computer with something SLIGHTLY different about each one.”

Lee O: “From what I know the basis of the songs was already there (which made our lives easier). It was just a case of adding, changing and tweaking to get them to where they are today.”

The release is the first with you all involved.  Do you think this expanded line-up and mix of ideas played a big part in why the songs have lights-out-ep-coverarguably leapt above your previously released songs, though they themselves have all help make impressive releases?

Lee O: “Without a doubt… ha-ha!  :^o ===(   trumpet, blowing 🙂 ”

Mike: “Ha, yeah I would say so for sure. I mean the songs were always there – the synths, basic structure, vocals, the basic riffs…The core of the songs. What we have now is a bigger sound, a more ‘live’ one thanks to some big drums and big guitar.”

Going back a bit for clarity how did you all meet and how has the additional skills and instrumentation impacted on the songwriting?

Lee O: “At The Pink Flamingo Club, we were wearing our crop tops and chaps…. oh wait, I’m getting confused! ”

Mike: “Lee T and I have been friends for years like he said earlier – think we met in the school playground playing Ninja Turtles or something! How we met Lee OB, we put an advert out for another Lee I think, right? ”

Lee T: “Yeah, we felt the dynamic of communicating with each other wasn’t QUITE confusing enough so we had to actively put an end to it. So, like many relationships these days, we found O’B via the internet, on the shadiest musician network we could find and then eventually met in person in the practice room one day. The rest is, as they say, geography… or something.”

Lee O: “I suppose I’d better come clean now…. my name isn’t Lee, its Rupert………….. I’ll get my coat!”

Lee T: “You should have said Richard – we could have called the new album The Crystal Dome!”

Mike: “But yea these guys have taken the songs to the next level! Lee OB is coming in with all these creative drum ideas that blow my mind. He gives the songs so much life and added dynamics. His ideas aren’t always restricted to drums – for example, having that extra bit of verse 2 guitar without vocals on Find You was his idea. Same with Lee T, he’s coming in with some amazing guitar ideas – lots of weird chords, lots of lead guitar stuff. I never really saw MiXE1 as having much lead guitar, I always wrote riffs very rhythmically in the past. It totally works; it’s a different vibe and stamped in his style/personality. On the EP, Find You and Pulling You Back To My World had no guitar written for them at all on the demos so it was a clean slate. Now guitar is a bit part of the songs.”

Is it a three way writing creativity for new songs now or still Mike at the core of that aspect?

Lee O: “I would like to say 3 way, but I would always want Mike (The Overlord :)) to have the final say as he has driven the sound and style to a certain place and wouldn’t want to upset that. He has done a good job in getting MiXE1 where it is today.”

Mike: “Yeah everyone is contributing for sure. I would say at this exact moment in time, I’m writing the core of the songs. That’s because we haven’t really tried writing anything from scratch as a band yet, it’s all been working on existing songs and demos penned before we became a band! There’s been plenty in the backlog 🙂 ”

Lee T: “Plus a bunch of rough demos and random recordings we keep finding from about 10 years ago!”

How do you personally approach your songwriting?

Lee O: “On tippy toes whilst wearing my lucky pants…..oh wait, I’m confused again!!”

Lee T: “In regards to Lights Out, I suppose we approached the songwriting in the same way we have always done and that’s with an open mind and a good sense of humour! The advantage of the way we work is there are no preconceived notions on how things should be done and there isn’t a certain standard expected from one another, so it leaves room for a real casual, yet productive atmosphere. This actually helped a lot for me over the last year, being the admittedly amateur guitar player that I am…

A huge majority of the guitar sessions for both Lights Out and the upcoming album have been in burst of about two hours at a time, 2-3 times a week and in a way I feel like it really helped shape some of the sound of everything you’re about to hear over the coming months. It was this real quick fire situation where ideas could be made or broken in the space of minutes and there was a hell of a lot of improvisation throughout, where we’d find ourselves picking out a great sounding part and building sections around these tiny sparks of ideas.

One of my favourite recording experiences so far was actually with an album track where I tried my hand for the very first time at soloing (spoiler alert!), and we literally had this one section of song repeating for nearly 2 hours while I repeated the same part with slight tweaks over and over again. It’s that level of fun and sheer patience that I really can’t imagine finding recording with anyone else.”

Mike: “Note – not all 2 hours of solo are on the album! 😉 Yeah, as a band we are very relaxed, in the rehearsal room or recording. My personal approach to writing… Well I always have the music first and that will spark off the vocals. I’ll usually cycle through various synth presets until a sound speaks to me or some songs I’ll start writing on guitar and later convert to synths – the 2012 single A Spark In The Air was like that. I just write songs that I want to hear, music I’d love to have on my own mp3 player and blasting out my stereo! I do have a self-imposed lyrical rule that I try to keep things positive or if there is some subject matter on the darker side, lace it with hope. For sure MiXE1 has always been quite open in terms of what sort of songs. ”

mixe1 pic 3There is a certain harder rock element and snarl to the electro sounds of the band now, was this something you ha in thoughts for a while or a thrilling consequence of the full line-up?

Lee O: “I don’t know, but I like it 🙂 ”

Lee T: “Good answer.”

Mike: “I’d say for sure being a band brings out the rock elements though I’d say it’s happened very natural rather than as a conscious decision. There’s always been rock vibes to some of the tracks – listening back to ‘Module 01’ there’s rock guitars there. The majority of synth parts on the EP were already written so I wouldn’t say the intention is brand new as a result of becoming a unit – what’s happened is the band have amplified this hard and it’s come out naturally. There are more guitar parts and these are more prominent. Having an actual drummer typically means you’ll be getting harder hitting rockier drum kits more often than the very electronic ones. It gives us an even bigger sound. I definitely feel the EP has a bit of a darker tone sonically than the previous material though as said, the core songs were written a while ago so the direction isn’t a result of that – however the band definitely accentuate the rock and edge of the songs. Balances nicely with synths to my ears :)”

Has the quality of and acclaim upon the EP changed your intent and thoughts  of the direction of MiXE1 or is it still on course for your original intention?

Mike: “Acclaim-wise – It’s a fantastic feeling to get positive feedback from reviewers and fans – we’re really appreciative and super grateful for it! In terms of impact on songwriting direction – there is none. Personally speaking I always write the music I want to write and be true to myself and what sort of songs I want to make, which is a very wide range and quite open. But it needs to feel right. If anything, the EP doing so well is an indication to keep doing that 🙂 There’s nothing greater than hearing from a fan that the music has connected with them and has been with them through times in their lives. Those messages keep me smiling for days on end!”

Lee T: “In light of the positive feedback we’re getting about the EP so far, I just wanna say a quick, but huge thanks to anyone and everyone out there who has taken the time to check it out, review it, spread the word or simply messaging positive vibes back via social media. The reaction to Lights Out so far has been way above and beyond what I expected and as my first “proper” release, the ride so far has been mind-blowing.”

Does the Lights Out EP give a strong taster of what to expect from the album you are currently working on, Starlit Skin?

Lee O: “No, not really. The album is becoming a beast. We have played more of the songs from the album in the studio than the EP, so I think that helped shape it into what it’s become.”

Lee T: “For me, I’ve gotta say that it doesn’t. The songs themselves are definitely coming from a similar place and space in time, but each track we finish up at the moment is just leaps and bounds ahead of Lights Out. That’s not to take anything away from the EP, of course, but I get a real sense of pride that I didn’t quite get with the EP. The best way I can describe it, I think, is in my own performance; not being well-versed in the art of guitar, I think my style can best be described as “winging it” and I definitely play with a ‘heart-not-head’ mentality. I think it works to our advantage, really – but you’ll have to decide when the album drops!”

Mike: “Yeah the songs on the album are sound huge. I’d actually say yes it’s a taster in the sense that we have big drums and big guitars and of course my voice and style. It’s very much MiXE1 with the new MiXE1 band vibe. So for me, it’s a taster in that respect for sure. Although I do feel the same as the guys in that the songs are coming out even better than Lights Out definitely! I’m proud of Lights Out but the songs on Starlit Skin are some of our best yet. There are a couple of more chilled songs on the album and a couple which are our heaviest yet, there’s a lot of emotion and exploration.”

Can you tell us more about the album, any spoilers 😉

Lee O: “Spoilers shmoilers…. it’s gonna have 10 original songs…. there ya go! ;)”

Lee T: “Expect to be head banging one minute and holding your hands aloft and swaying the next.”

When can we hope to see it?

Lee O: “That’s the trickiest question so far 🙂 Well it’s nearly finished…. we have a video shot for one of the tracks (just waiting for that to be completed). We’ve only just released the EP so wouldn’t be wise to release the album too soon. Think we were really going to promote, review and tease this album before release… so at a guess, towards the end of the year.”

Mike: “What Lee said! The plan is most likely the end of the year – we’ll be sitting on the album for a while sorting promo ideas for it and things for the next release. We need to give Lights Out time to air first 😉 ”

Certainly the songs on Lights Out at times give suggestion of inspirations from eighties and nineties artists and sounds, we mentioned being reminded of the likes of Modern English, John Foxx and even Blancmange, as well as more current people like Celldweller and Static Distortion stable mates Ghost In The Static, but is that older period one which has impacted on you most to spice your music would you say?

Mike: “Y’know what – I can’t actually think of any bands that come to mind as a big influence on the EP… At least not intentionally. I listen to a lot of music and I have so many influences – over time they become so integrated it’s sometimes hard to tell what influences are being channelled! So for sure older stuff has had an influence on me in some way and possibly on the EP though it wasn’t conscious ;)”

Lee T: “I’m similar in a way. While there were wasn’t any particular road map to writing these songs, I guess you’re always going to be influenced by whatever you’ve enjoyed previously whether you consciously want to or not. My music collection is so chock full of bands that make me say “I’d love to be involved in something like this”, it’s no doubt having some effect on my own output and it’s interesting so far seeing how other people are interpreting that. Being mentioned in the same sentence as some of the bands that people are reminded of, while listening to Lights Out, is just crazy to me I can tell you that!”

Lee O: “I feel I’m more influenced by current music, but who knows whether 80’s / 90’s music / bands like Duran Duran, Nik Kershaw, Pet Shop Boys, Adam and the Ants, Madness and Genesis influence me sub consciously. They probably do in a small way.”

You have and probably are involved in other projects and collaborations, can you fill us in on those too?

Lee O: “Maybe…. maybe not :)”

Mike: “Those which are public are ‘DEP featuring MiXE1’ – a project with Mark Haigh of Draconic Elimination Projects which we started last year. We shot a video as well for one of the singles earlier in the year, currently being edited. And also ‘M3SSAGE’ which consists of myself, Gary from Defeat and Steve from Ghost In The Static. The songs are sounding great though we’re very slow as we have our main projects as priorities. Some seven string guitar action in that one!

In terms of collabs, I’ve done a few guest vocals! I don’t really get to talk about them so I’ll talk about each of the public ones! Ghost In The Static’s song ‘Lost’ was the first. A kick-ass song, I was very honoured to be on their album (it’s awesome check it out). Steve had all the lyrics and vocals written I basically sang them and added my style and threw a few extra bits in there.

Cease2Xist’s song ‘Still Not Dead’ – that came out amazing, Dayve Yates absolutely nailed that song. He told me the lyrical theme he had in mind so I just sang some bits with the idea in mind, did a few backing screams and wrote the chorus – though only Dayve is singing that bit and added his embellishments (e.g. mental high scream :D)

Most recent is Cryogenic Echelon’s ‘From Comatose’ – basically Dayve linked me up to one of Gerry Hawkin’s releases which sounded really great and we got talking. Next thing you know I was working on a track with them. The track is awesome and Gerry was really encouraging to let me do my own thing. Really great bunch of guys, seriously talented and I’m proud how the song turned out! Bonus of that collab was Gerry introduced me to Lawrie (of CE and Studio-X) who mixed Lights Out.”

What apart from finishing the album and working on the EP promotion is next for MiXE1?

Lee O: “World domination of course. Oh, and a cup of tea with a nice biscuit on the side.”

Lee T: “Next on the agenda for me is a remix of one of the album tracks. Should be interesting as I’ve never really put one together with the intention of it actually getting out there so it’ll be an experience working on it knowing it’ll be promptly ripped apart by all the guys out there who are actually good at it! ha-ha.

Other than that, we’ve been toying with the idea of how to promote the future album release when the time comes. I produced the Lights Out trailer with my video production venture: Shooting Satellite and we didn’t really want to rinse and repeat that idea for promoting the album; so we’re currently bouncing some ideas around for something far more interesting…”

Thanks so much for sharing time to talk with us guys, anything else you would like to add?

Mike: “Thanks for the interview, Pete. We just want to say thank you for all the support – every listen, every share, every purchase, every bit of feedback. It means a lot and we are very grateful!”

Lee T: “Also thanks for the great review!”

Lee O: “This is going in OK magazine, isn’t it?”

And finally, it is becoming known that I do not get on with or understand the need for remixes, though the one of  your track Part Of Me on the new EP by the great band Defeat  did impress. So finally try to convince me of the worth of remixes as a valid proposition alongside original writing J

Mike: “I feel it serves two purposes – firstly a reimagining of a song, maybe taking it in a direction not explored in the original. A good remix for me takes the song to a new place but also very much has the sound of the remixer. Secondly, it gets bands names out – if you find a remix you like, you can check out the band who remixed and maybe you’ll like their stuff. So I feel it’s a way to promote your project as well. Personally speaking I do very few remixes, I’ve only done two. Takes me a bit of motivation as with my music time, I’d prefer to just blast new material! 😉 ”

Lee O: “I had a crack at a remix, it was my first as I can’t say I’ve ever been a fan of remixes myself…. but boy it’s hard. I found it harder than writing an original song. You have to do the original justice (even though it’s probably never going to be as good as) and feel like there is a pressure there for it to be real good. People think it’s easy as the song is already written and all you have to do is jig it about a bit. It’s like redesigning something that is good and functional…. it can be done, but will you come up with a better design than the original? Hmmmm!”

Lee T: “Oooh, controversial subject! This is where I’m gonna plant my foot firmly in my mouth after telling you I’m working on one myself but I’ve gotta say it’s not often I actively seek remixes out to listen to. That said, I understand their importance in certain circles, especially in the genre we find ourselves in, as they widen the potential audience while serving as a sort of dragnet for people to check out the originals! Defeat did some awesome work with Part of Me and turned it into this awesome, dark, dance-y number that I’m sure everyone will really enjoy. It definitely sounds killer in my car!”

https://www.facebook.com/mixe1

Read the review of the Lights Out EP @ https://ringmasterreviewintroduces.wordpress.com/2013/07/22/mixe1-lights-out-ep/

Pete RingMaster

The RingMaster Review 05/08/2013

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