What do you get when a Welshwoman and a New Zealander sit down in Like A Storm‘s dressing room… Sounds like the start of a joke right? Well it isn’t in this case, it’s the start of an interesting and philosophical chat as we catch up with the lovely guitarist/vocalist Matt Brooks to talk new music, visiting Wales for the first time on the Alter Bridge tour and an attempt at cracking the wood chuck riddle.
You debuted Pure Evil recently, which is your first new music since you released Awaken the Fire in February 2015, does this mean there’s a new album coming soon?
Matt: Absolutely! Yeah, we actually started making our next record and then the Alter Bridge guys asked if we wanted to come on this insane tour with them and Volbeat and Gojira and so we decided to push the rest of the album back but Pure Evil is the first song from that record!
Ah good. It’s an awesome track! Can you tell us a bit about the inspiration behind the track?
Thank you! Yeah. Well lyrically, Pure Evil is about the hypocrisy and corruption that you see a lot and people in positions of power. We were on tour in America and every night I’d get back from the show and go to my hotel and just turn on the TV to sort of relax and every time I turned on the TV, it felt like there was some story about a political scandal or a cover up in the Catholic church. It just felt like for whatever reason at that point in time, it just felt like I was being inundated with all of these examples of people who are supposed to be the ones setting the example you know.People who are supposed to be the most morally pure and the ones guiding the rest of us. So many times, they’re actually far worse than anybody else and so just the name ‘pure evil’ is a reference to that hypocrisy. On the outside, they seem so perfect and so pure but ultimately under the surface, they’re evil. It’s the first time that we’ve written a song about our view on something, typically our music has been about us and our lives and the things that we’ve experienced. Pure Evil is about something that we believe, which is that it’s not right for the people who sort of control us to be allowed to be such hypocrites.
It makes sense, because it is true, especially in America lately.
Yeah, it’s one of those things I think, you know, speaks to human nature a bit. I think people can aspire to positions of power for different reasons and I think there always is that danger that once someone gets into a positionof being untouchable, that there’s really a possibility for them to become incredibly corrupt or for them to get away with things that the rest of us would never get away with. So Pure Evil is really an attack on people who pretend to be one thing and sort of ‘holier than thou’ but actually they’re worse than anyone else.
You’ve teased a few images from the video, when do we get to see the visual and what was it like filming in one of America’s most dangerous cities?
The video is being edited right now, so actually one of the cool things is that everytime we come into a new town on tour and we get wifi, we see a new edit which is very exciting. We filmed it in a town called Gary, Indiana, it’s about half an hour out of Chicago and it’s a pretty dangerous city. In fact it’s so dangerous [the part we were in], that we had to have three armed police officers standing at the end of the room! So we were filming in this massive church that was all broken down, you’ve really never seen anything like it you know, it looks like a war zone! The church is still standing but the roof is caved in but I guess the reason that it’s standing is that it’s in this sort of area that is quite dangerous and it’s actually too dangerous to film there at night. So you can only film there in the day and only with armed security. When you come from New Zealand, to be in a place like that is kind of an eye opener. But it makes it really exciting!
Your previous single before Pure Evil, was Break Free and in the video you had fans writing the track’s lyrics. How did you come up with the idea to include the fans?
That was something we thought would be a cool way to involve our fans. We’ve always liked to involve fans in our videos, the Love The Way You Hate Me video has a lot of fans in it. Break Free was a song that really seemed to connect with our fans. When we first put out Awaken the Fire, we had singles out on the radio but Break Free was always a song that people would come up to us at shows and say ‘that song really connects with me’ or there are so many people around the world who have the lyrics from Break Free tattooed on them which is a huge honour for us! So when it came time to make a video for that, we just thought this was the perfect song to involve all of these people who had told us how much the song means to them.
It was a really good video, really well put together.
Thank you. It’s unbelievable to grow up in New Zealand and to be able to tour the world and we got to have fans from all over the world, even adding the lyrics in different languages!
You’re currently on tour with Alter Bridge, Volbeat and Gojira, how is it going for you so far?
It’s been awesome! We’ve been lucky enough to tour with Alter Bridge in the US quite a lot and we’ve played some festivals with Volbeat and we’re huge fans of Gojira. So just to be on a tour with bands of this level is incredible you know! The shows have been amazing, we’ve just played the O2 in London, which is one of those pinch yourself moments. It’s been incredible, this is our first time in Wales, this is an amazing tour to be on and a great way to see the UK.
Have you been out to explore Cardiff yet?
I explored from the bus to the venue (laughs). That was as far as I got. You get to see the countryside as you’re driving in. It’s really pretty. A lot of people have told us that Wales looks quite a lot like New Zealand and it does actually. The countryside’s really similar, today the sun is shining like in New Zealand
Which is a first! It’s normally raining.
But yeah it’s beautiful here! We’re really glad to be here!
This is your fourth time in the UK, with a previous appearance at Download in 2015 and three support tours, do you have any plans to come over for a headline tour? Because your fan base is growing rapidly here.
Yeah we absolutely do! It was always a dream of ours to come and we’ve been blown away with the number of fans that we’ve made. We’re definitely looking at coming back before the summer of next year and starting to do some headline shows. It’s one of those milestones, you know, the first time you get to play somewhere that’s an incredible feeling and then when you first get to play as a headliner that’s really another milestone. We’re really excited to come back and start playing some longer sets, play some more songs.
I know a lot of people on Twitter have been saying that you guys are really good but they’ve been disappointed that you’ve been on for a short period of time and we all want longer sets!
(laughs) Yeah, I mean we’re playing with amazing bands so I can’t complain but you know, one of the things about playing with four bands is you play for less time.
It seems as if you’re always on the road, so what do you think is the hardest part about touring?
Waking up (laughs). I don’t know. We love travelling and this is what we love to do. If we weren’t on tour then we would be either making music or trying to get back on tour! So we really are grateful that we’ve been able to tour asmuch as we have and see as much of the world as we have. It gets tiring sometimes but when you do what you love, that’s a small price to pay! It’s really awesome, now we get to tour in America, the UK and Europe. Next February we go home and play in New Zealand and travelling is fun. I love travelling and seeing new things and to get to travel doing what you love to me is about as good as it gets!
Yeah you can’t really beat that! We always end our interviews with some random questions. You can have one super power for 24 hours, what would it be?
I’d like to be able to fly, I guess you’d have to make sure you’re back on the ground before you lost that super power but I think that would be pretty cool!
If you weren’t back on the ground, it would be a bit of a disaster!
I’d need to get some sort of extension, like is there a grace period? Do I get to land before the power wears off? Or do I just plummet out of the sky?
I think you’d just plummet out of the sky at the end of the 24 hours when it disappears.
Yeah, you could say that you’d wanna be immortal for 24 hours but that’s just the same as being alive for 24 hours. I think being able to fly would be pretty cool.
How much wood would a wood chuck chuck if a wood chuck could chuck wood?
You know my grandfather used to say that to me all the time, that’s a great one! I can’t remember what the answer is. There is an answer to that isn’t there?
I don’t know, its been answered with something to do with a gum boil like ‘how much oil could a gum boil boil if a gum boil could boil oil’ I think it was
Wow, we never had that one. Our grandfather was English and he used to say that to us. It’s awesome. I wasn’t sure if there was actually ever an answer to that one. It’s just one of those things that your grandparents say to you and you go “wow!” I mean can a wood chuck chuck wood? That’s the question. I guess they’re saying if. It’s more of a philosophical thing isn’t it? You walk away thinking ‘okay firstly; what is a wood chuck? Secondly; can it chuck wood? And then thirdly how much? Now I know what I’m going to be doing for the rest of the day.
And fourthly; why?
Yeah! I mean I guess it’s in the name isn’t it? I’m not sure what else a wood chuck would do.
Describe the person sitting to your right as tomorrow’s headline?
That’ll be you! Umm “Interviewer talks to band from New Zealand in amazing interview that references wood chucks!” and then the subtitle is “what the hell is a wood chuck?”
That’s a very long headline.
I think it’s worth it. Sometimes you just don’t want to abbreviate, you’ve got to leave all the stuff there. It’s gonna be a real head turner!
What’s your favourite horror film?
It depends, I would say the Alien movies. Some people say that’s more of a sci-fi but I think it’s a horror. Or The Shining, Hellraiser. I actually love horror movies and I love that intersection of science fiction in horror. So I guess if I would be allowed, I would say the Alien movies, Prometheus all those movies. I would say that.
Thank you for talking to me today.
You’re welcome. Thanks for talking to me.