Daniel Powell talks with A Last Concern ahead of their Cockpit show this weekend
A Last Concern formed in Castleford and Wakefield in the later stages of 2005 after various separate projects imploded. Barely a year passed before they went their separate ways, only to reconvene again in 2008, ready to give it another go. Bored of the punk and metal scenes that spawned them, ALC set about creating something that would pull all of their previous influences together. Armed with a more mature approach to song-writing, and with months of writing and refinery behind them, the band holed up in a tiny office based recording studio to lay down their first EP 'What's The Point In Living If You Don't Feel Alive'. Gigs soon followed with the likes of The Ghost of a Thousand and Casino Brawl, the band steadily building a brand new reputation as fearsome prospect on the live circuit.
After checking them out on MySpace I picked up a copy of the EP and got in touch about doing an interview, at which point I was invited to their studio-cum-practice room, and it was there that I managed to grab them for a little chat.
Tell me a little about how the current line up got together, previous projects you've all been involved in, and a bit of background on the band.
Paul: The current line up got together through a common interest of wanting to actually achieve something musically. We've all been in bands that played the whole fame and fortune card and could have been something but never truly gave 150% to make it.
Steve: Basically Rob and I decided to bring ALC back after our last attempt had run dry 3 years ago. Rick joined us on guitar from my old band These Silent Movies, Paul replied to a drummer ad after his band, The Good Die Young, finished in the summer, then after a few others had been and gone Greg joined on bass in February 2009.
How did your various influences shape the current sound? And how does this sound compare/differ to the original sound of the band?
Rob: Three years ago ALC had a very mixed message. It was as if 5 people had different influences and they didn't want to play anything but what they were into. We had a pop punk song, some metal core stuff and then a bit of an emo vibe. There was no common interest and everyone wanted their two cents, regardless of how it sounded.
This time around it's a little more focussed, we've grown up a bit and with a new way of working we've managed to capture all of our influences into a sound that works as a whole. It's not a compromise in any shape or form, we just write organically and as a group bring our different ideas in and it just happens, as if by magic! [Laughs].
You've played with a wide variety of acts, from punk bands (Ghost of a Thousand) to Metal (Casino Brawl) to post hardcore (Shadows Chasing Ghosts), what is it about your music that allows you to play with these different types of bands?
Steve: [Laughs] that's a funny one. We are always chatting to new promoters up and down the country to hook up with gigs. Currently we are talking to a lot of promoters down south. Last week a promoter commented on our influences and how he didn't understand why we didn't just sound like other bands. He then asked which genre we thought we fit into, at which point we asked him the same question. He basically couldn't answer it and then decided he could put us on any metal or punk bill. Job done!
Greg: Because of our diversity and tone we've played with some really dark death metal bands but then we've also played with ska punk bands. It's all about delivery; if you're a good band with the right material you should be able to pull it off.
What would you say ranks as your biggest achievement as a band so far?
Rick: Getting the main support for TGOAT in March after only playing live for a month. Then outselling them on the night of the gig! Sorry chaps no offense.
It was a truly epic night, in all ways possible, one we'll remember for a long time to come.
Tell me about some of the remixes that have surfaced of some of your songs on Myspace, how did these come about and also what attracted you to this in the first place?
Paul: Given we self produce all our recorded material and I've been doing this for about 10 years now, I've met a few people along the way who dabble in the whole remix scene. Solar Powered Boy, a new and up and coming producer from down south has stepped up for the first remix of [first EP track] Head Held High. He's delivered a Prodigy-inspired remix, leaning towards a kind of 2 Many DJs, infamous party vibe towards the end. The second is from another good friend, Australian producer and DJ T-Boy. His goods are due in pretty soon, in time for our second EP.
I think music is a very recyclable commodity you know? We all learn from other bands, crib stuff, change it and repurpose it. I like the idea of a metal band trying new things out, you know just saying here's our music now Mr DJ, create your own vision using our songs as a blueprint. There's so much beef involved with bands trying to be more metal than others, and we want to be the exception. We are just doing what we love and if that means electronic remixes then that's fine, we are just looking to reach a wider audience with our eyes wide open, not firmly closed.
You mentioned a second EP [following the current release], have you made any plans to record new material any time soon? Also, will this be self produced, as with your previous work, or will you be visiting a studio?
Paul: Yeah the songs for the new EP are nearly ready. It's still untitled, as are the songs, it's still so fresh. The last EP was done on an absolute shoe-string budget; we are hoping to take this mentality to a studio environment this time just to iron out the edges. What we don't want to loose from our first EP is the energy, excitement and rawness that went into those songs. The quality might not have been 100% pro, but the creativity made up for it. With more tech support and a few guiding minds, things can only get better for us hopefully.
What are your plans for the rest of 2009?
Rob: In short: Record new EP, Shoot our music video for 'Don't Power Off, Song Loading', we're working with [director] Adam Fair, who's worked with The Cribs. Then we want to get our songs out on iTunes, sit back and wait for the major labels [laughs]. The gigs are still coming in thick and fast as is the norm recently. We are just going to write more material then get ready for 2010. It's going to be a big year for us.
How do you see A Last Concern fitting into the current musical climate? In both the local scene, and on a larger scale?
Greg: I think this goes back to what we said before. We love what we do and people are really getting into our infectious blend of metal and punk. We've been getting positive feedback from people who don't usually listen to metal so this has got to be a good sign.
Rick: We are now starting to get out of Leeds more so we'll see. From what we've heard so far things are looking up as we crowbar our way into venues and nights that typically would bill us. Exciting times ahead!
Speaking of the local music scene in Leeds, are there any bands that you are into at the moment or that people should be looking out for?
Steve: We've been playing with a Leeds band called Sterling a lot recently. They've just got this insane energy when they play. They're a really great live band, and definitely one to watch for the future.
Greg: Wakefield band Side Effect Suicide are a great upstart too, check them out over the next few months.
Finally, tell us about some of the gigs you have coming up in the near future.
Paul: Loads more gigs upcoming, Rios with Casino Brawl and Deaf Havana, we are currently sorting out some dates with Nottingham Rock City and O2 Birmingham, but let's not forget our slot down at the Cockpit on 15th August. We just can't wait to get down there and tear it up!