Interview by Adrian Hextall
On the back of a great triple bill tour with Bad Touch and Aaron Buchanan & The Cult Classics, Daxx & Roxane having been wowing audiences with their energised brand of infectious hard rock. We caught up with Simon Golaz (Bass) and Cal Wymann (Guitar) before the show at ULU-Live in London
AH: Thank you very much for talking to me today. Let’s start with the band set-up. You guys all live together, don’t you, in London?
Simon: Yes. For five years now.
AH: You’ve got that proper, sort of band ethic. It sort of harkens back to the old songs at strip stores where the band’s all in a studio flat living together, working together, after hours, parties together and whatever. How close is that to reality for you guys? Or is that a little bit more low-key these days?
Cal: Well, we’ve basically known each other at this point, almost all of our lives.
Cal: We met when we were in primary school so we’ve really known each other for a long time. When we were living in Switzerland, we started our thrash band. At some point, we were just like, we want to go to London and do music. And I thought the best way to do it is just to go altogether, get a house, and just you know, set up our base.
Cal: And so right now, it is kind of, I would say, I mean it’s pretty close to that. We all live in the same house, we write our music there. We party there.
Simon: We annoy the neighbours there.
AH: You can’t live in a house together and not annoy your neighbours. It goes with the territory, surely.
Simon: It’s also so much easier for like, other general things, even if you are not a musician. Like to just live with, in London, with friends of yours, it’s so much easier too. If you have to move house, you’re already a group of people together, you can just look for a big place altogether. It makes things so much easier.
Cal: I mean this thing of being mates, it’s one of the– I don’t know qualities, is that the word? No, it’s like one of the things that makes the band, man. People do notice it when we play on the stage that, “you guys look like you’ve been mates forever. You guys look like you’re having fun together.” I’m like, yes you know we do everything together, we live together, we write music together, we go to the studio together. After the studio, we go back home together and all this, it’s a whole band thing.
AH: No, I’ll give you that. I mean, having seen you play several times live now, the smiles are always there and it’s one thing you notice, you sharing glances and grins. I mean it’s not just a case of you having a good time, you can clearly tell when you playing off each other as well and things like that. And that shows the dynamic is there, doesn’t it?
AH: Yes. Like that, I like that. Why London though? Because I mean you’re from Montreaux originally?
AH: Which kind of has a little bit of musical heritage attached to it.
Simon: It does but it’s–
Cal: I think heritage is the right words.
AH: Rather than a future.
Cal: Yes. It doesn’t have a music scene.
Simon: Well, it’s like a meeting point for big bands but it’s not a place where, it can happen. It’s really hard for local bands to do anything. If you do something and you get famous there, it is probably even harder to get out. We sing locally, and that’s it. There are a lot of big festivals there in the summer. You can just do festival after festival, but it’s really hard to get booked for those shows if you’re not already quite big.
Cal: Yes. And then like London is, obviously, I mean, we’re not from the UK, so we don’t know about the scene in Manchester and all that stuff. So when we were back in Switzerland, London is the city where we want to be. And so, it’s also close to home, so six hundred miles which is a lyric in one of our songs.
AH: And easier to get back?
Cal: Yes, exactly! For us, it was the place we wanted to be. It’s got music and rock culture, it’s got a scene, it’s got–
Cal: Yes, we can gig every night in London if you want too. In Switzerland, you’ll be hard-pressed getting one gig every three months.
AH: Wow. No, I can appreciate that, and you’re absolutely right. I mean the lights, the cameras, and singing for example. There is something on every night and you’re actually competing with seven or eight other gigs up and down in the high street.
Cal: And yes. It’s true that you always got to– and you know when you’re starting off in London, you’re always playing gigs where you got to bring your mates down, but that what’s we want to do, just start building or following down in London, having some parties.
Simon: And the classic rock scene in Switzerland is almost non-existent as well. Like it’s really hard to find bands to play with that plays the same kind of music like, everything is Death metal or Viking metal.
Cal: We were either too hard for Indie Rock gigs of too soft for Thrash and Death Metal gigs.
AH: Which just leaves you just Gotthard to play with presumably?
AH: That’s it, isn’t it?
Cal: We’re kind of in-between like, just a bit out of place.
Simon: And at the moment like there’s so many good bands in England that play this kind of music, it’s starting to really be booming, it’s really cool.
AH: Yes, but there is actually. There is definitely a movement in music now. You guys do stand out a little bit, in terms of you’ve got something that doesn’t just blend in with all the others, but that are a lot of bands that you’re almost competing with for the same space. That’s got to be good in the sense of – well, it’s a challenge that’s got to make you step up in your game. But also, it can also divide the fans and take a handful here and so. So, it’s a bit of a tough one to balance, I would’ve thought.
Cal: Yes. So when we started out gigging in London, we’ve got band-mates I guess, like called, Mongrel Dogs. We did a lot of gigs with them and we were like, “Oh, they’re doing that on-stage and they’re doing that in the show, why don’t we do that?” And then we did something and they would kind of one-up us. Each time we challenged them. And they were looking at all the different bands playing and you can improve by looking at what the other guys are doing. And then we found the guys from Bad Touch, which is not that same style of music, they were more like sleaze and southern. But it fits on a build together, and it’s really nice to be on tour with bands that fit the style of music. And it’s true that like, fans always got to have to choose because there is so much choice, you’re not going to like every band and the band going to be competing to get the fans but for us to be on tour with them and just get our music to their standings.
AH: Definitely. I mean, tonight’s bill is a bit of a dream for fans for this style of music. You guys, Bad Touch, Aaron, as well, it works. And again, you’ve got that slightly different approach because you’ve got your vocalist on bass as well, not just having a single guy front and centre with a microphone so it’s a different band-look and feel anyway. Especially with the way you’re presenting the music, which again captures the attention, doesn’t it?
AH: And watching you bounce around on stage as well, at least I know what I’ve got to try and capture tonight. So that will be interesting. But what is coming next from you guys? Because of course, we have the single back in March, was it this year? Which was new material? There’s presumably another nine, ten, eleven, twelve, behind it.
Cal: Yes, we’ve been– I don’t know, can we say?
AH: You can drop hints if it’s a problem you know.
Cal: So we’ve been working with a new producer, Pedro Ferreira who did The Darkness’ Permission to Land, their breakthrough album. He has a studio in Sweden, which flew out to a month ago, and just to get a feel, not planning to do anything with what’s going to come out of it, but just to get a feel of working with this guy.
AH: Will it work?
Cal: Yes, so we went there, we did some pre-production on like four tracks, recorded two of them, and he’s mixing them now and doing working his magic because he has a lot of ideas as a producer. And once we get the tracks back, then so how is this feeling, how is this sounding, and I think the intention is to get some new material out early next year.
AH: So in 2019.
Cal: Yes. But we don’t know in which form yet.
Simon: We don’t know yet if we want to release like a few tracks one after the other, or an EP, or go for full album.
AH: Almost a collection of EPs throughout here. Quite a few people are doing that at the moment, aren’t they?
Simon: Yes, that’s why we not sure yet what’s the best strategy, what people would like to appreciate the most.
AH: I suppose EPs can leave people being hungry for the next one, the next one, the next one, and if you look at Skid Row did that not so long ago, didn’t they? So they had a four or so EPs over the space of three or four years. Then seem to click with the fans as well.
Cal: Also, I mean I always theorize that sometimes albums can be a bit–
Cal: Yes. Like, the concept of an album used to be, you were in your room and you got this new vinyl and you put it on and just listen to the album. That doesn’t really happen any more. People will listen to the three singles off your album. And so for us, making an EP, it lets us really focus on, like okay guys we’re going to record three, four tracks, and we’re just going to go at those tracks and really work them.
AH: And then we all listen, because there’s only three or four tracks, we’ll put twenty minutes in because that’s apparently all our attention span is.
Simon: There’s also Spotify, iTunes, and everything and it’s like maybe easier to reach more fans with that and then maybe release a few EPs and then put them all together to do an album that we can sell.
AH: Because at the end of the day, if you can put together say ten or twelve tracks to make an album, your vinyl junkies will still buy it. I would. Every band I go and see, if there’s a vinyl option, I’ll order it, and straight away I’m waiting for it to come through the post. The postman regularly stops at our front door with a brown cardboard box of something.
AH: No, it’s great. That whole thing, if you’re willing to invest in the time and energy but as you say, not everybody does.
Cal: I mean, it’s just theorizing at this point so what we’re doing is we’re recording some new tracks, we’re working with Pedro and at the moment we’re really happy with how it’s going. And we’re going to be releasing some new music early next year.
AH. Fantastic. That’s good and obviously, with the support slots that you’ve had of late, you’ve had a huge audience in front of you. This tour will have been a good one for you as well. What’s needed to give you guys that next, the step to the next level?
Cal: I think we’re really after a festival slot.
Simon: Yes, and supporters as well. This one has been really good because it gives us an opportunity to just go around the UK and build a fan-base outside of London.
AH: I was going to say, because obviously, I keep seeing you guys quite often in London and I didn’t know, has it been a lot more work outside of the city to build up that fan-base?
Cal: Yes, because here we’ve got all the mates obviously, and they bring their mates, and there’s kind of this connection we already have with the people because I know this guy. So– Yes. And so the gigs we’re playing in London, they’re always amazing because there is always such a crowd and they go mental. Going out on the road is more hard work because obviously, the guys don’t know you, they probably didn’t even know we were turning up, and you’ve got to convince them that we’re a good fucking rock band, listen to our music.
AH: And hope as well, I presume, that everybody turns up when the doors open as opposed to stay in the pub until 8 o’clock or later at night.
Simon: There has been a few cities where we went and because we need the headline tour earlier this year, it was a good experience but because we’re headlining outside or the UK, a lot of people didn’t know us so it was a good experience but there was not a huge turn up every night, but we met a few people and on this tour, we saw them coming back and they were really excited to see us again.
AH: Fantastic. And presumably, even when it is a smaller crowd it gives you almost the incentive to play to your very best capabilities to leave them with the memories so it was like you said with your friends, everybody spreads the word.
Cal: Yes and anyone who is going to like our music, is a person we want to do just that. So we’re always give a hundred and ten percent at every gig, if there’s five or if there’s three hundred people.
AH: No one would disagree, having seen you. I mean even odd venues like the Three Fiddles Guisborough. Such a random place to find a music venue, but even then when your stage is what, six inches off the ground it still comes across as a show.
Cal: But it’s also the eyes of people because we just love playing music. We wouldn’t say it’s a job, we’re here we just love doing this.
AH: And it’s just the best of both worlds then when you get everybody is there in the house, and when you have an idea presumably, it’s like guys we need to just capture this. And you can do it because you’re all there, it’s not like you’ve got to send an MP3 across to your lead singer in the States or something presumably.
Cal: Yes, it happened one day with the track ‘What Was’. We were jamming in our living room with Cedric and our neighbour hated us. It was an old flat. We were jamming and he started just like banging on the door, banging on the wall like crazy. We were like f**k. I had just figured out a cool riff, and he started banging on the door and I went like, “Cedric let’s take it downstairs,” so we went down to the kitchen where he doesn’t hear us and then we just spent the evening, let’s write a song, and we’re kind of buzzing because this guy annoyed us, and we’re just like, “Okay let’s work in the kitchen,” an hashed out a song in like an evening.
AH: Superb. Inspiration comes from the strangest of places.
Cal: Yes. [laughs]
AH: No, I like that, I like that. Fellas that will do me nicely, thanks very much for your time.