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Rock3 02-08-2008 04:51 PM

Slaves To Gravity

In between the chaos of load in and sound check I grabbed Tommy and Jason for a quick chat in the downstairs bar before they took to the stage at the Bar Academy in Birmingham where they were supporting Brigade on their Summer tour.

Rock3: 2008 has been all about touring for you this year. What’s been the most enjoyable part of the tour experience?

Jason Getting to play our music every night and getting to hang out every day and just have a laugh. It’s been awesome.
Tommy Seeing our fanbase growing has been really amazing as well. We’ve just come back from supporting the Goo Goo Dolls, and to have people coming back to see us after those kinds of big shows is great. It’s been fantastic to see the progress we’ve made. Playing the toilet circuit is brilliant, we’ve loved it all, but it’s good to be able to jump ahead of the queue a little bit and steal fans from the bigger shows as well. The thing is you never know how you’re going to go down with someone else’s audience, so it’s always a bit of a gamble and we’ve been really pleasantly surprised so far by the response we’ve had.

Rock3: Playing this year’s Download Festival must have been an immense experience for you. How was it?

Tommy It was great, but very stressful. It was a long day with a lot of talking to the press and generally very chaotic. I personally found it really hard to enjoy until afterwards when we were all chilling out with a beer.

Rock3: Would you say you preferred playing the big festival stages or the smaller more intimate gigs?

Tommy Personally I think we’re a better band on a bigger stage.

Jason Yes. Definitely.

Tommy On a big stage, we know we can cut loose a bit more and really put on a show. I think the music carries well in bigger rooms and on the bigger stage. But it’s great to get up close and personal with people as well. Just being able to play is good.

Rock3: And you’ve got the Bulldog Bash coming up later on this summer. You must be really looking forward to that one?

Jason Hell yeh! We’re really looking forward to playing that one. It should be great.

Rock3: There’ll be a lot of bikers in the crowd…Are you scared?

Tommy Yep, they’ll be nicking all our merch. (laughs)

Rock3: You’ll have to make sure it’s well guarded then!

Tommy Absolutely! (laughter). No seriously, we’ve done the Bulldog a few times before with a band that three of us were in prior to this so we sort of know the ropes a bit there now. It should be a good day. It’s a great festival to play. We’re on just before Aynt Skynyrd so we’ll have to drop our cover of Freebird. (laughs)

Jason Ah ****!

Rock3: Working with Chris Sheldon on your first album is pretty impressive. What was he like to work with?

Tommy We produced and recorded the album ourselves and Chris mixed the album for us. We had toyed with the idea of bringing him on board as a producer but at the same time we were conscious that we were still trying to figure out who we were as a band and at the time we hadn’t really done that. In essence, we wanted to make sure it was our work and our identity and not the work of a producer who’d come in and put his stamp on it too heavily, which a lot of producers have a tendency to do. Chris definitely isn’t one of those people. He’s the type of producer that likes to get the best out of the bands he works with rather than trying to turn the recording into something its not. Working with Chris on the mix was great. He’s a lovely guy. He’s really on it. He’s got fantastic ears and brought some very interesting dynamics to the mix but still kept it quite raw. The idea of the production was to keep it sounding as live and raw as possible. We added some layers to it but we really wanted it to sound the same way it does to us when we’re rehearsing. He kind of kept hold of that when he mixed it so it was great.

Rock3: Have there been any embarrassing moments on tour?

Tommy God. Every day there’s something. (the whole band laughs). Really, you do sort of stop noticing after a while.

Rock3: It sounds like you’ve got quite a few. Are there too many to think of?

Tommy Oh yeh! You know things like getting locked in the toilet right as our intro’s coming on. Really stupid stuff. Typical Spinal Tap moments that happen every day. The thing is at the end of one day, you just tend to forget about it and think of tomorrow as a new day. All the gigs blur into one after a while. I find it really hard to remember anything.

Rock3: What would you say have been the big highlights of 2008 for Slaves to Gravity?

Tommy It’s been good to finally get the album out. We were sitting on that for the best part of 6 months before it was released so it was a relief to actually get it out there and start building the fanbase and touring more and everything. Download was great and getting this nomination for the Kerrang Awards has been a really cool thing for us. It’s been a real confidence boost for us as a band. I mean none of us started the band to win awards or even sell records, which is just as well with the way things are going with downloads at the moment. What’s really flattering is when you’re acknowledged by the country’s and the world’s biggest selling rock magazines and to be able to play to the crowds we’ve played to has been amazing.

Rock3: So what’s next for the band in 2009?

Jason Probably more touring. Maybe not here but in other parts of the world. We still feel that there are a lot of people out there that need to hear us. So we’re going to tour this album as much as possible really and spread the word on Scatter the Crow as much as we can.

Tommy I guess in the back of our minds we’re thinking a little bit about writing some new songs as well. But that’s an ongoing process. We all write at home anyway and then all get together and pool our ideas and pull them apart. When we’re out on the road more, we’ll be able to take portable studios with us and work on some new stuff.

Rock3: So you’ll be using your time constructively on the tour bus then?

Tommy The TOUR BUS!!!

Jason It’s more like a van!

Tommy It is a van!

Rock3: It’s not a big luxurious tour bus then?

Tommy Not at all. We just rent a van from a place round the corner from where some of us live. It’s served us well and it gets us around Glasgow, London, and wherever we’re playing. We’ve had no problems with it yet so far, touchwood.

With sound check coming to an end upstairs, and time swiftly ticking on, I thank the boys for their time and leave them to head back up to the main room to get ready for their stage performance. Slaves to Gravity are supporting Brigade on tour this summer and you can catch them at a city near you.

Interview by Mel Jones

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