Million Dead


PETE: Ok, so tell us what you’re up to at the minute…
FRANK: At this exact moment in time we’re doing this tour with Sparta, it’s just 5 dates around the U.K, then basically the plan for the rest of the year is we’ve booked the whole of the month of October to finish writing our new record and them we’re going to record it before the end of the year, and hopefully put it out at the beginning of next year.

PETE: Are you going to be playing any of this new material on this tour or not?
FRANK: Yeah we are doing one new song. It’s a support tour so we don’t have ages; we’re just putting one in for the time being.

PETE: So would you still say you’re promoting the last album?
BEN: I’d say we are promoting ourselves on this tour, as opposed to promoting any particular record.
FRANK: To be honest, we got asked to do it, and we were quite flattered, it’s a cool thing to do, a nice little string of dates and its lots of fun being on tour.

PETE: How would you say Million Dead came on to the U.K music scene? In terms of your style of music, a lot of the bands say like Funeral for a Friend were really hyped up…
FRANK: I think the whole scene came out at the same time, Hundred Reasons, Lost Prophets, Hell is for Heroes, all those types of bands came out the same sort of time… I’ve always thought it was a bit more coincidental, I don’t we’ve ever really felt part of any particular scene. Maybe we’re completely up our own arses, but we’ve always thought of ourselves as standing outside all that kind of thing.
BEN: I think when we got our first big tour with Pitchshifter, and then we did our tour with Funeral, they were the first too big support tours we did. I think the reason we did them because we thought we were different to both bands. You wouldn’t say we sounded like Pitchshifter, and I don’t think we sound like Funeral, at all. Or for that matter Hundred Reasons, Hell is for Heroes or anything like that. Not to knock any of those bands.
FRANK: I think another thing we are quite keen to stress is that the concept of a scene implies that the sound you make and the music make and the songs you write is being influenced by current surroundings. Obviously we are influenced but I think we write the songs we write anyway, I don’t think it’s important to us whether or not Funeral for a Friend are popular. We’d be making the records we make anyway. We’ve had the success that we’ve had as a band, undeniably is down to the fact that British rock has been popular at the time we’ve been doing what we do.

PETE: What sort of music would you say you are influenced by?
BEN: Everything at the moment. We’re all listening far too much to In Utero by Nirvana. Reinventing the classics.
FRANK: Anything really. Rock music that tries to be interesting and challenging.
TOM: we’ve been listening to the new Converge album in the van today. That’s as big influence on us as anything. I mean I haven’t even heard of Funeral for a Friend. So I don’t know what they really sound like. I know they sound like Iron Maiden rip-off riffs. It’s not something we’re going to try and do.

PETE: What do you think of the British music scene at the minute?
FRANK: It’s all right at the moment. There are a lot of bands around, but there always has been a lot of bands around. It really comes down to the way labels work. A lot of people got signed a couple of years ago. Obviously Funeral are still riding that, Hundred Reasons got dropped; Hell is for Heroes got dropped, bands that got onto majors.
BEN: Because of the fact major labels picked up on it, a lot more people are listening to this kind of rock music, and at the same time indie music’s doing really well.
Frank: I think what’s nice is that at the minute there’s a lot of bands coming through who have seen how Hundred Reasons and Hell is for Heroes got burned, and they are doing their own thing. Bands like Biffy Clyro. They’re doing really fucking good on an independent and have built up a massive following, without ever been involved with a major label. There are a lot of cool bands, like Jet plane Landing is another band that I’m personally a big fan of. They tour their arses off. Crazy fuckers. I think it’s quite cool at the moment. There are quite a lot of bands doing well without needing help from the “corporate man.”

PETE: How easy do you think it is for bands to break through onto the scene at the moment?
BEN: It depends what you mean by break through. If you’re a band and you play music that’s good enough, and you play to enough people, people will like it and you will get a name for yourself playing around. In terms of breaking through and making money out of it, anyone who thinks they are going to make money out of being in a band is a fucking idiot, and is also doing it for the wrong reasons.

PETE: Do you think whilst there’s a lot of bands around, there is a chance of the whole thing getting saturated?
FRANK: Saturation always implies to me that most of the bands you’re talking about are shit anyway. I don’t think you can be saturated by good bands. Saturation occurs when you’ve got a bunch of good bands and loads and loads of crap bands and in that case who gives a fuck? I don’t think there’s any chance of saturation.
BEN: Going back to how difficult it is to break out, a band like Drive Like You Stole It, who are really good, aren’t breaking through like they want, because they don’t sound enough like the kids they want them too. Image is a big thing. A band like us, a lot of people used to say we sounded like Hundred Reasons, which I don’t think we ever have done, and that really came down to Frank’s hair cut, which at the time looked like Colin’s, and people who had never heard of us were saying we sounded like Hundred Reasons. It just doesn’t work like that. At the same time, a lot of these kids criticise bands because they sound too much like the ones they like, and won’t listen to other bands because they don’t sound enough like the bands they like.

PETE: So how easy did you think it was to get yourselves signed?
FRANK: The way it started for us was, you start off going down the same roads, ringing the same people, get the same gigs…. all around the country. Pitchshifter helped us out getting on that first tour, got a lot more people interested, In terms of getting signed, our first album was on Integrity, and this guy Charlie, from Xtra Mile wanted to put out a single of ours, with Integrity, and once we did that they wanted to do an album as well. It’s just a small label run by 2 guys. Being in a band is always going to be hard work, especially if you want to play music that isn’t total fodder. If you’re someone who doesn’t like hard work, don’t join a band.

PETE: In terms of the last album, did that push Million Dead as far as you wanted?
BEN: It could have done a lot more. Because of the fact we didn’t make any money. Basically with our practice schedule, especially living in London where it’s expensive and because we’ve all got jobs and stuff, we practice for 4 hours a week, once night week so for 2 years, that’s how we wrote that first album, I’m proud of everything we release, but we could have done a lot better. It took us 10 days to record it, and if we could have done those 10 days, and then recorded it again, it would have been a much better album. It’s a product of its time, we’re not a cunt like George Lucas going back and changing the original Star Wars film.
FRANK: There’s bit and pieces I’d change about the album, but what’s the point? That was that. That was then. The next record we do, on the day we finish recording it, it will be the absolute pinnacle of what we’ve done, if we’ve done it right.
BEN: Since the first album we’ve come along way. You know listening to it there’s something’s that are slightly cringing. On this album there’s a lot of stuff I want to do writing wise on the drums, that I just can’t do, I’m not good enough. I’m still going to be frustrated I can’t pull it out; maybe we’ll do that on the third album. I think as a band we all want to do stuff and you just keep getting better the more you play. Try do the best you can.

PETE: How much of the new material is written?
FRANK: We’ve essentially finished 3 or 4 songs, but we’ve got this whole month in October when it starts on the 7th, and we’ve got this studio booked all day everyday.
BEN: We write pretty fast, baring in mind we usually have 4 hours a week, now we have 12 hours a day for a month. We’ll probably end up killing each other.

PETE: And is this new material different or is it a continuation?
FRANK: It’s different. Part of the reason its different is because Cameron our original guitarist quit, Tom’s with us now, and we write collectively as a band, so obviously Tom does his own thing. It will be Million Dead but it’ll be different.
BEN: It was getting different anyway.
FRANK: I suspect that a lot of people, you know what its going to be like, all the kids are going to crawl out of the woodwork and say, “I prefer the first album,” just because they’re waiting to be able to say that, and they will probably say, “I prefer Cameron’s guitar playing,” it’s fucking bull shit though. We were writing songs with our old guitarist before he quit which were way different from our last record. It would be totally tedious to repeat what you’ve done before. I wouldn’t fucking bother. What’s the point? It’s boring. So yeah, it will be different. There will be the same continuity between the same four people…
BEN: Well it’s not the same…
FRANK: The same people with the same ideas.
BEN: I just think the main difference will be it will be lots better. I can play better, he (Frank) can sing better, Jules can play better, we work together better, and I think the main difference is we are taking a month away, its really going to be a product of us all there at one time, as opposed to what happens generally at practice, and by the end of the practice you get a song done, and your writing it, and you’ve got to come up with a part for the next bit, and you cant do it a week later, by that point the inspirations gone. You forgot what’s going on. So I think the very fact we’re writing the album in a completely different way to what we did before will make a change.

PETE: Where do you want the new album to take you?
FRANK: Musically or success wise?
PETE: Both…
BEN: Australia.
FRANK: I think I just want this album to be the best thing all of us can produce, and I’m confident that we’ll do that, cos we’re pouring everything into it. Success wise, it would be nice to make a living out of what we do, I think that’s what our dream is. If we can afford to go on tour, and not make sure we have to be back in order to pay rent.
BEN: It makes life very stressful if you’re trying to juggle playing in a band, and if we could just remove that stress, we’d all be better adjusted human beings.

PETE: Someone on the punktastic boards, when we asked if anyone had any questions, wanted to know what happened with the organisers of Reading festival, and will you ever play Reading festival again…?
BEN: (laughs) As far as we know, the story we heard, the man who organises Reading Festival is a big Smiths fan, and he walked in when we were supporting Thursday at the Astoria in the middle of our Smiths cover, and he hated it that much he didn’t put us on Reading.

PETE: Where do you see yourselves in a year’s time?
BEN: probably here.
FRANK: What I would like to say is in a year’s time we’ve played in a lot more countries, and produced a new record that lives up to our expectations, and hopefully people agree with that. The important thing is I have absolutely no time for satisfying fan bases as a band, you have to play to the best of our ability, and not give a shit about what everyone thinks about what we do. But if they like it that’s cool.

Try these three interviews

Interview: Greywind [Reading 2016]

Interview: Arcane Roots [Reading 2016]

Interview: Trash Boat [Reading 2016]