INTERVIEW: Neck Deep [August 2013]

By Tom Aylott

It’s been a massive year for Wrexham’s Neck Deep. After two successful EPs, their signing to Hopeless Records has turned heads with plenty in the UK scene. Their bass player Fil Thorpe-Evans gives us the breakdown on what’s happened so far, and what the band have in store next.

Firstly – how’s everything with Neck Deep today?

Everything is great thank you! We are starting to get our first mixes back for our record so we are all super pumped at the minute just listening to them and getting so excited for our album.

For those who may just be hearing of Neck Deep, how did you get started and what did you want to achieve when you started the band?

Well a few of us were in a hardcore band called ‘Spires’ together which was touring here and there but wasn’t super serious I guess, and then Lloyd and Ben were writing some pop punk songs for fun as a side project and ended up recording them. They released a couple songs online, got an amazing response and it was kinda like “oh, so people actually like this?”. After releasing the first EP it wasn’t too much longer that we got offered our first run of shows. It was around then that we kinda reached the conclusion that people cared about this and we wanted to do it properly, but in all honesty in the beginning the band’s aspirations were pretty uninspiring as it was more just a fun side project that wasn’t really supposed to be anything all that serious. Obviously things have changed now, but it was one of those ironic things. We all spent years trying to succeed in bands and killing ourselves on crappy shows and tours and the second we stopped trying it all started falling into place [with Neck Deep]!

You’ve done amazingly well off of the back of your first two EPs. What do you think has been the catalyst for your success up until this point?

I feel like it was a combination of things like good timing and really positive word of mouth – also social networking sites like Facebook and Tumblr played a big part [for us]. Not so much on our end as we’ve never been one of those bands that spam like crazy and try and force our music on people, it just sort of happened. Posts and gifs were popping up on Tumblr and starting to really pick up a lot of attention. It was just a classic snowball affect.

Obviously the big news of the moment is that you’ve signed to Hopeless Records… Who are your favourite bands on the label, and were they a big part of wanting to join the Hopeless family?

All of the bands on that label are incredible, that’s why it’s so humbling to be a part of it. When you talk about labels usually they have your favourites on the list plus 50 bands you don’t really care about, but with Hopeless it’s such an all-star line-up. Their roster isn’t huge in size compared to some labels, yet every band they sign is such an inspiration, so we couldn’t be more honored to be a part of that family. If I had to comment from a personal point of view, my favourite bands on the label are: The Wonder Years, All Time Low, Yellowcard, and now Taking Back Sunday as well.

How did the relationship between you and Hopeless start up – do you think your recent trip to America helped make that happen?

The trip to America helped for sure as it was one of one of the things we spoke about during our first conversation with Hopeless. In all honesty I’m not exactly sure I can pin point when we first entered their radar, but I think the trip to America opened a lot of eyes to the potential of this band and how fast it’s growing. It opened our eyes as a band more than anything. We booked those tickets 2 days before the flight and just said “Yo, we are playing a show tommorow night in Florida”. There was no notice, no promotion – bar a facebook page that went up like 48 hours before the show – and still hundreds of kids showed up. We had this moment where we all looked at each other and were like “I think we underestimated this…”, so when we spoke to Hopelessm they said they had seen the footage and were so interested into why we thought it had been like that and what we had to done to achieve it. When we told them how the story went, they seemed pretty amazed. From there everything just happened naturally with them.

Bands sign to record labels to make records, and you have a full length on the way at some point. What do you think you’d like to do with a full length to capitalise on the attention that you’ve been getting so far, and are there any producers you’d really like to work with?

Well we’d already started our full length before the whole signing thing even came around really. I’m probably going to be talking in past tense to answer this question because the full length is like finished more or less. The final mixes are coming on a daily basis at the moment and then it’s just mastering and it’s finished. To be honest, we didn’t really have a massive message or some huge crystallising ambition to make a record that pushed the boundaries of a genre, we just wanted to write the best record we could and really find our sound.

The first EP’s happened so fast we didn’t even have time to decide if it was really us or not. But with the full length we have found out what Neck Deep really is and what our whole sound and purpose is. It’s a total cliché, but it’s true. One goal we had was to try and write a record that didn’t have any throw away tracks. All the best records ever are the ones where everyone says “it’s so good because every track is a banger” and in all honesty I don’t know how we did it, but [I think] we did. We just wrote the songs and then [asked ourselves] if there was anything we don’t like and it was kind of an obvious no. We are so proud of how it’s come together and hearing the mixes coming back has just reinforced that for us.

I feel like it’s such a huge step for us as a band and such a new vibe for us, but it’s not different in the sense that it’s not “us”. Again a total cliché, but it couldn’t be more true. In terms of producers we had a small list of who we really wanted to work with for mix and master and stuff, but for the actual production we tracked everything with our singer’s brother. That’s just how we recorded the EP’s as he totally gets us. He is a vital part of our process and we are just familiar with him and know that’s how we work best. I can’t say who is mixing and mastering right now but we are so happy with the direction we chose because the mixes sound amazing.

It’s pretty fair to say that there’s been a bit of talk in the UK about your relatively quick rise to the point you’re at right now. Is there anything you’d like to say to those people who haven’t really got on board with the band so far?

I guess all there is to say is, if you haven’t checked us out already give it a whirl and if you like it then awesome! We see a lot of the talk that happens as we are really active with our use of social networking, and seeing all the positive responses is amazing. Every band gets some negativity. If people don’t like our music we just feel that’s totally fair enough and everyone is entitled to their own opinion. The rate this band has taken off and what we have achieved in the time we have even shocks us still, so we can understand why it would confuse other people. All we can say is we do it because we love it, and we work our fingers to the bone to do what we do. We put blood sweat and tears into this band and usually the people who aren’t really on board with it are the people who possibly don’t understand how it works, maybe. But were just happy following this road we are on and we couldn’t be more excited to see where it leads.

Why should people pay attention to Neck Deep rather than any other pop punk band?”

That’s so tough because right now there are some of the best pop punk bands going there has ever been! We’re not one of those bands that doesn’t really follow the genre they are in or listen to it. This started because we are fans at the end of the day, and the bands we get to tour and play with are usually bands we have been into for years. As for a reason to check us out, I guess all I can say is check us out and decide for yourself. I don’t wanna convince or trick someone into listening to our music, just give [it] a go and make up your own mind. I think one of the reasons it has done so well is that we are the same age as a lot of our fans and we are singing about the same shit they go through everyday. We are no different from anyone that listens to us, except we are probably bigger dorks in real life.

See Neck Deep on tour with The Wonder Years in November

Try these three interviews

Interview: Greywind [Reading 2016]

Interview: Arcane Roots [Reading 2016]

Interview: Trash Boat [Reading 2016]