INTERVIEW: Bleed From Within

An interview with guitarist Steven Jones

INTERVIEW: Bleed From Within

By Dave Stewart

Jun 18, 2020 19:00

Glasgow’s Bleed From Within have been on a seemingly unstoppable upward trend in the last few years, continuously pushing their own bar up a few notches with every single performance and record release. Their 2018 album ‘Era’ was met with positive reviews across the board, and their commitment to touring the record earned them mass praise and respect from both fans and peers alike.

Their brand new record ‘Fracture’ is getting the same kind of reaction, widely regarded as some of their best work to date. “It’s been a mixture of emotions, mainly relief for me,” described guitarist Steven Jones. “Seeing all of the positive reviews and feedback rolling in – I’m excited that everyone is loving the new album.”

The record marks a few milestones for the band, most notably being the first album of their career that has the same band line-up as the one that preceded it. Steven played a big part in that, becoming the newest member of the band in 2017 and completing Bleed From Within’s formula. “We’ve certainly found a comfortable place as a band where we know what works, what doesn’t, how to write as a group,” Jones described. “Having written so much of this album whilst on tour over the last two years, we’ve added more to our arsenal with this record. Particularly in that these songs are going to translate to the stage like none of our songs have before.”

That translation is rooted in the story behind the record. ‘Fracture’ is largely based around the band’s turbulent history, but not looking back on it negatively. Instead they take their past as a lesson and use this album as a means of putting it behind them and staying focused on moving forwards.

“‘Era’ was a very different dynamic, as it was written during a time when the band was enduring an extended period of stagnation. There was an air of uncertainty in our position, as a band, and as people,” detailed Jones. “This time round, with ‘Fracture’ – we’ve never been more sure of ourselves as a band or as people. This album came together in a much shorter time, it felt these songs came together more naturally during the writing process. In the years since Era we have refined our skills as songwriters, trimming the fat, improving arrangement skills and just generally being better musicians.

“These songs came from a place where we were enjoying writing and performing music,” continued Jones. “Being a touring band and living life how we want to. Bleed From Within has essentially been a touring machine for the last 24 months and it’s the best place we’ve ever been in as musicians. That satisfaction certainly rubs off when it comes time to write a new album. I think these songs are going to translate to the live environment like nothing we’ve released before, and I can’t wait to get back on stage with these new songs in our setlist.”

The attention to detail on ‘Fracture’ is phenomenal, all meticulously crafted to enforce the brutal honesty within the lyrics. Authenticity plays a key part in the record, and it’s something the band were very focused on championing during the writing process. “It’s impossible to fake a feeling or emotion with any sort of sincerity, and when something is faked, you can smell it a mile off,” Jones states. “I think bands can be guilty of this if I’m honest, forcibly evoking emotions without them coming from a genuine place, and it’s obvious. People aren’t stupid. And the people who are supporting our band and listening to our band deserve something genuine.”

“It can be hard to write with complete honesty – some of the things we talk about in the album are tough subjects but we gave ourselves that challenge, and I don’t think any of us could be more proud of the final result,” he elaborated. “There’s no more hiding behind smoke and mirrors with us. We’ve laid it out plainly on ‘Fracture’, no ifs and no buts. I think that translates in not only the lyrical content, but the atmosphere created in each song.”

Speaking on some of those songs, Jones detailed which of the new tracks meant the most to him and why. His reasoning shines a lot on the authenticity that he mentioned, and you can certainly hear it bursting from every song.

“‘The End Of All We Know’ marked a massive change in trajectory for our band, that I’ll always be grateful for, so that song holds a very special place in my heart,” he illustrated. “‘Fracture’ is a song that I love, and the lyrics resonate with me in particular and are very personal to an experience and lingering feeling I’ve had with me through basically every hour of my life over the last 7 or 8 months. Writing and recording that song was a massive outlet for me and I’m grateful to have had that experience. It’s very cathartic, and every time I listen to that song I’m reminded of the importance of letting go, and how lucky I am to have this outlet.”

“‘A Depth That No One Dares’ is straight up my favourite Bleed From Within song we have ever written,” he added. “Not only instrumentally but the lyrics strike a particular chord within me that really tugs on the ol’ heart strings. With the atmosphere created in that song with the epic distant guitar lead, the groovy feel and the sing-along chorus, it just ticks every box for me and I consistently get shivers every time that second chorus rolls up.”

One of the songs boasting that shiver-inducing atmosphere is ‘Night Crossing’, featuring a stunning guest solo from legendary Trivium front man Matt Heafy. His involvement in the record came about organically, which the band were beyond happy about.

“Matt had started posting about the band on social media early last year, showing his support for ‘Era’,” Jones recalls. “Whilst we were both on separate European tours in the summer last year, Matt invited us to a show of theirs in Luxembourg on a day we had off, so we went and hung out, met the rest of the band and had some beers together. From then, we kept in touch on socials and once ‘Night Crossing’ was written, and we knew there was that extended guitar solo section toward the end of the track, we hit up Matt to see if he’d be down to solo on the song.

“Of course, he was, ended up live streaming the entire tracking process of the solo to Twitch, and sent us files just a week or two after we got it to him. It’s really cool to see someone you’ve looked up to in the scene for so many years, not only take notice of your band, but be excited about getting involved in your new material. We’re really happy with what Matt did with the section, and even happier just to have him involved.”

Matt’s Twitch stream footage ended up getting used in the official video for ‘Night Crossing’, an idea that came about due to the unprecedented circumstances surrounding the Covid-19 pandemic. For something home-made, the thought and choreography involved is impressive, and took a little bit of planning and tweaking. “When we first came up with the idea everyone loved it but we weren’t sure how well it would work,” revealed Jones. “Thanks to a cue sheet created by Goonzi (Craig Gowans, guitarist), some luck, and great editing skills, we pulled it off! I’m sure it was far more difficult for Goonzi who directed and edited the video, for me it was just a laugh and I had fun with it!”

On the subject of working with people they look up to, the band have never been shy to speak about their love for Lamb Of God. Last year they had the opportunity to share the stage with them in Germany, and the experience was something they’ll never forget.

“It was definitely surreal and I don’t think it really ever set in for us just how much of a big deal it was,” remembers Jones. “Randy [Blythe] was straight into our dressing room in the first hour of the first day to say hi to all of us, and I think that pretty much knocked down any previous misconceptions we may have had about these guys we’ve basically looked up to as musicians all of our lives. They couldn’t have been more welcoming or treated us better, and I love that moment of realisation when you learn that – we’re all just people.”

Bleed From Within were the only support act for the shows, which made it even more memorable. “The shows were incredible, and it was crazy opening the shows and to have the crowd responding to us like it was a headline show for us. It was very special time and a massive milestone in our career that we’ll always be grateful for.”

As proud flag-bearers for Scottish metal, Bleed From Within have their ears to the ground in regards to up and comers from their hometown and the surrounding areas. Jones had a couple of recommendations for us, including another band of his own.

“I would recommend checking out a band called Crow Moon if you’re into progressive stuff. There are some heavier gems in From Tyranny and Godeater, and the band which Bleed From Within stole me from (jokes) called From Sorrow To Serenity. I still play in that band so kinda a shameless self plug. I regret nothing.”

As mentioned earlier, a large part of the ‘Era’ album cycle was spent on the road, relentlessly pushing their music to more places for what was essentially two years straight. Things are a little different right now, but the hunger to go out and perform remains and they can’t wait to get back out on the road and for things to return to a degree of normality.

“Having a pint with the guys is something I never thought I’d be so excited for,” he exclaimed. “I’m excited to meet my friends again and just be around the people I love after this. I miss my work too, I’m a music producer and mixing engineer on the side and I miss the dynamic of being in the studio with a client I’m excited about, working on good music that I love and just being in that environment!”

Meanwhile, while life slowly returns to the way it was, the band are doing what they can to occupy both fans time and their own. “This is the longest gap we’ve went since ‘Era’ was released without a single show, and it hurts. I can feel my bones ache as they beg me to jump around that stage like a lunatic again. We’re doing our utmost to fill the time with interesting content for fans online, and doing our best to just engage generally online – especially with all this downtime on our hands. There are no shows to play, so we’re getting the practice in at home, and some of us are even live streaming weekly to keep up engagement with fans and listeners.”

’Fracture’ is available everywhere now. Keep your eyes and ears peeled for announcements surrounding the inevitable live return – you can’t keep them down forever. Hopefully we won’t have to wait too long before we can see them take to the stage again and share their powerfully cathartic new record with us in person. For now, regular listens of the record in all its metallic glory will do.