Loathe – “It took everything from us, but it gave us everything back in more ways than one”

An interview with Kadeem France and Erik Bickerstaffe

Loathe – “It took everything from us, but it gave us everything back in more ways than one”

By Dave Stewart

Mar 9, 2020 11:00

The UK is currently undergoing a heavy metal revival, and Loathe are at the very front of the new wave of bands that are storming through the gates. They’ve earned themselves a reputation as one of the hardest working bands in the genre, boasting a critically acclaimed back catalogue and one of the most unique and ferocious live shows around today.

Right now, they have an enormous amount of acclaim and praise orbiting them, and the strength of their new record ‘I Let It In And It Took Everything’ is only pulling it all closer. Backstage at Omeara in London before their sold out London show, we sat down with front man and lead vocalist Kadeem France and guitarist and vocalist Erik Bickerstaffe to talk about their influences, touring, the past, the future and the new record, which they put a lot more of themselves into than you might think.

“From the first day of starting to record things to the day that we submitted the album, it was 451 days,” explained Bickerstaffe. “That’s just the recording and mixing, everything before that was writing and stuff still so it’s even longer than that. Now it’s out, it’s like being born again.”

“It feels surreal,” continued  France. “To be sitting on music for so long and to have so many different expectations of what people are gonna think of it, and then to now actually have it out and to have peoples feedback – it feels like a dream.”

“And it’s mostly positive too,” added Erik, “which is just the best. Seeing that the collective that we’ve kind of assembled of people that listen to our music – it’s starting to feel like a community of people who really do like just sharing music.”

That collective is something that Loathe hold very closely to them. What started out as a cult-like following has slowly grown over the years into what it is now, earning themselves a loyal following of fans that don’t just like heavy music, but art as a whole.

“If it’s heavy or if it’s lighter, it doesn’t matter – as long as it’s good to them, they like it,” Erik explained. “They’re really into the fact that we’re doing what we want and it’s not just necessarily a heavy album. People are so open minded and they appreciate that we’re doing things differently to most bands.”

“We’re very lucky to have such open minded fans of our music,” grinned France. “In this age especially with the internet, comment sections can get wild but for us it’s been nothing but positivity. I can’t thank everyone enough for it. There was actually one comment that was like ‘Hey, this must be your family and friends that are commenting’.”

“The comments sections all feel like beds of flowers,” Bickerstaffe chuckled. “Genuinely, you go on our videos and it’s just like ‘How is everyone being nice?’”

A big factor as to why everyone is being so nice is down to the balance of the record. The light and dark elements waltz together throughout the record, dramatically clashing with each other in all the right moments. On the outside, it sounds as though it was all meticulously orchestrated to be that way, but the reality is actually quite different.

“We honestly didn’t think about it,” Bickerstaffe said calmly. “We started the process in our heads like, ‘We gotta do things this way to make sure it happens this way’. I think we had a little breakdown in the process and then we got back on our feet and just thought, ‘Fuck it, let’s just do exactly what we want and stop caring about what people may think about it’ which is the way it should be. I really didn’t think we’d ever get to the point where we’d describe our music as beautiful, but at times we have beautiful moments.”

“It’s the first time we’ve experienced it, but I can imagine that it can be so easy to get locked into that mindset of ‘I can’t do this because people are going to expect this’,” continued France. “It got to a point where, as Erik said, we just had to do what was true to us. It wasn’t until the end that we were like ‘we’ve got a lot of singing on this album’.”

“I think what helps with it being perceived as a good balance is the flow of the record,” describes Bickerstaffe. “Making sure that it’s not just a bunch of light songs next to a bunch of heavy songs, making sure there’s a good flow between it all. I like to see it as scenes of a film where the transitions make sense. When it’s abrasive, it makes sense for it to be abrasive. When it’s flowing and smooth, it warrants for that.”

When they create their music, be it on the light or the dark side, they leave everything open to interpretation so that their audience can connect with the music in their own way. The band all connect and resonate with their work too, and have a very specific and important connection to the title of the record itself.

“For me personally, and perhaps for everyone else in the band it’s to do with the process,” detailed France. “The whole process of the album, we sacrificed a lot. It felt like a deep sleep.”

“It’s kind of like our mindset that we had during the creative process,” Bickerstaffe added. “We let that idea in to our family I guess, and we tried to do as much as we could with that.”

“We had to reassess everything,” he elaborated. “We rebuilt ourselves as a group, we reassessed the music and what we were doing – it overwhelmed us. We had to live up to the expectations of, at that point, thousands of people that were looking for the next album. People want better and you’ve got to do better.”

“We shut ourselves off from the rest of the world for a long long time,” recalled France. “It’s amazing being creative and being in the moment with your brothers just creating and stuff but at the same time there’s both sides of it, like not seeing family. When you’re putting so much energy into one thing, it has its effect on your life. I don’t want that to sound like a negative thing because I feel like life is a dream right now. We’re reaping the benefits of that, y’know?”

“Whatever scars we had have healed now and we’re back on form,” Bickerstaffe agreed. “We wouldn’t be where we are without that process. It took everything from us but it gave us everything back in more ways than one.”

The album has certainly elevated their status in the metal world, pushing their music into places that it hadn’t been before. One of those places was directly in front of the eyes of legendary Deftones front man Chino Moreno, who shared their single ‘Two Way Mirror’ on his Twitter account. Deftones are one of the bands biggest influences, so seeing this all unfold was naturally a huge moment for them.

“When he tweeted it I was literally bouncing up and down,” Bickerstaffe exclaimed. “It’s actually hard for us to speak about it because we hate bragging, but you can’t say anything about it without it sounding like a brag. Chino tweeted our tune, and then on top of that, he tweeted it two days after it was released. It reached him, he liked it and he shared it in that amount of time. What is going on?”

“It still doesn’t really feel real now,” continued France excitedly. “I was screaming the house down. My mum came running into the living room like, ‘Whats up?’ and I’m like, ‘Chino just shared Two Way Mirror’. She said ‘Aww that’s nice love’. She did not understand that it was like a landmark in my life.”

As their career progresses they’re finding themselves reaching more and more of those landmarks as they continue to ascend to the top of the pack. One landmark that they’ve yet to reach though is in regards to their visuals, where they’ve expressed an interest in delving into the cinematic world with short films and more indulgent works.

“We’ve not fully realised the vision or the idea but it will happen,” divulged Bickerstaffe. “Even scores for films we really want to get into like as a unit, as a band. I think it’d be sick. The interludes and the movements that we have on the record could be easily transferred to a film. It’s something that we definitely want to get into.”

Their desire to take steps into that world ties into their live shows, the atmosphere and visuals that aid their performances being directly influenced by films. “There’s been one film from the very beginning which is Sinister – that’s one of the base foundations for us,” Bickerstaffe elaborated. “That and Silent Hill, as an overall base layer of where we came from.”

“We’ll always maintain that sombre, dark atmosphere. For this record there was a big influx of inspiration from David Lynch more so than usual, that Lynchian vibe that he carries – I really wanted to make sure that we had that. Whatever really strikes a chord with us in that time is what we’re going to try and pay homage to and do our own version of it. Twin Peaks, Eraserhead, all that sort of stuff was a big vibe on this one.”

Other than the visual influences, there are obvious musical ones that shine through their genetic make up. Both France and Bickerstaffe reminisced on the music that first made them want to create their own heavy music rather than simply enjoy and absorb it.

“For me it was Slipknot self-titled or, honestly, Bullet For My Valentine’s ‘Scream Aim Fire’. That was like my introduction to the core world,” stated France. “One of the first big concerts that I ever went to was Bullet For My Valentine, Atreyu and Bring Me The Horizon, and I remember going to that show and just thinking ‘I need to do this, I need to be in a band’.”

“I would say Slipknot’s self titled too,” Bickerstaffe concurred. “I used to play Spiderman on the playground, I always loved to pretend. I saw that band and was like, ‘They are not the people that they are when they’re on stage’, and it’s such a different release. They get to basically play pretend and also play music, heavy music, and that inspired me to do the same.”

The wave of heavy bands that they’re leading into the fray are quite possibly influenced by the same things, and there are a fair few that they think you need to be paying attention to. “MTXS, God Complex, Lotus Eater, Static Dress, Wargasm, Modern Error,” listed Bickerstaffe. “There’s a brand new band from Liverpool called False Hope too who I wanted to give a shout out.”

“Nova Twins are doing a lot too, big up to them as well,” France added.

“Yeah, all their effects on their bass are so sick, great band,” resumed Bickerstaffe. “But yeah, those bands really. God Complex especially have been like family to us for years, it’s amazing to have finally toured with them. Hopefully we’ll do a world tour someday!”

Their touring schedule has already taken them to some incredible places, but they have their cross hairs firmly fixed on making their way to even more. “I’d absolutely love to play Australia,” declared France. “I feel like the scene over there, from watching YouTube and stuff, just seems so out there and like a hub for heavy music.”

“I’d love to play Japan again, obviously,” he continued. “Thailand would be mad too. The whole world really. Asia. India. I remember watching a Meshuggah video from India. Parkway Drive did one as well where they play a stadium and it’s mad because not a lot of bands go through there.”

“I really want to play Australia too,” Bickerstaffe commented. “I wanna play the US again. Japan and China were both sick. Realistically it’s anywhere that people want us. We’d love to go anywhere that that the calling is happening. So if you like Loathe, speak up and speak out about it, because the more people that do the more chance we’ll be able to play for you.”

With an appearance at the renowned Download Festival set in stone kicking off a summer of festivals and European appearances, Loathe are primed to make their already successful 2020 an even bigger triumph. If you’re a fan of heavy music, or maybe you’re just a fan of music in general, now is the perfect time to introduce them to your library. Let them in, let them take everything, and then join them as they take over the world.

DAVE STEWART