"This album is about change, the conflicting feelings around it, and the struggle of trying to be the best version of yourself."


By Aaron Jackson

Aug 20, 2021 15:19

The three years between the release of Croydon/Crawley three-piece Press To MECO’s second and third album has been a period packed with change and a host of challenges that no one person could have anticipated. The notion that the past 16 months have, for obvious reasons, felt like a lifetime is not exclusive to the music industry. That said, for drummer/vocalist Lewis Williams, “releasing a record always feels like a long time coming from (their) perspective”. He explains:

“We were writing these songs a year and a half ago and we recorded them around a year ago, so in some way it’s kind of like ‘about bloody time’. But it obviously feels good, especially as this is the first album where I listen back and there’s not loads that I want to change, I guess that means we’ve done a good job.”

Such is the climate right now, “about bloody time” is a sentiment no doubt echoed by all across the music industry. As proceedings are slowly regaining some vague semblance of the way things used to be, guitarist/vocalist Luke Caley speaks on how Press To MECO managed to navigate a global pandemic that rocked the world (in the bad sense):

“I mean I feel like every band / musician was affected in very much the same way. For us we’d just announced Jake joining and were about to fly out to Texas to record the new album then come straight back into a European tour. Literally three days before we were supposed to fly out, the borders shut. I feel extremely fortunate and proud that we managed to pull an album together during the pandemic. It’s been a weird 18 months for all of us. It’s made us really appreciate just being able to do what we enjoy – getting in a room together and playing music we’re passionate about and help forget about the stuff outside of that.”

Williams humbly labelling his third album as “a good job” is a massive understatement. Not only is ‘Transmute’ Press To MECO’s most ambitious record to date, but it seems to have fundamentally injected a new lease of life into the band. A huge reason for this turning of a corner was the introduction of bassist/vocalist Jake Crawford. Speaking on the ways that Crawford influenced the creative process of Press To MECO, Williams exclaims that “it’s been great!”:

“Especially having Jake step in towards the end of the writing process, it allowed us to really feed off of a fresh perspective on all the songs. He’s also given us the opportunity to add some extra spice where we haven’t been able to before, especially in the heavier side of the vocals. It’s really helped on the parts where we’re trying to show the most angst ridden side of PTM.”

Crawford elaborates further on indulging their “heavier side”:
“I think the heavier parts of the album could be perceived as angrier because we let ourselves go all in on those kinds of feelings. Before there would be twists and turns here and there but we found that sitting on a heavier, sometimes angrier, vibe for longer helps it connect with an audience more. Also the guys had definitely written certain sections with the intention of having my heavier pitched shouting vocals over them, which I was absolutely overjoyed about haha. It definitely helps communicate certain feelings and lyrics more succinctly than having them just sung traditionally.”

Despite exerting plenty of angst through ‘Transmute’, it’s vital to emphasise how this record conveys a fundamentally positive message. To transmute is to change a material into something different, usually a shift in form to something of higher quality and value. As the primary songwriter, Williams regularly returns to the process of turning lead into gold. For him, this overarching model of hope was of significant importance throughout the production of the record:

“I’m always on team Sapiens, and think we genuinely have the ability to figure out whatever problems we’re facing, as individuals and as a race. I like the idea of trying to enjoy what we have now, working towards the best future, and making the most of whatever situation we end up in. Ultimately, this album is about change, the conflicting feelings around it, and the struggle of trying to be the best version of yourself.”

Tracks like ‘Lead’ prove that Press To MECO are equally as comfortable with getting their message across to audiences in a more reserved, and quieter manner. Williams explains “I think we’ve always liked having a fairly broad scope and encouraging ourselves to explore a variety of vibes. On this album, I feel like we’ve gone to some of our lightest and most delicate places but also some of the heaviest, angsty and angry places too. The difference now is that we’ve allowed ourselves to sit in those areas for longer than ever before without trying to shake it up again. We’re just enjoying really committing to certain vibes and really trying to paint a picture.”

It’s this fluidity and flexibility in Press To MECO’s songwriting that makes their music simply irresistible to return to. Three-part harmonies, killer riffs and colossal choruses are all integral to the band’s dynamic, but their technical proficiency in their respective fields endows them with the ability to stand out from the crowd. Blending pop-sensibilities, the grandiosity of rock ‘n’ roll and the technicality of math-rock makes for one hell of a journey and, with ‘Transmute’, Press To MECO absolutely knock it out of the park.

In addition to providing countless hours of listening pleasure at home, these artists are more than capable of replicating their complex and varied “vibes” in front of a live audience. Currently preparing to embark on tour with their good mates Vukovi in October, Caley speaks on what touring means to Press To MECO:

“We’ve always been a band that loves touring, especially when you get to meet a bunch of great new and talented people. But, there’s nothing like hitting the road with people you can genuinely call close friends. It’s like a weird sweaty holiday trip, with lots of service stations and cheap ham sandwiches.”

On playing live, Crawford adds “I think finally getting out to play this new material will be unbelievably cathartic. It will have been well over a year since we finished the album and even longer since the band, let alone this line up, have played a show. I sincerely hope this material connects as much as I think it will to audiences in a live context.”

Having previously explained the aspects of creating ‘Transmute’ that were particularly testing for the band, Caley admits that “it’s hard to say” what the future will look like for Press To MECO:

“As jaded as we’ve become with the industry, we’re all probably the most charged up and optimistic we’ve ever been about going forwards. This feels like a new band and everything internally feels right now. I’m sure we’ll do at least one more record, I know the three of us are really excited to start the creative process again… let’s see if people like ‘TRANSMUTE’ first though haha!”

Based on form alone, “one more album” feels like a must. In ‘Transmute’, Press To MECO have broadened their already expansive dynamic and produced a record that improves on 2018’s impressive ‘Here’s To The Fatigue’. This is a band that are still managing to move from strength to strength in admittedly staggering times. That’s no mean feat and, despite all the tribulations that this band have faced, ‘Transmute’ defies the odds and ultimately stands proud as a success story.