EMP, Music, Special

Shinedown X EMP interview!

With just under two weeks to go until Shinedown‘s seventh album ‘Planet Zero‘ drops, here at EMP we were lucky enough to get a chance to speak with the legendary Brent Smith to discuss the upcoming album, his top 3 favourite movies and whether or not he’d prefer to be part of an Alien invasion or a Zombie apocalypse!

Elena from EMP got the chance to sit with Brent and discuss the band’s experiences recording the new album, his love for the Muppets and his reasons for wanting to be a Jedi rather than a Sith! We even got an EMP exclusive announcement from the Shinedown front-man, here’s what he had to say:

We asked Brent Smith to tell us a bit about the concept behind the new record:

‘It’s definitely ferocious.

‘Once again we self-produced this album, like ‘Attention, Attention’ our bass player (Eric Bass) engineered, mixed, produced that whole album, as well as Planet Zero.’ Brent described the new record as ‘More fierce and upfront’ stating ‘The guitars are very big and present, there’s a lot of impact.’

‘We listen to the fan-base, we’re still Shinedown as we never put ourselves in a box and our audience allows us to be ourselves! Our past records have been situational, because they’re about events that have happened over time. Planet Zero is in real time, because of what everyone has gone through, what we all went through together over the past few years. This record talks more about What’s real? What’s not? And what the future will bring for society and humankind!’

Brent Smith shared his favourite memory from recording the album:

Brent talked about the coolest day for the band while recording a track off the album, ‘Hope’. ‘We were not having a great time getting drum tones, Eric suggested we changed the environment and took the drums outside.. We built a studio in 18 months during pandemic, so he said ‘let’s record the drums outside’ We had been in a bit of a rut and it changed the whole environment, it wasn’t traditional but he was like, ‘Why not’… that was a cool moment.’

The Shinedown frontman also told us which song’s he’s most looking forward to playing live:

Smith stating straight off ‘I’ve got to be rehearsed, it’s not for the faint of heart. It was interesting when we rehearsed Planet Zero the song for the first time, it’s always good when you’re nervous because it lets you know you’re alive. As soon as we ‘out of the gate’ played it, it felt like we had had it in the set for years but I’m most looking forward to a track called ‘Daylight’, also the opening track ‘No sleep tonight’, ‘Hope’ is another that has a massive crescendo, it’s another level of musicianship. The big question in the studio is always ‘Can we do it live’… So we’re gunna find out.’

Planet Zero fan-reaction: 

Brent told us the single received a ‘Resounding ‘Thank god’.‘ ‘We’re very eclectic but we’re also rock and roll to the bone and our audience allows us to be ourselves. We’ve always said ‘Shinedown has one boss, and it just happens to be everyone in the audience.’  So we asked them! ‘We want you to hit us hard’ They wanted to be uplifted, they want to feel confident, so we wanted to light them up due to all we’ve been through the last few years. (The single) is melodic, the riff was laboured over… It was written by Eric, he really wanted to make sure he refined it, he had a lot of different variations of it before settling on what was right, and we focussed on ‘less is more’, a bit of sophistication. It’s an extension of how you feel, that riff is very primal. We studied it very hard and we take what we do very seriously because we want to make our audience happy.’

We went on to ask Brent about the upcoming UK festival dates:

‘We’re setting up headline tour in UK and Europe in Nov/Dec, so we’re currently focussing on that and getting it carved out, so many people behind the scenes in this industry that are the lifeblood of what we do. Specifically in Europe and UK, music is like air! We have such an appreciation for the audiences over here and are very excited to be back!

We were excited to hear about the yet unannounced UK tour – a nice EMP Exclusive, to which Brent replied:

‘They’re probably like ‘Brent you’re not suppose to talk about that’ and I’m like ‘no no no we’ll be back’ but.. yeah it is exclusive, 100%.’

& Brent told us who he is most excited to see live:

‘Anytime we can hang out with Maiden is a good time. I’ve never seen the Deftones! It’s us, then them and then Maiden at Download, I’m super excited about that. I am such a huge Deftones fan so that day we’ll be able to actually watch them. I’m just stoked that I get to watch the Deftones!’

On Brent Smith’s headphones:

‘I don’t think I’ve stopped listening to Spiritbox for the last two years, so finally when Eternal Blue came out it was a big deal because I am such a fan of that band, so that’s kind of been on my player religiously.’

Go-to Karaoke:

‘I’m trying to think, I don’t know, ‘Sweet Caroline?’ [laughs] I don’t think I’ve ever done Karaoke…. Back in the day when I use to drink heavy, I got up to do karaoke, there was maybe 4/5 people In the bar and I sang our version of ‘Simple Man’ and I remember the bar tender being like ‘YOU SUCK’… [laughs]… Don’t do drugs!’

Top 3 movies:

‘My favourite movie is the kind of makes people really sad, it’s Elisabeth Shue & Nicolas Cage, he actually won a nomination for best actor for it. It’s called ‘Leaving Las Vegas’. It’s probably my favourite movie of all time, there’s so much depth to it. It’s very sad but that’s not why I like it, I like it because of the performance between them is very dramatic and very real. The second would have to be probably the original Muppets movie and my third would have to be The Never-Ending story. So I have this really dark number one and then I have a thing for puppets, so there we go [laughs]

Zombie apocalypse or alien invasion:

‘I’d rather do the alien invasion because I feel like we have a good handle on what zombies are gunna do, aliens could be way more exciting, the zombie thing is a little tired now, I feel like we’ve done it enough that we kinda get it, zombies are very needy… Aliens are gunna make you work for it.’

Would you prefer to be a Jedi or a Sith?

‘I’d refer to be Jedi, I like the colour green, I need that lightsabre. The Darkside’s not calling for me, but I respect the Darkside, most of the time they were the most unloved, so if you can save them before they turn, there’s always that hope.’

If you could be a Super-hero for a day who would you be and what would you do:

‘I wouldn’t necessarily want to be a superhero, but if I had an opportunity to manage them all for a day, if I could conduct it. I don’t have to be a superhero I’d just tell them what to do for a day.’

…What about a super-villian?

‘Super villains are so complicated, and I’m not that complicated, I just don’t like being mean! Some people would say ‘he’s nice but he’s intense’, but it depends on the day of the week. I hold a lot of empathy in my heart because I still believe in people’

Brent left us with a message for his fans: 

‘Thanks for being patient, thanks for being here for us since day one, we’re coming back to see you very soon. It’s never goodbye, just until next time!’

You can watch the full interview below! Planet Zero drops July 1st! You can pre-order the new album here:

Fashion, Gaming, Movies, Music, Special



It’s International Women’s Day & we’re celebrating this very important day at EMP by celebrating women! We all know how much women rock but we can’t forget to give a little recognition to all of those awesome, empowering, strong women in our favourite movies, music and games. Celebrate with us! Whether you’re rocking out to Arch Enemy, re-visiting Assassins Creed – Odyssey as Kassandra or simply watching those legendary female ‘heroes to be’ of My Hero Academia using their unique quirks to kick ass! Join us, today we celebrate you along with the INCREDIBLE on screen power-house women that we all know and love…

So why not celebrate with us, by treating yourself to some brand new merch featuring your favourite fictional women, alternative singer or gaming character?! We’ve put together a list of our EMP top-picks in time for International Women’s Day! So, if you’re spoilt for choice, don’t worry… We’re here to help you decide!

If you’re looking for merchandise, here’s our top Women’s day clothing picks:

Hermione – Denim Jacket

Sailor Moon – Group Tee

Suicide Squad – Harley Quinn – Leather Jacket

Catwoman – Strong Girl Crop

For homeware lovers, we have a huge range of collectable figures, Cable Guy’s and kitchen-ware, these are our International Women’s Day homeware picks:

Wonder Woman – Cable Guy – Phone Holder

My Hero Academia – Tsuyu Asui – Collection Figure

Exceptionally Ordinary – Luna Lovegood – Cup

And last but certainly not last, FUNKO LOVERS, here are EMP’s top Funko POP! picks this International Women’s Day:

The Batman POP! – Selina Kyle

Eternals POP! – Sersi

Harry Potter POP! Hermione Granger

Music, Special

Slam Dunk 2021

After what felt like a lifetime without festivals or live music, here at EMP we were finally able to make our return this year! One of the awesome live events we had the pleasure of attending was Slam Dunk 2021 and what an experience it was!

Slam Dunk South was once again at Hatfield Park this year and had an incredible lineup from the likes of Don Broco, While She Sleeps, Bury Tomorrow, Skindred and more! You could really feel the joy and relief many attendees had with the return and because of the long wait, it made it feel that much better!

Slam Dunk South 2021 – Don Broco – @APERTUNES-24 – Chelsea Bakewell (Futuresound Marketin)

Check out ourFestival 21′ highlights on our Instagram stories now to see our best moments from the performances!

While rocking out with all these amazing bands, we had the pleasure to chat with some of the acts from the festival too!

Elena Marastoni from EMP first caught up with Isaac Cooter and Michael Evans from For You The Moon who has recently been signed by Slam Dunk Records and opened up The Key Club stages this year! While talking about some interesting topics like great tv-series and videos games, we also spoke about new music, collaborations and their new single ‘eightfortyfive’!

Slam Dunk South – FORYOUTHEMOON_@APERTUNES-25 – Chelsea Bakewell (Futuresound Marketin)


And we didn’t stop there! Derek Sanders and Alex Garcia from Mayday Parade stopped by for a chat, and we hoped to get a few details on their new album! As well as if they would prefer to live through a Zombie Apocalypse or an Alien Invasion. It was a tough decision!

Slam Dunk South 2021 – SOUTH_MaydayParade_@katiemcmillanphoto-1 – Chelsea Bakewell (Futuresound Marketin)

Lastly, we spoke to Chris #2 from Anti-Flag to get an insight on the messages behind the band’s music, tips for new artists and what he’s been listening to recently. It was such a pleasure to speak to this incredible artist before getting to watch the band’s awesome set!

Thanks again to Slam Dunk for having this year and to all the artists who sat down with us for their interviews! It was a great experience, and we can’t wait to return for 2022!

Did you attend Slam Dunk 2021? Let us know your favourite performance on our socials and don’t forget to follow us for more exclusive interviews and news!

Want more great festival content? Check out our YouTube playlist including interviews from Reading Festival, Bloodstock 2021 and more!

Music, Special

Gerard Way Inspired Makeup Tutorial

In a normal world, My Chemical Romance would be arriving in the UK next week to perform three shows of their reunion tour at the Milton Keynes Stadium. I managed to get tickets for the Saturday show and was really looking forward to seeing them live. Unfortunately, we now have to wait until 2021 for that experience. However, to commemorate the postponed tour, this week’s makeup tutorial is inspired by Gerard Way’s ‘red eyeshadow’ look that he often wore during the ‘Three Cheers For Sweet Revenge’ era.  This step by step guide will show you how I achieved my interpretation of this look.

*DISCLAIMER: I am not a professional make up artist, I just enjoy experimenting with makeup and have been practising for a few years. All these steps can be adjusted to suit you however you like. Makeup has no rules so just have fun! :)* 


Step 1:  Start by moisturising and priming your skin, I’m using the Benefit POREfessional face primer.

Step 2: Next, I fill in my eyebrows using the Morphe Micro Brow Pencil in the shade Mocha. I start by brushing out the hairs using the spoolie end and then I filled in the gaps in my brows using hair-like strokes with the pencil.

Step 3: Next, I take a fluffy blending brush and the shade Red Hot from the Makeup Revolution Forever Flawless Fire Palette and run it through the crease of my eye using a back and forth motion. The eyeshadow application can be as messy as you like, Gerard’s look isn’t particularly neat and it still looks awesome. I then ran the shade underneath the eye and around the outer corner.

Step 4: Taking a flat eyeshadow brush and the same shade, I then placed the colour all over the remaining portion of the eyelid. Keep adding and blending the eyeshadow until you achieve the desired effect.


Step 5: I then took the Benefit BAD gal BANG 24 Hour Eye Pencil and roughly ran it along my top lash line. Taking a small pencil brush with some of the Red Hot eyeshadow, I then smudged the eyeliner out so it appeared softer.

Step 6: Next I took the same eyeliner and ran it through my waterline. If you’re uncomfortable with waterline eyeliner than you can skip this step. First, make sure your pencil is clean by wiping it on a clean tissue. Then, gently pull the skin under your eye to reveal your waterline and softly run the pencil along the waterline and lower lash line. Then, taking the small pencil brush, smudge out the eyeliner on the lash line.

Step 7: I chose to curl my eyelashes before applying the mascara but this isn’t a necessity. For mascara, I used the Benefit BADgal Bang Volumising Mascara and applied a few coats onto my top and bottom eyelashes. *side note* I’m aware that a lot of Benefit products have been used in this tutorial as I’m a fan of the brand, however, there are many drugstore alternatives that can be used instead that work just as well.

Step 8: For foundation, I took the Loreal Paris Infallible 24 Hour Freshwear Foundation (as you can see, mine is used often) and a large fluffy blending brush. I blend the foundation into my skin using circular motions.  As Gerard uses a very light foundation, I decided to take the lightest shade in my Makeup Revolution Ultra Creme Contour Palette and blended it lightly on top of the foundation using my Real Techniques Beauty Blender.

Step 9: I took my Makeup Revolution Conceal and Define Concealer in the shade C0.5 and applied it under my eyes, on my chin, in the centre of my forehead and on the tip of my nose. I then blended that all in using the Real Techniques beauty blender. When blending underneath the eyes, be careful not to cover any of the eyeshadow already placed there.

Step 10: I then set that all in place using the Rimmel Stay Matte Pressed Powder and a flat top face brush. Instead of sweeping the powder over the skin, I prefer to lightly press the brush into the skin to ensure all the liquid and creme products used before arent moved or disturbed in any way. As Gerard’s look has barely any colour in the skin, I didn’t use any bronzers or blushers.

Step 11: To complete the look, I used the KIKO 3D Hydra Lipgloss in the shade 20 Chestnut on my lips.

Grab yourself some MCR merch here and then you’re ready to pretend you’re attending one of their shows this year!

– Chloe Berrell


HAWXX – Interview with Hannah Staphnill!

We had the pleasure of interviewing Hannah Staphnill, guitarist of HAWXX – an amazing all-female up and coming band!

Named after the bird of prey, with the double XX symbolising the double XX female chromosome. HAWXX write songs that reflect the lies of our current political climate, about self empowerment and how love’s a bitch.

Read the interview below and make sure you check out their new single ‘Deadlands‘!

How are you? How are you dealing with isolation and social distancing?

We’re missing each other! Getting very jealous of bands where members live together. We want to play and eat and drink together again!
Other than that, a mixture of fine and terrible.


When quarantine is over, who’s the first person you want to hug, first place you want to visit and first band you want to see live?

We want to hug each other, IN A PUB, and then get on stage!


How did it feel to win the PRS Women Make Music Award?

Genuinely screamed when we found out – it’s such an honour and amazing to think they see that potential in us – their support means a lot.


You’ve recently released your latest single ‘Deadlands’, what has the response to it been like so far?

It’s been great! It’s probably had the biggest number of streams within the first couple of weeks than any other track. Seems to have really resonated with our Israeli fanbase as the last I checked we had 1k listeners in Israel alone! It’s been great to see people connecting with the track.


Which of your latest singles is your favourite and why?

I guess we shouldn’t really have favourites as good song parents!


Does the band have any musical influences?

The band has so many influences! We are all lovers of all things heavy like Gojira, Deftones, Meshuggah and Tool but there is also a big influence from singer songwriters/poets in terms of lyrics and melody like Kate Tempest, PJ Harvey, Anna Calvi and Patti Smith.

We also all come from very different musical backgrounds – I come from a classical music background, Anna comes from a Greek folk/ classical music background and Jess and Iman come from a jazz background.


What bands/artists have you been listening to the most while in isolation?

Karnivool, Bjork, Kate Tempest, Code Orange, Deftones, Meshuggah, PJ Harvey, Angel Olsen, King Crimson


If you could be a superhero for a day, who would you be and what would you do?

I mean..if we didnt do something about Corona, we’d be dicks. Anti-viral Girls?


Do you have any favourite TV series that you could recommend to us?

I’m watching John Oliver‘s Last Week Tonight weekly, catching up on Walking Dead. Not a TV Series but I’ve just completed Lifers podcast with Ed Gamble on Spotify – he talks to musicians about their lives in the metal world and would def recommend that- really interesting.


Are any of you gamers? If so, which games do you play?

I’m in to my retro games on my Raspberry Pi – did a whole evening of drinking and Street Fighter recently. I’m from the school of mashing the buttons until something happens.


What can we expect from Hawxx in 2020?

A lot of social media action! We’ve been coming up with creative ways of getting HAWXX out there now that we’re not gigging so do follow us! (@hawxxmusic)

You can also expect a few more singles and hopefully an EP launch on October 8th at The Black Heart, Camden.


All Time Low – ‘Wake Up, Sunshine’ Album Review

I believe it’s safe to say that 2020 has been a difficult year for everyone. Luckily, there have been some incredible new album releases to help aid us through this tough time. One of my personal favourites has been All Time Low’s ‘Wake up, Sunshine’. For their eighth album, the Baltimore pop-punkers didn’t hold back, producing 15 exciting tracks that are guaranteed to have you dancing. After hearing the singles ‘Some Kind Of Disaster’ in January and ‘Sleeping in’ back in February, I had high hopes for the album. I particularly enjoyed hearing these tracks live for the first time when the band played The Garage in London on February 21st. Little did I know there were even better tracks to come.

After listening to the album for the first time, ‘Monsters’ (featuring American rapper ‘blackbear’) was the track that ended up sticking in my head all day. The catchy chorus and relatable lyrics really caught my attention. At first, I was unsure when I saw the feature from blackbear as I personally don’t listen to his music, however, his contribution pleasantly surprised me. The title track ‘Wake Up, Sunshine’ was another song I really enjoyed. It has a 00’s pop-punk sound and a softer sounding bridge to contradict the chorus. ‘Melancholy Kaleidoscope’ is another that stands out to me as it masks its gloomy lyrical themes of seasonal depression with a catchy melody and fun rhythm that I can’t help but dance to.


As well as having blackbear feature on the album, All Time Low also collaborated with ‘The Band CAMINO’ for the track ‘Favorite Place’. The song didn’t interest me much at first, however, after listening a few more times, I caught myself passionately singing along to the powerful chorus. ‘Getaway Green’ is a track that the band played for the first time at Slam Dunk Festival 2019 and then again at their intimate UK shows in February. I remember dancing at the London show as soon as the first verse kicked in and I still dance every time I hear it on the album now. ‘Clumsy’ is a fan favourite song that is very quickly growing on me. I’m beginning to really love the emotional lyrics and dynamic melodies, particularly in the chorus.


The rest of the album has some strong highlights like the sombre tones in ‘Pretty Venom (Interlude)’ and the supreme guitar riffs in ‘Summer Daze (Seasons pt 2.)’. The album ends on track ‘Basement Noise’ which is definitely one of my least favourites on the album, but it’s still a great testament to how much the band has grown with the lyric “stupid boys in the basement” repeating throughout the song.


All Time Low managed to create an album that includes all the best elements of their 7 previous records while also adding a modern edge. It’s an album that appeals to both old and new ATL fans. Even music lovers who have never heard an ATL track before will love this record if they’re looking for upbeat, fun songs to dance to during lockdown. For me, the album reminds me of growing up in the early 2000’s listening to my favourite pop-punk bands while dancing around my bedroom. This nostalgic summer album oozes with optimism, which is what everyone needs in a time like this.


Order ‘Wake Up, Sunshine‘ online from EMP and don’t forget to check out our All Time Low merch.


Chloe Berrell


Tool – Fear Inoculum Album Review

I knew reviewing a Tool album, especially one that’s been anticipated for so long, would be difficult but I decided to take on the daunting challenge in order to fully rationalise my own thoughts on the album and hopefully share sentiments on it that will resonate with others. However, I fully welcome contrasting opinions as I firmly believe that music is subjective and album reviews should never sway anyone into viewing a record as intrinsically good or bad. Album reviews are opinions, and mine is that the new Tool album rocks!

I didn’t think so right away – it took a few listens to come to that conclusion. As with every Tool album, and most progressive rock/metal records, repeated listens are required to fully absorb the intricacies and for the hooks to sink in.

My initial opinion after my first listen was that it was an interesting album with some spectacular moments but it didn’t stand out enough from the rest of their catalogue and didn’t fully warrant the hype given their reported meticulous approach to writing the songs. I remembered listening to 10,000 Days (their last album) for the first time and noticing a clear evolution in sound from Lateralus (the album before it). In this case I felt that the typical Tool tropes, picking patterns and chord progressions felt slightly too familiar despite being extremely well executed and jaw-droppingly technical.

That naturally started to change as the album called me back for second, third and fourth listens. The way the songs swell, crawl and contort is extremely compelling. Despite the songs being centred around particular motifs, new elements are frequently introduced in unexpected places which creep up on the listener and take the songs in exciting new directions. Yes, it is all done in a way that sounds unmistakably like Tool but to be honest that’s not a bad thing! In an age where so many popular bands follow trends and imitate each other, Tool should be applauded for finding a sound that listeners immediately recognise as belonging to them. It’s not easy to take a singer, guitar, bass and drums and find a sound which is distinct from the thousands of artists who have used those instruments to make music before you.

Although I do still believe that 10,000 Days was a stronger evolution in sound from Lateralus than Fear Inoculum is from 10,000 Days, I feel that Fear Inoculum introduces enough new ideas to keep it fresh. Also, I was only 16 when 10,000 Days came out and wasn’t as familiar with Tool’s discography as I am now – context is important kids!

The new elements I am referring to include EVEN longer songs than usual, synths, bass chugs, a drum solo (!) and a vocal timbre and delivery employed by Maynard which he usually reserves for his other band A Perfect Circle. Although each member is a master of his craft and they all get moments to shine, Danny Carey’s drumming is particularly impressive. His drum solo on the track Chocolate Chip Trip is a personal highlight and the range of techniques he uses is astounding – there’s even drumming on the track 7empest which wouldn’t sound out of place on a metalcore song!

7empest, which recalls the fury of their earlier material, is probably my favourite track from the album, followed closely by Invincible and Pneuma. 7empest closes the album on an epic note and contains the album’s most memorable and climactic moments. However, this brings me to one of my few gripes with the album. Some of the crescendos on this album, of which there are many, don’t fully deliver at their peaks and that’s primarily due to the guitar tone. To put it bluntly, the heavy parts don’t sound heavy enough! In all the other parts of the songs, the guitar tones are stellar, but the more abrasive riffs don’t have enough grit to do them justice.

The same can be said for most other Tool albums though. The guitar tones are just Tool being Tool and I feel like that’s a good way of summarising the album. I get the impression that this is exactly the album that Tool wanted to make and they haven’t been pressured by outside influences into compromising on any front.

Tool are pioneers and I’m glad they’re still around today. They created a compelling blend of brooding 90s alternative metal with psychedelic progressive rock, completely bereft of any of the cheesy qualities the genre is traditionally associated with, which is, in my opinion, extremely commendable. However to reiterate; just because I enjoy it that doesn’t mean I expect everyone else to as well. The technical nature of the music impresses and engages me but I can understand it being off-putting for other listeners.

I give the album an 8/10 and am keen to hear what other people think (as long as it’s something more thoughtful than ‘this band sucks’).

Check out our Tool merch here!

Written by Anthony Best