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band interview

Music

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.

EMP, Music

We Came As Romans – Forever remembered in loving eyes

We came As Romans has always been in the top 5 of my favourite bands, I will go so far as to say that their album “Understanding What We’ve Grown To Be” is a metalcore masterpiece. That album does something cool that it got 12 tracks, the first 5 is very dark and negative and lead writer Joshua Moore talks about his own flaws as a human, the 6th track “A War Inside” is 5 minutes long and in the middle of the song almost down to the second there is a piano break and from that point the album switched themes to something positive and the next 5 songs is about overcoming mental illness, just spread love and be kind to each other, before ending with a reflection in the last song that also is the title track. I could honestly talk about that album and why its brilliant for hours. As you can probably tell I am a huge We Came As Romans fan and unfortunately for me the show sold out before I could get tickets so I panic-emailed their press contact hoping to get an interview and a guest list spot, and I luckily did!

I came to Underworld a normal May day, the sky was grey as is tradition in London and the temperature was fairly warm. The first band was hours away but already the queue almost went around the block, which is understandable with a brilliant line up consisting of Polaris, The Plot In You, Alazka, and of course We Came As Romans everything was in the cards that it would be a brilliant night!

I got a text from the tour-manager to meet him behind the venue and he would take me in the backdoor, the walls inside were covered in stickers, and I was just mesmerized by all the shows that had taken place in the venue. So much history on these prisonesque walls. After a short set of stairs, I was in the surprisingly big greenroom, all the bands were chilling with their stuff. Drinks were being consumed and Dave (unclean vocals WCAR) sat on his mac in the corner. I was meeting Josh (lead guitar) and David (drummer) but Josh had disappeared so while the TM was hunting him down I got to have a short talk with Kyle which in retrospect is something I will forever cherish. After Josh had been located we headed to the tour bus and had a 20 min talk you can check in this video.

The interview wrapped up and I headed inside to catch the show, and what a show! Every band completely knocked it out of the park. I stood so close to barrier as I could and kept getting kicked in the back of my head by crowd surfers, which most of the time is a sure sign of a good show. The newcomers in the scene Polaris did put on a great show, and I am really convinced they are a band that we will see grow and grow. The Plot in You is a band I have enjoyed for a long time and was excited to see them Landon is an extremely strong vocalist and the emotion he conveys in his voice is second to none. Alazka the co-headliner was probably the band I was least familiar with, but after their set I would definitely call myself a fan.
We Came As Romans however, wow. What a set. They started off with Vultures With Clipped Wings and the second Dave screamed “I never found peace, but now I am fighting a war” people went insane and was just in awe song after song. David and Kyle did a duo thing in the middle of the set combining a drum solo with an EDM sound and even that made people jump. It was the first show in a long time I wish wouldn’t end but alas during their second to last song “Tracing Back Roots” I had to back down to the bar and get a million litres of water before dying of dehydration. The show ended with them playing “Hope” and even with aching bones and a ringing in my ears me and so many others went home with a smile on their faces.

 

But, to end this with the elephant in the room… After the production of this video finished We Came As Romans vocalist Kyle Pavone sadly passed away.

Because of that I was honestly struggling to write this blog. For weeks I stared at the screen trying to come up with what to say. If I wrote it just after the show I’d be fine, if I wrote it in July I’d be fine, if I wrote it August 24th I’d be fine, everything before August 25th would be fine, but since its currently October 1st I have to struggle to hold back the tears thinking back to seeing a show I absolutely loved and will never be able to see again. I remember when in 2016 Architects‘ guitarist Tom Searle died of cancer it hit me like a brick, then last year when Chester Bennington died I saw the article and had to go to the backroom of the 7/11 I worked at the time just to have a decent cry and listen to some Linkin Park. And now just over a month ago, I was on holiday in my home country (Norway) having a beer with some friends and having a good time before getting a text from a friend saying “Kyle Pavone is dead.”…

 

It felt like time stopped for a second, I refused to believe it, thinking it was a messed up joke. But at one point I had to accept the truth. I guess in the end you just have to appreciate the music we got from Kyle and try to take a lesson from him, mainly that life kinda suck, but that doesn’t mean we cannot make it a bit less shit by trying to spread love, make other people smile and live for each other. Rest in peace Kyle, in “Promise me” you worry about not being remembered after your passing, but I can assure you: you will be remembered in loving eyes.

Our thoughts go out to the band and Kyle’s family and friends. Please check out The Kyle Pavone Foundation that works to help people in the music community that are struggling with mental illness or addiction. https://kylepavonefoundation.org/

– Alex Dante

Check out We Came As Romans and more band merch here! 👉 emp.me/177Y

BACKSTAGE, EMP, Music, Special

Bloodstock Festival 2018

Of All the metal festivals I’ve been to in the UK, Europe & across America, Bloodstock is easily one of my favourites. I’ve personally been going since 2010, I even played on the mainstage in 2016 (which was incredible). The atmosphere amongst fans is always amazing. For those of you who haven’t been yet, its family friendly, easy to get around, no overcrowding, you don’t have to pay £20 for a beer, the food is great and caters for all tastes. And of course the line-up is always diverse (as much as it can be in rock / metal).

About 50% of my friendship circle I have today, I made at a Bloodstock Festival, as did most people I know. The best bit is that Bloodstock was made by the fans for the fans, even way back in 2001 but back then it was held in 2,000 capacity indoor venue that the MIGHTY Saxon headlined. In 2005, it went open air and most Bloodstock goers now simply name it as “Home”.

EMP were there of course, we had a stall in-between the signing tent and the mainstage where we were selling some of our merchandise and handing out cool EMP freebies. Best of all, we got to meet some really great people and of course, see some excellent bands play!

Bloodstock starts on the Thursday evening and the second stage (which is named after Sophie Lancaster  – R.I.P) is the only one open until things really start on Friday. Everyone goes there to hang out, catch up with friends and watches the first bands of the festival, which obviously means party night. So, when it comes to the 1st actual day of the festival there are a lot of hangovers walking around on that field in Catton Park.

The main headliners of the weekend were Judas Priest (seriously, how awesome is their new album?!), Gojira and Nightwish. There are 3 stages all within a few minutes walking distance of each other: The Ronnie James Dio mainstage, The Sophie Lancaster second stage and the New Blood stage. Now the New Blood stage deserves a special mention here: The line-up is made of winners of the Metal 2 The Masses competition which is held all over the UK each year which gives the opportunity to up and coming bands to play at a big festival, expand their fan base and gain exposure – how cool is that! If you are an up and coming rock/metal band I highly recommend you check it out and enter. Its run by Bloodstock’s Simon Hall (legend) and EMP are a part of this too, we sponsor the finals – cool right!

The 3 days of Bloodstock for Team EMP were a fun chaotic mix of selling lots of merchandise, handing out a ton of EMP freebies, chatting to EMP customers about anything and everything, getting rained on, getting burnt by the sun, eating good food and amongst all this we even had the pleasure of interviewing some really cool bands!

These are just some of the friends old and new that we caught up with:

Blakkheim and Axe of Bloodbath
Henrik of Evergrey
Hamish of Godthrymm (who’s also my fellow guitarist and dear friend in Vallenfyre)
Lord Ragnar Wagner of The Heretic Order
Dan of Monument (video below)
Brady of Conjurer
Raimund of Nailed to Obscurity (fun fact – Raimund works at EMP too!)
Josh and Morgan of Bloodshot Dawn
Chris of Act of Defiance (cheers for the coffee!)
Karl of Memoriam (previously of Bolt Thrower)
Matt and Jason of Weight of The Tide

Huge thanks goes out to all of those guys for their time as I know they all probably had beers waiting for them to drink somewhere.

My personal highlights of the festival was watching Hamish of Godthrymm perform on the Sophie Stage, watching Henrik of Evergrey playing guitar in a way that I can only dream about, witnessing Negative Thought Process absolutely destroy the New Blood Stage just like I knew they would and seeing Gojira headlining the festival on the Saturday night – that was absolutely Incredible. It was a real “I was there!” moment to look back on in years to come!

This is my first year as the Event Manager for EMP so it was my first time working for EMP at Bloodstock and I must say that I met some great people over the 3 – 4 days there. So to those of you who came to visit us, chatted to us, bought merchandise from us, we thank you!

None of this would have been possible without the support of the Bloodstock team – Adam Gregory, Simon Hall, Alan Hungerford and your crew, we can’t thank you guys enough.

See you in 2019 Bloodstock, Cheers!

Sam Kelly-Wallace
EMP Events Manager UK & IE

BACKSTAGE, EMP, Music, Special

Of Mice & Men – The Story Of Resilience and Sacrifice

I don’t know if you ever read the depression-era masterpiece “Of Mice & Men” by John Steinbeck growing up? I never did but I did see a YouTube recap before writing this blog and I can see why the California based metalcore band took their name from the book. Of Mice & Men have always been ambitious, but even with their success they’ve faced their fair share of challenges. When Shayley Bourget (now Dayshell frontman) left the band in 2012, people thought the band was dead, but the band were adamant on keeping on  Jaime’s Elsewhere vocalist Aaron Pauley to the line-up as clean vocalist and bassist, and kept going with their 3rd album “Restoring Force”.

The band kept going for a few years until December 2016 when frontman Austin Carlile decided to focus on his health. Of Mice & Men being one of the heavy hitters in metalcore were now faced with an ultimatum: do they throw in the towel after losing Austin or do they keep going as 4 piece? The very fact that I’m writing this now should hint to their choice. Now they recently released “Defy” their newest album, to a decent reception, and when I talked to them they were closing in on the end of the European leg of their tour with Sylar and Wage War!

I arrive at KOKO in London late afternoon and after a quick chat with the fans waiting in line (you with the Shrek mask, if you read this say hi!) I got a text that it was time. I got to chill a bit backstage before Aaron and Tino came in and had a quick chat while setting up, and we got to chat a bit about touring, albums and me managing to mispronounce Tino’s name 5 minutes after meeting. Anyway check out the interview below and enjoy!

Check out our Of Mice & Men and more band merch!

BACKSTAGE, EMP, Music, Special

Metal Hammer Golden Gods Awards – An evening with Parkway Drive, Ozzy Osbourne and a lot of fire

Us metalheads have to face the harsh truth that the Grammy’s is never going to acknowledge our genre. It is true that they give out an award for “Best metal performance” but it’s usually announced before the actual show during an un-televised event where the house band introduce Megadeth with “Master Of Puppets” and the bands just show up for the open bar. Luckily the magazine Metal Hammer decided to take matters into their own hands and founded the “Golden Gods Awards” in 2003. EMP have been invited to many over the years and here we’re going to give you the low down on what happened on the 16th anniversary!

The evening started off on the black carpet. Artists and journalists alike were all excited to see who would take the awards home and were all mingling in front of the media wall sharing laughs and stories. I had the honour of once again bumping into Betraying the MartyrsAaron Matts, whom the observant EMP follower would know I interviewed a few months ago and we had a quick catch-up before heading upstairs to catch the main event!

 

 

The show started off with a hilarious MC warming up the crowd, mostly by making us yell, growl and scream in a matter that took me back to my college days studying music. After the vocal warm-up, the show started with a brilliant performance from “Carpenter Brut” firing the starting gun. After a performance with a ton of energy to make sure the crowd was in a good mood, it was time for the awards.

The time from there on out flew by! The ever so talented Jamey Jasta from Hatebreed guided us through the nominees and guest presenters brilliantly and it was exhilarating seeing bands like Wolves in The Throne Room and Code Orange getting the awards and recognition they deserved! (full list of winners at the end of the blog)

After the first half of the awards the stage was made ready for the band that would win the Inspiration Award later in the evening: Meshuggah! Meshuggah, to no one’s surprise, delivered an amazing show with great songs and a performance for the ages, showing that even though they have been around a while and are starting to get older, they have no intention of stopping! After the progressive-djent metal that is Meshuggah wrapped up their last song, it was time for an acoustic performance by Myrkur! She walked on stage with a cello and a single drum preforming a haunting song that instantly took you to the dark forests of Scandinavia with trolls and hulders – a truly a mesmerizing performance that proved she was worthy the “Best album” award. The last band before the second half of awards were Grammy nominated band Baroness. Baroness preformed a set that combined punk and sludge in a fun way and was the perfect choice to wake up the audience before the last half of the awards with heavy hitter awards like the “Icon” and “Golden God Award”!

 

The second half of the show starts of Jamey Jasta making some jokes and once again introducing guest presenters to give out awards like “Defenders of Faith” and the “Inspiration award” One of the highlights however was the “Global Metal Award” that made its debut this year, and the recipient Kaoteon from Beirut was well deserving. Kaoteon came from a world where they’ve been arrested and beaten simply for playing the music they love; they truly deserve our respect for standing steadfast and facing adversary for the genre we all love. The last award of the evening however was the famous “Golden God” award introduced by none other than Zakk Wylde himself honoring the winner Ozzy Osbourne with a brilliant speech about Ozzy’s accomplishments throughout a 50-year long career. After Ozzy received the award with a simple “Thank you, it’s an honor” it was time for the main event and fresh “Defender of The Faith” winner: Parkway Drive!

Parkway Drive is a band I’ve seen 4 times already and their shows always include a lot of fire – something which the fire department in Oslo, Norway can attest to after a show I went to 2016 where front man Winston got a bit too excited playing with flares. This show also included a lot of pyro and the stage production quality was through the roof with drummer Ben Gordon spending a large portion of the set playing upside down in a huge hamster-wheel! The set (which I wish never ended) flew by playing both new and old songs; but alas it had to come to an end and with it a brilliant evening honouring the musicians and bands we all love.

 

 

 

I must give a huge thank you to Metal Hammer for putting this together. Metal is a wonderful genre in that it’s so vast and inclusive: you could stand in the crowd and see strangers from all walks of life hugging and having a great time because at the end of the day, we were all there sharing the same passion and same love; and with that it’s okay that the Grammys might not ever properly acknowledge us. Us metalheads are a huge family with friends at every show, and that shared community is worth more than all of Kanye West’s awards multiplied by 4. (he got 231 if you were wondering)

-Alex Dante

All the winners:

Best New Band: Lovebites

Best Underground Band: Wolves in The Throne Room

Best UK Band: Judas Priest

Best International Band: Arch Enemy

Best Event: Download Festival

Best Live Band: Lacuna Coil

Best Independent Label: Sumerian Records

Breakthrough Artist: Code Orange

Riff Lord: Wes Borland

Defender Of The Faith: Parkway Drive

Inspiration: Meshuggah

Best Album: Myrkur“Mareridt”

Global Metal Award: Kaoteon

Spirit Of Hammer: Jessica Pimentel

Icon: James Keenan

Golden God: Ozzy Osbourne

BACKSTAGE, EMP, Music, Special

Venom Prison – UK Death Metal at its Finest

Venom Prison formed in 2014 and in the space of 4 years they have become one of the leading up and coming UK death metal bands.

In April, they embarked on a European tour supporting Trivium and I caught up with vocalist Larissa Stupar and guitarists Ash Gray and Benn Tomas before the show at London’s Brixton Academy speaking about all things Venom Prison and gaming:

 

After the interview, Venom Prison got ready to hit the stage and I went into the venue to get ready for the aural assault that they were about to unleash upon us. Brixton Academy is the biggest venue on the tour and when they appear on stage, they bring with them a wall of technical death metal that is not only played super tight (no easy feat) but with also so much energy that any newcomers to the band can’t help but be impressed.

Circle pits appear and Larrisa is dominating the crowd as Ben and Ash lay down riff after riff of technical brilliance. They are clearly on top of their game; I’ve seen them before and they were awesome but this show… this is something special and I cannot wait to hear what comes next from them. Like they said in the interview, a new album is being recorded in July so keep an eye out for that but in the meantime check out their debut album “Animus” and more band merch if you haven’t already!

Sam Kelly-Wallace
EMP Events Managers UK & IE

Venom Prison socials:
Facebook: www.facebook.com/venomprison
Instagram & Twitter: @venomprison

BACKSTAGE, EMP, Music, Special

Interview with Aaron Matts from Betraying The Martyrs – London

Formed in 2008, Betraying The Martyrs is the perfect example of English and French cooperation, after releasing 3 albums they have proved themselves as a consistent and solid band known for heavy death-growls and incredible piano leads courtesy of their clean vocalist and keys player Victor Guillet.

I was lucky enough to sit down with their frontman Aaron Matts back in March when they played Borderline in London where we talked pineapple on pizza, their latest album and touring in America. See the interview below:

 

After a chat and a drink we went each to our own, and I got ready for the show. The opening bands “From Sorrow to Serenity” and “Modern Day Babylon” played tight sets and were perfect to get the crowd ready for the main event!

The show being in a tiny bar without a barrier already told me this would be a show for the books! Out walks Aaron and the rest of the band ready to go, towering over the crowd in an almost religious manner, and from the first note the crowd went insane. I stood as close to the stage as possible, turned around for a second and there I see a late 40’s Irish guy I met a few hours earlier going mental in the pit together with strangers from all walks of life.

For the next 45 minutes or so the entire room was taken by an incredible energy and Betraying the Martyrs sounded stronger than ever! There were mosh pits, jumping and hugs all around – even though we were all strangers, everyone was friends during that show. After the set, all the bands hung out at the merch table sharing laughs and having drinks, showing there were no room for egos on this tour.

All in all, the experience was incredible and if you haven’t seen Betraying the Martyrs but are intrigued after hearing their music, definitely go if you have the chance, and I hope to meet you the next time they are in London!

Check out our Betraying the Martyrs and more band merch!

-Alex Dante